Kazakhstan citizens and religion - opinion poll02 september 2011, 14:26
The Institute of Political Solutions made a mass survey in 16 largest cities of Kazakhstan: Astana, Almaty and 14 central cities of Kazakhstan’s oblasts. 2302 people spread proportionally to the size of each city’s population were polled in July, 2011.
Religious identification in large cities
The absolute majority of respondents – 93.7% - adhere to one region or another. 63.5% of the respondents follow Islam, 28.7% are Christians. There are comparatively few people who still stick to the soviet past: 5.9% polled residents of large cities are atheists.
Ethnic Kazakhs and Russians are two largest ethnic groups in Kazakhstan. Kazakhs constitute over 63.1% of the population, and Russians constitute 23.7%. The survey showed that the ethnic Kazakhs are the ones who constitute the majority (94.3%) of those who identify themselves and Muslims. Ethic Russians constitute the majority of Christians: 83.1%.
Islam is most widespread in the western (84%) and southern (78.2%) regions of Kazakhstan. Christianity is most common for northern (50.8%) and central (49.4%) parts of Kazakhstan. In these areas the number of Christians even exceeds that of Muslims.
Being religious is about …
Here is what being religious means for Kazakhstan citizens: more than half of them – 56.5% - say that “Observance of human, moral and ethical values” is the first and foremost attribute of a religious person. This is the overriding factor for both Muslims (55.5%) and Christians (61.3%).
Every sixth respondent (16.7%) said that being religious means to “Firmly adhere to the guidance and rules of the Holy Scripture”; the majority of them are concentrated in the north of Kazakhstan (23.2%).
Every ninth respondent (11.3%) thinks that being religious means “Pray and attend religious places” and (11.2%) say this is about feeling part of a religious group. Both of these views prevail in Astana.
Only 2.8% think that fasting makes people religious, less than 1% say that wearing religious clothes is enough.
Expectations of terrorist acts
Recent tragic events linked to open manifestations of extremism are heating up the atmosphere in the society. Three out of 10 Kazakhstan citizens say with various certainty that terrorist acts are possible in Kazakhstan: 22.5% say that they are “quite possible”, 8.8% are sure that “they are inevitable”.
Muslims are the group of respondents that is most expectant of terrorist acts cloaked with religious ideas: 31.8%. Geographically, the expectation is highest in the western regions of Kazakhstan: 55.1%.
Nevertheless the majority of Kazakhstan citizens hope for stability and peace and are not expecting any terrorist acts in Kazakhstan: 41.1% say that they are unlikely and 16.3% say that they are impossible. The latter two opinions are most widespread in Astana city and northern areas of Kazakhstan.
Attitude to promotion of moderate Islam
The idea of promotion of moderate Islam in Kazakhstan raises a lot of questions. There is no unanimous attitude to the issue among respondents either. More than 30% view is as merely a declarative idea that will be followed by no actions. Every fifths (19.3%) thinks that this would create a dangerous precedent for Kazakhstan and might destabilize it. 28.1% support the idea.
Muslims constitute the majority of the supporters of the idea: 35.3%. Christians are mostly indifferent to it: 31.9%.
Geographically, supporters of the idea are concentrated in Almaty – 62.3%, opponents (24.2%) and indifferent (38.9%) are concentrated in the west of Kazakhstan.
Population’s reaction to Muslim attributes
Burqa issue has lately been among the most discussed themes in the media and the society when it comes to religion. IPS’s survey showed that over one third of Kazakhstan citizen oppose wearing of Muslim clothes (38.2%). They think that promotion of Muslim attributes goes against the modern trends and could result of a split in the society.
Western citizens have the most negative attitude: 74.3%. More than half of the residents of northern regions are indifferent. However, every sixth Kazakhstan citizen (16%) said that it is an integral and compulsory part of the Islamic culture, but is not one of the key attributes of a religious person.