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New 5-year peacebuilding initiative to promote freedom of religion or belief in 7 countries

02 May 2021

3rd May 2021 marks the launch of The Joint Initiative for Strategic Religious Action (JISRA), a new collaborative programme that seeks to create interfaith peacebuilding coalitions to promote freedom of religion or belief, address religious violence and discrimination, and reconcile divided communities.

A charity consortium of Mensen met een Missie, Tearfund, Faith to Action Network, and Search for Common Ground will work together with faith based partner organisations in Iraq, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kenya, Mali and Uganda, over the course of the next 5 years.

JISRA echoes the Arabic word Jisr, meaning 'bridge' and symbolises the connection the programme will make between divided communities.

Mariam Tadros, Peacebuilding Lead at Tearfund said:

“Across the world, religion has often been mobilised to incite social division, discrimination, and even violence. But at the same time, emphasis on the importance of working for peace and justice is an integral part of most religious beliefs and traditions. JISRA will convene faith leaders and communities in pursuit of greater freedom of religion or belief where this is restricted or shrinking.

“Freedom of religion or belief is a fundamental human right that is coming under increasing pressure in many countries across the globe. An estimated 84% of the world's population has a religious affiliation, yet about 57%* live in places where religious discrimination or violence are commonplace and freedom of religion is restricted.

“Tearfund works with peacebuilders and faith leaders across different faiths to build relationship and friendship as an antidote to division. Through our work with the JISRA consortium over the next 5 years, we hope to play a part in promoting acceptance and inclusion across faiths, a keystone of lasting peace."

ENDS

For further information or interview requests call Tearfund Media Team on 020 3906 3131 or email media@tearfund.org.  For out of hours media enquiries please call 07929 339813.

Notes to editors:

1. The goals of the JISRA programme are to:

2. JISRA is funded by the Dutch Ministry or Foreign Affairs. The programme is part of the broader Power of Voices subsidy framework of the Dutch government, which aims to strengthen civil society as a powerful factor in a free, democratic, and inclusive society.

3. Tearfund is a Christian relief and development agency and a member of the Disasters’ Emergency Committee. Tearfund has been working around the world for more than 50 years responding to disasters and helping lift communities out of poverty.  For more information about the work of Tearfund, please visit www.tearfund.org.

* According to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) 2020 report there are 29 countries where freedom of religion or belief is under severe pressure. Among those, 14 countries commit continuous and gross violations. Since these include some of the most populous countries in the world, this concerns a total of 3.62 billion people, or almost half of the world population. In the other 15 countries, the violations are severe, but comparatively lighter. If those are included in the count, 57% of the world population lives in a country where freedom of religion is restricted or where there is discrimination or violence against religious minorities.

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