Headlines 26 February, 2010
BULGARIAN GETS 18 YEARS IN JAIL OVER USA ANTI-JEWISH HATE CRIMES
26/2/2010- Bulgarian, Ivaylo Ivanov, has been sentenced to 18 years in jail for hate crimes and felony weapons charges by Brooklyn Supreme Court in the US. Ivanov, who was arrested in 2008, had already pled guilty to the crimes earlier in the month which led to the automatic 18 year sentence. However, he did appeal to the judge on Thursday to give him the chance of getting out 2 years early – an appeal that was refused, brooklyneagle.com reported. “My intent and my motivation … [for] committing this hate crime was not based on anti-Semitism; it was the opposite,” Ivanov, who wore a Jewish yarmulke to court, said before being sentenced for spray-painting swastikas and scattering anti-Semitic leaflets around Brooklyn Heights in 2007. Ivanov apologized repeatedly to the Jewish community before sentencing, saying that the cache of guns and bombs he had stored in his home weren’t intended to hurt anyone. Ivanov’s lawyer criticized the sentence as “a bit overboard” and added that Ivanov’s actions had been clouded by the use of amphetamines.
SEOUL CALLS ON MOSCOW FOR MEASURES TO BLOCK HATE CRIMES (Russia)
20/2/2010- The South Korean government requested Moscow to take stronger security measures to prevent hate crimes against its citizens living in Russia. The move was prompted by an attack on a college student earlier this week that resulted in his death, the South Korean media reported on February 19, citing Foreign Ministry officials. "We urged both the central and local governments of Russia to take measures to help prevent any hate crime from happening again," an official said. "The government expressed its concerns over the gravity of this incident and the negative impact it could impose on the relationship between the two countries," said a dispatch from the Yonhap News Agency. The 22-year-old South Korean, identified only by his surname Kang, was attacked by three youths in Barnaul and died in a hospital on February 18, according to media reports. All three suspects have been arrested. Local police believe that the attack was a racially motivated, as no cash or valuables were taken. Kang was on an exchange student program at a national college of education in Russia where 18 other South Koreans are also enrolled. Now all of them are scheduled to return home.
NEO-NAZI SKINHEADS JAILED IN RUSSIA FOR RACIST KILLINGS
25/2/2010- A court in Moscow has sentenced nine members of a neo-Nazi skinhead gang to prison terms of up to 23 years. The gang members, most in their late teens, were found guilty of a string of brutal and very public murders. The skinheads targeted people of Central Asian origin and posted videos of their attacks on the Internet. Russia has seen a surge of racially-motivated attacks in recent years. In 2009 alone, neo-Nazis are believed to have killed more than 70 people.
The nine neo-Nazis called themselves "The White Wolves". They sought out Central Asian migrants, and attacked them in Moscow's back streets. They clubbed some of their victims to death with wooden planks and killed others by repeatedly stabbing them with knives and screwdrivers. In one case, a glazier from Kyrgyzstan was stabbed 73 times, as the gang members shouted "Russia for the Russians!" and filmed the murder on their mobile phones. The jury heard the gang was responsible for at least 11 killings, possibly even more. And so - after five months of deliberations - came the prison terms: Twenty-three years for the gang leader and up to nine years for the others - the maximum prison term allowed in Russia for underage criminals. Human rights activists have welcomed the sentencing. They admit that the police are now cracking down on skinhead gangs. But even so, last year alone, dozens were killed, and hundreds injured simply for not looking Slavic, and for speaking with a foreign accent.
© BBC News
SHARP INCREASE IN HATE CRIMES 'AGAINST EVERY GROUP' (usa)
25/2/2010- He hoped to be the Obama Administration's "Maytag repairman" -- available but rarely called on. But Tom Perez finds the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division dealing with a sharp increase in hate crimes. "The data and my own experience is that hate crimes are on the rise: Hate crimes against every group are on the rise," Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, said in an interview Wednesday. Perez was in Seattle for a forum on bullying at Washington Middle School and meeting with judges and prosecutors at the U.S. Courthouse. He voiced concern, in particular, that hate crimes directed at Latinos are "on the rise" and recounted a prosecution recently brought in Trenton, N.J., against "DevilFish" -- a man sending e-mail threats to leaders of the National Council of La Raza and other Hispanic leaders. Why? "They had the audacity to stand up for immigration reform," Perez said. "We sent the FBI out to the guy to say, essentially, 'Cut it out! Stop your behavior.' But he only redoubled what he had been doing." The past few weeks have brought incidents of racially tinged speech, and racially charged reaction.
At the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville, immigration foe and former Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo charged that President Obama was elected because "we do not have a civics, literacy test before people can vote in this country." He drew a sustained ovation. The Chicago Sun-Times ran a three-day series, "Nuevo Chicago," on young Hispanics in the Chicago area. Its Web editors had to shut down commentary on the site due to a profusion of racist comments. In a commentary entitled "Bashers forget they were once immigrants," the Sun-Times commented: "Bigots love the anonymity of the Web, where they can say the dumbest things without getting punched in the nose. It's a problem online at every newspaper." But it added: "America's most popular sport is not baseball or football, but immigrant bashing." The Sun-Times quoted an 1855 Chicago Tribune commentary which decried "depraved, debased, worthless and irredeemable drunkards and sots" among the Windy City's Irish Catholics. Perez made a point similar to the newspaper's commentary. "We are all sons and daughters of immigrants," he said. "Immigrants have always been the lifeblood of this nation." And, he cautioned: "We should not confuse loudness of the opponents with the amount of opposition."
Perez is a veteran federal prosecutor who held high postings in the Clinton Administration, and worked in the 1990's as Sen. Edward Kennedy's principal adviser on civil rights and constitutional issues. In the past two years, Republican lawmakers have bailed out on support for immigration reform. Twenty-two GOP senators voted against confirming Perez to his Civil Rights Division post. Most famously, in 2008 Sen. John McCain said he would have voted against Senate passage of reform legislation of which he was an original co-author. McCain faces a challenge in this year's Arizona GOP Senate primary from former Rep. J.D. Hayworth, a longtime immigrant basher. Perez is hopeful, however, the partisan climate is temporary. He recalled that President Reagan was a champion of immigration. He worked on Congress' 1996 immigration reform bill, which Kennedy and Republican Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming crafted. "Immigration reform has always been bipartisan," he said. "I remain confident it can still be bipartisan." In a suggested response to the bashers, he evoked Microsoft, saying: "Ask Bill Gates about the importance of immigration in maintaining a state-of-the-art work force." Last year, 11 years after the murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard in Wyoming, Congress finally expanded the 1969 U.S. federal hate crime statute to include crimes motivated by gender, sexual orientation, sexual identity or disability. Perez said the nation is seeing "a steady stream of hate crimes directed at the gay, lesbian and trans-gendered community." "I had hoped," he said, "that hate crimes were a thing of the past."
© The Seattle Post-Intelligencer
ANTI-SEMITISM UP IN CANADA, DOWN IN GTA: JEWISH GROUP
B’nai Brith study records 1,264 incidents, 479 in Toronto region
24/2/2010- There were more anti-Semitic incidents in Canada in 2009 than in 2008, but fewer in the GTA, an annual audit by a Jewish advocacy group concludes. Anti-Semitic incidents occurred more often in Canada in 2009 than the previous year, but less frequently in the GTA, according to an audit by a Jewish advocacy group. B’nai Brith Canada recorded 1,264 such incidents nationwide in 2009, up 11 percent from 2008. Some 479 of the incidents took place in the GTA, down 11 percent from the previous year. Executive vice president Frank Dimant said the nationwide figure, the highest ever in the 28 years the audit has been carried out, demonstrates that anti-Jewish hatred continues to be prevalent in Canadian society. He downplayed the GTA decrease, for which he said B’nai Brith did not have an explanation. “I want to tell you that perhaps Torontonians are becoming more enlightened. I’d like to say that. But I’m not really convinced yet,” Dimant said at a news conference. “Given the wrong reasons, we’ll say, we can have spikes here as well in this community. So I don’t take great, great heart just because we’ve gone down in one area.” B’nai Brith’s definition of “incident” includes both criminal offences, such as assault, and non-criminal “harassment,” such as anonymous postings on websites and Facebook. Of the 1,264 total incidents, 32 involved violence, up from 14 in 2008; 435 took place online; 50 targeted synagogues; 111 targeted homes. Incidents rose by 59 percent in Montreal, a spike responsible for much of the overall nationwide increase.
Incidents in the GTA included an assault on a 13-year-old by students who made a Nazi salute. A synagogue, a playground and a storefront were defaced; in the latter case, the owner received a letter from someone who threatened to “blow (the) heads off” Jews. In another incident, workplace emails circulated blaming Jews for creating swine flu. B’nai Brith recorded 16 incidents involving violence in the GTA, up from seven. Dimant spoke at length about what he deemed a “hatefest” on university campuses; the audit said York University, where pro-Palestinian students have frequently clashed with pro-Israel students, was the site of “several of the most serious incidents of 2009.” B’nai Brith learned of about three-quarters of all incidents from people who submitted information via its hotline or website. Reports peaked in January, which also marked the peak of Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip. Anti-Semitism in Canada, B’nai Brith said, tends to rise with tensions in the Middle East.
© The Toronto Star
HATE CRIME HITS HOME (Canada)
Hants family terrorized by burning cross, racial slurs
22/2/2010- Michelle Lyon and Shayne Howe thought burning crosses was a practice long since abolished until one was set ablaze on their own front lawn. The flames broke out moments after the bi-racial couple arrived at their Newport home late Saturday night. They heard shouts of, “Die, nigger, die” and other racial slurs. “I’m still in shock,” Lyon told the Hants Journal on Monday afternoon. “Never in a million years did I fathom this could happen in the 21st century. This is nothing less than a hate crime.” Lyons’ 17-year-old daughter had alerted them to the fire. At first Lyon thought it must have been car on fire the flames were so high. “When we got home everything was fine until my daughter came running to say the lawn was on fire. They must have lit it just after we arrived home.” The couple has five children ranging in age from 17 to two years old. The pair couldn’t say how many people were outside on the lawn. “There was one very clear voice, but it would have taken more than one person to move that cross, it was very heavy.” They believe they were singled out and their home was scouted in advance. The cross was built to hook on to their well crock. “This was very well engineered,” she said.
The family has lived in the area for the past six years. Lyon grew up in Hants County and said she finds it hard to believe anyone from the area could do such a thing. Howe works at GTI Rafuse in New Minas; Lyon is a stay-at-home mom. Howe is the only black man living in that community. “If the people who did this lived in the area they could have done it at any time, why now?” Lyon said her family now lives in fear. “My 14-year-old daughter was afraid to wait for the school bus, she’s afraid to be home alone. We’re still scared of retaliation. Scared of them coming back. What will happen next?” The neighbours have been very supportive and are in awe of the situation. Lyon said even the Police were shocked. “They didn’t know what to say; it’s the first time they’ve witnessed something like that. No one can fathom it.” Lyon says she hopes the individuals who did this to her family are caught quickly. “Justice will prevail and I hope they get the stiffest penalty there is. They’ve trespassed on my property and my family. I feel violated, and that hurts. We are quiet people.”
Vincent Upshaw of the Hants Cultural Enrichment Program and Black Education Association visited the family and said he was quite rattled by the news but doesn’t want to point fingers. “Until you find out where it’s coming from, you can’t put a label on it.” He adds the act was “pretty extreme”. “I hate to think this could happen at all. Obviously there are still issues that people have and as a society we need to take more steps to fully change things for all individuals.” He said his heart goes out to the family, especially the children. “They must be so traumatized. I just hate to think of how they must feel. For any child to witness that is just wrong.” “We are a human race and all of us need to ban together. This shouldn’t have to happen to anyone.” According to the RCMP report the individuals had fled the scene when the police arrived shortly after midnight Sunday morning. The Windsor District RCMP and General Investigative Services are investigating and asking for the publics’ assistance in identifying the perpetrators.
Media Relations Officer, Sgt. Brigdit Leger of the RCMP H Division has been called in to assist local RCMP with media inquiries. Leger said they believe it is an isolated incident that likely involved more than one person. She said police are very disturbed by the incident. “I can’t imagine how they must have felt coming out the door to that.” Leger adds police are looking at the incident as a possible hate crime.
© Nova News
POLICE TO RIDE SCHOOL BUSES TO SAVE GIRLS FROM RACISM (uk)
26/2/2010- Police officers are being drafted on to Merseyside school buses to stop Muslim pupils being racially abused. The problems centre around verbal attacks on hijab- wearing girls at West Derby’s Holly Lodge Girls’ College. Last night, bus drivers who are accused of refusing to stop for the veil-wearing Muslim pupils in order to avoid trouble were also branded “racist”. The Daily Post can reveal police officers will now board the buses to protect the school girls from the “racist” taunts of other passengers. A probe was launched after concerned female members of Liverpool’s Muslim community highlighted the abuse of pupils travelling to Holly Lodge to police. Police chiefs have since held talks with travel authority Merseytravel and the Muslim community. Complaints are contained within a Merseyside Police Authority report that “young Muslim women are targeted by racists on the way to Holly Lodge School” and “often buses won’t stop” for the girls “easily identified by their veils”.
Merseyside police last night said community police officers would now board buses in the area to deter the racism and would work with city schools to remind pupils “racial abuse is a criminal offence.” But police stressed the issue of drivers failing to stop for the girls was a matter for Merseytravel. Merseytravel said it condemned “all acts of racism” and, after probing the claims, has “now drawn up an action plan to deal with and prevent any further incidents”. It was not, however, able to release details of the measures which might be implemented. Members of the Muslim community said the problem was a long-running one. Amina Ismail was approached by Holly Lodge pupils while overseeing a widening participation event for Hope University last year. Ms Ismail, now employed by Liverpool John Moores University, said: “They said people driving past were being abusive because they were wearing the hijab (head scarf) at the bus stops on Queens Drive or West Derby Road.” She said bus drivers refusing to stop were “cowardly” and that “they should not push their own personal prejudices on young people.” And with pupils now frequently travelling farther afield to the school of their choice, she urged people to “see past the scarf or skin colour and look beyond this”.
Around 10% of the 1,274 Holly Lodge pupils on roll are from ethnic minorities, and the school has won praise from Ofsted for its “promotion of equality and diversity”. Head teacher Julia Tinsley said: “There have been a small number of cases where ignorant people have directed racist comments at our pupils while they are on buses. It is completely unacceptable and very upsetting for those involved and we have provided support to those affected. “We welcome the assistance from Merseyside Police in tackling the mindless minority who think it is acceptable to make racist comments.” Merseyside Police Authority committee member and city councillor, Paul Clein, said any driver deliberately failing to stop was “guilty of racism and bullying”. But Colin Carr, regional advisor for the North West branch of giant union Unite – whose members include bus drivers – said he would be surprised if they were failing to stop. “The union would condemn this kind of action, and equality and diversity is something we promote across the spectrum,” he said. A Merseyside police spokesman said the force was committed to tackling racism and added: “We will be putting police community support officers on public buses during the periods these incidents are happening to reassure passengers and deter would-be offenders. CCTV will be routinely checked following allegations of any criminal offence.” The police are also looking at ways for people to anonymously pass on information so they could catch the culprits.
© The Liverpool Daily Post
FOCUS ON DISABILITY HATE CRIMES IN PEMBROKESHIRE (uk)
23/2/2010- A group helping to organise a conference to raise awareness of disability hate crime says too few of such cases are reported to police. Henry Langen of Pembrokeshire Access Group (PAG) also said that many were not leading to prosecutions. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and Dyfed-Powys Police will co-host the day-long event at Narberth, with PAG. Among the speakers will be Simon Green, 34, of Bridgend, a wheelchair user who has been a victim of hate crime. The conference, at Hotel Plas Hyfryd, Narberth, is open to any disabled persons who have been subjected to disability hate crime, said the organisers. Earlier this year Simon Green presented a BBC Wales Week in Week Out documentary on disability hate crime, and also appeared in a follow-up on the Panorama programme. Mr Green, who has been a wheelchair user for six years, said during that time he had been physically and verbally assaulted because he is disabled. For Week In, Week Out he secretly filmed a couple of his nights out to expose the hostility and abuse he sometimes experiences. During one evening he was confronted by a group of men who verbally abused him, swore at him, called him a "cripple", and suggested he could really walk. Mr Langen said: "There's not enough of these cases reported to the police and with regard to the ones that are reported there are not enough prosecutions. "The CPS and the police need to have a rethink on this." A spokeswoman for the CPS said it wanted to encourage more people to come forward and report any instances of disability hate crimes. All reports would be treated seriously, the spokeswoman added. "We are starting to look more closely at disability hate crime and improve what we are doing with it," she said. "There are still improvements that can be made."
© BBC News
JEWS LEAVE SWEDISH CITY AFTER SHARP RISE IN ANTI-SEMITIC HATE CRIMES
Sweden's reputation as a tolerant, liberal nation is being threatened by a steep rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes in the city of Malmo.
21/2/2010- When she first arrived in Sweden after her rescue from a Nazi concentration camp, Judith Popinski was treated with great kindness. She raised a family in the city of Malmo, and for the next six decades lived happily in her adopted homeland - until last year. In 2009, a chapel serving the city's 700-strong Jewish community was set ablaze. Jewish cemeteries were repeatedly desecrated, worshippers were abused on their way home from prayer, and "Hitler" was mockingly chanted in the streets by masked men. "I never thought I would see this hatred again in my lifetime, not in Sweden anyway," Mrs Popinski told The Sunday Telegraph. "This new hatred comes from Muslim immigrants. The Jewish people are afraid now." Malmo's Jews, however, do not just point the finger at bigoted Muslims and their fellow racists in the country's Neo-Nazi fringe. They also accuse Ilmar Reepalu, the Left-wing mayor who has been in power for 15 years, of failing to protect them. Mr Reepalu, who is blamed for lax policing, is at the centre of a growing controversy for saying that what the Jews perceive as naked anti-Semitism is in fact just a sad, but understandable consequence of Israeli policy in the Middle East. While his views are far from unusual on the European liberal-left, which is often accused of a pro-Palestinian bias, his Jewish critics say they encourage young Muslim hotheads to abuse and harass them.
The future looks so bleak that by one estimate, around 30 Jewish families have already left for Stockholm, England or Israel, and more are preparing to go. With its young people planning new lives elsewhere, the remaining Jewish households, many of whom are made up of Holocaust survivors and their descendants, fear they will soon be gone altogether. Mrs Popinski, an 86-year-old widow, said she has even encountered hostility when invited to talk about the Holocaust in schools. "Muslim schoolchildren often ignore me now when I talk about my experiences in the camps," she said. "It is because of what their parents tell them about Jews. The hatreds of the Middle East have come to Malmo. Schools in Muslim areas of the city simply won't invite Holocaust survivors to speak any more." Hate crimes, mainly directed against Jews, doubled last year with Malmo's police recording 79 incidents and admitting that far more probably went unreported. As of yet, no direct attacks on people have been recorded but many Jews believe it is only a matter of time in the current climate. The city's synagogue has guards and rocket-proof glass in the windows, while the Jewish kindergarten can only be reached through thick steel security doors. It is a far cry from the city Mrs Popinski arrived in 65 years ago, half-dead from starvation and typhus. At Auschwitz she had been separated from her Polish family, all of whom were murdered. She escaped the gas chambers after being sent as a slave labourer. Then she was moved to a womens' concentration camp, Ravensbrück, from where she was then evacuated in a release deal negotiated between the Swedish Red Cross and senior Nazis, who were by then trying to save their own lives.
After the war, just as liberal Sweden took in Jews who survived the Holocaust as a humanitarian act, it also took in new waves of refugees from tyranny and conflicts in the Middle East. Muslims are now estimated to make up about a fifth of Malmo's population of nearly 300,000. "This new hatred from a group 40,000-strong is focused on a small group of Jews," Mrs Popinski said, speaking in a sitting room filled with paintings and Persian carpets. "Some Swedish politicians are letting them do it, including the mayor. Of course the Muslims have more votes than the Jews." The worst incident was last year during Israel's brief war in Gaza, when a small demonstration in favour of Israel was attacked by a screaming mob of Arabs and Swedish leftists, who threw bottles and firecrackers as the police looked on. "I haven't seen hatred like that for decades," Mrs Popinski said. "It reminded me of what I saw in my youth. Jews feel vulnerable here now." The problem is becoming an embarrassment for the Social Democrats, the mayor's party. Their national leader Mona Sahlin - the woman who is likely to become the next prime minister after an election later this year - last week travelled to Malmo to meet Jewish leaders, which they took to be a sign that at last politicians are waking to their plight. After the meeting, the mayor, Mr Reepalu, also promised to meet them. A former architect, he has been credited with revitalising Malmo from a half-derelict shipbuilding centre into a vibrant, prosperous city with successful IT and biotech sectors. His city was - until recently at least - a shining multicultural success story, and has taken in proportionally more refugees than anywhere else in Sweden, a record of which it is proud.
Sweden has had a long record of offering a safe haven to Jews, the first of whom arrived from the east in the mid-nineteenth century. Today the Jewish population is about 18,000 nationally, with around 3000 in southern Sweden. The mayor insisted to The Sunday Telegraph that he was opposed to anti-Semitism, but added: "I believe these are anti-Israel attacks, connected to the war in Gaza. "We want Malmo to be cosmopolitan and safe for everybody and we have taken action. I have started a dialogue forum. There haven't been any attacks on Jewish people, and if Jews from the city want to move to Israel that is not a matter for Malmo." Sweden has had a long record of offering a safe haven to Jews, the first of whom arrived from the east in the mid-nineteenth century. Today the Jewish population is about 18,000 nationally, with around 3000 in southern Sweden. “Jews came to Sweden to get away from persecution, and now they find it is no longer a safe haven,” said Rabbi Shneur Kesselman, 31. “That is a horrible feeling.” One who has had enough is Marcus Eilenberg, a 32-year-old Malmo-born lawyer, who is moving to Israel in April with his young family. "Malmo has really changed in the past year," he said. "I am optimistic by nature, but I have no faith in a future here for my children. There is definitely a threat. "It started during the Gaza war when Jewish demonstrators were attacked. It was a horrible feeling, being attacked in your own city. Just as bad was the realisation that we were not being protected by our own leaders." Mr Eilenberg said he and his wife considered moving to Stockholm where Jews feel safer than in Malmo. "But we decided not to because in five years time I think it will be just as bad there," he said. "This is happening all over Europe. I have cousins who are leaving their homes in Amsterdam and France for the same reason as me."
Malmo's Jews are not the only ones to suffer hate crimes. At the city's Islamic Centre, the director Bejzat Becirov pointed out a bullet hole in the window behind the main reception desk. Mr Becirov, who arrived in 1962 from the former Yugoslavia, said that windows were regularly smashed, pig's heads had been left outside the mosque, and outbuildings burnt down - probably the acts of Neo-Nazis who have also baited Jews in the past. He said that the harassment of Jews by some young Muslims was "embarrassing" to his community. Many of them are unemployed and confined to life on bleak estates where the Scandinavian dream of prosperity and equality seemed far away. For many of Malmo's white Swedish population, meanwhile, the racial problems are bewildering after years of liberal immigration policies. "I first encountered race hatred when I was an au pair in England and I was shocked," said Mrs Popinski's friend Ulla-Lena Cavling, 72, a retired teacher. "I thought 'this couldn't happen in Sweden'. Now I know otherwise."
© The Telegraph
21/2/2010- A Jewish synagogue was attempted to be set ablaze by unnamed assailants in downtown Cairo. According to ministry of interior officials, the fire broke out around 6:30 in the morning Cairo time after someone allegedly threw what police are reporting to be a makeshift molotov cocktail onto the premises of the Adly street synagogue. Local news reports have already accused the attack to be terrorist in nature, as officials reported a black bag was discovered on the sidewalk across from the Jewish temple. However, one official told Bikya Masr it is too early to put claims of terrorism to the public. “We are looking into the situation and are attempting to understand what occurred,” the official, who was not authorized to speak to the media, said, adding that “we believe someone started the fire, but whether this is terrorism related or not is unclear.” According to the official, the black bag contained clothes. Despite the initial outpouring of news reports in English, which hit social-networking sites, the inside of the synagogue was left unscathed and police doubt further attacks, if indeed that was the case.
“Whoever did this was obviously acting alone and there is still no real evidence that it was an act of violence. It could have been a mistake, we don’t know at this point, but nothing happened inside the synagogue, so that is good,” said the official. The Egyptian government positions police officers in front of the synagogue on a 24-hour period, which has some activists and observers concerned over the alleged attack, questioning whether the government is not responsible for the alleged attackers being able to get so close to the temple. American terrorism expert Jason Thomas, currently in Cairo working on a Ph.D and looking into Islamic terrorism in Egypt during the 1990s, says that if an individual is responsible for the attack, then it should be considered a hate crime, instead of terrorism. “Terrorism is an organized act by a group or party aimed at creating fear within a society, but all evidence here points to a hate crime that should not be linked to terrorist activity,” he began. “Egypt is in the midst of major sectarian issues, but to say an arsonist is a terrorist seems to be a stretch in order to get headlines.”
© Bikya Masr
Headlines 19 February, 2010
MASSIVE RISE IN DERRY HATE CRIMES(N.Ireland)
19/2/2010- Hate crimes have rocketed by almost 300% in Derry, the latest PSNI figures reveal. Foyle MP Mark Durkan last night said the shock statistics - contained in the PSNI's Hate Incidents and Crimes Quarterly Update - were deeply worrying. The PSNI figures show alarming rises in the number of incidents motivated by sectarian, racist or homophobic prejudice, with 20 incidents reported to police each week in the city. Mr Durkan said hate crimes "run against every good instinct of the people of Derry" and commended the PSNI for making good progress in encouraging victims to come forward. " It is essential that those efforts are maintained and stepped up in light of these figures. I will certainly be raising these matters with the local District Commander," he said. The figures show a total of 123 incidents were reported between April and September of last year, compared to only 45 incidents in the same period in 2008. Of those incidents 90 were reported as sectarian, 23 as racially motivated and ten as being of a homophobic nature. Compared to the same period in 2008, racially motivated incidents have soared by a massive 187%, sectarian incidents by 173% and homophobic incidents have increased by 150%. Mr Durkan said it was vital people learned to "respect and value difference and diversity." "These statistics should focus us on the need for progress on a shared future for everyone which attracts real government actions and interventions. This whole area must also be a priority for the new Justice Minister once he or she assumes office."
Meanwhile police in Derry have called for increased community support in tackling hate crimes. A spokeswoman for the police in Derry said the PSNI take hate crimes "very seriously". "We are committed to doing everything in our power to prevent them occurring and when they do occur bringing those responsible before the courts. However police cannot work in isolation and we need the support of the community to help stamp out hate crime and show our children that tolerance and understanding is the only way forward," she said.
© The Derry Journal
FOOTBALL FANS URGED TO STOP HOMOPHOBIC ABUSE AT MATCHES (uk)
19/2/2010- Police are urging football fans to help kick out homophobia from the game as part of LGBT History Month this February. The Justin Campaign, named after the only out gay footballer, Justin Fashanu, has announced an international day against homophobia in football will be held today. Organisers' want to raise awareness of the problem in the sport and police are supporting the campaign and hope it will encourage victims of hate crime to come forward. Police are also seeking the support of football clubs to include anti-homophobia messages in their programmes to help to raise awareness about the issue. Research by Stonewall last year found most fans had heard homophobic abuse at games. Darren Ollerton, campaign director, said: "Every year on February 19th the campaign will celebrate the day by following Justin Fashanu's career throughout the years and engaging with each team and their community along the way. "Let's hope when the campaign reaches the end of the timeline we will have witnessed some much-needed change in the way gay and bi men in professional and amateur football are perceived and treated." Insp. Sue Bushell from Lancashire Constabulary's Community Cohesion and Diversity Unit said: "It's important to have one day out of each year when clubs and supporters are able to unite in opposing hate and intolerance in their national sport. "Unfortunately, not everyone we come into contact with shares our views, values and beliefs. However, some people take this to the extreme and cause a lot of distress as a result. This kind of activity could be classed by the Constabulary as a hate incident or hate crime and we will not tolerate it. "Anyone can be a victim of hate crime and unfortunately, if it isn't reported it can go on for some time.
"We appreciate that reporting these types of incidents and crimes isn't easy which is why we have dedicated officers in place to help you, including specialist Lesbian and Gay Liaison Officers in every divisional area to assist with any incidents that are reported to the police that have a homophobic nature."
To report a hate crime please contact Lancashire Constabulary on 08451 25 35 45 or visit www.lancashire.police.uk. Victims can also report a hate crime and get support 24-hours a day by calling the Stop Hate Line on 0800 138 1635.
© The Burnley Express
RACIST GRAFFITI ON FRENCH MOSQUE FOR 6TH TIME
18/2/2010- France's main Muslim group says a mosque has been defaced with racist graffiti in the sixth such incident this year. The head of the French Council of the Muslim Faith says racist words were painted over the weekend on the walls of the mosque in Sorgues, in the picturesque Vaucluse region. It is the sixth time this year that a French mosque has been tarnished by racist graffiti. Mohammed Moussaoui says that Muslims now have a right to ask about the "real objectives" behind these acts. He noted that his group which brings together various Muslim tendencies has called numerous times for a parliamentary inquiry into Islamophobia, to no avail. Islam is France's second most-practiced religion after Roman Catholicism.
© The Associated Press
RUSSIAN EXTREMIST GROUP MEMBERS CHARGED WITH MURDER, TERRORISM
13/2/2010- Activists from two ultranationalist groups in St. Petersburg have been charged with murder and terrorism, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports. Valentin Mumdzhiev and Georgy Timofeev of the National Socialism-White Power organization are charged with killing a Ghanaian last year. Igor Gritskevich and Vladimir Smirnov of the Slavic Community are charged with organizing 11 explosions in St. Petersburg in the past year -- including one at the Bronevaya train station last week that injured a train engineer. Yevgeny Vyshenkov, an official with the Investigative Journalism Agency, told RFE/RL these two neo-Nazi groups differ from regular skinhead organizations. He said members of these groups do not shave their heads, wear leather jackets, or have many of the distinguishing characteristics of other skinheads.
COURT IN UPROAR OVER RACISM SENTENCE (Canada)
Victim arrested after man who attacked Asian anglers jailed 2 years
13/2/2010- Emotions erupted in the Newmarket courthouse Friday as a Sutton man was sentenced to two years less a day in jail for a racist attack on Asian anglers, and one of the victims – upset at the light sentence – wound up handcuffed and arrested. Justice Alfred Stong found that Trevor Middleton, 23, was motivated partly by racism when he and three truckloads of Georgina Township youths shoved Ruohang Liu, 24, and Charles Hogan, 24, into Lake Simcoe early in the morning of Sept. 16, 2007, in the type of attack some locals referred to as "Nip-" or "Nipper-tipping." One of their friends was left with permanent brain damage in the attack. Loud sighs, sobs and swearing were heard in the packed courtroom after the judge read his sentence, which also included three years' probation, a 10-year driving ban and an order for Middleton to take cultural sensitivity training. "There is no justice in Canada," an Asian-Canadian man shouted in the hallway of the courthouse. Liu was handcuffed and arrested by police after the armrest of a courthouse chair was thrown at a hallway window, shattering it. Police did not immediately comment on whether he had been charged. Liu said he has nightmares about the attack, which left his friend, Shayne Berwick, 26, with brain damage and requiring a wheelchair. "I will not go fishing ever in Canada again," Liu said in his victim impact statement. "I no longer trust anyone I meet. I feel like I can only trust people I have from the past."
In sentencing Middleton, the judge noted that he had no criminal record before a jury found him guilty of four counts of aggravated assault and two counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm. The judge also noted that Middleton, a professional motorcycle racer, was only 20 at the time of the attacks near what locals call the Blue Bridge, at Mossington Park near Jackson's Point. Four police squad cars pulled up in front of the courthouse as angry spectators left the building. Middleton's lawyer, Gerald Logan, was cursed as he walked out. The Crown had sought a sentence of eight to 10 years. Berwick's father, Colin, shook his head in disbelief outside court as his wife, Terry, cried. Hate crime legislation has proved to be toothless, he said, adding, "That didn't do any good, did it?" A man who was in Liu's car as it was rammed repeatedly by Middleton's pickup and forced off the road into a tree said the violence still haunts him. "I fear for the future," said Shiv Kumar, 24. "I feel that I am not wanted in the community." Toronto lawyer Susan Eng, part of a coalition of Asian-Canadians who monitored the case, said it was a victory the attack was recognized as a hate crime. "This wasn't an individual case. This is something that belongs to the community."
© The Toronto Star
WHITE-ON-WHITE HATE CRIME CONVICTION UPHELD (usa)
16/2/2010- Last Feb. 25 2009, a Guilford County jury found David John Brown guilty of assault with a deadly weapon with ethnic animosity -- essentially a hate crime -- for firing a shotgun at Ray Peterson. Brown and Peterson are both white. Can a white man be convicted of "ethnic animosity" toward another white man under North Carolina law? Yes, the state Court of Appeals unanimously ruled today in upholding Brown's conviction. It reads to me like the right call. This was a case of "first impression" in North Carolina, the opinion written by Judge Linda McGee and joined by Judges Sanford Steelman and Linda Stephens noted. No wonder. The circumstances were unusual, to say the least.
Peterson was dating Brown's next-door neighbor, Katherine Richards, who is African American. There had been "a history of heated disputes" between Brown and Richards, the court stated. These had to do with Richards' dog, the placement of Richards' fence along the property line and other issues. "Defendant's arguments with Richards took on a racial tone that escalated in intensity as time passed," the court wrote. Richards had to call police on several occasions. Finally, on July 1, 2008, matters reached a boiling point. Brown's harassment of Richards prompted Peterson to walk up Brown's driveway to confront him. Then, according to Peterson's testimony, Brown went into his house, came out with a shotgun and fired twice, nearly hitting him with one of the blasts. Police were called and arrested Brown.
Brown was indicted on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, but was acquitted of that count. The jury convicted him only on the "ethnic animosity" charge. Brown was sentenced to six to eight months. He appealed, contending the trial Judge Todd Burke erred in not dismissing the charge against him for insufficient evidence. Specifically, he argued that because both he and Peterson are white, the ethnic animosity statute could not apply. The court rejected that contention but also the state's argument on appeal that Richards was a victim. While she "undoubtedly suffered emotional distress due to defendant's actions," Judge McGee wrote, "she was not the victim of any assault with a deadly weapon; however, Peterson was."
The question, then, was why was Peterson the victim of Brown's assault. The answer was clear: because of his relationship with Richards. It was a reasonable conclusion, the court said, that "defendant shot at Peterson because Peterson was a white man in a relationship with an African American woman ... and defendant was acting out his disgust with, or anger towards, Peterson because of Peterson's relationship with a woman of a different race or color." There was no doubt that "ethnic animosity" was a key factor that led to the discharge of Brown's shotgun. Testimony showed that his hatred of Richards and others of her race figuratively triggered the crime at the center of this case. He may have fired his shotgun in an attempt to intimidate Peterson, a white man, but it was the black woman behind Peterson who was the real target of his hateful actions.
© The News & Records - Blogs
Headlines 12 February, 2010
RUSSIAN EXTREMIST ARRESTED FOR JEW-KILLING BRIGADE (Russia)
11/2/2010- A far-right activist in Russia was arrested for creating a brigade to kill Jews. Police in Zlatoust arrested the 34-year-old suspect accused of creating a "punishment brigade" to murder Jews and people from the Causcasus, the local news agency Ural Inform Byuro reported, according to the UCSJ: Union of Councils for Jews in the Former Soviet Union. The suspect had announced the creation of the brigade in a local anti-Semitic newspaper that also featured lists of "enemies of the people," mostly Jews and people from other minority groups, to be killed. Police charged the suspect with forming an extremist group and inciting ethnic hatred, according to UCSJ.
© JTA News
BULGARIA SLAMMED BY COUNCIL OF EUROPE OVER MINORITY, CHILDREN'S RIGHTS
9/2/2010- Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, has criticized Bulgaria for failing to do enough to uphold minority and children’s rights. “More efforts are needed to better protect minorities and children and to ensure that their needs are embedded in the decision making process,” said Hammarberg, who published Tuesday a report on his visit to Bulgaria carried out in November 2009. “Protection of minorities against discrimination, racism and intolerance should be enhanced. Adequate measures should be taken to prevent and punish cases of police misconduct,“ the CE Commissioner says while also urging the Bulgarian authorities to provide reparation and find speedily a solution for pending pension claims to victims of the ‘Revival Process’, the assimilation campaign undertaken by the Bulgarian communist regime against the ethnic Turkish minority. The CE Commissioner goes as far as suggesting a Constitutional amendment “in order to better safeguard minorities’ freedom of association and assembly and to fully align practice with the Council of Europe standards.” “Evicted Roma should be offered decent alternative solutions. More generally, access to adequate housing, education and social rights remain problematic and all too often they are victims of racially motivated discrimination and violence. The authorities should urgently reverse this situation,” Hammarberg says with respect to the Roma community. The Council of Europe Commissioner recommends that Bulgaria undertake a deinstitutionalization program with respect to children with intellectual disabilities.
VANDALS SPRAY CROSSES ON NASHVILLE MOSQUE, SAY ISLAM FAITH DESTROYING U.S.
12/2/2010- Vandals defaced a mosque in Nashville, spray-painting "Muslim go home" on the exterior of the building. The Tennessean quoted Salaad Nur, a board member of the Al-Farooq Mosque, who said the act discovered Wednesday morning was unexpected. Several crosses were also painted on the mosque and Nur said a hateful message was left at the mosque's youth center, claiming the Islam faith was trying to destroy the United States. Metro Nashville Police Sgt. Brooks Harris said the Specialized Investigations Division will look into the incident as a possible hate crime. Brooks says the FBI and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation have also been notified. Nur said the incident was the first attack on the mosque. A mosque in Columbia, about 40 miles south of Nashville, was destroyed by an arson fire in 2008. A Columbia man is serving a 14-year federal prison sentence in that case.
© The Associated Press
UNIVERSITY INVESTIGATING ASSAULT ON JEWISH STUDENTS (Canada)
7/2/2010- York University in Toronto is investigating allegations of assault against two Jewish students during a pro-Israel program. The incident, which is alleged to have taken place Feb. 1, occurred when about 20 Jewish members of the on-campus group Hasbara Fellowships at York University gathered, with permission from the university, to raise awareness of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and terrorist acts committed by Hamas. Tyler Golden, co-president of Hasbara Fellowships, told JTA that about 50 activists and protesters surrounded the Jewish students and began chanting anti-Israel and anti-Semitic slurs. He said two Jewish students were slapped, one on the arm and the other across the face. Two university security officers arrived on the scene. Toronto police were not called "because we wanted to give the university a chance to put its system into place," according to Golden. Golden said a complaint was lodged with York's Student Conduct and Dispute Resolution Office. The university has appointed an adjudicator and is reviewing videotapes from security cameras, York spokesman Alex Bilyk told JTA. He offered JTA the chance to view the tapes. "An investigation is under way," he said. According to its Web site, the Jewish Defense League of Canada has offered a $500 reward "for the assailants [sic] identities, names, alias [sic], phone numbers and addresses." A year ago, a group of Jewish students at York were barricaded in the Hillel lounge by a mob yelling anti-Semitic and anti-Israel slurs. Police had to escort the Jewish students out of the building. Two York students were reprimanded for the incident. In response to that and other incidents involving Jewish students, York established a task force. Among its recommendations were the creation of more student space for studying and socializing, and the expansion of the Student Code of Conduct. At the time, B'nai Brith Canada slammed the task force report as failing to address anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism at York.
© JTA News
Headlines 5 February, 2010
ITALY: BANGLADESHI AMBASSADOR ALARMED AT MIGRANT ATTACKS
12/2/2009- Bangladesh's ambassador to Italy, Masud Bin Momen, says he is "deeply shocked" at a spate of violent attacks that have targeted Bangladeshi immigrants in Rome in the past week. In a rare statement released on Thursday, the ambassador expressed his alarm about two separate attacks that occurred in different parts of the capital since Sunday. "The Ambassador, H.E. Masud Bin Momen is deeply shocked about what happened," the embassy said in a statement released to Adnkronos International (AKI). "He hopes that the Italian authorities will investigate the matter and take all the necessary action accordingly under the local legality. "He also expresses hope that all concerned should exercise maximum restraint in these difficult times of economic downturn." Late Wednesday three Italian youths allegedly attacked a 39-year-old Bangladeshi who was selling T-shirts in Via dei Baullari, close to the popular tourist zone of Campo de' Fiori in central Rome. According to media reports the victim claimed he was surrounded by the youths, who began calling him a "dirty nigger", as they proceeded to destroy the makeshift stall. Later, the youths savagely kicked and punched the immigrant and allegedly stole the man's mobile phone. Dozens of people witnessed the attack, but police have not found those responsible for the violence. The Bangladeshi was later taken to Rome's Santo Spirito hospital, and reported the attack to police as soon as he was released. "I was selling T-shirts, and suddenly I was struck by kicks and punches. There were at least three people," the victim told police, quoted by Rome's local daily Il Messaggero.
In a separate incident late Sunday, an Italian man armed with a spray paint can and a lighter, tried to set alight three Bangladeshis in the centre of Rome. According to Italian media reports 20-year-old Ivan Balzanella and two others tried to set alight the three teenage migrants with a spray can and a lighter using it as a flame-thrower in what was described by the police as a racist attack. Balzanella was arrested by police and accused of making threats and attempting to carry out racially motivated violence. The attack took place in the multi-ethnic Esquiline neighbourhood in central Rome. According to Italian media reports, Balzanella had 'warned' the same migrants last November to leave the area, telling them, 'This place is ours, you must all leave.' On Sunday, the alleged attacker returned, with two others. The Bangladeshi migrants quickly called the police, but Balzanella fled. "Go away immigrants or I will burn you," Balzanella reportedly told the migrants. One of the victims of the attack, described only by his first name, Naimal, told an Italian newspaper that Balzanella also tried to attack them with a fork. But police arrived and intervened. When Balzanella was arrested, he reportedly told police, "You are not supposed to take me, you are supposed to arrest those immigrants." Balzanella - who had been previously arrested in December for racially motivated attacks - was released. He claimed he was the one attacked by the Bangladeshi migrants. He is now forced to report to police every day until his trial.
The attacks are the latest in a string of violent assaults against immigrants in Italy. On 2 February, a homeless Indian man was burnt and beaten in a savage attack that left him with a fractured skull and burns to 40 percent of his body. Navtej Singh Sidhu, 35, a homeless and unemployed labourer, was attacked and set on fire by assailants as he slept on a station bench in the coastal town of Nettuno 70 kilometres south of Rome on 1 February. Three local youths aged between 16 and 29 have been charged with attempted murder over the attack, while Sidhu is recovering in a Rome hospital after skin graft surgery on his legs.
GAZA WAR SAW ANTI-SEMITIC ATTACKS RISE TO RECORD HIGH (uk)
Britain's Jews faced surge of abuse after Israel's invasion in January 2009
5/2/2010- The number of anti-Semitic attacks in the UK reached record highs last year as anger over Israel's assault on Gaza led to an explosion of race hatred targeted at Britain's Jewish community. The Community Security Trust (CST), a charity which monitors attacks against Jews, said 924 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded last year – a 69 per cent increase on 2008 and the highest number since the charity began keeping records of anti-Semitism in 1984. The charity said Israel's three-week invasion of Gaza in January last year led to an unprecedented outpouring of anger directed at Britain's Jews, with more anti-Semitism recorded in the first six months of 2009 than in any entire previous year. Of the 924 confirmed incidents, 124 were violent assaults, three of which involved what the CST classified as an "extreme threat to life". It was the highest number of physical assaults recorded against the Jewish community since records began and represents a 41 per cent increase on the previous year. Physical assaults tended to be most common within areas where members of the Orthodox or Ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities are most visible, such as Salford and Bury in Greater Manchester and Hendon and Stamford Hill in north London. Non-violent incidents included widespread graffiti; bacon being placed on the doors of a synagogue in Leeds and a postal worker writing the words "Jewland" on a parcel meant for a British man staying on a kibbutz in Israel. The figures also suggested that anti-Semitism in Britain tended to spike when Israel conducted controversial military operations. Until this year's report, the last time anti-Semitism was at its highest was during 2006 when the Israel Defence Forces launched a one-month assault on Lebanon in retaliation at an attack by Hizbollah fighters. Almost a quarter (23 per cent) of all the incidents reported last year made some sort of direct reference to the military assault on Gaza or Israel's war against Hamas.
Last night Gordon Brown said that anger over Israel's politics could not excuse the attacks on Britain's Jewish community. "The increase in anti-Semitic incidents recorded by CST in the early part of last year is deeply troubling," he said. "No strength of feeling can ever justify violent extremism or attacks and we will stand firm against all those who would use anti-Israeli feeling as an excuse or disguise for anti-Semitism and attacks on the Jewish community." His remarks came as it was revealed that police are investigating claims that anti-Semitic remarks were posted on an internet page set up by a student. More than 500 members joined a group – created on the social networking site Facebook – which boasted of attacks on the Jewish community in Ilford, east London. One of the messages posted branded Jewish people as “dirty, filthy scumbags”. The Jewish News said the Facebook group was created by a student at Loxford School of Science and Technology in Ilford. A spokeswoman for Redbridge Council, the local education authority, said the pupil had been disciplined, while Facebook said the group had been closed down as it breached the site’s policy on threatening hatred and violence. CST spokesman Mark Gardner said: "These record figures show that anti-Semitism is an increasingly significant problem for British Jews. The trend must be reversed and we call upon decent people to speak out against anti-Semitism in all its forms." The CST classifies an anti-Semitic incident as "any malicious act aimed at Jewish people, organisations or property, where there is evidence that the act has anti-Semitic motivation or content, or the victim was targeted because they are (or are believed to be) Jewish". The charity is also afforded third-party status by the police which allows it to inform the authorities of anti-Semitic attacks on a victim's behalf. The CST's investigators look into any incidents reported to them by individuals, synagogues or Jewish groups, but not every complaint is recorded as openly anti-Semitic. Last year 489 claims they received were discounted and judged to have no specific anti-Jewish agenda. The one area where anti-Semitism appears to have declined is on university campuses. In 2009 there were 97 incidents recorded at British universities, 38 of which involved repeated emails to a single Jewish academic from what was thought to be a single perpetrator. If those emails are discarded the number of anti-Semitic incidents at university actually fell by 13 per cent compared to 2008.
© The Independent
RUSSIAN NEO-NAZI MURDER SQUADS KILL 71 IN 2009
Russia's battle against the country's neo-Nazis is reaching boiling point as it emerged they killed 71 people last year.
2/2/2010- One group recently posted a sickening video message on the internet celebrating a stabbing attack which killed a Ghanaian man in December. Yet members of the country's most prominent ultra-nationalist group deny their tactics are violent. The Slavic Union spoke to Sky News during their bi-monthly "training" in remote woods just outside Moscow. Dressed in winter camouflage they greet each other with macho hugs as they gather round a campfire and help each other attach red arm bands emblazoned with their adapted swastika. Rifles and semi-automatic weapons are assembled and they are ready to start flexing their muscles. These neo-Nazis see themselves as hero warriors fighting for the rights of Russians in Russia. They begin "practice" fighting with knives and firing at trees - all part of the "non-violent" approach. Up to 20 of their members are in jail for racially motivated murder and attacks - senseless murder of those whose crime may simply have been not looking Russian enough. Sasha Zorg's upper body is covered in tattoos, one of which is a swastika. He has been in prison twice for shooting two migrant workers. "I call it my struggle," he tells me. "I'll continue." The group spend as much time photographing each other with guns as they do training. The man at the centre of many of the poses is the Slavic Union's leader Dmitry Dyomushkin. He's keen to cultivate an image of himself as the respectable face of a Far Right which he sees as a legitimate challenge to the current government. "Sixty per cent of Russians support our goals," he said. "But even with this majority we are not allowed to be part of the political process because the government has squeezed out opposition. "The whole new generation of Russians are nationalists - our influence on young people is very strong."
His quest for a publicly acceptable image is not helped when his followers do a group Nazi salute, hailing the regime which 25 million Russians gave their lives to end. The chilling face of extremism was revealed when another neo-nazi group calling themselves "the warriors of the white revolution" unveiled their video message of the attack on Ghanaian Solomon Attengo Gwa-jio in St Petersburg. They described the footage as "a new year gift" as they pledged further acts of terror. No one has been arrested for the December attack, during which the victim was stabbed 20 times. It sadly echoes so many other incidents of random racist brutality. Most are committed by young Russians who seem to inhabit a world of violence where patriotism and nationalism have become - too often fatally - confused. Moscow-based human rights group SOVA said authorities are finally tackling the problem, though not for the right reasons. "I think mostly it's not because of the murders themselves but because the potential of riots based on this ethnic hatred," SOVA director Alexander Verkhovsky told Sky News. He says the situation is reaching boiling point, forcing the authorities to act. "The authorities would hate to lose control over some district or city," Mr Verkhovsky said. "And so they try to suppress any activity including violent activity which may turn to such riots."
© Sky News
BITS FROM RUSSIA 2
Kirov Court Orders Closure of Far-Right Web Site
2/2/2010- In a rare application of anti-extremism legislation, a district court in Kirov, Russia ordered the closure of a far-right web site, according to a January 27, 2010 article in the Nizhny Novgorod edition of the national daily "Kommersant." The Leninsky District court handed down its verdict in approval of the local prosecutor's office, which moved to close the web site of the local branch of the Movement Against Illegal Immigration (DPNI)--Russia's largest far-right group. The prosecutor's office sent its motion to the court after reviewing a video clip on the organization's site entitled "Day of the Migrant." The prosecutor argued that this video clip called for "violent action against ethnic and social groups--Vietnamese, Armenians, Azeris, Gypsies, and homeless people." The prosecutor also asked that the clip be placed on the federal list of banned extremist publications. The Moscow leadership of the DPNI reacted by characterizing itself as an "opposition movement" being unfairly rgeted by "corrupt" officials. The DPNI has in the past been linked with anti-migrant riots and other acts of violence, but unlike most neo-Nazi groups, it is operates legally and often participates in officially approved marches and demonstrations, implying a certain level of official approval and respectability.
Russian Government Stats Show Extremist Crimes Up Dramatically Since 2004
27/1/2010- The head of the MVD's anti-extremism unit has released statistics on the number of extremist crimes in Russia, according to a January 26, 2010 report by the Sova Information-Analytical Center. General Yuri Kokov gave the following figures, which show a rapid growth in the number of such crimes over the past five years.
According to his statistics, 130 extremist crimes were recorded in 2004, 460 in 2008, and 549 in 2009. As usual, the MVD stats did not distinguish between hate crimes and crimes connected to Islamic extremists, insurgents in Chechnya, or even peaceful opposition demonstrators, whom police are targeting with increasing frequency by abusing anti-extremism legislation. But General Kokov did say that there are 150 neo-fascist groups active in Russia. General Kokov admitted that his statistics are not 100% reliable. He also added that 549 extremist crimes do not seem like much compared to the overall crime number for 2009 of 3,000,000. "Nevertheless," he said, "it ought to be pointed out that even one crime connected to the specific and delicate sphere of inter-ethnic and inter-religious relations can drastically destabilize
or even explode the situation, not only in one specific region, but in the entire state... That is the main danger presented by extremist incidents. Sometimes, a typical bar fight or night club brawl can lead to unpredictable consequences, including mass disorders on inter-ethnic or inter-religious grounds. It's enough to remember what happened in Kondopoga, Salsk, Kalmykiya."
Far-Right Activist on Trial for Murder
27/1/2010- The murder trial of the head of the local branch of an extremist far-right group has begun in Blagoveshchensk, Russia (Amur region), according to a January 15, 2010 report in the local newspaper "Amurskaya Pravda." The defendant, who is not named in the report, heads the local branch of the Movement Against Illegal Migration (DPNI), a group linked with racist violence in several cities. He allegedly beat Chinese man to death on September 15, 2009. According to prosecutors, two Chinese citizens encountered the defendant and some other far-right activists near a large store. The defendant then allegedly pulled out a wooden bat and hit the victim on the head, knocking him down. He then allegedly hit him several times with the bat as he lay on the ground, striking him in the head and torso. The victim died four days later in the hospital. A security camera outside the store recorded the attack, and police detained the suspect two days later. He reportedly confessed to a personal hatred of Chinese people. Local police chief Sergey Marchenko was quoted in the article saying that the local branch of the DPNI, "beat up, terrorized and robbed foreigners--not just Chinese, but also Uzbeks, Tajiks and Kyrgyz." He added that other members of the DPNI face weapons and extremism charges. It is not clear, however, if other DPNI members will be put on trial. Their leader, whose name was not mentioned in the article, faces charges of "aggravated assault motivated by ethnic hatred."
St. Petersburg Police Detain Far-Right Activist in Shooting of Anti-Fascist
27/1/2010- Police in St. Petersburg, Russia detained a suspect in the shooting of a member of an anti-fascist group, according to a January 21, 2010 report by the Regnum news agency. The suspect is a 29 year old male who is a member of a far-right group. He faces charges of "hooliganism" and simple assault, though police are checking to see if they can tie him to other unsolved crimes.
College Students Found Guilty of Murder in Moscow, But Not Hate Crime
27/1/2010- A jury in Moscow has found two college students guilty of murdering a Tajik man during an attack on him and three other migrants, according to a January 22, 2010 report by the Sova Information-Analytical Center. The January 21 verdict found the students guilty of "hooliganism using a weapon" and "murder motivated by hooliganism." The jury was unconvinced by the prosecutor's argument that the defendants, who confessed that they killed the victim, had acted out of ethnic hatred.
The jury recommended that one of the defendants receive a reduced sentence. The Moscow City Court is expected to announce its decision on sentencing in the near future.
Trial Set for Neo-Nazi Gang in Krasnodar
25/1/2010- Members of a neo-Nazi gang face a pending trial on extremism charges in Krasnodar, Russia, according to a January 21, 2010 article in the national daily
"Komsomolskaya Pravda." According to the prosecution, the "Pit Bull" gang was founded in February 2007 with the express purpose of committing acts of violence against non-Russians. Their first victim was a "non-Slavic" woman whom the defendants allegedly assaulted in October 2008. They allegedly followed that up with a March 2009 attack on a man they perceived as "non-Slavic." The gang's two alleged founders face charges of "creating an extremist organization" and aggravated assault charges motivated by ethnic hatred. It is not clear from the report how many other defendants there are, nor what charges they face.
Obninsk Police Detain Neo-Nazi Suspect in Racist Attack
25/1/2010- Police in Obninsk, Russia detained a local neo-Nazi on suspicion that he attacked a citizen of Uzbekistan, according to a January 21, 2010 report by the Sova Information-Analytical Center. The 19 year old suspect allegedly attacked his victim in August of 2009. In 2008, he was given a suspended sentence for "hooliganism" in a trial of several neo-Nazi gang members.
FRENCH ANTI-SEMITIC INCIDENTS DOUBLE IN 2009
4/2/2010- Anti-Semitic crimes in France coinciding with the Gaza war drove the number of anti-Semitic incidents in 2009 to nearly double over the previous year, according to a new report. The Jewish Community Protection Service counted 832 anti-Semitic acts committed in France last year, compared to 474 in 2008, according to a report made public Thursday. Some 42 percent of the incidents, 354, took place in January, during Israel's military operation in Gaza. By February, the number of monthly anti-Semitic acts was down to 62 and by the summer, the number had dropped below those of 2008 for the most part. The Protection Service said that 43 percent of the anti-Semitic incidents in 2009 involved written statements such as graffiti, 28 percent spoken comments and threats, 10 percent violence, 9 percent vandalism, 2 percent arson or attempt at arson, and 8 percent distributed printed material. Thousands joined in pro-Palestinian protests across France during the Gaza war in late December 2008 and January 2009. Several of those protests turned riotous, and many anti-Semitic crimes were reported in connection with the marches.
© JTA News
MUSLIM ORGANISATION CALLS FOR ACTION AGAINST ISLAMOPHOBIA (France)
A French Muslim organisation has condemned a weekend attack on a mosque north of Paris. The phrases “Islam get out of Europe" and "France is for the French" were scrawled on the walls and entrance of a mosque in Crepy-en-Valois.
1/2/2010- The mayor’s office of Crepy-en-Valois denounced what it called a “horrible, idiotic act”, while the French Council of the Muslim Faith said the attack was the latest in a long line of incidents that had targeted mosques in France. The organisation called on authorities to take action to end the "series of shameful and hateful profanities that target houses of prayer." The Council, whose members are elected by French Muslims, also called for French President Nicolas Sarkozy to back a parliamentary commission that would examine the rise of Islamophobia in France. The proposal was dropped from last week’s report that called for a ban on the full Islamic veil in official public spaces like government offices, hospitals or schools. Last month a mosque in the southern town of Castres was targeted and had swastikas and the phrase daubed Sieg Heil on its walls. France is home to Europe's largest Muslim minority, estimated at between five and six million people.
© Radio France International