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An e-Digest on Freedom of Religion or Belief – 25 years of thought by four UN Special Rapporteurs

GENEVA (10 March 2011) – From freedom from coercion, to State religion; from the right to manifest one's religion or belief, to religious intolerance and extremism: on the 25th anniversary of the mandate’s establishment, UN Special Rapporteur Heiner Bielefeldt launched today a key reference e-book compiling observations and recommendations by the four independent experts who have served on the Freedom of Religion or Belief mandate since 1986.

In its 25 years of existence, the mandate has identified worrying trends relating to intolerance, discrimination and violence against individuals based on their religion or belief. “As demonstrated by the attacks in the last months, members of religious or belief minorities experience a shocking degree of public resentment or even hatred,” warned the Special Rapporteur.

The “Rapporteur's Digest on Freedom of Religion or Belief” is a 108-page downloadable compilation of relevant excerpts from reports produced by
Mr. Bielefeldt (Germany, since August 2010), Ms. Asma Jahangir (Pakistan, 2004-2010), Mr. Abdelfattah Amor (Tunisia, 1993-2004), and Mr. Angelo d'Almeida Ribeiro (Portugal, 1986-1993).

For ease of reference, the Digest is arranged by the five topics of the Rapporteur’s framework for communications. The first category deals, among other issues, with elements of the right to freedom of religion or belief, religious symbols and the right of parents to ensure the religious and moral education of their children.

It then explores discrimination on the basis of religion or belief, inter-religious discrimination, and tolerance, as well as State religion. The third category deals with vulnerable groups, including women, children, refugees, members of minorities, migrant workers and persons deprived of their liberty.

The fourth topic covers situations where the right to freedom of religion intersects with violations of other human rights, such as freedom of expression and opinion – including questions related to religious conflicts, religious intolerance and extremism – as well as the rights to life and to liberty. Finally, the fifth category covers cross-cutting issues, including international provisions on limitations and derogations.

Download your e-Digest copy: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/religion/docs/RapporteursDigestFreedomReligionBelief.pdf

For more information and media requests please contact Michael Wiener (Tel.: +41 22 917 9159 / email: mwiener@ohchr.org) or write to freedomofreligion@ohchr.org.