What is this report?
An international foundation of pontifical right, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) examines the situation of all religious denominations in 196 countries every two years. The 16th edition of its report covers the period from May 2021 to December 2022. About 30 scholars, missionaries, rights activists and journalists worked on this document.
62% of the world’s population lives in countries where religious freedom is violated
Religious freedom has been violated in 61 countries of the 196 studied, compared to 62 in the previous report. They bring together more than 4.9 billion people, or 62.5% of the population.
The document provides an alarming inventory since, since the last report, the situation has deteriorated in 47 countries. Only nine have seen their situation improve (Mauritius, Ethiopia, Jordan, Oman, Qatar, Egypt, United Arab Emirates…).
28 countries suffered persecution
Among these 61 countries, the EDA counted of the persecutions in 28 countries (assassinations, deportations, exiles, conversions and forced marriages, expropriations), i.e. 51.6% of the world’s population, compared to 26 in 2021. Many African countries but also China and India are among “the worst offenders of religious freedom”.
For the rest, 33 countries are affected by discrimination. 22 countries have been classified as “under observation”, for which new factors of concern are likely to cause a rupture.
African countries most concerned
According to the ACN report, of the 28 countries facing persecution, “13 are in Africa, where in many regions the situation has deteriorated sharply.” In addition, 39% of the countries of the continent have their religious freedom violated.
For the Catholic foundation, this concentration is explained by the presence of jihadist groups and the expansion of “opportunist caliphates” (DRC, Mozambique).
Power in the hands of autocrats and leaders of fundamentalist groups
AED has identified three causes for this degraded situation:
Religious freedom is attacked either by “authoritarian governments”either by “Islamist extremism”, either by “ethno-religious nationalism”.
Muslims and Jews targeted
The NGO notes an “increased persecution of Muslims, including by other Muslims”, in particular “between Sunnis and Shiites”, noting in particular the situation of the Hazara community in Afghanistan.
It also notes that “reported attacks against the Jewish community in the West increased after the Covid-19-related confinements. Reported anti-Semitic hate crimes in OSCE countries increased from 582 in 2019 to 1,367 in 2021” . These figures come from the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).