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EU Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief must remain!

Joint press release of the ojcos foundation and the Evangelical Alliance in Germany

Religious Freedom is a human right. Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion”. Nevertheless, the persecution of religious minorities is increasing worldwide. Up to 200 million Christians alone have to live with restrictions and persecution, but Yezidi, Ahmadiyya, Buddhists, Jews, Bahai or Muslims are also affected. With the appointment of a Commissioner for Global Freedom of Religious, the German Government has sent a clear signal in this legislative period that it will not tolerate these human rights violations and will raise them in international negotiations.

However, for this commitment to be successful, Europe must also speak with a clear voice here. The current discussion about not continuing the office of the Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, which the Slovakian Ján Figeľ held from 2016 to 2019, is more than counterproductive for the cause and a slap in the face for the persecuted.

We have clearly expressed our concern to various members of the German and the European Parliament. We therefore welcome the cross-party resolution by 135 members of the CDU/CSU, SPD and FDP parliamentary groups in the German Bundestag who are in favour of retaining the office of the Special Envoy, as well as the positive signals that have been sent to us from the EU Parliament.

Together with the parliamentarians, we, as non-governmental organizations, call on the EU Commission to rethink its deliberations in the next few days and to reoccupy the office as quickly as possible, to anchor it in the budget in the long term and to provide it with appropriate funding.

A strong Europe is a community of values, oriented towards human rights and freedom.

David Müller, Political Advocate for Religious Freedom in Iraq, ojcos foundation, Reichelsheim

Uwe Heimowski, Commissioner at the German Bundestag and the German Government, German Evangelical Alliance, Berlin