Celebrating the birth of AFRSL and 75 years of UDHR and beyond

Alessandro Amicarelli at the African Forum for Religious and Spirituality Liberty 2023

Alessandro Amicarelli, chairman of the European Federation for Freedom of Belief (FOB) and trustee of All Faiths Network UK, together with Massimo Introvigne, director in charge of Bitter Winter (online paper on Human Rights in China and the world), Rosita Soryte, director of the Observatory on the Religious Freedom of Refugees (ORLIR) and a member of the Scientific Committee of FOB, Eric Roux, president of the Union of the Churches of Scientology in France Eric Roux president of the Union of the Churches of Scientology in Franceand Peter Zoherer, executive director of the Forum for Religious Freedom, Europe (FOREF Europe), officially launched the African Forum for Religious and Spirituality Liberty in Cape Town (South Africa) on December 8th, 2023 during the weekend celebrating the 75 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

Master of ceremonies at the Official Launch of AFRSL, Rosita Soryte announced the good news that AFRSL steering committee unanimously appointed IMboni Samuel Radebe, leader of The Revelation Spiritual Home, an African traditional spirituality movement, as chairman and coordinator of AFRSL which is created via a Memorandum of Understanding with FOREF Europe represented by Peter Zoherer at the event and via a recoded message by Aaron Rhodes, president of FOREF Europe.

Alessandro Amicarelli and Peter Zoherer at 2023 AFRSL

Alessandro Amicarelli and Peter Zoherer at the African Forum for Religious and Spirituality Liberty

Massimo Introvigne, sociologist of religion, called the creation of AFRSL a historical moment in Africa as the message will be spread all over the continent to foster mutual understanding and coexistence.

Our president Alessandro Amicarelli, after welcoming Samuel Radebe as appointed coordinator of AFRSL and greeting the over 500 attendees, many of whom students and members of the clergy of several different denominations, including also male and female bishops, gave the following speech:

«This year we celebrate 75 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) proclaimed by the United Nations on the 10th of December 1948. One of the main points of discussion around the Universal Declaration and its nature is whether or not it is truly universal and if it constitutes an obligation for governments. 

This point was argued by several schools of thought and institutions during the first years of existence of the Declaration. It took some 18 years for the UN to adopt the International Covenants on civil and political rights and social and cultural rights in 1966 to give a stronger and wider value to the principles of the UDHR by means of legally binding instruments. And in 1968 the UN with the Proclamation of Teheran made the point clearer by stating that

"2. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states a common understanding of the peoples of the world concerning the inalienable and inviolable rights of all members of the human family and constitutes an obligation for the members of the international community;

Despite the Covenants and the Proclamation calling the UDHR a common understanding and an obligation for states, things did not get better after 1968 and up to now violations of human rights are a constant worldwide also in the "more" civilised and progressed countries. 

Leaving problems behind, keeping a positive mind attitude, indeed the principles of the UDHR are universal insofar as they focus on humanity, and specifically on the humanity of human-kind and its natural or innate or pre-existing rights and shared aspirations in the shared planet.

No more divisions but unity in humanity. 

However idealistic this may sound, unity in humanity can be achieved by Acknowledging, Respecting and Celebrating diversity. We can be equal by being different. We don't need to be "all the same". 

An important aspect of diversity in humanity relates to the religious and spiritual dimension. This very aspect is protected by the UDHR in terms of right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion (or belief) by art. 18. 

Experience shows that the power of the interfaith dialogue is stronger than any division and fight for supremacy. It's spreading all over the world and the movement needs more advocates worldwide. Knowledge is power and the power of the knowledge is above everything. By knowing each others, by respecting each others, members of various groups are able to spread a positive message in their local, regional and national communities and beyond. 

Only communal work can stop the intolerance of some local or national authorities, and unity delivers its results. We saw important results internationally also in terms of involvement in the discourse of Freedom Of Religion and Belief (FORB) with initiatives like the Ministerial to Advance Freedom of Religion in the world and other initiatives where religious and spiritual groups have contributed to the advancement of the protection of this fundamental right.

Another important achievement in terms of lobbying and advocacy, is the work of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which is an independent by-partisan initiative that issues reports and updates on the situation of Freedom of Religion and Belief in the world. 

Only few days ago, USCIRF issued a report on France about its well-known approach towards, or against, the wearing of religious symbols and garb in the public places. This report harshly condemns the illiberal policies in place in France, and this work is certainly the result of years of international efforts by human rights and religious freedom advocates raising the problems existing in France and not only in France of course. 

United we stand, united we deliver change!»

Alessandro Amicarelli and Samuel Radebe

Alessandro Amicarelli and Samuel Radebe