Commemorating the victims of violence for religious or religious reasons

In 2019, the United Nations has designated August 22 as the “International Day of Commemoration for Victims of Violence Based on Religion or Belief”.

Intolerance, discrimination and organized violence against religious minorities or the non-religious have a long history. Humanity has always witnessed violence committed by governments or religious groups in the name of religion. Violence that has resulted in discrimination, persecution, torture, arbitrary arrest or detention, enforced disappearance, and the killing of many people based on their religion or beliefs. Religion is sometimes used as an excuse to justify misogyny, homophobia, and racism, which has spread to official policies and laws in many countries. While any distinction, restriction or preference based on religion or opinion that affects the basic rights and freedoms of people of any belief, is religious intolerance and discrimination.

Victims of violence based on beliefs include religious and non-religious minorities, LGBT people, asylum seekers, and children and women who face various types of discrimination and violence. The designation of August 22 as “Commemoration of Victims of Violence Based on Religion or Belief” was approved by the United Nations shortly after deadly attacks on churches in Sri Lanka and mosques in New Zealand in 2019. On this day, the world community pays tribute to the survivors and victims who were threatened, attacked and subjected to violence because of their belief or religion.

In part of the UN resolution naming this day, it is stated: “Religion or belief should never be used to justify discrimination. When victims face religious persecution or discrimination, they are often denied the right to participate in political, economic and cultural life, as well as their rights to education and health. This violence can include the desecration and destruction of cultural sites with historical and religious values, such as places of worship and cemeteries.

Still, in many parts of the world, people’s rights to freely accept and peacefully perform religious rituals are violated, and having a different opinion from the official religion is used for suppression under pretexts such as threatening national security and insulting holy things. Stopping the cycle of violence for religious or belief reasons requires understanding others, fighting hatred and violence, and insisting on having fair laws for all human beings, regardless of their beliefs.

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