Studying REL 400 International Human Rights and Religion from Religious Freedom Center (RFC) of Newseum Institute not only build my understanding around the subject but also has left a spark in my mind to learn more about religion in particular context of human rights in different settings of society around the globe where religion has been misused to curb the fundamental rights of particular groups of people following a particular religion and/or belief. Being a sociologist and nonprofit sector professional, I was just observing the situations of the rights of religious minorities in Pakistan but with least knowledge-base. I’m feeling lucky now to be the student of REL 400 that it has opened up a number of perceptional as well as understanding windows of my mind to look at situations of religious freedom as fundamental human right for the followers of all beliefs and religions. I also came up with the lesson learnt that if more the government try to control its people’s beliefs and religion, the more will be the persecution and violation of fundamental human rights, leading to conflicts and violence in the society. The oppressive communities will be rebel one day in demand of their rights of equal citizenship, being neglected by the ruling one, and open manifestation of their religion and belief.
This course also built my knowledge and understanding about legal system of international human rights and how that works in the global context, i.e. how states can be influenced to assure the fundamental right of freedom of religion and belief for all inhabitants living there and how peaceful coexistence can be assured. It has also helped me to understand the challenges and limitations associated with international human rights and further possible strategies to cope with them. Religious freedom frameworks are also innovative addition to my knowledge as previously, religious freedom was just simply freedom ‘of’ religion for me. Additional frameworks of freedom from, within, and for has helped me to get more deeper insight of the concept of religious freedom and how these four freedoms are vital under overall umbrella of religious freedom.
The global reality of minority somewhere is majority somewhere else is one of my key learning points to do advocacy for religious freedom where minority communities are religiously oppressed by the majority. Further, I have realized and agree with course content that the struggle for religious freedom is essential for the future of religious communities as if there is persecutions rather than religious freedom, there will be misuse of religion by certain groups for their political gains which will destroy peaceful image of that particular religion.
The course material was really great and helpful to understand topics around the subject with nicely symmetrical assignments on weekly basis. Online learning portal, haikulearning, was also easy to operate and understand for me, and learning strategy of weekly readings, assignments and three memos is a great combination to learn and reflect understandings in words.
Overall, my experience at REL 400 of RFC Newseum Institute remained a great experience and I’m realizing that it will focus my career to work in the same subject in my professional career as well.