NEWS - Archive August 2015

Headlines 28 August, 2015

Spanish public radio removes show on Jews and Satanism amid outcry

Spain public radio RNE said it had removed an episode of a programme that linked Jews to Satanism from its website after receiving complaints from Jewish groups.

28/8/2015- "The director of Spanish National Radio (RNE), given the controversy and annoyance caused be the programme, has removed this episode from the Internet," a spokesman for the broadcaster, Carlos Garrido, told AFP on Thursday. The management of the station also apologised to the former spokesman for Israel's foreign ministry, Yigal Palmor, who "raised the problem" in an article in the Jerusalem Post, he added. The spokesman stressed that the programme was "radio fiction and in no way was a news segment." The half-hour programme "From the Inferno", which has been broadcast since 2009 in the early hours of Saturday, deals with myths about the devil throughout the ages. Episodes have dealt with devil myths in the Third Reich in Nazi Germany and during the Iraq war. The episode which sparked the controversy, called "The Jewish People: Propagator of the Satan Cult", was broadcast on July 25th.

The Anti-Defamation league, a New York-based organisation that fights anti-Semitism, said the broadcast included "slander" of Judaism lifted from the "Plot Against the Church", a book published in 1962 "filled with anti-Semitic rhetoric" that was written by a collection of Mexican priests under the pseudonym Maurice Pinay. "The fact that a vehemently anti-Semitic work filled with anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and slander made it to the Spanish airwaves is seriously troubling and warrants immediate condemnation from the Spanish government," the national director of the league, Jonathan Greenblatt, said in a statement. Greenblatt wrote to Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo to urge Madrid to publicly condemn the broadcast. "Strong action will convey the seriousness of the government's commitment to combat anti-Semitism and, we hope, deter future incidents," he wrote in the letter.


Austrian found guilty of Nazi Facebook post

A 28-year-old Austrian man who called for Jews to be gassed in a Facebook post was sentenced to eight months in prison on Tuesday by Wels Provincial Court.

26/8/2015- The defendant, who was found guilty of incitement, posted a message on Facebook last September referring to the conflict in Gaza that read: “Show no photos of our dead brothers, children, women. Show only photos of their women and children...”. He is also said to have written: “Death to the Jews, I would gas them”, “Hitler showed the world that he was right, Sieg Heil!”. A second defendant, a 26-year-old man who commented on the post with the words “Sieg Heil! Adolf Hitler”, was acquitted by the court. Both men were born in Turkey but have Austrian citizenship and live in the city of Wels. They both held previous convictions for unrelated offences and neither is thought to have connections to right wing scenes. The message was posted on Facebook while the 28-year-old was living in a drug treatment clinic in Carinthia last year. Both men confessed to the postings during the investigation and the 26-year-old told the court that his comment had been “stupid” and added: “I'm sorry. I did not really mean it.”

Although the 28-year-old initially told police he had posted the “fun” statement, in court he claimed it had been written by his roommate, whom he said was a schizophrenic patient whose family followed Nazi ideology. In his closing remarks, however, the defendant said: “I would like to apologise. It doesn't matter who wrote it, I am simply sorry.” His lawyer stressed that his client suffered from “massive cognitive deficiencies” and the post was made as a result of “rashness”. The prosecutor, however, showed the court another Facebook post from the 28-year-old, which was not subject to the proceedings, that read: “The day will come when only the Aryans will be among each other. Blue eyes, blond hair, our leader is wonderful.” The sentence follows the conviction earlier in August of a 38-year-old father from Styria for making donations to a neo-Nazi website and writing posts that denied the holocaust happened and incited hate against Muslims.

The Styrian had registered on the website, which hosted different forums as well as selling Nazi memorabilia, with the name 'NS friend' and was active on the site between April 2009 and June 2012. Prosecutor Johannes Winklhofer told the accused that he had previously lied in court, in 2011. He said: “You said that you would have nothing more to do with this scene but it was not true, you made contributions to this website and were also registered on it.”
The Local - Austria


Croatian Army Petitioned to Adopt Fascist Slogan

President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic has immediately rejected a petition signed by 3,200 people calling for the army to start using the Croatian WWII-era fascist chant ‘Za dom spremni’.

25/8/2015- The petition urging legal changes ensuring that the Croatian Army uses the chant ‘Za dom spremni’ (‘Ready for the homeland’) at military parades was sent on Monday to Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic and the leader of the centre-right opposition Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ party. The ‘Za dom spremni’ slogan was introduced and used by the Nazi-aligned Independent State of Croatia during WWII, particularly by the notorious elite volunteer units of the Ustasa movement. Grabar Kitarovic immediately rejected the proposal. “The initiative is irresponsible, unacceptable and on the level of a provocation,” her office said in a statement on Tuesday. The organisers claimed that the petition was signed by some well-known public figures, academics, Catholic bishops, academics, former politicians and professional athletes.

The best-known is Australian-born Josip Simunic, a recently-retired footballer who played for the Croatian national team and chanted ‘Za dom spremni’ along with the crowd at a World Cup qualifier against Iceland in Zagreb in November 2013. Football’s world governing body FIFA gave Simunic a ten-game suspension and 24,500 euro fine in December 2013, effectively ending his international career with the Croatian team. The organisers of the petition claim however that the chant is actually an old Croatian salute and that by introducing it into the army, the country’s culture and tradition would be preserved. The idea of introducing it in the Croatian army was first initiated earlier this month on Facebook by the former commander of the wartime defence of the town of Vukovar in 1991, Branko Borkovic, alias ‘Little Hawk’.

‘Za dom spremni’ is still used by Croatian far-right groups and football fans, can also be heard on other occasions such as concerts and public protests. The chant is used along with the classic Nazi salute. The best-known example is the Croatian nationalist singer Marko Perkovic Thompson, whose popular 1990s war song ‘Cavoglave’, starts with the chant. The slogan was widely chanted when Thompson played to a packed crowd earlier this month in the town of Knin during the 20th anniversary celebrations of Croatia’s military victory in Operation Storm. Although police can file criminal or misdemeanour charges for public use of the chant, legal loopholes exist. The association representing former members of the 1990s paramilitary unit called the Croatian Defence Forces, which was later integrated into the Croatian Army, uses the slogan in its legal coat of arms, flag and seal.
Balkan Insight


Greece: Golden Dawn fuming over mandate snub

24/8/2015- Golden Dawn on Monday slammed a decision by the Greek President to hand the third exploratory mandate to a newly-formed SYRIZA splinter group, describing the gesture as a bid to undermine the power of Greece's neo-Nazi party. “The third exploratory mandate should be handed to Golden Dawn, not to non-existing parties that have not received a single vote from the Greek people,” MP Ilias Kasidiaris, who is also the party's press spokesman, told journalists Monday. President Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Monday invited former Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, leader of the newly-established Popular Unity party, to form a new administration within three days, part of the constitutional procedure set in motion by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s resignation last week.

According to the nation's Constitution, each of the three biggest parties is, in turn, given three days to form a government. Before the emergence of Popular Unity, the third largest grouping in parliament was Golden Dawn, which holds 17 of Parliament's 300 seats. Kasidiaris said the move amounted to a “constitutional deviation.” “They are refusing us the exploratory mandate thinking they can in that way curb the power of Golden Dawn. However, at the elections, the people will give an answer to those who are destroying Greece,” he said.
The Kathimerini.


Labour leadership frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn described an Islamic preacher who compares homosexuality to incest and paedophilia as a “very good friend”.

27/8/2015- Left-wing MP Mr Corbyn, who is currently the favourite to succeed Ed Miliband as leader of the Labour Party, has faced questions about his links to a number of extremist figures – though he has been a lifelong supporter of LGBT rights in Parliament. Mr Corbyn previously dismissed criticism for referring to Hamas and other groups as “friends”, claiming it is was a symbolic gesture – but a new video has emerged from 2013, in which he explicitly describes radical preacher Ibrahim Hewitt as a close personal friend. Hewitt is the author of controversial book ‘What Does Islam Say?’ – which compares homosexuals to paedophilia and incest. Speaking at a meeting for the Palestinian Relief and Development Fund, Interpal, Mr Corbyn said of Hewitt: “I’ve got to know Ibrahim Hewitt extremely well, and I consider him to be a very good friend. I would think he’s done a fantastic work in leading and guiding Interpal.”

Meanwhile, Hewitt’s book says of gay people: “If people have such desires, they should keep them to themselves, and control their desires to avoid forbidden practices. “The advice would be the same as, say, to someone who had sexual desires for minors or for close family: that having the desires does not legitimise realising them.” Referring to homosexuality as an “abominable practice”, he claims punishments “maintain the purity of the society and to keep it clean of perverted elements, allowing for the spiritual development of its members in an ideal environment”. It adds: “Those who seek to fulfil homosexual desires necessarily damage the very fabric of society which is why Islam condemns such practices.”

However, the preacher has denied advocating violence, claiming over a previous controversy: “I do not, as has been alleged, ‘advocate’ violence against homosexuals. What goes on behind closed doors is between the people involved and their creator. “However, if someone decides to make a political issue of their sexuality, then surely it is only to be expected that there will be people who disagree with them.” Leadership rival Yvette Cooper has previously accused Mr Corbyn of “legitimising” anti-gay extremists. He hit back: “I have met people in the context of discussions about the Middle East with whom I profoundly disagree. I have met representatives of the Iranian government with whom I profoundly disagree with on the human rights issues.”

“My point is, if you’re to bring about a long-term peace process in the Middle East, you have to recognise that… you’ve got to talk to people you don’t like, don’t agree with, don’t particularly want to be in power, but you have to recognise they have a degree of support, and move on there. What’s the alternative, continuing the war?”
Pink News


France cannot indulge the xenophobes on immigration (opinion)

EU member state divisions are growing unsustainable, writes François Heisbourg

27/8/2015- You thought the eurozone crisis was bad. Today, Europe faces no greater challenge than the mass exodus of refugees seeking a haven from the carnage in Syria and the turmoil in north Africa and the Sahel. It is equally clear that both the EU’s response and its institutions have proved woefully inadequate. The question of immigration, a visceral issue in the way the single currency is not, is driving a wedge between EU populations and their governments, between member states and indeed between the EU itself and the values on which it was founded. France — a country at the same time Mediterranean, Atlantic and continental — is at the heart of this new storm. It has a xenophobic and illiberal force all too keen to take advantage of popular fears about the impact of migration in the shape of the National Front, Europe’s largest extreme rightwing party, with a base representing some 25 per cent of the electorate. But, until now, Paris has not indicated that it has any clue how to cope.

The current scale of Europe’s refugee problem is daunting. More than 100,000 boat-people arrived in the EU just in the month of July alone. The bloc’s leaders have agreed no coherent response. A recent meeting in Berlin between President François Hollande of France and Angela Merkel, German chancellor, proved particularly bereft of content. The divisions between member states are growing unsustainable, with Germany, taking on board some 40 per cent of the EU’s new asylum seekers, while Britain only takes 4 per cent and France a scarcely less dismal 8 per cent. Meanwhile pleas by Brussels and Berlin for the EU to share out asylum seekers equitably between member states have fallen on barren ground. Each country is preoccupied with its own story — as Britain is, for example, with the rise of net migration to all-time highs. Beggar-my-neighbour stances by established parties and outright xenophobia by their insurgent challengers are on the rise.

The recent attack aboard a Thalys high-speed train between the Netherlands and France has further stoked fears of cross-border terrorism and mutterings about the Schengen area of passport-free travel. The deliberate conflation by demagogues of immigration, the refugee exodus, the spread of Islam and jihadi terrorism is as emotionally powerful as it is factually spurious. This is a backdrop against which a noxious force such as the National Front can prosper. It is France’s good fortune that the far-right group has largely sabotaged itself through the spat between Marine Le Pen, its leader, and Jean-Marie Le Pen, her father and the party’s founder. But Ms Le Pen and her forces have time to retrieve their position before 2017’s presidential elections, and are already dragging French politics towards the anti-liberal, anti-European right.

France needs a principled and more coherent alternative to the National Front; the EU needs a response to the immigration crisis that lives up to rather than falls short of its values. At present, most EU member states, France included, are not providing the systematic right of asylum to which war-refugees are entitled under international humanitarian law or by common decency. This may not matter to the National Front’s core electorate, but it does mean that mainstream policy has largely conceded defeat when it comes to values. Europe is better than this; so is France. Europe’s leaders need to live up to our responsibilities as humans and as neighbours, assume part of the burden, and talk straight to the electorate. Continued European and French fecklessness will only improve the far-right’s prospects of success, and deepen what is already an unprecedented crisis.
The writer is special adviser at the Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique, a Paris-based think-tank
The Financial Times


British Muslim drag queen braves backlash to inspire gay community

24/8/2015- Death threats are nothing new for Asif Quaraishi, but the gay Muslim hopes that a documentary about Muslim drag queens will encourage gay British Asians to come out of the closet rather than provoke a backlash against Britain's "hidden" community. The film "Muslim Drag Queens" follows the lives of Quaraishi and two other performers and explores the clandestine nature of Britain's gay Asian - or "Gaysian" - community. The police have promised to protect the drag queens and their families amid fears that the film, which airs in Britain on Monday, could fuel abuse and violence towards gay Muslims. "I am constantly worried and fearful, but we (gay British Muslims) have the right to be heard, share our stories and not be ashamed of who we are," said Quaraishi, dubbed Britain's first Muslim drag queen, who goes by the name Asifa Lahore.

There are as many as 150 Muslim drag queens across Britain, seeking to reconcile their sexuality with their faith, while challenging homophobia and taboos within Islam and attempting to gain acceptance within their communities. "I'm Pakistani, I'm British, I'm Muslim, I'm gay, and I'm a drag queen... people say these things shouldn't fit together but here I am - this is me," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Since the trailer for the film was released last week, Quaraishi said he had received hundreds of messages on social media, from young gay Muslims who were unaware of the "Gaysian" community as well as those in their fifties and sixties. "There is a whole hidden community living in Britain... now is the time to come out."

Just as drag queens led the fight for gay rights in Britain in the 1960s, Quaraishi uses his performances to campaign for "Gaysian" rights today - but his activism comes at a cost. The documentary opens with the 32-year-old, from Southall, west London, reading several abusive and threatening emails. "You call yourself a Muslim? You should be ashamed of yourself, and killed," one says. "You think I don't know where you live? You think I don't know who your mum is who your dad are? Carry on and you will be killed," another reads. But Quaraishi is unperturbed as he acts as a mentor and friend to other gay Muslim drag queens throughout the film, which culminates with him receiving the LGBT award at ceremony hosted by British magazine Attitude.

As one of the most high-profile figures and leading activists in the "Gaysian" community, Quaraishi said he wanted to speak to British Prime Minister David Cameron about issues facing gay Asians who are often ostracised by their communities. "I want to see more funding for charities that support gay Muslims and more public debates and roundtable discussions featuring faith leaders at government level," Quaraishi said.


UK: Far right groups are met with boos, heckles and house music as they try to protest

Around 40 members of the Far Right Infidels and Combat 18 groups came to Manchester attempting to hold an event in the city centre

22/8/2015- Members of far right groups were met with boos, heckles and house music as they tried to protest in Manchester today. Around 40 members of the Far Right Infidels and Combat 18 groups came to Manchester attempting to hold an event in the city centre. But they were met by a counter protest of anti-fascist activists, who drowned them out with jokes and house music on the edge of Piccadilly Gardens. In what was largely a peaceful event, activists and onlookers surrounded the small group and shouted jokes like ‘Master race? You’re having a laugh.” and “You don’t live in Cheetham Hill or Moss Side - you must be from Emmerdale.” Members of the far right groups, one dressed in a Ku Klux Klan costume, held flags aloft and threw bananas towards black and Asian members of the crowd, shouting ‘You’re not British anymore’.

A large police presence controlled the event and kept the two groups apart. Police horses and cordons of officers on foot were used to separate protesters, while riot vans and police dogs were kept on standby. The event, which started around 2.30pm, lasted around an hour before the far right groups were escorted onto a bus and driven out of town. As the vehicle pulled away, members of the far right groups threw pennies and other missiles at the protesters below and held up signs against the window. A crowd of around 200 anti-fascist protesters and passers-by, who had stopped to watch cheered and shouted ‘bye-bye’ as the bus drove away. The event passed off with minimal arrests. One far right protester was dragged out of the crowd and taken to a police van while an anti-fascist protester was also seen being spoken to by police.

Afterwards organisers of the anti-fascist counter-protest said they were pleased at how many people had turned out, and that shoppers and passersby who had seen what was going on had also got involved on the spur of the moment. Some campaigners had travelled to Manchester from Liverpool, where last week the far right group National Action were forced to cancel their White Man March after counter-demonstrations by anti-fascists. Emma Leyla Mohareb, 26, from Hattersley, in Hyde, from anti-austerity group The Party Protest, was one of the organisers of the counter demonstration. She said: “We don’t want them in our city. People shouldn’t feel ashamed of the colour of their skin. We are proud of our multicultural Manchester. “The atmosphere at the protest was brilliant - it was nice to see everyone say ‘no’ to racism in our city. The fascists were out numbered.”
The Manchester Evening News.


Netherlands: UN committee calls for changes to Zwarte Piet negative stereotypes

28/8/2015- The Dutch government should actively work to change the features of Sinterklaas’ helper Zwarte Piet which reflect negative stereotypes, according to a UN committee. The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination says in a new report on the Netherlands that even a ‘deeply rooted cultural tradition does not justify discriminatory practices and stereotypes’. For this reason, the state should work to promote the ‘elimination of those features of Black Pete which reflect negative stereotypes and are experienced by many people of African descent as a vestige of slavery’, the report says. The committee also urged the Dutch government to make sure that attacks on anti-Zwarte Piet protesters be effectively investigated and prosecuted. The Zwarte Piet issue was a small part of the report on the Netherlands which is produced every five years and looks at racism and discrimination in general.

The report called for the establishment of a national action plan to combat racism and discrimination and said measures should be taken to stop racist chanting at 
football matches. Efforts are also needed to stop the police discriminating when using stop and search procedures, the report said. In addition, the report singled out incidences of racist and xenophobic hate speech from extremist political parties and politicians. The committee is ‘particularly concerned about the sharp increase in discrimination against members of Jewish and Muslim communities’, the report said. Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-Islam PVV, is facing charges of discrimination and racial abuse for leading his supporters in an anti-Moroccan chant during last year’s local elections.

Read the full report

Read more at UN committee calls for changes to Zwarte Piet negative stereotypes

Read the full report
The Dutch News

Germany: 'Die Rechte': neo-Nazis demand attention in Dortmund

The small but relentlessly attention-seeking right-wing party "die Rechte" has managed to walk the line between legality and openly professed Nazi sympathy. Elizabeth Schumacher reports from Dortmund.

26/8/2015- While the Dortmund-based neo-Nazi group "die Rechte" or "the Right" is not Germany's largest group of right-wing extremists, they just might be the best at getting the media's attention. Last week they made the rounds on social media for a YouTube video in which they "patrol" a "gay cruising area" (a lonely-looking parking lot). The group is highly active, or at least good at making it look that way. But they are always careful to stay just inside the gray zone of legality - and can count on particularly good legal counsel from within their ranks. This is how so far they have managed to remain a recognized political party, unlike their predecessor organization NWDO ("National Resistance Dortmund"), which was banned in 2012. The symbols and actions they use may be close to the Nazi counterparts, which are banned in Germany, but they never quite cross the line.

Master media manipulators 'playing SS'
"They do something once, shoot photos, put it online, done," Birgit Miemitz of Dortmund's Coordination Center for Tolerance, Diversity, and Democracy told DW. Her office is often frustrated by the amount of attention given to these so-called "patrols" conducted by "die Rechte." For example, in the recent "gay cruising" YouTube video, or when they post picture of themselves claiming to help the elderly or kick drunks off of subway trains. Their attention-grabbing activities do not end with their social media campaigns, however. Earlier this year they led a series of weekly protests against the city for housing Syrian refugees, and terrorized the refugees' own protest camp. They managed to cause such security concerns at a political debate planned by local broadcaster WDR that the company had to shut down the live event and ask everyone to submit their questions via email. They were also barred from entering an election night event in May 2014 when, trying to celebrate a member of their party being voted to city council, they attempted to march in Nazi formation into the town hall. A few months later, they petitioned that same council for a list of all the city's Jewish citizens.
The Deutsche Welle.


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