The Role of Religious Leaders in Preventing Incitement that could lead to Atrocity Crimes
Brief summary of presentation of information made
(NB: This section seeks to factually report what was said in the presentation. No inference should be drawn in terms of Salvation Army position or policy from this section).
1. Monitoring and public reporting of incitement that could lead to atrocity crimes Objective: To reach an evidence-based diagnostic on: Who is inciting? When and where? How (medium of communication)? Who is listening? Who is reacting? Why did they react (or not react)? Who are the objects of incitement? What language and terminology is being used? Good diagnosis ensures stronger understanding of the mechanisms of incitement speech that may lead to mass atrocities and thus differentiated and effective response Possible elements to take into consideration: Context; influence of the speaker; nature and extent of the audience; medium used to communicate incitement, etc.
- Develop methodology and mechanisms for monitoring
- Develop mechanisms and platforms to monitor incitement
- Conduct research into the origins of hate speech and incitement
- Listen to “victims” of incitement and integrate their perspectives.
2. Developing, speaking out, circulating “alternative” messages or counter-speech
Objectives: (i) To denounce instances of Incitement against all communities, religions or individuals and express solidarity with victims; (ii) Refrain from uttering or disseminating messages of hatred and incitement; (iii) Provide alternative messages; (iv) Bust myths and refute rumors; (v) Plant seeds of doubt, (vi) Fill the communication space.
Types of alternative messages identified by participants:
- Reactive messages; during, before and after crises; during, before and after elections;
- Public symbolic statements/messages / gestures
- Alternative messages using the media, including social media
- Inter-faith alternative messages
The foundation of our alternative messages should be formulated in the language of faith rather than generic or abstract narrative. We need to recognize the importance of personal courage; acknowledge and support individual or institutional courage.
Conditions for the development and delivery of these messages: -
Recognize the importance of personal courage; acknowledge and support individual or institutional courage
- Ensure the safety and empowerment of the leaders delivering counter-messages
- Provide training to religious leaders on nonviolent actions for those who are ready and willing to confront and stand up against incitement in their own communities. This type of capacity increases their legitimacy and credibility.
- Engaging in dialogue with the speakers and the potential audience
Objectives: Engaging in dialogue with the speakers responsible for incitement and/or the audience tempted to respond to the call for violence that could lead to atrocity crimes.
Engage with and seek support from political leaders
Objectives: Develop and maintain engagement between religious and political leadership, as the role of religious leaders is far more effective when it has political support. Religious leaders have an important role to play alongside the politicians and policy makers in resolving conflicts and reducing tensions
- Advocate for appropriate legal and policy reform (as per the Rabat Plan of Action)
- Ensure participation of state representatives in future meetings related to the role of religious leaders in response to Incitement speech that may lead to mass atrocities. Ensure a gender perspective in all actions proposed and undertaken
- Undertake a mapping of religious leaders around the world who actively fight against incitement to violence that could lead to atrocity crimes; Highlight their work to the media;
- Establish a network of religious leaders and others who work to prevent and counter incitement that may lead to atrocity crimes;
- Develop a code of ethics for religious journalists (religious media) on how to deal with incitement that may lead to atrocity crimes;
- Document the work of youth in inter-faith centers, engage youth with interreligious community projects.
What was of particular significance to share with The Salvation Army globally?
* As an organization we can engage more with communities in helping to stop some of the violence that is taking place in the communities where we are located. Working with other Faith Base Organizations, so that there is a collaboration in the work to be done in communities. Working with Law Enforcement Agencies and even teaching our people in our corps. We as an organization need to speak to the issues of the day, but be sensitive to the fact that we don’t speak from our thinking and always need to run it pass our superiors.
We need to contribute to dialogues that are taking place in our communities and when possible be a part of joint community projects. As a Faith Base Organization we have the opportunity to share the principles of Jesus and not be afraid. The fields are wide for harvest. We need to be a part of solution in our communities. As General William Booth said “Do Something”