Only about 1 per cent of the world’s population lives in countries where government restrictions or social hostilities declined.
Other major findings include:
- The Middle East-North Africa region had the largest proportion of countries in which government restrictions on religion increased — with nearly a third of the region’s countries imposing greater restrictions. Egypt, in particular, ranked very high on both government restrictions and social hostilities involving religion.
- Europe had the largest proportion of countries in which social hostilities related to religion were on the rise from mid-2006 to mid-2009. Social hostilities involving religion have also been rising in Asia, particularly in China, Thailand and Vietnam.
- Restrictions on religion are particularly common in the 59 countries that prohibit blasphemy, apostasy or defamation of religion. While such laws are sometimes promoted as a way to protect religion, in practice they often serve to punish religious minorities whose beliefs are deemed unorthodox or heretical.