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EU urges member states to protect religious freedom21 August 2019

EU foreign policy chief honors victims of acts of violence based on religion or faith, but bloc's record has been challenged

Protecting freedom of thought, conscience, and religion is a duty for the EU and its member states, the EU foreign policy chief said on Wednesday. 

“Persecution as a response to religious belief or affiliation, or lack thereof, is a violation of international law and requires joint work to combat it,” said Federica Mogherini in a statement marking International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence based on Religion or Belief. 

Mogherini also said the EU has always been at the frontline in promoting and protecting religious freedom. 

“EU legislation obliges Member States to penalize the intentional public incitement to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to, among others, religion or belief,” said Mogherini. 

“Marginalization and scapegoating of persons belonging to religious minorities can be an early warning sign of more severe persecution, as well as a wider crackdown on the whole society,” she added.

EU member states such as Greece have long been accused of violating the rights of minority Turkish Muslims within their borders, in some cases violating European Court of Human Rights rulings in doing so. 

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