European Interreligious Forum For Religious Freedom


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Pakistani Muslims Form Human Chain To Protect Christians During Mass (photos)

Hand in hand as many as 200-300 people formed a human chain outside the St Anthony’s Church adjacent to the District Police Lines at the Empress Road, in a show of solidarity with the victims of the Peshawar church attack two weeks back, which resulted in over a 100 deaths. The twin suicide attack on All Saints church occurred after Sunday mass ended and is believed to be the country’s deadliest attack on Christians.

Read whole story on The Express Tribune here

Rédigé par EIFRF le Saturday, October 12th 2013 | Comments (0)

“The UN Human Rights Committee has said that by requiring Shingara Singh to remove his turban for his passport photograph, France has violated his right to religious freedom that is guaranteed under Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and that France must now re-examine his passport application and review of the relevant laws to ensure that no further violations of the same occur in the future,” said Mejindarpal Kaur, UNITED SIKHS International Legal Director, who is in the fore-front of a legal campaign for French Sikhs' right to wear their turban.

Shingara Singh, a French national, who refused to remove his turban for his passport photograph
Shingara Singh, a French national, who refused to remove his turban for his passport photograph
Paris, France, 8th Oct. 2013 – The UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) concluded that France has violated the religious freedom of 57 year old Shingara Mann Singh when he was asked to remove his turban for his passport photograph. Shingara Singh, a French national since 1989, was unable to renew his passport in 2005 because the French authorities insisted that he remove his turban for his ID photograph, which he refused to do. The UNITED SIKHS legal team took up his case in French courts and then retained O’Melveny & Myers LLP to file a communication on behalf of Shingara Singh to the UNHRC in December 2008.
The UNHRC, in views dated September 26, 2013 and made public last week, said that France has failed to demonstrate that the restriction imposed on Shingara Singh is actually necessary. The Committee found that the restrictions result in a potential obstruction to his fundamental right to freedom of religion when he is required to appear in ID photos without the religious headwear he always wears, as he might thereafter be forced to take off his turban in public when going through ID checkpoints. The Committee also observed that France had not explained why the act of wearing a turban covering only the upper portion of an individual’s head and forehead (but leaving the face clearly visible) makes it more difficult to identify the wearer, or why a bare headed ID photograph in Shingara Singh’s case would make it easier to ascertain his identity or to prevent fraud or forgery given that he wears his turban at all times when in public.
“The Committee therefore must conclude that the regulations requiring him to appear in his passport photographs ‘with the head uncovered’ is a disproportionate restriction that poses a threat to the author’s [Shingara Singh’s] freedom of religion and thereby constitutes, in the present instance, a violation of Article 18 of the Covenant,” according to an unofficial English translation of the Committee’s Views. The Covenant was entered into force for France on 4 February 1981.

The UNHRC’s views were adopted at the 108th Session of the Committee’s sitting, and may be read in French here .


“This is the third Turban case that the UNITED SIKHS legal team has won at the UN since these cases were filed against France in 2008, which shows that the international community recognises that the wearing of turban by a Sikh is not only his/her religious duty but is a part of his/her identity. We have done our work to show that international law recognises the right to wear a turban in France. We now need to embark on a campaign to make France realise that it has to fulfil its obligations under international law to ensure that freedom of religion and belief is upheld for everyone in its country,” said Mejindarpal Kaur, UNITED SIKHS International Legal Director, who has been working on these cases since France banned the turban in state schools in 2004.
“I have been a French citizen for more than 20 years. I continue to be proud to be French but I fail to see how my country can be proud of its slogan of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity if it cannot uphold its citizens’ fundamental right to religious freedom. I hope that the UNHRC’s decision will wake France up to its international obligations,” said Shingara Singh, who is struggling to conduct his life in France without an identity document. His driver’s licence card too had been refused because of his refusal to bare his head for the ID photograph.

You may read previous press releases on UNITED SIKHS’ advocacy for the right to wear a turban in France here  and here .


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Issued By:
Mejindarpal Kaur
International Legal Director
International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy ( ICHRA)
Tel: +44 8701993328

Rédigé par EIFRF le Thursday, October 10th 2013 | Comments (0)


Council of Muftis complain to U.S. reps about disrespect for Muslims in Russia

Moscow, October 2, Interfax - Deputy Chairman of the Russian Muftis Council Rushan Abbyasov has spoken with representatives of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom about the problems of Muslims in Russia.

He expressed concern over the fact that the mass media often associated extremists with Islam, the press service of the Council reported on Tuesday.

"It is precisely for this reason that in this country, like they are in the West, people are scared by the construction of new mosques. The local authorities also sometimes demonstrate a lack of understanding. As a result of this media policy, people are also afraid of the hijab, the prohibition of which in schools has even developed into a political issue," Abbyasov said.

There are numerous cases when "certain destructive forces in the guise of so-called 'experts on Islam' (who in reality have neither an education or knowledge of Islam) on the staff of the Russian Orthodox Church resist a positive dialogue on the pretext of Christian Orthodoxy and try to hurt Muslims in different parts of this country, set them against society and the state and arouse a negative attitudes towards this worldwide religion among non-Muslims," Abbyasov said.

"Unfortunately, regional and local authorities sometimes follow their lead without realizing the danger of the situation," the press service quotes Abbyasov as saying.

Among such actions, he named the recognition the translation of the Quran into Russian made by philosopher Elmir Kuliyev as extremist.

"This and the way it is done is an indication of the complete absence of respect not only toward the Muslims of Russia but toward any religion, including the teaching of monotheism," he said.

The meeting was attended by a leading analyst of the U.S. commission, Catherine Cosman, and first secretary of the political section of the U.S. Embassy in Russia, Patrick Horne. The report does not specify where or when the meeting took place

Rédigé par EIFRF le Wednesday, October 2nd 2013 | Comments (0)

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