Jehovah’s Witnesses launch global response against Russia’s proposed ban on the religion.
The Supreme Court of Russia is set to judge whether Jehovah's Witnesses can be considered as an “extremist” body. This came after the Russian Justice Ministry made its application for an order which will shut the national headquarters of this group. Jehovah's Witnesses has its base near St. Petersburg. The website of the Russian Supreme Court announced a legal team would get together on April 5 and consider the application made by the Justice Ministry. The matter of banning all activities by Jehovah's Witnesses depends on the outcome of this meeting.
Members of Jehovah's Witnesses have responded by making an appeal to Supreme Court officials and the Kremlin. Jehovah’s Witnesses have launched a worldwide letter writing campaign to Russia. The heads of Jehovah's Witnesses has invited its members from all over the world to participate. About 8 million people identify themselves as a Jehovah’s Witness.
Jehovah's Witnesses is well known for its highly visible foreign ministries. Its practice of campaigning door-to-door has made it well known not only in Russia but all over the world. The problem with the Russian authorities is not a new phenomenon, Moscow labels it as a cult, a label which it fiercely denies. A number of its publications have been inserted into the banned extremist literature link. Russian prosecutors have projected it as an organization which fosters hatred, threatens lives and destroys families. The organization has denied such labels.
If the Russian Government has its way, the national headquarters of the Jehovah's Witnesses near the city of St. Petersburg will be locked off. About 400 local religious organizations which are registered with the Russian government will be destroyed. These will outlaw services of about 2,300 Jehovah's Witnesses congregations in Russia. The state will seize all places of worship throughout Russia. Not only this, members of this religious organization will be subjected to be criminally prosecuted for simply carrying out worship activities. All of these matters will be judged by the Supreme Court on April 5.
— Elsa Aquino (@elsai33) March 23, 2017
In a statement, Jehovah's Witnesses said millions of its followers all over the world regard the actions of the ministry a big mistake. In case this lawsuit goes in Kremlin's favor, there will be catastrophic consequences in regards to religious freedom worship within Russia. Russian government investigators conducted an inspection of the group's national headquarters, taking away a number of documents.