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Worldwide religious restrictions, hostilities on the rise: report

Published Sep 20, 2012 04:24pm


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 A referendum campaign poster supporting the minaret ban, in Zurich in 2009. - File photo by Reuters
A referendum campaign poster supporting the minaret ban, in Zurich in 2009. - File photo by Reuters

WASHINGTON: Restrictions on religion were growing worldwide by mid-2010, even in Western countries with traditionally few limits on the practice of faith, the Pew Research Center said Thursday.

It said three-quarters of the world’s seven billion people lived in countries with either “high government restrictions on religion or high social hostilities involving religion,” according to data from July 2009 through June 2010.

That’s five per cent higher than a year earlier, said the Washington think tank in an 86-page report from its Forum on Religion and Public Life unit, the third in an ongoing series.

“There were increases in restrictions, even in countries that previously had low or moderate levels of restrictions – including the United States,” it said.

Nevertheless, no Western or Latin American country made Pew’s league tables of countries with either “very high” government restrictions or very high social hostilities, each measured by respective 10-point indices.

Six countries – Afghanistan, Egypt, Indonesia, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Yemen – made both lists.

China, the world’s most populous country, had very high government restrictions, while Pakistan, India, Israel and the Palestinian territories were all deemed to have very high social hostilities, such as harassment or mob violence.

Giving specific examples in the United States, Pew cited efforts in Tennessee to block construction of a mosque and a bid in Oklahoma – later overturned in court – to outlaw Islamic sharia law.

It also cited a spike in religion-related workplace discrimination complaints, as well as “religion-related terrorist attacks” such as the killing of 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas by an Muslim-American army major in 1999.

Outside the United States, Pew cited Switzerland’s ban on the building of new minarets on mosques, the shutdown of more than two dozen churches in Indonesia under pressure from Islamist extremists, and violent clashes between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria.

Overall, the report said, “the rising tide of restrictions ... is attributable to a variety of factors, including increases in crimes, malicious acts and violence motivated by religious hatred and bias, as well as increased government interference with worship or other religious practices.”

The report made no mention of atheists and agnostics who face discrimination resulting from their non-belief in any god or faith.


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Comments (15) Closed

Tojo Sep 22, 2012 02:33pm
Freedom of speech is everybody
AHA Sep 21, 2012 10:54am
We are bigots. Just look at the rights Muslim countries provide to non-Muslims, and in case of some countries, even to other minority Muslims. We are trying to abuse the freedom of expression and humanity that Western democracies aim to provide. They are bound to react eventually.
Girish Sep 21, 2012 08:57am
Most restrictions are imposed in Muslim countries. For exampe, pakistan where minorities are persecuted brutally. Recently thousands of Hindus took refuge in India due to persecution by state and muslim society. Such country cannot cite problems in US and Switzerland and bemoan. That will be hypocracy Right?
naseem Sep 22, 2012 02:30am
Take care of your low caste people first and then talk.
Adeel Sep 21, 2012 03:45pm
Very well put. I completely agree, as sad and grave the issue reported in this article is, Muslims have no right to react to this as we top the list in religion intolerance. Forget other religions, Muslims cannot even live in peace with different sects within the religion of Islam itself. When we can clean up our own act and promote a culture of harmony and tolernace, then we have every right to be angry about this issue.
brighton rodeo Sep 22, 2012 05:42am
Some people are talking about international blasphemy law, how the muslim world will agree on one law when muslims come to the west to enjoy all kind of freedom and themselves donot allow minorities to worship freely. Double stanrdard will not be acceptable.
Ahsen Sep 21, 2012 03:12pm
Can not agree more , the islamic countries need to make them selves more powerful by educating their nation. but at the same time the west needs to stop getting involved and exploit the islamic countires internally or via third party !!
Shankar Bandyopadhay Sep 21, 2012 06:05pm
Why do Muslims migrate to Western countries ? why not to Middle east ? In the subcontinent ..we have crores of Bangladeshi muslims illegaly staying in India...then why have seperate Bangladesh in the first place ?
Faisal Ahmed Sep 20, 2012 05:38pm
and We Pakistanis think Islam is spreading like a wild fire
Ali Sher Sep 21, 2012 12:31pm
If you keep encroaching, you will be restricted.
Sue Sturgess Sep 22, 2012 04:24am
I agree. All Islamic countries should refuse all foreign financial aid from the west to ensure their independence. They cannot take their money with one hand and complain about involvement with the other.
Rita Sep 21, 2012 11:12pm
Did religious restrictions in Saudi Arabia come up in the report? What about the blasphemy laws of paksitan that are often used to harass people of other religions?? When you point one finger at the west four fingers are pointing towards you.
naseem Sep 22, 2012 02:28am
You Indians don't even spare your own low caste Hindus, what to talk about other religions. You people are two faced, on the surface you want to look good to the rest of the world, underneath you are racists.
Chinmay Sep 21, 2012 12:06am
Islamic countries should not utter a word about religious restrictions in western countries. Look at your own backyard.
chris Sep 22, 2012 12:31am
I think your seeing "Death to America" fatigue setting in. 4 decades of "we will destroy you" has an impact.