Human Rights Organizations say: Decision shows failure of Islam Law

AUSTRIA: Government shuts seven mosques, prepares to expel 40 Turkey-funded imams

Bildergebnis für kurz vs erdogan

Vienna/Austria, 11.06.2018 (HRWF/FOREF Europe) – On Friday, June 8, the government of Austria ordered the closing of seven mosques and the termination of the residence permits of 40 Turkish imams. “Parallel societies, political Islam or radical tendencies have no place in our country,” Chancellor Sebastian Kurz of the conservative people’s party (ÖVP) explained at a news conference announcing the move last Friday. Human Rights Without Frontiers and the Forum for Religious Freedom – Europe, both of which have been sharply critical of political Islam as a totalitarian political movement, said that subjecting Islamic communities to special regulations contradicts human rights and Rule of Law principles, and is an obstacle to the development of moderate and peaceful Islamic communities in Europe that uphold a separation of church and state.

The measure coincides with the run-up to the Turkish presidential election on June 24. Turks living in Austria and in other countries already have begun casting absentee ballots. Last May, 10.000 expat Turks travelled to Sarajevo to attend an election campaign event in Bosnia-Herzegovina’s capital Sarajevo in support of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, as Germany, Austria and the Netherlands had prohibited election campaigns of Turkish politicians in their countries. The event was hosted by the Union of European Turkish Democrats (UETD), an organization that is considered the foreign branch of Erdoğan’s party AKP. Around half of the supporters came from Germany and about 2.000 from Austria. In his Sarajevo talk, the Turkish president criticized the European countries that banned his campaigns as anti-democratic and asked his supporters to “demonstrate the strength of European Turks to the whole world”, the Austrian newspaper Die Presse reported.

Against this backdrop, the Austrian government’s plan to expel imams supported by Turkey and to crack down on mosques run by controversial organizations is widely understood as a reaction against the promotion of political Islam in Austria. Government officials, however, have denied any connection of their measure to the upcoming Turkish presidential election. The decision has been justified by claiming that two provisions of the amended “Islam Law” (Islamgesetz) of 2015 have been breached:

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PRESSEMITTEILUNG: FOREF & HRWF fordern Religionsfreiheit in Russland

Anlässlich Putin Besuch – Appell an Politiker:  “Österreich kann nicht einfach zur Tagesordnung übergehen”

POLIZEI UNTERBRICHT GOTTESDIENST DER ZEUGEN JEHOVAS IN ST: PETERSBURG

(Wien, 4. Juni 2018) Wenn der russische Präsident Vladimir Putin sich am Dienstag mit Bundespräsident Alexander Van der Bellen und Bundeskanzler Sebastian Kurz trifft, werden sie auch ihre Besorgnis über die Talfahrt der Menschenrechte in Russland ansprechen und Österreichs Einfluss für eine Besserung der Lage geltend machen?

Zwei internationale Menschenrechtsorganisationen mit Schwerpunkt Religionsfreiheit appellieren an Bundespräsident und Bundeskanzler diese Gelegenheit unbedingt für die gute Sache zu nützen. Das Forum für Religionsfreiheit -Europa(FOREF, Sitz in Wien) und Human Rights Without Frontiers(Sitz in Brüssel) verfolgen seit Jahren aufmerksam die Entwicklung der Menschenrechte und Religionsfreiheit in Russland.

Die Russische Föderation unter der Führung von Präsident Putin zeigt eine harte Hand, was Grundrechte und Freiheiten jeglicher Art anbelangt: Es gibt praktisch keine Meinungsfreiheit in den Medien –  zugleich ist die Bevölkerung der vom Staat gelenkten Propaganda ausgesetzt; zahlreiche unabhängige Journalisten wurden ermordet. Auf der Rangliste der Pressefreieit (Reporter ohne Grenzen) befindet sich Russland auf Platz 148 zwischen Mexiko und Tadschikistan.

Die Regierung macht unabhängigen Menschenrechtsorganisationen die Arbeit schwer bis unmöglich. Russland ist in ein Nachbarland eingefallen und hat sich Teile des Territoriums einverleibt. Es hat auch Mitglieder der EU bedroht. Kritische Politiker werden eingesperrt und Wahlen finden im Stil der früheren Sowjetunion statt. Bürger, die gewaltfrei gegen diese Praktiken protestiert haben, wurden verprügelt und eingekerkert.

“Russland bildet die Vorhut autoritär regierter Staaten, welche permanent gegen Religions- und Gewissensfreiheit verstoßen. Ohne Einhaltung dieser fundamentalen Menschenrechte ist Gleichheit vor dem Gesetz und Demokratie praktisch unmöglich,“ betont Dr. Aaron Rhodes, Präsident von FOREF und Ehrenbürger der Republik Österreich. „Österreich kann jetzt nicht einfach zur Tagesordnung übergehen ohne sich einer ungeheuren moralischen Scheinheiligkeit schuldig zu machen.“

“Russlands Verbot der Zeugen Jehovas hat aus 170.000 friedlichen Bürgern de facto Verbrecher gemacht und der Zerstörungswut und Misshandlung ungeschützt ausgesetzt. Das Verbot für die Zeugen ist offenkundig nur ein Mosaikstein eines größeren Vorhabens, welches darauf abzielt, jede religiöse Minderheit zu unterdrücken. Es ist ein koordiniertes Vorgehen mit der Russisch-Orthodoxen Kirche, um angeblich „die Gefühle der Mitglieder der orthodoxen Gemeinde zu schützen.“

Willy Fautré, Präsident der Organisation Human Rights Without Frontiers berichtet: ”Zahlreiche Zeugen Jehovas sind mittlerweile eingesperrt worden, einige mehrere Monate lang. Die Behörden haben 30 Polizeirazzien durchgeführt und 20 strafrechtliche Ermittlungsverfahren eingeleitet. Das ist ein beispielloser Angriff auf die Religionsfreiheit seitens eines Mitgliedes des Europarates, das wirtschaftliche und politische Kooperation mit Österreich und anderen europäischen Staaten anstrebt. Wird jemand Putin zur Verantwortung ziehen?“ fragt Willy Fautré.

Russlands widerrechtliche Beschränkungen der Religionsfreiheit verletzen nicht nur die Menschenrechte und das Prinzip der Rechtsstaatlichkeit, sondern schürt Konflikte und Instabilität in der Gesellschaft. So sind die moslemischen Gemeinden durch die „Anti-Terror“ Gesetzgebungen und Maßnahmen enorm unter Druck geraten.

Die beiden Menschenrechtsorganisationen mahnen: Handelsabkommen mit der Russischen Föderation jetzt abzuschließen ohne ein „Gegengeschäft“ zur Förderung der Menschenrechte zustande zu bringen, bedeute einen Verrat an den moralischen Prinzipien, welche Österreich vorauszusetzen pflegt.

Rückfragen & Kontakt:

Aaron Rhodes (President, FOREF) 
/ +49-170-323-8314
Peter Zoehrer (Executive Director, FOREF) 
/ +43 664-523-8794
Email: foref.office@gmail.com

Willy Fautré  (Executive Director, HRWF)
Phone: +32478202069
Email: international.secretariat.brussels@hrwf.net
Website: http://www.hrwf.eu

Find the Press Release in English here (HRWF):

Press Release: FOREF and HRWF call upon the President and the Chancellor of Austria to raise the issues of religious freedom and human rights in Russia

Posted in Austria, Council of Europe, FECRIS, FoRB Violations, FOREF Europe, HRWF, Human Rights, Islam, Jehovah's Witnesses, OSCE, Persecution of Religious Groups, Putin, Religious Discrimination, Religious Freedom, Religious Intolerance, religious persecution, Russia, Russian-Orthodox Church | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

PAKISTAN: New Assault on Ahmadiyya Muslims

Pakistan:  Officials Take Part in a
New Assault on the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community

Baitul Mubarak Mosque in Sialkot – before & after the attack

(FOREF – Vienna, 26. May 2018) The Forum for Religious Freedom – Europe (FOREF) condemns in the strongest terms the 23 May 2018 attack on the Baitul Mubarak Mosque in Sialkot, Pakistan, which resulted in the near destruction of the facility.  The mosque has historical and spiritual importance for the Ahmadiyya Community. 

According to information received by FOREF and media reports, the violence began with the destruction the house of Hakim Hassamuddin by the members of the Municipal Committee of Sialkot, who were escorted by local police. A mob of around 600 persons, reportedly from the local Sunni Muslim community, joined in for the attack on the nearby mosque, chanting anti-Ahmadiyya slogans. The attack took place over a period of about seven hours. Officials claim repairs on the building were illegal.

The Ahmaddiyya Community characterized the incident as “vandalism of buildings by the governmental administration for the mere satisfaction of extremist forces without any judicial order.”

“The government of Pakistan must conduct an impartial investigation and bring the perpetrators of these crimes, including local officials, to justice, and ensure that reparations are made for the damages done to these holy places,” according to Dr. Aaron Rhodes, President of FOREF.

“Our organization and other independent human rights institutions are ready to work with Pakistani authorities to put in place laws and policies that are consistent with Pakistan’s international legal human rights obligations to protect all religious minorities,” he added.

For more information:
Dr. Aaron Rhodes – President: aaronarhodes@gmail.com
Peter Zoehrer  – Director General: foref.office@gmail.com

Links to news media accounts of the incident are below.

Posted in Ahmadiyya, blasphemy laws, Court Decisions, FoRB Violations, FOREF Europe, Islam, Limitations of Religious Freedom, mosque, Muslims, pakistan, Persecution of Religious Groups, Religious Discrimination, Religious Freedom, Religious Intolerance, religious persecution, UN, UN Special Rapporteur | Leave a comment

Religious Freedom in the Russian Federation

The Russian Federation and Religious Freedom in the Spotlight- Side Session at the United Nations Geneva
(2018-05-14)


A panel of human rights and freedom of religion experts, as well as the leader of Hinduism in Russia have been invited by a French NGO – CAP LC (coordiap.com) at the United Nations Office in Geneva during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) session on Russia to address the alarming and shocking situation of religious minorities in the Russian Federation. Especially during the last 3 years not only minorities, but also large mainstream religions have been banned from public activities, such as the Hinduism Community – despite more than 20 years of perfect integration. But also Jehovah Witnesses, the Church of Jesus-Christ of Later Day Saints and many others.

Listen to the exposition of the hidden factor behind the “bad religion concept” and the dehumanizing activities of so called “anti-sect offices”, that are generously state funded. This is not only the case  in Russia but also in most of Europe.

List of Speakers:

  • Mr. Thierry Valle – President CAP LC
  • Mr. Peter Zoehrer – Director General of FOREF – Forum for Religious Freedom in Europe
  • Ms. Patricia Duval – Human Rights Attorney
  • Ms Olga Sibireva – Religion expert SOVA Center – Center for Information and Analysis
  • Shri Prakash Ji – Leader of Induism in Russia, President of the Centre for Conservation of the Indian Culture
  • M. Prasun Prakash – Director of Public Affairs – the Centre for Conservation of the Indian Culture

Link with pictures (Copyright CAP LC):
dropbox.com/sh/ree76773bfz00te/AACGSpawBA7QrSH5Wj7TBY40a?dl=0

Co-organized: by CAP Liberté de conscience, SOVA, FOREF, Shri Prakash Dham
For more information: contact@coordiap.com
Images and sound: Michel Reymond, @GenevaUPTV

Posted in Alexander Dvorkin, Anti-Cult Movement, Christians, EU Special Envoy on FoRB, European Intergroup on FoRB & RT, FECRIS, FoRB Violations, FOREF Europe, German Müller, GSK, Hate Speech, Jehovah's Witnesses, Miviludes, OSCE, Putin, Religious Discrimination, Religious Freedom, Religious Intolerance, religious persecution, Russia, Sects, Tom Sackville, UN, UNHRC, United Nations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bitter Winter: Daily News Online of Religion in China

On May 14, 2018, a new online news magazine has been launched at the International Book Fair of Torino, in Italy, Bitter Winter. The name refers both to the difficult situation of religious liberty in China and to a theme in classical Chinese painting.

The launch of Bitter Winter came at the end of FIRMA-Faiths in Tune, a five-day festival of religions and music that ran parallel with the Book Fair. At the Book Fair, two FIRMA awards were presented by an international jury, one to President Daisaku Ikeda of Soka Gakkai for his lifelong commitment to religious dialogue, and one to The Church of Almighty God, a Chinese new religious movement, for its resistance to religious persecution in China. Authorities, journalists, and a significant public attended both the festival, where The Church of Almighty God’s performers were among the most admired groups, and the award ceremony.

“This has a lot to do, commented Bitter Winter’s editor-in-chief, Italian sociologist Massimo Introvigne, with our new magazine. I am a scholar of new religious movements. They are often the most persecuted groups in China and The Church of Almighty God is now the most persecuted of them all, replacing Falun Gong as the religious minority most severely targeted by the regime. While other worthy publications on China ignore the new religious movements, we will cover them together with mainline religions.”

Bitter Winter is in English, but Chinese and Korean editions will be online soon. Assistant editors of Bitter Winter are Willy Fautré, the veteran and highly respected Belgian human rights and religious liberty activist who leads Human Rights Without Frontiers in Brussels, and Rosita Šorytė, president of the International Observatory of Religious Liberty of Refugees and former chairperson of the European Union Working Group on Humanitarian Aid. Italian journalist Marco Respinti serves as technical editor.

“What is also new in Bitter Winter, added Introvigne, is that we were able to establish a network sending news and pictures directly from China. To these unpublished news, we add a digest taken from international and Chinese media.”

Bitter Winter also publishes articles and interviews. In the first issue, the magazine publishes an interview with Father Bernardo Cervellera, the leading Catholic expert of China. He explains that the agreement between Holy See and China, much rumored about in the last months, is not being signed due by resistances within the Chinese regime. He also believes that claims that the agreement would be signed soon were spread by factions within both the Vatican and the Chinese Communist establishment favorable to it, while other factions are hostile.

Home: https://bitterwinter.org/

Posted in Countries, Human Rights, Persecution of Religious Groups, Religious Discrimination, Religious Freedom, religious persecution, Tibet, Torture | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

REPORT: Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan

Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan Face an Existential Threat: New Report

 

The persecution of Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan has worsened in the last several years, as Ahmadis are “violently targeted, intimidated, and harassed at all levels of society.

Impunity and incitement have created a climate of religious hysteria in which targeted communities, both Ahmadis and non-Ahmadis are losing their lives with shocking increased frequency,” according to a report published by the International Human Rights Committee and the Asian Human Rights Commission, in partnership with the Forum for Religious Freedom – Europe (FOREF) and Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

A noose is tightening around the Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan, who face discriminatory legislation and lethal mob violence encouraged by political and governmental authorities,” according to Dr Aaron Rhodes, President of FOREF.

The 100-page document, which is based on interviews with hundreds of victims, experts, and journalists, details the legal discrimination faced by the Ahmadi community, relevant developments in international human rights, and social and political tendencies.

It further documents crimes, state negligence, and complicity; violations of internationally guaranteed rights and freedoms; prejudice and social exclusion; discrimination faced by women; discrimination in education; and obstacles faced by Ahmadis when professing their faith.

For further information:
Forum for Religious Freedom Europe: foref.office@gmail.com
secretariat@humanrightscommittee.org
anders.blank@barometern.se

Posted in Ahmadiyya, blasphemy laws, FoRB Violations, FOREF Europe, Hate Speech, Human Rights, Islam, Islamism, mosque, pakistan, Persecution of Religious Groups, Religious Discrimination, Religious Freedom, Religious Intolerance, religious persecution, Shariah | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Open Letter by FOREF Europe

PAKISTAN: Threats against Ahmadiyya Community on the Rise

Open letter to Honorable Khawaja Muhammad Asif,
Foreign Minister of Pakistan

Bildergebnis für Tehreek-e-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah Pakistan

Vienna/Islamabad, 03.02.2018 (FOREF) – With great concern FOREF Europe has been observing the increasing rate of violations against fundamental freedoms in Pakistan. Threats against religious freedom have sparked accross the country. The Ahmadiyya community is one among several religious minorities that are seriously affected by this trend. Today, FOREF Europe sent an open letter to the Foreign Ministry of Pakistan and to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).


OPEN LETTER

Dear Honorable Mr. Khawaja Muhammad Asif,

I am writing on behalf of the Forum for Religious Freedom-Europe, an independent, secular human rights organization based in Vienna, Austria.

We are deeply concerned about escalating threats to the Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan. There can be no doubt that such threats are becoming more serious, making it increasingly dangerous and difficult for members of that community to profess their faith.

Especially over the past year, numerous religious leaders in your country have openly called for violence against Ahmadis, indeed, calling for their murder by decapitation.

Death threats against Ahmadis have become commonplace. These are some of the incidents that have alarmed our organization, and the international community:

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Posted in Ahmadiyya, blasphemy laws, FoRB Violations, pakistan, Religious Discrimination, Religious Freedom, Religious Intolerance, Shariah, Torture, UN, UNHRC, United Nations | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment