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Brussels: Panel on “Religion, Security and Human Rights at the European Parliament

Brussels: Panel on “Religion, Security and Human Rights at the European Parliament

Keynote speakers included Dr. Liviu Olteanu, Secretary General, Association Internationale pour la Défense de la Liberté Religieuse (AIDLR)

December 16, 2015 | Bern, Switzerland. | L. Olteanu, CD EUDNEWS.

On the 10th of December 2015, the panel on “Religion, Security and Human Rights” was organized at the European Parliament in Brussels by the office of Elmar Brok MEP and the European Platform on Religious Intolerance and Discrimination (EPRID). Keynote speakers included: Prof. Heiner Bielefeldt, U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief; Dr. Liviu Olteanu, Secretary General, Association Internationale pour la Défense de la Liberté Religieuse (AIDLR), on behalf of EPRID; Ms. Kalpna Devi, Human Rights Defender, Pakistan; Prof. Cole Durham, Jr., Susa Young Gates University Professor of Law and Director; Dr. Kishan Manocha, Senior Adviser on Freedom of Religion and Belief, OSCE/ODIHR.

Before starting his presentation, Dr. Liviu Olteanu, in the name of EPRID (European platform to which the AIDLR belongs) asked the audience to observe a minute of silence in memory of the victims of the recent Paris terrorist attacks on November 13, 2015 and the San Bernardino terrorist attacks in the United States of America on December 2, 2015. 

Here, a resume of the keynote speech on Religion’ and ‘Religious Freedom’ in Today’s World – Challenges and Attitudes that affect Freedom and Security”, of the Secretary General of the AIDLR.

In the context of the theme proposed on “Religion, Security, Human Rights”, the AIDLR Secretary General started his keynote with the question: “Religion, Freedom and Security: antagonistic terms? What should prevail: Freedom OR Security?” and he corrected the idea, saying, “What should prevail is Freedom AND Security”. 

Dr. Liviu Olteanu “strongly condemned the violence and the terrorism in the name of religion and the terrorist threat effectively requires the adoption of specific measures against it.” He enunciated some of the contemporary challenges, explaining, “We live in a complex world and some of the challenges of contemporary society are: 1. Adapting the policies to global change and confronting religious violence and terrorism in the name of religion; 2. Efforts towards common objectives; 3. Respect for differences and protection for religious minorities; 4. Divergences on common values, the human rights approach and freedom of expression; 5. The migration and refugees issue; 6. Ambiguity of postmodernism and, 7. Respect for dignity.

He also said, “I don’t believe in the 'clash of civilizations', but I observe the clash of respect for diversity.Quoting Johnston, Dr. Olteanu suggested, “Religion should be brought back into the study and praxis of international diplomacy and policy, not just because religion is a causal factor in many international conflicts, but also because it can play, and has played, a key part in fostering positive change nonviolently and in preventing or resolving conflict”. 

Dr. Olteanu warned about “the possibility of at least three risks of these times: 1. To confuse a religion -Islam- with terrorism; 2. For reasons of terrorism or fear, it is possible that ‘religion’, ‘freedom of religion’ and ‘believers’, will come under a global suspicion. I do not think we should ignore this possibility; 3. ‘National security’ should be used as a multipurpose tool and as pretext to counter political abuse against religious groups, religious minorities, dissidents and political opponents by some governments and especially by the authoritarian governments. These governments generally have no sincere commitment to religious freedom and, in the first place, have been particularly eager to use real and imagined threats of religiously motivated terrorism as justification for crackdowns against religious groups of all kinds.”

Concluding, Dr. Olteanu said, “The issue of the dignity of every person and of protected life – in the context of wars and migration – and the issue of human rights, freedom of religion and freedom of expression – in the context of violence and terrorism in the name of religion – need an international cooperation and order. They need a strategic plan with an effective mechanism along with an active application, and require respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, on the basis of principles, values, international cooperation and coordination.”

Concretely, Dr. Olteanu proposed: “1. More dialogue and communication between cultures, religions and governments; 2. Coordination (of dialogue and measures) between different categories of stakeholders (according to the project initiated some years ago by the AIDLR named “Dialogue five”: diplomats, politicians, religious leaders, academia and civil society – by NGOs – working together to find solutions for the issues regarding religion and the need of coordination of policymakers from national, regional and international level); 3. Train the trainers: Education and training on principles, common values, tolerance, the culture of respect and non-discrimination for all people; 4. Defending not a religion or a church…but the principle of religious liberty, freedom of conscience and freedom of expression for all people and, 5. Prudence and balance regarding how we can solve the divergences and diversity issues.”

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