ICARE Hate Crime News - Archive February 2011

Headlines 25 February, 2011

24/2/2011- Today the Regional Court in Ostrava handed down sentences against the neo-Nazi perpetrators of a brutal attack on Roma people in Havíøov. Three defendants were sentenced to prison for three to four years without the possibility of parole, while another three were given suspended sentences of two years in prison. Two defendants were acquitted. The group of right-wing radicals was charged with attacking several people and seriously injuring a 17-year-old male three years ago. The group randomly selected Roma people on the streets of Havíøov for attack, chasing them through the town. One victim was attacked so brutally that his injuries were life-threatening. The young man survived only thanks to rapid medical treatment. The assailants kicked him in the head and caused serious injury to his skull by beating him with a collapsible nightstick and an iron bar. The youth was unable to speak and was partially paralyzed after the attack. Police succeeded in identifying only eight alleged assailants. According to eyewitnesses, more than eight people were involved in the attacks.
© Romea



By Paul LeGendre, Director, Fighting Discrimination Program

22/2/2011- Two years ago today, 27-year-old Robert Csorba and his four-year-old son were shot dead as they ran from their burning home in Tatárszentgyörgy, Hungary. The Csorba family is Roma, a fact that sparked unknown assailants to set the home ablaze and then wait to murder the fleeing victims with shotguns. This heinous double murder was not an isolated event. Between January 2008 and August 2009, a series of crimes with similar characteristics—the use of guns and the throwing of Molotov cocktails—occurred in Roma communities throughout Hungary, leaving at least six Roma dead and many others gravely injured. In August 2009, the investigation of these crimes—one that had been marred by delays and instances of misconduct—finally concluded with the arrest of four men who have been charged in connection with the crimes. As of today though, their trial has yet to commence and nobody thus has been held accountable for the murders.

Last month, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán declared Roma issues a priority for the Hungarian Presidency of the European Union. He promised to work towards a “functioning Roma strategy” at EU-wide level to improve social inclusion of Roma citizens. While the Prime Minister’s pledge to enhance Roma rights across the EU is commendable, the rhetoric has done little to console Hungary’s Roma, who continue to face discrimination, including in the form of hate crime. They have been waiting for justice to be served and for Hungarian officials to lead by example when it comes to addressing the daily struggles of Roma at home. Setting aside its high rhetoric in support of Roma rights across Europe, there is much that Hungary’s government could do at home. There have been some welcome steps in the form of commitments to train police on combating hate crime and an early initiative to encourage more Roma to join the police force. Yet much remains to be done. It’s time for the government to prove that Hungary is serious about standing up for its Roma citizens at home as it pursues initiatives at the EU level. Here are four steps—outlined in more detail in HRF’s Blueprint to the Hungarian Government—that Hungarian authorities could take today:

1. With regard to arrests already made in August 2009, the Hungarian authorities should move quickly to bring the suspects to account through an open and transparent trial, a proceeding that could play a role in elevating the problem of racist violence against Roma to the forefront of the public debate.
2. Law enforcement authorities should ensure that police have clear guidelines to vigorously address crimes that are motivated in whole or in part by racism or other forms of bias. Although the country has in place specific, albeit limited, laws addressing hate crime, these provisions are not adequately implemented. The police need to enhance their capacity to recognize when a crime should be classified and investigated as “racially motivated.”
3. A more effective system for publicly reporting the incidence and response to hate crimes should be implemented. The current system does not permit the identification of the ethnicity of the victim of a crime. As a result, there is no statistical information on the number of crimes in which an individual was targeted because of their ethnicity or due to other bias motivations.
4. Finally, the Hungarian authorities should take a more vocal role in acknowledging the problem of hate crime against Roma in Hungary. They should publicly condemn such crimes when they occur at home or in other European nations. Only when the extent of the problem is fully acknowledged and authorities take a public stance to act can real progress begin.
© Human Rights First



Vandals daubed Nazi swastikas over a series of religious statues in Wiltz on Friday night. The graffiti was discovered early on Saturday morning, with slogans painted across a statue of the Notre Dame de Fatima and several memorial stones using latex paint. Anyone who witnessed the incident is urged to call the Grand Ducal police on 113.
© 352 Lux Mag



22/2/2011- Croatian LGBT associations believe that the country will not be ready to close the European Union negotiations chapter on judiciary and fundamental rights before hate crime becomes a criminal offence. The Centre for LGBT equality comprising of associations LORI, Queer Zagreb and Zagreb Pride expects the Croatian government to report to the public on the implementations of the measures needed for closing the chapter 23 on judiciary. 'Anti-discrimination and respect for human rights are an important part of chapters 23. In Croatia, the national and ethnic origin and sexual orientation and gender expression are most often the grounds of discrimination and hate-motivated crimes," the organizations say. Official statistics recorded around 20 hate-motivated crimes last year, and only three on the basis of sexual orientation. The organizations say that these numbers do not reflect Croatia's reality, as NGOs have noted a much higher incidence of hate-motivated crimes, the daily Jutarnji List writes.
© The Croatian Times



Greece, more than many European nations, continues to wrestle with strong anti-Jewish feelings. Such sentiments have been revived amid the angst and anger of the Greek economic crisis.

21/2/2011- Nearly 70 years later, Athens, one of the last European capitals to commemorate those who perished at the hands of Nazi forces, finally has a Holocaust memorial. But since its dedication in May, synagogues have been targeted, Jewish cemeteries desecrated, Holocaust monuments elsewhere in Greece vandalized and the Jewish Museum of Greece, in the capital, defaced with swastikas. What's more, an alarming chunk of Athenians in November supported the election of a neo-Nazi candidate to the capital's city council. The ocher-colored marble sculpture in the shape of a broken-up Star of David, its triangular tips dismembered, points toward the 29 Greek cities from which at least 60,000 Jews were gathered and deported to the Auschwitz and Treblinka extermination camps between 1943 and 1944. The deaths of these victims are memorialized amid striking serenity. Set within a patch of olive and almond trees, and its pieces embedded alongside an herb garden of lavender, marjoram and thyme, the sculpture symbolizes survival and healing. Or is supposed to.

Although anti-Semitism is an old and shameful part of Europe's history, Greece, more than many European nations, continues to wrestle with strong anti-Jewish feelings. Such sentiments have been revived amid the angst and anger of the Greek economic crisis. "We've always been under siege by fanatics and far-right political movements here," said David Saltiel, president of the Central Jewish Board of Greece, which represents the country's 6,000 Jews. "The fear now is that anti-Semitism will get worse with the financial crisis." Well into the nation's worst recession in 17 years, the government in Athens was thrown a bailout lifeline of $146 billion by the European Union and International Monetary Fund last year in exchange for draconian reforms and cost-cutting measures designed to slash the country's yawning budget deficit, equal to 15.4% of gross domestic product. The measures are thought to be responsible for a surge in hate crimes against minorities by Greeks venting rage over rising unemployment and immigration.

Strapped for cash, the Socialist government has been aggressively wooing rich sovereign investors, tapping into deep pockets in China, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and, now, Israel. This month, scores of Jewish American leaders arrived in Athens to advance Israel's revived relations with Greece, but not all here were happy to see yarmulkes on Greek streets, much less in the offices of senior politicians, including the country's president. "We're in danger!" warned renowned composer Mikis Theodorakis, who in the course of a television interview openly conceded that he was an anti-Semite. "Zionism and it leaders are here, meeting in our country! "This is no laughing matter," he railed, berating Zionism and its "control over America and the banking system that Greece is now a victim of." Such beliefs aren't new. Nor are they just Greek. What's different in Greece is the level of tolerance for anti-Semitism.

"There is zip, zilch, zero reaction to any semblance of anti-Semitism," said human rights activist Panayotes Dimitras, "leaving the door wide-open for extremists to come in and exploit this phobic society, more so now, in this time of crisis."  Some critics fault the country's Jewish organizations for shunning quick public reaction to attacks; others point to the attitude of some church prelates and to Greece's failure to come to terms with its once-multicultural identity and harrowing past. "Whatever the cause," said Anna Stai of the Anti-Nazi Initiative, "Greece can no longer sit in denial about its anti-Jewish feelings. It's dangerous."

Take the case of Konstantinos Plevris. A self-avowed anti-Semite and Holocaust denier, the 70-year-old lawyer was sentenced to 14 months in prison in 2007 for inciting racial hatred with his book "Jews: The Whole Truth." In 2009, the decision was overturned, and a year later, the Supreme Court upheld Plevris' acquittal, arguing that his "scientific work" did not target the Jews as a race or religion but, rather, their "conspiratorial pursuit of global domination," according to a copy of the 2010 decision. World Jewish organizations kicked up a storm in protest, but in Athens, mainstream news media offered scant coverage of the ruling and the government remained silent.

Two weeks ago, Stai and other members of the Anti-Nazi Initiative traveled to Brussels to lobby for support from European lawmakers. "There is such a strong undercurrent of anti-Jewish feeling in Greece," said Dimitras, the human rights activist, "that any hope of drawing attention to the problem must now come from outside pressure." Others say there is still hope within. "We're at a turning point as a society today," said Zanet I. Battinou, standing before a scale model of the Holocaust memorial showcased at the Jewish Museum of Greece, which she directs. "If we found the courage to take on responsibility for the financial mess we find ourselves in today, then we can take responsibility in facing down one of our worst traits." If anything, she quips, "we're running out of scapegoats."
© The Los Angeles Times


Headlines 18 February, 2011

Several students of Jewish origin from Trondheim have complained of being harassed and threatened.

18/2/2011- Morgenbladet published a letter last month sent by a Jewish student, in which he describes how badly students like him are treated. He claims that he and his family had to move out from the city, and that many other students like him are considering the same thing. He strongly believes the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) has developed into a political hotbed. In his letter, Daniel Vatsvåg alleges a woman approached him while he was enjoying the evening at a nightclub, asking if she could sit next to him to have a smoke. She asked him where he was from, to which he replied Stavanger. He soon realized that she was referring to his nationality, telling her his mother was British, and comes from an Israeli family. He alleges this changed the woman’s mood, who quickly became angry and admitted she personally was “pro-Hamas”. Soon after, she started screaming profanities at the young man and her friends took her out of the nightclub.

Michal Rachel Suissa, head of the Centre for combating anti-Semitism in Norway,believes the environment at NTNU acts as a magnet for people with radical and activist attitudes. “I would say that the environment is infected by anti-Semitism that breaks loose and becomes uninhibited when there is nothing there to restrict it”, Ms Suissa tells NRK. She also alleges she has received many complaints from people who feel unsafe in Trondheim, and says numerous people live under false identity. Although she feels Trondheim is a city friendly to Jews, Ms Suissa believes the environment at NTNU is the problem. “Some are beaten, spat on, and harassed, and it is not easy to be constantly accused of things that Israel is responsible for, in their opinion”, she alleges. Trond Singsås, a director at NTNU, claims cases of anti-Semitism are unknown to the university, and he regrets there are students experiencing racist views in Trondheim. “We have regular examinations of how the environment is for students, and they are asked about harassment and exclusion. We have not detected such reactions, so these must be isolated events”, he says.
© The Foreigner



18/2/2011- A man has been arrested in Long Beach on suspicion of committing hate crimes by vandalizing businesses that cater to gays and lesbians. Oliver Rodrich Saintvictor, 23, of Rancho Palos Verdes, allegedly smashed windows at three different businesses on the same day in December, Long Beach Police Department officials said. He first threw something through the window of a building in the 2000 block of East 4th Street about 8 p.m. on Dec. 17, 2010, police said. About 15 minutes later, a second window-smash vandalism was reported about two miles away in the 5100 block of East Ocean Boulevard, officers said. Investigators were concerned that both businesses catered to the gay and lesbian community, police said. The investigation led police to a third vandalism reported from a similar type of business in Redondo Beach with similar circumstances. Detectives discovered the crime occurred on the same date and the suspect and vehicle descriptions matched those of the Long Beach incidents. Saintvictor was identified and arrested Feb. 8. Saintvictor was charged by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office with felony vandalism with a special allegation for a hate crime. Detectives believe there may be more victims and ask anyone with information to call Det. Jackie Bezart at (562) 570-7250.
© The Los Angeles Times



17/2/2011- A neo-Nazi who spent months hunting down African-Americans on an Ohio university campus -- killing three people and badly injuring two more -- was executed Thursday, officials said. Frank Spisak, 59, was executed at 10:34 am (1534 GMT) prison officials said. His last words were a recitation of a Bible passage in German, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported. Spisak admitted to the 1982 shootings but pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and claimed to be a follower of Adolf Hitler. He appeared at his trial with a clipped mustache reminiscent of the German dictator, the newspaper reported. But Spisak was found to be competent and condemned to death, prison documents showed. Spisak told police that he'd killed one of the victims for 'allegedly making a homosexual advance, killed a second victim because he had witnessed the first slaying, and killed the third man while on a "hunting party" with another neo-Nazi looking for "a black person to kill," the documents showed. Police discovered Nazi-White Power paraphernalia and the beeper of one of the victims in Spisak's apartment at the time of his arrest. State officials said last month that Spisak would be the last Ohio inmate executed with the anesthetic Sodium thiopental, which is no longer manufactured in the United States. Future executions will be carried out with a drug used to euthanize animals. Some 13 US state have asked the federal government for help supplying thiopental. The number of executions in the United States is on the decline, falling by half in the past decade to just 45 in 2010.



17/2/2011- Local politicians and councillors have described ‘abusive’ graffiti at Tor Bank school as ‘utterly despicable’. This incident is one in a number of hate crimes that have taken place in east Belfast. PSNI statistics show that 200 hate crime incidents took place in east Belfast between April 2009 and March 2010 leading to 109 prosecutions. Two were crimes against people with disabilities. Alliance representatives Naomi Long MP, Chris Lyttle MLA and Councillor Judith Cochrane saw the graffiti whilst out surveying Dundonald residents February 12 and informed police. This news comes in the same week that Unite against Hate has begun a new campaign to ‘stomp out’ hate crime here. Naomi Long, MP, said: “This is utterly despicable and I think people will be rightly sickened by such an abusive and offensive attack on Tor Bank Special School and its pupils. “It is beyond belief that anyone would single out children with special needs as a target for such abuse. Chris Lyttle, MLA, said: “It is hard to comprehend what kind of individual would do such a thing and cause such hurt and offence. We are working to get the graffiti removed as soon as possible.

Cllr Cochrane said: “I know the people of Dundonald will be as angry as I am that Tor Bank and its pupils have been abused in this way. “The incident is being treated by the police as a hate crime and I would ask anyone who saw any suspicious activity in the area to report it to the police immediately.”  Unite against Hate stated: “More than 2,100 hate crimes were committed against minority groups last year but authorities believe more than twice that go unreported.” Eva Grosman, Unite against Hate project manager said everyone had a part to play in fighting prejudice and hate crime. She said the billboards aimed to encourage victims and witnesses to come forward so that under-reporting is reduced. She added: “Northern Ireland is not unique to suffer from these crimes but they are deeply damaging not just to the victims and their families and friends, but also to the international reputation of the country as a place to visit and invest.” Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr said: “If anyone feels they are a victim, report it to your local police station or phone and ask to speak to the district's hate crime and minority liaison officer and we will initiate an investigation.”
© The Belfast Telegraph



Police this week arrested a man over alleged assaults on children at a mosque following a documentary which uncovered cases of pupils at Islamic schools being physically abused and taught to be anti-Semitic.

17/2/2011- Monday's Channel 4 documentary, Dispatches: Lessons in Hate and Violence, secretly filmed what appeared to be a man hitting and kicking children during Koran lessons at a Sunday school in the Markazi Jamia mosque in Keighley, West Yorkshire. West Yorkshire Police have subsequently arrested a man over alleged assaults on children at a local mosque. They said in a statement: "We have recently become aware of a number of incidents of alleged assault at a mosque. One man has been arrested and released on police bail pending further inquiries." The footage also showed a preacher at Darul Uloom, a fee-paying school in Birmingham, making offensive remarks about non-Muslims, in particular Jews. He was recorded saying: "If you are travelling and the person next to you happens to be a Jew, the harm which he may do may be less than the harm of a (Muslim) person who has less than a fistful of beard." A teacher at the same school told 11-year-olds that Hindus "have no intellect" and "drink cow piss".

The school was praised in 2009 by government-approved inspectors for interfaith teaching that promoted "respect among its pupils for other religions". Fiyaz Mughal, director of the interfaith group Faith Matters, told the Jewish News: "The uncovering of extremist indoctrination in some Muslim schools is both chilling and shocking. But this is not typical of faith schools and we must not ignore the good work taking place across the UK where pupils are routinely warned of the consequences of prejudice and hatred." A spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, the UK's largest Muslim umbrella body, said: "As far as we are concerned, one incident of child abuse is too many. "Our community must work together to root out any such behaviour in our precious institutions. "We, along with the vast majority of British Muslims, consider freedom of conscience in religion without fear of harassment or ridicule to be a fundamental Islamic value and a universal human right." The spokesman added that the Muslim Council "do not believe the abuse of children in mosque-based education is widespread".
© Totally Jewish



16/2/2011- Children as young as one have been the victims of racist abuse, new figures suggested today. Police investigated 31 reports of hate crime targeted at youngsters aged under 11 in the Lothians last year, according to figures obtained by the Evening News under freedom of information. Experts have said abuse or attacks at such a young age could cause psychological damage, while politicians have urged the Government to clamp down on racist thugs. The reports detail one investigation into an incident in north Edinburgh, the worst area in the Lothians for hate crime against under 11s, where a 12-month-old child was listed as the victim. Police also probed a race hate crime against a two-year-old in south Edinburgh, and a seven- year-old in the same area. The figures also reveal that a ten-year-old child in Bathgate was targeted because the offenders thought the victim was homosexual. Overall, hate crimes investigated in Lothian and Borders rose by 8.4 per cent from 1604 in 2008/09 to 1739 in 2009/10.

Labour's justice spokesman, Richard Baker MSP, said the rise was "deeply worrying". He said that stricter sentences and robust policing in recent years may not have had the desired impact. He said: "It's appalling that children have been subject to hate crimes and I'm sure this will be met with a huge amount of concern throughout the community. "If it's adults committing these crimes against children, that is deeply worrying. "They should be subject to the full force of the law and the courts should deal with them in an appropriately severe manner. "However, if it is other children that are responsible for racist and homophobic crimes, that suggests deep-seated social problems that we need to deal with. "We have to ask why these attacks have taken place. If it's other children we have to ask how they would come to be driven by race and homophobia. He added: "The trends overall are also concerning. We have taken action in parliament in terms of introducing legislation and stiffer penalties on hate crimes, so if despite that we are seeing an increase, then we need to see an appropriate response from the relevant agencies." A police spokesman said: "Lothian and Borders Police will not tolerate hate crime of any nature and will robustly deal with anyone found to be responsible."
© The Scotsman



12/2/2011- Those convicted of ethnic hate crimes must be restricted from state service positions, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday. Speaking at the State Council meeting in Ufa, the capital of the Russian republic of Bashkortostan, Medvedev said he would also submit a bill to the State Duma that restricts people charged with incitement of ethnic hatred from holding teaching positions in educational centers. "They must not teach children or the youth at all," the president said. Interethnic problems came to the foreground in mid-December when a Moscow football fan was shot dead in a brawl with migrants from Russia's mainly Muslim North Caucasus region. The incident sparked race-hate riots and ethnic clashes across Russia, including a brawl between over 5,000 nationalists and police outside the Kremlin walls on December 11. Medvedev ordered the government to investigate the cases of ethnically-motivated restrictions in government administration circles. "It is no secret that there are restrictions to certain nationalities during the formation of administrative organs in some republics and individual regions," Medvedev said, adding that such "lopsidedness should be eradicated."
© RIA Novosti


Headlines 11 February, 2011


A 6-year-old boy was stabbed in the neck at a preschool in Jönköping in central Sweden after having been the target of bullies for an extended period of time, reported the local Jönköpings-Posten daily.

11/2/2011- The newspaper names the boy as Oskar and reports how his liking for pink clothing, ballet and nail polish left him exposed to regular bullying from other boys in his playgroup. The newspaper reported that he had also complained to his parents that he had been subjected to taunts that he was "gay" and "a girl". He had furthermore complained of being excluded from the group, and having been dragged from a climbing-frame. The incident last week in which the 6-year-old sustained a noticeable injury to his neck after having been stabbed with a blunt knife was the last straw for the parents, who have now moved their son and reported the matter to the Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen). The parents were reportedly further angered by the fact that they heard of the incident from their son and not from the staff at the preschool, who described the clash as a "small incident". "I don't want to have my child at a school which considers a stab with a knife to be a 'small incident'," the boy's mother told Jönköpings-Posten.
© The Local - Sweden



11/2/2011- In IUSTITIA, the only NGO in the Czech Republic to provide assistance to victims of violent hate crime, has celebrated its second anniversary by issuing the publication "Forgotten Victims: Violent hate crime and counseling for victims in the Czech Republic". "During our two years of existence we have provided legal advice to more than 30 long-term clients who were attacked because of their skin color, ethnicity or nationality, religious affiliation, or sexual orientation," says Klára Kalibová, who founded the organization. The cases range from verbal assault to crimes resulting in death. "Most of the incidents leave a permanent mark on the victim's psyche and that of those close to them. Hate crime cannot be anticipated and you can't hide from it - you are attacked because of what you represent in the eyes of the assailant, because you are Jewish, lesbian or homeless," Kalibová says.

Last year the organizations In IUSTITIA, ROMEA, Kulturbuero Sachsen and Tolerance and Civil Society (Tolerance a občanská společnost) researched NGOs working with persons who were potentially at risk of hate violence. The results of that research and other texts have now been released in the publication "Forgotten Victims: Violent hate crime and counseling for victims in the Czech Republic". The research and publications were supported by the German foundation Erinnerung, Verantwortung und Zukunft. "The victims of violent hate crime are truly forgotten. They are not a priority for the public administration, the media, or the NGOs themselves. As many as 90 % of hate crimes are never reported. Only one in 10 victims has the courage to turn to the police. Moreover, many crimes are never investigated with respect to the motivation of hatred, but are treated as ordinary crimes," says Kalibová, whose article in the publication covers the state approach to the issue. The publication (in Czech) is available for download at www.in-ius.cz.

During the past two years, in addition to providing legal assistance to the victims of hate violence, In IUSTITIA has trained several dozen police officers; organized a two-day international conference on violent hate crime and victim assistance; issued several publications for the public administration, professionals and youth; and cooperated with important international ties. The organization is currently participating in designing the new law on crime victims. An ongoing problem is the great under-financing of the ares in which In IUSTITIA provides services. "Assistance for hate crime victims, for the time being, is not a priority of the Czech state. I believe this will change," Klára Kalibová says. Last year the organization's activity was supported by the Foundation for Holocaust Victims (Nadační fond obětem holocaustu) and the Prague 1 town hall.
© Romea



9/2/2011- The crime rate in Moscow decreased year on year in 2010, but figures for both rapes and hate crimes grew, and the average size of a bribe extorted by officials in the capital was 20 times larger than nationwide, the Investigative Committee said Tuesday. An average bribe in the city amounts to 600,000 rubles ($20,000), compared with 30,000 rubles elsewhere in Russia, Vadim Yakovenko, senior investigator at the committee’s Moscow branch, said at a news conference, Interfax reported. The statistics are based on crimes investigated by the committee, he said. More than 500 graft cases have been forwarded to courts in 2010, Yakovenko said. The total number of crimes in Moscow dropped 12 percent to some 186,000, he said. Some 12,000 of them were committed by non-Muscovites, he added. The figure for murders decreased 8 percent to 582, the investigator said. The situation was worse with extremism-related crimes, the number of which grew one-third over the year, reaching 105. The number of extremism-motivated murders increased 50 percent, Yakovenko said. There were also 382 rapes registered last year, Yakovenko said, the RAPSI judicial news agency reported. That figure is 38 percent higher than last year, he said. Official statistics were called into question in an extensive study by a research group at the General Prosecutor’s Office Academy last month. The 840-page study claimed that only about one in 10 crimes nationwide was registered, the crime rate was growing at 2.4 percent over the last decade, and officials failed to take into account 126,000 possible murders in 2009 alone.
© The Moscow Times


9/2/2011- West Midlands Police and the Association of Chief Police Officers have joined forces to launch a controversial new website which aims to increase the reporting of so-called ‘hate crimes’. However, the site is likely to alarm many Christians who have become concerned at the way in which they have been unfairly targeted for such prosecutions in recent years. The controversial website will allow people to report perceived ‘hate crimes’ online.

According to the website a hate crime is any crime which is “targeted at a person because of hostility or prejudice” towards their sexual orientation, transsexual identity, belief, race or disability. It also states that you don’t have to “be a member of the group at which the hostility is targeted” to be a victim. Chief Inspector Mike Slemensek of Warwickshire Police’s equality, diversity and human rights unit said: “It will help encourage local people to report hate crimes – which are those crimes perceived by the victim or any other person as being motivated by prejudice or hate.”

The website, called True Vision, is being supported by all police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Last year a report by the Civitas think-tank revealed that Christians in Britain were being unfairly targeted for hate crime prosecutions. The report, entitled A New Inquisition: Religious Persecution in Britain Today, also warned that existing hate crime legislation posed a danger to freedom of speech.

Jon Gower Davies, the report’s author, said: “Some police forces and the CPS [Crown Prosecution Service] seem to be interpreting statutes in favour of ethnic and religious minorities and in a spirit hostile to members of the majority population, defined as ‘White’ or ‘Christian’.” Many of the prosecutions have been for causing “religiously aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress” under the Public Order Act. The report cited the example of Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang who were prosecuted for a hate crime, under Section 5 of the Public Order Act, last year after they engaged in a breakfast debate about Islam.

The couple, who were supported by The Christian Institute, were declared innocent last December but the ordeal led to the closure of their hotel. By contrast the report also cites the example of a Muslim man who escaped prosecution for a hate crime despite defacing a war memorial with slogans such as “Islam will dominate the world – Osama is on his way”.
© The Christian Institute



Attacks on Poles and Muslims have been identified as contributing to a 20% increase in racist incidents over the past 12 months.

11/2/2011- Increased levels of Islamophobia and negative attitudes towards Polish people could be behind a 20% rise in racist incidents in Scotland, experts have said. Every day in Scotland, 17 people are abused, threatened or violently attacked because of the colour of their skin, ethnicity or nationality. Statistics showed that 6171 incidents of racism were recorded in 2009/10 - a rise of 20.4% from the 5123 racist incidents recorded in 2008/9. The figures, revealed in a freedom of information request to Scotland's eight police forces, come despite there only being a 13% increase over the previous five years. Part of the rise is thought to be down to an increase in anti-Polish attacks, with the Federation of Poles in Great Britain saying there has been an annual 20% rise in racist incidents. Alastair McIntosh, fellow at the Centre of Human Ecology and a co-author of studies into racism in Scotland, said Islamophobia is also a problem in Scotland. He said: "Whenever you have the fear of poverty, people tend to become xenophobic, and I think that's an increasing issue in Scotland with the economic problems we've had recently. "Muslims in particular are having a hard time of it, and they all seem to get tarred with the same brush. It would be true to say Islamophobia is a problem in this country.” Incidents of racism directed at refugees are also thought to have increased. John Wilkes, Chief Executive of Scottish Refugee Council, said: "Fundamentally we believe that Scotland is a welcoming country and many people go out of their way to support asylum seekers and refugees who have been forced to flee violence or persecution in their home countries. "However we also hear worryingly frequent reports from both those seeking asylum and refugees who have been victim to racist abuse and attacks. Each of these reports is deeply troubling and any rise in the figures is worrying. "There is no place for this kind of abuse in 21st century Scotland."

A spokeswoman for the Equality and Human Rights Commission Scotland added: "Racism is unacceptable in whatever form it takes and must not be tolerated. Safe and secure community life is an essential right for everyone in Scotland so these figures are disappointing.” Politicians have also expressed concern at the rise in the figures. Labour justice spokesman Richard Baker said: "Clearly we haven't managed to deal with these problems and people will be rightly asking why these increases are happening." Bill Aitken, Conservative justice spokesman, added: "The number of these offences is clearly concerning and is unacceptable in Scotland in any circumstances." A Scottish government spokesman said: "The Scottish Government is totally committed to ridding Scotland of all forms of hate crime, whoever the victims are, and those found guilty in the courts can expect to be dealt with by the full force of the law. "As well as strengthening the laws in relation to hate crime, we have committed £10.5m between 2008 and 2011 to support projects run by 53 organisations delivering race and faith equality and improving the lives of minority ethnic and faith communities." According to figures released in 2010, race hate victims were most likely to be of Pakistani origin, with 48% of all those targeted classed as Asian, followed by white British. The majority of victims - 76% - were men and the vast majority of race hate perpetrators – 96% - were classed as white British. Of these, most were men aged 16-20, followed by men under the age of 16. Strathclyde Police reported the highest number of incidents with 2826, while Lothian and Borders Police dealt with 1494 incidents. The lowest recorded total was in Dumfries and Galloway, where police dealt with 70 racist incidents.



6/2/2011- Hate crimes against homosexuals in Scotland have risen almost fivefold in the past five years, shock new statistics have revealed. The statistics - gathered by a freedom of information request to Scotland's eight police forces - show a disturbing rise in reports of violent attacks, indecent assaults, abuse and vandalism against people targeted just because of their sexual orientation. Figures show there were 666 incidents of homophobic abuse in 2009-10, almost double the 364 incidents reported in 2007-8, and almost five times the 114 incidents reported in 2004-5. In Strathclyde, reported incidents have risen from 50 in 2004-5 to 286 last year, while in the Lothian and Borders area there was a rise from 45 to 167 over the same period. Rights organisation Stonewall Scotland revealed that two thirds of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people had been verbally abused in the past year, while a third had been physically attacked. The overall number of incidents is likely to be much higher as Stonewall said 61 per cent of victims did not report the crime to police.

The freedom of information statistics show that homosexuals have been abused or assaulted in their own homes, while eating in a restaurant, on public transport and while on a night out. In one case, in the Central Scotland area, a lesbian and gay centre was set alight. After a Stonewall Scotland campaign, police have been required to separately report incidents since March 2010. However, the FoI figures pre-date the new laws. Carl Watt, director of Stonewall Scotland, said: Over a quarter of the people attacked told us they accept abuse and attacks as part of being LGBT in Scotland. "Having said that we have a strong message from our police forces that crimes committed against people simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity will not be tolerated." Ian Latimer, chief constable of Northern Constabulary and spokesman on diversity for the Association of Chief Police Officers Scotland, said: "Hate crime in any form is unacceptable." And a Scottish Government spokesman added: "There is no room for complacency in this fight."
© The Scotsman



New statistics have revealed the levels of hate crimes in Suffolk’s schools for the first time.

5/2/2011- In the last academic year, Suffolk County Council asked all schools to report on homophobic and disablist incidents – something which has never been reflected in data before. The figures, which reflect the level of incidents that happened in 2009/2010, come after the EADT exclusively revealed the growing issues of racism in the county’s schools. Jane Basham, chief executive of Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (ISCRE), said that schools and the county council should be looking to community groups and charities to help reduce the level of incidents. The new data reveals that between September 2009 and 2010, there were 104 homophobic incidents, 34 of which were reported at Sudbury Upper School. The majority of homophobic incidents across Suffolk have been defined as being “verbal” offences. More than 6% of these involved a member of staff as the perpetrator. In addition, 40 disablist incidents were reported, with the majority reported also defined as verbal offences. The highest level of disablist incidents were at Copleston High School, in Ipswich, and Sudbury Upper. Ms Basham said that the high level of schools that hadn’t reported any incidents could reflect that some of them were not taking the issue seriously enough. She said: “We welcome the important move to record incidents of homophobic and disablist harassment in schools, and the date shows us some schools have made strides, but many have not. “As with racism, it seriously damages children and their families. But it is not just about reporting but it is also about changing social culture and attitudes.

“It needs to be addressed at the highest level and schools and the local authority need to recognise its impact. This means being determined and critically seeking support from the relevant communities and experts to work in partnership.” Meanwhile, Linda Hoggarth, chairman of disability charity Optua, welcomed the fact that the council was taking an interest in disablist incidents. However, she later said that many incidents continued to be both unrecognised and under-reported. Graham Newman, the county councillor responsible for children and young people’s services, said that any form of discrimination was unacceptable. A spokesman for the county council later said: “Reporting incidents of racism in schools is something that the government sees as being compulsory, however Suffolk County Council reports these incidents not because we have to but because we take these matters very seriously.” The headteacher of Sudbury Upper School has praised his students for being aware of incidents which require reporting. David Forrest said that his school was aware and conscious of the necessity of reporting racist, homophobic and disablist incidents. “I think that our figures reflect our determination to tackle these issues and to take them seriously,” he said. “We stick to the letter of the law in terms of these issues and we continue to raise awareness of these issues. “A large proportion of the incidents reported across all categories are actually reported by students about incidents which have not been witnessed by a member of staff. I think this really represents how strongly our students feel about this matter also.
© East Anglian Daily Times



7/2/2011- The trial of anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders on discrimination and inciting hatred charges resumed in Amsterdam on Monday with both defence and prosecution saying the entire case should be heard again. Last October the trial was abandoned after senior court officials ruled several irregularities in the proceedings could be deemed prejudicial. New judges have now been appointed. During Monday's procedural hearings, Wilders' lawyer Bram Moszkowicz said he wanted to start the whole process from scratch. The public prosecution department said it is not in favour of going right back to the beginning but would agree to the defence's wishes.

The leader of the anti-Islam PVV party faces several charges of inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims, Moroccans and non-Western immigrants. At his first trial, the MP wanted to call at least 17 witnesses including criminal law professor Theo Roos, several radical imams and Mohammed Bouyeri - the man who murdered film maker Theo van Gogh. Wilders has described Bouyeri as 'living proof' that Islam inspires people to violence. Moszkowicz said on Monday he would again press for all the witnesses to be heard. At the first trial, only a handful were approved. Wilders took the stand at the end of Monday's hearing and said the trial is about a 'much bigger' issue than him alone. 'Freedom is being sacrificed because a totalitarian ideology wants to turn it into a sin,' Wilders said. 'It is the duty of free people to resist this.' Judges last week rejected calls by the plaintiffs for new prosecutors to be appointed. Several of the groups which have pressed for legal action against Wilders are angry that the prosecution department had also called for not guilty verdicts on all charges during the first trial.
© The Dutch News


Headlines 4 February, 2011


A Jewish charity which monitors acts of anti-Semitism in the UK says it recorded 639 incidents of violence, threats and abuse last year.

3/2/2011- The figure, from the Community Security Trust, is the second highest since it began its work in 1984. The peak of 926 incidents came in 2009, and was attributed to a backlash against Israel's invasion of Gaza. Most of last year's incidents happened near Jewish communities in London, Manchester, Hertfordshire and Leeds. In its annual report, the charity said anti-Semitism had increased since the 1990s and, although said the total number of incidents for 2010 was almost a third less than the 926 recorded in 2009, that was still worse than 2008. It said it recorded 114 acts of violence, but none of them could be classed as grievous bodily harm or life-threatening. Some 59 of the incidents targeted synagogues and a further 52 were attacks on people coming or going from prayers. Some 28 Jewish children suffered anti-Semitic incidents during their journey to or from school. In one incident, a rabbi and his two sons were pelted with bottles. He was pushed over and needed eight stitches for a head wound.

Most incidents appeared to be random or opportunistic, said the charity, and a quarter referred to the Nazis or the Holocaust. Others related to the Middle East conflict. In another incident, a builder who learned he was working on a Jewish family's home, told the householder: "Oh, I hate Jews, I'd like to kill the lot of you. If I had been in World War II, I would have gladly put you all in the gas ovens." Among the acts of vandalism, homes or Jewish community property were daubed with swastikas. In Worcester, someone daubed the word "Jew" on a pavement, accompanied by an arrow pointing towards a drain. The CST said that where it had established something of the perpetrator's identity, 47% were white, 29% were Asian, 10% were Arab, 7% were black and 6% were Eastern European. Mark Gardner, of the CST, said: "Anti-Semitism is not the most important thing in British Jewish life, but there is clearly a significant problem. "The CST, police, politicians and Government will keep working in close partnership to tackle anti-Semitism and its wider causes of bigotry and extremism."

The charity said there had been two spikes during the year - the first coming following the controversial Israeli Navy raid of a Gaza aid flotilla. Nine activists who were on board the vessel died in the May 2010 operation. The second "trigger" had been prominent Jewish festivals later in the year, said the charity.
© BBC News



31/1/2011- Two gay couples who have been driven to move home after a string of attacks on their property are to go to court to force the public prosecution department to take action against the perpetrators, the Volkskrant reports on Monday. One couple moved from Utrecht last year and the other couple, who live in a village near Sittard, have put their home up for sale. The couple who have already moved say they made at least eight complaints to police. In the end the couple sold their home for below the market value and say the damage bill comes to over €40,000. The case of the Sittard couple will be heard on Tuesday, the paper says.
© The Dutch News



1/2/2011- A synagogue was set on fire by arsonists in the Tunisian city of Ghabes overnight, a spokesman for the Jewish community said on Tuesday."I condemn this action and I believe those who did it want to create divisions between Jews and Muslims in Tunisia who have lived for decades in peace," Peres Trabelsi told Reuters.Mainly Muslim Tunisia has one of the largest Jewish communities in North Africa, but attacks are rare.Sprodic acts of looting and sabotage have broken out in the country since weeks of protests ousted Zine al-Abdine Ben Ali last month after 23 years of police rule.
© Reuters



Police: Suspect targeted large Arab-American, Muslim population

30/1/2011- A California man is in jail on a terrorism charge after he was arrested in Dearborn for allegedly trying to blow up the biggest mosque in metro Detroit, Dearborn officials said today. The suspect was arrested in the parking lot of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn on Monday, while hundreds were inside the mosque that sits along Ford Road, police said. He came to the city because of its large Arab-American and Muslim population, police said. Roger Stockham, 63, was arraigned Wednesday on one count on a threat of terrorism or false report and one count of explosive-possession of bombs with unlawful intent for possession of Class C fireworks, Dearborn Police said. "He's very dangerous," Dearborn Police Chief Ron Haddad told the Free Press. "We took his threat to be very serious."  Haddad said the man was previously known to law enforcement officials in other parts of the country. "He's had a long history of being angry with the United States government," Haddad said.

Stockham, in jail on a $500,000 bond, drove from California to Dearborn and was caught with a car packed with high-end fireworks. The FBI has been notified about the incident, Haddad said. "He picked Dearborn as a stop because of the huge Arab and Muslim population," Haddad said. Dearborn has the highest concentration of Arab-Americans in the U.S. and has garnered increased attention in recent years as a center of Islam. Haddad said that a witness said that Stockham was planning to blow up the mosque. The suspect "appeared to be acting alone," Haddad said. "His threat has been mitigated." An employee at a local bar called police after overhearing violent threats allegedly made by the man, Islamic Center of America Executive Administrator Kassem Allie said. The employee was afraid that Stockham was going to target Muslims or Arabs in the area, he said. Allie said he wants to thank the person who called police and said if it wasn’t for the call the incident could have ended differently. “We owe a debt of gratitude to him,” he said. “I think that he did a great service for not just us, but for our community.”

A preliminary examination is set for Friday before Judge Mark Somers in 19th District Court in Dearborn, police said. The Islamic Center was holding a funeral at the time the suspect was found in the parking lot, with up to 700 people inside. But the suspect doesn't appear to have known about the funeral, Haddad said. Dearborn Mayor Jack O'Reilly said the suspect "had a lot of high-end fireworks." "It was the max you could buy legally." They were not "conventional explosives," O'Reilly said. "But at that level, those things misused are terrific weapons." Dawud Walid, director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said "we thank law enforcement authorities for their quick and professional actions in this troubling incident."
© The Detroit Free Press



Police calling David Kato's killing a theft gone wrong to avoid contentious questions about the persecution of homosexuals
By Tara Carman

29/1/2011- A Ugandan gay rights activist who was bludgeoned to death with a hammer was posthumously insulted by the pastor presiding over his funeral on Friday, as well as villagers who refused to bury him. After friends read tributes to David Kato, 42, including one from U.S. President Barack Obama, Anglican pastor Thomas Musoke launched into an impassioned anti-homosexual rant. "You must repent. Even the animals know the difference between a male and a female," Musoke reportedly told the 300 mourners. A scuffle ensued when one of the activists, Pepe Onziema, took the microphone away from the pastor, who was subsequently whisked away by police. Adding further insult to multiple injuries, residents of a village near Kato's ancestral home outside the capital of Kampala then refused to bury him, so his friends from the gay and lesbian community carried the coffin to the grave and did it themselves. The incident vividly demonstrates the escalating campaign of violence perpetrated against Uganda's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community by certain churches, media outlets and elements in the government. It has been going on for years.

Kato's murder on Wednesday was almost certainly a hate crime, but Ugandan police, who have one man in custody in connection with the killing and are seeking a second, are calling it a theft gone wrong. They say there is no evidence that Kato's death had anything to do with his being one of the country's few openly gay men. This sounds more like wishful thinking by Ugandan officials than the result of a rational assessment of the facts. Kato, 42, had received numerous death threats after his name and photo appeared in the Rolling Stone tabloid (no relation to the U.S. magazine) in an October article that purported to expose "Uganda's top homos" and called for them to be hanged en masse because "they are after our kids." Kato, along with Onziema and fellow activist Kasha Jacqueline, took the newspaper to court seeking an injunction against any further outing of gays and lesbians in the media. Earlier this month, the judge ruled that the tabloid had violated the appellants' constitutional rights to human dignity and protection from inhuman treatment, as well as their right to privacy. The judge ordered that the three activists be paid $650 each in compensation, in addition to their legal fees.

This did not go over well in Uganda, where there is a strong taboo against non-heterosexual relationships. Homosexuality is illegal and carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison, and the proposed anti-homosexuality bill would increase that sentence to life imprisonment and in some cases, death. Known gays and lesbians are socially ostracized and avoid public places for fear of being picked up by the police or attacked on the street. If they are the victims of violence, they cannot go to police for fear of being arrested as a homosexual. Those in the closet live in constant fear and are sometimes subject to blackmail by suspecting acquaintances. Onziema and Jacqueline are both all too familiar with such treatment. I spoke to them about their experiences when I travelled to Uganda on a reporting fellowship last spring. Both are afraid to show their faces in public and have to be very careful where and how they travel. Onziema has been picked up off the street twice and thrown in jail for being gay, and on one occasion she was sexually assaulted by a guard in front of other prisoners. Jacqueline was harassed and eventually suspended by her university administration over her sexual orientation. She also had a tabloid reporter, posing as a frightened lesbian, write an expose about her entitled "Inside the lesbian's den," after which Jacqueline became alienated from her family. The Rolling Stone article alleged that Jacqueline hosts gay orgies at her "mansion" and that Onziema works in schools to convert children to homosexuality. This, combined with their recent court victory, puts them both in very great danger.

The situation for these activists is made worse still by the dominant narrative surrounding homosexuality, which goes something like this: Homosexuality is not native to Africa, it is a cultural import from the West. Homosexuals hold enormous influence over governments in North America and Europe and have lots of money. They use this money to bribe governments around the world and pay recruiters to convert children. Homosexuality is a form of cultural imperialism that does not respect traditional African values. The widespread belief that all homosexuals are rich could also be a reason Kato was targeted, if the primary motive was indeed theft. This is what most Ugandans believe because other sources of information are not readily available. Hostile elements in that country have succeeded in branding homosexuals the barbarian other, which is perhaps why some person or group of people was able to bring themselves to take a hammer to the skull of David Kato and beat the life out of him. When any group of people is labelled as such in the public consciousness, it is cause for grave concern because it lends official credence to carrying out brutal atrocities against them. Uganda has seen it before, during and after the reign of Idi Amin, just as Europe saw it during the 1930s and the Second World War.

Ugandan officials are eager to distance Kato's murder from the issue of gay rights because of the overwhelming international response to the tabling of the anti-homosexuality bill in parliament in 2009, for which they were completely unprepared. Western governments resoundingly condemned it, with Sweden threatening to cut off aid over the issue. The bill has been languishing in a parliamentary committee for months as the government mulls over how to placate the international community without appearing to sell out to Ugandans, who strongly support the legislation. Much easier to label Kato's death a theft gone wrong and sweep it under the carpet as quickly as possible. When I was in the country last year, I was told that it didn't matter whether or not the bill passed because people would take the law into their own hands. Now it has happened. Whether the weapon of choice is a rope or a hammer, the end result is still the same. If there is any silver lining to Kato's terrible death, it's that it could help the case of Brenda Namigadde, a Ugandan lesbian who fled her country for the U.K. and is now awaiting deportation back to Uganda. She was detained in the U.K. before Kato's killing. Perhaps now her claims that her life will be in danger if she goes home will hold some water with British officials, who dispute the fact that she is a lesbian. She could be deported as soon as today. There is not a lot that countries like Britain and Canada can do about human rights violations within the jurisdiction of other sovereign states, but they do have the power to open their borders to refugees. And in the case of Ugandan homosexuals, there is absolutely no excuse not to.
© The Vancouver Sun


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