Representatives of the OSCE’s 56 participating States met in Rome on 12 September 2011 to discuss ways to prevent and respond to hate crimes against Christians. The meeting, organized by the OSCE’s Lithuanian Chairmanship and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), aims at raising awareness on hate-motivated crimes and incidents targeting Christians and their property across the OSCE region. Participants also shared good practices and developed a set of recommendations on how to prevent and respond to such crimes and incidents, with a special focus on attacks on places of worship.
“It is indisputable that hate crimes against Christians occur in the OSCE region,” said OHIDR Director Janez Lenarčič. According to information collected by ODIHR for its annual hate crimes report, there have been cases of desecration of places of worship, arson and other property damage, and attacks on worshippers and religious leaders. “Such attacks instill fear, not just in the individuals they target directly, but also in the wider community, particularly where the Christian community in question belongs to a minority,” added Lenarčič.
In addition to Ambassador Lenarčič, speakers at the opening included Evaldas Ignatavicius, Lithuanian Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Lamberto Zannier, Secretary General of the OSCE, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, and Massimo Introvigne, Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office on Combating Racism, Xenophobia and Discrimination, also focusing on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians and Members of Other Religions.