In a new report by Pew Research Center, harassment of various religious groups have globally spread and significantly increased.

“In nearly three out of every four countries of the world, religious groups experience harassment by individuals or groups in society,” Pew says.

Pew collected data in 2012 and measured the percentage of religious groups that face persecution in five geographical regions: Europe, Asia-Pacific, Middle East/Northern Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Americas.

Muslim groups are the most harassed in Europe, Middle East/Northern Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa (71 percent, 75 percent, and 35 percent, respectively).

An earlier report by Pew (Jan. 2014) showed that Jews face more social harassment globally than any other religious group. Within the five regions, Jews experience the most hostility in the Americas, but are a close second or third in other regions, excluding Sub-Saharan Africa.

Christians, being one of the largest and prevalent religious groups in the world, are harassed in the most number of countries (110). Buddhist and Hindu groups illustrate the lowest across the world, but face the highest social harassment in the Asia-Pacific region (10 percent and 14 percent, respectively).

In Sub-Saharan Africa, groups that practice folk or traditional religion, in the realm of voodoo or witchcraft, “were harassed in nearly three-in-ten countries (27 percent, or 13 of 48) in this part of the world.”

Specifics on which countries within each region experienced harassment of religious groups were not collected. As well, Pew did not measure the level of intimidation religious groups suffered, but noted how these incidents take shape.

“The harassment and intimidation take many forms, including physical or verbal assaults; desecration of holy sites; and discrimination against religious groups in employment, education and housing,” says Pew.

Although the study centers on social harassment, reasons for its occurrence and persistence are contributed to varying factors.

To view more on how religious harassment varies by region, visit Pew Research Center.

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