10 of the most oppressed minorities around the world

Whilst much of the world is pre-occupied with protesting against Donald Trump, as worthy as that may be,  I’d like to illustrate what real oppression looks like around the world with just some of the longest standing and most severe cases of ongoing injustice around the world.

10. Jewish and Christian people in some Muslim countries

With all the news about the Arab-Israeli conflict and the hate mongering speech against Israel and Jews by officials from Iran and other countries, you may not realise that Jews live in many of those countries. Many Jews lived in Iran until the 1979 Islamic revolution convinced most of them to get while the getting was good.  Of course, historically Jews have been discriminated against pretty severely at times, such as in Spain with the Inquisition and in Germany during the Holocaust. Russia and the Ukraine have historically conducted pogroms against Jews, and other supposedly liberal countries have had many cases of discrimination as well (such as the KKK in the US).  Traditionally Jewish people often found sanctuary in Muslim lands from Christian Europe.

Similarly Christian minorities are frequently intimidated and murdered in many nations.   They suffer from discriminatory practices and even badly invoked blasphemy laws.  Churches can be burnt to the ground with little official protection or justice.  In other places new churches cannot be built and the penalty for becoming Christian is punishable by death.


9. Albinos in Sub-Saharan Africa

Albinos among the Sub-Saharan black populations of Africa are commonly perceived as objects of fear and loathing. Witchcraft performed as part of native religions often results in the murder of human albinos, and to a large extent people afflicted with the disorder are shunned. Suffering from vision problems and sensitivity to the sun in Africa, albinos have it hard enough without the extreme discrimination from their fellow humans.

8. Native Americans in the USA

Whilst the big offences against Native Americans happened long ago and are in no way the blame or responsibility of those alive today, an underlying dismissive attitude towards them is still present in practice if not in law.  Still largely in reservation lands with few natural resources, their views are often ignored if they should clash with progress or corporate interests as is the case with the ongoing pipeline dispute at Standing Rock.

There remains a great detail of insensitivity given to their cultures which can easily be seen in the names of popular American sports teams, the Cleveland Indians (with their Chief Wahoo), Washington Redskins, and Atlanta Braves.   Change the ethnic group to another minority then it is hard to see it being allowed even if it was culturally acceptable 120 years ago.  I could give some examples but it would be clearly racist to do so.

7. LGBT around the world

There are 77 countries in the world where homosexuality being illegal, some places such as Russia have even gone backwards in recent years with regards to the rights of their citizens.

A painting protesting against the position of the LGBT community in Russia depicting Presidents Medvedev and Putin as lovers.

A painting protesting against the position of the LGBT community in Russia depicting Presidents Medvedev and Putin as lovers.




6. People with disabilities

Luckily in most western countries, legal protection is now strengthening to protect this group of people. Nevertheless wherever there are stairs and no lifts or ramps, narrow doorways, high door sills, bathrooms not adapted for handicapped use, street curbs and other monumental obstacles for the mobility of people suffering from limitations there is tremendous disadvantage for them.

Although most people do not say so, handicapped and disabled people frequenty don’t get a job they are qualified for and can ably accomplish because of perceptions that they are less capable or will be a “problem” somewhere down the road in the workplace. Even physical appearance outside the norm (such as burn victims, cancer victims, and other disfigured people) results in discrimination in many aspects of how these people are treated by others. The mobility part of this problem is changing, but the rest is changing ever so slowly if at all.  Let’s not even talk about those with invisible mental health issues such as depression.

5.  Indians and Pakistanis in Africa

Enterprising people from the Indian sub-continent have emigrated to Africa and worked hard to open businesses, becoming a shopkeeper class in many areas. Local native Africans frequently have resented the success of these immigrants and have sometimes reacted violently toward them, venting their envy and resentment. This backlash against newcomers perceived as making money off the poorer natives is manifested around the world.  From Indians, Pakistanis, Koreans, Lebanese, all suffer for the entrepreneurial spirit rather than welcomed for helping improve the wider community.

4.  Muslims in China

Muslim populations in China occasionally make it to the international news when the Chinese government harshly cracks down on them for protesting or advocating change. With 1 to 2% of the Chinese population being Muslim (perhaps 20 to 40 million people) 10 of the 55 Chinese minorities are Islamic. Most of the Chinese Muslim population is well integrated with the rest of the country, but it is the Uyghur people of the far western part of the country that have earned the enmity of the government by advocating for their own separate country. This population of around 8 and a half million people feels oppressed and yearns for independence.

A third of China shouldn't really by Chinese at all and since its conquest in the mid-20th century has been flooded with ethnic Han Chinese.

A third of China shouldn’t really by Chinese at all and since its conquest in the mid-20th century has been flooded with ethnic Han Chinese.

  • Uighurs are ethnically Turkic Muslims
  • They make up about 45% of the region’s population; 40% are Han Chinese
  • China re-established control in 1949 after crushing short-lived state of East Turkestan
  • Since then, there has been large-scale immigration of Han Chinese
  • Uighurs fear erosion of traditional culture

Uighurs are frequently executed or imprisoned, some for simply daring to express their own culture (similar to in Tibet).  Is China not big enough all ready?  If the majority of people anyway want independence is this not their right?

3. Kurds in Turkey and historically Syria and Iraq

Kurdish people understandably wonder how many other ethnic groups have won their own country in recent years.  In Turkey and Iraq the Kurds have been treated like captive people and insurrections are put down harshly. Left wondering what hit them when George H. W. Bush encouraged them to revolt from Iraq in 1991 and the US failed to supply the expected assistance, the Kurds were once again beaten back into submission. Apparently pressure from Turkey, a US Nato ally, keeps the US from orchestrating a Kurdish state on the Iraq-Turkey border.   Yet Kurds have time and again proven to be worthy of their own culture and country. If Kurdish has been banned in Turkey, who can blame them for that?   Even in the last year, Kurdish fighters have proven to be both the best and continually most moderate forces against ISIS.  Their self-governing territory in northern Iraq has become comparatively prosperous and peaceful compared to their Arab neighbours.  It is to be hoped one day soon they gain their own homeland but to do that they will have to overcome several hostile local governments.


2. Palestinians in Israel

Like the Jews in Muslim countries, Palestinians in Israel do not have 100% of the rights and privileges of Jewish citizens. Israelis seem to think Palestinians have a homeland, and that it should be Jordan, but Jordanians think differently. Most other Arab countries do not welcome Palestinians.  The argument that they easily go elsewhere is disingenuous and would be like telling any European to go in another European country or that millions of Americans shouldn’t complain about going to live in Mexico or Venezuela.

The video below is the famous footage of the murder of the terrified little boy Muhammad Al-Durrah.  Unusually, the IDF immediately admitted the crime but following a worldwide outrage backtracked…. the wall behind the boy was demolished a day or two later.  If only it were an isolated incident.   One way or the other, the situation needs to be resolved, not just for Palestinians but also Israelis too and not least us in the rest of the world who see it as a legitimate ongoing grievance that plays in to the hands of Islamic radicals.


  1. Women and girls in much of Africa, the Middle-East and Asia

The largest group of people listed here, female humans are not even a real minority as they outnumber men around the world. Still, in Muslim countries more than others they are discriminated against by law and by public sentiment. Not allowed to drive cars, initiate a divorce, make contracts, go to certain places, and forced to obey dress codes in some countries, women are second-class citizens in parts of the Muslim World.


Only a handful of countries even have laws to protect equality in the workplace for women.

In China with a law limiting families to one child, female babies are sometimes killed, and in modern countries female fetuses are often aborted. A common practice in countries ruled by Islamic laws is “female circumcision” or the removal of the clitoris of young girls, so that as women they are denied even pleasure from sexual activity. In Pakistan sentiment is so strong against girls being taught to read that Malala Yousafza was severely attacked on her school bus. Even in the United States where women are by law “equal” there is controversy today over the statistic that women employees earn only 77% as much as a man doing the same work, and getting a law passed mandating equal pay for equal work seems improbable.

Just last week that kind-hearted Putin in Russia changed the law so that domestic violence in Russia against women is legal and some Russian media even said that women should take pride in their resulting bruises.



About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including a #1 seller, I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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10 Responses to 10 of the most oppressed minorities around the world

  1. Ankur Mithal says:

    Fantastically informative and great overview. Of course the histories are much more complex.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Boyer Writes says:

    Stephen, this blog took a great deal of research and thought. The graphics and maps are most enlightening. Thank you for your efforts. Our world has so many problems and taken as a whole, difficult to fix. The Holy Scriptures tells us that if we will turn from our wicked ways and pray, God will heal our land. (paraphrased) As is pointed out in this excellent blog, I believe it will take a lot of “turning” and “praying” by people everywhere, as well as their government leaders.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank-you Nancy. It is a measure of how strongly I feel that there are far more injustices and much more suffering in the world than those who rightly or wrongly feel aggrieved by the recent Presidential election. Yes as a whole the problems seem unsurmountable and perhaps some are impossible to completely resolve whilst certain leaders or influential sections of societies follow particular selfish policies. Several of them though could be eradicated through education such as the treatment of Albinos in Africa or better legislation regarding equalities and civil rights. I really, really believe the Israel-Palestinian issue could be resolved very quickly if certain factors were to change. WW2 was concluded in just a few days and if Britain and Germany who one way or the other suffered millions of casualties could move to not just holding no grudges but being good friends then whatever biased governments and media report, the situation in Israel and Palestine is really petty and easy to resolve in comparison.


  3. Graham says:

    Superb, mate. One thing it proves is that it is often embarrassing to be human. “We” are appalling at the ways in which we discriminate against others. I have no doubt there must be other ways you haven’t captured that perhaps we don’t really know about (yet) that are happening under our noses too. Religion, colour, sexuality, gender…I mean good grief! You name it and people will find a way to discriminate – and often it is parents raising children to have their prejudices.

    I suppose you could add treatment of black people in slavery and continuing racial hatred in America (which I get the impression goes both ways really).

    People need to put aside religion (which is often manipulated to cause hatred and distrust anyway) and just take time to converse with and understand those in the group they fear or hate. Only by communication and understanding will we all realise that we are all pretty similar to one another and just maybe learn to respect each other.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is embarrassing isn’t it. If there are any aliens around, they would have to be crazy to waste their time here.

      I did think of adding black people but I thought that sadly that is almost taken for granted as it is in the news almost every day and I wanted to show some other situations. I do agree though that it rather goes both ways to an extent too.

      That’s one of the reasons I really like travelling to the most non-British places I can get to. When you’ve shared a drink with someone, even just water or tea, then you can never think badly of them again.

      I know I sometimes say things about Putin on here but I have several Russian friends in real life and on Facebook. People have to also learn not to be manipulated by the media and think for themselves on things.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Graham says:

        I was just thinking about living in NZ and the historic fight the Maori have had to try and ensure they get a fair deal. It is interesting as I haven’t really come across any white folks who show racism (not overtly anyway) towards them and indeed from my experience the Pacific Islanders tend to be really charming people…but yet it is they who make up the majority of the lower demographic.

        Nothing like in Australia where there does seem to be a history of oppression against the Aborigine.

        One thing that unites the Maori and whites (or Pakeha) is their dislike of the Chinese…fear of the new invader I guess.


  4. Shabb3r says:

    You mentioned that “A common practice in countries ruled by Islamic laws is “female circumcision” or the removal of the clitoris of young girls, so that as women they are denied even pleasure from sexual activity.”

    As an interesting point, none of the hadiths in the Sunni hadith books related to circumcision and attributed to the Prophet, differentiate between male or female circumcision and in fact there are hadiths which indicate females should also be circumcised. Because of this feature of the hadiths, many so called Muslim clergyman have passed verdicts that it is mandatory for females to be circumcised. Due to other influences, male genital cutting spread further than female whereas cutting male and female genitals appears to be equally advisory. This practice of female circumcision is widespread in many parts of Africa, Indonesia and Malaysia today because of these deviated un-Quranic teachings and lies preached by these so-called scholars. (taken from QuranicPath.com)

    Just wanna clarify.


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