International Religious Freedom Day is observed today, the 27th of October, throughout the world. It behooves us as parliamentarians to promote and protect this fundamental human right which is a core value across all nations and is the birthright of every individual as enshrined in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In a world where the majority of the citizens identify with being religious, religious freedom ought to be something that every single individual enjoys without any fear or prejudice. The freedom to choose your religion, to practice it, share it, change it or live without a religion at all is not something only the government should promote but it is with the efforts of every single individual that the ideal – to live and let live – will be achieved.
Perhaps another important point to make is that freedom of religion or belief is also one of our most powerful tools in the fight against extremism. It is then our collective responsibility to protect religious freedom equally for all and to ensure that those who claim religion as justification for criminal acts do not walk away with impunity.
Honourable Dudley, Kwankwa and I participated as part of an International Panel of Parliamentarians who assembled recently in Germany around the issue of ‘Freedom of Religion and Belief’. Arising from that, we as the IFP, would like to propose that a Parliamentary forum to deal with issues around religious tolerance.
We also call on the international community – governments, civil society, and citizens alike – to speak out against religious persecution, and for the protection of religious freedom and belief.
Hon. Narend Singh, MP
Inkatha Freedom Party
Mr. Narend Singh was born and raised in Umkomaas on the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal. He obtained a post-graduate diploma in Economic Principles through the University of London in 1998 and completed an MSc in Public Policy and Management, at the University of London end of 2013. In 1989 he was elected as a Member of Parliament in the House of Delegates until 1994. Other Parliamentary Portfolios include: Senator; Chief Whip; various portfolio committees; Leader of the House, KZN Legislature.
Provincial Minister Portfolios in KZN Government:
1. Agriculture and Leader of Government Business (1996 to 1997)
2. Agriculture and Housing (1997 to 1999)
3. Agriculture and Environmental Affairs (1999 to 2003)
4. Education and Culture (2003 to 2004)
5. Arts, Culture and Tourism (2004 to 2006)
In 2007 he was sworn in as a Member of Parliament in the National Assembly, Cape Town.
He has served on the Finance Committee, Standing Committee on Public Accounts and Standing Committee on Appropriations in the National Assembly. He has been elected as the Chief Whip of the IFP for the 5th Parliament and currently serves on the Public Enterprises Portfolio Committee and various other Parliamentary Committees. He is a member of the Judicial Services Commission.
He is a member of the National Executive Committee of the Inkatha Freedom Party, the Treasurer General and the Chairperson of the National Campaign Committee of the Party.