When her 76-year-old mother died on 13th October in Kyrgyzstan, Jyldyz had nowhere to bury her.
The local Orthodox Church in Sary-Talaa refused permission for her to be interred in their cemetery, because, although she was a Christian, she was not from the Orthodox Church. Village imams also refused to allow her to be buried in the Muslim cemetery, as Jyldyz’s mother had converted to Christianity from Islam.
Jyldyz appealed to local authorities, who gave permission for the burial in another village. However, residents there also objected and forced officials to dig up the body. The district imam then gathered local Muslims and threatened to stone Jyldyz, demanding that she convert to Islam.
Jyldyz explained what happened to Barnabas Fund: “They asked me to leave Christianity and convert to Islam … They wanted it to be a lesson for others. They demanded I say the shahada [the Islamic creed, recitation of which is considered conversion to Islam]. I could not and the imam publicly began to laugh at me … I asked if they would allow me to bury my mother because the corpse had lain for two days and begun to decay.”
The Muslims still refused to allow the burial, but village authorities eventually gave Jyldyz a place to bury her mother on a plot next to the town’s Muslim cemetery. However, a few days later, local police and Muslims dug up the body again, accusing Jyldyz of moving it.
Her mother was subsequently laid to rest in another location, although there are unconfirmed reports that her body has again been disinterred. Jyldyz has now been forced to leave the village for own safety as a result of aggression from her neighbours, and she does not know where her mother is buried.
Kygyzstan’s population is almost 90% Muslim. Unregistered religious activity is banned and believers from Muslim backgrounds have repeatedly encountered problems securing places to bury their loved ones.
- Pray for Jyldyz, and many Kyrgyz Muslim background believers facing similar issues around burying their family members. Pray for peace in the midst of the harassment, and for resolution to this ongoing problem.
- Pray for the Kyrgyz government to take measures to provide places of burial for Kyrgyz believers, and to recognise their rights to a safe place to bury their loved ones.
- Pray for protection for Kyrgyz Muslim background believers who face threats, harassment and ostracism from their families and communities because of their faith.
- Pray for the Kyrgyz Church as it faces growing opposition from Muslim communities and the government. Pray for unity, strength of faith and for their witness to reflect the heart of Jesus for the Kyrgyz people and as relevant and real to this culture.
Isaiah 61 vs 8: “For I the Lord love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.”