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Religious Procession and Namaz Will Be Equated to “Dissenters March”

Religious Procession and Namaz Will Be Equated to “Dissenters March”
19.01.2013

The Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation published the draft of amendments in the federal legislation which introduce new order of carrying out religious ceremonies. The department wants to allow to carry out public prayers in churches and on land plots belonging to them, on cemeteries and in places of pilgrimage without coordination with the authorities. At the same time the Ministry of Justice suggests to equate mass public church services, for example, on city squares to meetings and to coordinate them with the authorities.

The draft of amendments in the federal law "On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations" is published on a site of Ministry of Justice. They suggest in the department to specify in the legislation directly where it’s possible to carry out church services which demand and don’t demand coordination with the authorities. In particular, the Ministry of Justice suggests not to ask permission of the officials when carrying out of ceremonies in buildings of cult constructions belonging to religious organizations or "provided to them on other property right", on the land plots belonging to churches, as well as on cemeteries and in crematoriums. At last, according to the department, there’s no use to coordinate ceremonies in "pilgrimage places". While public prayers in all other places the Ministry of Justice suggests to equate to mass actions, meetings and processions which have to be coordinated with local authorities. Thus department in details explains that such public ceremonies — are "open, available to perception of everyone religious services and ceremonies including church services, prayer and religious meetings". For examples, namazs in a capital cathedral mosque on Prospekt Mira which collect tens thousands believers fall under this definition.

Conflicts surrounding coordination of religious services became not rare after toughening of the federal legislation on carrying out of mass actions in the Russian regions in summer last year. Thus in July, 2012 management of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation in Primorye issued a warning to Kazyyatsky management of Muslims for carrying out of unauthorized street namazs in Vladivostok without submitting "notices on carrying out of public actions" to local administration. Local muftis called the warning absurd and promised to appeal against it in court.

In December, 2012 the Constitutional court of the Russian Federation asked legislators to divide secular and religious mass actions. It’s stated in the explanatory note to the bill of the Ministry of Justice that it was worked out "in pursuance of resolution of the Constitutional court".

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From editorial board: Muftis are absolutely right calling the warning absurd, but we live in a situation of permanent absurdity – it could observed on 31st of every month in performance of "Other Russia". The constitutional court demanded to divide secular and religious actions legislatively though it’s clearly stated in the Constitution of the Russian Federation:

Article 28

Everyone shall be guaranteed the right to freedom of conscience, to freedom of religious worship, including the right to profess, individually or jointly with others, any religion, or to profess no religion, to freely choose, possess and disseminate religious or other beliefs, and to act in conformity with them.

Firstly, if citizens have the right not to practise any religion, citizens who do it can't have thus any advantages, isn't it so? While now it turns out that religious citizens have certain advantage - special legislative order for religious actions. Though it is obvious that thousands believers occupying all streets round mosque create just the same problems for municipal economy as thousands people protesting against "law of rascals". Secondly, article 31 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation applies to all, including religious actions - if it is possible to hold meetings, than it’s possible to carry out prayer meetings, isn't it?

On the other hand, it would be desirable to look, of course, how boorish practice of application of the law on meetings will be applied to religious actions. For example, how mister Mayorov will suggest muftis to move namaz near cathedral mosque, say, to Taras Shevchenko Embankment or to change time of carrying out of the action because "Young guard of "United Russia" plans mass blood transfusion in this hour? Not to mention restriction of a number of praying to habitual 300 people...

It will be even more interesting to look how Moscow OMON will start dispersing "unauthorized" action near cathedral mosque and how Moscow courts will stamp penalties for jaywalking.

Thirdly – may be there’s sense to register "Left Front" as religious organization? Let's say "Sergey Udaltsov's Witnesses" - and to demand carrying out of ritual march to the fountain on Pushkin Square with the subsequent ritual and mass ablution?... Well, people have such faith – what could be objected?

"Other Russia" has other place of worship, on Triumfalnaya Square. While true communists should go to the Christ the Savior Cathedral demanding to restore the pool "Moskva" because true ablution is possible only in it...

Liberals have simpler situation than others - either Sakharov Avenue and Solovki stone are on their places, it is possible to bathe in Chistye Prudy named after Navalny.

What could be done - Middle Ages...

Anatoly Baranov, editor-in-chief of FORUM.msk

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