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The price of social exclusion

 In the past two weeks the world has witnessed three major explosions of violence. In Pakistan, bombs went off inside the Church of All Saints in Peshawar, leaving over 80 people dead and more injured—some critically.

In Kenya, armed men ran riot in the plush Westfield Shopping Mall in Nairobi, leaving a still unknown number dead, with the list of injured not yet complete.

In The Philippines, hundreds of armed men held the city of Zamboanga hostage. Nearly 200 died and over 100,000 out of its one million population were forced to flee their homes.

Looking back into August, a poison gas attack in Syria is reported to have left over 2,000 dead, while the exact identity of the perpetrator is not clear, violent reprisals from outside nations were threatened and Pope Francis called for worldwide prayer and fasting for peace.

The victims in Pakistan were Christians, a minority group. History has seen them, together with Hindus, become victim to a series of violent attacks dating back to the foundation of the country. Both are socially excluded groups, denied rights of full citizenship and are people without a voice.

Richard James, a social commentator in Bhopal, India, pointed to Pakistan’s infamous Blasphemy Law, which prescribes the death penalty for anyone defaming the prophet, Allah, as encouraging violence against minorities. He called on the government to stop targeting minorities.

In predominately Christian Kenya, the attack on the mall was carried out by minority Islamist extremists. Adan Wachu, from the Supreme Council of Muslims, said that they appear to have spared those who could demonstrate their Islamic adherence. Social exclusion was cited as prompting the indefensible attack on non-Muslim people.

In the historically contested island of Mindanao in The Philippines, the Moro National Liberation Front, which laid siege to Zamboanga, has been left out of ongoing talks for peace among the formerly majority and now minority Muslims and the now majority Christian population, which colonised the area in the pre-World War II era.

Social exclusion appears to have prompted the extreme reaction.

Syrians have struggled against the dictatorial reign of the al-Assad family for decades. The voiceless population snapped when the government killed young children and the situation exploded into a disorganised and aimless revolution. The mood of the socially excluded made way for the totally erratic revolt that has seen hundreds of thousands killed over three years.

The recent conviction and sentencing of the employers of an Indonesian domestic worker in Hong Kong has highlighted the plight of a sizable group of people in the territory that has little voice and no political clout.

Jackie Hung Ling-yu, from the diocesan Justice and Peace Commission, pointed out that the social exclusion of this group makes way for atrocities, such as those the couple were convicted for, to be committed.

Children born to non-Chinese-speaking parents in Hong Kong have long been denied realistic opportunities to learn Cantonese effectively, resulting in extremely limited job opportunities and contributing to the continuation of the poverty cycle among particular ethnic groups that have lived in the city for decades.

The Occupy Central movement has grown out of exclusion from the political process and, while we may not have seen street violence in this city yet, there are elements making the threat.

An inclusive society is a peaceful societ. JiM