Religious Liberty Event in Switzerland

Religious Liberty Event in Switzerland

Dr. John Graz, Dr. Gianfranco Rossi with his wife, David Jennah and Giampiero Vassallo (credit: G. Vassallo)

"75% of people on our planet are not free to choose their profession of faith", so Dr. John Graz, former Adventist Ambassador to the United Nations.

May 30, 2016 | Bern, Switzerland. | G. Vassallo, C. Cozzi, CD-EUDNEWS.

"Lasting peace is possible only if we teach our children the weapon of dialogue, the only winning weapon we have," said Giampiero Vassallo, head of the Religious Liberty Department of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in French-speaking Switzerland and in the region of Ticino. 

The first Festival of Religious Freedom in Ticino was held Saturday, May 21 at the Adventist Church on Cabione Street in Massagno, Lugano, Switzerland. Vassallo was one of the organizers.

"75% of people on our planet are not free to choose their profession of faith, it is therefore necessary to realize the privilege we have in living in a country that protects our rights. Let us not forget that everyone has the right to belong or not to belong to a religion," said John Graz, former Adventist Ambassador to the United Nations and, for more than twenty years, was the Secretary General of the International Religious Liberty Association (IRLA).

The one-day festival was a series of opportunities for dialogue between guest speakers and the audience. In the first part of the day, David Jennah, President of the International Association for the Defense of Religious Liberty in Switzerland, drew a parallel between the Declaration of Human Rights and the text of Genesis referring to Cain and Abel. Later in the morning, John Graz described the religious freedom lived by Jesus Christ.

In the afternoon, Graz told the audience about the crisis regarding global religious freedom as he experienced it while living in virtually all over the world. The sad experiences of those who are still in prison for defending their faith, resulted in tolerance and solidarity. The Christian church was protected by a group of young Muslims, they also committed themselves to rebuilding the church (we omit the details).

There was also a presentation by Father Abraham Unal, head of the Syrian Orthodox Church in Ticino, he spoke of the situation of Christians in the Middle East who do not yet enjoy religious freedom.

Paolo Tognina spoke during the afternoon, he is an evangelical theologian and RSI journalist (Radio and Television of Italian Switzerland).  During the Minareti report and places of prayer, Tognina said, "to create a culture of diversity, we need to create places for dialogue, exchange and opportunities for civil dialogue".

Vincenzo Pacillo, associate professor of Law and Religion at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, presented the theme of Religious Freedom and Religious Fundamentalism.  He stated that we need to eliminate all special privileges from recognized churches and ensure an inclusive ecclesiastical policy.

The debate also included Imam Samir Radawan Jelassi, representative of one of the Islamic communities in Ticino. In his speech he shared the situation of Muslims in Ticino. The debate was moderated by Bruno Boccaletti, producer of religious issues for RSI.

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