Voices from Russia

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Quran-Burning Pastor Barred From Germany

The “Thomas More Law Center” is a hyper-rightwing group that Sir Thomas More would disown if he were alive today. They’re the sort who put anti-abortion agitation at the centre of their ideology… if one is for the illegalisation of abortion, all else is forgiven. What’s warmongering and commercial buccaneering amongst friends, anyway?

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Germany denied entry to American pastor Terry Jones, who gained notoriety by publicly burning copies of the Quran. On Sunday, the Interior Ministry said it’d be unwise to add fuel to the current unrest triggered by the American video that Muslims believe insulted the Prophet Muhammad. Radical right-wing groups had invited the Florida pastor to Germany. The authorities cautioned the radicals not to insult or attack German-based Muslims.

16 September 2012

Voice of Russia World Service

http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_09_16/Koran-burning-pastor-barred-from-Germany/

Monday, 2 July 2012

Legal Protections for Believers: Pro et Contra

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Today, in Russia, one increasingly hears demands to toughen penalties for offending believers. The proposed amendments to the article in the RF Criminal Code on human dignity provoked intense debate in Russian society. Recently, United Russia Gosduma deputies put forward a proposal to amend Article 282 of the Criminal Code (Inciting hatred or enmity, and degradation of human dignity), whilst the RF Federation Council supported the initiative. These actions from parliamentarians caused a strong reaction in the public.

A separate and specific need to protect the feelings of believers in Russia arose at the beginning of 2012, after an unfortunate incident at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. In late February, members of the Russian feminist punk-rock band Pussy Riot took over the bema in the church, where they made what they called a “punk prayer”. The lyrics of the song, posted later on the internet, contained offensive language applied to President Vladimir Putin and to Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev, the First Hierarch of the MP. Pussy Riot’s stunt infuriated many people, even those who didn’t consider themselves Orthodox Christians. The cops arrested three of the “punk prayer” participants and they’re now in gaol. However, many don’t agree that they should be in the slammer. Over a hundred figures from the Russian arts world, amongst them the most famous and beloved actors, directors, writers, and musicians, signed an appeal to the RF Supreme Court and the Moscow City Court in defence of the Pussy Riot members. Then, the Russian media broke a few scandals related directly to Patriarch Kirill and the Church, which gave rise to talk about a deliberately-focused anti-clerical campaign. What poured more fuel unto the fire was the recent “Silver Galoshes” Award, which is an annual spoof award for dubious achievements. This year, its board nominated Patriarch Kirill as one of the candidates, and he was voted one of the “winners”.

However, not only is Orthodoxy under attack, but also other confessions and religions. Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, the Chairman of the MP Department for Church and Society, said, “Existing laws don’t protect us against attacks on faith and religion. Today, many believe that it’s clear that the current penalties for insulting the religious feelings of believers and the desecration of venerated objects, i.e., administrative fines ranging from 500 to 1,000 roubles (15-30 USD. 12.50-25 Euros. 10-20 UK Pounds), are unacceptably pathetic. Deprecating people’s religious feelings is a crime that could threaten civil peace in our country and put huge masses of people at loggerheads. We know of such examples related to the burning of the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad cartoons. Contempt for the feelings of believers and religious objects is extremely dangerous, and we should punish it no less severely than we do ethnic provocations or the desecration of graves or symbols of the state”.

United Russia Gosduma deputies have already begun to prepare amendments to Article 282 for the autumn session. These provide not only significantly increased fines for offending religious sentiments, but also even the possibility of imprisonment. Russian Muslims praised the proposed amendments. Albir Krganov, the first deputy of the Supreme Mufti of Russia, said, “We have a saying in Islam, ‘What the Lord left undone in the Quran, the Sultan took care of’. However, in light of recent events, no matter how democratic any society, there’s a potential risk of inciting ethnic hatred. The people who incited what happened at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour weren’t people of other nationalities and beliefs. However, for example, what if they weren’t Russian, or if they were non-Orthodox? How would our society react to that? I’m confident that the Gosduma shall take all necessary measures to maintain stability concerning this delicate matter”.

However, some religious leaders believe that the introduction of a new law is an ineffective way to deal with attacks on the religious feelings of believers. Rabbi Zinovy Kogan, the Chairman of the Congress of Jewish Religious Communities and Organizations of Russia, said in an interview with VOR, “I don’t believe in criminal punishment for this, and I think that the only problem is that we don’t properly enforce the existing laws on religious hatred. Any time you tighten up the law, it incites antagonism. At a time when our society has very large divisions and much acrimony, we, the religious leaders of all faiths, on the contrary, must show an example of charity and tolerance. Anti-religious agitation is already illegal under existing laws. Why, the present laws prohibit even kids from saying certain things. It’s better for us to let some mistaken things pass, for the sake of freedom and liberty. We shouldn’t turn our people into a nation of gagged mutes. If there’s falsehood, let us correct it. You have to be tolerant”.

The main argument of those who oppose introducing amendments to the Criminal Code to protect believers is that such is a violation of constitutional principles. Human rights activist Sergei Kovalyov said, “Such an approach contradicts the legal principle of the equality of all before the law. It’s necessary to defend the principle of equal rights at all costs. The existence of a group of citizens having a special exemption from abuse is unconstitutional. Moreover, we have a secular state, the Church and its believers don’t have any privileges over other groups”.

Roman Lunkin, Director of Research at the Institute on Religion and Law of the Centre for the Study of Religion and Society at the Institute of Europe, said, “For now, it isn’t a necessity to change the existing law and introduce amendments to it, rather, we should seek ways of consensus between society and religious bodies. Of course, we shouldn’t let a person insult the religious sensibilities of others, that’s obvious. Cultured and intelligent people don’t do this. However, in an open democratic society, we should allow a certain amount of satire, including towards religion and belief. For example, look at how the popes reacted to all the scandals associated with the Catholic Church over the years. Just recently, there was a financial scandal at the Vatican, and, for a long time, the Holy See gave no response to it. Because for they’ve lived for many years in a democratic society, Catholics are accustomed to the criticisms and arguments of atheists, Marxists, and secularists, who claim that religion’s a purely personal concern. Simply put, they just didn’t react to such statements and jabs. In particular, I’m sure that the Orthodox Church will get used to such a position”.

Against the backdrop of the Russian debate about whether or not (and in what way) to protect religious values and feelings, the refusal of Swiss Senate to protect Christian symbols in the country went almost unnoticed. In mid-June, the upper chamber of the Federal Assembly of Switzerland refused to act on a parliamentary initiative to protect the Christian symbolism through an article in the constitution. Seventeen of the 21 members of the Senate voted to quash the initiative. Those in favour of passing the measure were sure that there was hostility to the crucifixion in Switzerland, leading to criticism of crosses in classrooms, on roadsides, and on mountaintops. They cited acts of vandalism against Christian symbols. They opined that this might lead to the possible removal of Christian symbolism from public places, leading to the disappearance of the Christian religion, which is the foundation of Western European culture. Those who voted against it warned that if they granted a special position to Christian manifestations in the constitution, it might lead to a “Kulturkampf”.

Laws to protect the feelings of believers and penalties for desecration of religious objects exist in different countries. However, the existence of special laws and legal deterrents won’t protect believers from those who seek to hurt them. That’s why the European Court of Human Rights deals so often with cases dealing with violations of religious rights today.

28 June 2012

Milena Faustova

Voice of Russia World Service

http://rus.ruvr.ru/2012_06_28/79602182/

Sunday, 2 October 2011

2 October 2011. A Point to Ponder… A Muslim Speaks Up…

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Islam is by nature violent? That sounds like an extremely hypocritical statement to me. That’s analogous to a Muslim concluding that Christianity is by nature violent because of the actions of people like George W Bush and other Western leaders. It’s like us using the statements by the “Quran burning” pastor in Florida and projecting them as general Christian dogma. The list goes on… criminals are criminals, regardless of what faith they claim to hold. Throughout history, people have tried to destroy true religion by using it to promote their own agendas, and they’ve been successful in blaspheming the name of religion and God. You can observe that by seeing the exponentially growing numbers of atheists and agnostics who’ve become disheartened by “religion” (especially, in the West). There are very few who’re able to see beyond that and still find peace in Almighty God. All true Muslim believers consider Orthodox Christians to be worshipers of the One True God. May God help us all seek peace and serenity, and that we may find truth in Him and only in Him. You know I honour your Faith; I know you respect mine. 

There’s no need for any commentary on my part. THIS is truth…

BMD


Monday, 15 August 2011

Ramadan Tent in Moscow will Open at the Poklonnaya Gora Memorial Complex

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Mufti Ravil Ismagilovich Gainutdin (1959- ), President of the Council of Muftis in Russia, is the host of the Ramadan Tent in Moscow…

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Scenes from the 2010 Ramadan Tent on Poklonnaya Gora… it’s pitched on one of the most “sacred” secular sites in Russia, the main memorial complex to the fallen of the VOV… you can’t get more narodnost (“folk-minded”) than that! Last year, Ravil Ismagilovich invited Fr Vsevolod Chaplin, the closest confidant to His Nibs, to the tent, and Fr Vsevolod GLADLY came… that’s the TRUTH about Orthodox/Muslim relations!

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On 15 August, the annual “Ramadan Tent” cultural/charity project will open near the memorial mosque in the Poklonnaya Gora Memorial Complex in Moscow. This is the sixth year for this event. Since 2010, the Moscow City government included the Ramadan Tent as one of its officially-sponsored Muslim events in the city, the official website of the Council of Muftis of Russia said on Friday. Every day, the tent will present a cultural programme and dinner. The tent will be open daily in the evening from 16 to 29 August. Everyone is welcome to attend the planned activities, whatever their nationality or religion. The tent will host up to 600 people each day.

12 August 2011

Interfax-Religion

http://www.interfax-religion.ru/?act=news&div=41833

Editor’s Note:

If you hear anti-Muslim propaganda from konvertsy, shut them up with the truth! Christians and Muslims have gotten on well in Russia for five centuries, and that’s that. Don’t allow the konvertsy to contaminate the Church with their Sectarian-style hatred… oppose them at every juncture and shout them down. The Church is what She is… and She isn’t a carbon-copy of the Sectarian conventicles down the street. Our Lord Christ and His Truth are worth fighting for… don’t let these clownish bastards suck out the Reality of the Church and replace it with Sectarian goo. God expects that of us…

BMD

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