by PierLuigi Zoccatelli — More than 1,000 Christian and Hindu girls, many of them under age, complain every year that they have been kidnapped, forced to marry their captors, and compelled to sign statements that they have converted to Islam. To his credit, Prime Minister Imran Khan ordered in December 2000 an investigation into this disturbing phenomenon. However, incidents continue to happen, and local courts often side with the kidnappers, based on the formalistic argument that, once it happened, a conversion to Islam cannot be renounced, without committing the capital crime of apostasy.
by Alessandro Amicarelli —Reactions to the Law by Minority Religions, edited by Eileen Barker and James T. Richardson (London and New York: Routledge, 2021), is an exceptional book, which will serve as a manual for judges, lawyers, and scholars for years to come. It is not new to describe how minority religions are often discriminated by the laws and their enforcement, but for the first time this volume discusses what is done, or should be done to counter this state of the affairs. Readers of Bitter Winter will find in the book articles from familiar names, from the two well-known editors to Susan Palmer, Peter Zoehrer, Eric Roux.
by Abdulhakim Idris — In the international community, traces of the trauma of World War II remain. Especially in Germany, the Nazi administration continues to be held accountable. While this great pain persists, the world is experiencing the reality of genocide once again. New evidence and new documents emerge every day regarding the genocide carried out by the Chinese Communist regime against Muslim Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other populations in East Turkestan. Despite this undeniable situation, the sight of the German-led European Union sitting at the table with China shows that the West has forgotten the words “never again” in the wake of the Holocaust.
by Massimo Introvigne — Here we are. Announced in November, and as usually published for collecting “comments” that never change anything substantial, the new “Administrative Measures for Religious Clergy” will come into force on May 1. They create an Orwellian system of surveillance, and strengthen the already strict control on all clergy. The tool is a national data base of the authorized clergy, meaning clergy trained and recognized by the five authorized religions. There is a complicated system to enter the data base, but those who are out of it and will claim to be clergy will commit a crime.
by Massimo Introvigne — In late Winter last year, Shincheonji, a religious movement few non-Koreans had ever heard about, became a household name overnight as the ultimate “plague-spreading cult,” after one of its members was identified as an (involuntary) “superspreader” of COVID-19 in South Korea. Shincheonji and its leader, Chairman Lee Man Hee, were accused of having obstructed the anti-COVID-19 effort by not cooperating with the health authorities. Chairman Lee himself was arrested.
The French and Taiwanese experiences are not isolated. The tactic of using the tax system (very often already oppressive for all citizens) is used practically everywhere. Stigmatizing the target of one's aggression a tax evader has the obvious purpose of making him unpopular and justifying the limitation of his rights. Today we publish this interesting analysis by Christine Mirre, deputy director of FOB sister company CAP-LC (Coordination des Associations et des Particuliers pour la Liberté de Conscience), a United Nations ECOSOC-accredited NGO.
by Ruth Ingram — A last-ditch attempt by the ruling UK Conservative Party to persuade the Lords to rethink their stance on trade with genocidal states, failed dramatically this week. Peers defied pressure from the government to jettison an amendment to the Trade Bill, which would ban bilateral deals with states that commit genocide, by voting overwhelmingly in favor of the move for the second time, by 171 votes.
The practice of deprogramming is one of the sad - and sinister - topics denounced by FOB and other friendly organization and part of the battle for the respect of freedom of belief. Recent reports recounting the abuses suffered by believers of Shincheonji in South Korea, have brought the practice back into the public eye. In a ruling issued on November 27, 2020, the Hiroshima High Court confirmed that the abduction and detention of believers for the purpose of coercively "de-converting" them, is a crime.
by Massimo Introvigne — Many in the world know the names of Shincheonji and its leader, Chairman Lee Man Hee, only because they were accused by South Korean authorities of voluntarily obstructing the campaign to contain COVID-19 in the country, after a member of the movement had emerged as a “superspreader” of the virus. As I discussed in previous articles analyzing the decision, on January 13, 2021 the Suwon District Court acquitted Chairman Lee from all COVID-related charges and recognized that, rather than obstructing the health authorities’ efforts, “Shincheonji actively” and “promptly” cooperated with them.
Today, February 3, 2021, The Church of Almighty God released its 2020 Annual Report on the Chinese Communist Government’s Persecution of The Church of Almighty God, exposing the Chinese Communist Party’s continued assault on religious beliefs under the shadow of COVID-19. In 2020, at least 7,055 Christians from The Church of Almighty God were arrested, 1,098 were sentenced, and 21 were persecuted to death.
by Alessandro Amicarelli — A disproportionate number of cases involving forced adoption at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) come from Norway. Norwegian social services are quick to deprive parents of their rights, accusing them of neglect, and to place children in foster care, which then leads to adoption. Often, this happens to children of poor immigrant single parents, who end up being adopted by well-off Norwegians.
The Italian Supreme Court grants the re-examination of the asylum requests of the Church of Almighty God
Since its inception, FOB has supported the rights of refugees by bringing the issue to the attention of the OSCE HDIM, the Week for Religious Freedom at the US Senate and the UN. The awareness-raising activity promoted by FOB and friendly organizations begins to bear the hoped-for results, as reported in the following article by professor Massimo Introvigne published on Bitter Winter web magazine.
by Massimo Introvigne — On January 13, 2021, the Suwon District Court acquitted Chairman Lee Man Hee, the founder and leader of the South Korean Christian new religious movement Shincheonji, from charges that he had obstructed the anti-COVID-19 efforts by the health authorities. Debunking widespread fake news, the judges concluded that, in fact, after one of its members was diagnosed with COVID-19 and it became clear that, before the diagnosis, she had attended church events and infected co-religionists, “Shincheonji actively cooperated with the submission of data [requested by the authorities] and promptly provided them to the Central Disease Control Headquarters [CDCH].”
by Massimo Introvigne — For several months, South Korean and international media depicted Shincheonji, one of the largest Korean Christian new religious movements, and his founder and leader Chairman Lee Man Hee, as “plague-spreaders” responsible of the first outbreak of COVID-19 in South Korea. Now, a South Korean court of law has debunked this claim as fake news.
Marlène Schiappa entrusts MIVILUDES to write a report on "sectarian drifts imported from the United States"
During the program "Dimanche en politique" Marlène Schiappa, Minister Delegate at the Minister of the Interior, in charge of Citizenship, declared that "More and more families influenced by Evangelical branches from the United States are asking for certificates of virginity".
At a time when the debates on the bill confirming the respect of the principles of the Republic began in the National Assembly, it seemed to us wise to think about ways to enrich and improve it, where we felt it could be. Far from being exhaustive and covering all aspects of a text that is intended to be major in the history of the Fifth Republic, we focused on the part of the text that reformed the 1905 law on the separation of churches and the state.
HRWF/ Bitter Winter (11.01.2021) — While the bill Consolidating Respect for the Principles of the Republic (former bill on separatism) is currently being examined by a special committee of the French National Assembly, three renowned experts have just published a white paper entitled Laïcité, How to Preserve it.
One of the tragic aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic is the limitation of individual freedoms at almost all latitudes. In some countries this adds up to the deplorable and blamed limitations on freedom of belief. The 2020 report on the persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia tells of a long history of abuses that do not seem to diminish, indeed, they seem to be getting worse and worse.
Below is a 2020 year-end report illustrating the scope of Russia’s crackdown on Jehovah’s Witnesses. For its incessant persecution of Witnesses, among other offenses, Russia is listed on UN Watch’s 2020 “Top 10 Human Rights Abusers.”
As of December 31, 2020 (Russia and Crimea):