SHYMKENT, Kazakhstan – A Christian Kazak woman who had been charged with “illegal missionary activity” was acquitted on 13 March by the South Kazakhstan Regional Court.
Her illegal activity? Showing another woman how to download a Bible app on her smartphone. The woman for whom she downloaded the app then file a complaint with the police charging that the Christian woman with encouraging conversion, an activity that is illegal under Kazakhstan’s Religion Law.
The Religion Law is one of the strictest in the world, although religious liberty is guaranteed by the country’s constitution. It contains restrictions on sharing beliefs of unregistered religious organizations, traveling outside the country for to obtain a religious education, and holding religious weddings in places other than state-registered places of worship. The law bans state officials from participating in religious events. The law strictly limits the importation and distribution of uncensored religious literature.
Dilobarkhon Sultanova had been approached by her accuser after meeting her at the New Life Protestant Church. Officials with International Christian Concern (ICC) suspect that the woman requesting help with the download was a police informant tasked with entrapping unsuspecting believers.
Apparently, the Regional Court agreed. However, ICC also reported today (March 19) that a local fire inspector has banned the New Life Protestant Church from conducting services and other religious activities for one month because the church had only three fire extinguishers. The inspector claims the building should have five, but there is no documentation of that requirement.
The ban will not be enforced until the Regional Court has an opportunity to rule on the charge.
- Christian Post, Woman in Kazakhstan Found Not Guilty for Helping Download Bible App
- Radio Free Europe, Kazakh Woman On Trial For Downloading Bible Is Acquitted
- Christian Today, Kazakh woman found not guilty after being charged over downloading Bible on her phone
- Forum 18 News Service, KAZAKHSTAN: Compulsory re-registration if restrictions become law
- International Christian Concern, Church Shut Down for Not Having Enough Fire Detectors
- International Christian Concern, Is Downloading a Bible App Illegal in Kazakhstan?