ICARE Hate Crime News - Archive January 2009

Headlines 23 January, 2009


20/1/2009- Two Polish migrants have been injured in a vicious race attack, police have revealed. They were targeted in Antrim at the weekend, in broad daylight, by up to 10 men. The men were walking through the Bush Manor area of town at noon on Saturday when they were set upon by between eight and ten men — one armed with a hammer and another with a knife. One of the men was injured when he was struck several times with the hammer, his friend suffered a puncture wound when attacked with the knife. The PSNI said a racial motive was being investigated and appealed for anyone who witnessed the attack, or could help identify those responsible, to contact them. The victim’s injuries were not believed to be life threatening. Alliance Party leader David Ford hit out at what he branded the thugs who carried out the attack and said people in the town were appalled at the suggestion it may have been racially motivated. The South Antrim MLA said: “This is a deeply worrying incident. It appears that police are investigating a racist motive as one of their lines of inquiry. “I hope that the victims recover quickly and want to let them know that people in the town are thinking about them.”
The Belfast Telegraph



19/1/2009- In the early morning hours of Sunday, several neo-Nazis attacked a young Romani man in Prague. The attack took place in the vestibule of the Palmovka metro station, the news server Tn.cz reports. The Romani man, whose face was injured, was transferred to the orthopedic unit of the Na Bulovce Faculty Hospital. "I was waiting at the tram stop when I heard someone call for help," one eyewitness said to Tn.cz. She said that subsequently a young Romani man ran out of the metro exit completely covered in blood. "I did not have a mobile phone with me, so I asked the people standing nearby to call an ambulance," the woman said. The injured man said he had been attacked by a group of skinheads in the metro. Shortly after the incident, police officers began searching for the extremist group.
Romano vodi


Headlines 16 January, 2009


12/1/2009- The two firebombs were meant for the local synagogue. Instead, they blackened the facade and shattered the windows of an adjacent kosher restaurant in an ethnically mixed neighborhood north of Paris. No one was hurt and no group or individual claimed responsibility for the attack late Sunday night. But it was the third time a Jewish place of worship had been targeted by violence in France since Israel began a military operation in the Gaza Strip on Dec. 27. President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, whose government last week expressed concern about Middle East tensions spilling over into France, said Monday the attack would not "remain unpunished." During a meeting with religious leaders, Sarkozy "condemned in the strongest terms the unacceptable acts of violence committed under the pretext of the conflict," his office said. Home to both Europe's biggest Arab and Jewish populations, France has experienced sporadic flare-ups of anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim incidents. During the second Palestinian intifada that began in 2001, more than 2,000 Jews left France for Israel because they felt unsafe, according to estimates by Jewish community leaders in France. Meanwhile, scores of Muslim organizations reported a surge in Islamophobia. This time, Jewish and Muslim leaders were swift to appeal for calm in their communities. The rector of the mosque of Paris, Dalil Boubakeur, issued a statement Monday calling for "vigilance against all forms of provocation, wherever they may come from." "The Paris Grand Mosque calls on France's Muslim community to keep its calm in the face of the great emotion caused by the war situation in Gaza," Boubakeur said.

About 120,000 demonstrators - most of them protesting Israeli strikes on Gaza - took to the streets in France's largest cities on Saturday, the interior ministry said. About 200 people were arrested for acts of vandalism, but for the protests were largely peaceful. Still, 30 anti-Semitic incidents - ranging from offensive graffiti to a personal attack - have been reported by the Union of French Jewish Students in the 17 days since the war began. The incident at the synagogue in the Parisian suburb of Saint-Denis was not the only attack Sunday. In the eastern city of Strasbourg, a gasoline bomb was lobbed at a house used as an informal Jewish meeting place. And in the southwestern city of Toulouse, a burning car was rammed into a synagogue on Jan. 5. Concerns that the Middle East conflict will spread is not unique to France. In Britain, prominent Muslims have warned the government that anger over the Gaza conflict has reached "acute levels of intensity." Arson attacks against Jews have also been reported in Britain and Sweden, while in Denmark, a Dane of Palestinian descent recently fired shots at two Israelis.
The International Herald Tribune



Preacher under police protection after Gaza conflict raises tensions in poor Paris suburb

16/1/2009- Hassen Chalghoumi has devoted his life to bringing people together. For years he has preached the values of inter-faith harmony from his mosque in Paris's poor and fractious north-eastern suburbs, working with Jewish leaders, inviting them to his home and urging young people of all religions to embrace harmony in place of hatred. But today the imam, whose work has been hailed by religious and political leaders, was in fear of his life and under police protection in Drancy after the tensions lying dormant in his community were reawoken by the conflict over 2,000 miles away in Gaza. Enraged by his determination to show solidarity with the Jewish community at a time when they feel the battle lines are clear, unknown French Muslims have left death threats on his mobile phone. Some have stopped him in the street to warn him he is going "too far". His car has been vandalised and drenched in fuel. "It is very hard to work for rapprochement in such a climate," he said. "But it has to be done." In a fortnight which has seen the Palestinian death toll from Israel's assault exceed 1,000, the European country with the largest Muslim and Jewish populations has been served an uncomfortable reminder of the tensions that continue to divide it. Synagogues in several towns across France have been daubed with antisemitic graffiti. One in Lille was decorated with a swastika. Others have been attacked with petrol bombs and set alight. Dozens of people have been arrested after pro-Palestinian protests turned violent and Israeli flags were burned in the street. According to the French Jewish students' union, there have been 55 antisemitic incidents since 27 December. The police have not published an official list.

For those who live with the reality of modern French society, this wave of violence comes as no surprise. Though they have calmed since the second intifada earlier this decade, relations between the country's five million Muslims and 600,000 Jews are far from ideal. Observers say that while the Israeli assault has acted as a trigger for frustrations to surface the true cause of the violence is not to be found in Gaza but in France's own integration failures. "The conflict in the Middle East doesn't create tensions, it reveals them," said Dominique Sopo, president of SOS Racisme. "Those tensions were there long before." Since the beginning of the violence there has been a flurry of meetings between ministers, religious leaders and the security forces. Vowing to adopt a "zero tolerance" stance on antisemitism and Islamophobia, President Nicolas Sarkozy insisted France was an open country that welcomed all people as long as they abided by the rules. But Sopo said it was the rightwing administration's closed interpretation of national identity that was at the heart of the problem - a vision that implied "being French means being white and Catholic" and meant many French people found it easier to ally themselves with their religion than their nationality. "We have a government that persists in talking about a ring-fenced national identity. And … that leads to substitute national identities forming," he said. Faced again with displays of visceral anti­semitism in their home country, France's Jewish community has greeted the synagogue attacks as proof that prejudice remains rooted in society. "It's never really gone away," said Richard Prasquier, president of the Jewish Council of France. Rather than blaming the French state for failing to tackle its own social tensions, however, he said the antisemitism of the 21st century was fuelled by the spread of radical Islamist thought. "It is facilitated by parts of the media and by certain extremist imams," he said. "Bit by bit, it has started to establish itself in France."
The Guardian


Headlines 9 January, 2009


8/1/2009- There has been a rise in anti-Semitic incidents in Britain since the upsurge of hostilities in Gaza, a group that protects Jewish institutions said yesterday. The Community Security Trust (CST) said it recorded 24 incidents since December 29, including 19 in London. They included an attempted arson attack on a synagogue in northwest London on Sunday night. "There has been a significant rise in the number of anti-Semitic incidents, especially when compared with what is usually a very quiet time of year for racist, anti-Jewish attacks," said CST spokesman Mark Gardner. On New Year's Eve, a gang of youths alarmed residents in Golders Green, a predominantly Jewish district in northwest London, by trying to enter Jewish shops while shouting "Jew" at individuals, Gardner reported. In the same district, a Jewish man was pulled from his car and assaulted by three men, but not seriously hurt. Gardner said the CST has also noted anti-Semitic graffiti in Jewish areas across London, with slogans sprayed on walls including "Kill Jews." Most of the handful of incidents outside London were in cities in northwest England. They included the daubing of graffiti on a synagogue, anti-Semitic hate mail and the words "Hamas HQ" painted on a Jewish building in Manchester.



6/1/2009- A gang of thugs beat teenagers from the Nepalese community with baseball bats in a suspected racist attack. The beatings happened in the Brighton Hill area of Basingstoke as a group of five friends were walking home after finishing work at a local restaurant. One of the victims, a 16-year-old who does not wish to be named for fear of reprisals, said the attack was completely unprovoked and followed a torrent of racist jibes. He said he and his friends had stopped off at Asda to get money for bus fares from a cash machine. However, outside the store they noticed a small group of teenagers giving them “evil looks”. As they walked away towards Quilter Road at about 9.30pm he said they were suddenly surrounded by a larger gang of about 12 youths. The youths began shouting racist abuse and several pulled out baseball bats and began hitting the Nepalese youngsters. The victim said he was punched in the face and hit with a broken baseball bat on the leg, which left him with bruising and cuts. He said others in the group required stitches for head injuries. The assaults took place last Monday. His father said although he and his family, who live in the Oakridge area of Basingstoke, have been called bigoted names before, he feared the beating was a worrying development. He said: “We don’t feel safe any more. These people have to be caught to stop it happening again. We can’t ignore this.” The young victim, who is studying IT at Queen Mary’s College, in Basingstoke, said: “The gang just started on us. “Now I’m scared to go out.” He said he doesn’t feel safe even if he is with a group of people.

Captain Indra Gurung, secretary of the Basingstoke Nepalese Community, who served with the 1st Royal Gurkha Rifles, called the attacks “horrible and saddening”. He added: “The community strongly hopes the police and local authorities will do their best to bring the culprits to justice.” Captain Gurung told The Gazette there are more than 600 people of Nepalese descent living in Basingstoke, many of whom have fathers or relatives who are current or former Gurkha soldiers in the British Army. Chief Inspector Jill Baldry, commander of the Basingstoke and Deane district of Hampshire Constabulary, said: “If during the course of the investigation the incident is discovered to have been a racist crime it will be dealt with accordingly to the highest possible standards. “Safer Neighbourhoods teams across the Basingstoke district are working hard to promote community cohesion for everyone living in the area.”
The Basingstoke Gazette



8/1/2009- Fears that the conflict in Gaza could spark violence between Jews and Muslims in France have been heightened as three teenagers were arrested yesterday for an alleged anti-Semitic attack on a 15-year-old girl. An inquiry was launched after the victim said she was insulted, knocked to the ground, kicked and punched by a gang of 10 youths as she left Leon Blum school in Villiers-le-Bel north of Paris. Three of her alleged attackers - aged between 13 and 15 and all from her own school - were arrested on suspicion of 'aggravated violence and anti-Semitic insults’, according to a police source. The girl said they had told her they were seeking to avenge Palestinians in Gaza as they set upon her on Monday. Although she escaped with only minor injuries, the incident has fuelled claims by Jewish community leaders that radical Muslims are seeking to ’import the Middle East conflict’. Richard Prasquier, the chairman of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France, said: ’All over France, people are reporting more and more anti-Semitic attacks. I am worried.’ The National Bureau of Vigilance against Anti-Semitism, said it had received about 100 reports of anti-Semitic insults and threats since the start of the conflict in Gaza. On Monday a stolen car was driven at high speed into the front gate of a synagogue in Toulouse, south west France, and set on fire. Police said they were seeking three suspects in connection with the attack, which was denounced by Michele Alliot-Marie, the Interior Minister, as ’totally stupid and revolting.’ In a separate incident, anti-Semitic graffiti was scrawled onto a synagogue in Lingolsheim, eastern France. A demonstration against the Israeli intervention in Gaza ended in clashes between police and protestors, who also ransacked shops in Paris on Saturday. With 4 million Muslims, 700,000 Jews, tense relations between two communities and a long history of urban riots, France is the European country most exposed to an outbreak of violence linked to the Middle East, according to many observers. Amid official concern that France’s tinderbox suburbs could explode as a result of Gaza, Mrs Alliot-Marie has ordered police chiefs to ’stop any attempt to transfer the Middle Eastern conflict to France. ’A certain number of facts...show that groups or individuals may try to exploit the situation,’ she told them in a letter this week. ’Everything must be done to avoid this risk and guarantee the principles which ensure national unity.’
The Times Online



06/01/2009- A synagogue arson has left police concerned the Jewish communities in Harrow and Brent could fall victim to anti-semitism. Brondesbury Park Synagogue, in Willesden, was set on fire on Sunday night in a “grotesque” attack which officers believe may have been a reaction to military action between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Police in both boroughs are now taking steps to protect residents, with increased patrols by safer neighbourhood teams. Councillor David Ashton, leader of Harrow Council, condemned the arson, in which no-one was hurt. He said: “I am deeply disturbed to learn of this attack on a synagogue in Brondesbury Park. “Whether or not the current conflict in Gaza was the motive, Harrow has a long and proud record of tolerance. “A misguided attempt to re-enact the tensions of the Middle East by choosing a soft target like a synagogue - if this was what this attack represented - is a grotesque manifestation of antisemitism.”

Borough commander for Brent Chief Superintendent Mark Toland said all his officers have been briefed about the conflict and the local safer neighbourhood team in contact with the synagogue. He said: “We would encourage people to be vigilant and to contact us if they see anyone acting suspiciously. In an emergency please call 999.” Borough commander for Harrow Chief Superintendent Richard Walton said his officers are working closely with the Community Security Trust (CST), a private security firm which works with police to protect Jewish interests in the UK. He said: “There are regular patrols happening around the synagogues, and I would like to re-assure all the communities in Harrow, and ask them to exercise restraint following what has been happening in Gaza.” But Azmat Ali, treasurer of Harrow Central Mosque, said he thought Jewish people and Muslims in Harrow had a good relationship. He said: “We've been praying for the people who have been killed on both sides, whether they are Palestinian or Israeli. “We are very concerned but I don't think there's a danger of anyone going out and attacking the Jewish brothers and sisters.” Sonoo Malkani, chair of the Harrow Police and Community Consultative Group, said: “The people of Harrow are logical and sensible people, and during these difficult times I would hope and believe that they will keep it that way. “There are some awful things that have been happening in Gaza, as well as the terrible attacks last month in Mumbai, and I would appeal to the people of Harrow to stay calm.” The attack in Brondesbury Park was one of between 20 and 25 incidents reported by CST across London thought to be expressions of anti-semitism triggered by the conflict. Other crimes range from racist graffiti to more serious offences.
Harrow Times


Headlines 2 January, 2009


28/12/2008- The UK's only Chinese-born parliamentarian last night challenged police and community leaders to defend a mixed-race couple targeted by neo-Nazis in Northern Ireland. Anna Lo, an anti-racist campaigner and member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, condemned arsonists who set fire to the family's home in Ballyclare, Co Antrim, early yesterday. It is understood the couple had been subjected to a race-hate campaign in the town over the last few months. Lo said that, if the victims of the attack wanted to stay in Ballyclare, the police and the local community should publicly rally around them. "If they wish to stay in the town after this dreadful incident, it is up to the police and local people to stand by them, to prevent them from being intimidated out of Ballyclare," she said. "Because to do nothing could hand a victory to these racist thugs." The South Belfast MLA and Alliance Party member added: "These neo-Nazi groups do exist in Northern Ireland and the time has come to root them out. In our new society these are the last people we need organising and spreading their message of hate around." She called for more to be done to counter the groups, which she said had been recruiting in loyalist areas over the last few years. "It is terrible that this couple were targeted, because the woman was from the Indian community. Indian people have lived and worked in Northern Ireland for decades. They have contributed to the business and social life of the province. They have brought a great deal to our society, unlike those behind the attack in Ballyclare, who have absolutely nothing to offer," she added.

A PSNI spokeswoman said that the two downstairs windows in the Ballyclare house were smashed soon after 5am yesterday, and a container of blazing flammable liquid thrown in. One of the householders fought the fire and managed to extinguish it before the fire service arrived. The couple were said to be uninjured but shaken by the incident, which police are treating a racist attack. The father of the male victim criticised the PSNI's handling of the situation. Speaking yesterday from New Zealand, former police officer John Bowler said: "This was preconceived. They had to think about getting a breeze block and petrol. I would describe the attack as attempted murder." He added that his son, and his wife Ajita, had been the targets of repeated racist abuse in Ballyclare, which the PSNI knew about.
The Guardian



2/1/2009- More racist flyers threatening migrants have surfaced. This time, an Eritrean man found one in his home. When 31-year-old Ephrem* entered his house after a hard day's work he was stunned by a piece of paper he noticed on a coffee table in his living room. The flyer warned the young Eritrean migrant to get out of the country or be killed and it had not been there when he left the house. The flyer was split into three parts, two of which were identical, apparently stuck together. Underneath a line of skulls, the first part of the flyer said: "To all of your parasites, so called illegal immigrants, leave our country for good or else blood and steel will do the justice with you and those who welcome you". The message printed in the second part of the flyer between two lines of skulls and crossbones said: "Illegal immigrant bummers we do not want you in Malta get out or we will start killing you K.K.K." The flyer is identical to notes that had been distributed at the open centres in Marsa and ¨al Far about two years ago. But they had not appeared since. It has not been established who had circulated the flyers. The young Eritrean, who came to Malta in September 2006 and was released from a detention centre in 2007, is terrified. He explained that his bag, containing his keys, police identification and a mobile phone, was stolen from him when he was out on Monday morning. He did not report the theft immediately as he had to go to work - he works on commission.

After finishing work, he stopped to pick up the spare key from his friend and walked into his house at about 11p.m. When he walked into his sitting room, he found the flyer. Fearing for his life, he refused to stay at home and went to sleep at a friend's house. "They entered my house using my keys and I didn't want to sleep there," he said. On Tuesday, he went to file a report at the ¨amrun police station informing them about the theft and the flyer he found. "I don't know who could have done this to me. I never had any trouble with anyone," he said. The head of the Emigrants' Commission, Mgr Philip Calleja confirmed that the man was scared to death after the incident. "He came to show me a copy of the flyer just after he filed the police report. It is very sad that there are people who still don't understand the hardships and difficulties these immigrants faced," he said. The police confirmed that the migrant filed a report and said they are investigating the incident. *The name has been changed because the person asked to remain anonymous, fearing for his life.
Times of Malta


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