NEWS - Archive October 2013

Headlines 25 October, 2013

Roma, Feared as Kidnappers, See Their Own Children at Risk

For centuries across Europe, children were raised on folk tales with a disturbing message: Wander into the woods and you risk being snatched by Gypsies.

25/10/2013- Such a warning seems like an anachronism from medieval times. But the stereotype of the child-stealing Gypsy was reawakened in recent days when a Roma couple in Greece were jailed on accusations that they had abducted a blond, green-eyed girl called Maria — or “the blond angel” in the Greek news media. This week, two blond, blue-eyed Roma children were taken from their parents in Ireland after suspicions that they had been abducted, too. The children in Ireland were quickly returned to their families after DNA testing confirmed that the Roma were their parents. In Greece, the police confirmed on Friday that Maria was the child of a Roma couple from Bulgaria. An investigation continues into whether Maria was sold, adopted or given to the couple as they have claimed.

Whatever the outcome, the Roma say that it is they who now live in fear — of having their children snatched for no reason other than their cultural identity or skin color. The cases, they say, have helped fan a sometimes violent backlash against the roughly 11 million Roma scattered across Europe. In an era of budget cutbacks and high unemployment, politicians on both the left and the right have singled out the Roma as emblematic of the problems of illegal immigration and have questioned whether they can ever be integrated. “Imagine if the situation were reversed and the children were brown and the parents were white, would they have ever been taken away?” said Dezideriu Gergely, the executive director of the European Roma Rights Center, based in Budapest. “The most dangerous consequence of the hysteria is that now we have to live in fear that our children can be removed from us on the basis of a wrong perception. No one should be profiled on the basis of their ethnicity.”

Mr. Gergely, a human rights lawyer who has a Roma father and a white Romanian mother, noted that many Roma, who arrived in Europe from India centuries ago and are also known as Gypsies, came from mixed families. He himself has light skin and blue eyes, which he said punctured the widespread stereotype that Roma have dark hair and dusky complexions. “It is mystifying that those accused of criminality are seen to represent the Roma community,” he said, noting that if people engaged in human trafficking it was because of severe poverty, not their cultural background. “Applying collective responsibility to the entire Roma community is unacceptable.” Despite such warnings, anti-Roma sentiment appears to be spreading., Serbian news media reported this week that a group of skinheads in Novi Sad, Serbia, tried to abduct a Roma child in front of his house last weekend because his skin was fairer than that of his father, Stefan Nikolic.

In Italy, the anti-immigrant Northern League responded to news of Maria’s supposed abduction this week by demanding inspections of all Roma communities to check for missing children. Gianluca Buonanno, a member of the Northern League in the Italian lower house of Parliament, said he had submitted a petition to the Interior Ministry demanding identification of camp occupants. “If it happened in Greece, it could very well happen here in Italy — maybe it’s happening already,” he said in an interview with Repubblica TV, shown on the Web site of the newspaper La Republica. Even before the cases, rights groups say, violence and intimidation against the Roma were intensifying. Earlier this month, a woman threw acid at a 2-year-old Roma boy and his mother in Naples, according to the European Roma Rights Center. In Hungary, at least seven Roma were killed between 2008 and 2010, and Roma leaders have counted dozens of firebomb attacks in the past.

In Greece, where the far-right Golden Dawn movement has been fanning anti-immigrant fervor, the head of the Greek Union of Roma, Yiannis Halilopoulos, said the sensational coverage in the Greek news media and the racial profiling that followed the removal of Maria had “taken us back 100 years.” “For the first time in years, I hear people shouting ‘Gypsies, thieves!’ when I walk down the street,” he said. He said he had also noticed more aggressive reactions to Roma who beg in the street: “Sometimes they shove them out of the way. I haven’t seen that in a long time.” Mr. Halilopoulos said many children in Roma settlements had light skin, blond hair and blue eyes. “What are you going to do? Take them all in because they don’t ‘match’ their parents?” he said. “That’s not racist, that’s stupid.”

In the Czech Republic, ultraright parties and their neo-Nazi supporters this year have organized about 30 anti-Roma marches, where some have chanted, “Gypsies to the gas chambers,” rights groups said. In France, where the Roma issue has flared amid a debate over immigration, the far-right National Front has made the Roma a central issue ahead of municipal elections in March. Its leaders have warned that if Romanians and Bulgarians were allowed to travel in the European Union’s passport-free Schengen Area, the country could see a flood of Roma immigrants. This month, President François Hollande intervened after a 15-year-old Roma girl, whose family was living illegally in France for five years, was pulled off a bus by the authorities and expelled to Kosovo. After loud protests, Mr. Hollande agreed to allow the girl to return, but only if she left her family behind.

Capturing increasing national frustration with the Roma, a prominent story in the April issue of the popular magazine Paris Match showed eight pages of photographs of young Roma pickpockets brazenly targeting tourists at bank machines, Metro stations and museums like the Louvre. But Roma advocates counter that if there is crime among some Roma, it is the byproduct of severe economic deprivation and social exclusion that allowed a minority of unscrupulous ringleaders to exploit poor people desperately eking out an existence on society’s fringes.

Livia Jaroka, 39, an anthropologist who has studied the Roma and is the only Roma member of the European Parliament, noted that many Roma were blighted by poor access to education and difficult health conditions. According to the European Commission, the life expectancy for Roma men in the European Union is 10 years less than the average of 76. Ms. Jaroka, who was born in Hungary, further noted that among the roughly 40 million people who were the most impoverished in Europe, the Roma were disproportionally represented. Mr. Gergely, whose musician father worked long days in a restaurant to help pay for his son’s law school education, said such statistics made the necessity for Roma role models imperative. But he said he feared that recent scaremongering about the Roma threatened to push successful Roma underground. “Many Roma are very anxious about identifying themselves as Roma, because there is a feeling that if you declare your ethnicity, you might suffer,” he said. “In most cases when Roma succeed, they prefer to remain invisible.”
The New York Times


'Downturn fuelling racism against Roma' - report

The economic downturn is fuelling racism against minority groups and the Roma community in particular, according to a report by the Council of Europe.

25/10/2013- The findings come at the end of a week where two Roma families had children taken from them due to doubts over their parentage, only for the children to be returned when these fears proved unfounded. The embarrassing episode has led to accusations in the Dail that racial profiling occurred. According to the report, published today, acute financial instability is pushing people “to seek easy targets of blame and makes them more open to extremist ideologies.” It found grievances increasingly aired against immigrants and Roma in particular, while Muslims were “frequently projected as a threat to national identity”. The increased use of the internet to spread racism was also noted as a worrying trend.

The findings – contained in the annual report of the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance – were made after monitoring visits to nine countries, including Ireland, in the past year. The council said its inspectors found “intolerance of Roma and discrimination in all fields of life.” In particular, it said Roma children often face obstacles accessing education. The Immigrant Council of Ireland said the report needed to be immediately considered by the Government. “The impact of the economic crisis and the targeting of minorities, such as Roma people in particular, is the main warning from the report. In particular there is a warning of hate speech and the perception that minorities are easy targets,” said Immigrant Council chief executive Denise Charlton. She said cyber racism now accounts for 16pc of complaints received by the council.

“Extremists often under false names seem free to spread their message of hatred with a click of a mouse,” said Ms Charlton. She said Ireland had a key role in combating this trend with some of the largest social media and internet firms headquartered here. The Council of Europe findings come just days after research by a UCD academic revealed over half of foreigners having experienced some form of discrimination since moving here – with gardai, judges, university staff, teachers and local politicians among the public figures accused of racist behaviour. A previous Council of Europe report from February which warned that Irish authorities needed to ensure racial profiling of immigrants did not occur and called for laws prohibiting the practice. It also said more effort was required to involve local authorities in a scheme to house members of the Traveller and Roma communities.
The Irish Independent


Neo-Nazi defendant does crosswords during trial (Germany)

Journalists at the trial of Beate Zschäpe, the woman accused of being part of a neo-Nazi murder cell, say she is showing little interest in the evidence being presented against her, choosing instead to do crossword puzzles and eat sweets.

25/10/2013- The far-right National Socialist Undergroud (NSU) terror cell is accused of the murder of nine people with migrant roots and a policewoman between 2000 and 2007. The trial in Munich of one of the key members of the cell, Beate Zschäpe, and others accused of facilitating the murders, entered its 50th day on Thursday. But news site Spiegel reported Zschäpe has been filling the long hours in the Munich court by completing crossword puzzles. Her associates Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt committed suicide in 2011, prompting Zschäpe to give herself up to the police. The focus of the trial has recently turned to the 2005 murder of Ismail Yasar, a 50 year-old man of Turkish origin who was shot dead at the doner kebab kiosk in Nuremberg where he worked. The Munich court had been considering the possibility that Zschäpe may have been behind an untraceable call to the emergency services shortly after the attack.

However, that likelihood was considerably reduced by the testimony of a Chemnitz policewoman who said that the untraceable caller did not make any utterance when put through. The court also heard from a police officer who examined the mobile home where Zschäpe's associates, Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt, committed suicide. Letters addressed to left-wing parties, media outlets and Turkish groups were found at the mobile home, along with wads of cash and USB sticks. The most disturbing discovery however was a 15-minute video containing clips from the pink panther cartoon series blended with television news reports about the murders. The handwriting featured in parts of the video is strongly suspected to belong to Mundlos and Böhnhardt. The court heard that the findings at the scene suggest “the cell had many more plans.”
The Local - Germany


Germany shows little sympathy for Italy on migration

Germany voiced little sympathy for southern EU countries' migrant problems at the summit on Friday (25 October), despite more drama in the Mediterranean.

25/10/2013- The Chancellor, Angela Merkel, said there is no question of changing the EU's basic rule, the so-called Dublin regulation, under which countries through which asylum seekers first enter the Union have to take care of them. She said there was a "long and thoughtful debate" on migration, in which Bulgaria, Italy and Malta spoke out. She also said that a special task force, which met for the first time this week, will in December propose how to help the Italian island of Lampedusa and how to build up Frontex, the EU's border-control agency. She indicated that southern states are not the only ones dealing with the problem, however. "I'd like to remind you the we have quite a large number of asylum seekers that we have accepted [in Germany] by European comparisons," she said. "We feel that Dublin is the basis on which we should work, and that we need to add some short term measures on Lampedusa and on the seas around Lampedusa … We have today not undertaken any qualitative change to our refugee policy," she added.

Merkel spoke some two weeks after almost 400 people drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea from north Africa to the small Italian island. On Friday morning, the Italian coastguard said it rescued over 700 boat refugees from Mediterranean waters. The official summit conclusions voiced "deep sadness" on the Lampedusa drowning. But like Merkel, they noted the response should be to stop boats coming instead of remodelling the EU's immigration system. They called for the "reinforcement" of Frontex and for "swift implementation" of Eurosour, a new surveillance system for the Mediterranean. They said new "strategic guidelines" for changing EU law will not be looked at before mid-2014. For his part, European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso told reporters that some EU countries pledged to give Frontex more money, boats and planes.

The meeting fell short of calls for EU solidarity issued earlier by Malta and Italy. But Maltese PM Joseph Muscat and Italy's Enrico Letta welcomed the result despite Merkel's wariness. Muscat said: "We got what we were really after: a specific timeframe [the December deadline for ideas on short-term actions]." "I think that we reached the key result that the issue has become a European issue, not simply an Italian issue, or Maltese, or Greek," Letta noted.
The EUobserver


Roma fears heighten after child abduction reports

25/10/2013- Reports of child abductions by Roma in Greece and Ireland is causing anxiety about a vigilante backlash against Europe’s most discriminated minority. Dezideriu Gergely, executive director of the Budapest-based European Roma Rights Centre, told this website on Friday (25 October) that a far-right group in Serbia tried to take the law into its own hands in the past few days. “During the weekend, there was an attempt by skinheads in Serbia to enter into a Roma community and take a child which had whiter skin than the family,” he said. The Roma couple did not hand over the child, despite the threats. Gergely pointed out that some couples have mixed families with children of differing skin colours and complexions. The Serb case is said to stem from negative media reports after a couple in Greece allegedly abducted a girl thought to be between the age of five or six.

Greek police on Monday had the couple arrested after DNA checks confirmed the child was not their biological daughter. The girl's biological mother is Bulgarian. The mother said she gave the jailed couple the child because of poverty, reports BBC. Authorities in Ireland this week removed two blond children from two different families with darker skin complexions. A two-year old boy and a seven-year old girl were later returned after DNA checks confirmed their biological links with the distraught parents. “There is a fear and anxiety whether the police will come, whether the state authorities will come, and check anyone and look at their children,” said Gergely of the two cases in Ireland.

Alan Shatter, Ireland’s minister of interior, on Thursday said Gardai, Ireland’s organised crime unit group, and Ireland’s Health Service, would be investigated for their conduct after taking the children. He said a report would be due out within two weeks time. Shatter told RTE’s Morning Ireland the case in Greece might have influenced the Irish authorities to take the children because their skin colour is lighter than their parents. Dublin-based Roma-rights group Pavee Point has requested an independent inquiry. “We are concerned that these type of incidents will fuel racism against Roma,” said the NGO on their website. Pavee Point has questioned the motives of the authorities. But in Italy, the far-right Northern League party has also jumped on the anti-Roma bandwagon.

Italian media report that MP Gianluca Buonanno, a Northern League politician, submitted a request to the Italian ministry of interior to verify the identities of children in all local Roma communities. “In many instances, we have reminded politicians not to scapegoat a population because extremists will see it as a green light,” said a contact at the human rights watchdog, the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. Last week, the Il Mattino newspaper, reported that a baby in the arms of a Roma woman in Naples suffered injuries from an apparent acid attack.
The EUobserver


UN drops Black Pete 'racism' charge against the Dutch

Unesco official assures the Dutch that their Santa Claus traditions will not be investigated for racism

24/10/2013- The Dutch tradition of Santa Claus and his blacked-up servant, Black Pete, is safe from United Nations interference, a Unesco official has assured Holland. In mid-November, Saint Nicholas, or Santa Claus, who is white, arrives by steamboat in Amsterdam bringing presents for children helped by mischievous servants dressed as pageboys, wearing black make-up, curly wigs and with large, painted on red lips. A Facebook site defending Zwarte Piet and the Dutch festival of Sinterklaas, which gave rise to the Christmas tradition of Santa Claus, has become the country's most popular ever. The page, attracting over a million likes in just one day, followed a letter from the UN's human rights body announcing an investigation and warning the Dutch that the character is a "racist stereotype". Marc Jacobs, a Belgian Unesco representative, the UN's cultural organisation, has denied that the Jamaican who signed the letter, was authorised to do so.

"She's just a consultant who abused the name of the UN to bring their own agenda to the media. All the hoopla that Shepherd has caused with her letter is nothing more than a bad move in the game of pressure groups in the Netherlands," he told the Algemeen Dagblad newspaper. The letter, on headed, official UN high commission for human rights paper, was sent to the Dutch government expressing concerns over the tradition and accusing the authorities of failing to react to complaints of racial discrimination. Verene Shepherd, who said she was the chairwoman of a UN investigation into the Sinterklaas festival earlier this week called on the Dutch to ban Black Pete. "People in the Netherlands cannot see that this is a throwback to slavery, and that in the 21st century this practice should stop," she said.
The Telegraph


Zwarte Piet is a throwback to slavery, says UN working party chief (Netherlands)

22/10/2013- The head of the UN’s human rights committee said in an interview with television show EenVandaag that she would object to the character of Zwarte Piet if she lived in the Netherlands. Verene Shepherd, who is Jamaican, said in the interview that the UN working group cannot understand why 'people in the Netherlands do not see this is a throwback to slavery and that in the 21st century this practice should stop.’ Last week it emerged the committee is looking into the Sinterklaas celebrations and the role of Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) following complaints that it is racist.

‘As a black person, if I were living in the Netherlands I would object to it. As a member of the working group, I am obliged to do further investigation,’ Shepherd said. ‘If we find out our information is wrong, we will change our position. But the information we have at the moment from the people of the Netherlands is that it is racist, a throwback to slavery and it should not happen.’ Every year the discussion flares up about the role of Zwarte Piet, played by a white person in black face make-up with a wig, red lips and gold earrings. This year protestors are trying to have the traditional Sinterklaas procession in Amsterdam banned because of the role of Zwarte Piet. This year’s procession is expected to include 500 Zwarte Piets. Meanwhile, research by opinion pollster Maurice de Hond shows 92% of the Dutch do not associate Zwarte Piet with slavery and 91% oppose any efforts to change his appearance. In Amsterdam, however, 65% oppose efforts to make Zwarte Piet less of a stereotype.
Dutch News


Ukraine nationalists' flag stunt vexes FIFA

25/10/2013- FIFA criticised Friday attempts by controversial Ukrainian party Svoboda to exploit a visit to its Swiss base, as campaigners called for a clampdown on far-right displays in Ukraine's football stadiums. "We fully regret any attempts by the said group to manipulate or link their political ideas to FIFA within the scope of an informal visit," a spokesman for world football's governing body told AFP. The behaviour of Ukraine fans is in focus as the 2014 World Cup playoffs against France loom, and in the wake of incidents during qualifying matches. A delegation from Svoboda including lawmaker Ihor Miroshnychenko -- known for an anti-Semitic outburst against Ukraine-born Hollywood star Mila Kunis -- visited FIFA's Zurich headquarters earlier this month. He and a fellow lawmaker had their photograph taken with Walter De Gregorio, FIFA's communications and public affairs chief, which FIFA said was unplanned. The two politicians also posed inside FIFA's building with a large red-and-black flag.

The flag, whose colours stand for blood and soil, is commonly used by Ukrainian far-right and nationalist groups and is in the spotlight of match monitors from the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network. FARE was mandated by European football's governing body UEFA to draw up a list of xenophobic and offensive symbols in the run-up to Euro 2012, hosted by Ukraine and neighbouring Poland, and the flag was among them. "Governing bodies such as FIFA, as well as national federations, have a responsibility not to let football become a tool for legitimising extremism," Rafal Pankowski of Poland's Never Again Association, part of FARE, told AFP. "We put a lot of effort into eliminating racist and far-right behaviour from Polish and Ukrainian stadiums before, during and after Euro 2012. It would be a shame if the racist extremists are allowed a foothold in Eastern European football again," he added.

FIFA, which has beefed up its anti-racism drive this year, insisted campaigners had no cause for worry despite the flag stunt. "FIFA fully recognises its responsibility to lead the way in abolishing all forms of discrimination in football," a spokesman said. The flag was the banner of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UIA), which during World War II massacred Poles and Jews and allied with Nazi Germany. But Svoboda and others claim history has been slanted against the UIA, which also fought the Soviets in a vain effort to win independence, and say honouring its memory in stadiums and elsewhere is legitimate. Svoboda, whose supporters range from neo-Nazis and hardcore nationalists to mainstream voters weary of political horsetrading and corruption, is now the fourth-largest party in Ukraine's parliament. In a statement, it said it visited FIFA to hand over a dossier on the UIA's history and defend the flag against a potential ban.

The visit came ahead of Ukraine's home World Cup qualifier against Poland on October 11 in Kharkiv, where fans' flags sparked outrage. "People can have different views on the history of Ukraine, but to display such flags at a game against Poland is clearly hostile," said Pankowski. The incident came after monkey chants against Brazilian-born Ukraine player Edmar by his own fans during a September 6 home qualifier against San Marino, plus Nazi salutes and the display of SS symbols. FIFA ordered Ukraine to play their next qualifier behind closed doors and imposed a five-year ban on international matches in Lviv, the western city which is the hub of the nationalist movement. The sanction was suspended when Ukraine appealed, and the case will not be heard before the World Cup playoffs on November 15 and 19, FIFA said.


Ukraine Jews see alleged beating of Jewish man as symptom of mounting nationalism

22/10/2013- The police station on Stefan Bandera Street in Lviv used to be just another government building to Dmitry Flekman. But that changed earlier this month following a nine-hour interrogation by two detectives, who were accused of torturing and humiliating the 29-year-old Jewish businessman. It’s an incident that some see as indicative of rising nationalism and anti-Semitism in Ukraine. “Many people here want to move away from Soviet days to the Western model, but that can only happen if the fundamental rights of law-abiding people like me are respected,” Flekman told JTA last week. “To me, it’s a symbol of injustice.”

Flekman’s ordeal began Oct. 1, when the officers arrested him on his way back from the bank. At the police station, Flekman says, the officers tried to extort $10,000 from him. “They picked on me because they thought they could get money out of it, but it turned anti-Semitic when they discovered my mother’s maiden name is Rosenberg,” he said, adding, “One of them told me he’d do to me what Hitler did and beat me.” After the first beating, one of the officers urinated on Flekman and fractured his tailbone with blows to the back, Flekman told prosecutors. Flekman also said the officers forced him to sit on the floor, explaining the chair “was not for stinking Jews.”

Ukrainian authorities have not named either detective. Flekman eventually was released and collapsed on the street, where passers-by helped him get to a hospital. Police said he was not harmed during his arrest, but the Lviv Prosecutor’s Office has opened a criminal investigation based on medical reports that show his injuries “could only have been caused by blows with a blunt object.”

Anti-Semitic assaults are rare in Ukraine. But the severity of Flekman’s beating and its timing — just days before a violent nationalist march and a major conference on fighting anti-Semitism, both in Kiev — underline the growing vulnerability of the Jewish community in a country riven by a cultural and linguistic divide and beset by growing nationalism. “This is a case of anti-Semitism by state officials, which makes it extremely serious,” Meylakh Sheykhet, a Jewish human rights activist, told JTA. “Maybe western Ukraine has a special anti-Semitism problem; I don’t know. It’s complicated.”

Lviv is considered the cultural capital of western Ukraine, a Ukrainian-speaking region that was part of Poland before World War II and is the locus of much of the country’s nationalist and xenophobic sentiment. Jews primarily reside in the Russian-speaking East. The precursor to the ultranationalist Svoboda party was founded in Lviv in the 1990s, and the city remains a hotbed of support. Svoboda, whose leaders routinely use anti-Semitic slogans and refer to Jews as “kikes,” entered parliament for the first time last year, winning 10 percent of the vote to become the country’s fourth largest party. The party won 38 percent of the vote in Lviv, compared to only 17 percent in Kiev.

Oleksandr Feldman, a member of parliament and president of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, declined to comment on the Flekman case, but he acknowledged that Jews feel increasingly targeted by nationalists emboldened by Svoboda’s success. “Even if Svoboda is not perpetrating the attacks, their activities strengthen the anti-Semitic sentiments we are trying to counter,” Feldman said. Last week, Feldman organized a conference in Kiev to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the acquittal of Mendel Beilis, a Jew that czarist authorities tried to frame for the “ritual murder” of a Christian child. Hundreds of local and foreign dignitaries listened as speakers related the history of anti-Semitic blood libels. “There is anti-Semitism in Ukraine and we need to fight relentlessly,” Feldman told JTA. “But there isn’t the state anti-Semitism that existed a century or even a few decades ago.”

Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Oleksandr Vilkul said at the conference that the country has made “huge progress in safeguarding minority rights.” But some critics charge that Ukraine hasn’t done nearly enough to combat anti-Semitism. Efraim Zuroff, who heads the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Jerusalem office, said the street where Flekman was assaulted, named for the nationalist Ukrainian politician Bandera, is a reminder that Ukraine refuses to fully confront the lessons of history. The center has protested the honoring of Bandera, whose troops are believed to have killed thousands of Jews when they were allies of the Nazis in 1941.

But little progress has been made, as many Ukrainians consider Bandera a hero because he fought Russian communists in a failed effort to prevent the country’s annexation by the Soviet Union. “Glorification of Nazis and extremist nationalism is part of an atmosphere that affects Jews on the ground,” Zuroff said. Even as guests were convening for the conference, Svoboda was organizing its annual Oct. 14 march honoring Bandera. The march had become an important date for neo-Nazis since Svoboda started organizing it in 2005. This year, the march featured masked men who clashed with communist protesters in several violent scuffles in Kiev.

Such activity has been part of a wider rise of far-right nationalist parties throughout Central and Eastern Europe in recent years. Hungary’s Jobbik party and Golden Dawn in Greece have adopted anti-Semitic imagery and slogans as part of their wider resistance to ethnic minorities and the encroaching authority of the European Union. But historic animosity between Ukrainian nationalists and like-minded groups in nearby countries have created unexpected setbacks for Svoboda’s efforts to forge alliances with other nationalist groups. As a result, Svoboda has become increasingly isolated from pan-European alliances in which Jobbik is active. “There is very little that Europe’s rising extreme-right forces have in common,” said Rabbi Andrew Baker, the American Jewish Committee’s director of international affairs, “except the thread of anti-Semitism woven through all of them.”
JTA News


Far-right party the only party targetting working class (Czech Rep.)

23/10/2013- Workers are almost completely missing on the lists of candidates of Czech parties, including the leftist ones, Petr Zidek writes in Lidove noviny (LN), adding that the only exception is the far-right Workers' Party of Social Justice (DSSS), which is very disquieting. Zidek writes that the lists of candidates, or people who have the ambitions to manage this country after the October 25-26 early general election, create a noteworthy picture of Czech society. It is not much surprising that the lists contain mainly current politicians, mainly those on the community level, Zidek writes and adds that no democracy, not excluding the Czech one, is resistant to the strong law of oligarchy, Zidek writes. He writes that in terms of professions, businesspeople, lawyers, doctors, teachers and managers dominate the lists of candidates across political parties. Workers are absent from almost lists of candidates, which is particularly striking for Social Democrats (CSSD), Zidek writes. He writes that there are only five workers among the party's 200 candidates, and they are placed at the bottom of the lists.

The DSSS is the sole party giving greater space to professions like charwoman, petrol station attendant, warehouseman, locksmith, or driver, Zidek writes. He writes that the Czech Republic may be faced with a big problem if only a xenophobic far-right party is capable of enlisting the lowest strata of working people. Zidek writes that every candidate can probably state anything in the Profession column on the candidate's form. Otherwise the candidates could not so often mistake their profession for their political or even party post (mayor, governor, party chairperson), relation to the social system (pensioner, on parental leave) or even a sporting achievement (European swimming champion is running in Prague, the world vice-champion in the same event is running in Brno), Zidek writes. He writes that the state does not regulate what candidates write about themselves in the Profession column, but it bans the publication of pre-election party preferences polls three days ahead of the elections.

Zidek writes that it is noteworthy that the Constitutional Court did not long ago abolish this nonsensical law that is evidently discriminatory. The law does not ban conducting the polls, only their release. But those who have enough money and interest to know the election result beforehand can order their own poll. Besides, the posting of a poll on the Internet outside the "cz" domain is not punishable in any way, Zidek writes.
The Prague Daily Monitor


RSS feed
Suggestions and comments please to