NEWS - Archive March 2011

Headlines 25 March, 2011

INTERNATIONAL ACTION WEEK AGAINST RACISM 2011

Headlines 18 March, 2011

Headlines 11 March, 2011

Headlines 4 March, 2011

Headlines 25 March, 2011

FIRST COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO EUROPEAN NON-DISCRIMINATION LAW LAUNCHED

21/3/2011- The first comprehensive guide to European non-discrimination law was launched by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg today, 21 March, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

The Handbook on European Non-Discrimination Law, published jointly by the Fundamental Rights Agency and the European Court of Human Rights, is the first comprehensive guide to European non-discrimination law. It is based on the case law of the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Justice. It covers: the context and background to European non-discrimination law (including the UN human rights treaties), discrimination categories and defences, the scope of the law (including who is protected) and the grounds protected, such as sex, disability, age, race and nationality.

The handbook is aimed at legal practitioners at national and European level, including judges, prosecutors, lawyers, law-enforcement officials, and others involved in giving legal advice, such as national human rights institutions, equality bodies and legal advice centres, to whom it will be distributed.

It can also be consulted on-line or downloaded and there is an accompanying CD-Rom dealing with the relevant legislation, specialist literature, case studies and case-law summaries.

It is already available in English, French and German. Versions in Bulgarian, Czech, Hungarian, Italian, Romanian, Spanish, Greek and Polish will follow shortly and the material will eventually be available in almost all EU languages as well as Croatian.
© The Fundamental Rights Agency

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RUSSIAN PRESIDENTIAL ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL REPROACHES CERTAIN ISLAMIC LEADERS OF DISCREDITING STATE

24/3/2011- Russian Presidential Administration Advisor in charge of liaisons with Islamic organizations Alexey Grishin denied accusations in Islamophobia addressed to the state. "Progressive development in relations between the state and Muslim religious organizations irritates extremists of different kind. They try to discredit position of the state to Muslims," Grishin said speaking at the Muslim conference Russia - Our Shared Home on Thursday in Moscow. According to him, "very often, especially recently certain Muslim leaders have been trying to justify their inactivity, inability to solve ummah's acute problems with alleged Islamophobia." Accepting that Russian society indeed has fear of Islam, the speaker pointed out that "on TV screens we see that bloody terrorist attacks are committed unfortunately with God's name and unfortunately under green flags of Islam." "These unpeople are not Muslims, they criminally use Islam to reach their own goals. Struggling against Islamophobia, we should focus the main blow on them. People are afraid of Islam because of them," the official stressed. He reported that there were less than hundred mosques in the country in 1991, now their number exceeds seven thousand. "No other country can demonstrate seventy-fold increase in number of mosques in 20 years! There weren't any Islamic educational establishments in Russia in 1991, now we have 95, and there are seven Islamic higher educational establishments supported by a special state program of the Education and Science Ministry, they receive methodic and material help, 31 madrasah participate in the program," Grishin said.
© Interfax-Religion

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HARROWING SIGHTS IN THE BALTICS (opinion)

Within the last two weeks, both Lithuania and Latvia hosted well-attended marches likely to send shivers down Holocaust survivors’ spines and arouse tragic memories.
By Efraim Zuroff, Israel director and coordinator of Nazi war crimes research worldwide of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

23/3/2011- These are hard times for the Jews of Lithuania and Latvia, especially for the Holocaust survivors among them. Within the last two weeks, one of the main avenues of the capital cities of each country hosted a well-attended march likely to send shivers down their spines and arouse tragic memories. On March 11, about one thousand Lithuanian ultranationalists and neo- Nazis, bolstered by a delegation of their German counterparts, marched down Gediminas Avenue in the heart of Vilnius under police protection (the only persons arrested were two of the handful of brave Lithuanian protestors) shouting “Lithuania for Lithuanians” and waving swastika symbols, which in May 2010 were approved by a local court as “symbols of Lithuanian heritage.” Five days later, about 2,500 Latvians gathered to support a march in Riga by veterans of the Latvian SS Legion from a local church to lay wreaths at the Freedom Monument, the symbol of Latvian independence. And while the marches are ostensibly different – the one in Lithuania focusing on the present and the one in Latvia dedicated to remembering the past - they both broadcast a chilling message of hostility for minorities and support for the same fascist nationalism which spawned the zealous collaboration of so many of their countrymen with Nazi Germany in the mass murder of Jews during the Holocaust.

This was not the first time these marches have taken place. The one in Lithuania was held for the fourth year in a row and the number of its participants has steadily grown. The Latvian march has been going on for longer, but in this case as well, it appears that this year’s crowd was larger than in the past. Every year, efforts are made in both countries to legally prohibit the events, but ultimately local courts opt for freedom of expression. After all, similar marches are held in Germany (without Nazi or SS symbols which are banned by law) and in the United States and other countries. Thus while Holocaust denial is a criminal offense in Lithuania punishable by incarceration, local officials and judges fail to see the connection between swastika- bearing demonstrators marching in the capital of a member-state in good standing of the European Union and NATO and the crimes committed under that very symbol. In Latvia, the situation is slightly more complicated, but ultimately it is the same ultranationalism and xenophobia, coupled with a healthy dose of anti-Semitism, which feuls the determination of Latvians to glorify those who fought alongside Nazi Germany for a victory of the Third Reich. Advocates of the march continue to insist that those who served in the Latvian SS Legion had no allegiance to Germany and were “freedom fighters,” battling for an independent Latvia, but the sad reality is that the Nazis had no such intentions, regardless of the number of locals serving in the Waffen-SS.

Even worse, these nationalists fail to acknowledge the important fact that many of Latvia’s worst murderers of Jews volunteered to serve in the Legion and were among its officers. Thus the attempts to turn these Legion veterans into Latvian heroes is not only a distortion of history, but is also a heartless affront to the Jewish community in general, and the survivors among them in particular. If these marches had been organized by marginal political elements and had been roundly criticized by local government leaders, it might have been possible to dismiss them as upsetting although not critical, but unfortunately, that is not the case. In Lithuania, the political leadership failed to speak out in real time and only did so half-heartedly in response to criticism, mostly from Jewish groups abroad. Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius criticized the march only because it discredited “patriotism,” while it took President Dalia Grybauskaite five days to say that “patriotic parades are welcome, but marches inciting ethnic hatred shouldn’t take place.” Given the fact that among the leaders of the march in Vilnius were Kazimieras Uoka, a member of parliament from the prime minister’s party and Ricardas Cekutis, a high official of the government-sponsored Genocide Research Center, much more unequivocal criticism was sorely lacking.

In Latvia, Foreign Minister Girts Kristovskis has nothing bad to say about the march by SS veterans, but used the occasion to lump together Communist and Nazi crimes,as part of the ongoing campaign by the Baltic countries to relativize Holocaust crimes and help hide their own extensive complicity in the atrocities of the Shoa. In this dismal landscape, a letter of protest signed by 600 Lithuanian intellectuals calling upon the leaders of their country to “condemn and distance themselves from the march of the extreme right and neo-Nazis,” shines out like a beacon of hope, but without external support and pressure, the chances for its success are very minimal. And in that context, the silence from Brussels, Washington, and Jerusalem is incomprehensible.
© The Jerusalem Post

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USA SET TO SHUT NEO-NAZI WEBSITE (Austria)

23/3/2011- An infamous neo-Nazi homepage may go offline soon, it has emerged. Viennese newspapers report today (Weds) that Austrian prosecutors came to an agreement with authorities in the United States over shutting down the "Alpe-Donau" website. Austrian Green Party officials have pointed out for months that Austrian neo-Nazis are frequently leaving fascist and racist statements on the internet platform. State prosecutors in Vienna recently started investigations only to find out that they are unable to interfere as the website is run by a server based in the USA. Now reports have it that Austrian investigators convinced colleagues in the United States that the homepage must be taken off the web although activities on it did not breach any federal laws. A notification posted on "Alpe-Donau" earlier this week informs visitors that the page will "log off shortly – but we will be back."

The internet portal has been in the news as many of its users openly backed the Freedom Party (FPÖ). The party headed by Heinz-Christian Strache is currently the third-strongest faction in the federal parliament in Vienna. It garnered 17.5 per cent in the most recent general election in 2008 and claimed nearly 26 per cent in the Vienna city parliament ballot last October. Several "Alpe-Donau" users agreed in discussion forums that they were happy about current developments within the FPÖ as far as the right-wing party’s ideology and policies were concerned. Strache has emphasised that he and his party are totally disassociating themselves from the website and any fascist and racist propaganda.

The FPÖ used to be Austria’s liberal political force but took on a right-wing ideology when Jörg Haider – who died in 2008 – took over in 1986. Some political analysts have pointed out that the party is more and more focusing on campaigning against Muslims after having criticised Jewish and black people in the past. Only last month, a lecturer was ordered to pay a fine of 480 Euros for calling Islam "hostile" and the Koran "evil" in a seminar organised by the FPÖ’s academy which was held in a hotel in Vienna in 2009. FPÖ General Secretary Harald Vilimsky infuriated political rivals, Muslims and non-government organisations (NGO) last year by calling mosques "hotbeds of radical Islam."
© The Austrian Independent

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EU IGNORES MALTA ON SPECIAL STATUS FOR REFUGEES

31/3/2011- Malta has asked to activate a "temporary protection" mechanism allowing refugees from Libya to be granted fast-track asylum procedures anywhere in the EU. But neither the European Commission nor other member states are willing to proceed for now. "The Maltese government has requested yesterday [30 March] the activation of the temporary protection mechanism. It is now up to the EU commission to come up with a response," Maltese centre-right MEP Simon Bussutil told this website on Thursday, on the fringes of a debate on migration organised in Brussels by the European Policy Centre. In his view, the commission is waiting to see what the mood is among member states before triggering the mechanism, established in 2001 and never used so far. "I don't think it's the right attitude, the commission should come forward with a proposal and throw it at the Council [of ministers]," Bussutil said.

Malta, home to little more than 400,000 native inhabitants, earlier this week received 819 refugees from Libya, mainly Somali and Eritreans, who are the most vulnerable group of people stuck in the Libya conflict. Other boats carrying over 2,000 sub-Saharan Africans from Libya recently arrived on Malta's neighbouring island of Lampedusa - an Italian piece of land closer to the Tunisian coast than Sicily and already overcrowded by Tunisian migrants. Faced with these developments, Maltese officials are preparing for the worst-case scenario. "The migration problem we have ahead of us is completely different to what Malta has experienced so far. A civil war is ongoing in Libya, which will surely prompt more people to flee from the war-torn country," justice and home affairs minister Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici was quoted as saying by Malta's Independent newspaper. "Just under 3,000 migrants have landed either in Malta or in Lampedusa over the past few days, and there is a strong possibility that more could be on their way," the minister added.

Italy has so far been at the forefront of "solidarity" calls, urging the EU to step up its financial aid and other member states to shoulder the burden of southern immigration. But when asked if Italy would back the call for the temporary protection to be enacted, Italian ambassador to the EU, Ferdinando Nelli Feroci, said: "So far, the situation is being examined in Rome and we don't think the conditions are met to trigger the temporary protection mechanism." Among the conditions, Feroci cited "armed conflict", "massive flows of refugees" and "systematic violation of human rights." While admitting that the war in Libya and the Nato-led operations Italy is part of was prompted by Gaddafi's attacks on civilians, the ambassador argued that the influx of refugees was not yet "massive." The analysis comes despite statements by Italian interior minister Roberto Maroni - a politician from the anti-immigration Lega Nord party - who warned of a "biblical exodus" from north African states following the uprisings.

Italy's split attitude - claiming an exodus on one hand, but then saying there is no mass influx - could be linked to the fact that the temporary protection mechanism may trigger bigger costs to the host nations, as the special status can be extended for up to two years. The EU commission - confirming Bussutil's analysis - has meanwhile said it is "assessing" the situation and will discuss the option of temporary protection at an upcoming meeting of interior ministers on 11 April. Member states in the northern part of the continent, such as Britain or the Netherlands, see the situation as "not sufficient" to trigger the temporary protection measures, initially designed for Kosovo refugees, when there were hundreds of thousands of people concerned. "The current situation in Malta and elsewhere involves a much smaller number of people, and it's not clear that they all require protection within the EU," one EU diplomat told this website.

The latest figures provided by Aid organisations such as the UNHCR confirm that the 'exodus' from Libya is mainly affecting neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt, not the EU as such. Out of the 423,000 refugees fleeing the war, 200,000 fled to Tunisia, 160,000 to Egypt and only some 23,000 went to Europe, said John Fredrikson from the UNHCR Brussels office. EU support for an evacuation program co-ordinated by the International Organisation for Migration and the UNHCR repatriating most of these refugees from Asian and some African countries is essential in helping Tunisia - a country with a population equivalent to that of Belgium (10 million people) cope with these massive refugee camps. "Tunisia needs Europe's help, especially given the fact that they so generously kept their borders open," Fredrikson said. Among the people fleeing the war-torn country are also Libyan nationals - some 60,000 - but they don't stay in refugee camps, as they "have the resources to rent apartments," the UNHCR representative added.
© The EUobserver

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MALTESE MEDIA ACCUSED OF PROMOTING RACISM

23/3/2011- The media in Malta have been accused of “promoting racism” and acting as a main “contributor to the fear of Malta being invaded and conquered by Africans”. Racial discrimination remains widespread in Malta, particularly when it comes to employment and housing, according to a report published in Brussels yesterday to mark International Day Against Racism. The European Network Against Racism suggests that over the past years the media in Malta encouraged racial discrimination through its focus on irregular migration problems. The co-authors of the part dealing with Malta – Jeannine Vassallo and Jean Pierre Gauci from an NGO called The People for Change Foundation – say an in-depth content analysis shows indirect racism was common in Maltese media. They say “illegal immigrants” and “illegal immigration” were the words of choice when describing matters relating to migration. Journalists made little distinction between the terms “illegal immigrants”, “irregular migration”, “asylum seekers” and “refugees” despite the different legal definitions. “Additionally, derogatory terms such as ‘clandestine’, ‘parasites’ and ‘scroungers’ were also used at times.” The report adds: “Most features in the media depict migrants in a negative light, with most representing migrants as troublemakers or criminals as opposed to hard workers, family members and churchgoers, which would be considered pious in Maltese society.”

ENAR also hit out at the internet, particularly online websites and comment forums made available by Maltese online newspapers. According to the report, Jon Hoisaeter, from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, described the language used on such online forums as “rather aggressive towards immigrants” which is “very discouraging”. The report says the online forums are used extensively to discuss migration issues even by far-right groups that aim to get their message across and enable discussion among followers. Apart from the criticism of the Maltese media, the report says discrimination against African minorities in Malta based on race is still widespread, particularly when it comes to employment and housing. The report, which deals with the period January 1, 2009 and March 31, 2010, notes that employment discrimination against Africans and Muslims is pervasive both when seeking a job and in terms of the work conditions offered. Claiming that some migrant workers were even offered jobs for €2 a day in the construction industry, the report notes that “migrants felt obliged to accept these conditions lest failing to do so would mean having no source of income whatsoever”. With regard to housing, ENAR claims many Maltese landlords are reluctant to rent accommodation to foreigners (Africans) for fear of damage to their property due to neglect. “Furthermore, there are certain areas which are highly populated by migrants, largely due to cheap prices and the fact that they are outside traditional city centres,” the report states.
© The Times of Malta

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COURT HEARS CLAIM OF FORCED ROMA STERILIZATION (Slovakia)

22/3/2011- Europe's human rights court opened a hearing Tuesday into a Gypsy woman's allegation that she was wrongly and forcibly sterilized at a state-run hospital in her native Slovakia because of her ethnicity. The case at the European Court of Human Rights centers on allegations that a semiofficial policy of forced sterilization of Gypsies — who prefer to be called Roma — in eastern Europe during the Communist era lingered in some areas after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Other similar cases are pending before the European Court, but this is the first to advance to the hearing stage, said Tracey Turner-Tretz, a court spokeswoman. The complaint brought by the woman against Slovakia's government centers on the claim that she was sterilized through tubal ligation after giving birth in 2000 to her second child by Caesarian section. She was identified only as "V.C." and said to be about 30 years old. The woman alleges that in the final stages of labor, she was told by staffers at the Presov hospital in eastern Slovakia if she wanted to have more children, either she or the baby would die, the court said in a statement Tuesday. Scared, in pain and confused about the meaning of sterilization, she signed a consent form for the procedure, the court said. "She also claims that her Roma ethnicity — clearly stated in her medical record — played a decisive role in her sterilization," the statement said, just as the closed-door hearing got under way. "In particular," the statement went on, "she was placed in the so-called 'Gypsy room' and was not allowed to use the same bathrooms and toilets as non-Roma women."

Hospital managers countered that the sterilization was conducted on medical grounds — amid the risk of a uterus rupture — and denied her claim that she was segregated away from non-Roma patients, the statement said. National courts and investigators in Slovakia did not turn up any wrongdoing by hospital personnel. A spokesman for the Slovak justice ministry didn't immediately respond to questions. The woman "continues to suffer" today because of the operation, with feelings of ostracism from the Roma community, the statement said, and her husband has repeatedly left her because of her infertility. The hearing in the seven-judge chamber concluded Tuesday, and a verdict is not expected for several weeks. Either side could appeal the ruling — possibly sending the case up to the court's Grand Chamber. The head of a U.S. human rights watchdog called on Slovakia's government "to finally acknowledge cleraly and unequivocally that Romani women in Slovakia were, at once time, targeted for sterilization." U.S. Rep. Christopher Smith, the chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, said that "as a matter of justice for the victims and truth about the past due to all the people of Slovakia this practice should be condemned as a grave human rights violation." The Communist governments in Hungary and Czechoslovakia applied a semiofficial policy of forced sterilization to limit the population of Gypsies, whose large families were seen as a burden on the state. The practice ended only in recent years, long after the fall of those regimes.
© The Associated Press

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‘UNPRECEDENTED’ RISE IN RACIST CRIME (Cyprus)

22/3/2011- Data collected by anti-racist civil society groups reveal that Cyprus has seen “an unprecedented rise in racist crime and racist violence particularly against migrants and asylum seekers” as well as the rise of far-right nationalistic groups and parties. A press release issued by the Cyprus branch of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) yesterday to mark International Day against Racial Discrimination, reports point to manifestations of racism across Europe in a broad range of areas, including employment, housing, education, health, policing, access to goods and services, and the media. The pending release of the reports covering the 2009-2010 period is expected to highlight that extremism and racist violence are on the rise in Europe.

On Cyprus, the report will conclude that “the strict migration policies and model followed in Cyprus continue to deny migrants, asylum seekers and refugees effective access to basic social and political rights and in most cases to their human rights in general”. While Cyprus has antidiscrimination legislation in place, this “remains largely unimplemented on the ground”, said the ENAR Cyprus branch, adding that the country was “far from taking the necessary measures to achieve real equality for all people irrespective of nationality, race, colour or ethnic origin”. In a damning indictment of the government’s latest efforts to introduce and implement a migration policy on the island, ENAR said: “Whereas integration may stand prominently on the agenda of the Cypriot migration policies, little is achieved to that effect and migrants continue to live at the margins of the society.”

ENAR President Chibo Onyeji said: “The report demonstrates that racism is far from over in Europe -- we still have a long way to go before reaching effective equality for all.” ENAR is a network of European NGOs working to combat racism in all EU member states and represents more than 700 NGOs spread around the EU. The network’s purported aim is to fight racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, to promote equality of treatment between EU citizens and third country nationals.
© The Cyprus Mail

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STATEMENT CALLS FOR COMMUNITIES TO UNITE AGAINST EDL (uk)

Some of Blackburn's most prominent people and organisations has signed a joint statement highlighting community cohesion in the town. The statement has been released in the run-up to the EDL protest in the town on Saturday April 2.

25/3/2011- The statement reads: "Islamophobia is as unacceptable as any other form of racism. It divides and weakens our society by making scapegoats of one section of the community. "Since their inception, wherever the EDL have marched, their supporters have attempted verbal and physical abuse on Asian people, their friends and their property. This has no place in a civilised society and it has no place in Blackburn.

"In difficult economic times, when jobs are being lost, services cut and communities as a whole suffering, racism only serves to undermine the basic solidarity we all need to have with one another. "There is also the cost of this march to the local council tax payer to be considered, both in terms of the massive police operation needed because the EDL have a well-earned reputation for thuggish behaviour, on similar marches in other parts of the country, and, the potential loss of trade for town centre businesses. "The cost to the town will be in the hundreds of thousands of pounds and Blackburn simply cannot afford this expense.

"Our response therefore to the English Defence League presence in our town is to affirm our community values - based on mutual respect, tolerance and unity. "We do not wish to see our town become the venue for the latest display of EDL intimidation and violence, which is the hallmark of all of their public activity."  On Saturday April 2nd at 1:00pm on Sudell Cross Blackburn, people will to come together under the banner of Blackburn and Darwen United Against Racism.

Please come along and join in our Celebration. There is far more that unites us than divides us.

This statement is supported by • The Bishop of Blackburn – Mr Nicholas Blackburn • Sir Bill Taylor • Michael Hindley former MEP Lancashire East; Leader of Hyndburn Council; Lancashire County Councillor • Kate Hollern Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council • Councillor Mohammed Khan • Councillor Tony Humphrys • Councillor Pat McFall • Councillor Dave Harling • Councillor Jim Shorrock • Peter Billington Lancashire TUC • Shaukat Hussain Labour Party Local Government Committee Chairman • Karen Narramore Secretary UNISON East Lancs Branch • Peter Dales UNISON East Lancashire Health Branch Chairman • Simon Jones Secretary Blackburn with Darwen National Union of Teachers • Paul Hogan Assistant Secretary Blackburn with Darwen National Union of Teachers • Liz Beaumont Natiuonal Union of Teachers • Cath Ford Independent local artist • Maurice Ffelan • Tom Howard • Anne Davies Hospital Volunteer • Anjum Anwar Director of Womens Voice • Phil Riley Secretary Blackburn Labour Party • Adil Babar UNISON • Dave Fleming • Tricia Gleave University & College Union Blackburn College Safety Rep • Colin Crabtree University & College Union Union Blackburn College Rep • Craig Hammond University & College Union Blackburn Branch Chairman • Ashley Whalley University & College Union Blackburn Branch Secretary • Alan McShane University & College Union Blackburn College Senior Safety Rep • John Murphy University & College Union Blackburn College Vice-Chairman • Councillor Salim Sidat • Councillor Andy Kay • Councillor Faryad Hussain • Councillor Abdul Samad Patel • Councillor Maureen Bateson • Councillor Eileen Entwistle • Councillor Naushad Surve • Councillor Mike Johnson • Hansa Canon UNISON Black Members Officer • Pat Maudsley Blackburn Labour Party • Frances Bradley Senior UNISON Steward • Dave Bradley UNISON Steward • Ian Gallagher Blackburn & District TUC • Gareth Roscoe BwDBC Local Government Branch Secretary • Dee Shuttleworth Unison Branch Administrator/Steward • Arim Rafique Equality Officer Blackburn College • Marin McAreavey University & College Union Rep • Frank Davis UNITE Senior Union Rep at Crown Paints • Bob Wellham UNITE Senior Union Rep at Crown Paints • Doug Kelly University & College Union Safety Rep at Blackburn College • Lancashire Council of Mosques (LCM)
© Asian Image

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EQUALITY COMMISSION TO FACE 'MAJOR SURGERY' (uk)

Consultation paper expected to restrict EHRC's activities to core functions and to demand tighter financial management

21/3/2011- The Equality and Human Rights Commission is expected to face a demand for "major surgery" when the Home Office publishes a consultation paper on its future. The commission, chaired by Trevor Phillips, survived October's "bonfire of the quangos" but ministers are expected to say on Tuesday they want its activities to be restricted to its core functions and the management of its finances to be sharply improved. It is expected to be stripped of responsibilities such as promoting social cohesion. The consultation is due to last only three months, with swift action to follow. The EHRC took over from the Commission for Racial Equality, the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Disability Rights Commission in 2007 to promote and enforce equality and anti-discrimination laws in England, Scotland and Wales.

Phillips told MPs this month that the commission had been considering "radical reform" over the past 12 months. The 630-strong staff has already been cut to 417 and is likely to be cut to between 200 and 250 over the next 18 months. Recent high-profile cases involving the commission, which have included successful legal action against the British National Party and support of legal action against the Christian owners of a Cornish guesthouse who refused to let a gay couple stay in a double room, have fuelled criticism among the Tory right. The commission's £53m budget for this financial year is already earmarked to fall to £45m for 2011/2012. The commission and the government's equalities office are due to share a much deeper cut by 2015.

The commission's helpline, its grant-making function and several of its offices are believed to be under threat. The civil service union PCS, which represents most of its staff, said ballot papers for industrial action were being sent out. Mark Serwotka, the PCS general secretary, said cuts on the scale being contemplated could mean employers and public authorities would no longer be held to account for discriminatory policies. He suggested the cuts could end the commission's legal work such as its support for Sharon Coleman, whose victory at the European court of justice ensured six million carers in Britain are protected against discrimination in employment. However, it is expected that the "strategic legal work" will remain an important part of the commission's future.

The commission said: "We plan to respond quickly to this consultation on our powers and duties so that other organisations are aware of our view of our future. It is too soon to comment until we have seen the proposals in detail. "The commission began its own review of its role and focus around 18 months ago, before the review of non-departmental bodies by the government. We are already talking to our staff and stakeholders about our vision for the commission's future and will continue to do so during this consultation and beyond." The commission saw a string of high-profile resignations from its board last year, including its finance director. Its 2008/09 accounts were qualified by the National Audit Office last July who said it had breached rules on pay rises for permanent staff and managed money badly.
© The Guardian

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GYPSIES EVICTED AFTER A YEAR LIVING IN A BUS (Spain)

21/3/2011- A family of Romanian gypsies living in a disused bus in Madrid have been evicted. According to the city council, the family comprised four adults and 10 children aged between one and 14 years. Among the adults was an 18-year-old who was pregnant with her third child. They are said to have been living in the bus for more than a year and in other disused vehicles in the same area, the Las Tablas district, for over five years. But volunteers from the Parish of Santo Domingo de la Calzada, in nearby Cañada Real, says the family are ‘very educated and polite’. They claim the children speak perfect Spanish and go to school in the area. It is not known whether the family has been re-housed.
© Think Spain

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DUTCH-GERMAN HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR PROMOTING BOYCOTT OF ISRAEL

23/3/2011- A Dutch-German Holocaust survivor has been promoting a boycott of Israel during a speaking tour that recently took him to South Africa. Hajo Meyer, 86, a survivor of Auschwitz, announced his support for a boycott at a dinner in Cape Town on March 20, according to Sowetan Live online. He found a receptive audience in, among others, former South African Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils and Western Cape high court Judge Siraj Desa. Born in Germany, Meyer escaped to Holland when he was 14, after the Nazis barred Jews from attending public schools. He was deported to Auschwitz after a year in hiding in Holland. Meyer's parents were
murdered in the Holocaust. Meyer now says that life for a Jew in occupied Holland was better than life for a Palestinian in the West Bank or Gaza today. He participated in the "Never Again -- For Anyone" tour that visited a dozen U.S. cities this winter. The Anti-Defamation League on its website called the tour "the latest effort by anti-Israel activists to exploit the sacred memory of the Holocaust for the purpose of painting its victim, the Jewish people, as the 'new oppressor in the form of Israel.' " According to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Germans and their Dutch collaborators deported 107,000 Jews to the death camps at Auschwitz and Sobibor in 1942-43; approximately 5,200 survived. Of the 25,000-30,000 Jews who went into hiding, two-thirds survived.
© JTA News

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BITS ABOUT WILDERS' PVV (Netherlands)

PVV UNLIKELY TO BE IN ANY PROVINCIAL EXECUTIVES BAR LIMBURG
25/3/2011- The anti-Islam PVV has little chance of being included in many of the 12 new provincial councils, according to an analysis by civil service news website Binnenlands Bestuur. The PVV came fourth in the provincial elections at the beginning of this month but is only likely to become part of the administration in Limburg, where it was the biggest party, the magazine says. The PVV took 20% of the vote in Limburg. It did worst in the far northern province of Groningen, with just 7.7%. Party leader Gert Wilders told the magazine he was disappointed the PVV is being shut out of so many negotiations. The process of forming provincial council executives is similar to that of forming a national government. An independent person is appointed as negotiator to assess the likelihood of various coalitions succeeding and then the parties get down to serious talks.

PVV 'TOTALLY OPPOSES' POLITICAL DONATION REGISTER PLAN
25/3/2011- The anti-Islam PVV is the only political party which opposes the government’s plans to make all parties go public with political donations of over €1,000, the Volkskrant reports on Frday. Foundations associated with political parties would also fall under the legislation, which may come into effect from January next year. Gifts of over €4,500 would be included in a public register while the names of people giving over €1,000 will be included in parties' annual reports. Parties which fail to comply will be fined up to €25,000. At the moment, parties have to declare donations of over €4,500 but the PVV is not an official party and has no members. Political parties get government cash depending on the size of their membership.

Foundations
The PVV does get government help to run its national parliament operation and raises donations through a foundation which will now be covered by the legislation. The PVV is thought to get much of its money from ultra-conservative, anti-Islam movements in the US and from Israel. Wilders has always refused to confirm or deny where the PVV gets its money from, but said in a text message on Thursday night he remained ‘totally against’ the disclosure plan. GroenLinks MP Tofik Dibi told the Volkskrant some PVV donors would be embarrassed to have their support for the party made public. The aim of the register is to improve transparency and remove any suspicion of vote-buying, he said.

PVV WILL HAVE TO DECLARE DONORS 
24/3/2011- Home affairs minister Piet Hein Donner said on Thursday he wants political parties declare the names of any donors giving more than €4,500 to their party. This will have particular consequences for the anti-Islam PVV, says the Telegraaf. Geert Wilders' party receives a lot of gifts from outside the country, particularly from the US. At the moment, these are given to a foundation, the friends of the PVV. Donner, however, wants a change in the law so these kind of foundations have to declare donations, says the paper. Wilders has always refused to name his donors. The Christian Democrats will also be hit if the law is changed. They, too, often use a foundation construction for their donations.

PVV PUBLISHES SENATE CANDIDATE LIST
24/3/2011- The anti-Islam PVV on Thursday published its list of candidates for the ten senate seats it is thought to have won during the provincial elections earlier this month. Most noticable among the candidates is the 63-year-old Ronald Sörensen at number five. Sörensen founded the Rotterdam party Leefbaar Rotterdam in 2002 where the controversial politician Pim Fortuyn joined him. In May of that year, Fortuyn, who was leading the national party into the elections, was murdered. Above Sörensen on the PVV list are Machiel de Graaf, Reinette Klever, Marcel de Graaff and Gom van Strien.
© The Dutch News

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BITS FROM THE NETHERLANDS

MUSLIM CDA MEMBERS WARN THAT MANY ARE LEAVING THE PARTY 
24/3/2011- The future of the Christian Democratic party is at risk if it does not take steps to stop Muslims and ethnic minority members quitting, a group of Muslim members say in an open letter in Thursday´s Volkskrant. In the letter, the party members say they feel they are seen first as Muslims and second as members of the CDA. 'This is undoubtably connected to the fact that we are in an alliance with a party that makes combating Islam a key issue,' the letter states. Geert Wilders´ anti-Islam PVV has agreed to support the minority CDA VVD government in return for tighter controls on non-western immigration.

Urban support
The influence of the PVV is damaging Muslims in and outside the party, the letter states. 'One sign of that is not a single Muslim won a seat in the provincial elections,' it continues. The letter warns that if increasing numbers of Muslims leave the party in the cities, its position in urban centres will become extremely weak. In the 1990s, the CDA embarked on an active policy of encouraging people from other religions to join, and this was particularly successful in the cities, the Volkskrant says. The party is currently in the middle of a campaign to elect a new chairman.

FIVE-MATCH SUSPENSION FOR ANTI-JEWISH CHANTING
23/3/2011- The football association KNVB want to suspend ADO Den Haag player Lex Immers for five matches, one suspended, for singing anti-Jewish songs after ADO beat Ajax last Sunday. Ajax players and supporters are nicknamed De Joden. Player Charlton Vincento and trainer John van den Brom face a one-match suspension for their role in the club house celebrations. A spokesman said the KNVB usually confined itself to punishing behaviour on the pitch. 'But given this is a very nasty case, we can act,' he said.
The Dutch News

SOME 400 'WESTERNISED' AFGHAN GIRLS MUST GO BACK, SAYS MINISTER
22/3/2011- There are probably some 400 girls living in the Netherlands who have to go back to Afghanistan, even though they have become totally ‘westernised’, immigration minister Gerd Leers told MPs in a briefing note on Tuesday. MPs had asked Leers to find out how many girls faced being sent back to the strict Islamic country following the case of 14-year-old school girl Sahar, who faces deportation even though she has lived in the Netherlands for 10 years. The minister is currently appealing against a court decision which said Sahar, who wants to become a surgeon, would be at risk if sent back to Afghanistan because of her westernised ways.

Appeals
Of those 400 girls, 100 are still in the appeal process and 300 have no right to stay in the Netherlands, Leers said. The figures are estimates, the minister said. In his note, Leers states that a large number of women and girls from Afghanistan have been given asylum in the Netherlands because of the ‘worrying situation’ for them in their home country. Up to now, 830 girls and 2600 adult women have been refused asylum here, the minister said. The appeal will be heard on March 30.
The Dutch News

DUTCH SOLDIERS IN UNIFORM AT GAY CANAL PARADE 2011
21/3/2011- The Dutch defence ministry will this year for the first time officially participate in Amsterdam's Gay Pride Canal Parade, the event's organisers have announced. Gay and lesbian members of the Dutch armed forces dressed in uniform, with the ministry's official 'blessing', will join the Saturday-afternoon parade - through some of the Dutch capital's world famous canals - on their own special boat. The plan is the result an initiative by an organisation that represents homosexuals in the armed forces. The parade will take place on 6 August as part of the Amsterdam Gay Pride weekend. The parade's organisers and the military gays organisation have both welcomed the news. They say officially sanctioned participation is a huge step forward in the social acceptance of gay and lesbian people in the armed forces. Two years ago, gay soldiers were not allowed to join the event. Last year they were granted permission to do so but only on a individual basis.

HARASSED DUTCH GAYS SUE AUTHORITIES
21/3/2011- Two gay men who were forced to move from the city of Utrecht after being harassed for more than a year have filed law suits against the Utrecht council, the local police force and the state. The couple says the authorities should have taken adequate action in response to the eight police reports they filed. Between the summer of 2009 and 2010, their car was vandalised and bricks were thrown through their windows. The two men eventually sold their house far below market price because the police said there was nothing they could do to stop the harassment. The couple wants the Utrecht court to order the Public Prosecutor to prosecute those responsible after all. The two men are also suing the police, the city council and the state for damages.
© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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NORWEGIAN LAWMAKER DENIES HOLOCAUST

21/3/2011- Members of a Norwegian lawmaker's own party have called for his resignation after he publicly denied the Holocaust. Labor Party lawmaker Anders Mathisen reportedly told the Finnmarken newspaper that the Holocaust never happened and challenged readers to prove him wrong. “There is no evidence the gas chambers or mass graves existed," he told the newspaper, according to reports. "Even reputable Holocaust historians have admitted it cannot be established.” Mathisen reportedly has spent months researching World War II concentration camps and is advocating changing history books, according to the Coordination Forum for Countering Anti-Semitism. He also published his reported his "findings" on his Facebook page. Mathisen reportedly has accused Holocaust survivors of exaggerating their stories. He also said that the public has been brainwashed into believing in the Holocaust by films such as "Schindler's List," according to the forum. The lawmaker has refused to resign from the party. "Holocaust survivors are aghast at the morally repugnant comments of a Norwegian member of Parliament," Elan Steinberg, vice president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, said in a statement. "They are an insult to the memory of all victims of Nazi brutality, Jew and non-Jew." Steinberg called for Mathisen's expulsion from political office and removal from the Labor Party. "It was not until the 1990s that Norway began to confront its collaboration with the deportation of Jews and the plunder of their property during the Nazi occupation," the statement concluded. "The manner in which they deal with MP Mathisen is a test of whether those historical lessons were learned."
© JTA News

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ITALY: ACT SWIFTLY TO END RACIST VIOLENCE

Authorities Should Acknowledge Problem, Ensure Prosecutions

21/3/2011- The Italian government is failing to take effective action to prevent and prosecute racist and xenophobic violence, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Immigrants, Italians of foreign descent, and Roma have been the victims of brutal attacks in Italy in recent years. The 71-page report, "Everyday Intolerance: Racist and Xenophobic Violence in Italy," documents the state's failure to take effective measures against hate crimes. Prosecutions for racially-motivated violence are rare, with Italian officials downplaying the extent of the problem and failing consistently to condemn attacks. Insufficient training of law enforcement and judiciary personnel and incomplete data collection compound the problem. At the same time, political rhetoric, government policies, and media coverage linking immigrants and Roma to crime have fueled an environment of intolerance.

"The government spends far more energy blaming migrants and Roma for Italy's problems than it does on efforts to stop violent attacks on them," said Judith Sunderland, senior Western Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch. "The government's alarmist talk of an invasion of ‘biblical proportions' from North Africa is just the latest example of irresponsible rhetoric. Officials should be protecting migrants and Roma from attack." Cities across Italy have seen mob violence and individual attacks targeting migrants, Roma, and Italians of foreign descent. Mobs rampaged through Roma camps in Naples in May 2008 and assaulted African seasonal migrant workers in Rosarno, Calabria, in January 2010. A group of at least 15 people attacked a Bengali bar in Rome in March 2010.

Authorities recorded 142 hate crimes in the first nine months of 2009, but one Italian anti-racism organization registered 398 media reports of such crimes in roughly the same period, with 186 physical assaults (18 of which led to death). Individual attacks include the September 2008 murder of Abdoul Guiebre, an Italian of Burkina Faso origin bludgeoned to death on the street in Milan after a petty theft from a café; the brutal beating of a Chinese man in October 2008 as he waited for a bus in Rome; and the February 2009 attack on an Indian man in a town outside Rome, in which he was beaten, doused with gasoline, and set on fire.

Human Rights Watch also documented troubling cases of law enforcement abuse against Roma, during camp evictions and in the custody of police or Carabinieri (a Defense Ministry force that shares responsibility for civilian policing in Italy). Italian law provides for increased prison sentences for crimes aggravated by racial motivation, but the statute has yet to live up to its promise, Human Rights Watch said. The 1993 statute has often been interpreted by prosecutors and the courts only to apply to cases where racial hatred was the sole motivation, leaving serious racist crimes prosecuted as though they were ordinary offences. The state prosecuted Abdoul Guiebre's murder as an ordinary crime, for example, despite the racist insults uttered by the perpetrators during the attack. Crimes motivated by hatred over sexual orientation and gender identity are not covered at all.

The extreme violence against African seasonal migrant workers in Rosarno, Calabria, in January 2010, including drive-by shootings and three days of mob violence that left at least 11 migrants hospitalized with serious injuries, did not lead to prosecutions and convictions for racially-motivated crimes. Only three Italians were prosecuted and convicted in connection with the violence. Local residents and law enforcement officers also suffered injuries, some of them caused by migrants during riots against the mob attacks. Italian officials minimized the racist dimension of the violence in Rosarno, in keeping with a general tendency to call racially-motivated crimes rare. The Italian government does not collect or publish disaggregated statistics on crime reports or prosecutions. Authorities point to the low numbers of official complaints and prosecutions for racially motivated violence to argue that such violence is rare, ignoring underreporting and the failure of the authorities to correctly identify it.

"The Italian government likes to pretend that racist violence hardly ever happens," said Sunderland. "But if you are an Italian from an ethnic minority, Roma, or a migrant, the truth is it's all too common. Acknowledging the scale of the problem is a necessary condition for tackling it." A consequence of the authorities' failure to recognize these hate crimes as a significant problem is that law enforcement personnel and prosecutors do not receive systematic, specialized training in identifying, investigating, and prosecuting racist violence. Roma, the most vilified minority in Italy today, are especially at risk of harassment and mistreatment during camp evictions and in police or Carabinieri custody, Human Rights Watch said. With serious allegations of abuse by law enforcement personnel left uninvestigated, and virtual impunity for mob violence against Roma camps, many Roma have little or no faith in public institutions. "Many people, especially undocumented migrants and Roma, are just too scared to go the police," Sunderland said. "The government has to do much more to encourage reporting and build trust among these particularly vulnerable communities."

Political discourse and media coverage linking immigrants and Roma to crime has fueled a dangerous environment of intolerance in a country that has seen a dramatic increase in immigration over the past 10 years. Since 2008, the government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, in coalition with the openly anti-immigrant Northern League party, has adopted "emergency" decrees to pave the way for strong-handed measures against undocumented migrants and Roma, and passed a law making undocumented entry and stay in Italy a crime punishable by a hefty fine. Elected officials across the political spectrum have engaged in anti-immigrant and anti-Roma rhetoric.

This Human Rights Watch report contains concrete recommendations to the Italian government to strengthen its response to racist violence, including:
* Consistently and forcefully condemning, at the highest level, racist and xenophobic violence.
* Reforming criminal law to ensure that hate motivation can be applied even when perpetrators have mixed motives, and expanding the list of protected characteristics to include, at a minimum, sexual orientation and gender identity.
* Ensuring obligatory training for law enforcement personnel and public prosecutors on detecting, investigating, and prosecuting crimes motivated wholly or in part by racial, ethnic, or xenophobic bias.
* Collecting and routinely publishing comprehensive statistics on hate crimes.
© Human Rights Watch

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LAMPEDUSA MIGRANT NUMBERS PROMPT UN CRISIS WARNING (Italy)

Thousands sleep outdoors on the island, where Italy says nearly 15,000 people have arrived since the start of the year

21/3/2011- The number of refugees from north Africa arriving on the tiny island of Lampedusa has reached 15,000, the Italian government has said, prompting a UN warning over a humanitarian crisis on the island. The UN refugee agency said thousands were sleeping outdoors "without any protection from the rain in increasingly critical hygienic conditions" because the immigrant holding centre on the island has capacity for just 850. Italy's interior minister, Roberto Maroni, said nearly 15,000 immigrants, most of them Tunisian, had arrived on the island since the start of the year; just 25 Tunisians had arrived in 2010. "We ask all the countries of the European Union to take their fair share of the burden," Maroni said. Italy has warned that it faces a surge in immigration after the upheaval in north Africa. There are acute concerns that the fighting in Libya will spark a fresh exodus. Tens of thousands of people have fled to neighbouring Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria and Niger since the start of the unrest in February. In Lampedusa, the authorities have moved to shuttle people into immigration processing centres elsewhere in Italy. But these have rapidly filled, and the backlog is now palpable on the island.

"It is a never-ending flood," Edoardo Faiella, a spokesman for the local customs police, told Reuters. "We're getting 12 to 13 boats arriving every day, on average, with 80-100 people on board each time, and there is growing tension with the inhabitants of Lampedusa." Many of those arriving, mostly young men unable to find work at home and risking the often perilous crossing in search of jobs in Europe, have been moved to other parts of Italy. Italy has been sending back the vast majority of the 14,918 Tunisians and Egyptians who have arrived at its borders in recent weeks after popular revolts in their home countries, saying they fail to qualify for asylum or refugee status as there are no wars or humanitarian crises in their countries. The anti-immigrant Northern League, a key government partner that has been at the forefront of demands that the country's European partners take in some of the Lampedusa immigrants, submitted a proposal to parliament on Monday demanding the European Union take responsibility. Last week the European commission president, José Manuel Barroso, met the Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, and said Italy could count on the commission's "political and financial solidarity".
© The Guardian

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TUNISIAN MIGRANTS SPARK PROTESTS ON ITALIAN ISLAND

21/3/2011- With hundreds of Tunisian migrants arriving every day by boat, the inhabitants of the overcrowded island of Lampedusa over the weekend have staged daily protests in the port, calling on the Italian government to step up the pace of transfers to the mainland. "We are not against the migrants, not at all. It's the government in Rome, [Prime Minister] Berlusconi, who is to blame for this situation, it's absolutely unacceptable," said one resident, gesticulating in anger. Some migrants joined the few dozen inhabitants protesting on Sunday in the port of Lampedusa, shouting "We don't want to be sent back" and "death to the dictator [Ben Ali]." It was the third consecutive day of demonstrations. But this time it was against gendarmes and riot police who were blocking access to the docks where hundreds of stranded Tunisians were being given first aid and aluminium foil to wrap around their shivering bodies. "We can't take them to the reception centre," says one aid worker, "there is no more room for them there." With its capacity already at its limit with 850 migrants, the reception centre on the island can no longer cope with the fresh arrivals. The total number of immigrants on the island stands at about 4,000.

On Friday, the locals protested on the dock itself, preventing the coast guard from coming on land with more rescued migrants. A piece of EU territory just 113 km off the Tunisian coast, Lampedusa is usually home to some 6,000 inhabitants, mostly engaged in the tourism and fishery industries. According to captain Vittorio Alessandro, spokesman for the coast guard, two more boats arrived by Sunday around with over 300 migrants between them. "It is possible that there are more boats on their way," he added. A military vessel, promised by the Italian navy to help out with the transfers to the mainland, "had not yet been sighted," he said. The surge may not yet be as large as the one in February, immediately after the ousting of Tunisian dictator Ben Ali, but the inhabitants are becoming more tense as it gets closer to the start of the tourist season on which the economy of the island depends. The mayor of Lampedusa, Bernardino De Rubeis, joined the protests on Sunday, claiming "victory" for not allowing tents and other temporary arrangements to be set up on the island - something that he says could keep tourists away.

"Italy should be ashamed today," he said, for allowing the migrants to be "treated like animals, urinating in the streets, sleeping under the open sky, in the rain." "Where is the humanity we are talking about?" he shouted in the loud speakers, blaming Berlusconi and other politicians for dragging their feet. For the mainland, he argued, a couple of thousand of migrants "is nothing", unlike for the island, where there is no source of fresh water and the sanitary conditions are worsening by the day.

'Unwelcoming'
Migrants in the port had mixed feelings about what was going to happen next. "I didn't think Europe would be so unwelcoming. I will not stay in Italy, once on the mainland, I will leave in 24 hours," says a young Tunisian who arrived on Friday after a 16-hour trip on a boat full with 125 other people. Using Ali instead of his real name, the Tunisian said he paid €1,000 for the trip and left because "there is no liberty, no democracy – it's still Ben Ali's old guard ruling the country." A car mechanic, Ali is eyeing "Germany, France or Belgium", where he hopes to find an employer to "give him a contract and solve his paperwork." "If you have a clear idea of what you want, you can get the papers in order," he said.

EU mission in the back seat
A spokeswoman for the Warsaw-based EU border agency, Frontex, meanwhile told this website that the Italian authorities have not yet asked for help in transferring the migrants from Lampedusa to Sicily, for instance by extending the existing "Hermes" operation set up in February to assist them with the Tunisian situation. Out of the 20 debriefing experts sent by member states, none of them is based in Lampedusa. Romain Prevot, a French border official now based in Trapani, northern Sicily, told EUobserver that "initially we were supposed to be in Lampedusa," but then "for security reasons," the Italian government decided to deploy them to Sicily and the mainland.

In Trapani, the reception centre, capable of hosting 300 people, is not overcrowded like the one in Lampedusa. On Saturday, there were 230 migrants, almost all Tunisians transferred by plane or ferry from Lampedusa where they first arrived. "We have 20-30 newcomers every day , but then 20 others just leave the place and take their chance as illegals," Prevot said. "Most probably they go to France. They have relatives there. They speak the language. At the moment, the only way to repatriate them is on a voluntary basis, because there are no re-admission agreements in force with Tunisia," he explained. As for refugees from the Libyan war, "We are expecting them, but none has arrived yet," Prevot said.

His remarks were confirmed by Libyan authorities on Sunday, as the local state television quoted one security official saying: "Libya has decided not to be responsible over the illegal immigration to Europe." The European Commission last year had offered Libya up to €50 million to improve border control and protect refugees.
© The EUobserver

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ANTI-RACISM DEMONSTRATORS CALL FOR PROTECTION OF ROMA (Hungary)

22/3/2011- About 150 demonstrators gathered in downtown Budapest in two separate events to demand government action to stop anti-Roma and neo-Nazi manifestations and protect the Roma minority on Monday evening, marking the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Speakers at the rally organised by two Roma rights group and the Wesley Janos College in front of the Parliament called on the government to prevent racist ideologies from spreading and gaining ground in politics. They press for all democratic forces to join hands and fight against the far right by peaceful means. Chief organiser Emese Ildiko Nagy said the "state must act against racism and protect its citizens against paramilitary organisations," alluding to recent patrols by a civil organisation in Gyongyospata, a small village in northern Hungary. A civil group calling itself the Civil Guard Association for a Better Future has been patrolling the village since early March citing an increase in crime among the local Roma.

On March 6 the radical nationalist Jobbik party staged a demonstration in the village, saying that crime had increased in the area. Jobbik leader Gabor Vona insisted that the protest was not "anti-Gypsy" but "pro-Hungarian". Deputy Jobbik leader Tamas Sneider said his party was against crime in general, but "ethnic crime" was especially unacceptable. Emese Ildiko Nagy said the Monday demonstration had been organised also in protest against the police that "were doing nothing against the unlawful acts at Gyongyospata for weeks." Janos Farkas, the town's Roma leader said members of the Civil Guard had in the past 16 days been vexing the 430 local Roma residents who "will seek asylum in other EU member states" unless action is taken for their protection.

The demonstrators later joined the candle-light commemoration Amnesty International staged at the Interior Ministry nearby. Amnesty, the European Roma Right Centre and the New York-based Human Rights First sent a letter to the government, urging Hungarian authorities to intervene and protect the Roma residents of Gyongyospata, Amnesty Hungary leader Orsolya Jeney said.
© Politics Hungary

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MURDERS OF ROMA PEOPLE WERE PLANNED (Hungary)

25/3/2011- The perpetrators of attacks on the homes of Roma people in Hungary in recent years, during which at least six people perished, were planned "with military precision." At the first hearing today in a Budapest court, dozens of prominent persons were present in the courtroom, including politicians, representatives of the Roma community, and relatives of the victims. Three persons are charged with the murders, while a fourth is charged with committing lesser, related crimes. The prosecutor took several hours to read out the charges today. The trial will continue next week and should last until 13 July. The verdict will evidently be handed down sometime next year.

Six people perished in the series of attacks committed against Roma in their homes in 2008 and 2009. Four alleged members of a gang of gunmen were arrested in August 2009 at a pub in Debrecín. The group, which is allegedly ideologically close to the neo-Nazi scene, is charged by the prosecution with having formed in 2007, when its four future members - Árpád K., István K., Zsolt P. a István Cs. - agreed the state was doing nothing to suppress "Gypsy crime" and that they therefore should take the issue into their own hands. The men - a bouncer, a former KFOR soldier, a pastry cook, and a sound engineer - are alleged to have bonded over their fanatical hatred of Roma. Their situation is analogous to that of the Vítkov arsonists in the Czech Republic.

From July 2008 until August 2009, the men allegedly committed almost 20 attacks in nine small towns and villages in central and eastern Hungary during which six people perished, including a five-year-old child, and in which five other people, including yet another child, suffered serious injuries. They are charged with shooting a total of 78 bullets at Roma people and their homes, throwing Molotov cocktails into at least seven homes, and menacing a total of 55 people. One of those arrested has refused to testify. The other three have testified, but deny their guilt. "They now face sentences between 15 years and life in prison, depending on their degree of culpability. The case greatly exacerbated the atmosphere at the time, Roma people even prepared to emigrate en masse," said Attila Petöfi of the Hungarian National Bureau of Investigation.

"This sick killing has ended. For two years, the Roma in Hungary could not live in peace, for two years they could not sleep at night because they were afraid for their children's lives," said Orbán Kolompár, chair of a Roma Minority Self-Government body. The trial should last 34 days. More than 160 witnesses will testify. After the first round of hearings, the court will evaluate the evidence and then confer on sentencing. Incitement to racial hatred is a crime under Hungarian law. The number of persons so charged and the number of verdicts handed down in cases of racially motivated attacks, however, are lower than the number of reports of such attacks made to non-governmental organizations. The Hungarian Police say that in 2008 there were 12 racially motivated attacks on the Roma community, followed by six attacks in 2009. Non-government organizations recorded 18 racially motivated attacks in 2008 and 25 in 2009.

This discrepancy occurs because the victims of hate crimes do not always report them to the authorities out of fear. Police and prosecutors also decide not to evaluate some crimes as racially motivated. Many victims interviewed by representatives of Amnesty International have been traumatized by the attacks and do not know where to seek support. "The Hungarian authorities are obligated to prevent discrimination and to ensure justice for the victims of hate crime," Czech Television reports Nicola Duckworth of Amnesty International as saying.
© Romea

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"TRIAL OF THE DECADE" TO START IN BUDAPEST OF MEN CHARGED WITH MURDERS OF ROMA PEOPLE (Hungary)

State prosecutor rejects racial motivation, says series of murders prompted by base motives

22/3/2011- This week sees the start of the trial in Budapest Regional Court of the men accused of murdering six Roma individuals, some of them children, of attempting the murders of other Roma people in various parts of Hungary, and of injuring dozens of people between 2008 and 2009. The perpetrators selected the residences of Roma people located on the outskirts of towns or villages as their targets in order to have access to easy getaway routes. According to international organizations, however, the number of homicidal attacks against Roma people in Hungary is far greater than the number being brought to trial and the majority of them remain unsolved to this day. The investigation of this series of homicidal attacks in Hungary was accompanied by indifference and numerous mistakes by the police organs, mistakes similar to those which occurred during the investigation of arson attacks committed against Roma families in the Silesian region of the Czech Republic from 2007 to 2009. It often took a long time for the police to inform the public about the cases. Police sometimes clouded the issue by claiming that the probable motivation for the murders was revenge by loan sharks for non-payment of loans. For entire months, police rejected the thesis that these murders could be a series of racist attacks being committed by one and the same group of perpetrators, even though the individual attacks were very similar to one another.

In the case of the most brutal attack, an ambulance without a doctor on board arrived as late as one hour after the crime was committed, by which time only one of the gunshot victims was still alive. Responders did not succeed in saving his life. Local police assumed the fire at the dwelling involved had been caused by an electrical short even though bullet casings were found on the scene. Criminal investigators did not start working on the case until 10 hours after the crime was committed. The two police officers responsible were disciplined for this failure - of course, only after sustained public pressure. When the police, after one year of investigation, had turned up no leads, they gradually increased the amount of the reward being promised to the citizenry for providing information about the perpetrators. This reward finally reached the unheard-of figure of EUR 380 000 (and no, that's not a typo). This breathtaking amount of money testifies to the degree of pressure placed on the police by the Hungarian government. That pressure was mainly caused by sharp criticism from the international community of the Hungarian authorities' inability to halt this series of violent homicides. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation even sent several "profilers" to Hungary to assist in compiling profiles of the perpetrators.

On 21 August 2009, the Hungarian NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) arrested four men in the town of Debrecín and charged them with perpetrating a series of organized homicidal attacks. At the end of June 2010, the authorities announced their investigation was complete and filed a motion for the suspects to be charged with multiple counts of murder, robbery, misuse of firearms and vandalism. For three of the suspects, detectives managed to prove their participation in various attacks with the help of DNA analyses and scrutiny of their confiscated weapons; the fourth is charged with assisting the others in performing some of the attacks. In September 2010, the regional state prosecutor in Pest filed suit charging the three men with committing multiple counts of murder in the cases of six people, some of whom were children, as well as attempted murder; the fourth suspect is charged with abetting the premeditated homicides. The suit charges that the crimes were carried out "for base motives" and does not mention racial motivation. The human rights organization Amnesty International (AI) has protested this qualification and is demanding a review of the alleged perpetrators' motivation. Miklós Kárpáti, the legal representative of the victims of one of the attacks, has said: "I understand that it can be complicated to prove racial motivation for crimes when those charged reject such motivation or change their claims. However, such motivation should never be excluded as a possibility during the first phase of investigation."

Media reports say some of the defendants were connected to the Hungarian secret service, while others had been active on the neo-Nazi scene in the past. The trial will begin under strict security conditions on Friday, 25 March 2011. During the 34 days of the trial, between 25 March and 13 July 2011, a total of 165 witnesses and 30 experts will give testimony. According to the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), more attacks in Hungary from the 2007-2009 period remain unsolved. The attacks on Roma families claimed a total of nine lives, including two children. Dozens of people were injured, 10 of them so seriously that their lives were endangered. In at least 12 cases, Molotov cocktails were used, while hand grenades were used in two. Weapons were fired in at least 12 of the cases. The property of Roma people was also devastated in at least nine instances. AI is demanding the Hungarian government investigate all of these attacks. It is also demanding that, should the evidence warrant it, the charges in these cases be expanded to include other crimes committed and the number of defendants be increased as well.

What the suspects are charged with - the facts of the cases
Three men have been charged with committing nine attacks. A fourth is charged with participating in some of them. AI has reported the following information:

# Shortly after midnight on 21 July 2008, several shots were fired into homes occupied by Roma people in the village of Galgagyörk. Luckily, no one was injured. During the investigation, police considered the motivation to have been either racial or a case of violence inside the Roma community. A few weeks prior to the attack, clashes had occurred between the Hungarian Guard and the Roma community in the village.

# On 8 August 2008, Molotov cocktails were thrown into two homes occupied by Roma people on the outskirts of the village of Piricse. The perpetrators then started shooting at the residents. One person suffered life-threatening injuries.

# Two more attacks followed during which no one was injured: One attack, committed on 5 September 2008, was committed in Nyíradon and featured shots fired at the home of a Roma family. The other attack was committed at the end of the month in the village of Tarnabod and featured Molotov cocktails being thrown at five Roma homes prior to shots being fired.

# During the early morning hours of 3 November 2008, a Molotov cocktail was thrown into the home of a Roma family in the village of Nagycsécs. Two people were shot as they tried to flee their burning home.

# On 15 December 2008, a Roma man suffered serious injuries after being shot in the village of Alsózsolca. His common-law wife also suffered light injuries as a result of the attack.

# A Roma man and his four-year-old son were shot on 23 February 2009 on the outskirts of the town of Tatárszentgyörgy while trying to flee their home, which had been set alight by Molotov cocktails. The original police investigation of this case labeled the incident an accident. An autopsy then confirmed that the victims had died as a result of gunshot wounds.

# A 54-year-old Roma man was shot on 22 April 2009 in the village of Tiszalök while leaving his home to go work the night shift at his job. The Hungarian Prime Minister labeled this crime a "disgraceful, evil, reprehensible assassination."

# The ninth attack of this series took place in the village of Kisléta on 2 August 2009. A Roma widow was murdered and her 13-year-old daughter was seriously injured. Government officials condemned the attack. The Hungarian Prime Minister said: "This inhuman crime targeted Roma people, but the murderers have really attacked the entire nation."
© Romea

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US AMBASSADOR CONDEMNS JOBBIK MP'S CALL FOR "HUNGARIAN KU KLUX KLAN" (Hungary)

23/3/2011- The United States commends the Hungarian government's commitment to protect all citizens irrespective of their race or social heritage and condemns a call, attributed to a far-right politician in the press, for the emergence of a "Hungarian Ku Klux Klan", a statement by the US Ambassador to Hungary said on Tuesday. "The comments attributed by press reports to a far right politician on March 21 calling for the emergence of a Hungarian Ku Klux Klan are despicable and represent the worst kind of incitement of racial intolerance and hatred," the statement said.

Magyar Nemzet daily on Tuesday quoted Gyorgy Gyula Zagyva, a lawmaker for the radical nationalist Jobbik party, as saying: "Just as there was a time in the United States for the Ku Klux Klan, the time has come for the emergence of a Hungarian Ku Klux Klan." Ambassador Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis said in the statement that both American and Hungarian societies were based on common values of free speech and freedom of expression. "There is no place in civic political discourse for groups that foster a climate of fear and violence. In recent meetings with government officials, I have heard assurances that the government will not tolerate violence against its citizens or a climate of intimidation, and will take appropriate action to ensure that citizens' rights are protected." "We stand together with Hungary ready to counter hatred wherever it should appear – either here or in the United States," the statement said.
© Politics Hungary

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ROMA IN HUNGARIAN VILLAGE TERRORIZED BY RACIST "NATIONAL GUARDS"

21/3/2011- They march through the village every morning in heavy boots, tight pants, black vests and white shirts. It's not a carnival parade, but a patrol by the nationalist and racist Hungarian National Guard, which has its own vision of what "order" is. This past week the Guard wanted to introduce "national order" in the North Hungarian village of Gyöngyöspata, where they are making life very unpleasant for local Roma. "In Parliament they told me I'm a disaster tourist," says Gábor Vóna, chair of the opposition Party for a Better Hungary (Jobbik), which is radical, devious, and very far-right. On 15 March the party made the decision in Budapest for the Guard to target the village of Gyöngyöspata. "I don't deny that I was there with them. I both saw and heard a catastrophic situation," Vóna says.

The first person this reporter encountered in Gyöngyöspata was Piroska, an approximately 35-year-old woman standing by a house in the center of the Roma quarter. The Roma minority in this village lives in a separate section, in homes that are a bit more shoddy than the houses where the Hungarian majority lives, but there is neither chaos nor squalor there. Conditions overall are fairly orderly, at least as far as the houses and yards are concerned. Piroska tells me that "THEY" march here every morning, singing their songs, and that at night "THEY" shine floodlights into her windows. This happens even though her family is considered one of the most proper in the village.

Who are "THEY"? They usually wear boots, and some are in camouflage, but the majority are in those black pants, white shirts and a black vest with "For a more beautiful future" inscribed across the back of the uniform. That is the name of their club for "protecting citizens", but in reality they are just ordinary fascist Guards, who have come here to terrorize the Roma population. The leader of one such group, Tamás Eszes, claims they just wanted to see for themselves what was going on in the village, because they were receiving complaints that the Roma were stealing in large numbers and are impossible to live with. He and his people should have left town by now, but the Hungarian population allegedly demanded they stay. He claims the non-Roma people were glad some soldiers finally showed up.

When I ask Piroska what the local Hungarians think of the Guard, she says her fellow citizens are of two kinds: Those who are glad the Guard is there, and those who have had enough of them. Whether people are going to the store, to the doctor, or waiting for the bus, wherever they go, the "Guardists" are there in large numbers. "I am not exaggerating: This is a state of apartheid," insists Aladár Horváth, the outraged head of a well-known Hungarian civic association for Roma rights and freedoms. He is surrounded by about 500 people, half of whom are members of various civic associations from Budapest, the other half of whom are local Roma people.

The aim of the gathering is to draw attention to the license being taking by the Guards and to the fact that the police - the only authority with the right to use force when crimes are being committed - is taking no action. To be more precise, the police are active when it is necessary to prosecute Roma people, let's say, for theft - then, they take action - but when an illegal squad of racists has been marching through a village for two weeks, the police do nothing. The owner of the local bed-and-breakfast, Magdolna Bernáth, invites the activists from the capital to spend a year - or at least three days a week - in the village. If they come for just an hour or two, she says, they will not get a trustworthy image of the real situation in the village of Gyöngyöspata. When asked what the solution is, she has a simple answer: Everyone must work.

If you want to eat, you must make money - that is the local businesswoman's recipe. She doesn't say the "Gypsies" don't want to work, she just says there is a lot of fertile land in the village that would produce for anyone for free, but it continues to lie fallow. The Roma children in the village, however, are enthusiastically reciting the most revolutionary work of Hungarian poet Sándor Petőfi, because at this time of year the whole country marks the anniversary of the 1848 revolution. Everyone in Hungary knows these lines, even Roma children: "God of Hungarians, we swear unto Thee, We swear unto Thee - that slaves we shall no longer be!"
© Romea

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CZECH CITY OF BRNO READIES FOR PROTESTS AGAINST ULTRA-RIGHT EXTREMISTS

25/3/2011- The Initiative "We Don't Want Neo-Nazis in Brno" is sending a message to the organizers of the Workers' Youth march through Brno on 1 May that the holiday should be a time for love, not a time for hatred and neo-Nazis. The Initiative was founded one week ago along the lines of similar efforts in the Czech towns of Přerov, Ústí nad Labem and Plzeň. Dozens of organizations and people are supporting the Initiative through Facebook and the internet. The Workers' Youth (Dělnická mládež - DM) is an offshoot of the (neo)Nazi Workers' Party (Dělnická strana - DS), which was recently ordered dissolved by the court. "The neo-Nazis march through Brno every year and whoever stands up to them is usually labeled an anarchist or left-wing extremist. That's not us," explains Václav Pecl, spokesperson for the Initiative, which is being backed or supported by NGOs such as IQ Roma Service, the Museum of Roma Culture, the Jewish Community of Brno and the ROMEA association. Support has also been expressed by the chair of the Green Party, Ondřej Liška, and sociologist Jiřina Šiklová.

The aim of the "We Don't Want Neo-Nazis in Brno" Initiative is to make it clear that even though the authorities have permitted the DM to march through Brno, the public does not like the racist and xenophobic sentiments of these extremists. According to the information available so far, the Initiative will not cross paths with the route of the extremist march, but will bring dozens of Initiative sympathizers to the "Bronx" of Brno. "We are based on non-violence and we are not organizing a clash with the neo-Nazis, but we will not prevent anyone from standing up to them," Pecl said. One option is currently under discussion according to which a "happening" with concerts and theater performances would be held not far from the Museum of Roma Culture featuring representatives from other places in the country that have had experience with neo-Nazi marches. "We want to support the excluded community living in Brno's 'Bronx' from within, to bring together those who disagree with the neo-Nazi marches against the Roma directly in Cejl, Bratislavska or Francouzska street," Pecl said.

Representatives of the Initiative have reached out to city councilors and the mayor, who have received invitations to the "happening". "We are not convening a blockade of the march, we just want to show that there are enough people among the public in Brno who disagree with racist and xenophobic tendencies," Pecl said. The website of the Initiative (Czech only)
© Romea

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CZECH POLICE MAY HANDLE NEO-NAZI MARCH IN BRNO DIFFERENTLY THAN NOVÝ BYDŽOV

19/3/2011- Yesterday Police President Petr Lessy told the Czech Press Agency that police are preparing massive security measures in relation to the announced 1 May meeting of the Workers' Youth (Dělnická mládež - DM) in Brno. Lessy emphasized that officers would be brought in to ensure order not only from South Moravia, but also from other regions. The police president claims he intends to proceed so that the extremists understand that "things will not be rosy for them" in Brno. Lessy's claim comes less than a week after police cleared the way for neo-Nazis who were breaking the law to march through Nový Bydžov after using mounted officers to brutally disperse counter-demonstrators. The police leadership is said to be displeased that the radicals have been regularly organizing 1 May events in the city rather frequently. "We do not want Brno to become a war zone, but we will not tolerate displays of substandard behavior," said Tomáš Kužel, the South Moravian Regional Police chief.

The DM is connected to the Workers' Social Justice Party (Dělnická strana sociální spravedlnosti - DSSS), whose predecessor was the recently dissolved Workers' Party (Dělnická strana - DS). The Supreme Administrative Court ended the DS activity because of its members' radical approaches. Two years ago, the DS convened a 1 May demonstration in Brno. The court subsequently handed down suspended sentences and fines to their entire leadership for the radical statements made by its members at that event. The DM has announced two events for 1 May of this year in the center of Brno. Local authorities did not grant permission for either of them. Court disputes over those events ended in a cassation complaint to the Supreme Administrative Court, which recently overturned the municipal decision that one of the events could not be held.

According to many nonprofit organizations, police totally failed during the most recent extremist event in Nový Bydžov. They did not manage to protect local Roma people and dispersed a peaceful counter-demonstration in a brutal way. Organizations such as the Czech Helsinki Committee and ROMEA say police took no action while extremists violated the law.
© CTK

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YOUNG PEOPLE ARE DRAWN TO FAR-RIGHT PARTY IN EASTERN GERMANY

Many people issued a big sigh of relief when the extreme right-wing NPD party failed to get any seats in the Saxony-Anhalt state parliament elections. But although not successful overall, it won a high youth vote.

23/3/2011- The far-right National-Democratic Party of Germany, or NPD, didn't win any seats in Sunday's state elections in Saxony-Anhalt, but it was particularly popular with young people. Although the party, which has aroused criticism for its links with racially motivated violence, only earned 4.6 percent of the overall vote, polls show that 15 percent of men under 30 cast their ballots for the party. The fact that the NPD didn't manage the 5 percent hurdle to enter parliament, says Professor Hajo Funke, an expert on social and political issues who has written extensively about Germany's far right, does not mean that it has no influence in the state. It represents a culture of youth violence and aggression towards foreigners that is very present in society. "The number of violent attacks in Saxony-Anhalt increased again in 2010," he said. "This culture of violence is a racist culture; it hasn't been properly dealt with and is still relatively strong." In 2010, 42 percent of all attacks in Saxony-Anhalt were racially motivated, compared to 24 percent the previous year, according to an advice centre for victims of right-wing violence.

Fringe party
There have been attempts to ban the NPD, such as in a case brought by the German government to the Constitutional Court in 2001. But these attempts have failed. The NPD is considered a fringe party, shunned by mainstream society. The party has no representatives at federal level, but has seats in two of Germany’s state parliaments. The NPD didn’t stand in the 2006 Saxony-Anhalt state elections, but this year over 45,000 people voted for them. The party was more popular in rural areas, such as in Laucha, a town of 3,200 people, where its candidate, a chimneysweep with a Hitler moustache, polled nearly 19 percent of the votes. In cities like Magdeburg and Halle, it only won around 3 percent. Funke says that cities are more multicultural and better at fighting right-wing movements; it's in rural parts of eastern Germany that the far-right, aggressive, racist culture of violence often dominates. "The people who try to tackle this are in the minority or are even forced to leave," he said. "That's something that's exceptionally dangerous for a democratic society." Michael Grunzel, spokesperson for the NPD in Saxony-Anhalt, rejects the notion that his party encourages violence. Indeed, he says, several NPD members were themselves physically attacked during the election campaign. "Violence is not something that NPD members have promoted," Grunzel said. "It is carried out by people of all political tendencies and is now a part of daily life."

Putting German nationals first
The NPD makes no secret of its skepticism as to Germany's approach to immigration. The party proposes to abolish the right to political asylum, and to put foreigners working in Germany into a separate social security system. "We [in the NPD] put our own nationals first," Grunzel said, claiming that this didn't make his party racist. One of the key issues in the NPD's campaign in Saxony-Anhalt was the government's intention to open its labor market to EU citizens from central and eastern Europe in May. "This will mean that the job market in Saxony-Anhalt will be overrun with cheap labor from eastern Europe," Grunzel said. Saxony-Anhalt, with a jobless rate of 11 percent, has the highest unemployment and the lowest wages in Germany. Grunzel attributes the NPD's popularity among young people to social factors and the feeling that German nationals are being sidelined. "We assume that many young people whose families and jobs are rooted here are starting to think about their long-term future and that of their children," he said. "And people realize that it can't continue as it is in Saxony-Anhalt." Analysts speculate that the high electoral turnout of over 51 percent contributed to keeping the NPD out of the state parliament. Funke thinks that, in addition, other political issues became more important to the voters. In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan, for example, the Greens won support and were able to double their share of the vote. The fact that the NPD's top candidate, Matthias Heyder, was accused of putting Adolf Hitler's book, Mein Kampf, on the Internet also may have driven votes away from the party. "Every defeat is an emotional defeat for such a party," Funke said. "That doesn't mean that they can't carry on." Grunzel admits that party members are demotivated and disappointed, but said that achieving 4.6 percent of the vote was not a bad result. "We will carry on. We'll take each election as it comes," Grunzel said.
© The Deutsche Welle

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PROSECUTORS SEEK SIX-YEAR SENTENCE FOR ALLEGED NAZI DEATH CAMP GUARD (Germany)

Prosecutors are seeking a six-year sentence for John Demjanjuk's alleged role in the killings of thousands of Jews at the Sobibor death camp. This is expected to be one of Germany's last war crimes trial.

22/3/2011- German prosecutors have called for a six-year sentence for John Demjanjuk for his alleged role in the killings of thousands of Jews at the Sobibor death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. In his closing arguments, State Prosecutor Hans-Joachim Lutz said there was "no reasonable doubt" about Demjanjuk's involvement in the crimes committed at the Sobibor camp between March and September 1943. "Anyone with as much guilt as this must be punished - even at such an advanced age and even 60 years after the crime was committed," Lutz told a Munich court. Prosecutors could have asked for a sentence of up to 15 years for Demjanjuk, 90, who was deported from the United States to face trial in Germany in 2009. Lutz said that one reason he asked for a shorter sentence was the time Demjanjuk had already served time behind bars in Israel. An Israeli court sentenced Demjanjuk to death in 1988 after he was convicted of war crimes as "Ivan the Terrible," a guard at the Treblinka camp, where 870,000 people died. That sentence was overturned in 1993 after Israel's supreme court found that they likely had the wrong man. Demjanjuk, who was born in Ukraine, was serving with the Red Army when he was captured by the Nazis and became a prisoner of war in 1942. "The accused was at first a victim of German aggression," Lutz said. "Then he became a perpetrator with his participation in the murder of Jews." Part of the case against Demjanjuk focused on whether he had been in a position to escape the Nazis. Lutz argued that other men in a similar position had managed to do so.

Charges denied
Through his lawyer, Demjanjuk, who emigrated to the United States in 1951 and became a US citizen seven years later, has denied any role in the Holocaust. He also denies having worked at the Sobibor camp, where 250,000 Jews were killed. His lawyer, Ulrich Busch, said he would demand that his client walk out of the court a free man. The 16-month-long case faced a numerous delays due to the ill health of the defendant. A verdict in the case could come as soon as May 12.
© The Deutsche Welle

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NEO-NAZIS FACE COURT FOR ONLINE RADIO CONTENT (Germany)

21/3/2011- Eighteen operators of a right-wing extremist online radio station face a Koblenz court on Monday for incitement of hatred. They face up to five years in prison. The trial at the district court was scheduled to begin at 9:30 am, when the men aged 20 to 37-years-old stand accused of forming a criminal organisation. As administrators and moderators of Widerstand Radio, or “Resistance Radio,” the group allegedly played music by German and international neo-Nazi bands. The music was also accompanied by racist commentary and illegal National Socialist sentiments, according to prosecutors. The group was arrested in November 2010 during raids by Federal Criminal Police (BKA) in the states of Rhineland-Palatinate and North-Rhine Westphalia. If the defendants are convicted they face up to five years behind bars.
© The Local - Germany

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GERMANS TURN LEFT, FRENCH GO RIGHT

21/3/2011- State and local elections in Germany and France over the weekend delivered opposite results, with the Greens giving Chancellor Angela Merkel a wake-up on nuclear power and the French far-Right predicted to make significant gains. In the second of this year's seven German state elections, the Greens more than doubled their vote to 7 per cent in Saxony-Anhalt. Projections indicated Ms Merkel's Christian Democrats came first and were likely to stay in power in coalition with their opponents at national level, the centre-left Social Democrats. The Green's result will give the ecologist party high hopes for a much bigger prize: success in an election next Sunday in the wealthy southwestern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, the most important of the year's electoral challenges. The surge in the Greens' support was seen as being in large part due to Ms Merkel's support for nuclear power. Germany decided a decade ago to be nuclear-free by about 2020, but Ms Merkel last year postponed the switch-off until the mid-2030s. Japan's nuclear emergency prompted her last week to announce a three-month moratorium on the delay, and to order a temporary shutdown of Germany's seven oldest reactors pending a safety review.

In France, the far-right National Front party was estimated to have made significant progress in the first round of the local elections held on Sunday, while President Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP fared badly. The elections, for part of the cantons in the country's 100 departments, attracted fewer than half the eligible voters. They were seen as the last chance to assess the national mood before presidential and parliamentary elections next year. Estimates gave the Socialist Party 30 per cent of the vote, the UMP less than 20 per cent and the National Front, enjoying a revival under the leadership of Marine Le Pen, daughter of founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, between 15 and 17 per cent, up from 12 per cent in regional elections last year.
© AFP

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FRENCH FAR-RIGHT IN FINANCIAL SETBACK

France's new far-Right leader Marine Le Pen is facing a major setback in her bid to challenge Nicolas Sarkozy after a bank demanded the seizure of her cash-strapped party's historic riverside headquarters.

23/3/2011- Miss Le Pen, who took the reins of the National Front party (FN) from her father Jean-Marie in January, is enjoying a surge in the polls and the prospect of winning seats in the second round of local elections on Sunday. The FN is trailing President Sarkozy's party by just two percentage points after the first round with the Socialists in first place. But the party Miss Le Pen inherited is deeply in debt, and yesterday it emerged the French bank Societe Generale has secured an order for seizure of the FN's former headquarters west of Paris unless it repays a 5.2 million-euro (£4.5 million) debt by September. The massive building overlooking the Seine river, known as "the cruise liner" was purchased by the Front National in 1994. It symbolised the rise of the party from obscurity in the 1970s to France's third political force and a thorn in the side of mainstream politics. After shocking France by reaching the second round of presidential elections in 2002, Mr Le Pen received a drubbing in presidential and legislative elections in 2007. The poor showing saw the National Front's public funding slashed as many of its legislative candidates were not entitled to have their campaign expenses reimbursed by the state. The party has been trying to sell its former headquarters for more than two years to help pay off debts but the move by Societe Generale could force it into a firesell.

The party already reduced the asking price from 15 to 10 million euros (£13 to 8.7 million) after two earlier offers fell through. "We will reimburse," promised Miss Le Pen, who hopes to use a possible strong showing in Sunday's local elections as a springboard to challenge Mr Sarkozy in next year's presidential race. She said she would ask banks to loan her money in the knowledge they would be reimbursed after next year's elections. If they refused, she said she would ask "all the French people to help me". The 42-year old FN leader is reportedly considering creating a new "micro-party" whose aim would be to collect donations for her presidential campaign, or take the reins of the micro-party set up by her father. The party's debt problems spiralled in 2010 when a Versailles court ordered it to reimburse a former donor 6.3 million euros and 600,000 euros in interest on unpaid loans. Seen as a younger, more presentable face of the far-Right, Miss Le Pen poses a serious and growing threat to the deeply unpopular Mr Sarkozy in his bid for re-election next year. Polls now suggest up to a quarter of the French would vote for Miss Le Pen. At least one suggested she would knock Mr Sarkozy out of the first round to reach a second round run-off against Dominique Strauss Kahn, the current IMF chief should he run as Socialist contender. Cracks are appearing in Mr Sarkozy's conservative UMP party as it quibbles over how to tackle the FN threat.
© The Telegraph

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SARKOZY SUFFERS POLL SETBACK AS FAR-RIGHT CLOSES IN (France)

Marine Le Pen's far-right National Front gave French President Nicolas Sarkozy's conservatives a fright on Sunday, snapping at the heels of the mainstream center-right in poorly attended local elections.

20/3/2011- With 86 percent of votes counted, Interior Minister Claude Gueant said the president's center-right supporters had won 32.5 percent of the vote, with left-wing parties totaling 48 percent and Le Pen's anti-immigrant party polling 15 percent. However, polling institutes said Sarkozy's own UMP party scored just 16 percent, barely ahead of the National Front. The interior ministry did not issue any separate score for the UMP. The opposition Socialist party won about 25 percent with the hardline Left Front on 9 percent, ecologists on 8 percent and unaffiliated left-wing candidates with another 6 percent. "This may be the best result we have ever recorded in cantonal elections, which are not traditionally favorable to the National Front," Le Pen said on France 2 television. The vote showed people were turning their backs on decades of look-alike policies of center-right and center-left governments that had driven France into economic and social decline, she said.

The local elections, the last popular vote before next year's presidential election in which Sarkozy is expected to seek a second five-year term, confirmed Le Pen's breakthrough to stand neck-and-neck with other likely mainstream contenders. The decisive second round of the departmental elections for some 2,000 local councilors will be held next Sunday. Because the voting system favors alliances, the National Front is unlikely to win many seats since UMP leader Jean-Francois Cope reaffirmed that the mainstream conservatives would not back any far-right candidate. Turnout in the first round was at a record low of 45 percent, according to the interior ministry. One of the most unpopular presidents in recent history, Sarkozy has trailed left-wing rivals in opinion polls for months but he has now also fallen behind Le Pen in three surveys.

Typically, the National Front scores poorly in departmental elections, and Sunday's results were another indication that the far right is eating into Sarkozy's support due to exasperation over unemployment, living standards and immigration. Marine Le Pen, elected leader in January, has given the party a less abrasive image than her father Jean-Marie, who was convicted of inciting racial hatred and minimizing the Nazi Holocaust. While popular Socialist IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn is keeping France guessing over whether he will run and Sarkozy has yet to formally announce his candidacy, Le Pen is already on the campaign trail. Her overtaking of Sarkozy has put conservatives on the defensive, insisting he is their best candidate.

Sarkozy's personal popularity ratings have slumped to around 29 percent in recent surveys taken before he put France in the vanguard of an international coalition to stop Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's forces attacking civilian protesters. A CSA poll this month credited Strauss-Kahn with 30 percent support in the first round of a presidential election, with Le Pen on 21 percent and Sarkozy 19 percent. A second, more recent Ipsos survey gave Strauss-Kahn 33 percent versus 19 for Le Pen and 18 percent for Sarkozy.
© Reuters

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WE EAT HALAL MEAT WITHOUT KNOWING IT (Denmark)

One in three Danes thinks halal butchering should be forbidden

21/3/2011- A vast majority of all Danish slaughter chickens – 99 percent – are butchered using the halal method. It is a clear advantage when most of the Danish slaughter chickens are exported – some of them to countries where a majority of the population consists of Muslims who are only allowed to eat halal meat. "We need to think in terms of finances. It’s all about kroner and øre and where we can sell our products,” Henrik Bunkenborg, who is responsible for halal butchering at the Danish Agriculture and Food Council (DAFC), told Søndagsavisen newspaper. In Denmark, where a majority are either Christian or without religion, halal meat is increasingly common. We just don’t know it. While 96 percent of all Danes regularly eat chicken, a full 67 percent are not aware that the chickens are butchered using the halal method, according to a survey conducted by Interresearch for Søndagsavisen. Bunkenborg believes it is the industry’s responsibility to inform its consumers, but he admits that it is not easy for them to know how the animals have been butchered. “Some producers have chosen to label their halal products, but they are under no obligation to do so,” he said.

The Danish Consumer Council (DCC) does not think there is a basis for labelling halal-butchered chickens. “There could be a debate about animal welfare during the slaughtering, but the Animal Ethics Council has given the go-ahead in that area,” said Camilla Udsen, a DCC spokesperson. Despite that, 32 percent of Danes think that halal butchering should be banned over concerns of animal welfare. According to Bunkenborg, this attitude can be chalked up to ignorance. “If the consumers knew what halal-butchering in Denmark is all about, that percentage would be far from as big as it is.” Jaffar Mushib is an imam responsible for approving halal butchering in Danish slaughterhouses. “I’m very pleased with our collaboration, but I would be even more pleased if they stopped sedating the animals prior to slaughter,” he said, pointing out that in traditional halal butchering in the Middle East, animals receive no anaesthetics, since it is a central Islam principle that the animal should be alive at the moment of slaughter. Mushib visits the slaughterhouses every other month to ensure that the halal butchering is carried out according to the precepts. He has often found himself having to point out mistakes that the slaughterhouses make. “They listen to me and comply with it, just as I try to adapt to Danish conditions.”
© The Copenhagen Post

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IMMIGRATION MINISTER: EU RULINGS NOT AN OBSTACLE (Denmark)

Last year Denmark only granted 900 residence permits based on EU rulings

21/3/2011- The number of people granted residency in Denmark based on a series of EU immigration rulings is so low that a clash with the European Court of Justice is unnecessary, says Søren Pind, the immigration minister. Pind’s comments come after he pledged last week to look into how much of a threat European regulations pose to the government’s immigration policy. According to the study 900 out of a total 59,000 residence permits issued last year were granted based on EU rulings. “I don’t think it’s in any way fair to say that the previous legislation has undermined Danish legislation. I find it hard to see the problem,” Pind told Politiken newspaper. The Danish People’s Party (DF), however, still sees the problem. “We want to be the master of our own house, and clearly we’re not when Søren Pind and the government say that we should just accept the rulings,” said DF’s deputy leader Peter Skaarup, who expects that the points system for family reunification will be adjusted so that the recent EU rulings will not become shortcuts to residency. Pind believes Denmark should follow the new recent Zambrano ruling, which grants residence to a parent from a non-EU country if the child has Danish citizenship. “Of course we follow EU rulings, and so we should also follow this particular one,” said Pind. This ruling will have far greater consequences than the disputed Metock ruling from 2008, reckons EU expert Peter Starup of the University of Southern Denmark. “We should expect that the Zambrano ruling will lead to a great increase in residency permits. Metock was of little significance – it was just blown up by the media. Zambrano, on the other hand, will prove to be highly significant over the next many years.”
© The Copenhagen Post

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THE ‘ASSIMILATION’ MINISTER SPEAKS OUT (Denmark)

Denmark should be proud of its cultural values, and should expect those wishing to become Danish to adopt them, writes the immigration minister

19/3/2011- In articles published earlier this week, the new immigration minister, Søren Pind, stood by his belief that foreigners in Denmark should assimilate rather than integrate, despite widespread condemnation. The scandal stems from an opinion voiced in Jyllands-Posten newspaper in February 2008 about the influence of integration on Danish culture. “Unfortunately integration has become an expression for the relativisation of the relationship, where both parties must bow. The Danish culture surrenders,” he said in 2008.  “If they are persecuted in their homeland and if they want to contribute actively, people are whole-heartedly welcome. But only on the condition that they recognise that it is Denmark that they have come to – that until they are citizens they are guests. To contribute actively means to work with the Danish culture. “Assimilation must be the word.”

Pind’s views are not widely shared, however, particularly by the left-wing. Nick Haekkerup, a Social Democrat MP, commented that: “Assimilation is basically a totalitarian idea: There is only one way to live life. And this is determined by a small elite with the right opinions.” The media have also been less than sympathetic. Ekstra Bladet editor Poul Madsen offered: “Assimilation strikes me as being a coercive measure. The word brings back memories of a not so distant past. Of course a comparison with Hitler’s Germany is unreasonable. But is it reasonable to want to force people to give up everything to become 100 percent Danish?” Information’s George Metz chimed in too, stating that: “In rejecting the concept of integration in favour of assimilation, Pind has moved the government towards the People’s Party and revered ethnically exclusive regimes.” But Pind, writing in Berlingske newspaper on Monday, defended his use of the term and accused the left-wing of self-hatred.
“What do I mean by the word? I believe that we include into our society those who want to be a part of the Danish community in Denmark. And there is a natural expectation that people who want to be a part of the community agree with this. We must seek an ‘us’ instead of us having, as we do now, an ‘us’ and a ‘them’. They key point in all of this is: what about Denmark? Have we become so modern, progressive and multicultural that Denmark means nothing any more? Do we not care that in fact we have succeeded in creating a country where there is a place for diversity, equality for women, freedom of expression and community that make us the happiest people in the world?” The article comes shortly after another piece published on Saturday night for the same paper, in which he wrote: “If people do not become Danish when they establish themselves in Denmark, what else should they be?”  He added: “Danish culture exists. And there are certain parts of it that should be permanent. Freedom of expression. Equality. Democracy. Personal freedom. Acceptance of diversity. Freedom of religion and the separation of religion and politics.”
© The Copenhagen Post

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PRIEST BLASTS DEAD LESBIAN (Poland)

A group of lesbians were shocked when they arrived at a friend’s funeral only to be told by the priest that they should change their ways.

19/3/2011- According to Tokfm, while paying their respects to close friend Daria Chmielewska in Warsaw, the women suddenly became the target of the priest who turned the occasion into a personal vendetta. “We wanted to pray and say our goodbyes,” says Monika Czaplicka, who attended the service. “However during the sermon we were told we hadn’t come to pray for Daria, but to convert. We were told that Christ had called us there to help us, to convert us from our life of sins.” Shocked by the insensitive behaviour, the group has since drafted up a letter of complaint which it plans to send to the head of the church. “The mass, which was to be an expression of respect, remembrance and farewell, became an excuse for an open attack. Our silent protest through mass was our way of showing our opposition to the church, which instead of offering openness and love, offers thunder, elimination and scare-tactics from the pulpit,” reads the letter. It continues, “Many of us believe the church has nothing to offer gay people and many in attendance, including heterosexuals, have lost all respect. We are calling for an apology for this inappropriate behaviour.” According to Kazimierz Szalata of the University of Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, the church is open to sexual orientation. “It doesn’t condemn it, but may admonish those who practice homosexuality. There is a place for those of different orientation, but the only way out of this situation is through abstinence.”
© The New Poland Express

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VATICAN TELLS U.N. THAT CRITICS OF GAYS UNDER ATTACK

22/3/2011- People who criticise gay sexual relations for religious or moral reasons are increasingly being attacked and vilified for their views, a Vatican diplomat told the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday. Archbishop Silvano Tomasi said the Roman Catholic Church deeply believed that human sexuality was a gift reserved for married heterosexual couples. But those who express these views are faced with "a disturbing trend," he said. "People are being attacked for taking positions that do not support sexual behaviour between people of the same sex," he told the current session of the Human Rights Council. "When they express their moral beliefs or beliefs about human nature ... they are stigmatised, and worse -- they are vilified, and prosecuted. "These attacks are violations of fundamental human rights and cannot be justified under any circumstances," Tomasi said. The Catholic Church has clashed increasingly in recent years with governments over sexual equality legislation. In Britain, it had to close down adoption services because they refused to allow same-sex couples to adopt orphans in their care. It has also opposed the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage in several countries in Europe and the Americas. Tomasi also said the Vatican believed in the inherent dignity of all human beings and condemned all violence against people because of their sexual orientation or behaviour. "But states can and must regulate behaviours, including various sexual behaviours," he said. "Throughout the world, there is a consensus between societies that certain kinds of sexual behaviour must be forbidden by law. Paedophilia and incest are two examples."
© Reuters

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WHITE SUPREMACISTS, ANTI-RACISM ACTIVISTS SQUARE OFF IN CALGARY (Canada)

19/3/2011- Despite much braying about a resurgent neo-Nazi movement in Calgary, only about a dozen white supremacists arrived downtown to spout their brand of racial disaffection during their annual rally Saturday. To prevent the so-called Blood and Honour crew from taking their message to the steps of city hall, about 200 anti-racism protesters formed a line at a downtown intersection. Fearing violent clashes that had broken out between the groups in the past, about 100 police officers formed a block-wide cordon between them and the white supremacists. But the only thing that crossed the police line were insults, chants and taunts as the supremacists walked along 6th Avenue, their movements paralleled by the demonstrators on 7th Avenue.

Two people were arrested: Police said they saw one man on the anti-racist side of the line filling his pockets with rocks. When searched, they said they found a crowbar and a hammer in his knapsack. The man was arrested and charges were pending on Saturday. Another man was arrested on a breach of warrant before the demonstration started. Fewer white pride protesters made it to this year’s rally than in previous years. Mostly young white males wearing masks, clad in black and waving matching black flags bearing white Celtic crosses — a traditional symbol of white supremacist movements — they lapped up the attention of media and counter-demonstrators. They wanted “to have a peaceful protest, to promote love and pride in our culture and our heritage and for white children to walk around with their heads filled up high,” said one member of the group, who refused to show his face or be named.

Several of the supremacists screamed taunts at Jason Devine, the spokesman for Anti-Racist Action Calgary, the activist group that led the counter-demonstrations. In November, Devine was attacked in his home by a group of white supremacists. The de facto leader of the Calgary branch of Blood and Honour, Kyle McKee, 25, was unable to attend Saturday’s rally for a second year in a row as he was serving a 60-day jail sentence after pleading guilty to three criminal charges. Kathy Grant of the Calgary Police Service said the force considered the day successful. “While the majority of the demonstrators were peaceful, there were a small number of people on both sides who seemed intent on confronting one another,” she said. “Calgary Police Service officers prevented confrontations from occurring.” Protesters on both sides began to disperse at about 1 p.m.
© The Montreal Gazette

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INTERNATIONAL ACTION WEEK AGAINST RACISM 2011

MAKE A PLEDGE TO FIGHT RACISM: SOHI (Canada)

21/3/2011- Coun. Amarjeet Sohi's plan to counter race-based discrimination in Edmonton involves at least 30,000 people pledging to make a small change in their own lives. The pledge could involve promising to make one new friend from a different culture, speaking up about derogatory comments or learning about the history of racism in Canada, he said Sunday, on the eve of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. A coalition of Edmonton groups started the campaign in November. So far, it has 5,000 signatures. "This is going to be a significant week for getting people to make those pledges." The City of Edmonton sent posters to local schools to encourage students to sign up, and Debbie Engel, chair of the Edmonton Catholic school board, said she is trying to convince each trustee to make a pledge. "It's like a whisper campaign," she said. "There's a ton of power in it." Sohi said University of Alberta researchers will be surveying Edmonton residents to measure for the first time here how often people feel or see racial discrimination.
© The Edmonton Journal

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HUNDREDS MARCH AGAINST RACISM (Canada)

Speakers denounce genocide, occupation and Jason Kenney

20/3/2011- Hundreds came out today to demonstrate in the spirit of acceptance and solidarity at the Community March Against Racism. The march came on the eve of the 51st anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre in South Africa and in the wake of global political and tectonic shifts. Representatives from the Coast Salish Territories and the grassroots anti-colonial immigrant and refugee rights collective No One is Illegal rallied close to 500 supporters under the shadow of the Price Waterhouse Cooper building in downtown Vancouver. As the temperature rose and the crowd swelled, the scent of sage filled the air as First Nations members performed ritual blessings on the participants, all under the watchful eye of the Vancouver police.

Once the march got underway, the streets were electrified with speakers and music. Organizers denounced Canada’s genocidal legacy, the occupation of Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan as well as Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s modifications to Bill C-50, the Live-in Care Giver Program and the $53-million budget cuts to immigrant and refugee servicing agencies. Announced in December, those changes empowered Kenney to decide who can and cannot stay in Canada, while the budget cuts were meant to reduce government spending and redistribute the "savings" across the provinces. NDP MP Olivia Chow recently put forth a motion to reverse the government's “devastating decision”. On March 3, that motion passed 145-134, but Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper has yet to restore settlement funding.

March organizers called for a stop to the theft of Indigenous lands and freedom from police violence, imprisonment and deportation noting that Immigrants and Indigenous peoples remain over-represented in the Canadian criminal system, are subject to a high child apprehension rate, low education and income levels and often dwell in substandard housing. The march briefly occupied the intersections of Robson and Burrard, then Robson and Hornby before wrapping up with music, food and speeches behind the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Click here for more photos of the march.
© Vancouver Media co-op

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ANTI-RACISM WEEK STARTS IN FINLAND

21/3/2011- Finland is celebrating the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on Monday, with several cities holding events. The day kicks off an action week against racism. The Red Cross is campaigning against racism in schools, workplaces, on the streets and on Facebook. They are handing out anti-racist pioneer awards and ’I am opposed to racism’ badges. An electronic version is also available on their Facebook page. The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination can trace its roots to March 21, 1960. It commemorates the Sharpeville massacre in which Apartheid-era South African police killed 69 people demonstrating peacefully against repressive laws. Six years later, the United Nations General Assembly declared the first International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
© YLE News

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45 YEARS LATER ENAR SHADOW REPORT SHOWS THAT RACISM IS FAR FROM OVER IN EUROPE

21/3/'2011- In 1966, the United Nations proclaimed March 21 as the ‘International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination’, and every year on this day, all nations are encouraged to examine racial discrimination and take affirmative steps to address racial inequality. This Day takes on even more significance as 45 years later, data collected by anti-racist civil society across Europe show that racism remains a deep-rooted problem in a broad range of areas, including employment, housing, education, health, policing, access to goods and services, and the media. ENAR’s European Shadow Report draws on 27 national shadow reports prepared by ENAR members across the European Union and Croatia. It identifies communities vulnerable to racism and presents an overview of manifestations of racism in a range of areas, as well as an assessment of the legal and political context and responses by governments.

The report reveals that across Europe, ethnic and religious minorities continue to face discrimination and exclusion in all areas of life. For instance, in the field of education, the issues highlighted include lower quality education for ethnic minorities, segregation, racist bullying, as well as lower attendance and schooling rates. Access to public transport is also highlighted as a key area of concern in many countries with regard to various means of transport, including airlines. Another example of such discrimination is in the private rental market, most notably in Belgium, Czech Republic, Ireland, Latvia, Malta and Spain. Explicit discriminatory remarks in housing adverts are reported in a number of countries. In addition, extremism and racist violence are on the rise across Europe. The rise of extremist organisations and public expressions of racist sentiments within the mainstream political parties and elected governments has hindered the integration of migrants and ethnic minorities. These barriers and challenges have been amplified by the financial and economic crisis. The report also shows some areas of improvement, notably with regard to the positive impact of EU anti-discrimination legislation in EU member states. However, the report shows that legislation alone is not sufficient and that additional measures need to be taken to ensure non-discrimination in practice. These are some of the main conclusions of ENAR’s 2009/2010 Shadow Report on racism in Europe.

Chibo Onyeji, ENAR President, said: “ENAR’s European Shadow Report demonstrates that racism is far from over in Europe -- we still have a long way to go before reaching effective equality for all. It is crucial that decision makers retain a focus on racism and ensure equality of treatment, particularly in times where an essentially negative approach to migration has meant migrants, or individuals perceived as migrants, are often treated as second class persons.”

The European Report, the 27 national reports, as well as a report on Racist violence in Europe, produced by ENAR, are available on the ENAR website

The European report “Racism in Europe - ENAR Shadow Report 2009/2010”can also be ordered in hard copy in English and French from the ENAR secretariat 
© EUropean Network Against Racism

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JOINT STATEMENT ON INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION (CoE, FRA, OSCE/ODIHR)

STRASBOURG, VIENNA, WARSAW, In a joint statement on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Nils Muiznieks, Chair of the Council of Europe's European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), Morten Kjaerum, Director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), and Janez Lenarčič, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), strongly condemned manifestations of racism and related intolerance.

21/3/2011- "Today we jointly commemorate the tragic events of 1960 in Sharpeville, which led to the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. On this day we renew our call to be vigilant in the face of acts motivated by racism and xenophobia". "On a positive note, we acknowledge with great appreciation that in some European States, surveys show that tolerance and the rejection of discrimination are on the increase. These positive developments need to be strengthened and stimulated, since discrimination and victimisation still remain far too widespread. At the same time, levels of reporting by victims of racist assaults, threats or serious harassment and awareness of how to access redress mechanisms remains low."
"We are convinced that persistent racist and xenophobic speech from public figures and in the media can fuel prejudice and hatred against ethnic minorities and migrants, leading to discrimination in many areas of social and economic life, particularly in access to employment, health care, education, and housing. This creates a situation of social exclusion and, in some cases, leads to open hostility and violence." "Our monitoring and research shows that the Roma are the ethnic group most discriminated against across Europe. In particular, our findings highlight recurring forms of stigmatisation of Roma communities in public discourse."

"We acknowledge that the primary responsibility to protect the rights of Roma lies with the States of which Roma are citizens or long-term residents. However, a coordinated response at the European level is needed to address the cross-border dimension of the problems that these people experience." "We, the signatories of this statement, believe that to combat racism and xenophobia proactively, States should ensure, inter alia, that

* barriers to education, health care, housing, and employment are removed. Such policies should include the reintegration into mainstream schools of Roma children currently enrolled in special schools, and desegregation in the area of housing;
* adequate data are collected about the participation of vulnerable groups in these areas, in order to target policies better and to allow their impact to be assessed;
* legislation prohibiting racially motivated crime is introduced and enforced, along with training for law-enforcement officials in preventing and responding to these offences;
* measures are taken to address discrimination on other grounds in addition to ethnicity;
* national bodies responsible for the protection of human rights are mandated and adequately resourced to monitor the prevalence of racism and related intolerance and to take measures to promote equality, including advice and support for victims;
* measures are taken to increase awareness of rights and complaints mechanisms, in order to address low reporting levels;
* journalists are provided with training to challenge prejudice and stereotypes, in order to encourage informed and nuanced public debate; and
* educational programmes and awareness-raising campaigns are designed to challenge prejudice and stereotypes and strengthen a climate of mutual tolerance and intercultural dialogue.

Our institutions stand together to support and assist States in finding sustainable solutions at local, national, and European levels, through the provision of data, research findings, specialist advice, and coordinating support, on the basis of our complementary fields of expertise."
© EU Fundamental Rights Agency

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UN HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE URGES NEPAL TO END ALL FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION

21/3/2011- The United Nations human rights office and the national commission on caste-based discrimination in Nepal have urged the Government to fulfil its stated commitment to end all forms of discrimination, saying the problem was widespread and a cause of conflict in the Asian country. “Deep-rooted discrimination is recognised as one of the root causes of the conflict in Nepal,” said Jyoti Sanghera, the head of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Nepal, in a joint statement with Nepal’s National Dalit Commission (NDC), to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which is observed today. At a recent review of human rights in Nepal by the UN Human Rights Council under the Universal Periodic Review process (UPR), the Government reiterated its commitment to eliminate all forms of discrimination and agreed to enact into law the Bill on Caste-based Discrimination and Untouchability. “The UPR process provides an important opportunity to the Government of Nepal to advance its commitment to eliminate caste-based discrimination. The Government is urged to swiftly adopt the Bill on Caste-based Discrimination and Untouchability in line with the highest international human rights standards,” said Ms. Sanghera. Discrimination remains widespread in Nepal and has been blamed for the political, social and economic exclusion of millions of Nepalis on the basis of gender, caste, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and religion, according to the OHCHR and NDC, which fights for the rights of people who face discrimination because they are considered members of low castes known as “untouchables or dalits.” OHCHR and NDC have continued to record cases of physical assault, arson, forced displacement, sexual violence and labour exploitation resulting from caste-based discrimination. “Caste-based discrimination must be defined as a crime and strong legal provisions be put in place to penalise the perpetrators, bringing an end to impunity for such acts,” said Bijul Bishwakarma, the NDC chair. “The adoption of the Bill on Caste-based Discrimination and Untouchability is paramount in providing the victims with proper and speedy access to justice,” he added.
© UN News service

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DECLARATION BY THE HIGH REPRESENTATIVE, CATHERINE ASHTON, ON BEHALF OF THE EU

21/3/2011- The European Union condemns all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and similar types of intolerance, including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, which are totally at odds with the values the EU is founded upon. People across the world face this kind of intolerance every day. We can only fight it successfully if we take a consistently tough stance at all levels. There is no room for complacency, including in Europe. The EU also mainstreams the fight against discrimination in its international cooperation. Through its European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, the EU supports a wide range of civil society organizations in some 120 recent projects, for a total of approximately 24 million euro. The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) is the universal foundation for efforts to prevent, combat and eradicate racism. The European Union calls on all states that have not yet ratified or fully implemented the Convention to do so.
© Iewy News

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Headlines 18 March, 2011

EURO 2012 CO-HOSTS POLAND IN HOOLIGAN CRACKDOWN

As Poland gears up for Euro 2012, police are cracking down on stadium hooliganism which has already proven deadly this year.

18/3/2011- A 24-year-old man died on January 8 in a clash between around 150 supporters of rival teams in the central Polish city of Lodz. Authorities vow they are ready to take on the gangs, some openly neo-Nazi, others involved in organised crime. “We are prepared. We have plenty of experience in the area and officers are well trained,” Poland’s national police spokesman Krzysztof Hajdas told AFP. The justice ministry has announced it will use electronic ankle tethers to monitor the movements of Polish fans banned from stadia for the duration of Euro 2012 from June 8 to July 1. Currently there are roughly 1,800 such banned fans. The measure is part of a raft of draft legislation on domestic security Poland’s liberal government, led by football-mad Prime Minister Donald Tusk, has set as a priority for 2011. Since the Iron Curtain fell two decades ago, some of Poland’s fans have developed organised groups who worship England’s once-notorious hooligan “firms”. Hooligans supporting rival clubs are known to organise “ustawki”, or fights pitting fan-gangs against each other. It was such a pre-planned scrap that killed the 24-year-old man in January. Four of 29 suspects under investigation in the case have been remanded in police custody. Following the death, national chief of police Andrzej Matejuk reinforced police units specifically focused on combating football hooligans by infiltrating the gangs to identify members involved in criminal activities. Hajdas insists that police efforts to contain hooligan violence paid off in 2010 with authorities recording 100 incidents over the course of the year from thousands of matches at all league levels in Poland. This figure was down from the 180 cases of hooligan-related violence in 2009.

Police are focusing on hooligan involvement in organised crime as some gang members have turned to drug trafficking. In February, police detained supporters of first-division Ruch Chorzow, based in Poland’s hard-living southern Silesian coal basin, on suspicion of drug trafficking, including 80 kilogrammes (176 pounds) of amphetamine. Authorities are also monitoring football supporters voicing allegiance with far-right groups. On February 20, fans of first-division Legia Warsaw rallied in the capital alongside Polish ultra-nationalists calling for Kosovo to revert to Serbia. A large anti-Semitic banner was touted in public during a third-division derby in May 2010 in the south-eastern Polish city of Rzeszow. Local prosecutors charged two suspects in the case but dropped investigations against four others. A Warsaw prosecutor recently ordered the probe to be re-opened. “We perhaps won’t be able to make racism disappear from the stadia during Euro 2012, but we can take advantage of the situation to actively combat it,” says sociologist Rafal Pankowski. Pankowski heads Poland’s “Never Again” anti-racism organisation, part of Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE), a partner to European football’s governing body UEFA. Hajdas meawnhile also insists fans supporting Poland’s national side are generally a more law-abiding bunch than those showing up at premiere and lower league matches. “Supporters of the Polish national side conduct themselves in a completely civilised manner. Everything will depend on how the fans of the other sides who come to Poland will behave. In any case, we’re ready,” he insisted. Poland is co-hosting Euro 2012 with Ukraine.
© Times of Malta

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LATVIAN SS VETERANS MARCH THROUGH RIGA

17/3/2011- As it has annually for years, a controversial march by veterans of Nazi Waffen-SS units took place yesterday in the center of the Latvian capital of Riga. Wire services report that the veterans, who fought the occupying Red Army during the Second World War, were celebrating "Legionnaires' Day". A large number of police officers oversaw the march and kept it apart from a counter-demonstration. DPA reports that roughly 2 500 people participated in yesterday's march, which was intended to commemorate as many as 140 000 Latvians who fought alongside Nazi Germany. The Associated Press reported numbers of more than a thousand people. The marchers carried Latvian flags, sang patriotic songs, and laid flowers at the foot of the Freedom Monument in the center of Riga. The counter-demonstrators included a small group of mostly ethnic Russians who view the event as a celebration of fascism and a denial of the enormous contribution made by the Soviet Union to the defeat of Nazi Germany. Counter-demonstrators shouted slogans such as "Shame" and "No to fascism". The police cordon kept the two sides separated and the entire event reportedly took place without any serious incidents. Some marchers reject the charge that they are Nazi sympathizers. "I am Latvian and I want to honor those who fought for the freedom of this country," AP quoted Inga Brank as saying.

In her view, Latvians who fought in the Second World War were neither communists nor fascists but were merely striving to recapture their lost independence. As in previous years, a court in Riga permitted the traditional event on Tuesday by overturning the city's decision to ban the controversial celebration. According to Latvian Interior Minister Linda Múrniece, the event does not harm Latvia's international reputation and police did everything they could to make sure citizens' rights to free expression of their opinions and to security were guaranteed. The annual commemoration always prompts a wave of resistance in Latvia and abroad. However, Latvian Foreign Minister Girts Kristovskis declared this year that Latvia "always condemns in the strongest possible terms the crimes of National Socialism, Stalinism and the Holocaust." Moscow and the Russian minority in Latvia see the march as a celebration of Nazism, but the former legionnaires and their adherents reject that claim. Latvia was occupied by Soviet troops in 1940 after the conclusion of a pact between Moscow and the Nazis. When the Wehrmacht pushed the Red Army out of Riga one year later, many Latvians welcomed the Nazis as liberators. Thousands of Latvians fell in battle against the Soviet forces. The Soviet Army once again conquered Latvia in 1944 and the country was part of the Soviet Union until it achieved independence in 1991.
© CTK

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CALLS MOUNT FOR PROBE AFTER ATTACK ON ROMA CAMP (Albania)

The OSCE, US and EU ambassadors in Tirana have called for an investigation after a Roma camp on the outskirts of Tirana was burned down three weeks ago by perpetrators who have not yet been found.

17/3/2011- “We strongly urge the responsible authorities to take the appropriate action by investigating the disturbing February events in order to ensure that such acts are not repeated,” the three ambassadors said in a statement. “We also encourage the authorities to take the appropriate action to provide necessary social assistance, including housing, to those people who have now found themselves homeless,” the statement added. Some dwellers in the camp, which was home to roughly 40 families, told local media the attackers arrived at night and beat them with sticks while setting fire to their barracks over several days, pressuring them to relocate. The residents of the camps say the police failed to prevent the attacks and provide protection for the families, who now have moved to live in settlements in Tirana and other cities. Police denied on Friday that they had disregarded the laws against discrimination of minorities and the protection of children while dealing with the case. According to the police statement, the Roma “initiated the conflict” with their neighbors, which then escalated. “We have questioned the Roma about the fire that swept their dwelling but they have refused to testify,” read the statement.

According to the Union for Albanian Roma, a Tirana-based NGO, up to 150,000 Roma people live in Albania, part of a community that struggles with discrimination, poor literacy rates and massive unemployment. The ambassadors reminded the Albanian government that it committed itself to the objectives of the Declaration of the Decade of Roma Inclusion and ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women. The statement also underlined that the fight against discrimination and the protection of the rights of Roma is one the twelve key priority areas needing particular attention, set forth by the European Commission as precondition for Albania to be granted EU candidate status.
© Balkan Insight

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TOWN RESIDENTS SIGN PETITION SUPPORTING RIGHT-WING CIVIC GUARD GROUP (Hungary)

18/3/2011- Over 1,000 residents of Gyöngyöspata, Heves county, signed a manifesto demanding the operation of the far-right Civil Guard For a More Beautiful Future, citing a lack of public safety, on Wednesday afternoon. Local residents say the police, local government and local civil guard have been unable to enforce order for a number of years. Mayor László Tábi said "we recognise the presence of the civil guard in the village as long as it operates under lawful frameworks."  No local Roma attended the village meeting, but relayed a message that said "let police jail the Gypsies who are criminals but all 300 local Gypsies should not be punished." Civil guard members left Gyöngyöspata on Thursday evening, police announced. Heves county police and emergency police are continuing their stepped up patrols of the village.
© Politics Hungary

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RIGHTS GROUPS DEMAND PROTECTION FOR ROMA IN GYÖNGYÖSPATA (Hungary)

18/3/2011- Yesterday, the European Roma Rights Centre, Amnesty International and Human Rights First sent a letter urging Hungarian authorities to intervene and protect the Romani residents of Gyöngyöspata from the intimidation and harassment they have been subjected to by the vigilante organisation, Szebb Jövőért Polgárőr Egyesület (Civil Guard Association for a Better Future), since 1 March. The Szebb Jövőért Polgárőr Egyesület have been patrolling the town of Gyöngyöspata day and night. They reportedly prevent the Romani residents from sleeping by shouting during the night, threaten them with weapons and dogs and follow them every time they leave their houses, unimpeded by local police. The desperate Roma residents are afraid to go to school, to work or even to buy food. Finally, the Szebb Jövőért Polgárőr Egyesület indicated that, having successfully established their presence in Gyöngyöspata, they will also set up chapters in other towns to expand their “patrols”.

The Szebb Jövőért Polgárőr Egyesület patrols have been supported by the far-right political party Jobbik, which organised a march of thousands through the village in black military uniform on 6 March. According to the ERRC’s monitoring, there were at least 48 attacks against Roma in Hungary between 2008 and 2010, which resulted in at least 9 deaths. The presence of anti-Roma vigilante groups in Romani neighbourhoods adds to growing inter-ethnic tensions and fuels a climate of violence. The organisations called for Hungarian authorities to fulfil their domestic and international human rights obligations in Gyöngyöspata, to intervene immediately to ensure the situation does not escalate into physical violence and to protect the Roma from intimidation and harassment. Robert Kushen, Executive Director of ERRC, said: “On April 7-8, Hungary will play host to a major European Union meeting to address Roma exclusion. It is critical that the Government of Hungary lead by example, and protect Roma within its borders from intimidation and harassment.”
© European Roma Rights Center

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ROMA NEIGHBORHOOD UNDER CONTROL OF UNIFORMED VIGILANTES IN HUNGARY

By Orsolya Fehé, political analyst of the R. I. S. Network

16/3/2011- According to the local representative of the Jobbik party in the Heves County village, crimes against property have become unbearable to the locals, who have therefore called the Civil Guard Association for a Better Future to protect them. Gábor Vona, the president of Jobbik said in Gyöngyöspata[1] that „those are not willing to integrate should leave the country.” More than 2,000 members and sympathizers of Jobbik and the Civil Guard Association for a Better Future held a protest in the village, which counts 2,500 citizens, against „Gypsy terror”, fearing that „crimes committed by the minorities could create a civil war situation.” The Roma were astonished. According to them, generalizing and exercising arbitrary control over the whole village because of a few trouble makers is not a solution. Nearly 2,500 persons marched in black military-like clothing on 6th March 2011 in Gyöngyöspata, after the rally supported by the Jobbik party, through the village’s Roma neighborhood, chanting slogans about the restoration of public safety. The police arrived on the scene on the day of the demonstration but did not interfere in any way, regardless of the “abuse caused to the rights of the local Roma residents, which could have been a ground for the authorities to break up the protest”, as mentioned in the letter written by the members of Gyöngyöspata’s Roma community to the Hungarian Minister of Home Affairs.

After the end of the protest the activists wearing the black uniforms of the Civil Guard Association for a Better Future, the “Defense Guard” or the “gendarmerie” did not leave Gyöngyöspata. They are there to this day and still terrorize the local Roma population. They stand in lines and surround the neighborhood. Because of their threatening appearance, the Roma do not dare leave their houses or send their children to school. Their stated goals and behavior clearly questions the state monopoly on the legitimate use of force. The village has a local police chief who had earlier initiated investigations into some thefts and closed some cases. However, many local residents considered it necessary to strengthen public safety by calling on the civil guards to protect their village. While the police doubled their presence on the scene two days after the protest, the members of the Civil Guard Association for a Better Future and its sympathizers are still forming a human chain around the houses of Roma residents and say they are there to stay. The police, while present in large numbers, still do not interfere in any way, regardless of the fact that there is reasonable suspicion that offenses such as harassment and bodily injury are occurring on a day to day basis against many of the village’s Roma residents. Some of the protesters have vowed to stay on and guard the village until the local Roma self-government does not sign a declaration stating that the Roma will stop committing crimes. Attila Laszlo, the leader of the Civil Guard Association for a Better Future said that he had heard about the municipality requesting that the Civil Guard should leave but that this was later retracted by the mayor. The mayor’s office confirmed his statement. According to their initial plans, they intend to stay until they train and organize a local branch of the organization made up of local residents.

Attila Laszlo added that during the night, his guards had once again helped capture two wood thieves in the surroundings of the village. As they caught the thief red-handed, they called the local police, who initiated proceedings. Food is regularly being collected and accommodation offered to the civil guards by local residents. László Tabi, the independent mayor of Gyöngyöspata told the press on 9th March that the civil guards had since been actively involved in capturing wood thieves. Simultaneously, local residents continued to offer accommodation and food to their “guests” and initiated a petition to demand that the Civil Guard stay on. Jobbik representative András Kisgergely reminded his followers that “Gypsies attack Hungarians each and every day. Typically, the gypsy carries a knife, and after having committed a theft and met with resistance, he starts his killing spree. It is not enough for him to hurt the one who resists, it is his life he wants to take!” According to the politican, “gypsy criminals are left free to maraud in villages, terrorize and murder the Hungarians while they are protected through every means possible and their acts are left out of the public eye.” One article in major ultra-nationalist website begins with the statement that in Gyöngyöspata, on the day of the protest, the population had once again approached the ideal Hungarian “ethnic ratio”, a concept which, with demographic decline among non-Roma and high birth rates among Roma in Hungary, is gaining in importance in the ultra-nationalist narrative in Hungary. Gábor Vona, president of the Jobbik party, said that he had received information from different sources that the local Roma had been threatening the “Hungarian” residents in Gyöngyöspata, promising that revenge would be taken after the civil guards left the village. The politician promised that: “if need be, twice, three times as many civil guards will come back.” Mr. Vona added that they would organize the civil guard movement across the country’s cities and villages.

“We went to Gyöngyöspata on Thursday, 10th March, and found we had to cross two checkpoints reminiscent of war movies to enter the Roma neighborhood.” wrote the www.sosinet.hu website. At that point tension was intense between the Roma and the people clad in black uniforms surrounding them. “During our interviews, local Roma inhabitants told us about the psychological terror and humiliation they are suffering, the constant fear they are feeling. It is not safe for them to leave their homes, even to go to work.” In their declaration, the local Rona draw attention to the fact that the members of the Hungarian Guard hidden behind “Civil Guard Association for a Better Future” and “gendarme” uniforms and openly supported by the Jobbik party have kept the Roma residents of the village in a state of constant fear for the past two weeks. The situation has come to a point where the Roma are terrified to leave their houses, stopped sending their children to school and do not even feel secure inside their own homes. Activists began organizing a crowd to “celebrate” the 15 March National Holiday in Gyöngyöspata. Between 230-250 people arrived to the village in the morning and spent the day in the Roma neighborhood to celebrate Hungary’s commemoration of its revolution against Austrian rule in 1848. They walked together to the Kossuth (a hero of the revolution) statue, claiming in statement signed by spokespersons Tamás Bauer, László Márton and Iván Vitányi that “laws apply to all, not only to those who commit crimes against other persons’ property. They also apply to those self-appointed militia members who keep others in a state of terror.” Today is 16 March, a day after the National Holiday. A few people were taken to the police station yesterday in Gyöngyöspata because they could not show their ID’s.

“The police, the legitimate guardians of public safety, have been watching on silently as an aggressive organization bulldozes through the basic norms of any democratic state based on the rule of law and attacks members of the Roma minority arbitrarily instead of preventing this state of affairs from developing from the day it started.” – says the Hungarian Democratic Charta in their statement. The Hungarian Democratic Charta and the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ), two NGOs, have expressed their shock at the lack of response of the Hungarian authorities: “We are shocked by the inaction of the police, which could encourage others to take similar actions and could deepen the loss of trust of the Roma minority in the authorities and the administration.” While many representatives of European governments and journalists from all over the world are currently in Hungary for the EU Presidency summits, neither the events, nor their statement have made it into the international press. The question is whether Hungary, which is currently holding the European Union Presidency, will acknowledge that vigilantism, the concept of demographic “ ethnic ratio” and the meaning given to Hungarian national values by those who claim to protect this country and their sympathizers is a direct path back to where Hungary stood in the 1930s, and whether this government will finally take real steps to stand by its stated principles and stop militias advocating crimes against humanity from taking our country over once again. “After Gyöngyöspata”, the Jobbik party has asked the members of the Civil Guard Association for a Better Future “to take the restoration of public safety into their own hands in Borsodnánasd also.” We urge all to unite against the recent racist trend!

The Hungarian Guard is a Hungarian ultra-nationalist movement supported by the ultra-nationalist Jobbik party, which won 16 % of the national vote in the 2010 general elections. The Guard was banned in July 2009 by a Budapest court. Judge Pataki, in charge of the case, decided that the Hungarian Guard’s main aim is to spread fear among Roma and noted that the Guard is also anti-Semitic because in a speech a spokesman of the Guard talked about “Zionist rats, locusts, and grave diggers of the nation.” The judge pointed out that all these activities are unconstitutional and not in conformity with Hungary’s international obligations. The Civil Guard Association for a Better Future was founded in 2010 and has been trying ever since to join the National Federation of Civil Guards to legitimize its activities. These attempts have been met with the Federation’s refusal to cooperate. Most Hungarians acknowledge that due to the support of Jobbik and to the similarity of the organization’s stated objectives and the methods used and black uniforms of its members, the Civil Guard Association for a Better Future is the successor of the banned Hungarian Guard.
© Roma Buzz Aggregator

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NEO-NAZI CANDIDATE PROBED FOR WEB BOMB TIPS (Germany)

The main candidate for the neo-Nazi NPD party in Saxony-Anhalt's election this Sunday is being investigated by police for allegedly posting bomb-making tips on the internet.

15/3/2011- Matthias Heyder, who hopes to lead the far-right party into the state legislature on March 20, is under suspicion of using an online forum to discuss possible terrorist attacks, bomb-making methods and the "defiling" of left-leaning women under the pseudonym "Junker Jörg." The story, first broken by public broadcaster ARD, was confirmed by the Saxony-Anhalt Interior Ministry on Tuesday. "According to the excerpts of this internet forum made available to us, it's very plausible that no one other than Mr. Heyder is behind these entries," said Martin Krems, a spokesman for the ministry. The state police have now been asked to secure computer data and other information. The forum itself is registered to Holger Apfel, the NPD parliamentary group leader in Saxony. Apfel, who is also heading the party's election campaign in Saxony-Anhalt, is a close confidante of Heyder. Investigators have found hundreds of entries made by "Junker Jörg" since 2004 on the forum, including a good deal of insider information about the NPD such as detailed postings on campaign strategy, photographs to be used in campaign material and drafts of party brochures.

Entries which concern investigators were found under the subcategory "weapons" and explain in seven steps how an explosive device could be assembled. Experts believe the detailed description, which includes exactly how much of various substances should be used, is punishable by law. In one entry, Junker Jörg wrote: "20 suitcases, 20 men, 20 train stations. The Federal Republic paralysed. Everything legal. Cost under €1,000. What's the problem?" Heyder, when contacted by ARD, said he doubted he had ever written anything in the forum in question. He did tell reporters, however, that the forum was private and threatened to press charges for "data theft" if postings were made public. According to recent polls, the NPD could get enough votes in Sunday's election to gain seats in the Saxony-Anhalt state parliament. It would be the third eastern German state to have members of the neo-Nazi party represented after Saxony and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Heyder and the party have been careful to cultivate a moderate image in the election campaign, however, discussions in the internet forum where Junker Jörg often posted smirked at the efforts while concluding that they were necessary politically.
© The Local - Germany

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CoE CRITICISES GREECE OVER MIGRANT DETENTION CONDITIONS

16/3/2011- The Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment on Tuesday (March 15th) criticised Greece for what it described as "unacceptable" treatment of illegal immigrants, warning of aggravated conditions at police stations and detention facilities. The committee said that Athens authorities have ignored recommendations they were given to improve the situation, while at the same time have "continuously asserted that action was being taken to improve the situation". Separately Wednesday, authorities in Athens said they have found the bodies of two more young Bangladeshis who tried to flee a ship that was evacuating them from Libya. The incident, near the island of Crete, happened earlier this month. Four bodies were recovered Tuesday, and three others were found shortly after the group of 49 left the ship using a rope to get into the water, prompting speculation that they did not want to return to Bangladesh. Two people remain missing. The rest of the group managed to swim to the shore.
© The Southeast European Times

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MALMÖ MAYOR IN NEW 'ANTI-SEMITISM' ROW (Sweden)

The conflict between the US-based Wiesenthal Center and Malmö mayor Ilmar Reepalu has taken another acrimonious turn after he was accused of anti-Semitism and echoing "conspiracy theories against Jews in the 1930s".

18/3/2011- Following a five-day visit to Malmö in southern Sweden, one of the Wiesenthal Centre's representatives, Dr. Shimon Samuels, has penned a letter in which he forwards strongly worded criticism of Reepalu, according to the local Sydsvenskan daily. Samuels has taken offence over Reepalu's comments after Monday's meeting in which he said the responsibility for policing was a matter for the police and the justice ministry in Stockholm. One of the proposals discussed at the meeting concerned the formation of a hate crime police unit along the lines of a US model. "We wrote to Beatrice Ask already a couple of years ago but have not received a reply. Perhaps the Wiesenthal centre with its power and influence can draw a better response," Reepalu said of the initiative. The mayor's reference to the Wiesenthal Center's "power and influence" has however incurred the wrath of the US Jewish leaders and Samuels argued in his letter that the comments "echo the conspiracy theories against Jews in the 1930s".

Reepalu has previously been the target of criticism for allegedly failing to protect Jews in the city and for comments to the media which were interpreted to indicate that the city's Jewish committee had some responsibility to denounce Israel. After several days of meetings designed to find common ground, Samuels' letter renewed prior criticism of the mayor and Sweden for failing to take the concerns of the city's residents seriously. Reepalu, who has hitherto been cautious of countering prior criticism from the Wiesenthal Center, was however unable to hold back on receipt of the letter. "I have said that it is always dangerous when one group considers itself worth more than another group of people. When people say that we have a right to take your land because we have some form of thousand-year promise from God that this is our land, then it creates conflicts," Reepalu said to Sydsvenskan. "Then they say that I am anti-Semitic when I put this across. I am flabbergasted that they are then able to tie all this together," he said.

Reepalu continued to question whether the Wiesenthal Centre, which describes itself as a "global Jewish human rights organization" from six offices worldwide and claims a constituency of 400,000 households in the US, was simply a research centre. Samuels' letter ends with an ultimatum to the mayor to say that if he doesn't start to take the issues discussed seriously then the warning issued by the centre in December against travel to Sweden's third city, will remain in place. "To be honest with you I think we are working as seriously as we can with these issues, and we will do so regardless of what they say, think and feel," Reepalu told the newspaper. In an interview later on Friday, Reepalu explained that the Americans may have misunderstood the role of a Swedish mayor. In practice the position is held by the head of the municipal council and is not a directly elected post. "They live in the belief that as the 'mayor' I can order what the police do and do not do. They do not accept that I do not have that power," he told the TT news agency.
© The Local - Sweden

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WIESENTHAL CENTER SLAMS SWEDEN FOR 'JEWISH TAX'

US-based Jewish rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center on Tuesday criticised Sweden for not doing enough to protect the Jewish community in Malmö following a string of crimes against Jews in the southern Swedish town.

15/3/2011- The group among other things blasted Swedish authorities for making the community pay the equivalent of a "Jewish tax," since they themselves had to foot the bill for most security measures, including setting up anti-attack barriers in front of the synagogue during religious celebrations. "It is long overdue that the Swedish authorities assume the costs of the security of the Jewish institutions, especially in a community of 800 people that's been suffering from incidents," Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the centre's associate dean, told AFP. "That's a disaster waiting to happen," he cautioned, also lamenting numerous attacks on Malmö's Muslim and Roma communities. A spokesman for Democracy Minister Birgitta Ohlsson, who met with Cooper in Stockholm Tuesday, told AFP that "discussions" were going on within the government about the issue, but would not provide further details. Representatives from the organisation are currently visiting the southern Swedish city of Malmö for meetings with a number of Swedish officials, including Mayor Ilmar Reepalu, who has previously been criticised for remarks about the city's Jewish community.

The Wiesenthal Center still feels the situation for Jews in Malmö is serious and has proposed a number of measures to improve the situation. However, a travel advisory issued in December will likely remain in place for the time being. "If the status quo is maintained, the Wiesenthal Center's travel warning will remain," the group said in an email sent to the TT news agency. Following a meeting on hate crimes between Reepalu and Cooper, it appeared that differences remain in how both of them view the situation in Malmö. While Reepalu told reporters the meeting was "very good, direct, and open", Cooper was more sober, explain that "we have a lot of work ahead of us", according to the Sydsvenskan newspaper.

Malmö, which is Sweden's third largest city with a population of around 300,000, is home to some 800 Jews, alongside a large, mainly Muslim, immigrant community. Some 400 anti-Semitic acts were registered in Malmö in 2009 alone, accounting for more than half of the total number of hate crimes in that city, and several Jewish families have left in recent years due to the threatening atmosphere, according to local Jewish representatives. In December, shortly after Stockholm suffered its first-ever suicide bombing, the Wiesenthal Centre issued a rare warning, cautioning Jews to avoid traveling to Malmö and telling the ones already there to be very careful. Referring to numerous instances of harassment against people who are visibly Jewish, Cooper asked "How could that happen?" "In a country that rescued the Jews coming from Denmark during World War II, how come a rabbi can (no longer) go to the synagogue with his two children?"

In early 2009, a Davis Cup tennis match in Malmö between Sweden and Israel was forced to play behind closed doors due to security concerns amid massive ant-Israeli protests over the Gaza war. Malmö mayor Ilmar Reepalu has also faced harsh criticism for not taking the threat against the city's Jewish community seriously enough and for comparing Zionism to anti-Semitism. After meeting with Cooper Monday, he stressed to the TT news agency that he in no way was making light of the situation. "Every single Jew who feels fearful and afraid is one too many. This is completely unacceptable," he said, adding that it was up to the national government to provide more funds for addressing the problem. "I really hope that the state will prioritise Malmö in this matter," he said.
© The Local - Sweden

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SWEDISH COURT: NAKED MUHAMMAD PICS LEGAL

A Swedish court has ruled that depicting the prophet Muhammad naked together with his nine-year-old wife naked is legal, freeing a local politician on charges of racial agitation.

16/3/2011- Malmö district court has ruled that the poster does not fall foul of press freedom legislation and confirmed a not guilty ruling from March 3rd in favour of Carl P Herslow, leader of the Skåne Party (Skånepartiet) who faced charges of agitation against an ethnic group (hets mot folkgrupp). The poster included the text: 'He is 53 and she is nine. Is this the kind of wedding we want to see in Skåne?'. Herslow admitted producing the poster but contested the charges and argued to the court that the poster was intended to stimulate a debate about Islam, which he argued was incompatible with democracy and equality. The case had been brought by the Chancellor of Justice (Justitiekanslern - JK) - the country's top legal official and responsible for prosecution of cases involving freedom of speech. Prosecutor Bo Birgerson, representing JK, said that the distribution of the poster showed disrespect to Muslims. The poster was seized at a public meeting held by Herslow and the party in 2010. The Skåne Party is a small right-wing populist, anti-immigration party based in southern Sweden. The party was founded by Carl P Herslow in 1979 and was originally formed to protest the Swedish state radio and television monopoly and to advocate self-government for the province of Skåne. The party won 17 votes in the general election in 2010, claiming 0.8 percent of the vote in its home municipality of Malmö. The Local's calls to the Skåne Party for comment on Wednesday have not been returned.
© The Local - Sweden

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SÄPO WARNS SWEDISH IMAM OVER INTERNET THREAT AGAINST HIM (Sweden)

Swedish security service Säpo have expressed concerns about the safety of a Swedish imam who was recently hired by the Church of Sweden to work with teenagers at a Stockholm youth centre.

15/3/2011- Imam Othman Al Tawalbeh made headlines in Sweden last week after it was revealed that he had been hired to work with children at Fryshuset, a youth centre in Stockholm run by the Church of Sweden. The idea behind the appointment was to provide spiritual guidance for the couple of thousand children with a Muslim background who regularly visit the youth centre. But when foreign ministry officials discovered internet postings which portrayed Al Tawalbeh in a negative light, they reported the postings to the Stockholm police, who handed the matter over to Säpo. "They said that they are concerned for my welfare and that they are taking the matter seriously," Al Tawalbeh told local newspaper Helsingborgs Dagbladet. The texts, which are written in Arabic and have found their way into established Arab newspapers, describe Al Tawalbeh as an apostate, someone who has left the true faith. According to Al Tawalbeh, the author is Mahmoud Aldebe, a prominent Swedish Muslim who caused headlines in 2006 when he was advocating Sharia laws in Sweden. “He claims that most people think that I poison the true Muslim faith, that I will try to turn Muslim youngsters into Christians and that I advocate women’s rights,” Al Tawalbeh told HD.

Al Tawalbeh said he is used to being criticised but that this time it is more serious. “Family and friends are worried and have contacted me to find out what is going on,” he said. The police confirmed that Säpo has been in contact with Al Tawalbeh but told HD that it is too early to say how serious a threat he is facing. The Church of Sweden has also been criticised for the appointment of Al Tawalbeh. On Sunday two Swedish female priests wrote an article in the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper in which they questioned the appointment of an imam by a foundation run by the Church of Sweden. Annika Borg and Johanna Andersson argued in the article that a prerequisite of being employed by the Church of Sweden had so far been to share the same core values, whether employed as a priest or as a janitor. “It is our opinion that the appointment of an imam is unfortunate. It is a step taken too rashly and without proper consideration,” they wrote in SvD. Despite the possible threat, Al Tawalbeh is eager to be getting on with his new job and his first prayers are scheduled to take place at Fryshuset in Stockholm this coming Friday.
© The Local - Sweden

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HALAL OR HARAM? A NEW COUNCIL GIVES ADVICE TO MUSLIMS IN SWEDEN

The newly-formed Swedish Fatwa Council sets out to help Muslims in Sweden seeking advice about how to live in accordance with Islam, but not everyone is convinced the group is necessary, The Local's Karen Holst discovers.

14/3/2011- Is it halal or haram? Right or wrong? For the more than 450,000 Muslim living in Sweden, or about 5 percent of the total population, it may not always be easy to understand how Islamic practices are best applied in Swedish society. The group, known as the Swedish Fatwa Council (Svenska Fatwarådet), officially began in mid-2009 with 14 members, composed of educated imams and people with qualified experience in the field. “The most common questions we receive are related to relationship issues, marriage and divorce, economic issues, private issues of how to live as Muslims in Sweden and arbitration of conflicts,” says Saeed Azam, chairman of the Council. It is common practice that Muslims seek religious advice regarding how to live in the best, most constructive way where ever they are as well as how to interpret contradictory information. The word fatwa is commonly defined as a legal pronouncement in Islam that is issued by a religious law specialist on a specific issue.

Fatwas run the spectrum from basic - which foods to eat - to the modern – which music to listen to – to the political – positions on world terrorism. They are adopted to the specific circumstances, environment and time of a certain situation, as fatwas cannot be the same all over the world, in all times due to differing elements. The decrees also can be refuted or redefined by other Islamic scholars. For example, in 2001, Egypt's Grand Mufti issued a fatwa stating that the popular television show “Who Will Win the Million?”, modelled after the British show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”, was un-Islamic. The Sheikh of Cairo's Al-Azhar University later rejected the fatwa, finding that there was no objection to such shows since they spread general knowledge. The most notable fatwa to recently hit the global audience is the 600-page Fatwa on Terrorism, an Islamic decree against terrorism and suicide bombings released last year. This fatwa was a direct rebuttal of the ideology behind al-Qaeda and Taliban. It is one of the most extensive rulings to date, with an "absolute" condemnation of terrorism without "any excuses or pretexts" and even goes as far as to declare terrorism under Islamic law as kufr, or of a person who does not believe in Allah.

It was produced in Canada by the influential Muslim scholar Dr. Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri and launched in London last March. According to experts, this fatwa is a significant set-back to terrorist recruiting operations. Dr. Qadri said during the launch, "Terrorism is terrorism, violence is violence and it has no place in Islamic teaching and no justification can be provided for it, or any kind of excuses or ifs or buts." The Swedish Fatwa Council issued its first fatwa last year in response to the suicide bomb attack in Stockholm, condemning the act and describing it as not compatible with Islam. Back in Malmö, Azam believes there is a great need in Sweden for the Muslim minority to have such a council to turn to for advice in a context that fits the environment. “We know what it’s like to live in Sweden and the conditions that people live with here, we understand the challenges,” Azam says.

The Swedish Fatwa Council aims to have a geographical spread of qualified imams throughout the country to increase their reach. Within the Council they plan to establish the Fatwa Committee, which will consist only of imams who have earned at least a bachelor’s degree in Sharia, or the study of a system of laws derived from the Koran and the Prophet Muhammed’s actions. Sharia, however, can differ from country to country, and the interpretations of it can range from conservative to liberal. “It’s been a balancing act to find the right representatives, to avoid extremes,” Azam says. Today the Committee has nine such educated imams, who reference both the Koran and the Prophet Muhammad’s actions when answering questions about what is and what is not permissible under Sharia Law.

Since fatwas can differ depending upon the school and branch of Islam, the Committee will remain an odd number to ensure a majority vote when providing answers. Questions are submitted to the Council by letters and e-mails through their website. The imams plan to lean on authorities abroad when needed, rather than compete with the major fatwa centres of the Middle East and elsewhere in the world, such as the European Fatwa Council. The Council can then reshape those fatwas in a manner that is applicable to life in Sweden. However good the intentions though, not all are in favour of the Swedish Fatwa Council. “They are a little group without the real qualifications to be established here in Sweden,” says a representative from the Grand Mosque in Stockholm. “There are many other organisations that are properly established in Sweden to provide such counsel. This is not one of them.”

The Grand Mosque, which is run by the Islamic Association, fails to see the need in assigning its own representative to the group. The Swedish Fatwa Council’s biggest challenges thus are to earn the recognition and respect of the numerous Muslim factions and organizations within Sweden, as well as find representation that matches the nation’s diverse Muslim community. The Muslim Council of Sweden (Sverige’s Muslimska Råd - SMR) is regarded as the highest Muslim authority in the nation and serves as the influential umbrella organization to most registered Islamic groups in Sweden. SMR president Helena Benaouda says there's not a real need for the Swedish Fatwa Council or the need to have a fatwa for every little detail of life. She adds that while it's good for imams or groups of imams and educated individuals to think about how to best implement Islamic practices in Sweden, Benaouda warns against opinions and guidance coming from too narrow a field.

"We welcome all efforts to explain Islam in a European context but this group is still too little - they need to be much bigger and much broader," Benaouda says, adding that educated female representation also is important, which the group in Malmö currently lacks. The diverse Muslim community in Sweden includes large numbers of believers who originate from countries outside the Middle East such as Bosnia and Somalia. As of yet these groups do not have representation in the Council either. Despite views from those who are sceptical about the Fatwa Council and its ability to represent Sweden's diverse Muslim population, Azam is nevertheless optimistic about the Council's potential to serve as an important resource for Muslims in Sweden. "We believe we have the specialist knowledge needed, since the imams in our Council have the proper religious education," he says. "We want other Muslim minorities to be included in the Council in the future."
© The Local - Sweden

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CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATS CRITICISE CALL FOR RELIGIOUS SYMBOL BAN (Netherlands)

15/3/2011- MPs on Tuesday criticised calls from VVD MP Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert for a debate on the separation of church and state. The MP made the comments in an interview in the Pers newspaper, during which she called for a ban on Islamic headscarves and other religious symbols in public buildings. CDA MP Mirjam Sterk said a ban would conflict with the fundamental right to freedom of religion. 'What problem does the VVD want to solve with this?,' she said. 'This plan will work against the emancipation of women.' The CDA and VVD form the current minority coalition government.

Freedom of religion
André Rouvoet, leader of the orthodox Christian ChristenUnie also criticised Hennis. 'Yet another Liberal who considers freedom of religion to be unnecessary,' he said, using the microblogging service Twitter. D66 MP Gerard Schouw accused the MP of 'headscarf hobbyism' and said the VVD might as well merge with the anti-Islam PVV. The PVV wants a ban on Islamic headscarves in all public buildings. In the interview, Hennis-Plasschaert called for a thoughtful debate. ‘We talk a lot about the separation of church and state, but the church has become involved in the state in a lot of ways,' she said. 'Look at religious schools and the way public broadcasting is organised. That goes for ritual slaughter as well.’ The coalition government has already made concessions on Sunday trading with the fundamentalist SGP. The coalition may also rely on the SGP for majority support in the upper house of parliament.

VVD MP calls for debate on separation of church and state 
15/3/2011- There should be a ‘more reflective debate about the separation of church and state’, VVD MP Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert says in an interview with the Pers newspaper. The current debate is ‘too confined’ because ‘Christian parties are exerting pressure as well,’ the MP said. Hennis-Plasschaert pointed out that Islamic headscarves are banned in Turkish public institutions and universities, and that France has brought in a ban on headscarves in schools. ‘I would very much like to have that debate about when you can wear a headscarf,’ she said. The MP said a ban on religious symbols would cover all religions.

Schools
‘We talk a lot about the separation of church and state, but the church has become involved in the state in a lot of ways,' she said. 'Look at religious schools and the way public broadcasting is organised. That goes for ritual slaughter as well.’ The VVD is in a coalition government with the Christian Democrats and has made concessions on Sunday trading with the fundamentalist SGP. The coalition may also rely on the SGP for majority support in the upper house of parliament.
© The Dutch News

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POSITIVE RESPONSE TO DUTCH EU IMMIGRATION LAW PLANS, SAYS MINISTER

17/3/2011- Dutch efforts to change EU rules in order to tighten up immigration have been ‘positively received’ by ‘a number’ of EU states, according to a briefing sent to MPs by immigration minister Gerd Leers. Plans outlined in the government’s coalition agreement – which was drawn up together with the anti-Islam PVV – will require changes to at least five EU directives. The Netherlands has now come up with a position document outlining a number of concrete proposals to change EU law. The aim is to solve the ‘problems surrounding integration and the concentration of migrants in big cities,’ Leers said.

Free movement
However, according to the Volkskrant, the minister has admitted proposed changes to the European directive on freedom of movement are likely to be difficult to change because this lies at the core of the EU philosophy. European directives can be amended under qualified majority voting rules.

PVV
Opposition MPs have been sceptical about the chances of success since the new government took office. They see the changes as a gesture to the PVV, which has said a 50% reduction in non-western immigration is key to its support of the minority government. Many of the measures proposed by the Netherlands are aimed at stopping non-EU nationals using other European countries as a spring board to enter the Netherlands.
English translation of the position paper
© The Dutch News

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MAGENTA’S CYBER HATE BUREAU FILES ITS LARGEST COMPLAINT EVER ON ANTISEMITISM (Netherlands)

14/3/2011- Yesterday the Dutch-based MDI, an outfit that combats online hate, filed a complaint with the Dutch public prosecutors’ office consisting of 87 texts found on three websites owned by the same person. Jeroen de K., a former lawyer who was convicted last year for stalking the Prime minister of the Netherlands, owns the sites which are rife with Holocaust denial and antisemitism. The MDI already filed complaints in 2009 and 2010, but up to now the Prosecutor has not taken any action on that. 

Ronald Eissens, General Director of Magenta Foundation of which the MDI is a part: “The sites in question are ‘Holocaust denial & antisemitism central-station’ for the Dutch part of the Internet. Since the Prosecutor does not seem to understand the seriousness of this, we decided to select most of the illegal material on the sites and to make some noise. It’s the largest complaint we ever filed since our Cyber Hate bureau started operations in 1997”.

The prosecutor’s office announced today that it will take the very first complaint lodged by the MDI, in 2009, to court in ‘the last part of summer’. According to Eissens this is ludicrous. “For two years they did not take action. Now these sites have grown to enormous proportions and the prosecutor only wants to use the one text in our first complaint? We gave him a file of 87 highly antisemitic texts. Now he should get to work! Please!” Also two Jewish organizations have lodged separate complaints about the sites.
© I CARE News

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WILDERS' INCITMENT TRIAL (Netherlands)

WILDERS' INCITING HATRED TRIAL REOPENS
14/3/2011- The trial of MP Geert Wilders on inciting hatred and discrimination charges reopens on Monday. The original trial was halted last October after a number of irregularities that a law court panel said could be deemed prejudicial to the anti-Islam party leader. The trial is now reopening with a new panel of three judges. The Netherlands does not have jury trials. Monday morning’s proceedings will kick off with an opening statement from Wilders’ lawyer Bram Moszkowicz in which he will outline the legal arguments on why he believes Wilders should not stand trial.

Alliance
Wilders, whose party is in an alliance with the new government, is on trial in Amsterdam on charges of discrimination and inciting hatred against Muslims, Moroccans and non-Western immigrants. The trial centres on a number of statements made by Wilders over the years. In one, he likened the Koran to Hitler's book Mein Kampf and called for it to be banned. In another, he said: 'The borders will be closed that day for all non-western immigrants....We have to stop the tsunami of islamisation. It is affecting our heart, our identity, our culture.' In the earlier trial, the public prosecution department said Wilders should be found not guilty on all charges. The department had been ordered to take the case to court by the appeal court after a number of groups and immigrant organisations called on it to press charges.

'PROSECUTION WITHIN ITS RIGHTS TO TAKE GEERT WILDERS TO COURT'
16/3/2011- The public prosecution department is within its rights to prosecute Geert Wilders for discrimination and inciting hatred, the state prosecutors said at the MPs trial on Wednesday. On Monday, Wilders' lawyer Bram Moszkowicz said the trial should not go ahead because the department had taken too wide a remit. The department had originally refused to prosecute Wilders but was ordered to do so by the appeal court. The original trial was halted last year after a string of irregularities. A new panel of three judges is now hearing the case. They will decide on March 30 if there is a case to answer to. 

'SUPREME COURT PAVED THE WAY FOR CONVICTION OF WILDERS'
17/3/2011- The president of the Supreme Court last November restricted freedom of speech, as a result of which it could have been easier for other judges to get Party for Freedom MP Geert Wilders convicted. So, at least, suggests TV programme Uitgesproken WNL. The Supreme Court ruled on 23 November that a T-shirt with the slogan Combat18 constituted incitement to hatred and was therefore forbidden. According to WNL, the president of the Supreme Court, Geert Corstens, was personally co-responsible for this verdict. The Combat 18 verdict offers a handle for being able to convict Wilders of incitement to hatred, according to lawyer Gerard Spong. Spong, who is not a party to the Wilders court case, said that Corstens gives the impression with the verdict that he wants to achieve an accounting with the PVV leader "via the back door."

The accounting that Corstens is said to want to effect arose after Wilders sharply criticised the functioning of the judiciary last October, promoted by his own court case. About a week later, Corstens criticised the statements of the PVV leader on TV programme Buitenhof. According to the lawyer, Wilders undermined confidence in independent jurisprudence with his remarks. Wilders' lawyer Bram Moszkowicz also has doubts on the course of events. He said that his clients is "not amused." Moszkowicz considers it disquieting that members of the Supreme Court make statements about Wilders while his case might still come up there at a later stage. Moszkowicz also referred in this connection to last year's leaked memorandum by Diederik Aben, Solicitor-General to the Supreme Court. In this, Aben termed it wrong that lower courts honoured the request by Wilders to have the judges hearing his case replaced due to the appearance of bias. Wilders is currently on trial for incitement to hatred and defamation of Muslims. The case concerns statements that he made outside parliment, as within parliament, he enjoys immunity.
NIS News Bulletin
© The Dutch News

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HUMAN RIGHTS BODY SAYS REFERENDUM NEEDED TO PROHIBIT DISCRIMINATION (Ireland)

14/3/2011- The Irish Human Rights Commission has called on the Government to hold referendums to amend the Constitution to strengthen equality, women’s and children’s rights and broaden the grounds for prohibiting discrimination. The call comes in its report to the United Nations on Ireland’s human rights record as part of the UN’s process of Universal Periodic Review, which reviews the human rights records of all 192 member states once every four years. Ireland’s review before the Human Rights Council is due in October. Ireland will then have to answer questions raised by the UN council relating to civil, political, economic, social and cultural matters. The council examines that record and recommends steps to strengthen human rights. In its report, which will assist the council in examining Ireland’s record, the commission makes more than 35 recommendations aimed at addressing Ireland’s human rights deficit. It makes concrete recommendations on the rights of Travellers, migrants and asylum seekers, women, children, people with disabilities, people in poverty and prisoners. The report also deals with broad legislative and policy areas including health, education, immigration, criminal justice and social welfare.

Commission president Dr Maurice Manning said: “Key reforms at constitutional, legislative, policy and service level are required to strengthen human rights in Ireland. It is not acceptable that important human rights treaties that would increase protections for vulnerable groups, such as people with disabilities, migrant workers and people held in detention, remain to be ratified. “Drastic cuts in resources over the last three years to human rights and equality bodies have hampered their efforts to safeguard human rights and to hold the State to account. The uptake by the State of the IHRC’s recommendations would reduce the human rights deficit and strengthen protection for everyone, especially the most vulnerable in Irish society.” Among the commission’s recommendations are the recognition of Travellers as an ethnic group, with targeted measures to address health, education and accommodation needs; the processing of asylum applications speedily and in a transparent manner with greater protection for vulnerable migrant workers and an administrative scheme for the families of Irish citizen children in response to a recent judgment of the European Court of Justice.

It also urges the introduction of a comprehensive and well-resourced scheme of criminal and civil legal aid; the end of “slopping out” and overcrowding in prisons; increased availability of choice in schools, and human rights training for the civil and public service. “Human rights and equality are not optional extras for the good times,” Dr Manning added. “They become even more important in times of crisis when more people are struggling to make ends meet. “The policies of the State should not be a contributing factor to pushing more people into poverty. We are concerned that the cumulative effect of cuts to welfare and services targeted at vulnerable people are having that result and contradict the State’s policy goal of eradicating consistent poverty by 2016.” He said the commission should be made directly accountable to the Oireachtas.
© The Irish Times

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PRODUCER IS SUSPENDED IN TV DRAMA RACISM ROW (uk)

18/3/2011- It is the TV programme which made Thame and Haddenham famous across the country but a racism storm has now put the future of Midsomer Murders in doubt. Producer Brian True-May, who brought the show to Thame, was suspended this week for refusing to include ethnic minority actors in the show. He believed that it wouldn’t ‘truly reflect rural towns like Thame’ to have such diversity in the programme. The comments came out in an interview with The Radio Times where he said: “We just don’t have ethnic minorities involved. Because it wouldn’t be the English village with them. “It just wouldn’t work. Suddenly we might be in Slough. “We’re the last bastion of Englishness and I want to keep it that way.” Mr True-May has received some sympathy from the town’s deputy mayor Don Butler. He said: “I think that he has been treated a little unfairly as he is entitled to his own opinion. “But it is fair to say that there is some ethnic minorities living in Thame.” A pathway has been set up in the town based on the fictional show, which passes several places featured throughout the years. Historic landmarks such as the 16th Century Spread Eagle Hotel has been featured on the programme, as has some of the independent shops and tea rooms. But it is not yet known if anymore episodes of Midsomer Murders will be filmed. The decision is in the hands of the chiefs at ITV, who are still yet to decide Mr True-May’s fate. In response to the interview, an ITV spokesman said the broadcaster was “shocked and appalled” at the comments. In the 14 series of the programme, only a single ethnic minority character has appeared.
© The Thame Gazette

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SERGEANT GUILTY OF RACE HATE KEEPS HIS POLICE JOB (uk)

A police sergeant convicted of a race hate crime against a fellow officer has kept his job, The Herald can reveal.

17/3/2011- Strathclyde’s Gavin Ross was fined £500 at Dunfermline Sheriff Court last year after being found guilty of racially abusing an Asian colleague at a Christmas night out. However, the licensing sergeant has been told he can continue at his current position and rank after an internal police misconduct hearing. His victim, Sergeant Amar Shakoor, last night said he was “deeply disappointed” with the punishment meted out to Mr Ross, who has had to forgo an anticipated pay rise. Mr Shakoor, who is chairman of the Scottish Muslim Police Association, said: “He has been dealt with leniently. People who have committed similar offences got the sack. “The force is supposed to have a zero-tolerance attitude policy towards racism, islamophobia, sexism and homophobia, and they should stand by that. This decision does not instill confidence among minority officers or the community at large.”

The Strathclyde officers worked together at the Tulliallan police training college in Kincardine, Fife, until Mr Ross used a race slur against Mr Shakoor at a staff night out on December 10, 2009. Mr Ross denied making the remark but was overheard by another colleague at the dinner in the The Unicorn restaurant in Kincardine. It was alleged he called Mr Shakoor a “f****** Muslim b******”. But Mr Ross claimed he had been misheard and actually said he was “a f****** amusing b******”. Mr Ross last year told Dunfermline Sheriff Court that he, as a gay man, would never make offensive remarks of that kind because he himself had been the victim of hate crimes.

News that Mr Ross had not been drummed out of the force – or even demoted – reverberated around Glasgow’s Muslim communities yesterday. Some leading opinion-formers in the community last night expressed surprise that action against Mr Ross had not been tougher. Details of his misconduct hearing, however, are secret and it is not known what arguments he used in mitigation.

Humaz Yousaf, a list candidate for the SNP in May’s Holyrood elections, said: “Strathclyde Police enjoys a good reputation of engagement with the Muslim community. “There tends to be a policy of zero-tolerance for racial, homophobic or any other type of prejudice. “Therefore, it seems unusual such a lenient punishment has been meted out in this instance and it would be a shame if this had a detrimental effect on Muslim community relations, which Strathclyde Police have built up so effectively.”

Deputy Chief Constable Neil Richardson, who has overall responsibility for discipline, said: “This matter was dealt with by the courts and the officer was found guilty of a criminal offence and fined. “The fact we had a serving officer with a criminal record was, subsequently, the subject of an internal disciplinary inquiry. This was overseen by a senior officer adhering to strict guidelines. “Disciplinary action was taken against the officer.”
© The Herald Scotland

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EAST END GAY PRIDE CANCELLED OVER EDL CLAIMS (uk)

17/3/2011- A gay pride march in east London has been cancelled following allegations that one of its organisers had links with the English Defence League (EDL). The march was planned for 2 April but cancelled after organiser Raymond Berry was alleged to have links to the EDL. Mr Berry was unavailable for comment but it has been reported he no longer has links to the far-right group. The march was organised in response to homophobic stickers that had been put up in the Tower Hamlets area. Stickers warning "arise and warn. Gay free zone. Verily Allah is severe in punishment" appeared near to Tower Hamlets gay pubs and outside a school in Whitechapel, in east London last month.

'Divided' community
The Metropolitan Police said it was working with Tower Hamlets council and the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender community to investigate who was behind the stickers. Organisers said the gay pride event had been cancelled because of a "personal vendetta" by local gay campaigners. David Byatt, one of the events organisers, said: "It is with deep regret that the East End Gay Pride team have collectively decided to cancel the march. "The Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender community of east London should be working together to combat hatred of any nature." He said he found it "shocking" that other gay organisations had "continuously set out to divide the community". Gay campaigner and co-founder of OutRage Peter Tatchell said he feared the march would "be exploited and hijacked by the far right to create divisions and stir up intolerance against Muslim people". Rainbow Hamlets' spokesman Jack Gilbert said: "The cancellation is great news. "We're sure there will be a Pride event in London this year that will be inclusive of all communities."
© BBC News

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POSTPONE EAST LONDON GAY PRIDE (uk, press release)

* Call for Muslims and LGBTIs to unite against hate *East London Mosque urged to dialogue with LGBTI communities

16/3/2011- Commenting on the planned East London Gay Pride march scheduled for 2 April, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said:
"OutRage! is not supporting East London Gay Pride, following the revelation of links between some of the organisers and the right-wing English Defence League (EDL). I have also withdrawn my personal support. We fear the march will be exploited and hijacked by the far right to create divisions and stir up intolerance against Muslim people," he said.

"OutRage! opposes both homophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry. All forms of intolerance are wrong. The gay, Muslim, Jewish, Asian and black communities know the pain of prejudice and discrimination. We should stand together, united against hate. Let's celebrate East London's multicultural diversity. Don't let bigotry divide us. Together, we can defeat the hate-mongers. "While defending the right of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and inter-sex (LGBTI) people to protest against homophobia and the 'Gay Free Zone' stickers, it would be best if the march was postponed until a later date and organised by a broad-based grassroots and community coalition, untainted by associations with the EDL.

"Muslim organisations and speakers should be invited to participate in the rescheduled East London Pride.
"Sadly, the East London Mosque and its London Muslim Centre must bear some responsibility for previously stoking homophobia. They have hosted anti-gay hate preachers such as Abdul Karim Hattin who delivered a presentation called 'Spot The Fag'.  "Hattin is not the only homophobe who has been given a platform. So have anti-gay clerics Muhammad Alshareef, Abdullah Hakim Quick and Bilal Philips. "These fundamentalist hate preachers fuel a culture of homophobia that first and foremost intimidates and threatens LGBTI Muslims. Our Muslim sisters and brothers must be defended against those who advocate harming them. "We welcome the East London Mosque's assurance that it will not give a platform to anti-gay speakers in the future. We urge them to establish a regular, permanent dialogue with LGBTI organisations, including Muslim ones, to foster solidarity between the LGBTI and Muslim communities and to combat both homophobia and anti-Muslim prejudice.

"The vast majority of British Muslims are not fundamentalist fanatics. They don't support hate preachers. Although most of them do not approve of homosexuality, they do not discriminate or harm LGBTI people. We must be very careful to distinguish between Muslim people in general and the extremist minority who oppose democracy and human rights and who want to establish a clerical dictatorship," said Peter Tatchell of OutRage!, the LGBTI human rights campaign organisation.
© Peter Tatchell

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FALLING HATE CRIME FIGURES SPARK CONCERNS OVER UNREPORTED INCIDENTS IN NOTTINGHAMSHIRE (uk)

14/3/2011- Police and race equality campaigners are worried that hate crimes are going unreported in Notts – because recorded incidents have fallen so quickly. The number of hate crimes in the county dropped by 25.9% in 2010, with 1,610 recorded, against 2,175 in 2009. But, far from celebrating, Deputy Chief Constable Chris Eyre said this was a cause for concern. He said: "While all crime across Nottinghamshire has reduced significantly, it is difficult to explain why there has been a reduction in the number of reported hate crimes, but it does cause some concern. "We take hate crime seriously and want everyone to have the confidence to report it, knowing we will do something about it. "People should not have to suffer in silence."

Campaigners fear that changes to the way hate crime is reported and policed means some offences and incidents are not coming to the attention of authorities. A hate crime is any form of verbal or physical abuse that is motivated by sexual orientation, gender, disability, religion or ethnicity. Afzal Sadiq, chief executive of the Council for Equality and Human Rights, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, said: "I think the fact that it's 25 per cent less is not down to any reduction in incidents. I think it could be apathy [from the victims in reporting it] or it could be down to cuts and not enough police resources focused on this area. "I also think that some agencies, relevant and appropriate for reporting hate crime to police, are not pulling their weight."

A 24-hour confidential support line for victims of hate crime in the county was launched in November 2010. The Stop Hate UK helpline is supported by Nottingham City Council, the Safer Nottinghamshire Board and Notts Police. Mr Sadiq said a lack of public awareness of the helpline may also be a factor in the number of reported incidents. Safdar Asam, chairman of the police City Division Independent Advisory Group, said: "There is good work being done by police with ethnic minority communities, including the response to last year's English Defence League march, but a large number of people who experience hate crime do not report it to the police. "There have been studies to try and understand this issue. Some people do not understand that a crime has taken place. "It could also be a lack of confidence in the criminal justice system."
© This is Nottingham

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THE MULTICULTURALISM THE EUROPEAN RIGHT FEARS SO MUCH IS A FICTION – IT NEVER EXISTED (uk, opinion)

The state never backed cultural difference at the expense of cohesion. What is emerging is people's lived experience
By Gary Younge

14/3/2011- On 12 March 1983 A Sivanandan, one of the sharpest minds on the British left, gave a talk at the Greater London Council Ethnic Minorities Unit Consultation on Challenging Racism. "I come as a heretic, as a disbeliever in the efficacy of ethnic policies and programmes to alter, by one iota, the monumental and endemic racism of this society. There is nothing wrong with multiracial or multicultural education as such … But [it] has become the vogue … Government monies for pluralist ploys – the development of a parallel power structure for black people, separate development, Bantustans – a strategy to keep race issues from contaminating class issues." The left has long had a critique of multiculturalism. While Tories were still arguing for Nelson Mandela's imprisonment, there were progressive voices debating its inadequacies, limitations and potential. The notion that those who attack it today, in Britain or elsewhere, are slaughtering a holy cow is laughable. But Sivanandan was contesting something definite, whereas the target of the more recent onslaught is vague. Over the last decade multiculturalism, like political correctness, has come to mean whatever its opponents want it to, so long as they don't like it. Usually, the policies and dilemmas referred to are difficult to fathom or entirely invented. Ill-defined, the term is much-maligned – a lightning rod for the majoritarian impulses, cultural anxieties, economic insecurities and nationalist mythologies of the 21st century. Its contemporary critics keep telling multiculturalism's supporters to admit it has failed, without identifying what "it" is and who ever supported the lampooned version they present.

In this debate there are two types of multiculturalism: one rooted in fact, the other in fiction. The multiculturalism of fact is the lived experience of most people in Europe and the world. Cultures are dynamic, and emerge organically from communities. None exist in isolation or remain static. So the presence of a range of cultures in Britain or anywhere else is not novel, but the norm. This is not the product of our genius for tolerance as a nation but of constant negotiation. Take the Notting Hill carnival. It emerged as a response to racist attacks after teddy boys went on a "nigger hunting" spree in 1958. Today it is a mainstay of British culture, but it was once viewed as inimical to British culture. "Many observers warned from the outset that mass immigration from poor countries of substantially different culture would generate anomie, alienation, delinquency and worse," argued the Daily Telegraph in 1977. Its survival has little to do with government policy. Governments can barely clear snow or make the trains run on time. They cannot single-handedly create or thwart culture, let alone multicultures. The French have staked their founding revolutionary creed against the notion of multiculturalism. They are losing. Like it or not – and the state doesn't – it's a multicultural country. Germany insisted for two generations that it was not an "immigrant country": that didn't mean there were no immigrants there. Not recognising something does not mean that thing does not exist. It merely means you don't see it.

Moreover, these multicultural facts have nothing to do with race, religion or immigration. The Bretons in France, Basques in Spain, Bavarians in Germany and Sicilians in Italy are a few examples of cultural affiliations that thrive independently of the nations they inhabit. This is the multiculturalism many of us on the left, including Sivanandan, are defending. The right to assert autonomy and cultural difference underpinned by an understanding that national identity is just one among many identities and may well not be the primary one: an affirmation of plurality against calls for assimilation that attempt to first invent and then enforce "British values" and other national orthodoxies. Then there is the multiculturalism of fiction. This evokes a liberal, state-led policy of encouraging and supporting cultural difference at the expense of national cohesion. It champions practices, we are told, that have caused segregation, alienation and ghettoisation of racial and religious minorities. This, the argument continues, has laid the basis for an acceptance of abhorrent and barbaric practices, such as honour killings, forced marriages and female genital mutilation, that sacrifice the basic tenets of western, liberal civilisation and universalism at the altar cultural tolerance.

There are several problems with this framing but for now let us just deal with three. First, in most of Europe no such co-ordinated policies ever existed. In many places where "multiculturalism" is currently being read its last rites, it never actually lived in its professed form. "We never had a policy of multiculturalism," explains Mekonnen Mesghena, head of migration and intercultural management at the Heinrich Böll Foundation, responding to Angela Merkel's claim that the "multikulti" experiment had failed. "We had a policy of denial: denial of immigration and of diversity. Now it's like we are waking up from a long trance." In Britain, it is similarly difficult to discern precisely what critics are referring to beyond the activities of some local councils. In his most recent speech on the subject, David Cameron did not offer one concrete example. Second, the trend towards segregation is a myth. Asian Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus all marry outside of their own groups at the same rates as whites. For most ethnic minorities in Britain, roughly half or more of their friends are white while only 20% of those born in Britain have friends only from their own group. So even if the state were promoting separation, it clearly isn't working. Finally, who, with any credibility, on the left has ever supported the crimes described? Like "on-street grooming", "black-on-black violence" or the "down-low", such practices are specifically ethnic, racial or religious terms employed to pathologise a specific community in which every transgression is refracted through an ethnic or religious lens. Imagine we invented a term "toff bonking" to describe the infidelities of the upper classes, and then decried the epidemic every time Boris Johnson was caught in an indiscretion.

That doesn't seek to understate these problems but to recast them. Forced marriages are kidnapping; honour killings are murder. We have laws for these that should be applied without fear or favour. I've yet to hear anyone on the left argue otherwise. These ostensible liberal dilemmas seek to pit opposition to Islamophobia against support for liberalism as though they are mutually exclusive. But in reality they pose no challenge at all. You don't give antisemitism a pass if it comes from a Muslim any more than one would give Islamophobia a pass if it came from a Jew. If a state forces women to wear a burqa, we should oppose that. And if the state bans women from wearing a burqa, we should oppose that too. Because as feminists and progressives we believe the state has no right to tell women what to wear. That does not mean there are no problems. But it distorts the reality and misstates the true nature of the threat to national cohesion, which comes not from a fictitious multiculturalism but from the very real economic vandalism wrought by this coalition government. The decimation of public services will reduce the common space – be it schools or community centres – that we all might share, while growing inequalities will provide greater opportunity for scapegoating minorities. The multiculturalism of fact is rooted in considerable achievements of who we have become. The multiculturalism of fiction is rooted in the fear of what has never been.
© Comment is free - Guardian

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DANISH FAR-RIGHT RESISTS EU IMMIGRATION POLICIES

Danish nationalists have been angered by talk of bringing the country’s legal procedures toward immigrant families into line with EU policies, saying that recent EU rulings on the matter infringe on Denmark’s sovereignty. Right-wing politicians say Denmark should be allowed to make its own immigration laws

13/3/2011- Efforts to bring Denmark’s legal treatment of immigrant families in line with European Union policy directives and European Court of Justice, or ECJ, court rulings are drawing ire from Danish nationalists. Current EU policy, which stipulates that migrant workers be allowed to bring family members into their country of residence, has come under attack in recent weeks from far-right politicians calling for Denmark to take hold of its own sovereign foreign policy. “We’re seriously hoping that this EU rule will be changed to allow for Denmark’s sovereign foreign and migration policy to continue with tighter migration laws,” said Martin Henriksen, Parliamentarian for the right-wing Danish People’s Party. A European Council Directive from 2003 on the right to family reunification established the “right to family reunification by third country nationals residing lawfully in the territory of the member states” in a move that was aimed primarily at immigrants working in the EU who were separated from their spouses and family. A subsequent directive in 2004 further developed EU policy on the issue. These directives, along with a separate deal agreed upon in the 1980s between Turkey and the EU which specifically addresses the rights of Turkish migrant workers, which Danish judicial experts refer to as the “Ankara-deal,” outline a general EU policy on the issue.

Some have called for the “Ankara-deal” to be scrapped.
“Denmark must leave the Ankara deal,” Karen Jespersen, a former minister for the governing party and a current parliamentarian in the integration committee, told the press. “I would like to see if this deal will really have such impacts and understand whether there is a way out. As the situation is right now, we should take such evaluations very seriously.”

Denmark no longer exempt
The 2003 EU directive explicitly states that its policies do not apply to the United Kingdom, Ireland or Denmark. Recently, Denmark’s status as exempt from this directive has come under attack in recent years after rulings from the ECJ, and, most recently, a Danish court ruling. “Our own parliament should be deciding foreign policy and our laws about migration, not any other entity and especially not an EU deal with Turkey from the 1980s,” Henriksen told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review in an interview. “We need to be sovereign and decide for ourselves as these mistakes could have negative consequences for Danish culture and society.” In a 2008 ECJ case, Case C-127/08, it was found that the 2004 EU directive that protected the right of migrant workers to bring their families into the country had no exceptions among EU member states, and that the directive “precludes legislation of a member state which requires a national of a non-member country who is the spouse of a union citizen residing in that member state but not possessing its nationality to have previously been lawfully resident in another member state before arriving in the host member state, in order to benefit from the provisions of that directive.” A 2010 ECJ ruling reached a similar conclusion, and has been cited as evidence that the EU wishes Denmark to scrap its current legislation on immigrants. In the last two weeks, in what came as a surprise to some observers, a Danish court upheld the rulings of the ECJ despite protests from anti-immigration voices.

Following Brussels’ lead
While several politicians expressed concern about the ECJ ruling in 2010, experts note that Denmark is extremely unlikely to overturn the ruling or change the EU agreement as ministers could face accusations of “administrative wrongdoing.” “It is extremely unlikely that Denmark [can] change this ruling, seeing that it was decided by European member states at an EU level, making it practically impossible to change unless Denmark convinces all the member states,” Marlene Wind, an expert on EU juridical matters at the University of Copenhagen, told the Daily News. “More likely it is a political scandal about how the current government may have turned a blind eye to their European obligations while implementing unlawfully stringent migration laws.” Since 2002, Denmark’s conservative government has tightened migration laws through the implementation of what is commonly known as the “24-years rule” with support from the Danish People’s Party. The “24-years rule,” which took effect in 2002, stipulates that anyone who is under the age of 24 cannot marry a foreigner and bring them back to Denmark with the purpose of getting them citizenship. While the rule was initially billed as an attempt to prevent migrant workers from bringing “slave wives” from developing nations, particularly Pakistan, critics of the rule claim that such justification is just a pretense for dramatically restricting migrant family reunions.
© The Hurriyet Daily News

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FRENCH JEWS PROTEST MARINE LE PEN

15/3/2011- French Jewish leaders condemned the far right leader Marine Le Pen at a rally in Paris. Monday's rally was presaged by a French-Jewish radio station's plans to interview Le Pen, the daughter of notorious French politician Jean-Marie Le Pen and president of the National Front Party, which many French Jews consider anti-Semitiic. The interview was canceled amid broad community outrage. "It's sad to come to such an event to warn Jewish people against the National Front," said Pierre Besnainou, president of the Unified Jewish Social Fund, a Jewish welfare agency. Many French Jews see Le Pen as a somewhat more palatable but fundamentally unchanged politician from her father. In January, she gave an interview to the Israeli daily Haaretz and is believed to be trying to sanitize her party's image in an effort to make inroads with the Jewish community. At the rally, organized by the French Union of Jewish Students, several speakers emphasized that the National Front Party is structurally anti-Semitic and that Le Pen's efforts notwithstanding, French Jews should be careful not to give her their seal of approval. "I don't want to exclude the National Front from the republican debate, but to speak on community Jewish radio, there is a margin," said Richard Prasquier, president of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions known as the CRIF. "If the Jews host her, she is respectable." In 2002, Le Pen's father shocked the country by finishing second in the presidential election, defeating the Socialist candidate before being trounced by Jacques Chirac in the second round. Several polls over the past few weeks have indicated that Le Pen might be able to repeat her father's success in next year's elections. A poll published in Le Parisien earlier this month reported that 23 percent of respondents would vote for Le Pen in 2012, ahead of both French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the Socialist Party candidate, Martine Aubry.
© JTA News

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FRANCE'S LE PEN WANTS TOUGHER N.AFRICA MIGRANT ACTION

* Le Pen says EU leaders hiding from truth over immigration * Le Pen wants migrant boats turned back * Visit to Italy follows opinion poll boost

15/3/2011- The leader of France's far right National Front party blasted the "cowardice" of European leaders on Tuesday in the face of a likely wave of immigration into the EU from the turbulence in North Africa. Buoyed by opinion polls that show her making big advances ahead of next year's presidential election, Marine Le Pen said the thousands of migrants arriving in Italy in recent weeks pointed to more problems ahead. "The reality is that they don't want to see that what is happening in Lampedusa is probably the forerunner of very large scale immigration," she told reporters in Rome following a visit to the tiny island off the coast of Sicily on Monday. The recent upheaval in Tunisia and Libya has brought a new flow of arrivals to Europe's southernmost outpost with several thousand, mainly young men, making the often hazardous voyage in small, overcrowded boats since last month. After being housed in holding centres, most immigrants who are caught entering Italy illegally are eventually repatriated, depending on accords with their nations. Those claiming political asylum undergo a long process to determine if they have a case. Officials say the unrest in North Africa could lead to a massive influx of migrants who may have a legitimate need for international protection. Italian ministers seeking more help from their European partners have warned of an influx "of biblical proportions" and Le Pen called for migrant boats from North Africa to be turned back before they reached European territorial waters. "It's what the Tunisian and Libyan navies were doing systematically before the recent events without anyone being shocked by it at all," she said. Almost all of those arriving in recent weeks have come from Tunisia and there has so far been no sign of a major influx from Libya despite the bloody fighting between rebel fighters and troops loyal to Muammar Gaddafi.

No El Dorado
Le Pen took over leadership of the National Front in January from her father Jean-Marie Le Pen, who stunned France in 2002 by beating the Socialist Party candidate and getting through to the run-off in the presidential election won by Jacques Chirac. This week's visit to Italy coincides with a strong boost to her anti-immigrant party from an opinion poll which narrowly placed her ahead of President Nicolas Sarkozy. A sharp-tongued speaker who inherited her father's talent for political invective, Le Pen, 42, poured scorn on critics who she said were hiding from the truth that Europe could not afford to take more illegal immigrants. "I believe that respect for these people, who believe in an El Dorado which doesn't exist, demands that we tell them the truth," she said. "I'm not the one who doesn't respect these refugees, it's the moralizers from the nice parts of town who lie to them about what they will find." She said Arab countries should do more to handle the underlying problems that drove would-be migrants, most of them young men in search of work. "I don't understand why countries that live off the income from oil resources should be less involved that faraway countries, like ours whose economies have been weakened by the euro and globalisation," she said.
© Reuters

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PROTESTS OVER MARINE LE PEN'S VISIT TO REFUGEE ISLAND (Italy)

15/3/2011- The tiny Italian island of Lampedusa desperately needs more resources to deal with immigrants fleeing unrest in North Africa and arriving in its little harbour by the boat-load. What it got instead yesterday was a controversial visit from the leader of France's far-right, Marine Le Pen. She said she had come merely to observe Europe's frontline in illegal immigration, but was greeted with protesters shouting, "You're not welcome here" and sarcastic placards reading "liberté, égalité, fraternité". More than 8,500 migrants have landed on Lampedusa since Tunisia's revolution in January. The tiny outcrop of rock and sand in the Mediterranean – closer to Tunisia than Sicily – has a population of only 6,000 and its holding centre for immigrants has been filled to bursting point for weeks.

Ms Le Pen, the leader of France's National Front party, said she was visiting Lampedusa in her roles "as the leader of a major French political movement and a member of the European Parliament", following Italian ministers' warnings that Italy's southern border was bearing the brunt of a "Biblical Exodus" from North Africa. She was accompanied by Mario Borghezio, an MEP from Italy's anti-immigration Northern League party. "I only want to see at first hand what's happening in Lampedusa," Ms Le Pen told reporters "There's no intention to provoke." Lampedusa's mayor, Bernardino De Rubeis, met Ms Le Pen. "As far as racial hatred is concerned, everyone has his own personal style. Her father has his. She has hers. I am not going to judge her as a racist," he said.

But local Democratic Party councillor Giuseppe Palmeri condemned her visit. "We are demanding to know what on earth Lampedusa is doing inviting the leader of France's far-right who again today refused to renounce any of the National Front's anti-Islam or anti-immigrant policies or the death penalty," he said. "Her visit represents a real provocation for all the people of Lampedusa who believe in the Christian values of hospitality and human solidarity." Ms Le Pen spoke to two immigrants during a tour of the island's holding centre. "I have a lot of compassion for you but Europe can't welcome you," she said. "We don't have the financial means."

It is unlikely that all the people on Lampedusa share the protesters' views. Angela Maraventano, the deputy mayor, is a member of the Northern League. And in response to the crisis, 100 soldiers were dispatched to Lampedusa earlier this month to prevent the migrants from wandering the streets and to reassure nervous or bewildered locals, who feared for the island's status as a destination for sun-seekers and scuba divers.
© The Independent

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MIGRANTS SETTLE INTO PERMANENT STRUGGLE (Italy)

The momentous political events in North Africa have been accompanied by increasingly apocalyptic warnings from the Italian government of a mass influx of unwanted immigration from Tunisia and Libya.

13/3/2011- This focus on real and potential immigration has tended to obscure the ongoing struggle for the civil and political rights of immigrants inside Italy. In the last two decades non-EU migrants have come to play a crucial economic role in a society that often prefers to ignore and marginalise them. These contradictions are particularly glaring in the Lombard province of Brescia. With its elegant Renaissance porticos and creamy stone palazzos, its statues, museums, and sculptures, Brescia embodies the historical and cultural riches that attract so many tourists to the Italian north. But the province of Brescia is also home to some 200,000 non-EU immigrants, who constitute some 16 percent of the city’s population – the highest percentage of any Italian city. Most migrants live in the modern periphery of the city, working in the small and medium sized factories that once formed the base of Italy’s new found economic prosperity. Others work in construction and agriculture, or as domestic servants and carers for the elderly – jobs which before the recent economic crisis were seen by many Italians as beneath them. Many migrants have residence permits as a result of the Italian government’s periodic amnesties for undocumented workers, but some employers prefer to hire workers off the books who can be paid less and fired more easily. Both regularised and irregular migrants in Brescia often find themselves in circumstances that are no less precarious than their more publicised counterparts in the mafia-dominated agricultural sector in the southern mezzogiorno.

Undocumented migrants face the constant possibility of police identity checks and deportation. Since residence permits are dependent on the possession of a work contract, even legalised migrants can slip into irregularity if they become unemployed for more than six months. Nadeem Hussain arrived in Italy from Pakistan in 1996 on a boat from Greece as a 17-year-old teenager with no papers and no knowledge of Italian. Today he has a residence permit and runs a kebab and pizza takeaway in the town of Gavardo, near Lake Garda, where he also works as a trade union official. Nadeem has a wife and his two children were born in Italy. After fifteen years he cannot vote, and could theoretically be deported to his native country if his business went under. "I feel part of Italian society, but Italian society doesn’t feel the same way about me," he says. "If I had to go back to Pakistan, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself." This sense of being in Italy but not part of it is exacerbated by the xenophobic anti-immigrant politics of Umberto Bossi’s separatist Northern League. In the 2009 elections the League wrested control of the Brescia city council from the bookish mayor Paolo Corsini. A Catholic intellectual with communist convictions, Corsini was a strong advocate of integration, whose administration was undermined by a ruthlessly xenophobic campaign which blamed the city’s immigrants for crime and unemployment.

Since then Northern League councils have enacted a series of discriminatory anti-immigrant ordinances across the province. The tone was set in December 2009, when the Coccaglio town council ordered undocumented migrants to be excluded from public places throughout the festive season, in what its progenitors unashamedly called ‘Operation White Christmas’. Other Northern League towns have banned immigrants from speaking their own language in public places and compiled lists of houses where immigrants live for regular sanitary inspections. Last year the Gavardo town council removed benches from public squares where immigrants congregated and banned gatherings of more than three people. In September the mayor of the town of Adro ordered the League’s ‘Alpine sun’ logo plastered all over a local school, and stipulated that pork should be a compulsory ingredient of school lunches - a measure that was specifically aimed at the school’s Muslim children. The Northern League is not oblivious to the economic importance of migrants in the Italian economy – many of its supporters have no problem about employing migrant labour but they nevertheless have no desire to accept migrants as equal members of Italian society. Some of these ordinances have been blocked by the Italian courts, but others still remain. In Gavardo a local ‘bench committee’ made up of migrants and local residents is petitioning to overturn the Lega’s removal of public benches. Some of Brescia’s immigrants have resorted to more drastic measures to make their voices heard. Last December, five undocumented migrants climbed a crane above the new light railway line in the city of Brescia in protest at their continued irregular position.

All of the migrants had paid 500 euros to the state in an attempt to take advantage of the Italian government’s last amnesty in 2009. Some had been fleeced of up to 3,500 euros by unscrupulous middlemen who promised them work contracts that never materialised. For 17 days they lived and slept on the crane in an audacious protest that divided public opinion in Brescia and transfixed Italian society. Hundreds of migrants, and Italians including trade unionists, anti-racist activists and representatives of more than 40 Catholic associations, provided food and water to the migrants, transforming the phrase ‘siamo tutti sulla gru’ – we are all on the crane – into the slogan of a new movement of migrant solidarity and resistance. "It was a very risky protest," says anti-racist activist Louise Bonzoni. "It came close to becoming Italians versus foreigners. Some people were very much against it, but many citizens supported it." That movement has not disappeared. On March 1 some 200 migrants participated in the national ‘day without immigrants’ protest in the Piazza della Loggia, the traditional centre for public gatherings in the city. Developed for the first time last year by a group of Italian activists and migrants, this innovative protest is intended to demonstrate the contribution of Italy’s migrants to Italian society through strikes in the workplace and a withdrawal from other spheres of activity, such as shopping and consumption, telephone calls and even sending children to school.

The demonstration in the Piazza della Loggia fell a long way short of the 10,000 people who filled the square last year. One of those who participated was a young Pakistani named Haroun, one of the five migrants who climbed the crane. Haroun and his comrades had been persuaded to come down by the promise that the government would examine their demands. More than three months later, none of them have received their papers. For Haroun – and for so many of Italy’s migrants – the struggle for civil and political rights is not a choice, but a practical necessity. "We don’t have an army or anything to protest with," he says. "We only have our words, and we will never stop until we get our rights. If they don’t give us our rights, then we’ll go up the crane again."
© IPS-Inter Press Service

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MIGRANT ISLAND PUTS EUROPE ON EDGE (Italy)

13/3/2011- Thousands of Tunisians landing on a rocky Italian outcrop have put Europe on edge about the fallout of North Africa's revolts -- and a visit by a French far-right leader is set to raise tensions. After a revolution in Tunisia in January sparked uprisings across the region, around 8,000 undocumented immigrants have made the perilous journey to the island of Lampedusa -- more than the total for the whole of 2010. While the island's fishing communities have been patient with the wave of weary migrants arriving on rickety boats, Lampedusa's 850-bed immigrant centre is heavily overcrowded and local authorities say the island has been overrun. And there are fears now that the strife in Libya will open the floodgates and bring hundreds of thousands more migrants -- a concern that Europe's leading anti-immigration advocates have been quick to seize on. Given by recent polls as a favourite in France's presidential election next year, France's National Front leader Marine Le Pen is set to visit Lampedusa on Monday with Mario Borghezio -- a lawmaker from Italy's Northern League party. As she prepared for her trip to the 20-square-kilometre island that has a population of just 6,000 people, Le Pen said she wanted to see the front lines of the immigration crisis to "get an idea of what's going on." "I have no intention of being provocative," Le Pen said in an interview with Italian news agency ANSA.

Local lawmakers from the centre-left opposition Democratic Party are not convinced. "It's a real provocation for all Lampedusans who believe firmly in Christian values, hospitality and human solidarity," they said. Migrants usually only stay a few days on Lampedusa and are then put on ships or planes to immigrant detention centres across Italy. An agreement with Tunisia on returning those not granted asylum has fallen through since the revolution, meaning thousands are stranded. Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni, also from the Northern League, has warned that some of the 1.5 million people trying to flee Libya could be headed for Italy's shores -- and Italy can't cope on its own, he says. "Europe is being invaded," Maroni has said in one of many dramatic comments. But Maroni too, said Le Pen's trip should not "throw fuel on the fire" of a delicate situation on the gorund in Lampedusa. "We will ensure it is not used as propaganda for French domestic politics," he said.

There are major divisions in Europe on how much burden-sharing there should be on immigration, with many northern European states sceptical. "Europe's job is not to rescue North Africans from their own governments... and bring them to Europe," Andrew Brons, an MEP from the far-right British National Party told the European Parliament last month. When in late February Italy called for more EU help to handle the problem, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said: "There's no refugee influx right now. Let's not provoke one by talking about it." Germany and the Nordic countries have refused funding for a budget for the EU border management agency Frontex big enough to buy boats, helicopters and planes to help North African country's control their shores. In an interview Wednesday with French daily Le Midi Libre, Le Pen called for a three-way agreement with Spain and Italy to take a ruthless approach to incoming boats and use military vessels to tow them straight back. The measure, she said, would help save lives: "If we should welcome even just one of these boats without taking it back to the country it came from, we would be sending out a terrible signal to 'try the adventure'." But Jean-Pierre Cassarino, a professor at the European University Institute, said simply turning the boats back or expelling migrants from Europe were not solutions that addressed the social and economic reasons for migration. "They are short-sighted policies that are aimed at responding to emergency situations. They are responding to consequences, not causes. The approach has be reviewed," Cassarino told AFP.
© AFP

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SCHOOL CRUCIFIXES 'DO NOT BREACH HUMAN RIGHTS' (Italy)

18/3/2011- Displaying crucifixes in schools in Italy does not breach the rights of non-Catholic families, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled. The court ruled there was no evidence that a crucifix hung in a classroom would influence pupils. The ruling overturned a previous decision made in November 2009, which angered the Roman Catholic country. Friday's decision was welcomed by Italy's foreign minister as a win for European "popular sentiment". "The decision underlines, above all, the rights of citizens to defend their own values and their own identities," Franco Frattini said, according to Italy's La Repubblica newspaper. "I hope that following this verdict Europe will begin to examine issues of tolerance and religious freedom with the same courage," he added.

'Historic decision'
The Vatican too welcomed the decision. Its spokesman Federico Lombardi called it "an important and historic ruling". The original case was brought by a Finnish-born mother-of-two who said public schools in the Italian town where she lived refused to remove the Roman Catholic symbols from classrooms. The hanging of crosses in public buildings is not compulsory in Italy but it is customary. Soile Lautsi had argued that the crucifix violated the secular principles the public schools are supposed to uphold. But the final decision by the Strasbourg-based court's Grand Chamber said it found no evidence "that the display of such a symbol on classroom walls might have an influence on pupils". Her husband said the family was disappointed and "disillusioned" by the ruling, saying it showed that the court did not respect the principles on which Italian society is built. "Freedom of religion, freedom from discrimination, freedom of choice are fundamental principles and in this case they weren't respected," Massimo Albertin told AP from the northern Italian town of Abano Terme. Friday's ruling focused on Italian public schools, and does not automatically force other countries to allow crucifixes in the public schools, according to the court. But the ruling will affect all 47 Council of Europe member states as citizens in other countries who want religious symbols in classrooms could use it as a legal argument in national courts. National governments could also the ruling as a justification to change laws on religious symbols. In its earlier ruling the court had decided that the crucifix could be disturbing to non-Christian or atheist pupils.
© BBC News

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ROMEA: HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS BACKED THE ROMA, MAYOR AND POLICE BACKED THE NEO-NAZIS IN NOVÝ BYDŽOV (Czech Rep.)

14/3/2011- The ROMEA, o.s. civic association expresses its outrage at the activities of the Police of the Czech Republic and the municipal authorities of the town of Nový Bydžov during Saturday's action by the DSSS and the neo-Nazi groups National Resistance and the Autonomous Nationalists. We very much appreciate and thank everyone who protested in Nový Bydžov against neo-Nazism and racism.

ROMEA, o. s. demands the Czech Interior Minister's Inspectorate investigate the proportionality of the police intervention against the non-violent gathering on Na Šarlejích street in Nový Bydžov.
ROMEA, o. s. demands a thorough investigation of the subsequent neo-Nazi attack on three Roma people and primarily strongly demands that this attack be legally requalified as racially motivated.
ROMEA, o. s. demands the appropriate authorities investigate the failure of the Czech Police and the local municipality to take action against the violations of law committed during the gathering of the DSSS and neo-Nazi organizations in Nový Bydžov.

The aim of the event convened by the Nový Bydžov is not alone! Initiative was to protest neo-Nazism, racism, and the actions of the municipal authorities who have been exploiting the tactic of advocating the principle of collective guilt. The event also wanted to support local Roma and show them that many other people are standing with them.

ROMEA, o. s. appreciates that the Nový Bydžov is not alone! Initiative brought people from various parts of society, of various ethnicities, various religions and various ideologies to the streets of Nový Bydžov. Standing with approximately 70 local Roma people were representatives of Roma communities from the entire Czech Republic (from Havířov, Orlová, Prague and Northern Bohemia) and members of various organizations concerned with human rights, as well as political parties (the Green Party, the Czech Pirate Party) and many individuals. ROMEA o. s. protests the claims of the Nový Bydžov town hall and some media outlets that this was a gathering of anarchists or a left-wing gathering. The protest was also attended by some former or currently serving politicians, officials, and Human Rights Commissioners, such as the chair of the Green Party, Ondřej Liška, Džamila Stehlíková, Michael Kocáb, Czeslaw Walek, Martin Šimáček of the Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion, etc. We express our great recognition of the local Roma people who, despite constant pressure from the town hall, managed to lift up their heads and stand up for their rights. We want to thank everyone who participated in the protest for their participation and for their strict adherence to the nonviolent character of the action as a whole. Special thanks to Ondřej Liška, who took initiative on the scene and tired to get the DSSS gathering dispersed.

ROMEA, o.s. believes the gathering of the DSSS and the neo-Nazi National Resistance and Autonomous Nationalist initiatives was unconstitutional. One of the main points in the court's ruling to dissolve the Workers' Party was the fact that it collaborated with these and other violent neo-Nazi initiatives. The ongoing collaboration of the DSSS with these groups is evidence these relationships still exist and was an obvious reason for the Mayor of Nový Bydžov to have ordered the dispersal of the gathering. Some individuals were wearing symbols of the banned Workers' Party, others were shouting racist slogans, and these were other reasons which should have unequivocally led to the DSSS gathering being dispersed at the scene. According to the information available to us, there was no court expert or state attorney present at the scene whose advisory opinion could have been used to justify dispersing the DSSS action. Mayor Pavel Louda's actions during this event were not those of an impartial representative of the municipality, but those of a backer of the DSSS and militant neo-Nazi initiatives. When the people who were nonviolently blocking the path of the neo-Nazi march were dispersed, the police used what in our view were disproportionate means and many of the demonstrators are reporting police brutality.

The counter-protesters proceeded completely nonviolently and with restraint. Their blocking of the path of the neo-Nazi march was the commission of a mere misdemeanor. In order to get them out of the way, the use of ordinary means of force by police would have been completely adequate. Dispersing the crowd by charging horses at them and the use of stun grenades and collapsible truncheons was unnecessary. We consider this approach by the commander of the intervention to have been intentionally selected to terrorize as many demonstrators as possible. The commander of the police intervention committed other actions that are less difficult to understand. First he advised Ondřej Liška and the other people known to the media to file an official motion to disperse the DSSS action at the local police department. He waited until Liška and company (together with several journalists) had left and then gave the order to disperse the blockade.

ROMEA, o. s. believe the police also failed after the DSSS action had officially ended. Even though the police spokesperson assured the public that police were ensuring the security of all residents of Nový Bydžov even after the DSSS gathering, neo-Nazis attacked three Roma people. These violent men have only been charged with "rioting".

On behalf of the ROMEA civic association:
Jarmila Balážová
Zdeněk Ryšavý
František Kostlán
Radka Steklá
František Bikár
Jitka Votavová
Milan Kováč
© Romea

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AN EYEWITNESS REPORT FROM THE SCENE OF THE BRUTAL POLICE INTERVENTION IN NOVÝ BYDŽOV (Czech Rep.)

By Karel Richter

13/3/2011- I consider myself to be a democrat, heart and soul. I was raised in the tradition of Masaryk's First Republic to understand that freedom is not something automatic, but something one has to push for. In the fall of 2007, my wife and I and several friends participated in a gathering of people of good will on Maiselova street in Prague. That afternoon, when we gathered there in large numbers, a march of neo-Nazis from the Czech Republic and Germany was supposed to take place in that street. The neo-Nazis had properly announced their march through the Jewish quarter of Prague, but thanks to our gathering it did not take place, because we nonviolently blockaded the street. At the time I experienced a wonderful feeling of belonging together with all of the people who were on Maiselova street. I felt that civil society was not only working, but that it had managed to stand up and defend minorities. Recently I read on the internet that the neo-Nazi "Workers' SS Party" wanted to march through the small town of Nový Bydžov together with militant and radical Nazi organizations. The march would take place directly on the streets where impoverished Roma people live.

I luckily then found the information that the "Nový Bydžov is not alone!" Initiative had been created and had announced its own demonstration there on the same day the Nazis would be marching. It was clear to me that I must go there to support this initiative and its blessed, non-violent activities. My wife warned me before I left: "Be aware that you won't be demonstrating in support of the Jews, who are 'in fashion', but in support of the Gypsies, whom most people hate, including the police who will be intervening there." She had enormous foresight. After a smooth trip from Prague to Nový Bydžov, I arrive at the slab of concrete that ends U hřiště street. It is already full of people, whose number I estimate to be 150. I join the crowd. People are debating whether our demonstration will do any good. It was not originally announced to pass through the streets where Roma people live, which is where the Nazis want to march. A bus drives up with the last participants. One of the organizers takes the floor and dryly tells us that "the demonstration we announced will not take place, we are canceling it." A young woman then stands next to him and he says, "I am here to introduce this clergywoman, who has just decided to hold a religious gathering and procession, religious gatherings are not subject to the law on assembly and that means the police must allow the procession she leads to go anywhere it wants." The young clergywoman then takes the floor: "Friends, dear brothers and sisters, let's go together to the square where the church is, let's pray together there, please follow me" and heads toward the square. People in the crowd are beaming.

Right around the first corner, our peaceful procession is stopped by riot police. We have to wait there for one hour. They are not prepared for the alternative of a religious gathering and don't know what to do. They bring the secretary of the local municipality there, but he is not a lawyer and is unable to take a stand. In the end, the lawyer for the Initiative wins the debate and the police officers allow the procession to continue after his verbal pressure. We pass through the street - or rather, the narrow alley - called Na šarlejích, which is where the impoverished Roma people live, and head toward the church near the square. People are boisterously waving to us from the windows. We are carrying banners that read "Neo-Nazism is no solution", "VandaSS get a job" and the flags of the Green Party and the Pirate Party. There are several hundred of us by now. Our procession reaches the small park in front of the church, 50 meters in front of the square. The clergywoman invokes a prayer and several people speak into the megaphone. They call on those present to be nonviolent and warn against the dangers of Nazi ideology. Nazis gather on the other side of the police cordon and yell at us. The clergywoman says "Let's go back to the street by the playground where our religious gathering will conclude" and sets off. Our crowd follows her.

After several minutes we are once again walking through the alley of Na šarlejích street. The Roma people in the crowd spontaneously stop. "These are our homes and our families, we will remain here". Most people decide to stay with them and support them, while a smaller group leaves with the clergywoman. I remain in Na šarlejích street. We put our banners on the ground and sit on them. Everything takes place in total calm, completely nonviolently. I am sitting on a banner that reads "We don't want (neo)Nazis in Ústí" next to a 50-year-old woman and her daughters. We talk and I learn that they are anti-fascists and Pirate Party members from Ústí nad Labem. They and their fellow Greens from that town explain to me that we have already won. The Nazi march will be dispersed, the police have no reason to intervene against a nonviolent blockade, and the Nazis will not be able to march over us. They have experienced this situation several times in the German town of Dresden, where reportedly similar blockades of Nazi marches take place every February. They say all we have to do is sit for a few hours until the time comes for the Nazi march. Thermoses of hot coffee and tea are passed around.

The police commander speaks to us. He asks us to open the way for the Nazi march and warns us we are committing a misdemeanor by staying in the street. Green Party chair Ondřej Liška finds a perch and addresses the crowd through the megaphone: "Friends, thank you for your courage. You may be committing a misdemeanor by sitting on the ground here, but 100 meters from here on the square the Nazis are violating the Constitution with their gathering. I am going to the police station to file a motion for the DSSS demonstration to be dispersed." The crowd applauds and chants "We will wait here!". Liška, Kocáb and several other "VIP" demonstrators get in a car and drive away to the police station. One minute after they drive off, the police officers start to get into military formation. The center of the formation is a unit of riot police on horseback. A wave of unease spreads through the demonstrators. "Quick, stand up! They're sending horses at us, get up, they'll trample you!" people are shouting. We all stand and link arms, forming a human chain. The police horses set off at a gallop and charge the crowd with brutal force. Their riders, armed with long night sticks, swing at the demonstrators willy-nilly. The body of one of the horses throws me aside and pushes me against the alley wall. The crowd is separated into two parts, each pressed against the walls of the alley, with the police riders in the center charging people and beating them with their night sticks. I hear the smacking noise as one of the riders breaks the nose of a young girl standing next to me with his night stick. She is bleeding profusely. I want to help her but I can't, I can't get to her, the police rider is swinging his arms at me and luckily misses my head by a few centimeters, but air brushes my face as the stick swooshes past.
Police officers then start using tactical explosions, throwing stun grenades into the tangles of people who are shouting with fear, pressed to the walls, being sliced at by the police riders. People are screaming with fear like animals and running away. I run about 30 meters and look around me. Some demonstrators who were closest to the stun grenades when they exploded have remained on the scene. They are completely disoriented, deafened, they are tottering around in confused circles. Riot police on foot rush out of the clouds of smoke and knock these deafened and disoriented people the ground, handcuffing and arresting them. Another charge, more explosives. I run as fast as I can and don't stop until I am out of that hellish street. Most of the demonstrators have fled into the lower part of Havlíčkova street, where the police immediately set up a new line of cordons and close off Na šarlejích street. On the lawn a few meters away from the riot police, an improvised triage station is set up. Many people have sprained ankles, bruises from the night sticks, abrasions and burns from the police explosives. The demonstrators are treating each other while police look on without offering any assistance or medical aid. One demonstrator is seriously injured. His leg has been completely thrashed by a horse's hoof. I ask him how he managed to get out of there with his injury. He says he must have run somehow. We call him an ambulance.

I talk with a demonstrator with an enormous beard who is my age (a 50-year-old) and we share a cigarette. He tells me that he was on Národní třída in Prague on 17 November 1989 with the students. I ask him, if he were to compare these two interventions, what he would say. He answers: "This was worse, on Národní třída the cops didn't have horses".
© Romea

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ROMA ACTIVIST UNCONSCIOUS AFTER EXTREMISTS' RALLY IN CZECH TOWN (Czech Rep.)

12/3/2011- A Roma man suffered a head injury and lapsed into unconsciousness when three Roma activists and 13 far-right extremists clashed after a rally of the extremist Workers' Party of Social Justice (DSSS) Saturday, police spokeswoman Ivana Jezkova told CTK. She said the Roma was taken to hospital with a concussion. His life is not threatened, a rescue service member told CTK. Jezkova said the police detained the extremists. Some 500 far-right extremists and 200 opponents arrived in the town Saturday. The extremists marched through Novy Bydzov without clashing with with the opponents whom the police forced out. The police said one person suffered bruises during the police action against about 200 opponents of the DSSS. The DSSS claimed it staged the march at the request of Nový Bydžov inhabitants who fear for their security. The march was also attended by DSSS chairman Tomas Vandas, who previously headed the Workers' Party (DS) that was outlawed in February 2010. The situation in the town came to a head last November after several people were assaulted and one young woman raped. A petition calling for the local authority to provide for security in the town was signed by 3257 out of 7000 inhabitants. Mayor Pavel Louda (Civic Democrats, ODS) issued a statement in reaction to the petition in which he sharply criticised the local Roma and announced a series of measures against unadaptable inhabitants. A total of 1000 demonstrators were expected to arrive in the town Saturday. Hundreds of police, including riot and mounted police members, were on alert. They also had a water cannon at their disposal.
© The Prague Daily Monitor

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ANTI-SEMITISM MANIFESTATIONS IN RUSSIA IN 2010

Contents (18/3/2011)
Introduction
Attacks and vandalism motivated by anti-Semitism
Public actions of anti-Semitic orientation
Popularity of anti-Semitic views
Anti-Semitism manifestations on the part of authorities
Use of anti-Semitism in election campaigning 
Anti-Semitic books and publications in mass media 
Anti-Semitism in religious sphere 
Use of pseudo-human rights rhetoric by nationalists 
Response of authorities to anti-Semitism manifestations 
Public against anti-Semitism
Russian Orthodox church against anti-Semitism
Law-enforcement practice 

Introduction
Anti-Semitism was still a constituent of radical nationalism in 2010. Being a complicated historical-social phenomenon, anti-Semitism is a conglomeration of various beliefs that are transformed in the course of historical process and are in permanent dialectical interaction. In modern Russian religious, conspirological, “anti-capitalist”, and common everyday constituents of anti-Semitism are still distinctly expressed. At the same time one can speak about practically complete absence of state anti-Semitism – this became possible due to radical changes iin social-political and economic life of Russia during recent 20 years as well as due to principled position of highest officials. Ideological anti-Semitism is expressed in specific unlawful actions. Though number of attacks on Jews remains minimal and even decreased as compared with 2009, number of vandalism acts towards premises occupied by Jewish organizations is still quite substantial as well as number of cases of dissemination of anti-Semitic leaflets and graffiti.

Activity of Russian national-radicals is still high. Neo-Nazi groups that are actually active in every Russian megalopolis are structured, ideologically trained, technically equipped and orientate themselves toward most aggressive actions against representatives of ethnic minorities, foreigners and public figures-antifascists. The fact that anti-Semitic constituent occupies considerable place in ideology of radical nationalists, is demonstrated by availability of anti-Semitic slogans at Russian marches on November 4 and at Manezhnaya square on December 11, mentioning of Jewish fascists in appeal of so-called Primorye partisansâ. Interrogations of public opinion show that about a half of country population is infected by anti-Semitic prejudices to various extents.

Like during previous years, publication of anti-Semitic literature actively develops in Russia and, despite protests of human rights activists, literature of this kind is still sold quite freely at book fairs and in many respectable bookstores. Penetration of anti-Semitic theses into books pretending to be tutorials seems especially dangerous. Only two cases of this kind were recorded in 2010 but one can't be positive that these cases are single. A scandal with the textbook "History of Russia 1917-2009" written by professors of Moscow state university A. Barsenkov and A. Vdovin and containing some anti-Semitic stock phrases was the most notorious event of such kind. At the same time the story with mentioned textbook demonstrated demoralization of scientific community of historians: some of them (including dean of historical faculty of MSU S. Karpov) preferred avoiding to discuss the textbook and some of them, taking refuge in the notion of academic freedom, even spoke in defense of nationalistic textbook that is often based upon forged documents. The textbook was officially condemned just due to tough position of some members of expert commission formed by historical faculty of MSU.

Law-enforcement practice activates in Russia, the authority and society apprehend the problems of intolerance and hostility more realistically. More and more often representatives of federal and regional authority speak with condemnation of xenophobia and extremism problems. But this criticism is often of gentle or abstract character and does not lead to real actions. Besides, Russian authorities do not usually mark out anti-Semitism among other xenophobia manifestations, and so statements directed right at counteraction to anti-Semitism can be seldom met among tough anti-xenophobic statements regularly pronounced by authority representatives. In rare cases of direct statements connected with anti-Semitism subject, they relate mostly to the sphere of international politics – for example, in connection wwith attempts to rehabilitate Nazi collaborators in Baltic countries, in Ukraine. Suspended sentences are a considerable share of sentences passed in the sphere of law-enforcement practice on charges of xenophobic statements and actions. Like with the practice of inflicting penalties for sale of pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic produce, such sentences practically make no effect upon behavior of delinquents and criminals. Some judicial decisions can't be treated but like connivance to radical nationalists. On the other hand, in some cases law-enforcement bodies charge some persons with xenophobia and anti-Semitism without proper grounds.

Attacks and vandalism motivated by anti-Semitism
Number of attacks on Jews (or persons who were considered to be Jews by the assailants) was minimal in 2010: just 2 cases of this kind were recorded (as against 8 in 2009). This is the evidence, on one hand, of decline in level of anti-Semitism (total number of attacks motivated by xenophobia reduced approximately by 10% and number of the dead reduced almost two times), and on the other hand, of the fact that Jews, if they are not distinguished by clothes characteristic for believers, remain hard to be identified by most nationalists. Number of desecrations of Jewish graves is also minimal as compared with recent years – just one case was recorded.. However number of vandalism manifestations motivated by xenophobia at the cemeteries generally reduced abruptly – MBHR monitoring recorded just five succh cases. Probably the circumstance that the guilty are sentenced to real terms of imprisonment now also played its role. Number of cases of attacks on premises occupied by Jewish organizations (or vandalism manifestations towards these premises) still remains considerable: 13 attacks (29%) that had anti-Semitic motives were recorded from among total number of 45 attacks.

Like during previous years, numerous cases of dissemination of anti-Semitic leaflets and graffiti were recorded in 2010. Their specific weight in total number of recorded incidents of this kind is very high – 49 cases of 109 (45%), and this is the evidence of notable place of anti-Semitism in ideology of nationalists. Anti-Semites started using new methods – like for example threat to explode a theatre where the oppera "Hebrewess" had to be on. On January 9, 24 and 27 and on February 1, 3 and 16 anti-Semitic graffiti were recorded in Ulyanovsk. On January 24 in St. Petersburg two persons were detained who drew swastika and made inscription "We are back!".
On January 26 and 27 threatening phone calls to Yekaterinburg synagogue took place and on February 1 anti-Semitic graffiti were discovered near the synagogue.

On February 4 and 16 anti-Semitic graffiti were discovered in Tomsk.
On February 9 attack on a religious Jew was committed in Ulyanovsk.
On February 18 in Mikhailovsky theatre of St. Petersburg premiere of opera "Hebrewess" was postponed due to a threat of explosion: before the premiere unknown person phoned to the theatre and stated that "the theatre would explode before beginning of performance"
On February 26 it became known that in Naro-Fominsk town (Moscow region) unknown persons drew symbols similar to Nazi attributes.
In February-March 2010 in Khabarovsk drawing of xenophobic (anti-Semitic and anti-Caucasian) graffiti was recorded.

On March 12 it became known about drawing of swastika on the walls of several houses in Petrozavodsk.
On March 12 anti-Semitic graffiti were discovered on the wall of house in Izhevsk where the Community center of Jewish culture of Udmurt Republic is located.
On March 15 an inscription of extremist contents was made and swastika was drawn with a marker on the door of central entrance into financial-economical college of Yuryev-Polsky town (Vladimir region).
On March 17 anti-Semitic posters appeared in the streets of Tver where the following was written under a portrait of Chief rabbi of Russia Berl Lazar: "Remember that your main enemy is JEW! As soon as you see him – BEAT him at once!".
On March 21 in Nizhnedonskoy settlement (Rostov region) a monument to Lenin was spilled with paint and swastika was drawn on it.
On March 29 an imitation of bomb with swastika was found in St. Petersburg underground.

On April 20 in Petrozavodsk three students of local college and lyceum made nationalistic inscriptions in honor of Hitlers birthday on the walls of accommodation houses.
On April 20 in Ulyanovsk an inscription "Death to Jews" with drawing of swastika appeared in several city districts.
On April 21 in Shadrinsk town (Kurgan region) anti-Semitic graffiti were discovered on faĐ·ade of office building under construction.
In the evening of April 22 a group of persons made inscriptions and drawings with fascist symbols on the territory of Pavlovsk park (Leningrad region) with paint. Also inscriptions and drawings with fascist symbols were discovered on the structures of a bridge near Northern building of palace, on the walls of pavilion Cold bath, on uprights of gates with vases and at the slope to the bridge of Centaurs.
In April three drawings of swastika at least were discovered in Moscow.
In April in Mikhailovsk (Stavropol region) anti-Semitic inscriptions were made on a monument to Lenin.
On April 26 and June 12 in Tyumen a word "terrorist" and the Star of David were drawn on a monument to Lenin.

On May 5 it became known about discovering of swastika in Ulan-Ude, not far from the monument "Hospital Buryatia".
On May 9 and 10 two attacks on the synagogue in Ulyanovsk were committed.
On May 20 in Rostov-on-Don fans of Zenith who shouted anti-Semitic slogans had beaten an employee of TV channel "Russia Today" Roman Kosarev.
On May 28 visitors of Moscow superstores found stickers with drawing of swastika on cheeses and cottage cheese from Lithuania.

In June Ufa Jewish community center was desecrated.
On June 12 Nazi graffiti were discovered in Yaroslavl.
On June 17 criminal proceedings were instituted concerning the fact of drawing of fascist symbols in the form of swastika and Nazi slogans in Tosno town (Leningrad region) on the facade of a house near Samson shop.
On the night of June 21 homemade explosive device went off in Tver near synagogue building. As a result of explosion, entrance to the synagogue premises was partially destroyed.
On June 24 a synagogue in Krasnoyarsk was subject to an attack; as a result of attack, one of windows was broken.

On July 15 it became known that in Znamensk (Astrakhan region) a wall of building of kindergarten No 5 was covered with black paint with drawing of Nazi symbols in the form of swastika.

Early in August in St. Petersburg café "Call of Ilyich" Nazi swastika and inscriptions "Thief", "Killer", "Obscurant" were drawn on enormous advertising portraits of Lenin.
Early in August anti-Semitic graffiti were discovered near one of railway branch lines in Moscow.
On August 11 it became known about discovering of anti-Semitic graffiti in St. Petersburg.
On August 25 it became known that inscriptions and drawings of fascist symbols were discovered on the walls of one of shops and coach station of Malaya Purga village (Udmurtia).
On August 27 it became known that a monument to heroes-disaster fighters of disaster at Chernobyl NPP was desecrated with a drawing of swastika in Ryazan.
On August 29 it became known about discovering of Nazi graffiti drawn on children's sandpit in St. Petersburg in one of yards in the city outskirts. Graffiti were drawn two weeks earlier at least.
On August 30 in Kaliningrad unknown persons spilled a bronze bust of Karl Marx with paint and drew swastika and inscription "We are back" on pedestal.
On the night of August 30 unknown persons pelted the Sohnut building in Khabarovsk with stones. As a result, several windows were broken.
Late in August unknown persons drew fascist swastika with a subscription "We are back" a little below on a well-seen part of fence near an entrance to restaurant Akyar that is famous in Salavat (Bashkiria).

On September 19 an inscription "Power to Russians!"appeared across the street of building of Perm Legislative Assembly and red and white swastikas - right below it.
On September 27 in St. Petersburg at Nevsky avenue a resident of Moscow was detained who drew swastikas.
Late in September windows were broken in a house in Barnaul where rabbi Kamenetsky lives.

On October 5 it became known that swastika appeared on a garage belonging to a war veteran in Dimitrovgrad (Ulyanovsk region). 
On October 12 anti-Semitic graffiti appeared on Barnaul synagogue again.
Early in October in Naberezhniye Chelny anti-Semitic leaflets were stuck.
On the night of October 18 in Kaliningrad unknown persons wrote anti-Semitic slogans all around the city center.
On October 26 it became known that in the center of Yekaterinburg dozens of trees in Green grove beloved by Yekaterinburg residents were covered with drawings of swastika and Nazi slogans.
Late in October a splash of xenophobic and anti-Semitic graffiti was recorded in Rybinsk.
On October 31 in St. Petersburg an inscription "Russia is for the tsar" and fascist swastika made with paint appeared on the wall of Alexandrinsky theatre.

In the morning of November 7 anti-Jewish inscriptions and drawings including drawing of crossed-out Star of David and inscriptions: "Death to yids!", "Holocaust is a tall tale", "Adolf was right!" were discovered on the wall near an entrance to synagogue located in the center of Barnaul. And an inscription "Take a long switch and turn the yid out to Palestine!" was made near an entrance to neighboring alcohol produce shop.
On November 7 in the center of Khomutovo settlement (Orel region), near district administration, unknown persons desecrated a memorial and a military burial place with inscriptions of fascist orientation. Fascist swastika was drawn on a pedestal of monument to V.I. Lenin.
In mid-November an inscription "Holocaust – this is fun" appeared on a facade of one of Nizhny Novgorod houses. Figures 14/88 – a code slogan of white nationalists – were placed side by side with the inscription.

Public actions of anti-Semitic orientation
On February 28 in Samara members of local Union of Russian People took part in meeting against growth of housing tariffs, duties and taxes. Chairman of URP branch stated in his speech that the events happening today – this is the "result of terrorist coup in 1917 when Zionists, Bolsheviks headed by Lenin-Blank, Leiba Bronshtein (Trotsky), Kaganovich and those of their ilk caught power in our country. Their name is Legion. This gang of killers overthrew legal authority that was given by God, killed the Tsar Nicolas II and his family ritually". This was followed by statements that those who are discontented with what's happening in Russia today are convicted under clause 282 of CC, and number of such convicts already reached several thousand; after that a demand of restoration of autocracy and "ethnically-thinking Russian authority" was advanced.

On April 25 in Moscow a meeting of nationalists for revocation of clause 282 of the Criminal code took place. Its organizers were: Party Motherland-Common sense (M. Delyagin), Russian Public Movement Peoples Council, Russian civil society, Russian verdict, Union of Russian People (B. Mironov), Resistance. The meeting manifesto written by T. Mironova (B. Mironov's wife) reproduced a myth that A. Koptsev who arranged a slaughter in synagogue at Bronnaya in 2006 allegedly inflicted some scratches on two Hebrews in synagogue under very strange circumstances. Anti-Semitic slogans were recorded at the meeting: nationalist V. Kralin noted in his blog that the meeting participants were "obsessed with speculative yid-freemason-Zionist" as an "establishing Other".

On May 5 in Revda town (Sverdlovsk region) local resident being drunk swung a flag with Nazi symbols at his balcony.
In July St. Petersburg nationalists from DPNI wanted to place banners on buses telling about defeat of Khazarian khaganate by Kiev prince Svyatoslav – this is interpreted by nationalists as a victory over Jewry. But advertising agency at the transport rejected their placing of corresponding poster "due to possible ambiguous public response to this layout".
On July 19 during the festival of pagans Ethnofest at the river Sok (Samara region) campfires in the form of swastika were made. After protests of participants, organizers decided to smooth out angles of swastika.

On November 4 colonel V. Kvachkov stated in his speech at Moscow 'Russian march': "398th anniversary of victory over Yid-Polish-Swedish yoke is celebrated today. We drove Swedes and Poles away from Kremlin. Who stayed there? Yids!", the crowd responded. The slogans screamed out by the march participants included also "Death to yids!". Frankly anti-Semitic slogans were heard also at the 'Russian march' in St. Petersburg: "Tolerance is a weapon of world Zionism", "No to new Khazaria".
On November 7 quite a few anti-Semitic slogans were recorded at the meeting of veterans of airborne troops at Poklonnaya hill: "Khazarian khaganate would not succeed", "Jewish fascism! There is nothing more terrible today!".

On December 11 at Manezhnaya square anti-Semitic slogans were also recorded. Those assembled chanted: "Down with Jewish authority!" and an inscription "Beat the yids!" appeared on the wall of entrance lobby of trade complex 'Okhotny ryad'.

Popularity of anti-Semitic views
According to the data of interrogation conducted by research agency Bashkirova and partners and published on May 13, 2010, 25% of Russians do not agree to live side by side with Jews. However there are also more undesirable neighbors than Jews (these are homosexuals (66%), Gypsies (60%) and labor migrants (40%)). On the other hand, 40% did not desire to have left and right radicals as their neighbors.
According to VTsIOM interrogation the data of which were published on August 27, 2010, 46% of Russians showed dislike of the idea that their relatives would marry Jews answering a question about interethnic marriages. Though the idea of a Jew-spouse causes less dislike than a prospect of marrying Chechens (65%), Arabs (63%), natives of Central Asia (60%), such a high index is an evidence of wide-spread popularity of anti-Semitic phobias in the society.

Anti-Semitism manifestations on the part of authorities
Anti-Semitic statements were mostly committed by KPRF representatives.
On April 17 deputy of the State Duma from KPRF Alexey Bagaryakov placed an article devoted to a "Jewish problem" on official KPRF website. He noted that "due to their nature, the Jews have high intellect and inventiveness. But is not just for to this reason that they achieve big successes in business and public service: a feature characteristic for the Jews plays considerable role here – mutual support in career promotion". Then the parliamentarian lamented that "the Jews are about 2% of total population size of Russia but at the same time they occupy key positions in the state, business and creative sphere". "The rest of population, its biggest part, and first of all a native nation – Russians – can't but feel alerted by this", A. Bagaryakov stated. The article caused such a celebrated scandal that it was removed from website soon.
On June 4 KPRF leader G. Zyuganov sent a telegram to the Chairman of St. Petersburg court V. Yepifanova in support of convict nationalist K. Dushenov trying to press upon the court on the eve of examination of Dushenov's cassational appeal.

Use of anti-Semitism in election campaigning
Opponents of the famous nationalist V. Alxnis who ran for a position of the head of Tuchkovo settlement near Moscow in March 2010 played the card of anti-Semitism. He was called both Jew-Hassid and Lett fascist and Lett Gauleiter, they wrote that hatred towards Russians is implanted tight in genes of Letts. The slogan "Stand for protection of Tuchkovo from aliens and heterodoxies" was one of the most wide-spread at these posters. However this propaganda did not prevent Alxnis from winning the election.

Anti-Semitic books and publications in mass media
On January 27 on website 'Russian line' an interview of the Jew-anti-Semite I. Shamir appeared who announced that the Holocaust allegedly turned into some "secular religion" and became "part of total victory of absolutely new ultra-liberal paradigm based upon denial of rights of majority to please rights of minorities".
"I don't see a connection of holocaust with any real events of time of the Second World War but I see that the holocaust is connected with ideological turnabout nowadays", I. Shamir stated. On January 28 the interview was reproduced by website 'IslamNews'.

Early in February 2009 so-called 'Russian informational center' headed by famous racist A. Savelyev issued its next annual report "Russo-phobia in Russia. 2009". Anti-Semitic propaganda became an element of A. Savelyev's report: allegedly Judaism leads to abyss for an Orthodox Christian person – not just to "destructive state" but to destruction of everything that is holy in the man, to destruction of soul. Absolutely unreliable data about service of "up to 150 thousand"Jews in Wehrmacht were presented in the report as well as a fraud that was disclosed long ago about 10 thousand Jews that were taken prisoners by the Soviet army during the Great Patriotic war (it fact these were members of so-called 'workers' battalions of Hungarian army who mostly went over to the Soviet army themselves).
On February 1 in 'Komsomolskaya pravda' an interview was published taken by journalist D. Steshin from the head of European Jewish congress Vyacheslav Kantor. In this interview Steshin tried to impress on the reader that international Jewish organizations do not speak with condemnation of patronage of former Nazis on the part of Baltic countries. In the record in his blog that was made on the same day Steshin stated that theft of signboard from gates of concentration camp Auschwitz was a "PR-campaign that was cunningly started on the eve of liberation of Oswiencim".

On March 31 on forum of Orthodox fundamentalists 'rusidea.org' one of its participants accused the "world qahal" that arranged "ritual slaughter", of arrangement of terrorist acts in underground on March 29.
On April 8 writer-nationalist Alexander Prokhanov, speaking on the radio Echo of Moscow, reproduced calumnious anti-Semitic stock phrase that using Holocaust "pressure, exploitation and control of the whole continents" take place: at the same time Prokhanov underestimated number of victims of the Holocaust two times.
On April 18 Orthodox fundamentalist M. Nazarov saw a "Jewish hand" in death of the President of Poland L. Kaczynski on April 9 with the grounds that a delegation of rabbis had to fly together with Kaczynski, and they refused to fly on the last moment. On April 24 he also accused the "world coulisse" inspired by anti-Christian ideas, of genocide of Armenians.

On June 8 an appeal to colonel Kvachkov on behalf of so-called 'Primorye partisans' appeared on the Internet. This appeal – Kvachkov hastily dissociated himself from it – stated: "We are dying to suffer from outrage of the world coulisse that does terror on our land. … We, special mission units of airborne troops, rose for armed struggle against occupants of our country. We already carry on armed struggle against them KILLING THESE CORRUPT LOUSES … We rose against Jewish fascism like our glorious grandfathers and fathers rose in 1941 against German occupants …". This document seemingly devoted to the problems that are far from Jewry demonstrates visually the extent of integration of anti-Semitism into nationalists' outlook.

On August 19 M. Nazarov placed an article on his website devoted to anniversary of Antonov's uprising in Tambov province where he stated: peasants' uprisings during the Civil war were of anti-Semitic character as "the Jews often headed food detachments and anti-church commissions". A little below M. Nazarov writes about commissars «that were trained on Talmud and 'Shulchan Aruch'», "yids-commissars" and "Russian Holocaust" arranged by Jews.

Early in July on some nationalistic websites and blogs publications appeared devoted to supposed anniversary of defeat (on July 3, 964) of Khazarian khaganate by Kiev prince Svyatoslav (946-972) that is interpreted by nationalists as victory over Jewry. “Judaic” and allegedly “parasitic” character of Khazaria and its orientation on selling Slavic slaves were stressed. Thus the readers' impression was created that Jews were set against Russians with enmity long since. "On this day, from now on and forever, we – Russians - would celebrate the Victory day over Judaic Khazariia. This Victory made possible further existence itself and physical survival of Russian people", one of articles stated.
On July 5 and 6 in two articles that were published on website of prohibited organization 'Slavic union' an accent was also made upon parasitic character of Khazaria and Judaism of its rulers. Proscription of Jews from some countries was called a "fair ethnic policy of reasonable rulers".

On September 16 a scandal broke out in Perm when it turned out that stickers with Hitler saying "We would conquer Russia when Ukrainians and Byelorussians believe they are not Russians" were stuck in public transport within the project 'Wisdom of the world' implemented with support of city culture committee. However the authorities removed stickers from transport operatively and confiscated the rest of copies from the campaign organizers.

Penetration of anti-Semitism into books pretending to a title of educational literature can be noted. Early in the year a scandal broke out around two-volume edition 'History of Russia'. 20th century published being edited by professor of Moscow institute of foreign relations A. Zubov. The textbook uses various myths, historical and pseudo-historical patterns created within the White movement and Russian emigrants including frankly anti-Semitic ones. The textbook section titled 'Jews in Civil war' begins from the words: "Considerable part of commissars and chekists who conducted the red terror were Jews". Reservation that most of Russian Jewry were as far from Communists as most of other peoples of Russia is actually leveled by the following passages that actually repeat White Guardists' anti-Semitic propaganda: "But under conditions of civil war in Russia, especially in its Southern regions, in Ukraine, at Don and in Bessarabia where traditions of anti-Semitism were quite strong, it was the very participation of Jews in the red terror that caused special hatred of population. And the Bolsheviks that paid no attention to such 'trifles' as nationality of their commissars just poured oil on the flame. For example, in Kiev extraordinary commission that was notorious due to its sadistic mass cruelties, Bolsheviks-Jews made up three quarters of 'personnel'. Being alienated from Jewish community, these people however tried to spare their congeners due to numerous ties of relationship, and this could not but increase anti-Semitism of Ukrainians. Commissars Kogan and Rutgaizer were appointed even to positions connected with control over the church in Kiev, and it was prohibited to baptize, marry and bury according to Orthodox ritual without their permission". For justification of participation of soldiers of the White army in pogroms, it is diffidently noted in the book that far from all the soldiers and officers of White armies could 'distinguish criminals-commissars from Jewry innocent of any crime' and a mellow picture of combat of white command against pogroms in the South is drawn (then the question remains undecided – how numerous pogroms committed by the White armmy could take place?). At the same time number of victims of pogroms is underestimated by the textbook authors four times at least (it should be noted that this tutorial is already used in two seminaries of Russian Orthodox church).

A. Zubov, in his controversy with A. Krasilshchikov who collected memoirs about Jewish pogroms arranged by Cossacks from Mamontov's corps during their raid along the rears of the Red army in 1919, stated that idea of "general extermination of Jews in the zone of actions of general Mamontov's corps is a doubtless and very big exaggeration". He reproduced an anti-Semitic myth presented in the textbook that "some Soviets, punitive squads and extraordinary commission departments in Ukraine, at Don and in Crimea were Jewish up to three quarters-four fifths" though he admitted that overwhelming majority of Jews of Russia were not with Bolsheviks.

On February 18 it turned out that St. Petersburg state university of communication lines included a work by nationalist Yu. Mukhin Harassment: "who doesn't like patriots" (M.: 2009) into the book list when purchasing books for scientific-technical library.

On March 10-15 at VVTs in Moscow an exhibition-fair 'Books of Russia' took place. Despite special statement of organizing committee of the exhibition that appealed "to show respectful attitude towards ethnic and religious feelings of colleagues and visitors allowing no exposition and sale of books propagating ethnic and religious intolerance", long-term regretful tradition of use of book fairs for propaganda of xenophobia was continued. The fair participants included publishing house 'Russian truth' that suggested anti-Semitic and racist literature for sale. At the stand of another publishing house, 'Algorithm', books by radical nationalist B. Mironov convicted for incitement of ethnic dissension several years ago, by publicist O. Platonov who is 'denouncing' allegedly existing "Jewish conspiracy" for many years, Holocaust denier Yu. Graf, anti-Semite I. Shamir were sold.

On April 1 it became known that the book by Hitler 'Mein Kampf' was included into section "Necessary materials for students" on website of historical faculty of Omsk state university. Going along the provided link, one can easily download full text of the book without any comments and restrictions.
Early in July a scandal broke out around the textbook 'History of Russia 1917-2009' by A. Barsenkov and A. Vdovin containing a number of anti-Semitic stock phrases about 'Jewish domination' in the USSR, about deportation of Crimean Tatars in 1944 for clearing place for planned Jewish republic etc.. A. Vdovin himself hurried to state that the textbook includes "just reliable facts and " and that he "treated the Jewish problem very carefully". However the scandal went on in autumn and finished with a decision of Academic Council of MSU about withdrawal of the textbook (see below).

On September 1-6, at Moscow international book exhibition-fair that took place, xenophobic literature was broadly presented. It was sold at stands of publishing houses 'Alva First', 'Algorithmâ', 'White alvas', 'Book world', 'Russian truth', 'Encyclopedia of Russian civilization'. The 'novelties' included a book by Black-Hundreder P. Bulatsel "Combat for truth", book by ex-leader of DPNI A. Belov (Potkin) "Kondopoga forever", issue 2 of journal "Problems of nationalism". Management of Moscow international book exhibition-fair traditionally took no steps able to protect the international book fair from turning into a center of propaganda of hatred.

Anti-Semitism in religious sphere
Consistently anti-Semitic position is occupied by bishop of Syktyvkar and Vorkuta Pitirim who obviously aspires to occupy a position of leader of radical wing in Russian Orthodox church (ROC).
On January 26 bishop Pitirim stated that he did not agree with warning of office of public prosecutor to the newspaper 'Eparchial bulletin' about inadmissibility of extremist activity for anti-sectarian publication. The bishop stated: "We will take a firm stand, we will go to death but we would not reject the Holy tradition. And it's a fun that trials are arranged against us following such warnings. So we do not agree. Or let them remove Korans and Talmuds then".

On August 28, speaking at eparchial conference 'God and the world evil in aspects of world globalization', the bishop made an example of participation of a member of 'yid-freemasonic lodge' Andrey Bogdanov in presidential election in Russia for confirmation of a thesis of "activation of dark forces of the world coulisse". And discussing the relations of the Orthodox with the non-Orthodox the bishop, quoting St. John Chrysostom, called for resisting the evil by force and, meeting "yid or heretic", for "sanctifying your hand with a wound and beating him into his lips or into his cheek".
However bishop Pitirim is not alone in his statements. After the anti-Semitic almanac 'Third Rome' published by the organization RONS was acknowledged an extremist material, press secretary of Vladimir-Suzdal eparchy archimandrite Innocentius (Yakovlev) stood up for it.

In March-April in Yekaterinburg confrontation started concerning restoration of St. Catherine temple at Labor square. On March 31 deputy of Yekaterinburg city Duma Kabanov cited in the news of TV agency of Ural (TAU) his conversation with organizer of protests against construction of the church L. Volkov: "… do you imagine what people would ssay about you – that ones, an international gang of Russians and Jews and impossible to understand who else, came, destroyed the temple and killed the priest. I asked him what was his nationality – Jew – and do you imagine that people woulould say then that another Jew came and did not let build – would this be normal for you?".

On May 9 archbishop of Russian Orthodox church (one of churches being alternative to ROC) Viktor (Pivovarov) stated in his sermon: "Is it a holiday for us Russian people – May 9? This day is a tragedy … For the sake of what did the war begin? Because Stalin was preparing to attack Germany. It was already Trotsky who made an attack on Poland. He wanted to occupy Warsaw, Berlin and make an axis of the 'great revolution'. And he received a good beating there, and there was silence then. But they were preparing to occupy Berlin anyway. And this was the very reason for starting of war. And as for Hitler … these are two rabid dogs – Nazism and Bolshevism – that came to blows, and the whole world was dipped into grieve, and blood, and tears. And so what is this 'victory'? Even if Hitler would win, it would be better. We would not bear him for a long time – a foreigner. What kind of 'freedom' we have? No freedom, the same crucifiers are a burden to Russian people, they just had changed color, and that's all". Speaking about 'crucifiers' V. Pivovarov evidently meant Jews.

Use of pseudo-human rights rhetoric by nationalists
Examination of the tutorial by professors of MSU A. Barsenkov and A. Vdovin initiated by the Public chamber became the main object of pseudo-human rights rhetoric on the part of nationalists and their situational allies from among Communists.

As the protectors of the textbook could not refute eloquent citations from it, they preferred another way: to create a picture of 'defamation of Russian scientists' being false but attractive for some part of public, to force panic with their statements about total restriction of freedom of speech and possible danger for A. Vdovin's life, to draw parallels between actions of totalitarian regimes and activity of PC of RF, they tried to create a negative portrait of Nikolay Svanidze heading the Commission of the Public chamber. Anti-Semitic notes also slipped out in this campaign though they were quite subdued as its organizers tried to look respectably and gain public support.
On September 7 Ye. Kholmogorov stated in his comment for nationalistic web-portal APN about revival of some "dual ethnocracy" in connection with "case of Barsenkov-Vdovin (it became clear from further words of Mr. Kholmogorov that speaking about 'ethnocracy' he meant Jews and Chechens who allegedly control Russian authority), and this 'ethocracy' allegedly "acted quite effectively against Russia and Russians in 1995-1999".
On September 8 nationalist K. Krylov ascribed a confession to the lawyer M. Musayev (who won excuses due to anti-Chechen passages in their book from Vdovin and Barsenkov) that Chechens are allegedly «used against us by "the nation that is greatest in the world"» (i.e. by Jews).

On September 13, at open public hearings 'Russian history of 20th century – freedom of research or freedom of persecution?', editor of journal 'Problems of nationalism' Sergey Sergeyev stated that Vdovin was attacked as a "Russian historian" and that support of Vdovin is an "ethnic matter". He accused representatives of "two corporations – Jewish and Chechen that united here" of attack and added: "Combat of ethnic corporations (mafias) against Russian culture is on" .
'Union of Russian People', after passing sentence on K. Dushenov, published a statement where Dushenov's actions were interpreted as "resistance to the evil". Statement authors demanded "to stop issuing warnings and instituting criminal proceedings under clause 282 for expression of Orthodox doctrine" (i.e. for anti-Semitic statements covered up by words about Orthodoxy), and to include Judaic literature into Federal list of extremist materials as they consider it to be misanthropic. They also demanded to include URP member V. Osipov in Expert council under Ministry of justice of RF for conduction of the state expert examination based upon religious studies.

Response of authorities to anti-Semitism manifestations
Russian authorities usually do not distinguish anti-Semitism among other xenophobia manifestations so statements aimed right at counteraction to anti-Semitism almost can't be met among regular pronounced tough anti-xenophobic statements of authority representatives. In rare cases of direct statements connected with anti-Semitism subject they relate predominantly to the sphere of international politics – for example, in connectioon with attempts of rehabilitation of Nazi collaborators in Baltic countries, in Ukraine.
On January 26 member of the Federation Council Vladimir Slutsker informed that a detailed diary of Oswiencim prisoner Zalman Gradovsky who worked in sonderkommand that burned corpses of prisoners, was prepared for publication on the occasion of 65th anniversary of liberation of concentration camp by Soviet troops. The senator took part in international conference that took place in Polish Krakow with participation of deputies of national parliaments. Main subject of the conference is non-admission of revision of history and revival of fascism on the European continent.
"A decision was made at the conference that united more than 150 parliamentarians from 30 European countries that Gradovsky's diary would be translated into other European languages and published in several countries of Europe", Slutsker stated. It is noted in the conference resolution that "Gradovsky's records are a shocking truth told by eye-witness of tragedy about daily practice and monstrous technology of genocide arranged by Nazis". The diary of Oswiencim prisoner can be ranked among most important documentary evidences of the Holocaust, the senator noted. The book was prepared for publication in Russian by historians within the project of international parliamentary organization uniting deputies of national parliaments of European countries responsible for bilateral ties with Israel.

On January 27, on the International day of commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, the President of RF Dmitry Medvedev sent a message to participants of memorial activities devoted to 65th anniversary of liberation of concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau ('Oswiencim'). It was told in the message of the President of Russia: "Generations that did not see horrors of war must know about them. And we must all understand what exorbitant price the mankind paid for connivance to xenophobia and chauvinism. To remember that six million people were killed due to their nationality – just due to the fact that they were Jews. Acccording to the plan of fascists, their fate had to be repeated by one third of population of occupied territories at least. Already 65 years passed since the time when fascism was defeated but the voices of those who try to justify crimes of Nazis, rank victims with butchers, liberators with occupants are still heard. And some countries go even further – they make heroes of Nazi accomplices. SSuch attempts of revision of history are inadmissible, and we must unite our efforts in combat with them. We must know resolutely that indifference, nonchalance, the same like oblivion of lessons of the history, finally lead to tragedies and crimes. And trust and mutual assistance permit withstanding the most dangerous threats … Tragedy of the World War II remains a bittter warning today. Protection of peace and freedom on our planet is in our hands. And we are all responsible together for this in front of current and future generations".

On the same day the governor of Bryansk region Nikolay Denin met the head of Bryansk regional Jewish community-charitable center Hesed Tikva Irina Chernyak. " present my frank condolences. We will always hold sacred the memory of those who died during the years of the World War II. We will do our best to make anti-Semitism, falsification of history go to the past forever", N. Denin stated. Strengthening of inter-religious relations, assistance of local authorities to the Hebrew community of the city, contribution of Hesed Tikva center into development of social sphere and culture were discussed during the meeting.

On February 10 the President of RF D. Medvedev sent his congratulation to employees and veterans of Ministry of foreign affairs of RF on the occasion of the Day of diplomatic employee giving diplomats the tasks to assist in modernization of the country and counteract attempts of falsification of history. In the opinion of D. Medvedev, it is necessary to determine the position of Russia on this problem more toughly and talk with the partners directly "on the problems connected with rehabilitation and glorification of people who are criminals in fact". In his opinion, the dialogue with the countries that rehabilitate and glorify fascism should be maintained without punctual diplomatic formulas.

On March 9 press secretary of permanent representation of RF under UN Ruslan Bakhtin stated that Russia considers any attempts of making heroes of accomplices of Nazism, including former legionaries of 'Waffen SS', inadmissible. "For any state devoted to ideals of democracy and humanism, the attempts of making heroes of accomplices of fascism should be inadmissible – be it former legionaries of organization Waffen SS or other collaborators who exterminated hundreds thousands peaceful civilians, prisoners of war and prisoners of death camps", the Russian diplomat said at the presentation of encyclopedia 'Holocaust on the territory of the USSR' in UN headquarters.

On April 5 mayor of Chita Anatoly Mikhalyov during his press conference condemned cases of appearing of drawn swastikas in the streets of the city: "I would like very much that a person who drew this sign, not all the people but this person alone, would live through what our fathers and grandfathers lived through: would go through Buchenwald, starve, see how fascists execute old folk and children … Then he would never taake a brush again". "If this is a boyish folly and hooliganism this is one side", the head of the city noted concerning appearing of graphic drawings of swastikas on buildings and historical monuments. "But if this is done by anybody consciously and deliberately then this is pure vandalism. If children draw these signs then it means we work insufficiently in upbringing. Despite just half page is devoted to events of the Great Patriotic war in today's textbooks, we should bring this understanding to young generation ourselves", A. Mikhalyov stated.

On April 8 employees of Directorate of Federal service of bailiffs for Ryazan region, on the initiative of leaders, painted over drawings of swastikas that were discovered not far from the building. On May 7 the President of RF D. Medvedev stated in his interview to zvestia newspaper: "In Europe, in many countries, rehabilitation of fascists takes place. Some monsters are even found in our country trying to use Nazi symbols and hold various assemblages under such slogans".

Public against anti-Semitism
The highest activity in withstanding anti-Semitism among public organizations is shown by Jewish community itself.

On January 26 the chief rabbi of Russia Berl Lazar stressed at the meeting with the Prime-minister Vladimir Putin: "In general we think this is a very big business now when we are on the threshold of January 27. We Jews would never forget what the Soviet army did for us during the World War II. We must stress this distinctly and tell what happened in reality. Because unfortunately what we see and what happened in Ukraine during recent days – this is horrible. This is really inadmissible for us.. And we will help to explain these matters so that it would be clear what happened then … Nazism – this is bad not just because they killed people but becausse they killed and justified their actions. Those who helped them – what really haappened in Baltic region, what happened in Ukraine – local population took parrt in extermination of Jews. That was not that Nazis came and people resisted. There were people there who really did a lot but it was the state that helped in general. So when today they try to speak again that they have their own history – this is horrible".

On January 27 Federation of Jewish communities of Russia published a statement on the occasion of International day of commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust:
"On the day of liberation of concentration camp Oswiencim by the Soviet army, on the threshold of 65th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic war the words of representatives of Baltic region countries, Ukraine and other European countries that Hitler's Nazi regime was identical to the political system that existed in the Soviet Union when Stalin was in power, sound especially blasphemously. The Jewish community considers this tendency to be a serious threat for preservation of memory about the Holocaust as equalization of Nazi crimes and crimes of Stalin's regime obviously has the purpose to release the countries the population of which actively participated in extermination of their own Jewish minority, from liability. We think that such policy is a part of efforts for creation of historical and intellectual infrastructure aimed at undermining and finally canceling the existing view of uniqueness of the Holocaust in history of mankind as genocide, marginalizing this unique historical event. This phenomenon is especially notable in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia for obvious reasons as residents of these countries cooperated especially strongly with Germans during the World War II. This campaign uniting victims of the Holocaust and Communism is an obvious attempt to put a shadow upon complicated history of murders of their own Jewish population and is used by them as a trick for washing out a stain of mass collaborationism … One can dispute much about negative consequencess of the Victory for Baltic region countries and some part of eastern Europe but one can't deny that actions of SS troops and their accomplices on the territories occupied by Nazis were criminal. It's obvious that even partial rehabilitation of Nazism would become the recognition of admissibility of existence and implementation of any extremist, terrorist ideology. The fact that authorities of some former USSR republics and political figures of these states consider it admissible to support openly the processions of SS veterans, placing of monuments to Nazis or revival of frankly fascist organizations – in our opinion this is equal to greeting of activity of modern extremist and terroristic groups the ideas and methods of which are as inhuman, and this is as big threat for the world as Nazism was at that time. Attempts to revise the results of the World War II and history of Catastrophe of European Jewry still continue on the part of such states as Ukraine, Baltic countries. Iran continues the odious course of its president Mahmud Ahmadinejad".

"We call upon the governments of Baltic countries, Ukraine and all those countries that try to falsify the results of the World War II, to giving independent estimation of facts of extermination of peaceful civilians of their countries by German-fascist troops and of collaborationism during the war. The Jewish community of Russia calls upon the world community to formulating its opinion distinctly and to condemning revision of history of the World War II within UN by a special resolution against collaborationism and Nazi regimes. It would be expedient to do this also on the level of heads of governments of some world powers. In our opinion the UN resolution should not just condemn fascism but make all the political figures rehabilitating it entirely or partially, personas non grata", the statement said.

On the same day, January 27, mourning meeting took place in Birobidjan devoted to International day of commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. The meeting was participated by chairman of Council of Jewish communities of Far East Valery Gurevich, officials, members of club of former minor prisoners of ghetto, pedagogical public, schoolchildren, students, and synagogue congregation. "We must not forget about this tragedy, only memory can save us from similar horrors in future, Valery Gurevich said. We have no right to rewrite history to please timeserving interests of some political groups that want to make liberators from enemies of the mankind. This is a blasphemy when homage is rendered to former SS members, when national heroes are made of traitors of their people". "The Holocaust reminds us not just about tragedy of Jewish people, director of regional institute of advanced pedagogical studies Tatyana Fain stated. There is nothing more terrible than policy of state anti-Semitism, raising of some race, ethnos or nationality. The World War II proved this. Not just Jews but also Slavs, Gypsies and other peoples were subject to extermination. And we mustn't forget for a minute about this understanding well that just in atmosphere of tolerance, openness and respect to all the cultures we would secure ourselves from such terrible phenomena as anti-Semitism and nationalism". Each of those present put a stone of grieve to the obelisk in the yard of community center in commemoration of people who died in fascist concentration camps. On January 27 in district library of Priargunsk town (Chita region) opening of exposition 'Great Patriotic war with the eyes of children-prisoners of fascist camps' took place. The exposition worked for a whole year. And on Victory day it was presented to all the residents of Priargunsk at one of mass activities.

On February 1 it became known that the work of hot line on anti-Semitism recommenced under Jewish community of Nizhny Novgorod synagogue.
On February 11 in Syktyvkar, in the premises of Jewish ethnic-cultural autonomy of Komi, a film about neo-Nazis "Russia 88" was shown.
On March 4 the chief rabbi of Russia Berl Lazar, during the meeting with the minister of regional development Viktor Basargin, spoke with an idea to approve the day of liberation of Oswiencim, January 27, as a nationwide memorial date. "When we would mark the anniversary of liberation of Oswiencim officially, on the state level, this would be both a reminder about feat of Russia in destruction of Nazism and at the same time an efficient weapon in combat with xenophobia that is really one of main threats for Russian society", the rabbi stated. During the meeting of the rabbi and the minister the problems of support of legal bureaus of Jewish community of Russia involved into monitoring of nationalism and xenophobia, by the Ministry of regional development were also discussed. An agreement was reached that the Jewish community of Russia would present its suggestions on combat against xenophobia to the ministry.

On March 9 the Federation of Jewish communities of Russia made a statement concerning unprecedented number of cases of rehabilitation of Nazism and Nazi criminals in the European countries. The FEOR statement said in particular: "Our concern is caused by decision of government of Moldavia to equate Soviet soldiers-liberators and supporters of marshal Antonescu who fought on the side of Hitler's Germany and to arrange celebrations in honor of them equally (the authorities incline to award both veterans of the Great Patriotic war and persons who fought within occupational Romanian army with jubilee medals) … March processions of veterans of Waffen SS llegion in Latvia became regular. Processions of former legionaries of Lettish Waffen SS legion are held in Latvia since 1994 … At the same time court of Laatvia acquits one of leaders of local neo-Nazis Andris Jordans who was sentenced in 2008 to 2-year imprisonment for incitement of ethnic dissension". "We call again upon the leaders of European Union and UN to assessing adequately this 'silent indifference' on the part of such European countries as Latvia, Moldavia, Estonia and Ukraine", the statement summarized.

On March 16 more than 300 activists of youth movements 'The ours' and 'The locals' held a picket near the building of embassy of Latvia in Moscow opposing holding of march of veterans of Waffen SS legion in Riga and appeals of neo-Nazis to deport Russian-speaking population of the republic. The picket participants dressed in uniform of Soviet soldiers brought the photos of those who perished from Nazis during the World War II, to the embassy. After the meeting activists of movement The ours went to representation of the European Union in Moscow and passed a letter with request to pay attention to fascism manifestations in Latvia to its employees.

On March 24 representatives of 'Young Guard' of United Russia in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk painted over swastikas at bus stops.
On March 25 it became known about creation of free telephone advice bureau for victims of ethnic discrimination and anti-Semitism by Federal Jewish ethnic-cultural autonomy (FENKA) with support of the Public chamber of RF in Moscow.
On April 2 on website of Chita forum 'Drom.ru' a photo of monument located at the drive to Chita was placed – unknnown persons desecrated it with a drawing of swastika and inscription "Shulds", forum activists put the monument in order.
On April 20 youth movement 'The ours' arranged anti-fascist patrols in Moscow. The Jewish center at Savyolovskaya and central synagogue of Moscow 'Beis Menahem' became the objects of patrolling.

On April 21 the head of Ryazan Jewish community Lyudmila Zakharova, on the invitation of city library named after Yesenin, took part in activity for junior school teachers "Upbringing of tolerance of junior schoolchildren". L. Zakharova told the pedagogues who were present about work of ethnic communities including the Jewish one with schools and teachers, about recent activity "Day of commemoration of concentration camp prisoners" and showing of film "Kiselyov's list" for children of 7-8th classes, about interethnic concerts and football and a great deal else. She said in particular: "Future of our country, life of our children and grandchildren depend on you and on quality of your work. Ethnic communities are ready to work with you over upbringing of good and respect to representatives of other peoples in young generation".
On April 23 in exhibition hall Manezh of Kazan Kremlin a ceremony of opening of republican pedagogical workshop "Lessons of the Holocaust – a way to tolerance" took place. Workshopps of this kind take place all around Russian within the target program of fund Holocaust with support of grant of the President of RF Dmitry Medvedev. The objective of forum is the acquaintance of school pedagogues with methods of teaching of the Holocaust subject as well as with necessity of its teaching within studying of the Great Patriotic war.

On June 22 in Ulyanovsk supporters of party United Russia held an action 'AntiFa' they painted over drawings of Nazi symbols. St. George bands were drawn on the places of fascist symbols.
On June 23 the 'Day of memory and grieve' of Stavropol Jewish community took place in the forest where the Jews were executed in August 1942.
On September 6 in the Public chamber of Russia a meeting of Commission on interethnic relations and freedom of conscience took place presided by Nikolay Svanidze. The meeting was devoted to textbook by A. Barsenkov and A. Vdovin 'History of Russia. 1917-2009' containing direct anti-Semitic passages. At the same time the textbook was approved by educational-methodic association of Ministry of education and received the classification"recommended".
Expert of Moscow anti-fascist center and Moscow bureau for human rights Viktor Dashevsky noted that the tutorial had "three and a half" editions (first edition, 2002, covered the period of 1938-2001) and "spread broadly". "It is popular, school teachers read it", Dashevsky stressed. The expert also stressed that the book is partially based upon forged documents including notorious 'Dulles Plan' allegedly developed in 1945. Summarizing the meeting, Nikolay Svanidze thanked all those who spoke and noted that the final document of hearings would be sent to the Ministry of education, Office of general public prosecutor, and Presidential Commission of counteraction to attempts of falsification of history.

On September 15 the Academic council of historical faculty of MSU named after M.V. Lomonosov published its decision concerning the situation with the tutorial by A. Barsenkov and A. Vdovin. "The authors' tutorial … does not reflect the position of the Accademic council concerning some facts and assessments contained in the edition. The tutorial text contains facts causing doubt of their reliability", the document stressed. At the same time the Academic council "expressed the concern" that "the discussion of authors" tutorial by professors A.S. Barsenkov and A.I. Vdovin exceeded the bounds of a scientific discussion and takes place with politicized, politically commented assessments and in some cases became a tool of PR-campaigns. In our opinion, the discussion should be held first of all within a skilled scientific expert examination". According to decision of the Council, expert commission was created presided by academician of RAS, professor Yu.S. Kukushkin.

On September 17 appeal of some human rights activists and cultural figures appeared in support of N. Svanidze. The statement titled "Textbooks should not sow hatred" noted that recently 'real campaign started for harassment' of Nikolay Svanidze. The meeting of the Public chamber on September 6 and suggestion to appeal to the office of public prosecutor concerning signs of incitement of interethnic hostility and dissension in the textbook by A. Barsenkov and A. Vdovin arranged by N. Svanidze became a cause for harassment. "In fact the campaign is based upon the strongest irritation about consistent anti-totalitarian and anti-chauvinist position of historian and journalist Svanidze … Even brief acquaintance with this 'tutorial' shows that in some moments it is biased, extremely prejudiced, and it does not suit to be a tutorial already from this point of view. But it is also most questionable and dangerous, would it be even a usual historiosophic work of some quality Policy that had led to crimes against humanity, to repressions, to ethnic, religious or social discrimination can't be approved in textbooks anyway. But these are such attacks on some ethnoses, almost open substantiation of ethnic discrimination and political repressions that are contained in some ways in the scandalous tutorial … So this textbook should be a subject of not a scientificc discussion but of a studying from the point of view of availability of propaganda of hatred … Unfortunately pseudo-scientific works saturated with xenophobia aare broadly published in Russia for already 20 years, and this played some role in considerable popularity of fascist moods, in committing of big number of murders and other crimes motivated by ethnic and ideological hatred. We are positive that there shouldn't be any protection of misanthropic policy in textbooks. We also think that prevention of publication of works of this kind breaking the Constitution of RF is a very important task of civil society today", the appeal summarized. It was signed by writer B. Strugatsky, Ye. Bonner, human rights activists L. Alexeyeva, S. Gannushkina, L. Ponomaryov, S. Kovalyov, V. Borshchov, writers and journalists L. Grafova, N. Katerli etc.

On September 20 the President of Federation of Jewish communities of Russia A.M. Boroda sent a letter addressed to the rector of MSU V.A. Sadovnichy in connection with publication of tutorial by A.S. Barsenkov and A.I. Vdovin 'History of Russia. 1917-2009'. The letter stated: "Jewish community of Russia watches the teaching activity of professors of MSU A.S. Barsenkov and A.I. Vdovin with concern for already long time. Nationalistic and biased position of above-mentioned lecturers in assessment of modern history of Russia caused our concern and perplexity. The tutorial by A.S. Barsenkov and A.I. Vdovin 'History of Russia. 1917-2009' (M.: ASPECT-PRESS, 2010) became the most recent and probably most scandalous. Position of Federation of Jewish communities of Russia is completely united with the opinion of public which called this textbook extremist literature creating conditions for incitement of interethnic hatred in our multi-ethnic state. FEOR requests from you, esteemed Viktor Antonovich, to hold an internal investigation of this fact and take necessary measures as far as possible for suppression of anti-Semitic and other xenophobic propaganda in your educational institution, to give an assessment of activity of professors A.S. Barsenkov and A.I. Vdovin and solve a problem of their professional suitability. Our organization would not like to bring the case to trial and investigatory examination but the extent of public discussion around the tutorial makes us think about such possibility seriously", A. Boroda summarized.

Early in October suggestions of recommendation character were published on website of the Public chamber basing upon results of meeting of Commission of the Public chamber of RF on interethnic relations and freedom of conscience devoted to discussion of contents of textbook by A. Barsenkov and A. Vdovin. The recommendations stated in particular: "Acquaintance with this textbook brings to conclusion that it contains biased views and interpretation of history in the vein of radical nationalism and that its considerable part contradicts historical facts, ignores conclusions of modern scholars and contradicts the provisions of the Constitution of Russian Federation  … Assessing the recent edition of tutorial History of Russia. 1917-2009, the participants of hearing recommend:

1) to the Ministry of education and science of RF, Union of rectors of Russia – to increase efficiency and responssibility of scientific-methodic structures operating in the system of higher humanitarian education – such as meetings of departments, faculty Academic Counccils, Education-methodic councils (UMS) and Educational-methodic association (UMO) on classical university education.
2) to appeal to the Ministry of education and science of RF with suggestion to hold hearings with attraction of scientists and public devoted to the problems of holding of expert examination of educational literature with the purpose of detection of xenophobic and nationalistic elements in it".

In mid-November the expert commission created by the Academic Council of historical faculty of MSU published its resolution concerning the textbook by A. Vdovin and A. Barsenkov. On one hand, the resolution stated the solidarity with 'concern' of the Academic Council of historical faculty of MSU about the fact that "discussion of authors' tutorial of professors A.S. Barsenkov and A.I. Vdovin exceeded the bounds of a scientific discussion and takes place with politicized, politically commented assessments and in some cases became a tool of PR-campaigns". On the other hand, it was noted that "unverified data derived from political journalism and various unreliable sources are used in the book. It contains disputable suppositions belonging partially to the authors themselves and partially adopted from other works". It was noted that there are many factual inaccuracies in the book being the evidence of professional negligence of the authors, unreliable statistic data are available as well as quotations torn out of context. It was noted that “authors absolutize the ethnic principle in public and political life. As a criterion of assessment of actions of the politicians, their ethnic origin is often advanced … Authors' description of material about eviiction of peoples during the Great Patriotic war casts aspersions of treachery upon them thus justifying barbaric and unlawful deportations … Interpretation of Jewish subjects with predominantly negative implication, reiterated repetition of thesis about "disproportionate representation" of Jews in political and cultural elite of the country etc create impression about anti-Semitic motives of these arguments". However these items remained in the resolution to a great extent due to persistence of some commission members who threatened with their withdrawal from it in case the critical passages addressed to Mr. Vdovin and Mr. Barsenkov are expunged from the document. On November 22 the Academic Council of historical faculty of MSU agreed with resolution of expert commission and resolved to consider use of this tutorial "inappropriate … in the educational process on conditions that shortcomings in it are preserved".

Russian Orthodox church against anti-Semitism
On January 27 deputy chairman of Department of external church ties of Moscow Patriarchate Father superior Philipp (Ryabykh) took part in activities devoted to 65th anniversary of liberation of concentration camps Auschwitz and Birkenau (Poland) by the Red army. Father superior Philipp stated in his speech: "65 years ago Russian soldiers put an end to antihuman, devilish deeds that were committed on this land. They liberated peoples of Europe from Nazi evil not in the name of any ideology. They defended their sacred places, their families, their Motherland – that means they defended our common European values. So we must remember their feat and revere their memory together".

Representative of the Russian Orthodox church suggested on that memorable day to meditate upon the reasons for appearing of Nazi ideology in civilized Europe: "Why mass murders of people of various beliefs and nationalities became possible here and in other places of Europe? For what reason did people appear who were able to kill people similar to them? Spirit of hatred managed to bend their minds and hearts to its will because they proved to be perceptive to words and ideas of hostility directed against other peoples. We today's residents of Europe must avoid hostile speeches addressed to each other by all means. On the contrary, we must speak and search for friendship and cooperation, preserve peace for the sake of wellbeing of our continent. Memory of those who gave their lives in combat against Nazism should help us in this. I am positive that the work of this exhibition would promote preservation of memory about the contribution made by Russian people into protection of common European values of mercy and humanity. I propose to perform a prayer about souls of those who gave their lives in this place and those who perished liberating Oswiencim".

Law-enforcement practice
In 2010 61 persons were convicted for crimes and delinquencies motivated by anti-Semitism – this is more than 100% of total number of convicts for crimes and delinquencies motivated by xenophobia (574 persons). 12 persons were sentenced to 1-5-year imprisonment, 1 person each – for imprisonment for the term below 1 year and to compulsory work, 20 persons got suspended sentences, 9 persons got warnings, 17 – were sentenceed to fines. Fines for sale of pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic produce are imposed more often than before as well as access to anti-Semitic literature placed on the Internet is blocked more often after presentation of office of public prosecutor. Big share of suspended sentences in total number of sentences under clauses about delinquencies motivated by xenophobia still attracts attention. As the MBHR materials repeatedly noted, such sentences make no educational effect upon delinquents and on the contrary give them a halo of "those who suffered from the system". Fines and compulsory work for non-violent crimes and real imprisonment for violent crimes would be more efficient.

On January 20 Neftekamsk city court examined the application of city public prosecutor Vladlen Mikhailenko about acknowledgement of video-reel "Present by NjOY…and Sever, MManiac, Satana, Kuzmich" placed on one of websites extremist. According to conclusions of specialists of Neftekamsk branch of Bashkir state university, the video-reel contains appeals to extermination of Jewish nation and symbols propagating ideology of Nazism. It was ascertained that this video-reel was placed by one of visitors of website bashtube.ru. Demands of public prosecutor were complied with completely in the court.
On January 25 it became known that on the initiative of office of public prosecutor of Partizansk city (Primorsky region) an individual businessman was called to account administratively for propaganda and public demonstration of Nazi symbols: advertisement of the businessman published in local newspaper was encircled by a frame was camouflaged swastikas. The magistrate's court pronounced a judgment on acknowledgement of the individual businessman guilty and assignment of administrative arrest for him for 5 days but later Partizansk city court replaced arrest by fine.

On February 2 the justice of the peace of judicial area No 12 of Pervomaisky district of Vladivostok acknowledged citizen L. who placed a drawing of swastika on website 'Shield of Simargl' guilty and imposed a fine of 500 rubles on him.
On February 3 court in Voronezh passed a suspended sentenced of 1-year imprisonment on the student of historical faculty of Voronezh state university, ideologist of creation of website 'Islam in Voronezh' Anton Yevstratov for incitement of ethnic hatred via Internet.
On February 4 Kirovsky district court of St. Petersburg sentenced the editor-in-chief of newspaper “Orthodox Rus” Konstantin Dushenov accused of incitement of hostility using mass media to 3-year imprisonment in colony-settlement. Two of other persons involved in this case – Alexander Malyshev and Pyotr Meleshko – got suspended sentences of 1,5-year and 1-year imprisonment correspondingly. Panel of judges of City court of St. Petersburg left a cassational appeal of Dushenov, Meleshko and Malyshev without answering. The sentence on Dushenov is a precedent case – for the first time a famous ideologist of Russian radical nationalism was sentenced to real term of imprisonment.
On February 15 after a suit of public prosecutor of Lenin district of Kirov city, the court made a decision about availability of signs of extremism in the brochure by ideologist of Slavic neo-paganism Alexey Dobrovolsky 'The Magi'.
On February 27 it became known that the decision of Leninsky district court of Vladivostok about complying with application of public prosecutor of Leninsky district about acknowledging informational materials of anti-Semitic and anti-German character placed on the Internet on forum "Spirituality, religion, philosophy" extremist, came into legal force.
On February 27 in St. Petersburg, at the concert of German group Rammstein, two young men were detained for open demonstration of Nazi symbols. These were not the guards of concert complex but other admirers of creative work of the musicians who were indignant at appearance of the listeners.

On March 2 in Kostroma the sentence was passed within criminal proceedings against 27-year-old Kostroma resident accused of drawing anti-Semitic graffiti in December 2008. The court found the Kostroma resident guilty, and he got suspended sentence of 8-month imprisonment with a probationary period of 1 year and 6 months.
On March 4 the public prosecutor of Samara region Yuri Denisov announced a warning to local businessman Talaybek Sheraliyev who propagated doctrine of prohibited organization 'Tabligi djamaat', about inadmissibility of executing extremist activity.
On March 5 Moskovsky district court of Kazan found the students of Kazan state power-engineering university Dina Amirova and Liliya Abdrafikova, participants of organization Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami guilty of extremist activity. They got suspended sentences of 2,5-year and 1,5-year imprisonment correspondingly.
On March 12 it became known that two residents of Sergiyev Posad were called to account administratively for placing of audio record of songs by group Cyclone B acknowledged extremist materials on their pages in social network Vkontakte. The fines of 1000 rubles each were imposed upon them, and they deleted the songs from their pages in Vkontakte.
On March 15 in Altay region a fine of 500 rules was imposed upon a businessman who tried to sell a lighter with Nazi symbols.

On March 17 it became known that Office of public prosecutor of Republic of Tatarstan issued a public warning in mid-March addressed to a pupil of one of lyceums located in Sovetsky district of Kazan who spoke more than once during 2009-2010 school year at lessons of history, in the presence of teacher and pupils, about necessity of revival of fascism, agitated for watching of Nazi contents film and studying of Nazi literature. He also greeted the teacher and the pupils with a greeting similar to Nazis' greeting in fascist Germany and spoke in public about necessity to clear Republic of Tatarstan from persons of non-Russian nationality.
On March 22 it became known that Office of public prosecutor of Kostomuksha city during an inspection detected a breach of legislation on counteraction to extremist activity by editorial board of newspaper Kostomuksha news: on page 12 of No 50 of newspaper KN dated December 17, 2009 a picture was published with a drawing of two Nazi symbols – swastika and eagle. The city public prosecutor announced a warning to the editor of the weekly about inadmissibility of breaking the law on counteraction to extremist activity.
On March 25 and 30 in Lipetsk two local residents were found guilty under clause 20.29 of Administrative delinquencies Code of RF (mass dissemination of extremist materials included into published Federal list of extremist materials) for dissemination of video films "Wandering Jew" and "Russia with a knife in its back" included into Federal list of extremist materials. They got punishment of a fine.

On March 26 it became known that in Tatarstan supporters of ideology At-takfir ua-l-hidjra were detected. Office of public prosecutor of the republic announced a warning to them about inadmissibility of extremist activity.
On March 31 it became known that in Sarapul individual businessman Glukhov who sold copies of military fascist sign 'Kriegsmarine' was found guilty of committing administrative delinquency with inflicting a fine of 2000 rubles. The sign copy was confiscated.
On March 31 Nalchik city court, after suit of public prosecutor of Kabardino-Balkar Republic, made a decision about acknowledging book editions "Satan's track on secret paths of history" and "Satan's track on secret paths of history, 2nd, supplemented edition" being of radical Islamist, anti-Semitic and Russo-phobic character, extremist.

In April Butyrsky district court in Moscow passed a sentence within a case of 69-year-old Vitaly Pasekov accused of dissemination of anti-Semitic literature and corresponding agitation. He got suspended sentence of 1 year and 2 months of imprisonment and was sent to compulsory psychiatric treatment on his place of residence.
On April 1 it became known that magistrate's court in Lipetsk imposed a penalty in amount of 1000 rubles upon local resident who placed films "Wandering Jew" and "Russia with a knife of its back" included into Federal list of extremist materials on the Internet.
On April 23 the justice of the peace of fifth judicial area of Sovetsky district of Novosibirsk imposed a penalty in amount of 1000 rubles upon local resident D. Belala who disseminated the film "Wandering Jew" acknowledged extremist material on the Internet. The extremist material was confiscated.
On April 27 Leninsky district court of Kirov city acknowledged neo-pagan Alexey Dobrovolsky (Dobroslav) guilty under clause 282 of CC of RF by its verdict and passed a suspended sentence of 1-year imprisonment upon him though office of public prosecutor requested to sentence the accused to 1,5-year real imprisonment.

Early in May Obninsk city court complied with the suit of office of public prosecutor concerning acknowledgement of anti-Semitic book by Nikolay Levashov "Russia in distorting mirrors" extremist.
On May 11 court of Oktyabrsky district of Novosibirsk passed a sentence upon disseminator of anti-Semitic leaflets. 37-year-old unemployed Boris Zhendorenko got suspended sentence.
On May 12 verdict of Meshchansky district court of Moscow came into force against 24-year-old native of republic of Daghestan Elkhan Balasultanov who spoke with a sermon of radical Islam in the mosque in April 2009. The court found the accused guilty and passed a suspended sentence of 1-year imprisonment with probationary period of 1 year upon him.

On June 1 2nd-year student of Novosibirsk state university Semyon Drobot was found, with an enactment of justice of peace of first judicial area of Sovetsky district of Novosibirsk, guilty of dissemination of film "Russia with a knife in its back" included into Federal list of extremist materials: the punishment in the form of administrative fine of 1000 rubles was prescribed for him.
On June 1 court of Central district of Chelyabinsk passed a sentence upon Bashkir nationalists-Islamists finding their activity extremist. The court found Zhavat Kamalov, Chingiz Khalafov, Madina Dyatlova and Faima Zakiyeva guilty of arrangement of extremist community, incitement of hatred of hostility, appeals to violence over citizens. The court sentenced Kamalov and Khalafov to 4-year imprisonment in general regime colony and Dyatlova and Zakiyeva got suspended sentences of 2,6-year imprisonment.
On June 4 Chelyabinsk regional court passed a sentence upon members of criminal group of extremists-Islamists Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami. Anzor Akiyev and Salavat Khabirov were sentenced to 3,5-year imprisonment without fine with serving the punishment in colony-settlement, Ayrat Lukmanov – to 4-year imprisonment without fine with serving tthe punishment in colony-settlement. Vadim Khabirov was sentenced to 2-year imprisonment with serving the punishment in colony-settlement and Vadim Nasyrov was sentenced to 1,5-year imprisonment with serving the punishment in colony-settlement.
On June 10 the decision of Upper-Isetsk district court in Yekaterinburg came to force by decision of Sverdlovsk regional court about acknowledgement of book by Vladimir Istarkhov "Blow of Russian gods' extremist".
On June 10 Sol-Iletsk district court of Orenburg region found the book by Shelhul Hadis Maulan and Muhammad Zaccaria Kandehlevi "Fazail Amali" extremist.

On June 11 a resident of Syzran was penalized for sale of Nazi attributes.
On June 15 Pervomaisky district court of Izhevsk (Udmurtia) passed a guilty verdict upon local resident who drew Nazi symbols and inscriptions all over the building of Jewish community center in the capital of republic. He got suspended sentence.
On June 15 Ostankinsky court of Moscow put an end to activity of newspaper To the barrier! published by nationalist Yu. Mukhin.
On June 21 Boksitogorsk city court acknowledged materials placed on the blog of ex-militiaman Alexander Smirnov extremist. The court also decided to close the blog.
On June 25 it became known that St. Petersburg businessman who sold a book by V. Yemelyanov "Jewish fascism" included into Federal list of extremist materials in his kiosk was penalized according to the court decision in amount of 1000 rubles.
In first half-year of 2010 warnings were announced to three residents of Tula for attempts to disseminate the book "Blow of Russian god" on the Internet.

On July 1 it became known that the Office of public prosecutor of Central district of Volgograd demanded from Internet-providers SC Volgograd GS and SC Company ER-Telecom to close access to website via which it was possible to order the book by Adolf Hitler "Mein Kampf". SC Volgograd GSM carried out the claim of public prosecutor voluntarily, and the second suit was sent to court.
On July 26 the decision of Central district court of Chita complied with the appeal of deputy public prosecutor of Transbaikalian region Bair Dorzhiyev to limited liability stock company MegaLink about restriction of access to website www.srn.megalink.ru/newspaper/np.htm containing issues of newspaper "Russian Transbaikalia" of Chita regional branch of "Union of Russian People" acknowledged extremist material.
On July 28 it became known that Central district court of Komsomolsk-on-Amur enacted to restrict access to five websites for dissemination of extremist materials including Hitlers book 'Mein Kampf'. The blocked websites included in particular worldwide video-hosting YouTube as well as website web.archive.org. Later on the court decision that caused a great scandal was corrected by superior body that enacted that only access to the material acknowledged extremist itself is subject to blocking but not access to the website.

On August 11 Dzerzhinsky district court of Novosibirsk passed a suspended sentence on 60-year-old Alexander Vorona of 6-month imprisonment for dissemination of literature and agitation leaflets aimed at incitement of interethnic hostility towards Hebrews and Buddhists.
On August 12 a sentence was passed on 35-year-old resident of Mikhailovsk town Sergey Borodin who painted anti-Semitic graffiti on the monument to Lenin. He was sentenced to 10-month imprisonment with serving the punishment in strict regime colony.
On August 18 it became known about conviction of four Omsk residents who disseminated the film "Wandering Jew" included into Federal list of extremist materials on the Internet. One of them was sentenced to a fine of 1000 rubles

On September 15 it became known that editor-in-chief of Klintsy newspaper "New workers' newspaper" Sergey Melnikov was warned by office of public prosecutor of Klintsy town for publication of extremist contents article "Zionism is more terrible for Russia than fascism".
On September 22 Pravoberezhny district court of Magnitogorsk passed a sentence on the leader of organization Russian national movement (in former times it was a branch of the National-socialist society) A. Lozovsky. The court considered Lozovsky to be of no danger for society anymore and left him at large passing suspended sentence of 2,5-year imprisonment with probationary period of 3 years.
On September 22 Tyumen district court passed a sentence within criminal proceedings against 24-year-old Aziz Isin and 30-year-old Rinat Tanishev finding them guilty of arrangement and participation in activity of religious extremist organization Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami. The court found Aziz Isin guilty under clause 282.2 part 1 of CC of RF (arrangement of activity of religious extremist organization) and prescribed the punishment of 1 year and 3 months of imprisonment for him with serving the punishment in general regime correctional colony. Rinat Tanishev got suspended sentence under clause 282.2 part 2 of CC of RF (participation in activity of religious extremist organization) of 1-year imprisonment with probationary period of 1 year.
On September 28 it became known that Kaluga resident was penalized in amount of 1000 rubles for dissemination of an extremist contents film included into Federal list of extremist materials on the Internet.
On September 28 Kropotkin city court sentenced V. Ponomarenko accused of dissemination of RNE newspapers to a fine of 100 thousand rubles
On September 29 Severny district court of Orel passed a sentence on a member of organization "Black Hundred" who was found guilty of drawing xenophobic graffiti. He got punishment of 150-hour compulsory work.

On October 19 Oktaybrsky district court of Stavropol made a decision about acknowledgment of article by N.T. Porotov «Along the pages of printed matters. Concerning the problem of oligarchs-Jews in post-Soviet Russia or appeared 'domination' of power-holding 'kleptocracy'» an extremist material and about ban for its dissemination, production and storing on the territory of RF.
On October 25 it became known that in Industrial court of Kursk examination of criminal case began against 25-year-old Denis Utkin who placed a video film “Russia with a knife in its back-2” on open website. The court passed a suspended sentence upon him.

On November 26 it became known that court of Central district of Krasnoyarsk made a decision about acknowledgment of book by K.V. Rodzayevsky "Testament of Russian fascist" extremist literature.
On November 29 it became known that according to enactment of public prosecutor of Dolgoprudny town a businessman who sold daggers and sabres with Nazi symbols was called to account administratively.
On November 30 the justice of the peace of Central district of Tyumen passed a sentence on 40-year-old businessman Georgy Zarubin (jurist by education) accused of twofold desecration of monument to Lenin with anti-Semitic graffiti. He was sentenced to 2 years of restriction of freedom. During this term the convict will have to come for registration to a specialized body three times a month, it is prohibited for him to visit places of holding of mass activities and take part in their holding as well as to change his place of residence without agreement of the specialized body.
On November 30 it became known about passing the sentence on 20-year-old nationalistic activist from Khabarovsk M. Grigoryev. He was found guilty of drawing xenophobic (anti-Semitic and anti-Caucasian) graffiti and sticking of corresponding leaflets and got a suspended sentence.
On November 30 it became known that 36-year-old resident of Syktyvkar V. Lyurov got suspended sentence for anti-Semitic comment on the Internet.

On December 9 it became known that Office of public prosecutor of Petrozavodsk discovered in computer class of school No 7 during inspection that despite availability of content filtration the pupils had access to the book by A. Hitler “Mein Kampf” acknowledged extremist by court. Similar infringements were detected in three educational institutions else. Basing upon results of conducted inspection, the head of Petrozavodsk and director of general school got presentations with demand to take necessary measures without delay for equipping the computer classes with content filtration.
On December 13 Leninsky district court of Barnaul passed a sentence within criminal proceedings against 38-year-old Bulat Gayanov finding him guilty of arrangement of activity of a cell of Hizb ut-Tahrir in correctional institution of UFSIN of Russia for Altay region where he served his punishment for participation in activity of this party. The court found Bulat Gayanov guilty of committing the mentioned crime and sentenced him to 1-year imprisonment, in the aggregate of sentences prescribing the punishment of 1 year and 2 months of imprisonment, with serving the punishment in strict regime correctional colony.
On December 15 the justice of the peace of Ishim city passed a sentence on 23-year-old Oksana Shabanova who drew swastika on the wall of one of shops. The court found Oksana Shabanova guilty under clause 214 part 2 of CC of RF and, taking into account available previous conviction, sentenced her to 1 year and 2 months of imprisonment with serving the punishment in colony-settlement. Basing upon clause 82 of CC of RF, the court postponed real serving of punishment for the convict until her five-year-old daughter would reach the age of 14.

Law-enforcement bodies act more actively now concerning prohibition of organizations propagating anti-Semitism:
On February 1 the Supreme court acknowledged 'National-socialist society' an extremist organization.
On February 8 the Supreme court of RF prohibited the activity of organization 'Imarat Caucasus' as a terroristic one.
On April 27 Moscow city court acknowledged inter-regional public movement 'Slavic Union' extremist and prohibited it.
On June 29 the Supreme court rejected the cassational appeal of leader of Slavic union D. Dyomushkin about enactment on prohibition of activity of the organization.
On September 15 the Supreme court of RF prohibited activity of religious association At-Takfir va al-Hidjra on the territory of Russia considering it extremist.
On September 22 Nizhny Novgorod regional court acknowledged activity of "National-socialist workers' party of Russia" that was active in the region, extremist.

At the same time this practice proved to be ineffective. Either decayed and eliminated organizations or those that are unaccountable for Russian justice (Imarat Caucasus) were subject to prohibition. Besides, the prohibition does not prevent these organizations at all from revival under new, resembling name like this happened with the Slavic union practically with the same membership and the same leaders. At the same time, employees of administration of website of SS demushkin.ru refused to obey to demands of Office of general public prosecutor and remove Hitlers 'Mein Kampf' on the grounds that they were not citizens of RF and had not to obey to its laws.

Anti-Semitic literature is a considerable part of more than 300 items that replenished the Federal list of extremist materials in 2010.
In some cases law-enforcement bodies use accusations of xenophobia and anti-Semitism groundlessly:

On March 26 and June 18 Kirovsky district court of Ufa acknowledged the book by A. Hitler "Mein Kampf" as well as books by B. Mussolini "Doctrine of fascism" and "Memoirs 1942-1943" extremist materials. Acknowledgement of such materials extremist is already available in the text of the law on combat against extremism itself and does not need one more interpretation.
On March 26 Sakhalin regional court left the decision of subordinate court about acknowledgement of brochure “Image of enemy in German military propaganda extremist material in force.
On May 26 Neftekamsk city court acknowledged advertisement of the shop of youth clothes 'EXTRA' with drawing of lightnings located side by side and distantly resembling SS symbols an extremist material.
On May 27 it became known that participant of 'Forum of Kostroma Jedi' was sentenced to a fine as he used a symbol in the form of a red rhombus with drawing of cross consisting of four «г»-like segments as his avatar. The office of public prosecutor considered the symbol to be Nazi.
The extremist materials included into the Federal list of extremist materials also contain a book "Hitler's table talks" actively used by scientists as a historical source. One may note with regret the court decisions that can't be treated but like connivance to radical nationalists.

Early in March it became known that court of Leninsky district of Kirov released the city resident who placed video, photo and audio records of Nazi orientation on his page 'Vkontakte' from criminal liability. The court considered the materials to be "artworks".
On March 12 the justice of the peace in Cherepovets canceled the protocol composed on February 26 concerning the businessman A. Dorofeyev who sold uniform of German soldiers of the time of the Third Reich. Dorofeyev stated to the court that swastika on the helmet was turned back to the wall and Nazi symbols on belt badges were closed with price tags.
© the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights

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NATIONALISTS GETTING MORE DANGEROUS (Russia)

12/3/2011- Nationalist groups in Russia are becoming increasingly clandestine and dangerous, researchers said on Thursday, speaking after violent riots by extreme-rightists and football supporters shook Moscow late last year. While fewer people died at the hands of nationalists last year than the year before, ultra-nationalist groups are gaining more supporters and becoming more sophisticated, said SOVA Centre, an independent group which monitors hate crimes in Russia. “The young have stopped rallying around their leaders. There are a lot of small groups which prefer to lay low. It’s thousands of people. “They believe they are conducting a guerilla war, not only against migrants but also against the authorities,” said researcher Alexander Verkhovsky as he presented the group’s latest report on xenophobia and racism in the country. “While it was relatively easy to fight them several years ago, it has now become much harder to find them,” he said, chalking up the change in tactics to an increasing pressure from the authorities.

“There has been a change that may have consequences in the future: football fans have joined radical nationalists,” said Verkhovsky. “They used to belong to two different environments that did not trust each other.” In December, scores of football fans and ultranationalists clashed with police near the Kremlin in a protest ostensibly at police handling of the shooting of a Spartak Moscow football fan in one of the most violent riots in recent years. Russia’s tough-talking premier Vladimir Putin has vowed to “respond severely” to the violence and said it was a “disturbing sign”. But many analysts say the Kremlin has deliberately courted nationalists for years and the December riots and the subsequent police crackdown showed that the authorities did not entirely control the situation. “The situation is bad, things have gone too far and it is not clear how to find a way out of it,” said Verkhovsky.

Last year, nationalists killed 37 people and injured 382, said the report co-authored by Galina Kozhevnikova, a founder and director of the SOVA Centre, who passed away earlier this month. By comparison, 84 people were killed and 434 injured in racist attacks in 2009.
© AFP

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THE FAR RIGHT IN NORTHERN EUROPE: ON THE MARCH

Populist anti-immigration parties are performing strongly across northern Europe

17/3/2011- France is not the only European country suffering a far-right surge. In an arc of countries spreading north-east from the Netherlands, populist parties are cutting a swathe through politics, appealing to electorates with various blends of nationalism, Euroscepticism (and euro-scepticism) and outright xenophobia. The country to watch is Finland, where the True Finns have emerged from obscurity to have a shot at joining government after an election on April 17th. Surging poll ratings (see table) put them on a par with Finland’s three main parties. “If the party gets enough seats”, says Pasi Saukkonen, a political scientist at Helsinki University, “it would be quite difficult to exclude them from negotiations.” Timo Soini, the party leader, who casts himself as a jovial everyman, is pitching for the premiership. Finland’s mainstream politicians have acknowledged the ascent of the True Finns. Mari Kiviniemi, prime minister and leader of the Centre Party, says she could work with the party. Her finance minister, Jyrki Katainen, leader of the conservative National Coalition Party, says Mr Soini could be prime minister. The party has broadened its appeal from its rural base and is filching voters from all sides. It adopts an anti-immigrant pose, but its signature issue is hostility to the European Union and particularly the bail-outs of poorer southern members of the euro by fiscally prudent northerners. Its influence may already be visible in the hard line struck by the Finnish government in recent euro-zone negotiations.

Another Nordic party that can point to influence over government is the Danish People’s Party (DF). Under its influence the minority centre-right coalition it has propped up for the past decade has turned Denmark’s immigration regime into one of Europe’s tightest. The DF’s leader, Pia Kjaersgaard, is often voted Denmark’s most powerful woman, ahead of the queen. Buoyed by the government’s appointment last week of a new gung-ho immigration minister, the DF upped the ante by demanding the prohibition of purpose-built mosques and compulsory psalm-singing in schools. It hopes to do well in elections that must be held by November.

Their Swedish counterparts, the Sweden Democrats, enjoyed success at a general election last September, entering parliament for the first time (decked out in pastoral national costume). There was speculation that they might become an ally of government. But unlike their Danish brethren they have been shunned by other parties. Last week Erik Ullenhag, Sweden’s integration minister, accused them of intolerance and Islamophobia. But their poll ratings are holding up.

In the Netherlands the anti-immigrant Freedom Party (PVV) and its leader, Geert Wilders, are still hot stuff, despite an unspectacular performance in recent provincial elections. Polls put the party second only to the Liberals, whose minority coalition with the Christian Democrats Mr Wilders has supported in parliament since last year, in a Denmark-style arrangement. Some in the political establishment thought that bringing Mr Wilders into power would temper his appeal. That plan does not seem to be working. Mr Wilders paints himself as an anti-establishment figure, but he is well versed in playing the system, exploiting his insider-outsider position to maximum advantage. His criticism of ministers can be scathing, but is limited to personalities, or issues outside the government agreement he has signed. The PVV still plays the Muslim card—anti-Islamism, Mr Wilders says, remains his “passion”—but it is seeking to broaden its hand with other themes, ranging from the eccentric (expelling “imported” animal species such as Highland cows) to the worrying (“scum camps” for repeat offenders).

Other countries have not been immune to the far right’s rise. Since 2009 the British National Party has been represented in the European Parliament. The Vlaams Belang remains a force in Belgium’s dysfunctional politics. The virus, it seems, is spreading.
© The Economist

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EUROPEANS SAY THEY ARE TOLERANT, BUT OPPOSE IMMIGRATION

Guardian five-country survey reveals 62% see themselves as liberal but many opposed to migration from outside the EU

13/3/2011- People in the EU's leading member states remain loyal to the organisation's founding values of openness and liberalism, the Guardian's five-country poll shows. Despite the economic crisis and the rise of extreme political parties, an overwhelming majority of Europeans describe themselves as liberal – even on issues such as gay rights. More also continue to support the right of people to migrate within the EU in search of work than oppose it. While the results reveal high levels of opposition to EU migration, – notably in Britain – a small overall majority of those polled in France, Germany, Spain, Poland and Britain approve. But attitudes in all countries questioned are less tolerant when it comes to migration from outside the EU. A quarter of Europeans list non-EU migration as the leading or second threat to Europe's future. The poll calls into question Britain's long-standing claim to openness and tolerance: opponents of EU migration in Britain outnumber supporters by two percentage points. In Germany, by contrast,the support for migration outscores opposition by 30 points, with 49% of Germans in favour of the right to move states. In France the net lead is 41 points, with 55% in favour and in Spain the lead is 57 points, with 67% in favour.

However, a narrow plurality are against migration from outside the EU. Across the countries polled opposition stands at 37% against support at 32%. Again, Britain is notably hostile to non-EU migration: 47% say they are against it, while only 20% are in favour – with 23% of Britons saying they are "strongly hostile". By contrast 46% of Poles are in favour against 25% who are against. Poland is the only state among those surveyed where approval leads opposition. In Germany, 30% approve while 37% do not. In France, the figures are 30% to 39% and in Spain 33% to 39%. Overall, 62% of the more than 5,000 people polled across Britain, Germany, Poland, Spain and France say they see themselves as "liberal" rather than "traditional" on social issues. While 24% of Europeans claim to be "very liberal", only 4% think they are "very traditional", in answer to a question specifically asking their approach to issues such as marriage, women's rights and gay rights.

Notably even Poland and Spain, both strongly Catholic nations and relatively recent EU entrants, emerge as much more liberal than traditional. Almost three-quarters of Spaniards polled choose to describe themselves as either very or fairly liberal; narrowly ahead of Germany, then Britain, France and Poland. It is possible that the internet-savvy group of working age people surveyed in the poll – carried out online – are more likely by definitionto see themselves as liberal. Pensioners, not surveyed, may be more traditional. But the samples were weighted to be representative of the demographics of each country. The heavy balance in favour of liberal values in the poll also suggests this is indeed how modern Europeans see themselves. In Spain, for instance, 30% say they are "very liberal" and a further 42% "fairly liberal" against only 6% who say they are "fairly traditional" and 2% "very traditional". That pattern is repeated elsewhere. In Germany, 68% say they are liberal against 9% traditional. In France, 59% against 14%. In Britain, 60% to 19%. Attitudes are different in Poland, where 31% of people see themselves as traditional against 49% liberal. Perhaps surprisingly, there is no sign that younger people, who grew up after the fall of communism, are any more or less liberal than their parents.
© The Guardian

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EUROPEAN ANTI-SEMITISM AND XENOPHOBIA ARE LINKED, REPORT FINDS

13/3/2011- Anti-Semitism and other forms of xenophobia are closely linked among Europeans, and Hungarians and Poles are the most likely to hold extreme anti-Semitic views, according to a new report. The report, "The State of Intolerance, Prejudices and Discrimination in Europe," was released March 11 in the framework of a conference by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, a think tank associated with the Social Democratic Party in Germany. The foundation commissioned the new evaluation of a 2008 survey by researchers at the University of Bielefeld of about 1,000 people in eight European countries: Germany, Poland, Holland, Great Britain, Italy, Hungary and Portugal. Asked whether they agree with the statement that "Jews have too much influence in my country," 69.2 percent of Hungarians and 49.9 percent of Poles agreed. The lowest levels were in Holland, with 4.6 percent agreeing. Germany, with 19.6 percent, was in the middle, sociologist Beate Kuepper told JTA in a telephone interview. Kuepper, Andreas Zick and Andreas Hoevermann evaluated the data for the foundation. Scientists found that those with anti-Semitic tendencies also were likely to be xenophobic against other minority groups, including Muslims, as well as resentful of homosexuals and women, Kuepper said. Kuepper said she was most surprised by the fact that Germany's level of anti-Semitism was about average, given the strong public message against anti-Semitism, including the emphasis on Holocaust education. She also said that the results for Poland bore out those of previous studies, which show that religious-based anti-Semitism is extremely high there, at 70 percent. Researchers find, she said, that "lots of Poles will agree" with the statement that Jews today can be blamed for the death of Jesus, "whereas in the Netherlands people would jump out of the phone if you ask them something like that."
© JTA News

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Headlines 11 March, 2011

SWEDISH FOOTBALLER COMES OUT AS GAY

10/3/2011- Anton Hysen, the son of former Liverpool FC defender Glenn Hysen, has become the only openly gay professional footballer in Europe. The 20-year-old, who plays in the Swedish second division for Utsiktens BK, coached by his father Glenn, comes from a footballing family with his older brothers Tobias and Alexander also both playing professionally. Hysen revealed that he came out to try and show that being a gay footballer should no longer be an issue. "I might not play in the top league, but I want to prove that there is no big deal if I'm a footballer and also gay," he told Swedish football magazine, Offside. “If I perform as a footballer, then I do not think it matters if I like men or women."

‘Intolerance is their problem’
Hysen says that some people might have a problem with his decision but that it is their problem and not his. "There will always be people who can't tolerate gay people, just like there are people who can't tolerate immigrants. A club might be interested in me and then the coach might change his mind if he finds out I'm gay, but that is his problem not mine." Hysen’s revelation follows a growing number of other high profile professional athletes who have recently come out publicly.

Other athletes also out
Two weeks ago cricketer Steven Davies publicly revealed what his fellow England players already knew ; Irish hurler Dónal Óg Cusack came out in 2010, and Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas declared himself gay at the end of 2009. If proof were needed about the value of the human stories behind the public openness, Thomas is soon to have a Hollywood film made about his life starring Mickey Rourke. Hysen commented on the lack of other openly gay footballers, "It's totally sick when you think about it, where the hell is everyone else?” Hysen's brother Tobias, a Swedish international with 15 caps, backed his brother's decision, "Hopefully more people will have the courage to come out now after his brave decision."

Growing campaigns
Hysen’s decision comes a few weeks after the only previously openly gay professional footballer Justin Fashanu, would have celebrated his 50th birthday. An anniversary that is now marked by UK group the Justin Campaign through their Football v Homophobia initiative. National and international campaigns are growing with established groups such as Paris Foot Gay in France, a number of gay fans clubs in Germany, and initiatives such as the recognition by Barcelona FC of la Penya Blaugrana de Gais i Lesbianes as an official fan club in 2009. Last weekend the European Gay and Lesbian Sports Federation (EGLSF), a FARE partner for many years, agreed at their annual Congress to employ a development officer for the first time. The officer will be employed in Eastern Europe from funding partly provided by the FARE network.
© Football Against Racism in Europe

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ALBANIA POLICE CRITICISED AFTER ATTACK ON ROMA CAMP

Albanian police are being accused of racism by local media, after a Roma camp on the outskirts of Tirana was burned down three days ago by perpetrators that have not yet been found.

11/3/2011- Some dwellers in the camp, which was home to roughly 40 families, told local media the attackers arrived at night and beat them with sticks while setting fire to their barracks over several days, pressuring them to relocate. The residents of the camps say the police failed to prevent the attacks and provide protection for the families, who now have moved to live in settlements in Tirana and other cities. It remains unclear if the attack was the result of racism or instigated by the financial interests of real estate developers looking to build in the area. Police denied on Friday that they had disregarded the laws against discrimination of minorities and the protection of children while dealing with the case. According to the police statement, the Roma “initiated the conflict” with their neighbors that then escalated. “We have questioned the Roma about the fire that swept their dwelling but they have refused to testify,” read the statement. According to the Union for Albanian Roma, a Tirana-based NGO, up to 150,000 Roma people live in Albania, part of a community that struggles with discrimination, poor literacy rates and massive unemployment.
© Balkan Insight

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REPORT: SPEED UP IMMIGRANT SWEDISH COURSES (Sweden)

Newly arrived immigrants should be required to sign up for a Swedish for Immigrants (Svenskundervisning för invandrare - SFI) language course within a year of their arrival in the country, according to a government inquiry published on Wednesday.

9/3/2011- Courses should also be limited to two years and be made more flexible, according to the report, entitled "Time for fast flexible learning", which was submitted to the deputy education minister Nyamko Sabuni on Wednesday. "Interruptions during SFI are far too long and too numerous today. I am persuaded that a time limit could create incentives to improve the efficiency of education and help to increase processing," said Birgitta Ornbrant, who headed the inquiry, in a statement. The inquiry however proposes retaining flexibility in the courses, "similar to that which applies to other adult education", but that the right to participate in SFI would be removed after four years residency. The purpose of the enquiry was to analyse and provide recommendations for how newly arrived immigrants can be helped to learn Swedish faster. Among the proposals for changes in the system and teaching methods, the report recommends that courses should be individually adapted and documentation should be improved. It is furthermore recommended that the government appoint a delegation to consider the applicability of flexible teaching methods and technology in order to better "adapt (the education) to the individual's background, needs and academic capacity". It is also proposed that labour market training and the general education system be reviewed to ensure that it meets the demands of individuals after the completion of their language tuition. Swedish for immigrants is part of the public adult education system in Sweden and is available to all those aged 16 and above who do not have basic Swedish knowledge. Municipalities are required to offer Swedish language instruction with courses normally beginning within three months of registration of residence. Courses are typically divided into three levels according to ability.
© The Local - Sweden

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FAR-RIGHT NPD LEADER ACQUITTED OF INCITEMENT AGAINST SOCCER PLAYER (Germany)

Three leaders in the far-right National Democratic Party of Germany have been acquitted of inciting racial hatred against a black soccer player. The charges date back to the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

9/3/2011- A German court on Wednesday overturned the conviction of Udo Voigt, chairman of the far-right National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), for inciting racial hatred and defamation against a black German soccer player. Voigt and two other party members were first convicted of the charges in April 2009 and given suspended sentences of seven to 10 months. The men distributed flyers in the run-up to the 2006 FIFA World Cup which appeared to insinuate that defender Patrick Owomoyela was not worthy of a spot on Germany's national team because he is black. The flyers showed the German white jersey with the number 25, at the time worn by Owomoyela, over the title: "White - not just a jersey color! For a real NATIONAL team!" The Berlin state court acquitted the men, saying that the association of the number 25 with Owomoyela alone was not strong enough to prove they were specifically inciting racial hatred against him. The use of the word "white" could also be interpreted as criticism of manipulation and corruption in football, the court said. The court concluded that the flyers fell under the protection of freedom of speech, and that a xenophobic attitude is not enough to warrant punishment for incitement to racial hatred. The defamation charges were also rejected. Owomoyela and the German Football Association originally filed the charges, with Owomoyela testifying that he had never in his life felt so attacked because of his race.
© The Deutsche Welle

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BITS FROM THE NETHERLANDS

WILDERS: NO DUAL CITIZENSHIP
10/3/2011- Freedom Party (PVV) leader Geert Wilders says he assumes a woman recently elected to the Gelderland provincial council for the party will get rid of her double nationality as soon as possible. Petra Kouwenberg holds both Dutch and Turkish nationality, but according to Geert Wilders, he did not know she also had Turkish nationality until very recently. The party leader said Ms Kouwenberg is eager to get rid of her Turkish nationality and to this end will visit the Turkish embassy on Friday. The issue of Ms Kouwenberg's double nationality is an embarrasment to the PVV. In parliament, the party has consistently villified politicians holding double nationality, claiming this could lead to a conflict of interest. Last year, Mr Wilders submitted a proposal intended to force Deputy Health Minister Marlies Veldhuijzen van Zanten to renounce her Swedish nationality. And three years ago, he argued for a vote of no confidence against Labour Party deputy ministers Nebahat Albayrak and Ahmed Aboutaleb, because they held double nationality (Dutch-Turkish and Dutch-Moroccan). It is not clear how Ms Kouwenberg - who has refused to comment on the situation - obtained Turkish nationality.

DUTCH GOVERNMENT URGED NOT TO CRIMINALISE ILLEGAL ALIENS
9/3/2011- Social organisations, trade unions, churches and local councils have presented a joint statement against a cabinet plan to make staying in the Netherlands illegally a criminal offence. The statement was signed by about 10,000 people. The signatories say the planned measure is disproportionate. Dzsingisz Gabor, the chair of the umbrella organisation of Dutch refugee organisations, says it is wrong to treat illegal aliens as criminals. According to Mr Gabor, the government believes the intended measure will make it easier to deport illegal aliens. However, he argues that it will only push illegal aliens into crime. Trade union federation FNV says the government’s plan will complicate its fight against exploitation of illegal workers. The union says there can be all kinds of reasons why people have no documentation. A spokesperson said: In their statement, the organisations also say that criminalising illegal aliens would violate international treaties.

NO HIGHER PRIORITY ON PROTECTION OF JEWISH ORGANISATIONS
9/3/2011- Interior Minister Piet Hein Donner has told parliament that the government cannot be held responsible for each and every measure Jewish organisations believe they should take to increase their security. The minister made his remarks during a debate on anti-Semitism in the Netherlands. MPs had asked the minister to talk with Jewish organisations about a contribution to their additional security costs. Freedom Party MP Joram van Klaveren said that jewish institutions spend a million euros a year on security. Mr van Klaveren also demanded an investigation into anti-Semitism in the Dutch Islamic community. The Freedom party believes the Islam is responsible for growing anti-Semitism. However, the minister was not impressed, and rejected a suggestion to declare the security of Jewish organizations a top priority. He said this would make other institutions less of a priority without any justification for doing so. Minister Donner said additional measures would be taken whenever the need arose.

BILL ON PENALIZING GENOCIDE DENIAL: HANDLING IN DUTCH PARLIAMENT RESUMED
7/3/2011- The replies of Christian Union faction, published in a document of 23 pages, to the questions of various factions in the Dutch parliament take the bill to penalise public and deliberate denial of genocide, one step further. The bill which was introduced in 2006 by the Christian Union faction in Dutch parliament (The Dutch House of Representatives), could so far not count on a majority support. This was evident from many critical questions of the factions in the parliament during the written preparation. One of the issues raised was whether such a bill is necessary, assuming that the articles on discrimination and insulting of a group already present in Dutch Penal Law sufficiently cover the criminalisation of genocide denial. Also restrictions on freedom of expression in present Dutch public debate are weighing seriously. There are also many questions about the scope and definition of the term genocide.

The Christian Union party has recently held a roundtable discussion in which several groups have commented on the bill and some like the Centre for Information and Documentation Israel (CIDI) and the Federation of Armenian Organisations in the Netherlands (FAON) have brought forward arguments to move to the explicit criminalisation of genocide denial. The Christian Union faction, as the author of the bill, has in a memorandum of reply among others emphasised the need for explicit criminalisation of genocide denial based on the text and the objectives of the EU Framework Decision of 28 November 2008 on “Combating certain forms and manifestations of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law”. This decision explicitly assumes the criminalisation of the genocide denial by the Member States. The author of the bill also considers that clarity of legislation is needed, which can not be inferred from the existing case law. In this case law, for example, the fact that the denial of the Holocaust was offensive to surviving Holocaust victims and their immediate families played a role. It is not clear what a judge would decide if there are no longer (Holocaust) survivors or their next of kin.

With regard to freedom of expression, it is among others argued that its protection for example in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is not intended for such serious offences of a group. Regarding the concept of genocide, in any case, as examples of genocide are mentioned the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide, as well as the genocides in Rwanda and Srebrenica. Criteria such as recognition and "general consensus" in this context are also discussed. The coming period will show if, in the current political situation in Holland regarding the election results to Dutch parliament in 2010, a majority in the Dutch parliament will support the bill. It can be expected that later this year the plenary debate will take place on the bill in the Dutch parliament.
© Panorama
© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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RACISM CONVICTION FOR NEO-NAZIS (Belgium)

9/3/2011- A court in the western town of Veurne has convicted three members of the extreme right wing Blood & Honour organisation on charges connected with the staging of several neo-Nazi concerts. This is the first time that members of Blood & Honour have been convicted on the basis on anti-racism legislation. One of those convicted also attended a memorial concert in honour of Ian Stuart Donaldson, the English founder of Blood & Honour. The court ruled that it was established that the three defendants were involved in the organisation of a neo-Nazi ceremony of remembrance and that during the concerts inflammatory and racist language was openly used. Two of the three defendants received a three month suspended gaol sentence. Given his record the third will have to serve his three month custodial sentence. Belgium's anti-racism centre CGKR is upbeat. Director Jozef De Witte: "We're pleased that there is a conviction. It's an important precedent. At last a court has acted and taken account of the spirit of the law." One of the concerts took place during a ceremony honouring the Nazi's paramilitary organisation, the SS. One of the concerts was also covertly filmed by VRT News.
© The Flanders News

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SHOP ASSISTANT SACKED FOR WEARING A HEADSCARF (Belgium)

8/3/2011- An outlet of the Dutch chain store Hema in Genk (Limburg) has decided not to extend the temporary contract of a shop assistant because the woman wears a headscarf. The woman was hired via the temping agency Randstad. The daily De Standaard reports that the shop assistant has been sacked because of complaints from shoppers. Jan Denys of Randstad: "She wore a headscarf and that violated the company's dress code. The girl's contract was terminated because she did not wish to comply." Jozef De Witte of Belgium's ant-racism centre CGKR told VRT News: "This does throw up questions. We are not yet familiar with the details of the case, but labour regulations may have been infringed." The temping agency Randstad says that they had no alternative, but to terminate the contract because Hema no longer wanted to employ the girl. Mr De Witte challenges this: "Temping agencies are not allowed to respond to discriminatory requests from customers." The anti-racism centre will investigate the matter only if the woman herself files a complaint.
© The Flanders News

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ON 100TH INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY, UN WARNS THAT DISCRIMINATION STILL ENDURES

8/3/2011- One hundred years after more than a million women poured out onto the streets around the world on the first International Women’s Day, the United Nations used the anniversary today to warn that despite the gains made much remains to be done to eliminate gender discrimination. “In too many countries and societies, women remain second-class citizens,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a message. “Although the gender gap in education is closing, there are wide differences within and across countries, and far too many girls are still denied schooling, leave prematurely or complete school with few skills and fewer opportunities. “Women and girls also continue to endure unacceptable discrimination and violence, often at the hand of intimate partners or relatives. In the home and at school, in the workplace and in the community, being female too often means being vulnerable. And in many conflict zones, sexual violence is deliberately and systematically used to intimidate women and whole communities.” Mr. Ban cited the urgent need for significant progress in women’s and children’s health. He also noted that while in the realm of decision-making more women in more countries are taking their rightful seat in parliament, fewer than 10 per cent of countries have female heads of State or government. Even where women are prominent in politics, they are often severely underrepresented in other areas of decision-making, including at the highest levels of business and industry, he added. This year’s observance focuses on equal access to education, training, and science and technology. “Only through women’s full and equal participation in all areas of public and private life can we hope to achieve the sustainable, peaceful and just society promised in the United Nations Charter,” Mr. Ban concluded.

Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women, the new entity grouping together the work of four previous UN bodies, highlighted the gains made since those marches of 100 years ago, when only two countries allowed women to vote, compared with virtually universal suffrage today, with women elected to lead governments in every continent. But, she said: “I suspect those courageous pioneers would look at our world today with a mixture of pride and disappointment. There has been remarkable progress as the last century has seen an unprecedented expansion of women’s legal rights and entitlements. Indeed, the advancement of women’s rights can lay claim to be one of the most profound social revolutions the world has seen… “But despite this progress over the last century, the hopes of equality expressed on that first International Women’s Day are a long way from being realized. Almost two out of three illiterate adults are women. Girls are still less likely to be in school than boys. Every 90 seconds of every day, a woman dies in pregnancy or due to childbirth-related complications despite us having the knowledge and resources to make birth safe,” she added. She stressed that across the world, women continue to earn less than men for the same work, and in many countries they have unequal access to land and inheritance rights. Despite high-profile advances, women still make up only 19 per cent of legislatures, 8 per cent of peace negotiators, and only 28 women are heads of State or government, she noted. “I have seen myself what women, often in the toughest circumstances, can achieve for their families and societies if they are given the opportunity,” said Ms. Bachelet, a former president of Chile. “The strength, industry and wisdom of women remain humanity’s greatest untapped resource. We simply cannot afford to wait another 100 years to unlock this potential.”

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay devoted her message to the courageous role women played in the recent peaceful mass movements that saw the ouster of the entrenched leaders of Tunisia and Egypt. “The work, however, is far from over,” she said. “In these moments of historic transition in Egypt and Tunisia, it is important to ensure that women’s rights are not set aside as something to be dealt with after the ‘crucial’ reforms are won. Women’s rights should be at the top of the list of new priorities.” She noted concerns that constitutional reviews and the development of reforms are undertaken without women’s full participation. “In fact, there are worrying signs about the content of some proposed reforms in Egypt being downright discriminatory,” she said. “The women and men in the Middle East and North Africa must ensure this is not the case.”

All over the world, major disparities remain between female and male access to education, employment and salaries, she added, stressing that while women are the world’s main food producers and their working hours are longer than those of men, women earn only 10 per cent of the world’s income and own less than one per cent of property worldwide. They also comprise nearly two thirds of the world’s 759 million illiterate adults. Highlighting the many advances in women’s and girls’ health in the last 100 years, such as reforms of the minimum age of marriage and sexual consent, safe abortions, contraception, mammograms, and progress towards ending sexual and gender-based violence, including female genital mutilation, UN World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Margaret Chan also stressed that women’s health involves much more than reproduction. “We are also faced with challenges,” she said. “Maternal mortality rates and HIV rates among young women are still too high, tobacco consumption among women is increasing, sexual and other forms of gender-based violence continue to be widespread, and there is an increasingly heavy burden of non-communicable diseases on women,” she added, underscoring how lack of education negatively affects fertility, smoking rates, and HIV prevention.
© UN News service

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HRW: CHECHEN WOMEN ABUSED IF REFUSE TO COVER HEAD

10/3/2011- The cars pull up in broad daylight. Security forces point guns at terrified women and shoot. It turns out they're paintball pellets, but still harsh punishment in Chechnya for leaving home without a headscarf. Chechnya's strongman Ramzan Kadyrov has imposed an Islamic dress code on women, and his feared security forces have used paintball guns, threats and insults against those refusing to obey. In a 40-page report released Thursday, Human Rights Watch condemned the campaign as a flagrant violation of women's rights and urged other nations to raise the issue with Moscow. "The enforcement of a compulsory Islamic dress code on women in Chechnya violates their rights to private life, personal autonomy, freedom of expression, and freedom of religion, thought, and conscience," the report said. "It is also a form of gender-based discrimination prohibited under international treaties to which Russia is a party." Kadyrov rules with the support of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who has counted on him to stabilize the mostly Muslim region in southern Russia after two separatist wars in the last 16 years. Russian authorities have turned a blind eye to the treatment of women and other rights abuses in Chechnya.

Human Rights Watch interviewed dozens of women who have experienced or witnessed attacks or harassment for their refusal to adhere to the Islamic dress code. One of the victims, identified as Louiza, told the rights group that she and a friend were attacked while walking down Putin Avenue in Grozny on a hot day last June, wearing skirts a little below the knee, blouses with sleeves a bit above the elbow and no headscarves. Suddenly a car without a license plate pulled up, its side window rolled down and a gun barrel pointed at them. "I thought the gun was real and when I heard the shots I thought: 'This is death,'" she recalled in the report. "I felt something hitting me in the chest and was sort of thrown against the wall of a building. "The sting was awful, as if my breasts were being pierced with a red-hot needle, but I wasn't fainting or anything and suddenly noticed some strange green splattering on the wall and this huge green stain was also expanding on my blouse."

The 25-year-old woman said her friend was hit on her legs and stumbled to the ground. Men dressed in the black uniform of Kadyrov's security forces looked out of the car's windows, laughing and sneering. "It's only at home that I could examine the bruise and it was so huge and ugly," Louiza recalled. "Since then, I don't dare leave home without a headscarf." Another target, a 29-year-old woman whose name was not given, said she was walking down the same central avenue in June with two other women, all without headscarves, when two cars stopped nearby and bearded men in black uniforms fired paintball guns at them, screaming: "Cover your hair, harlots!" The woman told Human Rights Watch that she knows 12 women who were shot at with paintball guns in June. Overall, at least 50 or 60 women were targeted, the rights group said.

Threatening leaflets also appeared on the streets of Grozny, warning women that those who fail to wear headscarves could face "more persuasive measures." The women interviewed by Human Rights Watch interpreted that as a threat to use real weapons. Kadyrov's security force has been blamed by rights activists for abductions, torture and extrajudicial killings in Chechnya. In July 2009, the director of the Chechen office of Russia's Memorial rights group, was abducted near her home in Grozny and found shot to death along a roadside a few hours later. Natalya Estemirova had publicly criticized the Islamic dress campaign as a violation of Russian law, angering Kadyrov who had threatened her with repercussions. A few weeks after the paintball shootings, Kadyrov told local television that he was ready to give awards to the men who carried out the attacks and that the targeted women deserved the treatment. There was no response from the federal authorities.

The paintball attacks ended in mid-June, having achieving Kadyrov's objective. The majority of women are now too scared to enter the center of Grozny without headscarves or dare to complain against the "virtue campaign." At Chechen State University in Grozny this week, all females students wore headscarves and, toeing the official line, defended the practice as part of local tradition and a sign of respect for Islam. "The headscarf is part of our religion, part of our faith," said Seda Sabarova, 18. Kadyrov also scoffed at criticism of his effort to enforce an Islamic dress code, telling foreign reporters that headscarves make women beautiful.
© The Associated Press

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COLLEAGUES MOURN DEATH OF RUSSIAN ANTIRACISM CAMPAIGNER GALINA KOZHEVNIKOVA

6/3/2011- In a country with few prominent voices speaking out against racism, Galina Kozhevnikova was a determined exception. Kozhevnikova was the deputy director of SOVA, a Moscow-based group founded in 2002 that has proven one of the few reliable sources of information on xenophobia and racist attacks in post-Soviet Russia. She died on March 5 from an unspecified illness at the age of 36. Historian Vyacheslav Likhachev, a specialist on nationalist movements, told RFE/RL's Russian Service that Kozhevnikova was "an honest, professional, and very good person."  "It was clear that this was work, but for her it was also very personal. It was more a matter of antifascist activism than plain professional motivation," Likhachev says. "It's known that she was received serious personal threats from neo-Nazis. But she understood the kind of sphere she was working in. She understood the ways in which it could be dangerous. And for her it was a conscious choice. It was her struggle, so to speak." Russia has been plagued by growing racism in the years since the Soviet collapse, as social and economic uncertainty have fed both labor migration and a rising resentment of non-Slavic newcomers.

Outspoken Critic
A number of patriotic, nationalist, and neo-Nazi groups have sprung up in recent years, the most extreme of which have sought to intimidate non-Slav residents and labor migrants, including many Central Asians and other former Soviet nationals. Hundreds of migrants and other non-Russian residents are beaten and killed each year in Russia. SOVA was one of the few organizations to publish statistics on such attacks and to offer counsel to their victims. Kozhevnikova was an outspoken critic of ultranationalist trends in Russia. In an interview with RFE/RL following the January 2010 contract killing of human rights lawyer Sergei Markelov and a young journalist, Anastasia Baburova, Kozhevnikova said the rising power of the far right threatened the security of the entire country. "The ultra-right has openly turned to antistate terror and direct terror and have set themselves the aim of destabilizing the situation in the country, creating an all-out panic with which they then aim to start a military coup," she said. Tatyana Lokshina, the deputy director of the Moscow office of the watchdog group Human Rights Watch, told Interfax that Kozhevnikova the "No. 1 expert" on radical nationalism. Kozhevnikova's death is being mourned by many members of Russia's diaspora community, who saw in her a valuable ally and defender of migrants' rights.

'Big Loss'
Abdullo Davlatov, who heads the Tajiks in Russia association, the largest Tajik-diaspora group in Russia, told RFE/RL's Tajik Service that his community had lost a powerful protector. "Her death is a big loss. She was a strong defender of all the foreign migrants and nonmigrants, including Tajiks, who were victims of racial attacks," Davlatov says. "Diaspora groups always claim that we are the ones defending our migrants, but I believe that Tajik migrants got more support from Galina than from all of us." In a statement, SOVA said Kozhevnikova "kept working until the last moment," despite suffering from what they described as a "grave disease." Her latest report, on racism and xenophobia in Russia in 2010, is expected to be published soon. Natalya Taubina, who heads the Public Verdict rights foundation, told RFE/RL's Russian Service that she was a rigorous researcher who was deeply committed to fighting racism in her country. "Galya was probably one of the very few experts in our country who understood this problem really well and could speak about it in a very professional and thoughtful way, without hysterics, and very convincingly," Taubina says. "I'm sure that she could prevail in a dispute with any opponent on issues related to xenophobia and ethnic hatred. "It's actually pretty difficult to imagine how we're going to live without Galya," she adds.
© RFE/RL

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NIQAB LAW SOLVES ISSUE THAT ISN'T ONE (opinion)

By Gwynne Dyer

8/3/2011- From the beginning of next month, it will be illegal for a Muslim woman in France to wear a full-face veil (niqab) in any public place. An opinion poll last week suggested that Marine LePen, the new leader of the far-right National Front, could win the first round of next year's presidential elections in France. These two facts are not unconnected. President Nicolas Sarkozy is in a panic as the National Front gains in the polls, for his own core vote is also on the right. He has responded by ordering a nationwide debate on Islam's place in secular France, and the new anti-niqab law is the centrepiece of his strategy. It is a solution to a problem that does not exist. There are around five million Muslims in France, but only a couple of hundred Muslim Frenchwomen wear the niqab in public. How is their occasional presence in public spaces a threat to society? In fact, there are probably more British women wearing niqab in my small patch of London than there are French women wearing niqab in the entire country. I see them in the supermarket, on the bus, in the street -- and when I overhear them talking to their husbands or their kids, I notice that most of them have London accents. That's because most of the niqab-wearers are not immigrants. They are the British-born daughters of immigrants, and they now appear in public wearing this extreme garb -- which was not normally worn by women back where their parents came from -- because of the crisis that always affects second-generation immigrants everywhere.

The men of the conservative older generation are horrified as their daughters absorb the values of the larger society around them, and try desperately to isolate them from those influences. It was a losing battle for Italian and Jewish fathers in New York a hundred years ago, and it's a losing battle for Algerian and Indian fathers in London and Paris now. But these things take time to work out. In the meantime, a tiny minority of British Muslim women wear niqabs, and an even tinier minority of Muslim Frenchwomen. So why would a French government ban women wearing niqab from taking a bus, entering a shop, or even just walking down the street? Because the right is in the ascendant in French politics, and this has unleashed a wave of panic-mongering over "multiculturalism." Assimilation of second-and third-generation immigrants is actually proceeding at the normal pace, but in the midst of the process it is possible to believe that the cultural turmoil is leading to a permanently divided society. Indeed, most people on the right do believe that, and whoever can more convincingly claim to have the solution for this imaginary problem wins the right-wing vote.

The tide of Islamophobia is running strongly on the European right at the moment. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been trumpeting the failure of multiculturalism for the past six months, and British prime minister David Cameron recently added his voice to the chorus. Left to their own devices, the various immigrant groups in these countries, including the Muslim groups, will assimilate to the general society in a couple of generations, as immigrants generally do. However, you could stall it entirely by attacking the minority groups and driving them into cultural ghettoes. That's the game that Sarkozy is playing now.

Gwynne Dyer's new book, Crawling from the Wreckage, was published recently in Canada by Random House.
© The Barrie Examiner

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MUSLIMS, JEWS WARN EUROPE: MAINSTREAMING OF FAR-RIGHT PARTIES IS UNACCEPTABLE

In Paris, European Muslim and Jewish leaders agree on joint action against extremists

7/3/2011- rominent Muslim and Jewish leaders from across Europe who gathered in Paris on Monday have pledged to stand together against the rise of far-right xenophobic and racist parties that represent an escalating peril to ethnic and religious minorities across Europe, including Jews and Muslims. Members of the Coordinating Committee of European Muslim and Jewish Leaders, including top communal leaders from Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the US, announced plans for a series of public events in European capitals, on 9 May (Europe Day). The leaders expressed deep concern about the emergence into the political mainstream of extremist parties in many European countries and declared that it was “totally unacceptable” that several of these parties had been accepted by governing coalitions as tacit partners where they are allowed to help shape the agenda.

Contending that “Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and racism must never be allowed to become respectable,” the leaders expressed disquiet over recent pronouncements by European statesmen including President Sarkozy of France, Chancellor Merkel of Germany and Prime Minister Cameron of Britain, characterizing multiculturalism as a failure; comments that have been cited by far-right parties as evidence that they are winning the battle for public opinion in Europe. Promising to press European decision-makers not to co-operate in any way with extremist parties, the Jewish and Muslim leaders vowed: “We will not allow ourselves to be separated, but will stand together to fight bigotry against Muslims, Jews and other minorities. An attack on any of us is an attack on all of us.” Citing studies which show that anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are both growing rapidly in countries across Europe, the communal leaders affirmed that “Jews and Muslims are equal stakeholders in Europe, not expendable guests, and must therefore enjoy the same rights as everybody else. Appeasing those that sow the seeds of hatred and division is not only morally wrong, but will have disastrous consequences for Europe if allowed to continue.”

The first meeting of the Coordinating Committee was initiated by the New York-based Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU), the World Council for Muslim Inter-Faith Relations (WCMIR), and the World Jewish Congress (WJC), and is a follow up to the first annual Gathering of European Muslim and Jewish leaders, which was launched in Brussels last December - see www.worldjewishcongress.org/en/events/10. At the time, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy received the group and endorsed its aims.

WCMIR’s European chair, British Imam Abduljalil Sajid, declared: “Islamophobia and anti-Semitism represent the sharp end of racism in Europe, so Jews and Muslims must fight them together, and prevent anyone from turning us into scapegoats. At the same time, Europeans of all backgrounds should come together to defend basic European and universal values of democracy, pluralism and mutual acceptance.”

FFEU President and WJC Vice President Rabbi Marc Schneier, who successfully initiated similar activities between Muslims and Jews in America together with the Islamic Society of North America, declared: “Although much of the venom of extremist and populist parties is directed these days against Muslims, it should not be forgotten that several of the far-right parties, including the National Front in France, have histories replete with anti-Semitism. On 9 May, we will gather in Paris and elsewhere to say that the rise of such parties across Europe is menacing to both of our communities, as well as to basic democratic values of pluralism and tolerance. If Europe wants to remain true to its ethical and spiritual foundations, it must embrace people from different cultures, religions and ways of life. If not, it will not only fail as a concept, it will lose its soul.”
© email source

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HUNGARY’S SHAMEFUL HUMAN-RIGHTS RECORD (opinion)

Hate crime, hate speech and the marginalisation of the Roma
By Richard Field
, founder and chairman of the American House Foundation, a US-registered private foundation that is working with the Hungarian Red Cross and other Hungarian non-government organisations on issues of poverty, homelessness and social exclusion.

9/3/2011- A nation is judged by the way it treats its weakest members – so wrote Aristotle in the third century BC. One wonders what he would make of last Thursday’s conviction and sentencing of five Roma and one Hungarian to a total of 29 years in prison for what prosecutors said was a racially motivated attack on a Hungarian student. Four of the six suspects had been held in detention since their arrest on 23 October 2009 even though their victim did not sustain any permanent or life-threatening injuries. If their conviction is upheld on appeal, most of them will serve out the balance of their sentences in prisons usually reserved for murderers and repeat violent offenders. To the extent several of the defendants regularly intimidated, assaulted and robbed students at a local college they deserve to be punished. What is disconcerting about the verdict is that this is the second time in less than half a year Roma have been convicted of committing hate crimes against Hungarians when Roma tend to be the victims of such crime.

Hungary's record on civil rights widely criticised
According to an Amnesty International report last year Violent Attacks Against Roma in Hungary, Hungarian prosecutors rarely charge non-Roma assailants with an “assault on another person for being part… of a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group” under Article 174/B of the Hungarian Criminal Code. Figures provided by the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) indicate that between 2005 and 2009 there were 24 hate crime cases involving the indictment of 38 defendants, all of whom were found guilty of committing a crime against a member of a community. Because Hungarian police are prohibited from identifying the ethnicity of defendants in legal proceedings it is difficult to determine to what extent hate crime laws have been turned on their head and are being used against the very ethnic minorities they are intended to protect. The Amnesty report is one of several documenting human-rights abuses in Hungary. Even the tersely worded 2009 Human Rights Report on Hungary issued by the United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor devotes ten single-spaced pages to alleged human-rights violations ranging from the unlawful detention and forced repatriation of asylum seekers, to the use of excessive force by the police and limitations on people’s rights of peaceful assembly.

Abuse by authorities too

Many of the human-rights violations cited appear to have been perpetrated by law-enforcement officers against the very people they are supposed to serve and protect. Comparing the findings of these reports with the Human Rights Watch 1996 report Rights Denied: the Roma of Hungary, Hungary’s human-rights record does not appear to have improved much over the past 15 years despite joining the European Union and being a party to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedom. In its 2010 report Attacks Against Roma in Hungary the European Roma Rights Center documents at least 48 attacks on Roma between January 2008 and July 2010, including a number that were racially motivated. Some of the crimes involve attacks on Roma homes using Molotov cocktails and even hand grenades. In at least two highly publicised cases shots were fired at the victims as they fled their burning homes, resulting in several fatalities.

On 22 January 2008 in Szigetvár a Roma and her daughter were violently kicked by five individuals wearing steel-tipped boots. Police started investigating a possible racial motivation only after the perpetrators confessed to attacking the women because they were Roma. Pécs City Court found them guilty of causing bodily harm and public nuisance but found no grounds for the crime being racially motivated. Encouragingly the second-level court found the defendants guilty of violence against a member of a community.

On 15 April 2009 an 18-year-old Roma male and three minors were waiting for a tram in front of Budapest’s Keleti train station when they were severely beaten by a group of hooded individuals. Here, too, the police are investigating it as an assault on members of an ethnic community.

On the night of 22 February 2009 a 27-year-old Roma man and his four-year-old son were shot dead as they fled their home that had been set on fire by Molotov cocktails. The initial police investigation treated the case as an accident. Only when Viktoria Mohácsi, then a Roma Member of the European Parliament, discovered the remains of the Molotov cocktails, spent cartridges and lead shot among the victims’ clothing did the local police declare it a crime scene, especially as the autopsy found that they had died from bullet wounds and not smoke inhalation as originally claimed.

Last September an extended Roma family was celebrating the baptism of its newest member when six policemen allegedly attacked the family and guests with tear gas and rubber batons. Anyone resisting was arrested and charged with assault on a law-enforcement officer. This and other incidents suggest that it is not merely skinheads and members of extremist organisations that are responsible for racially motivated attacks on Roma but law-enforcement officers as well.

Police terror
The theft of a television or lawn-mower often gives police a pretext for raiding Roma neighbourhoods, usually late at night. It seems that this frequently involves kicking in the front door, inspecting everyone’s identification documents and conducting a room-to-room search (often without a warrant). It also regularly involves beatings and arrests. The terror lasts for several hours as the police make their way from one house to the next, overturning furniture, emptying shelves and cabinets, and physically and verbally abusing the terrified Roma inhabitants. If local police are able to operate with impunity it is because prosecutors and judges will nearly always take the word of a police officer over that of a Roma, especially when corroborated by a fellow officer. Furthermore, law enforcement agencies are extremely reluctant to initiate disciplinary action against their own. Police are rarely suspended and almost never discharged. None have been indicted for hate crimes. Furthermore it is common for police accused of brutality to charge their victims with assault on a police officer, thereby sowing confusion and creating legal grounds for taking their accusers into preventative custody. Judges often suspend cases brought against individual police pending the outcome of cases brought by the police against their accusers.

The misery of Ózd
Racially motivated abuse is just one way Roma's civil liberties are violated. I witnessed a far more pernicious and insidious example of institutional racism during a recent visit to the northern city of Ózd. The hills surrounding Ózd are barren and brown having been nearly completed denuded of their pine forests some 15 years ago. The forestry authorities blame the destruction of Ózd's forests on illegal collection of firewood by Roma. The Roma claim much of the forest was actually cleared, either legally or illegally, by the county forestry authorities who neglected to plant new saplings. After 15 years of steady erosion the soil is too thin to support reforestation. Much of Ózd's Roma population spend hours every day foraging for fuel. In the neighbouring village of Farkaslyuk (population 2,000) dozens of families take turns mining the southern rim of an enormous slagheap for pieces of discarded anthracite. The work involves using picks and shovels to burrow under the rim and extract hard pieces of coal from among the sands, stone and debris removed from the nearby mine. The work is dangerous. The overhang can collapse at any time and the slopes are precarious and steep. But many consider it less risky than gathering twigs, saplings or wood of any kind. In Ózd anyone transporting or possessing firewood must be able to prove he purchased it from an authorised dealer. Otherwise the wood in his possession is considered contraband subject to confiscation (along with the vehicle used to transport it), and its bearer is subject to a minimum fine of HUF 10,000 (EUR 36.66).

At 8pm on the evening of Sunday, 8 October a 40-year-old man was transporting some firewood in a cart with his two sons. The younger son of 16 years was pushing the cart while his father and older brother pulled. A police cruiser pulled up and two policemen demanded to know the source of the wood. When the man was unable to prove he had obtained it legally, the police took all three into custody. The three were interrogated at the police station. Law permits the interrogation of minors only in the presence of a parent or guardian who is not being charged with the same crime, but such niceties are frequently overlooked. In addition to charging them with possession of contraband they charged the father with endangering the life of a minor. After signing their statements the three were taken to Miskolc and held in preventative detention for three days at a cost to Hungarian taxpayers of some HUF 100,000 (EUR 366.60). According to police records, the value of the "contraband" wood was HUF 3,200 (EUR 12). In response to demands that the police crack down on so-called “gypsy crime” one of the first acts of the Fidesz government last year was to make it possible for police to detain suspects for up to 72 hours even in the case of petty theft. Roma tend to commit petty thefts, making them particularly susceptible.

Papers, please
To be Roma in Ózd is to constantly suffer the indignity of having one’s identity papers inspected by the police and being fined HUF 5,000, HUF 10,000 or HUF 15,000 (EUR 18.32, 36.64, 54.97) for even the slightest infringement. In December 2010 two policemen stopped a Roma youth as he was coming out of his own house. Asked what he was doing in the house, the boy said he lived there. Inspecting his identification, the police noticed that his official address was registered at another house in the same town and fined him HUF 16,000 (EUR 58.64). HUF 16,000 is the amount the government pays families every month after each child. And for many Roma children it is the difference between eating once a day or eating only once every second day. So when police go out of their way to fine Roma they are literally depriving them of the means to feed themselves and their children. Such random checks are not limited to Roma males. In Farkaslyuk police regularly check the identification of schoolchildren on their way to and from school and even mothers escorting their children to and from kindergarten.

The wheels of injustice
The few Roma affluent enough to afford cars are routinely stopped and searched. As it is, most Roma rely on a bicycle for transport. Soon they won’t be able to afford bicycles either because police rarely miss an opportunity to cite Roma cyclists for missing reflectors, headlights, bells, brake pads, name tags, winter tyres and any other number of minor offences. Often the bicyclist is given the choice of paying a HUF 20,000 (EUR 73.29) fine and having the bicycle confiscated or paying HUF 40,000 (EUR 146.59) and keeping the bicycle. The Ózd police are equally strict when it comes to inspecting carts pulled or drawn by hand, for many Roma the only means of transporting food and fuel. Last year police fined a Roma youth who had set out to cut some grass for his family’s animals HUF 20,000 (EUR 73.32) for allegedly brandishing an instrument "threatening to public safety" in the form of a sickle, which they promptly confiscated.

Hungarian rust belt
Traditionally a center of mining and agriculture Ózd became home to one of Hungary’s largest steelworks in the 1950s despite its remote location in the foothills of the Matras. At its peak the steelmill employed 15,000 people with an additional 4,000 working in nearby mines. When these closed shortly after the fall of communism over half of Ózd’s adult population lost their jobs. Over the next 20 years those who could afford to moved away. Today only 37,000 live in a city that in 1989 had 62,000 residents. Here as elsewhere the collapse of Hungary’s heavy industry and collective farming system fell on Roma the hardest. One of the men mining the slagheap had previously worked in the mine from the age of 16 until its closing in 1989. “In the mines nobody cared if you were a gypsy,” he said. “Everyone looked out for one another.” His story is typical, and perhaps even symbolic, of the plight of the nation’s Roma. Regarded as the equal of any other industrial or agricultural worker under communism, Hungary's Roma went from being employed full-time in the mines, factories and agricultural cooperatives to being unemployed and having to scrounge for coal and food. Under communism miners and steel workers were among the highest-paid professions. All that changed in 1989 with the abrupt closure of the steelmill and mines. Former colleagues suddenly found themselves competing with one another for a rapidly shrinking pool of jobs. Today Roma make up over one-third of Ózd’s population. Out of 9,800 working-age Roma only 300 are employed by a public or private company. Last year the local government employed 400 Roma as public service labourers for six to eight hours a day for up to nine months cleaning public areas, repairing roads, clearing drainage ditches and streams, and maintaining cemeteries. The opportunity to earn minimum wage for nine months out of the year helped to offset drastic cuts in entitlement and social spending.

Political price
Recently the Fidesz government limited to four hours a day and to three months the amount of public service work local governments may provide the long-term unemployed. These cuts in social spending combined with a dramatic increase in the cost of basic foodstuffs constitutes a serious threat to Hungary's Roma.
Because of its large industrial workforce, Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén was the most “proletarian” of Hungary’s 19 countries and its residents tended to return Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) candidates to parliament and local city councils. The second half of the last decade witnessed a mass defection of MSZP supporters to the extreme political right, including entire institutions such as the police. Today, an estimated 70 per cent of Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén county policemen are reputed to support the far-right party Jobbik (even though civil servants are prevented from joining political parties or canvassing on their behalf) and one of the independent police trade unions representing about 13 per cent of the national police force even signed a cooperation agreement with Jobbik in May 2009. If one considers that the policemen patrolling Roma neighbourhoods are typically between 18 and 25 years old and coming of age during a period of extreme nationalist and xenophobic sentiment not witnessed since the Second World War, it’s easy to understand how so many policemen in Ózd would believe all Roma are criminals and treat them accordingly, when in fact Roma are no more likely to commit crimes than non-Roma.

Families left destitute
Ordinarily an individual unable to pay a fine is given the option of paying it in installments over time or performing public service. In Ózd 90 per cent of such requests are rejected. Fines not paid within 15 days of delivery are automatically forwarded to a court receiver’s office. Entitled by law to charge fees and penalties on top of the original fine, by the time the office issues its first collection notice the total amount of the arrears to be collected has usually increased two or three fold. In the case of the youth fined HUF 16,000 in front of his home, within two months the office had lifted HUF 47,000 (EUR 172.21) in fines, penalties, fees and interest from his account. Often funds not legally subject to foreclosure, including child-support payments, maternity-leave payments and welfare, are remitted by banks to court receivers along with whatever income they might have, leaving the families destitute. As an authorised collection agent, the court receiver’s office is also authorised to place liens on real estate and other property. In Hungary it is not unheard of for court-appointed receivers to collaborate with real estate and car crime syndicates.
One wonders why the police issue so many citations. In the case of one unfortunate Roma, HUF 400,000 (EUR 1,465) of child-support arrears resulted in the auctioning off of his HUF 8 million (EUR 29,316) house and HUF 4 million (EUR 14,658) worth of vehicles for less than 5 per cent of their fair market value. Perhaps all of this is coincidence and it is unfair to imply there is a conspiracy by law-enforcement officials, prosecutors, courts and court receivers to systematically dispossess Roma of their money and property. Over half of Farkaslyuk’s 300 homes are currently the subject of foreclosure proceedings handled by the court receiver’s office on behalf of the local government, utility companies and banks.

Political failings
In 1996 it was virtually unheard of for any Hungarian politician to publicly attack any recognised nationalities, ethnicities or religions. Fifteen years later it has become all too common as the direct result of the meteoric rise of the so-called Jobbik – the Movement for a Better Hungary. It is difficult to understand why political, civic and business leaders have countenanced fanatical hate speech from the likes of Jobbik’s Gábor Vona and Krisztina Morvai for so long. Part of the problem is that according to law only speech deliberately intended to incite violence against a particular community qualifies as hate speech. Obviously this is a ridiculous standard, one that parliament needs to change. There is already plenty of evidence to suggest that Vona’s followers are regularly inspired by his fascist rhetoric to terrorise Roma neighbourhoods nationwide. Members of the Magyar Garda are frequently identified among those either assaulting Roma or coming to the defence of their assailants.
As this article was going to press some 2000 Magyar Garda were converging on the eastern village of Gyöngyöspata to attend a rally on Saturday, and were already terrorising the inhabitants and assaulting children on their way to and from school, apparently as retribution for the attacks on students that was the subject of Thursday's trial. Former president of the republic László Sólyom’s inexplicable reticence with regard to Jobbik sent the wrong message to Hungary's political, civic and business leaders. After all, if the president (and former chief justice of the Constitutional Court) is not prepared to speak out in defence of civil liberties and democratic principals, then why should anyone else? Apparently the most salient lesson of the 20th century has been lost on Sólyom and the rest of Hungary's elite: for evil to triumph it is enough that good men do nothing.

Fortunately, the good men and women at the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union and other non-government organisations are doing something. In response to these conditions, the HCLU set up 13 legal advisory offices in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén county to inform victims of their rights and ensure they have access to competent lawyers. Unless and until political, civic, business and religious leaders take Hungary’s international treaty obligations seriously with regard to protecting the civil liberties of ethnic, national and religious minorities, the democratic values underpinning the nation’s fledgling democracy, already greatly weakened by ill-considered changes to the Constitution of late, will continue to erode and recede until, like the barren brown hills of Ózd, a once-flourishing political, ethical and civil culture is reduced to a wasteland.
© The Budapest Times

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ROMA GROUP WANTS EU STATES TO ADMIT PART OF CZECH ROMA

11/3/2011- The Czech Roma group Forum has complained to the EU Foreign Minister and European institutions about "anti-Gypsy" stands prevailing in the Czech Republic and asked them to discuss admission of a certain number of Czech Roma with selected EU countries. The Roma activists suggest that the Czech Republic should cover the given countries' expenses linked to their admission of Roma. Moreover, Prague should cover the Czech Roma' "new future" abroad, Forum writes in a document released to CTK. Apart from EU chief diplomat Catherine Ashton and Council of Europe human rights commissioner Thomas Hammarberg, Forum has also turned to Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas, Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra (both Civic Democrats, ODS) and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09). The Forum document's six signatories include well-known Roma activists Ondrej Gina and Ladislav Bily. On behalf of Forum, they complain about long-term racial violence, discrimination, human rights violation and anti-Gypsy approach.

Before entering the EU, the Czech Republic tried to fulfil the relevant requirements, but the situation "dramatically worsened" after the entry, the authors write, also mentioning alleged racist approach to Roma by Czech institutions and violence on the part of neo-Nazis. "In terms of its approach to Roma, the Czech Republic is not a law-abiding state or a democratic country," Forum writes. It asks the Council of Europe, the European Union and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to start negotiations with ten of the 15 "old" EU members, plus Switzerland, about their admission of "a certain number" of Roma from the Czech Republic. It mentions Germany, France, Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Italy and Luxembourg in this connection. The signatories recall that many Roma have left the Czech Republic for abroad in recent years. Canada reintroduced visa requirements for Czechs over the inflow of Czech refugees, and Britain introduced some measures as well in the past, they write.

"To prevent similar and further complications, it is necessary that European bodies and institutions stage diplomatic negotiations with individual countries that would admit Roma refugees," the Forum activists write. According to them, international institutions' hitherto steps have been ineffective, though the institutions have enough information about the situation in the Czech Republic. They should start enforcing an improvement and possibly impose sanctions, the activists write. They say Czech Roma have been trying hard and establishing activist associations, but they cannot change the situation without being helped. Hammarberg criticised Prague's approach to Roma earlier this month. He pointed to anti-Roma stands of Czechs and called on the Czech Republic to intensify its Roma integration efforts.
© The Prague Daily Monitor

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ANALYSIS OF CZECH NEWS SERVER DENÍK.CZ: STUPID, OR FLAT-OUT RACIST?

By František Kostlán

10/3/2011- The Deník newspaper (available online as Deník.cz), owned by the Vltava Labe press, has long embodied a low standard of journalism in general and no standard at all when it comes to reporting on the Roma minority. The vast majority of its articles referring to the Roma minority in some way are either very stupid, or stink to high heaven of racism and xenophobia. When we realize that the paper usually prints articles by various racists or interviews with them (for example, with the former chair of the neo-Nazi Workers' Party, Vandas), it becomes even clearer which way the wind is blowing. We have pointed this out several times before. According to our information, one editor at one of the North Bohemian editions of Deník was even recently fired because of his racism, but that has not been enough to prevent racist messaging in the paper. Unfortunately, the editors at the Prague headquarters are successfully supervising some of their local-level newsrooms or some of their editors who display either apathy to racism or outright racism itself. Editor Drahomíra Považanová has recently confirmed Deník.cz's vicious distinction in this field. In an article called "The Worker's Party demands protection" (Dělnická strana žádá o ochranu), Považanová writes the following about crime in Nový Bydžov (without even bothering to cite a source for this information): "The situation in Nový Bydžov escalated last fall after the Roma minority committed several muggings and the rape of a young woman."

A statement like this just makes me want to cry out: "Ok, Roma, confess, why did you all, all 200 to 300 000 of you in the Czech Republic, rape a young woman in Nový Bydžov?" Such a generalization is an expression of racism and an incitement against Roma people. Many questions surround the reporting methods of Deník (and Deník.cz). Why doesn't the editor of the local news desk keep an eye out for such things? Why doesn't the editor-in-chief of the local news desk address it? It seems these editors and editors-in-chief agree with this type of reporting, otherwise they would never publish reports formulated in such a way. Why does the Prague news desk, which edits the national news section in Deník, not succeed in preventing this racism (or stupidity, whichever it is)? The Prague news desk honestly does its best, but this problem is taking on dimensions never seen before.

Last but not least: Why does the Vltava Labe press, which is a German publisher, tolerate something like this? Doesn't the company sense that racism in connection with anything German continues to be understood in the context of the crimes and deprivations of WWII - and not just in the Czech Republic? With Nazism, that is to say, with Germany's recent past? I am already receiving e-mails full of sarcastic commentary from Roma readers and others regarding the publisher of Deník, the spirit of which can be summed up in one sentence: "Would you expect anything else from the Germans?" (To put it in a very euphemistic, easy-to-swallow form). So - what we expect from "the Germans", from the Prague news desk of Deník, and from its local news desks is, all irony aside, the best. We expect them to follow the ethics of their profession, to finally make decisive cuts and get rid of their editors-in-chief, editors and reporters who are either so racist or so unintelligent as to not recognize racism when they see it. We expect them to train the rest of their journalists in such a way that similar reporting will never appear in Deník again. If it does, we decidedly will not keep quiet about it.

P.S. After calling editor Považanová, she promised she would correct the claim that the "Roma minority" raped the young woman. Even if she actually publishes a correction, that won't answer the questions posed here.
© Romea

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CZECH AUTHORITIES URGED TO PROTECT THE ROMANI COMMUNITY IN NOVÝ BYDŽOV

10/3/2011- Yesterday, Amnesty International and the European Roma Rights Centre sent a letter urging the Czech authorities to ensure protection of Roma in Nový Bydžov during a demonstration by the Workers’ Social Justice Party planned on 12 March. The Workers’ Party, the predecessor to the Workers’ Social Justice Party, was dissolved by the Supreme Administrative Court in February 2010. The Court held that its programme led to incitement to national, racial and ethnic intolerance and amounted to an attempt to infringe the basic rights and freedoms of certain groups, in particular the minorities. In November 2008, the then-Workers’ Party organized a rally in the Janov neighbourhood of the town of Litvínov. After the rally, the demonstrators tried to reach the mainly Roma neighbourhood of the town armed with stones, firecrackers and petrol bombs with the apparent intention of attacking the Roma community. About 500 demonstrators clashed with police who prevented the attacks against the Roma community. The Workers’ Social Justice Party has the same chairman, the same leadership and the same platform.

Far-right groups are using the internet to make links between the planned demonstration in Nový Bydžov and the Janov rally of 2008. One of the far-right groups that has announced its support for the demonstration in Nový Bydžov is the Autonomous Nationalists. The group reportedly issued a call in which it reminded the “pro-national forces” of the Janov events and declared that it was now again “time to show the power”. The organizers of the demonstration reportedly plan to march through the town on a route which passes by a house inhabited by Romani families. Nový Bydžov became a focus of attention for the media, local and national politicians in the aftermath of a rape of a 21-year-old woman in November 2010. The suspected perpetrator of the attack was allegedly a Roma. In response to the attack, the Mayor of Nový Bydžov stated that the rape called forth the “last drop of hatred of citizens towards Gypsies”. Following the Mayor’s statement, the Workers’ Social Justice Party welcomed “open and truthful naming of the problem” and announced its readiness to help, including by providing monitoring patrols to the municipality.

Amnesty International and the European Roma Rights Centre remind the Czech authorities of their obligation under international human rights law and standards to ensure the security and the physical integrity of Roma, without any discrimination, and to exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate, punish and provide redress for racially motivated attacks by non-state actors. The organizations will monitor the situation during the demonstration in Nový Bydžov.
© European Roma Rights Center

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EUROPEAN CENTRE CRITICISES PRAGUE OVER ROMANI KIDS' EDUCATION (Czech Rep.)

8/3/2011- The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) yesterday criticised Prague over the education of Romany kids, saying that many of them continue to be unjustifiably sent to "special schools" for pupils with learning difficulties, though the European Court of Human Rights condemned this a few years ago. In November 2007, the Czech Republic lost a court dispute with 18 young Czech Romanies. The Strasbourg-based court decided that by transferring the Romany children to special schools, the Czech Republic violated their right to education and discriminated against them. The ERRC said it is up to the Council of Europe to check what steps Prague has taken to put the situation right. ERRC representatives said in a fresh report that the Czech Republic has fulfilled only one part of the verdict. It pays compensation to the Romanies who won the dispute in Strasbourg, but fails to upgrade the school system, which remains rigid, petrified and not open enough.

Every first-grade pupil is expected to have certain qualities and habits. If he/she does not have them, he/she is diagnosed and ends up in a special school, Stanislav Daniel, from the ERRC, told CTK. He said this approach has been taken not only to children but also foreigners. The special schools, recently renamed to "practical," are also designed for mentally handicapped children. The ERRC says in its report that Romany children end up in practical schools much more often than other children, even if they are in no way handicapped. The Czech Republic has not adopted any legislative changes to prevent "segregation," nor has it set a schedule of steps in this respect, the ERRC said. However, the Czech Education Ministry previously completed the national action plan of inclusive education, that reacts to the Strasbourg verdict and is to provide better conditions of children in disadvantage. The document sets relevant measures and deadline for them to be taken. The cabinet approved the document in March 2010 and expects the ministry to report on its fulfilment by the end of 2011.

According to the ERRC, the Czech steps are insufficient and without concrete results. Prague says it does not have money, but the special schools cost as much or even more than positive measures would cost, said Daniel. If the Czech Republic invested in Romany pupils' integration and attendance of standard schools, they would have a better chance of achieving higher education and a better job. If they continued to be placed in practical schools, their further education would be limited and they may end up on social allowances, the ERRC says. Council of Europe human rights commissioner Thomas Hammarberg criticised the Czech approach to Romanies last week. He pointed to anti-Romany stands in Czech society and urged Prague to intensify its Romany integration efforts. Hammarberg also mentioned the segregation of Romany schoolchildren in the Czech Republic.
© The Prague Daily Monitor

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GOVNT’S ROMA INCLUSION AGENCY HEAD: MOST MAYORS NOT READY TO WORK HARD ON INTEGRATION (Czech Rep.)

One of the gravest problems facing Czech society is the situation of the country’s Romany minority. According to official estimates, there are between 150,000 and 300,000 Romanies living in the country; they face disproportionately high unemployment and continued discrimination in housing and education. Some 80,000 of them live in socially excluded locations. To assist the local authorities in improving the living conditions in such cities and towns, the Czech government set up in 2009 the Agency for Social Inclusion in Romany Localities. The agency has been active in more than 20 such areas, and this year, 19 more applied to join the programme.

7/3/2011- “There are two target groups. These are people threatened with social exclusion, especially Romanies but our primarily focus is on our partners on the local level – the local authorities, NGOs, town hall officials, the police, those who can offer employment, and so on. “We operate what we call local partnerships which are teams of all those local actors. They analyze the situation and involve the local Romanies in the process; then we prepare a plan of measures and activities tailored for the particular place. That’s what we do during our first year in a place. In the second year, we push for all those measures to be put to work so we only see some results after two years.”

Which of the two groups – potential employers, local authorities and so on, or the socially excluded people - is more difficult to approach and work with?
“That’s totally different but the issue is of the same importance. It’s not easy to motivate the people living in social exclusion but it’s also difficult to motivate the majority population to reflect the situation, and to be open to social inclusion and to the solutions that we offer. So working with both target groups is very different, but it’s equally difficult.”

You are very good at helping with the immediate consequences of social exclusion – but can you also help remove its causes?
“Our activities don’t only target the visible problems. In education for instance, we push schools to think about the big picture; when we prepare a strategy to include Roma children in a school, we have in mind all the children at that school. So our activities open schools for all the children who need any sort of special support. We believe we tackle the issue in the whole context.”

Do you work to change some things on the central level? For instance, one of the big problems is usury; another is gambling. If you achieved changes to the legislation, it would affect all these communities at once…
“Part of our work that is not that well known is collecting information in the field and bringing it to the government. We communicate with ministries, suggesting changes to the system. Our proposals include changes to the legislation, the methods of state authorities, and so on. One of our agency’s most important activities is the preparation of a strategy to fight social inclusion. That strategy includes about a hundred measures that will, in cooperation with the government, change the system.”

You recently took part in a debate on Czech TV with two mayors – one from the town of Nový Bydžov that has acute problems with the Romany minority, and the other from Obrnice, a place outside Most where things seem to be going well. What is the difference – is it in the attitude of the local authorities or are there some other factors at play?
“It’s the attitude. I have to say that the situation in Nový Bydžov is not as difficult as that in Obrnice. There, out of some 2,500 people, some 1,000 are Romanies threatened by exclusion, and we can see that the activities that were put in place there actually help those people connect with the society. “In Nový Bydžov, around 400 people are threatened by social exclusion out of the town’s population of 7,000. So the problem there is not as grave as in Obrnice. Also, many of the Romanies in Nový Bydžov have jobs, they send their children to school, and so on. But the authorities in Nový Bydžov are not doing their job well. So the problem is in the attitude.”

This year, 19 communities across the country have applied to join your programme, out of which you will pick seven. First of all, are you disappointed that you didn’t hear from all the municipalities that face similar problems, and second, shouldn’t you accept all who apply?
“That’s a crucial question. I think that mayors and local authorities are simply not ready to work hard to improve the situation in their towns. But I also have to say that people from another 30 or 40 places have been calling our office to get more information; that means they are getting ready to do something, which is very important. Our agency can certainly better inform the authorities about what we do. “As for the second part of your question, that’s a big problem. If 19 towns call for assistance, we should be able to help them. That’s something that should be resolved in the future.”

Well, you are directly run by the government – should the government basically increase your funding so that you can extend your operations?
“It would be great but I’m not sure if I am able to comment on this. I’m really happy that this government is helping the agency to grow and to operate in more localities. Another issue is whether they can help us to work in all the localities that are ready to cooperate with us.”

At about the same time that those 19 communities applied to join your programme, more than 50 mayors signed a declaration asking the government for more powers in dealing with what they call the “inadaptable” people. They basically want power to control who gets social benefits and who doesn’t, based on their behaviour. Do you think this is a risk for what you are doing, that the authorities will want to go this way, rather than join your programme?
“Those 51 mayors, who gathered in Nový Bydžov to ask for more repressive tools, they don’t speak on behalf of all Czech mayors. There are more and more town officials who realize that if they don’t deal with the situation, the problem will grow much bigger in the future. So I think that those 51 mayors are those who are unable to work on integration, and they are not the voice of all Czech mayors.”

But are you concerned that there will be more and more mayors who identify with this voice?
“Yes, to some extent. But we just have to react to their activities by offering other ways of solving the problem. I see it as our task to be able to communicate with those 50 mayors as well, and to offer them a different kind of solution.”
© Radio Prague

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EXTREMISM HAS NO PLACE AT PRAGUE CASTLE (Czech Rep.- opinion)

President Václav Klaus has defended Ladislav Bátora, branded an extremist by both the media and politicians 
By Petr Nováček

7/3/2011- President Václav Klaus has always been a politician possessing distinct yet — until recently — not extreme opinions. Therefore, we can expect that he will occasionally come up with a surprisingly provocative statement. After a relatively long pause, Klaus wrote a remarkable essay titled “A small Czech Hilsneriad, or another case of the dictatorship of political correctness” that appeared in the daily Právo. In it, he defends Ladislav Bátora, who was set to become — allegedly upon the Castle’s recommendation — the first deputy of the Minister of Education, Josef Dobeš (Public Affairs, VV). But seeing that the media and politicians branded Bátora an extremist, he will most likely be just his aide. In Klaus’ opinion, this is unjust since that which is “politically correct” is throughout the world and in our country, too, allegedly defined by a group of people who have attained an incredibly strong position in the media. It is somewhat peculiar that the right-wing Klaus assumed this position in the leftist Právo, after he published in the daily his “memoirs from journeys.”

Multi-colored past
But let’s get back to Bátora. Klaus is of the opinion that he is “a profoundly conservative, right-wing person, participating in various public events against things he does not agree with.” Yet, Bátora’s political past is too multi-colored to fit this description. In the 2006 elections, he was the election leader of the crypto-fascist National Party (NS), which openly denied the holocaust of the Roma and advocated “emigration of the Gypsies currently living in the territory of the Czech Republic to India.” In 2007, the NS’s youth organization even announced a march through Prague’s Jewish Town to mark the anniversary of the anti-Jewish pogrom in the Third Reich known as of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass. Bátora claims, however, that the NS only became xenophobic in the campaign preceding the European elections in 2009, when he no longer had anything common with it the party. Yet this is not true, and if the people at the Castle wanted to they could easily verify it. By the way, the “authentic right-wing man” Bátora, a graduate of several universities, launched his political career in the “non-right-wing” Czechoslovak Socialist Party and prior to joining the extremely eurosceptic initiative D. O. S. T. (an acronym that translates as “enough”), he was a member of several other parties. Simply said, he is a political tourist.

At one of the D. O. S. T. demonstrations, Bátora found himself next to and was photographed with Klaus, whom he admires, and MEP Jana Bobošíková, the leader of Suverenita.cz. Nevertheless, in the aforementioned essay, Klaus claims that he does not know Bátora in person and that he has never directly talked to him, neither has he read any of his texts. Yet on the Internet he found his blog and discovered that “Mr. Bátora’s opinions are close to my own in many respects.” What are these opinions? “Conservative compendium,” “Conservatism is not an ideology; it is a life position,” says Bátora and adds examples. And Klaus quoted some 30 lines of these examples in his essay. “Better Confucius than Rousseau, better Franz Joseph I than Joseph II, better national community than civil society, better Jarmila Šuláková than Jura Pavlica, better local than global, better ripe goulash at U Rozvařilů (a traditional Czech buffet) than a rubbery snack from McDonald’s…, better (Smetana’s) ‘The Bartered Bride’ than (Havel’s) ‘Leaving,’ better narrow-minded Czechs than the worldly, better believing than owing, better Koniáš than Halík, better the traditional pub U tří lip than the grand hotel Bilderberg…,” reads a selection of the sentences, which one can agree or disagree with or laugh out loud at. By the way, Rousseau and Joseph II were protagonists in an enlightenment that gave rise to European liberalism, which was for a time also endorsed by Klaus’s Civic Democrats (ODS). And while Joseph II above all elevated the monarchy, Franz Joseph I finished it off for good. Yet, it is not about Bátora and his “conservative compendium” — he is entitled to think whatever he wants. What is important is what Klaus thinks and says.

Why does he quote from Bátora’s blog the “wisdoms” of the type “no to Europe-ism, human-rightism, genderism, multiculturalism, feminism, anti-discriminationism, political correctness” and, of course, “no to the truth and love prescribed from Havel’s moral and spiritual lair…”? What a scrum of Klaus’ “non-loves”! But this is not what the president in person says, it is what Bátora thinks, “many of whose opinions” are close to those of Klaus. Yet, concealed behind Bátora’s shield, he kept secret which of the opinions are not close to his. Klaus is surrounded by a fan club, not aides. The latter would have the authority, strength and will to correct him. Former President Václav Havel used to have his informal Friday informal discussion meetings, Amálie, where everybody said what they liked. Klaus, on the other hand, has his CEP (Center for Economic and Politics), whose discussions he guides himself.

Continual citizens’ confidence
Klaus has always been a politician possessing distinct yet — until recently — not extreme opinions. When he was at the helm of the ODS, the party had a clear program and ideology, similarly to Miloš Zeman’s Social Democrats (ČSSD), the Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA) of Kroupa, Bratinka and Kalvoda, and Josef Lux’s Chrsitian Democrats (KDU-ČSL). Today, the situation is different. The parties have long “run out” of original ideas, and it appears that something similar has happened to the president. Now is a time of a clear deficit of substantial ideas in Czech politics, which have been replaced by tough statements and personal attacks. Havel gradually became disliked by many, and at the end of his more than 12-year tenure, little more than half of the citizens trusted him. Yet even his critics did not hammer, vilify and ridicule him as ruthlessly as for some time many have done in the case of Klaus. And it seems it will not get any better, since the changes in the intellectual and emotional area accompany the aging of every one of us. Thus, Klaus will certainly again take us by surprise with some provocative original statement or other. After all, he is not taking any risk. He is still trusted by more than three-fifths of Czech citizens. The intellectuals, who may object to his defending Bátora and similar “master strokes,” form a tiny part of the population. The majority, who, on the contrary, are impressed by his shows of strength, will be only too glad to praise Klaus for some sort of “kick in the teeth” of Gypsies, foreigners, eco-terrorists and others who are “not our fellow countrymen.”
© Czech Position

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MIGRANTS END GREEK HUNGER STRIKE AFTER GOVERNMENT OFFER (Greece)

9/3/2011- Nearly 300 migrant workers in Greece have ended a six-week hunger strike after the government offered a deal over residence permits. Details of the deal were not immediately available but it is believed the mainly North African protesters will get temporary permits. More than 100 protesters had been taken to hospital and some were being treated for acute kidney failure. Many of the hunger strikers had lived and worked in Greece for years. Despite not achieving all their aims, the protesters - illegal immigrants and asylum seekers - are claiming victory over the government, our correspondent says. They wanted the state to stop treating them like illegal immigrants and grant them permanent residence status as well as work permits. The government now appears to have persuaded them to accept a compromise under which they will have temporary residence permits that will be automatically renewed every six months while individual cases are investigated.

Residence permits are necessary in Greece to receive social insurance payments, and because unemployment has risen steeply as a result of the economic crisis, the number of people requiring welfare has also increased. The end of the hunger strike will do little to alter Greece's international reputation for dealing with asylum seekers, our correspondent says, as it rejects 99% of all claims. Greece has become the main transit point for illegal migration into the European Union. In the first six months of 2010, it reported 45,000 illegal border crossings into its territory. In an October 2010 report by UN special rapporteur Dr Manfred Novak, Greece's asylum system was described as "dysfunctional". Dr Novak said that many of Athens' police stations were being used as detention centres for migrants and although the Greek government wanted to improve the situation it lacked the funds to do so.

Analysis
By Malcolm Brabant BBC News, Athens
The Greek government will be relieved that the hunger strike is over. The state was highly embarrassed by images of migrants lying listlessly in a central Athenian building surviving on sugared water. Ministers were terrified that one or more of the protesters might die. The compromise was reached after a public prosecutor instructed state doctors to take all necessary medical actions to prevent the strikers from dying. The prospect of forced feeding helped to concentrate minds.
© BBC News

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ILLEGAL MIGRANTS RISK DEATH FOR RIGHT TO STAY IN GREECE

• Doctors warn hunger strike could end in tragedy • Ministers offer 12-month deal to stay if action stops

6/3/2011- Doctors have warned that a mass hunger strike of illegal migrants could end in tragedy after dozens of protesters attempting to win legal status in Greece were taken to hospital after five weeks without food. Three hundred mostly north African migrant workers have refused to eat until the Greek government issues them with residency permits. The stand-off has put the socialist administration of George Papandreou increasingly on the defensive as the hunger strikers vowed to continue their protest into a sixth week. "For 41 days I have gone without food and since Wednesday noon I have refused water," said Morrocan Elktif Belaid, who walked through the Sahara before hiking and hustling his way into Greece. "But what to do? Greece has treated us very badly. All we want is what we deserve, official documents and a bit of respect. To be an immigrant is not a crime. It is not forbidden. We will continue our strike until we are vindicated, or die."

Holed up in a mansion on a busy Athens boulevard, Belaid is part of an unfolding drama that has not only gripped Greece but unnerved Europe as it braces for yet another wave of refugees fleeing the turmoil of north Africa and the Middle East. As Athens beefed up its sea and border patrols amid the impending chaos – highlighted by the drowning of three Bangladeshis who are thought to have jumped from ships evacuating undocumented migrant workers from Libya – the plight of the hunger strikers has come to embody the fears of governments across Europe. Nearly a third of the hunger strikers have now been admitted to hospital. With street protests from leftists and human rights groups also on the rise, pressure is mounting on the government to bow to their demand for "full legalisation".

On Sunday the government offered the migrants a compromise solution of a year's residency if they stopped the strike. "We are of course very concerned about their health," said Haris Kastinides, the justice minister. "We don't want a single one to die, but at the same time this is blackmail. If we give in today, we may have 150,000 others making the same request tomorrow." In his cotton headdress and chequered slippers, Belaid is, at 45, older than most of his comrades in hunger, and more eloquent. But in attitude and resolve he is no different. "Europeans hate immigrants even though we helped build their economies," said the bearded father of three. "But Europe has to help because Europe in the past was the colonial power, it supported those dictators. Today it is reaping what it sowed."

The emigres arrived in Athens from Crete. At first, with the help of local sympathisers, they occupied the law school at Athens University before being removed by riot police. A private citizen offered to house them in the mansion when they had nowhere else to go. Like Belaid, many had made long treks to Greece, sneaking into the country from Turkey before finding jobs on Crete in construction or on farms."I arrived here in 2003," said Abdullahtif Chadid, another Moroccan, his face cupped in his hands. "I am 31, but in all that time I have never returned to my homeland. I want very much to see my mother and father and I have paid my dues, insurance, stamp duties and lawyer's fees. Yet the authorities have refused us permits. "Without proper papers I know I'll never be able to enter Greece legally again." "My bones ache. My feet hurt. I can't sleep because I am so hungry and I'm so tired I can hardly walk, but I will continue because there is nothing else I can do."

Noreidine Tahma said: "All of us have handed over a lot of money, around ¤2,500, to get these documents. I feel very ill, very dizzy. I've had nothing but sugar and salt and water for the past 41 days but I won't give up. Why should we be forced to be illegal?" Greek physicians have been astonished by the strikers' endurance. "Perhaps it's because they are young, but I've been surprised by their stamina," said Dr Thanassis Karambelis, examining the men in makeshift tents in the mansion's garden. "Most are suffering from exhaustion, hypertension, and more and more are refusing to take water. Forty days is a very long time to go on hunger strike and this is the most dangerous phase." "Take note," said Belaid. "We are desperate people and we won't give in. Migrants have rights, too, and we will fight for them."

Porous border
Greece has become the main route for migrants trying to reach the EU, with some 128,000 people entering the country illegally last year – about 90% of the EU total. The Greek government has sharply stepped up patrols along the country's 9,300-mile coastline amid concerns that unrest in north Africa could cause a fresh influx. Last week the EU border control agency, Frontex, announced it will extend its six-month operation guarding Greece's porous land border with Turkey. Record numbers of immigrants from Asia, Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan have entered Greece illegally over the past year. Officials say concerns of a renewed wave will expedite the debt-stricken country's determination to build a wall across the border with Turkey. Athens has also aired the idea of creating floating detention centres. At an emergency meeting of EU interior ministers in Rome last week it appealed for funds and equipment to deal with the potential crisis. "Greece is in the midst of economic and social crisis and cannot accept any more migrants," said the citizen protection minister, Christos Papoutsis, who has ruled out giving legal status to the hunger strikers.
© The Guardian

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STAMP ON RACISM (uk, comment)

10/3/2011- For the second time, the Census authorities have included a Jewish box in the section about religions, and community bodies such as the Board of Deputies and the Institute for Jewish Policy Research have urged people to tick it, to help with planning long-term strategy for Anglo-Jewry. In such a week it is all the more welcome to see the Hate Crime Guide from the Community Security Trust. The 36-page booklet is specifically aimed at Britain's other minority communities and is the result of the Jewish community's long years in the firing line of racial abuse. Now the CST, in an admirable initiative, is passing on the fruits of its experience in the most practical way possible: a nuts and bolts approach to what to do when faced with race hatred. How to define it, how to report it, who to call, what information to pass on when describing an attacker or a vehicle. Racial hatred has all too many targets in 21st century Britain, but it is to CST's credit that it should use its experience and know how to help ensure that all forms of racism and fundamentalism are trodden on - by everyone.
© The Jewish Chronicle

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DAVID CAMERON DEFENDS BAN ON ANTI-GAY FOSTER PARENTS (uk)

A Christian couple banned from becoming foster parents because of their opposition to homosexuality were treated appropriately by the courts, David Cameron has said.

9/3/2011- Asked about the recent ruling, the Prime Minister said that Christians must be “tolerant and welcoming” towards homosexuality. His comments, made during a visit to Derby on Tuesday, came a week after the High Court ruled on the case of the Pentecostal Christian couple Eunice and Owen Johns who were told they could not be foster carers because of their view that homosexuality is wrong. In that same judgment the two High Court judges said there was no place in British law for Christian beliefs, despite this country’s long history of religious observance and the traditions of the established Church. Lord Justice Munby and Mr Justice Beatson backed Derby city council by ruling that homosexual rights “should take precedence” over the rights of Christians in fostering cases. The Derby couple, aged 62 and 65 respectively, said they were “shocked and disappointed” by the judgment. During a visit to the area, when asked about the case Mr Cameron told reporters: “This matter was decided by a court in the appropriate way and I think we should rest with the judgment that was made.”  Asked further if he thought Christian views were incompatible with an acceptance of homosexuality, he added: “I think Christians should be tolerant and welcoming and broad-minded.” Government sources later told the Daily Mail that the Prime Minister was “not taking sides” in the debate, but his comments were criticised by Christian campaigners. Mrs Johns, a mother of four who has also fostered 15 children, said: “It is very surprising and disappointing that Mr Cameron takes this view. “He said he was a Christian, but after what he's said today, I don't know. “Our right to express our views as Christians has been eroded as the rights of homosexuals are deemed more important.” Ann Widdecombe, the former Home Office minister, said: “It is high time the Government was ‘tolerant and welcoming and broad-minded’ towards Christians. “There is no balance at all now – Christian rights have been all but wiped out.”
© The Telegraph

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FAR-RIGHT ENGLISH DEFENCE LEAGUE RECRUITING FOR DOVER DIVISION ON FACEBOOK (uk)

8/3/2011- Activists from the far-right English Defence League (EDL) are using Facebook to recruit members for what they describe as its Dover division. A call to the people of the town has been made online by a man named Jason Heath, who encourages them to "take a stand" against what he describes as Muslim extremists. Described by anti-fascist group Searchlight as "a racist organisation", the EDL has come to national attention after staging a series of street protests against what it sees as the threat to Western values from Islam. But Dover MP Charlie Elphicke told the Express that Islamic preachers of hate and the EDL represent "two sides of the same coin". In a badly spelt and punctuated posting on Facebook pages relating to Dover, including that of this newspaper, Mr Heath said: "if your sick and tired of your mum, sister, nan, girlfriend, kids or anyone you know not being able to walk through certain parts of hers/his//yours/OUR town at night even during the day, due to risk of molitious atacks from muslim extremists then take a stand, tell your friends and family to unite and take a stand, t...e...ll your neighbours to take a stand!! "the time to stand up and take our country back is long over-due if you feel the need to make a stand for everything ENGLISH then join the EDL Dover division. we will never surrender and i hope that none of you will either." On the EDL Dover division Facebook group's page, which has so far attracted 36 members, there are discussions about transport to a planned demonstration in Blackburn on April 2, as well as links to stories about Islam. The organisation's official website describes the EDL as "a human rights organisation" opposed to the Islamification of Britain and the introduction of Sharia law in this country. Mr Elphicke, who has previously expressed his opposition to the British National Party, said: "We all know there are important issues. We need to ensure that we get strong borders security and migration has a cap. "These are matters to be discussed calmly and thoughtfully. "We don't need racists preaching hatred, like the EDL, in Dover. "Islamic hate preachers and the EDL are two sides of the same coin and we could do without both of them." Attempts to contact Mr Heath were unsuccessful as the Express went to press.
© This is Kent

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FAR-RIGHT GROUP 'TO BECOME A POLITICAL PARTY' (uk)

English Defence League to hold talks this week on electoral plans

6/3/2011- The leader of the far-right English Defence League last night confirmed that the group would be holding talks with a view to becoming a legitimate political party. Tommy Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, said last night: “We’re having a meeting this week with politically minded people and we’re discussing the options. We know the support we’ve got from one end of the country to the other because we talk sense. So we’re having more discussions this week. It’s something we’re seriously looking at. “We’ve been meeting with top political people for a year about this and now we’re getting close. We’ve been sitting down with a couple of lads who are posh-speaking, public school boys, who have been in politics before, and we’re discussing with them where it can go.” Supporters of the group, which formed in 2009, have often been involved in violent scuffles with anti-fascist demonstrators in areas with large Muslim populations including Luton, Birmingham, Stoke-on-Trent and Bradford. Several journalists have received anonymous threats in the past when covering EDL demonstrations.

In a bizarre twist, the move towards legitimisation for the far-right group is said have come after the Daily Star newspaper last month published what Richard Peppiatt, a former reporter on the paper, believed at the time to be a false story. The article stated that the EDL planned to field candidates at a general election. Last week Peppiatt quit the tabloid, admitting he produced made-stories for the Star and saying he believed it gave sympathetic coverage to the EDL. The Independent on Sunday understands one reporter, from a different news organisation, who recently interviewed Mr Robinson, claims that the EDL had the idea to become a political party after seeing the Star’s fabricated article. But Mr Robinson distanced himself from that suggestion, saying starting a political party was something the EDL had intended to do for at least a year.

Mr Peppiatt said of his decision to quit: “Going public has been at once the easiest and most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make. The messages of support from all quarters of the media and beyond, has confirmed to me I’m fighting the good fight, if belatedly. Obviously it was shocking when the attempts to intimidate me began, but it only served to harden my resolve.” The Daily Star rejected the suggestion it supports far-right organisations. “For the record, the Daily Star editorial policy does not hold any negativity towards Islam and the paper never, and does not endorse the EDL.” Since making his resignation letter public, Mr Peppiatt has received numerous emails, phone calls and text messages from unknown sources. One such message says: ‘We r (sic) doing a KISS AND TELL on u.’ Whilst an email reads, ‘I’m one of your FB [Facebook] friends and it’s about time you were honest with people. Stop the bullshit Pepps. We all know everything about you. Meet me at 8pm outside GH.’
© The Independent

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FRANCE'S SARKOZY SACKS DIVERSITY HEAD DAHMANE

11/3/2011- French President Nicolas Sarkozy has sacked his diversity adviser after he called on Muslims not to support the governing UMP party, reports say. Abderrahmane Dahmane, a Muslim and former UMP official appointed to his post only in January, was protesting against a planned debate on Islam. He said Muslim members of the UMP should not renew their party membership unless the debate was cancelled. He condemned UMP leader Jean-Francois Cope as a "plague for Muslims". Mr Dahmane's sacking was reported by the French news agency AFP, which gave no details. The UMP (Union for a Popular Movement) is planning to hold a public debate on 5 April on "Islam and secularism". The debate will explore firstly how "the practice of religions may be compatible with the rules of the secular republic", and secondly "the question of Islam in France". Speaking on Thursday, Mr Dahmane compared the situation of French Muslims to that of Jews during World War II and said the debate had been planned by a "handful of neo-Nazis". France has the largest Muslim minority of any EU country and controversies have arisen over the state's attempts to impose secular values in public institutions such as schools. A public ban on face-covering veils comes into force on 11 April.
© BBC News

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‘FRANCE INTEGRATING MUSLIMS INTO SOCIETY TO PROMOTE HARMONY’ (Pakistan)

10/3/2011- France has been trying to integrate its Muslim population in French society despite cultural differences, said the French ambassador to Pakistan while delivering a lecture on the Muslims in France at the Area Study Centre for Europe (ASCE), University of Karachi (KU) on Wednesday. Daniel Jouanneau, the French Envoy, admitted that it was a challenge for the French government; the latter has striven to assimilate the Muslim community into the French polity and to promote harmony and cohesion among all the communities in the country. “France has the largest Muslim population in the European Union. It is a wrong perception that Muslims are not as integrated in French society as they are in the United States. France is a secular country. But now it is our target to integrate Muslims more into the French society, despite cultural differences. We aim to provide equal opportunities to every community in France irrespective of social, cultural and religious background,” he explained. The ambassador, however, conceded that there was Islamophobia in France, though the French government had been endeavouring to eliminate it. “It is quite true that France has Islamophobia. But for that, we do have strict laws. There is zero tolerance for such a crime and we try that such cases are reported and the perpetrator is punished”, he elaborated.

The ambassador said that home-grown terrorism was not a major threat for France; rather it was international terrorism which had been a cause of worry for the government. “There is no home-grown terrorism in France. In fact, France has received threats from Al Qaeda, and it is not a theoretical threat. French citizens have been killed in some Muslim countries in the Maghreb (West).” He said that Pakistan was a partner in countering terrorism and France would like to work along with the Pakistani government to eliminate religious extremism and terrorism to build a peaceful world. Besides, he said, France valued Pakistan as a trade and economic partner and, especially as a political partner to enable the future generations of Pakistan to lead a prosperous life. Talking on the ban on the Burqa in France, the ambassador clarified that the Hijab had not been banned. It is only in the educational institutions where girls cannot wear Hijab, as France is a secular state.

“Veil or Hijab has not been banned by the French government. Girls in school are not allowed to wear the Hijab just like Christian children are not allowed to wear the cross or the Jewish boys cannot wear the skullcap. The logic behind this is that religion should not be visible in schools. But once the girls are out of school, they can wear the Hijab. Burqa, however is a problem. It is not acceptable in French society. We are an open and communication based society and want to see the face of the person with whom we are communicating. “The thing is that when I or any Frenchman is in Pakistan, we respect the Pakistani culture. Similarly, we expect people who are in France to respect our culture and laws. And the Burqa has been banned by the law in France,” he said.
© The News - Pakistan

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JEWISH RADIO CANCELS FRENCH FAR-RIGHT INTERVIEW

9/3/2011- A Jewish radio station Wednesday cancelled an interview with French far-right leader Marine Le Pen after complaints by Jewish groups that her party was anti-Semitic. Radio J had justified inviting her to come on air Sunday on the grounds that polls appear to show her anti-immigrant National Front has moved beyond marginal status and she could win a first-round presidential vote. But its top political editor Frederic Haziza told AFP on Wednesday that the station had cancelled the interview since it was "impossible to ensure that it would take place in good conditions." It would have been a first for Radio J, which always declined to interview Jean-Marie Le Pen, Marine's father and predecessor as leader of the Front, because of his public comments about Jews that caused outrage. Among complaints from several groups, the Jewish students' union UEJF said the radio invitation was "dangerous and inappropriate," branding the National Front "structurally anti-Semitic and racist." The interview "could give rise to a kind of complacency among the Jewish community and its institutions concerning Marine Le Pen and risks giving her even more exposure," the group said. The deputy leader of the Front, Louis Aliot, said the party planned to sue the UEJF and the anti-Semitism watchdog BNCVA for defamation based on their complaints.
© AFP

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JOHN LICHFIELD: WITH A SMILE NOT A SNARL, THE FRENCH FAR RIGHT IS GAINING GROUND (opinion)

There are warnings for democratic politics in Europe. Marine Le Pen is a likeable spokeswoman for a new strain of moderate intolerance
By John Lichfield

10/3/2011- Consider two startling facts. Fact one: Marine Le Pen was to have been a guest on the French Jewish radio station Radio J, this Sunday. Fact two: a poll has shown Ms Le Pen leading in the first round of the presidential election next spring. Marine's Holocaust-minimising father, Jean-Marie, was always strictly persona non grata to the broadcast voice of the Jewish community in France. After only two months as the beguiling new face of the French far right, his daughter persuaded Radio J that she was a respectable politician like any other. The station was forced to withdraw the invitation last night after protests from other Jewish organisations. And the internet poll placing her ahead in the presidential race may, or may not, have been a rogue survey. All the same, something big and disturbing is happening across the Channel. French politics has gone hors piste. There are no well-worn roads, no satellite guidance systems, to tell you – or even tell French politicians – what to expect before the first round of voting next April. The presidential campaign is, and may remain, a three-way tie between an unpopular and panicky centre-right President, a stumbling and divided centre-left "opposition" and a freshly laundered but still anti-immigrant, anti-European and ultra-nationalist Right. There are many French reasons why this has happened. But there are also wider lessons, or warnings, for the future of democratic politics in Europe and the West. Marine Le Pen is an effective and likeable spokeswoman for a new strain of moderate intolerance – white collar rather than blue collar; educated, not just ignorant; Ukip not just BNP – which is already powerful in the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Austria. There are also some likenesses – although Marine Le Pen repudiates them – with the rise of the Tea Party movement in the United States. But, first, let us look at France.

Nicolas Sarkozy's supporters (thinning by the day) plead that he is paying the price for trying to "reform France". They suggest that he will be able to offer a convincing argument for re-election next spring, based on his reform of the pension system and planned reform of the tax system. Er, "c'est tout". In truth, Sarkozy is paying for having muddled his modest attempts at reform with cynical appeals to the authoritarian, anti-migrant right. At the last election in 2002, he built a system of political plumbing which allowed him to siphon votes from a flagging Le Pen senior. By doing so, the President inadvertently created a two-way channel. The support that he once took from the National Front is now being sucked back through the pipe, with interest, by the fragrant Marine Le Pen. What exactly is the difference, voters are entitled to ask, between the National Front and the harsher voices in Sarkozy's entourage? One Sarko-supporting member of parliament called this week for illegal immigrants escaping the civil strife in North Africa to be "put straight back on the boat". The President is also paying the price, at a time of the "squeezed middle", for recklessly allowing himself to be linked with the super-rich. Worst of all, he still does not act and look like a president. In a recent television address to the nation, a kind of "King's Speech" for the TV age, Sarkozy came over as shrill and small (not just in size). Imagine a malevolent version of Ricky Gervais playing King George VI, instead of Colin Firth. All of this should have cleared an electoral boulevard for the main party of opposition, the Parti Socialiste. Not a bit of it. Even the Socialist "king over the water", Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former finance minister now chief executive of the IMF in Washington, trailed Ms Le Pen in last week's poll. Other leading candidates, such as the party leader, Martine Aubry, and former leader, François Hollande, did slightly worse.

The capacity for self-destruction of the French centre-left is boundless. Unfortunately, nothing new ever seems to emerge from the ruins. The main Socialist candidates will fight an open primary race from June to November. The intention is to anoint a nationally acceptable contender and to test a plausible alternative programme for government. Instead, the Socialists will be knocking lumps off one another for eight months while Ms Le Pen plays Joan of Arc. Maybe. As I said, the satellite guidance systems for French electoral politics have broken down. It is possible, out of the fog of the immediate future, to conjure up an optimistic scenario for the centre-left. France, shocked by last weekend's poll result, will recoil from Ms Le Pen but will not return to Sarkozy. Mr Strauss-Kahn will, finally, throw his hat into the ring and a powerful tide of opinion will build in his favour. Maybe. Maybe. If not, the two-round presidential election next spring will become a game of roulette. Only two candidates go through to the final round. If Marine Le Pen is one of them – even if she tops the first-round poll –she is very unlikely to win in the second round. Moderate voters of both Right and Left would, probably, pinch their noses and vote in largish numbers for either Sarkozy or, say, Strauss-Kahn. One of the bizarre implications of last weekend's poll is that Marine Le Pen may be Sarkozy's best, and only, chance of re-election. Marine has shed her father's more or less overt anti-Semitism and obsession with the Second World War. She has called the Holocaust the "summum of inhumanity." She has created, with a smile rather than a snarl, an incoherent programme: France-first, state intervention; discrimination against racial and religious minorities; and, implicitly, French withdrawal from Europe.

The more French voters imagine her as president, the more, one hopes, they will recoil. But her rapid success reflects more than just the poisonous vacuum in French "mainstream" politics. Like the Tea Parties and the other new populist parties in Europe, she cleverly exploits the hunger for "identity" and simple "values" in a threateningly "global" world. She surfs on the rise of China and decline of the West; the erosion in middle-class living standards; the screw-you arrogance of bankers; the threat of extremist Islam; the contempt for elites fostered, sometimes reasonably, by the internet and by WikiLeaks. For elegant populism, the times have never been better.
© The Independent

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MARINE LE PEN PLANNING ITALY TRIP TO CONDEMN NORTH AFRICAN REFUGEES (France)

Marine Le Pen, the new leader of the French far-Right, is expected to travel to Italy to next week to condemn what she described as the European Union's "impotence" in the face of a wave of refugees from North Africa.

8/3/2011- Miss Le Pen said she might travel to Lampedusa, a tiny Italian island which has been flooded with more than 1,200 mostly Tunisian immigrants in the last two days. "Europe is like a sieve," she said, adding that she wanted France to work with Spain and Italy "to curb the risk of mass clandestine immigration". The trip to Lampedusa has been pencilled in for next Monday but has yet to be confirmed, she said. The dusty outcrop lies closer to the coast of North Africa than to Sicily and has been the focus of unauthorised immigration to Europe for years. Italian ministers have expressed concern that it could be inundated by a "biblical exodus" of refugees fleeing unrest in Tunisia and Libya. The 42-year-old leader of the National Front, who has compared Muslims in France to an "occupying force", took over the party from her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, in January. France's political establishment was shocked by a poll released on Monday which showed that Miss Le Pen, a mother of three, could beat Nicolas Sarkozy in the first round of next year's presidential election. She would win 23 per cent of the vote, ahead of President Sarkozy, who could expect 21 per cent, according to the poll by Harris Interactive. "If ever there were a moment to shake up the system, it is now," Miss Le Pen told supporters in Strasbourg on Tuesday.
© The Telegraph

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SARKOZY OPENS CAN OF WORMS WITH CALL FOR DEBATE ON ISLAM IN FRANCE

7/3/2011- The French president Nicolas Sarkozy's judgment and credibility have been called into renewed question amid growing opposition to his planned debate on the role of Islam in France. With his battle for a second term at the Elysee now only a year away, Mr Sarkozy faces serious disquiet in his own party, the ruling centre-right UMP, about the initiative. The anti-immigration far right is threatening to profit from the rift. The debate is due to begin on April 5, just eight days before a new law banning the wearing of face-covering veils in public takes effect. Both the choice of subject and strength of feeling the planned discussion has provoked reflect France's lingering failure to assimilate Muslims, unofficially numbered at between five million and seven million. The immigrants, originating mainly from the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa, and their French-born descendants have built a parallel society, which in turn fuels the suspicion of some conservative voters.

Mr Sarkozy is eager to counter the electoral appeal of the far-right Front National to those troubled by images of Muslims assembled in large numbers for prayer in French streets and the proliferation of halal fast-food restaurants. Yet the party claims his policy, by emphasising the public unease, is playing straight into its hands. Marine Le Pen, who has succeeded her father, Jean-Marie, as leader of the Front National, is now building towards what some observers say could be a presidential challenge strong enough to worry the mainstream parties. One poll at the weekend put her in first position, with 25 per cent, Mr Sarkozy and the socialist leader Martine Aubry lagging two points behind. Although it is too early to read much into such soundings of public opinion, there is a precedent: Ms Le Pen's father won through to the second round in 2002, when he was trounced by Jacques Chirac, Mr Sarkozy's centre-right predecessor.

On Friday, a UMP heavy gun was wheeled into action in an attempt to calm party elements who consider the proposed debate a grave error. Jean-Francois Copé, the UMP's secretary general, insisted that the discussion would focus on France's secular traditions, a law dating from 1905 that separates church and state and bans the use of public money for religious purposes, and had "never been a debate about Islam". He told the newspaper Le Figaro the interpretation placed on the debate was absurd. But the newspaper felt obliged to suggest he clearly had Islam in mind. It pointed out that he had gone on to say that since the French Muslim community developed long after the 1905 law was passed, it was legitimate to require its organisation to be wedded to the principles of the secular republic.

As a measure of the dismay felt within the party, Mr Sarkozy's prime minister, François Fillon, said on RTL radio: "If this debate were to be focused only on Islam, if it were to lead to a stigmatisation of Muslims, then I would oppose it." However, the president would argue that he proposes nothing of the sort. Indeed, in 2004 Mr Sarkozy presented himself as a champion of reforming the 1905 law. Mr Sarkozy, then finance minister, argued in a book titled The Republic, Religions, Hope that France should consider relaxing the law on funding so that a mosque could be provided in every sizeable town. This, he felt, would help counter the risk of young French Muslims being indoctrinated by self-styled, untrained imams in makeshift prayer rooms. But his remarks drew sharp criticism then and his more recent track record is blurred. A three-month public debate on national identity, between the end of 2009 and early last year, also divided the country.

The industry minister, Eric Besson, born in Morocco of French and Lebanese parent, is among traditionalists who insist that the 1905 legislation is a sacred element of republican values. The government spokesman, François Baroin, has said tampering with it would "open Pandora's box". Rachida Dati, a former justice minister and still prominent in the UMP as a mayor and member of the European parliament, has warned that if the debate goes ahead, care should be taken on its conduct. Ms Dati, the product of Moroccan and Algerian parents, said on French state-run television that the problem was not Islam but "those who abuse Islam, who use it to challenge the values of the republic". She added: "Be careful not to condemn or caricature some of our countrymen to arouse fear in others."

Ms Le Pen says the debate cannot come soon enough for her Front National. "Come on, Mr Copé, let's have more effort, a little debate and blah-blah about Islam and secularism," she said in a radio interview. When regional elections were held last year in the aftermath of the national identity debate, which was also seen as having more to do with France's relations with Muslims than anything else, the Front National won 15 per cent of the vote. For Ms Le Pen, a heated discussion on Islam now could leave an even more marked effect. A 25 per cent vote for her party in the 2012 presidential race, which she claims is possible, would threaten the elimination of one of the main contenders - the socialist candidate or, if he remains unpopular generally, Mr Sarkozy - in the first round.
© The National

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POLL PUTS FAR RIGHT AHEAD IN FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL RACE (France)

6/3/2011- The leader of France's far-right National Front party, Marine Le Pen, would come out ahead of incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy in the first round of voting if a presidential election were held now instead of in the spring of 2012, according to the surprise result of a latest political-opinion poll published Sunday. The poll, published in the daily newspaper Le Parisien, gives Le Pen 23% of voting intentions, ahead of Sarkozy and Socialist Party leader Martine Aubry. The poll was carried out among a sample group of 1,618 people by the Louis Harris Interactive organization. In five previous polls between March and November last year, Le Pen scored voting intentions of between 11% and 13%.

Le Pen recently took over leadership of her party from her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, who, in the first round of the 2002 election, came in second to conservative Jacques Chirac, beating Socialist candidate Lionel Jospin, who subsequently retired from politics. French voters then closed ranks behind Chirac in the runoff round to keep Le Pen out. Sarkozy's popularity has sagged in recent months amid a series of ministerial scandals that culminated in a cabinet shake-up at the end of February. His political foes say he is paying the price for what they see as an uncompromising and fear-mongering stance on immigration and stirring up anti-Muslim sentiment. The recent civil unrest in North Africa since December is another factor that has worried public opinion in France, which has a large North African immigrant population.

Political commentators have cautioned that the margin of error for such on-line polls is large, of more than 2%. And they point out that the those polled weren't asked to give their opinion on Dominique Strauss-Kahn, currently head of the International Monetary Fund. Strauss-Kahn, a Socialist, hasn't declared his intention to run for the presidency in 2012, although he benefits from much more favorable popularity ratings than Martine Aubry. Le Pen is drawing her support from Sarkozy's camp according to the poll results. More than 20% of those who said they would vote for her in the first round said they had voted for Sarkozy in the 2007 presidential election. Sarkozy has yet to declare his candidacy to seek a second term in 2012. Jean-Francois Cope, Secretary-General of Sarkozy's UMP party, said it would be a mistake to read too much into the poll result so far ahead of the election, saying that the poll "is just one among many" and called on the party's members to "keep a cool head." He acknowledged that moderate conservatives will suffer attacks from both the left and the far right in the lead-up to the election in 14 months' time.
© The Wall Street Journal

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FOUR JAILED FOR STAGING PROTEST AGAINST B92 (Serbia)

Four convicted members of far-right group “1389” have been sentenced to 15 days in prison for staging a protest in front of the B92 headquarters yesterday.

6/3/2011- Ivan Ivanović, Srđan Krunić, David Simonović and Goran Petrović will serve their sentence at Padinska Skela prison. Another four members of the organization, including three young women and an underage boy, have been fined with RSD 20,000. About 20 members of the far-right group gathered in front of the B92 headquarters yesterday afternoon and refused to leave when police had asked them to.

NUNS: Another attempt to pressure journalists
The Independent Association of Journalists of Serbia (NUNS) has assessed that the unannounced rally of the far-right group in front of the B92 headquarters is one more in a series of open pressures on B92 journalists and editors. “NUNS demands from the authorities to allow normal working conditions to B92 journalists and editors and calls on the competent authorities to take legal measures against the participants of the rally, supporters of extreme-right organization ‘1389’,” it is stated in a release. NUNS repeats that B92 has been targeted by extremist organizations that have sent open threats to some journalists and editors and therefore jeopardized their safety and basic professional freedom.
© B92

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SERBIAN OFFICIAL: BISHOP MUST APOLOGIZE FOR MAKING ANTI-GAY REMARKS AFTER PARADE

5/3/2011- A Serbian human rights official said Saturday a hardline Orthodox Church bishop must publicly apologize for the anti-gay remarks he made after last year's pride march that erupted in violence. Bishop Amfilohije violated Serbia's anti-discrimination laws when he criticized gays in a speech, Commissioner for Equality Nevena Petrusic said. Petrusic also urged Amfilohije to meet with the gay activists and advised that he should "refrain from making statements that incite discrimination, hatred or violence." There was no immediate comment from Amfilohije or the church. The bishop could face legal action if he does not apologize. Amfilohije is well-known for his nationalism and anti-Western positions, including opposition to liberal reforms which are part of Serbia's efforts to join the EU. In his speech, Amfilohije called gays "stench and poison littering capital Belgrade" and blamed them for the clashes that broke out when extremists attacked police securing the Oct. 10 pride event, Serbia's first in years. More than 100 people were injured and dozens detained during the clashes. The event was widely seen as a test for Serbian authorities, who have pledged to protect human rights. The Balkan country has seen a rise in right-wing extremism in the past few years, with hardline groups threatening liberals and foreigners. On Saturday, members of the Nasi 1389 group held a protest against the editorial policies of liberal B92 TV. The TV station reported that 17 extremists had been detained. There was no immediate confirmation by police.
© The Associated Press

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HAVING A EUROPEAN CHILD GIVES NON-EU PARENTS THE RIGHT OF RESIDENCE

States of the European Union must give permission for the parents of underage children to live and work in that European country. That was decided on Tuesday by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. However the child must take the nationality of the relevant European country.

9/3/2011- The court made the ruling in the case of a Colombian couple with two children. After their birth the children were given Belgian nationality. The husband of the couple lodged an appeal because Belgium had denied him a residence permit and unemployment benefits.

Refusal
The Brussels Labour Court asked the European Court whether the parents could live and work in Belgium under European law. The court ruled that they do indeed have this right. Refusal would mean that their children could not exercise their rights as citizens of the European Union.

Two requirements
According to Dutch immigration lawyer Hans Langenberg it's still unclear exactly how this statement should be interpreted. In his eyes there are two requirements:
1. Whoever wants to stay in the European Union must have a child with the nationality of one of the EU Member States.
2. The child with EU nationality must reside in an EU country.

Doomsday scenario
Lawyer Hans Langenberg believes this could potentially cause a doomsday scenario: Children could be separated from a non-European parent living in an EU country before the parent has had time to apply for a temporary residence permit.
© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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FASHION AND FASCISM – A LOVE STORY

John Galliano's anti-Semitic rant cost him his job because it reminded the industry of an unsavoury collaboration

6/3/2011- One of the cruel ironies of the John Galliano "I love Hitler" scandal, is that, according to his friends, it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. "I would never in a million years have thought this would happen," said a colleague. "There was never anything remotely bigoted going on. He is a great human being who grew up surrounded by prejudice and told me he had never met anyone remotely like himself until he went to St Martin's school of art." Yet when the news broke of Galliano's drunken rants – as recorded on camera he told strangers in a Paris bar that he "loved Hitler" and that their parents should have been gassed – his employer, LVMH, which owns Christian Dior, reacted like a scalded cat, suspending him instantly and sacking him soon afterwards. The big names in the fashion business disappeared below the parapet. Only Karl Lagerfeld, head of Dior's arch-rival Chanel as well as his own label, emerged to spit: "I'm furious, if you want to know. I'm furious that it could happen, because the question is no longer even whether he really said it. The image has gone around the world. It's a horrible image for fashion, because they think that every designer and everything in fashion is like this." Nobody is claiming that Galliano's drunken outbursts reflects a seam of Nazi sympathy in his work: on the contrary, anything less likely to strike a chord with the Nazis than the richly cosmopolitan, gypsy-influenced anarchy of his designs is hard to imagine. So why the scalded-cat reaction? Why might "they" now think "that every designer and everything in fashion is like this"? What has fashion got to hide?

It's one tag a designer really does not need. Social theorists speak of the "scavenging aesthetic" of modern fashion, of designers rooting around among "the archaeology of modernity" for hints and motifs and antiquated garments that resonate now, of how the modern doubles back on itself, as the past returns to "disturb and unsettle the confidence of the modern". Examples are legion: the fashion historian Caroline Evans singles out the corset, a Victorian antiquity raised from the dead by Vivienne Westwood and Jean-Paul Gaultier in the 1980s, "which became ubiquitous as every major European designer incorporated it into his or her collections." But amid all the scrabbling and scavenging, there are places in the past you do not go, as certain designers have discovered to their cost. In her Paris menswear collection of 1995, Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons sent two thin young men with shaved heads down the catwalk wearing dressing gowns and striped pyjamas with numbers on them. It didn't help that it was the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz: the brickbats descended, and Kawakubo withdrew the designs, claiming the resemblance was purely accidental. Her career never fully recovered. Five years later, the Belgian designer Martin Margiela thought it would be neat to have his models walk down the aisle of a train parked in a Parisian railway depot: disco mirror balls notwithstanding, Women's Wear Daily was sure Margiela was evoking the Nazi death trains. His appalled denials were in vain: once a label like that sticks, it's very hard to detach.

Such images, disturbing in themselves, are a particular problem for fashion because of its entanglement with the Nazis during the Second World War. Germany did not conquer France to get its hands on Fashion Central, but it was a not insignificant extra. Fashion had economic weight: one exported couture dress, it is claimed, would pay for a ton of imported coal, and a litre of exported perfume brought in the financial equivalent of two tons of imported fuel oil. But equally important was its prestige: it was a power in its own right. "Any power... is destined to fall before fashion," Mussolini remarked in 1930. "If fashion says skirts are short, you will not succeed in lengthening them, even with the guillotine." The Nazis wanted Berlin to displace Paris as the capital of style, and set about it with typical tact and subtlety, looting the industry's Paris archives. The switch never happened, but the designers stuck in Vichy France faced a predicament: should they show contempt for the invader by closing down, and firing their employees, who would then be picked up by the Germans as forced labour? Or should they collaborate and cope with the ensuing anathema as best they could? The Basque genius Cristobal Balenciaga was already sewing dresses for General Franco's wife, and moved on to the wives of Nazi generals without a hiccup. His was one of 60 fashion houses that continued in business.

Coco Chanel is routinely attacked for having made money out of the Nazis during the war. She took a German officer as a lover and was briefly arrested after the Allies re-took Paris; she also took advantage of the law expropriating Jews to try, unsuccessfully, to claw her perfume business back from the Jewish-owned firm to which she had sold it. But her most recent biographer, Justine Picardie, claims that the true story is far more nuanced: Chanel was also close friends with Winston Churchill before the war, her German lover was half-English, and she seems to have made an attempt to broker peace talks between Walter Schellenberg, the Nazi foreign intelligence chief, and the British. The well-established image of Chanel living it up with her Nazi patrons may be wrong, but it reflects a more interesting truth. In his book Années Erotiques (Erotic Years), the French journalist Patrick Buisson describes how the crushing victory of the Nazis left the French in a state of what he calls "erotic shock". French prisoners in Germany bedded local girls to take revenge for the rape of the homeland; meanwhile in France their wives and sisters were making themselves agreeable to the invader: in 1942, despite the fact that two million Frenchmen were in prisoner-of-war camps, the French birth rate soared. In this atmosphere charged with emotions of triumph, humiliation and suppressed rage, the population found escape in debauchery, exploring "new territories of pleasure" – having sex in cinemas and Metro stations during air-raid alerts. Simone de Beauvoir joined in. "It was only in the course of those nights that I discovered the true meaning of the word 'party'," she said later.

The overheated atmosphere was reflected in the fashion turned out by those houses that were still in business. There were outfits designed for riding bicycles, and in contrast to the grim austerity suits produced on the other side of the Channel, using the minimum amount of material possible, in Paris gowns ballooned in size, both (it was claimed) as a way to diminish the amount of stuff the Nazis had available for war use but also reflecting the mood of decadent exuberance that helped people to make it through their ordeal. One item of clothing, however, was a victim of the war: the beret. During the Vichy years, French of all ranks and stations were expected to wear the beret as a symbol of their French identity. But the fact of collaboration tainted it, according to the historian Richard Cobb. "The beret had somehow lost its innocence," he wrote. "It had become politically contaminated... henceforth associated with organised killing." After the war, the French quietly put it away.
© The Independent

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Headlines 4 March, 2011

CASTELLÓN PARTIDO POPULAR CONTRACTS ALLEGED NEO-NAZI SYMPATHISER FOR COURSE ON PUBLIC SPEAKING (Spain)

The course was on communication skills in public speaking for candidates in the local elections

3/3/2011- It’s been revealed that the provincial branch of the Partido Popular (the Popular Party) in Castellón contracted the services of a teacher allegedly linked to a neo-Nazi group to teach a recent course on the skills of public speaking in politics. The course, ‘An Introduction to Political Speaking’, was held at the PP offices in Castellón last weekend where Isidro Juan Palacios was contracted as a tutor for the training programme. The PP’s President in Castellón, Carlos Fabra, said the tutor was told his services were no longer needed as soon as the party learnt that he may have been a neo-Nazi sympathiser. He added that Palacios made no neo-Nazi references at any time during the course he was teaching. EFE notes that the aim of the course was to improve communication skills in public speaking for the party’s candidates in the upcoming local elections.
© Typically Spanish

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BACKLASH OVER MIGRATION POLICY AS TENSIONS MOUNT IN PYLA (Cyprus)

3/3/2011- The government continued to feel the backlash of its migration policy yesterday as deputies and ruling party AKEL waded into the debate on rising tensions between Larnaca residents and Palestinian asylum seekers and refugees. As MPs fought a war of words with Interior Minister Neoclis Sylikiotis, around 25 Palestinians tried to set up camp in the mixed village of Pyla in protest against getting their benefits cut, drawing the ire of local residents who gathered to kick them out the village. Police and the UN had to intervene to calm tempers and prevent the situation from spiralling out of control. At around 2.30pm, around 25 Palestinian asylum seekers traveled to Pyla where they attempted to set up tents in the school sports field to protest against their benefits being cut. Local residents prevented them from doing so and the group moved to the church yard instead. According to Cyprus News Agency, the church bells rang and around 100 villagers, both Greek and Turkish Cypriot turned up to prevent the asylum seekers from setting up camp. Tensions rose quickly, leading the Larnaca police to send up to 50 officers there, while the UN and Turkish Cypriot ‘police’ also turned up. By 8pm, police managed to convince the Palestinians to leave their cars behind and board a bus back to Larnaca. The situation remained tense as they prepared to leave with UN soldiers feeling compelled to make a human chain around the bus to protect the departing Palestinians. Trouble has been brewing for some time in the southeastern coastal town of Larnaca where around 2,700 mainly Iraqi Palestinians fleeing Iraq have been located. Around 1,100 are recognised refugees while a large number are asylum seekers.

Responding to increasing pressure on the system of welfare benefits afforded both refugees and asylum seekers as prescribed by international and national legislation, the government attempted to move 70 asylum seekers to a Larnaca hotel converted into a reception centre on Tuesday. By providing accommodation and food to asylum seekers, the government is legally entitled to cut their monthly benefits, providing a reduced sum of €85 per person per month. Eventually only 41 made the move. The remainder who refused to move will have any state assistance cut. A husband and wife dispute over whether to move to the hotel on Tuesday led to scuffles between three Palestinian men and two police officers, resulting in the latter two sustaining minor injuries. The three Palestinians, aged 51, 28 and 25, were charged with a number of offences including assaulting police officers, causing actual bodily harm, the attempted theft of an officer’s pistol, obstructing the work of police and resisting legal arrest in Larnaca District Court yesterday, The three will respond to the charges on March 9, until which time they will remain in custody. DISY deputy Lefteris Christoforou yesterday said Tuesday’s “tragicomic events” proved beyond a doubt that “the government’s migration policy is bankrupt”. A fierce critic of migration in general, DIKO deputy Zacharias Koulias said the protagonists in the latest incident were “the illegal immigrants and those raised by Mr Sylikiotis (who) have turned the police into a punching bag”.

Koulias has repeatedly adopted the term “illegal immigrants” when discussing asylum seekers or recognised refugees in parliament. The DIKO deputy went as far as suggesting the interior minister’s ulterior motive was to transform the Palestinians into voters. Adopting similar language, EDEK’s Georgios Varnavas said the latest incidents were the result of the relevant ministers’ “passionate support of illegal immigrants”. Even AKEL’s Larnaca district committee released an announcement condemning the behaviour of a group of Palestinians, saying those who break the law should be deported immediately. In response, Sylikiotis accused a group of deputies of manufacturing an “industry of lies” on the migration issue and “banking on populism and misinformation systematically and methodically to cultivate xenophobia, intolerance and racism in Cypriot society”. He said Tuesday’s incident was an isolated one, highlighting that the majority agreed to go to the reception centre. Those who don’t will have their benefits cut, he said. On accusations that government policy encourages illegal immigration, he said from 5,158 illegal immigrants who came to Cyprus via the occupied north in 2008, the number in 2010 was reduced to 1,857 while the number of new asylum seekers coming via the north went from 2,545 in 2008 to 956 in 2010.

Migrant support group, KISA, representative Doros Polycarpou yesterday distinguished between asylum seekers and refugees, saying the government had a right to move the former to reception centres, though should have given them more than three days warning. The latter cannot be forced to move out of Larnaca, he said. Polycarpou pointed out that many asylum seekers been living freely in Larnaca for two years waiting for their applications to be processed, and are understandably reluctant to suddenly move into ‘hotel’ rooms with no electricity sockets and an 8pm curfew. As for refugees, some of whom have been here five years, he said in 20 instances, refugees complained that asylum service officials threatened to revoke their status and send them back to Iraq if they did not consent to leaving the coastal town.
© The Cyprus Mail

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COUNCIL OF EUROPE: CZECH REPUBLIC DEFICIENT ON ROMA INTEGRATION

3/3/2011- The Council of Europe in Strasbourg has released a report criticizing the anti-Roma stance of Czech society. Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg told AFP that, "The main obstacles to the integration of Roma in the Czech Republic are an anti-Roma attitude that is deeply rooted in society, hate crimes, and ongoing segregation in the fields of education and housing. The authorities should intensify their efforts, resolve this problem, and implement an integration policy." The Commissioner is disturbed by racist and anti-Roma statements made by several influential politicians and reported by the media. He has called for the creation of a mechanism of active self-regulation so that such statements disappear from the public sphere.

The Commissioner welcomed the tough measures adopted recently against extremist groups guilty of racist crimes. He emphasized that some crimes have evidently never been reported and called on the Czech authorities to create a mechanism that is better tailored to victims' needs. AFP also reports that Hammarberg called for more intensified efforts with respect to Roma people's access to education and housing and expressed regret over the segregation in Czech schools. The Commissioner was satisfied to see that the Czech Government had expressed regret in November 2009 regarding the illegal sterilizations of women, most of them Roma. He is calling on the government to adopt new measures aimed at guaranteeing the victims the compensation they are due. In conclusion, the Commissioner expressed his regret that families most often respond to material deprivation by placing their children in institutions. Such cases, in his view, should be exceptions and not the rule.
© AFP

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SURVIVORS OF ROMA HOLOCAUST VICTIMS AGAINST BAN ON STAY (Czech Rep.)

2/3/2010- Survivors of the Roma Holocaust victims ask Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas to prevent debate on a proposal for ban on stay in certain municipalities and other similar steps, in an open letter signed by Cenek Ruzicka, chair of the Committee for the Redress of the Roma Holocaust. The letter says these are "anti-social measures" and that society would "get even more radical" in its relation to the Roma if the proposals were implemented. The proposal to ban stay in certain municipalities in reaction to misdemeanours has been made by deputy Ivana Rapkova (senior ruling Civic Democrats, ODS), former mayor of Chomutov, north Bohemia, that has a strong Roma minority. She said the fines that can now be imposed on perpetrators of misdemeanours are not sufficient and that town halls should have the opportunity to ban unadaptable inhabitants, as Roma are often referred to, from staying in a town or village for up to one year for breaching the peace and coexistence. Liana Janackova (Independents), mayor of the Marianske Hory neighbourhood of Ostrava, north Moravia, previously spoke about the introduction of the right of domicile.

The mayors of some 60 towns and villages have signed a statement demanding more powers for self-rule authorities in dealing with defaulters and unadaptable inhabitants. The statement was approved at a recent meeting of town and villages' representatives in Novy Bydzov, east Bohemia. Ruzicka wrote that the survivors of the Romani victims of Nazis and former internment camps' Romani prisoners follow "the worsening relationship of a bigger number of inhabitants as well as top politicians towards Roma" with fears. "The anti-Romani phobia afflicted mayors and other politicians" want to push through the ban on stay, says the letter. It points to similar measures taken by the first Czechoslovak Republic (1918-38) at the end of the 1920s. "Citizens, represented by their mayors, also forced lawmakers to pass a humiliating law that banned my parents and 40,000 other Roma from entering selected towns and villages," Ruzicka wrote. He wrote that the proposed changes would have a "tragic" impact on Roma and that this would tarnish the name of the Czech Republic in the EU.
© The Prague Daily Monitor

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LETY MONUMENT OPENS WITH NEW REPLICA OF PRISONERS' QUARTERS (Czech Rep.)

1/3/2011- On Monday 21 March at 13:00 the visiting season will open at the Lety Cultural Monument. Visitors will be able to see a new exhibition of a third historically accurate replica of the prisoners' quarters. The three buildings are in addition to the granite monument on the site designed by academic painter Zdenìk Hùla. The first replica building houses a permanent exhibition on the life of Roma people imprisoned at the Lety camp, while the second houses restroom facilities. The third, which was constructed during the winter, shows visitors examples of the basic equipment of the quarters when Roma prisoners were interned there. "Part of the memorial is a natural amphitheater with seats and an educational walking trail that leads from the village of Lety to the remembrance site. There is also an information center in the building of the Lety town hall that presents short-term historical exhibits. For the opening of the visiting season there will be an exhibition about [Reinhard] Heydrich,“ says Milou¹ Èervencl, director of the Lidice Memorial. The traveling exhibition, entitled "Heydrichiáda" and curated by Vojtìch Kyncl, will open at the Lety information center as part of the new season. The exhibition will stay there until 11 May.

The completion of the third replica of the prisoners' quarters completes all of the new construction that has been planned at the Lety Cultural Monument. Èervencl told news server Romea.cz that "Now we have tasks ahead of us such as making this place more accessible to the general public, particularly to youth and educators. We recently received accreditation to present a new professional seminar for educators entitled 'Camps: Instruments of Persecution'." The first such seminar will take place on 21 and 22 April. The information center will also feature an exhibition on the tragedy in Javoøíèko [Translator's Note: The Nazis executed 38 men there on 5 May 1945]. "Other auxiliary activities depend not just on our ideas and on public interest in this site, but particularly on financial resources, which are unfortunately currently not reaching us or any other cultural institution," Èervencl added. The camp at Lety was opened in August 1940 as a "disciplinary labor" camp. It was intended for men who could not prove their means of making a living. Those who lived an itinerant lifestyle were also meant to end up there. A similar facility existed at Hodonín by Kun¹tát. In January 1942, both camps were transformed into "collections" camps, and in August of that year both sites saw the establishment of "Gypsy" camps. From then until May 1943, 1 308 Roma people passed through the Lety camp, including children, men and women. A total of 327 people died there and more than 500 were sent to Auschwitz. The Nazis murdered an estimated 90 % of Czech Roma.
© Romea

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FRANCE: ANTI-SEMITIC ATTACKS DROPPED 50 PERCENT IN 2010

French Envoy: Number of attacks by Muslims on Jews not disproportionate; credits police, education, and media vigilance.

2/3/2011- The number of anti-Semitic attacks in France dropped by half in 2010, French Ambassador Christophe Bigot announced on Wednesday. According to official data presented by Bigot, 466 anti- Semitic incidents were recorded in France in 2010, in comparison to 832 in 2009. “[The cause for the decrease is] the police, the work of justice, the work of high-school education and the vigilance of the media,” Bigot said. “It’s not only due to the relative calm in the region. There was the flotilla incident that could have provoked more attacks, but still we’ve seen a decrease,” said Bigot referring to Israel’s raid on a Gazabound ship that left nine activists dead and dozens wounded in May last year.

According to French statistics from 2010, the number of anti-Semitic incidents included one attempted murder of a Jewish individual, 56 violent attacks, eight arson attempts, 66 cases of sabotage or vandalism and 366 threats made against Jewish institutions or individuals. Bigot said no official data exists on the personal backgrounds of the people behind anti-Semitic attacks in France or their motivations, but he rejected suspicions that a disproportionate number of perpetrators might be French Muslims. “I am not sure there are more anti-Semitic attacks from this community,” he said, referring to French Muslims.

Attacks on Jewish institutions and individuals in France peaked in 2009 in a large part due to the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. The 2010 numbers represent a return to the figures from 2008 when 474 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded. Since 2004, the French government has allocated 15 million euros to increase security surrounding 349 synagogues and schools that serve the country’s estimated 600,000 Jews, the world’s second largest Jewish community outside of Israel. In addition, since December 2009, a specially appointed French government official has been coordinating efforts to battle anti-Semitism.

Bigot said at the press conference that France’s policy on fighting anti-Semitism has won praise from many Jewish leaders, including Anti- Defamation League head Abraham Foxman. He said his government would not tolerate any hate crimes and continue to try and reduce the number of anti-Semitic incidents in 2011. “There is still a high-level of anti-Semitism in Europe,” Bigot said, “and not only should we not deny this, but we need to recognize it so we can fight it.”
© The Jerusalem Post

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JOHN GALLIANO FACES TRIAL OVER RACISM ALLEGATIONS (France)

British designer could face up to six months in prison after he was accused of antisemitism during rant in Paris bar

2/3/2011- The British designer John Galliano is to face trial for racial and religious insults after he was accused of making antisemitic comments during a drunken rant at a Paris bar. The state prosecutor has ruled that the star couturier must appear in Paris's criminal court in the coming months and could face up to six months in prison and €22,500 in fines. He will face allegations of "public insults based on the origin, religious affiliation, race or ethnicity" against three people. Galliano, axed by the French fashion house Dior following his arrest last week, has apologised "unreservedly" for his behaviour and said he was "seeking help". The New York Times reported friends had persuaded him to go to rehab. Galliano was arrested on Thursday in the chic Marais district of Paris after allegedly shouting anti-Jewish and racist insults at a couple. He denied the allegations and his lawyer said he was counter-suing the couple for defamation. Police said he had drunk the equivalent of two bottles of wine. Two days later a second woman claimed Galliano had similarly insulted her in the same bar in October. Then a video was put online appearing to show Galliano on another occasion telling two women: "I love Hitler. People like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers would all be fucking gassed." In a statement, he accepted the accusations had "greatly shocked and upset people" but denied the claims made against him. He said witnesses had told police he suffered verbal harassment and was subjected to an unprovoked assault during which someone tried to hit him with a chair. But he added: "I must take responsibility for the circumstances in which I found myself and for allowing myself to be seen to be behaving in the worst possible light. I only have myself to blame and I know that I must face up to my own failures and that I must work hard to gain people's understanding and compassion." He added: "Anti-Semitism and racism have no part in our society. I unreservedly apologise for my behaviour in causing any offence."
© The Guardian

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FASHION HOUSE DIOR SACKS STAR DESIGNER GALLIANO OVER ANTI-SEMITIC VIDEO (France)

The French fashion house Dior has fired its flamboyant creative director John Galliano after an amateur video surfaced showing him declaring his love for Hitler and hurling anti-Semitic abuse at a couple in a Paris bar.

2/3/2011- Dior fired its creative director John Galliano on Tuesday, citing the "odious nature" of a video showing him abusing a couple at a Paris bar with anti-Semitic threats. "I love Hitler," Galliano says in the video, which first surfaced on the website of the British tabloid The Sun. "People like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers, would all be gassed." The British couturier is visibly drunk in the video. The French fashion house first suspended him last week after he was arrested and questioned by police over allegations of a similar anti-Semitic tirade aimed at another couple at the same bar. Another complaint of verbal abuse has since surfaced. Galliano has denied the allegations.

The end an era at Dior
The Galliano sacking has overshadowed the start of French Fashion Week and it remains unclear if Dior's catwalk show, scheduled for Friday, will still take place. With the scandal brewing over the weekend, the red carpet at Sunday's Academy Awards put the spotlight on Dior. Natalie Portman, who won the best actress award and has an endorsement contract with Dior for its Miss Dior Cherie perfume, said she was "disgusted" by the Galliano's behavior. "In light of this video, and as an individual who is proud to be Jewish, I will not be associated with Mr. Galliano in any way," she said in a statement. "I hope at the very least, these terrible comments remind us to reflect and act upon combating these still-existing prejudices that are the opposite of all that is beautiful." The firing of Galliano brings an end to one of the longest-running and most successful partnerships in fashion. The Gibraltar-born, British designer joined Dior as creative director in 1996. During his time there, Dior's sales of perfumes, bags and cosmetics soared. While other design houses' currency faded, Galliano gave Dior a fresh edge with his legendary inventiveness. He has been named British designer of the year four times. The French media quote unnamed sources as saying that recent years, however, have been marked by heavy drinking and pessimism.
© The Deutsche Welle

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REFUGEES NOT WELCOME BY FRENCH RIGHT

1/3/2011- The leader of France’s far-right, Marine Le Pen, accused the European Union of failing to protect European citizens from the expected wave of immigrants from Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. Le Pen called on France, Spain, and Italy to reach agreement that would “protect our national waters and push migrants attempting to reach Europe back into international waters.” Le Pen, whose National Front Party saw its supporters flock to Nicolas Sarkozy in the last presidential elections, has regained force with her popularity on the rise as the French president’s plummets. Le Pen is named as a candidate in the 2012 presidential elections. Sarkozy’s Presidential Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party is finding itself trapped in a recently launched debate on the place of Islam in French society. Last month, Sarkozy said multiculturalism has failed in France, and that Muslims, like other immigrants, must melt into French society. “If you come to France, you accept to melt into a single community, which is the national community, and if you do not want to accept that, you cannot be welcome in France,” Sarkozy said of immigrants on Feb. 10, according to AFP. “Our Muslim compatriots must be able to practice their religion, as any citizen can,” but added, “we in France do not want people to pray in an ostentatious way in the street,” AFP reported.

The polls currently show that Islam in French society is one of the issues of greatest concern to French voters. Criticized for creating misunderstandings and mixing Islam, insecurity, and immigration, the debate has triggered counter-movements such as the “24 hours without us” protest held on Feb. 27. The protest called on all immigrants in France to stop working for 24 hours to show the impact their absence would have on the French economy. A Socialist Party spokesperson accused the president of “playing a fear game” after Sarkozy announced a cabinet reshuffle Sunday, with a new interior minister in charge of preventing further immigration from Arab countries. In addition, Sarkozy announced that former Premier Alain Juppe would become the country’s new Foreign Affairs Minister, replacing a discredited Michele Alliot-Marie, who resigned in the face of criticism over her links with the former Tunisian regime. In his statement, Sarkozy emphasized that the Arab revolts are a very serious matter and that France has to be prepared “for events to come, which no one can predict how they will happen.” For language and historical reasons, France is likely to be the primary destination for Tunisian migrants while Italy will be the destination of choice for Libyans. Several voices say that the immigrant influx could remain insignificant, with natives of the agitated countries likely to stay home and participate in the construction of democracy, gained there through many sacrifices.
© The Epoch Times

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SERBIA FAR-RIGHT LEADER GOES ON TRIAL FOR ORCHESTRATING VIOLENCE DURING GAY PRIDE MARCH

3/3/2011- A far right Serbian leader has gone on trial for allegedly orchestrating violence during October gay pride march when more than 100 people were injured. Mladen Obradovic from nationalist Obraz (Honor) group denied responsibility Thursday during the opening hearing for the attacks on police during the Oct. 10 event. Obradovic and 13 others have been charged with violent behaviour at a public gathering. They face up to 12 years in prison. Far-right groups attacked the police securing last year's gay pride march. Serbia's pro-Western government has pledged to protect human rights as it seeks EU membership.
© The Associated Press

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ANTI-SEMITIC TV RANT CAUSES FURORE IN SERBIA

Broadcasting authority mulls changing rules for reality TV shows after singer says she "hates" Jews.

2/3/2011- The deputy head of Serbia's broadcasting agency, RRA, said the organisation planned to issue new binding instructions for TV reality shows after a participant started an anti-semitic rant on air. The scandal occurred during last Saturday's edition of the reality show "Dvor", shown on the country's national Pink TV station. When Mika Kostic told another folk singer, Maja Nikolic, that the latter earned only 30 euros a night for her work, Nikolic replied in reference to Kostic's Jewish ancestry that she "hated" Jews in general. "I hate Jews because they have created America," Nikolic said. Another competitor, Milos Bojanic, justified Nikolic's statement, saying Serbs could only hate people who had bombed them, referring to the US-led NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999, which forced Serbia to withdraw from Kosovo. "Reality television is too risky," Goran Karadzic told B92 television, announcing that Pink would be penalised for the incident. One possible idea is for the RRA to oblige reality programmes to broadcast shows following a 30-minute delay, in order to give monitors time to be remove offensive content.

While Kostic said she intended to sue Nikolic for her remarks, the head of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Serbia, Aleksandar Necak, said they intended to sue TV Pink for airing the show rather than the participants. The State Prosecutor's Office said it will consider whether the competitors in the show were responsible for inciting religious intolerance, an offence that carries a prison sentence of up to five years. "All those who made anti-semitic statements will be brought to justice, or criminal proceedings will be initiated against them," spokesman Tomo Zoric said in a statement. Nikolic, who has since been thrown out of the show on the request of the RRA, said she apologized to all Jews in Serbia who had "suffered because of a bad interpretation of my statement." She denied inciting ethnic and religious hatred. "I am neither a racist nor a nationalist," she said. "My godfather is a Jew, as is a friend from Greece. I also have many friends of that nationality and religion and I do not hate them," the website Mondo quoted Nikolic as saying.
© Balkan Insight

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RABBI ATTACKED IN SWITZERLAND

1/3/2011- t has been learned that the assistant rabbi at the Lausanne Synagogue in Switzerland was punched and verbally attacked by three youths last Wednesday night, February 23. The anti-Semitic incident occurred as he left the area around the synagogue. CICAD, French-speaking Switzerland's Inter-community co-ordination against anti-Semitism and defamation, reports that the assistant rabbi has pressed charges against his assailants. He was slightly injured in the attack, which was stopped by passersby. Police arrived rapidly and were able to locate two of the three attackers, both of whom are minors. A police investigation continues. CICAD called the incident the "worst attack of anti-semitism in Switzerland in recent years." This is surprising, in that just two years ago, CICAD reported on a “sharp rise in anti-Semitic acts [in Switzerland],” and lamented the "unresponsive" Swiss authorities. There were with 38 attacks in 2007 and 96 in 2008; statistics on attacks since then are unavailable. A poll conducted in Switzerland in 2007 showed that 41% of respondents thought that Jews have too much power in the business world, 40% believed that Jews have too much power in international financial markets, and 45% felt that Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust. Seventeen percent of the Swiss respondents agreed that the Jews are responsible for the death of Jesus.
© Your Jewish News

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ROMA LEADER TO SUE 'FACEBOOK' PROTEST ORGANIZER OVER RACIST SLOGANS (Croatia)

1/3/2011- The president of the Roma Football Association has said he would sue the organizer of the so-called "Facebook" protests for not curbing his follower's racist slogans. Tofko Dedic-Toti said that the organizer of the protest, Ivan Pernar, should have intervened when some of the protesters started yelling "Gypsies! Gypsies" in front of the government buildings, referring to the officials that they want deposed. "Roma are in continuous struggle against racism, discrimination, intolerance and poverty. Mr. Pernar is the organizer of the protest and he should have reacted" when people around him started using "gypsy" as a derogatory word to insult the officials, Dedic-Toti said. "For ten years I've been advocating equality, and I want to prove in human and tolerant way, that we are equal inhabitants." Dedic-Toti is demanding an apology from Pernar, the daily Jutarnji List writes. A series of anti-government protest has swept some towns in Croatia with, Zagreb at their center. The protests were first organized by Ivan Pernar over Facebook.
© The Croatian Times

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GREECE HUNGER STRIKE MIGRANTS TAKEN TO HOSPITAL

1/3/2011- Up to 50 migrants are being given hospital treatment, almost five weeks after going on hunger strike in Greece. More than 280 migrants in Athens and Thessaloniki began the hunger strike in late January, calling on Greece to give them residence permits. Some of the migrants were being treated for acute kidney failure, Greek media said. As supporters gathered outside the Greek parliament in Athens, there were reports of minor scuffles with police. An immigrant support network said many of the strikers, most of them from North Africa, had stopped taking water. "There is no room for waiting or negotiation, tomorrow one of them could be dead," Stratis Plomaritis, a doctor in the second city of Thessaloniki told the ANA news agency. The hunger strikers, many of whom have lived and worked on the Greek island of Crete for years, have attracted the support of unions, human rights organisations and a number of academics. At least 350,000 migrant workers in Greece are without residence permits, which are required for access to social insurance payments. But the number of unemployed migrants has risen as the national jobless rate has climbed to almost 14%. The country has been hit by a deep recession and severe austerity measures imposed because of last year's 110bn euro (£93bn) EU/IMF bail-out. Greece has become the busiest gateway for immigrants trying to enter the European Union. According to government figures, 128,000 migrants arrived in Greece illegally in 2010, about 90% of the total EU number. The Greek government has refused to legalise all the migrant workers but said this week it would consider easing residency regulations.
© BBC News

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ATHENS MAYOR STRUGGLES TO KEEP FAR-RIGHT GROUP IN CHECK (Greece)

Kaminis to meet with councillors to discuss Chryssi Avgi's rowdy behavior

1/3/2011- Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis is to invite the heads of the various political groupings on the City of Athens council for talks after another rowdy meeting of councillors on Monday threatened to get out of hand. Kaminis decided on holding head-to-head meetings after more complaints about the behavior of the leader of the far-right Chryssi Avgi grouping Nikos Michaloliakos. The outspoken Michaloliakos has already caused controversy at council meetings by verbally abusing leftist councillor Petros Constantinou and performing the Nazi salute. On Monday, Michaloliakos asked for a constituent to address the council meeting and, after obtaining permission, the guest launched a verbal assault on Constantinou. Representatives of other groupings also complained about the large number of associates that accompany Michaloliakos to council meetings. City of Athens council rules mean that each grouping is only allowed a limited amount of guest passes for meetings but opponents have accused Chryssi Avgi of ignoring the restrictions and creating an intimidating atmosphere at City Hall. Michaloliakos became the first member of Chryssi Avgi to be voted onto the City of Athens council in last November’s local election. The extreme right group campaigned very heavily in Aghios Panteleimonas and other central Athens districts with a high percentage of immigrant residents.
© The Kathimerini

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WAR OF WORDS OVER 'GYPSY' LABEL INTENSIFIES (Romania)

Civil society and Romania’s cultural elite are fighting over whether the term ‘tigan’ (gypsy) is derogatory to an ethnic group. And the battlefield is - the Romanian dictionary. Report by Cerasela Marin

French [french] – noun
1. the people of France and their descendants
2. a name given to someone with bad habits

Bulgarian [buhl-gair-ee-uhn] – noun
1. a native or inhabitant of Bulgaria
2. a name given to someone with bad habits

3/3/2011- These entries would never appear in the official dictionary of any language. So why is it that the description of an ethnic group, the tigan (gypsy) in the official Romanian Dictionary DEX, refers to the people as ‘a person who originates from the India... living in some parts still in a seminomadic state’ and ‘a person with bad habits’? This is the subject of a linguistic war between Roma rights organisations and the cultural egg-heads of Romania’s final word on cultural debate - the Romanian Academy. The debate began last year when Bucharest MP Silviu Prigoana proposed that the official name of the ethnic group ‘Roma’ [rom] should change ‘gypsy’ [tigan]. Many NGOs argued this minority does not identify itself with the name ‘gypsy’, but Prigoana responded that he was following the best advice - that of the Romanian Academy. Through its Iorgu Iordan Linguistics Institute, Romania’s cultural powerhouse argues that the name ‘gypsy’ is widely used across Europe. “But the word ‘gypsy’ was used to describe the social status of a slave,” argues Gelu Duminica, President of the Agency for Community Development, Impreuna. “One wish of the Roma people after the expansion of Romania in 1919 was that this derogatory name should change.” Now he says that to associate a pejorative name with an ethnic group does not fit with the aims and objectives of a democratic EU country. Another argument from the academy is that the word ‘gypsy’ is about 700 years old, while the word ‘Roma’ has a first recorded use in the 1950s, and is employed by members of the ethnic group.

But Duminica argues the word ‘Roma’ appeared in the Romanian dictionary only in 1939, but had been present in dictionaries from other countries since 1890. Last February the Senate rejected the proposal to make tigan the official name of the ethnicity. But the battle has now moved onto new ground. Duminica’s association, together with the ‘Equality of Chances’ Roma Association in Tulcea and gay and lesbian rights NGO Accept, want to change the definition and classification of ‘gypsy’ as a descriptive noun. They demand that the National Council for Fighting Against Discrimination sanction the Romanian Academy and the Iorgu Iordan Institute for prejudice in associating tigan with a “name given to someone with a bad behavior or bad habits”. However a counter-argument is that the dictionary is reflecting the meaning of a word as it used in society - and if society prescribes the meaning of a person with bad behaviour and habits to tigan then it is society’s problem, not that of the dictionary. But Duminica argues that the role of a dictionary is to educate the population - and not to legitimise an existing prejudice. “If you label a whole minority with a name that is used in a derogatory way and you do not tell people that that name is derogatory, then it is a form of discrimination,” he says. However the Academy argues that it is not that easy for them to tamper with the dictionary and a court of law cannot change the meaning of a word. “Lawmakers can’t rule on a linguistic issue,” says Ionel Haiduc, president of the Romanian Academy.

But there is a precedent. The word jidan [‘yid’ in English] appears in DEX as a word to describe Jewish people, but adds that this is a ‘popular pejorative’ [pop si peior] term. Similarly NGOs are calling for DEX to add 12 further characters to the dictionary [pop si peior] after tigan. The history of the dictionary’s relationship with ‘gypsies’ is not pleasant. In 1939 ‘gypsies’ were defined in the dictionary, figuratively, as despicable, shameless, greedy, wasteful, unwilling to help, thieves, without dignity, filthy, meaty-lipped and foul-mouthed. Since then these derogatory descriptive nouns have been condensed in the last three editions of DEX to a “person with bad habits”. There is also an argument that the dictionary includes a disproportionate amount of negative idioms associated with ‘gypsies’. In the current edition of DEX these include “to throw death to the gypsies” (to shift the blame), “to move around like a gypsy with his tent” (to move very often) or “to drown like a gypsy in shallow water” (to go from a bad position to good position but still fail). Together this associates the race with characteristics of irresponsibility, nomadism and ineptitude, while two of the three sayings are visual metaphors of violent murder dealt out to an ethnic group. Duminica argues these are just a few of the idioms linked with gypsies and they ignore the positive proverbs – such as “you’ll have good luck if a gypsy girl kisses you” and “a gypsy mare will sire a boyer’s horse”. “Through these terms and idioms, the gypsy has become the equivalent of the bogey man,” says Duminica. “If we try to acknowledge the fact that the word ‘gypsy’ carries a derogatory connotation, maybe 20 years from now all the pejorative terms that include it will be gone.” The National Council for Fight Against Discrimination should mediate between the two sides in March. But irrespective of the verdict given by the Council, Roma rights organisations say they will sue the Romanian Academy.

View from the street
In a grey headscarf, waterproof jacket and army boots, 60-year old Dedonia is selling bunches of handmade socks for four Euro on a table outside Eroilor metro station in Bucharest. “We’re not gypsies, we’re Roma,” she says. “That is how we are always going to identify ourselves.” Arranging a flower stall nearby, 25-year old Maricica is wearing a long red and green pleated skirt and a pullover with her brown hair in a bun. She says she has no problem with using the word ‘gypsy’. “My mother always says that we are gypsy and that we shouldn’t be ashamed about it,” she says. She does consider the word gypsy is an insult and that she uses it only to identify bad behaviour. “I call my brother a gypsy when he acts like a gypsy,” she adds. Meanwhile 43 year-old Gheorghe, a former mason, now picks up and sells scrap metal. He argues that the poverty in which his ethnic group lives causes its members to be seen almost as “lepers” and says that the Romanian attitude towards them will never change, no matter the name. But he admits that the name “gypsy” makes the feeling of being an outcast even stronger. There is division among the community over whether the correct reference should be Roma or Gypsy. OSCE expert on national minorities issues Ciprian Necula believes that this confusion is because the community has picked up usage of the word ‘tigan’ from Romanians. “History has led Roma to borrow cultural elements from the Romanians,” he says, “including the word ‘tigan’, because in the Romani language the word ‘tigan’ does not exist.”

Out of bounds: a history of Roma
Around 12 million Roma are living around the world, eight million of whom are resident in across Europe. The exact time and path of their migration from India is uncertain. Roma arrived with the Ottoman Turks, or perhaps earlier with the Tatars. The first historical record of Roma in Romania dates from around 1385. Most Roma lived in slavery to landowners and the Church until their liberation in February 1856. In the first half of the 18th century, around 200,000 Roma lived in the Danubian Principalities, comprising five per cent of the population. The 1918 union of Romania with Transylvania, Banat, Bucovina and Basarabia increased the number of ethnic Roma in Romania. The first census took place in 1930 when almost 250,000 registered as gypsies (tigani). In World War II, the Fascist regime of Ion Antonescu deported 25,000 Roma to Transnistria, where half of them died. Today the Roma people are the second largest minority in Romania, although the accuracy of this figure is debatable. According to the 2002 census, they number 535,140 or 2.5 per cent of the population, but other sources claim the correct number is 1.8 million, because many Roma do not want to officially declare their ethnicity. This is because they have a lack of identity papers, have a fear of discrimination and marginalisation or have been ethnically assimilated.

The Romanian Constitution recognises the Roma to be a national minority and an independent political force in Parliament. However due to pressures to assimilate into Romanian society linguistically, many Roma no longer speak Romani dialects. In general, Vasile Ionescu, president of Agency for Communication, Mediation and Media - Romanothan, is pessimistic about the integration of the Roma community in modern Romania. “A decent society is one in which discrimination does not exist, at least in public institutions,” he says. “Romania is not ready for a decent society, as long as the authorities instigate discrimination. The Roma will never be equal to the Romanian because of their historical owner-slave relationship.” More optimistic are young Roma students volunteering at a Roma-run Centre for Education and Social Development. This NGO has launched programmes to support Roma children with advice for choosing a high school or college. “There are young Roma who cannot think about the possibility to create their own future, so they need our support,” says 20-year old volunteer Violeta Paun. Meanwhile OSCE expert on national minorities issues Ciprian Necula says the prejudices against the Roma will disappear in time, but it may take decades, and will need a lot of work from the Romanian authorities, the Romanian people and from the Roma.
© The Diplomat

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FIRST FORMAL ROMA COURT OPENS IN ROMANIA

A longstanding tradition of mediating disputes between Roma/Gypsy people with the help of community elders has taken on a more formal role.

1/3/2011- This is not a parallel justice system, it is simply part of our tradition," Dorin Cioaba, son of the self-proclaimed King of the Gypsies, said on Monday, when opening the first formal court (called Stabor in Romani language) for the minority group in Romania. "We are here to mediate different disputes among people of our community, so we will try not to judge them, but only to reconcile people," he told Balkan Insight. The unofficial courthouse is located in Sibiu, southern Transylvania, home to a large community of Roma. Dressed in long white and purple gowns, Cioaba, the court's president, and the seven members of a jury opened the first session with a hearing on a dispute between two Roma men who were wrangling over the ownership of a gold necklace that belonged to their mother. Dorin Cioaba, 41, is a graduate in law, while the members of the court's ruling committee are leaders (called bulibasa) of different Roma families. After more than an hour of carefully listening to both parties' arguments, the jury decided to postpone the case until the end of next month. "Our main aim is to help people reconcile and to go to the official justice system only if there are no other solutions. That's why we are addressing cases of minor disputes among members of our community. Furthermore, we can offer legal advice for those in need," says Florin Cioaba. Among the cases he mentioned are commercial and civil law disputes, counseling for married couples in trouble or the violation of Roma traditions. Until now, the Stabor rulings have not been open to the public and have been held in various locations, including out in the open, often in the street. The mediation has been offered by informal leaders of the community, including elders. Romania is officially home to some 550,000 Roma, although it is widely believed that their real number is at least twice as high. Many people of Roma origin do not declare their ethnicity on account of the widespread prejudice they face in the Balkan country.
© Balkan Insight

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GAY PARTNERSHIP LAW LEADS TO 700 'REGISTRATIONS' (Austria)

28/2/2011- More than 700 same sex couples decided to follow the government coalition’s offer of having their partnership "registered" last year. Federal statistic agency Statistik Austria said today (Mon) that 705 gay couples took the opportunity to gain legal status for their relationships last year when a new law passed by the Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the People’s Party (ÖVP) went into effect. Around 64 per cent of the couples were male, the authority said. The agency also said that, with 49.5 per cent, nearly half of all gay and lesbian couples who opted for the "registration" were residents of Vienna. The small provinces of Burgenland and Vorarlberg recorded the lowest number at 12 couples each. There was also little interest in Carinthia (17) and Salzburg (32). The SPÖ-ÖVP coalition said the law was a step ahead in reducing the barriers that confront homosexuals everyday. Some activists however accused the government of trying to whitewash its reputation on the issue in light of the "slow progress".
© The Austrian Times

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SWEDEN BEST AT INTEGRATION: STUDY

Sweden is the better at managing integration than other European countries, the United States, and Canada, according to a study published on Monday by the British Council and the Migration Policy Group.

28/2/2011- Sweden's score of 83 gave it the highest rank among countries included in the study. Portugal ranked second with a score of 79, followed by Canada (72). Neighbouring Finland claimed the number 4 spot (69), with Norway coming in seventh (66) and Denmark trailing its Scandinavian neighbours in 14th place (53). According to the index, derived from an analysis of 148 different factors, Swedish integration policies are deemed offer favourable conditions for migrants to participate in society, including finding employment. Also highlighted as strengths were Swedish laws pertaining to family reunification and anti-discrimination, while laws related to housing, education, political participation and citizenship were considered no less advantageous. Henrik Nilsson, a start-up coordinator and member of the Red Cross, Sweden's national partner to the study, attributed much of Sweden's high ranking to the right mix of policies and willing volunteers. “Sweden's first place shows that good forces can combine to produce results. We have a Parliament that passes laws giving newcomers the right to instruction in Swedish…and thousands of volunteers who support new arrivals when they enter into Swedish society,” Nilsson said in a statement. “At the same time there is much we can do better in the practical work at the local, regional and national level in terms, such as health.”

The long-term study, known at MIPEX, puts Sweden's ability to deal with the challenges of integration above efforts in place in all other European Union (EU) member states, Norway, Switzerland, Canada and the US. A collaborative effort between the British Council, the Migration Policy Group and national partners, the MIPEX study compares and contrasts integration policies across 31 countries in Europe and North America, surveying what various governments are doing to promote integration of immigrants and refugees with residence permits. For the purposes of the study, immigrants are defined as non-EU nationals who enter their countries of destination legally. Asylum seekers, refugees, the undocumented, and intra-EU migrants and people will immigrant backgrounds who haven't themselves immigrated are therefore not included in the analysis. MIPEX also benchmarks whether governments grant equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities for all residents according to international standards agreed upon by EU member states. “While change is happening at a very slow pace, there are still many obstacles to how immigrants live, work and participate in our societies,” the British Council said in a statement. The findings revealed that great disparities exist in how Europe is integrating its 20 million immigrants who legally reside in the region. “Most countries are creating as many opportunities as obstacles for immigrants to become equal members of society,” the British independent government agency said in the same statement.
© The Local - Sweden

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GERMAN INTERIOR MINISTER REOPENS BITTER ROW OVER MUSLIM INTEGRATION

Hans-Peter Friedrich criticised after claiming Islam 'does not belong' in Germany

4/3/2011- Germany's new interior minister has said Islam does not "belong" in the country, reopening a bitter debate over the integration of Germany's 4 million Muslims. Hans-Peter Friedrich, who took office on Wednesday, was being asked by reporters about a gun attack at Frankfurt airport in which two US servicemen were killed and another two injured. Investigators suspect the attack, carried out by a 21-year-old Muslim immigrant from Kosovo, was an act of Islamist terrorism. A federal judge in Karlsruhe on Thursday ordered the suspect be remanded to jail on two counts of murder and three of attempted murder, pending further investigation. In his first press conference as minister, Friedrich said on Friday that Muslims should be allowed live in modern Germany, but he added: "To say that Islam belongs in Germany is not a fact supported by history." He was immediately criticised by another government minister. "Of course Islam belongs in Germany," said the justice minister, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, of the FDP party, which rules in a coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU). "I assume that the new minister will follow the lead of his predecessor [Thomas de Maizière] and will take his responsibility for integration policy seriously, and campaign for cohesion rather than exclusion," she added. Another FDP politician, Hartfrid Wolff, said on Friday in Berlin: "Islam has been a real part of Germany for several generations … It is just as unhelpful to deny this fact as to naively romanticise multiculturalism." Dieter Wiefelspütz, of the opposition SPD party, said Friedrich was talking "nonsense". The interior minister had started his new job by making a "misjudgment", he added.

Friedrich was promoted to his post after Merkel was forced to reshuffle her cabinet because of the high-profile resignation of her defence minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, who was disgraced in a plagiarism scandal. Aiman Mazyek, chairman of Germany's Central Council of Muslims, said Muslims should no longer be dismissed as a social group. He said he agreed with comments made in October by Germany's president, Christian Wulff, who called on Germans to recognise that Islam is a part of the nation. Immigration has been a hot topic in Germany over the past year, following the publication of an incendiary book by a board member of the central bank. Thilo Sarrazin provoked outrage with Germany Is Making Itself Redundant (Deutschland Schafft Sich Ab), which claimed the country was facing collapse because of the growing number of undereducated Muslims who were increasingly resistant to being integrated into German society. He said members of the Turkish and Arab communities were making Germany "more stupid". Sarrazin was sacked by the bank's board, but his comments were backed up by Horst Seehofer, premier of the conservative southern German state of Bavaria, a member of the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party of Merkel's Christian Democrats, who called for a halt to immigration from Turkey and Arabic countries. Seehofer told a German magazine it was time for the country to look elsewhere for qualified workers, at a time when many parts of the labour market were facing grave shortfalls. "It's clear that immigrants from other cultural circles like Turkey, and Arab countries, have more difficulties. From that I draw the conclusion that we don't need any additional foreign workers from other cultures," he said.
© The Guardian

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FROM FINANCIER TO FLAG-BEARER FOR GERMANY'S FAR-RIGHT

Thilo Sarrazin's attacks on immigration have divided a nation. Tony Paterson watches an unlikely demagogue in action

1/3/2011- It was not the sort of reception normally laid on for an author whose book has sold well over one million copies: outside the community hall in Ehringshausen, a sprawling suburban town north of Frankfurt, an angry army of left-wing protesters was growing hoarse from screaming: "We don't want racist pigs!" Burly police struggled to keep them on the pavement. An elderly woman in a fluffy hat had covered herself with placards proclaiming: "Thank you foreigners for everything you have done to build up Germany!" But on the steps of the community hall, a crowd of grey-haired, middle-aged men queued to see the writer who has polarised the country by daring to write what many claim is "what everybody really thinks". The author was Thilo Sarrazin, the renowned 65-year-old former Bundesbank board member and Berlin city government finance minister who has shocked and nauseated parts of Germany's liberal establishment with his explosive, bestselling book about immigration entitled Deutschland schafft sich ab (Germany is doing away with itself).

Sarrazin's work is a long and divisive essay, based on questionable statistics, about what he considers to be the combined ill-effects of continued Muslim immigration and an accelerating decline in the birth rate of intelligent white Germans. His argument, boiled down, is that Muslim immigrants are chronic under-achievers who not only breed like rabbits but are more likely to be dependent on social security and involved in crime than ethnic Germans and other Europeans. "No other group is so intent on stressing its otherness, especially through clothing worn by women," Sarrazin says. "In no other religion is the transition to violence, dictatorship and terrorism so fluid." Sarrazin quotes and agrees with Enoch Powell, who in 1968 shocked Britain with his infamous "rivers of blood" speech predicting that the UK would be swamped with West Indian immigrants. In a similar vein, Sarrazin predicts the Germans will eventually be outnumbered by an underclass of Muslims. "I don't want the land of my grandchildren and great-grandchildren to become predominantly Muslim, or to become a place where Turkish and Arabic are mostly spoken, or to be a country in which women wear headscarves and the daily rhythm is determined by the call of the muezzin," he writes. "Whole clans have a long tradition of incest and correspondingly many handicaps. "More children from cleverer people before it's too late." Towards the end of his 450-page book, Sarrazin presents readers with the grim spectre of a future Germany in which Muslims are in the majority and Cologne's mighty cathedral has to be handed over to the Islamic community for future use as a mosque.

Since it was published in August by Germany's respected DVA publishing house, Deutschland schafft sich ab has topped Der Spiegel magazine's national bestseller list. The book is now on its 16th edition. At the last count it had sold in excess of 1.3 million copies, making it one of the most widely read titles published in Germany since the Second World War. Sarrazin's views are credited with sparking a "long overdue" debate in Germany and elsewhere about immigration. They have helped to foster a climate in which Chancellor Angela Merkel has denounced attempts to build a multicultural society as a "complete failure". David Cameron chose Germany to make virtually the same statement in February. But the book has also found many critics, including the general secretary of Germany's Central Council of Jews. He suggested that Sarrazin should apply for a job as a spokesman on race issues for the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party. In Ehringshausen, the author was making one of his regular appearances at a public reading of his work. The event, which was sold out almost a month in advance, was organised by the youth wing of Ms Merkel's Christian Democratic party and billed as an "opportunity for people to discuss an explosive subject on the spot". The town's 600-seat community hall was packed. The audience almost exclusively consisted of white middle-aged or older Germans.

With his grey hair, moustache, tweed jacket and thick spectacles, Sarrazin looked like an elderly schoolmaster at a strict 1950s prep school. The protesters were his first target. "These are left-wing fascists, who don't read and know nothing," he announced to his audience, earning a burst of wild applause. Sarrazin then ran through his well-known theories which were peppered with observations: "Britain provides a good case study on Muslims. Immigration from the Indian sub-continent has shown that Hindus far outperform Muslim Pakistanis and Bangladeshis at school," he insisted. "The more religious the Muslims, the worse they are at school, at work and at integration." Department for Education figures show that Indian children outperform those from Pakistan or Bangladesh, and they are more likely to be Hindus. But Muslim children educated in Muslim schools outperform those taught in non-faith state schools, according to a study carried out in Bradford, debunking his theory that the more religious the Muslims, the worse they are at school. The author delighted in telling the crowd about a podium discussion at which a young headscarf-wearing Muslim woman asked him what she should do to integrate herself better into German society: "I told her: 'You must take off your headscarf !' It is legitimate for the German Volk to ask whether it wants to keep its identity."

Ms Merkel's young conservatives had hoped that Sarrazin's reading would spark a lively pro-and-con discussion between their guest and the audience. But the middle-aged crowd in the hall appeared to agree with everything the speaker had to say. Sarrazin was delivered soft-ball questions, such as: "What should we do to stop the rise of the Muslim population?" He replied: "Intelligent women must have more children." He did not mean intelligent Muslim women. One member of the audience won special applause after stating: "Let's be honest Mr Sarrazin, the whole debate about immigration is being conducted by naïve do-gooders and token immigrants. When are you going to start your own political party?" The author refused to take up the challenge and somewhat meekly replied that he believed the main parties faced their last chance to take up the issue themselves. Sven Ringsdorf, one of the young conservatives' leaders, said the event has shown that "Sarrazin has struck a chord with the audience". He said the young conservatives had wanted to provide a platform for Sarrazin and had not considered inviting a speaker who might take issue with his views. When Sarrazin's critics have tried to speak at his readings they were shouted down. In Ehringshausen, judging by the 137-metre queue for signed copies of Deutschland schafft sich ab, it seemed reasonable to assume that the same would have happened this time. Most of those in the queue interviewed by The Independent had a negative story to tell about their experience with Germany's 3.5 million Turks. Annette, a hairdresser in her 30s and one of the few younger women at the event, complained that Turkish mothers at her child's kindergarten refused to bring their offspring to children's parties and just stayed away without saying anything.

Siegfried, a pensioner in his 70s, said that Turks "hang around in knife gangs and threaten people". Pushing a wheelchair-bound relative down the street, he described how he was forced off the pavement by a group of young Turkish boys. "They are all the same," he said. When Deutschland schafft sich ab was first published there were fears that Sarrazin's views would lead to the sudden formation of a new and threatening far-right party. In the meantime, the book is viewed more or less as a safety valve which enables many ordinary Germans to see their prejudices reflected and not feel alone. If a survey conducted among 10,000 Sarrazin readers for Germany's Süd deutsche Zeitung newspaper is anything to go by, his fans are dyed-in-the-wool conservatives rather than raving neo-Nazis. An overwhelming majority was shown to be middle class and middle-aged or elderly men who valued "a harmonious private life" and "cleanliness in the home". Most of them subscribed to the following assertion: "I don't like changes in my life. I prefer to stick to my old habits." Some say that such findings make Sarrazin's book no less disturbing, as they suggest there is a grain of truth in the claim that he has written "what everybody thinks".

Profile – Thilo Sarrazin, 66, the son of a doctor, grew up in the West German town of Recklinghausen and studied economics at Bonn University. He has spent most of his working life as a civil servant. He served as a Berlin city government finance senator and as a Federal Bank board member. He is a member of the opposition Social Democratic Party. He is married to a teacher, with whom he has two children. His book, Germany Does Away With Itself, was published in 2010 and predicts that Germans will soon be outnumbered by an underclass of semi-criminal, welfare-dependent Muslims who breed like rabbits. The book provoked an outraged response from immigrant and Jewish community groups. But it has sold almost 1.3 million copies.
© The Independent

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INTEGRATION NEEDS BOLD STEPS, NOT POPULIST RHETORIC (Germany, opinion)

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan has sparked angry reactions with his controversial speech about integration. But DW's Baheddin Güngör says bold steps, not populist rhetoric, are needed to address integration policy.
By Baheddin Güngör, head of DW's Turkish department
 

28/2/2011- During his visit to Germany, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has unleashed a wave of angry reactions within the German political scene. Erdogan said Turkish children living in Germany should learn Turkish first, then German - directly contradicting Berlin's stance that the German language is the key to integration. The Turkish prime minister called for integration, but rejected assimilation, which he believes would impair the cultural identity of Turks living in Germany. Erdogan has also cleverly cautioned against Islamophobia whilst drawing comparisons to anti-Semitism, referring to it as a "crime against humanity." Erdogan has profited from many years of mistakes in Germany's integration policy. The fact that most Turks fly the Turkish flag and only a few fly the European flag or the German and Turkish flags together says a lot. But one of each of the three flags sat on the chairs in the room. The nationwide integration chaos must be ended as soon as possible. But brave decisions are necessary while abandoning anti-Turkish action in election campaigns, of which there is no shortage in Germany. Otherwise the gap between the German majority in society and the Turks will get steadily wider, regardless of whether they were born here and are settled in. It shouldn't be that President Christian Wulff is represented on the front cover of magazines like an Islamic leader, just because he described Islam as a reality in Germany. It shouldn't be that hate is preached in the German media and that Turks and Islam are misrepresented, while the benefits of the overwhelming majority of integrated people are swept under the carpet.

EU needs political integrity
Turks should not be harassed when applying for an entry visa to be reunited with their families. They should not be discriminated against to the point of insult while people from other countries outside of the EU can travel in and out of Germany without a problem. And we cannot let Turkey's EU ambitions - based on treaties and other agreements - to be constantly called into question, simply because the Turks have different cultural or religious roots. That is unless the EU characterizes itself as a Christian club and foregoes the claim to be a political union based on common contemporary values. The many integration summits and Islam conferences that take place in Berlin do not offer a sound foundation for effective policy. The federal government and states have to change direction. Issues like dual citizenship, the right to vote in Germany - at least at the municipal level - or the relaxation of entry visa requirements demands a courageous approach. Politicians must quit taking positions only for political gain. No one should wonder, then, when Erdogan is celebrated as prime minister of all Turks living in Germany. Despite such events, well-integrated Turks are by far in the majority. Yet their desires cannot find an audience in Germany's political landscape. The integration debate reached the highest level of alarm long before Erdogan made an appearance in Dusseldorf.
© The Deutsche Welle

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BAD WEEKEND FOR EU-TURKEY RELATIONS

28/2/2011- Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused German society of "xenophobia" and the German government of "discrimination" ahead of a meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel. The remarks follow an unfriendly encounter with French President Sarkozy. Speaking to a group of ethnic Turks in Dusseldorf on Sunday (27 February) ahead of his meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel in Hannover on Monday, Mr Erdogan said: "We are observing the xenophobia in certain European countries, notably Germany, with great unease ... Islamophobia is a crime against humanity, just as anti-Semtism is." He urged German politicians not to feed the fear of foreigners, but also called on the 2.5 million ethnic Turks in Germany to try to fit in. "I want everybody to learn German and to get the best level of education they can ... I want Turkish people to be present at all levels in Germany, in the administration, in politics, in civil society," he added, the German press agency, DPA, reports.

A day on earlier on Saturday, in an interview with the regional daily, the Rheinische Post, the Turkish premier came close to accusing Ms Merkel's political party of racism. "The Turkish population is waiting for Germany to play its role as the motor of the EU in the case of Turkish accession negotiations, as it used to be the case with older CDU [Christian Democrat Union] governments," he said. "Obviously, developments in the accession process up till now give the impression of discrimination." Mr Erdogan's remarks come in the context of a worsening political climate for migrants in Germany. Last October, Ms Merkel said that multiculturalism had "utterly failed" and called on migrants to learn German. In September a top central bank official, Thilo Sarrazin, resigned after saying that Arabs and Turks were stupid and exploited the welfare state. Mr Erdogan's comments also come after an awkward visit by French leader Nicolas Sarkozy to Ankara on Friday.

Mr Sarkozy annoyed his hosts even before he spoke by opting to come in his role as G20 chairman instead of as the French head of state, by cutting the trip to just six hours and by chewing gum when he exited the plane to greet VIPs. He then told press at a meeting with Turkish President Abduallah Gul that Turkey would "destabilise" the EU if it joined. "We've got a point of disagreement which everybody knows about ... Let us speak like statesmen, that means in such a way that we try to understand the other side, to find a way forward which does not destabilise Europe or humiliate Turkish society," he said. "I think there exists a balanced option between [EU] membership and a [privileged] partnership, which Turkey has many times said it does not want."

Mr Gul said only that the EU should respect the promises it made when it started accession talks in 2005. Mr Erdogan said Mr Sarkozy's actions look like a provocation designed to encourage Turkey to quit the accession process. "We would have liked to welcome him as president of France ... I think this is not a visit at the level of friendship between Turkey and France. Turkey and Turkish-French ties deserve better than that," he said. For his part, the mayor of Ankara, Melih Gokcek, chewed gum in protest while seeing off the Frenchman at the airport. Mr Erdogan's meeting with Ms Merkel, as well as a planned trip to Brussels on Tuesday, were postponed because the Turkish leader flew back to Ankara for the funeral of former Turkish leader Erbakan Necmettin, who died on Sunday.
© The EUobserver

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EU HOPES TURKEY DEAL WILL KEEP OUT AFRICAN MIGRANTS

26/2/2011- EU interior ministers on Thursday (24 February) gave the green light to a readmission agreement with Turkey which they hope may help stem irregular migration into the EU from the Middle East and Africa. Visa-free travel, despite calls from Ankara, remains a distant prospect. "Some 80,000 illegal migrants come through the Greek-Turkish border every year. If we adopt this agreement speedily, we can reduce some of the pressure there," Hungarian interior minister Sandor Pinter, who chaired the EU meeting, said during a press conference on Thursday evening. At the end of October 2010, the EU's Warsaw-based Frontex border agency sent some 200 border guards equipped with cars and helicopters to the land border between Greece and Turkey where hundreds of irregular migrants cross each day day. The influx has since halved and the EU mission will be scaled down to some 80 guards from next week on. Under the readmission agreement, which had been stuck in Ankara-Brussels talks since 2002, Turkey will be obliged to take back its citizens or other nationals who come into the EU via Turkey without proper visas or asylum claims. In the last few years, Ankara has signed a series of visa-free agreements with north African and middle Eastern countries. Direct flights to Istanbul "[are] making it really easy" for people to come to the Greek border and chance their luck, Frontex chief Ilka Leitinen said at an earlier event on Wednesday in Brussels. He added that Libya has become a special focus for his the agency.

Interior ministers on Thursday discussed several possible scenarios of massive numbers of refugees heading for Europe. EU home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said Turkey is "an important transit country" for migrants and welcomed the political deal on the readmission agreement. The agreement still needs to be approved and implemented by Turkey and the European Parliament. Ankara's hope of a speedy visa-free regime with the EU is likely to be disappointed, however. Ms Malmstrom said a "visa dialogue" will be launched, but it will focus mainly on legislative adjustments in Turkey, on "systematic use of multiple entry visas for business people and students" and improving EU consular facilities in the country. Despite this, Turkey's chief EU negotiator, Egemen Bagis, said on Thursday the readmission pact is a step on the path to visa-free. "Once the commission has that mandate we will sign the readmission agreement and then we anticipate visa facilitations and by the time that we complete [EU accession] negotiatons we would expect visa liberalisation," he told AFP. He said Turkey should be able to come to EU summits and called "not correct and ridiculous" that Turks have to apply for visas while people from Belize, Uruguay and Paraguay can enter the EU as they like. Regarding the readmission agreement, Mr Bagis saito tackle the illegal flow of migrants to Europe had been finalized, but it remained contingent on European Commission's securing a mandate to liberalize the visa regime.

Turkey started EU accession talks in 2005 but did not get very far due to its frozen conflict with EU member Cyprus and broader French and German antipathy towards Turkish enlargement. French President Nicolas Sarkozy is on Friday to make his first trip to Ankara since he came to office in 2007. He said that the flying visit of just four hours is to be made in his capacity as chairman of the G20 industrialised nations' club not as head of state of France. "I think this is not a visit at the level of the friendship between Turkey and France. Turkish-French ties deserve better than that," Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan commented. According to Turkish sources quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Turkish leaders plan to tell Mr Sarkozy that the EU has been "absent" during the current turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa. An EU troubleshooter in the Russia-Georgia war in 2008, Mr Sarkozy has been hardly visible on Tunisia and Egypt despite his country's strong colonial ties to the region.
© The EUobserver

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JUSSI HALLA-AHO PUTS OTHER PANEL MEMBERS ON DEFENSIVE IN IMMIGRATION DEBATE (Finland)

28/2/2011- Silence descends over Lecture Hall 2 in the Porthania building of the University of Helsinki. Then True Finns candidate Jussi Halla-aho opens his mouth.
“There has been debate about the wrong kind of immigration debate”, says this Helsinki city council member and Parliamentary candidate. Nothing very strange is coming out of his mouth this time, but the mere presence of Halla-aho electrifies the atmosphere and eliminates the murmurs that had been floating around the nearly full auditorium. It is early in the evening on Tuesday. The aim is to discuss immigration in the debate organised by the National Coalition Party. Behind the table in front of the old-fashioned chalkboard Nasima Razmyar (SDP), Sanna Vesikansa (Green), and Fatbardhe Hetemaj (Nat. Coalition Party) are grouped very close to each other. There is a clear effort to establish distance from Halla-aho, who is sitting on the edge of the podium. Halla-aho himself appears to be taking some distance with his gestures - twirling a pen in his hand, while looking occasionally at the wall at the back of the room.

The debate mainly revolves around immigration for humanitarian purposes. Nobody actually opposes the statement issued by Parliament’s Administration Committee calling for tighter rules on family unification. The deliberately calm-sounding comments from Halla-aho set the tone for the entire event. “Finland can be a Finnish social welfare office. Finland cannot be a global welfare office.” There are occasional gasps of disbelief from among the crowd, but there is occasional scattered applause as well. At no point do the panel members express real anger over one another's views. Razmyar is worried that immigrant youth might accept the notion that they can only get work as cleaners or bus drivers. Vesikansa takes up child daycare as a way to bring the children of immigrants more tightly into Finnish society.

When the topic turns to multiculturalism, Hetemaj emphasises her right to be a Kosovo Albanian even here in Finland. She amends the old "When in Rome..." adage to suggest that "doing as the Finns do" is of less significance than adhering to the laws of the land. Halla-aho turns to housing policy: “An immigrant getting public assistance should not necessarily have the right to choose where to live.” He continues to sit separately from the others.
© The Helsingin Sanomat

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RACISM AND XENOPHOBIA UPDATE FOR FEBRUARY 2011 (Russia)

2/3/2011- In February 2011, at least 3 people were injured and 3 killed in attacks by neo-Nazis in Russia. The incidents of violence were recorded in Moscow (1 dead), St. Petersburg (3 wounded, 1 dead), and Astrakhan (1 dead). According to data available to SOVA, at least 17 people were injured and 8 killed so far this year. In February we recorded at least 3 acts of vandalism motivated by hatred or neo-Nazi sentiment. Muslim graves were defaced in Nizhny Novgorod, as were a pagan temple in Arkhangelsk and a statue of Lenin in Voronezh. This brings the year-to-date total of incidences of xenophobic vandalism to 10.

At least 4 sentences were delivered for violent crimes motivated by hatred, in Moscow, in the Republic of Karelia and in Kemerovo Region. In these trials, seven people were convicted in total, six of whom were given varying terms in a penal colony while the other received a suspended sentence. The most important was the conviction of Nazi skinheads Artur Ryno and Pavel Skachevsky for a racist murder committed in April 2007. February saw the conclusion of 3 trials for violent crimes, in which however it was unclear whether a hate motive was involved. These trials ended with sentences for the murder of a homeless man in Obninsk (in the Kaluga region), the assault of a Kyrgyz national in Samara, and the beating of an Azeri during an attack on a group of immigrants in Irkutsk. There was also the conviction of a neo-Nazi for the September 2009 shooting of a group of FSB agents.

These cases bring the year-to-date total of convictions considering the hate motive to 6, issued to a total of 9 people. At least 4 convictions were given for xenophobic propaganda. The processes took place in the Republic of Kalmykia, Smolensk, and the Arkhangelsk and Orenburg regions, and a total of 5 people were sentenced: two were given suspended sentences, one (the distributor of racist pamphlets in Kalmykia) was given a two-year sentence to be served in a penal colony, and two were given probation for one year. All things considered, the year-to-date total for such decisions is 9 sentences, concerning a total of 14 people.

The Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated five times: on February 4, 9, 11, 17, and 24; paragraphs 764-783 were added. New entries to the list include xenophobic articles from regional newspapers, brochures by P. Khomyakov and A. Ignatiev, the film "Russia With a Knife in the Back 2", a book by Heinrich Himmler, Muslim books and newspapers, material from a blog, and xenophobic leaflets posted to the website “Ichkeria-info.” The Federal List of Extremist Organizations was updated twice in February; it now includes the groups Slavic Union and Format-18. As a result, the list published on the official website of the Ministry of Justice includes twenty entries. For some reason, organizations identified as terrorist are not included.
© SOVA Center for Information and Analysis

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BITS FROM RUSSIA

Bigotry Monitor 4/3/2011

RACIST MARCH IN VOLGOGRAD.
On February 23 in Volgograd, about 200 far-right nationalists marched, shouting racist slogans, according to a February 25 report by the Sova Information-Analytical Center. The marchers included members of the Movement Against Illegal Immigration, which the government recently classified as an extremist group after years of tolerating its activities. Joining them were members of the Union of the Russian People, a group named for the pre-1917 group responsible for massive pogroms against Jews. The slogans included "Russia for Russians!"; "Slavs are united, we are invincible"; and "No lezginka [a dance popular in the Caucasus] on Russian land."

POLICEMAN CHARGED WITH SHAKEDOWN OF MIGRANT.
A policeman in the Moscow Region city of Domodedovo was charged with a violent shakedown of an Uzbek migrant, according to a February 25 report by Newsru.com. Senior Lieutenant Sergey Gerasin, 23, allegedly stopped the car of a 32 year old Uzbek citizen on August 19, 2010. Asking for his documents, the officer allegedly pulled the man out of his car and "struck him multiple times with his fists and feet in several parts of the man's body and head." According to a police report, "wanting to continue the beating, he [Officer Gerasin] forcibly took the victim to his office, where he beat him for another three hours, putting the Uzbek citizen in the hospital. Gerasin faces charges of "exceeding his official powers while using violence"--the closest the Criminal Code comes to a ban on torture.

NEO-NAZIS GET SHOCKINGLY LENIENT SENTENCES FOR MURDER.
Neo-Nazis in Samara were found guilty of murdering a Kyrgyz but sentenced only to three years in prison, according to a February 21 report by the Kyrgyzstan-based news web site 24.kg. The defendants allegedly participated in other racist attacks, but those were apparently not part of the shockingly lenient verdict. A Kaluga court sentenced three neo-Nazis to five years in prison for beating a homeless man to death, according to a February 24 report by the Regnum news agency. The court found the defendants guilty of the February 24, 2007 murder in Obninsk (Kaluga Region), for which they were arrested after a three year investigation.
© UCSJ

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WILL LABOUR MIGRANTS SAVE RUSSIA'S ECONOMY?

27/2/2011- Acknowledging the seriousness of its demographic problems, Russia has decided to spend more than 1.5 trillion roubles ($52bn; £32bn) over the next four years to try and solve at least some of them. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said earlier this month that his government's aim for the next few years was to stabilise Russia's population at the level of 143 million people. He wants to increase both life expectancy and the birth rate, and plans to implement a competent migration policy, although he did not specify what exactly the 1.5tn roubles would be spent on. The government's move is a "reply in absentia" to a Standard & Poor's report which said that Russia's population could decline to 116 million by 2050 from 140 million in 2010 without further government reforms. "We forecast a rise in debt levels to 585% of GDP by 2050, due to the associated increase in general government deficits," states the report, published earlier this month. "In our view, Russia's ageing population will likely place substantial pressure on economic growth performance and public finances." Experts agree that labour migration should be one of the main means of solving demographic problems in Russia. But, as anywhere in the world, labour migration alone cannot be the answer, says Dmitry Valentey, project development and liaison coordinator at the Russian office of the International Organization for Migration.

Global average
According to Russian official statistics, more than two million work permits were issued to foreigners in 2009. The figure for the first nine months of 2010 stood at less than one million permits, or 59% of the government's annual quota. But Elena Tyuryukanova, director of the Centre for Migration Studies, estimates that in reality there could be up to 5 million labour migrants working in Russia now. She says that for labour migration alone to offset Russia's population decline, net annual inflow of migrants workers should reach some 1 million. "It is impossible, not least because there is nowhere you could find so many labour migrants [willing to go to Russia]," says Ms Tyuryukanova. Besides, she believes, the Russian society is not ready for a rapid influx of migrants, even if it is required for economic reasons. Migrants currently represent about 3-5% of the country's workforce. This is broadly in line with the global average, but less than in some European countries, such as Germany, Belgium and the UK.

Face of migration
Many of Russia's migrant workers are low-skilled and arrive from neighbouring states in the former USSR. Before the crisis, over 40% of them were employed in the construction industry. The sector was badly hit by the downturn and only recently has it slowly started coming back to life. This could explain the sharp drop in the number of work permits issued last year. But the Russian government has made some steps towards changing the face of the country's labour migration.

"In 2010, significant changes in migration legislation were introduced, namely, easing procedures for highly-skilled professionals and introducing a special type of work permit for labour migrants from visa-free countries to work in households," says Mr Valentey. "At present, these categories of workers are exempt from the quota system." Regulations were also eased to attract specialists to huge construction and regeneration projects, such as the 2012 Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) summit in Russia's Far East or the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Public opinion
Of all labour migrants coming to Russia, only about a quarter of them remain permanently in the country. Also, most of Russia's migrant workers send money home, and as a result, only 10% of them bring their families with them, says Ms Tyuryukanova. "[Working and living] conditions are tough for many labour migrants in Russia," she adds. Mr Valentey believes that lessons learnt from multiculturalism policies in Germany, France and other European countries could now provide a good starting point for Russia in terms of developing its own effective migrant integration policy. "At the same time, Russia has its own rich history of building Russian and Soviet state identity, and some of the best practices can undoubtedly be utilised," he says. But despite a very low level of competition between locals and migrant workers, Russian public opinion does not really favour labour migration. With the country entering a long election period, the government will be unwilling to change its migration policy dramatically. But Ms Tyuryukanova believes that things will have to change. "The realities of life will make the government pay much more attention to the question of labour migration," she says.
© BBC News

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RAMPANT BIAS IN RUSSIA TOWARD PEOPLE FROM CAUCASUS

27/2/2011- At 15, Israil Mirzakhanov was at a crossroads: He could stay home in the Caucasus region, where several of his friends already had been taken from their homes and had turned up dead in the street. Or he could take his chances with the rampant discrimination in Moscow. Four years later, now a tall and fit-looking college student, he becomes something of a pariah when he steps out on the snowy streets of the capital. He tries not to look people in the eyes because he knows what he'll see. Fear. Anger. At best, indifference. When he takes a seat on a metro train, someone sitting next to him might move to the other end of the car. Recently, in the wake of another bombing immediately blamed on extremists from the Caucasus, Mirzakhanov faced more of the same. Emerging with four friends from a police booth at a metro station Tuesday, he said he felt fortunate to be detained for only half an hour.

For more than a decade, Russian officials have emphasized tough tactics against Islamic militants and separatists in the patchwork of republics along the north rim of the Caucasus. Critics say the approach followed by President Dmitry Medvedev and particularly his political mentor, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, has only driven more people into the arms of the insurgents. At the same time, they say, violence in the Caucasus and retaliatory terrorist attacks in the Russian heartland have hardened attitudes toward people from the Caucasus, and the Kremlin has shown little inclination to counter the discrimination. "I am a foreigner here in my own land," Mirzakhanov said. "They will never accept me as an ordinary Russian because my hair and eyes are dark." A week earlier, he said, he was held for six hours at a central Moscow police station. "When I asked what my problem was, a policeman yelled at me: 'Look at your face and you will see your problem.' "

Mirzakhanov is a Russian citizen, but comes from a town in the republic of Dagestan on the border with Chechnya. Back there in Khasavyurt, six friends ranging in age from 13 to 17 already are dead, he said. Most of them were accused of being members of an underground movement, arrested by uniformed men and later found dead. He said there have been recent reports from his hometown about two shops and a cafe that had been bombed. Facing those prospects, his parents sent their only son to live with a cousin in Moscow, where four years later he is taking college courses in management. In many ways, his is a common story; as difficult as life is in Moscow, strong family ties help. And as bleak as job prospects are in the capital, they are better than those back home. Many Russians, though, often regard people from the Caucasus as potential terrorists or common criminals. Chechen organized crime groups are among the most feared. "If you open any popular Moscow daily and look at its crime section, or watch a crime program on a federal television channel, you will gather that an overwhelming majority of crimes are committed by members of the Caucasus diasporas," said Alexander Aratov, publisher of the nationalist Russkaya Pravda newspaper. "If these people from the Caucasus come here to stay, they must behave properly, or go home."

Roving gangs of young Russian nationalists target people from the Caucasus and Central Asia, beating, robbing and sometimes killing them. Mirzakhanov has some tips for coping. Don't go out alone, try not to carry bags or suitcases, don't stay too long in one place and don't visit the suburbs where skinhead gangs tend to congregate, especially at night. Don't argue with police officers and make sure your documents are in order. Narine Tumanova, a bank manager of Armenian descent, said she understands that terrorist attacks make Muscovites nervous, but she thinks their fears are simplistic and based on "daily brainwashing." "Terrorism doesn't have a nationality because it is a political phenomenon, and that should be carefully explained to people before this growing xenophobia gets out of control," she said.
© The San Francisco Chronicle

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NICK CLEGG SETS OUT VISION OF MULTICULTURALISM (uk)

Deputy PM Nick Clegg has set out his vision of what multiculturalism means in a speech in Luton.

3/3/2011- He backed David Cameron over the need to end "segregation" of communities. But, in contrast to the prime minister, Mr Clegg stressed in his speech the importance of multiculturalism to "an open, confident, society". Mr Cameron grabbed headlines around the world with his call last month for an end to "state multiculturalism". In a speech in Luton, Mr Clegg said the prime minister was "absolutely right to make his argument for 'muscular liberalism'", and "to assert confidently our liberal values". But he also attempted to strike a different tone to the prime minister on the issue of multiculturalism. He said: "Where multiculturalism is held to mean more segregation, other communities leading parallel lives, it is clearly wrong. For me, multiculturalism has to seen as a process by which people respect and communicate with each other, rather than build walls between each other. "Welcoming diversity but resisting division: that's the kind of multiculturalism of an open, confident society. "And the cultures in a multicultural society are not just ethnic or religious. "Many of the cultural issues of the day cut right across these boundaries: gay rights; the role of women; identities across national borders; differing attitudes to marriage; the list goes on."

'Living in silos'
Downing Street said Mr Cameron stood by his speech last month, in which he said "state multiculturalism has failed", but the prime minister's official spokesman said it was a "complicated issue" and an "important debate". He said Mr Clegg had shown his speech to Mr Cameron ahead of his visit to Luton. Mr Clegg said that, as leaders of different political parties, "we come at some of these issues from different directions". But he added: "We completely agree that if multiculturalism means communities living in silos - separately from each other, never communicating, with no shared sense of belonging then we are both completely against it. That is utterly, utterly wrong. "But if your understanding of multiculturalism, the meaning of that word, is actually quite the reverse, that it is a means by which we can communicate with each other, seek to reach understanding of each other, share a similar set of values... that's the antithesis of the cardboard cut-out definition of multiculturalism. "It's that move towards integration." He said he deliberately chose to make his speech in Luton, which has been associated with both the Islamist al Muhajiroun group and the English Defence League, which campaigns against radical Islam. But the Liberal Democrat leader said the Bedfordshire town was also the home of some of the "most vibrant" campaigns against racism, extremism, and Islamophobia.

He acknowledged that the current economic situation could tip some people who were currently ambivalent about such issues into more extreme views. But he attacked past approaches to tackling violent extremism, which he claimed had an "exclusive and unhelpful focus on Islam", arguing intolerance of all kinds should be challenged by "muscular liberals". "By treating Muslim communities and organisations as homogenous lumps to be variously hectored, preached at, showered with praise and money, or ignored, the previous government created negative perceptions among British Muslims and non-Muslims alike. "We should ensure that public funds do not support any organisations promoting violence. We must engage with religious organisations in a smart way focusing our attention on those that support our essential liberal values. "We will also challenge extremism across the board, ending the previous government's exclusive and unhelpful focus on Islam. It does not matter if you are a far-right extremist, someone who perverts a religious faith, or someone who uses violence in support of other ideological ends - we will challenge you, take you on and defeat you." Mr Clegg said the government would shortly announce the outcome of its review of the previous government's Prevent programme, which was meant to combat violent extremism. He said Prevent had "wasted a lot of money" and "stigmatised" Muslim communities and "made them feel like they were under suspicion".

Analysis
By Ben Wright Political correspondent, BBC News

A month on from the prime minister's assertion that "state multiculturalism" had failed, his deputy's speech revealed Nick Clegg's thinking on how to tackle violent extremism and create community cohesion. In many ways Mr Clegg echoed David Cameron. "Muscular liberalism", he said, was the best way to tackle the root causes of extremism. Arguments need to be won and not ducked. But there were tonal differences. Cameron said "state multiculturalism" had failed and led to communities living in isolation, but Clegg offered a definition of multiculturalism which "welcomed diversity but resisted division" and was the mark of an open, confident society. There were other differences, including a greater focus on the violent extremism of the far right. Clegg warned that tough economic times made the threat of extremism greater and also said that banning extremist groups should be the last resort. As the government reviews its strategy for preventing extremism, this speech is another guide to where its thinking is going.
© BBC News

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WEB GIANT FACEBOOK AXES SICKENING HATE SITE THAT SHOWS CELTIC BOSS NEIL LENNON COVERED IN BLOOD (uk)

27/2/2011- Facebook has shut down a vile page that showed Neil Lennon riddled with bullets and branded him a "dead man walking". The gruesome, mocked-up image of the Celtic boss sparked furious complaints to the social network giant. And Labour last night said the hateful attack on Lennon proved that tougher controls were needed to curb "hate crimes" on the internet. The sick page, titled "Bet I can get one million people to hate Neil Lennon", featured a doctored photo of the Parkhead manager in his playing days - with around 40 fake bullet wounds on his head and body and "dead man walking". written on his shirt. Lennon and two of his Northern Irish players, Paddy McCourt and Niall McGinn, were sent bullets through the post last month. Loyalist bigots in Ulster were blamed.

Facebook began an inquiry last week after a complaint about the page. But at first, they allowed the site to stay active if the offending photos were removed. Bosses said the site was not in breach of Facebook's rules because Lennon is a public figure. At the time, their spokesman said: "We want Facebook to be a place where people can express their views. "Just as in the offline world, this means we sometimes come across views different to our own." The photos were taken off the page, but they 'Abusive comments on these sites should be treated just like any hate crime're-appeared later last week. And last night, Facebook confirmed: "The page has been removed from the site. "We encourage people to use Facebook's reporting tools when they encounter offensive content. "If it breaches our terms, it will be removed once reported to us."

Labour justice spokesman Richard Baker MSP said: "The level of abuse being posted each day on these sites is simply not acceptable. "We really need to legislate to bring this type of conduct under the criminal law. "Abusive comments on social networking sites should be treated like any other hate crime." Last night, Lennon told the Sunday Mail that the honour of being Celtic boss made it worth putting up with death threats. He said: "These are things outwith my control. I can only take advice from the security people. "It's worth it, there's no doubt about it. It's not tough, not at all. The only time it's tough is when you're a goal down at Ibrox after three minutes. "The dugout is a good place to be, it's the thing I love doing. It's important for the players to know I'm fully focused on them."
© The Daily Record

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'THE NATION MUST NOT BE MADE INTO A GOD' (uk)

1/3/2011- Wales must find a way to protect its identity without retreating into narrow nationalism, Archbishop Barry Morgan will urge today in his St David’s Day address. The Church in Wales leader will set out a vision of how to celebrate Welshness without succumbing to xenophobia and adopting a “hostile and aggressive” attitude towards outsiders. Dr Morgan will make his case for an inclusive future for Wales in a sermon tonight at the chapel of the University of Wales Trinity St David in Lampeter. His comments come just two days ahead of Thursday’s referendum on full law-making powers for the Assembly but Dr Morgan – a champion of more devolution – will steer clear of party politics. He will give only the briefest of nods to the poll when he will say: “Our sense of national identity and nationhood and heritage is a gift of God in which we should rejoice and that, for Wales, might involve further self determination.” His chief concern in the sermon is that the country should guard against extreme nationalism and stress that the people of Wales do not belong to an “exclusive club”. “The challenge we face, as a nation, is keeping our identity and rejoicing in it without at the same time becoming narrowly nationalistic, xenophobic even, exclusive. How can we preserve our identity, be that as a family unit or a nation, to stop us being overwhelmed and engulfed by strangers and losing a sense of who we are and yet not allow that protection to become destructive?”

Setting out a different kind of nationhood that Wales can embrace in the 21st century, he will argue: “We must never forget that we belong to one common humanity and one undivided human family. We must not have a narrow view of nationhood and national identity, limited to particular people and excluding others. “The nation must not be made into a God. The Gospel of Jesus warns us of the danger of trying to establish an exclusive club and challenges us to reject the drive that can make us as individuals, as families, as nations exclude others.” Menna Machreth, a prominent campaigner Cymdeithas yr Iaith, welcomed the Archbishop’s spiritual vision of healthy nationhood. She said: “On St David’s Day, it’s very helpful to be reminded by the Archbishop that God created every nation and culture and this wonderful diversity of people and cultures was His plan for the world, not the uniformity and hegemony of some cultures over others. “I recently attended a Christian conference in South Africa to talk about being a language activist from a Christian perspective. In South Africa’s past, identity was based on biology not on a shared culture. “In Wales we can rejoice that any one can choose to be a Welsh man or woman, the culture and nation is open to all.”

Plaid Cymru South West Wales AM Dai Lloyd was convinced that a welcoming and confident form of nationalism had taken root in Wales. He said: “It’s about rejoicing in our differences and promoting our language and culture in a positive sense. “With devolution and the Assembly, there’s been a flowering of Welsh national identity. People are proud now to count themselves as Welsh.” Yet years of a negative view of Welshness and doubts that self-government was possible had contributed to poor self-esteem and held back the economy. He said: “If people are always told you’re never going to be good enough... that you’re never going to be clever enough to look after your own affairs... people wonder why then it’s so difficult for us as a nation to take off when we are faced with a barrage of negativity.” Conservative Aberconwy AM Guto Bebb feared that if Welsh-speaking communities died out in the near future the nation would lose one of its most distinctive features. Despite the rise of bilingualism in public bodies, Mr Bebb was downbeat about the future of the language in traditional heartlands because of the scale of economic challenge in many communities. He said: “People can talk about civic society and recognising Welshness until cows come home but until [there are] solid economic foundations for these areas where the Welsh language is a community language you are fiddling while Rome burns.” Labour Mid & West Wales AM Alun Davies was encouraged that the country has a growing profile on the international stage, and is delighted when the Empire State building in New York is lit in the colours of the Welsh flag on St David’s Day. He said: “It’s a good time at the moment... In terms of identity we have got reason to be very positive.”
© Wales Online

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ANTI-GAY CHRISTIAN COUPLE LOSE FOSTER CARE CASE (uk)

Court rules against Christian couple who claimed their beliefs on homosexuality should not prevent them becoming foster carers

28/2/2011- A Pentecostal Christian couple have lost their high court claim that they were discriminated against by a local authority because they insisted on their right to tell young foster children that homosexuality is morally wrong. Eunice and Owen Johns, who are in their sixties and have fostered children in the past, claimed they were being discriminated against by Derby city council because of their Christian beliefs, after they told a social worker they could not tell a child a "homosexual lifestyle" was acceptable. The couple had hoped to foster five- to 10-year-olds. The case was the latest to be brought by conservative evangelicals, led by the Christian Legal Centre, over their supporters' right to discriminate specifically against gay people and not be bound by equality regulations. All the cases have so far been lost. In a sharply worded judgment, Lord Justice Munby and Justice Beatson dismissed the couple's lawyer's claims as "a travesty of reality". "No one is asserting that Christians (or, for that matter, Jews or Muslims) are not 'fit and proper' persons to foster or adopt. No one is seeking to de-legitimise Christianity or any other faith or belief. On the contrary, it is fundamental to our law and our way of life that everyone is equal before the law and equal as a human being ... entitled to dignity and respect. We are, however, entitled to take judicial notice of the fact that, whereas the sharia is still understood in many places as making homosexuality a capital offence, ... the Church of England permits its clergy, so long as they remain celibate, to enter into civil partnerships. We live in this country in a democratic and pluralistic society, in a secular state not a theocracy."

Outside the court, Eunice Johns said: "We are extremely distressed at what the judges have ruled. All we wanted was to offer a loving home to a child in need, but because we are Christians with mainstream Christian views on sexual ethics, we are apparently unsuitable. "We are prepared to love and accept any child. All we were not willing to do was to tell a small child that the practice of homosexuality was a good thing. We feel excluded and that there is no place for us in society." The CLC's lawyer, Andrea Minichiello Williams, said: "How can judges get away with this? The law has been increasingly interpreted by judges in a way which favours homosexual rights over freedom of conscience. Britain is now leading Europe in intolerance to religious belief." The judges in their ruling said they were not ruling against beliefs but against the discriminatory effects of those beliefs and that one set of beliefs could not take precedence in a pluralist society. Derby city council said it had never taken a view on the Johns' application, adding: "It would be inappropriate for the council to approve foster carers who cannot meet minimum standards. It would be difficult and impractical to match children with Mr and Mrs Johns if they feel that strongly." Ben Summerskill, chief executive of the gay rights' charity Stonewall, said: "In any fostering case the interests of the 60,000 children in care should override the bias of any prospective parent. If you wish to be involved in the delivery of a public service you should be prepared to provide it fairly to anyone."
© The Guardian

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INSECURITY IS FUEL FOR THE FAR RIGHT'S HATE (uk, opinion)

Britain has resisted the far right but studies suggest cuts will harden attitudes. All parties need to rethink 
By David Miliband, the former foreign secretary.


28/2/2011- A century of democratic politics teaches that economics and identity are the two most compelling calls to action. Their interplay can produce a dangerous brew. As Britain contemplates a parliament of austerity, we need to understand what makes for the politics of division, and fight it. Compared to some other European countries, we in the UK can consider ourselves relatively lucky in our experience of extremist politics. There have been hard-fought battles. But serious extremist parties have not got a grip. However, research published today on behalf of the Searchlight Educational Trust shows how people can become lured towards more aggressive forms of identity politics. It shows we can't complacently assume we are exceptional in the European context. We are not. Searchlight has been at the forefront of beating back the National Front and the BNP since the 1970s. But if the emotional extremism of the far right we have so far seen blends into something more calculating and more credible, then this run of marginalised extremism may become more difficult to sustain. Groups like the BNP, the English Defence League and Islam4UK are only ever likely to appeal to a small minority: their violent rhetoric, aggression and warped politics provide the source of their downfall. But we should not understate their impact locally in creating a climate of division, fear and hatred. We have seen this in Leicester, Bradford, Barking and Dagenham, and Luton; areas where the pride and security of the industrial age has been replaced by a casualised economics of the rapidly shifting global age, and which have had high levels of immigration.

That is why we need to build the resilience of local communities to reject the politics of hatred. A common life forged between different cultures with the same anxieties, hopes and pride is the most effective backstop against extremism. We need a demanding pluralism with a common core of shared values. And what's more, people believe that such local community building is an effective bulwark against discord. The Searchlight research has broken down attitudes to race, identity, immigration and nation into six groups. On the left are "confident multiculturals" and "mainstream liberals", comprising 24% of the population. On the far right sit "latent hostiles" and "active enmity" (totalling 23%), who share antagonistic attitudes to others and differ only in the degree of their antipathy and tolerance of extremism. The centre of British politics are the "identity ambivalents" and "cultural integrationists". Cultural integrationists accept diversity as long as there is an integrated national culture, the rule of law, and respect for authority. This is the group to which David Cameron's call for a "muscular liberalism" is targeted. They are a quarter of the population. But the real swing voters are identity ambivalents (28%): economically insecure, worried about their local community, feeling threatened but open-minded and accepting of diversity – as long as their security is not threatened. So they feel more wage and job pressure from immigration, are anxious about their family's financial future, but are, for example, much less likely to think "Muslims create problems in the UK" than cultural integrationists.

Labour's vote is more weighted towards this group than any other. More black and ethnic minority voters are to be found here, and almost half of people who don't identify with a party are also identity ambivalent. And this is why the economics of austerity and fiscal consolidation is so dangerous. A long period of low wages, casualisation of work, unemployment, higher prices, fiscal cuts (many are receiving tax credits), and VAT and fuel duty increases will refract into greater identity anxiety. Cameron's "muscular liberalism" has little to offer in giving identity ambivalents the greater sense of security they crave. The risk is that significant numbers in this group leapfrog to latent hostility or active enmity. If Conservative rhetoric and coalition economics are an insufficient response, then what of Labour? This group is vital territory for Labour. Identity and economics are bound tightly together. A convincing economic response is necessary but not sufficient. An authentic sense of identity is just as important. Labour's politics must be suffused with both cultural understanding and meaning and a pragmatic economic mission. Otherwise, the as yet unformed and unidentified party of English or British nationalism could begin to fill the space. The political mainstream needs more convincing responses – and fast.
© Comment is free - Guardian

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SEARCHLIGHT POLL FINDS HUGE SUPPORT FOR FAR RIGHT 'IF THEY GAVE UP VIOLENCE' (uk)

Level of far-right support could outstrip that in France or Holland, says poll for Searchlight

26/2/2011- Huge numbers of Britons would support an anti-immigration English nationalist party if it was not associated with violence and fascist imagery, according to the largest survey into identity and extremism conducted in the UK. A Populus poll found that 48% of the population would consider supporting a new anti-immigration party committed to challenging Islamist extremism, and would support policies to make it statutory for all public buildings to fly the flag of St George or the union flag. Anti-racism campaigners said the findings suggested Britain's mainstream parties were losing touch with public opinion on issues of identity and race. The poll suggests that the level of backing for a far-right party could equal or even outstrip that in countries such as France, the Netherlands and Austria. France's National Front party hopes to secure 20% in the first round of the presidential vote next year. The Dutch anti-Islam party led by Geert Wilders attracted 15.5% of the vote in last year's parliamentary elections. Anti-fascist groups said the poll's findings challenged the belief that Britons were more tolerant than other Europeans. "This is not because British people are more moderate, but simply because their views have not found a political articulation," said a report by the Searchlight Educational Trust, the anti-fascist charity that commissioned the poll.

According to the survey, 39% of Asian Britons, 34% of white Britons and 21% of black Britons wanted all immigration into the UK to be stopped permanently, or at least until the economy improved. And 43% of Asian Britons, 63% of white Britons and 17% of black Britons agreed with the statement that "immigration into Britain has been a bad thing for the country". Just over half of respondents – 52% – agreed with the proposition that "Muslims create problems in the UK". Jon Cruddas, the Labour MP who fought a successful campaign against the British National party in his Dagenham and Rainham constituency in east London, said that the findings pointed to a "very real threat of a new potent political constituency built around an assertive English nationalism". The report identified a resurgence of English identity, with 39% preferring to call themselves English rather than British. Just 5% labelled themselves European. Earlier this month David Cameron delivered a controversial speech on the failings of "state multiculturalism". The speech was seized on by the anti-Islamic English Defence League, which said that the prime minister was "coming round" to its way of thinking. BNP leader Nick Griffin also welcomed the speech as a sign that his party's ideas were entering "the political mainstream". The poll also identified a majority keen to be allowed to openly criticise religion, with 60% believing they "should be allowed to say whatever they believe about religion". By contrast, fewer than half – 42% – said "people should be allowed to say whatever they believe about race".
© The Guardian

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ITALY ARRESTS MOROCCANS FOR INCITING HATRED OF POPE

26/2/2011- Six Moroccan men have been arrested in northern Italy on suspicion of seeking to incite hatred of Pope Benedict among Muslims. Police in the city of Brescia said the suspects had allegedly banded together to stir up religious hatred. A note was found calling for the Pope to be punished for converting a Muslim journalist to Roman Catholicism. According to another source, the suspects are not suspected of planning attacks. Five of the men, who are all Brescia residents, were placed under house arrest while the sixth was taken into custody. The note found by police urges Muslim immigrants not to integrate into Italian society, Italian media report. Police said the six were accused of "setting up a group that aimed to incite discrimination, racial and religious hatred, violence and jihad against Christians and Jews". The Pope was condemned for converting Egyptian-born Magdi Allam, a former columnist for Italian daily Corriere della Sera. Mr Allam, an outspoken critic of Muslim militancy and strong supporter of Israel, was baptised by the Pope in March 2008.
© BBC News

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FAR-RIGHT TIES HIT VOTES FOR DUTCH PARTY (Netherlands)

3/3/2011- The Dutch Christian Democrats discovered the price of their government alliance with the far-right on Thursday after losses in provincial elections confirmed their steady decline as an electoral force. The Christian Democrats (CDA), in government alongside the Liberals of prime minister Mark Rutte and the far-right Party of Freedom (PVV), saw their vote share slip to 14 per cent. Some voters protested against its controversial three-way alliance with the anti-Muslim party of Geert Wilders while others gave Mr Wilders their backing. The election is significant because the provincial councils will in May elect members of the Netherlands’ Senate, the upper house of parliament, which must approve all legislation. Based on the provincial results, the coalition parties will fall one short of a majority, with 37 of the Senate’s 75 seats, and have difficulty pushing through its agenda of spending cuts and immigration curbs. However, the setback was less serious for the coalition, than for the CDA, once considered the natural party of government after serving in every administration from 1918 to 1994. “Inside the party, there is total chaos on where to move,” said André Krouwel, a political scientist who runs Kieskompas, the polling organisation. Its leaders could not decide whether to move to the right to try to recapture cultural-issues voters, or to the left in the hope of distinguishing the party more clearly from the PVV, he explained. “They don’t have an ideology and they don’t have a direction, and when voters see a party that doesn’t know what it stands for, they don’t vote for them.”

Over the last year the Christian Democrats have seen their seats in both houses of parliament cut by nearly a half. The rise of the anti-immigrant PVV has cost the Christian Democrats in two respects, whereas the Liberals have suffered less from the alliance. In the general election, Mr Wilders’ PVV took away many of the CDA’s more rightwing voters. Then, when CDA leaders decided to join a PVV-backed coalition in October, they alienated many moderate supporters. In Wednesday’s poll they even lost their stronghold in the southern Catholic province of Limburg. The party’s presence in the Senate is likely to drop from 21 to 12, and it is now roughly tied with the PVV, behind the governing Liberals and the Labour opposition. The provincial elections, in which Mr Wilders’ party won only 12 per cent of the votes against 16 per cent in the general election, suggest the PVV’s electoral rise may have peaked. But with its older, religious voters dying out, the Christian Democrats are stuck in decline. The machinations over whether or not to co-operate with the PVV damaged the reputation of Maxime Verhagen, the party’s de facto leader. In Wednesday’s election, the Liberals took 21 per cent of the vote, and Labour and the Socialists won 18 and 11 per cent respectively. The neo-liberal D66 party took 8 per cent.
© The Financial Times

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NO CABINET MAJORITY, PVV BIGGEST WINNER AND BIGGEST LOSER (Netherlands)

3/3/2011- The anti-Islam PVV emerged as both the biggest winner and the biggest loser in Wednesday’s provincial elections. Geert Wilder’s party will debut in the senate with 10 seats and is now the biggest party in his home province of Limburg, but it lost the most support compared with the June general election and is now in fourth place nationwide. The provincial election results are widely seen as a referendum on Mark Rutte’s minority coalition between his conservative liberal VVD and the Christian Democrats and propped up by the PVV.

No majority
With nearly all the votes counted, the alliance is set to fall short of an overall majority in the senate by one seat, meaning it will be forced to rely on other parties to force through controversial legislation, such as education cuts. The exact make up of the 75-seat senate will not be finalised until May 23, when the provincial councils give their vote. However, it appears as if the VVD will be the biggest party with 16, the PvdA (Labour) on 14, CDA on 11 and PVV on 10. The liberal democrats D66 were also major gainers in the provincial vote and are set to have six seats in the senate, up from two.

Limburg
Commenting on the PVV results, Wilders said: ‘The Dutchman has once again taken the PVV to its heart… Henk and Ingrid’s party is here to stay… we will give Limburg back to the Limburgers, Friesland to the Frisians and the Netherlands to the Dutch.’ The PVV is now the biggest party in 16 of the country’s 400 plus electoral areas, including Venlo, Ridderkerk, Spijkenisse and Vlaardingen. Nevertheless, in The Hague and Almere, the only two areas where the party contested the local elections a year ago, the PVV has lost support. Compared with the June general election, support for the VVD, CDA and PvdA is more or less unchanged. But the PVV has gone down from 15.4% to 12.8%. If the provincial results translate to the senate as expected, the make up of the upper house would be as follows:
VVD 16 (14)
PvdA 14 (14)
CDA 11 (21)
PVV 10
SP 8 (12)
D66 6 (2)
Groenlinks 5 (4)
CU 2 (4)
SGP 1 (2)
PvdD 1 (1)
50PLUS 1
© The Dutch News

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BITS FROM THE NETHERLANDS

DUTCH BACK DOWN OVER POLISH IMMIGRANT SLUR
2/3/2011- “The Dutch government has apologised for suggestions about expelling unemployed Poles from the Netherlands,” Gazeta Wyborcza reports with satisfaction, referring to a statement by Dutch labour minister Henk Kamp, who in mid-February said that “homeless and unemployed immigrants from Eastern Europe should be sent home, and if they don’t want to go, they should be expelled”. It was clear that Mr Kamp meant Poles, who are by far the largest group among the estimated 160,000-200,000 economic migrants in the Netherlands. According to official figures, Poles account for 40 percent of residents in some homeless shelters. “More and more politicians have been resorting to populist slogans by claiming that Poles are flooding the Dutch labour market”, notes the Warsaw daily. The official reaction from Warsaw was quick and firm. According to Wyborcza, European minister Miko aj Dowgielewicz has been assured by Uri Rosenthal, Dutch foreign minister and adviser to prime minister Mark Rutte, that Mr Kemp’s words are “not official policy but the minister’s private initiative”. Polish intervention with EU Vice-President and Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding has been equally successful, as she reminded the Hague on 25 February that it was obliged to respect the Union’s principles of the free movement and equal rights for all member states. “Mr Kamp’s statement was apparently part of the campaign before local elections taking place in the Netherlands 2 March,” concludes Gazeta Wyborcza.
Presseurop

INTEGRATION IN THE NETHERLANDS GETTING WORSE
28/2/2011- The Netherlands is doing slightly worse as far as its integration policies are concerned, according to the Migrant Integration Policy Index MIPEX. The integration guide assesses the integration policies of countries in the European Union, Norway, Switzerland, Canada and the United States. The last edition of MIPEX for 2007 put the Netherlands in fourth place. The latest edition, which was presented on Monday, puts it fifth. The Dutch state scores high in some areas, such as the jobs market and political participation. However, as far as family reunions go, immigrants are said to have seen their position get worse over the last few years. Despite a number of changes in Dutch integration policy since 2007, still rates it as “reasonably favourable”, a more positive conclusion than that given most EU countries.

WILDERS BOOK: ISLAM IS IDEOLOGY
26/2/2011- Populist MP Geert Wilders is writing a book about the history of Islam that argues it is not a religion but an ideology. The book, which was to be published in the first half of 2011, is now due to appear in the second half of the year, Mr Wilders told news website NU.nl. The initiative for the book, Mr Wilders says, comes from the United States, where it will appear first, to be followed by a Dutch translation. Mr Wilders also revealed he is working on a continuation of his short anti-Islam film but he couldn't yet say when it would be completed. Regarding the unrest in the Arab world, the far-right politician claims that democracy will not take hold in the Maghreb and the Middle East unless people turn away from Islam. He warned that things could go either way and the future could see regimes that are even worse than those of ousted Presidents Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia or that of Libya's Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
© Radio Netherlands Worlwide

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