Religion-related terrorism and harassment of Jews increasing worldwide, Pew study finds

(JTA) – The harassment of Jews worldwide continued to increase in 2014 even as government restrictions on religion and social hostilities involving religion decreased modestly, according to a new study.

The Pew Research Center’s annual study of 198 countries released June 23 also found an increase in religion-related terrorism, with 82 of the nearly 200 countries studied experiencing religion-related terrorist activities in 2014 – the most recent year studied. In 60 countries, the terrorist activities led to injuries or deaths. Casualties from religion-related terrorist activities have been rising in recent years, the study reported.

The study did not address the religion with which the majority of the perpetrators of religion-related terrorism identified. However, all the examples cited were of acts perpetrated by Islamist groups and Muslim individuals.

More than half, or 58 per cent, of the incidents of anti-religious hate crimes in the U.S. in 2014 were motivated, in whole or in part, by anti-Jewish bias, the study reported, citing FBI statistics. Sixteen percent of such hate crimes were motivated by anti-Muslim bias.

The study found a “notable increase in the number of countries in which Jews and Hindus were harassed.” While Jews make up just 0.2 per cent of the world’s population, they were harassed in 81 countries, up from 77 in 2013.

While some religious groups are more likely to be harassed by governments, the study found that Jews are more likely to be harassed by individuals or groups. In 31 countries governments restrict Jews, while individuals or groups harassed Jews in 80 countries.

The study also found that among the world’s 25 most populous countries, the highest overall restrictions on religion in 2014 were in Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, Russia and Turkey. With the exception of Russia, these countries are majority Muslim.

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