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Kyrgyzstan Enacts Law Restricting Religious Activities

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev
Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev
Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev has signed a controversial bill on the activities and registration of religious groups, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

The legislation has been criticized by international human rights groups, who believe it would restrict the activities of religious organizations.

The law increases the number of people needed to officially register a religious organization from 10 people to 200 people, bans children from being involved in religious organizations, and prohibits people from proselytizing.

It also forbids the distribution of religious materials in public places, children's institutions, schools, and people from giving out such materials from house to house.

The new law includes new rules for the registration and annulment of religious organizations.

The legislation was supported by the Muslim Spiritual Council and the Russian Orthodox Church in Kyrgyzstan, but was criticized by many Kyrgyz and international organizations concerned with human rights.