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Our World of Persecution and Intolerance

May 21, 2014 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

The 21st century is supposed to be a time of liberal enlightenment. But the reality looks very different. Instead of a world of mutual understanding and tolerance, people around the globe face spreading violence and human rights abuses. Religious persecution continues to rise.

The latest report from the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom documents the worst manifestations of this attack on the most basic liberty of conscience. Now in its 15th year, the Commission reflected on the importance of religious freedom, which “means the right of all human beings to think as they please, believe or not believe as their conscience leads, and live out their beliefs openly, peacefully, and without fear.”

Countless nations still trample religious liberty.”

The issues ultimately are not abstract and theoretical, but real and practical. Observed the USCIRF: “When religious freedom is abridged, real people—as well as their families, communities, and countries—pay a price.” People are murdered, worshipers are imprisoned, girls are kidnapped, homes are destroyed, businesses are ruined, and much more because some employ power or violence against those who believe differently.

More broadly, religious persecution operates as the proverbial canary in the mine, indicating the existence of intolerance and hatred which are incubators for violence that can undermine entire societies and spawn terrorist attacks even beyond national borders. Governments that are unwilling or unable to protect the liberty to act on the deepest held beliefs about one’s creator are unlikely to safeguard other freedoms of conscience. To betray religious liberty, explained the Commission, “is to betray human nature and well-being; to affirm it is to affirm our very humanity and its thriving.” Unfortunately, a shocking number of nations care little about human nature and even less about human thriving.

Dozens of countries abuse religious liberty. The USCIRF concentrates on the 26 worst. Sixteen are Tier 1 “Countries of Particular Concern,” which means “any country whose government engages in or tolerates particularly severe violations of religious freedom that are systematic, ongoing and egregious.”

Burma. The country is changing politically, though it remains far from a functioning democracy that respects the rule of law and protects civil liberties. Unfortunately, recent reforms “have not improved legal protections for religious freedom and have done little to curtain anti-Muslim violence, incitement and discrimination,” particularly targeting the Rohingya Muslim minority. There also was violence and discrimination against ethnic Kamans, who are Muslims, and “ethnic minority Christians faced …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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