Press Release No: 16/30
28 September 2016
Nearly 5 billion people worldwide live in countries with significant restrictions on freedom of religion or belief. Religious minorities in particular suffer from loss of access to holy and worship sites, prejudice, and genocide. These global realities were the focus of a conference yesterday at the European Parliament, hosted by the EPP in collaboration with the Conference of European Churches and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.
An interdisciplinary panel featured human rights activists, religious leaders, policy makers and politicians. Together they stressed the importance of education and youth formation in cultivating peace and combatting prejudice.
Panellists also highlighted the importance of interfaith dialogue and dialogue between cultures as a significant way to advance freedom of religion in the world. The ongoing conflict in Syria and Iraq was frequently referenced, and speakers emphasised that this is a concern for religious freedom not only in the Middle East, but for Europe as well and all peoples of the world. Speakers also highlighted issues of freedom of religion or belief emerging from the European context.
In his opening remarks, CEC General Secretary Fr Heikki Huttunen spoke about the European churches’ perspective. “For the Conference of European Churches, when we deal with questions of freedom of religion or belief, we do so in the context of human rights and in the context of freedom of religion or belief for everyone,” he remarked. “For us it is important to not only speak about the freedom of religion or belief outside Europe, but also inside the EU.”
The remaining discussion time focused on various mechanisms for monitoring and advancing freedom of religion or belief within the EU and around the world.
For a complete programme from the event, please click here.
For more information or an interview, please contact:
Conference of European Churches
Rue Joseph II, 174 B-1000 Brussels
Tel. +32 2 234 68 42
Fax +32 2 231 14 13
The Conference of European Churches (CEC) is a fellowship of 115 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Old Catholic Churches from all across Europe, plus more than 40 National Council of Churches and Organisations in Partnership. CEC was founded in 1959. It has offices in Brussels and Strasbourg.