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Harassment of religious groups is on a rise in Europe and all over the world.

A research study by Pew has found harassment of religious people has increased recently, especially in Europe. Restrictions on the free practice of religion went up in 2015 from 2014. 84 percent of European countries were found to encourage some type of harassment of religious people, while 53 percent used actual force against religious groups.

Besides a rise in harassment of religious people in Europe, there is also a number of countries that have governments place legal restrictions on religious activities. Social hostilities related to religion are also on a rise, the research indicates. For example, 17 countries reported mob violence related to religion.

PewReligiousHarassmentEuropeThe majority of countries around the world have reported a government-backed harassment of religious groups. 53 percent of the 198 countries that were studied showed signs of widespread harassment of religions. This harassment comes in many forms, and can be direct and over or indirect and hidden. For example, in France, the ban on burkini and the vehemence with which it was enforced was direct over the display of religious harassment. Hidden ways of harassment in religious groups could be otherwise simple-seeming rules such as a prohibition of making religious references in public or not encouraging any kind of religious activity.

Religious restrictions also seem to be targeted specifically at Muslims and immigrants. Europe had been seeing immigrants from predominantly Muslim nations. Of late, there has been a spike in the number of cases where Muslims have been asked to remove their hijabs or shave their beards. Besides, there are also targeted attacks on Muslims, especially after attacks by terrorist organizations like ISIS have increased. Even though most of the harassment takes place under the guise of “national security,” everybody knows what is happening is religious harassment.

Another research also showed religious freedom is also under a massive attack in the U.S. In fact, the perception of Christian persecution in the U.S. drove most Christians to vote for Donald Trump. Christians are finding it harder to proclaim their religion, pray publicly or display their religious symbols in public, thanks to secularist forces.

Among the European countries that have been reported to use active force against religious groups, France and Russia are leading the charts.

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