While racist, anti-Muslim, and anti-Semitic attacks have seen a huge fall since 2008, those on Christian places of worship more than doubled in this period of time, France’s interior ministry reported last week.
Having documented a record number of anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim attacks in 2015, the French government spent €100 million on a huge anti-populist campaign to reduce Islamophobia, racism, and anti-Semitism.
Subsequently, racist, anti-Semitic, and anti-Muslim attacks fell sharply in 2016 with the former seeing a decline of 58.5 per cent and the latter a drop of 57.6 per cent. These attacks are defined as being fires, violence, degradation, and threats — comments, inscriptions, insulting letters.
In this year, attacks on Christian places of worship have increased by 17.4 per cent in 2016 compared to 2015. Racist attacks, meanwhile, dropped by 23.7 per cent (608 versus 797).
The sharp drop in incidents of an Islamophobic or anti-Semitic nature was welcomed by the French government, who credited the figures as the “fruit of the government’s action plan”.
“Thanks to an unprecedented mobilisation of state services, we have already achieved very encouraging results, as evidenced by the figures for 2016. This gives us much satisfaction”, said interior minister Bruno Le Roux.
The minister warned against “triumphalism”, however, telling Agence France-Presse: “Faced with racism, anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim, and anti-Christian acts, we must not slacken our guard, quite the contrary.”
“We continue, and we will continue always to fight against these absolutely intolerable acts, which sully the Republic” he added, insisting that France will combat ‘intolerance’ with “maximum vigilance”.
Le Figaro reported that acts which target Christians now account for 90 per cent assaults on places of worship.
The newspaper points out that, while it is to be expected that attacks on churches are the most plentiful because they exist in the largest number, cases in which Christian places of worship were defiled saw a huge rise between 2008 and 2016.
The government says the majority of the 949 attacks on churches have “no religious motive”, but that there was a possible “satanic motivation” in 14 cases and an “anarchist” motivation in 25. However, since 2008 assaults on Christian places of worship have risen by 245 per cent.
Last year in Dülmen, following the arrival of well over a million migrants in Germany, local media said “not a day goes by” without attacks on Christian religious statues.