Boston marathon bombing caused rise in religious hostilities, study says

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As the trial begins this week for Boston marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a Pew Research Center study shows that the bombing contributed to a rise in religious hostilities in the U.S. between 2012 and 2013.

FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics also showed a rise in the percentage of religious hate crimes that were motivated by anti-Islamic bias, from 11.6 percent in 2012 to 13.7 percent in 2013.

The Pew Research Center study measured religious restrictions and hostilities in 198 countries and did not include North Korea. Researchers looked at 20 different types of government restrictions and 13 types of social hostilities in each country, using the data to give each a 0-10 rating in those categories.

In the world’s 25 most populous countries, China’s government imposed the most religious restrictions, while India showed the most social hostilities surrounding religion. In India, the study noted:

Religious hostilities against people who have converted from Hinduism to Christianity continued to result in tensions, “reconversion” attempts and violent attacks, according to the U.S. Department of State’s annual International Religious Freedom report.

In that same group, government restrictions on religion showed a slight increase while social hostilities around religion declined. The number of countries in this group with high social hostilities around religion decreased from 33 percent to 27 percent, while the number of countries with high government restrictions on religion showed a 2 percent increase from 27 percent to 29 percent.

Among the largest countries, only the United Kingdom showed a decrease in government restrictions on religion. This is due in part to the government’s loosening on policies surrounding the practice of Scientology, the study said.

Researchers also looked against members of religious groups worldwide. People who practice Christianity and Islam, the world’s two largest religions, were harassed in the greatest number of countries, with Christians harassed in 102 countries (52 percent) and Muslims harassed in 99 countries (50 percent).

Harassment against Jews occurred in 77 countries including 34 of Europe’s 45 countries, a seven-year high. Harassment against Jews largely came from “individuals or groups in society” rather than governments, according to the report.

The data were compiled from reports by the U.S. government, the UN, the European Union and non-governmental organizations that work with human rights, according to the study.

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