The Launch event on 28 June
BRUSSELS—On June 28 at the Solvay Library, situated just behind the European Parliament in the Parc Leopold, a large group of faith and government representatives met in what has been termed the launch of the Faith and Freedom Summit.
So much hope was placed upon this conference to address and resolve the divisions caused by intolerance that Archbishop Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher from the World Evangelical Alliance attended just after meeting with Pope Francis in Rome to receive the personal blessings of the Pontiff and his wishes for the Summit’s success.
The 80 participants—religious leaders and scholars, human rights advocates, members of the European Parliament, and other leaders from throughout Europe—included representatives from the United States and from as far away as Indonesia. The impressive list of speakers and panellists made it maybe the most important event on Freedom of Religion that happened in Brussels since decades. The list included:
Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief; Jan Figel, EU Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the European Union; Amjad Bashir MEP, Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, European Parliament; Sam Brownback, U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom; Congressman Bob McEwen, Former Member, American Delegation to the European Parliament; Richard Milsom, Chief Executive of the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe; Bashy Quraishy, Secretary General of EMISCO (European Muslim Initiative for Social Cohesion); Ivan Espinosa de los Monteros, Director of International Affairs for VOX (Spanish political party); Dr. Eli Nacht, Official Representative of International Committee of Human Rights in Israel; Patricia Duval, Human Rights Attorney; Willy Fautre, Director of Human Rights Without Frontiers International; Dr Aaron Rhodes, President of the Forum for Religious Freedom-Europe; Professor Marco Ventura,Professor of Law & Religion at University of Siena; Hans Noot, Director of the Gerard Noodt Foundation; Ivan Arjona, President of the European Office of the Church of Scientology for Public Affairs and Human Rights; Greg Mitchell, Co-Chair, International Religious Freedom Roundtable; Vincent Berger, Former Jurisconsult of European Court of Human Rights; Archibishop Thomas Schirrmacher, President of the International Society for Human Rights; Dr. Juan Ferreiro Galguera, Professor of Law and Religion, University of A Coruña; Rosita Soryte, Lithuanian diplomat, President of the International Observatory of Religious Liberty of Refugees; Kristina Arriaga de Bucholz, USCIRF Commissioner and Vice-Chairwoman of the Commission; Dr. Alessandro (Alex) Amicarelli, Chairman of the European Federation for Freedom of Belief (FOB); Martin Weightman, Director of the All Faiths Network; Adina Portaru, Legal Counsel for ADF International in Belgium; Eric Roux, Vice President of the European Office of the Church of Scientology for Public Affairs and Human Rights.
Of the launch event of the Faith and Freedom Summit
Agenda of the Faith and Freedom Summit Launch event - 28 June 2018
Registration and Coffee
Keynote Speech by Richard Milsom, Chief Executive of the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe
Video Address by Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur of Freedom of Religion or Belief
Activists Panel Discussion
While the EU has adopted strong commitments in favor of freedom of religion and belief in its external policy, too often its internal application of this fundamental right is left lacking. The distinguised religious freedom activists of this panel will discuss the need to consider the real issues that exist today regarding freedom of religion in EU member states, and explore ways for the EU to take responsibility to live up internally to what we preach externally. Discussion will be followed by Q&A with the room.
Keynote Speech by Jan Figel, EU Special Envoy for Promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief outside the European Union
Keynote Speech by Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher, Archbishop and President of the International Society of Human Rights
Fireside Chat with Politicians
With the 2019 European elections in view, the politicians of this non-partisan panel will assess areas that need to be improved regarding the protection of freedom of religion or belief, and will discuss the possibilities to outline policies toward a greater respect of religious diversity in Europe. It shall provide participants with valuable insights into why EU citizens must enjoy a real freedom of religion or belief, at every level, and how this fundamental right could be given the importance it deserves in EU institutions. Discussion will be followed by Q&A with the room.
Special Address by Congressman Bob McEwen, Former Member, American Delegation to European Parliament
Video Address by Sam Brownback, US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom
Keynote Speech by Kristina Arriaga de Bucholz, USCIRF Commissioner and Vice-Chairwoman
Keynote Speech by Salvatore Martinez, Representative of the Italian Presidency of the OSCE, in Charge of Freedom of Religion, and President of the Vatican Foundation International Center Family of Nazareth
Law and Religion Panel Discussion
The distinguished legal and religious experts of this panel will discuss the challenging necessity of addressing Freedom of Religion or Belief as an important topic to be tackled by EU institutions. They will discuss how and why European institutions have both the capacity and ability to address freedom of religion in EU countries and a duty to do so. Discussion will be followed by Q&A with the room.
Keynote Speech by Eric Roux, Vice President of the European Office of the Church of Scientology for Public Affairs and human Rights
Activists Panel Discussion
EU citizens must enjoy a real freedom of religion or belief, at every level, and if this fundamental right is not given the importance it deserves in the EU institutions, and in the EU instruments to protect the various freedoms of EU citizens, it is a symptom of failure for the EU. This international high-level Human Rights activists’ panel will discuss how Freedom of Religion or Belief is or is not in the DNA of the European Union, explore international initiatives that exist outside and could be reproduced inside, real challenges such as the relationship between freedom of religion and the refugee issue, and the need to defend the freedom of conscience and religion of all individuals by rejecting and speaking out against bigotry, discrimination, harassment and violence, and so build a more equitable society for all. Discussion will be followed by Q&A with the room.
Keynote Speech by Hans Noot, Director of the Gerard Noodt Foundation