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Indonesia: Constitutional Court Opens Way to Recognition of Native Faiths

(Nov. 17, 2017) On November 7, 2017, Indonesia’s Constitutional Court (Mahkamah Konstitusi Republik Indonesia) issued a decision that will allow Indonesians who follow native faiths to list their religions on official forms.  According to Justice Arief Hidayat, several articles in the Law on Population Administration are discriminatory and “contradict the 1945 Constitution and these articles […]

France: Administrative Courts Issue Differing Decisions on Legality of Publicly-Financed Nativity Scenes

(Nov. 16, 2017) On October 5 and 6, 2017, two French administrative courts reached different conclusions in separate cases concerning the legality of government-sponsored Christmas nativity scenes. On October 5, 2017, the Tribunal administratif (Administrative Court) of Lyon ruled that a decision by the President of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region to install a nativity scene on the […]

Singapore: Bans on Two Clerics and Certain Books

(Nov. 9, 2017) It was reported on October 30, 2017, that Singapore has banned two foreign Islamic religious leaders from preaching during cruises and has prohibited the circulation of four foreign books in the country. The Islamic clerics have been denied permission to enter Singapore for the purpose of joining religiously themed sea cruises scheduled […]

China: Revised Regulations on Religious Affairs

(Nov. 9, 2017) On September 7, 2017, China’s State Council released a revised version of the Religious Affairs Regulations (Regulations), which will take effect on February 1, 2018; the Standing Committee of the State Council adopted the Regulations on June 14, 2017. (Zhonghua Renmin Gonghe Guo Guowu Yuan Ling Di 686 Hao: Zongjiao Shiwu Tiaoli […]

Switzerland: Referendum on Burqa and Niqab Ban Will Go to a Vote

(Oct. 24, 2017) On October 11, 2017, the Swiss Government announced that a proposed referendum on a ban of the full body and face veil (burqa) and the face veil (niqab) had achieved the required 100,000 number of signatures to be put to a vote. (Eidgenössische Volksinitiative, “Ja zum Verhüllungsverbot” [Swiss Federal Popular Initiative, “Yes […]

Brazil: Federal Supreme Court Authorizes Religious Education in Public Schools

(Oct. 6, 2017) On September 27, 2017, the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court (Supremo Tribunal Federal, STF) dismissed, by a majority vote (6 to 5), a Direct Action of Unconstitutionality (Ação Direta de Incosntitucionalidade, ADI)  in which the Public Prosecutor’s Office (Procuradoria-Geral da República, PGR) questioned the model of religious education in the country’s public school […]

Turkey: Bill Authorizing Muftis to Perform Civil Marriages and Amending Civil Registration Rules

(Oct. 2, 2017) On July 25, 2017, the Turkish government submitted draft legislation to the Grand National Assembly (Turkey’s parliament) containing a controversial provision that would grant muftis – Sunni civil servants employed in the country’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) – the authority to perform civil marriages. (Mahmut Bozarslan, Bill Allowing Turkish Muftis to […]

Norway: State and Church Separate After 500 Years

(Feb. 3, 2017) On January 1, 2017, the Norwegian State Church (Norske statskirke) was formally and completely legally separated from the state when an amendment to the Church Act took effect. The changes made the Norwegian State Church into its own legal entity with no connection to the Norwegian state. (Lov om endringer i kirkeloven […]

Indonesia: Official Support for Fatwa Banning Christmas-Themed Clothing

(Dec. 28, 2016) On December 14, 2016, the Indonesian Ulama Council, a group of Muslim scholars from a number of Islamic organizations, issued a religious ruling, a fatwa, advising Muslims not to wear Christmas-themed clothing.  While urging respect for the rights of Christians to wear attire such as Santa hats, the document said that it […]

Germany: Court Declines Case Challenging Mandatory Participation of Female Muslim Student in Co-Ed Swim Class

(Dec. 15, 2016) On November 8, 2016, the German Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht, BVerfG) declined to accept for review a constitutional complaint alleging that mandatory participation in a co-ed swim class for a female Muslim student infringed on the applicant’s freedom of religion. In an unusual move, the Court provided reasoning for its refusal to hear […]