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Institute report to UN details systematic religious discrimination in Belgium

ICC Note: Christians are suffering from discrimination in Belgium . The government is claiming that Christian groups are dangerous to society and are being closely monitored because of ‘dangerous acts.’ We must pray for our brothers and sister in Christ.

6/17/08 Washington, DC (IRPP) – As part of a United Nations process to combat the defamation of religions, the Institute on Religion and Public Policy has submitted a report to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights chronicling religious freedom abuses in Belgium.

According to the report, over the last decade Belgium has drawn criticism from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the UN and others for its state policy of improperly distinguishing between religions and “harmful sects.” The classification has resulted in the blacklisting of hundreds of religious groups: in 1997, the government listed 189 groups as sects; today, that number is about 600. The 1997 list, which operated as a blacklist, included Protestant groups, Zen Buddhists, Hasidic Jews and even the YWCA.

The Belgian government, through its sect observatory, or Center for Information and Advice on Harmful Sectarian Organizations (CIAOSN), continues to discriminate against religious groups. On June 6, 2008, during a conference celebrating its 10-year anniversary, the Observatory honed in on African Pentecostals, casting them as “dangerous” and “harmful.”

In a 2006 meeting with Institute President Joseph K. Grieboski, Observatory President Henri de Cordes announced that the Observatory was monitoring Roman Catholic churches in Belgium “because of dangerous, sect-like activities – like singing, speaking in tongues, and dependence on a central charismatic leader” within the Catholic Church.

“The groups labeled as ‘sects’ are accused by the government of being dangerous to society, are the targets of oppressive and discriminatory measures designed to impede their growth and very existence, and are the subject of public pronouncements that they must be ‘fought’ against by every strata of society,” the Institute report to the UN notes.

Following the December 2007 UN Resolution 62/154 on “Combating Defamation of Religions,” the UN Secretary-General is in the process of submitting a report to the General Assembly on the resolution’s implementation. Concern about defamation of religions has grown since the publication of the Mohammed cartoons in Denmark .

To read the full Institute report, click here.