the restrictions on religion and social hostilities involving religion increased in 2015 for the first time in three years, according to Pew Research Center’s latest annual study on global restrictions on religion. According to Pew, Turkey is among the countries where restrictions on religion are “very high.”
In the report, Pew stated that many countries have some form of restriction on religion, whether that involves policies favoring some groups over others or outright bans on certain worship practices.
“But each year, a few countries stand out as having particularly extensive restrictions,” the report said.
In 2015, 23 of the 198 countries in the study had “very high” levels of restrictions, up from 16 countries in 2014. Some 13 countries – like China, Egypt, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran
– have had very high levels of restrictions every year since 2007, the first year for which data are available.
Other countries may fluctuate into and out of this top category. Eight countries had very high levels of government restrictions in 2015 but not in 2014, which are Vietnam, Singapore, Morocco, Algeria, Iraq, Eritrea, Brunei and Mauritania. Laos was the only country to fall out of this category in 2015.
Turkey was in the category in 2014 and still is, but there is a low level of improvement, according to the report.
Pew didn’t rank the countries in the category due to the difficulty of listing them taking the geographical differences into account.
The number of countries with “high” levels of restrictions fell somewhat, from 31 countries in 2014 to 27 countries in 2015, although this was mainly due to some countries moving into the “very high” category.
Meanwhile, the number of countries with “low” levels of restrictions decreased from 2014 to 2015, from 92 to 87.
Similarly, most countries have some form of social hostilities involving religion, including social groups harassing members of a certain religion, or terrorist groups carrying out actions in the name of religion.
“Some countries, however, have particularly extensive social hostilities,” the report said.
Turkey was listed in the “high” category in this list and the report noted that there are regressions in terms of social hostilities involving religion.
Each year, some countries experience significant changes in their scores on the Government Restrictions Index (GRI) without necessarily rising into – or falling out of – the “very high” restrictions category.
Four countries – Cameroon, Comoros, Morocco and Niger – had a large change (2.0 points or more) on the GRI in 2015, all in the direction of higher restrictions.
Twenty-nine countries had modest changes of between 1.0 and 1.9 points in their GRI scores. Of these countries, four – Laos, Fiji, Turkey and Uganda – had decreases.