Over 500 anti-Christian hate crimes recorded in Europe last year
Over 500 anti-Christian hate crimes were recorded in Europe last year, according to new research by the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians in Europe (OIDAC).
The report found church grafitti with offensive messages and thefts were amongst the most common crimes recorded.
It also found at least four Christians were murdered and 14 physical assaults, one of which occurred in the UK.
This particular case was that of a priest in Westbury-on-Trym, who said he was attacked by four men in August, after telling a group who were renting his church hall that they had gone past their curfew.
In total there were 519, but the organisation believes the number is in fact higher as there is a "chilling effect" among victims and "lack of media coverage."
France, Germany, Italy, Poland and the UK suffered the highest number of anti-Christian hate crimes.
"France and Germany remain the countries with the highest amount of hate crimes in recent years, followed by Italy, Poland, the UK, and Spain.
"Nevertheless, in the last three years (2019 - 2021) we have slowly begun to recover more cases in other countries, such as Austria, where we documented eight crimes committed in 2019, 21 crimes in 2020 and 15 crimes in 2021. Other countries include Belgium, Slovakia, Slovenia, Greece, and Switzerland," OIDAC said.
The report also found Christians from various denominations were "subject to negative stereotyping and insensitivity by the media and political groups" as well discovering a trend of "self-censorship" by Christians "in response to perceived intolerance towards their beliefs."
"Christian-led organisations were banned from social media platforms for expressing dissenting beliefs, while insult and violent speech against Christians were permitted on the same platforms," the report read.
The issue of "buffer zones" around abortion clinics in the UK, Germany and Spain, has also been raised in the report.
"This criminalizes activities including prayer vigils, conversations with the public, and other forms of peaceful activism," OIDAC said.
Executive director of OIDAC Europe, Madeleine Enzlberger, said: "Our work aims to provide comprehensive answers, so we document both signs of social intolerance as well as problematic legislation at the national or international level. Divisions between Christians and secular groups are often perpetuated and deepened by media and politics.
"Tolerance and respect should be equally applied and guaranteed for all groups of society, therefore we emphasize the importance of religious freedom, not only for Christians all over the world but also for non-believers."