Libertad religiosa

Five years ago, Islamic State fighters invaded my ancestral homeland of Sinjar, Iraq, and waged a systematic ethnic-cleansing campaign against the Yazidi community. Their campaign included mass executions, forced religious conversions and widespread sexual violence. These attacks resulted in the massacre of aaa men, women and children; the enslavement of nearly 7,000 Yazidis; and displacement of more than 400,000 Yazidis to camps in northern Iraq.

But that was not the end of our suffering. As Sheri P. Rosenberg observed in a 2012 article, genocide is a process, not an event. The continued suffering, fear and uncertainty in the Yazidi community show that the genocide process is ongoing.…  Seguir leyendo »

En rugby no existe el gol en contra, pero Rugby Australia (el organismo rector de este deporte en Australia) hizo todo lo posible por anotar uno, al terminar el contrato de Israel Folau. Con ello, se perdió los servicios de un fullback estrella que jugó 73 partidos para Australia.

La razón que adujo Rugby Australia para poner fin a la carrera de Folau es que publicó en su cuenta de Instagram la foto de un impreso que decía: “borrachos, homosexuales, adúlteros, mentirosos, fornicarios, ladrones, ateos e idólatras, el infierno os espera”. A lo que Folau agregó algunas palabras propias: “Quienes viven en el Pecado acabarán en el Infierno a menos que se arrepientan.…  Seguir leyendo »

L’arrivée le 8 mai d’Asia Bibi au Canada marque le dénouement d’une affaire qui durait depuis dix ans, et qui témoigne du retour de la question du blasphème dans nos sociétés contemporaines. En 2009, cette villageoise chrétienne se dispute avec des femmes musulmanes qui lui reprochent d’avoir souillé l’eau réservée aux musulmans. Asia Bibi est accusée d’avoir alors insulté le prophète Muhammad. Condamnée à mort, elle sera acquittée huit ans plus tard.

Au Pakistan, l’affaire a suscité des manifestations de masse pour exiger son exécution. Cette susceptibilité pakistanaise à l’égard du blasphème trouve ses origines au XIXe iècle avec l’introduction par les Britanniques d’un code pénal pour l’Inde coloniale.…  Seguir leyendo »

¿Es necesario reflexionar hoy sobre la libertad religiosa?, ¿qué ha cambiado en el mundo desde 1965, cuando el Concilio Vaticano II aprobó la declaración «Dignitatis Humanae»? La Comisión Teológica Internacional se ha preguntado por las transformaciones de la civilización global desde entonces. Su reciente documento «La libertad religiosa para el bien de todos» nos ayuda a entender cuáles son las oportunidades de las que goza y los riesgos que corre este derecho fundamental hoy día. Para empezar, ha cambiado la percepción de la religión en sí misma. El fenómeno religioso sigue presente en el mundo globalizado de un modo muy significativo, diferente de lo que se preveía a mediados del siglo XX.…  Seguir leyendo »

Moroccan and Israeli Jews celebrating Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, at a synagogue in the Jewish quarter of Marrakesh in 2017. Credit Fadel Senna/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

On a recent balmy spring afternoon, a group of Muslim Moroccan students visited Rabbi Akiba, a jewelbox of a synagogue down an arched passageway in the Siaghine area of Tangier. Constructed in the mid-19th century, the synagogue underwent a meticulous renovation and recently reopened as a museum.

The students peered at the polished marble floors from the women’s balcony and examined a threadbare, hand-drawn map of the synagogues in the neighborhood. The tour of Rabbi Akiba is just one of many ways that Muslim students in Morocco are learning about their country’s Jewish heritage.

While Judaism in the Middle East and North Africa often evokes images of hostility, in Morocco, where we were born and raised, in Jewish (Ms.…  Seguir leyendo »

Religious tolerance in Bahrain

Bahrain has been a crossroads of commerce and culture since the ancient Greeks. Today, it remains a melting pot, the tolerant home to many religions and ethnicities. Christians, Hindus, Jews and others worship openly alongside their Muslim brothers. All cultures are respected.

Pope Francis’ recent visit to the United Arab Emirates — the first by any pope to the Gulf region — was remarkable. As Vatican flags flew on the peninsula where Islam was born, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church joined a prominent imam to preach love, peace and religious pluralism.

This inspiring message should reverberate around the world and encourage the world to look at the region a little closer than they have.…  Seguir leyendo »

This country has a poor record of protecting its religious minorities, but we outdo ourselves when it comes to Ahmadis. Members of the sect insist on calling themselves Muslims, and we mainstream Muslims insist on treating them like the worst kind of heretics.

The day I wrote this piece, a small headline in a newspaper informed me that an Ahmadi lawyer, his wife and two-year-old child had been shot dead by gunmen at home, for being Ahmadis. Killings like this have happened so many times that the story wasn’t even the main news. On May 28, 2010, some 90 Ahmadis were killed during attacks on two mosques in Lahore.…  Seguir leyendo »

Two years ago, in a village just north of the town of Sittwe in western Myanmar, I met a young man who spoke of a friendship with a Muslim boy that was no longer. Over several days in June 2012, that village and others nearby in Rakhine State had served as a wellspring for mobs of Buddhists who, armed with sticks, machetes, and cans of gasoline, laid waste to a predominantly Muslim neighborhood in the center of Sittwe.

The young man, in his mid-twenties when we met, had been away when the attack happened. But he knew many of his neighbors had boarded the buses that shuttled the mobs into Sittwe, where they razed Muslim homes and sent thousands of Rohingya Muslims fleeing to displacement camps, and he sympathized with their decision to do so.…  Seguir leyendo »

Among Westerners, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is often mentioned as a paragon of liberty, in the same breath as Mandela and Gandhi, thanks to her decades-long campaign against Myanmar’s kleptocratic military junta. But to the Rohingya, the Muslim minority now fleeing Myanmar (formerly Burma) by the tens of thousands, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and the country’s political leader is the embodiment of evil.

Abdul Kalam is one of the Rohingya. A 33-year-old farmer, he was shot in the leg on Aug. 27 by Burmese soldiers as he fled his home in the coastal village of Maungdaw with his wife, children and neighbors.…  Seguir leyendo »

The conversion of Muslims to liberalism, secularism or atheism has become something of a meme in the West, with arguments raging among scholars, in the press and on social media about the possibility of Islam’s undergoing a “reformation” or becoming “modern,” for which the history of Christianity is supposed to provide a universal blueprint.

It is the almost religious tenor of such transformations that justifies the term “conversion” for them. The single-minded adoption of such profane identities may even be more theological than Muslim conversions to Christianity and other faiths, suggesting that they have now replaced churches and temples in representing religious forms of belief.…  Seguir leyendo »

Rizieq Shihab may be the most controversial public figure in Indonesia today. Admired by many, reviled by others, the Great Imam of a leading hardline Muslim organization is wanted for pornography.

Mr. Rizieq heads an organization no less controversial than he: the Islamic Defenders Front (in Bahasa, Front Pembela Islam, or F.P.I.), which is best known for promoting the application of Shariah throughout Indonesia, sometimes with hate speech. He rides around in a Jeep Rubicon, wearing all-white robes, his left hand on a microphone, his right index finger pointing to the sky. He sermonizes in a deep, strident voice and leads demonstrations, often violent, against bars and clubs and other places he calls “immoral.”

Early this year, he also led massive protests against the governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, commonly known as Ahok, claiming, among other things, that non-Muslims can’t lead Muslims.…  Seguir leyendo »

In 2012 I was arrested for the first time. I was 54 years old — a mother, an executive and a leader of my community. My crime? Praying while wearing a tallit, a Jewish prayer shawl, at the Western Wall. My father, an immigrant to Israel of German descent, never got a parking ticket. He would have rolled in his grave if he knew his daughter was being cuffed and fingerprinted by the Israeli police.

In the years since, I have been arrested on four other occasions for the same crime. So have my friends — other members of Women of the Wall, the feminist organization I lead — which for the past 28 years has defied fundamentalist religious decree by wearing prayer shawls and reading the Torah, rituals traditionally restricted to men, at the Western Wall at the beginning of every Jewish month.…  Seguir leyendo »

Más de 50 millones de personas en el mundo son perseguidas por sus creencias, lo que iguala el número de refugiados de toda la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Esta es la principal conclusión de un Informe Internacional sobre libertad religiosa, presentado recientemente (Fundación Ayuda a la Iglesia que Sufre, julio 2016) en la Universidad colombiana de La Sabana. Tras un ligero repunte a la baja -indica el Pew Forum en sus informes de abril de 2017- las restricciones impuestas a la libertad religiosa en muchos países parecen incrementarse.

El cristianismo, la religión con más seguidores del mundo es, paradójicamente, una de las más perseguidas.…  Seguir leyendo »

“At this rate Copts will be extinct in 100 years. They will die, leave, convert or get killed,” a friend wrote on Facebook as news broke of the latest bloody attack on Egypt’s Coptic Christians. Less than two months ago, while attending church in Cairo on Palm Sunday, my friend told me she’d mused to herself that it was a blessing her daughter wasn’t with her: If there was a bombing, at least her child would survive. Forty-five Copts were murdered that day by the Islamic State in churches in Alexandria and Tanta. Such are the thoughts of Coptic parents in Egypt these days.…  Seguir leyendo »

When Pope Francis visited Egypt last month, he called on the leaders of the Muslim world “to unmask the violence that masquerades as purported sanctity.” This was timely: Just a few weeks before, on Palm Sunday, Egypt’s Coptic Christian community had been viciously hit by suicide bombers enlisted by the so-called Islamic State. That bloody episode was just one of many instances of violence and harassment that Middle Eastern Christians have faced recently. The latest came on Friday, when gunmen attacked a convoy of Copts in Upper Egypt, leaving at least 26 people dead.

The wave of persecution is so severe that some fear it may bring about the end of Christianity in the region where it was born two millenniums ago.…  Seguir leyendo »

The reports are greatly exaggerated: Liberal, multicultural democracy in Indonesia isn’t dead yet.

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who is commonly called “Ahok,” recently lost the gubernatorial election in Jakarta, the capital, after his rivals waged an ugly campaign against his ethnicity and his religion: Indonesia is a majority-Muslim country, and Ahok is ethnic Chinese and Christian. Then this week he was handed an especially harsh prison sentence for a dubious charge of blasphemy.

Ahok’s loss at the polls came as a surprise. Jakarta’s governor since 2014, he was well known and well liked for his administration’s efforts to fix the city’s failing infrastructure, among other things.…  Seguir leyendo »

Egipto fue la cuna de la antigua civilización egipcia, que junto con la mesopotámica fue el origen de la historia de la humanidad. Egipto posee hoy una población cercana a los ochenta millones de habitantes, conformando una sociedad multiétnica, multicultural y multirreligiosa. El grupo étnico más importante es el árabe (88 por ciento), seguido por coptos (10), beréberes, nubios, beduinos y beja (2). La religión predominante es el islam suní (90 por ciento), y los cristianos coptos tomados en conjunto –ortodoxos, católicos y otros (10 por ciento)– son el grupo más numeroso después de los islámicos (cerca de 8.000.000 habitantes).

Los cristianos coptos son fruto de las predicaciones de san Marcos, el apóstol de Jesús, que llegó a Alejandría entre los años 40 y 49 y donde encontró el martirio el 24 de abril del año 68.…  Seguir leyendo »

Vivimos tiempos en que se predica la tolerancia hacia cualquier doctrina porque el relativismo imperante convierte a todas en equivalentes, pero la virtud de la tolerancia consiste en que, conociendo la verdad, se respeta a la persona que vive o sostiene el error, no por el propio error sino por la persona que lo padece. La tolerancia siempre se dirige a las personas, nunca a los conceptos.

A lo largo de la historia las ideas de tolerancia e intolerancia han estado claramente definidas y los actos respondían a ese conocimiento: durante la Edad Media española, los monarcas, acendrados cristianos, fueron los casi únicos defensores del pueblo hebreo, fueron tolerantes con ellos no con su doctrina hasta que en aras de la unidad exigida por el Estado recién nacido, Fernando e Isabel –que se habían apoyado en numerosos personajes conversos– mudaron a intolerantes y decretaron la expulsión de los judíos, y fueron intolerantes con las personas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hundreds of crosses have been removed from churches and buildings across China.

How bad is religious persecution in China?

This is a question I’ve thought a lot about over the past few years. Since 2010 I’ve been working on a project documenting a religious revival in China, and seen new churches, temples, and mosques open each year, attracting millions of new worshipers.

But I’ve also seen how religion is tightly proscribed.

Only five religious groups are allowed to exist in China: Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, Protestantism and Catholicism. The government controls the appointment of major religious figures, and decides where places of worship can be built. It tries to influence theology and limits contacts overseas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Religious differences run deep in our pluralistic world. It may come as no surprise that such disagreements sometimes end up in violence.

Yet that rarely is the case in what might be called Christendom. Indeed, in large part there is little discrimination let alone persecution against spiritual minorities in majority Christian nations. The exceptions tend to be countries that suffered under communism or other authoritarian forms of rule.

In contrast, brutal mistreatment of religious minorities of all faiths is the norm in majority Muslim countries. The degree of harm varies—Christians live better in the small Gulf States than in Saudi Arabia, for instance, where not a single church is allowed to exist.…  Seguir leyendo »