Religious Restrictions on the Rise

Christians and Muslims are the most persecuted

The ninth edition of Pew Research Center's annual report on religious restrictions revealed a rise of limitations in 2016 . Researchers found that approximately 42 percent of the surveyed countries have considerable religious restriction levels. This includes hostile acts carried out by private individuals or government. The study comprised a total of 198 nations.

This is the second consecutive year that religion suffered empirical restrictions either through actions led by the government or pressured by religion or social groups. To compare, it was 40 percent in 2015. Much higher than 2007 when it was only 29 percent. The study found the number of countries dropping into this repressive list have risen over the years. The statistics point out that about 28 percent of nations within this survey imposed high or extremely high government restriction levels on religion during 2016. This is a rise of 25 percent from 2015. The Pew study showed that the number of countries with religious hostilities remained the same at 27 percent.

When it came to mapping politics with geography, the Pew study showed citizens of North Africa along with the Middle East suffered the most government restrictions on their religion. Both Americans and Europeans went through a period of increasing averages on the issue of hostility based on religion and society. The nationalist groups played a pivotal role in the religion restriction upswing, specifically through targeting certain religious and ethnic minorities.

It is disturbing when governments themselves join in. Approximately 11 percent of the surveyed nations witnessed government actors who purposefully utilized anti-immigrant and nationalist rhetoric to target disfavored religious groups in 2016. A rise of five percent from the recent past.

On an empirical level, the number of nations where several religious groups were subjected to harassment by either social groups or by the government themselves rose in 2016. The statistics represent the highest number of countries where citizens faced harassment since 2007, the year this study began. Among all religious groups, the top two targeted were Muslims and Christians. Governments of 144 countries targeted Christians. About 142 nations targeted Muslims. Members of the Jewish religion suffered harassment in a total of 87 countries, a regrettable rise from the 2015 decrease. The Chinese Government has imposed the maximum number of religious restrictions.

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