Une tragĂ©die en cours : Le dĂ©clin de la diversitĂ© religieuse au Moyen-Orient

Billet de Blog par Lord Alton of Liverpool

La rĂ©gion du Moyen-Orient et de l’Afrique du Nord (MOAN) connait un dĂ©clin significatif de la diversitĂ© religieuse depuis ces derniĂšres annĂ©es. Si les anciennes communautĂ©s chrĂ©tiennes ont rĂ©guliĂšrement souffert par le passĂ©, aucun groupe religieux n’est cependant Ă©pargnĂ© par la tragĂ©die actuelle ; les ahmadis, les bahaĂŻs, les juifs, les yazidis et les zoroastriens ont tous Ă©tĂ© touchĂ©s, ainsi que les musulmans chiites et sunnites. Pour de multiples raisons, dans plusieurs pays de la rĂ©gion, des communautĂ©s minoritaires ayant des racines profondes remontant Ă  plusieurs gĂ©nĂ©rations sont contraintes de quitter leurs terres ancestrales.

Irak et Syrie: Un cycle de violences sans fin

Depuis 2003, le nombre de chrĂ©tiens et de yazidis en Irak a considĂ©rablement diminuĂ©. Des milliers d’entre eux ont Ă©tĂ© tuĂ©s et des centaines de milliers ont Ă©migrĂ© Ă  cause du terrorisme et de la violence sectaire. Ils ne reviendront jamais.

En 2014, l’État islamique (EI) a conquis Mossoul et les plaines de Ninive. Des milliers d’hommes, de femmes et d’enfants non sunnites ont Ă©tĂ© tuĂ©s ou rĂ©duits en esclavage. Une Ă©tude, rĂ©alisĂ©e par la Public Library of Science, estime que 3 100 yazidis ont Ă©tĂ© tuĂ©s en quelques jours aprĂšs l’attaque de 2014. Au cours des annĂ©es suivantes, des dizaines de milliers de chrĂ©tiens irakiens ont Ă©migrĂ© vers les pays voisins ; le nombre des chrĂ©tiens restant en Irak est aujourd’hui estimĂ© Ă  250 000 contre 2,5 millions avant l’invasion de 2003.

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“We are not safe anymore”: Burma’s coup shatters hopes for democracy, religious tolerance and human rights

By Benedict Rogers

Images of tanks and soldiers on the streets of Burma’s cities, and the sound of gunfire against peaceful protesters take us back in time almost 14 years, and reverse a decade of fragile reform and democratization in the country. From the scenes of her release from house arrest in November 2010 via her talks with Burma’s then-President Thein Sein in August 2011, and through to her subsequent election to Parliament, victory in a nationwide election and the past five years as de facto head of government, Aung San Suu Kyi is now back where she started: in detention.

The generals have remained in power throughout, but now they have abandoned any pretense and seized direct control once more.

The coup on 1 February stunned the world. Although it had been rumoured, few expected the military to really do it. It is true that the army in Burma has a history of staging coups – in 1958, 1962 and 1988 – and it isn’t keen on losing elections, as it showed in 1990 when it refused to accept Suu Kyi’s first victory, consigning her to 15 years under house arrest, and her colleagues to prison or exile. In 2008 it drafted a new constitution designed to keep Suu Kyi out of power, rammed it through in a sham referendum and two years later heavily rigged the country’s first elections in two decades. Nevertheless, since then it had appeared that the military had come to some kind of accommodation with Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD).

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An unfolding tragedy: The decline of religious diversity in the Middle East

By Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has seen a significant decline in religious diversity in recent years. While ancient Christian communities have often suffered, practically no religious group has been safe from this ongoing tragedy, with Ahmadis, Baha’is, Jews, Yazidis and Zoroastrians all affected, as well as both Shia and Sunni Muslims. For a host of reasons, in several countries in the region, minority communities who have deep roots going back several generations are being forced to leave their ancestral lands.

Iraq and Syria: Unending violence

Since 2003, the numbers of Christians and Yazidis in Iraq have both dropped significantly. Thousands have been killed and hundreds of thousands have emigrated because of terrorism and sectarian violence. They will never return.

In 2014, the Islamic State (IS) captured Mosul and the Nineveh Plains. Thousands of non-Sunni men, women and children were either killed or enslaved. One study, by the Public Library of Science, estimates that 3,100 Yazidis were killed in a matter of days following the 2014 attack. Tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians subsequently emigrated to neighbouring countries over the following years, with their number now estimated at 250,000, down from 2.5 million before the 2003 invasion.

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Abandoning human rights for identity politics in Sri Lanka

During an address to senior Buddhists leaders at the Vibhajjavadi Dhamma Symposium and Maha Tripitaka Pooja on 4 January, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa stated that the defence of the Buddhist order is central to ensuring unity and the protection of religious freedom of Sri Lankans who profess other faiths. Just one day prior, his brother, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa pledged his commitment before parliament to protect and nurture the Buddha Sasana as part of his government’s policy. In the Sri Lankan context this is often understood as the ‘physical bounds of the land consecrated by the Buddha.’ 

Buddhism is enshrined in the Constitution of Sri Lanka. Article 9 states: “The Republic of Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana,” while assuring the freedom of thought, conscience and religion to everyone. Furthermore, with a 2003 Supreme Court ruling which affirms that only Buddhism should be protected by the state, Sri Lanka established in law that there is no constitutional guarantee that other religions will receive similar protection.

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The face of Hindu Rashtra in India – Towards a majoritarian state

Almost eight months since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was elected for a second term on promises of economic development, the BJP and its ideological ally the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) have instead focused their attentions on a familiar theme – fuelling communal tensions.

This time the alliance has made an unprecedented attack on the nation’s foundational tenets: the Indian Constitution. India is currently being ruled by a regime of executive orders and polarising policies, which are being used to manoeuvre around issues of race, religion and identity.

Violent integration: Jammu and Kashmir (J&K)

On 5 August 2019, possibly one of the darkest days in India’s history, Home Minister Amit Shah tabled a motion in Parliament to abrogate Article 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution. The move essentially stripped Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) of the degree of autonomy the region had enjoyed since its secession to India on 26 October 1947.

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