9/11 used as 'excuse' for government repression, claims UN report

The terrorist attacks against the US on 11 September 2001 have been used by many countries as an "excuse for a crackdown on religion", especially in Central Asia, according to a new United Nations report released today.

The interim report to the General Assembly by the Special Rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights on freedom of religion or belief, Abdelfattah Amor, added that the media have sometimes incited hatred of certain religious groups, including Muslims.

Mr Amor stressed that all human rights "are interdependent with democracy and development", and he called for a focus on preventive steps against terrorism by addressing the root causes of extremism rather than the later acts.

"Generally speaking… states have used the pretext of security in response to terrorist threats to limit the exercise of that right," the report said.

"Many States have taken the simplistic view that, since religions are at the root of many terrorist acts, the most direct means of preventing such acts is to limit the exercise of religion, and have focused their genuinely or purportedly counter-terrorist activities on limiting the exercise of civil and political rights, including the right to freedom of religion and belief," it adds.

Noting a new upsurge in administrative regulations on freedom of religion, the report states: "Many States, especially those in Central Asia, have used the compulsory registration of religious groups and the imposition of specific regulations governing them to restrict the exercise of freedom of religion or belief." In some cases the attacks on the United States "have been used to legitimate, or even to strengthen, pre-existing policies for the persecution of religious groups."

The report says violence against members of religious minorities has become increasingly common and in this regard "many States have not met their human rights obligations".

Looking to the future, the report noted that countries had focused on restricting civil and political rights at the expense of economic, social and cultural rights, such as the right to education, which is "essential" for teaching a culture of tolerance and non-discrimination.


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