Restrictions, harassment, and intimidation towards people who practice their religion increased in every major region of the world in 2012 except the Americas, with Christians the major target, says a new report by the Pew Research Center.
“Muslims and Jews experienced six-year highs in the number of countries in which they were harassed by national, provincial or local governments,” the study found, but Christians continue to be the world’s most oppressed religious group, with persecution against them reported in 110 countries.
A recent report by the Christian group Open Doors noted that “North Korea remains the world’s most restrictive nation in which to practice Christianity,” followed by Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, Pakistan, Iran and Yemen.
More than “5.3 billion people (76% of the world’s population) live in countries with a high or very high level of restrictions on religion,” Pew noted, “up from 74% in 2011 and 68% as of mid-2007.”
A fifth of the world’s nations (20%) also experienced religious terrorism or sectarian violence in 2012, Pew researchers found, which was “up markedly from 2007 (9%).”
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