Muslims challenge denial of registration
Moldova’s three thousand strong Muslim community has lodged a challenge at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg to the government’s refusal to grant their faith registered status. The leader of the Spiritual Organisation of Muslims in Moldova told Keston News Service that those attending Friday prayers at the three rented venues in the Moldovan capital Chisinau regularly have their identities checked by the police and are even filmed as they leave.
The chairman of the State Service for the Affairs of Cults was unable to explain to Keston why the Muslims had been refused registration. It could be more than a year before the ECHR rules on whether the case is admissible.
Moratorium on registration of new faiths
A government session on 12 June 2002 ruled that no new faiths will be registered until the religion law is amended, a government official has told Keston News Service. Unregistered religions cannot buy land or obtain building permits for places of worship or educational institutions.
Under the new amendments, responsibility for registering faiths is likely to be transferred from the government to the State Service for the Affairs of Cults. Serghei Ostaf, a human rights lawyer told Keston he would welcome such a transfer, as it could make the registration process more transparent and less “political“. But the moratorium “could just be an excuse for some delaying tactics,” he said.
It remains unclear how long it will be before any amendments to the religion law – which may follow the model of the “anti-sect” law adopted in France in May 2001 – are approved by parliament and enter into force.
The government has recognised and registered 20 religious faiths, mostly Christian denominations but also including Jews, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baha’is and the Hare Krishna community. As well as the Bessarabian Church, it has denied registration to the True Orthodox Church and the Spiritual Organisation of Muslims in Moldova. The Mormons applied for registration in 2000, but have so far not achieved it.
Deadline expires, but no compensation for Bessarabian Church
See full report here.
Source: Keston Institute <http://www.keston.org> – published on 24 June 2002.