Wednesday, June 13, 2012 -
Kazakhstan’s highest religious authority said Wednesday several hundred small faith groups will be eliminated for failing to comply with a new religious law imposed last year.
Kairat Lama Sharif, chairman of the Agency for Religious Affairs, said in the capital Astana that authorities will stop the activities of nearly 600 religious organizations around the country that have failed to get the nod from the state.
"Local agencies in accordance with the law are working to halt the activities of 579 small religious groups that do not have signs of a legal person," Sharif told a session of the Council for Relations with Religious Associations, according to a Kazakh government news report.
Legislation passed in October 2011 rules that faith groups have to reapply to be formally recognized and registered by Kazakhstan’s religious authorities.
The Kazakh parliament passed the law as part of an attempt to weed out religious groups the Kazakh government determines to be dangerous. The same law banned prayer rooms in all state-operated facilities and some public places.
The bill was drafted and rushed into law in the wake of a string of attacks in the west of Kazakhstan, which had been relatively peaceful until then.
Various rights organizations have spoken out against the restrictions as a serious setback to religious freedoms and equality in the country.