Syria's Refugee Crisis

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U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

Syria's Refugee Crisis and its Implications

As the Syrian civil war enters its third year, the human cost of the conflict is growing exponentially. According to the UN, as of July 2013 more than 100,000 Syrians are dead, more than 4.5 million are internally displaced, and more than 1.7 million are refugees in neighboring countries. By the end of 2013, more than half of Syria’s population, over 10 million people, likely will need urgent humanitarian assistance.

In response to this growing crisis and the increasingly sectarian nature of the Syrian conflict, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) staff members Tiffany Lynch and Sahar Chaudhry travelled to Jordan and Egypt in June 2013 as part of a UNHCR-led delegation that also included the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement. The purpose of the fact finding mission was to gather firsthand information about the Syrian refugee crisis, talk with refugees and representatives of aid organizations about internal displacement within Syria, and better understand the implications for minority religious communities and religious freedom in the country.

USCIRF staff interviewed 40 refugees in individual and group settings about why they fled Syria, current religious freedom and human rights conditions in Syria, and their experiences as refugees. Staff met with refugees at Za’atri refugee camp in Jordan; UNHCR registration centers in Jordan and Egypt; refugee assistance centers throughout Egypt and Jordan; and in refugees’ private, rented homes in Jordan. The delegation also met with U.S. and Jordanian government officials, UN representatives, and representatives of national and international organizations assisting refugees to learn more about assistance needs and the impact the refugee crisis is having on host nations.

This factsheet provides an overview of key findings from the delegation’s visit, followed by a breakdown of the refugee crisis by host nation that reflects information gathered during the trip as well as meetings and research conducted in Washington, D.C. through July 18, 2013. For more information on religious freedom in Syria and USCIRF recommendations to the U.S. government on how it should respond to both religious freedom violations in that country and the regional refugee crisis, see USCIRF’s April 2013 Special Report, Protecting and Promoting Religious Freedom in Syria.

KEY FINDINGS

Interviews with Syrian Refugees

  • Refugees with whom USCIRF spoke almost universally reported fleeing generalized violence such as aerial bombardments, fighting, and arrests in their neighborhoods, rather than targeted religious persecution. These individuals, who largely had lived in majority Sunni areas, reported that they had fled neighborhoods, towns and cities that government forces targeted because of their political opposition to the government or support for the Free Syrian Army. More than 90 percent of all refugees registered with UNHCR identify themselves as Sunni Muslim.
  • Refugees USCIRF spoke with said they want to return to Syria once the fighting ends. Many have family who stayed behind in Syria to look after their property or periodically return there for short periods of time to check on the conditions of homes or businesses.
  • Many refugees and representatives of aid organizations expect the sectarian nature of the conflict to intensify in the future, leading to additional attacks, destruction, and deaths. USCIRF staff heard refugees make a number of anti-al-Qaeda, anti-al-Nusra, and anti-Alawite statements, the latter due to the perception that Alawites are aligned with the Assad regime.

Religious Minorities

  • The percentage of religious minorities, such as Christians, Alawites, or Yezidis, who have registered as refugees with UNHCR, is disproportionately small compared to their percentage in the Syrian population. They constitute about only one percent respectively of all registered refugees. USCIRF staff attempted, but were unable, to meet with Syrian Christian refugees in Jordan and Egypt.
  • In Jordan, USCIRF confirmed with UN representatives and organizations providing assistance in Syria that most religious minorities are believed to be taking shelter within Syria in areas where their co-religionists reside or in government-held areas. When they do flee Syria, the vast majority go to Lebanon and Turkey where there are similar religious communities.
  • UNHCR told USCIRF that Christians and Alawites reportedly are not registering with their organization because they fear negative repercussions from Sunni refugees identifying them with the regime. They reportedly also fear that if Bashar Al-Assad remains in power and they return to Syria, the Syrian government will view them as disloyal for having sought safe haven in a neighboring country.
  • Refugees are required to register with UNHCR to receive food assistance from World Food Programme, cash assistance from international assistance organizations, and special education and health assistance. Because religious minority communities and others who reside in rural areas and cannot travel to registration centers are not registering with UNHCR in large numbers, they do not receive the amount of assistance provided to refugees who have registered.
  • USCIRF raised the concern that if religious minorities begin fleeing Syria en masse and seek shelter in refugee camps, they could be vulnerable to reprisal attacks based on sectarian lines. While recognizing this concern, UNHCR reported that it does not have the resources to develop a program that would protect religious minorities in refugee camps or other settings from reprisal attacks committed along sectarian lines. The Government of Turkey reportedly is building special refugee camps for Christians and ethnic Kurds because of these concerns.

Regional Refugee Catastrophe

  • As of July 17, UNHCR reports that more than 1. 7 million Syrians are refugees in neighboring countries. UNHCR predicts that 3.5 million Syrians potentially could become refugees by the end of 2013. This large number is exerting significant pressure on neighboring countries’ economies and stretching their already limited resources and services. Due to these pressures, Iraq, Turkey and Jordan either have closed their borders or limited daily refugee inflows.
  • UNHCR projects that by the end of 2013 more than 75 percent of refugees will be living outside of UN camps. (70 percent of all refugees currently live outside of camps.) According to both refugees and refugee assistance organizations, rent is the primary assistance need for most refugees as the increased demand for housing is inflating rental prices and reducing housing availability. As such, Syrians are both sharing housing and living in sub-standard conditions including in vacant buildings and makeshift shelters. Additionally, local tensions have resulted from refugees and citizens having to share limited resources and stretched services, including water and education and health services.
  • As countries and host communities reach saturation in their ability to absorb refugees, several protection issues are arising such as governments like Iraq closing borders, and refugees stranded in rural settings, which significantly limits their access to assistance. As borders close, Syrians seeking to flee will be stuck in Syria along exit points on the border with limited shelter or assistance and vulnerable to violence.
  • UN officials in Jordan told USCIRF that they feared that the conflict in Syria will spill over into neighboring countries, as is currently the case in Lebanon. They expressed concern about the economic strains resulting from supporting hundreds of thousands of refugees and that increasing social tensions between refugees and host communities will lead to new or increased political instability. Already, according to UNHCR Jordan, there have been increasing demands by the Jordanian people and some governmental officials to close the Syrian-Jordanian border.

REFUGEE HOSTING COUNTRIES

Egypt

  • UNHCR reported that as of July 18, there were more than 92,000 refugees in Egypt. Based on trends seen before the ouster of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, UNHCR expects that number to reach 200,000 by the end of the year. Both refugees and UNHCR told USCIRF staff that this increase is due to the relatively low cost of living in Egypt as opposed to other host nations, and at the time of the delegation’s visit, the Egyptian government’s welcoming the Syrian populations.
  • Until the ouster of Morsi, the Government of Egypt (GoE) did not require Syrian refugees to obtain a visa to enter Egypt. Upon arrival, all Syrian refugees were required to register with UNHCR and the Ministry of Immigration where they could obtain a free-of-charge six-month renewable residency permit that allowed them to work legally in the country. However, as of July 8, 2013, Syrians must obtain a visa and pass a security clearance before being permitted to seek refuge in Egypt. As of the date of this publication, the September 2012 Morsi decree allowing all Syrian refugees to access public health and education services remains in effect. This assistance is not given to other refugee populations in the country. However, refugees reported to USCIRF that they have had trouble accessing these services because they are located far from areas where refugees currently are residing.
  • There are no refugee camps in Egypt: all refugees live in private rented accommodations, often at inflated prices. Refugees live primarily in three areas: Cairo, Alexandria, and Damietta.
  • A few non-governmental organizations (NGOs) provide assistance to Syrian refugees. These NGOs told USCIRF staff they are concerned that Egypt’s existing restrictions on NGOs and the draft NGO law significantly impede their ability to provide assistance. These restrictions and the draft law limit an NGO’s work if it is deemed to be political or advocates for specific rights. Additionally, Egypt has created a bureaucratic oversight structure and other barriers that limit NGOs’ ability to receive and disseminate funds to refugees.
  • At the time of the June visit, the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi charities were providing assistance often exclusively to specific refugee areas and preferred groups with little coordination or assistance from more experienced refugee assistance organizations. It is unclear if such activities will be allowed to continue in Egypt.

Jordan

  • The UNHCR reports that as of July 18, Jordan hosts more than a half million Syrian refugees and is projected to host one million by the end of the year. UNHCR also reports that a small percentage of Syrian refugees return to Syria because the security situation has improved in their home areas, to check on family or property, or to fight in the civil war.
  • USCIRF was told that while the Jordanian border remains opens, the government is limiting how many refuges can cross daily. Refugee assistance organizations told USCIRF they are concerned that the Government of Jordan (GoJ) could close the border permanently, as it did in May for one week. USCIRF staff also was told that unaccompanied young men are prohibited from entering Jordan. The majority of Syrians entering Jordan do so at unofficial border crossings. Jordan does not require Syrians to obtain a visa or residency permit to enter. Once they are registered with UNHCR, they are sent to Za’atri refugee camp where they can then be “sponsored” or “bailed out” by a Jordanian citizen. Syrians who enter Jordan through an official border crossing do not have to go first to Za’atri and can, under strict conditions, legally work. 
  • Syrian refugees in Jordan live in both camp and non-camp settings, with 70 percent living in urban and rural areas. There are currently three operational refugee camps in Jordan: Za’atri camp, the Emirati Jordanian Camp, and Cyber City. UNHCR currently is constructing a fourth camp, Azraq, which will house an additional 130,000 refugees. USCIRF staff visited Za’atri camp, whose population of approximately 120,000 makes it Jordan’s fourth largest city. As staff witnessed, its large size and lack of security personnel present a number of protection issues inside the camp for both refugees and assistance organizations.
  • As is the case with other urban Syrian refugee populations in the region, access to affordable, adequate housing is the primary need. Refugee populations are straining limited water resources (Jordan is the fourth most water-insecure country in the world), and an average of 3.4 million liters of water is trucked into Za’atri camp daily. Health and education services also are overwhelmed, particularly in the northern governorates that are hosting most of the refugees. These strains have put enormous pressure on the GoJ to close the border. USCIRF staff was told repeatedly that the new Jordanian parliament has called on the government to restrict access to the country, and results from a University of Jordan poll show that 70 percent of Jordanians support closing the border.

Iraq

  • UNHCR reports that as of July 18, more than 161,000 Syrian refugees are registered or awaiting registration in Iraq, with 95 percent in the Kurdistan region.
  • The border with Iraq is closed. The al-Qaim border closed in October 2012 and on May 19, 2013 the government closed the Peshkapor border crossing. According to UNHCR, prior to its closing, 95 percent of arrivals, upwards of 300-400 people per day, used the Peshkapor border crossing.
  • Refugees in Iraq are living in both camp and non-camp settings. The Kurdistan region hosts three camps -- Domiz Camp, al-Qaim Camp 1 and al-Qaim Camp 2 -- and the Kurdistan Regional Government is building two additional camps, Darashakran Camp and Sulaymaniyah Camp.
  • In late spring and early summer, thousands of refugees returned to Syria due to frustration over living conditions and lack of freedom of movement and access to employment. Syrians also returned because of a perceived improvement in the security situation.

Lebanon

  • As of July 18, UNHCR reports that Lebanon hosts more than 615,000 Syrian refugees and projects that by the end of the year this number will increase to more than 1.2 million -- at least 25 percent of all persons living in the country. These Syrian refugees are in addition to an 6 estimated 500,000 Syrian migrant workers who resided in Lebanon prior to the start of the conflict.
  • The Government of Lebanon is expected to keep the border open. Syrian refugees who enter through an official border crossing (87 percent of all refugees) and register with both UNHCR and the government are given a six month residency permit free-of-charge. This permit allows them to work. However, it is unclear if refugees in the future will be required to pay for renewal residency permits.
  • There are no camps in Lebanon. Instead, refugees live in approximately 1,400 localities across the country, often moving to areas where they have family or family connections, often Syrian migrants already in the country. Refugees live in a variety of substandard housing, including homes and apartments. As rents increase and communities reach saturation points, refugees have begun to live in abandoned or unused buildings, informal collective centers and open shelters, or improve “tented settlements” with no sanitation and in flood-prone areas. UNHCR estimates that by the end of the year, 70 percent of refugees will need shelter assistance.
  • Competition for already limited social services and jobs is dramatically straining an already declining economy suffering from the loss of cross-border trade with Syria due to the conflict, rising inflation, and security concerns. In fact, the majority of Syrian refugees in Lebanon live in some of the poorest areas of the country with relatively higher unemployment and poverty rates. UNHCR reports that increased local tensions have resulted in evictions, displacements and violent incidents in some areas.

Turkey

  • According to UNHCR, as of July 18, Turkey hosts more than 413,000 Syrian refugees. UNHCR and the Government of Turkey (GoT) estimate that the number of Syrian refugees in Turkey by the end of 2013 could increase to one million, with 300,000 living in camps and 700,000 outside of camps.
  • While the Syrian-Turkish border remains open to Syrian refugees, USCIRF was told that the Turkish government manages the number and profile of Syrians who can enter Turkey each day. As such, thousands of Syrians waiting to flee Syria into Turkey are waiting for entry along the border.
  • Refugees in Turkey live in both camp and non-camp settings; 199,083 live in camps and 187, 883 outside camps. The GoT operates 17 different camps in 10 different provinces in the south of the country, with new camps under construction.
  • NGOs report to USCIRF that Syriac Christians in Turkey are choosing to stay at Christian churches or monasteries. The GoT reportedly has opened special camps for Christian and 7 Kurdish Syrian refugees in an attempt to prevent the sectarian violence in Syria from spilling over into the refugee population.
  • Continuous arrivals from Syria are increasing pressure on existing refugee camps. This is particularly true for communities of small family farms within 5km of the Syrian border which are hosting Syrian refugees. The conflict has cost these families and communities more than half of their annual household incomes due to a loss of cross-border trade.
  • In October 2011, the GoT provided a temporary protection regime to all Syrians and Palestinians in the country who had formerly lived in Syria. In January 2013, the government announced that all non-camp Syrian refugees can access free medical services at national health facilities. Additionally, any Syrian arriving with a passport can register with the Foreigners Police Department to receive a residence permit. The Prime Ministry’s Emergency and Disaster Management Presidency (AFAD), in conjunction with the Turkish Red Crescent Society, provides all Syrians in camps with a robust array of services, including food, health, social activities, education, interpretation, communication, banking, and vocational training.

Did You Know?

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.
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.
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 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!”
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.

 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

 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

 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

 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

 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

 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

 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

 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

 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

 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

 Anger and intolerance are the twin enemies of correct understanding.

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

 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

 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

 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

 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

 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

 [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

 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

 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

 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

 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

 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

 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

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

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

 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

 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

 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 like the religion that teaches liberty, equality and fraternity.

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

 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

 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

 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

 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

 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

 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

 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

 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

 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

 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

 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 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

 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'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

 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

 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

 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

 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

 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

 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

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

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

 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

 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

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

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

 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

 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

 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

 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

 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

 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

 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

 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

 [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

 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

 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

 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

 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

 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

 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

 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)

 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

 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 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

 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

 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

 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

 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

 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

 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)

 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

 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

 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

 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

 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

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

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

 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

 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

 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

 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

 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

 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

 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

 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

 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 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

 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

 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

 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

 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

 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

 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)

 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

 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

 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

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

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

 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

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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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