Romanian Churches Fear of New Law

Churches in Romania are concerned as a new law that is set to limit the number of officially recognised religions in Romania will take effect.

Church leaders fear the new law could be used to silence minority faiths, as it also bans the use of religious symbols.

The law was rushed through parliament just six days before Romania joined the European Union. The former Communist country recognises only 18 religions.

Church leaders say the essence of religious freedom is to be able to 'express your views' and 'compare your beliefs'.

In the beginning of the New Year, more than ten thousand people were reported to have attended concerts across the two capitals, Bucharest and Sofia, to rejoice as countries Romania and Bulgaria entered the European Union.

The president of Romania, Traian Basescu, addressed the crowds, saying that EU entry was an "enormous chance for future generations".

He said, "It was hard, but we arrived at the end of the road. It is the road of our future. It is the road of our joy. We arrived in Europe. Welcome to Europe," Basescu said.

The EU now increases to 27 members, and surpasses more than half a billion people.