Jehovah's Witnesses' claim of exceptionalism alleged to threaten public order


Ministry declares that they posses instances of distribution of literature containing assertions posing a threat to public order

TASS, 6 April 2017


Jehovah's Witnesses violate the law "On combating extremism," by promoting the idea of their own exceptional nature and superiority over other religions, and they may be prosecuted on the basis of the criminal article regarding extremism in the event of the ban of the organization.


This was declared by a lawyer of the Russian Ministry of justice in a session of the Russian Supreme Court. "We have incidents of the distribution of literature containing assertions about the exceptional nature of Jehovah's Witnesses, which poses a threat to public order," a lawyer of the justice ministry reported in court.


The court posed for the justice ministry's lawyer a number of questions, including about the prospects of criminal prosecution of members of the Jehovah's Witnesses in the event of the liquidation of the organization. "We suggest that a ban on the activity of Jehovah's Witnesses does not violate the rights of citizens, but in the event of the adoption of such a decision, law enforcement agencies will be able to initiate cases on the basis of article 282.2 ("Arranging the activity of an extremist organization") of the Criminal Code of the Russian federation, the justice ministry's lawyer said.


Ministry of Justice's lawsuit


In its lawsuit, the Ministry of Justice indicates the discovery during an unscheduled inspection of various violations during the conduct of the activity of the organization, including of the federal law "On combating extremist activity." The ministry asks for finding the organization and 395 of its divisions to be extremist, to ban its activity, and to confiscate property.


In its turn, the press service of the organization described for TASS how "they regard this fact as extremely alarming," inasmuch as the decision may affect "175 thousand actively practicing believers." A representative of the press service, Ivan Bilenko, also noted that the organization is prepared to defend its rights in all judicial instances.


On 12 October 2016, the Tver court of Moscow issued a warning to the Jehovah's Witnesses about extremist activity. According to Russian legislation, if in the period of time established by the warning to religious associations the violations being committed are not removed or new incidents appear testifying to the presence of indicators of extremism, then the organization is liable for liquidation. On 16 January 2017, the Moscow city court ruled the warning to the organization about extremist activity to be legal.


Jehovah's Witnesses are an international religious organization that holds to unorthodox currents in Christianity and is distinguished by peculiar interpretations of many religious concepts. (tr. by PDS, posted 8 April 2017)

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