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Kazakhstan will not tolerate politicization of religion: Kairat Lama Sharif

01 september 2011, 18:00
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Chairman of the Agency for Religious Affairs Kairat Lama Sharif. Photo courtesy of flickr.com
Chairman of the Agency for Religious Affairs Kairat Lama Sharif. Photo courtesy of flickr.com
Kazakhstan’s officials will not tolerate politicization of religion, Kairat Lama Sharif, Head of the State Agency for Religion states September 1.

“Some seek to politicize religion. We will not let that happen. Religion has its goals and purposes. It serves to enrich the spiritual world of people (…)”, KazTag Agency quoted him as saying on the sidelines of the joint sitting of the Parliament chambers.

When commenting on President Nazarbayev’s criticism towards the way mosques are named in Kazakhstan, Agency Chief pointed out that 90% of the mosques are named to honor donors’ relatives.

“We believe it is not right. It’s not right if we look at what the Quran or secular laws prescribe (…) If there are multiple mosques in a populated place, some of them can be named using Allah’s names [Names of God (as adjectives, word constructs, or otherwise) exceed 99 in the Qur'an and Sunnah]”, he said.

He elaborated that the draft law submitted to the Parliament calls for re-registration of religious entities in Kazakhstan. Their number as of today stands at 4 500.

“Following the passing of the law, all of these religious entities will undergo state registration once again. Their operations will be closely scrutinized during the process”, he said.

He also announced that September 29-30 Astana will be hosting the first ever forum of scholars of religion studies. “Expertise is very valuable. The issues of religion are not always covered correctly in the media”, he said.

“During the current session the Parliament is to consider draft legislation regulating operations of religious institutions. The point here is not to eliminate freedom of belief, but to fence the nation off religious extremism. This is something done by all states, much more so by those professing Islam as the state religion”, President Nazarbayev had said earlier today.

According to the nation census of 2009, over 70% of the population confess Islam, with a bit over 26% being Christians and the other 2.8% positioning themselves as atheists. As of July 1, 2011, the population made up 16 553 000.

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