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EU strengthens religious freedom

New guidelines tackle discrimination and persecution

Mike MacLachlan, London
United Kingdom

June 25, 2013

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European Union foreign ministers adopted new guidelines designed to better ensure freedom of religion following a meeting in Brussels on Monday.

The EU decision fulfils a commitment made in a human rights strategy document a year ago.

The guidelines set out priorities and ways to promote religious freedom, aiming to support people facing discrimination, taking action when it occurs and preventing religious persecution in future.

“Religious freedom is neither about excluding religion or belief from our societies, nor about promoting any particular belief,” said Sofia Lemmetyinen, senior advocate at the EU for Christian Solidarity Worldwide. “[It is] about creating an environment conducive to the development of democratic, peaceful and pluralist societies.”

Meanwhile, a British parliamentary report to be published on Wednesday calls on the government to take stronger action on violations of religious freedom around the world.

The report, from the newly formed all-party parliamentary group on international religious freedom, was drawn up by leading academics with testimony from human rights and faith-based groups including the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.

The document will call on the British government to further efforts to ensure freedom of belief for people around the world. 

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