Last week Lady Warsi said in a speech at Georgetown University in Washington DC that she fears Christians face becoming “extinct” in large parts of the world and called for a “cross-faith, cross-continent” response to the problem of persecution.
My analysis of data from the Pew Research Center -- presented previously in Vienna at the Austrian Diplomatic Academy and this coming week in Geneva at the Human Rights Council and in London at the British Parliament -- provides some evidence that religious minorities in the Middle East and North Africa do indeed face abuse in a larger share of countries than in other world regions.
This includes Christians as well as other minorities such as minority Shia Muslims in Sunni-majority Egypt. In fact, Muslims face harassment in a large majority of the region's countries.
Furthermore, at the onset of the Arab Spring in late 2010 and early 2011, many world leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, expressed hope that the political uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa would lead to greater freedoms for the people of the region, including fewer restrictions on religious beliefs and practices. But a new study by the Pew Research Center finds that the region’s already high overall level of restrictions on religion – whether resulting from government policies or from social hostilities – continued to increase in 2011.
For more discussion of the Middle East, see my TEDx Talk.