Kazakhstan passes restrictive religion law



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Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan’s president, has approved a new law aimed at putting an end to religious extremism.

The law forces all religious organisations to re-register and bans prayer in state institutions such as schools and prisons.

The country’s chief imam believes that preventing Muslims from praying will antagonise the Kazakh public.

Al Jazeera’s Robin Forestier-Walker reports from Kazakhstan’s western city of Aktobe.

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Islam in Kazakhstan today is thriving new mosques like this one in act obey are springing up but within hushed conversations are going on about new rules dictating where and how Muslims may practice their faiths on Thursday the country's president signed a new religion law forcing all religious organizations to re-register our luring illegal mosques and most controversially banning prayer in state institutions such as schools and prisons President Nazarbayev has repeatedly warned against the spread of radicalism anyone can come here and open their own mosque people are naming mosques after their fathers nobody approves or registers then this is a nation-state we must get our house in order things appear to be getting out of order this summer in act of a region this shootout between police and armed men ended a spate of unprecedented violence that included Kazakhstan's first suicide bombing a total of 19 people were killed among them alleged extremists according to police as well as security officers in response the act ob authorities embarked on their own so-called anti-extremism campaign University student accountant and her friends were asked to remove their head scarves the policy she says was misguided now occult Ian's and her family are having to come to terms with the new religion law her father believes it could backfire all these restrictions continue people will be looking for a way out by joining religious sects which could lead to more violence act obeys State Approved Imam says most Kazakh Muslims who practice a moderate form of Sunni Islam have nothing to fear from the new legislation nor was I thought there won't be a big difference from previous laws not much will change by true but clerics too are divided about the laws likely impact the country's chief Imam the Eve's preventing Muslims from praying will antagonize the Kazakh public such concerns have fallen on deaf ears 70% of this country's population are Muslim very few of them have had a chance to enter this debate the legislation is supposed to tackle extremism but instead appears to be offending even the most moderate robbing Forestier walker al jazeera act Toby