Religious intolerance is disrespect for people’s right to maintain their religious beliefs. We can consider as intolerant acts personal offenses on account of religion or offenses against liturgies, cults and other religions. Actions of this type, in their most serious forms, can result in violence, such as physical aggression and the depredation of temples.
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History of religious intolerance
At the beginning of the Christian era, adherents of Christianity were persecuted and killed . The Catholic Church, in turn, at the height of its power, which lasted from the high Middle Ages until the 17th century, also persecuted, condemned and killed heretics (among which were adherents of other religions). To learn more about it, we recommend reading this text: Inquisition .
Another emblematic case of intolerance in history was anti-Semitic thinking (feeling of hatred directed at Hebrew peoples , such as Jews). The persecution of Jews occurred at many times in history, such as the persecution by the Roman Empire , which resulted in the flight and dispersion of this people, as well as during the Middle Ages, due to the differences between Catholics and Jews.
The intensification of persecution against these peoples began in the 19th century and its peak occurred during the Third Reich , in Nazi Germany. Nazi intolerance resulted in the deaths of more than six million Jews , and ideas of this ideological nature still linger within isolated groups, despite Nazi promotion and propaganda being banned in several countries.
It is still possible to speak of religious intolerance when we analyze the consequences of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 , which were the trigger for the US government, then led by George W. Bush, to initiate an offensive against countries in the Middle East called war against terror.
The targets of this war were terrorist groups led by Islamic radicals (it is estimated that 16% of Muslims adhere to the Shiite current , which promotes radical interpretations) and authoritarian governments. However, the result of the war on terror and terrorist attacks has been the promotion of stereotypical thinking that Islam promotes terrorism , which has resulted in religious intolerance.
Examples of practices of religious intolerance
Most of those who practice offensive and intolerant acts are people from religious majorities and those who carry fanatical interpretations of their religious writings. When we talk about religious intolerance, we are not just talking about physical and verbal aggression. We can also identify as intolerant acts
- the public desecration of religious symbols, with the aim of affecting people of that denomination;
- the destruction of places of worship;
- refusal to provide services in these places;
- restriction of access to public or collective places due to religious factors.
Religious intolerance and xenophobia
Religion is one of the greatest marks of a national culture. Therefore, religious intolerance is often Chinese . In addition, it was used to attack a nation. We see, as an example, the attack on Islamic religions as an attack on the culture and nationality of peoples from the Middle East .
Currently, prejudice against Muslims from Arab countries that suffer from conflicts occurs in the western world, especially in Europe and the United States. One of the facets of the attack on these peoples is the attack on religion.
The world has experienced terrorist attacks led by radical Islamists with a Shia strand, such as the attack on the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001 and the attacks led by cells of the Islamic State since 2015. These isolated experiences (the Shia comprise approximately 16 % of total Muslims) created a common sense that points to Islam as a source of religious radicalism and terrorism.
Often, those who promote this type of stereotyped and prejudiced thinking are also religious radicals. The main objective of disseminating this type of thinking is to keep foreigners away from the national territory.