Religious persecution and impunity are global plagues


From (CNN) -- The numbers are shocking: 12,000 people killed in a cycle of violence between Christians and Muslims stretching back more than a decade.

The location: Nigeria, the most populous nation in Africa, lying on the continent's fault line between the largely Muslim north and predominantly Christian south.

The number of people convicted and sentenced for the killings: Zero.

That's just one of many stark assessments about the level of religious persecution around the world today in a huge new report from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

[View the full report here.]

The report names more than two dozen countries as offenders. Some engage in what's classically thought of as religious persecution.

Egypt, for example, not only imprisons members of the Baha'i faith and members of minority Muslim sects, but also has some fired from their jobs, kicked out of universities and barred from having bank accounts, driver's licenses, even birth certificates, according to the report.

Other countries, such as Saudi Arabia, export "extremist ideology," the commission charges. But the kind of religious persecution seen in Nigeria and some other countries is "equally egregious," the report says. "Many governments fail to punish religiously motivated violence perpetrated by private actors," it says, warning that "impunity... often leads to endless cycles of sectarian violence."

It calls Nigeria "a tragic case in point," saying that in the most recent outbreak of killing in Nigeria's Jos State several months ago, 500 "men, women and children were hacked to death with machetes and then dumped into wells.

"Not a single criminal, Muslim or Christian, has been convicted and sentenced in Nigeria's ten years of religious violence," the report claims...

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