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"Nearly a third of the world's people live in nations where practicing religion freely is becoming increasingly difficult, according to a new study released Tuesday.According to the Conference on the Persecution of Christians, religious persecution affects over 100 million Christians each year and, although people of all faiths face persecution, three out of every four religion-based hate crimes that lead to death are directed towards Christians.
The Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life said government restrictions and religiously motivated hostility rose significantly between mid-2006 and mid-2009, when the research was conducted.
Only 1% of the world's population lives in countries where the trend was the opposite.
"The increasing levels of social hostilities is a definite trend that needs to be watched carefully," said Brian Grim, the primary researcher for the study.
Grim said the Pew Center's report on 198 countries found those that were already restrictive or abusive in the previous report continued their decline. Those that were tolerant became more so. The study found that 101 governments used force against religious groups or individuals.
He said Christians and Muslims, who make up more than half of the world's population, were harassed in the most number of countries, though that did not reflect the intensity of the persecution.
The Middle East and North Africa had the largest proportion of nations where curbs on religion went up, the study found. Nearly a third of those nations imposed greater restrictions. It was particularly bad in Egypt, the study said."
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