Sunday, October 13, 2013

Kazakh pastor faces new charges

Kazakhstan (MNN) ― A Kazakh pastor has been rearrested on new charges after already being in prison for 5 months. Pastor Bakhytzhan Kashkumbaev was arrested in May for "inflicting damages" on one of his parishioners through his sermons. 

Kashkumbaev spent about a month in a psychiatric clinic during his pretrial detention. The court in Astana recently ruled that he could be transferred to house arrest due to his poor health. On October 8, police rearrested Kashkumbaev on new charges, just moments after he was released from the detention center in Astana.

As Mission Network News posted in June, Wade Kusack with Russian Ministries says Kashkumbaev was accused of serving hallucinogens in a "red drink." He says, "The 'red drink' that was confiscated from the church was just red tea to serve as non-alcoholic communion."

Along with original charges, other charges include exerting psychological influence over the congregation. During the first court hearing, police showed a video of prayers and singing that was made during one of the services.

Kashkumbaev's lawyer, Nrulan Beisekeev, stated the new charges on Kashkumbaev were related to alleged extremism. 

As a Christian converted from Islam, Kashkumbaev and his supporters insist that the charges against him are politically motivated. Because of Kazakhstan's new religious law, Kusack and other Christians in Kazakhstan believe he was arrested and rearrested as punishment from law enforcement officials who consider themselves Muslim. 

Kashkumbaev poses a threat to Muslims because he says everyone should be able to practice their own religion freely. 
According to the Open Doors 2013 World Watch List, Kazakhstan is #48 out of the 50 ranking countries where Christian persecution is most severe. Pray for the permanent release of Pastor Kashkumbaev.

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