3: Competence Building for Freedom of Religion or Belief

The objective of this project is to increase the academic knowledge around the subject of freedom of religion or belief (FORB). The target groups are universities, government actors, religious leaders and NGOs. Using the OC desk book as a resource (see below), this project organises, facilitates and supports courses, seminars and workshops on FORB for academic institutions and NGOs.

"Religion and personal beliefs survive the harshest conditions". Image credit: Guy Tal


Shortly after the foundation of the Oslo Coalition, it became apparent that there was a need for increased competence in the area of the human right to FORB, and a pressing need for written material as a basis for courses and studies.


In particular, the lack was felt of a comprehensive reference work where all the aspects of FORB could be approached under one cover. The result was the creation of the book: Facilitating Freedom of Religion or Belief: A Deskbook (otherwise known as The Oslo Coalition Deskbook). The book spells out how otherwise incompatible religions and life-stances can support FORB from their own doctrines, and why such diverse justifications are important for solidarity across religions and life-stance divides, and has been used as the basis for many courses.

In addition, the Oslo Coalition has cooperated with lawyers’ organisations and networks, universities and NGOs to develop curricula and arrange courses, conferences and seminars. Participants have included academic experts, government representatives, religious leaders and NGO representatives from many countries of the world.

Current Focus:


  • Planning and technical support of the master course Shariah and Human Rights: Background and Core Contemporary Issues in Indonesia at PUSAM (Postgraduate Centre for the Study of Religion and Multiculturalism), University of Muhammadiyah Malang (UMM), June – September.
  • Planning and technical support of the intensive master level course Sharia and Human Rights: Scholarly Background and Cases of Controversy in Contemporary Indonesia at Faculty of Law, Universitas Gadja Mada, Yogyakarta, June − July.
  • Bosnian translation and presentation of selected chapters of Facilitating Freedom of Religion or Belief: A Deskbook (the OC “Deskbook”) in Sarajevo.



Lena Larsen

Working group members:

Tore Lindholm

Brett Scharffs

Cole Durham

Lena Larsen


The International Centre for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University

Norwegian Helsinki Committee 

The University of Muhammadiya, Malang

Universitas Gadha Mada

Center for Advanced Studies in Sarajevo



Membumikan Syariah (Shari'ah Law: An Introduction)
by Mohammad Hashim Kamali

Facilitating Freedom of Religion or Belief: a Deskbook
Edited by Tore Lindholm, W. Cole Durham jr. and Bahia G. Thazib-Lie 2001

Facilitating Freedom of Religion or Belief: a Deskbook, in Russian 2010

Facilitating Freedom of Religion or Belief: a Deskbook in Bahasa Indonesia, 2011


Published Mar. 4, 2013 9:41 AM - Last modified Dec. 30, 2020 10:32 AM