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International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief (22 August 2022)

On the occasion of the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief, Italy strongly reaffirms its endless and constant commitment at the international level to promote freedom in this field, and firmly condemns all forms of violence and discrimination motivated by religious affiliation or non-affiliation.

With growing concern, we are witnessing an increase in intolerance, discrimination, extremism and violence against individuals and communities in different parts of the world, motivated by religious or belief affiliation or non-affiliation. In the face of this blind violence, which stems from ignorance, fanaticism and the denial of diversity, it is crucial to reaffirm that only through the full respect of each individual’s rights and fundamental freedoms – including the freedom to profess one’s religion, change religion or even not to profess any belief – can we create truly peaceful, resilient and inclusive societies that can promote integration, tolerance and mutual respect.

As proof of Italy’s commitment to such issue, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation recently set up the position of Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion Protection and Interreligious Dialogue to further strengthen and enhance Italy’s many initiatives in favour of freedom of religion or belief at the international level, also by promoting dialogue and collaboration among people and communities of different faiths and beliefs.

Italy has always been aware of the protection of the rights of ethnic and religious minorities and, through its Development Cooperation action, it is committed in many areas of the world to contribute to improving the socioeconomic conditions of people belonging to communities who live in contexts marked by insecurity and instability, to favour the integration processes, especially with initiatives for the populations belonging to Christian minorities and subject of persecutions in crisis areas.

In the year of the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, it is important to emphasize the relevance of this issue, made all the more urgent by armed conflicts and humanitarian crises which have ended up exacerbating the already unstable reality of people belonging to religious or belief minorities.

Today more than ever, it is crucial to strengthen the international community’s commitment and to recall the States’ responsibility in the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including those of people belonging to religious minorities, so that religions can become a vehicle for peace, dialogue and meeting among individuals and peoples, and not an excuse for intolerance, discrimination and violence.