Jehovah Witness Kicks As Russia Moves To Ban Christian Group

Jehovah Witness Kicks As Russia Moves To Ban Christian Group

Jehovah Witness Kicks As Russia Moves To Ban Christian Group

Russia's news agency is reporting the city court of Birobidzhan's decision to ban Jehovah's Witnesses will be upheld.

David Semonian, a spokesman at its world headquarters in NY, said regarding the proposed national ban that the Jehovah's Witnesses hope "Russia's Supreme Court will uphold the rights of our fellow believers in Russian Federation to freely carry out their peaceful worship".

The Justice Ministry in Moscow has been investigating the Jehovah's Witnesses' Russian headquarters near St. Petersburg over the a year ago and claimed it discovered violations of a Russian law banning extremism. This approach dates back to the Soviet period and impacts other religious groups, including peaceful Christians and Muslims. One pamphlet quoted the novelist Leo Tolstoy, describing the doctrine of the Russian Orthodox Church as superstition and sorcery, according to BBC correspondent Sarah Rainsford.

The court, however, said it's "ineligible to review this lawsuit" because other courts are responsible for determining whether a person or group have been politically repressed. The court adjourned the hearing until Thursday. David A. Semonian, a spokesman at the Witnesses' world headquarters, responded in a statement, saying: "Prosecuting non-violent, law-abiding citizens as if they were terrorists is clearly a misapplication of anti-extremist laws".

The Supreme Court dismissed a counterclaim from the Jehovah's Witnesses that its members were victims of repression.

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The federal United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said Wednesday that the Justice Ministry's move "reflects the Russian government's tendency to view all independent religious activity as a threat to its control and the country's political stability".

The Jehovah's Witnesses group, which started in the US, was outlawed under in the Soviet Union under Joseph's Stalin's rule in the 1930s.

The current crackdown echoes previous eras of antagonism toward the religious group. The Administrative Centre of Jehovah's Witnesses is a head organization managing local branches of Jehovah's Witnesses across Russian Federation.

The Jehovah's Witnesses have strongly denied the accusations against it, arguing that "extremism is profoundly alien to the Bible-based beliefs and morality" of members of the faith. "Never did I expect that we would again face the threat of religious persecution in modern Russian Federation".

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