Monday, March 05, 2012

Small religious groups under pressure in Kazakhstan

Hundreds of small religious groups have been stripped of their registration in Kazakhstan as a senior religious affairs official says that their activity is "now banned" under new rules.

According to Barnabas Aid, which supports persecuted Christians, a number of churches from a range of Christian denominations, including Baptist, Presbyterian and Seventh-day Adventist, are among the 579 groups deregistered.

Barnabas Aid said Kairat Lama Sharif, chair of the Agency of Religious Affairs, described the 13 per cent fall in the number of officially-recognised religious groups as "a positive dynamic in the systematisation of the total number of religious associations."

He said that the number would probably decrease further as the new Religion Law is enforced.

According to Barnabas Aid, a religious group must now have at least 50 adult members to be registered. Leaders of small churches have received official warnings to stop their activity and return their registration certificates.

Saule Ibrayeva, chair of Akmola Region's Agency of Religious Affairs, said: "The activityof small religious groups in the territory of Kazakhstan is now banned since there is no such form of religious association of citizens."

He added, "We have a new law and as it does not allow for the existence of religious associations which have fewer than 50 members, then they should either re-register with 50 members or stop their activity as a religious association." Keep reading

No comments: