We strongly condemn use of religion to justify violence

May 22, 2016

HSS Chief Executive, Gordon MacRae, has spoken out strongly against the use of religion to justify violence following an international meeting of Humanist organisations.

Speaking in support of a motion just passed at the International Humanist and Ethical Union General Assembly in Malta, Gordon MacRae said:

“One of the great successes of the Islamic extremist terrorists has been to create a new normal.

“A normal in which we have become inured to daily reports of beheadings, horrific and barbaric torture, cruelty on an industrial scale, cruelty as a political tool.

“But these horrors are human horrors inflicted on people by people.

“I must commend the Norwegian Humanist Association for this resolution. Not just for the sentiment but also for the call to action that asks all IHEU members to address their national governments in order.”

Humza Yousaf
Humza Yousaf MSP, former Minister for Europe and International Development

Scottish Government Minister for Europe and International Development, Humza Yousaf MSP, issued the following statement in support of the motion.

“The civil war in Syria has created one of the worst humanitarian crises of recent years. The Scottish Government supports international efforts to bring an end to the violence and find a long term solution that provides the people of Syria and the wider Middle East with peace and stability.

“We are doing what we can to help. We are playing an active role in providing a safe refuge for some of the most vulnerable people fleeing the conflict, and supporting organisations that are providing humanitarian assistance. Recently we worked with the UN’s Office of the Special Envoy for Syria to provide training and support for women involved in the Syrian peace process, drawing on Scotland’s experience of inclusive civil engagement and peaceful constitutional change.

“Scotland has a long history of welcoming people of all nationalities, faiths and beliefs, including those seeking refuge and asylum from war and terror elsewhere. Scotland is proud to have received over 700 Syrian refugees under the Syrian Resettlement Programme since October 2015. We are committed to supporting their integration, so that they can begin to rebuild their lives in safety within Scotland’s diverse communities.”

International Delegates at the IHEU General Assembly casting their votes
International Delegates at the IHEU General Assembly casting their votes

The text of the motion reads:

The IHEU General Assembly in Valetta, Malta 2016:

• Condemns the use of religion to justify the violation of human rights and legitimise violence, terrorism and war

• Deplores the atrocious violence, murder, kidnappings, rapes and displacement carried out by the Islamic State and other similar groups

• Emphasises the need to combat all extreme interpretations of religion wherever they emerge

• Rejects the notion that any one terrorist group can legitimize their political actions through religion.


Notes: For further information or comment please contact Gary McLelland on gary@humanism.scot or 07813060713.

The Minister was moved to the Transport and Islands brief shortly before the General Assembly. However, at the time the quote was given he was responsible for Europe and International Development.

Read the resolution in full here: https://www.humanism.scot/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Resolution-1-Article-14-IHEU-Malta-May-2016.pdf

About the event:
HSS is a member of the umbrella organisations, the European Humanist Federation, and the International Humanist and Ethical Union. Each year these organisations hold a General Assembly, and every three years these are held jointly.

This year’s joint General Assembly in held in Malta, hosted by the Malta Humanist Association. Read more here: http://humanistfederation.eu/pages.php?page=ehf-general-assembly-and-conference-2016

About HSS:
Humanist Society Scotland seeks to represent the views of people in Scotland who wish to lead ethical and fulfilling lives guided by reason, empathy and compassion. We provide a range of non-religious ceremonies and campaign for a secular state. HSS has over 14,000 members across Scotland.

Photo: IHEU General Assembly (World Humanist Congress), Oxford 2014. Photo Credit: British Humanist Association.

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