20 February 2018

RUSSIA: Two criminal trials, three criminal investigations

The criminal trial of Danish Jehovah's Witness Dennis Christensen, accused of "continuing the activities of a banned extremist organisation", began in Oryol after nearly nine months' detention. Investigators launched three similar criminal investigations against Jehovah's Witnesses in Belgorod, Kemerovo and Oryol. Arkady Akopyan is on trial for inciting religious hatred. [read more...]

19 February 2018

TAJIKISTAN: Amendments impose even tighter state control

Religion Law amendments allow the state to restrict freedom of religion or belief on illegitimate grounds, increase religious communities' reporting obligations, require state approval for all imams, and increase state control on religious education. "We do not need to be afraid of control," said parliamentary deputy Muradullo Davlatov. [read more...]

16 February 2018

AZERBAIJAN: Extra prison term for Koran micro-discs

A Court added 10 weeks to prisoner of conscience Taleh Bagirov's 20-year prison term for having micro-discs of the Koran in his cell. The Supreme Court rejected Sardar Babayev's appeal against a three-year prison term for leading mosque prayers while having foreign religious education. Six months after a Court ordered compensation for illegal imprisonment, two Jehovah's Witnesses have received nothing. [read more...]

15 February 2018

TURKEY: Why can't Armenians elect a Patriarch?

The state has again blocked the long-delayed election of a new Armenian Apostolic Patriarch, arguing that such an election would be contrary to the community's traditions. Yet, freedom of religion or belief protects the right of religious communities to elect leaders in accordance with their traditions as they interpret them. [read more...]

13 February 2018

AZERBAIJAN: State's theological review bans book on Islam

The State Committee for Work With Religious Organisations – which implements the state's prior compulsory censorship of all religious literature – banned a book on Islam by Muslim theologian Elshad Miri. An official deemed it "unsuitable for publication" because he disagreed with it theologically. [read more...]

6 February 2018

AZERBAIJAN: Sufis raided, initial fine, Protestants raided

Sufi Muslim Rashad Abidov was fined in Sheki for hosting a religious meeting raided by police, but managed to overturn the fine on appeal. Police raided Star in the East Pentecostal Church in Gyanja during Sunday worship. Police phoned the schools of children present. Fines might follow. [read more...]

1 February 2018

KYRGYZSTAN: Burial blocked with violence "resolved peacefully"?

An imam admitted to Forum 18 he had, accompanied by a "mob" of young men and officials, blocked a Christian's burial in the state-owned cemetery in Barskoon in Issyk-Kul Region. He then denied all responsibility and tried to blame everything on villagers. [read more...]

31 January 2018

KAZAKHSTAN: 279 administrative prosecutions in 2017 - list

Full list of 279 known administrative prosecutions in 2017 to punish exercising freedom of religion or belief. Of these, 259 ended up with punishments, including fines, a short-term jail term, deportations, worship bans, seizures and destruction of religious literature. [read more...]