16 okt Crisis? Let’s find a scapegoat
According to the most recent figures published by the American research institute Pew (Rising tide of restrictions on religion, september 2012), three out of four persons on earth live in a country with ‘strong religious restrictions’ or in a society where ‘social hostility towards certain religions’ is high. In 2007 10 countries knew very high governmental restrictions on religion against 18 in 2010. Egypt, Indonesia, the Maldives, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan are heading the list. In 15 countries (against 10 in 2007) social hostility is growing almost every day, with Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Irak and Bangladesh heading the list.
The research focused on 197 countries and showed that in 95 out of these, Christians are being restricted in their rituals, expression and cults. This is the case for Muslims in 74 countries, for Jews in 21, for Hindus in 13 and for Buddhists in 11. It is intersting to see that the level of restriction in United States has moved from ‘low’ to ‘medium’. It has become increasingly complicated for non-Christian religions to build religious centres while hostilities against ‘other’ religions have also increased. The research doesn’t tell us why this is happening, although the use of social (fast and transparent) nedia may be part of the explanation. Calls for action against certain social or religious groups within society are easily (and sometimes anonymously) made; images of unrest in Egypt, Tunesia, Irak, Afghanistan etc. may have influenced people in other countries. And, last but not least: in tough economic times many look for scapegoats. The easiest way to discriminate and accuse is through religious differences. My God against yours is a much safer excuse that my greed against your need. How we miss Christopher Hitchens (God is not great. How religion poisons everything, New York, 2007), who told us so eloquently that religion is the sharpest of daggers.