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Now is the Time

 

 

 

THE TANDEM PROJECT
http://www.tandemproject.com.
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UNITED NATIONS, HUMAN RIGHTS,
FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF

The Tandem Project is a UN NGO in Special Consultative Status with the
Economic and Social Council of the United Nations

Separation of Religion or Belief and State

SOMALIA

Somalia is experiencing violent ethnic and civil war with a devastating impact on the country. This document is preparation for the May 2011 Somalia Universal Periodic Review:  The Tandem Project monitors the work of the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief and his or her mandate. The Somalia Universal Periodic Review is an opportunity to consider how the U.N. Human Rights Council encourages the 2010 mandate of the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief. The Tandem Project Recommendations call for an International Somalia Contact Group conference in a host country of its choosing after the Somalia Universal Periodic Review, to encourage compliance with international human rights law on freedom of religion or belief  in the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) Charter and the Somaliland and Puntland constitutions.

This document includes: I. Universal Periodic Review, II. Somalia Overview, III. The Tandem Project Recommendations, IV. Contacts, V. U.S. State Department 2010 International Religious Freedom Report on Somalia, VI. Background, International Human Rights Law on Freedom of Religion or Belief.


I.
UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process launched by the UN Human Rights Council in 2008 to review the human rights obligations and responsibilities of all UN Member States by 2011. Click to open an Introduction to the Universal Periodic Review and Current News: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRMain.aspx

The Somalia Universal Periodic Review will be held by the UN Human Rights Council during the 11th session of the Universal Periodic Review 2-13 May 2011.  The Somali Review will be on 3 May 2011 from 1500 to 1800.  On that date you will be able to click to access the Somali National Report; Compilation prepared by OHCHR; Summary of Stakeholders Letters prepared by OHCHR; Interactive Dialogue; Comments & Answers; Final Remarks.  

 U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Report: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/SOIndex.aspx

International Somalia Contact Group:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Somalia_Contact_Group

U.S. State Department Annual International Religious Freedom Report, The Tandem Project Universal Periodic Review & Freedom of Religion or Belief source for 195 countries.
Somalia: International Religious Freedom Report 2010

The International Somalia Contact Group is an informal group of mainly Western U.N. Ambassadors established at the U.N. headquarters in New York in June 2006 to support “peace and reconciliation” in Somalia. Members include; United States, Norway, Italy Sweden, Tanzania, United Kingdom, Presidency of the European Union. Invited Observers include: African Union, League of Arab States, United Nations, Intergovernmental Authority on Development.  Norway chaired the first meeting.  The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) allegedly has agreed to become part of the international contact group.

One in three people with Somali ancestry in the United States lives in Minnesota with an estimated population ranging from 35,000 to 45,000 mainly in Minneapolis. The first Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress represents Minneapolis, the fifth Minnesota Congressional District.  The first Somali -American terrorist was from Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis.

The Tandem Project is an NGO based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States of America.  In 1986  the Chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee was invited to give an address on the meaning of the Nobel Peace Prize at an International Minnesota Conference on Tolerance for Diversity of Religion or Belief. This led to an annual Nobel Peace Prize Forum in its twenty-third year sponsored by five Norwegian-American colleges in the Upper Midwest. http://www.peaceprizeforum.org/

In 1998 The Tandem Project, founded the idea and co-organized the Oslo Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief that led to the Oslo Coalition on Freedom of Religion or Belief located in the Norwegian Center for Human Rights (NCHR) at the University of Oslo. http://www.oslocoalition.org/


II.
SOMALIA OVERVIEW 

  • Somalia follows the Universal Periodic Review process established by the U.N.  Human Rights Council in resolution 60/251 to “improve the human rights situation in all countries and address human rights violations wherever they occur.” The Tandem Project Recommendations format includes the National Report, Stakeholder Letters, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Report, U.N. Working Group Report; and the U.S. International Religious Freedom Report and Tandem Forums  in preparation before and after the Somalia Universal Periodic Review to monitor their obligations and responsibilities to international human rights law on freedom of religion during the four year follow-up cycle. The Tandem Project Recommendations follow these reports and an explanation of Tandem Forums.   

NATIONAL REPORT: The National Report by the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) will not be available until the Somali Universal Periodic Review on 3 May 2011.

STAKEHOLDER LETTERS: Technical Guidelines for the Submission of Stakeholders’ Information was due to OHCHR by November 1, 2010. Letters after this date may not be included in the OHCHR Summary of Stakeholder Letters.  NGO letters that follow U.N. Human Rights Council guidelines (link to guidelines below) may be submitted to U.N. Member State delegations as they prepare for inter-active dialogue up to the time of the review. http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Documents/TechnicalGuideEN.pdf

U.N. HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT: On 29 September 2010 pursuant to HRC decision 14/119 entitled “Assistance to Somalia in the field of human rights,” a Stand-alone interactive dialogue was held on the status of cooperation, capacity-building programmes inside the country and the effectiveness of United Nations (UN) support in the promotion and protection of human rights. Click to open the interactive dialogue by the; U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia, UNDP Coordinator, African Union Commission for Somalia and head of  (AMISOM), UNHCR representative, Director, World Food Program (WFP), Chair Somali Peace Line (NGO), National Union of Somali Journalists (NGO), Amnesty International (NGO), Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (NGO), and 16 country delegations including the United States and Pakistan representing the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).  Some delegations noted the Universal Period Review on Somalia could be a meaningful ways of keeping international attention on Somalia. The President of the UN Human Rights Council concluded in closing that now is the time to translate expression of commitment into concrete actions. 
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/SOIndex.aspx

News Release 11 November 2010: “UN Experts condemn “brutal summary execution” of teenage girls in Somalia. The new U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief was one of the six U.N. independent experts signing this release:  http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=10522&LangID=E

U.N. WORKING GROUP REPORT: The Working Group Report will not be issued until after the adoption of the Somali Universal Periodic Review in the 12th Session of the U.N. Human Rights Council in 2011.

U.S. INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM REPORT: The Tandem Project identifies the following issues in the 2010 report on Somalia to be addressed by the mandate of the U.N. Special Rapporteur for the 1981 Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Freedom of Religion or Belief:

1. “Active violent conflict among militia groups and the TFG continued during the reporting period. The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) generally did not enforce legal protections of religious freedom in practice. There was a decline in the status of respect for religious freedom during the reporting period as a result of extremist militias taking control over significant territory in the country although some territory has been transferred back to the TFG.”

2. “There were reports of societal abuses and discrimination based on affiliation, belief, and practice. Militia groups, particularly those associated with the U.S. –designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) al-Shabaab harassed persons suspected of conversion from Islam, killed Sufi clerics, and destroyed Sufi graves and mosques. There were also reports that non-Muslims experienced discrimination because of their religious beliefs.

3. “A political process to establish peace and stability in the country continued as the TFG and the Alliance for the Reliberation of Somalia (ARS) signed the Djibouti Agreement in 2008. In January 2009 the TFG and ARS formed a unity government, extended the transnational period by two years, and elected Sharif Sheikh Ahmed as the new TFG president. On March 15, 2010, as part of the implementation of the Djibouti peace process, members of a Sufi affiliation, Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama’a (ASWJ) signed an agreement to join and support the TFG against armed terrorist and extremist groups opposed to peace and stability. The charter established Islam as the national religion. On May 4, 2010, ASWJ militia conducted an operation to confiscate face veils from women at Dabka junction in Mogadishu. The militia stopped public passenger vehicles at Dabka intersection and order women to remove their face veils. The militia forcefully removed the veils from women who refused to comply with their order and burned the veils.”

4. “The constitution and charters governing various regions provided the right to study and discuss the religion of one’s choice; however, proselytizing for any religion other than Islam was strictly prohibited. The TFG neither observed nor enforced constitutional provisions guaranteeing the free exercise of religion. Moreover, statutes and regulations provided no effective recourse for violations of religious freedom.”

5.  “Similarly, Somaliland and Puntland established Islam as the official religion in their regions. The Somaliland constitution prohibited the promotion of any religion other than Islam. The Somaliland criminal code outlined penalties for Muslims who change their religion. The constitutions states that candidates for president, vice president, or the house of representatives must be Muslim and further stipulates that Islamic education is compulsory at all levels and that the promotion of Quranic schools is the responsibility of the state.  The constitution further stated that the laws of the nation shall derive from and not contradict Islam.”

6. “The Puntland constitution provides for the freedom to worship; however, it also states that Muslims cannot renounce their religion. In May 2009 the Puntland cabinet approved a new constitution; on June 30, 2009, the Puntland parliament approved the constitution, which went into effect immediately. The new constitution prohibited propagation of any religion other than Islam.  It states that non-Muslims are free to practice their religion and cannot be forced to convert; however, the same article prohibits Muslims from converting from Islam. Puntland security forces closely monitored religious activities.”

7. “In Somaliland the government required religious schools and places of worship to obtain the Ministry of Religion’s permission to operate. In Puntland religious schools and places of worship must receive permission to operated from Punt land’s Ministry of Justice and Religious Affairs.  The TFG and the Somaliland and Puntland administrations permitted religious instruction in public schools. Private schools provided the primary source of education in all regions, with the majority offering religious instruction. A significant number of externally funded madrassahs existed throughout the country, providing inexpensive basic education and adherence to conservative Islamic practices. Mogadishu University, the University of East Africa in Bosasso, Puntland; and many secondary schools in Mogadishu were externally funded and administered through organizations affiliated with Al-lslah, an Islamic organization.”

8. “Active violent conflict among militia groups and the TFG continued during the reporting period. Some of the militia groups were aligned with al-Shabaab, which the U.S. secretary of state designated an FTO in 2008. During the reporting period, al Shabaab militia expanded areas under its control in Galgaduud Region. In the areas they controlled, al-Shabaab systematically closed cinemas, burned kosks selling the narcotic khat, shaved the hair of persons with Western haircuts, order women to be fully veiled, instituted local bans on smoking and music, and strictly prohibited behavior they deemed un-Islamic. In October 2009 al-Shabaab militia banned women from wearing brassieres. The militias patrolled Mogadishu streets inspecting women suspected of contravening the ban. The media reported that some women were forced to remove their brassieres. Al-Shabaab claimed wearing brasseries constituted ‘deception.” 

9. “Non-Muslims who practiced their religion openly faced occasional societal harassment. Conversion from Islam to another religion was considered socially unacceptable. Those suspected of conversion faced harassment or even death from members of their community.  On June 15, 2010 Muslim parents of a Somali teenage girl beat her severely for converting to Christianity from Islam. Reports indicated she had been tied to a tree on a regular basis from May 10 when her family became aware of her conversion, and she had also been badly beaten when she refused to recant her Christian faith.”

10. “Al-Shabaab killed or wounded hundreds of civilians in several separate suicide car bomb attacks against TFG and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) targets during the year. On September 17, 2009, al –Shabaab suicide bombers killed 21 persons, including a dozen AMISOM peacekeepers, and wounded several others. Five suicide bombers in two cars laden with explosives drove past security guards at AMISOM headquarters and detonated the explosives inside the compound.”

TANDEM FORUMS: are invitations to build global awareness of international human rights law on freedom of religion or belief in local areas as a follow-up to Universal Periodic Reviews, assess interest, exchange information and consider local partnerships within and between countries as best practice models for international human rights law on freedom of religion or belief.


III.
THE TANDEM PROJECT RECOMMENDATIONS

1.  30 Year Anniversary Conference:  The Tandem Project recommends the 30 Year Anniversary of the 1981 U.N. Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief  be held by the International Somalia Contact Group in a country of its own choosing. In 2001 the 20 year anniversary of the 1981 U.N. Declaration was celebrated with a conference supported by the United Nations and the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief in Madrid, Spain. In 2006 the 25 year anniversary of the Declaration was celebrated by OHCHR and the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief in Prague, Czech Republic.

The 30 Year Anniversary Conference recommendation in support of Somalia and all other Universal Periodic Reviews held by the U.N. Human Rights Council in the first cycle 2008-2011 include a review of the 2007 and 2010 Special Procedures Mandate for the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief on the meaning of the consensus adopted by the U.N. Human Rights Council in 2010 and its implementation. (V. Background).

In 2007 the U.N.Human Rights Council mandate for the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief (A/HRC/RES/6/37) failed to achieve consensus because of objections by Pakistan and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) over the right to change one’s religion or belief:
9. Urges States:

  • (a) To ensure that their constitutional and legislative systems provide adequate and effective guarantees of freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief to all without distinction, inter alia, by the provision of effective remedies in cases where the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief, or the right to practice freely one’s religion, including the right to change one’s religion or belief, is violated;

Pakistan speaking on behalf of 57 countries in the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC)  objected by saying, “It called  for respect for norms about the right to change one’s religion.  The EU draft explicitly urges States to guarantee the right to change one’s religion or belief,  a requirement the OIC could not subscribe to.”

Portugal, speaking on behalf of the European Union (EU) said over 40 paragraphs in the draft resolution was eliminated in an attempt at consensus with the abstaining states, but consensus over the right to leave one’s religion or belief is inviolable and could not be compromised.  The Resolution (A/HRC/RES/6/37) with recorded votes can be viewed by clicking on this link:
http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/E/HRC/resolutions/A_HRC_RES_6_37.pdf

2010 Mandate on Freedom of Religion or Belief (A/HRC/RES/14/11:In 2010 at the 14th session of the U.N. Human Rights Council Pakistan and the OIC dropped their objections to the resolution.  The resolution was adopted without a vote for the three year mandate of the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief (A/HRC/RES/14/11). Paragraph 9 (a) the point of tension and abstentions in 2007 was deleted and an amendment withdrawn by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and several other countries to achieve consensus.

Does (A/HRC/RES/14/11) still urge states to guarantee the right to change one’s religion or belief as it did in the 2007 resolution or does it accommodate cultural norms not to change one’s religion? 
Paragraph 9 (a)  in the opinion of the EU still applies to the discharge of duties in 2010 for the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief . Whether the OIC agrees after abstaining in 2007 based on cultural norms is a key issue and needs clarity for 9 (a) to be fully implemented.  UN Human Rights Council Resolution on Freedom of Religion or Belief

If the mandate in 2010 includes a call to implement 9 (a) it will be a significant step forward  to resolve the question of universality vs. cultural relativity on norms that guarantee the right to change one’s religion or belief.  As a principle of universal democracy the right to leave a religion is  inviolable for all religions or beliefs, all governments, all members of the human family. 

The global challenge is to build widespread awareness and acceptance of this right as international law through dialogue with governments and non-governmental organizations, civil society, schools and places of worship, including leaders of the Ummah in Islamic schools and mosques. 

Implementing 9 (a) must respect the sensitivity and complexity of this issue which was one of the causes of the 1968 impasse by the U.N. in drafting a legally-binding international treaty (History).


2.  Forum for Academic Discourse on Human Rights and Freedom of Religion or Belief. The Tandem recommends a Minneapolis Forum for Academic Discourse on Human Rights and Freedom of Religion or Belief be held in preparation for the May Somalia Universal Periodic Review to consider ways the Charter of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and Constitutions of Somaliland and Puntland  might comply with international human rights norms and standards on freedom of religion or belief. 

The Transitional Federal Government Charter and the Constitutions of Somaliland and Puntland currently have provisions that are not in compliance with international human rights law on freedom of religion or belief. These discrepancies are outlined in the International Religious Freedom Report on Somalia; “The Somaliland criminal code outline penalties for Muslims who change their religion,” On June 30, 2009, “the Puntland parliament approved the constitution, which went into effect immediately, The new constitution prohibited propagation of any religion other than Islam. It states that non-Muslims are free to practice their religion and cannot be forced to convert; however, the same article prohibits Muslims from converting from Islam. Puntland security forces closely monitored religious activities.”


3. Forums for Academic Discourse on Human Rights & Freedom of Religion or Belief at Mogadishu University and East Africa University, Somalia in partnership with the University of Minnesota and Augsburg College in the United States and Oslo University in Norway.

The Tandem Project recognizes the difficulty Mogadishu University and University of East Africa in Puntland would face in partnership with Universities in the United States and Norway, but encourages an invitation to them to build awareness of international human rights law on freedom of religion or belief for the second phase of the World Programme for Human Rights Education for the Somalia Universal Periodic Review.  These Forums would be a multi-disciplinary academic approaches to carry out the U.N. Human Rights Council draft plan of action for the second phase (2010-2014) of the World Programs for Human Rights Education (A/HRC/15/28).

Draft plan of action for the second phase (2010-2014) of the World Programme for Human Rights Education (A/HRC/15/28): U.N. Human Rights Council
(b) Teaching and learning processes and tools

27. Introducing or improving human rights education in the higher education system requires adopting a holistic approach to teaching and learning, by integrating programme objectives and content, resources, methodologies, assessment and evaluation; by looking beyond the classroom and the higher-education institution to society; and by building partnerships between different members of the academic community and beyond.

(v) Develop multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary human rights academic programmes. 20

20 Multidisciplinary programmes would include the study, research and engagement with human rights from different disciplinary perspectives, such as philosophy, sociology, languages, international and domestic law, etc. Interdisciplinary programmes would entail the crossing of boundaries between disciplines and the pooling of approaches and methodologies to study, research and engage with human rights with a new integrated perspective.


4. Forum for Places of Worship on Human Rights and Freedom of Religion or Belief. The Tandem Project recommends Somali leaders, educators and parents participate in the second Minneapolis-St. Paul Area Forum for Places of Worship – “From the Very Beginning: Education, Religious Beliefs & Human Rights: Can human rights law on freedom of religion or belief be taught in places of worship withoutcompromising faith-based traditions,” to be held 3 February 2010 at the University of Minnesota.  

Tandem Forums are invitations to build global awareness of international human rights law on freedom of religion or belief at local levels and to assess interest, exchange information and consider local partnerships within and between countries as best practice models for international human rights law on freedom of religion or belief.

  • Our educational systems need to provide children with a broad orientation: from the very beginning, children should be taught that their own religion is one out of many and that it is a personal choice for everyone to adhere to the religion or belief by which he or she feels most inspired, or to adhere to no religion or belief at all.

5. Forum for Civil Society on Human Rights & Freedom of Religion or Belief. The Tandem Project recommends a Minneapolis-St. Paul Area Civil Society Forum on Human Rights & Freedom of Religion or Belief be held in partnership with, among others, the Islamic Civic Society of America (ICSA) and Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque as a follow-up to a lecture by Tariq Ramadan: Coexistence: Contributing to the Common Good While Maintaining our Values,” sponsored ICSA and other in St. Paul on 23 December 2010.  

  • There is an increase in dialogue today between religions and other beliefs to embrace diversity, but few persons, less than one percent of any population, ever participate. This is a challenge. The value of such dialogues is proportionate to the level of participation. For civil society increased participation would create opportunities for education on inclusive and genuine approaches to human rights and freedom of religion or belief.  (V. Background).

Tariq Ramadan is a Geneva born Swiss intellectual and professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies in the Faculty of Oriental Studies at Oxford University. His lecture was based in part on his book, What I Believe. Quotes relevant to a Forum for Civic Society on Human Rights & Freedom of Religion or Belief include: “It is up to Muslim individuals to be and become committed citizens, aware of their responsibilities and rights. Beyond the minority reflect or the temptation to see themselves as victims, they have the means to accept a new age of their history.” And,  “The vital issue today is not to compare social models or experiences in a fruitless debate but more simply, and in a far stricter and more demanding way, to take the measure of each society by comparing the ideas affirmed and proclaimed by its intellectual and politicians with the concrete practices that can be observed at the social grass roots: human rights and equality of opportunity (between men and women, people of different origins, skin colors).

 “Our societies are awaiting the emergence of a New We, that would bring together men and women, citizens of all religions-and those without religion-who would undertake together to resolve the contradictions of their society” In What I Believe Ramadan reflects on Local, National;  “The future of Western societies is now being played out at the local level. It is a matter of greatest urgency to set in motion national movements of local initiatives, in which women and men of different religions, cultures, and sensitivities can open new horizons of mutual understanding and shared commitment: horizons of trust. These shared projects must henceforth bring us together and give birth to a new ‘We’ anchored in citizenship. Of course, ‘intercultural’ and ‘interfaith’ dialogues are both vital and necessary, but they cannot have the impact of shared commitment of citizenship in the priority fields: education, social divides, insecurity, racisms, discriminations, and more.”
The Tandem Project Recommendations in 2011 will  initiate a Forum for Women on Human Rights & Freedom of Religion or Belief and a Forum for Schools (public, private, religious) on Human Rights & Freedom of  Religion or Belief. 


IV.

CONTACTS

Somalia:

Contacts will not be made if there are safety and security concerns.

International Somalia Contact Group and OHCHR Stand-alone Interactive Dialogue:

Links are at the beginning of the Somalia Universal Periodic Review.

Mogadishu University:  http://www.mogadishuuniversity.com/english/index.php

University of East Africa, Bosasso: http://www.eastafricauniversity.net/about_eau.asp

United States of America:
Islamic Society of America (ICSA) & Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque: http://icsaweb.org/

Islamic Center of Minnesota: www.islamiccentermn.org

Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights, U.S. Foundation: http://www.oslocenter.no/

University of Minnesota: http://www1.umn.edu/twincities/academics.php

Augsburg College: http://www.augsburg.edu/

United States Universal Periodic Review: http://www.tandemproject.com/issue_statements/statements/2010/120810_upr.htm

Norway:
Islamic Council of Norway: http://www.christiantoday.com/article/norway.christians.and.muslims.sign.declaration.on.religious.freedom/12636.htm

Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights: http://www.oslocenter.no/

University of Oslo: http://www.uio.no/english/

Norway Universal Periodic Review: http://www.tandemproject.com/issue_statements/statements/2010/121510_upr.htm


V.

FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF

U.S. State Department 2010 International Religious Freedom Report, Somalia

Links to State Department sites are welcomed. Unless a copyright is indicated, information on the State Department’s main website is in the public domain and may be copied and distributed without permission. Citation of the U.S. State Department as source of the information is appreciated.
International Religious Freedom Report 2010

November 17, 2010

Although the Transitional Federal Charter (charter) provides for freedom of religion, there were limits on the extent to which this right was respected in practice.

Active violent conflict among militia groups and the TFG continued during the reporting period. The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) generally did not enforce legal protections of religious freedom in practice. There was a decline in the status of respect for religious freedom during the reporting period primarily as a result of extremist militias taking control over significant territory in the country although some territory has been transferred back to the TFG.

There were reports of societal abuses and discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, and practice. Militia groups, particularly those associated with the U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) al-Shabaab harassed persons suspected of conversion from Islam, killed Sufi clerics, and destroyed Sufi graves and mosques There were also reports that non-Muslims experienced discrimination, violence, and detention because of their religious beliefs.

The U.S. government does not maintain a diplomatic presence, and travel to the country by U.S. government officials is restricted; however, the U.S. government discussed religious freedom with its contacts in the country and with regional authorities as part of its overall policy to promote human rights.

Section I. Religious Demography

The country has an area of 246,200 square miles and a population of seven million; however, population figures are difficult to estimate since the last census dates from 1975, and the instability of the country makes precise data collection impossible. A large majority of citizens are Sunni Muslims of a Sufi tradition. There is a small, low-profile Christian community and small numbers of followers of other religions. The number of adherents of strains of conservative Islam and the number of Islamic schools supported by religiously conservative sources continued to grow.

Section II. Status of Government Respect for Religious Freedom

Legal/Policy Framework

The charter establishes the norms for protecting religious freedom. The charter states: "All citizens of the Somali Republic…have the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law without distinction of race, birth, language, religion, sex, or political affiliation."

Although the charter does not have a section that limits or protects religious practice, article 71 decrees that the 1960 constitution and other national laws shall apply "in respect of all matters not covered and not inconsistent with this charter." Article 29 of the constitution states: "Every person has the right to freedom of conscience and to profess freely his own religion and to worship it subject to any limitations which may be prescribed by law for the purpose of safeguarding morals, public health, [and] order."

The TFG exercises limited control over most of the country, with the exception of the self-declared Republic of Somaliland in the northwest, which has its own constitution and legal and policy framework. Somaliland does not recognize the charter or the transitional process and is seeking recognition as an independent country. The semiautonomous region of Puntland, which does not seek independence, also has its own charter and legal framework.

A political process to establish peace and stability in the country continued as the TFG and the Alliance for the Reliberation of Somalia (ARS) signed the Djibouti Agreement in 2008. In January 2009 the TFG and ARS formed a unity government, extended the transitional period by two years, and elected Sharif Sheikh Ahmed as the new TFG president. On March 15, 2010, as part of the implementation of the Djibouti peace process, members of a Sufi affiliation, Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama'a (ASWJ), signed an agreement to join and support the TFG against armed terrorist and extremist groups opposed to peace and stability. The charter established Islam as the national religion.

The constitution and charters governing the various regions provided the right to study and discuss the religion of one's choice; however, proselytizing for any religion other than Islam was strictly prohibited. The TFG neither observed nor enforced constitutional provisions guaranteeing the free exercise of religion. Moreover, statutes and regulations provided no effective recourse for violations of religious freedom.

Similarly, Somaliland and Puntland established Islam as the official religion in their regions. The Somaliland constitution prohibited the promotion of any religion other than Islam. The Somaliland criminal code outlined penalties for Muslims who change their religion. The constitution states that candidates for president, vice president, or the house of representatives must be Muslim and further stipulates that Islamic education is compulsory at all levels and that the promotion of Qur'anic schools is the responsibility of the state. The constitution further stated that the laws of the nation shall derive from and not contradict Islam.

The Puntland constitution provides for the freedom to worship; however, it also states that Muslims cannot renounce their religion. In May 2009 the Puntland cabinet approved a new constitution; on June 30, 2009, the Puntland parliament approved the constitution, which went into effect immediately. The new constitution prohibited propagation of any religion other than Islam. It states that non-Muslims are free to practice their religion and cannot be forced to convert; however, the same article prohibits Muslims from converting from Islam. Puntland security forces closely monitored religious activities.

In May 2009 the TFG ratified legislation to implement Shari'a (Islamic law) nationwide. In practice the TFG does not have the capacity or mechanisms to implement the legislation uniformly. Since the TFG's ratification of the legislation, there have been no reports of the implementation.

The judiciary in most regions relied on some combination of Shari'a, traditional law and Xeer (customary law), and the penal code of the pre-1991 Siad Barre government. Legal frameworks varied considerably as each community individually regulated and enforced religious expression, often on an inconsistent basis.

The TFG and regional administrations in Puntland and Somaliland observe the following religious holidays as national holidays: Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, Muharam (Islamic New Year), and Mi'raaj; in addition, Friday is designated a weekly day of prayer.

The Somaliland constitution restricted the formation of political parties based on a particular religious group, religious beliefs, or interpretations of religious doctrine; however, the new Puntland constitution had no such restriction on the formation of political parties based on religious orientation.

The Ministry of Religious Affairs was authorized to register religious organizations; however, the ministry has no capacity to conduct registrations.

In Somaliland the government required religious schools and places of worship to obtain the Ministry of Religion's permission to operate. In Puntland religious schools and places of worship must receive permission to operate from Punt land’s Ministry of Justice and Religious Affairs.

The TFG and the Somaliland and Puntland administrations permitted religious instruction in public schools. Private schools provided the primary source of education in all regions, with the majority offering religious instruction. A significant number of externally funded madrassahs existed throughout the country, providing inexpensive basic education and adherence to conservative Islamic practices. Mogadishu University; the University of East Africa in Bosasso, Puntland; and many secondary schools in Mogadishu were externally funded and administered through organizations affiliated with Al-Islah, an Islamic organization.

Restrictions on Religious Freedom

There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom by the TFG during the reporting period. The TFG generally did not enforce legal restrictions or protections concerning religious freedom.

There were no public places of worship for non-Muslims. Although it was illegal to convert from Islam in Somaliland and Puntland, there were no reported cases of persons punished for doing so. Proselytizing for any religion except Islam was prohibited in Puntland and Somaliland and was effectively blocked by informal societal consensus elsewhere in the country.

Abuses of Religious Freedom

The TGF engaged in armed conflict with various groups, some of which professed conservative Islamic beliefs, including al-Shabaab and Hisbul Islam. There also were intermittent clashes between al-Shabaab and Ahlu Sunna wal Jamaa (ASWJ) militia in Galgaduud and Banadir Regions.

There were no developments reported in the case of Abdi Welli Ahmed, a Kenyan citizen and Christian convert from Islam, whom Somaliland border officials in Wajaale reportedly detained and assaulted in February 2009 as he tried to cross the border from Ethiopia.

There were no reports of religious prisoners or detainees in the country

Forced Religious Conversion

There were no reports of forced religious conversion.

Abuses by Rebel or Foreign Forces or Terrorist Organizations

Active violent conflict among militia groups and the TFG continued during the reporting period. Some of the militia groups were aligned with al-Shabaab, which the U.S. secretary of state designated an FTO in 2008.

During the reporting period, al-Shabaab militia expanded areas under its control in Galgaduud Region. In the areas they controlled, al-Shabaab systematically closed cinemas, burned kiosks selling the narcotic khat, shaved the hair of persons with Western haircuts, ordered women to be fully veiled, instituted total bans on smoking and music, and strictly prohibited behavior they deemed un-Islamic.
Throughout the reporting period, al-Shabaab destroyed graves of Sufi saints, prominent clerics, and members of other religious groups in areas under its control, igniting conflict with ASWJ. Al-Shabaab militias killed many prominent leaders from ASWJ in the Galgaduud Region.

On May 4, 2010, al-Shabaab militia fatally shot an underground church leader in Nur who had been on a list of persons they had suspected of being Christians.

On January 17, 2010, an al-Shabaab administration in Lower Shabelle stoned and killed Hussein Ibrahim Mohamed for sexually abusing a young girl under his care.

On November 17, 2009, al-Shabaab followers stoned a woman to death for alleged adultery in Wajid District, Bakol Region.

On November 6, 2009, al-Shabaab members stoned and killed Abdirahman Hussein, in Lower Shabelle Region, for raping a woman.

At different times in March 2010, al-Shabaab destroyed graves of Somali clerics, reportedly exhuming the clerics' remains. Destruction of graves and mosques in Mogadishu caused ASWJ and other local militia groups to arm themselves and wage war against al-Shabaab in parts of Mogadishu and other regions of the country.

As part of its efforts to have exclusive control in areas under its control , al-Shabaab confiscated the keys of four mosques in the Bakara market area. On May 9, 2010, al-Shabaab arrested a prominent Kismayu cleric and several of his students. Al-Shabaab earlier warned the sheikh not to conduct Islamic classes in the mosque because they disagreed with his "questionable views."

On May 4, 2010, ASWJ militia conducted an operation to confiscate face veils from women at Dabka junction in Mogadishu. The militia stopped public passenger vehicles at Dabka intersection and ordered women to remove their face veils. The militia forcefully removed the veils from women who refused to comply with their order and burned the veils.

In early February 2010 al-Shabaab started a campaign to shave forcefully young men and teenagers who they believed to have inappropriate hairstyles.

In October 2009 al-Shabaab militia banned women from wearing brassieres. The militias patrolled Mogadishu streets inspecting women suspected of contravening the ban. The media reported that some women were forced to remove their brassieres. Al-Shabaab claimed wearing brassieres constituted "deception."

On May 14, 2010, al-Shabaab released Abdullahi Siyad Kanyare after 75 days of captivity in Middle Shabelle. Speaking to the media after his release, Siyad said al-Shabaab arrested him on suspicion that he converted to Christianity after they found a copy of the Bible in his house. He said a group of foreigners with whom he worked with in 1993 had given him the Bible. Al-Shabaab claimed its courts found Siyad not guilty of converting to Christianity.

Section III. Status of Societal Respect for Religious Freedom

There were reports of societal abuses and discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, and practice. There was strong societal pressure to respect traditions that reflected the traditional interpretation of Sunni Islam.

Non-Muslims who practiced their religion openly faced occasional societal harassment. Conversion from Islam to another religion was considered socially unacceptable. Those suspected of conversion faced harassment or even death from members of their community.

On June 15, 2010, Muslim parents of a Somali teenage girl beat her severely for converting to Christianity from Islam. Reports indicated that she had been tied to a tree on a regular basis from May 10 when her family became aware of her conversion, and she had also been badly beaten when she refused to recant her Christian faith.

Al-Shabaab and affiliated organizations imposed their own interpretation of Islamic laws and practices on other Muslims. Al-Shabaab destroyed the tombs of Sufi clerics and killed clerics, civilians, and government officials of Sufi orientation. In targeted assassinations members of these extremist groups killed TFG officials and allies and denounced them as non-Muslims or apostates.

Al-Shabaab killed and wounded hundreds of civilians in several separate suicide car bomb attacks against TFG and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) targets during the year.

On September 17, 2009, al-Shabaab suicide bombers killed 21 persons, including a dozen AMISOM peacekeepers, and wounded several others. Five suicide bombers in two cars laden with explosives drove past security guards at AMISOM headquarters and detonated the explosives inside the compound.

On December 3, 2009, al-Shabaab killed an estimated 30 persons, including three government ministers, and wounded more than 60 when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a university graduation ceremony in Mogadishu.

On May 1, 2010, a twin explosion at a mosque in Bakara market, Mogadishu, killed an estimated 30 persons and wounded up to 70 others, including a senior al-Shabaab leader.

Section IV. U.S. Government Policy

The U.S. government does not maintain a diplomatic presence, and travel to the country by U.S. government officials is restricted; however, the U.S. government discussed religious freedom with its contacts in the country and with regional authorities as part of its overall policy to promote human rights.


VI.

BACKGROUND

UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

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.

– First Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 

The principle of universality of human rights is the cornerstone of international human rights law.

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Pages/WhatareHumanRights.aspx


INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW ON FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF

The principal instruments for International Human Rights Law on Freedom of Religion or Belief is Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR) and the 1981 U.N. Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.

The 1981 UN Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief http://www.tandemproject.com/program/81_dec.htm.

General Comment 22 on Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/9a30112c27d1167cc12563ed004d8f15?Opendocument


Article 18: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

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, practice and teaching.

No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have a religion or belief of his   choice.

Freedom of manifest one’s religion or belief may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.

The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to ensure the religious and moral education in conformity with their own convictions.


The Third Rail

International human rights law on freedom of religion or belief protects theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief, - General Comment 22 on Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The United Nations does not favor one religion or belief over another. This law protects individuals from discrimination based on religion or belief. It values the equal rights of majority and minority religions or beliefs, indigenous, traditional and new religious movements. It is a universal, neutral and impartial moral principle. Lexicographers may describe the terminology as agnostic, the third rail on the God idea between theism and atheism.


MANDATE OF THE U.N. SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF

Monitoring the mandate of the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/religion/index.htm

Open the link above to get the complete history, actions and reports of the mandate of the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief.  The mandate is up for review and renewal every three year by the U.N. Human Rights Council.

The most recent cycle is the mandate from 2007-2010.  A new Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief was appointed in June, 2010, Mr. Heiner Bielefeldt of Germany.  The Tandem Project focus under Special Procedures is solely on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur.

The U.N. Human Rights Council every three years draft a resolution for the mandate of the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief who serves as an independent expert on human rights and freedom of religion or belief through a process known as Special Procedures.

In 2007 the right to change one’s religion or belief was resisted by Pakistan on behalf of the 57 country Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) as a requirement they could not subscribe to. In 2010 Pakistan and the OIC withdrew the objection when the U.N. Human Rights Council dropped 9 (a) from the mandate on freedom of religion or belief without a vote. 


2007 Mandate on Freedom of Religion or Belief (A/HRC/RES/6/37)

In 2007 the U.N.Human Rights Council mandate for the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief (A/HRC/RES/6/37) failed to achieve consensus because of objections by Pakistan and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) over the right to change one’s religion or belief:

9. Urges States:

  • (a) To ensure that their constitutional and legislative systems provide adequate and effective guarantees of freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief to all without distinction, inter alia, by the provision of effective remedies in cases where the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief, or the right to practice freely one’s religion, including the right to change one’s religion or belief, is violated;

Pakistan speaking on behalf of 57 countries in the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC)  objected by saying, “It called  for respect for norms about the right to change one’s religion.  The EU draft explicitly urges States to guarantee the right to change one’s religion or belief,  a requirement the OIC could not subscribe to.”
Portugal, speaking on behalf of the European Union (EU) said over 40 paragraphs in the draft resolution was eliminated in an attempt at consensus with the abstaining states, but consensus over the right to leave one’s religion or belief is inviolable and could not be compromised.  The Resolution (A/HRC/RES/6/37) with recorded votes can be viewed by clicking on this link:
http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/E/HRC/resolutions/A_HRC_RES_6_37.pdf


2010 Mandate on Freedom of Religion or Belief (A/HRC/RES/14/11)

In 2010 at the 14th session of the U.N. Human Rights Council Pakistan and the OIC dropped their objections to the resolution.  The resolution was adopted without a vote for the three year mandate of the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief (A/HRC/RES/14/11). Paragraph 9 (a) the point of tension and abstentions in 2007 was deleted and an amendment withdrawn by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and several other countries to achieve consensus.

Does (A/HRC/RES/14/11) still urge states to guarantee the right to change one’s religion or belief as it did in the 2007 resolution or does it accommodate cultural norms not to change one’s religion? 
Paragraph 9 (a)  in the opinion of the EU still applies to the discharge of duties in 2010 for the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief . Whether the OIC agrees after abstaining in 2007 based on cultural norms is a key issue and needs clarity for 9 (a) to be fully implemented: UN Human Rights Council Resolution on Freedom of Religion or Belief


IMPLEMENTING 9 (a)

If the mandate in 2010 includes a call to implement 9 (a) it will be a significant step forward  to resolve the question of universality vs. cultural relativity, for norms that guarantee the right to change one’s religion or belief.  As a principle of universal democracy the right to leave a religion is  inviolable for all religions or beliefs, all governments, all members of the human family. 


The global challenge is to build widespread awareness and acceptance of this right as international law through dialogue with governments and non-governmental organizations, civil society, schools and places of worship, including leaders of the Ummah in Islamic schools and mosques. 

Implementing 9 (a) must respect the sensitivity and complexity of this issue which was one of the causes of the 1968 impasse by the U.N. in drafting a legally-binding international treaty (History).


MANDATES RELATING TO FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF

Mandate of the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/opinion/index.htm

Mandate of the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/racism/rapporteur/index.htm

Ad-Hoc Committee on Complimentary Standards: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/racism/AdHocCommittee.htm


TREATIES & DECLARATIONS

International Human Rights Treaties: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/treaty/index.htm

The original intent in 1960 was to draft two core legally binding human rights treaties on religion and race. “ The decision to separate the instruments on religious intolerance from those on racial discrimination constituted a compromise solution designed to satisfy a number of conflicting viewpoints. Western states insisted on addressing both matters in a joint instrument. Communist states were not anxious to deal with religious matters. African and Asian states considered the question of religious intolerance a minor matter compared with racial discrimination.  In contrast to the religious intolerance matter, international instruments on the elimination of racial discrimination were adopted fairly swiftly, in 1963 and 1965 respectively.

At the General Assembly’s twenty-second session, the Third Committee had an opening general debate and a line-by-line review of the text of the draft convention. The convention’s most fierce critics were the Soviet Union, other communist states, and several African and Asian States. Since the draft Convention’s definition of “religion or belief’ included theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs; there was strong opposition from Islamic states, the Catholic church, and other religious groups. At its twenty-third session, the General Assembly decided to defer consideration of the draft convention.” (History).

In 1968, the UN deferred work on a legally-binding treaty on religious intolerance as too complex and sensitive and passed a non-binding declaration in its place. The Tandem Project believes until a core legally-binding Convention on Freedom of Religion or Belief is adopted international human rights law will be incomplete.


HISTORY & STATISTICS

  • HISTORY: The United Nations failed to achieve consensus on a legally binding international treaty on religious intolerance, settling instead for the non-binding 1981 UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination based on Religion or Belief.

http://www.tandemproject.com/program/history.htm

  • STATISTICS: The United Nations protects all theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief. Statistics: builds the case for an  inclusive and genuine approach to implementing human rights and freedom of religion or belief.

http://www.tandemproject.com/program/major_religions.htm


THE TANDEM PROJECT

1984: The Tandem Project co-founder represented the World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) in 1984 at the two week Geneva Seminar called by the UN Secretariat on how to implement the 1981 UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. In 1986 The Tandem Project hosted the first International Conference on the 1981 U.N. Declaration on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

1986: Minnesota held the first International Conference on how to implement the 1981 United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. Thirty-five international delegates and thirty-five Minnesota delegates were invited. Minnesota organizations and individuals proposed twenty- seven Community Strategies on how to implement the 1981 U.N. Declaration under: Synopsis, Strategy, Objectives, Program Approach, Obstacles and Outcomes. These Community Strategies can be read on the following link:
Minnesota Community Strategieshttp://www.tandemproject.com/tolerance.pdf

2011: Since 1986 The Tandem Project has built support for Human Rights and Freedom of Religion or Belief simultaneously from top down and ground up. In 1986 the U.N. Human Rights Commission, now its successor the U.N. Human Rights Council.  The Tandem Project approach from the ground or local level up for national Universal Periodic Reviews & Freedom of Religion or Belief includes; Forums for Places of Worship, Academic Discourse, Schools, Women and Civil Society.

Tandem Project Database: http://www.tandemproject.com/databases/forms/card.htm

Tandem Project Internet Course: http://www.tandemproject.com/toc/toc.htm

The Questionnaire is a checklist for inclusive and genuine dialogue on human rights and freedom of religion or belief and conflicting truth claims, for places of worship, government and non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, schools and civil society, in preparation for Tandem Forums.

OPEN QUESTIONNAIRE


Reflections

The First Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reads: 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.

Surely one of the best hopes for humankind is to embrace a culture in which religions and other beliefs accept one another, in which wars and violence are not tolerated in the name of an exclusive right to truth, in which children are raised to solve conflicts with mediation, compassion and understanding.

There is an increase in dialogue today between religions and other beliefs to embrace diversity, but few persons, less than one percent of any population, ever participate. This is a challenge. The value of such dialogues is proportionate to the level of participation. For civil society increased participation would create opportunities for education on inclusive and genuine approaches to human rights and freedom of religion or belief. 

In 1968 the United Nations deferred passage of a legally-binding convention on religious intolerance saying it was too complicated and sensitive. Instead, they adopted a non-binding declaration on the elimination of all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion or belief. While very worthwhile, the declaration does not carry the force and commitment of a legally-binding international human rights convention on freedom of religion or belief.

Religions and other beliefs historically have been used to justify wars and settle disputes. This is more dangerous today as the possible use of nuclear and biological weapons of mass destruction increases. Governments need to consider whether religions and other beliefs trump human rights or human rights trump religions and other beliefs or neither trumps the other. Can international human rights law help to stop the advance and use of such weapons in the face of this historic truth?

  • QUESTION: Weapons of mass destruction as history teaches are legitimized for national security and justified by cultural, ethnic and religious or other ideology. The U.N. Review Conference on the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and studies on biological and cyber weapons demonstrate advances in science and technology is being used to increase their potential for mass destruction. The question is whether an International Convention on Human Rights and Freedom of Religion or Belief, elevated and supported equally by the U.N. Human Rights Council and U.N. Security Council, would help offset the risk of weapons of mass destruction. Recognition of the need for synergy to balance rights and security is the foundation for solving this issue.

“I am become death, the destroyer of worlds” - Robert Oppenheimer, quote from the Bhagavad Gita after exploding the first atomic bomb, Trinity 1945.


The Tandem Project a non-governmental organization (NGO) founded in 1986 to build understanding, tolerance, and respect for diversity of religion or belief, and to prevent discrimination in matters relating to freedom of religion or belief. The Tandem Project has sponsored multiple conferences, curricula, reference material 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.

Documents Attached: Minneapolis, Mogadishu,Oslo - Forums for Academic Discourse on Human Rights & Freedom of Religion or Belief; Minneapolis-St. Paul Area - Forum for Places of Worship on Human Rights & Freedom of Religion or Belief; Muslim Women Gain Higher Profile in U.S