Iran Divided Over the Right of Non-Muslims to Hold Office
Muslim and non-Muslim Iranians took to social media to express their disagreement when Zoroastrian Sepanta Niknam was suspended from his city council seat because of his religion. Niknam defeated a Muslim candidate in the election last year in Yazd, a historic city in central Iran.
FECRIS and the Erosion of Religious Neutrality in the French State
A video and the text of a paper by lawyer Dr. Patricia Duval titled “Anti-sect movements and State neutrality: FECRIS and its member associations in France” was presented at an international convention of held in Florence—Law and Freedom of Belief in Europe, an arduous journey.
What the Faith Community Can Do About Online Hate Speech
An article by the United Church of Christ's media justice ministry published on Medium.com explores online hate speech, how it is spread and what can be done to stop it.
The Role of FECRIS in Russia’s Anti-Hindu Activities
An article in the Daily Caller titled “Russia is Waging War on Religious Minorities and Hindus are Their Next Target,” calls attention to FECRIS and especially Alexander Dvorkin as the force driving this repression forward.
American Pastor, Jailed in Turkey, Now to Stand Trial
A Presbyterian pastor from North Carolina faces up to 35 years in Turkish prison for charges he asserts are untrue. Rev. Andrew Brunson, who has led a small congregation in Izmir, Turkey, for the past two decades, was arrested in October 2016 and held without charges.
Incriminating German Government Files Exposed in New Book
In a public forum March 21 at the Church of Scientology Berlin, former sect commissioner Dr. Peter Schulte, author of Dei Akte Scientology (The Scientology File), described German government collusion to violate the rights of Scientologists and the Scientology religion.
Baha’i Leader Believes People Can Live Together in Peace
Saeed Rezaei, 61, spent time with his family for the first time in a decade on being released from Iran’s Rajaei Shahr Prison after serving 10 years of a 20-year sentence.
Religious Freedom Defender Jailed in Cuba
Leonardo Rodríguez Alonso, a prominent Cuban advocate for freedom of religion or belief, was released from detention March 2.
February 10, 2018 •
Newsweek: Alexander Dvorkin Accused of Harassing Hindu Guru
In a Newsweek article February 6, staff writer Cristina Maza reports on a concerted campaign of harassment against popular Hindu religious leader Shri Prakash Ji that he claims is the work of anti-cultist Alexander Dvorkin.
February 4, 2018 •
Kazakhstan: A Bleak Year for Religious Freedom
As reported in Forum 18, there were 279 known administrative prosecutions in Kazakhstan to punish the exercising of freedom of religion or belief in 2017.
January 29, 2018 •
Baha’i Refugees Find Religious Freedom in Arizona
Praying in a private home is customary for members of the Baha’i faith. That is because in their native Iran, practicing their religion in any visible place of worship could lead to their death.
January 11, 2018 •
After Nine Years in a Pakistan Prison for Blasphemy, Free at Last
Mohammad Mansha (58) is a happy man today. The Punjab resident is home after serving the last nine years in prison on a life sentence blasphemy conviction on a charge that Mansha had desecrated a copy of the Quran. In late December 2017, a two-judge panel ruled that Mansha was falsely accused.
New Violence Kills Coptic Christians in Egypt
Two attacks on Coptic Christians in Egypt December 29 have taken the lives of at least nine. Egypt’s Interior Ministry reported six civilians and a policeman died when a gunman tried to storm a Coptic church after carrying out an attack at a Coptic-owned shop in the same area, killing two.
December 28, 2017 •
Myanmar Blocks UN Investigation of Rohingya Crisis
The United Nations human rights investigator assigned to look into the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar claims she has been barred from entering the country.
December 18, 2017 •
Russian Persecution of the Crimea’s Tartars Intensifies
When Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014, it marked the beginning of intense persecution of the indigenous Muslim Tartar population of Tartars in that land.
December 6, 2017 •
Blasphemy Laws and Their Threat to Religious Freedom
According to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), more than one-third of the world’s countries criminalize blasphemy—speaking ill of things sacred to indigenous religions. In some countries, blasphemy carries a death sentence.
November 29, 2017 •
Tillerson Urges Myanmar to Investigate Rohingya Attacks
On November 15, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Myanmar to meet with Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the civilian head of the country, to discuss “credible reports of widespread atrocities” by the country’s security forces against the minority Muslim Rohingya population.
November 12, 2017 •
Understanding Hungary’s Repressive Religion Law
The U.S. Department of State International Religious Freedom Report for 2016 includes a summary of the 2011 Hungary religion law and an overview of the country’s practices in violation of the freedom of religion or belief, which includes the following key information.
November 8, 2017 •
Rohingya Crisis in Myanmar Draws Top U.S. State Department Officials
Muslim Rohingya militants, responding to the religious persecution of their people in Myanmar (the former Burma) August 25, attacked police in that country’s strife-torn northern state of Rakhine.
November 7, 2017 •
Fariba Kamalabadi is the Second of the Imprisoned Baha’i Seven To Be Freed In Iran
One day, Roxana Saberi may show off the pink-and-rose colored bracelet she’s cherished for years to the woman who wove it. The bracelet had to travel through many hands and halfway across the world for four years just to get to its recipient—the most precious gift Roxana has ever received.
October 24, 2017 •
As the Baha’i Celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the Faith, Baha’i Leader Mahvash Sabet is Free, Released Last Month From Iranian Prison
Human Rights Without Frontiers covers the release lasts month of Baha’i leader Mahvash Sabet from prison in Iran, where she served 10 years behind bars because of her faith. She is the first of seven imprisoned Baha’i leaders to be released.
October 22, 2017 •
Scientologists protest violation of their right to religious freedom in Hungary
Article republished courtesy of the European Interreligious Forum for Religious Freedom Today in Budapest, several hundreds of Scientologists gathered peacefully with candles before their Church in Budapest to protest what they called an outrageous and wholesale violation of the human rights of all
October 19, 2017 •
Blasphemy Laws: Religious Suppression and Political Authoritarianism
Elizabeth Cassidy and Andrew Kornbluth from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) presented the Commission’s findings on the world’s blasphemy laws October 17 at a conference held at the Newseum’s Knight Conference Center in Washington D.C.
October 18, 2017 •
USCIRF Vice Chairwoman Testifies Before the House That Religious Freedom Violations Have Security Implications for the United States
Kristina Arriaga, Vice Chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), testified before the National Security Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee October 18 on the “government’s role in protecting international religious freedom.
September 18, 2017 •
Scientology Presentation to Working Session 9 at the OSCE – ODIHR Human Dimension Implementation Meeting of 2017
Warsaw, Poland • Oral presentation at the OSCE - ODIHR Meeting of 2017, Working session 9 — discussions concerning tolerance and nondiscrimination.
September 17, 2017 •
Scientology Presentation to Working Session 6 at the OSCE – ODIHR Human Dimension Implementation Meeting of 2017
Warsaw, Poland • Oral presentation at the OSCE - ODIHR Meeting of 2017, Working session 6.
September 8, 2017 •
China Enacts New Regulations That Restrict Faiths Practiced Outside Organizations Not Approved by the State
China’s cabinet has passed new rules to regulate religion to bolster national security, “fight extremism” and restrict faith practiced outside organizations approved by the State.
Attacks Against Christians in India on the Rise
Last year India was listed at number 15 on the World Watch List of the 50 most difficult countries for Christians to live in. In 2017, the country has seen nearly as many attacks against Christians so far as in all of 2016.
Syriac Christian Properties Expropriated by Turkish Government
Some 100 Syriac Christian properties including monasteries, churches and cemeteries have been liquidated and transferred to the Treasury: Two functioning monasteries and lands adjacent to the 4th-century Mor Gabriel Monastery belonging to Turkey’s oldest indigenous culture.
European Court of Human Rights Complaint on the Right to Share One’s Beliefs
Human Rights Without Frontiers reports that Donald Jay Ossewaarde, an American national who has lived in Oryol, Russia, since 2005, filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights March 30, 2017, based on his arrest and conviction of violating Article 5.
The State of Religious Tolerance in Kazakhstan: Fact vs. Fiction
In opening the Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in June 2015, a convocation held every three years in Astana, Kazakhstan, the country’s president Nursultan Nazarbayev presented his nation as “a successful model of coexistence between 18 religions living in peace, harmony and mutual understanding.
U.S. State Department Tells Russia to Cease Persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses
In a statement issued July 19, the U.S. State Department called on Russia to end its persecution of minority religions. This was prompted by the Russia Supreme Court’s decision upholding an April ruling labeling Jehovah’s Witnesses “extremist.”
Human Rights Without Frontiers Censures Russian Ban of Jehovah’s Witnesses
In the first of a video series titled "FoRB in Five"—Freedom of Religion or Belief in Five Minutes or Less—Human Rights Without Frontiers executive director Willy Fautré speaks out on Russia’s criminalizing of a peaceful religion under the 2002 Extremism Law.
Vietnam’s Catholic Bishops Criticize Law on Belief and Religion
Vietnam’s Catholic Bishops Criticize Law on Belief and Religion Set to Go Into Effect January 1, 2018.
When Belief Is A Crime
We need to wake up, all of us, and realize that every time we allow someone’s religious rights to be kicked aside, we are putting our own at risk. If a group as large and established as the Christian church can be discriminated against and criminalized, what is safe?
Kazakh Sunni Muslim Given 5-Year Sentence for Talking About Islam
Sunni Muslim Nariman Seytzhanov was convicted in Almaty, Kazakhstan, of “inciting religious hatred or discord” under the broadly framed Criminal Code Article 174, Part 1.
Russia: Fines, Vandalism Follow Jehovah’s Witness Liquidation
Victoria Arnold, Moscow Correspondent for Forum 18 News Service, a human rights organization based in Oslo, Norway, filed this report on actions against Jehovah’s Witnesses since the Russian government liquidated the religion across Russia in April 2017.
Alexander Dvorkin Comes Under Attack for Targeting Hindu Beliefs
Some 1,000 gathered in Delhi to protest Russian anti-cultist Alexander Dvorkin and his denigration of Hinduism.
U.S. Rep Frank Wolf (Ret.) Urges Church Leaders to Speak Up on International Religious Persecution
Western church leaders have not been outspoken enough about religious persecution and human rights violations around the world, said U.S. Congressman Frank R. Wolf (Ret.) at a recent luncheon in McLean, Virginia.
‘For the Good of the Nation and the State’ Former Jakarta Governor Withdraws Appeal
Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known as Ahok, has withdrawn his request for appeal of a two-year sentence for blasphemy. His wife, Veronica Tan, read his handwritten announcement May 23.
Forced Evictions of Tibetan Buddhist Sichuan Enclave
Chinese authorities are carrying out a campaign to dismantle dwellings in Larung Gar, a mountainside settlement in southwestern Sichuan province that is home to some 10,000 Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns. Some estimate the population at 20,000.
“Grave Concerns” about Russia’s Repressive Policies Prompts Action
The U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom has added Russia to its list of “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPC) for the first time in two decades, prompted by the country’s recent repression of the rights of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Violent Anti-Semitic Crime Down, Hate Speech and Harassment Up, Study Shows
A Tel Aviv University study covering data from 40 countries found violent anti-Semitic incidents, including attacks with and without weapons, arson, and vandalism or desecration, have been on a downward trend in the past few years.
Former Jakarta Governor Jailed for ‘Blasphemy’ in Alleged Quran Insult
Former Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known as Ahok, was jailed May 9 after being found guilty of blasphemy. He was sentenced to two years in prison despite prosecutors recommending two years’ probation on a lesser charge.
USCIRF Urges Designation of Russia as Country of Particular Concern
When the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released its 2017 Annual Report April 26 on the state of religious freedom in selected countries, USCIRF Chair Thomas Reese, S.J., said “the state of affairs for international religious freedom is worsening in both the depth and breadth of violations.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Hears Testimony on Need to Stem Rising Anti-Religious Hate Crimes
The Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony May 2 from representatives of the Anti-Defamation League, the Sikh community, and the Justice Department. The subject was the dramatic increase in religion-based hate crimes, up 23 percent from 2014 to 2015.
Tibetan Buddhists Mark 28th Birthday of Abducted Panchen Lama
Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was born April 25, 1989, in Lhari County, Tibet. Six years later, shortly after the Dalai Lama named him the 11th incarnation of the Panchen Lama, the boy was abducted and has not been heard from again.
Armenians Demand Turkey Admits Genocide in Killing of 1.5 Million Armenians from 1915-23
Armenian communities around the world march in remembrance April 24 of the Armenian Genocide and in protest that Turkey still denies genocide in the killing by the Ottoman Empire of 1.5 million Armenians from 1915‑1923.
New York Times Reports on Russia’s Supreme Court Ban of Jehovah’s Witnesses
New York Times Moscow correspondent Andrew Higgins wrote about today’s action by the Russian Supreme Court labeling the Jehovah’s Witnesses an Extremist Group: “Russia’s Supreme Court on Thursday declared Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Christian denomination that rejects violence, an extremist organization.“