Welcome boost at UN for conversion rights

November 3, 2012 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

The UN General Assembly Hall

The UN General Assembly Hall

USA, November 2, 2012: The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief has urged the international community to uphold the rights to change religion and to try to convert others by non-coercive means in an important boost for religious freedom. Barnabas Fund has been campaigning for many years for such rights to be internationally affirmed.

Heiner Bielefeldt addressed the UN General Assembly on 25 October, calling upon states consistently to respect, protect and promote four fundamental rights relating to conversion:

The right to change one’s own religion or belief The right not to be forced to convert The right to try to convert others by non-coercive means The rights of the child and his/her parents regarding the above
The independent expert said that the first two have the status of “unconditional protection under international human rights law”; the third “constitutes an inextricable part of freedom of religion or belief” and is also covered by the right to freedom of expression as outlined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

Barnabas Fund strongly welcomes this uncompromising statement, having campaigned on behalf of persecuted converts, particularly Muslim converts to Christianity, for many years. In 2004, we presented our first apostasy petition, which called for “Muslims who choose to convert to another faith” to be “free to do so without having to face a lifetime of fear as a result”, to the UN. It was signed by 88,890 people from 32 countries.

We followed this up with a second petition in 2009 calling for the abolition of the Islamic apostasy law, which prescribes the death penalty for any adult male Muslim who leaves Islam. It was signed by 69,215 people.

Our current Proclaim Freedom campaign aims to press governments to be active in promoting human rights, especially religious freedom, in other countries for all minorities.

It is a great answer to prayer that our efforts and those of other human rights organisations are bearing fruit. The desperate plight of converts has been ignored by the international community for far too long.

– barnabas edit

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