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Statement on freedom of religion or belief and SR on counter-terrorism

Mr. President,

The Special Rapporteur has presented us with a very timely and highly relevant report. Over and over again, we witness violence in the name of religion.

Going beyond the acts of atrocities, the Special Rapporteur is helping us to see such acts as a complex phenomenon, from state repression to cynically staged acts staged to fit international media.

Norway would also like to thank the Special Rapporteur for bringing the attention to those speaking up against the abuse of religion for the justification of violence, living under the threat of being accused of betrayal and having penalty for blasphemy inflicted upon them.

President,

Norway would in particular like to thank the Special Rapporteur for bringing our attention to the gender dimension of violence in the name of religion.

President,

Finally, we have two brief questions:

1.            In his recommendation, the Special Rapporteur says that states should repeal anti-blasphemy laws and any other discriminatory law provisions, including those based on religious laws. We agree, however, in deeply conservative, religious societies, such political acts could be highly unpopular and obviously politically challenging. How can governments tackle these challenges?

2.            The Special Rapporteur reminds us that religious communities should feel encouraged to start initiatives of interreligious communication and cooperation. Could we have the Special Rapporteur’s reflections on how to involve the right people, including women and youth, in these dialogues?

Thank you.