Family members of a teenage Bosnian girl will face abuse charges after they were accused of beating the child and shaving her head when she admitted to having a relationship with a Christian man.
Prosecutors are charging the parents, uncle and aunt of the teenage girl after they were accused of assaulting her last Monday in their apartment in the eastern city of Besancon, according to Agence France-Presse.
The act was condemned on Twitter by French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, who wrote on Twitter that he was “deeply shocked by the act of torture” and claimed the child was beaten and shaved because she “loved a Christian.”
“This barbarism calls for the most severe sanctions,” Darmanin wrote, according to an English translation of the tweet.
As first reported by the French newspaper L'Est Républicain, the 17-year-old girl had fallen in love with a 20-year-old man of Serbian origin. While she is of Muslim faith, he is a Christian.
"The two families knew each other and [their relationship] was not a problem,” Deputy Prosecutor Margaret Parietti told AFP. “But when they started talking about marriage, the girl's parents told her: 'We are Muslims, you cannot marry a Christian.’”
The family arrived in France over two years ago from Bosnia and Herzegovina. The parents initially took away the daughter’s phone and stopped her from speaking with her boyfriend. This led the young couple to flee for four days before returning to the apartment where the girl lived with her family.
"The first blow came from the mother, then there was an outbreak of violence. She was taken to a room and beaten,” Parietti explained. “She was shaved, according to her testimony, by her uncle — her father's brother — while being beaten.”
The parents of the young man were also said to be at the apartment at the time of the beating but dared not intervene. Parietti said the man left to report what had happened to the police.
After police arrived, the girl was taken to a hospital, according to L’Est Republicain.
The child reportedly suffered a broken rib and bruises all over her body. She also lost her hair. In France, head shavings were used to shame women accused of having relationships with Nazi occupiers after World War II.
Parietti said the girl’s parents and her aunt and uncle were detained and will be tried for violating a law banning “violence against minors.” All four were released under judicial control. However, they are banned from contacting the girl who is now under protection.
Marlène Schiappa, minister delegate in charge of citizenship, also condemned the act.
“Violence, humiliation, torture, and even [shaving]!” the minister wrote in a tweet. “Shame on those parents, on that vile uncle. These acts must be condemned. Support for this young girl, for her freedom, her integrity, her dignity. And thanks to her boyfriend who helped save her.”
The French Interior Ministry reports that in 2019, there were 1,052 recorded anti-Christian incidents committed in France. Most of those incidents were attacks on churches and other religious property.
The Vienna-based Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe has warned that there’s been about a 285% increase in the number of “anti-Christian incidents” reported in France over the last decade-plus.
“The French government reported 275, what they call, anti-Christian acts [in 2008]," OIDACE Executive Director Ellen Fantini told The Christian Post in July. “If we look at 2018 and 2019, the numbers are little over 1,000 [per year]. So the increase from 275 to a little over 1,000 works out to 285% increase.”
Fantini said that anti-Christian acts can be “anything from targeting a church [or statue] in some way with vandalism” or it “could be actual assaults against French Christians with an anti-Christian bias."
Fantini said that the French government submits data about hate crimes committed with a bias against Christians to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
“Those numbers, the most recent figures for hate crimes, were nearly 2,000 in 2018,” she explained. “So when people react with shock when we say that this works out to about three a day, we are taking conservative numbers. When we take even the government’s own numbers of hate crimes against Christians, it works out to more than five a day.”