1. Serbia: Church Deemed “Not Orthodox”, Denied Legal Status (Jan. 8)
2. Indonesia Increasingly Blends Religious and Political Decisions (Jan. 8)
3. Uzbekistan: Jehovah’s Witnesses Fined, Threatened with Death (Jan. 9)
4. England Moves to Abolish Blasphemy Law (Jan. 9)
The BBC reports that the British government is currently in consultation with the Church of England before moving to abolish the country’s centuries-old blasphemy law. The law, which is based on a series of decisions by 19th-century courts and is designed to protect only the Church of England, is presently viewed as out of place in a country that values free expression, although a conviction under the law occurred as recently as 1979. Calls for Satanic Verses author Salman Rushdie to be prosecuted under the law failed, as the law does not recognize blasphemy against other religions.
5. Chechen President Demands Increase in Islamic Programming (Jan. 10)
6. Turkmenistan: Jehovah’s Witness Sentenced for Conscientious Objection (Jan. 10)
7. Afghanistan: Journalism Student Held on Charges of Blasphemy (Jan. 12)
Reuters reports that Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, a 23-year-old journalism student, is in his third month of detention on charges of blasphemy for “mocking Islam and the Koran”. Kambakhsh, a student at Balkh University and a reporter for the daily Jahan-e Naw, was detained by Afghan security forces after his classmates accused him of making blasphemous comments. It is not known when or if he will be tried, but if convicted of blasphemy, Kambakhsh could face the death penalty.
Features: Religious freedom in Israel: a report from Reuters.
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International Religious Freedom Archive from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty