Not only a religious issue
By Marc Fromager
This report, which examines religious freedom, seeks to assess evidence relating to the practice and expression of faith within a given country and to provide a view regarding the prospects for its development going forward.
Two problems must be avoided in failing to accurately reflect religious factors in an analysis of conflict, either by exaggerating the part it plays or by failing to acknowledge it sufficiently. In reality, religion is but one of many factors in play, many of which are inextricably linked.
In no particular order, a list of the factors involved would include: the weight of history, the impact of geography or the climate, political circumstances – both historic and contemporary, the demographic features, the socio-economic situation, culture, education levels and finally religion.
If we wanted to group these various elements together for the sake of clarity, we could probably assume that most of these causes could be broadly related to three fundamental areas: politics, economy and religion. The latter is often not considered in a systematic manner, except in a report like this where it is the main object of study.
Two recent crises help illustrate the complexity of such situations, namely the war in Syria and the exodus of the Rohingyas. Generally portrayed as a civil war, the Syrian crisis entails an international geopolitical dimension (Saudi-Iranian conflict and then Russian-American confrontation), an economic component (Qatari gas and Syrian oil) and a religious element (hostile fighting between Sunnis and Shias against the backdrop of the expulsion of religious minorities).