“Basta ya: Enough is enough”: this cry went viral in Spain in the 1990s and 2000s to confront the barbarity of ETA terrorism. Today we should recover it to stop the odious and condemnable wave of terrorist attacks perpetrated in religious sites.

In March 2019, the attack on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, shocked the world’s population. The United Nations Secretary-General decided to develop an Action Plan to Safeguard Religious Sites, which was approved and launched in September 2019.

Over the course of 2020, probably in large part due to the impact of Covid-19, attacks on places of worship decreased substantially. However, in the last quarter of 2021, and most particularly after the Afghan crisis, these have multiplied again.

The responsibility for protecting places of worship rests primarily with the Member States of the United Nations. For its part, the UN Action Plan to Safeguard Religious Sites contains concrete recommendations addressed, among others, to Member States so as to prevent, prepare for and respond efficiently to possible attacks. In the specific case of Afghanistan, the responsibility for safeguarding places of worship rests essentially with the new Taliban leadership. However, can the international community’s response be limited to standing idly by while waiting for tragic images of suicide bombings in Shiite mosques every Friday? In other regions of the world, such as the Sahel, attacks on places of worship in countries such as Burkina Faso or Niger unfortunately take place with some regularity. Should this issue not be a priority on the agenda of the international community in order to put an end to attacks on worshippers who only wish to exercise their right to freedom to manifest their religion or belief collectively in their respective places of worship, a right enshrined in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

It seems that we are helplessly witnessing a strategy of “the barbarians” who know very well how to exploit the meaning and impact of these criminal acts. Their clear will is to terrorize us with this type of inhuman actions. This is why, as the entity responsible for the implementation of the United Nations Plan of Action to Safeguard Religious Sites, I urgently appeal to all actors involved in the safeguarding of religious sites: governments, religious leaders, religious organizations, civil society, the youth of the world, the media, and all people of good faith, to mobilize behind the slogan “Basta ya: enough is enough – no more killing in places of worship”.

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