A report showing that religious freedom is compromised in nearly 60 percent of countries worldwide is expected to send a signal to governments and religious leaders that this is an issue that can no longer be ignored.
The international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need’s Religious Freedom in the World 2014 Report, compiled by journalists, academics and commentators, reveals worrying concerns for people of faith in 116 of the world’s 196 countries.
The report – looking at all religious groups and covering events from autumn 2012 to summer 2014 – concludes that where the situation regarding religious liberty has changed, it has almost always changed for the worse.
In the 196 countries analysed, deteriorating conditions are noted in 55 countries (or 28 percent).
Only six of the 196 countries – Iran, United Arab Emirates, Cuba, Qatar, Zimbabwe and Taiwan – have been classified as improved and yet, even of those, four remain categorised as experiencing “high” or “medium” persecution.
A 32-page executive summary categorises 20 countries as having a “high” degree of religious intolerance or active persecution.
Of these, 14 experience religious persecution linked to extremist Islam. These are Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Maldives, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
In the remaining six countries, religious persecution is mainly linked to authoritarian regimes. These are Myanmar, China, Eritrea, North Korea, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan.