Call for Collaborators: The Online Atlas of Religious Minorities Rights in the Council of Europe Countries

Dear Colleagues,

Italian scholar Silvio Ferrari has launched a massive project that will be of interest to NRM scholars and others researching religion. The description is below.  He is interested in possible collaborators with the project, particularly if anyone can assist in obtaining funding to expand the project. His email is: silvio.ferrari@unimi.it if you want to contact him. I would appreciate your sending me a copy if you do so, as I hope also to be involved: jtr@unr.edu .

James T. Richardson, J.D., Ph.D.
Foundation Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Judicial Studies
Mail Stop 311
University of Nevada, Reno
Reno, NV 89557

The Online Atlas of Religious Minorities Rights in the Council of Europe Countries

The project aims at producing an online Atlas of the religious minorities rights in the Council of Europe member States. The Atlas will provide a general overview of the religious minorities social and legal status in the CoE countries and, through its interactive format, the reader will also have access to data and information concerning a particular country, religious group, and area of rights. Each map will be complemented by a short text that places the map in its socio-historical context and, if necessary, provides further information. Maps and chapters will be updated every three years.

The Atlas is designed to offer an easy-to-read comparative description of the status of religious minorities in the CoE countries. It will consent to identify and compare the different levels of minorities rights protection granted by each State, the legal status enjoyed by each minority group both across the CoE countries and in each of them, and the specific areas of rights that are at stake (again both transversally across the CoE countries and in each of them). Particular attention will be devoted to the rights implementation so that the gap between formal entitlement and real enjoyment of rights is reduced.

The reader will be able to select a single religious minority, country, and area of rights (for example, education) and obtain the relevant information concerning the legal and social status enjoyed by the religious minority in that country and rights area. Alternatively, the reader can get a comparative view of the rights enjoyed by all religious minorities in a country (or a group of countries) or a comparative view of the rights enjoyed by a specific religious minority in all the CoE countries. These research tools can be further combined to obtain the data and information required by the reader.

We would also like to develop a reliable system for “measuring” the implementation of religious minorities rights. Based on the answers to two questionnaires, one for legal experts and the other for the religious minorities representatives, a set of indicators concerning the respect of religious minorities rights will be developed and used to assess each country.

A collection of maps on religious minorities rights has at least two added values in comparison to a book devoted to the same issue. First, it shows at a glance what words take much more time to explain. Second, maps can be combined and merged to show the intertwinement and overlapping of the different components of the minorities rights issue, reflecting its complexity much better than a book. Therefore it is to be expected that, through the Atlas, teachers, scholars, politicians, diplomats, NGOs activists, leaders of religious organizations, etc. will gain a better knowledge of the social and legal status of religious minorities and will be able to identify the subjects, countries and areas where minorities rights protection requires to be increased and strengthened.

While there are Atlases of linguistic or national minorities, religious minorities have been overlooked and this project will fill the gap.