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Asia, world leader in religious freedom violations

October 24, 2008

AsiaNews
October 23, 2008

According to the 2008 Report on Religious Freedom Worldwide that was
released today by Aid to the Church in Need, 10 of the 13 countries
with "serious limitations" to religious freedom and 15 of the 24
countries with "limitations" to religious freedom are found in Asia.

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.
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