Religious segregation

Religious segregation is the separation of people according to their religion. The term has been applied to cases of religious-based segregation occurring as a social phenomenon,[1] as well as to segregation arising from laws, whether explicit or implicit.[2]

The similar term religious apartheid has also been used for situations where people are separated based on religion,[3] including sociological phenomena.[4]

Northern Ireland

In 2012 Foreign Policy reported that

The number of "peacewalls," physical barriers separating Catholic and Protestant communities, has increased sharply since the first ceasefires in 1994. Most people in the region cannot envisage the barriers being removed, according to a recent survey conducted by the University of Ulster. In housing and education, Northern Ireland remains one of the most segregated tracts of land anywhere on the planet -- less than one in 10 children attends a school that is integrated between Catholics and Protestant. This figure has remained stubbornly low despite the cessation of violence.[5]

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Jonathan Steele of The Guardian has argued that Bosnia and Herzegovina is "a dependent, stifled, apartheid regime". In his view, the U.N. control of Bosnia under the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, which he described as "UN-sanctioned liberal imperialism", creates "dependency, stifles civil society, and produces a highly visible financial apartheid in which an international salariat lords it over a war-wounded and jobless local population."[6]


Shi'a Islam has been the state religion of Iran since the Iranian Revolution in 1979. While Judaism, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism are officially recognized and legally protected religious minorities, they are not allowed to evangelize or allow Muslim Iranians to convert to their faiths. The U.S. State Department has claimed that religious minorities have been subject to harassment and persecution.[7]

Other religious minorities like the Bahá'í are not recognized by the government and thus do not have any legal protections nor the constitutional right to practice their religion.[8] The Muslim Network for Bahá'í Rights has reported cases of Bahá'í students being expelled from university due to their religion.[9][10][11] According to the Times Higher Education, Bahá'í educators are required to renounce their faith in order to teach in Iranian universities.[12] Due to its heterodox beliefs, the Bahá'í faith is officially considered a heretical movement[13][14] because of the Bahá'í belief that Bahá'u'lláh is a divinely ordained prophet in contradiction of the Qur'an, which asserts that Muhammad is the last and final messenger sent to mankind .[15]


Pakistan is officially an Islamic country and defines who and who is not a Muslim. Under these conditions, Ahmadi Muslims are declared non-Muslim by law of the land and cannot practice their faith freely. They are not permitted to call their mosques as mosques, or meet with people with the Islamic greeting of Peace. Ahmadi Muslims are excluded from government and any other high-profile positions within Pakistan. There have been cases when the Ahmadi Muslims have been expelled from schools, colleges and Universities, for being Ahmadi Muslim.[16][17] Once the entire population of Rabwah, the Pakistani headquarters of Ahmadi Muslims was charged under Anti-Ahmadiyya laws.[18]


Saudi Arabia

Road sign on a highway into Mecca, stating that one direction is "Muslims only" while another direction is "obligatory for non-Muslims". Religious police are stationed beyond the turnoff on the main road to prevent non-Muslims from proceeding into Mecca.[19]

Prior to March 1, 2004, the official Saudi government website stated that Jews were forbidden from entering the country, however, it was not enforced into practice.[20][21][22]

In the City of Mecca, only Muslims are allowed. Non-Muslims may not enter or travel through Mecca; attempting to enter Mecca as a non-Muslim can result in penalties such as a fine;[19] being in Mecca as a non-Muslim can result in deportation.[23]

In the City of Medina, both Muslims and Non-Muslims are allowed in. The exception are non-Muslims entering the Nabawi Square, where the Al-Masjid Al-Nabawi is located.[24][25]


On the banks of the Bagmati River in Kathmandu, Nepal is a Pashupatinath Temple dedicated to Pashupatinath. This temple complex which is on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites's list since 1979 was erected anew in the 15th century by King kirat Yalamber.

Entry into the inner courtyard is strictly monitored by the temple security, which is selective of who is allowed inside. Practicing Hindus and Buddhists of Indian and Tibetan descendant are only allowed into temple courtyard. Practicing Hindus of western descent are not allowed into the temple complex along with other non Hindu visitors. Others can look at the main temple from adjacent side of the river.


The debate over the ban on non-Hindus entering Hindu temples began around 30 years ago when singer Yesudas, who planned to take part in a music programme, was stopped at the Guruvayur temple gate. He finally had to sing bhajans outside the temple wall. Though several temples in Kerala have signs saying that non-Hindus are denied entry, few of them enforce it as strictly as the Guruvayur temple, which insists on following its distinct traditions.'Only Orthodox Hindus are allowed’, reads a signboard hanging from the Lion's Gate of the Sri Jagannath Temple in Puri. The issue has triggered many a controversy in the past and continues to arouse strong feelings even today.

The temple is an important pilgrimage destination for many Hindu traditions and part of the Char Dham pilgrimages that a Hindu is expected to make in one's lifetime.

In the past a number of dignitaries, including former prime minister Indira Gandhi, had not been allowed to enter the 12th century shrine because she had married a Parsi, Feroze Gandhi. In 2005, the Queen of Thailand Mahachakri Siridharan was not allowed inside the temple as she was a follower of Buddhism.

In 2006, the shrine did not allow a citizen of Switzerland named Elizabeth Jigler, who had donated Rs. 1.78 crore to the temple because she was a Christian. Kashi Vishvanath In Varanasi Located in Varanasi, the temple stands on the western bank of the holy river Ganga, and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the holiest of Shiva temples. The most famous of the many temples in Varanasi is the one dedicated to Vishveswara -- Shiva as lord of the universe. The gleaming gold spires give it the name, Golden Temple.

Non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple, although this is not always enforced. On the northern side of Vishwanath Temple is the Gyan Kupor well. Non-Hindus are strictly not allowed to enter here.



The 2012 Rakhine State riots are a series of ongoing conflicts between Rohingya Muslims and ethnic Rakhine in northern Rakhine State, Myanmar. The riots came after weeks of sectarian disputes and have been condemned by most people on both sides of the conflict.[26] The immediate cause of the riots is unclear, with many commentators citing the killing of ten Burmese Muslims by ethnic Rakhine after the rape and murder of a Rakhine woman as the main cause.[27]

Whole villages have been "decimated".[27] Over three hundred houses and a number of public buildings have been razed. According to Tun Khin, the President of the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK), as of 28 June 650 Rohingyas have been killed, 1,200 are missing, and more than 80,000 have been displaced.[28] According to the Myanmar authorities, the violence, between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims, left 78 people dead, 87 injured, and thousands of homes destroyed. It also displaced more than 52,000 people.[29]

The government has responded by imposing curfews and by deploying troops in the region. On 10 June 2012, a state of emergency was declared in Rakhine, allowing the military to participate in the administration of the region.[30][31] The Burmese army and police have been accused of targeting Rohingya Muslims through mass arrests and arbitrary violence.[28][32] A number of monks' organisations that played a vital role in Burma's struggle for democracy have taken measures to block any humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya community.[33] In July 2012, the Myanmar Government did not include the Rohingya minority group–-classified as stateless Bengali Muslims from Bangladesh since 1982—on the government's list of more than 130 ethnic races and therefore the government says that they have no claim to Myanmar citizenship.[34]

According to Amnesty International, the Muslim Rohingya people have continued to suffer from human rights violations under the Burmese junta since 1978, and many have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh as a result.[35]

As of 2005, the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) had been assisting with the repatriation of Rohingya from Bangladesh, but allegations of human rights abuses in the refugee camps have threatened this effort.[36]

Despite earlier efforts by the UN, the vast majority of Rohingya refugees have remained in Bangladesh, unable to return because of the regime in Myanmar. Now they face problems in Bangladesh where they do not receive support from the government.[37] In February 2009, many Rohingya refugees were helped by Acehnese sailors in the Strait of Malacca, after 21 days at sea.[38]

Over the years thousands of Rohingya also have fled to Thailand. There are roughly 111,000 refugees housed in nine camps along the Thai-Myanmar border. There have been charges that groups of them have been shipped and towed out to open sea from Thailand, and left there. In February 2009, there was evidence of the Thai army towing a boatload of 190 Rohingya refugees out to sea. A group of refugees rescued by Indonesian authorities also in February 2009 told harrowing stories of being captured and beaten by the Thai military, and then abandoned at open sea. By the end of February, there were reports that of a group of five boats were towed out to open sea, of which four boats sank in a storm, and one washed up on the shore. February 12, 2009 Thailand's prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said there were "some instances" in which Rohingya people were pushed out to sea.

"There are attempts, I think, to let these people drift to other shores. [...] when these practices do occur, it is done on the understanding that there is enough food and water supplied. [...] It's not clear whose work it is [...] but if I have the evidence who exactly did this I will bring them to account."

See also


  1. Knox, H. M. (October 1973). "Religious Segregation in the Schools of Northern Ireland". British Journal of Educational Studies. "...[S]egregated schooling, although in theory open to all, is in practice availed of by virtually only one denomination...." Also refers to pre-Partition religious schools which retained their exclusively Catholic demographics after Partition.
  2. Norgren, Jill; Nanda, Serena (2006). American Cultural Pluralism and Law. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 132. ISBN 0-275-98692-6., quoting U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in Board of Education of Kiryas Joel Village School District v. Grumet: "...[D]rawing school district lines along the religious lines of the village impermissibly involved the state in accomplishing the religious segregation."
  3. Akkaro, Anta (2000-09-01). "Pakistan's Christians Demand End to 'Religious Apartheid' at Polls". Christianity Today. Retrieved 2008-08-18.
  4. "Religion In Schools". The Big Debate. 2008-01-29. 0:09:29 and 0:11:52 minutes in., in which Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain says (at 0:09:29): "If you have separate Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu schools, essentially you’re segregating children, you’re separating children" and (at 0:11:52): "It’s a religious apartheid society we’re creating."
  5. "Return of the Troubles". Retrieved 29 November 2016 via Foreign Policy.
  6. Steele, Jonathan. Today's Bosnia: a dependent, stifled, apartheid regime. The Guardian, November 11, 2005.
  7. U.S. Department of State (2005-09-15). "International Religious Freedom Report 2006 - Iran". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 2006-11-08.
  8. "Discrimination against religious minorities in IRAN" (PDF). FIDH. p. 6. Retrieved 2008-08-03.
  9. "Baha'i children in Egypt not being admitted to schools because of their faith". Muslim Network for Bahá'í Rights. Retrieved 2008-08-03.
  10. "School's Out for the Bahá'ís". Mideast Youth. Retrieved 2008-08-03.
  11. "Confidential Iran memo exposes policy to deny Bahá'í students university education". Bahá'í World News Service. Retrieved 2008-08-03.
  12. "Segregation in Iran". Times Higher Education. TSL Education Ltd. Retrieved 2008-08-03.
  13. "Iran: Religious minority reports arson attacks". Persian Journal. Archived from the original on June 10, 2013. Retrieved 2008-08-03.
  14. "Islam and apostasy". The Religion Report. ABC Radio National (Australia). Retrieved 2008-08-05.
  15. "Bahá'í believers know freedom and oppression". Clarion Ledger. Retrieved 2008-08-03.
  16. "Ahmadis expelled from school". Express Tribune. October 8, 2011. Retrieved April 6, 2014.
  17. "Persecution of Ahmadis in September 2013". Human Rights Asia. Retrieved April 6, 2014.
  19. 1 2 Sandra Mackey's account of her attempt to enter Mecca in Mackey, Sandra (1987). The Saudis: Inside the Desert Kingdom. W. W. Norton & Company. pp. 63–64. ISBN 0-393-32417-6.
  20. "The official tourism website stated that Jews were banned from entering the country; however, it was not enforced in practice." United States Department of State. Saudi Arabia, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2004, February 28, 2005.
  21. "Jews barred, said Saudi Web site". CNN. February 28, 2004. Retrieved 2008-06-02.
  22. "". Archived from the original on 2004-02-06. Retrieved 2008-07-21.
  23. Cuddihy, Kathy (2001). An A To Z Of Places And Things Saudi. Stacey International. p. 148. ISBN 1-900988-40-2.
  24. "How could Guru Nanak visit Mecca if he wasn't a Muslim? - Sikh Answers". Retrieved 29 November 2016.
  26. "Four killed as Rohingya Muslims riot in Myanmar: government". Reuters. 8 June 2012. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
  27. 1 2 Lauras, Didier (15 September 2012). "Myanmar stung by global censure over unrest". Agence France-Presse in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
  28. 1 2 Hindstorm, Hanna (28 June 2012). "Burmese authorities targeting Rohingyas, UK parliament told". Democratic Voice of Burma. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
  29. "UN refugee agency redeploys staff to address humanitarian needs in Myanmar". UN News. 29 June 2012. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
  30. Linn Htet (11 June 2012). "အေရးေပၚအေျခအေန ေၾကညာခ်က္ ႏုိင္ငံေရးသမားမ်ား ေထာက္ခံ". The Irrawaddy. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
  31. Keane, Fergal (11 June 2012). "Old tensions bubble in Burma". BBC News. Retrieved 2012-06-11.
  32. "UN focuses on Myanmar amid Muslim plight". PressTV. 13 July 2012. Archived from the original on 17 July 2012. Retrieved 13 July 2012.
  33. Hindstorm, Hanna (25 July 2012). "Burma's monks call for Muslim community to be shunned". The Independent. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  34. "Rohingyas are not citizens: Myanmar minister". 1 August 2012.
  35. "UNHCR threatens to wind up Bangladesh operations". New Age BDNEWS, Dhaka. 2005-05-21. Retrieved 2007-04-25.
  36. "BBC NEWS - Asia-Pacific - Burmese exiles in desperate conditions". Retrieved 29 November 2016.
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