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Religious Freedom in the World Report 2016.

ACN’s comprehensive assessment on the threat to religious liberty today - published on Thursday 24th November 2016.

Examining the two-year period up to June 2016, this Religious Freedom in the World 2016 report assesses the religious situation of every country in the world. In total, 196 nations were examined with a special focus in each case on the place of religious freedom in constitutional and other statutory documents, incidents of note and finally a projection of likely trends.

Consideration was given to recognised religious groups regardless of their numerical size or perceived influence in any given country.




Increasing media coverage of violence perpetrated in the name of religion – be it by Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al Shabaab in Kenya or the Taliban in Afghanistan– reflects a growing recognition about how for too long religious liberty has been “an orphaned right”.

Aided by the work of political activists and NGOs, a tipping point has been reached concerning public awareness about religiously motivated crimes and oppression, prompting a fresh debate about the place of religion in society.

The frequency and intensity of atrocities against Yazidis, Christians, Baha’is, Jews and Ahmaddiyya Muslims is on the rise, and is reflected in the volume of reportage of extremist violence against religious minorities.

In the face of such crimes, it is arguably more important than ever to arrive at a clear and workable definition of religious freedom and its ramifications for government and the judiciary.


This report acknowledges the core tenets of religious liberty as contained in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948:

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship or observance. (United Nations, “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights”)

The focus of this Religious Freedom in the World report is concerned with State and non-State actors (militant or fundamentalist organisations) who restrict and deny religious expression, be it in public or in private, and who do so without due respect for others and for the rule of law.


Foreword by Father Jacques Mourad

Syriac-Catholic priest Father Jacques Mourad was held by Daesh (ISIS) but escaped after five months.
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“Our world teeters on the brink of complete catastrophe as extremism threatens to wipe out all trace of diversity in society.” Read the full foreword »

Download the Executive Summary

ACN Religious Freedom Report 2016-UK-FOR PRINT-final.indd This report sets out to describe the conditions faced by every religious minority in every country of the world.

World map of "medium" and "high" persecution states

ACN Religious Freedom Report 2016-UK-FOR PRINT-final.indd

In-depth analysis with 196 Country reports

In-depth analysis with 196 Country reports