Remember what I said about the relationship between charity and evangelism? Here’s a tip: Be careful in Uzbekistan.
Forum 18 relates the story of a woman who runs a charity in Uzbekistan, and has been the target of harassment by the secret police. Marina Kalinkina
rejects accusations that she was conducting illegal religious activity. She stresses that her charity – which is registered with Tashkent’s justice department – helps old people and impoverished families. “On the day the police descended on us, we were celebrating the birthday of an old man to whom we had given financial help,” she told Forum 18. “It was not a religious meeting. Yes, I did pray to God before the meal – but who can stop me doing that in my own home? Nor do I believe that I am breaking the law when I discuss religious issues with my guests.”
The problem according to authorities is that Kalinkina doesn’t draw an artificial line between her “faith” and her “works.”
Begzot Kadyrov, chief specialist at the department for non-Muslim faiths at the Uzbek government’s religious affairs committee, defended the measures taken against her. “Kalinkina’s main problem is that she registered her organisation as a charitable rather than religious enterprise,” he told Forum 18 from Tashkent on 18 July. “There is nothing about religious activity in Dustlig Kuprigi’s statute. Yet in fact Kalinkina is preaching to people. In other words, she is doing the work of an unregistered religious organisation, and that is forbidden under Uzbek law.”