WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) announces an open competition for organizations interested in submitting applications for projects that support Religious Freedom in Africa, including North Africa.

“Religious freedom” refers to the right set out in Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, including the freedom to adopt a religion or beliefs, change one’s beliefs, practice and teach one’s beliefs (which may include through publications, public and private speech, and the display of religious attire or symbols), gather in community with others to worship and observe one’s beliefs, and teach your beliefs to one’s children.

It also states that no one shall be subject to coercion that would impair one’s freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of one’s choice. Proposed programming must be responsive to restrictions on religious freedom as defined above, and must be in line with the U.S. Government’s religious freedom, democracy, governance, and human rights goals.

As cultural sites are often important to members of multiple religious and ethnic communities, promoting shared commitment to preservation can foster inter-faith dialogue and rebuild community relations. DRL’s goal is the protection and preservation of cultural heritage, including cultural heritage for members of religious minority communities in conflict zones, and the preservation of cultural heritage sites and sacred objects of communities whose members have dwindled or emigrated.

Through this project, DRL’s objective is to enable members of religious communities, faith-based organizations, and NGOs to engage local and national governments and international organizations on strategies to protect cultural heritage, including buildings and movable and immovable properties. This program cannot fund the repair or maintenance of specific religious properties or artifacts.