NIGERIA: On April 12, reports indicate that 135 more lives were claimed in ongoing armed attacks attributed to the Islamist Boko Haram group. Sola Tayo, a Nigeria expert at the London-based think tank Chatham House, said that if the attacks spread to the south of the country the effect on the economy would be “catastrophic,” adding that Boko Haram has threatened to strike Lagos, the country’s economic hub, and has more recently threatened to start attacking oil pipelines in the Niger Delta. This month, according to a new valuation, Nigeria is now recognized as Africa's largest economy. But doing business in Nigeria is "not a place for the faint-hearted," according to the Economist.
INDIA: As the general election proceeds this week, the shadow of sectarian violence continues, with troops standing guard to prevent clashes as happened last August in leaving scores of Muslims dead and 50,000 displaced in this Hindu-majority country. The likely prime minister may be Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist. Ilan Greenberg observes that Modi presents his platform, however, as singularly devoted to an agenda of economic growth and development. “Toilets not temples” is another of his slogans.
CHINA: Knife-wielding terrorist attacked a train station in Kunming, leaving nearly 30 dead and more than 100 injured. The attackers are suspected of being from minority Uighurs fighting for a separate homeland in northwest China. If the identities of the attackers are confirmed, the attack is a new and worrying escalation, spreading the violence far inland. And China's poverty is located in religious and ethnic regions. Though such minorities make up about 8% of the population, nearly 40% of China's poorest counties (230 of 592) are located in provinces or regions inhabited by ethnic minorities.
BANGLADESH: Last month, human rights defenders from Bangladesh, gathered in Geneva at a meeting sponsored by the World Council of Churches (WCC), are calling the international community’s attention to the severe persecution of Bangladesh’s religious and ethnic minorities. They identified the rise of religious extremism, fundamentalism and lack of security as some of the major reasons behind human rights violations in the country.
D.R. CONGO: Up to 50,000 children are at risk of being stigmatized and persecuted as witches due to economic downturns. According to UNICEF Child Protection Officer Eloge Olengabo, “Families who cannot fend for themselves frequently take refuge in the belief that their bad luck is rooted in the witchcraft of their offspring.”
What can be done?
Such evidence suggests that solving problems of poverty cannot ignore religion and solving problems of religious freedom cannot ignore the problems of poverty. For an initiative aiming to address both, see the new Religious Freedom & Business Foundation's initiative to counter extremist radicalization.