On 7 December, six climate activists defaced St Mark's Basilica of Venice by spraying Nesquik with fire extinguishers on the right side facade and pouring mud on the columns. They then unfurled a banner and a placard with the photos of twelve climate activists who were detained for three days after a roadblock in Fiumicino.
On November 27, a woman was arrested in Madrid for praying the rosary on the streets. This comes after the Government Delegation banned the public prayer of the rosary that has been taking place in front of the headquarters of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) during the ongoing anti-government protests. On December 1st the Provincial Court of Madrid dismissed the appeal on the infringement of the right of assembly and the police have been intervening to stop people from praying the rosary.
A judgment by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) from November 28 ruled that a public administration's imposition of strict neutrality to establish a 'neutral administrative environment' by forbidding the use of visible religious symbols can be justified. The Court states that Member States have discretion in designing neutrality policies but must pursue these objectives consistently and reasonably. This concept of 'strict neutrality', which is seen as opposed to visible religious symbols, raises religious freedom concerns.
On November 27, unknown perpetrators vandalized the Basilica of St. John the Baptist in Saarbrücken. A statute of Infant Jesus has been beheaded and the statute of Mary, holding the infant, was also damaged. Furthermore, the altar room has been vandalised and a cigarette extinguished on the main altar. In order to reach the statutes of Mary and Jesus, the perpetrator must have climbed on one of the altars.
On November 26, a 29-year-old man from Syria disrupted the Sunday Mass in Vienna's St. Stephan Cathedral. According to media reports, he repeatedly disturbed the liturgy, jumped over the fence around the main alter and screamed loudly. On November 27, the same man returned to the Cathedral and threatened the security guards inside the church with a screwdriver, making signs that he wanted to cut their throats. The police arrested the perpetrator close to the church venue.
On November 23, Keplerkirche St. Johann in Vienna was vandalized. Witnesses had seen a man who had allegedly tore a statue of the Madonna from an anchorage in the church and stole a wooden cross. Based on the witness statements and video surveillance footage, the police were able to identify the perpetrator. The 29-year-old Syrian man was found near the church and arrested. He will be charged with aggravated damage to property and theft. The stolen cross was returned to the church. The same perpetrator attacked the Viennese St. Stephan cathedral a few days later (see case from November 26, 2023).
OIDAC Europe has produced a documentary that explores the topic of self-censorship. The film shows the experiences and thoughts of Christian university students in Europe, when trying to share their faith or live according to their beliefs in a highly secular environment. This project led to reflection on Christianity, society, freedom of speech, social media, and many other topics. The students also shared ideas for ways to encourage open conversations and mutual respect among groups of individuals holding different opinions and beliefs.
Today, on the International Day of Tolerance, OIDAC Europe presents its new Annual Report 2022/23. The report finds an increase of anti-Christian hate crimes by 44% over the last year. Arson attacks on churches increased even by 75% between 2021 and 2022. OIDAC Europe’s annual report also found legal discrimination against Christians who expressed traditional Christian worldviews.
The Bundesplatz in Bern was filled with 500 wooden crosses, 1,000 roses, and a long list of names of victims of religious persecution on the 9. July. This was organized by the Working Group for Religious Freedom of the Swiss Evangelical Alliance SEA. They want to show solidarity with the more than 5,000 Christians worldwide who die because of their faith. And they warn that the number of people persecuted for their faith across different religions is increasing. Still, the organizers want to also communicate hope for the future.
In the light of the current invasion of Ukraine by Russia, experts and human rights activists are concerned for religious freedom. They fear religious minorities will face the same human rights violations as in Russian controlled areas. Religious groups suffer discrimination in Crimea and the pro-Russian controlled areas of Luhansk and Donetsk.