“Concern and sadness for continued, repeated offences against the religious feelings of devotees of different confessions”. This has been expressed by the Spanish Federation of Jewish Communities, the Spanish Bishops Conference, the Spanish Islamic Commission and the Spanish Federation of Evangelical Religious institutions in a joint release issued yesterday. “For a long time, we, citizens of this country, believers and non believers, have ventured together on a journey of no return towards cohabitation in freedom and in peace, within the rule of the law, and the acknowledgement and respect of each other’s human rights”, write the signers of the release, in which they recall the steps made in the understanding of the “wicked nature of discriminatory and hateful feelings, speeches and actions because of race, national country, sex, political ideology, sexual preference or religion. We have equipped ourselves with laws to deter, prosecute and punish the most serious and extreme occurrences of such behaviours”. And, “most importantly, even if there’s still a lot to do, we have managed to develop a shared social awareness, which reports, leaves out and does not tolerate such behaviours”.
But, the signers of the release point out, “lamentably, this is not happening with discrimination or hate crimes due to religious reasons. Offences against religious feelings still enjoy inexplicable social tolerance in our country. In Spain, temples and symbols are desecrated, the holiest leaders of the religious faith of millions of people are mocked and made fun of, wit total impunity and tolerance”. “We have seen this happen again for Carnival, when Christians, Jews and Muslims, who, with different sensitivities, share a respect or a devotion for Jesus, Mary and the saints, have painfully had to see humiliating, vexing scenes, in which nobody could assume whether the offence were directed against the feelings or the shared values of other groups”. Actually, for Carnival, an actor publicly offending the Virgin and St James in Santiago de Compostela raised a furore. According to the signers of the release, it is “inacceptable” that “tolerance and complicity with religious offences” may invoke freedom of expression. Actually, “freedom of expression, as everyone knows, is not an absolute right. It has limits, as any other right, and cannot be invoked to attack other freedoms or other legal assets that are protected by law, such as religious freedom and the religious feelings that are associated with such freedom, which are clearly established and protected by our legislation”.
“The religious confessions that have joined in writing this release – the notice ends – will keep working together along with the rest of Spanish society in their commitment and contribution to peace, tolerance, social inclusion and cohabitation in freedom, for the common good. We only ask believers and non believers to respect each other”.