European Interreligious Forum For Religious Freedom
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On behalf of EMISCO, European Muslim Initiative for Social Cohesion, its Secretary General Bashy Quraishy has written to the President of Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Mrs Anne Brasseur, to alert her on the danger of the report written by Mr Rudy Salles "The protection of minors against excesses of sects", that will be voted by the Assembly on the 10th of April 2014. According to EMISCO, "this report as well as the draft resolution and recommendation it contains, are violating basic fundamental rights standards that the Council is supposed to uphold and promote". Here is the content of the letter:

European Muslim Initiative alerts on Rudy Salle's report against religious minorities at PACE
Dear Sir/Madam,
EMISCO is a gathering of scholars, community workers and NGOs from various Muslim communities in Europe to participate in, contribute to and foster a better atmosphere of cooperation for the common good of all citizens and residents in the Europe. We are strongly committed to the upholding of human rights and shared values.
It is in this context, we would like to draw your attention on the report “The protection of minors against excesses of sects” that has been adopted by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the PACE on Monday March 3 in Paris, and is expected to be voted upon by the Assembly in the April plenary session.
This report, at a first glance, seems to be designed to protect children, and for us at EMISCO, the welfare of all children, including ethnic and religious minorities – their opportunities for a good education and loving up bringing is essential for the continuation of a harmonious society.
However, we would like to express our concern about the way this report is formulated, and we are not totally in agreement to its real purpose.
The Council of Europe has always been a strong body to protect human rights, yet it appears that this report as well as the draft resolution and recommendation it contains, are violating basic fundamental rights standards that the Council is supposed to uphold and promote.
First of all, the use of the word “sect”, a very pejorative word, is used in some western and eastern European countries to stigmatize minority religions or groups and create a narrative of “good” and “bad” religions. We should not divide people according to their religions. We think there are good people and there are nasty ones in all societies and religions. There is no religion, which has a patent on goodness and nobility, and on the other side, no one and no religious group should be treated differently or demonized just because its beliefs are new or different. It should not be stigmatized in any manner such as being labelled as a “sect”.
The French agency MIVILUDES has been strongly criticized since years for the climate of intolerance that it instils in the French society toward religious minorities. This should not be allowed to spread in the rest of Europe.
Nevertheless, it is MIVILUDES, and its extension FECRIS (FECRIS is an “NGO” funded entirely by the French government), that the Rapporteur Rudy Salles has chosen as his main sources of information for writing his report. Of course they cannot be considered as impartial spectators when dealing with the phenomenon of religious minorities.
The rapporteur did not conduct an impartial research and in fact ignores all the previous and current works on this topic that are easily available. It seems that they have been ignored on purpose, as every piece of work that have been done by real experts on human rights issues and experts on religious issues stress the fact that no distinction should be made by States between “good” and “bad” religions, “sects” and “traditional religions”, etc., as these distinctions are based on opinions and always lead to dangerous discrimination. The first people to suffer from such discrimination and stigmatization are the children themselves, when they or their parents belong to a “non-­‐ traditional” faith labelled as “sect”.
We would also like to point out that the European Union has recently issued “guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief”, which recalls that freedom of Religion or Belief “are universal and are to be respected on a non-­ discriminatory basis”. These guidelines contain: “10. In line with these provisions, the EU has recalled "freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief, applies equally to all persons. It is a fundamental freedom that includes all religions or beliefs, including those that have not been traditionally practised in a particular country, the beliefs of persons belonging to religious minorities, as well as non-­theistic and atheistic beliefs.”
In the past, the parliamentary assembly had adopted the views of Mr Nastase’s Report regarding the word “sect”. The report pointed out the danger of using this word and finally recommended:
“ In reality, the only means of avoiding this trap is to eschew any kind of classification of the beliefs concerned as non-­religious beliefs or as religions. This brings us to the third and final possible course, which in our view is the only acceptable one. It allows us to avoid the pitfalls outlined above by adopting a more descriptive approach to the world of sects and by concentrating not on the classification of beliefs but on the acts committed in the name or under cover of these beliefs. Hence we can refer to groups of a “religious, spiritual or esoteric” nature. Thus the various facets of beliefs are accommodated in a general formula which is not negative per se.”
At least, by applying this recommendation as it had been done in 1999, the Assembly would avoid the discrimination that will otherwise stem from the Rudy Salles’ report as it is now. Nevertheless the measures that are proposed in the resolution still would be contrary to fundamental human rights policies.
These are the reasons why we are expressing our strong concern about this report and we encourage the members of the Assembly either to send that report back to Commission to be reworded in order to comply with human rights standards, or to reject the resolution, or, at the very least, to amend it so it becomes acceptable as regards to the commitments of the member states of the Council of Europe.
Kind regards, 
Bashy Quraishy
Secretary General 

Download the original letter to Mrs Brasseur from EMISCO:

emisco_to_coe.pdf EMISCO to COE.pdf  (222.36 KB)

Rédigé par EIFRF le Saturday, March 29th 2014 | Comments (0)

Here is the official statement of the Federation of Evangelical Religious Entities of Spain


Spanish evangelical federation stands up against Rudy Salles' report at PACE
The Federation of Evangelical Religious Entities of Spain through this letter expresses its concern about the upcoming vote that will take place at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) regarding the Report adopted by the Committee of Legal Affairs and Human Rights based on a motion presented by the Rapporteur Mr. Rudy Salles entitled: “The Protection of Minors Against Excesses of Sects”.

Our Federation is against and will always condemn any illegal behavior or abuse of a minor or person of legal age, be it perpetrated by a religious group or person or anyone else. However, we fear the possibility that Resolutions like this one that will be voted on in the near future could be used to legitimize abusive and discriminatory interventions by the States in the sphere of religious freedom and freedom of conscience of the citizens. Some Human Rights organizations have reported on the increasing religious intolerance in Europe in the last 10 years. They have also alerted the public that we need to be especially careful regarding regulations and initiatives of some States which incriminate sects and which have become repressive measures for the manifestation of ideas and behaviors that deviate from commonly accepted ones, with the risk of punishing every sort of proselytism or dissemination of the beliefs, negating or restricting the minorities from their autonomy of their personality and from their freedom of belief and conscience.

Hereinafter, we point out in a summarized way, some of the most worrying aspects about the motion intended for approval at the Parliamentarian Assembly:

1.    There are doubts about the neutrality, impartiality and objectivity of the Rapporteur of the motion, Mr. Rudy Salles. There are complaints about it, which should be valued and examined, because they warn that the aim and objective of the Rapporteur could be not the protection of minors, but to establish in Europe the same control system of sects that exists in France, a system that has been very controversial and that moreover comes from a very specific reality, the French one, and which has nothing to do with the reality that exists in other European countries. Therefore, it is about a system that it is not easily transportable to the European sphere. We consider that it is needed to examine this matter to avoid that the protection of minors (something on which everybody agrees) is not in reality a mere excuse to, in practice, adopt measures that may unjustifiably restrain and limit religious freedom.

2.    The proposed motion uses the word “sect” in a pejorative way, equaling this concept to “destructive sect”. The utilization of this concept is extremely delicate.
In the first place, it is needed to highlight that there is no consensus about the concept of sect and there is no scientific or objective definition of it. In fact, the concept of sect has been frequently used by majorities to fight and combat minorities, and for this reason the position of the European institutions, including the European Court of Human Rights, has been to not give a definition of this concept.

In second place, and even more serious, is the fact that the motion equates sects with “new religious movements” and “minority religions”. The United Nations has clearly declared that religious discrimination based on stigmatization of minority religions as sects is unacceptable. Even the Council of Europe has stated on different occasions that the word “sect” has taken an extremely pejorative connotation, because it stigmatizes in the eyes of the public the groups that are referred to with this word. The labeling of minority religions as sects can result in serious consequences due to stigmatizing them and putting them under the suspicions of criminal behaviors. This could become a step backward in all the work that has been done to date on the subject of religious freedom and the social integration of minorities and in all the efforts that have been done to normalize and visibilize existing religious pluralism in Europe.

3.    The existence of people who, under the protection of religious freedom, infringe the law in a very serious way is an indisputable reality, and we understand solutions to these situations must be sought. Notwithstanding this, we consider that there are enough criminal regulations (which could be improved) to punish criminal behavior that affects minors. In Spain for example, there is the possibility that a specific group could be declared an illegal association; our Criminal Code covers crimes against physical and moral integrity, etc. We do not consider that it is neither needed nor advisable to adopt sect control and repression measures, especially when there is no consensus about this concept and when these are being compared, as already said, to new religious movements and religious minorities.
In virtue of the above,

WE REQUEST that after examining the resolution proposed by the Committee of Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Council of Europe, analyzing the objectives sought with the proposed measures and the consequences that those could have against freedom of religion, the no discrimination for religious reasons and the normalization of the diversity and the religious pluralism of Europe, to vote against the motion “The Protection of children against the excesses of sects” at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
In Madrid, March 24th 2014

Rédigé par EIFRF le Saturday, March 29th 2014 | Comments (0)

Considerazioni sulla proposta di Rudy Salles in PACE
Nella ideologia degli Stati europei e nella visione politica degli stessi è punto di principio non negoziabile la garanzia del diritto di ogni individuo di considerare lo Stato di appartenenza quale casa comune dei credenti di tutte le fedi e dei non credenti.

Non è consentita discriminazione alcuna del cittadino per la sua fede o la sua non fede.

Ogni Stato deve impedire a chiunque di perseguitare o discriminare taluno per ragioni di fede religiosa.

A tale diritto non negoziabile fa da corollario necessario il fatto che lo Stato debba proteggere, accanto alla libertà di coscienza, anche la libertà di culto e di espressione; lo Stato debba permettere a tutti di:

a) scegliere un’opzione religiosa;

b) non scegliere un’opzione spirituale o religiosa;

c) cambiare il credo religioso;

d) rinunciare al credo religioso.

Soltanto in tale quadro generale possono la legislazione singola degli Stati o le direttive europee operare senza incorrere nella violazione dei diritti dell’uomo che impongono la sussistenza di categorie di diritti non negoziabili.

Il termine “setta religiosa” ha assunto un significato negativo e gli appartenenti al gruppo sono guardati con sospetto.

Già nella religione cristiana i primi aderenti furono qualificati setta e lungamente e atrocemente perseguitati.

Nella realtà, la cosiddetta setta ha sempre rappresentato una minoranza che si distingue dal pensiero della maggioranza su una determinata concezione, nel caso che ci riguarda religiosa.

Nella concezione dello Stato non può non considerarsi che lo stesso, che si basa su un contratto sociale sottostante, per sua natura sia soggetto a continue evoluzioni e mutamenti.

Muovendo dal principio del contratto sociale in divenire, è indubitabile che i singoli Stati e la Comunità Europea, tendano a comporre le singole fedi in un accettabile compromesso di coesistenza.

La difesa della verità di fede professata da una singola religione è parte integrante e ineludibile di democratica e paritetica convivenza.

La espressione verso l’esterno della propria fede è intangibile diritto che deriva dalla libertà di pensiero.

Compito di uno Stato non è quello di accertare da quale parte stia la verità: quella professata dal gruppo A o quella professata dal gruppo B?

Appartiene al potere politico il dovere di contemperare le varie posizioni con lo scegliere dei regolamenti condivisi e non lesivi dei principi garantiti dalla dichiarazione dei diritti dell’uomo.

Spesso per allarmismi, pur scientificamente inconsistenti, si profilano timori quali il “lavaggio del cervello” o si qualificano taluni gruppi religiosi come psico-setta.

Tali impostazioni sono prive di qualsiasi sostegno scientifico e si esternano attraverso tentativi di soppressione nei confronti di taluni individui, soppressioni che assumono atteggiamenti violenti o di parvenza legale.

Peccato non è sinonimo di reato e le leggi non possono assumere la natura di verità assoluta, consistendo la loro natura nell’emissione di regole di convivenza.

Nessuno può imporre una fede, tutti devono rispettare i convincimenti religiosi degli altri.

Il Consiglio d’Europa, per come anche richiamato da Rudy Salles, ebbe ad emettere delle raccomandazioni nell’anno 1992 e nell’anno 1999.

Da tali raccomandazioni si evince che il Consiglio d’Europa ha ritenuto non necessaria una legislazione specifica sui fenomeni settari in quanto in contrasto con l’art. 9 della Convenzione europea dei diritti dell’uomo e delle libertà fondamentali.

Allorquando nel 1999 ebbe ad interessarsi nuovamente dell’argomento ribadì il contenuto della raccomandazione n.1/78 del 1992.

Gli argomenti e le proposte del Sig. Rudy Salles, attraverso la menzione di tutela dei minori, contrastano con la impostazione tenuta sull’argomento dal Consiglio d’Europa e tendono a ledere diritti non negoziabili dell’individuo.


a) non è necessario raccogliere informazioni su casi di abusi da parte delle sette.

La natura degli abusi, che dovrebbe consistere in influenza negativa sui minori, è indeterminata e generica.

Gli abusi che hanno natura di reato sono già puniti da leggi esistenti nei singoli Stati.

b) Le informazioni sui movimenti di carattere religioso contrastano con gli elementari principi della libertà di ciascun individuo, libertà garantita a livello nazionale e a livello comunitario.

c) Si può concordare sull’educazione scolastica riguardante la storia delle religioni.

d) Eguale considerazione positiva può esprimersi sul rispetto della scuola dell’obbligo.

e) Non è aderente ai principi comunitari la creazione di uno Stato di polizia che riguardi il fenomeno delle cosiddette sette; la verifica degli abusi è già esistente e sanzionata dalle leggi dei singoli Stati.

f) L’accenno alla debolezza psicologico-fisica dell’individuo che consente abusi riguarda condotta difficilmente accertabile; condotta che dà adito ad abusi di giudizio e che da tutti gli Stati viene esclusa per la sua indeterminatezza intrinseca.

L’ammissione come parte civile di associazione urta contro il principio di coesistenza di idee diverse.

La richiesta di danni da parte di associazioni, parti civili, è inammissibile perché dagli eventuali processi per reati commessi dalle cosiddette sette non deriva alle associazioni danno immediato e diretto.

g) Del tutto inutili sono le spese finanziarie per la costituzione di enti in quanto in ciascuno Stato vi è già un organo preposto a ricercare e condannare qualsiasi abuso.

h) Ogni religione ha un impatto sull’individuo che la pratica.

La creazione di gruppi di studio su gruppi considerati settari è inutile ed in contrasto con i principi dello Stato democratico e laico.

Rédigé par Pietro Nocita le Saturday, March 29th 2014 | Comments (2)

The Chairman of the Board of the Institute on Religion and Public Policy has written a letter to the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in order to point out the great danger of a report drafted by Rudy Salles, French member and rapporteur at PACE, as well as the fact that the rapporteur appears as having been instructed in adopting policies and actions by French MIVILUDES in violation of the PACE Code of Conduct for Rapporteurs.

The Institute on Religion and Public Policy stands against discriminatory resolution at Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
Madame Anne Brasseur
President, Parliamentary Assembly Council of Europe
Palais de l’ Europe
67075 Strasbourg Cedex

March 26, 2014

Dear Madame President:
The Institute on Religion and Public Policy is a non-partisan, inter-religious international organization dedicated to encourage open dialogue and shape public participation in policy of the global community of faith. The Institute works with government policymakers, religious leaders, community leaders, academics and NGOs in order to protect and promote fundamental rights, especially religious freedom.
We are writing to express our serious concern regarding the Report written by French Rapporteur Rudy Salles, entitled “The Protection of Minors against Excesses of Sects”, and the accompanying Resolution and Recommendations that are going to be voted on at the second part of the plenary session in April 2014.
1. The Report Advocates Policies That Contravene International Human Rights Standards
In our opinion, the Resolution and Recommendations fall far short of meeting international human rights standards regarding religious freedom, tolerance and pluralism that the Council of Europe has long stood for.
Protecting children is, of course, of paramount importance. However, adoption of the Resolution and Recommendations will not protect the rights of children. Instead, it will endanger those rights and the rights of parents to raise their children in accordance with their religious beliefs and association, a right protected by Article 2 of Protocol N°
1 to the European Convention on Human Rights which provides:
No person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.
This right is also protected under Article 18.4 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 14.1 of the international Convention on the Rights of the Child. Yet, the Report ignores this right and adopts the presumption that parents of minority faiths should have not have the right to raise children according to their religious beliefs.
Unfortunately, the Report focuses exclusively on selective and biased information solely from sources supporting repressive actions against minority religions, which in turn infringes on fundamental freedoms and stimulates hostility by stigmatizing targeted groups. As such, the Report does a disservice to the extensive efforts of the Council in other areas to combat intolerance and foster pluralism in Europe.
Sweeping generalizations, vague and unsupported allegations, and one-sided information from biased sources never constitute the “objective and reasonable justification” required for legal restrictions on the manifestation of religion pursuant to Article 9(2) of the ECHR. Moreover, isolated instances never justify general restrictions against a group. Yet, the Report is rife with such allegations and information, rendering its conclusions and recommendations suspect.
For example, the Resolution states that “the phenomenon of excesses of sects affecting minors is ever more present in Europe”. Yet, there is no concrete evidence offered to support this astounding statement. Indeed, the evidence that does exist proves the opposite. Case in point: the 2013 Netherlands Parliament Study finding that minority faiths pose no danger to public order or health.(
The Report represents an attempt by the French Rapporteur to export the controversial and often internationally criticized French policy towards minority faiths derogatorily referred to as “sects”, policies that do not comport with the approach of the vast majority of countries in the Council of Europe.
In spite of the principles of non-discrimination and equal treatment, the French government has determined to arbitrarily classify religious groups into two separate categories: 1) religions viewed as law-abiding and beneficial to society; and 2) "sects" viewed as dangerous to society, which are the targets of oppressive and discriminatory measures, and which the government declares must be "fought" against.
There is no rational justification for such classification. Indeed, classifying religious groups into “religions” and “sects” is itself a violation of religious human rights standards. It is impermissible and arbitrary for the government to confer benefits on groups it classifies as “religions” while denying benefits and enacting oppressive measures against groups it classifies as “sects.” The United Nations, religious experts, and UN treaty-based bodies have consistently found that the expression "religion or belief," as well as the individual terms "religion" and "belief," must be construed broadly to include non-traditional religions and all forms of belief.
One other recommendation in direct violation of human rights standards is the call for “awareness sessions” for judges on the issue of “sects” even though the UN Human Rights Committee, in its 1996 Concluding Observations Regarding Germany, recommended that such sessions be discontinued. Likewise, such sessions would violated the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe Recommendation CM/Rec (2010)12 to member states on judges: independence, efficiency and responsibilities, which states in § 57, that judicial training programs must “meet the requirements of openness, competence and impartiality inherent in judicial office".
2. Mr. Salles is Neither Neutral Nor Impartial as Required By the PACE Code of Conduct for Rapporteurs
Rules 1.1.1. 1.1.2 and 1.1.4 of the PACE Code of Conduct require that Rapporteurs be neutral and impartial on matters they introduce.
Mr Salles is neither neutral nor impartial as detailed in the submissions on this subject filed by the Forum for Religious Freedom Europe (FOREF) and by Coordination of Associations and People for Freedom of Conscience (CAPLC), which the Institute supports.
Mr. Salles is an active advocate and proponent of the policies he promotes in his Report.
• Mr. Salles was appointed to the Board of MIVILUDES in 2012.
• The former President of MIVILUDES, Georges Fenech, has referred to Mr. Salles as a “pioneer of the anti-sect fight in France”.
• When Mr. Salles was appointed as Rapporteur, he made a joint statement to the media with Mr. Fenech, announcing the appointment and noting that one of his goals was to create a European Observatory on “sects”, a European MIVILUDES.
The facts evidence a woeful lack of impartiality and also provide the appearance that the Rapporteur was being instructed in adopting policies and actions by MIVILUDES in violation of the Code.
MIVILUDES has been involved in targeting many religious groups, including Catholic groups in France in the past. A small Catholic community in the East of France, Amour et Miséricorde (Love and Mercy), which used to gather around its founder who had visions of the Virgin Mary every month, announced its dissolution after a “visit” by MIVILUDES. Newspaper Le Progrès reported on 18 December 2008:
Dominique Balestrat, owner of the land on which the community was living, who has been himself a member of the group for ten years, feels incomprehension and sadness. He says: “We welcomed Georges Fenech, he said he was not coming for an investigation but only to meet with us... He used the media to crush us when there is nothing to crush. We were a dozen people here. We are not a sect. We are Catholics who wanted to live in community”.
The inherent bias of the Report is graphically illustrated by the Report’s premise that further measures targeting minority faiths designated as “sects” are necessary at this juncture. This is a remarkable statement because it is not supported by any evidence and it is directly contradicted by a host of human rights reports from highly respected organizations on the subject. In reality, quite the opposite is true. The acclaimed University of Essex Human Rights Centre 1997 study on the subject of freedom of religion finds, after conducting extremely detailed and exhaustive research on the topic, that new religions are a recurring target of discrimination in Europe:
“Freedom of religion therefore is not to be interpreted narrowly by states, for example, to mean traditional world religions only. New religions or religious minorities are entitled to equal protection. This principle is of particular importance in light of the evidence reflected in the Country entries, including those of the European section, revealing that new religious movements are a recurring target for discrimination or repression.”
The Institute is of the opinion that the Report, Resolution and Recommendations contravene accepted human rights standards in the Council of Europe. The Report also contravenes the PACE Code of Conduct for Rapporteurs as it is neither neutral nor impartial. Therefore, we urge that it not be endorsed by PACE and that the rights of parents and their children to religious freedom and religious tolerance be respected.
Joseph Grieboski 
Chairman of the Board

Download the original letter:

Rédigé par EIFRF le Thursday, March 27th 2014 | Comments (0)

The President of the Islam Community of German Speaking Muslims & Friends of the Islam e.V. has sent a letter to the President of he Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Mrs Anne Brasseur, to alert her about a report entitled "protecting minors against the excesses of sects", drafted by French member of PACE Rudy Salles. For him: "this report is obviously not aimed at protecting children, but only at targeting religious minorities in Europe, without bringing any evidence that there would be more excesses toward children within religious minorities than within any other group, including mainstream religions."

The President of the Islam Community of German Speaking Muslims alerts President of PACE on "sects" issue
Madam Anne Brasseur

 of the Parliamentary
Assembly of the Council of Europe
Avenue de l’Europe

67075 Strasbourg Cedex

Berlin, 22nd of March 2014
Dear Madam President Brasseur,
On behalf of the “Islamische Gemeinschaft deutschsprachiger Muslime & Freunde des Islam Berlin e.V.” (Islam Community of German Speaking Muslims & Friends of the Islam e.V.) I would like to express my strong concern as regards the report drafted by Mr Rudy Salles “The protection of minors against excesses of sects”, and the resolution and recommendation that will be voted upon the 10th of April in Strasbourg, during the plenary session of the Assembly. We think that this report does not reflects the core principles of the Council of Europe and should be sent back to Committee for further research and work in adequacy with human rights international law.
We think that protecting children from any excess is valuable and should be encouraged, in every religious community, but also in any place in Europe and abroad.
Unfortunately this report is obviously not aimed at protecting children, but only at targeting religious minorities in Europe, without bringing any evidence that there would be more excesses toward children within religious minorities than within any other group, including mainstream religions.
It is also obvious that the effect of the resolution, if voted and applied, would be to exalt all the discrimination that occur against religious minorities in Europe, and to deny the right of parents to ensure education and teaching of their children in conformity with their own convictions, as soon as these parents are belonging to religious communities labeled as “sects”. This is not based on the best interest of the child, but only on religious affiliation matters.
The word “sect” has no legal definition, as it is pointed out in the report, and should not be used as there is already a great number of international human rights bodies, including the Council of Europe itself, that have analyzed that the use of this word is discriminatory and not convenient for a serious piece of work.
The report is very biased and its primary sources are the internationally disparaged MIVILUDES and the FECRIS. FECRIS has engaged since long time in spreading rumours and hate speech against religious beliefs throughout Europe, associating sometimes with mainstream religions to target minorities.
Vice President of FECRIS, Mr. Alexander Dvorkin, recently gave lectures on Islam with several hostile and incorrect statements about the Koran and the prophet Mohammad. He is a Russian citizen who is actively involved with the Russian Orthodox Church. In March 1992, he was hired by the Department for Religious Education and Catechesis of the Moscow Patriarchate to address the problem of “sects” surging in Russia. He created and is the Director of FECRIS’ member association in Russia, the St. Irenaeus of Lyons Religious Studies Research Centre, founded in 1993 with the blessing of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II to deal with the issue of new religious movements, sects and cults.
Feeling empowered to defend the exclusive legitimacy of the mainstream religion in Russia, the Orthodox Church, and supported by his position at the head of FECRIS, Mr. Dvorkin has been actively fighting and spreading hate speech against the various minority religions present in Russia.
In the last years the discussion about the Muslims in Europe has increased a lot with politicians urging dialogue and Integration on this subject and opposing voices that label Muslims as extremists, as kind of sects, violating human rights - very similar as taken up in the resolution, thus I fear that this Resolution will be taken up by these anti Muslim Forces  to fuel the hate against religious minorities and will Sabotage exactly what is asked for by many politicians to Support Dialogue and Integration.
As a rep of the Muslims in Germany I urgently ask you to consider this."
The resolution and the recommendation, as well as the report itself, contains many other violations of basic human rights that would be too long to cover in that letter. Religious freedom is a fundamental right which should not be conflict with the best interest of children. When such a discriminatory approach is made, as it is in France and in some other countries, by derogatorily label some religious minorities as “sects”, the best interests of the child, as well as the right to Freedom of Religion or Belief of children and parents, are strongly jeopardized.
This is why we would like to respectfully ask this report be sent back to the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights.
Thank you.
Kind regards,
Amir Dr. h.c. Mohammed Herzog

The original letter:

Rédigé par EIFRF le Thursday, March 27th 2014 | Comments (0)

Der Vorsitzende der Islamische Gemeinschaft deutschsprachiger Muslime & Freunde des Islam Berlin e.V. schickte jetzt ein Schreiben an die Präsidentin der Parlamentarischen Versammlung des Europarats, Frau Anne Brasseur, um sie auf den Bericht mit dem Titel „Der Schutz von Minderjährigen vor dem Missbrauch durch Sekten“, verfasst von dem Franzosen Rudy Salles, aufmerksam zu machen. Diesen wertet er als diskriminierenden Vorstoß gegenüber religiösen Minderheiten, die hier abschätzig als „Sekten“ klassifiziert werden. Ein solches Vorgehen gefährde nicht nur massiv die Interessen des Kindes, sondern das Recht auf Freiheit der Religion und Überzeugung von Kindern und Eltern gleichermaßen.

Muslim äußert sich besorgt über den Bericht eines französischen Parlamentariers zum Thema „Sekten“ gegenüber der Präsidentin der PACE.

Frau Anne Brasseur
Präsident der Parlamentarischen
Versammlung des Europarates
Avenue de l'Europe
67075 Strasbourg Cedex

Berlin, 22. März 2014

Sehr geehrte Frau Präsidentin Brasseur,

im Namen der "Islamische Gemeinschaft deutschsprachiger Muslime & Freunde des Islam Berlin e.V." möchte ich meiner großen Besorgnis über den Bericht, der Resolution und Empfehlung von Herrn Rudy Salles zum „Schutz von Minderjährigen vor Exzessen der Sekten" Ausdruck verleihen, über die am 10. April 2014 in Straßburg während der Plenarsitzung abgestimmt werden soll.
Wir glauben, dass dieser Bericht nicht den Grundprinzipien des Europarates entspricht und daher an den Ausschuss zur weiteren Prüfung zurückverwiesen werden sollte, um sicherzustellen, dass er im Einklang mit den bestehenden internationalen Gesetzen zum Schutz der Menschenrechte ist.

Wir sind der Überzeugung, dass der Schutz vor Kindesmissbrauch überaus wertvoll ist und gefördert werden muss, nicht nur in jeder Religionsgemeinschaft, sondern auch an jedem Ort in Europa und im Ausland.

Leider geht es in diesem Bericht offensichtlich nicht um den Schutz von Kindern, sondern darum, Mitglieder religiöser Minderheiten in Europa unter Generalverdacht zu stellen, ohne dass irgendwelche Beweise dafür vorgelegt worden wären, dass Kinder in religiösen Minderheiten eher Opfer von Kindesmissbrauch würden als Kinder in jeder anderen gesellschaftlich anerkannten Gruppe, inklusive der anerkannten Religionen.
Es ist ebenfalls offensichtlich, dass die Auswirkungen der Resolution, falls sie befürwortet und in die Tat umgesetzt wird, jede Form der Diskriminierung gegenüber religiösen Minderheiten in Europa rechtfertigen würde, und das Recht der Eltern auf die Erziehung und den Unterricht ihrer Kinder in Übereinstimmung mit ihren eigenen Überzeugungen aushebeln wird, sobald diese Eltern einer religiösen Gemeinschaften angehörten, die als "Sekte" gebrandmarkt ist. Dies würde nicht im besten Interesse des Kindes geschehen, sondern es bekäme ausschließlich eine Angelegenheit der Religionszugehörigkeit.
Das Wort "Sekte" hat keine rechtliche Definition , wie es in dem Bericht heißt, und sollte nicht verwendet werden, da bereits eine große Anzahl internationaler Menschenrechtsorganisationen, darunter auch der Europarat selbst, darauf hingewiesen haben, dass die Verwendung dieses Wort diskriminierend und deshalb unangebracht in einer ernsthaften Ausarbeitung ist.

Der Bericht ist sehr einseitig und ihre Primärquellen sind die international diskreditierten Organisationen MIVILUDES und FECRIS. FECRIS verbreitet seit langer Zeit Gerüchte und Hetztiraden gegen religiöse Überzeugungen in ganz Europa, manchmal in Verbindung mit anerkannten Religionen, manchmal um religiöse Minderheiten gezielt anzugreifen.

Vizepräsident von FECRIS, Herr Alexander Dworkin, hielt vor kurzem Vorträge über den Islam mit mehreren feindseligen und falschen Aussagen über den Koran und den Propheten Mohammed. Er ist russischer Staatsbürger, der aktiv in der Russisch-Orthodoxen Kirche engagiert ist. Im März 1992 wurde er von der Abteilung für religiöse Bildung und Katechismus des Moskauer Patriarchats engagiert, um das Problem der sich ausbreitenden "Sekten" in Russland zu adressieren. Er rief im Jahr 1993 mit dem Segen des Patriarchen von Moskau und ganz Russland, Alexi II, den FECRIS-Mitgliedsverband in Russland ins Leben, das St. Irenäus von Lyons Religious Studies Research Centre und wurde dessen Direktor, um sich mit neuen religiösen Bewegungen, Sekten und Kulten zu befassen.
Angesichts dieser Ermächtigung, die exklusive Rechtmäßigkeit der Mainstream-Religion in Russland, der orthodoxen Kirche, zu verteidigen, und durch seine Position an der Spitze FECRIS unterstützt, hat Herr Dworkin aktiv daran mitgewirkt, Hetztiraden gegen die verschiedenen religiösen Minderheiten in Russland zu verbreiten.

In den letzten Jahren hat die Diskussion über Muslime in Europa zugenommen, und viele Politiker drängten auf Dialog und Integration zu diesem Thema. Gegenstimmen hingegen haben Muslime als Extremisten etikettiert, als eine Art Sekte, die Menschenrechte verletzt – den Argumenten der jetzigen Resolution sehr ähnlich. Deshalb befürchte ich, dass dieses Dokument von Anti-Muslimischen-Bewegungen dankbar entgegengenommen wird, um den Hass gegen religiöse Minderheiten weiter zu befeuern. Es wird exakt jene Anstrengungen von Politikern sabotieren, die den Dialog und die Integration unterstützen.
Als Repräsentant der deutschsprachigen Muslime in meinem Land möchte ich Sie daher dringend bitten, dies zu berücksichtigen.
Die Resolution und Empfehlung, ebenso wie der Bericht selbst, enthalten viele andere Verletzungen grundlegender Menschenrechte. Zu viele, um sie in diesem Schreiben aufzulisten. Die Religionsfreiheit ist ein Grundrecht, welches nicht in Konflikt mit dem Wohl der Kinder sein sollte. Wenn ein solch diskriminierender Ansatz zugelassen wird, wie es derzeit in Frankreich und in einigen anderen Ländern der Fall ist, indem man einige religiöse Minderheiten abschätzig als "Sekten" klassifiziert, werden die Interessen des Kindes, sowie das Recht auf Freiheit der Religion und Überzeugung von Kindern und Eltern, stark gefährdet. 

Aus diesem Grund möchte ich Sie höflich bitten, diesen Bericht an das Komitee für rechtliche Angelegenheiten und Menschenrechte zurückzuverweisen.
Ich danke Ihnen. 

Mit freundlichen Grüßen

Amir Dr. h.c. Mohammed Herzog

Rédigé par EIFRF le Thursday, March 27th 2014 | Comments (0)

HRWF (24.03.2014) - Before the 2013 study, the most recent comprehensive one conducted in The Netherlands dates back to the early 1980s. It was organized in the wake of the Jonestown Massacre in Guyana (1978), after intense lobbying of Anti-Religious Groups and a very active anti-sect group S.O.S., (a Dutch abbreviation for "Cooperating Parents of Sect Members") worried about the growing "threat" from New Religious Movements, pejoratively denounced as "sects".

Dutch 2013 study on alleged abuses by "sects" confirms results of 1984: No danger to the legal order or to public health
Source HRWF Newsletter

Sub-commission of Dutch Parliament commissioned 1984 study
The Dutch "Tweede Kamer" (House of Representatives) was asked to create a sub-commission to investigate the Sect Phenomenon in the Netherlands and the report was published in 1984. An effort was made to guarantee scientific methodology and objectivity during the study and the Report thus qualified as a Doctorate Thesis at the University (Thomas Witteveen 1984 Groningen). This was not a small accomplishment at a time that "deprogramming" of "sect members" was still actively pursued in several countries (including the Netherlands).
No danger for people's spiritual health
The general conclusion of the 1984 report stated (strictly avoiding the word "sects"):
"New Religious Movements generally do not create a danger for people's spiritual health"
"The Principle of Freedom of Religion guarantees individual citizens spiritual Liberty and the opportunity to practice his beliefs"
"The idea that New Religious Movements coerce people to become a member and condition them to stay within the Movement is not confirmed by our investigation"
In its accompanying letter to the Minister of Justice (May 1984), the sub commission stated that:
"The conclusions of the Report do not provide any ground to request special preventive measures including concerning the situation of minors and psychotherapeutic activities."
Belgium had a different approach
Several murders and suicides between 1994 and 1997 related to the "Ordre du Temple Solaire (OTS)", (International Chevaleresque de Tradition Solaire), founded by Luc Jouret shook Belgian Public opinion and authorities and jump started Belgian actions against "dangerous sects", including the publication of a 180+ list of them (the existence of that list was subsequently either denied or redefined as just "informative").
Belgium continued its divergent policies from the Dutch but borrowed from France, and in 2006 longtime member of CIAOSN (the Belgian information center on "dangerous sects") Henry de Cordes, still disagreed with the 1984 Dutch study  and continued to dismiss its conclusions in an ICSA E-Newsletter, Vol. 5, No. 1, February 2006 (ICSA stands for International Cultic Studies Association):
"Did he (referring to Witteveen, the author of the Dutch report) conform to the social consensus on new religious movements to achieve his Ph.D.? These questions would be without interest if the Witteveen report were just an academic work, but it also guided the Dutch authorities in their attitude toward sectarian organizations-namely, the policy of having no policy".
He got an instant reply from Richard Singelenberg M.A, a Dutch social Anthropologist:
"De Cordes implies that somehow scores of investigators were governed by political motivations rather than by sound research. Though this would be an interesting line of inquiry, the author fails to substantiate this suggestive claim. As it stands now, de Cordes' analysis of the historical situation in The Netherlands is nothing short of an ill-founded caricature".
In the Netherlands the situation on the anti-sect front did not evolve significantly for more than 15 years. In fact, even S.O.S failed in its attempts to establish its own "rehabilitation center", and was disbanded in 1991.
A Dutch television program brought "sects" back in focus
Suddenly, in 2011 "Undercover in Nederland ", a television documentary about a cult called "Miracle of Love", since renamed "Center For the Golden One",  caused a media stir and big public attention in 2011.
The Minister of Justice was questioned in the House of Representatives, but responded that no criminal offences could be established and that therefore no action could be taken.
Dutch Parliament requested a new study
However, after having watched the program themselves, various members of the House urged the Minister to order a new study into the abuses in "cults", with focus on the adequacy of the set of instruments at the disposal of law enforcement.
The study was done by Bureau Beke (Arnhem, The Netherlands), specialized in R&D, developing government decision making, security and project support. It was published in 2013 under the title "Warm bad en koude douche"(*), a reference to allegations often spread by the anti-sect lobby that new "sect" members receive an friendly welcome (warm bath), but once indoctrinated, face the hard reality of abuse (cold shower).
The Netherlands 2013: "Sects" do not pose a danger to the legal order or to public health
The authors of the 2013 study also conclude, considering the scope of the research study:
"It can be concluded that the problems observed do not pose a danger to the legal order or to public health, just as had been concluded in previous research in the 1984 study".

Rédigé par EIFRF le Monday, March 24th 2014 | Comments (0)

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