Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

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Report tracks growing trend of anti-Christian incidents in Europe

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

VIENNA, December 9, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A report issued by a Vienna-based human rights watchdog group has tracked five years of anti-Christian incidents across Europe and says that there is a growing recognition at the institutional level of discrimination and intolerance towards believing Christians. 

The report focused on the conclusion of a 2009 meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), that said, “What came out clearly from this meeting is that intolerance and discrimination against Christians is manifested in various forms across the OSCE area.”

Ambassador Janez Lenarcic, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, said, “Meeting participants discussed several aspects of intolerance and discrimination against and among Christians, including violent attacks against persons, property and places of worship, as well as restrictions to the right to freedom of religion or belief. Participants also highlighted inaccurate portrayals of Christian identity and values in the media and political discourse, leading to misunderstandings and prejudice.”

The report by the not-for-profit organization Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians (ODIHR) is a compilation of media reports and publications from a wide range of groups showing systemic and growing intolerance and discrimination against Christians in public life across Europe.

The group says that because there is not yet any national or European reporting mechanism to give clear statistics, it is only possible to record individual cases and “give impressions of the phenomenon revealing to the reader its diverse aspects and far-reaching scope.”

Christians as a whole, the report says, regardless of denomination, are facing “radical secularism and political correctness gone overboard, both of which limit fundamental freedoms.” The group argues that the ongoing removal of Christianity’s “historic privileges” in European societies constitutes “an unnatural break with history and identity and is an expression of hostility.”

The Observatory report notes another report, issued in May this year and commissioned by the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community, that found that 100 million Christians worldwide are being persecuted and that 75 percent of all religious persecution is directed against Christians, largely in Islamic or Muslim-dominated states.

The report quoted the 2009 United Nations Durban Review Conference on racism, that issued a statement deploring “the global rise and number of incidents of racial or religious intolerance and violence, including Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, Christianophobia and anti-Arabism… the derogatory stereotyping and stigmatization of persons based on their religion or belief…”

In 2008, Orthodox Metropolitan Alfeev Hilarion, the representative of the Russian Orthodox Church in European international organizations, had said: “We often hear about anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, and very little is said about Christianophobia, which is gaining strength in many European countries.”

A 2004 report by the UN-Economic and Social Council, said, “Christianity is also under pressure from a form of secularism, particularly in Europe,” stemming from tensions over the influx of Muslim immigrants in recent years. “The tendency to favour similar restrictions on all forms of religion results in the denial of the visible expression of any religion.”

The ODIHR report concludes that European governments need to start systematically tracking occurrences of discrimination against Christians, and the suppression of Christianity in public life. The group calls on governments and the EU to “ensure freedom of religion and belief, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and the right to conscientious objection.”

Governments should also modify existing discriminatory legislation and “condemn intolerance and discrimination against Christians and ensure the right of Christians to participate fully in public life,” says the report.

The full text of the ODIHR report can be read here.

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