Мнение со стороны

Hubert Seiwert: "Prejudice against Jehovah's Witnesses is unfounded"

European Union

"The religious association of Jehovah's Witnesses in Germany is quite famous. Largely due to their preaching activities. But there are also many prejudices against them. In particular, for this reason, the process of recognizing Jehovah's Witnesses as a public law corporation has been so delayed. On the other hand, in the course of all court proceedings, all arguments were exhausted and it was proved that prejudices against Jehovah's Witnesses were unfounded. So now—and I'm happy about that—Jehovah's Witnesses in Germany are recognized by both the court and the state authorities as the official religion, and thus equated with the big churches.

I must say that in Germany there is no such legal concept as extremism. I can only guess what is meant by this in Russia. For example, in Germany, this may mean some acts of violence with political overtones, that a crime is committed for political reasons. If the term "extremism" is applied to Jehovah's Witnesses in this sense, then it is completely absurd.

Everyone knows that Jehovah's Witnesses do not pursue political goals. By the way, I can say about Germany, here, I think, there are few groups whose crime rate is lower than that of Jehovah's Witnesses.

Of course, Jehovah's Witnesses have their own ideas about morality, which seem strict in many respects compared to German ideas. For example, strict sexual morality or conservative, from the point of view of the majority, view of the family. However, I don't know what extremism has to do with it.

I can't imagine that a court with enough information could come to the conclusion that Jehovah's Witnesses are extremists or could be politically dangerous.

In addition, do not forget that in Russia there is also a Constitutional Court. I don't know if you can contact him. But what I do know is that it was absolutely right and legal of us to do everything possible to convey the information, as I am doing at the moment, that Jehovah's Witnesses, as far as we know, are in no way connected with politics.

In addition, it is worth recalling that Jehovah's Witnesses were banned only by dictatorial regimes, for example, Nazi Germany. And I don't think today's Russia is like that."

Dr. Hubert Seiwert, Professor Emeritus of Comparative Religious Studies at the University of Leipzig (Germany).