Friday, November 17, 2006

Religious Freedom Issues In Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan

In recent days, a number of stories have surfaced regarding the state of religious freedom in republics of the Former Soviet Union. In Azerbaijan, as representatives of the Muslim community participated in a conference to celebrate the country's commitment to religious tolerance (, Pravo reported that women studying at Sumgait State University were told that they would not be allowed into classes if they insisted on wearing headscarfs.

In Kazakhstan, authorities want to evict a cultural center belonging to the International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). According to, at a recent meeting held in Almaty the deputy director of the Kazakh government Religion Committee said that Hindus do not have a place in Kazakhstan.

Forum18 reports on two other incidents in Kazakhstan. One report says that fines are being imposed on members of the Tabligh Jama'at, an international Islamic missionary organization, for preaching in mosques that are not registered with the state. Another report says that a Presbyterian pastor in Kyzyl-Orda has been unable to renew his visa. The South Korean pastor who led a congregation for eight years was forced to leave the country because he conducted missionary work without registration.