With Democratization Comes More Religious Freedom and Less Terrorism

How would religious freedom decrease transnational terrorism, thereby decreasing the need for counterterrorism coordination? The answer, I believe, lies in a nation’s level of authoritarianism. Put another way, with more democracy will come more open theological debates on sensitive public policy issues and less resort to violence to address grievances. In turn, terrorist groups will find it more difficult to manipulate religious doctrine to persuade recruits their cause is just and sanctioned by God.

A free marketplace of religious ideology will provide the political space needed for religious scholars to openly challenge on the merits Al Qaeda, ISIS, or their progeny’s twisted interpretations of Islam.

Permanent Link: https://www.religiousfreedominstitute.org/cornerstone/2017/7/9/with-democratization-comes-more-religious-freedom-and-less-terrorism

Wanna Defeat Violent Extremism? Then Protect Free Speech

By Kamran Bokhari

The scourge of violent extremism proliferates in an atmosphere of discursive suffocation. Islamist radicals and extremists enjoy a monopoly over religious discourse. We will not really succeed in confronting this menace until we break up this monopoly. The key to doing so involves protecting free speech.

Permanent Link: https://www.religiousfreedominstitute.org/cornerstone/2017/7/3/wanna-defeat-violent-extremism-then-protect-free-speech

A Necessary Step? Examining Religious Freedom and Counterterrorism

By Nilay Saiya

Governments pursue counterterrorism policies that restrict religious rights in the misguided belief that effectively combatting terrorism requires the limiting or suspending of freedoms like religious liberty.

History teaches, and many studies confirm, that religiously restrictive counterterrorism policies which discriminate against entire religious groups work at cross purposes with the desired goal of effectively combatting terrorism.

Permanent Link: https://www.religiousfreedominstitute.org/cornerstone/2017/6/27/a-necessary-step-examining-religious-freedom-and-counterterrorism

What Effect Does Religious Freedom Promotion Have On Counterterrorism?

By Peter Henne

The Global War on Terrorism—a massive US-led struggle to defeat al-Qaeda after the 9/11 attacks—was one of the defining aspect of 21st century international relations. This effort also raised important questions for the study and promotion of religious freedom, namely whether its promotion would strengthen counterterrorism efforts.

Would greater religious freedom in Muslim countries have prevented the rise of al-Qaeda and its supporters, by decreasing grievances in their societies? Or would this have made counterterrorism efforts harder, by decreasing states’ control over “extremist” religious voices? My research on religion and counterterrorism finds that religious freedom can complicate counterterrorism efforts, but its promotion is ultimately preferable to support for repression.

Permanent Link: https://www.religiousfreedominstitute.org/cornerstone/2017/6/26/what-effect-does-religious-freedom-promotion-have-on-counterterrorism

USCIRF’s Annual Report: Rising Tide of Religious Freedom Abuses Abroad

By: Fr. Thomas J. Reese, S.J.

The state of affairs for international religious freedom is worsening in both the depth and breadth of violations. The blatant assaults have become so frightening—attempted genocide, the slaughter of innocents, and wholesale destruction of places of worship—that less egregious abuses go unnoticed or at least unappreciated. Many observers have become numb to violations of the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.

Permanent Link: https://www.religiousfreedominstitute.org/cornerstone/2017/4/26/uscirfs-annual-reportrising-tide-of-religious-freedom-abuses-abroad