"Okeil": The Eritrean government's violent practices against religious minorities must stop
Abdul-Nasser: Religion has not and will never justify the killings and abuse perpetrated by extremist groups
On the occasion of International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief, Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights presents a study entitled “Freedom of Religion and Belief between Governments’ Strictness and Religious Extremism, with Nigeria, Eritrea and Somalia as Case Studies”, in which it denounces acts of violence, terrorism and continued persecution that targets individuals belonging to religious minorities on the basis of religion and belief, in order to commemorate the victims of these extremist and violent practices.
Maat reviewed the reality of freedom of religion and belief and the practices of violence based on religion in three countries Nigeria, Somalia and Eritrea as case studies, and explained how governments share responsibility for the consequences of these crimes either by being the perpetrator, practicing violence against religious minorities or through their failure to address effectively and tightly against extremist terrorist groups that kill in the name of religion.
Commenting on the study, Ayman Okeil, president of Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights, condemned the reality of freedom of religion and belief in the State of Eritrea, where the government is restricting citizens religious beliefs and freedoms, arresting them while practicing their religious rites and imprisoning them for prolonged periods of up to tens of years on the pretext of not registering places of worship. For his part, Okeil recommended the government of Eritrea to reconsider the laws on religious freedom, and not to use them as an excuse to practice violence against religious minorities.
In the same context, Asmaa Abdul Nasser, a researcher at the African Affairs and Development Unit at Maat, stressed that religion forbids bloodshed for all human beings, and therefore these extremist groups must stop attaching their crimes to religion. She recommended intensifying the efforts of religious scholars in order to confront the extremist ideologies adopted by these groups to prevent their spread among young people.
Notably, Africa is among the issues of concern to Maat for Peace, Development and Human rights, being a member of the General Assembly for the Economic, Social & Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) of the Africa Union (AU). Moreover, Maat serves as an Observer in The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) and as a Northern African Coordinator in the major Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Africa of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA).