Who Are the Iraqi Kurds?
Kurds are playing a major role in the current conflict in Iraq, and are often mentioned alongside Iraq’s Sunni and Shia Muslim populations. But Kurds are an ethnic group, not a distinct religious sect within Islam; nearly all Iraqi Kurds consider themselves Sunni Muslims.
Iraq’s Unique Place in the Sunni-Shia Divide
An ongoing and intensifying conflict has fallen along sectarian lines in Iraq, one of only a handful of countries that has more Shia Muslims than Sunnis. A Fact Tank post analyzes the divide between the two sects.
Arab Spring Adds to Global Restrictions on Religion
Pew Research’s fourth major report on global restrictions on religion finds that the share of countries with high or very high restrictions on religion rose from 37% in 2010 to 40% in 2011. The Middle East and North Africa continued to have the highest levels of restrictions in the year when much of the Arab Spring uprisings occurred, with social hostilities involving religion increasing markedly and government restrictions remaining high.
Iranians’ Views Mixed on Political Role for Religious Figures
As Iranians prepare to elect a new president on June 14, a Pew Research survey shows that just 40% think religious figures should play a large role in politics, while a quarter say religious figures should have some influence, and three-in-ten believe they should have little or no influence. But an overwhelming majority of Iranians say they back the use of Islamic law.
Infographic: The World’s Muslims: Religion, Politics and Society
The World’s Muslims: Religion, Politics and Society
A new survey report looks at attitudes among Muslims in 39 countries on a wide range of topics, from science to sharia, polygamy to popular culture. The survey finds that overwhelming percentages of Muslims in many countries want Islamic law to be the official law of their land, but there is also widespread support for democracy and religious freedom.
Israel and the U.S. are Home to More Than Four-Fifths of the World’s Jews
U.S. President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit the Middle East from March 20-23. He will spend much of the time in Israel, home to 41% of the world’s Jews. Another 41% of the world’s Jewish population lives in the United States, according to Pew Research Center estimates.
The Global Catholic Population
Over the past century, the number of Catholics worldwide has more than tripled. But the world’s overall population also has risen rapidly from 1910 to 2010. As a result, Catholics have made up a remarkably stable share of all people on Earth, though their geographic distribution has changed substantially.
Table: Religious Composition by Country, in Numbers
The Global Religious Landscape
A country-by-country analysis of data from more than 2,500 censuses, surveys and population registers finds that 84% of adults and children around the globe are religiously affiliated. The study also finds that the median age of two major groups – Muslims (23 years) and Hindus (26) – is younger than the world’s overall population (28), while Jews have the highest median age (36).