TRENDS Research & Advisory, with its partner the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR), of King’s College, London, launched at the House of Lords in the UK Parliament, a major new project examining the religious foundations for political violence.
At the inaugural event, hosted by The Lord Alderdice of Knock, in the House of Lords, TRENDS brought together a range of stakeholders from the government, community groups, the media, researchers, and analysts to examine how to address the issue of religion in the furthering of political violence.
The issue of religion and political violence is a pressing security issue in today’s world and has an impact across the world. The objective of this project is to examine how religion is being used as a primary tool and motivator for political violence. The connections between religion and violence is not new, but in today’s world we are seeing extensive use of religious ideology while at the same time extensive rejection that religion is a major factor in the use of violence.
In the world today we are seeing the narrative controlled by those claiming to speak on behalf of religious groups in society. In this manipulation of the narrative, particular groups are able to politicise religion as a means to challenge understandings of society and governance. This challenge comes about in violent and non-violent activities, but all of which are extremist views beyond what is acceptable in society. Dr, Ahmed Al Hamli, President and Founders of TRENDS, emphasised the need to address the non-violent extremist views, as these are the foundations for a range of disturbances in society, as demonstrated by the Muslim Brotherhood and associated groups.
The first meeting of this project brought to light a range of matters that need to be addressed.
Too often discussions of religion are seen as too sensitive or not an appropriate topic for addressing violence. The participants were clear that it is necessary to address issues of religion, alongside other factors leading to extremism and violence. But, the group made clear that religion, as an issue of both individual and collective identity and belonging, must be discussed to further understand the role it plays, leading to more effective policy responses to address the use of violence. Dr Shiraz Maher, Deputy Director of ICSR said it was a delight “to host this tremendously important event on such a pressing issue of our time.”
TRENDS and ICSR will continue to pursue this project, providing further evidence based research on a key issue impacting societies around the world. The project will continue to include a range of stakeholders, working to empower those that reject the politicisation of religion.