Religion Based Violence Around the World - Seeker's Thoughts

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Religion Based Violence Around the World

Violence based on religion has been spreading like a contagious diseases around the world. The past decade has witnessed a radical increase in violence, mass killing around the world. 

The religious range from Islamic extremists waging global jihad and power struggles between Sunni and Shia Muslims in the Middle East to the persecution of Rohingya in Myanmar and outbreaks of violence between Christians and Muslim across Africa. 

According to the Pew research centre, in 2018 more than a quarter of the world’s countries experiences a high incidence of hostilities motivated by religious hatred, mob violence related to religion, terrorism, and harassment of women for violating religious codes.

Increase in religious violence is a global threat to humanity directly and it affects virtually every religious group.

2018 minority rights group report indicates that mass killings and other atrocities are increasing in countries both affected and not affected by war alike.

Bloodshed was recorded in over 50 countries, most reported lethal incidents involving minorities were concentrated in Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, India, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

Hostilities against Muslims and Jews also increased across Europe, as did threats against Hindus in more than 18 countries. Making matters worse, 55 of the world’s 198 countries imposed a heightened restriction on religions, especially Egypt, Russia, India, Indonesia, and turkey.

All religions claim they teach and spread love, peace, and harmony – It’s a BIG lie

But the question is why are religions are always commonly connected with intolerance and violent aggression?

Celebrity atheists such as Richard Dawkins appear to claim the moral high ground when it comes to voice. Dawkins, along with Sam Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens, insist that because religion is intrinsically violent. 

After all, if all the evil in the world can be blamed on religion, then arguably eliminating religion is not only sizeable but a moral obligation for those people who believe in peace.

Scholars like William Cavanaugh content that even when extremists use theological texts to justify their actions, “religious” violence is not religious at all.

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Timothy Sisk claims that both hierarchical religious traditions (such as shi-ism) and non-hierarchical tradition (such as Buddhism) can both be vulnerable to the interpretation of canon to justify or even provide warrants for violent action.

Christians, Buddhist, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, and others have long invoked violence in the name of religion. In some case, as when state and religion are intertwined, mass violence may arise. Unfortunately, the risk of sectarian violence is unlikely to go away: more than 84% of the world’s population identify themselves with a religious group.

“The problem lies not in the multifaceted activity that we call ‘religion’ but in the violence embedded in our human nature and the nature of the state” – Karen Armstron, field of Blood"
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Religious leaders are often criticized for not doing enough to stem religious violence. But not publicly condemning Evert act of extremism, entire faith communities are presumed to be somehow complicit. This is unfair. Indeed, there are millions of people of faith who are actively involved in helping the poor and marginalized and fostering reconciliation in the aftermath of war.

They may be mobilized through their churches, mosques, synagogues and temples, or world through international humanitarian agencies and missions overseas. While regularly accused of fanning the flames of sectarian silence, religious leaders are frequently trying to do the opposite, including mediating peace agreements and promoting non-violence.

Relationship between religion and violence

According to Charles Selegut characterized the phrase “religion and violence” as “jarring” asserting that religion is thought to be opposed to violence and a force for peace and reconciliation.

He acknowledges, however, that the history and scriptures of the world’s religions tell stories of violence and war even as they speak of peace and love.

Three hundred contributing causes of religion valence have been discussed by scholars, however, violence in the name of God is a complex phenomenon and oversimplification further jeopardizes peace because it obscure many of the causal factors.

The complexity of violence, both secular and religious and notes that secular narratives of religious violence tend to be erroneous or exaggerated due to over simplification of religious people. 

Their beliefs, thinking in false dichotomies, and ignoring complex secular causes of supposed “religious violence”. He also notes that when discussing religious violence, one should also not that the overwhelming majority of religious people do not get inspired to engage in violence.

In many instances of political violence, religion tends to play a central role. This is especially true of terrorism, which sees violence committed against unarmed non-combatants in order to inspire fear and achieve some political goal. 

 “Reject those who spread fear and hatred” –

UN chief Antonio Guterres called for an end to the persecution of religious groups on 22 august, on the occasion of the first Ever International Day Commemorating the victim of Acts of violence based on religion and belief.

With the aim to honour victims and survivors of heinous acts who often remain forgotten. The international day comes right after the International day of remembrance and tribute to the victims of terrorism, which was obverse on 21st august.

Pointing out that all major world regions espouse tolerance and peaceful coexistence, the UN chief urged resistance to, and rejection of, those who “falsely and maliciously invoke religion to build misconceptions, fuels division and spread dear and hatred, nothing that there is richness and strength in diversity, which is never a threat.

The secretary-general drew attention to two new initiatives set up to overcome the threat of violence based on religion and belief: a UN strategy and plan of action on hate speech, and a plan of action to safeguard religious sites.

What United Nation General Assembly is doing to protect victims of religious violence?

Following an unprecedented rise of violence religious communities and people belonging to religious minorities, United Nation General Assembly (UNGA) on 28 may 2019, adopted resolution A/RES/73/296 designating 22 august as an international day commemorating the victims of Acts of violence based on religion or belief. UNGA recognised the importance of providing victims of acts of violence based on religion or belief and members of their families with appropriate support and assistance in accordance with applicable law.

By proclaiming an international day commemorating victims of acts of violence based on religion or belief, the UNGA recalled that states have the primary responsibility to promote and protect human rights, including human rights of persons belonging to religious minorities as well as including their right to exercise their religion or belief freely.


In an era of turbulence and uncertainty, interfaith action may offer an important antidote to religious violence. Religious communities can do offer a reminder of the core principles of our common humanity.  While not the exclusive preserve of faith-based groups, the conscious spread of values of empathy, compassion, forgiveness and altruism are needed today more than ever.

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