Religious minorities in MENA

Protecting religious minorities in conflict situations in the Middle East and North Africa

In partnership with Minority Rights Group and the Norwegian HL-Senteret (Centre for Holocaust and Religious Minority Studies), Ceasefire is carrying out a 3.5-year programme aimed at protecting the rights of religious minorities, supported by the Norwegian Development Cooperation Agency, NORAD.

This programme as a whole supports minority activists and organizations that are working towards strengthening the rights of minorities of faith and belief, in regions where the need to act on these issues is the greatest: Middle East and North Africa, and South and Southeast Asia. The ultimate goal is to ensure that the human rights of religious minorities are respected and that these communities are protected from persecution and discrimination.

The objective of the Ceasefire element of the programme is to ensure improved systems for collecting and reporting religious minority rights violations are established and supported in target countries in the MENA region (including Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon) and that there is increased attention by local and national authorities, regional bodies, UN human rights mechanisms and other actors to religious persecution. Declining civil space in many countries in the MENA region has made support of local civilian monitoring of violations vital.  This includes countries – including those facing violent conflict – highlighted by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as no access zones for international monitors.

Estimated results:

  • Strengthened capacities and protection of religious minority activists and civil society organisations to monitor, document and report rights violations, and design and implement targeted approaches to address discrimination and human rights violations.
  • Greater collaboration within civil society at national and regional levels across MENA on identifying, preventing and challenging religious persecution and discrimination, and on building inter-faith understanding.
  • Improved systems for collecting and reporting religious minority rights violations are established and supported in target countries. This ensures that reliable information on violations can be communicated to key advocacy targets, and that civilians and local activists in countries at risk can themselves have a voice in defending their rights.
  • Increased attention by local and national authorities, regional bodies and UN human rights mechanisms and/or other actors to religious persecution and discrimination and increased willingness to take active steps to prevent and combat violations and discrimination.
  • Publication and wide dissemination of high quality, up to date information on the abuses, rights’ denial and discrimination faced by religious minorities, to address the information gap that exists between key stakeholders at the local, national, regional, and international levels, and the situation regarding freedom or religion and/or belief and religious minorities on the ground in the target regions

Partners on this project include:

Minority Rights Group is the leading international human rights organization working to secure rights for ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and indigenous people around the world.

The Norwegian Center for Holocaust and Minority Studies (HL-Senteret) is a research, education and documentation center in Oslo focusing on the Holocaust, other genocides, extremism, anti-Semitism, hate speech, and the situation of minorities in contemporary societies.

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