International Think Tank to Tackle Thorny Defamation of Religions Issue

11th IRLA Meeting of Experts to convene in Washington, DC

24 August 2009, Silver Spring, MD…The oldest association dedicated to freedom of conscience for all people will gather its board of experts to discuss the hot button topic of hate speech and defamation of religions.

The International Religious Liberty Association, chartered in 1893, will host its 11th Meeting of Experts on September 1 – 3 in Silver Spring, MD and Washington, DC to continue its study of the serious problems inherent in the defamation of religions resolutions currently being advocated by several international bodies.

Experts in dialogue
Experts in dialogue

"Issues surrounding hate speech and defamation of religions have been at the forefront of those concerned with human rights over the last several years and IRLA is seeking an evaluation of the proposals to bring about new international regulatory measures," explained John Graz, Secretary-General of IRLA.

The group is expected to finalize and release its analysis and recommendations, which will be published in October in the association’s journal, Fides et Libertas. Past documents produced by the think tank include Guiding Principles for the Responsible Dissemination of Religion or Belief, Guiding Principles and Recommendations on Security and Religious Freedom, and Guiding Principles Regarding Student Rights to Wear or Display Religious Symbols.

The board of experts is composed of academics, practitioners and other international experts in the field of human rights and religion. Presenters will include Rosa Maria Martinez de Codes, Alberto de la Hera, Natan Lerner, Tad Stahnke, Rik Torfs, Denton Lotz, Robert Seiple, Silvio Ferrari, Cole Durham, Knox Thames, and Michael Kulakov.

Previous meetings have been held in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain (1999) Las Navas del Marques, Spain (2000), Caceres, Spain (2001), Washington, DC (2002), Leuven, Belgium (2003), Klingenthal, France (2004), Sigüenza, Spain (2005), Aix-en-Provence, France (2006), Richmond, Virginia (2007) and Bucharest, Romania (2008).

[Deborah Knott/IRLA News]