Religion legislation in Kazakhstan called by the need for change
Kazakhstan, Astana 21 October / corr. Trend A. Maratov /
Adopting of the new Law on Religion was the need of time, said today Deputy Chairman of the Agency for Religious Affairs Marat Azilhanov, during the videoconference Moscow - Astana on "Extremism - how to protect the state and the citizens?"
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed the law on religious activities on Oct.13.
"The law has been signed and will enter into force soon," he said. "It specifies regulations for registration of religious associations, control terms and conditions of office of missionaries. We believe that these norms do not infringe upon the freedom of conscience," he said.
According to Azilhanov, the activity of religious associations has intensified during 20 years of Kazakhstan's independence. Their number increased from 61 in the 1990s to present 4,500.
At the same time, Azilhanov spoke about new threats and challenges which necessitated adopting the religion legislation in the new edition.
Meanwhile, some provisions in the new legislation, in particular the ban on prayer rooms in public institutions, education and health facilities, as well as in military units, have caused a mixed reaction in the Kazakh society.
Several NGOs demanded to revise the document and dismiss the head of the agency for religious affairs.
Edited by E. Kosolapova