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Kazakhstan Facts

Score:64/ 100
Region:Central Asia
Persecution Type:Dictatorial paranoia
Persecution Level:Very High
Population:18,593,000
Christians:4,836,000
Main Religion:Islam
Government:Presidentia republic
Leader:President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev

Profile of Persecution

Violence 10%
Church Life 84%
National Life 75%
Community Life 64%
Family Life 69%
Private Life 79%

Surveillance, house arrests and church raids

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.

How Christians are suffering

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.

Examples of persecution

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.

Population and number of Christian statistics: Johnson T M and Zurlo G A, eds., World Christian Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, accessed April 2019).

 

Pray for Kazakhstan

  • Pray for believers who are falsely accused and imprisoned by the people to whom they have ministered. Pray they are comforted and that justice is served.
  • Religious freedom is restricted by legislation dating back to September 2011 and the Kazakhstan government is constantly working at increasing its control over the whole of society, which means increased surveillance, raids on meetings and arrests. Pray believers are filled with God’s peace in the midst of this.
  • Pray believers take advantage of the advance of technology—via (foreign) websites, SD cards in smartphones, and radio and television programs on satellite dishes—to share the gospel.
  • Muslims who convert to Christianity are likely to experience pressure and occasionally physical violence from their families, friends and local community to force them to return to their former faith. Pray these believers stand strong in their faith.

Stories from Kazakhstan

March 6, 2020

A ‘living death’: How Christian women experience persecution

A new 2020 Open Doors in-depth report focusing on gendered persecution surfaces some disturbing realities for Christian women and girls in the top 50 countries where women are highly persecuted for their decision to follow Jesus. Read More

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January 15, 2020

Every day, 8 Christians killed for their decision to follow Jesus

In-depth research for Open Doors' 2020 World Watch List shows that at least eight Christians, largely in Sub-Saharan Africa, die at the hands of persecutors (extremists, family members and state authorities) each day. Read More

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August 12, 2018

Central Asia—where owning a Bible is a punishable crime

What's happening to Christian believers in today's Central Asia republics? And what do you need to know to pray with empathy and knowledge? Read More

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