Religious Freedom Under Threat

religious-freedom-mapThe 2016 report on the state of Religious Freedom in the World was released on November 24th. The report was prepared by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) and its release was accompanied by an event at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva sponsored by the Permanent Mission of the Holy See and partners.

The report provides a comprehensive assessment of the threat to religious liberty today and assesses the religious situation of every country in the world. In total, 196 nations were examined with a special focus in each case on the place of religious freedom in constitutional and other statutory documents, incidents of note and gives a projection of likely future trends.

Consideration was given to recognised religious groups regardless of their numerical size or perceived influence in any given country and the report highlights the frequency and intensity of atrocities against groups such as Yazidis, Christians, Baha’is, Jews and  Muslims.

Twenty-three countries were identified as showing high levels of religious persecution linked to either extremist Islam (16 countries), authoritarian regimes (6 countries) or Hindu extremism in the case of India, with a further fifteen countries identified as having a significant level of religious discrimination.

The report also shows a decline in the level of religious freedom in those countries where there are already significant violations of religious freedom with only three countries showing an improvement.

The report also notes that faith groups in the West have experienced increasing hostility and pressure in a society where secularism and atheism have gained prominence with a growth in acts of hatred and institutional intolerance towards religious groups and the values they uphold.

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