Video: Freedom of Religion or Belief Builds Security


Security is often associated with politics or military protection. But the OSCE’s approach goes a step further, by adding the concept of a human dimension. This means that countries need to respect human rights not just because it’s an obligation, but also to achieve national security. It also means that governments cannot “buy” political stability or “social harmony” at the expense of human rights. In this video, Dmytro Vovk,  member of the OSCE/ODIHR Panel of Experts on Freedom of Religion or Belief and a co-editor of Talk About: Law and Religion, explains why freedom of religion or belief and security should be advanced as non-competitive goals.

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Strengthening Respect for the Principles of the Republic? How French President Emmanuel Macron’s Bill to Stem Islamist Separatism Jeopardizes Religious Freedom

Alexis Artaud de La Ferrière is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Portsmouth and Associate Researcher at the Groupe Sociétés Religions Laïcités (EPHE/CNRS) in Paris

Blandine Chelini-Pont is a full Professor in Contemporary and International History at the School of Law and Political Sciences of Aix-Marseille University

The French Parliament is currently debating a bill tabled by the majority which threatens to fundamentally change the balance of Church-State relations in that country. The “bill to strengthen respect for the principles of the Republic” (widely known as the bill against separatism) is presented by the government as a key element of President Emmanuel Macron’s strategy to counter “the insidious but powerful communitarianism that is slowly eroding the foundations of French society”—namely, radical Islamism.

While some civil society actors have expressed their support for this bill, others warn that it will usher in unprecedented limits to the freedoms of association and religion. So, what should we make of this bill? If it is to pass (which is likely), will it strengthen the Republic against Islamist inspired “separatism”? Or does this legislative hammer risk breaking the common table of laïcité?

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Registration and Deregistration of Religious or Belief Communities and Security

Elizabeth A. Clark is Associate Director, International Center for Law and Religion Studies and Regional Advisor for Europe at the J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University

Presentation at the Ministerial to Advance Freedom of Religion or Belief (November 16, 2020, Warsaw, Poland)

In working with government officials and others around the world, I often hear arguments along these lines: religion and religious extremists pose an existential threat to our country. Freedom of religion or belief is a luxury we cannot afford [1]. We have a responsibility to our people to screen out religious groups that are extremist or a danger to the community. We need to have laws limiting registration and banning extremist groups. Our national security depends on it.

Although this has a certain logic, empirical research shows that this argument turns out to have it backward.  Using registration as a means of screening out new, unknown, or potentially threatening religious groups has been shown to undermine security and increase the likelihood of religion-related violence.

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