By Grace Amarachi Ezeonu, SNDdeN, Intern in SNDatUN Office
There is no better phrase with which to describe the insanity of religious extremists than in the words of holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel, who describes extremism as the “winds of madness.” Indeed the wind of madness is currently blowing across the world which no one is yet able to tame or constrain as it expands its constituency. Religious extremism is fueled by on-going conflict, social breakdown, intolerance, weak government, and other factors. In the past decade, it has led to death and displacement of tens of thousands of people around the world, especially in the Middle East and Africa. It is a new form of violence against women and girls, a common trend shared by extremist organizations like Boko Haram and the so-called Islamic State. Not only are women targets of violence, they are increasingly recruited into various religious extremist groups.
Photo: Kathleen Caulderwood
Though the human rights of women and girls are often violated by religious extremists, women can also act as agents of change and be key participants in the fight against extremism. Women are often an under-represented force within many faith traditions and must be included in efforts to create healthy societies, including movements toward progressive religious expression and gender equality within various cultures.
In the struggle to curb the spread and the destructive effect of religious extremism, governments, religious leaders, community leaders, and various stakeholders within communities must recognize the role and value of women in enriching their communities as empowered participants. The above assertion was echoed by Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, representative of the UN Alliance of Civilization, during a high level thematic debate “On promoting tolerance and reconciliation: fostering peaceful, inclusive societies and countering violent extremism,” held at UN headquarters in New York, April 21-22.
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In a war of ideas, it is people who get killed.
Stanislaw Jerzy Lec
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