Religious groups face increased hostility and limits worldwide – Pew report
Violence and discrimination against religious groups by governments and rival faiths have reached new highs in all regions of the world except the Americas, according to a new Pew Research Center report.
Social hostility such as attacks on minority faiths or pressure to conform to certain norms was strong in one-third of the 198 countries and territories surveyed in 2012, especially in the Middle East and North Africa, it said on Tuesday.
Religious-related terrorism and sectarian violence occurred in one-fifth of those countries in that year, while states imposed legal limits on worship, preaching or religious wear in almost 30 percent of them, Pew said.
“Religious hostilities increased in every major region of the world except the Americas,” Pew said in its report, the latest such survey in a series based on data back to 2007.
The Washington-based Center, which is non-partisan and takes no policy position in its reports, gave no reason for the rises noted in hostility against Christians, Muslims, Jews and an “other” category including Sikhs, Bah’ais and atheists.
Hindus, Buddhists and folk religions saw lower levels of hostility and little change in the past six years, according to the report’s extensive data.
As some restrictive countries such as China, Indonesia, Russia and Egypt also have large populations, Pew estimated that 76 percent of the total global population faces some sort of official or informal restriction on their faith.
A report last week by the Christian group Open Doors said documented cases of Christians killed for their faith last year had doubled to 2,123 around the world, with Syria accounting for more than the entire global total in 2012.