The CAP on-line petition to “Stop Proposed Legislation in Council of Europe that poses a Serious Threat to Religious Freedom” has reached 10,000 signatures – in just over one week. The petition addresses international concern raised over a report drafted in the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly “On the protection of minors against excesses of sects”. The Report and Resolution will be voted on the April 10, amidst considerable controversy.
The petition says “If this legislation is adopted, it will constitute a major step backwards for religious tolerance and the rights of religious minorities in the 47 countries that comprise the Council of Europe” and goes on to explain that the “draconian legislation adopts the controversial and internationally criticized French policies towards minority religious movements. The proposed measures recommended in the Report represent an attempt to target families of minority religious organizations, which in turn violates the fundamental freedoms of millions of members of minority faiths throughout the Council of Europe and stimulates hostility towards them by stigmatizing targeted religious groups.”
CAP has also produced a brochure on the subject “Sects: a non-problem”. The brochure compares the excessive statements made by French rapporteur, Rudy Salles, with various statements made by French officials and the French agency MIVILUDES (Interministerial Mission for the Fight Against Sectarian Deviances).
At the heart of the matter is the crucial point that whilst Mr. Salles and his like have for years been stating that there is a problem, MIVILUDES, the very body that has been tasked to look into the supposed problem has not found any evidence. Yet absurdly, they all continue to assert that there is a problem – in the face of their own evidence that there is not.
The CAP report firstly highlights a 2006 French Parliamentary inquiry into the subject. French officials for the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Youth Sports and Community Services and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (to mention just a few) made statements that the supposed sectarian problem “was very marginal”, “there was no incident involving children,” and “we have not had any cases.” It then goes on to quote from the only other significant report issued by the MIVILIDES to date – a survey of different European countries – which again showed that there was no significant concern in the vast majority of countries.
So, after two significant attempts to find proof of a problem have failed in France, a French Member of Parliament has written a report for the Council of Europe, which again fails to find evidence of a problem, yet again it proposes that repressive measures, measures that violate human rights principles, should be implemented.
It is this ludicrous situation that has raised the concern of more than ten thousands citizens in such a short time. The petitioners urge the Council of Europe parliamentarians “to vote against this repressive legislation”.