Answer: we shall never know – or, at any rate, this case does not resolve the question.
The applicants, Bluma and Alain Perelman, are French nationals who live in Frankfurt am Main. When they moved there in 2002, they registered their residence with the local authorities and both indicated “Mosaic” in the field for “religion”. A few months later they received a letter from the Frankfurt Jewish community welcoming them as new members – which they refused. The community did not accept their objection and, as a precautionary measure, they resigned their membership with effect from the end of October 2003. The Frankfurt tax office then levied church tax on their income for the period from November 2002 to October 2003 – and they brought an action for a declaration that they had not been members of the Jewish community during that period. Continue reading →
In February 2007 some of the applicants, Ahmadi Muslims, decided to set up a new religious association, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, to be based in Sandanski: the others joined them subsequently. The first applicant, Mr Metodiev, applied to the district court of Sofia to register the new association under the Religions Act and the court sought the opinion of the Department for Religious Affairs – and denied the application. Continue reading →
In National Turkish Union v Bulgaria ECHR (No. 4776/08) [Frenchonly], the National Turkish Union and its founder and president, Menderes Mehmet Kungyun, complained successfully that the Bulgarian authorities’ refusal to register the Union was a breach of Article 11 ECHR.
In 2006 Mr Kungyun announced his intention to form an association dedicated to promoting the rights of the Muslim minority in Bulgaria. Following his announcement, several hostile press articles criticised the Union’s aims, claiming variously that Mr Kungyun wanted to create an ethnic Turkish party and that he was receiving funding from secret services abroad. Continue reading →
On Thursday, after six days of hearings before the Supreme Court, Judge Yury Ivanenko handed down the operative part of a decision declaring the Jehovah’s Witnesses to be an extremist organisation, banning their activities and ordering that the JWs’ national headquarters in St Petersburg and its local properties to be forfeited to the state. According to Tass, the full text of the decision was to be furnished to the parties within five days. Russia ReligiousNews carriessummariesof the proceedings [scroll down]. Continue reading →
In Tayo & Ors (Trustees of Manchester New Moston Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses) v Charity Commission for England and Wales UKUT 134 (TCC), the trustees of Manchester New Moston Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses lost their appeal against the First Tier Tribunal’s refusal in 2015 – which we noted at the time – to review the Charity Commission’s decision to open a statutory inquiry into the charity under s 46 Charities Act 2011. Continue reading →
The issue of state registration of religious organisations has come up yet again…
In January 2007, in Sofia, seven people decided to set up a new religious association, “The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) – Sofia, Nadezhda” with Mr Genov as chairman. ISKCON, based in India, had already registered a Bulgarian branch as a religious organisation in 1991 and had re-registered it in March 2003. When Mr Genov applied to the court of first instance to register the new association, the Department for Religious Matters observed that the new association could not be distinguished from the one already registered. In March 2007, the court rejected Mr Genov’s application, finding that the name of the new association resembled that of the existing association, that the constitution was identical and that the stated aim of the new association – to change the organisation of the association that had already been registered – created a risk of schism.
In Tsartsidze & Ors v Georgia  ECHR 51, the applicant Jehovah’s Witnesses alleged that in 2000 and 2001 they had been intimidated and attacked by Orthodox religious extremists and the Georgian authorities, including the police. In five separate incidents, some had been prevented from attending a religious meeting when stopped at a police checkpoint, while others had had their religious meetings disrupted or had been stopped in the street by the police when in possession of religious tracts. Continue reading →