Russian parliament passes law declaring scriptures of major religions non-extremist

Cnaan Liphshiz

MOSCOW (JTA) — Russia’s federal parliament passed a law which says that Muslim, Jewish, Christian and Buddhist scripture cannot be regarded as extremist texts.

The law passed by the Duma is an amendment to the Federal Law on Countering Extremist Activity, which forms the legal basis for prohibitive legal measures against the incitement of ethnic or religious hatred, the news website Lenta.ru reported.

The amendment, passed and published last month on the portal of the Russian justice ministry, applies specifically to the Christian Bible, the Muslim Koran, the Hebrew Bible – referred to in the document as Tanakh, the Hebrew-language name for the Five Books of Moses and two additional subdivisions of the same canon, and the Gandzhur.

“Their content and quotes from them cannot be regarded as extremist materials,” the amendment reads. “Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism are an integral part of the historical heritage of the peoples of Russia,” the amendment also states. It also cites the need to have state law conform with principles of freedom of worship.

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The amendment follows an outcry by Russian Muslims against an August ruling made by a Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk city court in the Far East Sakhalin region. The court deemed a book containing quotes and commentary on verses from the Koran “extremist” and banned it from local distribution, before a higher court overturned the ruling on Nov. 5.

In May, Russian prosecutors confiscated books from a Jewish Chabad school in the city of Yekaterinburg following complaints that its students were taught to hate non-Jews by one of their teachers.

The former teacher, Semen Tykman, has denied any wrongdoing and is currently standing trial for alleged incitement.

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