VADUZ, Liechtenstein, April 24, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --
Thousands are dying in conflicts across the globe because of their religious beliefs, writes Lord Alton of Liverpool for World Review. But politicians and some church leaders in the West remain silent about this religious persecution of people of all faiths for fear of causing offence or being accused of religious intolerance.
'Christians, Muslims and secularists have to stand up and be counted to end this oppression' he says. 'The West is sleep-walking into a tragedy with implications beyond the Middle East unless it exposes the ideology behind radical Islamist thinking.'
Article 18 of the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights was fashioned in the aftermath of the annihilation of millions of Jews in Nazi concentration camps in the Second World War (1939-1945), he writes. It states that, 'Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.'
'This right to believe or not is not worth the paper on which it is written for millions of people. Like the United Nations' doctrine of 'a duty to protect' it creates the fiction that something promulgated will be championed and upheld,' he says.
'But where is the duty to protect, or Article 18, in Syria, where Christians, some fleeing persecution in neighbouring Iraq, have been caught in the cross-fire and targeted by radical Islamist groups?'
'No group in Syria seems to control criminal violence which is based on sectarian hatred and no group seems able to deliver peace,' he says. 'Diplomatic failure illustrates how ineffective the West has been with its own allies in the region and with the Syrian opposition.'
But one thing is clear, we will utterly fail to end the persecution and unspeakable violence while we overlook and fail to understand the religious dimension to these terrible atrocities, and the imperative to harness thoughtful and moderate religious leaders from all traditions.
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World Review author Lord Alton was a Member of the House of Commons (MP) in the United Kingdom for 18 years and is now an Independent Crossbench Life Peer.
His publications include "What Kind of Country?", published in 1987 - the first of ten books. He has also authored several reports on human rights in countries such as North Korea, Burma, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Brazil, Sudan/Darfur, Tibet and Rwanda - all of which he has visited. In 2013 Lion will publish "Building Bridges - Is there hope for North Korea?", written with Rob Chidley.
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