The International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief is held every year on August 22. On this day, the international community honors the survivors and victims of religious-based violence. Despite living in the 21st century, there are parts of the world where people still have no freedom to practice their religious beliefs. From insidious groups to state governments, everyone uses religion to stoke fear of the ‘other.’ People from different faiths are routinely labeled security threats. Religion becomes an excuse to justify misogyny, homophobia, and racism — extending to official policies and laws. Religious stigmatization is often the root cause of discrimination in every sphere of life. Today, the world commits to protecting an individual’s right to freedom of religion. We have too many historical precedents of religious-based violence, and history cannot repeat itself.
History of International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief
The world has never been as polarized as it is today. While the freedom to practice religious belief is a fundamental right, we continue seeing violent acts of intolerance. Attacks on minority communities have increased in number and intensity. The violation of human rights seems disturbingly commonplace, to the extent that most people are now impervious or numb to the horrors.
In 2019, the U.N. General Assembly instituted an International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief. The day reinforces the international community’s commitment to justice for survivors of genocide and other atrocities based on religion or ethnicity. The day seeks to hold people accountable for their crimes.
Protecting religious rights is the duty of the state and every individual. Freedom isn’t an exclusive concept, after all. Until each person can exercise their rights freely – nations cannot call themselves “free.” The day reminds governments of the need to build robust systems for people to seek justice. Rehabilitation for victims of religious violence is crucial to facilitate support and healing.
Of course, systems are meaningless without societal support. From nonprofits and religious leaders to activists — each person must play a role. The power of community can defeat senseless hatred based on religious beliefs.
Today is an act of remembrance and action. The international community remembers people who have died just because they lived different lives. We honor their bravery. We also celebrate those who work tirelessly to advocate for the freedom of individuals to practice their culture and religion.
International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief timeline
China continues its systematic oppression of Tibetans, forcing cultural and religious assimilation.
Gen. Omar Hassan overthrows the democratic government and wages war on non-Muslim communities.
The Narendra Modi-led government inflames Hindu Nationalism and incites anti-Muslim sentiment across India.
Led by Poland, the General Assembly observes the first International Day to Commemorate Victims of Religious-based Violence.
International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief FAQs
What role does religion play in violence?
Religion offers moral codes and teachings that can guide people to better their lives and the lives of others. But there’s ample evidence showing it may achieve the opposite. The belief in religious supremacy can cause deep-seated prejudice against other religions, leading to violence or perceived martyrdom.
What is International Religious Freedom Day?
International Religious Freedom Day is on October 27. A day when the international community upholds every person’s right to practice their religion.
Is religious violence on the rise?
Religious-based violence is as old as human civilization. However, the past decade has seen a sharp increase in religious conflicts and violence around the world.
How to Observe International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief
Talk about the day
Share information about the day with your social circles. The more people you can reach, the better.
Silence can be deafening. By choosing not to address injustice, we automatically become enablers. Speak up, and do it without fear.
Do facts or personal opinions inform your understanding of different communities? Today’s a good day for some introspection.
5 Facts About World Religions That Will Blow Your Mind
Reincarnation in Christianity
Many scholars believe that reincarnation was central to the belief systems of early Christians until the Roman Catholic church decided to remove it.
You can be Hindu and an atheist
Hindus who are atheists can share the religion’s theological beliefs without adhering to its moral codes.
The theory of evolution and Islam
Al-Jahiz, a devout Muslim in the ninth century, wrote about environmental change and its effects on an animal’s survival.
All religions practice some form of meditation
Within every religion lies meditation techniques similar to the spiritual practices of Hinduism and Buddhism.
Science and religion have coexisted
Some of the most brilliant scientific minds in the eastern and western worlds were deeply religious.
Why International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief is Important
It offers solutions to persisting global issues
Acts of violence based on religion don’t exist out there. The challenges exist in our backyards, and it’s up to individuals to recognize and counter them.
It offers hope and support
International days offer global solidarity in times of crisis. People impacted by religious violence can find solace that they are not alone in their struggles.
Power in collective action
Religious discrimination pervades every space we inhabit — from living rooms to boardrooms. Battling the stigma requires enormous will, and each person’s efforts at every level can make a difference.
International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief dates