Court Bans Religious Activities of Jehovah's Witnesses

March 27, 2004

Source: The Houston Chronicle

On March 27, 2004 The Houston Chronicle ran an Associated Press article that reported, "A Moscow court has banned the religious activities of Jehovah's Witnesses from the Russian capital in a move that critics called a step back for democracy and religious freedom. Prosecutors claimed Jehovah's Witnesses destroys families and fosters hatred. Moscow's Golovinsky district court on Friday granted their request that it be outlawed in the capital under a provision that allows courts to ban religious groups considered to incite hatred or intolerant behavior. John Burns, a Canadian lawyer for the group, pledged to appeal the decision to higher Russian courts and to pursue it in the European Court of Human Rights. 'Religious minorities are often a litmus test for where a society is going... this is an ominous signal,' he said. Defense lawyer Galina Krylova argued that the decision has no legal foundation as the prosecutor simply cited the denomination's religious literature. 'The activities of Jehovah's Witnesses weren't the subject of the court trial ...the subject was the religious beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses... doctrinal arguments,' Krylova said. The U.S. State Department also criticized the decision."