ACN Report on Religious Freedom Rapport 2016
“Hyper-extremism” : a threat to World Peace
Religious Fundamentalism – more lethal than ever seen before – is unleashing death, destruction, displacement and instability at unprecedented levels, according to a report out today. This is at least what is concluded in the report published today – online in Canada – by the international pontifical charity, Aid to the Church in Need.
“The Religious Freedom in the World 2016 report, produced by Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, warns of the global impact of “a new phenomenon of religiously-motivated violence,” which it terms “Islamist hyper-extremism.”
In defining this new ultra-extremism, the report highlights distinguishing features which are described as evidence of the radicals’ threat to world peace, stability and social harmony in the West.
In fact, key characteristics of “Islamist hyper-extremism” include systematic attempts to drive out all dissenting groups – including moderates, unprecedented levels of cruelty, global reach and the effective use of social media, often used to glamorize violence.
Adding its voice to calls for Daesh (ISIS) persecution to be recognized as genocide, the report’s authors warn of a widespread attempt to replace pluralism with a religious mono-culture.
Extremism threatens diversity
The report, which assesses the situation regarding religious freedom in each of the world’s 196 countries, concludes: “In parts of the Middle East including Iraq and Syria, this hyper-extremism is eliminating all forms of religious diversity and is threatening to do so in parts of African and the Asian Sub-Continent.”
This is echoed in the report’s foreword by Father Jacques Mourad, a Christian monk who was held by Daesh in Syria for five months before escaping in October 2015.
Fr Mourad writes: “Our world teeters on the brink of complete catastrophe as extremism threatens to wipe out all trace of diversity in society.”
This 13th biennial report, which draws on research by journalists, academics and clergy, records that in the two-year period under review from June 2014 to June 2016, attacks linked to “hyper-extremism” had taken place in one out of five countries worldwide (or 20%) – from Australia to Sweden as well as 17 African countries.
Countering the popular view that governments are mostly to blame for persecution, the report puts the blame on non-state militants in 12 of the 23 worst-offending countries. With refugee numbers at a new high of 65.3 million according to the United Nations, the report describes extremist Islamism as a “key driver” in the massive displacement of people fleeing countries such as Afghanistan, Somalia and Syria.
Some slight improvement
The Aid to the Church in Need report goes on to highlight the ‘domino effect’ on countries in the West whose socio-religious fabric is being destabilized by the arrival of unprecedented numbers of refugees.
Such problems are, according to the report, compounded by the West falling victim to a sudden increase in fundamentalist Islamist attacks.
According to the report, however, not all problems regarding religious freedom are to do with militant Islam – with a “renewed crackdown” on religious groups reported in China and Turkmenistan and an ongoing denial of human rights for people of faith in worst-offending North Korea and Eritrea where human-rights are practically non-existent.
Nor is the outlook universally bleak – looking at Bhutan, Egypt and Qatar, countries notorious for religious freedom violations, the report found that the situation had improved for faith minorities during the period under review.
This is the 13th edition of this report produced by Aid to the Church in Need. The charity provides emergency aid and help for persecuted and other suffering Christians in 140 countries around the world.
* The ‘Religious Freedom in the World’ 2016 report’
is available at www.acn-aed-ca.org/religious-freedom-report