Pakistan is included in countries where the highest overall levels of restrictions on religion were found, according to a report published by the Pew Research Centre.
The highest overall levels of restrictions on religion were found in Myanmar, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan and Russia, with both government and society imposing “numerous limits on religious beliefs and practices.”
“China had the highest level of government restrictions in 2013, and India had the highest level of social hostilities involving religion,” Pew said.
It added: “Christians were harassed, either by government or social groups, in 102 of the 198 countries included in the study (52 per cent), while Muslims were harassed in 99 countries (50 per cent).”
Worldwide, Pews said “social hostilities involving religion,” measured on a country-by-country basis, declined in 2013 after hitting a six-year high the year before.
Twenty-seven per cent of all nations witnessed such hostile acts as vandalism of religious property and desecration of sacred texts to violent assaults resulting in death and injury, compared to 33 per cent in 2012.
That said, “The share of countries with high or very high government restrictions on religion stayed roughly the same” at 27 per cent, it said.
The number of countries where Jews face harassment is growing, despite a downturn in hostile acts involving all religions worldwide.
The Pew Research Centre said harassment of Jews was reported in 77 out of 198 countries in 2013, the highest number in seven years.
“Jews are much more likely to be harassed by individuals or groups in society than by governments,” it said in an 86-page report.
“In Europe, for example, Jews were harassed by individuals or social groups in 34 of the region’s 45 countries,” it added.