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MEPs Van Dalen and Fidanza launch a worrying report on FoRB in 2017-2021

See the 45-page report here

1.FOREWORD & INTRODUCTION

 

The Freedom of religion or belief

The Intergroup

Purpose of this report

Methodology and reading guide

Standing up for the right to freedom of religion or belief

  1. STATE OF FREEDOMOF RELIGION OR BELIEF AROUND THE WORLD

General developments

Country-specific evaluation  India  – ChinaNigeria Iran Pakistan Algeria MyanmarTurkeyEritreaVietnamAfghanistan

Stories of hope

 

  1. THE ROLE OF THE EU IN PROMOTING AND PROTECTING FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF AROUND THE WORLD

 

The involvement of the European Council and the Council of the EU in promoting and protecting the freedom of religion or belief

European Parliament’s engagement to promoting and protecting the freedom of religion or belief

European Parliament urgency resolutions

The EU Guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief

Trade relations including the generalised scheme of preferences

The EU Special Envoy on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief outside the European Union

Conclusion

  1. RECOMMENDATIONS TO STRENGTHEN THE EUROPEAN UNION’S EFFORTS IN PROMOTING AND PROTECTING THE FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF

 

The European Council and the Council of the EU

The European Commission:

  • The EU Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the European Union
  • The European External Action Service (EEAS) and EU representations in third countries
  • Promoting and protecting religious freedom in trade relations

The European Parliament

ANNEXES

Annex 1 – Questionnaire and list of respondents

Annex 2 – Overview of the European Parliament’s initiatives relating to the freedom of religion or belief 2017-2021

Annex 3 – Overview of Council initiatives relating to the freedom of religion or belief 2017-2021

Bibliography

The European Times/ HRWF (28.03.2022) – The FoRB report, which outlines the “state of the art of religious freedom in the world” and discusses the “European institutions’ actions to protect religious freedom”, was drafted in collaboration with some of the most important associations and NGOs in the sector, involving “different representatives of the faiths, from Christian associations to Baha’i, Muslims and Jews”.

In addition to the co-chairs of the intergroup Peter VAN DALEN (EPP) and Carlo FIDANZA (FdI- Ecr) who opened the session, other speakers were Iannis Argyropoulos, Head of Unit for Asia-Pacific and South Asia Regional Affairs of the European External Action Service; ; Marcela Szymanski, editor-in-chief of the ”Religious Freedom in the World” dossier at the Pontifical Foundation Aid to the Church in Need and Willy Fautre, Director of Human Rights Without Frontiers  and Oksana Oleynikova, director of the Good Shepherd children’s home in Ukraine, who “updated the audience on the current situation in Ukraine.

Peter VAN DALEN, co-chair of the Intergroup since its inception ten years ago, started by saying that  “The EU needs to enhance its efforts in promoting and protecting  freedom of religion or belief, as it is deteriorating in many countries. In EU policy, too often economic interests prevail over human rights commitments. Therefore, the European Commission must reappoint a Special Envoy for the promotion and protection for the freedom of religion or belief as soon as possible.

Co-chair Carlo FIDANZA recalled that among those persecuted for their faith, “over 360 million Christians experience a high level of persecution and discriminationToday the eyes of the world are rightly focused on the martyrdom of Mariupol,” FIDANZA said, “but with this report, we want to turn the spotlight on another martyrdom that takes place every day in total indifference and which affects millions of believers.

And FIDANZA added: “As Peter VAN DALEN said, in most countries, we can see that both a very dominant religious majority (often Islamic, e.g. Pakistan) or a rather authoritarian government (e.g. China) are the main drivers of persecution of religious minorities. Often we can also see a combination of these two (e.g. Iran, Turkey).

The report, which has just been published by the FoRB intergroup, selects 11 countries that, according to the NGOs participating in the survey, are the countries where religious freedom is increasingly restricted.

Among them China, where forced Sinicisation is underway at the expense of Uyghur Muslims, Falun Gong practitioners, Christians and of course Tibetan Buddhists.

In Nigeria, President Buhari has worked to foster an islamisation of the country and Christians are mainly persecuted by jihadist groups such as Boko Haram, Iswap and local warlords.

In Pakistan, the majority of the Sunni population is aggressive towards minorities and anti-blasphemy laws are often misused to settle scores with non-Muslim competitors in business.

Last but not least, the press release of the Intergroup also focuses on Algeria, Myanmar, Eritrea, Vietnam and Turkey where President Erdogan promotes Sunni Islamisation policies at the expense of atheists, Christians and Jews.

In the Q&A part of the launch event, MEP Carlo FIDANZA stressed that the Intergroupwill continue taking the initiative to address the situation of persecuted minorities worldwide” and “will keep pushing for a quick reappointment of a Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief outside the EU”, a position efficiently occupied by Jan Figel from 2016 to 2019, and left vacant since then… Where there is no political will, there is no way.

Further reading about FORB in the World on HRWF website

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