Religion & Geopolitics Weekly Roundup

At a Glance

Religion & Geopolitics Weekly Roundup

08 May 2014

The surge in global interest this week in the Nigerian kidnapping is a confirmation of the importance of the work of the Centre on Religion and Geopolitics. We have been watching the story since it broke, and have featured pieces on Boko Haram in the last three Roundups. This edition includes a 'primer' on the organisation, commissioned for the site.

This week, a massacre of more than thirty Muslims in Assam has largely escaped notice. Those who have covered it have rightly connected it to heightened tensions around the Indian election. But it also bears a resemblance to attacks on Muslims by nationalist groups across South and South East Asia.

Top Stories

Nigeria: As continuing tragic news emerges from Nigeria, Jacob Zenn argues that Boko Haram, the organisation at the heart of the violence, will not be a short-lived phenomenon.

India: A massacre of Muslims in India is related to concerns over perceived illegal immigration from Bangladesh, says Krista Mahr, which are being ramped up by campaign rhetoric.

Sub-Saharan Africa

Nigeria: With continued attention on the fate of the hundreds of kidnapped schoolgirls, Sir Michael Barber questions whether we are serious about universal education or not? If we are, it means practical action in places like Chibok. Meanwhile, John Campbell writes of the Nigerian government's impotence in the face of the challenge. 

Kenya: This week the country saw four terrorist attacks in 48 hours. The increase in violence, combined with a poor response to the Westgate atrocity last year, is leading many Kenyans to question government policy, reports Baobab

Central African Republic: The conflict in the country continues to draw world attention and Human Rights Watch have this week released satellite images which appear to show the destruction caused in Bangui since the Muslim community were evacuated and driven from their homes earlier this year.

Central and South Asia

India/Pakistan: Pakistani passion for the 'liberation' of Kashmir is not matched in the region itself, argues Myra MacDonald, which would prefer something between autonomy and independence. However, with the likely election of Modi and an increase in rhetoric on Kashmir within Pakistan, there is a danger of an escalation of the conflict between the two countries.

Sri Lanka: Increased activity by an extremist Buddhist nationalist movement, the Bodu Bala Sena, has drawn attention recently and caused concern for minority religious groups in the country. Izeth Hussain provides an in-depth two–part analysis ( part one, part two) of their ideology and rationale.

East and South East Asia

Myanmar: The President of the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK, Tun Khin suggests that genocide is a real possibly in the Rohingya community. Meanwhile the Myanmar government has acknowledged the issue of citizenship for Rohingya Muslims, but argues there are legal and sovereignty issues to resolve.

Thailand: In the week when a Thai court orders the Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra to step down, the Diplomat raises the implications this has on the peace process in Southern Thailand which is already under threat.

China: With further attacks earlier this week in the western Xinjiang, Reuters reports on the economic struggle in the region, which is attracting migrant workers but the wealth is reportedly going to the Han Chinese rather than the local Uighur population.

Middle East and North Africa

Yemen: As internet access spreads, the government's ability to control the narrative – in particular regarding drone strikes and other operations against al-Qaeda – is weakening. But it comes at the cost of propaganda and misinformation from other sources as well, writes Adam Baron

Syria: Relations between the YPG (Syria's main Kurdish militia) and Turkey's government seem to be easing. However, as an  Al-Monitor interview with the leader of the YPG's political wing indicates, relations with other Kurdish groups remain tense.

Iraq: Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi Prime Minister, is eager to stay in office once the election results are in. But other Shia factions – vital to any coalition – may prefer a rival, argues the Economist.


Ukraine: As the crisis in Ukraine worsens, the attitudes of the churches – which span the divide between the west and the east of the country – are coming under scrutiny. But in senior Russian circles, radically anti-Western lines of thought are present in matters of religion as much as politics, says Erasmus


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