Newsnews archives
Do You appreciate this service? HELP US to keep it going: transfer a financial contribution to:
Stichting Magenta Projects
IBAN NUMBER: NL09INGB0000189687
BIC: INGBNL2A
Name and address of bank:
ING BANK N.V. - P.O. BOX 1800, 1000 BV AMSTERDAM - THE NETHERLANDS

This page is updated almost every day with items from regular news sources.

If you have an item for the news page please send it to us at news@icare.to .
Your news has to be in English. If you have any relevant URL's (webaddresses) where more info about the news you send us can be found, please send those too. Don't forget to add the country where the newsitem originates. For news about Hate Crime, please visit our ICARE HATE CRIME NEWS.

Headlines 10 July, 2015

Headlines 3 July, 2015

Headlines 26 June, 2015

Headlines 19 June, 2015

Headlines 10 July, 2015

Ireland: Migrants face discrimination and assault, report finds

Immigrant Council of Ireland interviews young men on their experiences in Republic

7/7/2015- Discrimination, stereotyping and assaults were among the issues reported by a panel of young migrant men interviewed about their experiences in Ireland. A report by the Immigrant Council of Ireland found that “several” of the 40 young men spoken to had expressed bitterness at what they believed to be discriminatory treatment. This treatment was arising in schools, workplaces and on the street, with some of the men saying they felt they had been unfairly targeted by authorities including An Garda Síochána. Some respondents reported verbal abuse, such as schoolmates and strangers telling them to “go back to your own country”.

In one instance, a young Muslim man reported being the subject of racist jokes, including being asked if he had “a bomb in his bag”. Others said they were subjected to physical assaults, with one reporting being burned with a cigarette by a group of teenagers. One focus group interviewed as part of the research “felt strongly . . . the gardaí take a nonconfrontational approach and do not challenge local families whose children cause trouble in disadvantaged areas”.

Employment
The report also found a “strong perception of favouritism” in local sports clubs, with a number of participants saying local children were picked over migrants. One person reported being denied a place in a sports club which he knew was seeking new recruits. When it came to employment opportunities, a number of interviewees said they had found their recruitment process straightforward and fair at all stages. However, others expressed frustration at the difficulty in finding employment, which they felt was particularly difficult for young people and even more so for young migrants. One African man said he had been rejected for a job and told: “We don’t hire black people here.” Another claimed that anglicising his name had led to his securing job interviews. The report made several recommendations, including:
- After-school support for migrant pupils from non-English speaking backgrounds;
- An effort to recruit more migrant teachers;
- Changes at third-level which would allow migrant students access to student grants and free fees based on residency as opposed to nationality;
- The provision of diversity and anti-racism training to sports clubs and other organisations, including the extension of such training to all departments of An Garda Síochána;
- Comprehensive reform of the immigration registration system/asylum system;
- A complaints system for those who experience discrimination in accessing public services, and;
- Statutory permanent residence status for under-16s.

The Voices of Young Migrant Men report was part of a wider Migrant Men’s Well-Being
© The Irish Times.

up  

French far-right's Marine Le Pen lauds Greek vote as win over 'EU oligarchy'

5/7/2015- French far-right leader Marine Le Pen welcomed the early results of the Greek referendum on terms for a bailout from Europe as initial tallies showed the 'No' camp leading with results still being counted. Le Pen, the leader of the anti-immigration, anti-euro National Front party, said in a statement that the anticipated result was a victory against "the oligarchy of the European Union". "This 'No' from the Greek people must pave the way for a healthy new approach," said Le Pen. "European countries should take advantage of this event to gather around the negotiating table, take stock of the failure of the euro and austerity, and organize the dissolution of the single currency system, which is needed to get back to real growth, employment and debt reduction."

Le Pen's star has been on the rise in France and in Europe in the past year since her National Front party performed well in European parliamentary and French regional elections. Surveys suggest she could make the second-round run-off in the 2017 presidential election, if not win outright. She has sought to capitalize on discontent over Socialist President Francois Hollande's handling of the economy and rising unemployment, and has made Europe's management of the Greek crisis a particular target for critique. Her party's platform supports the end of the common currency zone and a return to more national-based policies on everything from immigration to the economy.
© Reuters

up  

UK: One arrest after far-right march in Stockton

6/7/2015- A demonstration by a far-right group at the weekend led to one arrest. The North East Infidels, an offshoot of the English Defence League, held a march through Stockton town centre at the weekend, attracting about 150 supporters. There was also a counter-demonstration by anti-Fascist groups, including the Teesside Solidarity Movement. Police said they arrested one 22-year-old man, who was issued with a fixed penalty notice for being drunk and disorderly towards the end of the event. There were also unconfirmed reports of a fight in one of the pubs between National Front members, but police said they were not aware of this. Despite the town being busy with shoppers visiting a vintage market and families at the Stockton Pirate Festival, Cleveland Police said the demonstrations had taken place with "minimal disruption".

Chief Inspector Sharon Cooney, who led the operation from the force command room, said: “We must commend the local residents, visitors and shoppers for their patience and co-operation during the demonstrations. Members of the public will have noticed an increased police presence in and around the town centre area as the demonstrations took place. “Our intention was to ensure the safety of the community, whilst the demonstrators exercised their right to a peaceful protest and to minimise disruption to those going about their daily business. "This was achieved thanks to the co-operation of the local community.” Police and Crime Commissioner, Barry Coppinger, who watched the operation from the force command room, said: “I watched the operation unfold within the force command room and I was very pleased and supportive of the work that went into policing the operation, from the officers on the ground to the commanders directing the resources. "The operation passed with minimal disruption so thank you to the public and well done to everyone involved.”
© The Northern Echo

up  

Life for British Muslims since 7/7 – abuse, suspicion and constant apologies (opinion)

The London bombings shocked us all. But in the decade since, our community has been unfairly demonised
By Mehdi Hasan


5/7/2015- It could have been me. King’s Cross was my station. But 10 years ago, on the morning of 7 July, 2005, I happened to be on a day off, sitting at home in front of the television, glued to the news channels. Fifty-two of my fellow Londoners lay dead. Within days, the four young men behind the worst terror attack in British history had been identified, and a knot tightened at the pit of my stomach. The London bombings had already been dubbed “7/7”, a deliberate attempt to depict the attacks as our “9/11”. Yet this was a more disturbing crime, with far greater domestic consequences, than 9/11. None of the 19 suicide-hijackers on those four planes had been US citizens. In contrast, all four of the suicide bombers on the London transport system were UK citizens.

“We’re screwed,” I told a Muslim friend. These terrorists were British like us, looked like us, had names similar to our own and, as the official report into 7/7 would later confirm, were “apparently well integrated into British society” with “largely unexceptional” backgrounds. Over the next decade, British Muslims would be subjected to unprecedented scrutiny; tagged as a suspect community, the enemy within, a “fifth column” (to quote Nigel Farage). We can’t say we weren’t warned. Less than a month after 7/7, the then prime minister, Tony Blair, himself announced that “the rules of the game are changing”. And, a year later, the country’s most famous living novelist, Martin Amis, blithely referred to “a definite urge – don’t you have it? – to say, ‘The Muslim community will have to suffer until it gets its house in order’ … Discriminatory stuff, until it hurts the whole community.” Well, Martin, we’re hurting. And yes, Tony, the rules have indeed changed.

British Muslims have been spied on, stopped and searched, stripped of citizenship, and subjected to control orders and detention without trial. Many were not guilty of any crime. Remember Mohammed Abdul Kahar, shot in the shoulder during a dawn raid on his home in Forest Gate, east London, in 2006, before being released without charge a week later? Or Rizwaan Sabir, the university student held for seven days without charge as a terror suspect in 2008, on the basis of police evidence later described as “made up”? How about the Muslim residents of the three areas in Birmingham that in 2010 were to be surrounded by a “ring of steel” of 218 “spy cameras as part of a counter-terrorism operation? Blair may have changed the rules but he didn’t win the game. A decade ago four British suicide bombers, aligned with al-Qaida, shocked us all. Today, up to 600 Britons are reported to have left the UK to battle and behead on behalf of the al-Qaida offshoot, so-called Islamic State (Isis). These include the youngest ever UK suicide bomber, 17-year-old Talha Asmal, who blew himself up while fighting for Isis in Iraq in June. So what is David Cameron’s solution to the problem of violent extremism? Why, to change more rules, of course. 

Rather than try and win hearts and minds, or address the alienation of a tiny minority of young people (those 600 Brits constitute about 0.02% of UK Muslims), Cameron has unveiled plans to, among other things, monitor Muslim toddlers in nurseries for signs of “extremism”, restrict the free speech of non-violent yet “Islamist” preachers, and close down “radical” (does he mean conservative?) mosques. You have to undermine British values, it seems, in order to save them. Muslim communities don’t just “quietly condone” the ideology behind Isis, according to Cameron, but threaten our “common culture”. The London bombings, in fact, opened the floodgates to what has become a familiar litany of condemnation and demonisation: honour killings, sharia law, halal slaughter, FGM, gender segregation, the face veil, child sex grooming. Wherever you turn, it seems, those dastardly Muslims pose a threat to you, your families and your way of life.

Meanwhile, Muslim grievances are mocked or ignored. Cameron – who helped turn Libya into a playground for jihadists in 2011 and backed Israel’s bombardment of Gaza last year – used a speech in June to urge British Muslims to eschew “the blame game” and stop “finger pointing”. Forget racism and Islamophobia. Forget the fact that this month is not only the anniversary of 7/7, but also of the attack carried out by proud Islamophobe and self-styled “Knight Templar” Anders Breivik in Norway, which killed 77; and of the worst mass killing in Europe since the second world war – the massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica, at the hands of far-right Orthodox Christians. It’s only British Muslims, though, who have had to spend the past 10 years denouncing, disowning and disavowing. Not in our name. Islam is peace. Union Jack headscarves. Yet our decade-long condemnation has fallen on deaf ears. Depending on which poll you believe, a majority of Brits believe “Muslims create problems in the UK”, link “Islam with extremism” and would be “bothered” by the building of a big mosque in their neighbourhood. Since 7/7, anti-Muslim hate crimes have soared. Mosques have been firebombed while headscarf-clad women have been physically attacked.

According to the charity ChildLine, Islamophobic bullying is now rife in our schools. Yet it’s all “quietly condoned” by members of our political and media classes. Have you ever paused to consider how a young Muslim schoolboy, perhaps second- or third-generation, in Beeston or Bethnal Green, might react to polls suggesting his fellow Brits think he “creates problems” or pundits who suggest he’s a threat? I’ve long discouraged my own eight-year-old daughter from reading or watching the news. I asked friends and relatives – all of them patriotic, well integrated, middle class – to sum up how they felt about being British and Muslim these days. Their responses? Helpless. Despondent. Tired. Worried. Exasperated. Anxious. And how did 7/7 change their lives? A hijab-wearing friend remembers being dubbed “Bin Laden’s sister” by a group of teenagers on the London Underground. “The people around me just looked away or sniggered.” Another says she “feels judged” when she is in the street. A cousin in rural Scotland, in a town that has only four Muslim families, reminds me of the struggle of having to constantly act as an “ambassador for Islam” and “counter all the negativity”. A banker friend speaks of his frustration at being “lumped together” with killers and criminals in the media but adds: “As Brits, we Muslims have to ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’.”

I’m sick and tired of this relentless hostility towards Muslims; the negative headlines; the climate of fear and suspicion; the constant collective blaming. As one of only a handful of commentators who happen to be Muslim, I have spent the past decade appearing on TV and radio panels and phone-ins to try and challenge anti-Muslim bigotry on the one hand, and violent extremism on the other. How emotionally exhausting, how dispiriting and demoralising it is to have to publicly affirm your “Britishness” and your “moderation” again and again. The self-styled jihadists offer confused and angry young Britons a sense of identity and belonging. How do “we” – Britons, Muslims, officials, members of the public – offer something better? More inclusive? In 2007 a fresh-faced MP spent two days at the home of a Muslim family in Birmingham and then wrote boldly of how it wasn’t possible to “bully people into feeling British: we have to inspire them”; “you can’t even start to talk about a truly integrated society while people are suffering racist … abuse … on a daily basis”. He continued: “By using the word ‘Islamist’ to describe the threat, we actually help do the terrorist ideologues’ work for them.” If only the David Cameron of 2015 would heed the advice of the David Cameron of 2007.
© Comment is free - Guardian

up  

UK: London 'anti-Jewification' demo dwarfed by anti-fascist counter-protest

Police were forced to escort around 20 neo-Nazi protesters out of Westminster on Saturday afternoon after they staged an “anti-Jewification” protest.

4/7/2015- Hundreds of counter-protesters chanted “Scum, scum, scum” as they followed the far-right activists from Whitehall towards Westminster tube station. Lines of police kept the two groups apart. The demonstration against the Shomrim, a Jewish neighbourhood watch group, was originally due to be held in the strongly Jewish community of Golders Green, north-west London, but was confined to a static demonstration in Whitehall. Their numbers were dwarfed by anti-fascists, who targeted them with chants of: “Nazi scum – off our streets”, drowning out speeches the neo-Nazis made from behind police lines. Far-right activists had planned their protest for the sabbath in an area with a 40% Jewish population. They planned to burn copies of the Talmud – the book of Jewish law and tradition – and effigies, in private in order to avoid arrest but filmed for sharing online.

But the Metropolitan police decided to impose conditions under the Public Order Act 1986, moving the demonstration to Whitehall and limiting it to one hour. They said senior officers did not have the legal power to ban a static protest, had a duty to safeguard the right to protest and could not impose unreasonable restrictions upon that right. The outrage sparked by the plans for the original neo-Nazi demonstration quickly led to a campaign dubbed Golders Green Together (GGT). Over recent weeks GGT has leafleted the area, lobbied MPs and the police, and urged local shops to drape their properties with gold and green banners and ribbons as a symbol of defiance. Police were on the scene in Golders Green on Saturday in case any neo-Nazis did show up. In Westminster, when it became clear the rightwingers were being escorted down steps and towards the station, one of the pursuers chanted: “Nazi scum - off our tubes.” Officers accompanied the neo-Nazis through the barrier and towards the trains.
© The Guardian

up  

Headlines 3 July, 2015

French court annuls Jean-Marie Le Pen’s suspension from far-right party

A French court cancelled Jean-Marie Le Pen’s suspension from the far-right National Front party on Thursday in a ruling that could re-launch a public feud with his daughter, now party leader Marine Le Pen.

2/7/2015- By pushing her maverick father out of the party he founded four decades ago, Marine Le Pen was seeking to prevent him ruining her bid for power. But her 86-year old father went to the courts to be re-instated in the party. “Mr Le Pen can from tomorrow morning ... start using his office again and all the means that were at his disposal and sit in all the bodies in which he was taking part as honorary president,” lawyer Frederic Joachim told local media. The crisis at the National Front erupted in April when Le Pen senior reiterated past comments that the Nazi gas chambers were a mere detail of history, and defended Philippe Petain, the war-time leader who cooperated with Nazi Germany. However FN deputy leader Florian Philippot played down any consequences from the ruling, saying party members were in any case being consulted on cancelling the honorary president title in an on-line vote that closes on July 10. “No one thinks that he speaks in the name of the FN anymore anyway,” he told BFM TV. Asked if he still had support within the party, Philippot laughed and said there was unanimity behind Marine Le Pen.
© Reuters

up  

EU: Marine Le Pen denied front-row seat in Parliament

“We are like the persecuted Orthodox Christians,” a Le Pen party member said as other political groups refuse to make room for the far-right leader.

2/7/2015- Marine Le Pen, leader of a new far-right political bloc in the European Parliament, has been denied a front-row seat in the assembly’s debating chamber in Strasbourg. Le Pen made a request for the seat but the leaders of other political groups, gathered Thursday for their regular Conference of Presidents meeting, rejected it, according to Parliament spokesman Jaume Duch Guillot. Guillot said front-row seats for leaders of the assembly’s seven other political groups had been given out at the beginning of the legislative term. Those groups refused to make additional room for Le Pen. “There isn’t any group which decided to give up the place they had already asked, and there is no automatic right to have a front-row seat,” he said, adding that the decision applied to the Brussels hemicycle as well. Le Pen’s allies reacted angrily to the decision Thursday.

“It shows that our status hasn’t changed,” said Édouard Ferrand, a French member of Le Pen’s party, the National Front, and also of the new political group. “We are exactly as we were before we created the group. We are non-aligned, we are rejected, we are like the persecuted Orthodox Christians.” Le Pen formed the new Europe of Nations and Freedom bloc last month after she was able to recruit enough MEPs to meet a requirement that political groups have members from at least seven different EU countries. The new group status ensures that Le Pen and other members of the bloc will get additional speaking time in plenary sessions, and provides additional funding for political activities.
© Politico EU

up  

Finland’s deputy state prosecutor to investigate Sadmies’ Facebook post on sterilizing Africans

Helsinki substitute councilman Olli Sademies’ post on Facebook at the end of May, where he wrote that Africans should be sterilized after three children, is going to be investigated by the deputy state prosecutor, according to Tampere-based daily Aamulehti, citing Finnish News Agency (STT).

2/7/2015- Using such violent language against any minority by anyone never mind a politician belonging to Finland’s second-largest party is unacceptable. Sadmies’ claim on Facebook is, in our opinion, tantamount to inciting ethnic agitation and violence against black people in this country. Apart from his political credentials, Sademies is a retired policeman. I wonder what that says about the Finnish police service. No action was taken by the PS against Sademies. When confronted last month by YLE’s Swedish language service, Seppo Kanerva, who is head of the Helsinki PS city council group, said that they hadn’t had time to discuss what Sademies wrote on Facebook. “We had so much to talk about that we didn’t have time for such nonsense,” he said. Kanerva did say, however, that if Sademies continues to write similar posts he could be sacked from the party.

Sadmies’ Facebook page was taken down Tuesday after he posted a “business idea” about an aerosol that would spray pig’s blood on Muslims. The substitute councilman claims that he was taken down because of an identity check but we know that Migrant Tales’ associate editor Marshall Niles filed a complaint to Facebook about his racist and disgraceful posting.
© Migrant Tales

up  

Letter from Athens: Greece divided over exit as anarchists and neo-Nazis wait in the wings

By Yiannis Baboulias , Niki Seth-Smith in Athens

1/7/2015- More than 18,000 protesters gathered in front of the Greek parliament last night (30 June) in the pouring rain, rallying for a 'Yes' vote in Sunday's referendum in favour of the latest austerity package agreed by the country's creditors. Many of those protesting were doing so for the first time. Dimitris Papadopoulo, a 35 year old who owns a small construction business, had never been on a demonstration before. "We're trying to save our businesses, our fortunes," he said. "We have been trying hard for five years... now he, Tsipras, is trying to destroy us," he said. While the demonstration passed peacefully, the police were on guard. Vans blocked the road leading up to Syntagma Square and officers in riot gear lined the streets. "I'm here because Greece belongs in Europe – in my opinion, it would be a disaster if we left," said a theatre director who had come to the demonstration with her one-year-old daughter. "I'm a working mother and if we return to the drachma, I would fear violence."

The real face of Greece's economic malaise was seen on 1 July when 1,000 banks opened for pensioners only so they could collect €120 in retirement cheques. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras sent a letter to Greece's creditors in an apparent attempt at a last-minute deal, but it was met with a dismissive response by both Germany's finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, and prime minister, Angela Merkel. "Accepting something, rejecting something – doesn't exist any more," Schäuble said. As for those Greeks who have spent the past five years as part of the anti-austerity movement, they are now watching and waiting. Thus far, the reaction on the streets of the 'No' side has been relatively muted, with Monday's protest in Syntagma Square drawing less than 14,000 supporters. At the same time, the only poll conducted after Syriza's referendum announcement on Friday, published in the Efimerida Ton Syntakton newspaper, shows support of 'No' at 52% of voters, beating 'Yes' at 33%.

In the bohemian neighbourhood of Exarcheia, known for its anarchist and hard-left politics, the tension is growing, with a demonstration planned for yesterday apparently cancelled, but leaving tell-tale burning bins that filled the air with black fumes. Syriza, whose name is an acronym for the Coalition of the Radical Left, were voted into power in January to oppose austerity within the euro. There have already been a number of small-scale demonstrations against the government since their election, but these have never attracted more than 500 or so people. They have also been largely confined to Exarcheia. On 23 June, around 30 anarchists infiltrated a pro-European demonstration, burning EU flags, but it was met with a swift response and arrests. If a deal is signed before the referendum can take place, which is still a possibility, many of the seasoned anti-austerity protesters and street activists will feel betrayed.

Tsipras said on Monday that if Greeks vote 'Yes' for the deal in the referendum, Syriza will resign from power. This would provoke an even more volatile reaction. Elections are likely to lead to some form of 'grand coalition' as no one party can command a majority. The latest poll conducted by Skai TV shows former government New Democracy has only 16% of the vote, and the centre-left party Pasok is in disarray with just 3.5%. The other option, another technocratic government like that imposed on Greece in 2011, would also prove provocative. Neo-Nazi Golden Dawn are currently on trial, accused of operating as a criminal organisation, and while they may be finished as a party, the fall of Syriza could see them more active on the streets. Syriza's handling of the police up until now has also helped to keep a lid on tensions. While they have been too busy with the eurozone negotiations to fulfil their pledges to disband the notorious DELTA riot squad, they have pursued a far more placatory approach to policing than their predecessors, the right-wing New Democracy.

Whatever happens, they will not want to resort to the aggressive policing of protesting that Greece has seen over the past five years. Syriza's rapid rise from a fringe party to a formidable electoral force owed much to their support of the right to protest, going back to the 2008 Greek riots. The riots were sparked by the lethal shooting of a teenager in the Exarcheia district by two policemen. It was seen as an unprovoked killing, tapping into anger, not only with the police, but also widespread frustration of the young faced with unemployment and the beginning of the global financial crisis. Syriza not only signalled their ideological support for the riots, but were also actively present on the demonstrations. It helped them capture the support of a demographic that was later caught up in the anti-memorandum protests of 2010-2011.

This demographic also forms the mass of the solidarity movements that have helped keep Greek society afloat, at a time when the public sector has been under extreme strain. There are well over 400 citizen-run groups in Greece, including 40 health clinics that have sprung up since the anti-austerity protests of 2011 and Syriza's Thessaloniki Manifesto, which they ran on in January, pledged to work alongside these social movements. In February, the far-left Antarsya group called on the wider left to "co-ordinate their forces and to invite workers, the people and youth and put up a large movement against the agreement". They will be on the frontline of protests against the signing of any deal seen as extending the austerity memoranda viewed as "humiliating" for Greece and a betrayal by Syriza.

In 2011, in response to the memoranda, large-scale violent protests were commonplace, with February alone seeing more than 100,000 Greeks involved in strikes and demonstrations. Thus far, the streets of Greece are relatively peaceful. But this peace may not last.
© The International Business Times - UK

up  

Bulgaria: NGO Threatens to Sue over Forced Demolition of Homes in Roma District Garmen

The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) has opposed the forced demolition of buildings and homes in the Roma neighborhood of the southwestern Bulgarian village of Garmen.

1/7/2015- The human rights NGO cautions that the step leaves four families with nowhere to go, forcing them to sleep out in the open. The BHC insists in a media statement that the step contradicts international law and will trigger an even bigger and more urgent problem. The NGO emphasizes that the demolition of the four illegal buildings two days ago was made under public pressure as a form of collective punishment for the supposedly illegal actions of different individuals in Garmen and without taking into account the situation of each of the people living there who are not involved in past incidents. In their words, the campaign was accompanied by a public racist anti-Roma rhetoric, which was incited, among other things, by media outlets and by the political parties represented in Parliament. The NGO draws attention to the fact that it warned about similar developments in May.

The BHC reminds that it has repeatedly warned that the demolition of the only homes of poor families, who have been living there for a long time, without providing them with an alternative housing option, breaches the right to respect for their private and family life and the right to a home. The BHC reminds that the forced evictions of people from their only homes has been condemned as a breach of international law on three occasions in lawsuits related to cases similar to the existing one. The NGO reminds that Bulgaria lost these lawsuits, with three different international bodies coming up with convictions against Bulgaria, including the European Court of Human Rights, the United Nations Human Rights Committee, and the European Committee of Social Rights. These three international bodies detected violations of three international treaties to which Bulgaria was a party, according to the BHC.

The NGO also stresses that in these cases the measures selectively targeted the Roma population, despite the fact that illegal construction in Bulgaria did not boil down to the homes of the Roma population. The BHC accuses Bulgarian public authorities of committing outright racial discrimination, adding that it is prohibited by Bulgaria’s Constitution and international law. The human rights NGO emphasizes that the unlawful activities of both the central and the local authorities in Garmen created preconditions for an escalation of ethnic tensions and a deterioration of the social problem, and tarnished Bulgaria’s international reputation. BHC calls for an urgent halt of the forced evictions of poor people from their only homes, as well as all other populist measures initiated by the authorities. The NGO also seeks urgent measures related to providing housing for the homeless. The BHC says that it will consider the opportunities for initiating legal action over the breaches of international law in the “Garmen” case.
© Novinite

up  

Research into Dutch Turks’ attitudes to IS shows ‘serious shortcomings’

1/7/2015- Controversial research into the attitudes of young Dutch Turks to IS, which showed 80% saw nothing wrong in jihad against non-believers, has ‘serious shortcomings, the social affairs ministry said on Tuesday. The research, carried out by the Motivaction group in Amsterdam, was commissioned by the Forum multicultural institute and involved a mixture of online and face-to-face interviews with Dutch Turks aged between 18 and 34. It was published to a media storm last November. It was published to a media storm last November. During a parliamentary debate on integration issues on Wednesday, Socialist, D66 and CDA MPs called for a special sitting to investigate why youths have such radical views, website nu.nl reports. The survey found 90% of young Turks think those fighting against Syrian president Assad’s troops are ‘heroes’ and half thought it would be a good thing if Dutch Muslims went to join the fight. Social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher told website nu.nl on Tuesday the results of the survey were ‘worrying’ and pledged to carry out more in-depth research. He also said the research was contradictory, with high support for jihad but very little support for a religious caliphate. Speaking after a visit to the Kuba mosque in IJmuiden on Wednesday, Asscher said he had failed to find anyone who supported IS, the Volkskrant reports.

Research
The Forum research involved a mixture of online and face-to-face interviews with Dutch Turks aged between 18 and 34. It also showed 74% of Dutch Turks and 61% of
Dutch Moroccans oppose the declaration of an Islamic caliphate in the region and a clear majority (62%) consider democracy essential for progress. Just 8% thought a caliphate was better for the Arabic world than a democracy. Forum said the support for pro-IS fighters among Turkish youngsters may be due to the coverage of events in the Middle East on Turkish broadcasters, watched by 86% of those questioned. By contrast, only 27% of the Moroccan youngsters in the survey watched Moroccan news programmes.

During a parliamentary debate on integration issues on Wednesday, Socialist, D66 and CDA MPs called for a special sitting to investigate why youths have such radical views, website nu.nl reports.

Read more at DutchNews.nl: Young Dutch Turks’ radical views worry MPs, call for more research http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2014/11/young-dutch-turks-radical-views-worry-mps-call-for-more-research/

© The Dutch News
up  

Netherlands: Public prosecutor revises statement about Aruban holidaymaker's death

The public prosecution department has issued a revised statement about the death of a 42-year-old holidaymaker in The Hague at the weekend, which no longer states he became ill while in the back of a police car.

29/6/2015- Mitch Henriquez was arrested at the Night in the Park concert and died in hospital on Sunday. The new statement comes after several video clips emerged showing Henriquez, apparently unconscious and being dragged into the back of a van. According to the revised public prosecution department statement, Henriquez shouted that he had a gun, prompting police to take action. He is said to have resisted arrest, leading police to ‘use violence’ against him. ‘What happened then is now being investigated,’ the revised statement said. ‘The man died in hospital on Sunday June 28 and a post mortem has been ordered. Eyewitnesses said Henriquez was fooling around with friends and police asked him to quieten down. Shortly afterwards, four police officers ‘jumped on his neck’, one eyewitness, named as Wendy, said. The family are appealing for eyewitnesses and people who filmed the incident to come forward, as are the police.
© The Dutch News

up  

Netherlands: Srebrenica interpreter not welcome in The Hague

A former interpreter for Dutch forces in Srebrenica has had his invitation to a conference in The Hague withdrawn because his presence would be ‘uncomfortable’ for other delegates.

29/6/2015- The three-day conference, which begins on Monday, was organised by The Hague Institute for Global Justice and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Its aim is to reconstruct the events in the town in 1995 using the recollections of top political and military people involved and documents not earlier made public. ‘Apparently they do not dare to look me in the eye,’ Hasan Nuhanovic told the Volkskrant from Sarajevo. His father, mother and younger brother were murdered by Bosnian Serbs when the muslim enclave in Srebrenica was overrun in July 1995. They had sought sanctuary in the Dutchbat compound but were sent away. Nuhanovic, who was an interpreter for Dutchbat, brought a legal case for compensation in 2002 which came to a conclusion in 2013 when the Dutch supreme court said the Dutch state could be held responsible for the deaths.

Email
Nuhanovic was invited to the conference by email last September but his invitation was withdrawn last month by telephone. ‘It was a difficult decision,’ Cameron Hudson of the
US museum told the paper. ‘But in order to find out what happened in Srebrenica, people must be able to speak freely. That would be difficult in the presence of someone who brought legal action in the past and may do so again in the future.’ Over 8,000 men and boys were murdered and buried in mass graves when the enclave was overrun and the massacre remains the subject of other legal action.
© The Dutch News

up  

Srebrenica airstrikes cancelled, Dutch not told

Dutch allies during the Yugoslavian civil war decided to cancel airstrikes on Serbian targets without telling the Dutch, possibly causing the fall of Srebrenica, investigative tv programme Argos will say on Monday evening.

29/6/2015- Dutch peacekeepers were in charge in the Muslim enclave which fell to Serb forces on July 11, 1995. The Serbs then massacred up to 8,000 men and boys, some of whom were sent out of the Dutch military compound. According to the Argos documentary, the decision to cancel UN airstrikes was taken by the US, France and Britain in May 1995, but no one told the Dutch. This failure of the UN to provide air support to the Dutch peacekeepers in the face of the Serbian onslaught has never before been properly explained. The information in the documentary is based on hundreds of US documents made public in 2013 by Bill Clinton, the president during the Yugoslavian civil war.

Nine times
The Dutch troops in Srebrenica, known as Dutchbat, asked nine times for air support but the UN did not finally agree until July 10, Joris Voorhoeve, defence minister at the time,
said earlier this year. He told RTL news that UN officials said 40 aircraft would be sent to knock out the Serbian artillery. However, this did not happen. Four aircraft came on July 11 but this was not only too late, but made life extremely dangerous for the 40,000 people in the enclave, he said. Big difference Verhoeve travelled to Srebrenica with journalists from Argos and confirmed he did not know of the decision to cancel the airstrikes on Serbian targets. That decision was made because UN soldiers had been captured by the Serbian army. The former minister told Nos that air support could have made a big difference as Serbian general Ratko Mladic moved in on the enclave. ‘I think Mladic would have changed his plans and called a halt,’ he said. ‘He would have surrounded the enclave but not invaded it.’
© The Dutch News

up  

How to combat anti-Semitism and Islamophobia? (opinion)

By Sarah Isal, Intissar Kherigi, and Robin Sclafani

29/6/2015- The deadly attacks in Paris and Copenhagen have served as a wake-up call to European policy makers of the escalating reality of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and racism in Europe. The fertility of European soil to extremist ideas, policies and practices - either from the far-right or from those propagating violence in the name of Islam - must be addressed. Our political leaders are finally starting to move beyond symbolic declarations. They want to know what strategies can work in combatting the vicious cycle of hatred and human rights violations. This is precisely what a hearing in the European Parliament taking place today (29 June) is aiming to do by discussing anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and hate speech in Europe. While it is ambitious to address these three very specific topics in one hearing, we hope this will provide impetus for MEPs to take one more step in the direction of effective action. Unfortunately, however, it is drawing sharp criticism from some groups. There is criticism that the scope and diversity of issues, of victims and of voices are too many to be represented in short panel discussions.

The challenges we face are huge: anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are affecting the quality of daily life of Jews and Muslims, albeit in different ways and from different perspec-tives. They should be addressed with the same political will through effective and meaningful responses addressing the common and the distinct factors. The enemies in this situation are those who spread hate and commit violence, not fellow civil society organisations such as ours who work towards the same goal of equality and safety for all in Europe. The enemies are not the European Institutions and agencies which are supporting calls to get closer to this goal.

Brave individuals
Demonisation of adherents of a religion or a people easily leads to delegitimisation of those who open bridges across communities. This type of reaction is at best unconstructive and at worst risks fuelling tensions between these communities as well as the racism they encounter. It is not possible to really combat prejudice within our communities without the work and courage of brave individuals who risk their personal safety for the cause of equality. There are too many examples of Muslim and Jewish interfaith leaders who are marginalised because they are too soft, but their message is vital to building vital bridges between communities and creating trust. Europe needs more non-Muslims to stand up against Islamophobia, challenge the hate crime and economic and social discrimination that Muslims face, and create the conditions for inclusive participation of Muslims as equal citizens in European democracies.

Europe needs more non-Jews to stand up against anti-Semitism, reduce bullying in schools and eliminate violent attacks on the street and at community centres, and appreciate the Jewish contribution to the fabric of European culture. Monday's hearing in the European Parliament and the upcoming European Commission Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights that will also focus on anti-Semitism and islamophobia are both opportunities to welcome non-Jews and non-Muslims into a partnership against hatred. It is time to question ourselves honestly and recognise that the status quo of isolated efforts has not been working. It is time for us to come together as communities, as Europeans. Taking care of each other is taking care of the future of our societies.
Sarah Isal is Chair of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR); Intissar Kherigi is President of the Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organisations (FEMYSO) and Robin Sclafani is Director of CEJI-A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe
© The EUobserver

up  

Italy migrant arrivals near record 68k in six months

Italian authorities were on Monday dealing with the arrival of another 2,900 migrants at southern ports after 21 boats were rescued in the space of 24 hours from waters off Libya.

29/6/2015- The latest operations involved coastguard and other Italian ships, British, Irish and Spanish navy vessels and a boat operated by Malta-based humanitarian organization Moas, the coastguard said. The rescues lifted to nearly 68,000 the number of migrants to have landed in Italy this year, according to figures compiled by the International Organi-sation for Migration (IOM). The unprecedented figure represents a slight increase on the same period last year (63,885 arrivals January 1st-June 30th), which ended with a record 170,000 migrants landing in Italy. The surge in numbers since the start of 2014 has left Italy's reception facilities, currently housing around 80,000 asylum-seekers and others seeking leave to remain in the country, under severe strain. The situation is likely to get worse over the summer, when the numbers of boats dispatched by people smugglers usually peaks. Of last year's arrivals, some 100,000 arrived between June and September.

The sharp increase in migrant arrivals has left Italy's centre-left government under constant attack from the country's vocal far-right and some regions are threatening to refuse to house any more migrants. The crisis has also put Italy at loggerheads with its European Union partners over contested proposals to spread some asylum-seekers across the bloc and moves by neighbouring countries to tighten their border controls to restrict the numbers of migrants travelling out of Italy on their way to northern Europe. Italy regards these moves as breaching the principles of solidarity and of free movement of people within Europe. On the other side of the debate there is a perception that Italy is not sufficiently rigorous about registering new arrivals at its ports and sending economic migrants back to their countries of origin as a deterrent to others thinking of making the trip. According to aid groups, just over half of the migrants arriving in Italy have a legitimate claim to asylum, mostly as a result of having fled conflict in Syria or repression in Eritrea.

The civil war in Syria is also seen as being behind a surge in asylum-seekers arriving in Greece, where over 80,000 migrants have arrived this year, three quarters of them on boats which mostly leave from Turkey. This year has also seen a sharp increase in the numbers of migrants dying during the crossings with over 1,800 fatalities reported en route to Italy and at least 27 off Greece, according to the OIM.
© The Local - Italy

up  

Hungary's anti-migrant fence to be built within months

2/7/2015- A fence on the Serbian border to stem the flow of migrants and refugees will be built within a few months, beginning with the areas most used by human smugglers, Hungary's foreign minister said Thursday. Peter Szijjarto said that the 4-meter (13-foot) high fence would "defend Hungary and the European Union from the startling scale of illegal immigration pressure." Szijjarto said that police had detained more than 68,000 people who according to the government entered Hungary illegally this year, nearly all arriving from Serbia. "The work will start at eight to 10 locations at the same time ... in the areas most exposed to the immigration pressure," Szijjarto said on state television. "This means the areas most used by human traffickers."

Meanwhile, the U.N. refugee agency urged Hungary to refrain from implementing a plan which could make its asylum system more restrictive for refugees, saying the "proposals would have devastating implications" for them. Hungarian lawmakers are expected to soon debate draft legislation from the Interior Ministry which, among other measures, would allow authorities to detain asylum seekers for prolonged periods and restrict the right of those making repeated asylum claim to remain in Hungary while their cases are decided "We fear that the new amendments will make it impossible for people fleeing war and persecution to seek safety in this country," Montserrat Feixas Vihe, the UNHCR's regional representa-tive for Central Europe, said in a statement. "We understand Hungary's national security concerns, but this should not victimize the victims."
© The Associated Press

up  

Hungarian police use tear gas to break up clashes at migrant camp

29/6/2015- Hungarian police fired tear gas to subdue hundreds of people fighting each other and throwing rocks in an overcrowded camp for migrants in the eastern city of Debrecen, authorities said. Rioting migrants also set fire to garbage and a policeman was injured when a flying rock struck him in the head, Interior Ministry spokesman Attila Samu said. Hungary, a landlocked central European country of 10 million people, is in the European Union's Schengen visa-free travel zone and thus an attractive destination for tens of thousands of migrants entering Europe through the Balkans from the Middle East and Africa. Most then move on to wealthier western Europe. The migrant influx has prompted Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government to prepare construction of a 175-km (110 mile) fence along its border with Serbia, angering its southern neighbor.

Monday's disturbances started with a fight between two migrants in the camp, which was designed to hold about 823 people but is now crammed with 1,655, on the outskirts of Debrecen, 230 km (140 miles) east of the capital Budapest. "The conflict broke out after a Turkish migrant seized the Koran of an Afghan migrant and (because) allegedly there were 200 euros of cash inside the Koran," Samu told Reuters. "This set off the initial conflict, in which subsequently hundreds were embroiled. They broke out of the camp, occupied a road, pelted rocks and set fire to garbage containers. Police then forced them back into the camp." Police spokesman Denes Dobo said police had arrested one Turkish migrant. "Right now there is calm in the camp, police are upholding public order and security," he said. Samu said an extra 154 policemen were scrambled to the scene from nearby districts to restore order. They will remain on site as long as necessary, Samu added.

In the first six months of this year, the number of migrants crossing into the EU via Hungary's border with Serbia exceeded 66,000, overtaking even the number arriving in Italy. The flood of migrants is fuelling public hostility to the EU's open borders and to the EU project as a whole. EU summit talks last week over how to cope with the problem exposed sharp differences between Mediterranean states, which have borne the brunt of the influx, and poorer, ex-Communist central and east European countries who fear costly disruptions from proposals to make them take in a share of those in transit.
© Reuters

up  

Germany: Official report: Sharp rise in attacks on refugee centers

30/6/2015- Far-right crime in Germany soared 24 percent last year to the highest level in six years, with a "shameful" surge in attacks on refugee centres, an official report released Tuesday showed. As the number of asylum seekers in Germany has risen, so has aggression against them, an annual report on politically motivated crime by the domestic security watchdog, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, found. "Hatred and violence against refugees and asylum seekers in Germany are shameful," Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said as he presented the findings for 2014. Europe's top economic power "has a responsibility to those who seek protection", he said. The report found that violent crimes motivated by right-wing extremism soared 24 percent last year to 990. Far-right attacks and xenophobic campaigns against refugee homes more than tripled during the same period to 170.

Europe is grappling with a large influx of people fleeing war and poverty in the world's crisis zones. Germany alone took in 200,000 asylum seekers last year and expects as many as 450,000 this year. The sharpest rise since the 1990s wars in the Balkans has been met with racist sentiment in parts of Germany, demonstrated in the rise of the anti-Islam PEGIDA movement in the eastern city of Dresden which peaked at 25,000 protesters early this year. As Germany has struggled to accommodate the newcomers, it has seen a spate of arson attacks against buildings set to house refugees, most recently overnight Sunday in the town of Meissen outside Dresden. In the nearby village of Freital, dozens of protesters have been rallying nightly against a refugee centre. De Maiziere on Tuesday thanked Germans "who tirelessly, often on a volunteer basis, help refugees and welcome them". "We need to address the fears and worries of a small part of the population, the political class must start a dialogue," he said. "But one thing is clear: there is no place for violence and hatred in our society. I condemn the rise in crimes against refugees and asylum seekers in the strongest terms."
© AFP

up  

Germany: Another xenophobic attack: Refugee center set ablaze

28/6/2015- Unidentified suspects set fire to an uninhabited center for asylum seekers in the eastern German town of Meissen, police said Sunday. The building was vacant at the time and a police spokesman said that the fire broke out shortly after midnight on the first floor. A police unit in Leipzig that is responsible for crimes by extremists is handling the investigation. A spokeswoman said that preliminary investigations showed the presence of fire accelerators at two locations in the center, but the fire broke out only in one area. It was also found that the building was broken into. The center is meant to house about 32 asylum seekers in Meissen, which is about 25 kilometers north-west of Dresden. Police were investigating whether right-wing extremists were behind the attack, as their presence was reported in the town the previous evening.

An anti-refugee "homeland security initiative" had called for a "spontaneous gathering" in Meissen on Saturday night. There were protests last week against asylum seekers in the town of Freital, outside Dresden, which the government said was "stoking xenophobia." Some 160 people gathered Wednesday at the entrance to a hotel-turned-refugee center in Freital, jeering and insulting new arrivals, including women and children. The former Hotel Leonardo is home to about 100 asylum seekers, with tensions between the refugees and residents growing for the past several weeks. Germany is facing an unprecedented influx of migrants - mainly from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Serbia and Kosovo - and there have been several attacks on asylum shelters in recent months. About 40 per cent of the 186,000 migrants that registered in the European Union in the first quarter of 2015 are seeking asylum in Germany, according to Eurostat.

There has been a rise in arson attacks this year on asylum seekers' homes. Official data shows that there were 175 racially motivated attacks in Germany in 2014, compared to 58 the year before. In February, a 39-year-old German man set fire to an unoccupied building intended to house asylum seekers in Escheberg. He admitted to the crime and said he was protecting his family from the six Iraqi men that were supposed to take up residence there a day later. In April, six people were injured in a fire at an asylum seekers' home in the eastern city of Chemnitz, then home to 30 residents. Earlier that month, a refugee home in Hamburg was set ablaze. Located in an industrial part of the city, the complex of 16 industrial containers accommodated young refugees who had travelled unaccompanied to Germany. Another fire was set, also in April, at a home intended for asylum seekers in the town of Troeglitz. Troeglitz, in eastern Germany, hit the headlines earlier this year when residents staged protests against the planned asylum seekers' home, which was supposed to house 40 refugees.
© DPA

up  

Turkey: Riot police in Istanbul fired rubber bullets at the gay pride parade

It is being reported that riot police have violently dispersed Istanbul Pride, and arrested participants.

28/6/2015- Riot police in Istanbul used teargas and fired rubber pellets to disperse thousands of participants in the city's Gay Pride march after some began chanting slogans against the president, an AFP reporter said. The scene turned violent when participants -- many brandishing rainbow flags -- denounced "the fascism" of the conservative President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Police then began to forcefully break up the crowd, with some officers firing rubber pellets into the crowd. On a fraught day, pro-government protesters attacked a group of journalists covering the event, including an AFP photographer, causing minor injuries. According to witnesses and the media, police did nothing to stop the attack. Another AFP journalist said she was assaulted by officers when she tried to film the police intervention. Before the march, police closed off access to Taksim Square, the scene of anti-government protests in 2013 -- since which all demonstrations in the area have been banned. This is the 13th edition of the Gay Pride parade in Turkey, which has been held in the past without major incident. Watch footage on YouTube
© AFP

up  

UK Hate Crimes: Foreign conflicts see surge in anti-Semitic and Islamophobic attacks in London

2/7/2015- There has been a massive surge in hate crimes against London's Jewish and Muslim communities, according to figures released on 2 July by the Metropolitan Police. The Islamic State-inspired Charlie Hebdo and Jewish supermarket shootings in Paris and Israel's attack on Gaza in the summer of 2014 were behind the rise, the Met said. The police said that total number of racist and religious hate crimes across London rose by almost 28% in 2014, from 9,965 reported incidents to 12,749.

Anti-Semitic crimes were up 138% from 208 to 495, with boroughs of Brent and Hackney experiencing the biggest increases. A spokesman for the Board of Deputies of British Jews – the community's umbrella body – told IBTimes UK: "While the UK is a good place to be Jewish, we cannot be complacent and these figures show us the challenge society needs to meet. We must do all we can to oppose all forms of hate crime, including anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and other types of racism." Mark Gardner, the spokesman for the Community Security Trust, told IBTimes UK: "These figures will comes no surprise to London's Jewish community, especially with the surge in attacks we witnessed during Israel's Operation Protective Shield. "We need to find a way of preventing conflicts overseas from spilling over into our diverse communities."

The Met classified the number of Islamophobic crimes jumped by more than 47%, from 529 to 778, with the highest rises being in Merton, Islington, Southwark and Westminster. Tell Mama, which measures anti-Muslim attacks, most street attacks, from verbal abuse to actually physical harm, were on females by white males. Fiyaz Mughal, founder of Faith Matters, told the London Evening Standard that attacks included spitting, throwing objects at Muslim women in cars and mosque arson. He said: "There is a level of ignorance in this country, not many people will have spent some good quality time meeting a Muslim. It's imperative that communities understand each other, so go to your local church, mosque or synagogue open day, when there's community events — go to them."

Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer, the Met's head of community engagement, was reported in the Standard as saying: "What communities tell us is the ability to go about their normal business without being subjected to racist, Islamophobic or anti-Semitic behaviour is a key part to playing a full part in our society. "I don't see [abuse] as free speech. It's criminal and will be treated as such."
© The International Business Times - UK

up  

UK: Muslim graves vandalized following Tunisia attack

Around ten Muslim graves have been damaged at a Nottingham cemetery; Nottingham City Council said it was treating the vandalism as a hate crime; Council leader Graham Chapman called it an 'irresponsible act of hatred'; It comes in the wake of the Tunisia terror attack which left 38 people dead

30/6/2015- The desecration of Muslim graves at a Nottingham cemetery is being treated as a hate crime in the wake of the Tunisia terror attack. Nottinghamshire Police have stepped up patrols at High Wood Cemetery in Bulwell and other sites after name plaques and decorative lights on Muslim plots were damaged overnight at the weekend. Nottingham City Council said it was treating the damage to at least ten plots as a hate crime. The council's deputy leader, Graham Chapman, said: 'We totally condemn what has taken place at High Wood Cemetery. 'This irresponsible act of hatred achieves absolutely nothing. 'We will be increasing security at the cemetery and, although we cannot guarantee solving this hate crime, the council will be working with the police to do our utmost to track down the perpetrators.'

Wasim Chaudry, whose mother-in-law's grave was desecrated just three weeks after her death, said he felt 'absolute disbelief' at the damage. The 41-year-old digital communica-tions officer, from Basford, Nottingham, said: 'They broke off the name plate but we got off lightly compared to some of the other graves. 'Some of the others had been trampled on. I just don't know what goes through people's minds. It's unbelievable.' Some of the graves damaged in the cemetery were non-Muslim but the main focus of vandalism was in the Muslim section, police said. Chief Superintendent Mark Holland said the incident was upsetting for the families affected. He said: 'Nottinghamshire Police has been liaising closely with the Muslim community in Nottinghamshire since the events in Tunisia and we have been in close contact following the reports of these events. 'I am sure everyone in Nottinghamshire will be united in their condemnation of these actions and we would urge anyone who knows anything about this incident to contact police immediately.' Anyone with information which could identify those responsible for the damage has been asked to call Nottinghamshire Police on 101.
© The Daily Mail.

up  

UK: School and mosque evacuated after package found 'with wires coming out'

29/6/2015- A school and a mosque have been been evacuated after two suspicious devices with "wires coming out" were discovered this morning, it has been reported. Suitcases containing suspicious devices were discovered early this morning. A caretaker at St Sidwell’s Primary School spotted one case with ‘wires coming out’ shortly before 7am. A second package was discovered nearby shortly afterwards at King William Street car park. Police were called and the school, nearby homes, businesses and a mosque were evacuated. Explosives experts were called to the scene. Inspector Gareth Twigg from Devon and Cornwall Police told the Exeter Express and Echo: “We are aware of and have been dealing with two suspicious packages. One has been made safe by bomb disposal teams. "It wasn’t a controlled explosion, but they’ve got various tactics using air pressure and water pressure. We are in the process of making the second one safe at the moment. “Once that’s done we’ll still be keeping the cordons in place for some time while we complete some searches of the area to make sure it’s completely safe for people to return.” He added that searches of residential properties and businesses would continue this afternoon.
© The Independent

up  

UK: 'F*** the Jews' scrawled outside Jewish primary school... hours before car is vandalised at synagogue

Sickening anti-Semitic graffiti was daubed on the gates of a north London Jewish primary school - the same day as an axeman smashed the windows of a car parked outside a nearby synagogue.

30/6/2015- The two incidents in Stamford Hill are not thought to be related, according to the Shomrim - the area's volunteer Jewish neighbourhood watch group. In the first, which happened yesterday at Simon Marks primary school in Cazenove Road, the words "f*** the Jews" were scrawled in black marker pen across an entrance sign. The graffiti was cleaned off before children arrived at the school, which teaches Jewish youngsters of various denominations and shares a playground with a nearby Muslim free school. "It's disturbing," Shomrim committee supervisor Chaim Hochhauser told the Standard. "They were nasty words. "It's being investigated at the moment - we're checking out CCTV but no one has been caught yet."

The second incident saw a man's car smashed in with an axe as he prayed at the Beth Hamedrash Skver Synagogue in nearby East Bank, a few minutes' walk from the primary school, just hours later. "He parked up his car and walked into the synagogue and he was there for quite a while. "He was notified by some witnesses that a guy with an axe had smashed up his windows." Mr Hochhauser said the vandal, who was allegedly caught on camera by a nearby Shomrim patrol car, did not seem to have been trying to steal the vehicle or anything inside. "He was walking up and down the road with an axe," he said. He added the incidents were unlikely to be connected despite their proximity, and would not be drawn on whether the car smash was thought to have been anti-Semitic in intention. But he urged residents: "Keep an eye open and look out. If you see anything, report it straightaway."
© The London Evening Standard.

up  

UK: London neo-Nazi rally moved after outcry from Jewish leaders and MPs

Police confine ‘anti-Jewification’ demonstration to one hour in central London rather than in 40% Jewish Golders Green

30/6/2015- A neo-Nazi “anti-Jewification” demonstration that was due to take place in Golders Green, north London, on Saturday has been moved out of the area following a robust response from the local community and weeks of pressure from Jewish leaders and MPs. Police said the static demonstration would now be confined to one hour and would take place in central London. Organisers of Golders Green Together (GGT), formed to mobilise the community against the antisemitic protest, welcomed the decision. “This sad little gathering of Nazi admirers was rejected by Golders Green Together, and has now been forced out of Golders Green altogether. Our community and many others stood together in unity, pride and strength and we have won,” said Jonathan Arkush, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

The Community Security Trust, which advises Jewish communities on safety, said the decision sent “a strong message in support for British Jews at a time when fears of antisemitism remain high”. Under the Public Order Act, police have powers to impose restrictions on a demonstration – including its time and location – to prevent a threat to public order or intimidation. There are no powers to ban a static demonstration. Far-right activists had organised their protest for the Jewish sabbath in an area with a 40% Jewish population. They planned to burn copies of the Talmud – the book of Jewish law and tradition – and effigies, in private in order to avoid arrest but filmed for sharing online.

GGT was formed by the Board of Deputies, the London Jewish Forum and Hope Not Hate, an anti-fascist alliance, with the support of other local groups and individuals, including Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Christians. Over recent weeks it has leafleted the area, lobbied MPs and the police, and urged local shops to drape their properties with gold and green banners and ribbons in opposition to the neo-Nazis. More than 40 MPs signed a parliamentary motion raising concerns about the demonstration and praising the community’s response. But the response was not without anxieties. “Of course there is a dilemma about whether we are giving oxygen to the fascists and increasing their capacity to act by our reaction,” said Laura Janner-Klausner, the senior rabbi of Reform Judaism. “But you cannot not react. For so many years Jews were powerless and silenced. Now we are blessed to be in a country where we have an equal voice, so we should use it.”

Dave Rich, of the CST, said: “It’s always a dilemma, whether to ignore or confront. But we’ve seen over the years that ignoring doesn’t always work. Sometimes it’s more important to stand up for a positive set of values.” There has been some strain between the mainstream Jewish organisations in GGT and other groups. Some expressed concerns that a proposed counter-demonstration would attract leftwingers who take a strong line against Israel’s occupation of Palestine. “Everyone’s against [the neo-Nazi demonstration], but they may be against it in different ways,” said one insider. “This is revealing tensions within the community.” Arkush said some of those who were planning to protest against the neo-Nazis had “a discordant message themselves. I fear all extremists, whether from the far right or the far left. They should not be permitted to hijack the agenda and take over the streets.”

Some viewed the neo-Nazi demonstration as a distraction from more significant threats to the Jewish community. “It’s very unpleasant and upsetting, but one shouldn’t forget that the antisemitism that most concerns the majority of UK Jews today comes from Islamic fundamentalism and the [anti-Israel] left,” said Keith Kahn-Harris, co-author of Turbulent Times: the British Jewish Community Today. “The groundswell of effort to mobilise against this demonstration is because it’s relatively straightforward to do so. It’s much more difficult with other forms of antisemitism.” Unease and uncertainty remain high after hostility triggered by last summer’s war in Gaza and Islamist terrorist attacks on Jewish targets in Europe this year. “There’s definitely increased anxiety in the community,” said Esti Hamilton, while shopping in Kay’s kosher supermarket in Golders Green Road. “Is antisemitism on the rise? Is England a safe place for Jews? Every time something like this happens, we all wonder if we have a place here.”

This article was amended on 1 July 2015. It originally quoted Keith Kahn-Harris as saying: “… the antisemitism that concerns us most today comes from Islamic fundamentalism and the [anti-Israel] left”. We have been asked by Kahn-Harris to clarify that he was not speaking on behalf of the UK Jewish community and that not all UK Jews share these concerns. The quote has been amended accordingly. It was further amended to correct the reference to violence against Jewish targets in Europe. These were Islamist terrorists attacks, not Islamic attacks.
© The Guardian

up  

UK: Neo-Nazi rally: man charged with inciting racial hatred

28/6/2015- A man has been charged with inciting racial hatred ahead of a neo-Nazi rally in Golders Green. Joshua Bonehill, of Hudson Road, Yeovil, was arrested by the Metropolitan Police on Thursday. The 22-year-old is to appear at Westminster Magistrates Court on Monday. Far-right groups, including the New Dawn Party, will hold a demonstration against “Jewish privilege” on Saturday, July 4 – the Sabbath - in the Jewish area of Golders Green. Faith groups, MPs and members of the public have all vowed to take a standard against the "agressive" event. A statement from the Metropolitan Police said: "Officers continue to assess all information and intelligence available in relation to the proposed demonstration and speak with the organisers to ensure an appropriate policing response is in place. "We are aware of concerns in the local community about the negative impact this proposed demonstration may have on them. "We are working with residents to ensure that people can exercise their rights in a way that is lawful, while minimising this impact."
© The Times Series - Golders Green

up  

UK: UKIP official forced to delete racists FB posts after sharing them

Gordon Parkin said he shared the posts by accident and has now removed them from his Facebook timeline

28/6/2015- A senior UKIP official has been forced to delete racists Facebook posts after claiming he accidentally shared them to his followers. Mr Parkin, who is assistant to North East Euro MP Jonathan Arnott and who has himself stood for Parliament, shared a series of images by the far-right groups Britain First and The New Daily Patriot on Facebook. One post depicts Enoch Powell - the politician who made the notoriously racist “rivers of blood” speech in 1968 - next to the House of Commons alongside the words “I told you so...”. He also shared an image of women wearing the niqab which said “share if you find this offensive”. Another from Britain First, a group which opposes what it calls the “Islamifica-tion of the UK” and was founded by a member of the BNP, claims schools who choose to stock halal meat are “wrong”. Mr Parkin, who is a powerful official in the regional party and sits on panels that assess UKIP’s potential General Election candidates, told the Sunday Sun he accidentally shared them on the social networking site and has now deleted them.

When told about the posts Mr Arnott confirmed he had met with Mr Parkin about the matter but said no disciplinary proceedings were under way. Mr Arnott said: “Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention. I am now looking in to this, and will be consulting with the party authorities before any decisions are taken.” Mr Parkin is a long-standing member of the party and his high-ranking role means he helps members to form and shut down branches. He also stood to represent the North East in the European Parliament in 2009 for the party and ran for a Westminster seat in the Stockton North constituency in 2010. He said: “Anyone who knows me knows that I do not hold the views expressed in those pictures. It’s so easy on Facebook to accidentally click ‘share’ and a post appears on your timeline. If only I’d noticed these were on my timeline by mistake, I’d have deleted them straightaway. Look at these posts, you’ll see there is no engagement or comment from me.

“As a gay man, I know all about discrimination and prejudice, and would never intentionally upset anyone. I’ve visited local mosques in my UKIP role, I work to drive down division not stir it up, and have nothing but respect for my colleagues of all ethnic backgrounds. “Sadly, modern politics is a dirty game: someone motivated by hatred has trawled back over two and a half years on my Facebook and found three errors. Let he who has mis-clicked ‘share’ throw the first stone.” The news will be a blow for Mr Arnott, who is a close ally of Mr Parkin’s and who played a key role in attempting to clean up the party, even helping to write a rule book which specifically bans members from having links to organisa-tions like the BNP.

Labour says the posts expose UKIP as a “really nasty party” that is “built on a bedrock of racism and xenophobia”. MEP for the North East Jude Kirton-Darling said: “It is disappointing to hear that a UKIP member of staff has been sharing racist and unpleasant messages on Facebook. “UKIP are trying to paint themselves as a more respectable party but it’s just paper thin. You only have to scratch beneath the surface to reveal a really nasty party. We’ve seen things like this time and again with UKIP claiming gay marriage caused flooding. It’s too easy to dismiss UKIP as a joke when you hear things like that but their core values are based on creating division between people and that’s no laughing matter. “I spoke to a broad range of people on the doorstep who were going to vote UKIP at this election for a whole range of reasons but what people have to know is they’re voting for a party built on a bedrock of racism and xenophobia, no matter how respectable UKIP pretend to be.”
© The Chronicle Live

up  

Czech Rep: Thousands of Czechs denounce racism, xenophobia

Thousands of people today supported an open letter from the Stop Hatred group denouncing racism and xenophobia in Czech society, published by the activists on their web site.

3/7/2015- They turn to Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (both Social Democrats, CSSD) with the demand that as government representatives they should clearly condemn hateful and anti-constitutional manifestations of opponents of migration. The group also wants to show that Czech society is not indifferent to hateful signs. Some 700 people attended a demonstration against immigrants and quotas for their redistribution across Europe and for the departure from the EU at the Wenceslas Square in Prague's heart on July 1. In their march, the demonstrators shouted the slogans "Czech Lands to Czechs," "We Are the Nation" and "This is Our Home." The participants warned of the "hordes of horny blacks" and put up fake gallows for "traitors." They said high treason was committed by some Czech politicians, most notably Sobotka.

"In connection with the possible acceptation of refugees, a wave of hatred is spreading in our country," Stop Hatred spokeswoman Apolena Rychlikova has said. Rychlikova said Czech society was aggressive against the refugees. This was evidenced by the petition of the Bloc Against Islam group, led by Martin Konvicka, she added. "In a relatively short time, Konvicka's petition was signed by 150,000 people," she added. Earlier today, twelve senators from the opposition asked the government to react to the hateful behaviour of the opponents of migration.
© Ceske Noviny.

up  

Czech Rep: Zeman says accepting refugees plays into the hands of IS

28/6/2015- The accepting of migrants largely facilitates Islamic State's (IS) expansion to Europe, Czech President Milos Zeman said in an interview with Parlamentni listy.cz server, adding that all U.N. Security Council standing members must be persuaded of the need to intervene against IS. Zeman has long been pushing for a military action against IS. He has also supported the Facebook Initiative We Do not Want Islam in the Czech Republic. "If European countries accept a wave of migrants, there will be terrorist groups among them, of which also a Libyan minister has warned. By accepting the migrants, we strongly facilitate Islamic State's expansion to Europe," Zeman said. Thousands of refugees from Libya, where militant Islamist groups operate, some of which have promised loyalty to Islamic State, have been heading for Europe across the Mediterranean over the past weeks. Zeman has repeatedly warned of accepting refugees from the Middle East and Africa by the Czech Republic.

Zeman said IS is an organisation with many branches that have already more or less got control of Libya, and they partially dominate Afghanistan, Iraq, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, too. With terrorist attacks like those in Tunisia and Kuwait on Friday, IS branches are preparing for getting control of other countries, Zeman said. On Friday, Zeman said IS must be fought by destroying its bases. "Unfortunately, due to the cowardice, stupidity of a number of civilised countries that have not been ready to create the international forces, several more hundreds, if not thousands of innocent people will die," Zeman told the server. Zeman plans to present his proposal for a joint action against IS at the U.N.General Assembly session in September. He said Russian President Vladimir Putin has already expressed agreement with the proposal. "Other U.N. Security Council standing members must still be persuaded. The Chinese President (Xi Jinping) has told me that he is already negotiating about cooperation with (U.S.) President (Barack) Obama. Unfortunately, Western Europe is most heavily poisoned with appeasement," Zeman said.

He compared the current stance of the West on IS to its approach to Hitler before World War Two. Zeman supported the activities of the Initiative We Do Not Want Islam in the Czech Republic. "Me, too, I do not want Islam in the Czech Republic," he said. At the same time, he dismissed the criticism of his statements on Islam, contained in the U.S. State Department's report that annually assesses the attitude to human rights in individual countries of the world.
© The Prague Daily Monitor

up  

Czech Rep. anti-immigration and Islam protests turn violent

27/6/2015- Hundreds of far right supporters have rallied against immigration and Islam in the Czech Republic's second largest city Brno, while others gathered nearby in support of immigration. The rally follows a similar demonstration in the Slovak capital of Bratislava today which turned violent. They reflect the rising tensions surrounding immigration Europe, even in countries that have not been significantly hit by the recent wave of asylum-seekers. Riot police separated the groups and were pelted with objects such as beer cans and bottles by the anti-migrants protesters. Tomas Vandas, the leader of the far right Workers Party of Social Justice condemned the decision of EU leaders to relocate 40,000 migrants from Italy and Greece in Europe and demanded they are sent back to their countries of origin.
© The Associated Press

up  

Council of Europe Calls on Spain to Introduce Laws to Combat Discrimination

30/6/2015- The Council of Europe called on Spain to pass “new and comprehensive anti-discrimination laws” to combat prejudices against Jews, Roma and other minority groups. The Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities said such laws would make Spain “safer for migrants and Roma people.” In its report on Spain, the committee said “prejudice and intolerance against Roma, as well as islamophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance against migrants, continue to be expressed, notably in the print and audiovisual media and on the Internet, as well as in political life.” Spain should “ensure that all alleged cases of hate speech, including those committed on the internet and in the print and audiovisual media, are effectively investigated, prosecuted and sanctioned,” said the committee.

The Council’s call came after the lower Spanish parliament approved a law that would allow Jews claiming Sephardi lineage to apply for citizenship, paving the way for final legislation. Earlier this month, The Algemeiner reported on a recent column in a prominent Spanish newspaper that accused a “Jewish lobby” of exerting inordinate influence on the FC Barcelona soccer club. Both the newspaper, Mundo Deportivo, and columnist Xavier Bosch denied accusations of antisemitism. Also, a newly appointed Spanish official in the capital Madrid was forced to step down this month over an antisemitic “joke” he tweeted several years ago.

According to the Stephen Ruth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism, media antisemitism in Spain occurs at a level that would be considered unacceptable in other European countries. The Council of Europe is an independent intergovernmental body aimed at promoting European cooperation over human rights issues and upholding democratic standards. It functions outside the EU.
© The Algemeiner

up  

European Parl. Com. holds hearing on anti-Semitism, islamophobia and hate speech

The European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee held a hearing on the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, a move welcomed by the American Jewish Committee Transatlantic Institute.

30/6/2015- “We are pleased that the Committee convened this hearing and hope this will be only a first step in the Parliament’s renewed efforts to combat anti-Semitism, which is not only a threat to Jews but an assault on Europe’s core values," said Daniel Schwammenthal, Director of the AJC Transatlantic Institute. “Even before the recent spate of murderous terror attacks on Jewish targets, we have urged the Committee to investigate the sources of this resurgent hatred and identify policy options to combat it,” Schwammenthal said. Among the speakers on the panel was Jonathan Biermann, a prominent member of the Brussels Jewish community and Deputy Mayor of the Uccle commune in Brussels.

Biermann told MEPs ament that many Belgian Jews he knows are actively researching possible countries for emigration. "Europe must act now," Biermann said, urging governments to provide for the physical security of Jewish communities and appoint a special envoy and task force on anti-Semitism. Robin Sclafani, Director of CEJI, an NGO working in the field of diversity education and anti-discrimination advocacy, highlighted the nexus between radical Islam and anti-Semitism. "Violence against Jews in Western Europe is mostly perpetrated by Muslims," Sclafani testified. "We need to draw the line between legitimate criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism," she added, pointing out that when Israel is demonized, delegitimized or treated with a double standard, the line has been crossed.

During the debate, Swedish Liberal MEP Cecilia Wikström, Vice Chair of the European Parliament's Working Group on Anti-Semitism, said Europe needs to address "the rise Specifically noteworthy were the calls by MEPs for an open and honest discussion on the sources of anti-Semitism. Schwammenthal noted that given the specific problem of jihadism and anti-Semitism within elements of the Muslim community, the discussion would have been even more productive had the panel included a reformist Muslim voice. “There are many courageous European Muslims whose testimony on the dimension of the problem and advise on concrete policy steps to counter radicalization would have been of great value,” he said.

One such important Muslim thinker, Haras Rafiq, Director of the Quilliam Foundation, spoke on a following panel officially dealing with anti-Muslim hatred. "Anti-Semitism is the opium of Islamism," he told MEPs. AJC has long maintained that the frequency and severity of anti-Semitic incidents would have warranted a single-focused hearing on anti-Semitism. Instead, while the Parliament committee opened the hearing with a discussion of anti-Semitism, two separate panels followed, one dealing with anti-Muslim discrimination and the other with hate speech in general. “The sources, manifestations and ideological background of anti-Semitism differ significantly from racism and discrimination against other minorities,” Schwammenthal said. “Separate hearings on these issues would have allowed Members of Parliament to develop a deeper understanding of each problem and to spend more time on specific policy recommendations.”

Since the Toulouse attacks in 2012, Islamist terrorists have murdered 13 people in anti-Jewish attacks in France, Belgium and Denmark. anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise throughout much of Europe, doubling last year in France and the U.K. from already high levels.
© EJP News

up  

Headlines 26 June, 2015

Kyrgyz Anti-Gay Propaganda Law Moves Forward

Human rights advocates say the Kyrgyz version has harsher punishments than the Russian law it was based on

26/6/2015- Kyrgyzstan’s parliament voted Wednesday 90 to 2 in favor of a proposed bill that would punish “propaganda of non-traditional sexual orientation” with jail terms. The bill has now passed two of three mandatory readings before it can be sent to President Almazbek Atambayev for signature into law. The third reading is expected in the fall before parliamentary elections scheduled for October. Along with the ‘foreign agents’ law that passed its first reading earlier this month, the so-called ‘anti-gay propaganda’ law is seen by human rights organizations as a serious step backwards for a country long praised as a beacon of civil society in the region.

The Kyrgyz law was first proposed in March 2014, and resembles a Russian law, passed in 2013 that bans the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors” and imposes heavy fines on individuals who do. The Kyrgyz version, the Human Rights Campaign warns, “mandates even harsher punishments, including jail time, for expressing sentiments that could ‘create a positive attitude to unconventional sexual orientation.’” In addition, social pressure on members of the LGBT community have been on the rise–in May anti-gay nationalists crashed a gathering held to mark International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, while a report from Human Rights Watch last year chronicled the torture of gay men by police in Kyrgyzstan.



In October, the proposed law passed its first reading 79 to 7. While opposition in parliament has shrunk, there remains some opposition to it in the country. In March, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz service reported that the Minister of Justice, Jyldyz Mambetalieva, said both the ‘foreign agents’ law and the ‘anti-gay propaganda’ law violated human rights. Kyrgyzstan, with the most vibrant civil society in the region, has local LGBT advocacy groups that are pushing back against the law. Incidentally, these are the same organizations targeted by the foreign agents’ law which would increase reporting burdens on NGOs & civil society organizations that have foreign sources of funding.



In February when the second reading was originally scheduled, Labrys, a Bishkek-based group, seemed, in part, resigned to the law passing and focused on pressing for a veto by the president: Although the chances that the Parliament will strike down the draft law in its second and third hearings are very slim, there is hope that the President of the Kyrgyz Republic, who is the guarantor of the Kyrgyz Constitution, will use his power of veto to stop the draft law.



24.kg reported that one of the bill’s co-sponsors, Kurmanbek Dyikanbaev, said that “we defend traditional values ​​of the family. This unit of society is the guarantee of protection of our laws and international conventions. We must honor our customs and traditions, which are alien to non-traditional relationships.” In late May, Kazakhstan’s Constitutional Court quietly rejected a bill that would have banned “propaganda of homosexuality among minors” on grounds that it included vague language. Most observers tied this move to Kazakhstan’s bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics. The International Olympic Committee adopted a new agenda early this year which, among other things, reworded one of the “Fundamental Principles of Olympism” to include sexual orientation in its non-discrimination clause.



According to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association same-sex relations have been legal in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan since 1998–though none allow same-sex unions, marriages, or adoptions. Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan criminalize sexual relations between men, but do not mention women, and allow prison sentences up to two, and three, years respectively for “homosexual acts.”
© The Diplomat Magazine
up  

Macedonia Gays Charge Govt With Homophobia

As part of Gay Pride Week in Skopje, Macedonia, gay activists are protesting in front of the government headquarters, accusing officials of ignoring homophobic violence

26/6/2015- Macedonian gay rights activists on Thursday laid a funeral wreath in front of the government headquarters to symbolically "bury" the embattled government of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski. Slavco Dimitrov, one of the activists, told the protest meeting that the government routinely turned a blind eye to anti-gay violence. "Two years ago, when we started Pride Week... some 40 masked people attacked us in the presence of the police. Since then, the government has not taken a single step to apprehend the culprits," he said. "The education system also remains a source of homophobia, conservative and patriarchal values," Dimitrov added. Activists announced a similar protest with the same message on Friday in front of the State Prosecutor's office. Pride Week in Skopje will also include awareness-raising and educational workshops as well as a lesbian picnic in Skopje City Park and a free HIV testing.

The third Pride Week in the Macedonian capital takes place against a backdrop of unresolved attacks on LGBT people. At least ten such attacks, attributed to homopho-bia, remain unsolved. Last October, hooded hooligans tried to wreck the second birthday party of the LGBT community centre in Skopje, vandalizing the Damar cafe in the Old Bazaar area, where the event took place. A woman was injured when hooligans threw a bottle at her head. In June 2013, a group of hooligans virtually demo-lished the LGBT centre in Skopje, following the city's first Skopje Gay Pride Week. Video footage showed a group of violent youngsters committing the crime, but the police never found the culprits. Gay rights activists insist that the sluggish response on the part of the authorities creates an impression that violence seen as legitimate.

The crimes concerned “a group of people that could easily be traced if the police had the will to do so”, Dragana Drndarevska, from Sexual and Health Rights of Marginalized Communities, an NGO, told BIRN. The authorities insist that they remain engaged in solving the attacks. “We are available to check any new information that would help us solve this case,” police spokesperson Ivo Kotevski told BIRN, asked about the 2013 attack on the LGBT centre. The ruling VMRO DPMNE party of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski is not seen as gay-friendly, however. An annual report by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, Rainbow Europe Index, has for years ranked Macedonia among the worst countries in the Balkans when it comes to legal protection for gays.

Local and international rights groups complain of frequent hostile remarks by ministers and officials. They also note that Macedonia’s anti-discrimination law, adopted in 2010, does not offer protection against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. The Macedonian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights also says the authorities either ignore or conceal crimes inspired by ethnic, religious or gender-related hatred.
© Balkan Insight

up  

Italy: Sardinia's poor give all to refugees

Italy's wealthy north may have tired of asylum seekers, but in one of the poorest regions of Sardinia locals are giving everything to clothe and feed refugee families.

26/6/2015- Standing amid piles of shoes, t-shirts, pyjamas and baby bibs, Susanna Steri describes how she had to ask the inhabitants of Carbonia to stop bringing dona-tions for the 90-odd men, women and children from Sierra Leone and Nigeria. "We only had a few hours notice to prepare," Steri told AFP, describing the weekend of May 30, after distress calls madefrom 22 boats in the Mediterranean led to the rescue of 4,200 migrants, and the discovery of 17 bodies. Steri was told that of the 900 people being brought to the island, the ENAP centre -- once used to teach youngsters traditional trades -- would be receiving 90 in need of emergency housing, inclu-ding a four month-old baby. Just a few kilometres inland from golden beaches where tourists dock their yachts to paddle in crystal waters, the unemployed rolled their sleeves up. "It's difficult to describe what happened, the real difficulty was finding place for all the volunteers, not the migrants," she said, as another local couple arrived bearing boxes full of biscuits, baby food, fruit and milk. The collapse of the area's coal mining industry, followed in 2012 by the closure of the Alcoa aluminium smelter, has driven youth unemployment in the Carbonia-Iglesias province in south-west Sardinia to a towering 73.9 percent.

Doing the impossible
But while Lombardy, Veneto and Liguria in the country's wealthy north refuse to take in any more migrants -- with rich Val d'Aosta accepting just 62 - locals here are buying the refugees cigarettes and phone cards out of their own pockets. The centre expects to receive 35 euros ($39) a day per migrant from the state, including two euros for pocket money, but pensioner Giulio Cadeddu, ex-financial policeman turned volunteer, says red tape means they won't see a cent for months. "We're trying to do the impossible, how could we not for such sweet creatures?" he says looking at a grinning Fatima, who celebrated her first birthday here, and whose colourful balloons still adorn the dining room.

Nearby, seven-year old twins from Sierra Leone wolf down pasta and chips and chatter excitedly as translators tell them plans are underway for volunteers to put on a summer party in the garden, complete with inflatable games and a clown. The town's 30,000 inhabitants know the challenges of starting life somewhere new: Carbonia was built by Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini in 1938 to house coal miners, and many of its residents hail from Puglia, Sicily and Veneto. The asylum seekers are being absorbed into the local poor, Steri has a deal with priest Don Amilcare, who prepares 200 meals for the local needy. If either group has leftover bread, fish or other foodstuffs, they are shared out. A washing room in the centre is crammed with bottles of donated shampoos, shower gels, soaps, toothpaste tubes andnappies.

By God's grace
But despite their efforts, many of the refugees are unhappy, believing they would be better off on the mainland in big cities where they could look for work. "The people here are the most wonderful I have ever met in my life," said 32-year old Rosalin from Nigeria, who fled Maiduguri for Libya when jihadist group Boko Harem bombed her shop, and paid a trafficker for a place with her family on a dinghy headed for Italy. "My husband died during the crossing. I am pregnant and it is by the grace of God that we are here. But I need a transfer to a place that is more developed," she said, as her brothers-in-law spent another day doing nothing.

Lamin Johnny, a 35-year old from Sierra Leone who is married to one of Rosalin's sisters, said he had "looked for work since we arrived, but nothing". Of the 90 migrants originally brought to the centre, only 48 remain, and the others are believed to have headed off in search of places with better prospects -- no mean feat in Italy, a country struggling to shake off a profound recession. It is a situation with which the unemployed factory workers from the Alcoaplant sympathise, though even they have pitched in with caring for their new neighbours. "And why wouldn't they? It's only the rich who are afraid of losing, the poor have nothing to fear," Steri said.
© The Local - Italy

up  

Italian mayor calls migrant crisis 'genocide'

Failing to provide asylum seekers with safe passage to the EU while hundreds die at sea is tantamount to genocide, a mayor on the frontline of the crisis warned on Thursday.

25/6/2015- "We're living a genocide, and in a few years we Europeans risk being found responsible," Palermo's mayor Leoluca Orlando said in reference to the 1,800 or so people who have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean by boat this year. Orlando said Europe should make it easier for asylum seekers to apply for refugee status outside the EU, after which they could enter the bloc legally rather than having to place their fate in the hands of people traffickers. "If Syrians, coming from a country at war, have the immediate right to refugee status, why stop them taking a plane ticket from Istanbul to Paris, for example, and oblige them to go via Libya and the Mediterranean sea?" he asked. Orlando, whose city in the north west of Sicily has had to deal with a fair number of the over 60,000 people who have arrived in Italy so far this year, said many of the tales migrants have to tell were hair-raising. "The stories told by survivors who make it to Sicily resemble the accounts told by survivors of Dachau and Auschwitz (concentration camps)," he said.

Orlando was in Rome for a meeting between Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and the country's regional heads on the question of giving shelter to migrants, after areas of the rich north in particular said they refused to take in any more migrants. Renzi called for "ethical and reasonable" solutions to the problem, saying refugees must be cared for and economic migrants quickly expelled -- without explaining how the country would speed up its identification processes. The talks were slammed as a waste of time by the president of the Lombardy region, Roberto Maroni, who told his Northern League anti-immigration party that "the chaos continues". His counterpart in the Veneto region, Luca Zaia, called on his prefects "not to answer the phone anymore when the government rings."
© The Local - Italy

up  

Switzerland: Anti-immigration party remains most popular

The right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) remains the most popular political party in Switzerland, according to the latest polling figures released this week ahead of next autumn’s national elections.

25/6/2015- The SVP has the backing of 26.1 percent of the people, according to the results released on Wednesday of a survey conducted by the gfs.bern institute. That’s down slightly from 26.2 percent in March but still well ahead of the Socialist party (19.3 percent, down from 19.6 percent), the second most popular party in the country. The centre-right Liberals, meanwhile, showed the greatest growth in support at 17.1 percent (up from 16.3 percent), with their credentials backed by a belief that they are best placed to manage the Swiss economy. Backing for the Liberals is two percentage points ahead of the support it received in the 2011 national elec-tions. 
Support for other centrist and left-wing parties dropped, with Christian Democrats at 11.5 percent (down from 11.8 percent), the Greens at 7.4 percent (down from 7.5 percent) and the Green Liberals at 4.8 percent (down from 5.6 percent). The Conservative Democratic Party (BDP) fell to 4.4 percent from 4.6 percent, with media reports suggesting that federal cabinet minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, a member of the party, faces a challenge getting re-elected.

The BDP was initially formed by disgruntled SVP members from the cantons of Graubünden and Bern. Widmer-Schlumpf joined the fledgling party after being expelled from the SVP when she accepted an election to the federal cabinet in 2007 that was not supported by the SVP. She subsequently went on to serve as president in 2012.
The Swiss People’s Party, with its nationalist policies and support for immigration restrictions, remains popular at a time when the issue of immigration and asylum seekers is the biggest concern of voters, according to another survey by gfs.bern. The survey results, released by state broadcaster SSR on Wednesday night, showed the issue is the top concern of 34 percent of Swiss. This ranks well ahead of relations with the European Union (10 percent) and the environment (five percent). The SVP is identified as the party with the best competence to deal with asylum seekers and immigration. “We identified this problem before the others and the citizens know it,” Claude-Alain Voiblet, SVP vice-president told the Tribune de Genève newspaper. The SVP spearheaded a popular initiative, approved in a national vote in February 2014, to cap immigration from the European Union.

© The Local - Switzerland

up  

Hungary sounds the alarm about new front in EU's migrant crisis

26/6/2015- It's a long way from the beaches of Greece and Italy where shipwrecked migrants drag themselves ashore, but in the fields of Hungary a migration crisis is playing out that in its scale is no less dramatic than the scenes in the Mediterranean. In the first six months of this year, the number of migrants crossing into the European Union via Hungary's border with Serbia reached at least 61,000, overtaking even the number arriving in Italy. In recognition of the new front in Europe's migrant crisis, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban - a man regularly greeted as "dictator" by the European Commission chief - was allowed this week to opt out of an EU deal on taking in migrants. "People hate Viktor Orban on human rights. But on this, he has a good point," said one EU official close to talks on migration among EU heads of government that dragged into the early hours of Friday. The summit also committed to organizing a major conference to look at migration in the western Balkans. "This does not involve people on boats or on beaches and so it gets less media attention," said a senior EU official closely involved in the negotiations. "But it is a serious problem."

Still, critics of Orban at home say that while the crisis is real, with a third of the EU's new asylum seekers registering in Hungary this year, he has played it up to appeal to anti-immigrant sentiment among his supporters and to try to rescue his dwindling popularity. Orban has ordered the construction of a fence on the Hungarian-Serbian border to keep illegal migrants out, he has threatened to pull out of EU rules on accepting asylum seekers, and his government has put up billboards warning migrants they have to fit in with Hungarian culture. EU rules theoretically can allow asylum seekers to be sent back to the country where they first entered the bloc, although so far only small numbers have been transferred under this rule. Orban's chief of staff on Thursday said other EU states were preparing to transfer 200,000 migrants to Hungary by the end of this year, but the government has not spelled how this could happen under any existing or planned program.

This week's EU deal involves resettling 60,000 migrants across the entire bloc and explicitly exempts Hungary from taking them. Another program allows migrants to be sent back to the first EU state they set foot in, but the numbers sent back to Hungary under that scheme have been in the hundreds. Marta Pardavi, co-chair of Hungary's Helsinki Committee, a human rights group that works with migrants, said Orban's focus was not on finding a practical solution to Europe's migrant crisis but going it alone by taking drastic measures, and on appealing to disaffected voters. "We do see that the messages the government and Mr Orban are voicing are resonating with the public," she said. "Xenophobia is certainly on the rise."

Overflowing Camp
The town of Bicske, a 40 minute drive west of Budapest, is temporary home for some of Hungary's migrants. On the outskirts of the town, next to a large Tesco supermarket, is a camp for asylum seekers. On the roadside nearby is a large billboard with a message, in Hungarian: "If you come to Hungary you must respect our laws." People coming out of the camp on Thursday said it was full to over-flowing. They said people were sleeping in tents and in the camp's sports hall. One man said he had to share a room with 11 other people. Another man, a 20-year-old called Muslim, said he had come to Europe to escape the Taliban in Afghanistan. Some local residents view the new arrivals with suspicion. "They should just go home," said Andras, who was shopping at a Tesco supermarket. "We're not rich here either." Migration officials say most of those arriving in Hungary make the sea crossing to Greece, then travel overland into Macedonia, then Serbia, and across into Hungary along the border where Orban plans to build a fence.

According to Frontex, the agency responsible for guarding the EU's external borders, the numbers recorded crossing the Serbia-Hungary border in May this year were up 880 percent on the same period last year. Hungarian officials say they are overwhelmed. "We cannot give them blankets and beds. We have even run out of tents," said Lajos Kosa, vice president of Hungary's governing Fidesz party. He denied the government was seeking political gain. "We are driven by the country's interests," he said.

Moving On
The vast majority of migrants who enter Hungary don't stay. Instead, they head as soon as possible to the border with Austria and on to destinations further north. At the end of last year, Hungary had 8,551 resident refugees or asylum seekers, or 0.18 percent of its population, according to the United Nations. By contrast, the number for Sweden, a favored destination for migrants, was 226,158, or 2.3 percent of the population. Arpad Szep, a director at the Hungarian government's immigration office, said of the 60,000 applications for asylum this year, more than 50,000 cases were dropped because the applicants had disappeared. "A significant number of them don't arrive at the reception centers, so we assume that they leave the country within 24 hours of submitting the asylum application," he said. For most of the migrants who pass the time by trudging to the Tesco store from their camp in Bicske, the town was just a stopping-off point. Adeel Mushtaq, a 26-year-old Pakistani, said most of his fellow camp residents were preparing to head on to Germany, Italy, or Austria. Another man, who gave his name as Hakaan, said he wants to catch a train to Italy. "Here it's not good," he said.
© Reuters

up  

USA: Homegrown Extremists Tied to Deadlier Toll Than Jihadists Since 9/11

24/6/2015- In the 14 years since Al Qaeda carried out attacks on New York and the Pentagon, extremists have regularly executed smaller lethal assaults in the United States, explaining their motives in online manifestoes or social media rants. But the breakdown of extremist ideologies behind those attacks may come as a surprise. Since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims: 48 have been killed by extremists who are not Muslim, including the recent mass killing in Charleston, S.C., compared with 26 by self-proclaimed jihadists, according to a count by New America, a Washington research center.

The slaying of nine African-Americans in a Charleston church last week, with an avowed white supremacist charged with their murders, was a particularly savage case. But it is only the latest in a string of lethal attacks by people espousing racial hatred, hostility to government and theories such as those of the “sovereign citizen” movement, which denies the legitimacy of most statutory law. The assaults have taken the lives of police officers, members of racial or religious minorities and random civilians. Non-Muslim extremists have carried out 19 such attacks since Sept. 11, according to the latest count, compiled by David Sterman, a New America program associate, and overseen by Peter Bergen, a terrorism expert. By comparison, seven lethal attacks by Islamic militants have taken place in the same period.

If such numbers are new to the public, they are familiar to police officers. A survey to be published this week asked 382 police and sheriff’s departments nationwide to rank the three biggest threats from violent extremism in their jurisdiction. About 74 percent listed antigovernment violence, while 39 percent listed “Al Qaeda-inspired” violence, according to the researchers, Charles Kurzman of the University of North Carolina and David Schanzer of Duke University. “Law enforcement agencies around the country have told us the threat from Muslim extremists is not as great as the threat from right-wing extremists,” said Dr. Kurzman, whose study is to be published by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security and the Police Executive Research Forum.

John G. Horgan, who studies terrorism at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, said the mismatch between public perceptions and actual cases had become steadily more obvious to scholars. “There’s an acceptance now of the idea that the threat from jihadi terrorism in the United States has been overblown,” Dr. Horgan said. “And there’s a belief that the threat of right-wing, antigovernment violence has been underestimated.” Counting terrorism cases is a subjective enterprise, relying on shifting definitions and judgment calls. If terrorism is defined as ideological violence, for instance, should an attacker who has merely ranted about religion, politics or race be considered a terrorist? A man in Chapel Hill, N.C., who was charged with fatally shooting three young Muslim neighbors had posted angry critiques of religion, but he also had a history of outbursts over parking issues. (New America does not include this attack in its count.)

Likewise, what about mass killings in which no ideological motive is evident, such as those at a Colorado movie theater and a Connecticut elementary school in 2012? The criteria used by New America and most other research groups exclude such attacks, which have cost more lives than those clearly tied to ideology. Some killings by non-Muslims that most experts would categorize as terrorism have drawn only fleeting news media coverage, never jelling in the public memory. But to revisit some of the episodes is to wonder why. In 2012, a neo-Nazi named Wade Michael Page entered a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and opened fire, killing six people and seriously wounding three others. Mr. Page, who died at the scene, was a member of a white supremacist group called the Northern Hammerskins.

In another case, in June 2014, Jerad and Amanda Miller, a married couple with radical antigovernment views, entered a Las Vegas pizza restaurant and fatally shot two police officers who were eating lunch. On the bodies, they left a swastika, a flag inscribed with the slogan “Don’t tread on me” and a note saying, “This is the start of the revolution.” Then they killed a third person in a nearby Walmart. And, as in the case of jihadist plots, there have been sobering close calls. In November 2014 in Austin, Tex., a man named Larry McQuilliams fired more than 100 rounds at government buildings that included the Police Headquarters and the Mexican Consulate. Remarkably, his shooting spree hit no one, and he was killed by an officer before he could try to detonate propane cylinders he drove to the scene.

Some Muslim advocates complain that when the perpetrator of an attack is not Muslim, news media commentators quickly focus on the question of mental illness. “With non-Muslims, the media bends over backward to identify some psychological traits that may have pushed them over the edge,” said Abdul Cader Asmal, a retired physician and a longtime spokesman for Muslims in Boston. “Whereas if it’s a Muslim, the assumption is that they must have done it because of their religion.” On several occasions since President Obama took office, efforts by government agencies to conduct research on right-wing extremism have run into resistance from Republicans, who suspected an attempt to smear conservatives. A 2009 report by the Department of Homeland Security, which warned that an ailing economy and the election of the first black president might prompt a violent reaction from white supremacists, was withdrawn in the face of conservative criticism. Its main author, Daryl Johnson, later accused the department of “gutting” its staffing for such research.

William Braniff, the executive director of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland, said the outsize fear of jihadist violence reflected memories of Sept. 11, the daunting scale of sectarian conflict overseas and wariness of a strain of Islam that seems alien to many Americans. “We understand white supremacists,” he said. “We don’t really feel like we understand Al Qaeda, which seems too complex and foreign to grasp.” The contentious question of biased perceptions of terrorist threats dates back at least two decades, to the truck bombing that tore apart the federal building in Oklahoma City in April 1995. Some early news media speculation about the attack assumed that it had been carried out by Muslim militants. The arrest of Timothy J. McVeigh, an antigovernment extremist, quickly put an end to such theories.

The bombing, which killed 168 people, including 19 children, remains the second-deadliest terrorist attack in American history, though its toll was dwarfed by the roughly 3,000 killed on Sept 11. “If there’s one lesson we seem to have forgotten 20 years after Oklahoma City, it’s that extremist violence comes in all shapes and sizes,” said Dr. Horgan, the University of Massachusetts scholar. “And very often, it comes from someplace you’re least suspecting.”
© The New York Times

up  

Germany: Anti-refugee marchers hurl insults and bottles

One person was injured in fighting after demonstrators gathered outside a former hotel in Saxony for the third night in a row to demonstrate against its use as refugee accommodation.

25/6/2015- Police said that 160 people gathered in Freital, on the outskirts of Dresden, to reject the presence of refugees in their town. A new group of around 50 asylum seekers had to enter the hotel while confronted with the signs and shouted slogans of people who didn't want them there. Spiegel reported that the demonstrators were chanting “Criminal foreigners – out, out, out!”. Justice Minister Heiko Maas weighed in on Thursday morning to say that "calls for violence against refugees are completely unacceptable". "The refugees who come to us have lost everything in their homeland" and are looking for help and sanctuary, Maas added. Opposite the anti-refugee marchers, around 80 mostly left-wing demonstrators gathered, saying they were on the scene to prevent any attacks against the refugees.

The two sides were kept apart by around 100 police officers. But the tension got out of hand in the late evening, when the anti-refugee demonstrators threw bottles at the left-wingers, injuring one man slightly. Police said they had not immediately identified who threw the bottles. "It's important to me to say clearly that a call for violence against refugees is in no way acceptable," Migration Commissioner Aydan Özoguz told the Berliner Zeitung on Thursday. "This stirs completely awful memories." Saxony's own immigration chief Geert Mackenroth said that “some of the expressions of the ringleaders contain calls to violence, at least between the lines". Freital has in the past been a stronghold of the Pegida anti-Islam movement. Pegida leader Lutz Bachmann was one of the people to call for a demonstration against the refugee accommodation.
© The Local - Germany

up  

Portugal: First national Gypsy Roma survey released

24/6/2015- Portuguese Roma have little formal education, marry young, mainly work in fairs, many are unemployed and get basic social security benefits, a new study has shown.
First national Gypsy Roma survey released The data is in the first nation study of the community ordered by the High Commissioner of Migrations, which interviewed almost 1,600 Gypsies throughout Portugal last year. The study coordinator told Lusa there were basically three large groups. One group is composed of youths under 34 with different levels of schooling, many of them have never worked and many live with their families. A second group is 45 or older “living in very deficient conditions with greater vulnerability”. The last group os made up of people of an active age with families or in a stable situation, with ages of between 24 and 35 many of them have four years of school. This group has a larger number of workers, mainly people who travel from fair to fair on employees. “They are more open and have non-Roma friends, their networks are less closed” On the other hand, Roma schooling “is generally very short”, particularly for girls”, they get married very young (between 13 and 15) and many are evangelists. The National Gypsy People Day is 24 June.
© The Portugal News

up  

More Germans worried about Islamophobia than anti-Semitism, new poll finds

According to the European Jewish Association, just one in four Germans say that more needs to be done to eradicate anti-Semitism.

24/6/2015- A new survey conducted by the European Jewish Association claims that just one in four Germans believe the European Union should do more to eradicate anti-Semitism. The results of the survey, which were released by the EJA on Wednesday, also indicate that more Germans are worried about the rise of anti-Muslim animus than hostility toward Jews. Nearly four in 10 Germans believe that the authorities are doing an adequate job of combating anti-Semitism on the Continent, while 15 percent said that the government should be doing less. Rabbi Menachem Margolin, director of the EJA, said the results of the survey are a disconcerting sign that Germans have failed to adequately internalize the lessons of the Holocaust. “The German public is simply unaware of the rising tide of attacks motivated by anti-Semitism,” Margolin said. The poll asked Germans to list the top 10 challenges facing the European continent. Of the 10, anti-Semitism was ranked ninth, while more than twice the number of respondents said that Islamophobia was a more urgent matter. Over half of Germans polled (53%) said that the most pressing issue facing the EU was immigration; 44% said the environment was the biggest challenge; and terrorism was the third-most urgent problem.
© The Jerusalem Post

up  

Belgium and Czech Rep: Anti-Roma actions highlight need for real inclusion measures

A trench was dug last week in the Belgian town of Charleroi to prevent Travellers from accessing a strip of land. In the Czech Republic, the District Chamber of Commerce of the town of Ústí nad Labem has published an "Open Call to Local Politicians and Citizens" calling to deploy the army against the Roma.

23/6/2015- The European Network Against Racism (ENAR) strongly condemns the continuing flow of anti-Roma actions and discourses across Europe, despite the existence of national Roma integration strategies. These examples are the latest in a long list of discriminatory and racist acts targeting the Roma population from the building of walls in cities throughout Eastern Europe to separate Roma from the rest of society, to the segregation of Roma children in schools in the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary and Slovakia. “What we see here is that when social and economic polarisation interlinks with race and in this case, anti-Gypsyism ethical barriers disappear and policy makers start putting forward unacceptable measures and statements”, said ENAR Chair Sarah Isal. In order to design efficient policies for Roma, decision makers need to assess the part that racism and discrimination play in Roma exclusion, and tackle the additional obstacles Roma encounter compared to non-Roma in similar socio-economic situations. “There is no way out as long as we do not tackle austerity and racism jointly”, continued Isal. “European governments should address the impact of the dismantlement of public services on minority communities, in particular Roma, and adopt measures to improve their situation. This includes ending segregation of Roma in schools and sub-standard areas and addressing racist violence targeting Roma.”
© EUropean Network Against Racism

up  

Czech-language FB page of non-existent group falsifies photo of banner carried by Romani people

23/6/2015- The fake Czech-language Facebook group "Roma against Islam" (Romové proti Islámu) has published an altered version of a photo taken of a Romani demonstration in September 2013 in front of the Office of the Czech Government. On one the banners, instead of the Romani flag which was actually being held, the photo has been doctored to show a text that attacks refugees. If the administrators of the page do not remove the photo, representatives of the Romani Democratic Party (RDS) plan to file criminal charges. The altered photo was posted on Sunday, 21 June and immediately became very popular, being shared more than 2 600 times and receiving more than 1 500 "likes" as of noon yesterday.

Instead of the Romani flag and the inscription "Romani Democratic Party of the Czech Republic" (Romská demokratická strana ČR), those who doctored the photo inserted the following text between the hands of the two Romani people in the photograph: "STOP REFUGEE RECEPTION. Bohemia belongs to us and our white brothers. Smokes back to Africa! Your educated Roma." Representatives of the RDS have already objected to the falsified collage. "If the administrators do not remove those photographs, we will file criminal charges. This discredits the RDS and is an abuse of our political party," Miroslav Rusenko, political secretary of the RDS Central Committee, told news server Romea.cz.

In January, Romea.cz was the first to report on the existence of this false Facebook group. The authors of its material demagogically attack Islam per se and have falsely claimed to be supported by the Dživipen association and the Terne čhave music group. Both Romani initiatives have distanced themselves from the page. In February 2015, photographs were posted to the page of the non-existent group's alleged administrator and secretary, a certain "Ján Balko". It took just a couple of minutes for news server Romea.cz to search online and determine that the photograph was actually of a Nobel Prize winner for chemistry, Venkatraman Ramakrishnan. Many photos of him exist online.

The fraudsters did their best to make it as difficult as possible to identify the man in the photograph, for example, by reproducing it as a mirror image so it could not be found using Google's instruments for photo searches, but Romea.cz discovered its origins nonetheless. It is evident from the materials posted to the Facebook page of this non-existent group that its purpose has been to attract Romani people to demonstrations by the anti-Islamic group "We Don't Want Islam in the Czech Republic" (Islám v ČR nechceme) that were held at the beginning of the year. Those same people are behind another false Facebook page called Educated Roma (Vzdělaní Romové), which insults Romani people with would-be jokes. Facebook has so far ignored requests that these false groups be removed.
© Romea.

up  

Croatia: Far-right surges as EU disappointment spreads

23/6/2015- It was one of the biggest nights in Croatia's sporting calendar: a European Championship soccer qualifying match with Italy. Seconds after kick-off in a game beamed around the world, a gigantic swastika materialized on the pitch under the shocked gaze of European soccer officials. The swastika, sprayed by an unknown vandal with a chemical that became visible only when floodlights went on to start the game, has become the most potent symbol of a rise in ultra-nationalist sentiment that appears to be bleeding into the mainstream population in the European Union's newest member state. But it's not the only one. In the mixed ethnic towns of eastern Croatia, road signs in the Serbian Cyrillic alphabet have been destroyed and Serbian Orthodox churches have been vandalized with a "U'' symbol representing the Nazi-linked World War II Ustasha regime. On weekends, Ustasha chants echo at sports venues and rock concerts.

The appearance of such symbols is perhaps unsurprising for a country that during World War II which sent tens of thousands of Serbs, Jews and Gypsies to death camps. But the Balkan state's current leaders have called for change after the global outcry prompted by the swastika on the field. "This act has inflicted immeasurable damage on the reputation of Croatian citizens and their homeland all over the world," said Croatia's new conservative president, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic. "Therefore, we must finally put a stop to such things." The rise of the right in Croatia has been fueled by deep economic hardship and growing public anger over the inability of the left-leaning government to deal with it, even after the country entered the EU two years ago, fueling dreams of sudden riches that have not materialized.

Minorities, especially Serbs, have complained of fears for their safety since Grabar-Kitarovic was elected president in December. The Anti-Serb graffiti has evoked memories of the bloodshed that engulfed the region during the 1990s Balkans wars that tore apart the former Yugoslavia. At an event last month in southern Austria, Croatian ultranationalist Ivica Safaric proudly brandished the "U'' Ustasha symbol on a medallion around his neck. His companions in black shirts raised their right arms high in a Nazi salute, shouting out a dreaded battle call "For the homeland — Ready!" used by wartime Croatian fascist troops. "I respect the Ustasha movement because it created the independent state of Croatia," said Safaric, who fought for Croatia's independence in the 1990s. The gathering in Bleiburg was a memorial to tens of thousands of pro-Nazi soldiers, their families, children and civilians killed by communist guerrillas at the end of the war in 1945.

Commemorations for the Bleiburg massacre victims are held every year in May, but last month's gathering was by far the largest ever, with an estimated 40,000 people partici-pating. It happened as much of Europe marked the 70th anniversary of liberation from the Nazis, and the pro-Nazi imagery at Bleiburg was met by muted response from Croatia's politicians. Grabar-Kitarovic endorsed the Bleiburg commemorations and honored the victims just days ahead of the main event, but did not go there when the crowds gathered. She also paid an informal visit to the site of an Ustasha-run death camp in Jasenovac, but did not attend official commemorations of the 70th anniversary of the camp's liberation. In an illustration of the ideological divide in the country, Croatia's embattled leftist Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic did participate in the official ceremonies at Jasenovac, where at least 80,000 people, mostly Serbs, were killed. He urged Croats to acknowledge what happened in the death camp as part of the Nazi genocidal machine.

Analysts say the right-wing advance in Croatia — traditionally deeply split between left-wing and conservative traditions — has surged to its highest point since the country gained independence from the former Serb-led Yugoslavia in the 1991-95 war. "Sadly, the extreme right is more visible than ever in the past 25 years in Croatia," said historian Hrvoje Klasic. Minority Serbs, who fought against Croatia's independence during the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s, have been under increasing pressure by the nationalists. Croatian war veterans campaigning under the slogan "100 percent Croatia" — implying an ethnically pure state — have demanded that Serbs stop using the Cyrillic alphabet in Croatia, although their right to do so is guaranteed by the country's laws. Alarmed by the surge, thousands of gay activists and their liberal supporters marched in Croatia's capital Zagreb last weekend under the slogan: "Louder and More Courageous: Antifascism Without Compromise." "We chose the slogan because we don't like where Croatia is heading," said Marko Jurcic, one of the march organizers. "We don't want a 100 percent pure Croatia, we want a diverse Croatia."

Most Croatian officials are downplaying the far-right surge, saying it is part of pre-election campaigning. "Croatian society is not better or worse than in the other EU countries," said Parliament speaker Josip Leko. "We are in an election year and some themes are being opened by those who want to attract sympathizers."
© The Associated Press

up  

Serbian Minister Sparks ‘Fascism’ Row With Croatia

In comments likely to infuriate Zagreb, Serbian labour minister Aleksandar Vulin claimed that fascism is on the rise in Croatia after his trip to a WWII concentration camp sparked anger. 

23/6/2015- Vulin on Tuesday hit back at critics of his trip to a memorial ceremony at the WWII concentration camp and said that Belgrade and Zagreb should talk openly about the “rise of fascism” in Croatia. “I think we are actually helping our friends in Croatia when we say that we are ready to fight together with them against the rise of fascism,” he told Serbian public broadcaster RTS. Vulin ran into controversy on Sunday when he visited a memorial for people killed by Zagreb’s WWII-era Nazi-allied regime at the Jadovno concentra-tion camp near the Croatian town of Gospic. Members of some Croatian war veterans’ associations tried to block the road to the memorial saying that the number of Jadovno victims has been “fabricated”. Vulin then caused anger in his speech during the commemoration by referring to Alojzije Stepinac, who was archbishop of Zagreb during WWII, as an “Ustasa [Nazi-allied] bishop”. The Catholic Church is currently considering whether to canonise Stepinac, but many Serbs accuse him of blessing the wartime regime in Croatia.

During his speech, Vulin also criticised Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic for recently visiting both a WWII memorial in Bleiburg in Austria dedicated to Croatian fascist troops and civilians killed by Yugoslav Partisan forces, and Jasenovac, the Nazi-style concentration camp in Croatia. Grabar Kitarovic responded by saying that while Serbia has officials like Vulin, it “cannot enter a union of free, democratic states like the EU”. “Basic upbringing dictates that when you come to someone’s house, you respect your hosts. The same applies when you go to another country,” she said on Monday. Croatian Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic said that there would be no official diplomatic response to Vulin’s statement, but added that “it looks very inappropriate for any decent country that their minister behaves like this”. This is not the first time that Vulin’s comments have sparked a row with Croatia.

In April, Vulin called on Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic to come to Serbia and meet “the 250,000 [people] expelled during [Operation] Storm” - a military offensive by Zagreb’s forces in August 1995 that seized back Serb-held territory in Croatia but caused a massive exodus of Croatian Serbs. Croatian war veterans’ minister Predrag Matic responded angrily to Vulin’s comment, suggesting he should seek medical treatment, implying that he is mentally ill. Vulin has also made controversial statements regarding Serbia’s relations with Kosovo, the EU, Russia and the US.
© Balkan Insight

up  

Greece: Why the Golden Dawn is a Neo-Nazi Party

By Daphne Halikiopoulou, Associate Professor in Comparative Politics, University of Reading

23/6/2015- With the on-going Golden Dawn trial in Greece there has been much debate as to whether the Golden Dawn is a neo-Nazi group. The party itself has rejected the Neo-Nazi label, arguing that that this terminology may only be applied to Hitler's regime. They instead term themselves 'Greek nationalists', emphasising that the party does not espouse the ideas of German National Socialism of the inter-war period. Proponents of terming the Golden Dawn Neo-Nazi have focused on the party's past use of Nazi symbols, for example the swastika, the Nazi anthem and various other paraphernalia. The Golden Dawn however has been careful to remove such references in its more recent activities, since its election in 2012. There is another way however to show that the party falls under the Neo-Nazi label, that goes beyond a praise for Hitler, the use of Nazi symbols and an admiration of the Nazi regime. This involves identifying a number of informed criteria of what constitutes Neo-Nazism and establishing the extent to which the Golden Dawn fulfils them.

What is Neo-Nazism? While there is tendency to dichotomise between Fascism and Nazism, sociologist Michael Mann argues that both movements shared similar core values, had similar social bases and developed similar movements. The main difference between the two can be found in the Nazi emphasis on the 'volk', i.e. the people, versus the fascist focus on the state. But these were variations on common themes. In other words, Nazis were fascists, but simply put, Nazism placed a greater emphasis on nationalism. The first point to make therefore is that Nazism, and by extension neo-Nazism, are variations of fascism. They belong to the same category, they are not case- specific, and as such may arise outside case-specific contexts.

Second, it is important to identify what fascism and its variants stand for. Fascism is often defined either in terms of its negations- it stands against capitalism, Marxism, liberalism, and bourgeois democracy. It is also defined in terms of fulfilling certain 'minimums': all variants of fascism are pan-nationalist, authoritarian, statist, and militarist movements, seeking to transcend social cleavages and cleanse the nation from internal (i.e. political dissidents) and external (i.e. those not belonging to the 'organic' nation) enemies. Their end goal is totalitarianism. From this analysis we may identify two overall themes that are recurrent in all fascist movements: societal degeneration; and the proposed fascist solution which encompasses the necessity for national rebirth through a collective movement from below, usually embodied by a fascist party. The Nazi variant includes a fixation on the 'People', i.e. the 'Nation', which is represented by the Nazi movement, is personified by the Nazi leader, and embodies the state.

The Golden Dawn belongs to the fascist family and fulfils all the above criteria, including the emphasis Nazism places on the 'Nation'. So, while the party itself may reject the fascist label, it nonetheless espouses all core fascist, and more specifically Nazi, principles. The party rejects liberalism and socialism and endorses what it terms the 'third biggest ideology in history', i.e. nationalism, combined with support for an all-powerful state premised on 'popular sovereignty'. In its manifesto the party states that being a member of the Golden Dawn entails the acceptance of the following principles: the establishment of the state in accordance to nationalism; the moral obligations that derive from this ideology including the rejection of any authority that perpetuates societal decline; the acceptance of nationalism as the only authentic revolution; the establishment of the popular state in which there are no inequalities on the basis of wealth; racial supremacy and more specifically the belief in the continuation of the 'Greek race' from antiquity to the modern day; the idea that the state must correspond and be subservient to the nation/race; and the nationalization of all institutions.

This is openly expressed in the numerous online materials posted on the party's elaborate website (http://www.xryshaygh.com). The starting point for the Golden Dawn is social decay. Hellenism is on a downward slope. The country is in 'ruins' because of the incompetence of Greek politicians who 'destroyed the nation' (spelt 'Nation' with a capital N in all Golden Dawn texts). The decadence of Greek society is all encompassing: it is political, cultural, moral and a decline of power, i.e. Greece's underdog status compared to its Golden Past. The Golden Dawn sees itself at the helm of a movement whose vocation is to purify the Greek nation from social decadence associated with corruption, deception, partisan interests and cleptocracy. It is the party's calling to lead the Greek people in a difficult struggle towards 'Virtue and self-improvement'. This can only be materialized through a 'National government with a coherent plan and socio-political vision aligned with the principles of Nationalism and popular socialism'.

The Golden Dawn sees itself not in elitist terms, but rather as a movement from below. The party envisages itself as the embodiment of the collective will of the Greek people and seeks ultimate state power, which it understands as the epitome of the nation and its will. 'The Nationalist Socialist leader does not stand above or beside the people, he is not part of the people, he is the People'. He incarnates the secret 'calling of the blood' and his ultimate goal is full control of state power in the name of the nation.

For the Golden Dawn, representative democracy is not the 'true democracy' of the people, it is 'the child of capitalism', an instrument through which capitalism dominates the popular masses. For this reason the party condemns liberal democracy and its institutions and in turn admires fascist and totalitarian regimes. Its members glorify fascist personalities, portraying them as heroes for purifying their nations and epitomizing the will of people in a truly democratic system. Party materials make ample references to fascists such as Greece's Ioannis Metaxas, and Spain's Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera and Francisco Franco. The ideal regime for Greece, according to the Golden Dawn is the August 4th Regime, led by Ioannis Metaxas between 1936-1941. During the August 4th regime, 'Greece became an anti-communist, anti-parliamentarian and totalitarian state with an agricultural and working class base, and hence an anti-plutocratic state.

The Golden Dawn seeks 'catharsis'. The party's key goal is to eliminate all political divisions and cleanse the nation from outsiders. Communists are identified as those internationalists that seek the annihilation of the Greek nation. Contributing to this ethnocide are also Greece's external enemies, which include immigrants, but also 'foreign loan sharks, contractors, pimps and media owners'.

The Golden Dawn seeks to achieve cleansing through violence. Militarism hence is the key to both the Golden Dawn's ideology and organizational structures. The army is the ultimate value, they claim. A value that encloses within it 'blood, struggle and sacrifice'. The party's members see themselves as 'street soldiers' fighting for the nationalist cause. This places violence at the heart of Golden Dawn's activities and illustrates their distinctive view of democracy as a bourgeois construct only to be used as a means for achieving their ultimate goal: its abolition, as its leader Michaloliakos claims. It also explains the link between Golden Dawn members and army officials, as well as the organization of 'paramilitary orders' or 'battalions' (τÜγματα εφüδου).

Τhe Golden Dawn is an ultra-nationalist group that emphasizes the superiority of Greek descent, Greece's unique language and ancient heritage and the glorification of struggle against the 'other', which is portrayed as aggressive and expansionist but culturally inferior. The Greek nation is under threat and constantly undergoing an ideological battle to be salvaged from destruction. But what makes the Golden Dawn a fascist formation, rather than a patriotic or nationalist group, is not simply its ultra-nationalism, which is a characteristic of all far right-wing parties in general, but more specifically the theme of palingenesis- the key theme of national rebirth which forms the Golden Dawn's 'nationalist solution' to social decadence. The Golden Dawn, like other fascist movements before it, sees itself as having the unique mission to lead the nation into a phoenix-like national rebirth, rising from the ashes of the old degenerate social order. Its obsession with the Nation and its people, personified by the party's leader, underlines the Golden Dawn's Nazi character.

This is why the Golden Dawn is, and should be termed, a Neo-Nazi party. Not simply because its members may have praised Hitler in the past, or used Nazi paraphernalia, which is something that may or may not be disputed. But rather because its ideology, organizational structures and end goals fulfil the criteria of a fascist, and more specifically Neo-Nazi group. Gaining momentum at a time of severe economic, political and ideological crisis, the party puts forward its own solution to Greece's predicament, one that is premised on the key fascist principles of nationalism, paramilitarism, statism, transcence and cleansing.
This article is co-authored with Sofia Vasilopoulou, University of York
© The Huffington Post - UK

up  

UK Nazis Invite Galloway to Address Anti-Semitic Rally

26/6/2015- One of the main organizers of a neo-Nazi rally targeting London's Jewish community has extended an invitation to far-left politician George Galloway to address the gathering of anti-Semites, citing Galloway's stance on Jews and Israel as a common cause. Joshua Bonehill - a fascist activist and convicted petty criminal, who initiated the so called "anti-Jewification" initiative targeting British Jews - announced on his website that he had personally invited Galloway to speak at the rally. While noting that on most other things "George Galloway and myself are completely ideologically opposed,” seeing as “Galloway is a socialist, a mixer of race and indeed a dog in the eyes of many," he added that "in the interest of balance and his stance towards Israel and Jewry, he has been invited to speak on July 4th at Golders Green." The date and location of the anti-Semitic rally is no coincidence: July 4 is the first Shabbat of the month, and Golders Green is at the heart of London's Jewish community.

Galloway, who intends to run for the post of mayor of London, recently said that he plans to use his hoped for position to rally support for the Palestinian cause. He has been accused by many British Jews of stoking anti-Semitism, particularly due to his vocal support of anti-Semitic Islamist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as the Iranian regime. Bonehill said Galloway would not be allowed to promote his mayoral candidacy; "he will be there strictly to oppose Jewry," he wrote. Bonehill claimed Galloway was "supportive" of his initiative, although he offered no further details. British MPs have called to ban the rally, as British Jews mobilize to oppose it. Among other things neo-Nazis announced they also plan to desecrate Israeli flags and Jewish holy books in solidarity with the Palestinian Arabs and against the State of Israel.
© Reuters

up  

UK: Neo-Nazis gave Hitler salute on my doorstep, says Golders Green resident

25/6/2015- Neo-Nazis have been distributing antisemitic propaganda to Jews near the site of the planned July 4 protest in Golders Green, according to one resident. The 88-year-old Holocaust survivor, who did not wish to be named, said a group of far-right extremists had come to his house on Rotherwick Road and told him that London would soon be "Jew-free". He claimed that the men performed a Nazi salute, asked him if he was a supporter of neo-Nazi Joshua Bonehill -Paineand then handed him a blue Magen David with the message "Jew go home" written on it. The resident reported that "many" of his neighbours had also been given copies of the antisemitic blue Magen David, although no one living nearby could confirm they had received a similar visit. He said: "As a survivor of the Holocaust and having lived in Britain for most of my life, I am reminded of scenes I saw as a child while living in Germany during the rise of Adolf Hitler." He added that he was considering moving his family to Israel.
© The Jewish Chronicle

up  

UK:Neo-Nazi attack on Asian dentist was a 'terrorist act', say family

Zackery Davies, 26, shouted 'White Power' as he targeted his 24-year-old victim with a machete and a claw hammer at a Tesco supermarket

25/6/2015- Relatives of an Asian dentist who was viciously attacked with a machete by a white supremacist have claimed the incident would have been reported as a terrorist act if their races had been reversed. Zackery Davies, 26, shouted “White Power” and “I did it for Lee Rigby” as he targeted his 24-year-old victim with a machete and a claw hammer at a Tesco supermarket in Mold, North Wales, on January 14. He was found guilty of attempted murder at Mold Crown Court.

Davies is thought to have been inspired by the far-right group National Action, and posted an online image of himself in a balaclava with a large knife hours before he carried out his violent attack. Davies, from Mold, caused Dr Sarandev Bhambra “very severe” injuries to his hand, back and head which were described as life-changing. The incident happened while the dentist, who is from a Sikh family, was shopping at the store during his lunch break. Witnesses reported seeing a white man chasing an Asian man through the store with a knife and hammer. Davies was only stopped when a member of the public, former serviceman Peter Fuller, stepped in.

Speaking after Davies was convicted, Dr Bhambra’s brother Dr Tarlochan Singh Bhambra accused the media of largely ignoring the case – and refusing to refer to the attack as terrorist – because the attacker was white and the victim Asian. “We are in no doubt, given the racial and political motivations, that this should have been defined as an act of terrorism,” he said. “By his own admission, the defendant had extreme neo-Nazi views and is a member of a white supremacist organisation. “Sarandev was singled out because of the colour of his skin. The media have a responsibility and an obligation to report these aspects of the trial and bring to the fore the major implications of this.” Surrounded by family members and other supporters, he continued: “We are in no doubt had the racial disposition of this case had been reversed this would have been reported as an act of terror with wider media coverage.

“All extremists groups – including white supremacists – that advocate racially motivated hatred and violence on innocent people should be dealt with as terrorists. “Ethnic minorities have and continue to contribute to the multi-cultural Britain of 2015, and indeed Sikhs have sacrificed their lives in both world wars to facilitate the freedom that Britain enjoys today. Racial intolerance is a thing of the past and should not be accepted in any society.” Davies was said to have been obsessed with Nazi ideology, with associated literature found in a police search of his home. Posters relating to the 2013 murder of Fusilier Rigby by two Islamic extremists were also discovered. Giving evidence, Davies said he was “fascinated” by “Jihadi John”. Davies had admitted wounding with intent but denied attempted murder. He will be sentenced at a later date. Gareth Preston, senior prosecutor, said: “Zackery Davies is a dangerous young man whose distorted and racist views led him to commit a terrifying act of violence. “This was an attack against a complete stranger, singled out for no other reason than his ethnicity.”
© The Independent

up  

British School Says Two Pupils Fined Over Auschwitz Theft

Two British teenage pupils have been fined about 240 euros ($270) after they admitted stealing artefacts from the former Nazi death camp at Auschwitz, their school said Tuesday.

23/6/2015- The pair were arrested after guards caught them “digging in the ground” on Monday in an area where there were once barracks used to sort the personal items of arriving prisoners, said a spokesman for the Polish site, which is now home to a museum. “They detained them and discovered that they were in possession of shards of glass, buttons, a hair clipper and bits of metal,” he told AFP. The Perse School, near Cambridge in southeast England, confirmed that two pupils admitted taking items of historical importance that they “found on the ground” and were fined 1000 Zloty (240 euros). They were also handed a one year probation, suspended for three years, and released by the authorities on Tuesday, according to a school spokesman. “The boys, neither of whom is yet 18, picked up the fragments in the Canada section of the camp,” added the spokesman. “They are deeply sorry for the offence they have caused.” Headmaster Ed Elliott promised a “full and thorough investigation”.

– ‘Duty to respect’ –
“I want to hear directly from the boys as to what led them to take these items. The opportunity to be able to visit Holocaust sites carries with it the duty to treat those sites with the utmost respect and sensitivity,” he said. A regional prosecutor in Poland told AFP that officials were yet to confirm the punishment, although the school maintains the youths were free to return home. Regional police spokesman Mariusz Ciarka said the pair could have received up to 10 years in prison for stealing objects of historical value from the site in the southern city of Oswiecim. The site’s spokesman said the area where the teens were caught was “a place where we still find objects in the ground that once belonged to the camp’s victims”.

It is not the first time someone has tried to smuggle out a piece of the former death camp, which has become a symbol of the Holocaust and is visited by more than a million people from across the world each year. Several people have tried to make off with barbed wire, while one particularly brazen gang walked out with the camp’s infamous “Arbeit macht frei” (“Work makes you free”) sign in 2009. The mastermind of that theft, Swedish neo-Nazi Anders Hoegstroem, was jailed for two-and-a-half years. The metal sign was eventually recovered cut up into three pieces, leading museum officials to display a replica above the entrance. One million European Jews died at the camp set up by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland in 1940-1945. More than 100,000 others including non-Jewish Poles, Roma, Soviet prisoners of war and anti-Nazi resistance fighters also died there, according to the museum.
© AFP

up  

Bulgaria: "Brothers, Help Us!" Anger, Fear and Insecurity among Roma

21/6/2015- Emiliya Dancheva from the Sharen Kon Web Portal spent the last night in the Pirogov Hospital in Bulgarian capital Sofia. She visited Roma twins and their father who have been beaten by Skinheads while traveling in bus No 88 on their way back home to the “Drujba” (Friendship) residential area in Sofia. The victims who are devoted Christians were coming back from church when a group of young Bulgarians suddenly attacked them with bats and brass knuckles. No one from the other passengers in the bus tried to help them. The bus driver even opened the doors to let the attackers out. We are publishing the text written by Emiliya Dancheva, Romani woman and Journalist herself, because the Roma in Bulgaria do not trust the mainstream media. The silence of major world news agencies after the Anti-Roma riots in Bulgaria also raises many questions. More than 35 people were arrested by Police and 10 people were hospitalized during the violent clashes between Bulgarians and Roma that burst out in the village of Garmen and in Orlandovtsi area in Sofia, in May and June this year.

Anger, fear, insecurity; this is what I felt in the “Drujba” area where yesterday two brothers and their father were severely beaten up by Skinheads in the bus No 88. The residents of the area, who gathered to protest outside, after the incident, know that they are victims of political interests. They also know that the ethnic peace in the country is seriously endangered. In their opinion, the local protests cannot achieve the necessary effect, and for this reason they appealed to the Roma in Bulgaria, and especially to those living in the Sofia largest Roma neighborhoods – Philipovtsi, Fakulteta and Hristo Botev, to show their solidarity with the Roma from “Drujba”. They said, the politicians must stop using Roma as scapegoats. The very fact that similar attacks on Roma happen always around elections means for them that someone is doing something wrong considering the whole society, and the Roma issue has been used for distraction which is to divert public attention from the faults of the government. The Roma from “Drujba” are calling for peaceful protest, but they will not allow participation of people who want to exploit their discontent for political gains. “We will expel everyone who wants to use us. We do not want to hear about political parties. We are not going to vote” this was the common opinion of the protesters. The people feel panical fear for the safety of their children and their families. There is also a rise in the number of cases of attacked women from the area, who work on the streets for waste-collecting companies.
© Free Roma

up  

DEATH BY POLICY - TIME FOR CHANGE!

To mark International Refugee Day, UNITED is publishing an updated edition of its List of Deaths, a new website and an interactive map. We call on you to protest against the fatal policies of Fortress Europe that lead to the deaths of desperate people looking for safe refuge.

20/6/2015- In recent months, stories of the thousands of people who have drowned in the Mediterranean sea while attempting to reach Europe have shocked people all over the continent and seen the issue of refugee deaths rise towards the top of the European political and media agenda. But despite the attention generated by the situation in the Mediter-ranean, EU representatives seem unable to come to any consensus on sharing the burden of migratory waves between southern and northern Europe, with nationalistic interests dominating discussions. Meanwhile migration continues, with the risky conditions at sea not seeming to provide any discouragement to migrants.

Complicating the issue yet further is the fact that refugee deaths are not limited to the Mediterranean: refugees die of suffocation and exposure hiding in freight containers and the undercarriages of planes; refugees die in the dire conditions of detention centres; refugees die in police custody and at the hands of deportation officials; refugees are murdered by fascist thugs, denied both the protection of the authorities and recourse to justice. As diverse as they may seem, all of these deaths are a direct result of the fatal policies of Fortress Europe: the political agenda which puts the protection of Europe’s borders ahead of the protection of the lives of the world’s most desperate and vulnerable people. This is DEATH BY POLICY.

Since 1993, UNITED has been documenting the effects of these fatal policies by compiling a list of the thousands of people who have died in their attempt to reach Europe. Now including details of over 22,000 people, the UNITED List of Deaths has become a key tool (1) for activists, artists and researchers dealing with the rights of asylum seekers and refugees. In Strasbourg, the activist group Collectif pour une autre politique migratoire has held demonstrations using a 100m-long print of the list which they unfurl at the European Parliament, defiantly reminding MEPs and the European Commission of their failure to act. Across the continent, Turkish artist Banu Cennetoglu displays the list on public billboards, reminding the people of Europe of the lives lost in search of the security and prosperity that they take for granted. In Amsterdam, Prof. Thomas Spijkerboer and his team have used the list to assist with their research into undocumented migrant deaths in Europe’s maritime borders, shining a much-needed light into this neglected area of study.

This year, to mark The International Refugee Day on 20th June, UNITED is once again publishing an updated version of The List of documented deaths of asylum seekers, refugees and (un)documented migrants due to the restrictive policies of Fortress Europe. We have launched a new website, which includes an interactive map that clearly shows that the issue of refugee deaths is not limited to the Mediterranean and Europe’s southern borders: this is a Europe-wide problem, which, if it is ever to be resolved, will require a Europe-wide response. Now more than ever, it is essential that we stand UNITED against refugee deaths.

Wake up the policy-makers! It is extremely important for the purposes of the campaign to raise awareness of this issue throughout Europe. The main targets are media and the general public. With their help it is possible to force European politicians to reconsider European immigration policies and to develop a human vision on migra-tion.

Why 20th of June?
The Europe-wide network UNITED for Intercultural Action brings together more than 550 organisations from 48 European countries and a wide variety of backgrounds to work together on common activities and projects against racism, fascism and nationalism and in support of migrants and refugees. In order to bring new perspectives to the debate and to highlight the issue of migrant rights and refugee deaths, UNITED has been coordinating an annual campaign around this date since 1996. In 2001, following years of pressure and advocacy from campaign groups such as UNITED, a special UN General Assembly Resolution was adopted to declare 20th June as International Refugee Day. As the former African Refugee Day, this date was chosen as an expression of solidarity with Africa, which is the continent that hosts the most refugees.
(1) The UNITED List of Deaths and other UNITED publications can be freely re-used, translated and re-distributed, provided source (www.unitedagainstracism.org) is men-tioned and a copy is sent to the UNITED Secretariat.
The Fatal Policies of Fortress Europe – No More Deaths – Time for Change! unitedagainstrefugeedeaths.eu
www.facebook.com/UNITEDAgainstRefugeeDeaths Join this campaign on Facebook!
listofdeaths@unitedagainstracism.org
Twitter @UNITED__Network #AgainstRefugeeDeaths
© UNITED for Intercultural Action

up  

Headlines 19 June, 2015

Denmark swings to the right as centre-left coalition accepts defeat

Rightwing surge means Danish People’s party becomes second biggest force – boosting David Cameron’s demand for EU reform, but piling misery on centre-left

19/6/2015- Denmark’s first female prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, has conceded defeat and resigned as leader of her party after her coalition government lost the election to the centre-right opposition. Thorning-Schmidt told party members she will step down as prime minister and leader of the Social Democratic party on Friday after Denmark became the latest European nation to experience a surge in rightwing populism. In her resignation speech, she said: “Every single day the responsibility has been mine. I stand by the decisions I have made … I am Denmark’s first female prime minister, but I won’t be the last.” The strong showing for rightwing parties in the Nordic nation also delivers David Cameron a potentially vital ally in Europe for his bid to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s membership of the EU. Finland and Norway already have rightwing populists in government.

With more than 99% of the votes counted last night, the Danish People’s party emerged as the second biggest force in parliament, having nearly doubled its vote to 21%, up from 12% just four years ago. “What this suggests is that the Danish People’s party is becoming a real people’s party, for which we have fought for so many years,” its leader, Kristian Thulesen Dahl, told supporters. The DPP was still coy on Thursday night about joining a centre-right coalition in power. “What is important is not whether we join a government, the important thing is that we have influence,” Dahl said. But the party said it would back a centre-right coalition led by the liberal Venstre party of former prime minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, which had a disappointing night, taking third place with fewer than 20% of the vote – its lowest in quarter of a century – after promising tax breaks and tougher immigration controls. 

Last night Rasmussen said he now had an opportunity to form a new government after Thorning-Schmidt’s concession. “Tonight we have been given an opportunity, but only an opportunity, to take leadership in Denmark,” he told supporters in parliament. “We take that upon ourselves and I take that upon myself.” The DPP supported a centre-right government from 2001 to 2011 without joining it “and we had huge influence”, said DPP MEP Morten Messerschmidt. Up until polling day, the incumbent centre-left coalition had hoped to score a spectacular comeback – Thorning-Schmidt’s government was trailing by 17 percentage points two years ago after unpopular reforms and broken campaign promises since taking office in 2011. On the eve of Thursday’s poll, the result was seen as too close to call, with barely a single percentage point separating the two blocs. But as the results came in on Thursday night, it became clear that Thorning-Schmidt’s gamble of trying to outdo the DPP on immigration had failed.

With her eyes firmly set on the election, Thorning-Schmidt launched a tough policy on asylum seekers, announcing that they must work to get social security benefits. Her Social Democrats and the opposition Liberals fought the election on who could sound toughest on immigration, while the DPP itself went further and called for the reinstatement of border controls between Germany and Sweden. “We need to see the movements of voter groups to understand the whole picture, but it seems that everyone has tried to match the Danish People’s party’s policies so much that it has vindicated the party – and then the voters chose the real thing,” said political commentator Kasper Fogh Hansen. Dahl, 45, co-founded the DPP 20 years ago, and is seen as more moderate in some respects than its former leader, Pia Kjærsgaard, from whom he took over in 2012, helping to broaden the party’s appeal. The DPP is the only member of the rightwing group of parties in the Danish parliament to argue for an expansion of the public sector and more spending on elderly care, helping it to take voters from both the Social Democrats and the Liberals. The party is staunchly Eurosceptic, although it does not argue for leaving the EU.

With four seats from the autonomous Danish nations of Greenland and Faroe Islands still to be reckoned, the final result appeared to give 91 seats for the centre-right bloc, placing it out of reach of the centre-left. The DPP was set to take 37 seats. The victory for the right will be a boost to David Cameron, after Rasmussen said he would push for EU reforms against deeper integration. In what many saw as a concession to the DPP, the four parties of the rightwing bloc – Liberals, DPP, Conservatives and Liberal Alliance – last week announced their joint support for Cameron’s bid to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s EU membership of the EU, in particular with regard to welfare benefits for EU migrants. “We will stand behind Great Britain and like-minded nations’ efforts to ensure that the EU doesn’t turn into a social union,” said the statement, titled Danish Welfare in Europe. “We want an EU where people can go wherever workers are needed, but we don’t want an EU where people go wherever the social benefits are good,” the statement said.

Thorning-Schmidt called the election three weeks ago after signs of an economic revival in the Nordic nation that was badly hit by the global financial crisis of 2008. She portrayed her four years as prime minister as being divided into two periods, the first of tough reforms followed by the reward of economic growth. Timid economic expansion of 1.7% is forecast for Denmark this year and 2% in 2016, allowing Thorning-Schmidt to promise a boost in welfare spending. But differences between the centre left and right blocs were so slim that voters’ attention often focused on their leaders’ styles rather than their policies. “Especially from a financial market point of view, there’s no difference – both sides are in favour of our fixed exchange rate policy and conducting a responsible fiscal policy,” Danske Bank chief economist Steen Bocian told Reuters.

During her four years in power, Thorning-Schmidt joined forces with the centre right to pass controversial reforms. A deal to sell a stake in the energy company Dong to the US investment bank Goldman Sachs last year almost brought down her government after a junior coalition partner, the Socialist People’s party, walked out, resulting in the loss of six cabinet ministers. But she won international plaudits for her statesmanlike handling of terrorist shootings in Copenhagen in February. The defeat for the centre left in Denmark marks a further setback for Social Democrats in Europe, who have had a miserable time in recent years, losing elections in the UK and Germany while facing disastrous poll ratings in France and Sweden. Sweden’s Social Democrats are now the only labour party to hold power in Scandinavia, a historical bastion of social democracy. Sweden’s Social Democrats were so unhappy with their Danish colleagues’ position on immigration that the party broke with tradition and decided not to send top officials to Denmark for the elections, according to Swedish newspaper Expressen.
© The Guardian

up  

Hungary faces harsh criticism for anti-democratic developments, including anti-Gypsyism and antisemitism

16/6/2015- On 9 June the Council of Europe’s expert group on racism and intolerance (ECRI) called for action to fight prejudice in Hungary as it released a report condemning the country. The report finds that “a radical right-wing populist party openly engages in anti-Roma, antisemitic, homophobic and xenophobic hate speech”. Both anti-Gypsyism and anti-Semitism have been extensively documented in the speech of Jobbik, the far-right party that won 20.54 % of the vote in the 2014 parliamentary election and whom the authorities do not criticize. In 2012, for example, a Jobbik MP called for lists of people of Jewish ancestry to be drawn up, claiming that they represented a security risk.

The ECRI report includes more than 20 recommendations on how to improve the drastic situations of asylum-seekers, LGBT persons and the Roma in Hungary. A second blow to the country's reputation was then delivered on 10 June, when the European Parliament called on the European Commission to “immediately initiate an in-depth monitoring process on the situation of democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights in Hungary and to report back on this matter to the European Parliament and Council before September 2015”. Euronews has reported that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker met Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban last month with the greeting "Hello, Dictator" - reportedly in jest. The ECRI report, however, talks about a climate of impunity for hate speech across the political spectrum in Hungary.

The Hungarian Government has been waging an official campaign against immigration, according to Euronews. Billboards there reportedly warn newcomers not to take jobs away from Hungarians and to show respect for the law. Euronews quoted Orban as responding to the issue as follows: "Hungary and the European Union have very good reasons to deal with the issue of economic migration. I am convinced that the European Commission proposal on the table is absurd, bordering on insanity.”
© Romea.

up  

Far-right parties form group in EU parliament

15/6/2015- The National Front and the Dutch PVV party have formed a new far-right group in the European Parliament. The National Front chief, Marine Le Pen, tweeted on Monday (15 June): “I will announce the formation of our group - Europe of Nations and Freedom [ENF] - tomorrow in Brussels”. PVV head Geert Wilders said: “Great news and [a] historical moment”. He attached a picture of himself and Le Pen drinking champagne. Details of the group’s composition are to be unveiled at a press conference on Tuesday morning. It’s likely to include Austria’s FPO party, Belgium’s Vlaams Belang, and Italy’s Lega Nord, with which the National Front and the PVV had already held “co-ordination” meetings. Under EU rules, a group must contain at least 25 MEPs from seven different countries.

Looking at the unattached MEPs left in the pool, the likeliest parties to join Europe of Nations and Freedom are Hungary’s Jobbik and Poland’s Congress of the New Right. The other unattached deputies are: Greek and German neo-Nazis; a unionist from Northern Ireland; a disgraced Spanish socialist; a German satirist; and two Greek communists. Meanwhile, Le Pen is likely to lead the ENF in Brussels. Last week, the Dutch electoral council said Wilders could take up a seat in the EU house following the death, in May, of PVV euro-deputy Hans Jansen. But Wilders told the ANP news agency he will, “of course”, decline.

The Le Pen-Wilders breakthrough means €25 million or so in extra EU funding over the next four years, better committee posts, and more speaking time in plenary. The new group will become the second anti-EU and anti-immigrant faction in the assembly. The existing one, Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy, led by British MEP Nigel Farage, has kept its distance from Le Pen, who has a toxic image in the UK. But Farage and Le Pen see eye-to-eye on Russia. The EFDD and and most ENF members-to-be voted together to try to block a Russia-critical resolution in Strasbourg last week.
© The EUobserver

up  

Netherlands: Mosques: “Loudmouth” Wilders can’t rip apart Dutch society

18/6/2015- The Council of Moroccan Mosques in the Netherlands has released a cartoon featuring PVV leader Geert Wilders, in reaction to Wilders’ plans to display cartoons of the prophet Mohammed on national television. “With this cartoon we want to show that no loudmouth can rip our society apart”, spokesperson Aissa Zanzen said to NOS. The cartoon portrays Wilders as a child having a tantrum, shouting “fewer fewer fewer, with a bomb in the background. In the shadow of the bomb, people are quietly going on with their lives, ignoring the shouts. Zanzen told the broadcaster that the best way to deal with Wilders’ insults and provocations is by reacting with humor or just ignoring them, because the PVV leader refuses to enter into a dialogue. The Council will print about 500 copies of the cartoon, which will be put up in mosques and foundations. Zanzen is also investigating whether it would be possible to put them up at bus stops. The cartoon was made by a number of young people. It will be spread through social media this weekend. On Twitter Wilders responded to the cartoon. “Funny” he wrote. He also said that 9 Mohammad cartoons will be broadcast on NPO 2 on Saturday.
© The NL Times

up  

Netherlands: Leaked report shows Muslim youths are more hostile to Israel

15/6/2015- A report about anti-semitism among youngsters in the Netherlands has not been made public because social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher wants to carry out further research, the Telegraaf reports on Monday. The report, produced by the Verwey Jonker institute, should have been released in May but is on hold pending clarification of the results, the paper says. The Telegraaf has seen a draft copy which shows 12% of Muslim youngsters in the Netherlands are ‘not so positive’ about Jews in the Netherlands, compared with 2% of people with no religion. Turkish Muslims are more negative about Jews than Moroccan Muslims. However, when asked about Israel, 62% of young Dutch Muslims are ‘not so positive’, as are 22% of youngsters with no religion, the research shows. Respondents were asked if they were ‘positive’, ‘neutral’ or ‘not so positive’ about Jews in the Netherlands, Jews in Israel, Israel itself and Zionists. The Israel information centre Cidi has condemned the research for being ‘confusing’ and said the figures fail to give a ‘good indication of the actual level of anti-semitism in the Netherlands’.
© The Dutch News

up  

RSS feed
Suggestions and comments please to info@icare.to