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Belgium

Section II. Status of Government Respect for Religious Freedom

Section III. Status of Societal Respect for Religious Freedom

There were reports of violence, threats, harassment, discrimination, and hate speech against Muslims and Jews during the year.  Except for anti-Semitic incidents, which it defined as incidents against Jewish persons rather than against the practice of the Jewish religion and tracked separately, Unia reported 319 complaints of religious discrimination or harassment in 2017, the most recent year for which data were available, compared with 390 complaints in 2016.  Approximately 85 percent of incidents targeted Muslims.  There were 10 incidents against Christians, five against Jewish religious practice, and three against nonbelievers.  According to Unia, 39.5 percent of the complaints in 2017 involved speech in media or on the internet (half of these media/internet complaints involved Facebook), 26 percent concerned discrimination in the workplace, and 11 percent occurred in the education sector (where a plurality of incidents involved restrictions or prohibitions on wearing of the hijab).  Unia also preliminarily reported 101 anti-Semitic incidents in 2018, one of the highest totals in recent years, and 80 percent more than the 56 incidents reported in 2017.  The report did not cite details of any of the incidents.  Jewish groups reported anti-Semitic statements and attitudes in the media and in schools during the year, including ones related to the Holocaust.

On July 3, two persons assaulted a Muslim woman in Anderlues, pulling off her headscarf and some clothes, including her bra, calling her a “dirty Arab,” knocking her to the ground, and then cutting her body, forming the shape of a cross.  Police said they were investigating and did not disclose information on the victim’s condition.

In December according to press reports, a man in Anderlecht punched a Muslim woman wearing a hijab on the street.  The footage was shared on the internet, and the woman called on the authorities to find her attacker.  The Muslim Executive condemned the attack as “Islamophobic.”

In October a man in Marchienne-au-Pont threatened a Jewish couple and their son in front of their home with a gun, saying he would shoot the woman in the head.  The man had reportedly threatened the woman the week prior before the incident.  Following the second incident, an unidentified person fired a shot from a vehicle in front of the Jewish couple’s home.

In July the same woman stated that she and her family had become the target of harassment after neighbors discovered the family was Jewish.  The woman said death threats had been stuffed into their mailbox and anti-Semitic graffiti scrawled on their front door.  She reported one letter called her “a dirty whore.”  The family complained to the police, who had not identified any suspects.

In February according to press reports, police said that an incident earlier that month in which a car nearly ran down an Orthodox Jewish man and his son was not anti-Semitic, contradicting a statement by the Belgian League Against anti-Semitism.  Security cameras showed the car jumping the curb and swerving towards the father and son, who were dressed in Hasidic garb.  Police reportedly charged the driver with driving while intoxicated.

Also in February police briefly detained a man described as a refugee after security camera footage showed him destroying at least 20 mezuzahs in Antwerp and vandalizing the doorways of several Jewish institutions.  Additional footage showed the man placing a Quran near a synagogue and knocking the hat off an Orthodox Jew on the street.  Police released the man without charging him.

Unia reported 82 complaints of workplace discrimination based on religion in 2017, compared with 88 in the previous year.  The main target of reported discriminations were Muslims.

According to Unia, NGOs, and media, incidents of religious discrimination towards Muslims in both the workplace and educational institutions typically involved actions directed against women wearing headscarves and a failure to make accommodations for prayer, religious holidays, or dietary requirements.

In October the National Secretary for Culture of the ACOD public service trade union, Robrecht Vanderbeeken, wrote an article for online alternative media site De Wereld Morgen accusing Israel of starving and poisoning Gaza and kidnapping and murdering children for their organs.  Wilfried Van Hoof, a private citizen, filed a complaint with Unia against Vanderbeeken.

In May, according to press reports, police authorities transferred a Brussels senior police officer from his post while they investigated reports the officer had engaged in Holocaust denial and insulted Jewish subordinates.  At year’s end the investigation was ongoing.

In May the League Against Anti-Semitism filed a complaint of anti-Semitism involving testimony from multiple witnesses against the head of the canine police unit in the Midi police zone of the Brussels-Capital Region.  One report stated he broadcast Nazi songs and shouted that the Nazi extermination camps and gas chambers were lies.

According to Flemish and Francophone news media, including the news service of public broadcaster VRT and newspaper De Standaard, the group Schild & Vrienden (Shield & Friends) was an extreme right-wing movement that portrayed itself as a conservative, family-values, Flemish national group but was secretly seeking to influence social and political circles with an agenda that included anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim messages and Nazi propaganda.  Journalists stated young people in the group were driving the movement and organizing training and camps abroad.  News articles cited boot camps with close combat and weapons training, as well as political outreach training.  Reportedly, the group’s leadership instructed members that their activities should remain nonviolent during organization-sponsored events.  Media also reported the group circulated anti-Semitic messages and that Ghent University suspended its leader, Dries Van Langenhove.

According to a report in the newspaper La Libre, Arabic-language training manuals for imams used in the Islamic and Cultural Center of Belgium, which included the Grand Mosque of Brussels, contained incitements to violence against Druze and Alawite religious minorities and hatred of Jews.  One manual referred to the fictitious and anti-Semitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion.  The newspaper cited as a source a report for a parliamentary review committee by the government’s Coordination Unit for Threat Analysis issued in February and covering 2016-17.

In December the European Union’s Agency for Fundamental Rights (EU-FRA) released its second survey of Jewish experiences and perceptions of anti-Semitism.  EU-FRA targeted Jewish populations through community organizations, Jewish media, and social networks; 785 individuals who identified themselves as Jewish residents of Belgium responded to the online survey.  Twenty-eight percent said they had witnessed other Jews being physically attacked, insulted, or harassed in the previous 12 months, and 39 percent reported being harassed over the same period.  One-quarter of respondents said they had felt discriminated against because of their religion or belief; 87 percent thought anti-Semitism had increased over the previous five years.

In November on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, a monument commemorating Holocaust victims was vandalized in Ghent.

Anti-Semitic comments appeared on Google Business and “Jews of Antwerp” Facebook pages in November.

In April Prime Minister Charles Michel joined Jewish groups, including the European Jewish Congress, in expressing regret at the Free University of Brussels’s decision to award British filmmaker Ken Loach an honorary doctorate.  Speaking about the award at Brussels’ Grand Synagogue, Michel said, “No accommodation with anti-Semitism can be tolerated.”  According to press reports, some critics accused Loach, a longtime Palestinian advocate and critic of Israel, of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial after remarks he made during an interview in 2017.  Loach strongly denied he was anti-Semitic, calling the charge “malicious.”  The Free University stood by its decision to honor Loach and issued a statement by Loach in which he said the Holocaust was real and “not to be doubted.”

In August the Brussels public transportation authority dismissed an employee after it discovered he had Nazi tattoos on his arm.

In May an Antwerp court sentenced a man to five months in prison and fined him 300 euros ($340) for Holocaust denial for statements he had made at his workplace in 2016.

In June an Antwerp court sentenced a man to a partially suspended sentence of 18 months in prison and a 1,600 euro ($1,800) fine for incitement to hatred, harassment, and vandalism with racist intent against Jews and Jewish symbols.  Media reports did not provide further details about the case.

France

Section II. Status of Government Respect for Religious Freedom

Section III. Status of Societal Respect for Religious Freedom

According to the latest government estimates available, the MOI reported registered crimes targeting Muslims (threats or violence) totaled 100, down from 121 in 2017; there were an additional 45 acts of vandalism against Muslim places of worship and six acts of desecration against Muslim cemeteries.  The reported anti-Semitic crimes (threats or violence) increased to 541, compared with 311 in the previous year.  Despite an overall increase resulting from a significant rise in threats, violent acts against Jews fell from 97 to 81.  Anti-Semitic threats rose from 214 in 2017 to 358, and acts of vandalism totaled 102.  The government also reported 1,063 anti-Christian incidents, most of which involved vandalism or other acts against property, compared with 1,038 in 2017.  The government did not provide a detailed breakdown of anti-Muslim or anti-Christian acts registered during the year.

On March 23, Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll, aged 85, was found dead in her Paris apartment.  An autopsy revealed she had been stabbed at least 11 times before being burned in a fire, which was ruled to be arson.  Authorities arrested two individuals in connection with the killing and placed them in pretrial detention.  The Paris prosecutor’s office was investigating the killing as a hate crime.  After the incident, thousands of people participated in a “white march,” a silent gathering to commemorate the victim, in Paris.  On May 27, President Macron stated Knoll was “murdered because she was Jewish.”

In February unknown individuals placed acid in the stroller of a rabbi’s baby daughter in Bron.  The child suffered burns on her back and legs.  According to an ongoing police investigation, anti-Semitic motives were involved.

In March police arrested four teens suspected of beating a Jewish boy with a stick and taking his kippah outside a synagogue north of Paris.  The suspects reportedly called the boy and his siblings “dirty Jews.”

On August 24, a man attacked two male worshippers with a bicycle chain as they were leaving a mosque in the town of Lens, near Calais.  The Mayor of Lens, Sylvain Robert, condemned the attack in a statement.  According to the mayor, during his court hearing, the accused cited “ideological and racist” justifications for his act.  On September 26, the Lens Court sentenced the accused to an 11-month prison sentence for aggravated assault, referencing the racist nature of the attack.

In July a psychiatric evaluation of Kobili Traore, charged with killing his 65-year-old Jewish neighbor, Sarah Halimi, in 2017, determined Traore was not responsible for his actions and therefore unable to stand trial.  Authorities were planning to conduct a third psychiatric evaluation of Traore, who remained incarcerated at year’s end.  On February 27, reversing a previous decision, the judge presiding over the case added the charge of anti-Semitism as a motive for the crime.  The magistrate made this decision after hearing testimony from Traore.  In a statement, CRIF hailed the judge’s decision and expressed “satisfaction” and “relief.”

Authorities scheduled a new trial for March 2019 in Paris Criminal Court for Abdelkader Merah on the charge of complicity in the killing by his brother, Mohammed Merah, of seven persons outside a Jewish school in Toulouse in 2012.  In November 2017, prosecutors appealed the 2017 acquittal of Abdelkader Merah on the complicity charge; the court had convicted him on the lesser charge of criminal terrorist conspiracy.

By year’s end authorities had not set a date for the trial of five individuals arrested in November 2017 and charged with carrying out an attack on a Jewish family in Livry Gargan earlier that year.

On July 6, a court in Val-de-Marne sentenced three young men who carried out a rape and robbery of a Jewish couple in the Paris suburb of Creteil in 2014.  Abdou Salam Koita and Ladje Haidara, who committed the rape, were present in court.  Houssame Hatri, who made anti-Semitic slurs during the attack, remained at large and was convicted in absentia.  The three, who were sentenced to eight, 13, and 16 years in prison, respectively, bound and gagged their victims before carrying out the rape and stealing jewelry and bank cards.  “Jews do not put money in the bank,” one of them reportedly said.  During the attack Hatri also reportedly said that the attack was “for my brothers in Palestine” before suggesting the perpetrators should “gas” their victims.  Two accomplices received sentences of five and six years in jail.

On June 29, the Paris prosecutor’s office opened an investigation into anti-Semitic letters received by at least six Jewish associations, including CRIF.  The letters, signed by “The Black Hand,” were posted June 18 and referred to the killing of Mireille Knoll, according to press reports.  The letters read in part, “Dear Jews, you bitterly mourn the death of an old Jew murdered for her money.  We think you pay little for the number of crimes you commit every day.  Enjoy it, because the day of punishment will come.”

In December the European Union’s Agency for Fundamental Rights (EU-FRA) released its second survey of Jewish experiences and perceptions of anti-Semitism.  EU-FRA targeted Jewish populations through community organizations, Jewish media, and social networks; 3,869 individuals who identified themselves as Jewish residents of France responded to the online survey.  Twenty-two percent said they had witnessed other Jews being physically attacked, insulted, or harassed in the previous 12 months, and 27 percent reported being harassed over the same period.  One-fifth of respondents said they had felt discriminated against because of their religion or belief; 93 percent thought anti-Semitism had increased over the previous five years.

The annual report of the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights, an advisory body to the prime minister, released in March, included the results of a poll conducted in November 2017 by the Ipsos Institute, a research and consulting company, involving face-to-face interviews with a representative sample of 1,003 residents over the age of 18.  According to the poll, 38.2 percent of the respondents (2 percent fewer than in 2016) believed Jews “have a particular relationship with money,” and 19.7 percent thought Jews had too much power in the country.  The same poll found 29.5 percent of respondents had a negative image of Islam and 43.9 percent (2.1 percent fewer than in the previous year) of them considered it a threat to national identity.  The report also cited what it said was persistent societal rejection of Islamic religious practices, such as of prayer and women wearing a veil.  According to the report, there was a decrease in anti-Semitic and racist acts compared with 2016, “despite a general context favorable to the rejection of the other, notably marked by terrorism, the arrival of migrants, unemployment, the importance of security issues reported in the media, and the rise in populism in Europe.”

In May Maryam Pougetoux, aged 19, the leader of the Sorbonne chapter of the French National Students’ Union, set off a debate by wearing a hijab on national television.  Laurent Bouvet, a secularist and member of Le Printemps Republicain (Repulican Spring), a group created to defend secularism, stated in a Twitter post, “We aren’t hunting anyone but merely pointing to the inconsistency” of Pougetoux wearing a hijab, arguing it contradicted her support for abortion rights and other “feminist principles.”  Then-Interior Minister Collomb called her appearance “shocking,” while Marlene Schiappa, the junior minister for gender equality, said she saw in Pougetoux’s act a “form of promotion of political Islam.”  Hijabs are permitted on college campuses.

According to media reports, on June 28, a judge fined a tobacco shop owner in the town of Albi 1,000 euros ($1,100) for refusing goods and services to a Muslim woman who was wearing a jilbab.  The woman had come to the merchant’s store to pick up a parcel she had delivered there.  The woman’s face was visible when she presented her identity card to the shop owner, and she offered to remove her veil in a setting where no men were present, according to reports.  The judge also ordered the shop owner to pay to each of the four women who accompanied the plaintiff to the store 800 euros ($920) for moral damages and 500 euros ($570) for legal fees, as well as 800 euros ($920) in damages each to the International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism and the Movement Against Racism and Friendship Between Peoples, and one euro ($1) to the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF).

On Easter Monday (April 2), unidentified individuals vandalized the church of Fenay, near Dijon.  According to the parish priest, the attackers broke the door of the sacristy with an ax, then threw down and trampled the consecrated hosts.  “This is a deliberate act of desecration,” said the priest, who filed a complaint, according to press reports.  The investigation continued at year’s end.

On January 26, unknown individuals painted a large swastika at the entrance to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.

On June 17, Strasbourg celebrated the 11th anniversary of its interfaith dialogue initiative, which continued to bring together religious leaders from Protestant, Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist faiths.

In July, for the second consecutive year, young Christians and Muslims from across the country, Europe, North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East participated in a three-day “weekend of friendship” event at the Taize Ecumenical Community in the Department of Saone-et-Loire.  The approximately 200 participants addressed a series of questions from the organizers on prayer, religious freedom, and fasting.

In December 80 civil society representatives from 25 countries attended the ninth annual Muslim-Jewish Conference in Paris, exchanging best practices and discussing ways to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Islamic sentiment.  The organizers said interfaith dialogue was more important than ever and committed to supporting Jewish and Muslim communities in the country and around the world.

The Council of Christian Churches, composed of 10 representatives from the Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, and Armenian Apostolic Churches, continued to serve as a forum for dialogue.  One observer represented the Anglican Communion on the council.  The council met twice in plenary session and twice at the working level.

Germany

Section II. Status of Government Respect for Religious Freedom

Section III. Status of Societal Respect for Religious Freedom

There were numerous reports of anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, and anti-Christian incidents, including assaults, verbal harassment, threats, discrimination, and vandalism.  Most anti-Christian incidents involved actions by Muslim migrants against migrant converts.  According to Ministry of Interior federal crime statistics, there were 1,799 anti-Semitic crimes committed during the year – including 69 incidents involving violence – a 20 percent increase over the 1,504 anti-Semitic crimes, of which 37 were violent, reported in 2017.  The interior ministry attributed 93 percent of the incidents in 2017 to the far right but stated its methodology was not exact.

The federal OPC’s annual report stated the number of violent right-wing anti-Semitic incidents decreased from 31 in 2016 to 28 in 2017.  It noted membership in neo-Nazi groups remained steady at approximately 6,000 persons.

NGO RIAS, to which victims can report anti-Semitic incidents independently of filing charges with police, reported 527 anti-Semitic incidents in Berlin in the first six months of the year, including 18 involving violence or attempted violence, compared with 514 incidents over the same period a year earlier.  RIAS used different categories than official police statistics and counted anti-Semitic incidents that did not rise to the level of a criminal offense, such as “hurtful behavior.”

According to the anti-Semitism commissioner in Bavaria, incidents of anti-Semitism were increasing in the state.  He said perpetrators were from both the extreme left and right, as well as the Muslim community.

In 2017, the first year in which authorities maintained a tally of anti-Muslim and anti-Christian incidents, the Ministry of Interior registered 1,075 incidents against Muslims and Muslim institutions, such as mosques or community centers, including 56 attacks involving bodily harm.  Other recorded infractions included online hate speech against Muslims, hate mail, and aggressive behavior in the street.  The ministry also recorded approximately 90 demonstrations against the “Islamization of Germany.”

The Ministry of Interior counted 129 incidents against Christians in 2017, including 34 cases involving violence.  It classified a majority of these incidents as motivated by religious ideology.  In at least 14 cases, the victims were refugees.  Media reported that refugees who had converted from Islam to Christianity experienced aggression from Muslim refugees, especially if they were housed in the same refugee shelter.

In February an unknown perpetrator fired shots with an air gun from a high-rise building towards a mosque in Halle and injured a Syrian man.  Federal Immigration Commissioner Aydan Oezoguz (SPD) visited the site to talk to members of the Muslim community.  In June one or more unidentified individuals fired shots from an air gun near the same mosque that hit a man of Syrian origin.  Police investigated, but by year’s end had not identified a suspect in either incident.

On June 3, according to RIAS, three men accosted four teenagers listening to an Israeli song on a cell phone at a subway station in Berlin.  The men asked the cell phone owner if he was Jewish.  When he said yes, they told him they were from Gaza City, that Jews had been killing children for 70 years, and that if he showed up again they would slit his throat, calling him a [expletive] Jew.  The men then tried to push the cell phone owner onto the subway tracks and injured one of the other youths with broken glass.  The attackers fled when police appeared.  There were no arrests.

In September the president of the Jewish amateur sports club Makkabi Germany, Alon Meyer, said club members increasingly faced anti-Semitic abuse from other competitors during sporting events, ranging from insults to physical violence and knife attacks.  According to Meyer, insults included “filthy Jew” and “Jews into the gas.”  He added, “It’s not stopping at insulting, it will be fisticuffs, it will be knife attacks.”  Meyer attributed the attacks mostly to an increase in migrants and refugees with a Muslim-Arab background.

In February the regional court in Traunstein, Bavaria sentenced an Afghan man to life in prison.  The court found the man guilty of stabbing a woman to death in 2017, in part because she had converted from Islam to Christianity.  According to the court, the attacker killed the victim, who was also from Afghanistan, in front of her young sons.

On August 31, the Dresden District Court convicted a man charged with bombing a mosque in 2016 of attempted murder, arson, and causing a bomb explosion and sentenced him to nine years and eight months in prison.

In June police reported three men with extreme far-right views attacked a Jewish man from Dortmund, attempting to punch him in the head and insulting him.  The victim said he encountered the attackers for a second time that same day, and they again insulted and threatened him and made the Nazi salute.  The Dortmund police intelligence service published a call for witness accounts and launched an investigation, which was ongoing at year’s end.  Three days earlier, the victim said one of the three men had pushed him and directed anti-Semitic insults at him.  At that time, police had verified the identities of alleged perpetrator and victim and were investigating the former for possible charges, including incitement to violence.

In July in Bonn, a 20-year old citizen of Palestinian descent assaulted a visiting Israeli professor from Johns Hopkins University.  The attacker, upon seeing the professor, shouted “No Jews in Germany!” and then knocked the yarmulke off his head.  When police arrived, the attacker fled the scene.  The police mistakenly believed the victim to be the attacker and used force to detain him.  Police later apprehended the alleged perpetrator and charged him with incitement of hate and causing bodily harm.  They later released him.  The Cologne police opened an internal investigation of the Bonn police actions in the incident, and the police officers involved were assigned to desk jobs pending the investigation’s results.

In April a group of three men reportedly insulted two men wearing yarmulkes across a street in Berlin.  In court, the victims stated their attackers had shouted insults at them in Arabic.  A video then showed one of the perpetrators, a Syrian refugee, crossing the street towards one victim, hitting him with a belt, and screaming the Arabic word for Jew.  The victim was an Arab-Israeli who had received the yarmulke as a gift.  In June the local court in Berlin-Tiergarten sentenced the attacker to four weeks in jail.  Since the man had been in pretrial detention for two months, authorities set him free immediately, as they considered the sentence served.  The man sought monetary compensation for the excess time he had served in prison, but authorities denied his claim.  While his lawyer initially announced in July he would appeal the decision not to compensate him, the lawyer withdrew the appeal in October.

On August 26, the AfD and the group Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West (PEGIDA) organized a peaceful rally in Chemnitz after the killing of a citizen, reportedly by two refugees from Syria and Iraq.  Later that day, approximately 800 persons marched in another demonstration in downtown Chemnitz and reportedly shouted anti-immigrant slogans, attempted to attack persons who appeared to be migrants, and clashed with police.  On August 27, a group of 12 individuals who yelled “Get out of Germany, you Jewish pig” attacked the Jewish owner of the Schalom restaurant in Chemnitz, throwing rocks and bottles at the restaurant and injuring the owner, before running away.  At year’s end Chemnitz police were still investigating the case.  Saxony Minister-President Michael Kretschmer strongly condemned the attack, which occurred after social unrest in the city.  The same day, according to press reports, approximately 6,000 right-wing demonstrators and 1,500 counterdemonstrators marched in Chemnitz.  Newscasts showed demonstrators shouting anti-immigrant slogans and making the Nazi salute.  Two police and 18 demonstrators were injured.  Because ethnicity and religion are closely linked, it was difficult to categorize the demonstrations as being solely based on religious identity.

In May a 67-year-old man allegedly hit a woman wearing a headscarf in the face at a bus stop in Berlin.  The man had asked the woman about the headscarf, and she had told him she was a Muslim and liked to wear it.  Police identified a suspect and opened an investigation.

In August the Berlin-Tiergarten local court convicted a 68-year-old woman of committing deliberate bodily harm and insult for hitting a Muslim woman in the face and trying to rip off her headscarf in an incident in January.  The victim and her daughter managed to detain the perpetrator until police arrived.  The court fined the perpetrator 2,400 euros ($2,800).

In separate incidents during one week in March, unknown individuals threw Molotov cocktails at a mosque in Berlin, at a Turkish club in Meschede, and at a Turkish greengrocer in Itzehoe.  The newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported that, between mid-January and mid-March, individuals carried out 26 attacks on mosques, of which 18 belonged to DITIB.  According to the same newspaper, after an attack with Molotov cocktails on a building belonging to the Muslim group Milli Gorus in Laufen-am-Neckar in March, what appeared to be anti-Turkish Kurds said in an online video the attacks were in retaliation for Turkish army raids against the northern Syrian city of Afrin.  In a joint statement, DITIB, the Central Council of Muslims, and the Islamic Council expressed the Muslim community’s perception that politicians and the public were not taking their concerns about their safety and that of their mosques seriously.  At year’s end authorities continued to investigate these incidents and had made no arrests.

A Berlin-based Jewish-Israeli restaurant owner who appeared in a 2017 video that received widespread online attention showing him as the target of verbal anti-Semitic aggression received death threats and hate mail, and individuals threw firecrackers at his restaurant.  According to a media report in September, hate mail he received filled 31 pages.  Police investigated but could not identify any of those sending death threats.  In July the man who had initiated the original diatribe against the restaurant owner in 2017 received a seven months’ suspended prison sentence.

The Duesseldorf Jewish Community said attendance at two Jewish schools it sponsored in the city had spiked up due to increased anti-Semitism in schools around Duesseldorf.  According to the group, the schools, which the NRW government funded, had been established to enable Jewish students to strengthen their Jewish identity.  Most students, however, were enrolling because they sought a safe haven from increased bullying due to their Jewish faith.  According to NRW Ministry of Education officials, much anti-Semitism in schools came from students’ parents and media, and anti-Semitism among Muslim children was particularly difficult to change.

The Catholic Church and the EKD continued to oppose the COS publicly.  “Sect commissioners” or “departments on sects and worldview matters” of the EKD and the Catholic Church investigated “sects and cults” and publicized what they considered to be the dangers of these groups.  On its website, the EKD Center for Questions of World Views warned the public about what it said were the dangers posed by multiple religious groups, including the COS, the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (Unification Church), Bhagwan-Osho, Transcendental Meditation, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Universal Life, and continued to produce literature criticizing these groups.

A study on discrimination against migrants in the labor market by the Scientific Center Berlin for Social Research released in June reported that Muslims experienced discrimination when looking for a job.  According to the study, which included more than 6,000 fictitious job applications, Muslim job applicants were 7 percent less likely to receive a positive answer than Christian applicants with the same qualifications.

In April the Center to Combat Antidiscrimination and Counselling on Racism and Anti-Semitism (SABRA) held an all-day conference on Anti-Semitism and Refugees.  The Duesseldorf Jewish Community established SABRA in 2017 as a new service to combat anti-Semitism.  SABRA is part of a network of state government-supported organizations throughout NRW that provide services to immigrants to help them integrate into society.  Conference participants stated that, although anti-Semitism had always been present in the country, the influx of a large number of mostly Muslim refugees exacerbated anti-Semitism.  The program focused on supporting individuals who were victims of anti-Semitism, racism, and discrimination by providing counseling and legal services and helping to resolve cases of discrimination; sponsoring prevention programs in schools; and monitoring incidents of anti-Semitism throughout the state.  SABRA also provided support for victims of anti-Semitic incidents that did not meet the threshold for filing criminal charges.

In November Abraham Lehrer, Vice President of the Central Council of Jews, told media that he expected anti-Semitism among Arab or Muslim immigrants to increase and called for combating anti-Semitism through education.  Lehrer said, “Many of these people were influenced by regimes in which anti-Semitism is part of the rationale of the state and the Jewish state is denied the right to existence.”  As a remedy, Lehrer proposed integration courses tailored to immigrants’ country of origin, with intensive teaching of such values as democracy and the treatment of women in society.

In December the European Union’s Agency for Fundamental Rights (EU-FRA) released its second survey of Jewish experiences and perceptions of anti-Semitism.  EU-FRA targeted Jewish populations through community organizations, Jewish media, and social networks; 1,233 individuals who identified themselves as Jewish residents of Germany responded to the online survey.  Twenty-nine percent said they had witnessed other Jews being physically attacked, insulted, or harassed in the previous 12 months, and 41 percent reported being harassed over the same period.  Thirty-seven percent said they had felt discriminated against because of their religion or belief.  Eighty-nine percent said anti-Semitism had increased during the previous five years.

According to a survey of more than 2,000 German-speaking residents released in September by the Social Science Institute of the Protestant Church, 54 percent did not agree with the statement that “Islam fits into German society,” and 31 percent agreed.  While 69 percent agreed that Muslims were part of everyday life in the country, only 27 percent said they were well or very well informed about Islam.  A third of respondents approved of Islamic religious instruction in schools.

PEGIDA continued to organize weekly demonstrations in Dresden.  Journalists said PEGIDA supporters pushed and threatened them when they were reporting on the demonstrations.  On September 3, police detained a PEGIDA demonstrator who had allegedly attacked a journalist, according to Deutschlandfunk online.  On September 24, several PEGIDA demonstrators attacked two journalists, hitting one reporter in the face and kicking the other, while other PEGIDA supporters stood nearby and cheered, according to the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.  Some members of the crowd then reportedly helped the perpetrators escape.  Amid calls to curb immigration, PEGIDA supporters regularly expressed anti-Muslim sentiments during the rallies, including by carrying posters expressing opposition to women who wear religious head coverings.

The number of participants at PEGIDA marches remained constant at approximately 1,500-2,000 protesters per rally, according to several media reports.  An exception was the October 21 rally in Dresden, when 4,500 supporters marked the group’s fourth anniversary.  On the same day in Dresden, approximately 10,000 persons marched in support of tolerance and against PEGIDA.  Among the participants in the counterdemonstration were Saxony Minister-President Kretschmer, Dresden Mayor Dirk Hilbert, and several state ministers.  The October 21 demonstrations were largely peaceful, but police reported five incidents of assault.  Early in the year AfD parliamentarians gave multiple speeches at PEGIDA rallies.  In January the magazine Der Spiegel cited AfD Bundestag member Siegbert Droese as stating that in Saxony there was close cooperation between his party and PEGIDA.

In what organizers said was a sign of solidarity with Jews in Germany, hundreds of persons wearing yarmulkes demonstrated against anti-Semitism in several cities around the country, including in Berlin, Cologne, Erfurt, Magdeburg, and Potsdam, in April and May.  During the Berlin demonstration, where there were approximately 2,500 participants, authorities reported incidents in which counterprotesters spit on demonstrators, called them terrorists, and violently removed an Israeli banner.

Between May and August Realitaet Islam (Reality Islam), a group that said it aimed to strengthen the Islamic identity of Muslims in the country, campaigned in Frankfurt and other cities in Hesse against a headscarf ban.  The group said it targeted young Muslims and had collected more than 140,000 signatures from throughout the country.  The Hesse state OPC stated to media on August 29 that, while the campaign itself was not illegal, the group rejected the country’s liberal democratic order and was striving for a theocracy, and a “high Islamic radicalization potential” for the group “could not be excluded.”

On January 17, approximately 300 persons demonstrated against the construction of a mosque by the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in Erfurt.  The AfD leadership in Thuringia supported the demonstration, and state AfD Chairperson Bjoern Hoecke said the mosque’s construction was “part of a long-standing land grab project.”  Mosque opponents subsequently organized a series of smaller demonstrations against the construction.  For example, in June David Koeckert, who press reported was a former member of the National Democratic Party, widely described as a neo-Nazi group, organized an event at an Erfurt market where protestors staged a fake execution, shouting “Allahu akbar” (“God is great” in Arabic) and pretending to cut a woman’s throat using imitation blood.  Left Party state MP Steffen Dittes called the act disgusting.  According to police, authorities filed charges against the organizers for insult and damage to property.

In September demonstrators against the construction of the mosque wore masks depicting what they considered to be stereotypical Middle Eastern faces and “Arab” garb.  Numbering fewer than 20 participants, the demonstrators also marched in front of Green Party state MP Astrid Rothe-Beinlich’s home.  Rothe-Beinlich criticized local authorities for authorizing a demonstration directly in front of her house, which she described as a personal threat.  Authorities permitted the masks’ use, stating there was no violation of the ban on face coverings during demonstrations, because protestors could be identified with their identification documents.  Critics stated there was no exception to the ban on face coverings during demonstrations.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim community in Erfurt moved forward with the construction and celebrated the laying of the foundation stone on November 13.  The ceremony was accompanied by loud protests from approximately 60 opponents of the mosque, as well as a counterdemonstration by persons calling for religious freedom and tolerance.

Construction of a mosque in Sulzbach, Saarland was ongoing at year’s end.  The citizen’s group Sulzbach wehrt sich (Sulzback Fights Back) continued to protest the construction of the mosque.  In April the group organized a protest as well as a concert with the band Kategorie C/Hungrige Wolfe that the OPC said it was monitoring for its connection to right wing extremists.  The city tried to prevent the concert in a municipal building, stating the group had misled it in registering the event without the band’s name.  The Saarland Higher Administrative Court ruled in April the city had to allow the concert to take place since it could not show sufficient cause for cancelling it.  Approximately 200 representatives of political parties, trade unions, and churches protested against the concert.

In June Ruhrtriennale, a cultural festival receiving state financial support in NRW, invited the Scottish band Young Fathers to play a concert.  The private company Kultur Ruhr GmbH organizing the festival said it cancelled the appearance when it learned the band supported the BDS movement.  The organizers stated they later reversed their decision and reinvited the band so they could publicly explain their views, but the band declined.  State Minister of Culture and Science Isabel Pfeiffer-Poensgen criticized the organizer’s reinvitation of the band in a press statement, and the minister-president cancelled his attendance.  Jewish organizations criticized the scheduling of a panel discussion at the festival about the BDS debate because it took place on the Sabbath and featured Jewish artists who supported BDS.  A Jewish activist, Malca Goldstein-Wolf, organized a demonstration headlined “No support for BDS with taxpayers’ money.”  The demonstration took place in Bochum on August 18, and there were approximately 250 participants.

In August the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel called for a boycott of the Berlin Pop-Kultur Festival, and several artists from the United Kingdom and the United States cancelled their appearances.  The Israeli embassy had supported the festival with 1,200 euros ($1,400) and appeared on the festival’s website as a “partner.”  During the festival, the BDS movement put up posters in Berlin that mimicked the festival’s logo, stating “pop culture – sponsored by apartheid.”  BDS activists also disrupted the festival’s opening event.

According to a study the Technical University of Berlin issued in July, anti-Semitic online hate speech reached record levels on social media, blogs, websites’ comment sections, and thematically unrelated websites and online forums.  The researchers stated that, since online communication was becoming more important, acceptance of anti-Semitism could increase.  The study, which distinguished between anti-Semitism and political criticism of Israel, evaluated 30,000 German language online statements made between 2014 and 2018 on Twitter, Facebook, and the comment sections of mainstream media outlets.  The study also evaluated 20,000 emails sent to the Israeli embassy in Berlin and the Central Council of Jews in Germany.  According to the report authors, between 2007 and 2017, anti-Semitic content in the texts had tripled “in some instances.”  The study identified an increased use of comparisons of Israel to Nazis; fantasies of violence targeting Jews, e.g., references to asphyxiating Jews in pig excrement and to hunting and killings Jews; and dehumanizing or demonizing characterizations of Jews, such as “pest,” “cancer,” or “filth.”  Almost half of the texts used centuries-old anti-Semitic stereotypes, such as portraying Jews as strangers, usurers, exploiters, vindictive intriguers, blood cult practitioners, robbers, and murderers.  According to the authors, anti-Semitism related to Israel was encountered in a third of all texts.

In April the German Music Federation awarded rappers Farid Bang and Kollegah, whose songs include anti-Semitic lyrics, the country’s Echo music award based on high record sales.  Civil society groups, artists, politicians, and Jewish groups criticized the award.  Several musicians who were past recipients of the Echo, returned their awards in protest, and singer Peter Maffay and Foreign Minister Maas both said awarding the prize on Holocaust Remembrance Day was “shameful.”  After the award ceremony, 11 persons reported the rappers to police for “incitement of hatred.”  In June the Duesseldorf public prosecutor’s office declined to prosecute them.  The Duesseldorf prosecutor stated that, while their songs contained anti-Semitic and misogynist lyrics, the lyrics were characteristic of their genre and a form of protected artistic freedom.  Following the controversy, the federation revoked the Echo prize given to Farid Bang and Kollegah, and the organizers announced they would discontinue the award.

In April a satirical play based on Adolf Hitler’s book Mein Kampf was performed in Constance, Baden-Wuerttemberg.  The play’s organizers promised free entry to spectators who wore the swastika, and those who paid for a ticket had to wear a Star of David “as a sign of solidarity with the victims of Nazi barbarism.”  Several legal complaints were filed against the theater.  Although the law prohibits the public display of Nazi symbols and several legal complaints were reportedly filed against the theater, local prosecutors allowed the theater to present the play and allow free entry for those wearing swastikas, citing free speech laws that permit artistic performances.  The region’s German-Israeli Society called for a boycott of the play.

On April 20, approximately 1,300 neo-Nazis gathered in the town of Ostritz in Saxony to commemorate Hitler’s birthday.  Thorsten Heise, chairman of the National Democratic Party of Germany, organized the event.  On the same date, also in Ostritz, opponents held a peace festival, a counterrally of approximately the same size.  Police were present in force, and both events were largely peaceful.  According to press reports, one person was slightly injured during scuffles between the opposing groups, and police detained one man for making the Nazi salute.  The same organizers organized a neo-Nazi Shield and Sword (SS) rock festival in Ostritz on November 1-4.  In another peace festival, approximately 3,000 opponents protested again.  Police stopped another right-wing rock concert in Ostritz on December 1, after neighbors reported hearing the participants yell the Nazi slogan, “Sieg Heil.”  Authorities were investigating the incident at year’s end.

On September 21, an estimated 100 neo-Nazis rallied in Dortmund, NRW, chanting anti-Semitic slogans, such as, “He who loves Germany is anti-Semitic,” and carrying symbols such as the “Reich” flag.

At a Unification Day demonstration on October 3 in Berlin with approximately 2,000 participants, media reported a few participants performed the Nazi salute, and several dozen displayed neo-Nazi tattoos, inscriptions on their clothes, or posters.  Several counterdemonstrations with a similar total number of participants took place in Berlin at the same time.  All the demonstrations were peaceful.

In May authorities arrested 89-year-old Ursula Haverbeck after she failed to appear to serve her prison sentence for Holocaust denial.  In 2017, the Regional Court Verden sentenced Haverbeck to two years’ imprisonment after convicting her on eight counts of incitement of hate.  In February the Celle Higher Regional Court rejected her appeal.  In August the Federal Constitutional Court refused to accept her complaint that Holocaust denial was covered by the protected constitutional right of freedom of expression and not a punishable offense.  At year’s end, Haverbeck was serving her sentence and publishing messages from prison on her website, Freedom for Ursula.

In May unknown perpetrators spray-painted a swastika on a house in the town of Kirchhain in Hesse and covered commemorative cobblestones for Nazi victims (Stolpersteine) with black paint.

According to state authorities and local media, religious establishments in Ulm in Baden-Wuerttemberg experienced increased vandalism over the course of the year.  In September unknown individuals painted swastikas and other pro-Nazi symbols or writing on the door and pews of the Protestant cathedral in Ulm.  State authorities said they had found similar anti-Semitic graffiti in Ulm and the surrounding area in the preceding months, including at a local synagogue and a Turkish mosque.

In September unknown persons targeted the Al-Nour Mosque in Hamburg, just before its opening, with anti-Muslim graffiti.  The mosque was converted from a former Protestant church.  According to a mosque official, the mosque had held open days for city residents in an effort to engage with non-Muslims and be as transparent as possible with the project.

In February the Duesseldorf Memorial and Education Center, a museum, research center, and archive of the Holocaust, started a research project aimed at identifying the number of victims in NRW of the November 1938 Pogromnacht (Kristallnacht) pogrom, as well as how the victims had died.  The center published a report of its findings on the 80th anniversary of the pogrom, on November 9.  The report detailed the cases of the approximately 127 persons from NRW who lost their lives as a result of the pogroms.

According to local officials, legal proceedings against a bus driver in Emden, Lower Saxony for refusing a pregnant woman wearing a full-face veil onto his bus on three occasions, were continuing at year’s

In May Hamburg’s Jewish Community ordained five rabbis, its first ordination since World War II.  Hamburg Mayor and Minister-President Peter Tschentscher (SPD) attended the ceremony.

Sweden

Section II. Status of Government Respect for Religious Freedom

Section III. Status of Societal Respect for Religious Freedom

Although the government continued to collect statistics on hate crimes, it had not released figures for 2017 or 2018 by year’s end.  In past years authorities said most victims of hate crimes did not report them to police.

In February the online newspaper Varlden Idag reported two men attacked a man exiting a church service in Karlstad.  According to the newspaper’s sources, the victim was an Afghan man who had received death threats from fellow asylum seekers for converting to Christianity.  Police labeled the incident an assault and had made no arrests by year’s end.

Members of the NRM protested in front of the Sweden-Israel Friendship Association in Visby in July.  The NRM members pushed to the ground a woman representing the association and attempted to cover the Israeli flag with a banner.  The woman was not injured.

The Jewish community in Stockholm held a meeting in September that included an emergency briefing on the threats facing Jews in the country.

An imam based in Malmo reported in September that members of his congregation had been victims of verbal harassment, insults, and threats, including death threats, during the year.  The imam did not know whether victims had reported the incidents to the police.  He also stated unknown assailants broke windows at the congregation’s place of worship during the year.

An imam based in the Stockholm region reported in October that some Muslim women avoided wearing the hijab in public for fear of harassment.

A study published in June by Professor Mattias Gardell of Uppsala University titled “The Safety and Vulnerability of Mosques and Muslim Congregations 2018,” found many Muslim organizations had been subjected to threats and attacks against their property in 2017.  Of 106 Muslim congregations that responded to the survey, 52 percent said they had received threats, 45 percent said they had experienced at least one physical attack or vandalism, including the writing of graffiti, against mosques or other buildings they used, and 15 percent had been targets of more than 10 incidents.  For all years through the end of 2017, 60 percent of congregations reported being targeted at some point, and a quarter reported more than 10 incidents.  Arson or attempted arson constituted 18 percent of incidents, rock throwing 19 percent, broken windows 28 percent, and graffiti 31 percent.  In addition, two thirds of respondent organizations had received some form of threat, more than half of which involved threats of violence.  Fifty-two percent of congregations had received threats in 2017 alone.  The study concluded “the prevalence of attacks and threats against Muslim congregations may have contributed to the difficulties many of them face in finding a company willing to insure their buildings.”  A quarter of respondents, half of whom cited high prices and an unwillingness by insurance companies to provide them with services given the risk of arson and other types of attacks, stated their facilities lacked insurance.  Eighty-one percent of respondents agreed that “mosques and Muslim associations in Sweden face some form of threat.”

On two separate occasions, the first during the summer and the second on October 8, unknown assailants set on fire two houses in Lund belonging to Jewish residents, one of whom was a local politician.  No one was injured in either incident.  The politician reportedly had received threats in writing prior to the arson.  In a statement issued on October 10, the Official Council of Swedish Jewish Communities said the victims had both been active “in various Jewish contexts” and suffered harassment before the attacks.  The statement added, “There is a strong suspicion that these attacks are directed at these particular individuals because they are Jews.”  Minister for Culture and Democracy Alice Bah Kuhnke condemned the attacks and said the government would “continue to do everything in our power to protect those who are threatened.”

The Jewish association in Umea officially disbanded in May.  The association had closed its office in 2017 following repeated neo-Nazi threats and harassment and had failed to find a safe and suitable new location.  The former chairman of the association, Carinne Sjoberg, told public television broadcaster SVT, “There are too many threats against Jews in Umea, and our members have to think about their safety.”  Sjoberg said the association had reported several incidents to the police, but authorities had not made any arrests.

By year’s end police had arrested no suspects in the suspected 2017 arson of the Imam Ali Islamic Center in Jarfalla, the largest Shia mosque in the country.  A Shia leader reported harassment directed at his congregation during the year came primarily from far-right groups.

In October the newspaper Aftonbladet reported a senior physician at the public Karolinska University Hospital made anti-Semitic comments at work, posted anti-Semitic images on social media, and discriminated against Jewish colleagues, for example, by denying them opportunities to participate in medical conferences and to perform research and surgery.  The Simon Wiesenthal Center subsequently included the incidents and the hospital’s response on its list of the Top Ten Worst Anti-Semitic Incidents 2018.  “We are shocked by the lethargic response of Karolinska to the cancer of anti-Semitism.  So far, powerful bigots have been protected and life-saving Jewish physicians are left twisting in the winds of hate,” stated Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.  In response to the allegations, the hospital hired a law firm to conduct an investigation; its report was scheduled for publication in early 2019.  The accused physician took a paid leave of absence and his supervisor resigned.

In December the European Union’s Agency for Fundamental Rights (EU-FRA) released its second survey of Jewish experiences and perceptions of anti-Semitism.  EU-FRA targeted Jewish populations through community organizations, Jewish media, and social networks; 1,193 individuals who identified themselves as Jewish residents of Sweden responded to the online survey.  Twenty-eight percent said they had witnessed other Jews being physically attacked, insulted, or harassed in the previous 12 months, and 30 percent reported being harassed over the same period.  Seventeen percent of respondents said they had felt discriminated against because of their religion or belief; 91 percent thought anti-Semitism had increased over the previous five years.

According to a poll conducted by pollster Novus on June 7-13, 61 percent of voters supported a ban on the Islamic call to prayer, 28 percent opposed it, and 11 percent were undecided.

On January 19 and March 21, an unidentified person painted swastikas on the Stockholm Grand Mosque.  On March 22, on its Facebook page, the congregation wrote, “We have been victim to these types of attacks, as well as more aggressive types of attacks, for many years.  Our members and visitors are worried and wonder why the government does not adopt a stricter tone against Islamophobia and hate crimes directed at Muslims.”  The youth wing of the Liberal Party arranged a demonstration of support for religious tolerance outside the mosque the day after the second attack.

In the context of an interfaith project in Malmo titled Amanah, Imam Salahuddin Barakat and Rabbi Moshe David HaCohen spoke to more than 1,000 students throughout the year about religious tolerance and conducted interfaith workshops to discuss religious texts and spiritual queries.  The Malmo municipality and the SST provided some funding for the project.

United Kingdom

Section II. Status of Government Respect for Religious Freedom

Section III. Status of Societal Respect for Religious Freedom

According to Home Office figures for the 12 months ending in March, there were 8,336 religiously motivated hate crimes recorded in England and Wales – 9 percent of total hate crimes – a 40 percent increase over the 5,949 crimes in the previous year.  There was no breakdown by type of crime.  Home Office statisticians said the increase likely reflected both a genuine rise in hate crime and ongoing improvements in crime recording by the police.  Figures rose sharply in March 2017 and March 2018; however, police record crime data on a UK financial year basis (April-March), and there are commonly “increases” in March of each year as police reconcile their annual data.  There was also a sharp increase in religiously motivated hate crime in June 2017, which the Home Office linked to the ISIS terrorist attacks in May and June.

In July Tell MAMA, a national project that records anti-Muslim hate crimes, released its annual report for 2017.  The report showed the highest number of anti-Muslim incidents since its launch in 2012.  In 2017 Tell MAMA recorded a total of 1,330 reports, of which 1,201 were verified as being anti-Muslim in nature.  More than two-thirds (839) of the verified incidents, a 30 percent increase compared with 2016, did not occur online.  Online reports accounted for one-third of the total incidents in 2017, a 16.3 percent increase from the previous year.  Consistent with previous years, incidents that were not online took place within public areas such as parks and shopping areas.  Public transport was the second most common place for incidents to take place.  The report stated there was “a sharp increase in hate crime in June 2017 following terrorist attacks in May and June.”

In November Tell MAMA released its interim report for the first six months of 2018.  During this time, a total of 685 incidents were reported, of which 608 were verified as being anti-Muslim.  Of the total number of incidents, 65.9 percent (401) were offline, or street-based, and 34 percent (207) occurred online.  The report noted 59.9 percent (124) of the online incidents took place on Twitter, 23.6 percent (49) on Facebook, and the rest on platforms including YouTube and Instagram.  Abusive behavior formed the majority of incidents that were not online, and accounted for 45.3 percent (182) records.  More than half the victims were Muslim women, accounting for 58 percent (233) of incidents where gender data was available.

In Scotland the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service reported 642 religiously motivated crimes in the 12 months ending in March, a 5 percent decrease (678 in the previous year).  The most recent figures included 319 anti-Catholic crimes (384), 174 anti-Protestant crimes (165), 115 anti-Muslim crimes (113), and 21 anti-Semitic crimes (23).  Cases did not add up to the total number reported as some of the crimes related to conduct that targeted more than one religious group.  In the year ending in March, court proceedings commenced in 85 percent of cases.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) reported 41 religiously motivated hate crimes committed in 38 incidents during 2017-18, a 46 percent increase from the previous period.  The PSNI cited 52 other religiously motivated incidents in the same period that did not constitute crimes, an increase of 31 over the previous year.

The CST recorded 1,652 anti-Semitic incidents during the year – the highest in a calendar year.  For the 2018 calendar year, incidents targeted Jewish public figures (82, compared with 18 in 2017), Jewish schools (40), synagogues (66), Jewish homes (130), and Jewish community organizations, communal events, or commercial property (221).  The CST categorized 122 incidents as assaults.  Almost three quarters of the incidents occurred in the main Jewish centers of greater London and greater Manchester, 950 and 145, respectively.  The CST recorded 384 incidents of anti-Semitism on social media, constituting 23 percent of the overall total of incidents, an increase of 54 percent, compared with 249 in 2017.

According to CST, the sustained high levels of anti-Semitic incidents reported may have resulted in part from improvements in information collection, including better reporting from victims and witnesses as a result of growing communal concern about anti-Semitism; an increase in the number of security guards (many of whom the government funded through a CST-administered grant to provide security at Jewish locations); and ongoing improvements to CST’s information sharing with police forces around the country.  While CST stated there was no clear trigger event, months in which the CST recorded a higher number of incidents correlated with the political and media debate over allegations of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party.  The CST recorded 148 incidents that were examples of, or linked to, the Labour Party.  The CST also stated that higher monthly totals in April and May might have been partly influenced by reactions to violence on the Gaza-Israel border.  According to the CST, this sustained high number of anti-Semitic incidents suggested a longer-term phenomenon in which persons with anti-Semitic views appeared to be more confident expressing their views.  The CST stated that identifying the ethnicity or religious beliefs of anti-Semitic offenders was difficult, since many incidents involved brief public encounters or, in the case of online statements, no face-to-face contact at all.  The CST received a description of the ethnic appearance of an offender in 30 percent (502) of the 1,652 incidents reported.  Of these, 60 percent (300) were described as white – European; 15 percent (73) as Black; 13 percent (64) as South Asian; and 9 percent (44) as Arab or North African; and 4 percent (18) as white – South European.

In January the Chelsea Football Club (FC) announced a new campaign to raise awareness of anti-Semitism and its consequences, after fans chanted anti-Semitic abuse at a game in late 2017.  Days after Chelsea FC announced its initiative to combat anti-Semitism by its fans, in February some of its supporters were caught singing anti-Semitic songs during a game.  In April Chelsea FC sent a delegation of 150 staff and supporters to Auschwitz for the annual March of the Living, a trip described by Chelsea FC’s chairman, Bruce Buck, as “important and effective.”  In October Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich announced plans to continue the initiative by sending anti-Semitic supporters on educational trips to Auschwitz, rather than banning them from attending games.  Buck told The Sun, “This policy gives them a chance to realize what they’ve done, to make them want to behave better.”  On October 10, Chelsea FC previewed a film at the Houses of Parliament aimed at raising awareness of the consequences of anti-Semitism, through interspersing images of offensive chants and social media posts alongside images from the Holocaust.  The club’s website states, “We are just trying to make a dent in the anti-Semitism in this world.  Over time, we hope to make a real contribution for good to society.”

Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen, respectively the leader and deputy leader of Britain First, a nationalist party widely described as far right, appeared separately in court in January in response to charges lodged in November 2017 over their allegedly inciting hatred with anti-Islamic remarks made at the “Northern Ireland against Terrorism” rally, held in Belfast in August 2017.  The pair were due in court in April 2018, but the trial was postponed after they were imprisoned in England for similar crimes.  As of year’s end, no date had been set for the trial to resume.

In March the leaders of Britain First were jailed over anti-Muslim hate crimes.  In May 2017 authorities charged them with causing religiously aggravated harassment in connection with a trial of four Muslim men, at least three of whom were migrants from Afghanistan, accused of gang-raping a 16-year-old girl.  Authorities stated that during the trial of the four men, Britain First leaders Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen had distributed leaflets, posted videos, and harassed individuals who they believed were associated with the accused rapists.  On October 17, Golding and Fransen were found guilty of “religiously aggravated harassment,” Golding on one charge and Fransen on three.  Golding was sentenced to 18 weeks in prison and Frasen to 36 weeks.  Facebook deleted the pages of Britain First in the following days, stating the posts had “crossed the line and became hate speech designed to stir up hatred against groups in our society.”

In September the Local Government Commissioner for Standards suspended independent Belfast Councilor Jolene Bunting for four months after she helped Britain First deputy leader Jayda Fransen send a video message from the lord mayor’s chair.  In the video, Fransen referred to a speech she gave in August 2017, where she made anti-Muslim comments.  In addition to the PSNI investigation of the incident, the local government commissioner was investigating 14 other complaints, including comments she made about Islam.

In March an individual sent letters promoting “Punish a Muslim Day” to mosques in England and Wales, South Asian Members of Parliament, and members of the government, including Prime Minister May.  Similar letters, sent in 2016, targeted former Prime Minister David Cameron and Queen Elizabeth II.  In 2017 similar letters were sent to mosques around the country.  The letters assigned points to specific acts of violence, from awarding 25 points for removing a Muslim woman’s headscarf to 1,000 points for bombing a mosque.  Politicians from across the political divide condemned the letters.  Following an Urgent Question raised by MP Yasmin Qureshi in the House of Commons, Home Office Minister MP Victoria Atkins called on Muslims to report this letter, or similar communications, to the police.  The minister also confirmed the government would revise its Hate Crime Action Plan by introducing new measures, including a wide-ranging law commission review into hate crime, increased funding for places of worship, and the launch of a new public awareness campaign.  In June David Parnham, a local government employee from central England, was arrested following fingerprint and DNA evidence.  In October Parnham pleaded guilty to creating and sending the letters with the intention of terrorizing Muslims; Parnham faced a potential life sentence.

In March staff at a Belfast library received “threatening phone calls” following an event planned to mark the birth of Belfast-born former Israeli President Chaim Herzog.  The Israeli ambassador attended the event organized by the Northern Ireland Friends of Israel, which occurred without incident.  Following the event, former First Minister of Northern Ireland Arlene Foster called for political parties in the region to unite against anti-Semitism.

In April the Glasgow High Court sentenced Connor Ward of Banff to life imprisonment for planning terror attacks against mosques.  In October Ward appealed his conviction, which the Edinburgh Court of Criminal Appeal rejected on December 13.

In April a group calling itself “Generation Sparta” distributed anti-Muslim leaflets in the lower Ravenhill Road area of Belfast, warning against the “Islamification” of Northern Ireland and calling for Catholics and Protestants to unite against the “common threat” of “fanatical Islamists.”  Belfast City Councilor Jolene Bunting defended the incident, which was widely condemned by political parties and was being investigated by the PSNI.

In April a court in Airdrie fined Mark Meechan, who posted online videos of a pet dog taught to perform Nazi salutes, 800 pounds ($1,000).  Meechan recorded his partner’s dog responding to statements such as “gas the Jews” and “sieg heil” by raising its paw.  Meechan posted these videos on YouTube in 2016.  Meechan reacted to the verdict saying, “It’s the juxtaposition of having an adorable animal react to something vulgar that was the entire point of the joke.”

In May police investigated two incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti at Mearns Castle High School in the suburbs of Glasgow.  Mearns Castle is a receiving high school for Calderwood Lodge, Scotland’s only Jewish primary school.

In June a man was jailed for threatening to “slit a Muslim’s throat” on Twitter.  Twitter users reported Rhodenne Chand to police after they said they feared he would carry out his threat.  Chand told police he was “venting” in the wake of the ISIS-inspired terrorist attacks in Manchester and London.  He had written 32 tweets between the Manchester Arena bombing and his arrest in June 2017, including wanting to “slit Muslim’s throat.”  West Midlands police said some of Chand’s tweets, which had since been taken offline, encouraged violence against Muslims and called for mosques to be attacked.  Upon his arrest, Chand told officers he “felt disgusted at himself for writing the posts.”  Chand was jailed for 20 months.

In June supporters of English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson – real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – performed Nazi salutes at a violent protest in London.  Demonstrations against Robinson’s jail sentence took place in various cities across the country.  In London a man was filmed repeatedly saluting while holding a banner with anti-Muslim messaging.  In Belfast, another supporter was photographed displaying the Nazi salute.  Robinson was serving a 13-month sentence in prison, but a court of appeals overturned the verdict in August and ordered a retrial.  In October the judge, retrying Robinson for contempt of court, referred the case to the attorney general, stating that in the current setting, lawyers would not be able to perform an appropriate cross-examination of the testimony and evidence given by Robinson in his own defense.  By referring the case to the attorney general, Robinson’s contempt charges could be heard in an adversarial setting, in which a lawyer could present evidence and question witnesses to make the case.  Robinson was released on bail.  The attorney general had responsibility for deciding whether to send the case to the High Court or drop the contempt proceedings.  There was no timeline for the decision to be made, and the case remained pending at year’s end.

Police were investigating a video showing England football fans making Nazi salutes during the World Cup in June.  The video showed two fans performing a Nazi salute and singing a fascist chant while in a bar.

In July an individual spat on a Scottish priest twice as he spoke to parishioners outside a Catholic church in Glasgow.  Another man carrying a pole then further insulted and lunged at the priest.  The Orange Walk parade, an annual march held by the Protestant fraternal order Orange Order, was passing by at the time of the incident.  Police Scotland investigated the incident; the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland said none of its members was responsible.  Later, police charged a 24-year-old man with aggravated assault linked to the incidents.  The attack drew condemnation from all sides of the political debate.  In August in Glasgow, the Council banned the Orange Order from walking past the church.  Police Scotland welcomed the move to reroute the parade.

In August two women, Emma Storey and Lois Evans, were convicted of assaulting a man because of his Islamic beliefs near Middlesborough in northeast England.  The two women held and beat the victim while shouting that they hated Muslims.  Evans threatened to kill the victim.  The court was shown footage of the assault, filmed on Storey’s cell phone.  Storey was sentenced to three years and four months, and Evans was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison.

In August an individual set fire to the doors of the Guru Nanak Gurdwara, a Sikh temple in Edinburgh, causing smoke damage to the temple.  The gurdwara is situated in a former church and is the only Sikh center in the Scottish capital, serving a community of more than 500 Sikhs.  The Church of Scotland released a short statement expressing its “deepest sympathy” to Edinburgh’s Sikh community.  Police arrested a 49-year-old man who had “issues with religion” in connection with the attack.

In August, in Birmingham, armed police were called to two mosques after perpetrators smashed windows using a “heavy-duty catapult” during evening prayers.  The attacks, reportedly led worshippers to believe they were under attack by a gunman.  No arrests were made.

In September a Swansea FC fan was banned from games for three years and sentenced to a 12-month probation period for making a Nazi salute during a game against Tottenham Hotspur FC.  Tottenham’s Director Jon Reuben captured the salute on camera.

In October ITV Tyne Tees discovered a Facebook group named “Bishop Auckland Against Islam” and reported it to Durham police.  The Facebook group featured posts praising acts of violence against Muslims, with suggestions that Muslims should be killed for their religious beliefs.  Facebook removed the page.

In October attackers beat and kicked two female Jewish protesters outside a “Corbyn, Antisemitism, and Justice for Palestine” event hosted by a pro-Corbyn group in Islington, North London.  One of the protesters was pulled to the ground and kicked repeatedly in the head by two women.  The victim sustained minor head injuries.  The protesters were asked by their attackers to cease filming the doorway to the event and were reportedly shouting “shame on you” as the women turned to enter the venue.  It was not clear if the attackers were attending the Corbyn-hosted event.

In October police investigated a possible hate crime in Newtownards by a group dressed as Ku Klux Klan members, including an image posted on social media of the group in a threatening pose outside the town’s Islamic Centre.  In 2017 a pig’s head was placed outside the same center.

Numerous individuals expressed complaints concerning an article in The Sunday Times newspaper in October by Rod Liddle for suggesting that British Islamists should “blow themselves up” in East London.  The Independent Press Standards Organisation confirmed that it was processing the complaints but did not provide further information.  Labour MP Anna Turley called the article “deeply insulting,” and Tell MAMA accused Liddle of Islamophobia.

In November a young boy required hospitalization after he was punched in the eye and grabbed by the mouth by a couple on a bus in Wales after his mother told them she was born in Israel.  According to a bystander, the couple appeared to be intoxicated, and the man used “verbal anti-Semitic abuse” when he found out she was Israeli.  Police were searching for the perpetrators.

In December the Arsenal Football Club investigated allegations of anti-Semitic behavior by fans during a game against Tottenham, including offensive chants and gestures.

In December the European Union’s Agency for Fundamental Rights (EU-FRA) released its second survey of Jewish experiences and perceptions of anti-Semitism.  EU-FRA targeted Jewish populations through community organizations, Jewish media, and social networks; 4,731 individuals who identified themselves as Jewish residents responded to the online survey.  Twenty-four percent said they had witnessed other Jews being insulted, harassed, or physically attacked in the previous 12 months, and 25 percent reported being harassed over the same period.  Seventeen percent of respondents said they had felt discriminated against because of their religion or belief; 88 percent thought anti-Semitism had increased over the previous five years.

A number of interfaith organizations operated in the country, including Faith Matters, the Inter Faith Network, and Interfaith Scotland.  Various interfaith efforts took place throughout the year.  In May Muslim leaders ran a full-page advertisement in The Daily Telegraph newspaper condemning anti-Semitism.  Leaders of groups including Faith Matters, the Association of British Muslims, and Tell MAMA signed the advertisement.  The advertisement read, “We understand that many in our country empathise with the Palestinians and their right to a sovereign state.  However, we must be ever vigilant against those who cynically use international issues to vilify Jews or promote anti-Semitic tropes.”  The Board of Deputies of British Jews praised the advertisement, tweeting, “Incredible solidarity…. Thank you.  Together we will defeat the twin evils of anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hate.”  A week earlier, the Board of Deputies joined Tell MAMA in condemning Islamophobia following the release of its annual report.

In March Interfaith Glasgow won third prize in the UN World Interfaith Harmony Week for its program, “Friendship, Dialogue, Cooperation:  Exploring Crucial Elements of Interfaith Harmony.”  The group promotes positive engagement between persons of different religious traditions in Scotland’s most religiously diverse city.

In July Christian, Muslim, and Jewish groups joined to launch the “21 for 21” interfaith collaboration.  The project, in collaboration with three media outlets – The Jewish News, The Church Times, and Muslim TV – was termed a “search for 21 leaders for the 21st century.”  Seven Christians, seven Jews, and seven Muslims were to be chosen from a range of nominees.  Winners would be presented with prizes at a reception at Lambeth Palace, the official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

In September local chapters of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association and the Quakers in Peterborough in Cambridgeshire organized an interfaith conference.

In October the Anglican Diocese of Oxford extended an invitation to a Muslim scholar to preach at a Eucharist service.  In response to criticism, a spokesperson for the Diocese of Oxford said the imam “is not the first person from another faith community to be invited to preach the University Sermon.  His presence on Sunday reflects the strong commitment of the Church, university, and other faith communities to interfaith engagement.”

In November Interfaith Scotland celebrated Scottish Interfaith Week through a series of events and competitions, including a launch event focused on women of faith in the suffragette movement and creative competition targeted at school students and local communities.

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