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Study shows restrictions on religion around world once again on the rise


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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A new study issued by the Pew Research Center shows that restrictions on religion around the world, both by governments and their citizens, are once again on the rise after having ticked downward in prior years.

Of the 198 countries and self-administered territories in the study, released April 11, 105 experienced widespread government harassment of religious groups in 2015 -- the most recent year for which statistics are available. This is up from 85 in 2014 and 96 in 2013.

What the study called "limited harassment" -- cases that were isolated or affected a small number of groups -- also rose, taking place in 52 countries in 2015, up from 44 in 2014.

The eighth such Pew report on religious intimidation, it contains both a Government Restrictions Index and a Social Hostilities Index to reach its conclusions. It identified Russia, Egypt, India, Pakistan and Nigeria as having the highest overall levels of government restrictions and social hostilities involving religion among the world's 25 most populous countries. Egypt had the highest levels of government restrictions in 2015, scoring 8.7 on a scale of zero to 10, while Nigeria had the highest levels of social hostilities at 9.1; a fractured Syria scored 9.2, and Iraq's score in 2007, the first year studied, was 10.

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