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ISSUE 108 -- Giant Predecessors --
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The Perils of 'Incorrect' Persuasion

From Editor, J. Douglas Kenyon

In August, as the world watched, thousands of Yezidi Kurds in Iraq ran for their lives before the advancing terrorist army known as ISIS or ISIL. Those who could not escape, but would not renounce their beliefs, faced horrors ranging from beheading, to crucifixion, to rape. The episode is but the latest in a mushrooming plague of religious persecution across the globe.

In July Turkmenistan was added to the U.S. State Department's list of worst religious freedom offenders, a list which already includes Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan. But even in places not listed, the picture is far from pretty. Coptic Christians in Egypt have seen their churches burned; Jews in Europe are regularly attacked. The report summary also names Syria, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Iraq, Bangladesh, Indonesia, India, and Nigeria for failing to protect vulnerable religious communities, which often face violence, discrimination, and harassment.

"In 2013," says the U.S. State Department, "the world witnessed the largest displacement of religious communities in recent memory." According to the July report: "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. Communities are disappearing from their traditional and historic homes and dispersing across the geographic map. In conflict zones, in particular, this mass displacement has become a pernicious norm."

Religious persecution, over alleged heresy, remains one of the great threats to world freedom -- to say nothing of enlightenment -- yet the international press has often seemed more interested in political correctness than in the systematic murder of small groups, whose unpopular views have made them targets. Just as the Nazis murdered Jews while much of the world looked the other way, the same bloody practices continue to flourish in many parts of the world.

In 2008, Atlantis Rising reported on "The Plight of the Yezidi" (A.R. #67), now internationally famous, but then, just an obscure Sufi/Zoroastrian sect in Iraq, on the verge of extinction through frequent ongoing massacres by majority Muslims. We have also reported on the attacks on Tibetan Buddhists, as well as the Chinese government's repressive moves against the Fulang Gang sect. Genocide in the Darfur province of Sudan has been widely reported, but insufficient attention has been paid to Pakistan where, in 2010, 90 members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim sect were slaughtered by the local Muslim majority in two mosques. The issue, ostensibly, was blasphemy.

The beliefs found so offensive included the Ahmadiyya teaching that Jesus survived the crucifixion and traveled to Kashmir where he ultimately died, and whose remains are said to be in the tomb of Yuz Asouph in Srinagar, the Kashmiri capital. In his recent movie, "Jesus in India," filmmaker Paul Davids, at considerable personal risk, documented the tomb's purported site (see A.R. #74).

"It is simply beyond belief," Davids told Atlantis Rising in 2010, "but sadly true, that people in Pakistan are being slaughtered for religious beliefs that don't conform to mainstream Islam, and that there are [criminal] laws against so-called 'blasphemy.' " To Pakistan's credit, it must be noted that some moderate Muslims have recently taken to forming human chains in an effort to protect Christian worshippers following bombing attacks.

Throughout Earth's long and bloody past, nothing has caused the intentional shedding of more innocent blood than religious intolerance. It is a problem which remains today, further than ever from solution. For another take on this, see John Chambers' article "Simone Weil, the Last Cathar?" page 36.

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