Sri Lanka and India are facing pivotal moments, both for their future, and the future of South Asia as a whole. Both countries’ drives towards religious hegemony have left little place for Christians and Muslims, a factor which will certainly lead to more instability and intolerance in the region.
Sri Lanka: Buddhist
Sri Lanka was the site of the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings, in
which over 250 people were killed when terrorists targeted a number of churches
and hotels across the country. In the aftermath of the bombings, there were
reports of violent attacks against Muslims and an increase in anti-Muslim
prejudice. Some reprisals against the Muslim population have been carried out
by Christians, in contrast to the previous relative harmony between the two
communities as they both battled intolerance from sections of the Sinhalese
Furthermore, Buddhist nationalist groups such as the Bodu
Bala Sena (BBS), who have been portraying Islam as a threat to both Buddhism
and Sri Lanka for years, consider their stance vindicated by the bombings.
Continue reading “A Fork in the Road: What lies ahead for religious minorities in Sri Lanka, India and South Asia?”
No case highlights the fervour and frustration associated with blasphemy more than that of Asia Noreen (better known as Asia Bibi), the Pakistani Christian woman who was falsely accused of blasphemy and sentenced to death in 2010.
Throughout Bibi’s protracted legal case, the worst instincts
of certain sections of Pakistani society were brought to the fore and played
out in national and international media as Islamist groups staged violent
demonstrations calling for her execution on multiple occasions, even after her conviction
was overturned by
the Supreme Court in 2018. Following a nine-year ordeal, Asia Bibi
and her family were eventually taken to Canada to start a new life, but for many
other victims their fate is less hopeful, and they are left languishing under
long jail sentences, prolonged when cases are adjourned without hearing.
Continue reading “Long read: The forgotten faces and hidden history of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws”
In recent weeks Hong Kong has
seen unprecedented protests in which over one million demonstrators have taken
to the streets to protest a controversial extradition bill that would allow the
extradition of suspected criminals to Mainland China. On 9 July the city’s
leader, Carrie Lam, declared that the bill was ‘dead,’ however some
protesters remain concerned that the bill is still on the official agenda
and has not been formally withdrawn.
Near the beginning of the protests CSW spoke with a Chinese pastor who explained the main concerns regarding the bill, and what the bill may indicate about the general direction for freedom of religion or belief in Hong Kong.
Continue reading “Quick read: Hong Kong protests – an interview with a Chinese pastor”
groups in China are currently experiencing what has been referred to as
severe crackdown on freedom of religion or belief since the Cultural Revolution.
This is a composite account constructed from real stories of Christians in
China. Similar things have happened, but we have changed the details.
it finally happened. As soon as I entered the lecture hall and sat down, I
could feel the professor’s eyes on me. After class started she didn’t give me a
second glance, but even so, when she called my name and told me to stay behind
afterwards, I wasn’t surprised. I guess I’ve been expecting this for a while.
need to talk to you about your Bible study group”, she said.
it’s more like a discussion group. We read a passage from the Bible, and then
we talk about its meaning and what we think it means for our own lives.
Sometimes we talk about social issues as well, it just comes naturally. But
there would be no point explaining all this to my professor. It would only make
Continue reading “China: Lili’s Story”
As Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) starts its second innings in government after one of the most bitter, vicious and polarising election campaigns India has witnessed, he has been speaking of an aspirational and inclusive India.
BJP-led coalition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) secured 350 seats of the
542 seats in the Lok Shaba
(parliamentary) elections, with their majority growing from 25% in 2009 to 45%
in 2019. Given the BJP’s Hindu nationalist agenda, this success gives rise to
concerns that BJP-controlled areas may be subject to increased FoRB violations.
With exceptions in the south, for example in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Puducherry, the BJP made fresh progress in West Bengal and Odhisa, and continued to tighten its grip on existing stronghold states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Despite the Southern states remaining largely free from the BJP, FoRB monitoring in the South will need to be stepped up, particularly with the party’s win in West Bengal and Odhisa, states that have recorded a rise in FoRB violations.
Continue reading “The promise of an inclusive India?”