European Interreligious Forum For Religious Freedom
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“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)

European Parliament Working Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief strongly condemns attack on the All Saints Church in Pakistan

The European Parliament Working Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief, co-chaired by Dennis de Jong (SP) and Peter van Dalen (ChristenUnie), strongly condemns the suicide attack on the All Saints church in Peshawar, Pakistan on Sunday. The suicide attack was targeted to attack Christians as an estimated 500 people were attending Sunday mass. The attack killed 81 and wounded 140 and was the worst attack in the history of Pakistan’s Christian community. Following the attacks protestors gathered outside the church to protest against the provincial government’s failure to provide security to worshipers. The Jundullah wing of the Pakistani Taliban have claimed responsibility.

There has been an increase in social hostility against Pakistan’s religious minorities with this bombing following a series of other attacks against religious minorities in Pakistan.  In recent months, there have been suicide attacks against Pakistan’s Shia minorities resulting in many deaths and people injured. Furthermore there have also been a lot individual cases of religious minorities being threatened or killed.   Religious violence in Pakistan is rooted in deep antagonism in the country that exists toward minorities.

The European Parliament Working Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief calls on the Pakistani government and the provincial government to find the culprits of the attack and bring them to justice. The Working Group also call upon the government to tackle social hostility against religious minorities and to make sure that crimes are punished and that the government provide security to religious minorities so that they can practise their faith openly and safely.


Contact information:

Alfiaz Vaiya


European Parliament Working Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief

Tel: +32 (0) 471661381


Rédigé par EU Parl WG on FoRB le Monday, September 23rd 2013 | Comments (0)

Freedom of opinion, religion and belief
Persecution of, and discrimination against, minority-groups

Event : A cause for concern in Europe - 16 October 2013 - Brussels
This conference will be held on the 16th of October 2013 (13:00 to 18:00) at 2 minutes walk from the EU parliament, Renaissance Hotel (Mariott), Rue du Parnasse, 1050 Brussels. To reserve your place, please contact:  Eric, +33 647 695 235,

Rédigé par EIFRF le Friday, September 20th 2013 | Comments (0)

EIFRF starting new cooperation with United Religions Initiative Europe
Approval Committee of United Religions Initiative’s (URI) Global Council on August 14, 2013 has officially approved EIFRF as a URI Cooperation Circle.

This means that while being absolutely independant, EIFRF is also promoting the values contained in the Charter of URI, and cooperates twards the goals and purposes of URI, which is an interfaith international network of more than 592 interfaith groups throughout the world.

Here is the charter of URI:

Charter of United Religions Initiative
We, people of diverse religions, spiritual expressions and indigenous traditions throughout the world, hereby establish the United Religions Initiative to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings.
We respect the uniqueness of each tradition, and differences of practice or belief.
We value voices that respect others, and believe that sharing our values and wisdom can lead us to act for the good of all.
We believe that our religious, spiritual lives, rather than dividing us, guide us to build community and respect for one another.
Therefore, as interdependent people rooted in our traditions, we now unite for the benefit of our Earth community.
We unite to build cultures of peace and justice.
We unite to heal and protect the Earth.
We unite to build safe places for conflict resolution, healing and reconciliation.
We unite to support freedom of religion and spiritual expression, and the rights of all individuals and peoples as set forth in international law.
We unite in responsible cooperative action to bring the wisdom and values of our religions, spiritual expressions and indigenous traditions to bear on the economic, environmental, political and social challenges facing our Earth community.
We unite to provide a global opportunity for participation by all people, especially by those whose voices are not often heard.
We unite to celebrate the joy of blessings and the light of wisdom in both movement and stillness.
We unite to use our combined resources only for nonviolent, compassionate action, to awaken to our deepest truths, and to manifest love and justice among all life in our Earth community.
The purpose of the United Religions Initiative is to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings.
The URI is a bridge-building organization, not a religion.
We respect the sacred wisdom of each religion, spiritual expression and indigenous tradition.
We respect the differences among religions, spiritual expressions and indigenous traditions.
We encourage our members to deepen their roots in their own tradition.
We listen and speak with respect to deepen mutual understanding and trust.
We give and receive hospitality.
We seek and welcome the gift of diversity and model practices that do not discriminate.
We practice equitable participation of women and men in all aspects of the URI.
We practice healing and reconciliation to resolve conflict without resorting to violence.
We act from sound ecological practices to protect and preserve the Earth for both present and future generations.
We seek and offer cooperation with other interfaith efforts.
We welcome as members all individuals, organizations and associations who subscribe to the Preamble, Purpose and Principles.
We have the authority to make decisions at the most local level that includes all the relevant and affected parties.
We have the right to organize in any manner, at any scale, in any area, and around any issue or activity which is relevant to and consistent with the Preamble, Purpose and Principles.
Our deliberations and decisions shall be made at every level by bodies and methods that fairly represent the diversity of affected interests and are not dominated by any.
We (each part of the URI) shall relinquish only such autonomy and resources as are essential to the pursuit of the Preamble, Purpose and Principles.
We have the responsibility to develop financial and other resources to meet the needs of our part, and to share financial and other resources to help meet the needs of other parts.
We maintain the highest standards of integrity and ethical conduct, prudent use of resources, and fair and accurate disclosure of information.
We are committed to organizational learning and adaptation.
We honor the richness and diversity of all languages and the right and responsibility of participants to translate and interpret the Charter, Articles, Bylaws and related documents in accordance with the Preamble, Purpose and Principles, and the spirit of the United Religions Initiative.
Members of the URI shall not be coerced to participate in any ritual or be proselytized.

Please visit the website of URI global and URI Europe

Rédigé par EIFRF le Thursday, August 29th 2013 | Comments (0)

UNITED SIKHS 5th Global Sikh Civil and Human Rights Conference in France


  • Over 200 participants attended the two day conference from all over the world including Austria, Afghanistan, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Netherlands, Mexico, Pakistan, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, UK, USA, and UAE.
  • Sikhs collectively agreed to form a Global Sikh Alliance to assemble annually . More than 25 organizations from all over the world agreed upon to have a Global Assembly of the Sikhs created in the form of a network such as the Global Sikh Alliance. Resolutions can be read by clicking here.
  • To read the views of the speakers please click here.

Bobigny, Paris, August 18th, 2013- "Justice Delayed is Justice Denied”, the theme of our 5th Global Sikh Civil and Human Rights Conference was based upon the landmark decision of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in 76 year old French resident Ranjit Singh's turban case. Sikhs from all of the world congregated in France over the weekend to attend the conference. Topics discussed included: Turban Ban in Europe, 1984 Pogroms, Death Penalty and Preserving Sikh Heritage.

This annual conference which serves as a platform to unite the global Sikh community ended with a common emotion that a Global Sikh Alliance be formed and there is a need for Global Sikh Assembly every year.

The prominent issue of the turban for the European Sikhs continues as yet another incident was reported. Manjit Singh GK, President, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), was requested to remove his “hat” by security officers at Rome’s airport just a week ago. “I stated it is not a ‘hat’, it is an integral part of being a Sikh,” Singh proclaimed as he summarized the details on this deplorable incident. “UNITED SIKHS informed me that on the 25th of February 2013, a UN Resolution was passed that you cannot check a turban by taking it off.”

UNITED SIKHS’ Right to Turban Campaign encourages all Sikhs to continue to educate the French consulates around the globe to reverse the turban ban in France by having foreign relations committees from other countries to initiate a dialogue with the French Government. Sikh delegations should visit French Government dignitaries in their countries to express their concerns, as well as request DSGMC to setup a meeting with the Akaal Takth Jathedar and the Pope to address Sikh identity issues in Europe.

“The Sikh identity has to be defended like a nation defends its borders - with vigour and resources. UNITED SIKHS has set up a special Fund called "INSAAF" (International Sikh Advocacy and Awareness Fund). We ask every Sikh who receives this message to donate their dasvandh (tithe) to this Fund,” said UNITED SIKHS International Legal Director, Mejindarpal Kaur in her video statement from Sangat TV's London studios.

At the conclusion of this year’s conference, collaboratively, delegates have determined that Sikh issues need to be resolved locally with assistance from experts from Sikh communities around the world. "The Conference declared that a Global Sikh Alliance should be formed and that there is a need to have a Global Sikh Assembly every year, based on the concept of "Guru Granth, Guru Panth" and the tradition of " Sarbat Khalsa", said Sukhvinder Singh Padda, representing the Sikh Council UK and also a Senior Advisor to the Sikh Federation UK. He added, "It was great to see the President and General Secretary of the DSGMC present and their inclusion in the Global Sikh Alliance. The SCUK is committed to making the Global Sikh Alliance a success."

Kiranjot Kaur, a senior Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) member and former General Secretary addressed the conference saying, "The SGPC, Amritsar, is highly committed to protecting Sikh Heritage in India. The SGPC is considering providing skills and technology to KAR SEWA teams, so that their seva at historic sites would ensure that our history is conserved and preserved."

Manwinder Singh, Legal Director of UNITED SIKHS-USA, said "There is a need for greater communication and networking between Sikh Organizations and Institutions that are working on issues affecting Sikhs globally, The Global Sikh Alliance will not only make best use of resources collectively, but also utilise and harness the great diverse skills bank we have within the Panth. It will be an opportunity to share our success and meet challenges together."

The following organizations have agreed to take action in the creation of the Global Sikh Assembly (in alphabetical order): American Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee, Dastaar Action Committee (France), Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), Sikh Council (UK), and the UNITED SIKHS’ and is open to other Sikh organizations to join in.

You can read about our previous Global Sikh Civil and Human Rights Conferences by clicking here.

Be a part of change, promote awareness, make a difference and perform seva.

For more information on this event or to schedule an interview, please e-mail . .

Issued By:
Mejindarpal Kaur
International Legal Director

Rédigé par United Sikhs International le Sunday, August 25th 2013 | Comments (0)

Larry Lerner, Union of Councils for Jews in the Former Soviet Union (abbreviated UCSJ) President, speaking at the Second Annual International Religious Freedom (IRF) Event on June 27, 2013. In attendance were members of Congress, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), the U.S. State Department Office of International Religious Freedom, the Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom and a number of fellow NGOs, including Freedom House, Pew Forum and Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. | @UCSJHumanRights |

Rédigé par EIFRF le Friday, August 16th 2013 | Comments (0)

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