Religious intolerance rising globally, says report

Published: August 10, 2011
More public hostility and government limits on religion.

More public hostility and government limits on religion.

WASHINGTON: While Pakistanis bemoan the maltreatment of Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Chechnya and Kashmir, they’d baulk at hearing that their own country is among those most restrictive or hostile towards religious minorities, and increasingly so.

Nearly a third of the world’s population lives in countries where it is becoming more difficult to freely practice religion, a private US research group reported on Tuesday.

The Pew Research Centre’s forum on religion and public life said government restrictions and public hostility involving religion grew in some of the most populous countries from mid-2006 to mid-2009.

”During the three-year period covered by the study, the extent of violence and abuse related to religion increased in more places than it decreased,” according to the report “Rising Restrictions on Religion.”

Only about one percent of the world lives in countries that saw more religious tolerance during those years, it said.

Increasing intolerance

The Pew Centre review of 198 countries found those deemed restrictive or hostile in the previous report were growing even more so, while the opposite was found for those with more religious tolerance.

A substantial rise in public hostility toward religious groups was seen in China, Nigeria, Thailand, Vietnam and Britain, while government restrictions rose substantially in Egypt and France.

The Pew Centre looked at laws or other government policies aimed to ban particular faiths, limit preaching, give preference to particular religions or prohibit conversions. To measure hostility, it looked at sectarian violence, harassment over religious attire and other types of intimidation.

The countries most restrictive or hostile towards certain religions, besides Pakistan, included India, Indonesia, Egypt, Iran, China, Myanmar, Russia, Turkey, Vietnam, Nigeria and Bangladesh – although most of these did not show much change in the three years.

People were killed, physically abused, detained, imprisoned, displaced from their homes, or had their property destroyed for religious reasons by governments in 101 countries in the year ending mid-2009, compared to 91 a year earlier, the report said. Such violence rose in more countries than it declined over the three years.

“Religion-related terrorist groups were active in 74 countries,” and violence was seen in half of these, in the year through mid-2009, the Pew Center said.

Christians and Muslims, the world’s two largest religious groups, were harassed in most countries. Other religions also saw harassment, but Jews, who make up less than 1% of the world’s population, saw restrictions or harassment in 75 countries.

In five European countries – Britain, Denmark, Russia, Sweden and Bulgaria – religious tension focused on the rapidly growing Muslim
population, but there was some rising anti-Semitism and antagonism towards minorities such as Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (15)

  • Aug 10, 2011 - 10:33AM

    Religion has been responsible for more death and destruction than anything else in history.this sick fixation with proving that my prophet is better than your prophet has led to the deaths of millions of humans throughout history.we have seen the damaging effects of religion in our own country over the last decade.
    it is time we started using our brains and thinking rationally.A dead,unquestioning mind is one that religion preys on the most.A skeptical ,questioning mind is a healthy mind .


  • naveed khan
    Aug 10, 2011 - 10:34AM

    Where religion starts, sanity ends.


  • naveed khan
    Aug 10, 2011 - 10:34AM

    Where religion starts, sanity ends.


  • saad sheikh
    Aug 10, 2011 - 11:06AM

    Religion only breeds hate and bigotry.

    Atheism clears up the mind and shows a person how to live free of religious dogma and intolerance.


  • Ahmer Ali
    Aug 10, 2011 - 11:10AM

    Assalam-o-Allaikum Warahmatullah.This is all as a consequence of prejudicial and negative attitudes of advanced Western powers especially USA and the killings of innocent muslims through out the world on the name of fake terrorism especially by USA and NATO forces brutally and cruelly.


  • Aug 10, 2011 - 11:13AM

    No one faces more persecution and abuse around the world as the atheists and agnostic pakistan the situation is even more horrible as over here the muslims think it is their duty and right to murder people who don’t agree with their beliefs.The atheists are told they are apostates who deserve to have their heads cut off.The international media and human rights organisations should pay attention to the plight of atheists in pakistan.
    we’ve suffered too much abuse already ,it’s time that the religious fascists started accepting atheism’s presence in pakistan.


  • azhar amjad
    Aug 10, 2011 - 11:31AM

    @saad sheikh:

    yes,atheism is a beautiful thing and one which this world ,especially our society needs.we’ve lost 50,000 of our people at the hands of islamic fascists,do we still want more of this jihad fasaad?


  • Aug 10, 2011 - 12:06PM

    @muhammad behzad alam:

    Is there any atheist rights group or support network in pakistan so one can join and be amongst fellow atheists? the islamic fascists have thousands of their organisations ,so why not atheists??


  • abc
    Aug 10, 2011 - 2:12PM


    In light of the growing intolerance and hate-speech and conspiracy theories, please do your country a favor. Please moderate comments that encourage negativity in the society, those that fail to take responsibility. Now US is responsible for our religious intolerance?

    Please. The media needs to change the mindsets.


  • Dr,A.K.Tewari
    Aug 10, 2011 - 4:55PM

    Don’t cursh USA .

    Apne gireban may jhako.

    You have lost more than 10 millon people in war against terrorism .

    Change your religiou attitude towards other religion and stand against kashmir and Israiel .


  • Vicram Singh
    Aug 10, 2011 - 8:34PM

    This report simply means Christianity is not spreading fast enough. Religion is one of the best way to make strategic allies.

    There is thrust by western evangelicals to gather more converts in India and China so that the people of these lands get “divided” in their approach to the West.Recommend

  • john
    Aug 10, 2011 - 10:46PM

    I am surprised to see some comments.. especially about atheism… The basic thing to be understood is religion and politics should never go hand in hand…


  • Mister Master
    Aug 11, 2011 - 3:54AM

    Most of the comments appear to be the work of a single troll using multiple names. It is a LIE that most wars and bloodshed has been caused by religions. The Encyclopedia of War demonstrated that less then 6% of world conflicts are based on religion. The 20th century alone was the century of western secular and communist genocide. Most wars are for material resources and no amount atheist disinformation will change that reality. Misusing religion doesn’t invalidate religion in any way.
    The modern day secular Western world and its appetite for resources and predatory thirst for world domination along with its criminal banking system has cost the world over half a billion lies.


  • goggi
    Aug 11, 2011 - 7:49PM

    Religions are like fireflies. They require darkness in order to shine. Schopenhauer


  • :D
    Aug 15, 2011 - 1:10AM

    :) bible prophecy unfolding


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