Friday, August 27, 2010

Petition for Religious Liberty at Uni

Freedom Of Choice Summer Project 2010

(You can sign the Petition at the link provided under title)

BCSU (Bulgaria), IFES Netherlands, UCCF Britain

16th July 2010

To the University Dean,

We are writing to you to tell you about a recent European Union Project that was held in Kazanluk this July.

For the last 11 days a team of 20 students from various Bulgarian Universities have been joined by 12 students from Britain and 12 Students from the Netherlands. This was an EU sponsored project called “Freedom to Choose”. The aim behind this project was to learn about each other’s cultures and especially to examine the key issue of freedom in each of our countries in order to foster greater understanding and unity across the European Union.

It has been an enormously exciting project due to the diverse nature of everyone taking part. Each day we have had multi-track “freedom and culture” discussions led by the different cultures represented. This gave us a fascinating insight into the values that have shaped each culture. It has been wonderful to see also how much we have in common especially in our joint Christian heritage.

We have also visited various sites in Bulgaria that have taught us about Bulgarian history and your struggle for freedom.

Much of the discussion has been about what hinders freedom in our countries. We have all valued learning from one another’s cultures and so one of the things that has concerned us is the rising fear of diversity in our countries. It has been worrying to hear of the growth of far-right politicians in our countries – seeking to exclude minorities.

As students at University we all passionately believe that University by definition is about Unity and Diversity. University should be the major time in one’s life when you can explore other ideas, other philosophies, other worldviews. Being at University is a privilege where you are exposed to the best thinkers and scientists throughout history and throughout the world.

One of the things that has greatly saddened the Dutch and English teams is to hear that at Bulgarian Universities’ religious groups are not allowed to advertise meetings or meet on campus. This is discrimination. Millions of people lost their lives in the last century fighting to protect freedom, diversity and the right to free speech.

So we are writing to you to ask two simple questions –

· Why are Bulgarian students not afforded the same freedom that their fellow students in other EU countries?

· Why are religious groups banned from campus?

University is not a time for narrow-mindedness and exclusion but open-mindedness and exploration. As students from the UK and the Netherlands we enjoy the freedom to explore the great religions of our history, to investigate our faith, to discuss religion with our fellow students. This is not only a privilege but a right. We find it strange that in the 21st Century Bulgarian students are not afforded the same right. How can this be? Surely part of the Bulgarian Constitution protects freedom of religion?

So we are writing to you as those in power asking that you might extend the same right to your students. Please allow religious groups to have the same freedom to congregate, to talk, to discuss and debate that other groups already have. Surely University is all about the right to discuss ideas and concepts with people of differing backgrounds? We must not fear diversity but embrace it and listen to one another.

These last 11 days we have been enriched by meeting those of differing backgrounds, values and cultures. We urge you to allow the students at your institution to be similarly enriched. What is there to fear by extending this freedom to your students?

Yours sincerely,

David Anthony, Rebecca Aldus (UCCF - UK)

Liselot Zuur, Maria Verbuggen, (IFES Netherlands)

Rusi Slavov, Kristina Prokopova, Radoslav Stefanov, Krassimir Marinov (BCSU - Bulgaria)

The Universities & Colleges Christian Fellowship (UCCF),

38 De Montfort Street, Leicester, LE1 7GP, England - Registered charity number 306137

tel: +(44) 0116 255 1700 summerteams@uccf.org.uk

IFES Nederland
Faustdreef 183, 3561 LG Utrecht, The Netherlands
tel: (030)2942800 email:
info@ifes.nlDit e-mail adres is beschermd door spambots, u heeft Javascript nodig om dit onderdeel te kunnen bekijken

Bulgarian Christian Student Union (BCSU)

Office: Sofia 1606, Bul. „Hr. Botev” 13, floor. 4, ap.8,

tel. +(359)-2-9531092, email: office@bhss-org.com