Unfortunately, religion has become a political weapon that kills thousands of people in the modern day defying the purpose of its creation. A set of rules demarcated by a handful of human beings as the path of life on behalf of divinity is, to its contrary, claiming lives in large numbers. Islam, the religion that claims to be the most suppressed across the world is involved in the persecution of non-Muslim population, where they dominate the society. There is nothing called as a good religion, but people that are tolerant and intolerant. Due to a few extremists, the whole concept of religion poses a big threat for our existence. People in every religion are being killed, not just one. The following are the countries in which religious persecution against Christians, Muslims and Hindus top the list.
Persecution against Christians:
North Korea: Even though North Korea is an atheist state where no religion should be practiced in public, it stands on top of the Open Doors’ World Watch List – for 13 consecutive years – of nations where persecution of Christians is severe. There are four state-controlled churches in Pyongyang in which Christianity can be practised but not outside its walls. Possession of bible can land up people in jail, even though North Korea’s constitution grants freedom of religion.
Somalia: New Year and Christmas celebrations in Somalia were banned last year as it could invite trouble from militants of al-Shabab, an affiliate extremist group of Al-Qaeda. The militant group is trying to oust the West-backed government and regain its control over the lost territories. Due to their religious extremism and tribal antagonism result in the persecution of Christians, says Open Doors.
Iraq: Despite being a very old religion in existence, Christianity in Iraq is suffering major persecution taking the third position after North Korea and Somalia. Islamic State is responsible for all these violence against Christians and has evicted 70% of them in Baghdad from their homes. The Christian population of Iraq in 2003 was 1.5 million that dropped to 200,000 in 2013.
Persecution against Muslims
The list doesn’t rank the countries in terms of their severity in persecuting Muslims.
Myanmar: The Economist quoted the 1.1 million population of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state of Myanmar as the most persecuted minority community in the world. They are denied citizenship and nearly 140,000 people have been dumped into refugee camps since 2012.
USA: The Post 9-11 US administration became wary of the Muslim population and the crime rates against the community shot up. The fear of Muslims has since then become a major factor in Western politics.
China: Uyghurs, a minority ethnic community in the western Chinese province Xinjiang has been facing discrimination and denied religious freedom says Amnesty International. Uyghurs have their separatist movement and hence their religious freedom is curtailed. They are not allowed to fast during Ramadan and men not to have long beards. Women are prohibited from wearing burqa in the public. But, these restrictions are due to the separatist movement of Uyghurs, whereas Hui Muslims, a tolerant community, is not forced to refrain from practising their religion.
Tajikistan: There is no execution if you practice Islam in Tajikistan, where 80% of the population practice Sunni Islam. There are a lot of restrictions on the practices of Islam avoiding the ideology of extremism entering the minds of Tajikistan’s Muslim population. Long beards are banned and students are not allowed to spend more time in mosques during evening forgoing their academic activities. In 2011, Tajik President Emamoli Rahman signed a law that restricts men not older than 18 year from attending Friday prayers.
Persecution against Hindus:
The list doesn’t rank the countries in terms of their severity in persecuting Hindus.
Bhutan: The country that relies on Gross National Happiness than the Product has a dark side in persecuting Lhotshampa (Nepali), a Hindu community that has been living in Bhutan since 1800. More than 100,000 people of the community have become refugees living in the Nepal-Bhutan border and neither of the governments holds responsibility for the people.
Bangladesh: The Hindu population in Bangladesh have been facing persecution for a long time. In 1971 war crimes were committed against the Hindus and when the court sentenced one of the leaders responsible for the war crime to death, violence flared up against the community.
The community as minority in other countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan suffers persecution as well.
To sum up, these are only a few examples. There are a lot of other instances in which a particular community is targeted and suppressed by the dominant community. This attitude of persecution has a lot to do with our ability to tolerate pluralism and less to do with religion and its principles.
In a society, the powerful hunts the weak and this is the underlying idea behind the persecution based on religion, wherever it happens in the world. If we find reasons in these incidents to fight against each other, there will be nothing left, as Mahatma Gandhi said ‘An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind’.
Sree Narayana Guru, a holy man from India who taught the principle of Om Sahodaryam Sarvatra (Universal Brotherhood) once famously said:
‘Madham edhayalum manushyan nannaya madhi’ that is translated as ‘May whatever be the religion of man, let him be in harmony’.