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‘Extremist thought cause of rise in religious violence worldwide’

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KUWAIT CITY, Nov 11: In this week’s Arab Times online poll respondents reacted to the rise of religious violence and intolerance around the world today. The majority of the voters attributed this to the influence of fundamentalist and extremist views.

Religious tolerance is under acute threat in many countries today. Almost daily, we read news stories about hatred, and violence perpetrated in the name of religious beliefs. The ISIS is a glaring example of this but religious hostility and discrimination is seen in virtually all corners of the world today.

The 2015 Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, stated that ‘while in some countries violence in the name of religion remains a local or regional phenomenon, acts of terrorism carried out intentionally to send global messages have been increasingly prominent in recent years.’

The report also shares that violence in the name of religion can be in the form of targeted attacks on individuals or communities, communal violence, suicide attacks, terrorism, state repression, discriminative policies or legislation and other types of violent behaviour but it can also be embedded and perpetuated in the status quo in various forms of structural violence justified in the name of religion.

The report highlights that the main problem in a number of countries stems from the State’s failure in combating terrorism or violence of non-State actors, while certain State agencies in other countries support such violence directly or indirectly, for example, by promoting hatred against religious minorities or by turning a blind eye to violence.

43 percent of voters felt that rising intolerance was a result of people getting influenced by fundamentalist and extremist views. “Religion is a very emotional issue for most people. Many find their identity in their faith and religious community. Such strong convictions are sadly manipulated by fundamentalist and extremist groups to serve their agenda.”

Another 37 percent felt that lack of knowledge of other religions was the cause for intolerance. “When people are narrow minded, they are prone to hostility. Understanding religious beliefs other than one’s own is a key element of tolerance”, a reader told the Arab Times.

“We as a society have to focus on common, uniting principles, instead of looking at our differences”, another respondent shared. Among the rest of the voters who participated in the poll, some felt that prejudice against a group is aroused on account of violence perpetuated by some of its members, while other felt that hatred was caused by jealousy.

By Cinatra Fernandes Arab Times Staff

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