Kazakhstan Passes Restrictive Religion Law

Discussion in 'International Politics' started by pmaitra, Oct 14, 2011.

  1. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011
    Kazakhstan Passes Restrictive Religion Law

    By AP / PETER LEONARD
    (ALMATY, Kazakhstan) — Kazakhstan's president on Thursday approved a bill tightening registration rules for religious groups that has been described by critics as a blow to freedom of belief in the ex-Soviet nation.

    Supporters of the bill signed into law by Nursultan Nazarbayev say it will help combat religious extremism, an issue that has come to the fore after a series of Islamist-linked attacks in the west of the country over the summer.(See photos of Islamic Kazakhstan.)

    The law will require existing religious organizations in the mainly Muslim nation to dissolve and register again through a procedure that is all but guaranteed to exclude smaller groups, including minority Christian communities. It will also impose a ban on prayer in the workplace.

    Passage of the bill marks a reversal of Nazarbayev's earlier attempts to cast Kazakhstan as a land of religious tolerance.(See TIME's specials on religion.)

    To register locally, a faith group must now be able to provide evidence of 50 members. To register at a regional level, requires 500 members. The most complicated procedure will be registering nationwide, which requires a group to have 5,000 members across the country's regions.

    "Several minority religious groups do not have the required number of members and would be prohibited from continuing their activities and subject to fines if they disobey," the Washington-based democracy watchdog Freedom House said in a statement last month.

    Felix Corley, editor of Forum 18, a Norwegian-based religious freedom advocacy group, said a second separate law also signed Thursday amends legislation on religion to broaden the range of offenses subject to punitive action.

    "These two new laws ... undermine everyone's freedom of religion or belief and, as local human rights defenders have pointed out, are part of a wider picture of increasing governmental controls on society," Corley told The Associated Press.

    The laws have been passed at a speed that has upset many activists, who say there was insufficient public discussion on the issue.

    Backers of the revised law argue that the legislation is necessary to fight extremism and stem the influence of radical cults.

    Authorities have been unsettled by an uncharacteristic outburst of Islamist-inspired violence in the oil-rich western regions over the summer in which several police officers were killed.

    Source: Kazakhstan Passes Restrictive Religion Law - TIME
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2011
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  3. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    Travels Through Islam: Fragments of Kazakhstan

    Photo Essay

    Thursday, July 28, 2011 | By Carolyn Drake | 3 Comments

    Travels Through Islam: Fragments of Kazakhstan


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    Carolyn Drake—Panos Pictures for TIME

    A street scene in Atyrau, an oil city in western Kazakhstan that is 50km from the medieval trading city of Saraychik that Ibn Battuta visited in the 14th century.


    This is the fourth installment in a five-part series from TIME International’s annual Summer Journey issue, Travels Through Islam: Discovering a world of change and challenge in the footsteps of the 14[SUP]th[/SUP] century explorer Ibn Battuta.

    It was a whirlwind. TIME’s Hannah Beech and I covered a lot of subject matter in a very short amount of time during our journey to Kazakhstan. We looked for evidence of Chinese influence at the bazaar, at the bus terminal, at gas stations and on a rooftop; we spoke with Uighur leaders and scholars and a lawyer whose family fled to the Soviet Union from China in the 60′s, and with Kazakh traders from China who had crossed back into Kazakhstan for business.

    Three hours by plane to the east, we snuck around an oil refinery and asked about its effects on the environment, then visited a museum honoring the explorer Ibn Battuta, who passed through a riverside town on horseback in the 14[SUP]th[/SUP] century. All this in five days. It’s hard to see any connection between the place that Ibn Battuta encountered and what we as western journalists experienced 700 years later. I’m not sure how long Ibn Battuta stayed there, but maybe his visit was nearly as brief as ours, a short glimpse.

    There are some things you can see more clearly as an outsider passing through, and many more that you completely overlook or just experience as confusion. Why was the guarded housing complex for Chevron employees—each home outfitted with identical grills and trashcans—completely empty? How did the man I photographed asleep near the train tracks end up there? On a tight deadline and with lots of territory to cover, there are always questions left unanswered.

    I suppose this is what a journey is—something that leaves you with fragments of experience that hopefully add up to something meaningful.

    Carolyn Drake is a photographer based in Istanbul. Her work has focused on Central Asia since 2007 and has been supported through grants from the Guggenheim and Fulbright foundations and the Lange Taylor Prize.


    Related Topics: Carolyn Drake, Ibn Battuta, Kazakhstan


    Read more: Travels Through Islam: Fragments of Kazakhstan - LightBox

    See more pictures: Travels Through Islam: Fragments of Kazakhstan - LightBox
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2011
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  4. nrj

    nrj Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    ALMATY, Kazakhstan (AP) — Kazakhstan's president on Thursday approved a bill tightening registration rules for religious groups that has been described by critics as a blow to freedom of belief in the ex-Soviet nation.

    Supporters of the bill signed into law by Nursultan Nazarbayev say it will help combat religious extremism, an issue that has come to the fore after a series of Islamist-linked attacks in the west of the country over the summer.

    The law will require existing religious organizations in the mainly Muslim nation to dissolve and register again through a procedure that is all but guaranteed to exclude smaller groups, including minority Christian communities. It will also impose a ban on prayer in the workplace.

    Passage of the bill marks a reversal of Nazarbayev's earlier attempts to cast Kazakhstan as a land of religious tolerance.

    To register locally, a faith group must now be able to provide evidence of 50 members. To register at a regional level, requires 500 members. The most complicated procedure will be registering nationwide, which requires a group to have 5,000 members across the country's regions.

    "Several minority religious groups do not have the required number of members and would be prohibited from continuing their activities and subject to fines if they disobey," the Washington-based democracy watchdog Freedom House said in a statement last month.

    Felix Corley, editor of Forum 18, a Norwegian-based religious freedom advocacy group, said a second separate law also signed Thursday amends legislation on religion to broaden the range of offenses subject to punitive action.
    "These two new laws ... undermine everyone's freedom of religion or belief and, as local human rights defenders have pointed out, are part of a wider picture of increasing governmental controls on society," Corley told The Associated Press.

    The laws have been passed at a speed that has upset many activists, who say there was insufficient public discussion on the issue.

    Backers of the revised law argue that the legislation is necessary to fight extremism and stem the influence of radical cults.

    Authorities have been unsettled by an uncharacteristic outburst of Islamist-inspired violence in the oil-rich western regions over the summer in which several police officers were killed.

    Kazakhstan passes restrictive religion law - Yahoo!
     
  5. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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  6. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    Other Central Asian nations may do the same thing. There is a fear that Taliban and Pakistani fanatacism may spread there and destabilize their nations.
     

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