We must act as a global citizenry to prevent extremism impacting not just the human rights of others, but our own. Too many are being killed for wanting religious freedom and exercising free speech. Whether it is a magazine office in Paris, a blogger returning home from a book market in Bangladesh, or Christians beheaded by ISIS, this threat is too close to home to be considered a faraway problem. We must act not just to support others rights, but our own.
Pope Francis is visiting the USA at the moment. Addressing Congress, he mentioned religious freedom and religious extremism:
All of us are quite aware of, and deeply worried by, the disturbing social and political situation of the world today. Our world is increasingly a place of violent conflict, hatred and brutal atrocities, committed even in the name of God and of religion. We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism. This means that we must be especially attentive to every type of fundamentalism, whether religious or of any other kind. A delicate balance is required to combat violence perpetrated in the name of a religion, an ideology or an economic system, while also safeguarding religious freedom, intellectual freedom and individual freedoms. But there is another temptation which we must especially guard against: the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil; or, if you will, the righteous and sinners. The contemporary world, with its open wounds which affect so many of our brothers and sisters, demands that we confront every form of polarization which would divide it into these two camps. We know that in the attempt to be freed of the enemy without, we can be tempted to feed the enemy within. To imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place. That is something which you, as a people, reject.
Our response must instead be one of hope and healing, of peace and justice. We are asked to summon the courage and the intelligence to resolve today’s many geopolitical and economic crises. Even in the developed world, the effects of unjust structures and actions are all too apparent. Our efforts must aim at restoring hope, righting wrongs, maintaining commitments, and thus promoting the well-being of individuals and of peoples. We must move forward together, as one, in a renewed spirit of fraternity and solidarity, cooperating generously for the common good.
The challenges facing us today call for a renewal of that spirit of cooperation, which has accomplished so much good throughout the history of the United States. The complexity, the gravity and the urgency of these challenges demand that we pool our resources and talents, and resolve to support one another, with respect for our differences and our convictions of conscience.
This contrasted with what he said while with President Obama.
I too was surprised he did not mention it with the US President. Obama’s foreign policy on Syria and Iraq failed to contain ISIS, contributing to the problem, while also failing to invest in civic resources that would have supported the Arab Spring when it happened. We have instead seen an Arab Fall, with sectarian bloodshed part of the power struggle between factions in the region, and just beyond. Bloody tyranny is no answer to bloody theocracy.
When our chief ally, Saudi Arabia, is about to crucify someone who as a juvenile protested the government, western nation states seem to be more concerned with keeping the arms flowing one way (never mind who they kill in Yemen) and the oil the other way, than to say: enough. Instead, forget the persecution of Shias, liberals and others. Similarly with the Iranian nuclear deal improving trade relations, who cares if a slice of Iran’s new economic growth might go on terrorism and religious persecution?
Our response has to go beyond what our nation states will do; which is virtually nothing. We need to show support directly for the victims of these regimes, finance NGOs that support them, and champion the civic activists on the ground who are at the front line of combatting extremism and standing for human rights.
Not least because this extremism threatens ours. A global hit list has been published for secular and atheist bloggers, by the group targeting those in Bangladesh. In our globalised world, distance is becoming an irrelevancy not just to digital information but the violence that wishes to disrupt the exchange of ideas in a pluralistic world. We must be vigilant in promoting civil liberties, secularism and human rights here given the onslaught and the panic that would have us become that which we would seek to defend ourselves against.
We must swim against this tidal wave of blood that would drown out free speech and religious freedom. Too many are having to do this alone. We must become part of a global citizen activism that will not sink in the face of a theocratic or tyrannical nightmare but instead plunge headlong in to defeat it.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog