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: