Religiously motivated hate crimes against Christians in Europe jumped by 44 percent in just one year, reveals a sobering report by a prominent Christian persecution monitoring group.
On Thursday, the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians in Europe (OIDAC Europe) released its Annual Report 2022/23, which documents a sharp rise in violent incidents and social hostility against Christians, as well as in vandalism and arson attacks on churches.
The report also underscores legal developments in several European countries that infringe upon the religious freedom of Christians, including “hate speech” legislation, under which some Christians have been prosecuted for voicing mainstream Christian beliefs in public.
It also notes the elimination of conscience clauses and legislation needed to guarantee parents’ right to educate their children in conformity with their beliefs.
In 2022, OIDAC Europe documented 748 anti-Christian hate crimes in 30 different countries, ranging from arson attacks, graffiti, desecrations, and thefts to physical attacks, insults, and threats. This figure is evidently low, OIDAC observes, because of the notorious underreporting of such crimes.
From 2021 and 2022, anti-Christian hate crimes increased by 44 percent, from 519 to 748, including arson attacks, which rose from 60 to 105.
There has also been an increasing trend in hate crimes perpetrated by radicalized members of ideological, political, or religious groups that follow an anti-Christian narrative, the report finds.
The report notes that anti-Christian hate crimes have been steadily increasing over the past 10 years. While most documented hate crimes against Christians are cases of vandalism, increased vandalism often leads to increased cases of physical assaults, the report observes.
Among the anti-Christian hate crimes documented in 2022 were 38 crimes of physical assault, including the violent murders of three Christians.
There has also been a rise in attacks around Christian festivities, such as Easter and Christmas.
Attacks are also more likely “when the visibility of Christians is higher, such as during processions, public celebrations, and events with public decorations and symbols,” the report notes.
Worrisome violations of Christians’ right to freedom of speech have included the establishment of “buffer zones” around abortion clinics, which have led to the criminalization of Christians for praying silently on the street.
The rights of Christian parents in the education of their children have also suffered through vaguely formulated and overreaching legislation that would criminalize parents for expressing dissenting opinions regarding gender-related discussions or for discouraging their children from undergoing “hormone therapies” for gender dysphoria.
According to data presented in the report, the three countries with the highest number of anti-Christian hate crimes were Germany (231 cases), Italy (146 cases), and France (106 cases).
One of the main sources of anti-Christian aggression are radicalized members of extreme political groups, with a majority of cases coming from far-left political groups, such as Antifa, radical feminists, or LGBTIQ groups, the report finds.
At the same time, OIDAC has also documented anti-Christian attacks by radical individuals from far-right groups, satanist groups, and radical Islamist groups.