Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Minarets Syndrome: Don't Forget How Are Synagogues And Churches Faring In Moslem Lands?

Much has been made--and only been made--about the Swiss referendum and how that reflects religious discrimination. This would be as good a time as any to note just how non-Muslim houses of worship are faring in Muslim countries. Christian Science Monitor does just that:

1. Indonesia. In a state with large minority populations of Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, and animists, the US State department reported in 2009 that at least 9 churches – and 12 mosques associated with the Ahmadiyya Islamic sect (which mainstream Muslim groups consider heretical) – were forced shut by violence or intimidation from community groups, and that a number of churches and Hindu temples have struggled to receive official permits in recent years. The Indonesian government has on a number of occasions stepped in to prevent church construction, largely over fears that it would stoke sectarian violence. But religious practice, by and large, is freer in Indonesia than most other Muslim majority states.

2. Egypt. The country has a sizeable minority of Eastern Orthodox Christians, or Copts. By law, their churches must receive the permission of local Muslim communities before new construction is allowed. The State Department’s religious freedom report on Egypt in 2009 says in part: “Church and human rights leaders complain that many local officials intentionally delay the permit process. They charge that some local authorities refuse to process applications without ’supporting documents’ that are virtually impossible to obtain.”

3. Saudi Arabia, home of Mecca and Islam more generally, is one of the least religiously free nation’s on earth. In the Kingdom, the public practice of any faith but Islam is illegal. Christian’s and Jews receive 50 percent of the compensation that a Muslim would receive in personal injury court and the country has no churches at all, though it officially tolerates private worship in homes.

4. Pakistan. Freedom of religious worship is constitutionally guaranteed, but in practice the government sets limits and there has also been a rise in attacks by militant groups on both Christians and Shiites in the majority Sunni Muslim country in recent years. The State Department found that “societal discrimination against religious minorities was widespread, and societal violence against such groups occurred.” District level government “consistently refused to grant permission to construct non-Muslim places of worship, especially for Ahmadiyya and Baha’i communities” the State Department found, while also noting that missionaries are allowed to work inside the country. In 2009 “public pressure routinely prevented courts from protecting minority rights and forced judges to take strong action against any perceived offense to Sunni orthodoxy,” the report said.

I don't know if this list is all-inclusive, but I would be more than happy to see the rights afforded to Muslims among the kafirs be extended to these four countries, for a start.

Of course, given the low expectations for rights and freedoms for non-Muslims in these countries, it has become second nature to assume it is a lost cause, while Islam--one of whose main goals is to expand--is given the opportunity to do just that.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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