With harassment of Jews reaching a seven-year high, Pakistan was among the countries which had the highest levels of government social restrictions on religions, according to a report published by the Pew Research Centre on Thursday.
The ‘Latest Trends in Religious Restrictions and Hostilities‘ said that harassment of Jews was reported in 77 out of 198 countries in 2013 — the highest number in seven years. However, the report noted that there was a downturn in hostile acts involving all religions worldwide.
“Jews are much more likely to be harassed by individuals or groups in society than by governments,” it said in a 86-page report. On the other hand, Christians were the most harassed, either by government or social groups, in 102 of the 198 countries included in the study (52 per cent). Muslims faced harassment in 99 countries (50 per cent).”
However, trends showed that harassment of both Christians and Muslims reduced markedly from 2012 when they were harassed in 110 and 109 countries respectively.
“In Europe, for example, Jews were harassed by individuals or social groups in 34 of the region’s 45 countries,” it added.
Pakistan, which saw scores for restrictions (government restrictions and social hostilities) on religions fall from its peak in 2012, it still had a high score on social hostilities index at 8.8 (9.8 in 2012), behind the likes of Israel, India and Palestine.
On the index that measured government imposed restrictions, Pakistan’s score fell from 7.1 in 2012 to 6.4 in 2013. However, it was much higher than 5.8 in 2007, indicating increased religious restrictions imposed by the government over the past eight years.
Worldwide, Pews said “social hostilities involving religion,” measured on a country-by-country basis, declined in 2013 after hitting a six-year high in 2012.
Twenty-seven per cent of all nations witnessed such hostile acts as vandalism of religious property and desecration of sacred texts to violent assaults resulting in death and injury — compared to 33 per cent in 2012.
That said, “the share of countries with high or very high government restrictions on religion stayed roughly the same” at 27 per cent, it said.
The highest overall levels of restrictions on religion were found in Myanmar, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan and Russia, with both government and society imposing “numerous limits on religious beliefs and practices.”
“China had the highest level of government restrictions in 2013, and India had the highest level of social hostilities involving religion,” Pew said.