"As societies build walls of separation between communities,
ICAAD works to remove each brick to illuminate our common humanity"

Preservation of Identity a Major Issue for Minorities at UN Forum

Preservation of Identity a Major Issue for Minorities at UN Forum

“Beyond freedom of religion or belief: Guaranteeing the rights of religious minorities”


  • Testimony Before the UN Forum on Minority Issues
  • Upcoming Shadow Report on France
  • Partnering with French Pro Bono Counsel
Geneva, December 9, 2013 – ICAAD Advisor, Ranjit G. Singh, presented in Geneva on Nov. 27th at the Forum on Minority Issues “Beyond freedom of religion or belief: guaranteeing the rights of religious minorities,” held by the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR). Ranjit focused his discussion on the impact of state regulations on religion, like the ban on religious manifestation in France, which undermines the dignity and identity of Sikhs, Muslims and Jews.In his testimony Ranjit stated, “In principle, Laicité must allow the right to worship one’s faith freely in society, otherwise, the separation between religion and state becomes blurred and the state becomes irreparably entangled in religious practice. Laws that exclude manifesting one’s belief in public schools (law of 15 March 2004), on ID cards (Home Ministry Regulation on ID card pictures of 2005) and in public (2011 ban on the Islamic veil) undermine Laicité.”Read Ranjit Singh’s entire testimony here, in French or English (translated).

ICAAD will be submitting a Shadow Report to the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) on the effect of the ban on religious manifestation on minority communities in France. The report will include direct testimony from French youths who were barred from public education because of the discriminatory law, and provide recommendations on how France can comply with its international human rights obligations. ICAAD’s Senior Advisor Tejinder Singh of Goldstein Russell, P.C. is preparing the submission before the HRC.

ICAAD is also working with a French pro bono law firm to explore and develop litigation and advocacy strategies to challenge laws banning religious manifestation in France.

Read our Previous Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Report on France.

Ranjit Video

Education Corner
Shadow Report: A Report where NGOs can highlight issues not raised by their governments or point out where the government may be misleading the Committee about the real human rights situation on the ground.Pro Bono: ABA House of Delegates, states, “A lawyer should render public interest legal service. A lawyer may discharge this responsibility by providing professional services at no fee or a reduced fee to persons of limited means or to public service or charitable groups or organizations, by service in activities to improve the law, the legal system or the legal profession, and by financial support for organizations that provide legal services to persons of limited means.”


This Civil Rights and Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we’d like to challenge you to reflect on how fear may have influenced your opinions, especially of others, and to take a step towards the courage to overcome those fears. Why the focus on fear you might ask?

Famed marketer and author Simon Sinek in his book “Start with Why” outlines six typical manipulations used in sales and marketing, one of which is the use of fear. On fear, Sinek says, “When fear is being employed, facts are incidental. Deeply seated in our biological drive to survive, that emotion cannot be quickly wiped away with facts and figures.”

In the current political atmosphere, in the U.S. and around the globe, fear is often used by politicians and campaigners to polarize debates and to demonize marginalized communities, using them as scapegoats for the real economic, social, and political challenges that societies face.

Martin Luther King, Jr. understood how important fear is, so much so that he gave a sermon on it named “Antidotes for Fear.” It’s worth reading in its entirety, especially because it recognizes the importance, necessity, and creativity of fear (kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/draft-chapter-xiv-mastery-fear-or-antidotes-fear). However, particularly pertinent section was highlighted by King’s wife Coretta Scott King in her book “My life with Martin Luther King, Jr”:

“First Martin spoke of the many kinds of fear that troubled men and women in this period of change and "calamitous uncertainty"— fear of illness or economic disaster, fear of personal inadequacy in our highly competitive society. More terrible was the fear of death, even racial annihilation, in this atomic age, when the whole world teetered on "a balance of terror . . . fearful lest some diplomatic faux pas ignite a frightful holocaust."

"Some fears are normal and necessary," he said, like the fear of snakes in a jungle, but when they become neurotic and unchecked, they paralyze the will and reduce a man to apathy or despair. He quoted Emerson, who wrote, "He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear."

How, then, to overcome fear? First, Martin said, "We must un-flinchingly face our fears . . . this confrontation will, to some measure, grant us power. . . . "Second, we can master fear through one of the supreme virtues known to man— courage . . . courage is the power of the mind to overcome fear.”"

MLK Coretta Scott King Simon Sinek
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