Freedom of Religion Is under Attack in Latin America

Nov. 16 2022

Surveying several countries in Central and South America, Tomás Henríquez notes the various threats to religious believers:

In Mexico, it is illegal for clergy to speak about politics. Since 1917, priests, pastors, and other religious figures have been stripped of their fundamental freedoms by the law that prohibits Mexican citizens who are religious ministers from speaking for or against political candidates or parties. To this day . . . religious leaders are persecuted for what they say from the pulpit, parish radios, and church publications. Simply delivering reflections on the political, social, and cultural circumstances in their country may lead to the termination of a church’s legal personhood—speaking for or against a candidate is a criminal offense.

During the Mexican federal-election period in 2021, Juan Sandoval, Mario Ángel Flores, Carlos Aguiar, and Ángel Espinosa de los Monteros—members of the Catholic clergy—issued, at different times, calls for Catholics to participate in the electoral process and to vote according to their convictions. The priests were denounced by the ruling political party of President López Obrador, tried before an electoral tribunal under Article 130 of the Mexican constitution, and found guilty of “unlawful” politically oriented speech. Not only does the silencing of religious leaders violate their fundamental right to freedom of speech, it is also inherently discriminatory. . . .

In Argentina, there is growing discrimination in access to public office based on religious belief. Judicial officials have been known to question applicants as to whether they are religious believers in order to filter them out. There have also been instances of political impeachment of judges for daring to criticize the tenets of gender ideology underpinning the Argentine supreme court’s decision that liberalized abortion. These are but a few examples of an insidious climate of hostility that has permeated the interplay of faith and civic life in Argentina, threatening the country’s democratic processes at their core.

Read more at National Review

More about: Argentina, Freedom of Religion, Latin America, Mexico


Saudi Arabia Should Open Its Doors to Israeli—and Palestinian—Pilgrims

On the evening of June 26 the annual period of the Hajj begins, during which Muslims from all over the world visit Mecca and perform prescribed religious rituals. Because of the de-jure state of war between Saudi Arabia and the Jewish state, Israeli Muslim pilgrims—who usually number about 6,000—must take a circuitous (and often costly) route via a third country. The same is true for Palestinians. Mark Dubowitz and Tzvi Kahn, writing in the Saudi paper Arab News, urge Riyadh to reconsider its policy:

[I]f the kingdom now withholds consent for direct flights from Israel to Saudi Arabia, it would be a setback for those normalization efforts, not merely a continuation of the status quo. It is hard to see what the Saudis would gain from that.

One way to support the arrangement would be to include Palestinians in the deal. Israel might also consider earmarking its southern Ramon Airport for the flights. After all, Ramon is significantly closer to the kingdom than Ben-Gurion Airport, making for cheaper routes. Its seclusion from Israeli population centers would also help Israeli efforts to monitor outgoing passengers and incoming flights for security purposes.

A pilot program that ran between August and October proved promising, with dozens of Palestinians from the West Bank traveling back and forth from Ramon to Cyprus and Turkey. This program proceeded over the objections of the Palestinian Authority, which fears being sidelined by such accommodations. Jordan, too, has reason to be concerned about the loss of Palestinian passenger dinars at Amman’s airports.

But Palestinians deserve easier travel. Since Israel is willing to be magnanimous in this regard, Saudi Arabia can certainly follow suit by allowing Ramon to be the springboard for direct Hajj flights for Palestinian and Israeli Muslims alike. And that would be a net positive for efforts to normalize ties between [Jerusalem] and Riyadh.

Read more at Arab News

More about: Israel-Arab relations, Israeli Arabs, Palestinians, Saudi Arabia