RFI’s Paul Marshall Discusses Repression in South and Southeast Asia

May 27, 2022

Paul Marshall, Director of RFI’s South and Southeast Asia Action Team, was recently interviewed on the National Catholic Register’s “Religious Freedom Matters” podcast to discuss the rise of religious repression in India, Pakistan, and elsewhere in the region. In the course of the interview, Marshall addressed the background and religious dynamics in different countries, various types of ongoing religious freedom violations, and the contributing factors fueling those violations. 

Giving an overview of religion in South and Southeast Asia, Marshall said: 

In almost every one of [these] countries, religion is a powerful force. And in most of them, more radical forms of religion have been getting stronger. So this has been very bad, especially for religious minorities. And each country is, of course, different. But I would say the overall pattern is increased tension, increased repression.

When asked what he believes contributes to escalating religious repression in some countries, Marshall explained that he believes globalization is a key factor:

The challenge of globalization, I think, threatens many people, and so they want to put as many barriers as they can around their religious beliefs and practices. And then leaders … particularly authoritarian leaders, will take advantage of this. This has happened throughout the history of Pakistan, particularly when the military has come into power. So, a sense of being threatened, of being challenged by new ways of life — [which] politicians then manipulate — [gives rise to] repression…

Listen to the full interview: “Paul Marshall on Religious Freedom and Persecution in South Asia