Kazakhstan weighs new religion restrictions
Posted on Jul 22, 2008 by Staff
WASHINGTON (BP)--Kazakhstan, which already places burdens on religious organizations, will substantially increase restrictions on expressions of faith if new legislation becomes law, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
The former member of the Soviet bloc already requires religious groups to register with the government. Under current law, unregistered groups have to pay fines and supposedly "non-traditional" religious bodies are prohibited from registering or have their registration applications significantly delayed, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) reported.The new measure, according to USCIRF, would:
-- increase the number of members a religious group must have to register from 10 to 50.
-- prohibit smaller religious bodies from teaching or professing their faith, owning property or renting public buildings.
-- prohibit gifts from anonymous or foreign donors.
"The religion bill threatens Kazakhstan's international obligations as a nation to safeguard religious freedom and non-discrimination," USCIRF Chair Felice Gaer said in a written release. "Kazakhstan appears to be following the lead of other former Soviet republics that are narrowing the space for religious freedom rather than bolstering protections for it."