Headlines 31 December, 2010
HAVE BERLIN MOSQUES BECOME A TARGET? (Germany)
Several Muslim centers in Berlin have been the target of arson attacks in recent months. Police have made little progress in their investigation, but many suspect that the series of incidents has its roots in the raw rhetoric surrounding Germany's integration debate.
The list isn't long. In early December, a petrol bomb exploded with a loud bang against the façade of the Iranian cultural center in the Berlin district of Tempelhof, sending flames licking up the front of the building. Before that it was the Al-Nur Mosque in the Neukölln neighborhood, where the majority of Berlin's Muslim population lives. Berlin's Sehitlik Mosque, also in Neukölln, has been attacked four times since late summer. Yet even if there have been no injuries in the attacks to date, city officials are concerned. Berlin's State Criminal Police Office has established a special task force to look into a perplexing series of petrol bomb attacks that has targeted Muslim facilities in the German capital for months. Results, however, have so far been scant. Berlin police spokesman Klaus Schubert declined to comment on the specifics of the investigation, but told SPIEGEL ONLINE "there are no indications that the attacks were intended to cause actual harm to people." Others, however, aren't as sanguine. The year 2010 in Germany was one which saw an intense debate about the difficulties of integrating the country's Muslim minority -- a discourse which many observers thought crossed the line into racial and religious profiling. Indeed, the interior minister of the city-state of Berlin, Ehrhart Körting, said recently that there may in fact be a connection between the attacks and the immigration debate. The discussion, he told the German news agency DAPD, may have established a climate "which could have encouraged right-wing extremists or Islamophobes to perpetrate such crimes." That, he continued, "should be clear to all those responsible for creating this climate."
The Hallmarks of a 'Hate Crime'
Indeed, following the most recent attack on the Sehitlik Mosque on November 19, police said it bore the hallmarks of a "hate crime." Berlin's Muslim population has sought to maintain its composure. A spokesman for the Iranian cultural center told SPIEGEL ONLINE that they had not increased security and that the attack "has not made a difference to those visiting the center. They do not feel nervous or unsafe." This upbeat attitude was reiterated by Yavuz Selim Akgül, chairman of the Sehitlik mosque. "Considering one mosque after another is being set alight," he told SPIEGEL ONLINE, "one could imagine the general atmosphere here would be less than positive. But that's not the case: calm prevails and attendance has not decreased." Security, though, is tight. Akgül's mosque is under 24-hour guard and additional surveillance cameras are being installed. While police have removed the police guard placed in front of the mosque in the wake of the attack, a spokesman said they are closely monitoring the situation. And it is a situation that may have to be monitored for some time. In addition to the rancorous immigration debate, Berlin has been on a high terror alert since mid-November, when German Interior Minister, Thomas de Maizière, said that the German government had "concrete indications" that Islamists were planning an attack and Germany could be a target. Heavily armed police have been patrolling Berlin streets ever since.
'Erosion of Solidarity'
Some have criticized the terror warnings for being detrimental to the welfare of the German capital's Muslim population. In late November, Aiman Mazyek, chairman of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, told the German press agency DPA that "not a week goes by without an attack on a mosque or a Muslim citizen. This terror hysteria exacerbates the situation and leads to an erosion of solidarity with Muslims." Indeed, Ehrhart Körting himself has been blasted for using the kind of rhetoric he recently condemned. In the wake of late November's terror warnings, he told Berliners in a radio interview: " If you suddenly see three somewhat strange-looking men who are new to your neighborhood, who hide their faces and who only speak Arabic, you should report them to the authorities." But it is Germany's ongoing integration debate which has particularly inflamed tempers on both sides. It is a discussion which the country has been wrestling with for years, but a book released in August by former Berlin politician Thilo Sarrazin poured fuel on the fire. Sarrazin, who was fired from his position on the board of the German Central Bank as a result of the book, claimed that Muslim immigrants would soon outnumber the country's ethnic German population because of their higher birth rates. He also suggested that because immigrant children are less successful in school, immigration is making the country less intelligent. His theories found tacit agreement from many in Germany, but also ignited widespread disgust.
Stirring up Fear
Governor of Bavaria Horst Seehofer then one-upped Sarrazin in an October interview with the newsmagazine Focus. The powerful politician said: "It's clear that immigrants from other cultures such as Turkey and Arabic countries have more difficulties. From that I draw the conclusion that we don't need additional immigration from other cultures." German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that efforts to establish a multi-cultural society in the country had "utterly failed." While there is, as yet, no indication of a concrete connection between such comments and the attacks in Berlin, some have posited such a link. "I can only see these inhuman attacks as a consequence of the witch hunt by Sarrazin, Seehofer and co. against those Muslims they accuse of refusing to integrate," said Left Party parliamentarian Ulla Jelpke earlier this month. Nurhan Soykan, general secretary of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, likewise blames the public debate: "Some media and politicians have stirred up targeted fear and rejection of Muslims and now we are seeing the results of this," she said. "The community is reacting and hostility towards Islam is growing."
A recent survey would suggest that Soykan's comments might not be far off the mark. While Sarazzin's rhetoric was loudly rejected in the media, a recently released study by the University of Münster revealed startling levels of intolerance of Islam in Germany. The survey, which polled 1,000 people in five countries -- France, Denmark, Portugal, the Netherlands and Germany -- showed that just 34 percent of respondents in Germany had a positive view of Muslims. In each of the other four countries, the results were over 50 percent. In addition, the study found that over 80 percent of Germans associate Islam with discrimination against women, over 70 percent with religious fanaticism and over 60 percent with a propensity to violence. Just 5 percent of Germans considered Islam to be a tolerant religion -- in contrast with a 30 percent result in the other four countries. According to Professor Detlef Pollack, who presented the study in Berlin on Dec. 2, two fifths of those polled in western Germany, and half of those polled in eastern Germany, feel that foreign cultures are a threat to the country. The ongoing debate about Islam and integration would appear not to be helping the situation. Indeed, Soykan feels it is counterproductive. "The threshold of inhibition in politics and society has been lowered so dramatically that what would have passed for racism in the past is now an acceptable conversation topic at bourgeois parties," she said. "This is driving a wedge through society, and ultimately making integration more difficult." Whether it is also fuelling attacks on Muslim centers in Berlin remains, for now, a matter of speculation.
© The Spiegel
PANIC AS ANTI-POLISH HATE CRIME SWEEPS SCOTLAND (uk)
In early December Rafal Gorski returned to his home country, Poland, planning never to return to Scotland. The racist insults and harassments, the taunts of “F***ing Polish – go back to Poland”, threats of violence and attacks on his family home were so bad he couldn’t deal with the stress of life here anymore.
26/12/2010- He feared that he’d suffer the same fate as a friend – killed in a stabbing in Glasgow by a man who afterwards boasted that he’d taken the life of a "daft Pole". The real name and identity of the Gorskis has been changed as a neighbour, who allegedly took part in the abuse of the Polish family, has just been charged with racially aggravated offences and is now on bail, forbidden from contacting the Gorskis or entering the street where they live. Gorski’s wife, Ilona, remains in Scotland, scared to go out on her own, but committed to staying as she wants her teenage son, Jakub, to complete his education in Scotland. The neighbours who abused her called her a "Polish dog" and told her they would "send her family back to Poland in a box". Jakub always checks to see if there is anyone in the street before he leaves the house.
The Gorskis are not alone. Poles and other Eastern Europeans are experiencing a rising tide of racist abuse and violence. The Federation of Poles in Great Britain says there has been an annual 20% rise in racist incidents. Two months ago, in Inverness, graffiti was found scrawled on a bridge: "Polish c**ts, get out of Scotland!" Police statistics show reports of hate crimes against "other white" people – the category Eastern Europeans fall into – have risen fivefold in Scotland in recent years. A 2008 study by Northern Constabulary found there was increased racial tensions in the Highlands and Eastern Europeans were among the most frequent targets. All in all, for families like the Gorskis, who live in a housing scheme in a tough area of Glasgow, Scotland has started to seem less like the welcoming place it first appeared.
The Gorskis were happy here until two months ago when a new family moved into their council block and tensions started. Though the Gorskis say they were always polite to their neighbours, the abuse quickly began: a barrage of racist insults, a raised finger, filthy water poured on their balcony, the breaking of their satellite dish, and then threats of physical violence. Iain Chisholm, from the the immigrant housing charity Positive Action in Housing, recalls the story of one family from North Lanarkshire who were consistently harassed in the neighbourhood and whose son was badly bullied at school. In the end they moved to England.
Last year, in Aberdeen, there was a 57% rise in racist incidents recorded by the police. The biggest group of victims were Africans, closely followed by Eastern Europeans. This accords with research by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights which found that across the continent Central and Eastern Europeans are among the main victims of discrimination. In Edinburgh last year, a spate of hate-filled graffiti told the city’s Poles to go home or stop stealing jobs. In Leith, where the Polish population is high, Anna Brudnowska, 28, and Ewa Aromanowicz, 31 were driven to give up the lease on their bar, following a plague of racist calls and a campaign of hate waged by a local couple. Since they were no longer making any money, they gave up their lease in September, after 18 months. They now successfully run two bars in the centre of Edinburgh.
For Brudnowska there seems to be a clear link between the racism she experienced and the beleagured economy, however to blame the last wave of migrants for loss of jobs, as Brudnowska points out, is a simplistic way of looking at things: "The couple who attacked us said we were stealing local people’s jobs. But I employ 10 people, so I’m not stealing anyone’s job. I’m creating jobs."
© The Herald Scotland
Headlines 24 December, 2010
SERBIA FAR RIGHT LEADER CHARGED IN ATTACKS ON GAYS
24/12/2010- Prosecutors are charging a far right Serbian leader with orchestrating violence during a gay pride march in Belgrade in October at which more than 150 people were hurt. The Higher Court in Belgrade says Milan Obradovic, leader of extremist group Obraz, or Honor, is charged with "committing violent acts at a public gathering." Spokeswoman Dusica Ristic said Friday that an unspecified number of other group members have been indicted, as well. They face up to 12 years in prison. Extremist groups attacked the police securing Serbia's first gay pride gathering in years, triggering daylong street clashes. Many shop windows and cars in the Serbian capital were destroyed. Serbia has pledged to protect human rights as it seeks EU membership.
© The Associated Press
ATTACKERS TARGET POLE WORKING ON JEWISH MEMORY, THROWING BRICKS WITH SWASTIKAS INTO HIS HOME (Poland)
22/12/2010- Vandals threw firecrackers and bricks with swastikas into the home of the Polish head of a group devoted to Jewish remembrance, the man who was target of the attack said Wednesday. Tomasz Pietrasiewicz was sleeping when the bricks and firecrackers were thrown at his house Friday night, shattering windows and causing minor damage. He said he was in a different part of his home and was not hurt. Pietrasiewicz said police have not yet identified the perpetrators, but the swastikas mean it is likely that right-wing extremists targeted him for his remembrance work. Pietrasiewicz is not Jewish but he directs an organization called Grodzka Gate — NN Theatre, which works to preserve the memory of the large and vibrant Jewish community that lived in the eastern city of Lublin before the Holocaust. He said he had mostly avoided speaking about the incident in recent days, explaining that he didn't want to play it up because he wanted to avoid giving extremists from such a tiny minority more attention than they deserved.
© The Associated Press
ANTI-SEMITIC, ANTI-ARMENIAN HATE CRIMES INCREASE IN L.A. COUNTY (usa)
Other hate crimes have lessened since last year in L.A. County, according to a recent report.
22/12/2010- At the same time reported hate crimes across Los Angeles County dropped significantly compared to the previous year, anti-Semitic crimes increased by nearly 50% and those against Armenians doubled, according to a report released Tuesday. The Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations on Tuesday announced that 580 hate crimes were reported to county law enforcement agencies in 2009 — a 21% drop compared to 2008. The reported crimes include violent acts, including intimidation and assault, and nonviolent acts like vandalism. "That's our second lowest total in a decade," said Robin Toma, executive director of the commission. "We believe all of this is cause for celebration."
In the San Fernando Valley region that includes Glendale and Burbank, 148 hate crimes were reported. Glendale-specific data was not immediately available from county or police officials. County officials noted an increase in religiously motivated crimes, including a "staggering" spike in anti-Semitic crimes, which they attributed to a rise in anti-Semitic graffiti, some of which appeared to be the work of serial offenders. Reported crimes against Armenians also increased, from 8 in 2008 to 16 in 2009, according to the report. Glendale Rabbi Rick Schechter said he was disappointed to hear of the increase in anti-Semitism across the county. "Any time people are targeted for violence or vandalism, it's very distressing. It's very disconcerting," said Schecter, of Temple Sinai of Glendale. "And one wonders, 'What can you do to prevent it?'" Still, he said Glendale — once a stronghold for white supremacy groups like the Ku Klux Klan — has become a more diverse and accepting community. "As a Jewish leader in Glendale, I am so grateful for the support and the acceptance of different cultures," he said.
Leonard Manoukian, co-chairman of the board of directors for the Armenian National Committee of America Glendale Chapter, agreed and said that ignorance often breeds violent acts. "I think hate crimes are primarily the result of community's not knowing each other, being ignorant of each other's true natures and characteristics," he said. Across the board, an overwhelming majority of the county crimes were committed by men under the age of 25, prompting officials to push youth education programs as the most effective way to target the sources of hate. "We need to teach our kids it's not hip to hate," said Amanda Susskind, regional director of the pacific southwest region of the Anti-Defamation League. "We can stop this. It is a matter of education."
© The Glendale News-Press
SECTARIAN FEARS IN TURKEY AFTER MURDERER'S ADMISSION
21/12/2010- The admission by a member of the Armenian Christian minority in Turkey that he killed his sister and her Muslim husband after a row about inter-religious marriage has triggered fears of a worsening "climate of hate" in the country. "Of course it will influence the situation of Christians and other minorities," Levent Sensever, a writer and member of a non-governmental organisation campaigning for stronger laws against hate crimes, said about the double murder in an interview lask week. "It contributes to a climate of hate."
The death of Soney Vural, 26, and her husband Zekeriya Vural, 29, who were both found with gunshot wounds to the head in Istanbul on December 12, has gripped the city. Police have arrested Gonay Ogmen, 29, the brother of Soney, as the suspected killer. Mr Ogmen has admitted to killing the couple, Levent Mercan, a lawyer representing the Ogmen family, said in an interview. Knowing that her family objected to her marrying a Muslim, Soney Vural wed her husband three weeks ago in a civil ceremony that she kept secret from her relatives, who were reportedly furious when they found out about it. On December 11, Mr Ogmen met with the couple in a restaurant to talk things over; images of the three were captured by the restaurant's security cameras.
In the meeting, Zekeriya Vural rejected Mr Ogmen's demand for a church wedding to make the bond more palatable for Soney's family. The three argued about this issue in the restaurant and later in the couple's parked car. Mr Ogmen, who had brought a gun to the meeting and was sitting on the back seat, told police he felt insulted by Mr Vural and shot him in the head. He then shot his sister. "He acted because of that row with his brother-in-law. It was a personal thing," said Mr Mercan, the lawyer. He emphatically denied the motive had been religious. But Turkish media reports suggested that religion played a major part in the crime. "Church wedding or death", the Vatan newspaper said in a headline.
In recent years, several members of Turkey's tiny Christian minority, numbering about 100,000 people in a country of 70 million, have been killed by radical nationalists who regarded the Christians as a threat to Turkey's national unity. In the most notorious case, a nationalist teenager shot Hrant Dink, a prominent Armenian-Turkish journalist, in 2007 because Mr Dink campaigned for the recognition of the Armenian genocide. Also in 2007, nationalists killed three evangelical missionaries, among them a German priest. The Ogmen case is the first time the killing of a Muslim by a Christian for perceived religious reasons has come to light in recent years.
Mr Sensever, a leading member of the Association for Social Change and Campaign to Stop Hate and Nationalism, said the attention the media gave to the suspected killer's religion carried the risk of making similar crimes against Christians by Muslims appear less severe. "Without expressing it openly, they are saying 'Look, the Christians are doing it as well'," Mr Sensever said. He added that the way Turkish media reported the case made the Christian minority appear like a group governed by archaic ideas of honour and tradition. "That is creating problems for all Christians" in Turkey, he said.
Newspapers quoted members of Zekeriya Vural's family as saying that the double murder was an "honour killing" by the Armenian Christian family. "The mother and the father of the girl uttered threats and said: 'We will have both of them killed'," Cemil Vural, an uncle of the Muslim husband, told Hurriyet newspaper. "It was a decision of the family council." In Turkey, the term "honour killing" is mostly used for crimes committed against women in rural areas in order to revenge a perceived insult to the honour of a family. Until 2005, Turkish laws offered lower sentences for perpetrators of "honour killings", arguing they followed a special code. That clause was scrapped in a major judicial reform inspired by the European Union, which Turkey wants to join.
Mr Mercan rejected the accusation of an "honour killing" in the Ogmen case. "There is no such tradition" of violence against inter-religious marriages in Turkey, he said. "Many Muslim men marry Christian women, and many Christian men marry Muslim women, but we have never had any problem." He also said the Ogmen family was devastated by what had happened and that Ogmen family members attended the funeral of Zekeriya Vural. In contrast, families involved in "honour killings" are often openly proud of the crime. Like Mr Sensever, Mr Mercan said he was concerned that the murder of the Vurals could aggravate the social climate in Turkey. "I see such a danger," he said. Mr Sensever said his group was starting a campaign to build pressure for a change to Turkey's laws. He said laws should carry heavier sentences for politically, racially or religiously motivated crimes than for crimes perpetrated for personal reasons.
© The National
CAMPAIGN FOR HATE CRIME LAW (Turkey)
"Raise your voice" was one of the topics of the campaign against hate crimes by the Association for Social Change and the SayStop Initiative. The beginning of the campaign was marked by a symposium in Istanbul. Main aims are a draft bill and raising public awareness.
20/12/2010- The Association for Social Change and the SayStop Initiative launched the "Let's Bury Hate Crimes in History" campaign on Friday (17 December) aimed at the enforcement of a "Hate Crime Law". The campaign will comprise events on racism, discriminations and hate crimes, an international conference on hate crimes, and activities on hate speech in the media and following up offences. The campaign seeks to support equality of discriminated groups in social life and to contribute to the formation of a society free from hatred. A symposium entitled "Meeting against Hate Crimes" on 17/18 December in Istanbul marked the beginning of the campaign.
Preparing a hate crimes draft bill
Taţkýn Tankut Soykan from the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE) said in his opening speech, "Turkey needs a special legislation on hate crimes. At the same time, awareness has to be created in society". Soykan emphasized the aim of the campaign as enforcing a hate crimes law. He informed the audience that a draft bill prepared by lawyers in co-operation with non-governmental organizations was going to be submitted to parliament. Furthermore, a signature campaign would be initiated in order to create public awareness, he said.
"What are hate crimes?"
Assoc. Prof. Asuman Ýnceođlu from Bilgi University started her speech with a definition of hate crime:
"[A hate crime is] violence against a person by reason of his/her characteristics such as race, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, physical disability, age or social status".
Ýnceođlu stressed that hate crime should not be confused with crimes of genocide and discrimination. "Hate crimes include the concern of conveying a certain message. This is not valid for genocide. Discrimination involves a different treatment but once the 'motive for prejudice' i.e. the reason that directs the crime disappears, the crime disappears too. On the second day, the symposium was continued with the screening of a documentary by deceased singer Ahmet Kaya, who was an alleged sympathizer of the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Moreover, workshops were scheduled with the Positive Life Association, the Hrant Dink Foundation, the Association for Social Change and the SayStop Initiative. A forum was organized by Prof. Yasemin Ýnceođlu, Hayko Bađdat, the Edirne Romani Association, the Positive Life Association, the Pink Life Association, the Protestant Churches Association and the SayStop Initiative.
© BIA Net
ATTACKS AGAINST IMMIGRANTS ON THE RISE IN GREEK CAPITAL(Greece)
18/12/2010- Dimitris Tsipos makes no effort to conceal his hostility as a group of Bangladeshi men walk by carrying an armful of blankets. 'I would get rid of them all,' Tsipos says as he sits in his restaurant, sheltered from an unusual cold snap gripping the Greek capital Athens. 'The Greeks don't want them here. We're fed up.' One of his employees agrees. 'They turn you into a racist,' Pantelis says, declining to give his last name. 'Immigrants are often forced to leave their country because of war or hunger, but that's not our fault. We cannot turn into the poorhouse of the world.' Others in the neighbourhood may be more moderate, but a growing handful are supporting right-wing extremism. Tensions surrounding the increasing number of Muslim migrants living in Athens' historic centre have spiraled out of control in recent months.
Immigrants have been repeatedly beaten and stabbed in many of the city's squares, while several makeshift mosques - usually situated in garages or basements of apartment blocks - have been bombed, burned and vandalised. Most recently, assailants locked the door of a basement prayer house and hurled firebombs through the windows, seriously wounding five worshippers. Police have stepped up patrols as angry rallies by local residents have increasingly been infiltrated by extreme nationalist groups, who want to protest what they say is an illegal immigrant-fuelled crime wave and downgrading of the neighbourhood. 'I have been living here for the past 38 years and was always treated with respect and felt safe until the past few years,' said Naim Elghandour, who heads the Muslim Association of Greece. 'Now the attacks are increasing.'
Growing tension between Greeks and foreign immigrants in the run- down neighborhoods of Athens was evident in November, as Muslims gathered to celebrate the festival of Eid-al-Adha in public squares across Athens, including at the front entrance of Athens University's Propylea building. Protesters from the extreme-right group Chrysi Avghi played loud music from a nearby apartment, threw eggs and jeered at the immigrants throughout the hour-long service in the city's Attiki Square. The incident occurred as tension grows over illegal immigration in Greece, the busiest transit point for human trafficking in the European Union.
Greece has had to request EU assistance in trying to seal its border with Turkey. More than 42,000 refugees trying to cross into Greece from neighbouring Turkey have been stopped by border agents from the EU agency Frontex since January. Elghandour say the attacks in Greece mirror similar incidents in other European countries such as Italy and France. 'It is part of the extreme right in Europe - it is a fashion that has caught on in Greece but hopefully it will pass at some point,' he said.
Highlighting the increasing public discontent, Nikos Michaloliakos, the leader of the right-wing group Chrysi Avgi or 'Golden Dawn,' won the group's first-ever seat on the Athens City Council in local elections in November. The group gathered strong support in neighbourhoods where prostitution, drug dealing and the trade in counterfeit goods are rife, with thousands of immigrants scraping out a living, residing in run-down hotels and derelict buildings. Michaloliakos campaigned on anti-immigrant issues and against a long-delayed government plan to construct a state-funded mosque in the Greek capital.
Athens is the only capital of the original 15 EU member states not to have an official mosque. The Muslim community in Greece is estimated at about 1 million, in a country where most people are Greek Orthodox Christians. Presently, the only mosques in Greece are in the north-eastern region of Thrace, home to some 100,000 Muslims. Fearing that a delay in the construction of a proper mosque could lead to further clashes, the government has set aside a 1.6-hectare plot of land in Votanikos, near central Athens, where the mosque is due to be built. Officials have said that an international architectural competition for the building's design will be launched in January.
Although the country's influential Orthodox Church has given its backing to the project, opinion polls show that half of Athens' 5 million residents oppose the plan. Resistance and anti-immigrant sentiment has also been fuelled by the country's financial problems. Amidst a wave of austerity measures that include salary and pension cutbacks and an increase in taxes, many Greeks are questioning whether it is appropriate to allocate funds to construct a mosque. 'Why should taxpayers be responsible for paying for a mosque?' Antonia Liakou, a resident living near Votanikos, asked. 'The government has bled us dry. Now we have to pay for them to have a place of worship?'
Newly elected Mayor Giorgos Kaminis is determined to tackle the problem by initiating a dialogue between the municipality and the migrants in an effort to ease increasing tensions. 'We are seeking advice from municipal authorities in Germany who have averted similar campaigns against immigrants by neo-Nazis,' said the mayor's spokesperson, Takis Kampilis. The new mayor is also planning to organise street markets where migrants can legitimately sell their products rather than selling them illegally on street corners.
Dimitris Christopoulos, a political science professor at Panteion University and an activist with the Hellenic League of Human Rights, says the recent wave of violence stems from the general failure of the Greek state to organise policies of integration. 'The first wave of immigrants from Albania were integrated into Greek society in the 1990s, but I do not think that the Greeks have the patience or willingness to accept this second wave of immigrants from countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan,' he says. 'I am not at all optimistic. Things are very dark indeed,' he adds.
ECUADORIAN MAN HOSPITALIZED AFTER BRUTAL NEO-NAZI ATTACK IN GERMANY
20/12/2010- An Ecuadorian man was hospitalized following a vicious neo-Nazi attack in the eastern German city of Magdeburg, the weekly news magazine Der Spiegel reported Sunday. The unidentified 24-year victim was severely injured as he was waiting at a tramway stop early Saturday morning. The three assailants first insulted the Ecuadorian national and then beat him up, breaking his nose and inflicting multiple bruises on his body. Two female companions of the victim from Mexico and Germany were also attacked by the neo-Nazi thugs as they tried to protect their friend. The Mexican woman was slightly injured in the assault, according to the report. Police managed to arrest all three assailants, ages 18, 21 and 23.
The neo-Nazi movement is especially strong in formerly communist East Germany where foreigners are scapegoated for the worsening economic situation and high unemployment rate. Germany continues to be plagued by racially motivated attacks in recent years. Neo-Nazis and far-right extremists have committed more than 11,0000 acts of crimes during the first nine months of this year. The overall number of recorded far-right crimes is expected to surge further since many victims have yet to report to police. At least of 465 people were injured in far-right attacks and police arrested 246 in connection with these assaults. Only seven people were detained pending trial.
At least 137 people have reportedly been killed since Germany's reunification in 1990 as a result of neo-Nazi and other far-right violent acts. The number of fatalities due to far-right violence is three times as high as previously reported by police and the German government which has tried to downplay the threat of neo-Nazi violence, according to press reports. The German government has been under fire for not really cracking down on far-right violence which is targeting mostly foreigners and leftist activists.
Young neo-Nazis feel more and more emboldened to commit hate crimes, knowing that police won't charge them with an offense. Most of the suspects implicated in far-right crimes are juveniles. Hate crime experts and sociologists have repeatedly stressed Germany's political leadership lacked a clear, effective strategy and a real political will to combat neo-Nazi crimes.
© Two Circles
Headlines 17 December, 2010
TOUGHER PUNISHMENTS PLANNED FOR HATE CRIMES (Finland)
In addition to ethnic origin, bill mentions sexual orientation as basis for motive
17/12/2010- A government bill proposes prison sentences of up to four years for hate crimes. The toughest sentences can be imposed on aggravated incitement against a sector of the population - such as urging people to commit murder or genocide. The government wants to add a separate category of aggravated hate crime to the criminal code. The proposal is part of a package of legislation that is going before Parliament on Friday, aimed at clamping down on crimes against ethnic groups, as well as other population groups, such as sexual minorities. In crimes of incitement, the hate crime category would include acts which are motivated by a victim’s ethnicity, religious or other conviction, sexual orientation, disability, as well as similar factors. The emphasis is that the punishments would apply to actual crimes motivated by hate, and not mere acts of racism. In addition to actual human beings, a “legal person”, such as an association or group, could also be held responsible for crimes of incitement against an ethnic group, illegal threats, or aggravated slander or libel.
Minister of Justice Tuija Brax (Green) emphasised on Thursday that the bill is not intended to restrict free speech on socially important issues. She said that it will continue to be legal to voice severe criticism of immigration or policy towards foreigners, and against those responsible for such policies. The bill is also not aimed at placing restrictions on research or science. What would be punishable would be making threats, slander, and vilification, either on paper or online. Punishable acts would include displaying or spreading messages that endorse violence or discrimination against a group. Criminal hate speech would also include comparing people with animals, or labelling entire groups as criminals or of lesser value. The new bill would add a mention of displaying illegal material as a crime itself. At present, the law mentions “distribution”. The change was prompted by the Internet. If the bill passes into law, it will no longer be possible to split hairs about who is actually responsible for what appears on a web page. Ministry official Mirja Salonen says that the clause would apply to someone who deliberately allows or urges another person to post hate messages on his or her website or Facebook page, for instance, and fails to remove them when called upon to do so.
© The Helsingin Sanomat
SECOND CASE OF ANTI-SEMITIC VANDALISM IN LATVIA IN A WEEK
13/12/2010- Police in Latvia were investigating Monday after a second incident of anti-Semitic vandalism in less than a week. A memorial to Zanis Lipke, a Latvian credited with saving more than 50 Jews from death during World War II, was daubed with paint in the early hours of Monday morning, police said. The memorial was quickly cleaned up by municipal authorities. The incident came just days after 89 tombstones in the Jewish Cemetery in Riga were daubed with swastikas by vandals. Latvian Foreign Minister Girts Valdis Kristovskis was quick to condemn the latest incident, saying 'recurrent acts of vandalism' were unacceptable. Lipke, who died in 1987, was awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by the Holocaust memorial organization Yad Vashem. Nearly all of Riga's Jews were murdered during World War II by occupying Nazi forces assisted by local volunteers. Several Jewish organizations, including the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, have warned about high levels of anti-Semitism in the Baltic states. The issue is put into sharp focus every year in Latvia on March 16, when an unofficial parade takes place in the Latvian capital commemorating members of the Latvian Waffen-SS. Of around 60,000 Jews in Latvia at the start of WWII, only 3,500 survived.
TWO DEAD AS FAR-RIGHT FOOTBALL FANS RIOT IN MOSCOW (Russia)
Rally to mark death of fan shot by men from the Caucasus turns into racist riot in city square and underground
13/12/2010- At least two people were killed after around 5,000 far-right football fans and nationalists gathered at a rally outside Red Square at the weekend, calling for the death of Russia's immigrant population. The demonstrators, who were marking the death last week of Spartak Moscow fan Yegor Sviridov, who was shot during a brawl with several men from the Caucasus, flashed the Nazi salute, chanted "Russia for Russians" and pelted riot police with flares, smoke bombs and metal fence posts. After the rally hundreds of protesters entered the Moscow metro where they continued their rampage, beating and stabbing passersby from Central Asia and the Caucasus, Russia's troubled, mainly Muslim, southern region. A Kyrgyz man was attacked by 15 people and stabbed to death. One central Asian man was reported to have died in hospital from his injuries following the riot, but officials have declined to comment. More than 20 people were taken to hospital. Video images showed several men from Central Asia and the Caucasus walking dazed with bloody faces. The square on which they gathered, Manezhnaya Ploshad, was left littered with graffiti, including one that read: "Yids, get out of Russia!" The riot came less than two weeks after Russia won the right to host the 2018 World Cup.
The Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, took to his Twitter account last night to post a photo from an Elton John concert he attended. Seconds later, he wrote: "Everything is under control on Manezh Square and in the country. All the inciters will be brought to justice. All of them, without question." He addressed the nation today, saying that "crimes aimed at fanning hatred and animosity based on race, ethnic origin or religion are especially dangerous" and "threaten the stability of the state". He added: "The recent events in Moscow – the pogroms, attacks on people – must be qualified as crimes, and those who carried them out must be tried." Around 65 people were detained during the riot, but all were released within 24 hours. Vladimir Putin, Russia's prime minister, has remained silent. Tensions between far-right football fans and police have been building for weeks. In mid-November fans of the Russian champions, Zenit St Petersburg, clashed with riot police in the city, injuring several.
Last night around 1,000 nationalists took to the streets of the southern city of Rostov-on-Don, shouting "Rostov is a Russian city" and shutting the main street. They had gathered to protest about the killing on 27 November of a student during a fight with a man from the Caucasus republic of Ingushetia. Activists have long warned that Russia's far-right tensions could boil over. Government officials, particularly in the wake of the financial crisis, have played up populist fears over immigration. Since coming to power two months ago Moscow's new mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, has focused on reducing the presence of migrant labourers in the city. "The government does not understand what to do now that it has let the genie out of the bottle," said Galina Kozhevnikova, the deputy head of the Sova Centre, a Russian NGO that monitors ethnic violence. Early last month some 5,000 far-right nationalists marched through the streets of southern Moscow in a sanctioned rally, while opposition protesters repeatedly fail to get permission to march. "It's not a question of government sympathy or antipathy, it's a question of loyalty," said Kozhevnikova. "If a group is loyal to the government, it can do what ever it wants." Far-right football fans are believed to be planning further demonstrations, with one reportedly set for Wednesday evening in central Moscow.
© The Guardian
SCHEME TARGETS HATE CRIME INMATES (Northern Ireland)
14/12/2010- Prisoners convicted of hate crimes in Northern Ireland are to receive special tutoring to help prevent reoffending. There were more than 3,000 incidents of offences like racism and sectarianism last year. Individuals convicted of hate crimes will be challenged about their attitude and participate in a support programme aimed at reducing the likelihood of reoffending. The pilot project is the first to tackle sectarianism in this way and will manage offenders while researching the nature and extent of hate crime. Justice Minister David Ford said: "Hate crime is insidious, and in many cases an unfortunate legacy of our recent past. It can have terrible consequences, for both victim and perpetrator, as well as affecting whole communities. "It is good to see the Prison Service working with one of our most progressive local charities in this innovative and proactive project to reduce hate crime." The plan is a partnership between the Prison Service and the Northern Ireland Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (NIACRO). It is funded by the European Union's Peace III programme. Olwen Lyner, chief executive of NIACRO, said hate crime should not be tolerated. "We believe a strong model of intervention could be very effective in reducing the rate of re-offending in this group of prisoners," she said. "More importantly, we hope the challenge hate crime project will result in fewer victims of hate crime and contribute to a safer society." The Special EU Programmes Body is delivering the European funding.
© The Belfast Telegraph
ORANGE HALL ATTACKED IN BERAGH (Northern Ireland)
12/12/2010- Thirty-six panes of glass have been broken during an attack on an Orange hall at Beragh in County Tyrone. The door and the interior of Kirkpatrick Memorial Hall on the Donaghanie Road were also damaged during the incident. Police said the premises were broken into some time between Friday night and Saturday morning. They are treating the incident as a hate crime. A spokesman for Grand Lodge said the attack was "carefully planned". He added: "Anyone who saw people acting suspiciously around the hall should let the police know as soon as possible. The way to deal with these attacks is by helping the police catch the culprits and then it is up to the courts to deal properly the offenders. "An attack on an Orange Hall is a blatant attack on our culture and must be taken seriously by everyone in the community and by the relevant authorities."
© BBC News
GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES NEW ACTION TO TACKLE ANTI-SEMITISM (uk)
16/12/2010- Communities Minister Andrew Stunell today confirmed Government action to address anti-semitism. Four years on from the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry's report into anti-semitism, the Government has published a report on the steps they've taken and the significant progress that's been made, including measures to increase security for Jewish faith schools in the state sector and improving the collection of data on anti-semitic incidents. Education Secretary Michael Gove last week confirmed up to £2 million to fund tighter security measures in Jewish faith schools in the state sector. This funding will ensure children and staff will have a school environment safe from anti-semitic incidents. Ministers have also secured agreement that all police forces must now record anti-semitic hate crimes, with the first official statistics published last month. This greater transparency provides the clearest picture yet of where and when hate crimes are likely to occur, thereby making it easier to target security measures.
Mr Stunell said: "It's unacceptable that such a high number of anti-semitic incidents are still happening. "The measures announced today will increase protection for Jewish communities and improve our evidence base, making it easier to determine what further measures are needed. "This Government is committed to increasing the number of hate crimes brought to justice, tackling anti-semitism on university campuses, and challenging hate crime and extremism on the internet. "We are working towards a fully integrated society in which everyone feels able to take part without fear of discrimination or attack. "Although we've taken some big steps forward today, there's no room for complacency. We will continue to take practical, effective action to stamp out antisemitism whenever and wherever it occurs."
Jon Benjamin of the Board of Deputies of British Jews said: "The Parliamentary Inquiry marked a watershed in the understanding of anti-semitism as a real issue in Britain today, but was the beginning of a process that continues to this day. The ongoing work of the cross-departmental task force is hugely important in ensuring that the Inquiry's findings are addressed." Maintaining this momentum, Ministers will host a seminar in the spring to ensure continued progress on tackling hate crime including anti-semitism on the internet. To ensure the Holocaust is remembered, the Government has committed £750,000 for the 2011 commemoration and related educational activities and has pledged to fund the Lessons from Auschwitz Project (LfA) next year.
© 24 Dash
NEW POLICY ON HATE CRIME IN LIVERPOOL (uk)
15/12/2010- New moves to clampdown on hate crimes and incidents in Liverpool are being introduced by the city council. For the first time the authority is introducing a uniform policy for reporting both hate crimes and incidents. Until now there has been no consistent way throughout the council of reporting such incidents, leading to fears that the level of hate-related incidents may be underreported. Hate crime is defined as "any hate incident which constitutes a criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person. This may be because of their race, transgender status, disability, religion or sexual orientation." A hate incident is "any incident that may or may not constitute a criminal offence, which is perceived by the victim or any other person as being motivated by prejudice or hate." The new policy, which was developed with the guidance of Liverpool's Hate Crime Reduction Forum, sets out a consistent way of reporting and handling complaints. It aims to improve the confidence in the way the council handles complaints and give reassurance that they will be treated seriously and sensitively, The data collected will also be used to take preventative action wherever possible.
"The adoption of this policy is an important step forward in the way we deal with all types of hate crime and hate incidents, " said Councillor Ann O'Byrne, cabinet member for community safety. "These sort of crimes and incidents can take many forms from verbal to physical abuse and graffiti or services being refused, But all can have a severe affect on peoples' lives. "Until now, we have not had a clear and consistent way that staff who are victims of such incidents or witness them can report them. "We have now developed a uniform way for reporting and recording incidents which will streamline the way various agencies handle them. "We are also helping employees to identify what is hate crime and ensure that they are always challenged. It reminds them of their responsibilities in this area and will ensure that we have a much clearer picture of the extent of these issues. "Any member of staff who is the victim or sees a hate crime or incident can now refer to a single document on what they should do. There will be no excuse for not reporting such incidents or signposting service users to the support available. "We want to be an inclusive city which is proud of our diversity and we have made strides in being so. This policy take us a stage further in helping reduce the fear of hate crime."
© The Liverpool City Council
POLICE APPOINT OFFICERS TO FIGHT HOMOPHOBIC HATE CRIME (uk)
12/12/2010- Specialist police officers have been recruited to deal with crimes against people who face discrimination because of their sexual orientation. Gwent Police have hired 14 officers and support staff as part of its first lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGB&T) liaison officers. It is hoped the new service will encourage more people to come forward to report LGB&T hate crimes. One senior officer said such crimes were traditionally "under reported". Assistant Chief Constable Simon Prince said: "It is estimated that one in 12 people in [the] Gwent [force area] classes him or herself as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender which is a significant number of people.
"We hope that the introduction of LGB&T liaison officers will encourage members of the community to report hate crimes which are traditionally under reported. "If we can encourage greater reporting it will enable us to gain a greater understanding of hate crime and the extent to which people are suffering but also to better enable us to tackle it." Any victim of such a hate crime will be offered the assistance of one of the liaison officers alongside the investigating officer.
Their main duties include:
* Liaison with the LGB&T communities
* Provide support and advice to victims and witnesses of crimes
* Offer advice to colleagues dealing with homophobic incidents
* Promote an understanding within the force about the needs of LGB&T communities
The posts were open to all officers and police staff and was not limited to those who identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Officers receive two days of training from colleagues from Hampshire Constabulary which has had LGB&T liaison officers since 1996.
© BBC News
NGOs WANT SHELVED ARSON ATTACKS ON ROMA TO BE REOPENED (Czech Rep.)
11/12/2010- Some Czech NGOs have asked the Supreme State Attorney's Office to reopen seven cases of alleged arson attacks on Roma, six of which were shelved and one qualified as minor offence, the server Romea.cz said Friday. The appeal was signed by the groups Romea and In Iustitia, focusing on victims of violence incited by hatred, and activist Markus Pape. A Czech court Friday imposed suspended prison sentences on a mother and her son for their arson attack on a Romani house in Ostrava within a neighbourly dispute, a case in which no racial motive has been proved. An outwardly similar case, in which four young men threw fire bottles into a house where a Romani family was sleeping, happened in Vitkov, elsewhere in north Moravia, in April 2009. In this case, closely monitored by the media, however, the court identified the attack's motives as racial earlier this autumn. Three of the perpetrators, supporters of right-wing extremist movements, were sentenced to 22 years in prison, and one to 20 years. In the Vitkov incident, which set the attacked house on fire, three people were injured, including a two-year-old girl who suffered burns on 80 percent of her body. Doctors call her survival after a series of surgeries a miracle. The appeal points to the Vitkov case.
"In the past three years, there were a number of similar attacks, but they were not cleared up. We believe that further examination of other arson attacks may contribute to the prevention of such cases in the future," the appeal said. Alleged arson attacks on Romani families that should be re-examined by the police according on the NGOs recommendation:
Place Date Police conclusion
Vrbno pod Pradedem July 1, 2007 shelved
Horni Benesov December 1, 2007 minor offence
Moravsky Beroun September 6, 2008 shelved
Bruntal September 21, 2008 shelved
Moravsky Beroun January 27, 2009 shelved
Zdiby u Prahy May 24, 2009 shelved
Cerveny Kostelec November 17, 2009 shelved
MOLDOVA RIGHTS GROUP SAYS GAY MAN COMMITTED SUICIDE AFTER POLICE THREAT
11/12/2010- A gay rights group in Moldova says a young homosexual man committed suicide this week after being intimidated and humiliated by police officers in Chisinau, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports. But police have denied the claim of intimidation, saying officers gave the man and his companion "a lecture" after they were "caught in the act" in a public toilet. The organization Genderdoc-M said the 26- year-old man, whose name it did not disclose, and his companion were briefly detained by two policemen on December 6 in a Chisinau park that is a popular meeting place for gay men. Genderdoc-M representative Angela Frolov told RFE/RL that the incident was witnessed by a Genderdoc-M activist who said one of the policemen was carrying an automatic rifle. The witness said the two officers used extremely rude and homophobic language and threatened to take the two young men to the police station and to disclose their sexual orientation to their families and employers.
Genderdoc-M said its activist persuaded the police officers to let the two men go. But Frolov said that several hours after the incident, the man called his mother from a pay phone, told her that he was gay, and then hanged himself in his aunt's house where he was living. In a statement, police denied the claim of intimidation. It alleged that the two men were "caught in the act" in the park's public toilet after police followed up on a complaint from two women who had been told by their children there were gay men there. "The policemen simply gave them a lecture," the statement said. Genderdoc-M issued its statement to coincide with International Human Rights Day and draw attention to what it says are frequent cases of police harassment and blackmail of gays. Frolov said the few unofficial "cruising areas" for gays in Chisinau are deliberately targeted by policemen who demand bribes from gay people in exchange for not telling their families, employers, or teachers about their sexual orientation.
Homosexuality was decriminalized in Moldova in the 1990s but is still largely taboo in a conservative, mainly Orthodox Christian society. Genderdoc-M has led a so-far unsuccessful bid to hold a gay rights march in Chisinau.
Headlines 10 December, 2010
REPORT RECORDS ANTI-CHRISTIAN HATE CRIME IN EUROPE
10/12/2010- The Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe released the five-year report today. It was publicized to coincide with the two-day Human Dimension Implementation Meeting on Freedom of Religion of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), which ended today in Vienna. The observatory's director, Gudrun Kugler, noted that "intolerance and discrimination against Christians includes the denial of rights of Christians, such as in the area of freedom of expression and freedom of conscience." She continued: "Religious freedom is endangered especially with regard to its public and its institutional dimension. "We also receive many reports on the removal of Christian symbols, misrepresentation and negative stereotyping of Christians in the media, and social disadvantages for Christians, such as being ridiculed or overlooked for promotion in the workplace." "We work toward greater awareness of a growing problem in Europe as a first step of a remedy," Kugler said. "Our goal is equal rights for all, including Christians." The observatory has a Web site through which it has been monitoring and cataloging instances of anti-Christian discrimination.
In the report's section on hate crimes involving violent attacks on Christian individuals, several instances were documented. Among these, it listed attacks on pro-life activists in Vienna last September, the beating of a Catholic priest as well as an Orthodox priest in Germany, a violent attack on four Franciscan monks in their monastery in Italy, and many other examples. It also noted that in November 2009 the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation released statistics showing a 9% increase in crimes against religious groups the previous year, and a 25% increase in hate crimes against Catholics. The report noted, "While Christianity holds a majority in Europe at least in numbers, it faces acts of intolerance, partly inflicted by small radical groups." "Discriminatory laws are created when intolerance is paired with legislative power," it added. "It is the duty of the political community to be aware of and tackle the phenomenon of intolerance and discrimination against Christians as a call for equal rights and freedoms for everyone."
The observatory published several recommendations to address these problems. It urged the governments of individual European nations to "refrain from interferences and to modify legislation that discriminates against Christians." It called on the authorities to "recognize and condemn intolerance and discrimination against Christians and ensure the right of Christians to participate fully in public life." The observatory encouraged the European Union "to respect, without prejudice, the protection of the autonomy of churches in accordance with Article 17 (1) of the Lisbon Treaty and to promote more dialogue with church leaders on the issue of intolerance and discrimination in accordance with Article 17 (2)." Addressing the Fundamental Rights Agency, it appealed them to "make freedom of religion, speech and conscience a priority of their work." The report recommended to the OSCE members to "use all their means to work against intolerance against Christians" and to collaborate "more closely with representatives of Christian churches."
© Global Zenit News
A POLISH MAN HAS BEEN RACIALLY ABUSED AND ASSAULTED IN BRISTOL (uk)
7/12/2010- A Polish man has been racially abused and assaulted in Patchway. The 28-year-old man was chased by two men and then attacked punched in the head by one of them. The incident happened at 6am on December 5 near the Texaco service station on Gloucester Road. The victim managed to get into his house on Gloucester Road and close the front door. A few minutes later one of the men returned and smashed a glass panel in the door.
Anyone with information should contact the Hate Crime unit at Staple Hill police station on 0845 456 7000
© This is Bristol
15 BECOME HATE CRIME VICTIMS EACH DAY IN GREATER MANCHESTER (uk)
7/12/2010- Fifteen people a day become victims of hate crimes in Greater Manchester, new figures reveal. Police have released the data which is based on a broader definition and includes crimes against disabled, gay and transgender people, and other minority groups. A total of 5,348 hate crimes were recorded in Greater Manchester last year – accounting for 10.5 per cent of incidents recorded by 44 forces throughout England and Wales. They included 4,406 racially-motivated crimes and 359 motivated by religion – the highest in the country outside London. But the number of race-hate crimes actually represented a drop of 12pc on the previous year. GMP also recorded 497 homophobic crimes, 12 ‘transphobic’ crimes, and 74 against disabled people.
Case study: Neighbours targeted man for being HIV positive
While most other forces recorded no anti-Semitic crimes, GMP dealt with 198. Senior GMP sources said the figures, released by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), reflected Greater Manchester’s diversity and the seriousness of the force’s approach to hate crime. Deputy Chief Constable Simon Byrne said: “It is encouraging to see that the number of racist incidents in Greater Manchester has fallen by nearly 12pc in the past year. “Racially motivated crime is wholly abhorrent in all its forms and GMP vigorously investigates all allegations of hate crime, irrespective of the ethnic heritage of the victim or offender, so I would encourage anyone who is a victim of racism to report it.
“All 12 police areas in Greater Manchester have a Community and Race Relations Officer who liaises with their local communities to encourage reporting. “Victims can also report any incidents through the GMP website or at one of the many reporting centres in outside agencies.” Chief Constable Stephen Otter, from ACPO, said: “Hate crimes cause a great deal of harm. By publishing this data, and demonstrating the service’s commitment to open reporting of hate crime,we hope to encourage victims and witnesses to come forward.”
© The Manchester Evening News
THUGS IN THE NYC SUBWAY ATTACK ON IMAM FACE HATE CRIME CHARGES (usa)
10/12/2010- The two thugs that attacked the Muslim religious leader at a Chinatown subway-station plaform are now facing hate crime charges for robbery and assault. Eddie Crespo an MTA bridge and tunnel officer, and Albert Melendez attacked the Imam at 3:35 a.m. on Wednesday. The incident initiated with a verbal assault aboard northbound A train when Melendez allegedly said to the Imam, "What are you, a camel jockey? I don't like Muslims." The Imam responded by getting off the train at Canal street in an effort to difuse the situation but Crespo and Melendez followed him, kicking along the way and tossed his religious hat onto the tracks. The pair then wrestled the Imam to the ground and Meledez punched him in the face while Crespo held him. Muslim community and many human rights groups have voice outrage over the incident and are urging the authorities to take swift action so incident like this are not repeated.
A call to action:
To register protest with MTA over one of it's employee's alleged involvement in a hate crime against the Muslim religious leader and urge them to take swift action.
Go to: http://mta-nyc.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/mta_nyc.cfg/php/enduser/ask.php Enter your email address and choose MTAHQ HR for MTA service and register your complaint.
© The New York Examiner
NEO-NAZI CONVICTED OF DEFILING DOZENS OF JEWISH GRAVES (usa)
6/12/2010- t took a Chicago jury barely two hours to convict Mariusz Wdziekonski, a member of America's largest neo-Nazi hate group, of defiling 57 graves at a Jewish cemetery in the suburbs. The headstones were spray-painted with swastikas, phrases like "Aryan Power," and other Nazi slogans. One depicted a noose with a Star of David dangling from it. "I'm really happy the jury saw him for who he was. It's good to see justice served," said Assistant State's Attorney Lauren Brown, one of the prosecutors in the case, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Wdziekonski testified in his own defense in the trial, saying that he was not a neo-Nazi but merely a collector of Nazi memorabilia. Prosecutors disagreed, citing Wdziekonski's membership in the National Socialist Movement and showing pictures of Wdziekonski dressed as a German storm-trooper. "He was immersed in that," said ASA Brown, as the Tribune reports. "He was proud of it." The guilty verdict came down on Friday afternoon, during Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights. At least one local religious leader saw some symbolic significance in that fact. From the Sun-Times:
"Hopefully, we can expose with some light -- during the season of light -- the evils in which this defendant was engaged," said Marc Jacobs, president of Temple Sholom of Chicago, which owns the cemetery in Norridge Park Township. Wdziekonski will face a sentence of three to seven years, meaning he will likely serve little or no additional time -- he's been in custody for almost three years already, dating back to his January 2008 arrest in this case. But as a Polish immigrant who came to the country in 2004, the felony conviction could lead to his deportation.
© The Huffington Post
NEO-NAZIS MARCH WITH BURNING TORCHES THROUGH CENTRAL BERLIN, POLICE INVESTIGATES (Germany)
People living in the Tiergarten area of Berlin were shocked on Friday night to see a group of neo-Nazis marching through the neighbourhood holding burning torches and singing fascist songs.
4/12/2010- The group of about 25 neo-Nazis marched through the district until they reached Turmstrasse underground station where they extinguished their torches, according to a report in Sunday�s Berliner Morgenpost. They then ran off in different directions, but by that time a number of plain-clothes police officers had arrived at the scene and arrested four suspects, confiscating leaflets. The four men aged between 20 and 26 years old are being investigated on suspicion of incitement. It seems the group were members of the �National Liberation Front�, a particularly radical group of neo-Nazis. The motivation for the short march is not clear.
Police investigate neo-nazi parade
A group of about 25 apparent neo-Nazis who marched through Berlin streets with flaming torches face an investigation for a possible hate crime, German police said on Saturday. The group marched in the inner-city district of Tiergarten and chanted offensive slogans Friday evening. Police said the chants broke Germany's law on sedition, which prohibits anti-Semitism and incitement to hatred. Torchlit parades were a common ritual when German was under Nazi rule 1933-45. The group extinguished the torches and scattered before police arrived, but plain-clothes officers in the area detained four and collected leaflets the group had been handing out. Police said those identified were aged 20 to 26 and may face hate charges.
Headlines 3 December, 2010
NOVEMBER 2010. MONTHLY SUMMARY HATE CRIME RUSSIA (Sova center)
2/12/2010- n November 2010, 5 people were dead and at least 8 injured in racist and neo-Nazi attacks (in November 2009, 5 people were dead and 27 injured). In all, from the beginning of 2010, 35 people in Russia were dead and at least 297 injured in such attacks.
In November, incidents of violence were recorded in Moscow and Moscow region (3 dead, 3 injured), St. Petersburg and Leningrad region (1 dead, 1 injured), Volgograd region (1 dead), Bashkortostan (2 injured), Blagoveshchensk and Novosibirsk (1 injured in each). In all, from the beginning of the year incidents of racist violence have been recorded in 44 Russian regions. From the beginning of the year and up to now, Moscow and the region (17 dead, 113 injured), St. Petersburg and Leningrad region (2 dead, 43 injured), and Nizhny Novgorod (3 dead, 16 injured) face the highest level of violence. The number of victims in other cities is no more than 10. Individuals from Central Asia remain to be the target in the majority of attacks (14 dead, 62 injured).
In November, not many objects were attacked by vandals who could be guided by hate or Neo-Nazi ideology. Those were a Muslim cemetery in the Nizhny Novgorod region, Jehovah’s Witnesses’ house of worship in Irkutsk region, a statue of Lenin in Orel region, and several pieces of architecture in St. Petersburg (including Peter Klodt’s famous ‘Horse Tamers’ on the Anichkov Bridge). In all, from the beginning of 2010, at least 86 vandal attacks occurred that were inspired by religious hate or other xenophobic motives.
In November 2010, neo-Nazi terror rose again; in Primorye, a case was opened on planning an attempt against the officer who investigated local racists’ crimes. In the end of October and in November, campaigns were organized to bully prosecutors and judges involved in neo-Nazis’ cases in St. Petersburg and Moscow (Vassily Krivets’ case and ‘National Socialism/White Power’ (NS/WP) nationalist organization case). St. Petersburg neo-Nazis claimed responsibility for mining railway lines near St. Petersburg on November 13 and a series of messages on the alleged mining of various public places on the eve of the Police Day (November 10). The most significant public event organized by the ultra-right was the annual Russian March that took place on November 4. The action turned out to set record both in number of participants in Moscow (nearly 5,500 marchers) and in its range throughout the country. Processions, demonstrations, crucessions, and picketing under the sign of the Russian March took place in at least 29 Russian cities.
The most successful of ultra-right groups’ recent attempts to develop an ethnic conflict out of an everyday incident after ‘Kondopoga scenario’ was made in the town of Khotkovo near Moscow. A man was dead due to a street fight between natives of Central Asia and local citizens (the former are already charged with hate crime). The incident provoked a series of protests including those under xenophobic slogans on the part of Khotkovo citizens, as it had happened in such cases before. Employers had to evacuate migrant workers from the town. Meanwhile, ultra-right organizations go on disseminating rumors on ‘the small town near Moscow terrorized by migrants’.
In November 2010, at least 3 guilty verdicts were issued for racist hate crimes in Voronezh, Nizhny Novgorod, and Samara. 8 people were convicted; 2 of them escaped punishment because of the expiry of the period of limitation, and 4 more received suspended sentences without any supplementary sanctions. In all, from the beginning of the year, at least 77 guilty verdicts have been issued for racist violence. 264 people were convicted; 93 of them escaped punishment due to the expiry of the period of limitation or received suspended sentences without any supplementary sanctions. In November 2010, 3 sentences were passed for xenophobic propaganda. 5 people were convicted in Kirov, Khabarovsk, and Syktyvkar; all of them received suspended sentences without any supplementary sanctions.
In all, from the beginning of the year, guilty verdicts for hate incitement (article 282) have been issued in 50 trials; 60 people were convicted, 30 of them received suspended sentences; we have no information about the court decision on the case of one of the convicts. In 5 trials, 5 people were convicted for public calls for extremist activity (article 280); all of them got suspended sentences. In 6 trials, 9 people were convicted under the sum of articles 282 and 280; 4 of them were given suspended sentences and 2 more escaped punishment because of the expiry of the period of limitation. In November, a guilty verdict under article 214 part 2 of the Criminal Code (hate vandalism) was issued for defiling a statue of Lenin. The vandal was sentenced to imprisonment. In all, from the beginning of 2010, 4 guilty verdicts have been issued for ideological acts of vandalism. 5 people were convicted; 2 of them received suspended sentences.
In November, the Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated three times (on November 1, 13, and 18) and grew from 706 to 727 items. This time again, the additions are not out of doubt. Among the new items, there are complete xenophobic texts as well as separate comments from forums. As of December 1, four of the 727 items are withdrawn from the list with numbering maintained; 32 items are put in the list on inappropriate grounds because the court rulings blacklisting those materials as extremist were cancelled, and 47 materials are included in it twice (the same materials with different output data, such as the text ‘You’ve Elected – You Should Judge’ (‘Ty izbral – tebe sudit’’) included in the list thrice, are not counted). On November 13, 2010, the Federal List of Extremist Organizations was updated. Items 16 (international religious unity ‘Takfir wal-Hijra’ banned by the Supreme Court on September 15, 2010) and 17 (Krasnodar city organization ‘Pit Bull’ deemed extremist by Oktyabrsky district court of Krasnodar on August 24, 2010) were included. Thus, as of December 1, 2010 the list contains 17 organizations whose activity is banned by courts and can be prosecuted for under article 282-2 of the Criminal Code (arranging activity of an extremist organization).
In the field of inappropriate enforcement of anti-extremist legislation, the trends of misuse remain the same. Still, criminal and administrative prosecution of adherents of new religious groups such as scientologists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Said Nursi’s followers, etc., goes on, National Bolshevik Party (NBP) activists are under persecution, and officials continue to imitate and overstate counter-extremist activity by imposing sanctions on libraries and schools.
© SOVA Center for Information and Analysis
ATTACKS ON IMMIGRANTS ON THE RISE IN GREECE
1/12/2010- A wave of violent attacks against immigrants by suspected right-wing extremists has put Muslims and the police on alert in rundown parts of Athens with burgeoning migrant populations. Immigrants have been beaten and stabbed near central squares, and several makeshift mosques have been burned and vandalized. In the most grievous attack, at the end of October, the assailants locked the door of a basement prayer site and hurled firebombs through the windows, seriously wounding four worshipers. “The attacks are constant — I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Naim Elghandour, who moved to Athens from Egypt in the 1970s and now heads the Muslim Association of Greece. “I used to be treated like an equal. Now I’m getting death threats.”
Tensions in neglected, crime-ridden parts of Athens with growing immigrant communities have been mounting over the past two years. Highlighting expanding public discontent, the extreme right-wing group Chrysi Avgi, or “Golden Dawn,” won its first ever seat on the Athens City Council in local elections three weeks ago. The group mustered strong support in working-class neighborhoods in the capital and elsewhere in Greece by describing migrants as a drain on the economy, which is reeling from a debt crisis, and calling for immediate deportations. The Greek news media linked the group to the violence after a spray-painted cross merged with a circle — a symbol used by extreme rightists worldwide — was found on the wall of a firebombed prayer site. But the police have not confirmed a connection, saying no arrests have been made. The group did not respond to requests for comment.
Thanassis Kokkalakis, a police spokesman, said the problem was complex. He said that while “extremist elements” were believed to be behind certain attacks, there was also violence between migrants of different ethnic origins, muggings of Greeks by poverty-stricken foreigners and clashes between extreme rightists and left-wing protesters. “All this chaos stems from a constantly growing population of immigrants in these areas,” said Mr. Kokkalakis, noting that about 150 migrants arrived in Athens daily despite the mobilization of European Union guards in early November at Greece’s land border with Turkey. “The upheaval has fueled aggravation among residents, which is being exploited by extremist groups.” The residents of the problem areas are divided: Some want dialogue and better policing, while others are taking matters into their own hands. Elderly and middle-aged residents often sit in local squares during the daytime, shouting abusive statements at migrants when they go by. Small gangs of teenagers stalk the neighborhoods by night, but it remains unclear if they are locals or visiting extremists.
The police have stepped up patrols following reports of attacks by vigilantes who, locals say, are as young as 14. “I saw three kids bashing an Afghan man with wooden poles until blood ran down his face,” said Muhammad, the Syrian manager of a convenience store in Aghios Panteleimonas, once a lively neighborhood, now a no-go zone. Like other migrants living in the area, he would not give his surname for fear of reprisals. The exact number of attacks remains unclear. “The victims are usually too scared to go to police,” said Thanassis Kourkoulas, a spokesman for Deport Racism, a group that offers targeted migrants advice and support. Others say this reflects a general trend in Europe. “Hate crimes against Muslims are underreported and underrecorded,” said Taskin Soykan, who advises the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on combating racial intolerance.
The attacks in Greece mirror similar incidents in other European countries, including Switzerland, where a referendum last November led to a ban on the construction of minarets on mosques, and in France and Italy, where the authorities have deported Roma residents and immigrants. “The difference in Italy is that most of the attacks were in the provinces, while in Greece they are in the heart of the capital, which is potentially far more explosive,” Liz Fekete of the Institute of Race Relations in London said. “The common factor is the formation of vigilante groups, egged on by the far right.” Angry protesters, including some thought to be right-wing extremists, had to be restrained by the police last month when thousands of Muslims congregated in several Athens squares for a religious festival. At one site, officers fired tear gas to disperse a small group of demonstrators, who continued their protest from the balconies of apartment complexes, pelting worshipers with eggs and playing loud music to disturb the prayers.
The day after the protests, government officials said a stalled project to build an official mosque was back on track. Athens is the only capital of the original 15 E.U. member states to lack a state-approved mosque. Although the country’s influential Orthodox Church has given its support to the project, opinion polls show that half of Athens’s five million residents oppose the creation of a mosque to serve the capital’s Muslim community, which numbers about 500,000. “A large mosque with minarets in the city center will be a provocation,” said Dimitrios Pipikios, the head of a residents’ group in Aghios Panteleimonas, where Chrysi Avgi drew 20 percent of the vote in recent elections. Mr. Pipikios said the only way to ease tensions was to deport immigrants. “There is no room for us all,” he said, adding that extreme rightists were patrolling the area “because the police are not doing their job.”
Other residents said they felt intimidated. “The situation is totally out of control,” said Maria Kanellopoulou, who wants not deportations but the better social integration of immigrants. The local authorities are determined to tackle the problem, said a spokesman for Giorgos Kaminis, the newly elected mayor of Athens. “Chasing immigrants away from city squares is an established technique of extreme rightists, and we are seeking advice on how to deal with it,” said the spokesman, Takis Kampilis, who has approached the municipal authorities in Germany, who have averted similar campaigns by neo-Nazis. The new mayor is also planning to improve health care and housing for migrants and organize street markets where they can legitimately sell wares rather than touting illegally on street corners. Ms. Fekete said increasing integration would help, but to stamp out extreme violence, local and central governments must condemn it in strong terms. “If the authorities do not speak out, public tolerance of the violence will grow,” she said. “This is a wake-up call.”
© The New York Times
NAZI LABOUR CAMP ATTACK TEENS SENTENCED (Austria)
2/12/2010- Three teenagers have been given suspended jail sentences for firing plastic bullets at a group of Nazi slave labour camp survivors. The male friends, aged between 14 and 16 when the incident occurred at the former stone quarry in Ebensee in Upper Austria, in May 2009. The defendants admitted having approached the group of elderly Frenchmen and Italians wearing masks and camouflage. They shouted "Sieg Heil, you pigs!" and "Blood and honour!" while goose-stepping in front of the horrified men who visit the former labour camp every year in memory of the more than 8,700 forced labourers who died at the site between 1943 and 1945. The teenagers then gave the Nazi salute and fired plastic ammunition at the group – which included several Holocaust survivors, with their airsoft guns. Daniel Simon, one of the 120 members of the group, said at the Provincial Court in Wels yesterday (Weds): "It is not important to me that these young people get punished. I want them to learn from it." Simon heads the French Mauthausen Committee which organises trips to Austria and other events to commemorate the victims of the Upper Austrian World War Two concentration camp of the same name. The 64-year-old Frenchman and another man were hit on the head by bullets in the incident which caused public outcry in Austria and across the world.
The three accused teens were given suspended prison terms of five to six months, while another defendant was acquitted. The verdicts are not yet legally binding. One of them wrote a handwritten letter of the Austrian Mauthausen Committee (MKÖ) to apologise to the victims around one month after the attack. He wrote: "We did not want to hurt or threaten anyone by our disrespectful behaviour. It was supposed to be a prank." The teenager’s lawyer Kurt Waldhör claimed his client would like to "erase" the day on which the assaults occurred from his life. Simon said about the letter: "I hope he meant what he wrote." One of the main suspects was found to be a member of the Kinderfreunde, a children’s leisure time activities organisation run by the Social Democrats (SPÖ), and the SPÖ’s Red Falcons youth organisation. It has, however, not been revealed whether it was the young Social Democrat who sent the letter of apology. The teens, who live locally, were tracked down only a few days after the incident. They claimed in court they were not neo-Nazis and in fact had no political attitude whatsoever.
FEDERAL HATE CRIME LAW GETS FIRST PROSECUTION (usa)
NM defendants face 10 years to life for branding Navajo man
30/11/2010- Three New Mexico men will become the first in the nation to be charged under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, a new law that expands the federal definition of violent hate crimes. The men are accused of shaping a coat hanger into a swastika, placing it on a heated stove and branding the symbol on to the arm of a mentally disabled Navajo man. They also allegedly shaved a swastika on the back of the victim's head and used markers to scrawl messages and images on his body, including "KKK" "White Power" a pentagram and a graphic image of a penis. If convicted the men could face 10 years in prison. Those sentences could be extended to life in prison if the government proves that in addition to the horrific acts described above the men kidnapped their victim as part of the crime. The defendants have pleaded not guilty. According to federal prosecutors, they were able to bring the case as a hate crime because the 2009 law, enacted by the Obama administration, eliminated a requirement that the victim be engaged in a federally protected activity such as voting or attending school for a hate crime charge to apply.
Unfortunately the case represents an apparent bubbling up of white racism that results in horrific acts of violence. While most of those acts resulted in property crimes (like the burning or defacing of mosques, for example) there is no denying that this country is witnessing a resurgence of violent white rhetoric. Let's hope federal prosecutors aggressively use this new law to fight back against this resurgence. We may not be able to eradicate white nationalism in its entirety, but with tools like this law, we can certainly make perpetrators think twice before acting in such a horrific fashion.
© Care 2
3 ADDITIONAL ANTI-SEMITIC INCIDENTS SPARK ANGER IN COMMUNITY (usa)
30/11/2010- As Hanukkah begins at sundown, the limestone rock used to vandalize the Chabad House Jewish Student Center will be one piece of the foundation of the center’s new 12-foot menorah. The rock was found by members of the center on Nov. 23 and was the first of five incidents of anti-Semitic vandalism on campus reported in the past week. ”The very rock that was thrown at us to intimidate, we will use to illuminate,” Rabbi Yehoshua Chincholker from Chabad said. On Tuesday, a second limestone rock was thrown through the window of an apartment above Chabad, nearly hitting resident and student Maggie Williams as she worked on a paper at about 7 a.m. The rock, was bigger than the palm of her hand and put a hole in her drywall, she said. Then, at about 7:50 a.m. a rock was thrown at the staff directory glass display case for the Robert A. and Sandra B. Borns Jewish Studies Program in Goodbody Hall. Additional vandalism included a report to the IU Police Department on Monday that eight Hebrew texts were found urinated on in eight different restroom toilets of the Herman B Wells Library. A rock thrown through a back kitchen window of the Helene G. Simon Hillel Center was found on Nov. 27.
In the six years he has been with the Office of Diversity Education, Director Eric Love said he has not seen anything similar to the multiple acts of hate that occurred in the past week. The only comparable vandalism was in October 2007, when a beer bottle was thrown through one of the windows of Chabad. A few weeks later, the word “Jewish” was stripped from the building. Love said he was appalled and mortified when he heard the news. He called for students to stand together against this kind of hate and support for the Jewish community. “This could happen in the black community, the gay community or the Latino community,” Love said, adding that acts of hate have happened in all these communities. IU and Bloomington police are investigating these incidents and have increased police, both in uniform and pedestrian clothes, around the vandalized areas. IUPD are looking for a suspect described as a white male, 5 feet 8 inches, with grayish blond hair and a gray beard between the ages of 40 to 50 years old for the incident at Goodbody Hall, according to an IUPD press release. The man, reportedly wearing a yellow jacket over a hooded sweatshirt and off-white pants, was last seen near Ballantine Hall.
“It’s kind of disgusting that people or someone is organizing to make these incidents happen,” Alex Groysman, president of the Chabad, said. “It’s unfortunate that these things are happening on our campus, especially with everything the Jewish centers do in the community.” Although no students have approached his office, Dean of Students Pete Goldsmith said he and his office are reaching out to the Jewish community and offering their support. “It’s something that shouldn’t happen in the University community,” Goldsmith said. “It’s a place of tolerance.” Bloomington has a history of speaking out against intolerance and anti-Semitism, and these actions are not acceptable, Rabbi Sue Laikin Silberberg of Hillel said. “We’re doing everything we can, working with the police and University, to find who is responsible,” she said. “We are grateful for the support the University and community is giving the Hillel and the Jewish community here.” Love said he will meet with student leaders to organize a response in support of the Jewish community.
IUPD has notified the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice, which they do whenever an act appears to be motivated by hatred for a particular religion. The Jewish Studies Program, Hillel and Chabad are also working together to keep students and members of the community vigilant without panicking. Paul Eisenberg, president of the Congregation Beth Shalom, said the congregation’s building has not been vandalized, but since it is a possibility, he has called for an increase in surveillance. “I’m having some of our congregants drive by and check on the building during the night time,” Eisenberg said. Goldsmith said the University will be reaching out to the community to help identify the suspect and added that the University is doing what it can to stop attacks and ones similar to them. “The books that were chosen were sacred books,” Jeffrey Veidlinger, Jewish Studies Program director said. “On the one hand, they’re just paper and glass, but on the other hand, they’re sacred paper and glass that symbolize our religion.”
© The Indiana Daily Student
HATE CRIME FIGURES PUBLISHED FOR THE FIRST TIME (uk)
30/11/2010- Hate crime figures for England, Wales and Northern Ireland have been published for the first time. In 2009 a total of 52,028 crimes were recorded in which the offence was motivated by prejudice. Victims were targeted because of race, religious belief, sexual orientation, disability or transgender issues. Chief Constable Stephen Otter of police chiefs' body Acpo said: "By publishing this data... we hope to encourage victims and witnesses to come forward." The vast majority were targeted because of their race - 43,426 (up from 39,300), and the others were classified as sexual orientation - 4,805; religion/faith - 2,083; disability - 1,402 and transgender - 312. An Acpo spokesman said 703 crimes were anti-Semitic. Mr Otter, Acpo's lead for equality, diversity and human rights, said: "Hate crimes cause a great deal of harm among victims and communities. "Publication of the data underlines the commitment of the police service to tackle hate crime, build confidence and encourage victims to come forward so that under-reporting is reduced." Although data was not collated nationally before 2009, Acpo says it believes there has been a rise in all five types of hate crime.
'Much work to do'
Professor John Grieve CBE, independent chair of the government's Hate Crime Advisory Group, welcomed the data and said: "It represents a significant step forward in our understanding of the nature and extent of hate crime in England, Wales and Northern Ireland." Prof Grieve, a former deputy assistant commissioner with the Metropolitan Police who set up a racial and violent crime task force at Scotland Yard, said: "The UK is amongst world leaders in the way that it responds to hate crime, but there is still much work to do. "One of the greatest challenges is to reduce the under-reporting of hate crime. We welcome the government's commitment to increase reporting and we will be examining this data in the forthcoming months and years to better understand the extent of crime and to challenge where performance does not meet the high standards that the public rightly demands of the criminal justice agencies."
© BBC News
UW-PLATTEVILLE STUDENTS TARGETS OF HATE CRIMES (usa)
Racist graffiti on doors of black student leaders brings number of campus area incidents to 25
28/11/2010- Two University of Wisconsin-Platteville leaders of the Black Student Union found racist graffiti written on their homes late last Monday night, increasing the number of hate-based incidents the school has experienced to 25 this semester. The UW-Platteville Black Student Union President Brittany Dupree and Vice President Darryl Meek both discovered their off-campus homes had been vandalized with derogatory words. According to Meek, someone wrote profane racial slurs and direct threats on his own window and the front door to Dupree’s house. UW-Platteville Chancellor Dennis Shields said there have been numerous cases of racist and homophobic graffiti on-campus since last spring. According to Meek, many of these incidents have involved racist graffiti in dorms and vandalizing of student’s vehicles. Shields said the incidents that took place Monday night targeted specific individuals and precautions were taken to make sure they were safe. The students were temporarily moved to different locations, Shields said.
The UW-Platteville Police Department and the Platteville Police Department are investigating the off-campus crimes with the assistance from the FBI. According to Shields, there have been no leads in either of the cases. Meek said it is hurtful to have this incident happen, but it is not surprising considering the lack of response the administration has had regarding the other 23 incidents. Meek said he is disappointed with how the university has handled the numerous cases of hate-based crimes that have occurred on campus. Meek added he attributes the number of these crimes not just to the few people who have committed them, but to the campus atmosphere that has resulted from people terrorizing minority groups and getting away with it. “It is the campus climate that allows this to happen,” Meek said. Shields said there has clearly been a drastic increase in the amount of hate-based crimes within the past year.
The amount of crimes that have been committed on campus does not indicate the overall sentiment of students, Shields said. “The perpetrators are the exception,” Shields said. “The overwhelming majority of students do not support these acts of racism.” Shields added it is apparent that incidents like this are happening on other college campuses as well. According to a statement released by the Chancellor’s Office, the university is offering a reward of $1,000 for any information leading to the arrest of the individuals responsible for the crime. “We are doing whatever we can to make sure our students are safe,” Shields said. However, Meek said he did not believe the administration was doing enough to make students feel safe on campus. Meek said students of color do not feel safe or welcome on campus and the school should be doing more to make sure that they are able to have an education free of fear. Meek said he would like to see the university doing more to educate students on different ethnicities in order to change the campus climate. According to a report by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, faculty members are planning on holding a rally for minority students on Tuesday afternoon.
© The Badger Herald
TEACHER TELLS OF KORAN ROW FEARS (uk)
27/11/2010- A teacher at a school where a student allegedly set fire to an English language version of the Koran fears extremists may now "jump on a bandwagon". The 15-year-old schoolgirl was arrested on suspicion of inciting racial hatred on November 19. West Midlands Police said the pupil, who was later bailed, was accused of setting fire to the booklet at an unnamed school in the Sandwell area, and posting the footage on Facebook. A 14-year-old boy was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of making threats on the social networking site, in connection with the alleged incident. He was later released on bail. A senior teacher at the school told the BBC: "I'm very concerned over the wider impact of this in terms of people with extreme views may choose to jump on a bandwagon. That is my deep-seated fear at this moment in time." He said the schoolgirl "did not realise exactly what she was doing", adding: "If she stopped to consider the fallout of doing this kind of thing, and she considered the offence it would cause to people within her own community in the school, I honestly don't believe she would have done it." A police spokeswoman said: "The local neighbourhood team have strong links with the school and have been working closely with key partners from the community and the local authority to resolve the matter locally. "West Midlands Police will investigate and monitor any crime reported by individuals who may have been targeted because of their disability, gender, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation or transgender." Councillor Bob Badham, Sandwell Council's cabinet member for children and families, said: "The council has been working hard with a school, police, and the local community to maintain harmony following an incident earlier this month. "All involved have reacted very positively".
© The Press Association
SUBURBS 'GREATER THREAT TO MUSLIMS' (uk)
27/2010- Muslims and their mosques face a higher level of threats and intimidation in UK suburbs and market towns than in big cities, according to a new report. Case studies reveal that examples such as a Muslim woman who was punched and called a "terrorist" in front of her petrified daughter are not uncommon. Such attacks often go unreported, and in this case the woman was too scared to inform the police. She also played down the incident to reduce her child's distress, and avoided explaining why she was singled out for wearing a burka and being a Muslim woman. The new study Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Hate Crime: UK Case Studies reveals this kind of unprovoked incident is a largely hidden experience that is insufficiently acknowledged and understood outside of the communities where they occur. The report published on 27 November is part of a ten year academic research project led by the University of Exeter’s European Muslim Research Centre (EMRC). It captures a snapshot of these experiences which are often unrecognised by the media, politicians and wider British society. The research also combines an academic approach to identifying world events and policy information that inform the way reactions and actions towards Muslims can be influenced.
Findings show that since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, arson, criminal damage, violence and intimidation against mosques has increased dramatically and smaller or isolated Muslim communities in places like Colchester, Bishop Stortford and Boston have become especially vulnerable. Dr Jonathan Githens Mazer, co-Director of the EMRC said, "Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate crime are very real problems for British Muslims going about their everyday business. Through our research we have found that in smaller and more isolated mosques in many suburbs and market towns there is a feeling of being under siege. Some local councils who are made aware of the situation say to mosque officials, 'we can see this is bad, why don't you move the mosque?'" The report also analyses the local activity by the British National Party, English Defence League and sister organisations. Anti-migrant and random attacks that have impacted on every poor urban community where most Muslims live have also been studied.
Dr Bob Lambert, co-Director of the EMRC said, "Evidence has also indicated that the galvanising report of the Stephen Lawrence Enquiry changed police response to hate crimes. Whereas, because the war on terror is viewed as a security risk, Muslims do not have the support that is now widely accepted in other areas of hate crime. Muslims are not requesting special treatment, just equal rights with their fellow citizens." Professor John Esposito from Georgetown University, USA argues against the anti-Muslim rhetoric and has recently been commenting on the furore surrounding the negative campaigning against Park51, the so-called Ground Zero Mosque in Lower Manhattan. He will be attending the launch of the new report and recognises the need to unite UK and US citizens in a common purpose. He said, "US and UK citizens should distinguish the faith of mainstream Muslims from the claims of a minority of extremists who justify their acts of violence and terrorism in the name of Islam. Blurring this distinction plays into the hands of preachers of hate (Muslim and non-Muslim) whose rhetoric incites and demonizes, alienates and marginalizes and leads to the adoption of domestic policies that undermine the civil liberties of Muslims and non-Muslims alike."
The report analyses threats of violence and intimidation Muslims face in the UK such as:
* Political violence from a small violent extremist nationalist milieu that has broadly the same political analysis as the British National Party (BNP).
* Increased intimidation by anti-Muslim demonstrations in Muslim communities by the EDL and sister organisations.
* Gangs and individuals who have become convinced and angry by negative portrayals of Muslims in the media most especially of Muslims as terrorists and security threats consist of the principle category of assailant.
* Racist, anti-migrant and random attacks have impacted every poor urban community where most Muslims live.
* Arson, criminal damage, violence and intimidation against mosques, Islamic institutions and Muslim organisations has increased dramatically. Many mosques in isolated Muslim communities have become especially vulnerable.
* A disturbing number of hate crimes take place in which Muslim women wearing hijabs, niqabs or burkas have been assaulted, abused and intimidated.
© Islamophobia Watch
NEO-NAZI STEFAN LUFF WALKS FREE FROM LEWES CROWN COURT (uk)
27/11/2010- A neo-Nazi who racially abused families in the street and littered a seaside resort with vile fascist stickers walked free from court yesterday. Stefan Luff, 49, was wearing a Nazi SS ring when he approached a woman and her two nieces in Winchelsea, East Sussex, last year and made racist comments. He racially abused a couple in nearby Rye later that day. The man took his photo and he was arrested shortly after. Officers who searched his house in Hastings found a collection of Nazi and Ku Klux Klan memorabilia and evidence linking him to a racist sticker campaign. He was given a suspended sentence and ordered to pay £1,000 compensation at Lewes crown court. Sussex police said: "We are pleased with the sentence Luff received. It sends out a strong message that racist abuse of any kind will not be tolerated".
© The Mirror
CROATIAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE FOOTBALL PLAYER AND BROTHER ATTEMPTED TO MURDER CROATIAN WAR INVALID DUE TO HIS SEXAL ORIENTATION (press release)
24/11/2010- We are addressing you regarding attack on Mr. Goran Hadžić that happened in night 6/7 November 2010 around 2 a.m. Mr. Hadžić reported the attack to the Legal Team of Iskorak and Kontra and asked us to forward information from this statement to the media. Also, we engaged attorney at law to work on this case.
Miroslav Šarić (24), football player of first Croatian football league (former player of Dinamo, now plays for Inter) and his brother Marko Šarić (21) followed Mr. Hadžić after leaving gay club. Without any reason, they attacked Mr. Hadžić with intention to murder him, knocked him to the ground and were hitting him with legs only in head and they would certainly succeed in their intention to murder him if they were not stopped by arrival of four passersby. While they were hitting him with their legs in the head, both attackers were shouting repeatedly: “Kill him! Kill him! Kill him! Motherfucker faggot!”. Mr. Hadžić, Croatian watr veteran and invalid, gained severe physical injuries; fracture of nose with shift, hematoma on the face, and tearing of the lip (7 stitches). Due to bleading from his head he was hospitalised in Vinogradska hospital at the department for neurosurgery several days. Attackers are currently in pretrial detention in Zagreb.
Legal Team of Iskorak and Kontra provides free legal help to persons that experienced violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for 8 years. LGBT (lesbians, gay, bisexual, transgender) persons in most cases dont report violence due to fear of revealing their sexual orientation, but also because they dont have confidence into state institutions, especially police. Increased frequency and intensity of attacks on LGBT persons in Croatia points to the need of more efficient actions by represive organs – police and State Attorney's Office in such cases. We welcome condemnation of hate crimes against LGBT persons by minister of internal affairs, but we believe that stronger message from the government regarding this kind of criminal offences is needed. First of all, it is needed to introduce higher sanctions for hate crimes in new proposal of Criminal Code that currently is being created.
We demand from state institutions:
• From State Attorney's Office to qualify the attack on Mr. Hadžić as attempt of depraved heart murder in conjuction with race and other discrimination, due to the brutality and the way it was conducted;
• From relevant institutions to identify and penalise all perpetrators of violent attacks that have not been identified so far;
• To introduce higher sanctions for hate crimes against all social groups;
• To introduce continuous education of police officials on hate crimes based on sexual orientation and better cooperation with civil society organisations for protection of human rights of LGBT persons;
• Penalising discrimination and hate speech of the President of Croatian Football Association and other football trainers, and better implementation of the Anti-discrimination Act in general.
As supplement to this statement there is photo of Mr. Hadžić taken by his friend couple of days after the attack. Mr. Hadžić asked us to send it with the statement.
Sanja Juras, Edo Bulić,
koordinatorica Lezbijske grupe Kontra koordinator Iskoraka
© ILGA Europe