European Interreligious Forum For Religious Freedom
1 2 3 4 5 » ... 34

Open Letter

Another Minority Religion Under Threat in Russia: Who Is Afraid of Sri Prakash?
The situation of religious minorities in Russia has been a cause of serious concerns for several years. While Russia hosts high-level academic institutes and tolerant intellectuals, it is also home to radicals who believe that the Russian Orthodox tradition should be defended by cracking down on minority religions.

Notorious in this respect has been, again for years, one Alexander Dvorkin, who heads an “anti-cult” center in Moscow and co-operates with international anti-cultists under the aegis of an organization known as FECRIS. Although rarely taken seriously abroad, Mr. Dvorkin has shown that he can be a real danger for religious minorities in Russia, unleashing against them friends in the media and in otherwise respectable institutions.

One of the obsessions of Mr. Dvorkin is Hinduism. He never really recovered from the international ridicule that targeted him in 2012 after he supported a ban against the ISKCON edition of theBhagavad Gitaas an “extremist book.” He believes that, through meditation and ritual, Hindu masters can “hypnotize” or “brainwash” unsuspecting Christian followers and turn them into Hindus overnight. Scholars of religion and Western courts of law have dismissed brainwashing theories as pseudoscience long ago.

A main target of Mr Dvorkin is the Hindu master Sri Prakash Ji, who has been living in Russia since 1990 and has a sizable Russian following, as well as disciples in several other countries. What particularly upsets Mr. Dvorkin is that Sri Prakash dared challenging his anti-cult center in a Russian court, obtaining on December 10, 2018 a declaration that some statements were indeed defamatory. Even more unacceptable in Mr. Dvorkin’s eyes are Sri Prakash’s projects for building a Hindu temple in Moscow.

Mr. Dvorkin has now started again a media campaign against Sri Prakash and his alleged “hypnotic” practices, calling from his deportation from Russia, a country where he and his family have been peacefully living for 29 years.

We fully understand that Mr. Dvorkin’s activities do not represent or express the voice of the majority of the Russian people and of the faithful members of the Russian Orthodox Church. They know that their tradition and identity are not well served by bigoted anti-minorities, anti-Hindu and anti-Indian attitudes. It is for this reason that the most respected Russian institutions should urgently clarify that they are not on the same side of Mr. Dvorkin on the Sri Prakash issue.

July 23, 2019

Asociación por la Defensa de la Tolerancia y los Derechos Humanos
CAP-LC Coordination des Associations et des Particuliers pour la Liberté de Conscience
CESNUR – Center for Studies on New Religions
EIFRF European Inter-Religious Forum for Religious Freedom
FOB – European Federation for Freedom of Belief
FOREF – Forum for Religious Freedom Europe
HRWF – Human Rights Without Frontiers
LIREC – Center for Studies on Freedom of Belief, Religion and Conscience
ORLIR – International Observatory of Religious Liberty of Refugees
Osservatorio sul Pluralismo Religioso
Soteria International

Rédigé par EIFRF le Tuesday, July 23rd 2019 | Comments (0)

한국의 강제 개종을 근절해야 합니다 : 문재인 대통령에게 보내는 공개서한

Forced Conversion in South Korea Should Be Put to an End: An Open Letter to President Moon Jae-in

Dear President Moon:
문재인 대통령님
We represent international NGOs and scholarly organizations specialized in researching religious pluralism and new religious movements throughout the world, and advocating for religious liberty.
우리는 종교 다원주의와 세계의 새로운 종교 운동을 연구하고 종교 자유를 옹호하는 국제 민간단체와 학술 단체를 대표합니다.
South Korea is a democratic country in an area where several totalitarian regimes persecute believers of all religions. We commend your government’s efforts to speak out for human rights and religious liberty in Eastern Asia.
여러 전체주의 정권 하에서 모든 종교인이 박해받는 지역에 위치한 대한민국은 민주주의 국가입니다. 우리는 동아시아의 인권과 종교 자유를 옹호하는 한국 정부의 노력을 높이 평가합니다.
At the same time, religious liberty is a fragile human right. All countries have their own problems, particularly when it comes to small or unpopular minorities. As the United Nations stated in CCPR’s General Comment No. 22to Article 18 (Freedom of Thought, Conscience or Religion) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “Article 18 is not limited in its application to traditional religions” and condemns “any tendency to discriminate against any religion or belief for any reason, including the fact that they are newly established, or represent religious minorities that may be the subject of hostilityon the part of a predominant religious community.”
동시에 종교의 자유는 취약한 인권입니다.국가마다 각기 다른 인권 문제가 있으나 특히 영세하거나 잘 알려지지 않은 소수집단에 있어서는 문제가 두드러집니다.유엔에서 세계인권선언 제18조(사상,양심 및 종교의 자유)에 대한 자유권규약위원회(CCPR)의 일반 논평22호에 언급한 바와 같이, “제18조는 그 적용에 있어 대상을 전통 종교에만 국한하지 않으며, 신생종교이거나 영향력이 큰 종교 세력으로부터 적개심의 대상이 되는 소수 종교를 포함하여 이유를 불문하고 모든 종교나 신념에 대한 일체의 차별적 경향을”규탄합니다.
South Korea hosts a large number of successful Christian new religions. The fact that they have non-conventional theologies and grow by converting members of traditional Christian churches make them the target of hostility by some mainline denominations. Obviously, theological criticism is itself part of religious liberty. It is an entirely different matter when adult members of new religions are kidnapped, in most cases by their parents, kept in a situation of confinement, and submitted to all sort of pressures by specialized “counselors” or “deprogrammers,” who are often pastors of the mainline churches, to forcibly compel them to abandon their faith and “convert” them back to the religion of their parents.
한국에는 많은 수의 성공적인 기독교 신흥 종교가 있습니다. 그들의 비전통적인 신학과, 전통적인 교회의 교인들의 개종으로 그 교세가 성장한다는 사실 때문에 일부 유력 교단에서는 이들을 적대시합니다. 분명히 신학적 비판 자체는 종교 자유의 일부입니다. 그러나 성인인 신흥 종교 교인의 납치는 전혀 다른 문제입니다. 대부분의 경우 이들은 부모에 의해 납치되어 감금당한 채 주로 주류 교회의 목회자인 이른바 전문‘상담사’ 또는‘개종목사’에 의해 갖은 압력을 받아 강제로 자신의 신앙을 포기하고 부모의 종교로 다시‘개종’할 것을 강요 받습니다.

We have seen all this before. Kidnapping and “deprogramming” members of groups disparagingly labeled as “cults” was something that happened in the 20th century in the United States and Europe, until courts of law there banned the practice as illegal and several deprogrammers went to jail. The practice continued in Japan, but ultimately was declared illegal there, too.
우리는 이 모든 것을 이전에도 보았습니다. ‘이단’으로 폄훼하여 분류된 단체의 회원을 대상으로 한 납치와‘강제개종’은20세기 미국과 유럽에서 자행되어 해당 법원에서 이를 불법행위로 규정, 금지하고 몇몇 강제개종자를 감옥에 보낼 때까지 계속된 바 있습니다. 일본에서 그 행태가 지속되었으나 결국 일본에서도 불법으로 규정되었습니다.
South Korea may well be the last democratic country in the world where deprogramming is still tolerated, perhaps because the Korean ethos regards it as a “family matter” and believes that parents have authority on their children, even if they are adult and may be 30 or 40 years old. This, however, should not authorize parents to commit serious crimes.
아마도 대한민국이 민주주의 국가로는 강제개종이 여전히 용인되는 마지막 국가일 것입니다. 어쩌면 한국의 정서 상 이를'가족 문제'로 간주하고 자녀가 성인이 되어30세, 40세가 되어도 부모가 자녀에 대한 권한을 가진다고 생각하기 때문일 수 있습니다.그렇다고 해서 부모가 심각한 범죄를 저지르는 것을 허용해서는 안 됩니다.
Other groups are targeted too, but we are particularly concerned about members of Shincheonji, which reports 1,444 deprogrammings since 2003. Two members of Shincheonji, Ms Kim Sun-Hwa in 2007 and Ms Gu Ji-In in 2018 died during attempts at deprogramming. For Gu, this was the second deprogramming, after a previous attempt in 2016 had failed. Those involved in the deprogrammings claimed deaths were unrelated to the forced conversion process, but co-religionists believe otherwise. Even after Gu's death, more than 100 deprogrammings were reported. 
다른 단체도 피해 대상이 되었으나, 우리가 특히 우려하는 대상은2003년 이후로1,444 건의 강제개종이 보고된 바 있는 신천지예수교 교인들입니다. 2007년 김선화 씨와2018년 구지인 씨는 강제개종을 시도하는 과정에서 사망했습니다. 구 씨의 경우2016년 강제개종에 실패한 후 두 번째 강제개종 시도였습니다.강제개종 관련자들은 사망원인이 강제개종 과정과 무관하다고 주장했지만 같은 종교인들의 견해는 다릅니다. 구 씨의 사망 이후에도100건이 넘는 강제개종 사례가 보고되었습니다. 
Once again, theological controversies about Shincheonji are not the problem here. Everybody is free to criticize Shincheonji’s theology or proselytization strategies, and of course Shincheonji should also be free to criticize the theology of other churches. Kidnapping and false imprisonment, however, not to mention murder, are crimes.
여기서 신천지에 관한 신학적 논쟁이 현안이 아님을 다시 한 번 언급합니다. 신천지 신학이나 전도 전략에 대해서는 누구나 자유롭게 비판할 수 있으며 물론 신천지도 다른 교회의 신학을 비판할 자유가 있어야 합니다. 그러나 살인은 말할 것도 없고, 납치와 감금은 범죄입니다.
Deprogramming is also supported by hate speech going well beyond the normal boundaries of religious controversy and de-humanizing members of Shincheonji, thus justifying and preparing violence against them. Specialized institutions called “Cult Seminars” have a key role in propagating these forms of hate speech, while “Cult Counseling Offices” operated by some mainline Christian churches and pastors incite relatives to kidnap adult children and put them in touch with the deprogrammers.
또한 강제개종에는 정상적인 종교 논쟁의 범주를 한참 넘어서는 혐오발언과 신천지 교인에 대한 비인격적 취급이 뒷받침되어 해당 교인들을 대상으로 한 폭력을 정당화합니다. ‘이단세미나’라고 하는 특수한 기관은 이러한 혐오발언을 전파하는 핵심 역할을 담당하고 있으며, 일부 주류 개신교회 및 목회자들이 운영하는‘이단상담소’에서는 친족들을 부추겨 성인 자녀를 납치하여 강제개종목자와 접촉시키도록 합니다.
Dear President Moon, we ask your intervention in persuading the South Korean authorities that it is great time to investigate Cult Seminars and Cult Counseling Offices, act against hate speech, investigate in depth accusations of forcible deprogramming, put a stop to this obnoxious practice, and hold those responsible fully accountable. 
문재인 대통령님, 우리는 대한민국의 관련 당국에 지금이 이단세미나 및 이단상담소를 조사하고, 혐오발언에 대처하고, 강제개종에 대하여 제시된 심대한 고발 내용을 조사하고,이 추태를 근절하고, 관련자들에게 온전히 책임을 물을 때라는 것을 설득하는데 대통령께서 나서주실 것을 부탁드립니다. 
We know that you attach great importance to democratic values and human rights. The respect of human rights is the key element for the international reputation of a democratic country and its leaders. Those Shincheonji members who are kidnapped and abused are Korean citizens, women and men whose human rights are brutally violated. A statement on this matter was filed at the Forty-first Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, and attracted international attention. Should kidnappings and coercive conversions continue in South Korea, the attention of the international community will become more and more focused on these gross violations of basic human rights in South Korea, and the institutions of your country will be increasingly criticized. Your personal intervention is urgently needed.
문 대통령께서 민주적 가치와 인권을 매우 중요하게 생각하신다는 것을 알고 있습니다. 인권 존중은 민주 국가와 지도자들의 국제적 명망의 핵심 요소입니다.납치되어 학대당하는 신천지 구성원은 대한민국 국민이며,그들의 인권은 무자비하게 유린당했습니다. 제41차 유엔 인권이사회에 이 사안에 관한 성명서가 제출되었으며 국제적인 관심을 끌었습니다. 한국에서 납치와 강제 개종이 지속된다면, 국제 사회의 관심은 한국의 이러한 기본적 인권의 중대한 침해에 점점 더 집중 될 것이며, 귀국의 기관들에 대한 비판을 더하게 될 것입니다. 대통령님의 직접적인 개입이 시급합니다.
Asociación por la Defensa de la Tolerancia y los Derechos Humanos

CAP-LC – Coordination des Associations et des Particuliers pour la Liberté de Conscience

CESNUR – Center for Studies on New Religions

CLIMS – Centre de liaison et d’information concernant les mouvements spirituels 

EIFRF – European Interreligious Forum for Religious Freedom


FOB – European Federation for Freedom of Belief

FOREF – Forum for Religious Freedom Europe

Fundación para la Mejora de la Vida, la Cultura y la Sociedad

Gerard Noodt Foundation for Freedom of Religion or Belief

HRWF – Human Rights Without Frontiers 

LIREC – Center for Studies on Freedom of Belief, Religion and Conscience 

ORLIR – International Observatory of Religious Liberty of Refugees 

Osservatorio sul Pluralismo Religioso

Soteria International

Rédigé par EIFRF le Thursday, July 18th 2019 | Comments (0)

A New Direction for the European Union

Press Release - Faith and Freedom Summit II
(EIFRF is a member of the Faith and Freedom Summit Coalition)

A New Direction for the European Union
Religion or Belief
The EU Faith & Freedom Summit


For the second year in a row the Faith & Freedom Summit met on April 2 in the European Parliament, to forge the way forward with concerned European politicians, administrators, NGOs and individuals to ensure that the key fundamental human right of freedom of religion or belief is not left behind and reduced to a second-tier right. The well-attended Summit pointed out that right now this right given little importance within the European Union compared to other rights. The principle at stake is whether or not European countries and institutions will live up to their human rights commitments in the area of religion or belief in the same way it is insisting that countries outside the EU do.


One of the keynote speakers was the EU’s Special Envoy for the Promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief outside the EU, Jan Figel. He told the conference, “The credibility of the EU and Europe is at stake,”and that the EU needed to “face up” to the numerous cases of discrimination that occur against religious minorities within its own borders. He also supported the need for extending existing European instruments, such as his own office and that of the Parliament’s Intergroup on Freedom of Religion or Belief outside the EU to having a role within the EU itself. He also supported another proposal of the organisers to use the upcoming European elections in May as a perfect opportunity to raise awareness of the threat to freedom of religion or belief.

The Faith and Freedom Summit is a coalition of 19 NGOs which have come together to promote religious tolerance, particularly within the European Union. It is a non-partisan body with no political affiliation though it has been supported by the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe (ACRE) who have recognised the importance of this principle, as well as by MEPs from all over the political spectrum.

Also attending and speaking in support of the initiative were Kishan Manocha, Senior Advisor on Freedom of Religion and Belief, OSCE and Archbishop Thomas Schirrmacher, President of the International Society for Human Rights.

Bashy Quraichy, Secretary General of the European Muslim Initiative for Social Cohesion, told the conference that they are a “powerful movement against religious discrimination”and they appeal to the EU, especially the European Parliament, “to be more proactive in order to warn those countries who commit acts of oppression against religious minorities.” He added that he believes Europe needs to act in an “inclusive fashion” and not be “selective as to who to put pressure on and who not” whilst pointing out that populists and others were “spreading hatred” against Muslim communities, and noted that the number of hate crime incidents directed at Muslims had “jumped many fold…This, in turn, is breeding violence, murders and property damages.”


Martin Weightman, Director of the All Faiths Network, told participants that, “Government interference in religion or belief can be blatant or subtle. It can come in many forms from covert administrative blocks, delays and denials to overt legislative and policy statements that implement undue restrictions on religious expression or practice. Raising these issues within the EU institutions will not be easy but without any communication between all the relevant players – EU officials and politicians, belief groups and the wider public – then we go nowhere – or rather we go down.” 

The President of the Netherlands-based NGO the Gerard Noot Foundation, Hans Noot, told reporters that the aim of the EU’s policy should be to include minority groups, saying, “This applies not just to faith groups but all minorities, including refugees and the lesbian and gay community. We should be striving for a more inclusive society but, at present, minorities like asylum seekers and refugees are demonised and portrayed as the “bad boys” if anything goes wrong.”

Mr. Eric Roux, Vice-President of the European Office of the Church of Scientology for Public Affairs and Human Rights outlined the list of initiatives that the Summit have called for implementation: 
  • MEPs to sign a pledge supporting freedom of religion or belief
  • Extend the remit of the EU Special Envoy on Freedom of Religious Belief or belief outside the EU, to within the EU.
  • Parliamentary Intergroup to investigate and raise instances of discrimination based on religion or belief within the EU, at European Parliament.
  • FRA (Fundamental Rights Agency) task force to tackle the topic of discrimination.
  • Academics EU resources should finance a full research project carried out by academics already known and experienced in the area of discrimination based on religion or belief in the EU. 
  • Create an open platform gathering members of the FRA, members of the EU Parliament, civil society partners, members of the EU Commission, religious stakeholders, that will be in charge of monitoring discrimination based on religion or belief issues in EU Member states. 
  • Article 17 TFUE (Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to dialogue with religions and philosophical organisations) adequately manned task force in the EU Commission to implement article 17 TFUE
  • Create EU guidelines to protect EU citizens against discrimination based on religion or belief that will be approved and adopted by the Council.
  •  A Faith and Freedom Award to award MEPs and other worthy individuals that are active in promoting various aspects of freedom of religion or belief within the EU.

Other key speakers at the Summit were:
  • Kristina Arriaga de Bucholz (President - Oxford Society of Law and Religion and Commissioner of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom)
  • Willy Fautre (Director - Human Rights Without Frontiers International) 
  • Massimo Introvigne (scholar and President of CESNUR) 
  • Ms. Ines Mazarrasa (Directora Fundacion Pluralismo y Convivencia - Foundation Pluralism and Coexistence)
  • Laurentiu Rebega MEP 
  • Alfiaz Vaiya (Coordinator - European Parliament Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup)
  • Marco Ventura (Professor of Law, University of Siena)
  • Jan Zahradil MEP (President of ACRE)

The meeting ended with attendees agreeing to work on all the above initiatives and meet on a regular basis to implement them.


Rédigé par EIFRF le Tuesday, April 23rd 2019 | Comments (0)

Register to the Faith and Freedom Summit II
The Faith and Freedom Summit, a campaign for freedom of religion of belief in the EU run by a coalition of NGOs (including EIFRF), will have its second event on April 2, in the European Parliament. 

The announcement includes the following: 
"We strongly believe that EU citizens must enjoy a real freedom of religion or belief, at every level, and that this fundamental right is not given the importance it deserves in the EU institutions, and in the EU instruments to protect the various freedoms of EU citizens. That is what we will discuss on April 2, with you."

If you want to attend (limited seats), you need to register here:

Here you can see the description of the event which will gather some very interesting speakers:

You should be there!

And by the way, think to sign the pledge of the Faith and Freedom Summit if not yet done, with your name and title:
“I pledge that I will uphold and defend the freedom of conscience and religion of all individuals by rejecting and speaking out against bigotry, discrimination, harassment and violence; and so build a more equitable society for all.”

Rédigé par EIFRF le Thursday, March 14th 2019 | Comments (0)

NGOs write to international Govt leaders to alert on 45 reporters of Bitter Winter arrested in China
A group of NGOs, including EIFRF, wrote a joint letter to various international government leaders to alert them on the arrest of 45 reporters working for the online newspaper Bitter Winter, and calling them to action. The letter reads as follows:

Dr Ahmed Shaheed
UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion
Mrs Federica Mogherini
High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
Mrs Dunja Mijatović
Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe
Mr Stavros Lambrinidis
EU Special Representative (EUSR) for Human Rights
Mr Jan Figel
EU Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief
Mr David Kaye
UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression
Mrs Mairead McGuiness MEP
Vice President of the EU Parliament in charge of Implementation of Article 17 TFEU
Denis De Jong MEP
Co-chair of the European Parliament Intergroup on Freedom of Religion or Belief
Peter Van Dalen
Co-chair of the European Parliament Intergroup on Freedom of Religion or Belief
Brussels, the 21 January 2019
Dear Madam, dear Sir,
We write as an informal group of organizations and individuals who are scholars, religious leaders, human rights advocates and practitioners to express our deep concern about the fact that since August 2018, at least 45 Bitter Winter (a magazine on religious liberty and human rights in China) contributors in mainland China have been arrested for filming incidents of, or gathering news about, the CCP’s persecution of religious freedom and violation of human rights. Reporters are usually detained and interrogated on the charge of “divulging state secrets” or “involvement in infiltration by foreign forces.” Some reporters have been sent to “legal education centres” to undergo mandatory indoctrination, while others have been tortured and abused.
We are a truly multi-faith group, representing a high degree of diversity. While there is very little we agree on theologically, or politically, we all agree on the importance of religious freedom for all faiths and none. It strengthens cultures and provides the foundation for stable democracies and their components, including civil society, economic growth, and social harmony. As such, it is also the ultimate counter-terrorism weapon, pre-emptively undermining religious extremism.
There is one enemy totalitarian regimes fear more than any else: a free press. They know they should use all means to prevent their wrongdoings from being exposed internationally by free media.
Bitter Winter ( is a daily magazine on religious liberty and human rights in China, published since May 2018 in eight languages, including Chinese, by the respected Italian academic centre CESNUR (Centre for Studies on New Religions).
Since CESNUR is the oldest (it was founded in 1988) and largest international network of scholars of new religions, the magazine covers the persecution of both mainline religion and new religious movements such as The Church of Almighty God and Falun Gong in China. The magazine relies on an extensive network of Chinese reporters willing to risk their liberty to send news, photographs, and videos abroad. Bitter Winterachieved international fame when it managed to smuggle out of China several exclusive videos  (1) shot inside the “transformation through education” camps where one million Uyghur and other Muslims are detained.
Obviously, Bitter Winter did not go unnoticed to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The magazine itself published two confidential documents (2) where the CCP asks the State Security to crack down on those who send information to Bitter Winter from China.
The first Bitter Winterreporters were arrested in July, but many more were arrested in the last month. The magazine reports that 45 of its journalists are in jail, and that it has received credible information that some have been tortured to compel them to disclose the names of other reporters involved in the network. The reporter who shot the videos in the Uyghur camps “disappeared,” and precedents in China induce to fear the worst.
We call on democratic governmental authorities, international organizations, and media to ask China to immediately release the arbitrarily detained Bitter Winter reporters, and to comply with the international obligations it has freely subscribed about human rights and freedom of the media.

Ivan Arjona
President - European Office of the Church of Scientology for Public Affairs and Human Rights
Veysel Filiz
Spokesperson – EMISCO
Russel Moore
President – Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
Bashy Quraichy
Secretary General- EMISCO
Jianli Yang
Founder and President - Citizen Power Initiatives for China

Rédigé par EIFRF le Monday, January 21st 2019 | Comments (0)

On December 11, 2018 the US State department placed Russia on a Special Watch List for governments that have engaged in or tolerated “severe violations of religious freedom."

US State Dept places Russia on Special Watch List for severe violations of religious freedom
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced it in a press release that can be found here:, with these words:
"In far too many places across the globe, individuals continue to face harassment, arrests, or even death for simply living their lives in accordance with their beliefs. The United States will not stand by as spectators in the face of such oppression. Protecting and promoting international religious freedom is a top foreign policy priority of the Trump Administration. In July, I hosted the first-ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, which brought together some 85 likeminded governments and more than 400 civil society organizations to harness global attention and motivate forceful action to advance respect for the human right of religious freedom."

Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, during his congressional testimony, explained why Russia was put on the list:
“Russia is trending in the wrong direction a series of things, arbitrary arrests and imprisonment particularly of Jehovah’s Witnesses that were banned, widespread suppression of religious expression and in practice they have a 2016 law criminalizing illegal missionary activities that have included 156 cases reported by NGO’s in 2017 starting with Salvation Army, Pentecostals, Jehovah Witnesses, of course, Baptists, the Administrative Center of the new Apostolic Church, the Presbyterian Church, the Lutheran Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Ukrainian Reform Orthodox Church, and the Russian Orthodox Church abroad, along with a series of Muslim groups and they banned the reading of the Turkish Islamic theologian Said Nursi.  Under a distorted interpretation of its extremists laws they have 145 currently jailed prisoners for religious beliefs, 106 of which are Muslims, they particularly as well go after the Church of Scientology and those are the reasons we’re put them on the special watch list.  Along with other regions as well that we could talk about.”

You can find a video of this testimony here:, and the above excerpt can be listened to at 43:01.

Rédigé par EIFRF le Saturday, December 15th 2018 | Comments (0)

Professor Marco Ventura is the Director of the Centre for Religious Studies at Bruno Kessler Foundation, full professor with tenure at the Department of Law of the University of Siena and member of the experts panel on Freedom of Religion of the OSCE. On October 2, he intervened at the conference "Religious life of Russian regions and prevention of religious extremism", which took place in St Petersburg, Russia. The conference was organized by the Russian Association of Religion Researchers (RARR), the Russian association of religious freedom (St. Petersburg office), the Educational scientific center of studying of religions of the Russian State Humanitarian University (Moscow), the St. Petersburg center of theological researches and the Research center of theological and ethnopolitical researches of the Leningrad State University of A.S. Pushkin. EIFRF participated to the conference. Here is the content of Marco Ventura's speech:

St Petersburg Conference on Religious life of Russian regions and prevention of religious extremism - Speech by Marco Ventura
Freedom of Religion or Belief in the OSCE Region
The Value and Rights of Minority Believers
International Scientific and Practical Conference
“Religious life of Russian regions and prevention of religious extremism”
St Petersburg
2 October 2018
1. European minority believers
2. Their value
3. Their rights
This presentation is concerned with minority believers and their freedom in the OSCE region and more specifically with extremism-based or tradition-based limitations of minorities’ freedom. For the purpose of this presentation Four factors combine in making majorities anxious about religious or belief minority individuals and their communities. First, global cultural exchange and transformation are resented as threatening identities and traditions. Second, global politics challenge national sovereignty in general and the extent and efficiency of domestic rule, thus questioning human rights as universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated, and hindering the transition to a viable combination of supranational and national/local governance and justice. Third, crisis in the economy and security encourages stigmatisation of minorities as responsible for the crisis and as an obstacle to peace and development. Fourth, innovation in science and technology, most of all in information technology and artificial intelligence, empowers majorities to an unprecedented degree, while increasing their concern that digital communication will make minorities more connected internationally and thus more powerful. The Wall Street Journal has recently denounced the pervasive use by local authorities of technologies of facial recognition and scanning in the Chinese autonomous region of Xinjiang, resulting in the worrying oppression of Muslim Uyghurs.
Against this background, I will argue first that religious or belief minorities represent a crucial value for the OSCE region, to be acknowledged, protected and promoted, and second that inherent and instrumental to such value are minority rights, both general and freedom of religion or belief specific. I will then conclude on the interdependence of the value and rights of minorities in Europe.
1. Minority believers in Europe.
We have celebrated this year the 25th anniversary of the European Court of Human Rights Kokkinakis decision of 1993, the first ever whereby a State signatory of the European Convention of Human Rights has been found in violation of article 9 ECHR. In the decision, judges made the following seminal point applicable to both our national communities and our transnational community: ‘as enshrined in Article 9, freedom of thought, conscience and religion is one of the foundations of a "democratic society" within the meaning of the Convention. It is, in its religious dimension, one of the most vital elements that go to make up the identity of believers and their conception of life, but it is also a precious asset for atheists, agnostics, sceptics and the unconcerned. The pluralism indissociable from a democratic society, which has been dearly won over the centuries, depends on it (ECtHR, Kokkinakis v. Greece, 1993, at para 31). This text, and the related principle, capture the historical and conceptual dimension of freedom of religion or belief for all in Europe. Historically, and descriptively, the very identity of Europe as well as of its national and local components is based on pluralism of religion or belief in a democratic society. Conceptually, and prescriptively, no democratic society can exist, if one of its foundations, freedom of religion or belief, is not granted to all. As a consequence, minority believers are to be understood as an indispensable part of the European equation, historically and conceptually, descriptively and prescriptively.
2. Their value.
The value of minorities is not limited to some of them, but extends to all, big and small, more or less widespread, old or new. Orthodox Christians of the various Patriarchates and autocephalous churches, pre-Calcedonian churches, Roman Catholics and Protestants, Jewish of different schools, Sunni and Shia, Ahmadi and Alevi, Buddhists and Hindus of various traditions, Sikh and Baha’is belong to the same European symphony, as do Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baptists and Adventists, Scientologists and Pentecostals. All have been recognised by European institutions, and the Court of Strasbourg.
Minority believers and their communities represent a crucial value for Europe as understood in the European Convention of human rights and other international and pan-European instruments, on two accounts. First, they are indispensable to a plural, diverse and dynamic European society. Second, they are necessary to a rich and flourishing religious environment. On both accounts, the value of minorities is not limited to some of them, but extends to all, big and small, more or less widespread, old or new. Orthodox Christians of the various Patriarchates and autocephalous churches, pre-Calcedonian churches, Roman Catholics and Protestants, Jewish of different schools, Sunni and Shia, Ahmadi and Alevi, Buddhists and Hindus of various traditions, Sikh and Baha’is belong to the same European symphony, as do Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baptists and Adventists, Scientologists and Pentecostals. All have been recognised by European institutions, and the Court of Strasbourg. In the European perspective, the value of minorities is inextricably linked to the value of majorities, since all majorities in a given land are minorities elsewhere. From such values follows a process of mutual learning. Minorities invite majorities to recognise and welcome their own internal diversity and the diversity of society. Majorities invite minorities to contribute to the common good and the harmony of society. The ultimate value of minority believers is thus that in multiple ways they are precious, and indispensable actors of renewal, witnessing and contributing to the capacity of the individuals and communities in the OSCE region to perpetuate traditions and identities through a sensible process of cultural and religious change. Such renewal is not only compatible with religious traditions, but is a peculiar contribution of them, based as it is on a careful, gradual, incremental process of change balancing traditions and modernity. In fact, such renewal turns out to be an inspiration for our innovation-driven society, whereas majority and minority believers together have a lot to contribute to how to best draw the line between good and bad change, desirable and undesirable change.
3. Their rights.
Minority believers do have rights, individual, collective and institutional. Some rights are not specific to religion or belief. Belonging to this category is the right not to be limited in the personal freedom, private life and property without an objective and strict justification according to the terms of international law in general and the European Convention of Human Rights in particular. Defence rights and the right to a fair trial are also crucial rights for minority believers. Some rights are indeed specific to freedom of religion or belief as a multi-faceted human right embracing individual, collective, institutional, educative and communicative dimensions. Such right is expressly recognized in international and regional standards and OSCE commitments. Freedom of religion or belief is a right belonging to all human beings, men and women, whether theistic, non-theistic, atheistic or other believers. It includes the freedom of everyone to manifest their religion or belief, individually or in community with others, in public or in private, through worship, teaching, practice and observance. Under international law, “security” or “national security” is not recognized as a permissible ground for restricting the manifestation of freedom of religion or belief. Under freedom of religion or belief, communities are protected against targeting, discrimination and persecution. In particular religious or belief communities can not be declared criminal organizations and outlawed simply because of the criminal conviction of one or more members; more generally, States should not sanction religious or belief communities for the criminal conduct of individuals or groups, or target individuals or groups because of their religion or belief, but should address the specific unlawful activity of individuals or groups. Also States sanction religious or belief communities by reference to concepts such as “extremism” or “radicalization” which, given their imprecise nature and lack of a commonly accepted definition, render them open to different interpretations and arbitrariness in their application. The legal prohibition and sanctioning of activities carried out by unregistered religious or belief communities is also incompatible with international standards and OSCE commitments.
The correlation between rights and value is not one of hierarchy, or priority. Minority believers do not possess rights because of and insofar as they have value. Rights are inherent to them. Rather the correlation between value and rights should be seen as one of mutual enrichment and strengthening. This is all the more key, and relevant, for traditional majorities in our respective countries. Whenever and wherever minority believers are denied acknowledgment of their value and protection of their rights, it is the very essence of what means to be European to be at risk, and the very legacy of what Europeans, and European nations and peoples conquered over the centuries.

Rédigé par EIFRF le Wednesday, October 3rd 2018 | Comments (0)

1 2 3 4 5 » ... 30