There’s been about a 285% increase in the number of “anti-Christian incidents” reported in France over the last decade-plus, according to the head of the Vienna-based Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe.
As six French churches have caught fire in the last year and a half, including the major Cathedral in Nantes last week, government data indicates a stark increase in the number of alleged attacks and acts of vandalism committed against houses of worship since 2008.
“The French government reported 275, what they call, anti-Christian acts [in 2008],” OIDACE Executive Director Ellen Fantini told The Christian Post Monday. “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.”
“If we look at 2018 and 2019, the numbers are little over 1,000 [per year]. So the increase from 275 to a little over 1,000 works out to 285% increase.”
According to France’s Interior Ministry, there were 1,052 recorded anti-Christian incidents committed in 2019, which mostly consist of attacks on religious property. The 2019 incidents are broken down into 996 “acts” and 56 “threats.”
“What is shocking about that actually is how low the government’s numbers are,” the director of the only observatory that covers Christian freedom of conscious issues across all of Europe said.
In addition to the government’s published data on anti-Christian actions, Fantini said that the French government also submits data about hate crimes committed with a bias against Christians to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
However, the government’s data on hate crimes against Christians don’t seem to match the figures the government provides on anti-Christian incidents.
“Those numbers, the most recent figures for hate crimes, were nearly 2,000 in 2018,” she explained. “So when people react with shock when we say that this works out to about three a day, we are taking conservative numbers. When we take even the government’s own numbers of hate crimes against Christians, it works out to more than five a day.”
“It is not clear why those [two sets of] numbers don’t match up. The French government has not been transparent about why those numbers don’t match up. What we can safely say is that the French government reports both of these numbers. It would suggest that the lower figure must be the absolute minimum and the figure given to OSCE is likely accurate, though I suspect even that number is lower than the real figures.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith