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ICC NOTE: The revelation of younger Kazakh citizens turning to more conservative forms of Islam is something the secular Kazakh government may fear. Kazakhstan has attempted to limit religious belief in the country for both security and control of the population. Reducing one’s ability to have an alternative allegiance limits the risk of opposition towards the ruling leadership. Unfortunately while the rise of religious belief among younger Kazakhs would appear to be a positive step towards reducing the power of the authoritarian regime, it has also brought with it the risk of inter religious violence. Prior to the shift in demographics, the primary source of violence was inter ethnic. The rise of ISIS throughout the world also creates another alternative for younger Kazakhs who adhere to conservative Islamic principles. 

10/17/2016 Kazakhstan (Eurasia Review) – “Almost 90 percent of the leaders of Kazakhstan youth consider themselves believers, with 86 percent of them professing Islam,” according to a survey conducted by sociologist Madina Nurgaliyeva and leading her to warn that “religiosity among young Kazakhstanis is at a critically high level.”

Moreover,she says, “half of those who list themselves as believers are actively practicing believers, that is, people who visit the mosque or a church, regularly take part in Friday prayers” and so on (

They say they are increasingly put off by the secular state and increasingly attracted by information on religion on the Internet. Moreover, in some oblasts, they are subject to active recruiting by various religious groups, including many that are radical and supportive of an Islamic social and political order.

“For residents of the western [portions of Kazakhstan],” she writes, “it has become customary to see people on the streets whose visages clearly reflect their religious attachments, things like beards and hijabs. For the local population, this is customary; but for visitors from elsewhere, it is shocking.”

One consequence of this, Nurgaliyeva says, is that inter-religious conflicts are now more common than inter-ethnic ones, something that many in that country are worried about and seek to have the government adopt a harder line against religion and especially the dissemination of religious literature coming in from abroad.

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