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Russia Should Embrace Its Religious Diversity (Op-Ed)

How will Europe’s tellurian rights justice respond to a supervision that treats a pacifist eremite organisation as a dangerous nonconformist cell? The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) will answer that doubt this summer when it manners on whether Russia’s assign of Jehovah’s Witnesses underneath the extremism law criminalizes leisure of religion or belief.

A ruling opposite the Kremlin could be a landmark preference for Russia, inspiring not usually Jehovah’s Witnesses. From Muslims to dissenting members of the Moscow Patriarchate Russian Orthodox Church (MPROC), other Russians are also held in the far-reaching net expel by this overly extended law.

Under the extremism law, eremite element is criminialized via Russia once a higher justice upholds a lower justice statute that it is “extremist.” Convicted people face adult to four years in prison. As of this June, Russia’s list of banned materials reached 2,859 items, carrying started in 2007 with 15 items.

The ECHR is reviewing 22 cases of Russian justice bans of 72 Jehovah’s Witness texts, including a children’s book called “My Book of Bible Stories.”

Russia enacted the extremism law in 2002, only months after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States. Two of the law’s supplies tangible eremite extremism as compelling the “exclusivity, superiority, or miss of equal value of an individual” and “incitement of religious discord” in connection with acts or threats of violence.

How did these supplies concede Russia to target Jehovah’s Witnesses or other pacific eremite minorities?

Officials began to interpret the first sustenance as compelling the superiority of a faith rather than an individual, discordant to the text’s plain meaning. And in 2007, Russia nice the law to allow assign for inciting eremite conflict even in the deficiency of any hazard or act of violence.

Since each organisation believes the possess convictions to be in some clarity superior, any organisation could face an extremism charge. And since inciting “religious discord” is no longer related to advocating or perpetrating violence, those advocating eremite views face intensity rapist charges of incitement.

But in practice, the Russian authorities selectively aim certain eremite groups, including Jehovah’s Witnesses. In August 2013, Russia even criminialized the group’s general website — the only republic to do so. In early 2014, a regional justice overturned this ruling.

And it was not until May 2015 that the Russian Justice Ministry authorised the Jehovah’s Witnesses to operate as a legal village in Moscow — 5 years after the ECHR ruled opposite Russia’s refusal to do so.

But it is Russia’s 20 million Muslims who are targeted the most by the focus of the new law, with Muslims condemned to prison terms notwithstanding enchanting in peaceful observances and activities.

A court in 2007 criminialized the Russian translations of 14 Quran commentaries by Turkish clergy Said Nursi due to his reporting Islam’s superiority. Five years later, in response to an Orenburg court’s anathema of 65 Muslim texts released “by literally all Islamic publishers in Russia,” the Council of Muftis protested that this statute constituted “the reconstruction of total ideological control” suggestive of the Soviet era.

Although a local justice partially overturned this anathema progressing this year, it still is misleading what this statute means in practice. The Council of Muftis is appealing this anathema to the ECHR. In September 2013, the Novorossiisk District Court even criminialized a translation of the Quran itself and ordered the destruction, a ruling that opportunely was overturned 3 months later.

So because is Moscow targeting these groups?

Russia believes they bluster inhabitant security; the Kremlin includes in this tenure informative as good as earthy threats to the Russian state. It considers the MPROC the nation’s arch informative and religious essence and views certain other eremite groups as competitors and dangers to Russia’s unity. So when Jehovah’s Witnesses or Muslims claim opposite eremite views, officials insist Russia is somehow harmed.

But the opposite is the case. With some 185 strictly famous racial groups, Russia is distant from being a cultural, eremite or racial monolith. To combat this farrago by suppressing minority religions promises more — not less — disharmony and conflict.

Advancing the myth of a monolithic Russian enlightenment by repressing eremite minorities also clearly violates the internationally famous right to freedom of religion or belief. This hang-up is a major cause pushing the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, on which we serve, to designate Russia a serious eremite leisure abuser. In March of last year, the European Union reiterated the clever antithesis to the law.

Now the ball rests in the European Court of Human Rights. A ruling in favor of the Jehovah’s Witnesses will be the latest call to improve both leisure and security in Russia.

M. Zuhdi Jasser is clamp chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). Katrina Lantos Swett is a USCIRF commissioner.

Article source: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/article/526235.html

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