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Rwandan Genocide​

What?

The “Rwandan Genocide” refers to the 1994 mass slaughter in Rwanda of the ethnic Tutsi and politically moderate Hutu peoples. The killings began in early April of 1994 and continued for approximately one hundred days until the “Hutu Power” movement’s defeat in mid-July. The genocide was carried out primarily by Hutu supremacist militia groups, co-perpetrated by the state government of Rwanda, the Rwandan Army, and Rwandan civilians in compliance with the “Hutu Power” movement. By its conclusion, at least 500,000 ethnic Tutsis were murdered, along with thousands of Tutsi sympathizers, moderate Hutus, and other victims of atrocity. Some estimates claim anywhere between 800,000- 1,000,000 killed, with another 2 million refugees (mostly Hutus fearing the retribution of the newly-empowered Tutsi rebel government) packed in disease-ridden refugee camps of neighboring Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and former Zaire.

Where?

Rwanda is a very small country (about the size of Maryland), located near the center of Africa, a few degrees south of the Equator. It is separated from the Democratic Republic of Congo (former Zaire) by Lake Kivu and the Ruzizi River valley to the west; it is bounded on the north by Uganda, to the east by Tanzania, and to the south by Burundi. The capital, Kigali, is located in the center of the country. According to the 1991 national census, the total population of Rwanda was 7.7 million, with 90 percent of the population in the Hutu ethnic group, 9 percent Tutsi, and 1 percent Twa. The Rwandan Genocide itself began with mass killings in Kigali, but over the course of its 100-day duration, killing spread to all corners of the country.

When?

The Rwandan genocide took place over a time span of only 100 days, between April and July, 1994.

Who?

Victims

Hutu nationalist group Parmehutu led a social revolution which overthrew the Tutsi ruling class, resulting in the death of around 20,000 Tutsis and the exile of another 200,000 to neighboring countries. Rwandan independence from Belgium would follow in 1961, marking the establishment of a Hutu-led Rwandan government. The Tutsis remaining in Rwanda, mostly due to intermarriage or other family ties, would be discriminated against as racially “lesser” citizens by the new Hutu government. The RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front) was formed in 1985 as a political group of Tutsi nationalist exiles who demanded the right to return to their homeland as citizens and an end to social discrimination against the Tutsi in Rwanda. The RPF rebels invaded Rwanda from neighboring Uganda in October of 1990, re-igniting Tutsi hatred throughout Rwanda. It was this act of Tutsi aggression, coupled with decades of discrimination and fear for a loss of power, that paved the way to genocide. Killed alongside the Tutsi people were those native Rwandan Hutu, who sympathized with their Tutsi neighbors and resisted by defending, hiding, or providing aid to their Tutsi neighbors. Moderate Hutus, many of whom refused to take action against their Tutsi neighbors, were also victimized in the genocide.

Perpetrators

Most of the killing was carried out by two Hutu radical militant groups: the Interahamwe and the Impuzamugambi. Armed, backed, and led by the government of Rwanda (MRND), the Interahamwe are remembered today as the driving force of the genocide, comprised mostly of young Hutu men, brainwashed by the “Hutu Power” ideology. Springing from a separate political entity, the CDR, the Impuzamugambi was made up of members of the CDR’s youth wing. These forces were fewer in number than those of the Interahamwe. The “more-extreme” anti-Tutsi agenda of the CDR reflected on the Impuzamugambi; their killings were often regarded as less organized, and more vicious. The genocide was obviously supported by the Hutu-led government (MRND) and members of the Rwandan army: they armed and directed militias, dispatched killing orders, and even participated in the rounding up of victims themselves. The most unsettling co-perpetrators of the genocide, however, were those Rwandan civilians who collaborated with and supported the genocide. Many Tutsis and moderate Hutus were handed over and/or killed by their own neighbors, also bent on anti-Tutsi sentiment.

How?

Unlike other genocides of the 20th century, the Rwandan genocide unfolded before the eyes of the national media. Journalists, radio broadcasters, and TV news reporters covered the events live from Rwanda, until the violence escalated to fanatical levels and all foreigners were encouraged to evacuate. In short, the world knew of the genocide from its first day up until its conclusion. Mark Doyle, a reporter for the BBC in Kigali, tried to explain the situation to the world in late April 1994 as follows,

“…you have to understand that there are two wars going on here. There’s a shooting war and a genocide war. The two are connected, but also distinct. In the shooting war, there are two conventional armies at each other, and in the genocide war, one of those armies, the government side with help from civilians, is involved in mass killings.”

UNAMIR, the UN peacekeeping force in Rwanda, was present on the ground throughout the course of the genocide. With disregard to the violence portrayed in the national media, France, Belgium, and the United States declined to send additional support, despite UNAMIR’s specific warnings to the UN Security Council in early 1994, describing the Hutu militia’s plan for extermination. The Security Council denied UNAMIR’s request to intervene, and in early April, the Belgian contingency of UNAMIR’s force were pulled out, due to the murder of ten Belgian soldiers. Almost overnight, 4500 UNAMIR peacekeepers on the ground were reduced to a mere 260. Not until mid-May (approx. 500,000 Rwandans had already been killed) did the UN recognize that “acts of genocide may have been committed,” at which point the UN pledged to send in 5,500 troops and 50 armored personal carriers. This force, however, was further delayed due to continuing arguments between the UN and the U.S. army over the cost of the Armored Personnel Carriers. The genocide would be ended by the RPF overthrow of the Hutu Regime in July; the UN intervention never occurred. The state support for the genocide in Rwanda was no doubt one of its primary engines. The Hutu-led government provided arms, planning, and leadership for the militias. It also funded the RTLM “Hutu Power” radio broadcast, the primary source of “brainwashing” for the Rwandan civilians who also took part in the genocide.

Response?

Immediately following the RPF takeover, around 2 million Hutus (perpetrators, bystanders, and resistors to the genocide) fled into the neighboring countries to avoid potential Tutsi retribution. Thousands died of epidemics, which spread like wildfire through to overcrowded refugee camps. The refugee presence in Zaire, among other factors, led to the first Congo War in 1996 and the formation of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Due to worsening conditions in the DRC and Tanzania, more than a million Rwandan refugees would return home by 1997. Back in Rwanda, the fully regenerated “UNAMIR 2” assumed control until March 8th, 1996. They faced the enormous task of cleaning up a war-torn country side, and dealing with the bodies of more than 1 million victims of genocide and war. The “machete” would become a symbol, synonymous to the Rwandan genocide for its widespread use by untrained civilians, to hack their neighbors to death. With the return of the refugees, the long-awaited genocide trials could proceed. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, located in Arusha, Tanzania, began proceedings in 1996. As of Spring 2012,  the Tribunal has completed 35 trials and convicted 29 persons guilty of war crimes, acts of genocide, rape, and the creation of “hate media.” Eight trials are currently in progress, one accused criminal awaits trials in detention, and another 10 criminals remain at large, mostly presumed dead.

 

Supplementary Essays

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda

*This paper was written by Ina Ziegler, a University of Minnesota Alumna

On November 2, 2007, I had the honor of visiting the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania. I attended with twenty-seven other university students as part of the International Honors Program, a study-abroad program focusing on issues of globalization. At the tribunal, we received an initial briefing about its purpose. It was created November 8, 1994, by the United Nations, to prosecute those responsible for orchestrating the murder of more than 800,000 Rwandans during that same year. The first trial began in January 1997; since then, twenty-seven judgments have been made, involving thirty-three accused persons. Twenty-eight were convicted, and five acquitted. Twenty-seven accused persons are being tried now, and eighteen indicted remain at large. This brings the total to seventy-eight indictments.

We were able to sit in on the trial of a man named Bikindi. Mr. Bikindi is a musician and performer, and he is accused of creating songs and dances that encourage people to kill Tutsis and commit other acts of violence. It’s a fascinating case and the decision will set a strong precedent for the future; it brings in issues of free speech, artistic license, and responsibility and accountability for artistic creation. It is also a reminder of the enormous power that music, dance, and other art forms have, and how that power can be exploited and used in dangerous and deadly ways.

During the portion of the trial we attended, Mr. Bikindi was being asked by the prosecutor about his ties to the government, and about a particular photograph which showed members of his dance troupe wearing uniforms of the interahamwe, the Hutu militia. A long discussion ensued, in which Mr. Bikindi argued at length about the meaning of the words uniform and costume, and whether the photograph therefore revealed that his dancers were part of the militia or simply acting, providing entertainment.

It was at that point that the reality of the situation overwhelmed me. I was sitting behind a soundproof glass window, looking at ten or twelve judges and court officials surrounding this one man, Mr. Bikindi, seated at the witness stand in the center. I was listening to an inane conversation about costumes versus uniforms, translated carefully and rapidly into my headset. Fifteen minutes later, I left the room and had pastries and coffee in the cafeteria. Is this justice? Is it really? Nearly a million people are dead. Will the conviction or acquittal of this one man, who has the confidence to sit in this place and quibble over semantics, really matter? The justice of this court can only be, at best, symbolic. And it is not that the symbols do not matter; they do, tremendously. Of course it matters that this trial is taking place; of course it matters that the rules of law, which are all we have, are being followed. Of course we have a desperate need for symbolic meaning, and this court offers that to the world, to humanity, in the best way that it can. If it is this or nothing, semantics or silence, I choose semantics. But it is not enough. It can never be enough. The only justice that would be enough is too great for me to fathom. It would indict all of us, every human being on this planet. Every person who has participated in or benefited from colonialism, which in many ways created this whole mess. Every person who killed another. Every person who supplied arms to combatants. Every person who remained silent when the genocide was happening. Every person who remains silent now, when it is still going on. The scale of guilt, of sin, is too great. No human justice can ever be great enough to encompass it. The blood of our brothers and sisters is crying out, to whatever God can hear, from the ground where our apathy, our greed, our silence, has spilled it, not just in Rwanda but in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guatemala, El Salvador, Vietnam, Laos, Bosnia, Germany, Poland, the United States—everywhere. No justice will ever be enough. I am left to wonder what, then, could possibly be great enough. We are here, and we have to survive somehow, with this burden. What can we do? I come to mercy—forgiveness—love. I don’t know if I have the right to use these words; my family has not been killed, or deported, or imprisoned. Would I still use these words if they had? I don’t know. All I know is that for now they are the only words I have. What else is there? I’m open to suggestions. Perhaps we can think about the words of Mr. Adama Dieng, the registrar of the tribunal. He shared with us a proverb from Senegal, his home: “A human being is a remedy for humanity.” The only remedy we have for the ills of this world is to be human, to feel and to love and to live. It is the only hope I have for the future. I hope that we can strive to reach the power behind the words of mercy, and love, and forgiveness; to find out what it means and to live it. We can strive to hear the voices that are crying out. We can strive to change those things that hurt us, that take away our humanity. What else is there? I see no other way to live.

 

Observations from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda

*This paper was written by Whitney Hough, a University of Minnesota Alumnus

In 2008, I had the honor of visiting the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. I attended as part of a study abroad program that focused on Peace and Conflict Studies in the Lake Victoria Basin. Throughout the program, we visited refugee camps, met with organizations working toward reconciliation, and lived with families who had been affected by conflict. My host family in Rwanda fled to Southern Uganda during the genocide. My host family in Uganda lived in an IDP camp for seventeen years where their youngest son, my host brother, was kidnapped. He was forced into child soldiery for four years before escaping.  These interactions taught me firsthand that there is no one more forgotten or neglected than an innocent civilian who is caught in the throes of violence. Sadly, often enough it seems that the same disregard applies when it comes to justice.

While at the courts, we spoke with Mr. Charles Phillips, the Senior Trial Attorney from the Office of the Prosecutor. Mr. Phillips tried several landmark cases during his time at ICTR, including a case involving Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, the first woman to ever be tried for crimes against humanity and the first woman to ever be charged with using rape as a crime of genocide. While she did not actually commit the rapes, she abused her power as Minister of Family and Women’s affairs to incite the militia to rape thousands of women.

Hearing about the ICTR from a judge who had been involved from the beginning shed light onto the extreme importance of an international code of justice. The courts were an important step in establishing accountability and an international standard of acceptable behavior. They took strides to define rape as a tool of genocide, held key players responsible for organizing crimes during the genocide, and began the long process of overcoming an international indifference to genocide. However, Mr. Phillips also brought attention to the many intricate steps involved in actually determining superior responsibility, and in finding and keeping the witnesses necessary to prove someone guilty. These challenges are just a few examples in the string of difficulties that face the ICTR.

While sitting in on cases was fascinating, it was interacting with people outside of the ICTR that really provoked questions of what justice means in the context of genocide. Three big questions stood out at the time.

First, who actually benefits from the form of justice given by ICTR? Who does that justice serve?

In the case that I sat in on, the room for observers was completely full of people – and every single one of them was white. When talking about this later, my host father said that in Rwanda, people do not feel connected to the courts or know the outcomes of them because Arusha is too far away for Rwandese to travel to, and translated transcripts are not sent back or distributed. He questioned whether the international community might be benefiting more from Rwanda’s courts than he was as a Rwandese citizen.

With most of the people viewing the cases not part of the actual genocide, whose justice was it really? I wondered about my host family, and the kids I had met at refugee camps in Uganda. Does locking perpetrators up behind bars in these faraway cases actually mean anything to them? Does it give them closure or any sort of benefit? Maybe in the long term – with the conflicts in Eastern and Central Africa becoming increasingly interconnected, arresting the ringleaders of one genocide might very well help to prevent the next. Arresting Joseph Kony in Uganda will ultimately benefit people in Congo and Sudan as well. But what about the short term? What about an apology or assistance for the boy I met in an orphanage whose parents were killed in front of his eyes at the age of 4? He has lived his life as an orphan since then. What about the young woman who was raped, infected with HIV, and is now an outcast from society because the rape was perceived as her fault? They are the ones whose lives were destroyed, not the international community. The kids in orphanages and refugee camps will most likely never physically see the men who organized so many crimes against them. Will they be able to come to terms with being orphans simply because the men who organized the massacre killing their parents are in jail? What justice is served for every child who lost a parent, every family who lost years of life and education in a refugee camp, and every generation of lost children? Or can any system ever create adequate individual justice for what was lost? The Gacaca courts were an important step, but people still slip through the cracks. My host sister was scoffed at when she tried to present her case of being raped because a.)it was her word against a man’s, and b.) she was fourteen years old at the time and was accused of making the story up.

So first, who benefits from the justice?

The second question that came up was who should be held accountable or tried for the crimes committed, and who gets to decide that?

My dad was a criminal military judge for 28 years. Growing up I always saw his work as clear-cut. There were the good guys and the bad guys. The bad guys were always guilty. Sentencing them to years in jail was the clear solution. Those who were victims were therefore innocent, and could then live in peace when the perpetrators were imprisoned. But what happens once the distinction between victim and perpetrator is blurred, and the line between innocent and guilty is not so straight?

Before entering Rwanda, we visited a refugee camp in Uganda comprised of 95% Hutu refugees. The men and women in this camp dictated a completely different story of what had occurred during the genocide than that told by Tutsis. They also gave us a glimpse into the discrimination that currently faces Hutus today. In their stories they focused much more on the long history leading up to the 1994 genocide – on the widespread massacre of Hutus in Burundi – on the RPF invasion of Rwanda in 1990. According to the refugees, the violence was far from one-sided. One man showed us scars all over his head from an axe that a Tutsi official had cut him with. Another claimed that some of the piles of bones that were discovered and are now being memorialized were actually bones from mass killings of Hutus. They also said that today Hutus have no freedom of speech in schools or workplaces, that the term “survivor of genocide” brings only Tutsis to the minds of most people, and that every April for genocide remembrance month, only Tutsis are remembered.  Moderate Hutus are given no place in the story. It is possible that this is all denial, and that the perpetrators are making excuses for their actions. It is also possible, however, that the division between victim and perpetrator is not as clear cut as we thought.

But if and when there is uncertainty in the distinction between perpetrator and victim, who has the right to decide which side attains justice and which side is tried? Is it simply because one side is currently in power? At the time I visited, not one Tutsi had been tried at the ICTR. Hutus were not allowed to make accusations at local Gacaca courts, and memorials failed to remember the moderate Hutus who had been killed.

Continuing along this vein, when the definition of perpetrator is blurred, at what point do we reach even further out to cast responsibility for the crimes committed? Should we hold colonists responsible for converting the terms Hutu and Tutsi from an economic differentiator into an ethnic divide? Tutsi was originally used to describe someone who owned 10 cows or more, and people moved easily between being Hutu and Tutsi based on their economic situation. Or should we blame the US media who played the O.J. Simpson trial over and over again on the news instead of sharing coverage with the genocide in Rwanda? What happens to the justice system when everyone has contributed to the genocide in some way? A close colleague of mine wrote an essay about justice after her time at ICTR. She wrote, “The only justice that would be enough is too great for me to fathom. It would indict all of us, every human being on this planet. Every person who has participated in or benefitted from colonialism. Every person who killed another. Every person who supplied arms to combatants. Every person who remained silent when the genocide was happening. Every person who remains silent now. The scale of guilt is too great. No human justice can ever be great enough to encompass it.”

The ICTR was not promised as the end-all answer to justice for everyone and every situation. But with so many uncertainties involved in international justice, the final question that came to mind from my time spent at ICTR was how can we proceed with justice when we do not know the whole truth?

After the abroad program I found myself not wanting to fully believe in anything I heard or experienced. There were so many sides to everything that it was overwhelming. It made me question whether anybody can ever believe in something concretely enough to devote his or her entire life to it and not have it be a lie. I even began doubting my own doubts, thinking that by even questioning the genocide’s story, and trying to study it intellectually, I was somehow taking away from the stories that people told. And that by trying to find facts rather than just absorbing the emotion of the genocide I was taking away people’s right to their own truths.

It is really difficult to see something you know needs to be resolved and want to help out so badly but feel like there is no solution. Such a feeling of uncertainty has almost driven me away many times. I remember thinking how easy it would be to pursue a lifestyle that ignores all of this inequity. I have a privilege to do that – but how could I live with that when I know that not everyone is in a situation to do that, and that because of our interconnectedness I would somehow be benefiting from others’ pain. Many people choose to take this life of privilege without looking back. It is so easy to do, and this is where greed comes in, this is where genocide and violence happens – in forgetting the other, in thinking only of oneself, of one’s own survival. But what would the world be like without the other? Don’t we all shape each other? Aren’t we all apart of each other? As my host brother said, “It seems key to always think about the other as your own…if you think about him and he thinks about you, then you have 2 people looking out for yourself rather than only 1, and soon the whole world is looking after each other.”

To me, justice is denying the option of turning the other way, acknowledging our own personal involvement in every situation, and working to end the negative ramifications of our individual actions. Above all, the experiences at ICTR and in Rwanda emphasized that we should always strive to question what is before us and to embrace those who are around us.

Did You Know?

Sierra Leone is a beacon of religious tolerance in West Africa. With a Christian president elected by a roughly 70% Muslim nation, both groups pray alongside each other with conversions and intermarriage commonplace. Some Sierra Leonian citizens even practice both religions; known as ChrisMus, they attend regular prayers at the mosque while faithfully attending church on Sundays.
In the late 19th century, thousands of South Asian migrants flocked to East Africa to construct a railway network throughout the British Protectorate of Uganda. Over the following century, many of these laborers and their descendants secured lucrative positions in the growing domestic economy. However, the rise to power of President Idi Amin in 1971 brought trouble. Playing on the nationalistic feelings of native Ugandans, he denounced the entire South Asian community as “bloodsuckers” and decreed their immediate expulsion under threat of imprisonment. The United Kingdom attempted to intercede with Amin, but eventually accepted almost 27,000 refugees, decimating the Indian and Pakistani community in Uganda.
With more than 200 different ethnic groups, the landlocked East African nation of Chad is one of the world's most diverse. Although Arabic and French – legacies of Islamic conquest and European colonialism – are the two official languages, over a hundred languages are spoken within the country's borders. Islam, Christianity and various forms of animism and tribal ritual are widely practiced, and Christian holidays like Christmas, All Saints Day and Easter are public holidays alongside Islamic ones such as Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.
In Canada, freedom of religion is strongly protected at the national, provincial, and local levels. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, part of the country's constitution, forbids discrimination by the state on religious grounds and guarantees the fundamental right of freedom of conscience and religion. The various provincial human rights codes go further and require employers, service providers and other private individuals to provide reasonable accommodation to all, regardless of religious belief.
Although branded as the transcript of a Jewish plot masterminding world domination, a large portion of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is copied directly from a political satire by French writer Maurice Joly. Joly’s protagonist warns, “Like the God Vishnu, my press will have a hundred arms and these arms will give their hands to all the different shades of opinion throughout the country." The Protocols attribute an almost identical statement to a “sinister” Jew. This plagiarism is just one of the many holes in the Protocols' so-called indictment of world Jewry.
In an attempt to forcibly transform the Soviet Union into a socialist paradise, the Communist Party declared the elimination of religion to be an ideological imperative. Even though the Orthodox Church was deeply interwoven in pre-revolutionary Russian society, the state forbade public expressions of faith, demolished hundreds of places of worship, and executed hundreds of priests. However, the Orthodox faith remained rooted in Russia - as communism collapsed in the late 1980s and early 90s, millions rushed to be baptized and thousands were ordained as priests. Despite attempts to eliminate religion, today the majority of Russians identify themselves as Orthodox Christian.
The heady days of the Arab Spring brought glimpses of what a more tolerant Middle East could look like. As pro-government soldiers threatened to disperse protesters in Tahrir Square in early 2011, Christians formed a ring around worshipping Muslim activists. Those Muslims later returned the favor by gathering protectively around praying Christians. Although religious tensions in Egypt have consistently run high in its modern history and Coptic Christians face persecution, those civic gestures in Tahrir Square showed that another Egypt is possible.
Afghanistan was once rich with pre-Islamic artifacts, but the Taliban and other marauding groups have destroyed many of these beautiful relics in the brutal struggles that have gripped the country. However, some concerned Afghans have acted to preserve the country's heritage. As the Soviet Army withdrew in 1988-89 and the country collapsed into bitter civil war, National Museum of Afghanistan curator Omara Khan Massoudi worked to save some artifacts from pillagers. Burying ancient Bactrian gold and ivory sculptures under the Presidential Palace and the streets of Kabul in 1989, he finally retrieved many the priceless artifacts unscathed 14 years later and presented them to then Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
The United States of America has a formal policy commitment to protect religious freedom globally. In 1998, Congress passed the International Religious Freedom Act, establishing the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). The Commission monitors the status of religious freedoms throughout the world and makes policy recommendations to the US government, including on the designation of serious repeat violators as "Countries of Particular Concern" (CPCs).
The shooting down of Rwandan President Habyarimana’s plane over Kigali in April 1994 provided a spark that set already high ethnic tensions alight. Across the country, Hutu extremists murdered their Tutsi neighbors in the hundreds of thousands – often with machetes – in what is known as the Rwandan genocide. There were, however, small acts of humanity in the midst of mass killings. Hutu hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina took in everyone he could, turning his hotel into a refuge from the violence. He ultimately managed to save the lives of over 1,200 people, including his Tutsi wife and children, through the ingenious bartering of luxury items in the hotel and the influence of his international contacts - a story later captured in the movie “Hotel Rwanda.”
In the spring of 1994, Hutu militants murdered up to one million Rwandans, mostly from the Tutsi ethnic group. However, the sharp ethnic distinction drawn between Tutsis and the majority Hutus is a recent phenomenon; originally, the term “Tutsi” denoted a person rich in cattle, while a "Hutu" was a grower of crops. It wasn’t until the advent of Belgian colonial rule that Rwandans were forced to carry identity cards denoting their ethnicity. That measure, along with the ban on Hutus seeking higher education and other discrimination sowed the seeds of genocide.
In 1935, the infamous “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” were branded a forgery by a Swiss court. “I hope that one day there will come a time,” the judge concluded, “when no one will any longer comprehend how in the year 1935 almost a dozen fully sensible and reasonable men could for fourteen days torment their brains before a court of Berne over the authenticity or lack of authenticity of these so-called Protocols…that for all the harm they have already caused and may yet cause, are nothing but ridiculous nonsense.” Sadly, the Protocols are still in circulation today, and are held up as "proof" for anti-Semitic theories.
Across the United States there are over five hundred distinct tribes of Native Americans speaking more than two hundred indigenous languages, and very few of them have a word for "religion." Despite having a myriad of spiritual beliefs and rituals, Native American tribes view the issue to be intermingled with every aspect of community and family life. “We don't have a religion”, some Native Americans insist, “we have a way of life.”
In January 1959, Mildred and Richard Loving were sentenced to a one year suspended jail for the crime of interracial marriage under the Virginia State Racial Integrity Act (1924). The judge for the case, Leon M. Bazile, wrote in his opinion that “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents... The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.” Although it seemed that bigotry had won, the U.S. Supreme Court later ruled the Act unconstitutional in the landmark case Loving v. Virginia. The decision also struck down similar legislation in 15 other states.
Although Hindi is India’s most widely spoken language, over 780 languages exist throughout the subcontinent. However, 220 have disappeared over the last 50 years, as their last speakers pass away and young children do not learn them. With English and Hindi often associated with education and development, incentives to preserve less-common languages are low, and their worlds and cultures are vanishing. In reaction to this trend, a movement to preserve the country's linguistic heritage has emerged throughout India, with activists using online talking dictionaries, YouTube videos and social media to save these languages from extinction.
Despite his sharp criticism of organized religion, Voltaire, one of the Enlightenment's greatest thinkers, resolutely defended religious tolerance. The most famous example of this defense was sparked by a tragedy. In October 1761, Marc-Antoine Calas, a young man from a Protestant family living in Catholic France, was found dead in his father’s shop in Toulouse, most likely by suicide. Public opinion quickly settled on his father, Jean, as the prime suspect – it was supposed that he had killed Marc-Antoine to prevent him from converting to Catholicism. Jean was repeatedly and inhumanely tortured and eventually executed. Outraged by the blatant injustice of the case, Voltaire succeeded in securing Jean a posthumous pardon, and went on to write his famous treatise on religious tolerance.
Before the first British colonists arrived in Botany Bay in 1788, there were well over 350 different Australian Aboriginal groups, speaking a myriad of indigenous languages and with a wide range of cultural traditions. Diseases imported from Europe decimated native populations. Those that survived were legally marginalized throughout much of Australian history, with the 1901 Australian Constitution denying them Commonwealth citizenship rights. It was not until 1962 that legal reform granted the dwindling number of Aboriginal Australians voting rights.
Although branded as the transcript of a Jewish plot masterminding world domination, a large portion of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is copied directly from a political satire by French writer Maurice Joly. Joly’s protagonist warns, “Like the God Vishnu, my press will have a hundred arms and these arms will give their hands to all the different shades of opinion throughout the country," and the Protocols attribute an almost identical statement to a “sinister” Jew. This plagiarism is just one of the many holes in the Protocols' so-called indictment of world Jewry.
In March 2012, Tel-Aviv based graphic designer Ronny Edry uploaded an unconventional Facebook photo. The picture showed a smiling Edry holding his young daughter, with the caption “Iranians, we will never bomb your country. We love you.” The photo struck a chord on Israeli and Iranian social media, and thousands of citizens in both countries quickly followed Edry's example. One Iranian Facebook user posted a picture in response that proclaimed: “Dear Israeli Friends and World! Iranians love peace and we hate hate! And we don't need any Nuclear Power to show it!”
In the early 20th century, the Ku Klux Klan was responsible for the deaths of thousands of African-Americans, and symbols of the Klan – like the burning cross – inspired terror nationwide. But in 1946, the Klan was dealt a significant blow by a single concerned citizen. Activist and author Stetson Kennedy infiltrated the Klan over a period of months, gathering key information on the group's secret rituals and code words. Kennedy then shared his knowledge with the writers of a Superman radio serial, leading to the broadcast of The Adventures of Superman: "Clan of the Fiery Cross,” which over a two-week period exposed the Klan’s best-kept secrets. By trivializing the Klan, the broadcast helped strip the Klan of its mystique. Over time, the group declined rapidly and only a few thousand members are active today.
In 1920, the anti-Semitic business magnate Henry Ford published excerpts from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion as part of a disparaging series of leading articles in his private newspaper, the Dearborn Independent. The public was unimpressed, with the New York Times condemning the Protocols as the “strangest jumble of crazy ideas that ever found its way in print.” However, his dissemination of the Protocols did contribute to the spread of anti-Semitic thought in modern America, and Ford’s propaganda was later applauded by Goebbels and Hitler.
In 2012, online hate speech from Burma’s Facebook users exploded as some from the country's majority Buddhist population accused minority Muslims of a plot to dominate the country. With online vitriol stoking real-world conflicts, the Panzagar movement arose to combat the trend. Panzagar translates to "flower speech" in English, and the movement intervened through designing a series of “flower speech” Facebook stickers to post under offensive material. The stickers are cheerful and cartoonish, and seek to defuse heated arguments through lighthearted reminders to practice respect and tolerance.
On July 8, 1985, school children in a small Indian town rose to sing the national anthem, "Jana Gana Mana," but one 15-year old boy and his sisters did not join their classmates. As Jehovah’s Witnesses, they believed singing the anthem constituted idolatry, and could not bring themselves to violate their beliefs. This behavior was condemned as unpatriotic by school employees and became a local scandal, eventually resulting in the expulsion of the children. Their family sued, and the case eventually rose to the Supreme Court where the children were exonerated, with Justice O. Chinnappa Reddy reiterating “Our tradition teaches tolerance; our philosophy preaches tolerance; our constitution practices tolerance; let us not dilute it.”
Members of the Iranian Baha'i faith have been persecuted since the founding of the religion in the mid-1800s. This persecution severely intensified after the Islamic Revolution in 1979, and continues to this day. At roughly 300,000 adherents, they are the largest non-Muslim religious group in Iran, but are not among the recognized religious minorities in the country's constitution, and cannot count on its protections. Today Baha’is are regularly subjected to intimidation, arbitrary arrest, destruction of property, denial of employment and access to higher education. The leadership of the Baha’i faith in Iran continues to be imprisoned.
Even as Hitler rose to power in Germany, Baghdad was a haven of religious and ethnic tolerance with Arabs, Kurds, and Turkmen, Muslims, Christians, Yazidis and Sabeans living in a land where “the mosque stands beside the church and the synagogue.” Hebrew was one of Iraq’s six languages and about 120,000 Jews lived in the country. Today, after decades of intermittent war and repression, it is estimated that fewer than ten Jews remain, while more Yazidis and Christians flee every day.
Appalled by the scourge of slavery across the United States, Harriet Beecher Stowe called attention to its horrors and impact on American society by publishing Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1852. Selling 10,000 copies in its first week and becoming the second best-selling book of the century after the Bible, the graphic horrors of slavery portrayed in the book ignited social consciousness and fierce public debate. This debate carried through into the U.S. Civil War, which in turn led to Congress passing the 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, prohibiting slavery throughout the country. Uncle Tom's Cabin prepared the way for one of the biggest social shifts in American history.
The magnificent Hagia Sophia was constructed by the Byzantine Empire as a Christian basilica in the 6th century CE, and has stood the test of time for almost 1500 years. When Sultan Mehmed II’s armies conquered Constantinople in 1453, he could not bring himself to destroy the beautiful building and instead added minarets, converting it into a mosque. Since its repurposing as a museum in 1935 the Hagia Sophia has served a physical reminder of the intertwined relationship between Islam and Christianity, with Islamic calligraphy and Christian mosaics adorning the same structure.

 I believe in God who made of one blood all races that dwell on earth. I believe that all men, black and brown and white, are brothers, varying through Time and Opportunity, in form and gift and feature, but differing in no essential particular, and alike in soul and in the possibility of infinite development.

- W.E.B Dubois (1868-1963), African American sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, Darkwater: Voices from Within the Veil, 1920

 I was heartened that people everywhere want certain basic freedoms, even if they live in a totally different cultural environment.

- Aung San Suu Kyi (1945-present), Nobel Peace Prize laureate and leader of the National League for Democracy in Burma, 2012

 I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.

- Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and first black president of South Africa, I am Prepared to Die, Statement in the Rivonia Trial, Pretoria Supreme Court, April 20, 1964

 No rational argument will have a rational effect on a man who does not want to adopt a rational attitude.

- Karl Popper (1902-1994), Austrian-British philosopher, The Open Society and its Enemies, 1945

 He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.

- Thomas Paine (1737-1809), English-American political activist, philosopher, and revolutionary, Dissertation on First Principles of Government, July 1795

 There's in people simply an urge to destroy, an urge to kill, to murder and rage, and until all mankind, without exception, undergoes a great change, wars will be waged, everything that has been built up, cultivated, and grown will be destroyed and disfigured, after which mankind will have to begin all over again.

- Anne Frank (1929-1945), author of The Diary of a Young Girl, 1942-1944, entry dated May 3, 1944

 Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.

- Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), American Baptist minister and leader of the American Civil Rights Movement, Loving Your Enemies, 1957

 Human nature is not simple and any classification that roughly divides men into good and bad, superior and inferior, slave and free, is and must be ludicrously untrue and universally dangerous as a permanent exhaustive classification.

- W.E.B Dubois (1868-1963), African American sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, Evolution of the Race Problem, 1909

 More dangerous than bayonets and cannon are the weapons of the mind.

- Ludwig Van Mises (1881-1973), leader of the Austrian School of economic thought, Liberalism, 1927

 I believe we are here on the planet Earth to live, grow up and do what we can to make this world a better place for all people to enjoy freedom.

- Rosa Parks (1913-2005), African-American civil rights activist

 God's dream is that you and I and all of us will realize that we are family, that we are made for togetherness, for goodness, and for compassion.

- Desmond Tutu (1931-present), South African social rights activist and retired Anglican bishop, April 26, 2005

 Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.

- Mahatma Gandhi (1969-1948), leader of Indian independence movement

 Whenever you're in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.

- William James (1842-1910), American philosopher and psychologist

 Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), German Lutheran pastor, theologian, anti-Nazi dissident, 1995

 Is discord going to show itself while we are still fighting, is the Jew once again worth less than another? Oh, it is sad, very sad, that once more, for the umpteenth time, the old truth is confirmed: "What one Christian does is his own responsibility, what one Jew does is thrown back at all Jews."

- Anne Frank (1929-1945), author of The Diary of a Young Girl, 1942-1944, entry dated as May 22, 1944

 Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings.

- Heinrich Heine (1797-1856), German poet, journalist, essayist, and literary critic, Almansor, 1821

 I like the religion that teaches liberty, equality and fraternity.

- Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (1891-1956), Indian jurist, economist, politician and social reformer

 For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.

- Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and first black president of South Africa,Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela, 1995

 We need a little more compassion, and if we cannot have it then no politician or even a magician can save the planet.

- 14th Dalai Lama (1935-present)

 I have striven not to laugh at human actions, not to weep at them, nor to hate them, but to understand them.

- Baruch de Spinoza (1632-1677), Dutch philosopher, Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, 1670

 Anger and intolerance are the twin enemies of correct understanding.

- Mahatma Gandhi (1969-1948), leader of Indian independence movement

 The time must come when, great and pressing as change and betterment may be, they do not involve killing and hurting people.

- W.E.B Dubois (1868-1963), African American sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, Dark Princess, 1928

 I can imagine nothing more terrifying than an Eternity filled with men who were all the same. The only thing which has made life bearable…has been the diversity of creatures on the surface of the globe.

- T. H. White (1906-1964), English author

 I knew that to really minister to Rwanda's needs meant working toward reconciliation in the prisons, in the churches, and in the cities and villages throughout the country. It meant feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, caring for the young, but it also meant healing the wounded and forgiving the unforgivable.

- John Rucyahana (1945-present), former Rwandan Anglican bishop, The Bishop of Rwanda: Finding Forgiveness Amidst a Pile of Bones, 2007

 The test of faith is whether I can make space for difference. Can I recognize God's image in someone who is not in my image, whose language, faith, ideal, are different from mine? If I cannot, then I have made God in my image instead of allowing him to remake me in his.

- Jonathan Sacks (1948 - present), rabbi, philosopher and scholar of Judaism, The Dignity of Difference, 2002

 Tolerance is the positive and cordial effort to understand another’s beliefs, practices, and habits without necessarily sharing or accepting them.

- Joshua Loth Liebman (1907-1948), American rabbi and best-selling author, Peace of Mind: Insights on Human Nature That Can Change Your Life, 1946

 I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world.

- Socrates (469 BC-399 BC), Greek philosopher

 I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

- Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968), American Baptist minister and leader of the American Civil Rights Movement, "I Have a Dream", August 28, 1963

 We all live with the objective of being happy, our lives are all different and yet the same.

- Anne Frank (1929-1945), author of The Diary of a Young Girl, 1942-1944, entry dated July, 6, 1944

 Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.

- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, December 16, 1966

 If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.

- John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), British philosopher, political economist and civil servant, On Liberty, 1859

 [Most] can seldom discern even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as obliges them to admit the falsity of conclusions they have formed, perhaps with much difficulty — conclusions of which they are proud, which they have taught to others, and on which they have built their lives.

- Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), Russian novelist, playwright, and philosopher

 I have always strenuously supported the right of every man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies another this right makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it.

- Thomas Paine (1737-1809), English-American political activist, philosopher, and revolutionary, Age of Reason, 1794

 Christian, Jew, Muslim, shaman, Zoroastrian, stone, ground, mountain, river, each has a secret way of being with the mystery, unique and not to be judged.

- Jalaluddin Rumi (1207-1273), 13th-century Persian poet, jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic

 The open society is one in which men have learned to be to some extent critical of taboos, and to base decisions on the authority of their own intelligence.

- Karl Popper (1902-1994), Austrian-British philosopher, The Open Society and its Enemies, 1945

 I don't believe in charity. I believe in solidarity. Charity is vertical, so it's humiliating. It goes from the top to the bottom. Solidarity is horizontal. It respects the other and learns from the other. I have a lot to learn from other people.

- Eduardo Galeano (1940-present), Uruguyan journalist, writer, and novelist, 2004

 How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.

- Anne Frank (1929-1945), author of The Diary of a Young Girl, 1942-1944, March 26, 1944

 A person is a person because he recognizes others as persons.

- Desmund Tutu (1931-present), South African social rights activist and retired Anglican bishop, September 7, 1986

 Even God doesn't propose to judge a man till his last days, why should you and I?

- Dale Carnegie (1888-1955), American self-help author and lecturer

 There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance.

- Socrates (469 BC-399 BC), Greek philosopher

 I am a lover of truth, a worshipper of freedom, a celebrant at the altar of language and purity and tolerance. That is my religion.... My belief in my religion is strong and I know that lies will always fail and indecency and intolerance will always perish.

- Stephen Fry (1957-present), English comedian, actor, writer, presenter, and activist, 1993

 To build a future you have to know the past.

- Otto Frank (1889-1980), Holocaust survivor who was a German-born businessman and father of Anne and Margot Frank, 1967

 The golden rule of conduct... is mutual toleration, seeing that we will never all think alike and we shall always see Truth in fragment and from different angles of vision. Even amongst the most conscientious persons, there will be room enough for honest differences of opinion. The only possible rule of conduct in any civilised society is, therefore, mutual toleration.

- Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), leader of Indian independence movement, 1927

 I truly believe the only way we can create global peace is through not only educating our minds, but our hearts and our souls.

- Malala Yousafzai (1997-present), Pakistani activist for female education and Nobel Prize laureate, September 3, 2013

 A human being is a part of the whole, called by us "Universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion. Not to nourish it but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of peace of mind.

- Albert Einstein (1879-1955), German-born theoretical physicist, 1950

 To deny any person their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.

- Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and first black president of South Africa, June 27, 1990

 I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.

- Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), Author of the Declaration of Independence and Third President of the United States,Letter to Archibald Stuart, Philadelphia, December 23, 1791

 Tolerance and patience should not be read as signs of weakness. They are signs of strength.

- 14th Dalai Lama (1935-present), spiritual leader of Tibet, September 21, 2012

 While differing widely in the various little bits we know, in our infinite ignorance we are all equal.

- Karl Popper (1902-1994), Austrian-British philosopher, Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge, 1963

 We recall our terrible past so that we can deal with it, to forgive where forgiveness is necessary, without forgetting; to ensure that never again will such inhumanity tear us apart; and to move ourselves to eradicate a legacy that lurks dangerously as a threat to our democracy.

- Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and first black president of South Africa, February 25, 1999

 Being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions.

- John Locke (1632-1704), English philosopher, Second Treatise of Government, 1689

 I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any. I refuse to live in other people’s houses as an interloper, a beggar or a slave.

- Mahatma Gandhi (1969-1948), leader of Indian independence movement, 1927

 From the saintly and single-minded idealist to the fanatic is often but a step.

- Friedrich Hayek (1899-1992), economist and philosopher, 1944

 If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.

- Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and first black president of South Africa, Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela, 1995

 Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands.

- Anne Frank (1929-1945), author of The Diary of a Young Girl, 1942-1944

 We must plan for freedom, and not only for security, if for no other reason than only freedom can make security more secure.

- Karl Popper (1902-1994), Austrian-British philosopher, The Open Society and its Enemies, 1945

 Many of our problems are created by ourselves based on divisions due to ideology, religion, race, resources, economic status or other factors. The time has come to think on a deeper, more human level and appreciate and respect our sameness as human beings.

- 14th Dalai Lama (1935-present), The Compassionate Life, 2001

 Hate. It has caused a lot of problems in this world, but it has not solved one yet.

- Maya Angelou (1928-2014), American poet and author

 My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.

- Thomas Paine (1737-1809), English-American political activist, philosopher, and revolutionary, The Rights of Man, 1791

 Freedom of judgment must necessarily be permitted and people must be governed in such a way that they can live in harmony, even though they openly hold different and contradictory opinions.

- Baruch de Spinoza (1632-1677), Dutch philosopher, Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, 1670

 You must not treat others with cruelty and that much harshly, you must fight others but through peace and through dialogue and through education.

- Malala Yousafzai (1997-present), Pakistani activist for female education and Nobel Prize laureate, October 10, 2013

 WHAT is tolerance? it is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly--that is the first law of nature.

- Voltaire (1694-1778), French Enlightenment writer, historian, and philosopher, 1764

 We call upon all communities to be tolerant, to reject prejudice based on caste, creed, sect, colour, religion or agenda to ensure freedom and equality for women so they can flourish. We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.

- Malala Yousafzai (1997-present), Pakistani activist for female education and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, July 12, 2013

 All major religious traditions carry basically the same message, that is love, compassion and forgiveness … the important thing is they should be part of our daily lives.

- 14th Dalai Lama (1935-present)

 I respect Muslims, Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, Buddhists, Bahá’ís, etc., even non-believers who believe in the principles of humanity. I love them dearly and kiss the hands of each and every one of them.

- Masoumi Tehrani, senior Iranian cleric

 Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.

- Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and first black president of South Africa

 The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous.

- Frederick Douglass (1818-1895), African-American abolitionist and U.S. minister to Haiti from 1889 to 1891, Speech on the twenty-fourth anniversary of Emancipation in the District of Columbia, Washington, D.C., April 1885

 Injustice, poverty, slavery, ignorance — these may be cured by reform or revolution. But men do not live only by fighting evils. They live by positive goals, individual and collective, a vast variety of them, seldom predictable, at times incompatible.

- Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997), Russo-British Jewish social and political theorist, philosopher and historian, Political Ideas in the Twentieth Century, Foreign Affairs, 1950

 It is the enemy who can truly teach us to practice the virtues of compassion and tolerance.

- 14th Dalai Lama (1935-present), Ocean of Wisdom: Guidelines for Living, 1989

 It is my inmost conviction, Badshah Khan said, that Islam is amal, yakeen, muhabat – selfless service, faith, and love.

- Badshah Khan (1890-1988), Pashtun independence activist

 I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.

- Anne Frank (1929-1945), author of The Diary of a Young Girl, 1942-1944, entry dated July 15, 1944

 The love of one's country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border?

- Pablo Casals (1876-1973), Spanish cellist, 1974

 If we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.

- Karl Popper (1902-1994), Austrian-British philosopher, The Open Society and its Enemies, 1945

 [W]e are all guilty in some Measure of the same narrow way of Thinking... when we fancy the Customs, Dresses, and Manners of other Countries are ridiculous and extravagant, if they do not resemble those of our own.

- Joseph Addison (1672-1719), English essayist, poet, playwright, and politician, 1711

 At every level of society, familial, tribal, national and international, the key to a happier and more peaceful and successful world is the growth of compassion.

- 14th Dalai Lama (1935-present), The Compassionate Life, 2001

 Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.

- Frederick Douglass (1818-1895), African-American abolitionist and U.S. minister to Haiti from 1889 to 1891, Speech on the twenty-fourth anniversary of Emancipation in the District of Columbia, Washington, D.C., April 1886

 Tolerance implies a respect for another person, not because he is wrong or even because he is right, but because he is human.

- John Cogley (1916-1976), author of Religion in a Secular Age, 1968

 It is a worthy thing to fight for one's freedom; it is another sight finer to fight for another man's.

- Mark Twain (1835-1910), American author and humorist, June 17, 1898

 And if we want to achieve our goal, then let us empower ourselves with the weapon of knowledge and let us shield ourselves with unity and togetherness.

- Malala Yousafzai (1997-present), Pakistani activist for female education and Nobel Prize laureate, July 12, 2013

 How many paths are there to God? There are as many paths to God as there are souls on the Earth.

- Jalaluddin Rumi (1207-1273), 13th-century Persian poet, jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic

 Each person must live their life as a model for others.

- Rosa Parks (1913-2005), African-American civil rights activist

 No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship or ministry or shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion.

- Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), Author of the Declaration of Independence and Third President of the United States, Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, 1786

 If our goal is to be tolerant of people who are different than we are, then we really are aiming quite low. Traffic jams are to be tolerated. People are to be celebrated.

- Glennon Doyle Melton, Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed, April 2, 2013

 I think... if it is true that there are as many minds as there are heads, then there are as many kinds of love as there are hearts.

- Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), Russian novelist, playwright, and philosopher, Anna Karenina, 1877

 Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every man present his views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.

- Albert Einstein (1879-1955), German-born theoretical physicist, 1940

 I have no animosity towards anyone. Whoever displays human dignity, regardless of their religion or faith, I bow my head before them and hold them dear.

- Masoumi Tehrani, senior Iranian cleric

 It is hardly possible to overrate the value, for the improvement of human beings, of things which bring them into contact with persons dissimilar to themselves and with modes of thought and action unlike those with which they are familiar... It is indispensable to be perpetually comparing [one's] own notions and customs with the experience and example of persons in different circumstances.

- John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), British philosopher, political economist and civil servant, Principles of Political Economy, 1848

 There can be only one permanent revolution — a moral one; the regeneration of the inner man. How is this revolution to take place? Nobody knows how it will take place in humanity, but every man feels it clearly in himself. And yet in our world everybody thinks of changing humanity, and nobody thinks of changing himself

- Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), Russian novelist, playwright, and philosopher, 1900

 The scientist is free, and must be free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion, to seek for any evidence, to correct any errors. Our political life is also predicated on openness. We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it and that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. And we know that as long as men are free to ask what they must, free to say what they think, free to think what they will, freedom can never be lost, and science can never regress.

- Robert Oppenheimer (1904-1967), American theoretical physicist

 We all know we are unique individuals, but we tend to see others as representatives of groups.

- Deborah Tannen (1945-present), linguist and author, You Just Don't Understand, 1990

 Give to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself.

- Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899), American lawyer, May 8, 1888

 Religion must mainly be a matter of principles only. It cannot be a matter of rules. The moment it degenerates into rules, it ceases to be a religion, as it kills responsibility which is an essence of the true religious act.

- Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (1891-1956), Indian jurist, economist, politician and social reformer

 If we cannot end now our differences, at least we can make the world safe for diversity.

- John F. Kennedy (1917-1961), 35th President of the United States, Commencement Address at American University, June 10, 1963

 The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression.

- W.E.B Dubois (1868-1963), African American sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, John Brown, 1909

 All of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us.... this ‘closing off’ that imagines that those outside, everyone, cannot do good is a wall that leads to war and also to what some people throughout history have conceived of: killing in the name of God.... And that, simply, is blasphemy.

- Pope Francis (1936-present), May 22, 2013

 Where in this wide world can a person find nobility without pride, friendship without envy or beauty without vanity? Here, where grace is laced with muscle and strength by gentleness confined. He serves without servility, he has fought without enmity. There is nothing so powerful, nothing less violent; there is nothing so quick, nothing more patient.

- Ronald Duncan (1914-1982)

 We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.

- Karl Popper (1902-1994), Austrian-British philosopher, The Open Society and its Enemies, 1945

 You may choose to look the other way but you can never again say you did not know.

- William Wilberforce (1759-1833), English abolitionist, 1791

 First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

- Martin Niemöller (1892-1984), German anti-Nazi theologian and Lutheran pastor, January 6, 1946

 No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.

- Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and first black president of South Africa, Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela, 1995

 Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

- Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), American Baptist minister and leader of the American Civil Rights Movement, Strength to Love, 1963

 Compassion is sometimes the fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live in somebody else’s skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me unless there is peace and joy finally for you too.

- Frederick Buechner (1926-present), American writer and theologian

 Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one's own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.

- John F. Kennedy (1917-1963), 35th President of the United States, October 10, 1960

 Compassion is not religious business, it is human business. It is not a luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability. It is essential for human survival.

- 14th Dalai Lama (1935 - present), spiritual leader of Tibet

 It is thus tolerance that is the source of peace, and intolerance that is the source of disorder and squabbling.

- Pierre Bayle (1647-1706), French philosopher, 1686

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About Tavaana

Tavaana: E-Learning Institute for Iranian Civil Society is Iran’s pioneer e-learning institute. Tavaana – meaning ‘empowered’ and ‘capable’ in Persian – was launched on May 17, 2010 with a mission to support active citizenship and civic leadership in Iran through a multi-platform civic education and civil society capacity building program. Tavaana holds a vision for a free and open Iranian society, one in which each and every Iranian enjoys equality, justice and the full spectrum of civil and political liberties.

About The Tolerance Project

The Tolerance Project aims to inspire conscience, pluralism, religious freedom, and celebration of difference. Using an array of educational materials in Arabic, Persian, and English, The Tolerance Project emphasizes the capacity of each and every individual to counter hate, and imparts the benefits of living in tolerant, open societies. The Tolerance Project educates to prevent persecution and genocide, cultivating the basis for vibrant and stable societies in the broader Middle East.

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