Saturday 16 November was International Day for Tolerance, one of the key values agreed by world leaders as part of the United Nations Millennium Declaration. But what does it mean?

In essence, tolerance is about respecting cultures, beliefs and opinions that are different from your own. It does not mean you have to like everyone you disagree with, but it does mean that you should treat them as human beings with feelings as valid as yours.

The diversity of the world’s many religions, languages, cultures and sexual identities should be cause for celebration and seen as wealth for all. People are naturally diverse and tolerance is a way to make sure that different communities can survive and flourish in all parts of the world, without fear of persecution or isolation. However, in the recent times, intolerant views and actions have resurfaced and hate crimes are rising across the world.

What can we do about this rise? Often, hatred is rooted in fear. And we are more likely to fear the things we do not understand. That is why the American author and activist Helen Keller says that “the highest result of education is tolerance”. Better education, access to information and changes in law are part of the fight against intolerance.

Try having a conversation with someone whose religion or culture is different from yours. Or if you hear someone saying something intolerant, try challenging those beliefs.

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In this video, young Muslims from Wales explain some of the intolerant and Islamophobic things that they have experienced. Why does this happen and what can be done to change it?


  1. Create an artwork (a poem, story, song or picture) inspired by the theme of tolerance.
  2. Choose a religion that is not your own, and create a fact file about its history, beliefs, and traditions.
  3. Find out more about why reported hate crimes are on the rise in certain parts of the world. Then, write a speech explaining what you think should be done to tackle the problem.