Category Archives: Religion + Belief

U.K. News | Underrepresented Communities

U.K. elects most diverse parliament in history
  • 51 MPs of color (black and minority ethnic, or BME) were elected to the House of Commons, an increase of some 25% from the 41 elected in the previous election cycle.
  • 208 women were elected, an electoral record though still only 32% of Parliament, and more than 40 LGBT MPs now form the largest cohort of openly queer politicians in the history of the House of Commons.
  • The new parliament also features the first Palestinian, first female Sikh, four black female, first turban-wearing Sikh, and four openly disabled MPs.
Read

Election results: Record number of black, Asian and ethnic minority MPs elected to parliament” (The Independent | June 2017)

The New Parliament Has More Black, Asian, And Women MPs Than Ever Before” (BuzzFeed News | June 2017)

Election 2017: Record number of female MPs” (BBC News | June 2017)

(Image Credit: Facebook, via The Independent)

Europe & Eurasia Research | Religious & Belief Minorities

Religion and National Identity in Eastern Europe and Eurasia

The Pew Research Center recently conducted a survey on the relationship between religious and national identity in Eastern European and Eurasian countries, noting changes in the way that religious identification has influenced national identity since the fall of atheist fundamentalism with the USSR. For religious and belief minorities—now including atheists—the relationship can be a troubling one, particularly as resurgent nationalism in the region has been accompanied by xenophobia and religious discrimination.

Here are highlights from the findings:

70% (Orthodox-majority) / 57% (Catholic-majority)

Average among countries who believe majority religious identity is very or somewhat important to national identity

82% (Armenia)
81% (Georgia)
78% (Serbia)
76% (Greece)
74% (Romania)
66% (Bulgaria)
63% (Moldova)
57% (Russia)
51% (Ukraine)
45% (Belarus)

Percentage within Orthodox-majority countries who believe Orthodox religious identity is very or somewhat important to national identity

64% (Poland)
58% (Croatia)
56% (Lithuania)
43% (Hungary)

Percentage within Catholic-majority countries who believe Catholic religious identity is very or somewhat important to national identity

Read

Religious Belief and National Belonging in Central and Eastern Europe (Pew Research Center | May 2017)

Philippines News | Christians

Filipino Christians in Muslim-majority Marawi caught up in Mindanao violence
  • Clashes between Islamist militants and Philippine soldiers in Marawi City have displaced as much as 90% of the city’s population.
  • Militants have torched churches and reportedly taken hostages in the fight against the government, the extension of decades of conflict driven by increased Christian settlement in the region, the desire for more political autonomy by Moro (Muslim) liberation groups, and the rise of international terrorist organizations like the Islamic State.
  • While the Philippine population as a whole is 90% Christian, Muslims comprise the majority of the population in Marawi City, located on the Philippines’ second-largest island, Mindanao.
Read

Christians caught up in Philippines’ urban battle with Islamists” (Reuters | May 2017)

‘They kill defenceless people’: thousands flee Philippine city of Marawi” (The Guardian | May 2017)

Mindanao crisis: A city on fire” (Al Jazeera | May 2017)

(Image Credit: Erik De Castro/Reuters)

U.K. News | Muslims & Ethnic Minorities

Reported hate crimes double in Manchester in aftermath of bombing
  • Some 56 hate crimes were reported in the two days following the bombing in Manchester by a Briton of Libyan descent, a twofold increase over the 28 in the two previous days (the average amount, according to law enforcement).
  • Incidents included bomb threats, intimidation, slurs, and racist graffiti across the city.
  • Community members noted a significant number of incidents had gone unreported and expressed frustration at the expectation of apologizing on behalf of all Muslims while being subjected to anti-Muslim abuse.
Read

Manchester attack: Hate crime ‘doubles’ after incident” (BBC News | May 2017)

Muslim leaders in Manchester report rise in Islamophobic incidents” (The Guardian | May 2017)

Manchester sees rise in hate crimes after attack” (Al Jazeera | May 2017)

(Image Credit: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters, via The Guardian)

U.S. News | Racial & Religious Minorities and Allies

Attackers connected to white supremacist groups kill 3, wound another in Oregon and Maryland
  • In College Park, MD, black college senior Richard Collins III was stabbed and killed in an unprovoked attack by a 22-year-old white man on the University of Maryland-College Park campus.
  • In Portland, OR, two white men were killed and another injured after intervening as a neo-Nazi white supremacist yelled anti-Muslim rhetoric at two Muslim women on a train.
  • The attacks follow a number of high-profile incidents and an uptick in reported identity-based terrorism following the election of President Donald Trump, whose campaign was marked by anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim rhetoric and a willingness to court and promote white-supremacist supporters.
Read

University of Maryland Fatal Stabbing Investigated by FBI as Possible Hate Crime” (NBC News | May 2017)

Man shouting ‘anti-Muslim slurs’ fatally stabs two men in Portland” (The Guardian | May 2017)

Spread of Hate Crimes Has Lawmakers Seeking Harsher Penalties” (The New York Times | April 2017)

(Image Credit: via The Baltimore Sun)

Indonesia News | Christian

Jakarta’s Christian governor of Chinese descent sentenced to prison for blasphemy
  • Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known as Ahok, was sentenced to two years in prison after having accused political opponents of using a verse from the Qur’an to mobilize opposition to his re-election.
  • His remarks drew massive protests in the Muslim-majority country and a religiously charged vote for the Jakarta governorship in April, where he lost to Muslim rival Anies Baswedan.
  • Judges cited fundamentalist religious groups in the ruling, shocking observers with a prison sentence for Ahok because he “did not feel guilt.”
Read

Jakarta governor Ahok sentenced to two years in prison for blasphemy” (The Guardian | May 2017)

Jakarta’s Christian Governor Ahok jailed for two years for blasphemy” (The Sydney Morning Herald | May 2017)

Jakarta’s former governor Ahok dropping appeal against jail sentence for blasphemy” (ABC | May 2017)

(Image Credit: Antara/Pool/Sigid Kurniawan, via The Jakarta Post)

Egypt News | Coptic Christians

More than two dozen Coptic Christians killed in attack in Egypt
  • Gunmen killed at least 29 and wounded two dozen more in Minya Province while they were en route to a monastery in central Egypt.
  • The Islamic State claimed responsibility, the latest in a series of attacks by the fundamentalist group on the religious minority that has left more than 100 dead since December 2016.
  • Thousands mourned the dead at the Church of the Sacred Family in the village of Dayr Jarnous before beginning a defiant march expressing outrage and calling for retribution.
Read

Grief, rage in Egyptian church after Copts attacked by gunmen” (Reuters | May 2017)

Gunmen in Egypt Force Coptic Christian Pilgrims From Buses and Kill 28” (The New York Times | May 2017)

Egypt Coptic Christians: IS claims attack” (BBC News | May 2017)

(Image Credit: Amr Nabil/Associated Press, via The New York Times)