European Interreligious Forum For Religious Freedom
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An event organised in Brussels by The European Interreligious Forum for Religious Freedom (EIFRF) and The All Faiths Network (AFN) - 19 December 2017

Event Summary: Russia - Exploring Interfaith Dialogue and Freedom of Religion

Jan Figel, EU Special Envoy for the Promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief outside the EU

Leonid Sevastianov, Executive Director of the Orthodox St. Gregory the Theologian Charity Foundation, Moscow

Massimo Introvigne, Professor of Sociology of Religion, Former Representative of the OSCE for Combatting Racism, Xenophobia and Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians

Panel moderator, Eric Roux, Chairman EIFRF

Mr. Roux opened the event by introducing the panellists and making the point that the conference was not political, was not about ‘finding fault’ with any of the parties involved and was directed to building bridges between all parties and religions, increasing friendship and understanding.

Rédigé par EIFRF le Thursday, December 21st 2017 | Comments (0)

International Convention: Law and Freedom of Belief in Europe, an arduous journey
On 18/19 January 2018, EIFRF will participate to the International convention "Law and Freedom of Belief in Europe, an arduous journey", organised by the Federation for Freedom of Belief (FoB). EIFRF is an active member of this Federation. Here is the very interesting program and we encourage you to attend this convention.

Under the auspices of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, 
Mr Thorbjørn Jagland

Logo Council of Europe

Under the patronage of
logo OSCE PA

18 - 19 January 2018
Auditorium Sant'Apollonia
Firenze - Via San Gallo, 25/a

Partecipation is free till the reaching of the maximum capacity of the hall.
Please, confirm your attendance by writing at:
For info:  

How to reach the auditorium



Within globalization, within pluralism, in a multi-ethnic society, with the many exoduses and with the diversities bursting into our society, protection of civil rights and especially the right to believe and the right for freedom, have become a crucial need for the European Community and the national governments that comprise it. In an uncertain and volatile reality, that protection is our duty and the duty of each country, and the only way to make it valid and effective all over Europe and in each and every country of the Union, is to have European laws as well as European justice enforcement bodies.

With the differences of laws and rulings of each national government, with the pressures of anti-liberal forces and sometimes of nonsense politics, it is not an easy task, the one we are entitled to. Within the protection (with no shyness) of freedom to believe and freedom of religion, dwells a hope for peace, for pacific cohabitation and reciprocal acknowledgment which alone turns the different, the ‘other’, the unknown, into a comrade, a friend and a fellow citizen.

In such often puzzling protection stands the creation, as well, of the most truthful identity for Europe and its role amongst the nations and continents.


Thursday, 18 January, 8:30am

Registration of partecipants

Welcome address

Professor Silvio Calzolari, Secretary of FOB

Dr. Eugenio Giani, President of the Regional Council of Tuscany

Hon. Riccardo Migliori, Past-president OSCE

Hon. Marietta Tidei, Vice-president OSCE-PA

Hon. Luciano Ciocchetti, Former vice-president of the Lazio Region

Dr. Alessandro Amicarelli, President of FOB


I session (moderator Pietro Nocita)

Philosophy and Theory of Law

Professor Pietro Nocita, Lawyer, he taught Criminal Procedure at La Sapienza University in Rome, which awarded him the Diploma of Benevolence

Dr. Fabrizio D’Agostini, Lawyer in Turin

Professor Roberto Celada Ballanti, Universiy of Genoa

Professor Marco Vannini, Philosopher, Florence

Professor Marco Ventura, Universy of Siena

Thursday, 18 January, 2:30pm

Music with Vincenzo Zitello
(Bardic harp and Celtic harp)

II session - Part 1 (moderator Paolo Naso)

Sociology of Religions

Professor Luigi Berzano, University of Turin

Professor Massimo Introvigne, Sociologist of Religions, Turin

Professor Enzo Pace, University of Padua

Professor Stefano Allievi, University of Padua

Professor Aldo Natale Terrin, University of Padua

II session - Part 2 (moderator Alessandro Amicarelli)

Ideological and Legal Obstacles 
to the Right of Freedom of Belief in Europe

Professor Susan J. Palmer, University of Concordia, Montreal

Dr. Patricia Duval, Lawyer in Paris, France

Mr Willy Fautre, Director of Human Rights Without Frontiers Int., Austria

Mr Thierry Valle, Director of NGO CAP Liberté de Conscience, France

Friday, 19 January, 8:00am

III session (moderator Fabrizio d’Agostini)

Ecclesiastical Law

Professor Germana Carobene, University of Naples

Professor Nicola Colaianni, University of Bari, former Magistrate of the Supreme Court of Cassation

Dr. Alessandro Amicarelli, Lawyer in London, Human Rights specialist

Professor Muamar Salameh, University Prince Mohammed bin Fahd, Dhahran

IV session (moderator Silvio Calzolari)

History of Religions and Legal Aspects
of Religious Confessions

Professor Silvio Calzolari, High  Institute of Religious Studies, Florence

Professor Paolo Naso, University La Sapienza, Rome

Professor David Monti, Magistrate at the Milan Court

Dr. Nelly Ippolito Macrina, Deputy Prefect, former director of the Division for the Affairs of Religious Groups other than the Roman Catholic of the Ministry of the Interior

Friday, 19 January, 2:30pm

Music with Flavio Cucchi
(classic guitar)

Round Table (moderator Luigi Berzano)

Law and Freedom of Belief in Europe

Ms Camelia Marin, project coordinator SOTERIA International, Denmark

Mr Eric Roux, director of EIFRF, France

Imam Izzeddin Elzir, Minister of Islam in Florence, president UCOII

Professor Mohamed Bamoshmoosh, Islamic Community of Florence and Tuscany

Dr. Fabio Fanfani, Consul - Vice Dean of the Consular Body of Florence

Professor dr. Stefano Grossi, Teacher of ethics and anthropology at the Theological Faculty of Central Italy

Mr Martin Weightman, director of All Faiths Network, England

Dr. Faisal Yousif Al Anezi, Director Prince Naif Bin Abdulaziz center for peace and tolerance, Saudi Arabia

Professor Thierry Vissol, Director of LIBREXPRESSION Center, Rome

Dr. Andrea Bottai, Soka Gakkai Regional In-charge for Tuscany

Ms Rosita Šorytė, President ORLIR, International Observatory of Religious Liberty of Refugees

For press accreditation write to .


Rédigé par EIFRF le Sunday, December 17th 2017 | Comments (0)

Hungarian governmental party leader crackdown on Islam
While interviewed on a pro-government television channel in Hungary on November 3, 2017, Fidesz parliamentary delegation leader Gergely Gulyás declared that “there will be no mosques in Hungary”, and added that “from the perspective of our own security, mosques would have a negative impact”. 

Gulyás was speaking to government propagandist Zsolt Bayer, a founding member of governing Fidesz party known for making offensive and racist statements and comments. During the TV show, Bayer said that “the problem is that now you almost have to say with boring grayness that, of course, Islamist, Jihadist, Islamic State, when did he get there, where was he radicalized…We know that next week, in two weeks, in a month, it’s going to happen again somewhere. We know this, but still nothing is happening.”
Then Gulyas answered "“Western Europe has not done anything against this danger…Wherever radical Islam raises its head and is allowed to take root, these kinds of acts can occur at any moment.” This is the moment where Bayer said “Wherever there’s a mosque, there’s a problem”, and Gulyas added: “That’s right. There will be no mosques in Hungary…There is such an initiative. We can’t change our position on this.”


Rédigé par EIFRF le Tuesday, November 28th 2017 | Comments (0)

NGOs Condemn Persecution in China and Propaganda in Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan against the Church of Almighty God

Thousands of members of the Church of Almighty God (CAG) have been incarcerated in China, following a further crackdown on unauthorized religious organizations. According to the rough statistics, more than 300,000 members of CAG were incarcerated and detained in China from the beginning of the persecutions in the 1990s to 2017. Many have been tortured and at least 30 died in custody in suspicious circumstances, according to a report just released by CAG and published by several human rights organizations internationally (see e.g, In the last few days, we have seen unprecedented media attacks against CAG published simultaneously in Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, which seem to be an answer to the publication of this report.

The Church of Almighty God (CAG) is a new religious movement founded in China in 1991. It teaches that Jesus has returned to the Earth and incarnated as the Almighty God in a living person and is with us today. It also claims that prophecies in the Bible predict the fall of the Chinese Communist regime in China, although it does not advocate any form of armed rebellion. For this reason, CAG, credited by Chinese official sources with a membership of at least three million, has been persecuted massively since at least 1995.

The Chinese regime later started accusing CAG of various crimes, including causing riots based on a prediction that the world would end in 2012 and murdering a woman in a McDonald’s diner in Zhaoyuan in 2014. The recent media campaign repeats these accusations, although scholarly studies have debunked them as egregious examples of fake news spread to discredit CAG. In fact, the group responsible for the 2014 murder used the name “Almighty God,” but was not part of CAG and had different religious beliefs. Even studies hostile to CAG have concluded that, although some CAG believers expected the end of the world for 2012, this was not sanctioned by the leaders, was not part of CAG’s teachings, and did not lead to any riots.

The campaign also argues that CAG is regarded as a “heresy” by some Christian churches. Trading accusations of heresy is part and parcel of a century-old pattern of religious controversy, but has nothing to do with the religious liberty democratic countries recognize to all religions, irrespective of their “orthodoxy.” It is also repeated that CAG is a “cult,” a discredited word no longer used by mainline Western scholars and used by the Chinese regime to justify gross violations of religious freedom.

The fact that several articles against CAG appeared at the same time in different countries cannot be a coincidence. It is part of an effort by the Chinese regime to hide the fact that it violates the provisions of international conventions on religious liberty it has subscribed, something for which it keeps being condemned by international organizations.

The members of CAG who live abroad deserve the sympathy of their host countries. Their refugee status should be recognized, since merely being a CAG member or being found in possession of CAG literature is regarded in China as reason enough to be arrested or worse.

We also urge responsible media to consult the available scholarly literature on CAG, rather than merely repeating the fake news spread by the Chinese regime.

November 28, 2017

CAP Freedom of Conscience – Coordination of Associations and Individuals for Freedom of Conscience
CESNUR – Center for Studies on New Religions
CHNK – Citizens’ Coalition for Human Rights of Abductees and North Korean Refugees 
EIFRF – European Interreligious Forum for Religious Freedom
FOB – European Federation for Freedom of Belief
FOREF – Forum for Religious Freedom Europe
HRWF – Human Rights Without Frontiers
ORLIR – International Observatory of Religious Liberty of Refugees
Soteria International – Spiritual Human Rights

Rédigé par EIFRF le Tuesday, November 28th 2017 | Comments (0)

The conference, organized by EIFRF and the All Faiths Network (member of the Inter Faith Network for UK - ) will be held Tuesday December 19, 2017 at 14h30, Renaissance Hotel (Mariott) - Rue du Parnasse 19, 1050 Brussels, at 2mn walk from the European Parliament. (Last Update: Kishan Manocha, originally planned to speak at this conference, will unfortunately not be able to attend for Professional engagements which were not planned at the time of the invitation.)

Russia:  Exploring Interfaith Dialogue  and Freedom of Religion - A conference and debate
Jan Figel
EU Special Envoy for the promotion of the freedom of religion or belief outside the EU
Senior Advisor on Freedom of Religion and Belief, Human Rights Department, OSCE/ODIHR
Leonid Sevastianov
Executive Director of the Orthodox St. Gregory the Theologian Charity Foundation - Moscow
Massimo Introvigne
Professor of Sociology of Religion
Former Representative of the OSCE for combating racism, xenophobia, and intolerance and discrimination against Christians
Tuesday December 19, 2017 from 14h30 to 17h30
Renaissance Hotel - Rue du Parnasse 19, 1050 Brussels

The conference, organized by
EIFRF and the All Faiths Network (member of the Inter Faith Network for UK - ) will be held Tuesday December 19, 2017 at 14h30, Renaissance Hotel (Mariott) - Rue du Parnasse 19, 1050 Brussels, at 2mn walk from the European Parliament. To reserve your place please contact .
Russia is a vast country with a rich religious and cultural history along with a wide range of faiths. It has been subject to many changes, both turbulent and invigorating, over the last century which have coalesced to bring about today’s modern state.
Religion should be able to stand above all this. It is, after all, about the spiritual in Man – about greater aspirations than just worldly gain and religion has a moral role to play in enhancing the culture for the greatest good of all.
There is, understandably, a certain concern when small, new or old versions of different religions enter the cultural landscape that were not present before. However, what we have also advanced over the last century are human rights standards which have developed considerably in order to protect the rights of individuals and to respect their choices.
Whilst there has also been some international criticism of certain decisions made within Russia concerning religious status it is clear that the vast majority of Russian people simply wish to live in peace and comfort whilst being able to follow their own religious choices.
This conference has the purpose of developing dialogue between all religions great and small, to develop, educate about and respect human rights standards and to drive forward a responsible approach to interfaith and religion-government relations. The conference will be followed by live debate.

Rédigé par EIFRF le Wednesday, November 22nd 2017 | Comments (0)

The Church of Almighty God is one of the minority religious groups which suffer persecutions in China, and are quite victims of false information spreading. EIFRF decided to publish the following report that they realised. This report has been considered as very serious by several knowledgeable academics working with EIFRF. It's a primary source that should be taken into account.

Report: Persecution of the Church of Almighty God in China
2017 Annual Report on the Chinese Communist Government’s Persecution of the Church of Almighty God

The Church of Almighty God (CAG), also known as Eastern Lightning, has long been one of the most severely persecuted Chinese house churches by the Chinese Communist government. Since its establishment in 1991, the CAG has continued to endure the brutal repression and persecution of the Chinese Communist government. In 1995, the CCP government used trumped-up charges such as “fraud in the name of religion, Qigong” and “deification of their leading members” to condemn the CAG as an “evil cult” and brutally repress and persecute the CAG. According to rough statistics, in just the two short years between 2011 and 2013, the number of Christians of the CAG illegally arrested, detained and sentenced by the Communist Party reached 380,380 people, of which 43,640 people were subjected to various methods of torture at the hands of kangaroo courts, including 13 people who were persecuted to death. As of now, there are already 44 well-documented cases of Christians of the CAG killed by the Communist Party. (For details, see “A Brief History of the CCP’s Persecution of the Church of Almighty God.”) In 2017, the repression of the CAG by the Communist Party continues to escalate.

The CCP Government Increases Suppression of Religious Beliefs In 2017, the CCP government issued a “Two High” (Supreme People’s Court and Supreme People’s Procuratorate) judicial interpretation and passed a new “Regulations on Religious Affairs” to further restrict the public right to freedom of religion and increase the suppression and persecution of religious beliefs. (...)

To read the full report, download it here:

Rédigé par EIFRF le Saturday, November 18th 2017 | Comments (0)

Prof. Dr. Jos Dumortier is an internationally renowned top expert in data protection. Since 1993, he has been a Professor of Law at the Law Faculty of the University of Leuven, where he teaches data protection. Back in the 90s', he was one of the first Belgian lawyers to deal with data protection, long before other lawyers started practising this area of law. At that time he was appointed by the Belgian Government to draft the Belgian Data Protection Act. He very frequently acts as counsel to the Belgian Federal Government, the Belgian Federal Public Service of Information and Communication Technology, the Flemish, Walloon and Brussels Governments, the European Commission, the Dutch government and various other Belgian and international public sector bodies to draft contracts or provide advice in these areas of law.

Interview: Top data protection international expert on the Hungarian Scientology case
EIFRF interviewed him on the "Scientology case" in Hungary, where the Scientologists are the target of a campaign from the Hungarian government, which decided to go against them via the National Data Protection Agency. This agency then decided to arbitrarily seize Church of Scientology parishioner files, including priest-penitent files. 

EIFRF: The Hungarian Data Protection Agency and Hungarian National Bureau of Investigation are pretending that the folders that the Church of Scientology uses for monitoring the spiritual progresses of its parishioners, violate the Data Protection regulations of the European Union. What do you think about it?
Jos Dumortier: From a strictly legal point of view, these folders are outside the scope of the European data protection legislation. The European legislator never aimed at introducing formal legal rules for handwritten notes, taken by someone on a sheet of paper during a meeting, an interview or, as in the Church of Scientology, an auditing session.
Data protection laws are intended to protect individuals against automated or manual means which enable easy and rapid retrieval of personal information about a specific individual, even if this information is stored in different sources. This is primarily a characteristic of computerised files. Only if manual, paper-based, methods enable similar retrieval, linking or associations, then these methods are also included in the scope of data protection legislation.
Extending this scope to all kinds of handwritten notes or other paper documents, would lead to absurd consequences. The Hungarian data protection supervisor also seems to think that paper-based dossiers are submitted to the European data protection rules if the documents are properly arranged in dossiers, or if the dossiers are stored in alphabetical order. The consequence of this reasoning is that it would suffice to bring some disorder into your paper documents, to escape from the law! It is evident that this has never been the objective of the European legislator.  

EIFRF: This criticism against the folders kept by the Church of Scientology has already been raised by the Prosecutor office in Belgium. What has been the final decision of the Belgian courts, did they found that the Church of Scientology was guilty of a crime related to data protection? Are there other instances where the folders kept by the church of scientology to monitor the spiritual progresses of its followers have been examined by official bodies?

Jos Dumortier: The public prosecutor in Belgium attempted to get the Church of Scientology sanctioned on the basis of similar accusations as the Hungarian data protection supervisor today. The argument that the paper files held by the Church of Scientology are regulated by the provisions of the data protection law, has been rejected, not only by the Brussels tribunal in the Church of Scientology case, but also by a Belgian Court of Appeal in a similar case about another religious organisation (Jehovah Witnesses).
Also in other countries, like Sweden, the data protection authorities have, likewise, judged that the paper files held by the Church of Scientology are outside the scope of the European data protection law. 
Also the Belgian highest court, the “Court of Cassation”, has judged  that, to bring personal data contained in paper dossiers within the scope of the data protection legislation, three criteria need to be fulfilled:
1) the data themselves (not the documents only) need to be structured according to specific criteria,
2) these criteria need to relate to individual persons, and
3) the criteria should allow easy access to the personal data.
This case dealt with HR dossiers held by the Ministry of Justice! The decisions of the Belgian courts are perfectly in line with recital 27 of the European data protection Directive, which states that: “files or sets of files as well as their cover pages, which are not structured according to specific criteria, shall under no circumstances fall within the scope of this Directive”.

Also in other countries, like Sweden, the data protection authorities have, likewise, judged that the paper files held by the Church of Scientology are outside the scope of the European data protection law.
EIFRF: On the other side, do you think that the fact that the Hungarian authorities seized and consulted these folders containing personal data protected by Priest-Parishioner privilege, could be a problem, or even a crime based on personal data protection EU law?

Jos Dumortier: One of the most important recitals of the European General Data Protection Regulation is Recital 4. It is stated as follows: “The processing of personal data should be designed to serve mankind. The right to the protection of personal data is not an absolute right; it must be considered in relation to its function in society and be balanced against other fundamental rights, in accordance with the principle of proportionality. This Regulation respects all fundamental rights and observes the freedoms and principles recognised in the Charter as enshrined in the Treaties, in particular the respect for private and family life, home and communications, the protection of personal data, freedom of thought, conscience and religion, freedom of expression and information, freedom to conduct a business, the right to an effective remedy and to a fair trial, and cultural, religious and linguistic diversity”. Consequently, data protection supervisory authorities are requested to respect a fair balance between the personal data protection rights of an individual and freedom of religion.
It leads to the paradoxical consequence, that the individual privacy and personal data protection rights of the parishioners are damaged as never before by an authority which has been established precisely to protect those privacy rights!
In the Hungarian case against the Church of Scientology this “fair balance” is completely absent. It leads to the paradoxical consequence, similar to  what we experienced in the Belgian Scientology court case, that the individual privacy and personal data protection rights of the parishioners are damaged as never before by an authority which has been established precisely to protect those privacy rights! 
In some other countries, such unwanted situations have been anticipated by legislators in a better way than in Europe. The Japanese data protection law, for example, explicitly states that an investigation by the data protection authority “in the course of requiring the submission of material or of conducting an onsite inspection should not hinder the freedom of expression, freedom of academia, freedom of religion, and freedom of political activity”. Similar to Europe, the Japanese legislator has attributed very large powers to an independent data protection supervisory authority, but at the same time, ensured that these powers can never be (ab)used to hinder the exercise of fundamental rights and freedoms.

Rédigé par EIFRF le Saturday, November 4th 2017 | Comments (0)

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