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Statement of Iceland on freedom of religion

Clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on freedom of

religion and the Special Rapporteur on sale of children

5 March 2019

Statement by Iceland

 

Mr. President,

Iceland thanks the Special Rapporteurs for their latest reports.

We believe persecution of people based on their religion or belief should never be condoned. I therefore take this opportunity to reiterate the worry expressed by our Minister for Foreign Affairs, in his address to this Council last week, of the apparent increase in both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in Europe, where individuals are being targeted for hate and discrimination simply for their faith.

We need to do more to address this trend, in Europe and where ever else it is found. And we need to do it urgently.

Mr. Shaheed, we warmly welcome the conceptual focus of your report on the freedom of religion and belief. This is most useful in a time when new methods of communication are becoming ever more important and have made it possible to immediately share information between people, across borders and boundaries, including false information, incitement and intolerance.

We take particular note of your attempt to highlight the importance of not curtailing freedom of expression, while attempting to address issues relating to incitement of discrimination, hostility or violence against persons on the basis of religion or belief.

Mr. Shaheed, in this regard, with an eye on your comments regarding the challenge policy-makers globally are faced with of responding to online expression, that can be viewed as incitement to violence or at least discrimination and stigmatization, we would like to ask whether you have had any contacts and discussions with leaders of social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, to name but two?

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