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Best long term investment options in india 2021 international religious freedom sampension investments

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GENECOV INVESTMENTS LTD

Here's a peek into these stocks and the key factors influencing the analyst forecasts. The forecasts were based on the company's earnings beat in its first release since the trading debut in September. The company, on Nov. Cytokinetics: At the end of Friday's trading session, Cytokinetics, Inc.

The analyst's forecasts are pinned on the success of omecamtiv mecarbil, the company's treatment for heart failures. RBC Capital analyst Shweta Khajuria's analysis of the stock's performance is based on the economic revival in the post-pandemic era. Linking the vaccine availability and distribution with the economic revival, the RBC Capital Analyst opines that shopping centers, restaurants and bars, and other retail outlets would witness an increase in footfalls.

Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved. President-elect Joe Biden wants to help Americans save for their golden years by expanding access to retirement savings plans, strengthening Social Security, and making health care more affordable. Income taxes: Before you do anything with that bonus, wait until your taxes are done for In Monday's rally, new Bitcoin play PayPal cleared early buy points. Tesla and other EV plays soared. Apple broke key support.

Investors are in the market to make a profit, and that means finding the stocks with proven growth potential. With more than ten months behind us, the stocks that are now showing a combination of strong gains and a high near- to mid-term potential are going to attract investor interest.

Bearing this in mind, we set out to find stocks flagged as exciting growth plays by Wall Street. Bandwidth, Inc. BAND We start in the communications software sector, where Bandwidth is a leading provider of VoIP systems, using its application programming interfaces API to offer customers both text and voice capabilities. The company's products include applications for voice calling, text messaging, local phone numbers via internet, and emergency phone system access.

Bandwidth has developed and built its own network for voice over internet, helping to guarantee connectivity. In addition to positive revenues and earnings, Bandwidth has also shown sound liquidity. Finally, earlier this month, Bandwidth completed its acquisition of the European cloud communications company Voxbone.

The transaction included We believe revenue growth should remain strong given our expectations for some permanent long-term changes with an increased remote work environment driving both increasing usage from existing customers and layering in the potential for stronger new customer growth.

W From cloud communications we move on to e-commerce, where Wayfair is a leader in the home goods and furniture sector. E-commerce has seen heavy gains during the COVID pandemic, as customers moved larger portions of their shopping online. Earnings have also reflected strong sales during the pandemic period. These fiscal gains stand on the shoulders of solid sales performance. Wayfair reported In addition to an Overweight i.

In short, the company builds the software platforms that allows customers to evaluate experimental compounds. Schrodinger describes its software as a physics-based platform, integrating solutions for collaboration, data analytics, and predictive modeling in chemistry. The platform is used extensively in the pharmaceutical industry, but also in aerospace, energy, and semiconductors.

Schrodinger went public in February of this year, just as the corona crisis was ramping up, and quickly saw strong share gains. The company sold well over We expect software growth to continue into , as we believe the pandemic trend of remote work is sticky, with increasing platform validation from collaborations. Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only.

It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment. Is the stock market open on Thanksgiving and Black Friday? On Black Friday, Nov. These are the communications stocks with the best value, fastest growth, and most momentum for December It has been a bumpy ride, The stock nearly doubled in the first four days of the past week, after an announcement from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality that two models that Kandi plans to launch in the U.

Does buying gold stocks, or betting on the gold price, make sense, despite vaccine progress and election results? Here are some things to consider. Are you an environmentally friendly and socially responsible investor? If so, there's an entire set of stocks to watch that specifically reflects that mindset. They're called "ESG stocks" and they're beginning to grow in popularity. These are shares of companies that advance environmental, social, and governance initiatives within their respective industries and organizations contributing to a better world.

It doesn't matter if we're talking about penny stocks or blue-chip stocks, the ESG wave is building. Social responsibility takes into consideration things like employee culture--pay equality, training, benefits, ethical behavior, and astute customer service are all part of it. When we talk about governance, these are companies focused on corporate governance, such as how executives are compensated, are they treated fairly, transparency, voting rights, and diversity are all things you could consider as part of these companies.

These characteristics have been growing in popularity among the newest generation of investors, many of whom have entered the market via fast-growing brokers like Robinhood. And thanks to pandemic lockdowns, curiosity has driven a wave of interest in stocks. It has also pushed interest in things like penny stocks, for instance. If you look at some of the penny stock brokerage growth statistics for , you'll see far and away, Robinhood has become a favorite.

Among these Robinhood traders, many of the Top list on the platform are building exposure to ESG initiatives. For instance, just this month, we saw a previous penny stock, Nio Inc. But it is. Nio isn't the only ESG stock that has jumped and it won't be the last either. But for those who've seen how quickly the latest trend in EV penny stocks has accelerated, it seems fitting to look at some small-cap stocks in this ESG niche.

Gevo Inc. The company develops renewable chemicals and biofuels. Gevo's entire model targets the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions with sustainable alternatives. The company uses low-carbon renewable resource-based carbohydrates as raw materials. While the company has made many strides to take advantage of this trend. The deal was set to support Trafigura's plan to build a market for low-carbon fuels further extending the positive environmental impact of Gevo's assets.

While shares are still down for the year, since the beginning of the third quarter, GEVO stock has nearly doubled. Fuel Tech Inc. The company provides solutions for controlling emissions, treating water in industrial applications, and optimizes combustion systems. What should investors be watching with Fuel Tech right now? While it's been a topsy-turvy year for most companies, Fuel Tech is looking ahead.

The company recently reported its third quarter results and gave a business update discussing the outlook heading into While the company far exceeded estimates for both EPS and sales, it is important to pay attention to what management laid out for the coming months especially when we're talking about ESG stocks.

Ocean Power TechnologiesHarnessing energy from ocean waves. The company has enjoyed one of its best years in the market in The company's subsea solutions have gained the most interest. Ocean Power's product, its PowerBuoy solutions platform, provides clean and reliable electric power. Furthermore, its Subsea Battery provides constant power for projects requiring electric power offshore. Furthermore, the DeepStar project award will see the company study the deployment and operational requirements of utilizing OPT's PB3 PowerBuoy to provide remotely controllable zero-carbon power for deepwater subsea oil production applications.

It's also one of the top-performing fuel cell stocks. The constitution requires the president and two vice presidents to be Muslim. Other senior officials ministers, members of parliament, judges must swear allegiance and obedience to the principles of Islam as part of their oath of office. No occasion to determine if this applies to non-Muslims has arisen since the constitution was adopted in Four seats in the parliament are also reserved for Ismaili Muslims.

MOHRA is responsible for managing Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages, revenue collection for religious activities, acquisition of property for religious purposes, issuance of fatwas, educational testing of imams, sermon preparation and distribution for government-supported mosques, and raising public awareness of religious issues. MOHRA has an office dedicated to assisting the faith practices of religious minorities, specifically Sikhs and Hindus.

Representatives from the predominantly Shia Hazara community said promised government security and development initiatives in Shia-predominant areas were insufficient, symbolic measures and the government had not implemented them. Media reported members of the Shia community continued to state the government did not provide them with adequate protection from attacks by nonstate actors. The Ministry of Interior again promised to increase security around Shia mosques and authorized the arming of Shia civilians, under police authority, to provide extra security for Ashura.

On August 27, Acting Minister of Interior Massoud Andarabi confirmed preparations were in place that involved integrating all the security forces. According to the Shia community, the government distributed arms directly to the guards of Shia mosques in areas considered more targeted for attacks. Although National Directorate of Security NDS forces told the press these arrests thwarted attacks during Ashura, they provided no evidence these leaders were plotting to target the Shia community, and ISIS-K did not claim it had planned attacks.

For the second year in a row, there were no reports of violence during Ashura processions. As in the previous five years, there were no reports of government prosecutions for blasphemy or apostasy; however, individuals converting from Islam reported they continued to risk annulment of their marriages, rejection by their families and communities, loss of employment, and possibly the death penalty.

The government again allowed both Sunnis and Shia to go on pilgrimages. The government set aside a number of Hajj slots for residents of each province, with the higher-population provinces receiving more slots, and with no sect-based discrimination in the distribution of slots. The government charged fees for Hajj participants to cover transportation, food, accommodation, and other expenses.

MOHRA officials said the ministry had no official statistics because it lacked the financial resources to generate a comprehensive registry of mullahs and mosques in the country. MOHRA again estimated 66, of the estimated , mosques in the country were registered. MOHRA reported it continued to allocate a portion of its budget for the construction of new mosques, although local groups remained the source of most of the funds for the new mosques. Unless the local groups requested financial or other assistance from the ministry, they were not required to inform the ministry about new construction.

Hindu and Sikh groups again reported they remained free to build places of worship and to train other Hindus and Sikhs to become clergy, but per the law against conversion of Muslims, the government continued not to allow them to proselytize. Hindu and Sikh community members said they continued to avoid pursuing land disputes through the courts due to fear of retaliation, especially if powerful local leaders occupied their property. Although the government provided land to use as cremation sites, Sikh leaders stated the distance from any major urban area and the lack of security in the region continued to make the land unusable.

Hindus and Sikhs reported continued interference in their efforts to cremate the remains of their dead by individuals who lived near the cremation sites. In response, the government continued to provide police support to protect the Sikh and Hindu communities while they performed their cremation rituals. The government promised to construct modern crematories for the Sikh and Hindu populations.

Despite these challenges, community leaders acknowledged efforts by MOHRA to provide free water, electricity, and repair services for a few Sikh and Hindu temples, as well as facilitate visas for religious trips to India. According to MOHRA, the ministry did not have access to most of the country, especially in districts, villages, and rural areas. MOHRA officials said there were up to hundreds or thousands of unregistered mosques and madrassahs located in Taliban-controlled areas.

They said in rural areas and most villages, mosques were used as madrassahs, and because most mosques were not registered, most madrassahs were not either. According to MOHRA, there was no system or mechanism for opening a new madrassah, particularly at the district level and in villages. The government registered additional madrassahs during the year but did not report how many. Ministry officials said the government continued its efforts to raise awareness of the benefits of registering madrassahs, including recognition of graduation certificates and financial and material assistance, such as furniture or stationery.

Government officials said they were concerned about their inability to supervise unregistered madrassas that could teach violent extremist curricula intolerant of religious minorities and become recruitment centers for antigovernment groups. Mosques continued to handle primary-level religious studies. Eighty MOE-registered public madrassahs offered two-year degree programs at the secondary level. An estimated 1, public madrassahs were registered with the MOE, each receiving financial support from the government.

There were no estimates of unregistered madrassas available. Ulema Council members continued to receive financial support from the state, although it officially remained independent from the government. The council also provided advice to some provincial governments; however, according to scholars and NGOs, most legal decision making in villages and rural areas continued to be based on local interpretations of Islamic law and tradition.

Minority religious groups reported the courts continued not to apply the protections provided to those groups by law, and the courts denied non-Muslims equal access to the courts and other legal redress, even when the non-Muslims were legally entitled to those same rights. Representatives from non-Muslim religious minorities, including Sikhs and Hindus, reported a consistent pattern of discrimination at all levels of the justice system. As Taliban representatives engaged in peace process discussions, some Sikhs and Hindus expressed concern that in a postconflict environment, they might be required to wear yellow forehead dots, badges, or armbands, as the Taliban had mandated during its rule.

Non-Muslims said they continued to risk being tried according to Hanafi jurisprudence. Sikhs and Hindus again reported their community members avoided taking civil cases to court because they believed they were unprotected by dispute resolution mechanisms, such as the Special Land and Property Court. Instead, their members continued to settle disputes within their communities. Leaders of both Hindu and Sikh communities continued to state they faced discrimination in the judicial system, including long delays in resolving cases, particularly regarding the continued appropriation of Sikh properties.

Sunni members of the Ulema Council continued to state, however, that Shia remained overrepresented in government based on Sunni estimates of the percentage of Shia in the population. A small number of Sikhs and Hindus continued to serve in government positions, including one at the municipal level, one at the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries, one as a presidentially appointed member of the upper house of parliament, one as an elected member in the lower house, one as a presidential advisor, and one as a member of the Ministry of Transportation.

Although four Ismaili Muslims remained members of parliament, Ismaili community leaders continued to report concerns about what they called the exclusion of Ismailis from other positions of political authority. The government continued to support the efforts of judicial, constitutional, and human rights commissions composed of members of different Islamic religious groups Sunni and Shia to promote Muslim intrafaith reconciliation.

Ministry officials and NGOs promoting religious tolerance, however, said it was difficult to continue their programs due to funding and capacity constraints. The ONSC continued its work on addressing religiously motivated violent extremism, which included policies to foster religious tolerance.

The ONSC continued to sponsor provincial-level conferences on religiously motivated violent extremism to collect data for use in its effort to develop a strategy to counter violent extremism. Since religion and ethnicity are often closely linked, it was often difficult to categorize many incidents as being solely based on religious identity. Sikhs, Hindus, Christians, and other non-Muslim minorities reported continued harassment from Muslims, although Hindus and Sikhs stated they continued to be able to publicly practice their religions.

Members of the Hindu community continued to report they faced fewer cases of harassment, including verbal abuse, than Sikhs, which they ascribed to their lack of a distinctive male headdress. Both groups attributed fewer cases of harassment of members of their communities to the continued emigration of Sikh and Hindu residents. According to some sources, converts to Christianity and individuals studying Christianity reported receiving threats, including death threats, from family members opposed to their interest in Christianity.

Reportedly, the number of Christian missionaries in the country was estimated at 60, with 30 to 40 based in the capital. According to Christians and Ahmadi Muslims, they continued to worship privately to avoid societal discrimination and persecution. Women of several different faiths, including Islam, continued to report harassment from local Muslim religious leaders over their attire. As a result, some women said they continued to wear burqas or other modest dress in public in rural areas and in some districts of urban areas, including in Kabul, in contrast to other more secure, government-controlled areas, where women said they felt comfortable without what they considered conservative clothing.

Almost all women reported wearing some form of head covering. Some women said they did so by personal choice, but many said they did so due to societal pressure and a desire to avoid harassment and increase their security in public. Ahmadi Muslims continued to report verbal abuse on the street and harassment when neighbors or coworkers learned of their faith.

They said they did not proselytize due to fear of persecution. Although Ahmadis had maintained an unmarked place of worship in past years, during the year the Ahmadis said they decided not to use it after neighbors informed police of its location. Ahmadis continued to report the need to increasingly conceal their identity to avoid unwanted attention in public and their intent to depart the country permanently if there were a peace deal with the Taliban. Christian representatives again reported public opinion remained hostile toward converts to Christianity and to the idea of Christian proselytization.

They said Christians continued to worship alone or in small congregations, sometimes 10 or fewer persons, in private homes due to fear of societal discrimination and persecution. The dates, times, and locations of these services were frequently changed to avoid detection. There continued to be no public Christian churches. According to minority religious leaders, the decreasing numbers of Sikhs, Hindus, and other religious minorities had only a few places of worship.

According to the Sikh and Hindu Council, which advocates with the government on behalf of the Sikh and Hindu communities, there were 12 gurdwaras Sikh temples and four mand ir s Hindu temples remaining in the country, compared with a combined total of 64 in previous years. Buddhist foreigners remained free to worship in Hindu temples.

Community leaders said they perceived the large number of butchers selling beef near a Sikh temple in Kabul as a deliberate insult because neighbors were aware that Sikhs and Hindus do not eat beef for religious reasons. Sikh and Hindu leaders also reported neighboring residents tended to place household trash in their temples of worship. Although they filed official complaints to police, neither local authorities nor local imams took action to remedy the situation. The Sikh and Hindu Council reported one school in Nangarhar and one school in Kabul remained operational.

Sikh and Hindu representatives, however, again said these schools were underequipped to teach students. Sikh leaders continued to state the main cause of Hindu and Sikh emigration was lack of employment opportunities; they said one factor impeding their access to employment was illiteracy resulting from lack of access to education.

Sikh leaders said many families in Kabul lived at community temples g u rdwaras and m and i rs because they could not afford permanent housing. Both communities stated emigration would continue to increase as economic conditions worsened and security concerns increased.

Community leaders estimated approximately another Sikhs and Hindus fled the country during the year to either India or Western countries, in addition to who fled in Media published reports of both Shia and Sunni leaders condemning particular secular events as contrary to Islam; however, there were no prominent reports of joint condemnations. According to media, the Provincial Shia Ulema Council in Bamyan condemned the Bamyan Music Festival, and Shia religious leaders tried without success to stop it because the provincial governor and civil society supported the event.

The Ulema also issued several statements against television programs, such as Afghan Music Star and Indian and Turkish series. In Herat, religious leaders threatened Tolo TV for recording the Afghan Music Star program in Herat, which caused the show to lower its public profile during filming. The lone Jew said it was becoming more difficult for him to perform all his religious rituals. He said in the past, Jews from international military forces and foreign embassies attended the synagogue but could no longer do so due to security concerns and threats.

Worship facilities for noncitizens of various faiths continued to be located at coalition military facilities and at embassies in Kabul, but security restrictions limited access. Media continued to report efforts by local Muslim religious leaders to limit social activities they considered inconsistent with Islamic doctrine, such as education for females or female participation in sports.

NGOs reported Muslim residents remained suspicious of development assistance projects, which they often viewed as surreptitious efforts to advance Christianity or engage in proselytization. Senior embassy officials met with government officials to emphasize the need to accept and protect religious minorities, including informing the government of the conclusions of the second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom and the U. The Ambassador met with leaders of the Sikh and Hindu communities to understand their relationship with the government and their ability to practice their faith.

Secretary of State hosted two Afghans at the second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom in Washington on July , including one Shia victim of religious persecution whose brother, fiance, and future brother-in-law were killed in an ISIS-K suicide bombing targeting a Shia shrine. The embassy continued to coordinate with the ONSC, as well as other governmental and nongovernmental stakeholders, to assist the ONSC in creating a national strategy to combat violent extremism and enhancing its relevance to promoting respect for religious diversity.

Embassy officials held regular meetings with government officials from MOHRA; leaders of religious minorities, including Shias, Sikhs, Hindus, and Ahmadis; imams; scholars; and NGOs to discuss ways to enhance religious tolerance and interreligious dialogue.

Embassy officials as well as the visiting Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs hosted iftars with government, civil society, and religious leaders during Ramadan to promote religious dialogue and tolerance. On January 16, a senior embassy official hosted a religious freedom roundtable discussion at the embassy to commemorate U. During the roundtable, the government representatives recognized the right of certain communities, including Sikhs and Hindus, to practice their faith short of proselytizing.

The embassy reaffirmed U. The embassy hosted roundtables with researchers and religious scholars, including MOHRA representatives, to discuss the sources and means to counter violent extremism related to religion and promote tolerance. On March 14, the embassy conducted a virtual discussion via the Lincoln Learning Centers with sharia law faculty at seven universities across the country on interpretation of Islam promoting tolerance in the negotiation and its importance for implementing a lasting peace agreement.

The embassy also facilitated and funded the coordination of research efforts on violent extremism related to religion, which included policies to foster intrafaith tolerance. The constitution guarantees freedom of conscience and religion. It stipulates there is no official religion and that the state is neutral in matters of belief, recognizes the equality and independence of religious groups, and prohibits discrimination based on religion.

The government legalized buildings owned by religious groups during the year, compared with in , and the status of 11 additional properties was under review. The law then required the ATP to send the remaining pending cases to the court system.

The Albanian Islamic Community AIC and the Bektashi community raised concerns about having to start over with their claims in the judicial system. VUSH leaders continued to report difficulties in acquiring land to construct places of worship and problems concerning municipal government fees. The Bektashi and the AIC reported problems defending title to certain properties.

The State Committee on Religion and the AIC reported the government did not recognize diplomas received from foreign institutions in theology and religious studies. The Council of Ministers still had not finished adopting regulations to support implementation of a law on the rights and freedoms of national minorities, including religious freedom.

During antigovernment protests, religious leaders issued statements condemning violence and calling for calm and dialogue. The Interreligious Council held several meetings domestically and internationally. The council signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Albanian Center for the Coordination against Violent Extremism in May to enhance cooperation on preventing violent extremism and monitoring school texts to highlight misleading statements about religion.

On March 2, the AIC elected its new chairman, Bujar Spahiu, to a five-year term, a contest that attracted significant commentary from the media regarding the candidates, allegations of foreign influence, and concerns about the process. Spahiu, the former deputy chair, joined the AIC in Embassy officers also urged the government to recognize diplomas granted by foreign universities.

The embassy continued its work with religious communities to discourage the appeal of violent extremism related to religion among youth. In August a visiting Department of State official met with faith community leaders, the Commissioner of the State Committee on Religion, and officials from the Ministry of Education to explore the relationship between religious harmony and efforts to counter violent extremism and radicalization.

According to the most recent census, conducted in , Sunni Muslims constitute nearly 57 percent of the population, Roman Catholics 10 percent, members of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Albania nearly 7 percent, and members of the Bektashi Order a form of Shia Sufism 2 percent. Nearly 20 percent of respondents declined to answer the optional census question about religious affiliation. According to the constitution, relations between the state and religious groups are regulated by agreements between these groups and the Council of Ministers and ratified by the parliament.

The constitution prohibits religious discrimination and guarantees freedom of conscience, religion, and free expression. It affirms the freedom of all individuals to choose or change religion or beliefs and to express them individually, collectively, in public, or in private. The constitution states individuals may not be compelled to participate in or be excluded from participating in a religious community or its practices, nor may they be compelled to make their beliefs or faith public or be prohibited from doing so.

It prohibits political parties and other organizations whose programs incite or support religious hatred. By law, the Office of the Commissioner for Protection from Discrimination receives and processes discrimination complaints, including those concerning religious practice.

The law specifies the State Committee on Religion, under the jurisdiction of the Office of the Prime Minister, regulates relations between the government and religious groups, protects freedom of religion, and promotes interfaith cooperation and understanding. The law also directs the committee to maintain records and statistics on foreign religious groups that solicit assistance and to support foreign employees of religious groups in obtaining residence permits.

These bilateral agreements codify arrangements pertaining to official recognition, property restitution, tax exemptions on income, donations and religious property, and exemption from submitting accounting records for religious activities. A legal provision enacted in directs the government to provide financial support to the four religious communities with which it had agreements at the time. This provision of the law does not include the VUSH, whose agreement with the government dates from There is no provision of the law to provide VUSH with financial support from the government.

The law that established the ATP imposed a three-year deadline for the agency to address claims by all claimants, including religious groups, for properties confiscated during the communist era. Religious communities must take their cases to court for judicial review, as must all other claimants. The law allows religious communities to run educational institutions as well as build and manage religious cemeteries on land the communities own. Public schools are secular, and the law prohibits instruction in the tenets of a specific religion, but not the teaching of the history of religion or comparative religions as part of a humanities curriculum.

Private schools may offer religious instruction. Religious communities manage educational institutions, including universities, primary and secondary schools, preschools, kindergartens, vocational schools, and orphanages. By law, the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport must license these institutions, and nonreligious curricula must comply with national education standards. Catholic, Muslim, Orthodox, and VUSH communities operate numerous state-licensed kindergartens, schools, and universities.

Most of these do not have mandatory religion classes but offer them as an elective. The AIC runs six madrassahs that teach religion in addition to the state-sponsored curriculum. The government continued the process of legalizing unofficial mosques, Catholic and Orthodox churches, and tekkes Bektashi centers of worship built after the s.

The AIC reported it obtained legalization papers for legalized mosques out of applications remaining. The ATP reported that it rejected claims for title to land and compensation through February. The ATP ceded jurisdiction on the remaining cases to the court system, as required by law.

Religious communities brought court actions on 71 of those cases. The AIC, Bektashi, and the Orthodox Church expressed concerns about court proceedings, which required them to begin their claims again in a new forum. Bektashi leaders reported construction continued on two places of worship in Gjirokaster, one in Permet, and one in Elbasan, and the government legalized four tekkes and other Bektashi facilities in Elbasan.

The Bektashi community reported it continued to have problems with local registration offices in Gjirokaster regarding one property, stating the registration process was slow, bureaucratic, and vulnerable to corruption. The Ministry of Finance, according to the Bektashi community, did not reimburse it for the value-added tax paid for the construction of a multipurpose center at the World Bektashi Headquarters in Tirana, even though they said the law required the reimbursement.

The Bektashi community stated the State Advocate unfairly challenged title to properties in Berdanesh and Ksamil. The VUSH reported it had asked the government in March for land to build a main church similar to the main cathedrals and mosques of other faith communities but had not received an answer.

The VUSH reported it continued to have problems registering the property of one of its churches with the local registration office in Korca. Leaders of the five main religious groups expressed concern with a pilot project curriculum for teaching religion as part of the humanities curriculum for sixth and 10th grade students, which started in but stalled.

They stated they were concerned because they did not participate in the drafting and were never informed about the results of the piloting stage or the postpilot plans for the project. The State Committee on Religion and the AIC expressed concern that the government continued not to recognize diplomas received from foreign institutions in theology and religious studies. VUSH leaders stated the central government continued to exempt the organization from property taxes on its churches, but local authorities imposed fees they said were not taxes.

The Sunni Muslim community continued to receive approximately 29 percent of the funding, while the remaining three each continued to receive The communities continued to use the funds to cover part of the salaries for administrative and educational staff. The Bektashi community, which had fewer staff members than the others, continued to use part of these funds for new places of worship.

The VUSH continued to state that, although the organization still was unable to obtain a formal written agreement with the government on receiving financial support, in the State Committee on Religion provided a written commitment to advocate for extending financial support to evangelical Christian churches.

Although the committee submitted a request for financial support to the government in , the VUSH reported it had not received any funds. The VUSH, however, also expressed concern that the government and some media outlets showed indifference towards it in comparison with other faith communities, stating the government sent officials to attend iftars during election years but did not attend non-Islamic holy day ceremonies.

The Council of Ministers again did not finish adopting regulations to implement a law providing additional protection for minority rights, including freedom of religion. A State Committee on Religion census of religious organizations conducted during the year counted groups, including foundations, religiously related nongovernmental organizations NGOs , and 40 centers.

In June the Office of the President and the Embassy of the Netherlands held an international conference on interfaith dialogue in Tirana that addressed interreligious harmony as a factor in social stability and policies for managing religious diversity. On November 18 and 19, the Office of the President held a regional conference on advancing religious freedom, following through on a commitment to hold a follow-on, regional event after the July Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom.

During antigovernment protests in the spring and summer, religious leaders from all five groups issued statements jointly and separately condemning violence and calling for calm and dialogue. On October 11, the Interreligious Council, established as a forum for leaders of the Catholic, Sunni Muslim, Orthodox, VUSH, and Bektashi communities to discuss shared concerns, held its first meeting of the year, during which it established a section of the council focused on women and another on youth.

He declared in his acceptance address his priority would be to preserve and strengthen interfaith harmony in the country. The run-up to the election spurred speculation in the media that third countries sought to sway the outcome. Some members of the political opposition stated the government sought to manipulate the election. International representatives, including from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, observed the election. At the November regional conference on advancing religious freedom, the U.

Embassy officials promoted religious tolerance in meetings with the Sunni Muslim, Bektashi, Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant communities, and in visits to religious sites. The embassy continued its youth education programs and work with religious communities to decrease the potential appeal of violent religious extremism. As part of these programs, students at Islamic, Catholic, and Orthodox religious schools and students from public schools planned and carried out projects highlighting religious diversity and tolerance, focusing on youth activism and common civic values.

The success of the program led to its expansion into six additional municipalities by the end of the year. The constitution provides for freedom of conscience and worship. The constitution declares Islam to be the state religion and prohibits state institutions from behaving in a manner incompatible with Islam.

The law grants all individuals the right to practice their religion if they respect public order and regulations. Offending or insulting any religion is a criminal offense. Proselytizing Muslims by non-Muslims is a crime. During the year, the government closed nine Christian churches. The then-minister of interior, after speaking of churches he ordered closed in disparaging terms, stated that the churches were unlicensed to hold Christian services.

On March 17, the Ministry of Religious Affairs MRA informed clerics they would no longer be required to submit texts of their sermons to authorities for approval; however, MRA officials said the government sometimes monitored sermons delivered in mosques for inappropriate content, such as advocating violent extremism. The government continued to regulate the importation of all books, including religious materials.

Senior government officials continued to oppose calls by extremist groups for violence in the name of Islam. Some Christian leaders and congregants spoke of family members abusing Muslims who converted to or expressed an interest in Christianity. Individuals engaged in religious practice other than Sunni Islam reported they had experienced threats and intolerance, including in the media. The Ambassador and other embassy officers frequently encouraged senior government officials in the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Religious Affairs, Justice, and Interior to promote religious tolerance and discussed the difficulties Ahmadis, Christians, and other religious minority groups faced in registering as associations, importing religious materials, and obtaining visas.

Embassy officers in meetings and programs with religious leaders from both Sunni Muslim and minority religious groups, as well as with other members of the public, focused on pluralism and religious moderation. Religious groups together constituting less than 1 percent of the population include Christians, Jews, Ahmadi Muslims, Shia Muslims, and a community of Ibadi Muslims residing principally in the province of Ghardaia. Some religious leaders estimate there are fewer than Jews.

According to government officials and religious leaders, foreign residents make up most of the Christian population. Among the Christian population, the proportion of students and immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa without legal status has also increased in recent years. Christian leaders say citizens who are Christians predominantly belong to Protestant groups. The constitution declares Islam to be the state religion and prohibits state institutions from engaging in behavior incompatible with Islamic values.

The constitution provides for freedom of worship in accordance with the law and states freedom of conscience and freedom of opinion are inviolable. The law does not prohibit conversion from Islam, but proselytizing Muslims by non-Muslims is a criminal offense.

The law also criminalizes insults directed at any other religion, with the same penalties. The law grants all individuals the right to practice their religion as long as they respect public order and regulations. The constitution establishes a High Islamic Council and states the council shall encourage and promote ijtihad the use of independent reasoning as a source of Islamic law for issues not precisely addressed in the Quran and express opinions on religious questions presented for its review.

The president appoints the members of the council and oversees its work. The constitution requires the council to submit regular reports to the president on its activities. The council may issue fatwas at the request of the president. The law requires any group, religious or otherwise, to register with the government as an association prior to conducting any activities.

Under the Associations Law passed in , all organizations previously registered were required to reregister with the government. The Ministry of Interior MOI grants association status to religious groups; only registered associations are officially recognized. The law requires the ministry to provide a receipt for the application once it has received all the required documentation and to respond within 60 days of submission of the completed application.

The law states applicants are de facto approved if the ministry does not decide within the day limit. The law grants the government full discretion in making registration decisions but provides applicants an opportunity to appeal a denial to an administrative tribunal. An association registered at the wilaya provincial level is confined to that specific wilaya province.

The MRA has the right to review registration applications of religious associations, but the MOI makes the final decision. The National Committee for Non-Muslim Worship, a government entity, is responsible by law for facilitating the registration process for all non-Muslim groups. The constitution requires a presidential candidate to be Muslim. Individuals of other faiths than Islam may hold other public offices and work within the government.

The law prohibits religious associations from receiving funding from political parties or foreign entities. The constitution prohibits the establishment of political parties based on religion. Membership in the Islamic Salvation Front, a political party banned since , remains illegal. The law specifies the manner and conditions under which religious services, Muslim or otherwise, must take place. The law states religious demonstrations are subject to regulation and the government may shut down any religious service taking place in private homes or in outdoor settings without official approval.

With the exception of daily prayers, which are permissible anywhere, Islamic services may take place only in state-sanctioned mosques. Friday prayers are further limited to certain specified mosques. Non-Islamic religious services must take place only in buildings registered with the state for the exclusive purpose of religious practice, be run by a registered religious association, open to the public, and marked as such on the exterior.

A request for permission to observe special non-Islamic religious events must be submitted to the relevant wali governor at least five days before the event, and the event must occur in buildings accessible to the public. Requests must include information on three principal organizers of the event, its purpose, the number of attendees anticipated, a schedule of events, and its planned location.

Individuals who fail to disperse at the behest of police are subject to arrest and a prison term of two to 12 months under the penal code. By law, the MRA provides financial support to mosques and pays the salaries of imams and other religious personnel, as well as for health care and retirement benefits. The law also provides for the payment of salaries and benefits to non-Muslim religious leaders who are citizens.

The Ministries of Religious Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Interior, and Commerce must approve the importation of all religious texts and items, except those intended for personal use. This decree requires all applications to include a full copy of the text and other detailed information about the applicant and text.

The ministry has three to six months to review the text, with the absence of a response after that time constituting a rejection of the importation application. A nonresponse after this period is considered a rejection.

Religious texts distributed without authorization may be seized and destroyed. The law states the government must approve any modification of structures intended for non-Islamic collective worship. The family code prohibits Muslim women from marrying non-Muslim men unless the man converts to Islam. The code does not prohibit Muslim men from marrying non-Muslim women. In the event of a divorce, a court determines the custody of any children. The Ministries of National Education and Religious Affairs require, regulate, and fund the study of Islam in public schools.

Religious education focuses on Islamic studies but includes information on Christianity and Judaism and is mandatory at the primary and secondary school levels. The Ministry of National Education requires private schools to adhere to curricula in line with national standards, particularly regarding the teaching of Islam, or risk closure. The CNDH monitors and evaluates human rights issues, including matters related to religious freedom.

The law authorizes the CNDH to conduct investigations of alleged abuses, issue opinions and recommendations, conduct awareness campaigns, and work with other government authorities to address human rights issues. The CNDH may address religious concerns to appropriate government offices on behalf of individuals or groups it believes are not being treated fairly. The CNDH does not have the authority to enforce its decisions but may refer matters to the relevant administrative or criminal court.

The government does not register religious affiliations of the citizenry and does not print religious affiliations on documents such as national identification cards. By law, individuals who have converted from Islam to another religion are ineligible to receive an inheritance via succession.

In late May his health deteriorated, and prison authorities transferred him to a hospital in Blida on May Civil society organizations and human rights activists called for updates regarding the investigation and for charges against Ghardaia authorities to no avail. The government continued to enforce the ban on proselytizing by non-Muslim groups.

According to media reports, authorities continued to arrest, jail, and fine several Christians on charges of proselytizing by non-Muslims, which prompted churches to restrict some activities unrelated to proselytizing, such as the distribution of religious literature and holding of events in local community centers that Muslims might attend. According to Morning Star News, the man invited a Christian couple to his home to pray. Ahmadi leaders stated there were cases against community members pending with the Supreme Court as of the end of the year.

Charges included operating an unregistered religious association, collecting funds without authorization, and holding prayers in unauthorized locations. Community representatives said in some cases police confiscated passports and educational diplomas and in others employers placed Ahmadi Muslims under investigation on administrative leave. Ahmadi representatives stated they believed these individuals would appear before the Supreme Court in the next three to six years and that in the meantime, they would be prevented from employment.

According to the MOI, religious associations were de facto registered if the ministry did not reject their applications within 60 days of submission and that if the ministry considered the application incomplete, it did not issue a receipt for the application. NGOs and Ahmadiyya Muslim religious leaders said the MOI routinely failed to provide them with a receipt acknowledging they had submitted a completed registration application.

Ahmadis reported they continued to receive no government response to their outstanding request to meet with Minister of Religious Affairs Youcef Belmehdi or another senior ministry official to discuss their registration concerns.

The Ahmadi community continued to report administrative difficulties and harassment since the community is not a registered association and is unable to meet and collect donations. Members of the community said it tried to register with the MRA and Ministry of Interior MOI as a Muslim group in and , but the government rejected its applications because it regards Ahmadis as non-Muslims. According to a pastor associated with the EPA, the Church resubmitted its application in , but was never reregistered despite several follow-ups with the government.

Some religious groups stated they functioned as registered 60 days after having submitted their application, even though they had not received an MOI confirmation. Such groups stated, however, that service providers, such as utilities and banks, refused to provide services without proof of registration.

As a result, these groups faced the same administrative obstacles as unregistered associations. They also had limited standing to pursue legal complaints and could not engage in charitable activities, which required bank accounts. Most Christian leaders stated they had no contact with the National Committee for Non-Muslim Worship, despite its legal mandate to work with them on registration, since its establishment in Other MRA officials, however, met with Christian leaders to hear their views periodically during the year, including receiving complaints about the registration process.

Christian leaders continued to say some Protestant groups avoided applying for recognition and instead operated discreetly because they lacked confidence in the registration process. According to media reports and EPA statements, during the year the government closed nine churches, compared to eight church closures between November and December The government also closed one Christian bookstore. All were affiliated with the EPA. The government said the churches it closed were operating without government authorization, illegally printing evangelical publications, and failing to meet building safety codes.

The church posted a video on Facebook showing police interrupting the service, pulling congregants from their chairs and forcing them out of the building. According to one media report, while closing the church, police hit Pastor Salah Chalah, who is also the head of the EPA, striking him with a baton.

According to NGOs, on October 17, police arrested 17 Christians in front of the Tizi Ouzou governorate, where they had staged a peaceful sit-in to protest the church closure. Other Christian groups, particularly in the Kabylie region, reportedly held worship services more discreetly. According to the MRA, the government continued to allow government employees to wear religious clothing including the hijab, crosses, and the niqab.

Authorities continued to instruct some female government employees, such as security force members, not to wear head and face coverings that they said could complicate the performance of their official duties. On March 17, then-minister of religious affairs Mohamed Aissa informed clerics that they would no longer be required to submit texts of their sermons to authorities for approval.

MRA officials said the government did not regularly prescreen and approve sermons before imams delivered them during Friday prayers. The MRA said it did not punish imams who did not discuss the suggested sermon topics. MRA officials said the government continued to monitor the sermons delivered in mosques. The government also monitored activities in mosques for possible security-related offenses, such as recruitment by extremist groups, and prohibited the use of mosques as public meeting places outside of regular prayer hours.

The previous minister had halted their work in June , stating extremist groups had infiltrated the committees. According to Catholic representatives, the government granted permits for the importation of Catholic religious texts during the year, including Catholic literature and Bibles. The EPA received import authorization for an order of Bibles and religious literature placed in Both included versions in French, Arabic, English, and Tamazight.

According to the EPA, it had not received details on the remaining books ordered. Non-Islamic religious texts, music, and video media continued to be available on the informal market, and stores and vendors in the capital sold Bibles in several languages, including Arabic, French, and Tamazight. On January 13, the government approved the first versions of the Quran in the Berber language, Tamazight, in the Arabic script. The government continued to enforce its prohibition on dissemination of any literature portraying violence as a legitimate precept of Islam.

Christian leaders said courts were sometimes biased against non-Muslims in family law cases, such as divorce or custody proceedings. According to religious community leaders, some local administrations did not always verify religions before conducting marriage ceremonies. As such, some couples were able to marry despite the family code prohibition against Muslim women marrying non-Muslim men. Sources stated Christian leaders were able to visit Christians in prison, regardless of the nature of their offense.

Both private and state-run media continued to produce reports throughout the year examining what they said were foreign ties and dangers of religious groups, such as Shia Muslims, Ahmadi Muslims, and Salafists. Church groups continued to say the government did not respond in a timely fashion to their requests for visas for foreign religious workers and visiting scholars and speakers, resulting in de facto visa refusals.

One Christian leader continued to say the government did not grant or refused 50 percent of visas requested for Catholic Church workers. As of the end of the year, three members of the Catholic Church had been waiting one year for visas.

Catholic and Protestant groups continued to identify the delays as significantly hindering religious practice. Higher-level intervention with officials responsible for visa issuance by senior MRA and Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials at the request of religious groups sometimes resulted in the issuance of long-term visas, according to those groups. A representative from the Catholic Church reported that visa delays and refusals caused the Church to cancel its annual Regional Episcopal Conference of North Africa meeting, which it scheduled for September 20 in Algiers.

The government, along with local private contributors, continued to fund mosque construction. The government and public and private companies also funded the preservation of some Catholic churches, particularly those of historical importance. The Province of Oran, for example, continued to work in partnership with local donors on an extensive renovation of Notre Dame de Santa Cruz as part of its cultural patrimony.

Government-owned radio stations continued to broadcast Christmas and Easter services in French, although many Christians said they would prefer services be broadcast in Arabic or Tamazight. After Friday prayers, religious programs countering extremism were broadcast.

Senior government officials continued to publicly condemn acts of violence committed in the name of Islam and urged all members of society to reject extremist behavior. Some Christian converts said they and others in their communities continued to keep a low profile due to concern for their personal safety and the potential for legal, familial, career, and social problems. Other converts practiced their new religion openly, according to members of the Christian community.

Several Christian leaders said some citizens who converted, or who expressed interest in learning more about Christianity, were assaulted by family members, or otherwise pressured to recant their conversions. According to religious leaders, some individuals who openly engaged in any religious practice other than Sunni Islam reported that family, neighbors, or others criticized their religious practice, pressured them to convert, and occasionally insinuated they could be in danger because of their choice.

Christian leaders continued to say when Christian converts died, family members sometimes buried them according to Islamic rites, and their churches had no standing to intervene on their behalf. Christian groups reported some villages continued not to permit Christians to be buried alongside Muslims.

In these cases, Christians were buried according to Islamic rites so their remains could stay near their families. When asked if the country would be better off if more religious persons held public office, 44 percent of those polled agreed while 45 percent disagreed, effectively unchanged since a similar survey in Similarly, 42 percent of those polled believed religious leaders should have say over decisions in the government, compared with 48 percent who disagreed.

More than half of those polled, 51 percent, disagreed with the view that religion should be separate from social and economic life. The NGO also found that only 15 percent of individuals between ages 15 and 29 in the country identified as religious. Some Christian leaders continued to state they had good relations with Muslims in their communities, with only isolated incidents of vandalism or harassment.

Christian and Muslim leaders hosted each other during the year. In March the Catholic Church held an interfaith event in which an imam and Catholic priest participated in a panel together. The Ambassador and other embassy officers met with government officials from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Interior, Justice, and Religious Affairs to discuss the difficulties Ahmadi and Shia Muslims, Christian, and other minority religious groups faced in registering as associations, importing religious materials, obtaining visas.

They also raised church closures and jailed activists.

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Senior government officials continued to oppose calls by extremist groups for violence in the name of Islam. Some Christian leaders and congregants spoke of family members abusing Muslims who converted to or expressed an interest in Christianity. Individuals engaged in religious practice other than Sunni Islam reported they had experienced threats and intolerance, including in the media.

The Ambassador and other embassy officers frequently encouraged senior government officials in the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Religious Affairs, Justice, and Interior to promote religious tolerance and discussed the difficulties Ahmadis, Christians, and other religious minority groups faced in registering as associations, importing religious materials, and obtaining visas. Embassy officers in meetings and programs with religious leaders from both Sunni Muslim and minority religious groups, as well as with other members of the public, focused on pluralism and religious moderation.

Religious groups together constituting less than 1 percent of the population include Christians, Jews, Ahmadi Muslims, Shia Muslims, and a community of Ibadi Muslims residing principally in the province of Ghardaia. Some religious leaders estimate there are fewer than Jews. According to government officials and religious leaders, foreign residents make up most of the Christian population.

Among the Christian population, the proportion of students and immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa without legal status has also increased in recent years. Christian leaders say citizens who are Christians predominantly belong to Protestant groups. The constitution declares Islam to be the state religion and prohibits state institutions from engaging in behavior incompatible with Islamic values. The constitution provides for freedom of worship in accordance with the law and states freedom of conscience and freedom of opinion are inviolable.

The law does not prohibit conversion from Islam, but proselytizing Muslims by non-Muslims is a criminal offense. The law also criminalizes insults directed at any other religion, with the same penalties. The law grants all individuals the right to practice their religion as long as they respect public order and regulations. The constitution establishes a High Islamic Council and states the council shall encourage and promote ijtihad the use of independent reasoning as a source of Islamic law for issues not precisely addressed in the Quran and express opinions on religious questions presented for its review.

The president appoints the members of the council and oversees its work. The constitution requires the council to submit regular reports to the president on its activities. The council may issue fatwas at the request of the president. The law requires any group, religious or otherwise, to register with the government as an association prior to conducting any activities.

Under the Associations Law passed in , all organizations previously registered were required to reregister with the government. The Ministry of Interior MOI grants association status to religious groups; only registered associations are officially recognized. The law requires the ministry to provide a receipt for the application once it has received all the required documentation and to respond within 60 days of submission of the completed application. The law states applicants are de facto approved if the ministry does not decide within the day limit.

The law grants the government full discretion in making registration decisions but provides applicants an opportunity to appeal a denial to an administrative tribunal. An association registered at the wilaya provincial level is confined to that specific wilaya province. The MRA has the right to review registration applications of religious associations, but the MOI makes the final decision. The National Committee for Non-Muslim Worship, a government entity, is responsible by law for facilitating the registration process for all non-Muslim groups.

The constitution requires a presidential candidate to be Muslim. Individuals of other faiths than Islam may hold other public offices and work within the government. The law prohibits religious associations from receiving funding from political parties or foreign entities. The constitution prohibits the establishment of political parties based on religion. Membership in the Islamic Salvation Front, a political party banned since , remains illegal.

The law specifies the manner and conditions under which religious services, Muslim or otherwise, must take place. The law states religious demonstrations are subject to regulation and the government may shut down any religious service taking place in private homes or in outdoor settings without official approval. With the exception of daily prayers, which are permissible anywhere, Islamic services may take place only in state-sanctioned mosques.

Friday prayers are further limited to certain specified mosques. Non-Islamic religious services must take place only in buildings registered with the state for the exclusive purpose of religious practice, be run by a registered religious association, open to the public, and marked as such on the exterior.

A request for permission to observe special non-Islamic religious events must be submitted to the relevant wali governor at least five days before the event, and the event must occur in buildings accessible to the public. Requests must include information on three principal organizers of the event, its purpose, the number of attendees anticipated, a schedule of events, and its planned location.

Individuals who fail to disperse at the behest of police are subject to arrest and a prison term of two to 12 months under the penal code. By law, the MRA provides financial support to mosques and pays the salaries of imams and other religious personnel, as well as for health care and retirement benefits.

The law also provides for the payment of salaries and benefits to non-Muslim religious leaders who are citizens. The Ministries of Religious Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Interior, and Commerce must approve the importation of all religious texts and items, except those intended for personal use. This decree requires all applications to include a full copy of the text and other detailed information about the applicant and text.

The ministry has three to six months to review the text, with the absence of a response after that time constituting a rejection of the importation application. A nonresponse after this period is considered a rejection. Religious texts distributed without authorization may be seized and destroyed. The law states the government must approve any modification of structures intended for non-Islamic collective worship. The family code prohibits Muslim women from marrying non-Muslim men unless the man converts to Islam.

The code does not prohibit Muslim men from marrying non-Muslim women. In the event of a divorce, a court determines the custody of any children. The Ministries of National Education and Religious Affairs require, regulate, and fund the study of Islam in public schools. Religious education focuses on Islamic studies but includes information on Christianity and Judaism and is mandatory at the primary and secondary school levels. The Ministry of National Education requires private schools to adhere to curricula in line with national standards, particularly regarding the teaching of Islam, or risk closure.

The CNDH monitors and evaluates human rights issues, including matters related to religious freedom. The law authorizes the CNDH to conduct investigations of alleged abuses, issue opinions and recommendations, conduct awareness campaigns, and work with other government authorities to address human rights issues. The CNDH may address religious concerns to appropriate government offices on behalf of individuals or groups it believes are not being treated fairly. The CNDH does not have the authority to enforce its decisions but may refer matters to the relevant administrative or criminal court.

The government does not register religious affiliations of the citizenry and does not print religious affiliations on documents such as national identification cards. By law, individuals who have converted from Islam to another religion are ineligible to receive an inheritance via succession.

In late May his health deteriorated, and prison authorities transferred him to a hospital in Blida on May Civil society organizations and human rights activists called for updates regarding the investigation and for charges against Ghardaia authorities to no avail. The government continued to enforce the ban on proselytizing by non-Muslim groups. According to media reports, authorities continued to arrest, jail, and fine several Christians on charges of proselytizing by non-Muslims, which prompted churches to restrict some activities unrelated to proselytizing, such as the distribution of religious literature and holding of events in local community centers that Muslims might attend.

According to Morning Star News, the man invited a Christian couple to his home to pray. Ahmadi leaders stated there were cases against community members pending with the Supreme Court as of the end of the year.

Charges included operating an unregistered religious association, collecting funds without authorization, and holding prayers in unauthorized locations. Community representatives said in some cases police confiscated passports and educational diplomas and in others employers placed Ahmadi Muslims under investigation on administrative leave. Ahmadi representatives stated they believed these individuals would appear before the Supreme Court in the next three to six years and that in the meantime, they would be prevented from employment.

According to the MOI, religious associations were de facto registered if the ministry did not reject their applications within 60 days of submission and that if the ministry considered the application incomplete, it did not issue a receipt for the application. NGOs and Ahmadiyya Muslim religious leaders said the MOI routinely failed to provide them with a receipt acknowledging they had submitted a completed registration application.

Ahmadis reported they continued to receive no government response to their outstanding request to meet with Minister of Religious Affairs Youcef Belmehdi or another senior ministry official to discuss their registration concerns. The Ahmadi community continued to report administrative difficulties and harassment since the community is not a registered association and is unable to meet and collect donations.

Members of the community said it tried to register with the MRA and Ministry of Interior MOI as a Muslim group in and , but the government rejected its applications because it regards Ahmadis as non-Muslims. According to a pastor associated with the EPA, the Church resubmitted its application in , but was never reregistered despite several follow-ups with the government. Some religious groups stated they functioned as registered 60 days after having submitted their application, even though they had not received an MOI confirmation.

Such groups stated, however, that service providers, such as utilities and banks, refused to provide services without proof of registration. As a result, these groups faced the same administrative obstacles as unregistered associations.

They also had limited standing to pursue legal complaints and could not engage in charitable activities, which required bank accounts. Most Christian leaders stated they had no contact with the National Committee for Non-Muslim Worship, despite its legal mandate to work with them on registration, since its establishment in Other MRA officials, however, met with Christian leaders to hear their views periodically during the year, including receiving complaints about the registration process.

Christian leaders continued to say some Protestant groups avoided applying for recognition and instead operated discreetly because they lacked confidence in the registration process. According to media reports and EPA statements, during the year the government closed nine churches, compared to eight church closures between November and December The government also closed one Christian bookstore. All were affiliated with the EPA.

The government said the churches it closed were operating without government authorization, illegally printing evangelical publications, and failing to meet building safety codes. The church posted a video on Facebook showing police interrupting the service, pulling congregants from their chairs and forcing them out of the building. According to one media report, while closing the church, police hit Pastor Salah Chalah, who is also the head of the EPA, striking him with a baton.

According to NGOs, on October 17, police arrested 17 Christians in front of the Tizi Ouzou governorate, where they had staged a peaceful sit-in to protest the church closure. Other Christian groups, particularly in the Kabylie region, reportedly held worship services more discreetly. According to the MRA, the government continued to allow government employees to wear religious clothing including the hijab, crosses, and the niqab.

Authorities continued to instruct some female government employees, such as security force members, not to wear head and face coverings that they said could complicate the performance of their official duties. On March 17, then-minister of religious affairs Mohamed Aissa informed clerics that they would no longer be required to submit texts of their sermons to authorities for approval. MRA officials said the government did not regularly prescreen and approve sermons before imams delivered them during Friday prayers.

The MRA said it did not punish imams who did not discuss the suggested sermon topics. MRA officials said the government continued to monitor the sermons delivered in mosques. The government also monitored activities in mosques for possible security-related offenses, such as recruitment by extremist groups, and prohibited the use of mosques as public meeting places outside of regular prayer hours. The previous minister had halted their work in June , stating extremist groups had infiltrated the committees.

According to Catholic representatives, the government granted permits for the importation of Catholic religious texts during the year, including Catholic literature and Bibles. The EPA received import authorization for an order of Bibles and religious literature placed in Both included versions in French, Arabic, English, and Tamazight. According to the EPA, it had not received details on the remaining books ordered.

Non-Islamic religious texts, music, and video media continued to be available on the informal market, and stores and vendors in the capital sold Bibles in several languages, including Arabic, French, and Tamazight. On January 13, the government approved the first versions of the Quran in the Berber language, Tamazight, in the Arabic script.

The government continued to enforce its prohibition on dissemination of any literature portraying violence as a legitimate precept of Islam. Christian leaders said courts were sometimes biased against non-Muslims in family law cases, such as divorce or custody proceedings. According to religious community leaders, some local administrations did not always verify religions before conducting marriage ceremonies. As such, some couples were able to marry despite the family code prohibition against Muslim women marrying non-Muslim men.

Sources stated Christian leaders were able to visit Christians in prison, regardless of the nature of their offense. Both private and state-run media continued to produce reports throughout the year examining what they said were foreign ties and dangers of religious groups, such as Shia Muslims, Ahmadi Muslims, and Salafists.

Church groups continued to say the government did not respond in a timely fashion to their requests for visas for foreign religious workers and visiting scholars and speakers, resulting in de facto visa refusals. One Christian leader continued to say the government did not grant or refused 50 percent of visas requested for Catholic Church workers. As of the end of the year, three members of the Catholic Church had been waiting one year for visas. Catholic and Protestant groups continued to identify the delays as significantly hindering religious practice.

Higher-level intervention with officials responsible for visa issuance by senior MRA and Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials at the request of religious groups sometimes resulted in the issuance of long-term visas, according to those groups. A representative from the Catholic Church reported that visa delays and refusals caused the Church to cancel its annual Regional Episcopal Conference of North Africa meeting, which it scheduled for September 20 in Algiers.

The government, along with local private contributors, continued to fund mosque construction. The government and public and private companies also funded the preservation of some Catholic churches, particularly those of historical importance. The Province of Oran, for example, continued to work in partnership with local donors on an extensive renovation of Notre Dame de Santa Cruz as part of its cultural patrimony.

Government-owned radio stations continued to broadcast Christmas and Easter services in French, although many Christians said they would prefer services be broadcast in Arabic or Tamazight. After Friday prayers, religious programs countering extremism were broadcast. Senior government officials continued to publicly condemn acts of violence committed in the name of Islam and urged all members of society to reject extremist behavior.

Some Christian converts said they and others in their communities continued to keep a low profile due to concern for their personal safety and the potential for legal, familial, career, and social problems. Other converts practiced their new religion openly, according to members of the Christian community. Several Christian leaders said some citizens who converted, or who expressed interest in learning more about Christianity, were assaulted by family members, or otherwise pressured to recant their conversions.

According to religious leaders, some individuals who openly engaged in any religious practice other than Sunni Islam reported that family, neighbors, or others criticized their religious practice, pressured them to convert, and occasionally insinuated they could be in danger because of their choice. Christian leaders continued to say when Christian converts died, family members sometimes buried them according to Islamic rites, and their churches had no standing to intervene on their behalf.

Christian groups reported some villages continued not to permit Christians to be buried alongside Muslims. In these cases, Christians were buried according to Islamic rites so their remains could stay near their families. When asked if the country would be better off if more religious persons held public office, 44 percent of those polled agreed while 45 percent disagreed, effectively unchanged since a similar survey in Similarly, 42 percent of those polled believed religious leaders should have say over decisions in the government, compared with 48 percent who disagreed.

More than half of those polled, 51 percent, disagreed with the view that religion should be separate from social and economic life. The NGO also found that only 15 percent of individuals between ages 15 and 29 in the country identified as religious. Some Christian leaders continued to state they had good relations with Muslims in their communities, with only isolated incidents of vandalism or harassment.

Christian and Muslim leaders hosted each other during the year. In March the Catholic Church held an interfaith event in which an imam and Catholic priest participated in a panel together. The Ambassador and other embassy officers met with government officials from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Interior, Justice, and Religious Affairs to discuss the difficulties Ahmadi and Shia Muslims, Christian, and other minority religious groups faced in registering as associations, importing religious materials, obtaining visas.

They also raised church closures and jailed activists. The Ambassador and other embassy officers met during the year with government-affiliated and independent religious leaders and with representatives of Muslim and Christian communities to discuss interreligious dialogue and tolerance, and in the case of religious minorities, their rights and legal status. In August the Ambassador discussed interfaith dialogue and tolerance while visiting the Center of Pierre Claverie in Oran, named after a Catholic bishop known for his advocacy of interreligious dialogue and who was killed in During a press conference, the Ambassador reiterated the importance of religious freedom.

Embassy officials discussed the practice of religion, its intersection with politics, religious tolerance, and the religious and political roles of women with religious and political leaders, as well as with the Muslim Scholars Association and High Islamic Council. Visiting officials from the Department of State regularly raised religious freedom issues in meetings with civil society and government officials. The constitution provides for freedom of individuals to manifest their religion or belief and prohibits religious discrimination.

It names two co-princes — the president of France and the Roman Catholic Bishop of Urgell in Catalonia, Spain — as joint heads of state. In accordance with the constitution, the government offers the Catholic Church privileges not available to other religious groups. In February parliament approved the first-ever equality and nondiscrimination law, which provides for the right to equal treatment and nondiscrimination and includes a prohibition on religious discrimination.

The government again did not respond to longstanding requests by Muslim and Jewish groups to build cemeteries for these communities. The government issued religious work permits only to Catholics, but it allowed non-Catholics to reside and perform religious work in the country under a different status. In the absence of a mosque in the country, the Muslim community rented two prayer rooms.

Ambassador, resident in Spain, and the Consul General and other officials from the U. Consulate General in Barcelona continued to meet and communicate regularly with senior government officials from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Interior, Justice, and Social Affairs and other government officials.

During visits to the country and periodic communications, consulate officials discussed with Jewish and Muslim leaders and nongovernmental organizations NGOs issues such as the lack of official status for faiths other than Catholicism and the lack of cemeteries for the Jewish and Muslim communities. The local government does not provide statistics on the size of religious groups, and there is no census data on religious group membership.

Government officials report that approximately 92 percent of the population is Roman Catholic. Muslim leaders estimate their community, largely composed of recent immigrants, has approximately 1, members. The Jewish community reports it has approximately members. The constitution states such freedoms may be limited only to protect public safety, order, health, or morals as prescribed by law or to protect the rights of others.

On February 15, parliament approved the first-ever equality and nondiscrimination law, which provides for the right to equal treatment and nondiscrimination, including for members of any religious group. The law establishes judicial, administrative, and institutional guarantees, which protect and provide compensation for victims of discrimination. In addition, the law calls for establishment of an Equality Observatory to monitor and assess the state of equality and nondiscrimination in the country but does not specify how this institution would work with the national ombudsman.

Faiths other than Catholicism do not have legal status as religious groups. The government registers religious communities as cultural organizations under the law of associations, which does not specifically mention religious groups. To build a place of worship or seek government financial support for community activities, a religious group must acquire legal status by registering as a nonprofit cultural organization.

To register, a group must provide its statutes and foundational agreement, a statement certifying the names of persons appointed to the board or other official positions in the organization, and a patrimony declaration that identifies the inheritance or endowment of the organization. A consolidated register of associations records all types of associations, including religious groups. The national ombudsman is responsible for investigating complaints of racism, discrimination, and intolerance, including those involving a religious motivation, in the public and private sectors.

The ombudsman makes recommendations to the public administration to correct problems and reports annually to parliament. According to the law, municipalities are responsible for the construction, preservation, and administration of cemeteries and funerary services.

Instruction in the Catholic faith is optional in public schools. The Catholic Church provides teachers for religion classes, and the government pays their salaries. The Ministry of Education also provides space in public schools for Catholic religious instruction. The Catholic Church continued to receive special privileges not available to other religious groups. The government paid the salaries of the eight Catholic priests serving in local churches and granted all foreign Catholic priests citizenship for as long as they exercised their functions in the country.

Government officials at the national or local levels continued not to respond to longstanding requests by Muslim and Jewish community representatives to allow the construction of a separate cemetery for each where they could bury their dead according to their rituals and traditions. Jewish and Muslim groups said they did not raise the cemetery issue again during the year but were waiting for a government response to their earlier requests.

According to municipal authorities, Jews and Muslims could use existing cemeteries, but these did not allocate separate burial areas for these communities to use. As a result, most Jews and Muslims continued to bury their dead outside the country. The government continued to fund three public Catholic schools at the primary and secondary level. These were open to students of all faiths. Catholic instruction was mandatory for all students attending these schools.

The government continued to maintain a policy of issuing religious work permits for foreigners performing religious functions only to members of the Catholic Church. Foreign religious workers belonging to other groups said they could enter the country with permits for other positions such as schoolteachers or business workers and carry out religious work without hindrance. The principal religious groups said they had not reported any incidents of discrimination to the ombudsman.

In the absence of a mosque in the country, the Muslim community relied on two Islamic prayer rooms that it rented in Andorra la Vella and in Escaldes Engordany. The Catholic Church of Santa Maria del Fener in Andorra la Vella continued to lend its sanctuary twice a month to the Anglican community so that visiting Anglican clergy could conduct services for the English-speaking members of that community.

Consulate General in Barcelona reiterated the importance of religious tolerance in periodic in-person meetings with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Attorney General, Office of the Head of Government, and ombudsman, and in regular communications. Consulate General staff discussed the equality law with representatives from the Ministry of Social Affairs, and continued concerns about the lack of cemeteries for the Jewish and Muslim communities with senior Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Interior and Justice officials.

In periodic communications and meetings with representatives of the Jewish and Muslim communities and NGOs, consulate general officials discussed the lack of legal status for religious groups other than the Catholic Church and the lack of cemeteries for the Jewish and Muslim communities.

The government completed construction on a first-ever public Rastafarian-run school, at which vaccinations are not required for school entry. The government announced that, for economic reasons, it was considering amending the law to rescind the designation of Sunday as a holiday. They discussed issues involving government facilitation of religious diversity and tolerance and equal treatment under the law.

According to the census, Those with unspecified or no religious beliefs account for 5. The census categorizes an additional Based on anecdotal information, these four religious groups are listed from largest to smallest. The constitution protects individuals from taking oaths contradictory to their beliefs or participating in events and activities of religions not their own, including participating in or receiving unwanted religious education. No law may be adopted that contradicts these constitutional provisions.

The government does not require religious groups to register; however, to receive tax- and duty-free concessions and to own, build, or renovate property, religious groups must register with the government. The Inland Revenue Department reviews and approves the completed form, usually granting registration and tax concessions. The law prohibits religious instruction in public schools. Private schools may provide religious instruction.

Public schools require parents to immunize their children to attend school. Some private schools do not require immunizations for their students. The law also permits homeschooling. It allows these persons to apply for a special religious license to cultivate the plant within their private dwelling, use the plant for religious purposes within their private dwelling or within their approved place of worship, and transport the plant between their private dwelling and approved place of worship.

The special religious license, however, does not permit any commercial or financial transaction involving any part of the cannabis plant. Occupational health regulations require individuals with dreadlocks to cover their hair when they work with food, hazardous equipment, or in the health sector. These regulations apply to both public- and private-sector workplaces.

In the wake of decriminalization of marijuana use and cultivation for religious purposes, Rastafarian leaders continued to state publicly the government had taken steps to recognize the dignity and worth of the Rastafarian community. In September the government completed construction on a Rastafarian-run public school that conformed to the standards of all other government primary schools but did not require immunizations for enrollment.

Education transcends your religious beliefs. Education is a collection not of a melting pot but of a rich salad bowl of our history. Citing escalating costs in tourism-related services, the government announced it was considering rescinding the holiday designation for Sunday by amending the law. According to opposition leader Harold Lovell, of the United Progressive Party, removing the Sunday holiday designation could infringe on the rights of each individual to practice his or her religion.

Embassy officials continued to engage government officials from the Office of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Legal Affairs, as well as police leadership, to emphasize the importance of respect for religious diversity, tolerance, and equal treatment under the law.

Embassy officials also met with civil society representatives, including the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Christian Council, to discuss religious freedom issues, including the importance of respect for religious diversity, freedom of religious expression, and discrimination based on religion.

Since , the southern part of Cyprus has been under the control of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus. A substantial number of Turkish troops remain on the island. For areas in the north that have different Greek and Turkish names, both are listed e. Turkish Cypriot authorities continued to grant improved access to Greek Orthodox religious sites compared with previous years. Mufti of Cyprus Atalay and Church of Cyprus Archbishop Chrysostomos II met throughout the year and arranged visits to places of worship across the buffer zone.

James Church and St. George Church, two Greek Orthodox churches located in the buffer zone. In May the U. In September embassy officials attended a Greek Orthodox worship service at Panagia Lysi Church, the first service held in the church since Embassy officials continued to meet with leaders from Sunni and Alevi Muslim, Armenian and Greek Orthodox, Maronite, Roman Catholic, and Protestant communities to discuss access to religious sites and instances of religious-based discrimination.

According to census information from the Turkish Cypriot authorities, the most recent data available, the population of the area administered by Turkish Cypriots is , The census contains no data on religious affiliation. Sociologists estimate as much as 97 percent of the population is Sunni Muslim.

The Alevi Culture Association estimates that approximately 10, immigrants of Turkish, Kurdish, and Arab origin and their descendants are Alevi Muslims. The government of the Republic of Cyprus estimates members of the Church of Cyprus and 69 Maronite Catholics reside in the area administered by Turkish Cypriots.

Of these, 61 percent were Muslim Turks, and the rest were predominantly Christians and Muslims from more than different countries. It prohibits forced prayer, forced attendance at religious services, condemnation based on religious beliefs, and compelling individuals to disclose their religious beliefs. No other religious organization is tax exempt or receives subsidies from Turkish Cypriot authorities.

Among other provisions, the agreement provides for facilities for religious worship for Greek Cypriots. Greek Orthodox, Maronite Catholic, and Armenian Orthodox worshippers must submit applications to the authorities for permission to hold religious services at churches or monasteries other than these six designated churches, including at restored religious heritage sites. For the authorities to consider an application the date should be of significance to that religious group; the church or monastery must be structurally sound; it must not be located in a military zone, with exceptions for some Maronite churches; it must not have a dual use, for example, as a museum; there should be no complaints from local Turkish Cypriot residents; and police must be available to provide security.

Permission is also necessary for priests other than those officially predesignated to conduct services. Specific permission is required for individuals who do not reside in the Turkish Cypriot-administered area, including members of the Greek Orthodox, Maronite Catholic, and Armenian Orthodox Churches, to participate. UNFICYP coordinates these applications, which religious groups must submit 10 days before the date of the requested service. Religious groups are not permitted to register as associations if the stated purpose of the association is to provide religious education to their members.

There is mandatory religious instruction in grades four through eight in all schools, public and private. These classes focus primarily on Sunni Islam but also include sessions on comparative religion. Students may opt out of mandatory religion courses in grades six through eight. At the high school level, religion classes are optional. Barnabas, and St. Mamas Churches, were again open for prayers throughout the year, as they had been in previous years, but Turkish Cypriot authorities continued to require advance notification for religious services there.

While St. Mamas and St. Armenian Orthodox leaders said they had not submitted religious access requests during the year partly out of frustration with delayed approvals in prior years. A Greek Orthodox representative stated 63 religious sites remained inaccessible due to being located within Turkish military zones or the buffer zone.

George Exorinos Church in Famagusta. Maronite representatives continued to report being required to submit a list of persons planning to attend Sunday services by the preceding Tuesday. Armenian Orthodox representatives said continued limitations on access imposed by Turkish Cypriot authorities prevented them from fully renovating and maintaining the Sourp Magar Monastery. According to the Alevi Culture Association, the first phase of construction on an Alevi house of worship cemevi and cultural complex was completed in July.

According to local press reports, the Turkish government provided much of the aid to fund construction of Sunni Muslim mosques. Secular Turkish Cypriot groups criticized the protocol, stating it imposed Islam on secular Turkish Cypriots. A representative of the Church of Cyprus again stated some religious sites, to which Church officials had little or no access, were deteriorating.

Since the Church of Cyprus has been unable to access St. James Church in the buffer zone. In February the already damaged church partially collapsed amid heavy rains. Greek Orthodox religious groups continued to state authorities placed religious items, including icons, in storage rooms or displayed them in museums, against the wishes of the communities to whom they were sacred.

In January local press reported the international NGO Walk of Truth recovered four fragments of religious frescoes removed from churches in the north after and returned them to the Republic of Cyprus. The TSPA continued to report societal discrimination toward Protestants, including denial of access to venues to hold religious events and verbal harassment. The TSPA stated a Turkish Cypriot security forces member stopped attending church services due to pressure from colleagues in the military.

Barnabas in the area administered by Turkish Cypriots. On February 14, the leaders of the Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Muslim, Maronite Catholic, and Roman Catholic communities issued a joint statement calling for the restoration of the Church of Saint James and the Church of Saint George located in the buffer zone in Nicosia, renewing a joint plea they made in On March 19, representatives of each of the five religious communities visited the partially collapsed Greek Orthodox Church of Saint James in the buffer zone in Nicosia.

The TCCH reported it had completed restoration of two religious heritage sites: the Basilica of Agia Triada and the Agios Philon archeological site site of a Byzantine church and early Christian episcopal complex. Neither was functioning as an active place of worship following the restoration, and no religious group requested to use either site for religious purposes during the year.

The TCCH continued restoring another five religious sites. The TCCH reported the tendering process for the second phase of the restoration had been completed; it anticipated work to commence by the end of the year. In March local press reported three individuals stole a kilogram pound church bell from the nine-meter foot tower of the recently renovated St. On September 8, embassy officials attended a Greek Orthodox service, the first service since , at the Panagia Lysi Church.

Embassy officials discussed issues pertaining to religious freedom, including instances of societal discrimination within the Turkish Cypriot community, with representatives of the Armenian Orthodox, Alevi Muslim, Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Maronite, Protestant, and Sunni Muslim communities. Embassy officials frequently discussed with Greek Orthodox, Maronite Catholic, and Armenian Orthodox leaders concerns about restricted access to churches and other religious sites in the area administered by Turkish Cypriots.

All references to place names within this report are for reference purposes only and are meant to convey meaning. They should not be interpreted as implying or indicating any political recognition or change in longstanding U. The constitution provides the government will grant the Roman Catholic Church preferential legal status, but there is no official state religion. Several religious groups expressed frustration that the government required them to register as both civil associations and religious groups in order to be eligible for tax-exempt status, receive visas for foreign clergy, and hold public activities, noting that the Catholic Church was exempt from this requirement.

The government continued its investigation into the terrorist bombing of the Argentina Israelite Mutual Association AMIA community center and a subsequent cover-up, reiterating demands for Iranian cooperation in bringing the suspected perpetrators to justice. Jewish organizations denounced the anti-Semitic commentary of former television journalist Santiago Cuneo, who was a candidate for governor of Buenos Aires Province.

On February 25, at least five individuals broke into the house of Grand Rabbi Gabriel Davidovich in Buenos Aires, beating him and causing injuries that resulted in his hospitalization for one week. The Delegation of Argentine Jewish Associations DAIA reported complaints of anti-Semitism in , the most recent year for which statistics were available, compared with reported complaints in Embassy outreach efforts included regular meetings with government officials and religious and community leaders to discuss the status of religious freedom, tolerance, and interfaith dialogue; the status of the AMIA case; and ways to counter anti-Semitism.

In August the Ambassador gave keynote remarks on countering online hate speech and discrimination based on religion at a conference in Tucuman Province. Eighteen other diplomatic missions participated in the event, and the Ambassador delivered remarks in remembrance of the victims, calling for justice, and underscoring the role of Hezbollah and Iran in the attack. Embassy officials supported interfaith cooperation and universal respect for freedom of religion through both public statements and social media.

Religious demographic and statistical data from nongovernmental organizations NGOs , research centers, and religious leaders vary. Evangelical Christian communities, particularly Pentecostals, are growing, but no reliable statistics are available. The government provides the Catholic Church with tax-exempt subsidies, institutional privileges such as school subsidies, significant autonomy for parochial schools, and licensing preferences for radio frequencies.

Registration is not compulsory for other religious groups, but registered groups receive the same status and fiscal benefits as the Catholic Church, including tax-exempt status, visas for religious officials, and the ability to hold public activities. To register, religious groups must have a place of worship, an organizational charter, and an ordained clergy, among other requirements.

To access many of these benefits, religious groups must also register as a civil association through the General Inspectorate of Justice. Registration is not required for private religious services, such as those held in homes, but is sometimes necessary to conduct activities in public spaces pursuant to local regulations.

City authorities may require groups to obtain permits to use public parks for events, and they may require religious groups to be registered with the Secretariat of Worship to receive a permit. Once registered, an organization must report to the secretariat any significant changes or decisions made regarding its leadership, governing structure, size of membership, and the address of its headquarters. The mandatory curriculum in public schools is secular by law. Students may request elective courses of instruction in the religion of their choice in public schools, which may be conducted in the school or at a religious institution.

Many Christian, Jewish, and Muslim religious groups operate private schools, which receive financial support contingent on registration with the government. Foreign officials of registered religious groups may apply for a specific visa category to enter the country. The validity period of the visa varies depending on the purpose of the travel. Foreign missionaries of registered religious groups must apply to the Secretariat of Worship, which in turn notifies immigration authorities to request the issuance of appropriate documents.

INADI investigates suspected and reported incidents of discrimination based on religion. INADI is not authorized to enforce recommendations or findings, but its reports may be used as evidence in civil court. The agency also supports victims of religious discrimination and promotes proactive measures to prevent discrimination. INADI produces and distributes publications to promote religious tolerance. Prosecutors stated that then-president Fernandez de Kirchner and several high-ranking officials sought to cover up Iranian involvement in the AMIA bombing that killed 85 persons.

In an unrelated case, a court acquitted former president Carlos Menem in February of charges he had sought to derail investigations into the AMIA bombing while president, citing lack of evidence. Judicial inquiries continued into the death of Alberto Nisman, the lead federal prosecutor investigating the AMIA bombing. On December 26, the newly appointed Minister of Security, Sabina Frederic, announced her intent to review a analysis by the National Gendarmerie that stated two assailants killed Nisman.

The analysis contradicted expert Federal Police testimony made in that suggested Nisman had committed suicide. Representatives of several religious groups stated that a government requirement that religious groups register first with the Ministry of Worship and then with the Ministry of Interior as a civil association was redundant, stating that the Catholic Church faced no such requirement.

The groups said these legal processes were required to request tax-exempt status, apply for visas for foreign clergy, and hold public activities. Religious group representatives said religious groups deserved a unique process, separate from that for civil associations. The parents cited a Supreme Court decision that incorporation of religious education in public schools in Salta Province was unconstitutional.

In August local media reported on a new case of religious teaching in a school in Formosa Province in which the school director invited a group of nuns to speak to a class during school hours without permission from the regional ministry of education or from the parents of the children. Parents said the nuns proselytized by teaching the children to pray and distributing rosaries and pamphlets.

Numerous religious and prolife groups, including evangelical Christian churches, expressed concern over the case of a doctor arrested for refusing to perform an abortion. In October a court in Rio Negro Province gave Leandro Rodriguez a suspended sentence of one year and two months for misconduct and prohibited him from practicing medicine for two years and four months, after he did not perform a legally permitted abortion for a woman who had been raped.

In Rodriguez treated a woman suffering from severe pain and an infection after taking misoprostol, an abortion-inducing drug in her fifth month of pregnancy. Rodriguez treated the infection and halted the abortion. Three months later, the woman delivered the baby and offered it for adoption.

At the end of its term in December, the Macri administration sent a new draft religious freedom bill to congress for its consideration. First proposed in , the draft bill would have eliminated the requirement that non-Catholic religious groups register with the government to receive the same benefits accorded to the Catholic Church. An earlier draft of the bill allowed for conscientious objection on the basis of religion, but drafters did not include that provision in the new bill.

Separately, the outgoing congress approved a draft bill in November that would declare November 25 the National Day of Religious Freedom and Conscience. CEA leaders reported progress on the matter during plenary sessions held in November. Throughout the year, Jewish organizations denounced the anti-Semitic commentary of former television journalist Cuneo, who was a candidate for governor of Buenos Aires Province in elections held in October.

Among other incidents cited by the organizations, in a July 2 televised interview Cuneo promoted conspiracy theories about a purported Jewish plot to take over Patagonia. He also repeated claims, first made in , that then-president Macri had staffed the national intelligence agency with Mossad agents. Christian leaders continued to say when Christian converts died, family members sometimes buried them according to Islamic rites, and their churches had no standing to intervene on their behalf.

Christian groups reported some villages continued not to permit Christians to be buried alongside Muslims. In these cases, Christians were buried according to Islamic rites so their remains could stay near their families. When asked if the country would be better off if more religious persons held public office, 44 percent of those polled agreed while 45 percent disagreed, effectively unchanged since a similar survey in Similarly, 42 percent of those polled believed religious leaders should have say over decisions in the government, compared with 48 percent who disagreed.

More than half of those polled, 51 percent, disagreed with the view that religion should be separate from social and economic life. The NGO also found that only 15 percent of individuals between ages 15 and 29 in the country identified as religious. Some Christian leaders continued to state they had good relations with Muslims in their communities, with only isolated incidents of vandalism or harassment.

Christian and Muslim leaders hosted each other during the year. In March the Catholic Church held an interfaith event in which an imam and Catholic priest participated in a panel together. The Ambassador and other embassy officers met with government officials from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Interior, Justice, and Religious Affairs to discuss the difficulties Ahmadi and Shia Muslims, Christian, and other minority religious groups faced in registering as associations, importing religious materials, obtaining visas.

They also raised church closures and jailed activists. The Ambassador and other embassy officers met during the year with government-affiliated and independent religious leaders and with representatives of Muslim and Christian communities to discuss interreligious dialogue and tolerance, and in the case of religious minorities, their rights and legal status.

In August the Ambassador discussed interfaith dialogue and tolerance while visiting the Center of Pierre Claverie in Oran, named after a Catholic bishop known for his advocacy of interreligious dialogue and who was killed in During a press conference, the Ambassador reiterated the importance of religious freedom. Embassy officials discussed the practice of religion, its intersection with politics, religious tolerance, and the religious and political roles of women with religious and political leaders, as well as with the Muslim Scholars Association and High Islamic Council.

Visiting officials from the Department of State regularly raised religious freedom issues in meetings with civil society and government officials. The constitution states the country is a secular state, and both it and other laws provide for the right of individuals to choose and change their religion and to practice the religion of their choice. Religious-based attacks, targeted killings, and kidnappings continued in the Sahel Region and spread to the Center North and Center East Regions.

The government stated it believed individuals associated with terrorist organizations carried out all the religiously-based attacks during the year. According to President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, terrorists appear to have shifted their tactics from stoking conflict between farmers and herders to inducing a similar divide between Muslims and Christians.

In response to dozens of terrorist attacks on religious targets throughout the year, the government repeatedly condemned the violence and called for religious tolerance and peace. Attackers continued to kill imams, other clergy, and worshippers while attacking and destroy mosques and churches. Reports stated that they also forced communities in the northern part of the country to dress in specific Islamic religious garb.

Terrorists continued attacking schools and killing teachers for teaching a secular curriculum, and for teaching in French rather than Arabic, according to media reports. As of August, terrorist violence forced 2, schools to close, depriving more than , children of education, according to UNICEF. Expanding their targeted killings, terrorist groups increasingly attacked Christian religious leaders and worshippers and destroyed churches.

Two Catholic parishes in the northern Sahel Region closed due to insecurity. Throughout the year, high ranking Muslim and Catholic leaders repeatedly called for an end to violence and urged interfaith tolerance. In the aftermath of attacks against Christians, Muslim clergy participated in Christian services and offered prayers for the dead. In addition, embassy staff met religious leaders at the national and local levels to promote religious freedom, interfaith tolerance, and civil dialogue.

Throughout the year, the Ambassador met with imams and Catholic and Protestant leaders to reinforce U. The Ambassador hosted an iftar during Ramadan to showcase religious freedom and tolerance. At the iftar, he gave joint remarks with the minister of territorial administration and decentralization and stressed the importance of religious tolerance. During the year, the embassy conducted regular outreach with imams, Catholic priests, and Protestant leaders to understand the current threat to religious freedom and tolerance in the country as a result of the unprecedented violence against both Christian and Muslim worshippers.

According to the census, 61 percent of the population is Muslim, predominantly Sunni, 19 percent is Roman Catholic, 4 percent belong to various Protestant groups, and 15 percent maintain exclusively indigenous beliefs. Less than 1 percent is atheist or belongs to other religious groups. Statistics on religious affiliation are approximate because Muslims and Christians often adhere simultaneously to some aspects of traditional or animist religious beliefs.

Muslims reside largely in the northern, eastern, and western border regions, while Christians are concentrated in the center of the country. Traditional and animist religious beliefs are practiced throughout the country, especially in rural communities. The capital has a mixed Muslim and Christian population. The constitution states the country is secular, and both the constitution and other laws provide for the right of individuals to choose and change their religion and to practice the religion of their choice.

The law allows all organizations, religious or otherwise, to register with the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralization, which oversees religious affairs. The ministry, through the Directorate for Customary Affairs and Worship, monitors the implementation of standards for burial, exhumation, and transfer of remains; helps organize religious pilgrimages; promotes and fosters interreligious dialogue and peace; and develops and implements measures for the erection of places of worship and the registration of religious organizations and religious congregations.

Religious groups operate under the same regulatory framework for publishing and broadcasting as other entities. The Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralization may request copies of proposed publications and broadcasts to verify they are in accordance with the nature of the religious group as stated in their registration, and it may conduct permit application reviews. The government generally does not fund religious schools or require them to pay taxes unless they conduct for-profit activities.

The government provides subsidies to a number of Catholic schools as part of an agreement allowing students from public schools to enroll in Catholic schools when public schools are at full capacity. The government taxes religious groups only if they engage in commercial activities, such as farming or dairy production. Religious education is not allowed in public schools.

Muslim, Catholic, and Protestant groups operate private primary and secondary schools and some schools of higher education. These schools are permitted to provide religious instruction to their students. By law schools religious or not must submit the names of their directors to the government and register their schools with the Ministry of National Education and Literacy; however, the government does not appoint or approve these officials.

The government reviews the curricula of new religious schools as they open and others periodically to ensure they offer the full standard academic curriculum; however, the majority of Quranic schools are not registered, and thus their curricula not reviewed. The government stated that terrorists attacked religious institutions with the aim of dividing the population. This is an opportunity for me to urge Burkinabe, of all religious denominations and all social and community origins, to remain united and in solidarity.

Religions are vectors of tolerance, and these barbarous and villainous attacks reflect on the nature of the enemy, which we must fight, in an individual and collective commitment of every moment. In multiple public statements, then mayor of Djibo Soum Province, Sahel Region Oumarou Dicko, who on November 3 was killed by terrorists, allegedly for political motives, at Namsiguia, in the Center North Region, said that there was no indigenous conflict among religions in countries in the Sahel, and that despite the terrorist group Ansarul Islam claiming its origins in the country, religious freedom and tolerance remained strong in countries throughout the embattled Sahel.

The attackers reportedly travelled as a group of 40 motorcyclists across the region toward Dablo, a substantial number that observers said should have provided warning to security forces of their threatening presence. During the May 12 attack, the gunmen attacked during Mass, killing a priest and five worshippers.

Sources stated that this funding was meant to demonstrate equitable government support to all religious groups in the country. In July the government allocated approximately 1. Muslims, Protestants, Catholics, those of traditional religions, we have always all walked hand in hand. Muslim clergy participated in the funeral services of those Christians killed in Dablo and offered prayers for the dead.

Observers stated their participation was a show of solidarity in light of the Muslim casualties of the terrorist violence. Members of the largest religious communities promoted interfaith dialogue and tolerance through public institutions, such as the National Observatory of Religious Facts, which conducted awareness campaigns and mediation throughout the country.

They also worked through nongovernmental organizations such as the Dori-based Fraternal Union of Believers, which encouraged various religious communities, specifically in the Sahel Region, to conduct socioeconomic activities with the goal of fostering religious tolerance.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Ouagadougou cited an interfaith Eid al-Adha celebration in August, in which Christian religious leaders participated alongside their Muslim counterparts, in what they stated was an effort to promote religious tolerance in the country. New Muslim and Protestant congregations opened without approval and oversight from existing Muslim and Protestant federations, continuing a trend from the previous years.

They said the lack of oversight made it difficult for the official religious groups to monitor and regulate the activities and messages of these new groups. Embassy officials raised the increase in religiously motivated attacks, particularly in the Sahel and East Regions, with the government, including the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralization, the Ministries of Defense and Security, and the Office of the President. Embassy staff regularly discussed events and policies affecting religious freedom with the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralization, including the equitable registration process for religious groups, the equitable treatment of religious groups by the government, and the status of the relationship between the ministry and different religious groups.

The Ambassador and embassy officials met separately with Muslim, Catholic, and Protestant religious leaders throughout the country, at local and national levels, to encourage their efforts to promote interfaith dialogue and advocate for religious tolerance and freedom. In February embassy officials invited religious leaders from the Sahel Region to serve as panelists during a seminar that opened a military exercise between the U. Religious leaders discussed the nexus between terrorist attacks and an erosion of historically longstanding religious freedom and tolerance in the country.

Embassy representatives used social media platforms to reinforce messaging for religious freedom and tolerance. The embassy funded literacy programming in Quranic schools in northern Burkina Faso, the curriculum of which focuses on peaceful dialogue, nonviolent conflict resolution, and religious tolerance. Throughout the year, the Ambassador met with imams, priests, and pastors to reinforce U. The Ambassador hosted an iftar during Ramadan, attended by Muslim, Christian, and other religious leaders as well as senior government officials, to encourage religious freedom and tolerance.

At the iftar he gave joint remarks with the minister of territorial administration and decentralization and stressed the importance of religious tolerance. During the year, embassy officers conducted regular outreach with imams, Catholic priests, and Protestant leaders to understand the current threat to religious freedom and tolerance in the wake of the unprecedented violence against both Christian and Muslim worshippers perpetrated by terrorists. On April 1, the Ambassador met with Cheick Abdul Aziz Aguib Sore, a prominent regional religious preacher, leader, and advocate for peace.

Their discussion focused on strategies to engage Quranic schools and Muslim leaders in the promotion of religious tolerance. On November 1, the Ambassador and visiting U. Throughout the year, embassy officials organized or supported several activities to respond to the social divisions between religious groups. For example, in the North Region, where violent extremist organizations exacerbated religious tensions to foster conflict, U.

The constitution provides for freedom of religion and equal protection under the law regardless of religion. The government continued to exercise limited or no control or influence in most of the country. Police and the gendarmerie military police continued to fail to stop or punish abuses committed by armed groups, such as killings, physical abuse, and gender-based violence, including those based on religious affiliation, according to human rights organizations.

In June the Special Criminal Court SCC , established in to investigate serious human rights violations and alleged war crimes, announced that three of the 29 investigations launched since its inception could lead to trials. In July the government signed a tripartite agreement with Cameroon and the United Nations to facilitate voluntary repatriation of , predominantly Muslim citizens living as refugees in Cameroon.

In September the International Criminal Court ICC began pretrial hearings in the case of an anti-Balaka commander and member of parliament accused of war crimes, as well as a second anti-Balaka leader. The predominantly Christian anti-Balaka and the predominantly Muslim ex-Seleka militia forces continued to occupy territories in the western and northern parts of the country, respectively, and sectarian clashes between them and Christian and Muslim populations continued.

Government forces usually did not intervene to curtail the violence. In May members of the armed group 3R attacked villages in the northwest of the country, killing more than 50 civilians allegedly in retaliation for the death of a member of a Muslim ethnic minority group. The government called on the leader of the armed group, appointed to a government advisor position following the signing of the February peace accord, to hand over those responsible.

On May 16, the 3R handed over to the government three commanders accused of the killings. Also in May, an unknown assailant killed a year-old nun. The motive for the killing remained unclear. Nongovernmental organizations NGOs stated that religion continued to be a primary feature dividing the population. Many Muslim communities remained displaced in the western part of the country, where according to media reports, they were not allowed to practice their religion freely, either due to lack of protection from the government or because of intimidation by anti-Balaka units.

In May at the start of Ramadan, Imam Oumar Kobine Layama, President of the Islamic Community in the country, called for the strengthening of social cohesion and peaceful coexistence of religious communities. In meetings with President Faustin Touadera and other government officials, U.

They encouraged the government representatives to implement outreach activities aimed at religious communities and publicly condemn attacks on religious structures and against religious groups. Embassy officials regularly engaged with religious leaders to listen to their concerns and issues, including Roman Catholic Cardinal Dieudonne Nzapalainga and other Christian leaders, imams, and members of the Coordinating Committee for Central African Muslim Organizations.

In March the Ambassador hosted a roundtable for religious leaders designed to bridge gaps, strengthen relationships, and encourage freedom of religious choice and practice. According to the Pew Research Foundation, the population is 61 percent Protestant, 28 percent Catholic, and 9 percent Muslim.

Other religious groups, including traditional religious groups and those having no religious beliefs, make up an estimated 2 percent of the population. Some Christians and Muslims incorporate aspects of indigenous religions in their religious practices.

In the central and southern regions of the country, Catholicism and Protestant Christianity are the dominant religions, while Islam is predominant in the northeast. In Bangui the majority of inhabitants in the PK5 and PK3 neighborhoods are Muslim, while other neighborhoods in the capital are predominantly Christian. The International Commission of Inquiry on the Central African Republic reported a significant percentage of Muslims had fled to neighboring countries; their return during the year remained a slow process.

The constitution provides for freedom of religion under conditions set by law and equal protection under the law regardless of religion. The law also requires the head of state to take an oath of office that includes a promise to fulfill the duties of the office without any consideration of religion.

Religious groups, except for indigenous religious groups, are required to register with the Ministry of the Interior, Public Security, and Territorial Administration. To register, religious groups must prove they have a minimum of 1, members and their leaders have adequate religious education, as judged by the ministry. Indigenous religious groups may receive benefits and exemptions offered to registered groups regardless of their size. The law permits the denial of registration to any religious group deemed offensive to public morals or likely to disturb social peace.

It allows the suspension of registered religious groups if their activities are judged subversive by legal entities. There are no fees for registration as a religious organization. Registration confers official recognition and benefits, such as exemptions from customs tariffs for vehicles or equipment imported into the country. There are no penalties prescribed for groups that do not register. The law does not prohibit religious instruction in public or private schools, but religious instruction is not part of the public-school curriculum.

Police and the gendarmerie failed to stop or punish abuses committed by militias, including killings, physical abuse, religious- and gender-based violence, according to human rights organizations. The United Nations Multidimensional Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic MINUSCA remained the only force capable of maintaining security in much of the country, but according to most observers it remained hampered in its ability to protect civilians due to limited resources and personnel, as well as poor infrastructure impeding access to rural communities.

Because religion, ethnicity, and politics are often closely linked, it was difficult to categorize many incidents as solely based on religious identity. Among other commitments, armed groups agreed to refrain from acts of violence directed at places of worship. In June President Touadera launched the first of seven public consultations on the creation of a Truth, Justice, Reparations, and Reconciliation Commission in support of the peace agreement.

Victims and selected members of the public in the country viewed the proceedings streamed live from the ICC in The Hague. The government continued to observe Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha as official but unpaid holidays, while Christian national holidays were paid holidays.

In August the Ministry of Territorial Administration announced the closure of several places of worship in Bangui for failing to meet guidelines for recognition as legitimate religious organizations and for disruption of public order. In June the Special Criminal Court SCC , established in in Bangui to investigate serious human rights violations including genocide and alleged war crimes, some of which were related to religious identity, announced that three of the 29 investigations launched since its inception could lead to trials.

The SCC did not release details of these cases, however, since investigations they deemed sensitive were still underway. MINUSCA continued to support government-led local peace and reconciliation initiatives that aimed to improve relationships between Christians and Muslims. The efforts included public outreach and sensitization workshops.

The committees of 13 leaders in each community were tasked with sensitizing their communities to the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement and promoting social cohesion, peaceful coexistence, and the nonviolent settlement of conflicts. Observers continued to state that these initiatives helped counter inflammatory rhetoric and dispel rumors, and public meetings held under the auspices of the initiative helped to reassure vulnerable communities of their safety.

According to UNHCR, approximately 2, refugees, the majority Muslim, expressed a desire to return to their home country. NGOs reported religion continued to be a primary feature dividing the population. Many Muslim communities remained displaced in the western part of the country, where according to media reports, they were not allowed to practice their religion freely.

Religious leaders generally avoided characterizing the ongoing conflicts as religiously based. Instead, they identified political and economic power struggles and foreign influence as the root causes. He said that Christians and Muslims were working together for peace in a number of distressed regions of the country. In May at the start of Ramadan, Imam Oumar Kobine Layama, president of the Islamic Community in the Central African Republic, called for the strengthening of social cohesion and peaceful coexistence of religious communities.

In January its Muslim founder and representative, Imam Omar Kobine, reaffirmed the role of the PCRC in working to reduce violence and promote reconciliation in the country. Based in PK5, the station was founded by a local NGO in with the goal of promoting interfaith dialogue. Muslims continued to report social discrimination and marginalization, including difficulties accessing identification documents, and security concerns, which hampered their inability to move freely throughout the country.

According to religious leaders, Muslims throughout the country faced challenges within their communities because of ethnic differences, such as Muslims of Arab and Peulh Fulani ethnicity. For example, observers said some Muslims of Arab descent considered themselves superior to Muslims of other ethnicities and that Muslims who converted from Christianity were frequently ostracized among the Muslim population.

The sources also stated these converts were often prevented from living in and interacting with some Muslim communities. In meetings with President Touadera and other government officials, embassy representatives raised concerns about religious freedom and the safe voluntary return of refugees and IDPs to their home communities.

They encouraged the government representatives to implement outreach activities directed at religious communities and publicly condemn attacks on religious structures and against religious groups. They also called on the government to provide security for all citizens, regardless of faith.

Embassy officials regularly engaged with religious leaders, including Cardinal Nzapalainga, other Christian leaders, imams, and representatives of the Coordinating Committee for Central African Muslim Organizations, on issues related to religious freedom and reconciliation and explored opportunities to broaden their access and dialogue with elected officials.

The embassy continued to fund a consortium formed to build up the capacity of the Platform of Religious Confessions to bolster its role in promoting social cohesion, including reconciliation between religious communities. In March the Ambassador hosted a roundtable for Christian and Muslim leaders at her residence. She encouraged open dialogue and explored solutions to bridge gaps, strengthen relationships, and encourage freedom of religious choice and practice.

In March and August embassy officials visited IDP camps in Bangassou and Bambari, where they discussed ways to improve security and freedom to ensure peaceful practice of religion. In August embassy officials recognized the end of Ramadan with the presentation of foodstuffs to three Muslim communities. Participants in the ceremonies included imams, Muslim female community leaders, and more than observers.

Embassy officials emphasized a message of tolerance and acceptance of diversity, stressing the need for peace and asking guests to continue the spirit of coexistence that marked the day. The embassy sponsored the participation of a Muslim community activist from the PK5 neighborhood in an exchange program in the United States focusing on women in peace and security.

In February , armed forces of the Russian Federation seized and occupied Crimea. Occupation authorities continue to impose the laws of the Russian Federation in the territory of Crimea. The Russian government reported there were religious communities registered in Crimea, including Sevastopol, compared with in , a number that dropped by over 1, since the occupation began in , the last year for which Ukrainian government figures were available.

Occupation authorities continued to subject Muslim Crimean Tatars to imprisonment and detention, especially if authorities purportedly suspected the individuals of involvement in the Muslim political organization Hizb ut-Tahrir, which is banned in Russia but is legal in Ukraine. There were 24 prosecutions for such activity, compared with 23 in , 17 of which ended in convictions with a monetary fine.

Greek Catholic leaders said they continued to have difficulty staffing their parishes because of the policies of occupation authorities. The OCU reported continued seizures of its churches. Crimean Tatars reported police continued to be slow to investigate attacks on Islamic religious properties or refused to investigate them at all. Religious and human rights groups continued to report Russian media efforts to create suspicion and fear among certain religious groups, especially targeting Crimean Tatar Muslims, whom media repeatedly accused of links to Islamist groups designated by Russia as terrorist groups, such as Hizb ut-Tahrir.

On November 6, the website Crimea-news reported that unidentified individuals destroyed crosses at a cemetery in Feodosia. Embassy officials, however, continued to meet in other parts of Ukraine with Crimean Muslim, Christian, and Jewish leaders to discuss their concerns over actions taken against their congregations by the occupation authorities, and to demonstrate continued U. According to the State Statistics Service of Ukraine estimates the most recent , the total population of the peninsula is 2,, There are no recent independent surveys with data on the religious affiliation of the population, but media outlets estimate the number of Crimean Tatars, who are overwhelmingly Muslim, at ,, or 13 percent of the population.

According to the information provided by the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture in the most recent year available , the UOC-MP remains the largest Christian denomination. There are several Jewish congregations, mostly in Sevastopol and Simferopol. Jewish groups estimate between 10, and 15, Jewish residents lived in Crimea before the Russian occupation began; no updates have been available since the occupation began in According to the census, the most recent, there are Karaites in Ukraine; of them lived in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.

According to the Ukrainian human rights organization Crimean Human Rights Group CHRG with offices in Kyiv, 86 individuals were unlawfully incarcerated or imprisoned due to politically or religiously motivated persecution in Crimea as of September 7. Thirty-four of them had received prison sentences.

Krym Realii news website quoted human rights attorney Edem Semedlyaev, stating that that the three detainees had been placed in a psychiatric hospital for forced examinations due to their refusal to plead guilty to terrorism charges. Krym Realii is an independent news service focusing on human rights issues in Crimea.

On June 7, occupation authorities changed his pretrial detention to house arrest. Seytsomanov said authorities applied physical and psychological pressure to force him into giving false testimony. His lawyer said the occupation authorities toughened the charge against Seytosmanov, stating he was an organizer rather than a participant in a Hizb ut-Tahrir cell.

Human rights activists linked the verdict to his reporting on the human rights situation in Crimea. Occupation authorities detained Memedeminov on terrorist charges in , citing his involvement with Hizb ut-Tahrir. The suspects were arrested in a series of armed raids in February by Russian occupation authorities. The court found them guilty of organizing or participating in the activities of a terrorist organization and sentenced them to high security prison terms of 17 years for Teymur Abdullaev, 14 years for Rustem Ismailov, and 13 years for Uzeir Abdullaev.

Aider Saledinov and Emil Dzhemadenov each received year sentences. They then kicked him and forced him to his knees. The report made no mention of Aivazov having been seized at the crossing point. Aivazov signed a confession stating he was a member of a Hizb ut-Tahrir cell, along with the recently arrested men. According to an OHCHR quarterly report issued in September, since the beginning of the Russian occupation, at least 33 Crimean residents were arrested for alleged ties with radical Muslim groups.

According to CHRG, on December 24, Inna Semenets, magistrate of the Evpatoriya Judicial District, fined the Karaite Jewish religious community for failing to place an identifying sign on the building of a religious organization. According to Forum 18, the cases involved Protestants, Muslims, adherents of the Society of Krishna Consciousness, Falun Gong, as well as groups with unspecified affiliations. Occupation authorities made both of them sign a pledge not to leave the area.

The FSB required him to sign a pledge not to leave the city. That same day, FSB officers raided at least nine local homes. Another raid occurred on July 7. There were 24 prosecutions for such activity, compared with 23 in , 17 of which ended in convictions with some type of monetary fine.

Many of those prosecuted had been sharing their faith on the street or holding worship at unapproved venues. Forum 18 reported that occupation authorities brought 11 cases against individuals and religious communities for failing to use the full legal name of a registered religious community. The other five cases involved no punishment.

According to Krymska Solidarnist and Forum 18, local authorities continued the ban on the Tablighi Jamaat Muslim missionary movement in Crimea under a ruling by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation. The movement is legal in Ukraine.

The court sentenced Suleymanov to four years in prison. Andurakhmanov, Mustafayev, and Kubedinov each received two-and-a-half-year suspended sentences. According to the directorate, the mosque had not provided information on the contents of its sermons, as required by law. According to data collected by the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture in the most recent year available , there were 2, religious organizations a term including parishes, congregations, theological schools, monasteries, and other constituent parts of a church or religious group in the ARC and in Sevastopol.

The numbers included organizations both with and without legal entity status. According to a OHCHR report, religious communities indicated more than 1, religious communities recognized under Ukrainian law had not reregistered. According to the OHCHR, stringent legal requirements under Russian legislation continued to prevent or discourage reregistration of many religious communities.

Human rights groups reported occupation authorities continued to require imams at Crimean Tatar mosques to inform them each time they transferred from one mosque to another. The Roman Catholic Church reported it continued to operate in the territory as a pastoral district directly under the authority of the Vatican. Polish and Ukrainian Roman Catholic Church priests were permitted to stay in the territory for only 90 days at a time and required to leave Crimea for 90 days before returning.

UGCC representatives said it could still only operate as a part of the pastoral district of the Roman Catholic Church. Only six of the 15 churches, identifying as OCU but required to register as independent following the separation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church from the Moscow Patriarchate, were functioning at the end of the year, compared with five in and eight in Volodymyr of Kyiv and Olga parish as an independent Orthodox congregation.

Congregation members reported they had been effectively evicted, with no access to the church building due to a series of bureaucratic administrative rulings. On March 3, police in Simferopol briefly detained Archbishop Klyment as he was boarding a bus to visit Ukrainian political prisoner Pavlo Hryb, who was held in Rostov-on-Don.

The Russian government released Hryb during a prisoner swap in September. Workers unearthed human remains at the site during preparatory excavations for the project. After receiving complaints from the Muslim community, authorities suspended the excavations to allow reburial of the remains. On November 6, the website Crimea-news. Krym Realii news website, in May unidentified individuals destroyed newly installed slabs etched with the names of 64 fallen Soviet Army soldiers, including 57 Crimean Tatars, at a World War II memorial in Orlovka Village, in Sevastopol.

Despite his subsequent release, this kind of harassment is unacceptable. We expect Russia to respect freedom of religion and stop detaining innocent Ukrainians in Crimea. Residents of Crimea deserve to be able to worship freely, without intimidation, if they so choose. We call upon Russia to end its occupation of Crimea.

Although embassy and other U. The leaders discussed their concerns over actions taken against congregations by the occupation authorities and reassured the religious leaders of continued U. Embassy officials told religious leaders the United States would continue to support religious freedom in Crimea and press the occupation authorities to return confiscated property and release prisoners incarcerated for their religious or political beliefs.

According to CSW, following the passage of the constitution, which was criticized by some religious groups, the government increased pressure on religious leaders, including through violence, detentions, and threats; restricting the right of prisoners to practice religion freely; and limiting or blocking international and domestic travel. Media and religious leaders said the government escalated its harassment and detention of members of religious groups advocating for greater religious and political freedom, including Ladies in White leader Berta Soler Fernandez, Christian rights activist Mitzael Diaz Paseiro, his wife and fellow activist Ariadna Lopez Roque, and Patmos Institute regional coordinator Leonardo Rodriguez Alonso.

Many religious groups said their inability to obtain legal registration impeded the ability of adherents to practice their religion. According to CSW, many religious leaders practiced self-censorship because of government surveillance and infiltration of religious groups. In April media reported authorities arrested and sentenced homeschooling advocates Reverend Ramon Rigal and his wife Ayda Exposito for their refusal to send their children to government-run schools for religious reasons.

In July the government prevented religious leaders from traveling to the United States to attend the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. A coalition of evangelical Protestant churches, Apostolic churches, and the Roman Catholic Church continued to press for constitutional amendments, including easing registration of religious groups, ownership of church property, and new church construction.

Approximately participants from different religious groups in the country attended the meeting, which focused on the importance of peaceful interfaith coexistence. In public statements and on social media, U. Embassy officials remained in close contact with religious groups, including facilitating meetings between visiting civil society delegations and religious groups in the country.

On December 18, in accordance with the International Religious Freedom Act of , as amended, the Secretary of State placed Cuba on the Special Watch List for having engaged in or tolerated severe violations of religious freedom. There is no independent, authoritative source on the overall size or composition of religious groups.

The Catholic Church estimates 60 percent of the population identifies as Catholic. Membership in Protestant churches is estimated at 5 percent. According to some observers, Pentecostals and Baptists are likely the largest Protestant denominations. The Assemblies of God reports approximately , members; the four Baptist conventions estimate their combined membership at more than , There are approximately 4, followers of 50 Apostolic churches an unregistered loosely affiliated network of Protestant churches, also known as the Apostolic Movement and a separate New Apostolic Church associated with the New Apostolic Church International.

According to some Christian leaders, evangelical Protestant groups continue to grow in the country. The Jewish community estimates it has 1, members, of whom 1, reside in Havana. According to the local Islamic League, there are 2, to 3, Muslims, of whom an estimated 1, are native born.

Immigrants and native-born citizens practice several different Buddhists traditions, with estimates of 6, followers. The largest group of Buddhists is the Japanese Soka Gakkai; its estimated membership is 1, Many individuals, particularly those of African descent, practice religions with roots in the Congo River Basin and West Africa, including Yoruba groups, and often known collectively as Santeria.

These religious practices are commonly intermingled with Catholicism, and some require Catholic baptism for full initiation, making it difficult to estimate accurately their total membership. Rastafarian adherents also have a presence on the island, although the size of the community is unknown.

It declares the country is a secular state and provides for the separation of religious institutions and the state. The ORA regulates religious institutions and the practice of religion. The MOJ registers religious denominations as associations on a basis similar to how it officially registers civil society organizations. The application process requires religious groups to identify the location of their activities, their proposed leadership, and their funding sources, among other requirements.

Groups failing to register face penalties ranging from fines to closure of their organizations and confiscation of their property. Two house churches of the same denomination may not exist within two kilometers 1. The law states if authorization is granted, authorities will supervise the operation of meetings; they may suspend meetings in the house for a year or more if they find the requirements are not fulfilled.

If an individual registers a complaint against a church, the house church may be closed permanently and members may be subject to imprisonment. Foreigners must obtain permission before attending services in a house church; foreigners may not attend house churches in some regions. Any violation will result in fines and closure of the house church. The constitution prohibits discrimination based on religion. Military service is mandatory for all men, and there are no legal provisions exempting conscientious objectors from service.

The country signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in but did not ratify it. Religious leaders said before and following implementation of the new constitution on February 25, the government increased its pressure on religious leaders, while curtailing freedom of religion and conscience. According to media outlet 14yMedio. Some religious groups stated concerns the new constitution significantly weakened protections for freedom of religion or belief, as well as diluting references to freedom of conscience and separating it from freedom of religion.

According to the U. According to media, prison authorities continued to abuse Christian rights activist Mitzael Diaz Paseiro for his refusal to participate in ideological re-education programs while incarcerated. Media reported that police continued their repeated physical assaults against members of the Ladies in White, a rights advocacy organization, on their way to Mass.

Throughout the year, Soler Fernandez reported repeated arrests and short detentions for Ladies in White members when they attempted to meet on Sundays. Soler Fernandez said she was arrested every Sunday she tried to exit her house to protest.

She and other Ladies in White members were frequently physically abused while in police custody, as shown by videos of their arrests. After being taken into custody, they were typically fined and released shortly thereafter. According to media, authorities specifically harassed and threatened journalists reporting specifically on abuses of religious freedom.

On April 22, police arrested and assaulted journalist and lawyer Roberto Quinones while he was reporting on a trial involving religious expression. Officers approached and arrested Quinones while he was interviewing a daughter of two Protestant pastors facing charges because they wanted to homeschool their children because of hostility and bullying their children were subject to in state schools due to their faith. The officers then dragged him to their police car.

One of the arresting officers struck Quinones several times, including once on the side of the head with enough force to rupture his eardrum. Patmos reported that on August 9, Yoel Suarez Fernandez was detained and threatened for reporting on the Rigal and Quinones cases, and authorities confiscated his phone.

According to media, in April authorities arrested homeschooling advocates Reverend Ramon Rigal and his wife Ayda Exposito. The couple withdrew their children from the state school and enrolled them in an online program based in Guatemala. In December, Diario de Cuba reported state judicial officials denied Ayda parole.

Another couple in their church was also sentenced to prison for refusing to send their children to state schools. According to CSW, on July 12, state security agents detained Ricardo Fernandez Izaguirre after he left the Havana headquarters of the Ladies in White where he had been documenting human rights abuses. A member of the Apostolic Movement and a journalist, Fernandez was released on July 19 and reportedly never charged.

Patmos reported that on October 31, authorities detained, interrogated, and threatened Velmis Adriana Marino Gonzalez for two hours for leading a female Apostolic movement. He said authorities opposed the construction of a new church authorities demolished the previous Emanuel Church and detained hundreds of church members in , even though he had the permits to build the new church. Patmos reported during the year authorities repeatedly pressured and threatened year-old Yoruba follower Dairon Hernandez Perez for his refusal to enlist in the military due to his religious beliefs.

According to CSW, many religious groups continued to state their lack of legal registration impeded their ability to practice their religion. Representatives of several religious organizations that had unsuccessfully sought registration said the government continued to interpret the law on associations as a means for the ORA and the MOJ to deny registration of certain groups.

In some cases, the MOJ delayed requests for registration or cited changing laws to justify a lack of approval. EchoCuba, a U. Members of Protestant denominations said some groups were still able to register only a small percentage of house churches in private homes, although some unregistered house churches could operate with little or no government interference. According to EchoCuba, however, several religious leaders, particularly those from smaller, independent house churches or Santeria communities, said the government was less tolerant of groups that relied on informal locations, including private residences and other private meeting spaces, to practice their beliefs.

They said the government monitored them, and, at times, prevented them from holding religious meetings in their spaces. CSW reported authorities continued to rely on two government resolutions to impose complicated and repressive restrictions on house churches. According to EchoCuba, the ORA approved some registration applications, but it took up to two to three years from the date of the application to complete the process.

Soka Gakkai was the only Buddhist group registered with the government. According to religious leaders and former prisoners, authorities continued to deny prisoners, including political prisoners, pastoral visits and the ability to meet with other prisoners for worship, prayer, and study. Many prisoners also said authorities repeatedly confiscated Bibles and other religious literature, sometimes as punishment and other times for no apparent reason.

According to media, in August the ORA informed Catholic leaders that it had cancelled the annual Catholic public youth day celebrations, except in the city of Santiago. The announcement came after police prevented some Catholic priests, journalists, and others from attending the funeral of Cardinal Jaime Ortega at the Havana cathedral on July According to CSW, the government, through the Ministry of Interior, systematically planted informants in all religious organizations, sometimes by persuading or intimidating members and leaders to act as informants.

The objective was to monitor and intimidate religious leaders and report on the content of sermons and on church attendees. As a result, CSW assessed, many leaders practiced self-censorship, avoiding stating anything that might possibly be construed as anti-Castro or counterrevolutionary in their sermons and teaching. Catholic and Protestant Church leaders, both in and outside of the Council of Cuban Churches CCC , reported frequent visits from state security agents and CCP officials for the purpose of intimidating them and reminding them they were under close surveillance, as well as to influence internal decisions and structures within the groups.

Many house church leaders continued to report frequent visits from state security agents or CCP officials. In March an officer informed Yoel Ruiz Solis in Pinar del Rio that he was operating an illegal church in his home and threatened to confiscate his house and open criminal proceedings against him. In August and October officials from the Ministry of Physical Planning accused Rudisvel Ribeira Robert of various violations; during the second visit they threatened him with a fine if he continued to allow religious activities on his property.

According to Patmos, the Rastafarians, whose spiritual leader remained imprisoned since , were among the most stigmatized and repressed religious groups. The Patmos report said reggae music, the primary form of Rastafarian expression, was marginalized and its bands censored. According to Sandor Perez Pita, known in the Rastafarian world as Rassandino, reggae was not allowed on most state radio stations and concert venues, and Rastafarians were consistently targeted in government crackdowns on drugs, incarcerating them for their supposed association with drugs without presenting evidence of actual drug possession or trafficking.

Authorities also subjected Rastafarians to discrimination for their clothing and hairstyles, including through segregation of Rastafarian schoolchildren and employment discrimination against Rastafarian adults. According CSW, Christian leaders from all denominations said there was a scarcity of Bibles and other religious literature, primarily in rural areas.

Some religious leaders continued to report government obstacles preventing them from importing religious materials and donated goods, including bureaucratic obstructions and arbitrary restrictions such as inconsistent rules on computers and electronic devices.

In some cases, the government held up religious materials or blocked them altogether. Patmos reported one pastor witnessed authorities at the airport confiscate Bibles U. According to Patmos, the Cuban Association for the Divulgation of Islam was unable to obtain a container of religious literature embargoed since

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(investing in stocks of only Indian companies) or international (investing in stocks of overseas companies). The National Pension System is a long term retirement - focused safer (than equity or mutual funds) choice for investing in India. The first reset on the interest rate is due on January 1, MOHRA also continued to facilitate pilgrimages for Hindus and Sikhs to India, but it did the U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom addressed the of religious groups sometimes resulted in the issuance of long-​term visas, Some Christian leaders continued to state they had good relations with. Algeria, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Cuba, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq +11 During the year, the country's top religious leaders remained united in their to religious freedom and reconciliation and explored opportunities to broaden On November 12, the Kyivsky District Court extended until February 15, the​.