Kazakhstan's upper house of parliament approved a bill Thursday that backers say will help combat religious extremism, but that critics call a blow to freedom of belief in the ex-Soviet nation.
The bill approved by the Senate will require existing religious organizations in the mainly Muslim nation to dissolve and register again through a procedure that is virtually guaranteed to exclude smaller groups, including minority Christian communities.
Passage of the bill marks a reversal of authoritarian President Nursultan Nazarbayev's earlier attempts to cast Kazakhstan as a land of religious tolerance. One activist estimates that two-thirds of existing religious groups could be abolished as a result of the new law.
Maybe, if they're lucky, the Kazakh Christians will get a taste of the Arab Spring. Other Christians seem to be thrilled about it.