In this Aug. 31, 2012 file photo, fighters from Islamist group Ansar Dine stand guard in Timbuktu, Mali, as they prepare to publicly lash a member of the Islamic Police found guilty of adultery, according to AP reports. The Mali army attacked Islamist rebels with heavy weapons in the center of the country which divides the insurgent-held north and the government-controlled south, government officials said Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013. France has joined in support of the government of Mali, a former French colony.
Religion-related wars and armed conflicts not only affected countries in the news such as Mali, Afghanistan and Syria, but also conflicts in countries such as Myanmar (Burma), where airstrikes against separatist Kachins began in earnest on Christmas Eve 2012, as reported Al Jazeera. A large number of Kachins are Christians in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar.
As with the conflict in Mali, other recent armed conflicts have been triggered by Islamist groups attempting to arrest control of a country or portions of a country, such as the insurgency of Boko Haram in Nigeria.
In addition, millions of people remained displaced from their homes by current or previous conflicts related to religion, including from previous wars in the Palestinian territories, Sudan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Croatia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Cyprus, collectively.
Religion-related war is also an example of cross-national influences that contribute to social hostilities involving religion or government restrictions on religion. According to a separate analysis by the Pew Forum, influences from abroad were reported to have contributed to religious hostilities or restrictions in 122 of 198 countries, or 62% of all the countries between mid-2009 and 2011.
For a separate discussion of the relationship between restrictions on religion and global security and international diplomacy, see Part V of The Future of Religious Freedom: Global Challenges, edited by Allen D. Hertzke (Oxford University Press, 2013).
* For the purposes of the Pew Forum study, a religion-related war is defined as an armed conflict (involving sustained casualties over time or more than 1,000 battle deaths) in which religious rhetoric is commonly employed to justify the use of force, or in which one or more of the combatants primarily identifies itself or the opposing side by religion.