KESTON NEWS SERVICE: SUMMARY
Issue 8 Articles 1- 9
21 July 2000

Immediate reporting on violations of religious liberty and on religion in
communist and post-communist lands.
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TURKMENISTAN: MULLAH'S KORAN TRANSLATION BURNT,
MOSQUES DEMOLISHED. By order of the President of Turkmenistan, all
known copies of the Koran in Turkmen have been burned, the 72 year-old
mullah who made the translation has had his home bulldozed and has been sent
into exile.

TURKMENISTAN: CONSISTENT MEDDLING IN ISLAMIC AFFAIRS BY
GOVERNMENT. The mullah�s situation is not unique. In light of the
President�s recent statements, it is thought that numerous foreign Muslim
teachers have been deported and observers are preparing for further
crackdowns on Muslim education and unregistered mosques.

CZECH GOVERNMENT COPIES AUSTRIAN MODEL FOR MORE
RESTRICTIVE DRAFT RELIGION LAW (1 August). On 19 July, the Czech
government approved a government proposal for a new bill on the registration
and status of churches and religious organisations. It includes a two-tier
registration system, a ten year probationary period and a minimum membership
of approximately 20,000 to receive full recognition (see
for a translation).

CZECH ANGLICAN CHURCH FORCED TO SIDESTEP RESTRICTIVE
RELIGION LAW (3 August). Unable to obtain registration on its own due to
its limited membership, the Anglican Church has registered as a parish of the
Old Catholic Church. Although this arrangement grants certain tax advantages,
according to the Anglican Diocese of Europe it also builds on close ties with
their �oldest ecumenical partner�.

PROPOSED CZECH REGISTRATION LAW PROMISES COLD
COMFORT FOR MINORITY FAITHS (2 August) Some currently
unrecognised religious groups, including Muslims, have argued that the
proposed system makes the second stage unattainable, while the more
attainable first stage brings few new advantages. However, the Department of
Churches within the Ministry of Culture explained that their proposals were
made in order to force religious groups to prove their credibility and allow the
Department to assess their �seriousness�. According to its director Jana Repova,
�If the Roman Catholic Church came to Iran, what would Iran do? Would it
grant it, as a world-renowned religion, the same advantages as the Muslim
religion? That�s not how life works�Let no-one tell me that everywhere [in
the world] these churches are accepted with open arms.�

CZECH RELIGIOUS GRUOPS ALREADY FACE REGISTRATION
REQUIREMENTS (2 August). Under laws passed in the early 1990s, the
Czech republic established a minimum membership for registration and agreed
to subsidise the wages of registered church clergy. Religious groups already
registered by the Communists were automatically registered under the new law
of 1991. According to the Ministry of Culture, the motivation behind the new
proposed law is twofold: to expand and more clearly define the provisions for
registration and to liberalise the registration process in order to accommodate
smaller religious groups.

CZECH: LITTLE RELIGIOUS SOLIDARITY TO OPPOSE RESTRICTIVE
PROPOSED LAW (2 August). With representatives of both registered and
unregistered faiths unwilling to speak on behalf of any but their own groups
and with the government adamant about dealing only with registered religious
groups, it appears unlikely that the interests of unrecognised religious groups
will make any impact on the future shape of the proposed new law on religion.
Many registered and unregistered groups accept the proposed ten-year waiting
period for registration as a necessary safeguard from �undesirable sects�.

CRIMEA: STANDOFF AFTER ORTHODOX SEIZE BACK SEVASTOPOL
CHURCH. An Orthodox community in Sevastopol seized part of Ss Peter and
Paul Church on its patronal festival, 12 July, claiming that their lawful rights to
ownership had long been ignored and that the church should have been
returned half a year ago. The director of the cultural centre which currently
occupies the building told Keston News Service that the centre is prepared to
move to another location, but the city authorities have been backtracking on the
order to return the church and have dragged their feet over allocating
alternative premises for the cultural centre. In the absence of the city's mayor
on holiday, the standoff between the Orthodox and city authorities continues.

KOSOVO: ATTACKS ON DECANI MONASTERY. The monks of the
Serbian Orthodox monastery at Decani near Pec have complained of what they
claim is the theft of wood from their forest as contractors build a new reservoir.
They also protested against a grenade attack on the historic monastery that
came close to hitting the monastery's church. The embattled monks now fear
the reopened road above the monastery could be used to launch further attacks.
However, the local administrator for the United Nations Mission in Kosovo
(UNMIK) told Keston News Service from Pec that the Kosovo Stabilisation
Force (KFOR) will closely monitor traffic on the road.

Copyright (c) 2000 Keston Institute. All rights reserved.