On 13 November, the European Humanist Federation took part in the first Article 17 event organised in the new parliamentary session, which took place at the European Parliament and was devoted to “The Humanist Contribution to European Society”.
During this round-table, our friends of Humanists International (HI) launched the Freedom of Thought Report 2019. HI representatives spotlighted the intolerance and even outright persecution suffered by many humanists around the world, and pleaded in favour of effective and full respect of freedom of conscience. Their presentation highlighted the recent cases of three humanists who endured arrest, imprisonment in very harsh conditions, and death sentence or death threats only for voicing their humanist convictions: Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mkheitir, from Mauritania; Gulalai Ismail (Pakistan) and Rahaf Mohammed (Saudi Arabia), who were eventually granted asylum thanks to the decisive actions of HI.
These cases show that in many countries in the world, people may face prison or even death simply for not obeying religious rules, leaving their religion or voicing their opinions on religious and social conservatism. All States must abide by international human rights law, which recognises the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right includes non-theistic and atheist beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief.
The event gathered a large audience made of representatives of religious and philosophical organisations. The EHF is pleased that this first Article 17 event was devoted to the humanist movement and focused on the crucial issue of the protection of humanists’ fundamental rights.