Emergency laws entail the temporary suspension of normal judicial procedures and constitutional rights, typically in response to a national security threat. Depending on the circumstances, initial decrees can evolve into extended “states of emergency,” permitting governments to dramatically alter the protections normally extended to individuals and groups, including those defined by religion.
In 2016, seven countries – Turkey, Brunei, Ethiopia, France, Hungary, Niger and Tunisia – used emergency laws that restricted religion within their borders. While the official justifications for these measures varied, Pew Research Center’s latest annual religious restrictions study finds that across the seven countries, Muslims, more than any other religious group, were specifically targeted by law enforcement and security services acting in accordance with emergency laws. This fact, along with others, helped place five of these seven countries among the 105 nations, globally, where government restrictions on religion rose in 2016.