Faith & Religious Freedom

Irish state school students are being forced to attend religion courses

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A human rights group in Ireland claims that students are being coerced into attending religious classes that are in contravention of a ruling that is supposed to allow state school attendees to opt out...

Afro-Brazilian religions feel threatened

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Historic minority religions in Brazil are increasingly facing a form of religious scrutiny under the country’s President, Jair Bolsonaro, it is claimed. Some 500,000 people in Brazil participate in religions brought to the Americas hundreds...

EU slams Brunei’s anti-gay sex laws

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Amid mounting international criticism, Brunei has moved to defend itself after the tiny Southeast Asian nation recently introduced laws that criminalised sodomy and made it punishable by stoning to death. The government of Brunei sent...

“Protecting Jewish institutions means protecting our democracies and our Western values” – An interview...

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Albert Guigui has been the Chief Rabbi of Brussels since 1987. Chief Rabbi Guigui is also a Member of the Presidium of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER). New Europe had the chance to...

Malaysian women’s rights activists under investigation for refusing to wear hijab

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Campaigners have joined forces to condemn an investigation of three women by Malaysia’s Islamic authorities who refused to stop wearing a hijab. The three women, Maryam Lee, Mohani Niza and Dian Sofia, attended the launch...

‘Dignity is the foundational principle of all human rights’ – an interview with Ján...

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Ján Figel is the EU's Special Envoy for Promotion of Freedom of Religion outside the EU, appointed by the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker in 2016. New Europe asked him about the progress made, and...

Chinese authorities round up priests and a Hong Kong activist

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A Chinese bishop from the banned Church of China taken into custody with his vicar general as part of a long-running government crackdown on priests who are not aligned with the official clergy sanctioned...

Catholic organisation sharply criticises European efforts to defend religious freedom

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An exhaustive report by the Catholic foundation, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), says that Europe and the West have done little but provide lip-service when it comes to defending and upholding religious liberty.”...

Leader of movement monitoring anti-Muslim hate crimes demands more protection from EU institutions

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The head of a leading Muslim group has voiced his concerns about the “negative treatment” that many Muslim minorities feel that they’re subjected to in Europe. Addressing the Faith and Freedom Summit in Brussels, Bashy Quraichy,...

All Faiths Network director say EU must do more to protect believers’ rights

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Religious freedom and belief often “take a back seat” to policymaking, according to Martin Weightman, the director of the All Faiths Network, who told participants that the rights of religious minorities are overshadowed by...

EU’s religious freedom envoy wants Europe to do more to protect minorities

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The EU’s special envoy for religious freedom, Jan Figel, believes that Europe needs to “face up” to the numerous cases of discrimination that occur against religious minorities within its own borders. Speaking at a high-level conference...

Faith-based NGOs want more protection for religious believers

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A coalition of faith-based NGOs has called for the idea of religious freedom and belief to be “centre-stage” as one of the main topics of the upcoming European elections in May, according to the...

Belgian rights group demands action against discrimination and racism

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A leading human rights organisation in Belgium is stepping up its campaign for the reintroduction of a watchdog tasked with combatting anti-Semitism in the country. Unia – the Interfederal Centre for Equal Opportunities – has...

UNESCO-listed Flemish festival comes under fire for anti-Semitic floats

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A famous Belgian carnival has run into trouble with the authorities because of the way it is said to portray Jewish people. The annual carnival in the Belgian town of Aalst is a 600-year-old ritual,...

UK counter terrorist experts say far-right extremism is an emerging security threat

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Nearly two weeks after an armed gunmen shot and killed 50 people and wounded an equal number at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, the UK government said on 27 March that far-right extremism...

Flogging a dead horse: The return of anti-cultism in Italy

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In 2018, two Italian journalists, Flavia Piccinni and Carmine Gazzanni, published a mediocre book called Nella setta (In the Cult). It included the usual laundry list of vituperations against the “cults.” The language was...

UN report warns of increase in online hate group material

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A major UN report has identified recent trends in the glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that it says contribute to racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and intolerance. The report, by UN Special Rapporteur E. Tendayi...

EU urged to consider asylum claims of Chinese religious group members

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More than 2,000 believers from a Chinese religious movement known as the Church of the Almighty God are have applied for political asylum in several EU countries after claiming that they've been subjected to “severe persecution” at the...

Intelligent design or design by chance?

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I'm all for science and find it fascinating to better understand how things work, how they are constructed and what they can do. Delving into the mysteries of DNA, the stars and the mechanics...

After New Zealand massacre, Muslims in Europe fear for their safety

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The Christchurch mosque shootings are putting a worldwide spotlight on Islamophobia. The mass shootings on in New Zealand have left Europe's 19-million-strong Muslim community feeling frightened and vulnerable, which has led to renewed calls for action against the...

Pioneering hosting scheme offers support to migrants and refugees

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A pioneering inter-denominational scheme organised by the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) is providing support to marginalised people, including those from religious minorities. “At Home” is the name of a Europe-based, Jesuit hosting programme that welcomes...

Pope Francis meets with Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints leaders in the...

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Pope Francis met with Russell M. Nelson, the head of the Mormon Church, ushered in a new era of contact between the two faiths as the leaders met, for the first time, in the Vatican...

Religious persecution is increasingly becoming a global crisis

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In recent years, the world has seen a rapid increase in the number of violent incidents that target religious believers that include acts of intolerance, discrimination, persecution, and even genocide, the likes of which...

Scientologists mark third anniversary of Belgian court win

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On March 11, 2016, the criminal court of Brussels threw out a case that involved a dozen Scientologists, the Belgian Church, itself, and the European office of the Church of Scientology International that could...

Christianity in the Middle East threatened with extinction

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Christianity, which originated in the Middle East in the 1st century AD, is now a significant minority religion in the region. In the early part of the 20th century, Christians of varying denominations once made up one-third...

Suffering of Myanmar’s persecuted Rohingya continues to worsen

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Data collected by the Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN) says that persecution of the Rohingya population in Myanmar has worsened in the last three years which has led to “the institutional persecution of Muslims...

European football plagued by rising number of racist incidents and anti-Semitism

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Some football fans are using today’s feverish political climate as a means to “cover their own racism and prejudice," says UK-based anti-discrimination group Fare. Incidents of anti-Semitic and racial abuse are a criminal offence and there...

Governments use death penalty to crackdown on religious minorities

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Various countries that include China and Iraq are disproportionately using the death penalty against people from religious minorities, not for any criminal misdeeds, but merely based on their faith and religious beliefs, according to...

Decathlon under fire for introducing and then withdrawing Islamic sports attire plans for French...

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French sporting goods retailer Decathlon has controversially decided to withdraw plans to launch a line of clothing with an Islamic veil for Muslim sportswomen after the products’ marketing sparked a major controversy among French...

Concerns grow over legal fate of jailed Russian Scientologist

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A lawyer associated with Ivan Matsitsky, a senior Russian Scientologist who has been held in jail for over 18 months, has expressed concern over his continued incarceration after three appeals judges decided to send...

Nazi eugenicist’s mock trial serves as a model for future human rights lawyers

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In the spring of 1945, as the Allied and Soviet armies closed in on the last remnants of the Third Reich, one of Adolf Hitler’s most notorious followers found himself in the custody of...

Politics clouds relations between rival Orthodox patriarchates in Ukraine

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The Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, adopted a bill on January 17 that changed the affiliation of the religious communities in Ukraine. Ukraine has three main Orthodox denominations: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate,...

Vatican summit on sexual abuse aims to shed light on decades-old church scourge

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A landmark four-day summit in the Vatican is currently taking place to look into the sexual abuse of children by the Catholic clergy. The meeting, which began on February 21, has brought together an extraordinary panoply...

Europe’s Jews believe anti-Semitism is on the rise

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In today’s Europe, nine out of 10 Jews believe that anti-Semitism has significantly increased over the last five years. Between 2016 and 2017, France – an EU nation that has the largest Jewish population, by...

China under fire for arresting reporters who document religious persecution

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Two separate petitions are currently being circulated that call for the release of a group of independent reporters that were arrested in China while they were working undercover to expose the scale of a...

France looks to push back against surge of anti-Semitism

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Marches against anti-Semitism have been taking place throughout France after 80 Jewish grave were desecrated in the French city of Alsace earlier this month. The demonstrations are part of a growing wider awareness in France...

Council of Europe condemns ‘disgusting acts of desecration of Jewish cemetery’ in Alsace

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Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland condemned a series of anti-Semitic acts committed in Alsace on February 18, which included the targeting of about 80 headstones in a Jewish cemetery which were defaced with...