Religious freedoms are declining for more than a third of the world’s population, says results of research by Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. Between 2006 and 2009, more than two billion people around the world suffered increased religious persecution, including 1,300 religiously motivated hate crimes in the U.S. as reported to the FBI. Even so, the research showed the U.S. enjoys high levels of religious freedom compared to regions such as the Middle East and North Africa. Christians and Muslims, who make up half the world’s population, bear the brunt of the world’s religiously motivated hostility in the most number of countries, although the intensity of the persecution was not studied. Countries cited for particularly hostile environments were Egypt, Nigeria, China, Yemen, Syria, and Libya; increases were also noted in populous countries like France, Russia, Thailand, Vietnam, and even the United Kingdom. Sources say those increases in hostility were due to social movements and government restrictions. Head researcher Brian Grim said of the study results, “The increasing levels of social hostilities is a definite trend that needs to be watched carefully.”

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