“Ultra-nationalism” promoted by governments and non-state bodies has triggered a rise in hatred against minorities, according to a new report by Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).
Countries where such hatred is on the rise include “key parts of the world” such as China, India, Pakistan and Myanmar, says ACN’s Religious Freedom in the World 2018 Report.
The report, which was based on an assessment of 196 countries, also says that while violence and intimidation are also increasing, “the West is failing to convert words of concern into action”.
According to the report, because of the lack of political action in the West, many minority groups are subjected to persecution behind a “curtain of indifference”. It also claimed that most governments have not assisted displaced minority groups wanting to return home, such as the Christians of Iraq.
The report said that “the main driver behind the growth in extremism is the growing clash between Sunni and Shi’a, the main rival branches of Islam”.
For the first time in the 19 years of producing the report, Russia and Kyrgyzstan entered it in the “discrimination” category. In the cases of some countries that have always been in the report, such as Saudi Arabia and North Korea, the situation was already at such a level “that in the period under review it was virtually impossible for it to get any worse”.
John Pontifex, Editor-in-Chief of the report, said: “Aggressive ultra-nationalism – be it by hard-line governments or violent extremist groups – means many minority faith groups feel like aliens in their own country. They are easy targets in a new era of ignorance and intolerance.”
He also said some minorities, such as Christians in Nigeria, “feel abandoned” by the West.