2005-09-30

Intolerance: Church/State problems in Norway

Norway's Constitution requires that over half of the government cabinet are members of the state church... -- the 'Norwegian Helsinki Committee' ('NHC') says this provision is a violation of human rights.
'It cannot be so that one has to join a certain religious community in order to be a cabinet minister. 'Not if there is to be true religious freedom,' NHC assistant secretary general Mr.Gunnar M. Karlsen told newspaper 'Dagsavisen'.
Mr.Karlsen believes it is time to revise Norway's Constitution. Lawyer Mr. Njål Høstmælingen at 'The Centre for Human Rights' at 'The University of Oslo' agrees with this interpretation.
'The Constitution's paragraph 12 is in conflict with both "The United Nations" convention on civil and political rights and "The European Council's" human rights convention,' Mr.Høstmælingen said.
The new 'red-green' coalition government of the Labour, Socialist Left and Centre parties is currently hammering out their common policy platform, but are likely to favour such a change. Incoming prime minister Mr.Jens Stoltenberg (Labour) told 'Dagsavisen' that he would await the conclusion of the state-church committee before making a final stance. Mr.Stoltenberg is not a member of the state church, but 'Socialist Left Party' leader Ms.Kristin Halvorsen and 'Centre Party' leader Ms.Åslaug Haga both are. 'Norway criticized for Christian quota', Aftenposten, 2005-09-30

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