Countering Extremism vs. Freedom of Online Expression: The Case of Kazakhstan

CAISS Director Anna Gussarova argues that it is necessary for the Kazakh government to balance between countering extremism and freedoms while educating people.

With a major shift in the balance between citizens’ civil liberties and security, to the detriment of the former, the Kazakh government’s efforts to counter extremism and terrorism have led to a significant level of securitization within the country, in particular challenging freedom of online expression. Though the state puts great effort into countering religious extremism, the terminology of the extremism law is vague and confusing. Are extremism and incitement of hatred synonymous? Can violations of territorial integrity and sovereignty be considered extremism, or are these crimes connected to separatism? What indicators for extremism or incitement of hatred should be incorporated into the law? Not only should the terminology of the law be improved, but public information campaigns regarding it are needed to help citizens better understand what the law prohibits and permits. Otherwise, it is likely that simple ignorance of the content of the law will result in a growing number of people being arrested unnecessarily on charges of inciting national or religious hatred in the years to come. The paper discusses the need to develop public information campaigns that would educate Kazakhstani citizens about extremism-related laws and practices.

The full paper is available here.

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