Discrimination and Belief


by Antonia Mandry(*)

It is hard to believe that in modern times belief can provoke such strong reactions, but recent events underscore the discrimination and persecution members of religious minorities still face allover the world.

The early afternoon hours of April 18, 2007 were shattered by the murder of 3 Christians (one of whom was German) who worked at a Christian publishing house in Malatya, Turkey. The 3 victims, one of whom died on the way to the hospital, were found with their hands and feet bound to chairs, and their throats slit. It is commonly believed that the murders were committed due to religious intolerance, although other motives may be falsely attributed.

As information about the perpetrators and their motives comes to light in the coming days, it is important that we take the time to think about the position of religious minorities in ou communities.

The religion may vary but the discrimination and persecution faced by religious minorities takes place allover the world.

Only consider the case of the Moroccan-German woman who, seeking to fast-track her divorce from her abusive and threatening husband in October 2006, was told that she must wait for her divorce to come through naturally because the abuse was no “hardship” according to Koranic Law. The judge based her decision on the fact that both the woman and her husband were Muslim and of Moroccan backgrounds.

While this development may seem relatively minor in comparison to the murders in Malatya, the predicament of the Frankfurt woman highlights the small margin between discrimination and persecution. Prejudiceis but the foundation for discrimination; the institutionalization of it leads to violent crimes.

The current violence in Iraq between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, and the targeting of Chaldean Christians also shows where religious intolerance can lead. Until religious minorities are protected by law and by social practice, cases like Malatya and Frankfurt will continue to occur across the globe.

(*) Educator