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EUROPE: Europe’s growing anti-Christian intolerance problem

Europe’s growing anti-Christian intolerance problem

By Dr Angelo Bottone

 

IONA Institute (05/04/2022)- https://bit.ly/3KxG8Q4 – Violence against Christians in Europe is both unrecognised and underestimated, says a major new report. Secular intolerance and Islamist physical violence are two main threats to religious freedom, but they often downplayed by media.

The Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians in Europe (OIDAC) looks at five European countries where the rights of Christians are under most pressure, namely France, Germany, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

The Vienna-based organisation found that in 2019-20 anti-Christian incidents, including murder, have increased in frequency. In France, three Christians were killed by Islamists and many more were injured in 2019-20.

According to the report, the strongest secular trend threatening the exercise of religious freedom aims at marginalising Christians from the public sphere. Even in countries that have a reputation for being tolerant, such as Sweden, Christians are practically excluded from some professions because of the lack of the right to conscientious objection. Doctors and nurses, for instance, are forced to participate to abortion.

All five countries covered by the report were found to have problems with the protection of freedom of speech. Self-censorship is becoming more frequent in the public square, because of the fear of negative consequences.  This problem is exacerbated by sensationalist and religious-illiterate media that distort or misrepresent the history and the views of Christians, who are frequently mocked or disproportionally criticised.

The United Kingdom is the country with the most cases of legal prosecutions for “hate speech”. Workers have been sanctioned or dismissed for defending the traditional Christian teaching on marriage or on sexuality. Even Biblical quotes have been seen as hateful on social media and reported to the police. (We saw a particularly drastic case of this in Finland recently. Fortunately, the accused person, a former Government Minister, was acquitted.)

The introduction of “censorship zones” around abortion clinics by some local authorities in the UK and Spain has also limited the possibility of prayer and offering help. The same is now set to happen in Northern Ireland, and it appears to be on the cards in the South as well.

Parental rights in education have been limited, particularly in the area of teaching sex education. Students are refused the possibility of opting out of classes that contravene their religious and moral convictions. This is in contrast to the approach towards religious education, where opt-outs are strongly protected, and rightly so. In France, students and teachers are prevented any public display of religious sentiments or symbols but in all countries Christians feel they cannot freely express their views without negative consequences.

The persecution of former Muslims was a main concern in France and Germany. Those who convert to Christianity face hostility by their families and communities of origin, in the form of rejection, threats, physical violence. This happens in hotspot areas, particularly in neighbourhoods under the influence of radical Islam.

Even in areas where Christians are a majority, more and more frequently churches are been attacked, sometimes burned, and celebrations are been interrupted. Vandalism against religious building is also common.

Unlike other parts of the world, intolerance against Christian is a new phenomenon in Western Europe and no proper substantial research has been conducted so far.

The report formulates a number of recommendations to the governments but also to the human rights institutions and to members of society. Firstly, discrimination against Christian should be recognised and properly monitored. Legislation should not limit the rights of Christians, particularly in the public square. Converts should be protected. Negative stereotyping should be avoided and the public representation of the history and beliefs of Christians should be more balanced and truthful, also through the promotion of religious literacy.

Photo :Source IONA Institute

Further reading about FORB in Europe on HRWF website





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EUROPE: Anti-Christian hate crimes in Europe rose 70% between 2019 and 2020

Anti-Christian hate crimes in Europe rose 70% between 2019 and 2020, watchdog reports

By Anugrah Kumar

 

The Christian Post (11.12.2021) – https://bit.ly/3IDUKN0 – A new study from a Vienna-based watchdog organization suggests that anti-Christian hate crimes in Europe have increased by 70% between 2019 and 2020 amid rising concern about declining religious freedom across the continent.

 

A new report this month from the Observatory on Intolerance Against Christians in Europe (OIDAC) focuses on how declining religious freedom, freedom of conscience and parental rights have impacted the liberties of European Christians.

 

The document identifies “increasing intolerance and discrimination” against Christians from governments through legislation and political discourse. It also identifies intolerance from individuals through “social exclusion and criminal acts.”

 

OIDAC notes that the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe published its annual hate crimes report in November, stating there were 981 anti-Christian hate crimes in Europe for 2020 compared to 578 in 2019.

 

“This meant an increase of 70% in anti-Christian hate crime since last year,” the OIDAC report states.

 

“Our numbers speak louder than our words. This is one of the reasons OIDAC was founded over ten years ago, because there was no other organisation reporting and raising awareness on this phenomenon in Europe.”

 

The study compiled over two years focuses on situations for Christians in five countries — France, Germany, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom — amid rising “secular intolerance” and “Islamic oppression.”

 

“These countries were selected because, according to our observations, Christians face the most difficulties in them,” the report explains. “The findings of the report are based on a variety of data we collected. The majority of our data is based on descriptive cases, an extensive questionnaire and in-depth interviews with experts and afflicted Christians.”

 

While hate crimes have a higher frequency in France and Germany, they tend to be more severe in Spain and France, the organization finds.

 

“The number of anti-Christian hate crimes in Germany is surprisingly high but not as severe as in other countries in this report,” the report reads.

 

“The observed cases of violence in Germany are mainly perpetrated against Protestant and Catholic churches and Christian buildings. These include vandalism, looting, graffiti, and damage of property with a high and slightly increasing frequency in the last years. There have also been more severe cases that show a clear bias like physical assaults on priests, arson attacks and decapitated statues. OIDAC has documented 255 violent attacks against Christians or Christian sites between 2019 and 2020.”

 

In terms of legal prosecution for alleged “hate speech,” the U.K. has the highest number of cases. But the other countries have high rates of self-censorship, says the report.

 

The right to conscientious objection has been under threat in Sweden, France and Spain.

“The absence of the conscience clause in Sweden is already affecting Christian professionals, and intentions to alter this clause in France and Spain could lead to a complete exclusion of Christians in certain professions,” OIDAC warns.

 

In the education sector, the organization warns that “Christian university students perceive that they cannot debate certain topics freely or express their opinions without judgment or negative consequences, which leads to the crippling effects of self-censorship.” The document also contends that various new sex and relationship education regulations are violating parental rights.

 

In France and Spain, most of the attacks were on Catholics. And in Germany and the U.K., both Catholic and non-Catholic Christians have been targeted.

 

OIDAC recorded 175 incidents against religious freedom in Spain during 2019, and 140 (80%) were targeted at Catholics. In 2020, 51 violent incidents against Christians were recorded compared to 30 cases in 2019.

 

The watchdog says “secular intolerance” and “Islamic oppression” are two of the primary threatening dynamics impacting the lives of Christians in Europe in four main areas of life: church, education, politics and the workplace.

 

“We found that the area of church life is the most visibly affected due to an increasing number of hate crimes in most countries, but education, the workplace and politics are following shortly after,” the report states.

 

“[W]hile secular intolerance is the driving dynamic in most of the cases and areas of life we observed, Islamic oppression mainly occurs in concentrated hotspot areas, in which Christian converts are the group that is mostly affected along with other residential Christians.”

 

The report argues that the opposition against conservative Christian moral views leads to secular intolerance.

 

“This polarization also appears to be promoted by sensationalist and religious-illiterate media that stigmatizes and marginalizes religious voices in the public debate,” the report adds.

 

Christian converts with a Muslim background are “very vulnerable,” the group says. “Our data indicates that many of them face intolerance and violence from their social environment, and the danger they face is often ignored by state authorities.”

 

The report also contends that churches had their religious freedom denied and faced discrimination in Europe due to gathering restrictions related to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“This happened either by the unjustified and disproportionate use of power by public officials (Spain) or through unproportionate blanket bans on public worship, downgrading it to a non-essential service,” OIDAC details.

 

Last July, the watchdog found that there had been about a 285% increase in the number of “anti-Christian incidents” reported in France over the previous decade-plus.

 

“The French government reported 275, what they call, anti-Christian acts [in 2008],” the group’s Executive Director Ellen Fantini told The Christian Post at the time. “So that is anything from targeting a church in some way with vandalism or a public Christian statue, it could be a Christian cemetery or it could be actual assaults against French Christians with an anti-Christian bias.”

 

Photo : Catholic church bishops and faithful gather during a ceremony at the sanctuary of Lourdes, France, on Nov. 6, 2021. | AFP via Getty Images/Valentine Chapuis

Further reading about FORB in Europe on HRWF website





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EUROPE: 980 hate crimes against Christians reported in Europe in 2020

980 hate crimes against Christians reported in Europe in 2020

An OSCE report shows that graffiti, vandalism and arson attacks against churches are some of the more common crimes. There are 70% more cases reported than in 2019.

Evangelical Focus (18.11.2021) – https://bit.ly/30Nn92j – The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has launched its Hate Crime Data 2020 on 16 November, the International Day for Tolerance.

The ODIHR collects data from states, governments statistics, civil society, international organisations and UNHCR and OSCE missions.

The organization’s hate crime database is the “largest of its kind worldwide. It is updated each year and it also includes data on hate crime legislation, prosecution and sentencing, as well as best practices and resources and tools to support victims”.

 

What is hate crime?

 

According to ODIHR, “hate crimes are criminal acts motivated by bias or prejudice towards particular groups of people. They comprise two elements: a criminal offence and a bias motivation”.

“A hate crime has taken place when a perpetrator has intentionally targeted an individual or property because of one or more identity traits or expressed hostility towards these identity traits during the crime”, they add.

The report looked at different categories of hate crimes: Racist and xenophobic hate crime, Anti-Roma hate crime, Anti-Semitic hate crime, Anti-Muslim hate crime, Anti-Christian hate crime, Other hate crime based on religion or belief, Gender-based hate crime, Anti-LGBTI hate crime, Disability hate crime.

 

Hate crime against Christians

The European body explains that the hate crime against Christians “are influenced by a number of factors, including the minority or majority status in a given territory, the level of recognition of particular religious groups in a given country, or political and media focus on these groups at a particular moment”.

“ODIHR’s hate crime reporting includes reports of physical assaults and murders. Graffiti and vandalism against places of worship, the desecration of cemeteries and arson attacks against churches are some of the more common types of crimes motivated by bias against Christians”, underlines the report.

For example, in France, the arsons against churches has significantly increase, and in Scotland, the problem is so great that the church is now receiving financial support, from a hate crime fund, to improve its security measures.

In addition to the data, since 2004, “OSCE Ministerial Council decisions and declarations have included specific commitments on and references to the importance of combating prejudice, intolerance and discrimination against Christians”, says the ODIHR.

 

980 crimes in 2020

In 2020, the ODIHR received a total of 7,181 cases of hate crimes against different kinds of groups and individuals. 4,008 of them were descriptive cases and the rest were police data from individual member states.

Of those 4,008 descriptive cases, 980 are hate crimes against Christians, almost 25%, more than against any other religious group. There has been an increase of almost 70% comparing the numbers of incidents from last year to the number of this year.

 

However, a group monitoring religious freedom in the continent, the Observatory of Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians in Europe (OIDAC), stresses that “only 11 countries report data on hate crimes against Christians [..], and of the 136 civil society organisations that provided descriptive data, only 8 organisations consistently reported incidents against Christians,so that this obviously distorts the statistics significantly”.

 

“Both of these findings put the reality of the situation into a different perspective, which indicates that the actual number of hate crimes against Christians is probably way higher”, they add.

 

Photo: Krisztian Matyas, Unsplash, CC0

Further reading about FORB in EU on HRWF website





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EUROPE: The anti-cult ideology and FECRIS: A White Paper

The anti-cult ideology and FECRIS: Dangers for religious freedom. A White Paper

Six scholars look at the European anti-cult federation, and conclude it is seriously dangerous for religious liberty

By Luigi Berzano (University of Torino, Italy), Boris Falikov (Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow, Russia), Willy Fautré (Human Rights Without Frontiers, Brussels, Belgium), Liudmyla Filipovich (Department of Religious Studies, Institute of Philosophy of the National Academy of Sciences, Kiev, Ukraine), Massimo Introvigne (Center for Studies on New Religions, Torino, Italy), and Bernadette Rigal-Cellard (University Bordeaux-Montaigne, Bordeaux, France)

Bitter Winter (23.08.2021) – https://bit.ly/3sLauGv – In 2020, the USCIRF (United States Commission on International Religious Freedom), a bipartisan commission of the U.S. federal government, identified the anti-cult ideology as a major threat to international religious liberty (USCIRF 2020).

The anti-cult ideology, or anti-cultism, is based on the idea that “religions” and “cults” are different. “Cults,” it claims, are not religions, although they may falsely claim to be religious. While religions are joined freely, “victims” join “cults” because of the latter’s coercive practices.

Read the White Paper on Bitter Winter

Table of contents

The anti-cult ideology

The case of FECRIS

  1. FECRIS systematically spread the anti-cult ideology about “cults” and brainwashing, a pseudo-scientific theory

 

  1. FECRIS spread false information

 

  1. FECRIS supports totalitarian regimes

 

  1. FECRIS has been involved in violence

 

  1. FECRIS actively promotes a gatekeeping strategy against the most senior scholars of new religious movements, labeled “cult apologists.”

Photo : Controversial FECRIS Vice President Alexander Dvorkin – commons.wikimedia.org

Further reading about FORB in Europe on HRWF website





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EUROPE: Covid spurring hate speech against LGBTI in Europe

AFP (16.02.2021) – https://bit.ly/2Nkd7yC – Hate speech against LGTBI people in Europe and Central Asia has spiked during the coronavirus pandemic, a group defending their rights said on Tuesday.

 

Verbal attacks on members of lesbian, gay, trans, bisexual and intersex communities by politicians have risen in Al- bania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Moldova, North Macedonia, Poland, Russia, Slovakia and Turkey, the ILGA-Europe federation said in its annual report sur- veying 54 countries.

 

Religious leaders in Belarus, Greece, Slovakia, Turkey and Ukraine are also accused in the report of hate speech, with some of them alleging LGBTI people are behind the spread of Covid-19.

 

The federation, representing 600 associations, also pointed the finger at increased hate speech in online media in Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Malta, Montenegro, Russia and Turkey — and in mainstream media in some cases, notably in Slovenia and Ukraine.

 

“There has been a resurgence of authorities and officials using LGBT people as scapegoats,” ILGA-Europe’s chief, Evelyne Paradis, said.

 

The targeting was part of an overall “crackdown on democracy and civil society” in many countries, the federation said, pointing to EU members Poland and Hungary among others.

 

It noted Poland’s “LGBT-ideology free zones” set up by several local councils, along with Hungary’s rewriting of its constitution to emphasise traditional binary sexual identification for parents and a law banning same-sex adoption.

 

Photo Credits : Ilga-Europe


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