Rome, Italy – The 2010 Report on Religious Freedom in the World by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) was released yesterday in Rome. It shows that the situation is serious in many parts of the world, particularly in Asia. In the Near East, Iraq represents an especially bad case where anti-Christian violence is taking on the form of systematic persecution, as the latest episodes indicate. In Egypt, despite the fact that it is a major tourist destination, there have been many acts of violence against the Christian minority in 2009-2010. Lebanon shows how difficult it is for foreign religious staff to enter the country. The situation of Christians in Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip is getting worse with episodes of explicit persecution.
In India, ethnic and religious violence is rising as well. The year 2009 clearly illustrated the problem. However, China is certainly among those nations where religious freedom is denied in all its facets. However, information about what happens in that nation remains limited and hard to obtain. The state is officially atheist and suppresses all form of religion through arrests and detention in concentration camps. The case of Mgr Julius Jia Zhiguo is one of the better known. The underground bishop of Zhengding (Hebei) was arrested by five police officers on 30 March 2009; he was eventually released 15 months later.
In Pakistan, the blasphemy law is used as weapon against religious minorities, especially Christians who are the victims of Muslim fundamentalism. In Afghanistan, the government is not able to ensure effective religious freedom. In Bangladesh, where Islam is also the state religion, several cases of discrimination and attacks against minorities have been recorded with security forces showing little interest in protecting them.