ICARE Hate Crime News - Archive June 2011

Headlines 24 June, 2011

Headlines 17 June, 2011

Headlines 10 June, 2011

Headlines 3 June, 2011

Headlines 24 June, 2011


24/6/2011- Issuing the first report documenting Islamophobia in the US, an American Muslim advocacy group and the University of California, Berkeley's Center for Race and Gender, issued a groundbreaking study depicting the rise of Islamophobia in the US and offering recommendations to help challenge troubling phenomenon. "Islamophobia is close-minded prejudice against or hatred of Islam and Muslims,” said the report released at a news conference held on Thursday, June 23, at Capitol Hill headquarters of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a CAIR press release said. "It is not appropriate to label all, or even the majority of those, who question Islam and Muslims as Islamophobes. Most are simply misinformed about the Islamic faith.” Titled "Same Hate, New Target: Islamophobia and Its Impact in the United States 2009-2010", the report is based on available data and interviews with experts that documents growing Islamophobia in the United States. The 68-page report compares the current prevailing anti-Muslim prejudice to old hate that targeted minorities in the past. "Islamophobia is the new face of an old hate that has targeted minorities throughout our nation's history," said CAIR National Legislative Director Corey Saylor, one of the report's co-authors. “This report shows that Americans who embrace pluralism must act together to prevent Islamophobia from being accepted in mainstream society."

Special sections in the report focus on the manufactured controversy over the Park 51 Islamic community center in Manhattan. Other cases of 2010 Oklahoma ballot initiative targeting Islamic principles (Shari`ah) and Islamophobia in the 2010 elections were also clarified in the report. Thought confirming that the ethos of multiculturalism was still dominant in the American community, Saylor raised concerns that Islamophobia was trending toward the Mainstream in the US. "CAIR's vision regarding Islamophobia in America looks toward the time when being Muslim carries a positive connotation and Islam has an equal place among many faiths in America's pluralistic society," Saylor said quoting from the report's executive summary. Although there are no official figures, the United States is believed to be home to between 6-8 million Muslims. A US survey has revealed that the majority of Americans know very little about Muslims and their faith. A recent Gallup poll, however, found 43 percent of Americans Nationwide admitted to feeling at least “a little” prejudice against Muslims.

The report lists the "worst" Islamophobes and the "best" of those pushing back against growing anti-Muslim sentiment in American society. “Some individuals, institutions and groups deserve recognition for their outstanding contributions to pushing back against Islamophobic trends during the period covered by this report,” the report says. Those “best” figures includes New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Loonwatch.com; Congressional Tri-Caucus; Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN); Jon Stewart, Aasif Mandvi and The Daily Show; Media Matters for America; interfaith leaders; and Rachel Maddow and The Rachel Maddow Show. As for those recommended for promoting Islamophobia the worst figures, the report says, “some individuals, institutions and groups were at the center of pushing Islamophobia in America during the period covered by this report: Pamela Geller and Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA); Robert Spencer and Jihad Watch.” Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda were also listed as sources of Islamophobia. US Muslims have been sensing a growing hostility following a hearing presented by representative Peter King on what he described as “radicalization” of US Muslims.

Recently, a Republican Missouri lawmaker described Islam as a disease like polio while another Alaska Rep. branded Muslims as ‘occupiers’ of American neighborhoods. Lawmakers in at least 13 states have introduced proposals forbidding local judges from considering Shari`ah when rendering verdicts on issues of divorces and marital disputes. The scale of bullying Muslim students at schools also increased after news of Osama bin Laden's death. The report offers an initial set of recommendations for Muslims and Americans of other faiths to challenge the troubling phenomenon. The recommendations for American Muslims include being an example to others of the "Islamic traditions of patience and reason," being active in community and political activities, promoting volunteerism, and strengthening outreach to law enforcement authorities. Finally, it calls on all those "who wish to help rid our country of Islamophobia and other forms of intolerance," to offer help including passing legislation banning racial profiling, speaking out strongly against smearing entire faiths or peoples and refusing to offer a legitimizing platform to those who spout anti-Muslim bigotry or Islamophobia. “This is a reflection of our belief that American Muslims must take the lead in pushing back against Islamophobia,” the report says. “In a future report, we will offer recommendations to the public and private sectors.”
© On Islam



23/6/2011- 23/6/2011- Anti-Islam campaigner and MP Geert Wilders has been found not guilty of charges of inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims and non-westerm immigrants by judges in Amsterdam. The court ruled that some of Wilders' statements were insulting, shocking and on the edge of legal acceptibility, but that they were made in the broad context of a political and social debate on the multi-cultural society. Talk of a tsunami of Muslims is 'blunt and humiliating' but is 'not subversive and does not incite to hatred or discrimination', the court said. And Wilders' 17- minute video compilation Fitna could lead to feelings of hatred, but Wilders himself had not generated this feeling, the court said.

In a reaction, Wilders said the verdict was a victory for freedom of speech. 'You can criticise Islam. I have not been silenced,' he said. 'Sometimes I meant to be coarse and denigrating,' he said. 'In a political debate you must be able to say what you like.' However, lawyer Gerard Spong, who was instrumental in getting the case heard, said he was disappointed because he feels Wilders did go too far with some of his statements.

'The abusive language about Islam and the artificial distinction between Islam and Muslims have one effect: contributing to hatred of Muslims,' he said. The judge's ruling that such statements fall within the context of a broad debate are vague, Spong said, and raised the question 'what is the context?' Alexander Pechtold, leader of the D66 Liberal party, said the ruling could not be seen as a licence to incite hatred, even for politicians. And Christian Democrat parliamentary party leader Sybrand van Haersma Buma said the CDA is committed to debate on the basis of respect and decency and would continue to criticise Wilders if he is unnecessarily insulting. Tilburg law professor Theo de Roos told news agency ANP the trial was a test case for prosecution on the basis of inciting hatred. 'This trial shows you have to go very far before you can be found guilty. Only actual threats are no longer legally admissable,' he said.

The case began on October 4 last year, but collapsed after three weeks when a special legal panel ruled the judges may have shown partiality following a string of legal blunders. New judges were then sworn in and the case was heard again this year. The anti-racism groups which pressed the prosecution department to take the case to trial are now planning to take their complaint to the EU court of human rights and the UN, according to media reports.

For an English summary of the verdict, click here (link at bottom of page)
For more reactions to the verdict, click here
© The Dutch News



22/6/2011- Human Rights group Amnesty International has issued a new report condemning Turkey for ignoring violence and discrimination against the country’s LGBT population. The 50-page report, entitled “Not an illness nor a crime: Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Turkey demand equality,” highlights that hate crimes against LGBTs are pervasive but ignored by the Turkish government. The report stresses that trans women are left particularly vulnerable and are subject to a disproportionately high number of incidents without legal protection or remedy.

From the Amnesty International blog:
Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s researcher on Turkey, said:
“The pervasive prejudice against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Turkey and the fear of ostracism and attacks, means that many feel compelled to conceal their sexual orientation, even from their families. “Homophobic statements by government officials have encouraged discrimination against individuals. Rather than repeat past failures, the new government must respect and protect their rights through words and actions. “It is the responsibility of all the parties in the Parliament to ensure that any new constitutional settlement in Turkey outlaws discrimination on grounds of sexuality or gender identity. “Comprehensive legislation to counter discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity is a must – and it should come as soon as possible. However, the authorities must also show the political will to combat discrimination by demonstrating that homophobic public discourse is unacceptable.”

The report also found that, not only do police officials leave trans women vulnerable, there is evidence to suggest that they actively pursue them to levy arbitrary, and that this occurs on a day to day basis. Discriminatory practices have also been found among the judiciary. Though no laws explicitly sanction penalties for trans identity, the report found evidence to suggest that the judiciary has invoked overreaching penalties for trans individuals who, for instance, may have turned to sex work because they cannot find employment elsewhere due to the fierce discrimination they face. Hate crimes against same-sex couples have also been neglected by police officials who do not always follow up charges of bias motivated crimes if they are investigated at all, says the report. Amnesty International is calling on the Turkish government to take a firm stance against anti-LGBT discrimination and put in place legislative and policy safeguards to prevent this kind of stigmatization and victimization.
© Care 2



21/6/2011- The Holocaust Memorial of Thessaloniki, in northern Greece, was vandalized with swastika and anti-Semitic slogans. Unidentified perpetrators daubed the bronze plaque in memory of the 50,000 Jews killed during the Holocaust with the words "That's a lie", a Star of David and a swastika. This act coincides with the decision of the City Council of Thessaloniki to bestow on Monday the City’s highest decoration to 30 Holocaust survivors still living in Thessaloniki. The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (KIS) and the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki issued press releases condemning this anti-Semitic attack and urging the authorities to take all necessary measures in order to apprehend the culprits. Greek Education Minister, Anna Diamantopoulou, the City Council of Thessaloniki as well as the local Mayor Giannis Boutaris issued public statements condemning the vandalism. The city's memorial service for the about 30 survivors still living in Greece's second city was said to be the first in 65 years. Thessaloniki's new mayor Yannis Boutaris, who defeated the conservative candidate in local elections last year, is seeking to highlight the city's multicultural and religious past at the crossroads of the southern Balkans.
© EJP News



22/6/2011- Three Stirling school pupils have been excluded for hurling racist and homophobic abuse at bus passengers. Central Scotland Police this week revealed that, in two of the incidents, disturbed fellow students raised the alarm. And, as a result of the hate crimes, officers will be presiding over lessons in race relations after the summer holidays. A police spokesperson said that during the most recent incident – at around 8.30am last Wednesday – a pupil was quickly apprehended after an “unacceptable” diatribe. He explained: “The pupil made homophobic remarks to a male passenger in his 40s who was wearing a tartan hat. “He also made comments of a racial nature towards passengers who appeared to be students of east Asian appearance. The behaviour was challenged by other pupils on the bus. “The incident was later reported to the local police office. Enquiries were made that day with the school and the pupil responsible was arrested and charged.” A similar incident also took place just after 3.30pm on June 8, according to the police spokesperson.

He continued: “A number of east Asian students boarded a bus and a pupil then began shouting and throwing scrunched up paper at them. “Pupils, not directly involved in the incident, were alarmed by the behaviour – believing it to be racially motivated – and informed the school, who then contacted the police. “Again, an investigation was carried out and the pupil was arrested and charged for this incident.” An older member of the community was responsible for lifting the lid on another unruly youth using public transport, this time at 3.30pm on May 6. The police officer said: “A pupil acted in a disrespectful manner to a woman of eastern appearance who was wearing a veil headdress, and to a black male student in his 20s. “The pupil also turned his attention back to the woman and made a comment which was racial in nature. “A member of the local community observed the conduct and contacted the police to report the incident. “Once more, the pupil concerned was thereafter traced, charged and reported.”

School staff were subsequently praised for their willingness to work with police in a bid to stamp out discrimination. “Schools work with us to tackle hate crime and have excluded the individuals responsible,” the force spokesperson added. “There are many pupils from local schools using public transport who are not involved in such behaviour – there are only a few offenders who let everyone down. “We will be giving talks when the pupils return from summer holidays to reiterate that such behaviour is not acceptable and to encourage pupils to continue to report such incidents.”
© the Stirling Observer



20/6/2011- The police say they are treating an attack on the home of a Nigerian family in Belfast as a hate crime. The family were in their home in the Kilmuir Avenue area of Ballybeen when two upstairs windows were smashed. The attack happened shortly after 0040 BST on 13 June, but police have only just released details. It is understood the family are now trying to find other accommodation. Local clergy issued a statement to show their support for the family. "We the members of churches in Ballybeen stand together with other members of our community in our rejection and condemnation of the recent unprovoked and seemingly racially-motivated attacks on a family of Nigerian origin living in our community," it said. "We are saddened that they now feel that it is unsafe for their children that they continue to live in Ballybeen. "We call upon all church members, residents of Ballybeen, political representatives, statutory authorities and community workers to do all that they can to affirm and ensure that this community is a secure place to live for people of all racial and national backgrounds, so that no-one may fear intimidation or expulsion from their homes." PSNI area commander for Castlereagh, chief inspector Derek Martin, said: "Everyone has the right to a peaceful and safe existence and incidents of this nature will absolutely not be tolerated. "Our officers are fully committed to playing their part in preventing such dreadful crimes occurring. "We all have a part to play in dealing with hate crime, however the police alone cannot solve what is a wider societal issue. "I would appeal to anyone who has information on this incident to pass it to police."
© BBC News



Disabled people are being failed by police and left to suffer abuse, a learning disability charity has said.

20/6/2011- Mencap, launching a three-year campaign against hate crime, said there was a "general lack of police understanding of disability hate crime". It said lack of police action meant "years of harassment... escalating into more serious incidents". Police said they took the issue seriously, but it could be hard to recognise people's problems. Mencap's Stand By Me campaign calls for a dedicated officer within each force to deal with hate crime, and for all officers to be trained to spot and tackle the crime. It comes after Fiona Pilkington, 38, killed herself and her disabled daughter Francecca Hardwick, 18, in 2007 following 10 years of sustained abuse and harassment by a gang in Leicestershire. In a survey of about 1,000 adults in March, the charity found that one in two people believe those with disabilities are more likely to be the targets of abusive comments or aggressive behaviour than others. Two in three consider abusive comments such as name calling directed at someone with a disability as a hate crime. This rises to three in four when aggressive behaviour such as pushing or hitting is involved, the survey suggested.

Mencap also highlighted the case of David Askew, 64, of Hattersley, Manchester, who collapsed and died last March. He had been repeatedly harassed by local youths over a 10-year period, and an Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) report found there were "systemic failures" in policing. His family had called police 88 times between January 2004 and March 2010. Mencap chief executive Mark Goldring said: "When hate crime takes hold, it stops people living their lives in the way they want to." He said the deaths were "just two examples of where low-level harassment ignored by police was allowed to escalate into sustained abuse with fatal consequences". He added: "Today's report proves that police have not got to grips with disability hate crime, let alone crime against people with a learning disability. "Too often they accept abuse as a part of their daily life. Early intervention is vital if people with disabilities are not to live in fear."

'Hidden' disability
The chief constable of Devon and Cornwall Police, Stephen Otter, who is responsible for equality diversity and human rights for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said police took the issue seriously. He said police had begun a training scheme with the NHS to help officers, but it could be hard to recognise people's problems. "When you're a police officer on the front line, you're dealing with people in the severest of need and sometimes what can be overlooked is their learning disability or a mental illness, because they're sometimes hidden behind all sorts of other factors. "And I'm not trying to make an excuse for some of the things that haven't worked well, but just saying how difficult it is for officers to make a decision about the need of the individual." A Home Office spokesman said police were recording hate crime data centrally, which would "help the police to target resources more effectively".
© BBC News



20/6/2011- Racist incidents are on the rise in Switzerland according to a report published Monday by  rights groups who accused politicians of contributing to the trend. Muslim and black men were the most common victims of 178 cases recorded last year, a study by the Federal Commission Against Racism and humanrights.ch found.
It compares to 162 cases in 2009. "In recent years a number of MPs have been employed in denying the presence of racism in our society," the report said. "In doing so, they are creating a favourable environment for exclusion and xenophobia." The groups said votes to ban the building of minarets and send back foreign criminals, initiated by the right-wing Swiss People's Party, were directly linked to the rise in cases. "After the vote on minarets (in November 2009) Muslims were increasingly targeted," commission director Doris Angst told AFP. Muslims represented the majority of cases followed by blacks from sub-Saharan Africa. Most cases involved verbal abuse but some involved physical injury, the report said. "Most of the perpetrators were from a higher socio-economic background," it found. The study said that among the incidents 25 (12 of them relating to xenophobia) occurred in public places, 23 at work, and 23 during contact with the police. Among the "shocking" cases in the report, is that of an African man forced to undress during a police search on a train. He was told that it happened because he was "black". The Swiss government created the commission in 1995 following the ratification of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
© Expatica



By Andrea Demeer

20/6/2011- Do not believe what you read about hate crimes in Canada. Especially, disregard the Statistics Canada report that identifies 1,473 hate-motivated crimes in the most recent study year, 2009. That number is meaningless because protection under hate crime legislation in this country is denied to the largest identifiable group of victims of hate. It is denied to women. The Criminal Code prohibits the public incitement of hatred against "any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation." Repeated efforts to have the word "gender" or "sex" inserted in the law -- the last one was made just prior to the May 2011 election -- have failed, and always at the hands of federal Conservatives. So, if you paint hateful messages on the side of a mosque, you are guilty of a hate crime. If you paint them on the side of a girls' school you are guilty of graffiti and otherwise you are exercising your freedom of expression. So much for the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that guarantees all Canadians equal protection under the law.

Women and girls are vulnerable to harassment and violence. Western culture is rife with propaganda that starts with the most mainstream of television, movies and advertisements and escalates to violent rap lyrics and images of sexual degradation through pornographic magazines, videos and websites. There is ample evidence linking these messages to murder, rape, assault, and other crimes. In the past 20 years, numerous groups have advocated the protection of women under Canada's hate propaganda legislation, including the Ontario Provincial Police, the National Action Committee on the Status of Women and a lengthy list of teacher and school associations. Educators see the impact of hate against women in its cruellest form; the abuse of girls and the effects of that abuse on both safety and self-esteem. Ridiculously, those who oppose offering women legal protection from hatred often claim that such a move would so inflate the crime statistics that those numbers would become, effectively, meaningless. That's right. Lawmakers do not want to count hate crimes against women because ... well ... they just don't want to count that high.
© The Sudbury Star



This report is the 7th update of the report Manifestations of anti-Semitism in the EU published in 2004 by the predecessor of the Fundamental Rights Agency of the European Union (FRA), the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia. It contains the latest available governmental and non-governmental statistical data covering the year 2001 to 2009, and, in addition, selected incidents identified through non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and media reports.

20/6/2011- The Agency's data collection work over recent years shows that few European Union (EU) Member States have official data and statistics on anti-Semitic incidents. Even where data exist, they are not comparable, since they are collected using different definitions and methodologies. Furthermore, in many EU Member States Jewish organisations or other civil society organisations do not collect data on anti-Semitic incidents in a systematic way, as there is no complaints mechanism in place to receive and investigate allegations. Where such data exists, usually as lists of cases, they are collected ad hoc by civil society organisations or are based on media reports with varying degrees of validity and reliability. Across most EU Member States, as the FRA has repeatedly noted, there is a serious problem of underreporting, particularly in reference to official systems of data collection that are based on police records and criminal justice data, because not all officially registered anti-Semitic incidents are categorised under the heading ‘anti-Semitism', and/or because not all anti-Semitic incidents are reported to an official body by victims or witnesses.

In unofficial data collection or when the methodology applied is insufficiently robust the same incident may be recorded twice under different categories, for example, under both ‘defamation' and under ‘property damage'. In view of the lack of robust and comparable data showing the extent to which Jews in the EU are subject to discrimination, hate crime and hate speech, the FRA decided in 2011 to launch a major survey on the Jewish population in EU Member States. The issues to be covered will include experiences and perceptions of discrimination (direct, indirect and harassment) in key areas of social life, such as education, housing, health and employment, as well as experiences and perceptions of hate crime and hate speech, and, in addition, awareness of available legal remedies. The survey design will be developed in close consultation with key stakeholders, including representatives of Jewish communities in the European Union.

Anti-Semitism - Summary overview of the situation in the EU 2001-2010
© EU Fundamental Rights Agency


Headlines 17 June, 2011


16/6/2011- Slovak news server SME reports that yesterday in the eastern Hungarian town of Gyöngyös, the leader of the right-wing extremist group Véderõ, Tamás Eszes, received a suspended sentence of 1.5 years for assaulting police officers. The Véderõ movement is an infamous Hungarian organization that reveres the Nazi legacy. Véderõ received global attention in April for attacks committed by its adherents against the residents of the Romani community of Gyöngyöspata in the north of the country. The movement established a training camp not far from the Romani village. Those attending the camp repeatedly attacked the nearby Romani residents. On Friday 22 April, local Romani people evacuated as many as 300 children and women with the assistance of the Red Cross. Three people were hospitalized as a result of attacks committed by Véderõ members. At the time Hungarian State Police classified the actions of the three neo-Nazi brawlers responsible as "causing a public disturbance". Tamás Eszes will be on probation for four years. News server SME reports that this "leader of the nation", as his megalomaniac promoters call him, was detained for causing a public disturbance in an intoxicated state.
© Romea



14/6/3011- Two leaders of a neo-Nazi gang were sentenced Tuesday to life in jail for a rash of hate killings that terrorized minorities in Russia's second-largest city. The St. Petersburg City Court said Alexei Voevodin and Artyom Prokhorenko headed a gang that enlisted Russian supremacists and football fans aged 16 to 22 who preyed on non-Slavs with dark skin or Asian features, kicking and stabbing them to death. The court also sentenced another 10 gang members to up to 18 years in jail for their roles in dozens of attacks over three years. Their victims included a nine-year old from the ex-Soviet republic of Tajikistan, and natives of North Korea, China and African nations. The gang also killed two former members suspected of co-operating with police and buried their bodies in a suburban forest. In 2004, the gang members gunned down Nikolai Girenko, a prominent expert on African ethnology and a human rights advocate who organized anti-racist conferences and helped police investigate hate crimes. The killings rattled St. Petersburg, a city long plagued by assaults on labour migrants from ex-Soviet Central Asia and Russia's Caucasus region, as well as natives of African and Asian nations. Critics accused police of doing little to prevent the crimes and find the culprits, and the gang was caught only after a local newspaper ran an investigative report.

Voevodin and Prokhorenko, with shaved heads and bulging biceps covered with tattooed Celtic imagery, stood calmly in a cage in the courtroom as they listened to the verdict. At a court session last week, Voevodin threatened the judge with "a horrible death," Gazeta.ru online newspaper reported. Celtic crosses are popular among Russian neo-Nazis as substitutes for swastikas. A handful of their supporters raised their right hands in a Nazi salute and yelled "Hail Russia! Hail heroes!" Some of them were holding small, hand-drawn pictures of Adolf Hitler. Voevodin formed the gang in 2003 after most of the members of his previous group, the Mad Crowd, were arrested and charged with multiple killings and assaults. He ordered his followers not to name the gang, refrain from wearing Nazi and ultranationalist symbols and advertising their crimes — unlike other neo-Nazi groups that often posted videos of their attacks online. In recent years, dozens of mostly underage neo-Nazis have stood trial and been convicted across Russia amid a surge in xenophobia and hate crimes triggered by the influx of labour migrants. Some average Russians and nationalist politicians accuse the migrants of stealing jobs and forming ethnic gangs.

Racially motivated attacks peaked in 2008, when 110 were killed and 487 wounded, independent human rights watchdog Sova said. Since then, the number of hate crimes dwindled, but human rights groups say neo-Nazis are increasingly resorting to bombings and arson against police and government officials, whom they accuse of condoning the influx of illegal migrants. Ultranationalist groups have also stepped up attacks on human rights activists and anti-racist youth groups. In early May, a member of an ultranationalist group got a life sentence for the Jan. 2009 killing of a human rights advocate and a journalist, his girlfriend and accomplice was sentenced to 18 years in jail. In April 2010, a federal judge who presided over trials of White Wolves, a mostly teenage group of skinheads convicted of killing and assaulting non-Slavs, was gunned down contract-style outside his Moscow apartment. Members of a neo-Nazi group accused of planning to blow up a mosque, a McDonald's restaurant and railway stations are currently standing trial in Moscow. Neo-Nazis operate in small, semi-autonomous groups that co-ordinate their actions through Internet forums and coded messages, rights groups say.
© The Associated Press



13/6/2011- Last Friday in France, unidentified assailants threw two Molotov cocktails into a camp of Romanian Roma not far from the Moger Castle east of Montpellier. Fortunately there were no injuries, news server France3.fr reports. The incident occurred on Friday morning between 4:30 and 5 AM, when two explosions were heard. Eyewitnesses said approximately six men threw the two Molotov cocktails at the parked automobiles and caravans. A bunch of caravans and vehicles burned to the ground as a result. The camp is occupied by Romani people from a Romanian village located about 60 km north of Bucharest.        ryz, France3.fr, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
© Romea



12/6/2011- The warden of the main mosque in downtown Sofia has suffered a brutal assault at the hands of unidentified attackers just minutes before the start of the morning prayer on Sunday, the Chief Mufti's Office announced. "Today we witnessed yet another attack against Sofia mosque. This morning, 20 minutes before the morning prayer, the warden of the mosque in Sofia was cruelly beaten. Unknown people have jumped over the fence of the mosque, beaten the keeper, destroyed the security room and burst into the mosque," says the statement. The man was found by worshippers who came to the mosque for the morning prayer, covered in blood and unconcious, it said. He has been taken to the emergency Pirogov hospital. "Hate crimes, acts of xenophobia and Islamophobia have risen dramatically in recent months," says the statement of the Chief Mufti's Office. Bulgaria's Interior Ministry has issued no official information about the incident so far. The news comes just a month after a Muslim man and five policemen were hurt in clashes between supporters of Bulgaria's ultra-nationalist Ataka party and worshippers outside the Banya Bashi mosque in Sofia on May 20. The incident was condemned by authorities and human rights groups as an example of a worrying escalation of xenophobia and religious hatred.
© Novinite



Muslim leaders across London are on high alert after fake anthrax was posted to five mosques by suspected far-Right extremists.

17/6/2011- Detectives from Scotland Yard's Counter Terrorism Command are investigating after imams at the mosques received bags of white powder. One package, sent to the Finsbury Park mosque, also contained "evil drawings" of the Prophet Mohammed similar to cartoons published in Denmark. The Evening Standard understands up to five other mosques in pockets of extremism outside London - thought to be Luton and Birmingham - were targeted in the past 10 days. Scotland Yard is so concerned about the threat to community cohesion that it has sent a warning to more than 200 mosques in the capital. An email from the Association of Muslim Police warns staff to avoid touching any mail they deem suspicious. It says: "The inquiry relates to suspicious but non-hazardous packages sent to mosques. Inquires are ongoing and no arrests have been made at this stage. We recognise the distress and disruption caused by such incidents and will continue to investigate them, and any others which come to light, robustly. "Anyone receiving an item they think is suspicious should treat it seriously and follow the following advice: Call 999; 1. Do not touch or handle it any further; 2. Remain calm; 3. Move everyone away to a safe distance; 4. Safely communicate instructions to staff and public; 5. Ensure that whoever found the item or witnessed the incident remains on hand to brief the police." Detectives are studying hours of CCTV footage as many of the packages did not have stamps and are thought to have been hand-delivered to the mosques. Some of the mosques were evacuated while specialist officers in protective suits checked the suspect material.

When a package arrived at the Finsbury Park mosque last Thursday, police closed the building and surrounding roads for four hours. Ahmed Saad, the imam at the mosque, told the Evening Standard: "Our security guard was in the office when I opened the letter and he called the police right away. "He told me to wash my hands and face just in case the powder was dangerous. The police arrived with ambulances and evacuated the building. "It could have been anything in the envelope, my first thought was that it could be anthrax, or it could be some kind of [other] poison. "It was very frightening. Something like this should not happen, we live in a multi-cultural society." Mohammed Kozbar, the manager of the mosque, said: "We often get a lot of malicious communications but this is worse than anything that happened before. The envelope also had nasty, devil, evil drawings of the Prophet Mohammed and Muslim women in hijab clothing. "It is very bad - we have worked hard to change the culture of the mosque since the case of Abu Hamza [the extremist former imam]. These racists won't succeed and we will carry on with our work." In 2005, a Danish newspaper published 12 offensive cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. The row triggered protests across the world and led to the bombing of the Danish embassy in Pakistan. Mr Kozbar believes the package was sent by someone with far-Right views. A BNP spokesman said: "We are in the political business now and we certainly do not indulge in any activity of that sort." Scotland Yard said "no line of enquiry had been ruled out". Meanwhile, a counter-extremism group has warned British Muslims could also end up victims. Ghaffar Hussain of Quilliam, a counter-extremism thinktank, said: "This is a reminder that British Muslims can also be victims of extremism and intolerance."

The History of the Finsbury Park Mosque
Prince Charles opened the Finsbury Park mosque in 1994 to serve the large Muslim population in north London. However, it soon gained notoriety when its members appointed Abu Hamza al-Masri as imam in 1996. The notorious hook-handed cleric used his position to spread messages of hate and his violent sermons have been linked to several Al Qaeda terrorists, including "shoe-bomber" Richard Reid and 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui. In 2003, more than 100 armed police raided the Finsbury Park mosque during an investigation into the alleged Wood Green ricin plot. And three of the 7/7 bombers - Jermaine Lindsay, Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer - also attended sermons given by Abu Hamza prior to their Tube attack in 2005. In April, leaked Wikileaks documents revealed American intelligence chiefs once believe Finsbury Park mosque to be a "haven for Islamic extremists from Morocco and Algeria" and "an attack planning and propaganda production base". New leadership took over the mosque when Abu Hamza was eventually jailed for inciting murder and race hate in 2006. Despite working hard to rebuild its battered public image, its chequered past means Finsbury Park mosque remains a prized target of Islamophobes. Last July, it was the victim of another attack when vandals mounted a pig's head on its gates.

Comment: by Ghaffar Hussain head of outreach at Quilliam, a counter-extremism thinktank based in London
Although the suspicious packages recently sent to a number of London mosques fortunately turned out to be harmless, they are a reminder that British Muslims can also be victims of extremism and intolerance. While newspaper headlines focus on the threat of Islamist terrorism, far-right extremists in London and elsewhere in the UK are posing an increasing threat, both to Muslims and to wider society. The recent packages sent to mosques are not one-off incidents; they are part of a clear trend of attacks aimed at intimidating British Muslims. Last year, a pig's head was dumped in Finsbury Park Mosque, one of those targeted in the latest anthrax scare. In March, a gang of six men shouting anti-Muslim slogans tried to break into another mosque in Redbridge as local Muslims were preparing for their evening prayers. The men threw bricks at worshippers and attacked nearby cars before being arrested. And only last month in Lancashire two men went on trial for daubing racist graffiti on a local mosque in Lancashire. Britain's minority communities have been subjected to racist acts since the 1960s. However, these new attacks are the result of far-right groups like the British National Party (BNP) focusing their attention less on race and more on religion. As racism becomes less and less acceptable in society, they think that attacking and scapegoating Muslims is an easy way to win new supporters - particular in view of widespread (and often legitimate) fears about Islamist terrorism and extremism. Attacking people because of their religion is not and can never be acceptable. British society needs to stand firm both against religious extremists and against those who incite hatred against people simply because of their religion.
© The Evening Standard



17/6/2011- Tough new laws to tackle the "ugly manifestation" of football-related sectarianism could see offenders jailed for five years. The draft legislation, published today, seeks to create two new offences relating to behaviour which can "incite religious, racial or other forms of hatred" in and around football grounds and on the internet. If approved, the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill, will mean bigots will face up to five years in prison and the prospect of a football banning order. Existing law sees people who disrupt football matches charged with breach of the peace, which carries a maximum one-year sentence. However the Bill includes behaviour deemed to be threatening, abusive, disorderly or offensive. Online hate crime, such as abusive or offensive comments posted on Twitter, is also included and carries the same five-year maximum jail term. Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, Community Safety Minister Roseanna Cunningham said: "This Bill is a fairly short, sharp Bill, which is creating two new criminal offences, one of which is directed very much at activity in and around, and related to, football matches but not absolutely confined to the grounds, and the second offence will deal with the problem of the threatening communications which we began to see an upsurge in a couple of months ago. "The Bill is a direct response to what we saw happening towards the end of the football season and that is why we want to have it in place before the start of the new football season." The Offensive Behaviour In Football And Threatening Communications Bill could be passed by MSPs before they go on summer recess. It comes in the wake of several high-profile football-related incidents.

Recent problems have seen two men appear in court after suspected parcel bombs were sent to Celtic manager Neil Lennon and two other high-profile supporters of the club in March. Ms Cunningham added: "This is only a piece of legislation dealing with a very ugly manifestation of it (sectarianism) we saw in Scotland in the last few months. "Sectarianism in the wider sense will take a great deal more work right across the board and that work will be continuing." Concerns have been raised that the legislation is being rushed through the Scottish Parliament. Church of Scotland Moderator the Reverend David Arnott said: "Whilst we are not against the ideas in this Bill, we remain unconvinced of the wisdom of this approach. "The speed at which it is being rushed through means it appears to lack scrutiny and clarity." owever, Ms Cunningham said ministers felt they had to move quickly to deal with the issue. She said: " We saw a very ugly situation developing towards the end of the last football season, very ugly - an image of Scotland going around the world which we really, really do not want to see continuing. "We felt as a Government that we had to move fast to tackle some of that in its specifics while we dealt with the broader problem throughout society." Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan welcomed the Bill. He said: "In particular, we are pleased to see that it covers sectarian and other forms of unacceptable chanting and threatening behaviour. "As we approach the start of a new season, it is important we look forward with anticipation and excitement. Football is this country's national sport and we all have a responsibility to ensure that entertainment replaces aggravation and that a family atmosphere is generated inside our grounds instead of a hostile one.

"As part of our new strategic plan, the SFA has developed a Scotland United philosophy and it is our wish that everyone involved in the game in this country - the league bodies, supporters, clubs and media - embraces that ethos." However, the Law Society of Scotland said the Bill is being pushed through Parliament too quickly and that the resulting lack of scrutiny may create legislation that is open to successful challenge. Bill McVicar, convener of the society's criminal law committee, said: "We understand the importance of tackling sectarianism. This is a very serious issue and one that needs both attention and action from our political leaders. "However, it is because of the importance of this issue that the Scottish Government needs to allow adequate time to ensure the legislation can be properly scrutinised. "It is particularly vital for sufficient time to be allowed at stage one, the evidence gathering stage, for proper public consultation."
© The Independent



14/6/2011- The number of cases of religious hate crime recorded in Edinburgh has soared to an all-time high. New figures show that in 2010-11, Lothian and Borders Police reported 66 charges involving religious aggravation to the procurator fiscal, compared with 38 the previous year and just 14 when figures were first compiled in 2003-04. Labour described the rise as alarming, though police said they believed it at least partly reflected an increase in awareness of the problem and a greater willingness to report incidents. Across Scotland, there were a total of 693 charges that included a religious aggravation element in 2010-11. The vast majority - 548 - were in the Strathclyde area, although there is no breakdown on how many involved incidents between Old Firm fans. Lothian and Borders said most of the cases they dealt with involved verbal abuse in the street and the vast majority occurred in Edinburgh rather than other parts of the force area.

Scottish Labour's justice spokesman, James Kelly, said: "The sharp rise in religious aggravated offences is alarming. It is shameful that in the 21st century people are being persecuted because of their religion. "The police must remain vigilant to track down those committing such offences. We must work with all groups in the community to create a more tolerant society." Police said they believed religious hate crime had previously been under-reported and they hoped the figures reflected the effort they had put into raising awareness, not least in the run-up to the Pope's visit last year. But they made no link between Benedict XVI's high-profile visit to Edinburgh and the apparent increase in religious hate crimes. Religious prejudice has been an aggravating offence since 2003 and courts are obliged to take it into account when sentencing.

The latest figures cover a period immediately before the revelations that Celtic manager Neil Lennon, his QC Paul McBride and Celtic-supporting former MSP Trish Godman had been sent potentially lethal homemade letter bombs. A police spokeswoman said: "Lothian and Borders Police treat any reports of hate crime extremely seriously. The increase in reported crime is encouraging and could be attributed to the confidence victims now have in coming forward. "We work closely with various partner agencies and all groups within our communities to reduce the number of hate-crime incidents across the force area."
© The Edinburgh Evening News



Islamophobic attacks have been on the rise, with an increase in assaults, vandalised mosques and desecrated graves

12/6/2011- Britain's largest mainstream Muslim organisation will today call for "robust action" to combat Islamophobic attacks amid fears of growing violence and under-reporting of hate crimes. The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) will challenge the "ethnic profiling" of members of its community, claiming that minorities are 42 times more likely to be targeted under the Terrorism Act. MCB secretary-general Farooq Murad will tell the council's AGM in Birmingham that there must be more monitoring of anti-Muslim crimes in response to incidents including violent assaults, death threats and the desecration of graves. He will also complain that not enough is being done to encourage communities to report crimes to the police.

The calls, supported by leading academics, a counter-terrorist think-tank and Muslim groups, come as the Metropolitan Police confirmed a total of 762 Islamophobic offences in London since April 2009, including 333 in 2010/11 and 57 since this April. A spokesman said the Met was aware of "significant" under-reporting of hate crime, and acknowledged "missed opportunities" to keep victims safe. Despite rising concerns about the impact of hate crime on all communities, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) said that data on such offences are not collated centrally as this would be an "overly bureaucratic process for local forces". Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris, who leads the police on hate crime, was unavailable for comment.

In his speech, Mr Murad is expected to warn that attacks are increasing. "Islamophobic attacks, on persons and properties, are committed by a tiny minority, but the number of incidents is increasing. Robust action is necessary and this means we must have a systematic manner of recording, monitoring and analysing such attacks. Only a small number of police forces record anti-Muslim hate crimes." He will claim that figures collated from only two police forces indicate 1,200 Anti-Muslim crimes in 2010, as opposed to 546 anti-Semitic crimes from all the police forces in the UK. Muslims from across the country have reported attacks on imams and mosque staff, including petrol bombings and bricks thrown through windows, pigs' heads being fixed prominently to entrances and minarets, vandalism and abusive messages. Mr Murad will tell the gathering at the Bordesley Centre: "It is not a piece of cloth on someone's head or face, the shape of someone's dress, a harmless concrete pillar on a religious building or even not speaking a common language that creates alienation."

Dr Robert Lambert, co-director of the European Muslim Research Centre and research fellow at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, Exeter University, said a decade of research will report before the 10th anniversary of 11 September. His report will provide comprehensive figures on attacks on mosques, Islamic organisations and Muslim institutions, while avoiding confusion over race-related or random attacks. Dr Lambert, a former counter-terrorism police officer, said problems over data collection stemmed from a lack of political will, rather than from the police efforts – and that the onus was on Muslim communities to emulate the "outstanding" data collection around anti-Semitic crimes conducted by the Community Security Trust. He added: "When I was working in the police, some of the notable spikes in incidents came after terrorist events such as 9/11 and 7/7. We have more than 50 incidences of fire-bomb attacks and we have yet to reach the 10-year anniversary. But no leading politician has seen fit to stand shoulder to shoulder with mosque leaders. That is quite something."

Ghaffar Hussain of the counter-extremism think-tank Quilliam said: "Anti-Muslim bigotry is very real. It does exist. There are sections of our society who are deeply suspicious of Muslims, even of Muslims building mosques, and are threatened by the idea of Islamification across Europe." Some 40 to 60 per cent of the mosques, Islamic centres and Muslim organisations in the UK have suffered at least one attack since 9/11. Taji Mustafa, spokesman for Hizb ut-Tahrir in Britain, said: "Xenophobic attacks on Muslims have increased under successive governments. In a manipulative alliance with some sections of the media, they have demonised Islam as part of their foreign policy propaganda."

Case study: Community leader and diversity trainer
Mohammed Khaliel, 48, lives in High Wycombe and was among horrified families who discovered Muslim graves at a local cemetery had been desecrated on 20 April  "I am the community representative, but, equally, I'm a victim of it as well. My mother had been buried there four weeks earlier. This is not the first time that there has been desecration. This time it was much more severe, with more than 25 graves attacked. I've got photographic evidence of someone hammering them. It was a proper effort to deliberately do it. It was pure hatred. You have a graveyard that is 200 years old that has a small section for Muslims, and only that section was attacked. It was clearly Islamophobia. I'm on a number of advisory boards, including Scotland Yard, so I get notified as a courtesy on any Islamic issues relating to the community. On this one, they asked me to sit down before they told me. A lot of the relatives belong to our mosque. We called an emergency meeting, and we had to calm people down. There was a stage at which, if we had not handled things properly, it could have turned into an expression of anger. But that didn't discount the hurt they felt for [their] loved ones to be attacked like that."
© The Independent



Police have filed charges against scores of people after violence marred the first ever gay pride parade in the Croatian coastal city of Split at the weekend.

13/6/2011- Police arrested scores of people accused of causing incidents during the first gay pride parade in Split on Saturday, and have pressed charges against more than 150 protesters. Eight persons were injured in the violence, which comes one day after the European Commission gave the go-ahead for Croatia's path towards EU membership. According to police estimates, the gay pride parade brought together 150 participants at the city's main Riva waterfront promenade, while nearby streets were packed with 10,000 people, with 8,000 of them protesting against the event. The police reported that anti-parade protesters threw stones, shoes, paint, tomatoes and a gas mask at the parade. Commenting on the injuries caused by the violence, the police said that reporters and police officers sustained injures, as well as one anti-parade protester while he was being apprehended. After the parade, police drove the participants in police cars to a bus which took them to their homes.

Officials in Zagreb, including Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor and President Ivo Josipovic, condemned the violence in Split, and praised police for protecting the parade participants. Josipovic said that the violence showed that "shown that there are some non-European parts of our society", while insisting that this was not the real face of Croatia. Kosor said that the violence is "something that cannot be tolerated in Croatia". The organisers of the event, meanwhile, have vowed to press charges themselves against the anti-gay rioters and local authorities, and called on the country's Interior Minister, Tomislav Karamarko, to resign over the violence. While Zagreb has prided itself on holding the only annual gay pride parade in the Balkans, the events in Split are reminiscent of violent attacks against gay pride events in other cities in the Balkans.

Montenegro recently cancelled plans to hold the country's first ever gay pride parade in Podgorica on May 31, after attacks against the event's organisers in the weeks before it was to take place. Belgrade's pride parade in October last year, which was the city's first since 2001, was marred by violence. Anti-gay protesters fought running street battles with police during and after the parade, and the marchers were eventually escorted by police vehicles to the city's student cultural centre. The pride parades are important tests for the countries in the region, which are under pressure to prove that they can protect and respect human and minority rights as they aim for greater integration into the EU.
© Balkan Insight



11/6/2011- A dozen people, four of them journalists, were injured on Saturday in scuffles during the first gay rights march in the Croatian coastal town of Split, national television reported,as quoted by AFP. Around two hundred people took part in the Gay Pride parade under heavy special police protection but some 10,000 opponents of the event hurled stones, bottles, bricks, cigarette lighters and other objects at them, the television said. Participants of the march had to be evacuated by police vehicles. Several dozen people were detained before and around 100 after the march, which police called a high-risk event in the southern town known as a stronghold of conservative nationalists. Sanja Juras of Kontra lesbian association accused police of not acting adequately to prevent violence.

"Today's gathering in Split showed that in Croatia, the right to chose homosexuality is not guaranteed and that there is no rule of law," she said. Meanwhile, Amnesty International and Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) condemned the violence and said police had failed to protect the participants. "The police have to make absolutely clear that discriminatory violence is a criminal offence and will not be tolerated," the Amnesty statement said. The world's leading human rights organisation called on Croatian authorities to "act to stop this happening in the future". The HND said it was shocked by "today's homophobic violence in Split", adding that "obviously poorly prepared police could not prevent it". Noting that a RTL television cameraman, hit in the head with a stone, suffered brain concussion, the HND "voiced regret that an event that should have shown the maturity of democracy in Croatia, due to giving in to bullies, was not a full success".

Croatia's first Gay Pride parade was held in the capital Zagreb in 2002, but more than a dozen participants were beaten up afterwards. Since then, parades have been held in Zagreb annually without major incidents, but always under heavy security. The Croatian capital is to host another Gay Pride parade on June 18. Croatia's society is still largely conservative and the powerful Roman Catholic Church has publicly branded homosexuality a "handicap" and a "perversion". Almost 88 percent of the former Yugoslav republic's population of 4.4 million are Roman Catholics.


The Internet and social media networks are not under any sort of inspection against racist ideas, hate or abusive speech in the name of freedom of surfing the Web.

12/6/2011- Whilst the rise of the Internet and social networking websites has, in many ways, presented many positives for society, particularly in terms of freedom of speech and communication, it has also created a platform on which abusive and threatening opinions can be more easily voiced, in particular against certain individuals or groups of people, which is often referred to as hate speech. Despite hate speech being restricted to the act of verbal abuse, some experts are worried by its tendency to develop into something more serious, falling under the bracket of hate crime. A hate crime is a criminal offense motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a victim's race, ethnic origin, religion or beliefs, sexual orientation or disability. This kind of crime may include robberies, threats, harassment, intimidation or actual acts of physical violence such as physical assault, sexual assault, rape, torture, attempted murder or murder. Hate crimes are unique as they have a social undertone in their aim. They are intent on sending a message to entire groups or individuals, as well as to their families and other supporters, that they are unwelcome in particular communities. What sets hate crimes apart from other acts of violence is the psychological damage that they leave behind. Although any type of victimization carries with it psychological consequences, certain types of emotional reactions are more frequent among survivors of hate crimes. These feelings include depression, anxiety, fear, stress and anger.

The Internet and social media networks are not under any sort of inspection against racist ideas, hate or abusive speech in the name of freedom of surfing the Web. The news that features on media outlets are getting onto social networking websites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, where hate speeches are added and uploaded. Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, who was fatally shot in front of the headquarters of the bilingual Armenian weekly Agos in 2007, was one of the biggest victims of hate crime in Turkey as he was killed only because of his "Armenian" identity. Forty-eight Roma from 13 families were forced to leave Selendi in Manisa, where they had lived for many years, after clashes erupted between the district's Roma population and other locals. These two examples show how serious these hate crimes can be. An organization named the Association for Social Change (ASC) is currently the only association that solely deals with every aspect of hate crime. Their slogan is "Hate Crimes Kill."

In an interview with Cihan new agency, ASC's secretary-general, Fikret Levent ªensever, stated that there are various organizations that are working against hate crimes, such as the International Hrant Dink Foundation. ªensever said that hate speech on online community and social networking websites strongly influences hate crimes. "We have to differentiate hate crime and hate speech first. Hate crimes are physical crimes against individuals or groups of people, based on many aspects, such as ethnic origin, religious belief and so on. Hate speech is normally only in the form of verbal attacks; however, they can sometimes lead to hate crimes, too." Currently there is no legislation about hate crimes in the Turkish Constitution. Though there are some articles in the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), as they do not directly cover hate crime or hate speech, criminal cases on such issues are not solved as they are in European countries and criminals generally get away with what they have done.

Hate speech does not only declare one's hate or anger, but also sets a premise for hate crime. ªensever stated that the Turkish government should take immediate action in creating legislation on hate crime and inform and train judicators, attorneys, police officers and civil societies. ªensever told Cihan news agency, the government in the United Kingdom trains media personnel on discrimination issues to prevent any sort of racism or hate crimes, and they also provide booklets and newsletters concerning hate crime. ªensever said the ASC was founded on Feb. 26, 2009 by activists in order to carry out various campaigns on social, cultural and environmental issues, and to support such efforts through projects and campaigns. He also mentioned that there were not many organizations that are dealing with hate crime in Turkey. "In Western countries, especially in the United States, the government produces reports on hate crime every year. However, this is not the case in our country. So far there have been no reports on hate crimes in Turkey, so we do not know which segments of society are victims of hate speech," he said.
© Cihan news agency


Headlines 10 June, 2011


An ethnic Greek leader in the southeastern city of Korca was sentenced to one year in prison on Thursday, after a judge found him guilty of desecrating ethnic Albanian graves.

9/6/2011- Naum Disho, the head of the Greek minority organisation Omonia in Korca, was tried together with two local workers from the village of Boboshtice, Alqi Koroveshi and Luan Zace, who were each handed a 18-month suspended sentence. Disho and the two workers had been accused by prosecutors of desecrating graves in the cemetery of the village of Boboshtica, while carrying out repair works to a memorial to Greek soldiers who died during World War Two. Disho has rejected the sentence, calling it ‘politically motivated,’ local media reported. The sentence comes as Albania’s right-wing parties and Greek minority politicians continue to exchange jibes over the postponement of the national census, which includes a contested question on ethnicity and religion. Estimates of the Greek minority in Albania range from two to three per cent of the total population, with most concentrated in the south of the country. The census, which was scheduled to start on April 1, was postponed to later this year after becoming the target of outrage from an amalgam of civil society groups and politicians, which are concerned about calculating ethnicity through self-declaration. Critics say the census question that asks for the voluntary declaration of nationality would artificially increase the numbers of the ethnic Greek minority in southern Albania. They argue that Athens has been offering pensions and travel benefits to Albanians in the country’s south, in order to augment the size of the Greek minority in a plan to extend territorial claims. Greek minority politicians and activists have argued that the ethnicity question in the census is the only way to measure the real size of their community and reject accusations of being Athens’ pariah.

© Balkan Insight



8/6/2011- A human rights worker was hospitalized after being beaten up in his apartment building, an attack his employer said was linked to his work. Bakhrom Khamroyev, a member of leading human rights group Memorial, was walking into the building in southeast Moscow on Monday when a group of strangers attacked him, spraying gas in his face and beating him on the head and legs. Memorial chief Oleg Orlov said Tuesday that the attack was aimed at disrupting Khamroyev's upcoming trip to Murmansk, where he had arranged a meeting with an Uzbek citizen threatened with extradition for purportedly taking part in Islamist militant activities, RIA-Novosti reported. "Memorial believes the attack on Bakhrom Khamroyev was planned in advance and prepared as a trap," Memorial said in a statement. "In December last year, an attack was carried out on Khamroyev. A criminal case was opened, but until today no one has been called to take responsibility." Orlov said Khamroyev was attacked by security forces in December when he was working on a similar case involving the arrest of suspected militants from Central Asia. The head of Amnesty International's Russia division, Sergei Nikitin, called on authorities to find and punish those responsible for the beating. "We hope a serious investigation will be carried out and that the guilty are punished," he said. Police said Tuesday that they were looking for the attackers.
© The Moscow Times



The city officials in Oslo who ordered a report on racism and anti-Semitism in Oslo schools say they’ve been shocked by its findings: Jewish children report the most harassment, while religious racism appears widespread.

8/6/2011- The report, conducted by analysis firm Perduco for the City of Oslo, questioned 7,212 students chosen at random from among 48 schools in the eighth to 10th grades. The response, with fully 78 percent of the students answering the questions posed, revealed a worrisome degree of harassment based on religion or nationality: 15 percent of the students reported having experienced one or more incidents of harassment based on their nationality. Nearly 7 percent said they were harassed at least two to three times every month. Students with ethnic Norwegian background were the least harassed, but the rate of harassment rose in line with the number of non-Norwegian students at their schools.

Most worrisome for school and city officials was the high level of Jewish students, 33 percent, who reported harassment at least two to three times a month. That compares to 5.3 percent of Muslim students who said they’d been harassed. Fully 9 percent of the students responding said they’d been harassed at school because of their religion or faith, while Christians experienced the least harassment. The harassment was reported to have come in the form of negative comments on the social media sites of those who have online profiles. Some were told their photos were “ugly” and others said their identities had been manipulated or wrongfully used. The digital mobbing was evenly spread between racist and anti-Semitic comments.

More than half of the students, 52 percent, said they’d experienced that the word jøde (Jew) was used to describe something negative. Fully 41 percent confirmed having heard jokes about Jews at school and 35 percent had noticed generally negative commentaries on Jews. As many as 5 percent had heard other students deny that the Holocaust occurred during World War II. On a brighter note, 63 percent of the students responded that it was good that a wide variety of nationalities and religions is now found in Norway, but far fewer said they wished they had more friends with backgrounds different from their own.

City government leader Stian Berger Røsland, who was among those ordering the overview after Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported on anti-Semitism in the schools last winter, said he was shocked and deeply disturbed by the findings. “Here are young children who experience being harassed,” Røsland told NRK. “It’s heartbreaking and intolerable.” Both Røsland and education officials said teaching plans would be changed to demand more knowledge and sharing of understanding of anti-Semitism and religious racism, starting in the fifth grade or earlier. “Respect, tolerance, equality and inclusion must be made crystal clear in the schools’ educational program,” said director Astrid Søgnen of the city’s department of education.
© Views and News from Norway



5/6/2011- Approximately 50 aggressive neo-Nazis attempted to attack the second annual Rainbow Parade in support of gay and lesbian rights yesterday in Bratislava. About 1 500 people participated in the parade. The event started at 13:00 on Hviezdoslavova námìstí, where the first 400 people gathered. The site resembled an impregnable fortress, as barriers had been erected on every side and police officers, including riot units, defended the peaceful gathering from neo-Nazis. A small group of extremists attempted to protest directly on the square. Right-wing radicals wearing "Slovenská pospolitost" ("Slovak Solidarity") t-shirts and dark-colored clothing held a banner reading "For the traditional family, against deviation" and featuring the logo of the People's Party - Our Slovakia (Lidová strana - Naše Slovensko).
Rainbow Parade participants held banners reading "Hate is not a family value" or "I'm the pink sheep of the family." Slogans such as "End homophobia in Slovakia!" resounded from the loudspeakers. The march left the square and headed through the Old Town across the New Bridge (Nový most) to the Petržalka quarter. The numbers of participants gradually increased and separated into two parts on the Tyršov embankment. The first got on buses to go to after-parties in various parts of the city, while the second headed for a boat where a party was also taking place. As the march proceeded beneath the New Bridge, an approximately 50-member group of neo-Nazis attempted to attack the peaceful march with smoke bombs, but police immediately dispersed them. Bratislava Police detained at least 42 people, including 26 of those who did their best to disturb the march beneath the New Bridge.

People from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and other European countries participated in the march. Many were wrapped in enormous rainbow flags. During the program, singer Aneta Langerová also performed. She admitted Slovakia is much more conservative and prudish in this area than the Czech Republic. "Some of that may have to do with the fact that there are still not many laws about human rights for homosexuals. I believe those are basic things which should have been instituted a long time ago and which we do have in Bohemia. We are probably ahead of Slovakia in that respect, and that was even more a reason to come here," Langerová said after her performance. She recently admitted to being in a relationship with a woman herself. The embassies of the Netherlands, Norway and the USA sent representatives to the event. Mayor Ftáènik, Slovak government politicians, Slovak MEP Monika Flašíková-Beòová and her husband Fedor Flašík, Austrian MEP Ulrike Lunacek and Netherlands MEP Marije Cornelissen greeted the marchers.

Last year, during the first-ever Slovak Rainbow Parade, neo-Nazis organized a counter-action on the day of the march and attacked its participants. Organizers had to change their entire program, canceling their planned march through the center of Bratislava and changing the route to pass through a different part of the city. Right-wing radicals shouted abusive slogans at the approximately 500-strong march and threw smoke bombs and stones into the crowd.
© Romea



4/6/2011- Four Molotov cocktails were thrown at the mosque in Enkhuizen Alaattin. Süleyman Yapici, Secretary of the Islamic Foundation Yapici Enkhuizen,  said. At this time the police doesn't want to confirm nor deny. In the night of Wednesday to Thursday a fire broke out at the site of the mosque on the Tureluurshof. Only garden furniture was damaged. The police investigated the fire on Ascension Day, therefore the mosque was closed to the public during the day, but is now back open. According to Süleyman Yapici, the fire was caused by a Molotov cocktail. "It rolled from the roof onto the ground, where it set the garden furniture on fire It was a bottle of gasoline or other flammable material." According Yapici another three Molotov cocktails were found. "They were trown against the front of the building, but bounced of it without thrown against the wall, without igniting. It is not a stone building, he explains. The fire occurred after the last user had left the mosque. According to Yapici nothing like this has happened before. "In the past sometimes eggs were thrown at the mosque, but this is something else". In the interest of the investigation police spokesman Menno Hartbergare wants to say about the attempted arson. Therefore he did not want to confirm that Molotov cocktails were the cause or where they would be thrown from. However, the investigation has high priority for the police. Deputy mayor Henry Boland is also shocked by the incident. "We now want to wait and see what comes out the police investigation into the trace evidence. As long as it is not clear where this comes from, it is also difficult to take action, said Boland.

Noordhollands Dagblad Translated by Suzette Bronkhorst for I CARE News
© Noordhollands Dagblad (Dutch)


Headlines 3 June, 2011


3/6/2011- An incident took place in the center of Kiev: a group of excited persons in an ugly mood tried to injure one of the management executives (a lady) of one of the Polish Companies handling the Polish and Ukrainian preparations for Euro 2012. With shouts of "Jews, large numbers of Jews are coming" they attacked Irina Kotlyarevskaya, the CEO of the Polish Company, Iris Consulting Group. They shouted - "Jews, we haven't finished with you yet" The Police came to Irina's rescue when a Kiev Police Patrol quickly arrived in a flash and succeeded in identifying one of the assailants. Kotlyarevskaya, is well known for her leadership role in several Jewish educational programs in the Diaspora. At present, she is playing a leading role in an advertising campaign in one of the regions being conducted by Poland and Ukraine in the countries of the European Union, as part of the Euro 2012 tournament. A tourist from New York, Emanuel Klein, who had already experienced two attacks in Kiev, said: "if you are a person with clearly Jewish features, from Europe or from Israel, you would be better off not participating in Euro 2012".
© The Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism



3/6/2011- Verkhovna Rada Chairman Volodymyr Lytvyn has proposed creating a central state register of hate crimes, which will be accessible to everybody. "First and foremost, we need to create a central state register of hate crimes," he said at a meeting of the Council of Regions in Livadia, Crima, on Friday. Lytvyn also noted that first steps on the creation of such a register had already been taken by the Security Service of Ukraine and the Interior Ministry. He said that "this register should be public, so that there are grounds to make assessments, including during political campaigns, so that it is an institution of civil society, and so that the public can offer their comments."
© The Kyiv Post



1/6/2011- Police are investigating an attack on the entrance to the historic synagogue in the Croatian city of Split, on the Adriatic coast. Unidentified persons covered the walls, doors and the information plaque around the entrance to the synagogue and Jewish community office with spray painted anti-Semitic and xenophobic graffiti including swastikas and slogans, during the night of May 29-30. Some of the slogans were directed toward political figures and the European Union, and scrawled 'signatures' included the supporters of the local soccer club Hajduk and an extreme right-wing radical Croatian party. A statement by the Jewish community released after the incident said the graffiti differed from other such instances in the city by "the larger quantity of graffiti and hatred emanating from them." "Good will, ability and efficiency of the relevant authorities to find the vandals as promptly as possible and punish them appropriately with educational effects will provide an insight in how much such incidents represent acts of an individual, and how much they reflect a more general attitude of the society," the statement added.
© JTA News



28/5/2011- A rabbi's home has been targeted in a series of suspected anti-Semitic attacks. Rocks have been thrown through the windows of Rabbi Shmuli Pink's house in Leicester, where he lives with his wife Rivkie and their seven children. A brick was also thrown through the window of his car, parked outside his home near the Orthodox Jewish synagogue in Highfield Street, Highfields. Rabbi Pink, who leads the city's 400- strong Orthodox Jewish community, said: "It has been an unpleasant experience but we have got the support of other faith groups and we are working very closely with the police. Police are investigating the attacks which happened on May 7, May 20 and May 21, all late at night or in the early hours. They say they are treating the incidents as religiously motivated because of Rabbi Pink's "position in the community". Councillor Manjula Sood, chairman of the Leicester Council of Faiths, said she was extremely disturbed by the attacks. She said: "This is completely unacceptable. It should not happen anywhere and especially not in our city, where we pride ourselves on the good relations that exist between faiths. "Attacks on one religion are attacks on all religions and I hope the police are able to catch the people responsible. I have met the family and they are good people who do not deserve what has happened."

On two occasions the family was at home when the vandals struck. Lawrence Jacobs, the synagogue's security officer, said: "When you have three attacks in as many weeks there is a reason for that and it looks like they were religiously motivated. "We have no idea at all who has done it. These attacks were frightening for the children in the house at the time. "We are very happy with the police response and we hope those responsible will be caught. The police are treating it with a lot of gravity." Councillor Jeffrey Kaufman, president of the Leicester Progressive Jewish Congregation, said: "I deplore any kind of attack on someone that happens because of their religion. "I am proud of this city and its tolerance, so incidents like these are all the more upsetting. It is true that there has been a rise in anti-Semitic attacks in recent years, however." He said the Community Support Trust, which campaigns against anti-Semitism and offers security advice to Jewish communities, had been informed. Inspector Shane O'Neill, commander of Spinney Hill Park police station said: "We are treating these incidents as religiously motivated due to the victim's position in the community and believe that the incidents are isolated. "We are working closely with the family, the community and other agencies to resolve this to everyone's satisfaction. If there is anyone who has any information regarding these crimes, we would urge them to contact police immediately."
© this is Leicestershire


1/6/2011- Eleven people, including an Armenian, were killed and at least 55 were injured in racist and neo-Nazi attacks in Russia in 2011. Monitoring results by Russia-based SOVA center show that at least nine people were affected in May, one of them, citizen of Armenia, was killed in Moscow region. The list posted on website of Russian Justice Ministry involves 22 racist and neo-Nazi organizations.
© News Armenia



28/5/3011- Amid shouts from gangs of men and threats of beatings, police officers arrested more than a dozen gay rights activists, including a few foreigners, who attempted to hold a rally in Moscow on Saturday. Among the arrested were Dan Choi, an American Iraq war veteran and gay rights campaigner, and Andy Thayer, a Chicago-based activist, who were in Moscow to support the rally. They were later released. “Right ear ringing, small bleeding,” Mr. Choi wrote in a text message shortly after he was grabbed by several police officers and shoved into a police van. Other activists reported minor injuries from scuffles with the police and other unidentified men. The Moscow authorities, who rarely tolerate antigovernment demonstrations, have vowed never to allow Russia’s small community of gay rights activists to hold a rally in the capital, though similar events have been permitted in St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city. Last year, the European Court of Human Rights fined Russia more than $40,000 for its refusal to allow gay rights supporters to hold peaceful demonstrations in Moscow. This year’s rally was banned, nevertheless.

“The Moscow authorities have once again behaved like cavemen,” said Nikolai Alekseyev, the organizer of Saturday’s attempted protest. He said 18 demonstrators had been arrested. By Saturday evening, however, all had been released. The protesters tried to gather amid a group of journalists and police officers just outside the walls of the Kremlin. As soon as they unfurled flags and banners, the officers pounced, hustling the protesters into waiting buses. There were also several groups of men — some wearing fatigues and combat boots, though apparently unaffiliated with the police — who said they had come to disrupt the rally. Chanting “Down with Sodom,” one of the men tore up a photo of Elton John and jumped on it. “This is a protest against perverts,” said Vladislav V. Kuroptev, a member of Union of Orthodox Flag Bearers, a conservative Christian group. “It is a violation of our moral values.” Asked what he planned to do to stop the planned gay rights protest, Mr. Kuroptev said: “We are prepared to use all measures possible.” Several men attempted to kick and punch the gay rights activists before police officers could grab them. In some cases, it looked as if the police were trying to shield the protesters from the violence.

The police said they arrested 18 gay activists and 14 people involved in attacks on the gay rights protesters, though they seemed to do nothing to disrupt several groups of muscle-bound men with shaved heads from chanting slurs against gays.
© The New York Times


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