The Importance Of The Freedom Of Religion And Belief

19/10/2016 12:34

Freedom of religion and belief can help in the struggle against violent extremism. The connection between these issues may not be immediately obvious, but the spread of violent extremism is one of the biggest challenges we face, and so looking for new ways to tackle it is essential.

Ultimately, to create stable, prosperous societies we must defeat extremism, and we believe that promoting human rights - and freedom of religion or belief in particular - can help us do this.

That is why I am hosting a major, ground-breaking conference at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London this week. It will bring together for the first time two distinct groups of experts: those working on freedom of religion or belief and those engaged in the fight against violent extremism.

We are bringing these two groups together because we firmly believe that they can support each other's work. It is a good example of our belief that human rights should be integrated into our work right across government, just as we integrate our work promoting prosperity and better governance.

Where human rights are weak and human dignity is not afforded to all citizens, societies are denied the opportunity for peace, stability and prosperity. Intolerance is exploited by extremists like Daesh to recruit people to their campaign of hatred and violence, creating a cycle of instability.

If we learn to value everyone equally, and to respect differences in belief or a decision not to believe, then we have the tools to reject the message propagated by extremists. If we give people these tools, they will know that success comes not from rejecting others, from putting them down and discriminating against them, but from respecting them and working with them to build a better society.

That is what this conference is all about - bringing two groups of experts together for the first time to share practical ideas that they can apply in their different fields but to the same ends: building stable, inclusive societies, in which business can flourish, and individuals can prosper.