Seven countries – Algeria, Eritrea, Libya, Maldives, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia and Yemen – do not include any provisions for religious freedom in their constitutions or basic laws. The Algerian Constitution, for example, establishes Islam as the state religion and forbids practices that are contrary to Islamic ethics.
There appears to be at least some relationship between constitutional protections for religious freedom and overall changes in government restrictions on religion. Among the countries with the least robust constitutional protections for religious freedom – that is, countries whose constitutions contain one or more substantial contradictions concerning religious freedom or provide no protection for it at all – index scores increased in 11 and decreased in only two (more than a five-fold difference). In contrast, among the countries whose constitutions provide for religious freedom without substantial contradictions (including those with limited qualifications), index scores increased in three countries and decreased in six (a two-fold difference).
However, the pattern is reversed among the 41 countries whose constitutions or basic laws provide for religious freedom without qualification or contradiction. Among these countries, government restrictions decreased in three countries (Timor-Leste, Equatorial Guinea and the Republic of Macedonia) and increased in one (Kyrgyzstan). This pattern is also seen, though more faintly, among the 39 countries whose constitutions or basic laws provide for religious freedom but include limited qualifications, such as the right to limit religious freedom to protect “public order.” Restrictions decreased in three of these countries (Togo, Guinea Bissau and Nicaragua) and increased in two of them (Uganda and Tajikistan). (The level of government restrictions stayed roughly the same in the vast majority of cases.)
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