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NEW YORK — In more than half the countries of the world religious freedom is curtailed.
That is the finding of a comprehensive report published Tuesday by Aid to the Church in Need—the “Religious Freedom Report 2014.”
The survey—conducted by journalists and scholars and covering the years 2012-2014—shows that in 116 of the world’s 196 nations, freedom of worship is obstructed to one degree or another, ranging from mild harassment and discrimination to outright persecution and violence.
The Report classifies 20 countries as manifesting a “high” degree of religious intolerance or active persecution. Of this group, 14 countries are home to religious minorities that suffer at the hands of Muslim extremists. They are: Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Maldives, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
In the remaining six—Burma (Myanmar), China, Eritrea, North Korea, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan—authoritarian regimes are responsible for repressing religious freedom.
The report also documents “aggressive atheism” alongside a rise in anti-Semitism in Western Europe, as well as “religious illiteracy” on the part of Western policy-makers that gravely complicates the conduct of foreign policy.
A 32-page Executive Summary of the Report is available here.
Aid to the Church in Need is an international Catholic charity under the guidance of the Holy See, providing assistance to the suffering and persecuted Church in more than 140 countries.