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Freedom of Religion or Belief - An International Law Commentary by Bielefeldt, Heiner; Ghanea, Nazila; Wiener, Michael (21st January 2016)

Part 3 Vulnerable Groups, 3.5 Minorities

From: Freedom of Religion or Belief: An International Law Commentary

Heiner Bielefeldt, Nazila Ghanea, Michael Wiener

Subject(s):
Religion — Freedom of association — Freedom of expression — Freedom of thought, conscience, and religion — Minorities — Children, rights — Women, rights — Coercion & harassment

This chapter addresses issues concerning the rights of persons belonging to minorities in the area of religion or belief. Unlike in many traditional concepts of ‘minority protection’, which typically singled out specific groups for specific protection, modern human rights law is not based on any essentialist notions of pre-defined minorities, but always takes as its starting point the self-definition of human beings, who should be free to express their identities as individuals and in community with others. The entry point for justifying particular attention and additional measures of empowerment is the experience of increased vulnerability, often amounting to forced assimilation. Persons belonging to religious minorities need an adequate infrastructure which allows them to develop their community life in a sustainable manner, if they so wish. Safeguarding the rights of persons belonging to minorities also requires measures against discrimination, not least by tackling prejudices and stereotypes. This chapter also explores issues concerning religious practices of indigenous peoples.

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