European Interreligious Forum For Religious Freedom


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Religious Freedom

An attempted strike against minority religions fails. Instead, a landmark victory for freedom of religion or belief

Council of Europe Briefing

The European Interreligious Forum for Religious Freedom and the All Faiths Network coordinated extensively together, working with many other concerned groups and Parliamentarians to assist in dealing with this issue. We are joining together in this newsletter to provide a detailed account and explanation of what occurred.
On April 10, 2014 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe voted down restrictive measures proposed by French MP Rudy Salles, in what has already been described as a “decisive victory and protection for human rights and religious freedom, which was made possible because of the thousands who stood up and voiced their opposition in a critical time of need” which “Historians of European religious liberty will look back at (…) and recognize it as a defining and progressive case study in the prevention of human rights abuse.”(1)
Here is a summary of what happened, including a perspective on the ideological background of those pushing what could have been a major step backwards for religious tolerance and the rights of religious minorities in the 47 countries that comprise the Council of Europe. 
It is also important to mention those in the Parliamentary Assembly who stood up against the report and we will provide extracts of their statements. 
On 7th September 2011, Rudy Salles, a member of the French National Assembly and also member of the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe (PACE), was appointed at PACE as Rapporteur to draft a report on the “protection of minors against sectarian influence”. This has been a long-standing issue pushed by the French “anti-minority religions” groups. Rudy Salles is a long-time associate of Georges Fenech (2), member of the French National Assembly and former the head of the MIVILUDES (Inter Ministerial Mission for the Vigilance and Fight Against Sectarian Deviances), a French government agency in charge of fighting against what they call “sects”. When Salles’ appointment as rapporteur occurred, Georges Fenech made a joint statement with Rudy Salles in a French newspaper (Nice Matin, November 22, 2011), announcing the appointment and claiming that the purpose of that nomination was to create a European observatory on so-called “sects”, a sort of European MIVILUDES.

Rédigé par EIFRF le Thursday, April 24th 2014 | Comments (0)

On April 7, 2014 forty one members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe issued a written declaration to protest against the death penalty pronounced against 529 activists of the Muslim Brotherhood, asking for a moratorium on the use of capital punishment in Egypt. Here is the text of their declaration:

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe writes against death penalty for Muslim Brotherhood members in Egypt
"We observed the events of the Arab Spring with anxiety, hope and joy. We admired the determination, courage and dedication of Egyptians in their struggle for the civil rights they deserved. The attention of the international public was focused on Egypt.
The attention and engagement of the international public was certainly an important factor which contributed to the victory of the Egyptian society over the authoritarian and non-accepted State authorities.
However, the civic victory did not bring lasting stability to Egypt. We do not intend to declare support for any of the parties of the political conflict in Egypt, but we are most astonished and concerned about the manner of conducting the trial and the sentence passed against activists of the Muslim Brotherhood. Sentencing 529 people in one brief show trial is an event without precedent in the modern world and bears the features of a judicial murder.
We believe that using the death penalty as a tool in the fight against political opponents cannot be accepted by the international community.
The undersigned members of the Parliamentary Assembly appeal to the Egyptian authorities – and to the authorities of all States whose law allows the death penalty – to introduce a moratorium on the use of the capital punishment."

Members of the Assembly who signed this declaration are:

HALICKI Andrzej, Poland, EPP/CD
ARIEV Volodymyr, Ukraine, EPP/CD
BAKOYANNIS Theodora, Greece, EPP/CD
BIEDROŃ Robert, Poland, SOC
BOROWSKI Marek, Poland, SOC
ČIGĀNE Lolita, Latvia, EPP/CD
D'ARCY Jim, Ireland, EPP/CD
DERVOZ Ismeta, Bosnia and Herzegovina, EPP/CD
DİŞLİ Şaban, Turkey, EPP/CD
FABRITIUS Bernd, Germany, EPP/CD
FISCHER Axel E., Germany, EPP/CD
GHILETCHI Valeriu, Republic of Moldova, EPP/CD
GÓRCZYŃSKI Jarosław, Poland, EPP/CD
HARDT Jürgen, Germany, EPP/CD
HENNRICH Michael, Germany, EPP/CD
HETTO-GAASCH Françoise, Luxembourg, EPP/CD
IWIŃSKI Tadeusz, Poland, SOC
MATUŠIĆ Frano, Croatia, EPP/CD
MITCHELL Olivia, Ireland, EPP/CD
O'REILLY Joseph, Ireland, EPP/CD
PAKOSTA Liisa-Ly, Estonia, EPP/CD
PECKOVÁ Gabriela, Czech Republic, EPP/CD
PIPILI Foteini, Greece, EPP/CD
POLČÁK Stanislav, Czech Republic, EPP/CD
POURBAIX-LUNDIN Marietta, de, Sweden, EPP/CD
PREDA Cezar Florin, Romania, EPP/CD
SOBOLEV Serhiy, Ukraine, EPP/CD
SPAUTZ Marc, Luxembourg, EPP/CD
STRENZ Karin, Germany, EPP/CD
TALIADOUROS Spyridon, Greece, EPP/CD
TZAVARAS Konstantinos, Greece, EPP/CD
ULLRICH Volker, Germany, EPP/CD
WACH Piotr, Poland, EPP/CD
WELLMANN Karl-Georg, Germany, EPP/CD
ZECH Tobias, Germany, EPP/CD

Source on the Assembly's website

Rédigé par EIFRF le Wednesday, April 16th 2014 | Comments (0)

At an event in the Council of Europe on 8th of April a coalition of 5 groups concerned with Religious Freedom held a well-attended event on the subject. The event was sponsored by Member of Parliament Valeriu Ghiletchi.

The event was held to focus attention on the already extensive criticism of French MP Rudy Salles' Report "The protection of minors against excesses of sects" -- a report that has finally be debated in the Parliamentary Assembly on the 10th April and rejected by the Assembly (see here). 
The two speakers, Professor Vincent Berger (former Jurisconsult of the ECHR) and Dr Aaron Rhodes (new elected President of FOREF Europe, founder of the Freedom Rights Project and former director of the International Helsinki Foundation) outlined the dangers of adopting a report that would affect the rights of religious minorities when, from a human rights and legal perspective, there are no or inadequate definitions to define the supposed problem. To implement measures without any clear legal basis would only end up stigmatizing and eventually reducing the rights and protection of children and their parents.

The groups sponsoring this event were: 
European Interreligious Forum for Religious Freedom 
Care for Europe 
The Moscow Helsinki Group 
The All Faiths Network 
The European Evangelical Alliance 

Rédigé par EIFRF le Sunday, April 13th 2014 | Comments (0)

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