Mr Heiner Bielefeldt - United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide organised a event at the London School of Economics (Thursday 25th April 2013) at which the special rapporteur of Religious freedom for the United Nations, described his work and the ongoing persecution faced by religious minorities globally. Wilson Chowdhry Chairman of the BPCA was invited to attend.
During his lecture to the humanitarian groups and academics present, MR Heiner Bielefeldt was asked about whether he believed that secular states within the Western world - where religious freedom is seen to be prevalent - was a direct consequence of the more egalitarian concepts within Christianity, the dominant religion in this region. He said;
"No, such freedoms have been conflict-driven" and described the nature of the protestant reforms and the sacrifices made by so many, against the tyranny imposed by zealots within Europe, that has led to modern day pluralistic societies with acceptance of 'Other' faiths.
Wilson Chowdhry said;
"Mr Bielefeldt proved to be a well informed and passionate advocate for justice. During a conversation with him after the event, he intimated real concern at the ongoing maltreatment of 'Minorities' living in Pakistan. He has agreed to read our recent report termed "the Targeting of Minority 'Others' in Pakistan" and we have duly sent him a copy to review."
"The non-attribution of equality in the west to the Christian faith was a pivotal moment in the discussion. It was impressive that MR Bielefedlt enunciated this in a Christian led event and in so doing, provided a glimmer of hope for Pakistan. Pakistan now enters a phase of politics unbeknown to them, where they may for the first time in their history observe two consecutive democratic governments. It will take strong reformists and committed politicians much like Britain's famous Oliver Cromwell (of old), to bring about the necessary change to create a fairer society. Let's hope that the electorate alter their usual voting patterns next month during Pakistan's General elections. If they ignore tribal allegiances and opt for candidates with strong manifestos focused on delivering a more conscientious society, this could be the first step to a more desirable Pakistan."
Professor Heiner Bielefeldt was appointed United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief in 2010. He is a German philosopher, historian and theologian who studied at Bonn University, Tübingen University and the University of Bremen. He is Professor of Human Rights and Human Rights Policy at the University of Erlangen. From 2003 to 2009, Bielefeldt served as Director of the German Institute for Human Rights, which monitors the human rights situation inside Germany. Since 2009, Bielefeldt has served as professor in the newly created Chair of Human Rights and Human Rights Policy at the University of Erlangen. He has published widely in academic journals, most recently with Human Rights Quarterly and the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion.
Wilson Chowdhry and Matthew Jones from CSW.
Wilson with the Special Rapporteur.