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06 January 2010


_38664795_ch_egypt_ap300.jpg(ANSAmed) - PARIS, JANUARY 5 - Among the restrictions imposed by governments, religious discrimination affects around 70% of the world's population. This is the finding of a report by the Pew Research Center's Forum, a US body which aims to set up a databank on

religion around the world. It also finds that religious extremism is most concentrated in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa. Entitled 'Global restriction on religion' and published by the French Catholic daily, La Croix, the study was carried out between mid-2006 and mid-2008 across 198 countries, taking in 99.5% of the world's population. Researches started from 16 public reports coming from the State Department, the American Commission for International Religious Freedom, the Council of the European Union, the Office of Foreign Affairs for Great Britain and the Commonwealth and from NGOs such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. The report is divided into two parts, on governmental restrictions (GRI, Government Restriction Index) and on inter-religious hostility (SHI, Social Hostilities Index) respectively. GRI examines national and local laws, judicial texts and police-force practices which limit the freedoms to teach or preach, prevent religious conversions or promote one religion above others. These restrictions affect Catholics, Protestants (especially Evangelicals), Jews, Buddhists and minority Moslem groups irrespectively. According to this primary classification, 43 countries have a high or very high rate of government restrictions, especially in countries with a Moslem majority (including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria and Turkey). Therefore, 64 nations, a third of the population, have a high or very high rate of restriction on religious freedom and some (Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran, which the report labels "the trio of the worst") are in both groups. Other countries, (such as Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, the Philippines, Bangladesh), show strong inter-religious hostility alongside a degree of moderation in governmental discrimination. The lowest rates, both in terms of GRI and of SHI are to be found in Italy, Brazil, Japan, the USA, South Africa, with the highest in the Middle East and North Africa. (ANSAmed).

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