Magazine article Conscience

Human Rights: A Response to Religious Extremism

Magazine article Conscience

Human Rights: A Response to Religious Extremism

Article excerpt

HUMAN RIGHTS are very appropriately named. They give us a rights-based framework that can be used by individuals and policymakers alike. However, they are also complex, complicated and imperfect-the hallmarks of all humans. But while they cannot be perfect, at their heart they deliver one of the most singularly powerful messages there is-that each and every one of us is equal and deserves to be treated with dignity.

As such, I consider human rights to be the strongest tool we have to respond to religious extremism. This is the message we need to raise with decision makers and opinion leaders in Europe: You need to trust in the power of human rights, especially at a time when dogmatic rhetoric in some parts of Europe is attempting to devalue them. W hen national and European politicians are attempting to deal with religious extremism and counter its effects, human rights are the best way to navigate to a successful conclusion.

Why do we say that human rights are a good starting point? Human rights are built on the premise that we all share a common humanity. Using human rights as a starting point is incredibly useful, as it diffuses potential tensions straight away. It sets an instant equilibrium. When everyone's identity is equally respected, it establishes mutual trust. Examining current debates through a human rights lens--those involving religion and its interaction with sexual orientation or gender identity, for example-is also the best way to guard against inequality. Using a framework based on dignity and fairness is the best way to balance concepts that appear to be in conflict with one another.

This is crucial when discussing how various human rights can complement and intersect with one another. If we begin from a personal perspective in which equality and inclusivity are paramount, then we are much more likely to see our similarities, instead of picking up on our differences. …

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