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Kazakh court acquits Christian set-up by police for sharing Bible app

Central Asia

Kazakh court acquits Christian set-up by police for sharing Bible app

A Christian woman accused of “illegal missionary activity” for demonstrating how to download a Bible smartphone app was acquitted by a regional court in Shymkent, south Kazakhstan, on 13 March 2018.

Sultanova Dilobarkhon met a woman in church in December 2017, who later asked her to rendezvous near a local café, so she could show her how to download a Bible app onto her phone. Minutes after Sultanova showed the woman how to download the Bible, she was arrested by police in what appeared to be a deliberate set up.

Sultanova was acquitted by a judge on 13 March. The court noted that the Bible “is not banned literature in the Republic of Kazakhstan” and found that Sultanova was not guilty of “illegal missionary activity”, as the church attendance of the woman who asked for her assistance to download the Bible had been documented.

However, the same judge ordered the Protestant church Sultanova attends to temporarily close down last month (22 February) for allegedly failing to comply with a health and safety order.

In January 2017, a fire inspector ordered the church to install two more fire detectors in a storage building on church property. The building already had three fire detectors. The church did as requested, but despite receiving no written notice of its failure to meet fire safety regulations and complying with the request of the inspector, it was fined the equivalent of £535 and ordered to suspend meetings for one month.