“Which religion is protected by the Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB)? ” This question from Fred Nyabera, the Director of Arigatou International – End Child Poverty sparked conversation and reflections on Freedom of religion or Belief and Peace building.
“Freedom of Religion or Belief protects all Religions,” most participants said. Others opined that Freedom of Religion or Belief protects any religion so long as it is being practised within the confines of the law of any given society.
In response to this common misconception Freedom of Religion or Belief protects Religions, Fred explained that it protects the people and not religions.
Fred Nyabera was speaking to more that 30 youths from East and Horn of Africa during the Youth In Action (regional youth forum on peace building) on 20th August, 2019, in Kenya.
In his presentation he pointed out that Freedom of Religion or Belief guarantees us the right to: have, change and practice religion or belief. While emphasizing on the role of this concept on peace building by way of preventing, countering and transforming violent extremism, Fred cautioned that we must always be keen with the way we practice our religion.
“In as much as we have the Freedom of religion or Belief, how we practice it comes with some limitations in order to protect; public order, public health, public moral and public safety,” he emphasized.
He further stated that Freedom of religion or Belief has a close relation to violent extremism and thus, proper practice of the Freedom of religion or Belief can go a long way in preventing, countering and transforming violent extremism, thus promoting peace.
In their reflections, the youth shared examples of how religion has been inappropriately practised leading to disharmony and threat to peace. While appreciating the new found knowledge on Freedom of Religion or Belief, the youth showed enthusiasm to create awareness and use Freedom of Religion or Belief to promote peaceful societies.