In early July, six hundred delegates from over 100 countries attended the International Ministerial Conference on Freedom of Religion Belief, hosted for the first time this year by the UK. The IDS-led Coalition for Religious Equality and Inclusive Development (CREID) convened over twenty of its partners as well as members of its International Advisory Group who spoke at and attended both the Conference’s Civil Society Fringe events and the main Conference itself.
Over the past few months, CREID, along with other civil society actors, has held discussions with the UK Special Envoy on FoRB, Fiona Bruce MP, and the organisational team at FCDO to ensure that civil society voices were present at the Ministerial this year, which, as the name suggests, has previously been largely organised around ambassadorial representations.
As a result, over thirty civil society fringe events were held in the same venue as the Ministerial, along with a similar number hosted in Parliament and elsewhere in London and across the UK.
It was a busy week for CREID partners who hosted four events, one art installation and a stall as part of the Civil Society Fringe. CREID partners were also invited to speak at five of the formal sessions in the Ministerial programme itself.
Additionally, CREID steering committee member, Archbishop Angaelos, co-hosted a Prayer Breakfast with the Bishop of Truro, who lead the initial review into the persecution of Christians which resulted in wider recommendations on FoRB policy to the UK Government.
Finally, CREID Director, Mariz Tadros, was also invited to speak on BBC News live.
Scroll on for links, videos and photos!
CREID at the Civil Society Fringe on Freedom of Religion or Belief
These included four CREID events on:
- Global development and religious inequalities (video)
- Humanitarianism and religious diversity (video)
- Pluralistic and inclusive interfaith approaches to building communities (parliamentary event chaired by Lord Glasman)
- Identifying and countering hate speech (parliamentary event chaired by Rehman Chishti MP) which saw the launch a new toolkit for civil society organisations and activists
Please note that is not possible to record events held in parliament.
Minority Rights Group, a CREID founding member, hosted an interactive display at the Conference, entitled Breaking the Hate Speech Chain. The interactive art installation drew on the recently launched toolkit for civil society organisations and activists, compiled with input from Bargad Organization for Youth Development, Bytes for All, Independent Media Organization Kurdistan, KirkukNow, National Commission for Justice and Peace Pakistan and Peace-Point Myanmar.
CREID was also at the Preventing Violence, Promoting Freedom of Belief Conference, a fringe event organised by the UK FoRB Forum’s Gender & FoRB Working Group (of which CREID is a member). Iqbal Haider Butt, from Bargad, and Emilie Wilson from IDS, took part in a discussion FoRB and digital spaces. We also showcased our “Heritage Story of My Tattoo” banner whose stories and images were compiled by heritage gatherers from Egypt, Iraq and Syria.
Watch again: CREID at the International Ministerial Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief (video links)
CREID partners were also invited to speak at the following formal sessions during the Ministerial Conference:
- Protecting cultural and religious heritage featuring Professor Mariz Tadros, Institute of Development Studies
- Declaration of Humanity featuring Archbishop Angaelos, Refcemi (CREID partner)
- FoRB in times of conflict and insecurity featuring Mays al-Juboori, Minority Rights Group
- Leaving no one behind: tackling discrimination featuring Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi, Hive Pakistan
- FoRB and the media featuring Salam Omer, KirkukNow, Iraq
CREID Director on BBC News and response to funding announcement
CREID Director, Mariz Tadros, IDS, who was interviewed on BBC News on the first day of the Conference, stressed how “We need a development policy that sees freedom of religion and belief as part and parcel of all aspects of wellbeing”.
Professor Tadros added “whilst we very much welcome the new funding announcement by the FCDO of £500,000 to ‘support everyone’s fundamental freedom to follow a religion or belief’, I’m afraid, this will barely scratch the surface of what everyone at the Conference agreed is a growing problem of worsening religious inequalities around the world.”