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)

Church and Chapel Vandalized in Quimper Diocese

July 14, 2019, France

During Sunday Mass on the 14 of July, parishioners learned of vandalism in both the church and chapel of the Saint-Mathieu parish in Pays d'Iroise (diocese of Quimper, Finistère). In the church of Saint-Budoc à Porspoder damage included a vandalized offertory box, cigarettes left in front of the altar of the Blessed Virgin, the door of the sacristy obstructed by the insertion of gravel in the lock, and vomit in the holy water stoups. In the Chapelle Saint-Samson à Landunvez, the most photographed chapel in France, an offertory box was vandalized and a cross thrown in the trash.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Paris: Vandalism in 13th Arrondissement Church

July 11, 2019, France

An unknown person intentionally set off the alarm in the church of Saint-Hippolyte in Paris around 9:30 am on July 11th and once the church was evacuated, took the opportunity to vandalize the payment terminals for church contributions (Denier de l’Église). As a result, the church restricted its opening hours to afternoons in July and August.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Man Arrested with Cans of Gasoline in Cathedral

July 8, 2019, France

A man in his thirties was arrested on July 8th at around 7 pm, after he entered the cathedral of Sées with several cans of gasoline. Witnesses apprehended him and handed him over to the police. According to reports, the man, who suffers from psychological problems, was taken to the psychotherapeutic center of Orne for compulsory hospitalization. However no criminal prosecution will be launched against him. According to the public prosecutor, "there is a total absence of discernment. He is totally irresponsible ... No criminal action may be taken."

Hate Incident

Two Suspicious Fires in Four Days in Bourg-Achard Church

July 2, 2019, France

Between June 26th and June 30th, two fires were discovered in the 13th century église Saint-Lô in Bourg-Achard (Eure). According to the police in charge of the investigation, there is a high probability that these two fires were deliberately set.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Spanish teenager given 6 months for death threat against Indian priest

June 26, 2019, Spain

A juvenile court has sentenced a 16-year-old boy to six months in custody for racial slurs and for threatening to kill the parish priest, a native of India, in the Malaga provincial town of Benajarafe.

Hate Crime

Evangelical Event Attendees Harshly Ridiculed

June 17, 2019, Austria

Many Christians complained about being offended and insulted for their religious faith after verbal attacks by Rudi Fußi on the Austrian talkshow "Fellner! Live: Rudi Fußi vs. Andreas Mölzer" which aired on June 17th on OE24.TV. As a guest on the program, Fußi launched into a tirade calling the estimated 10,000 Christians gathered at an evangelical event “lunatics” and mocking the act of praying for the Republic of Austria and the former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, calling it "completely cuckoo, totally sick" after the show host had introduced the topic.

Defamation Negative Stereotyping

Explosion Near Syrian Orthodox Church in Södertälje

June 14, 2019, Sweden

The national bomb protection agency was called in to investigate an explosion at an events hall at the St. Afrem Syrian Orthodox Church in Södertälje in the early morning hours of June 14th. The blast was reportedly strong enough to be heard 100 meters away. The same building, owned by the church, was the target of an explosion in September.

Hate Crime

Arson in Vienna Church; Tourist Extinguished Fire with Holy Water

June 12, 2019, Austria

A tourist discovered that fires had been set in confessionals in the Dominican church of St. Rotunda during the afternoon of June 12th and extinguished them with holy water. This incident was announced on June 19th, the same day as a series of arson attacks in Graz, including at the city hall, courthouse, district administration building, and the main station. A 45-year-old Iraqi was arrested by police after the fire at the station.

Hate Crime

Reliquary Stolen from Portuguese Church

June 11, 2019, Portugal

On June 11th, unknown thieves targeted the church of the convent of São Domingo in Viana do Castelo (Minho) and stole a gilt metal reliquary containing the bones of Blessed Bartholomew of Braga (Bartolomeu dos Mártires) who was a former Archbishop of Braga and is well known and greatly revered in Portugal. The bishop of Viana do Castelos called the theft an "attack on the feelings" of Catholics. The parish priest of Igreja de São Domingos said the stolen gold-plated reliquary "does not have great commercial value, but what was in it, the bones of Bartolomeu dos Mártires, is of incalculable value."

Theft

Priest Stabbed on the way to Mass: Updated

June 10, 2019, Poland

A Wroclaw priest, Fr. Ireneusz Bakalarczyk was attacked by a a 56-year-old man and stabbed with a knife on his way to the morning Mass on Pentacost Monday. The attacker, identified as Zygmunt W., was arrested and on June 11th he was brought before a court. News reports indicate that the man confessed to the crime and was not under the influence of alcohol at the time of the incident. Prosecutors have not released any details about his motive. A spokesperson from the Archdiocese of Wrocław said there was no indication that Fr. Bakalarczyk was personally targeted, but that the suspect likely intended to attack any "man in a cassock."

Hate Crime

CitizenGo Website Hit with Cyber Attack

June 10, 2019, Spain

The websites of HazteOir (a Christian advocacy group) and its international platform, CitizenGO, were the victims of a cyber attack on Monday, June 10th. The Spanish hackers were explicit about their ideological reasons for the attack, saying: “Are you enjoying the web attack? Delete all your content... related to LGBT. Delete also the sexist content and the content against abortion. If you don’t do it before the weekend, this will be a war and you will regret it.”

Hate Crime

Vandals Destroy Shrine Outside Church on Pentecost

June 9, 2019, Germany

Unidentified vandals targeted the St. Josef Catholic Church in Ebingen, Albstadt during the night of June 9th (Whitsunday to Whitmonday). They damaged the shrine outside the church by smashing the glass pane, tore down flowerpots, and destroyed candles. They also smashed the mirror glass in the bathroom which is accessible from the outside with a rock. Property damage amounts to about 100 euros.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Persistent Vandalism of Church in Dierdorf

June 6, 2019, Germany

The Protestant Church in Dierdorf im Westerwald has been a target for vandalism for nearly two years. Reports beginning in July 2017 indicate that vandals have smashed windows, burned feminine hygiene products stuck to a wall to damage wall plaster, left graffiti on the walls and doors, knocked over park benches, and littered the area around the church every week. Property damage has reached tens of thousands of euros. The congregation is frustrated and horrified.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Statue of Parisian School's Patron Saint Smashed

June 4, 2019, France

On June 4th, the statue of Archangel Saint-Michel was found smashed into pieces on the grounds of the lycée-collège Saint-Michel de Picpus, a Catholic secondary school in Paris. Unknown vandals also heavily tagged the school's main entrance. The school had installed the statue of its the patron saint outside the school building after a dedication ceremony at the beginning of the school year. On June 4th the statue

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Arson Suspected in Ankum Catholic Church Fire

June 1, 2019, Germany

The fire department in Ankum was called to a smoldering fire in the St. Nikolaus Catholic Church around noon on June 1st. When the team of 33 firefighters in six firetrucks arrived, the Swedish visitors who had initially discovered the two spots of smoldering fire in the church, had already extinguished them out with water. According to police, the church wasn't damaged by the fire and the fire department only had to inspect the site and quickly gave the all-clear. Police suspect arson and began their investigation with the help of the Swedish visitors describing two girls running out of the church just before they themselves entered and the church's surveillance video tapes.

Hate Crime Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Robbery from Esslingen Church

May 31, 2019, Germany

Between May 29th and 31st, several unknown perpetrators broke into the Osterfeld Protestant Church in Berkheim, Esslingen. They entered by climbing the porch roof and, once inside, stole three game consoles and eight controllers from the youth room as well as one digital and one SLR camera from a storage room. The value of the stolen goods was estimated at around 1,000 euros and the property damage amounted to around 2,000 euros.

Theft Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Vandals Burned Bible and Song Book; Left Feces in Church

May 31, 2019, Germany

On May 31st, the Lutheran Nikolaikirche in Caldern was the target of vandals. Sometime between 8:30 am and 1:30 pm, unknown perpetrators entered the church, set fire to the bible and hymn book on the altar, and damaged three large candles. They also broke into a cabinet and a chest, but stole nothing. Finally, they left a pile of feces at the church entrance and another on a bench outside the church. Property damage amounted to approximately 300 euros and it is not yet clear how the perpetrators accessed the church. For the time being, the church will stay closed while investigations are ongoing.

Desecration Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Stained Glass Windows Smashed at La Roë Abbey in Mayenne

May 30, 2019, France

Some time between May 29th and 30th, rocks were thrown at the stained glass windows of the north transept of La Roë Abbey.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Statue Decapitated in front of a Church in Vincennes

May 30, 2019, France

After the morning Mass on May 30th, parishioners discovered that the statue of a little shepherd praying had been decapitated in front of the Notre-Dame church.

Thieves Steal Offertory Donations during Mass in Lourdes

May 30, 2019, France

During the Ascension Mass on May 30th, two thieves aged between 40 and 50 were caught stealing 1,200 euros and 42 pounds sterling from the offertory boxes in the Sanctuary of Lourdes, in the Hautes-Pyrénées. The Spaniards, known to both French and Spanish police, worked in a coordinated manner for several days, with one on the lookout while the other was stealing the donations. The security services in the sanctuary caught them via surveillance video and handed them over to the police who held them in custody. At the end of their hearings by the investigators, they were released until their scheduled appearance before the Tarbes Criminal Court in October.

Theft

Relics of Fatima Saints Stolen During Exhibition on Pilgrimage

May 29, 2019, Italy

Two of the relics of the Fatima child saints as well as copies of a crown and golden rosary of the Fatima Virgin Mary statue were stolen from the Gesu Divino Lavoratore Catholic Church in Verona on May 29th while they were being taken around the country on a pilgrimage tour. Although they were only small pieces of cloth which once belonged to the Portuguese sheperd children Jacinta and Francisco Marto, who were canonized in May 2017 by Pope Francis, they are of great value for devout Catholics. Priest Andrea Ronconi said he was “heartbroken and mortified” by the theft and that it probably happened at noontime. Police are looking for the two suspects with who the priest might even have conversed before he locked the church for lunch break.

Crucifix at Church Vandalized Twice in Two Weeks in Marseille

May 29, 2019, France

A large crucifix with Christ figure in front of the Saint-Patrice church in the Croix-Rouge district of Marseille was vandalized with blue paint on May 29th. According to reports, this is the second such vandalism in 15 days.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Crucifixes Targeted at Cemetery in Montpellier

May 29, 2019, France

During the night of May 29th to 30th, twelve graves were vandalized in the cemetery Celleneuve in Montpellier (Hérault department). The perpetrators appeared to have specifically targeted crucifixes. The police closed the cemetery on the Ascension holiday to conduct an investigation. Titina Dasylva, deputy mayor in charge of security, expressed her outrage about the incident on Twitter.

Desecration Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Crucifix Destroyed in Płońsk

May 28, 2019, Poland

On May 28th, the Catholic Chapel of St. Padre Pio in Płońsk was the target of vandals who desecrated the chapel's crucifix by taking it off the wall and smashing it. According to the parish priest, a parishioner who came to pray in the chapel found the cross on the floor and the ceramic Jesus Christ statue from the cross broken into pieces. Police are investigating.

Desecration Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Two Thefts from Vienna Churches

May 27, 2019, Austria

Witnesses called the police from two different churches in Vienna (Michaelerplatz and Florianigasse) to report thefts from the offertory box in the middle of the day on May 27th. Both suspects were arrested while they were still in and around the church buildings. The police found coins in double-digit total value on each of the perpetrators.

Theft

Budapest Kindergarten Teaches Horoscopes; Won't Allow Discussion of God

May 27, 2019, Hungary

According to a report from the mother of a 5-year-old boy who attends a government-run kindergarten in Budapest, the teacher told her son not to talk about God with other children because there were non-believers in the classroom. However, there have been entire morning programs devoted to learning about astrology/zodiac signs. When the boy's mother complained to the kindergarten director, she was told that the school maintains Christian traditions with the celebration of Christmas and Easter, but that the teacher was correct to stop the discussion of God's existence and to prohibit the children from talking about God.

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas)

Graffiti on Church in Kronach

May 26, 2019, Germany

On a Sunday afternoon, perpetrators tagged a church in Kronach with the tags "RCS" and "RCG" causing damage estimated at about 500 euros. The graffiti was found on the main entrance door and on a message board.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Corpus Christi Procession Parodied during Gdansk Equality March

May 25, 2019, Poland

During the May 25th Tri-City Equality March in Gdansk, which was organized by the LGBT communities, the Catholic tradition of Corpus Christi processions was parodied. A group of people in multicolored costumes with rainbow halos were supposed to imitate the typical attire of a statue of the Virgin Mary. Each of them held on to a ribbon attached to a highly provocative sign depicting a crowned vagina where in Catholic Corpus Christi processions the Blessed Sacrament (a consecrated host) would be. A person dressed in white, imitating a priest, was holding the sign. The city's mayor participated and gave an opening speech at the march, calling it an honor to open the event.

Insult or Incitement

Vandalism of Alpine Church Continues

May 25, 2019, Italy

Vandalism such as graffiti and littering has been a recurring problem at the ancient church of Santa Maria in Colle. (Link below to April incident). On May 25th perpetrators struck again. Graffiti in the form of doodles and insults was found on the church walls and quickly removed. In a response to the persistent vandalism, a local historian appealed to everyone to keep the church clean and sacred by emphasizing the value and importance of the place for the community and accentuating that workers once had given their lives to build this church. However, the vandals were little impressed by his appeal and made the church their target as they returned to cover the freshly whitewashed walls of the church with graffiti again that same night.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Arson at Derry Catholic Church

May 24, 2019, United Kingdom

Police investigated an arson attack on the Holy Family Catholic Church in Ballymagroarty (Northern Ireland). An outbuilding next to the church was set on fire at around 10:30pm on May 24th. 20 firefighters battled the blaze which spread to the church roof and were able to contain it before it spread to the chapel or parochial house. The parochial house was evacuated. The fire service reported that CCTV cameras filmed two people setting the fire.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)