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Published on 14 March, 2005

Believers watch signs of worsening religious freedom.

Kazakhstan (MNN)–Forum 18 reports that there are signs of a clamp down on religious freedom in Kazakhstan.

According to their sources, a criminal case against a Baptist resulted in large fines, property seizures against unregistered church leaders, and other legal troubles.

The concern is that these situations could continue with a new draft law on ‘extremism’ in discussion. While the legislation leaves the definition of ‘extremism’ open, it mentions ‘religion’ 10 times.

More concerning is that it increases state control over religious groups, and a provision that would ‘forbid the activity of religious associations whhich have broken the Republic of Kazakhstan’s laws on countering extremist activity.’

Loose wording means a wide interpretation, which could be detrimental to believers and their ability to practice their faith. The bill, including amendments to ban religious groups before a court decision, is now before the Kazakhstan’s lower house of parliament.

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