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Religious factor in the Republic of Kazakhstan

Religious factor in the Republic of Kazakhstan

Until recently the Republic of Kazakhstan managed to avoid extremist violence of the type that episodically manifested itself in the neighbouring Uzbekistan, where Islam has been the most widespread since the fall of the Soviet Union.

At the same time there is a real threat that the religious extremism will appear in Kazakhstan and it is defined to a big extent by external factors.

In the first turn, the geopolitical situation of the republic bears a definitive character.

In such countries as Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, China, Iran there is a potential threat of political pressure that can manifest itself in the form of religious extremism.

The redistribution of influence zones in Central Asia, which can be observed lately, makes Kazakhstan an object for attention of Muslim countries interested in an involvement of residents of the republic in the Islamic organisations, many of which have a radical hue.

For an efficient functioning of extremist groups on the territory of Kazakhstan availability of two basic interior factors, allowing to carry out infiltration of their representatives in the Kazakhstani society, is important, precisely falling life standards and a growing unemployment.

Moreover, the social plight of Kazakhstani residents is a favourable soil for manifestations of the extremism as a form of moral compensation and adaptation of people to the existing conditions.

In relation with this a liberal attitude of the authorities to religious currents can cause unpredictable consequences for the society, especially when there is an ideological vacuum in the country.

The low social level and poverty are a basis for the development of multiple sects, including extremist ones, in all countries. Therefore any forms of popular protest against the existing state orders are possible.

It should be taken into consideration that from all forms of extremism it is the religious extremism that represents a major danger for Kazakhstan.

Currently, with respect to the limitations imposed to the infiltration of the religious extremism on the state level, a set of measures is carried out that are directed at a regulation of the activities of creeds and sects, preventing events on discovery of illegally acting emissaries of religious associations, and localisation of distribution sources of the religious literature propagating a violent change of the constitutional order.

At the same time a number of restraining factors, not allowing to foretell an appearance of religious associations connected with the religious extremism and an emergence of a wide network of extremist organisations in a brief term on the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan is not taken into consideration.

First of all, it is the fact that the traditional Islam does not have deep roots among Kazakhs, it is rather a historical and cultural background.

Secondly, a certain mentality formed among the population of Kazakhstan allows us to speak about a tolerant attitude towards all religious associations, functioning on the territory of the republic.

Thirdly, there multiple groups capable of spreading extremism among the population of the republic are not present here.

Fourthly, there is a strict state control over activities of religious associations, which in many cases does not allow religious associations to carry out open propaganda of their worldviews and disciplines.

In relation with this multiple representatives of neighbouring countries, which lately concentrate their attention on the Republic of Kazakhstan, cannot find a favourable soil here, which would serve as a basis for the development of religious extremism.

Radicalism in its essence is just a manifestation of political struggles, whose final aim is a seizure of power. Although the territory of Kazakhstan can be used as a base or a transit base because of virtually unprotected borders.

Another important aspect is lobbying by representatives of different religious currents of their own interests.

Such activities in the majority of cases aims at an attraction and recruitment of citizens in their own ranks. In this case we can predict a creation of certain strict normative legal limitations and other action on the part of state authorities that would regulate activities of religious associations in favour of others.

But, on the other hand, taking into account the following factors:

- geographic position of the country;

- presence of significant numbers of adherents of one religion;

- a limited circle of educated religious figures;

- a low social life standard in the regions;

- a growth of protest potential among the population, -

We cannot be soothed with the remoteness of potential extremist acts on the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Even if Kazakhstan is not directly threatened by a religious fundamentalist invasion, nevertheless, we should not think that the extremism is a phenomenon having to do only with our neighbours.

The state should be much more efficient in preventive measures, it should not be laggin behind following the development of events.

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Текст: Oleg Sidorov