Rome (AsiaNews) – Asia is by a wide margin the continent with the most violations of religious freedom. Ten of the 13 countries with serious limitations to religious freedom are in Asia, this according to Religious Freedom Worldwide – Report 2008 published by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), which was released today in Rome. These countries are: Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, China, Bhutan, Myanmar, Laos and North Korea. The other three are Nigeria and Sudan in Africa, and Cuba in the Americas. Religious freedom is also limited in 15 other Asian countries; 9 in the rest of the world.
This year the ACN Report goes international. Translated in seven languages it was released at the same time in Italy, France, Spain and Germany.
Freedom to change one’s religion, to display and practice one’s religious beliefs in private and public, to develop one’s religious life, to pass on one’s creed and spread one’s values are but some of the issue the Report analyses. With sometime alarming data and figures the survey looks at every nation in the world insofar as religious freedom is allowed or not.
ACN President Fr Joaquín Alliende, AsiaNews Editor Fr Bernado Cervellera, Camille Eid and Marco Politi presented the report in a press conference coordinated by Paola Rivetta.
The study of violations of religious freedom ranges from Saudi Arabia, which sees itself as “fully” Islamic and bans all public display of any religion other than Islam (including the possession of Bibles, wearing a crucifix, carrying a rosary or praying in public), to Bhutan, where non-Buddhist missionaries are proscribed and the construction of non-Buddhist buildings is limited or outlawed and where everyone is required to adhere to the dress code of the predominantly Buddhist Ngalop ethnic group, whether in public buildings, monasteries, schools or during public ceremonies.
The book also looks at Myanmar with its bloody repression of monks; North Korea, a country that has banned all religious practices, that has no priest or monk and where 300,000 Christians have likely perished over the past few decades; India, now infamous for its anti-Christian pogroms; China which systematically oppresses Churches, Tibetan Buddhists and Muslim Uyghurs, with prisons full of priests and pastors; and the Maldives, a tourist paradise whose constitution reserves all political, judicial and administrative posts to Muslims, where Sharia law is enforced and all public display by other religions are banned.
As visual support the book includes a map that shows where people are still suffering today because of their faith.