Date:                 June 9, 2020


USCIRF News Digest - June 9, 2020
Upcoming Events

June 10 – USCIRF Hearing on Safeguarding Religious Freedom in Northeast Syria (RSVP)
Download the 2020 USCIRF Annual Report: Key Findings and Recommendations
Top News from Around the World

Afghanistan’s Tiny Hindu And Sikh Minority Mull Leaving Their Country (RFE/RL)

Argentina adopts IHRA definition of antisemitism (Jerusalem Post)

Sam Brownback: “Religious freedom for all must be protected, including in employment” (Turan)
Azerbaijan warns Georgian ‘provocateurs’ at border near Davit Gareja (OC Media)
European Court found violation of the rights of the leader of Muslim Unity (Turan)

Bahrain releases prominent activist Nabeel Rajab  (National Post)
Bahrain delays re-opening mosques amid dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases (Gulf News)

First Rohingya dies from coronavirus in Bangladesh (Reuters)

Police investigate antisemitic vandalism at Montreal synagogue (Jerusalem Post)

The U.S. Must Use the New Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act to Sanction Chinese Officials for Religious Persecution (TIME)​
US Goes After China's Concentration Camps and 'Cultural Genocide' Against Uyghurs (CBN News)
Gulshan Abbas, Sister of Uyghur Activist in Exile, Confirmed Detained After Missing for 21 Months (RFA)​
China's Uighurs convicted in sham trials at Xinjiang camps (DW)​
Authorities to Destroy Uyghur Cemetery in Xinjiang Capital (RFA)​
Chinese coronavirus test maker agreed to build a Xinjiang gene bank (Axios)​
Top US Religious Official Pledges Support For Dalai Lama’s Return to ‘More Autonomous’ Tibet (RFA)​
China makes preaching patriotism compulsory to reopen churches (UCA)​
The Gospel According to Xi (WSJ)​

Central African Republic
Central African Republic court rejects bid to extend president's mandate (Reuters)
Rebel group suspends participation in Central Africa peace pact (News 24)

Anti-Semitism rampant among Islamist organizations in Germany: report (i24news)

Iran's Systematic Repression of Religious Minorities (VOA)
Iran executes ‘high number’ of gays, says German intelligence (Jerusalem Post)
Mother of Jailed Anti-Compulsory Hijab Activist Calls for Legal Reform (CHRI)

Rajasthan hospital faces probe after anti-Muslim WhatsApp posts by staff (The Indian Express)
Tablighi activity a specific visa violation, says Ministry of Home Affairs (The Hindu)

COVID-19 super-spreaders and Indonesia's ‘New Normal’ (Global Voices)
Indonesia couple lashed in Aceh despite coronavirus fears (CNA)

Better to screen at mosques than bar foreigners, says activist (FMT)
269 Rohingya boat people detained in Langkawi (FMT)

Moldova fears church festival could worsen spike in COVID-19 (Balkan Insight)

Montenegro accused of violating soldiers’ rights over protest ban (Balkan Insight)

Nigeria to relax coronavirus curbs on places of worship (Reuters)
Outcry after a Nigerian student dies from 'brutal attack' in church (CNN)
Boko Haram abducts soldier, three aid workers in Borno – Official (Premium Times)
Ministers take up case of Nigerian Humanist arrested for blasphemy (

North Korea
South Korean police block activists’ plans to send aid and bibles to North Korea (NK News)​

Campaign launched to end blame between sects over Covid-19 spread (Pakistan Today)

Russia Hands ‘Harshest, Longest’ Jail Sentence to Jehovah’s Witness (Moscow Times)
In Chechnya, some believers not allowed to attend first juma prayer within 10 weeks (Caucasian Knot)
Another Jehovah's Witness Gets Lengthy Prison Term In Russia (RFE/RL)
Residents of Chechnya outraged by Kadyrov's violation of mask regime in mosque (Caucasian Knot)
Russian Court in Crimea Jails Jehovah's Witness for 6 Years (Moscow Times)
Decision To Place Anti-Putin Shaman In Psychiatric Clinic Challenged (RFE/RL)
Partial lifting of ban on collective prayers surprises residents of Chechnya (Caucasian Knot)
Dagestani and Ingush believers think that mosque reopening was premature (Caucasian Knot)

Saudi Arabia
Friday sermons in Saudi Arabia to focus on virus prevention (Arab News)

Serbia joins ranks of countries who have adopted international antisemitism definition (The Algemeiner)

Sudanese government, armed groups discuss reforms of national institutions (Sudan Tribune)
Positive Developments in Sudan (VOA)

Survey of Jewish Heritage in Iraq and Syria: 27 sites considered endangered (EJC)

Tajik Religious Cleric, Relatives Convicted Of Being Members Of Banned Religious Group (RFE/RL)

Erdoğan says Hagia Sophia mosque transformation plan awaits court ruling (Ahval)
Turkey orders detention of more than 400 people for suspected Gülen links (Ahval)
Hagia Sophia debate revived after Erdoğan remarks: Will Turkey reconvert it to a mosque? (Bianet)

Turkey’s deep-pocketed religious authority becomes Erdogan tool (Balkan Insight)
Gov’t may look to change Hagia Sophia’s status (Hürriyet)
Erdogan seeking to change use of Hagia Sophia (Ekathimerini)
Turkish atheist group files complaint against Islamist daily for defamation (Ahval)
Stop instrumentalizing common symbols, says Davutoğlu over Hagia Sophia dispute (Ahval)
Assyrian Christians fear for their future in Turkey (France 24)
Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia may be opened to Islamic prayer, columnist says (Ahval)
Threats against Armenians in Turkey intensify (Asbarez)
Anti-Semitism spreads during pandemic in Turkey, community says (Ynetnews)
Minorities in Turkey on edge amid threats, attacks (Al-Monitor)

Orthodox Christians in Ukraine celebrate Trinity Sunday (Kyiv Post)

Uzbekistan: When will draft Religion Law be made public? (Forum 18)
Mosques reopen in coronavirus free regions over Uzbekistan after 80 days of quarantine (AKIpress)
Uzbekistan eases lockdown measures: mosques to open, hotels to resume their activities (
Uzbekistan: Police agent provocateur used to entrap Muslims (Forum 18)