October 2018, Astana is to host the VI
Congress of World Religions.
The main theme, “Religious leaders for safe world”, is in the
mainstream of the Kazakhstan Leader Narsultan Nazarbayev’s policy.
On one hand, Astana declares its leadership in the dialogue between
civilizations, on the other it is deeply concerned with security and
religious extremism issues.
the conference participants would discuss the latest changes in
Kazakhstan's religious legislation. Last year, the country's
government adopted a Concept
of State policy in the Religious sphere for 2017-2020 years,
and prepared a bill
on amendments to a number of laws on religious activities and
updates prove that after the shocking Aktobe shootings on 5 June
2016, security measures are more and more prevailing in the
government’s religious policy while infringing the rights of
believers. In this connection, foreign human rights organizations
express their concerns. For example, the 2017
of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)
reads: “domestic conditions for freedom of religion or belief and
other civil liberties deteriorated in 2016.” Because of this fact,
Kazakhstan was again placed by the USCIRF in Tier 2 in 2017, where it
has been since 2013.
to the common opinion of Kazakhstan’s religious communities, the
adopted Concept promotes a corrupted image of “secularity” as the
national ideology. Furthermore, the changes to the legislation
introduced to Parliament contradict both with this Concept and the
ban on discussing faith matters in the media, restriction of
missionary activity and impediments in religious education are in
odds with the Concept’s principles on promoting religious education
and culture. Such measures won’t protect the country’s society
from inter-confessional conflicts but will likely strengthen mutual
distrust between believers.
bill’s authors plan to restrict children under the age of 16 from
attending religious services while not being accompanied by one of
the parents and without a written consent of the other. Such a hasty
decision would actually bar children from excursions to religious
sites and monuments, pilgrimage. Vacations at camps organized by
religious communities will also be outlawed. This clearly violates
the Constitution’s Article 35 dedicated to the children’s rights.
the responsibility for compliance with this requirement is to be laid
upon religious organizations. Thus they are simply forced to drive
the faithful and just curious teenagers out of houses of prayers in
the fear of fines and three-month suspension of their activities. It
would be equal to putting a big lock on the door to scare off people.
Eventually, the full-scale activities of religious organizations
become simply impossible. So does the realization of constitutional
rights of the Kazakh people to freely express their religious views.
Believers, making up about 80% of the country’s society, will have
to practise religion at home to evade accusations of missionary.
Initiative on amendments to the religious laws provides prospects for
exactions while alternative ways to realize the rights of believers
haven’t been introduced yet. Bans
have led to some absurd situations mostly affecting the
representatives of religious minorities. For once, human rights
activists had to fight for the freedom of Protestant minister Yuri
sentenced in 2016 to two years in prison on far-fetched charges.
Alongside with him, Orthodox
Kazakhstan’s second largest denomination, were fined. The bases for
the penalties were an attempt to disseminate the book about the Life
of St. Sergius of Radonezh and an ad for a self-made picture of the
repercussions prove the bill hasn’t been properly scrutinized yet.
One of the reasons may be the under-qualified officials who decided
to completely suspend religious life instead of identifying extremist
organizations and destructive cults.
the leaders of world and traditional religions would suggest to the
Kazakh government better ways of fighting national security threats
related to religion unless the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation
built in 2006 especially for inter-confessional conferences would not
be dismantled as undermining Astana’s news perception of
Press release distributed by Pressat on behalf of Boiko Hristov, on Friday 19 January, 2018. For more information subscribe and follow https://pressat.co.uk/