Racial tension used to be the main reason for persuction, abuse, torture and killings of minorities, but not any longer. According to a recent report by the Minority Rights Group International, the targeting of minorities on religious grounds is increasingly becoming a bigger problem than racial discrimination.
In most regions poverty is increasingly linked to religion. Minorities in all four corners of the world - and particularly Muslims in the west - have been targets of increased state control as well as nationalist campaigns waged by militant or right-wing groups.
Mark Latimer, Director of Minority Rights Group International says we haven’t seen religious persecutions on this scale since the dark ages.
This article was prepared by the Islam in Europe blog - islamineurope.blogspot.com
Mr Latimer sees the problem of religious intolerance as a new way of looking at differences between communities that have already been there for a long time. He names the situation in Russia's South Caucasus as one example.
“From a Western perspective the Muslim communities in Europe and the US came under strong scrutiny after the World Trade Centre attacks. The feeling of many Muslims around the world was that their communities were being targeted. Ever since 9/11 we are seeing widespread religious profiling, especially when people cross borders or enter countries though airports. 9/11 gave the west the ‘justification’ of hardening its attitude towards an already unpopular religious group.”
But it's not just Muslims encountering increasing bad feeling. The Minority Rights Group International report talks about a mirror effect around the world. Non-Muslim groups in Muslim countries are experiencing very similar issues.
Mr Latimer points out that religious minorities in Iraq like Christians, the Yezidi and the Mandian, are constantly targetted by armed militant groups because they are non-Muslims and are therefore considered infidels by the Muslim majority.
“Every time there is a major religious controversy in Europe, for example the publications of the Danish Muhammed cartoons, Christians are abused and killed in Iraq. So there is a direct correlation between European religious controversy and attacks on Christians in Muslim countries. These effects go around the world and make a very dangerous cocktail.”
The report State of the World's Minorities and Indigenous Peoples is available for download.