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Censorship introduced in Azerbaijan for wide range of religious materials...
Link Here 2nd August 2012

Azerbaijan flagNew legal amendments approved by Azerbaijan's parliament specify that not only medicines, books and recordings, but literature with a religious purpose (both hard copy and electronic), audio and video material, goods and produce and other information material with a religious theme require a state-issued verification mark before they can be sold.

Those selling religious materials without such marks risk fines and confiscation of the materials. Forum 18 News Service notes that religious literature is already subject to compulsory prior censorship from the State Committee for Work with Religious Organisations, with punishments for those who produce or sell religious literature without State Committee permission.


2nd May

Update: Bible Banners...

Azerbaijan demands that religious book sellers are licensed and then drags its feet about granting licences
Link Here  full story: Blasphemy in Russia...Offending religious beliefs or desecration of holy objects or symbols

Azerbaijan flagAn official of the State Committee for Work with Religious Organisations, which operates Azerbaijan's repressive religious censorship system, admitted in mid-April that about 100 shops wishing to sell religious books are still waiting for the necessary licences. Only 16 such licences have been issued since the system's introduction in 2009.

Forum 18 News Service notes that selling religious books without a licence risks a maximum punishment for a first offence of two years' imprisonment.


21st March

Azerbaijan makes legal more to close down the Greater Grace Church in Baku...

Link Here

Bahrain flagAzerbaijan's State Committee for Work with Religious Organisations has moved to close down Greater Grace Church in the capital Baku.

The government cites the churches failure to regain the compulsory re-registration, but of course the government refused to grant it.

This is thought to be the first attempt to compulsorily close a religious community through the courts since compulsory re-registration was imposed by the harsh 2009 Religion Law. If successful the Church would lose the legal right to exist. The unregistered exercise of freedom of religion or belief is illegal under the Religion Law, against international human rights standards.

Church members reject the suit, insisting to Forum 18 that illegal liquidation of its legal status - which it has had since 1993 - would violate the Constitutional rights to freedom of religion of members.

The State Committee's legal case to close Baku's Greater Grace Church has been adjourned until 29 March.



A Religious Divide...Violence in Burma
Link Here 10th June 2012

Burma flag 2010 Police in western Myanmar have fired on muslim rioters who burned hundreds of homes in an outbreak of sectarian violence that killed at least seven people.

The rioting on Friday reflected longstanding tensions in the state of Rakhine between Buddhist residents and Muslims, many of whom are considered to be illegal settlers from neighboring Bangladesh. Although the root of the problem is localized, centering on the resentment of the settlers, there is fear that the trouble could spread elsewhere because of the religious divide.

According to a television report, seven people were killed and 17 wounded. It said 494 houses, 19 shops and a guesthouse were burned down. State news media did not identify the rioters, but residents contacted by telephone said the people the mob was formed by about 1000 Muslims.

The dead were evidently all Buddhists, judging by the names of the victims mentioned in the newspaper, which added that those hurt had knife wounds.

The trigger for the latest round of violence was the rape and killing of a young Buddhist girl last month. Three Muslim youths have been put on trial. On June 3, 10 Muslims were killed by a mob that attacked a bus carrying them from a religious gathering in the town of Taungup in Rakhine State.



Trading on Fears of Violence...French market traders threatened over sales of pork and wine
Link Here 21st October 2012

France flagIn the market of Chemin Bas d'Avignon in Nimes, moslems threatened wine sellers, a butcher who sells pork and a pork butcher, as well as vendors who sell light clothing , and banned them from coming back on pain of death.

Already a few months ago, a pork butcher disappeared from one day to the next, even though he had a good clientele. No one understood why, according to a resident of the district. In June, the market's commercial arcade was totally burned, and the inhabitants of the district created a collective to complain about the rise in violence from young moslems, without anything effective having been done about it by the local government.


6th May

Muslim cemetery vandalised near Nice...

Link Here

France flagThe French press is reporting that a Muslim cemetery in Carros near Nice has been desecrated. Swastikas were sprayed on nine graves and the slogansArabs out and Long live Le Pen on the cemetery wall.

A press release by the UOIF condemns the desecration, pointing out that this is not an isolated case but a manifestation of the rising tide of Islamophobia in France.


5th May

Far right party plans to campaign outside mosques with caricatures of Mohammed...

Link Here

Germany flagA far-right party on the campaign trial in Germany's most populous state is threatening to put caricatures of Mohammed outside mosques in a string of cities, prompting fears of violence.

The Pro NRW party in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia has already shown anti-Islamic caricatures in Essen and Gelsenkirchen, though the police prevented demonstrations taking place directly outside mosques.

Police have also banned Pro NRW , which is campaigning on an Islamophobic platform, from using the Danish cartoons that caused massive protests in the Islamic world in 2005.

But Pro NRW intends to send activists to 25 mosques throughout the state in the run-up to the election on May 13, staging protests in Cologne, Bonn, Du sseldorf, Aachen, Wuppertal and Solingen.

A report in Die Welt newspaper on Sunday said the far-right party intended to post around 100 what it called Islam-critical drawings outside the mosques.



Sectarian Life...Hindus sentenced for killing muslims in Gujarat state rioting a decade ago
Link Here 10th August 2012

India flagAn Indian court sentenced 21 Hindus to life imprisonment in the deaths of 11 members of a Muslim family during some of the country's worst sectarian violence 10 years ago.

Judge S.C. Srivastava found the 21 guilty of attempted murder and rioting. The killings took place in 2002 in Visnagar, a town in Gujarat state.


2nd April

Hyderabad muslims protest mob handed against Ahmadis...

Link Here

India flagPolice took action to disperse two clashing groups of muslims in Saidabad during prayer time. According to the police, a group of people belonging to the dominant mainstream sect went to the Ahmadiya mosque and demanded that the devotees to stop their prayers.

An argument ensued which led to stone-throwing on business establishments in the vicinity. The agitated devotees tried to push out the miscreants and a scuffle ensued between the two groups.

In the melee both the groups hurled stones on each other but no one was injured. Police alerted higher officials who rushed special teams to the place to defuse the situation.

Meanwhile, some Muslim organisations lodged a complaint with the police on the issue claiming that the Ahmadiyas distributed blasphemous printed material at the mosque.


17th March

Six Hundred Muslims Attack Hindu Village...

Link Here

India flagThe Hindu town of Madhyakolra, Domjur, in West Bengal, India, was attacked by approximately 600 extremist muslims on March 4, reports Hindu Janajagruti Samiti.

Trouble began when four Muslim property developers arrived to have a pond covered over and construction work begun on the site. Local Hindus came out to protest.

The four men allegedly returned to the neighboring Muslim-majority village. They then returned to Madhyakolra, reportedly with 600 Islamists, who attacked the village and molested many of the Hindu women there.



Update: Wrong Flavour of Islam...Victim of mob attack accused of blasphemy in Indonesia
Link Here 13th July 2012

Indonesia flagThe Sampang prosecutors office in East Java demanded a four-year prison term for a local leader of the Shiite branch of Islam, on charges of blasphemy.

Tajul Muluk from Sampang has been detained since April following an investigation by East Java Police that ultimately charged him with blasphemy and committing offensive action.

Human rights activists condemned the arrest, as local authorities seemed to overlook the fact that more than 300 members of Tajul's Shiite community were displaced when a mob of 500 people attacked and burned houses, a boarding school and a place of worship in December.

Requests by legal organizations for the trial to be moved to Jakarta, where there would be more advocacy groups, media and nongovernmental organizations to monitor the case, were also denied by police.

Earlier this year, Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali proclaimed Shia a deviant sect, a declaration that was followed by a similar edict from the East Java branch of the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI).

Update: Mob Rule...Christians arrested in Indonesia as muslim mob ransacks their church
Link Here 27th June 2012  full story: Religious Intolerance in Indonesia...Muslim group targeting Indonesian churches

Indonesia flag As reported by the Jakarta Globe, there have been demands from Banda Aceh Muslim groups that the government shutdown storefront Christian churches in the area.

As of last month, 16 have since been boarded up on orders from the Jakarta government.

Meanwhile a 300-strong mob stormed a Bethel-associated (Protestant) Christian three-story storefront church in Banda Aceh, smashing windows and destroying furniture on the first floor. Advertisement

According to the Jakarta Globe, the 60 worshippers were on the 3d floor and due to the quick response of the local police, none of the Christians were harmed. Banda Aceh Police Chief Muffan Mudji Kafanti stated:

The attackers ransacked the place because the church members had not obtained permission to hold Mass in the store. There are regulations if you want to make it a place of worship. Local residents couldn't accept it and wrecked it.

Despite an ongoing investigation, there have been no arrests of any of the rioters but on suspicion of illegally opening a place of worship without governmental approval, 12 of the Christians were taken to the police station for questioning.


24th April

Update: Challenging Nonsense...

Indonesian charged with blasphemy after atheist Facebook post
Link Here

asian human rights commission logo The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding the arrest and trial of Alexander Aan, of Padang, West Sumatra, who was arrested for posting a status on Facebook questioning the existence of god and administering a Facebook group called Ateis Minang (Minang Atheists). He is also being charged for uploading a note and cartoon depicting and supposedly insulting Muhammad. He has been indicted with three charges, including disseminating religious hatred on the internet, which might lead to six-years imprisonment.

On 18 January 2012 some residents of Pulau Punjung came to Alex's office in Padang, after learning that Alex had made a Facebook post entitled The Prophet Muhammad was attracted to his own daughter-in-law with a cartoon entitled The Prophet Muhammad had been sleeping with his wife's maid. A local newspaper reported that Alex was close to being attacked by the mob, which was angry as they considered his posts to have insulted Islam.

The police arrived before Alex was attacked. Alex told the police that he is an atheist and that he is a member of a Facebook group named Ateis Minang. As one of his Facebook status updates, Alex wrote, if you believe in god, then please show him to me. His trial has commenced and he is indicted on three charges: disseminating information aimed at inflicting religious hatred, religious blasphemy and calling for others to embrace atheism.



Iranian authorities close down a christian church...
Link Here 17th June 2012

Iran flagSecurity forces in Iran closed down an Iranian church in the Jannat-Abad region in Tehran.

Iranian Christian sources say that the Jannat-Abad church was closed down following orders from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Intelligence.

The church was operating under official license when the Pastor, Robert Gag-Tappe was ordered to stop operation. The church served the Iranian-Assyrian community in Tehran who are mostly Catholic.

Many church goers in Iran are expressing concern about being watched by undercover agents during pray ceremonies in their churches. Church officials are under constant pressure by the authorities to prevent any Farsi speaking people from attending ceremonies.

This is the second time the Jannat-abad church is being closed by the Iranian authorities.


14th March

Iran Rounds up Christians...

House church congregations suffering police raids
Link Here

Iran flagAccording to Barnabas Fund, the Iranian authorities have initiated a wave of arrests across the country, targeting ordinary church members and leaders.

Security agencies have swept house churches in Ahwaz, Shiraz, Esfahan, Tehran and Kermanshah since Christmas.

In some swoops, entire congregations have reportedly been rounded up. In Kermanshah, authorities entered a house church and arrested all 13 Christians present. Three are still in custody.

Barnabas Fund said the international pressure on Iran from the West over its nuclear programme could make the Iranian authorities intensify their campaign against Christians, who are regarded as allies of foreign powers because of the misconception that Christianity is a Western religion.

Despite the wave of arrests, Barnabas Fund reports that the church in Iran is experiencing rapid growth.



Grenade Attack...15 christians murdered in church attack in kenya
Link Here 9th July 2012

Kenya flagAt least 15 people were killed in a grenade attack on two churches in northern Kenya.

Masked gunmen attacked the African Inland Church in Garissa and a Roman Catholic church in the town situated near the border with Somalia. They then reportedly opened fire on worshippers as they attempted to flee the buildings.

Witnesses have reported 15 people dead and around 50 wounded. The fatalities included two policemen who were posted to guard the door at the AIC church.

No group has come forward to claim responsibility for the attacks although suspicion has fallen on muslim al Shabaab sympathisers.



Chaotic, Selective and Arbitrary...New censorship amendments to Kyrgyzstan's Religion Law have been signed into law by the president
Link Here 30th December 2012

Kyrgyzstan flagNew censorship amendments to Kyrgyzstan's Religion Law were signed by President Almazbek Atambayev on 7 December, officials have told Forum 18 News Service.

But there does not appear to have been any public announcement of this. State officials have refused to explain how the amendments, which increase state control over religious literature and other materials, will be implemented.

This is not censorship, Kanatbek Mamadaliyev of the State Committee on Religious Affairs (SCRA) claimed to Forum 18: Procedures will be adopted to implement this, but I can't say who will adopt them.

Human rights defender Ivan Kamenko of Egalitee told Forum 18 that implementation is likely to be chaotic, selective and arbitrary .

Banned Holy Books...Kyrgyzstan is debating law to establish religious censors
Link Here 15th July 2012

Kyrgyzstan flagCensorship on religious literature could soon be so restrictive in Kyrgyzstan that anyone wanting to import, publish or distribute religious literature will have to seek prior permission from the authorities, reports Forum 18 News Service.

In 2009, Kyrgyzstan created a Religion Law, but it did not impose censorship on all religious literature, notes Forum 18. Now, amendments to the law have been proposed to tighten censorship by September.

The new amendment technically reads like this: Control on the import, production, acquisition, storage and distribution of printed materials, film, photo, audio and video productions, as well as other materials with the purpose of unearthing religious extremism, separatism and fundamentalism is conducted by the plenipotentiary state organs for religious affairs, national security and internal affairs.

Many Kyrgyzstanis agree that would mean all-out censorship of all religious materials.

If the amendment passes, the Committee has suggested the establishment of another committee which will exist exclusively to oversee the censorship. Essentially, local authorities won't be the enforcers: a specific task force will be.


6th April

Christians arrested for being christians in Laos...

Link Here

Laos flagOfficials in a village in southern Laos on March 25 arrested and detained five Christians during worship and charged them with leading a religious movement without official approval, according to advocacy group Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF).

The five Christians from Palansai district were attending a worship service in nearby Boukham village in Ad-Sapangthong district.



Murderous Intolerance...Another church attack in Nigeria
Link Here 17th August 2012

Nigeria flagAt least 19 people have been killed in a gun attack on a church in central Nigeria, officials say.

Gunmen stormed the church near the city of Okene in Kogi state and fired on worshippers.The pastor was among those killed when the assailants fired Kalashnikov assault rifles, the officials add. Many others were wounded in the attack and rushed to different hospitals

BBC Nigeria correspondent Will Ross says the shooting happened further south than most areas affected by Boko Haram violence.

Update: Mob Attack...52 more christians have been murdered in Nigeria
Link Here 9th July 2012  full story: Boko Haram...Nigeria's Taliban terrorise christians

Nigeria flagAt least 52 people have been killed in Christian villages near a Nigerian city, the latest Christian violence to hit the country.

Mustapha Salisu, spokesman for a special task force made up of policemen and soldiers deployed in the area to curb years of violence, said assailants launched sophisticated attacks on several villages near Jos early Saturday. They came in hundreds, said Salisu, Some had (police) uniforms and some even had bulletproof vests.

He initially said that 37 people were killed including 14 civilians and 21 assailants. However, later in the day, Nigerian Red Cross Andronicus Adeyemo said that aid workers had counted 52 dead and more 300 displaced people from the attacks. He did not give a breakdown.

Authorities declined to comment on who they suspect, but similar raids have been attributed to the Muslim group Boko Haram in the past.

Update: A Religious War...Nigerian suicide bomber murders nine church goers
Link Here 10th June 2012  full story: Boko Haram...Nigeria's Taliban terrorise christians

Nigeria flag An islamic suicide bomber has killed himself and at least nine other people near a church in the northern Nigerian city of Bauchi, police have told the BBC.

They say the man drove a car full with explosives towards the church. About 30 people were wounded in the blast.

No group has claimed the bombing, but it comes amid a wave of violence by the radical Islamic sect Boko Haram.

Update: 2nd church attacked

17th June 2012. See  article from

Two churches in northern and central Nigeria have been attacked, one by gunmen and the other by a suicide bomber, witnesses said.

There was no immediate word on casualties and no claim of responsibility. Attacking churches has become a trademark tactic of the Islamist group Boko Haram.

In Biu Town, in north-eastern Borno state, witnesses said three gunmen started firing at people outside a church before entering the main building. Many people have been killed and wounded, said Hamidu Wakawa, who was at the church.

In the south-western city of Jos, a man drove a car to the entrance of the Christ Chosen church and detonated a bomb, said Emmanuel Davou who lives nearby

Update: More

22nd June  2012. See  article from

Explosions at three churches in northern Nigeria have killed at least seven people, prompting Christian youths to drag Muslims out of their cars and kill them in retaliation, officials and witnesses said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blasts on Sunday but the Islamist sect Boko Haram has often attacked church services in Nigeria.

Two explosions within minutes of each other rocked churches in the town of Zaria, in Kaduna state. First, a suicide bomber drove a blue Honda Civic into a church, burning the front entrance and damaging the building, the church's pastor said.

Three people are confirmed killed. Others have been taken to hospital for treatment, the Rev Nathan Waziri said.

Militants threw bombs at another church, killing four children who were playing on the streets outside, said Deborah Osagie, who lives opposite the church. She said the militants were later caught by a mob and killed.

A blast hit a third church in the state's main city of Kaduna, causing an unknown number of casualties, witnesses and the National Emergency Management Agency said.

After the bombs, youths blocked the main road leading south out of Kaduna to the capital, Abuja, dragging Muslims out of their cars and killing them, witnesses said.


9th April

Update: Easter Bombs...

Nigerian Taliban assumed to have exploded bombs in two towns
Link Here  full story: Boko Haram...Nigeria's Taliban terrorise christians

easter At least 38 people have died in a car bombing in the northern Nigerian city of Kaduna, officials said. Many others were injured in the attack, which took place when officials stopped the vehicle as it approached a church.

Just hours afterwards, a bomb exploded in the central city of Jos, injuring several people.

No-one has admitted carrying out the bombings, but suspicion has fallen on Boko Haram, an extremist muslim group which had warned of attacks over Easter.



Update: Another Death...most probably attributed to Pakistan's reprehensible blasphemy laws
Link Here 15th December 2012  full story: Blasphemy in Pakistan...Blasphemy laws used for personal vendettas

Pakistan flagA 22-year-old Christian youth, accused of supposedly burning a copy of the Quran, has died in police custody at a police stationy, The Express Tribune has learnt.

The youth, Nadeem, was detained by the Nankana Sahib police seven days ago. Police say he was being kept in 'protective' custody.

District police officer (DPO) Ghulam Mubashar Maken said allegations against Nadeem had not been substantiated so far. He added that they were informed by a local committee of Ulema that there was no proof so far to suggest the youth had burned the Quran.

Police officials also suggested that Nadeem was tortured by local resident when they allegedly discovered him burning a copy of the Quran.

Update: Lynch mob attacks police station to get their hands on blasphemy victim...
Link Here 24th June 2012  full story: Blasphemy in Pakistan...Blasphemy laws used for personal vendettas

Pakistan flagAnother victim of Paksitan's blasphemy laws has been sent to prison.

The accused man, Saleem, was said to be a drug addict and had been living alone in a flat in Nazimabad. He had allegedly torched a copy of the Quran, following which police arrested him on the complaint of some residents of the area and lodged a case against him.

As news of the incident spread in the area, an angry mob attacked the Temuria police station on Sunday and pelted at a police party with stones, injuring a constable and damaging two mobile vans.


22nd April

Update: Double Jeopardy...

Pakistani man acquitted of trumped up blasphemy charges only to be murdered by his accuser
Link Here  full story: Blasphemy in Pakistan...Blasphemy laws used for personal vendettas

Pakistan flag An elderly man, recently released from prison after acquittal by the court in a blasphemy case, was shot dead by the murderous complainant.

80-year-old Iqbal Butt was on his way home on a motorcycle rikshaw when he was shot dead when the accuser Maulvi Waqas and an unidentified accomplice chased him on a motorcycle and opened fire, resulting in his death.

Javed Butt, stepson of Iqbal Butt said the Maulvi Waqas accused his father of blasphemy just to settle score with him after they exchanged some harsh words during an argument earlier on. The accused put pressure on police through protest of clerics and succeeded in registering a case against Iqbal.

After the case was registered, the police arrested Iqbal and he was jailed but on December 30, 2011 he was honourably acquitted due to lack of evidence.

The complainant Maulvi Waqas, a Khateeb of a local Mosque, was unhappy with the acquittal and he along with an unknown accomplice shot Iqbal Butt, the Investigating policeman said.

A case has been registered against Waqas and his unknown accomplice but no arrests have been made as yet. According to police, raids are being conducted to find the accused.


1st April

Yet another uncorroborated accusation of blasphemy in Pakistan...

Link Here

Pakistan flagYet another Pakistani woman has been arrested under that nation's notorious blasphemy laws.

The Voice is appealing on behalf of Shamim Bibi who was arrested after an corroborated complaint by only one Muslim who accused her of defiling the name of Mohammad.

Voice Attorney Anneqa Maria Anthony said Section 295 C doesn't require any evidence to legally prove blasphemy.

The Voice is supporting the Bibi's both legally and financially.


30th March

Minister for Pakistan's minorities speaks out against forced conversions...

Link Here

Pakistan flagThe Pakistani minister responsible for the welfare of religious minorities has called for stronger legislation to protect them from forced conversions, alleging that 100 non-Muslim women, mostly Hindus, were forced to convert to Islam in recent months.

Minister for National Harmony Akram Masih Gill, himself a Christian, said such practices by Muslims went against the injunctions of Islam as the religion's laws prohibited forced conversion.

We will seek a religious decree from the Council of Islamic Ideology and a ruling by the Federal Shariah Court on the issue before introducing the required law, Gill told The Express Tribune newspaper.


21st March

Man jailed for life for burning a Quran...

Link Here

Pakistan flagA Pakistani court has jailed a Muslim man for life for burning a Quran, officials said.

Naseem Ahmed, was arrested last June on charges of desecrating Islam's holy book in Lasda village in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

The farmer was found guilty under the Muslim country's unjust blasphemy laws that make defaming Islam punishable by death.

We heard up to 15 witnesses. His mother also testified against the accused and we have given him life imprisonment, Judge Ameerullah Khan said.

Ahmed said he would appeal the sentence, professing his innocence and saying he had no idea that a Quran was among a pile of books he set alight.

One day I came home and got angry at seeing the books scattered. I collected them up and burnt them. My mother admonished me, telling me that among the books I burnt, was a copy of Holy Quran, he said.

The neighbour overheard and called the police. Members of a rival (Sunni Muslim) sect with whom I had been clashing in the past suddenly became active in this case that is why I have been convicted, he said.


21st March

Police inspector jailed for life for supposed blasphemy...

Link Here

Pakistan flagJudge Umer Hayat has handed down a life term with a fine of Rs 200,000 to a police inspector involved in a supposed blasphemy case. The victim will have to undergo an additional one-year imprisonment in if he fails to pay the fine.

According to the persecution, Inspector Shah Jahan had passed blasphemous remarks in February 2009, for which Raja Jang Police Station had registered a case against him.


17th March

Bollox Claims of Blasphemy Follows Refusal to Convert to Islam...

Link Here

Pakistan flagPolice in Khichiwala in Pakistan have charged a young Christian woman under the country's blasphemy laws allegedly for supposedly speaking against Mohammed. Her family explained that she has been framed for refusing to renounce her faith on the insistence of some relatives who had recently converted to Islam,

Shamim neighbours accused her of uttering blasphemous remarks. However, Shamim's brother Ilyas Masih and brother-in-law Shahbaz Masih told Pakistan Today that the young woman had been wrongly accused as she had turned down a demand to convert to Islam just a day before she was accused of uttering blasphemous remarks.

Ilyas Explained:

Nazeeran, sister of Shamim's husband Bashir Masih, nephew Nadeem and niece Bella converted to Islam on February 24, and called on her to do the same ... she refused, telling them that she was satisfied with Christianity and did not want to convert.  Shamim told us on the telephone that Nazeeran and others were forcing her to convert, and asked us to visit her.

We [Shamim's father and two brothers] went to meet her on February 27, and left just before evening. At night we were informed that Shamim's neighbours had accused her of blaspheming.



No more mosques for Moscow...
Link Here 5th October 2012

Russia flagWith only four official mosques in the Russian capital (one of which is being reconstructed), Moscow's Muslim community has long sought to open new places of worship, Forum 18 News Service notes.

Police estimated 170,000 worshippers at the end-of-Ramadan festival Eid-ul-Fitr in August, close to the numbers who attend Russian Orthodox churches at Easter. Yet one of just two new mosque sites approved in early September was withdrawn on 20 September after street protests.

A Council of Muftis official told Forum 18 we're just asking for the number of mosques to be raised from four to 10 at least - that would be just .

Update: And Russia Too

6th October 2012. See article from

Just as in the Russian capital, Muslims in other parts of Russia considered ethnically Russian face persistent difficulties building mosques to meet the growing numbers of Muslim worshippers, Forum 18 News Service has found.

Jamaletdin Makhmudov, a St Petersburg Muslim, told Forum 18 that the municipal authorities do not prevent Muslims from meeting in approximately six rented premises besides the two official mosques. But he says the city's long- standing refusal to allow construction of further mosques remains unchanged.

A Muslim community in Sochi - the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics - has lobbied fruitlessly for a mosque for over 15 years. Rejecting one appeal, an official pointed to a mosque in a village two hours' drive away. In Malyaroslavets, officials rejected the community's latest application, claiming all sites for places of worship are already taken.

Moscow Church Wreckers...
Link Here 16th September 2012

Russia flagUnknown workers backed by police and druzhinniki (civil volunteers) began tearing down Holy Trinity Pentecostal Church on the eastern edge of Moscow soon after midnight on 6th September, the Church's Pastor, Vasili Romanyuk, told Forum 18 News Service.

By morning almost the entire three-storey building had been destroyed.

This is the Soviet approach - to come in the middle of the night with mechanical diggers, Mikhail Odintsov, an aide to Russia's Ombudsperson for Human Rights, told Forum 18. This is unacceptable.

The church has struggled to legalise the building it put up with its own money in 1995-6.

Path to the Koran Ban...One of Russia's supposedly extremist books
Link Here 13th August 2012

Russia flagRussia's recent ban of more than 65 Islamic works has attracted many protests. Appeals against the bans will be presented on 6 August to Orenburg Regional Court, Forum 18 News Service has been told by a court official.

On 18 July it became known that one of the 65 books, Elmir Kuliyev's Russian-language book The Path to the Koran , had been banned for the second time by a court in Omsk. This second ban was, like the Orenburg banning decision, at the initiative of the FSB security service.

Islamic scholar Rinat Mukhametov has stated that the Orenburg court ban was a crucial turning point for Russia's Muslims. He said the absurd bans had to be challenged.

Extract: Russia...Extremism and religious freedom survey 2012
Link Here 9th August 2012  full story: Religious Book Censorship in Russia...Russia prosecutes holy books over supposed extremism

forum 18 logo The development most threatening to freedom of religion or belief in the Russian Federation is misapplication of the federal 2002 Extremism Law against those the authorities dislike. Such violations have increased dramatically since 2007 under both Presidents Vladimir Putin and Dmitri Medvedev.

Two provisions of Russia's federal Extremism Law of 2002 are typically used to criminalise legitimate religious activity. Prosecutors interpret one definition of extremism -- propaganda of the exclusivity, superiority or lack of equal worth of an individual on the basis of their .. religious .. adherence or attitude to religion -- as covering claims that a particular religion or belief is superior to others. However, the right to make such claims is a fundamental part of the internationally recognised right to freedom of religion or belief.

Prosecutors may also insist that such claims fall foul of a second definition of extremism in the Law - incitement .. of religious discord . The Code may consequently be used to prosecute simple disagreement. When committed by an ordinary member of the public, and even if unaccompanied by violence or the threat of violence, the maximum punishment under Article 282 is two years' imprisonment.

Initially, the 2002 Law stipulated that incitement of religious discord had to be committed in connection with violence or the threat of violence. Prosecution of activities that had no association with violence became easier, however, when this stipulation was removed in July 2007.

The 2002 Law's main mechanism for prosecuting the offence of criticising a religion or belief is the designation of literature containing such criticisms as extremist. Even a very low-level court may issue such a ruling. If not successfully challenged, this results in automatic placement of the offending literature on the Federal List of Extremist Materials. Once on the List, distribution is banned throughout Russia. Religious organisations associated with particular titles may also be ruled extremist. Their members are then liable to prosecution under two articles of the Criminal Code concerning organisation of extremist activity (Articles 282.1 and 282.2). The harshest punishment these articles allow is six years' imprisonment.

...Read the full article

Extract: Religious Freedom Survey of Russia...
Link Here 2nd August 2012

forum 18 logo Despite his liberal image, President Dmitri Medvedev introduced discriminatory measures on the basis of religion or belief, Forum 18 News Service finds in its general survey of religious freedom in the Russian Federation.

So far, newly elected President Vladimir Putin has given mixed signals of his intentions in this area. The state's treatment of certain groups within Orthodoxy, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism as the nation's privileged traditional religions - to the exclusion of others - is now routine. This is seen in school education, the military and the ability to meet for worship.

Yet the most threatening development is use of the 2002 Extremism Law against those the authorities dislike, addressed in a separate Forum 18 extremism survey.

...Read the full report


29th March

Russian judge orders the destruction of 70 religious books...

Link Here

Russia flagA Judge in Russia's North Caucasus republic of Dagestan has ordered up to 70 copies of translations of 15 different Islamic books, by the late Turkish Muslim theologian Said Nursi, to be destroyed.

She refused to tell Forum 18 News Service why she ordered their destruction and refused to order other Islamic books seized from local Muslim Ziyavdin Dapayev to be returned.

This is blasphemy, Dapayev's lawyer Murtazali Barkayev told Forum 18. I've never encountered the practice of destroying religious literature in Russia before.

Four more works by Nursi were in March banned and placed on the Federal List of Extremist Materials. Courts in several places in Russia are also seeking to ban more Jehovah's Witness publications.


29th April

Mob Rule...

Sri Lankan government orders removal of a mosque in an area claimed by buddhists
Link Here

Sri Lanka Sri Lanka's government has ordered the removal of a mosque from an area it says is sacred to the country's majority Buddhists.

The order comes two days after Buddhist monks led a crowd trying to storm the mosque in the central town of Dambulla.

Buddhist monks in central Sri Lanka had threatened to demolish the mosque if the authorities did not act first. A special meeting to discuss the issue appears to have been convened and the statement was produced.

Prime Minister DM Jayaratne, who is also responsible for the affairs of the country's majority Buddhists, said he had ordered the mosque to be removed from a sacred area in Dambulla and that it could be relocated to a suitable place in the neighbourhood .



Religious Cleansing...Sudanese authorities demolish churches
Link Here 2nd July 2012

Sudan flagThe World Council of Churches and All Africa Conference of Churches have condemned the destruction of a church in Sudan.

The Episcopal Parish Church of Saint John, Haj Yousif, in Khartoum was reportedly demolished on 18 June on the orders of Sudanese government officials.

The WCC and AACC have denounced the action as the latest in a series of calculated attacks on minority communities and Christians in particular.

On 21 April, the Sudan Evangelical Church Bible School in Khartoum was destroyed and books including the Bible set on fire in full view of the police. Two days later, security forces occupied the premises of the Sudan Council of Churches and Sudan Aid in Nyala, Darfur, and confiscated property.

The WCC and AACC warned that Christians of Muslim background were being targetted and dispossessed of their property and their spouses.

In a joint statement, the general secretary of the WCC, Olav Fykse Tveit, and the general secretary of the AACC, Dr Andre' Karamaga said:

We once again regret that despite repeated rhetoric about freedom of religion and the protection of the minorities in the Republic of Sudan, the government policy seems to be bent on threatening and discriminating against Christians in Khartoum, they said.

By protecting religious fundamentalists who wreck mayhem and havoc on innocent civilians with impunity, the Republic of Sudan undermines the tenets on which a multi-religious society is based.



Banned from doing anything not mentioned in law...More state religious intolerance in Tajikistan
Link Here 7th September 2012

Tajikistan flagThree new Articles were added to the Code of Administrative Offences to punish those violating the Religion Law's tight restrictions

  • on sending Tajik citizens abroad for religious education;
  • on preaching and teaching religious doctrines; and
  • on establishing ties with religious organisations abroad.

Another new provision punishes religious communities doing things not specifically set out in their statutes.

For the first time, the responsibility has been given to the State Committee for Religious Affairs to hand down the fines for such offences , Forum 18 News Service notes. Parliament did not see any violation of rights, and so adopted these changes, Mavlon Mukhtarov of the State Committee claimed to Forum 18.

One independent legal expert told Forum 18 that it should not be the prerogative of the State Committee to hand punishments to religious communities but of the courts.

We feel like little children who need to ask permission for each step we are taking, one Protestant complained to Forum 18.


1st April

Bigger and Deadlier...

Insurgents' Bombs in Thailand
Link Here

yala A string of orchestrated explosions rocked southern Thailand over the weekend, killing 14 people, wounding 340 and raising fears of larger and deadlier bombs being used by Muslim insurgents.

One attack came just before noon on Saturday at a busy shopping and dining area in the city of Yala, the capital of Thailand's southernmost province: After a large truck bomb exploded, a car bomb went off 20 minutes later as onlookers gathered and rescue personnel began to arrive. The twin blasts accounted for 11 of the 14 fatalities.

This is the worst attack in the past few years, Col. Pramote Promin, deputy spokesman of a regional security agency, told The Associated Press. The suspected insurgents were targeting people's lives. They (chose) a bustling commercial area, so they wanted to harm people.

Another bomb attack on Saturday, in the southern city of Hat Yai, struck a high-rise hotel favored by Singaporean and Malaysian vacationers, The A.P. reported. The explosion started a fire in the hotel, and photos at the scene showed a ground-floor McDonald's engulfed in smoke.

Also, the police said, a motorcycle bomb exploded near a police station in the Mae Lan district of Pattani Province, wounding one police officer.


18th April

Tunisian jailed for 4 years for supposed blasphemy...

Link Here

Tunisia flagA Tunisian court has sentenced a man to four years in prison for desecrating the Koran.

Prosecutors in the court case said the man, Ramzi Absha, had thrown copies of the Muslim holy book into lavatories at several mosques in the southern city of Ben Guerdane, according to the official news agency TAP.

A lawyer for Absha said the sentence was unfair. The defendant suffers from mental illness and this should be taken into account, TAP quoted Abdel Nasser Aouini as saying.


14th April

 Offsite Article: Extremist Intolerant Tunisia...

Link Here
Man sentenced to seven and a half years jail for being an atheist

See article from


14th March

Turkmenistan Religious Freedom Survey 2012...

Or more accurately, Religious Repression Survey 2012
Link Here

forum 18 logo Ahead of the examination of Turkmenistan's record at the UN Human Rights Committee, Forum 18 News Service notes that freedom of religion or belief in Turkmenistan, and other intertwined human rights, remain highly restricted.

Among systematic violations noted in Forum 18's religious freedom survey are:

  • prisoners of conscience including conscientious objectors jailed for exercising freedom of religion or belief, who face beatings and other maltreatment;
  • prisoners' severely limited religious freedom;
  • lack of fair trials and due legal process;
  • state control of religious leaders and communities;
  • racial discrimination;
  • severe restrictions on religious education and sharing beliefs, including banning women from studying academic theology in the country;
  • a registration system apparently designed to impose state control;
  • a ban on unregistered religious activity, and great difficulty in those who want it acquiring registration;
  • raids on both registered and unregistered groups;
  • MSS secret police informer recruitment; restrictions on having a place of worship, even for registered groups;
  • fear of openly discussing human rights violations;
  • severe haj restrictions, an exit blacklist and other freedom of movement restrictions; and censorship of religious literature and other material.

The interlocking nature of Turkmenistan's human rights violations appear designed to impose total state control of all of society.



Ham Fisted Vandalism...Man sentenced to 4 months in jail for racially aggravated criminal damage
Link Here 6th September 2012

HM Courts ServiceA man who tied a pig's head to the gates of a Cheltenham mosque has been jailed for four months. Simon Parkes also sprayed racist graffiti during the attack in November 2010, Gloucester Crown Court heard.

Parkes, who had admitted racially aggravated criminal damage, said he was angry that Muslim extremists had burnt poppies at a Remembrance Day service.

Judge Jamie Tabor told Parkes his actions were:

blatantly designed to be insulting. You deliberately set out to not just insult another religion, but inflame and increase racial tension at a sensitive time.

Tim Waterhouse from Gloucestershire Police said:

I hope this sentence sends out a clear message that this sort of appalling criminal behaviour will not be tolerated.

Religious Intolerance on the Increase in Indonesia...
Link Here 18th June  2012

Indonesia flagReligious freedom violations against Indonesian Christians are rising and on track to surpass last year's increase.

Nearly two dozen churches have been forced to shut their doors this year, and violent attacks against Christians have increased since January, reports Compass Direct News. Most of the church closures occurred in Aceh Province, where local authorities have faced pressure from Islamist extremists.

In 2011, monitors tallied 64 known cases of religious freedom violations, up from 47 the year before. The Jakarta Christian Communication Forum already counted 40 reported incidents as of May, according to Compass


4th May

Kazakhstan shuts out Ahmadi Muslims...

Link Here

Kazakhstan flagThe enforced closure of the Ahmadi Muslim community in Kazakhstan's commercial capital Almaty leaves the community unable to worship legally anywhere in the country, community members lamented to Forum 18 News Service.

Their place of worship was closed amid a continuing official campaign against religious communities which use private homes for religious worship and followed a fine by Land Inspectors.

Community member Nurym Taibek told Forum 18 they see no point in appealing against the decision and said that they have given up hope of resuming worship in their building. The Ahmadi Muslim community's place of worship in Shymkent was forcibly closed in 2011.

Also threatened by Land Inspectors is a small Methodist Church which meets in a private home in Taldykorgan near Almaty, the Church's legal address. The home owner was fined in April.



Air pellets fired at Illinois mosque...
Link Here 23rd August 2012

Illinois state sealMembers of a suburban mosque say someone took several shots with an air rifle last night at the building's outer wall in Morton Grove.

According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, two air rifle shots were fired at the outer brick wall of the Muslim Education Center mosque, 8613 Menard Ave., damaging it.

A guard was working security at the center, where services were underway for Ramadan, when he heard a projectile hit the outside wall of the building at 9:20 p.m., said Morton Grove police Chief Mark Erickson.

No one was hurt and no one inside the center was near a window when the pellet-gun shooting happened, said the chief.

Non-religious Intolerance...Freedom From Religion Foundation uses billboards to call on catholic to quit their church over its stance on contraception
Link Here 8th July 2012

quit the churchFreedom From Religion Foundation has launched a billboard campaign to encourage Catholics to Quit the Church due to the Roman Catholic Church's stance on the contraception mandate.

Sister Mary Ann Walsh, director of media relations for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, told The Christian Post that the billboard campaign would not gain support:

It is offensive, fortunately so offensive that serious people cannot take it seriously, said Walsh.

Unfortunately, anti-Catholicism lies close to the surface in America. However, with critics like these, we must be doing something right.

The Dallas-Ft. Worth billboard will remain up for a month. The same billboard was also posted in St. Louis, Missouri, and Times Square in New York City.

And America Lectures the World about the Need for Religious Tolerance...Non religious people banned from holding office in Mississippi
Link Here 8th July 2012

Mississippi sealAccording to Article 14, Section 265, of the Mississippi Constitution, No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office in this state.

Perhaps it is time for this state to allow anyone, despite their religious beliefs, to be able to hold office. Atheists pay taxes and hold various jobs in our government, and as such, have as much right to hold elected office as anyone else.

I, for one, could care less what an elected official's religious beliefs are, instead preferring to worry about whether or not they are the best for the job, and if they will protect the rights of the people and the public trust that has been given to them.

Maybe it is time for Mississippi to be concerned about bigger issues than a politician's religious preference.


5th May

Catholic school priest proves to be a grave, immoral sinner against humanity...

Link Here

Indiana state sealA teacher at a Catholic school in Indiana is suing the diocese where she worked after being fired because the in vitro fertilization treatments she received were considered against church teachings.

Emily Herx, a former English teacher at St. Vincent de Paul School in Fort Wayne, filed a federal lawsuit against the school and the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

She says in the suit that she was discriminated against in 2011 after the school's pastor found out that she had begun treatments with a fertility doctor, according to the complaint.

Herx says the school's priest called her a grave, immoral sinner and told her she should have kept mum about her fertility treatments because some things are better left between the individual and God, the complaint said.

I didn't think I was doing anything wrong, Herx told CNN: I had never had any complaints about me as a teacher.



Religious books being seized from people's homes...
Link Here 20th August 2012

UzbekistanIn what some in Uzbekistan think may be a change in the authorities' repression policy, there has been an apparent increase in confiscations of privately-owned religious books from homes during raids.

Associated with this have been violations of due legal process, Forum 18 News Service has learned. These include denials of legal representation, misrepresentation of whether a defendant has pleaded guilty, verdicts not being provided within the time laid down in law, and so-called expert analyses that have confused Protestant books with Jehovah's Witness books.

As police confiscated one Bible in Uzbek, one Bible in Russian, and a book by John Bunyan from one Protestant they said: Don't you know that it is prohibited to keep such books at home?

Police also stated that the books would be sent for expert analysis by the Religious Affairs Committee, and that their owner will be fined.


21st March

Uzbekistan confiscates religious books and imposes enormous fines...

Link Here

UzbekistanIn two separate cases in February, in different regions of Uzbekistan, courts have ordered religious literature confiscated from four Muslim women and a Protestant destroyed, Forum 18 News Service has learned.

All five were also fined, the 4 muslims were fined five times the minimum monthly wage and Baptist Odiljon Solijanov was fined 20 times the minimum monthly wage.

The four Muslim women work together in a kindergarten, and would sometimes during lunch breaks discuss religious subjects such as how to pray. This led to NSS secret police and ordinary police harassment, leading to a raid, literature confiscations and a fine. The police prevented the women attending the original court hearing, an appeal was rejected, and it is likely that all four women will be closely watched by the authorities.