Protecting the Human Rights of Religious Minorities in Eastern Europe

Protecting the Human Rights of Religious Minorities in Eastern Europe

Protecting the Human Rights of Religious Minorities in Eastern Europe

Protecting the Human Rights of Religious Minorities in Eastern Europe


The ousting of the communist regimes has not guaranteed the protection of human rights. The historical reality is that discrimination against minority religious and ethnic groups is often part of a broader monolithic nationalism. As official atheism is replaced by varying models of church-state arrangements, how much will the rule of law prevail against resurgent nationalism and intolerance toward minorities? These nineteen essays consider this question. The authors represent eleven countries (four essays discuss Western Europe) and include theologians, political and social scientists, legal scholars, and human rights professionals. Whether considering Bulgaria's policy toward Muslims or Christian-Jewish dialogue in Poland, these provocative essays shed new light on human rights in a globalizing world.


Dr. J. Paul Martin

The Center for the Study of Human Rights is delighted to publish this important collection of articles that focus on the problems of religious minorities in a Europe that is searching for new patterns of unity in the aftermath of the Iron Curtain. At issue are the roles of states and religions in the search for national identities and the relevance of common, transnational human rights standards. This process plays out within the larger framework of the forces of globalization, notably new patterns of commerce and finance, the explosion of electronic communications, the penetration of religious missionaries and international advocates for democracy from the West, the expansion of NATO and the activities of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Despite the inroads of secularism, religion, or at least religious heritage, remains a continuing factor in social identity in European communities.

Religion as a source of group affiliation is re-asserting itself in Europe in many forms. We need only think of the role religion has played in defining the sides in the conflicts within the former Yugoslavia or the issues raised by the new laws on religions passed recently by the Russian and Austrian parliaments. New religions are expanding. Eastern Europe has become a major target for missionary groups from outside the region, angering the pre-existing churches seeking to re-establish themselves after years of suppression under communism.

The human rights perspective focuses especially on innocent victims and . . .

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