‘Religious Freedom: An Antidote to Violent Religious Extremism’



SPEAKER: Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett

Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

TIME: 1 – 2pm, Thursday 4 June 2015

VENUE: Committee Room 3, House of Lords, London, SW1A 0AA

There has been a dramatic increase in religious persecution worldwide in the past six years, with three quarters of the world’s population (5.3 billion people) now living in countries with a high or very high level of restrictions on religion.

In Iraq and Syria, the jihadist group the Islamic State has systematically raped, brutalised and/or murdered anyone who does not subscribe to its version of Islam, including Yazidis, Christians and Shia Muslims. In Nigeria the terrorist group Boko Haram targets Christians and Muslims who reject their violent interpretation of Islam. In Pakistan religious freedom abuses have risen dramatically through the sectarian violence targeting Shia Muslims and Christians. Saudi Arabia continues its ban on all public religious expression besides its own extremist interpretation of Sunni Islam. And the arrival of thousands of Rohingya Muslim refugees in Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia in recent weeks has made the desperation of their situation in Burma crystal clear.

These are all examples of appalling abuses of the very basic of human rights – freedom of conscience and belief – but not just. In countries where freedom of religion is trampled upon, or permitted to be trampled upon, peace and security become more elusive and fertile ground is provided for radical and extremist movements.

By kind invitation of Baroness Berridge of the Vale of Catmose, The Henry Jackson Society is pleased to invite you to a meeting with Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Dr. Lantos Swett will connect the abuse of religious freedom to the rise of radical ideology in the Middle East and beyond, and argue that the most effective tool for fighting extremism is protecting every individual’s right to freedom of belief.



Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett is the Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, which she established in 2008. She teaches human rights and American foreign policy at Tufts University, and her varied professional experiences include working on Capitol Hill as Deputy Counsel to the Criminal Justice Sub-Committee of the Senate Judiciary Committee for then Senator Joe Biden and as a consultant to businesses, charitable foundations, and political campaigns.

Dr. Lantos Swett also has experience in broadcasting, having co-hosted the highly regarded political talk show “Beyond Politics” for many years on WMUR TV, New Hampshire’s only network affiliated television station. As co-host, she interviewed state, national, and international figures, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Vice President Al Gore, First Lady Hillary Clinton, Members of the United States Congress, and George Stephanopoulos on the issues of the day.

From 2003-2006 Dr. Lantos Swett served as the Director of the Graduate program in Public Policy at New England College, where she now serves on the college’s Board of Trustees. She is also a member of the Board of HRNK Human Rights in North Korea and the Tom Lantos Institute in Budapest.

Under Dr. Lantos Swett’s leadership as President and CEO, the Lantos Foundation has quickly become a distinguished and respected voice on many key human rights concerns ranging from rule of law in Russia and Internet freedom in closed societies to the on-going threat of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.


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