Notes on Church-State Affairs
Hendon, David W., Hines, Jason, Journal of Church and State
A criminal court in Oran sentenced Slaghi Krimo, a Christian, to five years in prison. Supporters were shocked at the sentence because the prosecutor had only asked for two years. The verdict results from accusations from Kruno's neighbor that Krimo was trying to convert him and that a CD Krimo gave him insulted the Prophet Mohammed.
President Uham Aliev sent amendments to the law on religion to the Milh Mejlis (Parliament). If approved, they would increase from ten to fifty the number of people required as "founders" in order for a religious group to qualify for registration. They would also require the central body of a religious group to exercise greater authority over its community.
On March 4, 2011, officials closed a mosque in Qobustan. No explanation was given for the action. Additionally, three rehgious communities in Gyanja, the country's second largest city, were banned from meeting. Protestant members said two buses with ordinary police and riot police were sent to stop worship. Police also raided Sunday worship at two Protestant churches in Sumgait on the grounds they were not meeting in official places of worship. One met in a restaurant and the other in a private home. The police issued fines and confiscated literature.
On May 16, 201 1, Judge Zhanna Brysina of Zavodskoy District Court sentenced several people for political activity. Former presidential candidate and human rights defender Andrei Sannikov was sentenced to five years in jail. Two days later, his wife was given a two-year suspended sentence. The court sentenced opposition political activist Sergei Martselev to two years and Christian Democracy Co-chair Pavel Severinets to three years. The charges against Severinets were based on a protest rally against alleged electoral fraud in December 2010 in which he and the others participated. Severinets claims that he was denied visits from an Orthodox priest for five months after his arrest in December even though he had requested such visits ten times, including visits for important dates such as Easter. He blamed the denials on his unwillingness to cooperate with the KGB. His wife sought unsuccessfully to meet with Metropolitan Filearet, who disapproves of human rights activists.
Nikolai Varushin, leader of a Baptist Council of Churches congregation, lost his appeal and was fined the equivalent of $335 for conducting a worship service without permission. He belonged to a group that does not believe in seeking official registration with the government.
Members of the nationalist party International Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (VMRO) disrupted the Easter services of Jehovah's Witnesses in the Black Sea city of Burgas. The Witnesses called the police, who were slow to respond. Five members of the congregation were taken to the hospital. Ten members of the VMRO were arrested, including the party's regional leader Georgi Drakaliev.
In a break from their history of staying away from party politics, members of the Salafi trend in Islam formed a political party, Al Nour (Light). Salafis believe in taking early Muslim leaders of the first three generations after Mohammed as models for how to live. Former President Hosni Mubarak had granted the Salafis considerable freedom because they were seemingly apolitical. Their critics call the Salafis "Wahhabis," in an effort to tie them to Saudi Arabia. Dr. Safwat Hegazy, one of their most prominent leaders, denies any connection to the Saudis. The new party calls for more reference to Sharia law but has not called for a full implementation of Sharia. The party said that Coptic Christians should have a right to their religion.
France became the first country to ban veils anywhere in public with a law that went into effect on April 11, 2011. A group of about a dozen Muslims protested the law in front of Notre Dame Cathedral, and three women wearing niqab veils, which only have slits for the eyes, were arrested. …