ICARE Hate Crime News - Archive January 2012

Headlines 27 January, 2012

Headlines 20 January, 2012

Headlines 13 January, 2012

Headlines 6 January, 2012

Headlines 27 January, 2012

CAMPAIGN DEMANDS HATE CRIME LEGISLATION (Turkey)

27/1/2012- Some 50 non-governmental organizations have come together in a campaign to demand legislation in the new Turkish constitution against “hate crimes.”
“Hate crime is not yet defined in the Turkish legal system, although we witness them every day. Minorities obviously need legal protection,” said Yasemin Ýnceođlu, professor from the Communications Faculty of Istanbul’s Galatasaray University, yesterday in a press conference. “‘Hate crimes’ are crimes based on ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability. A hate crime’s target is not only the sufferer; the perpetrator seeks to give a message about the entire group in one crime,” she said.

Numerous Alevi, non-Muslim, Roma and LGBT associations attended the meeting to lend their support to the bill. Levent Ţensever from anti-discrimination group “DurDe!” said laws against hate crimes have been practiced with success in North America and Europe for more than 50 years. “For a peaceful society we need to have legal regulations on this matter as well,” Ţensever added. Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Melda Okur also backed the demand, saying the platform will be invited to the Constitution Conciliation Commission soon. “Previously, CHP’s deputy Sezgin Tanrýkulu submitted a law proposal to Parliament and the Peace and Democracy Party [BDP] supported this. But the ruling Justice and Development Party [AKP] rejected the draft bill. They reflexively ignore anything from opposition parties,” Okur told Hürriyet Daily News.

However, Okur also said some cases, such as the Hrant Dink murder or the Kurdish minority issue, cannot be reduced to a simple hate crime case. “The state could use the hate crime bill as a curtain to blur the truth. To uncover the deep state’s role in these murders we need to separate them from hate crimes,” Okur said. The bill campaign is open for the signatures of supporters at nefretme.org. (Turkish)
© The Hurriyet Daily News

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BLACK TEEN ATTACKED WITH NOOSE FOR LIKING A WHITE GIRL (usa)

Three white teenagers have been charged with a hate crime.

27/1/2012- Three teens have been charged with a hate crime after attacking an African-American teen and putting a noose around his neck for his alleged relationship with a white girl. The accusers, who are all white, range from age 16 to 18. According to the Chicago Tribune, on Dec. 23, the victim, 17, went to the home of one of the accused. Upon his arrival, the teens put a noose around the victim’s neck, used the N-word and refused to let him leave the house. Eventually he escaped. Matthew Hermann, 18, was charged with felony counts of unlawful restraint and committing a hate crime, in addition to misdemeanor battery, police said. The other two suspects are facing charges in juvenile court.

The attack is just one of many hate crimes reported within the last month. In October, nineteen-year-old Deryl Dedmon was charged with capital murder for allegedly beating and driving over an African-American man. And just last month, a Black baby doll was found hanging by its neck from a metal chain in the Bronx headquarters of New York City’s Parks and Recreation Department. Nearby, "KKK" was found scratched on a bathroom wall. “I think what’s going on in the big picture is that many, many white Americans feel that they are somehow losing their country to people who don’t look like them. That sense has clearly been exacerbated by the appearance of Barack Obama,” Mark Potok, director of the intelligence group at the Southern Poverty Law Center, tells BET.com. A recent report by the FBI says that an overwhelming majority of racial-bias crimes perpetrated in the last year have targeted Blacks.
© BET

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FIRST CHARGES OF SHEPARD/BYRD ACT CONVICTED, RECEIVE PRISON TIME FOR ASSAULTING A DEVELOPMENTALLY DISABLED NAVAJO (usa)

26/1/2012-Two member of the Bloods street gang were sentenced in a US District Court in Santa Fe, N.M., for a hate crime against a developmentally disabled Navajo, the FBI said in a statement on Wednesday. Paul Beebe and Jesse Sanford of Farmington, N.M were convicted and sentenced on federal hate crime charges related to the racially motivated assault of a 22-year-old developmentally disabled Navajo, according to the FBI and the Justice Department. Beebe received eight-and-a-half years in prison and three years’ supervised release, while Sanford got five years and three years’ supervised release. Beebe, and Sanford were indicted by a federal grand jury, along with a third defendant who pleaded guilty and is still awaiting sentencing, in November 2010 on one count of conspiracy and one count of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (Shepard/Byrd Act), says the FBI. The three were the first defendants charged under the Shepard/Byrd law. Both pleaded guilty. In August of 2011 the two admitted that Beebe has taken the victim to his apartment, covered in racist paraphernalia, and defaced the victim by drawing on him with markers a number of racist symbols once he had fallen asleep. When the victim awoke, gagged with a towel, Beebe branded him with a heated wire hanger, impressing a swastika into his skin. They recorded the event with cell phone cameras.
© Tickle the Wire

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NEO-NAZIS ATTACK ANTI-FASCIST GROUP (Russia)

25/1/2012- Dozens of neo-Nazis attacked anti-fascist activists returning from a memorial event for slain anti-fascists Stanislav Markelov and Natalya Baburova, shooting them with pellet guns in Mayakovskaya metro on Thursday, witnesses and activists said. The police and metro deny that any attack took place. One witness, who asked for her name not to be printed, said she saw scores of men waiting on the train platform at Mayakovskaya metro station at around 9 p.m. Thursday. “Suddenly they rushed forward in what looked like an attack,” she said. There were no fewer than five gunshots and smoke, she added. Later she saw police officers leading two teenagers to the metro police office.

Stefaniya Kulayeva, program director of the Memorial Anti-Discrimination Center, which organized the memorial event, said threats had been made against participants on neo-Nazi blogs and forums. “The information is scarce, but what can be said is that neo-Nazis did attack the anti-fascists, whom they had followed, as they returned from the event,” Kulayeva said. She said that in view of possible attacks, the activists had walked together to Vasileostrovskaya metro after the rally, accompanied by a police vehicle. “The police did protect us, but then we entered the metro and started to say goodbye to each other. I left to go to my metro line, and the other guys went in a group somewhere,” Kulayeva said. “Then there was an attack and a brief clash, but nobody got hurt. There were no hospitalizations or reports to the police.” Kulayeva added that attacks were carried out on anti-fascists on the same day in Moscow and Voronezh, as well as in Sevastopol and Simferopol in Ukraine.

A source within the local Turkish community said that two Turkish men were badly beaten by six men on Ulitsa Rubinshteina in downtown St. Petersburg in what also appeared to be a neo-Nazi attack on Thursday. There is speculation that the two attacks are connected, because they happened at approximately the same time and Ulitsa Rubinshteina is within walking distance of Mayakovskaya metro station. Police spokesman Vyacheslav Stepchenko denied Tuesday that any attack had taken place at Mayakovskaya metro station. He did not confirm or deny the attack on the Turkish citizens, suggesting that an official inquiry should be sent to him in order to obtain this information. St. Petersburg Metropolitan said that neither a fight nor shooting was recorded on surveillance cameras, although it admitted that there had been a “loud sound” at the station at 8:46 p.m., Rosbalt reported late Thursday.
© The St. Petersburg Times

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DISCRIMINATION ROUTINE IN BALKANS, HRW SAYS

The 2012 Human Rights Watch report says discrimination against Roma in the Balkans remains widespread, media freedom is patchy and refugee returns have been disappointing over the last year.

24/1/2012- The 2012 report of the NGO Human Rights Watch analyzed discrimination, refugee problems, media freedom and war-crimes trials in four Balkan countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and Kosovo. The report says that Roma are discriminated against in all four countries and most often live in informal settlements without power and water supplies; are not integrated into health and educational systems and are unable to get jobs. The return of refugees and internally displaced persons to places of their origin is also not as high as expected, especially in Bosnia, which has failed to provide conditions for their social integration. Media freedom is jeopardised by verbal and physical attacks on reporters and by lawsuits against journalists and editors in all countries examined.

Roma discrimination:
As Bosnia failed to implement the 2009 European Court of Human Rights verdict in the Sejdic-Finci case, the country still does not allow members of ethnic minorities - non-Serbs, Croats and Muslims - to run for top posts. Roma are heavily discriminated against in society. Thus, although many Roma children attend schools, the unemployment rate in the community among adults is still some 99 per cent. According to UNHCR, up to 10 per cent of Roma are not publicly registered in Bosnia, so are unable to access health care. Many live in informal settlements with poor housing. Roma continue to suffer discrimination and attacks in Serbia too. Examples such as three individuals beating a young Roma adult in a Belgrade bus, show Serbia is far from honouring Roma rights. Some Roma families living in informal settlements in Belgrade were forcibly evicted from their homes and taken to live in metal containers without sanitation or electricity, far from the city. Kosovo’s Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptian minorities also remain marginalized and vulnerable to discrimination, particularly in housing and access to public services. They have the highest unemployment, school drop-out, and mortality rates in Kosovo.

Refugees returns:
Bosnia did little to support the return of refugees and internally displaced persons. The major reason why some 113,000 internally displaced have not returned home are lack of economic opportunities, inadequate housing, and reluctance to return to areas where they would be an ethnic minority. In Croatia, although the authorities pledged to compensate Croatian Serbs stripped of their property rights during the 1991-95 war, Serbs faced continued obstacles reintegrating back into Croatia. There are 1,600 internally displaced Serbs in Croatia. UNHCR reported that Serbia and Kosovo produced the highest number of asylum applicants of which almost all are rejected. The trend was attributed to the EU's decision to lift visa requirements on Serbia and the economic problems and discrimination that minorities face in Kosovo. Kosovo’s human rights situation improved little in 2011. Tensions between Serbs and Albanians on the northern Kosovo border led to violence. Discrimination against gays is a problem in Serbia where the gay rights parade set for October 2 was cancelled over fears of mass violence. There is concern about the degree of far-right activity and violence in Serbia.

Key international actors:
The European Union maintains a firm presence in Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia and Kosovo. The EU opened a new office in Sarajevo to house both Peter Sorensen, head of EU delegation and an increasing number of staff working towards EU integration. At the end of June Croatia closed negotiations on entry into the EU. The country will be monitored after the likely entry date of July 1, 2013 because of ongoing concerns mostly about corruption. The European Parliament’s ratification of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Serbia marked a key step toward the country's membership. The resolution emphasized the importance of eliminating Serb-run, so-called parallel structures in the north of Kosovo. The UN Mission is present in Kosovo, and its head, Lamberto Zannier, said the country needs to see a speedy investigation into war crimes and organ trafficking allegations.

Media freedom:
Attacks on journalist took place in all of the four countries, including lawsuits, verbal attacks, physical violence, death threats and equipment confiscation. The reporters on "Insider", a B92 television show, who reported a series on alleged financial abuses were threatened by posters “announcing” the deaths of the journalists.
Bosnian TV editor Bakir Hadziomerovic has been under police protection since 2009 and Croatian TV editor Aleksandar Stankovic faces defamation suits. An indictment was issued against Rexhep Hoti and four other staff of the Kosovo daily Infopress for making threats in the paper in May and June 2009 against Kosovo journalist Jeta Xharra.

War crimes trials:
In April the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY, found former Croatian generals Ante Gotovina and Ivan Cermak guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against Serbs in 1995. The trial of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic is ongoing in the ICTY. In May and July, respectively, the two remaining war crimes suspects, Ratko Mladic, wartime Bosnian Serb military commander, and Goran Hadzic, wartime leader of the Croatian Serb separatist forces, were arrested in Serbia. Jovan Divjak, a Bosnian army wartime general, was arrested under a Serbian arrest warrant in Austria with charges that he committed war crimes in 1992 against Yugoslav People’s Army troops on Dobrovoljacka Street in Sarajevo. Austria declined Serbia’s request for extradition, and Divjak was released in July. The partial retrial at the ICTY of Ramush Haradinaj, former prime minister of Kosovo, and Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj, former Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, commanders, began in August on charges related to wartime abuse of prisoners at a KLA detention facility.
© Balkan Insight

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THE AMY INITIATIVE CALLS FOR HATE CRIME LEGISLATION REFORMS (Malta)

22/1/2012- A Facebook group titled The AMY Initiative has been set up to condemn the homophobic attack on a 16-year-old lesbian couple and call for stricter legislation regarding hate crimes. "This group is regarding the lack of hate crime laws with respect to sexual orientation. Malta's hate crime laws do NOT cover this," the group's description says. "AMY is a pseudonym used in the article, but AMY could be anyone -your sister, your cousin,your brother,your uncle. HOMOPHOBIA is real in Malta. There is NO EXCUSE for it, don't let it go ignored." The incident in question, which happened over a week ago, was reported this morning by the Sunday Times.

Two teenage girls had been sitting on a bench in ¨¤amrun when two young men attacked one of them and dragged her by the hair because of her sexual orientation. The girl ended up at a health centre with a fractured nose, a graze on her face and several bruises. Her girlfriend, who was also attacked, got away with a bruise to the head and scratches on her wrists which she sustained when pushed to the ground.

The Drachma Parents’ Group extended its solidarity with the victims and their families and draws on Maltese society and the Christian Community to take stronger action against homophobic remarks and to stand up in defence of victims suffering harassment and violence, on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Civil authorities and the Police Corps are urged to stop this violence by ensuring justice and compensation to the victims is duly given. The Curia is also urged to issue a strong statement in the face of such unchristian and aggressive behaviour and show that it is on the side of homosexuals, ‘who must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity’.

Gabi Calleja from the Malta Gay Rights Movement and Neil Falzon from human rights movement Aditus condemned the act saying it was very unfortunate that in today’s society sexual orientation could lead to hate crime. We Are, a LGBTQQI student organisation based at the University of Malta, has also joined in with a vocal condemnation of the attack. Alternattiva Demokratika chairman Michael Briguglio said he endorsed the calls by NGOs and civil society for more action against such homophobic hate crimes.

Those LGBT people who have experienced similar incidents or require support are encouraged to contact MGRM on support@maltagayrights.org or call the National Gay Helpline: on 9925 5559.
© Di-Ve

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BRUTAL RACIALLY MOTIVATED ATTACK ON CUBAN MAN (Czech Rep.)

22/1/2012- Police in Brno are investigating a racially motivated attack by a group of ethnic Czechs on a single Cuban man. TV Nova has reported that the attack was clearly racially motivated. Witnesses have confirmed that the neo-Nazi assailants shouted racist abuse during the brawl. "In the early morning hours of last Friday a brawl occurred in which two drunken, unidentified assailants beat up a young man. During the incident about CZK 4 000 worth of property damage was done," police spokesperson Andrea Straková told news server Tn.cz. The assault was provoked by one of the skinhead brawlers, who threw a glass at the Cuban man. The victim did his best to leave the business in peace, but the neo-Nazis started beating him up, news server Tn.cz reports. The brutality of the attack was such that the neo-Nazis kept beating the victim whenever he showed signs of consciousness. When they determined the defenseless Cuban man was still moving, they started throwing half-liter beer glasses and bottles full of alcohol at him. TV Nova reports that police officers do not understand how the victim made it out of the place on his own. They also do not understand why he did not report the brutal crime to police.
© Romea

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MARINE HURLED RACIAL ABUSE DURING ATTACK (uk)

24/1/2012- A drunken Royal Marine attacked three men and racially abused one of them in a Plymouth bar, a court heard. Marine Matthew Smith, aged 22, hurled racist abuse at a black drinker and told him to "go back to where you came from", Plymouth magistrates were told. But Smith, based with 42 Commando at Bickleigh Barracks, had acted as a liaison with Afghan elders on his second tour of the war-torn country. He also has black and Asian comrades in the unit. His solicitor Robin Smith said he was receiving counselling after the death in action of one of his colleagues. Smith admitted racially-motivated assault by beating of Marshall Monu on January 12. He further admitted assaulting Dean Lewis and Martin Newitt by beating the same night. Magistrates fined him a total of £730 for the assaults and ordered him to pay £60 to each of his victims. He must also pay £80 prosecution costs and ordered to pay £15 victim surcharge, making an overall court bill of £1,005. Presiding magistrate Barry Brooking said: "Clearly you acted wrongly. This was a very, very expensive night you had."

Michael French, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said Smith had got into an argument with Mr Lewis at about 2.30am. He added Smith grabbed Mr Lewis and pushed him around, repeatedly punching him in the face. Mr French said he pushed Mr Newitt when he intervened, firstly against some railings and then on to the floor. He added then Mr Monu asked Smith to calm down. Mr French said: "The defendant called him a black something-or-other and told him to get back where he came from. He then punched him on the nose." The court heard Mr Monu and Mr Newitt suffered minor injuries. Mr Lewis was unharmed but his shirt was torn. Mr Smith said the Marine accepted his behaviour was "out of order" and was remorseful for his actions. He added: "He is an extremely proud Marine and things were said to him. We are not using that as an excuse." Mr Smith said the Marine admitted he was on 'eight or nine' on a scale of drunkenness out of 10.
© This is Plymouth

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REPORT WARNS OF WORKPLACE RACISM (Northern Ireland)

23/1/2012- A Filipino worker was tied to a chair by a racist colleague in the North while another was locked in a freezer, a community representative has claimed. The allegations emerged as new research found almost half of Filipinos living in the North say they have experienced racial harassment in the workplace. Co-workers are the most common source of the abuse, with bosses and customers also guilty, the study of the local Filipino community found. The number living in the region has increased greatly in the last decade, from around 300 in 2001 to an estimated 5,000 to 7,000 currently. Many have travelled to the North to take up jobs in the health sector. Filipino community representative Jason Braga, 36, who has lived in the North for nine years, said some of his compatriots were frightened to report abuse in case it harmed their chances of staying in the country. “I was told of a nurse being tied up in a chair and a hotel worker being locked up in a freezer,” he said. “But these people did not want to give further details, they are scared. When I first came here I also experienced problems, people telling me ’why don’t you go to your own country’. “We have heard of managers shouting (racist) things at Filipino people but they don’t want to complain because their future is in their manager’s hands.”
The report by the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities (NICEM), which was outlined at an event in Stormont, found workers from the Philippines are vulnerable to exploitation, particularly those working in the fishing industry. The NICEM research also highlighted the many immigration difficulties encountered by Filipinos trying to settle across the UK, including limited access to social security and tight restrictions on bringing family members with them. Bosses refusing to pay agreed wages has an impact on visa issues, as applicants for Indefinite Leave to Remain status need to have a pay rate that exceeds a set UK Border Agency level. While a senior care assistant at a nursing home should be paid over £7 an hour, a union survey last year found that the average Filipino employed in this post was getting £6.70, a figure below the UKBA criteria. In the study of almost 150 adult Filipinos living in the North, 42% said they had been racially harassed at work. Of those who alleged abuse, 48% said they had been targeted by a colleague, 44% by a customer and 33% by a manager. As well as calling for changes to UKBA rules for gaining citizenship and work permits, the report calls for action to be taken by the Stormont administration to improve the situation of locally based Filipinos.
© The Irish Examiner

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BRICK THROWN THROUGH HOUSE WINDOW (Northern Ireland)

21/1/2012- An eight-year-old girl has been injured after a brick was thrown through a window at a house in Dundonald. The child, who was asleep in her bed when the attack happened at 5.30am on Saturday, was taken to hospital but her injuries are not believed to be life-threatening. The same house, on Brooklands Drive, was the target of a separate attack last Sunday in which two windows were smashed and the windscreen of a car damaged. Police are believed to be treating the incidents as hate crime. The Nigerian family is now looking to move out of the house. Alliance East Belfast MLA Chris Lyttle, who condemned those responsible for the attacks, said the party was helping them find alternative accommodation. "This family is making a positive working contribution to our society and their children are part of local sports and community clubs," Mr Lyttle added. "I have met the family and expressed the shared outrage of the good people in this local community and church representatives that they have been targeted with such a horrific attack."
© The Press Association

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Headlines 20 January, 2012

FROM HOMOPHOBIA TO A MOVING APOLOGY IN TURKEY (opinion)

As a groundbreaking film launches, Turkish attitudes to gay and transgender people are slowly improving – in the media at least 
By Elif Shafak

18/1/2012- Last week was tumultuous for Turkey's gay and transsexual people. A groundbreaking indie movie, Zenne Dancer, finally hit the screens, after winning five major awards at the country's foremost film festival, and receiving a shower of attention from the mass media – a shower that unfortunately quickly turned cold. In daily parlance the word zenne refers to a man who dresses up like a woman and dances in front of an audience, a custom that goes way back to early Ottoman empire. The film itself is inspired by a true story, that of Ahmet Yildiz, a student who was gunned down by his own father for being openly and unrepentantly homosexual. His was not the first hate crime in Turkey, nor the first gay honour killing, but probably the first to draw such widespread attention. The film and the subsequent media coverage played an important role in increasing awareness about the hardships transgender and gay communities endure in Turkey's patriarchal society.

Just a few days earlier the high court of appeals had ordered a daily newspaper to pay compensation for calling gays "sexual perverts". It was a major step in a country where a study conducted in July 2011 as part of the World Values Survey, revealed that, when asked what kind of people they would not want to see living in their neighbourhood, a whopping majority of 84% answered "homosexuals". The list of unwanted neighbours continued with Aids patients, unmarried couples and atheists. Today, even in the gargantuan, cosmopolitan city that is Istanbul, people find it hard to discuss homosexuality, and harder still to accept it. Yet it is no longer assumed that the country is composed of a monolithic whole of undifferentiated individuals. Ethnic, religious, political and sexual differences are being talked about in public to a degree that was unheard of before. Mehmet Binay, producer and co-director of Zenne, says all kinds of minorities, including gay and lesbian people, are asking to be recognised and demanding their rights in Turkey today.

But then Bulent Ersoy, one of the country's most famous and popular singers, and a transsexual, claimed she had once met Deniz Gezmis – an iconic leader of the 1968 leftist movement, who is no less revered today than Che Guevara. Ersoy said she had sung for him, and he had bought her gazoz, a soft, bubbly drink. What followed was anything but soft. A lawyer and an ex-revolutionary, Bozkurt Nuhoglu, released an angry press statement. Gezmis would have never befriended this transsexual singer, he claimed, since he was against such people of lower morals. He then added that if she kept talking like this the comrades of Gezmis would certainly punish her. The Turkish media covered this story with a critical eye. Numerous articles were published denouncing the sexism and homophobia of this statement. Several columnists have taken the opportunity to question the patriarchal nature of the leftist ideology in Turkey and the "traditionalism of the progressive forces", a subject rarely tackled. Transsexuals, gay people, feminists and human rights activists across the country have also voiced their protests, demanding an immediate apology. When I tweeted about this incident the feedback was hearteningly positive – although there were alarmingly homophobic reactions as well. "Don't tell me you really expect us to tolerate these people!" commented a headscarved female student. One would assume she would know what it means to be discriminated against, given her gender, age and perhaps headscarf, and yet she did not hesitate.

What happened next, however, testifies to Turkey's complexity. Nuhoglu sent an unexpected letter of apology to Pink Life, an organisation struggling for the rights of the transgender community. It was a moving letter, very well thought and well written. "One of my favourite films has been The Kiss of the Spider Woman," Nuhoglu said. Adapted from a novel by the Argentinean author Manuel Puig, starring the unforgettable Raoul Julia and William Hurt, the film is about a revolutionary, Valentin, and a gay man Molina, who unexpectedly find themselves in the same prison cell. Valentin starts out as homophobic towards his cellmate, but as they suffer from the same injustices and go through the same tortures, he changes, and an unexpected camaraderie and love is born. Referring to the movie in his letter, Nuhoglu said that he had behaved exactly in the way Valentin had done in the first half of the movie. He asked for pardon from the transsexual singer and all those he had hurt unwillingly.

Turkey itself is often polarised with too many social and cultural gaps to fill, and too many biases to overcome. One wonders how things would be different, and more democratic, if only more people were to share the same space with those who are different to themselves, and realise their similarities. But at least there are signs that things are slowly changing for Turkey's gay and transsexual people, if not out on the streets, than at least in the media and public discourse.
© Comment is free - Guardian

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WOMAN ATTACKED BY GROUP OF ROMA ON NEW YEAR'S DAY DIES (Czech Rep.)

19/1/2012- A Czech woman from a family attacked by a group of Romanies at New Year has died in a hospital, police spokesman Vojtech Hanka told journalists yesterday. The police has ordered a forensic autopsy to find out the connection of her death with the attack, Hanka said. Two of the assailants have been accused of breach of the peace and bodily harm and the conduct of one of them has been qualified as racially motivated, he added. In reaction to the woman's death, the far-right Workers' Party of Social Justice (DSSS) has announced it will call a public rally in Varnsdorf. The DSSS is a successor to the outlawed ultra-right Workers' Party (DS).

"After the attack, the woman was treated in the hospital in Rumburk, north Bohemia, and released home," Hanka said. "As she was in a bad health condition, we could not question her," he added. The woman, aged 62, then had to be hospitalised again. The hospital spokesman has declined to give any details. The woman's son who stood up against the assailants after they attacked his father has also spent several days in hospital. On Sunday, some 200 people attended a meeting in support of the local family that was attacked by Romanies in Varnsdorf on January 1. A daughter of the attacked man thanked the participants for their support in a letter that the organisers read at the rally. "I was not present at the attack, but I can confirm that it really occurred. As a parent I want to live in Varnsdorf without the fear of going out to any street at night," she wrote.

Crime has been rising lately in towns in northern Bohemia's Sluknov area, known for tense relations between the majority population and Romanies. Local residents blame Romanies for the crimes, mainly frequent thefts and assaults. The DSSS has said it demands an investigation into the case and stiff punishment of the culprits. "We are also preparing protest demonstrations at which we will highlight again the inability of the current regime to protect decent citizens and to prevent racist attacks to which we are increasingly exposed," DSSS leader Tomas Vandas said.
© The Prague Daily Monitor

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ONE CHARGED WITH RACISM FOR VERBAL ATTACK ON ROMANI PEOPLE AFTER DEMONSTRATION (Czech Rep.)

18/1/2012- One of the people involved in a incident that took place this past Sunday around 18:00 on Žitavská street in Varnsdorf now faces felony charges of defaming an ethnic, national, racial or other group. If convicted, the 19-year-old man from Teplice faces up to two years in a correctional facility. The degree to which the others involved in the incident were to blame for it is the subject of an ongoing investigation. Vojtěch Haňka, spokesperson for the Ústí Regional Police, announced the information through the Czech Police website. One young woman and two young men from Teplice verbally assaulted Romani people after Sunday's demonstration in Varnsdorf (Děčín district). Police detained them all, jailing one of the men and releasing the other into the custody of his parents because he was under 18. Haňka said one of the men had patches on his coat reminiscent of Nazi symbols. Approximately 200 people had assembled in Varnsdorf to express support for a family whom police say were attacked by five members of the Romani community on New Year's.
© Romea

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COUPLE QUIT DERRY HOME AFTER ATTACK BY RACIST THUGS (Northern Ireland)

18/1/2012- A young couple have said they will not return to their Londonderry home after a gang attacked it with golf clubs in a racist attack. Police said they are treating the attack on the home of Jonathan Taylor and his Filipino wife as a hate crime and have appealed for witnesses. Mr Taylor and his wife have lived together in Montgomery Close for two years — but the couple were forced to flee after Mrs Taylor (35) was left in fear for her life when men smashed up windows and their front door. The mob did not get into the Waterside house but Mrs Taylor, who has lived in Derry since 2003, said she was preparing to jump out of the bedroom window if they had. The Catholic couple have lived peacefully in the area, but reported that they had felt as if they were being watched recently. Mr Taylor said: “This has been such a terrifying ordeal for both of us, but especially for my wife who is not even from Derry. “I was brought up to respect everybody’s religion and culture and in the past I even took part in projects that promoted peace within the two communities, so it is shocking when you become the victim of a hate crime.

“It hurts, too, that we live in a cul-de-sac with 30 houses in it and it seems that no-one saw anything, nor did anyone come to my wife’s aid. “We have had the feeling that our movements were being watched this past while and the timing of the attack would certainly tie in with that. “My wife finished her work at 4.30pm but I don’t finish until 6.30pm, and they came with their clubs at 5.30pm when she was all by herself. “I didn’t know where to turn when I got the call from her, she was screaming in fear down the phone and I felt so helpless, all I wanted to do was to get to her as fast as I could.” Mrs Taylor is still in shock from the attack and is at a loss as to why anyone would target her. She said: “I have lived here since 2003 and have lived in different parts of the Waterside, but this is the first time I have experienced anything like this. “I have always worked hard and minded my own business. I don’t understand why anyone would do this and I just asked the police, why, why did they do this? “I looked downstairs and all I could see was glass flying all over the house, it was terrifying. “I locked myself in the bedroom and called 999 while the attack was going on, then I phoned my husband.”

The couple are now living with Mr Taylor’s family in the cityside area. Mrs Taylor has also quit her job in Starbucks because of its proximity to their house. Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan said: “Mr and Mrs Taylor contacted me after they were forced to flee from their home and I am now trying to get alternative accommodation for them.
“Police are undecided as to whether this attack was because they were a Catholic couple or because Mrs Taylor is from the Philippines but, whatever, there is no justification for an attack like this. “The cowardly thugs who targeted this couple have no place in a peaceful and just society.” Police in Derry have asked anyone who witnessed the attack or saw any suspicious activity in the area to contact them on on 0845 600 800 or Crimestoppers on 0800 55 111.

Quotes
“It hurts, too, that we live in a cul-de-sac with 30 houses in it and it seems that no one saw anything nor did anyone come to my wife’s aid. We have had the feeling that our movements were being watched this past while and the timing of the attack would certainly tie in with that.”
© The Belfast Telegraph

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CONTROVERSIAL BILL TARGETING FOOTBALL-RELATED SECTARIAN CRIMES TO BECOME LAW IN MARCH (Scotland, UK)

The new law has created two offences for 'offensive behaviour' and 'threatening communications' related to football.

20/1/2012- The controversial bill targeting sectarian hate crime related to football has received Royal Assent. On Friday, the Scottish Governmnet confirmed it planned to introduce the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act as law on March 1. The SNP claims the act will give police and prosecutors the "additional tools they have asked for to extract poisonous songs of hatred from Scottish football and threats of harm being posted on the internet".
Under the bill, two offences have been created that will result in a range of penalties up to a maximum five year prison sentence.

Roseanna Cunningham, Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, said: "The passing of this act sends out an important message about the kind of Scotland we want to live in and tells the bigots in no uncertain terms that this behaviour will not be tolerated in a modern Scotland. "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. Those engaging in it will face the full force of the law."

The bill was forced through the Scottish Parliament last month despite widespread opposition from other political parties and fans. The offensive behaviour crime created by the law is intended to deal with "sectarian and other offensive chanting and threatening behaviour likely to cause public disorder". It specifies "expressing or inciting religious, racial or other forms of hatred" and "threatening behaviour or behaviour which would be offensive to any reasonable person” at and away from football matches. The threatening communications offence constituted by the new law is intended to deal with "threats of serious harm and threats which incite religious hatred."

This includes "implied threats (e.g. the posting of bullets or images depicting serious harm)" and can be defended is the behaviour in the situation "reasonable", while the government says there is "specific provision regarding protection of freedom of expression" such as "artistic performance".
© STV

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HEATHER PEACE JAILED FOR STABBING POLISH PAIR IN WISHAW (uk)

20/1/2012- A woman who stabbed a Polish man and woman during a party at a flat in North Lanarkshire has been jailed for fours years and nine months. Heather Peace, 26, stabbed Marivsz Polsednik and Anna Baryxych in Wishaw in October 2010. She was charged with attempted murder but pleaded guilty to lesser charges of assault to danger of life. The court heard she lost her temper after accusing Ms Baryxych of kissing her boyfriend. Sentencing Peace at the High Court in Edinburgh, judge Lord Brailsford told her he accepted she was "grossly intoxicated" at the time and that there was an element of jealousy. But he said a prison sentence could not be avoided for two serious attacks using a knife.

Hazy memory
Peace had also admitted the attack on Mr Polsednik was racially aggravated. The court heard that on the day the attack took place Peace, a mother-of-two, went to her friend Katarzyna Zadorozna's flat at Cala Sona Court, along with boyfriend Barry Paton, to work on an essay for college. They began drinking and later friends of Ms Zadorozna turned up and the drinking continued. One of the group, Ms Baryxych, was feeling upset because she had just split up with her boyfriend. After talking to Peace she sat beside Mr Paton and put an arm round his shoulder. Peace tried to punch her but the blow did not connect. Peace left the flat with Mr Paton, but returned a few minutes later and marched into the kitchen, swearing, and stabbed Mr Polsednik. During a second confrontation, Ms Baryxych spat in Peace's face and was stabbed. Defence advocate Ronnie Renucci said Peace recognised she had a problem with drink and only had a hazy memory of what had happened. "Events of that night are extremely confused because of the amount of alcohol she drank."
© BBC News

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3 CONVICTED OF HATE CRIME IN BRITAIN FOR DISTRIBUTING BROCHURE CALLING FOR EXECUTING GAYS (uk)

20/1/2012- Three men were convicted Friday of distributing anti-gay leaflets, and prosecutors called it a landmark case regarding the prosecution of hate crimes regarding sexual orientation. A jury found the men to have distributed leaflets calling for homosexuals to face the death penalty. Two others were acquitted of the same charge. “Everyone has a right to be protected by the law and we regard homophobic crimes, along with all hate crimes, as particularly serious because they undermine people’s right to feel safe,” said Sue Hemming, chief of the Crown Prosecution Service special crime division. She said in a statement that the leaflet showed a mannequin hanging from a noose and said gay people were destined to go to hell. One witness testified he felt he was being targeted and feared he would be burned, Hemming said. Ihjaz Ali, 42, Kabir Ahmed, 28, and Razwan Javed, 27, were found guilty in Derby Crown Court. Sentencing is set for Feb. 10. The men were prosecuted under a relatively new law that took effect in 2010. It makes it a crime to promote hatred based on sexual orientation.
© The Associated Press

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TALKS OVER SUNBURY-ON-THAMES SCHOOLGIRL RACE ATTACK (uk)

19/1/2012- A race attack in Surrey on an 11-year-old girl will be the focus of community talks in Sunbury-on-Thames. The girl was attacked by older white girls who kicked her, pushed her to the ground and drew on her face. Surrey Police said it seemed the girl had been targeted on 11 January because she was wearing a headscarf. Spelthorne councillor Colin Strong said the incident was being raised at a meeting with neighbourhood police as an issue that affected the community. Detectives said they were treating the incident in Vicarage Road as a racially-aggravated assault. Det Con Simon Egan said the girl had been targeted as she waited for a bus. He said the suspects had kicked the victim in the leg, pulled her rucksack from her, pushed her to the floor, used make-up to draw on her face and racially abused her. After the incident, the girl picked up her bag and ran away. Det Con Egan said: "This was an appalling assault where a young victim has been targeted in a completely unprovoked attack. "It would seem that suspects targeted the victim for no reason other than because she was wearing a headscarf." In an appeal for witnesses, he said the assault had taken place at the side of a busy road in daylight and urged any pedestrians or drivers who saw the attack to come forward. The issue will be discussed at a neighbourhood policing meeting at the Sunbury Youth Centre, in Bryony Way, on Thursday evening.
© BBC News

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RACE STATS DON'T TELL FULL STORY FOR ARRESTS IN LINCOLNSHIRE, SAYS CONSTABLE (uk)

18/1/2012- A Lincolnshire assistant chief constable has set the record straight after figures released show that black people are more likely to be stopped and searched by police than white people. Figures released by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) show that the arrest rate by Lincolnshire Police was 26 per 1,000 among the white population and 33 per 1,000 among the black population in 2009/10. Other figures in the report show the number of racist incidents in the Lincolnshire Police Force area have increased by 12.1 per cent since 2006/7. Assistant chief constable Keith Smy said: “We recognise the importance of monitoring the number of recorded offences of hate crime but it is also important to look at the bigger picture and understand that an increase is not necessarily a negative indication. “We work very hard to train our officers to recognise hate crime and to ensure that people are confident in our abilities to investigate such crimes. “Therefore a higher number of recorded crimes could be down to increased reporting, better recognition of hate crime and more accurate recording rather than an actual increase in occurrences.”

Mr Smy believes that the figures may also reflect the changing demographics of the county. He said there have been significant increases in migrant communities over recent years and Lincolnshire Police is very much a lead agency in promoting integration and cohesion. In terms of the types of crime reported, the majority of incidents tend to be racially motivated criminal damage, verbal abuse and minor assaults. Mr Smy added: “In the latest report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission the figures for stop and search put Lincolnshire amongst the top ten performing forces in the country meaning we have one of the lowest levels of disproportionality. “The number of stop searches leading to arrest for the non white population is higher and this is generally reflected in the rest of the country. “Our aim is to ensure that officers are acting on a judgement formed from their experience and training and not on any kind of prejudice. “Both hate crime figures and stop search rates are reviewed internally by our Strategic Diversity Group and externally by the Government and the Police Authority closely monitors performance via regular reports and has been satisfied with performance.”
© This is Lincolnshire

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STEPHEN LAWRENCE VERDICT COULD PROMPT FRESH LOOK AT SCOTTISH RACIST MURDER (uk)

Prosecutors hope to reopen the case of Surjit Singh Chhokar, stabbed to death in Scotland's most infamous racist killing

17/1/2012- Prosecutors are expected to reopen the unsolved racist murder of an Asian waiter who was repeatedly stabbed to death 13 years ago in North after Scotland's double jeopardy laws were scrapped. The murder of Surjit Singh Chhokar in November 1998, in Overtown near Motherwell, is regarded as Scotland's most infamous unsolved racist killing. Prosecutors failed to secure a conviction despite the arrest of three chief suspects, and two high court trials. Pressure on Frank Mulholland, the lord advocate, and police has intensified since the conviction of two of Stephen Lawrence's killers at the Old Bailey earlier this month. Anti-racism campaigners and the family believe there are strong parallels between the Lawrence case and the failure to convict Chhokar's killers. It is believed that Strathclyde police and prosecutors at the crown office have already begun unofficially reviewing the original productions and statements from the first two trials. New witnesses are understood to have come forward since a spate of publicity about the case last weekend.

Aamer Anwar, the Chhokar family lawyer, has said he is optimistic that Mulholland will formally reopen the case and order a review of all the evidence. Anwar is due to meet the lord advocate and Lesley Thomson, the solicitor general, on Thursday next week. In an emotional press conference at the Scottish parliament, Manjit Sangha, Chhokar's sister, said: "People will have forgotten Surjit's name, yet the darkness of his murder still shadows our lives. All that we have ever asked for is justice. The recent changes in the law once again give us hope." Graeme Pearson, a Labour MSP and former senior detective at Strathclyde police, who helped led the force's formal inquiry into the botched prosecutions 10 years ago, said he regarded the Chhokar case as "unfinished business". Speaking after appearing at the press conference alongside Sangha and Anwar, Pearson said: "I see no reason not to be optimistic. The legislation has changed the rules vis-a-vis double jeopardy. The Chhokar case is universally acknowledged to be unfinished business. No one who has looked at the case felt it was well handled." Anwar said: "Just as in Stephen Lawrence's case, the killers of Surjit Singh Chhokar should not rest easy in their beds."

The failure of the prosecutions led to a high-profile inquiry ordered by the then lord advocate, Colin Boyd, who admitted in 2001 that the prosecution had failed the family. That inquiry concluded the crown office was guilty of institutional racism. The dispute over the crown office's handling of the evidence, particularly its decision to charge just one of the three suspects with the murder, led to furious rows between senior judges and prosecutors. The trials collapsed in part because the crown office originally charged just one of the three suspects, Ronnie Coulter, 43, with the murder. Coulter was tried on his own for murder in the first trial, in 1999, but his charge was reduced to assault and he walked free after he blamed the killing on the other two suspects, his nephew Andrew Coulter, 30, and the third accused, David Montgomery. A second trial, of Andrew Coulter and Montgomery in 2000, ended without a guilty verdict after the two men blamed Ronnie Coulter for the crime. Anwar said the family were now hoping that the most up-to-date forensic techniques, particularly those involving DNA and CCTV, a re-examination of the original testimony and witness evidence, and a new appeal for witnesses could produce enough evidence to lead to a retrial. "The lord advocate confirmed to me that any murder where justice is denied is a matter of real concern to him," Anwar said. "This morning the lord advocate has given me his assurance that both he and the solicitor general will do their utmost to make full use of the powers under the new legislation."
© The Guardian

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U.K. SCHOOL PROBES ANTI-SEMITIC INCIDENT INVOLVING NAZI GAME

Jewish student's nose gets broken after he asks to stop the anti-Semitic drinking game at a London School of Economics university ski vacation.

17/1/2012- The London School of Economics confirmed Monday it had opened an investigation into an alleged anti-Semitic incident on a university ski trip last month, which involved a Nazi-themed drinking game and ended in a Jewish student’s nose being broken. Some 150 students from the school’s athletic union attended the winter break trip to Val d’Isere in the French mountain, which was organized by the student union. According to a statement released by the LSE’s Jewish Society, a student objected to a drinking game that was being played, leading to a physical confrontation. According to the Jewish Society, the group of students was playing a popular drinking game called Ring of Fire, but with a Nazi twist. This involved playing cards being arranged on a table in the shape of a swastika, with players required to “salute the Fuhrer.”

Broken nose
A Jewish student present, offended by the goings on, asked to stop the drinking game and the anti-Semitic gibes and jokes being thrown around. A fight then broke out, either right away or later in the evening, according to competing versions of events, and the complainer’s nose was broken. Jay Stoll, president of the LSE’s Jewish Society said that “there is simply no context for what has happened here. Those who believe the game was all in good humor need to realize that when a Jewish student is subject to violence and the Nazi ideology glorified it is no joke but a spiteful, collective attack on a community.” Alex Peters-Day, general secretary of the student union, said in a statement that the described events were completely “at odds with everything the LSE and the union stand for.” Brendan Mycock, president of the LSE athletics union, condemned what he said were the actions of “a small group of individuals.”

The student, who did not want to be identified, told the Guardian newspaper that he was subjected to both personal attacks and “general Jewish insults.” “That was after I excused myself from the game,” he said. “It made me extremely upset. That was the tipping point for me. It was a build-up during the game, and seeing the swastika obviously, but the comments built up to the point where I couldn’t forgive myself if I let it slide. I feel angry about it now. There’s no doubt it was an affront at my identity, but on a personal level it was extremely upsetting.” This incident is not the first of its kind to be reported out of a British University recently. Just two months ago, four senior members of the Oxford University Conservative Association (OUCA) resigned after accusing other members of engaging in anti-Semitic behavior, including singing a Nazi-themed song. A recent study commissioned by the Union of Jewish Students and conducted by IPSOS Mori and the Institute for Jewish Policy Research found that 20% of Jewish students had experienced and a further 32% had witnessed anti-Semitism in the last academic year.
© The Guardian

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IRANIAN, 26, 'BEATEN UP IN RACIALLY-MOTIVATED ATTACK' IN GREENGATES (uk)

16/1/2012- Detectives are investigating after an immigrant was left with a broken cheekbone and shattered nose in an alleged racist attack at a district pub. Iranian Ismaily Rehman Pur was allegedly attacked by around ten people while out for a quiet drink with his English girlfriend at the Roebuck Hotel in Greengates, Bradford. The 26-year-old was kept in Bradford Royal Infirmary overnight and had to have a CT scan to check for a bleed on his brain after losing his memory. His girlfriend, Kathryn Shields, 34, who lives in Eccleshill, said it took her four days to persuade him to report the attack because he feared being deported. Mr Rehman Pur, who had overstayed his student visa to the UK from Belgium where he had first sought asylum status, was detained by police on Thursday night at the request of Immigration officials That was despite the fact that he was awaiting at Bradford Royal Infirmary to re-structure his nose. Police enquiries are still ongoing into the alleged attack, which happened on Friday, January 6. Detective Inspector Richard Partis said: “We are presently treating the incident as racially-motivated, and clearly with all incidents of this nature we are taking the matter extremely seriously.”
© The Telegraph & Argus

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POLICE AND PARTNERS LAUNCH THIRD PARTY REPORTING FOR HATE CRIME (Somerset, UK)

16/1/2012- Police in Somerset have joined forces with their partners to make it easier for victims of hate crime to come forward. A new system of third party reporting has been introduced that means victims of hate crime can report an offence to the police via a wide range of agencies. The agencies signed up to the new arrangement include Mind, South Somerset Disability Forum, People Can, Terrence Higgins Trust, Somerset Racial Equality Council, Midwest European Communities Association, Somerset Lesbian Network, Compass Disability and Victim Support. Members of each participating agency have received special training to take these reports and can then, with the victim's permission, report the offence to the police on the victim's behalf.

Each agency also ensures that the victim receives support from the relevant bodies. In cases where the victim does not want the report to be passed to the police, the agency can still take the report and provide appropriate help. The aim of the new approach is to encourage all victims of hate crime to speak out and to receive support. A hate crime is any criminal offence that is perceived by the victim, or any other person, as being motivated by prejudice or hate - it may be associated with someone's race, faith or belief, disability, cultural background, gender, age or sexual orientation. Victims of hate crime can find the idea of contacting the police a daunting prospect for a number of reasons, such as language difficulties or a belief that the process will be too complicated. The aim of the new scheme is to encourage reporting through alternative routes as well.

Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE, who has written a book about coming to England in the sixties, has endorsed the scheme. She said: "I receive letters from children who have read my book...These letters from children, Jewish, Latvian, Polish, African and many other countries, demonstrate the damage that is done to their well being and self esteem when they are victims of hate crime. "I hope that the work of the Strategic Partnership Against Hate Crime (SPAHC) helps to redress and reduce some of these crimes." Superintendent Matt Ayres, who chairs the SPAHC, said: "We are delighted that this new system has now been put in place and that it covers 10 different agencies. "We hope this will encourage people who don't want to report directly to the police to make a report to one of our partners instead. "The reason all those involved have worked so hard to bring this about is because, like a number of other offences, we believe hate crime is under reported and we want to encourage as many people to come forward and report it as possible. "The aim of all the agencies that have signed up to this new process is to work together to support victims of these types of offences, to reduce the number of hate crime incidents and to bring to justice those who commit these offences."

Susanne Jarman of Victim Support said: "Victim Support is proud to be part of this new initiative and we bring a wealth of experience in supporting victims of crime.
"Victims who use this third party reporting scheme can be confident that we will ensure an individual and confidential approach to their concerns. "We would urge victims to use this new process and help us and our partners to identify and eradicate hate crime in our county." The agencies involved in the new scheme have also launched a new website giving information about third party reporting and which agencies are involved in the new process.
© the Avon and Somerset Constabulary

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FIVE ARRESTED IN ROME FOR PLOTTING AGAINST JEWISH COMMUNITY (Italy)

16/1/2012- Police in Rome have arrested five neo-fascists on charges of plotting violence against the local Jewish community. The accused also plotted to attack Riccardo Pacifici, Rome’s Jewish community president, as well as Gianni Alemanno, the city's mayor; gianfranco Fini, the president of the Chamber of Deputies and the president of the Senate. Police said 11 others were also under investigation. The charges include criminal association to spread racial hatred, incitement to violence and discrimination for racial, ethnic and religious reasons. Those arrested last Wednesday included five members of the neo-fascist militia group, including its long-time leader, Maurizio Boccaci, who is in his 50s. Police raids were carried out in several cities across the country. According to Italian state television, the accused wanted to foment a “revolutionary war” against the official Italian institutions. Alemanno and Fini both are mainstream right-wing politicians who had their political roots in the neo-fascist movement but now demonstrate strong support for Israel. Alemanno has been the target of neo-Nazi militia banners and graffiti. Alemanno and Pacifici made a two-day visit to Israel this week to meet with freed Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
© JTA News

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Headlines 13 January, 2012

THE DUTCH - WORLD LEADERS IN ISLAMOPHOBIA

There were more than 100 ‘incidents’ at mosques in the Netherlands between 2005 and 2010 – far more than in other countries. The incidents are detailed in a new Dutch book about Islamophobia and discrimination. Those responsible for the trouble mostly go unpunished and Muslims often file no criminal reports.

12/1/2012- In the 1990s, the Netherlands was known for being extremely tolerant of foreign religions, says Frank Bovenkerk, emeritus professor at the University of Amsterdam (UVA). “... until surveys suddenly showed considerable animosity towards Islam was developing. The researchers thought: ‘This kind of split with the past isn’t possible’. But it in fact was.” Then came the attacks of 11 September 2001 in the United States and the murder of Dutch film-maker Theo van Gogh by an Islamic extremist in 2004. Dr Bovenkerk blames Dutch politicians for fanning the flames of hostility towards Muslims: “After Van Gogh’s murder, the then deputy prime minister, Gerrit Zalm, said that we were “now at war”.

Things went differently in the United States as Dr Bovenkerk points out:
“The first thing president Bush did after 9/11 was to visit a mosque because he knew that he mustn’t jeopardise his relationship with Muslim Americans. They were really careful about that there. But in the Netherlands, we went along much more easily with politicians such as Pim Fortuyn and later Geert Wilders, who exploited the aversion to Islam for political gain.”

Incidents
Ineke van der Valk has written a book about Islamophobia and discrimination in the Netherlands. She lists 117 incidents at Dutch mosques between 2005 and 2010. The number in the US was just 42 during the same period. The incidents include arson, the daubing of slogans on walls, vandalism and much more. “A suspect letter containing powder, telephone threats, hanging a dead sheep on the building, with ‘No Mosque’ daubed on the body. Or a pig’s head. Or sheep’s or pig’s blood daubed on the wall ...” These incidents happened surprisingly often in small places. Ms Van der Valk thinks immigrants are much more accepted in large towns because immigration has been going on there for much longer. The people responsible have seldom been found. They’ve not been identified in 99 of the 117 cases. “That makes you think it’s time the police and justice authorities did more about it,” she says.

Internet
Then there’s the Islamophobia on the internet. Ronald Eissens from the MDI registration centre for discrimination on the internet : “In 2011, there were 290 reports of Islamopohobic comments, nearly one-fifth of the total reports of discrimination.” He says that discrimination is becoming increasingly more mainstream on the Dutch-language internet. “It’s moving from the dark alleys into the full light of day, on the popular web forums, which are read by everyone.”

Values
What can be done about the situation? Ineke van der Valk: “You’ve got to get to grips with the social problems which play a role in why people turn to discrimination. People who are victims of crimes perpetrated by Muslims are quicker to discriminate.” You also have to push the openness of society and prize the values of diversity. She thinks Norway set a good example in the way it dealt with Anders Breivik’s attacks. “I think we could do well to learn from that because politicians here are far too inclined to look the other way and hope that the Islamophobia craze will just go away. We’ve got to stand up for what we believe in much more, for what we think is important, for democracy and the rule of law.”
© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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ANTI-SEMITIC SPREE EYED AS INSURANCE SCAM (usa)

11/1/2012- An arson attack last year on cars in a predominately Jewish neighborhood of New York reportedly is being investigated as an insurance scam instead of a hate crime. The attack on Nov. 11, the day after Kristallnacht commemorations, included the spray-painting with anti-Semitic graffiti of the nearby sidewalk and park benches. Elected officials and Jewish leaders roundly condemned the attack. Police sources told local media, including the New York Daily News and the New York Post, that the cars were likely set alight in order to collect insurance money, and the graffiti was spray-painted in the area to make the attack look more like a realistic hate crime. The owners of the cars did not live in the neighborhood where they were torched, and beer bottles found at the scene were wiped clean of fingerprints, which police said pointed away from an act of hate. A police spokesman told the Daily News that police had not ruled out a bias crime. The New York Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force investigated the incident.
© JTA News

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MURDOCH MACKAY STUDENTS SUSPENDED OVER RACIST IMAGES (Canada)

10/1/2012- Several Transcona-area students were suspended today for their roles in what’s been called a hate-crime incident. Dennis Pottage, superintendent of the River East Transcona School Division, said the five students in the photo are Grade 12 students from Murdoch MacKay Collegiate. The division contacted four of the students, and their parents, earlier today and they were formally suspended. The fifth student in the photo was not in class today, he said, and officials have not been able to contact him or his parents. The photo shows the five boys smiling as they’re kneeling behind an SUV parked in front of the Transcona-area high school. Drawn into the dust of the SUV’s tailgate window are numerous swastikas and several anti-Semitic and racist phrases. "In talking to the four we’ve been in contact with, they are very remorseful of their actions," Pottage said. "I don’t believe they understood the significance of their actions but the bottom line is it’s totally inappropriate and we have to respond that way."

Pottage said he doesn’t know which student drew the images and phrases in the vehicle’s window but added he believes they are collectively responsible for the images. "They just didn’t stumble across and find" the images drawn on the vehicle’s windows, he said. "But I don’t know who wrote it, or whether one wrote it or they all participated." Pottage said Winnipeg Police have been informed and the division is continuing its investigation. A Winnipeg Police Service spokesman said an investigation has been initiated but offered no other details. Pottage said school officials didn’t know where the fifth student was and had no explanation for his absence from school. Pottage would not say how long the students will be suspended from school but added that division officials will work with them. "They certainly will undergo a significant intervention."

The photo came from the Facebook page of one of the students. The division had received a smaller, cropped, screen-shot version of the photo earlier but was unable to discern any details. A high-quality version of the photo was provided to the division Monday, which allowed officials to identify the students. It’s not certain when the photo was taken. There is no snow visible in the photo. One of the boys is wearing shorts, and the other boys are wearing T-shirts and jeans and one of them is wearing a hoodie. Pottage said he was told the photo was posted on the student’s Facebook page sometime in December. A local official with B’nai Brith Canada said the boys should be charged with a hate crime, adding education officials have to recognize there is a problem with hate crimes in their schools. Alan Yusim, regional director of B’nai Brith Canada, said this is another in a long line of hate crime incidents involving students at Winnipeg schools, adding drastic changes must be implemented to deal with hate crimes within the school system. "My guess is there aren’t any Jewish students at (Murdoch MacKay Collegiate) and it’s likely none of these students know a Jewish person," Yusim said.

Yusim said school divisions have to acknowledge they are doing a poor job dealing with hate crime in classrooms, adding course material has to be added to deal with this. "School divisions have let everyone down," Yusim said. "We need a values-based curriculum that incorporates anti-hate training right from Day One." Pottage said that when the investigation is completed, officials will consider all measures to ensure it doesn’t happen again. School officials strive to create an environment at schools where everyone feels safe and secure, Pottage said, adding what the five Murdoch MacKay students did was totally unacceptable. "People need to understand that this is not acceptable. The public is outraged by that and so they should be. That in itself is a learning experience for all the students. "We want these (five) students to learn from this unfortunate incident -- in fact we want all our students to learn that these things are serious, that we take them seriously, and that they are significant and there are consequences to that," Pottage said.
© The Winnipeg Free Press

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NEW PARTY TO DEFEND ROMA INTERESTS (Czech Rep.)

12/1/2012- The Czech Interior Ministry registered last December the Party of Equal Opportunities that is to defend the interests of Romanies and other socially-weak citizens, server Tyden.cz writes yesterday referring to the ministry's spokesman Vladimir Repka. The founders of the party are now completing its programme. The constituent congress is to be held in Prague in the foreseeable future. "We have chosen the name Party of Equal Opportunities because we believe that there are not equal opportunities for all in the Czech Republic," Cenek Ruzicka, a member of the party's preparatory committee and chairman of the Romany Holocaust Compensation Committee, told the server. Members of the party's top bodies are not publicly known personalities, but natural authorities from regions. The party wants to take part in the autumn regional elections already. "We will definitely participate in the regional elections. Our participation in the [autumn] Senate elections will depend on whether we will find quality candidates," Ruzicka said. Ruzicka announced the intention to found a political party with regional impact in Lety, south Bohemia, last autumn. He spoke at a monument to over 1300 Romanies who were forced to stay in the Lety internment camp during the German Nazi occupation, 327 of whom perished in the camp and over 500 were sent to Oswiecim (Auschwitz).
© The Prague Daily Monitor

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CZECH COURT SENTENCES NEO-NAZI TO COMMUNITY SERVICE FOR ASSAULT ON ACTIVIST, WHO HAS APPEALED

11/1/2012- A court in the Czech town of Most has handed down a verdict in the matter of an attack that was committed against human rights activist Ondřej Cakl during a neo-Nazi demonstration in November 2008 in Litvínov. The court did not award compensation for damages. The convicted assailant, František Brávek, will have to perform 300 hours of community service. The verdict has not yet taken effect and Cakl has appealed. In November 2008, after a rally held in Litvínov by the now-defunct Workers' Party (Dělnická strana), the Autonomous Nationalists (Autonomní nacionalisté - AN) marched through the town with the aim of provoking violence against the Romani community living in a socially excluded locality there, the Janov housing estate. During the march, widespread violence was committed; three years later, this is the first conviction to be handed down with respect to those events. The victim, Ondřej Cakl, and his Tolerance and Civil Society association (Tolerance a občanská společnost - TOS) have been instructed to seek financial compensation through a civil proceedings. The court said that proving the defendant's share of liability for the damages caused would require further evidence.

At the demonstration in question, Cakl was filming the marchers heading for the Janov housing estate as part of his work for TOS, which monitors the neo-Nazi scene in the Czech Republic. Last January he testified that someone first pushed him to the ground from behind, that several people kicked him, and that someone threw a rock at him. The entire incident is said to have been brief. He did not recognize the individual assailants at the time, as he was primarily doing his best to flee. The attackers destroyed his video camera and tore his clothing. Cakl immediately appealed this verdict because he was not awarded compensation for the damages he suffered. "The court could have taken into consideration the motivation of hatred that lay behind the attack as a whole. Ondřej Cakl was assaulted because of who he is – an active defender of human rights", says Klára Kalibová, Cakl's attorney.

Hate violence of the sort that Cakl has suffered usually significantly influences victims' lives, the lives of their loved ones, and other persons or communities at risk of attack. This case is no different. The attack was one of the reasons Cakl has moved out of the country. "If the attack had occurred this year, we would have been able to seek damages for the distress inflicted, but at the time the trial was initiated that wasn't possible, there was no such option available," Kalibová told news server Romea.cz. What is also interesting is that of the 13 people charged in the incident, only František Brávek has been convicted. All the rest have, according to Kalibová, either been acquitted or had their cases classified as misdemeanors.

The judge said the main evidence against the convicted perpetrator was the photographs and video recordings of the incident. which show him kicking Cakl as he is lying on the ground. According to the defense, however, the photos are not reliable because they were taken from behind and the person is wearing a hood. "I do not believe that is me in those photos," Brávek testified. Brávek has been convicted twice previously of committing grievous bodily harm and rioting. In the one case he ended up in prison after violating his parole, while in the other case he performed 400 hours of community service.

Cakl's attorney believes the court should not have categorized the incident as a case of rioting. Representing the absent Cakl before the court, Kalibová said the incident should have been classified as the felony crime of violence against an individual member of a particular group, because Cakl is a civil rights activist with TOS. He was unable to appear in person because he is remaining outside the country after the incident in Janov out of concern for his safety. "This is not the only time he has been attacked, and he has also received threats. He does not feel safe in this country," Kalibová said.

Cakl, however, is not sure whether Brávek in particular was one of the assailants. "Based only on what happened at the scene of the crime I am not able to say the defendant was one of the assailants. However, on the basis of the photographs and video taken by the journalists present, I am able to identify him," Cakl previously testified. In his view, however, the main assailant was the one who first attacked him from behind and pushed him to the ground. Police officers have not charged anyone with that offense. "I mainly hope that person will be apprehended," Cakl said. The first person charged with assaulting Cakl, Martin Loskot, was acquitted one year ago by the court in Most.

The march on 17 November 2008 was attended by about 500 promoters of the ultra-right who did their best to enter the Janov housing estate, which is predominantly inhabited by Romani people, and ended up clashing with police officers. The large-scale street fighting, which took police two hours to bring to an end, caused 14 injuries. Approximately 1 000 officers were deployed to the event.
© Romea

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CZECH EXPERT ON EXTREMISM RESIGNING DUE TO NEO-NAZI THREATS

10/1/2012- One of the few expert witnesses on extremism in the Czech Republic, Michal Mazel, has decided to resign due to the constantly increasing pressure on him from those whom he has studied. Diatribes against him, primarily by promoters of the ultra-right, have taken their toll. The final straw was a charge of bias leveled against him by an attorney for ultra-right activist Lucie Šlégrová, who is on trial at the District Court in Most. The attorney alleged that Mazel could not objectively critique Šlégrová's behavior because of his allegedly Jewish origin. "I have been considering stepping down for some time, but these most recent matters have affected me such that I don't think I could handle my job in the future. There is enormous psychological pressure involved. One must remain disinterested," Mazel told the Czech daily Právo. He has served as an expert witness for three years.

"This has been an interesting experience for me, I have learned a great deal about the ultra-right scene. Sometimes I had the feeling that from time to time too much emphasis is placed on expert witnesses. The courts and police should be able to digest some matters on their own. Other cases being tried seemed too trivial to me. The defendants in whose cases I was asked for my expertise often defended themselves through a kind of Czech 'Švejkism' [a reference to the literary character from the Good Soldier Švejk], claiming they should be able to espouse National Socialism because [former Czech Social Democratic Party chair] Jiří Paroubek espouses something similar. Fortunately the courts have not accepted those excuses," Mazel said.

Lucie Šlégrová, a member of the Workers' Social Justice Party (DSSS) and its republic-wide Commission on Arbitration and Conciliation, filed a complaint through her attorney alleging that Mazel is a biased court expert because he is of Jewish origin, which means he cannot objectively evaluate a case in which she was charged with making a speech about National Socialism during a demonstration in 2010. She deduced the alleged Jewish origin of the expert witness solely from his name. "That surname often also turns up in variations similar to Maazel and comes from the Hebrew 'Moshe', which means Moses. Another similar variation is, for example, Maisel," Šlégrová argues in the motion, which Právo has obtained a copy of.

"As a person of Jewish origin, the expert witness is doubtless very sensitive to the question of the Shoah (the Holocaust) and German National Socialism and, like many of his fellow tribal members, has a tendency to overreact. Such oversensitivity can become an inappropriate sensitivity to anything related to this question. That is why it is understandable that the expert sees an anti-Semitic reference to the 'chosen nation', i.e., the Jews, in a speech where the defendant is merely talking about the current establishment, about the government in the broader sense," the motion reads.

"I am no longer amused," Mazel said, "to read on the internet what sort of weapon I should be smashed in the head with, or that I am a stingy Jew who should get a black mamba for Hannukah. I am not of Jewish origin, but the Nazis have no compunction about writing that until the cows come home. It is hard to remain calm when the Nazis start writing where you live and other things on their websites. In time, the pressure would affect my work." "The state should think through whether expert witness work in the area of extremism should continue as it is currently organized," Mazel said. He has worked, among other matters, on the case of the Vítkov arsonists, and his testimony helped dissolve the Workers' Party (Dělnická strana - DS). On the basis of his evaluation, leading members of the DSSS, including party chair Tomáš Vandas, have been given suspended prison sentences.

Miroslav Mareš, another expert witness on right-wing extremism, also stopped performing such work in 2008 for reasons similar to Mazel's, including neo-Nazi threats and fear for his personal safety. When he stepped down, Mareš also criticized the current system for making use of expert witnesses on extremism. Mazel is now resigning with similar feelings.

"I personally believe, in the final analysis, that it would be best not to support the special branch on extremism any more. It leads to not only police officers, but sometimes even judges asking the expert which statements are the 'flawed' ones, which is a kind of alibi for their refusal to think for themselves. What would be correct would be for them to evaluate all of the indications of the crime themselves. They should only ask an expert witness about matters related to the fields of history or political science, or for the meanings of various symbols and their various purposes," Mazel said. He has worked at the Czech Interior Ministry as head of the Security Policy Department, as director of the Division of Analysis, and as Director of Security.
© Romea

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ROMANI WOMAN MURDERED IN PRAGUE, LOCALS ALLEGE PERPETRATORS ARE NAZIS (Czech Rep.)

10/1/2012- Three youths who have recently confessed to murdering a Romani woman in the Prague 3 district of Jarov were not first-time offenders but had previously assaulted a homeless couple not far from a trail that leads from a local housing estate there into a wooded area. Local residents say the youths did not attack homeless people only, but basically anyone they felt like targeting. "All three of them are young guys who have been getting ready to do something like this ever since they were little. It doesn't even really surprise me. The oldest assailant is from a broken home and his mother evidently couldn't manage him. He's done whatever he wanted. Everyone knew they had been in conflicts with the homeless people. A year ago they threw stones at them. One of them is also part of a group that attacked me when my wife and I were out for a walk," a local resident told news server Romea.cz, who did not want his name published out of fear for his safety.

Other homeless people in the area confirmed the frequent assaults, openly describing the attackers as sympathizers of right-wing extremist movements who have been giving the Nazi salute in the streets. Another local resident also confirms that claim. "They attacked me when I was walking my dog. They sit on the benches here. There are always between two to six of them. They drink cheap wine there. I know they sometimes made racist remarks. Once my neighbor and I walked past them and my neighbor was playing music on his mobile phone. They immediately started assaulting us, they even threatened to punch me. I defended myself verbally, as I instruct my students to do. One of them was older and more heavy-set, the others were younger and smaller. I went to elementary school with one of them, they attended the remedial classes. In my opinion they're just stupid Nazi wannabes," the man told Romea.cz.

"Homeless people are classic victims of hate violence. They are assaulted for who they are, for their social status as outsiders. Hate violence against the homeless community is becoming more and more frequent. In many cases such attacks are unusually brutal. The perpetrators are usually 'on a mission', people who consider their attack against homeless people to be not just justifiable, but welcome, performed to benefit society as a whole," Klára Kalibová of the In IUSTITIA organization, which provides legal aid to hate violence victims, told news server Romea.cz. "From a legal point of view, an attack on a homeless person can be perceived as aggravated assault. People living without shelter generally have a very difficult time accessing justice. They don't know what their rights are, they don't trust the justice system or the police, they are afraid the perpetrators will revenge any complaints, they can't afford legal aid. Nevertheless, anyone whose health is harmed as the result of a crime or who suffers either immaterial or material damages can seek justice against the perpetrators," Kalibová said.

Tomáš Hulan, spokesperson for the Prague Police, said the youths explained their attack as the result of a dispute with the homeless people that had gone on for several weeks. Two of the three youths are charged with felony attempted grievous bodily harm and rioting. The third has been charged with committing murder in such a particularly harrowing way that he is the only one to have been remanded into custody. The main perpetrator kicked and punched the woman, mainly in her head, before stabbing her with a knife. If convicted, the murderer could be sent to prison for anywhere between 15 and 20 years, or potentially for life. The other two involved in the incident face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
© Romea

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ROMANI ACTIVIST GETS THREATENING E-MAILS, SWASTIKA GRAFFITI ON FRONT DOOR (Czech Rep.)

10/1/2012- The front door to the apartment building in the Přední Skvrňany neighborhood of Plzeň where Romani activist Ivan Koky lives was spray-painted with a red swastika on Sunday evening. Koky is convinced the incident is related to his activities for the "Amare čhave" organization, which he founded two years ago. The organization aims to support the social integration of Romani people and organizes sports activities for children, among other events. "I have been receiving e-mail threats for six months, but this is too much. I will take action once I get hold of whoever did this. I don't intend to wait for someone to start threatening my children, my family," Koky told the Plzeň edition of deník.cz.

Koky has turned the e-mails, which included racist slurs and threats, over to police. In the messages, the author even threatens to "cut off the heads of gypsies" . Koky received the most recent e-mail in the series last week. "I filed criminal charges with the police and it ended there. The police have not contacted me since. Now I have a swastika on my door," Koky said. Police spokesperson Simona Čejková said police are investigating the case. "Three entrances on Jakub Škarda street were spray-painted. We will not be providing any more information on the case at this time," Čejková said. Koky claims that on Sunday evening the Nazi symbol was on the door to his building only and that someone must have spray-painted the other buildings later. "The swastika turned up on the door on Sunday at around 7:30 in the evening. I had walked past my building a half an hour earlier and the doors were clean," Koky says. He is convinced the graffiti is related to the threatening e-mails he has been receiving.

In those messages, the writer has told Koky that he knows he has complained to police. "I don't know where he got that information, it wasn't published anywhere," Koky says, adding that he does not trust the state security forces. He reportedly does not suspect anyone in particular and makes no secret of the fact that other members of the Romani community have expressed their support for him and will stand by him in the event of future attacks. "If anyone touches my children, I will take action. I am not afraid for myself, but I am afraid for my family," Koky said.

Robert Houdek (ODS), the town councilor responsible for security, does not believe the situation will result in cases similar to those in North Bohemia and the Šluknov district. "We are a different region with a different history," Houdek said. The councilor believes the owner of the building should remove the swastika. "I will look into the case, and if further indications turn up we will press charges through the municipal police," Houdek declared, adding that investigation of the case is a police matter. "It is probably difficult for them to catch someone in the act of spray-painting a Nazi symbol, but an e-mail address should theoretically be traceable," Houdek said.
© Romea

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ITALY: RACISM AND RISK (opinion)

The refusal of Italy's official agencies to acknowledge the extent of racist crime in the country reinforces the damage inflicted on its victims
By Judith Sunderland, senior researcher on western Europe at Human Rights Watch, based in Milan. Author of the HRW report, Everyday Intolerance: Racist and Xenophobic Violence in Italy (March 2011)

13/1/2012- A 50-year-old man with links to the extreme right opens fire on Senegalese street-vendors in Florence, killing two and seriously wounding three others. He then kills himself. An angry mob attacks a Roma camp in Turin after a teenaged girl falsely claims she had been raped by two Roma men. These events, two days apart in mid-December 2011, serve as a stark reminder of increasing intolerance and racism in today’s Italy. In recent years, immigrants, Italians of foreign origin, and Roma have been assaulted, stabbed, shot at, and murdered. These attacks are not isolated incidents but part of a wider pattern of racist violence. Mob violence against Roma in Naples in May 2008 and attacks on African migrant workers in Rosarno, a small town in the southern region of Calabria, in January 2010 made international headlines.

In my own research on the subject earlier in 2011, I spoke with a number of people who had been affected by such violence. The father of Abdoul Guiebre, a young Italian of Burkina Faso origin, was one; Abdoul was beaten to death on a Milan street in September 2008 by the father and son owners of a bar after a petty theft. Marco Beyene, an Italian of Eritrean origin, told me how he was beaten by two men in Naples in March 2009 to shouts of "negro di merda". Mohamed and Mahbub Miah, two brothers from Bangladesh, told me about an attack on their bar in Rome by a group of fifteen to twenty people in March 2010, which injured four people and damaging the property. In many respects this is a local manifestation of a larger problem, for racist violence is growing across Europe. But Italy’s response has been notably weak (see Everyday Intolerance: Racist and Xenophobic Violence in Italy, Human Rights Watch, March 2011).

True, the mayors of Florence and Turin have rightly condemned the recent violence, and Italy's president, Giorgio Napolitano, has called on public authorities and civil society to combat "all forms of intolerance." Yet in general Italian officials have played down racism as a serious issue. At the same time, anti-immigrant and anti-Roma rhetoric has gradually become a staple of political discourse and media reporting, in turn nurturing a wider climate of intolerance. This has been reflected in the political arena too. In 2008, the government then headed by prime minister Silvio Berlusconi (in coalition with the stridently anti-immigrant Northern League) adopted "emergency" decrees to facilitate forceful measures against undocumented migrants and Roma; in 2009 it passed legislation to criminalise entry and settlement in Italy without documents, and tried to impose harsher penalties for crimes committed by undocumented migrants.

The cost of prejudice
This disciplinarian approach, combined with a reluctance at official levels to acknowledge that racism is a growing problem, has damaging consequences. Italy's police, prosecutors and judges lack the specialised training that would help them identify, investigate, and prosecute hate crimes. Italian criminal law does make provision for longer prison sentences where crimes are aggravated by a racist motivation, but the courts often rely on a narrow definition that limits its use to crimes where racism is the sole motive for an attack. Moreover, the failure to identify hate crimes as such, and under-reporting (especially by undocumented migrants, who fear the police), mean that official statistics are low. This gives Italian officials a pretext to claim that racially aggravated violence is rare. The ensuing vicious circle effectively grants impunity for racist crimes.

There has been progress in 2011, especially efforts - supported by the national office against racial discrimination - to combat intolerance and improve the recording of hate crimes. But much more is needed: better training for police, prosecutors and judges; comprehensive data collection; targeted prosecutions; and a clear recognition of the problem across government, and in society. Abdoul Guiebre’s murderers were in the event tried and convicted, but not of a hate crime. His father is convinced that racism was the source. "If my son had had a different colour of skin, they wouldn’t have acted like that. They killed him because he was black. My son is dead, but his mother, his brother and his sisters and I die every day." Violence inspired by racism or xenophobia should be called by its name: to secure justice, to punish those responsible and to prevent further suffering.
© Open Democracy

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TEACHER THREATENS TO COMMIT MASSACRE IN SYNAGOGUE (Italy)

Media outlets report that high school teacher from Torino posted picture of Mussolini, Hitler on Facebook, wrote: 'If you dare remove picture, I will go to a synagogue and shoot some parasite Jews'

8/1/2012- Italian media outlets reported over the weekend that a teacher from the northern city of Torino has posted a message on his Facebook page threatening to commit a massacre in a local synagogue. According to reports, Renato Pallavidini, 55, who was convicted of Holocaust denial four years ago, is registered as a high school teacher in Torino, but has been on a sick leave recently. In the end of December, the high school teacher posted on Facebook a picture of Mussolini shaking the hand of Hitler, and wrote a message saying: "Take a look, you dirty bastard Jews who control us from the land of shit and homosexuals called California. If you remove this picture, I will go to the synagogue next to my house, with my pistol, and gun down some parasite Jews." The page was promptly removed, and Italian authorities have turned to the social network in an effort to retrieve the original statement as part of the investigation. In an interview with La Republica, Pallavidini tried to defend his actions, saying: "Why do I need to explain what I write on Facebook? Since the Jewish communities attacked me, my attitude toward them has changed." Later, the Italian news agency reported that Pallavidini was summoned for questioning and his house had been searched by police. In addition, the principle of the school where Pallavidini teaches announced that he will no longer be employed at the institution.
© Ynet News

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RACIST GRAFFITI CONCERN FOR POLICE AND LOCALS (uk)

13/1/2012- A series of racist insults and celebrations of far-right political parties were found strewn across buildings in Aldershot last week. The offensive graffiti, brazened across the buildings in bright red spray paint, included references to the National Front (NF), The British National Party (BNP) and the English Defence League (EDL), three groups renowned for their right-wing policies. Using words such as ‘maggots’ and a derogatory term for East Asians, the vandals defaced toilet blocks, homes and numerous commercial properties during the rampage. Offensive swear words as well as instructions to ‘go home’, were also daubed across the buildings. The graffiti was spotted on Friday of last week by police who were on patrol in Aldershot at around 4.45am.
© Get Hampshire

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RACE HATE CAMPAIGN ENDED WITH ARSON ATTACK (uk)

12/1/2012- An arson attack which burned down a youth project was the culmination of a prolonged racist campaign of violence, the owner has claimed. It is the second time arsonists have targeted the Hope Project in St Agnes, Cornwall, in 18 months. Owner Samuel Farmer, 47, said he has been subjected to intensifying verbal and physical abuse over more than five years, ending in his property being burned down. Mr Farmer said his life has been endangered by "racist" attackers who have shouted abuse and thrown rocks at him and his young daughter, and spat on the family. He believes racists were also responsible for the earlier arson attack on the project, as well as a brutal attack on a horse, which lost an eye as a result, he said. Both Mr Farmer and his partner are mixed race, and plan to bring disadvantaged young people to the Beacon, St Agnes. The stunning location boasts a range of landscape protections, including a World Heritage Site classification.

Mr Farmer, originally from Liverpool, claimed police have done "nothing" to protect him, or to investigate, and said he has called dozens of times with complaints of racism. Police say all crimes are investigated thoroughly, and say only four complaints from Mr Farmer are on file. "I have called the police about 40 times because of racial harassment," Mr Farmer said. "Racists have tried to run me over and they have chased me down the lane and spat on me. Police have repeatedly refused to take my statement. They say I have no evidence." Mr Farmer said allegations of threatening behaviour have been made against him in the past, but have been proved unfounded. Investigating officer DC Chris Panther confirmed Sunday morning's fire had been classified as racially aggravated, which means longer sentencing powers are available. But he said all crimes were investigated equally, "as thoroughly as possible". He said any calls logged would have been investigated. "We don't just sweep things like that under the carpet," he said.

DC Panther said fire investigators had confirmed the attack was arson. He said: "I don't know whether it's because someone doesn't like Mr Farmer or it's because of the colour of his skin, but I'll be following any leads and examining the evidence." Devon and Cornwall Police's diversity officer, Toby Best, has been appointed to offer support. Mr Farmer welcomed the racist classification of the crime, saying: "If I die as a result of this abuse, at least people will know why." He bought the site, which contains a single-storey stable building, an annexe and a caravan, 12 years ago, for £25,000. He wants to offer respite holidays to "urban" children, including those from Camborne, Redruth and Truro, and provide opportunities for arts and rural pursuits such as surfing and pony and llama treks. Mr Farmer, an experienced mountain guide, would work with his partner, Carla Wishart, a special educational needs teacher.

Mr Farmer believes the combination of support and beautiful scenery would help children open up. But he said the project had continually been thwarted by vandalism, and said: "People say they don't want these damaged kids on top of the Beacon, but they would never be left unattended. "They just need therapeutic space to open up." Paul Green, team leader of social inclusion at Cornwall Rural Community Council, said the Hope Project had "great potential", because of the "passion" of Mr Farmer and his partner, even despite the difficult funding climate. But Mr Farmer said: "We're scared that if we build this back up it'll be burned down again. We know it will be." Mr Farmer, who is currently volunteering with black and minority ethnic organisation Unity Cornwall, is unsure how he could fund a rebuild. "I've just lost £70,000 with all the kit that was burned down too, and I'm on £40 a week," he said, adding that the building was uninsured because of the high premiums resulting from the previous fire.

Mr Farmer said his partner had suffered panic attacks as a result of the incident, and that the pair were now considering leaving Cornwall. But he called on those who welcome diversity in Cornwall to voice their support. "I don't have a problem with Cornish people at all, but the racist element are making themselves very prominent to me," he said. "Under this Stephen Lawrence cloud it's time for good people to stand up for good things." Unity Cornwall director Victor Downer called on police to act, saying: "I believe that the attack was racially motivated. This is the second time it has happened in the last 18 months and the police now need to be thorough in investigating further. "Mr Farmer regularly visits the land. He could have been camping there or been in the caravan – the arsonist wouldn't have known. His life could have been in danger." It is not the first time a building is alleged to have been targeted on racist grounds in Cornwall. In 2008, a pig's head was mounted on a cross outside Quenchwell Chapel, Truro, which was about to be turned into a Muslim centre.
© This is Devon

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MUSLIM MEN ACCUSED OF HATE CRIME OVER ANTI-GAY LEAFLET (uk)

Five men go on trial over leaflet calling for gay people to face death penalty in first prosecution of its kind under new law

10/1/2012- Five Muslim men from Derby have gone on trial for allegedly handing out leaflets calling for gay people to be killed in the first ever prosecution under new legislation making such actions a hate crime. The men, Ihjaz Ali, 42, Mehboob Hussain, 45, Umar Javed, 38, Razwan Javed, 27, and Kabir Ahmed, 28, are accused of handing out to passersby and posting through letterboxes a leaflet calling for gay people to be given the death penalty, and stating that gay sex is a great sin that leads to hell. They are accused of stirring up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation, the first prosecution under new legislation which came into force in March 2010. They deny the charges. A jury at Derby crown court heard that the five men had handed out a leaflet entitled The Death Penalty? outside and near the Jamia mosque in Rosehill Street, Derby, in July 2010, as well as putting it through nearby letterboxes. The pamphlet showed an image of a mannequin hanging from a noose. The leaflet was one of several that the men were distributing, but the charges relate only to one called The Death Penalty? the jury heard.

Bobbie Cheema, opening the case for the prosecution, said: "The leaflets you will see are not educational or simply informative. They are, we suggest, threatening, offensive, frightening and nasty." A fourth leaflet, entitled Dead Derby, had been found but not distributed, she told the court. It described homosexuality as a "vile, ugly, cancerous disease" and stated: "Gay today, paedophile tomorrow?" "A word of warning," she told the jury of seven men and five women. "This case is not about, and we must not make it about, an interference with the defendants' freedom of religion or freedom to express their religious views in an attempt to educate or inform people. "The vast majority of Muslim, and indeed other religious people, or people with no religion but who have strong views about homosexuality, are able to express their views if they wish in a critical but lawful, moderate and self-controlled way. That's one of the rights we have."

Ali, of Fairfax Road, Derby, faces four counts while Hussain, of Rosehill Street, Normanton, and Umar Javed, of Whittaker Street, Derby, are charged with two counts each. Razwan Javed, of Wilfred Street, Derby, and Kabir Ahmed, of Madeley Street, Derby, are charged with one count each. The Crown says Ali was charged with four counts because he was the person responsible for the distribution of the leaflets. Each of the five men admits distributing the leaflets, but Cheema said they would probably put forward various lines of defence. In police interviews, she told the court, Ahmed had said he did not feel that the views expressed in The Death Penalty? leaflet – which suggested three different ways to murder gay people – were wrong and simply expressed what Islam says about homosexuality, adding that it was his duty as a Muslim to condemn it. Razwan Javed, Cheema said, had also admitted distributing the leaflets but said it was only to raise awareness about what Islam says about homosexuality and not to frighten or threaten anyone.

Cheema said Ali had approached police a few weeks before a planned Gay Pride parade in Derby to discuss a counter-protest by members of the Muslim community, and was advised that any placards, flyers or speeches that were made should be carefully worded to avoid committing a criminal offence. He had shown police an A4 page of slogans intended for use on placards with some crossed out by his solicitor and asked police to check out the remaining ones, she said. Cheema said they contained slogans such as: "Stay gay and you will pay," and "Adam and Eve, not Steve". His request for permission for a counter-protest was eventually refused because he had not applied to the council with enough time before the parade. "You will have to assess quite how much Mr Ali wanted to carry out a lawful and legal protest and quite how much of what he wanted was a shield he could hide behind from the consequences of what he really hoped to achieve," she said. The trial continues.
© The Guardian

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RACE IN BRITAIN 2012: HAS LIFE CHANGED FOR ETHNIC MINORITIES?

Some things have improved for the black and Asian communities since the murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993, but Britain still has a long way to go before it can call itself a colour-blind country
By Jane Merrick, Brian Brady, Kate Youde

8/1/2012- Last week, as Gary Dobson and David Norris's 19-year escape from justice finally came to an end, the distraught parents of another young ethnic minority man visited the scene of their son's death. Anuj Bidve, a 23-year-old Lancaster University student who was shot dead on Boxing Day, was killed for the apparent crime of not being white. Nearly two decades after the murder of Stephen Lawrence, has anything changed? And what is life really like for young black and ethnic minority people in Britain today?

In the high-visibility worlds of the establishment, entertainment and sport, there are signs of progress: there are more than four times as many black and ethnic minority MPs in Parliament as there were in 1993. A Muslim woman takes her seat at the cabinet table every Tuesday. An African-born man is in charge of a FTSE 100 company. Black and Asian actors regularly take leading roles in prime-time TV series. The population has changed since 1993: then ethnic minorities accounted for 5.1 per cent in England and Wales; the latest figure is 8.7 per cent. Some would argue that the major dividing line in Britain today is not race but class, and that Stephen's killing captured the nation's interest only because he was from a "nice" middle-class family and had aspirations to be an architect.

But the statistics for ethnic minorities are bleak: black men are 26 times more likely than their white counterparts to be stopped and searched by police, while black men and women in their early twenties are twice as likely to be not in employment, education or training as white people. And black and Asian defendants are still more likely to go to jail than their white counterparts when convicted of similar crimes – and they serve longer sentences. A Ministry of Justice (MoJ) analysis of tens of thousands of cases found that in 2010, 23 per cent of white defendants were sent to prison for indictable offences, compared with 27 per cent of black counterparts and 29 per cent of Asian defendants.

The report, Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System, also found that ethnic minority defendants received longer sentences in almost every offence group. For sexual offences, white defendants received an average of just over four years in jail, but black defendants were sent down for more than five years. For violence against the person, the average breakdown was 16.8 months for whites, 20 months for blacks and almost two years for Asian defendants. The MoJ insisted that "the identification of differences should not be equated with discrimination", claiming that the disparities between ethnic groups could be explained by the seriousness of the offences, the presence of mitigating or aggravating factors and whether or not a defendant pleaded guilty. Yet Lee Jasper, chairman of the London Race and Criminal Justice Consortium, said: "Nothing can so starkly illustrate the industrial scale of racism in the judicial process than these figures."

Last summer's riots paradoxically suggested something in society has changed for the better. The ingredients for widespread inter-racial violence were there, but it never materialised. However, Gurbux Singh, who was chair of the Commission for Racial Equality when Oldham and Bradford were torn by race riots in 2001, warned yesterday: "With the recession taking hold, when you have disaffected young people who feel they are right at the bottom competing with another community, I am fearful that the tensions can easily arise again."

In March 1993, a month before Stephen's murder, Stoke City player Mark Stein was called a "short, ugly, black, bean-headed twat" by an opponent on the football pitch. On Friday, Tom Adeyemi, the 20-year-old Oldham defender, was left in tears after alleged racist abuse was hurled at him from Liverpool's Kop. A 20 year-old man from Aintree was arrested last night in relation to the incident. Last Tuesday, despite a plea from Stephen's mother Doreen not to rejoice, there appeared to be collective back-patting when Norris and Dobson were found guilty, as if the verdicts had cleansed Britain of racism.

Yet reminders of racial hatred were never far away. Yesterday, Subhash and Yogini Bidve, having flown to Salford to visit the scene of his kiling, were back in Pune for his cremation. Mourners watched a flower-filled open coffin carried through the streets. There is nothing that can comfort them in their loss. But perhaps the prominent coverage of Anuj's death, and the impact the Lawrence trial has had, show that one thing has changed for the better since 1993, and that is ultimately because of one young man from Eltham: our public horror at racism has increased.

Case studies...
Meet two friends who live in Eltham, south London, where Stephen Lawrence died. They share the same hopes. But the national figures suggest the prospects for any black person are much less favourable than for someone who is white... Mimi Olaide, 19, lives in Eltham with his sister, Christana, 22, mother, a mental health nurse, and father, who can't work for health reasons. They rent from a housing association. They moved there in 2010. Mimi is in his second year studying sports science and PE at St Mary's University College in Twickenham. "I want to be a PE teacher. Whatever grade I get in the third year will determine what I do. I want to go on and do a PGCE [Postgraduate Certificate in Education] or GTP [Graduate Teaching Programme] and you need a minimum of a 2.1. Have I been affected by racism? Not me directly, I don't think so. There's maybe just local gang rivalry, but that's non-racial. Eltham used to be really racist. Obviously I was at uni last week, people were asking how Eltham is, because they know Stephen Lawrence was killed there. There are lots of multicultural people around now, compared to how Eltham used to be. It's not as racist now as people say it was then."

Luke Kimberley, 21, has always lived in Eltham. He lives with his mother, who works in student finance at South Bank University, father, a taxi driver, and sister Elle, 18. He is in his third year studying PE at St Mary's University College in Twickenham "I want to be a PE teacher. If I want to go into that I'll have to do a PGCE. That's really my main ambition at the moment. Buying a house, that's my main goal, a normal lifestyle really, nothing extravagant. Mum and Dad own a house and I'd like to follow in their footsteps. Mimi plays in the same football team as me at uni. We don't meet up when we come back here, only at uni. Racism is quite a talking point at the moment. I have a range of friends from different ethnic backgrounds. As far as I know they haven't experienced any racism. Probably there is racism in Eltham, but not as much as everyone makes out there is. Obviously the attack on Stephen Lawrence was a racist one, but I don't think Eltham in itself is racist."

Crime
Crime continues to be one of the most controversial sources of racial tension between the police and local communities. Disproportionate use of stop and search remains widespread – with a massive difference in how different ethnic groups are treated. Black men are 26 times more likely than their white counterparts to be stopped and searched under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act. Black people also have a higher chance of being arrested and imprisoned than their white counterparts. They even face stiffer sentences for the same crimes – black offenders are 44 per cent more likely to be given a prison sentence for driving offences.

Serious inequalities remain within the police, with the Met having almost no senior ethnic minority officers above the rank of superintendent. The ongoing tensions in communities were highlighted when the shooting by police of a young black man in Tottenham sparked last summer's riots. Millions of Britons are denied justice by the persistence of racism, Lord Macdonald, former Director of Public Prosecutions, said last Friday. Describing racism as a "tubercular virus lurking in the shadows" he added: "We should not deny those millions of people for whom the comfort of social justice is still not constantly there, those people who still live, through no choice of their own, outside its embrace and protection."

The disproportionate number of black people stopped and searched by the police continues to be a "national scandal", said Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, last week.

Dr Aisha K Gill
Reader in criminology, University of Roehampton
"There is strong evidence that black people are over-represented throughout the criminal justice process. In the last two decades we have seen a punitive trend in criminal justice policy, and the changes in police practice that accompany it have negative consequences for BME communities. Indeed the growth in the expansion of proactive policing and in police and prosecutorial powers have disproportionately affected BME communities."

Education
The Prime Minister rattled Oxford University last year when he described its low intake of black students as "disgraceful". He was wrong to claim it only accepted one black student in 2009 – it actually took one "black Caribbean" person out of a total of 27 black students for undergraduate study that year. Nevertheless, everyone seemed to agree with his assertion: "We have got to do better than that." In fact, there is no shortage of ethnic minority undergraduates: nearly one in five in 2010, an increase of almost a third since 1994. But look at the number of ethnic minorities at "good" universities and a different picture emerges. According to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, fewer than 10 per cent of black students are at Russell Group universities, compared to a quarter of white students. Head teachers in England's schools are also overwhelmingly white – some 95 per cent in 2010, with less than 1 per cent from black Caribbean or African backgrounds.

But when it comes to pupils achieving five GCSEs above grade C, progress has been made. The best school performers in 2010 were the Chinese, with 90 per cent getting these grades. Asians were next, followed by mixed-race pupils. Almost two-thirds of black students got the grades, only 1 percentage point behind their white contemporaries. But black Caribbean boys continue to lag.

Tony Sewell
Chair of the London inquiry into schools and founder of the charity Generating Genius
"During the 1990s, I used to teach Doreen Lawrence [Stephen's mother] at an adults' college in Woolwich. Then, education was thought to be how you got a better life. The stumbling block now is aspiration. This is not a problem of race, but of class and caste. There has been a long period of anti-racism education, but I am not convinced it's had much impact on black children. The fastest improving group is Nigerian girls; two groups standing still are black Caribbean boys and working-class white boys."

Jobs
In 1993, the British economy was emerging from the end of a recession that hit most of the population, but the ethnic communities were still suffering disproportionate levels of unemployment. A TUC survey in that year estimated that, while the jobless rate had risen to nearly 12 per cent for whites, the figure for black people was twice that number. A period of growth improved employment and narrowed the gap between ethnic groups – although the latest 13.3 per cent unemployment rate among non-whites is still almost double the figure recorded for whites. A new recession has triggered fresh concerns that any progress could be reversed: for example, council cutbacks are likely to have a disproportionate impact on the high numbers of black and minority ethnic (BME) workers at local authorities. Activists have complained that groups have been lagging behind in crucial areas of the labour market even during the boom years.

Black people in their early twenties are twice as likely to be not in employment, education or training (Neet) as white people; although 14 per cent of the working-age population in England are from ethnic minorities, only 7 per cent of apprenticeships were filled by BME candidates. BME workers, even many graduates, are generally paid less than white counterparts. Rates of self-employment among black workers are significantly lower than the national average. For some, this is compelling evidence of institutionalised racism in the labour market. But others point to an equally troubling development: self-imposed limits on aspirations.

Jeremy Crook OBE
Director, Black Training and Enterprise Group
"Things are still pretty bad in the labour market. Young black people in particular have a negative portrayal which damages their chances of getting jobs – and, I think, their own expectations. We were involved in the Reach programme two years ago, which gave young BME people role models, and the feedback we had was that coming into contact with black people in the professions and other areas raised their aspirations. "But it is still hard for them to succeed when they are not getting a fair chance from employers, from training schemes or from banks that are not lending enough to black-run businesses."

Media
The media are rarely shy to shout out "racism", and rightly so, but it wasn't until Greg Dyke called the BBC "hideously white" more than 10 years ago that pundits began to look inwards. In 1996, less than 5 per cent of staff in Carlton TV newsrooms was from minority ethnic backgrounds; by 2010, the number of ethnic minorities at ITV was 10 per cent – higher than the 7.9 per cent UK average. BBC and Channel 4 have a 12 and 13 per cent minority ethnic workforce respectively, but this drops to 6 per cent in BBC senior management. Just over 5 per cent of adverts in 2010 used actors from a non-white background, while ethnic minorities represent about 13 per cent of the population. In 2002, the Journalism Forum found that 96 per cent of journalists were white. Ethnic minorities are chronically underrepresented in national newspapers. The IoS has a small staff, of whom two come from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy
Channel 4 News presenter
"TV has changed massively in 18 years, in terms of diversity. Portrayal is also much better than when I was a kid, but in many ways things haven't changed. After a couple of decades of very well-intended initiatives, we have failed to deliver people from diverse backgrounds at the top. There are reasonable numbers of middle-class people from Indian origin, like me [in broadcasting], but it's much harder to encourage working-class Bangladeshis, or African Caribbeans, or Chinese. It's straightforward what we need: ways to benchmark success and sanctions when you don't achieve the diversity you want to."

Parliament
When Diane Abbott provoked a storm on Twitter over her "white people love playing divide and rule" comment last week, we were reminded that she was the first female black MP in the House of Commons, elected in 1987. At the time of Stephen Lawrence's death in 1993, she was one of just six ethnic minority MPs in Westminster. This has increased more than four-fold to 28; the most recent addition was Labour's Seema Malhotra when she won Feltham and Heston by-election last month. There are 17 Labour MPs and 11 Conservatives – but not a single ethnic minority candidate has won a seat for the Lib Dems at a general election. Only Parmjit Singh Gill, who won the Leicester South by-election in 2004 only to lose it at the 2005 election, has represented the third party in the Commons. In government, the numbers are bleaker: in 2002, Paul Boateng made history by becoming the first black cabinet minister. But progress has stalled. The only ethnic minority person with a seat at the cabinet table is Baroness Warsi, despite David Cameron's promise to make his party more reflective of British society.

David Lammy
Labour MP for Tottenham
"On the face of it, Parliament is changing. But we should not rejoice just yet. We live in a age of dangerous political apathy. The fact that Parliament looks and sounds completely different from the modern Britain it is supposed to represent is a further obstacle. Does British politics feel any more relevant to the black man in Moss Side, the Muslim lady from Sparkbrook or the Turkish family in Dalston today than it did in 1993? Sadly, the answer is no."

Legal
Despite claims of strenuous attempts at change from within, the upper echelons of the legal profession remain predominantly white. To a degree, the stereotype that judges are white, male, privately educated and from the Home Counties is often not far from the mark. Things are improving, but at a very slow pace. In 1998, 1.6 per cent of the judiciary was not white; now that figure is nearly 5 per cent. The first non-white High Court judge, Justice Linda Dobbs, was not appointed until 2004. She had said: "While this appointment might be seen as casting me into the role of standard bearer, I am simply a practitioner following a career path. I am confident, nevertheless, that I am the first of many to come." But since then, only one more person from an ethnic minority background has been brought into the senior judiciary. Among solicitors and barristers the picture is slightly more optimistic. Where once you would have struggled to find a black or Asian face in a wig and gown, now about one in 10 barristers are from an ethnic minority.

Courtenay Griffiths
Barrister
"When you go into a court like the Old Bailey on any one day, some 90 per cent of the defendants will be black, and yet you'll find it hard to find a black face prosecuting. I think it's a shame that we have only two non-white judges and not enough women. But one has to realise that it takes 20 to 25 years to grow a judge. The vast majority of black and ethnic minority entrants to the bar have just not spent enough time within the profession to reach this position, so no amount of pushing will achieve that until we have a cadre of black lawyers that reach that level."

Regions
Local and national campaigns have tried to push up educational opportunities and job prospects for black and minority ethnic communities around the country. As a result, the proportion of BME councillors in town halls in the UK is inching up slowly after years of stagnation at a low level. Attitudes have changed, but progress has been mixed. Reports of racist incidents have soared over the past two decades, from around 11,000 nationwide in 1993-94 to more than 51,000 last year. The increase is, to some extent, explained by a greater willingness to report incidents – and an obligation on the police to record them as crimes. But underlying tensions still have the potential to explode into violence – from isolated race attacks to the "race riots" in the north, centring in Oldham, Burnley and Bradford, in 2001. Investigations into the flare-ups identified widespread poverty and segregation as long-term causes of the disturbances.

Gurbux Singh
Former chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality
"When I was growing up in Wolverhampton in the 1960s, discrimination was very much in your face. But the Stephen Lawrence affair and the Macpherson report changed attitudes to race across the country. Things are better now. But situations like the 2001 riots showed that, in particular places in particular circumstances, there is the potential for tensions and violence. When you have disaffected young people who feel they are right at the bottom competing with another community, I am fearful that the tensions can easily arise again."

City
The upper echelons of the City remain dominated by white, middle-aged, comfortably padded men. However, just over two years ago, the first black person took charge of a FTSE 100 company. Born in the Ivory Coast, Tidjane Thiam is the man who finally broke through the glass ceiling. He is still chief executive at the Prudential, but is an unwilling standard-bearer, frustrated that his race attracts as much commentary as his abilities. But he is still one of the few senior black business figures. The difficulties for black people in business were highlighted by Nick Clegg in November. He pointed out that more than a third of people of black African origin are shown to have wanted to start businesses but suggested the reason only a handful do is due to outdated lending policies. "Unleashing black and ethnic minority talent is the banks' duty, too." Waseem Shakoor, a consultant, thinks there is an "elite club" of directors who look after each other. This does not mean they are racist, he says, but that it is hard for outsiders to make a breakthrough.

Zafar Khan
Managing director and head of aerospace & defence equity research at Société Générale in London
"In my first City interview in 1985, I sat before a panel of four men. I got the job, but I later found out that one of the older interviewers had said to a younger one: 'How would our clients relate to this man's face?' He replied: 'Maybe you haven't seen the faces of some of our clients recently: they're more likely to relate to him.' US banks, oblivious to colour, and the Japanese coming to the UK made the City more meritocratic. Today, there are Asian people in senior positions. But, in my view, the black population is still under-represented."

Sport
Black athletes outside football see relatively little racism, but Britain's biggest sporting money-spinner is another matter altogether. Just months after Stephen Lawrence was killed, a campaign to kick racism out of football was launched with some fanfare. At that time, black players were routinely abused or spat upon by "fans". The increasing number of black players in the game, along with action by clubs and anti-racist groups, have combined to drive out the public racism that used to characterise football. But a series of recent incidents, most notably the suspension of Liverpool player Luis Suarez for racist behaviour to Man Utd's Patrice Evra, and the decision to prosecute England captain John Terry for alleged racism towards West Ham's Anton Ferdinand, highlights how racism remains under the surface. And while black players are a common sight on the pitch, there are hardly any black faces to be seen in club boardrooms – with just two black managers in the entire football league.

Social networking sites are now being used by racist fans. Northumbria Police yesterday began an investigation after ex-Premier League star and football pundit Stan Collymore was allegedly the victim of racist abuse on Twitter. It is believed the tweets in question were sent by someone in the Tyneside area. A 21-year-old has been arrested in connection with the matter. Some 18 years after the launch of Let's Kick Racism Out of Football, the issue is put in context by news that Oldham player Tom Adeyemi was reduced to tears this weekend by racist abuse from fans during an FA Cup game away at Liverpool.

Lord Ouseley
Chairman of Kick It Out and former head of the CRE
"Going to watch football in the early 1990s was an unpleasant experience. You had to be very careful. If you weren't with people who would look after you and weren't in parts of the ground where it was safe to go, you just wouldn't go. At that time black footballers active in football, like John Fashanu, would say their families would stop going because the abuse was so extensive – being spat at, booed, all sorts of unbelievable behaviour... There have been huge strides forward since then, and the nastiness and the worst excesses of both abuse and violence have to a large extent gone."

Entertainment
On the face of it, the entertainment industry appears to be an area where there has been progress in racial equality. From singers such as Rihanna and Dizzee Rascal to award-winning film and TV stars like Dev Patel and Sophie Okonedo, our screens seem less whitewashed than two decades ago. But while more than half of last year's top-20 music artists were not white, most of the people managing them still are. Some of our most talented actors still feel they need to move abroad to find fulfilling roles. Actors such as Idris Elba – best known for Luther and The Wire – have decamped to the US after finding the parts he was offered in the UK were too few and too one-dimensional. David Harewood, star of Blood Diamond who was made an MBE in the latest honours list, said in a recent interview that he was "slightly conflicted" about winning the award: "Although it is a great honour, I still feel there is a hell of a lot of work to be done here... Looking at the TV schedules over Christmas, I did not see many black faces in dramas."

Non-white actors – on stage and in film and TV – still struggle. Just 0.7 per cent of members of Equity describe themselves as "Black Caribbean", 0.4 per cent as Indian, 0.1 per cent as Pakistani and none as Bangladeshi. While a quarter of London's workers are from an ethnic minority background, only 7 per cent of those who work in the capital's film industry are. The figure was 3 per cent 30 years ago, and the broadcasting union Bectu says it will take 120 years at the current rate for it to reflect the demographics of the London workforce.

Jazzie B
Founder of Soul II Soul, music producer and entrepreneur
"In 1987 I only saw one black person in the music industry on the other of the fence. She was called Sandra Scott and worked for Virgin 10 records. We're still friends. Now I've met a few black managers and black people working in the background, but I've yet to see one of them sign a cheque. On television, I actually think it's weird that there's no programming on any station that truly represents us in a positive light. Everyone thinks it's all great, but I don't know if there are any black people working in commissioning. We should be light years ahead of this now."
© The Independent

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POLICE INVESTIGATE LIVERPOOL FC AFTER BLACK FOOTBALL STAR BREAKS DOWN IN TEARS DUE TO 'RACIST ABUSE FROM CROWD' (uk)

Witnesses claim the Tom Adeyemi was called 'a f****** black b******'; Man, 21, held over race abuse of Stan Collymore on Twitter

7/1/2012- A 20-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence after a young soccer star was so badly abused by the crowd in an FA Cup match that he broke down in tears. Oldham defender Tom Adeyemi became upset after becoming the target of a section of the crowd at the famous Kop end at Anfield during Liverpool's tie with Oldham. Police are investigating after fans allegedly called the youngster 'a f****** black b******' during their team's 5-1 victory over their lower league opposition. It is understood that Adeyemi, 20, has given a statement to police in which he claimed he was the victim of a racist attack. The event will undoubtedly mar the club's reputation following the recent suspension handed out to striker Luis Suarez for racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra. And football is still reeling from the fact that England captain John Terry, meanwhile, is to face trial accused of racially abusing Queens Park Rangers' defender Anton Ferdinand during Chelsea's defeat at Loftus Road earlier in the season. Race is also high on the political agenda, with this week seeing the jailing of two thugs, Gary Dobson and David Norris, for the murder of young black teenager Stephen Lawrence in 1993 in Eltham, South-East London.

It was near the end of the FA Cup 3rd round match at Anfield that last night's ugly incident took place. Abuse seemed to emanate from the famous Kop end of the ground where, according to witnesses, fans were seen wearing Luis Suárez T-shirts and brandishing scarves bearing the player's name. Adeyemi turned to confront his abuser, becoming visibly upset. Players from both sides intervened with Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard and striker Dirk Kuyt among those attempting to reassure the Oldham player. As players from both teams tried to calm down Adeyemi, fans in Liverpool's stands then began singing the name of Suárez, upsetting the young player even more. He appeared to be in tears as he lifted his shirt to wipe his face. A witness who gave evidence to Liverpool officials and the police was quoted by the Guardian as saying: 'I was to the right of the Kop and the No11 turned to walk away after a tackle. 'I heard a single voice shout, "You f****** black *******." He spun round with shock on his face and started pointing at the crowd, from where the shout had come.'

Liverpool today said it had passed on CCTV footage, photographs and statements from stewards to the police as well as giving officers access to video filmed for its in-house TV channel. A statement said: 'Liverpool Football Club continue to work closely with Merseyside Police to establish all the facts surrounding the incident that occurred during last night's game. 'We take this matter extremely seriously and have today provided the police with the evidence we currently have available to us. 'In addition, we have examined records of the tickets purchased in that part of the ground to see if they provide any additional information and have passed that on to the police. 'Finally, we would also urge any of our supporters who witnessed this incident or saw the individual involved and who have not already done so, to contact either the club or the police.' Local police have released a statement, adding: ‘Merseyside Police can confirm that no one has been arrested this evening (Friday, 6 January) on suspicion of racially aggravated behaviour during tonight's FA Cup fixture at Anfield. ‘However, the Force and Liverpool Football Club are investigating following an incident that occurred during the second half of the game.

‘The aim of the investigation is to establish the full circumstances surrounding the incident to ascertain if any action needs to be taken.’ Today football fans around the world were expressing their disgust with the events at the match on Twitter. Sai Adithya wrote: 'The way the #LFC fans started singing Luis Suarez after abusing Adeyemi is plain disgraceful!' Meanwhile, Paul Dunn was able to turn the abuse into a dark joke that reflected the bad feelings over Liverpool's handling of the case involving Suarez. He wrote: 'Liverpool FC officials are desperate to identify the fans who racially abused Tom Adeyemi, so they know which names to print on the t-shirts.' Others took the abuse, coming so soon after the Suarez scandal, as evidence that Liverpool was a 'racist football team'. South African football fan Kabelo MKhonto wrote: 'Liverpool is a racist football team fi[r]st they abused Patrice Evra now Tom Adeyemi who was visibly upset and tearful...' And back in the UK Patrick McCafferty from Doncaster tweeted: 'Shocking abuse aimed at Tom Adeyemi last night. LFC should be embarrassed and ashamed. Racists WILL WALK ALONE. Horrible club and fans.'

Oldham manager Paul Dickov said he had not spoken to the player about the incident, but accepted something had upset him. 'From my point of view I have not spoken to Tom about it but I know the kid and something has been said,' he said. The Scot continued: 'He is a placid boy, a kid who has been well-educated with a fantastic temperament and has been with us since the end of August and I've never seen him raise his voice. 'For him to react like that it is obvious something has been said but what has been said I don't know because I've not had a chance [to ask] - I was too busy praising my players. 'He is fine now. He has calmed down. He is a laid-back kid who just gets on with business. 'Our players went and calmed him down and the Liverpool players did as well, which was fantastic and is why they are top professionals. 'I have been told the police are investigating it but that is all I know.' Born and raised in Norwich, Adeyemi is on loan to Oldham Athletic from Norwich City, who he signed for in 2008, aged 17. He made his debut for Norwich in 2009, and in 2010 was named Championship Manager Apprentice Of The Year at the Football League Awards. All eyes will be on the reaction of Liverpool, especially after the Suarez saga.

The Uruguayan was accused of calling the French international 'negrita' - literally translated as 'black' more than ten times during their 1-1 draw at Anfield. He has since been banned for eight weeks and eventually apologised, but did not say sorry to the player himself. Distastefully, Liverpool players showed solidarity for their team-mate by wearing Luis Suarez T-shirts after he was charged. Racism is high on the political and social agenda at the moment after Labour MP Diane Abbott found herself enmired in a race row over comments on Twitter suggesting white people like to play 'divide and rule', apparently referring to colonialism. Criticism of the Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP deepened after she yesterday suggested that taxi drivers were racist and would not stop for black people.
© The Daily Mail

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Hate crime in Cambridge has seen a steady increase amid fears as much as 95 per cent of it is left unreported.

7/1/2012- While the most recent figures show a slip in the number of crimes from 122 in 2008-09 to 115 in 2009-10, there has been a rise from 108 in 2005-06. Crimes against gender, race, faith, sexuality or disability are all categorised as hate crimes by the police. The figures also show the city has the second highest number of crimes in the county behind Peterborough. Of the 115 hate crimes, 100 were categorised as ‘race’, nine as ‘homophobic’, three as ‘faith’, two as ‘gender - transphobic’ and one as ‘other’ sexual orientation discrimination. But the main concern surrounding the figures is that as many as 95 per cent of the crimes could be kept from the police. Molly Blackburn works with Open Out, a Cambridgeshire group which works with the police and other organisations to offer support and advice to victims and witnesses of hate crime. She said it would be hard to say exactly how much unreported hate crime there is. “There is a massive issue of people not reporting crimes, especially with people with disabilities. There is not the awareness that these things that happen are hate crimes,” she said, “They can be victims of anti-social behaviour and verbal abuse - if it is targeted at their disability, it is a hate crime. “We try and help victims access the criminal justice system or help them sort out the problems outside the system.” Ms Blackburn cited the 2007 case of Fiona Pilkington, who killed herself and her disabled daughter after suffering years of abuse from local teenagers, as an example of how hate crime can sometimes go unnoticed.
© Cambridge First

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Headlines 6 January, 2012

FRENCH EXTREMIST SENT TO PRISON FOR DESECRATING MUSLIMS GRAVES

5/1/2012- a former French military man for desecrating Muslim graves in the southwestern city of Castres, French media sources reported late Wednesday. The sources noted that the Frenchman, who is also a member in the National Front of the Far-Right extremist group, was sentenced into three years in prison with suspension and a fine, EUR 1000, for the families of the Muslim individuals, whose graves were desecrated by the convict. In January 2011, the former military man placed three pieces of pigskin on three graves in the Muslim graveyard in Castres, added sources. He described his act as a resistance to the "Arabic and Islamic invasion to France". According to Islamic organizations in France, attempted attacks against Islamic existence in France has increased by 34 percent last year. Last week, Muslim graves in southern France were vandalized for the second time in three months.
© Kuwait News Agency

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DOCTOR: 'RACIST ABUSE IS DRIVING ME OUT OF IRELAND'

A Pakistani doctor recruited by the HSE says he is considering leaving Ireland after suffering racist abuse in a nightclub.

4/1/2012- Dr Syed Kamran Haider Bukhari has spoken out about his hurt and distress after being kicked and punched in a nightclub by a female reveller who later branded him a 'n*****'. Dr Bukhari -- one of 100 doctors recruited to Ireland by the HSE -- told the Herald that the incident has caused him to reconsider whether he will remain in Ireland. "I love this country. I work extremely hard and I have made so many friends and have had so many good experiences here. "But this is not the first time I have been subject to racism. Somebody has to stand up and stay 'stop'," he said. "I don't know if I want to remain here any longer. "I was going to bring my two daughters and wife over from Pakistan but why would I want to have them living among racism?

Suffered
"I don't want them subjected to the type of attitudes and attacks that I've suffered from," he added. The 32-year-old junior doctor works in Drogheda for the Louth-Meath Mental Health Services. He said that he was out socialising with friends on Monday night when he was assaulted by a young female. "A young girl who was clearly drunk approached me on the dance floor before shouting nasty names at me. She punched and slapped me but she was taken away by her friends who apologised. "But then she came back. She was shouting racial expressions at me before punching and kicking me. I couldn't defend myself, it's not in my nature to [retaliate]. "I just took the abuse but I couldn't believe the reaction of the nightclub." Dr Bukhari told the Herald that when he approached the night club staff they "laughed at me and made fun of me because I'm a psychiatric worker". He said he has spoken to local gardai and that he intends to make a formal complaint. "I'm extremely upset to be honest. I've given every ounce of my energy to my job where I work with children and adolescents.

"The words used to describe me were nothing short of racism and I feel it is a really major problem in Ireland. "But I am more upset at the response of the authorities and the night club itself. They are supposed to protect people. "I don't want to make myself out as a victim but I do want to highlight that racism is at large here."
Attempts to contact the night club were unsuccessful this morning. Dr Bukhari added that the incident has led him to question whether he will remain in Ireland after his contract with the HSE expires in 2013. "I don't know if I will stay in Ireland after my contract expires," he said. He added: "I certainly won't bring my family over now."
© The Irish Herald

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MORE HOMOPHOBIC CRIMES REPORTED TO POLICE (Wales, UK)

6/1/2012- Since their launch Gwent Police’s team of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) liaison officers have seen the number of reported homophobic hate crimes go up. The14 LGBT liaison officers were launched last December in the first project of its kind in Wales which aimed to provide support to people who were victims of hate crime in Gwent because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Now a year on,Gwent police has seen the number of homophobic hate crimes reported rise from 35 during the period December 2009 to November 2010 to 40 between December 2010 until November 2011. The number of transphobic hate crimes reported between December 2010 and November 2011 was four compared to none reported between December 2009 and November 2010. The officers have also supported 23 victims of hate crime during the past year, providing information and support throughout the investigation, attending court with victims where needed and directing victims to support agencies. Detective Sergeant Wendy Keepin, who is one of the liaison officers, said it is hoped more officers will be trained up in the future. She said: “It is about meeting people’s specific needs and letting them know they do not have to suffer in silence.”
© The South Wales Argus

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RACISM IN WALES IS STILL WIDESPREAD, CAMPAIGNERS CLAIM (uk)

6/1/2012- Racism is still widespread in Wales despite the death of Stephen Lawrence and subsequent Macpherson Inquiry, campaigners have warned. It comes after the London-based Institute for Race Relations (IRR) revealed that six people in Wales have died since 1993 in either clear-cut or suspected racist attacks. But while the Stephen Lawrence case has remained in the public eye for almost two decades, many of the six deaths in Wales have long since faded into obscurity – despite one of the cases remaining unsolved. James Tossell, 16, died in a fire in 1998 after he and a friend, Steven Biggs, barricaded themselves into Mr Biggs’ flat in Kenfig Hill, Bridgend, to escape a gang of brick-throwing youths. Charges against two youths suspected of starting the fire were dropped because of insufficient evidence and the CPS later decided there was insufficient evidence to prosecute the officers involved in the original attack’s investigation, after a complaint was made by the Tossell family.

Alicja Zalesinska, assistant director of Race Equality First, said racist attacks were reported to the Cardiff-based charity on a “daily basis”. She added racism is rife in many organisations in Wales, but is not faced up to because of an overwhelming fear of being labelled “racist”. She said: “Firstly, if we are talking about racism in general we shouldn’t be talking about murders only, which are obviously very high profile and thankfully very rare. “Racist attacks are still happening on a daily basis and it is not something that is very often mentioned. “We regularly get reports from people who are being harassed or assaulted in their own communities. Quite a lot of this is happening in council housing and in estates. “It could be isolated incidents or things that are happening on a daily or a weekly basis and it is very difficult to prove that they are motivated by racism. “People don’t like to say that there is racism in Wales, Cardiff, or anywhere, but from our experience it is there and from our experience people don’t tend to treat these incidents as seriously as they should be because they might seem like low-level incidents. For example, if someone throws a stone at your house it might not seem like much, but if that happens every day it can have a very serious impact.”

She added: “Racism has been taken much more seriously since Stephen Lawrence’s death and in Cardiff we have two hate crime officers in the police force, but of course there are always going to be good people and bad people. “Ten years ago we would speak to a police force and they would say that racism does not exist in their organisation, now at least they do acknowledge it, but there are still organisations that don’t. “For example, schools are required to record all racist incidents and report them to their local authority and some of them do, but others will basically try not to record such incidents, or not record them as racially motivated, because they don’t want to be labelled racist. “In general, people are scared to acknowledge that something might be related to racism. It is such a strong word that nobody wants to use it. “I think it would be a good thing if we could see more discussion in the media and in schools and accept that acknowledging there is a problem with racism in an organisation does not mean that it is rife. We need to see more debate, not less.”

IRR researcher Harmit Athwal[CORR] said: “For politicians the issue has been dealt with in the Macpherson report of 1999. However our research shows that the main parties are in denial about the extent and severity of racial violence, and interested in right-wing extremism only when it challenges them electorally. “And yet it is the policies and pronouncements of mainstream politicians, on a range of issues from terrorism and foreign wars to cohesion, criminality and immigration, which create the insidious popular racism in which such violence foments. “Many of the names of the people killed in racially motivated attacks recorded by the IRR will not be common knowledge.” MP for Cardiff South and Penarth Alun Michael, a former Home Office minister, was responsible for setting up the Macpherson Inquiry following the murder of Stephen Lawrence. He said the inquiry’s findings and subsequent introduction of legislation for hate crimes had made racism “totally unacceptable”, while many organisations, including the police, had changed “dramatically” for the better since the Macpherson Inquiry, which famously branded the Metropolitan Police as “institutionally racist”.

He said: “It is quite difficult for the courts to deal with, in terms of identifying to what extent a crime is racially motivated, but I think we have moved in the right direction. “When the English Defence League marched on the streets of Cardiff last year they had a small number of supporters, most of whom came from England and not from within South Wales, whereas we had a tremendous turnout in the march by Unite Against Fascism on the same day. “That is not to say there have not been incidents. There was an attack on a Bangladeshi family in my constituency not so long ago which was related to prejudice and it is unacceptable that people – whatever their religion and social background – should feel unsafe in their own home. I was shocked that the individuals responsible should feel that they could get away with attacking people in their community.”
© Wales Online

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THREE MEN SENTENCED OVER ARSON ATTACK ON SUSSEX MOSQUE (uk)

Three men have been sentenced for an arson attack on a newly-renovated mosque in West Sussex.

5/1/2012- James Everley, 20, of Crawley, James Smith, 20, of Burgess Hill, and Joshua Morris, 20, of Haywards Heath, were all sentenced to three years at a young offenders institute. The fire at the mosque in Wivelsfield Road, Haywards Heath, was started at about 02:10 GMT on 13 February. Police believe the attack was a religiously-aggravated hate crime. The men had pleaded guilty at Hove Crown Court to arson, theft of paraffin and a public order offence, which involved racially or religiously aggravated fear of violence. Ch Insp Jon Hull, district commander for Mid Sussex, said: "The mosque was occupied at the time this fire was started and it could have had devastating consequences if it hadn't been put out quickly. "Thankfully only damage was caused to the building. "Everyone who lives, works or visits Sussex has a right to go about their lives without becoming the victim of a hate crime because of their disability, race, religious beliefs, sexual orientation or gender identity." The mosque had been renovated and had reopened three months before the attack.
© BBC News

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ASIAN MAN ATTACKED AND RACIALLY ABUSED IN SALFORD (uk)

4/1/2012- An Asian man has been assaulted and racially abused in an attempted robbery in Salford, Greater Manchester Police said. The 24-year-old victim man was leaving a takeaway on Great Cheetham Street at about 00:20 GMT on Tuesday when he was attacked. Police said he was chased by four youths who attempted to steal his phone and punched him in the head. During the attack one of the group shouted racist abuse at him. The victim suffered cuts and bruises in the attack. PC Mark Cole said: "The primary motivation for this incident appears to be robbery, but the victim was also subjected to racial abuse by one of his attackers and we are doing all we can to identify them." One of his attackers is described as white, in his mid-teens, of slim build, about 5ft (1.5m) tall and wearing a black hooded top. Another was white, of slim build, 5ft 9in (1.8m) tall, with short dark hair and was wearing a grey top. A third is described as white and a fourth as having dark skin.
© Manchester Wired

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RACIST ATTACK IN HUNTINGDON (uk)

4/1/2012- On the day when two men were found guilty of the murder of Stephen Lawrence, 18 years ago, and the debate is on how things have changed for the better I read about a racist attack in Huntingdon. The attack occurred on New Years Day as the 41 year old woman and a 37 year old man were returning home along St Peter's Road at 6am. Police say the couple were racial abused before being beaten by two white men, one described as a 25-30 years old white man, 5' 5", with cropped hair, wearing a white round neck t-shirt and a necklace. The other man was white in his early twenties, 5' 11", clean shaven with short, curly mousey hair and wearing a leather jacket over a white top. The woman was taken to Hinchingbrooke Hospital with a deep cut to the hand and later transferred to Addenbrookes for specialist treatment. It is deeply disappointing to be still reading of such attacks. Clearly we still have serious problem in Huntingdon, but do you think this is an isolated incident or if it is a symptom of something deeper still there, just more hidden, under the surface. Is racism still, after all we have been through still a part of Huntingdon life. I would sincerely hope not, but I am not optimistic.
© Huntingdon People

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TWO GUILTY OF LAWRENCE MURDER (uk)

3/1/2012- A court has convicted two men of the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence 18-years ago, following a case that exposed racism in the London police and led to a change in the law allowing suspects to be tried twice for the same crime. The 18-year-old school student was stabbed to death at a bus stop in Eltham, southeast London in an unprovoked attack by a gang of white youths shouting racist abuse in April, 1993. Gary Dobson (36) and David Norris (35) were found guilty after a six-week trial that hinged on new scientific evidence presented by prosecutors. Mr Lawrence's mother Doreen and father Neville wept as the verdicts were delivered at the Old Bailey. Dobson protested his innocence as he was led from court saying: "You have condemned an innocent man here, I hope you can live with yourselves." His mother Pauline called out from the public gallery above: “He didn’t kill that man.” Mr Justice Treacy said he would sentence both men tomorrow.

The case became a catalyst for change after London's Metropolitan Police botched the initial investigation into Lawrence's death. A 1999 report by senior judge William Macpherson said the murder had exposed "institutional racism" in the force and also accused officers of incompetence and a failure of leadership. Since then, the police have overhauled their policies on racism and tried to recruit more officers from ethnic minorities, but the Lawrence case still weighs heavily on the force. The impact of the Macpherson inquiry was felt across the public sector, with all bodies being required to put in place policies to prevent and address racism. The Lawrence case also helped end the judicial doctrine of double jeopardy, which had previously prevented suspects from being tried twice for the same crime. One of the defendants, Dobson, had been acquitted of the murder in 1996 when a private prosecution brought by the teenager's parents collapsed. The Court of Appeal quashed that acquittal in May 2011 and said Dobson could stand trial again, a decision made possible after double jeopardy was scrapped in 2005.

The trial of Dobson and Norris, which began in November, hinged on new forensic evidence linking the two men to the murdered teenager. Prosecutors said textile fibres, blood and hair belonging to Lawrence had been found on clothing seized from the defendants. The defence argued that the clothes were contaminated during the police investigation because officers did not store them properly. British prime minister David Cameron said: “In the 19 years since his murder, Stephen Lawrence’s family has fought tirelessly for justice. “Today’s verdict cannot ease the pain of losing a son. “But, for Doreen and Neville Lawrence, I hope that it brings at least some comfort after their years of struggle,” he said.
© The Irish Times.

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UKRAINE SYNAGOGUE FIREBOMBED A SECOND TIME IN TWO MONTHS

3/1/2012- Less than a month after celebrating the dedication of a new Torah scroll, the small, but historic Jewish community of Kremenchug, Ukraine, was forced to again deal with anti-Semitism after a Molotov cocktail ignited a fire and damaged its synagogue’s exterior. The attack, which took place in the middle of the night on New Year’s Eve, followed a similar attempted firebombing two months ago. In that instance, the Molotov cocktail failed to ignite. Chief Rabbi Shlomo Salomon, a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary, said that it was a miracle that the damage in this week’s incident was relatively light. “If it is had gone through a window, it could have burned down the whole building,” he stated. Since coming to Kremenchug with his wife Dina Salamon in 1998, the Salomons have confronted other incidents, including when a rock was thrown at the building and smashed a window. This was the first, he said, that spawned a fire. The rabbi added that a guard was at the synagogue Saturday night when the attack occurred. Local police are conducting an investigation. “The community members are taking it really hard,” said Salomon. The rabbi is now working on raising funds to enhance the synagogue’s security system. Back on Dec. 5, the community dedicated a Torah scroll in celebration of the anniversary of the birth and passing of the Second Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Dov Ber Shneuri, on the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Kislev. Rabbi Dov Ber lived in Kremenchug for two years, making the city a center for Chabad Chasidism during that time. The city enjoyed a large Jewish population up until World War II, when invading Nazi forces practically wiped out the city’s Jews.
© Chabad

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SECOND ATTACK ON QUEBEC MOSQUE TRIGGERS CALL FOR HATE-CRIME PROBE (Canada)

5/1/2012- A second attack in three days on a local mosque is prompting renewed calls for a hate-crime investigation from a Canadian Muslim organization. The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations urged the move after the mosque was found spray painted with hate messages earlier today. The attack follows the smashing of windows at the mosque and an attempt to torch two cars in its parking lot earlier this week. The organization says it is not the first time the mosque has been the target of vandals and it cites similar attacks on mosques in Ottawa, Montreal, Hamilton, Waterloo and Vancouver. The organization released four photographs that show what appears to be spray-painted graffiti including the Star of David and anti-Arab slurs.
© The Globe and Mail

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POLICE INVESTIGATING VANDALISM AT GATINEAU MOSQUE (Canada)

3/1/2012- Gatineau police are investigating vandalism at an Outaouais mosque to find out who is responsible and whether it was a hate crime, a police spokesperson said Tuesday morning. Around 2 a.m. Monday morning a man was caught on surveillance video breaking windows of the Outaouais Islamic Centre and two cars in the parking lot, said Amadou Thiam, secretary of the mosque. The man took the oil cap off the engine of one of the cars and stuffed paper inside, said Thiam. He tried to light the paper on fire but failed, and left the partly burned paper sticking out of the engine. On the other car, he had taken the cap off the gas tank. “On the surveillance video, you can see a car passed by and he ran away,” said Thiam.

A month ago the mosque had a broken window and in the fall more windows were broken, said Thiam. “We always said it was some teenager who passed by and threw a stone, or something like that, but this time we were worried because the cars were parked next to the mosque and if he had set them on fire we would have a serious issue here,” he said. “This is a place of worship and I think most of the people in Ottawa and Gatineau respect that because people come here to pray. No one wants to see a place of worship on fire,” he added. Officials at the mosque don’t consider the vandalism a hate crime, said Thiam. “We are very established in this community and in general we have a very good relationship with our community and so we don’t think this is a hate crime,” he said.

On Monday evening, the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN) learned of the incident and called on police to investigate the vandalism as a potential hate crime. "While we are relieved that no one was injured in this instance, attacks on any place of worship are deeply offensive and hurtful,” Ihsaan Gardee, CAIR-CAN Executive Director. “Islam promotes social justice, peaceful relations and understanding with our neighbours. Unfortunately, these incidents which target Muslims and members of other faith groups continue.” Gatineau police spokesperson Pierre Lanthier said investigators will determine whether or not the crime was motivated by hate, or not. Two investigators will review the surveillance tape and distribute images of the suspect, said Lanthier.
© Metro Ottawa

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DAMAGE IN VICTORIA'S EMANU-EL JEWISH CEMETERY BEING TREATED AS HATE CRIME (Canada)

3/1/2012- Victoria police are treating the desecration of five graves in Victoria’s historic Emanu-El Jewish Cemetery as a hate crime, and are appealing to the public for assistance. The damaged graves, marked with racist graffiti and swastikas, were reported on New Year’s Eve day, said Victoria police Const. Mike Russell. The cemetery is on Cedar Hill Road, just off Hillside Avenue. “Unfortunately due to the location, there’s not a lot of evidence, there’s no videos,” Russell said. “So we’re really appealing to the public for any information they may have.” Russell said the cemetery was fine when the caretaker left late on Dec. 30. “We were called on the morning of the 31st, so it happened sometime over that night.”

Russell said the incident is disturbing for all involved, and doesn’t appear to be a simple act of graffiti vandalism. “It seems like it’s more of a targeted thing, where it’s placed and what’s said.” Rabbi Harry Brechner issued an open letter calling on the culprit or culprits to step forward, take responsibility “and make things right.”
“Come clean the gravesites, and when you are through take a tour with me around the cemetery and meet some of the people who lived through Nazism.” Both the cemetery and Victoria’s Congregation Emanu-El synagogue date to the 1860s. The cemetery is the oldest Jewish burial ground in western Canada, while Victoria’s Congregation Emanu-El synagogue is the county’s oldest in continuous use.
© The Times Colonist

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NEW YORK LEADERS CONDEMN MOSQUE FIREBOMBING (usa)

2/1/2012- The mayor and governor of New York voiced outrage Monday after a mosque was hit by a firebomb in an arson spree that police said they were investigating as a hate crime. The Imam Al-Khoei Foundation building in the borough of Queens suffered damage to the front door from a Molotov cocktail thrown late Sunday as up to 100 people were gathered inside. Two similar attacks occurred in the same neighborhood -- one in a convenience store run by Muslims and one at a house used as a temple by Hindu worshipers. The foundation, which describes itself as the biggest international Shiite Muslim organization, said on its website that two firebombs were "hurled at the main entrance" but that there was "no major damage or injury."

The statement said the foundation "reiterates its resolve to continue to serve the community and to strive to bring love where there is hatred, light where there is darkness and enlightenment where there is ignorance." Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the three Molotov cocktail attacks "stand in stark contrast to the New York City of today that we've built together." "Personnel from the NYPD's Hate Crimes Unit and the 103rd Precinct's Detective Squad are moving at full steam to investigate and also determine if there are any connections to incidents outside New York City," Bloomberg said.

New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo also said in a statement that the "reported attacks on Sunday night go against everything we stand for as New Yorkers and Americans." Late Monday, police released a sketch of the main suspect, a heavily built man aged between 25 and 30. Dramatic security camera footage showed the suspect hurling a burning object in the final attack, against the house used as a Hindu temple. The attacks began when a Molotov cocktail consisting of a flammable liquid in a glass Starbucks bottle was thrown in a corner store, known here as a bodega, striking the counter. A source close to the investigation, who asked not to be identified, said that in the bodega "the employees are Muslim."

A third incident, occurring just one hour after the mosque attack, saw the same Starbucks bottle and accelerant type of weapon thrown at the home used as a Hindu temple. Nothing outside the house indicates its dual use as a temple, police said. The evening also saw a fourth, more destructive attack that caused a major fire at a nearby private home. However, there was no proof of links between this and the other incidents. "There were no injuries, but there was extensive damage," a police spokesman said. The source with the investigation said that in this case arson was suspected, but there was no indication of the same firebombs being used. The inhabitants, who escaped unharmed, were Christian and had no connection to the mosque or to the bodega, the source said.

The Imam Al-Khoei center's acting imam, Maan al Sahlani, told NY1 television that between 85 and 100 people were in the building when its front door was attacked, but that most were safely located downstairs. "We don't find any reason to attack others. As human beings here, we have to love each other, we have to respect each other. It doesn't matter the origin or what I believe or what you believe," al Sahlani said. Bloomberg has been a staunch defender of the city's Muslim immigrant population, notably in the furor over plans to build an Islamic center and mosque two blocks from the former location of the Twin Towers, which were destroyed in the September 11, 2001 Al-Qaeda attacks.

However, Muslim community leaders say their civil rights have been whittled away since 9/11, especially as a result of intrusive police surveillance. Last week, a group of Muslim leaders boycotted an annual interreligious event held by the mayor to protest police tactics. "During times when a community's rights are being flagrantly violated, its leaders cannot in good conscience appear at a public gathering with the government official who is ultimately responsible and smile for the cameras," read a letter the group sent to Bloomberg. The group denounced the "very disturbing revelations" in media reports detailing how the city police have been "monitoring and profiling virtually every layer of NYC Muslim public life, often with no suspicion of wrongdoing." Bloomberg told WOR radio that police "don't target any ethnic group." He said that some reporting in the media had been inaccurate and he defended the authorities' right to go "where the potential threats are reported to be."
© AFP

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NEO-NAZI RADIO PRESENTERS SENTENCED (Germany)

Eleven employees of a Neo-Nazi internet radio station were handed suspended sentences in the western German town of Koblenz Thursday. A twelfth worker was imprisoned for two years because he carried previous offences.

6/1/2012- The judge found all twelve accused guilty of supporting a criminal organization and inciting racial hatred. The station was found to have called on listeners to commit criminal acts. All of the accused admitted to working as presenters or administrators for the “Resistance Radio” station. The 42-year-old man, from Bamberg, had already been in prison for assault. His appearances on the radio station have extended his prison sentence by one year and nine months. “Resistance Radio” was on the air from July 2009 to November 2010. Seven women and five men, aged between 20 and 42, from six different German states faced charges in court. The judge said the station presented a danger to society, and that the accused had deliberately tried to recruit young people to the neo-Nazi scene. The station idealized Germany’s Nazi regime and incited violence against foreigners, Jews and leftists. Germany’s domestic intelligence agency the Verfassungsschutz spent months monitoring the station.
© The Local - Germany

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NEO-NAZIS TARGET LEFT PARTY OFFICIALS (Germany)

Barely a week goes by without a neo-Nazi attack on politicians from Germany's far-left Left Party. Extremists smash the windows of offices or private homes, daub graffiti on walls, cut car brake cables and make anonymous death threats. In response, authorities are beefing up security for senior party officials.

2/1/2012- Gregor Gysi, the parliamentary group leader of the opposition far-left Left Party, feels surrounded by neo-Nazis whenever he visits his constituency office in the Berlin district of Niederschöneweide. The area is a bastion of right-wing extremists who have been renting more and more office space and shops nearby. "They want this to become 'their' street," says Gysi, adding that they damage or daub graffiti on the windows of his office almost every night. "But I won't let them drive me out," he vows. Right-wing extremists have set their sights on left-wing politicians. Left Party members and the police have been counting at least four or five attacks a month nationwide, and it's often more than that. Windows keep getting smashed, fireworks explode in letter boxes, and cars, offices and apartments are damaged in arson attacks.

The most recent example was a smashed window in the Hamburg district of Hamm. Unknown assailants hurled stones at the office of Hamburg politician Tim Golke during the night of Dec. 25. In addition, the lists of addresses found among the possessions of the suspected neo-Nazi terrorists known as the Zwickau cell contained many names of Left Party officials. Extremists have also been attacking members of other parties, as well as foreigners, homosexuals, homeless people and police officers. But they have been targeting the Left Party with striking frequency, and with particular aggression. It isn't just because both sides are to some extent competing for the same voters -- disenchanted people who feel they have been let down by society. Many neo-Nazis evidently can't forgive the Left Party for mobilizing resistance against far-right demonstrations and propaganda.

The security policy spokeswoman of the Left Party in the Bundestag, the lower house of the German parliament, Ulla Jelpke, has for years been submitting regular questions to the government, such as why there are so many holes in the statistics on victims of far-right crimes. She also asks where skinheads hold their concerts, and what the domestic intelligence service, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, is doing about the far-right threat.

Steel Balls Fired Though The Window
Jelpke's archive in is high demand as a source of information, and the neo-Nazis are aware of this. Attackers have fired steel balls through the window of her constituency office in Dortmund, hurled a paving stone through the door, smeared graffiti on the walls and sprayed acid into the office. There were four such attacks last year alone. Jelpke has long since given up trying to find an insurance company that will cover her premises. Figures compiled by the Left Party show there were well over 100 attacks on Left Party politicians and offices in the period from January 2010 to summer 2011, mostly in North Rhine-Westphalia and eastern Germany. Anonymous threats ("We'll get you all") are the most harmless cases. Jörn Wunderlich, a Left Party Bundestag member from the town of Limbach-Oberfrohna in Saxony, was at home when neo-Nazis smashed his ground floor windows with iron bars. Luckily for him, they left without entering.

In the night of Feb. 18, 2010, the car of another Left Party official, Lutz Richter, who represents the party in the Sächsische Schweiz region of eastern Germany, was set on fire. The homes of his mother and his partner were daubed with threatening graffiti. The car of Evrim Sommer, a member of the Berlin regional assembly, went up in flames outside her apartment almost two years ago. In the south-western town of Göppingen, someone tampered with the brakes on local councilor Christian Stähle's car and set fire to his letter box. The office of Left Party national treasurer Raju Sharma in Eutin, northern Germany, has been attacked seven times since February 2010.

Security Being Beefed Up
The Left Party leadership is disappointed at the lack of response from other parties. They are annoyed that the Left Party is to be left out of plans by the conservatives and the center-left Social Democrats to set up a commission to investigate mistakes made in the hunt for far-right terrorists. "We of all people are being treated as parliamentary lepers in the fight against the far right," said Left Party MP Petra Pau, vice president of the Bundestag. However, security precautions for senior Left Party politicians are being increased. Several dozen officials were informed that they were on the lists of the Zwickau cell. But their names were not made public, in order to prevent copycat attacks. It is impossible to provide comprehensive protection. In most cases the police just take down the details and eventually drop the investigation. Regional and local party officials in particular will have to go on living with the threat.

Arson and Severed Brake Cables
Bodo Ramelow, Left Party parliamentary group leader in the state of Thuringia, has seen it all. Arson attacks against his office, a burglary, severed brake cables, loosened nuts on the car wheels of his deputy, death threats. Ramelow has been talking about far-right networks in Thuringia, where the Zwickau cell trio grew up, since the 1990s. "I would like to have been wrong," he says today. His name is on the Zwickau list. "I would like to have spared my children the need to be trained in security measures by government agents," says Ramelow. He says he has nightmares and wakes up at night seeing the faces of Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt, two of the alleged members of the Zwickau cell who died on Nov. 4, 2011. He already met the two neo-Nazis in the 1990s, before they went underground. They attended the trial of a neo-Nazi at which Ramelow had been called to testify as a witness for the prosecution. The two men had posted themselves at the entrance to the courtroom like bodyguards to show their support for their friend Manfred Roeder, who was in the dock. When they sat down in the public gallery behind Ramelow, he recalls feeling that they "were a silent threat breathing down my neck."
© The Spiegel

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