Religion-related terrorism decreased globally in 2019, but government restrictions on religion remain at historic high levels, according to Pew Research Center.
Pew’s 12th annual study of 198 countries and territories around the world found 43 countries had “high” or “very high” levels of social hostilities related to religion in 2019, the most recent year for which data is available and covering a period before the coronavirus pandemic.
In 2018, that number was 53 countries, down from a peak of 65 countries in 2012. Social hostilities involving religion include violence and harassment against religious groups by private individuals and groups, according to Pew.
However, two specific measures of government restrictions on religion increased globally in 2019: government harassment against religious groups and government interference in worship. In total, 180 countries had at least one reported incident of government harassment or interference in worship in 2019 — more than in any other year since the study began in 2007, Pew reported.
Most countries with “high” or “very high” levels of government restrictions in 2019 were either in the Asia-Pacific region or in the Middle East-North Africa region.