Madrid City Council presents first “Manual for the police management of religious diversity” of Spain with the participation of the Church of Scientology

  • The document was presented on December 17th, by the delegate of the Area of ​​Health, Safety and Emergencies, Javier Barbero; the deputy director of the Pluralism and Coexistence Foundation, Puerto García; and the third deputy mayor and head of the Human Rights Plan of the Madrid City Council, Mauricio Valiente
  • In its elaboration all the religious confessions present in the city of Madrid have participated

MADRID CITY COUNCIL / CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY  – Madrid 17th Dec 2018. Five days after the 11th anniversary of the inclusion of Scientology in the Special Registry of Religious Orgnizations by the Spain Ministry of Justice (12th Dec 2007), the City of Madrid and the Foundation Pluralism and Coexistence present a Manual for the local police to help them increase their knowledge, respect and care to the religious diversity in Madrid.

“Scientologists of Madrid, Spain and Europe at large are happy with such a development pioneer in Spain but probably also in the whole of Europe, in which our church has had the honor to take part in” said Ivan Arjona, President of the European Office of the Church of Scientology for Public Affairs and Human Rights. “Every other European capitals should follow the lead of Madrid and engage with all religions present in their area to help improve the understanding of the differences and common purpose for sustainable development and growth of their cities and wellbeing of their citizens” concluded Arjona.

The manual includes a factual but brief description of Scientology, its history and practices (as well of for the other religions), and also the main religious festivities of everyone, in which they included the birthday celebration of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard (Marc 13th), the founding of the International Association of Scientologists in October, the “Auditor’s Day” (the Scientology ministers), and the anniversary of the release of the first Scientology related book, the bestseller Dianetics (May 9th, 1950).

The Delegate of the Area of ​​Health, Safety and Emergencies, Javier Barbero; the deputy director of the Pluralism and Coexistence Foundation, Puerto García, and the third deputy mayor and head of the Human Rights Plan of the Madrid City Council, Mauricio Valiente, presented last 17th of December 2018 the “Manual of police management of religious diversity”, the first of Spain and in which all the religious denominations present in the city of Madrid have participated.

The document has been prepared by the Diversity Management Unit of the Municipal Police of Madrid with the collaboration of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, the Archbishopric of Madrid, the Federation of Evangelical Religious Entities of Spain, the Jewish Communities Federation of Spain, the Spanish Islamic Commission, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses, Federation of Buddhist Communities of Spain, Orthodox, Baha’i Community, Hindu, Church of Scientology and Sikhs within the framework of a Cooperation Agreement of the Area of ​​Health, Safety and Emergencies of the Madrid City Council and the Foundation Pluralism and Coexistence, under the Ministry of Justice.

Javier Barbero has been very satisfied with this manual because “all the religious denominations present in Madrid have cooperated on this document. This is a way of expressing that we are capable of reaching agreements, and that we are capable of integrating differences in a city that can be plural and inclusive”.

Mauricio Valiente said: “This manual is a first step of a normative that will regulate the freedom of conscience and religious plurality in the city of Madrid in which we are working with a group of entities. We hope to have it approved in January and that includes not only police management but also participation in religious ceremonies and other aspects, to have a framework of rights and thus the City of Madrid takes an important step in a matter in which there is hardly any type of regulation”.

Finally, Puerto Garcia, general deputy director of the Foundation Pluralism and Coexistence (from the Spain Ministry of Justice), has indicated that the Foundation especially value the manual because “it is a pioneer, is an area which the Foundation and the Ministry had not yet developed, we had worked in the field of town-planning, funeral services, etc., but not in this one. Today with it we have a reference manual for other municipal police services and with which we advance a lot because although it is a matter of state competence, people live in cities, and in the end people exercise their rights in cities, including the one of religious freedom.”

Religious richness and diversity

The City of Madrid is characterized by the social diversity that is composed of, and there is a whole heterogeneous group of people who provide religious, social and cultural enrichment, where all of them enjoy the same rights and duties. As a reflection of this Right, in the City of Madrid one finds multiple and diverse religious denominations, which, for their own exercise and development, establish their places of worship.

On the date on which this document is drawn up, the Observatory of Religious Pluralism in Spain indicates that there are 7,131 places of assembly destined for the worship of other religious confessions other than Catholic. The city of Madrid, in particular, houses 504 of these places of worship. If we break down the data by denominations, those with the highest number of places of worship in the municipality of Madrid, except Catholic, are the Evangelical with 366 churches, followed by the Muslim community with 40, Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses with 20 and the Buddhist and Orthodox confessions with 18 and 15 places of worship respectively.

In the day to day of the city of Madrid, and for this reason of coexistence of numerous religious confessions, one could run into acts of intolerance, discrimination or situations of conflict towards or between people who practice different religions.

On the other hand, the celebration of different liturgies and other manifestations of the different worships and rites, are faced with other interests of citizenship, and so conflicts between different fundamental rights may arise, basically complaints about problems of coexistence derived from noise or use of the public space. On many occasions the management of these conflicts corresponds to the Municipal Police, and to better manage the conflict it is necessary to increase the knowledge about the reality of the religious diversity of the city of Madrid.

For this reason, the ‘Manual of police management of religious diversity’ has been drafted, as a consultation document for commanders and police of the Municipal Police of Madrid.

The document consists of a conceptual framework on the religious diversity present in Madrid and also reflects the regulatory framework in which they relate to public authorities. The text also includes various indications on how police action should be in certain situations for which you can request Municipal Police services, such as places of worship, the use of roads and public spaces or school cafeteria services.

Also included in the manual the police finds annexes with additional information on the activity of the places of worship and their symbolisms, main festivities and events with greater public repercussion, list of places of worship in Madrid.

Recognized rights

The Right to Freedom of Religion or Worship is recognized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in its article 18, which states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes the freedom to change one’s religion or belief, as well as the freedom to manifest one’s religion or belief individually and collectively, both in public and private, by teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

It is also included in the Spanish Constitution as a fundamental right, in article 16.1, which guarantees “the right to freedom of ideology, religion and worship for individuals and communities without further limitation, in their manifestations, than what would be necessary for the keeping of public order. protected by law.”