The EU and freedom of Religion or belief 2017-2021.
Presentation of the periodical report

The presentation of the periodic report published by the Intergroup on Religious Freedom of the European Parliament was held this afternoon. The 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 the most important associations and NGOs in the sector, involving all the different representatives of the faiths, from Christian associations to Baha’i, Muslims and Jews.

Among the speakers, in addition to the co-presidents of the intergroup Carlo FIDANZA (FdI- Ecr) and Peter Van Dalen (EPP), who opened the session, Oksana Oleynikova, director of the Good Shepherd children’s home in Ukraine, who updated those present on the current situation in Ukraine, 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 the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need and Willy Fautre, Director of Human Rights Without Borders.

Co-president Carlo FIDANZA recalled that among those persecuted for their faith, over 360 million Christians experience a high level of persecution and discrimination. “Today the eyes of the world are rightly focused on the martyrdom of Mariupol”. FIDANZA said during his speech. “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, especially Christians, who are persecuted worldwide for their beliefs”. “Europe” – concluded FIDANZA – “that perhaps for the first time it is realising how important it is to have a foreign policy, must forcefully put the issue of religious freedom in all bilateral negotiations with countries where this is not guaranteed”

Peter van Dalen, the other co-president, said:  ‘The EU needs to enhance its efforts in promoting and protecting the freedom of religion or belief, as religious freedom 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.’

The report just published by the intergroup selects 10 countries that, according to the NGOs that participated in the survey, are the countries where religious freedom is increasingly restricted. Among them China, where forced Sinicisation is underway at the expense of Uighurs, Falun Gong, Christians and, obviously, Tibetan Buddhists. Nigeria, where President Buhari has worked to foster an islamisation of the country and there are continuous persecution by jihadist groups such as Boko Haram, Iswap and local warlords, mainly at the expense of Christians. Pakistan, where the majority of the Sunni population is aggressive towards minorities and uses anti-blasphemy laws as a tool to regulate private affairs against those who are ‘inconvenient’, and finally Algeria, Myanmar, Eritrea, Vietnam and Turkey where Erdogan promotes Sunni Islamisation policies to the at the expense of atheists, Christians and Jews.

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