Vandalism and other attacks against sites of religious significance in Greece decreased in 2019 compared to 2018, according to the annual “Report on Incidents Against Places of Religious Importance in Greece,” published recently by the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs.
According to the report, a total of 524 incidents were recorded in 2019, compared to 590 the year before that.
The majority of incidents at Greek Orthodox Church sites involved either theft or assault for various other reasons.
Broken down, there were 514 incidents of all kinds (vandalism, burglaries, thefts, desecrations, robberies, placement of explosive devices, etc) at Christian places of worship.
Of these, 504 cases concern the Orthodox Church (96% of the total) and three the Catholic Church (0.5%).
Another three cases concern the Pure Orthodox Christians (0.5%) and four cases concern Jehovah’s Witnesses (0.76%)
There were five incidents each at sites related to Judaism and Islam respectively, of a racist/anti-Semitic nature (0.95%+0.95%).
“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.
Kalantzis also noted that the overall economic and social situation of Greece in the last year was pivotal to the decline of such incidents.
However, he stressed that the general notion stipulating respect for religion that governs the Greek Constitution and the country’s culture was also instrumental.