As the number of migrants and refugees worldwide continues to surge, a panel of scholars convened last month by the International Religious Liberty Association (IRLA) says more must be done to deal with related religious freedom challenges.
The IRLA’s 19thMeeting of Experts, held in Cordoba, Spain, brought together renowned scholars from a variety of academic disciplines to explore this issue. But the topics discussed were anything but academic for the many millions of men, women and children who are currently on the move, fleeing poverty, violence, or religious persecution, according to IRLA Secretary General Dr. Ganoune Diop.
“Managing migration, with all its associated difficulties—physical, legal, and social—is recognized as one of the most urgent and perplexing challenges of our time,” Diop said. “But the picture is incomplete unless we also understand just how frequently religious practice and identity intersect with these issues.”
He points out that in many world regions, from Myanmar to Nigeria to Syria and Iraq, religiously motivated hostility or violence help drive migration. But also challenging, according to Diop, are the clashes of religious and social identities that often occur later, as migrants and refugees are absorbed into new cultures.