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Norway: State and Church Separate After 500 Years

(Feb. 3, 2017) On January 1, 2017, the Norwegian State Church (Norske statskirke) was formally and completely legally separated from the state when an amendment to the Church Act took effect. The changes made the Norwegian State Church into its own legal entity with no connection to the Norwegian state. (Lov om endringer i kirkeloven […]

Indonesia: Official Support for Fatwa Banning Christmas-Themed Clothing

(Dec. 28, 2016) On December 14, 2016, the Indonesian Ulama Council, a group of Muslim scholars from a number of Islamic organizations, issued a religious ruling, a fatwa, advising Muslims not to wear Christmas-themed clothing.  While urging respect for the rights of Christians to wear attire such as Santa hats, the document said that it […]

Germany: Court Declines Case Challenging Mandatory Participation of Female Muslim Student in Co-Ed Swim Class

(Dec. 15, 2016) On November 8, 2016, the German Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht, BVerfG) declined to accept for review a constitutional complaint alleging that mandatory participation in a co-ed swim class for a female Muslim student infringed on the applicant’s freedom of religion. In an unusual move, the Court provided reasoning for its refusal to hear […]

Indonesia: Controversy over Haj Agency Proposal

(Oct. 7, 2016) Indonesia’s government currently oversees its citizens’ exercise of the haj, the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, something each observant Muslim aspires to accomplish once in a lifetime. Under the Law on Implementing Haj Worship of 2008, which replaced a law on the same topic of 1999, the Ministry of Religious Affairs provides […]

Singapore: Teenage Blogger Sentenced to Jail Time

(Oct. 5, 2016) It was reported on September 30, 2016, that a 17-year-old blogger in Singapore was sentenced to six weeks in jail on charges of “wounding religious feelings” after he “pleaded guilty to posting comments on the Internet criticizing Christianity and Islam.” (Emelina Perez, Singapore Court Jails Teen Blogger, PAPER CHASE (Sept. 30, 2016).) […]

Egypt: Council of Ministers Discusses a New Bill Regulating the Construction of Churches

(Aug. 12, 2016) On July 21, 2016, the Prime Minister of Egypt, Sheriff Ismail, met with his Cabinet members to discuss the provisions of a draft law that would govern the construction of new Christian churches and the renovation of existing ones in the country. (Ismail, Ministers Discuss Draft Laws, Including Church Construction Bill, DAILY […]

Russia: New Law Regulates Missionary Work

(July 14, 2016) On July 6, 2016, the President of the Russian Federation signed the recently adopted Federal Law No. 374 on Amending the Federal Law on Counterterrorism and Select Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation Concerning the Creation of Additional Measures Aimed at Countering Terrorism and Protecting Public Safety. (Federal Law No. 374, PRAVO.GOV.RU […]

Pakistan: Regulatory Authority Bans Two Ramadan Programs

(June 29, 2016) On June 17, 2016, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), an independent television and radio regulator, banned the transmission of two Ramadan TV specials, as one news report notes, for violating PEMRA’s Electronic Media Code of Conduct rules by “promoting controversial and sectarian views.” (Following Threats, PEMRA Puts a Lid on […]

Malaysia: Legislative Proposal to Use Hudud in Penal Code

(June 2, 2016) On May 26, 2016, draft legislation that would incorporate Islamic criminal law in the country’s Penal Code was proposed in Malaysia’s Parliament by Abdul Hadi Awang, the head of the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, an opposition political group, with support from the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition. The legislation, due to be debated this […]

Saudi Arabia: Poet Sentenced to Death

(Dec. 7, 2015) On November 17, 2015, the Sharia General Court of Abha (a city in the southwest region of Saudi Arabia) found Ashraf Fayadh, a poet, guilty of blasphemy and apostasy. The Court sentenced him to the death penalty. (Angus McDowall, Saudi Arabian Court Sentences Palestinian Poet Ashraf Fayadh to Death for Apostasy, INDEPENDENT […]