Three-quarters of the world’s 7 billion population live in countries with high levels of government restriction on religion or where there exist serious “social hostilities” involving faith issues, according to researchers, with the US and the UK among countries showing a worrying rise in religious discrimination.
India’s government is rated as being tolerant of religion, comparable to many Western countries. But Indian society is rated as among the most restrictive, reflecting the country’s common sectarian violence.
The share of countries with high or very high restrictions on religious beliefs and practices has also risen — from 31% in the year ending mid-2009 to 37% the year ending mid-2010.
Also published in the report is a religious restrictions index with scores by country. In the latest year, ending mid-2010, 18 countries recorded very high government restrictions on religion including countries such Egypt, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
Countries recording very high social hostilities involving religion include Pakistan, India, Somalia, Nigeria and Russia amongst others.