New Delhi: Silence can "embolden" criminals and it is therefore important for public figures and private individuals to speak out "pro actively" against hatred, a senior US official on Wednesday said, referring to the Dadri lynching case.
Delivering a lecture on 'Democratic Values and Violent Extremism' at Vivekananda International Foundation in New Delhi, Sarah B Sewall, US Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights talked about the need to end "stifling regulation" on civil society.
"Ensuring freedom calls for most than just enforcing laws. It means pro actively speaking out---as both public officials and private citizens. Silence can embolden the criminal and cruel---as in the lynching of a Muslim man last September, or the burning of churches in Odisha," she said.
Sewall's comments assume significance at the backdrop of the criticism faced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his "silence" on the Dadri lynching episode, wherein a 50-year-old man was lynched to death by a 200-strong mob over beef eating rumours in Uttar Pradesh.
The official cautioned the leaders from falling into the trap of invoking security to justify bigotry, profiling and or discrimination against one religion.
"Our own experiences remind us that no religious or political ideology is immune to violent extremism, from the history of White supremacists in the US to Maoist extremists here in India.
"Learning from the past we must avoid the trap of invoking security to justify bigotry, profiling, and discrimination against any religious or ethic group--including our Muslim bothers and sisters. That defies not only our deepest values, but strengthen the lies that the group like ISIS profess that democracies are somehow incompatible with Islam," she said.
Against the backdrop of Centre's crack down on some NGOs like the GreenPeace, Sewall noted that allowing citizen groups to peacefully speak around sensitive topics, can help in dealing with violent extremists in the society.
She said the civil society and citizens can also go a step further in building ties with communities targeted by violent extremists for recruitment.
"Governments can give the civil players a real seat at the table in policy development and ensure they have access to the resources and information they need to fully contribute.
Interestingly, the US official came out in support of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh for "praising" Indian Muslims for their fight against extremism and said the world was looking for this type of action from leadership.
Sewall suggested that the government can train religious leaders to use new communication platforms to curb extremism.
First Published On : Jan 13, 2016 17:52 IST