New law on 'sectarian abuses' under review by the Constitutional Council

The outcry over the new French law that has established the crime of "psychological submission" aimed at "strengthening the fight against sectarian drifts" and, from bad to worse, the crime of incitement to refuse treatment or the adherence to unconventional practices, is not fading. But the most attentive have not missed the fact that the new crime seriously endangers freedom of religion or belief, an old target of French laicity. Also because in all of this there is the unwieldy hand of MIVILUDES. 

Sweden like France: persecutory behaviour against new religions by the authorities intensifies

While France, through the government agency MIVILUDES, is targeting the followers of MISA Yoga and its spiritual leader Gregorian Bivolaru, Sweden, which has always been seen as a vanguard of tolerance, inclusiveness and human rights, has unexpectedly engaged in persecution of a new Muslim religious movement, the Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light. The director of Human Rights Without Frontiers, Willy Fautré gave a detailed account of this, which we publish below.

Today is the 7th anniversary of the banning of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia

"The [Orthodox] Church does not appeals for heretics, members of cults or dissidents to be subjected to prosecution. However, the decision to ban Jehovah's Witnesses is to be considered a positive act in the fight against the spread of cultic ideas, which have nothing in common with Christianity." These were the words with which Metropolitan Ilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Council for External Affairs of the Russian Church, greeted the banning of Jehovah's Witnesses occurred in Russia 7 years ago, on April 20, 2017.

MIVILUDES at work: MISA Yoga believers and their spiritual leader Gregorian Bivolaru arrested in France

Under the pretext that the number of "saisines" (dubious and controversial reports) received by the MIVILUDES was increasing, on November 15, 2023, Sabrina Agresti-Roubache, Minister Delegate for Citizenship and Urban Development in the French government and MIVILUDES superintendent, presented a bill to "strengthen the fight against cultic deviances." Today, thanks to an article in The European Times® NEWS (reproduced below) signed by Willy Fautré, director o

The French government repudiates the motto 'Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité'.

"Approving that law would be a mistake for France," wrote Fabrizio d'Agostini, FOB's scientific advisor and founding member, regarding the bill to strengthen the fight against sectarian deviance that the French government approved despite the Senate's contrary opinion. "The history of France, but also of humanity, is 'chock-full' of similar laws, sometimes less refined, sometimes more brutal, mostly against religious minorities but not only and they have always been bloody stories of death, pain, suffering. They still are."

Italy, the Great Ramadan Scare and the Need for a “Mature Secularity”

A public school’s decision to give its students (many of whom are Muslims) a day off for Eid al Fitr has generated unnecessary controversies.

By Alessandro Amicarelli — On March 17, 1861, with the proclamation made in Turin of the newly established Kingdom of Italy, the result of the annexation of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies to the Kingdom of Sardinia, the first phase of united Italy began. It was a new sovereign state with the House of Savoy at its head and the Roman Catholic religion as the state religion.

Religious Freedom starring at the National Peace Symposium 2024

On March 9, 2024, in London, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at (AMJ) hosted the 18th National Peace Symposium. Among the many guests were Alessandro Amicarelli, Chairman of FOB, and Marco Respinti, member of FOB's Advisory Council and editor-in-chief of the academic publication The Journal of CESNUR (Center for Studies on New Religions) and the CESNUR project  Bitter Winter: A Magazine on Religious Liberty and Human Rights.

Thirty years of activities of the "Italian Islamic Religious Community" (COREIS), with a memory of Shaykh ‘Abd Al-Wahid Pallavicini

On Wednesday, February 28, 2024, an important conference on interreligious dialogue was held in Milan, Italy, at the State University, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the "Italian Islamic Religious Community" (COREIS), with the participation of scholars and representatives from the Jewish, Christian and Islamic worlds.

Open letter to France

Dear French citizens, Commission and Senate,

Only today (04.02.2024) I was able to read the bill being tabled, supposedly aimed to strengthen the fight against "sectarian drifts", and as a European citizen I feel to be in a position of remarking the following.

Passing that law would be a mistake for France.

Recurring cycles in the history of intollerance

In the 17th century Neapolitan philosopher Giambattista Vico illustrated how we have witnessed a turn over of moments of civilisation and moments of barbarism. France, evidently in the grip of a moment of barbarism, is once again proposing a law to strike down the so-called "sectarian drifts", to stifle any thought not aligned with the single thought so much in vogue today.

The European Parliament takes a stand against the persecution of Falun Gong in China

As reported in an article published in Bitter Winter by Yang Feng, according to a Falun Gong report, in 2023, 1,188 worshippers were sentenced to death, while 209 were killed. The thorny issue of organ harvesting to which Falun Gong worshippers sentenced to death are subjected, but also believers of other religions such as Uyghur Muslims and Christians of the Church of Almighty God, has come to the attention of the European Parliament (...)

Jehovah’s Witnesses fight Norway dangerous drift against freedom of religion or belief

The intolerant drift towards minority religions seems to know no rest in Europe, despite the dictates of the European Convention on Human Rights and the rulings promulgated by various courts in individual European states, such as the Court of Rome and, most recently, the Belgian Court of Cassation. The Netherlands also sees no reason to criminalise the restriction of contact with excluded ex-congregates.

Aldo Natale Terrin, obituary

It is with deep sorrow that we learn that Don Aldo Natale Terrin, a distinguished member of FOB's Scientific Committee, passed away on the evening of Tuesday, 9 January 2024.

Don Aldo Natale Terrin, priest of the Diocese of Padua, was born in Sandon on 23 December 1941 and was ordained to the priesthood on 8 July 1965. He was appointed as a teacher at the Minor Seminary of Thiene for secondary school. In the following months he also became a cooperator during the festivities in Roana (February-August 1966) and in Montegalda (August 1966-October 1967).

Update on the Buenos Aires Yoga School

Alessandro Amicarelli — On December 7, 2023, an important development happened in the Argentinian court case of the Buenos Aires Yoga School (BAYS). The Court of Appeals annulled the elevation to trial of the defendants and sent the case back to the investigating judge, urging him to evaluate the new evidence that had surfaced, in dialogue with the parties. The prosecutors filed an appeal in cassation against the Court of Appeals decision.

The Belgian Supreme Court brings justice to the Jehovah’s Witnesses

The year 2023 ends with a good news for the Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses in Belgium. The Belgian Supreme Court definitively puts an end to the Ghent case, reaffirming the legitimacy of the practice, adopted by Jehovah's Witnesses and, essentially, by all religions and human associational groups, political or otherwise, of severing relations with those who have disaffiliated or been expelled from the congregation.

Belarus highest court liquidates the evangelical New Life Church

The New Life Church has been permanently disbanded. The latest appeals by the pastor did not deter the judges from doing so.

Pastor Vyacheslav Goncharenko no longer has a church. Last Monday, Belarus’ Supreme Court ruled that his church “New Life” is extremist and must be closed. The ruling concludes a long legal battle between the church and Aleksandr Lukashenko’s regime.

The retaliation law strikes the FECRIS, at risk of dissolution

In the article published below, Willy Fautré, director of Human Rights Without Frontiers, describes a curious example of retaliation law that sees FECRIS - a supporter of the French About-Picard law of 12 June 2001, which provides for the dissolution of minority religious groups accused of 'abuse of weakness' (abus de faiblesse) against their followers - in the dock with a request for dissolution proposed by our French confederate CAP LC (Coordination des Associations et des Particuliers pour la Liberté de Conscience, an NGO with ECOSOC consultative status).

Media and religious minorities: when persecution is 'between the lines'

We share an important contribution by Willy Fautré, director of Human Rights Without Frontiers, published in Bitter Winter on the issue of how the media demonise religious minorities. Already in the past, Fautré had denounced the Belgian media's campaigns against the Christian congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, giving misleading when not outright false information, which was punctually refused in court. But so be it, the damage was done and the aim achieved.

Celebrating the birth of AFRSL and 75 years of UDHR and beyond

Alessandro Amicarelli, chairman of the European Federation for Freedom of Belief (FOB) and trustee of All Faiths Network UK, together with Massimo Introvigne, director in charge of Bitter Winter (online paper on Human Rights in China and the world), Rosita Soryte, director of the Observatory on the Religious Freedom of Refugees (ORLIR) and a member of the Scientific Committee of FOB, Eric Roux, president of the Union of the Churches of Scientology in France and Peter Zoherer, executive director of the Forum for Religious Freedom, Europe (FOREF Europe) ...