Last week our junior consultant Isabelle Snijders attended the EU-Bahrain conference ‘Freedom of Religion and Belief’ in Bahrain. Along with delegates from EU countries and global representatives, Isabelle discussed the significance of freedom of religion and belief. She also explored the various themes on this fundamental right and vice versa. We think it is important that our employees are able to pursue other passions besides their work. So when Isabelle asked if she could get a week off to attend this conference, we fully encouraged this opportunity. Now that Isabelle is back, we asked her to share something about her vision and the experiences in Bahrain:
“Mutual respect, inclusion, and the willingness to listen to each other are core values to me. The freedom to believe or not to believe is therefore of great importance to me.
Exploring the Link Between Global Themes and Freedom of Religion
In addition to the importance of religious freedom for the individual, this conference was also about establishing a relationship between global themes, such as climate change and cyberspace and their influence on freedom of religion and vice versa. An interesting approach, shifting the focus from the individual to society as a whole. In this light, I discussed how freedom of religion influences trade and a country’s economic growth with other participants.
Given my work and ambitions, the connection between trade and religion freedom, supported by relevant research, was interesting to me. Among other things, this research finds that social openness, human development, and religious tolerance can accelerate the economic growth of a country. A conclusion that confirms the importance of religious freedom for not only the individual but also for the trade and prosperity of society.
I found it special, in this day and age, when opinions getting tougher, to speak so openly about this polarizing subject in a country with a completely different culture with people of different nationalities, without it influencing the atmosphere. In fact, I experienced the atmosphere during the conference as very inspiring and respectful. Refreshing!
A lot of networking and fascinating conversations later, I am back in the Netherlands to pick up my work at GRC and my study. I am grateful that I had this opportunity and look back on my week in Bahrain with enthusiasm.”