The Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians in Europe recently reported 191 hate crimes against Christians in 16 European countries to the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) for inclusion in its 2016 hate crimes report.
Every year on November 16th, International Tolerance Day, the OSCE releases its annual hate crimes report. The report provides an overview of data collected on hate crimes, and of responses by governments and civil society in the 57 OSCE participating States for the previous year.
The OSCE defines a hate crime as “a criminal act committed with a bias motivation.” Hate crimes can involve threats, property damage, assault, murder, or other criminal offenses. According to the OSCE, “bias motivations” may be discerned from the context of the incident by looking at time, place and location of the offence, whether the victim or witness perceives that it was motivated by bias, and “cultural differences” — a history of animosity between the victim’s group and the suspect’s group. In cases of attacks against property, the significance of a particular structure or location can be an indicator.
Of the hate incidents reported by the Observatory, the majority were acts of vandalism or destruction at places of worship. As in 2015, there continued to be abuse and harassment of Christians in some refugee accommodations. Christmas displays, Christian schools and cemeteries were also frequent targets of hate incidents.
Egregious cases like the murder of Father Jacques Hamel, 84, who died after his throat was slit during an attack on the church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray by two armed men, make international headlines. But when this extreme level of violence is not reached, mass media generally look the other way, because it does not fit the assumption of Christianity being the predominant culture in Europe and therefore not being in need of protection, or indeed the narrative (put forward especially by aggressive “Humanists” or “Secularists”) of everyone else being in need of protection from Christianity. The Observatory’s Report reveals that violence and hatred against Christians is very frequent in Europe. There is no downplaying it: practising Christians, their symbols, their cultural expressions and their places of worship are in fact the primary target of “hate crime”, unless that term is carefully circumscribed so as to deliberately exclude anti-Christian violence.
It should also not be overlooked that anti-Christian bias, and even hatred, is backed up by powerful and influential political groups in nearly all parliamentary bodies. Christianity-haters are notoriously active among Socialist (S&D), Extreme-Left (NGL/GUE), Greens, and Liberals (ALDE), but some are also found in other Groups. In the European Parliament, one of the most active, and most intolerant figures in this regard is Dutch MEP Sophie In ‘t Veld, who has set up a special working group to fight against the influence of Christianity in the public square – the European Parliament Platform for Secularism in Politics (EPPSP).
On a national level, similar political back-up to anti-Christian bigotry is provided usually by left-wing politicians. Typical this takes the form of “promoting neutrality” – which is code for the elimination of Christian symbols and expression. Just this week, Ex-Communists and Greens in Berlin launched a joint campaign to make sure that no cross will be placed atop the dome of the newly-reconstructed “Stadtschloss” (the residence of the Prussian Kings and – between 1871 and 1918 – the German Kaiser, which was lightly damaged in WWII and then demolished by the Communist Government of the German “Democratic” Republic). Even the usually “liberal” German media are marvelling at the level of ignorance, lack of historic awareness, and bigotry.