Kazakh Christians Charged with Possessing Extremist Material

Government Continues Persecution of Christians Through Censorship

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Christians in Kazakhstan are facing persecution as two Protestants are fined for possessing Christian books that were deemed “extremist material.”

According to Fides News, a note sent by “Forum 18” , a human rights group based in Norway, the two Christians rejected the allegations raised against them.

The organization said the court hearing that will decide whether the texts are extremist in nature occurred without warning. They expressed concern that charges were made with no set list of banned books. The ban, they said, is part of a “tough system of religious censorship imposed by the state.”

Kazakhstan has three levels of censorship on religious literature: articles and texts banned by the courts as «extremist»; texts which the religious state Agency refuses to approve the publication, importation and distribution; texts or objects which are published without an explanation.

The charges raised against the Protestant Christians are seen as a continuation of Anti-Christian persecution on the part of the government.

Recently, Bibles and icons were seized from a shop by police in the city of Oral in October. The owner of the shop was criminally charged for selling religious articles without state permission.

A local 67 year old Presbyterian pastor also has been under arrest since May of last year for allegedly distributing “extremist material”. Pastor Bakhytzhan Kashkumbayev was in fact distributing leaflets on the Christian faith. (J.A.E.)

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