Freedom House puts out a Freedom in the World annual report, scoring each of 193 countries for political rights and for civil liberties. Based on these scores, they categorize each country as “Free”, “Partly Free”, or “Not Free”. Their report is in for 2008, and the difference between Muslim countries and non-Muslim countries is stark.
Freedom House does not separate the countries into categories by their predominant religion, so I’ve done that. Here are the countries as I’ve classified them (I would be grateful for a heads-up in the event of any errors):
50 Muslim countries: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brunei, Burkina Faso, Chad, Comoros, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Yemen.
143 non-Muslim countries: Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burma, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Kinshasa), Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Kiribati, Laos, Latvia, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, North Korea, Norway, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Comparison: Of the Muslim countries, 25 of 50 (50%) were “Not Free”. 22 (44%) were “Partly Free”, and only 3 (6%) were “Free”. Looking at the extremes, 5 (10%) received the worst score, and none (0%) received the best score. Contrast that with the non-Muslim countries, of which 18 of 143 (13%) were “Not Free”, 38 (27%) were “Partly Free”, and 87 (61%) were “Free”. (That’s 101% due to rounding.)As for the extremes, only 3 (2%) received the worst score while fully 48 (34%) received the very best possible score. Perhaps a table format shows it best:
|Religion||“Not Free”||NF %||”Partly Free”||PF %||”Free”||F %|
|Religion||Worst Score||Worst Score Percent||Best Score||Best Score Percent|
Number of Countries for Each Score
14 is the worst possible score, 2 is the best. Note that no Muslim countries scored 2, 3, or 4, which means that 78 out of 143 non-Muslim countries, which is 55% of the total number, are freer than any Muslim country.
Trends: From 2007 to 2008, 8 Muslim countries became less free, and 3 became more free, for a net change of 5 countries out of 50 (10%) moving less free. In comparison, 6 non-Muslim countries became less free, and 3 became more free, for a net change of 3 countries out of 143 (2%) becoming less free. The trend toward less freedom in Muslim countries is consistent with claims that the Muslim world is, in general, suffering the effects of a worldwide Islamic movement.
It is also worth mentioning that the three countries categorized as “Free” (Indonesia, Mali, and Senegal) are borderline. In Freedom House’s scoring system, the best possible score is 2, and these three countries scored a 5. 2-5 is “Free”, 6-10 is “Partly Free”, and 11-14 is “Not Free”. You can find many examples of religious intolerance in Indonesia. Less information is available about Mali and Senegal in West Africa, in part because they are quite small, with a population of about 12 million each. However, the little information I have found indicates they are relatively tolerant and quite unorthodox, with little Islamist activity at this time.