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New report says Islamic extremism spreading with defeat of IS in Mideast

LONDON – The threat to religious freedom from Muslim fundamentalists is rapidly becoming a global phenomenon following the military defeat of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, said a new report.

Islamist extremists have increased violence in Europe, Africa and Southeast Asia corresponding to their loss of territory in the Middle East, said a report from Aid to the Church in Need, a Catholic charity helping persecuted Christians.

The charity’s “Religious Freedom in the World 2018 Report,” published Nov. 22, noted that conditions for religious minorities in Iraq and Syria have improved so significantly over the past two years that many Christians and other refugees are beginning to return home.

However, it said Islamic violence had intensified in such countries as Indonesia, Somalia, Niger, Libya and Pakistan.

John Pontifex, editor-in-chief of the report, said since Islamic State was vanquished on the battlefields of Iraq and Syria, it has resurfaced elsewhere, “for example, in Africa, where a new front of Islamic fundamentalism, supported in part by Arab states, is erupting with devastating consequences for minorities, notably Christians.”

“While Islamic fundamentalism has been pushed back in some regions, in others it has expanded,” he said in a video prepared for the Nov. 22 U.K. launch of the report in the House of Lords, London.

“The report reveals an upsurge in terrorist attacks in the West, most notably in Europe,” he said.

“As the attacks demonstrate, the threat posed by extremists has now become universal, imminent and ever-present,” said Pontifex. This phenomenon of “neighborhood fundamentalism” risked fracturing once-harmonious societies, he said, by creating cultures of suspicion and distrust.

Yet many people in the West are blinded to threats to religious liberty by their “religious illiteracy and apathy,” he added.

Read more at Crux. 

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