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INTRODUCTION: The following was written in response to the accusation that Jehovah's Witnesses only hold their position of non-participation in political wars because they live in free and democratic countries that will respect that choice; the implication being that Jehovah's Witness do not practise their religion nor could they possibly maintain such a position in Islamic countries. There are currently just over 8 million Jehovah's Witnesses worldwide and this includes in countries with a predominently (over 50%) Muslim population, for example there are currently 26,741 Jehovah's Witnesses in Indonesia which is 88% Muslim, 2829 in Turkey (99% Muslim), 1,263 Witnesses in Senegal which has a 94% Muslim population. Are there any Jehovah's Witnesses in extremist Islamic states? There are approximately dozen or so countries that claim the totality or near total of its citizens are Muslim (95-100%). There are for the most part absolute monarchies or totalitarian regimes that do not ascribe to the principal of freedom of worship. Noteworthy however is the fact that nearly all of them (with the possible exception of the Islands of the Maldives) have had a small Witness presence at some time during their modern day history (see fig 1). The 1974 yearbook of Jehovah's Witesses states the following, regarding the Arab-speaking countries "Here we find very small groups of JehovahÂ’s witnesses [...]. These are all preaching the Kingdom good news, but under very severe difficulties. Trying to present the message of GodÂ’s kingdom to Moslems is most difficult. Furthermore, conditions continue to be very tense in the Middle East" - yb74 page 21 para 2. For example the yearbook of 1975 gives the example of the North African country of Morocco with a 99% Muslim population that "the work in Morocco continues in its second year under ban, but the brothers are very strong spiritually. It was necessary for quite a few Europeans to move out, so there was a decrease of about twenty publishers during the year." - yb 1975 p.8 par 5. Why are there no current figures for extremist or totalitarian Islamic States?Â Many of the countries now viewed as estremist Islamic republics were, during some period in their recent history, relatively liberal. The women in Iran for example in the 1970s were free to dress as the liked and the countries accepted Christian missionaries. In such climates the Jehovah's Witnesses religion generally discretely introduced to the areas. With war, politcal upheaval or a change in religious climate in most of the arab world, things changed, missionaries were forced to leave many of the countries and no figures have been published since (for the most part) the early to mid 1970s. This however does NOT mean there are is no longer a Witness presence in the country.Â Out of sight but still active History testifies that even if literature and foreign missionaries are banned interested native residents once contacted (either from letters or calls from overseas relatives or another means) generally continue to make progress and in turn preach to family, friends and discreetly to acqaintences and colleagues. The JWs numbers have historically continued to grow even under total ban or blanket oppression. For example the 1992 yearbook, report of the activity in Yemen: "field service and meeting reports are sketchy, but meetings continue to be held. A sister from another country, though separated from the other publishers, conducts several Bible studies. Thus, in fulfillment of Matthew 24:14, even in this country some witness is being given." of Qatar, the 1971 yearbook (p. 194) explains "The one brother in Qatar has carried on by himself during the year preaching the Kingdom good news to those who will listen. In this Moslem land the preaching of Christianity is not looked upon kindly, and the brother is not able to work openly from house to house. But through personal contacts he is able to spread the truth and place some literature, thus opening the way for further calls."Â The Jehovah's Witness leadership often continue to receive reports from these regions and support these ones as best they can but the Watchtower Society will not publish specific figures or inform their members of what measures are taken to help their brethren under ban. These figures,if available would come under the heading "other countries" in their public reports. According to the 2017 Report there are 31 Other lands where the witnesses are active but their work is restricted (R) or banned. The number of Witnesses in these lands totals 41,775. (see post above) LEGAL BATTLES IN ISLAMIC STATES It should be noted that the majority of countries in the above catagory do not guarantee freedom of religion and/or are failed States, in States that are more politically stable or Islamic States that are democratic in nature such as Turkey, Pakistan and Senegal the Witnesses numbers are higher despite the country being almost exclusively Muslim. That said in a number of these countries (such as Egypt, Eritrea, and countries that were formerly part of the Soviet Union such as Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Georgia and most famously Russia) the Witnesses have still faced imprisonment and restrictions and/or are presently engaged in legal battles to protect the rights of their membership (links provided). The relevance of this is that these legal battles themselves constitute proof that the Jehovah's Witnesses continue to practise their faith in these predominently Muslim countries. The 1980 report on Syria well illustrates the situation in all these countries, stating: "What the political and social future of this troubled land will be is uncertain. But it is certain that Jehovah will continue to accomplish the preaching of the good news in Lebanon and Syria until the Â“great tribulationÂ” ushers in his peaceful new system of things. The brothers in these countries pray that Jehovah will continue to use them in that work until it is finished" - yb 1980 p. 209 par 1 source: Legal developments (by region) When a State completely fails or war threatens the lives of the population the Witnesses like others may have to flee for their lives or go into hiding; they carry their faith with them and will even in those extreme circumstances look for opportunities to share their hope even if physically isolated from their brotherhood. Jehovah's Witnesses remain politically neutral even during ethnic conflicts. POLITICAL NEUTRALITY IN ISLAMIC STATES Jehovah's Witnesses take a very firm stand against violence and do not engage in military service. This position is not exclusive to democratic countries or countries with a predominently Christian population. For example in the African country of Eritrea (50% Muslim) 55 of it's members are currently in prison (some in perpetuality for 24 years) a number of whom were arrested for their position as consciensous objectors. This is also the case in countries such as Kyrgyzstan (80% Muslim) and Turkmenistan (89% Muslim) all of which have failed to comply with the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The exitence of these prisoners prove that the Jehovah's Witness position is held in Christian and Muslim countries no matter what the personal cost may be. ERITREA: Full list PDF download (scroll down) CONCLUSION: The available data indicates that Jehovah's Witnesses practice their religion in both free and democratic countries as well as in countries which have a predominently Muslim population and which do not respect internationally recognized human rights. The facts testify that their position as regard to the refusal to engage in military service (as well as what they see as the divine instruction to meet together for prayer and fellowship and preach the bible) continues even if their literature is banned and they are driven underground. Their experiences under totalitarian regimes such as under Hilter or in Stalin's Russia, testifies that being cut off from the free world does not mean that, as a people compromise their position. The accusation that Jehovah's Witnesses should "Go to [an] Islam[ic]" country before they have the right to speak about neutrality, as if they are cowardly restrict their activities to where they know their rights will be respect, displays an ignorance of the facts. Â Â
The two main religions in this Northeastern Coastal African nation of Eritrea are Sunni Islam and Orthodox Christianity, and publications including the World Atlas state that they will both be brutal in excluding other sects. In 2002 the government banned all unregistered religious institutions, and groups such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Pentecostals were subsequently hunted by the government for crimes as small as reading Christian bibles in their own time. As the BBC reported in 2004, offending Christians often had their heads shaved and were imprisoned in metal freight boxes, as many as thirty to a box. Even worse, and apparently practically routine, was a punishment where heretics’ wrists and legs would be tied together behind their backs before milk was poured on them to attract flies, known locally as “helicopter torture.” Little wonder that there are attempts underway to have the Eritrean government charged with crimes against humanity. source Eritrea uses horrific torture methods, why does the world not react?