CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 18 March 2017

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New study finds religious repression on rise

  WASHINGTON (SE): A recent study done by the Pew Forum Research Centre on Religion and Public Life has revealed that in 23 countries of the world between mid-2006 and mid-2009 repression of religious freedom increased.

Of the 198 countries surveyed, 162 remained more or less unchanged and 23 showed an improvement in their religious freedom situation.

However, the study, carried out by the Washington DC-based (United States of America) institute, notes that the number of people affected by the increased repression is out of proportion with the country-only figures, because several of them have large populations.

The study results note, “More than 2.2 billion people—nearly 32 per cent of the world’s population of 6.9 billion—live in countries where either government restrictions on religion or social hostilities involving religion rose substantially over the three-year period studied.”

It adds, “Only about one per cent of the world’s population lives in countries where government restrictions or social hostilities declined.”

The study found that in the world’s 25 most populous countries, which account for 75 per cent of the world’s population, restrictions increased in eight of them and did not decrease in any of them.

It points out that in China, Nigeria, Russia, Thailand, the United Kingdom and Vietnam, all of which have experienced an up in restrictions on religious freedom, social hostilities are the biggest contributing factor.

However, in Egypt and France increases were a direct result of government restrictions.

It adds that the other 25 countries, which include the United States of America, did not experience any significant changes in the levels of restriction.

The survey lists two indices, one that measures restrictive legislation on behalf of governments, and the other, religious hostility perpetrated by private individuals, organisations or social groups.

The Middle East and Northern Africa topped the index for an increase in government interference.

Egypt, however, ranked high in both indices. Indonesia is the only other country to rate a high score in both categories.

Europe has the highest level for the proportion of countries to register an increase in hostility, as five of the top ten countries in the world showing a substantial increase are in Europe; Bulgaria, Denmark, Russia, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

 It points out that in China, Nigeria, Russia, Thailand, the United Kingdom and Vietnam, all of which have experienced an up in restrictions on religious freedom, social hostilities are the biggest contributing factor.

 

 

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