Religious Freedom

Man practicing yoga

Russian Yoga Teacher Acquitted of Proselytism Charges

January 30, 2017

Earlier this month, a St. Petersburg court dropped charges accusing a yoga instructor of illegal missionary activity. Critics of Russia’s crackdown on proselytism see the case as an example of the law’s ambiguity and ineffectiveness.

44-year-old Russian computer programmer Dmitry Ugay was arrested at the St. Petersburg “Vedalife” festival on October 22, 2016. Ugay was 40 minutes into a presentation on the spiritual principles behind the practice of yoga when police apprehended him on stage.  

Sikh U.S. Army captain wearing a camouflage turban

U.S. Army to Permit Religious Turbans, Beards, and Hijabs

January 15, 2017

The United States Army will now allow soldiers to wear turbans, hijabs, and other religious markers, according to a new policy issued last week.

The new uniform regulations come after years of petitions from Sikhs, whose religious beliefs mandate them to grow their hair long and keep their heads covered with a turban. Army grooming standards compelling men to be clean-shaven particularly restricted Sikh men from enlisting, because to do so would require them violate the precepts of their faith.

Little girl in swim cap leans on edge of pool

Swiss Court Rules Against Coed Swim Exemption for Muslim Girls

January 12, 2017

On Tuesday, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Switzerland’s public schools can enforce mandatory mixed-sex swim classes, even if parents object on religious grounds.

The ruling was the final step in a years-long legal battle waged by Turkish-Swiss couple Aziz Osmanoglu and Sehabat Kocabas. In 2008, when Osmanoglu and Kocabas’s daughters were 9 and 7, the couple refused to send them to mandatory school swim lessons.