atlas of religious minorities in europe

The creation of an online Atlas of the rights of religious minorities and beliefs in the countries of the European Council.

Mapping and measuring the rights of religious minorities and beliefs.

The project’s aim is to establish an online Atlas of the rights of religious minorities and beliefs in the member states of the European Council and to provide a general overview of the social and legal status of minority rights. Through an interactive format, the reader will also have access to data and information regarding specific countries, religious groups and fields of rights. Each map will include a brief text that positions it within its historical-social context. The Atlas will be updated every three years.

The Atlas is designed to offer an easy to read and comparative description of the status of religious minorities in the countries of the European Council (EC). It will allow for comparison of the different degrees of minority protection provided by each member state, the legal status of each minority group (both within a state and within every other member state), and the specific fields of rights that are in play (both across and within EC member states). Specific attention will be devoted to the implementation of rights with the aim of reducing the gap between formal rights and the actual enjoyment of those rights.

The reader will be able to select an individual right, a country and a field of rights (e.g. education) and obtain the information related to the legal and social status that the minority in a given country enjoys and in the field(s) germane to that minority’s legal and social status. The reader may also obtain a comparative overview of the rights enjoyed by each minority in a country (or group of countries), as well as a comparative overview of the rights of a specific religious minority in all of the countries of the EC. These research tools may be further combined to obtain a wide variety of data and information sought by the reader.

The Atlas will also provide a reliable system for “measuring” the implementation of the rights of religious minorities. Based on the answers to two questionnaires, one for legal experts and the other for representatives of the minority groups, a combination of indicators will be developed related to minority rights that will provide for the assessment of each country.

A collection of maps and other visual tools on the rights of religious minorities brings at least two elements of benefit that books dealing with the same issue may not provide. First, it helps to visualize for the reader what would otherwise require an extensive text to explain. Secondly, the maps can be combined to show the interweaving and overlapping of the various elements of the issue of minority rights, thus reflecting its complexity much more effectively than a more basic book could present. Therefore, it is foreseeable that teachers, scholars, politicians, diplomats, NGO activists, minority representatives, etc. will use the Atlas to acquire a greater awareness of the social and legal status of minorities. The readers will be capable of identifying the issues, countries and areas where the protection of minority rights must be improved and reinforced.

To date, there are atlases of national or linguistic minorities; there are, however, no atlases dedicated to the experiences of religious minorities.