All cases

Zurich March for Life Disrupted by Violent Counter-Demo

September 14, 2019, Switzerland

The approved rally "March for Life" in Zurich on the afternoon of September 14th was disrupted by an unauthorized counter-demonstration. More than a thousand peaceful participants in the March for Life gathered on the Turbinenplatz to begin the march on an approved route in the city. At the same time, several hundred people -- called by some press reports a Red-Green alliance -- some with prams containing objects to be thrown (including stones and bottles), convened on the Josefswiese to start an unauthorized counter-demonstration parade. As they attempted to stop the counter-demo and prevent a clash with the March for Life, police were attacked with objects, including bottles and stones. Dumpsters were set on fire, a police vehicle was demolished, and firefighters were hindered by the protesters. In response, the police used a water cannon, rubber bullets, and tear gas to deter the protesters. Due to the violence, the police stopped the March for Life temporarily and ultimately shortened the route to prevent an encounter with the counter-demonstrators, some of whom were masked.

Freedom of Association and Assembly Insult or Incitement

Finnish Politician Investigated for Hate Crime for Sharing Bible Verse

August 27, 2019, Finland

The Helsinki Police Department announced it had opened pre-trial investigations into Päivi Räsänen, a Christian Democrat MP, for her criticism of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland's (ELCF) participation in the Helsinki LGBT Pride events in June. She posted a photograph of Romans 1:24-26 from the New Testament on Facebook and wrote "How does the foundation of the church’s teachings, the Bible, fit with elevating sin and shame as reasons for pride?"

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression Freedom of Religion

Youth 'defecates in Spanish church, smears feces on statue, walls'

August 21, 2019, Spain

Police announced on August 21st that an 18-year-old man would be charged with defecating in a shrine to the Virgin Mary and then smearing his feces on a statue of Christ and on the walls of the church, Spanish news agencies report. The incident, caught on CCTV, took place on July 26 at the Santuario de la Virgen de la Fuensanta in the Jaén provincial town of Villanueva del Arzobispo.

Desecration Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Theft and Desecration at Oise Parish

August 9, 2019, France

The church of Saint-Éloi (parish of the Bienheureuses-Carmélites-de-Compiègne), diocese of Compiegne, Oise) was robbed, vandalized, and desecrated between the 3rd and 9th of August. Sound equipment, a ciborium, an aspergillum (a liturgical implement used to sprinkle holy water), holy water font, and other liturgical objects were stolen. The burglars forced open the tabernacle to steal the ciborium and stole consecrated hosts, as well. "The most essential thing for us is that the tabernacle was forced, and that the Blessed Sacrament, the presence of Christ was touched, stolen. Which is for us a desecration. The real presence of Christ has been stolen. It's something strong," said the communications director of the Oise diocese.

Desecration Hate Crime Theft Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Liverpool Church Vandalized

August 4, 2019, United Kingdom

Six windows were smashed and mysterious graffiti reading "BEAST" was written on the wall of St. Oswald's Roman Catholic Presbytery in Old Swan (Liverpool). Police began an investigation.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Repeated Vandalism at Longford Church; Bishop Calls it "Profoundly Disrespectful"

August 2, 2019, Ireland

Irish police Gardaí investigated an attempted burglary at the Catholic St. Michael's Church in Shroid, Longford Co. after a passerby reported broken windows to the parish house. Unknown perpetrators smashed a few plain glass windows and a stained glass window depicting the Sacred Heart which was over the altar of the church between July 28th and August 2nd.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

German Pastor Says Asylum for Christian Converts Has Become a Pure Gamble"

August 2, 2019, Germany

Protestant pastor Dr. Gottfried Martens, who ministers to over 1,600 people in his church, most of them converts and asylum seekers from Iran and Afghanistan, has said that whether someone is granted asylum or not is almost like a "pure gamble." The problem Martens sees in the administrative courts is how judges "verify" the earnestness of an asylum seeker's conversion to Christianity. Some trust a pastor's statement whether written or oral in court, while some ignore it and only focus on the short time they spend with the refugee in court. This fully depends on what kind of judge one gets appointed to, according to Martens, and there is no way to prepare well enough for a court date if there is no general regulation that a minister's statement be taken into account.

Access to Justice and Legal Services Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Religion

Italian Church Vandalized with Excrement

August 1, 2019, Italy

During the early morning hours of August 1st, unknown perpetrators vandalized the church of Sant'Antonio in Crebbio, Abbadia Lariana. They smeared excrement on the front door, staircase, lawn, and the cobblestones outside the church. Volunteers immediately began cleaning the heavily soiled area and found a yellow bowl with some dung residue. The parish priest of Abbadia and the community expressed deep shock and outrage. Police opened an investigation.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Thief Targeted Offertory Box

July 30, 2019, Germany

An unidentified person pried open the offertory box for candles on July 30th in the St. Pancratius Catholic Church in Körbecke, Möhnesee.

Theft

NHS Trust Agreed to Christian Sunday Services after Threat of Legal Action

July 30, 2019, United Kingdom

A Christian patient’s request to have Sunday worship services at a medium secure mental health unit in East London have finally been granted after a year-long legal battle with the NHS on the grounds of religious discrimination. As a result of his weekly requests falling on deaf ears, Freddie O'Neil turned to the Christian Legal Centre (CLC) for support. A pre-action letter was then sent to the East London Foundation Trust in October 2018 stating that, as a Christian, Freddie needed to attend Sunday Christian services each week as well as receiving Holy Communion. After a year, and further threats of legal action, the Centre finally began offering weekly Sunday Christian services on Sunday 7 July 2019.

Freedom of Religion

Several Swastikas Painted on Oratory in Ireland

July 30, 2019, Ireland

Several swastikas were spray-painted on the oratory and a cross in the Comeragh mountains overlooking Clonmel by unknown vandals sometime before July 30th. A team of volunteers of the Holy Year Cross Committee in Clonmel had come up to the site to prepare it for the annual August bank holiday Monday mass when they discovered the graffiti. Gardaí investigated the incident.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Atheist Parents Launch Legal Challenge against Christian Assemblies in Church-Run School

July 29, 2019, United Kingdom

An atheist couple launched a high court challenge because they feel their children are being religiously "indoctrinated" during assemblies at the Burford primary school in the Cotswolds in Oxfordshire, one of 33 schools of the Church of England's Oxford Diocesan Schools Trust (ODST). Parents are entitled to withdraw their children from assemblies such as these, even in church-run schools, which is what the couple did. However, they argue that the school must provide an "inclusive assembly as a meaningful alternative for pupils withdrawn from Christian worship," rather than simply supervision of the children.

Arson at St. Magnus Church at Schussenried Abbey

July 29, 2019, Germany

An unknown arsonist set fire to a cloth in the St. Magnus church of the Schussenried Abbey in Bad Schussenried on July 29th. The fire then extended to pictures and a wooden cross nearby. A witness noticed the fire and was able to extinguish it. Police are investigating.

Hate Crime Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Church Hymnals Set On Fire

July 27, 2019, Germany

Unknown perpetrators set a row of hymnals on a shelf on fire in the St. Mauritius Catholic Church in Kippenheim in the early evening of July 27th. Witnesses noticed the fire and notified the police who were able to extinguish the fire and are now investigating.

Four Stations in Way of the Cross in Fatima Vandalized

July 26, 2019, Portugal

Four of the 14 chapels of the Valinhos Way of the Cross or the Shepherd's Way in Fatima were vandalized with yellow spray paint during the night between July 25th and 26th. The unknown perpetrators sprayed the heads and intimate areas of the figures, along with obscene words. The Shrine of Fatima covered the chapels and will carry out the extensive cleaning work required to remove the paint.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Judge Opens Proceedings Against "Pederoclastia" Installation

July 25, 2019, Spain

The Spanish Association of Christian Lawyers has sought a court order to shut down an artist’s installation entitled "Pederoclastia" that contains "ornaments used in Catholic worship" and "figures of children in explicitly sexual postures." The Association also said on July 19 that it would file a criminal complaint against artist Fernando Barredo de Valenzuela (who is also the coordinator for Toledo Laica) for offending religious sentiments and inciting hatred, and may take steps against the Círculo de Arte de Toledo for "attacking the feelings of Catholics." On July 25, Toledo’s Court of First Instance No 2 opened a preliminary investigation into the possibility that the case constituted corruption of minors but had not ordered the exhibition to be shut down.

Insult or Incitement Negative Stereotyping

Two Fires Intentionally Set in Autun Church

July 22, 2019, France

At 4:30 pm on July 22th, a parishioner noticed the smell of smoke emanating from the Notre-Dame church in Autun. When she entered the church, she discovered that two people were already there extinguishing the fire with their feet. The police reportedly found that there were two distinct fires set: one near the altar and the other near prayer chairs. An investigation is under way.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Graffiti on Church in Heiden

July 21, 2019, Germany

Unknown vandals vandalized large areas of St. Paulus Protestant Church's exterior in Heiden between July 21st and 22nd. They targeted a park bench, the church wall, six windows, and the surrounding bricks.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Man Arrested for Defacing more than 80 Graves with "666" in Church Cemetery

July 21, 2019, Denmark

A 46-year-old man was charged with spray-painting the number ‘666’ on 87 tombstones in a church cemetery in North Jutland, Denmark. Staff from the Hadsund Church noticed the damage on Sunday morning, July 21st. After an investigation, the man was arrested on July 24th after witnesses came forward. The man, who had been convicted of similar vandalism of a cemetery in 2016, denied responsibility for this incident.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Arson Suspected in Hyvinkää Old Church

July 19, 2019, Finland

In the early hours of July 19th, a passer-by notified the fire department that the warehouse of the Old Church in Hyvinkää was in flames and the church building itself was also on fire. Due to the results of the preliminary investigation, the chief inspector suspected the fire was set intentionally and opened an arson investigation. The wooden church itself remained mostly intact, however, the storage facility housing gardening tools was completely destroyed by the fire.

Hate Crime Vandalism (form of hate crime)