How religious harassment varies by region across the globe

In nearly three out of every four countries of the world, religious groups experience harassment by individuals or groups in society. 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. Every year, we track such harassment through a variety of sources, including the U.S. State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report and U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief reports. (For more information on our sources and procedures, see our latest report on religious restrictions and hostilities.) Here’s a region-by-region look at where it takes place, and to which groups:

Americas: Harassment of Jews found in nearly a third of countries In the Americas, Jews faced harassment or intimidation in 29% of countries (10 of 35) – more than any other group in the region. In August 2012, for example, a neo-Nazi group in Chile attacked a 14-year-old boy, drawing a swastika on his stomach with a syringe. Christians and Muslims each experienced harassment in about one-in-ten countries in the region (11%, or four countries each). In Mexico, for instance,a group of Catholics burned and destroyed more than a dozen homes belonging to indigenous evangelical Protestant families in retaliation for the families’ refusal to convert to Catholicism. And in Canada in 2012, “hooligans” vandalized a mosque in Quebec with anti-Islamic graffiti and damaged the mosque’s windows and vehicles.

Europe: Jews, Muslims faced intimidation in seven-in-ten countries In Europe, Jews were harassed in 69% of countries in the region (31 of 45). Muslims experienced harassment in 71% of countries (32 of 45) – a rate nearly as high as in the Middle East and North Africa (75%). In Greece, for instance, vandals defaced Jewish cemeteries and arsonists attacked informal mosques as well as Jehovah’s Witness congregations. In France, a group of at least 10 people attacked three Jewish youth with hammers while they were walking to Shabbat services.