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03/22/2012 Europe (Eurasia Review) – A new report says that 85 percent of hate crimes committed in Europe during 2011 were aimed at Christians.

The report, from the Austria-based Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe, summarized incidents ranging from vandalism and insults to the suppression of religious symbols, desecrations, “hate crimes” and religiously motivated violence.

Dr. Gudrun Kugler, director of the observatory, said studies suggest that 85 percent of hate crimes in Europe are directed against Christians.

“It is high time for the public debate to respond to this reality!” Kugler said.

In Scotland, 95 percent of religiously motivated violence targets Christians. In France, 84 percent of vandalism is directed against Christian places of worship.

The observatory has also monitored professional restrictions on Christians. A restrictive definition of freedom of conscience means that professions such as magistrates, doctors, nurses, midwives and pharmacists are “slowly closing for Christians.”

Teachers and parents “get into trouble” when they disagree with state-defined sexual ethics, the report said.

One survey in the U.K. indicates popular perception agrees. Seventy-four percent of poll respondents said that there is more negative discrimination against Christians than people of other faiths.

The observatory also noted positive developments.

“We were pleased to note that many who have focused exclusively on third world countries that demonstrated outright persecution, are beginning to notice that the marginalization and restriction of rights and freedoms of Christians in Europe are also of concern and deserves our attention,” Kugler said in the report’s introduction.

Among the highlights for 2011 were a resolution in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe that encouraged public debate on anti-Christian issues and a reassessment of legislation with the potential for negative effects on Christians.

Bishop Veres encouraged religious believers to live their faith.

“(B)elieving in God must not be perceived as a fault or sign of weakness,” he said. “Living and witnessing to one’s own religious creed in respect for the freedom and sensitivity of others can only be beneficial for everyone, believers or non-believers, Christians or non-Christians.”

The bishops of Europe support those whose rights are not respected. Religious freedom is a “valuable good” that continues as a “pillar of peace on our continent,” the bishop said.

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