Kazakhstan, Central Asia
Political Leader: President Nursultan Nazarbayev
Religions: Islam 60.5%, Christianity 24.7%, Other 14.8%
Persecution Ranking: Not Ranked
Number of Terrorist Groups: 1
Acts of Terrorism: 5; Casualties: 1
Percent of Corruption: 74%
% of People in Poverty: 19%
Kazakhstan, officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a country that stretches over a vast expanse of northern and central Eurasia. Ranked the ninth largest country in the world, it is bordered by Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and China. The country also borders on a significant part of Caspian Sea. Although it is vast in size, much of the land consists of semi-desert terrain.
Kazakhstan continued to aggressively combat terrorism and extremism locally and strengthened its cooperation and timeliness in sharing information with the United States. There was little movement, however, on counterterrorism legislation. The draft law on money laundering that the government has worked on since 2005 remained stalled in Parliament.
In July 2006, Kazakhstan became an initial partner nation in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. Kazakhstan was one of the first countries to endorse and participate in the Global Initiative after its inception. Kazakhstan, along with China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, is a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which established a Regional Antiterrorism Center in Tashkent.
In January 2006, authorities arrested a number of individuals from two extremist cells in Almaty on terrorism charges. Eight of those arrested remain in prison with trials ongoing. In November 2006, authorities arrested 11 people from a terrorist group in Stepnogorsk and confiscated arms, explosives and extremist printed materials. According to press reports, members of the terrorist group were planning hostage sieges, lethal attacks on state employees and several explosions.
Kazakhstan continued to face a growing problem with the Islamic extremist group Hizb’ut Tahrir, which remained outlawed as an “extremist” organization through the Law on Extremism and continued to be the only group so designated under this law.
In November, the Government of Kazakhstan added the East Turkistan Liberation Organization and Aum Shinrikyo to the national list of banned terrorist organizations, accusing these groups of using terrorist means in an attempt to achieve an independent state in Central Asia and in China, respectively. The list of banned groups also included Al Qaeda, the East Turkistan Islamic Party, the Kurdish People's Congress, Asbat al-Ansar, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Taliban, the Boz Gurd, Jamaat of Central Asian Mujahadins, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, the Social Reform Society, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and its splinter group, the Islamic Jihad Union.
Muslims comprise 60.5% of Kazakhstan’s population, while Christians make up 24.7%.
Challenges for Christians:
On October 23, 2006, the Ust-Kamenogorsk city administrative court convicted a foreign citizen of violating the terms of his business visa for giving a lecture at a legally registered Protestant church. The foreign citizen was an administrator at a local university and had attended the church for many years. The court imposed the equivalent of $322 fine and ordered his deportation. On November 14, 2006, the appeals court upheld the fine but eliminated the deportation penalty, contingent on the defendant leaving the country voluntarily. According to media reports, migration officials in the city of Kyzylorda refused to extend the visa of South Korean pastor Kim U Sob after he was convicted in June 2006 of conducting missionary work without registration. Sob was charged after police raided the home of a church member that he was visiting outside the city limits of Kyzylorda. Sob was forced to leave the country on November 14, 2006.
- Pray that Kazakhstan will continue to aggressively combat terrorism and extremism locally.
- Pray that members of terrorist organizations Hizb’ut Tahrir, the East Turkistan Liberation Organization and Aum Shinrikyo will be caught and properly dealt with for their continued violence against innocent people. (Mark 4:22)
- Pray that the influence of Al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Taliban and other terrorist organizations will not spread to Kazakhstan. (2 Timothy 2:24–26)
- Thank God that only several years ago there were hardly any Christians in Kazakhstan, but now there are more than 6,000 in over 40 congregations. Pray that the Church will continue to grow among young people.
- In 2000, more than 20,000 Christians from across Central Asia gathered in Kazakhstan for a prayer event held in a stadium. Pray for continued blessing and unity for all those who were there.
Sources: 24-7 Prayer, Operation World, Wikipedia, Country Reports on Terrorism 2006, International Religious Freedom Report 2007, Open Doors, The World Factbook