A study published earlier this year reveals about 3,000 attacks on churches, schools and Christian symbols in Europe over the past year.
According to research conducted by the Gatestone Institute , the study center and international policy council, these attacks were particularly significant in France and Germany, but were also “common” in countries such as Belgium, Britain, Denmark, Ireland, Italy and Spain.
Among the acts of violence recorded against Christian spaces in the old continent are arson, desecration of places of worship, looting, theft and vandalism.
To conduct this study, the Gatestone Institute has analyzed numerous news and reports published in the European Press over the past year, as well as police records and social media posts.
As a result of this work, it is found that “approximately 3,000 Christian churches, schools, cemeteries and monuments were vandalized, burned, looted or disfigured in Europe during 2019 – more than five a day, a record year for anti-Christian hostility on the continent.” .
These data confirm a trend that has been registered over recent times and has been evaluated by several entities. One of them, the Observatory of Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians, reported in June last year that within just 60 days, between the beginning of April and the beginning of June, there were 30 church incidents in Germany alone. These incidents, robberies, thefts and intentional fires, translated, according to the Observatory, “lack of respect” for places of worship in that country.
Like Germany, France emerges as one of the countries where there have been more incidents against Christian churches and symbols. In April 2019, ACN reported that there were reports from the security services showing an increase in the number of attacks over the last three years.
From 2016 to 2018, according to a report by the Central Service and Criminal Intelligence, quoted by Le Figaro newspaper, “there were thousands of cases of vandalism in the churches,” with 1063 occurrences recorded in one of the years, giving an average of almost three cases a day.
This data was released after twelve French churches were looted, desecrated and targeted for vandalism in just seven days during the second week of March 2019, as ACN then revealed. One of these churches, Saint Sulpice , was burned down shortly after the midday Eucharistic celebration.
However, as early as November 2019, the Observatory of Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians published a report on 2018 documenting “an increase in the number of churches, Christian symbols and cemeteries across Europe being vandalized, desecrated and burned. compared to previous years. ”
Released on 16 November, International Day of Tolerance, a date established by the United Nations, this Report points to several signs of intolerance towards the Christian community in Europe and extending beyond attacks or incidents on churches.
According to Ellen Fantini, executive director of the Observatory, “Christians are ‘pressured’ in many different ways in Europe: from interference with freedoms of conscience, expression and association, to denial of access to justice and legal services.”
And points out several situations in which this is true. “The rights of Christian parents to raise their children in accordance with their faith are violated…. Christian religious symbols are removed from the public square, Christians are subjected to negative stereotypes in the media, and Christian groups are excluded from university campuses. ”