Police figures disseminated by The Sun UK—only a week before the tragic fire at the 850-year-old Notre Dame Cathedral—show that France alone saw 875 of 42,285 of its churches vandalized or otherwise desecrated in 2018. Additionally, 129 churches claimed that they had experienced theft, and France’s interior ministry has claimed that 59 cemeteries have been vandalized.
While 2.1% of all churches being vandalized is bad enough, these figures are on the low side, given recent history. The previous year, 2017, 1,075 acts of vandalism of churches and 109 thefts in churches were committed across France.
“Every day, at least two churches are profaned,” Republican MP Valerie Boyer told the Sun. However, despite the frequency of church vandalism across Europe, coverage is often scarce.
“Following the fire at Saint-Sulpice, which cops say was started deliberately, the leader of the Republicans Laurent Wauquiez said the media had failed to give the issue more prominence,” The Sun UK reported.
As the German-based PI-News reported in March:
Hardly anyone writes and speaks about the increasing attacks on Christian symbols. There is silence in both France and Germany about the scandal of the desecrations and the origin of the perpetrators. Not a word, not even the slightest hint that could in anyway lead to the suspicion of migrants. It is not the perpetrators who are in danger of being ostracized, but those who dare to associate the desecration of Christian symbols with immigrant imports. They are accused of hatred, hate speech and racism.
The onslaught of vandalism in France has reached a level which can be accurately described as constant, occurring every day in varying degrees of severity. Below are just some of acts of vandalism Raymond Ibrahim of the Gatestone Institute has compiled between February and March of this year:
- Vandals plundered Notre-Dame des Enfants Church in Nîmes and used human excrement to draw a cross there; consecrated bread was found thrown outside among garbage.
- The Saint-Nicolas Church in Houilles was vandalized on three separate occasions in February; a 19th century statue of the Virgin Mary, regarded as “irreparable,” was “completely pulverized,” said a clergyman; and a hanging cross was thrown to the floor.
- Vandals desecrated and smashed crosses and statues at Saint-Alain Cathedral in Lavaur, and mangled the arms of a statue of a crucified Christ in a mocking manner. In addition, an altar cloth was burned.
- Arsonists torched the Church of St. Sulpice in Paris soon after midday mass on Sunday, March 17.
Germany has seen its own rise in church vandalisms. Between early April and May of this year, at least eight Christian churches have been vandalized according to Simon Caldwall of Crux and the Catholic News Service.
“In early May, vandals defaced a wall of the Herz-Jesu Catholic church in Winnweiler with graffiti; the Evangelical Lutheran City Church in Rudolstadt was daubed with paint, and a paving stone was thrown through the window of a chapel in in Morbach-Hoxel, causing 2000 euros (US$2,200) of damage,” Caldwall reports. “At least nine windows were smashed at a church in Wilhelmshaven, a fire was started at a church in Nienborg, and terror threats were made against churches marking the Armenian genocide in Stuttgart and Frankfurt, causing the events to be canceled.”
However, while some church vandals follow a hit-and-run method of attack, many churches and clergy are facing constant, ongoing damages and harassment.
“The Protestant Church in Dierdorf im Westerwald has been a target for vandalism for nearly two years,” the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe stated. “Reports beginning in July 2017 indicate that vandals have smashed windows, burned feminine hygiene products stuck to a wall to damage wall plaster, left graffiti on the walls and doors, knocked over park benches, and littered the area around the church every week. Property damage has reached tens of thousands of euros. The congregation is frustrated and horrified.”
Analysts are suggesting that the anti-pipeline protests that have blockaded railways, roads and certain ports are likely to result in a spike in gas prices.
The railroad tracks in Belleville, Ont. have now been halted for the last 12 straight days and don’t have an end date in sight at this time. The protestors vow to remain there until the government cancels the proposed Coastal GasLink pipeline that will partially run through the unceded land of the Wet’suwet’en First Nations.
The consequences of these blockades are already being felt across the country as the movement of goods has been greatly delayed. Experts now say that gas prices in Lower Mainland BC are expected to rise as a result of these protests.
Kent Fellows, an Alberta-based economist at the University of Calgary predicts the spike could be anywhere from 10 to 30 cents per litre. “If blockades persist you will definitely see an increase in fuel prices… A lot of the volume that is coming in from Alberta refineries to the Lower Mainland is now on rail.”
CTV News Vancouver interviewed commuters in the Vancouver area and they expressed their frustration.
“I mean, everything goes up all the time. Especially in this city (Vancouver). So it’s just another thing to endure,” driver Mike Freides said.
“You can’t go without gas, much like you can’t go without utilities or food. It’s above my paygrade to solve that problem.”
Trudeau recently held a meeting to attempt to remedy the problem of growing frustrations on both sides of the issue.
“I understand how worrisome this is, and difficult. We are going to continue to focus on resolving this situation quickly and peacefully,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The Port of Vancouver has also been affected by the demonstrations, preventing the loading and unloading of cargo.
“Demand for anchorage is currently exceeding the availability, causing a backlog of ships waiting to get into port,” said a spokesperson for the Port.
Teenage Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg tweeted her support for the anti-pipeline protests that have stalled Canada’s economy and left tens of thousands stranded without train transportation.
On Tuesday she tweeted, “Support the Wet’suwet’en Nation and the pipeline protests happening now in Canada! #WetsuwenStrong.” Thunberg included a link to a “Wet’suwet’en Supporter Toolkit.”
The toolkit speaks of “revolution” and claims that reconciliation is dead: “The Wet’suwet’en have been violently invaded and ripped from our ancestral lands, sparking a REVOLUTION. Reconciliation is dead. The time is NOW to recognize indigenous sovereignty around the world! We are asking for folks to continue, harness the power of this catalyzing moment, create sustained action in solidarity, and #ShutDownCanada!”
Many Canadians were unimpressed including prominent conservative pundit Stephen Taylor who pointed out the negative affects these continued protests are having on the environment. “Thanks to the rail blockades, I’ve been flying more. So… win?”
The protests and blockades throughout Canada are a response to the raid of an anti-pipeline camp in northern British Columbia that was set up to oppose the building of the Coastal GasLink pipeline on Wet’suwet’en territory.
Despite the protests, the Wet’suwet’en Tribal Council and the majority of hereditary chiefs support the pipeline project.
According to Global News, Premier Doug Ford’s house is currently being investigated by Toronto police’s hazardous materials team for a suspicious package. The package was reportedly opened by Ford’s wife, Karla.
There was reportedly white powder in the package that authorities have not yet been able to identify.
A spokesperson for the Toronto police informed Global News that officers received a call to show up at a house in Etobicoke on Tettenhall road where the Premier’s house is situated.
Blockades across the country continue to put a halt on the Canadian economy as goods cannot be transported to where they need to be. Prime Minister Trudeau has said that he wants to come to a quick and peaceful solution but that does not seem very plausible at this point.
BMO Capital Markets senior economist, Doug Porter, said that the coronavirus has negatively affected the global economy and the rail shutdown is an added extra pressure for Canada’s economy according to Financial Post.
“The ultimate cost will depend on the duration of the shutdown, and we have plenty of recent evidence to make an early assessment,” said Porter. “The November CN strike, which lasted more than a week, ended up carving less than 0.1 ppts from GDP that month. However, this shutdown threatens to be more open-ended, with the situation ‘fluid.’”
Manufacturers are assuming that their revenues will also be negatively affected by the rail blockades.
Today, Maple Leaf Foods president and chief operating officer, Curtis Frank along with President of CKF Inc., Ian Anderson noted at a press conference that “every day the rail stoppages continue, $850 million worth of manufactured goods are sitting idle.”
Other guests at the conference include ArcelorMittal Dofasco, BB Résaux Électriques, Demers Ambulances, J.D. Irving LTD., Énergie Valero and more.
Chief Perry Bellegarde, the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations was also scheduled to hold a press conference today in Ottawa with hopes of discussing the present Wet’suwet’en situation.