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Kazakhstan: Not Nice?

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November 25, 2006


Kazakhstan: Not Nice?News


borat-thumb.jpg Jagshemash. I’ve seen Borat twice and I’m enchanted; I’m also aware that many of you aren’t. Some of you worry that Kazakhstan is being exploited and humiliated in a huge way, since the movie is so popular. I understand, especially since the movie is depicting a country that is more fictional than real— the “village” scenes were filmed in Romania and neither Russian nor Kazakh are ever spoken (Borat speaks Hebrew mingled with a few other things to Azamat, who replies back in Armenian).

Anyway, since “Borat” isn’t about the real Kazakhstan, I thought I’d find out more about the quondam Soviet republic:



Kazakhstan is the largest and one of the wealthiest of the countries in the Central Asian region. Although it was considered a liberal society, there have been allegations of harassment of religious minorities like protestant Christians, non-state-controlled Muslims and Hindu sects.



Kazakhstan is not a signatory to the UN’s International covenant on Civil and Political Rights or to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.[

Well that just proves that Borat has nothing to do with the Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan— he picks on Jews and Gypsies but says nothing regarding Hindus. Meanwhile, in the land he was supposedly acquiring cultural learnings for…


The Hindu Forum of Britain alleged that 60 riot police and bulldozers assembled inside a Hindu temple in Kazakhstan and allegedly demolished five Hindu houses

When Tony Blair met with Kazakhstan’s President, Nursultan Nazarbayev in London, he rightly expressed concern about such disturbing events, which are apparently targeting ISKCON devotees and their temple. But it’s not just about a temple:



…Kazakh Hindus who applied for ownership of their houses were asked to declare that they were not Hindus, while non-Hindus who made similar applications were immediately granted ownership rights[

Hmmm. The government of Kazakhstan maintains that the temple was built illegally, but that doesn’t explain why the homes of Hindus are also being destroyed. Predictably, ISKCON coordinated a protest outside Kazakhstan’s embassy:


ISKON devotees, protesting the incident, went on a rampage outside the Kazakhstan Embassy in Delhi.



While the Kazhakh authorities claim the temple was built illegally, devotees call it a religious persecution.

…10 dozen ISKON devotees were pushed out of their homes in the winter chill as authorities knocked down their houses into rubble.[link] Now I’m going to be as ignorant as the character I find so hilarious and ask my mutineers a question: does it matter to you that this is about an ISKCON temple? Does it lessen your potential outrage? I don’t know a ton about this group, I just remember seeing them at airports and that my parents had nothing to say about them, when asked. Combine this memory with some of the comments a few of you have made about ISKCON and I think we have an explanation for my confusion. Was I wrong about your ambivalence? Enlighten me, why don’t you… :)

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