WORLDWIDE – Religious persecution pandemic needs cure, too

The Washington Times | Tina Ramirez | Monday, April 27, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic and its quarantine are taking a huge toll on our lives. The freedom of worship, association, movement and expression — basic freedoms engrained in who we are as Americans – have all been stifled.

Yet, we hold onto the hope that those basic freedoms and comforts in life will return some day. But for hundreds of millions around the globe, who suffer religious persecution and violence, such luxuries and normalcy are as foreign to them as the coronavirus-induced interruption of daily life is to us.

Simply because they believe differently, extremists and governments persecute, imprison and kill people of faith on a daily basis. Even neighbors, with whom we take comfort in these times, pose a threat to people of different beliefs across the globe.

Sadly, this pandemic of religious intolerance and persecution is growing — spreading faster and further every year. More than 8 out of every 10 people live in a place where governments put severe restrictions on freedom of religion and belief. In the last decade, social hostility against religious communities has almost doubled globally.  

In Communist China, the government controls what people can believe and even how they can worship. Dissenters are sent to forced re-education through labor camps where they face torture and organ harvesting.

Since 2011, the Nigerian Islamic terror group, Boko Haram, has killed more than 37,000 people and displaced 2.5 million more. Christian villages are attacked and churches bombed regularly — sowing fear among weekly worshippers as they gather and move from village to village.

Recently, sectarian violence in India saw neighbors turn on neighbors. In New Delhi, riots killed dozens of Indian-born Muslims and forced hundreds to flee with all of their possessions. One Muslim victim said, “We will never come back here to live among Hindus … The divide between Hindus and Muslims is unbridgeable now.”