Billet de Blog par Lord Alton of Liverpool
La région du Moyen-Orient et de l’Afrique du Nord (MOAN) connait un déclin significatif de la diversité religieuse depuis ces dernières années. Si les anciennes communautés chrétiennes ont régulièrement souffert par le passé, aucun groupe religieux n’est cependant épargné par la tragédie actuelle ; les ahmadis, les bahaïs, les juifs, les yazidis et les zoroastriens ont tous été touchés, ainsi que les musulmans chiites et sunnites. Pour de multiples raisons, dans plusieurs pays de la région, des communautés minoritaires ayant des racines profondes remontant à plusieurs générations sont contraintes de quitter leurs terres ancestrales.
Irak et Syrie: Un cycle de violences sans fin
Depuis 2003, le nombre de chrétiens et de yazidis en Irak a considérablement diminué. Des milliers d’entre eux ont été tués et des centaines de milliers ont émigré à 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 été tués ou réduits en esclavage. Une étude, réalisée par la Public Library of Science, estime que 3 100 yazidis ont été tués en quelques jours après l’attaque de 2014. Au cours des années suivantes, des dizaines de milliers de chrétiens irakiens ont émigré vers les pays voisins ; le nombre des chrétiens restant en Irak est aujourd’hui estimé à 250 000 contre 2,5 millions avant l’invasion de 2003.
Continue reading “Une tragédie en cours : Le déclin de la diversité religieuse au Moyen-Orient”
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.
Continue reading “An unfolding tragedy: The decline of religious diversity in the Middle East”
While an estimated 69 countries across the globe possess blasphemy laws of some kind, no geographical region has as many countries with such laws as the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Furthermore, in many of these countries the penalties for committing the ‘crime’ of blasphemy are among the most severe.
In Iran, for example, anyone who insults the ‘Great Prophet … or any of the Great Prophets’ of Islam can be sentenced to death under Article 262 of the Penal Code. In Egypt, the crime of “inciting strife, ridiculing or insulting a heavenly religion or a sect following it, or damaging national unity” is punishable by up to five years imprisonment under Article 98(f) of the Penal Code.
What are blasphemy laws?
Blasphemy laws criminalise actions, often emitted in speech, writing or art deemed defamatory to a certain religion, offensive against religious figures or harmful to religious feelings. They also criminalise actions such as the disruption of religious services and the desecration of religious sites.
Continue reading “The relationship between blasphemy laws and religious extremism in the Middle East and North Africa”
In November 2018, seven Coptic Christians were killed and 18 injured when terrorists attacked the bus they were travelling in to visit the Monastery of Anba Samuel the Confessor in Minya, Upper Egypt. The attack took place in the same location where 28 Coptic Christians were killed and 23 injured less than 18 months previously by masked gunmen who opened fire on the vehicles they were travelling in.
These violent attacks are part of a wider, longer term pattern of religious discrimination and persecution faced by Egypt’s Coptic community. The term ‘persecution’ is not used lightly; according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, persecution is ‘the intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights contrary to international law by reason of the identity of the group or collectivity.’
Continue reading “Long read: The history of religious persecution in Egypt”
The Arab Spring reignited a debate within the Middle East and in academic circles about the universality of human rights and their compatibility, or incompatibility, with culture and religion. Although the Arab Spring was marked by the rise of Political Islam movements, it also opened the door to discussions on topics that had long been taboo, such as sectarianism, racism and gender equality in the Arab world.
Constitutions, laws, education systems and even art and sport are viewed through the lens of religion, and every effort is made to ensure that these elements of society comply with religious norms and symbolism.
Sectarianism remains a powerful political, social and cultural force, and the source of most conflicts in the Middle East. Many of the current conflicts in the region have deep historical roots – most notably the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict and the Sunni-Shi’a division.
Continue reading “Religious Identity and Conflict in the Middle East”