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Religious Situation Review in Kazakhstan Print E-mail

Image Today, the Republic of Kazakhstan is a striking instance of peaceful coexistence of over 40 confessions and denominations as well as 130 nationalities and ethnic groups.

Historically Kazakhstan was always a crossroad, a place of meeting and dialogue of various religions, cultures and civilizations of the East and West.

The spiritual tolerance inherited from the cultural and ethical traditions of Kazakhs serves as a reliable foundation for maintaining the civil peace both in the present and future. Being an independent state, Kazakhstan ensured an absolute religious freedom to all Moslems, Orthodox Christians, Catholics, Protestants and Jews. The nation saw a considerable quantitative and qualitative growth of religious institutions. Today, the total number of religious associations reached 4,173 while in 1990 it comprised 670.

The number of Islamic associations grew from 46 to 2,441. There occurred almost five-fold growth in number of the Russian Orthodox Church parishes (from 62 to 293), two-fold increase of the Roman Catholic Church associations (from 42 to 86), Evangelical Baptist Christians communities (from 168 to 362) and Seventh Day Adventists (from 36 to 66). The quantity of Jehovah's Witnesses associations increased from 27 to 78, and that of Protestant alliance of new trends jumped from 13 to 540.

Religious associations own 3,129 cultic buildings, including 2,229 mosques, 258 Orthodox and 93 Catholic churches, 6 synagogues and over five hundred Protestant churches and prayer houses.

Currently 384 missioners from over 20 foreign countries work in the Republic of Kazakhstan while in 1990 there were only 12 people.

Religious organizations periodically publish 38 printings.

The Moslem Id al-Adha and Orthodox Christmas are national holidays in Kazakhstan.

Image Upon the initiative of the Kazakhstan President, Mr. Nazarbayev N., the city of Astana witnessed two Congresses of World and Traditional Religions Leaders in 2003 and 2006. Those forums demonstrated not only the right direction of the country external policy but also proved the effectiveness of the unique Kazakhstani model of inter-confessional collaboration.

The upcoming Third Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions 2009 to be held again in Astana will become the next step in strengthening the relationship between the confessions and contribute to the global dialogue of civilizations.

The Kazakhstani model of inter-relations between the state and religious organizations is based on democratic principles respecting the believers' rights and freedoms, on equality of public and religious interests, partnership and strive for mutual understanding. This is an outcome of the targeted policy of the Head of the State, Mr. Nazarbayev N.

With respect to obligations concerning the believers' rights, Kazakhstan effectively collaborates with the Office for Democratic Institutes and Human Rights of OSCE.

Close cooperation with the OSCE Office in the city of Almaty contributed to establishing in the country of the regulatory framework focused on equality of rights and freedoms of all citizens regardless of their religious and ethnic background.

The Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan "On Freedom of Belief and Religious Organizations" was adopted in 1992 and never changed in its essence despite the numerous problems arising in the religious sphere and national-confessional relations.

At the moment the Parliament has completed debates concerning the Draft Law "On amendments and additions to some legislative acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan on the Issues of Freedom of Belief and Religious Organizations" initiated by a group of deputies last spring. On November 26, 2008 the Draft Law was submitted for approval to the President of RK.

It is feasible that the mentioned Draft Law is intended to regulate the religious issues within the framework of the international standard on respect for human rights and consideration of global experience.

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