Headlines 25 November, 2011
POLICE ACCUSE THREE YOUNG ROMA OF RACIAL ATTACK (Czech Rep.)
24/11/2011- The Czech police have accused three 15-year-old Romani men who attacked a young couple in Novy Bor on October 28 of a breach of the peace and a racially-motivated attempt at causing bodily harm, police spokeswoman Ivana Balakova has told CTK. The Roma' attack was one of the reasons for the return of police reinforcements to the town. Balakova said a younger boy also took part in the attack, but he is not criminally liable over his age. The Roma first attacked an 18-year-old young man and afterwards his 15-year-old girl friend. She was attacked by four girls who were accompanying the attackers. They are also younger than 15, therefore they will not be prosecuted. Both victims of the attack ended in hospital. "It was proved during the investigation that the group of teenagers was verbally offending the couple over the colour of skin and race both before the attack and during it," Balakova said. The accused young men face up to two years in prison if found guilty. The situation in Novy Bor worsened in August when a group of local Roma attacked the guests to a bar with machetes and cudgels after a relatively banal incident. The incident resulted in three injuries. Three of the suspects have been caught, another two are prosecuted as fugitive. The extremists Workers' Party of Social Justice (DSSS) staged a march in Novy Bor in reaction to the attack.
© The Prague Daily Monitor
BODY FOUND 'WITH EARS CUT OFF' (Russia)
23/11/2011- A Nigerian man was found stabbed to death in southern Moscow with his ears cut off in a grisly murder, investigators said on Tuesday. The body of the 28-year-old man, named as Akintola Olufemi, was "found with numerous stab wounds and with his ears cut off," lying close to rail tracks, the Investigative Committee wrote in a statement published on its website. The man had been stabbed at least eight times, a spokesperson for the committee, Viktoria Tsyplenkova, told the Interfax news agency. Moskovsky Komsomolets daily reported that the victim was a student in the northern city of Arkhangelsk and that the crime appeared not to have been a robbery as his papers and wallet were left at the scene. Attacks against foreigners of non-European appearance occur regularly in Russia, although the authorities say that numbers have been dropping amid a crackdown on extremist organisations. An NGO that monitors hate crimes, Sova, said in a report released in March that there were 37 hate killings in 2010, while 382 people were injured in attacks with racist or neo-nazi motives.
EIGHT TARCIN CRIMES SUSPECTS ARRESTED (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Eight persons, who are suspected of participating in crimes against civilians and prisoners of war in detention camps and detention buildings in the Tarcin area, were arrested, as per a warrant issued by the State Prosecution.
22/11/2011- After being arrested, Mustafa Djelilovic, Fadil Covic, Mirsad Sabic, Nezir Kazic, Becir Hujic, Halid Covic, Serif Mesanovic and Nermin Kalember, known as Buba, were handed over to a competent State prosecutor, who will examine them and decide whether to file a custody order motion or not. Mustafa Djelilovic, former President of the Municipal Assembly in Hadzici and President of the Crisis Committee and then also the wartime Presidency of Hadzici municipality, is suspected of having participated in crimes against Croat and Serb civilians. Fadil Covic, former Chief of the Public Safety Station in Hadzici, Mirsad Sabic, former active policeman with the Public Safety Station in Hadzici, Nezir Kazic, former Commander of the Ninth Mountain Brigade with the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, are suspected of participating in those same crimes. Becir Hujic, former Manager of “Silos” detention camp, Halid Covic and Serif Mesanovic, former Deputy Managers of the detention camp, and Nermin Kalember, former guard in that detention camp, are suspected of war crimes against the civilian population and prisoners of war.
The eight men are suspected of committing crimes against Serbs and Croats, who were unlawfully held in the “Silos” detention camp in Tarcin, as well as detention facilities in the “9. maj” school building in Pazaric and detention camp in “Krupa” military barracks warehouse. The State Prosecution alleges that many civilians and prisoners of war were unlawfully detained in those building, where they were subjected to inhumane treatment, torture, intentional causing of severe bodily and mental pain and suffering, while also being deprived of the right to a fair trial and forced to perform hard labour. “The mentioned actions led to the death of several people,” the Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina says. In addition to the arrests, as per a warrant issued by the Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the search of seven locations was conducted with the aim of finding documents and evidence material related to this investigation.
© Balkan Insight
BELGIAN JEWS 'SHOCKED' BY ANTI-SEMITIC ATTACK AGAINST YOUNG GIRL IN BRUSSELS
CCOJB, the umbrella group of Jewish organizations in Belgium, expressed "shock" after an anti-Semitic aggression against a 13-year-old girl last Friday in Brussels.
22/11/2011- Following an altercation at a sport training centre with five classmates from Moroccan origin, Oceane Sluijzer was beaten by the girls who shouted: 'Shut up, you dirty Jew, and return to your country'. In shock, the young Jewish girl filed a complaint with the Brussels police. The attackers have been identified and will be questioned. In a statement, the CCOJB asked the judicial authorities to make sure that the investigation would proceed quickly conducted without delay and said it might file a civil action in this matter. The Jewish group requested from the Belgian French community Education Minister "to introduce appropriate educational programs in schools to prevent un justified tensions between communities." It voiced what it termed the "exasperation" of the Jewish community at the repetition of anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist attacks. As a "moral authority", the central Jewish Consistory, the representative body of Jewish religious congregations in the country, also intervened with the authorities to prevent such acts. Brussels Jewish parliamentarian Viviane Teitelbaum denounced the "silence" of political leaders and most of media after this attack.
© EJP News
HATE SPEECH IS COMMON - STILL NO LAW (Turkey, opinion)
The rhetoric of hate speech was deciphered at a panel discussion on hate speech and freedom of expression. Journalist Öğünç described how hate speech is produced by the media. Prof İnceoğlu emphasized that another communication was possible and Ass. Prof Erdemir mentioned legal aspects.
By Yüce YÖNEY
21/11/2011- "Hate Speech and Freedom of Expression: Can we not say everything we want?" was the title of the first panel discussion as a start of a series of activities at the Meeting Against Hate Crimes in Istanbul on Saturday and Sunday (19/20 November). The meeting took place at the Dolapdere (Istanbul) campus of Bilgi University. The panel discussion was attended by Prof Yasemin İnceoğlu from Galatasaray University; social anthropologist Ass. Prof Aykan Erdemir, Bursa deputy of the Republican People's Party (CHP) and former staff member of the Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ); and journalist Pınar Öğünç from the nation-wide Radikal daily newspaper. İnceoğlu stated at the beginning of her speech that the rhetoric of the media reproduced the rhetoric of the social power. She said that journalists became a part of the social power structure. İnceoğlu considered it a fundamental issue how journalists either reproduced the ideologies they encounter or took a stance against them. She emphasized the importance of how news were being made. The academic said that hate speech was the origin of hate crime. "It can be identified as the expression of intolerance that encourages and paves the way to hate crime. The targeted groups are being told that there is no place for them in society and this message is constantly renewed. This is a deprivation from the fundamental human rights to life and to participation", İnceoğlu explained.
Hate speech - freedom of expression
"The line between hate speech and freedom of expression must be discussed" the academic pointed out and also mentioned criticism that is coming up regarding a violation of freedom of expression and hate speech. "Hate speech has started to be recognized as a crime in member states of the European Union. In the USA on the other hand freedom of expression and press freedom are deemed more important". İnceoğlu continued, "Othering can be seen very obviously in Turkey. We know that we have a media in Turkey that denies humane values to otherised groups and that justifies and legitimizes humiliation and violence inflicted on these groups. You can see hate speech in the headlines frequently".
Another communication is possible
İnceoğlu proposed that hate speech should be reported and monitored. "It is important to decipher [hate speech] in order to create public awareness". She stressed that peace journalism should be made which does not only show two sides of a conflict but also focuses on the results, relations and violence such as experienced traumata. "Terms like tragedy, genocide or massacre should be used sparingly. Demonizing, glorifying or victimizing expressions should not be used".
Law on hate crimes
Ass. Prof Aykan Erdemir gave examples of speeches delivered by deputies in parliament that contained hate speech. He voiced the need for a Law on hate crimes that should cover "race, religion, belief, national origin, sexual orientation, sexual identity, disability and immigration. (...) Hate speech as an unleashing tool for fear should be covered by law". Erdemir called on the government to collect data related to hate crimes. "The state has to take that duty and should give aggravated sentences if any sort of hate crime and incentive to it is being committed". Erdemir also suggested a "sensitivity training". Relations with citizens and public officials should be pluralist and should value equal citizenship. In Erdemir's opinion, a law on hate crimes should include compulsory training on sensitivity for persons who are convicted because they committed hate crimes.
Danger of normalization of hate speech
Journalist Pınar Öğünç highlighted that hate speech in the media lead to increased pressure on certain sections. Öğünç saw the biggest danger in a normalization of hate speech.
Importance of news agency journalists
Öğünç also explained how hate speech creates bias in the media. The choices of the media are being reproduced and the words can be seen in the news written by the local journalist. This, according to Öğünç, also included unnecessarily added information on ethnic origin or on gender orientation. She spoke about hate speech that is being published exclusively by reporters and editors-in-chief who approve their writings. Journalists should be aware of hate speech in news issued by news agencies. The news should then be published by the local journalists by refraining from any hate speech terms. Öğünç emphasized the importance of workshops and studies carried out by non-governmental organizations and academics related to news agency journalists.
© BIA Net
ANTI-GAY BULLYING REPORTS FLOOD IN (Netherlands)
The new homophobic aggression website launched less than a month ago has already received almost 200 reports of anti-gay abuse. The site was created by Dutch gay magazine the Gay Krant.
The magazine’s editor-in-chief Henk Krol says there have been far more reports than he had expected. He says the National Ombudsman and the Public Prosecutor's Office (PPO) have both assured him of their support and cooperation. The PPO says all police forces in the Netherlands will be issued with guidelines to help them deal with homophobic bullying and violence. According to recent research, many lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) youth are bullied at school and some 300,000 adult LGBT people in the Netherlands are not open about their sexual orientation at work because they are afraid of bullying and homophobic abuse.
Suicide rates among LGBT youth are much higher than among their heterosexual counterparts and at least 50 percent have contemplated suicide. Some 25 percent of lesbian girls are believed to attempt suicide – five times the rate among heterosexual girls – and 12.5 percent of gay boys attempt suicide – twice the number of their heterosexual counterparts. The Dutch LGBT rights and advocacy organisation COC has helped to start gay/straight alliances (GSAs) in Dutch schools order to tackle homophobia and improve acceptance of LGBT teens. Dutch GSAs are now in their second year and will hold their 2nd Purple Friday on 9 December. Students wear purple armbands and buttons to draw attention to homophobia. A COC spokesperson said the GSAs are necessary because “at least half of LGBT pupils do not feel safe enough to come out at school and 50 percent of students say they have a problem with homosexuality.”
© Radio Netherlands Worldwide
MINISTERS ACCUSED OF CAUSING FEAR FOR DISABLED PEOPLE (uk)
Labour have accused ministers of making "outrageous and outlandish" comments about the disabled and the feeding the comments to the media.
24/11/2011- Shadow minister for disability issues Anne McGuire singled out the Work Secretary Ian Duncan Smith for attack. She claimed, during a Westminster debate, that media stories based on government briefings were causing "fear and uncertainty" for disabled people. Mr Duncan Smith's department denied ministers were "stigmatising" people. A Department for Work & Pension spokesman said: "We are very conscious of the language we use as it is clear that the system itself has trapped many people in a spiral of welfare dependency. "That is why this government is making such a radical overhaul of the benefits system to restore integrity and ensure that everyone who needs help and support receives it." Mrs McGuire's comments came during a Commons debate on disability hate crime. "The feeding to the media of press releases, distortion of figures, calling into question whether people are really disabled has changed the landscape for disabled people out there," she said. She highlighted a story last month headlined: Parent of a child with ADHD? Have a free car under £1.5bn taxpayer-funded scheme.
Mrs McGuire said that the story - which she said was corrected afterwards after prompting from a disability organisation - had suggested Mr Duncan Smith "was enraged" to be told by his department that there were no precise numbers on how many people with the condition ADHD received free cars. She said such articles were having an effect and pointed to research by the Glasgow Media Group which claimed there had been a significant increase in the use of pejorative language to describe disabled people in the media. The use of terms such as "scrounger", "cheat"' and "skiver" was found in 18% of articles in 2010/11 compared with 12% in 2004/5. The minister for disabled people, Maria Miller, was listening and Mrs McGuire exempted her from any charge of distorting facts about the disabled. But she urged the minister to make sure the "language of moderation" was used when talking about disabled people. "She needs to challenge some of the more outrageous and outlandish comments made by some of her senior colleagues because frankly it is creating an atmosphere out there which is to the greater disadvantage of disabled people and one that is causing fear and uncertainty in their lives." Mrs Miller told her that "any form of discrimination against the disabled is absolutely unacceptable". "Disabled people do not want to be treated as victims," she added. "And our starting point always has to be that we have to be clear that they are adequately protected by the law."
© BBC News
MOSQUE TO BE COVERED BY CCTV CAMERAS FOLLOWING THUGS' ATTACK (uk)
23/11/2011- Llanelli's mosque is set to be covered by CCTV cameras after thugs allegedly "kicked the door in" and followed a group of elderly women inside. A meeting of the Glanymor and Tyisha Safer Communities Action Group heard how women attending the mosque in Station Road had suffered racist abuse, prompting calls for CCTV coverage. The group was concerned to hear that women in particular had been targeted, and welcomed the news that action was to be taken. Following the meeting, press officer for Llanelli's Ethnic Minority Help Association, Anne Stevens-Bevan, said the issue came to a head when a group of elderly women was targeted in September. "There has been a problem there for quite a long time, and on one occasion some thugs went into the mosque after a group of women," she said. "Two thugs came behind the women and they kicked the door in. "The women were frightened, of course. They were very frightened because they are elderly people and they didn't know what would happen. "They are OK now, but I think they will feel safer knowing there will be CCTV."
Mrs Stevens-Bevan said she and others immediately got to work on getting extra CCTV cameras in Station Road so the mosque would be covered 24 hours a day, and was delighted to be told the council and police were looking at installing a mobile camera. "People need to be able to go and practice their faith safely, and as long as I live and breathe I will fight for people to go to their church, chapel, mosque or synagogue," she said. "When elderly ladies are followed into a mosque by gangs and the doors are kicked open it doesn't matter what faith you are, you help. "It was my duty to do this because it is a hate crime. The information we received was that these thugs were going to start there and then move onto the churches." Council community safety manager Kate Thomas said a complaint was received from a resident in relation to an incident at the mosque. "We are now looking at installing one of the mobile cameras there," she added. "We take incidents such as this extremely seriously."
© This is South Wales
FAMILY OF GARY SKELLY CAMPAIGN TO CHANGE HATE CRIME LAW (uk)
The family of a disabled man who died after being punched in Liverpool are calling for a change in the law.
21/11/2011- Gary Skelly, 53, died after being punched once in Scargreen Avenue, Norris Green, on 14 September 2010. His family want violent incidents against people who, like Mr Skelly, have learning difficulties, to be recorded as hate crimes. They are travelling to London from Liverpool to meet Paul Maynard, Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP. They hope the Conservative MP, who is a leading campaigner on hate crime issues, will be able to help their campaign.
'Shame on society'
Mr Skelly was attacked after he asked for a cigarette. James Lee, of no fixed address, was found guilty of his manslaughter and was jailed for seven years in March. Mr Skelly's mother, Agnes Skelly, told BBC Inside Out that he had been tormented by youths near his home for years before he was attacked. She said: "They used to make him dance. I knew there were a few lads that mocked him but he never complained. "I always did worry about him and what happened was my worst nightmare." Mr Skelly had attended classes with Liverpool charity Moving on with Life and Learning (MOWLL), which works to create opportunities for disabled people. The group has launched a campaign called FACE Facts, which aims to raise awareness of violence and intimidation against people with disabilities. A representative from the charity will join Mrs Skelly and Mr Skelly's two sisters and niece on their journey to London on Monday. Heidi Kenworthy, from MOWLL, said: "Nine out of 10 people with learning difficulties experience bullying. "That's an absolute shame on civil society and we've got to do something about it. "We're not going to let Gary's death be in vain and we're going to carry on until we get a change in the law." The group will show Mr Maynard a film they have made about Gary and what happened to him.
© BBC News
THE SHAMEFUL REALITY OF RELIGIOUS HATE CRIME (Scotland, UK)
21/11/2011- SCoJeC continually emphasises that Scotland is generally a welcoming and hospitable place for Jewish people to live – relative to England, there are fewer antisemitic incidents relative to the population, and in general they are less serious. However, recent research has suggested that this may be unduly complacent. In October, the Institute for Jewish Policy Research published a survey of Jewish students throughout the UK. Scotland was only singled out for one comment:
"Regionally, respondents in Scotland are the most likely to report having experienced some form of antisemitism-over half (52%) have witnessed and/or been subjected to antisemitism. By contrast, a third (33%) of respondents studying in London has experienced antisemitism." More recently, an analysis by the Scottish Government of prosecutions aggravated by religious hatred has attracted a lot of comment in the media because it found that 400 charges were for behaviour directed against Catholics, but only 253 against Protestants. By comparison, only 16 charges for antisemitism looks reassuring. However, that takes no account of the relative sizes of the communities. Using the published findings of the last census a parliamentary answer gave the following figures:
size of community no of prosecutions ratio charges per 10,000 members
Church of Scotland 2,392,601 253 1 in 9,457 2
Roman Catholic 859,503 400 1 in 2,149 5
Muslim 42,264 15 1 in 2,818 3
Jewish 7,446 16 1 in 465 25
Even although these figures need to be qualified because what was recorded was not the religion of the victim but the religion against which hostility was manifested, so that the final column is not the likelihood of an individual having been a victim, it is nonetheless concerning that the disparities are so large. That is why the community does have an interest in the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Bill, currently before Parliament. The second part of the Bill directly addresses the kind of abusive phone messages and e-mails that communal organisations are subjected to. But the first part matters to us too, because antisemitic abuse often features at football matches that have no connection with the community.
Minister for Community Safety, Roseanna Cunningham said: "These statistics show the shameful reality of religious hate crime in Scotland. We need a wholesale change of attitudes, and this new report provides a valuable insight into the nature and scale of religious hate crime across Scotland. Like racism, this kind of behaviour simply shouldn't be happening in a modern Scotland but sadly, it seems there are still those who think hatred on the basis of religion is acceptable." SCoJeC Director Ephraim Borowski said, "These official figures are a worrying snapshot of the scale of religious hatred in Scotland today. While the absolute number of incidents remains very low, the disproportionate ratio of antisemitic incidents must give cause for concern, and we therefore welcome the commitment of Government, Law Officers, and the police to tackle all religious hatred and not just the predominant sectarianism with the same vigour.
At the same time, given that Jewish people represent less than 1% of the population of Scotland, it is likely that ignorance gives rise to suspicion and so fuels hatred, so that the support of successive Scottish Governments for our programmes to educate the wider community about Jews and Judaism is also a welcome positive contribution to promoting better relations between communities in one Scotland of many cultures."
© The Scottish Council of Jewish Communities
SCOTLAND PUBLISHES DETAILED ANALYSIS OF RELIGIOUS HATE CRIMES (uk)
Statistics published by the Scottish Government today provide new detail on the scale of religious hate crimes across Scotland.
21/11/2011- The information has been made available following a pledge made by the First Minister that a more comprehensive analysis of data relating to Section 74 of the Criminal Justice Scotland Act 2003 would be undertaken and published.
The data shows that in 2010-11:
* There were 693 charges aggravated by religious prejudice - up nearly 10 per cent in a year and the highest level in four years
* 58 per cent of charges related to offences which were derogatory towards Roman Catholicism and 37 per cent of charges related to offences which were derogatory to Protestantism. 2.3 per cent related to Judaism, and 2.1 per cent related to Islam
* There were charges with a religious aggravation in 27 out of Scotland's 32 Local Authority areas
* 79 per cent of all offences took place in the Strathclyde police force area
* A third of the total charges were related directly to football
* In just over 60 per cent of cases, the accused had consumed alcohol prior to the offence
* Fewer than 5 per cent of incidents were related to marches and parades
Minister for Community Safety, Roseanna Cunningham said:
"These statistics show the shameful reality of religious hate crime in Scotland. Like racism, this kind of behaviour simply shouldn't be happening in a modern Scotland but sadly, it seems there are still those who think hatred on the basis of religion is acceptable.
"We need a wholesale change of attitudes, and this new report provides a valuable insight into the nature and scale of religious hate crime across Scotland. It shows that charges for religious hatred are up ten per cent on last year, to the highest level in four years, and it also shows that a disproportionate number of religious hate crimes are directly linked to football, both in stadiums, on public transport and in bars.
"That is why we have made clear that we will be looking at further wide ranging actions across society, such as in schools and communities, in addition to legislation to send out a clear message that this behaviour will not be tolerated any longer.
"This report supports the direction of travel we are taking. We need to eradicate sectarianism once and for all by cracking down on all forms and expressions of sectarian hatred, through a combination of education and tough enforcement.
"We must deal with sectarianism in the same way as with racism, and drink-driving. This Bill will not be the conclusive answer or the only solution, but it is the beginning of the end.
"You can either do nothing and allow the status quo which allows the mindless bigot to thrive or we can take the strong action needed now and send out a message loud and clear that this behaviour is not going to be tolerated any longer."
The report does not present any information about the religious beliefs or affiliations of the people targeted by the offensive conduct. Current legislation defines a religiously aggravated offence as an incident where the offender evinces towards the victim "malice and ill-will based on the victim's membership (or perceived membership) of a religious group or a social or cultural group with a perceived religious affiliation", or, the offence is motivated by the same. There is no data held by Police or COPFS on victims' membership of religious or cultural groups with a perceived religious affiliation as this is not relevant to the definition of the crime in law.
The proposed new laws seek to create two new distinct offences:
* The first offence targets any sectarian and threatening behaviour expressed at and around football matches which is likely to cause public disorder
* The second offence relates to the communication of threats of serious harm or which are intended to stir up religious hatred on the internet or other communications
They will give the police and the courts vital additional powers to deal with the minority of people who tarnish the image of Scotland through their expressions of hatred and bigotry at and around football. And those who peddle threats and hatred on the internet.
© eGov Monitor
YOBS FILM THEIR SICK ATTACK ON GAY MAN (uk)
19/11/2011- Yobs subjected a gay man to sickening homophobic abuse in the street which they filmed on a mobile phone. A teenage gang shouted vile insults, banged on the victim’s car windows and tried to open the doors while using mobile phones to record the attack. The 28-year-old was parked outside St Patrick’s Shops, in the Owton Manor area of Hartlepool, and was waiting for his aunty when three boys started the disgusting verbal attack. They were then joined by another five youngsters as the shouting and banging escalated. The man, who is openly gay and lives on the estate, tried to ignore them in the hope they would go away, but they carried on in a bid to get a reaction. The victim told the Mail his ordeal lasted 20 minutes and only stopped when his aunt returned from a shop and got into the car. Police are now investigating what they have described as a “hate crime”.
The victim told the Mail: “It was completely unprovoked. I don’t even know who they are. “But what could I do? They were intimidating, but they are just kids. I tried to just ignore them, but they were doing everything possible to try and get a reaction. “I think it’s a lack of education from both their schools and their parents. “To get their phones out and film it as well is just wrong. I don’t know where that footage will end up.” His aunt was so disgusted when she heard what had happened that she notified the police the next day. An investigation has now been launched. The victim added: “They didn’t seem bothered by what they were doing. They just thought it was funny. “I don’t know what the police can do, but they can’t just get away with doing something like that for no reason. “I’ve never had anything like this happen to me before and I hope nothing like it happens again.” A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said: “We received a report of hate crime on Thursday and investigations are ongoing.”
© The Hartlepool Mail
19/11/2011- Religious hate crime has reached a four-year high in Scotland, with Catholics being targeted in more than half of all cases, official figures have shown. There were 693 charges aggravated by religious prejudice in 2010-2011. The bulk of them of them occurred in the west of Scotland, a traditional hotbed of sectarian trouble, but only a third happened at football grounds. Anti-Catholic offences accounted for 58 per cent of all cases, with 37 per cent involving anti-Protestant abuse. The most common target was police officers, who were involved in 42 per cent of the charges reported. The figures were published after a pledge by First Minister Alex Salmond to provide greater analysis in light of new legislation aimed at cracking down on sectarianism in football.
The Catholic Bishop of Paisley Philip Tartaglia said: “Since Catholics represent just 16 per cent of Scotland’s population, the fact that they account for almost 60 per cent of the victims of sectarian crime reflects poorly on modern Scotland and is an indicator of entrenched hostility on a worrying scale. “It remains the case that the overwhelming majority of sectarian incidents are not football-related. Therefore, far more engagement is needed with the church in future by all public authorities committed to the eradication of religious intolerance.” Almost all the cases involved men, with the bulk (58 per cent) of them in the 16-30 age group. Of the 231 offences at football matches, there were 47 (52 per cent) at Celtic Park and 24 (27 per cent) at Ibrox. A spokesman for Celtic said only 14 of its cases involved home fans, all of whom were banned. The rest were away supporters.
The sum of 693 charges last year is 10 per cent up on the previous annual figure. Rangers manager Ally McCoist, said: “I think the figures are up because there has been a bigger clamp down.” Community safety minister Roseanna Cunningham said: “These statistics show the shameful reality of religious hate crime in Scotland. Like racism, this kind of behaviour simply shouldn’t be happening in a modern Scotland but sadly, it seems there are still those who think hatred on the basis of religion is acceptable.” Of the 693 charges reported by police to the Crown Office and procurator fiscal service, 587 charges were taken to court, with 390 leading to convictions.
Dave Scott, campaign director of anti-sectarianism charity Nil By Mouth, said this was the highest number of convictions since the offence of religious aggravation was introduced. “It’s clear we need a real nationwide debate on how we tackle sectarianism and its root causes. It goes beyond our football terraces,” he said. The Scottish Government’s proposals have been criticised by opposition parties amid confusion over the kind of behaviour that would be outlawed. Labour’s justice spokesman James Kelly said: “The fact that the vast majority – 88 per cent of all offences – were recorded away from football stadiums exposes the SNP’s naïve and dogmatic belief that sectarianism is solely a football problem.”
© The Scotsman
19/11/2011- Good legislation should be evidence-based. One of the objections to the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill, currently going through Holyrood, has been the absence of empirical evidence supporting the need for fresh legislation. Yesterday the Scottish Government duly produced its analysis of the scale and seriousness of religious hate crime last year. What do those figures tell us? They confirm something the Roman Catholic hierarchy in Scotland has long maintained: that most such crime is against those of their faith. As the majority of citizens are Protestants, this is perhaps not entirely surprising. It also shows that such crimes rose last year by 10% to 693, though since religious prejudice became an aggravating factor in crime in 2003, the number has fluctuated quite widely. This rise may merely reflect recent enforcement strategy, especially as it turns out that around 40% of these charges arose from abuse directed at police officers. The overwhelming majority of charges were for breach of the peace or threatening behaviour.
Though the report found that around a third of the charges were “football-related”, only 13% of the incidents took place at football stadiums. The percentage relating to marches and parades is even lower, supporting claims of effective self-policing at Orange Parades. Though spread across Scotland, these crimes are heavily concentrated in the West of Scotland, the area that was the focus of Irish immigration. In themselves, these findings neither support nor negate the need for fresh legislation. A more useful insight might be gained from including questions about incidents of religious prejudice in the Scottish Crime Survey, as this includes both unreported incidents and also the fear of crime.
The danger in the current situation is that we will end up with legislation that results more from the sense that “something must be done” than any clear idea of how to tackle the unacceptable behaviour of a small minority. Certainly, there is a need to take on those who use the anonymity afforded by the internet to peddle religious hatred. And an adjustment may be required to current breach of the peace legislation to make it easier to isolate and arrest troublemakers. However, the lack of clarity in the current Bill risks criminalising fans for something closer to muscular enthusiasm than bigotry and for the use of songs and symbols that would not be considered offensive elsewhere. The line between healthy rivalry and unhealthy prejudice can be perilously thin. Celtic manager Neil Lennon, himself a victim of sectarianism, summed up this dilemma thoughtfully yesterday when he both praised the passion of the club’s Green Brigade supporters and voiced his exasperation at the minority of them who continue to indulge in offensive chanting. Scottish football desperately needs its impassioned supporters. Let’s not eject the baby with the bathwater.
© The Herald Scotland
Headlines 18 November, 2011
HATE CRIMES REMAIN SERIOUS PROBLEM ACROSS OSCE REGION, ODIHR REPORT SAYS (press release)
16/11/2011- Hate crimes continue to be a serious problem across the OSCE region, concludes a report released by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) today, on the International Day for Tolerance. According to the report, which covers the year 2010, there were numerous instances of intimidation, threats, vandalism, arson, assault and murder, targeting individuals or groups because of their ethnicity, religion or other status. “It is extremely worrying that bias-motivated violence continues seemingly unabated in our region,” said Ambassador Janez Lenarèiè, the Director of ODIHR. He stressed that hate crimes are particularly heinous criminal acts as they do not only harm the individual or group targeted in the crime, but affect the entire community to which the victim belongs. “Hate crimes have the potential to undermine cohesion and endanger stability in our society and therefore require vigorous responses,” Lenarèiè said, stressing that combating hate crimes must remain a priority for participating States.
The report, entitled “Hate Crimes in the OSCE Region – Incidents and Responses”, is based on the analysis of data received from the 33 participating States that responded to ODIHR’s information request, as well as reports of hate crime incidents from 93 non-governmental organizations. It includes separate sections on racist and anti-Semitic crimes, violence against Roma and Sinti, Muslims, Christians and members of other religions, as well as crimes based on other bias motivations. The report notes the global economic crisis and intolerant discourse as factors contributing to the occurrence of hate crimes. While the quality of data received from participating States has improved, it remains difficult to identify trends and obtain a complete picture of the true extent of the problem due to remaining significant gaps in data collection and the use of different definitions across the region.
© Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR)
SYNAGOGUE VANDALIZED IN EASTERN BELARUS
14/11/2011- A synagogue has been vandalized in the eastern Belarusian city of Babruysk, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports. The synagogue's secretary, Maya Savatseyeva, told RFE/RL that vandals smashed the synagogue's windows at about 2 a.m. on November 8. On November 11, a swastika and "Death to Jews!" was daubed on the fence surrounding the synagogue. "The inscriptions insult human dignity," Savatseyeva said. "They drew a swastika and broke the four large windows. We have called the police and they have started an investigation." Savatseyeva said the synagogue's congregation comprises around 50 people, most of them elderly. She said the congregation will have to pay for repairs to the building. There were about 1,400 Jews in Babruysk in 1999. The exact number today is unknown as Jews have been leaving Belarus and other former Soviet republics since the dissolution of the USSR in 1991.
TWO ON TRIAL FOR HIGH-PROFILE BRITISH RACIST MURDER (uk)
Two men went on trial in London on Monday for the 1993 murder of black student Stephen Lawrence, a landmark case that led to police being branded racist and helped to end a doctrine that prevented a suspect being tried twice for the same crime.
14/11/2011- Lawrence, an 18-year-old who hoped to train as an architect, was stabbed to death in an unprovoked attack by a gang of white youths at a bus stop in southeast London. His killing and the police's handling of the investigation prompted a judge-led inquiry that accused the capital's force of "institutional racism," professional incompetence and a failure of leadership. The report by senior judge William Macpherson, published in 1999, was a defining moment in the history of British race relations and led to sweeping changes in the way public bodies deal with racism. The trial of Gary Dobson, 36, and David Norris, 35, who both deny murder, began on Monday at London's Central Criminal Court, the Old Bailey. Dobson, wearing a charcoal suit, white shirt and striped blue tie, and Norris, dressed in a grey suit, light blue shirt and dark tie, spoke only to confirm their names. They sat behind glass screens in the dock of the wood-paneled courtroom next to four security guards. The public gallery and the media benches were packed as judge Colman Treacy formally opened the proceedings.
The first day of the trial was spent selecting a jury of 12 men and women from a pool of 49. Treacy said the prosecution was expected to open its case on Tuesday and the trial could last until January. Lawrence's parents, Doreen and Neville, were in court. Lawrence was stabbed twice in the attack on April 22, 1993, in Eltham, southeast London. He managed to get to his feet and run a short distance before collapsing on the pavement, and died a short time later in hospital. Dobson was cleared of Lawrence's murder at a trial in 1996. The Court of Appeal quashed that acquittal in May and said he could stand trial again. A second trial was only made possible after a change in 2005 that ended the legal doctrine of double jeopardy, which prevented a defendant being tried again for a crime they had been cleared of.
Lawrence's murder still weighs heavily on London's police, who have overhauled their policies and tried to recruit more black and ethnic minority officers. The trial continues.
MIDLANDS MOSQUE VANDALISED ON REMEMBRANCE DAY (uk)
A Midlands mosque was vandalised on the morning of Armistice Day in what is suspected to be a hate crime
15/11/2011- The Masjid-E-Umar in Darlaston, West Midlands was vandalised on the morning of Remembrance Day in what is suspected to be a hate crime in retaliation against the fifty Muslim individuals who took part in burning poppies on Remembrance Day 2010. The attack occurred between the hours of 7:30am and 11:00am. The suspects were said to have jumped over the locked gates and spray painted a graffiti image of a poppy on the mosque door with the text ‘‘Burn this one’’ to signal the mosque as a supporter of the poppy burning incident. In 2010, to commemorate Remembrance Day, fifty individuals under a now banned extremist group Muslim Against Crusades, took part in burning poppies near Albert Hall in London causing disruption. CCTV was in operation outside the mosque but no footage of the perpetrators had been captured. Police arrived on the scene shortly after 12pm and patrolled the area for the remainder of the day. The graffiti was removed but the mosque door was damaged. This isn’t the first time that the Darlaston mosque has been attacked. Two years ago, an attacker spray painted racist words on the mosque but was caught on CCTV and received community service. And following the London 7/7 bombings, a brick was thrown at the mosque leaving permanent damage to the building. A Darlaston community member said that the racists who attacked the mosque were ignorant as they ‘‘are over 2 million Muslims in the UK, how can they blame the actions of fifty people to be the beliefs of 2 million?’’ Another community member expressed her thoughts on the attackers, “they have no understanding or respect for any religion,” she said. “This is a place of worship. We live in a multicultural society. We have to respect each other. That’s what it means to be British.”
Other Attacks on Mosques
Similar attacks on mosques throughout the UK have been occurring, some even more violent than the one at Masjid-E-Umar. In July 2011, a Luton mosque was attacked in the early hours of the morning. The attackers broke the mosque windows and sprayed graffiti on the walls. At the Redbridge Islamic Centre, an incident was reported where attackers shouted racial abuse and threw bricks at the building while worshippers were inside, injuring one man. Following from the deadly hit-and-run of three Muslim men in Birmingham, in the wake of the 2011 riots, several mosques in Birmingham received a number of threats.
© Suite 101
RACIAL ATTACK IN BODMIN (uk)
13/11/2011- During the evening of Saturday 12 Nov 2011, there was a racial incident at a convenience store in Fore Street, Bodmin. A group of what are believed to be local youths entered the store during the evening and racially abused the store keeper who is of Asian origin. They also caused criminal damage by throwing paint at the store keeper and over stock within the store. The offenders are believed to be a group of at least four local youths aged in their mid to late teens, some of whom are female. The police have so far made one arrest in relation to this incident. Bodmin Police Inspector David Meredith said:" Devon and Cornwall Police take hate crimes very seriously. We have a positive and robust policy in dealing with any hate crime or hate Incident." Officers from Bodmin CID are investigating this offence, and further arrests are expected to be made in the near future. The police are appealing for witnesses who may have been in the local area at the time of this incident.
© Bude People
MUM RACIALLY ABUSED AND PUNCHED IN THE FACE ON BUS (uk)
17/11/2011- Police are hunting a man and a woman after a mother was racially abused and punched in the face in front of her children. The victim was racially abused by two passengers – a man and woman – as she got on a number 54 bus in Leicester. She was then assaulted by the man, who punched her in the face. The two suspects got off the bus in Marwood Road, Beaumont Leys. The victim sustained minor injuries but did not require hospital treatment. The incident happened at about 3.45pm on Friday, October 21. Police have just released details. The female suspect is white, in her 30s and with brown hair. The man is white, skinny, about 5ft 9in, with unkempt ginger hair and a ginger beard. They had two children with them at the time of the incident, one of whom was in a pushchair. Pc Louise McMahon said: "This is being treated as a racially aggravated assault because of the language used by the two suspects. "Although the victim was not seriously injured, the behaviour of the two adults responsible is not acceptable and is not something that we at Leicestershire Constabulary will tolerate."
© this is Leicestershire
ADL DISMAYED BY LOW HATE CRIMES REPORTING (usa)
16/11/2011- The Anti-Defamation League expressed dismay at the low number of law enforcement agencies reporting hate crimes. The FBI, in publishing its annual Hate Crimes accounting, said that of 14,977 participating agencies out of about 18,000 nationwide, only 1,949 -- or 13 percent -- reported hate crimes. "It is necessary for all agencies to participate in this vital report, and to accurately and effectively communicate the reality of hate crimes in their jurisdiction," the ADL said in a statement Monday. ADL officials expressed skepticism that the vast majority of agencies simply did not encounter hate crimes, particularly because 80 cities with populations of more than 100,000 either reported zero or did not report at all. The report documented 6,628 hate crimes in 2010, a slight increase from 6,604 in 2009.
© JTA News
CARS BURNED IN ANTI-JEWISH RAMPAGE IN BROOKLYN (usa)
13/11/2011- Anti-Semitic vandals went on a rampage in Brooklyn before dawn Friday, burning Jewish-owned cars and scrawling swastikas in a Jewish area. The latest hate attacks followed by only several hours an announcement by police that they caught one man who was responsible for hate attacks earlier this week on two libraries and a synagogue. A Jaguar, BMW and Lexus were set n fire on Friday, and “KKK” -- Ku Klux Klan – was written on a red van in addition to hate slogans and swastikas scrawled on benches. “The violence – I’m calling it violence when you blow up three cars – adds a sickening dimension to this type of anti-Semitism,” said New York state delegate and area resident Dov Hikind. “We walk down Ocean Parkway every single week” on the way to synagogue,” he told New York media. “All I could think about was my mother sitting on a bench with a swastika scrawled on it. She survived Auschwitz.” The Midwood area, where the arson took place, and Borough Park, are populated by one of the largest number of Holocaust survivors outside of Israel. “The fact that this most recent attack came on the heels of the 73rd anniversary of Kristallnacht may or may not be a coincidence,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said. “The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force is actively investigating the twisted person or people who attacked cars, benches, and a sidewalk on a block of Ocean Parkway early this morning.” Earlier on Friday, police had said they arrested a man who painted swastikas on two libraries, a church and synagogue.
© Arutz Sheva
Headlines 11 November, 2011
Jews in Malmö in southern Sweden have been the victims of an increased number of hate-crimes in 2011, according to local police.
11/11/2011- During the first six months of the year there has been the same number of anti-Semitic crimes reported as were reported for the whole of 2010. “The increase in reported crime could be due to the police investing in more resources to solve these kinds of crimes, or that the tendency to report is higher now because there are more incidents of an anti-Semitic nature”, Susanne Gosenius, a hate-crimes coordinator with the Malmö police told the TT news agency. She added, however, that there may very well be a large number of crimes that are never reported to the police. In many respects, Malmö seems to be a bit different from the rest of the country in terms of hate-crimes against Jews, Gosenius explained. At the same time, however, the number of reported Islamophobic crimes has decreased compared to the first six months of 2010.
Fredrik Sieradzki, spokesperson for the Jewish Community of Malmö, said that the crimes are often attacks on people either arriving or leaving the synagogue. The police in Malmö have registered a total number of 21 anti-Semitic crimes and 105 crimes against immigrants in the first half of 2011. The total number last year was 20 and 116, respectively, for the same type of crimes. In Gothenburg, police don't have specific statistics anti-Semitic crimes. “They are seen as being part of hate-crimes”, said police analyst Thomas Pettersson to TT. However, the Jewish congregation in Gothenburg does not view the issue with the same urgency as the Malmö congregation. “It’s not that we are entirely without problems of course," said Daniel Jonas, head of the congregation in Gothenburg, to TT. He explained that it's not uncommon for someone to shout out "damn Jews" or other derogatory slogans, most often outside of a synagogue.
© The Local - Sweden
MUSLIMS PROTEST AT MOSQUE ATTACK (Switzerland)
11/11/2011- A dead pig and four pig heads were buried on the site of a future mosque in an anonymous anti-Islam attack, police said. The attackers sent anonymous letters to the media in the region near the mosque site in the town of Grenchen in canton Solothurn. In the letter they said they also poured 120 litres of pig’s blood on the ground, saying it was test of Muslim faith whether the mosque would be built on the land afterwards. The Islamic Central Council of Switzerland “condemned the profanation of the site of a future mosque”, adding: “With this act, a line has been cross and Islamophobia has attained a new level.” Grenchen mayor Boris Banga described the attack as “horrible and abominable”.
© Swiss Info
GERMANY STRUGGLES TO TACKLE LINGERING ANTI-SEMITISM
In a shocking new report, a government commission has found that bigoted Jewish stereotypes are still entrenched in German society. It has claimed that discrimination is an everyday experience for many German Jews.
11/11/2011- Youths in Germany have taken to using the word 'Jew' as a curse word, even when their object of scorn isn't Jewish. And, shockingly, the insult "You belong in Auschwitz" is also relatively common. These findings were revealed Friday in a new report from a panel of experts commissioned by the German government. The experts will in future be regularly called upon to give updates on the status of persistent anti-Semitism in the country. In their initial report, the experts described a catalogue of discrimination. Whether in private circles, at the pub, on the playground, in a football stadium or online, the report showed anti-Semitism is a fact of life for Jews living in Germany. Although officially illegal in Germany, anti-Semitic sentiment is found in around 20 percent of the population in one form or another, according to the findings.
Experts on the panel, including London historian Peter Longerich and Johannes Heil, the head of the Heidelberg College of Jewish Studies, based their research on several recent opinion polls. According to police statistics those responsible for carrying out 90 percent of anti-Semitic crimes were described as right-wing extremists. They were mainly charged with making provocative comments, desecrating Jewish cemeteries, Holocaust denial and a small number of anti-Semitic assaults. The report also stated that the impression sometimes claimed by the media, that Muslims or people of Arab descent are behind a large proportion of anti-Semitic attacks, is simply not true. In spite of the ongoing Middle East conflict, the idea that "this group of people has particular cause to spread anti-Semitic propaganda" lacked any scientific evidence.
Behind the times
Seeking to explain their findings, the experts criticized a failure on the part of Germany's state education. They claimed it's not enough to simply teach children about Jewish persecution under the Nazis and Germany's "special responsibility to Israel." Instead, more emphasis must be placed on the more current manifestations of anti-Semitism associated with the Middle East conflict, Islamism and the financial crisis. This new insight goes some way to explain why, since the 1970s, the trend of a steady decline in German anti-Semitism hasn't continued. The trend mainly emerged as the generation most influenced by National Socialism was dying out. Concerns are now focused on the flood of anti-Semitic writing and videos circling the Internet, which are extremely hard to control.
Lacking a cohesive strategy
The report argued that a growing criticism of international financial systems has led to a dangerous re-emergence of old anti-Semitic stereotypes, bemoaning "greedy Jews" and "Jewish conspiracies." This was backed up by a 2009 study conducted by Bielefeld University, which found that one in five people felt that Jewish people have too much influence in the financial world. Around 40 percent of respondents also held the view that Jews today were still seeking to benefit from Germany's Nazi past. Although the experts noted considerable efforts to tackle anti-Semitism in Germany, they came to the conclusion that there is no comprehensive strategy in place. Statistically, Germany is ranked in the middle of the European table in terms of the anti-Semitism problem. However, this ranking would be considerably worse were it not for countries like Poland, Hungary and Portugal, which suffer even higher levels of discrimination.
© The Deutsche Welle
BACKGROUND: SERIAL KILLING OF MIGRANTS IN GERMANY STARTED IN 2000
11/11/2011- A series of killings of immigrant businessmen in Germany began in 2000, and police now suspect all were the work of a neo-Nazi group. Eight of the victims - who all ran small businesses - were Turkish-born, and one was of Greek origin. All nine were shot dead at close range with the same gun, a Czech-made Ceska 7.65-millimetre pistol, police ballistics experts said. Two victims operated doner kebab food stands, leading media to term the attacks the 'doner murders.' Others ran newspaper stands and other small businesses of the type operated by people with little capital but willing to work long hours. The victims were shot in broad daylight by an assailant who calmly walked away afterwards and was not recognized by witnesses. Police, who led a national inquiry, said three killings took place in Nuremberg, two in Munich and one each in the cities of Kassel, Hamburg, Rostock and Dortmund. The series began with the killing of a florist in September 2000 and lasted until April 2006. It was not immediately clear Friday if a similar killing last week of a 41-year-old doner kebab seller in the eastern German city of Chemnitz was also carried out by the same group.
ARSON ATTACK ON MOSQUE IN EASTERN FRANCE
10/11/2011- A mosque in eastern France was damaged after unknown attackers set fire to the building using a burning rubbish bin early Thursday, France 3 television reported. The head of the mosque in Montbeliard, located about 170 kilometres south of Strasbourg, near the German border, discovered the fire when he arrived to open the building for morning prayers, the report said. One wall was badly damaged. The attack on the mosque is the second in a month, according to France 3. A group calling itself Les Echappees Belles (The Lucky Escapes) claimed responsibility for the incident in tracts left near the mosque. The group - believed to be a group of women loosely influenced by right-wing extremists, according to France 3 - had claimed responsibility for setting fire to the mosque's van in October. Police were investigating the incident. Muslim groups say the number of attacks on Muslims and Muslim institutions is on the increase. The Collective Against Islamophobia in France recorded 188 Islamophobic acts in 2010, mostly against institutions such as mosques.
RACISM IN BAY 'WORST IN DISTRICT' (uk)
Racist attacks in the Bay have outnumbered those in Canterbury this year, the Times can reveal.
11/11/2011- The information came after a Freedom of Information Act request to Kent Police and followed a summer when police and council bosses set up a dispersal area around High Street and William Street. The move was made after complaints that teenage gangs were shouting racist abuse at passers- by and fighting, while Kenwins newsagents had a swastika scrawled in red paint on its shutters. One Indian off-licence worker, who did not want to be named, told the Times she was scared to work in the evenings because of the trouble. She said: "I only do day shifts because of the amount of racist abuse you hear in the evenings from people drunk or on drugs." Kenwins boss Rushik Parmar, who had a swastika and racist slurs sprayed on his shop shutters in July said: "That was the worst incident we've seen in seven years and generally we don't have a problem. However I know a couple of other newsagents in town suffer from racist abuse. "It tends to be the ones that sell more alcohol. As soon as they turn down underage drinkers it's the "P" word all over the shop." But Makcari's boss Hassan Hassan, whose father came to England from Turkey, said: "I've never faced any problems. I think because I was born here I've never really felt it. " Bay councillor Jennie Edwards said the figures – which also revealed this year's racist attacks had already topped the total number of incidents last year – were a disappointment. She said: "I am quite shocked and saddened to hear the number of attacks that have occurred. I've always considered the Bay an open and friendly place to live, and will carry on doing so. "Hopefully the residents of Herne Bay and visitors will understand that the views of a few very small-minded individuals does not represent the whole town." Chief Inspector Steve Barlow said: "Hate crime is a very serious offence which can have a huge impact on the victims. Kent Police has worked hard to provide a number of alternative methods for victims to get in touch, including the True Vision online reporting facility via the Kent Police website www.kent.police.uk"
© This is Kent
GAY MP SUFFERED HOMOPHOBIC ATTACK (uk)
11/11/2011- A gay MP has spoken in Parliament about being the victim of a homophobic attack. Conservative Stuart Andrew called for police forces to crack down on such assaults. He told the Commons: "One in five gay and lesbian people has experienced homophobic attack in the last three years. "As someone who experienced such an attack in the 1990s, I'm aware of the fear that goes on after such an attack." Speaking during equality questions, the Pudsey MP praised West Yorkshire Police's efforts to tackle hate crimes, and the force's work with gays to report homophobic assaults. Equalities minister Lynne Featherstone told him: "I'm extremely sorry to learn you had such an experience. "The actual statistics are quite frightening in terms of hate crime - in 2010 over 48,000." Ms Featherstone said police should take allegations seriously "as they are in a position to act on what they hear and make sure we tackle hate crime". She added that homophobic bullying was "appalling" and the Government had issued new guidelines to tackle bullying which were "much more condensed and to the point".
© The Press Association
WHY IS SCHOOL SUCH A HARD PLACE TO BE GAY? (uk, opinion)
Despite the high profile of young characters such as Kurt and his boyfriend in TV show Glee, two-thirds of gay teenagers are still bullied at school. Charlie Condou, who plays a gay character in Coronation Street, considers why – and what is being done to stop it
By Charlie Condou
10/11/2011- The teenage years are tough. Fuelled by hormones, laced with uncertainty, they are the years when we try to work out who we are and find our place in the world. We can swing from intense excitement to extreme embarrassment in a heartbeat, while all the time wanting nothing more than to make friends and fit in. It's hard for everybody but, without a doubt, for gay teens it can be a lot harder. When even the word "gay" has become a synonym for "crappy" or "pathetic", it's clear that the problems are incredibly deep-rooted. Some shocking statistics: according to Stonewall, 92% of LGBT teens have been verbally abused because of their sexuality; 41% have been physically bullied; 17% have had death threats. For many gay kids, school doesn't feel like a very safe place. I didn't come out until after I left school and, while I was never bullied directly, I can still remember the paranoia I felt at not having a girlfriend, and the casual lies I would throw out, hoping to deflect attention from my sexuality. I was lucky in that I was popular and confident and, as a "drama geek", mainly attached to the one department where theatricality and flamboyance were an asset, not a problem.
But I went to a fairly rough London comprehensive school where survival was Darwinian. I had already been expelled from my first school, so came with kudos attached and somehow the bullies left me alone. I was lucky. My school days were a long time ago, when gay role models consisted of Larry Grayson and John "I'm free!" Inman. I certainly didn't fit into those stereotypes, so the other kids probably assumed I was straight. The idea, at that time, that a pop star could launch a career while being openly queer, as Jessie J has done, or that a transsexual could win a national popularity contest such as Big Brother, as Nadia Almada did in 2004, was utterly laughable. There is no doubt that, in many ways, things have got better for us queer folk and yet, despite all the progress, we still live in a country where two-thirds of gay teenagers are bullied at school. Why are things so slow to change?
There are plenty of role models for young LGBT people to look up to now, and that has to be a positive thing, but I wonder sometimes if there's a huge point that we're missing. Gay teenage characters have started to appear in wildly popular (especially among the young) shows such as Ugly Betty and Glee. And, while we do see these characters being bullied and struggling for acceptance with peers and family, we also see that they have a clear and powerful sense of themselves. They may be bullied and ostracised, but they are not conflicted. Most gay characters in shows for teenagers are portrayed as heroes, learning to stand tall and be proud of who they are, and that's great, it really is. But I wonder how realistic it is. Ironically, I suspect that the gay character that most closely reflects reality in Glee is not the out and proud Kurt, but the closeted jock bully, Karofsky, who is struggling in denial over his sexuality. Not that I'm trying to suggest his violent nature is typical, far from it, but his confusion and distress surely is. And while some great work has been done with the It Gets Better campaign (where gay adults make videos for struggling gay kids, telling them to hang in there), and one can imagine a kid like Kurt taking great comfort from hearing that message, it seems unlikely that the Karofskys of the world would have a clear enough sense of self to seek it out.
There's other help available to LGBT kids too, such as the Albert Kennedy Trust, which works with young people who are the victims of domestic violence, and Stonewall's fantastic Youth Volunteering Programme, which gets kids involved in fighting homophobia in their local communities. Then there's the London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard offering advice and support at the end of a phone. The help is there; not enough, of course, never enough, but it's there. However, and here's the rub, a kid's got to feel confident enough to ask for help. It's easy to reach the Kurts, but how do you help the Karofskys? They've got to have reached a point where they're clear enough about who they are to identify as gay – and many bullied kids are a long way from that point. In fact, they may even be reluctant to talk to the people closest to them for fear of triggering a conversation they're simply not ready to have. How many confused kids are ready to tell their parents: "Everyone else thinks I'm gay"? They may not even be gay. It's important to recognise that homophobic bullying doesn't just affect gay kids. It can happen to girls who don't conform to their classmates "girly" ideal and boys who are lousy at sport. Anyone, in fact, who doesn't fit rigidly defined gender stereotypes. Damilola Taylor, the child who was stabbed to death near his home in 2000, had been relentlessly bullied, beaten and called "gay" and "faggot" in the months leading up to his fatal attack. He'd even had to ask his mother what the word "gay" meant. He was 10 years old when he died, and while his killing may have been nothing to do with his perceived sexuality, it's clear that his final months were made difficult because of it. Was he gay? Who knows? Probably not. But he was bullied as though he was.
So what's the answer? How do we help the kids that are being bullied – gay, straight or still undecided? I think there are a number of ways of challenging the toxic homophobia that is present in many schools. First, I do think that role models are important; the more gay actors, sports stars and public figures who are living their lives openly and honestly, the better. I may be biased but I think that the soaps do a much better job of normalising (oh, how I hate that word) LGBT issues than some of the shows that cover gay issues more ostentatiously. All the big soaps have gay characters, integrated into their communities and getting on with their lives. While they are sometimes seen dealing with issues that are particular to their sexuality (coming out, struggling for acceptance), they are most often seen dealing with the same everyday life issues as the straight characters. It's political, but in a non-confrontational way. Shows such as EastEnders, Emmerdale and Coronation Street do an amazing job of helping people see beyond stereotypes, all of which helps in the general fight against homophobia.
But we need to more work directly with kids, and we need to start young. I believe prejudice is taught behaviour. Young children are remarkably accepting and tolerant and they have a deep, innate sense of justice. Diversity Role Models is an organisation that runs workshops with positive role models in both primary and secondary schools. They've found that kids are incredibly open to thinking about bullying and language (specifically the use of the word "gay" as a general insult) when they hear first-hand how it has impacted on adults. Diversity Role Models has grownup Kurts and Karofskys as speakers, along with plenty of heterosexual role models who simply don't want bullying to affect their kid's education. Just talking to kids about these ideas and discussing the rights and wrongs of prejudice goes a long way towards tackling it. So much bigotry stems from ignorance; education is key to overcoming it. We are a long way from the point where schools take homophobia as seriously as they take racism, but groups such as Diversity Role Models are working hard to bridge that gap.
Homophobia kills. LGBT kids are two to three times more likely to commit suicide than their straight peers. They are also more likely to self-harm and suffer from depression or substance abuse. And that's before we begin to count those who are harmed by others, attacked because of their sexuality, real or perceived. Stonewall's Education for All campaign aims to raise awareness of a problem that is often trivialised or ignored by schools. Let's hope that message finally gets through.
For more information, go to anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk.
© The Guardian
DEVON AND CORNWALL POLICE GET RACE-HATE DETECTIVES (uk)
9/11/2011- Two detectives dedicated to tackling race-hate crime have been introduced by Devon and Cornwall Police. The force said it was aware many victims were not reporting hate crimes and the officers would "professionalise" its approach. It comes as figures released by the force showed that in Cornwall, from 2005-2010, there was a 12% increase in reported incidents - from 187 to 209. Across both counties the recorded total dropped overall, from 1,227 to 1,012.
'Don't like change'
Insp Dan Ivey said: "There are a variety of reasons why people don't report to the police and some of those are around a lack of trust and confidence in our abilities to investigate effectively and efficiently. "What we're looking at doing by the introduction of hate-crime detectives is to professionalise our approach effectively in terms of investigating." Overall in Devon, the number of reported incidents fell by 33.5% over the five-year period, dropping from 626 to 416. In Plymouth there was a smaller decline - incidents reduced from 414 to 387, a decrease of 6.5%. Dean Harvey, who chairs the Council for Racial Equality in Cornwall, said there was under-reporting in rural communities where "at times you can stick out like a sore thumb.... so if there was a reported incident who's it going to come back on?" Dana, a shop assistant in Plymouth, said she was racially abused by a customer who said "I do not want to be served by the coloured lady". "It sullied my view on Plymouth for a little while. Down in the South West you're going to have less diversity, so the balance of that is you are going to have people who don't like change." PC Simon Hill said: "We believe that a victim of a racist crime or incident will have been a victim 20, 30 or 40 times before they will ever report anything to the police." He said the rise in Cornwall may have been because more people were coming forward to report the incidents and racial tensions tended to increase during times of recession.
RACE-HATE INCIDENTS REPORTED IN DEVON AND CORNWALL
© BBC News
RUSSIAN NATIONALISM MAY BE BIGGEST THREAT TO PUTIN'S POWER, EXPERTS WARN
Prejudice against people from the North Caucasus and central Asian migrant workers has been fuelled by economic hardship
9/11/2011- Rising nationalist sentiment may pose the biggest challenge to Vladimir Putin's hold on power as the Kremlin persists in avoiding a glaring social fracture, experts warn. The Kremlin has so far refrained from dealing with mounting anger against people from Russia's turbulent North Caucasus region, as well as migrant workers from central Asia, which has grown as the country's oil-fuelled economic boom has given way to the hardship of the global financial crisis. Xenophobic vitriol was all too palpable during a recent rally in which 7,000 nationalists, mainly young men and boys, donned black balaclavas or blue medical masks and took to the streets of Moscow chanting messages of hate and slogans in support of ethnic Russians. They ran from the conventional – "Russia for Russians" – to the bizarre – "Sport! Health! Nationalism!" – to the extreme – "Fuck the Jews". City authorities gave permission to hold the rally, a right regularly denied to the liberal opposition, albeit on the city's outskirts. Helicopters hovered overhead, and a relatively small contingent of police lined part of the rally's path. "I came here because there's an occupation going on by people from the Caucasus," said Andrei Sharapov, a rosy-cheeked 14-year-old who attended the march with friends. "They steal, they're violent and we need to get rid of them in any way."
At least two non-Slavic men were attacked by nationalists in separate incidents after last week's march, according to Alexander Verkhovsky, director of the Sova Centre, a Russian NGO that monitors ethnic hatred. Verkhovsky said it was impossible to count the number of nationalists, but put the number of those in nationalist groups at "roughly 20,000". Casual racism and antisemitism is markedly widespread. "Of course the growth of the far-right is happening here," he said. "But it doesn't have a political platform like it does in Europe. If someone has far-right views in Europe, they vote for the corresponding party. There is no such party here." That's not precisely true. The far-right LDPR, led by the nationalist firebrand Vladimir Zhirinovsky, has been represented in parliament since the fall of the Soviet Union. Yet it belongs to an older generation, and has been tainted by what is seen as its co-option by the Kremlin and the ruling United Russia party. There have been other attempts to form nationalist parties, most notably Rodina (Motherland), once led by Dmitry Rogozin, a well-known nationalist who is now Moscow's envoy to Nato. It seemed the Kremlin was promoting a Rogozin comeback this year, inviting him to speak on nationalism at a policy forum in Yaroslavl which was chaired by the president, Dmitry Medvedev. The ambassador duly gave a speech decrying runaway migration from the Caucasus and the state of ethnic Russians.
Rogozin is supporting Putin and his United Russia party in the country's parliamentary elections on 4 December. But not all nationalists are so obliging. As common as racist slurs at the demonstrations were signs reading: "We demand a nationalist party in parliament" and "Down with the party of crooks and thieves", a slogan denouncing United Russia. The man who came up with the tag, the popular anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny, brought some of his supporters to the rally, seeking to link his anti-Kremlin views with a force that could well be counted as Russia's largest opposition. The Kremlin has adopted something of an "ad hoc approach" to nationalism – cracking down when necessary, closing its eyes when possible. As the number of racially-motivated killings soared, police stepped up their investigations. That has seen the number of murders drop – Sova registered at least 84 killings in 2009, down to 42 in 2010 and 20 so far this year. "People have got scared [of murder charges]. But to beat someone up, or stab them, sometimes it can end in no investigation at all," he said. The number of attacks has remained roughly the same, with 434 registered by Sova in 2009, 396 in 2010 and 111 so far this year. Experts say nationalism has risen to feed the void in national ideology – communism fell in 1991 only to be replaced by today's cult of Putin.
Friday's rally was held to coincide with the Day of National Unity, a holiday Putin founded in 2005 to replace the commemoration of the Bolshevik Revolution. Yet according to the Levada Centre, a Russian pollster, 59% of Russians do not know what it stands for. And, argue analysts, neither do the country's leadership. "Putin and Medvedev were away from Moscow on a day that is technically Russia's main holiday," said Masha Lipman, an analyst at the Carnegie Centre in Moscow. "They don't have a message. They don't know what to say." "Putin is walking a tightrope. He is being evasive," she said. "Ahead of elections, he can't afford to antagonise Russian citizens, even if they are minorities. Nor can he say he's outraged by ethnic crime because this is bound to antagonise young constituencies in Russia." "There is no good solution," she said. "It is a real, serious problem. And it will not go away – [nationalism] is by far the biggest theme that brings the Russian people together."
© The Guardian
Headlines 4 November, 2011
BRUTAL NEO-NAZI ATTACK ON THE 79 BUS LINE IN SOFIA, BULGARIA.
4/11/2011- We received worrisome news from the Roma of Hristo Botev, a neighborhood in Sofia that experienced neo-Nazi terror last month. On November 1, the day commemorating the leaders of the Bulgarian National revival, a group of neo-Nazis committed the following crime.
The Assault: On 1.11.2011 /Tuesday/, around 8 o’clock in the evening the 27-years-old Angel Nikolov, a student at the High Evangelical Institute of Theology, was going home after service at a church in the Hristo Botev neighborhood. He was riding the 79 bus together with Donka, around 40 years old. The two were headed toward the Filipovtsi neighborhood. One stop before the “Georgi Asparuhov Stadium, known location of past assaults, a dozen young men in skinhead “uniform” for on the bus: black jackets, army boots, shaved heads. At this point Donka and Angel were sitting three seats behind the driver, Donka occupying the window seat. They are the only Roma on the bus, carrying other passengers as well. Upon entering, the neo-Nazis notice Donka and Angel, and after a “Let’s get the ball rolling!” they jump on the two passengers, hitting them with fists and kicking them with their boots while hanging off the top handlebars of the bus. Angel tries to protect Donka with his body, receiving multiple trauma and injuries in result.
The Witnesses: The bus driver makes no effort to contact the police patrol on duty in the area. On the contrary, he opens the bus doors at the traffic light before the next stop, thus allowing the Nazis to leave undisturbed. Not a single person on the bus intervenes to prevent the assault or express resentment.
The Consequences: Currently Angel is in intensive care suffering concussion of the brain, hematomas of the head, and obstructed breathing due to serious contusion of the chest. His condition is highly critical because Angel has epilepsy.
The Questions: This crime is an alarming piece if news for many reasons. Daily, people from the Romani community in Bulgaria become victims of scum bands of neo-Nazis, while the media habitually ignores the assaults.
The Call: We address the media in the hope to voice the problem with yet another instance of racist assault. Besides using violence, the neo-Nazis get away with it, benefiting from the apparent social indifference to their crimes. Presently, the assailants are free. Possibly, the very moment you are reading this they are looking for their next victim. In this and preceding such instances it’s the Roma but victims of neo-Nazi hate are also Muslims, people from other religious and sexual minorities, or Bulgarians with the “wrong” hairdo. Do we know whom they will aim for tomorrow? We cannot keep living with a false sense of security - tomorrow, the victim of assault will be our sister, mother, brother, or friend!
Civil initiative “People against Racism” calls on the authorities to take measures for the arrest and charge of the assailants. Let us not be silent. We call on the media to spread the news. We call on citizens to open their eyes. Let’s say NO to racist terror and violence!
© People against Racism Bulgaria
POLISH NEO-NAZIS DISTRIBUTE LIST OF "RACE TRAITORS" THROUGH US-BASED WEBSITE
4/11/2011- Right-wing extremists in Poland have added two recently-elected Polish MPs to their list of "race traitors", along with their addresses and telephone numbers. The individuals targeted are Anna Grodzka, the first transsexual to sit in the Polish Parliament, and Killion Munzele Munyama, an economist of African origin. The Polish Police's jurisdiction, however, does not extend to the right-wing extremists' web page, called Redwatch, because it operates through a server based in the USA. Czech neo-Nazis maintain a similar list. Neo-Nazis have posted several photographs on Redwatch of Grodzka, a 57-year-old activist for sexual minorities' rights who recently underwent a sex change. The site also includes a vulgar description of the MP, who was elected for the liberal-populist Palikot Movement (Ruch Palikota), as well as several of Grodzka's e-mail addresses.
Right-wing extremists accumulate information through Redwatch about left-wing activists, or people advocating for the rights of immigrants and LGBTQ people, or those fighting against neo-Nazism and racism. Adam Michnik, the editor-in-chief of a Polish liberal daily, was placed on the list of "traitors of the white race" in the past. "I believe I've ended up among a very respectable, select society, I am proud to have been included in such company," Grodzka said yesterday on the TOK FM radio station. She went on to say that the compilation of lists such as those on Redwatch is naturally not a praiseworthy activity. Killion Munzele Munyama, who is also on the list, was born in Zambia and has lived in Poland since the start of the 1980s. He was elected to parliament for the governing Civic Platform party. In his case, right-wing extremists published his telephone number, residential address, and contact information for his wife, as well as offensive commentary, on Redwatch.
The Polish-language version of Redwatch is housed on a server based in the USA. "That is a big complication because its content violates Polish laws but not American ones," said Mariusz Sokolowski, a spokesperson for the Polish Police Presidium. Redwatch is connected to the international neo-Nazi organization Blood and Honor. The Polish branch of this organization, following the model of the Dutch and German branches, was created in 2006. Last year a court in Vratislav sent three right-wing extremists linked to the website to prison for sentences ranging from between 13 and 18 months. However, those convicted never did additional prison time beyond what they had already served in custody. The Redwatch list started several years ago in the Czech Republic as well. As in other countries, the Czech list is intended to serve neo-Nazis as a platform for monitoring and terrorizing selected people.
ISLAMOPHOBIA IN FRANCE ON THE RISE, MUSLIM GROUP CLAIMS
3/11/2011- Islamophobia is on the rise in France, according to figures released by the French Muslim umbrella group, CFCM. Attacks and insults perpetrated against Muslims went 22 per cent in the first nine months of this year, the group says, and it fears that there will be more ahead of next year’s general election. Citing Interior Ministry figures, the CFCM says that 115 cases were reported to the police between the beginning of January and the end of September. But they are a gross underestimate, according to CFCM president Abdallah Zekri, because victims are often loath to go to the authorities. “We can say that the rise, according to statistics we have, is about 50-55 per cent,” he told a press conference in Paris Thursday. The figures cover profanation of cemeteries and mosques, physical attacks, insults, provocations and burning or profanation of the Koran. Zekri called on Interior Minister Claude Guéant to put pressure on the police to “arrest at least some of the people who have committed these acts”, expressing frustration that vandals who attacked cemeteries have not been identified. At between four and six million, France’s Muslim population is the largest in Europe.
FIREBOMB TORCHES FRENCH WEEKLY (France)
The burning of satirical French weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo raises the specter of Muslim violence, and plays straight into the hands of the far right. Christopher Dickey reports.
2/11/2011- It’s a cliché among amateur detectives and conspiracy theorists, of whom France has a great many, that those who benefit most from a crime are the likeliest perpetrators. But that logic isn’t much in evidence when it comes to the burning of the satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo, its Paris headquarters firebombed in the dark hours of Wednesday morning. In this case everyone’s obvious suspects are Muslim radicals hellbent on attacking Charlie Hebdo for the incendiary issue it advertised it would publish this morning. The cover is a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad (the “guest editor”) declaring “100 lashes if you don’t die laughing.” The name of this special issue: Charia Hebdo (Sharia Weekly), referring to the religious code and law of Islam. The attack on the publication did not end with the Molotov cocktail thrown into its offices. Someone hacked into its website, too.
But there’s also little doubt that those who’ll benefit most from this crime are the right-wing politicians in France, including President Nicolas Sarkozy. They play on a generalized resentment of Muslim immigrants in thinly veiled but suggestive language that may broaden the anger still more. Here and throughout Europe—and indeed in the U.S.—Muslims are attacked intolerantly for their alleged intolerance, and the acts of very few are attributed to many. The attack on Charlie Hebdo fits perfectly into that picture. Far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who had just embarked on a somewhat disappointing tour of the United States (Rep. Ron Paul reportedly declined to see her), jumped at the chance to warn against “these political-religious groups that impose their law, and, when they cannot do that, do it with violence.”
President Sarkozy’s political fortunes have been bleak for more than a year now. His approval rating is guttering in the low 30s. But he continues trying to shore up his backing among Le Pen’s traditional constituency. The head of Sarkozy’s party, Jean-François Copé, said the Charlie Hebdo attack “recalls those that can be committed by fundamentalists who manipulate religion for political ends.” Sarkozy’s close associate, Interior Minister Claude Guéant, declared that “the freedom of the press is a sacred freedom in our country,” and “whether one likes or does not like Charlie Hebdo” (which is savagely critical of Sarkozy and Guéant), all the French should stand in solidarity with the publication.
Prominent leftists, including Socialist Party presidential candidate François Hollande, did just that, supporting the weekly and free expression, but with less suggestive talk about who might have been behind the attack. Leading Muslim voices, meanwhile, strongly attacked the attackers. The French Muslim Council, which had taken Charlie Hebdo to court in 2006 after it republished controversial cartoons of Muhammad, flatly condemned the burning of the publication’s offices. Several younger leaders of more liberal groups with large Muslim memberships went to the scene. Sihem Habchi, who heads the women’s movement Ni Putes Ni Soumises (Neither Whores nor Submissives), condemned the act as “a great hurt for the image of Islam.” The head of SOS Racisme, a French government organization combating racism, defended “the idea of a right to blaspheme” and the freedom of the press to “denounce the dogmas of all religions.”
In fact, investigators remain open to the possibility that the perpetrators weren’t Muslim fundamentalists at all. One senior law-enforcement official noted that another issue of Charlie Hebdo had just attacked the crazy elements of the Catholic Church.
© The Daily Beast
3/11/2011- The attack on an 18-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl in a park in Novy Bor last week was racially motivated, local police spokeswoman Ivana Balakova told CTK yesterday. The police already know the perpetrators. There was a group of youths in the place, while the attack was made by an underage boy anda girl under 15, Balakova said, adding that no accusations have been filed as yet. Balakova said the police were still searching for the perpetrators of another attack on a youth from majority population in the town. In both cases, the assailants were Romanies. The two attacks happened last week. In the above attack on Friday the boy suffered concussion and the attackers broke his nose. The girl sustained a head injury. During the night of Sunday a 20-year-old boy was beaten up elsewhere in Novy Bor. "In the case of the Friday incident, it was racially motivated breach of the peace," Balakova said.
The perpetrators are to be tried under the law on underage delinquents. The underage assailant has not yet been accused, Balakova said. "We are still waiting for some medical reports," she added. Given her low age, the girl will not be prosecuted, Balakova said, adding that in her case some educational measures can be imposed. In the other attack, at least two assailants beat up a man, aged 20. The police are still searching for them. The incident is also assessed as breach of the peace, but this time racial motivation has not been confirmed, Balakova said. Special police forces were called in Novy Bor for security reasons in August when a group of local Romanies attacked guests to a bar with machetes. Later, when the situation calmed down in the town, the reinforcements moved to other towns in north Bohemia that also faced escalated tension between the majority population and the Romanies whom allegedly housing speculators moved to the area. People complained of increased crime rate. After the recent attacks, the riot police have returned to Novy Bor.
© The Prague Daily Monitor
1/11/2011- More and more people buy weapons, defence sprays and telescopic truncheons in the Sluknov area hit by tension between the majority population and local Romanies, which, though the northernmost in the Czech Republic, is starting to remind of the Wild West, daily Pravo writes yesterday. It says the interest in buying watchdogs is rising as well in the area where tension has escalated between the majority population and the Romany community. The locals evidently react to the crime rise as a result of the mass influx of unadaptable citizens [mainly Romanies] from all over the Czech Republic, the paper continues. The indignant residents, who demonstrated against the unfavourable development in the past months, no longer rely on the police reinforcements and are trying to protect themselves, Pravo writes.
"It is true. I've got a gun, too," it quotes a 50-year-old taxi driver in Rumburk, a town with 11,500 inhabitants, as saying. Being armed is nothing special with taxi drivers, but most recently, his clients wear defence sprays or truncheons as well, he said. Weapons and pepper sprays in Rumburk are sold by Jan Popisil in his house on the town outskirts. Nothing except a modest table on the gate indicates that weapons are on sale in the house. "I own a shooting range in [the nearby] Krasna Lipa and I train and test applicants for arms licence. I also sell individual pieces of arms," Pospisil told the paper. "Defence sprays are mainly bought by the women who work behind a counter in a bank, office or a library...And, of, course, also by women who do sports and return home from training in the darkness," he said.
Pospisil confirmed that the number of Sluknov residents seeking weapons has been sharply rising now. Thirty people have gained arms licences in his course this year and another group is to complete the tests soon. "People feel apprehensions, I understand it. In the mornings, the car park at the local school is crowded. Parents fear for their kids and prefer to drive them to school," Pospisil said. "On the other hand the situation has somewhat improved owing to the police reinforcements and the municipal police and social office's efforts," added Pospisil, who is a member of the town assembly. The police say they have no information about people's rising interest in weapons, nor have they registered any illegal possession of arms, Pravo writes.
© The Prague Daily Monitor
HATE CRIMES PROBED IN RASHARKIN AND DUNLOY (uk)
31/10/2011- Police are investigating a racist motive for an attack in Rasharkin and a homophobic motive for a separate incident in Dunloy. Some time between 7pm on Tuesday October 25 and 6am on Wednesday October 26 a black Skoda car parked at Bridge Street, Rasharkin, had a rear window smashed. A white-coloured ‘Panther’ female’s bicycle was also stolen during the same incident which happened at the home of an eastern European. A police spokesman said they are treating the Rasharkin incident as a racially-motivated hate crime. And police said they are treating an incident at Braeside Park, Dunloy, on Friday October 28 as a homophobic-motivated hate crime. Around 9.30pm minor damage was caused to the door of a house and police want to hear from anyone who saw people in the vicinity of Braeside Park between 9.30pm and 9.45pm. A man who was in the house at the time was not injured but was “distressed”, according to police. A PSNI spokesperson said: “Hate crimes are crimes committed against people on the basis of their perceived race, disability, political opinion, faith, sexual orientation or gender identity and police in Ballymoney take all reports of these crimes very seriously. “If you have been victimised, don’t allow the aggressor to get away with their crime. Do something for your own sake and for the sake of your community. Reporting hate crime is one way of ensuring that further incidents are prevented and offenders are brought to justice. Contact the local police station and ask to speak to your local Hate Crime and Minority Liaison Officer who will begin an investigation. There is also a facility on the police website where hate crimes can be reported online. Abuse in whatever form should not have to be tolerated.”
© The Ballymoney and Moyle Times
POLICE ASSOCIATION CALLS FOR HOMOPHOBIC RECORDING OF STUART WALKER MURDER (uk)
The Gay Police Association has issued a call for the murder of barman Stuart Walker to be recorded as a homophobic incident.
1/11/2011- Mr Walker was found dead with “horrible” injuries near an industrial estate in Cumnock on Saturday 22 October. He had been beaten and burned. Police arrested an 18-year-old man on Thursday evening in connection with the case. The GPA praised the speed with which the investigation into the killing of Stuart Walker by Strathclyde Police resulted in an arrest but voiced concern that the Force has not been treated as potentially homophobic. It is the concern that failing to classify the death as possibly motivated by homophobia may prevent such evidence surfacing.
The MacPherson report, which followed the murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993, brought about a change in the definition of what constitutes a racist incident to a test of perception. This now extends to homophobia. The ACPOS Hate Crime Manual states: “If a crime is perceived to be a hate crime by the victim or any other person, including a police officer, it should be recorded and investigated as such”. Chief Constable Stephen House said last week there was no reason to believe the attack was homophobic, and it had not been recorded in that way.
The contention raised by the GPA is that the test for homophobia at this stage is one of perception, not evidence, and that not recording an incident as having a potentially homophobic element may therefore mean such evidence never comes to light. A final decision on whether an incident was motivated by homophobia would be made by the court trying the case, after considering evidence gathered during the investigation. Strathclyde Police enjoys a 100% confidence rating in local leadership on issues about gay policing.
When PinkNews.co.uk spoke to Strathclyde Police this afternoon they said they were unable to give details about the Stuart Walker case as an arrest has been made. The service also refused to answer general questions about whether an incident could be recorded as homophobic after an arrest had been made.
© Pink News