Second Conference on Freedom of Religion and Belief concludes

Patrick Simonnet, the Ambassador of the European Union (EU) to Bahrain, residing in Riyadh, has stressed the importance of holding and organising the second annual Conference on Freedom of Religion and Belief (FoRB), in Bahrain, affirming that it a source of great pride for all attendees.

Addressing the Brussels forum on cyberspace, he said that the issue of climate had been raised during the conference as it is closely related to the concept of freedom of religion and belief, being one of the freedoms to which the EU, the Kingdom of Bahrain and entire world attach utmost importance.

He highlighted the importance of supporting freedoms in a tangible way, through launching clear programmes and initiatives, citing Bahrain's efforts in this regard.

"Today, we are learning from Bahrain's good practices and respect that has existed over long periods among different religions and races," he said, expressing his appreciation for the efforts of the King Hamad Global Centre for Peaceful Coexistence.

He expressed confidence in the success of next year's edition, in light of the working group that will be established, out of the belief that interfaith and interreligious work must be collective, stressing the need to strengthen the exemplary Bahrain-EU cooperation.

Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of the King Hamad Global Centre for Peaceful Coexistence, 'This Is Bahrain' Chairperson, Betsy Mathieson, affirmed the success of this edition of the FoRB, attended by over 60 youth participants from 25 EU countries, noting that bilateral working groups will be formed to follow up on the implementation of the announced projects.

While announcing the recommendations of the conference, Mathieson called for strengthening exchange and networking among student's groups from the EU, Bahrain and GCC countries.

She said that the conference had called for preventing hatred, establishing wonderful workshops, and the participation of all religious communities in open dialogue and discussions that serve the issue of climate change and its connection to religious freedoms, as well as to relations to important topics such as cyberspace and the responsibility to spread the message of peace.

She unveiled that Bahrain will participate in an important one-week event that will be held in Brussels on November 13-18 November to shed light on the importance of promoting freedom of religion and peaceful coexistence.

Francisco Dinis, representing the Portuguese Parliament, called for spreading good practices and meeting the needs of the world regarding the exchange of ideas and proposals, stressing the great success of the conference over the past days in clarifying the dimensions of the issue according to the concepts of inclusiveness, tolerance, rapprochement and dialogue.

He indicated that despite the challenges facing the world, efforts must be made to reduce violent speeches and combat discrimination in all its forms, noting that education is the best and most successful means to achieve this.

He called for promoting critical thinking, and correcting some of the students' their concepts related to religions through direct communication.

EU Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB), Frans van Daele, stressed the importance of promoting the freedom of expression, as part of broader, larger and more comprehensive freedoms and concepts, affirming the need to create open dialogue and enhance the sense of participation, amid the instable political situation in the world.

He also urged more interest in cyberspace to ensure that its platforms are not used to spread hate speech, emphasising that education and learning should focus on identity and openness.

Source: Bahrain News Agency

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