August 10, 2011

Restrictions on religion increase globally

by Jan Harris

Restrictions on religion, either by governments or because of social intolerance, increased for one third of the world’s population between 2006 and 2009.

Restrictions on religion eased for just one per cent of the world’s population during the same period.

The findings by the Pew Forum, show that the situation for followers of religions has deteriorated most severely in those countries where
high levels of restrictions or hostilities were already present.

The countries where there were substantial decreases in restrictions or hostilities already scored low, suggesting further polarization between the two extremes.

Restrictions on religion increased in the UK, China, Nigeria, Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam mainly due to an increase in social hostilities involving religion.

In Egypt and France, increases in restrictions on religion were mainly due to government restrictions.

Europe had the largest proportion of countries in which social hostilities related to religion increased.

Five of the 10 countries with a substantial increase in social hostilities were in Europe: the UK, Bulgaria, Denmark, Russia, and Sweden.

The report found Japan to be the most religiously tolerant of the world’s countries, with the fewest number of government crackdowns and social hostilities, followed by Brazil in second place.

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