04/25/2021 Southeast Asia (International Christian Concern) – Recently, Aid to the Church in Need International (ACNI) published their 2021 report for Mainland Asia Religious Freedoms. Mainland Asia accounts for East Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and Southeast Asia. The report found that religious freedom violations fester in countries where Marxist-Communist authoritarian control, religious nationalism, and religious extremism thrive.
When Xi Jinping took office in 2013 as China’s president, he immediately caught the international religious freedom community’s attention. The Communist-Marxist country drastically tightened its control on religious activities. It imposed the strictest religious restrictions, second to North Korea, in a state-run campaign, smothered religious minorities, and placed Muslim ethnic Uyghurs in ‘deradicalization programs.’
Another danger to religious freedom is religious nationalism. According to ACNI, countries that display “majoritarian religious nationalism include Hindu-majority India and Nepal, and Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Thailand.” Exclusivist religious nationalism is on the rise in India and Nepal; two states in India have passed laws forbidding evangelism, further marginalizing and discriminating against non-Hindu religious minorities despite India and Nepal’s constitution protecting religious freedom.
Sri Lanka experienced the worst attack against Christians on East Sunday, 2019, when Islamic extremists killed 267 people. That caused enormous anti-Muslim hate. Buddhist-nationalists in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Laos targetted Muslims due to the rising prejudice and intolerance. Such widespread violence led to the 2016-2017 Rohingya genocide in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.
These trends will continue to rise in Asia with growing control over religious freedom, religious extremism, and religious nationalism.
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