Sunday, May 22, 2016

German study claiming up to 40 000 Christians attacked in refugee shelters was bunk

In early May, a study made headlines in Germany claiming that up to 40 000 Christians had been attacked in the country's refugee shelters made headlines in Germany and internationally.

At the press conference, a Syrian said he was shocked to encounter Islamist fundamentalists, the very people he had sought to escape, in shelters. An Iranian reported provocations, harassment and death threats in a shelter in the state of Brandenburg.
About half of those polled complained about harassment by security guards.

Released by charity Open Doors and supported by, among others, the Aktion für verfolgte Christen und Notleidende, the figure was soon cited on social media as proof of pervasive anti-Christian violence by refugees.

Distrust of the media fueled the debate further: "the media" and "the politicians" allegedly suppressed reports, or - if they did report - presented cases as "individual" or "rare", or so the accusations went.

The blogster read several of the articles at the time and wondered about the small sample size of 231, of whom 204 reported that had been attacked by other refugees for religious reasons. Of the 231, 199 were converts. There was also a strong implication of interpreters in shelters being largely Muslim and thus biased against Christians.

The figure of 40 000 was obviously nothing but extrapolation, and without independent evidence, the blogster would not write about the subject.

There have been brawls, fights, and all sorts of altercations in refugee shelters, but setting up a narrative of Christians versus Muslims requires high standards of proof.

Or, in the words of a senior German police officer: Put 1000 native Germans into a facility designed to house 300, and will get a lot of fights.

The Sunday paper F.A.S. of the folks who make the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine fact checked the study and reported today: Serious doubts about persecution of Christians in refugee shelters.

The paper talked to Open Doors, who claimed they could provide details of 500 cases of religiously motivated hate crimes in shelters run by one of the German churches. A week after the claim, Open Doors failed to document a single case.

Charity Arbeiterwohlfahrt investigated an alleged "particularly egregious" case of violence said to have occurred in one of its shelters and found that aggressive action was initiated by the Syrian convert who claimed to have been the victim. A priest working with the man stated that religion was, in his opinion, not the cause of the conflict.

A shelter operator investigating another case found that the allegations "were completely made up".

The newspaper also quotes an internal memo of the German association of protestant churches that says the churches are facing the same situation as the government: forces within the church that are hostile to Islam try to impose their agenda.

On the bright side, those who concocted the study most certainly know a priest willing to absolve them of the sin that is their violation of Matt 19:18, Proverbs 25:18, etc.

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