|Persecution Type:||Dictatorial paranoia|
|Persecution Level:||Very High|
|Leader:||President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev|
In Kazakhstan, religious freedom is restricted by legislation dating back to September 2011. and pressure from the authorities has been stepped up since 2015. The Kazakhstan government is constantly working to increase its control over society, which means increased surveillance, raids on meetings and arrests. It is illegal for non-registered churches to gather, forcing them to go underground; and any religious literature must be approved by the government.
Christians who have converted from Islam are the primary persecution targets of the state, as well as their families, friends and communities—including house arrests for long periods, physical violence and excommunication from their community. Some converts are locked up by their families for long periods, beaten and may eventually be expelled from their communities. Local mullahs also preach against them.
Believers live under oppression because no religious activities beyond state-run and state-controlled institutions are allowed and unregistered churches are frequently raided and fined. Members of Protestant churches are particularly targeted because they are regarded as a foreign influence aiming to destroy the current political system. Christians from Muslim backgrounds often keep their faith secret.
In April 2019, a group of believers was arrested at a Kazakh airport for smuggling Christian literature into the country. They were taken to a police station and questioned. Some were quickly released, while others had to stay at the police station.
At the end of July 2019, Kazakh Pastor Maximov was sentenced to five years in prison with confiscation of all the property; his wife Larisa was sentenced to four years.
Police raided a birthday meal where members of Revival Church had gathered in the central city of Karaganda—after receiving a call saying an “illegal sect” was meeting. Church members were taken in for questioning and fined.
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