The human right to freedom of religion in the digital age – Implications for its protection and implementation | Program | DW | 23.04.2015
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The human right to freedom of religion in the digital age – Implications for its protection and implementation

Hosted by Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development
Wednesday, June 24 / Plenary Chamber

Freedom of religion is a fundamental human right. It stipulates that every human being has the right to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his or her own choice, to manifest it, to turn away from it, and to convert to another religion or belief. This human right hence guarantees cultural and religious diversity. In its international cooperation activities, Germany strives to respect, protect and fulfill human rights, including the right to freedom of religion,. In the Charter for the Future adopted in 2014 following a broad dialogue with civil society actors and citizens across the country, the country’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development addresses the powerful formative influence of religion and culture on politics and society. However, challenges and restrictions persist in many countries, and social hostilities are ever increasing .

Media can play an essential role in building understanding and fostering mutual trust among various religious groups. Social media in particular . offer new opportunities for states, civil society and religious communities to strengthen and perceive human rights, and to eliminate societal discrimination on religious grounds. The Internet and social media facilitate the exchange and dissemination of information by civil society throughout the world, as well as dialogue and mutual understanding between practitioners of different religions and between members of religious minority and majority populations. However, social media can also be misused to spread prejudices, discriminatory attitudes or hate propaganda that is all too often based on religious arguments.

The aim of this workshop is to discuss the potential presented by traditional and digital communication tools for improved protection of freedom of religion. It will focus on practical examples that illustrate how freedom of religion can be strengthened. Questions that will be addressed include the contribution of new media to the peaceful coexistence and trust-building between practitioners of different religions. It will also examine ways to fully achieve the fundamental principle of non-discrimination and the means of strengthening of mutual respect at the grassroots level.

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