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Report: Religious Intolerance Grows Worldwide

A leading minority rights organization says religious intolerance has become one of the main causes of persecution of minorities around the world.

The London-based Minority Rights Group International, in its 2010 report, calls religious intolerance the "new racism" and says its impact is felt on religious minorities across the globe.

It says such minorities also face increased persecution and reduced freedom stemming from strict government anti-terrorism measures imposed after the September 2001 terror attacks on the United States.

It says discrimination against Muslims is on the rise in the United States and Western Europe, and cites increasing physical violence against religious minorities in Iraq and Pakistan. The report says those attacks include abduction, murder, torture and rape.

In Asia and Africa, the report says religious affiliation is overtaking race and ethnicity as a key factor driving discrimination and violence against minorities.

The report, issued Thursday, says a number of countries -- including Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Serbia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have either introduced or amended religious registration laws.

The report notes that Islam, Christianity and Judaism are the only three recognized religions in Egypt, leaving the Baha'i with limited access to employment, education, medical and financial services.

It also says U.S. authorities have targeted citizens of 14 countries - 13 of them predominantly Muslim - for special scrutiny at airports.

In India, Muslims were found to be targeted for arrests on terrorism charges with minimal evidence.

The report also notes an increase in the number of anti-Semitic incidents against Jewish communities in Europe.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.