Netherlands: Promote freedom of religion

Journalist Michiel Hegener is calling to promote freedom of religion in a special issue "Religion and basic law", a publication of the Ministry of Justice.

Freedom of religion is guaranteed in the constitution. Everybody can decide on his own which religion he will follow, and thus also which religion he won't. But, writes Hegener, "Hundred of thousands of Dutch are busy impeding the freedom of religion of others. They are not hindered by the government or politics. They are underrating the problem, or haven't even noticed it."

Hegener is alluding specifically to Muslims. He says that also in the Netherlands they mostly don't tolerate their fellow believers leaving the faith. "Skeptics don't dare express themselves even to their best friends, because they know the rules of Islam for apostasy: there's a death sentence for that". That conflicts the constitution, but according to Hegener there aren't any means to fight such religious coercion.

Hegener therefore calls for having freedom of religion take shape like the ban on discrimination, that also appears in the constitution. For example, commercials varying on the theme that "discrimination is not allowed", should also appear for freedom of religion. "Interfering with the freedom of religion and life outlook of others is not allowed".

Hegener: Have the government spread the idea, also in brochures in Turkish and Arabic.

For that matter, he writes, this message should be spread among atheists as well. "They can sometimes be surprising intolerant against skeptic fellow believers".

Source: Trouw (Dutch)

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