THE TANDEM PROJECT
UNITED NATIONS, HUMAN RIGHTS,
FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF
THE BATTLE OF THE BOOKS – BIBLE v KORAN
For: United Nations, Governments, Religions or Beliefs, Academia, NGOs, Media, Civil Society
Review: The Bible v the Koran: The battle of the books; the business of marketing the Bible and the Koran says a lot about the state of modern Christianity and Islam – The Economist, 22 December 2007. The article asks the question, “who is winning the battle of the books. For some, the question is an abomination. Can’t both sides win by converting the heathen? And aren’t Christianity and Islam fellow Abrahamic faiths – different versions of the Truth?” Can International Human Rights Standards on Freedom of Religion or Belief, which proclaims the right to manifest a religion or belief, promote respect for all individuals, religious and non-religious, when trying to convince the other in matters relating to religion or belief?
Objective: Build understanding and support for Article 18, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights –Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion - and the 1981 UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. Encourage the United Nations, Governments, Religions or Beliefs, Academia, NGOs, Media and Civil Society to use these international human rights standards as essential for long-term solutions to conflicts based on religion or belief.
Challenge: In 1968 the United Nations deferred work on an International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Religious Intolerance, because of its apparent complexity and sensitivity. In the twenty-first century, a dramatic increase of intolerance and discrimination on grounds of religion or belief is motivating a worldwide search to find solutions to these problems. This is a challenge calling for enhanced dialogue by States and others; including consideration of an International Convention on Freedom of Religion or Belief for protection of and accountability by all religions or beliefs. The tensions in today’s world inspire a question such as:
Extracts: Extracts are presented under the Eight Articles of the 1981 U.N. Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. Examples of extracts are presented prior to the Issue Statement for each Review.
Article 6: In accordance with Article 1 of the present Declaration, and subject to the provisions of Article 1, paragraph 3, the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief shall include, inter alia, the following freedoms:
6. 4 To write issue and disseminate relevant publications in these areas;
Annual Bible sales in
Article 1: 2. No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have a religion or belief of his choice.
Muslims would argue that their struggle was aimed
more at galvanizing their own flock than at converting unbelievers. But Islam’s
relative introversion doesn’t make for peaceful coexistence. In many parts of
the world, Islamic authorities have reacted furiously to attempts by Christians
to entice Muslims to “apostasies” or renounce their faith; in traditional
Islamic law, the penalty for apostasy is death; and encouraging believers to
apostasy is also treated as a crime…In many parts of the world, battle seems to
be in progress. The Saudis will not allow the Bible to be distributed on their
soil. Many Evangelical Christians are fixated on what they call the 10/40
window-the vast swathe of the Islamic world in
1. 1 Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have a religion or whatever belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practices and teaching.
And the battle of the books is certainly at the
heart of the battle between the two religions. People who get hold of Bibles or
Korans may not read them or understand them. Unless they are introduced to the
books they will certainly remain heathens. Even an imperfect report on the
state of the battle tells us a lot about the world’s two great missionary
religions…The Christians entered the 21st century with a big head
start. There are 2 billion of them in the world compared with 1.5 billion
Muslims. But Islam had a better 20th century than Christianity. The
world’s Muslim population grew from 200m in 1900 to its current levels.
Christianity has shriveled in Christendom’s European heart. Islam is resurgent
across the Arab world. Many Christian scholars predict that Islam will overtake
Christianity as the world’s largest religion by 2050…This needs to be kept in
mind when considering who is winning the battle of the books. For some, the
question is an abomination. Can’t both sides win by converting the heathen? And
aren’t Christianity and Islam fellow Abrahamic faiths – different versions of
the Truth? – The Bible v the Koran – The Economist,
But two things are certain in the battle of the
books. The first is that the urge to spread the Word will spark some of the
fiercest conflicts of the 21st century…The second is that the Bible
and the Koran will continue to exercise a dramatic influence over human events,
for both good and ill. The twigs of the burning bush are still aflame with the
fire of God. – The Bible v the Koran – The Economist,
Open link to read full story in The Economist:
ISSUE STATEMENT: The Economist story touches on Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights - the right to publish and to manifest a religion or belief, and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights - the right to freedom of opinion and expression, including the right to try to convince the other. The right to change a religion or belief and the right to freedom of opinion and expression are bedrock principles embodied in international human rights law without which democracy, as we understand the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, cannot exist in civil society.
The United Nations Human Rights Committee’s 1993
General Comment 22 on Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights provides protection against discrimination for theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not
to profess any religion or belief. The
The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) has
reported that the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) in a resolution
The right to change one’s religion or belief or to
leave a religion is considered by some in Islam as apostasy and is a divisive
issue between the European Union (EU) and Organization of Islamic Conference
(OIC). Other issues of similar magnitude
include interpretations of defamation of a religion or belief and the right to
freedom of opinion and expression, and proselytism - the right to manifest a
belief by trying to convince others of their Truth and the ultimate meaning of
life. Both EU and
The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights First Preamble affirms: “Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. This principle suggests all States recalling their history, culture and constitution, provide equal protection by law for theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief. Now this is recognized as international law by States parties to the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. International Human Rights Standards on Freedom of Religion or Belief may be essential for long term solutions to conflicts based on religion or belief.
The Tandem Project: a non-profit, non-governmental organization established in 1986 to build understanding and respect for diversity of religion or belief, and prevent discrimination in matters relating to freedom of religion or belief. The Tandem Project has sponsored multiple conferences, curricula, reference materials and programs on Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion - and the 1981 United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.
The Tandem Project initiative was launched in 1986 as the result of a co-founder representing the World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) at a 1984 United Nations Geneva Seminar, Encouragement of Understanding, Tolerance and Respect in Matters Relating to Freedom of Religion or Belief, called by the UN Secretariat on ways to implement the 1981 UN Declaration. In 1986, The Tandem Project organized the first NGO International Conference on the 1981 UN Declaration.
The Tandem Project Executive Director: Michael M. Roan, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Tandem Project is a UN NGO in Special Consultative Status with the
Economic and Social Council of the United Nations