Kazakh Muslims at prayer (RFE/RL)
ASTANA, September 11, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev today held a series of meetings with delegates to a three-day world forum on religion that opens in Astana on September 12.
A statement posted on Nazarbaev's official website says he met with Abdullah Ibn Abdul Muhsin Atturki, the secretary-general of the Muslim World League; Salman Al-Husaini Al-Nadvi, the leader of India's Jamiat-e Shahab-e Islam Muslim organization; and Nicholas Baines, the Anglican bishop of Croydon in Britain.
The upcoming forum will bring together some 45 national delegations and as many spiritual leaders to discuss religious freedom and tolerance.
Nazarbaev's spokesman Mukhtar Kul-Mukhammed said the event reflects Kazakhstan's political stability and religious openness. However, Kazakh rights groups say the upcoming event is overshadowed by what they describe as official harassment of nontraditional religious groups, such as the Hare Krishna and Tablighi Jamaat, an Islamic revivalist group.
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