To: The Registrar
European Court of Human Rights
Council of Europe
F-67075 STRASBOURG CEDEX
28 November 2002, London
Folgero et.al. v.Norway
STATEMENT OF SUPPORT TO NORWEGIAN COMPLAINT
The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) expresses its deepest concern for the way Norway arranges religious education and instruction within the public school system.
In 1997 Norway introduced a new compulsory religious syllabus for primary and secondary schools where children are educated overwhelmingly about Lutheran Christianity, while non-Christian minorities are denied the right of exemption from these classes. The discriminatory effect of this is enhanced by the fact that Norwegian legislation has a Christian general clause for the schools.
IHEU is a worldwide union, with nearly 100 member organisations in more than 35 countries, working cooperatively with Amnesty International and other Human Rights organisations as well as liberal religious groups. The union and its member organisations strive to promote universal human values and seek to establish freedom of religion and belief in cultures where this freedom is violated – in some countries the violation of this fundamental right is done in a most oppressive and degrading manner.
We are aware that the Scandinavian countries, and not least the famous peace-negotiator Norway, are looked upon as models for democracy. It is therefore most regrettable that the lack of religious freedom in Norwegian schools may legitimate Human Rights violations in undemocratic regimes.
IHEU very much hopes that governments, groups, institutions and courts dealing with freedom and dignity of minorities within today’s Europe will realize the harmful effect of discriminatory practices in relation to children’s cultural identity, who are the next generation of decision making adults in a growingly multicultural society.
Compulsory indoctrination in the beliefs of the majority religion should not be allowed anywhere in the world and is contrary to established universal standards of Human Rights. Consequently, IHEU supports the complaints before the European Human Right Court.
& Secretary General
Open letter from Executive Director
'IHEU sends letter to European Court of Human Rights in Support of Norwegian Complaint (2002-11)', Humanists International, Board of Directors, 2002