The recommendation mentions the incident in Cyprus on December 25th, 2010: "[T]he Assembly calls on Turkey to clarify fully the circumstances surrounding the interruption of the celebration of Christmas Mass in the villages of Rizokarpaso and Ayia Triada in the northern part of Cyprus on 25 December 2010 and to bring to justice those responsible.“
“As recent tragic events have shown, individuals of all religious confessions are increasingly victims of discrimination and aggression – sometimes at the cost of their lives – only because of their religious beliefs. We, the 47 member states of the Council of Europe, strongly condemn such acts and all forms of incitement to religious hatred and violence. Freedom of thought, conscience and religion is an inalienable right enshrined in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and guaranteed by Article 18 of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and by Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, of which the Council of Europe is the custodian. There can be no democratic society based on mutual understanding and tolerance without respect for freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Its enjoyment is an essential precondition for living together.”
It notes that respect for human right and civil liberties, "including freedom of religion or belief, are fundamental principles and aims of the European Union and constitute a common ground in its relations with third countries." In this regard, the resolution urged European officials to "pay increased attention to the subject of freedom of religion or belief and to the situation of religious communities, including Christians, in agreements and cooperation with third countries as well as in human rights reports."
Church of England seeks "to be explicit about the need to counter attempts to marginalise Christianity and to treat religious faith more generally as a social problem."
An overwhelming majority of the British public agree that the exercising of freedom of thought, conscience and religion is important, not only to the British identity, but in key areas of public life, i.e. the workplace. The two cases of Shirley Chaplain and Nadia Eweida were widely supported by the general public in regards to exercising these freedoms.
"Religious freedom should be understood, then, not merely as immunity from coercion, but even more fundamentally as an ability to order one’s own choices in accordance with truth. […] A freedom which is hostile or indifferent to God becomes self-negating and does not guarantee full respect for others. A will which believes itself radically incapable of seeking truth and goodness has no objective reasons or motives for acting save those imposed by its fleeting and contingent interests; it does not have an ‘identity’ to safeguard and build up through truly free and conscious decisions. As a result, it cannot demand respect from other ‘wills’, which are themselves detached from their own deepest being and thus capable of imposing other ‘reasons’ or, for that matter, no ‘reason’ at all. The illusion that moral relativism provides the key for peaceful coexistence is actually the origin of divisions and the denial of the dignity of human beings."
The vast majority of British adults support the general principle that Christians should be free to manifest their faith and exercise their conscience in the workplace without fear of punishment. Very often in the national debate we hear a lot from a small minority, with extreme views, that would like to see the Christian fabric of our nation destroyed. This poll suggests that their voice is not representative of the vast majority of the British public.
NGOs call for mindfulness with regard to intolerance and discrimination against Christians also in Europe. Read details and quotes in this press release.
In its 2010 Report on International Religious Freedom, the US state department cites a number of cases of intolerance against Christians in the United Kingdom.
Our key recommendations for the OSCE Summit in Kazakhstan in December 2010, based upon documentation of current discrimination of Christians in Europe:
"This is an intervention, presented by Barbara Vittucci, on behalf of the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians, an organization that monitors and documents such cases in Europe (www.IntoleranceAgainstChristians.eu). Increasingly Christians report to us that they are being discriminated against or treated in an intolerant manner or that they become victims of hate crimes, East and West of Vienna..."
"In the context of working with individuals and the related social issues regarding growing occurrences of discrimination against Christians, we also observe legislative developments. What seems to be advancement in one area of Human Rights sometimes can backfire in another. We have identified four problematic areas with regard to freedom of religion, when looking at the rights of Christians..."
The general public think a strong bias exists against Christians in British public life and that this is set to increase in the future. According to a ComRes poll, commissioned by Premier Christian Media in May 2010, across all four areas of public life (in public, in the media, in the Government and in the workplace) on average, approximately a third of respondents thought the marginalisation of Christians in public life is increasing.
The majority of Christians had not directly experienced victimisation, finds Premier Christian Media's polling. 12% of the "Freedom of the Cross" respondents had directly experienced it. In fact, the majority of respondents had either known of a close contact (a friend or a family member) that had been marginalised.
Both Christians and non-Christians believe religious freedom constitutes an important part of the British identity; consequently the majority of the British public believe people should have the right to wear religious symbols in the workplace if they wish to. In fact, 4 out of 5 respondents (81%), in a public opinion poll conducted in April 2010, agreed that “people have a right to wear and show a cross at work if they want to, whatever their job.”
French Governmental Services of Classified Information (les Renseignements Généraux) and the Police Department released that the number of vandalism acts towards Christian places of worship amount to 389, an increase of 40% compared to the 2008 figures.
A significant number of Christians perceive a strong bias exists against Christians, in favour of other groups i.e. other religions and those of a different sexual orientation. This bias occurs in all areas of public life including Government, the media and in the Courts’ application/ interpretation of equalities and anti-discrimination legislation. For example, in a C-Panel poll, conducted in November 2009, two thirds of Christians (66%) believed there was more negative discrimination against Christians than people of other faiths.
"Protect freedom of speech by abandoning its opposition to the free speech protection clause currently within the sexual orientation hatred offence which preserves the right to, discuss, criticise and urge to refrain from certain forms of sexual conduct or practices.”