FOREF Europe expanding

HUNGARY: FOREF Europe launches Blog in Hungarian Language

Go to our Hungarian Blog Here

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BUDAPEST/VIENNA, 24.09.2016 (FOREF) – The Forum for Religious Freedom Europe has now launched a blog in Hungarian language. “We hope to change the hostile environment towards religious minorities that currently exists in Hungary. Our first priority will be the promotion of the European standard for fundamental freedom rights in general and freedom of religion and belief in particular”, the Executive Director and Co-founder of FOREF Europe, Peter Zoehrer, says. 

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Statement of FOREF Europe at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting 2016

HUNGARY: Two years after ruling by ECtHR Church Law Remains Unaltered

FOREF Europe intervenes for the 3rd time at the OSCE

Read Hungarian Version Here

Viktor Orban

BUDAPEST/WARSAW, 24.09.2016 (FOREF) – The Forum for Religious Freedom Europe prepared following intervention for the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting and will present it on 27 September 2016 in Warsaw, Poland, at the working session 12. This session will cover issues of fundamental freedoms focusing on freedom of religion and belief (FoRB) in the OSCE region. (See also our article from September 2014 here.)

FOREF’s Intervention on Hungary’s Religion Law 2014: New Religion Law at Variance with OSCE Standards and the European Convention on Human Rights

FOREF’s Intervention on Hungary’s Religion Law 2015: Amended Church Law Remains at Variance with OSCE Standards and the European Convention on Human Rights

Recommendations (September 2016):

The Forum for Religious Freedom Europe (FOREF) calls upon the Government of Hungary

(1) to introduce legislation to Parliament that will amend Hungary’s law on the legal status of churches in a way that harmonizes with Helsinki standards, the European Convention on Human Rights, and the ruling of the ECtHR in Magyar Keresztény Mennonita Egyház and others v. Hungary.

(2) To restore the legal status of churches stripped of legal personality in 2011 through a procedure ruled unconstitutional by Hungary’s Constitutional Court and found in breach of the European Convention of Human Rights by the European Court of Human Rights.

Hungary ignores ruling of the European Court of Human Rights

In 2011 Hungary enacted a new law on the legal status of churches (Act CCVI of 2011). The law stripped approximately 200 religious communities of legal personality, and reduced the number of legally recognized churches in Hungary to 14. In February 2012, responding to international pressure, Parliament expanded the number of recognized churches to 31. In February 2013, Hungary’s Constitutional Court ruled the deregistration of recognized churches had been unconstitutional. Responding to the Court’s decision, Parliament amended the constitution in March 2013. In June and September 2013, Parliament amended Act CCVI to create a two-tiered classification consisting of “religious communities” and “incorporated churches.” In September 2013, Parliament also amended the constitution explicitly to grant Parliament the authority to select religious communities for “cooperation” with the state in the service of “public interest activities.” In April 2014 the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled in Magyar Keresztény Mennonita Egyház and others v. Hungary that Hungary had violated articles 9 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), a judgment which became final in September 2014.

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On September 7, 1974, the Second Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan was passed, declaring Ahmadis to be non-Muslims

PAKISTAN: 42 Years of Systematic Discrimination of Ahmadis by State Actors

Statement by the International Human Rights Committee

 

religious-persecution-in-pakistan

Islamabad/Pakistan, 08.09.2016 (AHRC) – The 7th September is one of the darkest days in the history of Pakistan when religion was firmly inducted to be the basis of the state affairs. This laid the foundation of unprecedented discrimination, abhorrence and violence against other religions, other sects or other interpretations of religion that did not conform the religious interpretations of the perpetrators of this change.

42 years ago, in 1974, on this day the Second Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan was passed whereby the Ahmadis, the followers of Ahmadi sect, were declared to be non-Muslims in Pakistan. By virtue of the amendment the State has been given arbitrary powers to determine who is a Muslim and who is not. Instead of providing the right of freedom of religion and faith to its citizens, this was a systematic and conscious design to curb human rights and freedom of religious beliefs.

As a result of this change the influence of fundamentalist forces to run the state affairs and how people should follow their beliefs reached to unprecedented levels. The zeal and the fervour with which Youm-e-Khatam e Nabuwat (The Day of Finality of Prophet hood), marked on September 7, is celebrated is a manifestation of the fundamentalist mind-set so prevalent in the country.

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Mrs. Maria Kapar attacks Jewish group in order to cover up illegal business in Odessa, collaborates with Russian FECRIS affiliate organization

UKRAINE: FECRIS Vice-President Alexander Dvorkin accuses group of Jewish Psychatrist Szondi of Cultic activity

Interview by Willy Fautré, Human Rights Without Frontiers Int’l

HRWF has interviewed Journalist Konstantin Slobodyanyuk

Odessa/Ukraine, 05.09.2016 (HRWF) – Earlier this year, the director of HRWF Int’l met with, and interviewed, some victims of the media campaign demonizing them in Odessa. Ukrainian followers of Jewish psychiatrist Léopold Szondi have been demonized and maligned by Alexander Dvorkin, vice-president of FECRIS, on the website of FECRIS’ affiliate organization in Russia: Saint Ireneus of Lyons Center for Religious Studies in Moscow.

 

Léopold Szondi was a Hungarian psychiatrist. He is known for the psychological tool that bears his name, the Szondi test.

Szondi was born on 11th March 1893 in Nitra, the former Austro-Hungarian Empire and present-day Slovakia. He was raised in a German and Slovak-speaking Jewish family. In June 1944, he was deported with his family to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp on the Kastner train. In December 1944, Szondi and his family, along with other prominent intellectuals, were released to Switzerland after 1,700 American intellectuals paid a large ransom to Adolf Eichmann. He continued to live there after the war. He died in Küsnacht on 24th January 1986 at the age of 92.

Szondi has a few followers in Ukraine that try to adapt his teachings to the modern world and to implement them in various contexts.

Human Rights Without Frontiers Int’l met journalist Konstantin Slobodyanyuk in Odessa and interviewed him about the nefarious influence of some of Alexander Dvorkin’s anti-sect activities in Ukraine. Slobodyanyuk is also the editor-in-chief of Unsolved Crimes” newspaper; he shares the views of Léopold Szondi.

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When “physical discipline” in accord with the Bible conflicts with child welfare

Child Abuse: The Limits of Religious Freedom in America

By Jonathan Merritt

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Indianapolis, 07.09.2016 (The Week) – A woman in Indiana who was charged with child abuse claims that she was merely disciplining her 7-year-old son according to her evangelical Christian beliefs, and is therefore protected under Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Kihn Par Thaing allegedly beat her child with a coat hanger, leaving more than 30 bruises. As justification for her behavior, court documents cite a passage from the Old Testament book of Proverbs claiming that a parent who “spares the rod, spoils the child.”

Thaing’s case has gained widespread attention in a moment when the limits of religious liberty are being adjudicated nationwide. In 2014, Hobby Lobby successfully argued before the Supreme Court that privately held companies should be exempt from providing contraception to their employees if it conflicts with their sincerely held religious convictions. And last year, SCOTUS ruled that a prisoner could grow a beard in accordance with his Muslim beliefs even though it conflicts with the Arkansas Department of Corrections’ regulations. Meanwhile, other appeals to “religious liberty” — such as Christian cake bakers, florists, and photographers who wish to refuse wedding services to LGBT couples — have failed.

Some conservatives speak about religious liberty as if it is the ultimate trump card. Even if the law prohibits an action or deems it discriminatory, they say, religious persons should be exempt if the law conflicts with their beliefs. Cases like Thaing’s take that position to its extreme.

Does religious freedom have limits? If so, then surely child abuse exceeds those limits.

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Review of A Perilous Path: The Misguided Foreign Policy of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton & John Kerry – by Anne R. Pierce

Weak: Obama’s Human Rights Record

A Review by Aaron Rhodes

Obama Vietnam

Washington D.C./Chicago, 15.08.2016 (HuffPost) – It is widely understood, particularly among peoples who have suffered the consequences, that the Obama administration’s foreign policy has downplayed human rights and freedoms; has stressed “stability” over these principles, attempting to assuage dictatorships and murderous ideologies; and has met severe challenges with passivity and equivocation. Anne Pierce is a University of Chicago educated political scientist, a successful author and a professional analyst of American foreign policy. Her writings are informed by an understanding that politics is not a science but a moral quest; that “value neutral” academic analyses fail to penetrate the reality of international politics, and abrogate their responsibility to make moral distinctions.

Her new book, A Perilous Path: The Misguided Foreign Policy of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, is a closely documented history of the Obama administration’s wide-ranging foreign policy failures that also shows the sources of these failures in the moral blindness of Obama’s post-modern cultural relativism and globalism. President Obama and his team have consistently downplayed individual rights in favor of a collectivistic orientation, paying attention mainly to group interests. Human rights have been interpreted broadly, not as individual freedoms as in the United States Constitution.

Obama has demonstrated a “lack of passion for freedom.” Like many leftist academics, he has embraced the falsehood that the United States under previous administrations sought to “impose human rights” as something uniquely American. He has “reversed the transnational movement toward more freedom, even denouncing its objective.” Seeking to end conflict, he has been willing, even eager to compromise with some of the world’s worst human rights abusers. His unilateral concessions have been interpreted – correctly—as weakness. He has squandered the potential of American power to do good by immersing and constraining it within ineffective multilateral efforts. America under Obama has punished its friends and rewarded its enemies. Strategic alliances have been neglected in favor of reliance on the “international community.”

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Persecution of Religious Minorities in the Middle East urges EU to act

Figel’: “Action for Religious Freedom is a Moral Obligation”

Interview by FOREF Europe with Dr. Ján Figeľ, EU Special Envoy for the promotion of FoRB

  JF1

 

Vienna, 03.08.2016 (FOREF Europe) – During his short stay in Vienna, Ján Figeľ, the first Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the European Union, met with Peter Zoehrer, the executive director of FOREF Europe. Mr. Figeľ previously served as Slovakia’s deputy Prime Minister and EU Commissioner. After having been nominated on 6 May 2016 by Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, he will focus on some of the most crucial challenges facing Europe today: the quest for religious freedom, radicalization and intercultural dialogue.   

FOREF Europe: Dr. Ján Figeľ, congratulations to your nomination as the Special Envoy for the promotion of FoRB. Thank you for giving the Forum for Religious Freedom Europe the opportunity to interview you. First of all, we would be interested to know what freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) means to you. 

Ján Figeľ: Before we can clarify the issue of religious freedom, allow me to explain my understanding of the notion of freedom in general. Freedom is always rooted in both moral values and human rights. A free society can only be achieved and sustained on the basis of shared moral values. Already the English philosopher John Locke saw the difference between liberty and license. While liberty is the freedom to do what we ought to do, license is the freedom to do what we want to do. On a similar note Benjamin Franklin stated that “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.” Already long before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, George Washington realized that “Human rights can only be assured among a virtuous people.” In other words, there can be no freedom and no human rights without certain moral obligations and sincere commitments.

Now extending this understanding of freedom to the particular theme of religious freedom as a fundamental human right, I believe that to defend the freedom of conscience, thought and belief is our moral obligation. This moral commitment to freedom is the starting point for both reasonable policies and effective action in field of religious freedom. In a nutshell, this is my personal approach to FoRB.

Would you like to share any personal experiences you had in the matter of religious freedom?

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