ICARE Hate Crime News - Archive May 2011

Headlines 27 May, 2011

Headlines 20 May, 2011

Headlines 13 May, 2011

Headlines 6 May, 2011

Headlines 27 May, 2011

RI HOUSE PASSES GENDER IDENTITY HATE CRIME BILL (usa)

26/5/2011- Crimes prompted by the victim's gender identity would be considered hate crimes in Rhode Island under legislation that has passed the state House of Representatives. House lawmakers endorsed the legislation Wednesday. The Senate is considering a similar bill. Current state law defines hate crimes as any crime motivated by prejudice involving race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, homelessness or disability. The bill would add gender identity and gender expression to the list. It also would require the state police to compile statistics on assaults, murders and other crimes motivated by gender identity prejudice. The bill would not increase the penalties for such crimes.
© The Associated Press

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HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST CONDEMNS RACIST ATTACK ON RUSSIAN JOURNALIST

27/5/2011- Human Rights First calls on the Russian authorities to investigate the assault on the Kommersant journalist Elman Soltakhanov, who was attacked by a gang of 15 to 20 neo-Nazi youths in a park in north-east Moscow on May 25, 2011. The Moscow-based SOVA Center for Information and Analysis reported that the perpetrators wore masks and shouted racist slogans while kicking him in the head, neck, and spine after knocking him to the ground. “The assault reveals the breadth of the problems faced by journalists who work in Russia. Unlike his well-known Kommersant colleague Oleg Kashin—who was nearly killed for investigative reporting last November—Mr. Soltakhanov became a victim of violence not because of his work, but simply due to his ethnicity,” said Human Rights First’s Paul LeGendre. “The police must be vigilant in identifying the perpetrators of racist violence.”

In addition to being the targets of contract-style killings and attacks, several Russian journalists had been attacked by affiliates of ultranationalist groups and movements. Aidar Buribayev, an ethnic Kazakh and a reporter for Newsweek, was attacked on a subway train in 2007 by four youths who questioned his presence in Russia. In January 2009, Anastasia Baburova, a reporter for Novaya Gazeta, was gunned down in downtown Moscow alongside the lawyer Stanislav Markelov; their murderers had deep ties to the neo-Nazi movement and were convicted and sentenced to long prison terms earlier this month. “Despite some improvements in state response to racist and bias-motivated violence in Russia and the recent sentencing of several high-profile violent nationalists, hate crimes remain a significant problem. Political leaders need to speak out against such attacks, sending signals that they won’t be tolerated. The government must also take steps to improve hate crime legislation, separating violent and nonviolent offenses; to train police and prosecutors who deal with such incidents; and to reach out and work with communities affected by racist and bias-motivated violence,” added LeGendre.
© Human Rights First

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FAR-RIGHT ATTACKS ESCALATE AFTER BNP ELECTION DEFEATS (uk)

Glass and rocks hurled at anti-racism meeting in east London

27/5/2011- Far-right activists have attacked trade union meetings and anti-racist groups in the past month in what campaigners and politicians say is an escalating campaign of intimidation and violence. In the latest incident, a 20-strong group hurled concrete pillars, glass and rocks at a meeting on multiculturalism organised by Labour councillors in Barking, east London. "It was terrifying," said Beverley, 48, an NHS worker who was hit by a rock, leaving her hand so badly damaged that she needed surgery and was on a drip in hospital for three days. "These people seem to think they can bully and intimidate people into staying away." The attack last Thursday followed incidents in Liverpool, Brighton and east London involving people who claim to be supporters of the English Defence League (EDL), a far-right street movement. A spokesman for the group said the EDL was unaware of any of the incidents, adding that it did not condone violence.

The attacks follow disastrous election performances by the British National party, leading analysts to warn that some of its supporters may be turning their backs on electoral politics to focus on more violent street confrontations. "The threat is that as far-right activists decide the electoral path is no longer possible ... we will see more aggressive street-based groups linking up and a rise in racially and politically motivated violence," said Nick Lowles from Searchlight. Anti-racist campaigners said the attack in Barking appeared to be well organised and targeted. The group "appeared out of nowhere" as people were gathering in the foyer and had lookouts stationed outside as the assault continued. "All of a sudden about 20 men and one woman came running across the car park screaming E-E-EDL," said Beverley, who did not want to give her second name in case of reprisals. "We rushed to lock the glass door ... but they didn't break stride, they just ran at it and smashed into it. They were head-butting it, kicking it, throwing things at it."

The reinforced glass came away in chunks, which were hurled at the unionists and anti-racist campaigners trapped in the foyer. Beverley said: "They were crazed on the other side of this glass wall ... They started ripping pieces of glass off and frisbeeing them at us through the holes and then they started hurling rocks at us." George Barratt, a Labour councillor for Barking's Mayesbrook ward, who was due to speak at the meeting on multiculturalism and racism, said: "It is extremely disturbing. We don't want these thugs here and we won't tolerate them attacking our meetings." In the run-up to the local elections Hope not Hate campaigners, who were on their way to deliver anti BNP leaflets in Essex, were confronted by around 40 or 50 far-right activists who refused to let them off the train at Grays in east London. This month a radical bookshop in Liverpool was targeted by around 15 men claiming to be EDL supporters and last month in Brighton a meeting on multiculturalism was attacked by a group of 30 or 40. Weyman Bennett, from Unite Against Fascism, said: "These attacks are escalating in their frequency and in the level of violence. They are now targeting trade unionists and elected councillors as well as anti-racists - it is classic fascist tactics and cannot be ignored."
© The Guardian

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HATE-CRIME LAWS READY FOR SEASON'S BIG KICK-OFF (uk)

26/5/2011- New hardline laws aimed at cracking down on sectarian hate crime in football will be in place by the start of the new season, it was confirmed last night.
The Scottish Government has promised that no fan will be left with a "scintilla of doubt" about what is unacceptable behaviour - including online abuse. Prison sentences of up to five years will be handed out as part of the new Offensive Behaviour in Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill. Currently people who cause disruption at matches can be charged with breach of the peace, with a maximum one-year sentence. "There's a mood and a desire and an ambition to say this must end, and this bill is one part of that," a spokesman for the First Minister said last night. "By the beginning of the next football season everybody will know the score. "There will be no shadow or scintilla or doubt as to what is and what isn't acceptable."

The bill was approved at the first meeting of Alex Salmond's new Cabinet last night after being presented by Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland. It is targeting sectarian behaviour after tensions between Rangers and Celtic fans flared last season. Two men have appeared in court after suspected bombs were sent to Celtic manager Neil Lennon and two other high-profile supporters of the club in March. As well as targeting fans in the ground, the new measures will also affect fans watching games on big screens in pubs or outdoors. Online hate messages will also be targeted after a torrent of abuse about Lennon was posted across social network sites in the aftermath of the alleged parcel bomb incidents. Talks will now be held with other parties to secure the quick passage of the bill through parliament before the summer recess and ahead of the new season which kicks off on 23 July. Labour justice spokeswoman Johann Lamont said the party will "work closely" with the government to help ensure it is in place "as quickly as possible." She said: "In 21st century Scotland, there is no place for sectarianism."
© The Scotsman

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HATE CRIME INCIDENTS REPORTED AT GAY PUB (uk)

24/5/2011- The manager of a gay pub has hit out at thugs who have targeted his pub and customers with homophobic abuse. Adam Lazenby, 21, who runs the Cliff, in Hamlet Road, Southend, said his pub and its clientele have been pelted with eggs and subjected to verbal abuse for the past two months. Police are now investigating the incidents, which are being treated as hate crimes, and Mr Lazenby has decided to speak out against those responsible. He said: “There’s always been a low level of problems, but it’s been increasing recently and has been getting worse. “I think it’s happening because the pub is a lot busier now and people often use the outside area. Cars are coming past and people are throwing eggs at my customers and the pub, and shouting abuse. “The police are taking this very seriously and it’s a crime. It’s not just throwing an egg at someone – it’s a hate crime.” Mr Lazenby returned as general manager of the Cliff last October, having previously helped run it several years ago. He said: “This kind of homophobic abuse is pathetic and has no place in Southend.” The attacks against the Cliff and its customers are being investigated by PC Emma Makey, hate crime liaison officer at Southend police. She said: “Southend police have been working closely with the managers of the Cliff public house. “The managers have made reports of verbal abuse and eggs being thrown at customers and the building, by persons passing by the premises. These incidents are unacceptable. “Any incidents of this or a similar nature, which customers or staff perceive as having a homophobic motivation, are dealt with as hate incidents or crimes.”
© The Essex Echo

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MONTENEGRO GAY CONCERT TEAR-GASSED BY HOOLIGANS

Anti-gay hooligans tear-gassed an International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia concert in Montenegro's capital, Podgorica, on 17 May.

23/5/2011- Anti-gay hooligans tear-gassed an International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia concert in Montenegro's capital, Podgorica, on 17 May. The report by the European Parliament's Intergroup on LGBT Rights said about half the audience dispersed and some people sought medical attention. In response, pride organizers canceled the 31 May Pride parade, which was to have been the nation's first. "Today we saw firsthand the total lack of political will from national authorities to protect LGBT people and their supporters," said MEP Ulrike Lunacek, co-president of the Intergroup. "As Montenegro further progresses as a candidate to join the European Union, all its citizens must be protected and respected by authorities." The vice-chair of the European Parliament's Delegation to South East Europe, Jelko Kacin, added: "It is deeply regrettable that the first gay pride parade in the country should be canceled due to authorities' failure to unequivocally support the parade. ... Today, Montenegro failed to demonstrate that it wants to progress towards EU accession equally fast in all areas. Respect, protection and promotion of minority rights are a quintessential part of our common European values."
© Pink News

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BULGARIA: ATTACK ON MUSLIMS 'NOT MERE HOOLIGANISM'

The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee has criticised the decision of the Prosecutor to press hooliganism charges against supporters of the nationalist Ataka party accused of assaulting Muslims in Sofia.

24/5/2011- "This is an inadequate decision. Friday's violence was not just a disruption of public order...it was a crime against citizens' rights. The victims of this racist crime are (Bulgarian) citizens and the state owns them justice," the committee declared Monday. On Friday far-right extremists from the Ataka party allegedly attacked praying Muslims in front of a mosque in downtown Sofia. The outburst occurred while the nationalists, led by their leader Volen Siderov, staged a rally near the Banya Bashi mosque in downtown Sofia to protest against the use of loudspeakers by the mosque. A number of people were injured, including police officers, and several Ataka supporters were detained by the police. On Monday, the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee welcomed the intention expressed by Sofia's Chief Prosecutor to seek a ban of the Ataka group and press charges against Ataka supporters for preaching racial hatred. "We cannot imagine how the Prosecutor's Office could fail to gather evidence, having in mind the number of hateful statements by Ataka's leader and his associates," the committee said.

Sofia City Prosecutor Nikolay Kokinov said in an interview for Bulgarian National Television, BNT, on Monday that if enough evidence is collected to prove that the perpetrators provoked ethnic and religious hate, the Prosecutor's Office could press charges and even ban the Ataka party. Kokinov further informed he had ordered the District Prosecutor, Alexander Nalbantov, to present to him by Wednesday all materials collected in connection with the incident at the Sofia Banya bashi mosque and the brawl during a live radio show, involving Ataka leader Volen Siderov. Also on Monday, Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan harshly criticised the attack on Muslims during their prayer in Sofia last Friday. "I address my words to our brothers and relatives in Bulgaria. I condemn decisively the assault and the burning of prayer rugs in Sofia during the traditional Friday prayer," Erdogan declared during a pre-election gathering in Bursa, a city populated with many ethnic Turks from Bulgaria, the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency reported Monday. He commended the Bulgarian authorities for their reactions to the attack. "The statements made by the Bulgarian authorities calmed us down a little bit, for which I thank them. I would one again point out that European states should cooperate in taking measures against such escalations of tension," the Turkish PM said.
© Novinite

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FAR-RIGHT LEADER, MUSLIM COME TO BLOWS ON BULGARIAN RADIO

22/5/2011- Bulgaria: Far-right leader and a Muslim lawmaker came to blows live on Bulgarian radio on Sunday as tempers frayed during a debate about an attack against a Sofia mosque earlier this week. The presenter of a political talk show on national radio, Velichko Konakchiev, was forced to interrupt the show and apologise to listeners when the head of the ultra-nationalist Ataka party, Volen Siderov, physically attacked fellow guest Korman Ismailov, a Muslim member of parliament. "Never before have I had to separate people fighting in my studio. I've never seen anything like it," the veteran talk show host Konakchiev said at the end of the show. Konakchiev said Siderov started the fight after he was asked to tone down his language during a debate on an incident in Sofia on Friday where Ataka supporters had clashed with worshippers outside a mosque. Siderov repeatedly called the worshippers "Islamists" and "extremists". The programme resumed after an initial interruption of several minutes. But when Siderov lost his temper again, Konakchiev asked the far-right leader to leave and ended the show prematurely. In a statement, the head of national radio, Valery Todorov, condemned the incident. "It is inadmissible to use national radio to propagate ethnic, religious or national hatred," Todorov said. A Muslim, an Ataka lawmaker and five policemen were injured in the skirmishes between worshippers and far-right demonstrators on Friday in an incident that has drawn condemnation both at home and in neighbouring Turkey. Two Ataka supporters have been charged with hooliganism in relation to the incident, prosecutors said.
© AFP

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OUR VIEW: HOOLIGANISM A PLAGUE WE HAVE TOLERATED FOR FAR TOO LONG (Cyprus)

22/5/2011- This week again saw sickening scenes of violence on the streets of Nicosia, leaving five people seriously injured and property wrecked, as masked gangs ran amok, wielding clubs and other crude weapons, hurling Molotov cocktails, while their victims barricaded themselves indoors in a bid to escape the frenzy. We could have spoken of football hooligans on the rampage, ‘celebrating’ the victory of their team Omonia in the cup final, by heading down to Apoel haunts, itching to pick a fight with their right-wing city rivals, plastering the city with graffiti, and trashing cars and property in their wake. We could have spoken of heightened political tensions on the eve of parliamentary elections, or the attempt by Omonia fans to torch the offices of nationalist ELAM, or, like the government spokesman, have commented on claims that rival fans from Apollon Limassol had brandished swastika banners on the stands.

But for too long, a focus on this context has hidden what this really is – criminal violence. Criminal violence that football clubs, politicians and society at large have tolerated by setting it in the context of politicised hooliganism, softly decrying unfortunate acts of provoked violence justified by the decisions of allegedly biased referees; the supposedly provocative behaviour of police; the ‘they-started-first’ hooliganism of rivals; the communist/fascist labels to decry the other, to the pathetic Che Guevara vs. Greek flag pop imagery encouraged from terraces to party rallies. What happened on Wednesday night, like on many other nights before, is nothing more than criminal violence. Had a gang of complete strangers shown up outside a suburban home in Nicosia, smashed up the family car, broken the windows and thrown fire bombs through the shattered glass, doing their utmost to bludgeon the occupants to death with clubs and spades, there would have been outcry. Police would have combed the island to arrest the perpetrators to put such psychopaths behind bars.

Enough! The eve of an election would have been the perfect opportunity for politicians of all stripes to disown such criminals and condemn them for what they are. Sports clubs and political parties have a duty to stand together, across the intense rivalries and the ideological divide, to strip these criminals of the implicit support that they enjoy. To say loud and clear that these thugs are neither fans, nor even hooligans (a badge of pride), and certainly not patriots or comrades, but nothing more than despicable criminals, guilty of criminal damage, grievous bodily harm and attempted murder. We have reached a situation where almost every single sporting event on the island is now an excuse for violence. Where the police barely dare to take precautions for fear that the very sight of a riot shield might be deemed provocative. How can it be that barely a handful of people are arrested when hundreds run riot with impunity? That the rare sentences that occur – mostly suspended – hardly ever match the crime?

And let’s not kid ourselves. This is not a phenomenon contained within the stands of the football stadium or the basketball arena. This is turning into ingrained aggression that plays out in the so-called street politics of far right and left, in anti-immigrant violence, in secondary schools, and ultimately in our social relationships. Every society is blighted by varying levels of anti-social behaviour and at the far end of the scale degenerating into criminality. Functioning societies isolate and shame these forms of behaviour. But what the tribal politicisation of every aspect of social mobilisation in Cyprus – from coffee shop to football club – has done, is to give legitimate outlet to criminal violence. Within that context, the violence of the other is never condemned as mindless violence. It is condemned as violence against us and our most fundamental beliefs, legitimising counter-violence presented as collective self-defence, regrettable but never condemned to the same degree as the violence of the other.

Is this the society that we want? Where we barely dare to go into town on match days, where we accept that our cars might be smashed up if they are parked in the wrong place, where our cities are defaced with football/political graffiti? Where tomorrow, someone will be killed, his skull smashed by a club or burned to death inside a torched building? Is this really something we are happy to accept as normal? As a society, led by our politicians, we have to draw the line, we have to declare our refusal of the anarchy that we are limply allowing to take hold, we have to back our police in using force proportionate to the very real threat they face, we have to strip these crimes of their tribal legitimacy and demand sentences that match the brutal reality of their impact.

If that means riot cordons around stadiums, robust policing in sensitive parts of town, increased surveillance, and dozens of suspects – not one or two – packed into the back of police vans and crammed into overnight cells, then so be it. This is a plague that we have tolerated, even encouraged, for far too long. It has no place in civilised society. We must speak out, condemn without reserve, and demand the strongest measures to eradicate the violence on our streets.
© The Cyprus Mail

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BRIEF EUROPE ISLAMOPHOBIA

26/5/2011- Arson attack on Athens mosque
Arsonists set fire to a mosque in Kallithea, Athens, on May 8, causing damage. The arsonists broke a window and threw incendiaries inside. Nazi swastika was painted on the flat’s windows. Mosques are often targeted in racist attacks in Greece.

French blogger who burned and urinated on Qur’an acquitted
A French court on May 9, acquitted a blogger Ernesto Rojas Abbate, 30, of a charge of provoking discrimination related to burning and urinating on a copy of the Qur’an in an internet broadcast. The Strasbourg court found that Abbate had been acting within the boundaries of freedom of expression when he used the Qur’an as a prop in a simulation of the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks on New York. On Oct 2, Abbate made a paper aircraft with pages from the Qur’an and launched it at two glasses representing the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre. He then burnt the aircraft and the book and urinated on them, to “quench the flames”. The Mosque of Strasbourg and a local anti- racism organisation had pressed charges against Abbate. But the court ruled the video was aimed at terrorist acts and not the wider Muslim community, which “could not be assimilated with the terrorist acts.” The man denied he is an Islamophobe and told the court he had only been having some fun. He said he had been responding to a dare following the burning by US Pastor Terry Jones of a copy of the Qur’an.

French MEP stripped of immunity
The EU Parliament stripped parliamentary immunity from French far-right MEP Bruno Gollnisch on May 10, to enable a complaint of “incitement to racial hatred” to be investigated. Gollnisch will now be interview by French authorities following a complaint over an October 2008 press release in which Gollnisch cited “the invasion of our land and the destruction of our culture and values” by Islam. The International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism launched the complaint, and the EU Parliament decided that, as the case related to Gollnisch’s activities as a regional councillor, “applying parliamentary immunity to such a situation ‘would constitute an undue extension of those rules,’” a statement said. Lawmakers voted 511 in favour, 56 against and 65 abstentions. Gollnisch had his immunity lifted in 2005 and was given a three-month suspended jail term and a € 5,000 fine in 2005, although an appeal court threw that out in 2009.

High court overturns Lars Hedegaard acquittal
Denmark’s Eastern High Court fined Lars Hedegaard, President of the Free Press Society, 5,000 kroner on May 3 for making racially offensive comments in December 2009. “Girls in Muslim families are raped by their uncles, their cousins, or their fathers,” and “When a Muslim man rapes a woman, it is in his right to do so,” were among the comments Hedegaard made during a 35-minute interview at a Christmas party with the author of the blog snaphanen.dk, who subsequently published the comments on the blog. The decision overturns a decision in January by the Frederiksberg District Court, which stated that it found Hedegaard did not know that his comments would be made public.

Sweden to consider Muslim holiday
Sweden’s Social Democrats argued for a review of public holidays on May 2, arguing that the Muslim community should also be recognised. It is probable that any decision to introduce a Muslim holiday would mean the replacement of an existing public holiday. Social Democrat party Secretary, Carin Jämtin, said that the party does not believe that it is possible to add to the current number of public holidays, but was unwilling to speculate on possible alternatives. Jämtin was however prepared to offer a suggestion on which day could serve as a Muslim holiday: “One could consider whether Eid, the Muslim Christmas Eve, could be a public holiday.” The Swedish Humanist Association described the idea as “absurd”. “Most people in Sweden are secularised. For example they don’t celebrate Christmas for Christian, religious reasons. It is simply an occasion to meet, eat good food and socialize. The same is the case for Muslims,” said the Association’s Chairperson, Christer Sturmark.
© The Muslim News

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Headlines 20 May, 2011

ETHNIC TURKISH PARTY: STATE MUST BE FIRM AGAINST FAR RIGHT NATIONALISTS (Bulgaria)

20/5/2011- The nationalist party Ataka is staging a provocation and aggression against the most humane right – the right of wîrship, the ethnic Turkish party DPS declared in a statement. The Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) denounced Friday's incident in which members of the nationalist party Ataka assaulted praying Muslims in the Banya Bashi mosque in downtown Sofia. DPS has described Ataka as "an anti-European, extreme-nationalist party." The brawl that the nationalists and their leader Volen Siderov started as part of a protest against the mosque's loudspeakers has led to an unprecedented for Bulgaria interruption of the Muslims' Friday's prayer. Five police officers were wounded in the ensuing fight. "In the downtown of the capital of a European Bulgaria, led by Members of Parliament from the same party, extreme elements from Ataka assaulted the religious temple of the Muslims and used violence against peaceful citizens. We insisted that all political forces defined as democracy declare themselves against this brutal provocation. We insist that the state authorities take immediately the necessary measures for preserving the civilian peace, and to hold accountable both the perpetrators and the instigators of this act," the statement of the ethnic Turkish party reads. This is the only way to prevent a further escalation of tensions and to stop Ataka from using religious and ethnic intolerance as means of conducting policies, DPS believes. "We hope that the law enforcement institutions will be sufficiently uncompromising and will be influenced by the fact that Ataka is part of the ruling majority, and that the executive won't tolerate such actions although they are committed by its coalition partner," the party says referring to the fact that Siderov's Ataka has been an informal supporter of the ruling center-right party GERB.
© Novinite

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ERRC RESEARCH OFFICER STANISLAV DANIEL ON STATE RESPONSE TO VIOLENCE AGAINST ROMA

19/5/2011- Since 2008, we in the European Roma Rights Centre have received reports about a shocking number of attacks against Roma. Nine Romani adults and two Romani children died in these attacks as a result of shooting and Molotov cocktails. Many other Romani individuals and families were attacked, even in the safety of their own homes. Many issues are unclear when it comes to data about anti-Roma violence, because governments do not collect data and because Roma often do not report attacks against them. The European Roma Rights Centre recently published a report highlighting the state response to 44 selected cases of anti-Roma violence in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia. The findings are alarming: Courts convicted perpetrators in only 20% of the cases, while police suspended investigations without identifying suspects in 27% of the cases. Courts confirmed racial motivation in only 3 of the 44 cases. How do we motivate Roma to report their cases when they still meet their attackers in the streets? Add to that the atmosphere created by anti-Roma demonstrations and marches of neo-Nazi and paramilitary groups ongoing around Europe. Violence and hate speech against Roma have become tolerated in Europe and extremists are ruling the streets. Let’s act now before they rule the governments. We will continue to hold governments accountable by publicizing information on the state response to anti-Roma violence while all Europeans can stand side by side with their Romani neighbors against extremist demonstrations and marches.

© The European Roma Rights Centre

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MONTENEGRO GAY PRIDE PARADE CANCELLED AFTER ATTACKS

Following two attacks directed at gay people on Monday night in Podgorica, the organisers of Montenegro's first gay pride parade say the event has been cancelled.

17/5/2011- Zdravko Cimbaljevic, director of the LGBT Forum Progress, Montenegro's first gay and lesbian NGO and the organiser of the parade, told Balkan Insight that the first attack occurred during a concert of the Croatian group Lollobrigida in downtown Podgorica, when tear gas was thrown into the crowd. The concert was organised by the NGO to mark the World Day Against Homophobia. The second attack came after the concert, when a group of young men physically attacked two members of the LGBT Forum Progres. "Fortunately, they were not seriously injured and the reason for the attack is that someone probably did not like how they were dressed, or something like that. They said that they were still considering whether or not to file criminal charges against the attackers,“ Cimbaljevic said Balkan Insight. He maintained, however, that the decision to cancel the pride parade had been prompted by a lack of state support to this population. He said the event would not be rescheduled until the population received the support of the minister for minority and human rights, and "until the prime minister or his deputy publicly support the parade by taking part in it".

While Prime Minister Igor Luksic has pledged his support for the parade, saying that Montenegro had to show it was a society that was ready to accept differences, the country's minister for minority and human rights has not welcomed the idea of a parade. Minister Ferhat Dinosa was infamously quoted as saying that if it is true that there are gays in the country, “then it is not good for Montenegro”. The planned pride parade in this small Balkan country, which has been seen as especially unfriendly towards gays and lesbians, had literally split the Montenegro public in half. While the ruling party and civil society groups see the march as a key test of the country’s political maturity, Church leaders, pro-Serbian oppostion parties – and most of the public – see it as an insult. Some groups used Facebook as a open call for violence against this population. Recent surveys show that over 70 per cent of Montenegrins still consider homosexuality an illness and 80 per cent believe it should be kept private.
© Balkan Insight

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CHURCHES SPEAK OUT AGAINST ANTI-GAY VIOLENCE (Netherlands)

Dutch churches have today signed a statement condemning violence against homosexuals. The ceremony took place in the Dom Church in Utrecht and marked International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (17 May).

17/5/2011- The theme of this year’s International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia is religion. Wielie Elhorst, from the LKP umbrella organisation for Dutch gay Christian groups, says he thinks religion influences mental and physical violence against homosexuals the world over. “For instance, a priest fled to London from Latvia because he was openly gay. The threats were so bad that he couldn’t deal with the situation anymore. Another example comes from Belgrade, where there’s a priest blessing people who beat up gays.”

God’s image
The Dutch churches’ statement reads:
“Although we are not in complete agreement about homosexuality, we are one in the belief that man is created in God’s image and is valuable in His eyes. That is why people should treat each other with dignity – be respectful, peaceful and loving – and why violence against homosexuals, in any form whatsoever, is evil.”
The Netherlands has long had a leading role in the fight for gay rights. But, in Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant, two politicians argue that this is no longer the case. “The European parliament supports the protection of homosexuals and transgenders who flee to Europe because of violence or persecution. However, the member states can decide for themselves whether or not to acknowledge homosexuality and transgenderism as grounds for asylum. A number of states (including the Netherlands) say that homosexuals in Iran are not in danger as long as they keep their sexuality hidden.”

World
International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia is also in the spotlight outside Europe. Countries differ radically when it comes to the emancipation of homosexuals: While people in the United States celebrate being gay at 'pink parties', people in Uganda are relieved to hear that a parliamentary vote on the introduction of a death penalty for being homosexual has - for the time being - been cancelled.
© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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SCOTLAND: HATE CRIME FIGURES RISE TO HIGHEST IN FIVE YEARS (uk)

Religious and racist bigots will face zero intolerance, warn country's first minister and solicitor general

218/5/2011- One of Scotland's most senior prosecutors has said there will be "zero tolerance" of religious and racist bigots after the latest hate crime figures showed a 10% increase in charges for sectarianism.  Frank Mulholland QC, the solicitor general, said religious bigotry was being tackled by an "extremely robust" prosecution policy after the number of cases reported to prosecutors increased to nearly 700 last year, the highest level in five years. The latest statistics, which also showed that charges of racism reported to prosecutors fell by 3.6% to 4,165, follows the dramatic escalation in sectarian attacks and disputes in recent months centred on Glasgow's Celtic and Rangers football clubs. Two men were arrested last week for explosives offences after allegedly being involved in a parcel bombing campaign against Celtic manager Neil Lennon and other prominent Catholics, including Lennon's lawyer, and an Irish republican group. Rangers and Celtic fans are being prosecuted for alleged bigotry and racist offences on the internet and at football matches. Earlier this week it emerged that the former Rangers' director and prominent lawyer Donald Findlay QC was sent a knife in the post.

Alex Salmond, speaking in the Scottish parliament as he was confirmed as first minister of Scotland, said the country should be proud of its reputation for hospitality and religious and racial tolerance, not for bigotry. Clearly shaken by the damage caused to his party's message that Scotland is inclusive and multi-ethnic, he told the parliament that being Scottish included those Catholics who fled famines in Ireland. "Modern Scotland is also built on equality. We will not tolerate sectarianism as a parasite in our national game of football or anywhere else in this society," he said. Salmond's government has been accused of neglecting anti-sectarianism. Until a series of violent on- and off-the-field disputes involving Celtic and Rangers earlier this year, anti-bigotry charities faced closure due to funding cuts. The first minister has since promised a renewed crackdown on sectarianism, including tougher legal sanctions and policing of online bigotry.

The last five years of figures show no decline in sectarianism offences; the highest annual number of prosecutions hit 704 in 2005/06, dropping slightly to 699 in 2006/07. The figures also included the first full year for reporting of a new offence of homophobic and anti-disabled bigotry: there were 448 charges reported aggravated by sexual orientation, 50 charges aggravated by attacks on a person's disability, and 14 with an aggravation of transgender identity. Mulholland said that last year 94% of sectarian offences detected by police were prosecuted. "I hope this sends a strong message to anybody who still feels that such behaviour is acceptable – there is no place for them in a modern Scotland," he said. "They can expect to be met with a zero-tolerance prosecution policy." The Crown Office, Scotland's prosecution agency, is carrying out a study into the religious content of bigotry offences after the Catholic church insisted that Catholics were bearing the brunt of sectarianism in Scotland.

The last study, in 2006, found two-thirds of reported offences were anti-Catholic in nature and a third were football related. The church said those findings showed that, based on overall population, Catholics were six times more likely than Protestants to be a victim of bigotry. That figure is contested by Professor Steve Bruce, an expert on loyalism and sectarianism at Aberdeen University. He argues the figures are much less clear since there was no evidence about the identity of the victims, and many offences took place in areas with large Catholic populations.
© The Guardian

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LIVERPOOL PRIDE 2011 ANNOUNCES SUMMER OF LOVE THEME (uk)

17/5/2011- In celebration of the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) Liverpool Pride has announced the theme for this year’s festival will be Summer of Love. As The Beatles famously sang ‘All You Need Is Love’ and Liverpool Pride will be showcasing this when the Summer of Love themed festival bursts into life in the city centre on Saturday 6th August bringing with it a Free fun filled day for all the family. Liverpool’s Lord Mayor, Councillor Hazel Williams, said: “IDAHO is an important day in the city’s calendar and I’m delighted to say the Town Hall will be flying the rainbow flag with pride. "Following the horrendous attacks on members of the gay community, this day is a chance for us to reinforce the message that homophobia is unacceptable. As a city council, we will do everything we can to promote diversity in this great city. “I’m delighted that this year’s theme is ‘Summer of Love’ and I hope it will bring everyone together in the spirit of unity and togetherness. IDAHO will be a fantastic pre-cursor to the much-anticipated return of Liverpool Pride in August – our major celebration of the city’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.”

Following a vote on liverpoolpride.co.uk and around the gay scene, Summer of Love was an overwhelming winner with 46% leaving the other themes All At Sea, Film Noir and Hollywood Glamour far behind. Tommy McIlravey, Chair of Liverpool Pride said: “We knew last year’s Rainbow Circus would be hard to beat, so many people did us proud to make the day one of the most colourful in the city’s history. "The local LGBT community have voted in their droves to give us another cracker for 2011. The Summer of Love will see an ocean of hippies, fluoros and flower children flood into Liverpool ready to paint the town pink on 6th August.” The announcement comes just days after news broke of the beating of two of Liverpool’s best loved Drag Queens Lady Sian and Calvin Fox.

Commenting on the recent attacks, Tommy continued: “I can’t believe what has happened to our Lady Sian, she’s a friend and neighbour and was an absolute star at Liverpool Pride 2010. I know she’ll be back on her feet in August with bigger hair and a bigger smile than anyone else! Thousands of people came out to show their support for us last year and it’s good to be reminded that for every bigot who attacks one of us there are a thousand more good people who will stand up and be counted.” Liverpool Pride recently received a message of support from Anton Hysen, the World’s only ‘out’ professional footballer, who came out in interview with Offside Magazine this March. The son of former Liverpool FC player Glenn Hysen, 20 year old Anton was born in Liverpool and still feels a close bond with the city.

Anton said: ”Being born in Liverpool, I’ve always felt a strong connection to the city and it’s great to hear how much it does for its gay community. I was shocked to hear of the recent attacks and about what happened to Michael Causer. "I think it’s disgraceful that attacks like this still happen across the world. We need to learn from each other and also to teach younger people how to treat each other with mutual respect despite different backgrounds, colour, sexual orientation & religion. I’m very proud to be from Liverpool and I wish everyone a safe & happy Pride.”

Before 2010, Liverpool was the largest city in the country that didn’t have its own official pride festival. Liverpool Pride came about following the launch of the LGB&T Network in 2009, at which the public voted for a pride festival to engage, empower and involve the LGB&T communities within the city. This was fully endorsed by Liverpool City Council and the first official Liverpool Pride Festival saw over 21,000 people take to the streets of Liverpool in celebration of all things LGBT. It is hoped that Liverpool Pride 2011 will build on this success and will celebrate the diverse community of one of Europe’s leading cultural cities once more.

Make sure you check out liverpoolpride.co.uk to have your say and for all of the latest pride news.
© Click Liverpool

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EUROPE IS DIVIDED AND FAR FROM FULL LEGAL EQUALITY FOR LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL AND TRANS PEOPLE (press release ILGA)

Tomorrow, on 17 May, the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia is being marked. Every year on this day ILGA-Europe looks at progress made by European countries towards respecting human rights and ensuring full legal equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people (LGBT) by publishing Rainbow Europe Map and Index.

16/5/2011- The main trends observed this year are that:
+ None of the countries in Europe can claim to provide for full legal equality for LGBT people. Every country in Europe still has work to do to achieve LGBT equality – even those which scored the highest on the Index (the United Kingdom (12,5 points) or Sweden and Spain (12 points))
+ 14 countries (including 1 EU Member State) are in the ‘red zone’: gross violations of human rights and discrimination are taking place
+ There are significant variations between countries in Europe: while some have progressed in the past year (e.g. Germany, Portugal), many others are not advancing towards greater recognition of rights (e.g. Cyprus, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Turkey, Ukraine), while in others (e.g. Lithuania, Hungary) we observe the risks of regress 
+  Many EU Member States are either around or below average when it comes to respecting human rights and ensuring legal equality of LGBT people. This is particularly worrying considering that the overall European average is very poor.

ILGA-Europe’s Rainbow Europe Map and Index rates each European country’s laws and administrative practices according to 24 categories and ranks them on a scale between 17 (highest score: respect of human rights and full legal equality of LGBT people) and -7 (lowest score: gross violations of human rights and discrimination of LGBT people). This is the first time the Map and the Index reflect categories on issues affecting trans people. The categories look at the inclusion of the grounds of *sexual orientation and gender identity in anti-discrimination and anti-hatred/violence laws
*existence of legal/administrative procedure for legal gender recognition for trans people
*legal recognition of same-sex couples and parenting rights
*respect of freedom of assembly and association of LGBT people
*equality of age of consent for same-sex sexual acts
*discriminatory requirements to legal gender recognition of trans people.

Linda Freimane, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board, said:
“The Rainbow Europe Map and Index is a great tool to see how European countries are doing when it comes to recognising the human rights of LGBT people. In this context, it is very disappointing to see so many countries remain in the ‘red zone’ of violations and discrimination, and that not a single country in Europe can claim full legal equality for LGBT people. Europe considers itself a global leader on human rights and equality, but the Map and the Index clearly show how far we are from being able to claim the title of LGBT human rights and equality champions.”

Martin K.I. Christensen, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board, added:
“We hope that European institutions and European countries will make a good use of the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia and our latest Rainbow Europe Map and Index to reassess progress, acknowledge the whole range of unresolved problems and affirm their commitments to fight discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. There is a significant number of international and European agreements such as the Council of Europe’s recommendation on tackling sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination and all European country can do more to reach at least the level of European standards.”
© ILGA Europe

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THREE HELD AFTER POLES THREATENED BY KNIFEMAN (Northern Ireland)

16/5/2011- A man carrying a knife has threatened Polish residents of a Co Antrim housing estate in a racist attack. The windows of a house were smashed shortly before 3.30am yesterday. A man then entered the house in the Carnany Park area of Ballymoney and assaulted one of the residents and threatened others who were present with a knife. It is believed he also went into another house armed with the knife and threatened those he found in the property. He then returned to the original house and damaged a fence outside. When police arrived at the scene they were obstructed by a number of people. The PSNI later described the incident as a “hate crime”. A 19-year-old man was later arrested in the area for assault, possession of an offensive weapon and criminal damage. Two other males were arrested at the same time for public order offences and assault on police. North Antrim MLA Mervyn Storey said the victims had done “nothing whatsoever to provoke such an assault on their property or person”.
© The Belfast Telegraph

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Headlines 13 May, 2011

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL REPORT UNDERSCORES "CLIMATE OF FEAR" FACING HUNGARIAN ROMA

13/5/2011- Roma continued to face violent attacks and discrimination in Hungary and lived in a climate of fear last year, Amnesty International (AI) said in its annual human rights global report published on Friday morning. The world's largest human rights organisation said that in 2010 Hungarian NGOs reported further attacks against Roma people and international human rights monitoring bodies raised concerns over "structural shortcomings" of the Hungarian criminal justice system's response to hate crimes. These shortcomings, AI noted, included a "lack of capacity" to recognise and investigate hate crimes, no specialised training or specific guidelines for police and investigators and no effective measures to "map the nature and scale" of the issue. Several documented cases last year illustrated that law enforcement authorities often failed to recognise the racial motivation in crimes, AI added. AI said that Hungarian NGOs also expressed concerns over a tendency to classify crimes as "common" crimes rather than hate crimes with a racially aggravated motive. As a result, reliable statistics were not publicly available on the real number of racially motivated crimes in the country. Hatred as an aggravated motive was also reportedly ignored in crimes against LGBT people or Jewish people. Concerning the Roma the AI report said that the UN Human Rights Council raised concerns about their discrimination in education, housing, health care and political participation, noting also that Hungary's Supreme Court awarded compensation to victims of an anti-Roma school segregation for the first time. It said that in September the Council of Europe's Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities expressed concerns about violent attacks against Roma people and noted that despite the arrests of the alleged perpetrators there was still "a climate of fear." On politics AI noted that an "extreme right-wing political party" called Jobbik gained seats for the first time in Hungary's parliament in the spring elections.
© Politics Hungary

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GREEK OFFICIALS URGE CALM AFTER RACIST ATTACKS (Greece)

13/5/2011- Government officials appealed for calm Friday after three days of attacks by ultranationalist mobs on dark-skinned foreigners in Athens, sparked by the fatal mugging of a Greek man in the capital's crime-infested center. The public order minister, Christos Papoutsis, said there was a "very high risk of hate crimes" amid rising social tension, and promised future action to address inner-city crime. Greece is in the throes of a major financial crisis. It is also the main gateway to the European Union for tens of thousands of illegal migrants from Asia and Africa that have transformed the capital's ethnic makeup by moving into depressed central neighborhoods. The influx has helped fuel a nationalist backlash that reached a climax this week.

Greece's Pakistani community says more than 100 Asian and African immigrants were attacked Thursday by rampaging youths protesting the mugging, in a march organised by residents of the center that was quickly taken over by ultranationalists. Nobody has been arrested for Tuesday's killing near the National Archaeological Museum — the biggest showcase of Greece's rich ancient history. Many nationalists have blamed the killing on immigrants. Several hundred youths, dressed in black and some wielding bats, were involved in the daytime violence, chasing immigrants through narrow streets before punching and kicking them to the ground. Pakistani community spokesman Irfan Tamur Mohammad — himself an attack victim — said 17 migrants have been hospitalized and dozens of immigrant-owned shops attacked or looted, while police allegedly did little to stop the violence. Authorities were unable to provide any figures on injuries.

"There were racist attacks before, but Thursday's events were something else, really terrifying," Mohammad said. "It all happened very suddenly, we didn't expect something that extreme." "The police were everywhere, but neither did they offer us protection nor did they stop those who were attacking us," he said. "I have a wife and three children. Should I leave Greece, or stay and maybe get killed?" Pakistani worker Riaz Ahmad said he was grabbed as he left home for work. "Five or six people started shouting: Catch him! They hit me with sticks and kicked me before I slipped back into my block of flats. I have lived in Greece for 11 years and everything has been fine. If things have changed now, what fault is it of ours?" Separately, police are investigating the fatal stabbing of a Bangladeshi worker in another central Athens district that is home to many migrants and has a strong far-right presence. There have been no arrests, and the motive of Wednesday's attack remains unclear.

Government spokesman George Petalotis urged restraint. "The spectacle of knifed immigrants in hospital cannot be accepted by Greek society," he told state TV. "Citizens who live in the center of Athens and in areas with a big (crime) problem are right to be frustrated ... but clearly nobody has the right to take the law into their own hands." Immigrant shopkeepers in the city's old shopping center said they were threatened again Friday by nationalists, and many closed early for the day — one Chinese storefront draped with a big Greek flag. "We can't do business," said a Pakistani shopowner who identified himself by his first name, Adnan. "I really don't know what to do."
© The Associated Press

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NEO-NAZI ATTACKS ON IMMIGRANTS AFTER ATHENS KILLING (Greece)

11/5/2011- Several hundred people including neo-Nazis assaulted dozens of immigrants in a working-class part of Athens today after a murder was blamed on foreigners, police said. Riot police deployed in the Patission district and used tear gas to keep protesters away from a squatter home after the unrest that broke out following the death by stabbing of a man for his video camera. Shouting "foreigners get out", the mob earlier attacked immigrants in the street and vandalised at least one foreign-owned shop, police said. The rampage came after the 44-year-old man was killed early today as he prepared to take his pregnant wife to the maternity hospital. Three assailants stabbed him as he was getting into his car, police said. The men, whom witnesses described as foreigners, grabbed the video camera he was carrying to film the birth of his second child. The murder has reignited claims that police are failing to prevent some parts of Athens from being overrun by drug addicts, prostitutes and illegal immigrants, as well as right-wing vigilantes. Locals staged a demonstration at the scene of the crime calling for better police protection. The minister in charge of police expressed his "revulsion" over the murder, but defended the work of the police while calling for a mobilisation of "the entire country" and the city against the problem.
© AFP

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FOREIGN NATIONAL STABBED TO DEATH IN ATHENS (Greece)

12/5/2011- Unknown individuals stabbed to death a 21-year-old Bangladeshi half an hour after midnight in the Patissia district of Athens. According to information available so far, two men on a motorcycle chased the victim and when they reached him they stabbed him with knives and fled. The victim was rushed to hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Although the motives of the killing are not yet known, police are also investigating the possibility of a racist attack, given that according to some testimonies the perpetrators were speaking Greek. Attica security police are conducting an investigation.
© ANA - MPA

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RIGHT-WING EXTREMISTS BEAT UP MIGRANTS IN ATHENS PROTEST AGAINST FATAL MUGGING (Greece)

12/5/2011- Far-right extremists attacked dark-skinned foreigners in the Greek capital and clashed with riot police Thursday during a protest against a deadly mugging that happened earlier in the week. Far-right and nationalist groups have blamed immigrants for the Tuesday stabbing of a man who was about to drive his pregnant wife to hospital, although police say no such evidence has emerged they were responsible. A makeshift shrine with candles and flowers now stands at the site of the killing. Thugs in motorcycle helmets beat up several immigrants, sending others fleeing for safety amid heavy rush-hour traffic. Similar attacks have occurred over the past two days.

About 500 black-clad ultranationalist youths marched through migrant areas, and running battles with riot police broke out as youths chased immigrants down side streets. Riot police fired volleys of tear gas, and an AP reporter saw about 25 suspected rioters detained. Similar anti-immigrant rampages broke out on Tuesday night after the fatal mugging, with several hundred youths marching through the centre of the city. Violent far-right groups have won growing support in recent months. The leader of extremist group Chrysi Avgi won a seat on Athens city council for the first time in a November election. Police said Thursday they were investigating the fatal stabbing of a 21-year-old Bangladeshi in a crime-ridden part of central Athens with a strong far-right presence. There have been no arrests, and the motive of the attack was unclear.

Greece is the EU's main entry point for illegal immigrants. Over the past few years, the capital's centre has seen a major increase in migrant numbers, which, combined with worsening crime rates, has prompted a far-right backlash. The leader of an ultraright party was elected as an Athens city councillor in last November's municipal elections.
© The Associated Press

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ONLINE DEBATER CONVICTED IN CZECH REPUBLIC OF DEATH THREATS AGAINST ROMA MODERATOR

11/5/2011- Martin Kubák, known online under the nickname Kraxna, was sentenced yesterday by the Prague 5 District Court to a four-month prison sentence, suspended for one year. Starting in August 2009 he sent dozens of threatening e-mails to Patrik Banga, an online discussion administrator for news server iDNES.cz. In addition to racist vulgarities, the e-mails include death threats against Banga and his son. Kubák started harassing Banga after his access to internet discussions was blocked because his vulgarity violated the news server's rules for discussion. The verdict is the first of its kind in the Czech Republic. The court said Kubák committed the crime of violence against a group of persons and individual members of that group. "He threatened death and other serious harm in such a way that it gave rise to justified concern," Judge Vanda Činková explained the District Court verdict to news server iDNES.cz.

Kubák was given the suspended sentence in a brief procedure which did not involved testimony to the court. He did not appeal the verdict by the deadline, so the verdict has taken effect. "I am glad a verdict was reached. People do not enjoy total anonymity even on the internet and must bear responsibility for their actions," Patrik Banga told news server Romea.cz. "However, I am rather sorry we did not have the opportunity to explain this to Kubák in person, like normal people." Attorney František Valeš, who contacted Patrik Banga through the ROMEA association, is also preparing a civil suit over the threats for protection of personality. Valeš is satisfied with the criminal verdict, but news server iDNES.cz reports that he believes it is a mistake that Kubák has not been assigned a probation officer. Nevertheless, this is the first case in which a Czech court has convicted someone of intolerance and threats on an internet discussion board.

Pavla Kopecká, spokesperson for the Prague criminal investigation police, can recall only one similar case making it to criminal court. "In that case the perpetrator sought out and physically attacked the object of his vulgarities after making threats through the internet," she said. In Kubák's case, the court intervened in time. "I could not allow Kubák to actually make an attempt to harm my son," Banga told news server Romea.cz. He turned to the police and Kubák subsequently confessed to his behavior. At the end of last November the Prague 5 state prosecutor decided to halt the proceedings, but Banga complained to the Office of the Municipal State Prosecutor, which re-opened the case. The United States mentioned this case in its annual Human Rights Report. Its description of the issue can be found in the section on freedom of speech and the press.
© Romea

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MOSQUES VANDALIZED AFTER OSAMA BIN LADEN'S DEATH (usa)

10/5/2011- Muslim-Americans in Louisiana's Shreveport-Bossier City metropolitan area reported the defacement of a local mosque by a man in a blue pickup truck, the most recent incident in a string of possible hate crimes following the killing of Osama bin Laden. According to police reports, a white male was seen tampering with the doors of a local mosque on Monday, and raw pork was found hanging from the door handles after his departure. Adherents of Islam do not consume pork, which they consider unclean. Although members of the mosque will not press charges, police have said the incident could be classified as a hate crime. "It appears that the individual who did this tried to intimidate the individuals at this location," Bossier City Police Department spokesman Mark Natale told KSLA-TV's Brittany Pieper.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday to launch an investigation into the incident. "These types of incidents will continue to occur as long as our nation's leaders fail to speak out forcefully against the growing anti-Islam sentiment in American society," CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said in a statement. CAIR has also called for a probe of a case in Portland, Maine, in which the walls of a central mosque were spraypainted to read, "Osama today, Islam tomorow [sic]." The graffiti was scrawled during the mosque's morning prayer session just one day after U.S. forces killed bin Laden at a compound in Pakistan last week. And earlier this week, a mosque in Amherst, N.Y., was defaced by a sign planted in the lot adjacent to the town's mosque which read, "Bomb making -- next driveway."
© The Huffington Post

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OSCE HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE LAUNCHES NEW HATE CRIMES TRAINING PROGRAMME FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS

The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) today launched a new training programme aimed at building the capacity of law enforcement personnel in participating States to prevent and respond to hate crimes.

13/5/2011- The programme, named Training against Hate Crimes for Law Enforcement, or TAHCLE, has been designed to assist OSCE participating States in implementing their commitment to combat hate and intolerance. “If left unchecked, intolerance and hatred can have serious implications for society. We have seen in the recent past how conflicts instigated by acts of intolerance can degenerate into violence and the breakdown of the social and political order,” said Ambassador Janez Lenarčič, the Director of ODIHR, as he presented the programme to the OSCE’s participating States in Vienna. Lenarčič stressed that law enforcement agencies have an important role to play in combating hate crimes: “Effective responses by law enforcement are essential to ensure that people retain confidence in the rule of law and feel the support of the state in responding to intolerance.” He said that the training programme will enable law enforcement to better identify and respond to hate-motivated crimes.

The programme builds on pilot training held in several participating States since 2005 and focuses on training police educators; strengthening collaboration between law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, judges and civil society; and developing effective hate crime data collection and dissemination processes. The programme envisages the active engagement of victim groups and civil society to highlight the impact of hate crimes on different communities and the importance of building confidence and partnerships between the police and communities. It also addresses new challenges, such as hate on the Internet. ODIHR publishes an annual report on hate crimes in the OSCE region and assists participating States in combating such crimes through a wide range of programmes.
© The Financial

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IN SOUTH AFRICA, LESBIAN MURDER CASE HIGHLIGHTS JUSTICE SYSTEM'S SLOW RESPONSE

Human Rights Watch calls the April murder of Noxolo Nogwaza a hate crime. Local gay-rights activists say that police and judges need to be trained to take the crimes committed against gay South Africans more seriously.

12/5/2011- The murder of a prominent lesbian activist, followed swiftly afterward by the rape of a lesbian teenager in the attempt to “cure” her of homosexuality, has brought South Africa’s mixed feelings about homosexuality to the fore. On paper, South Africa is one of the most liberal countries in the world, allowing homosexual couples to marry and enjoy full legal rights as spouses. But this liberalism in the courtroom is not always reflected in the attitudes of the people on the streets or the policemen and judges who are called upon to address these crimes. South Africa has one of the highest incidents of rape in the world, although police statistics show that the number of reported cases has been dropping recently. In a disturbing survey taken in June 2009 by the Medical Research Council, 25 percent of men admitted to having committed rape. In a separate survey by the Community of Information, Empowerment and Transparency (a lobby group), 1 out of 3 women in a sampling of 4,000 reported being raped in the past year.

In the April 24 murder of lesbian activist Noxolo Nogwaza – apparently stoned to death and gang-raped in the Kwa-Thema township after a barroom altercation – police have made no arrests. Lesbian and gay activists in South Africa say that police often don’t take crimes against homosexuals seriously. “If we go to a police station we get discriminated against, and we hear many of the same kinds of comments that we hear from people on the street, so no wonder we face these problems,” says Ndumie Funda, director of Luleki Sizwe, a lesbian rights support group in the Cape Town neighborhood of Nyanga. “There is procrastination in the justice system. Cases get postponed, and the police are not dealing with the victims and their families. The police need to be trained to deal with cases like this.”

Battling entrenched views
Activists say that the solution is much deeper than simply issuing public condemnations and promising swift justice. As in Uganda, where conservative Christian parliamentarians have attempted to change their laws to make homosexuality a death-penalty offense, traditional beliefs in both the white and black communities in South Africa can be strongly antipathetic to homosexuality. Efforts to temper those traditional beliefs, and to encourage Christian pastors to tone down their anti-gay rhetoric will be an effort that must be sustained, advocates say. “Police and other South African officials fail to acknowledge that members of the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] community are raped, beaten, and killed simply because of how they look or identify, and they are attacked by men who then walk freely, boasting of their exploits," said Dipika Nath, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, in a press statement calling for Nogwaza’s murder to be treated as a hate crime. “If the police and other state officials do not act swiftly, it will only be a matter of time before they have to account for their failure to the family and friends of the next lesbian who is beaten and killed in Kwa-Thema.”

Nogwaza was founder of the Ekurhuleni Pride Organizing Committee, which had organized gay-pride marches in Kwa-Thema and other townships. On the night of April 23, she had an argument at a bar near Kwa-Thema with men who had tried to proposition her female friend. Her body was found the next day, in an alley, apparently stoned to death and with signs of rape. Violence against gays takes other forms, such as “corrective rape,” a mistaken belief that a lesbian girl can be “cured” if she is forced to have sex with a man. Such an attack happened last Thursday in Pretoria, when a 13-year-old girl (her name withheld for her protection), reported being raped because she was a lesbian. Groups like Luleki Sizwe can reach out to such victims to give them shelter, but they can’t change the broader culture, at least not without the help of government, society leaders, and the media, says Ms. Funda. “We have given shelter in 10 different cases since we started in 2008,” she says. “Whenever there is a case, you need to attend to the needs of victims.”

Talking to churches, parents
But the bigger battle is to confront the larger problem of people’s attitudes. “Our object is lobbying and advocacy, talking to churches, talking to mothers and fathers, engaging with the community,” says Ms. Funda. “If we are just engaging with gay and lesbian NGOs, we are going toing to change the way people think. Already the pastors and the police, they are listening more. Let’s take this thing forward.” “Police and other South African officials fail to acknowledge that members of the LGBT community are raped, beaten, and killed simply because of how they look or identify, and they are attacked by men who then walk freely, boasting of their exploits," said Ms. Nath, the researcher at Human Rights Watch. “If the police and other state officials do not act swiftly, it will only be a matter of time before they have to account for their failure to the family and friends of the next lesbian who is beaten and killed in Kwa-Thema.”
© The Christian Science Monitor

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Headlines 6 May, 2011

MAN CONVICTED OF HOLOCAUST DENIAL IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC FOR WEB CONTENT ON US SERVER

5/5/2011- The Prague-West District Court (Okresní soud pro Prahu - západ ) found Czech-Canadian Vladimír Stwora guilty of supporting and promoting a movement aimed at suppressing human rights and freedoms and sentenced him to a six-month prison sentence, suspended for a probation period of two years. The prosecution charged the man with publishing a Czech translation of an article denying the Holocaust on his website. Stwora insists he is innocent and claims he just wanted to prompt a discussion by publishing the article. The verdict has not yet taken effect, the Czech Press Agency reports. A first-instance court acquitted Stwora twice before, but the appeals court overturned those verdicts and returned the case to the lower level to be reheard. The case concerns the Czech translation of an article entitled "The Four Million Version of the Holocaust" by a D. Cassidy. According to the case file, Stwora published the text on his web page in July 2007. The prosecution said the article casts doubt on whether the Nazi genocide of Jewish people during WWII ever took place by questioning the number of victims and the question of whether the death camps and gas chambers really existed.

The prosecutor drew attention to the following claim from the article: "In reality there is no proof that poisonous gas, gas chambers or gas ovens were used in any death camp." The prosecution said Stwora published the text with the intention of disputing "the essence and extent of the Nazi genocide against Jewish people during WWII", the Czech Press Agency reports. Stwora has repeatedly rejected the charges. In the past he has pointed out that he is not the author of the article, nor its translator, and has claimed to disagree with the content of the text. He told the court that he published the article in Canada and that the web server on which his website is located is housed in the USA and that what he did was not a crime in those countries.
© CTK

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DISABILITY HATE CRIME IN BRIGHTON AND HOVE 'INCREASES' (uk)

The number of reported cases of hate crimes against disabled people in Brighton and Hove has almost doubled.

4/5/2011- Sussex Police said there were 33 recorded incidents in the city between April 2010 and March 2011, up from 17 the previous year. Sgt Peter Castleton believes the increase is down to better recording by police and a campaign to encourage victims to come forward. He said most people had been subjected to very distressing verbal attacks. Sgt Castleton, who is part of Brighton's partnership community safety team, said: "Typically, we're talking about harassment, it's often name calling.

'Devastating results'
"Fortunately there's not a lot of physical harm reported to us but it's harassment and name calling and of course it's very, very distressing for the people involved. "When we're talking about disability, we're not just talking about physical disability we're talking about sensory disability, we're talking about mental health impairment and learning disability as well." He also believes it's a crime that is significantly under reported and urged anyone who a victim of hate crime to contact officers. In March Brighton and Hove City Council's partnership community safety team launched a poster campaign and a new hate incident report form. At the launch, councillor Dee Simson said: "Disability hate crime is often hidden and not much discussed, yet it can have devastating results. "We are aiming to improve the reporting of such incidents and develop good practice in dealing with them."
© BBC News

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RUSSIAN EXTREMISTS HAVE POLICE PHOTOS (Norway/Russia)

Photographs of 82 men that appear to be taken by the Norwegian police and would only be accessible to police officers have been published on an extreme Russian nationalist website, which claims that the men are anti-fascist activists and threatens violence against them.

4/5/2011- The pictures, which have appeared during the past two weeks, are alleged to be of so called “blitzers,” members of a radical left-wing political milieu traditionally centered around the Blitzer House in Oslo, or antifascists. All of those pictured are young men who had previously been arrested. Such pictures are taken when people are arrested for crimes that can lead to imprisonment. The pictures are downloaded to a police database if the individual is charged or sentenced. This database is only accessible to police officers.

‘At least two come from the police’
The Russian website itself claims that the pictures were sent by a police officer. Under each picture, detailed personal information is listed, with threats to attack them using weapons such as bats. Many of those pictured now fear attacks from Russian or Norwegian extreme nationalists, and over 10 have told VG that they have no connection to the “blitzers” or the neo-Nazi movement. The pictures are all taken in profile except one, which shows part of a plaque that comes from Oslo police district. Oslo police district confirmed on Monday that at least two pictures in the collection come from their registers. The police had earlier told the media that they did not think that those pictured were Norwegians. Officers reject the idea that the pictured individuals are anti-fascist activists. “We are familiar with the established activist milieu in Norway and there is no-one known from that community in these pictures,” inspector Einar Aas informed newspaper VG. He suggested that “the original claims from the website are thus incorrect.” “We have no basis to believe that there is any danger for the security of those that are pictured,” he concluded. He later added that “several” of the pictures were “likely” to come from police systems.

‘Little faith’
A 20 year-old who is pictured told VG that his photograph, which is displayed on the website, comes from a time when he was arrested “around three years ago” after a fight. “I didn’t want this to come up,” said the man, who added that he “has now sharpened up” and has steady employment. He wished to remain anonymous in order to protect his family because the website claims to have addresses and other information on the pictured individuals. The 20 year-old said that it “did not help” that the police had found out they were not part of the activist milieu because “it is still us that are pictured.” He went further, suggesting that he had “little faith that the police care” and added that “if it had been any of them in the pictures, it would have been a completely different issue.”

Investigation launched
The police themselves have now sent the issue to the Norwegian Bureau for the Investigation of Police Affairs, which investigates alleged misconduct by police officers. Two of those pictured had already signalled their intention to VG to make contact with the bureau. A leader in the bureau, Liv Øyen, commented that while she “only knew about the case from the media,” that “if this turns out to be police photographs, it is very serious.” “It will be a part of our investigation to find out how this can have happened,” she added.

Police sources also suggest that contacts of Vyacheslav Datsik, a Russian neo-Nazi who was deported to Russia in March, could have been responsible. With a wide network of neo-Nazi contacts both in Russia and Norway, police sources claimed that a friend of Datsik’s could have forwarded the photographs to the website. This is rejected by Datsik’s Norwegian lawyer, Fridtjof Feydt, who told newspaper VG that “it can be ruled out that Datsik himself has had anything to do with this, since he had been partially isolated for the last few months.” Feydt added that “it is also unlikely that his circle of contacts, who are not actually the police’s best friends, has had access to the police register.”
© Views and News from Norway

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THREE ROMA FAMILIES REPEATEDLY ATTACKED IN SLOVAKIA OVER EASTER

2/5/2011- The village of Gemerská Poloma in the Rožňava district of Slovakia experienced three days of terror against Roma families during the Easter weekend. The families were attacked in their homes by a group of youths whom the victims say were "skinheads". Local activist Stanislav Kučerák reported the incident to the Roma Press Agency (Romská tisková agentura - RPA). Kučerák said there are about three youths living in the village who are sympathizers of the neo-Nazi movement and that they called on other men from around the district to come to the village. Approximately 40 - 50 men gathered there and attacked the Roma families directly in their homes, destroying everything they could get their hands on, from dishes to furniture to windows, even tearing doors off their hinges. They also beat some of the Roma residents. Small children witnessed all of the violence committed against their families. The Roma who were assaulted sought help from Mr Kučerák. He called the police and insisted that a patrol arrive as quickly as possible because of the threat not only to health and property, but to the lives of the citizens concerned. Mr Kučerák said two police officers arrived on the scene within five minutes.

"The officers raised their voices to me and asked me questions like, 'Who are you? You seem like a real smart guy...' They were unpleasant to me and did their best to show me that I am nobody. They told the Roma people who had been attacked that they would not guarantee their protection and that the best thing for them to do would be to call a taxi and flee to their relatives. They stayed on the scene for about 20 minutes, taking photos and writing something up. Then they commented that some other body was going to have to handle it anyway and said the Roma families hadn't even had a gate up in front of their homes so that the area in front of the houses was basically free space," explained Kučerák. Kučerák went on to say that the mayor of Gemerská Poloma's only comment was that the Roma had not been attacked without cause. He recommended them to lock their doors. "The mayor is said to have reached an agreement with the three people responsible from the village. He wanted to prevent, by all available means, this information from reaching the public through the media," Kučerák said.

Kučerák says the attacks on the Roma families in Gemerská Poloma took place late Friday night and in the early morning hours of Saturday and again late Saturday and in the early morning hours of Sunday during the Easter holiday. He also said a similar attack took place last year in the village. The Roma Press Agency asked the Regional Police in Košice for a statement and will publish it once they receive it.
© Romea

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VIOLENT ANTI-SEMITIC INCIDENTS DOWN 46% IN 2010

Nonetheless, 2010 saw the third highest number of anti-Semitic incidents since the university began collecting data in 1990. 

1/5/2011- There were 614 violent anti-Semitic incidents worldwide in 2010, 46% fewer than in 2009, according to a study by Tel Aviv University for Holocaust Day. Nonetheless, 2010 saw the third highest number of anti-Semitic incidents since the university began collecting data in 1990. The university's Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Racism & Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry publish the annual report.

The interception of the Gaza flotilla in May 2010 was a major cause of anti-Semitic incidents. However, that incident was brief and resulted in relatively few casualties compared with the IDF incursion into Gaza in January 2009, Operation Cast Lead. Therefore the ensuing anti-Semitic wave was also smaller. 2009 saw a record number of violent anti-Semitic incidents worldwide - 1,129. UK, France, and Canada saw the most anti-Semitic incidents in 2010, accounting for 60% of all incidents worldwide. The incidents in these countries were also particularly violent, involving attacks in the streets against people perceived to be Jewish. However, there were fewer overall anti-Semitic incidents.

The report noted an increase in attacks on Jewish institutions was recorded in Latin America, especially in Chile, which has the world's fourth largest Palestinian community. Anti-Semitic allegations by pro-President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela did not manifest in violence. Violent anti-Semitic incidents in Russia fell, which the report says may be due to better law enforcement. Tel Aviv University says that the media and Internet are powerful means for distributing anti-Semitic propaganda. Key motifs in 2010 were Jewish-Zionist conspiracies and global power, demonization and delegimization of Israel by comparing it with Nazi Germany or claiming that Israel is an Apartheid state, and calls for Jewish communities to renounce Israel.

The report says that extreme leftists and radical Muslims are behind unrestrained anti-Israel propaganda. It also noted that street violence against Jews, especially in Western Europe, is perpetrated by young Muslims and members of extreme rightist and neo-Nazi groups.
© Globes

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