Government restrictions on religious freedom are on the rise for billions of people around the world, according to a new Pew Research Center study.
The recently-released report reveals about 2.2 billion people live in countries where the local government raised restrictions on religious freedoms between 2006 and 2009. That's nearly a third of the world's total population.
People living in the Middle East and North Africa saw the biggest increase in religious restrictions.
In the Middle East, Muslims were the most harassed religious group. But Christians and Jews also saw a great deal of persecution.
For more on the Pew Research study CBN News spoke with senior researcher Brian Grim. Click play for his comments.
Researchers named Egypt the worst country for religious freedom in the Middle East. Widespread social hostility against religion in that country was also found.
The number of governments that use violence against religious groups rose from 91 to 101 during the time span of the report.
That includes individuals being killed, physically abused, imprisoned, detained or displaced from their homes, as well as damage to or destruction of personal or religious properties.
While the study highlights an increase in governmental restrictions against religion, it also points out that eight countries had a substantial decline in restrictions.