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Pew report: Religious conflict rises around world

Jan. 14, 2014 at 3:52 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- Religious conflict appears on the rise worldwide with hostility high in one-third of all countries, a Washington think tank report issued Tuesday found.

The Pew Research Center also said 76 percent of the world's population live in countries where restrictions on religious practice are high or very high. That has edged up since 2007, researchers said.

The report was released two days ahead of Religious Freedom Day in the United States.

Religious hostility has increased sharply since 2007, Pew said. Using the Social Hostilities Index, researchers found in 2011 conflict was high or very high in 29 percent of countries and territories, up from 20 percent in 2007.

The greatest increases in conflict were in the Middle East in the wake of the Arab Spring and in East Asia, including China and Myanmar, researchers said.

Using the Government Restrictions Index, Pew found 43 percent of countries place significant limits on religious practice. But because some of those countries, including China, have very large populations, the percentage of the global population affected is much higher.

Pakistan had the highest level of restrictions and Egypt the highest level of conflict, Pew said.

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