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Persecuted for "wrong" religion: where is the outcry over the global scandal?

The Charter of Human Rights is not a menu card to choose from at will.

The restrictions on freedom that we have to endure are grave, painful, an imposition and - not least - a legal balancing act. This virus leaves little choice.

We wait for children to experience normal everyday school life. That restaurants, coffees and Heurige open. That big celebrations can take place again, at home, in bars. That it will be possible again to go to the cinema, theater, concert, fitness center, yoga and dance studio, to travel. After the opening steps announced on Friday, the restrictions will remain manifold until mid-May.

Freedom is a special good, something worth protecting. If it is restricted, as it is now in the pandemic, it hurts us. How far can freedom be curtailed in the pandemic in favor of another good, health? Religious freedom too. After all, we may not remember that at times prayers and ritual acts were only possible in the houses of all religious communities if a maximum of ten people were present.

Freedom of religion is generally an underexposed human right. Article 18 of the Declaration of Human Rights formulates: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes the freedom to change one's religion or worldview, as well as the freedom to profess one's religion or worldview (...) publicly or privately (...). ”So far, so clear.

But freedom of religion is trampled on in a third of countries, including particularly populous ones like China and India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nigeria. Overall, two thirds (!) Of humanity are therefore affected by religious persecution. In 30 countries people are even murdered for reasons of faith. In every fifth country people who leave their religious community face massive legal or social consequences. That was the result of a report published a few days ago by the papal foundation “Church in Need” on religious freedom worldwide. It was not noticed at all or with a shrug of the shoulders. Of course, not only is the persecution of Christians documented in the report; Muslims, Jews, Hindus and others are also victims.

The Charter of Human Rights is not a menu card from which one or the other can be chosen at will and one or the other can be left out. Again: Two out of three people are currently being persecuted because of their religion, and the trend is rising. Where are reactions, actions, sanctions from politics, diplomacy and business? Where is the outcry from society? ⫻

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("Die Presse", print edition, April 25th, 2021)