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Headlines 30 September, 2016

Headlines 23 September, 2016

Headlines 16 September, 2016

Headlines 9 September, 2016

Headlines 30 September, 2016

Germany boosts security for Muslim centres in Dresden after mosque bombing

27/9/2016- German police are stepping up protection of Muslim institutions in Dresden after two improvised bombs exploded in the eastern city on Monday evening, one at a mosque and one at an international conference centre. No one was hurt by the blasts although the imam of the mosque was inside the building with his wife and sons. "Even if we so far have no claim of responsibility, we must go on the basis that the motive was xenophobic," Horst Kretzschmar, president of Dresden police, said in a statement. He said police believed there was a link to celebrations planned for the coming weekend in the city to mark the anniversary of German reunification on Oct. 3, 1990. Kretzschmar said three mosques, a Muslim social centre and a prayer room would be given protection immediately. Soon after the mosque explosion, Dresden's International Congress Centre was also damaged by a home-made device and the bar of a nearby hotel was evacuated.

Mehmet Demirbas, founder of the mosque that was hit, said the Muslim community had been expecting some kind of attack for a long time. "Glass panes have been broken in the past, or graffiti on the wall. But this is the first time something like this happens. Hopefully it will be the last time and we carry on happily living in Dresden," he said. Dresden was the cradle of the anti-Islam PEGIDA grassroots movement whose weekly rallies attracted around 20,000 supporters at the height of its popularity at the start of 2015. The influx of about 1 million migrants, mostly Muslims, to Germany last year has increased social tensions, especially in eastern Germany where there have been some high-profile attacks on refugee shelters.

Support for the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which says Islam is not compatible with the constitution, has risen due to Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door refugee policy. AfD co-leader Frauke Petry condemned the attack on the mosque, saying: "Attacking a building in which people worship God is barbaric, whether it be a church, a mosque or a synagogue." German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble stressed at an annual conference on Islam on Tuesday that Islam belonged to Germany, repeating a view that Merkel voiced in 2015 ahead of a PEGIDA demonstration in Dresden.
© Reuters

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Headlines 23 September, 2016

Sweden: Nigel Farage to speak at nationalists' gala

Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage will make a speech at an ‘alternative Nobel Prize’ ceremony organized by the far-right Sweden Democrats (SD) in Stockholm this November.

23/9/2016- The Swedish nationalists revealed to newspaper Expressen that they have hired out Stockholm’s Grand Hotel for what the party is calling the “European Freedom Awards”, where SD leader Jimmie Åkesson will speak in addition to Farage, and a prize will be given out. “It will be a former head of state in Europe,” SD’s group leader in the Riksdag Mattias Karlsson said about the prize winner. Karlsson added that the prize will go to someone who has done something extraordinary for the “political pursuit of increased national self-determination, democracy and influence for citizens in Europe”. Around 400 guests will be invited to the event, including what SD describes as “our friend parties in Europe” and other parties “like us”. Nato representatives and several US politicians have also been invited. SD even tried to hire out the Blue Hall at Stockholm’s City Hall for their gala – the location of the real Nobel Banquet every year – but the request was rejected for security reasons. According to Expressen, the bill for the evening will be footed by European think thank IDDE (Institute for Direct Democracy in Europe) and pan-European party ADDE (Alliance for Direct Democracy in Europe), which both SD and UKIP are members of.
© The Local - Sweden

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Austria: Muslim woman attacked and bitten in Vienna ‘for wearing hijab’

'Racism in Austria is increasing, we constantly see it,' says victim's husband

22/9/2016- A Muslim woman wearing a headscarf was beaten and bitten in Vienna in what her family suspect was an Islamophobic attack. The 51-year-old woman, identified only as Mrs D, was on her way to work at 6am in the south of the Austrian capital when she was attacked from behind. Police confirmed they were investigating the incident, but said the motive of the attack was unclear. The woman said she heard someone running and breathing heavily behind her before she was struck several times on the head. After she fell over, her assailant continued to beat her. "He could have attacked me because [I was] in a headscarf, because he didn't even see my face, he came from behind and attacked me"" she told Turkish-language news site Haber Journal. She said that when she tried to defend herself by scratching his face, he bit her finger. The man eventually fled after she shouted for help.

An Austrian citizen, Mrs D had lived in the country for 30 years and worked at a post office in the city for 28 years. Following the attack, she called her husband who alerted the police. Mrs D was taken to the hospital, where she was given stitches on her forehead and treated for a bite wound on her hand. The assailant appeared to be between 25 and 30 years old, according to a witness. Mrs D's huband told Haber Journal: "We think it's a racist attack. Recently racism in Austria is increasing, we constantly see it." Support for the far-right has swollen in the country since Europe's refugee crisis began in 2015. Austria took in 90,000 asylum seekers initially but has since capped its intake and imposed strict border controls. Far-right politician, Norbert Hofer, has called for a ban on Muslim women wearing the burqa in the country In July, a high court ruled that preventing an employee from wearing a veil was not discriminating against them. Earlier in September, an Austrian Catholic Cardinal, tipped to be the next Pope, warned that Muslims wanted to eradicate Christianity and conquer Europe.
© The Independent

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Austria: Could 16-year-olds derail far-right vote?

There can't be many Austrians who are happy about the many months of delay in their controversial and glitch-plagued presidential election, But Flora Maier is one.

20/9/2016- Flora, from Upper Austria, was 15 years old when the first two rounds of voting took place in April and May, and slightly too young to take part. It's an election that could give the European Union its first far-right head of state in Norbert Hofer. Flora's friend, Lena Ramaseder, who turned 16 in March, did get to vote in the first round. But Flora, who celebrated her 16th birthday on 23 May, now looks set to get a chance to vote in the re-run on 4 December. And so do around 45,600 others like her. "I was very happy when I heard that," she told me. "For me it's important to give my opinion." Austria has been trying to elect a president for months, but the plans keep coming unstuck.

From poll challenge to 'Gluegate'
In May, former Green Party politician Alexander Van der Bellen narrowly beat far-right candidate Norbert Hofer by less than 1% of the vote. But that result was annulled by the country's highest court because of problems with the way postal votes were counted. Austria was all set to hold a re-run of the vote on 2 October. Now Flora's opportunity has emerged from a major fiasco involving postal ballots, a scandal that has become known as "Gluegate". Over the past couple of weeks, it emerged that hundreds or perhaps thousands of postal voting forms could not be sealed properly, because the glue didn't stick.

Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said that as a result of the "defective envelopes" there was a risk the votes could be tampered with, and he recommended that the election be postponed. Legislation will now have to be altered to allow for the added delay. That means that Flora and the other 45,600 people who recently turned 16 are expected to be included this time around. Recent polls give Norbert Hofer a small edge. But, like many of her friends, Flora will be voting against the far-right candidate. "The situation is a bit strange," Flora told me. "But personally it gives me the chance to vote."

'Get it over with'
Political analyst, Thomas Hofer (no relation), says the inclusion of teenagers who have turned 16 since the first election could hand "a slight advantage" to Alexander Van der Bellen. "He did better with young voters than Norbert Hofer. It would have been a disadvantage for him to exclude them. But people over 60 also voted slightly more often for Van der Bellen and more of them are dying," he said. The delay has been widely criticised as an embarrassment and Thomas Hofer says the whole election is "shameful", both for Austria's international and domestic reputation. "In the domestic sphere, the confidence in the political system, which is low anyway, has been further eroded." For Lena Ramaseder, who voted for the first time in April and May, the situation is "getting a bit ridiculous". "It is a bit sad we are not able to fix one date and get it over with."

Austria's choice
Norbert Hofer
Age: 45
Background: Aeronautical engineer
Politics: Far-right Freedom Party
Campaign soundbite: "To those in Austria who go to war for the Islamic State or rape women - I say to those people: 'This is not your home'."

Alexander Van der Bellen
Age: 72
Background: Economics professor
Politics: Former Green Party leader
Campaign soundbite: "I've experienced how Austria rose from the ruins of World War Two, caused by the madness of nationalism."
© BBC News

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The situation for Muslims in Europe is getting worse: Time to act

On European Day Against Islamophobia, a coalition of organisations fighting Islamophobia call on EU leaders and decision makers to tackle rising anti-Muslim hatred as a matter of urgency.

21/9/2016- Almost a year ago, the EU held its first Fundamental Rights colloquium, focusing on Antisemitism and anti-Muslim hatred. This was a strong political signal that the EU was finally willing to prioritise the fight against Antisemitism and Islamophobia. The European Commission – thanks to the appointment of a coordinator on anti-Muslim hatred – has had a whole year to listen and identify the main areas of concern. Now it’s time to see concrete political actions to address the most pressing issues, not least the very real – and rising – violence and discrimination faced by Muslims on a daily basis in Europe.

The recent human rights violations and abusive political discourse around the burkini bans in France epitomised the hatred faced by Muslims, and Muslim women in particular. Both politicians from across the political spectrum and the judiciary have capitalised on this structural Islamophobia to enforce discriminatory policies. But France is not alone. A study in Germany has shown that Islamophobia has risen markedly, with 40% of people surveyed who believe Muslims should be forbidden from coming to Germany. Government and political representatives in eastern European countries, including Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, repeatedly talk of a “Muslim invasion” and refuse to accept Muslim refugees, stoking fear among the population and an increase in racist attacks. There has been a surge in racist incidents, including against Muslim communities, following the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, a campaign marked by xenophobic and racist discourse. A recent ENAR report shows that Muslim women are the first to pay the price of Islamophobia in Europe and are disproportionately targeted by both employment discrimination and hate crime.

In addition, security-oriented counter-terrorism measures are having a disproportionate impact on Muslim individuals or those perceived as such, including racial profiling by law enforcement authorities, police abuses during raids and the use of administrative restrictions on the basis of vague and discriminatory criteria. The “escalator” approach whereby a conservative religious practice would lead to support for violent terrorism is bound to inefficiently target innocent Muslim individuals and families, and to generate violent backlash from the mainstream population.

As a first step, EU institutions must publically recognise and condemn Islamophobia as a specific form of racism. The European Commission should agree on a roadmap to ensure that EU member states adopt national strategies to combat Islamophobia in areas such as employment, education, health, hate crime and criminal justice. EU and national counter-terrorism measures must build on independent impact assessment studies, include human rights safeguards and be complemented by long-term prevention through equality and social inclusion policies.

European Network Against Racism (ENAR), Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF), Collectif Contre l’Islamophobie en Belgique (CCIB), Collectief Tegen Islamofobie en Discriminatie, European Forum of Muslim Women (EFOMW), Euro-Mediterraan Centrum Migratie & Ontwikkeling (EMCEMO), European Muslim Initiative for Social Cohesion (EMISCO), Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organisations (FEMYSO), Karamah EU - Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights, Muslimska mänskliga rättighetskommittén.
© EUropean Network Against Racism

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Italy: 'Racist' booklet generates more controversy for fertility day

Already criticised for sexist, archaic messages, reproductive health campaign now in the dock over pamphlet photo

21/9/2016- The controversy surrounding Italy’s first fertility day, a day designed to encourage Italians to have children, was reignited on Wednesday following accusations that the cover of a booklet published by the health ministry illustrating good and bad personal habits was racist. The cover of the booklet showed two white couples, arms draped around one another, exhibiting behaviour that was good for fertility, while the image that represented poor habits showed a black person among a group doing drugs. The image, which appeared to show people smoking marijuana, looks like it was first used in an anti-drug campaign by the US state of Arizona, according to an image published by the Phoenix New Times. An article in La Repubblica said the contrast between the “good” and “bad” images smacked of racism and the booklet was criticised on social media outlets as being racist.

The accusation was rejected by health minister Beatrice Lorenzin, a member of the New Centre Right, a conservative coalition partner in prime minister Matteo Renzi’s centrist government, who is known for her opposition to parental rights for same-sex parents. She has been an outspoken critic of surrogacy, which is illegal in Italy. “The photos represent a homogeneity of people, as is the multi-ethnic society in which we live,” the health ministry said in a statement. “Racism is in the eye of the beholder.” The controversy came just weeks after the original ad campaign to promote the Thursday’s national fertility day, an initiative meant to raise awareness about infertility and promote reproductive health and fertility treatments, was widely derided as offensive. In one ad, a woman was shown holding an hourglass and the campaign included the slogan: “Beauty knows no age. Fertility does”. The campaign was dropped and was meant to be replaced by one that was more scientific and focused on useful information.
© The Guardian.

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Germany: Bautzen youth beat up pensioner in racist attack

In the Saxon town of Bautzen, which has become a byword for racism and anti-migrant sentiment, two youths have attacked a 72-year-old man, shouting 'foreigners out'.

23/9/2016- The as yet unidentified young men attacked the elderly man and then threw him to the ground, according to the police report. They then fled the scene and have so far evaded the police’s efforts to track them down. The victim is a German national of Algerian origin, who has lived in Germany for 40 years. In Bautzen last week, police broke up a street fight between young asylum seekers and locals affiliated with the far-right scene. Police reported being attacked with bottles and wooden planks by some of the asylum seekers. When they dispersed this group, people from the far-right scene pursued and attacked them. An ambulance which was taking a refugee to hospital also came under attack with stones, and the injured young man had to be be transferred to another vehicle.

Former communist East Germany has been the scene of several ugly incidents in which far-right extremists targeted asylum-seekers. In February, a cheering crowd was seen outside a burning asylum-seeker shelter in Bautzen, clapping and shouting: "Good, that's up in flames." That same weekend, a video emerged of far-right thugs intimidating refugees - including crying children - and preventing them from getting off a bus to get into another shelter in the eastern town of Clausnitz. President Joachim Gauck, who had on several occasions urged Germans to extend a welcoming hand to refugees, was booed during a visit to Bautzen, a town of 40,000 people which borders the Czech Republic. Germany recorded more than 1,000 attacks on refugee shelters last year, a five-fold annual rise.
© The Local - Germany

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German Government Fears Xenophobia Will Do Economic Harm

21/9/2016- Xenophobia is rising in the ex-communist east of Germany and risks tarnishing its reputation as a place to do business, the government said on Wednesday as it published its annual report on the state of German unification. Far-right violence and attacks on migrants rose dramatically last year, with riots and arson attacks on refugee shelters in the towns of Heidenau and Freital in Saxony state. More than one million, mainly Muslim migrants from the Middle East, Africa and Asia streamed into Germany over the course of 2015. “Right-wing extremism in all its forms poses a very serious threat for the social and economic development of the new states,” Iris Gleicke, the federal government’s commissioner for eastern German affairs, said, referring to the five states that comprised Communist East Germany from 1945 to 1990.

Germany recorded 1,408 violent acts carried out by rightist supporters last year, a rise of more than 42 percent from 2014, and 75 arson attacks on refugee shelters, up from five a year earlier, according to an annual report by the BfV domestic intelligence agency published in June. Attacks were more frequent in east German states. There were 58.7 cases of far right-motivated violence per 1 million inhabitants in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern last year, compared to the average of 10.5 cases in west German states, the report said. Gleicke said the vast majority of east Germans were not xenophobic. But she urged civil society groups and businesses to speak out more loudly against far-right extremism. “Society should not look away when people are attacked or refugee shelters are set on fire. A lot is on the line for east Germany,” said Gleicke, who is from the east.

Heidenau in Saxony became infamous when anti-refugee riots broke out and Chancellor Angela Merkel - who grew up in East Germany - was heckled by far-right activists as an alleged traitor for her open-door policy towards refugees. Germany’s acceptance of more than one million refugees last year boosted popular support for the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which is now represented in all of the eastern federal states. On trips abroad to Japan and California to try and drum up investment into east Germany, Gleicke said her interlocutors had cited concern about whether their foreign staff would be welcome and whether their investments would be safe. “It’s quite clear that a location that doesn’t show itself to be liberal-minded will face economic disadvantages,” she told a news conference.

More than 25 years after reunification, gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in east German states still lags that of west German states by more than 25 percent, hindered by a population decline and a lack of major employers. Not a single company in Germany’s blue-chip DAX index is headquartered in the east.
© Reuters

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Germany: New AfD Berlin senator: Nazi civilian killings were 'legal'

The AfD party admitted this week that one of their newest elected politicians was once part of an extremist group. And his Facebook posts reveal more about his troubling thoughts on the Nazis.

21/9/2016- One of the new members of Berlin’s state parliament from the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party used to be a member of the German Defence League - an extremist right-wing, anti-Islam group - the party confirmed on Monday. Kay Nerstheimer, who was elected to the parliament as a direct candidate for the eastern Lichtenberg district, had been a member of the group as recently as 2012, according to AfD regional chair Georg Pazderski. The German Defence League - styled after the English Defence League - declares that “Islam does not belong to Germany”, and says it will protect “our culture, values and traditions”. Pazderski claimed that Nerstheimer ended his activities with the group after it came under surveillance in 2013 by Germany’s domestic security agency, the Verfassungsschutz,.

The Berlin party leader also said that the AfD would look into Nerstheimer’s past and would “find a solution”, though national party leader Frauke Petry would not say whether they would consider dismissing him from the party. But as the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) reported on Tuesday, Nerstheimer’s extremist views did not start nor end with the German Defence League. Nerstheimer has repeatedly posted on Facebook in recent years messages glorifying the Nazi time, trivializing the acts of Nazi war criminals, and using certain phrases often espoused by the Third Reich.

The politician wrote a post in July 2013 which seemed to defend SS captain Erich Priebke on his 100th birthday. Priebke had been convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in Italy in 1998 for his role in the 1944 massacre at the Ardeatine caves in Rome, in which 335 Italian civilians were killed, including 75 Jews. In another post, Nerstheimer shared a photo of soldiers in Adolf Hitler’s army with the caption: “Each of them is a fine example to the people”. And as recently as July, Nerstheimer shared a link to a video with the title “It’s all a LIE! The true cause of the war of 1939”. The video showed a presentation by German author Gerd Schultze-Rhonhof, who disputes Germany's guilt in the Second World War, in one book even blaming Poland.

The day before this he had shared a post that posited an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that said “the forces that caused the First World War also caused the second one”. “Now they are on the edge of starting a third one and are always finding idiots that will obey them.” Nerstheimer referred to the civilian victims of German aggression as “guerrilla fighters” and said such people were not under the protection of the laws of war, SZ reports. “Therefore the shootings were legal,” Nerstheimer wrote. In a post from this past January, Nerstheimer called the wave of asylum seekers coming to Germany an “illegal invasion” and referred to refugees as “the parasites that feed on the juices of the German people”. He has also called Syrian refugees “simply disgusting vermin” and black people “Bimbos”, which in German is used as an offensive racial epithet.

As the SZ points out, Nazi propaganda often portrayed Jewish people as rodents and vermin. Nerstheimer is not the first AfD official to be accused of anti-Semitism, or downplaying the Nazis' atrocities. A politician in Baden-Württemberg described the Holocaust as "certain infamous actions" and Holocaust-deniers as dissidents in a book published in 2012. The resurfacing of the comments this year caused a rift in the party in July when co-leader Jörg Meuthen became angered that the local party's parliamentary group had failed to oust the politician, Wolfgang Gedeon, from their ranks.
© The Local - Germany

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Germany: Muslim women face job barriers - study

An experiment in Germany has found evidence of job discrimination against women with Turkish names - and even more if they wear an Islamic headscarf.

20/9/2016- A university researcher sent 1,500 identical CVs to German firms - except that some bore the name Meryem Ozturk and others the name Sandra Bauer. In 18.8% of cases Sandra Bauer was invited for interview, whereas the figure for Meryem was just 13.5%. When the photo of Meryem showed her in a headscarf only 4.2% invited her. The study was published by the Institute for the Study of Labour, in Bonn. The researcher was Doris Weichselbaumer from the University of Linz, in Austria. The findings are especially significant in light of Germany's current efforts to integrate record numbers of Muslim migrants, many of them refugees from the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. More than a million asylum seekers reached Germany last year, and there has been a backlash from nationalist groups, especially Pegida and Alternative for Germany (AfD). With an estimated three million people of Turkish origin, Germany is home to the largest Turkish diaspora.

'Modern-looking' headscarf
In her study, Ms Weichselbaumer said that "a very modern binding of the headscarf was chosen to signal that the applicant was a young, modern woman who could easily fit into a secular environment". It is normal in Germany to attach a photo to a job application, she pointed out. The result of the experiment "implies that the candidate with the headscarf had to send 4.5 times as many applications as an identical applicant with a German name and no headscarf to receive the same number of callbacks for interview", she said. Discrimination appeared to intensify when the job required a higher skill level. When Ms Ozturk in a headscarf was applying for a secretarial job she had to send off 3.5 times more applications than Ms Bauer. For the post of chief accountant Ms Ozturk had to make 7.6 times more applications. Ms Weichselbaumer has found similar levels of discrimination in Austria. A female Nigerian job applicant was only half as successful as an Austrian woman in getting invitations to interview, her research showed in 2013.
© BBC News

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Denmark: DF'er charged with racism for saying foreigners 'steal, rape and kill'

A rabid anti-immigration speech from a member of the Danish People’s Party (DF) will be investigated by police as a possible violation of Denmark’s racism law.

20/9/2016- Speaking at DF’s national meeting in Herning over the weekend, Cheanne Nielsen delivered remarks that have been widely criticised by her political opponents. Nielsen, a delegate from Copenhagen, lashed out at immigrants and what she perceived as a lacklustre effort from the government – which has rolled out one set of immigration restrictions after another – to sufficiently limit the number of foreigners living in Denmark. “Why should foreigners take care of themselves, now that they can require rent and pocket money from the state as soon as they come here?” Nielsen wondered. “They make a mess, they cheat, they steal, they rape and they kill,” she added. While the DF crowd ate up the comments and greeted the gross generalization with applause, Nielsen’s remarks were widely criticized by members of Denmark’s other political parties and were given a slight reprimand by DF leader Kristian Thuelsen Dahl, who said Nielsen “went too far” but declined to strip her of her party membership.

Roskilde resident Mille Stockner viewed Nielsen’s comments as a clear violation of Denmark’s racism law and started a petition to report her to the police. Over 6,000 people added their names and on Tuesday, Stockner filed an official complaint with the West Zealand Police. “In my view, these comments are such extreme generalizations of an ethnic group that they are a clearly in violation of Paragraph 266b [the so-called ‘racism paragraph’, ed.]. This is also a case of using such comments as propaganda when they are expressed from the podium of a large national gathering,” Stockner wrote in the petition. Nielsen attempted to walk back her comments in a Facebook post written on Tuesday. “At the national meeting, I gave a speech. Unfortunately, I said ‘foreigners’ and not ‘MANY foreigners’. This has been interpreted to mean that I think ALL foreigners [cheat, steal, rape and kill, ed.]. It goes without saying that there aren’t problems with ALL foreigners. Many of them take good care of themselves and want to be a part of Danish society. But there are problems with many foreigners and we should be able to talk about it,” she wrote.

Nielsen’s comments weren’t the only ones to garner headlines from the DF national meeting. Marlene Harpsøe, who represents the party in parliament, also received a fair amount of criticism for her suggestion on how Denmark should handle rejected asylum seekers. “There are often reports of difficulties in sending rejected asylum seekers back home. It is very, very expensive when the trip is made by plane. We waste an incredible amount of police resources on it. So, dear gathering, I have a much better idea. Give the migrants a pair of sneakers. If they can walk all the way up here, they can also walk home again,” Harpsøe said to rapturous applause.
© The Local - Denmark

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Luxembourg: Petition 698: 'No racist, xenophobic statements'

As of Tuesday, over 12,000 signatures have been collected for Petition 698.

20/9/2016- Petition 698 calls for Luxembourgish to be considered the first official language and national language for all citizens in Luxembourg. The controversial petition has hit a new record: as a comparison, Petition 621 (calling for the closure of the Cattenom power plant) was backed by 10,007 signers. Petition 698 has also received quite the buzz on social media, gaining an ever-increasing political dimension. Even the author of the petition himself, Lucien Welter, chimed in on the discussion on his Facebook page.

Not part of a right-wing agenda
Welter has expressed his surprise at the interest the issue has garnered, but he wanted to make one thing certain: "I dissociate myself from any racist, populist and xenophobic statements," he said. The goal of the petition, in fact, was not to exclude others: rather, he acknowledges the uniqueness of the Grand Duchy, with all its diversity in culture and its multilingualism. Welter had previously stated that he wanted to "save the Luxembourgish language before it disappears". Petition 698 then is in no way meant to devalue or discredit other languages used in Luxembourg. And if there are others who were to use Welter's petition to spread their own right-wing agenda, he would distance himself from it.


© The Luxembourger Wort

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Netherlands: Social media overload: many discrimination complaints go unanswered

23/9/2016- The public prosecution department is unable to cope with all the complaints it has received about discrimination, and some 75% of reports never even reach its offices, according to research by RTL News. The department has pledged to look carefully at ‘all complaints about discrimination’ but most are set aside without being checked by department officials, the broadcaster’s researchers say. RTL found that between 2005 and 2013, police received an average of 416 complaints about discrimination a year. But only an average of 123 were actually passed on to the prosecution department. A spokeswoman for the department admitted the difficulties, saying the arrival of social media had made it easy to insult and threaten people.

Choices
‘We have to make choices,’ spokeswoman Gabrielle Hoppenbrouwers told RTL. The department’s guidelines are being amended to reflect the change, Hoppenbrouwers said. The Dutch human rights commission says it considers it worrying that so many complaints go unanswered at a time when young people are becoming less likely to register such issues. ‘Youngsters tend to think… you can’t do anything about racism, particularly on social media like Facebook and Twitter,’ said Adriana van Dooijeweert. ‘That worries me.’ Social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher told RTL that all cases of discrimination hurt people deeply but that not every case can be prosecuted. ‘We are doing a lot and we are going to look if there is any more we can do,’ Asscher said.
© The Dutch News

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Netherlands: Far-right party to protest at Sinterklaas' arrival

21/9/2016- Extreme right-wing group NVU is planning a protest at the national arrival of Sinterklaas in Maaslluis on November 12th, the group writes on its website. “I am not ashamed of Zwarte Piet. Stop the kids festival haters”, the party writes. The NVU will apply for a protesting permit next week, foreman Kuipers Constantine said to newspaper AD. “I expect that we, as with other events where we were present, will be assigned a box where we can stand. We only want to let a positive sound be heard. Other groups want to collide with us, not us with those groups.”
© The NL Times

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Netherlands: Two police officers to face charges after Aruban tourist death

19/9/2016- Two police officers are to face criminal proceedings in connection with the death of an Aruban tourist after he was arrested in The Hague last year, the public prosecution service said on Monday. Mitch Henriquez, 42, died in hospital after being held in choke hold during his arrest at a music festival in a city park. The public prosecutor said two of the five officers involved in the arrest had not acted in line with official guidelines and this is the reason why they face prosecution. The arrest itself, a spokesman told website Nu.nl, was correct. ‘He [Henriquez] was sent away and came back talking about a weapon,’ the spokesman is quoted as saying. ‘The police believed he was disturbing the peace.’ Nevertheless, he did not pose such a risk that the violence used to arrest him was merited and he could have been subdued in other ways, the spokesman said.

Force
An internal police report seen by RTL news said that police had used ‘disproportionate force’ during the arrest. An investigation by two police scientists said the arrest team made a string of errors and failed to follow procedures in restraining Henriquez, RTL reported at the weekend. As well as using the choke hold, they used pepper spray at close range and rubbed it in his face, going against rules that state it should only be used from a distance. After Henriquez lost consciousness the officers lifted and bundled him into a riot van when they should have called an ambulance, the report noted. As a result medical assistance arrived too late to the scene. Police discovered that Henriquez had no pulse when he arrived at the station, but did not begin resuscitating him for a further five minutes, the report said.
© The Dutch News

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Hungarian prime minister demands EU 'round up migrants and put them on an island'

22/9/2016- Hungary’s prime minister has called for the EU to “round up” illegal immigrants and deport them to guarded camps “on an island or North Africa.” The comments are likely to further inflame tensions with other EU governments who say Budapest’s ultra-hard line on migration flouts both international law and fundamental European values. Viktor Orban made the comments as he lashed out at Angela Merkel’s refugee policy, saying it was unfair for Berlin to try to distribute migrants across EU member states. "This could be an island, it could be a coastal area in North Africa, but the security and supplies of that area must be guaranteed by the EU in its own interest," Mr Orban told Origo, a Hungarian news website, in an interview published on Thursday. "Those who came illegally must be rounded up and shipped out," he said. "We must set up large refugee camps outside the EU, with armed security and financial support provided by the Union. Everyone who came illegally must return there. There they can file for asylum," he added.

It is not the first time Mr Orban has caused controversy with his hard line rhetoric against migrants, whom he has previously called a “poison”. He has ordered the construction of a razor wire fence along Hungary’s southern border, suggested hanging "pigs heads" on it, and has said he would refuse to take the share of refugees Hungary is obliged to accept under EU law. His government is sponsoring a referendum to be held on October 2 on whether Hungary should reject EU quotas to resettle migrants among member states. Hungarian media have reported that he may push for fundamental amendments to the Lisbon Treaty if a large majority of Hungarians back him in the referendum. His rhetoric has been met with increasing frustration by other European governments, who accuse him of flouting both EU law and fundamental European values. On Wednesday, Nordic countries called for Hungary to be punished over its hard line stance on the immigration crisis.

Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden co-signed a letter expressing their "great concern" at Budapest's refusal to act by the Dublin rules, under which refugees must seek asylum in the first EU country they enter. They called on Dimitris Avramopoulo, the EU migration commissioner, to “take measures” promptly against Budapest’s violation of EU law. Earlier this month Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg's foreign minister, said Hungary should be suspended from the European Union for violating democratic core values and treating refugees like "animals". Austria has also threatened to bring a case against its neighbour in the European courts. The British embassy in Budapest on Thursday raised concerns with the Hungarian government after it issued an official leaflet describing parts of London as “no-go areas” because of immigration. The leaflet included a map showing around 900 "no-go areas" in European cities with large immigrant populations, including London, Paris and Berlin. "This leaflet is clearly inaccurate," the Foreign Office said. "There are no areas in the UK in which the laws of the UK cannot be enforced."
© The Telegraph

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Hungary should combat, racism, xenophobia, hate speech - Council of Europe

Roma in Hungary continue to suffer systemic discrimination and inequality in all fields of life, the Council if Europe has said in its latest report on Monday. It called on Hungarian authorities to "bolster efforts to combat manifestations of intolerance, racism, xenophobia and hate speech present in Hungarian society including in the media and the political arena."

19/9/2016- [...] there is a widely acknowledged perception of an increase in xenophobia and intolerance within Hungarian society directed in particular against the Roma and the Jewish community. Also, the uncompromising stance taken by the authorities during the current migration waves has fuelled xenophobic and intolerant attitudes against refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities of the Council of Europe said in a nearly 50-page report dated 12 September. It also noted that there have been reports of physical attacks against the Roma in recent years. "In the political arena, extremist movements and parties continue to spread prejudice and hate speech against the Roma, with the Internet becoming the principal medium for dissemination of anti-Gypsy and anti-Semitic rhetoric. The susceptibility of a significant part of society to openly xenophobic and discriminatory rhetoric is a source of grave concern."

Systemic discrimination in all fields of life
The Council also said "Roma continue to suffer systemic discrimination and inequality in all fields of life including housing, employment, education, access to health and participation in social and political life." In addition, evidence collected by the authorities shows that "segregation of Roma school children has become more widespread in recent years". "Alarmingly, discrimination of Roma children has deepened, in particular as a result of the approach of "benevolent segregation" promoted by the authorities by which Roma children are expected to "catch up" in separate Roma classes before their supposed inclusion in the mainstream education."

Catastrophic Roma employment figures
"Regrettably, Roma continue to be excluded from effective participation in social and economic life," the Council said. "The unemployment among Roma is a source of grave concern. Roma account for 25 to 30% of the registered unemployed (100,000-130,000 persons) and according to the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights research.," it added. 68% claim to have been the object of discrimination within the last five years in their efforts to find employment. Consequently, only 2% to 2.5% of the total number of employed people are Roma, although they constitute approximately 7% of the population of Hungary.

Low compulsory school attendance age raises serious concerns
"The lowering of the compulsory school-attendance age from 18 to 16, which was introduced by the National Public Education Act of 2011, raises serious concerns," said the pan-European organisation comprising 47 countries. " Given the high rate of repetition of classes and the lack of entrenched culture of school attendance among Roma children, in particular young Roma girls many of whom will have left school by the age of 16 without completing primary education," the Council added. It also noted that this will impact very significantly on their employment prospects as most jobs require a completed 8th grade of education. A combination of the difficulties experienced in education results in only 1% of Roma children reaching tertiary education.

Worse health conditions
The health indicators for the Roma population are significantly lower than those of the majority population. Consequenty, the average life expectancy of Roma in Hungary is ten years shorter compared to the entire population. The Council of Europe has also made recommendations for Hungarian authorities: to intensify measures aimed at promoting access to employment for Roma, to continue their support to guarantee equal access to health-care services for Roma, to consider making a course on Romology a compulsory element of medical studies to make health professionals aware of Roma cultural sensibility as regards health care.

Issues for immediate action:
# promote tolerance and respectful attitudes amongst the majority population;
# bolster efforts to combat manifestations of intolerance, racism, xenophobia and hate speech present in Hungarian society including in the media and the political arena and # # # monitor the situation more effectively;
# investigate and apply adequate sanctions when necessary;
# ensure that the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights is granted all the support needed to continue carrying out his role effectively, particularly as regards the enforcement of recommendations with a view to strengthening the Commissioner's competences;
# continue to make available the resources needed to operate efficiently and independently;
# reinforce the competences of the Deputy Commissioner responsible for the protection of the rights of nationalities by empowering the office holder to undertake investigations on the Deputy’s own initiative;
# make sustained and effective efforts to prevent, combat and sanction the inequality and discrimination suffered by the Roma;
# improve, in close consultation with Roma representatives the living conditions, access to health services and employment of the Roma;
# take necessary measures, as a matter of urgency and without further delay, to end practices that lead to the continued segregation of Roma children at school and redouble efforts to remedy other shortcomings faced by Roma children in the field of education;
# ensure that Roma children have equal opportunities for access to all levels of quality education, in particular by preventing placement in "catching-up classes";
# take decisive measures to prevent children from being wrongfully placed in special schools.

And now let’s hear what Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s cabinet chief, János Lázár, has to say on the subject of the Roma and migrants.
Hundreds of thousands of migrants may come to Hungary [and] I don’t know how we could live with them. We have been living together with gypsies for 600 years yet we were unable to solve their problems.
© Portfolio Hungary

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Czech Rep: Police accuse five young men of defacing HateFree premises

19/9/2016- Czech police have levelled accusations against five young men who are suspected of spraying Nazi symbols and threats on the walls of Prague cafes and shops that participate in the HateFree campaign, police spokesman Tomas Hulan told CTK on Monday. The perpetrators may face up to three years in prison if found guilty of harming other people's property and supporting a movement aimed at suppressing the human rights and freedoms, Hulan said. Apart from the Hate Free cafes and shops, the vandals also defaced a metro vestibule in central Prague, he said. Defaming inscriptions such as Death to HateFree, and neo-Nazi symbols were sprayed on the buildings' facades in the night to April 24.

After assessing them, experts concluded that the texts and symbols clearly express support for neo-Nazi movements, which, on their part, claim adherence to the Third Reich and Nazi Germany, Hulan said. The HateFree Culture group was established by the government Agency for social inclusion in 2013 and has been subsidised by the EU funds and Norway grants. Its goal is to react to displays of hatred on the Internet and in everyday life. A symbol of the initiative is a pink sticker with white letters which the shops involved put on their doors or shop windows. The vandals evidently focused on the HateFree shops in reaction to the owners' position of tolerance towards minorities and refugees.
© The Prague Daily Monitor

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Finland may ban neo-Nazi groups after death of man at far-right protest

Finland may outlaw neo-Nazi groups after an assault at a far-right protest resulted in a man’s death.

22/9/2016- Police Commissioner Seppo Kolehmainen will raise the prospect of a ban with the prosecutor general’s office, according to Yle news. But days earlier, Kolehmainen had acknowleged that any ban could prove problematic as members could act independently. The suspect Jesse Torniainen, born in 1990, has been detained for probable cause of assault and grossly negligent homicide. Torniainen is a founding member of the neo-Nazi group Suomen Vastarintaliike SVL (Finnish Resistance Movement), according to police.

The SVL had protested outside Helsinki Railway Station on September 10, 2016. Jimi Karttunen, 28, had walked past the protest and noticed their neo-Nazi flags. According to his father, Jimi approached them to ‘challenge their ideology’. Police confirmed the Jimi had spat in the direction of the neo-Nazis. Words were exchanged, and Jimi continued walking towards the train station. Moments later, a member of the SVL, allegedly Jesse Torniainen, ran after Jimi and kicked him in the chest, causing him to fall backwards onto the concrete. Jimi needed stitches in the back of his head following the assault. He developed a cerebral hemorrhage and died several days later. Some have speculated that this incident was preventable. Police in Helsinki later confirmed that the notice to protest on September 9. The original notification made no reference to the real intention of the protest. Nor did it reference the SVL. So for police, it became a question of resources in a city where multiple protests occurred on September 10.

Jimi’s death shocked the nation. A small vigil outside Helsinki Central Station attracted dozens of wellwishers. Someone had written ‘Stop the Hate’ in yellow chalk near the vigil. Prime Minister Juha Sipilä called for a review of legislation concerning the legality of violent organisations. The Ministry of Interior will also consider banning violent extremist organisations. Yet, Finland’s Security Intelligence Service, Supo, do not consider right-wing extremism a threat to national security. The Helsinki Times reported that Jesse Torniainen has a history of violence. He may face further charges for his alleged involvement in a violent far-right protest and two assaults in 2015. Nor does the influence of the SVL exist in a vacuum. Mika Ranta, a member of the SVL, went on to form the Soldiers of Odin. Ranta, however, denies any link between the groups.

The SVL seeks to unite Nordic and Baltic states under the banner of national socialism. A former leader of the movement claimed the SVL has between 60-70 active members. It sounds small but it has grown in recent years. Like other extreme far-right groups, the movement is not just ideological. It seeks to create a subculture and sense of group identity. This includes martial arts training and presentation evenings.
© Tell Mama

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Finland: Police: Helsinki assailant a founding member of neo-Nazi group

Police confirmed on that Monday the suspected assailant who turned himself in following the death of a man at a neo-Nazi demonstration is a founding member of the neo-Nazi Finnish Resistance Movement and reportedly has a violent background. The case has spawned broad condemnation from the government and opposition leaders.

19/9/2016- A 28-year-old man received serious head injury after a verbal confrontation with demonstrators became violent. The victim was hospitalised for nearly a week. A day after he was released the man died from a brain aneurism. According to police the alleged assailant turned himself in over the weekend, but would not disclose whether the suspect confessed to the assault. The incident is being investigated as a case of assault and involuntary manslaughter. Lead investigator of the preliminary inquiry, Teemu Kruskopf said the suspect was a founding member of the Finnish Resistance Movement. "The suspect has, in the police's view, been a major player in the Finnish Resistance Movement," Kruskopf said. "According to our information, he was one of the founders of the movement in 2008 in Oulu." Newspaper Helsingin Sanomat reported on Monday that the suspect had been convicted of several violent crimes in the past.

Police: "Victim died of a head injury"
"In our view the victim died of a head injury after being kicked," Kruskopf said. Kruskopf told Yle that he interviewed the victim at the hospital right after the assault. "The man told me that he had spit when he walked by the group of demonstrators who gathered by Helsinki Central Railway Station," Kruskopf said. Kruskopf told Yle TV1's morning programme that the man had stopped in front of the demonstrators and that words were exchanged. After that the victim had begun to walk away from the group of demonstrators, he said. One of the demonstrators left the group and chased after the man and kicked him in the chest, causing the victim to fall to the ground when he hit his head. On Tuesday police will decide whether to recommend that the suspect be detained, which police said would be very likely.

PM and Foreign Minister condemn violent acts in Helsinki, Otanmäki
Writing in his blog Monday afternoon, Prime Minister Juha Sipilä said that it is now important to throughly review the legality of organisations that embrace violence. He added that if necessary, the law would be revised. The Centre Party chair also called for a review to determine whether or not Finnish legislation is up to date on intervening in hate-motivated speech and actions. He noted that discussions online and in social media tend to quickly get out of hand. The PM wrote that he condemned all forms of violence, racism and hate speech. Sipilä extended condolences to the family and loved ones of the victim in the Helsinki incident, as well as the Finnish man who was killed, allegedly by asylum seekers, in Otanmäki in Kajaani two weeks ago. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister and Finns Party chair Timo Soini described the incidents that took place in Helsinki and Otanmäki as simply wrong. He also declared that violence is wrong, including the threat of violence. "Human life is sacred to me, from the womb to the tomb," he wrote.

National Coalition Party chair: Ban violent extremist groups
Reacting to the incident, Finland's Minister of Finance - and former Minister of the Interior and current chair of the National Coalition Party - Petteri Orpo said he was very concerned about the situation in Finland. Orpo said that he thinks violent extremist organisations should be banned, and said that he expects that the Ministry of the Interior will thoroughly look into the matter. "If we can find ways to ban political organisations which use violence, I support it," Orpo said, adding that the idea of prohibiting violent organisations by law was already discussed by a previous government. However, he said that legal experts at the time were divided over how that would be possible.

Supo: Extreme organisations not a security threat
Orpo said that he considers extreme right-wing groups to be a threat to national security, but says that's not out of line with a comment made by the head of the Finnish Security Intelligence Service, Supo. When Yle asked Supo for comment about the assault, the agency declined. Supo chief inspector Tuomas Portaankorva told Yle that Supo doesn’t consider right wing extremist groups in themselves to be a direct threat to state security. Orpo said that the case of the assault at Helsinki's train station was a single incident, but ackowledged an underlying growth of extremist atttitudes in Finland. He said he is deeply concerned about the country. "Now, if ever, we need patience and tolerance in Finland. The vast majority that rejects this [violence] must act together, with determination."

Opposition calls for action
For her part, chair of the opposition Left Alliance Li Andersson noted that one major problem is that the threat posed by violent groups in Finland has not been taken seriously enough. She said that the legality of extremist organisations could be examined but says that there are already laws on the books that enable law enforcement to intervene in the activities of extremist groups. Meanwhile Antti Rinne, chair of the largest opposition party the Social Democrats, called on Prime Minister Juha Sipilä to lead his administration and ensure that it considers any legislative changes needed to address the situation. He said that racist and extremist activity should not be tolerated in Finland. He suggested amending the criminal code to ban racist organised activity. "If any party provides a breeding ground for this kind of activity [violent extremism] and does not clearly condemn it, that party carries a grave responsibility," Rinne declared.
© YLE News.

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France: In Frejus, far-right FN faces test of leadership

19/9/2016- In the southern French town of Frejus, National Front (FN) mayor David Rachline is performing a balancing act that epitomizes the far-right party's strategy -- trying to prove it can run things while retaining its anti-establishment image. The stakes are high for the FN, which won just under a dozen towns including Frejus in 2014 municipal elections, and wants to use its track record in those areas to support its quest for power at a nation level. Aged only 28 and a rising star in the FN, Rachline had a relatively low-key, business-as-usual, start to his tenure. But then he started pushing the party's trademark anti-migration agenda by cutting subsidies to an association helping migrant workers and trying to stop plans to build a mosque.

As France's April 2017 presidential election draws nearer, the tension between providing basic city management and courting controversy is becoming more acute and scrutiny is certain to grow after Rachline became campaign director for FN chief Marine Le Pen at the weekend. Le Pen, seen by opinion polls as likely to make the second round of the presidential election but lose a run-off, gave a ringing endorsement of Rachline and stressed the significance of what he was doing when she launched her campaign in Frejus. "He represents success ... his success in managing his town is a way to silence those who have relentlessly said the National Front could not implement its program," she told reporters on Saturday.A resort town of 55,000 which hosts three to four times as many people over the summer, Frejus is the biggest constituency managed by the FN, making it an important test of the party.

Rachline, who was one of a few dozen mayors who banned the full body burkini swimwear on the beach this summer -- an issue which underlined tensions with France's large Muslim population -- says he is the victim of unfair criticism by some media and political opponents because of his party allegiance. "I'm a democratically elected mayor who works for the good of the community," he told Reuters in an interview, when asked what being an FN mayor is about. Fixing the town's finances and ensuring its security were his priorities, he added.

Stirring Controversy
Rachline, who joined the FN aged 14, does not shy away from controversy and staunchly defends some of the moves for which critics attack him -- including boycotting local journalists. "He is an FN mayor. By the very nature of the FN he needs clashes, this party cannot be only about going more mainstream or it would lose what makes it different," said Sylvain Crepon, a specialist on the FN at the French university of Tours. "He does that skillfully," he said of Rachline. Rachline has fallen out with local journalists, political opponents and activists in recent months. In June, his administration began boycotting regional newspaper Var-Matin, accusing it of talking down the town and political bias.

At the same time, the mayor became involved in a public row with center-right city councillor Francoise Cauwel, prompting her to file a complaint with local police accusing Rachline of a sexist slur. Rachine says he does not recall using the disputed phrase and that it would not have been that bad even if he had said it. "Things are getting increasingly tense, more radical," Cauwel told Reuters. After articles on trees being cut down to make space for a concert by veteran rock star Johnny Hallyday, of whom Rachline is a huge fan, the municipality said it would not talk to Var-Matin's local reporting team any more. It also stopped providing the newspaper with routine information including birth and deaths in the town.

The municipality's own monthly magazine, distributed to residents for free, devoted three pages in its September edition to complaining about the daily's coverage under the headline "Var-Matin is sullying our town." Eric Farel, the head of Var-Matin's Frejus team, says such a move is unprecedented. "My feeling is that as we're getting closer to the presidential election they don't want stories that would allow one to say the FN's management of a city is not fine." Some local activists also complain. "We're against the city's current policies and in an FN city when you're against them, you are the enemy, you are ostracized," said Jean-Paul Radigois, the head of an association of inhabitants of Frejus' beach area that opposes the mayor's development plans there. Rachline brushes this aside, saying his project is necessary to develop tourism and give city staff a better place to work. "Democracy is at the moment of elections, I don't know if they (activists) know about that. It's not about petitions," he said.

No Money for Migrants
As for the mosque, now built and operational in an under-privileged borough, Rachline insists his opposition to it is about building permits and not against having a mosque as such. The city and the association that built the mosque have been embroiled for years in legal proceedings that are still ongoing. "In the absence of a building permit, it (the mosque) must be destroyed -- like any building, I insist, that wouldn't have a building permit," Rachline said. He is much more blunt, however, about scrapping a subsidy to the ASTI association that gives support to migrant workers on issues including how to claim pensions. Asked to confirm the end to municipal subsidies to ASTI, Rachline said: "Well, obviously!" And added: "I don't give a cent to migrant workers or to migrants in general." In the streets of the old town of Frejus, with typical Provencal, pastel-colored houses, reactions are mixed.

Restaurant owner Patrick Loidreau says things have never been better. "When we see how well Rachline and his team are managing Frejus, reducing the debt without raising taxes, if Marine Le Pen came to power, we would be saved," said Loidreau, an FN voter who agrees with the party's anti-immigration agenda. But others differed. "It's hard to be a political opponent in an FN city, we are constantly singled out," said Insaf Rezagui, a local Socialist party representative. The young woman of Algerian descent says her origins are one of the reasons why she's targeted. In April, Rachline commented on a tweet by a journalist who wrote Rezagui might be a candidate in general elections by asking if there were elections in Palestine. Rachline points out that the FN increased its share of the vote in regional polls that took place 18 months after his election, saying this is proof that residents back his policies.

He says he's getting results. The municipality's website says the town's debt per inhabitant will have dropped from 2705 euros ($3,020) in 2014 to 2447 this year. "We've been told a lot that we wouldn't be able to manage local authorities ... I believe we are showing here that we are capable of this and that we are even more capable than others," he said. ($1 = 0.8954 euros)
© Reuters

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UK: Police chief who ‘compared gay equality to Nazi Germany’ facing disciplinary probe

A police chief who made a number of homophobic comments is facing disciplinary action.

19/9/2016- Detective Chief Inspector Mick Neville, who heads the Metropolitan Police’s Central Images Unit, is facing a probe from the Directorate of Professional Standards. It comes after flags were raised via the Independent Police Complaints Commission about public posts Neville had made on Facebook. The Sun newspaper has claimed that the police chief was suspended for “posting support for Brexit online” and “opposing gay marriage” – but PinkNews found a trail of public anti-LGBT posts on his page dating back years. In the posts seen by PinkNews, made over a five-year stretch from 2011 until this year, the police chief repeatedly complained about gay equality and drew comparisons to Nazis, while decrying “left-wing idiots” and migrants “who have turned London into a foreign city” On March 18 this year, he wrote: “At Orpington station. Poster: ‘It is ok to be gay, not all right to be late for rugby training.’.

“Read paper – teacher at primary school pushing ‘transgender’ issues onto primary school children. Arrived at London Live studio – film about gay footballers being promoted. “I am getting sick & tired off all this propaganda. I feel that I am living in the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany, with all this being rammed down my throat. Anyone else sick & tired of this? OR just too frightened to stand up to this politically correct campaign?” In a post from 2014 he commentated on Stonewall founder Lord Cashman, who first made his name appearing on EastEnders, entering the House of Lords. He wrote: “The new members of the House of Lords…………..no wonder people have no faith in our ‘rulers’. Crooks & tax avoiders. “Little of substance. I also note Cashman (of first ‘gay’ kiss on TV) is included. Just in case anyone thought that Eastenders / Coronation St were just fodder for the masses………in reality they are propaganda…..of which Dr Goebbels would have been proud of.”

Despite the Sun claiming he “makes no mention of his police role” on the site, in one post he publicly attacked a former colleague – the Met’s gay former Deputy Assistant Commissioner Brian Paddick, now a Lib Dem peer – for “announcing his sexual conquests in the canteen”. In another post from 2014, he wrote: “Modern Britain – The Enviroment [sic] Agency is proud of being in the top ten employers of gays & lesbians (and has sponsored a Gay Pride event)………………..but it is crap at sorting out floods. The MADNESS of Left wing thought comes home to roost…..” Sharing a news article about an LGBT rugby team, he wrote: “Sometimes I feel I live in an occupied country, where the leaders’ views & propoganda [sic] are completely different from mine. “I am all for live & let live. BUT it is the constant ramming of PC ideas down my throat that gets on my nerves. Goebbels used sport for propoganda [sic] ….nothing changes. A lesbian, gay & transgender rugby league team………………unbelievable…”

In a post about a Christian housing worker’s legal battle over a homophobia charge, he wrote: “A victory over Left wing, political correct zealots!!! “All my family has fought for this country for five generations to preserve our way of life & freedoms. In the name of ‘equality’ these evil creatures try to stop all opinions except their own.” Of same-sex marriage, he wrote: “Gay marriage – the usual trendy nonsense. If politicians really gave a damn – why not sort out marriage in Brixton & other inner city places?? “In those places there are too many youngsters born into a life of poverty & gang membership, without any male role models and even fewer fathers. Also – what about the PROMISE to aid marriage by tax relief – no doubt forgotten…… We are ruled by idiots & charlatans.” In a separate post, he added: “Do we live in an asylum?? …….can someone explain why politicians are spending their time discussing gay ‘marriage’???”
© The Pink News

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UK: Edinburgh mosque fire attack being investigated as a hate crime

18/9/2016- A mosque in Scotland's capital has been damaged by fire in an incident police are treating as a hate crime. Edinburgh Central Mosque, in Potterow, sustained minor fire damage to the door and a small bush in the garden after an object was thrown at the building at about 2.10am on Sunday. Detective Inspector John Kavanagh said: "Fortunately, no-one was injured as a result of this incident but the consequences could have been far worse had the fire taken hold and spread. "I would ask that anyone who remembers seeing any suspicious activity around the mosque, or within the Potterrow area, contacts police immediately." Chief Inspector Mark Rennie, local area commander for south east Edinburgh, said: "This was a despicable and reckless act which we are treating as a hate crime.

"We have launched a thorough investigation to identify anyone involved and anyone who believes they have information that can assist with our inquiries is urged to get in touch." Earlier this month, the National Police Chiefs’ Council released figures showing that in the week following the vote to leave the EU the number of incidents rose by 58 per cent. The figures for the two weeks between 5 and 18 August show 2,778 recorded hate crime incidents across the country. This was a decline of 479 incidents compared to the previous week, but still a 14 per cent increase on this time last year. Nick Ryan, the spokesman for anti-racism campaign group Hope Not Hate told The Independent: "While we welcome any drop in hate crime figures, the number of incidents still remains on a year-on-year high. "For a few people, the Brexit decision was a chance to vent deep-seated hatred of others: this is completely deplorable and perpetrators need to face the full force of the law.
© The Independent

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Headlines 16 September, 2016

Greece: Islands in a furor over rumors of more migrant hot spots

16/9/2016- Local authorities on the Greek islands of Lesvos and Chios – both on the front line of the migrant crisis threatening European cohesion – have reacted strongly to suggestions that more migrant and refugee processing centers are to be built on their territory, as Greece struggles to manage growing numbers of arrivals. In Lesvos, where the municipal authority and residents have been distinguished for their tolerance and support of refugees and migrants arriving from nearby Turkey, construction work at a disused military base on the island’s north has raised a furor amid rumors that it is being transformed into a so-called hot spot. The island already has one such facility at Moria, which is dangerously above maximum capacity levels, as well as an informal center at Kara Tepe that is also stretched to its limits.  Speaking to the ANA-MPA news agency, military sources on the island would not confirm whether the base was being transformed into a migrant reception center, saying that they were acting on orders from Athens to carry out specific work.

Regional Governor for the Northern Aegean Christiana Kalogirou reacted to rumors of a new camp, saying that she had gotten in touch with Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas earlier in the week, and that such an “issue never arose.” She has also written several letters to central authorities stressing the need for measures to relieve some of the pressure on islands, which are currently hosting an estimated 13,000 migrants in facilities designed to hold just 8,000, from the around 60,000 trapped throughout Greece. “We have repeatedly written letters underlining with absolute emphasis the need to relieve pressure on the islands and that the limits of the Northern Aegean islands’ capacity to host migrants and refugees have been completely exhausted,” Kalogirou told ANA-MPA.

Lesvos Mayor Spyros Galinos, who has spearheaded several efforts to improve migrants’ living conditions and placate disgruntled residents, has also written to Mouzalas, as well as to Citizens’ Protection Minister Nikos Toskas and Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, expressing his “categorical opposition to any such effort or even to any intention of the relevant ministries to create a new refugee and migrant reception facility on the island.” After making these letters public, Galinos said that he considers it “unconscionable” that the local authority should be “informed of these intentions via the reports of ordinary citizens and rumors, instead of there being an official briefing and consultation about an issue that is so important to Lesvos and its citizens.”

Galinos called for an emergency meeting to be held between all the relevant authorities in order to discuss the situation on the island. “I have repeatedly stressed in previous letters the dangerously explosive climate, which dictates the immediate decongestion of the island and underscores our inability to shoulder any more responsibility related to the management of the migrant crisis,” Galinos told ANA-MPA. Underscoring his concerns, riot police had to intervene on Thursday night when a brawl broke out between dozens of Senegalese and Algerian migrants at Moria. This was just one more in a string of rows that have been sparked by cramped living conditions and long delays in processing in Lesvos, Chios, Kos and other host islands. Meanwhile, residents of Moria have organized a protest rally on Monday to call for measures to decongest the camp there. The rally will also be attended by members of the local hoteliers’ association, which has warned of the negative effect on tourism of the operation of the two camps.

On Friday, Mouzalas also denied rumors that three new hot spots are being planned on the island of Chios, following complaints from local authorities there. Speaking in Parliament, Mouzalas said that only one facility is in the works and is intended to take in residents currently staying at a camp set up in a defunct factory that is also stretched beyond its capacity, as well as from other informal camps on the island. He said funds of 3.7 million euros have been set aside for the project.
© The Kathimerini.

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Iceland: Neo-Nazis Reportedly Threaten Muslim

16/9/2016- Two men reportedly confronted and threatened former Muslim Society of Iceland chairperson Salmann Tamimi in Kópavogur yesterday, and he has refused to remain silent about the incident. Salmann took to Facebook to describe the events that transpired, which he called “a frightening experience” that took place just outside the supermarket Krónan in Kópavogur. He says that he and a friend were standing outside the supermarket when they were confronted by two men, “one tall and the other short”, who addressed Salmann by name and began talking about last month’s demonstration held by the Icelandic National Front (INF). The INF is a right wing party that opposes Iceland’s immigration law (although they don’t seem to know what the law actually says), and their demonstration was met with counterprotestors who outnumbered them almost 4 to 1.

The shorter man reportedly asked Salmann repeatedly if he supported the “violence” perpetrated by counterprotestors, possibly referring to a young woman who smashed one of the INF’s protest signs, injuring no one. Salmann responded that he knew of no violence that occurred at the demonstration, but that he does not condone the use of force. “They both threatened to use violence against protestors the next time this event takes place,” Salmann writes. “He stepped close to me, leaned into my face, pointed at his muscles and said, ‘We are the power’. At the same time, the tall man lifted his T-shirt to show a large tattoo reading SS, and the other man was with the same tattoo on the back of his head.” Salmann included a photo of the SS symbol depicted in the tattoo, which is the insignia of the Schutzstaffel, or the SS of the Third Reich. As reported, the Nordic Resistance Movement, a neo-Nazi group originating in Sweden, told reporters they were actively seeking recruits in Iceland. This, coupled with the visible presence of the INF, has been cause for concern to many Icelanders, and Icelanders are already responding to Salmann’s experience.

Illustrator and comic artist Hugleikur Dagsson, for example, wrote a lengthy note on Facebook, entitled “Dear Moron”, specifically addressed to the INF and Odin’s Army, another white power group trying to gain a foothold in Iceland. “Stop hiding behind freedom of expression,” Hugleikur writes in part. “Just because you can say what you’re saying it doesn’t make you any less of a moron. Morons love freedom of expression. I mean come on, this column is freedom of expression. So don’t comment arguing that I’m trying to ban you from being a moron. You have as much right to be a moron as I have to call you a moron. That’s how freedom of expression works. Moron.”
© The Grapevine Iceland

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EU anti-trafficking unit denies turning back migrant boats

16/9/2016- The European Union's anti-smuggling and people trafficking operation denied on Friday that it had returned any migrant boats to Libya, after Britain's foreign secretary said it had turned back more than 200. Boris Johnson said after meeting Italy's Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni in Florence on Thursday that the EU mission should turn back migrant boats as a deterrent and that it had "saved 200,000 migrants and turned back 240 boats." The spokesman for EU's Sophia mission said no boats had been sent back. "We have disposed of boats after rescuing migrants," Antonello De Renzis Sonnino said, suggesting there may have been some confusion. Sophia's mission is to "disrupt the business model of human traffickers and smugglers," according to its website. But its ships have also made thousands of rescues. It only operates in international waters, as the Libyan government has not allowed it to do so off the country's coast, something that might make it possible to send boats back.

EU vessels have pulled almost 26,000 migrants off overcrowded boats, almost 300 of which were subsequently destroyed so they could not be used again and to ensure they did not constitute a hazard for other vessels. Italy is on the front line of Europe's migrant crisis, taking in more than 400,000 refugees over the past three years, many of them saved from rickety boats pushed out to sea by people smugglers based in North Africa, mainly in Libya.
© Reuters

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EU Fundamental Rights Agency: rise in anti-migrant attacks across Europe

A European Union human rights agency on Friday said that racist attacks and legal obstacles are an increasing problem for the international community's ever-growing migrant population.

16/9/2016- The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) report came as EU leaders gathered in Bratislava to discuss possible reforms for the bloc. Martina Huber, a co-author of the report told EFE that they had documented a clear increase in the number of hate crimes being committed against migrant communities. The report detailed Nazi graffiti in Austria, an increase of online racist comments on social networks in Bulgaria as well as the Hungarian government's desire to classify immigration as a threat to society. In Germany, attacks against refugees occur daily, while incidents at asylum centers are recorded every three days, said the anti-racist Amadeu Antonio Foundation. "Many cases go unreported," explained the FRA, "especially because the victims are afraid of the police." It added that many refugees do not want to report the crime in fear that it may affect their asylum status, which can take a long-time to process.

Germany registered 31 injuries in 25 attacks against refugees or asylum centers in Aug alone. Huber said that the increase in migrant numbers bears no relation to the rise in attacks, but rather that they were a result of a polarized society propagated by the messages of certain political parties. Although migrant numbers in 2016 have yet to reach those registered during the waves of people entering the EU in autumn and winter last year, Europe remains the target destination for many refugees. Entries into Bulgaria, for example, doubled in Aug compared to the figures registered in July. In the same month, 17,400 people arrived on the coast of Italy, while 11,300 have set up camp on the islands of Greece, the report said. Most of the refugees entering the east of Europe are fleeing war torn countries such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, whereas many of those crossing the Mediterranean Sea are fleeing persecution in Nigeria, Sudan and Eritrea.
© EFE

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Refugees Returned to Greece Sue Macedonia in Strasbourg

Eight refugees from the Middle East are suing Macedonia in the European Court of Human Rights, saying it violated their human rights by forcing them back to Greece.

15/9/2016- Eight people from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are suing Macedonia in Strasbourg, claiming that its forceful expulsion of refugees breached the European Convention on Human Rights. Assisted by two non-profit groups, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, ECCHR, and Pro Asyl, the two women and six men submitted their complaint to Strasbourg on September 13. “The closure of the Greek-Macedonian border made [their] legal entry to Europe via the Balkan route de facto impossible,” ECCHR General Secretary Wolfgang Kaleck was quoted as saying. Pro Asyl’s spokesperson for Europe, Karl Kopp, said that the court "offers hope that victims of systematic unlawful collective expulsion from FYROM [Macedonia's provisional UN reference] to Greece may find a measure of justice”. The eight people, whose names the two NGOs did not disclose for reasons of privacy, say they crossed the Greek–Macedonian border alongside about 1,500 others on March 14 2016.

Macedonia had just closed its southern border to the flow of refugees and built a barbed wire fence to stop illegal entries. This caused a buildup of thousands of refugees on the Greek side, near the Idomeni border crossing, who were hoping to pass the border and continue their journey to Western Europe. "The Macedonian military apprehended them and forced them [the eight] back to Greece through improvised holes in the newly constructed border fence. "The claimants had no possibility to ask for asylum or to take legal action against their summary deportation from FYROM," the ECCHR press statement said. It also said the push-backs were carried out without consideration for individual circumstances and violated Article 4, Protocol 4 [prohibition on collective expulsion] and Article 13 [right to an effective remedy] of the Convention on Human Rights.

The Macedonian Foreign Ministry told BIRN that it needed more time to acquaint itself with the case before issuing any comment. Macedonia closed its border to migrants and refugees following the example of Slovenia and other countries on the so-called "Balkan route" to Western Europe. The government in Skopje claimed it could not receive any more people onto its territory without being sure they would continue their journey. At least 12,000 people were stuck for some two months at Idomeni, on the Greek side of the border, in an improvised tent camp and living in sub-standard conditions. At times, the tension escalated into violent clashes between Macedonian security forces and refugees who tried to push their way in. The tensions only subsided when Greece started re-settling the refugees to other camps further away from the border area.

Assisted by two non-profit groups, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, ECCHR, and Pro Asyl, the two women and six men submitted their complaint to Strasbourg on September 13. - See more at: http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/refugees-sue-macedonia-for-human-rights-violation-09-15-2016?utm_source=Balkan+Insight+Newsletters&utm_campaign=c582fe8531-BI_DAILY&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_4027db42dc-c582fe8531-308289045#sthash.d199phx3.dpuf

© Balkan Insight
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Poland: Immigrants pay for fiery rhetoric

Politicians accused as Islamophobia sparks rise in hate crimes

15/9/2016- A Syrian man is beaten on the streets of Warsaw. A black child is expelled from a playground in a town in south-east Poland. Volunteers form patrol groups to guard against possible illegal immigrants in the central city of Lodz. Poland’s Never Again Association, which tracks racist and xenophobic incidents in the country, used to record between five and 10 such events each week. For the past year, they say they have been reaching that level daily. “Recently we have had problems keeping up with gathering and registering all the information that we get because there is so much of it,” said Rafal Pankowski, its co-founder. While official statistics from 2016 are not yet available, Mr Pankowski says he has seen a substantial increase from last year when, according to government data, 962 hate crimes were investigated in Poland, 38 per cent more than in 2014.

Poland’s battle with a rise in hate crimes comes as Polish immigrants face increased attacks in the UK since its vote to leave the EU. Rights groups say the rise in attacks in the country reflects an increase in Islamophobia that shows no sign of abating. Muslims were the group most targeted by hate speech in Poland in 2015, replacing LGBT and Roma communities as the country's most affected minority. "This aggression mainly affects people with different looks, those who have different skin colour," said Tomasz Miśkiewicz of Poland's Muslim Religious Association. Mr Miśkiewicz believes that Europe’s “migration problem" has inflamed attitudes and called for Polish children to be better educated about cultural differences. Poland’s 20,000 Muslims account for about 0.05 per cent of a population that is overwhelmingly Catholic and the EU’s most homogenous.

While neighbouring Germany has seen a big influx of Muslim refugees, Poland accepted only 206 from Syria last year, and has rejected an EU plan to play a role in resettling migrants across the bloc. Nevertheless, Polish political rhetoric increasingly depicts a society threatened, a theme common to other countries in central and eastern Europe. Nationalist and populist politicians have told citizens that their safety, security and identity are endangered by immigrants. Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the ruling conservative Law and Justice party and the country's most powerful politician warned before last year’s elections that immigrants could bring “parasites … and diseases” to Poland.

That has led some human rights groups to suggest political rhetoric is partly to blame for the increased violence. “Everything started with the electoral campaign,” said Adam Bodnar, Poland’s commissioner for human rights, an office independent from the government, referring to last year’s parliamentary elections. “At that time those were not only [political] statements but also demonstrations, hate speech, increase of hate in the internet … It became simply enormous.” Andrzej Duda, the Polish president, in July used the commemoration of the Kielce Pogrom, an outbreak of violence against Poland’s Jewish community in 1946, to say that in Poland “there is no place for any kind of prejudice, no place for racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism”.

At the same time, Mr Kaczynski warned that accepting Muslim refugees would “threaten Poland’s security”, while Zbigniew Ziobro, the country’s justice minister, has said the ruling party is the only defence against “Islamic districts in Poland.” The government has closed down the country’s Council Against Racial Discrimination, xenophobia and Intolerance, withdrawn a textbook issued to police for the past decade to differentiate between normal crimes and hate crimes, and passed anti-terror legislation that allows it to spy on foreign nationals and detain them without court approval - all in the past six months.

The moves have drawn attention from abroad. Before Pope Francis's visit to the country in July, a Vatican statement criticised "an artificially created fear of Muslims" in Poland. “Unfortunately these fears are fuelled by some political parties, and inappropriate statements made by politicians,” said Pawel Rytel-Andrianik, a spokesman for Polish bishops. Mr Pankowski agrees. “A correlation is very clear … between what we can call hate speech of the political class and those assaults,” he said. “It creates certain social climate, certain ambience, and certain legitimisation of xenophobic behaviour.”
© The Financial Times*

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Polish man accused of racism after setting up kebab stand 'made by real Poles'

A self-styled Polishpatriothas opened a kebab stand for "real Poles" wanting to buy the famous Middle-Eastern dish from somebody other than a foreigner.

12/9/2016- Jerzy Andrzejewski opened his business a few days ago in the eastern town of Lublin selling kebabs from a converted caravan emblazoned with the slogan "a real kebab for a real Pole" and sporting a livery of red and white, the colours of the Polish flag. Mr Andrzejewski claims he is not intolerant and that he learned the art of kebab making from Arabs, but he explains he has tapped into a market for people who like kebabs but refuse to get them from Turkish or Arab-owned establishments. “There are people who want a kebab in Lublin but do not want to buy it from an Arab, and were looking for a Polish one,” he told Gazeta Wyborcza, a Polish newspaper. “There is a saying, you know: ‘Have a kebab: settle an Arab.’ “I’m a patriot who likes to eat kebabs and others do as well,” he continued, adding that he was also supporting Poland by using only Polish ingredients for his kebabs, pita bread and sauces.

Professor Rafal Pankowski from Warsaw's Collegium Civitas university, an expert on racism in Poland, says those from the far right have a genuine problem buying street food while preserving their neo-Nazi credentials at the same time. “People who buy kebabs in Poland are often hooligans and they have problems buying them because they don’t want to get them from an Arab, or some foreigner,” he told The Telegraph. “They actually have to think about where to go. This man has seen clearly there is a market out there.” Although some have regarded the story as a source of amusement, Mr Pankowski stressed that it reflects growing xenophobia in Poland. “It comes from a certain anti-Muslim, anti-Arab and anti-refugee climate in Poland,” he said. “The climate is worsening even though the number of migrants—especially Muslim migrants—is tiny.” One kebab shop in Lublin was attacked last year, and had the words “Muslims are pigs” and “Muslims out!” daubed on it.
© The Telegraph

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Sweden's far right eye 20-25% support, to seek government role

14/9/2016- The head of the far right Sweden Democrats said he aimed to win a quarter of voters at a 2018 election with a call for a total ban on new asylum seekers and saw signs mainstream parties may be seeking the party's backing in parliament. Jimmie Akesson's party has gained support over the last decade, rising from a fringe group with neo-Nazi roots to win 13 percent in 2014's election and hold the balance of power in parliament. Polls now give it about 17 percent. Its growth echoes that of populist parties in the Nordics, which either support or form a part of government in neighbors Norway and Denmark. But Sweden's political mainstream has so far shunned the Sweden Democrats due to their radical roots. That may change, said Akesson, who has purged the party of its more militant elements and whom many credit with making the Sweden Democrats respectable in the eyes of thousands of voters worried about declining schools, doctor shortages and rising crime figures.

Last year's migrant crisis also boosted far right parties across Europe. "It will be hard to shut us out. We could even be the biggest party after the election," Akesson said. Akesson is part of a European backlash. An anti-Islam party leads polls in the Netherlands while the National Front's Marine Le Pen is strongly placed for presidential elections in April. A foothold in government for the party would mark a watershed in a country where generous asylum policies have until last year commanded automatic support across the political spectrum. Akesson said his party did not have to be a formal party of government, but wanted to put its stamp on key policy areas: immigration, law and order and the welfare state. "I don't care so much about portfolios or (ministerial) posts," he said. "For me it is the core policy that matters."

Softer Tone?
Flanked in his office by a photo of the Swedish royal family and of rock band Kiss, Akesson said he expected the party to get 20-25 percent of the vote in 2018. That would put it on an equal footing with the center-left Social Democrats - the larger party in the current minority coalition - and the Moderates, the biggest center-right group and part of the four-party Alliance opposition bloc. "The main scenario for me is that we build a government together with the Moderates and the(center right) Christian Democrats," Akesson said. The 2015 migrant crisis which saw 160,000 people seek asylum in Sweden has hardened voters' attitudes. Tough asylum rules introduced late last year by a hard-pressed minority center-left coalition have cut applications to around 20,000 so far this year. "We are still the party which has most credibility in immigration policy," Akesson said. "The other parties have confirmed our views. We were right and the voters see that."

Neither the center right nor the center left parties can form a majority government without the support of the Sweden Democrats. Their refusal so far to treat with the far right has led to some degree of parliamentary stalemate. But Akesson sees signs that is changing. Earlier this month, the leader of the small, center-right Liberal Party called for the Sweden Democrats to be allowed to take part in cross-party discussions led by the government. The leader of the Christian Democrats - also part of the center right Alliance - has softened her tone. Still, the Moderate Party, the biggest center right party, has said cooperation is not on the cards. "The signal we get from ... the center-right parties is that they are ready in some form or another, to get our support in order to form a government," Akesson said.

Some political analysts say Akesson ambitions may bear fruit. "The most likely scenario after the election is some sort of understanding between the Moderates and the Sweden Democrats with the Christian Democrats tagging along," said Nick Aylott, political science professor at Sodertorn University. Cooperation would have a price. Akesson said more asylum seekers should be turned around at Sweden's borders and there should be tougher rules for family reunions. "Our vision is a goal of zero for asylum-based immigration," he said.
© Reuters

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Spain's first openly gay referee receives death threats

14/9/2016- Spain's first openly gay football referee, who quit in May because of homophobic abuse, has received death threats and is under police protection after returning to the game. Jesus Tomillero said he was "really, really scared" but will carry on after enduring further abuse and receiving death threats on social media. The 21-year-old, who is president of an association against homophobia in sports, quit in May after reporting that he had been insulted and threatened by players and supporters during a youth team match and feared for his life when stones were thrown in his direction. Mr Tomillero decided that the abuse was not going to keep him away from his passion, to which he had dedicated ten years of his life. However, on his second day back on the job in Andalusia's second division, Mr Tomillero encountered the same homophobia on the pitch.

On Saturday, during a match between CD Lasalle and Atletico Zabal the young referee was told to "retire you fag" by a football supporter after he awarded a penalty to the opposing team, he told newspaper El Espanol. "I told the match delegate that I would suspend the match until the man was removed. He was expelled, but he came back and kept on insulting me," Mr Tomillero said. After reporting what had happened during the match on his Twitter account, the referee started receiving death threats online. One message read "You son of a b***h. You messed with the club. We’ll kill you with Aids, you f***ot." Another post featured the corpse of a man shot dead and read "The bosses are not pleased, they don't like f***ots on their pitches, retire or die." One post showing a gun simply reads: "F***ot, you won't live long."

The 21-year-old told the Guardian that he had a "fit of nerves and didn’t know what to do," so he went to the police. "They’re investigating the case, not just here but all over Spain. There are police officers outside my house 24 hours a day, but I’m still afraid and I don’t know what could happen,” he told the newspaper on Tuesday. He said he would not quit the job. "I’m going to keep on doing what I like doing, whatever it costs,” he said. “But I am really, really scared." RojaDirecta Andalucia-LGTBI, an anti-homophobia association of which Mr Tomillero is president, has since called for legal adjustments to be made against LGBTI discrimination. Spain is one of the best countries in Europe for LGBTI people, according to an index on legal equality released in May. An alarming statistic released by the Ministry of the Interior in April, however, revealed 40% of hate crimes reported in the previous 12 months were related to sexual orientation.
© The Telegraph

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Norway: Strong reactions to hijab discrimination verdict

The 10,000 kroner fine given to a Norwegian hairdresser for turning away a Muslim client wearing a headscarf has led to varied reactions in the Nordic country.

13/9/2016- The Jæren District Court ruled on Monday that Merete Hodne, a hairdresser in the small southwestern Norwegian town of Byrne, deliberately discriminated against Malika Bayan when she denied her service last year. The 47-year-old hairdresser intends to appeal the decision, which has generated strong reactions in Norway. The nation’s equality and anti-discrimination ombudsman called the verdict an important victory for religious freedom. “The important thing is that you've got a decision and a conviction that states that it is not acceptable to refuse service to someone because of the person's religion or believes.

The verdict upholds the freedom of religion in Norway,” ombudsman Hanne Bjurstrøm told NTB. Hodne had defended turning Bayan away by saying that she views the the headscarf as a political symbol representing an ideology that frightens her, rather than as a religious symbol. She said she “completely freaked out” when Bayan and her friend entered the hair salon wearing hijabs last October. “To me, the hijab is an extreme political symbol. I don’t feel good when I see people wearing a hijab. They came in and asked what it would cost to get hair highlights and I said that I do not accept people like them and that they should go to another stylist and then they left again,” Hodne said.

Nazi comparisons
Ahead of the trial, Hodne told TV2 news channel that the headscarf was a symbol of "Islamic ideology" -- which she called "evil" -- just like "the swastika is that of Nazism". The Nazi analogy came up again after the verdict, this time from former MP Peter Myhre of the anti-immigration Progress Party. Myhre wrote a post on Facebook equating the hijab with a Nazi uniform. “If a man wearing a Nazi uniform enters a hair salon, the stylist must politely say ‘Welcome, sit right here Herr Obersturmbannführer [a Nazi paramilitary rank, ed.], how would you like it today?’,” he wrote, adding that he was “astonished” by the court’s decision.

"Miscarriage of justice"
Equally astonished by the verdict was 65-year-old Jan Skoland who confronted Bayan outside of the courtroom in front of TV networks’ rolling cameras. He told TV2 that the verdict was a “miscarriage of justice” and suggested that it was a form of “revenge” against Hodne, who has been described by Norwegian media as a former activist in anti-Islamist movements such as Pegida. “The attack was revenge against Merete Hodne because she has publicly criticised Islam. The intention was to create an example of what Norwegians have in store if they criticise Islam,” Skoland said. He alleged that the whole thing “was staged by [Prime Minister] Erna Solberg and the government” as part of “a campaign the authorities are waging to brainwash people”. “The prime minister has said herself that that if we are kind toward Islam it will be as civilized as all other religions have become,” Skoland said.

“Politicians can not possibly understand what is happening among the Norwegian people. Everyone knows that it is a hopeless political dream that Islam should be a kind and good religion in Norway. I call it the Islamic utopian dream,” he added. For Bayan’s part, she said she was just happy that the court agreed that she had faced discrimination. “I'm very relieved. The size of the fine does not matter because this isn’t personal at all. I wish her [Hodne] all the best, but it is important to establish that it is not okay to discriminate,” she said after the verdict. Bayan converted to Islam in 2011 and began wearing the hijab in 2014. She says she does not take it off in front of men, but that she wouldn’t have had a problem if men had entered the salon while Hodne was doing her hair.
© The Local - Norway

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France: Paris just evicted 1,500 people from a migrant camp

16/9/2016- French police cleared out a migrant encampment in the north end of Paris Friday morning a few weeks before the expected opening of a main humanitarian center in the French capital. At least 1,500 migrants had been living there, according to the housing minister, Emmanuelle Cosse, who was there when the eviction took place. The camp on Flandre Avenue in the XIX arrondissement had grown in recent weeks as the sanitary and living conditions became precarious. The migrants slept in tents, on mattresses, and on the street itself. "There are a lot of families with children who are living here," the minister told Le Monde. The eviction happened calmly, beginning at 7am, with the deployment of a large police force. The neighborhood was surrounded and 50 buses were sent to bring the migrants to emergency housing. On August 17, a similar operation took place in the same camp, with nearly 700 people being brought to housing facilities.

In a document obtained by Le Figaro, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve designed a plan, sent to local officials, to dismantle "the jungle" of Calais, a large encampment in France's north, and ad hoc camps in the capital, like the one taken down on Friday. The government intends to create 12,000 spaces in shelters around France by the end of 2016. They hope to have thousands living there by the end of October. The purpose of the centers is to assess each person's situation and find them a permanent home. Cazeneuve wants to divide the refugee housing between all of France, with the "demographic criteria weighted to each region." The timeline set by Cazeneuve coincides with the opening of a humanitarian center in Paris. "The migrants arriving in Paris will soon be welcome in this space, open seven days a week, from 8 am to 8 pm," explained Dominique Versini, a deputy to the mayor in charge of the issue, according to Le Monde.

The project, which includes a second center in a Paris suburb, is intended for families but also for "vulnerable populations, women, children, and those who require important assistance," according to Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo. It is expected to open at the end of the year.
© Vice News

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France: Locals fight to block opening of far-right bar in central Lille

Locals in the northern city of Lille are fighting back in a bid to stop a far-right group from opening a bar in the centre of Lille in northern France.

12/9/2016- Far-right group Generation Identitaire has plans to open a new bar in the centre of Lille, just 200 metres from the Grand Palais. It will also contain a boxing gym, a cinema, and a library, mainly planned to function like a headquarters for the group's supporters in the northern city. The bar, called La Citadelle, is scheduled to open on September 24th, but has already prompted calls for the bar to be banned. A petition launched by local Greens councilor Josiane Dabit has garnered over 4,300 signatures since Friday. "There's just one word: Unacceptable," reads the petition, which has been addressed to the town's mayor. "I am deeply concerned, this place will propagate hate and cause incidents that are beyond control," she told the local La Voix du Nord newspaper. "In a city where we pride ourselves on living together, a bar like this simply doesn't have a future." One comment below the petition says that the bar "doesn't reflect the typical human exchanges in Lille".

Generation Identitaire was launched in 2012 and calls itself the "first line of resistance against mass immigration", and urges younger people in France to "fight for their identity". It is described as the youth wing of the extreme right Bloc Identitaire movement that was founded back in 2003 and designed to be a "rally for young French and Europeans who are proud of their roots and of their heritage.” Generation Identitaire made headlines in November 2012 when members occupied the construction site of a new mosque in the town of Poitiers. Around 60 members of the French far-right group occupied the site of the future mosque to protest against the influence of Islam in France. They climbed onto the building's roof and displayed a banner marked with “732 generation identity” in reference to the year 732, when Charles Martel halted the advance of the invading Muslim army to the north of Poitiers. France’s Muslim groups were left shocked and angered by the occupation, saying the wild act risked national cohesion.
© The Local - France

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Austrian election re-run comes unstuck in postal ballot setback

12/9/2016- Austria on Monday delayed a re-run of a presidential election as faulty glue on postal ballots scuppered its second attempt to organize a ballot that could give the European Union its first far-right head of state. The result of the first election in May, which Norbert Hofer of the anti-migrant Freedom Party (FPO) came within 31,000 votes of winning, had already been scrapped due to irregularities in counting the postal ballots - heightening the embarrassment. The postal votes, which accounted for around 16 percent of the total votes, were the crucial factor for Alexander Van der Bellen, an independent, to win in May. The postponement, to Dec. 4, drew swift criticism, with the FPO calling the government incapable of holding a vote and a commentator saying it had made Austria a subject of mockery.

In delaying the election from Oct. 2, Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said on Monday there was a risk votes could be tampered with due to the faulty glue on a "defective envelope". The FPO's secretary, Herbert Kickl, said it showed the government was "incapable of ensuring a proper election". The delay also put attention back on an election that has polarized opinion at home and across a continent where the impact of mass immigration driven by war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa is starting to dominate the debate. Hofer's near-victory in a country at the sharp end of the immigration crisis reflected a rising tide of populism in Europe that spread to Britain with June's vote to quit the European Union - an outcome some believe will buoy support for him.

"Laughing Stock"
Opinion polls have given him the edge in the ballot for a role that is largely ceremonial. A win for the FPO would be of huge symbolic significance in an anti-establishment political climate and with parliamentary elections due in 2018. Asked at a news conference if the double setback might damage Austria's reputation, Sobotka said: "The laugh is always on the loser." Van der Bellen, a former Green Party leader, won May's vote by less than 1 percentage point from Hofer. The FPO then successfully challenged the result in the constitutional court, citing procedural irregularities, forcing the re-run. The delay was "unfortunate but correct", van der Bellen told a news conference, urging supporters to "move on and win together on Dec. 4". For some, however, the prospect of another delay or contested result was too much.

"It's terrible. I really wonder if it's worth bothering to vote again, if we even need a president," 50-year-old office worker Margit Freudenthaler said. Independent political consultant Thomas Hofer said: "A democracy that had been portrayed as stable and a bulwark against crisis now shows itself not even able to organize elections properly. "Once again, Austria is a laughing stock." However, political analyst Peter Filzmaier said that, while the postponement was an embarrassment, discovery of the faulty ballot forms had left the government with no other option. "The alternative would have been to go with open eyes into a vote that was unlawful," he said, adding that Monday's decision strengthened Austria's democratic credentials.
© Reuters

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Austrian Far-right leader admits his refugee island plan 'went too far'

Freedom Party candidate Norbert Hofer could be seeking to soften his image ahead of election

11/9/2016- The far-right candidate in Austria's presidential election has backtracked on a plan to confine asylum seekers to islands. Norbert Hofer told a German magazine he had changed his mind about the proposal made by Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz to send refugees to designated islands off mainland Europe while their asylum applications were processed. Mr Kurz is believed to have copied the plan from Mr Hofer's Freedom Party after seeing how popular the far-right politician had become, but Mr Hofer now says the idea went “too far” and was “excessive, to put it diplomatically”. Mr Kurz responded by framing the issue as a matter of either stopping refugees from leaving islands like Lesbos in Greece, where they often arrive from outside the EU, or letting them travel on into mainland Europe.

A spokesman for the politician told local media: “If you are honest about the issue, then you have to openly address the current situation in Italy. "The migrants come to the hotspots on the islands and from there are carried to the mainland rather than being stopped and transported back." Mr Kurz’s spokesman challenged Mr Hofer to admit his policy reversal actually amounted to "waving on" refugees, into the mainland. Imprisoning refugees on islands is a popular policy among far-right politicians, with Mr Hofer's German and Dutch equivalents sticking by similar proposals. The plans are inspired by Australia, which confines migrants to offshore facilities such as those on Nauru and Papua New Guinea, both independent foreign territories. Human rights groups have criticised the practice as inhumane and a breach of international law. Several detainees in Nauru have attempted suicide by setting themselves on fire.

Austrian media speculated Mr Hofer had backed away from his initial policy in order to soften his image in the run-up to the presidential elections. However he said in the same interview that he is still in favour of returning migrants who are rescued in the Mediterranean to their country of origin. He also criticised the EU deal with Turkey and said Turkish citizens must not be allowed visa-free travel within the EU as this would let too many Syrians in. The result of the Austrian presidential election on 1 July was overturned by the country's Supreme Court after an investigation revealed irregularities in the vote count in several constituencies. Green Party-backed independent candidate Alexander Van der Bellen narrowly beat Mr Hofer in the nullified election. The two politicians will face each other again in a revote on 2 October.
© The Independent

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Germany: Bautzen tightens rules for refugees after far-right clash

Violence broke out this week between refugees and members of the far-right scene in Bautzen, Saxony. Now local officials have imposed restrictions on the young refugees living there.

16/9/2016- In the aftermath of Wednesday's violence, local officials have imposed new rules for young asylum seekers. Four young men who participated in the fight, between the ages of 15 and 20, were taken to other refugee facilities, so that they would no longer have an influence over others, Bautzen officials said on Thursday. Officials also tightened rules in general for the roughly 30 unaccompanied minors living in Bautzen, imposing an alcohol ban as well as a curfew of 7pm. The fight broke out after around 80 people from the far-right scene gathered in a town square on Wednesday evening and were met by a group of young male refugees. Police chief Uwe Kilz said the violence had been sparked by the young refugees when they started throwing bottles and wooden slats at the far right group, though previously police had spoken of “mutual provocations” between the groups. The right-wing extremists, many of whom were drunk, returned fire with stones and bottles, Kilz added, in the latest incident to hit the small former communist town, which has been the scene of several eruptions of hostility toward refugees. Police struggled for hours to break up the fight. At one point, a teenage refugee was injured badly with a gash on his arm and needed an ambulance, but the far-right group started attacking the ambulance with stones.

Police prep for more demos
About 350 people - mostly locals and many from the far-right scene - also met on Thursday at the same square, but it remained comparatively peaceful, police said. Some 90 officers were on the scene and had to stop a conflict between about 25 left-wing affiliates and 300 locals after the leftists wanted to put up a sign condemning xenophobia. One 30-year-old man from the group of locals did hit a video journalist in the arm, and police are investigating him for assault. Police also registered seven offenses of people using unconstitutional symbols and using slogans that incited violence. Police are bringing in more officers as the far-right group plans to stage demonstrations on both Friday and Sunday.

Tensions building
The trouble this week had been building up over a few days, said Kilz, after young migrants had begun gathering regularly at the flashpoint downtown square called Kornmarkt over the summer. Their presence drew increasing numbers of anti-migrant people, apparently mobilised through Facebook posts, said the police chief. Skirmishes had already broken out over the past week, but not on the scale of Wednesday's clash. Condemning the violence, Mayor Alexander Ahrens said "Bautzen must not become the playground of violent right extremists". MP Caren Lay for the left-wing opposition Die Linke (the Left Party) said "that so many neo-Nazis were able to come together so quickly leads one to suspect that this racist attack was planned", adding that the "pogrom atmosphere" in Bautzen must end. Former communist eastern Germany has been the scene of several ugly incidents in which far-right extremists targeted asylum-seekers.

In February, a cheering crowd was seen outside a burning asylum-seeker shelter in Bautzen, clapping and shouting: "Good, that's up in flames." That same weekend, a video emerged of far-right thugs intimidating refugees - including crying children - and preventing them from getting off a bus to get into another shelter in the eastern town of Clausnitz. President Joachim Gauck, who had on several occasions urged Germans to extend a welcoming hand to refugees, was booed during a visit to Bautzen, a town of 40,000 people which borders the Czech Republic. Germany recorded nearly 1,000 far-right offences targeting refugee shelters last year, a five-fold annual rise.
© The Local - Germany

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Germany: Far-right group, asylum seekers fight in town

15/9/2016- Dozens of police officers intervened as groups of far-right Germans and young asylum seekers clashed in an eastern German town that has previously seen racist incidents, officials said Thursday. Around 80 Germans and 20 migrants attacked each other Wednesday night in Bautzen, a town between Dresden and the Polish border, local police spokesman Thomas Knaup said. Officers were assailed with wooden sticks and bottles thrown by some of the asylum seekers as they tried trying to separate the groups as they brawled in a town square, police said. The far-right protesters shouted nationalist slogans and followed the asylum seekers back to their shelter while police tried to keep the groups apart. Police used pepper spray and batons to protect themselves and to separate the two sides, authorities said.

Later, some rioters threw stones at an ambulance, preventing it from reaching the shelter to treat an injured migrant. Police said they were trying to identify the individuals who participated in the fighting. Town officials said it was also not clear who started the confrontation. "It wasn't anarchy, but there was at least a chaotic phase that I would say lasted between 45 and 90 minutes," said Bautzen's head of police, Uwe Kilz. "Then peace was restored." Bautzen Mayor Alexander Ahrens condemned the violence and vowed to deploy more police and social workers to prevent future incidents. Ahrens said there had been problems between far-right German youths and young asylum seekers during the last two weeks in the Kornmarkt square. "I'm shocked and very worried about the escalation," Ahrens wrote on Facebook. "I sharply condemn the growing violence in confrontations between the various groups."

Bautzen officials said that most of the roughly 20 asylum seekers involved in the brawl were unaccompanied minors and that they had imposed a 7 p.m. curfew and an alcohol ban on their shelter following Wednesday's violence. They described the 80 far-right Germans involved in the hostilities as young women and men who were drunk. Saxony Interior Minister Markus Ulbig said the state would send additional police officers to Bautzen and there would be no tolerance for further excesses of violence like on Wednesday night. In February, onlookers celebrated as a fire damaged a former hotel that was being turned into a refugee home in Bautzen, a case of suspected arson. And when German President Joachim Gauck visited Bautzen in March to talk about democracy, he was insulted by some locals. Hundreds of thousands asylum-seekers arrived in Germany last year, leading to tensions in some regions. The state of Saxony, where Bautzen is located, has seen several anti-migrant incidents, although it has one of the lowest percentages of foreigners in the country.
© The Associated Press

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German publican challenges niqab-wearer

A publican who turned away a woman wearing a niqab from his lakeside restaurant in northern Germany says vitriol has turned into praise. Christian Schulz says he had also evicted past guests wearing neo-Nazi clothing.

15/9/2016- Germany debated face-obscuring clothing further Thursday after a publican - accused online of being racist - replied that he had been exercising his rights as host in asking the niqab-wearer to show her face last Saturday evening. "Instead, she immediately began to rant," and then left the grounds, said Schulz, who reportedly employs cooks from Nigeria, Ghana, Pakistan and Portugal. More than a thousand guests were visiting the "Seekrug," a rural lakeside venue with outdoor catering, just north of Bielefeld in North Rhine-Westphalia state.

Neo-Nazis also evicted
Schulz told regional newspapers, including Bielefeld's "Neue Westfälische" and Düsseldorf's "Rheinische Post," that in the past he had also evicted guests wearing "Thor Steinar" clothing, a label worn within the neo-Nazi scene. "Massive" insults in social media, also directed at staff, followed Saturday's incident, but there was also praise from regular guests for Schulz' intervention. One wrote in a commentary: "The publican has personnel with migratory backgrounds and is being insulted. That's not on at all." The wearing of niqabs, leaving only the eyes visible, or burqas obscuring the face remains lawful in Germany, but controversial, and echoes debate in France, where municipal bans were recently reversed by a top court ruling that cited personal freedoms.

'Simplistic solutions' won't work
Chancellor Angela Merkel, addressing a Berlin conference on religious freedoms attended by parliamentarians from 80 countries Wednesday, warned against bids to find "seemingly simplistic solutions to turn back the wheel" of time. The burqa and niqab were, however, a "major obstacle to integration," she said, adding that precise guidelines on wearing both were needed, for example, in public institutions or in courthouses. Merkel also recalled how past religious differences had left scars in German history. Bielefeld lies in the region where in 1648 the Treaty of Westphalia was signed to end that century's Thirty Years' War, one of Europe's most destructive conflicts.

Niqab-shops 'alarming'
The ARD public broadcaster on Wednesday carried a report on so-called niqab shops in Germany. Susanne Schröter, who heads the Center for Global Islam at Frankfurt am Main University, told ARD's weekly investigative program "Report Mainz" that such shops were "not just fashion outlets but also parts of a Salafist infrastructure." "The scene is clearly extremist, it is alarming and it requires the need for action," Schröter said.

Hysterical debate, says Kässmann
Late last month, the former chairperson of Germany's combined Protestant churches, Margot Kässmann, described Europe's current debate on burqas and "burkini" swimwear as hysterical. She still "well remembered" the post-war period when the bikini was seen as a threat to Western values. "Back then, women were supposed to put on more clothes; now they are supposed to take more off," Kässmann said, adding, however, that she felt sorry for women who felt they had to conceal themselves under cloth. "As a Christian, it would never occur to me that that would please God," she said.
© The Deutsche Welle*

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Germany’s AfD co-chair wants Nazi word destigmatised

Frauke Petry, one of the two main leaders of the right-wing Alternative for Germany party, says the word "völkisch" should be destigmatized. The term has Nazi connotations.

11/9/2016- In an interview with the Sunday edition of the newspaper "Die Welt," Alternative for Germany (AfD) co-chair Frauke Petry called for revaluing the term "völkisch," which is closely associated with National Socialism. Duden, the German dictionary of record, defines "völkisch" as follows: "1. (National Socialist) (in the ideology of National Socialism), concerning a people as a purported race; of or belonging to a people as a purported race 2. (obsolete) national." "It's unacceptable to reduce the word 'völkisch' to 'racist,'" Petry said. "I myself don't use the term, but I have a problem with the negative connotations of the concept 'völkisch' being extended to the word 'Volk.' We need to work on giving the concept positive connotations."

The word "Volk" had racial connotations during the Third Reich but continues to be used in common speech to signify people in the sense of the German people. By contrast, the adjective "völkisch" has no active meaning apart from Nazi racist ideas. Petry's statements made headlines in almost all the Sunday editions of Germany's major newspapers and drew initial condemnation from a variety of critics. "Next up will be the concept of 'race,'" Green Party Bundestag Deputy Konstantin von Notz tweeted. The comedian Jan Böhmermann, himself no stranger to controversy, also tweeted sarcastically: "She could have used the occasion to positively revalue the terms 'racial defilement' or 'popular parasite.'" Those are phrases from Nazi jargon, but the term "völkisch" goes back even further.

An unsavory history
The philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte may have used the word in 1811 as a synonym for "volkstümlich" (popular), but, with the rise of ethnocentric political movements, the word had taken on racial connotations by the late 19th century. The völkisch movements from the 1890s through World War I were chauvinistically nationalist, anti-democratic, authoritarian, anti-Semitic, militaristic and racist. The ideology was a major source of inspiration for Adolf Hitler when he began his political career in the early 1920s, and it thoroughly informed National Socialism after Hitler came to power in 1933. After the war, the word fell out of use - for good reason. Even the French writer Guillaume Faye, himself a pioneer of the neo-right in Europe, acknowledged that there was no divorcing völkisch from racist.

"What does völkisch mean?" Faye wrote in 1980. "It derives from the word 'a people' and thus ought to mean: 'popular.' In fact, however, völkisch has ... come to occupy quite a different semantic position. ... Völkisch no longer means 'popular' but 'racist.'" More recently, the author Bastian Sick - the most popular authority on the German language - deemed the term "völkisch" "utterly discredited." Therefore, it is striking that Petry would choose to associate herself with it just one week after the AfD's breakthrough electoral triumph in a state election.

An emerging pattern
Though the party has never declared itself as explicitly racist, the AfD has increasingly aligned itself with the anti-immigration agenda of such right-wing groups as the anti-Islam PEGIDA movement. In January 2015, the government-sponsored German-language society GfdS criticized PEGIDA for using a number of terms associated with racism and National Socialism, including "Lügenpresse" (lying press) and "Volksverräter" (betrayer of the people). In May, AfD Vice-Chairman Alexander Gauland sparked controversy when he asserted that "people wouldn't want Boateng as a neighbor," referring to German national team defender Jerome Boateng, whose father is from Ghana. Petry distanced herself from that statement, but her latest interview with "Die Welt" may have opened her up to accusations of racism - perhaps even from within her own party. On Sunday, the editor-in-chief of "Die Welt," Ulf Porschardt, tweeted that the AfD's press secretary had wanted to withdraw the interview but that Petry had refused. A miscalculation on her part or a calculated risk?

Political shock waves
Last Sunday, the AfD polled over 20 percent in local elections in the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The AfD took votes from parties all over the political spectrum, including some 3 percent from the far-right National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), which some observers consider neo-Nazi. Petry's flirting with such vocabulary could be interpreted as an attempt to appeal to voters on the extreme right of the political spectrum. "It's intended to create a fear that too many foreigners are coming here and could change everything established," Kai Biermann wrote in the online edition of the weekly newspaper "Die Zeit." "It's an attempt to portray fascist ideas as one opinion among many. It's an overture to the extreme right."

There's no denying that Petry ramped up the rhetoric in her interview with "Die Welt," warning of a possible "civil war" in Germany if the alleged negative effects of immigration continue. She also said she hoped to earn a Bundestag mandate in Germany's 2017 national elections. The next test of the AfD's appeal will come in a week's time, when the city-state of Berlin holds regional elections. Petry said she didn't expect the party to attract the same level of support as in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, but added that she did anticipate a 10-percent or better showing. Recent opinion polls have put the level of support nationwide for the AfD at between 9 and 15 percent.
© The Deutsche Welle*

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UK: Neo-Nazis Are Using a White-Only Homeless Charity to Spread Race Hate

English neo-Nazis are conducting whites-only homeless outreach in order to spread their race hate.

15/9/2016- Hitler worshippers National Action have taken to the streets in Glasgow and Yorkshire in conjunction with Polish fascist party The National Revival of Poland, to give out tinned food to the homeless. Pictures show value bourbon creams, bananas and some kind of weird protein drink laying on a table covered with white-power flags. The National Revival of Poland campaign is dubbed "White Rescue: Charity Campaign for Europeans". NA's rationale for similar events is also explicitly racist. One of the reasons National Action wants to do this is for "the establishment of our brand of politics in areas it's been lacking". The "brand of politics" we're talking about here is Nazism, a brand that was somewhat tarnished by the fact that it started World War II and the worst genocide in all history.

National Action want to build a group capable of "ethnically cleansing Britain". They're part of Europe's "autonomist nationalist" subculture – Nazis who copy the aesthetics and tactics of the far left. For instance you're more likely to see them in "black bloc" type gear than fetishising military uniform. Their members have been attending Isis inspired "Sigurd" training camps, where young neo-Nazis from across the country gather to practice fighting in groups, use knives as weapons and learn about Nazi ideology. Zack Davies, who is serving a life sentence for the racist attempted murder of an Asian man in North Wales, claimed allegiance to the group. That's all pretty sinister, but on the other hand probably their most famous day was when they were utterly humiliated while trying to hold a "White Man March" in Liverpool, and hemmed into a corner of the station by anti-fascists and angry locals who pelted them with bananas, eggs and punches.

More recently they've made headlines by holding a flash-mob in Newcastle with a banner reading "Hitler was right", and by giving a Hitler salute while in Buchenwald concentration camp. They really like Hitler, and would love to see another Holocaust – but maybe homeless outreach makes them good guys really? The homeless outreach is described as "whites helping whites" and claimed to offer "a small glimmer of hope" to white homeless people. In a report from an undisclosed location in Yorkshire, NA describe "the rare sight of a Muslim homeless man" and claim that homelessness is a problem particular to white people. This is of course completely untrue. Nobody should be homeless, white or otherwise. But homelessness is more common among ethnic minorities and it's rising twice as fast among ethnic minority people as the population as a whole. To take one example, this year it was reported that ethnic minority people are four times more likely to be homeless in Birmingham.



Perhaps that's not the point. As Goebbels said, "hey, why let the facts get in the way of a good story?" In interviews on a Nazi podcasts about the action, National Action member Ben Raymond describes the outreach as "real propaganda of the deed". Another NA member, Alex Davies, explains on a podcast that NA has been inspired by the Greek Golden Dawn. The extreme-right party has the third largest number of MPs in the Greek parliament. Its leaders are currently on trail for a wave of violence against non-white people, left-wing opponents and LGBT people. "Their charity work, activism and social work has brought them a respect, some credibility in the eyes of the Greek people," says Davies. "...That's what gained them those seats in the Greek parliament. They used those resources then, that they gained from being elected to parliament, and they've put it back into the things that have gained them their credibility. And that's how they've gained some momentum." "We want to replicate what Golden Dawn were doing in Greece, here in the UK. That's exactly what we want to do."

But hold on – bummer ­– apparently some cynical Greeks thought there was something wrong with carrying out racist charity work for political gain. "Their outreaches were called 'soup-kitchens of hate'", laments Raymond. "You can't even open a soup kitchen without being attacked. But I think it's the right thing to do." Europe's neo-Nazis just can't catch a break! Ben Raymond encourages other members of the far-right to get involved in charity work: "This is a very good thing nationalists should be involved in, because even the existing charities that are already set up, they don't have enough people, there's an enormous space we can fill." Look forward to getting chugged by a guy with a swastika tattoo. The tactic of homeless outreach is common among European far-right groups. Dr J F Pollard, an expert on fascism at Cambridge University said, "It is a well-known fact that Casa Pound, and other neo-Fascist organisations in Italy, have put a lot of effort into 'social outreach', including helping homeless and unemployed people and also OAPs."

Casa Pound is a fascist group that has taken on some of the aesthetics and lifestyle of crusty squat-punks and the naughties anti-globalisation movement. "Their HQ in the centre of Rome is effectively a squat and I have visited it. It houses a number of hitherto homeless families. They have also followed this strategy in other Italian towns and cities. Like National Action, Casa Pound is a largely middle class/student based organisation." Dr Pollard continued: "Of course this is nothing new: the NSDAP/SA [the original Nazis] invested heavily in social outreach during the Great Depression in Weimar Germany and this was institutionalised into the Winterhilfe – literally, 'winter help' – after they came to power." And sure enough, National Action give a quote from a Herr Adolf Hitler in its report as a reason for helping the homeless. There are also similarities here with the mobile food banks used by the BNP to gain trust with voters before the 2014 local and European elections.

Back to NA, apparently locals near the outreach at Argyll Street in Glasgow "came by to enquire as to the nature of our charitable work and to applaud our efforts," although the racists were met with some resistance, or as NA put it: "there were a couple of leftists who were wailing uncontrollably." Not to worry. "Local police also intervened on our behalf". VICE contacted the Glasgow police for comment but did not receive a response. The Radical Housing Network is an organisation which campaigns around housing issues. We approached them with the news that some Nazis were trying to help the homeless. Perhaps they'd be pleased? Not really: "The absurdity of NA's logic is demonstrated in the fact that they believe multiculturalism is to blame for homelessness when there are over 800,000 empty homes in the UK, which is larger than the entire homeless population.

"The real problem with housing is not the colour of people's skin but the financialisation of housing by those seeking to profit from the fundamental need for shelter. It will not be petty racism, but mass collective action that will end the housing crisis." VICE reached out the National Action for comment but received no reply. National Action anticipated that their action might be controversial. They write, "It is highly likely we will be attacked for this over the coming month – the media will twist our messages to present us as ideological opportunists and call our kindness hatred." Mate, these journalists are so unfair. It's almost as if charitable actions for the homeless are somehow less kind if they're done with the massive ulterior motive of spreading race hate.


© The Vice
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UK: Polish man attacked by gang of 20 youths in suspected hate crime in Leeds

28-year-old seriously injured on same day Theresa May apologises for murder of Polish man in the UK.

12/9/2016- Police have launched an investigation after a Polish man was attacked by a gang of up to 20 youths in Leeds in a suspected racially motivated assault. The 28-year-old victim was left with serious, but not life-threatening injuries, after he was kicked and punched by the gang on the evening of 9 September. Police said that the Polish man and a friend had been confronted by the group and assaulted in Town Street shortly before the victim ran off along Wortley Road and was pursued by the group to Alliance Street, Armley, where the assault continued. The victim received a cut to his to head that required stitches and is continuing to receive treatment in hospital. The suspects are all described as white males aged between 16 and 18 and wearing hooded tops.

West Yorkshire Police said the incident is being treated as racially aggravated due to comments made to the victim and his friend. Chief Superintendent Paul Money, Leeds District Commander, said: "I want to reassure people, particularly the local Polish community, that we will not tolerate hate incidents of this nature and will do everything we can to ensure the people responsible are brought to justice. "Detectives from Leeds District CID are carrying out extensive enquiries into this incident and are checking CCTV in the area and speaking to witnesses. The victim is being supported by specialist officers. "It is vital that we hear from anyone who witnessed any part of this incident or who has any information that could assist us in tracing the people responsible. "Armley is an area with a strong sense of community across a population from a range of ethnicities and nationalities and I know that people living there will be as shocked and appalled as we are at this incident.

"I appreciate this attack will have understandably caused heightened concerns among eastern European communities but we are treating it as an isolated incident and not as an indicator of any ongoing hate issue in the area. "Officers from the local neighbourhood policing team increased their patrols in the area in response to this incident and will be maintaining and increased presence to reassure people. We will also continue to keep local councillors and other community representatives updated." The attacked occurred the same day that Theresa May expressed her "deep regret" to the Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo over the recent high-profile attacks on Polish citizens in the UK, including the murder of a man in Harlow in late August.
© The International Business Times - UK

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UK: ‘Kindertransport’ Britons help today’s child refugees in Calais

Their parents and grandparents were rescued from Nazi Germany, now they are raising money to rescue unaccompanied minors in ‘the Jungle’

11/9/2016- British beneficiaries of the Kinder-transport programme, the organised effort to rescue thousands of children from Nazi Germany, have begun raising funds to help the scores of unaccompanied refugee children stranded in Calais. Almost 80 years after Britain sanctioned a mission to help children escape the antisemitic aftermath of Kristallnacht, Britain’s Jewish community is raising funding to evacuate at least 120 child refugees identified as having the legal right to be reunited with their families in the UK but who remain trapped in northern France. Campaigners said their predecessors had relied on Britain’s generosity to flee the Nazis and that a sense of gratitude had motivated them to help vulnerable unaccompanied child refugees, many of whom are fleeing persecution.

Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, whose parents fled Nazi-occupied Europe and who has been instrumental in galvanising support for modern child refugees, said: “Both my parents were refugees at the age of 16: both fled Germany. My mother is very conscious that were it not for the generosity of others, and a standing guarantor to enable her to enter Britain, she would be dead. I would not have been born.” His 93-year-old mother, Isca Salzberger-Wittenberg, who arrived in the UK months before the outbreak of the second world war, said: “I owe my survival to the generosity of those who gave the financial guarantees for me and my family to escape to Britain. I feel deeply concerned about refugees now, especially the children and young people.”

Within the Jungle camp in Calais, round 220 unaccompanied children have been identified as having the legal right to be reunited with families in the UK. Yet despite the UK government’s obligations under the EU Dublin Regulations, the Home Office has only rescued around 50, leaving 170 in limbo amid growing frustration over the government’s commitment to the issue. Human rights groups warn that the children are prey to traffickers, particularly as the camp is scheduled to be demolished this autumn, a move that will probably force many to simply go missing. Britain’s Jewish community now hopes to raise enough to rescue all the unaccompanied children there who have a right to enter the UK.
The campaign, launched last Sunday on Facebook, has raised more than £50,000, with £15,000 more pledged. The overall cost per child of the legal process, transport and support requirements for reuniting each refugee with their family in the UK is £2,000. The campaigners are confident they can raise the required amount through Safe Passage UK, the charity organising the entry of unaccompanied child refugees to the UK. One of the campaign organisers, Jude Oppenheimer from Finchley, north London, said the reponse from the Jewish community had been instant and unequivocal, with an initial proposal to raise money sent to her extended family raising £2,000 in “five minutes”.

Oppenheimer said: “My great uncle and aunt were refugees in 1934 from Germany and my father came over to Britain after the Holocaust. “So many have built a great life, amazing families and careers but for our parents and grandparents who came over as refugees it was Britain that gave them that opportunity and that made all the difference. It really does resonate.” Charlotte Fischer, senior organiser for Citizens UK, the charity which is sponsoring the Safe Passage UK initiative, said: “In the 1930s, 10,000 Jewish children crossed Europe and gained safety in the UK because families here raised the money to sponsor them. As Europe faces another child refugee crisis, it’s amazing to see the British Jewish community so passionate about sponsoring today’s generation of children in need of protection and sanctuary.”
© The Guardian.

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Czech Rep: Miloš Zeman: the hardline leader fanning hostility to refugees

President’s anti-Muslim rhetoric and criticism of EU has won him plaudits at home and in neighbouring countries, but raises questions for rest of Europe

14/9/2016- In Prague’s magnificent ninth-century castle, once the seat of power to Holy Roman emperors, Miloš Zeman has a mundane preoccupation sharply at odds with the grandeur of his surroundings. “Do you smoke?” asks the Czech Republic’s president, lighting the first of several cigarettes during an interview with the Guardian at his sumptuous official residence overlooking the city. “Unfortunately the smokers are a discriminated minority and we are persecuted in all hotels, all restaurants, everywhere,” he continues indignantly, defending a habit he once dismissed as harmless if not started before the age of 27. “It is like in the case of the [American] prohibition. Whiskey as a consequence was more expensive and very low quality. And now smoking is also nearly prohibited.” The contradiction of modern scientific orthodoxy seems a far cry from the moral authority exuded by one of his predecessors, the late Václav Havel, a former anti-communist dissident who was the Czech Republic’s first president following the 1992 breakup of Czechoslovakia.

Yet it is typical of the unabashed advocacy of traditional mores and popular pastimes that Zeman has made his trademark since becoming his country’s first directly elected head of state in 2013. Last year, the president – whose drinking exploits, including occasionally appearing to be inebriated in public, have become legendary – stirred controversy by wishing “death to abstainers and vegetarians” during a meeting with winemakers. His spokesman insisted he was referring to Adolf Hitler, a renowned teetotaller who did not eat meat. Whatever the truth, it was undoubtedly popular with Zeman’s working-class supporters, predominantly based in the provinces far removed from cultured, cosmopolitan Prague. Such earthy folksiness resonates even further, however – beyond the borders of the Czech Republic and with potentially important consequences for Europe’s future. It strikes a powerful chord in neighbouring Slovakia, Hungary and Poland which, together with the Czech Republic, make up the Visegrád group of countries.

This potent eastern European populism is likely to be on full display when the European Union’s members gather in Bratislava, the Slovak capital, on Friday for the first summit since Britain’s Brexit vote. For Zeman is most in his element when talking about his opposition to accepting Muslim refugees from Syria and elsewhere to ease Europe’s migration crisis. The Czech president has unleashed a rhetorical fusillade against Muslim incomers of such intensity that it makes the anti-Islamic sentiments of Robert Fico, the Slovakian prime minister, and even Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s prime minister – who is holding a referendum next month aimed at establishing public opposition to accepting migrants – seem mild in comparison.

Zeman has warned that the Czech Republic – home to only 3,500 Muslims out of a population of 10.5 million, according to official figures – could be targeted in a jihadi attack and urged Czechs to arm themselves against what he referred to as a possible “super-Holocaust”. The concern is believed to have prompted the unprecedented introduction of metal detectors to screen the crowds of foreign tourists that visit Prague castle each day. The alarmist message is particularly striking because unlike most anti-immigrant politicians in western Europe, Zeman, 71, is a social democrat (and former communist) rather than a rightwinger, and the Czech Republic has been largely spared the waves of refugees that have swept into neighbouring Austria and Hungary en route to Germany. The stridency has been lent greater urgency – and popularity – by Zeman’s hostility to proposed quotas that would disperse refugees across EU countries, a position he voiced forcefully to the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, when she visited Prague last month.

“My first sentence in the meeting with Madam Chancellor was: ‘If you invite somebody to your homeland, you do not send them for a lunch to your neighbours.’ Very polite sentence, isn’t it?” says Zeman, speaking English in disarmingly avuncular tones belying his uncompromising opinions. The German leader merely smiled in response, he says. There is little to smile about, however, when Zeman sets out what he sees as the threat being posed by radical Islamists – and even “moderate” Muslims, who he says could be radicalised to commit terror attacks as ordinary Germans were once inspired to fanatically back Hitler. “In the 30s, the overwhelming majority of Germans were decent people, the nation of Goethe and Schiller and so on,” he says. “In a few years, they became Nazis, even fanatic Nazis. And the radicalisation of the – till these times – moderate Muslim population might be like the case of the German population. It might be easier than the German population, [because] you have a very radical ideology based on a religion.”

Challenged to justify applying this to secular, non-practising Muslims, Zeman invokes a former Czech education minister in calling Islam “a religion of death” and points to what he says are the teachings of the Qur’an. “You might say that Islamic migration is composed of peaceful people. Let me give you one example. The attitude of Islam – I do not speak about jihadists, I speak about Islam – towards women, half of the population. As you know, in the Qur’an, women is something like the inferior part of mankind.” Zeman’s intemperate and, to many, downright offensive language has drawn accusations of populism and inevitable comparisons with the US Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump. He counters by citing Winston Churchill. “Winston Churchill has been always a populist and he was right. And all who criticised him were wrong,” says Zeman. “What does it mean, a populist? It is a slogan, a label, nothing more.”

Criticism is also levelled at the president’s Euroscepticism, manifested in his denunciation of EU sanctions against Russia over its annexation of Crimea. Zeman has demanded referendums on the Czech Republic’s membership of the EU and Nato, while insisting he would advocate staying in each. The country’s need to remain in the EU, which it joined in 2004, is justified by “money, money, money”, he says, before launching into a brief and unmelodic rendition of Abba’s famous hit. “My cynical explanation is that we are not the net payer in the European Union. We get a huge amount of subsidies from European funds,” he says. “This is not the situation of British people, of course.” Still, he says, the EU is unlikely to survive Brexit without triggering further exits unless there is a change of leadership and radical reform to stem “nonsense directives”.

The union, he says, is like a broken-down train described in an old Soviet joke about the collapse of communism. “The third part of the joke has the train with Brezhnev on board,” he explains. “He says, ‘comrades, if the train stops, we shall close the curtain and imitate that the train is still going on’. The European Union is the third part of this joke. They simply close the curtains and simulate that without any change of strategy, the European Union is going on.” Then the president seeks to conclude the interview, only to have second thoughts on realising he has not finished his last cigarette, giving him time to contemplate the impact of Brexit on Britain. “Long live Great Britain. But I wonder whether Scotland will stay in Great Britain,” he muses. Does Czechoslovakia’s “velvet divorce” – producing the Czech Republic and Slovakia – hold any lessons for the UK and a possible independent Scotland? “I do not wish you your splendid isolation. Isolation is splendid in the long term but you know what Keynes said – in the long term we are all dead. Bye-bye.”
© The Guardian.

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Czech Rep: Hundreds of Roma preparing for pilgrimage

12/9/2016- Hundreds of Romanies from across the Czech Republic will take part in the traditional Romany pilgrimage to Svaty Kopecek (Holy Hill) near Olomouc on Saturday, Charity Olomouc spokeswoman Eva Stefkova told CTK yesterday. The aim of the Way to Oneself event is to allow Romanies from the whole country to meet, present their own culture and contribute to bringing the Romany minority and the majority society closer to one another, Stefkova said. "We invite to the pilgrimage not only all Romanies, but also those who are interested in Romany culture and want to learn more about Romany habits and traditions," Petr Macek, Charity Olomouc deputy director, said. At 11:00 CEST, Vojtech Vagai, the first Roman Catholic priest coming from the Romany community, will say a Mass in the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary basilica. "The pilgrimage is important by connecting people, not only Romany culture. The Romanies are very emotive people. People ask me for a prayer after the mass. This is something which I do not experience commonly," Vagai told CTK last year. The pilgrimage will be held for the 18th time this year. Whole Romany families take part in the event, the sole one with such a long tradition in the country.
© The Prague Daily Monitor

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Czech Rep: Prague officials call for police to break up anti-Islamic meeting

11/9/2016- The police dispersed a demonstration held by Martin Konvicka's Initiative (IMK) anti-Islam group outside the Saudi Arabia embassy in Prague yesterday, due to defamation of religion, on call of the City Hall's officials. The clerks argued that the participants in the rally entitled "With Humour to Mecca" had downgraded religion and that they deviated from the originally announced programme. A few dozen supporters of the Konvicka group refused to leave the street, but around 15:00 only a small circle of debating people stayed there. The City Hall clerks left the rally with a police assistance, and some 20 police officers watching the rally left, too. No one was detained.
Konvicka's supporters were disguised like Muslims and they placed a mobile toilet outside the embassy that should stand for Kaaba, the most sacred mosque in Mecca. They planned to "stone" it with crumpled pieces of newspaper to mock the ritual that Muslims consider holy.

Exactly this performance was qualified as defamation of religion, and this is why the meeting was dispersed. The City Hall informed the organisers beforehand that their event would be dissolved in the case of downgrading religion. "I think that a court should decide on this. If it is up to the Prague City Hall to solve whether some religion is defamed or not, I can remember five or ten pictures displayed in Prague galleries that are defaming religion in some way," Konvicka told CTK before the meeting. The Czech Foreign Ministry called Konvicka's event provocative and a direct insult to a religious group. "The Foreign Ministry strictly condemns any similar activity that is spreading religious hatred, brings hostility into Czech society, and thereby harms the picture of the Czech Republic in the world," the ministry said on its website. In his speech at the meeting, Konvicka called Saudi Arabia the world's biggest exporter of terrorism and he called on the Czech government to expel its diplomats from the country.

Konvicka told reporters yesterday that he would discuss the City Hall's steps with his lawyers. The clerks referred to an official statement by the City Hall's spokesman. Police spokesman Tomas Hulan told CTK that no one had been detained and that the police had acted only on the basis of the City Hall clerks' request. The City Hall did not ban the rally at first saying there was no reason to do so, though the group's previous event in August when the IMK's played arrival of IS militants including a vehicle with gunmen shooting dummy weapons had caused panic among people in Prague's historical Old Town Square. It is being investigated on suspicion of rioting. Prague Mayor Adriana Krnacova (ANO) then asked to punish the clerk who had permitted the ally. The Interior Ministry said there was no reason to ban the event. However, the announcement of the demonstration should have provoked alert, the ministry added.

The organisers did not cancel or move yesterday's event because of a sewage breakdown in the street either. Prague Deputy Mayor Petr Dolinek (Social Democrats, CSSD) called on the City Hall to cancel the rally due to it on Friday, but in vain. The IMK is considering filing a legal complaint against him. The IMK announced to stage the rally outside the Saudi Arabia embassy in Prague-Bubenec on the day marking the 15th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the USA. Konvicka said the event would mock the culprits since mockery is what Islamists minded most of all. The annual great pilgrimage started in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on Friday, with almost two million Muslims from 150 countries participating in it.
© The Prague Daily Monitor

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Luxembourg says: Expel Hungary from EU for hostility to refugees

Luxembourg’s foreign minister says Hungary should be expelled for treating asylum seekers ‘worse than wild animals’

13/9/2016- Luxembourg’s foreign minister has called for Hungary to be thrown out of the European Union over its increasingly hostile approach to refugees, as campaigners accuse Viktor Orbán’s hardline government of whipping up xenophobia to block a European plan to relocate asylum seekers. Jean Asselborn said Hungary should be temporarily or even permanently expelled from the EU for treating asylum seekers “worse than wild animals”. In an interview with German daily Die Welt, he said: “Anyone who, like Hungary, builds fences against refugees from war or who violates press freedom and judicial independence should be excluded temporarily, or if necessary for ever, from the EU.” Asselborn called for EU rules to be changed to make it easier to expel Hungary as this was “the only way of preserving the cohesion and values of the European Union”. Hungary’s foreign affairs and trade minister Péter Szijjártó dismissed Asselborn as “an intellectual lightweight” and his comments as “sermonising, pompous and frustrated”.

He said only Hungarians have the right to decide who they wish to live with, adding that no Brussels bureaucrat can deprive them of this right. In a statement issued by the Hungarian government, Szijjártó added: “It is somewhat curious that Jean Asselborn and Jean-Claude Juncker – who both come from the country of tax optimisation – speak about jointly sharing burdens. But we understand what this really means: Hungary should take on the burden created by the mistakes of others.” Human Rights Watch also called on Europe to use its “enforcement powers” against Budapest after documenting abuse of asylum seekers that it says breaches Hungary’s legal obligations under European and international law. It is also alarmed by an anti-migrant campaign orchestrated by Orbán’s government to resist an attempt to impose binding quotas for resettling asylum seekers in member states.

On 2 October, Hungary is due to hold a controversial referendum on the relocation plan, which involves sending 1,294 asylum seekers to Hungary. Orbán’s government has sent an 18-page booklet to millions of Hungarian households urging citizens to reject the plan because it says “forced settlement endangers our culture and traditions”. Lydia Gall, HRW’s Budapest-based researcher on eastern Europe, dismissed the booklet as “government sponsored xenophobic anti-refugee propaganda rubbish”. She accused the EU of being “virtually silent” in the face of such rhetoric. But she said Asselborn’s call to expel Hungary from the EU would “probably do more harm than good”. In an email to the Guardian, Gall said Hungary should instead be prosecuted. She wrote: “The EU has good tools to address human rights problems in member states. The focus, rather, should be on generating the political will to use those mechanisms to hold Hungary to account including, if necessary, through the court of justice.”

Hungary’s booklet includes an image of migrants and asylum seekers queuing to enter Europe, similar to the much-criticised “Breaking Point” poster launched by former Ukip leader Nigel Farage during Britain’s EU referendum campaign. The headline above the image of the queue says: “We have a right to decide who we want to live with”, according to a translation by the Budapest Beacon. Gall said Hungary’s booklet was worse than the Ukip poster. She said: “While the Ukip poster was revolting, it doesn’t compare to the anti-migrant and anti-refugee campaign in Hungary in terms of scale.” In a blogpost, she added: “The booklet contains distorted facts about Europe’s refugee crisis, portraying asylum seekers and migrants as dangerous to Europe’s future. It links migration to increased terrorism and refers to non-existent ‘no-go’ areas in European cities with large migrant populations, including London, Paris and Berlin, where authorities have allegedly lost control and where law and order is absent.”

She added: “Sixty years ago, hundreds of thousands of Hungarians obtained sanctuary from persecution in other parts of Europe and North America. If the Hungarian government reminded itself and Hungarians about that history, it might help create a more positive and welcoming attitude towards those from Syria and elsewhere seeking safety in Hungary today.” Hungary’s hardline rhetoric on refugees left it isolated during the peak of the refugee crisis in September 2015, but in the year since, Orbán has become an increasingly pivotal figure in European policy. Austria, which initially followed Germany by responding compassionately to refugees, now stands with Hungary in calling for an Australian-style solution to the refugee crisis. “In September, Orbán was the bad guy,” Gerald Knaus, head of the Berlin-based thinktank the European Stability Initiative, told the Guardian earlier this month. “Yet by the end of the year he was the leader of a coalition of states. And with Austria now taking the lead on arguing for an Australian-style system, it’s now Germany that is isolated.”

But Orbán’s vision goes far beyond simply repelling immigrants. In a speech made last year, Orbán hailed what he saw as the demise of liberal Europe. “We are experiencing now the end of an era: a conceptual-ideological era,” Orbán told supporters last autumn. “Putting pretension aside, we can simply call this the era of liberal babble. This era is now at an end.” A week ago, Orbán continued this argument at a press conference with the rightwing Polish politician Jarosław Kaczyński, in which he called for Europe and its institutions to be reworked in favour of a rightwing vision. “We are at a historic cultural moment,” said Orbán. “There is a possibility of a cultural counter-revolution right now.”
© The Guardian.

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Hungary Gears up to Build New Anti-Migrant Fence

15/9/2016- A new fence, electronic surveillance equipment and a paved road for police "border hunters" are all part of Hungary's continuing efforts to stop the flow of migrants and refugees from the Middle East, Asia and Africa at its southern borders. The government has not yet announced a timetable for the reinforced border projects, but the mayor of Asotthalom, a village on the Serbian border, said the fence built last year had already made a difference. "Order has been practically restored in the village, which is a big achievement since migration had been causing problems for years," said Laszlo Toroczkai, recently elected as a vice-chairman of the far-right Jobbik party. "It was most unbearable in 2015, when thousands of migrants a day were marching through our village, but already from September 2014 hundreds of illegal migrants a day were arriving here."
Hungary's fences, its anti-migrant political campaigns and its grudging treatment of refugees have been harshly criticized by the United Nations' refugee agency and other rights organizations. Prime Minister Viktor Orban, however, remains unapologetic about his "self-defensive" migration policies and his opposition to greater acceptance of refugees. Nearly 400,000 people passed through Hungary last year, aiming to reach Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and other richer destinations in the European Union. Since fences protected with razor wire were completed on the border with Serbia in mid-September 2015 and on the Croatian border a month later, the number of migrants entering Hungary dropped from an average of 100 a day in the first half of 2016 to around a daily dozen in the past weeks.

Toroczkai set up a group of armed rangers to patrol the border and detain migrants long before migration through the Balkans gained national and international attention. He believes the upgraded infrastructure would increase the effectiveness of the barrier. Migrants "cut through the fence with tools and assistance from the Serbian human traffickers," Toroczkai said in an interview. "They will be confronted with a new, apparently much stronger fence which will take even longer to cut through, during which time the patrols will be able to quickly get there on the paved road and capture the trespassers." Announcing the new fence plan, Orban said last month that it would be strong enough to stop even large surges of people if, for example, Turkey allows the millions of refugees there to leave for Western Europe. "If we can't do it nicely, we have to hold them back by force," Orban said. "And we will do it, too."

Among the Asotthalom villagers, many of whom complained last year that migrants were damaging their crops as they hiked toward Budapest, there were mixed views about the fence. "If they come, they can still cut through," said Norbert Farkas, a younger, unemployed Asotthalom resident. "Maybe the solution would be if they'd just let them go wherever they want." Pensioner Rozalia Kovacs, however, wants the migrants stopped. "We're already too many here," she said. "I don't mistreat them because they don't hurt me either. It's only that there's already too many of us here."
© The Associated Press

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Hungary's far right vigilantes search the border for migrants and refugees

Mayor Laszlo Toroczkai's militia has risen from obscurity to nationwide acclaim.

15/9/2016- It is early morning as a beat-up Russian car struggles along a winding forest track, tracing the contours of the Hungarian-Serbian border. At the wheel, Shandor, 32-years-old with a blonde ponytail, moustache and camouflage fatigues, is scanning the darkness for moving shadows. The car comes to an abrupt stop. "I thought I saw someone moving down there," he whispers. We wait some minutes in eerie silence before moving off again. "If you want to meet migrants, you have to join my men at night," said Laszlo Toroczkai, speaking to IBTimes UK from Assotthalom, the Hungarian border town where he combines his duties as mayor with those of vice-deputy of the far-right Jobbik party. An unremarkable and charmless town of just 4,500 people, Assotthalom has found itself at the heart of the migrant crisis as thousands try to cross illegally from Serbia to Hungary, on their way to Europe.

'Migrant Hunting' is one of Toroczkai's favourite pastimes and Shandor, a former print-maker, is among his most faithful followers. "I can't say I get tired physically," says Shandor, who spends his 24-hour shift patrolling the border by car, "but chasing migrants affects me mentally and sometimes I get scared, too. You never know who you are going to meet in the forest, how dangerous he may be, and whether he is suffering from a contagious disease." Before the Hungarian government built a three-meter-high fence along its 175km southern border with Serbia in September 2015, hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants were able to cross through Hungary on their way to Europe. After the fence, those numbers have dwindled to around 100 per day, said Toroczkai. When his men find migrants who have cut their way through the fence, they hand them over to the police.

Toroczkai's success has changed the way the Hungarian government has approached the migrant issue. Prime Minister Viktor Orban wants to recruit 3,000 border-hunters to reinforce police and soldiers patrolling the fence. The move follows the deployment of an additional 1,500 soldiers and police officers to the Serbian border and a call for a referendum on the European Commission's proposal to relocate 160,000 refugees across EU member states. "Fidesz (the conservative ruling political party) and Orban gained popularity as a consequence of the refugee crisis," said Peter Krekó, an analyst at the think tank Political Capital Institute. "Because of the fence and the harsh rhetoric used by the government against refugees and migrants, most of the xenophobic voters turned towards the prime minister, making Hungary one of the few European exceptions."

Toroczkai, a stocky 38-year-old with a confident demeanour, has been involved in politics since the age of 18. As he emerged as a candidate for the far-right nationalistic Justice and Life Party (MIEP) he began leading debates on the anti-Semitic and xenophobic Magyar Forum. He later founded the ultranationalist 64 Counties Youth Movement in 2001, which fights for the reunification of the Hungarian minorities separated by the Trianon Treaty of 1920. In 2013 Toroczkai left both his hometown and the Movement, his nationalist faith having faltered, but he quickly found a calling in Assotthalom. "As soon as I settled here, I saw some fifty Africans breaking through the border fence. It was a sign," he said. Toroczkai, a complete unknown in the peripheral town, decided to challenge Assotthalom's long-standing mayor, a member of the centre-right Fidesz party. To his surprise, he won 71.5% of the vote.

Soon after the elections, 40,000 migrants entered the town illegally. The issue soon became the poster child of radical nationalist party Jobbik and a crusade for the newly elected mayor. For the first time, a politician was talking about constructing a border fence and organising a local militia to defend Hungary from external threats. Toroczkai started patrolling the border alone, and then recruited four other migrant hunters. "They are not voluntary vigilantes or members of the civil police but a well-trained force with the same powers of the civil police, as well as rifles, gas pistols and night vision goggles [that are] better than [those of] the normal police. Every mayor could have [this], if only the local governments could afford it," he said.

From the beginning, the migrant hunters have had much more success catching migrants than the border police, and have publicised their successes with photographs of men on their hands and knees after being caught getting through the fence. They hand the captured migrants over to the police, who then convict and deport them. Toroczkai says that unlike the badly-paid border police, his militia are locals protecting their town. Shandor and his four colleagues grew up in Assotthalom and when other residents see anything suspicious they are the first people they call. Before the government embraced Toroczkai's scheme, it was Assotthalom residents who supported the mayor through donations. "I chose this job to defend my people and my homeland from illegal mass migration. I've never felt moved by migrants, quite the opposite in fact. No one invited them here and, if I was in their shoes, I would try to solve the problems back home, instead of running away."
© The International Business Times

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Hungary's far right says PM should quit if migrant referendum invalid

12/9/2016- Hungary's radical nationalist Jobbik party told Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Monday he should resign if voters fail to turn out in sufficient numbers in a referendum next month to reject EU quotas for resettling refugees. Jobbik leader Gabor Vona is trying to increase pressure on Orban in the run-up to the vote, which will be invalid unless at least 50 percent of the electorate, or around 4 million voters, take part. "You hope to score political points with this game of hazard which could end up hurting the entire country," Vona told Orban in parliament. "If the October 2 referendum is invalid, you have to resign because you led Hungary into a battle you lost." He said the referendum would backfire on Hungary if it failed: "We will give Brussels a trump card as our weapon backfires: Hungarians will not have legally rejected the quotas." Orban has irked his European Union partners with his tough rhetoric on migrants and by building a razor wire fence along Hungary's southern border to keep them out.

He has mounted a vigorous campaign for Hungarians to reject future EU quotas stipulating how many refugees each country should take. He ignored the resignation demand, saying the vote was necessary to win political support in Hungary's battles against the EU. "We need a common basis... to challenge Brussels in conflicts that will indeed have grave legal ramifications," he said. "Without the people, that battle cannot be won. We need them, we need to involve them, and in a democracy a referendum is the only way to do that." Orban faces elections in 2018 and Jobbik will be his number one challenger, based on current poll standings. But his Fidesz party enjoys a commanding lead, which has widened in the course of the migration crisis. Vona accused Fidesz of trying to divert attention from endemic corruption he called "corruption terrorism". Orban rejected this, telling Vona to file charges in the courts if he knew of specific cases.
© Reuters

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Hungary: Holocaust memorial vandalised

11/9/2016- The Living Memorial, a grassroots monument in Budapest’s Liberty Square, in memory to the 600,000 victims of the Holocaust in Hungary, was vandalised this weekend, shortly after the neo-Nazi Kuruc.info website published an article threatening to destroy the monument. Photographs displayed at the site were torn and other items of remembrance added to the Living Memorial by survivors and descendants of survivors were shattered or removed. The Living Memorial was established in March 2014 by activists and ordinary Hungarian citizens, as a protest against the controversial German occupation monument erected by the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. The government monument served as a way to deflect responsibility for the Holocaust in Hungary away from Hungarian authorities and onto the Germans. In contrast to the Living Memorial, which for more than two years has served as the site for regular talks, lectures, discussions groups, musical performances and commemorations, the government-erected monument was never so much as formally unveiled, was completed quietly in the dead of the night and remains entirely neglected.

“With the exception of a few smaller incidents, respect towards the victims of the Holocaust always protected the memorial from the worst attacks,” writes the Living Memorial group in their statement, which was also signed by two other partner groups, namely: the Szabadság Színpad (Freedom Stage) and TÉR-KÖZ Társaság. “But yesterday something happened, which until now nobody dared to commit”–added the activists. Unknown perpetrators vandalised the monument, a mere three weeks after the Kuruc.info website, the most vile neo-Nazi Hungarian publication, published the following:
“I promise that one night, in the beginning of September, I will walk by the Living Memorial and I will pack up four or five kilograms of the display, which legally is considered to be garbage, into a strong bag. And putting that into my car, I will take it to where it belongs. Naturally, I won’t dump it into the Danube, because that is already very polluted,” wrote someone using the alias of Alitea Guzmán on Kuruc.info.

The Kuruc.info article mentions our publication, the Hungarian Free Press, by name, for having published pieces on the Living Memorial. The Living Memorial group filed a police report immediately after the vandalism of the monument. The activists note that nearly the entire square is well-equipped with CCTV cameras, so the police should be able to identify the perpetrator(s). Yet they also add: “We do not expect any meaningful response from the state.” As such, the Living Memorial group, along with its partners in the community, is organizing a flash mob on September 18th, 2016 at 4:00 PM, in Liberty Square. Participants are asked to bring votive candles, rocks, photographs and other items used for commemorating the victims of the Holocaust. “Let’s show the provocateurs that we are not afraid,” notes the group’s statement.

The Kuruc.info website is registered in the United States, but it is widely believed to be affiliated with Jobbik. It has published daily hate speech since 2006. The editors and most authors publish pieces under pseudonyms. It is believed by many, however, that Előd Novák, a former Jobbik politician, is among the editors. The website was launched by a Hungarian-Canadian–at the time living in California–by the name of Béla Varga. Mr. Varga appears to own the Kuruc.info domain and reportedly also controls Kuruc.info’s bank account. Mr. Varga, who owned a store called The Red Paprika in Healdsburg, California, had a $300,00 bench warrant issued for his arrest in 2014, after he did not show up at a San Francisco court for charges relating to uttering death threats, harassment and stalking. Mr. Varga, who is a Canadian citizen, fled California and according to reports ended up in Ontario. He is believed to be in hiding in Canada, along with his two sons and wife, to this very day.
© The Hungarian Free Press

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Headlines 9 September, 2016

UEFA punishes Russia's Rostov for racism by fans

9/9/2016- UEFA has punished Rostov for fans' racist behavior by ordering the Russian club to close a stadium section at its home debut in the group stage of the Champions League. UEFA says fans in Rostov-on-Don — a host city for the 2018 World Cup — were guilty of unspecified offensive acts during a playoff victory against Ajax on Aug. 24. A 1,500-seat section of the Olimp-2 stadium will be closed when PSV Eindhoven visits on Sept. 28. Rostov entered its first Champions League by finishing runner-up in the Russian league last season. Its group also includes Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid. UEFA's disciplinary committee also suspended Rostov's Fedor Kudriashov for three matches for his red card against Ajax. The Russia defender was sent off for a waist-high tackle to concede a penalty.
© The Associated Press

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Danish school under fire for 'ethnic quota' classes

A Danish school was criticised on Wednesday for limiting the number of students from ethnic minorities in some of its classes, in a bid to prevent students from a Danish background from leaving it.

8/9/2016- The Langkær upper secondary school outside the city of Aarhus said its first-year students had been divided into seven different classes, out of which three classes had a 50 percent limit on the number of ethnic minority students. The remaining four classes consisted only of students from an immigrant background. The school's headmaster, Yago Bundgaard, denied allegations that the practice amounted to discrimination and said that the aim was to encourage integration by preventing a dwindling number of ethnic Danes from leaving the school. "For real integration to take place in a class there has to be sufficient numbers from both groups for it to happen," he told public broadcaster DR. The school had seen the number of ethnic minority students rise from 25 percent in 2007 to 80 percent of this year's first-year students. Describing it as "the least bad solution", Bundgaard said that the ethnic minority students had been picked based on whether they had "a Danish-sounding name", but admitted that it was a "fluid" distinction.

Turkish-born commentator and former lawmaker Özlem Cekic said she would report the school to Denmark's Board of Equal Treatment (Ligebehandlingsnævnet). "When a headmaster isolates the brown children from the white in an upper secondary school, he is part of sending a signal that the whites must be protected from the brown," she wrote on Facebook. Human rights lawyer Nanna Krusaa also told broadcaster TV 2 that "placing students solely based on race or ethnicity is in my clear view illegal". Danish Education Minister Ellen Trane Nørby said that she had requested a report from the school to ensure that the law was being upheld, but that she was also looking at introducing legislation to make upper secondary schools in Denmark more ethnically mixed. "The fundamental problem is that we in Denmark have... schools with a too high ratio of students with a different ethnic background than Danish," she wrote on Facebook.
© The Local - Denmark

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The black metal origins of an anti-Muslim meme

8/9/2016- The recent arrest of a suspected neo-Nazi, Sean Creighton, 44, on a terrorism offence contained an interesting footnote. He allegedly possessed a badge with “burn your local mosque” written on it. This idea, to burn a local mosque, has appealed to neo-Nazis and Islamophobes in Europe and North America. The image, however, comes from the artwork of an obscure black metal band named Mogh, who released a live album in 2012. Mogh describes itself as a “Persian/Israeli/German extreme black metal project”. Its influences range from nihilism, the occult and the Orient. The band uses anti-Islamic imagery and symbolism in its album artwork and merchandise. The band has marketed itself as “anti-Islamlic black metal” on t-shirts bearing the “burn your local mosque” design. In spite of the above, the band were ‘shocked’ to learn that their artwork had been used to incite racial hatred.

In a statement, Mogh said: “It shocks us because of many reasons. Mogh is an international conceptual art and band which includes members from Germany, Syria, Iran, Bulgaria and Peru. Mogh philosophy believes in every person as a star regardless of its race and believes religion in any form steals that identical essence and makes you an systematic slave.” Mogh state they have lost family members in the aftermath of the Iranian Revolution. Later variations of the “burn your local mosque” image had removed Mogh’s satanic logo. Social media accounts have used it as an Islamophobic call to arms. In New York, a venue closed after hosting a neo-Nazi music festival last May. A Twitter user posted photos from outside the venue, which included a neo-Nazi owed van covered in hate stickers. One such sticker included “burn your local mosque”.

Mark Bennett, 48, was jailed last July following a racially aggravated public order offence at a mosque in Bristol. Bennett and others had placed rashers of bacon on the door handles of the mosque. They had shouted racial abuse at a member of the mosque, thrown bacon sandwiches at the mosque, and tied a St George’s flag to the railings with the words “No Mosque”. A Facebook page, linked to Bennett, had posted the “burn your local mosque” image, with the caption “Fire in the hole..!!!” Two Instagram users in the United States have promoted “burn your local mosque” patches in recent months. Both posts encouraged individuals to message for further details. The user ‘houndsnhogs88’ promoted the patch a day after the terrorist attacks in Brussels. He captioned the post: “After much deliberation, I’m finally putting this on my vest #burnyourlocalmosque #JeSuisBruxelles #fuckIslam #stopIslam”.

On November 14, 2015, Patrick Keogan had allegedly made online threats against two Islamic centres. In one alleged Facebook post, Keogan included an image of a mosque in flames, captioned with the text “burn your local mosque”. His attorney argued that the allegations do not constitute “crimes of violence.” The judge, however, found probable cause to charge Keogan. Tell MAMA staff became aware of the image last year. On February 27, 2015, the Facebook page of the Sunderland North East Infidels had uploaded the image. In early 2016, Tell MAMA received numerous reports of social media accounts sharing the image. A Twitter account linked to the notorious troll John Nimmo had targeted Tell MAMA staff with this image in 2015. By April 2016, Tell MAMA reported that an individual had been arrested for posting this image online.

The “burn your local mosque” meme had built a European audience since at least 2014. On November 6, 2014, an online post in German promoted the “burn your local mosque” patches atop bullets. A reverse image search revealed the use of the image as an avatar on a Polish language forum that same year. Nor does this idea exist in a vacuum. It’s possible to buy patches which read ‘burn your local church’. In spite of its obscurity and niche genre, the imagery, while offensive, became, by accident, a means for racists to allegedly target Muslim communities.
© Tell Mama

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Spain: Two men arrested for kicking pregnant woman wearing niqab

8/9/2016- Spanish police said Wednesday they arrested two individuals on hate-crime charges after an alleged assault on a pregnant woman wearing a niqab. According to the police statement released Wednesday, on Monday night the woman and her spouse were walking with their children in a central area of Barcelona. The woman was in an "advanced state of pregnancy" and wearing a niqab -- a veil covering the face. Police say two people approached the family and started insulting them for the way the woman was dressed. Both individuals had ties to extreme right-wing sports groups, investigators said in the statement. In response to the insults, the husband began to reproach the individuals for their offensive comments, witnesses told police.

The men were said to have started pushing the husband and when they started a heavier assault, the woman intervened. Directly after, one of the aggressors kicked the woman in the side of her pregnant belly, witnesses said. Quickly, bystanders jumped in to stop the attack and called the police, according to the statement. When officers arrived at the scene, after talking to the suspected assailants and the witnesses, they decided to arrest both individuals on charges of hate crimes, discrimination and for causing bodily harm. Last year Barcelona saw the highest number of recorded hate crimes in Spain. In 2015, 215 incidents of hate crimes were reported in Barcelona, followed by Madrid with 159 incidences, according to an official government report. These numbers represent hate crimes ranging from xenophobia to homophobia.
© The Daily Sabah

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Italian football fans give Nazi salute at World Cup qualifier against Israel

Supporters heard shouting anti-semitic slurs during game

8/9/2016- Italian football fans have been photographed giving the Nazi salute and spitting at Jewish fans during their team’s match against Israel, the country’s football association has said. Police officers attending the World Cup qualifier between the two sides at the Sammy Ofer stadium in Haifa removed two Italian fans from the away end of the ground, after they were spotted aiming the offensive gesture at Israeli players. A large group of fans were recorded booing during the Israeli national anthem, before shouting anti-semitic slurs at Jewish fans as play got underway and spitting in their direction. Neither of the men removed from the stadium were arrested by police, nor was anyone else in the ground apprehended for offensive behaviour as Italy won the match comfortably 3-1.

The Israeli Football Association lodged an official complaint to the Italian FA, describing the taunting of Jewish fans as “sickening” and calling on the authorities to take relevant action. "The Israeli Football Association will send the photos to the Italian federation with which we have a warm and brave relationship so that it can find and prosecute the sickening minority that wanted to tarnish the visiting fans, their team and their country," a statement from the IFA read. The president of the Italian FA Carlo Tavecchio responded to the allegations by condemning the fans’ behaviour, adding that the organisation intended to carry out a full investigation into the actions including identifying the men responsible according to Jerusalem Post.

There has been a steady rise in racist and anti-semitic behaviour at football matches over the past decade, with more than 650 incidents recorded between 2000 and 2015 according to the Observatory on Anti-Semitism. A recent survey by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research revealed 68 per cent of Italian Jewish people say they have witnessed or experienced anti-semitism over the past several years. Meanwhile several popular football teams, most notably the Rome-based club Lazio, are said to have groups of fans which openly hold fascist and neo-Nazi views. After a match in March, Jewish football commentator David Guetta reported that a group of Italian supporters chanted “Guetta, a train to Mauthausen is waiting for you” at him, referring to the Nazi concentration camp in Austria.
© The Independent

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Sweden: Muslim girl, 14, attacked outside school in Borĺs

Police are investigating after a 14-year-old Muslim girl was attacked outside a school in southern Sweden in what police say may have been a hate-related attack.

9/9/2016- The adult male attacked the girl with "a sharp object (not a knife)" near the International English School and the Erikslund school in Borås at around 8.28am on Thursday, the police wrote on their website. She received minor injuries, consisting of a cut on her arm. Police have confirmed that the incident is being investigated as a possible hate crime. "Information has emerged in interviews with the girl that allows it to be classified as a hate crime," they said in a statement. According to the teenager, the man said that he attacked her because she was a Muslim. "He has threatened to kill me, he says that he knows who I am and that he is going to kill me," she told the SVT broadcaster. "The first time he tried to pull off my veil."

Around 800 pupils attend the two schools, which kept their doors locked on Friday morning while teaching continued. However, police said that the attack was understood to have been specifically directed at the girl and that they did not believe there was a general threat to the public. "The police's assessment is that education and other activities can go on as scheduled throughout the day," police wrote in a statement. Officers were on Friday afternoon still looking for the suspect, who was described as a man aged around 35-40, 180-190 centimetres tall, dressed in black, with light brown hair and a beard. The attack took place a day after a 14-year-old boy was attacked with a knife at another school in a different area of Borås. Another teenage boy was arrested as a suspect shortly after the incident.
© The Local - Sweden

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Sweden: How Malmö hopes to tackle anti-Semitism

A new campaign launched in southern Swedish city Malmö hopes to fight anti-Semitism by encouraging thousands of school students to talk about the issue.

8/9/2016- The project, a combined effort between the Jewish Community of Malmö and the City of Malmö, will focus on creating dialogue about anti-Semitism by exploring the shared experiences between the city’s Jews and many of its young people. “We are actually quite similar in our experiences. Many Jews here are children or grandchildren of refugees who fled war and came to Sweden,” Jewish Community of Malmö chairman Fredrik Sieradzki told The Local. “That’s the great thing about this new education programme, it uses that shared experience and it makes it easier to talk.” The project will use movies, exercises and discussion materials on the topics of anti-Semitism, racism, and seeking refuge to help encourage discussions, with 288 teachers receiving special training.

When the materials were tested among different school groups, the result was that adolescents with similar experiences started to get more involved in discussions. Malmö has struggled to combat anti-Semitism for a number of years. In 2010 the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, which represents Jewish interests abroad, issued a travel warning for the city urging “extreme caution”, before last year saying that “virtually nothing has changed” since. Actor and former The Bridge star Kim Bodnia even said that anti-Semitism was part of the reason behind him leaving the crime drama, which is staged between Malmö and Copenhagen. And while the number of reported anti-Semitic hate crimes has decreased recently, Sieradzki thinks that does not tell the whole story. “If you look at the raw statistics it can look like things are improving, but it can also be just that registered crimes are down,” he said. “If you don’t feel like something has happened, why would you report it? That’s a problem.”

In response to the new initiative, the chairman of Malmö Council's education committee, Social Democrat councillor Anders Rubin, argued that it could be useful in other parts of Sweden in the future, with immigration changing the make-up of many Swedish cities. And that is something that Sieradzki agrees with. “Malmö has been at the forefront of a lot of things, it is very multicultural. This can be a bit of a litmus test for how the rest of Sweden can solve hate, with anti-Semitism being one of the oldest forms of hate,” he explained. “We need to try and have a dialogue. Some exciting things are happening that way, and we hope it will lead to something more positive in Malmö.”
© The Local - Sweden

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EU parliament to hold 'political' debate on Poland

The European Parliament will debate the situation in Poland on Tuesday (13 September) and vote on a resolution on the issue, amid discussions on how to deal with EU members that are cracking down on democracy. It will already be the second time this year that Poland is subject to plenary parley.

9/9/2016- The first one, in January, featured Polish prime minister Beata Szydlo as guest of honour. It was followed by a resolution in April in which MEPs called on Polish authorities to unblock the country’s top court by respecting its rulings. The debate has been given a prime slot on Tuesday afternoon (13 September), which could secure the attendance of many members. The resolution will be voted on Thursday. Leaders from five parliamentary groups - the centre-right EPP, Socialists, Liberals, Greens and far-left GUE/NGL - agreed on Thursday (8 September) to hold the debate, while those from eurosceptic groups were against. Janusz Lewandowski, from the Polish opposition party Civic Platform, which belongs to the EPP group, said the last debate had failed to reassure fellow MEPs. Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party had in just six months ”ruined the achievements of the previous generation and Polish democracy”, he said, adding that MEPs had deep concerns about abuse of power. ”Our friends have always responded when something bad was happening in our country,” Lewandowski told journalists on Thursday (8 September).

Open season on Poland
Meanwhile the upcoming resolution is not binding and the topic is so broad - ”recent developments in Poland and their impact on fundamental rights” - that MEPs will be free to raise issues on which they lack a say under EU rules. MEPs will pick up where they left on the constitutional court, as not much has happened since they voted their resolution in April. PiS is still in violation of the Polish constitution, refusing to recognise crucial rulings, and trying to stuff the chamber with its own judges. The MEPs might also condemn the planned logging of the ancient Bialowieza forest (a case subject to the European Commission’s infringement procedure) in Poland. Or they could talk about Poland’s recently passed laws on public service media, police surveillance and anti-terrorism, which according to the Council of Europe's recent report, have limited media freedom and civil liberties.

Left-wing and Green MEPs will likely speak on women’s rights, including a citizens' initiative to ban abortion, which is currently being considered by the Polish parliament. Polish MEP Tomasz Poreba, a member of Poland’s governing PiS party, dismissed the coming debate as being ”political” - a way for EP groups to support their Polish members in the opposition. ”The commission and parliament failed to act during almost 10 years of Civic Platform rule,” he told journalists on Thursday. ”Why didn’t anyone defend the tens, if not hundreds of journalists who were critical of the government and removed from public media and editors of newspapers? Why didn’t the commission and parliament react when the Civic Platform government did not publish 50 rulings of the constitutional court, and when it tried to appoint three judges of its choice just before the last parliamentary elections?", Poreba asked. He insisted that Polish democracy was thriving.

Broader concerns
Philippe Lambert, a Belgian MEP who co-chairs the parliament’s Green group, told this website that Poreba had made a ”good, pro-European” speech in the meeting of the parliament’s leaders. ”I certainly hope he will do it again in the plenary. I have no reason to doubt that he is sincere … It would be good for [Jaroslaw] Kaczynski to hear that, his speeches haven’t been very pro-European lately,” Lambert said, referring to the PiS leader. Lamberts said there were ”good reasons” to shed light on the situation in Poland through a plenary debate, but added that he could understand Poreba’s argument regarding the politicisation of the discussion, a point the Green MEP also raised before the parliament's leader. ”Why are we talking about Poland, but not France, for instance, and its state of emergency [imposed after the Paris attacks]? We are much less likely to criticise a founding member of the EU than one from central and Eastern Europe,” Lamberts explained to EUobserver.

EPP spokesman Pedro Lopez de Pablo told journalists on Friday the group supported having a debate because it wanted to show support for the EU commission’s ongoing rule-of-law probe into Poland. This could indeed be helpful: a Polish diplomat recently told EUobserver that the commission’s efforts to talk the Polish government into reason could have been more successful if the Council, another EU institution, had thrown its weight behind them. The Council, representing heads of governments, has largely stayed silent on the issue. A spokeswoman for the Socialists also said that the group wanted to support the commission's negotiations with the Polish government. She added that the group was discussing whether to introduce new mechanisms for ways to strengthen human rights inside the EU. ”We have ways for assessing democracy in accession countries, but not for EU members,” Socialist spokeswoman Utta Tuttlies said.
© The EUobserver

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Poles to the right of Jarosław Kaczyński

The Law and Justice Party is nurturing right-wing movements it may not be able to control.

7/9/2016- Poland’s youthful ultra-nationalists helped Law and Justice (PiS) take power last year. Their growing self-assurance and belligerence now threatens to turn them from useful allies to rivals. PiS has turned a blind eye to the activities of the likes of the All-Polish Youth and the National Radical Camp (ONR) — which were banned for decades before the fall of communism in 1989 — to the dismay of mainstream parties like the Centrist opposition Civic Platform, which this week asked Poland’s prosecutor general to outlaw the ONR for propagating fascism. The complaint from opposition MPs came in response to incidents at the reburial on August 28 of two resistance fighters murdered by the communists after the war. At the funeral, attended by the president and prime minister, hundreds of young nationalists held up smoking flares — the traditional gesture of the soccer hooligans who form a key part of the nationalist base.

Green ONR flags rippled in the background as PiS-affiliated President Andrzej Duda made his way to a Gdańsk church for the reburial mass. Nationalists booed and harassed a handful of activists from the Committee for the Defense of Democracy (KOD), a Centrist grouping that has staged anti-government street protests in recent months. Lech Wałęsa, the historic leader of the Solidarity labor union and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was greeted with cries of “traitor” and “death to the country’s enemies.” Paweł Olszewski, one of the opposition MPs who filed the complaint, said such incidents were not entirely new, but previously “the response of the authorities was much more severe.” “That changed after the [2015] parliamentary elections,” he told Onet, a news portal. “Now the actions of the ONR are treated with a wink.” In response, Elżbieta Witek, chief of staff to Prime Minister Beata Szydło, told reporters, “Above all, I value those who are patriots.”

In last October’s parliamentary election, PiS had the support of a quarter of voters aged 18-29, much better than its past performance with that age bracket. Not all of those voters were nationalists or right-wingers, but those groupings have become part of PiS’s support base. At the funeral, Duda praised the ultras for honoring Poland’s past, saying: “In order to be strong, in order to nurture a new generation, a country has to have heroes.” Interior Minister Mariusz Błaszczak said the presence of activists from the KOD was a “provocation.” In practical terms, too, the PiS government has made it easier for the ultra-nationalists to operate. In a review of police training materials conducted by the interior ministry in June, the ONR’s symbol — a hand gripping a sword — was removed from a guide to hate crimes.

When the ONR announced its intention to patrol the streets of the city of Łódź to “protect the Polish people against migrants,” regional governor Zbigniew Rau from the PiS defended them, saying, “If young people want to do something for the common good and they are concerned that [public] safety could be in danger, then it is the kind of capital on which we can build.”

White Catholics
Nationalist sentiment in Poland has surged thanks to a perceived lack of economic opportunity at home, resentment at often menial and unfulfilling work abroad, and widespread rejection of European Union demands for Poland to take in asylum seekers during the refugee crisis. In response, the PiS has cultivated new national heroes — in this case, the “cursed soldiers” who resisted the Soviet-backed communist regime after the war and who have been traditionally celebrated by the far-right as embodying a bloodier tradition of national resistance. That helps PiS discredit the traditional historic narrative that Poland regained its independence in 1989 thanks to the Solidarity labor union and tedious talks with the communist government. Now the “cursed soldiers” have gone mainstream. The PiS government has staged commemorations, granted state funerals to fighters whose remains have been identified, organized cursed soldier “fun runs” for young patriots, and used actors to re-stage the wedding of the executed army officer Witold Pilecki.

But that’s created an opening for militant groups far to the right of PiS. It “allows the radical nationalists to present themselves as the representatives of all genuine Polish patriots,” said Rafał Wnuk, a historian at the Polish Academy of Humanities. The problem for Jarosław Kaczyński, the 67-year-old leader of PiS, is that his party’s core electorate is older, pious Catholics from the poorer reaches of eastern Poland, who may have been thankful for nationalist support in last year’s parliamentary and presidential elections, but now struggle to keep up with them. Radical young Poles embrace what Rafał Pankowski, a scholar and anti-racism campaigner based at Warsaw’s Collegium Civitas, calls “the far-right’s ethno-religious understanding of what it means to be Polish” — in other words, that true Poles are white Catholics.

OK to be different
“If you look at the football stadiums, if you look online, if you look at the streets, if you look at fashion, this kind of ‘new nationalism’ has been growing for some time,” said Pankowski. He pointed out a sharp rise in attendance at the annual March for Independence organized by the ONR and All-Polish Youth, where marchers carried fascist symbols and demanded a “White, Catholic Europe.” Roman Giertych, who rebuilt the All-Polish Youth in the 1990s and was an ally of PiS before breaking with the party’s leader, said that “when it comes to the politics of the street, Kaczyński recognizes them, not the liberal opposition, as the most important danger.” That appears to chime with the nationalists’ own view of their increasing importance. All-Polish Youth’s leader Bartosz Berk called his movement “the only group in Poland that can be active both on the streets of Polish cities and in the parliament; at universities and in the stadiums.”

Tomasz Kalinowski, a spokesman for the ONR, said “any insinuation that there is cooperation between the ONR and the government can only be treated ironically.” “Our actions and slogans also criticize PiS. For example, we don’t like that party’s approach to Catholicism,” Kalinowski told the news portal WP. For the youthful nationalists, the question of whether the ruling party is encouraging them or trying to co-opt them is less important than their ability to take control of the national narrative. That’s represented by honoring the “cursed soldiers” of the 1940s, who were “fighting for a Catholic Poland, not a liberal democracy,” said Krzysztof Bosak, vice president of the National Movement, a new nationalist coalition. “We had a situation in Poland where for 20 years we were pushed to change the national culture to reach so-called ‘European standards,’” said Bosak. “But this point of view has completely collapsed — people understand that we can be different, and that’s OK.”
© Politico EU

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Czechs, Germans try to deal with Romany Holocaust

9/9/2016- Both Czech and German societies truly try to deal with the Holocaust of Czech Romanies, although the Czechs discuss the issue almost only on anniversaries related to the Romany Holocaust or when a controversial statement is made, Ludek Navara writes in daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) Friday. Last weekend, Deputy Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) challenged the fact that the camp in Lety, south Bohemia, was a concentration camp. Earlier this week, Babis distanced himself from such a position and he paid his respect to the Romany victims at the Lety memorial. The Czech Romany Holocaust is mostly reduced to the pig farm operating on the spot of the Lety wartime camp, Navara says.

However, in the Nazi colony on Czech territory, known as the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, two camps for Romanies were established and there were mostly two options for those who ended up in them - to die in the camp or to be sent to Oswiecim (Auschwitz), Navara writes. Apart from the concentration camp in Lety, on the site of which the infamous pig farm keeps operating, another one was established in Hodonin u Kunstatu, south Moravia. The Hodonin camp has been partly preserved and successfully saved. The Czech state bought the camp for a relatively high sum from the original owner of the site and restoration work has been underway, Navara says. The former concentration camp for Romanies will house a memorial with a museum, which is very good news. Such a place, to which all can come and see everything by their own eyes, needs to be opened so that this sad chapter of Czech, German and common European history is not forgotten and may inspire those who are dealing with the current challenges, Navara writes.

He says the discussion on the division of responsibility for the Romany victims between Czech people and the occupying Nazi Germans keeps going on, yet it is important to keep in mind that no history belongs to a single nation. Every cruel regime finds people who are ready to carry out its despotic and bloody plans and become its zealous servants, irrespective of the language they speak, he adds. It is noteworthy that the so-called gypsy camp in Hodonin was not closed. The camp was very soon and very easily turned into a place in which other unwanted people were imprisoned. After the 1948 communist coup, it affected mainly those whom the new regime labelled its enemies, Navara writes.
The postwar history of the Hodonin camp certainly was not as violent as its wartime chapter during which more than 200 Romanies died in the camp and almost 900 others were sent to Oswiecim, he says.

Germany has already shown readiness to compensate the victims of the Romany Holocaust, although this is first of all a symbolic step as only a dozen of Czech survivors of the Romany Holocaust are still alive, Navara writes. More than 5000 Czech Romanies were sent to various camps during the Nazi occupation and only 500 to 600 of them returned from the camps after the war. Many of the Romanies died after the war because they returned with serious health problems, Navara says. The present compensation from the German fund for non-Jewish victims of Nazi persecution will not only moderate the old injustice, but also additionally indirectly confirm the existence of this sad chapter of Czech-German history, Navara writes. As far as the shameful pig farm in Lety is concerned, it must be admitted that Czech representatives repeatedly tried to solve the problem, but they have not succeeded yet.

Minister Vladimir Mlynar was the first to try to move the farm away in 1998, however, the negotiations with the farm's owners did not produce any result, Navara says. The situation has remained more or less unchanged, although even the European Parliament called for the removal of the pig farm 11 years ago, he writes. In March 2016, the Czech government again dealt with the issue and it has shown readiness to take action and remove the pig farm from Lety, if possible. According to the latest information, the owners are more open to negotiations. It is nevertheless unclear whether the farm will be removed, Navara says. But, and this seems even more important, it has been recognised that justice is necessary and humans cannot make progress unless they right the wrongs of the past. This does not concern only the few Romany Holocaust survivers, but the whole society so that its members can think about whether people are doing their utmost to prevent such a tragedy from recurring, Navara writes.
© The Prague Daily Monitor

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Czech Rep: Gov't prefers buyout of pig farm at site of WWII Roma camp

5/9/2016- The Czech government prefers purchasing a pig farm in Lety, south Bohemia, situated at the site of a former Nazi internment camp for Romanies, but the opinion of the farm owners is important, Human Rights Minister Jiri Dienstbier (Social Democrats, CSSD) told reporters on Monday. Talks with the owners have been held since January 2015, he said, adding that they were correct and complex. "This does not automatically mean that they will turn out successfully. However, the government's interest is very serious," Dienstbier said. At Dienstbier's request, the government declassified its March resolution confirming its will to terminate the operation of the pig farm at the commemorative place.

The owners prefer the cabinet securing the construction of a similar farm in a similar locality, while the government would prefer a direct purchase of the real estate, Dienstbier admitted. The owners of the pig farm in Lety do not rule out its sale and they are also willing to negotiate about its exchange for another facility suitable for pigs breeding, Jan Cech, deputy chairman of the board of the AGPI company owning the farm, told CTK. "We are trying to find a solution, but so far all talks have been in general terms," Cech told CTK, adding that the government in the past never offered a particular solution, including the exact sum or another facility.  The owners have been intensively considering leaving Lety in the past two years, he added.

Culture Minister Daniel Herman (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL), who participates in the negotiations with Dienstbier, said in August that the government was close to an agreement on the purchase of the Lety pig farm and that the problem could be tackled by the end of its election term or by October 2017. Finance Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) will visit the former Romany camp in Lety on Tuesday, along with Justice Minister Robert Pelikan (ANO) and Herman, ANO spokeswoman Lucie Kubovicova confirmed to CTK on Monday. Dienstbier also said yesterday the government had not debated Babis's words on the Lety camp. According to an Aktualne.cz reporter, Babis said during his visit to a socially deprived locality in Varnsdorf, north Bohemia, last week that it was a lie that Lety had been a concentration camp. "It was a labour camp. Who did not work, ended up there," he allegedly said.

Babis apologised for his words and along with his visit to Lety, he promised to secure money for building a memorial there. Babis was called on to resign over his words that were also criticised by PM Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD). However, if Babis distances himself from the statements, there is no reason for including the affair in the agenda of the lower house's session, which the opposition demands, Sobotka said. The Town Hall of Varnsdorf, where Babis talked on the Lety camp last week, has for years called for restricting social benefits for the people who do not want to work and preventing some "opportunists" from sponging off the welfare system, but politicians have done nothing so far to improve the situation, Varnsdorf Mayor Stanislav Horacek and Deputy Mayor Josef Hambalek (both unaffiliated for ANO) said in a press release. Babis's sentence on the Lety camp for Romanies was not addressed to journalists, but the minister was just calming down a stormy debate with citizens, they added, standing by Babis.

Dienstbier and Labour and Social Affairs Minister Michaela Marksova (CSSD) also expressed concern about Babis's statements on the situation in socially excluded localities. Dienstbier said on Monday Babis's Finance Ministry was blocking 9.9 million crowns for field work in these localities. The labour camp in Lety was opened in 1940. A similar facility existed in Hodonin u Kunstatu, south Moravia. In 1942, both facilities turned into internment camps and in August of the same year, Romany camps were established there. Until May 1943, 1308 Romany men women and children were interned there, 327 of whom perished in the camp and over 500 were sent to the extermination camp in Auschwitz where most of them died. According to estimates, the Nazis murdered 90 percent of Czech Romanies.
© The Prague Daily Monitor

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Czech Rep: Roma mothers fight for better schools

Roma women launch campaign to end segregation in Czech schools and fight for equal opportunities for their children.

7/9/2016- Olga Polakova is a 32-year-old social pedagogue from Brno, the second largest city of the Czech Republic, with an estimated Roma population of 16,000. "I just want my children to go to a good school. But when you are a Roma woman in the Czech Republic, that's not so easy," she says. "I experienced the problem myself when I was a child," Polakova explains. As a little girl, she loved books and learning. But her Czech was deficient because her parents only spoke Romani to her at home. When she went to a Roma-only school, she found herself confronted with a teacher who did not correct her Czech, she says. "For example, she never explained to me that the Czech language has seven cases. So I continued to make mistakes. The school did not encourage me to use my brain or to think critically." As a result, throughout her education, Polakova says she found herself constantly lagging behind her peers.

Together with a group of about 10 other Roma mothers, Polakova has launched a campaign called "Go to a Good School" to fight for better schooling for Roma children. In the Czech Republic, these children often go to Roma-only classes or schools. "But the big problem is that these schools often don't offer a sound education," Polakova says. A 2015 Amnesty International report confirmed that Roma children in the Czech Republic are often sent to Roma-only schools and classes with lower academic standards than the rest of the country. Those who do attend ethnically diverse schools are often subject to bullying and harassment, according to the report. The action group of Roma mothers is raising awareness among their own community and are broaching the subject with non-Roma parents and teachers.
© Aljazeera

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Dutch School sacks neo-nazi teacher, court upholds decision

6/9/2016- The Twentse Carmel College in Oldenzaal has sacked a teacher who supported the Dutch neo-nazi party NVU on social media websites, local newspaper Tubantia said on Tuesday. The history teacher, who was not named, had done two periods of work experience at the school before being given a contract this summer. However, he was sacked before formally starting work after pupils commented on his extreme-right sympathies. According to Tubantia, he had attended a court hearing focusing on a prominent NVU member and had expressed strong anti-police and anti-squatter sentiments as well as making racist comments. The man had gone to court in an effort to get his job back but his claim for reinstatement was rejected. Judges ruled that his opinions broke the boundaries of respectful behaviour and could cause friction at the school. The college said on Tuesday it would now tighten up the screening process for new recruits. According to Tubantia, school officials were aware of his neo-nazi tendencies before appointing him to a permanent job.
© The Dutch News

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Dutch PM calls far right leader Wilders a societal threat

5/9/2016- The PVV’s election campaign is dangerous to the Dutch constitutional state as it goes against it on a number of points, Prime Minister Mark Rutte (VVD) said in the television program Zomergasten on Sunday, NU.nl reports. The PVV’s election campaign, published by party leader Geert Wilders almost two weeks ago, calls for all mosques and Islamic schools to be closed, radicalized Muslims to be arrested as a precaution and a complete stop to asylum in the Netherlands, among other things. According to Rutte, that is at odds with the Dutch constitutional state. Rutte also said that he considers Wilders his biggest political opponent. But that Wilders incites fear and then turns his back on the responsibility of dealing with it.

He referred to 2012, when the Netherlands was in crisis and Wilders walked away from the cabinet that depended on his tacit support. New elections had to be held after that. The Prime Minister does not think it likely that the VVD and PVV will be coalition partners after the elections in March next year. “I do not see it happening”. Rutte also discussed the tensions currently brewing in the Turkish-Dutch community after a failed military coup in Turkey in July. His “primary feeling” is that the Turkish-Dutch causing trouble in the Netherlands should go back to Turkey and express their feelings their. According to him, the majority of Turkish-Dutch are well integrated. But there is a small minority, which Rutte called “Turks in the Netherlands”, that stands with both feet outside society.
© The NL Times

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Hungarian camerawoman who kicked refugees charged

A camerawoman who was filmed kicking and tripping up refugees near the Hungary-Serbia border has been charged with breaching the peace.

8/9/2016- Petra Laszlo was caught on camera kicking a young girl and boy and then tripping up a man carrying a child. Ms Laszlo was fired by right-wing TV channel N1TV after the footage of her actions went viral on social media. She later apologised, saying she had panicked as migrants attempted to run across the border. She said her life had been "ruined" by the incident. Zsolt Kopasz, the chief prosecutor of Csongrad County, said the prosecution believed there was no "reasonable chance" of proving Laszlo's actions had caused injury, hence the charge of breaching the peace. He said: "No data emerged which would have indicated that the conducts of the accused were motivated by ethnic considerations or by the migrant status of the victims." The man Ms Laszlo appeared to trip was later identified as Osama Abdul Mohsen, a football coach from Syria. He and part of his family have now settled in Spain, where he is working for a Spanish football club. Hungary became a flashpoint in the refugee crisis last summer, with nearly 400,000 refugees and migrants passing through its territory before Prime Minister Viktor Orban ordered the erection of wire-topped fences on the borders with Serbia and Croatia.
© BBC News

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Hungarian Mock Party Takes On Governmental Anti-Immigration Campaign

Two-Tailed Dog Party is among the few willing to challenge the status quo ahead of the referendum.

5/9/2016- The Hungarian Two-Tailed Dog Party (MKKP) has been rolling out an extensive billboard campaign to counter the government's similar billboard campaign ahead of the 2 October referendum on EU migration quotas, EUobserver writes. MKKP raised 29 million forints (approximately $105,000, or 93,000 euros) within two weeks to fund the 500 billboards and 500 posters that will be put up throughout the country. The official billboards and television ads equate immigration with crime and terrorism by posing questions such as, “Did you know? Since the start of the immigration crisis, over 300 people in Europe died in terror attacks,” or “Did you know? Brussels wants to deport the equivalent of a town of migrants to Hungary?”

In response, MKKP's “Did you know?” posters pose the same questions, followed by answers such as “There is war in Syria,” or “The majority of corruption offenses are committed by politicians,” or “Moscow wants to deport a nuclear plant to Hungary". The latter is a pun on the governmental billboard about Brussels “deporting” migrants to Hungary and a possible reference to a deal with a Russian state company to build two nuclear power blocks in Hungary. Hungarians are going to the polls in October to vote on the following issue: “Do you want the European Union to prescribe the mandatory settlement of non-Hungarian citizens in Hungary even without the consent of Parliament?”

Nick Sitter, a public policy professor at Budapest's Central European University, told AP that the ruling Fidesz party is using the migration issue to bolster its popularity, especially against the increasing public support for the far-right Jobbik party, “by proving itself sufficiently nationalist and anti-European.” According to the EU agreement, Hungary would have to accept 1,300 asylum seekers, EUobserver writes.MKKP has been the only visible opposition to the campaign. Party leader Gergely Kovacs told EUobserver that MKKP encouraged everyone to spoil his or her ballot at the referendum. Other opposition parties have called for a boycott of the referendum, Hungarian daily Nepszabadsag notes. The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, a human rights advocacy organization, says the referendum and its campaign are inciting hatred, and has also call for rendering ballots invalid.

# In a Facebook post on Sunday, MKKP announced the party will be running in the 2018 parliamentary elections.
# There is no information on how much the government has spent on the campaign, but citing their marketing expert, Index.hu estimates the cost of the campaign for the past three months to have been 3.5 billion forints ($12.6 million, or 11.3 million euros).
# In August, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced the construction of another fence on the border with Serbia to keep refugees out. “If it does not work with nice words, we will have to stop them with force, and we will do so," Orban said.
# Last summer, a crowdfunded campaign in Hungary led to the putting up of hundreds of satirical billboards meant to counteract an official anti-migration drive, with slogans along the lines of “Sorry for our prime minister,” “Come to Hungary, we've got jobs in London,” or “I have survived the Hungarian anti-immigration campaign!”
# A group of young, Serbian, activist-jokesters won around a quarter of the seats on the Mladenovac city council in local elections held in April. They ran under the moniker “Hit It Hard – Beli” in a campaign satirizing political realities in the region.
# In August, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced the construction of another fence on the border with Serbia to keep refugees out. “If it does not work with nice words, we will have to stop them with force, and we will do so," Orban said.
# Last summer, a crowdfunded campaign in Hungary led to the putting up of hundreds of satirical billboards meant to counteract an official anti-migration drive, with slogans along the lines of “Sorry for our prime minister,” “Come to Hungary, we've got jobs in London,” or “I have survived the Hungarian anti-immigration campaign!”
# A group of young, Serbian, activist-jokesters won around a quarter of the seats on the Mladenovac city council in local elections held in April. They ran under the moniker “Hit It Hard – Beli” in a campaign satirizing political realities in the region.
© Transitions Online.

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Greece: Golden Dawn trial resumes

5/9/2016- The trial of Golden Dawn leadership and members resumes Monday in Athens after a summer recess with more testimonies of witnesses to the murder of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas. Fyssas was stabbed to death to murder by Golden Dawn member Giorgos Roupakias in a suburb of Piraeus in September 2013. In the next stage, the court will hear testimonies relating to an attack on four Egyptian fishermen in Perama, near Piraeus, in June 2012. Meanwhile, there were no reports of violence as the neo-Nazi party held a torch-lit march at the Thermopylae Pass, some 200 km from Athens, on Saturday to commemorate the battle of Spartan King Leonidas and his 300 warriors against Persian invaders in 480 BC. Authorities were on high alert due to concerns of possible violence as the site is less than 300 meters from two hotels used to host about 500 migrants and refugees.
© The Kathimerini.

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EU institutions failing race equality drive

EurActiv recently asked the European Commission whether the executive is too white, drawing attention to the surprising fact that the institution does not collect data on the ethnicity or religion of its officials. There is still a lot to be desired from the institutions’ push for diversity.
By Claire Fernandez, deputy director of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR
).

5/9/2016- If you work in the Brussels bubble or come often for business, chances are you’ve already attended a meeting or panel with only white people. When asked by EurActiv about the issue, the executive’s Deputy-Chief Spokesperson Alexander Winterstein answered that there is no need for diversity monitoring inside the Commission because recruitment methods are fully open and staff members represent Europe’s diversity. We would argue the opposite. Not only does this complacent answer contradict EU equality laws and policies, it also ignores the reality of unequal access to employment opportunities for ethnic and religious minorities in the European Union.

Here is a reality check for the EU body. With estimates at about 2 million Jews, 6 million Roma, 10 million people of African descent and 19 million Muslims, ethnic and religious minorities represent at least 7% of the EU population, and that’s not even the full extent of EU diversity. Can the European Commission even pretend to come as close to employing 7% minority staff members? First, without monitoring diversity – or equality data collection – there is no way to know how diverse the work force is or to better plan diversity management. A European Commission handbook on measuring discrimination concludes that there is a “considerable and compelling demand” for collection of equality data and “recognises the need to engage in data collection in order to work towards the realisation of equal treatment in practice”.

It seems the Commission is not practising what it preaches when it comes to race equality. On other areas of diversity, while there is room for progress, some EU institutions, such as the EU Council, are collecting data on gender, age, disability and nationality of their employees. Equal progress needs to happen for ethnic and religious minorities. Efficient equality data collection in the workplace also allows employers to objectively evaluate their progress in ensuring equality. Collecting equality data is legal in the EU, provided it is done with the person’s informed consent and according to data protection standards. For data collection to be most effective, it is also important to allow employees to self-identify, to clarify the purpose of the data collection and to ensure that the process is based on dialogue with the groups concerned.

Secondly, the statement that “everybody can pass the EU competition”, which is fair and open, is not completely accurate. We have been told by Union officials that applicants to the EU institutions’ competitions tend to be white, well-educated EU citizens and that many women take the tests but are not selected. It is therefore likely that the tests developed as part of the selection procedure have indirect cultural, social or gender bias. It might be useful to question the way in which these selection tests are developed – if they are developed according to the profile of majority white people – and to assess how many ethnic minorities apply and how many go through the tests successfully. It is also important that the European Personnel Selection Office actively reaches out to areas and communities less represented among EU staff. In addition, EU equality legislation allows EU member states to adopt positive action measures, i.e. measures to prevent or compensate for disadvantages in order to ensure equality in practice. The big stumbling block here is structural racism and discrimination.

However, it seems that the EU institutions, with a few exceptions such as European Commission and Parliament traineeships offered to Roma candidates or interns with disabilities, do not implement the diversity management or positive action measures they promote. There are good practices across the EU, such as the United Kingdom’s public sector equality duty. It includes an obligation for all public bodies to set themselves specific and measurable equality objectives in employment, and to publish relevant information demonstrating the steps they are taking to improve equality.

If the EU institutions were to reflect the diversity present in Europe, they would start by taking some of the steps outlined above: collect equality data, introduce community outreach programmes, create equal opportunity schemes for staff members, interns and seconded experts with a diverse background, support mentorship programmes and affinity groups for groups at risk of discrimination in the EU institutions, and apply the highest anti-discrimination and equality standards in their own recruitment processes. “United in diversity” is Europe’s motto. In times of reflection on how to bring the EU closer to its people, it is time – for the whole EU bubble, not just the institutions – to give life to the real meaning of diversity.
© EuroActiv

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Northern Ireland: Attack on Pride organisers treated as 'hate crime'

Police are now treating an attack in which organisers of a Pride festival were assaulted and injured as a homophobic hate crime.

6/9/2016- Two men sustained cuts to their face at the Mall in Newry, County Down, in the early hours of Sunday. Pride in Newry said five of its committee members were "savagely beaten in a vicious homophobic attack". The Police Ombudsman has received a complaint about how the PSNI dealt with the incident. Police said they were investigating it on Monday but on Tuesday they confirmed they were treating it as homophobic. In a statement, a police spokesperson said they were "aware of an altercation" at the Mall at about 02:38 BST on Sunday. "We take all reports seriously. Where complaints are made to police they will be fully and appropriately dealt with. "Two men sustained cuts to their face as a result. The police investigation is ongoing," the statement added. Pride committee member Damien McKevitt told BBC News NI that his partner received stitches to his head and nose after being injured in the attack. It took place just hours after the committee hosted their fifth annual festival in Newry, celebrating the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. On its Facebook page, Pride In Newry said its members were "shocked and deeply saddened" by the homophobic attack.
© BBC News

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Northern Ireland: 'Hate crime' paint attack on Belfast Islamic Centre

A paint attack on the Belfast Islamic Centre has been branded "disgusting".

6/9/2016- Red paint has been daubed on the door of the building in the Wellington Park area of Belfast. Police are treating the incident as a hate crime. It was reported to officers shortly after 11.35pm on Monday night. Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw has urged those with information to contact police. She said: "This attack is disgusting – Belfast Islamic Centre contributes much to the cultural life of South Belfast and beyond, and I utterly condemn those who carried this out, who are unrepresentative of the vast majority of people in the wider area. “Those who take part in such hate-filled actions seek to drive a wedge between communities and heighten tensions, both racial and religious. They have no place in our society, and we must unite and stand steadfast in order to defeat them. “If anyone has information about this attack, I would urge them to contact police immediately.”

Sinn Fein MLA Máirtín Ó Muilleoir added his condemnation to the attack. He said: "I have spoken to representatives in the centre and wish to put on the record my utter condemnation of this hate crime. “These attacks are despicable and I appeal for anyone with information to contact the police." Chairman of Islamic Centre, Dr Saleem Tareen, said: "The only way we can deal with this is through communication. "We have to carry on with life – these sort of things are saddening but they don't stop you from doing the things you do." Police are appealing for anyone who witnessed the incident or anyone who has any information that can assist with the investigation to contact police at Lisburn Road on 101 quoting reference number 235 of 06/09/16. Information can also be passed anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
© The Belfast Telegraph

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