Minister Rosenthal talks to religious leaders

Today foreign minister Uri Rosenthal met with a group of religious leaders. He expressed his concern about the recent violence affecting vulnerable minorities, such as Christians, in a number of countries.

‘The recent violent incidents are cause for serious concern, as is systematic discrimination targeting religious minorities. Not until the rule of law and democracy have been established can freedom of religion and belief flourish. The Netherlands is working towards this objective.’

Mr Rosenthal explained that the Netherlands is already focusing on freedom of religion and belief in five countries: China, Egypt, Eritrea, India and Kazakhstan. This pilot project has now been expanded to include another five: Armenia, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan and Sudan. The Minister sent a letter on this issue to the House of Representatives on 16 March 2012.

Alongside bilateral efforts, the Netherlands is pressing for the EU to develop a policy in this area and is also working with like-minded countries such as Canada and the United States. Within the United Nations, the Netherlands is a keen advocate of freedom of religion and belief, and the freedom to live one’s life without having a religious belief or engaging in religious activity.