ICARE Hate Crime News - Archive April 2012

Headlines 27 April, 2012

Headlines 20 April, 2012

Headlines 13 April, 2012

Headlines 6 April, 2012

Headlines 27 April, 2012

TOULOUSE SHOOTING SPOTLIGHTS PROBLEMS OF TRACKING HATE CRIMES IN EUROPE

25/4/2012- Jihadist websites eat up a fair share of Bart Olmer’s workday. He even has passwords to some closed hate forums. “Reading hate speech is part of the job,” says Olmer, who reports on intelligence services for Holland’s largest circulation daily, De Telegraaf. It’s an explanation he may need to repeat for security services on future visits to France, if that country's parliament passes legislation aimed at making it illegal to visit hatemongering websites. The legislation was among several measures proposed following the March 19 slaying of three children and a rabbi at a Jewish school in Toulouse. Parliament is to vote next month on the measures aimed at stopping “self-radicalized lone wolves” like the killer from Toulouse, Mohammed Merah. Leftist parties said they’d oppose the bills. Researchers and European politicians are split on France’s post-Toulouse legislation push.

Some want to use this opportunity to introduce similar legislation elsewhere in Europe while the Toulouse shooting is still in people’s minds. Others find it risky and “emotionally motivated,” favoring better law enforcement rather than new legislation. “In Western Europe we have the legislation we need: Murder and incitement are illegal,” said Mike Whine of the Community Security Trust, the defense agency of Britain’s Jewish community. “We need better application of existing laws. We need to ban more hate preachers from entering our countries, for instance.” Bruno de Lille, a Belgian minister from the Flemish Green Party who is a campaigner for gay rights, said legislation that originates in emotions should be avoided. “It’s often ineffective and jeopardizes basic values and liberties in a manner disproportionate to the contribution to collective security,” he said.

Whine and de Lille made their remarks at a conference last week in Brussels on monitoring hate speech and hate crimes in Europe. Titled “Facing Facts,” the conference was organized by a Brussels-based nonprofit called CEJI: A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe. The goal of the conference was to talk about how countries and nongovernmental organizations can better cooperate on monitoring discrimination. Joanna Perry, hate crimes officer for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, or OSCE, said at the conference that too many governments take a negative view of local watchdog NGOs that present them with figures about hate crimes that often are politically unsavory.

Ten governments -- including Greece, Estonia, Latvia, Moldova and Ukraine -- reported to the OSCE that their police forces had recorded fewer than 10 hate crimes in 2009. Portugal and Macedonia said they did not compile any data on hate crimes. Only nine members of the OSCE, the world's largest security-oriented intergovernmental organization, submitted official data on anti-Semitism in 2009, compared to 48 member states that did not. Other than in France, Perry said she “couldn’t point to any direct impact on policy or legislation” following the Toulouse shooting, though “it does raise awareness to the issue.” Robert Trestan of the Anti-Defamation League said he believes the Toulouse attack helped European governments and authorities “better understand that people who target Jews will often also target law enforcement agents. It’s something American authorities know very well.”

Two weeks before the attack at the Ozar Hatorah school, Merah murdered three French soldiers at Montauban. Merah admitted to all the killings during a daylong siege at his apartment on March 22, before he was killed by police in a shootout. “This understanding further motivates law enforcement agencies to monitor hate crime and hate speech because it helps them protect their own agents,” Trestan said at the conference. NGOs monitoring racism and hate speech also need to improve their performance, according to findings published at the conference.

A survey conducted by conference organizers showed more than half of watchdog NGOs in the European Union have no working definition for what constitutes a hate crime. Of the 44 NGOs surveyed, 27 reported that they had no system to verify complaints, and 17 did not share information with police. Beyond legislation, the Toulouse shooting already is changing how European governments monitor radicals, according to a Belgian civil servant who attended the conference. Since April 1, the Belgian secret service has been scrutinizing the comings and goings of suspected radicals more closely. “Before the shooting the issue was marginal. Now it’s a priority,” said the civil servant, who spoke under condition on anonymity. The post-Toulouse legislation in France also aims to outlaw trips abroad for weapons training. After the killing, security services learned that Merah had trained in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Hate crimes tragedies like the Toulouse shooting sometimes serve as a catalyst for change in the fight against extremism, according to Superintendent Paul Giannasi, manager of the UK interministerial program for fighting hate crime. He attended the CEJI conference as a representative of the British police. Public outcry following the 1993 murder of Stephen Lawrence, a black boy from London, by a gang of white extremists “brought on massive change” in how hate crimes are handled in Britain, Giannasi said. “Since then, authorities are actually encouraging more people to complain about discrimination.” It was a major change in policy for British crime fighters, whose performance is usually judged on crime statistics. “It was realized that more complaints about hate crimes don’t mean greater prevalence, just more awareness and trust in the authorities,” Giannasi said.
© JTA News

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NORTHERN IRISH SCHOOLBOY WITH ASPERGER SYNDROME SUFFERED ANTI-SEMITIC ABUSE

26/4/2012- Matthew Lough, a 14-year-old student at Carrickfergus College with Asperger syndrome, says he has suffered anti-Semitic abuse and was attacked physically following a History class on the Holocaust. According to Matthew’s mother, Sharon Lough, told the Guardian that the boy revealed during the class that his maternal great-great-grandmother was Jewish. She says a group of bullies began a campaign against him. “It started last year with the swastikas drawn on his books, he was called ‘Jew boy’ and one fellow pupil even told Matthew: ‘It’s a pity that the gas chambers were not still open so we could deal with you.’ This was before the physical assault,” Sharon Lough said. Carrickfergus College is a secondary school on the outskirts of the town of Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland. The harassment campaign against Matthew continued through the current school year, up until Easter.

“Because Matthew had reported the verbal abuse and the bullying, one boy took exception to this and during an attack on my son he kicked him in the head. Matthew later came home and started to complain of headaches. By this stage there was the lump the size of an egg on his head and my husband got very worried. When we eventually got Matthew checked out in A&E we were told that he had concussion from the kick.” Matthew told the BBC that the bullies had attached swastikas to his school bag and called him anti-Semitic names. “It kind of annoyed me and upset me but the real truck was when I was attacked in the woods during an orienteering exercise in PE,” he said. “The guy was suspended for five days. This year, it was a guy who was singing a song about how Hitler had gassed 6.5 million Jews, all happy and do-lallies.”

His mother said she the name-calling had continued, despite the suspension of two students. “We encourage Matthew to live, as much as he can. Aspergers does not change who he has ever been,” she told the BBC. “We don’t want him to be considered as a special case. He is a very intelligent child and very loving and very caring about people around him.” According to the Guardian, anti-Semitism is a minor problem compared with other hate crimes in Northern Ireland. Attacks there have been mostly directed at immigrant workers at Filipino and Chinese families, and the Roma. The latter were driven from their homes by attackers in south Belfast three years ago.
© The Jewish Press

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POLICE INVESTIGATE BURY PARK MOSQUE ARSON (uk)

26/4/2012- An investigation is underway after an arson attack at a Luton mosque in Bury Park in the early hours of April 2. Fire crews were called to the Bury Park Jamie Masjid in Bury, Park Road at 4.30am, after two large metal bins were pushed up against a door and set alight. The scene has been cordoned off by police while a fire investigation takes place. Detective Con Colin Knight, investigating the incident, said: “We’re keeping an open mind and appealing for witnesses. We don’t know at this stage what the motive was.” Speaking to The Muslim News the Mosque’s Secretary, Anwar Hussain, said the worshippers at the mosque and the Muslim community were angry about what had happened. “People are going to be very upset when they come for prayers,” he said. “But we will tell them to remain calm. “The investigation is ongoing but my opinion is that it was deliberate. “The police response has been very good, they will be checking CCTV footage from the cameras in the street, and we hope they will catch the culprits.” He added: “At his moment in time it’s too early to say whether this was just a one of act of vandalism or an Islamophobic hate crime. It’s the first time the mosque has been targeted and we don’t have problems with any extremists right-wing groups in the area.”

However, The Muslim News has previously reported similar attacks on other mosques in Luton. On May 5, 2009, just 100 metres down from Bury Park Mosque, the Islamic Centre in Bury Park Road was arson attacked. The centre’s building was gutted during the blaze in which “an accelerant” was used to speed up the fire causing “considerable damage” according to a police spokesperson. The Centre’s Secretary, Farasat Latif, said, “We strongly condemn this violent Islamophobic attack on our mosque. We believe that this attack was carried out by far-right extremists, an attack that could have led to many deaths. Over 90 children attend our centre daily. Had this happened at a different time, the results would have been catastrophic.” On July 22, 2011, Medina Mosque in Oak Road, just under half a mile away from Bury Park Mosque was also attacked. Shahid Ahmed, Imam at Medina Mosque reported, “We locked up the mosque at 11.30pm on Thursday night, everything was fine. When I returned at 4am for morning prayers I found the windows smashed. The words ‘EDL’ were painted on both sides of the mosque and a Swastika was also painted on one wall.”

Local businessman and regular worshipper at Bury Park mosque, Numan Hussain, told The Muslim News regarding the recent incident, “Even though the details of the fire are still being investigated it seems a strange coincidence that this is the third mosque in two years to be attacked in our small town. “This is very disturbing and is indicative of the rise in Islamophobia. The EDL are planning another march in the town on May 5 and I would not be surprised if there was not a direct relationship between their vitriolic hatred and our mosques being attacked. “We are a peaceful community who live in harmony with our neighbours. I have been attending the mosque since I was a child and never seen such a serious attack.”
© The Muslim News

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VANDALS DESTROY 55 JEWISH GRAVES IN SLOVAKIA

25/4/2012- Vandals destroyed 55 graves at a Jewish cemetery in Kosice, eastern Slovakia at the weekend, police said Tuesday. "Unknown perpetrators uprooted and smashed 55 gravestones, causing damage worth 50,000 euros (66,000 dollars)," police spokeswoman Jana Mesarova told AFP. "The vandals face up to five years in prison" should they be identified and apprehended, she added. In 2002, three boys, allegedly looking for gold, destroyed 135 graves at the same cemetery.
© EJP News

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NEO-NAZI FOLLOWERS ATTACK PASOK DEPUTY (Greece)

21/4/2012- PASOK deputy Petros Efthymiou was at the receiving end of an attack by a number of the neo-nazi Chrysi Avgi party at Maroussi in northern Athens on Saturday afternoon. Some 100 men chanted slogans against all politicians and abused Efthymiou, who was holding an election rally at the site, before hurling bottles of water and cups of coffee at him amongst other things. Noone was injured. Interestingly, the attack took place in front of two foreign television crews, including one from the BBC, that were filming reports on the rise of neo-nazism in Greece. All parliamentary parties condemned the attack, highlighting its coincidence with the anniversary of the coup d’etat 45 years ago that started the military junta of 1967-74. Chrysi Avgi leader Nikos Michaloliakos played down the incident saying on camera that the weather was warm enough and a shower with water can't have hurt Efthymiou.
© The Kathimerini

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CZECHS SENTENCED FOR PROPAGATING NAZISM VIA FACEBOOK

‘They threatened Arabs with forcible ejection, and Roma with zyklon B,’ said the presiding judge

23/4/212- The district court in Kroměříž, southern Moravia, has handed down three-year suspended sentences to five men charged with promoting Nazi ideals via the social networking site Facebook, the Czech state news agency ČTK reported on Monday. Prosecutor Robert Hanuš had successfully argued that the men used their Facebook profiles to publish videos with Nazi symbols and neo-Nazi themes as well as music with racist overtones. “In some instances, it was absolutely clear. They threatened Arabs with forcible ejection, and Roma with zyklon B [the deadly gas used in Nazi concentration camps], liquidation and the like. So there was nothing to debate,” said the presiding judge, Karel Rašín, as cited by ČTK. “They shared these texts, making them accessible to dozens of friends within their circles.”

The defendants — Tomáš Čermák (27) and Antonín Pohanka (28) of Kroměříž, Jan Chudárek (20) and Tomáš Pospíšilík (21) of Holešov, and Antonín Cápek (19) from Chropyně na Kroměřížsku — all claimed innocence, in part claiming they did not listen to the music for its lyrics; one song referred to burning Roma in chimneys. They had faced up to 10 years in prison. Although the verdict is not final, Chudárek and Pohanka waived the right to appeal, with the former saying he just wanted the trial behind him. In handing down the sentences, the panel of judges also noted that the defendants had incriminatinaaaag materials at home, showing their support for the extreme right, and the fact that some had taken part in rallies. There are currently around 4,000 extreme right-wing activists in the Czech Republic, according to a recent report commissioned by the Ministry of Interior, with about 10 percent of them especially active leaders and ideologists.
© Czech Position

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Headlines 20 April, 2012

BOSNIAN LESBIAN ABUSED BY FACULTY LIBRARIAN

After announcing that she was gay, a Sarajevo student says she was verbally abused by a librarian in the Philosophy faculty while her companion was physically attacked by a nurse

20/4/2012- Lamija Topcagic, a student of philosophy in Sarajevo, says she was verbally abused by the faculty librarian during an argument over whether she could donate blood, a gay association Okvir announced on Thursday. During a voluntary blood donation at the faculty on April 19, students were given forms to fill in before they donated blood. Three students, Lamija Topcagic, Nedzmina Seta and Amar Numanovic, noted that in the section entitled “Person who should not give blood”, it included “persons who have occasional or permanent sexual contacts with homosexuals”. Okvir said that since the students considered this wording discriminatory, they went to speak to the Dean who said the faculty had nothing to do with the content of the forms. Meanwhile a male nurse reportedly physically attacked Amar Numanovic and a librarian in the faculty called all three students “drug addicts” and “failed students”.

When Topcagic told the librarian she was not a drug addict but a lesbian, and the form for blood donation violated her rights, he answered: “If you were my child, I would kill you instantly,” and continued with other insults, Okvir said in a press release. The three students left the building and reported the case to the police.
"It is clear that both the male nurse and the librarian committed harassment as a form of discrimination,” Okvir said, noting that such actions were illegal. “Higher educational institutions are obliged to provide security for students, especially if they raise their voice to defend their rights,” Okvir added. The Faculty Dean, Ivo Komsic, told Balkan Insight that he had asked the police to inform him more about the events. “I cannot comment because I do not have enough information,” Komsic said, “The students did not come to me after that [the attacks].” He noted that the faculty only provided space for staff from the transfusion institute to come and take blood and had no responsibility for the content of the forms.
© Balkan Insight

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'HATE CRIMES AGAINST JEWS BECOMING MORE BRUTAL' (world)

Kantor Center's 2011 anti-Semitism report notes overall increase in hate crimes across Europe, Australia and Canada; says overall verbal threats, vandalism cases down 27% 

18/4/2012- The Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry presented its annual global anti-Semitism report for 2011 Wednesday, as Israel readies to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day. The report noted an increase in cases involving harassments and violence against Jews worldwide, singling out western Europe, Australia and Canada as three of the places most affected by the trend. Nevertheless, the Tel Aviv University based institute found that on average the number of verbal threats and vandalism cases against Jews were down 27% in 2011 with 446 incidents compared to 614 in 2010. The United Kingdom, France and Canada recorded an overall drop in hate crimes; Belgium, Australia and Ukraine demonstrated a similar number of incidents as in 2010 and Belarus and Lithuania saw a rise in anti-Semitic acts.

'Attacks' brutality escalating'
The data further indicated a rise in physical violence against Jews and Jewish institutions, noting an escalation in their brutality as well. According to the report, in 2011 42% of hate crimes against Jews were committed against individuals, while 20% saw synagogues targeted, and 6% targeted schools and community centers. In addition, in 14% of the cases Jewish cemeteries were vandalized and in 18% of the cases private property was vandalized. The data further segmented the nature of the assault, saying that firearms were used in 5% of cases, 17% involved verbal threats, 57% of hate crimes involved vandalism, and 1% involved arson. The Kantor Center further found that France held the dubious record for most hate crimes against Jews in 2011 – 114. The UK was second, with 105 reported cases; followed by Canada, with 68. Australia saw 30 reported cases of hate crimes against Jews, followed by Ukraine (16), Russia (15) the United States (13), Lithuania (6), Argentina (5), Switzerland (5), South Africa (3) and Tunisia, which noted only one reported case.

'Europe is a ticking time bomb'
Dr. Moshe Kantor, who presented the report, noted that 2011 saw an escalation in violence by Europe's militant far-Right, which is using social media platforms to spread its anti-Semitic agenda. Such sites, he noted, perpetuate the notion of a supposed global "Jewish conspiracy" that is responsible for every international event. Kantor warned that "Europe is a ticking time bomb. Anti-Semitism as well as hatred towards Jews and other minorities can erupt and sweep through Europe. Fighting anti-Semitism should be a value shared by all." He identified what he called "two triggers" which he said had the most impact on the frequency and nature of hate crimes – the situation in the Middle East and internal European issues. "Any developments in the Middle East – for instance, if Israel was to strike Iran – will have ramifications in Europe. Such a thing could spark grave anti-Semitism in every (European nation)."

Hatred towards Jewish communities across Europe, he added, is being underestimated by the governments. "About 20% of Germans harbor anti-Semitic notions. In smaller communities (throughout Europe) it's an overwhelming majority of 92% - and its not being dealt with. This is why it's so extremely dangerous." Dr. Roni Stauber, a senior research fellow at the the Kantor Center and one of the report's authors added: "We began compiling these reports in 2001 and while we were very strict at the beginning, about differentiating between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, in recent years it has become virtually impossible. "The data derived suggests that the propaganda promoted by the world's radical Left and far Right have meshed together the hatred for Israeli and that of Jews; and have created the perception that all Jews are 'in cahoots' with Israel, and therefore anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are the same."
© Ynet News

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BLACK FIREFIGHTER CLAIMS POLICE SHOT HIM WITH TASER IN RACIST ATTACK (uk)

A black firefighter claims a group of police officers assaulted him and shot him with a Taser gun in a racist attack when he offered to help them. 

20/4/2012- Edric Kennedy-Macfoy has lodged a complaint of alleged racism against six Metropolitan Police officers over the incident in which he claims he was also subjected to a tirade verbal abuse. The 28-year-old claims he was trying to tell police about a man he had seen hurl a rock at a police van when the group attacked him like “wild animals”. He said he was off-duty and driving through Harrow, north west London, when he witnessed the disturbance and had only pulled up alongside a line of police to tell them what he had witnessed. Mr Kennedy-Macfoy alleges the officers charged towards him, dragged him from his car and beat him, then shot him with the stun gun as he was walking backwards with his hands in the air. The case has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) – the 10th instance of alleged racism it has received in the last three weeks alone. The complaint also brings the total number of Scotland Yard officers currently under investigation for alleged racism to 26.

Mr Kennedy-Macfoy, from north London, was charged with obstructing police in relation to incident on September 4 but was cleared after a two-day trial at Brent magistrates court in February. During the trial, Inspector David Bergum, who was present on the night, said his officers were in a "stressful" situation and had been dealing with a group of partygoers who had been throwing missiles at them. Referring to Mr Kennedy-Macfoy, he told magistrates: "I couldn't say he was anything to do with the party. The party was all black. He was black. He had driven through the cordon. I had to do a quick risk assessment." Mr Kennedy-Macfoy, who also trained as a police officer, said he might not have pursued his case if police had not sought to prosecute him. He told The Guardian: "People make mistakes; you've got good cops and bad cops. People act differently under pressure. “If at that point they had just said: 'Mate, so sorry – we have been dealing with this party and got it totally wrong,' I really wouldn't have pursued anything. I would have accepted their apology and their acknowledgement that they had messed up."

Mr Kennedy-Macfoy's solicitor, Shamik Dutta, said: "The question many people are bound to ask is why an off-duty firefighter, wearing a pinstriped suit and offering assistance to the police, should have been dragged from his car, shot with a Taser, locked up for many hours and then prosecuted for an offence he did not commit by the very officers he was trying to help. "Our client now expects a comprehensive investigation which examines what role his race has had in the horrific events he has been forced to suffer." A Met spokesman said: “A complaint regarding the conduct of 6 officers was received on 21 September alleging that officers arrested and detained a 28-year old man without good cause, assaulted him during the arrest, that the officers were insulting and the way in which he was treated was motivated by factors relating to race. “Officers from the MPS Directorate of Professional Standards are investigating. Such allegations are taken extremely seriously and the investigation will explore all the circumstances and evidence. “The complainant has not alleged any racist comments were made. As a Taser was discharged this case is a mandatory referral to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.”
© The Telegraph

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FIVE HELD OVER INTERNET 'RACISM' (uk)

19/4/2012- Five suspected far-right extremists have been arrested by counter-terror detectives after race-hate material was posted online. They are being held after raids by the North-East Counter Terrorism Unit in North Tyneside, County Durham, Merseyside, Barnsley and London. A spokeswoman for the unit said: "All five men have been arrested on suspicion of offences under the Public Order Act, publishing or distributing written material which may stir up racial hatred." The arrests are being linked with a splinter group of the English Defence League known as the North West Infidels. A 43-year-old from North Tyneside, a 46-year-old from County Durham, an 18-year-old from Birkenhead, Merseyside, a 21-year-old from Barnsley and a 56-year-old from Holloway, north London, are being held. A spokeswoman said: "They have been taken to local police stations for interviewing. "Searches have now begun at the addresses, together with searches at an address in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, and Leeds, West Yorkshire."
© The Bournemouth Daily Echo

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POLICEMAN CHARGED WITH RACE-HATE CRIME AFTER SECRET RECORDING (uk)

17/4/2012- A Met officer was today charged with a race-hate crime after being secretly recorded abusing a black man he had arrested. Pc Alex MacFarlane will appear in court charged with a “racially aggravated public order offence” following the incident in east London in the wake of last summer’s riots. The crime carries a maximum six-month jail sentence. The decision, which comes after prosecutors initially decided against bringing charges, was announced today by London’s chief crown prosecutor, Alison Saunders. She said that it was “regrettable” that the original decision not to charge Pc MacFarlane was wrong, but prosecutors now believed that there was sufficient evidence to secure a conviction after reviewing the case. “I have taken the decision in this case that, as well as there being sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction, and a prosecution being in the public interest, a prosecution is necessary in order to maintain confidence in the criminal justice system,” she said. “It is regrettable that the original decision was wrong, but I hope the action taken and my decision today demonstrates the willingness of the Crown Prosecution Service to review its decisions independently and swiftly, and to take appropriate action where necessary.”

Pc MacFarlane is being charged under section 4A of the Public Order Act 1986 and section 31 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. Today’s decision follows an incident in Beckton when Mauro Demetrio, 21, was arrested over suspected driving offences following August’s unrest. After a complaint, prosecutors initially decided not to bring charges, reportedly on the grounds that the language would not have caused Mr Demetrio “harassment, alarm or distress” — the test used for the public order offence for which the officer has now been charged. Ms Saunders said that no charges would be brought over a separate allegation of “strangulation” made by Mr Demetrio because of inconsistencies in the various accounts of what happened. Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe has vowed to drive racists out of the Met after a spate of allegations against his officers. They have led Scotland Yard to refer 10 cases involving 18 officers and one civilian worker to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. Mr Hogan-Howe has pledged that police vans will be equipped with CCTV.
© The London Evening Standard

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POLICE HUNT MAN WHO RIPPED OFF MUSLIM WOMAN'S FACE VEIL IN SOLIHULL (uk)

17/4/2012- Detectives are hunting a man who grabbed a Muslim woman by the head and pulled off her face covering in a packed shopping centre. The thug approached the 26-year-old from behind in Solihull’s Touchwood shopping centre on Saturday, March 3 at 2pm. As she walked past the Disney Store he grabbed her head and ripped the veil from her face, throwing it on the floor before walking off. Police yesterday released CCTV of the man they believe is responsible in an effort to track the thug down. Chief Insp Kevin Doyle, of Solihull Police, said: “Reports of crimes like this are exceptionally rare both in Solihull and the wider West Midlands. “We are treating this incident as a hate crime as we believe the woman was deliberately targeted because of her faith, symbolised by her attire. I would urge anyone who recognises the man captured on camera to contact us as a matter of urgency.”

A spokesman for the Touchwood shopping centre said managers were aware of the attack, which took place during one of the busiest periods of the week, and were co-operating with the police investigation. She said: “Touchwood can confirm that police are currently investing an incident at the centre which occurred on March 3. “The safety and wellbeing of all our guests and staff is our primary concern and we are co-operating fully with the police on the matter.” A similar attack in Glasgow in 2010 resulted in man being jailed for two years after he admitted racially assaulting 26-year-old Anwar Alqahtani. William Baikie, also 26, ripped Ms Alqahtani’s niqab from her face near the city’s central train station.
© The Birmingham Mail

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17/4/2012- The homes of three migrant families were targeted in the town’s Redmanville estate during an Easter holiday period of shocking racism. A Polish family had their front windows smashed and the house splashed with paint during the early hours of Wednesday. An East Timor family’s car was attacked with eggs, the third time the family has been subjected to a racist incident. On the other occasions a window of their home was broken and the back window of their car smashed. Lithuanians living next door to the Polish family also had their front windows broken. All of the attacks happened within a small area of Westland Road, with police stating they were being treated as “racially motivated”.

The Poles - who did not wish to be identified - asked, “Why have they done this? We are a hard-working family who love Portadown and want to settle here. This will not drive us from our home.” The family consists of a father, mother and students son and daughter. The son, who speaks perfect English and hopes to do a Master Degree in languages, said, “It happened after 4am on Wednesday and we were awakened by the sound. There was a brick in the middle of the living room and we can’t understand why anyone would do this.” His mother, who speaks only Polish, was too afraid to have the family identified. Speaking through her son, she said that they loved the area and would not be moving out, but wished that people would leave them in peace.

Around the corner, Marianna Victr, originally from East Timor in Indonesia, said that she and her West African-born husband Fore had discovered the broken eggs on their car when he left for work on Tuesday morning. “We have five children and they all love it here,” she said. “Sometimes local children call them names, but that’s just children for you. We had a front window broken recently and the car back window smashed, but this won’t drive us away. “We work hard and the children like their schools here. Our eldest Bo-Fore (13) is at Clounagh Junior High School and has made many friends. By and large, people treat us well and we will not be leaving. We like work and having our children well educated. We pay our way and why should we be forced out. “We have been treated well. We lived at Fitzroy Street until our family expanded a couple of years ago and then moved here. We never had any trouble at Fitzroy.”

The Lithuanian family - whose homes was attacked on Sunday - were not available for comment as they were being interviewed at length by the police yesterday, but local neighbours said that all three families were quiet and hard-working and welcome in the area. One woman told the Portadown Times, “I’d go public, only these vandals would put a brick through my window. They’re a minority and a scourge on the area, while these migrants are useful members of society. You wouldn’t know they were there most of the time. They’re good neighbours and should be left alone to live their lives.” Police, meanwhile, have issued an appeal for witnesses to the “racist” incidents.
© The Portadown Times

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ARSON ATTACK ON BALLYMENA HOME TREATED AS A HATE CRIME (N. Ireland)

16/4/2012- A South African man's home has been substantially damaged in an arson attack in Ballymena. The fire at the flat on the Galgorm Road was reported at about 18:40 BST on Sunday. It was empty at the time. Racist graffiti was also painted on the building and PSNI officers said they were treating it as a hate crime. SDLP councillor Declan O'Loan said the attack "could easily have led to loss of life" and he urged the police to investigate it as attempted murder. "It is important that we send out the message that this kind of behaviour is unacceptable in Ballymena. "The best way to do that is to apprehend the culprits and put them before the courts," he said. The councillor added that there were "several thousand people from other countries" who played a valued part in the local community. "We need to reassure them that they are welcomed in Ballymena," Mr O'Loan said.
© BBC News

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'I WOULD HAVE DONE IT AGAIN' (Norway)

Anders Behring Breivik, flushed with boastful self righteousness, claimed that "goodness not evil" had caused him to murder 77 Norwegians, declaring: "I would have done it again." 

17/4/2012- The far Right killer showed not a shred of contrition or humility when the court in Oslo allowed him 65 minutes to read a personal statement on the second day of his trial. Breivik came close to arguing that he killed 67 members of the youth wing of the Norwegian Labour party, most of them teenagers, out of justified retribution. They were "not innocent", he said, but "young people who were actively working to uphold multiculturalism". Their organisation was comparable "to the Hitler Youth". Yet the man who said his crimes were designed to save Europe from destruction at the hands of radical Islam came out as an admirer of al-Qaeda. Osama bin Laden's creation was the "most successful revolutionary force in the world", said Breivik, and European ultra-nationalists had much to learn from its cell structure and "cult of martyrdom". He disclosed that his own bloodstained rampage through Oslo on 22 July last year had been a "so-called suicide attack" that he had not expected to survive. Yesterday's session consisted of nothing but Breivik stating his views and being cross-examined. As such, this hearing before a hushed and subdued court provided the first public insight into the worldview and mentality of one of the biggest killers in Europe's modern history. Crucially, it will also help the court to rule on the contested question of his sanity, which will decide whether he goes to prison or a mental institution.

On Monday, Wenche Elizabeth Amtzen, the presiding judge, said that Breivik's statement would take 30 minutes. In the event, he was afforded over an hour. Justice Amtzen interrupted four times to demand restraint, but Breivik was never silenced. So Norwegians had to listen as he claimed that a concern for "human rights and international law" had led him to detonate a car bomb in the centre of their capital, before carrying out the Utoya island massacre. "This was the most sophisticated and spectacular political attack committed in Europe since the Second World War," boasted Breivik. "If one can force the Norwegian Labour party to change their immigration policy by executing 77 people, that will contribute to holding our values and culture." Reading a 20-page statement that he had spent months preparing in prison, Breivik looked directly at the judges. "I acted in defence of my culture and of my people and so I ask to be acquitted," he said. Earlier, he had turned on the media, denouncing "100 per cent of" the world's news organisations for "pumping out multicultural propaganda 24 hours a day". Inexplicably, they were also portraying him as a "pathetic and mean loser without integrity". With a special tone of indignation, Breivik added: "It has been suggested that I'm a child-killer despite not being indicted for killing anyone under the age of 14." He would have preferred to bomb a journalists' conference in Oslo, but "unfortunately" that attack had been impossible to organise in time.

Numerous figures from history had inspired his struggle as a "Knight Templar", said Breivik, singling out Sitting Bull, the native American chief who defeated General Custer at the Battle of Little Bighorn, and Enoch Powell, the late Conservative politician. Recalling Powell's infamous speech from 1968, Breivik said: "Enoch Powell predicted that rivers of blood would flow through our streets. Unfortunately no-one listened to him, or to the other Enoch Powells in Europe." Britain came up repeatedly during Breivik's testimony. Luton was a city where the indigenous population "and even emergency vehicles" were unable to enter large areas, allegedly because of the depradations of Muslim immigrants. "And three out of five Englishmen believe the UK has turned into a dysfunctional society because of multiculturalism," added Breivik, citing an opinion poll which he said had appeared in "The Times" in 2010. The "Knights Templar" had been founded in London in 2002, he claimed, although the prosecution believe this network to be a figment of his imagination. Turning to American inspirations, Breivik lamented that Europe had never possessed "an anti-Communist like McCarthy to prevent Marxists from infiltrating universities and schools". He added: "McCarthy was far too moderate. He thought about deporting all American Communists to the Soviet Union, but unfortunately he did not do so."

Yet Breivik had encountered a problem that generations of extremists, particularly Marxists, would recognise. "The majority of people are so indoctrinated that they do not believe they need to be saved," he complained. After venting his phobias unchallenged, Breivik, 33, finally faced cross-examination. Inga Bejer Engh, the softly spoken prosecutor, did not attempt a bruising confrontation in the style of the Old Bailey. Instead, she politely and persistently tied Breivik in knots. "Who gave you the authority to take the lives of Norwegians?" she asked. Breivik squirmed around this question for the best part of 20 minutes before confessing that he gave himself the "mandate" to kill Norwegians in order to rescue them. As for Breivik's own past, Ms Engh forced him to admit that all of his various business ventures were hopeless failures until, at last, he set up an internet company selling fake diplomas, yielding a profit of Pounds 436,000. Peddling forged certificates was, he admitted, "morally despicable". Along the way, Breivik had also evaded taxes, dodged Norway's compulsory military service, invented a story about having his nose broken by a Muslim, and lied about gaining a business degree from an American university. After dropping out of secondary school, the killer claimed to have spent 15,000 hours in private study to remedy his lack of formal education.

"And what," asked the prosecutor, "was your main source of information?" Breivik's answer was emphatic: "Wikipedia," he said. "The English articles there contained a lot of information." When he became an ultra-nationalist, he described himself as rising to be "commander of a cell" of the "Knights Templar". Under questioning, he admitted that he was the sole member of the cell he commanded. There were, apparently, two other "one-man cells" in Norway. The "Knights Templar" itself was formed by a meeting of "four sweaty men in a basement" in London, he said. How did his various statements describe this gathering? They "pompously" called it an "inaugural rally," he said. The aim was to defend Christian civilisation from the incoming tide of Muslim migrants. But Ms Engh brough Breivik's flow of rhetoric to an abrupt halt by asking: "Do you consider yourself a Protestant?" After a long pause, he replied: "I have not been a religious person, but there's a proverb that there are no atheists in the trenches. I'm a member of the Church of Norway, but I'm more drawn towards the Catholic church." Again and again, Breivik returned to the subject of his lack of education. "It's important to signal that one is not without knowledge," he said. "You could see me as a salesman: I sell ideology, a view of life." Devoid of shame about massacring defenceless teenagers, Breivik appears tormented by his failure to go to university. The case continues with another four days of his testimony.
© The Telegraph

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SURVEY: EU HATE CRIMES MONITORS LACK RELIABLE DATA

17/4/2012- More than half of the nongovernmental organizations monitoring hate crimes in the European Union have no working definition for what constitutes a hate crime, according to a new survey. The survey was conducted in the form of a questionnaire answered by representatives of 44 watchdog NGOs from across the EU. The results are to be released at a conference on hate crime registration in the EU sponsored by the Brussels-based CEJI: A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe, scheduled to end on April 19, exactly one month after a Muslim extremist killed a rabbi and three children at a Jewish school in Toulouse, France. The lacunas exposed in the survey correspond with flawed registration by EU governments, according to CEJI director Robin Sclafani. “The killings in Toulouse are a tragic reminder that hate crimes continue to grow unabated in Europe,” Sclafani said. Of the 44 NGOs surveyed, 27 reported that they had no system to verify complaints. Seventeen did not share information with police.

The survey and conference is part of a larger project titled Facing Facts! to help watchdogs become more effective. “There is an overall paucity of reliable data on hate crimes in the OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] area, which impedes the formulation of effective policy responses,” Sclafani said. She noted that only 12 EU members collect “good or comprehensive" data, according to the 2010 Fundamental Rights Agency Report. The Facing Facts! project is a partnership between CEJI and the Dutch gay rights center COC. Other partners include the British and Dutch Jewish communities’ watchdogs on anti-Semitism: respectively the Community Security Trust and the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel.
© JTA News

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PROMINENT GAY ACTIVIST KILLED IN APPARENT HATE CRIME (Canada)

A prominent gay rights activist and journalist in Halifax was beaten to death outside a popular gay bar, Canadian media organisations report, in what seems to be a homophobic hate crime.

17/4/2012- Raymond Taavel was well known and admired within the city’s gay community, both as a former chair of Gay Pride Week and as the ex-editor of the LGBT magazine, Wayves. According to CBC, a passerby found him bleeding outside Menz Bar and called the police; he died at the scene despite efforts by the paramedics team that attended him. Doug Melanson, owner of Menz Bar, where Mr Taavel was a regular, said the activist will be greatly missed. He also added that patrons of the bar were feeling “sad and sombre” on Tuesday. “And some anger. Definitely anger.” CBC Radio in Halifax reported that witnesses saw a large a man yelling “faggot” before attacking two smaller men. One man reportedly ran away, but the large man seized hold of the other, and began to hit him repeatedly on the head. The police eventually tracked down a 32 year old suspect hiding nearby. Further details have not been released.

Canadian media also report that the suspect is a psychiatric patient with a history of violence, and that he had gone out on a day’s pass. Gay rights activists have condemned it as a “hate crime.” One close friend and fellow activist said of Mr Taavel said: ”He was always smiling and he cared deeply about justice and equality and fairness. He had a fierce and independent spirit. For that quality alone, I always admired him…” He added: “We connected through writing and activism, and there was always an easy, kindred-spiritedness to our friendship. Halifax has lost a great, caring citizen. I’m going to miss him.” A candle-lit vigil is planned outside Menz Bar for tonight.
© Pink News

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REPORTING HATE CRIME STILL PATCHY (Canada)

17/4/2012- The news, as hate-crime tracking goes, was not all bad. In Canada, reported hate crimes fell in 2010, the fifth year Statistics Canada has pulled together data on offences motivated by hate for a victim's religion, race or sexual orientation or other identifiable characteristic. The drop is the first after two years of substantial increases in hate crimes. The news for Winnipeg is not so good. Although few of the attacks were violent, there was a substantial increase year-over-year of police-reported hate crimes in the city, from 14 to 41. Most were religiously motivated and against Jews, but black people had a rough ride, too. The rise in Winnipeg's rate drove up the Manitoba data, which in 2010 sat second-highest among the provinces, at a rate of 4.6 per 100,000 citizens, behind Ontario at 5.7.

Statisticians note, however, that rates reported across Canada can vary due to factors such as the presence within police forces of hate-crime units or specialized police training. Further, Statistics Canada notes, self-reported surveys indicate only a third of victims of perceived hate crimes report such incidents to police. In 2008 and 2009, the number of police-reported hate crimes rose steeply; last year, at 1,401, there were 72 fewer reported. In Canada, the majority of the crimes are motivated by race and ethnicity and it was there, along with the attacks against religion, where the reports fell in 2010. The number of attacks against gays remained stable and it is this category where the crimes are most likely (at 66 per cent) to be violent.

It would be instructive for Winnipeg to follow the narrative of statistics and self-report surveys to see how trends track between crime numbers and how many victims actually show up at the doorstep of the Winnipeg Police Service. Some groups are very good at defending themselves and bringing the incidents and scourge of racism and bigotry out in the open. Others, however, have through the ages simply lived with the attacks: It is notable that in the race and ethnicity categories listed for Winnipeg crimes, there is no category for aboriginal people. (Two crimes against aboriginal people were reported in Manitoba). The surge noted in 2010 may prove over time to be a blip, but Winnipeg should not ignore evidence to the contrary, letting the undercurrent of racism that infects all cities divide its citizens.
© The Winnipeg Free Press

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SPRINGS JEWISH TEMPLE VANDALIZED ON HITLER'S BIRTHDAY (usa)

20/4/2012- Vandals painted swastikas on walls, signs and doors of a Colorado Springs Jewish temple early Friday in an apparent hate crime in honor of Adolf Hitler’s birthday. Caretaker Stan Peters, who lives next door to Temple Beit Torah, said the vandals must have been in a hurry, painting the iconic Nazi symbols and the words “Happy 4:20” on two sides of the building that sits at East Madison and Royer streets, north of downtown Colorado Springs. The “4:20” markings are in reference to April 20, 1889, the day that Hitler, the Nazi German leader who drove the Holocaust, was born. Judith Barthel, a board member at Temple Beit Torah, called the vandalism “horrifying” and “sad.” She said that people in the neighborhood, the mailman and those at Temple Shalom, also in Colorado Springs, have showed their support. The men’s club at Temple Shalom called after hearing about the news and offered to help clean the building, which Peters had already washed and painted.

Peters said a neighbor across Royer Street spotted the vandalism and told temple members. “There are still quite a few people who have a lot of hatred for anyone who is different from them,” Peters said noting that he and his wife had been outside after 10 p.m. Thursday setting up a garage sale at their home. "It had to happen late,” he said. Colorado Springs police were called to the temple just after 7 a.m. Friday and said they didn't have suspects and were still investigating Friday afternoon. Peters said the police told him the crime is being called criminal mischief. April 20 has a dark history in Colorado. It’s the anniversary of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, which was timed to coincide with the birthday of the Nazi dictator. “It’s especially poignant today,” Barthel said.
© The Colorado Springs Gazette

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THREE WHITE MEN CONVICTED OF HATE CRIME IN ATTACK AT HOUSTON BUS STOP (usa)

16/4/2012- A midnight attack in which four shirtless white men - three with white supremacist tattoos - cornered and beat a black man at a downtown bus stop was deemed a federal hate crime Monday by a jury that returned the first conviction of its kind in Houston. A federal jury convicted the trio - Charles Cannon, 26, Michael McLaughlin, 41, and Brian Kerstetter, 32 - for attacking Yondell Johnson simply because of his race. Prosecutors dismissed charges last month against a fourth defendant, Joseph Staggs, 49, who testified against the other three. The convictions carry a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison. The four men ran into each other on Houston streets and "bonded" over the white supremacist tattoos, prosecutors said. Removing their shirts, the four approached Johnson, a 29-year-old African-American, as he waited for a bus at Travis and McKinney late on Aug. 13. They asked him for the time before at least one of the men used a racial epithet. Authorities later identified white supremacist tattoos on Cannon, McLaughlin and Kerstetter.

Racist claim denied
The four men surrounded Johnson and punched and kicked him, despite his efforts to fight them off. During the trial in Houston's federal court, jurors saw part of the attack caught on city surveillance cameras. After they were arrested, a Houston police officer heard McLaughlin and Cannon yell racial slurs at black officers who responded to the crime scene, according to court documents. "We applaud the hard work of the FBI and Justice Department in investigating this hate crime and bringing the perpetrators to justice," said Martin B. Cominsky, southwest regional director of the Anti-Defamation League. "We are especially proud that federal officials were able to successfully use the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act. ADL led the effort to get the strong federal hate crime law passed so it could be used in cases like this." Cannon's attorney, Gus Saper, denied his client is a racist and said he and other defense attorneys are considering appealing the convictions. "I don't consider him a white supremacist. The testimony showed he is married to a Hispanic lady. He has biracial children, and his sister is married to an African-American," Saper said of Cannon, who is a welder from Lufkin. "One of his friends, who is African-American, testified in his behalf and also dated one of his sisters."

'Public message'
The federal hate crime law, passed in October 2009, gives the FBI authority to investigate violent crime, including violence directed at the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, as well as crimes committed because of gender, race, color, religion or national origin. When the federal charges were filed in January, they were only third time the hate crime law had been used nationwide. With the verdict on Monday, 15 defendants have been convicted in a total of nine cases nationwide in which 34 defendants were charged, according to the Justice Department. "We hope today's convictions send a powerful public message," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen L. Morris, who heads the Houston office, adding the federal hate law "is a tool the FBI will use to aggressively investigate and prosecute hate crimes as felony offenses." Johnson said that the four men came up to a bus stop shortly before midnight last August. He was waiting to catch the bus after spending the day visiting his 12-year-old daughter.

Pulled to ground
Johnson recalled one man asked him, "Hey, bro, you got the time?" Johnson said he did not, and then heard a second man berate the first. "Why are you calling a (N-word) a bro?" Johnson recalled. Sensing he was going to be attacked, Johnson stood up and backed against a pole. The amateur boxer held off his assailants for about 10 minutes, but one of them grabbed him by the ankles and pulled him down. As one man held him, the other three stomped and kicked his face. "I couldn't believe this was happening. I thought I was on my way to dying, especially when they got me on the ground," Johnson said. Until the hate crime case was brought by federal authorities, the four men were facing misdemeanor assault charges in state court. Prosecutors had notified their defense attorneys they intended to upgrade the charges to hate crimes during their trials. But those charges were dismissed after the federal charges were filed. The three were found guilty after a three-day trial before U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt, who set sentencing for July 16.
© The Houston Chronicle

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UN PANEL SLAMS DENMARK OVER ALLEGED RACIST ATTACK

16/4/2012- A U.N. panel has criticized Denmark for failing to properly investigate a 2004 attack in which 35 youths hurled racist abuse and beat two members of Iraqi refugee family. The U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination says four men were convicted on counts of violence, vandalism and illegal possession of weapons but Danish police didn't examine the racist nature of the assault that led the family to flee their home in the eastern town of Soro. The Geneva-based panel monitors compliance with International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. It issued the rare public rebuke against Denmark in a statement Monday. The panel says Danish authorities failed to effectively protect the family from racial discrimination and should grant them compensation for their ordeal.
© The Associated Press

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Headlines 13 April, 2012

HATE CRIMES BASED ON RACE, RELIGION DROP IN 2010 (Canada)

The number and rate of police-reported hate crimes based on race or religion declined sharply in 2010, but incidents involving sexual orientation remained stable.

12/4/2012- Statistics Canada says police reported 1,401 hate crimes in 2010 or 4.1 for every 100,000 people, a rate 18 per cent lower than in 2009. Most of the decrease was a result of a drop in violent hate crimes, which accounted for about one in three incidents. In 2010, over 95 per cent of hate crimes were motivated by race, religion or sexual orientation. Just over half of reported hate crimes, or 707 incidents, were related to race or ethnicity, while 395 involved religion and 218 were linked to sexual orientation. The report said, though, that while the rate of racial hate crimes was down 20 per cent from 2009 and the rate of religion-based incidents was down 17 per cent, rate of crimes linked to sexual orientation was relatively stable.

Crimes against Muslims, Catholics rise
The report said blacks continued to be the most commonly targeted race or ethnic group in 2010, with 271 reported hate crimes. That's about 40 per cent of all racial incidents. Arabs or West Asians were the second and third most frequently targeted race or ethnic groups, with each accounting for about 10 per cent of the crimes. About half of all religion-motivated crimes, 204 incidents, were committed against Jews, although the rate of these crimes was down 38 per cent from 2009. Hate crimes directed against Muslims were up 26 per cent and crimes aimed at Catholics rose 32 per cent.

Ontario, Manitoba record highest rates
Provincially, the highest rate of police-reported hate crime occurred in Ontario, with 5.7 incidents for every 100,000 people. Manitoba was second with 4.6 incidents and British Columbia reported four hate crimes for every 100,000 people. Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island had the lowest rates, with about one incidents for every 100,000 in the population.

What is a hate crime? Read the CBC's report on the Criminal Code of Canada and what constitutes a hate crime.
© The Canadian Press

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BERLIN'S LARGEST MOSQUE TARGETED IN HATE CRIME ATTACK (Germany)

9/4/2012- Berlin’s largest mosque has been targeted in an Islamophobic attack in the German capital’s predominantly migrant district of Neukoelln. Unknown assailants threw several paint bombs at Sehitlik mosque Saturday night. They also placed an insulting anti-Islam picture at the entrance to the building. Berlin police said that a threatening letter had been sent to the mosque recently. The Sehitlik Mosque has been the target of four arson attacks over the past three years. Berlin mosques have been the scene of at least seven fire bombings since June 2010. German Muslim leaders have time and again called for stepped up security measures for the country’s mosques and Islamic centers. They also accuse the center-right government of Chancellor Angela Merkel of trying to downplay the danger of anti-Muslim crimes caused by the wave of Islamophobia in Germany.
© AFP

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ETHNIC AZERI FOUND IN MOSCOW WITH SLIT THROAT (Russia)

11/4/2012- The body of a Russian national of Azeri origin has been found in Moscow with his throat slashed, his former employer said on Wednesday, blaming a gang of ultra-nationalists for his murder. Metin Mekhtiyev, a 33-year-old Muscovite, was coming home from a grocery store on Tuesday when a group attacked him near his residential building in central Moscow. "A group of five people including a young woman first beat him up and then slit his throat," said Maryam Nalobina, a representative of the Russian Islamic Cultural Centre, citing information from witnesses. Mekhtiyev had until recently worked at the centre. Nalobina said the murder had all the hallmarks of a hate crime. "There was a whole series of such murders in Saint Petersburg in the past years," she told AFP.

The man had previously come under attack from ultra-nationalists in 2003, ending up in hospital, the Islamic Cultural Centre said. Mekhtiev leaves behind a wife and two-month child. He "enjoyed well-deserved respect and authority among youths," the centre said in a statement, adding he worked with a number of Islamic organizations like the Russian Muftis Council and the Russian Congress of Caucasus Peoples. Investigators said later in the day however that Mekhtiyev was most likely murdered during a robbery, adding that the assailants had stolen his pricey Vertu phone, around 5,000-6,000 rubles ($168-$200) and keys to his apartment. Investigators said Mekhtiev was not employed at the time of the murder. A spokesman for Moscow police confirmed to AFP that the body of a man with knife wounds had been found but declined to give further details. Non-Slavs are frequently attacked by neo-Nazi gangs in Russia, though the authorities have claimed some recent success in reducing violent hate crimes.
© AFP

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MUSLIM CLERIC STABBED TO DEATH IN MOSCOW (Russia)

11/4/2012- Russian police say a cleric from a banned Islamic group has been stabbed to death in Moscow in what his colleagues called an apparent hate crime. Moscow city police said Wednesday that the body of Metin Mekhtiyev was found late Tuesday with severe knife wounds near his apartment building in central Moscow. The 33-year-old worked at the Islamic Culture Center, one of the oldest Islamic groups in Russia, which was banned by Russia’s Supreme Court last year. The group claimed the ban was instigated by the Federal Security Service, Russia's man KGB successor agency. The group’s chairman Abdul-Wakhed Niyazov told the online Gazeta.ru that Mekhtiyev’s killing was similar to hate crimes committed by radical ultranationalist groups.
© The Associated Press

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REPORT: JEWISH MAN IN CRITICAL CONDITION AFTER ASSAULTED BY NEO-NAZIS IN UKRAINE

 Kiev's Jewish community leaders are certain Yaakov Alexander, 25 was the victim of an anti-Semitic attack; local police have not yet determined the motivation behind the incident. 

9/4/2012- A Jewish man is in critical condition after being assaulted by a neo-Nazi gang in the Ukrainian capital Kiev, the city's Jewish community reported on Monday, as local police attempted to determine the motivation behind the incident. According to Jewish community representatives, an ultra-Orthodox student by the name of Aharon Alexander, 25, was attacked by skinheads near Kiev's central synagogue. However, despite the assertion by Kiev's Jewish community leaders that Alexander's wounds were the result of an anti-Semitic attack, local police officials indicated that the investigation was ongoing, and they were also looking into the possibility that the young Haredi tripped in the street. At first, Alexander was reportedly missing for nearly 24 hours, until a doctor sent by the Jewish community was able to identify him in one of the city's hospitals. Alexander, following head surgery, was said to be in critical condition. Other than a severe injury to his head, the Jewish man also reportedly suffered bruises in his upper body.

Following the incident, a meeting is scheduled for Tuesday participated by chief rabbi of the Ukrainian Jewish community Moshe Reuven Asman, Israel's ambassador to the country Reuven Diner, and the Ukrainian Minister of Internal Affairs Viktor Yanukovich. Speaking with Haaretz, the head of Kiev's Jewish community Yaakov Zilberman said that the community was "disturbed by the assault" and intends to "act against a cover-up of incident as well as of the rise in anti-Semitism." In a statement released following the incident, the European Jewish Congress said they were "confident that the Ukrainian authorities will act swiftly against the perpetrators of this hate crime and will bring them to swift justice.” “We call on European leaders to act swiftly to strengthen legislation, bolster education and increase intelligence sharing to prevent what could become a tsunami of hate and violence against the Jews of Europe,” the statement said.

Last month, a Jewish group said that a Holocaust memorial has been vandalized in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv. Oleksandr Nazar of the city's Sholem Aleichem Jewish Culture Center said that unknown assailants 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.
© Haaretz

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COURT PAPERS SHED NEW LIGHT ON IRAQI BEATING DEATH (USA)

7/4/2012- The family of a slain Iraqi-American woman flew to Iraq with her body just days after police sought a court order to search their house, cars and electronic devices for clues in the case that generated international outrage amid speculation that her beating death might have been a hate crime. The husband and two of Shaima Alawadi's five children arrived in Iraq last week, four days after detectives submitted an 11-page search warrant affidavit asking for permission to conduct a broader search of the crime scene. The court papers say detectives discovered a suspicious text message sent from a cell phone belonging to Alawadi's 17-year-old daughter. The message read: "The detective will find out tell them cnt talk." In addition, the records say Alawadi wanted to get a divorce and move to Texas, and the daughter was distraught about a pending arranged marriage with a cousin.

The killing of the 32-year-old Alawadi drew international attention after her daughter, Fatima Alhimidi, told reporters she found a note by her mother's unconscious body that read: "Go back to your country, you terrorist." Police have not named any suspects. Lt. Mark Coit, an El Cajon police spokesman, said Friday the department would not comment on the case. The affidavit was supposed to be sealed and was mistakenly released to the media by San Diego County Superior Court, the court acknowledged in a statement. While the court papers provide insight into the different leads police are pursuing, searches of the home, cars and phone records don't necessarily mean a family member is a suspect, said Paul Pfingst, a former San Diego County district attorney who is now a defense lawyer. Court records say detectives also sought evidence of any additional notes or harassing text messages or e-mails.

"Does the evidence point to a particular person is really the question," Pfingst said. "If there is enough evidence to believe that a person committed the crime then the police likely would have arrested the person." Police are trying to determine who received the text message sent from Alhimidi's cell phone while the teen was being interviewed by detectives, according to the affidavit. The family also told police another hate note was left at their home weeks before the attack, but they did not keep it or file a report with authorities. Mohammed Alhimidi, Alawadi's 15-year-old son, said the first note was taped to their front door when he got home from school on March 13, but the family decided not to go to the police, deciding it was just a prank.

Alawadi's brother said he has not drawn any conclusions about the identity of the killer based on the newly released details. "I want people to know what really happened," Hass Alawadi told U-T San Diego. "We hope for the best, hope for it to come out. I hope they found who did it." Police found a torn, handwritten note at the crime scene, court papers indicate, but forensic analysis found it was a copy. Police have not revealed what it said but asked the judge for permission to search for the original, as well as other notes with "hate-crime related content" and any paper stock that matches the paper on which the note was written.

The court papers detailed several relationship issues in the family. In November, Fatima Alhimidi jumped from her mother's moving car and possibly broke her arm after she was discovered by police in a car with a 21-year-old man, the records show. Alhimidi said, "'I love you, Mom,' opened the vehicle door and jumped out while the vehicle was doing approximately 35 mph," the documents said. "Police were informed by paramedics and hospital staff that Fatima Alhimidi said she was being forced to marry her cousin and did not want to do so, (so) she jumped out of the vehicle." The teenager told police that on the night of the killing, she heard glass break and her mother squeal, but she thought it was a dropped plate. She said she found her mother unconscious 10 minutes later.

Alawadi had suffered at least six blows to the head, possibly caused by a tire iron. She died three days later. A neighbor reported seeing a man carrying a brown box running from the area of Alawadi's house around the time of the attack. "We, at the end of the day, are looking to get the cold-blooded murder whoever he or she may be and whatever the motive might be," Hanif Mohebi, executive director of the San Diego chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Friday. "She was a young community member that we all loved and part of our heart is gone."

The family took Alawadi's body from the U.S. to the Shiite holy city of Najaf, south of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, on March 31 on a plane sent by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Two of her five children and her husband are still there, Mohebi said.
© The Associated Press

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Headlines 6 April, 2012

IN DEFENCE OF A 'RACIST' (uk, opinion)

By Afshin Shahi, a doctoral candidate at the School of Government and International Affairs at Durham University

5/4/2012- A Swansea student's racist comments abusing footballer Fabrice Muamba have landed him a hefty prison sentence. But to what end? A past victim of racism argues that Liam Stacey's punishment will only worsen British race relations.Sentencing Liam Stacey ↑ , a twenty-one year-old student, to 56 days of imprisonment over mocking Fabrice Muamba ↑ in a racist manner, is not good news for the future of race relations in Britain. There can be no excuse for Liam’s vulgar, shocking and obscene comments, but demonising a young man in the public arena and destroying his future hopes and prospects is only going to widen the wounds in this society. How can such harsh disciplinary measures help to resolve racism and xenophobia? Such policies will only pave the way for a more destructive kind of racism than that which is implicitly sustained by the culture of ‘political correctness’.

Being a victim of racism in the past, I believe any civilised society should have a rigorous legal mechanism to protect minorities. Having lived in Britain as a visible minority, I have always had peace of mind that I live in a country where my rights are protected and a set of anti-discrimination laws are in place to minimise any prejudicial treatment against me. Although it is a given for many people, I am relieved that I live in a society in which I cannot be legally penalised because of my racial background. However, there is a limit to what the penal system can achieve for race relations. There is a limit to how far the law can go to create a cohesive society. Although the legal system can prevent structural racism, it can never change attitudes. We cannot imprison the viewpoints which are prevalent in some corners of our society. The law can never go as far as addressing the fear of the “other” which is embedded in some communities across the social spectrum. The legal mechanism alone cannot heal wounds and promote mutual respect.

It was hard to resist following the unfolding news about Liam Stacey, whose case generated a lot of interest in the mainstream media and across social networking websites. Like many people, I was shocked by his offensive language when I read his remarks online. When the authorities questioned him, I hoped that he might realise the hurtful nature of his comments. I thought that this could be a constructive opportunity for him to broaden his perspectives and develop some genuine sensitivity towards a vital social issue. I hoped that the experience could convey many messages, the need to be mindful of the ways in which he expresses himself in public, rather than harshly teaching him to be only ‘politically correct’. In fact he was treated harshly and was given 56 days of imprisonment. To make things even worse a negative campaign started, purely to demonise him. Suddenly his world changed and everything in it shattered. I was shocked when I heard that even some people from his university started a campaign to expel him from the his course. Isn't university the place best suited to intellectual and personal transitions? If so, Liam more than anyone needs that institutional support for his transition.

But instead of being accommodated, with all his shortcomings, he is portrayed as a “wicked” and “threatening” man who does not deserve a second chance. Although his university has not confirmed any decision yet, it is likely that he will face some disciplinary actions. This would be highly counter-productive. Instead of exposing him to the prison to make him even more resentful or expelling him from the university, we should find ways to encourage him to genuinely reflect on his words. The main causes of racism are fear and ignorance, and demonising a young man for his comments on Twitter will only exacerbate such problems. Creating a context where people have to refrain from using certain expressions to avoid legal consequences will not create a more cohesive society. Some people would only perceive this as a form of social censorship imposed by the law and sustained by disciplinary measures. Indeed, the culture of political correctness would only redirect tensions from explicit to implicit platforms. Deep fears and resentments would flourish in such climate overshadowing the ways in which communities perceive each other. The culture of political correctness would only push racism behind fake smiles: lipstick on a pig.

We no longer need “compensation”, we need resolution. Measures have to be taken to effectively translate anti-discrimination laws into the prevailing discourse. The laws have to correspond with the collective consciousness. Although the laws are in place to protect the “other”, there are sharp social binaries that reenforce a culture of “us” versus “them”. These binaries are implicitly reinforced by the media and the mainstream political rhetoric. According to research ↑ conducted by Cardiff University between 2000-8 four of the five most common discourses used about Muslims in the British press related Islam/Muslims with “threats”. Furthermore, black people are still 30 times more likely to be stopped ↑ by the police than white people. The new study - which is based on government statistics - highlights the worst international record of discrimination involving stop and search in Britain. Our problems clearly rest on institutional structures as well as individual agencies. Those who are convicted of racism are explicitly articulating these deeply imbedded social binaries. Instead of demonising Liam Stacey as a “racist”, we should recognize the extent to which individuals like him are conditioned by these structures and give more attention to their substantial role in fostering racism.
© Open Democracy

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RED NETWORK FINDS GREECE AND SPAIN LEADING IN RACIST VIOLENCE

5/4/2012- The RED (Rights Equality and Diversity) Annual Report for Europe 2011 sounds the alarm for Greece who seems to be , along with Spain, the most acute example of racist violence cases. The bigger increase in crime cases against immigrants in Greece and Spain is partly attributed to the fact that “these countries present the highest unemployment rates among young people,” explains Miltos Pavlou in the findings of the report. The report findings underline the inconsistency between the political correctness of the EU and the previous European legislation for the protection of minorities’ rights on one hand, and the rise of xenophobic rhetoric and racist violence in the Member States on the other. “The EU seems to be cut out from national governments,” Miltos Pavlou, RED Network Coordinator, points out. In almost all EU countries of the RED Network, problems concerning the implementation of national legislation prohibiting discrimination and combating racist and hate crime are reported. The situation is deteriorating even in countries which didn’t exhibit such problems in the past,” he added. A special emphasis is put on the Roma children being segregated in education in most EU countries and immigrants. Crisis seems to affect migrants significantly; unemployment among migrants has exceeded the unemployment rate of general workforce for the first time in 2009. In addition, migrants receive lower wages than native Greeks and they are excluded from public sector, since employment in the latter is limited to Greeks and EU nationals.

The RED Network started in 2010 and was co-founded by the EU in 2011. It is a design initiated by the Greek Institute for Rights Equality & Diversity (i-RED) and co-developed by 17 research partners in 17 Member States. It records racism and discrimination cases, so as to describe the situation in every Member State. The Network aims at timely detecting racism, xenophobia and intolerance tendencies in Europe and combating them effectively by creating an early-warning system on racism, discrimination, situation in the EU Member States as well as on law and policies against discrimination racist violence, hate speech and stereotypes.
© The Greek Reporter

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FAMILY TARGETED IN HATE CRIME ATTACK (Ireland)

A family have escaped injury after their house was damaged and car set alight in Antrim, in what police have described as a "hate crime".

31/3/2012- A window of a house in the Tower Link area of the town was smashed at around 5.30am on Saturday. When police arrived at the scene, they also found a car on fire in the Tower Way area. Firefighters put out the blaze. Alliance councillor for Antrim town, Neil Kelly, said he was disgusted at the attack. "Police have said it is a racially motivated hate crime against this Antrim family. "They have been four or five years and came to Antrim from India," he explained. "The people responsible for this attack do not represent the town. Antrim is welcoming to everybody. "This must have been a very traumatic experience for this family. I would like to extend my support to them," added Cllr Kelly.
© UTV News

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T.O. MAN ON ISRAELI HOCKEY TEAM VICTIM OF HATE CRIME (Canada/Austria)

31/3/2012- A Toronto man representing Israel at the division two world hockey championship this week had his luggage vandalized with pen drawings of swastikas on his way to Europe. Ron Soreanu retrieved his blue duffel bag in Vienna to find that someone had drawn three swastikas – an emblem representing the Nazi regime – on it. The bag had a logo printed on it saying "Israeli National Hockey Team" next to several stars of David – a sign representing the Jewish faith. Soreanu, who flew to Vienna via Lufthansa German Airlines, said he started shaking as soon as he saw what someone had done. "I was shaking with anger when I saw it," he told CP24.com in an interview from Vienna. "I've been playing for the team for 16 years and have never seen anything like this." He immediately contacted airport officials who apologized profusely and promised to conduct an investigation. They also suggested he contact police and report the incident. "The political crimes unit -- that's how they translated the name to me -- in Vienna is looking into it," he said over email. "I reported it to Vienna Airlines because they represent Lufthansa at the airport. They were absolutely red with embarrassment and extremely apologetic. They were actually the ones to tell me that it was a crime and that it should be reported to police."

The 31-year-old was travelling with four other people but his bag was the only one that was tagged. The other bags were black and non-descript. Soreanu said he will return to the airport to follow up with the airline's investigation but is keeping a healthy perspective on what happened. "This is obviously not representative of an entire population," he said. "It's despicable nonetheless. It's important that people know what took place." He said instead of staying angry, he will try and use what happened as an extra incentive to win when he takes to the ice. Israel will play China in the opener of the six-team division two world hockey championship on Monday. The event is being held in Sofia, Bulgaria and runs until April 8. "This year's tournament will have far more significance for me than past years," Soreanu said. "It makes me so proud to represent Israel."
© CP 24

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