Religious freedoms "significantly impaired" in forty percent of all countries



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Brussels, Belgium

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PTC Opener John on (Already recorded inside hall) Inter-religious dialogue has increasingly become buried under a wave of intolerance in Europe and wars of extremism, particularly in the Middle East and Africa. Now a new study here at this EPP Group sponsored congress reveals that nearly half the world´s countries have experienced or are experiencing significant declines in religious freedom. John off The EPP Group´s 17th Annual inter-religious dialogue brought together religious leaders, policymakers and eyewitnesses to recent religious wars. Calls for new religious literacy among Europe´s policymakers, citizens and media, as well as the threat posed by Islamic State, Boko Haram and other extremist terror groups were forcefully addressed. Peter Sefton-Williams, editor in chief of the World-wide Religious Freedom Report in 2014, was blunt: 81 countries, more than 40 percent of the world's total, he said, were restricting freedom of religious belief and choice. Interview Peter Sefton-Williams on 03:14-03:28 Cutaway 02:40 - 02:51 The religiously inspired violence and the lack of religious freedom and persecution in the last two years have been getting gravely worse. And although I´m not a politician and can offer the answers this is a serious matter which must be taken much more seriously. Within the Christian churches and Jewish groups and other religious groups they have to speak much more clearly and with more force and with one voice against religious violence. John off At the end of a recent visit to Turkey Pope Francis called on Muslim leaders to speak out very clearly against violence in the name of religion. Christians reportedly remain the most persecuted religious group, due in part to their sheer numbers and wide geographical spread. Manfred Weber, Chairman of the EPP Group, said European Christians must not forget that the right to celebrate Christmas is not universally respected. Manfred Weber Chairman EPP Group ex-Conference Weber on 02:14 - 02:23 cutaway 01:12 - 01:27 This topic of radicalisation moves us, especially now when we look to the Middle East, and is definitely a political task for us. (cutaway) I may justifiably speak from the Christian democratic point of view when talking about persecution of Christians, which from the sheer numbers of persecuted people represents the largest number. And then there are the many, many other religious communities which are suffering from persecution today. John off Mariya Gabriel, Vice-Chair of the EPP Group for the Mediterranean region, said European values needed to be upheld in the face of such violence. Interview Mariya Gabriel, Vice-Chair, the EPP Group on 02:08 - 02:21 (cutaway) 02:47-02:59 For the EPP Group and European Union it's vital to consider today the dangers represented by the Islamic State, in all its dimensions. They represent a threat to our values. A threat to peace. Our position today is to prepare ourselves for greater action, but mainly to protect minorities, including Christian minorities, in the name of our values. pix John off Orthodox Metropolitan Emmanuel of France concluded that religious leaders have to go back to basics. Millions of people in Iraq and Syria, he said, are being driven out of their homes; most are never going back. Metropolitan Emmanuel of France 00:14- 00:29 (cutaway) 02:31 - 02:43 Definitely religious community persecution is not something new in history. We had it already in the Old Testament and we had it throughout the centuries and even today. (cutaway) The message of religion is to approach the other with compassion, with love, and not with fear, rejection and war. PTC Close John on Experts say religious freedom has come under extreme and existential threat through persecution, none more so in 2014 than for the Christian faith in the Middle East. Restoring that freedom, a freedom of choice, lies with the religious communities themselves, not with armies of so-called holy war. Find out more about the largest political force in Parliament by going to eppgroup.eu Thanks for looking in, and enjoy an uplifting, and safe holiday season, wherever you are spending it. Headline Religious freedoms "significantly impaired" in forty percent of all countries Description The EPP Group 17th annual conference on Interreligious Dialogue reveals rise of religious intolerance in Europe and wars of extremism, particularly in the Middle East and Africa and call for greater efforts to stem religious-driven violence. Tags Manfred Weber, Peter Sefton-Williams, Mariya Gabriel, Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, EPP Inter-religious dialogue, EPP Group, European Parliament, Brussels
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