Kristne i Irak og andre muslimske land utsettes for forfølgelse. Selv i Tyrkia har de det vanskelig. Nå er det kristne og kirker i Europa som utsettes for trakassering og vandalisering. Temaet er følsomt. Mediene har ikke villet dekke forfølgelsen av kristne utenfor Europa, langt mindre samme tendens på hjemmebane. Men er det en holdbar linje? Disse nyhetene vil spre seg, om ikke annet gjennom internett, og folk pleier stort sett å kunne legge sammen 2+2.

I Danmark drev en gruppe unge muslimer i Tingbjerg utenfor København trakassering av presten og vandalisering av kirken og presteboligen. Presten var homofil, og det endte med at han måtte rømme sognet.

Nå rapporteres lignende hendelser fra Frankrike, og igjen er det muslimer som går løs på kirkene.

Erkebiskopen av Avignon, Jean-Pierre Cattenoz, forteller om flere tilfeller av angrep. Han spør: hvis det males grafitti på en moske stiller presidenten opp for å vise sin bekymring og omsorg. Når det kastes ekskrementer inn i kirken, og en mann kommer inn og urinerer på gulvet midt under messe, så skjer det ingenting.

Et panel knyttet til konferansen for undersøkende journalistikk, SKUP, konkluderte for et par år siden at ett av de store forsømte temaene i norsk presse var forfølgelsen av kristne utenfor Europa. Hva vil de nå si?

Den 5 november blev en menighed angrebet med sten i Carcassonne .Lidt før en kirke i Strasbourg. I den gamle paveby Avignon er en kirke i måneder terroriseret af unge muslimer. 90 % af alle skændinger af kirker og begravelsespladser i Frankrig, retter sig mod katolske, hellige steder. Der er ikke tale om noget, der bare ligner en ligelig fordeling. En minoritet går overvældende til fysisk angreb på en majoritet. Muslimer angriber kristne (og jøder), kort sagt. Vi kender det ganske vist fra Norden, men i Frankrig er det helt anderledes groft og hverdagsagtigt. Sandheden er ubehagelig, ikke mindst for præsterne, som man kan se af artiklen.

Det er bloggen galliawatch som følger lokale franske aviser og finner historier som denne fra Avignon:

the parish priest, speaks to the press almost in desperation. For several months his church has been the target of insulting and obscene graffiti, and of excrement… Last week the cypress tree next to the building (photo above) was set on fire, threatening the church itself. For the priest, «these acts have a direct connection with what has been happening in Iraq where Christians are being attacked.» Right away father Gabriel speaks of inter-ethnic tensions and denounces the «climate that is becoming more and more aggressive and violent because of a small group of young persons whose ages range from 12 to 16.» At first, father Gabriel thought it was a matter of «incivilities» by young idle neighborhood youth. Foolishness from teens trying to provoke.

Then, a few days before the burning of the cypress tree, a young person entered the church, in the middle of Mass, urinated on the floor and uttered these terrible words: «We’re going to burn you out, you and your church.» The priest filed a complaint at police headquarters on November 9.

How could such deeds perpetrated against a house of worship, whatever it may be, pass unnoticed by the public authorities? At City Hall, the chief of staff admitted he was «shocked and dumbfounded». «We learned the facts through the press this very morning,» declared the spokesman at the mayor’s office. Dumbfounded by the deeds themselves but also by the absence of communication and the lack of information between the neighborhood and the mayor’s office… «We traced all the mail received in the office over the last few months, but there is nothing about the Saint-Jean church.»

Another reason for their shock is the fact that the archbishopric did not directly phone the mayor to designate these acts as «intolerable.»

Acts which, for many residents of the Saint-Jean neighborhood who deplore «religious proselytizing», are only the tip of the iceberg. This inter-ethnic tension will have to be taken into account by the archbishopric and the representatives of the Muslim religion. It was learned this evening (November 11) that father Gabriel will meet with the mayor on Monday morning (…) «We are going to create a work group composed of national and municipal police and technical services of the city in order to respond as rapidly as possible to this situation,» concluded the mayor’s chief of staff. (…)

The editor of Avignews interviewed Jean-Pierre Cattenoz (left), archbishop of Avignon. Here are excerpts:

– In your opinion, are the acts that have been reported a matter of incivility or profanation?

– I note that a few years ago there was a fire at the church of Jean XXIII on the bypass, an attempted arson at the Saint-Jean church, and repeated thefts of holy vessels in our churches for the past two or three years. I requested, as I had done in Marseilles, that a committee of religious leaders provide a unified message of appeasement. Now, with what has happened at Saint-Jean, I will invite the Jewish and Muslim leaders to meet with us in early December in order to discuss the matter.

– But you did not answer the question. Are these acts a demonstration of inter-religious tension?

– In terms of security for our churches, I admit I am a bit worried. I think we have to distinguish between young thugs who do stupid things in the churches and genuine acts of malevolence. I was happy to read that Mohamed Moussaoui, president of the CFCM (French Council of the Muslim Religion) firmly condemns these acts and asks that those who perpetrated them be punished. Racism is inadmissible, whatever the religion, we must all be artisans of peace.

We mustn’t cry out about tensions, but I find it intolerable that a church is covered with graffiti, or a mosque or a synagogue. But I note that when a mosque is damaged by graffiti, the president of the Republic pays a visit… Here, I find that the reaction was… weak.»

– Do you feel that in Avignon or in the department of Vaucluse, there are tensions between the Christian and Muslim communities?

– When there are such tensions, as in Orange during Ramadan when the Carmelite nuns were disturbed, I alerted the representative of the Muslim religion, who intervened, and it stopped immediately. This is why I advocate regular meetings of religious leaders at the department level. For if we do not take precautions now, we could have very serious incidents very rapidly.

Excrement Thrown on Church in Avignon