June 20, 2013

Arab Spring Adds to Global Restrictions on Religion

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At the onset of the Arab Spring in late 2010 and early 2011, many world leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, expressed hope that the political uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa would lead to greater freedoms for the people of the region, including fewer restrictions on religious beliefs and practices. But a new study by the Pew Research Center finds that the region’s already high overall level of restrictions on religion – whether resulting from government policies or from social hostilities – continued to increase in 2011.

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Before the Arab Spring, government restrictions on religion and social hostilities involving religion were higher in the Middle East and North Africa than in any other region of the world.1 Government restrictions in the region remained high in 2011, while social hostilities markedly increased. For instance, the number of countries in the region experiencing sectarian or communal violence between religious groups doubled from five to 10. (See sidebar on the Middle East-North Africa region.)

The Americas, Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and the Asia-Pacific region all had increases in overall restrictions on religion in 2011. Government restrictions declined slightly in Europe, but social hostilities increased. Asia and the Pacific had the sharpest increase in government restrictions, though the level of social hostilities remained roughly the same. By contrast, social hostilities edged up in sub-Saharan Africa, but government restrictions stayed about the same. Both government restrictions and social hostilities increased slightly in the Americas.

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Globally, the share of countries with high or very high restrictions on religion rose from 37% in the year ending in mid-2010 to 40% in 2011, a five-year high. Because some of the most restrictive countries are very populous, more than 5.1 billion people (74%) were living in countries with high government restrictions on religion or high social hostilities involving religion, the brunt of which often falls on religious minorities.

Among the world’s 25 most-populous countries, Egypt, Indonesia, Russia and Pakistan had the most restrictions on religion in 2011. (See Restrictions on Religion among the 25 Most Populous Countries interactive.) Two countries had record high levels of restrictions or hostilities. Egypt – the most populous country in the Middle East-North Africa region – had a higher level of government restrictions in 2011 than any country in the world previously had in the five years covered by this study. (For details, see Changes in Government Restrictions.) Similarly, Pakistan had the highest level of social hostilities in the world across the five years of the study. Indeed, Pakistan was the first country to score 10 out of 10 points on either of the restrictions indexes, signifying the presence of all 13 types of hostilities measured by the study. (For details, see Changes in Social Hostilities.)

This is the fourth time the Pew Research Center has reported on religious restrictions around the globe. The new study scores 198 countries and territories on the same two indexes used in the previous studies:2

  • The Government Restrictions Index (GRI) measures government laws, policies and actions that restrict religious beliefs or practices. The GRI is comprised of 20 measures of restrictions, including efforts by governments to ban particular faiths, prohibit conversions, limit preaching or give preferential treatment to one or more religious groups.
  • The Social Hostilities Index (SHI) measures acts of religious hostility by private individuals, organizations and social groups. This includes religion-related armed conflict or terrorism, mob or sectarian violence, harassment over attire for religious reasons and other religion-related intimidation or abuse. The SHI includes 13 measures of social hostilities.

In this report, references to changes in overall restrictions reflect changes in either of the indexes after taking into account any offsetting change on the other index. (See Changes in Overall Restrictions for more details.)

A number of factors contributed to increases in overall religious restrictions in 2011, particularly increases in social hostilities, including violence resulting from religious tensions. In Egypt, for instance, attacks on Coptic Christian communities went up during the year.3 In China, increasing numbers of Buddhist monks, nuns and laypeople protested government policies toward Tibet by setting themselves on fire.4 And in Nigeria, there was rising violence between Muslims and Christians, including attacks by the Islamist group Boko Haram.5

The new study also finds that reports of harassment or intimidation of Muslims increased worldwide during 2011. Muslims were harassed by national, provincial or local governments or by individuals or groups in society in 101 countries, up from 90 countries the year before. Christians continued to be harassed in the largest number of countries (105), although this represented a decrease from the previous year (111 countries). Jews were harassed in 69 countries, about the same as the year before (68). (For details, see Number of Countries Where Religious Groups Were Harassed, by Year chart.)

The number of countries with overall increases in restrictions compared with the previous year outnumbered those with decreases. However, a larger share of countries (35%) had a decrease in at least one of the 20 types of government restrictions or 13 types of social hostilities measured by the study compared with the previous year (28%). Examples include a relaxation of registration requirements for religious groups in Austria; efforts to overturn a centuries-old law barring the British monarch from marrying a Catholic; and elimination of a requirement in Jordan that groups, including religious groups, obtain prior permission from the government before holding public meetings or demonstrations.6 (See sidebar on initiatives aimed at reducing religious restrictions.)

There also was a decrease in the number of countries in which governments used force against religious groups (including force that resulted in individuals being killed, physically abused, imprisoned, detained or displaced from their homes, or having their personal or religious property damaged or destroyed), which dropped from 108 in the year ending in mid-2010 to 82 in 2011. Nevertheless, the number of countries in which governments used lethal force against religious groups remained unchanged, at 23. In China, for instance, two Tibetan lay people, ages 60 and 65, were beaten and killed by police in April 2011 at the Kirti monastery, where they stood in protest against the harsh treatment of Tibetan monks.7

Countries with Very High Restrictions

Over the five years studied, the number of countries with very high government restrictions on religion doubled, increasing from 10 as of mid-2007 to 20 in 2011, as a total of 11 countries (Afghanistan, Algeria, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Pakistan, Russia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) were added to the “very high” category, while just one (Turkey) was removed. (See table below.) Meanwhile, 100 countries (51%) had low levels of government restrictions in 2011, down from 117 (59%) in the first year of the study. (For a complete list of all countries in each category, see the Government Restrictions Index PDF.)

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The number of countries with very high social hostilities also rose, from 10 as of mid-2007 to 14 in 2011, as seven countries (Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, the Palestinian territories, Russia, Sudan and Yemen) were added to the “very high” category and three were removed (Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka). (See table below.) Meanwhile, 87 countries (44%) had low levels of social hostilities in 2011, down from 114 (58%) in mid-2007. (For a complete list of all countries in each category, see the Social Hostilities Index PDF.)

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Changes in Government Restrictions

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In addition to scoring countries on both indexes, the study looks at the extent and direction of change in government restrictions on religion within each country between the year ending in mid-2010 and the end of calendar year 2011.

Just two countries (1%) had large changes (2.0 points or more) in their scores on the 10-point Government Restrictions Index, and both (Bahrain and Somalia) were in the direction of higher restrictions. In Bahrain, the government’s spring 2011 crackdown in response to the Arab Spring uprising included the destruction of Shia mosques, religious centers and shrines.8 In areas of Somalia controlled by the Islamic extremist group al-Shabaab, the population faced restrictions on activities deemed un-Islamic. Penalties for violations included detention, flogging, amputation and stoning.9

Among countries with modest changes (1.0 to 1.9 points), 10 had increases (5%) and three had decreases (2%).10 And among countries with small changes (less than 1.0 point), 84 had increases (43%) and 75 had decreases (38%).

Considering all changes in government restrictions from mid-2010 to the end of 2011, regardless of magnitude, 49% of countries had increases and 40% of countries had decreases. The level of increase in government restrictions during the latest year studied was not as large as the increase in the previous year (from mid-2009 to mid-2010), when 63% of countries had increases and 25% had decreases.

In some cases, even a small change is notable. For instance, although Egypt’s score on the GRI increased only slightly, from 8.7 as of mid-2010 to 8.9 in 2011, this represented the highest score on this index by any country during the five years covered by the study. Not only was each of the 20 types of government restrictions present in Egypt in 2011, but the level of the restrictions was relatively high. Government restrictions in Egypt included active use of force against religious groups; lack of intervention in religious discrimination; very high favoritism of one religion above others; prohibitions on Muslims converting from Islam to other religions; stigmatization of some religious groups as dangerous sects or cults; and restrictions on religious literature or broadcasting. “Despite the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak, the government’s respect for religious freedom remained poor,” the U.S. State Department noted in its 2011 Report on International Religious Freedom.11

Changes in Social Hostilities

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This study also looks at the extent and direction of change in social hostilities involving religion within each country between the year ending in mid-2010 and calendar year 2011.

Nine countries (5%) had large changes (2.0 points or more) in their scores on the 10-point Social Hostilities Index, and all nine (Senegal, Sudan, Tunisia, Swaziland, Bulgaria, Syria, Maldives, Samoa and Norway) were in the direction of higher hostilities. In Norway, for example, Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people on July 22, 2011, in a mass shooting at a youth camp and a bomb attack on government buildings. Before the attack, he accused the government of “treason” for supporting Muslim immigration.12 In Syria, the ongoing civil war has increased sectarian violence between religious groups in the country.13

Among countries with modest changes (1.0 to 1.9 points), 18 had increases (9%) and four had decreases (2%).14 For example, Pakistan’s score on the SHI increased from 9.0 as of mid-2010 to 10.0 in 2011, making it the first country to score 10 out of 10 points on either index during the five years covered in this study. Not only was each of the 13 types of social hostilities involving religion present in Pakistan in 2011, but each was present at the highest level measured by the index. This includes religion-related war and terrorism, mob violence and sectarian conflict, hostility over religious conversion, harassment of women for violating religious dress codes, and all six types of malicious acts and crimes inspired by religious bias: harassment and intimidation; displacement from homes; destruction of religious property; abductions; physical abuse; and killings.

In the four countries with decreases of 1.0 to 1.9 points (Bangladesh, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and the United States), some hostilities that occurred in the year ending in mid-2010 did not reoccur in 2011. In the United States, for instance, multiple religion-related terrorist attacks occurred in the year ending in mid-2010, but none occurred in 2011.15

Among countries with small changes on the Social Hostilities Index (less than 1.0 point), 69 had increases (35%) and 59 had decreases (30%).

Considering all changes in social hostilities from mid-2010 to the end of 2011, regardless of magnitude, 49% of countries had increases and 32% of countries had decreases. The level of increase in social hostilities during the latest year studied remained unchanged from the previous year (from mid-2009 to mid-2010).

Changes in Overall Restrictions

Considering government restrictions and social hostilities together, increases outnumbered decreases in each point range during the latest year studied. Among countries whose scores went up or down by 2.0 points or more on either of the indexes after taking into account any offsetting change on the other index, eight increased and none decreased.16

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Overall, restrictions increased at least somewhat in 60% of countries and decreased in 35% between the year ending in mid-2010 and calendar year 2011. As was the case when the two indexes were considered separately, this is a slightly smaller margin of difference than during the preceding year, when 66% of countries had increases and 28% had decreases.

Harassment of Specific Groups

The Government Restrictions Index and Social Hostilities Index each include a question about the harassment of specific religious groups (GRI Q.11 and SHI Q.1a). Harassment and intimidation by governments or social groups take many forms, including physical assaults, arrests and detentions, the desecration of holy sites and discrimination against religious groups in employment, education and housing. Harassment and intimidation also include such things as verbal assaults on members of one religious group by other groups or individuals.

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Harassment or intimidation of specific religious groups occurred in 160 countries in 2011, the same number as in the year ending in mid-2010. In 2011, government or social harassment of Muslims was reported in 101 countries; the previous high was 96 countries in the first year of the study. Jews were harassed in 69 countries in 2011, about the same as the year before (68 countries, which was the previous high). As noted above, harassment of Christians continued to be reported in the largest number of countries (105), although this represented a decrease from the previous year (111).

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Overall, across the five years of this study, religious groups were harassed in a total of 185 countries at one time or another. Adherents of the world’s two largest religious groups, Christians and Muslims – who together comprise more than half of the global population – were harassed in the largest number of countries, 145 and 129 respectively.17 Jews, who comprise less than 1% of the world’s population, experienced harassment in a total of 90 countries, while members of other world faiths were harassed in a total of 75 countries.

In 2011, some religious groups were more likely to be harassed by governments, while others were more likely to be harassed by individuals or groups in society. Jews, for instance, experienced social harassment in many more countries (63) than they faced government harassment (28). Similarly, followers of folk and traditional faiths faced social harassment in four times the number of countries (21) as they faced government harassment (5). By contrast, members of other world faiths, such as Sikhs and Baha’is, were harassed by some level of government in about twice as many countries (39) as they were by groups or individuals in society (18).

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Regions and Countries

Looking at the extent and direction of change on the Government Restrictions Index and the Social Hostilities Index together, increases of one point or more outnumbered decreases of that magnitude in all five regions. The Middle East-North Africa region had the largest share of countries with increases of one point or more (30%) and the largest share of countries showing any increase (75%). The Americas and sub-Saharan Africa had the lowest proportion of countries where overall restrictions increased by one point or more (3% and 15%, respectively). Asia and the Pacific and Europe were the only regions where decreases of one point or more occurred.

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Government Restrictions by Region

In the latest year studied, the Middle East and North Africa had the highest median level of government restrictions. (See Government Restrictions on Religion, by Region line graph.) The median score on the Government Restrictions Index for the 20 countries in the region in 2011 (5.9) was about the same as in the previous year (5.8).

Government restrictions on religion remained high or very high in most of the countries that experienced the political uprisings known as the Arab Spring in late 2010 and early 2011.18 (See sidebar.) For instance, Egypt’s score on the GRI edged up from 8.7 as of mid-2010 to 8.9 in 2011. Eleven other countries in the Middle East-North Africa region also experienced increases in government restrictions: Algeria, Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Oman, the Palestinian territories, Qatar, Sudan, Syria and the United Arab Emirates. Of the countries in the region, Bahrain had the largest increase in its score on the GRI, which rose from 4.2 to 6.2.

The increase in Bahrain’s score stemmed largely from discrimination against Shia Muslims, while Sunni Muslims received favored status. In response to mass demonstrations calling for political reforms, for instance, the government instituted a “State of National Safety” law from March through June 2011, during which time security forces detained and tortured mostly Shia protesters. Shia Muslims were vilified in the state-run media, and thousands were dismissed from public- and private-sector jobs. The government also destroyed Shia mosques and other places of worship.19

Government restrictions on religion remained in the high category in Tunisia (5.8) – the country where the Arab Spring began – but they were considerably lower than they had been as of mid-2010 (7.7). After the ouster of former Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the interim government relaxed restrictions on religion in several ways. The new leaders gave conservative Muslims more freedom to express their beliefs without state interference, eased registration procedures for religious groups and allowed women to wear headscarves in their national identity card photos.20

The median GRI score for the 50 countries in the Asia-Pacific region increased from 3.4 in mid-2010 to 4.2 in 2011. In part, this was because three countries had increases of one point or more (Armenia, Mongolia and Pakistan), while only one country – the island nation of Tuvalu – decreased by that amount.

Median scores on the Government Restrictions Index declined slightly in Europe and stayed the same in sub-Saharan Africa. And, continuing a three-year trend, government restrictions in the Americas rose during the latest year studied. Although the median level of government restrictions in the Americas was relatively low in 2011 (1.5), one country, Cuba, had high and rising restrictions. Cuba’s GRI score increased from 4.8 as of mid-2010 to 5.3 in 2011. Eight other countries in the region, including the United States, were in the moderate category.

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Social Hostilities by Region

The median level of social hostilities involving religion increased in four of the five regions (the Middle East and North Africa, Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and the Americas). It stayed roughly the same in Asia and the Pacific. (See the Social Hostilities Involving Religion, by Region line graph.)

As with government restrictions, social hostilities involving religion were highest in the Middle East and North Africa. Indeed, the region’s median score on the Social Hostilities Index rose substantially, from 4.3 as of mid-2010 to 5.4 in 2011, a five-year high. Social hostilities increased in 14 of the 20 countries in the region and declined in only four. The largest increases were in Sudan (whose score rose from 5.o in the year ending in mid-2010 to 7.8 in 2011), Tunisia (1.0 as of mid-2010 to 3.5 in 2011) and Syria (3.3 as of mid-2010 to 5.8 in 2011).

In Europe, social hostilities involving religion increased in more than twice as many countries (27) as they decreased (12). Social hostilities in Russia were very high as of mid-2010 and remained very high in 2011. Six countries in the region went from having moderate to high levels of social hostilities: Bulgaria, Italy, Moldova, Montenegro, Norway and Sweden. Two countries had large increases of 2.0 points or more: Bulgaria and Norway. Some of the increase in Norway was attributable to the mass shooting and bombing by Anders Behring Breivik in July 2011.

In sub-Saharan Africa, approximately the same number of countries had increases (18) as had decreases (19) in social hostilities involving religion. However, countries that had increases tended to do so by much larger margins on average than countries that had decreases. Between the year ending in mid-2010 and calendar year 2011, four sub-Saharan countries went from having low to moderate social hostilities (Guinea Bissau, Mali, Senegal and Swaziland); one increased from moderate to high (the Democratic Republic of Congo); and one increased from high to very high (Kenya). Nigeria and Somalia had very high social hostilities in both periods.21

The median level of social hostilities increased slightly in the Americas (from 0.4 to 0.6) but remained relatively low. None of the 35 countries in the region had high social hostilities, but in 2011, eight countries (Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Haiti, Mexico, the United States and Venezuela) had moderate hostilities, a slight increase from mid-2010, when five were in the moderate category.

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Restrictions and Hostilities in the Most Populous Countries

Among the world’s 25 most populous countries, Egypt, Indonesia, Russia and Pakistan stand out as having the most restrictions on religion (as of the end of 2011) when both government restrictions and social hostilities are taken into account. Brazil, the Philippines, Japan, the United States and Mexico have the least restrictions and hostilities.

None of the 25 most populous countries had low social hostilities involving religion in 2011, while five had low government restrictions on religion: Brazil, South Africa, the Philippines, Japan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. As discussed in a previous report, the United States moved from the low category of government restrictions as of mid-2009 to the moderate category in 2010, where it remained in 2011.22

Among the 25 most populous countries, Pakistan was the only one in which government restrictions increased by one full point or more, and the United Kingdom was the only one in which government restrictions decreased by one point or more. Social hostilities increased by one point or more in four countries: Ethiopia, Indonesia, Pakistan and Russia. Bangladesh and the United States were the only countries among the 25 most populous whose social hostilities score decreased by one or more points during the same time period. (See Government Restrictions Index PDF and Social Hostilities Index PDF.)

About the Study

These are among the key findings of the Pew Research Center’s assessment of global restrictions on religion in calendar year 2011. The 198 countries and self-administering territories covered by the study contain more than 99.5% of the world’s population. They include 192 of the 193 member states of the United Nations as of 2011 (including South Sudan) plus six self-administering territories — Kosovo, Hong Kong, Macau, the Palestinian territories, Taiwan and Western Sahara.23 Each country or territory was scored on a total of 33 measures phrased as questions about government restrictions or social hostilities involving religion. (For the full question wording, see the Summary of Results.) The Government Restrictions Index is comprised of 20 questions; there are 13 questions on the Social Hostilities Index.

To answer the questions that make up the indexes, researchers from the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life combed through 19 widely cited, publicly available sources of information, including reports by the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, the Council of the European Union, the United Kingdom’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Human Rights Watch, the International Crisis Group, Freedom House and Amnesty International. (For the complete list of sources, see the Methodology.)

The researchers involved in this process recorded only concrete reports about specific government laws, policies and actions, as well as specific incidents of religious violence or intolerance by social groups; they did not rely on the commentaries or opinions of the sources. (For a more detailed explanation of the coding and data verification procedures, see the Methodology.) The goal was to devise a battery of quantifiable, objective measures that could be analyzed individually as well as combined into two comprehensive indexes, the Government Restrictions Index and the Social Hostilities Index.

Some of the increases in religious restrictions noted in this study could reflect the use of more up-to-date or better information sources, but there is no evidence of a general informational bias in the direction of higher restrictions. For instance, the government restrictions and social hostilities sections of the U.S. State Department’s annual reports on International Religious Freedom (one of the 19 primary sources used in this study) in general have become shorter in more recent years. Pew Research staff monitor the impact of source information variability each year. (See the Methodology for more details.)

Readers should note that the categories of very high, high, moderate and low restrictions or hostilities are relative – not absolute – rankings based on the overall distribution of index scores in the initial year of this study. As such, they provide a guide for comparing country scores and evaluating their direction of change over time. They also reflect the number and severity of various kinds of restrictions or hostilities that occurred in any part of a country. Accordingly, more populous countries may have a higher likelihood of scoring higher than less populous countries, though in practice, some countries with very high levels of restrictions or hostilities, such as the Maldives and the Palestinian territories, have relatively small populations.

Finally, it is very likely that more restrictions exist than are reported by the 19 primary sources. But taken together, the sources are sufficiently comprehensive to provide a good estimate of the levels of restrictions in almost all countries. The one major exception is North Korea. The sources clearly indicate that North Korea’s government is among the most repressive in the world with respect to religion as well as other civil and political liberties. (The U.S. State Department’s 2011 Report on International Religious Freedom, for example, says that “Genuine freedom of religion does not exist” in North Korea.) But because North Korean society is effectively closed to outsiders and independent observers lack regular access to the country, the sources were unable to provide the kind of specific, timely information that Pew Research categorized and counted (“coded,” in social science parlance) for this quantitative study. Therefore, the report does not include scores for North Korea.


Footnotes:

1 See the Pew Research Center’s September 2012 report “Rising Tide of Restrictions on Religion.” (return to text)

2 The 2012 report included 197 countries. This new report includes separate index scores for South Sudan, which separated from Sudan in July 2011. (return to text)

3 See U.S. Department of State. July 30, 2012. “Egypt.” 2011 Report on International Religious Freedom. http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/2011/nea/192881.htm. (return to text)

4 See United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. “China.” Annual Report 2012. http://www.uscirf.gov/images/Annual%20Report%20of%20USCIRF%202012(2).pdf. (return to text)

5 See U.S. Department of State. May 24, 2012. “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011.” http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?dlid=186229. (return to text)

6 For more information, see U.S. Department of State. July 30, 2012. “Austria.” 2011 Report on International Religious Freedom. http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/2011/eur/192783.htm; U.S. Department of State. July 30, 2012. “United Kingdom.” 2011 Report on International Religious Freedom. http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/2011/eur/192875.htm; and Human Rights Watch. January 2012. “Jordan.” World Report 2012. http://www.hrw.org/world-report-2012/world-report-2012-jordan. (return to text)

7 See Human Rights Without Frontiers. “China.” 2011 Freedom of Religion or Belief newsletter. http://www.hrwf.org/images/forbnews/2011/china%202011.pdf. Also see Wong, Edward. April 23, 2011. “Reports of 2 Tibetans Killed by Chinese Officers.” The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/24/world/asia/24tibet.html?_r=2&. (return to text)

8 See Freedom House. “Bahrain.” Freedom in the World 2012. http://www.freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2012/bahrain-0. (return to text)

9 See United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. “Somalia.” Annual Report 2012. http://www.uscirf.gov/images/Annual%20Report%20of%20USCIRF%202012(2).pdf. (return to text)

10 The 10 countries that had increases of 1.0 to 1.9 points were: Pakistan, Sudan, Ivory Coast, Armenia, Angola, Cameroon, United Arab Emirates, Mongolia, Antigua and Barbuda, and Malawi (ordered from larger to smaller change). The three countries with modest decreases were: Tunisia, the United Kingdom and Tuvalu (also ordered from larger to smaller change). (return to text)

11 See U.S. Department of State. July 30, 2012. “Egypt.” 2011 Report on International Religious Freedom. http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/2011/nea/192881.htm. (return to text)

12 See U.S. Department of State. July 30, 2012. “Norway.” 2011 Report on International Religious Freedom. http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/2011/eur/192847.htm. (return to text)

13 See U.S. Department of State. July 30, 2012. “Syria.” 2011 Report on International Religious Freedom. http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/2011/nea/192907.htm. (return to text)

14 The 18 countries that had increases of 1.0 to 1.9 points were: Kuwait, Azerbaijan, Ethiopia, Malaysia, Russia, Libya, Kosovo, Sweden, Moldova, Indonesia, Cyprus, Ivory Coast, Montenegro, Finland, Austria, Mali, Pakistan and Israel (ordered from larger to smaller change). (return to text)

15 For background, see “Sidebar: Situation in the United States” in the Pew Research Center’s 2012 report “Rising Tide of Restrictions on Religion.” (return to text)

16 The eight countries that had an increase of 2.0 points or more were: Bahrain, Bulgaria, Maldives, Norway, Senegal, Sudan, Swaziland and Syria. (return to text)

17 For estimates of the size of each of the religious groups, see the Pew Research Center’s 2012 report “The Global Religious Landscape.” (return to text)

18 Only two countries in the Middle East-North Africa region had moderate levels of government restrictions in 2011: Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.(The score for the Palestinian territories primarily reflects the actions of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.) (return to text)

19 For more information, see U.S. Department of State. July 30, 2012. “Bahrain.” 2011 Report on International Religious Freedom. http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/2011/nea/192879.htm. (return to text)

20 For more information, see Freedom House. “Tunisia.” Freedom in the World 2012. http://www.freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2012/tunisia-0. Also see Amnesty International. “Tunisia.” Annual Report 2012. http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/tunisia/report-2012. And U.S. Department of State. July 30, 2012. “Tunisia.” 2011 Report on International Religious Freedom. http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/religiousfreedom/index.htm?dlid=192909. (return to text)

21 The spike in social hostilities in sub-Saharan Africa in the year ending in mid-2008 was attributable to incidents such as post-election violence in Kenya in December 2007 that included mob attacks on religious gatherings, and an upsurge in communal violence in Nigeria during the period. (return to text)

22 See “Sidebar: Situation in the United States” in the Pew Research Center’s September 2012 report “Rising Tide of Restrictions on Religion.” (return to text)

23 As previously noted, this report does not include scores for North Korea. (return to text)