Tuesday, 09 May 2023 09:33

Ensuring the Right to Religious Freedom

Two conferences for 60 religious leaders, civil society representatives and journalists in the North Central Province and the Uva Province were held in Habarana and Monaragala under NPC’s Plural Action for Conflict Transformation (PACT) project.

Participants included religious leaders who were members of District Inter Religious Committees (DIRCs) as well as those who did not belong to DIRCs. The issue of religious freedom was one of the main topics for discussion. The lack of awareness about the right to religious freedom has resulted in extremist groups stirring up tension by creating misconceptions and spreading hate speech to cause divisions among different religious communities.

One way to prevent this problem from escalating is to initiate dialogue on religious freedom among religious leaders and to promote pluralistic values to create understanding, respect and cooperation among the religious communities in the country.

Other topics discussed included opportunities for ensuring religious freedom and promoting harmony and reconciliation as well as the obstacles that are faced in ensuring religious freedom.

"These kinds of programmes should be continued. Relationships can be improved if there is interaction between religious leaders. Religious harmony should be taught from the school level," said Ven. Habarana Sumedha Thero, who attended the North Central Province conference.

“Conflicts arise due to ethnic or religious tension. As religious leaders, we should intervene in these cases. Young people should be taught to respect all religions,” said Ven. Dehivinne Gunananda Thero, Chairman of the Badulla Sasanaraksaka Bala Mandalaya.