By James Thomas Rook Jr.
Norway is the great catalyst that will force the GB to start thinking about basic human rights, as currently there is a lot of discussion in the Norwegian Government about " ... Why are we giving the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society Norwegian dollars (Kroners) every year from Tax money for their charities ... for EACH and every of the approximately 112,000 JWs in Norway (paraphrased), when they prohibit their members to vote"... which THEY consider to be an inalienable, and non-negotiable human right of all peoples, everywhere.
The WTB&TS is currently being governed by the Lawyers, Accountants, and the Finances department, with the GB not admitting being personally responsible for ANYTHING.
What we consider "reasonable", they consider EXTREMIST, and many European nations give tax money to ALL legitimate churches, without restriction on how they spend it.
By violating what these governments' and peoples' basic understanding on what constitutes extremism, soon, if not already, it is going to affect the flow of cash into the Society's Treasury.
One of several major concerns of the Governing Body is to not hemorrhage money, as it has been doing for years in the constant Child Sexual Abuse court cases.
THIS is what will drive any change .... not love ... not justice ...not fairness .... MONEY!
By the way .... has the Society recently decided that voting is a matter of personal conscience?
What I have read is so "weasel worded", I cannot tell.
By Guest Nicole
Con la tecnología de Traductor de Google
By Felix Corley, Forum 18
An "anti-extremism" raid on a Kokshetau shop captured a Koran and other Muslim books. The seller was fined for selling religious materials without state permission. She will have to appeal if she wants to regain the books. Icon and book sellers are often fined.
In an Anti-Extremism Police raid on a shop in Kokshetau in Kazakhstan's northern Akmola Region, officials seized an Arabic-language Koran and Muslim books in Kazakh and Russian on how to pray the namaz. The woman who had the books on sale was fined in early May, not for extremism-related activity but for selling Muslim literature without the state licence required to sell any religious literature and materials. She has to appeal if she wants the books returned, officials told Forum 18.A case against a Baptist in the nearby town of Stepnogorsk for offering Christian literature to others without state permission was dismissed because it had been lodged too late. Another Baptist is challenging the Judge due to hear his case (see below).In other cases in North Kazakhstan, West Kazakhstan and Kyzylorda Regions, individuals have been fined for offering or selling religious literature on the streets. In Karaganda Region two Jehovah's Witnesses were punished for "missionary activity" for talking to others about their faith with the use of literature. Two young Muslims were punished in Karaganda Region for sending Muslim texts on the Telegram messaging app. In Atyrau a court fined a woman for offering for sale nine Christian icons, while the same court fined a Muslim for teaching his faith with Muslim texts (see below).Officials often claim that those distributing or selling religious literature which has not undergone compulsory state religious censorship or in a place not approved to sell religious literature are guilty of spreading "extremism". Those who distribute non-approved Islamic texts are also often accused of distributing literature "of non-traditional Islam".The government allows only one Muslim organisation to function, the state-backed Muslim Board, which is Hanafi Sunni. It bans all other forms of Islam, although this ban is not prescribed in any law (see Forum 18's Kazakhstan religious freedom survey http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=1939).Restrictions on who can sell religious literature and where has stopped online retailers from offering religious books, though confusion abounds as to what constitutes "religious literature" (see below).Reached on 22 May, acting head of the Religious Affairs Committee Bakhytzhan Kulekeyev declined to discuss the state-imposed religious censorship – or anything else – with Forum 18.In addition to seizing religious books, icons and other items being sold or distributed without state permission, officials often seek the banning of religious books and webpages as "extremist". State-appointed "experts" ruled that statements by German Lutheran Pastor and Nazi-era political prisoner Martin Niemöller – published 70 years ago – are "extremist". Prosecutors may lodge a banning suit to court (see forthcoming F18News article).Tight state censorshipAll religious literature is under tight state censorship. Only books and other items approved by the Religious Affairs Committee, which is part of the Religion and Civil Society Ministry in the capital Astana, are allowed to be sold, distributed, printed or imported. In addition, only registered religious organisations (on their own premises) and book sellers with a state licence are allowed to sell or distribute religious literature (see Forum 18's Kazakhstan religious freedom survey http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=1939)."Anti-extremism" legal changes which came into force in January restricted imports of religious literature for "personal use" to one copy of any one book (see F18News 5 January 2017 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2243).Article 490, Part 1, Point 3 of the Administrative Code punishes: "Violating the requirements of the Religion Law for .. import, manufacturing, production, publication and/or distribution of religious literature and other religious materials, and items for religious use". The punishment for individuals is a fine of 50 Monthly Financial Indicators (MFIs).Administrative Code Article 490, Part 3 punishes: "Carrying out missionary activity without state registration (or re-registration), as well as the use by missionaries of religious literature, information materials with religious content or religious items without a positive assessment from a religious studies expert analysis, and spreading the teachings of a religious group which is not registered in Kazakhstan". The punishment is a fine of 100 MFIs, with deportation if the individual is a foreign citizen.A fine of 50 MFIs represents about a month's average wage for those in work.No religious books at online retailersThe requirement to have a state licence before a commercial book-seller can sell any religious literature means that online book retailers cannot sell religious literature. "Unfortunately we don't currently sell literature with religious themes," one Kazakhstan-based online retailer told Forum 18 from Almaty in late March. "Since the 2011 Religion Law came in, such literature can only be sold in specialised shops or through religious organisations."However, confusion surrounds what constitutes a "religious" book. Some online retailers still sell Leo Tolstoy's "Confession", in which the Russian novelist grappled with the meaning of human existence, or his "The Thoughts of Wise Men", a collection of sayings, including from the Christian Gospels, the Talmud and "Buddhist wisdom".Kokshetau: Selling "banned" religious literatureAnti-extremism police officer Y. Yergaliyev and Regional Religious Affairs Department Chief Specialist Galina Bessmertnaya raided a shop in a shopping centre in Kokshetau in Akmola Region on the afternoon of 7 February. The two had seen that religious literature was on sale.The officials seized all the religious books they could find: 57 copies of 14 different publications, according to the subsequent court decision. These included an Arabic-language Koran and Muslim books in Kazakh and Russian, among them several on how to pray the namaz.Officials sent the books to the Religion and Civil Society Ministry's Religious Affairs Committee in the capital Astana for "expert analysis". The Committee told Akmola Regional Religious Affairs Department that the books were religious.On 31 March Bessmertnaya drew up a record of an offence against the seller of the books, Vera Yafyasova, under Administrative Code Article 490, Part 1 for selling religious materials without the compulsory state approval.A 20 April Police statement on the case claimed that the Muslim literature Yafyasova had on sale was "banned" in Kazakhstan.A case was sent to Kokshetau Specialised Administrative Court. The hearing was repeatedly delayed because religious affairs official Bessmertnaya failed to come to court. On 5 May, Judge Serik Tuleyev found Yafyasova guilty and fined her 10 MFIs, 79,415 Tenge, according to the decision seen by Forum 18. It said the fine had been reduced because she had admitted her guilt and expressed remorse in court and because of her "financial position". The court decision did not say whether or not the seized books were to be returned to her or not. Bessmertnaya defended the seizure of the Muslim books. "All was done in accordance with the law," she told Forum 18 from Kokshetau on 22 May. "Yafyasova can apply to get the books back – there must be an official document before they can be returned." She then put the phone down.The head of the Regional Religious Affairs Department, Bolat Kasenov, insisted to Forum 18 the same day that Yafyasova and others need state permission before they can sell any religious book or item. "We're not violating anyone's rights – just read the law."Kasenov said the books are currently at the court as they constituted evidence in the case.Stepnogorsk: Offering literature on streetsPolice stopped two Baptists, Valery Zhigalov and Ruslan Sadvakasov, on 28 January as they were offering Christian literature to passers-by on the street outside the Siberia shopping centre in the town of Stepnogorsk in Akmola Region. Officers seized all their literature, 136 copies of various books, claiming that religious literature can be distributed only in state-approved locations, Baptists complained to Forum 18. "The Christian library has run continuously for 27 years," Baptists explained to Forum 18 on 14 April.Police took the two men to the police station. They told them that they would send the books for "expert analysis".On 5 April, Bessmertnaya of Akmola Regional Religious Affairs Department drew up records of an offence for each of the two Baptists under Administrative Code Article 490, Part 1, Point 3. The cases were then handed to Stepnogorsk Town Court on 10 April.Zhigalov's case was handed initially to Judge Gulmira Toleubayeva. However, he submitted a motion to have her replaced by another judge.On 17 May, Judge Aisulu Mamilyanova dismissed the case against Sadvakasov, according to the decision seen by Forum 18. Although she found that his unapproved distribution of religious literature had been illegal, she dismissed the case became the case had been submitted to court beyond the legal two-month deadline. The Judge did not say in her decision what should happen to the confiscated books.Bessmertnaya – who was present at Sadvakasov's hearing – would not discuss the cases with Forum 18.Ualikhanov: Offering literature on streetsOn 2 March, Ualikhanov District Court in North Kazakhstan Region punished a local Baptist, Roman Pugachev, for offering religious literature to others without state permission. Judge Serik Temirbekov found him guilty of violating Administrative Code Article 490, Part 1, Point 3 and fined him 50 MFIs, 113,450 Tenge, according to the decision seen by Forum 18. The Judge also banned him from conducting unspecified activity for three monthsAt lunchtime on 18 January, police had stopped him in the village of Novotroitse as he was offering religious literature to passers-by. Police drew up a record of an offence on 27 January. Pugachev told the court that he had indeed been offering Christian literature which had been provided on the basis of donations by church members.Oral: Offering literature on streetsA Baptist from Oral (Uralsk) in West Kazakhstan Region was again punished for exercising freedom of religion or belief, this time for offering religious literature to others. On 6 February Judge Roza Sariyeva of Oral Specialised Administrative Court found Serkali Kumargaliyev of violating Administrative Code Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, according to the decision seen by Forum 18. She fined him 50 MFIs, 106,050 Tenge.Kumargaliyev did not attend the hearing, but in a statement denied that he had been on the streets of the town near the university on the afternoon of 7 December 2016 when police claim he was distributing religious literature without state permission.A student told the court that an "unknown man" had given him a Christian leaflet which his sister had then handed to the police. At the police station the student identified Kumargaliyev from photos of a number of men officers showed him. On 30 December 2016, police then drew up a record of an offence against Kumargaliyev.In his statement Kumargaliyev freely declared that he often does often Christian literature to others in public places, insisting that "praising God is the breath of his life", according to the court decision.However, Baptists insisted to Forum 18 on 11 March that Kumargaliyev made no written statement and had not been informed about the court hearing. They say he learnt of it only on 23 February, when the written court decision reached him.On 31 January Terekti District Court sentenced Kumargaliyev to three days' imprisonment under Administrative Code Article 669, according to the decision seen by Forum 18. He was punished for refusing to pay fines handed down in 2013 and 2014 for exercising freedom of religion or belief.On 5 February Kumargaliyev was again fined – this time by the police - for participating in an unregistered meeting for worship. Six fellow-Baptists were fined with him (see F18News 25 April 2017 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2275).Kyzylorda: Selling literature on streetsKyzylorda Regional Anti-Extremism Police detained a 49-year-old local resident selling religious literature on the streets of Kyzylorda in a location not approved by the local authorities. Police claimed in a 28 April statement that the individual was of a "destructive religious movement", which they did not identify.A record of an offence was prepared and sent to Kyzylorda Specialised Administrative Court. The book-seller was fined 50 MFIs, according to the police statement. Neither the Court nor the Regional Religious Affairs Department would identify the individual.Police pointed out that the city of Kyzylorda has only three designated bookshops where religious literature and other items can legally be sold.Satpayev: Talking to others about faith, offering newspaperTwo Jehovah's Witnesses were punished in Satpayev in Karaganda Region for talking to a woman about their faith on 12 February without personal state registration as "missionaries" and distributing religious literature (a book and a magazine) which had not undergone the compulsory state religious censorship. The woman had called the police.On 17 February, police drew up a record of an offence against Karlygash Zholomanova and Fariza Iskakova under Administrative Code Article 490, Part 3. The cases were then handed to Satpayev Town Court.On 27 February, Judge Zhaksybek Skakov found Zholomanova guilty and fined her 100 MFIs, 226,900 Tenge, according to the decision seen by Forum 18. He ordered that the book and magazine be held in the case files.On 9 March, Judge Kanat Shaikamalov found Iskakova guilty and similarly fined her 100 MFIs, 226,900 Tenge, according to the decision seen by Forum 18. He ordered that a DVD confiscated from her be held in the case files but that a book confiscated from her be returned once the decision entered into force.Judge Nadezhda Kuznetsova of Karaganda Regional Court rejected Zholomanova's appeal on 28 March and Iskakova's appeal on 6 April, according to the decisions seen by Forum 18.The same Judge Skakov had fined a local Pentecostal, Natalya Konopleva, on 2 November 2016. She had offered ten copies of a Christian newspaper "From the Source" (published by her congregation, Agape) on 1 October 2016 in the shop where she worked. The Judge found her guilty of violating Administrative Code Article 490, Part 1 and fined her 50 MFIs, 106,050 Tenge. He also ordered that the eight remaining copies of the newspaper be held in the case file, according to the decision seen by Forum 18.Judge Yerlan Yermekov of Karaganda Regional Court rejected Konopleva's appeal against her fine on 5 December 2016, according to the decision seen by Forum 18.Karaganda: Online Muslim materialsTwo young Muslims in Karaganda, Eldar Zhakayev and Nurlan Dukenbayev, were fined for posting Muslim materials on the Telegram messaging app. On 12 April, Serik Tlekbayev, head of the department of the Regional Religious Affairs Department that liaises with the police, drew up records of an offence against the two for distributing such materials without state permission. He also accused them of distributing materials which had not undergone the state censorship and which were not related to "traditional Islam".On 5 May, Judge Almagul Aikenova of Karaganda Inter-District Specialised Administrative Court found Zhakayev guilty of violating Administrative Code Article 490, Part 1, Point 3. She fined him 50 MFIs, 113,450 Tenge, according to the decision seen by Forum 18. The decision does not identify the material he distributed, but states that it belonged to "non-traditional Islam".On 12 May the same Judge at the same Court found Dukenbayev guilty under Administrative Code Article 490, Part 3. She fined him 70 MFIs, 158,830 Tenge, according to court records.A 16 May statement from the Internal Policy Department of Karaganda Regional Akimat (administration) accused the two men, "who profess non-traditional Islam", of "distributing extremist ideology" and conducting "illegal missionary activity".The telephone of Tlekbayev of the Regional Religious Affairs Department went unanswered or was switched off each time Forum 18 called on 22 May. His colleague Kaisar Akbarov told Forum 18 he was unable to explain by phone what constitutes "traditional Islam" or what law bans Islamic material which the state does not consider to be in line with "traditional Islam".Atyrau: Icons, Arabic-language materialsOn 1 February Judge Zhanat Khabarov of Atyrau's Specialised Administrative Court found Svetlana Tashieva guilty of violating Administrative Code Article 490, Part 1, Point 3 for selling icons without state permission. He fined her 79,415 Tenge, according to the decision seen by Forum 18. She was also banned from commercial activity for three months. The Judge ordered that the icons be returned to her.Meiram Kikimbayev, Chief Specialist of the Regional Religious Affairs Department, discovered Tashieva offering nine Christian icons for sale without state permission at her kiosk in an Atyrau shopping centre on 15 November 2016. He drew up a record of an offence against her on 23 January 2017.Icons were seized from a bookseller in Oral in October 2013 and he was fined for selling them and religious literature without a state licence. An official of the government's then Agency for Religious Affairs in Astana told Forum 18: "We have experts to check icons" (see F18News 8 January 2014 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=1913).Meanwhile, on 23 February at the same court, Judge Saniya Kenzhaliyeva punished Shirazidin Temirkululy under Administrative Code Article 490, Part 3 for teaching Islam to children at a charitable centre in Atyrau on 27 December 2016. She fined him 100 MFIs, 226,900 Tenge. She also ordered that Arabic language Muslim books seized from him be returned, according to the decision seen by Forum 18.On 13 March, the Regional Court announced that Atyrau's Specialised Administrative Court fined an individual identified only as "T." 79,415 Tenge under Administrative Code Article 490, Part 1, Point 3 for selling Arabic-language Muslim materials in digital format at a stall in the city's Dina market. The Court also banned the individual from commercial activity for three months. Forum 18 has been unable to establish the identity of the individual punished."People must have state permission to sell icons and religious materials, including DVDs, in kiosks," Kikimbayev of the Regional Religious Affairs Department told Forum 18 from Atyrau on 24 March. (END)
By The Librarian
The US leader's comments marked a change in tone after his sometimes anti-Islamic rhetoric during the presidential race.
Trump urges Muslim leaders to 'drive out' terror
Donald Trump has likened the fight against Islamic extremism to a battle between "good and evil" and not different faiths.
Speaking to leaders from around 50 Muslim-majority countries in Saudi Arabia, the President attacked militants as "barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life".
The US leader urge the nations to "confront Islamic terror of all kinds", deny sanctuary to extremists and stand together against the murder of innocent Muslims by groups like Islamic State.
According to Mr Trump, "95% of the victims of terrorist attacks are themselves Muslims".
He said America was seeking a "coalition of nations" in the Middle East with the aim of "stamping out extremism".
Trump in Saudi: 'Tremendous progress tackling IS' He said the countries "cannot wait for American power to crush this enemy for them".
Striking a conciliatory line, his comments marked a change in tone for Mr Trump after his remarks during the presidential campaign where he told the US: "Islam hates us."
Addressing the Arab-Islamic American Summit in Riyadh, he said: "We now face a humanitarian and security disaster in this region that is spreading."
Saudi King: 'Islam is the religion of peace' Mr Trump told leaders at the meeting that he brought "a message of friendship and hope and love", and urged Muslim countries to ensure "terrorists find no sanctuary on their soil".
He announced a deal with Gulf countries to crackdown on the funding of extremists.
The President also hit out at Iran, accusing Tehran of "fuelling the fires of sectarian conflict".
He said among Iran's destabilising interventions was in Syria, where President Bashar al Assad has "committed unspeakable crimes".
"From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms and trains terrorists, militias and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region," Mr Trump said.
Sky's Foreign Affairs Editor Sam Kiley said the President's comments "will be very much welcomed by the predominantly Sunni attendees from some 50 nations.
"And it will strike a degree of horror into (Shia-dominated) Iran.
"Terrorism is sponsored through groups like Hizbollah, by Iran, but there are also Sunni Islamic terrorist groups that the Iranians are fighting, not least Islamic State in Syria."
Mr Trump also called upon countries around the world to work together to end the humanitarian crisis in Syria.
Нижегородскую Церковь летающего макаронного монстра официально признали
Минюст РФ признал деятельность Церкви летающего макаронного монстра, которая находится в Нижнем Новгороде.
С просьбой о регистрации в министерство обратился глава объединения Михаил Иосилевич. В ответ он получил официальное уведомление о том, что Церковь летающего макаронного монстра внесена в ведомственный реестр.
В документе указали адрес места проведения богослужений, церемоний и других обрядов, сообщает сайт «Комсомольской правды».
Церковь летающего макаронного монстра или пастафарианство — пародийная религия, основанная в 2005 году в США. Ее сторонники верят в Летающего макаронного монстра, напоминающего макароны с тефтелями. В России первый храм пастафарианцев открылся в Нижнем Новгороде в марте 2016 года.
By Guest Nicole
The NSC secret police in Khujand arrested Protestant pastor Bakhrom Kholmatov on 10 April after raiding his church and seizing Christian literature. Officials claim songbooks and a book "More Than a Carpenter" are "extremist". The pastor is being investigated on "extremism" criminal charges.
On 10 April the National Security Committee (NSC) secret police in Tajikistan's northern Sogd Region arrested Bakhrom Kholmatov, Pastor of the Sunmin Sunbogym (Good News of Grace) Protestant Church in the regional capital Khujand. He remains in NSC secret police custody, apparently under investigation on criminal charges of "extremism". The charges follow the seizure of Christian books during a raid on his Church.
"Pastor Kholmatov's family and Church members don't know what the NSC secret police is doing with him," Protestants from Sogd Region who are closely following the situation and who, for fear of state reprisals, asked not to give their names, complained to Forum 18 on 20 April. They said they have had no news of Pastor Kholmatov's physical conditions or state of health since his arrest.
Reached on 28 April, the duty officer at the NSC secret police in the capital Dushanbe refused to transfer Forum 18's call to anyone. He consulted a colleague, then gave another number, which turned out to be that of a pharmacy (which said it often receives calls from people given the number by various state agencies). Called back, the NSC duty officer again said he would consult a colleague, then came back and told Forum 18 it had called a wrong number. He then put the phone down.
The Deputy Head of the State Committee for Religious Affairs in Dushanbe, Khuseyn Shokirov, refused to explain why Pastor Kholmatov is under arrest accused of "extremism" (see below).
The NSC secret police, together with the State Committee for Religious Affairs and other law-enforcement agencies, began raiding Sunmin Sunbogym's affiliated congregations in Sogd Region in early February. Officials closed down the congregation in the town of Konibodom in March after interrogating and beating church members. NSC secret police officers arrested Pastor Kholmatov after they raided the Khujand Church in April (see below).
Meanwhile, officials in Dushanbe have closed down two kindergartens. One was closed after officials found a Christian songbook, the other apparently because Protestants were employed there (see below).
Officials have not revealed what criminal charges Pastor Kholmatov will or might face. The Criminal Code punishes a number of crimes related to "extremism".
Criminal Code Article 307-2 punishes "leading or organising an extremist community". Punishments are prison terms of up to 12 years (if conducted by an individual using their official position). The Article allows an individual to be freed from punishment if they voluntarily agree to stop their activity. This Article was among several related to "extremism" added to the Criminal Code in December 2015.
As elsewhere in the region, the Tajik authorities frequently use "extremism"-related charges to punish individuals for exercising freedom of religion or belief outside the framework of religious communities that the state allows to operate. Such charges are mainly levelled against Muslims.
In April 2016, a court in Sogd Region handed down an eight year prison term to Imam Khamid Karimov, the leader of the Mosque in Unji-Bobojon village. The Judge handed down seven year prison terms to each of four members of his Mosque. These – and many other Muslims, especially those accused of being Salafis – were imprisoned using Criminal Code "extremism" punishments (see F18News 19 May 2016 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2180).
Harsh state restrictions on exercising freedom of religion or belief
In defiance of its international human rights obligations, Tajikistan severely restricts rights to freedom of religion or belief. The authorities impose a ban on all exercise of freedom of religion or belief without state permission; severe limitations on the numbers of mosques permitted and activities allowed inside those mosques; arbitrary official actions, including the arrests of Jehovah's Witnesses using police agent provocateurs; bans on Jehovah's Witnesses and some Islamic and Protestant movements; the banning of Central Asia's only legal religious-based political party, the Islamic Renaissance Party, and the arrest as prisoners of conscience of its senior party figures; forcing imams in state-controlled mosques (the only sort permitted) to preach state-dictated sermons; forcible closure of all madrassahs (Islamic religious schools); a ban on all public exercise of freedom of religion or belief, apart from funerals, by people under the age of 18; and state censorship of and bans on some religious literature and websites (see Forum 18's Tajikistan religious freedom survey http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2138).
Interrogations, beatings to close church
Sunmin Sunbogym Protestant Church in Khujand was officially registered with the State Committee for Religious Affairs in 1993 as a "missionary centre" (Forum 18 has seen the certificate). After the new Religion Law entered into force in 2009, when all registered religious communities were required to re-register to continue to be allowed to exist, the Church was re-registered on 23 October 2009. Its affiliated congregations gained local registration.
In early February 2017, the NSC secret police, together with the State Committee for Religious Affairs and other law-enforcement agencies, began raiding Sunmin Sunbogym's affiliated congregations in Sogd Region. They particularly targeted the church in the town of Konibodom.
The authorities "put all kinds of pressure on the Church leaders and members so that they would cooperate with the Police for the closure of the Church in Konibodom," Protestants complained to Forum 18. "Officers insulted the believers by shouting and swearing at them. They demanded that they renounce their faith and leave the Church." The Protestants lamented that "some believers were even beaten." Finally in March the authorities sealed the church building, they added.
The Protestants added that some members of the Konibodom Church were dismissed from their jobs under NSC secret police pressure. For fear of state reprisals, they declined to give the names or the details of the dismissals.
Asked why officials had forcibly closed down the Konibodom Church, Khuseyn Shokirov, Deputy Head of the State Committee for Religious Affairs in Dushanbe, overseeing work with religious organisations, insisted to Forum 18 on 26 April: "The Church was closed down because its members wished so, and it is their internal matter." He gave no evidence for his claim.
Why is Pastor being charged with "extremism"?
In early April the authorities began raids on the central Sunmin Sunbogym Church in Khujand. They searched all the Church's premises, Protestants told Forum 18. Officers seized Christian songbooks and other literature.
As in Konibodom, the law-enforcement officers in Khujand "interrogated believers and beat them." They complained that the authorities "threatened them that they must cooperate with them." NSC officers arrested Pastor Kholmatov after these raids.
NSC secret police told Church members during interrogations that their "purpose is to close down Churches in Tajikistan and take away their property," Protestants told Forum 18.
Lieutenant Colonel Mashraf Istamzoda, Chief of Sogd Regional Criminal Police, and Amis Usmanov, Chief of the Region's Organised Crime Police, said that the Police are not involved in Pastor Kholmatov's case. Istamzoda told Forum 18 from Khujand on 26 April that the NSC secret police "usually leads such cases".
The NSC secret police "could not find anything illegal" in the activity of Sunmin Sunbogym Church, Protestants from Sogd told Forum 18. Officers then decided to use the Church's Christian hymns from a songbook and Christian books against the Pastor.
The NSC secret police asserts that the songs "Praise God, oh the godless country," "God's army is marching," "Our fight is not against flesh and blood," are "extremist". Protestants pointed out that the words of these songs are references to texts of the Bible. Officers told Church members during interrogations that these songs are "extremist and call on the people to overthrow the government".
The NSC secret police also deemed one book they had found, "More Than a Carpenter" by American Protestant author Josh McDowell, "extremist". Officers told Church members that the group of religious "experts" concluded that both this book, and the songs, are "extremist".
"All these so called experts are Imams," Protestants complained. "How can Muslim experts give an opinion of Christian literature as extremist?"
"Experts" on religious literature of the State Committee in Dushanbe, Abdurakhmon Mavlanov and Alinazar Aliyev, told Forum 18 on 25 April that "no list" of banned Christian books exists in Tajikistan. "We undertake an expert analysis of each Christian book and then make our decision whether or not it can be allowed for import or distribution," Mavlanov told Forum 18. The two officials did not discuss state censorship of religious literature of other faiths, including Islamic literature.
Asked whether McDowell's book "More Than a Carpenter" is allowed for distribution in Tajikistan, both "Experts" gave similar answers: "I am not sure." Mavlanov asked Forum 18 to call back the next day, 26 April. The telephones of Mavlanov and Aliyev went unanswered between 26 and 27 April.
Told that according to the State Committee "Experts" no Christian books are banned in Tajikistan, State Committee Deputy Head Shokirov refused to discuss this or any further questions and put the phone down.
All religious literature must undergo state censorship before it can be printed, published, distributed, sold or imported. Those who violate these censorship provisions are liable to punishment (see Forum 18's Tajikistan religious freedom survey http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2138).
Dushanbe kindergartens closed for Christian songbook, employing Protestants
Meanwhile, authorities in Dushanbe closed down two kindergartens where Protestant Christians were employed, Protestants from Dushanbe, who asked not to give their names or details of the closures for fear of state reprisals, complained to Forum 18 on 20 April. "In one kindergarten the authorities found a songbook of Christmas carols during a raid," they explained. "The other one was closed down just because they found that Christians worked in it."
The authorities have particularly targeted any educational activity related or perceived to be related to religion. Officials finally closed the country's last surviving state-approved madrasahs (Islamic religious schools for children) in 2016 (see F18News 6 September 2016 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2213). (END)
Polar, the leader of Jehovah’s witnesses was fined 5 thousand rubles for possession of extremist literatureBy Guest Nicole
The Murmansk. March 15. INTERFAX – the Chairman of the Committee of the religious organization “Jehovah’s Witnesses” in Snezhnogorsk Andrey Eliseev fined for possession of extremist materials, said the press service of the Prosecutor of the Murmansk region.
Concerning A. Eliseeva was instituted administrative proceedings under art 20.29 KoAP of the Russian Federation on storage for mass distribution of extremist materials.
Forbidden literature was found by the police in the house of prayer snezhnogorskaya “Jehovah’s Witnesses” in October last year. Materials were stored in violation of the requirements of the Federal law on combating extremist activities and on freedom of conscience and religious associations, emphasize in Prosecutor’s office.
According to the results of the trial Eliseev found guilty of the alleged offense. The resolution of the Polar district court he was fined 5 thousand rubles.
By Guest Nicole
MOSCOW, April 15 (RAPSI, Artem Ponomarev) – Russia’s Supreme Court on Friday declined to ban the Jehovah’s Witnesses of Tyumen as extremist organization, RAPSI reports from the courtroom.
The Tyumen Regional Court ordered the liquidation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses branch in 2015. The court granted a motion filed by prosecutors and declared the group extremist.The Supreme Court thus reversed the lower court’s ruling.
According to a representative for the Jehovah’s Witnesses branch, the case has been framed up.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have had many legal problems in Russia.
In March 2015, a court in Tyumen fined the organization 50,000 rubles ($752) and seized prohibited literature.
In January 2014, a court in Kurgan ruled to ban the organization’s booklets as extremist. The books talk about how to have a happy life, what you can hope for, how to develop good relations with God and what you should know about God and its meaning.
In late December 2013, the leader of the sect’s group in Tobolsk, Siberia was charged with extremism and the prevention of a blood transfusion that nearly led to the death of a female member of the group.
In 2004, a court in Moscow dissolved and banned a Jehovah’s Witnesses group on charges of recruiting children, encouraging believers to break from their families, inciting suicide and preventing believers from accepting medical assistance.
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