European Parliament Intergroup releases annual report on religious freedom

European Parliament Intergroup releases annual report on religious freedom

In a session at the European Parliament on 30 June 2016, Nicole Reckinger, Heiner Bielefeldt, Dennis de Yong, Peter Van Dalen, Ján Figel' and Knox Thames (left to right), discuss the state of freedom of religion or belief around the world.
Brussels—1 July 2016

The annual report of the European Parliament Intergroup on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Religious Intolerance, which among other things highlights the persecution of the Bahá’í community in Iran, was released yesterday.

The report includes over fifty country profiles and details some of the issues concerning freedom of religion or belief worldwide, in addition to some specific policy recommendations.

In a video made by the Intergroup to mark the launch of this report, Rachel Bayani, representative of the BIC Brussels Office, was interviewed and stated:

“In its Iran section, the report highlights the widespread, systematic and government-led persecution of the Baha’is in Iran, who are not only not allowed to practice their beliefs but who are also stripped of all their other rights, such as the right to employment, to liberty or to the pursuit of higher education.”

The report was presented in a session of the European Parliament and discussed by a range of experts, including Heiner Bielefeldt, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, and Ján Figel’, the newly appointed European Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the European Union.

Elaborating on the report, co-chair of the Intergroup Dennis de Jong MEP commented: “Freedom of religion or belief is not a hobby. It is a core task. Engaging with religious minorities, religious leaders and religious institutions — these are tasks that we cannot shy away from.”

In his contribution, Mr. Figel’ encouraged adopting the concept of a minority culture, drawing attention to the fact that in the context of the world as a whole, each and every community is a minority community.

“We need to think beyond Europe. Humanity is one; there is only one human family,” said Mr. Figel’.

Professor Bielefeldt pointed out that although the situation regarding the freedom of religion or belief worldwide is worrisome, it is encouraging that there are a growing number of instances in which religious communities have stood up for the rights of other communities, and he gave the example, among others, of a representative of the BIC who spoke on behalf of other persecuted religious minorities in Iran.