Scientologists may have to stop their activity in Kazakhstan

Astana, Kazakhstan - The Kazakh State Agency for Religious Affairs has denied recognition as a religious organization to the republican association of scientologists, which means the latter may be denied re-registration, agency deputy head Marat Azilkhanov told Interfax on Thursday.

"They submitted founding documents for re-registration [as a religious organization]. Agency specialists concluded that the organization was not religious. So, we believe the scientology organization is not religious," he said.

The opinion of the experts was presented to the Justice Ministry, which would make a final decision concerning re-registration, Azilkhanov said.

"If the re-registration is denied, the police will appeal to court for ending the activity of the organization in Kazakhstan," Azilkhanov said.

He stressed they had no grounds to declare extremist the activity of the scientologists.

"There must be weighty grounds for banning an organization, and the biggest ground of all is the advocacy of extremist ideas. We have no grounds to say that [the scientologists] advocate such ideas now, which means we cannot ban them," he said.

The official added that certain non-traditional religious organizations had been re-registered in Kazakhstan.