State atheism in Communist countries such as China and North Korea, and the kind of fundamentalist and repressive Islam that imposes the law of the Koran in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan or Iran and unleashes religious wars in Nigeria and Indonesia, are the principal culprits. But in the democratic and libertarian West as well subtle forms of violation of religious liberty are taking place because of a secularist fundamentalism that marginalises religion and the Church and undermines with its own legislation the ethical values of life and the family.
From this Report of 2005 emerges the gravity of the situation in China, with nineteen bishops who have been taken prisoner or impeded in their functions, and nine priests condemned to hard labour, who thus join others in the same condition. A real and authentic emergency is to be seen with the persecution of non-Muslims in Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan. The Christian minorities are in the sights of extremist Buddhists in Sri Lanka and Hindus in India. In North Korea three hundred thousand Christians have disappeared over the last fifty years. The situation is grave in Nigeria where Christians are the victims of attacks, disturbances and abuse. The guerras in Uganda have produced a hundred thousand victims. In Africa, the offensive of Islamic fundamentalism is proceeding apace and for decades has unleashed a civil war in the Sudan. In countries such as Egypt and Morocco persecution afflicts citizens who abandon Islam for Christianity.
This year the President of the Chamber of Deputies, Pier Ferdinando Casini, wanted the Report to be presented to the public in the prestigious Sala del Mappamondo of Palazzo Montecitorio. Of importance was the condemnation made by Casini of what he defined as 'the worrying approach' in Europe to the Church which 'does not live in a condition of suffering but increasingly comes up against a secularist approach which tends to propose, in varyingly explicit ways, its marginalisation from society'. In the Report reference is made to 'a new wave of secularism' which has been unleashed in France with the approval and the implementation of a law that prohibits the wearing of religious symbols in schools, and in Germany 'with various local provisions the same end is pursued'.
The illustrations provided by a geographical map with five colours is very useful: in green the Islamic area where grave forms of discrimination are present derived from Islamic law; in red the social-Communist area where the party in power impedes free worship; in yellow the Hindu/Buddhist area with social, political and legal forms of discrimination because a person does not belong to one of these two religions; in grey the area of countries with restrictive legislation or social pressure on believers in general or minority faiths; and in white those countries without significant episodes as regards religious freedom.