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About 70 percent of world population lives under high religious restrictions, a study reveals

Nearly 70 percent of the world’s 6.8 billion people live in countries with high restrictions on religion, the brunt of which often falls on religious minorities, according to a new study of prestigious Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life.

Acclaimed Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, expressing shock at the findings, urged the nations of the world to guarantee religious freedom as it was a basic human right. It was the moral duty of the majority everywhere to take care of its minorities. Infringing on religious beliefs/practices of others was not okay, Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, argued.

This study, “Global Restrictions on Religion”, found that 64 nations have high or very high restrictions on religion. Some restrictions result from government actions, policies and laws. Others result from hostile acts by private individuals, organizations and social groups. In 178 countries, religious groups must register with the government for various purposes, and in 117, the registration requirements resulted in major problems for, or outright discrimination against, certain faiths.

Public tensions between religious groups were reported in the vast majority (87%) of countries and in 126 countries, these hostilities involved physical violence. In 49 countries, private individuals or groups used force or the threat of force to compel adherence to religious norms, the study adds.

We all very well knew that religion comprised of much more than our own personal experience or tradition. The challenge before the world today was to seek unitythat celebrated diversity, Rajan Zed pointed out.

Directed by Luis Lugo, The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, based in Washington DC and launched in 2001, seeks to promote a deeper understanding of issues at the intersection of religion and public affairs. The Forum is a project of the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan “fact tank” that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. The Center in turn is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts whose President is Rebecca W. Rimel.

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