.- Government restrictions on religion continued to rise across the globe in 2016, according to a recently released Pew study, which linked the stifling of religion to nationalist parties and organizations.
“This marks the second year in a row of increases in the overall level of restrictions imposed either by governments or by private actors (groups and individuals) in the 198 countries examined in the study,” said the Pew report.
The research found that 42 percent of countries experienced high or very high levels of overall religious restriction, which included hostile acts by government or private individuals or groups. This number is up from 40 percent in 2015, and 29 percent in 2007.
“This marks the biggest number of countries to fall in this top category since Pew Research Center began analyzing restrictions on religion in 2007,” Pew said.
“The share of countries with ‘high’ or ‘very high’ levels of government restrictions…rose from 25 percent in 2015 to 28 percent in 2016,” the study found. “Meanwhile, the share of countries with ‘high’ or ‘very high’ levels of social hostilities involving religion…remained stable in 2016 at 27 percent.”
The Middle-East and North Africa experienced the highest median level of government restrictions on religion, while Europe and the Americas were the only areas to experience an increase in median levels of social religious hostility.
Additionally, the research pointed to nationalist groups’ role in the rise of religious restrictions, particularly through targeting specific ethnic and religious minorities.
“In many countries, restrictions on religion resulted from actions taken by government officials, social groups or individuals espousing nationalist positions,” the Pew study noted.
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