US report: Religious intolerance on the rise worldwide

A report released on Thursday by the US thinktank Pew Research Centre’s Forum on Religion and Public Life notes a sharp rise in religious restrictions worldwide.

The report titled “The Rising Tide of Restrictions on Religion” shows a six percent increase in restrictions in the four years until 2010.

The report cites evidence that paints a stark picture of a “rising tide” of intolerance and government restrictions on religious matters.

Evidence include “crimes, malicious acts and violence motivated by religious hatred or bias, as well as increased government interference with worship or other religious practices”.

The survey has seen an acceleration of the tendency towards religious intolerance, reporting a 63 percent rise from mid-2009 to mid-2010 in the number of countries that increased government restrictions, in comparison with Pew’s last survey that had noted a 56 percent rise.

“The number of countries where harassment or intimidation of specific religious groups took place rose from 147 as of mid-2009 to 160 as of mid-2010,” the report says.

Among countries showing marked increases in religious intolerance for the first time – albeit still only classed as “moderate” – was the United States.

The report notes that the percentage of the world’s population living in countries with low levels of restriction fell between 2007 and 2010 from 14 percent to 6 percent.

The survey reports that in all five major regions of the world – including the Americas and sub-Saharan Africa where religious restrictions previously had been declining – freedom of faith was coming under increasing pressure.

The increase in religious restrictions comes as recent surveys have appeared to demonstrate that the world is becoming more religious.


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