RELIGIOUS SITUATION IN KAZAKHSTAN: POTENTIAL CONFLICTS AND RISK FACTORS

Mukhit ASANBAEV


Mukhit Asanbaev, Ph.D. (Political Science), Senior Fellow at the Institute of Strategic Research of Kazakhstan under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan (Almaty, Kazakhstan)


Introduction

The Soviet Union and the communist ideology collapsed leaving a spiritual void in their place to be filled with new public, political, and cultural realities that boosted national awareness and brought about new spiritual values. Post-Soviet society turned to religious values and traditions.

Kazakhstan, as part of the post-Soviet world, has had its share of these developments: today, the local peoples increased religious self-awareness amazes no one. Part of Kazakhstani society not only identifies itself by its religious affiliation, it is adjusting its way of life according to religious norms and values.

The religious situation in the republic, however, cannot be described as simple: there are both positive and negative results of the peoples increased religiosity, active involvement of foreign missionaries preaching religions previously absent in the region, as well as the liberal nature of republican legislation. To identify all possible negative developments in the republics religious spheres, we should trace the origins of the present situation and look into possible repercussions. This alone will allow us to describe the nature of the present potential of religious conflicts in Kazakhstan.

Here I have set myself the task of identifying the potential of religious conflicts in our republic and probing into the risk factors in the development of the religious situation in Kazakhstan.

The Current State

The many centuries of coexistence between Islam and Orthodox Christianity in Kazakhstan created a balance between the two: each occupies a niche of its own and is involved in


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