Pew Research Centre publishes its latest report. To restrain and control religious groups, political authorities increasingly use force - such as detentions, physical abuse, destruction of property, expulsion. More than 50% of the most restrictive countries are in Asia. Instead, the restrictions caused by society (individuals, groups, etc.) are decreasing.
Washington (AsiaNews) – The persecution of religions is growing worldwide and, above all, persecution imposed by governments through various restrictions. Out of 198 governments surveyed, China ranks first, followed by Iran, Malaysia, Tajikistan and 21 other Asian nations.
These are the results that emerge from a study published on November 10 by the Pew Research Centre. Through 20 indicators, each country is assigned a score regarding the restrictions imposed by governments, the restrictions imposed by society, and finally a median score is obtained.
According to the research institute, in 2018 the level of restrictions placed on religions by governments - through laws, policies, actions that curb or block belief or practice - continued to increase until reaching the maximum level since 2007, the year where the Pew Research Centre began studying these dimensions. According to the study, this increase is due to the fact that more and more political authorities use force - such as detentions, physical abuse, destruction of property, expulsion from the land - to restrain and control religious groups.
The countries that have a "high" or "very high" index of government restrictions this year are 56; most of them are in the Asia-Pacific area (25) and 18 in the countries of the Middle East-North Africa.
“Some countries in the Asia-Pacific region - it says in the study - saw all-time highs in their overall government restrictions scores. This includes China, which continued to have the highest score on the Government Restrictions Index (GRI) out of all 198 countries and territories in the study. China has been near the top of the list of most restrictive governments in each year since the inception of the study, and in 2018 it reached a new peak in its score (9.3 out of 10)."
Among the causes that led to this sad record, the study cites the repression of Falun Gong, Christian groups, detentions and torture, raids on places of worship and the detention of at least 800 thousand (but many sources say over a million) Uighurs in Xinjiang.
There is no lack of references to Tajikistan, which controls religious education in the country and persecutes Jehovah's Witnesses; to India, its anti-conversion laws and its policy in Jammu-Kashmir; to Thailand which in 2018 expelled many migrants without a residence permit (among these there were Christians and Ahmadis from Pakistan, Montagnard Christians from Vietnam, etc.).
Another interesting fact is that religious restrictions on a social level - carried out by individuals, groups, civil society organizations - have decreased compared to the previous year, albeit slightly.
Finally, the study investigates whether there is a nexus between the form of government and religious restrictions. The analysis shows that, albeit with exceptions, 65% of governments with the highest restrictions on religions are classified as "authoritarian". Among countries with low restrictions, only 7% are described as "authoritarian". Three countries with high restrictions are classified as "imperfect democracies": they are Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.
There are also authoritarian countries that exhibit a high level of social hostility. Out of 43 countries, only 21% are authoritarian; 13 are "imperfect democracies" and 5 are "full democracies". These five are all in Europe and are: Denmark, Germany, Holland, Switzerland, Great Britain. Their score is due to many anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic incidents.