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Danish Forum for Freedom of Religion
or Belief

In 2018, the Danish Forum for Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) was established in connection with the Danish Government’s initiative for Freedom of Religion or Belief. The aim of the Forum for FoRB is to gather relevant Danish actors from all faith-based and secular civil society backgrounds in Denmark, including academia, religious institutions, and others who wish to engage in and discuss the Danish efforts on freedom of religion or belief abroad.
The Danish Forum for FoRB meets twice a year. Previous meetings have taken place in January 2018, June 2018, February 2019, October 2019, May 2020, and December 2020. The spoken language is primarily Danish at the meetings.

8. June 2021 – Meeting with interested NGOs about the recent B60 proposed Parliamentary decision
In addition to the meetings in the Danish Forum for Freedom of Religion or Belief, the Office of the Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, the MFA Departments of Africa, Policy and Development, together with the Department of Evaluation, Learning and Quality in the MFA hosted an online meeting with interested NGOs on the following up on the recommendation adopted by the majority in the Danish Parliament concerning the recent proposed parliamentary decision, B60.

The topic of the meeting was how to improve the knowledge and mapping of persecuted faith based minorities and how the promotion of freedom of religion or belief in the countries is integrated into Denmark’s bilateral development cooperation. Follow up to the meeting is being carried out.
The following NGOs attended the meeting with one or several representatives: Thinktank for Persecuted Christians (Tænketanken for forfulgte Kristne), The Danish Bible Society (Bibelselskabet), Danmission, Danish Institut for Human Rights, Open Doors, Center of Church-Based Development, Danish Europe Mission (Dansk Europamission)

December 2020 – Web-conference in Danish Forum for FoRB on Blasphemy laws and the relationship between freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the meeting in the Danish Forum for FoRB on December 10, 2020 was held as a web-conference. The focus of the meeting was blasphemy laws and the relationship between freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression. At the meeting, the Danish Minister for Development Cooperation, Flemming Møller Mortensen, drew attention to the issue of the increasing misuse of blasphemy laws against fait-based minorities and mentioned that the use of the term “phobia” in relation to religion, such as “islamophobia”, might hinder legitimate critique of religion and thus limit freedom of expression. 

The program for the web-conference was as following: 

                   Introduction and welcome by Ambassador Michael Suhr

13:00          Opening speech by Minister for Development Cooperation Flemming Møller Mortensen

13:10          Presentation of Megafon-analysis on Danes knowledge of religious persecution by the president of Tænketanken for Forfulgte Kristne, (Thinktank for persecuted Christians) Karsten Nissen.

13:20          “Freedom of Expression, Blasphemy and Apostasy”: Humanists Internationals Freedom of Thought Report 2020

13:30          “Blashemy and Freedom of Religion and Belief”. Presentation of Danish Mission Councils (DMRU) project in Indonesia by political advisor Fillip Buff Pedersen.

13:40          Discussion and Q/A

14:00          End

May 2020 – Web-conference in Danish Forum for FoRB on Covid-19 and Freedom of Religion or Belief

The meeting in the Danish Forum for FoRB on May 29, 2020 was also held as a web-conference with a focus on Covid-19 and its impact on religious and faith-based actors and the promotion of the right to freedom of religion or belief. The Minister for Development Cooperation, Rasmus Prehn, emphasised the importance of helping one another in the times of crises, as well as the issue of increasing discrimination of faith-based minorities during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Minister further emphasised his continuous support to the Danish initiative for the promotion of FoRB and the strategy of the initiative.

The program for the web-conference was as following

The program for the web-conference was as following:

10:00          Opening by Ambassador Michael Suhr

10:05          Session I: Problems for faith minorities and freedom of thought, conscience and religion during the Covid-19 crisis

-       Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on FoRBFreedom of religion or belief in the context of COVID19 and its consequences

-       Lone Ree Milkær, President of the Danish Humanist Society: Freedom of belief in Nigeria before and during COVID19

10:30          Session II: Roles, possibilities and problems for Faith Based Organizations and Actors during COVID19 in helping people in need and indirectly promoting respect for freedom of religion or belief

-       Katherine Marshall, Professor of Religion and Foreign Policy, Georgetown University, US: The role(s) of religious actors in countering COVID19 and its consequences: Lessons learned from previous pandemics and lessons so far

-       Jørgen Thomsen, Chief Advisor on religion and development at DanChurchAid: Challenges and opportunities during COVID19 for FBA and FBO helping all faith groups and promoting mutual respect

-       Filip Buff, Chief Advisor at Danish Mission Councils Development Agency: How to promote freedom of thought, consciousness and religion during COVID19 – possibilities how and where to focus

11:00          Session III: (in Danish).

Minister for Development Cooperation Rasmus Prehn: Protecting minorities and promoting freedom of thought and religion during COVID19 and beyond.

Q/A

11:30           End

October 2019 – Meeting in Danish Forum for FoRB – Gender Equality and Freedom of Religion or Belief
The meeting in the Danish Forum for FoRB was held on October 8, 2019 in the Danish Parliaments Common Hall and was attended by more than 100 Danish actors, representing civil society in general, inducing faith-based organizations, academics, religious leaders, and politicians. The focus of the event was a round table discussion with FoRB-experts about the intersection between gender equality and freedom of religion or belief. 

15:00          Welcome by Ambassador  Michael Suhr

15:05          Round table discussion with FoRB-experts:

-       Marie Juul Pedersen – Danish Institute for Human Rights: FoRB & Gender Equality Project: Introduction and reflections so far

-       Iyad AbuMoghli – UNEP: FoRB, Gender Equality and Climate Change

-       Kamiar Alaei – Drexel University: FoRB, Gender Equality and Health

Q&A moderated by Filip Buff Pedersen (DMCDD)

15:45          The Danish Minister for Development Cooperation, Rasmus Prehn: The new Government’s approach to the FoRB strategy.

15:55          Round table discussion with FoRB-experts and UN Representative:

-       Nazila Ghanea – Professor, Oxford University: Trends in the UN regarding handling FoRB

-       Ibrahim Salama – General Director for UN Human Rights Treaties, OHCHR: The Faith for Rights Initiative

-       Mariz Tadros – Professor, University of Sussex: FoRB and Conflict Prevention

-       Elizabeth O’Casey –  Humanists International: FoRB and Freedom of Expression - combating hate speech

Q&A moderated by Senior Researcher Marie Juul Pedersen (DIHR) and General Secretary Ed Brown (Stefanus Alliance)

17:00          Chairman of the Danish Network of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Daniel Toft Jacobsen (The Social Democratic Party): The future work of Parliamentarians promoting FoRB.

Former coordinator for International Panel of Parliamentarians for FoRB, Ed Brown: Experience from building a coalition among Parliamentarians worldwide

Q&A moderated by Filip Buff Pedersen 

Reception in Parliament


February 2019 – Meeting in Danish Forum for FoRB – Inter-religious dialog and cooperation and the promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief
The meeting in the Danish Forum for FoRB was held on February 7, 2019 in the Danish Parliaments Common Hall. The main topics of the conference were the two presentation of recent research on how inter-religious dialog and faith-based actors can help to support the promotion of freedom of religion or belief. 

09:30          Opening speech by the Danish Minister for Development Cooperation, Rasmus Prehn

09:55          Q&A

10:20          Presentation of research project regarding promotion of freedom of religion or belief by Marie Juul Petersen, Danish Institute for Human Rights.

10:30          Presentation of research project regarding inter-religious dialog and by Erik Rasmussen, founder of the Think Tank Sustania (Formerly Mandag Morgen)

10:40          Q&A and closing remark from the Danish Minister for Development Cooperation, Rasmus Prehn

11:20          Danish Mission Councils (DMRU) and Civil Society in Development CISU (Civilsamfund i Udvikling) present possible means of support

11:40          Q&A 

                         

June 2018 – Meeting in Danish Forum for FoRB – Status on the Danish Initiative on Freedom of Religion or Belief 
The meeting in the Danish Forum for FoRB was held on June 13, 2018 in the Danish Parliaments Common Hall. The main topic for the meeting was a preliminary status on the results of the Danish initiative for freedom of religion or belief. Danish Minister for Development Cooperation, Ulla Tørnæs gave a speech presenting the results of the work within the 5 tracks of the Danish strategy, which was followed by a debat. The second half of the meeting focused on the intersection between freedom of religion and women’s rights. 

Session I Status on the Danish Initative (In danish)

11:00          Opening speech by the Danish Minister for Development Cooperation, Ulla Tørnæs

11:15          Speeches by the two opponents – Birgitte Qvist Sørensen, General-secretary for DanChurchAid and Anders Ellebæk Madsen, Editor for Church and Belief at Kristeligt Dagblad

11:35          Answers from the Minister

11.45          Open debat with questions from the audience

12.20          Break and standing lunch

Session II on Womens Rights and Freedom of Religion or Belief. (In English)

12.50          Presentation by the Minister

13.00          Presentation by Marie Juul Petersen, Senior Researcher at Danish Institute for Human Rights.

13.10          Presentation by Azza Karam Senior Cultural Advisor at the UN Population Fund (UNFPA)

13.25          Q&A

14.00          End



January 2018 – Presentation of the Danish Initiative for Freedom of Religion or Belief and the first meeting in Danish Forum for FoRB 
The meeting in the Danish Forum for FoRB was held on January 10, 2018 in Eigtveds Pakhus. This was first meeting in the Danish Forum for FoRB, and served as the launch of the Danish Governments new initiative on Freedom of Religion or Belief and of the Danish Forum for FoRB. The meeting hosted by the Danish Minister for Development and Cooperation, Ulla Tørnes, who held a speech outlining the aims and strategy for the Danish initiative on freedom of religion or belief, which was followed by a Q&A session.