Astana: The Muslim-majority country of Kazakhstan is contemplating a potential ban on the wearing of Islamic headscarves in public spaces as part of its efforts to combat extremism.
Culture and Information Minister Aida Balayeva, during a press briefing in Astana, indicated that the authorities are reviewing and updating existing laws, which, in her view, lack the necessary tools to address religious extremism and what she referred to as “non-traditional religious movements.”
Balayeva highlighted a significant gap in the current legislation, stating, “The existing laws don’t even contain the term ‘destructive religious cults,’” as reported by news agency Kazinform.
When asked if the government plans to prohibit the wearing of Islamic headscarves and other religious attire, Balayeva responded, “We will certainly examine and propose such regulations, at least for public spaces. Such rules are implemented worldwide because they pertain to national security. It becomes very challenging to identify individuals in public spaces when their faces are covered.”
According to the 2021 census, approximately 65 per cent of Kazakhstan’s population is Muslim, with 20 per cent identifying as Orthodox Christians.