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Tenth annual report dives deeper into the ways government restrictions on religion and social hostilities involving religion have changed, from to Over the decade from togovernment restrictions on religion — laws, policies and actions by state officials that restrict religious beliefs and practices — increased markedly around the world. And social hostilities involving religion — including violence and harassment by private individuals, organizations or groups — also have risen sincethe year Pew Research Center began tracking the issue. And the of countries where people are experiencing the highest levels of social hostilities involving religion has risen from 39 to 56 over the course of the study.
Government restrictions have risen in several different ways. Laws and policies restricting religious freedom such as requiring that religious groups register in order to operate and government favoritism of religious groups through funding for religious education, property and clergy, for example have consistently been the most prevalent types of restrictions globally and in each of the five regions tracked in the study: Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Middle East-North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.
For more details on thesesee here. Levels of government limits on religious activities and government harassment of religious groups are somewhat lower. But they also have been rising over the past decade — and in some cases, even more steeply.
The global pattern has not been as consistent when it comes to social hostilities involving religion. One category of social hostilities has increased substantially — hostilities related to religious norms for example, harassment of women for violating religious dress codes — driving much of the overall rise in social hostilities involving religion. Two other types of social hostilities, harassment by individuals and social groups ranging from small gangs to mob violence and religious violence by organized groups including neo-Nazi groups such as the Nordic Resistance Movement and Islamist groups like Boko Haramhave risen more modestly.
By one specific measure, in91 countries experienced some level of violence due to tensions between religious groups, but by that dropped to 57 countries. These trends suggest that, in general, religious restrictions have been rising around the world for the past decade, but they have not been doing so evenly across all geographic regions or all kinds of restrictions.
The level of restrictions started high in the Middle East-North Africa region, and is now highest there in all eight measured by the study. This big-picture view of restrictions on religion comes from a decadelong series of studies by Pew Research Center analyzing the extent to which governments and societies around the world impinge on religious beliefs and practices.
Researchers annually comb through more than a dozen publicly available, widely cited sources of information, including annual reports on international religious freedom by the U. State Department and the U. Commission on International Religious Freedom, as well as publications by a variety of European and UN bodies and several independent, nongovernmental organizations. See Methodology for more details on sources used in the study.
Due to the availability of the source material and the time it takes to code, each annual Pew Research Center report looks at events that took place about 18 months to two years before its publication. For example, this report covers events that occurred in The studies are part of the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures project, which analyzes religious change and its impact on societies around the world.
The reports have focused largely on year-over-year change, but this 10th report provides an opportunity for a broader look back at how the situation has changed around the world — and, more specifically, in particular regions and in countries — over the length of the study. Also for the first time this year, researchers have broken down the two main, point indexes used in the study — the Government Restrictions Index GRI and the Social Hostilities Index SHI — into four each.
The can help give readers a sense of what goes into the broader GRI and SHI scores, and they also are useful when comparing countries that have similar overall scores but very different situations within their borders. France scores low in the category of government favoritism, while Qatar scores much higher Islam is the official state religion, according to the constitution.
And while Qatar scores lower on government harassment of religious groups, France has higher scores in this category, which includes enforcing restrictions on religious dress. France continues to enforce a national ban on full-face coverings in public, and local authorities also impose various restrictions that mostly affect Muslim women. Infor example, the city of Lorette banned hecarves in a public pool. For a full list of how all countries and territories included in the study score in each category, see Appendix C. The remainder of this overview looks in more detail at the eight of restrictions on religion — four involving government restrictions and four involving social hostilities by private groups or individuals.
The Government Restrictions Index measures government laws, policies and actions that restrict religious beliefs and practices. The GRI comprises 20 measures of restrictions, now grouped into the following : 6.
One of the consistent takeaways from a decade of tracking is the relatively high level of government restrictions on religion in the Middle East and North Africa MENAwhich has ranked above all other regions each year from to The new study shows that the Middle East has high levels of restrictions across all four inbut the gap in government favoritism is particularly large: The average country in the MENA region scores nearly twice as high on measures of government favoritism as the average country in any other region.
Indeed, 19 of the 20 countries in the Middle East all except Lebanon favor a religion — 17 have an official state religion, and two have a preferred or favored religion. Additionally, all countries in the region defer in some way to religious authorities or doctrines on legal issues. However, when one spouse is Muslim and the other has a different religion such as Coptic Christianityor if spouses are members of different Christian denominations, courts defer to Islamic family law.
However, government favoritism has barely increased in the Middle East over the course of the study, partly because it started at such a high level that there was not much room for growth on the scale. In the other four major geographic regions, meanwhile, there have been notable increases in the levels of government favoritism of religious groups. Some of the largest increases occurred in sub-Saharan Africa. For example, inComoros passed a constitutional referendum that declared Islam the state religion.
In the Asia-Pacific region, government favoritism of particular religious groups also has increased since For instance, in Turkey, the government passed a law in giving Muslim religious authorities at the province and district level the authority to register marriages and officiate at weddings on behalf of the state. Most countries with the highest scores in government favoritism as of including Afghanistan, Bahrain and Bangladesh have Islam as their official state religion.
But not all the countries on this list favor Islam. In Greece, Iceland and the United Kingdom, different Christian denominations are the official state religions. At the country level, one of the largest increases since in the favoritism category occurred in the Pacific island nation of Samoa. Inthe Samoan government began to enforce a education policy that makes Christian instruction mandatory in public primary schools. Again, the Middle East-North Africa region has higher levels of these restrictions than other regions, although after an initial rise from tothe overall level of government laws and policies restricting religious freedom has been relatively stable in the MENA region as a whole.
Other regions have seen recent increases in restrictions in this category — particularly sub-Saharan Africa, which experienced a sharp rise in government laws and policies restricting religious freedom between and Rules on government registration of religious groups contributed heavily to the high scores in this category across all regions. Many countries require some form of registration for religious groups to operate, and at least four-in-ten countries in the Americas and more than half the countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the Asia-Pacific region and Europe had a registration process in that, at a minimum, adversely affected the ability of some groups to carry out their religious activities.
In the Middle East and North Africa, this was the case in more than eight-in-ten countries.
In some cases, governments recognize only a specific set of religious groups and deny registration and, hence, official recognition to all others. Elsewhere, bureaucratic hurdles create cumbersome registration processes that disadvantage particular groups. For example, in Eritrea, the government recognizes and registers only four religious groups — the Eritrean Orthodox Church, Sunni Islam, the Roman Catholic Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Eritrea — and since no other groups have been registered or allowed to perform religious activities and services.
The countries with the highest scores in the category of laws and policies restricting religious freedom are spread across Asia, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. In China, for example, only certain religious groups are allowed to register with the government and hold worship services. However, there were reports that the Chinese government arrested, tortured and physically abused members of both registered and unregistered religious groups.
It is also illegal for Muslims to convert to another religion. SinceHungary has experienced a large increase in its score in this category. A new law in changed the registration process for religious groups and effectively deregistered more than groups, adversely affecting their finances and ability to offer charitable social services.
There has been a bigger increase in government limits on religious activities — such as restrictions on religious dress, public or private worship or religious literature — in Europe than in any other region during the course of the study. A growing of European countries have placed restrictions on religious dress, with regulations that can range from prohibitions on wearing religious symbols or clothing in photographs for official documents or in public service jobs to national bans on religious dress in public places. Infive countries were reported to have such restrictions in Europe, but bythat had increased to 20 countries.
The of European governments that interfered in worship or other religious practices also has been on the rise since In Moldova, for example, several local councils in banned Muslim worship in public. In Germany, a district court ruling in Cologne in criminalized male circumcision for nonmedical reasons, classifying it as assault. Following complaints, the federal government introduced a new law later in the year to address the concerns of both Muslims and Jews by allowing the practice for religious reasons. Government limits on religious activities also have increased markedly in the Americas, where the of countries where governments interfered with worship rose from 16 in to 28 in In Canada, for example, the Supreme Court denied constitutional protection to a territory of spiritual ificance to the indigenous Ktunaxa Nation in The Ktunaxa Nation had in sought a judicial review of a decision to approve the construction of a ski resort on land that was central to their faith, claiming it would impinge on their religious practices and violate their religious freedom.
In other regions, too, government limits on religious activities have risen over the course of the study. This includes the Middle East-North Africa region. For instance, limits on public preaching have increased notably sincewhen 13 countries were reported to have such restrictions. In18 out of 20 countries in the region reportedly limited public preaching. These types of restrictions are not limited to minority faiths. In Jordan, for example, the government monitored sermons at mosques and required preachers to abstain from talking about politics to avoid social and political unrest and to counter extremist views.
The Jordanian government began distributing themes and recommended texts for sermons to imams at mosques inand those who did not follow the recommendations were subject to fines and preaching bans. Additionally, in sub-Saharan Africa, the government has increasingly regulated the wearing of religious clothing. Infour countries — Cameroon, Chad, the Republic of Congo and Niger — banned Islamic veils for women in response to terror attacks within their borders.
Among the countries with the highest levels of limits on religion, myriad policies restricting religious activities are enforced. In the Maldives, for example, it is a criminal offense to promote a religion other than Islam, punishable by up to five years in jail. Restrictions in this category also are common across Central Asia.
As ofthe government in Turkmenistan continued to deny visas to foreigners if they were suspected of intending to do missionary work; the government also prevented the importation of religious literature. Spain has experienced some of the largest increases in its score for government limits on religious activities since Inseveral cities in Catalonia introduced bans on the burqa and niqab full-body and head coverings as well as face-covering veils in public buildings.
Not only are there higher levels of government harassment of religious groups in the Middle East-North Africa region compared with other regions, but MENA also has experienced the biggest increase in this category since the baseline year. This category measures types of harassment ranging from violence and intimidation to verbal denunciations of religious groups and formal bans on certain groups. An increasing of governments in MENA have reportedly used force against religious groups including detention and forced displacement since In Algeria, for example, more than Ahmadis were prosecuted due to their religious beliefs in The Asia-Pacific region also stands out as relatively high in this category.
Inthere were numerous reports of large-scale abuses against the Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority in the country. The military reportedly carried out extrajudicial killings, rapes, torture, beatings, arbitrary arrests and detentions, and restrictions on religious practice, which contributed to large-scale displacement. There also were reports that Rohingya were denied citizenship. Harassment also increased in Europe and Americas since the baseline year of the study, particularly between and Some incidents of government harassment — which can include derogatory statements and intimidation by public officials — were in response to record s of migrants entering Europe in In the Americas, the sharpest increase in the government harassment category occurred between and That year, there was at least limited harassment in 32 countries, compared with 28 countries in In Cuba, for instance, members of religious groups advocating for greater religious and political freedom reportedly were threatened by the government.
When it comes to increases since in this category, Bahrain stands out.
Anti-government protests that began in took on a sectarian dimension, with the Sunni government targeting mostly Shiite opposition protesters and religious leaders.Dominant white male seeking submissive
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