Spread democracy to safeguards religious freedom: Bush

November 14th, 2008 - 1:03 am ICT by IANS  

United Nations, Nov 13 (IANS) US President George Bush Thursday said promoting democracy is the best way to safeguard religious freedom in the world.”Democracies allow people with diverse views to discuss their differences and live in harmony,” Bush said while addressing a special inter-faith meeting of the UN General Assembly.

An initiative of Saudi Arabia, the two-day meeting is being attended by 70 heads of states and high-level officials.

India is represented by Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed.

In possibly his last address to the world body before he leaves the White House Jan 20, Bush argued the case for spreading democracy the world over as a guarantee to religious freedom.

“One of the best ways to safeguard religious freedom is to aid the rise of democracy,” he maintained.

Democratic governments don’t all look alike. Each reflects the history and traditions of its own people. “But one of the defining features of any democracy is that it makes room for people of all backgrounds and all faiths. Democracies allow people with diverse views to discuss their differences and live in harmony,” Bush said.

The expansion of democracy, he said, also represents the most promising path to peace.

People who are free to express their opinions can challenge the ideologies of hate. They can defend their religious beliefs and speak out against those seeking to twist them to evil ends. They can prevent their children from falling under the sway of extremists by giving them a more hopeful alternative, he argued.

Bush said religious liberty is the central element of the UN foreign policy.

“We’ve established a commission on the international religious freedom to monitor the state of religious liberty worldwide. We strongly encourage nations to understand that religious freedom is the foundation of a healthy and hopeful society. We’re not afraid to stand with religious dissidents and believers who practice their faith, even where it is unwelcome,” he said.

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