The Forum for Religious Freedom Europe (FOREF Europe) is an independent, secular, civil society formation dedicated to defending the freedom of religion in accordance with international law. The NGO was founded in Vienna, on December 20, 2005, by Prof. Christian Brünner, former Dean of the School of Law (1983-1985) and former Rector (1985-1989) of the University of Graz as well as former member of parliament (1990-1994), and Peter Zoehrer, a human rights activist and freelance journalist.
FOREF Europe regularly reports to the media, OSCE, US-State Department, and human rights organizations on religious freedom violations in the OSCE-region and beyond. FOREF Europe has established an international scientific board of experts as well as an interdenominational religious board. Since its establishment, FOREF Europe has achieved a number of important victories in helping victims of religious intolerance to gain respect for their rights and be vindicated from injustice, discrimination or persecution. FOREF Europe’s Facebook community numbers over 2500 members.
In 2014, FOREF Europe named international human rights activist Dr. Aaron Rhodes president. FOREF’s executive director is Peter Zoehrer.
The mandate of FOREF Europe is:
- The protection of the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief
- The promotion of basic democratic principles and the Rule of Law
- The monitoring and documentation of official and public intolerance against religious communities and advancing religious tolerance
- Advocacy with local, national, and international authorities and civil society
- The promotion of objective approaches to understanding new religious movements
- Supporting civil society’s ability to pro-actively find solutions to inter-religious conflicts
FOREF Europe seeks to promote the vision found in Article 18 of the Universial Declaration of Human Rights:
“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, alone or in community with others, and, in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”