Brussels, 1 July 2020 – Freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) is a universal human right. Violations of this right continue to rise and we have seen many examples of how the Covid-19 pandemic has compounded pre-existing vulnerabilities of faith and belief minorities. Now, more than ever, the European Union must demonstrate clear leadership in the promotion and protection of FoRB.

We celebrated the EU Day on FoRB on 24 June 2020, the 7 year anniversary of the adoption of the EU Guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief. EPRID, the European Platform against Religious Intolerance and Discrimination, hosted a webinar which included interventions by Ambassador Jos Douma, the Dutch Special Representative for Religion and Belief, and Danish Ambassador Michael Suhr, Special Representative on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion is foundational in a democracy. Protecting it leads to a society where all world views are respected, where diversity is embraced and where minorities are not deemed inferior. Recent events are teaching us many things, among which the heart-breaking consequences of cultural and racial superiority, the eventual result of the dignity and equality of minorities being marginalised, undermined and actively opposed.

EPRID stands in solidarity with all people and calls on governments to protect freedom of religion or belief, which includes theistic, non-theistic and atheistic world views. In so doing, we protect our societies against forces that threaten to divide rather than unite. As we strive towards this goal, we call on the EU to re-appoint a dedicated Special Envoy for FoRB as soon as possible to serve as a focal point and interlocutor for the defence of this indispensable right in the EU’s external policy.

Here is the full recording of our webinar: