Wednesday, October 2, 2002

Belarus to impose strong restrictions on minority religions

Belarus moved today toward imposing harsh new restrictions on religious activity by minority faiths, adopting what human rights activists called the most suffocating religion law in Europe.

Lawmakers gave final approval to legislation that recognizes Russian Orthodoxy as the officially favored religion and makes it far more difficult for anyone of another faith to worship without state approval. Under the new law, all unregistered religious activity will be banned and all religious literature must be submitted for prior approval.....The law prohibits religious organizations that have not been in Belarus for at least 20 years from distributing literature or establishing missions, and it imposes government censorship on religious publications. It also bans foreign citizens from leading religious organizations and bans most religious meetings in homes, according to the Keston News Service, which reports on religious rights.

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