Religious freedom is a global security issue.


"Religious freedom is a universally recognized and fundamental human right; but it is also a human security issue, and as such it should be a key element of U.S. national security and counterterrorism, conflict prevention and mitigation, democracy promotion, and public diplomacy strategies."


Human Rights First, "How to Promote International Religious Freedom: Blueprint for the Next Administration," December 2012, 

http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/wp-content/uploads/pdf/blueprints2012/HRF_Religious_Freedom_blueprint.pdf

4. Religious freedom promotes greater global peace and security

Hostilities toward religious groups may result when religious freedoms are suppressed.


Religious contention continues to be a reason for hostilities toward religious groups in many countries, and this violence is increasing. 

Pew Research, Religion and Public Life Project, "Religious Hostilities Reach Six Year High" January 14, 2014 http://www.pewforum.org/2014/01/14/religious-hostilities-reach-six-year-high/.


The U.S. Department of State has documented numerous instances of hostilities resulting from restrictions on religious freedoms. 

See U.S. Department of State, Fact Sheet on 2013, International Religious Freedom Report, July 28, 2014, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/religiousfreedom/index.htm#wrapper.

Why is religious freedom generally important?

Religious freedom prevents and protects against violent acts stemming from extremist thought.

"Recent events in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and Syria underscore the urgency of formulating U.S. foreign policy that takes account of the motivations of religious actors, and promotes religious freedom. According to a recent Pew Research Center report, restrictions on religious freedom increased sharply in Arab Spring countries just before the uprisings began. Successful transitions in those countries will be measured by the embrace of religious pluralism and whether religion will be used as a weapon to suppress dissent and the rights of women and religious minorities." 

Human Rights First, "How to Promote International Religious Freedom: Blueprint for the Next Administration," December 2012, http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/wp-content/uploads/pdf/blueprints2012/HRF_Religious_Freedom_blueprint.pdf.


When asked if there is a connection between religious tolerance, freedom, and global security, Suzan Johnson Cook, U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, responded: "Very much so. We have found where there is religious freedom, there is more stability. And where there is the absence of religious freedom, there is more chance for religious extremism, extremist violence. And so there's definitely a connection. So, we try to integrate religious freedom into our foreign policy and into our national security." 

PBS NewsHour, "How Promotion of Religious Freedom Can Help Prevent Extreme Violence," Sept. 30, 2013, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/religion-july-dec13-cook_09-30/.


"Laws prohibiting blasphemy or defamation of religion, which fill a vacuum of authority, are regularly abused, creating instability and empowering violent religious extremists. The concept of blasphemy has long been a destabilizing force, and accusations of blasphemy easily stir popular sensitivities, which extremists with political agendas can exploit to rally violent mobs. The latest international incident of an alleged act of blasphemy being used to justify mob violence was in September 2012 in reaction to the anti-Muslim video The Innocence of Muslims." 

Human Rights First, "How to Promote International Religious Freedom: Blueprint for the Next Administration," December 2012, http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/wp-content/uploads/pdf/blueprints2012/HRF_Religious_Freedom_blueprint.pdf.




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