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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kazak President Decries Religious Extremism

ALMATY, Kazakstan - Kazakstan must step up its efforts against religious extremism and the activities of religious organizations in the Central Asian country should be monitored closely, President Nursultan Nazarbayev said Tuesday.

Nazarbayev, like leaders of other former Soviet republics in the region, has established a strong secular rule, showing little tolerance for Islamic movements, human-rights activists and other dissent.

The leaders argue they have to be tough to prevent the spread of Islamic fundamentalism following the rise of Taliban militia to power in Afghanistan.

Speaking at a conference of local administration heads in Astana, the capital, Nazarbayev said efforts against extremism face difficult challenges.

"In this field, there is more anxiety than hope," he said.

"Illegal religious propaganda is carried out at colleges and even in prisons. New mosques and prayer houses are built at random," Nazarbayev said. "It is necessary to check on the legality of the actions of all religious organizations and their leaders."