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Society

Vandalism, Attacks Against Religious Sites Fall in Greece – for 2019

ATHENS – Despite occasional headlines about attacks on religious sites and anti-semitic incidents, there were fewer in 2019 than the year before, said a report by Greece’s Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs.

There’s no data yet available for 2020 but for 2019 it showed there were 524 incidents compared to 590 in 2018, most of them ironically at Greek Orthodox Church sites along with at Jewish sites including cemeteries and other religions targeted.

The cases involved vandalism, burglaries, thefts, desecrations, robberies, and placement of explosive devices, etc) at Christian places of worship, with 504 at Orthodox churches and three at the Catholic Church, said Kathimerini.

Three involved the Pure Orthodox Christians and four against the Jehovah’s Witnesses, with only five related to Judaism and Islam of a racist or anti-Semitic nature.

“The annual publication of the report demonstrates that Greece has the know-how and the political will to gather and provide reliable, valid data that are necessary for the correct depiction and understanding of reality and the consequent elaboration of policies,” said Secretary General for Religious Affairs George Kalantzis in the report’s introductory note.

“The data (and especially the individual qualitative characteristics of the incidents) confirm that Greece, so far, is able to maintain religious peace and avoid religious controversies,” he added.

He said that the decline was due to the improving economic and social situation of Greece which was beginning to speed a slow recovery from a near decade-long financial and austerity crisis after New Democracy ousted the Radical Left SYRIZA, the Conservatives moving to stress religious tolerance.

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