Rights of minorities of faith and belief
Freedom of religion and belief entitles all people to manifest their faith, alone or in the company of others, in public or in private. It also includes the right to change one’s religion, to challenge other people’s faith or to have no religion or belief. Freedom of religion and belief is closely related to freedom of speech, the right to a private life and freedom of assembly and association.
Violence, intolerance and discrimination based on religious affinity and belief pose a problem even in established democracies. Frequently, religious minorities experience restrictions on their freedom of religion and belief in their encounters with the religion of the majority. This also applies to minorities within the majority religions.
In some countries, the majority population is discriminated against by the ruling minority.
The situation may also involve the abuse of people’s freedom of religion and belief as a means of restricting or depriving individuals of their rights, for example by discriminatory practices against women, or by states justifying otherwise illegal initiatives by referring to the freedom of religion and belief.
Grants provided through civil society are intended to promote freedom of religion and belief, with particular emphasis on minorities of faith and belief. Improving their situation requires long-term efforts to create positive attitudes, as well as the involvement of religious organisations and faith-based groups. The support can include both targeted and inclusive interventions.