New OSCE Hate Crime Report Documented 980 Anti-Christian Incidents

Posted on: November 16, 2021

Country: Europe

Hate Crimes against Christians in Europe increased by 70%


Dear reader << Test Last Name >>, 

Today, on 16. November, we celebrate the International Day for Tolerance. On this day, the goal is to raise awareness about the importance of this virtue for our society and to draw attention to the current challenging dynamics of intolerance affecting people worldwide. 

Intolerance and its crippling effects affect Christians in Europe as well. As we document, report and analyse incidents of intolerance and discrimination against Christians in Europe throughout the year, we see that there is a lot of work to be done to adequately address this sad and growing phenomenon. We want to empower Christians, so they have the ability to respond correctly to situations of injustice and dare to speak up. Furthermore, we want to inform the wider public about this issue because fighting intolerance against Christians is beneficial for Christians and non-Christians alike in a healthy democracy. One way of doing so is by collaborating with International Organisations such as the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and its Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

Therefore, we are happy to share with you the latest Hate Crime Report for 2020 by the OSCE, which has documented 980 Anti-Christian Hate Crimes for 2020. Almost 600 of these documented cases were sent to them by us. You will find more key findings below!

And we have other great news: We will publish our first Top 5 Report 2020 on December 7th, based on a preliminary study exploring various forms of discrimination, intolerance, and violence against Christians in Europe. We will keep you informed, follow our social media channels to find the event and further updates on the report. 

Madeleine Enzlberger
Executive Director                           

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Below you will find some of the most recent news, but you can constantly keep updated about the cases in various European countries on our website

For its annual report, the OSCE receives descriptive data from civil society and international organisations, the Holy See and governments statistics from some of its member states. The Observatory of Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians in Europe has also been working closely with the OSCE in this area for several years and has contributed significantly to the data collection. 
For 2020, a total of 7,181 cases of hate crimes against groups and individuals of different religions and other protected characteristics were reported. 4,008 of them are descriptive cases the rest are police data from individual member states. 24 states report data on hate crimes committed due to racism or xenophobia, 20 on LGBT groups, 16 states on anti-Semitism, and 14 on incidents against Muslims, but only 11 countries report data on hate crimes against Christians, and this obviously distorts the statistics significantly. Furthermore, of the 136 civil society organisations that provided descriptive data, only 8 organisations (!) consistently reported incidents against Christians. Both of these findings put the reality of the situation into a different perspective, which indicates that the actual number of hate crimes against Christians is probably way higher. When comparing the numbers of incidents from last year to the number of this year, we can see an increase of almost 70%. What is also striking, is the fact that of the 4,008 descriptive cases, 980 are hate crimes against Christians, almost 25%, more than against any other religious group. This year alone, we were able to report around 600 of the 980 cases to the OSCE.

This reflects a worrying trend that we have been observing for some time. On 07.12.2021 we will publish a report on this trend, looking at the top 5 European countries where Christians have found it most difficult to live in the last two years.

What is a hate crime: 
The ODIHR defines a “hate crime” as an incident that encompasses: 1) a criminal offense, and 2) bias-motivation towards a particular group of people. Therefore, Hate Crimes are bias-motivated crimes against Christians, such as vandalism of Christian sites, including churches, cemeteries, schools, other public symbols of Christianity, and physical assault. 

Why report about hate crimes?
Hate crimes can be considered message crimes. This means the hateful act, often intentionally, sends an intimidating message to all bearers of such characteristics. 

Those affected often feel devalued, unwanted, persecuted, despised and lose their sense of security. Victims of hate crime often suffer long-term psychological consequences and try to be as invisible as possible and thus less vulnerable. High rates of hate crimes against a specific identity group can threaten the peace and security of society and lead to an open social conflict

Hate Crime Report 2020 OSCE
Violent Crimes or Insults Against Christians
Hate crimes have a very dangerous social dynamic. Threats such as "The only church that enlightens is one that burns" on churches are unfortunately no longer a rarity. In some countries like France, there are also more and more arsons against churches. "Harmless" scribblings can incite and normalise concrete and massive violent crimes. In Scotland, the problem is so great that the church is now receiving financial support, from a hate crime fund, to improve its security measures. Hate crimes in general and their legitimisation on a political and social level are also part of genocide research for a good reason. This is of course the last extreme, but we should not ignore the "small" signs that can lead to violent crimes and even homicide. 
  • Christian MP David Amess was stabbed to death while attending his regular duties in his local constituency in a Methodist Church in Essex on 15. October.
  • The perpetrator was a 25 years-old British citizen of Somali descent,  Ali Harbi Ali. He was arrested and identified as a radicalized Islamist.
  • An Anti-terrorism unit is investigating the case.
  • During Vienna's "March for Life", participants faced aggressive opposition and insults from activists who disrupted the march with blockades.
  • This was organized with polarizing language by other organizations, including the ÖH (the statutory representation of students in Austria), Antifa, among others.
  • Their "March for Ass", displayed anti-Christian slogans like "If Mary had aborted, we would have been spared of you".
Hate Crimes in form of Vandalism
There are many reasons why churches, Christian buildings, organisation, or publics symbol are vandalised. We can identify several groups of perpetrators. For example, some attacks are from private people who simply dislike the Catholic church; there are also explicitly anti-religious groups; sometimes Satanists vandalise churches and steal consecrated objects, like hosts; there is also far-left extremist groups like antifa, extreme LGBTQ+ and extreme feminist groups, who all have more or less moral and political motives; and we also have attacks perpetrated by Islamic fundamentalists, who are against the teachings of Christianity and Christ as the Son of God.
  • On 19. October, A 23-year-old man vandalized the church Nepomuk-Kirche in Vienna by damaging the furniture in the church and throwing things to the ground.
  • The young man from Bangladesh was arrested shortly after witnesses saw him and raised the alarm by calling the police at around 8:30 pm.
  • The man told the police that the church would belong to him.
  • On 28. October, the police received a report of damage to property in the evangelical Frauenberg church in Nordhausen, Germany.
  • A 25-year-old Afghan refugee claimed he vandalised the church and broke the cross because of "religious reasons". The police have filed a complaint of damage to property.
  • The amount of damage is not yet known, but the damaged Crucifix is of high historical value to the community.
  • A 31-year-old man was arrested after he filmed himself, while sawing off a cross in Zastalowski in Zielona Góra. The perpetrator posted the video of this vandalic act on the Internet.
  • The police investigated the case and finally found and arrested the perpetrator.
  • The local authorities have expressed their concern and surprise regarding this violent act.
  • A 38-year-old man was arrested while setting fire to the small chapel of St. Anna in Jasienica in Myślenice on 8. November.
  • The police managed to arrive on the scene in time to arrest the man. The fire was brought under control. 
  • The perpetrator said he committed this act due to his beliefs and that his aim was to destroy the chapel completely. He is now awaiting sentencing, which could be up to ten years in prison.
Food for Thought
In this section we want to stipulate new debates and critically enlighten older ones. The provided links do not always directly deal with the topic of intolerance and discrimination against Christians in Europe but we selected them because they are meant to promote a broader and deeper understanding and discussion of the phenomenon we are experiencing. They are intended to reflect about the issue from different perspectives and possibly let concepts travel so that new fruits of thought can grow.

"Psychiatry Needs to Get Right with God"

by David H. Rosmarin (2021)

In the early days of the pandemic, economist Jeanet Bentzen of the University of Copenhagen examined Google searches for the word “prayer” in 95 countries. She identified that they hit an all-time global high in March 2020, and increases occurred in lockstep with the number of COVID-19 cases identified in each country. Stateside, according to the Pew Research Center, 55 percent of Americans prayed to end the spread of the novel coronavirus in March 2020, and nearly one quarter reported that their faith increased the following month, despite limited access to houses of worship.


When Conscience Is Attacked, the Ground Beneath Us Shakes

by Brian Bird (2021)

"Moral and ethical reflection, making normative sense of the world and striving to live accordingly, is an essential part of being human. Public leaders need to better grasp the role that conscience rights play in a free and democratic society. If they do not, freedom of conscience and the kind of society we cherish will eventually disappear."


Encyclical Letter "Fratelli Tutti" of the Holy Father Francis on Fraternity and Social Friendship

by Pope Francis (2021)

"In its recent Encyclical Letter "Fratelli Tutti", Pope Francis stressed that "The way many platforms work often ends up favoring encounter between persons who think alike, shielding them from debate. These closed circuits facilitate the spread of fake news and false information, fomenting prejudice and hate” (§45). He went on to add that "As religious leaders, we are called to be true ‘people of dialogue’, to cooperate in building peace not as intermediaries but as authentic mediators...Each one of us is called to be an artisan of peace, by uniting and not dividing, by extinguishing hatred and not holding on to it, by opening paths of dialogue and  not by constructing new walls (§284)." (COMECE 2021)"


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