A chilling new report on the state of religious freedom throughout the world has denounced the rise of “Islamist hyper-extremism in the Middle East,” while offering a bleak assessment of the state of religious freedom across the globe.
In its 2016 report titled “Religious Freedom in the World,” the Christian foundation Aid to the Church in Need states that the period under review has seen “the emergence of new phenomenon of religiously motivated violence which can be described as Islamist hyper extremism, a process of heightened radicalisation, unprecedented in its violent expression.”
This Islamist hyper-extremism, the report notes, is characterized by an extremist creed and a radical system of law, systematic attempts to annihilate or expel all groups that do not conform to their outlook, cruel treatment of victims, effective use of the latest social media, and well-resourced support networks.
This new phenomenon has had a “toxic impact” on religious liberty around the world, the report adds, with violent Islamist attacks taking place in one in five countries around the world – from Sweden to Australia and including 17 African nations, since mid-2014.
In parts of the Middle East, including Syria and Iraq, “this hyper-extremism is eliminating all forms of religious diversity and is threatening to do so in parts of Africa and the Asian Sub-Continent,” the report states.
Another important component of the fallout of the rise in Islamic hyper-extremism has been “the sudden explosion of refugees which, according to United Nations figures for the year 2015, went up by 5.8 million to a new high of 65.3 million.”
In the West, this hyper-extremism risks “destabilising the socio-religious fabric, with countries sporadically targeted by fanatics and under pressure to receive unprecedented numbers of refugees mostly of a different faith to the indigenous communities.”
Non-state actors such as the ISIS, rather than legitimate governments, are responsible for persecution in 12 of the 23 worst-offending countries, the study found.
Alarming also is the report’s finding that within the period under review, “religious liberty has declined in 11 – nearly half – of the 23 worst-offending countries.”
Christians have not been the only ones to suffer from the rise in Islamic hyper-extremism, and there has been an “upsurge of anti-Semitic attacks, notably in parts of Europe,” the report states.
Meanwhile, countries such as India, Pakistan, and Burma have introduced “more stringent religious freedom restrictions on minority faith groups, increasing obstacles for conversion and imposing greater sanctions for blasphemy.”
In the same period, China has experienced “a renewed crackdown on religious groups that refuse to follow the party line,” and “more than 2,000 churches have had their crosses demolished in Zheijang and nearby provinces.”
In the worst offending countries, including North Korea and Eritrea, “the ongoing penalty of religious expression is the complete denial of rights and liberties such as long term incarceration without fair trial, rape and murder,” the report states.
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