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08.04.2009 Feature Article

Is Freedom of Religion becoming Politicized in Africa?

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Two of the Longest Running Crisis Spots in Africa are Darfur and Zimbabwe. There are striking similarites in both situations. Both have been victims of very repressive governments. The Darfur crisis has caused the Sudanese Government to become ostracized from the International Community. The Actions of the Ruling Party within Zimbabwe has garnered a similar result. But there is a situation that has not seen the light of day that could have people concerend.

One issue that has been selectively raised in Africa is that of Freedom of Religion. In Eritrea it is one of the sources of the Poor Relations with the United States. In Nigeria periodic acts of violence committed by those from the Muslim North and the Christian Dominated South flare up from Time to Time. Recent Attacks by the LRA in the Congo have targeted Catholic Churches in their attempts at reprisals for attacks by three Armies for walking away from the Peace Table.

First of all Let us talk about Zimbabwe. Since 2002 the Country has had a series of deeply flawed Political Elections, Inflation at an astronomical rate, A similar rate for HIV Infection and Political Persecution. Some of the Political Strife has made its way into the Churches. In 2003 the Group Solidarity Peace Trust Published a Report that highlighted the Political Strife that was affecting the Church regardless of denomination.

In recent weeks there have been a series of reports indicating the Problems that have been afflicting the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe. Some time ago the Governing Body of the Anglican Church excommunicated a Bishop who has close ties to ZANU-PF. He was replaced by another person deemed acceptable by the Church. People Loyal to the Excommunicated Bishop have used force to prevent parishoners from attending services. There are branches of the Zimbabwean Government actively protecting Mr. Kunonga. In this case the silence of the Civil Society Groups in Zimbabwe has been Deafening.

In Sudan there is a very similar problem. From a Religious Standpoint the Country resembles Nigeria. There is a Muslim dominated North and a Christian South. From 1983-2005 these regions fought a Civil War that makes Darfur pale by Comparison. For whatever reason the Christians in the Northern part of the Country are displaced and often overlooked by the Authorities in Khartoum. In recent days a Bishop lamented the Fact that Christian Schools in the North of the Country have to give instruction in Islam. Those in the North who convert from Islam to Christianity can face Death as a punishment.

These are two reasons for the concerns regarding these two crisis spots not to be reduced in scope anytime in the near future. Freedom of Religion is protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It has long been a concern of Previous Administrations in the United States. It is a vital concern when it comes to North Korea and several other countries including Sudan. My Question is that since 2002 there has been some issues regarding Freedom of Religion in Zimbabwe. Why has there not been any outcry when it comes to Freedom of Religion in Zimbabwe?

We have seen how Politics and Religion have combined to create chaos in a Country. But having Other Nations and Civil Society Groups remain silent in this matter amounts to giving tacit approval to such tactics being committed. In both cases the Church has been a force demanding accountability by various actors when it comes to Persecution and other acts that are currently ongoing. Maybe their collective voices will become louder when they realize that their Brothers and Sisters are in Danger

The Author Publishes Confused Eagle on the Internet and Comments on US Foreign Policy in Africa. Confused Eagle can be found at morganrights.tripod.com

Scott A Morgan
Scott A Morgan, © 2009

The author has 88 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: ScottAMorgan

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