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Christianity is the most persecuted faith globally, report says
A newly released report says that Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world, and violence against Christians continues to rise.
The 2010 report on religious freedom by Aid to the Church in Need said that religious freedom has declined globally and faces greater threat today than two years before—especially for Christians, according to Rome Reports.
The ACN, a Catholic organization, publishes a religious freedom report every two years. Its 2010 report said seven out of ten people, or some 200 million, are affected, Rome Reports said.
Social, political persecution
The ACN report includes information from 195 dossiers covering 194 countries, 21 of which have hardly any freedom of religion at all. Two kinds of religious persecution were noted: First, social persecution by members of other religions, and second, persecution by political policy, Rome Reports said.
Peter Sefton Williams, CAN chairman said social persecution is acute in some Muslim majority countries, mentioning “Places like Saudi Arabia where it’s impossible for any Christian or any non-Muslim group to organize and to have open public prayer. We think of places like Somalia, or we think of Sudan,” according to Rome Reports.
Williams said political discrimination and oppression of Christianity and other minority faiths prevails in China, North Korea, Vietnam and Cuba, all communist countries, to name a few, according to Rome Reports.
The report cited a 2009 rise in both ethnic and religious violence in India. There is greater discrimination however in Pakistan, where the blasphemy law is used by Muslim fundamentalists against Christians and other minorities AsiaNews said.
Under the blasphemy law it is illegal to speak against the Quran or Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. Most of those charged with blasphemy are poor and cannot pay for their defense. Penalty can range from imprisonment to death, according to Rome Reports.
So far Pakistan’s government has not executed anyone for blasphemy, although radicals have killed defendants extra-legally. But the case of Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi, who was recently sentenced to death, may set dangerous precedence, AsiaNews said.
In Afghanistan, the government cannot effectively promote freedom of religion. In Bangladesh Islam is the state religion and minority attacks have been plentifully recorded with no action taken by local security, according to AsiaNews.
The report said that in officially atheist China, “religious freedom is denied in all its facets,” and information is limited and hard to get. Of record is the arrest and detention in a concentration camp of Mgr. Julius Jia Zhiguo, an underground bishop from Hebei, for 15 months, AsiaNews reported.
In Iraq, escalating ethnic cleansing of Christians and their systematic persecution was noted. Other countries mentioned were Lebanon, and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, AsiaNews said.
Northern Africa was noted for both political and social persecution, particularly in Somalia citing this “both in the legislation of the majority of them and in the widespread mentality among the majority of the population,” The Way reported.
In Somalia Islam is the main religion and minority faiths undergo persecution and social marginalization. Another country mentioned for persecution of Christians and faith minorities is Egypt, despite its being a tourist destination, AsiaNews said.
Europe, the U.S.
The report also cited a decline in religious freedom in the U.S. and Europe due to secularism, especially in Spain where religious symbols are not allowed in public places, Rome Reports said.
According to Rome Reports, in France Islamic communities are discriminated against. In Germany, Catholics are discriminated against because of family issues including their prolife stance.