Muslim Extremists Pose More of a Threat in Southeast Asia

Muslim Extremists Pose More of a Threat in Southeast Asia

New research from PEW Research has found that Muslims and Buddhists in Southeast Asia believe Muslim extremists are more concerning and dangerous than the growth of ‘minority’ religions like Christianity in their region. This study looked at religious tolerance in six countries in the region – Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Singapore, and Cambodia.

However, the research also found that “around half of Muslims in Malaysia say the growing numbers of Christians (52%) and Buddhists (49%) are threats. And 68% of Buddhists in Sri Lanka say the growing number of Muslims is a threat.” This trend indicates that Muslims and Buddhists in the region are increasingly seeing the rapid growth of other faiths, especially Christianity, as more of a potential threat to their national, cultural, and religious identity.

These findings are telling when considering that Islam and Buddhism are the dominant religions across the region for most Southeast Asians. This research is helpful as it helps survey and analyze the different views of locals about various religions and religious tolerance.

It also provides a good context to better understand the growing persecution of Christians in this region.

Many Christians continue to face persecution in this region with blasphemy and anti-conversion laws, church closures, violence, harassment, and numerous other hardships. Issues around religious tolerance, historical national and cultural identities, and political pressure and ideologies like Marxism add even more weight to the burdens our brothers and sisters face in the region.

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