Historical Religious Liberty Festival in Curaçao
A mixed crowd of Christians represented by denominations like the Methodists, Roman Catholics and Seventh-day Adventists, together with a group of Hindus, Jews and Muslims, totaling approximately 1,000 people shouted: “Thank you God, for Religious Liberty. Thank you Curaçao, for Religious Liberty! We love it. We want to keep it.”
On Saturday January 17, 2015 the Curaçao Religious Liberty Foundation (CRLF) organized the first Festival ever for Religious Freedom on the island of Curaçao. During the festival several religious and ethnic groups made a unique presentation, manifesting the rich religious and cultural diversity on the island of roughly 150,000 inhabitants. Also, representatives from the International Religious Liberty Association (IRLA) addressed the audience stressing the importance of cherishing, promoting and defending Religious Liberty and Human Dignity.
Mr. Luigi Faneyte, representing the Islam Community, expressed the condemnation of killing in the name of religion and stated their support for all efforts to eliminate violence in the name of God or any religion. Given the stigmatization suffered by the Islam Community because of terrorist acts around the world, he stressed the importance of the existence of an organization like the Curaçao Religious Liberty Foundation. Also, Mr. Faneyte, expressed their commitment to support the foundation in any way possible for it to continue to do its work of religious emancipation for the years to come.
Mr. Locksley Brodie, Treasurer of the Curaçao Council of Churches applauded the foundation and indicated that working together with the CCC is inevitable for the fostering of harmonious living in Curaçao. Then, Mr. Marcolino (Mike) Franco, president of the Parliament of Curaçao pointed out that Religious Freedom is articulated both the Constitution of Curaçao drafted in 2010 and in 1955. But this does not mean that this right to Freedom of Religion is always respected in the society. Take for instance what happens in old people’s home, where the client’s right of religious freedom is not always respected.
Curaçao has known a long history of religious freedom and has served as a safe haven for both Christians and Jews who have suffered religious persecution in Europe and the Middle East. One of the reasons for the establishment of the foundation is because, “we should not take our relative freedom for granted, especially, when we consider the current international events,” according to Shurman Kook, secretary of the CRLF.
Shurman R. Kook, Secretary
Curaçao Religious Liberty Foundation