Kazakhstan's Senate approved on Thursday tougher laws on religious activity in the Central Asian state, ignoring criticism. The new law, which will ban prayer rooms in state institutions, will have to be signed into law by President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Kazakhstan's veteran leader proposed tough new laws to his compliant legislature a month ago. Around 70 per cent of the 16.5-million population in Kazakhstan is Muslim. Kazakhstan also last month temporarily blocked access to a number of foreign Internet sites after a court ruling. The law also requires the review of all religious literature and the mandatory annual registration of all foreign missionaries, who can be expelled if deemed to pose a threat to the "constitutional order and public peace". Authorities say they want to stop the spread of extremism into Kazakhstan, the most prosperous of Central Asia's nations, from the overpopulated and impoverished Ferghana Valley shared by ex-Soviet neighbours Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. A day earlier, Kazakhstan's lower house of parliament had voted in favour of the bill.