National Assembly, Parliament
International religious freedom day
Mr Narend Singh, MP
International Religious Freedom Day is observed today, the 27th of October, throughout the world. It behooves us as parliamentarians to promote and protect this fundamental human right which is a core value across all nations and is the birthright of every individual as enshrined in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In a world where the majority of the citizens identify with being religious, religious freedom ought to be something that every single individual enjoys without any fear or prejudice. The freedom to choose your religion, to practice it, share it, change it or live without a religion at all is not something only the government should promote but it is with the efforts of every single individual that the ideal – to live and let live – will be achieved.
Perhaps another important point to make is that freedom of religion or belief is also one of our most powerful tools in the fight against extremism. It is then our collective responsibility to protect religious freedom equally for all and to ensure that those who claim religion as justification for criminal acts do not walk away with impunity.
Honourable Dudley, Kwankwa and I participated as part of an International Panel of Parliamentarians who assembled recently in Germany around the issue of ‘Freedom of Religion and Belief’. Arising from that, we as the IFP, would like to propose that a Parliamentary forum to deal with issues around religious tolerance.
We also call on the international community – governments, civil society, and citizens alike – to speak out against religious persecution, and for the protection of religious freedom and belief.
I thank you.
Hon. Narend Singh, MP
Inkatha Freedom Party, Parliament