Currently, representatives of 130 ethnic groups and 18 religious denominations live in Kazakhstan, including Muslims, Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, and Buddhists. There are many mosques and temples operating and being built all over the country, which are actively visited by believers.
Religious freedoms in Kazakhstan are guaranteed by article 14 of the country’s Constitution, which prohibits any discrimination on religious grounds, and article 19 guarantees that everyone “has the right to determine and indicate or not indicate their national, party and religious affiliation.”
According to Gallup research, the level of religiosity of the population of Kazakhstan is the lowest in the Central Asian region – 43 percent.
Nevertheless, some representatives of the international and human rights communities (the US State Department, ODIHR, etc.) have repeatedly voiced unjustified criticism of the state of religious freedoms in the republic.
However, according to the latest USCIRF reports, there has been notable progress in establishing religious freedom in Kazakhstan. Thus, the document notes that in the region of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, according to these indicators, Kazakhstan is on the 4th place among 14 countries (Russia – on 13, Uzbekistan-on 12, Kyrgyzstan -on 11).
On September 14-15, Nur-Sultan will host one of the most significant international events of the year – the Congress of World and Traditional Religions, during which the visit of the head of the Catholic Church and the Vatican state – the Pope, as well as 130 delegations from 60 countries of the world is expected. We can openly say that this platform is unique, where the first clergy of the world, ex-heads of state, representatives of international and public organizations and world media gather.
The planned event of world significance, where Kazakhstan acts as a state committed to the ideas of tolerance, openness, mutual respect and trust between government officials and religious associations of the country, testifies to the high trust on the part of the leaders of international denominations and recognition of Kazakhstan as a crossroads of many world religions.
On June 28 – 30 of this year in Washington, USA, at the Second Summit on Religious Freedom, the head of the “Union of Evangelical Christians of Kazakhstan” Yuri Shamaev made a speech, which debunked the existing negative myths about the religious environment in Kazakhstan.
In his speech, the religious figure noted the openness to dialogue, as well as the trusting attitude on the part of state structures towards the religious environment, which is reflected in the wide opportunities opening up for followers of all faiths and religions to meet their needs.
As an example, he shared the positive experience of the participation of the Union of Evangelical Christians of Kazakhstan in joint charitable activities with the authorities to help socially vulnerable segments of the population. Since 2021, the humanitarian organization has allocated funding in the amount of more than 10 million tenge.
In response to questions from the American audience, Yuri Shumaev stated with full confidence that there were no facts about the study of Protestants in Kazakhstan. He also explained that the measures taken to ensure public security by the Kazakh law enforcement agencies apply to all citizens regardless of religion, nationality and gender.
After listening to the report of the Kazakh religious figure, USCIRF representatives stressed the importance of his theses and supported the initiative of the Union in building a dialogue between the state and the religious community.
In general, the events that are taking place contribute to the formation of an objective opinion of the international human rights environment about the positive interfaith situation in the Republic of Kazakhstan and the preservation of interethnic harmony in the religious environment.