In the last couple of years, there have been various incidents that show that religious intolerance has increased in the whole world. Many right-wing regimes have come into power that is intolerant of religious minorities. This can be observed in India, United States, Europe, and Brazil. Incidents of racial and religiously motivated have increased in recent years. Extremist non-state actors like ISIS have also been seen violently persecuting minority religious groups and some sects of Islam. Apart from that, there are several lynching cases have been noticed in India and Pakistan. Therefore, it is safe to say that religious intolerance has increased in the world.
When investigating incidents of religious intolerance, the mosque shootings of Christchurch in March 2019 are the first that come to mind. In this attack, a white supremacist killed about 50 Muslim worshippers. His motive for the crime was hatred against Muslims and opposition to Muslim immigration to western countries. This incident awakened the world, which saw the growing religious intolerance in action.
The rise of ISIS has also resulted in the violent persecution of minorities. Isis systematically oppressed and persecuted minority religions that exist in the Levant. Thousands of Christians have been killed under this brutal regime. Many other communities have been persecuted, their women were taken as sex as sex slaves and sold. The threat of ISIS has almost been eliminated but its rise just a few years ago shows that religious intolerance exists in the middle east.
In a similar pattern, India is moving to be a Hindu state as opposed to secular India that was its original intent. Recently the BJP government has proved to be an ultra-nationalist regime that is turning India into a majoritarian intolerant state. Minorities like Muslims, Christians have greatly suffered. Worryingly these incidents of religious extremism have support from the government. The recent citizenship amendment act 2019 has further cleared the doubts that the threat of intolerance in India is real and communities like Muslims are discriminated against at the state level.
Religious intolerance is also prevalent in Pakistan. Pakistan’s Muslim population is around 97% and the remaining is minority including Hindus, Sikhs, and Christian. Forced conversion often makes bad headlines for Pakistan. There are allegations that young girls of the Hindu community get kidnapped and forcefully converted to Islam. On the other, misuse of blasphemy laws has also been noticed. Sometimes state looks helpless in front of charged religious crowd.
The persecution of Rohingya Muslims is another example that validates the fact that religious intolerance is increasing. Since 2016, about 10000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by the Myanmar government, and about 80000 have fled to neighboring Bangladesh. There have been reports of ethnic cleansing, rape, and torture.
Lastly, the west is also affected by this menace. It is in the form of increasing hate crimes against Muslims and a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment. The rise of religious intolerance in the US and the UK has been confirmed by a report by the pew research center. There have been incidents of knife attacks and other forms of religious harassment like throwing pig meat at the doors of the mosque. In response, Muslim acts of violence have been in common.
To counter this menace of religious intolerance various steps need to be taken. First, religion and politics should be separated. Many incidents of religious persecution have a political element in them. People persecute minorities for political reasons as well. The minority is Targeted for their political affiliation or association. The Buddhist majority of Myanmar considers Rohingyas as not true Burmese because they are Muslims. Similarly, India is also injecting the Hindu religion
Second, religious persecution and discrimination should be identified as a major problem and should be condemned in every possible manner and at every forum. Required legislation should be done to prevent it and spreaders of hate crimes should be strictly punished. The capacity of law enforcement should be increased to control them. The role of religious leaders of every religion is very important to spread harmony. It is necessary to create an environment where religious intolerance is shunned and harmony is promoted.
Lastly, there should be mass contact and communication between different religious communities. one of the major reasons for hatred is lack of exposure to their culture and values. Many misunderstandings exist among different religious groups that act as a hindrance in harmony. Therefore people to people contact should be encouraged and dialogue between religious communities should be initiated. This will create mutual understanding and mitigate religious intolerance.
To conclude, it is without any doubt that religious intolerance has been increasing for many years. Minority communities have been targeted all over the world.
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