Government Harassment And Restrictions On Religious Groups At An All Time High

The Pew Research Center has recently released its 12th annual report on how 198 nations and territories infringe on its citizens’ religious rights. The new report compares data from the pre-pandemic period of 2019 to the latest year with available data across more than a dozen United NAtions, U.S., nad European, and civil society sources.

The report revealed that across 57 nations or 29% have shown “very high” or “high” levels of government restrictions, matching a peak from 2012, Christianity Today reported. This is a small increase of one nation from 2018’s records. According to the report, the global median on Pew’s 10-point scale remained at 2.9 following a steady rise since the baseline of 1.8 in 2007, when the report first began measuring such metrics.

Nations in the Middle East and North Africa had the highest score of government restrictions with 6.0, followed by the Asia Pacific at 4.1, Europe with 209, the Sub-Saharan African nations with 2.6, and the Americas with 2.0. Among the different types of government restrictions, the most common was “government harassment of religious groups.” About 9 out of 10 nations or a total of 180 showed at least one incident. Another most common type of government restriction is “government interference in worship,” which 8 out of 10 nations or 163 total recorded incidents.

The report also found that about half or 48% of nations used force against religious groups, led by China, Myanmar, Sudan, and Syria with more than 10,000 incidents each. According to Pew, “Renewed fighting between the military and armed ethnic organizations in the [Myanmar] states of Kachin and northern Shan ‘deeply impacted’ Christians, according to USCIRF. In 2019, thousands were displaced-including many Christians-in addition to more than 120,000 Rohingya who already had been internally displaced, and the military damaged over 300 churches.”

In China, “restrictions” is a loosely used word to describe the communist state’s activities against the Uyghurs, Christians, and other religious minorities. Proof of which was evident during the first ever World Uyghur Congress, a non-governmental tribunal organized by a group of lawyers, professors and advocacy groups to expose China’s human rights abuses against religious minorities.

Such abuses include intense surveillance, acts of genocide, mass detention, repression, and sterilization, The Guardian reported. In fact, a former Chinese police detective has spoken to CNN about how authorities attack and take Uyghurs at night when they least expect it. Upon their capture, they are subjected to abuse and are forced to confess. The youth are beaten up and both men and women are raped by prison guards.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian maintains, “The so-called genocide in Xinjiang is nothing but a rumor backed by ulterior motives and an outright lie.”