CHRISTIANS remain the most persecuted religious group in the world, according to new figures from the Pew Research Center.
The Center’s report on religious harassment in 2016 found that Christians were harassed in 144 countries, up from 128 the previous year, while Muslims were harassed in 142 countries, up from 125 in 2015.
Released last week, the report said: “Christians and Muslims have generally been harassed in the most countries in the world.
“These two groups are the largest religious groups in the world and have significant populations in more countries than other smaller, less geographically dispersed religious groups. . .
“There was also an increase in the number of countries where Jews were harassed in 2016, after a slight drop in 2015.”
He explains: “Harassment of members of religious groups takes many forms, including physical assaults, arrests and detentions, desecration of holy sites and discrimination against religious groups in employment, education and lodging.
The Center reported that the number of countries with “high” or “very high” levels of government restrictions on religion also increased, from 25% of countries in 2015 to 28% in 2016: 55 of the 198 countries surveyed by the research. .
The report says: “This is the highest percentage of countries to have high or very high levels of government restrictions since 2013, and falls just below the ten-year peak of 29% in 2012. .
“In many countries, restrictions on religion resulted from actions taken by government officials, social groups or individuals espousing nationalist positions.”
China had the highest score on the “Government Restrictions Index”, while India had the highest score on the “Social Hostilities Index”.
A report released earlier this year predicted that the Chinese government would crack down on Christians in the country, after new legislation (News, January 12).