Christine Schirrmacher, © Evangelical Theological Faculty, Leuven, Belgium

(Bonn, 06.05.2016) The Islamic studies scholar Christine Schirrmacher, who lectures at the University of Bonn, Germany and the University of Leuven in Belgium in the area of Islamic studies, has been appointed to the Board of Trustees of the German Institute for Human Rights (Deutsches Institut für Menschenrechte, or DIMR) in Berlin as a representative for academic institutions with a connection to human rights. The 18 member board, to which representatives from civil society, academia, the media, and politics belong, establish the content-oriented guidelines for the work conducted by the institute. In accordance to a June 2015 law addressing the legal position and duties of the German Institute for Human Rights, Schirrmacher belongs to a group of 6 individuals appointed by the German Parliament (Bundestag) through its Committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid. In addition to Schirrmacher, the German Parliament appointed the Federal Commissioner for the Records of the State Security Service of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), Roland Jahn, and Prof. Dr. Markus Krajewski (Center for Human Rights Erlangen-Nürnberg, or CHREN) as representatives for academic institutions with a human rights connection. Furthermore, the lawyer Ute Granold, Martin Lessenthin, board spokesman for the International Society for Human Rights (Internationalen Gesellschaft für Menschenrechte (IGfM), and Dr. Anja Nordmann of the National Council of German Women’s Organizations (Deutschen Frauenrat) were appointed as representatives of civil society.

The German Institute for Human Rights is a body of civil society with headquarters in Berlin. As an independent national human rights institution in the sense of the United Nations’ Paris Principles, it is to inform the public of the domestic and international human rights situation as well as contribute to the promotion of and protection of human rights. The Institute implements these goals through political consulting, research, human rights education, and information as well as documentation. A particular concern of the institute is to make international and European mechanisms of human rights protection in Germany better known and more useful.

The Institute is a non-profit organization and politically independent. It is financed out of the federal budget of the Federal Ministry of Justice, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs as well as the German Federal Foreign Office. In order to safeguard the independence of the Institute, the financing ministries have no voting rights on the board of trustees.

The Director of the Institute is the lawyer Professor Dr. Beate Rudolf, who prior to her present post  taught public law, international law, European law, and gender equality law in Düsseldorf and Berlin. In 2010 she succeeded Prof. Dr. Heiner Bielefeldt, who had been Director of the Institute from 2003 until 2009 and became the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

On various occasions, Christine Schirrmacher has been invited as an expert in connection with hearings on human rights questions in the German Parliament and has grappled with human rights questions in research and publications. She has published repeatedly on Islamic human rights declarations, women’s rights, the rights of minorities as well as religions and worldview freedom in countries characterized by Islam. Recently, in 2014, she published the book “The Oppression of Women” and in 2015 her revised postdoctoral thesis “‘Let there be no Compulsion in Religion’ (Sura 2:256): Apostasy from Islam as judged by contemporary Islamic Theologians. Discourses on Apostasy, Religious Freedom, and Human Rights”, also appeared in English.

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