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RUSSIA: Jehovah's Witnesses appeal banning of their Bible

December 6, 2017 by admin

JW World Headquarters (05.12.2017) - On Wednesday, December 6, at 10 a.m., the Leningrad Regional Court will consider the appeal by Jehovah's Witnesses challenging the August 17 decision of the Vyborg City Court, which ruled that the Russian-language New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (NWT) is an "extremist" publication.

Ironically, in the fall of 2015, President Putin signed an amendment to Article 3 of the Federal Law on Extremism, which states: "The Bible, the Quran, the Tanakh, and the Kangyur, their contents, and quotations from them cannot be recognized as extremist materials." However, the court appointed an "expert study" that claimed the NWT is not a Bible, thus giving them license to ban it as an "extremist" publication.

David Semonian, international spokesman for Jehovah's Witnesses, states: "We, of course, were not happy with the August 17 decision, but we were not alone. International experts have sharply criticized the integrity of the expert study and the ruling that resulted."

For example, Alexander Verkhovsky, director of the SOVA Center for Information and Analysis and a member of President Vladimir Putin's Human Rights Council, states: "Ms.Kryukova [the court-appointed expert] is notorious for extremely low quality expert conclusions. She always works on the side of accusations-not to mention she lacks any training in study of religions-so her opinion is not valuable."

Dr. Daniel Mark, chairman of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, states: "The conclusion by the court-by any court-that the NWT translation is not a Bible is nonsense. All people of good will should be concerned with this development in Russia."

Additionally, the SOVA Center's "Misuse of Anti-Extremism in July-August 2017" newsletter stated: "We consider the Vyborg City Court decision unlawful and regard it as a dangerous precedent. The approach chosen by experts and the court's way of circumventing the law that prohibits recognition of the scriptures of the major religions as extremist opens the door to prohibiting other translations and paraphrases of the holy books in the future."

Mr. Semonian concludes: "The NWT is an internationally respected Bible translation; we remain hopeful that the Leningrad Regional Court will recognize that fact on Wednesday and reverse the August 17 ruling."
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