WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – A far-reaching poll conducted by the Pew Research Center found that discord between religious groups hit its highest point in six years during 2012.
Approximately a third of the countries and territories surveyed for the study – 198 in all – cited problems with tension between religious groups. In 2011, just 29 percent of those nations said the same. In 2007, only 20 percent claimed to have such problems.
Some of the countries with the highest levels of social hostility regarding religion include Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Somalia and Israel.
“The sharpest increase was in the Middle East and North Africa, which still is feeling the effects of the 2010-11 political uprisings known as the Arab Spring,” a release on the study’s findings noted. “There also was a significant increase in religious hostilities in the Asia-Pacific region, where China edged into the ‘high’ category for the first time.”
Increases in incidents of intimidation and harassment were also observed by researchers, particularly against Jewish, Christian and Muslim people.
“[T]wo of the seven major religious groups monitored by the study – Muslims and Jews – experienced six-year highs in the number of countries in which they were harassed by national, provincial or local governments, or by individuals or groups in society,” researchers at Pew found.
It continued, “As in previous years, Christians and Muslims – who together make up more than half of the global population – were harassed in the largest number of countries.”
The amount of countries experiencing government restrictions on religion stayed about the same, with 29 percent of all nations experiencing high levels of limits put in place by those in power.
According to the release, the countries involved in the global study account for 99.5 percent of the world’s population, and all but one member of the United Nations.
Self-run territories such as Hong Kong and Macau were also included.