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Christians in Europe increasingly fall victim to religiously motivated hate crimes – OSCE report

Published: 28.11.2019

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The increasingly frequent reports of religious insults and attacks on Christians, churches and clergy indicate that the number of religiously motivated hate crimes is on the rise, both in Poland and the rest of Europe. The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe published its annual hate crime report, which also included crimes against Christians reported by the Ordo Iuris Institute. Nearly 600 crimes of this type were registered in 2018 in the countries studied.

The report shows that the number of criminal offences against Christians in 2018 increased by nearly 20% compared to 2017. 485 such cases were reported in 2017, and 592 in 2018. An overwhelming majority of these – 447 incidents – involved vandalism, damage to property and places of religious worship. In addition, 100 incidents of physical violence and 37 cases of unlawful threats were registered. 39 such incidents took place in Poland. Hate crimes against Christians in Poland were reported by the Ordo Iuris Institute (26 reports accepted by the Police), as well as the Vatican (2 accepted reports), the Austrian Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians (8 accepted reports) and the Jehovah’s Witness community (3 accepted reports).

The Ordo Iuris Institute has participated in the process of identifying hate crimes for the fifth time now, reporting incidents involving religious hatred targeting Christians in Poland. The Centre for Religious Freedom, which was established for this purpose in 2019, has collected the largest amount of data on anti-Christian and anti-Catholic incidents which occurred in Poland to date.

The annual OSCE report is based on data collected in EU member states, provided independently by particular countries and inclusive of police statistics, as well as data collected by social organisations and natural persons. 41 countries participated in the reporting process in 2018, with 25 countries providing their official police statistics and 178 NGOs reporting individual incidents.

The incidents reported involved actions considered criminal offences in a given country which were motivated by hatred or prejudice towards a particular trait of the victim. The Ordo Iuris Institute identifies and reports religiously motivated hate crimes targeting Christians in Poland every year. Similar criminal offences against Christians were reported by 10 other countries, including France, Germany, Ireland, Great Britain and Ukraine. In general, crimes against Christians occurred in as many as 30 countries, including Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania and Italy.

“Unfortunately, as indicated by recent reports, the number of religiously motivated hate crimes is increasing, both in Poland and the rest of Europe. The only way to reverse this worrying trend is to react to violations and call upon law enforcement agencies to effectively protect religious freedom. A sense of impunity is the greatest ally of all criminals”, says Karina Walinowicz, Director of the Ordo Iuris Centre for Religious Freedom.

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