In Kazakhstan, a high-level dialogue is being held between the state and representatives of religious associations. The objective is to search for mutual understanding on matters related to legislation and to join forces in the fight against violent extremism.
On November 22 in Astana, the leaders of various religious communities met with officials to discuss how to improve legislation and its application in the religious sphere. The dialogue was supported by the Regional Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the OSCE Office of Programs in Astana.
The event was attended by representatives of Islamic, Catholic, Protestant and other faiths, as well as representatives of Kazakh non-governmental organizations, scientific and educational institutions, and state and law enforcement agencies.
What ensued was an open, constructive dialogue. Despite the fact that parties to the discussion held divergent, or even directly opposing views on the issues under discussion, everyone managed to express themselves and also listen to the positions of their opponents.
Alexander Klyushev, Chairman of the Association of Religious Associations of Kazakhstan (AROK), participated in the event, and spoke about the results and the significance of the dialogue.
What is AROK and its role in the dialogue?
AROK has existed since 1999. Our goal is to contribute to the development of the state-denominational dialogue, as well as to strengthen inter-denominational relations.
To this end, we have engaged in long-term cooperation with various international organizations, including LYNC (Love Your Neighbor Community), an important strategic partner.
On the role of the evangelical church in the preparations for the event
Bishops and pastors of evangelical churches who carry out great work in Kazakhstan took part in the Round Table. This is the first platform for a dialogue of this nature where representatives of the evangelical community were represented on such a broad scale, and everyone could independently express their position and their views on legal issues, lawmaking and the practice of law enforcement. All of the participants were pleased with the event.
On the results of the Roundtable and why such events are so important
This was a frank, sincere dialogue in which people felt free to expound on what they wanted to say, sand soberly and constructively expressed their views on the legal issues, lawmaking and how the laws are enforced,, as well as on another issue: How to prevent violent extremism and the radicalization of society.
A diverse array of myths have taken shape in today's world. Often we can see how some religious communities are artificially marginalized, and to prevent this, a dialogue is needed where the state on the one hand, and the religious communities on the other can openly express themselves. We need to ensure that representatives of different religious denominations take part in this dialogue.
That is, an interstate and state-denominational dialogue is important in order to destroy various myths that have materialized over the past 10-15 years as a result of the processes that emerged and took root in the post-Soviet space.
And dialogue at this level contributes to the improvement of society and increased tolerance, leading to an understanding that those people about whom some myths might have been created are worthy citizens of their country. They are not aggressors and do not harbor negative designs in their hearts towards other faiths or the state. And such activities contribute to wellness.