Date: October 2, 2023
Washington, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today released the following new report:
Prosecuting Online Religious Activity in Kazakhstan - This report highlights the systematic targeting, prosecution, and punishment of Muslims in Kazakhstan for their online religious activity and highlights the cases of eight known individuals who have received prison sentences on this basis. Under the guise of combating “extremism,” the Kazakh government tightly surveils and restricts religious activity. While Kazakhstan’s religious freedom violations impact all religious groups, the individuals who are imprisoned related to their religious activity are all Muslims. Authorities regularly target Muslims who deviate from the state sanctioned version of Islam and conduct religious activities—largely online—that are not authorized by the government. The report concludes with policy recommendations to the U.S. government.
In its 2023 Annual Report, USCIRF recommended that the U.S. Department of State include Kazakhstan on its Special Watch List for engaging in or tolerating severe violations of religious freedom. In May 2023, a USCIRF commissioner delegation visited Kazakhstan to assess religious freedom conditions.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze, and report on religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief. To interview a commissioner, please contact USCIRF at