European Parliament candidates were urged to affirm their support of religious freedom at a conference April 2 organized by the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe (ACRE) at the European Parliament.
The conference called on all candidates seeking election 23 to 26 May to sign a pledge to “uphold and defend the freedom of conscience and religion of all individuals by rejecting and speaking out against bigotry, discrimination, harassment, and violence.”
Richard Milsom, chief executive of the coalition, described these elections as “arguably the most important in the EU’s history.”
The pledge is supported by Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Religion or Belief, and has been signed by several Members of the European Parliament, including UK Socialist member Claude Moraes, chair of the civil liberties committee; and Czech MEP Jan Zahradil, a candidate for European Commission President.
ACRE supports the formation of an all-party parliamentary intergroup to investigate instances of discrimination based on religion or belief within the EU and a task force within the Fundamental Rights Agency to tackle the issue of religious discrimination. The coalition also wants to establish an open platform comprised of MEPs, civil society members and others that would be in charge of monitoring discrimination based on religion.
“We want to highlight where religious freedom is hindered in the European Union today, to assess areas that need to be improved as regards the protection of freedom of religion or belief, and to be a force for good,” said Ivan Arjona, who heads the Church of Scientology European Office of Public Affairs and Human Rights.
ACRE is a nonpartisan coalition of 17 organizations dedicated to issues including individual liberty, national sovereignty, parliamentary democracy and the rule of law.