UN expert urges measures to combat harmful forms of religious extremism

UN expert urges measures to combat harmful forms of religious extremism

A United Nations expert has urged the development of agreed principles to respond to the growing trend in religious extremism, according to a report released today at UN Headquarters in New York.

The report of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Abdelfattah Amor, documents an "increase in extremism affecting all religions, whether Islam, Christianity, Judaism or Hinduism."

According to the report, extremism can take the form of "fanatical and obscurantist groups," but there are also "professional extremists" who use religion for political ends. Extremists can also foster discrimination and intolerance relating to women.

Responding to this trend, the Special Rapporteur recommends that "in the face of this ever-growing and all-pervasive menace to peace that breaks up society and poses a particular threat to vulnerable groups (women and minorities), the international community should react firmly, combating it in particular through the elaboration and adoption of a baseline of commonly accepted rules and principles of conduct and behaviour towards religious extremism."

At the same time, the Special Rapporteur reports some progress in securing freedom of religion, including the gradual decline, since the end of the Cold War, in anti-religious policies or policies of total control of religious life in the name of a political ideology. There has also been marked progress in the holding of inter-religious dialogue aimed at conflict prevention and management as well as reconciliation, according to the report.