Religious Persecution On The Rise
This excerpt is from an article by Doug Bandow of the Cato Intitute published in The Korea Times. It details research by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life that indicates religious persecution is growing globally.
9/29/2011 United States (Cato Institute) – History was supposed to have ended. Alas, rather than celebrating the triumph of democratic capitalism, the world appears to be dividing between generally liberal Western-oriented states and a gaggle of authoritarian systems united only in their disdain for individual freedom and dignity.
It is not just democratic politics and free markets which are under attack. A new study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found increasing restrictions on religious liberty between 2006 and 2009.
The latest Pew survey found that “more than 2.2 billion people — about a third of the world’s population — live in countries where government restrictions or social hostilities involving religion are increasing. About 1 percent lives in countries where government restrictions or social hostilities are decreasing.”
In many cases the limits are significant. Pew said, “The number of countries in which governments used at least some measure of force against religious groups or individuals rose from 91 (46 percent) in the period ending in mid-2008 to 101 (51 percent) in the period ending in mid-2009. This violence was wide-ranging, including individuals being killed, physically abused, imprisoned, detained or displaced from their homes, as well as damage to or destruction of personal or religious properties.”
Moreover, Pew reported that the number of nations in which private violence and other crimes occurred was largely unchanged at 142, but “the number of countries that experienced mob violence related to religion rose from 38 (19 percent) as of mid-2008 to 52 (26 percent) as of mid-2009.” Unofficial persecution often is the most difficult form of abuse to combat, since governments often disclaim responsibility.
These are astonishing, even horrifying, findings in what is supposed to be an enlightened age. The situation improved in 12 countries, stayed the same in 163 countries, and worsened in 23 countries.
However, the numbers are far worse when it comes to population. Just 1 percent of people enjoyed greater religious freedom. Those finding no change accounted for 67 percent. An incredible 32 percent of the population was worse off.
The most serious problem remains countries with Islamic majorities or some provinces with Islamic majorities. Those which suffered increases in government persecution or social attacks included Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Nigeria, and Pakistan. The only other category of nation evidencing obvious hostility toward religion is communist or former communist: persecution and/or hostility increased in China, Vietnam, and Russia.