Proselytism Will Be Criminally Persecuted In Armenia


17.02.2009 16:18 GMT+04:00

/PanARMENIAN.Net/ The Armenian parliament has discussed a draft bill
on introduction of amendments into the Law on Freedom of Conscience
and Religious Organizations.

According to Armen Ashotyan, the draft bill co-author and head of
RA parliamentary permanent committee on education, science, culture,
youth and sports, the bill is awaiting vote in the parliament.

"The Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations was
adopted in 1991. It prohibits proselytism, yet doesn’t offer a clear
definition of the phenomenon," Armen Ashotyan told a news conference.

Proselytism is the term employed by the International Council of
Churches. It is the practice of attempting to convert people to
another opinion and, particularly, another religion. It is also
used to refer to other religions’ attempts to convert people to their
beliefs or even any attempt to convert people to another point of view,
religious or not.

"In such cases, citizens can turn to relevant state bodies to protect
their rights," Ashotyan said.

"Besides, amendments to the Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious
Organizations will include sanctions for proselytism, to be punished
with a penalty of 500 minimal salaries or 2-year imprisonment,"
he added.

To develop the draft bill, co-authors used the experience of European
states, specifically France, Austria and Switzerland.

"We want to make it clear that the draft bill is not aimed at any
religious organization. Besides, it does not extend upon religious
organizations of Armenia’s national minorities. Unfortunately we
witnessed many religion -based tragedies. The bill envisages protection
of rights, life and health of Armenian citizens," Ashotyan said.

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