Freedom of religion and belief is an indivisible and inalienable human right, yet it is in peril across the world. Freedom of religion is also an important indicator of the state of other rights and freedoms, and thus important part of supporting freedom, democracy and prosperity across the world.
From the Xinjiang region of China to the Middle East, or countries across Africa such as Mozambique, Ethiopia and Nigeria, freedom of religion and belief continues to be under constant severe threat, be it from Islamist fundamentalists and other radical groups, the Chinese Communist Party and other authoritarian regimes across the globe, or from the far-Left and far-Right of the political spectrum.
Persecution based on religion or belief contributes to the unprecedented levels of migration facing Europe as hundreds of thousands of people are uprooted because of continued attacks, even genocides, perpetrated against them.
According to the organisation Open Doors, in the past year, there has been a 60% increase in the number of Christians killed for their faith.
Supporting the freedom of religion and belief, and religious tolerance more broadly, is therefore, a key to addressing many of the challenges we’re facing today.
It is also why together with other colleagues from across this House, we continue to call on the European Commission to renew the post of the EU Special Envoy for the Freedom of Religion and Belief as soon as possible, so that the EU is a leading voice in defending those whose rights and freedoms continue to be violated.
As the situation worsens, current pandemic and its consequences do not merely make our leadership more pressing – it makes it absolutely necessary.
Photo: Jaromír Novák/European Parliament Information Office in Slovakia