Enhancing Faith Institutions (EFI) has published a new report detailing incidents against places of worship in Europe over a 12 month period. Safe to Worship in Europe: Incidents Against Places of Worship in the European Union covers 27 EU member states from June 2021 until May 2022.

The report confirms that incidents against places of worship are increasing at a concerning rate. Whilst some member states are beginning to address the issue, the report stresses that far more support is needed. The European Commission is taking a leading role in this area, providing funding opportunities for organisations to deliver training and guidance to at-risk religious sites across Europe. One of these projects, SOAR, in which EFI are one of the partners, is working to provide training and support to at-risk sites with impactful results showing the importance of funding & support at a European and member state level.

Based on secondary sources (media reports, government agencies, social media, etc.), the report identifies 607 incidents in 26 states (excluding Germany) in this time, with the highest in France (182 incidents) and Italy (102 incidents). A different methodology was used for Germany, so the results aren’t comparable, but 499 incidents were found there. Of the total 1,022 identified incidents across all 27 countries, the majority (965) targeted churches, with far less against Muslim and Jewish places of worship.

The report stresses that such incidents have massive negative effects on those directly involved, their families, the wider community and, ultimately, society as a whole.

EFI Co-Director Shaukat Warraich explains the aims of the report: ‘It is hoped that, by providing a more accurate picture of the challenges faced, it can help in finding solutions and thereby in ensuring freedom of worship for all communities in Europe.’

Indeed, the report doesn’t stop at findings: it also makes a set of policy recommendations for government agencies, faith-based communities and other stakeholders. These include encouraging reporting of incidents, carrying out risk assessments of places of worship, providing security training for those running them, and promoting cooperation between all stakeholders.

EFI is dedicated to ensuring faith-based communities can practise their religion in freedom and can contribute positively to the societies in which they live.

The full report is available here.

For more information, please contact Kaashif Awan: kaashifa@efiorg.eu.