Millions forced to flee for religious beliefs in 2013, says US report
WASHINGTON: Millions of members of religious
communities across the world were forced to flee their homes last year, the
United States, in its annual report on religious freedom, said on Monday.
“In almost every corner of the globe, millions of
Christians, Muslims, Hindus and others representing a range of faiths were
forced from their homes on account of their religious beliefs,” the report
It said hundreds of thousands of Christians had fled
three years of civil war in Syria and in the Central African Republic,
lawlessness and sectarian violence between Christians and Muslims had
reportedly resulted in 700 deaths in December alone and the displacement of
more than a million people in 2013.
The report also highlighted anti-Muslim violence in
Myanmar that led to up to 100 deaths and 12,000 being forced from their homes
in the area of the town of Meiktila in early 2013. It said organised
hate-speech and harassment of Muslims continued and Buddhist-Muslim rivalry was
often exploited for political gain.
The report pointed to sectarian violence in Pakistan,
which had killed more than 400 Shi’ite Muslims and 80 Christians and China’s
prosecution of relatives of people who had set themselves on fire in religious
Attacks on religion were not confined to the
developing world, the report said, with anti-Semitism throughout Europe
evidenced in Internet fora and in football stadiums “leading many individuals
who are Jewish to conceal their religious identity.”
The report also said that there were instances in
which people of different faiths had worked together to protect each other. An
increase in mosque attacks in Britain had led an orthodox Jewish neighbourhood
watch team to help Muslim leaders protect mosques, the report said.
Other such interfaith solidarity included Muslims
helping to protect Christians by forming human chains around churches in
Pakistan and similar actions by Muslims in Egypt.