Freedom of Religion

Dec. 16, 2016 Weekly Graphs

With V-Dem’s Variable Graph Tool, we can examine regional averages for the Freedom of Religion variable in East Africa, among countries presently part of the European Union (EU), Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and Southeast Asia. The Freedom of Religion variable measures to what extent citizens enjoy the freedom to choose and practice any religious belief. The higher the value, the more public authorities respect their citizens’ freedom of religion.

Since 1900 the degree of religious freedom in the current EU countries has been the highest among the regions, except for the years between 1940 and 1960, which is due to the impact of World War II and the expansion of communism. In contrast, MENA countries show the lowest degree of religious freedom where, by and large, religious freedom is somewhat respected by public authorities but minority religious communities face repression and occasional discrimination. East Africa began at a level similar to the MENA region, but has since moved towards a level where religious freedom is mostly respected. Finally, Southeast Asia has experienced the most variation over time. Beginning at a level where religious freedom was somewhat respected, after slight dip in the 1940s a continually downward trajectory began in the 1950s reaching its lowest point in 1976. Since then, the region has experienced a continuous process of religious liberalization.

To find out more about freedom of religion or other civil liberties worldwide, use the Online Analysis Tools on  


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