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Forum 18 News Service

Forum 18 News Service: The right to believe, to worship and witness. The right to change one's belief or religion. The right to join together and express one's belief.

Last Build Date: Tue, 20 Feb 2018 18:34:52 +0100

Copyright: Copyright: (C) Forum18 News Service,

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.