German conservative politicians have expressed shock after figures leaked by the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) revealed 97 anti-Christian hate crimes in the country last year.
The figure was published by the Funke media group several months before the German security forces are due to release official annual crime statistics. A BKA spokeswoman told DW that the figures were still preliminary and could be subject to addition or alteration, and only covered the period up to the end of November.
According to the reports, a quarter of the 97 cases comprised attacks on churches and Christian symbols, and there were 14 cases of violent "anti-Christian crimes" among asylum seekers or refugees. That number includes the murder of a Christian convert by a fellow refugee in Prien, Bavaria. There were also nine cases of bodily harm.
Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann, of the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU) party which governs that state, told the Funke group that integration in Germany required absolute tolerance of Christian values. "Anyone who wants to live here must distance themselves from any anti-Christian disposition," he said. "Otherwise, they are simply not welcome."
Ansgar Heveling, interior policy spokesman for the parliamentary party of Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), called the figure "alarming," and said the problem needed to be dealt with in the same way that "anti-Semitic attacks are rightly being dealt with at the moment."
After welcoming the fact that the figures were being collected to provide "clarity" on the issue, Heveling also said that Christian institutions needed better protection. "I see a particular responsibility for our state here," he said. "These attacks need to be punished toughly and consistently."
This is the first time that the BKA has collected specific figures for anti-Christian crimes in Germany. The only comparable statistic comes from Open Doors, an NGO that tracks the persecution of Christians worldwide, which recorded 743 cases of anti-Christian attacks in German refugee homes over eight months in 2016 — a much higher figure, though in that year several hundred thousand refugees came to Germany from Syria and Iraq, were forced to live in close quarters in mass shelters, and were rarely separated by religion.