ICARE Hate Crime News - Archive March 2012

Headlines 30 March, 2012

Headlines 23 March, 2012

Headlines 16 March, 2012

Headlines 9 March, 2012

Headlines 2 March, 2012

Headlines 30 March, 2012


Four Kosovo Serbs arrested for breaching Kosovo’s Constitutional Order and suspected of organising Serbia’s election in Kosovo, are now being charged with inciting hatred and intolerance among ethnic groups.

30/3/2012- A Kosovo prosecutor amended charges against four Serbs arrested for allegedly carrying material to be used in the Serbian local elections. Instead of charging them for breaching Kosovo’s Constitutional Order, charged them with inciting hatred and intolerance among ethnic groups. Kamenica’s Municipal Court President, Zijadin Spahiu, told Balkan Insight on Friday that the defendants were brought before his court on Thursday afternoon and charged with inciting hatred under Clause 115, Article 1 of the Penal Code of Kosovo which carries a maximum penalty of five years. The Court ordered the four suspects should be put under house arrest for 30 days. “They have no right to contact each other or anyone else, other than members of their families,” Spahiu said.

Serbian minister for Kosovo, Goran Bogdanovic, said the arrests were “ethnically motivated” with the aim to frighten Serbs who are engaged with Serbian institutions on Kosovo. “These counts are ridiculous, this is abuse of law and selective enforcement of the law by so-called Kosovo authorities. „The fact they were working for Serbian insitutions and they were carrying election lists is no basis for acusations of spreading hate and intolerance. This is indeed absurd,“ Bogdanovic told Balkan Insight. A Balkan Insight source explained that the prosecutor has the right to amend charges filed by the police, then change them again when filing the indictment, after the period of house arrest expires. Given that another article of the Kosovo's Penal Code Clause 115 includes the breach of Constitutional Order the prosecution can add more charges later. According to the source, Kosovo prosecution is planning to expand the case by adding the charges for breach of Constitutional Order at a later stage.

The Kosovo Serbs were arrested on Tuesday night at the Kosovo-Serbia border crossing of Dheu I Bardhë/Bela Zemlje. They included the Mayor of Vitina, Srecko Spasic, two of his employees, and a police officer from the Ferizaj/Urosevac police. The four were on their way to Gnjilane/Gjilan. After their arrest, the police found a list of eligible Serb voters in the municipalities of Gjilan and Vitina in their possession, and another list of those working for the Serb parallel institutions in Kosovo. The Serbian police retaliated by arresting two Kosovo Albanians on Wednesday. Hasan Abazi, the President of the Metalworkers Union, was arrested for alleged espionage, while Adem Urseli was arrested for drug smuggling. Both sets of arrests have drawn criticism from non-governmental organisations, who describe them as politically motivated and based on the men's ethnic background. Earlier this month, Serbia announced that it was extending its May 6 local elections to Kosovo, which it still considers part of its territory, even though the country declared itself independent in 2008. This move was condemned by the Kosovo government and by the international community as a violation of Kosovo's territorial integrity and sovereignty, which Belgrade does not recognise. The Kosovo Police announced on Thursday that is has drawn up operational plans for implementing the government’s call to prevent the Serb ballots within the territory of Kosovo.
© Balkan Insight



The Norwegian Jewish group Det Mosaiske Trossamfund (DMT) has asked police in Oslo to start registering anti-Semitic incidents. Members claim they’ve been subjected to 11 incidents of harassment, vandalism and threats just in the past month.

28/3/2012- “If we don’t get an overview of these incidents, we’re in poor shape to combat the virus that anti-semitism represents,” DMT leader Ervin Kohn told newspaper Vårt Land. Police currently have no such overview, but DMT has been keeping track of anti-Semitic incidents on its own. Members of the organization have received threatening letters, been harassed during a funeral service and been subjected to Nazi-salutes by unidentified men. A Jewish taxi driver reported being harassed and threatened while on duty at Oslo’s main airport at Gardermoen, and someone also has thrown rocks and bottles at the synagogue in Oslo. The police have claimed there haven’t been enough incidents to warrant systematic registration, but Kari Helene Partapuoli, leader of Oslo’s anti-racism center, disagrees. “With a Jewish minority of around 1,000 persons in Norway, the numbers will always be small,” she said. “Many also don’t believe anti-Semitism exists in Norway, which also makes it difficult to deal with the problem.”
© Views and News from Norway



28/3/2012- A young ethnic Armenian is being treated for multiple stab wounds after surviving a suspected racially motivated attack by a neo-Nazi group in Poland. The incident took place in eastern Poland’s largest city of Bialystok on Sunday, with the local media identifying the victim as a 21-year-old Armenian by the first name of Ogsen, who is, presumably, a local resident. Bialystok’s newspapers, Kurier Poranny, quoted eyewitnesses as saying that two dozen masked nationalists broke into a local nightclub and went specifically for the Armenian, who is said to have been brutally beaten before being repeatedly stabbed and left bleeding. “They were very confident in their actions, and the impression was that they had come for a particular person, perhaps they were taking revenge on him,” the club’s manager said, according to the paper.

Local media say it is the second attack targeting the young Armenian. Last April a group of knife-wielding youngsters assaulted Ogsen and his friends in broad daylight, reportedly hurling racist insults and making other offensive remarks against the Armenian and his companions. A braw ensued and Ogsen and his friend managed to repulse the attackers, inflicting serious injuries on one of them. After the investigation that lasted for months the court found Ogsen guilty and sentenced him to two years in prison. “Apparently, that punishment did not seem severe enough for the skinheads and they decided to wage a vendetta against him,” writes one of the Polish bloggers. The local police stop short of calling it a crime committed on ethnic grounds. According to official sources, the investigation into the attack is ongoing and two suspects have already been arrested. “We cannot say anything yet, the police are investigating the case and we hope that much will become clear in the coming days,” the Kurier Poranny newspaper quoted Bialystok’s public prosecutor Marek Winnicki as saying.

“One thing is clear: problems with neo-Nazism are not new to our country,” a Gazeta Bialystok commentator wrote on Tuesday, adding that the weekend incident revealed just how vulnerable the Polish system of justice was. “Even though Ogsen suffered an attack a year ago, his attackers have not been brought to justice until today, because the prosecution did not provide grounds for bringing a case against them. The Sunday incident perhaps would not have happened, had the law-enforcement taken the opposite course of action and investigated the case of the attackers first,” the Polish analyst suggested. The Armenian embassy in Poland says it continues to follow the developments in the case and has already sent an official inquiry to Bialystok’s prosecutors and police officials. According to the information possessed by Armenian diplomats in Warsaw, the current condition of the attacked Armenian is satisfactory, he remains in hospital and is under constant medical supervision.
© Armenia Liberty



28/3/2012- The following is a story of racism and how it impacts on a family and further the inappropriate response of agencies responsible. Deference to ‘authorities’ and indecisiveness on the part of relevant agencies pervades. ‘We relocated to Ireland in June 2010 from South Africa following a brutal family murder and ongoing violence in South African society. Gerard is an Irish citizen who lived in SA for several years his wife and children are born and bred South Africans’.

-Sept 2011 – Son starts at new school, having experienced racial bullying at previous school (very small rural school in Co Meath, Ireland)

- Oct 2011 – Son comes home having been punched in the face- this was not reported to us by the school. We went in the next day and the principals response was he doesn’t call in parents every time there is an “altercation” between boys. We mention that our son has informed us of organised fights at break time, the principle vehemently denies this. Our son reports to us he is being teased over his accent. Principal denies any bullying but agrees to monitor situation. He also encourages our son not to be a tattle tale after we bring up other issues which came to light. This he also relayed to our son by the principle, this was done to improve the chances of him making friends and not be seen as a rat.

-November 2011 – We are called by the school to tell us our son is injured we need to collect him, I found him semi conscious, dizzy, slurred speech and very pale after an “accidental” clash of heads during PE class. In Cavan A&E he has CT scan and diagnosed with severe concussion. Suffers headaches and double vision for about 4 days.

-December 2011 – We observe the group of boys involved in bullying, some of whom live in the same estate, coming into our property several times and playing nick nack, xmas decorations are stolen from our porch.

-Jan 2012 - First day back to school after Christmas break, found tyres on our car deflated- reported to Gardai, rang principal as we know first names of boys but not surnames so Gardai cannot take complaint. He tells us to buy a cctv system and come with proof to him.

-25th Feb 2012 – Front lounge windows hit with oranges we witness the boys- call police- told they busy with road blocks no cars available. One hour later numerous eggs hit house windows walls and a rental car. Again we witness them being thrown. Again call police. We stand on pavement outside house, ask a few local kids for surname of one local boy, it is given. 1 hour later 4 boys at our driveway, looking in and laughing, our eldest son (16) runs after them and asks if it was them who egged the house, they deny he says ok and comes back.

Our 10 year old is traumatised by these events and breaks down crying. What came out then was the fact that these boys and others have been racially abusing our son for months, calling him a “F**king foreigner” and mocking and imitating his accent. Eventually Gardai turns up 4 hours later! We provide name and address of one boy and first names of others. The Gardai returns after being at house of boy and tells us they deny everything. The Gardai also says as boys are under 12 there is no criminal responsibility and they can do nothing about the situation.

-Monday 27th Feb 2012 – Our son is afraid to go to school, we keep him at home and telephone the principal and tell him what happened. The principle asks why our son has not told him of incidents at school. We remind him of his “advise” not to be a rat.

That evening another concerned parent and her son, who is in same year as ours, comes to the house. The boy tells us of the fact that on a daily basis our son is being brought to the point of tears due to racial bullying over his accent. Furthermore he tells us that the bully who the gardai called to is bragging in playground that day that he got away with the egging and is coming back for our car. Most disturbingly, the boy who was in the “accidental” head clash causing our son concussion has been bragging that he deliberately head butted our son, and also got away with it. This child also without prompting spontaneously described the organised fights which are happening in the school.

-Tuesday 28th Feb 2012 – We call the Gardai and make formal statement about the 2 assaults on our son- the punch in the face and the head butt incident.

We call Dept of Education, we get bounced around the HSE, Edu Dept, Edu Welfare Officers, Social Workers etc – a brilliant case of buck passing for 2-3 days and still NO ONE is intervening on our behalf. We hand delivered detailed letter to the school’s Board of Management and requested meeting and investigation.

-Thursday 1 March 2012 – We speak to a Sergeant who informs us that the principal had suggested the head clash was our sons fault and our version of events was in contradiction to his therefore no further investigation of incident. We are in shock. We contact school and under freedom of information act ask for a copy of the accident log, we also remembered that we had claimed medical cost through schools pupil insurance scheme which also had report from principal. We contacted the insurance company and requested copy of claim form. We got both documents which clearly support our version of events and contradict the evasive version the Principal gave to Gardai. The insurance claim was completed by him in his own hand writing and signed by him. When I collected the accident log from school, had a brief chat with principal he again denied any bullying, and informed me that BOM were meeting on Monday next in private and we were not invited.

-Friday evening 2 March 2012 – Youngest son’s birthday. We met with the Sergeant and presented both documents to support our version of events, they now accepted our version, said they would call to houses of 2 boys this evening, and interview principal on Monday. 45mins after getting home my wife answers call from a Gardai (the one who took the original complaint re. car tyres), she informs my wife that she has just had ” a very concerned parent” of a boy whom allegedly our oldest son had threatened and verbally abused( this is the one who threw the eggs). The gardai wanted to come to our house and formally caution our eldest son. My wife refused, and we were threatened with arrest and that a senior officer would come to the house and “force” the caution on our eldest son.

I immediately contacted the Sergeant we had met earlier and told him what had happened. I told him this was a false accusation and obviously further intimidation of us as a family. He rang back after speaking to the garda who had wanted to issue caution and told me they would not be coming tonight to issue caution but had an appointment to meet the other family tonight (sat) and would call to us afterwards. Our youngest who is being bullied broke down after all this drama and panic in the house asking why are the police coming for his big brother.

-Saturday 3 March 2012 – We removed all children from the house as we expected to be arrested for obstruction of justice for refusing caution. Contacted a criminal solicitor who informed that the Gardai had no charge and to refuse them entry to the house.

-Sunday 4 March 2012 – Gardai arrived early evening, we confirmed that they were not there to issue a caution. Gardai inform us that they had visited 6 different families but all denied involvement. Gardai received undertaking from families that they would not interfere with us again.

-Monday 5th March 2012 – Delivered second letter to school for Board of Management, addressed to all members excluding Principle. In this letter we highlighted the evasive nature of the principles response to Gardai enquiries. We were not invited to this board meeting. We receive a phone call just before 9 pm asking us to come to school, we were unable to attend and arranged meeting for the following day.

-Tuesday 6 March 2012 – Meeting held with some members of the board. Meeting was recorded with consent of all parties. Board was initially reluctant to concede problem with bullying in the school. Difficult and heated meeting for 1 hour and 42 minutes. Eventually board admitted that they failed our son. Solutions proposed see attachment. Son to return to school Thursday 8th March 2012.

-Wednesday 7 March 2012 – Son and teacher meet at school to discuss ‘secret’ method of communication. Class teacher and son were to finalise this the following morning before school.

-Thursday 8 March 2012 – Son finishes school day, reports that he had been taunted over egg throwing and called names after school. Son is visibly distressed and refuses to go back to school. We went immediately to see the principle and inform him of what had happened. Teacher had not finalised ‘secret’ signal and son couldn’t alert him to what was happening.

-Friday 9th March 2012 – Son kept out of school as fearful yet again.

-Monday 12 March 2012 – Son returns to school after debriefing. Teacher finalises ‘secret’ signal. Principle was due to give talk during assembly on bullying but this didn’t materialise due to confirmation photographer at school. Principle did give individual talks to each class.

-Wednesday 14 March 2012 – Son has a good day at school, seems relaxed and enjoying school again. House egged again that afternoon. Gardai are summoned. Camera was not running at the time so no footage available. Started camera then and caught the bullies passing by looking in and laughing.

-Thursday 15 March 2012 – Take video clip to principle. He confirms identity of boys. Principle notes their names. Get phone call from principle later that day and he informs us of existence of a facebook page. We go back to school to meet with him. Principle gives us a screen grab of the facebook page. Principle informs us that the page has been removed. We demand another board meeting to discuss suspension and possible expulsion of those responsible for the hate page. Principle stated that expulsion was not an option for primary schools and that the maximum suspension was three days. We take the screen grab to the Gardai. Gardai confirm that it is incitement to hatred and a serious offence. Mother of boy responsible for page comes to our house seeking resolution and forgiveness. We inform her that the situation is too serious and that gardai have been notified. Gardai meet with parents and boy who set up the page. Other children and parents from the page don’t bother keeping appointment with Gardai. Gardai confirm no prosecution is possible due to age of offenders. We look at facebook profiles of other boys involved and realise that the hate page had been circulated to approximately 200 other people including many students from the school.

-Friday 16 March 2012 – We advise the principle on level of exposure of this hate page. Inform principle that we are removing son once again for his own protection. Principle agrees that son should not be made aware of this hate page. Unfortunately our son had been made aware of this page by another student in school during the course of Wednesday.

-Tuesday 20 March 2012 – Son not at school. Board of management holds closed meeting. We had prepared a submission for the meeting. Was not afforded opportunity to present it to the board as meeting was held in the morning. Spoke to principle in the afternoon. Principle refuses to discuss outcome of meeting. We are told to wait for a letter from the chairman of the board. No time scale is given as to when we will receive letter. We express our disgust at the fact that we were excluded. Mother of boy who set up hate page arrives again at our house. She requests to meet at local hotel so that we can ‘sort this out between us’. We refuse and ask her to leave our property.

-Thursday 22 March 2012 – Receive BOM decision via email. BOM has decided not to take any action against the bullies. The BOM is taking the facebook incident in isolation and not attributing it to bullying behaviour in the school. This despite the fact that they have conceded that our son is indeed being bullied in school.

In conclusion at no stage has anyone enquired as to the well being of our son. This case is not being treated with fair procedure and urgency which it obviously deserves. The fact that our son is being denied his right to education whilst the bullies continue school unpunished and are roaming the streets of Kells on a daily basis clearly demonstrates the injustice of this situation. The effect of all of this on our son cannot be underestimated, he is already trying to modify his accent around home, when we talked to him about it it said he is trying to get rid of his South African accent to fit in more at school.

It is widely acknowledged that bullying in schools in Ireland, whether it be racial or otherwise, is an ever increasing problem. As quoted by Dr Mona O’Moore from the Trinity anti-bullying centre: ‘Within in the last year, I’ve heard of at least four secondary school students who have died by suicide because of bullying. There was also one eight year old who took that drastic step.’

We as a family are no longer prepared to allow us and our son to be intimidated by ten and eleven year olds and their irresponsible parents and an ineffective board of management at the school. We are disgusted that the Children’s act is protecting the bullies and not our son. We will stop at no lengths to highlight this problem in the Kells area and hopefully from doing so, someone in authority will have the guts to stand up for what is our constitutional right namely to live in peace and that our son get the education in a safe environment, free from racial abuse, which he deserves and wants.

This is a very shortened version of events as there are many other details which we do not want to disclose at this point. We feel that the information we have provided here paints a disturbing enough picture.
© Show Racism the Red Card



Hope not hate Spanish correspondent Wednesday, Sandra Cortes reports from Barcelona

28/3/2012- A gang of more than 10 nazi skinheads violently attacked an anti-fascist concert in Manresa in the Barcelona region on Friday evening. The nazi raid took place two hours before the start of the concert when only a few people were waiting for the show to start. Armed with sticks and flares, the nazis assaulted a group of three young boys, leaving one of them in a coma for two days. The Catalan police are still hunting the nazi gang while all political parties and organisations in the local community have decided to create an anti-fascist alliance. All the town councillors in Manresa have also condemned the nazi attack, the sole exception – surprise, surprise – being the fascist Plataforma per Catalunya (PxC) party.

PxC got 65.905 votes, and grew from 17 to 67 councillors in the 2011 local elections.

© HOPE not Hate News



The Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe, expressed dismay on Tuesday after after "the hateful anti-Semitic attack" suffered by a 12-year-old Jewish boy near the Ozar Hatorah school in the 13th district of Paris.

28/3/2012- The attack, during which the boy was beaten by three other youths of almost the same age shouting anti-Semitic slogans, came only one week after the killings by an Islamist terrorist of three Jewish children, 3, 5 and 7-year-old, and a rabbi teacher, father of two of the killed children, at a school of the Ozar hatorah high school network in Toulouse, in southwestern France. "I have learned with dismay the hateful anti-Semitic attack," the mayor said in a statement, reiterating his "determination to fight tirelessly against anti-Semitism". He reaffirmed his "commitment to defend the values ​​of tolerance and universality which are those of Paris" and expressed "deep sympathy" to the victim and his family. According to a preliminary investigation and according to the victim's statements, he left the Ozar Hatorah college around 4 pm when he was approached by three youths aged about 13-14 years, who uttered anti-Semitic insults, police said. He was beaten and hit at the head by one of the alleged attackers but was not seriously injured. The boy's family was "strongly encouraged to file a complaint" to the police, said the source. The attack happened about 100 meters from the entrance of the school but out of sight of the police guarding it. French President Nicolas Sarkozy ordered security increased at Jewish and Muslim schools and synagogues after last week's shooting. In a statement, the Union of Jewish Students of France (UEJF) spoke of a “climate of concern and anxiety in the Jewish community" of France. Around 600,000 Jews live in the country.
© EJP News



Dozens of Jewish graves are desecrated in southern France. Interior Ministry, Muslim Council condemn vandals

25/3/2012- More than 30 Jewish graves were desecrated in the city of Nice in southern France on the Sabbath, less than a week after a deadly attack on children at a Jewish school in Toulouse. Memorial candles were ripped off the graves, as were Stars of David. Only Jewish tombs were targeted. Guards at the cemetery said that most of the damage was done on Friday night, but that some damage had been noticed as early as Wednesday. It was not immediately clear if the incident was connected to the Toulouse attack. France’s Interior Ministry released a statement condemning the vandalism. “The Interior Ministry denounces desecration of graves and stresses the government’s commitment to battle against all forms of anti-Semitism,” the statement said. The High Council of Muslims in Southern France condemned the incident as well. 
© Arutz Sheva



Killer beat Shaima Alawadi to death in family home and left note that said: 'Go back to your own country. You're a terrorist.' 

5/3/2012- California police say an Iraqi-born woman who was beaten to death may have been the victim of a hate crime. The killer of Shaima Alawadi, 32, left a note reportedly reading: "Go back to your own country. You're a terrorist." Alawadi, an immigrant, died on Saturday after the attack last Wednesday. Police said her 17-year-old daughter, Fatima, found her unconscious in the dining room of the family's home in El Cajon, California at about 11:15am. Alawadi, a mother of five, died soon after being taken off a hospital life support machine, police said. Fatima told a local television station that her mother had been beaten on the head repeatedly with a tyre lever, and that the note said "go back to your country, you terrorist". The police confirmed a note had been found but did not release the details. The daughter had reportedly been sleeping upstairs. She found her mother in a pool of blood with a sliding glass door into the house broken.

According to El Cajon police lieutenant Mark Coit, the family told the police that another threatening note had been found earlier this month outside their home. But they told police that they had not reported it after dismissing it as a prank. "During the initial stages of this investigation, a threatening note was discovered very close to where the victim was found. The victim's family stated they had found a similar note earlier this month, however did not report it to authorities. Although we are exploring all aspects of this investigation, evidence thus far leads us to believe this is an isolated incident. No additional information is being released at this time," the police said in a statement. The investigators have so far made no arrests and have not said whether they have any leads to the assailant.

The attack had been a shock to the Muslim community in the area, said Hanif Mohebi, director of the San Diego chapter of Cair, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group. He had been speaking to the family. "The family is still numb. They are trying to figure it all out," he said. He said there had been an outpouring of support for the family from across California and the nation. In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist strikes, Islamophobic incidents were reported in several US cities, with attacks on people and mosques. But Mohebi said there had been little evidence of escalating tension in the area recently and there had been no incident comparable to this attack. He said a taxi driver had been severely beaten in the area a few years ago but he could recall no other recent severe physical attacks on Muslims.

El Cajon is a conservative city of 100,000 people 15 miles from San Diego that has become popular with Iraqi immigrants. The city is home to some 40,000 Iraqis, the second largest such community in the US after Detroit. "Obviously our community is worried about this but we want to make sure we get all the facts before we do anything. Our community is pretty much in shock at this point. Hopefully the police department will bring these people responsible to justice as soon as they can," Mohebi said. The family had only recently moved from Michigan to a house on a suburban street in El Cajon. A family friend, Sura Alzaidy, told a San Diego newspaper that the attack apparently happened after Kassim Al Hamidi, Alawadi's husband, had taken the couple's younger children to school. Alzaidy told the newspaper that Alawadi had been a "respectful, modest muhajiba," meaning she wears the traditional hijab headscarf.

Al Himidi and Alawadi migrated from Iraq to the United States in about 1993, according to local reports. Al Himidi had worked as a defence contractor in San Diego, serving as a cultural adviser to train soldiers preparing for duty in the Middle East. "There have been hate crimes in the past but I have not seen anything like this," said Mohebi. "At the end of the day there are a very small number of people who act upon such ignorance. In general our neighbours are supportive of the community." The murder comes at a sensitive moment for race relations in the US following the killing of a black teenager by a self-styled neighbourhood watch volunteer. Unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed after being chased by George Zimmerman, 28, last month in Sanford, Florida, sparking a national debate about gun laws and race and calls to prosecute Zimmerman under hate crime laws.
© The Guardian



The Migrants’ Network for Equality and Moviment Graffitti hold press conference outside court house to express their fear and concern about racism in Malta which has infiltrated institutions.

24/3/2012- A sizeable crowd of migrants and human rights activists this morning gathered outside the law court in Valletta to voice their concerns about the acquittal of the person accused of assaulting Suleiman Abubaker who had died as a result of the assault in Paceville. The persons present also spoke about the recent assault and death of Osama Al Shzliaoy , who was found lying in a pool of blood early Saturday morning, in Paceville. Al Shzliaoy was one of the first persons to criticise the acquittal on Facebook and a few days later he suffered the same fate of Sulemain. A number of representatives from the Migrants' Network for Equality expressed their anger and disappointment at the acquittal of the person charged with the assault of Sulemain in 2009.

The Sudanese migrant died on 9 June 2009 from extensive head injuries he sustained in an attack by a bouncer outside Footloose bar in Paceville, on 29 May 2009. Abubaker, a migrant with temporary humanitarian status, is believed to have died after being hit by bouncer Duncan Deguara. Deguara was subsequently arraigned and charged with grievously injuring Abubaker. Andre Callus from Moviment Graffitti described the court case as "flawed" and asked why the prosecution did not ask the questions which civil society and migrants are asking. Callus asked why the prosecution did not hear the testimony of two key witnesses. He said that the two French students who where in Paceville together with Sulemain on the night he was assaulted were not called to testify but instead the prosecution relied on the statements the two wrote three years ago. "However, nearly all the witnesses that where physically present in court had some kind of tie with the accused," Callus said.

On the testimony of Paceville entrepreneur Frankie Grima who described Sulemain as a violent person, the Moviment Graffitti spokesperson said that it is well known that Grima's establishments have long established a racist policy. "The credibility of this witness is obviously very doubtful." Callus also said that one of the witnesses, Ashley Conti, a dancer at the club where the Sulemain incident took place, admitted that she had filmed the incident on her mobile phone but deleted the footage. After being asked to pass her phone to the police as it was still possible to retrieve the footage she had claimed that she lost the phone. "Where was the prosecution in front of all this?" asked Callus. "We believe that in the case of Sulemain a very bad message was put across, that is violence committed on African persons is less serious than violence committed on others," Callus said. Callus added that migrants are often advised by legal aides to plead guilty to get over with proceedings and court rarely grants migrants bail. "Additionally, the police do not take cases of violence on migrants seriously. The problem does not lie at the feet of individuals but the problem, lies within the system."

He added that the case "reflects a wider system where African people are treated differently by the institutions." Callus added that the prosecution was basically absent and Sulemain was often referred to as 'l-iswed'. "We think that this is symptomatic of a justice system that treats immigrants in an unequal way." During Sulemain's court case, there were at least six references to the victim Suleiman Abubaker as the 'black man' (l-iswed) when words failed both lawyers and witnesses in spelling out the Sudanese victim's name. The references were made by witnesses Ashley Conti and Christian Tanti. Judge Michael Mallia and prosecutor Maurizio Cordina also referred to the victim as the 'black man'. Callus said that the death of Al Shzliaoy has "deeply shocked migrants and has installed fear in the community." He also appealed to the authorities to stage "a fair, honest and serious trial once the culprits are captured."

Last Sunday, the police appealed to the public to assist them in identifying and arrest two men - presumed to be Eastern European nationals - in connection to the brutal beating of Osama Al Shzliaoy in the early hours of Saturday. In a highly emotional address, a migrant present at this mornings' press conference called on the police and other authorities to publish more pictures and CCTV footage of the assault on Al Shzliaoy which took place in almost the same spot in which Sulemain was beaten three years ago. The migrants' expressed their fear that the same thing might happen to them and said that they are concerned because the justice system is not working properly.
© Malta Today


Headlines 23 March, 2012


21/3/2012= The United Nations refugee agency and human rights groups voiced strong concern Wednesday at what they said is a spike in racist attacks as social tensions rise in crisis-afflicted Greece. The organizations said a pilot program they launched to monitor such violence has uncovered “extremely troubling” trends, including attacks by black-clad radicals patrolling the streets of Athens with dogs. More than 60 attacks were recorded between October and January, and 12 of the victims were severely injured, representatives of the UNHCR and Greek groups told a press conference. They claimed that Greek authorities show no interest in recording racist attacks, in some of which members of the police have allegedly played a part. “The matter of racist violence is not on the government’s agenda,” said Costis Papaioannou, head of the National Committee for Human Rights. Greek police had no immediate comment.

Debt-crippled Greece is due to hold national elections in the next two months amid rising anti-immigration sentiment — with polls showing strong gains for the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn group. Greeks have seen their living standards plummet in more than two years of harsh austerity, implemented to secure vital international rescue loans. Unemployment has reached record highs while the economy is fast shrinking. Meanwhile, the country remains Europe’s busiest entry-point for illegal immigrants, who cross the porous border with Turkey in tens of thousands every year. Their arrival in Athens and other major cities has coincided with a surge in crime and inner-city decline. Papaioannou said the financial crisis has exacerbated racist violence.

“Since the crisis broke out, Greeks have absolutely become more xenophobic,” Papaioannou said. “The same happened in other recession-hit countries, and (in Greece) it has coincided with the intensification of immigration.” “We have large groups of marginalized people, both Greeks and immigrants,” he said. “And the first group blames the second.” He said one particularly worrying aspect is the large number of attacks by organized groups. A joint statement from the UNHCR in Greece and another 18 rights and migrant groups said racist violence “is spreading at a terrifying pace, and threatens the country’s already damaged social cohesion.” “In the current conditions of financial crisis, recession, fracturing of the social fabric and rapid marginalisation of sections of the population, the phenomenon is threatening to go out of control,” the statement said. The groups urged Greece’s government to create a network that will record cases of racist violence, issue specific guidelines for police to investigate such incidents and ensure that culprits are prosecuted.
© The Associated Press



21/3/2012- Police in New York recently arrested a man for setting an ashram and a mosque on fire this past New Year's. The charges against him, in addition to those we might expect, included charges of hate crime. The arrested man had declared that his aim was "to kill as many Arabs, Indians and Muslims as possible". The charges in this case reveal the basic characteristics of hate crime. There is always the "basic crime", the element that is defined as criminal by the law irrespective of motivation, and then there is the fact that the perpetrator consciously selects his victims according to various criteria. From the victims' point of view, those criteria are integral characteristics of their personality. In the New York case the perpetrator's criteria was that of religion, but it could have been ethnicity, language, nationality, skin color, etc.

The term "hate crime" has come into use now, but some say a more precise term would be "bias crime ", because it captures the fanaticism of this kind of crime. In addition to this fanatical bias, hate crimes are often also described as "symbolic crime", not because their results are somehow intangible, but because they serve as a warning to the entire group that has been attacked. Unlike other types of crime, these crimes do not merely concern the people immediately affected by them, but send a "message" to an entire community (although environmental crimes can also have a significant impact on many more people than those immediately affected). This "message" aspect makes the societal impact of hate crime much more serious than that of classic crime. Through its attitude toward hate crime, society lets the affected community or group know that it is aware of this seriousness. Hate crimes are punished with longer sentencing because they threaten the social values of equality and peaceful coexistence (and society behaves symbolically through its legal system).

In other words, hate crimes have enormous potential, not just to marginalize vulnerable groups, but to directly polarize society and incapacitate its functioning by putting the trust that citizens feel in one another at grave risk. By increasing tensions in society, a crime of this type represents a threat to the security of the state and to the peaceful coexistence of citizens as one of society's fundamental values. Irrespective of the fact that the victims of hate crimes are mostly members of variously-defined minorities, we must realize that this kind of crime can be and is committed against majority-society members as well as by minority members against one another. It is very important that hate crime not be solely understood as an extraordinary legal concept for the protection of minorities, but for the protection of all of our fellow citizens. It is a great error to view the punishment of hate crime as a measure that only protects vulnerable groups. On the contrary, it must be accepted in the interest of society as a whole.

Naturally, it is always more possible for members of the majority society to manifest hatred by committing crime, and this is why the majority society bears the responsibility of setting stricter rules for punishing such crimes. However, under no circumstances are such rules established for the purpose of some sort of unconditional or unjustified protection of minorities, as those who advocate intolerance of minorities would often like to convince us. Hate crime not only reduces citizens' trust in one another, as we have already noted, but the lack of a response to it strengthens the victimized community's feelings of isolation and vulnerability and also reduces its trust in the legal system generally. That is why the state is obliged to reveal the "hateful" nature of this kind of crime. When hate crime is ignored, it contributes to the fragmentation of society, which is why almost all legal systems in the European Union take the specific nature of this crime into account. However, in general it is never sufficient to leave everything up to the legal system for punishment, as that route can also be counterproductive. The tools that civil society has available to it are even more important, such as:
• community work;
• educating the majority society, especially teaching young people the values of mutual understanding and tolerance;
• increasing contact between various groups;
• publicizing the often horrifying damage done by these crimes;
• producing high-quality statistics to follow trends in hate crime and the establishment of proper compensation to victims;
• training of justice system workers in how to detect hate crimes, how to approach victims with sensitivity, etc.

In this area, as in many others, we cannot rely only on already-existing procedures and processes, but we must also engage in social innovation with an emphasis on the prevention of hate crime. This function is served by several nonprofit, non-state organizations. For example, the European Network against Racism (ENAR) publishes an annual Shadow Report on each EU Member State describing the NGO sector's alternative view of discrimination and racism, the experiences of victims, and also giving examples of good practice. In its summary report for this year, ENAR draws attention to the broader social context of hate crimes: "Another clear connection made by these findings is the relationship between the political atmosphere, represented, for example, by the rise of ultra-right parties, and the rise of hate crimes, as is presented in the reports on Greece, Italy and Slovakia." The report also points out that even though there are vulnerable members of very diverse groups in each Member State, most victims of hate crime are afraid to report it or are not aware of the tools at their disposal in the event of this specific kind of crime. We must realize that every single one of us could find ourselves the victim of a hate crime at any time. The only thing we will be able to rely on in that case is society's clear position that such crimes are to be rejected and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Selma Muhiè Dizdareviè, head of the Department of Civil Society Studies, Faculty of Humanities, Charles University in Prague, Vice-Chair of the Czech Helsinki Committee.
© Romea



22/3/2012- A community is standing up against racism after a sickening attack on a white man who was walking with his black friend. Nearly 100 residents gathered in Nelson Road, where college tutor Norman Maciver was viciously beaten three weeks ago, to show that racism and other hate crimes will not be tolerated in Whitstable. Sidonio Givandas, 48, an artist and musician from Mozambique, who was with Mr Maciver when he was attacked, joined the men, women and children outside Windy Corner Stores and Cafe on Monday afternoon. He said: "I think this has been a wake-up call. This is not only about race. "Violence is violence and we don't want that in our community. Everybody can stop this happening again – scream or make some noise and someone will come and help. I also think we should speak to schools about educating children about racism and violence. "I have had so much support from the community. People have sent me letters and cards and knocked on my door to see if I am okay. It has been beautiful. Let's keep our fingers crossed that the people who attacked Norman see this and feel sorry for what they have done."

The informal group has taken on the Home Office's anti-hate crime slogan – "Challenge it, report it, stop it" – to encourage every member of the community to take responsibility for preventing this type of crime. A letter, signed by 29 residents and business people, was sent to the Times setting out the group's feelings. Mr Maciver could not attend the gathering as he returned to his job, as a chemistry tutor for Kent College at Kent Science Park, near Sittingbourne, on Monday. He will work three days a week for a while, returning full-time after the Easter holidays. He said: "I was really touched and quite emotional about the number of people who turned out on Monday. "I wish I could have been there. I agree with what they say about everybody taking responsibility – maybe a Neighbourhood Watch scheme would be a good idea. "I am feeling better, the bruises have just started subsiding but I am still on strong painkillers and anti-inflamatories. Everyone has been amazing – I feel I've got a lot of friends here."

Mr Maciver said he was satisfied that police are taking the attack seriously and said officers have been in touch several times to keep him up to date with their progress. He was left with two black eyes, a split lip that needed four stitches, suspected broken ribs and bruising all over his face and body after the attack on Friday, March 2. It happened after teenagers taunted Mr Givandas, who ran to get help. Ward councillors Phil Cartwright and John Wratten, also turned out to support the residents. Councillor Cartwright said: "It's frightening. I never thought I would come across racism in Whitstable. I'm not saying everyone should go in all fisticuffs if they see an attack happening, but make some noise, blow a whistle, shout and scream to attract attention and scare the offenders away. Debating group Whitstable Sceptics, which meets monthly at the Horsebridge Centre, has been moved by the attack to discuss the issue of racism at its April get-together.
© This is Kent



Police hunting a gunman suspected of killing seven people in southern France have surrounded a house in Toulouse.

21/3/2012-The 24-year-old Frenchman from Toulouse has said he belongs to al-Qaeda, Interior Minister Claude Gueant said.  Police are now negotiating with the man, who said he acted in "revenge for Palestinian children" and French military operations abroad. Two police officers were injured in exchanges of fire during the raid and the suspect's brother is under arrest. The man's mother, who is Algerian, has been brought to the scene, but Mr Gueant said she had refused to become involved as "she had little influence on him". The minister said the suspect had made several visits to Afghanistan and Pakistan. "He claims to be a mujahideen and to belong to al-Qaeda," Mr Gueant said. "He wanted revenge for the Palestinian children and he also wanted to take revenge on the French army because of its foreign interventions." The man shot at the door after police arrived, Mr Gueant said, injuring one officer in the knee and "lightly injuring" another.

One official told Agence France-Presse the suspect had been "in the sights" of France's intelligence agency after the first two attacks, after which police had brought in more "crucial evidence". French media have linked the suspect to a group called Forsane Alizza (Knights of Pride) that was banned by Mr Gueant last month. They also say the suspect had earlier been arrested in Kandahar, Afghanistan, for unspecified but not terrorist-related criminal acts. The BBC's Hugh Schofield in Paris says investigators report the suspect's first name as Mohamed and that he was identified because of an email message sent to his first victim about buying a scooter. The message, sent from the suspect's brother's account, set up an appointment at which the soldier was killed, sources told AFP. The man had also sought out a garage in Toulouse to have his Yamaha scooter repainted after the first two attacks. A scooter was used in all the attacks.

Our correspondent says the house in Toulouse is a five-storey block of flats and the man is on the ground or first floor. Police wearing helmets and flak jackets have cordoned off the area and prosecutors say other operations are under way to track down possible accomplices. The brother was reportedly arrested in another part of Toulouse and a second brother has attended a police station, French media say. A huge manhunt had been launched after Monday's shooting at a Jewish school that left four people dead, and the killing of three soldiers in two incidents last week.

Memorial services
The funerals of the rabbi and three children killed on Monday are due in Jerusalem in the coming hours. Israeli police said they expected thousands of people to attend. The attacker gunned down Jonathan Sandler, a 30-year-old rabbi and teacher of religion, his two young sons Arieh and Gabriel and then - at point blank range - the head teacher's daughter, seven-year-old Myriam Monsonego, in Monday's attack at a Jewish school in Toulouse. Their bodies were carried out of Ozar Hatorah school on Tuesday in two black hearses and taken to a nearby airport. A military jet then flew them to Paris, from where they were placed on a commercial flight to Tel Aviv. They have now arrived in Israel.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe has accompanied the relatives of the dead to the funerals in Jerusalem. Also on Wednesday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy is to attend a memorial service for the three soldiers killed in the two attacks last week. All three were of North African descent. Another soldier from the French overseas region of Guadeloupe was left critically ill. Socialist presidential candidate Francois Hollande and Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right Front National, will attend the memorial service in Montauban. After Wednesday's raid took place, Ms Le Pen said the "fundamentalist threat has been underestimated" in France.
© BBC News



19/3/2012- French police are linking the shootings of four people at a Jewish school in Toulouse to the killings of three soldiers of North African descent in two separate incidents last week. The same gun and the same stolen scooter were used in all three attacks, sources close to the investigation say. A teacher and three children were shot dead at the Ozar Hatorah school, and a teenage boy was seriously injured. One of the biggest manhunts in France in recent times is now under way. Investigations are pursuing two principal lines of inquiry: an Islamist motive or the far right.

High alert
President Nicolas Sarkozy, who flew to Toulouse in the wake of the attack, described it as a "national tragedy". He said a single person had carried out all three attacks and that an "anti-Semitic motive" seemed obvious. Guards are to be posted outside all faith-based schools, as well as all Jewish and Muslim religious buildings, he said. Mr Sarkozy has also placed south-west France on the highest level of terrorism alert. All schools in France will observe a minute's silence on Tuesday morning at 11:00 (10:00 GMT). The latest shootings took place as parents were taking their children to the school on Monday morning. Witnesses said the gunman pulled up on a scooter and began shooting at an area which serves as the drop-off point for the school's nursery- and primary-age children. "This man alighted from his moped and, as he was outside the school, he shot at everybody who was near him, children or adults. Children were chased right into the school," local prosecutor Michel Valet told journalists. The scooter - a black Yamaha - was stolen in Toulouse on 6 March, five days before the first shooting. Its number plate was picked up by closed-circuit TV cameras at the school, police sources said.

The dead were Jonathan Sandler, a 30-year-old rabbi and teacher of religion originally from Jerusalem, and his two sons, aged three and six. The fourth person killed was a seven-year-old girl, Myriam Monsonego, daughter of the head teacher. She died in her father's arms. Mourners in Toulouse gathered at the school for an overnight vigil, while in Paris, thousands marched through the streets to show their sympathy for the victims. There was also a remembrance service at the Nazareth synagogue in the French capital. All the dead were dual French-Israeli nationals and will be buried in Israel, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said. A 17-year-old boy was seriously hurt. The head of Toulouse's Jewish community told the AFP news agency the boy had undergone several operations but he was likely to recover. Initially, the killer used a 9mm gun, but when it jammed, he switched to a .45 calibre weapon. Police say the .45 was the same gun used to kill three soldiers in two separate shootings in Toulouse and the nearby city of Montauban last week. All three were of North African or Caribbean origin. A paratrooper out of uniform was shot dead in a residential area of Toulouse just over a week ago, while two soldiers were killed and a third wounded as they used a cash machine in the town of Montauban, some 29 miles (46km) away, on Thursday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it a "a loathsome murder of Jews, which included small children" and said an anti-Semitic motive could not be ruled out. All the candidates in the French presidential election have suspended campaigning. Mr Sarkozy said his campaign would remain suspended until Wednesday at the earliest, when he is due to attend the soldiers' funerals. As well as Mr Sarkozy, opposition Socialist candidate Francois Hollande visited Toulouse to offer his condolences. Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen called on the authorities to do everything to prevent another such attack. In the UK, Foreign Secretary William Hague condemned the attack. "This act of calculated cruelty will unite all decent people in revulsion and condemnation," he said. The BBC's Hugh Schofield, in Paris, says not since the 1970s and early 80s have there been lethal attacks like this in France on Jewish targets. And even then, children were never the primary victims, he says. Six people were killed and 22 injured in an attack in 1982 on a Jewish restaurant in Paris. France has the largest Jewish community in western Europe, numbering some 500,000.

By Hugh Schofield BBC News, Paris

It is now established beyond doubt that the three incidents in Toulouse and Montauban were the work of the same man. He used the same gun, rode the same 500cc Yamaha scooter, and acted with the same cold-blooded brutality. But why the widely differing choice of targets: soldiers and Jewish children? One theory is that the man is a deranged far-rightwinger. It is noted that the three dead soldiers were of North African origin, and a fourth who was injured is from the French Caribbean. The killer has a clear affinity with guns. Could he be a neo-Nazi type - maybe an ex-soldier or a member of the criminal underworld - with a hatred of all minorities, Jews and Muslims? Some have gone further - indirectly pointing the finger at President Sarkozy for recently raising sensitive issues such as halal and kosher meat in the run-up to the presidential election. This tactic, they say, gives credibility to the far-right and 'delegitimises' the Muslim and Jewish communities. The problem with this theory is that it is not yet established that the killer deliberately targeted Muslim soldiers.
© BBC News



A gunman shot dead three children and a rabbi at a Jewish school in Toulouse on Monday, days after killing three soldiers nearby, prompting French President Nicolas Sarkozy to put the region on its highest terrorism alert.

19/3/2012- With the attacker, who escaped on a motorbike, still on the loose, police stepped up a manhunt in the city of a million people in southwestern France. Sarkozy said the killings and those of the soldiers, one of Caribbean and two of Muslim origin, in two attacks last week, appeared to be motivated by racism. Mourners gathered for an overnight vigil at the Ozar Hatorah school in a leafy residential neighborhood in Toulouse, where the gunman went on the rampage on Monday morning, killing a 30-year old rabbi Jonathan Sandler, his children aged four and five, and another child, the daughter of the school's principal. The 7-year-old girl, Miriam Monsonego, died in her father's arms as medics tried to resuscitate her. "He came on his motorbike, got off and shot a bullet in the air... Then he got out another gun and started shooting at everyone, at the children. He chased us into the school," Baroukh, a Jewish man living nearby who had come for morning prayers, told Reuters, declining to give his family name.

Military police reinforcements were rushed into the area and guards were deployed at mosques and synagogues in the region. In the United States, New York police ramped up security at synagogues and other Jewish institutions citywide. Video surveillance footage showed the gunman bursting into the school and shooting one child at close range in the head, before fleeing on a motorbike, said Nicolas Yardeni, regional head of the French Jewish umbrella association, CRIF. It was the worst anti-Semitic incident in France since August 1982, when six people were killed in a grenade attack and subsequent shooting at the Goldenberg restaurant in a Jewish neighborhood of central Paris. France's 600,000-strong Jewish community is Europe's largest. Sarkozy and Francois Hollande, the Socialist opposing him in his uphill bid for re-election in May, both rushed to the scene. "Barbarity, savagery and cruelty cannot win, hate cannot win. The republic is much stronger than all this," Sarkozy said, announcing a minute of silence in schools on Tuesday. "One can imagine that the bloodthirsty madness was linked to racism," Sarkozy said, declaring he would suspend his campaign until Wednesday, when he would attend the soldiers' funeral.

Sarkozy said the gun used in the school shooting was the same one used to kill the three soldiers by a lone gunman who also escaped on a motor bike. He said the terrorism alert in the region around Toulouse had been raised to scarlet, its highest level. Some 120 investigators were working on a manhunt for the killer and had already identified the license plate of the motor bike used in the attack, police sources said. The gunman used a second gun when the first jammed, the Toulouse prosecutor said. Police cordoned off the school, where well-wishers had begun to lay wreaths of flowers outside the bullet-marked walls as a line of police stood guard. Hearses arrived carrying the bodies of the victims for an overnight vigil attended by sobbing parents and relatives. Hundreds of mourners in prayer caps gathered at the main mosque in Toulouse, a bustling university town which is a hub for Europe's aerospace industry including aviation manufacturer Airbus. In Paris, thousands staged a silent evening march in central Place de la Republique, while political leaders joined a solemn remembrance ceremony at the grand synagogue.

"I saw two people dead in front of the school, an adult and a child ... Inside, it was a vision of horror, the bodies of two small children," one father, searching for his son at the school among crowds of distraught parents and children, told RTL radio. "How can they attack something as sacred as a school?" As messages of condolence poured in from across Europe, representatives of France's Jewish community voiced their solidarity. In the past decade, there has been a string of attacks on synagogues and Jewish schools, which educate some 30,500 children in France. "I am horrified by what happened outside a Jewish school in Toulouse today. It has bruised by body and my soul," said Gilles Bernheim, France's chief rabbi. The Israeli embassy in Paris said the bodies of all four victims would be flown to Israel for burial as soon as possible at the request of their families. "Today we had a savage crime in France that gunned down French Jews, among them children," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters in Jerusalem. "I'm sure that Nicolas Sarkozy, the president of France, and his government will do their utmost to find the killer and we in Israel will do everything to help them in this task. "

Public prosecutor Valet said investigators were studying video evidence from the school shooting and the attack on Thursday in the nearby town of Montauban that killed two soldiers and left a third seriously injured. The three men, aged between 24 and 28, were shot while in uniform as they tried to withdraw money from a cash machine close to the barracks of the 17th parachute regiment. A female witness told French television the masked attacker appeared to have a tattoo on his face when he lifted his visor. A third soldier, aged 30, was killed the previous weekend in Toulouse. In the wake of the attacks, French media reported that two members of the 17th regiment had been expelled for neo-Nazism in 2008, prompting speculation of a racist motivation. The shootings could thrust security back to the top of the agenda in a bitter electoral campaign that has been dominated by issues of taxation and immigration. "This is not just one school, Jews, or just one city which have been affected but all of France," Hollande said in Toulouse. Stephane Rozes, head of CAP political consultancy, said the shootings were unlikely to have a decisive impact on the election outcome as all candidates had strongly condemned the violence, including far right leader Marine Le Pen. Le Pen said politics and the election campaign should be kept out at times like this. "There is no more right or left, there is only the French people, wounded in its heart."
© Reuters


19/3/2012- The number of anti-Semitic acts reported in France last year fell, but there’s still a hotline staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week to report such incidents in the country. Jews in France for the most part live in safety and participate freely in French public life, and most anti-Semitic acts target property and not people. But the existence of the hotline speaks to the fact that anti-Semitism often lurks just below the surface. An attack Monday outside a Jewish school in the southwestern city of Toulouse that killed a rabbi and four children was a stark reminder of how dangerous that hate can become. It was the most deadly attack targeting Jews in France since the early 1980s.

Jewish graves — and Muslim ones — are frequently desecrated; the prime minister recently suggested that kosher slaughter was out of sync with modern times; and just last week, threatening letters were sent to two synagogues in Paris, including one that called Jews “Satan” and warned they would go to Hell. France is particularly sensitive about its Jewish community, estimated at 500,000 people, because of its World War II past of abetting Nazi occupiers in deporting Jewish citizens. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose maternal grandfather was Jewish, has worked to improve relations with Israel in recent years.

The toll-free hotline is maintained by the Protection Service for the Jewish Community, a group whose sole mission is to help provide security for synagogues and for large Jewish celebrations. The Protection Service, which tallies reports of anti-Semitic acts each year, said that while the number in 2011 fell to 389, the aggressiveness of the attacks was rising. In 2010, 466 were reported. Those acts include everything from violence to vandalism. The service was created in 1980 after a bomb in the saddlebag of a motorbike killed four people and wounded nine at the synagogue on Rue Copernic in central Paris.

France is home to Europe’s largest populations of both Muslims and Jews, and many anti-Semitic attacks are linked to conflict between the two communities in the Middle East. The majority happen in the French capital, and a Jewish leader in Toulouse expressed shock that his southwestern city was targeted. “Toulouse was always integrated. We didn’t have any problems of integration or security problems,” said Bouaz Gasto, vice president of the Association of Reform Jews of Toulouse. “That’s why we always thought that this would never happen here because we didn’t have any particular worry.”

He said that most of the approximately 15,000 Jews in Toulouse trace their origins back to North Africa, like many in France, and the community is fairly traditional but always well-connected to other communities in the city. Toulouse, for instance, has never had a traditionally Jewish quarter, despite the community’s significant size in a city of about 440,000. “There have been a few incidents, like everywhere. But we never focused on them,” Gasto said. But in recent years, Gasto said religion — and anti-Semitism — has crept more into the public debate, pointing to the current presidential campaign, which was recently seized with a controversy over ritually slaughtered meat. When he was growing up, “we didn’t used to pay attention to who was what, who was who,” he said.

Several French and European Jewish groups spoke out in horror at Monday’s attack. A gun used in the shooting also was fired in attacks against paratroopers of North African and French Caribbean descent last week, fueling speculation that a killer is targeting French minorities, and not only Jews.
© The Associated Press



19/3/2012- The number of attacks against Jewish interests in Switzerland increased in 2011, according to anti-racism organisations. Swastikas on synagogue doors and overturned Jewish gravestones are just two types of anti-Semitic incident reported by Jewish groups last year. People were also the target of attacks: in December an Orthodox Jew was beaten up in Geneva, while others reported death threats and insults. According to Cicad, the intercommunity coordination against anti-Semitism and defamation, 130 cases of anti-Semitism were reported in western Switzerland in 2011, up from 104 the year before. In the German-speaking area, there were 112 cases – 76 of them on the internet – according to the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities and the Foundation against racism and antisemitism (GRA). In 2010, it reported 34 incidents. Both organisations said on Monday the worst incident had occurred last March when unknown assailants shot at the window of a Jewish school in Zurich. The school was empty at the time and no one was hurt. In Basel the entrance to a synagogue was defaced with a swastika, and gravestones were overturned. In 2011 for the first time the Federation of Jewish Communities checked out anti-Semitic abuse on the internet.
© Swissinfo



19/3/2012- Vandals have desecrated a Jewish cemetery in Poland with swastikas and antisemitic slogans sprayed on tombstones and memorial plaques. The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland says the desecration occurred Sunday night in Wysokie Mazowieckie, a town in eastern Poland. The vandals also wrote "This is Poland, not Israel" on one sign. The foundation's director, Monika Krawczyk, said police are investigating the case, which is the worst such act of vandalism this year so far. Similar cases of antisemitic desecration occurs from time to time in Poland, a country that was home to Europe's largest Jewish community in Europe before it was nearly wiped out by Nazi Germany in the Holocaust. Today the Jewish community in Poland is tiny.
© The Associated Press



A Jewish group says a Holocaust memorial has been vandalized in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.

23/3/2012- Oleksandr Nazar of the city’s Sholem Aleichem Jewish Culture Center said Friday that unknown assailants on Wednesday smeared red and blue paint over the memorial in central Lviv.He said the vandals also wrote a statement on the memorial which “humiliates both Jews and Ukrainians.” Nazar said Friday that activists have cleaned off most of the paint and that Lviv police have launched an investigation. Lviv, a vibrant center of Jewish life before the Holocaust, is now home to a few thousand Jews, according to Nazar. Some 1.4 million of Soviet Ukraine’s 2.4 million Jews were executed, starved to death or died of disease during World War II. Jewish groups complain that anti-Semitism persists in Ukraine.
© The Associated Press



19/3/2012- Last week she was raped, choked, thrown into a pit on a construction site and set on fire. In order to save her life, doctors have amputated her feet and her right arm. She has also lost her kidneys and 55 percent of her skin. The case of Oksana Makar, an 18-year-old girl from Mykolayiv, on the Black Sea coast, has caused a furore in Ukraine. Her family has set up a website for donations to help them seek justice and pay medical costs. But the horror of the assault has taken back stage to the fact police let two of the suspects walk free, in all likelihood because their parents had good connections with local authorities. President Viktor Yanukovych and Ukraine's general prosecutor Viktor Pshonka have now taken charge of the matter and all three suspects are in custody. But their reaction to events, which saw street protests and an eruption of anger on social media, masks a grave problem in Ukrainian society and politics - contempt for the law by people in authority.

"If you are the son or the nephew of someone with power, you can basically go around acting with total impunity. Nepotism and lack of respect for the rule of law is rife in Ukraine. If you look at Yanukovych's son [Oleksander] - he has become one of the 100 richest men in the country since his father came to power. This kind of thing doesn't happen in a normal country. This really is the borderland of Europe," a Kiev-based EU diplomat told this website. The President's other son, Viktor junior, is an MP who rarely shows up in parliament and who has been filmed so drunk that he could not get into his own appartment. Neither issue has harmed his position. The phenomenon of untouchable relatives has its own name in Ukraine - "mazhory" - and the list of disturbing cases is already long.

Serhiy Demishkan, the son Yanukovych associate and senior civil servant Volodymyr Demishkan, in 2007 confessed to the murder of Vasyl Kryvozub, who was force-fed vodka and thrown into a river with bits of a radiator tied to his neck. Serhiy Demishkan was set free in 2010, three months after Yanukovych came to power, on grounds that he suffers from skin cancer. Dmytro Rud, the son of a prosecutor in the town of Dnipropetrovsk, in 2010 ran over and killed three women in his Toyota Prado then drove away. He is free on bail. Roman Landik, the son of a pro-Yanukovych MP, last July in a restaurant in the town of Luhansk approached a young woman, Maria Korshunova, threw a drink at her, punched her repeatedly and dragged her round the floor by her hair. She ended up in hospital. He walked free with a suspended sentence. "People come to me and ask for help as if Ukraine was an EU member state and I was the European Commission. But there is very little I can do," another Kiev-based EU diplomat told this website. When the EU ambassador in Ukraine, Jose Pinto Texeira, last month spoke out against corruption, the Ukrainian foreign ministry published a statement saying he is unfit to do his job because he should stick to promoting good relations. A Ukrainian contact told EUobserver Texeira should shut up because Ukraine never got an EU membership perspective.

Meanwhile, the journalists who expose what is going on do not have an easy time. Last year, Mohammad Zahoor, the Pakistani owner of Kyivpost, an English-language daily, fired his editor after he ran a story which embarrassed a Yanukovych minister. The editor was reinstated when staff went on strike. EUobserver understands that Zahoor sacked him because the Ukrainian government threatened his other business interests in the country and that he backed down because foreign diplomats, who like the paper, intervened behind the scenes. Ukrainska Pravda, an investigative online publication, is arguably the biggest thorn in Yanukovych's side. In recent months it ran a series of features on his multi-million-euro lakeside mansion (his official income is about €100,000 a year). "The only reason they haven't been shut down is because they are protected by the legend of Gongadze," an EU diplomat said, referring to the murder of Ukrainska Pravda reporter Georgiy Gongadze in 2000, which caused a political storm that helped usher in the Orange Revolution in 2004. Gongadze's severed head was never found and the person who ordered his killing remains at large.
© The EUobserver



17/3/2012- There was a verdict in the wrenching Rutgers webcam spying case, but no resolution to a broader question that hovered over it: To what extent are hate crime laws a help or a hindrance in the pursuit of justice? The gist of the verdict: Former Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi was convicted Friday of anti-gay intimidation for using a webcam to spy on his gay roommate's love life. The roommate, 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, threw himself to his death off a bridge not long after realizing he'd been watched. While disavowing any sense of celebration, some gay-rights leaders commended the outcome as a vindication of hate crimes legislation. "We do believe this verdict sends the important message that a 'kids will be kids' defense is no excuse to bully another student," said Steven Goldstein, chair of Garden State Equality. In other quarters, there was dismay at the use of New Jersey's hate crimes law in the case, and at the verdict that could saddle 20-year-old Ravi with a prison sentence of 10 years or more despite a dearth of evidence that he hated gays. "It illustrates why hate crime laws are not a good idea," said James Jacobs, a law professor at New York University. "They were passed to be admired and not to be used."

A longtime gay rights activist in New York, Bill Dobbs, also was troubled by the case. "As hate crime prosecutions mount, the problems with these laws are becoming more obvious ... how they compromise cherished constitutional principles," Dobbs said. "Now a person gets tried not just for misdeeds, but for who they are, what they believe, what their character is." Hate crime laws have been an American institution for decades, and are on the books in 45 states. Generally, they provide enhanced penalties for crimes committed out of racial, ethnic or religious basis, while the laws in about 30 states, including New Jersey, also cover offenses based on sexual orientation. In 2009, Congress followed suit, expanding federal hate-crimes legislation to cover crimes motivated by bias against gays, lesbians and transgender people. The bill is known as the Matthew Shepard Act, in honor of the gay college student brutally murdered in Wyoming in 1998. According to the latest FBI statistics, 1,528 people were targeted by anti-gay hate crimes in 2010 — accounting for almost 19 percent of all reported hate crimes.

Lambda Legal, a national gay-rights legal group, said the Ravi verdict underscored the value of hate crime legislation. "Hate crime laws are public statements that our government and our society recognize the deep wounds inflicted when violence is motivated by prejudice and hate," said the group's deputy legal director, Hayley Gorenberg. "The verdict ... demonstrates that the jurors understood that bias crimes do not require physical weapons like a knife in one's hand." Asked about the debate over hate crime laws, Gorenberg stressed the need to consider the plight of victimized gays and lesbians, especially young people. "If this is the case that propels us to wholesale reconsidering of hate crime laws, we're missing the boat," she said. "I'd urge people to rethink a different question — what's going on in our schools and society such that we have young people experiencing invasions of their privacy, harassment, discrimination and despair, sometimes ending in tragedy." Some conservative legal groups campaigned vigorously against the Matthew Shepard Act, dubbing it a "thought crimes" bill that would potentially criminalize anti-gay speech as well as anti-gay violence.

"These laws serve only one purpose — they criminalize thoughts and beliefs that are not considered politically correct," said Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund. "There's a clash and a conflict — I don't know that it's here yet, but it's coming — with freedom of expression and freedom of religion," Stanley said. Jacobs, the NYU professor, has depicted hate crime laws as unnecessary and counterproductive, albeit popular among certain politicians. "It's one thing to pass them, and everyone is proud to say they're opposed to hate and bigotry," he said. "Yet occasionally these laws are used in cases like this (the Ravi trial)... What he did was immature, stupid, wrong, but to make this a poster case for hate crimes shows the weakness, the whole misapplication of the idea." For the American Civil Liberties Union, which strives to defend both freedom of expression and gay rights, hate crimes legislation can raise some complicated questions.

Chris Anders, the ALCU's senior legislative counsel for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, said the organization supports aspects of federal hate crimes policy that allow for federal intervention in cases where state or local officials are deemed to be remiss. However, he said the ACLU has been concerned about the possibility that hate crimes trials could make use of evidence not directly related to the crime — a defendant's past comments or reading material, for example. Anders said the ALCU withdrew its support for the Matthew Shepard Act because it did not include certain language addressing this concern. "In our view, hate crimes statutes focused on violent acts can be constitutional, whereas those focused on discriminatory speech are not," Anders said. He recalled that during debate on the Matthew Shepard Act, many Republicans assailed it and many Democrats lauded it. "Most of these things are much more nuanced, and it's hard to get people to focus on that," Anders said.
© The Associated Press


Headlines 16 March, 2012


The number of recorded anti-Semitic acts in French-speaking Switzerland increased by 28% in 2011 from the previous year, CICAD, a Geneva-based body that coordinates the fight against anti-Semitism and defamation, announced in its annual report.

12/3/2012- This increases is a cause of concern for the Jewish community, said CICAD President Alain Bruno Levy during the presentation of the report. A total of 130 anti-Semitic acts (against 104 the previous year), of which 6 are considered “serious” and 5 “grave” were recorded. 2011 is the year that recorded the highest number of serious incidents since the beginning of the census in 2003. Beyond the figure increase, it is more the nature of these acts that is of of concern to the CICAD, because it they are primarily physical attacks or death threats and insults. In Lausanne, the assistant of a rabbi was beaten by three men while in Geneva an Orthodox Jew was stabbed in the street as he was visiting the Natural History Museum with his family. The increase of anti-Semitic acts also corresponds to a growing use of new communication tools.

Bruno Alain Levy also noted the resurgence of prejudice toward Jews. "The conspiracy theory resurfaced, especially via the internet. the conflict in the Middle East also fuels anti-Semitism," he said, also stressing the increaing presence of extreme-right groups in French-speaking Switzerland. According to the association, "Internet users are ore creating their blogs and comments on articles to vent their anti-Semitic hatred. Using the pretext of freedom of expression, activists intend to impose a "right to discriminate and to defame." "The release of anti-Semitic speech is somewhat alarming," said Johanne Gurfinkiel, CICAD Secretary General, who stressed the importance of educating publishers of social networks or online media not to trivialize anti-Semitism and defamation. In its report, CICAD made a series of recommendations regarding the fight against anti-Semitism for the education world, elected officials and the media. Around 18,000 Jews live in Switzerland, mostly in Geneva and Zurich.
© EJP News



Germany's religious communities are standing shoulder to shoulder following the sending of obscure, threatening letters to mosques and the Jewish Community of Berlin. 

13/3/2012- The letter was sent mid-February. An eight-page missive to the Sehitlik Mosque in the Berlin district of Neukölln, a large building immediately adjacent to the disused Tempelhof airport. Offensive, abusive letters are unfortunately nothing new. But there was something different about this racist pamphlet. Its contents were reminiscent of the crazed ideas of the Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik. The letter also contained an unambiguous threat: All Muslims should leave Germany by 1 August at the latest – otherwise acts of violence after Day X could not be ruled out. It ended on a cynical note: "Yours sincerely – the leaders of the Reich Movement". The chairman of the Mosque association, Ender Cetin, is not talking about fear at this stage. "We won't be frightened by them," he says. "But it certainly leaves us feeling uncomfortable." And he is not alone. The letter has in the meantime been sent to recipients in Lower Saxony, Hamburg and Baden Württemberg. A spokeswoman for the intelligence authorities in Stuttgart, Baden Württemberg's capital, said it had appeared on numerous occasions: "We know these letters," she added, saying she would not say to whom they had been sent. But it is known that the Jewish community in Berlin also received the letter.

Right-wing extremist propaganda on the Internet
The threats are being issued by a Nazi group calling itself "Die Reichsbewegung – Neue Gemeinschaft von Philosophen" (The Reich Movement – New Association of Philosophers). Their website is on a US server, putting it out of the reach of German investigators. Tracks also lead to New Zealand. In the letter, the group expresses its commitment to the "resurrection of the German Reich", as "part of the Holy Atlantic Reich of European Peoples". The website stirs up hatred against Jews and denies the Holocaust. Investigators do not know much about the group, and describe it as a "backroom debating club". The intelligence agency in Berlin assumes that it is isolated within the right-wing community. "Fortunately, the letter is finding pretty much no resonance there," says an employee. The contents of the letter are so obscure that one could easily imagine its author or authors to be crazed cranks. Those in charge at the Sehitlik Mosque also initially considered just throwing the letter in the bin. But the series of murders perpetrated by the terrorist cell National Socialist Underground (NSU) and the attacks carried out by Breivik have shown what rightwing extremists are capable of.

Increasingly violent disposition
This was the reason why the Sehitlik Mosque did eventually decide to take the letter to the police. Security authorities are alarmed, and officials have launched an investigation into what they see as an incitement to hatred and violence. Berlin Chief of Police Margarete Koppers perceives a "low threshold" to violence among elements of the rightwing scene. "We do have to factor in the deployment of weapons," she said this week at a panel discussion called on the issue at the old Tempelhof airport restaurant. How best to deal with letters such as these? Anyone publishing them gives attention to the authors and encourages potential imitators. Nevertheless, the Sehitlik Mosque and Berlin's Jewish community has decided to go on the offensive. The panel debate on the issue was held together with representatives of Germany's Protestant and Catholic churches. "This letter is intended to spread a climate of fear," said Wolfgang Klose, Chairman of the Berlin Diocesan Council. "And we must resist it."

Protestant minister Elisabeth Kruse also expressed support for the publication of the letter. Her Genezareth (Galilee) congregation, also in the district of Neukölln, sent a letter of solidarity to the Sehitlik Mosque. "That's what being neighbours is all about," said Kruse. It is important, she went on, to put up one's hand and say: "We've heard about it and we're on your side." Kruse said the threats affect everyone: "They trample underfoot values and rights that we pursue and enjoy. At that point we're not separable into "them" and "us" categories," said Kruse.

Joining forces against racism
The various religious communities are generally moving closer together. The panel discussion was the first event organized by an association known as the "Treffpunkt Religion und Gesellschaft" (Meeting Place for Religion and Society). Its establishment has been long in the planning, and should be completed in May. The association draws together the two major churches, the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (Ditib) and the Jewish Community of Berlin. Their general aim is to encourage greater dialogue between religion and society – a matter concerning many worshippers in a city not famed for its religious affiliations. But the association also aims to address the issues of racism and resentment as a way of countering extremism more effectively, says Maya Zehden from the Berlin Jewish Community. For her, the most important point is that: "We are all German. Germans with a Jewish background, Germans with a Muslim background, and Germans with a Christian background. And as German democrats, we must stand together." For the targets of the letter, experiencing the solidarity of other religious communities has sent out an important signal. Speaking at the panel discussion Pinar Cetin, a member of the Sehitlik Mosque congregation and fellow regional chairman of Ditib, said that actions of the NSU, debates tinged with anti-Muslim sentiment and general resentment had seriously undermined the trust of young Muslims in Germany: "There is discrimination happening on a daily basis that we just don't talk about," she added. She had a clear message for the authors of the letter: "None of us are planning to emigrate by August. Whoever wrote that letter, they can forget it."
© Qantara



14/3/2012- Belgium’s Muslim leaders called for calm on Tuesday after an attack on a mosque in a suburb of Brussels killed the imam and injured another man shortly after evening prayers. Belgian media reported that the attacker was a member of the Salafists, a strict order within the Sunni branch of Islam, and said the incident was linked to tensions within the Muslim community. This could not be independently verified. Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo condemned Monday’s incident in which an unidentified man armed with an axe and a knife entered a Shiite mosque in the district of Anderlecht and ignited a can of fuel, setting the building ablaze. The imam, named by police as Sheikh Abdallah Dadou, died from inhaling toxic fumes. The second man escaped with minor injuries, authorities said.

Around 10 people were in the mosque when the attacker entered, police said. The assailant was overwhelmed and detained until authorities arrived. “My first thoughts go out to the victim and those close to him, and I strictly condemn the violence used,” Di Rupo said. The head of Belgium’s Muslim community, Semsettin Ugurlu, issued a statement calling for calm. Around five percent of Belgium’s 11 million people are Muslim. “The Muslim executive of Belgium invites Muslims to unite their efforts and improve dialogue between all cultural strands of the community,” Ugurlu said. The Brussels public prosecutor said authorities were still trying to confirm the identity of the suspect and the motive. After the attack, a crowd gathered outside the mosque but there were no disturbances.


Headlines 9 March, 2012


Unknown attackers threw firebombs at a synagogue in Russia, the Interfax news agency reported on Tuesday.

6/3/2012- The attack took place during the late hours of Monday night in St Petersburg, some 650 kilometres north of the capital Moscow. The building, located in a working-class neighbourhood of the Baltic port city, was not damaged, nor was any synagogue staff injured, the report said. One of the devices, a bottle filled with petrol, ricocheted off the synagogue wall and may have injured the attacker, a synagogue spokesman said. Anti-Semitic incidents take place regularly in Russia, particularly in major cities with relatively large Jewish populations. Attacks usually take the form of anonymous attempts to damage Jewish-owned property, with physical assaults taking place less frequently. Perpetrators are often nationalist extremists. Last year, swastikas were painted by unknown people on the doors and walls of a Jewish cultural center in St Petersburg.
© EJP News



6/3/2012- Michaël Privot, Director of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), received a death threat following his participation in a live web-chat on freedom of expression, organised by Belgian weekly magazine Le Vif/L’Express on 28 February 2012. The threat against ENAR’s director was posted anonymously on the magazine’s webpage. He has lodged a complaint today for incitement to racial hatred and violence. The European Network Against Racism is very concerned by this manifestation of racial hatred and violence, and calls the Belgian judiciary to take the necessary measures to prevent incitement to hatred now and in the future. The proliferation of hate speech on internet platforms makes clear the need for systematic and preventative measures. It is also worrying to note that this incident is the latest in a series of threats directed at representatives of ENAR member organisations in several countries (including Doros Polykarpou from the organisation KISA in Cyprus, Jallow Momodou from the National Afro-Swedish Association in Sweden, and Andreas Hieronymus from the Institut for Migrations- und Rassismusforschung in Germany), not to mention the numerous individuals across Europe who face racist violence (whether verbal or physical) on a daily basis. ENAR Chair Chibo Onyeji said: “This latest incident shows that the climate of hatred and intolerance against migrants and ethnic and religious minorities in Europe has direct and very real consequences on individuals’ safety and well-being. We urge both the Belgian and EU authorities to finally take concrete steps to address these threats to the peace, security and cohesion of our societies.”
© EUropean Network Against Racism



A father was kicked and punched to the ground in front of three young children in what police have described as an attack "driven by racial hatred".

5/3/2012- British Transport Police (BTP) said the man, aged 28 and from eastern Europe, was at Tottenham Hale Tube station in north London when he was assaulted by four men on 26 February. The group made racist comments towards the children, police said. Investigating officer PC Craig Murray said the attack was despicable. The victim was returning from a Russian festival with his three-year-old daughter and his partner along with a friend and their two children, when the men got on the train and started making racist comments. Mr Murray, from BTP's Hate Crime Unit, said the victim was punched in the face and knocked to the ground before being further attacked by the group after he got off the train at Tottenham Hale.

'Vulnerable children'
A witness called police and a full search of the surrounding area was carried out, but the men had already left the area. "This attack was despicable. Not only was it unprovoked and completely driven by racial hatred, but it was carried out by a group against a victim who could not have defended himself in front of three very young and vulnerable children," Mr Murray said. "Both the Tube service and the platform at Tottenham Hale would have been busy at the time and I'm sure many people will have witnessed the attack or perhaps noticed this group of men fleeing the scene." The man who officers believe to have been the main instigator is described as white, approximately 6ft 1in tall and of average build. He had a shaven head and stubble on his face and was wearing a green jumper, blue jeans and trainers. The rest of the group are believed to have been wearing Arsenal football tops. Officers would like anyone who witnessed the incident, which happened between 18:00 and 19:00 GMT, to come forward.
© BBC News



4/3/2012- Most of the complaints filed at the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) by viewers in 2011 were against TV hosts who were allegedly involved in hate speech or discriminatory behavior based on religion, language or ethnicity on the screen, a 2011 RTÜK report has shown. In 2011, TV show hosts and participants received the most complaints from viewers by 17 percent for allegedly engaging in discrimination based on religion, ethnicity or language, followed by programs that are allegedly involved in discrimination by 13 percent, while 11 percent of the complaints were filed due to the cancellation of some TV programs. TV show hosts such as Müge Anlı received the highest number of complaints due to their “discriminatory” statements on television, leaving complaints filed against some TV series far behind. The most controversial discriminatory statements were made by Anlı in the aftermath of a powerful earthquake that hit the eastern province of Van last October, which is predominantly Kurdish, when Anlı attempted to link the cause of the quake with the ethnicity of the people in the region. The quake hit at a time when acts of violence perpetrated by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) against security members escalated. Being blind to ethnic divisions, Turkey became mobilized to extend a helping hand to the people of Van where hundreds of people were killed, while thousands of others were left homeless in the quake.

TV show host Anlı, defied the collective sentiment by saying on air: “Police officers, who were targets of little children sent out [by adults] to throw stones at every opportunity, were the first to rush to the disaster scene. … May those hands that threw stones at them be broken. Those who threw stones -- kill them on the mountaintops whenever you want to. Let's set things straight. In difficult times, the police are the best [for the people of the area]. … It is not that simple. Everyone should know their place.” Anlı's remarks were met with widespread outrage and anger. In January, the İstanbul Prosecutors' Office announced that it has not found legal grounds on which to take action against Anlı in an investigation launched against her. Lack of hate crime legislation in Turkey makes prosecutors fall short of legal grounds to investigate individuals like Anlı over their discriminatory statements. Hate speech is a form of expression that spreads and promotes hatred based on intolerance and animosity towards individuals or groups.

Hate speech not only inflicts psychological damage on the victim but also tends to incite hate crime, which can be defined as a criminal offense motivated by prejudice or hostility based on somebody’s ethnicity, national identity, religious beliefs, social status, sexual orientation or disability. Although such crimes have reached unprecedented levels, they commonly go unpunished. According to Cengiz Alğan, chairperson of the Association for Social Change’s steering committee, it is a must for Turkey to define in its penal code what constitutes a hate crime and set certain punishments for hate crime offenders. Speaking to Today’s Zaman in a phone interview, Alğan also said journalists’ associations and media organizations should set their own codes of ethics to prevent those working in the media from engaging in hate crime. “Journalists and correspondents should be given training to this effect. Every media institution should set fundamental ethics rules,” said Alğan, adding that the BBC’s ethics code could be taken as a model for the Turkish media in order to prevent hate speech on screen. Habertürk TV’s Duygu Canbaş’s statements about the Van quake were no less offensive than Anlı’s, as she said: “Even though the quake took place in Van, we are in great pain.”

Day time TV shows like that of Anlı’s -- a marriage show -- received 30 percent all the complaints filed in 2011. They were followed by dramatic TV series, which received 29 percent, commercials with 14 percent, news bulletins with 4 percent, ‘last survivor’ programs with 3 percent and sports programs with 3 percent. Referring to the public disturbances caused due to hate speech on TV, Cafer Solgun, a Kurdish-Alevi writer and activist, told Today’s Zaman that it is a big shortcoming that Turkey does not have a law on hate crimes and the effects of this shortcoming are felt more strongly every day. “Although programs starring TV hosts who were involved in hate speech have been cancelled, no other sanctions are imposed on them. And we keep waiting to see which TV host will be the next to use offensive remarks against a certain group in the society,” he said, stressing the urgent need for hate crime legislation in Turkey. In 2010, Star TV talk show host Mehmet Ali Erbil received harsh reactions from Alevis when he associated them with debauchery and incest on his program, which has since been canceled. He drew the ire of Alevi groups when he made a joke on live TV about “mum söndü” (the candle was blown out) -- a phrase used to refer to Alevi religious ceremonies pejoratively and and which suggests participants supposedly turn to debauchery and incest. Star TV decided to discontinue Erbil’s program.

Solgun said civil organizations like the Confrontation with the Past Association, which he heads, are lobbying Parliament for the preparation of a law on hate crime in Turkey. “Although none of the parties in the Parliament has voiced opposition over the need for such a law, none of them have yet taken any action to this effect,” added Solgun. Controversial statements by sports commentator Ahmet Çakar, also a former referee, andRasim Ozan Kütahyalı about an ongoing match-fixing probe in Turkey during a sports program on Beyaz TV last December triggered complaints against a sports program for the first time, according to RTÜK’s report. RTÜK issued a warning to Beyaz TV following the complaints. During the program, Çakar and Kütahyalı accused Fenerbahçe President Aziz Yıldırım, who was jailed as part of the rigging probe, of involvement in match-fixing, violating the RTÜK law which says, “Everyone is innocent until proven guilty.”
© Today's Zaman


Headlines 2 March, 2012


27/2/2012- The German police opened an investigation following an outbreak of anti-Semitism and racism incidents during the training of the Bundesleage 1. FC Kaiserslautern on Sunday, German public broadcasting corporation SWR reported Monday. Israeli FCK soccer player Itay Shechter was targeted with anti-Semitic statements, and two stadium visitors reportedly welcomed the FCK soccer players with a Hitler salute. A police spokesman said the elements of the offense probably fall under the category of incitement to hate, according to the report. The soccer club asked the authorities and police to strongly pursue the matter and evaluate the criminal aspects. The FCK called on the approximately 300 participants who were present on Sunday to help with the investigation. The police, who were present on the game, did not eject the participants due to "deescalation reasons."
© The Jerusalem Post



A prominent member of France's Socialist Party, Arnaud Montebourg, and his journalist partner were leaving a Paris restaurant on Tuesday when they were surrounded by some 15 far-right supporters who threw glasses at them and shouted racial epithets. 

1/3/2012- A top figure in France's Socialist party and his journalist partner were attacked by a crowd shouting anti-Jewish slogans and chanting support for the far-right National Front, they said Wednesday. Arnaud Montebourg and Audrey Pulvar, a prominent broadcaster, said a group of about 15 men surrounded them as they left a restaurant late Tuesday and shouted "Le Pen for president", referring to far-right leader Marine Le Pen. They also shouted "France for the French" and "Juden, Juden, Juden" (which means Jews in German) before throwing glasses at the couple as they left the restaurant in Paris' chic 16th district, Pulvar said in Twitter messages. The incident came just days after Pulvar gave Le Pen a grilling in a weekend television show about her alleged association with European neo-Nazi groups. "This shows that there is a climate within Mrs Le Pen's (National Front) where racist speech is made freely," Pulvar told AFP. Le Pen, who opinion polls put in third place in the presidential vote in April and May, said "obviously I condemn this type of aggression." But she added: "You cannot consider, before the police have done their work, that these people are people from the National Front." Francois Hollande, the Socialists' presidential candidate, condemned the attack on Pulvar and Montebourg, who stood against him in a party primary last year to pick a contender for the presidential vote. "It is unacceptable to attack a person for his ideas and to do it in a cowardly manner with shouts, insults, with glasses thrown and with remarks that border on anti-Semitism and racism," he said. An opinion poll published Tuesday by IFOP said Hollande would take 28.5 percent of the vote in the first round, against 27 percent for President Nicolas Sarkozy. Le Pen would come in third place in the first round with 17 percent, the poll said.



27/2/2012- A man suspected of stabbing a migrant in the Moscow metro whilst dressed as a wartime German soldier has been arrested just outside Moscow, the Ministry of Internal Affairs website reported on Monday. The 25-year-old man from Khimki near Moscow entered the metro in May 2011 dressed in a wartime Wehrmacht uniform. He began insulting people of non-European appearance and giving the Nazi salute, and then stabbed a migrant passenger in the chest. He was arrested on the February 13, 2012, but the arrest was not previously reported. Upon searching the man’s apartment, investigators found radical literature, swastika stickers, and videos from the Russian National Union, an organization recognized as extremist. The suspect was a member of an informal right-wing youth movement, investigator say, and regularly kept in touch with neo-Nazis abroad.
© RIA Novosti


Romea.cz has interviewed Emil Voráè, chair of the Khamoro association, about his impressions of the recent arson attack in Aš. The association is based in Chodov near Karlovy Vary and works throughout the entire region, including Aš, running drop-in facilities for children and youth, a citizens' advice bureau, and performing field social work.

2/3/2012- "An arson attack or something like that could have been somewhat expected, because it seems to me that racism and xenophobia are rising here and the situation is just getting worse. That's my experience of working in various commissions and committees in the Karlovy Vary region. Their members behave like xenophobes in many cases - I don't understand why they are sitting on the commissions in the first place," Voráè said in an interview for Romea.tv. Two masked, unidentified men attacked a residential hotel in Aš where two Romani families and other people live, throwing at least three Molotov cocktails at it. One bottle hit the window of one of the tenants' rooms, another struck the building's main door, and the third was thrown at the window of a room called the "hall", a common room where all those living in the residential hotel can gather. The residents put out the fire on their own. No one suffered physical injury.

Police are investigating the case as one of racially motivated reckless endangerment. "We have initiated criminal proceedings in this matter for the crime of reckless endangerment and at this moment we cannot rule out that this might have been racially motivated. The perpetrator's motivation is essential for determining the crime irrespective of what the perpetrator actually managed to achieve. We are still performing all necessary investigations and searching for the perpetrators. We have taken the measure of reinforcing police patrols in Aš with police officers from Cheb," Martina Hrušková, spokesperson for the Cheb Police, told news server Romea.cz.

Some of those living in the residential hotel told news server Romea.cz they believe the motivation for the attack could not in any way have been increased criminality on the part of Romani people in the area. Hrušková said that "in the territory of the Aš district division we have noted a slight decline in crime compared to January and February 2011."
© Romea



2/3/2012- Despite a fall in numbers compared to the 1990s, extreme right-wing movements in the Czech Republic are becoming more discreet and sophisticated and widening their range of targets, a report commissioned by the Czech Ministry of Interior says, warning that neo-Nazis and other groups may resort to terrorism.
According to the 50-odd page report authored by political scientist Miroslav Mareš and several contributors, a rise in racially motivated attacks can be expected over the next five years. While the ethnic Romany population will continue to be the target of violence, the report says far-right groups are increasingly focusing their attention to resistance to multiculturalism and immigration to the Czech Republic.
“Calls to form home defense units (which came from the [banned] Workers Party) against Vietnamese present a risk because they could lead to an escalation in ethnic violence,” the report published on Thursday states. Mareš says in the report an increase in violent attacks can be expected due to: worsening economic conditions; increasing social exclusion; mainstream political failure by extreme right-wing parties; and the influence of foreign white supremacist groups.
There are currently around 4,000 extreme right-wing activists in the Czech Republic, the report says, with an especially active core of around 400 leaders and ideologists. The core of the movement is now formed by the free nationalist and autonomous nationalist movements, which operate in coordinated regional cells as opposed to adhering to a national leadership, the report says. 

‘The Russian way’ of terrorism

“Within the neo-Nazi scene, which is attempting to work out courses of action, terrorist concepts influenced in part from Russia (the so-called ‘Russian Way’), are being propagated,” the report states. It notes that numerous Russian judges who have sentenced neo-Nazi activists have been attacked — and several murdered (though no right-wing militants have been convicted for the homicides). “It’s necessary to monitor whether the Czech neo-Nazi scene will adopt similar tactics in reaction to a wave of controversial trials,” the report’s author recommends, pointing out that the Czech far-right movement has close ties with similar organizations in Russia. The Ministry of Interior last year published an instructional booklet intended primarily for police chiefs under the title Extremism as a Security Threat warning of right-wing extremists infiltrating police ranks. The new report likewise warns that Neo-Nazi activists are drawn to the police force: “We can expect more conspiracies in this area than there have been before.” Similarly, right-wing extremists are attracted to employment with private security firms, which is a way for them to get firearms licenses. Mareš also draws attention to potential problems arising from the increasing use of private security firms in conflict zones, warning that some extremists have gained conflict or combat experience in this way.
Mareš and his colleagues also warn that some core members of extreme right-wing movements are attempting to influence public life, primarily on the local rather than national level. They do so by infiltrating mainstream politics by joining the major political parties, gaining positions in public organs other than the police, where “for the time being they covertly act in the interests of their ideological orientation.”

Change of image

Czech extreme-right wing organizations are turning away from the skinhead image, which was widely adopted by its activists and sympathizers in the Czech Republic in the 1990s. As well as the changing tastes of the younger generation of right-wing extremists, many of the activists prefer not to wear the politics on their sleeves, so to speak. “The neo-Nazi scene is not as visible as in 2008, but the number of activists remains the same,” the report says. Further, it warns that in response to a shift in ideological outlook — and with their perceived war on multi-culturalism in Europe and protecting European traditions — neo-Nazi groups will likely try to recruit sympathizers and active supporters by exploiting populist issues and opposition by conservatives and traditionalists to “liberal” tendencies such as same-sex marriages, as well as some stereotypical perceptions. 
“Today they manage to blend in with larger mass protests as was the case in the Šluknov district last year, where it was very difficult to tell who belonged to the neo-Nazi scene, and who were ‘ordinary citizens,’” the report says, referring to the large protests against a wave of attacks and a rise in crime in the northern Bohemian district last fall, which many local residents attributed exclusively to the growing Romany population.

Italian professionalism

The report also notes the influence of the Italian neo-Fascist movement Casapound, which spurns identification with the traditional image of the far-right and presents itself as a mainstream political movement beyond the confines of traditional left- and right-wing politics — although the party is openly anti-immigration. “Professionalism is a key characteristic of the neo-Nazi movement of the new millennium. In the case of Casapound, there is a managerial leadership and managers are groomed for specific activities,” the report says, adding that the movement makes a point of appealing to university students. "A part of the Czech neo-Nazi scene views Casapound positively precisely because the movement has managed to penetrate into everyday public life. ... they view the concept positively because they themselves are attempting to find a form more acceptable to society, thus the collections for dog kennels, cleaning refuse from woods and forests, help in the wake of floods, etc.,” the report states.
Mareš and colleagues say the best way to combat far-right extremism in the long-term is through educational programmes. Also in cases where school pupils have become involved in extremist groups, patient persuasion as opposed to in-school punishments such as suspension or detention are far more effective, they conclude.

The Czech Ministry of Interior has published a number of documents in English about the ministry’s “Fight against Extremism,” which are available here
© Czech Position



26/2/2012- Two masked, unidentified men threw Molotov cocktails at a residential hotel in the Czech town of Aš, home to two Romani families as well as non-Romani residents. One bottle struck a window and another struck the main door. Residents put the fire out themselves. Police are investigating the case as one of racially motivated reckless endangerment. No one was physically injured. Police have summoned reinforcements to Aš from Cheb to monitor the situation for the next few days. The attack has been condemned by Czech Deputy Prime Minister Karolína Peake (Public Affairs - VV). Mayor of Aš Dalibor Blažek said the residential hotel houses two Romani families and non-Romani workers. For the time being it is not clear how many people were put at risk. "The perpetrators were two men who were thin and about 180 cm tall. Police are asking any witnesses of this incident to call 158," police spokesperson Pavel Valenta said in a public statement. The attack took place at 2:30 AM in Nádražní street. The assailants then fled in the direction of Palackého street.

The Molotov cocktails damaged the plaster and set fire to the window of an apartment where people were sleeping. The main door to the building also caught fire, but residents put both fires out. "The fire didn't get in because the windows are double-paned and the bottle made it through the first pane only," Valenta told news server iDNES.cz. The Czech Press Agency has reported that firefighters intervened at the scene. The precise number of Molotov cocktails used in the attack was not given by the police spokesperson. "I was watching television. When I turned it off, I head a big crash, so I went to see what was going on. Flames were lashing out of the next window over," Bernard Hlaváè, one of the residents, told a reporter for Mf DNES. "When I ran outside I didn't see anyone," Hlaváè said, adding that a neighbor who was returning home at that time noticed two men whose faces were covered running away from the residential hotel. Police are now searching for the assailants. The police spokesperson said local patrols in Aš have been reinforced with police officers from the department in Cheb and that police have no new information yet.

"It's calm at the scene, police vehicles are patrolling the residential hotel, which is a freestanding building near the train station. No one is loitering around the residence, the street is totally empty. The Romani people living there are just fending off media photographers now," a witness at the scene told the Czech Press Agency. One window on the building has been burned and its exterior pane is broken. The main door is also smoke-damaged. Violence is not a legitimate way to express dissatisfaction and just produces unhappiness - those were some of the words used by Czech Deputy Prime Minister Karolína Peake in response to the incident today. "The Molotov cocktails thrown at the residential hotel in Aš make me very concerned about this sinister dissemination of aggression and intolerance," the Mediafax agency quoted Peake as saying.

Mayor Blažek said the residential hotel is currently neither 100 % Romani-occupied nor problematic in any way. "Workers live there, as do two Romani families who have never had any problems, never even had any idea of racism," he told the Czech Press Agency. He suspects the attack might have been motivated by revenge, because troublemakers, whom he says were not Romani, did live at the residential hotel previously and had to move out. He also said it was possible that news of the incidents in Šluknov district had influenced whoever did this. "Just seeing an unfamiliar group of Romani people is enough to make everyone nervous. We are doing our best to do everything we can to make sure the situation doesn't end up like in the north of Bohemia. We don't want any of those Workers' Parties marching here, because it's really not like that here, and that's why I greatly regret this," he added.

The mayor could not remember any similar incidents in the town. "Not even a pub brawl between Romani people and white people," he added. Blažek believes that if the crime was racially motivated, it could not have been committed by residents of Aš, but by people from elsewhere. Blažek said various Romani families have come and gone from the building, which once had many more Romani tenants than it now does. The town also monitors the residential hotels to make sure landlords don't exploit their tenants. "We visited that same building with the construction authority and the public hygienist to monitor it and the original owner was fined, so some significant repairs had to be done," he said.

Several assaults on Romani families' homes have taken place in the Czech Republic in recent years. The most famous remains the case from April 2009, when four right-wing extremists threw three Molotov cocktails into a small house in Vítkov (Opava district). Three people were injured during the subsequent blaze. A girl who was not yet two years old was harmed the most seriously. In March 2011 the perpetrators were sentenced to either 20 or 22 years in prison. The verdict was upheld last December by the Czech Supreme Court. In March 2010, a Molotov cocktail attack was committed on the home of a Romani family in the Ostrava settlement of Bedøiška. No one was injured and the police investigation found the motivation to have been a dispute between neighbors, not racism.
© Romea


25/2/2012- Three women identified by their lawyers as lesbians were arraigned yesterday on a hate crime charge for allegedly beating a gay man at the Forest Hills T station in an unusual case that experts say exposes the law’s flawed logic. “My guess is that no sane jury would convict them under those circumstances, but what this really demonstrates is the idiocy of the hate-crime legislation,” said civil liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate. “If you beat someone up, you’re guilty of assault and battery of a human being. Period. The idea of trying to break down human beings into categories is doomed to failure.” Prosecutors and the ACLU of Massachusetts said no matter the defendants’ sexual orientation, they can still face the crime of assault and battery with intent to intimidate, which carries up to a 10-year prison sentence, by using hateful language. “Someone who is Jewish can be anti-Semitic,” said ACLU staff attorney Sarah Wunsch. “The mere fact that someone is a member of the same class doesn’t mean they could not be motivated by hatred for their very own group.” But Carolyn Euell, 38, mother of two of the defendants, Erika Stroud, 21, of Dorchester and Felicia Stroud, 18, West Roxbury, told reporters the alleged attack “can’t be hateful” because both her daughters are lesbians.

Prosecutor Lindsey Weinstein said the two sisters and one of their domestic partners, Lydia Sanford, also a defendant, viciously beat the man Sunday, repeatedly punching and kicking him after he bumped them with his backpack on a stairwell. She said the victim, who suffered a broken nose, told cops he believed the attack was “motivated as a crime because of his sexual orientation” since the three women “called him insulting homophobic slurs.” But attorney Helene Tomlinson, who represented Sanford, told the judge her client is “openly identified as a lesbian ... so any homophobic (conduct) is unwarranted.” She said the alleged victim was the aggressor and used racial slurs: “He provoked them.” Felicia Stroud’s attorney, C. Harold Krasnow, said, “They don’t know what his sexual orientation is, just like he doesn’t know what theirs is.” Krasnow later noted the low bail the judge gave the women, $100 to $500 cash, and suggested the prosecution’s case was weak. Civil-rights attorney Chester Darling agreed. “No one should go to court. It’s knuckle justice,” he said. “It’s a fair exchange.” But Jake Wark, a spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley, said prosecutors will have no problem proving the women committed a hate crime, even if they are lesbians. “The defendants’ particular orientation or alleged orientations have no bearing on our ability to prosecute for allegedly targeting a person who they believe to be different from them,” he said.
© The Boston Hera;d



Plymouth's top cop said he would defy anyone "not to feel sickened" at a racist attack which left an Iraqi man hospitalised with a broken leg.

25/2/2012- Chief Supt Andy Bickley was speaking following a police appeal for witnesses to an incident at the Barbican at around 11.15pm on Thursday night. A 26-year-old Iraqi man told police he was followed by two men who accosted him in Quay Road, racially abusing him before beating and kicking him to the ground. During the alleged attack the man suffered a cut to his head and broken tibia. Police said the man had gone for a walk to the Barbican, taking a route through an alleyway between the Cider Press and Black Jacks pub, from Southside Street to the harbourside. He was followed by two men from outside Black Jacks along the cobbled area near the old Customs building. Police said the victim remembered seeing a man and a woman sitting in the outside area of the nearby Watering Hole public house and say they are very keen for the couple to come forward with information about the incident.

Investigators say members of the public intervened and called paramedics and police to the scene. The victim, who as lived in Plymouth for eight years, was taken to Derriford Hospital where he is awaiting surgery. Speaking under condition of anonymity, the man said: "I wasn't causing any problems, the men just attacked me. It was a racist attack – they called me an immigrant before attacking me. I've got a broken left and a cut eye which has been stitched. "The surgeon said I must have an operation on my leg today.". The attack comes just days after The Herald reported on a Chinese student who was savagely beaten as she walked home, and the jailing of "dangerous and racist thug" Ricky Moon for his part on an attack on a Sudanese man. Chief Supt Andy Bickley said the latest incident caused great concern and the police would robustly deal with offenders. He said: "I would defy any right minded person not to feel sickened when presented with the details of this vile attack. "The racially motivated nature of this and other recent attacks on our streets simply won't be tolerated "I have committed a team of specialist detectives, overseen by a senior officer, to investigate these crimes and bring offenders before the courts.

"I appeal to the vast majority of law-abiding people of Plymouth to work together at all levels to tackle discrimination and all incidents motivated by racism, prejudice or intolerance of others. "We treat all hate crimes reported sensitively and rigorously investigate allegations as recent court results have shown. "It's timely for people to ask themselves – is this the level of prejudice and bigoted behaviour something you want to be associated with as proud Plymothians? "This city has a tradition and history of celebrating all aspects of diversity and culture in our lives. "We must take a stand against individuals that challenge this. It's non-negotiable." Two men, aged 20 and 28 have been arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm with intent. Both have been bailed until May 8.
© This is Plymouth


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