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Lecture for the CDU Solingen

“The German state must equally guarantee freedom of religion for freedom loving Muslims and also use its monopoly on the use of force to suppress those Islamicists who are enemies of freedom of religion.”

This was the main thesis presented by the Director of the International Institute for Religious Freedom and President of the International Society for Human Rights on the occasion of the “Castle Burger Discussions” held jointly by a Protestant working group of the CDU/CSU political party and the senior citizens association of Solingen at the Luther Church in Solingen.

Religious freedom is never achieved half-heartedly, claimed Professor Schirrmacher, who teaches sociology of religion at the University of the West in Romania. One simply must protect Muslims from whoever would threaten their freedom of religion—as well, of course as protecting oriental Christians and converts from Islam to Christianity—especially from those Muslims who are called Islamicists, whose goal is the abolition of religious freedom or who would justify or even use violence.

Freedom of religion, as is true with all human rights, must not only be made legally possible; fundamental rights must be actively defended by means of the monopoly of force of the state against all those who justify, propagate, or practice abuses of those rights.

The theme of the evening was “Christian Persecution in the Middle East as a Reflection of the Situation of Religious Freedom Worldwide.” Schirrmacher, who is also deputy chair of the advisory committee for the Center for Oriental Christians in Germany (Zentralrat Orientalischer Christen in Deutschland, ZOCD), reminded the audience of the genocide of Armenian and Syriac Aramaic Christians in 1915. Whoever sees the current situation in Syria as a new or short term problem is historically forgetful. For oriental Christians the Middle East has never truly become a place of peace since the mass murder of millions of their fellow believers a century ago. Today’s genocide is only a new appearance of a terrible tragedy, with a series of starts and stops, which has been going on for at least a century.

The scholar, who travels widely on behalf of ecumenical causes, publicly regretted that Germany is not using 2015 to publicly investigate and evaluate its shared responsibility in the 1915 genocide carried out by its ally in World War I, Turkey.


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