Seminar on Crimes Against Christians Held in Rome
Participants Discuss Cases of Discrimination and Violence in Europe
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ROME, JULY 3, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) organized a "Seminar on the Role of Civil Society in Combating Hate Crimes Against Christians" last week in Rome at the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The ODIHR's Tolerance and Non-Discrimination Department organized the seminar for more than 40 representatives of civil society in OSCE participating States. On several occasions, OSCE participating States have committed to combat intolerance and discrimination against Christians, including hate crime, in a number of OSCE Ministerial Council Decisions.
Participants in the Seminar discussed cases of discrimination, intolerance and violence against Christians through Europe. The participants insisted on the necessity to combat the increase in desecrations of religious buildings and cemeteries. It was also noted that in most OSCE States, desecrations of Christian churches and cemeteries are not recognized as "religiously motivated hate crimes", contrary to the practice concerning other religions.
The participants also discussed several court cases in the United Kingdom pending before the European Court of Human Rights, as critical examples of the new trend of intolerance and discrimination against Christians.
The cases of Shirley Chaplin, a nurse at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, and Nadia Eweida, an employee at British Airways, concern employees who were denied the right to wear a crucifix in circumstances where employees of other faiths were permitted to wear their religious apparel. Chaplin was removed from front-line nursing and prevented from undertaking similar part-time nursing work in her retirement. The courts upheld the employer's decision in both cases.
Participants of the seminar concluded that under no circumstances should this lead to a loss of employment. They also believed that because conscientious objection is the usual way of defending freedom of conscience, there is no doubt that this right applies not only to matters of military service or abortion, but also to other morally sensitive matters.
Attendants of the seminar plan to discuss the UK court cases more in depth at their next gathering in September.