Moonies in Kyrgyzstan

by Nathan Hamm on 7/17/2006

Last week, Forum 18 reported that evangelism by local Protestants in southern Kyrgyzstan has angered Muslims and led the government to pressure Protestant churches and consider a ban on proselytization. While the government may not be too keen on local Protestants, some are upset at the government’s warm welcome to the Unification Church.

The scandal began when Hak Ja Han, the wife of the Unification Church’s founder, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, arrived in Kyrgyzstan on June 18, and was feted by leading politicians and academics at a formal ceremony shown on national television.

At the ceremony, certificates conferring the honorary title of “ambassador of peace” were handed out to a district government chief in Bishkek, the head of the Kyrgyz committee of UNESCO, and four university and college rectors.

The reaction that followed was swift, and highly critical of the decision by officials to publicly align themselves with the Unification Church.

I can’t help but think that this makes the pressure on local Protestants from government officials look even worse.


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Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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