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Amnesty International details threats to religious freedom

Pakistan protest against burning churches

RIZWAN TABASSUM | AFP

John Burger - published on 04/26/24

Group cites examples in South Asia, Middle East, and Eastern Europe.

Religious freedom, along with many other liberties, has been under increasing threat throughout the world, says a new report from Amnesty International.

The human rights organization published “The State of the World’s Human Rights 2023/2024” on Tuesday, and while Amnesty International continues its advocacy for abortion, homosexuality, and transgenderism, it does not ignore the threats to religious freedom it finds around the world.

Amnesty said, for example, that in the Asia-Pacific region, freedom of religion or belief remained under threat, especially in South Asia. 

“In India, hundreds of incidents of violence and intimidation of Muslims were recorded. Violence against religious minorities was also widespread in Pakistan, where Ahmadi grave sites were desecrated, and allegations of blasphemy used to target minorities including to justify attacks against over 20 churches in a single day” [photo above], the organization summarized. “In Afghanistan, religious minorities including Shia’s and Hazara Shia’s, Sikhs, Hindus, Christians, Ahmadiyya and Ismailis faced extreme discrimination under the Taliban, who also ensured formal religious teaching was exclusively based on the Sunni sect of Islam.”

In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, it continued, discrimination and reprisals against religious minorities were common. That included Russia’s practice of imprisoning Jehovah’s Witnesses for practicing their faith not only in Russia itself but in the Ukrainian territories the Russian military is now controlling.

In Belarus, law enforcement authorities have targeted Catholic priests, while Ukrainian authorities have done likewise with clergymen of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate. 

Across the Middle East-North Africa region, meanwhile, members of racial, ethnic, national and religious communities and minorities faced discrimination in law and practice, including in relation to their rights to worship, enjoy equal access to employment and healthcare, and live free of persecution and other serious human rights abuses.

“Israel continued to entrench its extreme form of discrimination – a system of apartheid – via oppression and domination over Palestinians through territorial fragmentation, segregation and control, dispossession of land and property, and denial of economic and social rights,” Amnesty said. “This was achieved by the systematic commission of a wide range of human rights violations, including forcible transfer, administrative detention, torture, unlawful killings, denial of basic rights and freedoms, and persecution.”

In Iran, the group reports, ethnic minorities, including Ahwazi Arabs, Azerbaijani Turks, Baluchis, Kurds and Turkmen, faced discrimination, restricting their access to education, employment, adequate housing and political office. 

“Christians, Gonabadi Dervishes, Jews, Yaresan and Sunni Muslims also faced discrimination in law and practice” in Iran, Amnesty said.

Furthermore, discriminatory law in Kuwait denied the Bidun (a native stateless population) access to free state services, including education, provided to citizens. In Egypt, authorities arrested and prosecuted members of religious minorities, and people espousing beliefs not sanctioned by the state. In Libya, Tabu and Tuareg communities, denied national identity cards due to discrimination, struggled to access basic services, amid rising racism and xenophobia, Amnesty said. 

The new report also describes the growing use of artificial intelligence, spyware, and social credit systems around the world.

Tags:
Human RightsReligious FreedomWorld
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