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Spiritual Human Rights 2013 Conference - Copenhaguen - 10th December 2013
Soteria International  in collaboration with

presents:
 
Spiritual Human Rights 2013 Conference
 
Copenhagen, 10th December 2013
 
Freedom of conscience and belief at a crossroads in Europe - self-determination and spiritual teachings
 
Governments are implementing new laws across Europe, claiming to protect citizens from “mind manipulation”. The criminalization targets particularly minority religions and spiritual movements.
Our democracy is based on self-determination - the individual’s ability and right to decide for himself. The new laws suggest that this ability is threatened today. But are spiritual teachings the threat? Is criminalization the answer?
 
If the individuals’ ability of self-determination is threatened, should it not be secured by strengthening the freedom of conscience, rather than by criminalizing certain thoughts or beliefs?
Welcome to the 6th Spiritual Human Rights conference with international experts, politicians, human rights activists and spiritual leaders discussing different perspectives on self-determination and spiritual teachings.
 
Program, Tuesday 10th December 2013
 
11.30 – 12.00: Registration and tea
 
12.00 – 14.30: Morning session: Minority religions and spiritual movements are specifically targeted by “mind manipulation” laws. What is the background and consequences of this disproportionate attention?
 
14.30 – 15.30: Lunch
 
15.30 – 18.00: Afternoon session: If the individuals’ ability of self-determination is threatened by mind manipulation, this should be countered by a strengthened freedom of thought, conscience and belief. What is the role of authorities and what is the role of spiritual teachings in cultivating this inner freedom?
 
18.00 – 18.15: Tea break and mini-concert
 
18.15 – 19.00: Conclusions

For further information please contact shr@soteriainternational.org


When it comes to freedom of religion and belief, diversity and pluralism still appear to be challenging concepts in modern societies. Paradoxically, the situation is difficult also in countries with an established democratic tradition and strong commitments to respect fundamental liberties. Strong historical imprints of the traditional religions in a society, coupled with lack of education and understanding of various religious and spiritual systems, lead to increasing misunderstandings and polarization among populations.
 
Societies continue to struggle with acceptance of alternative and unconventional currents, particularly within the established religious and spiritual frameworks, and state authorities attempt to preserve a dominant control of the field. Otherwise, how to explain that many countries discuss the legislation against so-called “mental manipulation” at a parliamentary level? Several countries, including some EU member states, have already adopted such laws. In most of these legislative acts the formulations are general. However, their application particularly targets new and alternative religious and spiritual groups, wrongfully and abusively labelled by authorities and mass media as “cults” or “sects”.
 
Examples of such legislative acts are the About-Picard law in France, the “plagio” law in Italy, dropped in 1981, but currently attempted to be re-introduced, the “Abuse of weakness” law in Belgium, the “Alteration or control of the personality” law in Spain, and many others.
 
As basis of them all is the presumption that the “victim” has not had the ability to properly exercise his self-determination. To determine some choices of belief as derived from “mental manipulation” risks to corrupt the right of self-determination at a fundamental level. As the application of the legislation may go, basically anyone who joins an unconventional religious or spiritual group can be labelled as “brainwashed” and this argument can be used, as it is often so, to criminalize and dismantle the groups.
 
Such legislation may eventually enforce a dangerous construct of discrimination, dividing citizens into those who adhere to common religious traditions or to none, and those who adhere to non-conventional traditions, basically labelling them as mentally dysfunctional as a result of alleged manipulations.
 
Discrimination of minority religions is nowadays recognised as a new form of “racism”. Many countries have officially published and disseminated lists with so-called “sects and cults” (such lists were officially endorsed in governmental reports in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, Russia and United States). Some of these lists are very extensive and even include groups that do not position themselves as religious or spiritual, but rather as dealing with wellness and alternative medicine. Thus, what was presented by state authorities as an attempt to protect citizens, actually threatens their safety, since such measures fuel intolerance and public hatred towards the groups mentioned in those lists, leading to severe marginalization of their followers and imposing on them a condition of fear and hesitation or assumed risk to profess and practice their beliefs.
 
However, among human rights defenders there is an apparent controversy between human rights groups who accuse minority religions of ”mental manipulation” and promote legislation, and human rights groups who defend and protect minority religions and spiritual movements against abuses by investigations and accusations of “mind manipulation”. Both those who attack and those who defend the religious and spiritual groups do it in protection of self-determination; each individual’s ability and right to decide for himself. Both groups seemingly work to secure the individual’s ability and right to follow his heart. Both sides aim at strengthening the freedom of thought, conscience and belief.
 
The “mind manipulation laws” seem to take reduced ability of self-determination as a reason to restrict the right of self-determination. It is clear that criminalization in the area of thought and belief threatens the open society. Democracy is founded on the axiom of self-determination. Should society not rather aim to increase the ability of self-determination in order to truly strengthen the right of self-determination?
 
The conference “Freedom of conscience and belief at a crossroads in Europe - self-determination and spiritual teachings” wants to highlight the fundamental human rights problems with the current trend of legislation and draw lines for a new inclusive discourse on mind manipulation, self-determination and spiritual teachings.
 
The first part of the conference will bring light on the background and consequences of minority religions being particularly targeted by the current legislation. The conference offers specific examples from Italy and France and an exposure of general trends on legislation in Europe today.
 
The first session will conclude with a discussion on how to shed proper light on the on-going undemocratic situation. Could the precautionary principle possibly be used to hinder further legislation within the EU until the consequences are fully known? Could the implementation of the precautionary principle bring this fundamental democratic question from policymakers back to civil society? Could this question be included in a general request to authorities to take discrimination of minority religions serious and take action against it?
 
The second part will be a roundtable discussion regarding self-determination, mind manipulation and religious teachings. As criminalization is not an option in an open society, self-determination must be secured in society by a strong individual freedom of thought, conscience and belief. What is the role of authorities in strengthening the freedom of thought, conscience and belief? What is the role of spiritual teachings? Are there any best practices to relate to?
 


Rédigé par EIFRF le Saturday, November 30th 2013 | Comments (0)

Q&A with the attendees of the event of the 16 October 2013 in Brussels at the Seminar "Freedom of opinion, religion and belief — Persecution of, and discrimination against, minority-groups" Organized by EIFRF with the partnership of
• The Gerard Noodt Foundation for FoRB
• UNITED SIKHS
• Pro Europa Christiana
• Soteria International
• CAPLC Europe
• FOREF Europe
• EMISCO



Rédigé par EIFRF le Monday, November 18th 2013 | Comments (0)

Miviludes against Tradition Famille Propriété - A revealing episode of the desire of impunity sought by the censors of religious thought


Speech given the 16 October 2013 in Brussels at the Seminar "Freedom of opinion, religion and belief — Persecution of, and discrimination against, minority-groups" Organized by EIFRF with the partnership of 
• The Gerard Noodt Foundation for FoRB 
• UNITED SIKHS
• Pro Europa Christiana 
• Soteria International 
• CAPLC Europe 
• FOREF Europe 
• EMISCO

Rédigé par EIFRF le Monday, November 18th 2013 | Comments (0)

Jasvir Singh - French Discrimination and Religious Symbols
Speech given the 16 October 2013 in Brussels at the Seminar "Freedom of opinion, religion and belief — Persecution of, and discrimination against, minority-groups" Organized by EIFRF with the partnership of
• The Gerard Noodt Foundation for FoRB
• UNITED SIKHS
• Pro Europa Christiana
• Soteria International
• CAPLC Europe
• FOREF Europe
• EMISCO



Rédigé par EIFRF le Wednesday, November 13th 2013 | Comments (0)

Protection of religions - big and small - is state's duty
By Bashy Quraishy
Secretary General - EMISCO -European Muslim Initiative for Social Cohesion - Strasbourg
Member - Advisory Board - Migration Research Centre - Hacettepe University - Ankara. Turkey
Chair-Advisory Council-ENAR - Brussels
Speech given the 16 October 2013 in Brussels at the Seminar "Freedom of opinion, religion and belief — Persecution of, and discrimination against, minority-groups" Organized by EIFRF with the partnership of
• The Gerard Noodt Foundation for FoRB
• UNITED SIKHS
• Pro Europa Christiana
• Soteria International
• CAPLC Europe
• FOREF Europe
• EMISCO



Rédigé par EIFRF le Wednesday, November 13th 2013 | Comments (0)

Spain before religious minorities: learning from our mistakes
Speech given the 16 October 2013 in Brussels at the Seminar "Freedom of opinion, religion and belief — Persecution of, and discrimination against, minority-groups" Organized by EIFRF with the partnership of
• The Gerard Noodt Foundation for FoRB
• UNITED SIKHS
• Pro Europa Christiana
• Soteria International
• CAPLC Europe
• FOREF Europe
• EMISCO



Rédigé par EIFRF le Wednesday, November 13th 2013 | Comments (0)

EIFRF, as partner of the All Faiths Network, would like to share with you the following invitation:


Special parliamentary event in the House of Lords: “Dialogue and the Challenge of Extremism - Has Interfaith Gone Wrong?”
You are cordially invited to a special parliamentary event to mark national Inter Faith Week:
 
“Dialogue and the Challenge of Extremism
Has Interfaith Gone Wrong?”
 
CONFIRMED SPEAKERS, WITH MORE TO FOLLOW:
 
Revd Peter Colwell, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland
 
Mr Douglas Murray, Henry Jackson Society
 
Mr Sam Westrop, Gatestone Institute
 
Sheikh Muhammad Al-Hussaini, Westminster Institute
 
TUESDAY 12 NOVEMBER 2013 AT 5.30PM PROMPT START
AT THE HOUSE OF LORDS
 
Nearest tube: Westminster. Please go to the St Stephen’s Entrance to Parliament and
allow at least 30 minutes to pass security screening
 
Religiously-motivated violence and extremism pose a challenge for interfaith organisations.
What is the best way for faiths to work together to challenge such extremism, and are we talking
to the right people? Is public government funding for this work being properly spent? Has
interfaith gone wrong, and how can we make it work?
 
The Inter Faith Network for the United Kingdom, and its member organisations, including the
Muslim Council of Britain, Islamic Foundation and Board of Deputies, have been invited to
take part on the panel, and to offer Muslim, Jewish and Christian representatives to speak at this
important event.
 
This panel discussion will take place in the presence of the national media and will be filmed.
 
Registration is required in advance for security purposes. If you would like to attend or for
further information, please write by e-mail to events@allfaithsnetwork.org.uk
or call 020 3411 7596 or 07979 750293.

Rédigé par EIFRF le Monday, November 4th 2013 | Comments (0)

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