Russia Supreme Court bans Jehovah's Witnesses

Members of Jehovah's Witnesses listen to the judge's verdict in a court room in Moscow

Members of Jehovah's Witnesses listen to the judge's verdict in a court room in Moscow

The Jehovah's Witnesses group has been banned from activities across Russian Federation after the country's highest court declared it was an "extremist organisation". The group has said it will appeal the decision.

The post Russia's Supreme Court Bans Jehovah's Witnesses, Labels It "extremist" appeared first on SIGNAL. "If the claim is satisfied, it would entail catastrophic consequences for the freedom of religion in Russian Federation". The Russian government cracked down on the group a year ago when it banned Jehovah's Witnesses literature they considered a violation of national security laws.

The powerful Russian Orthodox Church has spoken out against the group, with one church official branding it a "destructive sect" last month.

Russia's Jehovah Witnesses have had several run-ins with law enforcement in recent years.

The authorities had already put several of the group's publications on a list of banned extremist literature and prosecutors had cast it as an organisation that destroys families, fosters hatred and threatens lives.

In 2004, Moscow dissolved a branch of the Jehovah's Witnesses. The European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2010 that the move had violated the right to freedom of religion and association.

Jehovah's Witnesses do not observe Christmas, Easter, birthdays and other holidays, which they consider to have pagan origins that are not compatible with Christianity. They reject modern evolutionary theory and refuse blood transfusions.

"The treatment of the Jehovah's Witnesses reflects the Russian government's tendency to view all independent religious activity as a threat to its control and the country's political stability", Thomas J. Reese, S.J., chairman of the USCIRF, said.

"We will appeal this decision, and we hope that our legal rights and protections as a peaceful religious group will be fully restored as soon as possible".