Headlines 27 August, 2010
AGAIN VIOLENCE AGAINST GAYS, BYSTANDERS DO NOTHING (Netherlands)
Gay couple gets beaten up in the center of Amsterdam by a group of boys.
26/8/2010- After a night on the town, the two were chatting with two friends when suddenly out of nowhere a group of 4 or 5 boys appeared that started to swear at them and proceded to beat them up. According to the victims this happened because they're gay. The two men were beaten and kicked in the face and abdomen. It is remarkable that the many people who witnessed the incident, only came to help the victims after the perpetrators had ran away. The couple sustained slight injuries, they've filed charges. There is no trace of the perpetrators. On the basis of the witness testimonies it can not be said for sure that this is so called anti-gay related violence, the police told AT 5, the local t.v. station. During the last months gays have been the target of violence on a regular basis. A lesbian couple living in a street in the West part of the City was even systematically terrorized. Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der laan has announced that he will act strongly against gay-related aggresion.
Translated by ICARE
© AT 5
SUBURBAN PARIS SYNAGOGUE RECEIVES THREATENING LETTER (France)
25/8/2010- A letter threatening to shoot Jews was received at a synagogue north of Paris. The anonymous letter was discovered Tuesday by synagogue workers in Drancy. It had been delivered on Aug. 14 and included bullets and a swastika, according to the Bureau of Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism. “Dirty Jews, we’ll get you all, accompanied with nine bullets,” read the letter, according to Sammy Ghozlan, head of the bureau. The synagogue’s rabbi, Haim Ammar, told JTA that an official investigation is underway, but it is too early to be seriously alarmed. “We are waiting to see if this comes from a real source, or an unbalanced person,” Ammar said. At this early stage, an alarmist reaction “won’t help anyone,” he added. The synagogue has received several calls from concerned members, and is trying to reassure congregants and calm things down, he said. Surveillance measures will be increased at the synagogue, but no major changes currently will be made to regular security procedures. The suburb of Drancy was the site of a Nazi internment camp where thousands of Jewish prisoners were detained and then systematically shipped to death camps in Poland. In a statement issued Wednesday, Ghozlan asked authorities to reinforce security around Jewish gathering places across France in the weeks leading up to the Jewish High Holiday period.
© JTA News
LITHUANIA'S JEWS CONDEMN PIG'S HEAD ATTACK AT SYNAGOGUE
5,000 Jews live in Lituania, once a thriving centre of Judaism
24/8/2010- Lithuania's Jewish organisations on Monday condemned an apparent neo-Nazi attack in which a pig's head was left at the entrance of a synagogue by unknown perpetrators. "The Lithuanian Jewish community and the Religious community of Lithuanian Jews judge this as Nazi provocation aimed at insulting the ethnic and religious feelings of Lithuanian Jews," their leaders, Simonas Alperavicius and Chief Rabbi Chaim Burstein, said in a statement. The statement said that the pig's head was found on Saturday -- the Jewish holy day -- outside a synagogue in Lithuania's second city Kaunas. The use of a pig is particularly offensive because Judaism, like Islam, considers pigs unclean and bars the consumption of pork. Simonas Gurevicius, executive director of the Lithuanian Jewish community, told AFP the incident should be treated as an attack on all believers, not only Jews. "We hope that Lithuanian society will not be impassive, as this act of a few anti-Semitic vandals does not reflect the attitude of Lithuanian society," he added.
Kaunas police have launched a formal investigation but there are no suspects so far, officer Gintautas Dirmeikis told the Baltic News Service. Lithuania was once home to a 220,000-strong Jewish community, and Vilnius was a cultural hub and world centre for the study of the Torah, known as the "Jerusalem of the North". At the end of the 19th century, the number of synagogues in Vilnius exceeded one hundred. But 95 percent of Lithuania's Jews perished during the country's 1941-1944 German occupation at the hands of the Nazis and Lithuanian collaborators. Today there are no more than 5,000 Jews in Lithuania, of whom around 500 live in Kaunas, Gurevicius said.
© The European Jewish Press
WAVE OF HATE CRIMES DIRECTED AT MUSLIMS BREAKS OUT (usa)
26/8/2010- A string of attacks against Muslims and their religious centers has broken out over the past few weeks, apparently inspired by the protests in New York City over the planned Muslim community center and mosque near where the 9/11 attacks took place. Leaders of those protests have repeatedly made hateful statements against Muslims and Islam, with the National Republican Trust Political Action Committee, for example, saying the center is meant “to celebrate [the] murder of 3,000 Americans.” The apparent resurgence of anti-Muslim hate crimes followed a long decline that began after a major outbreak in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center (more below).
*The most violent of these attacks took place on Tuesday in New York City, when 21-year-old film student Michael Enright allegedly attacked a cab driver. Police said that Enright cursed out the cabby after asking him if he was Muslim and then slashed his throat and stabbed him in several places when he answered in the affirmative. Enright was charged with hate crimes on Wednesday.
*In California also on Tuesday, Imam Abdullah Salem arrived at the Madera Islamic Center to find two menacing signs, one of which read, “Wake up America, the enemy is here.” It was the latest in a recent string of attacks on the center, including a brick thrown at the building on Sunday and a sign posted the prior week that read, “No temple for the God of terrorism at Ground Zero.”
*Yesterday evening, a drunk man entered a Queens mosque, shouting anti-Muslim slurs while urinating on prayer rugs, according to the New York Post. The man, identified by police as Omar Rivera, also allegedly shouted slurs, calling the worshippers “terrorists.”
These incidents are just the latest in a series of anti-Muslim attacks that have taken place over the course of the past year. On May 12, a Muslim community center was firebombed while filled with people. Approximately 60 worshipers were at The Islamic Center of Northeast Florida in Jacksonville when a pipe bomb went off around 9:35 p.m. It caused a small fire in the back of the building, but no one was injured. The FBI released surveillance video of what appeared to be a middle-aged white man carrying a gasoline container in the area of the bombing. Investigators believe he is connected to the attack. Another surveillance video was released that showed a different man who entered the mosque April 4 and shouted anti-Islam epithets. Neither man has been found. FBI national hate crime statistics for years showed very little anti-Muslim hate crime violence. In 1995, the first year for complete FBI hate crime statistics, there were 29 anti-Muslim hate crimes recorded; that stayed about level through 2000, when there were 28. But in 2001, the 9/11 attacks spurred a 17-fold growth in hate crimes to 481, according to the FBI. At around the same time, however, President Bush gave an important speech, saying Islam was not the enemy, and hate crimes the following year, 2002, dropped to 155. That number essentially declined slowly until 2008, when there were 105 anti-Muslim hate crimes recorded. Those are the latest statistics available.
The FBI statistics are known to severely understate the total number of hate crimes. According to a Department of Justice study, the real level of reported and unreported hate crimes is between 20 and 30 times higher than the numbers that are published. However, the trends the numbers show are believed to be accurate.
© Hatewatch - Southern Poverty Law Center
MADERA ISLAMIC CENTER VANDALISM CALLED HATE CRIME (usa)
25/8/2010- Recent vandalism at a Madera Islamic center, including a brick thrown at the building, is being investigated as a hate crime. Madera County Sheriff's deputies say since Aug. 18, the Masjid Madera center has been the victim of a series of attacks. Three signs that read "No Temple for the God of terrorism at Ground Zero. ANB,""Wake up America, the Enemy is here. ANB" and "American Nationalist Brotherhood" were left at the center. On Friday, a brick was thrown at a wall. Officers are asking anyone with information about the attacks to contact the department.
© The Associated Press
MUSLIM CAB DRIVER SLASHED BY BOOZED-UP BIGOT JUST BACK FROM FILMING MARINES IN AFGHANISTAN (usa)
25/8/2010- A boozed-up bigot who just returned from filming U.S. Marines in Afghanistan used a pocket knife to slash a cabbie - just because the driver was Muslim, police said Wednesday. Michael Enright, 21, of upstate Brewster, was charged with felony attempted murder as a hate crime - among other crimes - after the sick attack on Ahmed Sharif, 43, Tuesday night. Enright slashed Sharif across the face, arm and hand after asking the Bangladesh-born cabbie if he was Muslim and then saying 'As-salaam alaikum' - which means 'peace be unto you' in Arabic, cops said. The suspect also yelled, "Consider this a checkpoint" - an apparent reference to security screening in Afghanistan - as he wildly thrust his knife through the open glass partition at Sharif, said Manhattan Assistant District Attorney James Zaleta. "The EMT on the scene said if the cut had been any longer or deeper he [Sharif] would have been dead on the scene," Zaleta said at Enright's arraignment Wednesday. Zaleta said Sharif was "sliced from his mid-neck half way up his cheek."
"This ... was a highly vicious attack on an innocent person based on his religion," Zaleta said in court. Mayor Bloomberg, who spoke to Sharif and invited him to City Hall Friday, said the unprovoked attack was clearly "motivated by anti-Muslim bias." "I assured him that ethnic or religious bias has no place in our city," Bloomberg said of his conversation with Sharif. "This attack runs counter to everything that New Yorkers believe, no matter what God we pray to." Enright was arraigned on charges of second-degree attempted murder as a hate crime and first-degree assault as a hate crime. He was also charged with criminal possession of a weapon and ordered held without bail. He faces 8 to 25 years in prison if convicted. In an odd twist, Enright was a volunteer for Intersections International, a Manhattan-based group that promotes peace among different religions. A spokesman confirmed he was filming for the group, which recently threw its support behind the controversial Park 51 mosque project near Ground Zero.
Sharif said he believes the vicious attack may have been rooted in the anti-Muslim fervor that has been inflamed by the mosque debate. "I feel very sad," Sharif said, according to a statement released by the Taxi Workers Alliance. "I never feel this hopeless and insecure before," added the Queens father of four who has been in the United States for 25 years. "Right now, the public sentiment is very serious (because of the Ground Zero mosque debate). All [taxi] drivers should be more careful." Enright was "very, very intoxicated" when he hailed Sharif's yellow cab at Second Ave. and E. 24th St. shortly after 6 p.m. Tuesday, a police source said. Enright, who asked to be taken to 43rd St. and Third Ave., was friendly when he first got into the cab, asking Sharif where he was from, how long had he been in America and inquiring about his religion. "As the cab was proceeding, the passenger asked, 'Are you Muslim?' and the driver said that he was,'" Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told reporters. After his initial flurry of questions, Enright grew silent for several minutes before suddenly attacking the unsuspecting Sharif. Sharif fought back and then stopped the cab at 43rd St. and Third Ave. - a bad break for Enright, because that's where an NYPD cop was stationed, Kelly said. "[Sharif] locked the vehicle, trapping the suspect in the back of the car," Kelly said. "Enright climbed out of the window - and that's when the officer saw him on the street." After the officer collared the unhinged filmmaker, he was arrested and shipped off to Bellevue Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation, police said.
© The New York Daily News
ANTI - LATINO HATE CRIMES SEEN FROM BALTIMORE TO ARIZONA (usa)
23/8/2010- Record-breaking high temperatures have been the norm this summer in the United States and other countries. But for Latinos, it’s been even hotter than the thermometer suggests, with one after another targeted for hate crimes around the country. Here’s a sampling of recent incidents:
* Early last Saturday in Baltimore, Martin Rayez, 51, was beaten to death with a piece of wood. The man arrested for the crime, Jermaine Holley, 19, allegedly confessed and told police that he “hated Hispanics.” He has been treated in the past for schizophrenia. The killing occurred in East Baltimore, the scene of other recent attacks on Latinos.
* Since April, there have been 11 assaults on Mexicans in the Staten Island city of Port Richmond, which has a burgeoning Latino population. All but one of the attacks is considered a bias-motivated crime carried out by blacks attacking Mexicans. There have been 26 suspected hate crimes on Staten Island this year, compared to 11 by this time last year, according to a story in The Los Angeles Times. For all of New York City, the numbers are 222 and 125, respectively.
* An Auburn, Wash. man was charged with violating the state’s hate crimes law last month after he allegedly pointed a gun at three Latino neighbors and threatened to shoot them. A police report stated that after his arrest, Thomas Hanson, 63, complained that his neighbors “were disrespecting him in his own country.” (They had asked him to turn down the volume on his music.) Hanson also sent U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) 238 E-mails, many of them ranting about illegal immigration and immigrants from Mexico.
* In June, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office in Phoenix said that the murder of a Mexican-American man a month earlier was a hate crime. Gary Thomas Kelley is charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Juan Varela. He also is charged with menacing Varela’s brother with a gun. “Hurry up and go back to Mexico or you’re gonna die,” Kelley shouted at Varela before shooting him in the neck, police said. The dead man was a third-generation, native-born American.
These incidents and others appear to be part of a general trend that has been in the making for several years. Anti-Latino crimes increased in each of the four years from 2003 through 2007, before dropping back slightly in 2008, according to FBI national hate crime statistics (2009 figures have not yet been compiled). In recent months, politicians and others have made statements that demonize Latinos and likely contribute to the atmosphere of violence. Two of the most outrageous recent examples: Texas Republican Congressmen Louie Gohmert and Debbie Riddle both claimed that pregnant terrorists plan to sneak into America to give birth to future terrorists who will automatically become U.S. citizens and eventually “help destroy our way of life,” as Gohmert put it. Both representatives claimed that former FBI officials divulged the terrorist baby threat to them. CNN asked Tom Fuentes, who served as the FBI’s assistant director in the office of international operations from 2004 to 2008 about the claims by Gohmert and Riddle. “There was never a credible report — or any report, for that matter … to indicate that there was such a plan for these terror babies to be born,” he said. Debunking myths like these about Hispanic immigrants won’t likely deter new ones from cropping up like stubborn weeds. And in today’s overheated immigration climate, it’s a good bet more Hispanics will be beaten, even killed, as the debate — if it can be called that — rages on.
© Hatewatch - Southern Poverty Law Center
TRIAL IN OXNARD KILLING OF GAY TEEN WILL USE SANTA BARBARA COUNTY JURORS(usa)
The jurist says intense news coverage in Ventura County could threaten Brandon McInerney's right to a fair trial. But the trial will still be held in Ventura County.
24/8/2010- Intense news coverage in Ventura County of the shooting death of gay teenager Lawrence "Larry" King prompted a judge Monday to order that the jurors be drawn from neighboring Santa Barbara County. Superior Court Judge Charles Campbell agreed with the defense's contention that Ventura County residents have been so saturated with press coverage of the sensational classroom slaying that 16-year-old defendant Brandon McInerney's right to a fair trial was threatened. But while jurors will be selected from southern Santa Barbara County, the trial will stay in Ventura County Superior Court, Campbell said at a Monday hearing. The judge said he would provide more details about the logistics of the jury selection at a Thursday briefing. Prosecutor Maeve Fox said it was her suggestion that jurors be drawn from the neighboring county. "It was a good resolution," she said. Defense attorneys Scott Wippert and Robyn Bramson were unavailable for comment.
McInerney had just turned 14 when he allegedly shot King execution-style in a computer class at E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard in February 2008. Student witnesses said King had expressed a romantic interest in McInerney, who was humiliated by the attention. The boys had verbally sparred in the days before the shooting. The case has garnered international attention from gay and lesbian groups, which see King as a victim of homophobia. McInerney's defenders say that school officials and the boys' parents should have done more to quell tensions between them. McInerney is being tried as an adult on a first-degree murder charge with a hate crime enhancement and could face 53 years to life in prison if convicted. While the saga has generated numerous articles in national publications, it has received heaviest coverage in the Ventura County Star, the local newspaper. Every twist and turn in the case has been covered by the paper, including long profiles of both the victim and the defendant and their troubled families.
Each story brings a fresh round of blog comments to the Star's website, with a majority registering negative opinions about McInerney. Veteran defense attorneys said Campbell's ruling gives McInerney the chance to defend himself before jurors who have heard relatively little about the case. Potential jurors in Santa Barbara County haven't been bombarded with a stream of news stories since the shooting, as has been the case in Ventura County, legal experts said. "If anything, he is back to a theoretically level playing field," said Steve Meister, a Los Angeles defense attorney and a former prosecutor. A clean slate will give McInerney the chance to explain the underlying motivations for his alleged crime, said James E. Blatt, who represented defendant Jesse James Hollywood in another high-profile murder case. "I don't think it's an issue of who did it — that's clear,'' Blatt said. . "The issue is why did he do it and the pressures he was under when he did it."
Meister and Blatt had differing opinions on which jury would lend a more sympathetic ear to McInerney. Both counties are mid-sized, with largely white, educated and prosperous populations. Blatt, who tried the Hollywood case in a Santa Barbara courthouse, said the presence of UC Santa Barbara and major artistic and cultural institutions in Santa Barbara gives its jury pool a more liberal bent. "It's probably better for the defense than Ventura County, which is very conservative," Blatt said. Meister, however, said Ventura County's reputation for "hanging juries" is undeserved. He has tried several criminal cases in the county and has been impressed with the fairness of its juries, Meister said. "Santa Barbara might have a little higher per-capita income," he said. "In Ventura County, you wouldn't believe how many KCRW listeners were on my juries." Attorneys have estimated that the case will take about five weeks to try. Wippert and Bramson have previously tried to remove Campbell from the case, declaring that he was pro-prosecution. Two appellate courts have denied their request.
© The Los Angeles Times
ROMA KILLINGS ACCUSED LINKED TO SECURITY SERVICES (Hungary)
After half a decade of random murders of Hungarian Gypsies, four suspects have been arrested amid claims they may have had links with the country’s various secret intelligence services.
22/8/2010- Now, with the Hungarian Defence Ministry having made a timid admission to the allegations, conspiracy theorists are having a field day. Over the years, six Roma, including a five-year-old boy, have been gunned down by unknown assailants, striking terror into Hungary’s half a million Gypsies. Last week, after what some are calling an unconscionable delay, police closed their investigations into the serial Gypsy killings and transferred the cases of the four suspects to the Pest County Superior Court. At a press conference, a police spokesman named the alleged assassins as Istvan Cs, Istvan K, Arpad Sandor K, and Zsolt P, as under Hungarian law suspects cannot be named while in preliminary detention. The four are charged with murdering six strangers in nine predominantly Gypsy villages, and injuring another five. In the raids they allegedly fired 78 shots and threw four firebombs, endangering the lives of 55 others. They are facing charges of premeditated murder, arms control violations and stealing weapons. They all pleaded not guilty.
Given the prevalent antagonism towards the “thieving, workshy Roma”, as they are labelled by the far right, it is widely assumed that the alleged murderers are neo-fascist activists. But in a startling twist to the emotive race-hate issue, further exacerbated by lynchings of Hungarians by Gypsy mobs, the possible involvement of state security organs for political ends has been unearthed. The Hungarian Defence Ministry admitted last week that the murder suspect Istvan Cs. had served in the Military Intelligence Office’s counter-intelligence section, but had left the service before the Gypsy murders. According to investigation sources, he was the driver at two separate Gypsy murders. A second accused, Istvan K, formerly a security-service informer, has been charged with three Roma murders, involvement in eight other attacks and masterminding an arms theft. Here the plot thickens because, after being on the radar of the civilian secret services for years, Istvan K was inexplicably removed from their watchlist just when he began to acquire illegal guns prior to the attacks.
According to Magyar Hirlap, a right-wing Budapest daily, the third serial murder suspect had family ties with the forces of law and order. His brother-in-law is a serving policeman and his sister is the personal assistant to the Hajdu-Bihar County’s police commissioner, a county in which several Roma shootings have taken place. In an extraordinary open letter on a far-right website, Arpad Sandor K, the fourth accused, charged the National Investigations Office with “once again impudently claiming ‘seamless intelligence work’ but failing to look at its own backyard [in the Roma murders]”. He accused his fellow murder suspect Istvan Cs of being a military intelligence officer and “a plant in the Debrecen cell, who ratted on his comrades”. In his letter, published on Barikad, an internet website sympathetic to the far-right Jobbik Party, Arpad Sandor K analysed and refuted all the police evidence in the case, including the DNA samples, foot and wheel marks, and spent cartridges found at the Tatarszentgyorgy murder site.
Last year, in response to a parliamentary inquiry, the Defence Ministry categorically denied any link to Istvan Cs. Last week, however, it admitted that the man had been one of its officers who worked, among other assignments, as a field intelligence officer in Kosovo. Last week, Ervin Demeter, the Orban government’s overseer of the security services, offered a reality check. He said that “the intelligence services could have prevented at least some of the [Gypsy] murders”, thus pointing an accusing finger at the previous Socialist administration’s national security track record. And at this point, conspiracy theories and a murderous reality appear to meld. The emerging picture reveals, in view of the Defence Ministry’s admission of one of the key accused’s links to military intelligence, the previous Socialist government’s exploitation for party-political ends of the country’s anti-Roma feelings.
The killings were to apparently discredit the ascendant neo-fascists with the Gypsy murders, appease public opinion and boost the Socialists’ standing in the popularity charts. Simple really: one ploy promising to kill three birds with one stone, with the added bonus of cowing the “criminal Gypsies” who were allegedly “getting above themselves with their human rights”. It is, of course, always possible that what the country is being presented with as facts are massaged images in a hall of mirrors, both from the left and from the right. At the same time, the possibility cannot be excluded that the four arraigned men slaughtered the Gypsies because of their own hate “of this inferior race”, or on behalf their party “cells” without the help of some or other secret service, but not without their knowledge.
© The Herald Scotland
EMMERDALES 'GAY' STAR DANNY MILLER ATTACKED (uk)
22/8/2010- Emmerdale star Danny Miller has been attacked by two drunken thugs over his controversial role as a gay teenager. The yobs threw punches at him after he had spent a night out watching his dad - comic Vince Miller - perform a show in Manchester. Danny, 19, who plays gay character Aaron Livesy, used his Twitter page to reassure fans, tweeting: "I was attacked by a couple of lads tonight but escaped unharmed. I just didn't want people worrying." After some of his 12,352 followers responded, he said: "It was Emmerdale-related." The incident came less than a fortnight after Danny (dating co-star Kirsty Leigh Porter, 21) revealed he had received hate mail from fans angry to learn he was straight in real life.
© The Mirror
Headlines 20 August, 2010
SIGNS OF HATE FOUND ON SCSU CAMPUS (usa)
20/8/2010- Southern Connecticut State University is investigating a hate crime on campus after someone defaced one of the buildings with racial slurs and symbols. “I just think it’s disgusting, promoting prejudice. It’s not right,” Tevin Padilla, a freshman at SCSU, said. According to university officials, a custodian found a swastika and the n-word written on two bulletin boards in the C-wing of Engleman Hall, a campus building with classrooms and offices. “It’s kind of messed up that someone would go out of their way and do something like that on public property,” Kevin Duffy, a SCSU freshman, said. “It’s not something we tolerate on this campus at all. It’s actually kind of scary that someone would actually go around and do something like that,” Connor Bray, another student, said. The university’s interim president sent out an e-mail telling the campus community about the incident. "Such hateful language and symbolism have no place in this academic community. While we have not determined that anyone was specifically targeted, we are all, in a sense, violated by such acts," Dr. Stanley Battle wrote. In 2008, there was a similar crime on campus where someone drew swastikas and racial slurs on two cars. Students said they’re surprised to see those actions on campus two years later. "As time goes by, we become more diverse, and stuff like this isn’t tolerated,” Padilla said.
© NBC Connecticut
SERIES OF RACIST MURDERS OF ROMA IN HUNGARY UNPARALLELED IN PRESENT-DAY EUROPE
17/8/2010- “Cowardly racist murders” – that’s what Romani Rose has called the recent attacks by neo-Nazis on Roma in Hungary. Rose was speaking on 2 August at the annual international commemoration at the site of the former extermination camp at Auschwitz. He went on to say the murders represented “a new dimension of the violence committed against this minority” and called on European governments to recognize Roma organizations as equal partners and to intensify cooperation with them. One week later, the Hungarian Police completed their investigation into the series of attacks and handed the file over to the state attorney. Media report that three men are to be charged with murder and a fourth, allegedly the driver, will be charged as an accomplice to one incident. Over the course of more than a year, six Roma people died as a result of the nine criminal acts under indictment.
At a commemoration of the Roma victims of the Holocaust held at the start of August in Hungary, János Bogdán, Jr. of the Party for Roma Unity (MCF) spoke of a “new Roma Holocaust” and pointed out that as a result of the recent parliamentary elections, numerous representatives of the “fascist party” Jobbik now sit in the Hungarian Parliament. According to Mária Silkó Szurmainé, a department head at the Hungarian National Resources Ministry, the recent economic crisis has brought citizens’ prejudices against minorities to the surface: “These problems, which were swept under the carpet for years, must be resolved. The Hungarians and the Roma do not face separate futures: Their future must be a joint one, and they must share responsibility for it.” After one of the most brutal of the attacks in Hungary last August, then-Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Vladimír Špidla said: “The Roma have become the target of an organized racist violence which feeds on political populism, verbal expressions of hatred, and media hogwash, making Roma the scapegoats for larger social problems.” Due to its previous governments’ unthrifty budget policies and its state debt, Hungary is one of the main victims of the global economic crisis, which has affected the daily life of a large number of its inhabitants.
Murder modeled on The Turner Diaries
The attacks featured a shocking brutality. The perpetrators selected Roma residences located on the outskirts of towns, specifically the very last house from which their escape route could be covered by a forest, or the last house on a street which could not be seen from the town. They then threw more than one Molotov cocktail at the targeted home and shot the Roma as they fled the ensuing fire. In one case they killed a five-year-old boy by shooting him in the head. These “executions” were performed with the same kind of felonious brutality that is described in detail in a book that has been called the neo-Nazi Bible: The Turner Diaries, a novel by US neo-Nazi William Pierce in which the main character has a good time shooting randomly selected Afro-Americans in the streets of the USA. The main aim of his efforts is to influence white-skinned people to either deport citizens of other skin colors from the USA or segregate them. At the start of August 2010, police in the US arrested a man at an airport in Atlanta suspected of committing a series of similar attempted murders against dark-skinned people in recent weeks there. The perpetrator injured or stabbed his victims using either a hammer or a knife. Police say the attacks were racially motivated.
A lengthy, desperate, and costly investigation
The investigation of these murderous attacks in Hungary was accompanied by partial inaction and numerous police mistakes similar to those committed during the investigation of arson attacks against Roma in the Silesian area of the Czech Republic. It often took a long time before police released any information whatsoever about the cases, and when they did release information, it was very vague, indicating that the probable motivation for the murders was revenge by loan sharks who had not received payment. For months the hypothesis that this was a series of racist attacks committed by the same group of perpetrators was rejected, even though the various attacks were very similar to one another in terms of how they were performed. The most brutal attack was responded to by an ambulance that did not arrive until almost an hour after the crime - without medical staff on board. One victim of the shooting was still alive when it arrived, but the crew did not succeed in saving his life. Local police said the fire had occurred due to an electrical short even though bullets were found at the scene, and the investigation of the case did not even begin until 10 hours after the crime had been committed. The police officers responsible were eventually disciplined in response to public pressure over a long period of time.
Eventually police increased the amount of the reward being offered for information about the perpetrators, which in the end reached the previously unseen amount of EUR 380 000 (that is not a typo). This breathtaking amount of money testifies to the amount of pressure being placed on police by the government, which primarily faced harsh criticism from the international community over the inability of the Hungarian authorities to investigate and halt this series of violent murders. FBI profilers even flew in from the US to assist Hungarian police in compiling profiles of the perpetrators and identifying them. No one ever got the reward. Police say they managed to track down the alleged perpetrators by wire-tapping a total of 4.5 million telephone calls. Experts estimate the investigation could not have cost taxpayers anything less than dozens of millions of euro. In mid-August of last year, a team of 120 detectives arrested the suspects at two night clubs in the eastern Hungarian town of Debrecín, where they were working as private security. Police allegedly also discovered the weapon used in the crimes at one of the clubs, a hunting rifle hidden in a secret space behind a wall in one of the rooms. A map was also found, marked with the sites of the previous attacks and three planned for the future. The day of the arrest was chosen in order to prevent the next attack. Of the six men arrested, two were released after interrogation and entered a witness protection program.
Charges filed two years after the first crime occurred
Zoltán Csizner, director of the Hungarian State Bureau of Investigation (NNI), took advantage of the closing of the investigation to present the results of the detectives’ work. The Slovak Press Agency TASR quoted him as saying members of the gang could be proven to have attacked nine sites, murdering six people and injuring dozens (five severely). They used approximately 80 rounds of ammunition total; at seven of the sites they also threw a total of 11 Molotov cocktails at residences. As if wanting to explain why the investigation had taken so long, Csizner said a series of such killings has never been seen anywhere in Europe. In his view, the suspects selected sites for attack where recent events had caused social unrest related to Roma. Another criterion was the possibility for a rapid escape from the crime scene. The motivation of the attacks was said to have been revenge for alleged wrongdoing committed by the Roma long ago (not, however, committed by the victims of the attacks) and an effort to spark fear in society. There was no personal connection between the victims and the perpetrators.
András Dócs, head of the detective division at NNI, said at the press conference that three of the four men detained were suspected of having shot the Roma. The fourth detainee, according to police, was the driver during two of the anti-Roma attacks. NNI said the attacks were exceptional in terms of their motivation, which unlike other cases was neither financial nor sexual, but purely racist. Media reported that three of the attackers had publicly endorsed racist opinions and two had previously been connected with the Hungarian branch of the neo-Nazi organization Blood and Honor. During the 1990s, this organization also had a chapter in the Czech Republic which led to the establishment of the main Czech neo-Nazi group, National Resistance (Národní odpor). One of those charged in Hungary had worked as a professional soldier and served with a foreign mission in Kosovo. The group carefully rehearsed their attacks. Investigators say their attack on a refugee camp in Debrecín was their first test with live ammunition.
The media report that some of the attorneys for those indicted deny their clients’ guilt. Even though the suspects are said to have admitted to having been present at several crime scenes, they have denied taking part in the crimes which injured people. The expectation is that it will not at all be easy to convict the suspects of participating in specific crimes. Only one witness ever looked any of the perpetrators in the eyes: A 13-year-old Roma girl who survived the attack with serious injuries (her mother did not survive). Police are refusing to report the names of those detained and have not revealed which of the 15 total attacks from that time period they have managed to solve.
An international construction brigade helps the victims
Reconstruction of one of the burned-out homes is currently taking place in Hungary at the instigation of representatives of the German Football Union. During preparations for a match between Germany and Hungary, Theo Zwanziger, head of the German Football Union (DFB), asked representatives of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma in Heidelberg how the union might help the victims of this racism. The Council turned to a branch of the International Building Camps (Internationaler Bauorden) in the nearby town of Ludwigshafen, which has been organizing building camps for years. In collaboration with Hungarian Roma organizations, they contacted the victims’ families to ask whether they would be interested in assistance. Three towns in which Roma homes had been burned down were eventually selected. In the town of Tatárszentgyörgy, approximately 80 km south of Budapest, the most brutal attack of all took place last February. Those shot were a father and his five-year-old son. The mother of the family hid herself and an infant from the assailants’ gunfire by staying in the burning house. One year after the attack, the survivors had nowhere to live and their insurance company was refusing to pay compensation for the damages so they could buy a new apartment.
This past May, a delegation of representatives of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma and the football unions of both countries visited the family along with Petra Pau, Vice-Chair of the German Parliament, in order to negotiate how construction would proceed. The mother of the murdered five-year-old boy had moved into a relative’s home with her other children, but in the end she decided to return to her own home if it would be reconstructed. During the visit, the guests gave the local elementary school gifts of football t-shirts and footballs. The DFB reported about this visit on its website, but the published text does not mention the racist attacks. This summer, volunteers from Germany, Poland and Romania as well as members of the surviving family transformed the ruined house into a new home. Volunteers received tickets and air travel to the Germany-Hungary match at the end of May as a reward for their work.
By Markus Pape, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
RUSSIAN PROFESSOR ACCUSED OF HEADING NEO-NAZI GROUP
16/8/2010- Russian prosecutors say a teacher at a Federal Protective Service (FSO) academy heads a neo-Nazi group accused of several violent attacks in the southwestern city of Oryol this summer, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports. Viktor Lukonin, a professor in the academy's physical education department, is suspected of leading a neo-Nazi group that calls itself "the head of groups linked to the Central Black-Earth Region of occupied Russia." Lukonin, 31, was fired from the FSO academy on July 29 and was arrested by police on August 8. Law enforcement officials said today that from July 16 to August 5 the neo-Nazi group attacked several businesses and police stations in Oryol. An Oryol court is charging the group with at least four crimes, including setting fire to a police station, an explosion at a local prosecutor-general's office, and an explosion at the cafe Idira, which was owned by people from the North Caucasus.
Yulia Dorofeeva, an aide in Oryol's investigation office, told RFE/RL that a probe into the explosion is still ongoing. Four people were injured in the incident. "Currently we have seven people in jail aged 18-32," she said. "We have also determined their connections to several other crimes." The neo-Nazi group claims on a website to have taken in part in "the destruction of seven police stations, two prosecutor-general's offices, the destruction of the store Eros, and attacking meetings and stores owned by people from the North Caucasus," among other incidents. Kirill Levit, deputy head of the investigation into the case, told RFE/RL that in the basement underneath Lukonin's garage police found "the makings of a bomb manufacturing workshop" and confiscated two sawed-off shotguns, two pistols, and the components for homemade bombs and four Molotov cocktails. Levit said the group was "seemingly planning more, increasingly violent attacks" and there are suspicions the group was part of a larger pan-Russian, neo-Nazi organization. The FSO academy has refused comment on Lukonin.
Dmitry Kraukhin, a human rights activist in Oryol, told RFE/RL the rise of such extremist groups is a result of local authorities' inability to deal with economic and sociological problems in Oryol in recent years. "In my opinion it is sparked by too much societal stress, which was actually created by the government," he said. The Oryol Oblast has one of the lowest standards of living in Russia. The Oryol neo-Nazi group also claims on its website to be part of the Primorsky Partisans, a group that attacked police stations in Russia's Far East and is accused of responsibility for the killing of two police officers. The Oryol group says on its website that "Oryol used to be a quiet provincial town warmed by the sun, but now it is on the brink of complete moral disintegration." They blame the change in the city on "people coming from the Caucasus and Central Asia as well as the police and prosecutor general." They pledge to carry out more attacks in the future. The eight alleged members of the neo-Nazi group in police custody face 20 years to life in prison if convicted.
MIGRANT WORKERS IN PETERBOROUGH: HATE CRIME AND HOUSING (uk)
BBC Look East has been examining issues surrounding immigration and migrant workers in the East of England.
16/8/2010- In Peterborough, many of those filmed continue to live in makeshift tent encampments or in garden shed. Others live in sub-standard, unregistered, rented accommodation and pay for that privilege. Reporters Emma Baugh and Fatima Manji also examined the lack of government funding for essential services and discovered an increase in hate crime.
Migrant tent encampments
PCSOs Lucie Vaclavikova and Leanne Temperton were filmed as they investigated the number of migrant workers living rough in Peterborough. One Polish worker was being moved on for the second time. He explained that he was now planning to move to Manchester where he had heard that it was easier to find a job. Some of the encampments were well-hidden in the undergrowth, but in the middle of Peterborough's busy Boongate roundabout, tents had been pitched and their occupants said they did not intend to move. They said that conditions there were still better than in their own country.
East immigration pressures grow
In the past five years, the number of migrant workers in the eastern region has increased by 60%. In Peterborough, one in every five workers was born overseas. At Fulbridge Primary School in the city, the pupils speak 27 different languages. Ian Erskine is the head teacher. He said that the school was having to turn away one family every day because so many people were moving to the area and wanting to enrol their children at the school. Local MPs have urged central government to provide more funding to help cover the increasing costs of education, healthcare and policing. Stewart Jackson, the Conservative MP for Peterborough, said: "Cambridgeshire has had to bear the burden and has had a pretty rough deal."
Hate crime in a 'vibrant melting pot'
In the past year there were 600 reports of hate crime in Peterborough. Of these, 170 occurred in schools. Asta Remezaite moved from Lithuania to Peterborough six years ago. She had no problems for the first five years, but in recent months she believes she has become a victim of hate crime. She has experienced verbal abuse, eggs have been thrown at her home and her car has been vandalised on several occasions. Mahebub Ladha is the director of Peterborough Racial Equality Council. He said: "There is no doubt in my mind that race relations in Peterborough are not as good as they were, even 10 years ago." The council said negative publicity about migrant workers and increased pressure on essential services had contributed to the situation.
Poor housing conditions
Housing officers from Peterborough City Council have discovered that many migrant workers are living in unsuitable conditions in rented accommodation. They said that private landlords were exploiting foreign workers, many of whom did not know their rights and struggled with the language. Locating unregistered properties and tracking down landlords is a slow process. The council's enforcement officers usually have to rely on the tenants for information about their landlords, and this often requires the use of translators. Jo Hodges, from the council, said: "We have to make sure that we explain very carefully and make sure that they understand everything."
The population surge
Across the East, there has been a surge in population due largely to an influx of migrant workers from Europe. Skilled migrant workers from non-EU countries said they may be forced to leave under new plans to limit the number of foreign workers in the UK. But the government's proposed cap on immigration will not affect those coming to the UK from EU member countries, and therefore may not fully address the problems of an increased population in this region.
© BBC News
ALBANIA 'ROAD RAGE' DEATH SPARKS ETHNIC FEARS
16/8/2010- The death of a Greek minority man in an apparent road rage incident in Southern Albania has provoked fears of unrest among ethnic communities. Officials from Athens, Tirana and the Orthodox Church have condemned the killing of Aristotel Gumi, 35, who died after being struck by a car in his home village of Himara four days ago following an argument with a group of Albanians. Grigoris Delavekouras, the Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman, condemned the death, calling on the entire Albanian political class to react. “Unacceptable criminal acts like that aim to arouse ethnic tension with unpredictable consequences and undermine the bilateral relations between Greece and Albania,” he said. Sali Berisha, the Albanian Prime Minister, said: “If the motives reported in the media are right, this was a terrible crime, an extremely fanatical and blind act.” Vangjel Dule, the head of the minority party, the Union for Human Rights, PBDNJ, said in a statement on Monday that only officers from the Greek minority should police Himara to avoid problems in the future. Gumi is reported to have got into a quarrel with an Albanian man and four of his friends at a roadside bar on Thursday night. He was allegedly run down by a car driven by his rival as he fled on his motorcycle.
The local community has been angered over reports the suspects turned on Gumi over his use of the Greek language. Dozens of townspeople from Himara and nearby villages used boulders to block the main road connecting the town with city of Vlora in protest over the killing, leaving thousands of tourists stranded for nearly 14-hours. Seven youths from the nearby city of Vlora have been charged with Gumi's premeditated murder and aiding a fugitive, after being arrested on Friday. The main suspect reported to police on Sunday evening. The head of Albania’s Orthodox Church, Archbishop Janullatos, who is also Greek, called on the authorities to inform the public about the incident “in order not to ruin the climate of coexistence between the two ethnic communities”. In a string of interviews with the local media, the mayor of Himara Vasil Bollano, called the death “unprecedented,” saying it was motivated by ethnic hatred. A controversial figure, Bollano was acquitted by an appeals court two months ago over charges of abuse of power for ordering the removal of road signs because they were not bilingual. He has previously declared large areas of southern Albania as 'Greek land' and claimed autonomy for the region. Estimates of the Greek minority in Albania range around three per cent of the total population.
© Balkan Insight
Headlines 13 August, 2010
GROUND ZERO CONTROVERSY FUELED ATTACKS ON TEXAS MOSQUE, ISLAMIC CENTER PRESIDENT SAYS (usa)
10/8/2010- The president of an Islamic Center in Texas says backlash against the proposed mosque at Ground Zero has made its way over to the Lone Star State and is manifesting itself in acts of hatred against his congregation. Jamal Qaddura, president of the Dar El-Eman Islamic Center in Arlington, says it started with a disturbing act of vandalism. “On a Friday, early morning, somebody came and sprayed extremely obscene graffiti in the parking lot. It’s a huge graffiti drawing of Uncle Sam having sex with God, with Allah,” Qaddura told FoxNews.com. That same weekend, Qaddura said, somebody tried to burn down the mosque by cutting old gas lines and, when they were unsuccessful, went after the playground instead. “They cut them trying to ignite a fire, and nothing happened because we don’t have gas in the building. We have cut off the gas, so instead they set fire to the playground, which is surrounded by trees. And it’s a miracle that only the playground burned and not the trees, otherwise it would have been a huge disaster -- not just for the mosque, but for the surrounding area, all the neighborhoods and apartment complexes surrounding this mosque,” Qaddura said.
Arlington police and fire departments as well as the FBI launched investigations into the incident. But Qaddura said that didn’t stop a man from sneaking onto the property again days later. “He came in around the same time, after midnight, and there were four guys there in the basketball court in the back … and when they saw each other, he took off and stopped by the entrance, almost 1,000 to 1,500 feet away. And he started cussing them and calling them racial slurs,” he said. “They keep trying. A lot of people are passing by and calling names. It’s just something very despicable.” The FBI and Arlington Police Department confirmed that they are investigating a July 23 graffiti incident and a July 25 playground fire at the mosque. “We’ve not determined yet if there’s any sort of hate crime element to it. And if there is, then that’s something we would give to the district attorney’s office as evidence so they can consider whether or not to enhance the charge if that case were ever to go to trial,” Tiara Richard, spokeswoman for the Arlington Police Department, told FoxNews.com.
Special Agent Mark White, media coordinator in the FBI’s Dallas office, said the bureau couldn't discuss its investigation other than to say it's ongoing. "We're not commenting on what may be behind it because we're trying to find out who the person responsible is," White told FoxNews.com. Qaddura says it’s obvious the crimes were fueled by hate and, more specifically, by backlash against the proposal to build an Islamic center at Ground Zero. “This started after they started this controversy about the mosque in New York. Not just us, by the way. This is happening to a majority of the mosques in many, many states. These people, they want their First Amendment and their freedom of speech at the expense of the Muslims' First Amendment and their freedom to worship,” Qaddura says. “We should respect as Americans each other’s right for religious freedom.” But with the Muslim holiday of Ramadan beginning Aug 11, Qaddura says, both Muslims and law enforcement in Arlington will be on high alert. “We met with the police just last Thursday, all the mosques in the area and the Arlington police command, and they are taking very, very vigorous measures to protect the mosques during Ramadan,” Qaddura said.
The Arlington Police Department says it is stepping up patrols to all area mosques, and that one of the most important pieces to preventing future acts of vandalism against the mosques is to find the person or people responsible for the damage that has already occurred. “At this point we’re just trying to determine who did this and we haven’t reached the point where we can say this individual or these individuals committed this act or these acts together,” Richard said. “So again we’re still investigating, still gathering information trying to see who committed these acts.”
© Fox News
HOMOPHOBIC HATE CRIME RISES(uk)
10/8/2010- More than half of people responding to a survey said they had experienced homophobic hate crime in Portsmouth in the last year - a 12 per cent rise from a similar survey in 2004. For the third time since 2000, Portsmouth City Council surveyed the local Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community about levels of homophobic crime and same-sex domestic abuse. Results from just under 100 respondents showed 59 per cent had experienced one or more incidents or homophobic crimes in the last year - an increase of 12 per cent from a survey in 2004 and much higher than the national average of 12 per cent. In addition, 29 per cent said they had experienced some kind of abuse - verbal or physical - within a current or former relationship. At the same time, the survey found LGBT's confidence in public services was on the increase and there was a 24 per cent increase in the awareness of police 'LAGLO's (lesbian and gay liaison officers) who are trained to assist the gay community.
© The Portsmouth News
ITALIAN HOMOPHOBIA - A LETTER TO THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
We would like to raise your attention on the recent increase of homophobia in Italy.
Every day, we are seeing a growing number of hate crimes being committed against people because of their sexual orientation and their gender identity. In the last two months, Arcigay recorded an exponential number of cases all over the country of lesbian and gay people and couples being threatened, assaulted or exposed to public ridicule just because they were walking hand by hand, kissing or standing outside LGBT bars.
Recently, In Ostia, a seaside town near Rome, a gay couple was forced out of a beach resort after other people complained that they were kissing1. In Milan, in the last month alone, our local branch recorded five assaults to gay people, who were attacked and beaten only because they were standing outside LGBT bars or public spaces where they were used to meet. In two other circumstances, a homosexual couple in Torre del Lago (Tuscany) and another one in Cagliari (Sardinia) who were just kissing on the beach were targeted. Passers-by threatened them to call the police if they didn’t stop. In another incident, hospital treatment was needed in Pesaro, where two young gay people were assaulted and beaten outside a gay bar.
Together with the increasing homophobia, LGBT bars and pubs throughout the country are also systematically harassed with unreasonable controls and exposed to constant and obsessive audits by different authorities. Outdoor venues where gay people usually meet are sifted by the local police or fenced or even closed down by local authorities – who use as a pretext that homosexual people meeting there are “immoral”. For example, this has happened in the Piave Spresiano riverside (Padova), where the town’s mayor has agreed to create “groups of volunteers” to patrol the venue, and has said that homosexuals are sick6; or on the Oglio a Soncino riverside (Cremona), where the police has been asked to raid the place; or again two other beaches, in Gaeta (Latina) and Ancona, where local authorities have installed fences and CCTV cameras to prevent gay encounters.
LGBT people in Italy are beginning to live in an intolerable climate of fear, which reminds of a sort of witch hunting. This is a country where not only the rights of LGBT couple are not recognized – despite a recent Constitutional Court ruling10 – but, more alarming, a country where the Parliament rejected a bill that contained measures to fight homophobia – stating (and putting in writing) that the very expression “sexual orientation” is in itself “ambiguous”, as it could include things like paedophilia, zoophilia, necrophilia and incest.
We ask for your help to raise concern with the Italian government and institutions over this new wave of homophobia. Italy has never been a country where LGBT people have been treated equally, but now it is beginning to be even unsafe for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual people.
RACISM MAY LIE BEHIND ATTACK ON ATHLETE (Ireland)
10/8/2010- Gardaí in Limerick who were yesterday investigating a serious assault on a champion Ethiopian athlete have not ruled out a racist motive. They also want to find out why the attack was not reported to gardaí. Lebeta Debela, 22, who won the Limerick half-marathon last May, was knocked unconscious while out running on Knockalisheen Road. He has been living at the refugee centre on Knockalisheen Road since April 2009. After being viciously attacked by two men, Mr Debela was taken to the Mid-Western Regional Hospital. He was allowed home after treatment. The assault happened last Thursday afternoon as he was on his way to meet other members of Limerick AC for a training session.
Supt Frank O’Brien from Henry Street Gardaí Station said they only became of the attack yesterday and were concerned that a serious assault should be carried out on any person, especially a foreign national. "We would be very concerned about a serious assault. If there was a racist undertone to it, that would be a particularly distressing and worrying development, if this victim was targeted because of his race. We are very anxious to try and identify the culprits." Supt O’Brien said they had no report of the attack on the Garda Pulse System and they will try and ascertain why they did not receive a report or complaint. Supt O’Brien said: "We have got our ethnic liaison people to meet with the victim."
Paddy O’Connell, PRO of Limerick Athletic Club, said Mr Debela was an outstanding athlete and had won the Limerick half-marathon and the county road and cross-country championships this year. Mr O’Connell said: "He was running on the road and moved in to let a car pass. As he did so two fellows attacked him and he was knocked unconscious. "Somebody rang for an ambulance and he was brought to hospital. Lebeta was on his way to meet other club athletes at Shelbourne Park for training." Mr O’Connell said he was not aware of any racial motive for the attack, but said the athlete had nothing other than his running gear on him at the time.
© The Irish Examiner
SUSPECTS CAUGHT IN MURDERS OF ROMA IN HUNGARY ARE EXTREME-RIGHT PROMOTERS
9/8/2010- The Hungarian State Investigation Office (NNI) has completed its investigation into a series of anti-Roma attacks in 2008 and 2009 during which six Roma were murdered including a five-year-old child, the MTI agency reports. NNI is now suggesting prosecutors indict four detained suspects. News server Novinky.cz reports the detainees are promoters of extreme-right organizations. The attacks occurred at nine separate places. They involved 78 instances of gunfire and Molotov cocktail attacks on seven homes. Police say the attacks are exceptional not only in the annals of Hungarian crime, but in those of Europe. Six Roma did not survive the racist incursions, and another five (including another child), were seriously injured. Investigators say the attacks put a total of 55 people in danger.
András Tóth of the NNI said at a press conference that three of the four men detained are suspected of having fired shots at the Roma. Police say the fourth detainee was the driver in two anti-Roma attacks. The NNI says the motivation for the attacks is also exceptional. They are said to have been revenge for an alleged wrong committed by members of the Roma community a long time ago and an attempt to create fear in the community. The victims were unconnected to one another and the places were selected completely at random. The attacks took place in central and eastern Hungary between July 2008 and August 2009 and prompted international outrage. The attacks mostly took place at night, when the Roma were asleep. In November 2008, two Roma lost their lives in the village of Nagycsécs in the north-east when attackers threw Molotov cocktails at their homes and fired at them with shotguns as they fled. Last February, a Roma father and his young son did not survive an attack in the municipality of Tatárszentgyörgy. Both were killed fleeing their burning home. Last August, in the municipality of Kisléta in the east of the country, a 45-year-old Roma woman was shot and her 13-year-old daughter suffered serious injuries.
In the Czech Republic, a Roma family in Vítkov became the target of an attack last April when arsonists set their house on fire. The family’s youngest member, Natálka, suffered serious burns over 80 % of her body during the blaze. The trial of the four alleged assailants has been underway since May. The Roma community in Hungary is the country’s largest national minority, comprising 5 – 7 % of its 10 million inhabitants. Along with the country’s growing economic problems and unemployment, Roma are more and more frequently becoming the target of seditious attacks by extremist political parties such as the ultra-right “Movement for a Better Hungary” (Jobbik), which made it into parliament during the recent elections.
translated by Gwendolyn Albert
Headlines 6 August, 2010
BE ASHAMED - YOU HAVE BOUGHT FROM JEWS AGAIN (Romania)
5/8/2010- According to MEDIAFAX news agency, three young people were arrested by the Romanian police after they posted, on the wall of a Kaufland Supermarket in Transylvania, an anti-Semitic intimidating poster. On the poster was written “Be ashamed. You have bought from Jews again”. According to the news agency, the text is identical to the text used in Hungary, during WWII, against the Jews. The three young people are members of the “Hungarian Guard – Wass Albert Battalion” organization. The creation of extremist organizations which are reviving the fascist movements in Transylvania was facilitated by the lack of legal action against the growing presence and activity conducted by Jobbik party in that area of Romania.
Jobbik is the far-right, Hungarian extremist party which gains increasing power in Hungary. Since 2008 Jobbik is actively involved in the development of nationalistic movements in Transylvania. Last week the creation of a new Jobbik fan group was announced. Since 2009, MCA Romania warned several times against the imported extremist activity. Unfortunately no measures were taken. In this context the display of the anti-Semitic poster comes as no surprise. Maybe now, the Romanian authorities will act not only individually, against the three anti-Semites, but also on a broader scale, against the fast growing extremist movements which are fed by imported hatred. In conclusion, we also hope to see the same kind of fast action conducted against anti-Semites and extremists, members of other Romanian extremist organizations, who, freely are denying the Holocaust and constantly are spreading hatred against the Jews in Romania.
© MCA Romania
2 NY MEN GET DECADES IN PRISON IN HATE CRIME DEATH(usa)
5/8/2010- Two men convicted of beating an Ecuadorean immigrant to death after mistaking him and his brother for a gay couple were sentenced to the maximum Thursday and will spend decades in prison. Keith Phoenix was convicted of murder as a hate crime in the December 2008 death of Jose Sucuzhanay and sentenced to 37 years to life in prison. His co-defendant, Hakim Scott, was convicted of manslaughter but acquitted of a more serious murder charge. He was sentenced to 37 years in prison. Both men were also convicted of attempted assault of Jose's brother, Romel. Phoenix's first case ended in a mistrial after a juror refused to deliberate. The victim's mother, Julia Quituna, traveled from Cuenca, Ecuador, and sat in the courtroom with three of her surviving 11 children. Romel Sucuzhanay and Quituna spoke, barely above a whisper, through a Spanish interpreter, saying their lives were forever altered. Scott and Phoenix were remorseful at the hearing, apologizing to their families and to the Sucuzhanays and reiterating their belief that the case was about a fight that escalated, not a premeditated attack. "I want to offer my deepest, humblest apology for the outcome of that night," Phoenix said. "I swear to God that is not what I intended to happen."
Scott said he was raised in a family with morals and begged Judge Patricia DiMango to give him a second chance. "Not a day goes by when my heart does not hurt," he said. But DiMango was not swayed. She told Phoenix it was "beyond the comprehension of any civilized person" that someone motivated "by the sport of it could take another human being's life in such a cruel and violent manner." The judge called Scott the first physical catalyst because he got out of a car and broke a bottle over Jose Sucuzhanay's head. The brothers were walking home, arm in arm, from a bar after a party at a Brooklyn church on Dec. 7, 2008, a cold night. Romel Sucuzhanay had put his coat around his brother to keep him warm and was helping him walk because he was drunk. The defendants, also leaving a party, pulled up in an SUV and began yelling anti-gay and anti-Hispanic slurs, according to trial testimony. Jose Sucuzhanay became upset and tried to kick the wheel of the SUV, and Scott got out and smashed the beer bottle over his head, then chased Romel Sucuzhanay down the block with it, according to trial testimony. Phoenix grabbed a bat from the back of the SUV and attacked Jose Sucuzhanay, cracking his skull, according to testimony.
The two drove away and were captured about 20 minutes later on surveillance footage crossing into the Bronx. Prosecutors ended their closing arguments by showing footage of Phoenix on a bridge, smiling. Members of Phoenix's and Scott's families wept loudly in the courtroom after sentencing. They refused to speak to reporters outside court. Quituna said in Spanish that she felt bad for them. "As a mother, I feel sad for the family of those who took my son," she said, quietly closing her eyes to gather her thoughts. "But they had no right to take the life of my son and leave his two children orphaned. For me, it is the greatest pain in my life." Jose Sucuzhanay's brother Diego, who has acted as a family spokesman since the attack, said they would set up a foundation in Jose's honor to help the NYPD provide rewards to find those whose attacks are motivated by hate. "Today's sentencing sends a message," he said. "The city will not tolerate hate against anyone ... against immigrants. I am sorry my brother had to die for this message."
© The Associated Press
CHICANA/O STUDIES DEPARTMENT TARGETED BY HATE CRIME (usa)
4/8/2010- A racial slur was written on a Chicano studies professor’s door in Jerome Richfield. Chicana/o studies Professor Xocoyotzin Herrera reported the incident to David Rodriguez, Chicano studies department chair, who immediately notified CSUN Police. “The police used the term ‘hate crime’ and we agree,” Rodriguez said. A swastika and “U.S.= white power” were found on Chicano studies professor Jorge Garcia’s office door. Garcia was notified by a general e-mail sent by Rodriguez to the entire department. Rodriguez said he thinks the act may have been in response to a photo of undocumented immigrants and a card reading “Alto Arizona” which were on Garcia’s door. “Maybe it’s toward him, maybe it’s toward the department,” Rodriguez said. Rodriguez said the department may have been targeted because it is the largest in the nation. It is unknown when the act was done. Rodriguez said the building was open until 5 p.m. on Monday and he had come in at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday and had not noticed anything. Rodriguez said he thinks this act could be linked to another incident that occurred about a month ago where Chicana/o studies Assistant Professor Peter Garcia said the words “Mexicans go home” were written on his office door and ketchup had been smeared on six flyers advertising guest speakers and musicians in the spring semester. “I just thought it was a prank,” Peter Garcia said. He added that there is graffiti in the men’s room with swastikas and messages attacking MEChA and the Chicana/o studies department so, he said, he thought it was something similar. “We’re hoping they catch the person and we want to prosecute if they do,” Rodriguez said.
© The Daily Sundial
CRIMES AGAINST HOMELESS HEADS TO LEGISLATURE (usa)
4/8/2010- In January 2006, Broward County became the site of several brutal, unprovoked attacks on homeless men by three teenaged boys. They used sticks and baseball bats on victims targeted simply because they were homeless. Yet it was another state, Maryland, that became the first in the country to include the homeless in its hate crimes legislation. On May 11, 2010, Governor Charlie Crist signed into law a bill that would add homelessness to the list of hate crime enhancements in the state of Florida, making Florida the second state in the nation to include the homeless in its hate crimes legislation. The following week, Governor Crist did a ceremonial signing of the bill at Esplanade Park in Fort Lauderdale, a few feet from where Norris Gaynor was killed. "While it's too soon to claim victory, this bill is certainly moving in the right direction. Passing this bill is an important step toward protecting some of the most vulnerable members of our society," Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti said. "I want to thank Representative Ari Porth and Senator Jeremy Ring for sponsoring this legislation and extend my gratitude to the representatives and senators of the various subcommittees for moving the bill forward."
Currently, in order for a hate crime penalty to be added to an offense, the crime has to be based on race, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation. If this bill passes it will make violent attacks against the homeless a hate crime, as well. "With the passage of this good bill, homeless individuals across Florida will now have enhanced protection from the shameful acts that once tortured their community," Representative Porth said. As a member of the task force, BSO Commander Richard Wierzbicki traveled to Tallahassee and testified before the subcommittees about the severity of the homeless situation in Broward and the state. "Many legislators had no idea that Florida has led the nation on attacks on homeless individuals for several years," Wierzbicki said. "People who are viciously attacked because they don't have a place to live deserve to be listed in Florida's hate crime law." Broward Partnership for the Homeless honored Sheriff Al Lamberti, BSO Hate Crimes Task Force Commander Rick Wierzbicki and Representative Ari Porth for their joint efforts in passage of the hate crimes bill.
© The Sun Sentinel
CYPRUS PROBLEM IS FUELLING RACISM (opinion)
Defining each other only as 'Turkish' or 'Greek' has left Cyprus with a victim complex, struggling to cope with rising immigration
By James Mackay
3/8/2010- In Nicosia last week, marchers from the ultra-nationalist youth group ELAM (Greek popular front) attacked two Asian bystanders. A Nigerian man was beaten and forced into the path of a moving car. This incident takes its place in the recent litany of violence against foreign workers, students or, in the most notorious case, a 15-year-old Afro-Cypriot assaulted by 40 of her classmates while their teachers stood by. Earlier this year, the Palestinian community centre in Larnaca was vandalised, while the headquarters of the anti-racist organisation KISA are regularly graffitied with swastikas. It is typical for another reason – the general absence of public sympathy. The teachers' union obstructed punishment of the schoolgirl's attackers, and the Cypriot police are so unwilling to even record racially aggravated assaults that many non-white migrants no longer bother. Listening to opinions on TV phone-ins and talk radio, it becomes clear that the attitude of wider society is that "i xeni" (foreigners) should not be here in the first place, and so deserve whatever they get.
There is an irony here, given the number of Cypriots who emigrated in the 60s and 70s to seek a better life abroad. Indeed, some estimates put the number of diaspora Cypriots as being greater than the remaining population of the island. As Denis MacShane remarked last week, Cypriots have become a formidable enough voting block in London that they may prove a significant obstacle to David Cameron's desire for closer ties with Turkey. Of course, Cyprus is not alone in struggling to cope with rising immigration. Indeed, due to geographical proximity to both Africa and Asia, and to the porous Green Line, Cyprus has one of the highest rates of migration – both legal and illegal – in Europe. Nonetheless, there is something uniquely callous in the Cypriot attitude to asylum seekers, economic migrants and, to put it most simply, non-whites of all kinds. It is more striking given the low crime and unemployment rates, the high GDP per capita compared with all neighbouring nations, and the island's long history of welcoming outsiders (such as refugees from the Armenian genocide in 1915).
The major source of such disregard for people outside one's own ethnic group is the Cyprus problem, and no solution currently on the table would address this. Whether one chooses to date the situation to the invasion by Turkey in 1974, the coup by junta-supported Greek Cypriots the same year, the bombings by Turkey in 1964, the attempt by Greek Cypriots to tear up the constitution in 1963, or simply to the British colonial strategy of divide and rule, the fact is that Cypriots have been split along ethnic lines far beyond living memory. The sandbags and barbed wire of the Green Line that runs through the middle of Nicosia are only the most potent reminder of this. Since 1974, the international conversation about Cyprus has been of "bi-communal solutions". Both sides have formally committed to separate administrations for Greek and Turkish Cypriots plus a central assembly where representatives of the two sides will meet in equal numbers. Another possible solution, talked of with increasing frequency, is of a permanent partition into two states. External parties – the UN, EU, UK, Greece and Turkey – allow no other possibilities to be discussed.
Allowing only two ethnicities into the national conversation encourages zero-sum thinking, where "we" can only win if "they" lose. Both sides try hard to portray themselves as the only victims of the conflict, often in toe-curlingly exaggerated language. Like all victim complexes, the Cypriot version leaves little room for nuanced understanding of a newly multicultural country. Faced in the 1950s with the need to formally assign minorities to one of the two permitted groups, Cypriot authorities decided the question along religious lines, with the mostly Muslim Roma becoming "Turkish" and the Catholic Maronites "Greek". How might they deal with today's growing Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish populations? Why should their descendants be forced to become "Greek" or "Turkish"? Without external pressure to admit that the biggest injustices on the island these days are practiced against non-indigenous populations, Cypriots will continue to assume a pose of self-righteous victimhood.
© Comment is free - Guardian
IN POLAND, SHABBATONS FOR NON-JEWS TO COMBAT ANTI-SEMITISM
By Ruth Ellen Gruber
2/8/2010- Whenever I visit Poland, I'm struck by how the intensity of the Jewish presence dwarfs the tiny number of Jews who actually live in the country. Even with the resurgence of Jewish life since the fall of communism, organized Jewish communities exist in fewer than a dozen Polish cities, and only the Warsaw community numbers much more than a few hundred people. Yet each year sees hundreds of Jewish-themed festivals, conferences, educational projects, commemorative activities, publications and other initiatives throughout the country. "I often joke that the mayor of every small town now feels obliged to make excuses if he or she has no Jewish festival," said Anna Dodziuk, a Jewish activist in Warsaw.
Dodziuk published a book this year on Poland's largest and most famous Jewish festival, the nine-day Festival of Jewish Culture in Krakow, which has been going strong since 1988. "To put it in short," she said, "it is politically correct now to explore the Jewish history of the local communities, to commemorate Jews of a shtetl who perished in Holocaust, to celebrate somehow Jewish culture." The activities are meant to educate and memorialize, but they coincide with a Jewish presence that is glaringly visible in more negative contexts, too, and this is also part of the paradox.
Anti-Semitic graffiti is shockingly widespread. Spray-painted Stars of David hanging from gallows deface countless walls. Much of this, however, likely has little to do with actual Jews. The ugly scrawls are the work of soccer fans who may have no idea what Judaism is but have adopted Jewish symbols as pejoratives with which to bash their opponents. Meanwhile, figurines of Orthodox Jews clutching coins fill souvenir stalls in Warsaw, Krakow and some other cities. The imagery harks back to the stereotype of Jews as greedy moneylenders, but the figurines are marketed today as abstract good-luck talismans.
"When a member of the city council from a Polish town came to visit me in the States not long ago, he brought a present," said Michael Traison, an American Jewish lawyer who has offices in Chicago and Warsaw. "It was a painting of a Jew counting money, with a dollar bill stuck in its back. He obviously had no idea that the image could be offensive." Trying to make sense out of the disparity is a cottage industry among scholars, educators, policymakers, communal leaders and ordinary citizens.
How do you balance an abstract evocation of Jews and Jewish life with the real thing? And how do you prevent stereotypes and skewed templates from dominating discourse? Traison believes a sort of "public display of Judaism" can be useful. Toward that end, over the past four years he has helped organize Shabbatons that have brought actual Jews and Jewish practice to half a dozen provincial towns where few or no Jews have lived since the Holocaust. Religious services are held in long-disused synagogues, and local officials and ordinary citizens are invited to join in for prayers, kosher meals and Shabbat study.
Traison says he has four main goals: remembrance; demonstrating that the Jewish people -- and Judaism -- are still alive; outreach to Poles; and enabling Jews and local Catholics to participate in a Jewish religious experience. "This is all very important for young people in Poland, who often only know Jews through imagery and mythology," he said.
Stanislaw Krajewski, a Warsaw Jew who has attended several of the Shabbatons, agreed. "It doesn't just show pictures but is doing something that is really alive," he said. "It is such an innovation -- a way of bringing a sort of circulation of blood in these places." A Catholic man who attended last year's Shabbaton in Kielce put it this way: "I could feel myself what I already knew theoretically, namely what the Shabbat means for Jews who treat their faith seriously.” The song “Boi Kala” – “Come, Sabbath Queen” – “is also a challenge or a question on how I, a Christian man, treat my 'shabbat’ -- Sunday," the man said. "Thanks to Jews' testimony of how they treat their holy day, I treat my one more seriously."
Most of these elements were evident at the latest Shabbaton, which took place this summer in Piotrkow Trybunalski, a rundown industrial town in central Poland where city walls are scarred by anti-Semitic soccer graffiti but also bear commemorative plaques recalling the town's rich Jewish past. The Shabbaton coincided with a city-sponsored Days of Judaism festival, and posters advertised the religious events along with lectures, exhibits and a klezmer concert. Piotrkow's mayor and other officials took part in a Holocaust commemoration ceremony, a kosher Shabbat dinner and an open-air Havdalah celebration in a public park near the center of town.
Schoolchildren staged a play based on a Holocaust story, and Poland's chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich, led services in Piotrkow's former synagogue, which was defiled by the Nazis and then turned into the public library in the 1960s. Most of the participants were Piotrkow Holocaust survivors and descendants from Israel, the United States and other countries. They included the former Israeli diplomat Naftali Lau-Lavie, who was called to the Torah that Shabbat to celebrate the 71st anniversary of his bar mitzvah. Lavie's father was Piotrkow's last chief rabbi, and his brother is Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, a former Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel and now the chief rabbi of Tel Aviv.
Many in the group had visited Piotrkow before. Some had sponsored commemorative projects such as placing plaques and cleaning up the Jewish cemetery. They came to honor the dead, relive memories and make a positive statement simply by walking the streets. It was "surreal" to pray where both "fame and infamy reigned," said Irving Gomolin, a survivors' son from Mineola, N.Y., who was making his third trip to Piotrkow. But, he added, "It also helps send the message to the town that we have not forgotten, that the Jewish nation and Piotrkower Jews survive and remember and do not want to forget or have their past in this place forgotten."
© JTA News
2/8/2010- Arononon Touray was looking at his friend cycling on the Hal Far road leading towards Birzebbuga when, without warning, a pick-up truck pulled up next to the cyclist. A group of young men got out of the pick-up, approached his friend, shoved him to the ground, laughing heartily as they did so, then sped away moments later as if they had done nothing out of the ordinary. It was this and other similar incidents of discrimination that prompted Mr Touray and other migrants in Malta to join forces and form a ‘network’ to fight for their rights. Migrant communities, which include Somalis, Eritreans, Sudanese and Ivorians, have been meeting for the past four months to discuss their most pressing issues before yesterday’s launch of the network for equality, Mr Touray explained. Besides sending a letter to Justice and Home Affairs Minister Carm Mifsud Bonnici calling him to address some of the most pertinent issues in their quest for equality, the migrants’ network also said that they are in the process of writing to Cecilia Malmstrom, the EU’s Commissioner for Home Affairs, to highlight the plight of migrants in Malta.
Speaking on behalf of the group at yesterday’s launch in the Common Room of the university, Mr Touray said that “migrants are still heavily discriminated against in Malta, simply because we have a different skin colour. “In the time we have spent living here, we have met countless persons who were kind to us and treated us as equals. “However, others are treating us like second class citizens. On several occasions we have been subjected to verbal abuse, refused the right to board a bus, denied the right to rent an apartment and have had to work in appalling conditions, simply because of our skin colour. “To compound matters, we have to deal with attacks from those who cannot control their racial hatred towards us and several of us have been beaten up, the most tragic one being Suleiman Abubaker, who lost his life in Paceville after allegedly being beaten by a bouncer and passers-by,” said Mr Touray. A few months later another friend of Mr Touray’s committed suicide because he could no longer tolerate the constant hardship he endured throughout his difficult life.
In the letter to Dr Mifsud Bonnici, the migrants outlined some of the struggles they have had to face on a day-to-day basis, and put forward a set of proposals for the government to consider “if it really wants the migrant community in Malta to achieve total equality”. Supported by 12 NGOs, which include the General Workers Union, Moviment Graffiti, Friends of the Earth, and 26 university academics among whom are Alternattiva Demokratika leader Michael Brigulio, Head of Sociology Department Mark-Anthony Falzon and philosopher Joseph Friggieri, the letter highlights six main issues that the migrants’ network feels the government should tackle immediately. These include clamping down on discrimination, stepping up the asylum application process that would grant migrants the right to move to other EU countries, and more assistance to migrants to help them find adequate accommodation and employment. “We urge the Maltese government to reopen the debate in the European Parliament to discuss the granting of rights to travel, live and work in EU countries for people with protection, since Malta was the only country which opposed this proposal in December 2008. We believe that granting such rights could help tackle some of the negative effects of the Dublin Regulation as it would, at least, make it possible for some people to go and live in other EU countries,” added Mr Touray, quoting from the letter address to Dr Mifsud Bonnici.
Unemployment rights and ‘miserable open centre conditions’
For Alidu Osman, another spokesperson of the migrants’ network, a further pressing social issue that needs changing is the migrants’ right to unemployment benefits. “We think that people who have been working and who have paid at least 50 National Insurance contributions over a period of two years or less should be given the right, as the Maltese are, to receive unemployment benefits,” he said. Around this time last year, migrants protested, albeit peacefully, that they could no longer endure living conditions in the Marsa and Hal Far open centres. When asked whether last year’s protests had reaped rewards, Mr Osman replied: “Conditions did improve, albeit for a short while, but now the situation has returned to the way it was before the protests, and life is now again as miserable as it was before. “To add insult to injury, a fire in one of the hangars at Hal Far last May has further worsened living conditions. The government has to realise that putting scores of migrants in a desolate aircraft hangar is simply not a feasible long term option,” he said. It was also wrong and unjust to divide migrants into two groups, commented Mr Osman, when asked to give his views on the recent group of migrants who were sent back to Libya while some of those who had travelled with them on the same boat were allowed to stay in Malta.
“Most of us have done our utmost to escape from countries torn by civil war and unrest. For the majority, the only option was to make our way to Libya and escape from there. The group of migrants who are now back in Libya are probably doomed to a life of more struggle and hardship,” said Mr Osman. Taking into consideration such factors, it is no wonder that migrants do everything to escape from Malta, at times even illegally, Moviment Graffiti spokesperson André Callus said yesterday. “Many of those who are caught attempting to flee from Malta with invalid documentation are sent back and when charged and arraigned in court with the offence, are given a minimum six-month jail term. This, all the NGOs feel, is a gross injustice, since it is often the case that suspended sentences are handed down by magistrates to people who commit an illegal act for the first time,” stated Mr Callus.
© The Malta Independent
ANTI-SEMITIC AND NEGATIONIST INSCRIPTIONS ON A MEMORIAL TO THE DEPORTATION IN FRANCE
6/8/2010- French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux expressed “horror and sadness” after the discovery Wednesday of anti-Jewish and negationnist inscriptions at a memorial to the deportation and resistance in Marmande, in the Lot-et-Garonne department, southwest of France. The words “lies,” “Zionism”, “interests” and the dollar sign “$” were inscribed in red paint on the monument which bears the names of Nazi concentration camps, said Gerard Gouzes, Socialist Mayor of Marmande.
“Marmande is shocked,” the mayor said. “It is undoubtedly the act of a Holocaust denier, someone who knows very well what he did.” According to the Interior minister, the authors of the tags "clearly targeted the memory of the deportees and the Jewish community of France.” As minister of worships “I am more than ever determined to fight against all the obscurantisms, all racisms and all the forms extremism,” Brice Hortefeux said. Wednesday’s incident came after several other anti-Semitic acts in the country. Three weeks ago, dozens of Jewish graves were vandalized in eastern France. Vandals smashed or overturned 27 gravestones at the Jewish cemetery of Wolfisheim, near Strasbourg. More recently, anti-Semitic slogans and Nazi swastikas were discovered on the walls of the Etz Haim synagogue in Melun, central France, and on the frontages and windows of a dozen kosher stores in Paris. France is home to western Europe's largest Jewish community. Around 600,000 Jews live in the country.
© EJP News
SWASTIKAS ON FRONTAGES OF KOSHER STORES IN PARIS (France)
1/8/2010- Swastikas were discovered on Thursday on the frontages and windows of a dozen kosher stores in Paris, the Union of Jewish Students in France (UEJF) announced. “We see it as a new demonstration of anti-Semitic hatred,” the union said. A police source said four nazi swastikas were traced with a black marker on two shops, on the wall of a Jewish school and on a nearby building of the Boulevard Voltaire, in Paris’s 11th district. "I make a point of expressing my emotion and my indignation following the discovery of swastikas on frontages of the Voltaire boulevard", said the city’s mayor Bertrand Delanoe, in an official statement. "Such acts, which recall the darkest hours of our history, should not remain unpunished. In the name of Paris, I repeat my determination to fight without a break against anti-semitism, and to defend the values of tolerance and of respect which found the identity of our City," he added.