A 15-year-old youth who killed an Asian man in a racist attack has been given a life sentence. The judge at the Old Bailey ordered that Stephen Hansen, of Poplar, east London, should be detained at Her Majesty's pleasure and set the tariff at 13 years. Hanson, who is now 16, was convicted of murdering Shiblu Rahman. Judge Richard Hawkins said: "I am in no doubt that this was a racially motivated attack." Mr Rahman was stabbed and beaten outside his home in Bow, east London, in April. Terry Cooper, 18, from Bow, and Ian Devlin, 17, from Poplar, were convicted of the manslaughter of Mr Rahman and were ordered to be detained for nine years. The judge said Mr Rahman was attacked in the early hours when he was returning home from work.

Racial abuse
He went on: "He was a hard working member of the community and everyone liked him. His wife and children aged four years and five months, were at home. He was a loving husband and father." Lawyers for each defendant had denied the racial motive. After the case, Mr Rahman's brother-in-law Helal Uddin said: "None of this makes us happy but at least justice has been done." The family said it had been subjected to underlying racial abuse - mostly verbal - from local youths before the attack. Outside court, police officers said they were in no doubt that the attack on Mr Rahman, a Bangladeshi, was racially motivated. Detective Superintendent Peter Ship said: "They were drunk and nasty people in the area when they came upon a lone Asian man.

Ambulance inquiry
"The trigger point for this murder was that this man was Asian, in that it was a purely racial motive. "Mr Rahman was a hard-working family man. His last words 'why me, what have I done to you' say it all. This was an horrific crime." Judge Hawkins also backed demands by the family for an inquiry into why an ambulance had been delayed in attending the scene. He said: "That plainly was a serious matter." The family said medical evidence showed Mr Rahman might have survived if he had reached hospital earlier.
©BBC News

Some Scottish police officers are afraid to approach youths from ethnic minorities in case they are accused of being racist, according to new research. The study was commissioned by the Scottish Executive after anecdotal evidence suggested that black and ethnic minority youths were more likely than white youngsters to be stopped by police looking for drugs, weapons or stolen property. The research said there was no evidence that this was the case, although there were examples of poor practice by some individual officers. But it also discovered that some officers deliberately did not stop people from black and ethnic communities for fear of being labelled racist. The research disclosed that goods were statistically more likely to be found on people from ethnic communities. However, this reflected the fact that they were more likely to be searched on a statutory rather than a voluntary basis. The report, which is being considered by the Stephen Lawrence steering group, also identified a lack of understanding about the police's powers. It recommends that more work is done to improve relations between the police and young people from all communities.

Stolen property
The research was carried out between December last year and July, during which time almost 7,000 stop and searches were carried out. The findings were discussed at a meeting of the steering group, which is chaired by Justice Minister Jim Wallace. He said: "The police's power to stop and search people for weapons, drugs and stolen property is vital in reducing crimes which affect everyone in our communities. "However, there is a perception that minority ethnic groups have been unfairly targeted by the police for stop and search, and it was important to look into this so that we are better informed." He said he was pleased that there was no evidence that those from ethnic minority groups were being targeted by Scottish police. "I believe that minority ethnic groups will feel reassured by these findings and this will help increase their confidence in the police," said Mr Wallace. "It is a concern, however, that there is little real understanding of stop and search powers among members of the public which can lead to young people, both black and white, feeling harassed. "Equally, I am concerned about examples of poor practice by individual officers and am worried that some officers may be avoiding contact with people from black and ethnic minority communities for fear that they may be labelled 'racist'." He added that the group would consider suggestions to improve police procedures.
©BBC News

A new commission has vowed to stamp out racism and punish police officers found ignoring racially motivated crimes. The commission against racially motivated crimes was set up by Interior Minister Ivan Šimko and will monitor neo-Nazi activity in Slovakia. The commission will also propose legislative changes to assist criminal investigations of neo-Nazi supporters and activists, said head of the commission Peter Mikuš. "Racism and xenophobia are time bombs which can explode any moment. Slovakia is still in diapers regarding the level of public awareness and precautions taken to stop expressions of racism," said Ladislav Ïurkoviè, head of the non-governmental People against Racism. Ïurkoviè estimated Slovakia has 5,000 neo-Nazi supporters and six neo-Nazi music groups. In the last five years, police records have documented six racially motivated murders and 165 racially motivated crimes. International rights groups, as well as officials from the European Union, have criticised Slovakia in the past for its record on minorities and its treatment of the Roma. Investigators have documented violence against the Roma and pro-racist attitudes among police ranks. The commission's first session was held in the national police headquarters in Bratislava December 5 and was attended by minister Šimko as well as police corps vice-president Jaroslav Spišiak. Spišiak, who was named to the vice-presidency in October, said he would not tolerate apathy among police officers, and warned that any officer found not acting on evidence of racism or the promotion of neo-Nazism would face "radical measures".

The commission includes non-governmental racism activists such as People against Racism, Zebra, the Open Society Foundation and Citizen and Democracy; it also involves police officials from the chief investigator's office and regular police ranks, and two representatives from the monitoring centre for racially motivated crime. They will meet every two and a half months. For its next meeting, scheduled February 26, 2002, the commission has agreed to work on 15 tasks including analysing racial crimes and fascist activities, and scripting a long-term plan to fight neo-Nazi groups. Minister Šimko warned after the meeting that although neo-Nazi groups were not a mass phenomena in Slovakia yet, "if we don't start dealing with it now, neo-Nazism could become a terrifying reality."
©The Slovak Spectator

Racial discrimination may be easier to eradicate than was previously thought

In the bad old days of 19th-century eugenics, scientists who had supped at the table of social Darwinism would construct evolutionary trees that had twigs within the species Homo sapiens. Each twig was a racial group. The top twig was, of course, the white Caucasian onesince the scientists who did this work were themselves white Caucasians. Modern genetics has shown the error of their ways. Systematic genetic differences between people from different parts of the world, though they exist, are small compared with variations between people from the same place. The visible differences, such as skin colour, are the result of a mere handful of genes. Under the skin, humanity is remarkably homogenous. Racism, however, is ubiquitous. It is not only white Caucasians (whatever that term means, in the context of current knowledge) who are guilty of it. That has led to another biological hypothesis, that people are somehow "programmed" to recognise race and be racist. Robert Kurzban, John Tooby and Leda Cosmides, three evolutionary psychologists who work at the University of California, Santa Barbara, find this hypothesis unlikely. And this week they have published a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that supports an alternative hypothesis. That hypothesis is that racism is actually an unfortunate by-product of another phenomenona tendency to assign people to "coalition groups", and to use whatever cues are available, be they clothing, accent or skin colour, to slot individuals into such groups (or "stereotype" them, as modern usage might term it). The good news is that experiments done by the researchers suggest that such stereotypes are easily dissolved and replaced with others. Racism, in other words, can be eliminated.

You want to be in my gang?
For many years, psychologists have believed (and have found data to support) the idea that, when somebody encounters a stranger, the stranger's characteristics are slotted into three pigeon-holes: sex, age and race. These pigeon-holes are assumed to be long-established, biologically programmed mental faculties. The sexes and ages of other people are social contexts in which decisions have to be made all the time, so the idea of evolved pigeon-holes to deal with these categories makes sense. The reason for scepticism about the third category is that, for most of their evolutionary history, human beings would never have been exposed to individuals of other races. It is therefore hard to see how a specifically racial pigeon-holing system could have arisen. On the other hand, there was probably good reason to want to be able to place a stranger within the system of tribal groups, coalitions and alliances that early man would have had to deal with among his neighbours. To the extent that the individuals in those groups had things in common, those things might mark an unknown individual as a group member. Learning the wrong associations between markers and groups, though, would be maladaptive, so a flexible approach to such markers, discarding them when they prove useless, might be expected. Following this line of thinking, Dr Kurzban, Dr Tooby and Dr Cosmides predicted that, in circumstances in which race was irrelevant to the ways that groups of allies form, prejudice would vanish, possibly rapidly. To test this idea they used an established psychological technique called the "memory confusion protocol". This involves showing subjects a series of photographs of people, together with sentences of a conversation that those people are supposed to be having. After that (and without having been warned what to expect) the subject is shown the sentences in a random order, and asked who said what. The information the protocol provides stems from misattributions of words to pictures. Subjects tend to confuse who said what within groups that they have const of racial stereotyping will drop. All of these predictions were shown to be correct. In the first experiment, in which there were no visual clues about coalition membership, a lot of misattribution was correlated with skin colour. However, such misattribution was not overwhelming. Subjects misattributed statements on the basis of which side of the conversation they came from about half as often as they did on the basis of race; appearance is therefore not everything. It is, however, important. In the second experiment, the results were reversed. Given the extra clue of shirt colour, the preponderance of misattribution was connected with apparent membership of a coalition. Race dwindled into insignificance. The subjects had been given no prompting about the purpose of the experiment. They did not know that they were supposed to be looking for coalitions. But, subliminally, they noticed them anyway. That suggests their brains were more attuned to clustering by signals that would point immediately to group membership, than by prejudices about which individuals should be forming groups. In turn, that suggests that racial characteristics are operating merely as badges of convenience, rather than pressing deep, biologically determined buttons of discrimination. And that, though by no means a solution to the problems of racially divided societies, might provide a small chink for social policy to work on.
©The Economist

Twenty-one people filed a $100 million federal lawsuit against Cracker Barrel restaurants Thursday, accusing the nationwide chain of widespread racism, from segregating black customers in the smoking section to denying them service. It was the largest civil rights lawsuit against a restaurant chain since Denny's settled a $46 million discrimination lawsuit in 1994. The suit, filed Thursday in federal court in Rome, Georgia, accuses Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. of systematic discrimination and documents acts of alleged racism in 175 cities in 30 states. The restaurant chain, which for years has been known for its country store motif and homestyle cooking, owns and operates a chain of 450 restaurants in 37 states.

Cracker Barrel spokeswoman Julie Davis said the charges are false and that the company responds to the concerns of all customers. "Our mission is pleasing people and that means all people," she said. "We do not tolerate discrimination of any kind." The plaintiffs are represented by one of the nation's largest civil rights law firms, Gordon, Silberman, Wiggins & Childs. "The descriptions of the treatment endured by African American customers in these restaurants is appalling," said attorney David Sanford. "It can't be the case that Cracker Barrel doesn't know about it," he told a news conference Thursday. "We have enough evidence right now to suggest that Cracker Barrel, to the very highest level, is responsible."

Much of the lawsuit focuses on the statements of black customers, recounting how they were forced to wait while white customers were promptly seated. In one such case, Chandra Harmon, a resident of Smyrna, Ga., says she arrived at a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Chattanooga, Tenn., at 9:48 p.m. and was told by a server that the restaurant was about to close. At 10 p.m., Harmon watched as four white men were allowed into the restaurant. Through the window, she saw them eating and drinking. "We had hungry children and he still refused to serve us," Harmon said of the incident in July, referring to the manager. Later, the manager insisted the men were seated before Harmon arrived. "There are perhaps thousands more African-Americans who have been denied service, treated rudely by servers and hosts, and subjected to racial slurs at Cracker Barrel restaurants," said Grant Morris, another attorney. "This is the tip of the iceberg." The lawsuit also draws upon the statements of Judith Robertson, a former executive coordinator at Cracker Barrel's headquarters in Lebanon, Tenn. Robertson, who is white, was responsible for responding to complaints made by customers on the company's hot line. In a statement, Robertson says the company received 300 calls describing discriminations against minority customers, many more than received by other customers. She said those calls were often discussed, and then dismissed casually, by Cracker Barrel managers.
©Associated Press

Health authorities in Scotland's largest city need to do more to recruit senior managers from ethnic minorities, a senior consultant said yesterday. Dr Rafik Gardee spoke out after a meeting of the Greater Glasgow Health Board The doctor said Glasgow's hospital trusts have failed to recruit from the area's large ethnic population, leading to language difficulties with patients. Dr Gardee, who recently completed a study entitled Fair For All into the issue across Scotland, said: "At the Greater Glasgow Primary Healthcare Trust only 2 per cent of the people employed there are from ethnic minorities, none of these are in senior management. The make-up of the health sector's workforce does not mirror the population at large. This can only cause problems for our patients. "There are also, no doubt, problems because of language barriers, something which is extremely apparent when it comes to treating asylum seekers. "Basically, something is very wrong as there are no staff recruitment policies. "We are finding that, while some duty managers may be recruited from ethnic minorities in certain places, these people tend to do the night-shift. While my recent report did not find any elements of individual racism there are problems that could be regarded as institutionally racist. "But things are getting better. This is the first time in 20 years that I have been called to talk on this subject at a meeting of the Greater Glasgow Health Board." Earlier this month, Malcolm Chisholm, the health minister, unveiled a £1.1 million drive to stamp out institutional racism in NHS Scotland following Dr Gardee's 18-month study. New measures to be brought in to combat the problem included draft guidance for health service chiefs, outlining the standards to be met in order to tackle any problems facing ethnic minorities. But Dr Gardee said more needed to be done to combat the problems within the service. At yesterday's meeting the Greater Glasgow Health Board also heard of the efforts being made to recruit staff to the beleaguered Beatson Oncology Centre following the resignation of four consultants.
©The Scotsman

by Kenan Malik

UK home secretary David Blunkett suggests that immigrants should be required to speak English, and urges ethnic minorities to become 'more British'. The Home Office-sponsored Cantle report on the riots in Oldham, Burnley and Bradford, released on 11 December, recommends that all immigrants be required to swear an 'oath of allegiance' to Britain. David Ritchie, author of a separate, independent report on the Oldham riots, published on the same day, criticises the 'self-segregation' of ethnic minorities, and the failure of ethnic minority leaders to encourage greater integration. Blunkett, Ritchie and the authors of the Cantle report all agree that the problem of race relations in Britain stems from the 'difference' of ethnic minorities. This belief has been at the heart of policy debate in Britain throughout the postwar period, and is at the heart of the arguments of both supporters and opponents of multiculturalism.

In the vociferous debate that has raged in the UK over recent weeks about the merits or otherwise of a multicultural society, both sides have very different views of the Britain they wish to see. They agree, however, that Britain has become a multicultural nation because immigrants (and their children) have demanded that their cultural differences be recognised and afforded respect. Supporters of multiculturalism urge the state to see such diversity as a public good; opponents use it to make a case against immigration and, in some cases, for repatriation. This view of multiculturalism gets reality upside down. Far from being a response to demands from local communities, multiculturalism was imposed from the top, the product of policies instituted by national governments and local authorities in order to defuse the anger created by racism. To understand this better, we need to look again at the history of postwar race relations policy in Britain. The arrival of large numbers of black immigrants in the 1950s from India, Pakistan and the Caribbean created conflicting pressures on policy-makers. While they welcomed the influx of new labour, there was at the same time considerable unease about the impact that such immigration may have on traditional concepts of Britishness. As a Colonial Office report of 1955 observed, 'a large coloured community as a noticeable feature of our social life would weaken&the concept of England or Britain to which people of British stock throughout the Commonwealth are attached'.

Even in the 1950s, a simple notion of Britishness could not be sustained
For the British elite of the time, its sense of self and identity was mediated through the concept of race. Britishness was a racial concept and large-scale migration from the colonies threatened to disrupt the racialised sense of identity. Even in the 1950s, though, it was clear that such a simple notion of Britishness could not be sustained for long. It was a form of national identity rooted in a Britain and in an Empire that was already crumbling. Moreover, the experience of Nazism and the Holocaust had rendered virtually unusable the kind of racial exclusiveness embodied in this notion of national identity. In any case, by the end of the 1950s black immigrants were already a fact of life in Britain. Despite the subsequent attempts by politicians from Enoch Powell to Margaret Thatcher to Norman Tebbit to formulate a racially exclusive concept of Britishness, it was already apparent by the end of the 1950s that British identity would have to be reformulated to include the presence in this country of black citizens. In the 1960s, therefore, policy-makers embarked on a new 'twin track' strategy in response to immigration. On the one hand, they imposed increasingly restrictive immigration controls specifically designed to exclude black immigrants. On the other, they instituted a framework of legislation aimed at outlawing racial discrimination so much of racial discrimination, but rather of cultural differences, and of the inability of black immigrants to be sufficiently British.

Political equality was about a commonality of values, hopes and aspirations
While the question of integration and of cultural differences preoccupied the political elite, it was not a question that particularly troubled black Britons. First generation black immigrants were concerned less about preserving cultural differences than about fighting for political equality. It is true that many black communities organised themselves around traditional institutions (such as the mosque) which provided shelter from the intensity of racist hostility they often experienced. And as black communities remained ghettoised, excluded from mainstream society and subject to discrimination, they often clung to old habits and lifestyles as a familiar anchor in an unwelcoming world. Nevertheless, most black Britons recognised that at the heart of the fight for political equality was the essential sameness of immigrants and the indigenous population, and a commonality of values, hopes and aspirations, not an articulation of unbridgeable differences. Throughout the 1960s, 70s and early 1980s, three big issues dominated the struggle for political equality: opposition to discriminatory immigration controls; the fight against racist attacks; and, most explosively, the issue of police brutality. These struggles politicised a new generation of black activists and came to an explosive climax in the inner-city riots of the late 1970s and early 1980s. The effect of the riots, wrote one academic commentator, was to 'transform pleas for more political opportunities into the received wisdom that the black electorate should be involved in politics'. The authorities recognised that unless black communities were given a political stake in the system, their frustration could threaten the stability of British cities. It was against this background that the policies of multiculturalism emerged. Local authorities in inner-city areas, led by Ken Livingstone's Greater London Council (GLC), pioneered a new strategy of making black communities feel part of British society by organising consultation with black communities, drawing up equal opportunities policies, establishing race relations units and dispensing millions of pounds in grants to black community organisations. At the heart of the strategy was a redefinition of racism. Racism now meant not simply the denial of equal rights but the denial of the right to be different. Black people, many argued, should not be forced to accept British values, or to adopt a British identity. Rather, different peoples should have the right to express their identities, explore their own histories, formulate their own values, pursue their own lifestyles. In this process, the very meaning of equality was transformed: from possessing the same rights as appropriate to different communities.

Multiculturalism transformed the very meaning of equality
The multicultural approach appears to be a sensitive response to the needs of black communities. In fact, it is underpinned by the same assumption that has dogged the debate about race relations from the start: the idea that black people are in some way fundamentally different from 'British' people and that the problem of race relations is about how to accommodate these 'differences'. By the mid-1980s the political struggles that had dominated the fight against racism in the 1960s and 70s had became transformed into battles over cultural issues. Political struggles unite across ethnic or cultural divisions; cultural struggles inevitably fragment. Since state funding was now linked to cultural identity, so different groups began asserting their particular identities ever more fiercely. The shift from the political to the cultural arena helped entrench old divisions and to create new ones. The city of Bradford provides a very good example of how the institutionalisation of multiculturalism undermin the city changed. By the mid-1980s the focus of concern had shifted from political issues, such as policing and immigration, to religious and cultural issues: a demand for Muslim schools and for separate education for girls, a campaign for halal meat to be served at school, and, most explosively, the confrontation over the publication of Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses. This process was strengthened by a new relationship between the local council and the local mosques. In 1981, the council helped set up and fund the Bradford Council of Mosques. By siphoning resources through the mosques, the council was able to strengthen the position of the more conservative religious leaders and to dampen down the more militant voices on the streets. As part of its multicultural brief to allow different communities to express their distinct identities, the council also helped set up two other religious umbrella groups: the Federation for Sikh Organisations and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, both created in 1984.

In Bradford, multiculturalism has segregated communities more than racism
The consequence was to create divisions and tensions within and between different Asian communities, as each fought for a greater allocation of council funding. There had always been residential segregation between the black and white communities in Bradford, thanks to a combination of racism, especially in council house allocation, and of a desire among Asians to find protection in numbers. But within Asian areas, Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus lived cheek by jowl for much of the postwar period. In the 1980s, however, the three communities started dividing. They began increasingly to live in different areas, attend different schools and organise through different institutions. New council-funded community organisations and youth centres were set up according to religious and ethnic affiliations. By the early 1990s even the Asian business community was institutionally divided along community lines, with the creation in 1987 of the largely Hindu and Sikh Institute of Asian Businesses; of the Hindu Economic Development Forum in 1989; and of the Muslim-dominated Asian Business and Professional Club in 1991. The Asian Youth Movement, the beacon in the 1970s of a united struggle against racism, was split up and torn apart by such multicultural tensions. Multiculturalism was not simply the product of demand from black communities for their cultural differences to be recognised. That demand itself was to a large extent created through official policy in response to the black militancy of the 1970s and early 1980s. Instead of tackling head-on the problems of racial inequality, social deprivation and political disaffection, the authorities, both national and local, simply encouraged communities to pursue what one of the recent reports into the summer 2001 riots calls 'parallel lives'. By the 1990s multiculturalism had become generalised from a response to militant anti-racism to a general recipe for society. Whereas in the 1950s British identity was seen in racial terms, by the 1990s the very notion of a national identity was questioned. Britishness became simply the ability to tolerate different identities. Little wonder, then, that people should increasingly look inwards to their religion, ethnicity or community as an affirmation of who they are. In places like Bradford, Oldham and Burnley, multiculturalism has helped segregate communities far more effectively than racism. Racism certainly created deep divisions in these towns. But it also helped generate political struggles against discrimination, the impact of which was to create bridges across ethnic, racial and cultural divisions. Multiculturalism, on the other hand, has not simply entrenched the divisions created by racism, but made cross-cultural interaction more difficult by encouraging people to assert their cultural differences.

There is nothing good in itself about diversity
And in areas where there was both a sharp division between Asian and white commun heart of the 'parallel worlds' inhabited by different communities in towns like Bradford, Burnley and Oldham. Cultural diversity only makes sense within a framework of common values and beliefs that enable us to treat all people equally. And to create such a framework requires us to be a bit more intolerant and to show a bit less respect.

Kenan Malik is author of The Meaning of Race (buy this from Amazon UK), Man, Beast and Zombie: What Science Can and Cannot Tell Us About Human Nature (buy this from Amazon UK), and the Institute of Ideas publication 'What is it to be human? What science can and cannot tell us'

A federal judge Tuesday threw out the death sentence imposed nearly two decades ago on Mumia Abu Jamal, revered by supporters worldwide as a crusader against racial injustice but reviled by others as the unrepentant killer of a police officer. Judge William Yohn of U.S. District Court cited problems with the jury charge and verdict form in the trial that ended with the former journalist and Black Panther's first-degree murder conviction in the 1981 death of a Philadelphia policeman. The judge rejected all of Mr. Abu Jamal's other claims and refused his request for a new trial. Judge Yohn said jurors should have been able to consider mitigating circumstances during sentencing even if they did not unanimously agree that those circumstances existed. He ordered the state to either conduct a new sentencing hearing within 180 days or sentence Mr. Abu Jamal to life imprisonment. The ruling could be appealed to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. "I'm angry, outraged, and disgusted," said Maureen Faulkner, the widow of Daniel Faulkner. "I think Judge Yohn is a sick and twisted person, after sitting on this case for two years and making this decision just before Christmas. He wants to play the middle road and try to appease both sides and it doesn't work." Lawyers for Mr. Abu Jamal, 47, did not immediately return calls from reporters. Mr. Abu Jamal, perhaps the most famous death-row inmate in the United States, was convicted of shooting Mr. Faulkner, 25, early on the morning of Dec. 9, 1981, after the officer pulled over Mr. Abu Jamal's brother for driving the wrong way on a one-way street. A scuffle ensued and Mr. Abu Jamal, who was sitting in a taxicab across the street, ran over. Prosecutors said Mr. Abu Jamal drew his .38-caliber revolver and fired, hitting the officer in the back. They said Mr. Faulkner, wounded, had turned and fired, hitting Mr. Abu Jamal in the chest, and Mr. Abu Jamal then shot Mr. Faulkner in the face. Mr. Abu Jamal has said he was shot by the police as he ran to the scene and then beaten. Mr. Abu Jamal's book, "Live From Death Row," describes prison life and argues that the justice system is racist and ruled by political expediency. His jailhouse writings have attracted supporters around the world, and his effort to win a new trial has become a rallying point for death penalty opponents. Both sides marked the 20th anniversary of the shooting this month. Mr. Faulkner's supporters dedicated a plaque on the spot where he was gunned down and Mr. Abu Jamal's supporters held a mass rally at City Hall. Mr. Abu Jamal was also recently made an honorary citizen of Paris. Mr. Abu Jamal exhausted the state appeals process two years ago, but he said in a petition filed in September that he had new evidence to prove his innocence, including a confession by a man named Arnold Beverly. A judge ruled in November that she did not have jurisdiction, scuttling his hopes for another round of state court appeals. In a 1999 affidavit, Mr. Beverly claimed he had been hired by the mob to kill Mr. Faulkner because the officer had interfered with mob payoffs to the police. Mr. Abu Jamal's former lawyers, Leonard Weinglass and Daniel Williams, said they thought the confession was not credible and Judge Yohn refused to order Mr. Beverly to testify on Mr. Abu Jamal's behalf.
©International Herald Tribune

The Holmlia murder trial to determine responsibility for the death of Norwegian-African teenager Benjamin Hermansen continued Tuesday with psychiatric specialists claiming the chief suspect had impaired powers of judgment. Psychiatric expert Asbjørn Restan concluded that Joe Erling Jahr - whose two co-defendants say carried out the fatal stabbing - was neither insane nor mentally disturbed when the crime was committed, but that he does come under the heading of 'mangelfullt utviklede sjelsevner', a controversial Norwegian forensic psychiatric concept that is akin to diminished capacity. Such a diagnosis often leads to preventive detention in a special hospital rather than a prison sentence. Dr. Restan concluded that Jahr had at no time been insane or psychotic and had been conscious of his behavior during the stabbing. Restand testified that Jahr's condition, similar to the US concept of 'depravity of heart' was probably not permanent, though he had found biologically based brain damage that could be a contributory factor. The medical report found that Jahr had been formed by a marked lack of contact with adults and he had grown up bereft of love and care. The doctor also found that Jahr's choice of a neo-Nazi milieu was coincidental. His lack of judgmental powers led his to seek out groups that would accept him. Restand and his colleagues would not touch on the subject of whether there was a danger of Jahr repeating the type of crimes he stand accused of, and which he has partially admitted. Restand said he believed that Jahr's impaired mental faculties could be treated with psychotherapy, and that such a process would be lengthy, taking at least five years of rehabilitative treatment.

Gay gatherings are no longer a criminal offence

Human rights campaigners in Romania are celebrating the scrapping from the statute books of a law which effectively criminalised the practice of homosexuality. The notorious Article 200 of the Penal Code, conceived during the Communist regime of Nicolae Ceausescu, was used to harass and imprison thousands of gay and lesbian people. But the law has been repealed only 12 years after that regime collapsed - under fierce pressure from the European Union. Heaven is Bucharest's newest nightclub and the place to be seen for Romania's increasingly confident gay community. With the anti-homosexual article now gone, the club opened last month without fear of prosecution. Gay gatherings are no longer a criminal offence, and the clientele here are delighted. "I am really happy we have got a club where we can meet, have fun and feel free," said one customer. "Everyone has a right to their freedom and that includes their sexuality," said another. "I feel good - it is super."

Romania's gay rights group ACCEPT led the campaign against a law which criminalised homosexual relationships and organisations, with maximum sentences of five years in prison. Its director, Adrian Coman, says the law was only scrapped because the European Union made it a precondition for Romania's eventual membership of the EU. "The fact that law was repealed does not necessarily show that people in this country became more tolerant towards gays and lesbians in Romania. "Whatever the reason, this is an important step forward. You could say that finally the state is out of your bed."

Cool public reaction
Last year a public opinion poll found that 86% of Romanians would not want a gay or lesbian person as their neighbour. On the streets of the capital Bucharest the changes to the statute books and the repealing of the Article 200 clearly have not met with universal approval . "It is not good they repealed that law, it would destroy the family," said one passer-by, while another referred to homosexuals as "scum." "I think it is a good thing for society but morally it is not good because we are Christians," said a third.

Church opposition
The Orthodox Church still exerts huge influence in Romania. When politicians debated Article 200, the voice of the church was equally loud. It warned of the dangers to Romania and to the family. The Holy Synod insists it does not favour prison sentences for gays - just re-education programmes funded by the state. But its senior priests say laws and punishment are still necessary to stop what they call gay propaganda. "We need healthy young people in mind and body, like any civilised country and we must try to protect them from contamination by such serious sinners," says a spokesman for the Holy Synod bishop Vincentiu Ploisteanu. He believes pressure from the European Union to change Romania's law on homosexuality is completely misguided. "We want to join the European Union, not Sodom and Gomorrah." The church may not approve of clubs like Heaven nor of the changes this club represents. But the tide is turning in favour of those want to see Romania adopt the freedoms others take for granted.
©BBC News

The European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia on Tuesday reported a drastic increase in racially motivated and anti-Semitic violence and intimidation in Germany, France, Britain, Spain and Sweden last year. Racially motivated crimes increased by one-third in Germany in 2000, while in Britain the figure doubled. Discrimination was most commonly encountered on the job market and at the place of work, the European Union's Vienna-based center concluded in its annual report. The number of racist propaganda offenses was high in both Germany and Sweden and the number of neo-Nazi Internet sites had also doubled within the space of a year, the report said. The main goal of the center, which was established in 1997, is to provide the EU with reliable and comparable statistics on racist, xenophobic and anti-semitic phenomena. There are also plans to develop and coordinate a European Information Network on Racism and Xenophobia.
© Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Human rights campaigners studying moves to harmonise justice across the European Union have claimed they were bad for democracy and human rights. The Fair Trials Abroad Trust highlights a number of cases where Britons arrested in Europe have suffered - most recently, the case of the plane spotters detained in Greece. Efforts to bring in fast-track extradition and mutual enforcement of court orders were first agreed at an EU summit two years ago. But they have been given more urgent impetus by the events of 11 September and the need to combat terrorism.

'Reckless abuse'
Fair Trials' director Stephen Jakobi says an agreement that a citizen should generally be granted bail if arrested abroad should have been in place long ago and would prevented many examples of blatant discrimination. On the Fair Trials Abroad website, Mr Jakobi says: "We are forced to conclude that 2001 was a bad year for democracy and the European citizen. "The authoritarian nature of the European Council asserted itself in reckless abuse of citizens' rights. "Whilst national police and law enforcement officers could rejoice at the imminent prospect of increases in international powers of arrest, the vulnerable citizen was left without practical protection." The Fair Trials Abroad Trust is a charity that seeks to help citizens from the European Union accused of a crime in a country other than their own to assert their rights to due administration of justice.
©BBC News

Islam preaches equality, yet in most Muslim countries a woman's place is determined by a man's will. It's the law. A husband can prevent his wife from traveling abroad, and the police will back up his legal right to stop her. A father can marry off his daughter against her will, and she, by law, must obey. A woman is trapped in a loveless marriage; with few exceptions, her husband is free once he declares himself divorced. But the days when Muslim women could be kept housebound and remote from society are long gone in parts of the Muslim world. As modernity collides with religious tradition, women have begun to demand a reinterpretation of the civil codes that presume that a woman, in her private life, is a capricious creature in need of a man's guiding hand. The agitation in countries like Morocco is coming from female scholars who are confident of their religious judgment and use the Internet as a forum to promote an alternative vision of the rights Muslim women. It is coming, as well, from politically active women who push for change from within Islamist movements. It is coming from ordinary women who fear that legal strictures will prevent their countries from being integrated into the modern world. Their challenges to Islamic orthodoxy have placed these women at the heart of the main political battle in the Muslim world, where one side claims Islam as a shield against foreign culture and the other presents it as a road map for progress. To the extent there is public debate over the role of Islam - as armor or emancipator - that debate often turns on the subject of women. For many Muslim women, the religious laws that subordinate them to the authority of male relatives represent a final frontier. They already vote, unless they live in the Gulf nations. They go to school. They choose whether or not to wear a veil, unless they live in Iran or Saudi Arabia. But in the personal sphere, laws remain mired in patriarchal tradition and a medieval reading of Islam. To alter them, Muslim women face not only an entrenched religious establishment but also a battle with fundamentalists in the political arena. Many Muslim women say they do not want the West's instructions for their struggle. As they demonstrated at many international conferences on women's rights, they resent being told what it is they need. Still, in many countries, Islamist movements have attacked those seeking change as Western stooges and enemies of Islam, and they have seized on resistance to women's rights as an issue in their power struggle with moderate Muslim rulers. In Kuwait, Islamist members of Parliament rejected the emir's efforts to grant voting rights to women and pushed through a law to segregate Kuwait University. In Jordan, Islamists have campaigned successfully against the king's attempt to stiffen penalties for honor killings, or the murder of women whose behavior is deemed shameful to family honor. Nowhere in the Islamic world does the conflict over women's rights come into sharper relief than in Morocco, where society has split in two over a government proposal to eliminate inequities in the kingdom's laws. Last year, in a remarkable public demonstration, more than 400,000 people took to the streets in response to the plan. Half of them, marching in Rabat, supported the plan for equal rights. The other half, in Casablanca, rallied against it as an attack on religious values. The most contentious part of the proposal concerned the country's moudawana, or personal-status law, and the debate has become as much a political battle as a discussion of women's rights. The plan would raise the legal age for marriage to 18 from 15 for women (as it already has been for men), outlaw polygamy in most cases and allow divorced women for the first time to retain custody of their children if they remarry. Women would also be granted equal rights to ask for divorce and equal claims to assets acquired during the marriage, Justice and Development, and once ordered a woman in a sleeveless blouse to leave the parliamentary chambers. In Morocco, the king is called "commander of the faithful," making him the highest religious authority in the country. King Mohammed VI has called for the advancement of women. But he has not yet said whether he will endorse the plan on women, which would open a direct confrontation with the Islamist opposition over a sensitive religious issue. After the demonstrations in March 2000, he appointed a committee to sound out public opinion. It is still holding hearings. Many Moroccan women fear that the moudawana reforms will eventually be put aside to avoid more political turmoil. "And if you put that part aside, what's left?" asked Fatiha Layadi, a stylish young television reporter who drew stares for smoking cigarettes in public at an outdoor café in Rabat. "If it's not the whole package, then how are you going to talk about women's empowerment? A woman is a citizen, and you have to include her private life as well as her public life." As codified over the years, however, Islam eventually institutionalized the inferiority of women. The Prophet Mohammed is said to have urged his followers to treat women with respect, but respect has come to mean control. For women seeking change, however, there are reasons for optimism. Women's votes can count, as they did in bringing a moderate president, Mohammed Khatami, to power in Iran in 1997. And traditionalists no longer control all the religious debate. "Educated women armed with computers have defeated extremists by denying them a monopoly to define cultural identity and interpret religious texts," said Fatema Mernissi, a Moroccan sociologist who has written extensively on women and democracy in Islam.
©International Herald Tribune

Government representatives from 156 countries, including Hungary, gathered in Geneva last week to renew their commitment to the 1951 Refugee Convention, the internationally-recognized cornerstone of refugee protection. The meeting was not only significant in marking the 50th anniversary of the convention, but also relevant against the backdrop of the refugee crises of the 1990s and the current conflict and refugee crisis in Afghanistan. Lorenzo Pascali, Deputy Representative at the Hungarian office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said Hungary's recent decision to change its own legislation on the treatment of refugees was a milestone in the country's approach to asylum seekers, who have entered Hungary in ever increasing numbers over the last decade - 1998 alone saw a 600% increase in applications. "Until September 1999, legislation meant that refugees could be detained indefinitely if they did not have the correct documents or had entered the country illegally," Pascali said. "We [the UNHCR] and human rights organizations did a lot to soften the administrative structure of the Government and the result was that in 1999 the law was changed to set the detention limit at 18 months." Pascali said the result of the change had been a lower number of asylum-seekers in detention and therefore less stress on the system. "For the majority, the time spent in detention is no more than 30 days and during this time the authorities establish the claimant's identity and following this, at least in principle, they are then placed in a regular refugee center. Only if they commit any infractions, such as being absent from their center without the authorities' permission, can they be placed back in detention, which can be up to 12 months." Until February 1998, Hungary applied the geographical limitation of the 1951 convention, which covered only European refugees, and the UNHCR office dealt with the eligibility interviews of all non-European asylum seekers entering the country. "Our main role here is now more like that in Western European countries, which is monitoring the application of the convention and building the capacity of the system to deal with asylum seekers," he said. And that capacity is becoming a greater requirement every year, according to the statistics. The Kosovo crisis of 1999 saw a large increase in refugees arriving in Hungary - 11,500 in total applied, which was mainly due to a large surge in claimants from Yugoslavia and its former states, although Pascali pointed out that not very many were Kosovars. "Last year the total went down to 8,000, which shows that without a major regional crisis the number of applicants went down, although the overall trend is still increasing," he said. At the end of November 2001, the latest figure available at the UNHCR for the year was 9,000, of which 4,000 were Afghan, many of whom, Pascali admitted, were most likely heading further west. This number was almost equal to the number of Afghans who applied in the previous two years combined. "More than 50% of applications are disappeared' cases, where the applicants have clearly either returned home or gone elsewhere," he said. "This is not unique to Hungary, it happens throughout Central Europe." Pascali said Germany and the UK were still the prime destinations for many asylum seekers entering Europe, and many of those entering Hungary did not intend to stay. "Hungary is not in the EU yet and is not perceived as a rich country," he said. "Afghans, for example, have no real community here, which begs the question why are they coming here." The answer, he said, lies in the large EU countries. "In addition to potential state support, these countries can also offer the support of ethnic communities and better integration." Certain EU countries, particularly Germany, are known to be more sympathetic to asylum seekers and, as a result, Pascali said, there is an imbalance in the proportion of asylum seekers appro mandated to protect refugees, not migrants, although they also deserve protection. "While a migrant goes to another country for reasons of personal convenience, which is a perfectly valid aim, a refugee is compelled to leave their country due to a threat on their life or fundamental freedom. "They need our protection as they have lost that protection, ie the guarantee of basic human rights, in their own countries." The UN has pointed out on many occasions that refugees are the result of failures in politics and the chaos produced by the Taliban government has meant that Hungary now has a share in the responsibility of dealing with those who have left their broken country. "The new system in Hungary is now much fairer," said Pascali. "The Government has asked for our advice on the law and refugees are now informed clearly of their rights and duties, and they are made aware of what they will face if for whatever reason they try to move on somewhere else."
©The Budapest Sun

Looking back, as one tends to do this time of year, on 2001 I find lots to ponder on. The I CARE website started October 1 1999 at the same time as the preparatory process for the WCAR started in Europe. This summer finally we all went to Durban for the end product. Or is it the beginning, a milestone in history, the marker for a new way of thinking? Hmmm, time will tell I guess. My feeling about it is that we now we at least know how NOT to proceed. At the moment it just seems to me that the NGO Forum and the WCAR has brought new divisions amongst us (or where those divisions always there, but we preferred to not see them?). My new years resolution is going to be: to listen before I react, to negotiate rather then shut people out and to be as supportive as I can be to facilitate dialogue. Lets not forget many roads lead us to Durban, as many roads as we can take now in the follow up. All you can say about them is that they are different from eachother, which doesn't mean that we can't mutually support them. One does what one can, in whatever way one can. Please let's try exercizing some understanding and respect for the multitude of viewpoints. Find your points in common and co-operate with eachother on those points. We're not getting married, we're just moving forward. I'd like to think Duban was the beginning, not the conclusion of a long way to go.

The I CARE News will return in the new year on Friday January 11.

Happy new year everybody!

©Suzette Bronkhorst, News Editor

Thousands of neo-Nazis held their biggest march in Berlin on Saturday since Hitler's defeat, undeterred by left-wing protesters who fought with police to try and bar the rightists' path into the old Jewish quarter. Police turned water-cannon and tear-gas on left-wing rioters who threw bottles and stones as they charged police lines guarding 4,000 members of the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD). The neo-Nazis were protesting about an exhibition that aims to prove ordinary German soldiers committed atrocities in World War Two. Police said they had detained 30 people, 13 of then leftists and 17 right-wingers. Witnesses saw at least one policeman injured and a patrol car overturned, but the police lines held.

The neo-Nazis, mostly young skinheads wearing bomber jackets and paratrooper boots, marched down Friedrichstrasse, east Berlin's main shopping street, in what German media said was the biggest far-right gathering in the city since 1945. Though German laws ban the use of swastikas and other Nazi symbols and even the stiff-armed Hitler salute, the marchers carried nationalist banners and chanted "Glory and Honor to German Soldiers!" and "My Grandfather was not a Criminal!."

Court challenge
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's center-left government is trying to get the courts to ban the NPD, which it compares to Hitler's embryonic Nazi party in the early 1920s. Like two rival far-right parties, it is electorally insignificant but makes full use of its constitutional right to stage demonstrations. The NPD march paused at the corner of Oranienburgerstrasse, once at the heart of Berlin's Jewish quarter and still home to the historic New Synagogue. But the demonstrators deviated from their original route and did not march down the street.

"Instead of protecting the Nazis, the police should guard the buildings and let people celebrate the Sabbath in peace," said Jewish community spokeswoman Annetta Kahane. "But it's great to see that the Jewish community, as well as the wider community in Berlin, is so clearly saying that this city has had enough of Nazis." Berliners queued down the street to get into the "Crimes of the Wehrmacht" exhibition, which opened on Wednesday. It has been touring the country for four years, outraging right-wingers by challenging the view that the Wehrmacht -- the regular army -- played little part in the Holocaust and other war crimes perpetrated by the SS and other Nazi institutions. Though taken off the road in 1999 after historians found some photographs had wrongly identified killers as Wehrmacht troops, the new Berlin show is now enlarged and expanded.

Berlin was the heart of a German Jewish community of 670,000 before Hitler came to power in 1933. Now 30,000 Jews live in the capital city of 3.5 million. There are 100,000 Jews in Germany.

A Roma political leader who turned over evidence on the illegal sterilisation of Roma women could face charges of spreading alarmist information.

Evidence of the alleged criminal procedures presented to the Interior Ministry by Alexander Patkoló of the Slovak Roma Initiative political party has not been confirmed, and he has been called to the ministry to explain his accusations further. The police say they are considering a charge, put forward by the newly-formed Real Slovak National Party against Patkoló for spreading the information . Three of the women Patkoló claimed had been sterilised without their consent were discovered to have had the operation performed legally, ministry investigators said. One, who Patkoló said had given him a signed affidavit confirming the illegal sterilisation, was unable to read or write, they said.
©The Slovak Spectator

Norwegians' much-discussed "fear of foreigners" has risen since the September 11 terrorist attacks on the US. A new survey shows that attitudes have taken a step backwards in recent months. The survey, according to Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), was taken by Annette Thommesen's Memorial Fund, and its chairman, Olaf Thommesen, is taking its results seriously. "We're seeing a tendency towards stigmatizing that we've been warning against for a long time," Thommesen said. Skepticism towards unfamiliar culture is deeply rooted enough in Norway that the condition has its own well-known term: "fremmed frykt," or "fear of foreigners." Some say that it's rooted in Norway's geography, with remote mountain valleys that left people isolated and thus leery of even those from another valley. Politicians have alternatively battled or exploited Norwegian "fremmed frykt" over the years, but recent studies have suggested that Norwegian tolerance has grown in line with increased immigration. Thommesen confirms that trend, but notes that his fund's new study also shows a backlash since September 11. The study indicates that one in two Norwegians questioned has become more skeptical of foreign cultures and Islam since Islamic terrorists steered jets into the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

The Kishinau Education Department is trying to close down the unique in republic traditional Jewish feeding program (Koshrut) attached to the Jewish school nr.15- the program, which is supplying children and elderly people with free lunches

The Department Leadership orders the Jewish Communities Federation of Moldova, which is putting the feeding program into effect, to leave the dining room of the above-mentioned school in the course of 10 days and discharges the school principal. The indignations of pupils' parents, trade union and the State Cult Service are being ignored. The Kishinau Jewish Community had not been confronted with such undisguised anti- Semitic attacks on the authorities part for a long time by now!

Let us try to look into this problem. In 1992 on the initiative of Kishinau Jewish Community of the Jewish Communities Federation of Moldova the Jewish school nr.15 was opened. The Federation had always been a sponsor of this school: it had provided the pupils with feeding (twice per day), transport, repairs, organization of summer camps and a lot more. According to the "Treaty of Cooperation", concluded in June 2000, the Education Department had placed the school dining ­room at the Federation's disposal for "organizing lunches for invalids, the poor and pensioners". Now, apart from the pupils' feeding, here were made kosher lunches for elderly people and for the series of Jewish organizations.

Up to the present, the Department in the person of Anatol Muckrake decided to cancel the treaty, seeing infringement of the tenure law in it. As a matter of fact it is not that question at all. In the treaty is clearly mentioned: Department on the gratuitous foundation, grants the Federation dining- room of the school nr.15, while the Federation in it's turn, is committing itself to carry out the school repairs, to pay for the electric power, used in the dining- room, and to organize the out- of- class measures for children. Moreover, it is exactly what the Federation is doing. The Department is canceling the treaty in the unilateral order, while it is illegal, due to the fact that all the arguments concerning the fulfillment of the treaty and it's unilateral canceling are supposed to be solved in the court of law.

However, the Department went even further. The school principal Sophia Shkolnick had been dismissed, although she was holding this post for 6 years without any reproof on the Department's part. Therefore, on what grounds was the principal sacked? It appears that she had exceeded her commission and leased the school dining- room with no permission. This is an obvious lie, for the reason that leasing was out of the question from the very beginning, as it was already mentioned. It is interesting that they gave Sophia the sack, while she had been on sick leave and without any co-ordination with the trade union body. Even though this fact is absolute violation of a number of clauses, mentioned in the Labor Law Code. The trade union organization had expressed its disagreement with the actions of Mr. Muckrake, but the protest was ignored. The School 15 Parents Association made the same protests, but the whole thing was in vain, although this organization is officially registered. Furthermore, Anatol Muckrake is not paying any attention on the letters, sent by State Cult Service under the Republic of Moldova Government.

The dismissal of the principal is also at variance with the " National Minority Law". In accordance with that law appointment and discharge of the national minority schools principals is impossible lacking the consulting with the communities, which had initiated the foundation of these schools. In this, case the initiator of school 15 foundation, as it was previously mentioned, had been the Kishinau Jewish Community JCFRM, but there was not a single discussion with its leadershi Kashrut is their religious demand.

Now the Jewish Communities Federation is fighting the despotism of Education Department at the court of law.

Courtesy of Vladimir Marian

Reports into the summer riots in Bradford, Oldham and Burnley have urged government action to bring together Britain's "shockingly" divided communities. The main Cantle report, commissioned by the Home Office, said people in Britain were leading "parallel" and "polarised" lives where people from different backgrounds did not mix. It called for a meaningful concept of citizenship which could include an oath of allegiance setting out "a clear primary loyalty to this nation". And it urged an "open, honest" debate about multi-culturalism in Britain. A review of the Oldham riots blamed deep-rooted segregation which authorities had failed to address for generations. It warned: "Segregation, albeit self-segregation, is an unacceptable basis for a harmonious community and it will lead to more serious problems if it is not tackled."

No quick fix
A third report, on the Burnley riots, called for local and government action to tackle the deprivation and "disillusionment" of young people which has led to "violence and prejudice". The Cantle report, which warned there would be no quick fixes, made 67 recommendations covering areas such as housing, political leadership, education, youth and leisure facilities and regeneration. It specifically called for a change in the way regeneration schemes are managed, as they force groups to "compete against each other" and lead to resentment. It warned of the dangers of the government's policy of encouraging single-faith schools, which might deepen the divisions.

'Diverse community'
Home Secretary David Blunkett, who was speaking about race relations in Birmingham on Tuesday, welcomed the reports and called for a debate on citizenship. "Today's reports show that too many of our towns and cities lack any sense of civic identity or shared values. "Young people, in particular, are alienated and disengaged from much of the society around them, including the leadership of their communities." But Mr Blunkett defended the government's policy of encouraging more faith schools. He said if some religions could have faith schools, it was unfair not to allow other communities their desire to follow suit. Prime Minister Tony Blair's spokesman also welcomed the reports, saying they had "started a debate which we as a country need to have".

£10m damage
He said it was important to "recognise and celebrate diversity at the same time as developing the bonds that any community needs." In response to the Cantle Report, a separate study by Home Office minister John Denham - which will also study the Bradford riots - will highlight steps the government has already taken to tackle the issues raised. It is expected to prioritise spending on services for young people, and urge classes in English and citizenship. The summer's disturbances were some of the worst seen in the UK, with the Bradford violence alone causing damage estimated at £10m, and injuring 300 police officers.
©BBC News

The grim building rises from the earth like a fortress, all gray stone and rusting steel. Visitors pay the $2 admission fee and flinch as they are arbitrarily assigned a racial classification: blankes (whites) or nie-blankes (nonwhites). This is the entrance to South Africa's first apartheid-era museum, which opened two weeks ago as a biting reminder of a past that many people here would prefer to forget. Visitors receive a card denoting their racial identity and are directed to one of two revolving doors, one for blacks, one whites. Here, the separation experience begins.

In the passage for blacks the walls are covered with faded photos from old passbooks, the identity documents that blacks were forced to carry in the days of white rule. There is Nana Agnes Mbele, classified as Zulu in 1959, and Daniel Setlugame, classified as Tswana in 1956, and scores of other ordinary people who were barred from voting and from owning homes and businesses because they had black skin. At the end of the hallway four white men wait, frozen in a wall-size photograph. They are members of the racial-classification board that assigned racial identities by studying the kink of hair, the width of noses, the fullness of lips and the most minute gradations of skin color. This is a world that "white" visitors to the Apartheid Museum never see. They pass through a separate hallway covered with the identity cards of whites. They glimpse the "black" visitors through a metal grid, but the two groups do not mix until the short, separate passages rejoin and all visitors are guided into the museum's main exhibits.

"With the entrance, we immediately cut to the chase of what apartheid did, which is to classify and divide people," said Christopher Till, the director of the museum, as he guided a visitor through the exhibits. "It's very important to understand that past," he said. "On the white side so many people deny that stuff, almost deny that it ever existed. We want to give a sense of what really took place in a country that is still finding its soul."

It has been seven years since South Africa officially ended apartheid and elected its first black president, Nelson Mandela The "Europeans Only" signs have vanished from park benches, and black and white children mingle in integrated schools. But this is still a nation wrestling with its past. And the opening of the Apartheid Museum is just one of a flurry of exhibits designed to help people acknowledge and cope with their painful history. In Soweto, south of Johannesburg, contractors are completing work on a museum that will chronicle the 1976 black student uprising against the teaching of Afrikaans when it opens next year. In Cape Town officials opened a new building this month that will house exhibits and films about Robben Island, where Mr. Mandela and other opponents of apartheid were imprisoned. Until recently, most South African museums have focused on whites, who make up about 10 percent of the population. The newer museums are dedicating themselves to the history of the masses. Blacks, people of mixed-race and people of Indian descent make up about 90 percent of the population of South Africa. "There's a recovery of history in all sorts of ways, a retelling of history to include parts of South African history that have been largely overlooked before," said Philip Bonner, a professor of history at the University of the Witwatersrand and a historical consultant for the Apartheid Museum. The museum, which cost $10 million to build, is a private venture, financed with the gambling profits from Gold Reef City, a theme park and casino built on an abandoned gold mine Johannesburg. The government required the casino to complete a social development project to keep its gaming license.
©International Herald Tribune

The posters went up here overnight, about 500 copies of a painting of Hitler. They were plastered at the outdoor book market across from the Sheraton, near the Jewish center downtown, where Emil Kalo viewed them not only with alarm but also with puzzlement: Bulgaria simply has not been a place with much anti- Semitism. "Historically, it absolutely doesn't exist here," said Dr. Kalo, who is the leader of Bulgaria's community of 7,000 Jews. The posters are a reproduction of the cover of a new Bulgarian translation of " Kampf," Hitler's early memoir and political rant. They were clearly meant to provoke  and to sell books. The strategy appears to be working, according to Galin Jordanov, one of the men responsible for publishing the book. Nearly 5,000 copies have been sold here so far, he said. That makes the book a best seller in a nation of eight million people where the average print run for a Bulgarian work of fiction is 530. It was no coincidence, booksellers say, that sales rose considerably after the posters went up a week ago. While Mr. Jordanov denied any knowledge of them, he said with authority that 400 to 600 posters had gone up. The posters have the same image on them as the cover of the book and have increased the book's sales, so Mr. Jordanov's denial of any knowledge appears strange. "When you say, `This guy is such a bad guy,' people are curious," he said. "And when he writes a book, people will buy it. Curiosity kills the cat. We are generating a simple form of sensation." Mr. Jordanov, 39, is the chief editor for the book's publishing house, Zhar Ptitza. He is coy and inconsistent. He claims to have no connection to fascist parties  or to have anything against Jews. "Hitler has no friends here," he says. His publishing house has issued Machiavelli's "The Prince" and another book that has nothing to do with Jewish issues. But it has also published a translation of a book casting doubt on the Holocaust. He does not precisely repudiate Hitler, and he tended to deflect or wander off direct questions about Hitler's crimes. In fact, Mr. Jordanov wanted to make one thing clear: In his mind, Hitler was no worse than the Communists who ruled Russia and Eastern Europe from World War II until 1989, killing the hopes for many brainy young men  like him. "You can say the chief editor of the publishing house said that Adolf Hitler has done no harm to the Bulgarian people, unlike the governments that held power since 1945," he said. Mr. Jordanov is big and swift-witted, has translated a book about the film director Elia Kazan, and is not against a large dose of vodka just before noon. His English is not only good, but idiomatic in the distinct way of a man who learned it largely from banned Western books and music in the 1970's. He contends that the issue of banned books  and not anti-Semitism  is the point about the publication here of "Mein Kampf": the Communists banned it, too. Now that the Berlin Wall has fallen, people want to read it. "Remember the Prohibition in America?" Mr. Jordanov asked. "What was the Americans' interest in alcohol? Prohibition, my man!" "During the Socialist period, lots of things were forbidden, even comic books and American music," he added. "You couldn't listen to Kansas or Grand Funk Railroad. I can name thousands." The publishing company says it is independent, but Dr. Kalo, the leader of the Jewish community, wondered aloud why the publisher would go to such expense to print so many posters promoting just several thousand books. He is quick to say that any organized anti-Semitic campaign would be an aberration in Bulgaria, a nation of many ethnicities (and where Turks, not Jews, were more often scapegoats). Though Bulgaria was an ally of Germany in World War II, none of Bulgaria's 54,000 Jews died in concentration camps, he said. They were, in fact, shielded by other Bulgarians. Since then, Dr. Kalo said, exploiting this dissatisfaction." Krassen Stanchev, a political analyst here, said he did not detect any rising hatred of Jews, but rather the sense that outsiders were to blame for Bulgaria's continuing problems. This, he noted, is close to Hitler's analysis in "Mein Kampf," that Germans were not at fault for their country's hardships after World War I. Mr. Stanchev had just taken part in a radio call-in show that he said demonstrated the problem. "There was one person who said, `It's so obvious: the International Monetary Fund and other foreigners are in Bulgaria. They buy land and want to make Bulgaria a resource attachment to the European Union.' " But many Bulgarians appear to be buying the book out of historical curiosity, even if the advertising posters have unnerved them. Stephan Shaumkov, 60, a university professor, was browsing through Sofia's main book market downtown, where "Mein Kampf" is available for about $12, high by Bulgarian standards. "This is a protest by young people," he said, "to show that they don't give a damn what the old people think about Hitler."
©New York Times

A new study says racism is not programmed into the brain but is, in fact, a by-product of human evolution that can be altered. The research suggests that the apparent tendency towards noticing someone's skin colour - which many scientists had thought was inevitable - is actually a changeable feature of brain mechanisms that emerged for another reason: to detect shifting coalitions and alliances. Visual cues that betrayed "whose side" a stranger was on would have been important for survival in hunter-gatherer societies - but the colour of skin was unlikely to have been one of these markers because of the limited range over which ancient human groups moved. Experiments at the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB), US, show that we tend not to notice skin colour so much when viewing groups of mixed race. The researchers say their results indicate that it may be easier than previously thought to diminish racist tendencies.

Survival tactic
Other studies have suggested that human brains note three characteristics of a person on first meeting: sex, age and race. But the new research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that skin colour is less important than initially thought by scientists and psychologists. The UCSB scientists argue that while instinctive categorisation might exist for sex and age, there would have been no evolutionary benefit to ancient humans in marking out people solely by the colour of their skin. This is because hunter-gatherers would rarely have strayed far enough to meet humans that were strikingly different from the individuals among whom they moved. Instead, the researchers propose that our ancestors were wired by evolution to detect coalitions by boosting the saliency of any visual marker that suggested who might have allied with whom. Recognising a friend or foe would have been a valuable survival tactic.

Hope for children
The UCSB scientists developed their new theory after a series of tests in which the methods people used to detect rivalries or allegiances were studied. These included dressing different races in different groups in similar coloured shirts. This was designed to see if race was a factor in deciding who was considered to be in a coalition and who was not. The scientists found that when alliances were of mixed race, observers' tendency to notice others' racial identity rapidly diminished. This led the research team to conclude that race was merely substituting the notion of alliance or coalition. UCSB scientist Robert Kurzban, who headed the research, said the discoveries raised hopes that children could be encouraged not to assume racist opinions. "Racism has to do with categorising someone as a member of a certain race or group; if you can prevent the categorisation in the first place then that ought to prevent... stereotypes," he told the BBC. In fact, the scientists found that it took a person's lifetime experience of race only four minutes of exposure to "an alternate social world" to be considerably altered.
©BBC News

Downing Street has renewed its backing for Home Secretary David Blunkett as the controversy continues over his remarks on race. Prime Minister Tony Blair's official spokesman welcomed the debate sparked by Mr Blunkett's call for ethnic minorities to adopt British "norms of acceptability". Community and political leaders are warning Mr Blunkett his comments could be exploited by racists and the far-right British National Party says the home secretary is jumping on its bandwagon. Mr Blunkett said racism must be confronted but immigrants who settle here must do their bit to ensure future generations grow up "feeling British" - such as learning English. Speaking ahead of the publication of reports into the summer's race riots in towns like Oldham, Mr Blunkett said the government would not tolerate practices such as enforced marriages.

Blair's backing
The prime minister's official spokesman said there were no plans to introduce English tests for immigrants. Instead, all that was being suggested was that a modest grasp of the English language would benefit both individuals and society, he said. Pointing to the riots, the spokesman continued: "We can't pretend that this didn't happen and equally I don't think it's right to have some sort of self-imposed censorship on the grounds of political correctness because we are talking about race." Mr Blair is meeting leading members of the Sikh community later on Monday as part of his regular programme of keeping in touch with groups of all faiths. Some observers suspect Mr Blunkett could be using the controversy as a smokescreen for criticism of the government in the reports on the riots. Former Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) chairman Lord Ouseley said the comments were a diversion from reports that pointed the finger at government and local councils' failings. Shahid Malik, a member of both Labour's National Executive CRE, has called Mr Blunkett's comments "disturbing" and wants Mr Blunkett him to clarify them.

Side effects
Mr Malik continued: "I have no doubt that there's many fascists and racists and members of the BNP who will perversely draw comfort from his comments and view them as some sort of green light. "I know that's not what Mr Blunkett intended and I hope he will clarify his views and put them in a more appropriate context." BNP leader Nick Griffin told BBC Radio 4's World At One programme his party would use the home secretary's comments in its campaign literature. "David Blunkett is making these noises because he has seen the very large votes the British National Party has had in recent elections. "He is trying to shore up the white middle class vote." Mr Blunkett told BBC Radio 4 on Sunday that people needed to feel they identified and belonged to their community and their nation and could contribute to it. He said it was impossible to enforce a sense of belonging.

National norms
"But we can say that a healthy and cohesive community with one generation passing on their culture but also their commitment to their home, their country, to another generation will help us achieve these goals," he said. He told the Independent on Sunday: "We have norms of acceptability and those who come into our home - for that is what it is - should accept those norms just as we would have to do if we went elsewhere." Bill Morris, general secretary of the Transport and General Workers' Union, said Mr Blunkett seemed to have managed to declare war on "the judges, the police, the House of Lords and his own side in the Labour Party". Mr Morris continued: "I say to our home secretary, please calm down, you have got a lot of friends, don't make any enemies." Shadow Home Secretary Oliver Letwin said the Conservatives would back any government proposals which encouraged more integration. Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy warned Mr Blunkett could be misinterpreted, give ©BBC News

Under a rule imposed without public announcement soon after the Sept. 11 attacks, U.S. immigration courts from coast to coast are conducting scores of hearings in secret, with court officials forbidden even to confirm that the cases exist. The rule was imposed in an internal memorandum by the chief U.S. immigration judge on Sept. 21. His action is beginning to provoke complaints that while the United States has been debating secret military tribunals, the Bush administration has already closed an entire category of legal proceedings without giving critics a chance to challenge the order's constitutionality. Lawyers for immigrants say the secrecy order casts suspicion on their clients without any evidence, bars relatives from locked courtrooms and sometimes means that lawyers are accompanied into court by armed officers. The memorandum, by Judge Michael Creppy, a Justice Department employee, said the secrecy was necessary because Attorney General John Ashcroft had "implemented additional security procedures" for certain cases in the Sept. 11 investigation. The secrecy rule has received some attention on Capitol Hill and in news accounts. But Nadine Wettstein, legal director of the American Immigration Law Foundation in Washington, said that since Judge Creppy's memorandum was issued, scores of secret hearings have been held with little public reaction. Judge Creppy's memorandum said immigration courts were required in some cases "to close the hearing to the public, and to avoid discussing the case or otherwise disclosing any information about the case." Immigration judges are part of a Justice Department unit separate from the Immigration and Naturalization Service. They rule on such questions as whether a person should be deported for a violation like an expired visa. The terrorism investigation has included immigration proceedings against more than 560 people. Richard Kenney, a spokesman for Judge Creppy, said the rule was based on a regulation in effect before Sept. 11 that provides that immigration hearings "shall be open to the public" but permits judges to close them "to protect witnesses, parties or the public interest."
©International Herald Tribune

The police mounted a Europe-wide hunt Sunday for the human traffickers believed responsible for the deaths of eight would-be refugees - including three small children - in a shipping container in Ireland. Hearing faint pounding and moaning, an Irish trucker discovered the eight bodies along with five people clinging to life in the container he was hauling Saturday. It was the first mass fatality involving asylum-seekers in Ireland, which has been targeted by rings that smuggle people from poorer countries. The police said that they were not sure of the victims' nationalities but were interviewing a 17-year-old survivor who spoke Turkish. The deaths highlighted the great risks that many people run in their efforts to enter western European countries illegally. Like others, Ireland has tightened its security at ports of entry and toughened deportation laws to try to stem the human tide. Last year, 58 Chinese people were found suffocated in the back of a truck at the southern English port of Dover. The Dutch driver was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 14 years in prison. The refugees heading to Ireland were hidden inside a container carrying office furniture that made a journey across Europe. The container was loaded in Italy, shipped by rail to Belgium, and left Tuesday from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge bound for the southeast Irish port of Waterford. "It's very difficult to say how long they may have been in that container," said Superintendent John Farrelly, a police spokesman. The trucker loaded the container onto his vehicle Saturday morning at Waterford port, Superintendent Farrelly said, then stopped at a business center about 65 kilometers (40 miles) away and heard faint sounds of pounding and moaning. Inside he found eight people dead, five adults and three children, and five people seriously ill, apparently suffering from lack of oxygen. The dead were four men, a woman, a boy of about 4, and a boy and girl, both about 10 or 11, the Irish police said. The survivors, a woman and four men between 17 and 35 years old, were taken to nearby Wexford General Hospital. Superintendent Farrelly ruled out the possibility that the refugees had got into the container themselves. "The people in the container have been assisted in some way, because of the tampering with the seal," he said. He said the Irish police would work with their counterparts in Belgium, Germany and Italy to try to trace the people who arranged for the people to be smuggled inside. "All the police forces in Europe are aware of the situation," he said. "Let's hope we will find those people responsible, and this will never happen again." Ireland traditionally suffered from mass emigration, not immigration. But that changed dramatically in the late 1990s once word spread about the country's booming economy and lax immigration controls. In recent times an average of 1,000 people a month have arrived illegally, about half of them from Romania and Nigeria. The government has established refugee camps throughout the country for people to wait while their asylum claims are processed. But most cases end in deportation. The government has also sought to deter the traffic, most dramatically by striking a deal with France to deploy Irish police officers at French ferry ports where hundreds of would-be-immigrants had been boarding passenger ferries each week.
©International Herald Tribune

Umberto Bossi, the rightist minister of reforms, urged Italy on Sunday to protect its culture and kick illegal immigrants out of the country. At a rally in central Milan, Mr. Bossi told members of his anti-immigration Northern League that diversity was fine, but that letting people into Italy indiscriminately was akin to opening the doors to crime and diluting the national spirit. "The League knows how to deal with diversity, we aren't afraid of it," Mr. Bossi told flag-waving supporters who arrived in a convoy of coaches from all over northern Italy. "If racism is being afraid of diversity, the League is not racist. But we want precise rules to control it."
©International Herald Tribune

White-power pamphlets, anti-Arab phone calls. Is the city a haven for extremists? Not quite, police say.

The National Alliance -- a white supremacist, anti-Semitic organization -- has spread hate propaganda here several times in the past few weeks. Muslims have received anonymous phone calls berating them for their religious beliefs and presumed national origins. Neo-Nazis are suspected of beating and harassing homeless people. These recent episodes have upset and angered residents, but the police and others who monitor hateful people and their actions say there is no reason to think St. Petersburg has become an extremist cauldron. In fact, groups such as the National Alliance often are top heavy rather than teeming with rank-and-file members. If there are any present in the city, their numbers are few. Officials say spur-of-the-moment intent likely is driving much of the activity. The alliance pamphleteers, who may see the Sept. 11 attacks as a chance to prey on fear and perhaps win converts to their cause, may not even live permanently in St. Petersburg, officials say. "They aren't here in town. Members may live here sometimes, or visit, but the real strength is somewhere in the middle of the state, the folks who really kind of lead," said St. Petersburg police spokesman Rick Stelljes. Nonetheless, St. Petersburg police and other agencies have been investigating.

At least four times since October, someone has distributed anti-Semitic and racist fliers in northeast St. Petersburg neighborhoods. The fliers bear the logo and address of the National Alliance, whose headquarters are in Hillsboro, W.Va. It has been described as one of the nation's most dangerous extremist groups, based on a member's involvement in a failed bombing scheme near Orlando four years ago. The most recent reports came from residents of Venetian Isles and Riviera Bay, who said handbills showed up in their neighborhoods on Nov. 30. Some lay on the ground and some were placed on vehicle windshields. Some had been placed between plastic protectors. "It's not only the nature of the message and the organization itself. They took the liberty of coming on our property," said an indignant Richard Davis, a Venetian Isles resident. He called police and his neighborhood association. A few days earlier, Old Northeast residents reported that fliers had shown up there on the same weekend, possibly on Dec. 1, a national AIDS awareness day. The messages were the same in all three neighborhoods: "Help stop the spread of this deadly disease. . . . Don't have sex with blacks." Another batch of fliers expressing anti-Semitic and racist opinion had hit the Old Northeast in October. No one in any of the neighborhoods saw who delivered the fliers. "The thing that's disturbing is that they're so low to stoop to this stuff at this very time, when tensions are pretty high. It's almost as though they want (other) people to be as miserable as they are," said Roy Kaplan, director of the Tampa Bay Chapter of the National Conference for Community and Justice. Arthur Teitelbaum, Southern director of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, said he has heard that fliers also have been distributed recently in Orlando. And though the Tampa Bay area is no longer listed on the National Alliance Web site as having a chapter, Teitelbaum said it would be "a reasonable guess" that a chapter exists here. "Its exact strength remains to be seen," he said. "These types of organizations tend to be very fluid in their membership, and they often have transition from one leader to another." The terrorist attacks have sparked other unpleasantry. Askia Aquil, director of Neighborhood Housing Services, said he has heard of numerous instances of harassment of Muslims and others. It comes via the telephone or in face-to-face encounters, he said. Aquil, a Muslim born and reared in St. Pe for confrontation and violence, National Alliance members are not known for street beatings. Bruce Alan Breeding was identified several years ago by the Anti-Defamation League as a National Alliance regional leader based in Tampa. Calling himself Vincent Breeding, he has been a guitarist for a death-metal musical group. Breeding, 33, also is a cyber warrior, operating Web sites and becoming a member of a variety of Internet news groups, where he has sometimes promoted National Alliance views. He has been the editor of the White Nationalist News Agency, an Internet digest linked to a white supremacist Web site called Stormfront. In 1998, Breeding escorted ex-Ku Klux Klansman David Duke during Duke's St. Petersburg visit. Breeding's whereabouts are uncertain. State records suggest possible residency in St. Petersburg, Tampa, Pasco County, Miami or Louisiana. He has spent time in Texas and, some watchdog groups say, in West Virginia with William Pierce, who founded the National Alliance in 1974. Pierce, 68, is a Rice University graduate and former physics professor at Oregon State University who wrote the notorious Turner Diaries, thought to be the inspiration for such figures as Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and Robert Jay Mathews, leader of the Order, a violent 1980s white supremacist group. Pierce recently purchased Resistance Records, a white power recording label. The alliance earned some of its reputation as a violent organization in 1997, when Orlando-area member Todd Vanbiber planned to start a race war by planting a series of bombs along Interstate 4. The scheme went awry when, according to court testimony, a pipe bomb Vanbiber was building exploded in his face on April 23, 1997. Vanbiber was later convicted of possessing explosives and was sentenced to 61/2 years in federal prison.
©St. Petersburg Times

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