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Religion, LGBT, Ethnicity: Ranking African Intolerance

The painting ''Mandela'' by Chinese artist Li Bin in Johannesburg
The painting ''Mandela'' by Chinese artist Li Bin in Johannesburg

Neighbors don't always need good fences. The weekly Jeune Afrique reports some encouraging findings in a wide-ranging study on tolerance for diversity taken in 33 African countries. Overall, the results indicated growing levels of tolerance for ethnic and religious diversity, though this was contrasted with lingering prejudice against homosexuals.

Research firm Afrobarometer conducted the poll in 2014 and 2015, asking 50,000 Africans how they felt about living next door to members of a different religious or ethnic group, gays, migrants or people who are HIV-positive. "We chose the figure of the neighbor because in our societies, it's someone we are really close to," said Richard Houessou, one of Afrobarometer's directors, in an interview with Jeune Afrique.

Most Africans in the study were unperturbed by ethnic and religious differences, and ethnic tolerance was strongest — reported by 99% of respondents — in Gabon and Senegal.

Religious tolerance, while relatively widespread, was more commonly reported in sub-Saharan states than in northern, mainly Islamic states. While in most sub-Saharan states the vast majority of those polled expressed openness to having neighbors of a different religion, in Morocco those toleratnt of the idea dipping to 67%, in Tunisia to 65% and in Niger, all the way down to 51%.

Gay neighbors are far less welcome in Africa, the poll found, with an average of 21% of survey participants in the 33 states saying they wouldn't mind living next to homosexuals, though younger Africans tended to be more tolerant than their elders. South Africa and Mozambique were the most tolerant states towards gays, with 67% and 56% of respondents, respectively, saying they wouldn't mind having a gay neighbor. By comparison, only 3% of Senegalese, 4% of Guinean and 5% of Nigerian and Ugandan respondents shared this view.

Afrobarometer also averaged the five measures of tolerance. By this standard, Namibia, Burundi and Togo were the most tolerant states, and Tunisia was the least.

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Geopolitics

Smaller Allies Matter: Afghanistan Offers Hard Lessons For Ukraine's Future

Despite controversies at home, Nordic countries were heavily involved in the NATO-led war in Afghanistan. As the Ukraine war grinds on, lessons from that conflict are more relevant than ever.

Photo of Finnish Defence Forces in Afghanistan

Finnish Defence Forces in Afghanistan

Johannes Jauhiainen

-Analysis-

HELSINKI — In May 2021, the Taliban took back power in Afghanistan after 20 years of international presence, astronomical sums of development aid and casualties on all warring sides.

As Kabul fell, a chaotic evacuation prompted comparisons to the fall of Saigon — and most of the attention was on the U.S., which had led the original war to unseat the Taliban after 9/11 and remained by far the largest foreign force on the ground. Yet, the fall of Kabul was also a tumultuous and troubling experience for a number of other smaller foreign countries who had been presented for years in Afghanistan.

In an interview at the time, Antti Kaikkonen, the Finnish Minister of Defense, tried to explain what went wrong during the evacuation.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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“Originally we anticipated that the smaller countries would withdraw before the Americans. Then it became clear that getting people to the airport had become more difficult," Kaikkonen said. "So we decided last night to bring home our last soldiers who were helping with the evacuation.”

During the 20-year-long Afghan war, the foreign troop presence included many countries:Finland committed around 2,500 soldiers,Sweden 8,000,Denmark 12,000 and Norway 9,000. And in the nearly two years since the end of the war, Finland,Belgium and theNetherlands have commissioned investigations into their engagements in Afghanistan.

As the number of fragile or failed states around the world increases, it’s important to understand how to best organize international development aid and the security of such countries. Twenty years of international engagement in Afghanistan offers valuable lessons.

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