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Pew: Religious restrictions spreading globally by Diana Chandler

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WASHINGTON (BP) — Religious restrictions continue to spread globally in Pew Research Center’s ninth annual study of laws and social hostilities in 198 countries, although most countries still rank low to moderate on a study scale researchers devised.

Less than half of the countries, 42 percent, ranked high or very high on Pew’s scale of restrictions including both laws and social hostilities, up from 40 percent in 2015 and 29 percent in the baseline study period of 2007, Pew said.

“Since some of these countries are among the world’s most populous (such as China and India), this means that a large share of the world’s population in 2016 — 83% — lived in countries with high or very high religious restrictions,” Pew said, as compared to 79 percent of the world’s population living in those countries in 2015.

With religious minorities bearing the brunt of the restrictions and harassment, Pew said, “the actual proportion of the world’s population that is affected by high levels of religious restrictions may be considerably lower than 85%.”

In spite of the rankings and variables, religiously motivated harassment and restrictions of varying amounts, whether from the government or society, were reported in 187 of the countries studied. The findings are up from 169 countries in 2015 and indicate the most widespread harassment since 2007.

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