The right to freedom of worship is being breached in one third of countries around the world

The right to the freedom of worship is one of the fundamental human rights, according to the UN. Millions of people of different religions around the world are suffering more than ever because this right is being breached. A report by Aid to Church in Need about the freedom of workshop around the world shows that this freedom is being breached in one third of the countries around the world where 5,200 million people live.

Almost 7 out of ten people in the world live in countries where religious freedom is being breached. The report states that for five billion people, their freedom of worship is under threat. This is occurring in 62 countries, the worst culprits being Bangladesh, China, India, Nigeria and Pakistan.

Religious freedom is under threat as never before. The National Director of Aid to the Church in Need, Stephen Axisa, said persecution has increased more than ever.

“One of the reasons is an increase in the spread of the caliphate. Today we are seeing what are called cyber-caliphates in which the Internet is being used to reach more people in the West and radicalise them.”

Mr Axisa also mentions oppression, including sexual oppression, as another form of persecution. The report looks at all the different religions. The COVID-19 pandemic has also had an impact on the right to religious freedom. Groups of minority religious in countries such as Pakistan and India were left without basic needs such as masks and sanitizers, which were provided by Aid to the Church in Need.

With this research, which is published every two years, Aid to the Church in Need can plan the work it needs to do for those in need.

Mr Axisa said that the Maltese branch of the organisation strives to increase awareness about the drastic situation of millions of people around the world. With the help of the Maltese, it also carries out various projects.

“For example last year we were working on a project to support 20 seminary students in Dunka, India and various apostolates of nuns, such as The Sisters of the Poor, to continue studying in various countries in Africa.”

ACN Malta, which was set up seven years ago, is currently working on various projects especially in Africa. It also supports Maltese and Gozitan missionaries on a number of projects which are being carried out around the world.