Along with a global increase in religious restrictions from governments around the world comes a rise in religious harassment. And this isn’t limited to authoritarian countries, the rise is also seen in democracies, most notably in Europe, according to a Pew report released last Monday.
The Pew Research Center surveyed 198 countries and found that 143 of those countries harassed Christians and 140 harassed Muslims as well. Results of the study showed a number of highly populated countries that impose “high” or “very high” levels of restriction rose from 40 to 52 over the past decade. Included in these countries are Chine and Russia. The study is under Pew’s 10th annual Report on Global Restrictions on Religion that covered years 2007 to 2017.
The countries with the highest level of government restrictions on religion are Middle East and North Africa. The Pew study also identified the Asia-Pacific region as a runner-up to these countries. Results further showed that the largest increase during the decade-long period was found in Europe as European countries place restrictions on religious attire rose to 20 percent from 5 percent. Some banned religious garments include burqas, hijabs and face veils.
Pew identified the countries with the highest level of religious restrictions as China, Iran, Russia, Egypt, and Indonesia respectively. The countries that had the lowest restrictions and therefore tolerate most religions are South Africa, Japan, the Phillippines, Brazil, and South Korea.
The report was released prior to the three-day Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom that began last Tuesday in Washington, D.C. The event is hosted by the U.S. State Department and is attended by notable figures in international politics, religion and other participants.