Hmmmm . . .
Some more recent participation?
Briefing with the Special Rapporteur freedom of religion and belief
September 21, 2006, NGO side event
On whether she would hold another consultation with religious organizations after the one she already had with the Holy See, Ms. Asma Jahangir said that she considered as very fruitful the meeting. She also stressed the importance of communicating within the international community with actors who have particular interest in freedom of religion.
A participant questioned her about how to build a bridge between Christians and Muslims. Ms. Asma Jahangir highlighted that frank, open and respectful dialogue would help strengthen understandings between two groups. She mentioned cases in Nigeria where an in-depth dialogue among religious prevented violence between religious groups.
A participants raised the question of the lack of freedom of religion in Malaysia, asking how the various religious communities could get together to discuss the urgent issues in this country without official invitation. Ms. Asma Jahangir highlighted the importance of creating a democratic environment in which open discussions are guaranteed, in particular through freedom of religion and freedom of expression.
The sixth questioner asked the personal view of Ms. Jahangir on prohibiting wearing symbols of religion, especially for minors. She stated that "people should leave the Muslim women alone." In some Muslim countries, she said, women have to wear the religions symbols and in some other countries, they don't. Therefore, Muslim women should be given the right to choose according to their preferences and based on their own belief.
A participant introduced from the floor a report on the military conscription system in Turkey and the Republic of Korea, stressing his opposition to such a conscription system and mentioned the persecution of Jehovah's witnesses.
Ms. Jahangir was asked to address the possible role of regional instrument in solving the religious problems. She underlined that regional institutions could indeed provide human rights education tools to fostering religious harmony. She also added that freedom of religion should be accommodated with an attitude of tolerance toward other religions.
The last intervener gave details about the dire situation of freedom of religion and expression in Vietnam. He asked whether Ms. Jahangir had been satisfied with the answers provided by the Vietnamese authorities on the matter of religious freedom and whether she has the intention to visit Vietnam. She answered that indeed she intended to visit Viet Nam in the future.
The chairperson wrapped up the meeting stating that freedom of religion is also closely related to the human rights of women, children and minorities. Conflict situations and clashes between religions could lead to situations of massive human rights violations, in particular against such vulnerable groups.
The meeting on freedom of religion organized by Franciscans International and co-sponsored by Baha'I International Community was chaired by Asma Jahangir, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief. The meeting took the format of an interactive dialogue between the Special Rapporteur and NGO representatives featuring questions and answers.