Illegal religious organization found in Aktobe: more baptists at fault? 20 февраля 2014, 13:48
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Photo a courtesy of remarka.kz
An illegal religious organization of the Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists was discovered by Kazakhstan authorities in Aktobe, Tengrinews reports citing the prosecutor’s office of Aktobe Oblast.
The Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists is a local version of American Southern Baptist Convention. The Union is not outlawed in Kazakhstan, but the requirement to get registered with the state authorities is in effect for this convention, same as for all the other in Kazakhstan.
The conversation of 70 members including children was gathering in one of the houses in the old part of Aktobe city and did not have the official registration prescribed by the law. There has to be a minimum of 50 members in a religious organisation for it to become eligible for the registration in Kazakhstan. The baptist community has enough members, so it is unclear why it why operating in hiding and has not applied for the official registration.
According to the prosecutor’s office, the organization has renovated the house and rearranged it specifically for religious practices and worship services. All the religious books and magazines were confiscated by the authorities for a religious examination. The examination is a standard practice in Kazakhstan called to ensure that no extremist ideas are inculcated in Kazakhstan under the guise of religious literature.
“The case is being investigated. The decision on whether any administrative sanctions are going to be applied against those managing and attending the non-registered religious organisation has not been made yet. It they are applied the fine can make as much as $1000, ” the prosecutor’s office said.
It is not the first time a religious association is held liable for not having a registration. Kazakhstan has taken a hard stance of the registration requirement because of the escalation of the global threat of terrorism and extremism that frequently spread disguised as religious groups of various kinds. So the Kazakhstan Government has made it a priority to be informed about the whereabouts, schedules and nature of teachings of all the religious organisations functioning at its territory.
In 2013 there were 199 people detained for participation in a non-registered religious organization. Since the beginning of the year there have been at least four similar cases.
“If members of one of the religious associations are violating the law more and more, then certainly there eventually will be a question of liability of the religious association itself, ” the Vice Chairman of the Agency for Religious Affairs Galym Shoikin said.