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    » 12/30/2015, 00.00

    KAZAKHSTAN

    Christian convert from Islam gets two years in prison for stirring religious hatred



    Yklas Kabduakasov, a 54-year-old father of eight children, is a Seventh-day Adventist. In November, he was sentenced to seven years of restricted freedom and had books confiscated. His appeal ended with a prison sentence in a government labour camp. The charges against him were: inciting religious hatred. For Christian sources, he was punished for converting to Christianity.

    Astana (AsiaNews) – A Kazakh court yesterday sentenced Seventh-day Adventist Yklas Kabduakasov to two years' imprisonment in a labour camp on specious charges of inciting religious hatred. In November, a lower court had given the 54-year-old father of eight a seven-year sentence of restricted freedom at home.

    Forum 18 reported that Mr Kabduakasov was prosecuted on allegations of inciting religious hatred. This was done by talking to others about his faith. He and his fellow Church members reject the charges as baseless.

    Local sources said that Kazakhstan’s secret police, the National Security Committee (KNB), tracked Kabduakasov’s movements and taped his discussions, especially on matters of faith. After a year, he was arrested on 14 August, and convicted on 9 November.

    The KNB apparently rented a flat where four university students invited the accused for religious discussions, secretly taped the meetings and then used the evidence in the prosecution case.

    A lower court sentenced him to seven years' restricted freedom, and ordered the destruction of nine Christian books that had been confiscated at his house. The Prosecutor had sought seven years' imprisonment in place of the restricted freedom sentence.

    A court heard the appeal on 22 and 25 December, before imposing two years in a labour camp on 28 December. 

    According to some Kazakh Christians, who withheld their names, he was tried because he had left Islam for Christianity. In addition, he had spoken with Muslims about the Gospel, raising the possibility of proselytising.

    Kabduakasov’s case is thus seen as a warning to anyone tempted to leave Islam for Christianity.

    Kazakh law strictly prohibits unregistered and unregulated religious activities. A 2012 law also bans religious literature that has not been formally authorised.

    Thus, the authorities have the legal tools to crack down against various religious groups, like the Jehovah's Witnesses, Christians and Hare Krishna.

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    See also

    19/07/2005 LAOS
    Two Christians sentenced to three years in prison


    29/07/2011 KAZAKHSTAN
    Religious freedom in Kazakhstan means “one nation – one religion”
    A new agency is set up to control religious groups. President Nazarbaev calls for greater surveillance of religious extremism. Religious minorities fear instead more repression. Many are already being forced out of their places of worship.

    15/04/2009 SAUDI ARABIA – ISLAM
    Blogger convert to Christianity released from Saudi prison
    Arrested for openly choosing Jesus, Saudi man is released after some months. He still cannot leave the country or appear in media, but many are surprised by the leniency. Under Sharia apostasy is punished by death.

    21/01/2009 THAILAND
    Bangkok, Week for Christian unity, a contribution to national unity
    The first celebration of the Week in Thailand dates back to 44 years ago. Dialogue among the different Christian confessions is growing, and is being developed through common efforts on behalf of young people, the poor, and the sick.

    23/02/2007 UZBEKISTAN
    Five years jail for those who convert Muslims to Christianity.
    Forum 18 said this was the reason behind the arrest of a Protestant pastor called Shestakov, who has been detained for more than a month awaiting trial for “inciting religious hatred” and more crimes. Another pastor was arrested for being found with religious texts in his possession as have many believers because they were holding meeting in homes.



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