The importance of Religious Freedom for Europe

EU Freedom of Religion and Belief (FoRB) policy: Considerations on Ján Figel‘s final report by Alberto Melloni, professor of History of Christianity at the University of Modena-Reggio and Chair Holder of the Unesco Chair on Religious Pluralism and Peace for his university and the University of Bologna

Struck by the scourge of COVID-19, grappling with the most unexpected and drastic rethinking of the industrial and macroeconomic paradigms of globalisation and forced to accept the dramatic prophecy Romano Prodi made to Le Monde in 2002 (“the stability pact is stupid, like all decisions which are rigid”), Europe will not have time to consider a very important matter which the Juncker’s presidency handed over to that of von der Leyen, the defense of the right to freedom of religion or belief in its external relations.

Jan Figel’ with Card. Parolin (Vatican Secretary of State)

It was, in fact, on 6 May 2016 that the European Commission decided to create the function of “Special Envoy for the promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief outside the EU” appointing Ján Figel’, a Slovakian politician former European Commissioner. In doing so, the Commission responded to a resolution of the European Parliament of February 2016 requesting to create a Special representative on Freedom Of Religion and Belief (FoRB). This decision, regarder with condescension by a secularist provincialism that is unaware of the more profound hence less apparent impulses of international politics, was more crucial than ever.

The USA has always made the issue of religious freedom a distinguishing mark of its foreign policy. Any desertion of this question by Europe would have confirmed the idea that there was only one (American) policy of religious freedom because there was only one international (American) actor capable of acting on it. It was, therefore, essential to support Freedom Of Religion and Belief scaling up the European voice and action reducing the hegemony of the American evangelical world, which has fought to make room in strategic areas of the world for a religious sensitivity that could be politically manoeuvred by and towards the right.

A European presence was also necessary to break the parallelism of reciprocity, particularly in Islamic areas: those countries where political Islam has assumed power are also those in which the persecution of native Christian religious minorities has found protection and indulgence. In many European countries this has raised the voices both of those who cry out against such violent policies and of those who, invoking a kind of “reciprocity”, justify acts of Islamophobia (promoting and complying with anti-Semitic ones) by those actions.

Finally, direct action, linked to the European ability to present itself, was very useful to accompany the EU’s international cooperation and external relations: in many contexts it encounters the presence of communities of faith that can either be formidable driving forces or insurmountable obstacles to a policy that sees as its objective the spread of the founding values of peace promoted by a Europe of rights.

Special Envoy Figel, notwithstanding the very limited capacity of his office and the minimal resources mobilized by the Commission for his work, committed himself with a dedication and success that could in no way have been taken for granted. His personal political history as a man of deep conservative roots could have made those who thought that the Envoy should merely be an idle, yet severe, critic of violations skeptical. The “executive” face of the Special Envoy’s office might have aroused mistrust in the European Parliament’s policy, led by Antonio Tajani, who had adopted a different approach to the problems of religious pluralism by favoring the meeting of religious leaders in the European hemicycle: leaders who, in solemn words, as is customary in these ceremonies, disavowed violence based on religion but whose lack effectiveness might appear to be determined either by objective reasons or by a deliberate or unconscious ambiguity.

Figel’, on the contrary, was able to perform a highly successful mission: the profile he took never appeared to be that of someone who exploited human rights in order to destroy dialogue, but rather of a man who was more rigid than others when dealing with sensitive issues (for example, marriage between people of the same sex), yet who always uphold the indivisibility of human rights and advocated for the need to promote them with persuasion, negotiation, diplomacy, personal credibility and discretion. His discrete and brave work contributed substantially, for example, to the liberation of Asia Bibi, of which he did not claim even 1% of the credit for the crucial role he played in this affair that inflamed politics in and on Pakistan.

Figel’ gives back to the European Commission is an enormous responsibility.

The Commission might indeed prefer a more internal solution by transforming the “FORB issue” into a sub-chapter of policies that are anything but secondary (those of human rights, cooperation, external relations), but which, at the very moment when they reduce the constituency of faith communities and the polyvalence of their historical-theological heritages to a mere sub-chapter, openly declaring themselves affected by a religious illiteracy that will fertilise violence and weaken spiritual counterbalances.

The European Commission might, on the other hand, conclude that Figel’s experiment was successful because born out of a specific political circumstance and of a relationship of personal trust between the envoy and the sender, and therefore impossible to reproduce – in this format, at least. In doing so, Europe would lose its voice and its ability to act in this field with the authority of those who recognize a problem as central and, by the mere fact of saying so, qualify both the problem and themselves.

If, on the other hand, the Figel’ experiment evolve into a clear, permanent mandate, this will be a sign that the Union has understood something decisive. The “temperature” of religious belief rose throughout the entire season of secularisation, that is to say, from the beginning of the 19th century to the first 8 decades of the 20th century. In the post-secular period, which has lasted for half a century, even though it has been perceived to have lasted less, what used to be a normal division in the communities of faith has changed because religious experience has always proved to be capable of producing either an awareness of rights or an integralist restriction of them, instances of social division or instances of justice, thoughts of peace and thoughts of war. It has been the implantation of divided hermeneutics, and their dissemination through the construction of theological cultures and historical-religious knowledge, that has designed relationships of power: secularist negligence, which has confused separation with ignorance, neutrality with illiteracy, distinction with ignorance, has favored those paths that an erroneous language calls “radical”, and which are instead mere terrorism, political violence and racist intolerance “rooted” in the ground of religious belief.

In this context, the instrumentation of “dialogue” has often been limited to a ritual exchange of affection between religious leaders, the diplomacy of religious belief has been reduced to a pathetic ostentation of the importance of the voice of communities of faith in political and social processes, and cooperation in the more unstable countries had been limited to a mythological exaltation of territorial actions in which an audience and a set of themes have been invented. Starting from a stabilized attention to the “FoRB issue” on a global scale would be a way to signal a shift in paradigm that does not end in this very field (more research, more politics, more cooperation capable of creating authoritative voices and more resilient knowledge are needed), but which finds its specific visibility here.

109 comments

  1. Pingback: cheap cialis generic

  2. Pingback: viagra generic name

  3. Pingback: buy chloroquine online uk

  4. Pingback: buy hydroxychloroquine

  5. Pingback: RELIGIOUS FREEDOM "CHALLENGED" WORLDWIDE, BUT EUROPEAN COMMISSION TERMINATES FoRB SPECIAL ENVOY MANDATE - Foref Europe

  6. Pingback: European Commission revives Special Envoy on freedom of religion or belief - The Social News in the EU

  7. Pingback: careprost buy online free shipping

  8. Pingback: canada pharmacy discounted viagra 100

  9. Pingback: buy chloroquine phosphate

  10. Pingback: cost of generic viagra per pill

  11. Pingback: Cialis 80 mg cheap

  12. Pingback: buy cialis online without prescription

  13. Pingback: catapres without a prescription

  14. Pingback: celebrex 200mg purchase

  15. Pingback: celexa tablets

  16. Pingback: cephalexin for sale

  17. Pingback: claritin price

  18. Pingback: online casino slots no download

  19. Pingback: online casino real money paypal

  20. Pingback: real money casino online

  21. Pingback: ocean casino online

  22. Pingback: casino games

  23. Pingback: play casino

  24. Pingback: general insurance quote

  25. Pingback: sr22 insurance

  26. Pingback: cheap online car insurance quotes

  27. Pingback: 24 hour payday loans

  28. Pingback: quick loans for bad credit

  29. Pingback: online personal loans florida

  30. Pingback: australian essay writing service

  31. Pingback: clomid 50 mg purchase

  32. Pingback: clonidine 0,1mg online pharmacy

  33. Pingback: colchicine 0,5 mg canada

  34. Pingback: symbicort inhaler purchase

  35. Pingback: i need help writing an argumentative essay

  36. Pingback: coreg 25 mg united states

  37. Pingback: compazine 5mg no prescription

  38. Pingback: coumadin united kingdom

  39. Pingback: how to purchase cozaar 25 mg

  40. Pingback: crestor without a prescription

  41. Pingback: admissions essay help

  42. Pingback: cymbalta 60mg united kingdom

  43. Pingback: depakote 250 mg for sale

  44. Pingback: order dramamine 50mg

  45. Pingback: cheap elavil

  46. Pingback: erythromycin pills

  47. Pingback: flomax 0,2 mg uk

  48. Pingback: flonase nasal spray otc

  49. Pingback: cost of garcinia cambogia 100caps

  50. Pingback: how to buy geodon

  51. Pingback: how to purchase hyzaar

  52. Pingback: imdur coupon

  53. Pingback: order imuran 25 mg

  54. Pingback: Renewing the EU’s commitment to the protection of the freedom of religion and belief – Miriam Lexmann

  55. Pingback: lamisil 250 mg online pharmacy

  56. Pingback: levaquin 750mg coupon

  57. Pingback: lopressor 25 mg purchase

  58. Pingback: where can i buy luvox

  59. Pingback: Renewing the EU’s commitment to the protection of the freedom of religion and belief – EURACTIV.com

  60. Pingback: macrobid 50 mg purchase

  61. Pingback: mestinon nz

  62. Pingback: cheap micardis 20mg

  63. Pingback: mobic coupon

  64. Pingback: motrin online pharmacy

  65. Pingback: nortriptyline 25mg tablets

  66. Pingback: periactin for sale

  67. Pingback: plaquenil nz

  68. Pingback: prednisolone 10mg without a doctor prescription

  69. Pingback: prevacid pharmacy

  70. Pingback: procardia 30mg price

  71. Pingback: remeron united states

  72. Pingback: where can i buy retin-a cream

  73. Pingback: robaxin online

  74. Pingback: singulair 4mg over the counter

  75. Pingback: skelaxin 400mg for sale

  76. Pingback: how to buy spiriva 9mcg

  77. Pingback: toprol nz

  78. Pingback: tricor usa

  79. Pingback: verapamil pills

  80. Pingback: voltaren 50mg otc

  81. Pingback: zithromax 100 mg no prescription

  82. Pingback: zovirax usa

  83. Pingback: zyprexa no prescription

  84. Pingback: order zyvox

  85. Pingback: escitalopram 10mg pills

  86. Pingback: aripiprazole otc

  87. Pingback: order pioglitazone 30 mg

  88. Pingback: where can i buy meclizine 25mg

  89. Pingback: order leflunomide 10 mg

  90. Pingback: atomoxetine cheap

  91. Pingback: cheap donepezil 10 mg

  92. Pingback: cheapest anastrozole 1mg

  93. Pingback: irbesartan 300mg cost

  94. Pingback: how to purchase dutasteride

  95. Pingback: olmesartan without prescription

  96. Pingback: buy buspirone

  97. Pingback: clonidine 0.1 mg nz

  98. Pingback: cefuroxime 250 mg pills

  99. Pingback: celecoxib 100mg pills

  100. Pingback: citalopram 20mg coupon

  101. Pingback: cephalexin 500mg cheap

  102. Pingback: ciprofloxacin online pharmacy

  103. Pingback: loratadine canada

  104. Pingback: order clozapine 50mg

  105. Pingback: carvedilol 12.5mg for sale

  106. Pingback: warfarin price

  107. Pingback: rosuvastatin 5mg united kingdom

  108. Pingback: order desmopressin 0.1 mg

  109. Pingback: divalproex cost