The word “religion”, meaning to bind fast, comes from the western Latin word religare. Itis commonly, but not always, associated with traditional majority, minority or new religiousbeliefs in transcendent deity or deities. It is normally fruitless to compare basic human rightswith each other, to find the most important right, or which interference constitutes the most graveattack on the dignity of man. It is however worth pointing out, together with the historical facts,that religion and thought constitute the most inner part of man. A belief in a specific religion willoften include belief in divine god or other divine objects, with power over the life of each person,in this life as well as in the next. The choice of religion is therefore not the same as choicebetween political and other kinds of opinions. It may literally be a choice between ‘heaven andhell’ if we look at the individuals own grounds for adopting and manifesting a specific belief.In human rights disclosure, however, the use of the term usually also includes support forthe religion to non-religious beliefs. In 1993 the Human Rights Committee, an independent bodyof 18 experts selected through a UN process, described religion or belief as “theistic, non-theisticand atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief. The Right tofreedom of thought, conscience and religion is probably the most precious of all human rights,and the imperative need today is to make it a reality for every single individual regardless of thereligion of belief that he professes, regardless of his status, and regardless of his condition in life.Religious human rights occupy a central position in human rights jurisprudence. It is thechronological and conceptual kemel upon which much of what we know today as the idea of human rights has developed
. Truly great religions and beliefs are based upon ethical tenets suchas duty to widen the bounds of good-neighborliness and obligations to meet human need in thebroadcast sense
. Freedom of religion and belief is one of the fundamental human rights. TheEuropean Court of Human rights has stated freedom of religion and belief is one of thefoundations of democratic society
. Historically religious freedom was one of the firstrecognized human rights. Important side of the general idea of human rights lies in the history of protecting religious minorities. It can be said that the right to freedom of thought, conscience and
Danie Brand, “Constitutional Protection of Religious Human Rights in Southern Africa” 14 Emory InternationalLaw Review 699(2000).
Arcot Krishnaswami, Study of Discrimination in the Matter of Religious rights and practices, (U.N.Doc.E/CN.4/Sub.2/200/Rev.1(1960).
Kokkinakis v. Grece (25/5/93), A 260-(A) para 31.