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Restrictions on Religious Freedom on the Rise

ICC Note:

A recent PEW study found that restrictions on religious freedom are on the rise in the wake of the 'Arab Spring'. The study especially highlights an increase in sub-Saharan Africa, attributing these restrictions to political Islam being introduced in those areas. Will the spread of political Islam restrict the religious freedom of Christians in Africa? Only time will tell.  

9/21/2012 Africa (The New York Times) - Government restrictions on religion around the world were highest in the Middle East and North Africa, particularly in the period before the Arab Spring uprisings, a new study has found, underscoring a factor that fueled hostilities in the region and led to the rise of political Islam after the revolts.

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Over all, the study found a worldwide rise in religious restrictions. It measured two basic yardsticks: a government restrictions index, and a social hostilities index. Government restrictions include moves by authorities to ban faiths and conversions, and to limit preaching. Social hostilities encompass mob violence and “religion-related intimidation or abuse,” such as harassment over attire.

The study found 15 countries with very high levels of social hostilities in 2010, up from 10 in 2007, with the new additions being Egypt, Nigeria, the Palestinian territories, Russia and Yemen. It noted that “in Nigeria, violence between Christian and Muslim communities, including a series of deadly attacks, escalated throughout the period.”

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Over all, countries with “high or very high restrictions” rose from 31 percent of the total in 2009 to 37 percent in 2010. The Pew study found that 63 percent of countries had “increases in government restrictions” from 2009 to 2010.

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