Evangelicals at the UN Human Rights Council also asked the Greek government to look for alternative religious education classes for non-Orthodox students.
The office of World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) in Geneva participated in the presentation of the UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review of Greece.
WEA Advocacy Officer Wissam al-Saliby started his statement at the UN Council's 49th session on 23 March thanking “the government of Greece for engaging in the Universal Periodic Review”.
The WEA recommended Greek government to look for alternative classes for the religious education of non-Orthodox students in schools.
Wissam al-Saliby encouraged Greece “to take measures” to guarantee that those alternative classes “include all the major religious denominations present in Greece”.
He called on them “to make these religious classes optional, including for Orthodox Christians, and renounce the practice of requesting a solemn declaration from students who seek exemption from these classes”.
Furthermore, the WEA Advocacy Officer also denounced that “no State made recommendations to Greece related to Freedom of Religion or Belief, notably the longstanding prohibition of proselytism in Greece in the constitution and legislation”.
The Greek law states that “anyone engaging in proselytism shall be liable to imprisonment and a fine (...) By ‘proselytism’ is meant, in particular, any direct or indirect attempt to intrude on the religious beliefs of a person of a different religious persuasion, with the aim of undermining those beliefs”.
According to the WEA, proselytism in that law “is defined in very vague terms”, and “those legal provisions are contrary to the right to freedom of religion or belief”.
“It is regrettable that almost 30 years after the condemnation of Greece by the European Court of Human Rights in the Kokkinakis case, the law remains unchanged”, said Wissam al-Saliby.
He explained that “despite being rarely applied, the anti-proselytism law is still in force and was used in August 2013 by the Supreme Criminal Court to condemn a member of the Pentecostal church”.
“We call on Greece to amend or annul the legal provisions prohibiting proselytism”, concluded the WEA Advocacy Officer.
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