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Fears Grow for Religious Minorities in 18 Nations

The situation for religious minorities in 18 countries with already-shady human rights records has further deteriorated, a new report has concluded. Published by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) on Thursday, it warns of an "especially serious decline" in China and India because of government interventions. Speaking of India, the document said: "Report after report has highlighted egregious acts of violence, each with a clearly established motive involving religious hatred. "Hard-line Hindu nationalist groups are routinely held responsible for the attacks... "Concerns have repeatedly been raised with regard to Indian security forces' complicity in the violence, or at the very least their failure to act." The founder of China Aid, Bob Fu told Premier earlier this year that Christianity is considered "foreign infiltration" in China and persecution against believers has never been worse. In composing, 'Religious Freedom in the World', ACN monitored freedoms experienced by minority faith groups across 38 countries between June 2016 and June this year. The Catholic charity blamed a rise in "religious ultra-nationalism" since 2016 for a worsening situation in Russia - where, ACN warns, anti-terrorism laws have impeded religious expression. In contrast, its report also highlights a "rapid and unexpected" resettlement by some faith minorities in parts of Iraq and Syria formerly controlled by Islamic State. It also pinpointed a "sharp decline" in acts of violence perpetrated by Al Shabaab militants in Tanzania and Kenya. The authors concludes: "There is increasing evidence of a curtain of indifference behind which vulnerable faith communities suffer, their plight ignored by a religiously illiterate West. "In the eyes of Western governments and the media, religious freedom is slipping down the human rights priority rankings, being eclipsed by issues of gender, sexuality and race."

By: Olatimehin Ololade

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