Religious Freedom Is Today a Minority Phenomenon in the World
Bratislava/Brussels, September 13 (TASR) - Where religious freedom is not respected, not only manifestations of intolerance and discrimination can be seen but very often there is also persecution and even annihilation that international law calls genocide, EU's Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the Union said on Tuesday in an interview with TASR.
Figel further said that his role and at the same time the role of the European Union is to protect and promote this freedom at present.
"Religious freedom is now rather a minority phenomenon in the world, which means that a clear majority of people live in countries where there are major obstacles to religious freedom. Such a population amounts up to 79 percent according to expert summaries. The development is negative, and the trend is an increase in the number of conflicts or countries where religious persecution occurs, and this condition and developmen
t needs to be changed for the better," he said.
At present, MEPs are holding talks about strengthening Jan Figel's mandate. Within these changes, they also propose that he be strengthened from the level of a special envoy to a special representative, which already means a tie to the member states represented in the Council of the EU.
Figel went on to say that at the start of his mandate, he was confronted with misunderstandings and aloofness, but according to him, this is already changing.
One of the challenges was his visit to Sudan where he undertook several diplomatic talks about the release of Czech missionary Petr Jasek. "I'm grateful that we have EU leaders who are willing to fight for persecuted Christians, make efforts and travel to the places where they are," Petr Jasek told TASR commenting on his release. Thanks to the above-mentioned diplomatic activities, eight Sudanese activists were released too.
After the Middle East, Southeast Asia is another important regional priority for Figel, who says that it is experiencing a growing trend of radicalism, radicalisation, violent extremism and violation of freedom of conscience. "The greatest problems today are in Myanmar, where brutal crimes against humanity, up to the manifestations of genocidal persecution of Muslim Rohingya, have been committed. This must be terminated not only in terms of persecution, but also in the setting up of justice that is a prerequisite for a return of refugees from Bangladesh," he said.
The article is available here.