Colloquium on Freedom of Religion
May 12, 2014


Date: Saturday, 17 May 2014
Time: 0900AM -0600PM
Venue: Studio R, Renaissance Hotel, KL


Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) adopted in 1966, mandated freedom of religion and stated that no one should be subjected to coercion in matters of faith. This idealistic reality born after the World War II laid international legal basis for harmonious society that acknowledges rights of various religious groups to have their own faith, to profess their own religion and not to be persecuted for their practices.

However, deliberate drift of the world paradigm from idealism to realism showed that establishment of this norm at the international level did not lead to significant improvement on domestic levels. According to the data of Pew Research Center, in 2012 social hostilities involving religion occurred in 33% of 198 countries and reached its six-year peak. The sharpest increase was in the Middle East and North Africa, which is still experiencing the effects of 2010-11 political uprisings known as the Arab Spring.

The significant increase of religious hostility was observed in Asia Pacific region also had a big increase in the median level of governmental restrictions on freedom of religion. Apart from the governmental restrictions on religious freedom, mob violence or actions of non-governmental groups played their role. Such a wide involvement of state and non-state actors into issues concerning religion proved that religion remains a mean of self-identification and a tool for more organized management of public affairs and state-sanctioned religious interpretations.

Crackdowns on religious minorities in various contexts are supported by claims that social stability needs to be preserved in conditions when those minorities undermine integrity. In these conditions apostasy, which is a serious crime in Islam, dragged even more attention in public discourse. Persecution in the name of religion remains high in the modern world, and it is obvious that understanding of the horror of 20th century bloodsheds in the name of various ideals did not yield sober consciousness on religious matters in the next century.


0900 – 0930: Registration
0930 – 0940: Opening Speech by Chairperson, Julia Sveshnikova
0940 – 1000: Officiating Speech by YB Zairil Khir Johari, Executive Director Penang Institute
10.00 -12.00: Forum 1: The Politics of Religious Liberty
Panelists: Dr Anas at-Tikriti, Dr Azmi Sharom
Moderator: Dr Farouk Musa
12.00-13.00: Workshop 1
13.00-14.00: Lunch
14.00-16.00: Forum 2: Persecution in the Name of Religion,
Panelists: Dr Anas at-Tikriti, Dr Azmi Sharom
Moderator: Dr Farouk Musa
16.00-17.00: Workshop 2
17.00-18.00: Resolution
18.00: Tea

Jointly organized by:
Islamic Renaissance Front and Penang Institute



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