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Kazakh Parliament OKs Antiextremism Bill

9 February 2005 -- Kazakhstan's lower house of parliament, the Mazhilis, has approved legislation aimed at restricting the activity of religious extremist groups.

The bill names political parties and media among potential sources of extremism. It allows the creation of a list of extremist groups and their members, and gives courts in the capital the authority to designate a group as extremist.

The bill approved today and sent to the upper house also expands government surveillance rights and the right to suspend organizations suspected of extremism.

Local civil rights groups say the bill lacks a precise definition of extremism. And they say if it becomes law, it could be used to persecute civilians and mainstream religious organizations that are not engaged in extremist activity.