FOUR Christian charities have come together to launch a five-year project to create interfaith peace-building coalitions, promote freedom of religion and belief, and address religious violence and discrimination.
Tearfund, Faith to Action Network, Search for Common Ground, and the Dutch group Mensen met een Missie (People with a Mission) have established the Joint Initiative for Strategic Religious Action (JISRA). They will work together with faith-based organisations in Iraq, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kenya, Mali, and Uganda to reconcile divided communities.
The peacebuilding lead at Tearfund, Mariam Tadros, said: “Across the world, religion has often been mobilised to incite social division, discrimination, and even violence. But, at the same time, emphasis on the importance of working for peace and justice is an integral part of most religious beliefs and traditions.
“Freedom of religion and belief is a fundamental human right that is coming under increasing pressure in many countries across the globe.”
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom reported last year that there were 29 countries where freedom of religion or belief was under severe pressure, or restricted, or where there was discrimination or violence against religious minorities. It estimated that 57 per cent of the world population lived where religious discrimination or violence were commonplace, and freedom of religion was restricted.
JISRA is funded by the Dutch foreign ministry, and is part of the broader Power of Voices policy framework of the Dutch government, which is described as seeking to strengthen civil society.