ICARE Hate Crime News - Archive December 2011

Headlines 30 December, 2011

Headlines 23 December, 2011

Headlines 16 December, 2011

Headlines 9 December, 2011

Headlines 2 December, 2011

Headlines 30 December, 2011


29/12/2011- News server Aktuálně.cz has revealed more detailed, precise information from the police investigation into a brawl earlier this year that was reported by the media as a racially motivated attack committed by Romani people against ethnic Czechs. Sensationalist reporting of the incident was a factor in sparking the subsequent ethnic unrest that took place in the Šluknov foothills this past fall. Four months later, the facts of the case differ substantially from the initial media reports of it. As it turns out, there is a high probability that the brawl was part of an ongoing battle between two local criminal gangs of drug dealers. "From the investigation conducted by Aktuálně.cz and from the police investigation it is evident that this was a violent incident between two groups of residents of Rumburk and the surrounding area who already knew one another, who had encountered one another more than once that same night prior to the brawl, and who mutually provoked one another," the news server reports.

Aktuálně.cz also describes the event as a brawl between four or five people on each side of the conflict. The others who were present are said to have been onlookers or to have even done their best to prevent the violence. The news server reports that this updated version of the events has been confirmed not only by witnesses, but by people familiar with the police investigation file. Moreover, with one exception, the persons involved were already of interest to police. News server Romea.cz warned at the start of September that the media were reporting the incident in an unethical way because they were not giving the Romani participants in the conflict any room to present their side of the story, which made it likely that the public was receiving significantly biased reporting. The version of the story which Romea.cz published at the time as a possible alternative description of the course of events corresponds in many aspects to the findings now published by Aktuálně.cz: "We were walking home from the discotheque. There were 12 of us, not 20. A local guy ran up to us and said six white guys were beating up a Romani man. We ran over there and five of us, not all 12, got into it with some white guys. During the fighting, both sides were cursing each other as black or white swine. The version of events the media has reported is completely out of touch with reality," a Romani participant in the incident told us at the time.

The distorted publicity given to this incident and to other violent clashes between ethnic Czechs and Romani people unleashed social unrest in the region which lasted for several weeks. Every weekend, several towns in the Šluknov foothills experienced anti-Romani demonstrations, some of which were attended by the neo-Nazi Workers' Social Justice Party (DSSS).
© Romea



The Czech Supreme Court has confirmed exemplary sentences on four Czech who atacked the house of a Roma family with Molotov cocktails

28/12/2011- The Czech Supreme Court (NS) has confirmed sentences of between 20 and 22 years in prison for four Czechs who took part in an arson attack on a Roma family that left a two-year-old nearly dead and scarred for the rest of her life from burns. Court spokesman Petr Knötig said on Wednesday it had found the appeal on behalf of the men “unsubstantiated,” without giving further details. The attack took place in April 2009 when the four threw Molotov cocktails into the family’s house at Vítkov in the north-east of the country. Three people were injured in the attack, the most serious the two-year old who suffered burns to around 80 percent of her body and only survived thanks to her own will power and top medical help. An earlier appeal in March against the sentences for attempted murder with racial motivation said that the original court verdicts, described as exemplary at the time, were tough but not excessive. The original verdict from an Ostrava court said it was clear that the attackers knew that their victims could be killed. A final appeal is possible to the Constitutional Court, but it rarely accepts appeals against sentences handed down for criminal violence.
© Czech Position



29/12/2011- An Arab student was beaten to the ground in a racist attack. The 19-year-old Israeli Arab was walking home towards his host family's home in Hollingdean, Brighton, when he was attacked by four youths. The attack happened at about 11pm on Boxing Day in Horton Road but police have only now released details of what happened. The four men ran up behind the victim and punched and kicked him to the ground before following him home where they threw a bottle at the house. He was left with cuts and bruises and a deep cut to his jaw. The suspects are all described as being white and in their late teens to early twenties. Detective Constable Emily Hoare said: “This is being investigated as a hate crime, as racist language was used during the assault and we believe the victim's evident ethnicity motivated the suspects to commit this offence.”
© The Argus



Indian student shot dead on Boxing Day may have been victim of a racist hate crime, say detectives

29/12/2011- The murder of an Indian student who was shot in the head at point-blank range on Boxing Day is being treated as a suspected racist hate crime, police have revealed. Micro-electronics postgraduate Anuj Bidve, was murdered in the early hours of 26 December as he made his way with nine friends from his hotel in Salford to central Manchester to queue up early for Christmas sales. Investigators say that although there is no specific evidence of the crime being racially motivated they are responding to those affected by the crime who believe it to be a hate crime. Five people aged between 16 and 20 remain in police custody on suspicion of murder, including a 17-year-old who handed himself in to police on Tuesday evening, in what police have described as a fast-moving investigation.

Police have found no previous link between 23-year-old Bidve and those involved in the killing, believed to be two white males, which took place at 1.35am. The "straight-A" student from Pune, India who was studying at Lancaster University, had a "very short conversation" with the two males before a gun was drawn and aimed at Bidve's head. The gunman and his associate are thought to have fled to towards the Ordsall estate near the scene of another fatal shooting in September and which has been described by locals as rough. A Home Office pathologist has confirmed that Bidve died after suffering gun trauma to the head. Police also said they were working with the Indian high commission and other agencies to help fly the victim's family from India to Manchester in the next few days.

Chief Superintendent Kevin Mulligan, divisional commander for Salford, said: "We have not established a clear motive for the senseless murder of Anuj, and there is no definitive evidence pointing to it being racially motivated. However, we are treating this as a hate crime based on the growing perceptions within the community it was motivated by hate. "What I want to stress is that regardless of the motive, it does not change the way detectives from our major incident team are investigating this murder and from day one we have pursued every possible line of inquiry to identify who is responsible for this despicable crime, including CCTV trawls, detailed forensic and ballistic investigations, witness statements and house-to-house inquiries.

"Thanks to the work of staff across the whole of Greater Manchester police, we have made five arrests and all five remain in custody. I cannot comment for obvious reasons about the progress of the investigation but I would like to again take this opportunity to thank people in our community who have come forward and given us information. " Police said they were duty bound to investigate crimes as hate crimes if they are reported as such. A police source added that the classification also allowed officers to pursue other avenues and leads which would not otherwise be open to them later on in the investigation. Mulligan confirmed that no murder weapon has been recovered. "We really need that support to continue and I want to urge anyone who knows something to call us. As yet, we have not recovered the murder weapon and I want to implore people to be brave and come forward if they know the whereabouts of that weapon."

Dr Bharati Kar, the general secretary of the Greater Manchester Bengali and Hindu cultural association, said racism was far less of a problem now that it was two decades ago and that her own children had not reported any racist incidents to her recently. Kar said that she was very pleased that Greater Manchester police were taking the reports that the crime was racially motivated seriously. "I'll be glad if the actual cause is discovered [along with] the killer," she said. Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, local resident Susan Wilson, 57, said: "This lovely young man has come here to further his education and people whose lives revolve around violence have killed him. For this to happen in our neighbourhood is devastating and we're all very upset about it. It's like the whole country is looking at Ordsall now because of this. "The area doesn't have a great reputation but we want people to know what's happened doesn't represent this area or the people living here."
© The Guardian



27/12/2011- British police investigating the killing of Indian student Anuj Bidve by a white man is not ruling out racism as a motive for the incident. The unnamed white man had a brief conversation with Bidve, 23, when he and his other Indian friends were moving towards the Manchester city centre. The white man then pulled out a handgun and shot him in the head. Chief Superintendent Kevin Mulligan, divisional commander for Salford, said a racial motive for the killing was not being ruled out. "We are investigating every possible aspect." Bidve was a postgraduate student at Lancaster University studying Microelectronics. The police said the students, who had not been drinking, were walking towards the city centre and became aware of two men on the other side of the street. The gunman, a white male in his 20s who was wearing a grey top, was accompanied by another white man who the police said was of a heavier build and was wearing a black jacket. Post mortem results are expected to confirm today that Bidve died of a single gunshot wound to the head. Initial witness statements have been taken from the other eight students who are now "in a safe place" being cared for by the police until they return to Lancaster university, Mulligan said. A spokeswoman for Lancaster University said counselling and support has been organised for Bidve's friends who were described as "deeply upset".
© The Economic Times



Figures recently released by the NUS reveal that nearly one in four physically-impaired students have been a victim of a hate crime.

27/12/2011- A survey of over a thousand disabled students revealed that those with visible impairments – such as physical or sensory – were significantly more likely to experience disability related prejudice. 43 percent of the students admitted to changing their appearance or habits in an attempt to avoid hate incidents, often meaning they went out less or attempted to disguise their disability. 80 students reported experiencing at least one hate incident whilst studying at their current institution and a large proportion of those incidents occurred in or around their place of learning. While this number was relatively low, the survey found that these students were more likely to have experienced such behaviour multiple times.

The survey found very few incidents were reported on by the victim. Only one in five students reported the incidents to their university and only 12 percent reported them to the police. However, 66 percent of disabled respondents did not know if their university or college provided information about where victims of hate incidents could go for help and support. NUS Disabled Students’ Officer Ruby Kaur stated in response to the report: “It’s clear more needs to be done by our universities”.

The survey also revealed that students are very concerned about the possibilities of disability related prejudice. A third of physically impaired students stated they were “fairly worried” about being subject to abuse. Moreover, 43 percent of the respondents who described themselves as having a “health condition, impairment or disability” altered their “behaviour, personal appearance or daily patterns” in order to avoid hate incidents. The report states that those victims who changed their behaviour and habits often became isolated and socially withdrawn. Often they attempted to hide their impairments. One respondent said: “I try not to look as disabled as possible, eg. walking without my crutches.”

However, Mansfield College student Rosie Chesterton, who uses a wheelchair, stated: “I’ve not experienced any hate crimes during my time in Oxford. I have found both students and staff to be very helpful, friendly and inclusive.” She claimed that the college, and university, have been very supportive and that, where necessary, “adjustments to my needs have been made”.

The NUS has made ten recommendations to FE and HE institutions based on the results of the survey, which range from strengthening the existing support services to providing flexible options for students to report hate incidents. Andrew Dunne, OUSU Students with Disabilities Officer, stated that “OUSU supports the aims of the NUS” and added that “this is not something that has been brought up in any survey targeting those with disabilities. I will however, be carrying out a survey to see if there is an issue early next term.” The survey results were released on 16th December.
© The Oxford Student



27/12/2011- Thirty war graves of Muslim soldiers who fought in World War I have been attacked and defaced in the southern city of Carcassonne. Racist insults and swastikas were painted on the graves, which are identified by the Islamic symbols of the star and crescent. Slogans including “France for the French” and “Arabs out” were painted on some of the gravestones, reported daily newspaper Le Figaro. The graves of Muslim soldiers in the same graveyard were attacked earlier this year in September. Abdallah Zekri, president of a body that monitors Islamophobia, condemned the attacks on the graves of soldiers who “died for France.” He pointed to a “significant and very worrying increase in Islamophobia in France.” He said such attacks are up by 34 percent in 2011. In November alone, these included six fires at mosques in the country. The graves were cleaned and a religious ceremony to honour the dead is planned for Tuesday morning.
© The Local - France



An investigation is being launched into allegations of assault made by former Dutch-Surinamese football player Edu Nandlal while being held by police in the city of Utrecht.

26/12/2011- According to Nandlal, he was stopped by police on Christmas Eve and was pulled from his vehicle. He subsequently fell to the ground on his face. He was then taken to a police station and held there on Saturday night in connection with a burglary. Nandlal says he was further assaulted during the questioning. Police say he refused to cooperate, but that there was no question of assault. After spending a night behind bars, Nandlal claims a catheter was inserted in the wrong way, causing him to pass blood. When he was released on Sunday morning, he went to a hospital, which, according to Nandlal, confirmed he had a haemorrhage in his bladder.

Arrest a mistake
Police have since confirmed Nandlal had nothing to do with the burglary. Nandlal had been packing some belongings of his daughter into his car, which a neighbour mistook for burglary and reported it to the police. The mayor of Utrecht, Aleid Wolfsen, said he had requested the public prosecutor to investigate the incident. Nandlal said he still intends filing a report for assault. Radjindernath "Edu" Nandlal was born in Paramaribo. He moved from Suriname to the Netherlands in 1980 at the age of 17. During his football career, he played for FC Utrecht, FC Emmen and Vitesse. He was one of the footballers that survived the Surinam Airways Flight PY764 air crash in Paramaribo on 7 June, 1989, in which 176 people died.
© Radio Netherlands Worldwide


Headlines 23 December, 2011


Two Wahhabi men are suspects for the desecration of a Jewish cemetery.

23/12/2011- Two Muslim men from the Wahhabi sect are suspected by Kosovo police of spraying swastikas on tombstones in Pristina’s Jewish cemetery on November 29th. Dozens of tombstones of Jewish families from the region who perished during World War II were sprayed with swastikas. The desecration was loudly condemned.
Police intelligence sources described the alleged perpetrators as extremist followers of the Wahhabi radical Islamic sect. Major Baki Kelani, Kosovo Police spokesperson, told Balkan Insight on Thursday that no suspects have been arrested yet. The Jewish cemetery has been neglected for many years. During the summer, American and Kosovo students restored it by clearing the waste deposited in and outside the graveyard. The German Embassy in Kosovo has engaged a special company to clean the Nazi swastikas from the tombstones.
© Balkan Insight



22/12/2011- Incidents of religious and ethnically based violence continue to sow unease in Turkey, raising the question of whether a country that pitches itself as a cultural and religious mosaic is becoming more and more intolerant. The most recent example occurred in Izmir at the weekend. Gazi Akbayir, a young man originally from Tunceli, was brutally murdered by a group of men after he requested that musicians in a bar sing a folk song in Zaza Kurdish, his native language. In October, a Turkish-Armenian woman was exposed to verbal and physical abuse by a taxi driver after being asked about her ethnicity. Intolerance in Turkey has been the subject of several studies, which point to a worrisome trend of increasing xenophobia and racism.

An August poll by Yizmaz Eser of Bahcesehir University showed that Turkish society is becoming more nationalistic and intolerant, with the majority of respondents saying they do not want to live next to non-Muslims. Another survey, conducted in June by the polling company Konda, revealed that 57.6% of ethnic Turks would not marry a Kurd, while 47.4% do not even want a Kurd as a neighbour.
Analysing the trend, Nilgun Tutal Cheviron, a sociologist at Galatasaray University, says that identity structures have hardened in Turkey, as in elsewhere around the globe. "With the expansion of global boundaries, some communities or individuals feel global trends are a threat to their own values and ideological conceptions, leading them to close up into their identity shells where they feel themselves to be much more comfortable," she explains.

According to some analysts, today's intolerance is a reflection of the failure of the Kemalist revolution -- and in particular secularism -- to take root in all sectors of society in the early Republican period. "The ruling elites of Turkey had expected that religion would be diminished and be limited only to the private lives of people in the 1920s and 30s, but their expectations did not materialise," explains Professor Ali Murat Yel of Marmara University. He argues the state privileged Sunni Islam -- followed by the majority of Turks – and denied other religious minorities even very basic religious rights and freedoms. The "Turkish nation-state assumed that Turkey is for Turks only," argues Yel. According to that conception, those who did not feel themselves to be "Turk" don't belong in the country.

However, at the same time there is a common view of Anatolia as a cultural mosaic in which different cultures and religions have lived side by side in peace over the centuries. "But, it is a myth," explained Yel, "because living side by side does not mean living together." "Now, Turks face a new challenge of living with the other for the first time in their history and their initial reactions are understandable to some extent," he notes, pointing to the rise in urbanisation over the past several decades.

But why the violence?
Sociologist Nilüfer Narli argues that the rise of violence in urban areas is very much related to the increased number of semi-educated, professionally unqualified and frustrated young men who are angry with themselves, and use violence as a tool. And as wealth distribution in Turkey has become more unequal, sociologists say politicians use nationalism as an antidote to render society incapable of questioning the unequal distribution of wealth. "In Turkey, the authoritarian structure of the state and its anti-democratic inclination is re-produced via a populist nationalistic discourse labeled as Sunni-White-Turk," explained Cheviron, adding that such a patriarchal and nationalistic structure gives legitimacy to ethnic, religious and gender-based violence.

At present, Turkey is on track to harmonise a number of laws on the rights of minorities within the EU accession process and began to criminalise some of the most flagrant forms of discrimination. The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance constantly warns Turkey about the need to strengthen its criminal law provisions. "There is a need for comprehensive revision of the existing legislation and to establish protection mechanisms or specific bodies to combat racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance," noted the European Commission's 2011 Progress Report for Turkey.
© The Turkish Weekly



A judge has handed down prison sentences of between four and six years to four young men charged with attempting to kill a man at a Berlin metro station earlier this year.

21/12/2011- The three 18-year-olds and one 15-year-old were convicted of attempted murder for attacking a 30-year-old house painter and his co-worker at the German capital’s Lichtenberg U-Bahn station in February. The victim’s co-worker escaped with minor injuries, but the 30-year-old suffered massive brain trauma during the beating and remains severely injured. During the trial, prosecutors argued that the accused – all of whom are from immigrant backgrounds – had been motivated by “hate of Germans” and “having fun by committing gratuitous violence against the weak.” The teens told police that they had been provoked after the man shouted the Nazi salute “Seig Heil” at them, but police dismissed that claim after speaking to witnesses. Authorities expressed shock when the incident took place, with Berlin’s interior weighing in with strong condemnation. They also said they were surprised no bystanders stepped in to protect the helpless victim. The incident was one of several recent attacks at public transportation facilities that left the German public angry and authorities struggling to improve security. In a similar incident in April, a German teen was sentenced to nearly three years in prison for attacking a man at Berlin’s Friedrichstraße U-Bahn station. In that case, a witness did step in to stop the violence.
© The Local - Germany


FAIR PLAY FOR MIGRANTS (Ireland, editorial)

20/12/2011- Anyone who has witnessed racial abuse in the street will have some inkling of the distress it can cause. Just as people are reluctant to complain about poor food or inadequate services, however, there is an unfortunate tendency to ignore the incident rather than challenge the abuser. Such behaviour allows the canker to grow and poison society. Individual courage and civic spirit are required if society is to cherish its residents equally.The Immigrant Council of Ireland has warned of an increase in racial incidents because of a misconception that migrants are benefiting unfairly from Irish jobs, entitlements and public services. Racist abuse ranges from spitting, pushing and beating people to shouting and verbal abuse. Former president Mary Robinson cautioned of the dangers these actions posed to a civilised society and said racist abuse did not arise from a real threat to jobs or livelihoods but represented an effort to find someone to blame for things that had gone wrong.

More than half a million workers came here during the boom years and contributed significantly to the growth and wealth of the economy and to social diversity. Even then, when unemployment was a fraction of what it is today and jobs were readily available, racist attitudes became a cause for concern. In response, all political parties signed up to an anti-racist programme while the Government established structures to provide for migrants’ requirements, their integration and additional school places for children. It has not been enough. Sr Stan Kennedy complained of a lack of clarity on immigration policy and described the system as “chaotic, bureaucratic, cumbersome and lacking in transparency”. It appears that some official and public attitudes will have to change.

A long-term benefit from the Celtic Tiger has been the creation of a multicultural society, with 35,000 newly naturalised citizens and 500,000 immigrants. The great majority are very hard working and wish to make a positive contribution to their adopted country. A relatively small number lack work visas and are vulnerable to exploitation and ill treatment. In that regard, they are no different from the tens of thousands of undocumented Irish in the United States who live in fear of repatriation. At home, the Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland deals with an estimated 30,000 people and favours the introduction of an earned regularisation scheme. It would not be an amnesty. People would register for the scheme, pay a fine and receive temporary residency status. Individuals could then work their way towards earning permanent residency status through regular employment, paying taxes and contributing to the community. A similar scheme is being sought for Irish emigrants in the United States. Such an approach is both practical and enlightened, offering benefits to society as a whole and to the individuals concerned. Migration will remain one of the few certainties in life. We should learn to live with it and benefit from it.
© The Irish Times.



23/12/2011- A Chinese woman was subjected to a period of “continued racist abuse” on board a Cardiff-bound train in what detectives have described as an “extremely intimidating” incident. The 35-year-old, from Cardiff, endured around 20 minutes of verbal abuse and was also hit during the “frightening” episode after boarding a train at Pontypridd station. British Transport Police (BTP) have now released CCTV images of two men they wish to speak to in connection with the incident. Investigating officer PC Jon Childs said: “The victim, a 35-year-old woman from Cardiff, boarded the 9.51pm Aberdare to Penarth train at Pontypridd and sat opposite a group of young men. She was immediately approached by two of the men, one of whom assaulted her. “The victim was also subjected to continued racial abuse. This frightening attack continued until she got off the train 20 minutes later.”

Having viewed CCTV footage officers have identified two people they would like to trace in connection with the incident, which happened on Saturday, November 26. “The first man is in his 20s, around 5ft 9in with fair hair,” said PC Childs. “The second, who is also in his 20s and around the same height, has dark brown, collar-length curly hair. “We’ve made local inquiries in an attempt to obtain names for these men but have had no success so far. “I am hopeful that someone will recognise these two individuals, who we are extremely keen to speak to as we believe they may have key information that could assist us with this investigation.” PC Childs added: “This was an extremely intimidating and unprovoked attack on a victim travelling alone. BTP and the rail industry will not tolerate any form of hate crime on the rail network and we will pursue those responsible. “I would ask anyone who witnessed the incident or recognises the men in these photographs to come forward and speak to the police.”
© Wales Online



23/12/2011- A lesbian from Oxfordshire has said she was driven out of her home by months of homophobic abuse. Siobhan Fogarty lived in Banbury with her girlfriend but after threats and intimidation from neighbours and people on the street she decided to leave. She said: "It was a really intimidating experience pretty much all the time and sent both of us into depression." Ms Fogarty said she did not contact the police about the harassment she received. Last year police investigated just under 5,000 homophobic crimes offences in the UK.

'More pain'
But gay rights groups say that many more offences go unreported. "People have to do what's safest for them as individuals," Ms Fogarty said. "If that means someone can't face going into a police station and being told: 'That doesn't count, that's not big enough, your pain doesn't really matter in a legal sense,' then that's just going to make more pain on the person that's already been victimised." Insp Omar Abu-Rish, from Thames Valley Police, said hate crime was totally unacceptable and urged people to come forward. He said: "We will deal with anything we are contacted about. "We are there to support the victims and to deal with the offenders."
© BBC News



23/12/2011- Police are investigating whether two men were mugged because of their sexual orientation. An 18-year-old man from Brighton and a 21-year-old man from Eastbourne were asked for directions by two men on a moped in Sutherland Avenue, Bexhill, at about 5pm yesterday. The driver got off the bike leaving it running, before demanding they hand over a mobile phone. They headed off on the moped in the direction of Collington Avenue. PC Ian Rise said: "This is being investigated as a hate crime, as homophobic language was used during the theft and the victims believe their sexual orientation motivated the suspects to commit this offence. "The victims were uninjured during the theft, but were shocked by what has happened and we are offering our ongoing support." Police believe a stolen moped may have been used during the theft. A red Honda CBR 125 stolen the previous day and recovered in Seven Acre Close, Hastings, is currently being forensically examined. The first suspect riding the moped is described as 6ft, athletic build, broad shoulders, wearing a dark coloured helmet with the visor across his eyes, wearing zip-up jacket. The passenger is described as 6ft, medium build, wearing a leather jacket, wearing dark coloured helmet.
© The Argus



22/12/2011- A gang of up to seven men racially abused and attacked two men on their way home from the pub, leaving one of them with a fractured eye socket and leg. The victims were set upon after having derogatory comments shouted at them near The Windmill in Gossops Green. The two men, who are originally from Mauritius, were on their way home at about 11pm on November 26 when they were attacked by the group. DC Rebecca Wilde said: "This was an appalling assault resulting in one of the victims receiving a serious eye injury. "We believe that several people may have witnessed it from the nearby parade of shops." Crawley District Commander Steve Curry added: "Sussex Police will not tolerate racially motivated attacks of this nature." The suspects are described as white and 18 to 22 years old. One was wearing a grey hooded top with a black and white flower pattern bandana across the lower half of his face. Another had blonde hair and was wearing a white T-shirt.
© This is Sussex



19/12/2011- A machete-wielding dog owner screamed racist abuse at a Nigerian man who complained about being bitten by his Rottweiler - then later told police the animal had nipped the male nurse because it 'didn't like black people'. Nurse Patrick Ogunobo, 57, was nipped at by the unleashed Rottweiler yards from his Openshaw home. When he told the dog’s owner, Wolf Carter, that the animal should be on a lead, the thug screamed racist abuse before pulling the machete from his backpack and lunging at him. Mr Ogunobo bravely stood his ground, grabbing Carter’s wrist and wrestling the blade from him. Police arrested Carter, who claimed his dog did not like black people because a previous owner, a black man, had mistreated the animal. But Manchester Crown Court heard the 41-year-old loner’s police interview was peppered with racist rants, described as ‘worrying’ and ‘bizarre’ by the judge.

Carter will now spend 18-months behind bars after he was found guilty of possessing an offensive weapon in a trial earlier this year. He was not charged with any offence in connection with the dog’s behaviour. As a result, the animal has escaped being put down. Mr Ogunobo later told the M.E.N. how he had acted instinctively when confronted with the blade. He said: “I asked him [Carter], could he put the dog on a lead. “He said: ‘Shut up you ******** African, do you want me to show you what I have got?’ “He had a bag on his back and then opened it and pulled out a machete and came to attack me. “I said to myself I wasn’t going to run – I’m going to stand up to him. “I grabbed his wrist and I tried to get the machete away from me. After I got it off him he then put his dog on a lead and walked away.”

Mr Ogunobo, who moved to England in 1984 from his native Nigeria, said he was still suffering the after-effects of his ordeal. He said: “It’s made me lose confidence. “I have had lots of nightmares and I’m still scared. “I have lived in Britain for almost 30 years and I have never had such an experience in my life. Nobody has ever attacked me or threatened my life.” Jobless Carter still maintains his innocence. At a sentencing hearing, Mark Friend, defending, described him as ‘an unusual character’ who lived a ‘nomadic and solitary’ lifestyle and spent most of his time exercising the dog. Judge Roger Thomas QC said the offence was aggravated by racial abuse and in the most serious category of its kind. Jailing Carter for the May 2 incident, he said: “The fact you were there in the middle of the day, with a camouflage backpack with a machete in it, gives some insight into the curious kind of thinking and lifestyle you have.”
© The North & East Manchester Advertiser



The number of Essex primary schools reporting racist abuse incidents has virtually doubled over the last seven years, it has been revealed.

19/12/2011- Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show 105 schools reported an instance of abuse in 2010/11, compared with 53 in 2003/4. Critics argue the increase is simply down to schools getting better at reporting incidents. Yet the number of both Essex secondary and infant schools reporting racist abuse dropped over the same period, from 49 to 45 and 15 to 12 respectively. Last year, the 105 primary schools reporting racial incidents recorded a total of 164 cases – which is an increase on the 139 reported in 2003/4. Figures peaked in 2009/10 when there were 164 incidents reported. Jean Quinn, of the north Essex National Union of Teachers, rejected the idea racism had gone up, arguing reporting had just got better. She said: “I’d say the number of schools who could get to grips with the legislation and feel confident of carrying it out has increased as time has gone on.”

Reporting racist incidents in schools was made a requirement by the Government following the fatal stabbing of Stephen Lawrence in 1993. Vibha Osbon, a development worker at Tendring and Colchester Minority Ethnic Partnership, was concerned by the figures and said the underlying problem could be even worse. She said: “We are concerned because people are not always reporting racist incidents – in some cases they might not even know how to report them.” She believes some incidents are classified wrongly, such as racism being reported as bullying instead. “I think we need better promotion of education and training for everyone, concerning how to recognise racism and report it.”

She continued: “The demographics have changed too – there’s more ethnic minorities in Colchester for example. Councillor Stephen Castle, cabinet member for education at Essex County Council, said: “We take racism very seriously and during the past year we have been holding race equality sessions with headteachers across the county. “These sessions have highlighted the need to act on issues of racism within our schools and encouraged a greater level of reporting, which is why we have seen an increase in the number of incidents. “We will continue to work with schools to ensure that such issues are reported effectively.”
© The East Anglian Daily Times


Headlines 16 December, 2011


14/12/2011- An Italian far-right author shot dead two Senegalese vendors and wounded three in Florence on Tuesday before killing himself in a daylight shooting spree that prompted outpourings of grief in the historic city. Witnesses said they saw the gunman calmly getting out of a car at a street market on Piazza Dalmazia, north of the city centre, and firing off three shots that instantly killed two vendors and seriously wounded a third. The white assailant, identified by authorities as 50-year-old Gianluca Casseri, then moved on to the San Lorenzo market in the centre -- a popular destination for the thousands of tourists who visit Florence every day -- where he wounded two more vendors. Casseri then turned the gun -- a Magnum Smith & Wesson revolver according to news reports -- on himself after he was surrounded by police. Around 200 Senegalese marched through the city in an angry protest after the shootings, shouting "Shame!" and "Racists!" Hundreds of immigrants were later seen praying on their knees in tears in front of Florence's famous cathedral.

"The heart of Florence is crying today," Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi said in a Twitter message, declaring the city would hold a day of mourning Wednesday and would pay to repatriate the bodies to Senegal. "I think the pain for the lives that have been cut short is not only for the Senegalese community but for all the citizens of our city," Renzi said. International Cooperation and Integration Minister Andrea Riccardi and a Senegalese imam will attend a ceremony at Florence city hall on Wednesday. "The Senegalese are good people, people who never get into trouble, who work every day," one Senegalese man told news channel SkyTG24. Another man said: "These lads who were killed were only earning money for their wives, their fathers, their children." Roccangelo Tritto, a spokesman for local Carabinieri police, told AFP that the man wounded at Piazza Dalmazia would live but remain paralysed for life. The other two men were also in a serious condition -- one with a wound to the abdomen and another shot in the chest.

Casseri was the author of fantasy novels including "The Key of Chaos" about a wizard, a mathematician and an alchemist, which enjoyed some popularity. He also wrote an academic paper about Dracula folklore and was the editor of a niche magazine about fantasy and horror fiction and comics. Casseri lived on his own in the Tuscan countryside near Pistoia. He was also a member of Casa Pound, a right-wing community group that is seen as more intellectual than other far-right organisations. "He was a bit strange, a bit of a loner but he didn't seem crazy. He was living in his own world," said Fabio Barsanti, a regional coordinator for Casa Pound. "He didn't seem capable of doing something like this," he said, adding: "We are against any type of violence. We consider the Senegalese humans like us." Barsanti said Casseri was known locally mostly as a World War I buff. While Casa Pound distanced itself from Casseri's actions, left-wingers were quick to pin the blame on a climate of racism in the country. Walter Veltroni, a lawmaker from the centre-left Democratic Party, said the shootings were "a terrorist attack by a right-wing extremist." "What happened in Florence is the product of a climate of intolerance against foreigners that has grown over the years," he said.

Nichi Vendola, leader of the Left, Ecology and Liberty party, condemned what he said was "a racist and fascist Italy that sows hatred." At the scene of the first shooting in Piazza Dalmazia, eyewitnesses quoted by Italian media said they were in shock and a newspaper seller said the gunman told him: "Get out of the way or I'll bump you off next." "I heard the shots but I thought they were fireworks. Then I turned around and I saw three men on the ground in a pool of blood," one vendor said. Another man said: "There are often Senegalese guys here who sell the usual stuff, they don't bother anyone and no one was expecting this." African vendors can be seen on the streets of Italy's main cities selling sculptures, trinkets and fake designer handbags. They are often selling their wares illegally but are popular with tourists and local residents.



Sixteen-year-old confesses she made up story that prompted mob to torch camp in Turin district

11/12/2011- A 16-year-old Italian girl whose claim that she was raped by Gypsies prompted a furious mob to launch an arson attack on a Turin Roma camp has admitted to police that she invented her story. Hundreds of residents of the deprived Turin suburb of Vallette took to the streets on Saturday to protest after the girl, who has not been named, claimed she had been dragged behind a building and raped by two Gypsy men. A splinter group of around 50 residents then marched towards a nearby camp where they reportedly called for all women and children to leave before throwing firecrackers and setting fire to caravans, shacks and cars. Police officers evacuated the camp moments before the group arrived and no injuries were reported, but fire crews were unable to prevent the camp being destroyed.

The girl's brother, who initially backed her story, arrived with police as the flames grew to announce his sister had confessed to inventing the episode, but his appeal to call off the attack came too late. Italian daily La Repubblica reported the girl had promised her family she would remain a virgin until she married and lied about the rape after sleeping with her boyfriend. Built during Italy's postwar boom years to accommodate southern Italian migrants arriving to work in Turin's factories, the Vallette neighbourhood is fringed by fields and sits next to a new football stadium opened this season by Juventus. Beside the stadium is the site of an old hunting lodge once owned by Italy's former royal family, the Savoys, where Roma people have set up camp, incurring the hostility of locals.

Paola Bragantini, Turin secretary for Italy's centre-left Democratic party, said the mob that attacked the camp at the weekend was made up of hardcore, or "ultra", Juventus supporters, who recently gained notoriety for yelling racist abuse at black Italian footballer Mario Balotelli. Piero Fassino, the mayor of Turin, denounced the "lynch mob" mentality of the arsonists, but Bragantini suggested they were feeding off resentment of Gypsies, which has become widespread in Italy. "Those who know only violence and seek any excuse for fighting have exploited the exasperation of the people who have wanted to close down the Gypsy camp for years," said Bragantini, who added that the mob shouted football chants as the camp burned.
© The Guardian



Two men and one woman were to go on trial on Monday charged with attacking a 24-year-old Afghan asylum seeker in Athens earlier this year.

12/12/2011- The three are accused of brutally beating and stabbing Ali Rahimi on September 16, in what Human Right Watch Monday described as a “sobering reminder of increasing racist violence” in the country. They were allegedly part of a larger group of about 15 people who encircled Rahimi and two other Afghans before assaulting them in the central Athens neighborhood of Aghios Panteleimonas, where racial tensions have been running high over the past couple of years due to some residents and extremist opposing the large presence of immigrants. “The prosecution of this vicious attack sends an important message, but it is the tip of the iceberg,” said Judith Sunderland, senior Western Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch on Monday. “If the authorities responded properly to racist violence, this trial would be one of many instead of a rarity,” Sunderland added. According to the organization, the Pakistani Community of Greece documented attacks on 60 Pakistani men in the first three months of 2011. In April, a large group of people allegedly attacked the Somali community center, injuring 10 Somalis and destroying the center. And in May, a man from Bangladesh was found dead after foreign immigrants were accused of killing a Greek man in central Athens. But the circumstances surrounding his death have not been determined. Rahimi, the victim of the September 16 attack, was hit on the head with a bottle and stabbed in the chest and back, HRW said. Two more Afghan men managed to flee, and one later identified two of the alleged suspects to the police, it said.
© Kathimerini



Police are crediting a decline in random street violence in Oslo this month on a concerted effort by themselves and the public to battle it. One woman from Congo, however, was still the target of an ugly racist attack in the midst of holiday and Nobel Peace Prize celebrations.

12/12/2011- Jessica Kiil, a mother of three and active participant in local community debate, had been celebrating her own birthday with two friends on Saturday night, just as two other women from Africa were among those being hailed for winning the Peace Prize earlier in the day. “We talked about all kinds of things, but also about how fantastic and inspiring it was that two of three Peace Prize winners are Africans,” Kiil told newspaper Aftenposten on Monday. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) had reported on its national nightly newscast the evening before, though, that as Kiil walked near the Grand Hotel where the Peace Prize banquet was held, she was confronted by a man and a woman who blocked her path as she headed for a late bus home. “Get her! Kill her!” shrieked the woman, according to Kiil. “Go back where you came from!” Then she was punched in the stomach and beaten. Passersby reacted, came to her assistance and called for an ambulance that took her to a nearby emergency clinic.

Kiil was knocked unconscious and suffered arm and leg injuries in the assault. The assailants escaped arrest, at least so far. Police were shaken by the latest example of hate crime in Oslo and Kiil was being urged to file a full police report on the incident. One officer told NRK that such assaults are disturbing but not uncommon. Nor does Kari Helene Partapuoli of Norway’s Antirasistisk Senter (Anti-racism Center) think Kiil’s story is unique. “For many of us it’s difficult to understand that such things can happen in our country,” she told newspaper Aftenposten on Monday. “Police should make hate crimes a priority.” Incidents of random street violence otherwise are down so far in December, typically a difficult month for police because of holiday parties and excessive drunkenness. Bjørn Åge Hansen of the central police station in Oslo said exact numbers weren’t available yet, but he told Aftenposten that his station has taken in far fewer assault reports this month than in earlier Decembers.

“I have no doubt it’s because of higher awareness of the random rapes we’ve had, and the subsequent increase in police on the streets, civilian patrols, more regulation of bars and nightclubs and other measures,” Hansen said. Seven reports of assault were reported during the weekend, including one incident where a man’s ear was bitten off by his assailant at a popular concert hall downtown.
© Views and News from Norway



The SNP majority at the Scottish Parliament pushed through the legislation aimed at tackling sectarian crime at football despite opposition to it.

14/12/2011- Controversial laws intended to crack down on hate crime at football matches have been pushed through the Scottish Parliament despite opposition to it. Football fans protesting against the bill turned out at Holyrood to highlight their opposition to it before it was passed through by the SNP majority on Wednesday. The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications will mean that offenders can receive a maximum five-year prison sentence for two new crimes. The first offence is aimed at targeted any offensive and threatening behaviour expressed at and around football matches which is likely to cause public disorder.

While a second offence created on Wednesday relates to the communication of threats of serious harm or which are intended to stir up religious hatred on the internet or other communications. While the SNP championed the new legislation as bringing Scotland into the 21st century, all of the opposition parties at Holyrood voted against the proposals during a heated debate. Community Safety Minister Roseanna Cunningham welcomed the passing of new law. She said:"This Bill sends out an important message about the kind of Scotland we want to live in, because the vast majority of people in this country have no time whatsoever for the kind of mindless bigotry that has attached itself to the small minority who only damage and undermine our beautiful game - or those who peddle hatred by sitting behind a computer screen posting threats of harm on the internet.

"This is the 21st century, and this kind of behaviour is simply not acceptable, so action had to be taken. The passing of these important new laws sends out a powerful message to the bigots that this behaviour will not be tolerated in a modern Scotland. "The police and the Lord Advocate, the most senior law officer in Scotland, now have the additional tools they have asked for to do their difficult job.” She added: "The message today is, by all means enjoy the banter and passionate support for your football teams, even passionate opposition of other football teams - it is the lifeblood of football. But sectarianism and other expressions of hate are not acceptable and it is time for it to stop. From now on, those engaging in it will face the full force of the law."

Labour, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Greens and Independent MSP Margo MacDonald issued a joint statement after the vote at Holyrood. It read: "Members of all political parties are determined to wipe the blight of sectarianism from Scottish society. It is of real regret that the first piece of legislation passed by this new parliament has been railroaded through by the SNP. "The SNP has used its majority to force through bad law that risks doing more harm than good. It sets a worrying precedent for this parliament. "The SNP has failed to make the case for the legislation both in parliament and out, with football fans, religious organisations, anti-sectarianism organisations, children's charities, the Law Society, the Human Rights Commission and the Scottish Justices Association all raising genuine concerns with the SNP legislation. "We believe a far more effective response is to focus on education and young people, working with the churches and football authorities on positive, practical, evidence-based measures that tackle the root causes of sectarianism, as well as robust application of existing laws."

Anti-sectarianism charity Nil By Mouth’s campaign director Dave Scott said that the bill would not necessarily wipe out the bigoted offending. He added: "The debate around this bill has polarised the political parties but it has now become law and time will tell how effective and enforceable it proves to be. "However sectarianism goes far beyond football and Facebook. It exists in our institutions, workplaces, communities, and homes and the real battleground is not the terraces, but the hearts and minds of our people. "We do want to see another generation lost to the battles of the past so it is vital that we now focus on identifying, and challenging, the root causes of sectarianism."



12/12/2011- Race hate in the Lothians has soared over the last three years despite a sharp fall in recorded crime overall, new figures reveal. The number of victims of racial incidents, including verbal abuse and physical attacks, has leapt by 19 per cent in the last year alone and by a quarter since 2008. Figures released under Freedom of Information laws show the Pakistani community suffers more racial prejudice than any other ethnic group – accounting for almost 20 per cent of all victims. Perhaps surprisingly, people described as “white Scottish” were the fourth most victimised group in 2010/11, behind “white other” – likely eastern European and Polish migrants – and Indian communities.

The statistics are at odds with Scottish Government figures for the Lothians and Borders showing a 15 per cent drop in recorded offences in 2010-11. Foysol Choudhury, chair of Edinburgh & Lothians Regional Equality Council, said statistics for race hate often spiked during periods of economic uncertainty. He added: “Public authorities like the police are getting better at recording hate crime, but unfortunately we receive regular complaints from victims that they feel the police and other public authorities are not doing enough. The victims are also telling us that they are being told not a lot could be done because those who commit offences are often children. “We urge all victims of hate crime to report all incidents.”

Shami Khan, secretary of the Pakistan Society of Edinburgh, said Islamophobia was often manifested on the streets by verbal or physical attacks on the Pakistani community. “If anything happens in a Muslim country overseas, the Pakistani community here gets victimised and abused,” he said. “We get a backlash here.” Mr Khan said the solvency rate for race crimes was “very low” and called on the police, judiciary and politicians to take the issue “more seriously”. And he added: “At night time when you have young people going about in groups, you don’t see our elderly people or women walking in the street. They are scared to go outside.”

Councillor Paul Edie, chair of Edinburgh Community Safety Partnership, said: “When you consider that crime has been tumbling in the city by 21 per cent over the last four years it’s very depressing that these figures are on the way up.” A spokeswoman for Lothian and Borders Police said: “Hate crime will not be tolerated, and the force treats such incidents with the utmost seriousness.”The number of victims of racial incidents, including verbal abuse and physical attacks, has leapt by 19 per cent in the last year alone and by a quarter since 2008. Figures released under Freedom of Information laws show the Pakistani community suffers more racial prejudice than any other ethnic group.
© The Edinburgh Evening News



Tired of seeing their countrymen return from Russia in body bags, sometimes ferociously disfigured, a concerned group in Tajikistan is taking their outrage online, petitioning presidents and parliaments in both countries to take action.

11/12/2011- Hundreds of Tajik migrant laborers in Russia die each year, falling victim to dangerous working conditions and, some fear, bloodthirsty Russian nationalists. According to Tajikistan’s migration service, between January and August this year, over 600 Tajik nationals died in Russia: Of those, 67 were murdered and another 238 succumbed to disease; the rest were presumably accidents. Rights activists estimate that over a million Tajiks work in Russia. Every few months, it seems, another brutal case prompts renewed attention, offering some macabre déjà vu. Bakhtiyar Rasulov’s headless body was found in his burned-out taxicab near St. Petersburg on November 16. He had been stabbed repeatedly and his head stuffed into the trunk.

Responding to popular indignation, Tajikistan’s parliament urged Russian police to carry out a fair investigation. The Foreign Ministry noted the attack occurred at the height of a diplomatic row between Dushanbe and Moscow over the fate of two ethnic Russian pilots sentenced to long prison terms in Tajikistan on bizarre charges of smuggling airplane parts. The scandal enflamed nationalist passions in Russia, where authorities began rounding up Tajiks for deportation and fueling xenophobia with claims that Tajiks carry disease and are responsible for rising crime.

The petition urges Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon, and their respective parliaments to do something meaningful like take migrants’ safety into consideration in their sometimes tense relationship, and asks Medvedev to tone down the chauvinistic rhetoric coming out of his administration.

It is possible that such a grave and barbaric crime during the Russian-Tajik political crisis over the detained pilots is just another coincidence, as coincidental as the accelerated deportation of Tajiks from Russia […but] Bakhtiyar Rasulov was killed on November 16 in the midst of a campaign that even the Russian media called the "Anti-Tajik Hysteria.” […]

We believe that ordinary citizens of Tajikistan and Russia -- Tajik and Russian inhabitants in both countries -- should never become victims and hostages of your electoral, political and geopolitical games. We base our belief on the principle that, in a civilized country, there is no collective responsibility for certain individuals’ acts. We encourage you to be more responsible in your words and deeds as radical groups can see these as directives against ethnic minorities.

In Russia, Central Asian migrants are, as the airplane scandal showed, a political lever; they can be insulted and scapegoated when convenient. With nationalists showing themselves to be a political force and the ruling United Russia party occupied with concern for its own survival, it’s unlikely -- despite promises to devote special attention to the case – that Russian authorities will take the murders too seriously.

The petition, open to signatories from anywhere, can be found here. (Russian only)
© Eurasia Net



Investigators suspect that a neo-Nazi terror group responsible for a series of murders in Germany may also have been behind the unexplained killing of a 70-year-old Israeli rabbi in Zurich a decade ago.

12/12/2011- The prosecutor's office in Karlsruhe has tasked a special investigator with examining links between extremists in Switzerland and the National Socialist Underground (NSU), the German neo-Nazi terrorist group responsible for at least ten murders from 2000 to 2007. According to the Basler Zeitung newspaper, so far there is no hard evidence that the NSU had a hand in the killing of Rabbi Abraham Grünbaum. But the group is known to have had contact with Swiss extremists and the 2001 shooting coincided with a short burst of deadly NSU activity. Additionally, the methods used in the slaying resembled those favoured by the Zwickau-based German terrorist group. Though police declined to confirm on the record that they suspected the NSU was involved in the killing, a Zurich police spokesman told the Basler Zeitung they were looking into the matter. “Whenever similar crimes happen we, of course, examine whether there could be links to unsolved homicides in our jurisdiction,” the spokesman said.

The Israeli orthodox rabbi was shot twice in the upper part of his body on June 7, 2001 from a range of less than two metres. At the time it was suspected that anti-Semitism could have been a motive but that could never be proven. However, nothing was stolen from the rabbi. Police briefly detained one man on suspicion of committing the killing, but he was released without charges. That summer also saw similar killings by the terrorist cell of three Turks: a tailor in Nuremberg, a fruit seller in Hamburg and the owner of a small business in Munich. The terrorists also met with like-minded people in several cantons in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, the Basler Zeitung reported. Witnesses reported they drove a vehicle with Swiss number plates during their travels across northern Germany. Additionally, the weapon they allegedly used to kill eight Turks and one Greek over the course of the last decade, a Ceska 83, was purchased in canton Solothurn in Switzerland, the newspaper said.
© The Local - Switzerland


The police, belatedly, solve a series of racist murders. 
By John Rosenthal

"It seems . . . that we are in fact dealing with a new form of right-wing extremist terrorism,” German interior minister Hans-Peter Friedrich announced last month, following the revelation that a trio of neo-Nazis from Jena had been responsible for the murder of nine “foreigners” in Germany, as well as a police officer. But the only thing new about the case is the fact that it is now​—​no thanks to German authorities​—​finally solved. The first of what came to be known in Germany as the “kebab murders” dates back to the year 2000. The last murder attributed to the trio​—​that of policewoman Michèle Kiesewetter​—​occurred in April 2007. Moreover, the three neo-Nazis​—​Beate Zschäpe, Uwe Böhnhardt, and Uwe Mundlos​—​first came to the attention of law enforcement in the mid-1990s. They were then budding members of a well-known regional neo-Nazi organization in their native Thuringia: the Thüringer Heimatschutz or the “Thuringian Homeland Defense.” They began their careers in racist crime with an anti-Semitic prank, when Böhnhardt, then a teenager, hung a mannequin with a Star of David painted on it from a highway overpass in April 1996. By January 1998, the three friends were wanted by the police on suspicion of preparing a bomb attack. Four detonation-ready pipe-bombs had been found in a garage rented by Zschäpe.

Somehow the trio managed to evade arrest at the time and remain at large for nearly 14 years while committing 10 gangland-style murders and, it would seem, detonating a bomb packed with nails on a busy commercial strip in a Turkish immigrant neighborhood in Cologne. (Miraculously, no one was killed in that Cologne attack; 22 people were injured, 4 seriously.) More troubling, there are numerous indications that Zschäpe, Böhnhardt, and Mundlos had contacts with Germany’s domestic intelligence services and may even have been informants for those services. The trio began their reign of terror on September 9, 2000. On that day, the Turkish-born florist Enver Simsek was shot eight times in Nuremberg. Over the next six years, the trio​—​perhaps with the aid of accomplices​—​would execute another seven “Turkish” shop owners and employees across Germany, as well as a Greek shop owner whom they appear either to have mistaken for a Turk or regarded as equivalent for their purposes. The last victim of the gang, Halit Yozgat, was in fact born in Germany and was a German citizen. Yozgat was shot twice in the head at his Internet café in Kassel in April 2006.

It is common in Germany to describe people as foreigners according to their ethnic origins, regardless of whether they were born in Germany or how long they have lived there. The practice is by no means limited to the “extreme right.” It is grounded in German law, which continues to distinguish between “ethnic Germans” (deutsche Volkszugehörige) and other, so to say, “non-German” German citizens. As the largest immigrant community, Turkish immigrants and their families have long borne the brunt of racist and xenophobic violence in Germany. Attacks on German residents of Turkish origin in the 1990s included the infamous arson attacks on Turkish family homes in Mölln and Solingen. Eight people were killed in these attacks, including five girls aged 4 to 14. Another 23 people were injured. Turkish family homes in Germany continued to go up in flames at an alarming rate in the intervening years. No matter how suspicious the circumstances, German authorities almost invariably claimed either to be able to “rule out” criminal causes or, at any rate, to have no evidence of racist motives. The causes of the fires have typically been left undetermined. This is the case, for instance, of the February 2008 fire in an apartment building in Ludwigshafen that took the lives of 9 people, all of Turkish origin. Another 60 people were injured. As in the cases of Mölln and Solingen, all of the dead were women or girls. Two young girls who survived reported seeing an intruder setting fire to a baby carriage in the entryway. Distinctive Nazi SS runes found spraypainted on the building were dismissed by investigators as merely coincidental​—​so too was the fact that the same building had been attacked with Molotov cocktails two years earlier.

A recent series of 11 fires in five years in family homes in the western German town of Völklingen (population 40,000) received similar treatment from the authorities. The residents, as the Saarbrücker Zeitung put it, were “Italians, black Africans, Algerians, but, above all, Turks.” In this case, police have acknowledged that the fires were deliberately set. Three houses were torched on the same day in 2007. The house of Recep Ünsal and his family was set on fire, then rebuilt, and then set on fire again. Though the area is a well-known hotbed of neo-Nazi activity, police again refused to acknowledge any evidence of xenophobic motives. Instead, they cast suspicion on the residents, opening an ultimately fruitless investigation of Recep Ünsal and even tapping his phone. As the murders of “foreign” shopkeepers and employees piled up during the last decade, the crimes came to be known as the Dönermorde​—​the “kebab murders”​—​an allusion to döner kebabs, a Turkish specialty and a popular fast food in Germany. The designation is itself indicative of the prejudice to which persons of Turkish origin are commonly subjected in Germany. Only two of the victims in fact worked at kebab stands. All the murders displayed the same gangland-style modus operandi and a common murder weapon was used. If German authorities did not recognize that they were confronted by xenophobic terror, it was only because they averted their gaze and insisted on entertaining every hypothesis but the most obvious one. Thus a recent review of the cases in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung notes:
The victims are kiosk-owners, run kebab stands or work at locksmiths. They are all shot in broad daylight and the same weapon is always involved: a Czech “Ceská,” 7.65 caliber, Type 83. Otherwise, the police are not able to establish any other connection among the murders. The scenes of the crimes are strewn all across Germany. Up to 60 officers assigned to the “special unit Bosphorus” [Soko Bosporus] investigate in the organized crime milieu, there are speculations about protection money, money laundering, human trafficking, and a possible involvement of the Turkish drug mafia. But the country’s longest and most mysterious series of murders remains unsolved.

But the other relevant “connection” was quite obviously the ethnic origins of the victims​—​as the very name given to “special unit Bosphorus” indicates. If the Frankfurter Allgemeine report is to be believed, it simply never occurred to the police to look for the killers in Germany’s closely monitored and virulently xenophobic neo-Nazi milieu. Showing remarkable docility, the German media typically played along with the pretense that the murder series was somehow “mysterious” and that investigators had “no clue” about motives. Just how taboo it was even to bring up the possibility of racist or xenophobic motives can be gauged by Kassel police officer Helmut Wetzel’s painfully diffident observations in a radio interview with German public broadcaster ARD in 2010, some four years after Yozgat’s murder:
My theory, my very personal theory, I must emphasize​—​it is always a bit risky going public with such a personal theory​—​but I believe that the perpetrator is someone who sought out the victims according to their ethnicity and milieu. This is to say, he does not see the individual victim, but he sees here someone from a southern country [einen Südländer], a Turk in a Turkish shop.

Like so many other prima facie racist crimes in Germany, the murders might have remained unsolved, were it not for the blundering of the perpetrators in an unrelated affair. Since 2007, the neo-Nazi trio appear to have wrapped up their murder spree and moved on to a less ideologically driven form of crime: namely, bank robbery. On the morning of November 4, Böhnhardt and Mundlos, wearing a ski mask and gorilla mask respectively, robbed a bank in the small eastern German town of Eisenach. After making an initial getaway on bicycles, the two men packed the bikes into a rented camper and prepared to drive out of town. A police dragnet appears, however, to have cut off their escape routes. According to investigators, as police moved in on the vehicle around noon, Mundlos shot his younger colleague, then set fire to the camper and turned his weapon on himself. The two men’s corpses would be recovered from the burnt-out shell of the vehicle. Around three hours later, a second fire broke out in a rented apartment in a semi-detached house in Zwickau some 100 miles away. The apartment was the residence of Zschäpe, Böhnhardt, and Mundlos. The three neo-Nazis, who allegedly “disappeared” in 1998 and whom German police reportedly suspected had left the country, were in fact living less than an hour’s drive from their hometown of Jena. After leaving her cats with a neighbor, Zschäpe appears to have set fire to the apartment and fled. She would turn herself in to the police in Jena a few days later.

In the ashes, investigators discovered the 7.65 caliber Ceská used in the murders. They are also reported to have discovered DVDs containing a video in which a so-called National Socialist Underground (NSU)​—​apparently consisting of Zschäpe, Böhnhardt, and Mundlos​—​takes credit for the nine döner murders, as well as for the 2004 bombing in Cologne’s Keupstrasse. Despite the fact that the street is so well known as a Turkish commercial center that it is commonly referred to as “Little Istanbul,” the Keupstrasse bombing represents yet another major “unsolved” crime with respect to which German police had previously claimed to have “no clue” of xenophobic motives. The video also contains an image of the murdered policewoman, Michèle Kiesewetter. Excerpts from the NSU video that have been broadcast or posted online combine animated images from a Pink Panther cartoon and pictures of the group’s victims​—​including grisly crime scene photos that appear to have been taken by the perpetrators themselves. According to initial reports, the NSU had been planning to distribute the video to a list of recipients. Some copies of the video had in fact already been sent, although it is not clear when. This could explain how the newsweekly Der Spiegel obtained a copy. One of the copies was addressed to the regional offices in Saxony of the post-Communist PDS or Party of Democratic Socialism. The party​—​which is today known simply as Die Linke or “The Left”​—​abandoned the name PDS in 2007, just a couple of months after the murder of Kiesewetter. The address on the package was also no longer current. This suggests the videos were prepared for sending already in 2007, presumably shortly after the Kiesewetter murder.

Another interesting discovery in the ruins of the Zwickau apartment was what the German media have described as “legal illegal” identity papers. The German parliamentarian and security expert Hans-Peter Uhl explained to the tabloid Bild that “normally the only people to receive such papers are covert investigators who work for an intelligence agency and are handled by an intelligence agency.” This is to say that one or more of the neo-Nazi trio appear to have been informants of the German domestic intelligence service known as the “Office for the Protection of the Constitution” or Verfassungsschutz. (There is both a federal Verfassungschutz office and regional offices in several German states.) In 2001, it was revealed that Tino Brandt, the leader of the Thuringian Homeland Defense, was a Verfassungsschutz informant. Brandt is reported to have received around 200,000 Deutschmarks​—​or nearly $140,000​—​for his services. According to Bild, despite public denials, security officials have privately confirmed that Beate Zschäpe continued to have contact with Verfassungsschutz informants​—​including Tino Brandt​—​after she allegedly “disappeared” in 1998. The Leipziger Volkszeitung reports that investigators have evidence she may herself have been serving as an “occasional” informant right up until this year. Moreover, it is known that a Verfassungsschutz officer​—​not a mere informant​—​was present in Halit Yozgat’s Internet café in Kassel when Yozgat was shot to death in 2006. This was discovered weeks after the crime by police investigators examining the hard drives of the computers in Yozgat’s shop.

The intelligence officer​—​who in German media reports has been identified only as “Andreas T.”​—​left the Internet café after the murder without notifying the police. He would subsequently be suspended from his job at the regional office of the Verfassungsschutz in the German state of Hesse and transferred to a new government job with the district administration of Kassel. According to news reports, he continues to be employed by the district administration of Kassel​—​this despite the fact that, as it turns out, Andreas T. is himself a Nazi sympathizer. Indeed, Andreas T. was so open about his politics that in his hometown of Hofgeismar he was known as “Little Adolf.” There is now additional reason to believe that the German intelligence officer could have been implicated in the murders. According to a report in Bild, while working for the Verfassungsschutz Andreas T. was the official “handler” of an informant with connections to the Thuringian Homeland Defense.

Whatever the significance of the connections between the neo-Nazi trio and German domestic intelligence, one thing is already clear: The wave of racist and, above all, anti-Turkish violence that afflicted Germany in the 1990s in fact continued unabated in the new century. It would appear that political pressure to spare Germany’s “good reputation” (as a recent report on German news channel N24 put it) led both the authorities and virtually all of the German media to avoid the obvious. It remains to be seen whether, after the dramatic self-outing of the “National Socialist Underground,” the German establishment will deal more candidly and effectively with Germany’s by no means “new” problem of neo-Nazi terror. It will be a sure sign that Germany is not dealing more frankly with the problem if investigators​—​after refusing to see racist motives in racist crimes for over a decade​—​now attempt to pin their entire backlog of “unsolved” cases on the trio of Nazis from Jena.

John Rosenthal writes on European politics and transatlantic security issues. You can follow his work at www.trans-int.com.
© The Weekly Standard


Headlines 9 December, 2011


"Six perpetrators of a “hate crime” were released last week in Hungary, after having served two years and eleven months in jail for attacking three passengers of a car passing through Miskolc. Considering that the crime targeted the victims on the basis of their ethnicity, the combined sentences of the eleven individuals convicted totaled over 41 years. At that time, the court was satisfied with the prosecution’s claim that the accused, all of whom are Roma, committed the crime out of racist motivations.

9/12/2011- Theirs is a peculiar case demonstrating the idiosyncrasies of Hungarian law originally designed to punish hate crimes. To be pedantic about legal distinctions, the Hungarian penal code does not designate a legal category for “hate crimes” or “hate speech.” Instead, a supposed legal equivalent -”közösség elleni izgatás” or “incitement against a community” – covers bias-motivated acts that intentionally perturb an atmosphere free of prejudice. Two subclasses compose this unusually defined crime: crimes inciting before the greater public to hate against a) the Hungarian nation or b) a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, or a particular group of the population. To be sure, subclass a is much more frequently used in Hungarian legal proceedings than subclass b. The hate crime recently retried is a perfect point in case.

On the night of March 15, 2009 (a national holiday in Hungary) rumors were spreading that skinheads and the Hungarian Guard, an extremist paramilitary organization of the far-right party Jobbik, were to march to the Muszkás side, a Roma neighborhood of the city of Miskolc. With the community in upheaval in anticipation of a pogrom, the regional online news portal mentioned the news and the local police was placed on a state of alert. Preparing for a possible attack, the residents built a bonfire. A conspicuous car, a red Peugeot, had appeared several times in the neighborhood, driving slowly by on each approach. Eventually, the group of perpetrators stopped the car and attacked it with sticks, baseball bats and iron pipes. The three passengers of the car suffered injuries from the broken glass of the windshield. The damage in their car was approximately 100,000 Hungarian forints (at current exchange rates, 447 US dollars).

The incident took place only three weeks after the infamous killings in Tatárszentgyörgy. In this small town only about 40 miles from Hungary’s capital, Budapest, unidentified perpetrators threw a Molotov cocktail into the house of a Roma family during the dark of the night, and opened gunfire on the family as it was trying to escape the flames. A five-year-old child and his father died in the attack; the mother of the family, their six-year-old daughter and a three-year-old child were injured. The police did not notice the bullets or the gunshot wounds during the first phase of the investigation: until civil rights activists monitoring the investigation pointed these out to them, they were investigating an electric fire resulting from an illegal connection to the power grid. The perpetrators of this series of murders were not apprehended until well into the summer of 2009.

The court trying the case of the assault in Miskolc, however, did not consider the resulting mindset of the Roma an attenuating circumstance. To the contrary, the group that attacked the car was charged, in addition to truculence, with “incitement against community.” Originally, the indictment even stipulated that their hate crime was pre-mediated. “False rumors were disseminated that the Roma minority population had been physically assaulted, or that they would be, citywide by armed right-wing radical groups,” described the document. “An atmosphere hostile to Hungarians evolved for this reason in the above mentioned locales; the Roma population formed groups, and taking possession of various stabbing, beating and cutting devices, they were preparing for a clash with Hungarians.” The court’s original verdict, from 2010, that the car was attacked because of racist hatred against Hungarians relied on two facts. A wooden stick, with the words “death to Hungarians” carved into it was recovered from the crime site. In addition, one of the witnesses at the scene heard shouts of “Stinky Hungarians, beat them!”

Nevertheless, the verdict passed produced absurdly paradoxical consequences. The judge’s ruling over the proceedings determined the victim of the crimes to be “the Hungarian nation.” Following this logic, one could also conclude that the Hungarian Roma are not a part of the Hungarian nation. In May 2011, the appeals court discovered several mistakes in the judicial proceedings of 2010 and ordered a retrial. By this time, however, five of the perpetrators were already serving 4-6 year prison sentences. Even the lesser sentences were unusually severe: one of the group convicted, who did not actively participate in the attack on the car but was heard yelling, was sentenced to two years and eight months.

It was widely known at the time of the attacks that the victims of the crime were far-right sympathizers. On the retrial of the case, two out of the three accusers failed to show up, despite subpoenas. Evidence, however, was presented of their personal background: a photograph of one of them posing in the company of his brothers with a Hungarist flag (i.e. the flag of Hungarian neo-nazism), their hand extended in a Nazi salute. On a social networking site, the same individual listed a number of skinhead bars as his favorite hang-out places. The stick carved with the sentence “Death to Hungarians” was also presented, for the first time during the second trial, to the court. According to the indictment used during the first trial, it belonged to one of the perpetrators who received a lesser, suspended sentence – in an expert’s examination, he is “feeble-minded” to a mild extent, and even his own words demonstrated that he had a child-like understanding of the events surrounding him.

This stick is a key exhibit: the only physical evidence establishing that the accused were driven by anti-Hungarian sentiments into the commitment of the crime. But, as noted by the defense, the actual craving in the stick is so difficult to make out that already at a distance of 2 meters (6 feet) one could not even discern that there is writing on the stick. Since its election to the Hungarian parliament, representatives of the Hungarian far-right Jobbik party regularly exert pressure on the government, demanding that the Hungarian government crack down with the same vehemence on hate against Hungarians as it uses for fighting hate crimes in general. In the meantime, civil rights activists in Hungary are not impressed by the judicial system’s “vehemence” to bring justice to minority victims of hate crimes. The standard of evidence required to establish that assaults on minorities are motivated by bias is so difficult to meet that hate crime prosecutions regularly fail to lead to legal consequences. Besides cases brought on behalf of the Hungarian Roma, members of the Hungarian LGBT community are also unable to find protection under the Hungarian hate crime clause (note that the above definition of “incitement against a community” does not even make reference to sexual orientation – their complaints therefore must be brought as hate crimes committed against a “particular group of society”).

It is a well-known fact that Hungarian legal practice has yet to be brought in line with international standards for hate crime prosecutions. As an OECD report put it – highly recommended reading, even though it only covers the wave of crimes against the Roma up to 2009 - in Hungary “the weakness of legislation specifically addressing hate crimes and limited capacity to investigate or prosecute such crimes”continually hampers efforts to stem the tide of bias-motivated criminal acts. In the current political atmosphere, however, improvements in this regard are hardly on the horizon."
© The Contrarian Hungarian



8/12/2011- A Cork mother has claimed this week that she no longer feels safe in her Glanmire home and that her son now lives in fear, having been the victim of two racially motivated attacks in as many years. The woman, who moved to Cork from Cameroon over ten years ago, told the Cork Independent this week that her son has been attacked twice in two years at the same Cork city school. She says that in February 2009, he was the victim of an assault on his school grounds which left him with loose teeth and mild injuries after being punched in the mouth. Just four weeks ago, on November 11, she received a phone call from her son who has special needs, telling her that he had been assaulted again. He explained that while he was playing soccer, a group of young boys started calling him "nigger". “He told the teacher but the boys denied it," she said. She claimed the youths then shouted more insults at him, such as, 'Show off nigger, why don’t you go and bring more black people with you?' According to her son, one of the three boys punched him repeatedly in the head leaving him with a fractured jaw which was later operated on at CUH. The assault has left her son isolated and living in fear. “He loves soccer. He’s very good at it. But now, he is too afraid to play. He’s too afraid to go out. I’m so angry.”

“My son has special needs. He is a slow learner, he just needs some extra help in understanding things and he has never been confident. The only thing he cares about is football. “Now he doesn’t go out any more. He doesn’t want to go to school. He’s afraid. Of course he is,” she said. “I am an Irish citizen and so are my children. I have been in Cork since 2001.” She sometimes hears racial remarks in buses. “People come up to me, laughing, and say, 'I bet you don’t have television or anything where you’re from'. “The kids in the area where we live make noises and do monkey faces too sometimes when we go out to our car. “I have had eggs thrown at my door and stones thrown at my windows. Once they even destroyed my garden,” she said. She does not feel safe in her home and wants the racism towards her family in her area to stop. “I hope that someday they will tired of it and go away. “I have contacted NASC (the Irish Immigrant Support Centre) and a support group for victims of crime. I want people to know that this is happening and I want it to stop,” she said. Gardaí at Mayfield confirmed to the Cork Independent that they are investigating the incident at the school and that a file has been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions. When contacted by the Cork Independent, the school in question refused to comment.

The woman's identity is being witheld for legal reasons but is known to the Editor.
© The Cork Independent



7/12/2011- As daylight broke on June 4, worshippers found a mosque in southern Denmark defaced with drawings of the Prophet Muhammad and slogans urging Muslims to "go home." In late October, a dismembered pig was buried on the planned construction site of a planned mosque on the outskirts of Copenhagen. Both acts were the work of the Danish Defence League, a year-old far-right group that claims it's not opposed to foreigners in general, just Muslims. "We are not racists. We are not Nazis," insists Bo Vilbrand, the group's 24-year-old spokesman. As if to prove his point he says the Danish Defence League welcomes blacks and Jews. The group and its larger English forebear represent a new crop of right-wing radicals who don't fit the mold of the boot-stomping, Jew-hating neo-Nazis. This movement claims its fight is against Islam, and uses crusader symbols instead of swastikas. It frames its mission as a cultural struggle, although opponents say it is little more than old-fashioned xenophobia hiding beneath anti-Islamic rhetoric.

European authorities were just starting to consider the far-right, anti-Muslim movement's potential for violence when Norwegian militant Anders Behring Breivik took it to unimaginable extremes on July 22, massacring 77 people in the name of an anti-Islamic revolution. "Oslo was an eye-opener," says Hajo Funke, an expert on European right-wing extremism at the Free University Berlin. Norway's PST security service highlighted the rise of the anti-Islamic groups in its annual threat assessment in March, although chief analyst Jon Fitje says the movement in many ways remains uncharted. "There seems to be many people who share Breivik's general views, even though they of course condemn his actions," Fitje told The Associated Press. "But we don't know much about this. And we don't know how much we should know about it," because PST is not allowed to register people based on their political views.

Anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe is nothing new. Since the 9/11 terror attacks in the U.S. it has boosted anti-immigration political parties from Scandinavia to France. However, it started taking a more radical form in recent years, mostly online, but also with small groups organizing street protests against a perceived Islamization of Europe. In France, the anti-Muslim Bloc Identitaire has emerged as one of the loudest voices on the extreme right fringes. A key development came in 2009 with the creation of the English Defence League, which claims to be peaceful but whose anti-Muslim protests have ended in clashes with police and left-wing demonstrators. Two years after counting about 50 members, the group boasts its ranks have swollen to 10,000, though authorities say its fluid nature makes it hard to measure.

What is clear is that hundreds of people, including soccer hooligans, have turned up for the EDL's protests, and European police agency Europol in 2010 said its quick rise had raised the profile of right-wing extremism in Britain. The EDL has spawned offshoots across northern Europe, with varying success. Most are Facebook groups only. A handful of people showed up for a Norwegian Defence League rally in April, and a Dutch version was disbanded earlier this year. The Danish Defence League appears to have been more successful. Vilbrand says it has 200-300 active members and more than 1,000 supporters who pay membership fees but don't take part in activities. Denmark's PET security service declined to comment on the group. Danish experts on right-wing extremism say the Danish Defence League exaggerates its size, but is growing — unlike many traditional far-right group.

Danish blogger Margrethe Hansen, who spent three months infiltrating far-right groups online, says the Danish Defence League probably counts about 100 active members — a considerable number considering the group was founded last year — and has the potential to become the strongest far-right group in Denmark. Last year, she spied on the Facebook pages of Scandinavian anti-Muslim groups, including the Danish Defence League, by creating a fake profile. Posing as a rabid nationalist, she says she found the anti-Muslim community has more in common with white supremacists than its leaders admit. "Under the facade, when I was undercover on the Internet, I participated in closed groups where they are talking like racists: 'Immigrants are stealing our money, our women,'" she says. "But it's an easier message to sell if you say 'we are against extreme Islam.'" Hansen says she lives at a secret address after receiving death threats from anti-Muslim extremists who see her as a traitor for embracing multiculturalism.

Using her fake profile, she even became Facebook friends with Breivik but says his rhetoric wasn't particularly extreme and that he didn't drop any hints of his plans to set off a bomb in Oslo and gun down youths at a left-wing party's summer camp. "When I found out it was Breivik, I was totally shocked," she says. "I sometimes think, why didn't I see it coming?" Hansen says Danish police have questioned her on behalf of Norwegian police about Breivik's online communication and her insights into the anti-Islamic community. The anti-Islamic movement's ideological roots can be found in the so-called "counterjihadist" community of American and European bloggers who on sites such as "Gates of Vienna" and "Brussels Journal" say Muslim immigrants are colonizing Europe with the tacit approval of left-wing political elites. In his online manifesto, Breivik cited many of those bloggers, including a fellow Norwegian using the pseudonym "Fjordman" — who wrote chillingly that if governments don't stop Muslim immigration, Europeans must act to "protect our own security and ensure our national survival."

Breivik, who was recently declared criminally insane, also praised the English Defence League and other anti-Muslim groups, and reveled in the symbolic crusader imagery they use. The "Knights Templar" resistance movement he claims to belong to appears to be a figment of his imagination, investigators say. Some of the American bloggers cited in Breivik's manifesto won devoted followings during the controversial 2010 attempt to base a mosque near the site of the destroyed World Trade Center in New York. But despite the bloggers' high-profile roles and a recent surge in anti-Islamic hate crimes in the U.S., there is no clear evidence that dangerous U.S.-based extremist groups have pursued strong anti-Muslim agendas, experts in domestic extremism say.

"The main focus of American extremists like neo-Nazis and the Klan is still aimed at African-Americans and Latino immigrants," said Heidi Beirich, director of research for the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups. In Europe, "counterjihadist" blogs as well as defence leagues and other anti-Islamic groups have rejected Breivik as a deranged psychopath. Investigators believe he plotted and carried out his mayhem alone. Still, some analysts believe the rhetoric used in the anti-Islamic community is so aggressive it should come as no surprise that, eventually, someone would leap from words to action. "There is something in the ideology itself which makes violence a logical result," says Oeyvind Stroemmen, a Norwegian Green Party member and writer who warned of violence from anti-Muslim extremists before the July attacks.

British researcher Toby Archer, who has also studied the anti-Muslim movement, said it wasn't surprising that sooner or later "there would be people seeing themselves as the movement's special forces or shock troops." Others caution against drawing far-reaching conclusions from what happened in Norway. Breivik's violence was unprecedented in the anti-Muslim movement, and it's rare in terms of the far-right in general. The last European attack on a similar scale blamed on right-wing extremists was the 1980 bombing of a railway station in Bologna, Italy, that killed 85 people. Islamist terrorists are still considered the biggest threat to European security. Yet many experts say the anti-Muslim groups have a greater potential to grow than traditional far-right extremists, who are struggling to boost their numbers.

That realization has led some political fringe groups, like the British National Party and Belgium's Vlaams Belang, to shift from blanket opposition to immigration to a focus on Islam. The manifesto of the BNP, whose leader has a conviction for racial hatred and has denied the Holocaust in the past, includes a "counterjihadist" chapter, saying Europe is being invaded by Muslims. Even hardcore white supremacists are debating whether to stress the anti-Muslim message as a marketing tool. In Sweden, where neo-Nazis committed a series of murders in the 1990s, the white power movement is split between those who say "Holocaust denial" won't boost their following and hardline racists who stick to their old ways, says Johan Olsson, an analyst at the Swedish Security Service.

Vilbrand, who uses the alias "Bo Rightwing" on the Internet, claims his group focuses on radical Islam, like when it patrolled an immigrant neighborhood in Copenhagen where a handful of fundamentalist Muslims said they wanted to introduce Islamic law. But its "blitz mission" in June targeted a mosque that hasn't been associated with radical Muslims. It belongs to a small community of Ahmadiyya Muslims, who are considered heretics by some mainstream Muslims and have faced persecution in many countries. The mosque's imam, Naimatullah Basharat, says that next to the Muhammad drawings were stickers with a Latin inscription saying "If you wish for peace, prepare for war" — the Danish Defence League's motto. Basharat says he would like to explain his view of Islam to the group. "We show our patience, also to those who do this kind of thing," he says. "Our motto is 'love for all, hatred for none.'"
© The Associated Press



How can we marry the English Defence League's professed liberalism with the reality on the ground?
By Ryan Erfani-Ghettani

8/12/2011- There is something of a disjuncture between how the EDL portrays itself as an organisation and how it actually operates. Though it states on its website that '[t]he English Defence League (EDL) is a human rights organisation' that opposes an Islam that 'runs counter to all that we hold dear within our British liberal democracy',[1] the actions of some of its members suggest otherwise.

A tolerant organisation?
In order to evaluate how far the actions of EDL supporters differ from the organisation's official mandate, it is useful to examine the mission statement on its website. The text explicitly states that the EDL is a tolerant organisation: 'Everyone ... is supposed to be equal in the eyes of the law. The EDL is therefore keen to draw its support from people of all races, all faiths, all political persuasions, and all lifestyle choices.'[2] The EDL, it is implied, does not house racism; it is only against a particular form of Islam. It is even supportive of those Muslims who are suffering oppression under a radicalised Islam: 'British Muslims should be able to safely demand reform of their religion ... Radical Islam keeps British Muslims fearful and isolated'. However, by simply looking at EDL Facebook pages, it becomes apparent that the nuances laid out in its manifesto are lost on some of its members and supporters. Muslims are blanket-labelled as 'ragheads', the middle-East referred to as 'p**iworld', Barack Obama, it is suggested, 'should be a slave'.[3] These comments are even put forth by those posting as the representatives of official divisions, such as the 'EDL English Defence League Jewish Division (Official)'. This suggests that for some within the EDL, including some of those who hold relatively high-status positions, a candid form of racism exists, under which the ideological nuances laid out in the mission statement are lost, and indicates that racism is sometimes directed towards the black community as well.

One of the contentious issues raised in evaluating the EDL is the extent to which the content of Facebook can be used as a source. In the wake of the massacre in Norway on 22 July 2011, EDL leader Stephen Lennon appeared on the BBC's Newsnight in order to dismiss claims that Anders Behring Breivik had links to the organisation (for more information, read the IRR's briefing paper, 'Breivik, the conspiracy theory, and the Oslo massacre' [pdf file, 444kb]). In the interview, Lennon said that the material on Facebook did not indicate facts about the organisation. He states: 'That's not our website ... that's on Facebook. If we keep reverting back to Facebook where ... anyone can go under any name and put anything, that is no evidence against our organisation in any way. You will not find them sort of things on our website'.[4] This suggests an anxiety over the loss of control of the EDL's image which the use of social media brings. However, the organisation relies on Facebook to an extent in providing an administrative framework for connecting its members. Lennon's claims that the evidence of racism on the EDL Facebook pages are at the hands of an unaffiliated rabble with no real links to the organisation proper are countered by those instances of racist messaging posted under the usernames denoting official divisions (unless those posting are imposters). So, on the one hand, while the EDL's outreach is furthered by the use of Facebook, the ability of social media to reveal the private voice of the organisation's constituent members is countered with a distancing and delegitimising of the public forum and the public voice.

Take, for example, Facebook's role in EDL recruitment. In March this year, it became clear that children from Stafford Borough's Blessed William Howard High School had set up the EDL's Stafford division Facebook page, and used it to recruit other pupils.[5] This is not an isolated case. The Dover division page features a recruitment call, urging people to 'tell your friends and family to take a stand', in order to protect 'OUR town'.[6] While Facebook operates as a way of getting an unfiltered message across to a potential audience, it is also denigrated as invalid and not credible by Casuals United (CU),[7] a group comprising of members of football 'firms' who are sympathetic to the EDL's mission and share a very similar set of values with regards to Islam and British democracy, although they firmly state that they are not the EDL.[8]

It is worth noting that the awareness that Facebook is being monitored has led to a different mode of use. In a post on the CU blog from 6 September 2011, it is claimed that 'The Casuals United FB group is used only for posting links, and occasionally to post disinformation.'[9] While it certainly functions as a way of disseminating information to a potential audience, Facebook may also be being used as a tactical tool to divert the attention of outsiders towards irrelevant or false material.
A human rights organisation?

Another form of distancing that occurs on the blog is from individual members or supporters of the EDL who have become involved in cases that challenge the credibility of its public image as a human rights organisation. The CU blog denies having explicit links to the EDL, although their output suggests otherwise. The blog provides regular information and comment on EDL related activities, and is to some extent responsible for portraying the way in which the individual is related to the organisation as a body. As the EDL has developed, it has come under heavier public scrutiny and Stephen Lennon has been asked to explain and take responsibility for the actions of its members and supporters, and for its contribution to the social and cultural makeup of the UK.[10] The line now is that any violence that occurred during formative demonstrations was not down to people who shared an ideological and moral affinity with the EDL, but was the result of the interference and involvement of rogue players: 'The EDL has come a long way since the early days when large numbers of people with no interest in our cause used to come to our protests and try to cause trouble.'[11] Any violent parties or troublemakers are recast as people with no interest in the cause, their connections to the movement are denied and their allegiance to the EDL is rejected.[12] The CU blog attempts to convince its audience (largely supporters of the cause) that violence at EDL demonstrations and marches happens despite attempts from the top to prevent it.

Despite the attempt to portray the organisation as fundamentally peaceful and acting out of a moral necessity, there are well-documented cases of violence being used both spontaneously and tactically, at an individual and organisational level. Organisational flash-mob violence occurs in two distinct forms; one stems from Islamophobic motives, and is aimed at the supposed roots of Islamist organisations. The other form is aimed at those who are perceived in EDL circles as being opponents - organisations concerned with opposing racism and supporting those targeted by it.

Examples of attacks aimed at Muslim-affiliated or Asian targets include the following incidents:
The sustained attack and desecration of mosques, of which the IRR has gathered information of sixteen attacks on mosques and Islamic institutions between February and July in 2011.[13]
On 15 June 2010, 100 EDL members clashed with the Muslims Against Crusades group in Barking, shouting 'scum', 'Muslim bombers off our streets' and 'Allah, Allah, who the fuck is Allah'.[14]
On 4 October 2010, forty supporters descended upon a KFC in Blackburn trialling Halal meat. The action was intended to send a message to the chain to stop selling Halal products.[15]
On 9 October 2010, during a planned demonstration, a breakaway group of EDL members attacked the Asian-run Big John's Restaurant in Leicester, smashing the shop's windows and threatening customers.[16]
On 2 July 2011, forty people carrying EDL banners surrounded the home of Muslim MEP Sajjad Karim and attempted to intimidate him (this from the CU blog: 'Sajjad Karim who voted against the labelling of Halal meat produts thought he was going to have a quiet sunny afternoon with his family in the family home but little did he know that just around the corner the EDL were gathering'[17]).[18]
On 15 July 2011, EDL members racially harassed young Asian men, trying to start a fight on a football pitch in Blackburn usually used by the Asian community. Nicholas John Smyth, 26, later pleaded guilty to using racially-aggravated threatening behavior.[19]
On 31 July 2011, a Kurdish family were forced to barricade themselves inside their kebab shop in Plymouth after four men shouted abuse while chanting 'EDL'. The men, aged 27, 28, 33 and 43, threw a glass at the family. They were arrested at the scene, two on suspicion of affray, one for threatening behaviour and one for suspected criminal damage.[20]

Such violence and intimidation is entirely at odds with the values of a 'human rights organisation', as supporters of the EDL aim their efforts at physically breaching the personal safety of individuals and organisations. While the EDL may be adamant of its dedication to human rights in its official statements, these attacks suggest that this protection towards vulnerable individuals may not be the reason for the actions of a number of its supporters.

In addition, there are examples of tactical attacks on organisations of the Left, anti-racist groups, and groups supporting Palestinian rights. These include the following incidents:
On 12 June 2010, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign stall in Birmingham was attacked and peace activists physically assaulted by members of the EDL who shouted racist and Islamophobic abuse. Fifteen members of the EDL were made to leave Birmingham city centre.[21]
On 22 September 2010, ten EDL members attacked a Socialist Worker Party stall in Newcastle city centre. They have since appeared in court charged with affray and unlawful violence.[22]
On 5 April 2011, between thirty and forty people chanting EDL slogans and carrying an EDL flag attacked a meeting on multiculturalism in Brighton.[23]
On 7 May 2011, fifteen men carrying an EDL flag descended upon News From Nowhere, a trade union and labour movement book shop in Merseyside, and attempted to intimidate the staff.[24]
On 19 May 2011, around twenty people, with their faces covered, chanting 'EDL' attacked an office hosting a Unite Against Fascism meeting in Barking, smashing windows.[25]
On 19 June 2011, a group of around fifteen people chanting 'EDL' attacked a Rage Against Racism gig in Leeds. Three men were arrested for affray after rocks and bottles were thrown at the crowd. Two people were injured, and one man had his teeth knocked out.[26]

Clearly, more recent EDL attacks have been against those groups and organisations it sees as acting as an obstacle in the way of the EDL's primary target. There is also evidence of implicit and explicit threats sent to organisations that the EDL perceives as undermining the cultural homogeneity of Britain. Stephen Lennon for instance sent the following message to city councils: 'Any council that does not keep the word Christmas in the annual celebrations and opts for Winter Festival, out of the politically correct appeasement of others to the detriment of our traditions, will have their town/city visited by the English Defence League throughout the following year.'[27] There were similar warnings to the Ammerdown Centre in Somerset after it put on a course entitled 'Understanding Islam'. The Centre published the text of a letter in its August 2011 newsletter: 'The EDL have requested that unless you cancel this course the EDL will rally all its members together, 10,000, and hold a peaceful protest at the venue, whilst the course is being held.'

As well as such pressure in the organisation's name, there are also numerous instances of freelance direct action at the hands of individual supporters. Such instances include:
On 27 July 2010, John Broomfield, who described himself as the head of the EDL in Dorset, was arrested with six others connected to the EDL. The group were arrested in Bournemouth for planning to construct a bomb. The men were allegedly planning to blow up a mosque. Police were forced to open fire on Broomfield's vehicle.[28]
On 26 September 2010, Ashley Wilson threatened staff at an Indian restaurant in Bridgewater. After asking if they were Muslim, he said 'I'm going to cut your face ... because I'm EDL'. Wilson was ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work and was fined £250 in total.[29]
On 24 October 2010, Bryan Kelso, Christopher Long and Brian Bristow assaulted Muslims at Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park after attending an EDL rally.[30]
On 11 November 2010, Steven James Vasey and Anthony Donald Smith received year-long jail sentences after daubing racist graffiti on a mosque and two Asian run businesses. 'EDL' was among the terms sprayed onto the buildings.[31]
On 15 February 2011, a memorial bridge in honour of a girl who died crossing the road in Detling in Kent was defaced with graffiti such as 'EDL kills Muslims'. The EDL were asked to comment by Kent News, but failed to respond.[32]
On 19 September 2011, Wayne and Darren Edwards caused a scene in a Turkish kebab shop and began chants of 'EDL'. The incident backfired when the Turkish staff chased the men out into the street.[33]
On 24 September 2011, there was an instance of public disorder and threatening behaviour on a train from Sheffield to Norwich. The group were chanting 'EDL'.[34]

These cases appear to show an indiscriminate violence against Muslim targets in general rather than specifically targeting those perceived to be 'radical Islamists' - as the EDL's programme states that as 'a human rights organisation ... we must always protect against the unjust assumption that all Muslims are complicit in or somehow responsible for these [radical-Islamist] crimes.' Violence is not, however, simply connected to unimportant, low-ranking members and supporters. There are a string of violent incidents connected to high-ranking members of the EDL. Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (EDL founder, aka Tommy Robinson) was charged with assaulting a police officer in November last year,[35] has been convicted for football-firm-related violence outside Liverpool Street station,[36] and has also been convicted of assaulting a fellow EDL member.[37] Joel Titus, leader of the EDL's youth wing, was charged with affray after a pre-arranged brawl between Brentford and Leyton Orient fans in Central London in May.[38] He was given an ASBO and banned from future EDL marches.

The violence of EDL members is not simply a new tactic against minority ethnic communities and the institutions that support them; it is part of a tradition of violence associated with 'football firms', and history of organised clashes. The EDL has a strong affiliation with CU, an organisation made up of people with a commitment to bringing organised violence to football matches. There are reports by Matthew Taylor in the Guardian of the EDL even attempting to bring together rival 'firms' to put aside their differences and unite for the greater good of the cause: 'The pub was packed with rival football gangs from across the Midlands and the north of England. Twice, fighting broke out as old rivalries failed to be subdued by the new enemy - Islam.'[39] And there are parallels between the organisation of football firm violence and the way the EDL conducts itself: a group of men willing to travel the length and breadth of the country in order to prove their loyalty. This commitment to football is then applied to an arena where the clash is not regional but racial and cultural. Alan Lake, a Christian fundamentalist businessman who has bankrolled the EDL, has admitted his admiration for the strategic use of football fans: '[they] are a potential source of support. They are a hoi polloi that gets off their backsides and travels to a city and they are available before and after matches.'[40] The ranks of people with a history of hooliganism in the EDL are admitted to openly in EDL and CU circles.[41] With such commitment, the EDL presents a mobile, readily available threat.
Democratic values in the EDL

A recent development has been the targeting of anti-cuts movements, the Occupy movement and trade unions. According to a recent Guardian article, the Infidels, an EDL splinter group, have stated that 'We have decided to put all our efforts into opposing everything you do regardless of the issue at hand, it's your organisations we oppose ... Every event you hold will be a potential target along with your meetings, fund raisers and social events'.[42] This stated opposition suggests that for this faction of EDL sympathisers, the freedom of people to carry out democratic rights is not particularly important. This is despite the EDL's declaration of its commitment to democracy in its mission statement, and its pledge to 'Promot[e] Democracy And The Rule Of Law By Opposing Sharia'.[43] These attacks are not against Sharia, but on members of the Left that are also taking part in democratic processes, but to different ends.

Examples of these recent attacks include the following incidents:
On 29 October 2011, a group of supporters of the EDL, the Infidels and the National Front gathered in Newcastle city centre to harass the Occupy Newcastle camp. At 4am around twenty to thirty members returned to physically attack the occupation.[44]
On 11 November 2011, police arrested 179 EDL members in Central London after repeated threats against the anti-capitalist Occupy London camp.[45]
On 11 November 2011, ten EDL supporters attempted to attack the north-west regional headquarters of Unite in Liverpool.[46]
On 19 November 2011, Occupy Bristol claimed its camp was attacked by Bristol's EDL.[47]

Those people attacking these organisations are acting illegally, attempting to enforce their idea of the law on people exercising their democratic right to protest. The announced direction of attacks against left wing protestors not only contravenes that right, but is also condemned by the EDL itself in its mission statement: 'If ... cultures promote anti-democratic ideas and refuse to accept the authority of our nation's laws, then the host nation should not be bowing to these ideas in the name of "cultural sensitivity".' Although written explicitly about 'foreign' cultures, the statement condemns anti-democratic vigilantism. The statement could just as easily be levelled at the organisation's own supporters who, it could be argued, see themselves as doing a job that the police won't do.

There has, of late, been a tension growing between the public front and private core of the EDL. As the group has gained notoriety, earning public appearances and platforms in the national media, there have been orders from on high to clean up its image in an attempt to appear respectable and appeal to a broader audience (see CU blogs above). This has involved orders to refrain from violence and explicit racism, alienating a core of more openly violent and racist members who see the changes as a softening of the EDL's mandate. The following comment was posted on the EDL Merseyside Division's Facebook page, under the username of the division proper: 'This is Merseyside Division, not the EDL's. We write our own rules and vote for our own! We do not follow the EDL's rules on Multiculturalism as we fully understand its all S**TE and has failed and will continue to fail!'[48] So, while their insistence on wishing for peaceful protests led their publicity team to decry violence as being at the hands of a few rogue players, there is recent evidence to suggest disenchantment in some of the EDL's core supporters. The EDL Merseyside division has reportedly split from the rest of the organisation because of a perceived loss of racist values, demanding the right to be more honest about their motivations and goals, and joining more openly extreme-Right organisations.[49]

This reaction responds to the EDL's attempt to showcase its openness and liberal values. It promotes the existence of its Jewish Division, its LGBT Division, and has even carried out a failed attempt to open a Sikh Division in order to prove that its aversion is not to brown skin but to radical Islam, not to race but religion. In order to establish its tolerant credentials, the EDL had Guramit Singh as its Sikh spokesman.[50] However, this measure is openly criticised by the Sikh community.[51] If such attempts at showcasing diversity have alienated certain constituents of the organisation, this should not lead to the conclusion, as it has for some commentators, that 'the far right is not on the rise in the UK'.[52] Rather, these splinter groups are showing the increased disregard of some EDL supporters for the public multicultural face of the far right, choosing instead to join organisations in which they can express racist beliefs more openly. This has resulted in some of the EDL's Facebook admin to abandon the public image that their mission statement dictates, attempting to bring the alienated constituents back into the fold by embracing the rhetoric of white supremacy.[53]

Recent reports have suggested that the EDL is in trouble, with factional divisions threatening the unity of the organisation and members joining other nationalist groups, leaving the current state of the organisation unclear. What is clear, however, is that the EDL has a significant number of members who are willingly mobile, with a record of violent behaviour, and a less nuanced approach towards Islam than that which the EDL promotes publicly. Whether the EDL grows or implodes remains to be seen, but the violent targeting of the Muslim community and members of the Left that some of its members have demonstrated could remain a threat.

[1] Mission Statement , English Defence League.
[3] 'President Obama's State Visit 24th May 2011', in the Screenshot Database on EDL News.
[4] >'Transcription of Stephen Lennon's appearance on Newsnight - 25th July 2011'.
[5] 'EDL website link to area's schools', IC Stafford, 9 March 2011.
[6] 'Far-right English Defence League recruiting for Dover division on Facebook', This is Kent, 8 March 2011.
[7] 'Commie fools still chatting shit about how we use Facebook to organise haha', Casuals United Blog, 6 September 2011.
[8] 'About this blog', Casuals United Blog.
[9] 'Commie fools still chatting shit about how we use Facebook to organise haha', Casuals United Blog, 6 September 2011.
[10] See, for example, this transcript of an interview on the: BBC 3 Counties radio .
[11] 'Telford demo update reblogged from Telford Casuals blog', Casuals United Bog, 31 July 2011.
[12] See, for example, this post which affiliates any Nazi connections to the EDL with rogue UAF members, on the Casuals United Blog, 12 October 2011.
[13] 'Attacks on Islamic institutions increase', Jon Burnett, IRR News, 28 July 2011.
[14] 'Muslims and far-Right extremists clash as soldiers march through Barking', Rahid Razaq, This is London, 15 June 2010.
[15] 'EDL targets Blackburn KFC in protest over Halal chicken' Lancashire Telegraph, 4 October 2010.
[16] 'Surge of a "hardcore element" before trouble during EDL protests', This is Leicestershire, 12 October 2010.
[17] 'Report of Northern flash demos', Casuals United Blog, 3 July 2011.
[18] 'MEP Sajjad Karim "threatened" over EDL protest by home', BBC News, 5 July 2011.
[19] 'EDL and Asians brawled on Blackburn football pitches', Lancashire Telegraph, 15 July 2011.
[20] 'Takeaway targeted by mob', This is Plymouth, 31 July 2011.
[21] 'EDL attack Palestine peace vigil in Birmingham', photographs by Geoff Dexter, 12 June 2010.
[22] 'Accused extremists face court over affray', Chronicle Live, 11 March 2011.
[23] 'EDL "attempt to attack" multiculturalism meeting', Brighton and Hove Free Press, 5 April 2011.
[24] 'EDL thugs target trade union and labour movement bookshop', Unite Against Fascism, 9 May 2011.
[25] 'Hooded thugs attack office before meeting in Barking', Barking and Dagenham Post, 26 May 2011.
[26] 'Arrests after Yorkshire anti-racism gig stormed', Yorkshire Evening Post, 28 November 2011.
[27] 'EDL accused of council "blackmail" in Christmas letter', BBC News, 26 November 2010.
[28] 'EDL members arrested over Bournemouth mosque bomb plot fears', Bounemouth Echo, 27 July 2010.
[29] 'Restaurant workers fear "racist" attacks', This is West Country, 16 November 2010.
[30] 'Surbiton man faces charges over anti-Islam demo fight', Kingston Guardian, November 8 2010.
[31] 'Racist-attacks pair are jailed for a year', Sunderland Echo, 28 November 2011.
[32] 'Yobs daub racist graffiti on memorial crossing', Eastern Daily Press 24, 16 February 2011.
[33] 'Two EDL supporters jailed over attack on kebab shop', Islamophobia Watch, originally on Kent Online, 19 September 2011.
[34] 'Vile train hooligans need tackling now', letter in the Grantham Journal, 25 September 2011.
[35] 'EDL founder Stephen Lennon charged with assaulting police officer following poppy burning clashes', the Metro.
[36] 'English Defence League founder convicted of leading street brawl', the Guardian, 25 July 2011.
[37] 'EDL leader Stephen Lennon convicted of assault', BBC News, 29 September 2011.
[38] 'EDL member jailed for Liverpool Street football brawl', BBC News, 20 April 2011.
[39] 'English Defence League: Inside the violent world of Britain's new far right', Matthew Taylor, in the Guardian, 28 May 2010.
[40] 'Businessman bankrolls "street army"', HOPE not hate, 17 October 2009.
[41] 'The Persecution of Tommy Robinson', English Defence League, 26 September 2011.
[42] 'EDL splinter groups may target public sector strikers, unions warn', the Guardian, 19 November 2011.
[43] 'Mission Statement', English Defence League.
[44] 'Fascist EDL thugs attack Occupy Newcastle protestors', Unite Against Fascism, 30 October 2011.
[45] 'Police arrest EDL members to "avert planned attack" in London', the Guardian, 11 November 2011.
[46] 'EDL fascists attempt attack on trade union Unite's North West HQ', Unite Against Fascism, 11 November 2011.
[47] 'Probable EDL attack', Occupy Bristol, 19 November 2011.
[48] 'EDL lose Merseyside Division', EDL News.
[49] ibid.
[50] 'Police arrest EDL protest's leader', Peterborough Evening Telegraph, 22 December 2010.
[51] 'Sikhs prove EDL wrong', Asian Image, 7 February 2011.
[52] 'Far from growing, rightwing extremism in the UK may be on the wane', Matthew Collins and Sunder Katwala, in the Guardian, 16 November, 2011.
[53] 'EDL openly embrace white supremacism', EDL News.
© The Institute of Race Relations



Starting point for sentencing to double under first government strategy to tackle prejudice against transgender people

8/12/2011- Murderers who kill disabled or transgender people in hate crimes are to face much longer prison sentences under government proposals. The justice secretary, Kenneth Clarke, said the "starting point" for judges sentencing in disability and transgender murder cases was to double from 15 to 30 years. The move will bring sentencing in these cases in line with murders in which race, religion or sexual orientation is an aggravating factor. It follows the jailing in September of Leon Fyle, 23, for life for the murder of Destiny Lauren, a transgender woman who worked as a prostitute. Fyle, who was convicted after a retrial, was given a 21-year tariff.

The proposal is part of the government's first strategy to tackle transgender prejudice in England and Wales. The equalities minister, Lynne Featherstone, said the strategy included support for transgender pupils in schools, measures to tackle discrimination in accessing public services and greater steps to protect transgender people's privacy, including not having their transgender identity revealed at work without their consent. Ministers are to introduce amendments to the legal aid, sentencing and punishment bill now going through parliament to double the starting point in murder cases. It will also allow judges to pass tougher sentences for any crime in which hostility towards transgender or disabled people is an aggravating factor.

Clarke said that hate crime left sections of society living in fear and at risk of unprovoked violence. "The courts already treat hate crime seriously and aggravate sentences accordingly," he said. "These proposals make clear offenders should be in no doubt that they face a more severe sentence for these unacceptable crimes." The "starting points" for sentencing killers are laid down in the 2003 Criminal Justice Act, which provides judges with guidance on determining the minimum term under a life sentence for murder. Any aggravating or mitigating factors present in the case are then taken into account by the judge before reaching the final minimum term or tariff.

Featherstone said the first transgender equality plan was needed because statistics showed that 70% of children who were uncertain about their gender were subject to bullying. The official figures also show that 88% of transgender employees experienced discrimination or harassment at work, and that hate crime against transgender people had recently risen by 14% to 357 incidents last year. "Too many transgender people still face prejudice at every stage of their lives, from playground bullying, to being overlooked for jobs or targeted for crime," said Featherstone. "Like everyone else, transgender people have the right to be accepted, to live their lives free of harassment, and to be free to achieve any ambition they choose." The action plan includes reforms to health services, including clearer guidance to doctors; changing how gender identification is represented in passports; and new steps to protect privacy at work.

April Ashley, who became the first Briton to have sex reassignment surgery in 1960, said: "I think there are so many support groups out there unlike when I did my transition 51 years ago when there was no help at all. Today's announcement shows we are moving forward to breaking down barriers and educating people."
© The Guardian



7/12/2011- A man was pelted with bricks and bottles by a gang during what police believe was a racially motivated attack. A group of up to seven men approached and attacked the victim, who is in his 30s, on the Five Links housing estate in Laindon. The man suffered grazes to his hand and knee during the assault, which took place in Somercotes. The gang, who are believed to be between 14 and 26 years old, also shouted verbal abuse at him. PC Charles Kayode said: “We believe this incident was racially-motivated and we are treating it very seriously." The attack took place at about 8pm on December 2. The attackers are described as white men aged, aged between 14 and 26. Anyone with any information is asked to contact PC Charles Kayode at Basildon police station on 101.
© The Echo



Judge hears 'they weren't used to drinking because they're Muslims' Three sisters and cousin escape with six-month suspended sentences Maximum term for assault occasioning actual bodily harm is five years' jail Judge: 'Those who knock someone to the floor and kick them in the head can expect to go inside, but I'm going to suspend the sentence'

6/12/2011- A gang of Muslim women who attacked a passer-by in a city centre walked free from court after a judge heard they were ‘not used to being drunk’ because of their religion. The group – three sisters and a cousin – allegedly screamed ‘kill the white slag’ as they set upon Rhea Page as she waited for a taxi with her boyfriend. Miss Page, 22, was left with a bald patch where her hair was pulled out in the attack and was left ‘black and blue’ after suffering a flurry of kicks to the head, back, arms and legs while motionless on the pavement. Ambaro Maxamed, 24, students Ayan Maxamed, 28, and Hibo Maxamed, 24, and their 28-year-old cousin Ifrah Nur each admitted actual bodily harm, which carries a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment. But Judge Robert Brown gave them suspended jail terms after hearing mitigation that as Muslims, the women were not used to being drunk. The Koran prohibits Muslims from consuming alcohol, although Islamic teachings permit its use for medicinal purposes. After the sentencing, Ambaro Maxamed wrote on her Twitter account: ‘Happy happy happy!’, ‘I’m so going out’, and ‘Today has been such a great day’. Yesterday Miss Page, a care worker, called the sentence ‘disgusting’ and said the gang deserved ‘immediate custody’.

‘It’s no punishment at all,’ she said. ‘And for them to say they did it because they were not used to alcohol is no excuse. If they were not supposed to be drinking then they shouldn’t have been out in bars at that time of night. ‘Even after the police came and they all ran away, one of them came running back to kick me in the head one last time. ‘I honestly think they attacked me just because I am white. I can’t think of any other reason.’ Miss Page was treated for bruises and grazes after the attack in June last year as she walked to a taxi rank with boyfriend Lewis Moore, 23, in Leicester city centre. At the time she worked caring for people with autism and learning difficulties but gave up the job after repeated absences because of stress and flashbacks. She is still having counselling and suffers panic attacks. She said: ‘We were just minding our own business but they kept shouting “white bitch” and “white slag” at me. When I turned around one of them grabbed my hair then threw me on the ground. ‘They were taking turns to kick me over and over. I thought they were going to kill me.’

None of the defendants was charged with racial aggravation. Nur claimed Mr Moore, a fence builder, had been racially abusive, but this was not accepted by the prosecution. Gary Short, mitigating for Ambaro Maxamed, said the attack was down to alcohol. He said: ‘Although Miss Page’s partner used violence, it doesn’t justify their behaviour. ‘They’re Somalian Muslims and alcohol or drugs isn’t something they’re used to.’ The four women, who all live in Leicester, were each sentenced to six-month jail terms, suspended for 12 months, at Leicester Crown Court last month. Hibo Maxamed also received a four-month curfew between 9pm and 6am, while the others were ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work. Judge Brown said that ‘those who knock someone to the floor and kick them in the head can expect to go inside’. But he said he accepted the women may have felt they were the victims of unreasonable force from Mr Moore as he tried to defend his girlfriend, and handed the defendants a suspended sentence. Speaking at her home, Hibo Maxamed said: ‘I’m not proud of it, it’s not something I want to talk about. I just want to get on with my life.’ When asked if she wanted to apologise, she replied: ‘What, to the public? I really don’t care.'
© The Daily Mail



7/12/2011- One of the men accused of setting fire to a Stoke-on-Trent mosque was a member of the British National Party (BNP) and English Defence League (EDL). Simon Beech was a serving soldier with the 2nd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment, based at Weeton Barracks near Preston, Lancashire, when he is alleged to have set fire to the City Central Mosque in Regent Road, Hanley, in the early hours of December 3 last year. He is accused of entering the mosque, which was still under construction, with his co-accused Garreth Foster. The Crown Prosecution Service allege the pair were responsible for starting a blaze on the ground floor and feeding a gas pipe upstairs, from a neighbouring property. Beech, of Hilton Road, Hartshill, and Foster, aged 28, of Hartshill Road, Stoke, deny arson.

Yesterday at their trial at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court the jury heard Beech, aged 23, subscribed to Facebook and the EDL. Peter McMaster, an intelligence researcher with Staffordshire Police, said on November 10, less than a month before the arson, Beech posted comments including "Let's start bashing skulls, dirty, rotten rodents, they breed like rats here, they need to die like rats" and "I say we need to start taking things into our own hands because they are running the place". The next day he posted "Get as many heads as we can, go and smash some skull and take over Shelton". And Beech said he "liked" a comment someone else posted – 'Nuke all mosques'. He also posted comments including "Time we took things into our hands," and "I say we put a stop to it before it's too late." Also on November 11, Beech said: "The time has come we burn their place, burn the lot of them."

A statement from Army Captain James Athow-Frost said Beech shared a room with three other privates. He confirmed Beech had been at the barracks a short time and had not been deployed to Afghanistan. And he would not have had any training in explosives or bomb making equipment. Earlier the court heard evidence from firefighters who attended the incident. Firefighter Alan Filson entered the building wearing breathing apparatus. He said he and a colleague used a thermal image camera to find the fire which was on the ground floor in the centre of the room. He did not see the pipe which came into the upstairs of the mosque from outside. "You could not see more than half a foot in front of your face," he told the jury. "The flames were from the floor to the ceiling in the central area of the ground floor."

Fire investigation officer Brian Griffiths said there was a large amount of black smoke pouring out when he arrived. He said a large quantity of building materials were used in the fire as well as insulation boards, wooden pallets and packaging. A small gas cylinder was also found near the seat of the fire. "My conclusion was it was a deliberate fire," said Mr Griffiths. Sarah Sweetmore, who arrived at her workplace in Regent Road at 9.20am, said: "I could see the hose was connected to the gas meter. I remember hearing a hissing sound and feeling very frightened." The case continues.
© This is Staffordshire


6/12/2011- Police have launched a hunt for two men who are wanted in connection with an alleged racist attack on a 25-year-old motorist in Hull. The victim, who is of North African origin, was driving along Beverley Road just before 2pm on Saturday when he noticed he was being followed by a white Sprinter-type van. The motorist pulled over on to Lambert Street to let the van pass, before two men jumped out and approached his car. The two men punched the windscreen of the victim’s green Mazda, causing it to shatter, before one of the attackers, believed to be the driver of the van, allegedly punched the victim twice. Officers from Humberside Police have confirmed that the man was racially abused throughout the ordeal, which was also witnessed by his wife, who was in the car at the time. The two men are described as white, clean shaven, aged between 25 and 30, about 5ft 10in tall and average build. One had ginger hair while the other had brown hair.
© The Yorkshire Post



5/12/2011- A man has been jailed for hate crimes after he assaulted a woman in Hull. Ben Matthew Firth, 32, targeted transsexual Samantha Marks as she used Hull Central Library. He shouted abuse at her before stalking her through the city centre and attacking her. Now, Miss Marks, 56, is urging other victims of hate crimes to take a stand to stamp out hate crime. Miss Marks, a musician and writer, said: "I just want to be free to walk down the street as I am. "I grew up in Hull and my relatives fought in the war for freedom of speech and democracy to be who you want to be. "It's wrong that people cannot be who they are and I cannot be who I am. "I take pride and care in my appearance and I don't see if I'm minding my own business and not bothering other people why I should get harassed in the street."

Firth, of Coxwold Grove, west Hull, has been jailed for six months after he was convicted of harassment and assault. Hull Magistrates' Court heard Firth approached Miss Marks in the library as she used a computer and shouted abuse at her in the morning of July 15. She called security guards and left the library, but Firth continued to stalk her around the city centre. Miss Marks tried to return to the library for safety, but Firth punched her twice to the face and shoulder on the steps of the building. Firth was on licence at the time of the offence for a previous hate crime in February where he abused a black woman. He had targeted the woman as she shopped in Princes Quay and called her names. He then followed her to the Paragon Interchange and loudly shouted that she was not allowed to use the buses.
© This is Hull and East Riding



4/12/2011- Like every Friday, as part of the day school activities, 13-year-old Oceane Sluijzer goes to the sport training center in Neder-Over-Hembeek, a Brussels suburb, where she plays football. There she meets other girls from the same nearby secondary public school. Many of them are from Moroccan origin and Oceane feels sometimes difficult to be integrated and to be treated well. She was in fact excluded from the group because of her look, she is blond, and because she is not of Arab descent, she says. Two weeks ago, the shy Jewish girl came as usual at the center and found again the same situation. But this time she started a discussion. “Why don’t you respect me?,” she asked a group of four girls. “Is it because I am not Arab?”. Then, after the discussion heated up, one of the Muslim girl, the group leader, shouted at her: “Dirty Jew, shut up and return to your country,” words that she repeated. Oceane didn’t know how to react to the anti-Semitic insult but responded: "I will not shut up and I am already in my country." She then received two slaps in the face before being badly beaten by one of the girl for several minutes. It was only thanks to her Indian girlfriend that she could get out of the situation. "If she would not have been present, my daughther would maybe have been killed," explained her father, 44-year-old Dan Sluijzer.

Suffering a head concussion and face injuries, she went to hospital. She talked on the phone to her father who told her to go straight to the police station to fill a complaint. Since then she didn’t return to her school and was so scared that she even didn’t went out of her home. But she decided to change of school. The Jewish school was one option, but she felt Hebrew and religion were “too much” for her in the middle of the year. In an joint interview with Israel’s daily newspaper Yediot Aharonot and European Jewish Press, last Thursday, along with her father, the girl said policemen told her that the four girls would be questioned, would be told that this was not permitted and that if they do it again the complaint would go further. Police reportedly asked the girl and her father not to say that this was an anti-Semitic act. "I feel better today than when it happened but it is still difficult for me psychologically because I cannot understand this violence, that such things can happen. I would never imagine that things can go to that point." "The problem is that the other youths, who are not Muslims, are scared and don’t want to react or intervene," Dan Sluijzer, a professional actor, said.

She even didn’t heard from her school after the aggression, not from the headmaster nor from teachers or classmates. "I only received support phone calls facebook messages from fellow comrades of the Hashomer Hatsair youth movement." Already before the event took place, the father went to see the school principal to make him understand that there was a problem of anti-Semitism in his school. "He told me: Mr Sluijzer, they are kids. Don’t generalize what happens." Oceane and her 16-year-old sister Salome are the sole Jewish students of the “Athenee Les Pagodes”, a school in a quiet neighborhood of mixed social population. Oceane’s father believes that the new school, located in a different area of the city, will be able to protect her this time . "Jewish religion is teached. This didn’t exist in the other school." Oceane doesn’t feel that her attackers are the "winners" because she left. One of the girl was expelled definitively from the school and two others for three days. They were told to prepare a research work on the Holocaust and the deportation of Jews. The school principal declined any comment to Yediot Aharonot and EJP "because there is an appeal from the sanctioned girls still pending," said Faouzia Hariche, who is in charge of public instruction in the city of Brussels.

Dan Sluijzer deplored the indifference of the Belgian authorities "like it was in 1940." . "They prefer to let people fight each other." Only Brussels Jewish parliamentarian Viviane Teitelbaum reacted and was to first to inform about the aggression. In the beginning Sluijzer felt "hatred towards the Muslims but also towards the authorities because nobody say or do something." "I would have expected from political parties to tell my daughter: we understand what happened and we will act so that this could not happen again." "Unfortunately nothing happened," deplored Dan Sluizer, whose father’s family members in Holland were deported to Auschwitz. Only two of them survived. Sluijzer thinks that Israel "doesn’t protect Jews in the world enough." and "that’s why Arabs attack Jews." "Jews in the world are fighting for Israel. When people attack Israel, it’s like they attack me. So when somebody attacks me I want also Israel to be next to me."” But he thinks that the responsibility to protect the Jews lies more in hands of the local authorities.

Besides the aggression against Oceane Sluijzer, Jewish groups also reported the case of a 16-year-old Jewish student at the upscale European Brussels School where boys of the same age repeatedly called her “Dirty Jew” and harassed her because they disagree with Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians. Her mother complained to the school but the reaction was rather unsatisfactory. Camille left for the Ganenou Jewish secondary school. "It is unfair, the victim must leave," commented the mother. "Why are Jews in Belgium scared?," titled a Belgian magazine.
© EJP News



Since the 1990s, nationalism has become a major part of politics and society in Bulgaria. Racist violence, too, is becoming more and more a part of everyday life. The state, however, is doing little to counteract this.

4/12/2011- Soccer hooligans beat up Roma youth after a game. An Afghan refugee is assaulted just because he has dark skin. Following a protest march of the openly xenophobic party Ataka against a mosque in Sofia, violence breaks out between members of the party and practicing Muslims. Members of another right-wing party together with hooligans attack a Jehovah's Witnesses prayer house and beat up the people inside. These are just individual incidents of extremist violence that have occurred in the past year in Bulgaria, an alarming escalation of violence against ethnic and religious minorities that was pointed out by the Bulgarian section of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in their latest report.

No new phenomenon
Racist- and xenophobic-tinted nationalism, however, is nothing new for Bulgaria. After the fall of the Iron Curtain it spread throughout the former communist state in the 1990s, said Krassimir Kanev, president of the Helsinki Committee. He said that already at the beginning of the decade, extremist groups like neo-Nazi skinheads were becoming apparent. "The state, however, has yet to react to this kind of violence in an adequate way. With regard to this form of toleration there has already been a ruling issued by the European Court of Human Rights against Bulgaria," Kanev told Deutsche Welle. That ruling in 2007 concerned the Bulgarian authorities' handling of the murder of a Roma. The court found that the investigation was conducted in a sloppy manner and that the racist background of the crime wasn't taken into proper consideration. The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) points out the fact that such racist crimes are often officially described as simply "hooliganism" or even "normal" assault.

Anchored in politics
Even in politics, Kanev said nationalism has been a major force since the democratic turn in Bulgaria. "When the constitutional committee gathered in 1991, there were protests outside the building by members of the Bulgarian National Radicals Party who chanted against the parliamentary representation of Bulgaria's Turkish minority," he said. This racist party was never able to materialize, but that's only because the country's major parties already propagated nationalist sentiments.

Pressure from the EU
Only after the European Union began to exert some pressure did Bulgaria's major parties "clean" their ranks of nationalist elements, said Kanev. The Bulgarian socialists and the conservatives wanted to be accepted in the European parliament, and they were forced to make changes to their respective platforms in order to be accepted. "This gave room to the more extreme nationalist movements. In 2005 Ataka was founded, a party that is far more extremist than Jörg Haider's Alliance for the Future of Austria," Kanev stressed. The party's leader mobilized voters during campaigns with slogans such as "Convicted Gypsies belong in work camps!" or "Bulgaria for Bulgarians!" Two months after being founded, Ataka made it into the Bulgarian parliament as the country's fourth most popular party. Ever since, the group has routinely used racist slogans directed against ethnic, religious and sexual minorities to gain the interest of potential voters. Even in Brussels, an EU parliamentarian from Ataka dared to verbally assault one of his Roma colleagues. The party was expressly criticized in the latest ECRI report, with the Commission calling for "appropriate behavior."

No threat yet
The established liberal and democratic parties, however, are too weak to counteract the nationalist trend in Bulgarian politics, said Daniel Smilov, program director at the NGO Centre for Liberal Strategies. "At the moment the entire political class can't resist nationalist ideas," said Smilov, adding, however, that the movement currently poses no threat to the state. But this is no reason to bask in false security, Smilov warned. "Many believe that just because Bulgaria is in the EU and has reached a certain sense of stability that the system is strong enough to withstand deviations," he said, adding that this may not be the case. There is little reason to expect resistance to such extremism from the population, but despite this, there have been protests against right-wing violence and xenophobia in Bulgaria. This is a sign that a democratic culture is growing in the country, according to sociologist Svetla Encheva of the Center for the Study of Democracy.

Simmering resentment
In the past months an apparent change has been witnessed in the way politicians approach the subject of extremism. Following the death of a 19-year-old Bulgarian who was run over by a Roma driver, Bulgaria was overtaken by a wave of anti-Roma protests. Most of these took place in a peaceful manner, apart from a few individual exceptions. Above all, young demonstrators marched through the streets chanting racist slogans. In response, Boris Velchev, Bulgaria's chief prosecutor, announced that cases of "racially motivated agitation must be treated with priority." At the beginning of October a 27-year-old man was sentenced to 10 months of probation because he called for the "slaughtering of Gypsies" on Facebook. Human rights activist Krassimir Kanev welcomed that ruling, adding, however, that the Helsinki Committee would keep a close eye on whether the Bulgarian prosecution would remain consistent when it came to cracking down on extremist violence. It's precisely this that's been lacking in the past years.
© The Deutsche Welle


9/12/2011- Two Vancouver men alleged to be members of a violent white supremacist group face multiple charges after a string of assaults dating back three years, police announced Friday. Robertson de Chazal and Shawn Macdonald, both 25, belong to an international hate group called Blood and Honour, said New Westminster Det.-Const. Terry Wilson. The detective-constable is one of two full-time police officers attached to the B.C. Hate Crime Team, a joint policing unit in the province.
Arrests were made after a review of investigative files began in February, he said.

Mr. de Chazal is accused of setting fire to a Filipino man sleeping on a couch left at a Vancouver intersection in 2009. The victim suffered burns to his arms, neck and head. He is also accused of assaulting a black man in 2009, rendering him unconscious. At the time, Vancouver Police said the victim had been out drinking with friends when he came upon the couch and fell asleep on it. The attackers were seen spraying some kind of fluid onto the victim about 11:40 p.m,. and then lighting him on fire. “Three men were observed by a witness allegedly lighting the victim on fire,” Det.-Const. Wilson said. “The suspects allegedly fled the scene before the arrival of police. The victim sustained burns to his arms, neck and head. The initial investigation was unable to surface suspects at the time.” Mr. Macdonald is alleged to have assaulted three individuals — a black man, an Hispanic man, and an aboriginal woman — in separate incidents in 2008 and 2010.

Blood and Honour is a loosely knit white supremacist group with around 15 followers on B.C.’s lower mainland, Det.-Const. Wilson said. He said membership in white supremacist groups is not illegal in itself. But if they incite violence, it is a criminal offence. If the men are convicted, the Crown could ask for a hate crime designation in the case, which is used as an aggravating factor at sentencing. Det.-Const. Wilson said the B.C. Hate Crime Team, which is a joint RCMP-municipal police unit, is the only one of its kind in Canada. “If you belong to an organized hate group in B.C., we will know about you and if you commit crimes we will come and get you,” Det.-Const. Wilson said.

At the news conference, police displayed white supremacist and neo-Nazi flags, shirts and literature seized by the unit, though they said the items weren’t directly connected to the assaults in which charges have been laid. Det.-Const. Wilson said both men have been released on undertakings until their next court appearance. Mr. De Chazal is due back in Vancouver Provincial Court December 23 He has no apparent criminal history in B.C. Mr. MacDonald is not due back in court until October 2012.
© The National Post.



Facebook postings stirring debate; Winnipeg teen leaves school where he allegedly burned Jewish student's hair with a lighter

7/12/2011- A Winnipeg teen accused of a racist attack on a Jewish high school student is now stirring debate about the incident through his very public Facebook page. Police confirmed a 15-year-old boy had been charged with assault with a weapon for allegedly using a lighter to burn the hair of a Jewish classmate while uttering anti-Semitic remarks in the halls of Oak Park High School. But while police said it was still being determined whether the boy will be charged with hate crimes, the boy had a message of his own - a picture of himself on his Facebook page wearing a shirt with a slogan relating that he loves "haters." And he's being lauded by others online for the alleged attack.

The incident happened after school on Nov. 18 in the hallways of the school. The girl was not physically hurt in the attack and has since returned to school. One of the boy's friends, a young woman, posted her support for him on his Facebook page. "What you did should have been applauded. But s-happens," she wrote, drawing an immediate response from some of his other Facebook friends. While two people supported her views, two others responded negatively. One called the boy a "skinhead," while another insisted what he did should "not be applauded."

The teen's Facebook page is also filled with other vulgarities, including a derogatory term for homosexuals. The boy has since withdrawn from Oak Park, said Lawrence Lussier, Pembina Trails School Division superintendent. Lussier said a second student has been suspended indefinitely while the police investigation continues. It's alleged the second boy was present when the girl's hair was scorched, although Lussier said his part in what happened is "not clear." Winnipeg Police Const. Rob Carver said officers are aware of a second individual, but no charges are pending.

School officials have since disciplined that boy and a third 15-year old boy for "one comment each on social media" after the Nov. 18 incident, said Lussier. The comments were "related to anti-Semitism." "We can't claim to police the Internet really. Whatever we can intervene in ... are things that kids report to us normally, that are affecting the learning environment. Kids come to school scared or they're bothered by what someone said to them, or generally on some site." Carver noted the age of the accused is "particularly unusual" and called the allegations "disturbing."

"I have been doing policing for upwards of a couple of decades and don't think I've ever seen an incident like this," said Carver. "This is very young to be holding such ... hardened, racist views, and have a lot of violence associated with it." As of Monday, police had not laid any charges related to hate crimes. "Certainly, when you read this, you wonder about potential hate crime charges," said Carver. "The case has been forwarded on to the Department of Justice ... and they'll be looking into that." David Matas, a prominent Winnipeg lawyer who is senior honorary counsel for B'nai Brith, said the case shows the "durability of anti-Semitism."
© The Montreal Gazette



3/12/2011- A local girl and the high school she attends are dealing with what city police describe as a "horrific" encounter in which her hair was set on fire in an apparent racist attack by a male student. Cops arrested a 15-year-old suspect on Friday in the assault, which occurred on Nov. 18. in the school. He faces a pending charge of assault with a weapon, and has reportedly been suspended from the school because of the incident. Police spokesman Const. Robert Carver confirmed on Saturday the assault occurred in a hallway. He refused to identify the school, though the attack reportedly occurred at Oak Park High School in Charleswood.

The 15-year-old victim's hair was singed during the attack in which the boy allegedly used a cigarette lighter and made anti-Semitic comments toward her. She was apparently not seriously hurt. "After an initial confrontation, there was a second confrontation where the victim was accosted and ... a lighter was put to her hair," Carver said of what "must have been a horrific" encounter. "The comments made were anti-Semitic in nature." He added, "there may have been another student involved with the suspect," though investigators aren't certain what role, if any, that second student played in the attack.

"We don't have charges pending against that individual," he said. "That's not to say the investigation couldn't lead to that." The victim appeared to have waited at least three days before reporting the assault to the school, though Carver said he doesn't know the reason for the delay in bringing it forward. "This had to be a very, very traumatic incident," he said. "It wasn't initially reported to police. It was reported, I believe, to the school." Following his arrest on Friday, the suspect was released on a promise to appear in court. "The suspect will be charged -- at this point, with assault with a weapon," Carver said.

It's unclear, however, whether any hate crime charges are possible. "Other charges may be pending," he added. "The Department of Justice has to review the case."
Carver said "there were students around" during the assault, and that the victim "was assisted by some other students" after it happened. Carver said the attack is obviously disturbing. "When you add that there were racist overtones in the confrontation," he said, "it's got to be a very significant incident."
© Canoe News


Headlines 2 December, 2011


2/12/2011- The Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM) welcomed Justice Minister Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici’s announcement on plans to extend the grounds for which hate crime legislation will apply to also include homophobia. This generally refers to aggression and violence targeting people because of their belonging or perceived belonging to a particular group or category. Homophobic hate speech and hate crime are obstacles to the possibility for individuals to exercise rights in a non-discriminatory manner, MGRM said, advocating the inclusion of transphobic crimes under this proposal since transgender persons are also vulnerable to such crimes. There was also a need for accompanying non-legislative measures, such as raising awareness among the police and the authorities, promoting adequate training curricula, establishing systems for recording such crimes, and fostering targeted cooperation in order to protect LGBTI communities from hate violence and to support victims. MGRM said such measures are essential and form an important part of more comprehensive strategies that are needed to achieve social change. Building inclusive societies, free from prejudice and hatred, is the only way to eliminate homophobic and transphobic attacks.
© The Malta Independent



Kosovo police are investigating who sprayed swastikas on dozens of tombstones in a Jewish cemetery in Priština.

2/12/2011- “Jews out” was spray-painted on a memorial for Jewish families who perished during World War II. Police Spokesman Brahim Sadrija said Thursday that police had sealed off the cemetery in Priština and were looking for clues. The vandalism is believed to have happened Tuesday, AP has reported. ”Kosovo police went to the scene and have taken the necessary steps. An expert from Priština’s Monument Directorate has also been contacted. The investigators are conducting an investigation in order to find out who the perpetrator of this act is,” Sadrija told Radio Free Europe. He said he could not disclose more details pending the ongoing investigation. Kosovo Albanian President Atifete Jahjaga and PM Hashim Thaci have condemned the act. The U.S. Embassy in Priština was the first to condemn the incident and called on the Kosovo authorities to thoroughly investigate the case and bring the persons responsible for it to justice. Kosovo's Jewish community left for Israel and Serbia during and after the 1998-99 Kosovo war.
© B92



1/12/2011- A court in Split has issued the first guilty verdict in the case of hate crimes committed during the gay pride parade in this coastal Croatian town earlier this year. Damir Roso, 34, received a suspended sentence of one year with a trial period of three for violent behaviour and the violation of the right to assembly. During the gay pride parade, Roso yelled "Kill the fag, motherfu…, all of you should be killed," from a bench, all of which was recorded on tape. Roso said he did not feel guilty, but he admitted he had yelled at the participants of the parade carried away by the crowds that behaved in the same way as he had done. He said, however, he was sorry for what he had shouted as he had nothing against people of different sexual orientation. He also said he had no problems with a friend of his who had openly declared himself as gay. "I am a member of Torcida [Split football club Hajduk’s fan club] and we made plans to go to the Riva as though we were going to the game. That’s how we were behaving – just like we yell at the opponents at the games, we also yelled at the protesters. I am sorry and I do regret it, I was not aware of the gravity of the situation, I saw everything as a football match and not as protest against homosexuals," Roso said in his defence. This, however, was not enough for the court who found Roso guilty on both account, but took his regret and good behaviour in trial as mediating circumstance. Twenty-three people were charged with hate crimes during the gay pride parade in Split that turned violent. In the end, some 14 people were indicted while five are still under investigation. Roso’s verdict is the first sentence in these cases. The prosecution of crimes relating to the expression of hatred towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) individuals is under the special supervision of the European Commission, daily Jutarnji List writes.
© The Croatian Times



Ex- Naas Mayor Darren Scully refused to represent African immigrants

1/12/2011- The outraged media reaction to Naas, Co. Kildare Mayor Darren Scully’s comments on refusing to represent African immigrants as part of his job has occupied much space in Ireland in the past few week. Scully resigned from his mayoral position and was later fired from his job according to reports. He apologized abjectly on the Marian Finucane Show on RTE. "I didn’t put enough thought into it Marian," he added. "Obviously I was expressing my own personal view of dealings I had with regards to council workings with some people but I knew what I said was wrong. "You cannot, you just cannot paint an entire continent with one brush by saying something like that. You just can’t do that. That’s unforgivable." Scully surely realizes too late where his prejudice landed him, but there is every indication that there are many like him in Ireland.

Around the same time as the Scully incident, a Nigerian taxi driver was killed in an altercation in Dublin. It is unknown whether race played a part in the death, but the two incidents led to African community leaders holding a press conference to denounce what they called rampant racism. A Nigerian diplomat, Dr. Georges Alabi, told the conference that he had no choice but to break diplomatic ranks and speak out after a Nigerian born taxi-driver was killed on the streets of Dublin. “I’m foreign office. I should not comment,” Alabi told the Irish Examiner. “My family and I have personally experienced the stark reality of racism, with people repeatedly phoning our house and calling us niggers. “We just need to do more in the area of political leadership. The silence is too much."

Until comparatively recently there were very few African immigrants in Ireland. That changed during the economic boom, but now that those times have faded. In times of recession, of course, it is always outsiders, especially black outsiders, who are more likely to be scapegoated. There have been a slew of racial incidents in Ireland, mainly involving back taxi drivers, but also some serious threats to families moving into previously white areas. There will be a sense of déjà vu about that for many Americans.

Almost missed in the media coverage is the reality that Scully apparently received close to a thousand letters of support for his comments from Irish people from all walks of life. Are they all racist? Hardly, but it goes to the Nigerian diplomat’s point that a much bigger effort has to be made in Ireland to try and bring new understanding to this very fraught area. Good race relations, even in country as diverse and tuned in to diversity as the U.S., are difficult to maintain and need constant attention and direction. The fact of an African American in the White House has shown what can be achieved here. Such an idea would have been preposterous just a few years ago. Ireland may well need a government member who takes specific responsibility for ethnic issues as an immediate step to ease the tensions that are clearly simmering. An elected representative from a minority community could also play a large role towards achieving this worthy goal.
© Irish Central



Editor’s Note: This is an edited version of an article from theOxford Analytica Daily Brief.' Oxford Analytica is a global analysis and advisory firm that draws on a worldwide network of experts to advise its clients on their strategy and performance.

1/12/2011- The Kremlin knows how to manage elections. No major surprises are expected this weekend. The main uncertainty is how many seats Vladimir Putin’s ‘United Russia’ party will lose from its current substantial majority. Most Russians are disenchanted with their politics. But there is one enduring ‘joker in the pack’ seen as having the potential to upset the system: more extreme Russian nationalism. How serious, organized and potent is it? Observers have repeatedly warned of the possible rise of organized fascism in Russia, going back to the small Pamyat movement in the late 1980s, and continuing through the chaotic 1990s. However, it is not clear that such a movement really exists today, even in embryonic form.

Local skinhead groups form the backbone of the street nationalists in Russia. Their numbers are estimated between 10,000 and 70,000, but no systematic data collection lies behind such figures. Individuals drift in and out of the gangs, which vary in interests (from rap music to the occult) and which are intensely local. Territory is violently defended. In societies like Britain’s, similar gangs are embedded in a highly structured class system. No such social anchoring exists in Russia - making it easier to interpret the gang phenomenon wrongly as a primarily political movement. Generally speaking, these groups to date have no leadership, organizational structure or unifying ideology. A handful of intellectuals claim to speak for the ‘movement’ but they are not capable of leading one. The gangs are more social deviations than an emerging political movement.

However, one characteristic in common is their racism and antipathy to ethnic minorities. A prominent case was the many assaults on Asian persons following a football defeat by Japan in 2002. The Sova Centre’s data shows that hate crime peaked at 97 killings in 2008, with more than 500 injured. This time last year, the killing of a soccer fan triggered unprecedented protests in central Moscow that left two ethnic-minority migrant workers dead. Racism against those from the Caucasus has become mainstream even among liberal opposition figures such as economist Vladimir Milov and blogger Aleksei Navalny. The perception of these ethnic groups as corrupting, undesirable elements is widely accepted in Russian society and has deep cultural roots pre-dating the skinheads. This demonization of ethnic Caucasians causes problems for the Kremlin’s efforts to define Russian identity. The peoples of the North Caucasus are citizens of Russia, and their territory is integral to the Russian sense of state. After all, the region is why Moscow fought the Chechen wars and continues to expend its blood and treasure combating the region’s secessionist insurgencies.

The Kremlin has been good at shutting down potential leaders of hardline nationalist opposition. Examples are ex-generals Lev Rokhlin and Aleksandr Lebed in the late 1990s, and more recently political activist Dmitry Rogozin, packed off as ambassador to NATO when his influence was deemed too risky. The one movement that has proved itself capable of organizing significant protests was the Movement Against Illegal Migration, but its record since 2006 has been poor, and it was shut down by Moscow prosecutors in February on the grounds of inciting racial hatred. In the year since the soccer riots, the Kremlin has redoubled its efforts to prevent xenophobia from gaining political traction (in October, court delivered verdicts in two cases linked to the unrest). These efforts have been largely successful: an illustration is last month’s ‘National Unity Day’, a holiday first introduced in 2005. It had previously been hijacked by nationalists who mount an annual 'Russian march' to 'celebrate Russian ethnicity.' But this year it passed without incident, attracting only 5,000 participants.

The Kremlin keeps a tight grip on mass media and the electoral process. So far this has made it virtually impossible for would-be nationalist leaders to channel angry youth gangs into a viable political movement. The irony is that extreme nationalism and fascism are more likely to flourish in the more open democratic systems to Russia’s west. Nonetheless, nationalism will continue to complicate the Kremlin's faltering efforts to come up with a compelling national narrative if it is to reassure and assimilate the 20% (and rising) share of citizens who are not ethnic Russians.
© CNN - blog



Jonibek Kosimov had been missing for nearly a week when his cousin found his body in the morgue. Kosimov, 24, had been discovered in the early autumn sunlight of a forest clearing near the monastery city of Sergiev Posad outside Moscow. His throat had been slit, his face slashed by 21 knife wounds.

1/12/2011- Turning to relatives and friends -- migrant laborers, mostly -- the dead man's cousin Shaukatulloh Makhmudov collected the nearly 25,000 roubles ($810) he needed to pay the morgue and send his cousin home. Three days later, on September 10, the corpse was laid in a zinc-lined box, loaded into the cargo compartment of a Boeing 757 and flown to the family's native Tajikistan, on the southern fringe of the former Soviet Union. "It's not the first time they killed a relative," said Makhmudov. "I've already sent three or four bodies back to Tajikistan. Who do I turn to for help, Medvedev or Putin?" Nearly three months on, investigators say they have no clue who committed the murder. For migrants and human rights groups, the crime has become the latest symbol of Russia's violent and angry racism. Rights groups cited it in an online petition to the Kremlin demanding an end to such crimes. Tajikistan, which says more than 50 of its citizens have been murdered in hate crimes in Russia in the first nine months of 2011 alone, wrote to Russia's Foreign Ministry to demand a proper investigation into the killing.

The truth is, Moscow might be doing all it can. Twenty years after the fall of the Soviet Union, the Kremlin is now clamping down on Russian nationalism. Vladimir Putin, who is likely to retake the Kremlin in an election next March, tapped the nationalist fervor during his first two terms as president to feed his vision of a great Russia. But Russia's nationalists now feel he has betrayed them by welcoming migrant laborers and sending billions of dollars to the majority Muslim North Caucasus. Ultra-right groups have refused to back any political party ahead of parliamentary elections on December 4. They openly mock Putin and his fellow leader Dmitry Medvedev with almost the same vigor as they do migrants. Tapping popular anger over migration, corruption and failing social services, extremists say the leaders they once backed have turned against Russia's 80 percent white Slavic population. "There is more than just massive dissatisfaction with the state," said Valeriy Solovey, an academic at the elite Moscow State Institute of International Relations who is considered by many to be the ideologue of the nationalist movement. "It's hatred. That hatred is directed at all organs of the state and it's directed at the very top -- I mean the prime minister and the president."

Russia has a long history of fighting invaders. For more than a century, its people paid tribute to the descendants of the Mongol Empire which invaded Slavic lands in the 13th century, until in the 15th century a series of battles helped throw off the "Mongol Yoke." After the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, nationalism again proved powerful. In a country stripped of the ideas of Marx and Lenin, belief in the Russian nation filled an ideological void. In 1993, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a colonel in the Russian army, and his Liberal Democratic Party of Russia won around 23 percent of the popular vote in parliamentary elections. Western politicians were initially alarmed by the perceived threat to peace and stability but quickly came to see Zhirinovsky as part of the system. But nationalism never disappeared. Putin tapped it during his 2000-8 presidency. A Kremlin-backed political party, Rodina -- Motherland -- gave voice to anti-immigrant sentiment in the Russian parliament. Pro-Kremlin youth groups such as Nashi led demonstrations in support of Moscow at home and abroad. For many, Putin embodied the idea of Russia reasserting itself, emboldened by rising oil revenues and growing confidence on the world stage. In an interview in 2000, he said Russia's fundamental values included "none other than patriotism, love of one's motherland, love of one's own home, one's people." The interview was conducted only months after federal troops had toppled a rebel Chechen government.

Violence against non-white minorities and migrants rose dramatically, peaking in 2007-9 when hate groups killed almost 100 people a year, according to Moscow rights group Sova, which tracks racist violence. When more than 700 violent incidents were recorded in 2007, the authorities became convinced that nationalism was spinning out of control. In 2009 the Kremlin abandoned its policy of controllable and moderate nationalism as "useless," said Aleksandr Verkhovsky, Sova's director. "Since then, the only policy is suppression." A law against extremism had been passed in 2002. Of all the closures of nationalist organizations since then, more than half have been in the past year and a half, Justice Ministry data shows. In 2010 Russian courts handed down 93 convictions to ultra-right criminals, around 50 percent more than the year before. This year at least 160 people have been convicted of racist violence.

Russian spring?
But the violence continues. Anton Mukhachev, known in neo-Nazi circles as "the Fly," was convicted in September for helping form an extremist gang, the Northern Brotherhood. They started a project called "Big Game: Break the System," in which participants committed criminal acts and sent their fellows pictures to prove it. Participants moved up through "levels," which culminated in filming a migrant shopkeeper being shot. Sova has recorded at least 103 racist attacks over the first nine months of this year, including 15 deaths, although the organization says the real number is probably higher. The nationalists' biggest complaint is that millions of people from post-Soviet Central Asian and Caucasus countries migrate to Russia's traditionally Orthodox Christian and Slavic heartland every year. Official statistics put the number of legal immigrants who are given work permits at around one million annually, but Fund Migration XXI Century, a Moscow-based non-governmental organization supported by the World Bank, estimates that 4-8 million people also enter illegally every year to work.

Even though they may be unwelcome, migrants help to offset Russia's demographic crisis. Birth rates and life expectancy plummeted amid the chaos of the 1990s. The shrinking work force has hurt the economy, which U.S. bank Goldman Sachs has predicted will grow by 1.5-4.4 percent a year between 2011 and 2050, roughly half the pace of China and India. That doesn't impress far right groups, who were buoyed by demonstrations in central Moscow late last year that included some of the bloodiest ethnic violence the city has seen since the fall of the Soviet Union. Some also point to the uprisings that helped bring down leaders in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, and say they want to challenge their own leaders. Few analysts believe Russia's nationalists can bring down Putin. But Pavel Baev, at the Peace Research Institute of Oslo, says that's not the point. In a country without real political opposition, he said, nationalism is a movement gaining momentum "in an arena that the political regime is trying to close." In a survey by independent pollster the Levada Center earlier this year, 58 percent of Russians agreed with the motto "Russia is for Russians" and almost as many believed more blood will be spilt in nationalist conflicts across Russia.

Swimming in luxury?
Vladimir Tor, a stocky man with a black goatee whose speech is peppered with quotes from Rudyard Kipling and Aleksandr Pushkin, is part of a campaign called "Stop Feeding the Caucasus!" The movement unites many smaller groups, some of which are reincarnations of previously banned organizations. Tor was a member of the Movement Against Illegal Immigrants (NAII), which was closed earlier this year. He and other nationalists now meet weekly at Vladimir, a restaurant in southeast Moscow. Catering to working class Russians, it is decorated with chiffon and fake flowers. On a mid-November visit, the television on the wall played Russian pop music videos. "I am deeply convinced that Russia has entered a grey zone of catastrophe. Everyone understands that the situation is delicate and it can fall at any moment and all at once, like a bridge or the Twin Towers. Bang!" he said, hitting his fist on a table. Tor said he does not agree with racist violence. His main target, he said, are the subsidies Moscow sends to the North Caucasus, where Russian troops have fought two separatist wars in Chechnya since 1994. Government sources show the money -- around $2 billion a year officially, or officially 91 percent of Chechnya's budget -- is necessary to boost the impoverished region. Authorities believe it helps undercut support for an Islamist insurgency that killed more than 600 people in the first nine months of this year alone.

In comparison, though, Russia's Kirov Province in the Volga region, which is nearly equal in population with Chechnya, receives only about a third of its 41.4-billion-rouble budget ($1.33 billion) from federal funds, Russian Finance Ministry figures show. In a Reuters interview earlier this year, the Kremlin's envoy to the North Caucasus region, Alexander Khloponin, said the money was crucial to beating the insurgency: "We can keep endlessly killing bandits but we need to create an economic platform to stop the swelling of the ranks of armed groups," said Khloponin, a former businessman and regional governor appointed by Medvedev. Tor disagrees. Though he offers no hard evidence, he points to increasingly glamorous displays of wealth by Kremlin-backed Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov as proof that something is wrong with Moscow's funding. Kadyrov is a former rebel who fought against federal troops before joining Moscow's side. In October, he celebrated his 35th birthday by inviting Belgian action star Jean Claude Van Damme and Hollywood actress Hillary Swank to a party in his regional capital of Grozny. Singer Seal and violinist Vanessa Mae played for the young leader. His office has said there is nothing wrong with its use of funding.

"Chechnya is swimming in luxury, thanks to the Presidential administration for that," says Tor. "We want the authorities to be occupied more than anything with the problems of Russians. We don't want money to be spent on cities like Grozny, but spent on regions that are on the verge of collapse -- Vladivostok, Kaliningrad, Arkhangelsk." Medvedev, who will likely revert to the role of prime minister under Putin, has criticized groups like Tor's, arguing they could help trigger the dissolution of the Russian Federation much as the Soviet Union fell apart. In a meeting with students and members of pro-Kremlin youth groups in October, Medvedev fielded questions from mixed-race couples and praised the virtues of multi-culturalism. He also took aim at Tor's movement itself. "Stop feeding the Caucasus? What will come of that?" Medvedev said. "I remember the slogans -- stop feeding Central Asia, stop feeding Ukraine, stop feeding Belarus, the Baltic states. And what happened? Our country fell to pieces."

Nothing to do with Putin
Last December, after a street brawl in which a Muslim migrant from the North Caucasus killed an ethnic Russian football fan, between 5,000 and 10,000 young men swarmed at the gates of the Kremlin, chanting nationalist slogans. Since then, nationalists have held more rallies, more often. Earlier this year on Russia's National Unity holiday, around 7,000 skinheads, neo-Nazis and ultra-right groups gathered on the outskirts of Moscow to hold an annual demonstration they call the "Russian March." In the biggest gathering of its type so far, young men walked behind a giant wooden cross and priests singing Orthodox hymns. Wearing hooded sweatshirts, surgeons' masks and leather jackets, they gave Nazi-style salutes and chanted offensive slogans about Islam. Dmitry Yakovlev, 21, who helps put people in touch with the funders of nationalist groups, told Reuters some are funded by politicians and bureaucrats who are tired of Putin's rule and want different policies.

The Kremlin's failure to prosecute perpetrators of racist crimes has for years drawn accusations from human rights groups that some extremists work with its tacit approval. Yakovlev said that for his movement the notion is nonsense. "The authorities -- they're not homogenous," he said. "It consists of different groups. There is the faction made up of security officers who support Putin, there are those who are more or less liberal, and there are those who are nationalists." His light blue eyes lit up with excitement. Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he had never heard of allegations that any nationalist groups were supported by the Kremlin: "I can't comment on this," he said. On December 4, when poll booths close across Russia, nationalists plan another demonstration in central Moscow, in sight of the Kremlin. "We're angry," said Dmitry Dyomushkin, whose Slavic Union was banned last year. "We want to show that this is an election without choices."
© Reuters



Followers of the ultra-right Workers' Party of Social Justice (DSSS) physically and verbally attacked U.S. singer Tonya Graves who lives in the Czech Republic in a restaurant in Vimperk, south Bohemia, on Saturday, Graves told CTK today.

28/11/2011- DSSS chairman Tomas Vandas dismissed the accusation and wrote in a statement that it is "part of a campaign aimed to disredit" the party. He wrote that the matter should be immediately investigated. If any criminal act was committed, it should be duly punished, Vandas added. Afro-american Graves said she been exposed to racist insults by the DSSS activists who staged a rally in Vimperk on the day. She is a singer for the Czech band Monkey Bussines that performed at a disco on that day. "In the restaurant, I met some people from the DSSS," Graves said. "I was alone and it was an unpleasant encounter. They resented my being there," she added. "They started shouting racist slogans at me, drawing my hair and spitting at me," said Graves, who has been living in the Czech Republic since 1995. She said there had been two police officers in the restaurant, but they were off-duty and did not help her. Graves said she had only been helped by some restaurant guests and a waiter. "The police who only came to the scene when everything was over said they could not do anything because the assailants were not locals," she added.

Roughly 300 people attended the DSSS rally at the Vimperk square. Speakers headed by party leader Tomas Vandas warned of problems with the "unadaptable" (Romanies) and the worsening security situation in the town. Disco operator Tomas Koska said one of the DSSS followers verbally attacked the singer in the restaurant. Koska said there had not been any physical attack. "Some locals tried to defend me. There were two police in the neighbouring room, but they were off-duty and did not help me," Graves said. "Some of the locals and boys from the band called in the police. I was mainly helped by the old people from a table for regulars and a waiter," she added. "The assailants then put up a fight among themselves and chairs were flying through the air," Graves said. Graves, 41, said she had come across such an incident for the first time in the Czech Republic. She said she was O.K. and considered the affair closed. Along with singing for Monkey Business, Graves has featured in some Czech films, including Jiri Menzel's I Served the King of England from 2006. The DSSS is a successor to the Workers' Party (DS) that was outlawed over racism, xenophobia and chauvinism in February 2010.



A Muslim woman was spat at and abused by a gang of six teenagers in Telford who pulled off her religious headdress in a racially motivated attack.

1/12/2011- The gang, who were all male, surrounded the 52-year-old woman and started aggressively pushing and shoving her as she walked along a footpath by the skate park near William Reynolds Infant School in Woodside on Tuesday. Chris Ammonds, spokesman for Telford police, said the woman was abused between 6pm and 6.20pm. “After circling the victim the youths then started to racially abuse her. At least one of the youths spat at the victim too. “The youths then pulled the victim’s hijab – a traditional Muslim headdress – off her head and taunted her with it but she quickly managed to grab it back off them and flee. “The victim has been left very shaken by this incident and also suffered a long scratch to her right cheek as a result of the assault. “The youths that surrounded the victim are all described as being white, aged between 15 and 17 and as wearing tracksuits and hooded tops or caps. “Officers are very keen to identify the youths that assaulted this woman.”
© The Shropshire Star



Police believe attackers used crow bars and pick axes; 'It is disturbing. This is a place of worship. If this was a church I'm sure we'd be hearing more about it'

30/11/2011- Police are investigating the 'malicious' destruction of a pagan stone circle destroyed in what they fear was a religious hate attack. The site in Lampeter, south-west Wales, which includes an altar and fire pit, was found destroyed earlier this month after thugs used weapons to cause 'as much damage as possible'. Police believe the attackers could have used crow bars and pick axes, with speculation that the attack could have been religiously motivated. The damage sustained to the pagan circle was so extensive police were forced to close off the temple and surrounding areas amid health and safety fears. The steps giving access to the site, in the grounds of the town's Trinity Saint David University campus, were also torn apart. Members of the University of Lampeter's Pagan Society described the attack as 'disgusting' and 'heartbreaking'. Lampeter PC Richard Marshall told a town councillors meeting last week the site had been 'maliciously taken apart' and is now unsafe to use. He said: 'It is disturbing. This is a place of worship. If this was a church I'm sure we'd be hearing more about it.'

Former and current members of the student group have called for the vandals to be caught and punished, as speculation mounted over the motives behind the attack. One member of the group said on Facebook: 'I know from experience and studies of the state of student politics at this university... that there is a strongly widespread dislike of the stranger aspects of this university , from some of its own students. 'In some cases (this) has manifested itself openly as pure hatred.' The pagan circle, which has been vandalised often in recent years, is also the subject of regular litter and debris clean-ups following impromptu parties by groups at the site. This time, however, the damage was so extensive the temple and surrounding areas have had to be closed off amid health and safety fears. The site is used as a meeting place for the 75 members of the university's Pagan Society, whose members have said the damage is 'heart-breaking'. The group now hopes to secure funding for a complete rebuild at the current site to improve access and security, or to move to a new location.

Talks between the society, the university and the Students' Union are ongoing. Cen Powell, the University's Executive Head of Estates and Facilities said that it is working with the Students' Union to 'assess options' to find a new site for the Pagan Society to use. A Dyfed-Powys Police spokesman confirmed it is investigating the incident although no suspects have as yet been identified.
© The Daily Mail



The victim was knocked to the ground after being confronted by three men who shouted homophobic abuse on Waverley Bridge.

27/11/2011- Police are treating an attack in Edinburgh which left a man with a broken jaw as a homophobic assault. The 24-year-old victim was one of a group of friends who were confronted by three men on Waverley Bridge just after midnight on Sunday morning. The men shouted homophobic abuse at the group before punching the victim in the face, knocking him to the ground, and running off towards Princes Street. Lothian and Borders Police said the assault was "cowardly and vicious" and appealed for witnesses to come forward. A spokesman for the force said: "Due to the comments made prior to the attack, officers are treating this as homophobic. "Lothian and Borders Police will not tolerate hate crime in any form and will robustly deal with anyone found to be responsible." One of the suspects is described as black, in his early twenties, 5ft 6ins tall and of medium build. He was wearing a black hooded top, black and yellow scarf and black trousers. The other two men were both white and in their early twenties. One had dark blond hair and wore a red top, while the other was about 5ft 7ins tall, of average build and wearing a dark hooded top.

Anyone with information should call Lothian and Borders Police on 0131 311 3131 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.


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