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Liechtenstein PDF Print E-mail

In March of 2003, the people of Liechtenstein voted for a constitutional referendum to give the Prince new powers. This, in effect, has made the country a monarchy. Despite the majority vote, the public has expressed fears that this could lead to a dictatorship. In addition, after allegations that Liechtenstein had taken Nazi money into their banks, the government filed a report in 2001 that found all the dealings had been legal and corruption-free. The report also found that slave labor from the Nazi concentration camps had been used on Crown estates in Austria, but stated Liechtenstein had been a bystander rather than a perpetrator.

Liechtenstein has a population of 36,000 people. According to the 2000 census, 78.4 percent of the population is Roman Catholic. Protestants account for 8.3 percent, Muslims account for 4.5 percent, 2.8 percent profess no formal creed, Orthodox Christians account for 1.1 percent, and 0.1 percent are Jewish. Other minority religious groups account for 0.4 percent of the population and 4.1 percent of the population does not have any religious affiliation. The Muslim population has been growing steadily in the country due to an influx of immigrants, mainly from Turkey, Serbia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

In 1921, the 1862 Constitution was modified by John II, with the agreement of the Diet, to provide for the religious and moral interest of the people. The 1921 amendment declares the Catholic Church to be the church of the state but allows other confessions to practice their creeds and hold religious services "so far as is consistent with morality and public order." The amendment also makes provision for religious associations to own property and declares that the enjoyment of civil and political rights shall not be dependent upon religious belief. Because of this relationship with the Catholic Church, women in the country faced a year in prison for having abortions until new legislation legalized the procedure in 2005.

The US State Department’s 2010 International Religious Freedom Report states that constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom and, in practice, the government generally enforced these protections. According to the Report, “there were isolated reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice.”

The 1996 US State Department Report on Human Rights says that the government does not hamper the teaching or practice of any faith. It notes that the finances of the Roman Catholic Church are integrated directly into the budgets of the national and local governments. Roman Catholic or Protestant religious instruction is mandatory in schools, but officials grant exemption for children whose parents so request. Other religious groups may request funding from the state and are allowed to teach religious instruction at places of worship. The two organizations representing Muslims in the country along with collaboration form the government finished a draft document in 2010 requesting funding from the government. Furthermore, in the 2007-2008 school year, the government introduced new Islamic education courses in schools in five municipalities.

The people of Liechtenstein are generally tolerant of religious groups and do not hinder religious freedom. However, there were a few reports released in 2008 that Muslims had been verbally and physically abused. These instances usually involved Muslim women wearing headscarves. The government claims that it is working to integrate Muslims into society.

2011 US State Department International Religious Freedom Report on Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein - New World Encyclopedia

Liechtenstein Country Profile- BBC News