Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Law on Religion Entering its final phase

I’ve mentioned the new Law on Religion several times over the past couple of years.  The Contact Group (USA, Germany, Russia, Italy, France and England)  have made July 1 the deadline for the Kosovar parliament to approve the new law.  The original law, was pretty decent…not great, but decent.

Today Norways’s Forum 18 picked up the news

Amid pressure from the international community to adopt a religion law ahead of talks on Kosovo's final status, changes continue to be made to drafts of the Law Forum 18 News Service has learnt. Discussion of the Prime Minister's draft and two other drafts has been postponed until Wednesday 21 June, when they will be considered as amendments. "I am concerned that there are so many changes each time," Artur Krasniqi, a Protestant representing a coalition of Protestant Churches, told Forum 18. "We fear there will be pressure to insert new discriminatory provisions on registration." Alfons Lentze, a legal advisor to the Assembly, told Forum 18 that "This has been a very difficult issue. We want to see a religious freedom law as soon as possible in accordance with the Plan on Standards."

The problem is that the law being proposed is changing rapidly.  First there were secret meetings in Vienna, to which the protestant community was not invited.  Now the current lasw is not being publically disimenated and there is little likelyhood that the public will actually see the draft-law’s language before it’s actually signed into law.

There are additional concerns as well.  The dominant faith community is apparently pressing for more changes.  According to someone I know close to the process, those requests include:

  • Religion in public schools
  • Imams to be paid by government
  • Property to be free for mosques
  • To have strong ties between state and religion
  • The right to promote religion in public institutions
  • Special criminal trial concerning religious ministers

We’re all looking for justice and equality here.  Please be praying for that.

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