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The Foundation Aid to the Church in Need has presented in the foreign press home the thirteenth edition of the Report on Religious Freedom. A dossier which shows an increasingly dramatic global context, not only for Christians.  We asked the reason to Alessandro Monteduro, the manager of  Acs Italy.

“For years we have had the perception that religious persecution was the daughter of an action attributable to the State. What happened in the twentieth century, with the state atheism, it is proof. Today what is happening in North Korea is a direct consequence of that political thought: it is there that we record the worst situation, not tolerate any group except those who adore the family “reigning.” weWe record killings, detentions, forced labor, although we have no official data. We can tell some episodes like that of a minister sentenced to forced labor for life because he was accused of subversion for having exercised his ministry or that of a woman sentenced to death just to having spread some Bibles. But the novelty (which is not a scoop, but the story of what happened in the last two years in those 23 countries in which and for which there is more attention because scene of the fiercest persecution) is that in 12 of these countries, violence against religious minorities is practiced by fundamentalist organizations hyper-extremist or ultra-radicals “.

An example?
“Take the case of northern Nigeria, where there is the terrorist group Boko Haram, which, however, also borders on Cameroon. Nigeria is a federation of 36 states: in 12 of them was introduced sharia and Boko Haram aims to impose it throughout the country. Or the well-known situation in Iraq and Syria: what is the purpose hyper extremism Isis? Starting from a religious belief, and only in appearance it is a paradox, the rest is to delete any other group does not conform to their beliefs. Compared to the state matrix persecution the result is always the same, but we wanted to highlight the different “modes.

Today, How is the situation compared to the past?
“It is undoubtedly worse, due to ferocity of the tentacular ramifications of this radicalism. We can say that a country of 5 in the world it has been hit: Just consider what happened in France, Belgium or Turkey. ”

Any positive signal?
“In some areas there was a slight improvement and we have emphasized in this report to represent the hope for change. I think to Egypt, where recent legislation makes it less complicated, less bureaucratic the construction of places of prayer. Or President Al Sisi has attended the Christmas Mass of the Copts. They are small signals, they certainly do not mean that the reality is much improved but it is something. ”

And what about China situation? There are possible agreements with the Vatican …
“I’m not a political actor, and I haven’t to judge the diplomatic activity of the Holy See. I simply tell the reality of the facts, and I do not know if this creates difficulties for dialogue. However in China the conditions of religious minorities are dramatic. Just an example: in Zhejiang province a modification introduced in 2014 has established that churches can not be higher than a certain height and the crosses can not be higher than one-tenth of the height of the building. Well, just for this reason 2000, between churches and crosses, have been removed, or rather torn down. ”

The report explains that of the 196 countries examined, 38 are the ones that pay the most difficult situation. 23 of these suffered the most brutal persecution: 12 from the state and 11 by radical militant groups. The other 15 countries are located in the area between discrimination and persecution. Seven are the countries for which it is difficult even to imagine a classification, those in which religious freedom is in greater danger: Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, northern Nigeria and North Korea, authentic “black shirt” of this sad ranking.

The presentation was introduced by the president of ACS Italy, Alfredo Mantovano. He said: “the report is a tool to support the persecuted community through projects”. To moderate the meeting, the Director of “Avvenire” Marco Tarquinio said:” The ACS report helps to give” an alarm “on the issue of persecution. Every day, with my work I notice how the tragedies that are repeated cyclically and insistently in the world, they are not considered news only because they have no end. ”
Also spoke the international president of ACN, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, who said that “religious freedom must be protected in every legal system;

Giuliano Amato, the Constitution Court judge, said for his part that while “continues the persecution of the State, it also adds another, with a wider basis”. The North Korean dictator is “a case of madness that makes victims, but the real problem is the current religious fundamentalism – said the former prime minister – And fundamentalism is based on the extreme laicization that it intends to eradicate religion and that It generates an identity reaction; compress religion creates a distortion of religious feeling. Amato concluded by saying that “we can make trouble even with the” French laïcité “, because it can encourage the fundamentalist backlash.”

Deeply felt the testimony of Monsignor Jacques Behnan Hindo, Syrian Catholic Archbishop of Hassaké-Nisibi (Syria). “The Sharia denies freedom of conscience,” he said, emphasizing that “in Syria there is no freedom for Christians” and this especially because in that nation, historically the land of invasions, “Islam is political. Daesh is not only anti-Christian, is against all those who do not belong to Daesh. The Church of Rome does everything he can to help us, “he continued the bishop, he considers very important the next imposition of the cardinal’s hat to Archbishop Mario Zenari and the Pope’s decision to leave him as apostolic nuncio in Syria.

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