ICARE Hate Crime News - Archive July 2012

Headlines 27 July, 2012

Headlines 20 July, 2012

Headlines 13 July, 2012

Headlines 6 July, 2012

Headlines 27 July, 2012

Nationalist group attacks Taksim transsexual parade (Turkey)

26//2012- An ultranationalist group attempted to attack participants in Turkey’s third transsexual pride parade in Istanbul’s central Taksim Square on June 24, but police stopped the group before anyone suffered serious injuries. Members of Alperen Ocaklarż, the youth wing of the Islamist Great Unity Party (BBP), threw stones and bottles at a group of thousands of people wearing costumes and carrying colorful banners for the parade. Police intervened and blocked the attackers’ path to Żstiklal Avenue in order to provide security for the marchers. The attacking group, who had gathered to commemorate recently fallen Turkish soldiers, chanted slogans such as “the only flag allowed here is the Turkish flag, not that piece of fabric.”

M.D, one of the marchers who wanted to conceal her identity, said the transsexual pride march was started in Turkey three years ago and that it was different to gay pride demonstrations as it sought to draw attention to hate murders committed in Turkey. She added that although she was a college graduate, she had not been hired for any job because of her sexual orientation. “I am here to be visible, to raise my voice just one day and to tell people that we have the same rights and that we need social security like anyone else. I have applied for hundreds of jobs but was never accepted because of discrimination. They are forcing us to be sex workers,” she said.

Another marcher, Nikola, who has been living in Istanbul for a number of years, said such a parade could not be held in his home country Croatia and that that was why he was thrilled by the crowd. “It is great that a gay parade can be done in a Muslim country, because in Croatia we cannot do it,” he said. Halil Gürel, who studies sociology in the southwestern province of Mušla, joined the parade to lend his support for gay rights. “I am a member of Turkey’s Green Party and the ecologist movement is against all violence and discrimination. The green movement always stands by women, lesbians, gays, transsexuals, travestites and bisexual activists,” he said.
© Hurriyet

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Gays hospitalised after attack (Belgium)

Homosexual pressure groups and politicians alike have reacted with shock and disgust to an incident on Tuesday evening in which two homosexual men were subjected to a serious assault in a bar in the East Flemish town of Aalst. Their assailants, two brothers, punched them before hiting them will snooker cues and bar stools. The incident happened at around 1:45am on Thursday morning in Kelly’s bar near to Aalst Railway Station.

23/7/2012- The perpetrators of the attack are two brother aged 20 and 28. Friday’s edition of the daily ‘De Morgen’ reports that they were both under the influence of alcohol and were on the lookout for gays to attack. Their victims are a 35-year-old man from Kruishoutem (East Flanders), and a 55-year-old from Aalst. The 35-year-old victim was rushed in a critical condition to the Our Lady Hospital in Aalst, where he is still being treated for his injuries. The 55-year-old was also hospitalised,but was allowed to return home after treatment. The bar was also damaged in the attack. Both suspects have been detained by police. They are accused of assault and battery inspired by homophobic motives and resulting in the victims being unable to work.

Stiffer sentences for queer-bashers
The Federal Government hopes to introduce measures to increase sentences for hate crimes, including homophobic assaults. The Justice Minister Annemie Turtelboom (Flemish liberal, photo) has put a series of proposals to this effect before Friday morning’s cabinet meeting. For assault and battery with racist or homophobic motives, the maximum sentence would be increase from 5 to 30 years. A life sentence will be given if the victim dies as a result of the attack. The proposals won’t become law until this autumn at the earliest.
© The Flanders News.

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Mum claims racist mob forced her to flee Fife home with her four kids (UK)

26/7/2012- A mum of four claims she had to flee her home with her kids after death threats from a racist mob. And she says she’s terrified to return to the village where she has lived for 15 years. Gladys Calley, 39, says her ordeal began after she went to a pub in Newburgh, Fife, to celebrate her birthday with two of her daughters, her two sisters and a cousin. She claims drinkers threatened her and told her to leave, then chased her party down the road. Gladys told the Record: “They targeted us because of the colour of our skin. “They were calling us f*****g black monkeys, black bitches and black b******s. They threatened to kill us and break our necks. “A woman lunged at me and I have bruises on my arms and legs. “We ran into someone’s garden to escape them and we were all dialling 999 on our mobile phones.”

Police confirmed they were called to a disturbance in Newburgh in the early hours of Sunday. Two women, aged 22 and 49, have been reported to the procurator fiscal. Gladys and her family are now living with her sister in Edinburgh. She said: “I don’t want to go back to Newburgh but I’ll probably have to as my kids go to school in Fife and I work there. “But it’s not safe if this racist rabble are going to target us.” Gladys said she had not had such problems in Newburgh before, although her daughter was seriously assaulted two years ago. She said the soldier who carried out the attack was fined £900 but the racial element of the charge was dropped. Gladys split up with her husband, who is from Newburgh, in 2009.

Newburgh community council chairman John Ferrans said: “This is regrettable – Newburgh is a peace-loving place and a good little town with a great community spirit which is the envy of the area. “There is certainly no racism. We have a wide variety of nationalities. Our two busiest shops, the newsagent and the post office, are owned by Asians. “I would suggest the minority who did this are not from the town.”
© The Daily Record

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Three arrested at English Defence League's protest (UK)

26/7/2012- A baying mob of anti-Islamic protesters shouted racist slurs as they marched through Chelmsford High Street against plans for a new mosque in the city. More than 30 members of the far-right group the English Defence League staged an impromptu protest on Saturday to voice their opposition to proposals to build the mosque off Victoria Road. Shocked shoppers watched as placard-waving protesters shouted vulgar obscenities from the steps of Shire Hall, after more than 40 police officers had brought the march to a halt outside Superdrug. Three men, all from outside Essex, were arrested on suspicion of racial offences, while some angry passers-by clashed with the protesters. Mum-of-four, Sandra Waller, 59, was out shopping when she saw the demonstration and shouted at the protesters: "We are all human beings". Ella Rodriguez, 20, from Chelmsford, told the Chronicle: "It is shameful and there is no need for this type of behaviour." Muslim Association Jamaat of Essex wants to build a four-storey mosque in Regina Way, in place of a smaller mosque which had been there for 20 years before being demolished. If approved, it would form part of the new Waitrose supermarket development proposed for the Royal Mail site in Victoria Road. The Right Reverend Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford, said: "We should not allow ourselves to be frightened by the English Defence League. The Christian message is that diversity in our communities is something to be enjoyed."
© This is Total Essex

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Far-right British group hurl racist anti Irish abuse during Liverpool parade (UK)

James Larkin march ends with 23 arrests 
 
24/7/2012- Up to 23 people were arrested in Liverpool last Saturday after a British extremist group crashed a parade to commemorate the life of James Larkin, an Irish trade union leader and socialist activist. The anti racism and fascism march was organized by the James Larkin Society and was led by the Liverpool Irish Patriots Republican Flute Band. In the days leading up to the march, the far right group had branded the parade as an IRA march and urged protesters to oppose and confront “Irish republicanism in the city of Liverpool.” “Over the past several years the city of Liverpool and north west england has seen the rise of anti-British feeling projected on them by immigrant families from the Republic of Ireland,” the poster read. The Irish Times reports that the majority of the protesters were young, male, and tattooed. Some of them were locals, others appeared to have travelled especially for the day. “F*** off back to Ireland, ye murdering bastards,” one male protestor screamed, before he was later arrested. At a further point in the parade a group chanted, “Rule Britannia”, or “No surrender to the IRA”.

Despite the anti-Irish sentiment, the majority of those participating in the parade were not Irish. “One Muslim man in his early 20s sighed in despair as he was accused by an obese black teenager of being “an IRA murdering scum,”” the newspaper reported. Jane Calveley, a member of the UK’s largest public sector union, Unison, told The Irish Times: “This has come as a bit of a shock, it was always such a peaceful event. It has nothing to do with the IRA. I’m actually Jewish, anyway.” Alec McFadden, president of the Merseyside Trade Union Congress (TUC) and anti-fascist campaigner, told the Liverpool Echo: “Today was all about celebrating one of the main trade unionists James Larkin. “What shocked us was the number of people who came from outside Merseyside with the idea it was something to do with the IRA, it wasn’t. “The police did a very good job in very difficult circumstances to ensure the march went ahead peacefully. “I intend to write a report to the leaders of the council because of the influx of people from outside Merseyside who came to try to interfere with the march.” Merseyside Police told the newspaper that 23 men and three women were arrested for minor public order offences.
© Irish Central

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Nebraska Lesbian Mutilated in Anti-Gay Hate Crime (USA)

24/7/2012- Nebraska cops are hunting three masked men who carved derogatory epithets into the body of an openly gay woman. "Three men wearing masks, that's all the victim was able to provide," said Officer Katie Flood of the Lincoln Police Department. "Derogatory terms associated with her sexual orientation were painted inside her home," the officer said. News reports state that crude words referring to her sexual orientation were carved into her body. "We will not release what was written on her body," Flood said. The woman, who is 33, was bound, gagged and mutilated early Sunday and the three attackers splashed the victim's home with gasoline and tried to set it on fire, scorching a floor, police reports state. The attack is being classified as a hate crime. "According to our policy any offense is classified as a hate crime when it appears biased regarding someone's sexual orientation," Flood said. The officer refused to divulge additional details, telling ABC News, "We are not releasing any further details."

A neighbor of the woman was appalled by the attack. "When someone takes the time to handcuff someone with a zip tie and carve derogatory comments or words into somebody else's body, that's sheer hate and at this point, this is a hate crime," a neighbor who declined to be identified told ABC affiliate KLKN. The victim is openly homosexual, said her friend Erin Thompson who spoke with the Omaha World-Herald. She said that the attackers slashed the word "dyke" among two other epithets into the victim's stomach and arm. Hundreds of Lincoln residents came out to show their support for the victim, holding a vigil in front of the State Capitol Building Sunday evening. "Hate crimes are despicable and appalling to me and to all Lincoln residents," the city's mayor said in a statement. Among those present at the vigil were members of Lincoln's gay and lesbian community. "Someone hurt someone in my family – my LGBT family," one person told ABC's KLKN.

Some residents fear this may be a setback for the local gay and lesbian community, one that that only two months prior saw local officials approve a measure that would ensure fair treatment of gay and transgendered residents in housing and job applications. "Another reason it's difficult to come out in Lincoln," wrote one commenter on Outlinc's Facebook page, a local non-profit organization that supports the community's LGBT community. "Many in our community are understandably experiencing a great deal of sadness, anger, and confusion," said Tyler Richard, President of Outlinc, in a statement on the organization's homepage.
© ABC News

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Hungarian Jewish graves vandalised in latest anti-Semitic incident

The Hungarian Jewish community was left reeling Sunday by reports of vandalism in a Jewish cemetery where 57 graves containing the remains of around 250 people were desecrated.

23/7/2012- The incident which took place in Kaspovar, about 200 kilometres south of the capital Budapest, is currently being investigated by local police. According to the Hungarian MTI news agency, Kaspovar Mayor Karoly Szita said he was “upset and disgusted” by the attack, which Hungarian Jewish representatives claim was racially-motivated. Monika Lamperth, a member of the Hungarian Socialist Party slammed the desecration and expressed hope that responsible parties would soon be caught. The report comes less than a week after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his “concern” about the resurgence of anti-Semitism in Hungary, in a meeting in Jerusalem with Hungarian President Janos Ader. According to a statement released by his office following a meeting of the two leaders on Tuesday, Netanyahu said: “Israel and the Jewish world is very anxious about the resurgence of anti-Semitism in Hungary, “adding that “it is of the utmost importance to tackle symptoms of this dangerous phenomenon, before it spreads”. The Israeli Premier’s words of warning followed a spate of reports of anti-Jewish incidents in the EU member state, in the form of a series of state-sponsored commemorations of controversial Hungarian wartime leader and Nazi collaborator Miklos Horthy.

In June, Holocaust survivor and Nobel peace laureate Elie Wiesel returned Hungary's highest honour, which he had received in 2004, accusing the authorities of "encouraging the whitewashing of tragic and criminal episodes in Hungary's past" by honoured disgraced WWII leaders. The meeting with the Hungarian president itself was hastily arranged after an initial invitation to Hungarian parliamentary speaker Laslo Kover was rescinded after he attended a ceremony to honour pro-Nazi Hungarian writer Jozsef Nyiro. The state visit was designed to coincide with an official Israeli parliamentary event to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Swedish diplomat and Righteous Gentile Raoul Wallenberg, who saved the lives of tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust. An estimated 550,000 Hungarian Jews were killed during the Holocaust, and about 80,000 of the country's current 10 million-strong population are Jewish.
© EJP News

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By Ronald Eissens

22/7/2012- Finally last Tuesday, July 17, Jeroen de Kreek stood trial for Holocaust denial and antisemitism. De Kreek is a former lawyer who has been bombarding the Dutch public with daily articles dedicated to Holocaust denial and antisemitism. He did this through his three websites and via Twitter. A few years ago, De Kreek was twice convicted for stalking and threatening former Dutch Prime Minister Jan-Peter Balkenende. Right now, De Kreek is the biggest producer of Holocasut denial and antisemitism in the Netherlands. After complaints filed by the Dutch Cyber hate Bureau MDI, the Center for Information and Documentation Israel (CIDI) and the Dutch Jewish Broadcasting Corporation, the Public Prosecutor decided to take De Kreek to court. For the MDI, it is the largest complaint they ever filed since they started operations in 1997. Their dossier on De Kreek contains hundreds of instances of Holocaust denial and antisemitism, of which ‘only’ 87 were filed. Additionally, liberal MP Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert and Arab Culture expert Hans Jansen filed separate complaints for insult and threats, which the prosecutor attached to the case. De Kreek, convicted only a few months ago because of previous complaints about online antisemitism by MDI and CIDI, seems to be a slow learner.

The trial before the court in Amsterdam started ‘in style’; De Kreek, wearing a T-shirt with on the front ‘I love Jews’ and on the back ‘Against Zionism’, preyed on challenging the court for bias and asked the presiding Judge (Mr. Korthals Altes) immediately if his name was Cohen. When the answer was negative, he wanted to know if the other members of the Court were of Jewish origin. Korthals Altes told him ‘I have no idea’. So any ‘proof’ that the court was biased because of 'Jewishness' was not successful, but the incident certainly set the tone. De Kreek - two backpacks with books and papers with him throughout the session-was hostile and abusive, especially toward the prosecutor, Hielke Freezing-Buist and toward those who had filed the complaints. His next attempt to drag out the session was a last-moment request to call a number of witnesses: Daniel Veenboer of the MDI, Geert Wilders, Ronny Naftaniel and Elise Friedmann of the CIDI, Hans Jansen, MP Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, Sille Jansen (former MDI director), British Rabbi Aaron Cohen of Naturei Karta, (a small anti-Zionist sect active in England and New York), Director Alfred Edelstein of Jewish broadcasting Coporation and last but not least a woman he had met in the hallway "who is of Jewish origin and is afraid of Zionists’. All these requests were rejected. The prosecution and the court believed both that it was too short day and not important enough. Why De Kreek needed to have these witnesses he could not really make clear; “I want to discuss with these people to find out their motives for persecuting me”, he claimed.

For nearly three hours the judge questioned the defendant about his statements and publications with respect to Jews and the Holocaust. With pathological tenacity De Kreek defended his theories and only made matters worse for himself.

An anthology of madness:
Jews themselves caused the Holocaust, or in any case the Zionists, which are no Jews, but Nazis. The Holocaust did not happen either but if it did there are far fewer people killed than 6 million. Theodor Herzl incited all pogroms, the Rothschild family financed IG Farben and Auschwitz. The Ashkenazi wanted to colonize Palestine and therefore promoted antisemitism from the French Revolution on. Ashkenazi Jews are not real Jews because they are not descended from the real Jews, the Sephardim. Zionists are not religious and therefore are not real Jews. "Holocaust" is a concept from the Kabbalah, which states that after the Holocaust, Jews would be divine and could take possession of Palestine. The Jews themselves say that the crucifixion of Christ is their fault. The Holocaust was conceived and performed by Jews on Jews, the Zionists have built Auschwitz. Many Jews who were murdered were no Jews because Jews are not a race but a religion. My publications are in the interest of the public debate, since nobody knows all this. The court is confused, the prosecutor is confused and the judiciary in general is confused.

And so it went on and on. De Kreek said that ‘Even the Zionists of the CIDI and MDI realize that my websites are not antisemitsic’ To top it off he shared with us that the word ‘Nazi’ really comes from ‘Asheknazi’, on which the judge replied innocently "I always thought that ‘Nazi’ was an abbreviation of National Socialism” De Kreek: (giggling) "No, that would have been NaSo!” Of course the defendant insisted that when he writes "Jews", he really means 'Zionists'. When asked by the judge why he did not stick to the use of "Zionists", he answered: "that would diminish the readability”.

Finally, the Prosecutor could start reading the indictment. She did this fast and concise, since the judge has already discussed most parts of the indictment extensively with the accused. The accusation of threats against Hans Jansen was rejected, since De Kreek had written that Jansen should be ‘slaughtered as a pig in a legal sense’, which is a metaphor. However, she deemed it well-proven that both Hans Jansen and Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert were insulted in a very coarse and offensive manner; “suspect just wants to insult and humiliate”. Also on the other counts in the indictment, ‘publicly insulting Jews because of their race’, the Prosecutor considered De Kreek guilty. She denounced the influence of De Kreeks websites on young people. Websites which she described as "filled with proven baseless allegations and insults" and indicated that the influence of these on society are very negative. Moreover, she indicated that it was clear for her, given previous lawsuits against the defendant, that in the sense of the anti-discrimination legislation De Kreek had made discrimination ‘his profession or business’. As penalty the Prosecutor claimed the forfeit of the two laptops, two PCs and one hard disk confiscated during a search of De Kreek’s house, a hundred hours of community service and a suspended jail term of one month with a probationary period of three years.

Then it was De Kreek’s turn to take the floor, again proving the adagio that a lawyer who does his own defense has a fool for a client. The Judge indicated that De Kreek would get 30 minutes for his plea, the same time that had been allotted to the Prosecutor. Mr. Korthals Altes added that since De Kreek had been given more than 3 hours already to explain his ideas, the court was very generous in this. Of course De Kreek found 30 minutes to little. He claimed he needed more time to prepare and asked for a postponement of the case to be able to do so. Asked how much time he needed De Kreek retorted: ‘3 hours or maybe even 3 days, I don’t know’. De court adjourned for five minutes and returned with a decision; no delay, the request had been denied. Again De Kreek began to argue and eventually he was getting louder, gesticulating, yelling and screaming. The court tried several times to calm him down but it was useless. He turned around and pointed at the MDI staff sitting in the audience, shouting “they are the real criminals, the Zionists, the cheaters and liars!". Again the judge asked him if he wanted to start his 30 minute plea. Again De Kreek refused and added: “I challenge this court for bias”

After that, Mr. Korthals Altes could do nothing more than to say that the so-called "challenge court" would meet soon, after which he suspended the court session. The challenge court, a separate panel of judges, will meet and decide if the challenge made by defendant was just and deserved. Probably this meeting will take place next week. If these judges decide there were no grounds for the challenge (and it certainly looks that way), the court case against De Kreek will immediately recommence.

Will a conviction in this case help? Probably not. De Kreek is an obsessive antisemite and will continue publishing his filth, if necessary from jail. But a case like this delivers a clear warning to others: if you want to publish Holocaust denial and antisemitism there could be dire consequences.

Ronald Eissens is General director of Magenta Foundation, of which the MDI is a part.
© Magenta Foundation

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Headlines 20 July, 2012

Attacks against Roma in Hungary, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic

Anti-Roma violence has gained significant prominence in the media in Hungary, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic and Bulgaria.

15/7/2012- The attacks listed below, involving firebombing, shooting, stabbing, beating and other acts of violence, have already taken the lives of eight people and have left dozens of others with serious injuries. Many of the attacks have targeted families and children. The attacks in these countries since have occurred in an increasingly racist climate. These countries have seen a strengthening of extremist and openly racist groups, which spread hate speech and organising anti-Romani marches through the very same villages where people are being attacked or killed. For the most part, there have been no successful prosecutions of offenders in these attacks. This list of attacks is not exhaustive and does not address the state response to the attacks. The ERRC has not independently verified all of the information contained in these media reports.

Attacks against Roma in Hungary January 2008-July 2012
Attacks against Roma in the Czech Republic January 2008-July 2012
Attacks against Roma in the Slovak Republic January 2008-July 2012
Attacks against Roma in Bulgaria September 2011-July 2012
© The European Roma Rights Centre

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Russia detains 5 over attacks on Muslim leaders

Russian authorities said they detained five suspects on Friday over attacks that wounded the top Islamic official in the mostly Muslim Tatarstan region, killed his deputy and raised fears of the spread of militancy to Russia's heartland.

20/7/2012- The federal Investigative Committee suggested the attacks - in an area previously held up as a model of religious tolerance - were provoked by disputes over faith and money. Tatarstan's mufti, Ildis Faizov, was hospitalised after three powerful blasts hit his car in Tatarstan's capital, Kazan, on Thursday. A little earlier, deputy mufti Valiulla Yakupov was shot dead outside his home. The attacks evoked the deadly violence that plagues mainly Muslim regions of the North Caucasus, where Russian forces have fought rebels in two devastating wars since the 1991 Soviet collapse where militants want to carve out an Islamic state. Insurgents in the Caucasus sometimes target mainstream Muslim leaders backed by the authorities. The attacks in Tatarstan - on the Volga River east of Moscow and far from the Caucasus - suggested similar tensions may be deepening there. But oil-producing Tatarstan, which enjoys a higher degree of autonomy from Moscow than most other regions and is home to a majority ethnic Tatar population, is relatively peaceful. Its historic capital Kazan, on the Volga River, has been chosen as the host city for the World University Games next year.

"Investigators believe the main motive was the professional activity of the victims, including their ideological differences with opponents," investigators said in a statement. Faizov had taken "a tough position toward organisations that preach radical forms of Islam", it said. "In addition, he took control of the movement of financial resources of the organisation Ideal-Hadzh, which sent Muslims to Mecca, and on this basis a conflict occurred between the mufti and the leader of this organisation, which threatened him." It said the chairman of Ideal-Hadzh, Rustem Gataullin, 57, was among the detained suspects, along with the leader of a Muslim place of worship, Murat Galleyev, an Uzbek citizen and two other residents of Tatarstan. The suspects would be held as the investigation continued, the Investigative Committee said. President Vladimir Putin, who has emphasised the need for religious tolerance and unity in a mainly Orthodox Christian country with a large Muslim majority, promising on Thursday that the culprits would found and punished. "It is a serious signal," Putin said of the attacks, carried out hours before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began at sundown on Thursday.

'Island of Stability'
Corruption and suspicions of vote fraud - the same problems that stoked the biggest street protests of Putin's 12-year rule in recent months - are helping fuel the spread of conservative Islam in Russia's Muslim regions. Many young people are attracted to Salafism, a puritanical branch of Islam. Analysts say Faizov, elected as mufti in April 2011, has mounted a crackdown on non-traditional clerics, some of whom are natives of the North Caucasus, and local authorities believe some clerics are spreading extremist ideology. Dozens of alleged members of Hizb ut-Tahrir (Islamic Party of Liberation), a group banned in Russia since 2003 but allowed to operate in the United States and most European Union countries, have been arrested in recent years. Tatarstan's President Rustam Minnikhanov vowed late on Thursday to stamp out extremism in the region. "I promise that the toughest measures will be taken," he said on the region's website. "Tatarstan has always preached traditional Islam, and will continue to do so in the future."

"You can't isolate the Caucasus and say everything bad happens there and nowhere else. This is a single country with common problems," said Akhmet Yarlikapov, an expert on Islam with the Russian Academy of Sciences. "There are many ... who want to destabilise the situation in the region because Kazan has really been an island of stability for a long time among the Muslim regions in Russia." But others were sceptical that militant ideology motivated the attacks. "Any terrorist attack is easy to attribute to extremists, but I think this is a prosaic problem," sociologist Enver Kisiriyev, an expert on the North Caucasus at the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Reuters. "The true concern of the political and any other elite in Russia today is money."
© Reuters

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Greece migrants report 300 attacks since April

19/7/2012- Immigrants living in Greece have been targeted in at least 300 violent attacks in the last three months, local anti-racism campaigners said Thursday, calling for better police protection against a surge in hate crimes. Greece, which is suffering a fifth year of recession, is the European Union's busiest transit point for illegal immigration. In Athens, many immigrants live crammed in small apartments in squalid conditions in central neighborhoods that have seen a sharp rise in crime since the financial crisis began in late 2009. Activists have linked the surge in attacks against immigrants to the political rise of the far-right Golden Dawn party, which uses aggressive rhetoric against immigrants and has been described by political opponents as neo-Nazi. Golden Dawn members are accused of being behind several of the attacks, though the party denies any role. The anti-racism campaigners said five Indian and Pakistani immigrants were injured Tuesday when they were attacked by some 20 masked men in their homes in Menidi, 10 kilometers (six miles) north of Athens. One alleged victim, Indian immigrant Vije Kumar, had extensive cuts and bruises and said he was beaten with clubs and metal bars.

"It was 10 o'clock at night and I was sitting outside eating because it was really hot ... Suddenly about 20 men appeared, maybe more. They were all wearing hoods. They started hitting us," Kumar, a 40-year-old frame maker who has lived in Greece for 12 years, told the Associated Press. "We didn't realize what was happening in the beginning. They really beat us badly. It was like they were trying to kill us." Javied Aslam, who heads a Pakistani immigrant group in Greece, said the attackers forced their way into seven homes, assaulting occupants and smashing property. "These are fascist gangs and someone has to stop them," Aslam said. "They smashed everything — TV sets, refrigerators, doors and windows. Four of the homes were inhabited by Pakistanis and the other three by Indians." In a report issued last week, U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said it had documented recent gang attacks on dozens of immigrants living in Greece, including children and pregnant women, and also warned of a surge in xenophobic violence.

Greek police do not keep statistics on racially-motivated crimes, arguing that the motive for violent offenses is often unclear. Aslam, whose organization is part of the Athens-based Campaign Against Racism, said anti-immigrant violence had surged before general elections were held on May 6 and June 17. The votes eventually led to the election of 18 members of parliament from Golden Dawn. Since early April, and during the time the election campaigns were in full swing, Aslam said his and other groups had received 300 reports of assaults on immigrants. "The number is probably higher," he said, alleging that attackers often said they were from Golden Dawn. While denying any role in such attacks, the party has argued that the violence is far less significant than a surge in crime caused by illegal immigrants. The Campaign Against Racism's Petros Constantinou said the new government should give priority to stopping violent street gangs who pick their targets by skin color. He also accused the police of often turning a blind eye to crimes against immigrants — an accusation the police have denied in the past.
© The Associated Press

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Hungary extends hate crime laws to include gays

LGBT groups welcome change in criminal code to include homophobia and transphobia 

18/7/2012- Hungary has passed new legislation which extends hate crime laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity for the first time in the country's history. President Janos Ader signed the new Hungarian Criminal Code on 13 July and it will come into force on 1 July 2013. Although in theory homophobic and transphobic crime is punishable under current legislation, the new amended code makes specific provisions to include sexual orientation and gender identity. It also does away with degrading terminology for same-sex sexual relations, dropping the use of offensive language which has been used in Hungarian criminal law to refer to any intercourse which is not vaginal.

The government's move has been welcomed by LGBT activists in Hungary who have been pushing for this change for years. Tamás Dombos, from the Háttér Support Society for LGBT People, called it a 'surprisingly positive turn of events' and follows attempts by far-right political party Jobbik pass a motion which bans the ‘promotion of sexual deviation’ and targets lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, as well as paedophilic, behavior. 'As with any legislation, its merits are in its implementation,' Dombos told Gay Star News. 'The previous law, although not perfect, would have also enabled prosecuting LGBTI-phobic incidents as hate crimes, and still it was hardly ever enforced.

'So, yes, adopting the legislation is an important step, but only a first step, it also has to be implemented. And for that police and other authorities have to know how to deal with such cases, there is a need for clear guidance and training for the police.' Despite going ahead without incident, Budapest pride was threatened with violence by far-right groups, who also published the names and Facebook profiles of gay Euro Games organizers, as well as hotels where LGBT athletes stayed for the event. Dombos adds that many LGBT groups have strongly criticized the law for diverging from current legislation on bigamy.

While the criminal code treats marriage and registered partnership in the same way, making bigamy illegal whatever legal union you are in, the new legislation reserves those rules only for spouses. Dombos said: 'While the practical relevance of this new provision is minimal, it demonstrates well the insistence of the conservative government to distance heterosexual marriage from other family law institutions.'
© Gay Star News

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Killing Time: The Lethal Force of Anti-Roma Racism

18/7/2012- In the aftermath of the gun attack on a Roma family in Slovakia on June 17 by an off-duty policeman which left three dead and two wounded, there followed a surge of online support for the gunman. According to Irena Bihariová, from People against Racism.: ‘“public discussions turned into mass glorification of the murderer and hateful responses towards the victims.” She warned of heightened inter-ethnic tension where public debate styled the assailant as a hero and the victims as the guilty parties.

Earlier this year in April, in the neighbouring Czech Republic in the town of Chotģbuz, a Roma man was killed, shot in the head with a crossbow. The assailant claimed the victim was one of three men intent on committing a robbery, that he had been aiming at their feet. The victim’s cousin alleged that he shouted “You black whores I’ll kill you”, before deliberately taking aim and firing. The attacker later expressed his appreciation for the rally of support by the extremist Workers Social Justice Party, and the 600 signatures on a petition organized by local people in his defence. Last January, two Roma brothers aged 22 and 24 were shot, the younger killed, by a 63-year-old local retired businessman who happened to be by the railway tracks on the outskirts of the Czech village of Desna at 1:30 a.m. and carrying a firearm. State attorney, Lenka Bradáčová immediately ruled out a racial motive, and on June 18 announced that the man would not be charged as he “used a firearm to prevent an attack on him and not to cause injury or death.”

That same week in January, in the Prague 3 district of Jarov, three youths confessed to the brutal murder of a Roma woman, who was beaten, kicked and stabbed to death. According to local residents, the attackers, known for giving Nazi salutes in the streets, had been harassing and assaulting homeless people in the area for weeks prior to the murder. One of the perpetrators was remanded in custody. In the Czech town of Sokolov after an incident involving police officers, a 33-year-old Roma father of three, died in hospital on May 6. According to eye witness reports, police officers arrested Ludovít Kašpar, handcuffed him and then attacked him, kicking him and beating him. Official sources had no comment to make on the case, as it was under investigation and that any remarks would be purely speculative.

And in Romania, in May two young Roma men aged 24 and 18, were shot dead by police officers in separate incidents. The European Roma Rights Centre and Romani CRISS have demanded an independent and public investigation into the two fatalities, reminded the authorities that under international law the use of lethal force by police officers must be justified and proportionate, and called on them to condemn these deaths.

These latest killings, all occurring in the first half of 2012 cast a grim shadow over the European Union Roma Framework and all its lofty ambitions. Lethal summary justice, vigilante excesses and wanton bloody murder make a mockery of National Roma Integration Strategies. The detail in each of the above cases may differ and the circumstances may be disputed, but the one common denominator is that Roma people continue to die at the hands of state and non-state actors within the European Union. These killings are not happening in a vacuum. According to Thomas Hammarberg, anti-Roma rhetoric from politicians and media has often preceded acts by vigilantes such as mob violence and pogroms, and “distorted minds” can and do understand such messages as a call “for action”: “we see today a growing number of attacks on Roma committed by individuals mobilized by racist anti-Roma ideology. These are premeditated attacks, with the intent to kill, that target random individuals or families because of their ethnicity.”

What is especially troubling about the wider phenomenon of anti-Roma violence in recent years is the indifference and ambivalence of the majority towards the victims. Worse still, acts of violence often prompt open support from sections of the wider public for those who would mete out rough and ready “justice” and inflict collective punishment on Roma. Such violence often occurs where local and national politicians speak openly of the need to deal with “gypsies”, and appear to condone violent excesses as “understandable.” Perhaps the most notorious example was Italy in 2008. Following arson attacks on Roma camps, then Minister of Interior Roberto Maroni was quoted as having stated, “That is what happens when gypsies steal babies, or when Romanians commit sexual violence,” and Umberto Bossi’s reported response to the outbreaks of mob violence was that “people do what the state can’t manage”.

On March 8 2011, a resolution of the European Parliament on Roma called on the European Commission to link social inclusion priorities to a clear set of objectives that included protection of citizens against discrimination in all fields of life; and for the Commission, as guardian of the treaties, to ensure full implementation of relevant legislation and appropriate sanctions against racially motivated crimes. This is all well and good, but the constant clamour for “Brussels” to do something should not obstruct the plain fact that primary responsibility to combat racism, protect citizens, diffuse tension and promote dialogue lies within Member States. Back in 1993 Vaclav Havel described the Roma issue as the litmus test for the new democracies. In 2012 it’s become a litmus test for democracies across the entire European Union. Today the reality for many Roma citizens remains one of dread and fear. The challenge facing Europe is to banish that fear, guarantee the safety and security of its citizens and ensure that the rule of law prevails without prejudice across all Member States.
© Open Society Foundations - Voices

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Anti-Semitic violence down 27 percent, but harassment is on the rise

Though 2011 saw a significant decline in major acts of violence against the Jewish population world-wide, anti-Semitic harassment and incitement, including verbal threats, insults, and abusive behavior, have escalated, according to this year's Antisemitism Worldwide General Analysis, a publication of Tel Aviv University's Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry.

17/7/2012- The yearly report is based on the Center's Moshe Kantor Database for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism. Incidences of major violence, including the use of weapons, vandalism, and direct threats, fell by 27 percent compared to the previous year. Most of the decline was noted in the UK, France, and Canada, where there are large Jewish communities. But Prof. Dina Porat, Head of the Kantor Center, warns that daily harassment, especially against those who can be visibly identified as Jews, is growing. Some of the most notable cases in 2011 and 2012 involved public figures such as former London Mayor Ken Livingstone and Dior fashion designer John Galliano. "Children, students, and people who are walking in the streets are being insulted and attacked," she says. "Taboos that existed after the Second World War don't exist anymore — we live in a society and culture where more such things are admissible. Insults and threats are expressed in the media and all cultural channels." And it's not just incitement against the Jews, notes Prof. Porat, citing other minority groups such as Roma as victims of discrimination.

Connecting Judaism and Israel
According to Prof. Porat, the decline in violent acts can be attributed to a wide variety of factors, including an increase in monitoring and security in Jewish communities. World events can also be influential, and in 2011, there was an absence of a major confrontation between Israelis and Palestinians, which typically leads to violence world-wide. Operation Cast Lead in 2009 and the 2010 Marmara flotilla are believed to have sparked action against the Jews in those years. In addition, much of the far-right violence activity in 2011 was directed against immigrant minorities such as Muslims, Roma, East Africans, and others. But non-violent harassment is becoming more commonplace than ever before. Using the Internet as a tool, websites, blogs, and social networks are increasingly used to distribute anti-Semitic messages around the world. Other possibilities for the increase in harrassment could include radicalization among immigrant Muslim youth and escalating animosity due to the economic crisis, the report says. The researchers of the Kantor Center find that anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli sentiment are directly linked. Boycott campaigns and depictions of Israel as an "evil entity" are intertwined with levels of anti-Semitic harassment. Israelis and Jews alike are being accused of crimes such as holding global power, controlling the world economy, and conspiring to advance Israel's interests. "In many anti-Semitic circles, Jews and Israel are one identity. Jews are depicted as supporters of Israel, and so when Israel is negatively regarded, than the Jews are as well. One depends on the other, and the intensity of anti-Israel expression has worryingly increased," says Prof. Porat.

Balanced analysis
The Kantor Center, inaugurated two years ago, is the only academic research center that collects data on anti-Semitic incidents world-wide. Its aim is to provide a balanced and realistic portrait of the challenges facing modern Jewry through information collected from Jewish communities and other organizations around the globe. Examining incidents and determining whether or not they can be classified as "anti-Semitic" in nature is a "matter that demands a lot of caution and proportion," Prof. Porat says. The Center's areas of expertise include demography of European Jewry, questions of European Jewish identity, and legislation against discrimination on a racial basis. The Center recently launched a massive project, supported by UNESCO, to collect all such legislation and articles from constitutions in Europe, the Americas, Africa, Australia, and Asia.
© Phys. org

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Teenager beaten by yobs in racist attack on way home from Bootle school (UK)

A Merseyside teenager was beaten in a racist attack as he made his way home from school.

20/7/2012- Model student Damian Ogiugo, 15, was on his way to his mum’s shop in Bootle to show her his end of year exam results when he was assaulted by a gang of boys after they taunted him with racist abuse. Officers are now investigating the incident, which they are treating as a race hate crime. Damian was walking back from Hillside High along Balliol Road around 1pm on Wednesday after breaking up for the summer holidays, when he was set upon. Damian’s mum Grace Aikgitanyi told the ECHO she was heartbroken to see her son beaten up. Grace, who owns an African/Caribbean shop on Stanley Road, said: “My son was just minding his own business, he was excited because he had achieved great results and was on his way to show me. “Then three boys started shouting n***** over and over at him. He tried to ignore them but the next minute they were on him, hitting him in the face. “He came into the shop, his face was all swollen and he had a bloody nose. I called the police straight away.”

Damian was also taken to hospital as a precautionary measure after suffering injuries to his head. Grace, from Bootle, added: “As far as I am concerned, this attack has everything to do with the colour of his skin. Damian is a good, quiet boy and works hard. I’ve cried my eyes out, it’s so painful to see this happen to my son.” Officers are now examining CCTV from the area and an investigation is now underway. A Merseyside Police spokesman said: “We will be doing everything possible to identify and arrest the offenders in this case and we are appealing for anyone who may have been in the vicinity of Balliol Road and who may have seen this incident to get in touch.” The attackers are described as white, dressed in black with their faces covered.
© The Liverpool Echo

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19/7/2012- Polish flags were burned in various locales across the city of Belfast, Northern Ireland, last week in what the local Poles described as the latest incident of abuse against their community. The Polish Association of Northern Ireland even characterized the bonfires as a form of "racist intimidation" despite the fact that the Polish are white, European and Christian. "The Polish community embrace and respect all traditions here in Northern Ireland, but we find this behavior totally appalling and offensive,” said Maciek Bator of the Polish Association in a statement. "The Polish flag is a symbol of freedom, independence and peace for the 30,000 Polish people living in Northern Ireland and around 80 million across the globe. By burning the Polish flag and other symbols, some members of the local communities were able to express their strong political views and promote anti-Polish sentiments.” Bator added that he wants local lawmakers to find the culprits and punish them.

"For many participants, especially the youth and young people, the burning of the Polish flag could become a clear signal to expand hate to other aspects of life,” he said. “There is already a high level of hate-motivated incidents on members of the Polish community. We call on all political and community leaders in Northern Ireland to take urgent action to stop hatred and bigotry." Anna Lo, a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly and herself an immigrant from Hong Kong, condemned the flag burning. "It is completely unacceptable for people to burn any flag,” she said. “The people who burnt these Polish flags are nothing more than bigots. It is the actions of a hateful person who would do such a thing. I would urge community leaders to encourage the people involved in the building of these bonfires to ensure that nothing like a flag or an effigy is placed on them. This is clearly racist behavior, which is doing the image of Northern Ireland a lot of damage."

Poles have streamed into Northern Ireland by the thousands since Poland joined the European Union in 2004, making it easy for Polish citizens to cross national borders in search of work. Another 150,000 Poles currently reside in the Republic of Ireland. Other immigrants have also poured into Northern Ireland in recent years, creating tensions beyond the traditional Catholic-Protestant conflicts familiar for so long in Ulster. Apparently, some xenophobic Northern Irishmen resent the influx of any foreigners, regardless of race or ethnicity, with Poles a particular target due to their large numbers. Last October, a pipe bomb was left on the window of a Polish couple in an estate in Antrim. There have been literally hundreds of similar incidents against Poles over the past decade or so, including assault and graffiti. Of course, given Northern Ireland’s long history of sectarian violence, part of the animosity toward Poles may be connected to their Catholic faith. Moreover, Poles complaining of “racism” and “discrimination” is quite ironic, since Poland has long been a hotbed of anti-Semitism and other forms of prejudice for centuries. Indeed, the recent Euro 2012 soccer tournament in Poland and Ukraine raised the media’s glare on the deeply held prejudices of the residents of those countries toward a wide variety of groups.
© The International Business Times

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Police investigate Huddersfield hate crime which left man with serious head injuries (UK)

20/7/2012- Police are treating an assault in Huddersfield town centre in which a man suffered a serious head injury as a hate crime. Huddersfield South NPT are appealing for witnesses after two gay men were assaulted on King Street on July 5. At around 2:30am the two men, aged 34 and 36, were walking along King Street from Cloth Hall Street. As they passed the Vodafone shop, the pair were approached by a group of two men and two women. One of the men in this group was shadow boxing as he walked towards the two victims. As they passed, the suspect struck out at the 34-year old. The second man with the suspect tried to intervene, but the suspect ducked under his arm and again punched the 34-year old, knocking him unconscious. The 36-year old was then assaulted, receiving minor injuries. The group of four people then casually went on their way, walking onto Market Place and then on to John William Street before entering St George's Square where they tried to get a taxi from Ex-Service Taxi's, leaving before this was organised.

CCTV has shown that the suspect had been in the Tokyo nightclub on July 4 , at around 11:40pm. He is a white man in his early 20's, with short brown hair in a side parting. He was wearing a black low slung V-neck t-shirt and blue jeans as well as pumps what appeared to be white toe ends. The 34-year old victim of the assault received a serious head injury as a result and is currently still undergoing aftercare in hospital. Due to the couple being gay, police are treating the assault as a hate crime and are appealing for any witnesses, or anyone with information to contact PC4788 Lee Brooke at the Huddersfield South NPT on 01484 436642, or Crimestoppers, anonymously on 0800 555 111.
© The Huddersfield Daily Examiner

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Anti-Muslim reporting fuelling hate crimes (UK)

17/7/2012- ‘Anti-Muslim reporting’ has led to an increase in hate crimes against Muslims a report says. Journalists and media experts have submitted recommendations to Leveson Inquiry to address racist media portrayal of Muslims and it’s wider social impact. The report ‘Race and Reform: Islam and Muslims in the British Media’ draws on first-hand interviews with 16 journalists, media experts, community representatives and politicians and aims to address inaccurate anti-Muslim narratives in British media and their social impact, from the 1990s to 2011. It also examined a large range of significant academic studies, policy reports, opinion polls, and surveys. Submitted by Unitas Communications, the report found a disturbing correlation between the rise of anti-Muslim narratives in the media over the last decade, a rise in Islamophobic sentiment in wider British society and a rise in hate crimes against members of Muslim communities over this period. Findings in specific studies found the Muslim world was associated with the words ‘extremism and terrorism’, ‘despotism’ and ‘sexism’. It also found that in a study of 351 articles over a random selected one week period in 2007 - 91% of articles proved to be negative. And 12 of 19 publications had no positive associations at all. Ninety-six percent of tabloid articles were negative compared with 89% of broadsheet articles.

References to ‘radical Muslims’ outnumbered references to ‘moderate Muslims’ by 17 to one. Imagery associated with articles depicting Muslims generally depicted Muslims as a homogenous mass. Report author Dr. Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, Chief Research Officer at Unitas Communications, said: “Although there are mixed views about the term ‘Islamophobia’, our analysis of existing research to date on how the British media has reported on Islam and Muslims over the last two decades shows that this reporting has been overwhelmingly negative, stereotypical and inaccurate. “This is due largely to poor journalistic standards in the tabloid press, which sets the wider news agenda in print and broadcasting. “Within the last decade in particular, spikes in anti-Muslim reporting have correlated with an increase in negative perceptions of British Muslims in wider society. “This in turn has correlated with a dramatic rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes, which now appear to be at record levels.” The report states: ‘Contrary to conventional wisdom anti-Muslim discourses did not originate after the 9/11 attacks, but predated those attacks by some decades.’ ‘After 9/11 the scrutiny on Islam and Muslims led to an escalation of inaccurate anti-Muslim reporting in the British Media. The primary driver of this kind of reporting was the populist tabloid press.’ Among the report’s eight key recommendations to the Leveson Inquiry for media reform were.

• More robust enforcement powers for the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) to deal with third-party complaints, with a more equal right of reply and harsher penalties for violations of the press code of conduct including fines.
• A better press code of conduct revised with assistance from the Equality & Human Rights Commission to ensure media compliance with existing equalities legislation.
• Establish a PCC advisory panel on issues relating to Islam and Muslims.
• Greater engagement between media agencies and minority groups, including measures to improve diversity in employment.
• Protection for journalists from editorial pressure to generate inaccurate stories.
• There was also an under-representation of minorities and Muslims in the media. And there was a call for more to be done to increase representation.

Contributors included Political Editor of the Daily Mirror Jason Beattie, Director of POLIS and former Channel 4/ITN Programme Editor Charlie Beckett, Executive Director of the Daily Telegraph Group The Rt. Hon. Lord Guy Black, former Mail on Sunday and Daily Star reporter Richard Peppiat, former Independent on Sunday Deputy Editor and Journalism Professor Brian Cathcart, Chair of Campaign for Press & Broadcasting Freedom Professor Julian Petley, former Asia Editor at BBC World TV Rita Payne, Head of Diversity at The Guardian Yasir Mirza, and former Deputy Features Editor at The Times Burhan Wazir.
© Asian Image

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Police officer sacked after racially abusing takeaway manager (UK)

16/7/2012- A Metropolitan Police officer has been sacked after drunkenly abusing a takeaway manager at a railway station. Pc Philip Juhasz, 31, hurled abuse at Pakistani Umer Nazir, 23, at the Delice de France snack kiosk at King’s Cross railway station last September. The off-duty officer had demanded that food which was about to be thrown away was sold at a discounted price, before launching a foul-mouthed tirade when his order was refused. Juhasz was convicted of a racially aggravated public order offence at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on March 23. He was thrown out of the force following a gross misconduct hearing earlier this month. A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “A Metropolitan Police officer has been dismissed for breaching standards of professional behaviour, namely authority, respect and courtesy and discreditable conduct following a gross misconduct hearing on July 5. ”He was found guilty by magistrates of two offences contrary to section five of the public order act.”
© Asian Image

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Arundel arson investigated as hate crime (UK)

16/7/2012- Detectives are investigating a hate crime incident which took place at the Arundel Park Hotel on Saturday afternoon. Sussex Police were called at 5.40pm by a member of the public reporting that the entrance to the hotel, in The Causeway, Arundel, was on fire. Shortly afterwards, a hotel guest discovered a blanket that had racist language written on it. West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service also attended the scene and initial investigations revealed that an accelerant had been used to start the blaze. The incident is being investigated as racially aggravated arson with intent. A police spokesperson said: "We are linking the arson with the discovery in the car park of the blanket, and this is being treated as a hate crime because of the racist language that was used. "Crime of any kind is unacceptable but to target someone because of prejudice or hate is intolerable. Sussex Police is committed to bringing those responsible for hate crimes to justice. "Fortunately no-one was injured as a result of the arson but this could have been far more serious if it hadn't been spotted quickly and extinguished. "We are offering on-going support to those who work at the hotel and our investigation into the circumstances leading up to the arson is on-going. We would like to hear from anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area at the time and ask them to contact us on 101, quoting serial 1349 of 14 July. Alternatively, call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111."
© Arundel People

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Headlines 13 July, 2012

Migrants and NGOs hold walk in remembrance of killed migrant (Malta)

Migrants and NGOs unite in walk to remember Mamadou Kamara, who dies while in detention. Saddened migrants say 'We really miss you Mamadou Kamara' 

11/7/2012- A sizeable crowd held a silent and solemn march in Valletta in remembrance of Mamadou Kamara, a Malian migrant who died while detention two weeks ago. Around 500 people marched down Republic Street in Valletta led by the Migrants' Network for Equality calling for a reform in the detention policy system which is the root of all problems related to migration. As the migrants expressed their sadness at the loss of Kamara, Ali Konace said "this is only the beginning. Let's make this work. We need to work together with the Maltese people and understand eachother." The silent march was organised following the killing of Mamadou Kamara last week. The two soldiers accused of his murder were granted bail yesterday. Another person is accused of tampering with evidence in connection with the case. At the end of the march, as the demonstrators gathered in St George's Square, Ali Konace from the Migrants' Network for Equality repeatedly said "We really miss you, Mamadou Kamara."

Contrary to reports which appeared in the last few days, Konace denied that migrants inside the detention centre it was not true that the migrants at the detention centre had any kind of problem with Kamara. "On the contrary, the migrants at the detention centre were the first to hold a protest as they refused to eat because they were not getting information about what had happened," he said. A visibly shaken Konace said "People and friends are still crying for the loss of Kamara." He explained how Kamara who was affectionately known as Zoto was " a good man who was friends with everyone. He was never a troublemaker." The Malian added that "only God knows what happened to Kamara, however I believe that some witnesses know what went on." "We are not here to blame the soldiers or the police or the people at the detention services, we are here to blame the system. The problem is the detention the system," he said. "Please change the system. Travelling without a document is not our choice. We have to do it. There is no reason to imprison migrants. In fact, prisoners enjoy better conditions than migrants in detention," he added among applause from the people present.

In a stirring address, Andre Callus, from Moviment Graffitti, said that the people at the top had created a system of closed detention centres that was breeding racism and a change in attitude was needed from the highest levels. "If the system does not change more beatings and more deaths will happen. Beatings occur behind closed doors every week." He added that condemnation alone is not enough to stop such incidents from repeating themselves. "If more beatings and killings occur, then it is the people at the top who are to blame," he said to the crowd which included a number of MPs and politicians from all three parties. Callus noted that migration is not a national security issue, however he admitted that big challenges are posed by migration. While appealing to change the system and discourse used, Callus said "A change in the attitude at the highest levels is the only solution to racism."

Osman Dicko from the Migrants' Network for Equality said the that the media should be given free access in the detention centres and invited the authorities to open up the centres in order to "discover the truth about what happened to Kamara." He added that the press should also publish what really goes on inside the closed detention centres and show the public what detention really is. Nationalist MPs Beppe Fenech Adami, Karl Gouder, David Agius and Charlo Bonnici, MEP Simon Busuttil and PN officials Frank Psaila and Paula Mifsud Bonnici were also present. They were joined by Labour MP Evarist Bartolo and Alternattiva Demokratika's Arnold Cassola. Fenech Adami told MaltaToday that the Nationalist Party condemns all acts of violence, including racially motivated violence. He said "we say no to every form of racism" and said that the PN was there to express its solidarity with migrants and anyone who suffers from any kind of discrimination.

Labour MP Evarist Bartolo told MaltaToday that "everyone should be treated humanely, irrespective of skin colour." He explained that integration does not happen alone and called for serious initiatives to accept diversity. "It is not easy and it is not a one-way traffic issue. Both migrants and Maltese people have to cooperate." Bartolo added that although integration is complicated "it is possible. The Maltese people are good hearted and I believe that any form of prejudice they might have will fall." On his part, AD's Arnold Cassola said the detention policy "criminalises migrants and creates a barrier between migrants and the Maltese people." He added that although he was pleased to see members of both big parties present, "it is a pity that Foreign Affairs Minister Tonio Borg and Opposition leader Joseph Muscat are not here today. While Borg propagates the idea of push backs, Muscat supports the suspension of international obligations." The organisations taking part in the walk included the Jesuit Refugee Service, Moviment Graffitti, Aditus Foundation, Third World Group, Koperattiva Kummerc Gust, Alternattiva Demokratika Zghazagh, Get Up Stand Up, Integra Foundation and Kopin.
© Malta Today

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Rights Group Urges Greek Crackdown on Race Crimes

10/7/2012- A leading human rights organization is urging Greece's new government to take "urgent action" to curb an "alarming" increase in attacks against Asian and African immigrants in the country's capital. In a 100-page report issued Tuesday, U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said xenophobic attacks by gangs in Athens have increased over the past two years, leaving dozens of victims. It called on the government to create a national strategy to combat race-related crime, including obligatory training for police officers. Greece, suffering a fifth year of recession, is the European Union's busiest transit point for illegal immigration. In recent parliamentary elections, the far-right Golden Dawn party — described by some as neo-Nazi and blamed for a rash of violence against immigrants — managed to win 18 seats.
© The Associated Press

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French Synagogue Vandalized For Third Time in Ten Days

A synagogue in Paris was vandalized Wednesday night, the third such incident within a ten-day period. 

13/7/201- The synagogue of Noisy-le-Grand of the Seine-Saint-Denis district in Paris, was vandalized on Wednesday night, in the third such incident within a ten-day period, The Algemeiner reported. “I am 73 years old and I cried like a child,” synagogue caretaker Maurice Zana told Anach Infos, a French-language Jewish news website. “They came to plunder, but all in all they took only two vacuum cleaners,” Zana said. “They must have been upset that there was nothing else to take.”
The perpetrators threw prayer books and shawls on to the floor and shattered windows. “They vandalized the walls, tables, clocks and the floor,” Zana continued. “They ransacked all the drawers where tallisim (prayer shawls) are kept, they threw the holy books on the floor.” The Bureau National de Vigilance Contr L’Antisemtisme (BNVCA), a French anti-Semitism watchdog, has alerted the authorities of the incident, calling for additional measures to be implemented in order to prevent further hate crimes. “Despite the measures taken, things persist, and I think that we need additional legislation, because the Jewish community is angered,’’ said BNVCA president Sammy Ghozlan.

Recently, there has been a surge of anti-Semitic incidents in France, causing concern in the Jewish community. In March, a Muslim gunman murdered a rabbi and three Jewish children at the Ozar HaTorah school in Toulouse. In June, France’s Chief Rabbi Gilles Bernheim received death threats which were contained in a viciously anti-Semitic document sent via Facebook. In July, three men were arrested France for attacking an 18-year-old Jewish man in a suburb outside Paris. Several days before that, an anti-Semitic gang attacked three young Jewish men with hammers and iron bars in the French city of Lyon. Two of the victims required hospital care. In response to the increasing anti-Semitic incidents in the country, the French Ministry of Interior issued a statement expressing its determination "to combat the resurgence of this great evil that is anti-Semitism," adding that "it is an insult to the values and history of our Republic."
© Arutz Sheva

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Attackers in France to be Prosecuted for Anti-Semitism

French judge rules: the anti-Semitic motive of two Arabs who attacked a Jewish student will be included in the lawsuit against them. 
 
10/7/2012- A French judge has ruled that the anti-Semitic motive of two Arabs, who attacked a Jewish student of the Otzar Hatorah school in Toulouse on a train last Wednesday, will be included in the lawsuit against them. The 17-year-old student was attacked on the train as it was traveling between Toulouse and Lyon. According to a French Interior Ministry report, the youth was wearing religious symbols. Conductors and another passenger overpowered the assailants. The two attackers, who were charged with carrying out an anti-Semitic attack, tried to argue that the incident was a mere brawl in which they tried to defend themselves against Jewish students. The judge rejected these arguments and pointed out the anti-Semitic motive in the statement of claim. Meanwhile, AFP reported on Monday, the French Interior Minister spoke of a worrying “new anti-Semitism” in an interview with French Jewish station Radio J. “There is anti-Semitism that exists in our neighborhoods, in our suburbs,” declared Manuel Valls during the interview. He added, “There are in our neighborhoods, youths, or younger persons, who in the name of a collective identity they feel is under attack, decide on the most ignorant course, the most dangerous to our values, to perpetuate attacks on Jews. They consider Jews to be the enemy.”

Valls said that “for many years, we have seen a new anti-Semitism perpetuated by youths”, adding that this form of bigotry could no longer be equated to “events that occur elsewhere in the world, such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”. Asked directly whether this anti-Semitism was perpetuated by youths claiming to be Muslim, he replied, “I’m afraid (it might be) so”, calling on people “to be moderate in expressing it”, adding it was not his intention to stigmatize other French citizens, or to throw “suspicion (on) our citizens, notably those of Islamist persuasion”. AFP noted that Valls’ analysis of an evolving anti-Semitism was supported by the umbrella representative organization of French Jewry, the CRIF. According to the report, CRIF president Richard Prasquier expressed the fears of the Jewish community of the recent resurgence of anti-Semitism in a meeting with French president Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace on Thursday, following this latest incident.
© Arutz Sheva

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Teenager stabs gay brother to death in Turkey

Reports of gruesome murder of older brother by 14-year-old in Gaziantep 

10/7/2012- A 14-year-old boy stabbed and murdered his gay brother in Gaziantep in southern Turkey on Wednesday last week, according to reports from local news sources. The 26-year-old victim’s name was Burhan Tatli, said Turkish news website Sabah. His younger brother reportedly had been made fun of by his peers because of his brother’s sexuality. The murderer cut his brother’s throat and stabbed him four times on different parts of his body. Turkish LGBT activist Kemal Ordek said: ‘this portrays how this system and morals turn a child into a murderer’. There is no extra protection for victims of hate-crime law in Turkey, and the government has been criticized by international organizations such as Human Rights Watch for failing to prevent violence against gay and transgender citizens. The ‘honor’ killing of Turkish LGBT rights activist Abmet Yildiz in 2008 inspired a film released earlier this year. A report from the International Lesbian and Gay Association Europe (ILGA-Europe) in May named Turkey as one of the worst places to live for LGBT people in Europe.
© Gay Star News

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Krakow waiters made anti-Semitic remarks, Jewish patrons allege (Poland)

9/7/2012- A group of Jews patronizing a restaurant in Krakow said they were verbally and physically attacked by waiters. The anti-Semitic and racist comments allegedly were made over the weekend at the Moment restaurant during the Polish city’s Jewish Culture Festival. The group was from Poland, Israel and Germany. Uwe von Seltmann said his group came to meet friends who were sitting at a table in front of the restaurant. “Immediately after our arrival I heard the words ‘f***ing Jews’ and something like ‘we’ll not serve you’ spoken by a waiter,” von Seltmann said. “The four members of staff were in general very unfriendly, and their body language showed that they would not serve us.” A member of the group went inside the restaurant to complain about the slurs, which led to a verbal confrontation, von Seltmann told JTA. Following the complaint, a waiter threw an object at a female member of the group. The group then left the restaurant and, according to von Seltmann, someone told them to “Go back to Israel.” Moment manager Sebastian Wojnar said he would punish the staff involved in the altercations. “We are an open place that promotes dialogue between cultures and nations,” he said. The incident was reported to the police.
© JTA News

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9/7/2012- Migrant children are being told to develop a "thicker skin" to cope with racist bullying at school, according to the Immigrant Council of Ireland. Rather than acknowledging the problem and developing education programmes and strategies to prevent racist bullying, there is a "reluctance by adults and authorities" to deal with the problem, the ICI said in a submission to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. "Recent research in north inner-city Dublin has highlighted that migrant-origin boys experience both overt and covert forms of racial bullying. "A high prevalence of racist name calling and physical violence was also recorded. The ICI is calling on the Government to tackle racism and xenophobia "as a national priority" through education and awareness-raising campaigns.
© The Irish Independent

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Trouble linked to kebab shop (UK)

12/7/2012- Police have been called to reports of anti-social behaviour at a kebab shop nine times in just six months. The calls have been made since January following problems at KFS takeaway, in Pinfold Avenue, in Norton, above. Five of the reports related to rowdy behaviour, three alleged racial abuse and one was a public order complaint. Staffordshire Police have released the data after 23-year-old Anthony Shenton admitted racially abusing KFS owner Abdul Ghafoor. Shenton, of Edge Street, Burslem, was jailed for 18 weeks and banned from going within 100 metres of the kebab shop for five years by magistrates last week. A Staffordshire Police spokesman said: "We are committed to tackling all forms of anti-social behaviour and hate crime and to bringing offenders to justice. "Hate crimes will be investigated and treated with the utmost seriousness. "We would encourage anyone with concerns about anti-social behaviour or hate crime in their community to contact us on 101, or speak to their local neighbourhood officers out on patrol."
© This is Staffordshire

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England: Vandals targeted Islamic centre in Truro with neo-Nazi graffiti

12/7/2012- Racist graffiti has been daubed on an Islamic centre near Truro. Swastikas and a symbol representing a violent neo-Nazi group were scrawled on the walls of the converted Methodist chapel at Quenchwell near Carnon Downs. The venue was repeatedly targeted four years ago when vandals nailed a pig's head to the door and fire-bombed the building. The graffiti that appeared over the weekend included a reference to C18 – a neo-Nazi group with links to extreme violence. Disturbingly the 18 in its name is derived from the initials of Adolf Hitler with A and H as the first and eighth letters of the alphabet. The vandals also daubed CFC on the wall, for Chelsea Football Club, whose captain John Terry was in court this week for an allegation of racially abusing Queens Park Rangers' player Anton Ferdinand. Mr Terry denied the charge. Restaurateur Tipu Choudhury, the owner of the Cornwall Asian Islamic Centre, declined to comment. Police confirmed they were investigating the attack but would not comment further.
© This is Cornwall

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11/7/2012- Asylum seekers hoping for a new life in South Yorkshire were showered with glass when yobs hurled missiles at their home – in what they believe was a racist attack. Iffat Shaheen, aged 26, her husband Zavir Hussain, 29, and their three-year-old daughter Aroosha, originally from Pakistan, have now been offered alternative accommodation amid concerns for their safety after they contacted the Home Office. They claim that on the same night a family of asylum seekers from Sri Lanka living in the same block of flats on High Stone Road, Barnsley, also had a window smashed. Iffat, who is four months pregnant, was taken to hospital and she claims her daughter is barely eating and has been left frightened. The family had only been living in Barnsley for six weeks when their home was attacked.

Offat said: “It was my daughter’s bedroom window that was smashed first, but luckily the glass did not reach her. “However, when they smashed ours we were covered in glass because we sleep near the window. “God saved us that night, because they could have killed us. “My daughter was crying and scared afterwards. “When they threw something at my bedroom window they hit it and smashed all the glass first of all and then straight afterwards a stone came through.” She said she believes her family and the other asylum seekers in the same block were ‘targeted’. Iffat said: “The police told us that they think it was drunken youths who did this, but on the same night just two homes were targeted – where asylum seekers live in both. “We believe this was a racist attack and don’t feel safe.

“We contacted the Home Office over the weekend and told them of our fears and asked to be moved. “We have no family or friends here – just one friend in London, so we have been felt feeling very frightened and alone.” A police spokeswoman said: “South Yorkshire Police takes allegations of racially-motivated attacks seriously and is investigating the recent reported incidents at High Stone Road, Barnsley. “Officers from the local safer neighbourhood team have visited the families to discuss preventative measures and will be doing extra patrols in the area. “Officers are currently investigating a number of positive lines of inquiry and are hopeful of identifying the offenders.”
© The Star

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3 more men ordered held in alleged England terrorist plot aimed at far-right group

11/7/2012- Three men from central England appeared in court Wednesday to be accused by prosecutors of taking part in an alleged plot to attack Britain’s far-right English Defense League. Anzal Hussain, 24, Mohammed Saud, 22, and 22-year-old Zohaib Ahmed appeared Wednesday at Westminster Magistrates’ Court charged with preparing an act of terrorism, which carries a potential life sentence. Deputy Chief Magistrate Daphne Wickham ordered the three men from Birmingham, central England, held in prison custody until a hearing on July 31. On Tuesday, three other men were also ordered held. All six will appear together at the hearing at London’s Central Criminal Court. Prosecutors allege that the men were involved in manufacturing an improvised explosive device and planned to attack a rally of the English Defense League.

The English Defense League claims to be a peaceful opponent of radical Islam, but opponents accuse the organization of racism. Some of its demonstrations have turned violent, while the government has previously banned the group from marching through some mainly Muslim neighborhoods. In a separate case, London police said that two men detained in anti-terrorism raids last week in the British capital had been released without charge. Police had arrested seven people on July 5-7 in a series of swoops. Scotland Yard said an 18-year-old man and a 24-year-old man detained at an address close to London’s Olympic stadium had been freed without charge. The 24-year-old man was hit by a Taser gun during his arrest, but did not require hospital treatment. A 30-year-old woman also detained had previously been freed by police. Authorities have said none of the recent alleged plots have any link to London’s Olympic Games, which begin on July 27. 
© The Associated Press

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Man arrested after demo by South Wales National Front in Swansea (UK)

9/7/2012- A 21-year-old man has been arrested during a demonstration by Far Right campaigners in Swansea. Police intervened during the demonstration in the city centre on Saturday organised by the South Wales National Front in Union Street. Officers made the arrest for an alleged racial public order offence. They also confiscated banners and posters to ensure there was no breach of the peace. The 21-year-old man is believed to be from Swansea and has been released on bail following the arrest. Chief Superintendent Mark Mathias said: "South Wales Police can confirm that they attended a report of a small demonstration in the city centre as a result of which one man was arrested. "We had a group of between 15 and 20 local men who were demonstrating with banners. "It was believed to be in connection with a recent court case. "We can confirm banners were removed to ensure there was not a breach of the peace. "Inquiries are ongoing." Adam Lloyd, deputy organiser for the South Wales National Front, said the event was attended by around 30 members and supporters of the National Front.

Refused
Mr Lloyd said: "The National Front has got people in many places. "The point of the demonstration was to raise awareness of a court case." Mr Lloyd said the demonstration received positive support from the general public. He said: "We had a good 20 minutes, then the police turned up. "They tried to stop the demonstration straight away which we refused." Mr Lloyd confirmed the man who was arrested was a supporter rather than a member of the South Wales National Front. The deputy organiser also said his group were supportive of re-instating the death penalty. He added: "They should bring back capital punishment for certain crimes, for paedophiles and terrorists."
© This is South Wales

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Half of all gay pupils in Scotland suffer at hands of homophobic bullies (UK)

9/7/2012- More than half of lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils in Scottish secondary schools experience homophobic bullying, according to a new report. The Stonewall Scotland study also found that a quarter (26 per cent) of them have attempted to take their own life, while more than half (54 per cent) deliberately harm themselves. Less than a third (31 per cent) said that their school responds quickly to homophobic bullying 
behaviour. The organisation is now calling on schools, the Scottish Government, local authorities and Education Scotland to continue working to tackle homophobic bullying. Stonewall Scotland director Colin Macfarlane said: “The mark of a society is how it treats its young people and so it’s unacceptable that over half of gay young Scots face a daily nightmare of homophobic bullying, and deeply worrying that many schools and teachers still fail to challenge it effectively. “At a time when policy-
makers look for ways to boost attainment and raise aspiration, it is deeply disturbing that half of lesbian, gay and bisexual young Scots say they don’t feel that they are achieving their best at school. “We won’t rest until every single gay young person in this country can walk through their school gates every morning without fear of being bullied just because of the way they were born.”

Almost all (99 per cent) of those surveyed said that they hear homophobic language –like “that’s so gay” and “you’re so gay”, The School Report 2012 found. Fewer than three in five (57 per cent) of lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils in Scotland report that their schools say homophobic bullying is wrong. Meanwhile, almost half (49 per cent) said they do not feel they are achieving their best at school. The findings are specific to the 158 lesbian, gay and bisexual young Scots aged 12-19 who took part in a national survey of 1,614 young people. Stonewall commissioned the Centre for Family Research at the University of Cambridge to conduct the 
online survey which was carried out between November 2011 and February 2012. The report suggests measures that schools should take, such as ensuring that teachers are trained on how to combat homophobic behaviour, and that tackling the problem is the responsibility of the entire school community. It also proposes that the Scottish Government should encourage schools to use their flexibility within the Curriculum for Excellence to integrate sexual orientation issues into teaching and learning.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The Scottish Government is committed to tackling all forms of bullying, including homophobic and transphobic bullying. “This commitment has been demonstrated through the 
establishment and continued support for the national anti-bullying service, respectme, which has a remit to give children and young people the skills and confidence to deal with all types of bullying.”
© The Scotsman

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Racism probe at Varndean school in Brighton (UK)

8/7/2012- A racism probe into a school has been launched after parents claimed their black children were being repeatedly abused by other students. Officers from Brighton and Hove City Council have been called in to investigate claims of a “culture of racial abuse” at Varndean School. The alarm was raised by Mosaic, a charity supporting black and mixed-race families in Brighton and Hove. Abigail Sinclair, a Mosaic community worker, said she was in contact with the parents of six children at the school who had complained of repeated verbal and physical racial abuse. She added the “majority” of school racism cases dealt with by the charity in the past 18 months had involved students at Varndean. She said: “Many children do not feel safe and secure in that school. Varndean had a good record up until about two years ago but, since then, more and more parents are coming forward with some terrible stories. There appears to be a culture of racial abuse there. I have been here for six years but this last eighteen months has been really bad, especially at Varndean.” Ms Sinclair claimed white students had developed their own codeword insults to keep under the radar of teachers including ‘reggin’- an anagram of a racial taunt.

As well as verbal abuse, black students have also reported physical bullying both in and outside the school. She said: “We’ve had children who have been chased by groups of white students down the road. This problem is getting worse and I am fearful for the future.” After a meeting between Mosaic staff and Varndean headteacher, William Deighan, the school called in Brighton and Hove City Council’s healthy schools team to investigate. On Wednesday, The Argus reported a 14-year-old Varndean student had been hounded by a gang of racist bullies for four months. Her mother said she was “unsurprised” by the decision to probe racism at the school. She said: “There’s clearly a serious issue there and, hopefully, the school will now respond properly to accusations of racism by its students. This has opened up a can of worms because it’s clear [the 14-year-old girl was not an isolated case.” A spokesman from Varndean School said: “The headmaster invited the Mosiac charity to meet him and those parents who felt the school was not providing enough support. “Out of the meeting between William and Mosaic came a suggestion, from William himself that he would ask for assistance in reviewing the concerns using the council’s Healthy Schools team. “The school is waiting to receive the findings. If the report shows work needs to be done then the school will meet any challenge raised head-on.”

A spokeswoman for Brighton and Hove City Council said: “The school informed us when issues were recently raised relating to racism within the school community and has taken these complaints seriously. “Work has begun to explore what the issues are and to build on good practice and develop activities and actions which will lead to a reduction in racist incidents, and will ensure that, if racism does occur, it is dealt with effectively.”
© The Argus

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Students fined for anti-Semitic taunts and egg-throwing in London (UK)

Quartet, who denied targeting Jews, must pay compensation  

8/7/2012- Four students were fined for throwing raw eggs and shouting anti-Semitic taunts at groups of Jews in Northwest London. The students were each fined $642, some of which will be paid in compensation to their victims, the London Jewish Chronicle reported on Friday. Each was convicted of using religiously aggravated and insulting words likely to cause alarm or distress, according to the paper. One victim told the court she and friends were walking home when a car slowed down. “One passenger shouted something — definitely including the word ‘Jew.’ Something hit my waist. Then the car drove off. I felt really angry,” Katrina Lester said. The four students denied they had specifically targeted Jews.
© JTA News

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Headlines 6 July, 2012

Russia: 'Everyone to Buchenwald' spray-painted on Jewish building

Vandals desecrate building housing Jewish Agency offices in St. Petersburg. Official: Several anti-Semitic incidents across Europe

5/7/2012- Unknown vandals defaced a building housing the offices of the Jewish Agency in St. Petersburg, Russia with anti-Semitic graffiti, Ynet reported. The vandals spray-painted the building with swastikas, while the words “Everyone to Buchenwald” were daubed on a nearby building in very large letters. Workers discovered the graffiti on Sunday morning. Buchenwald was one of the largest concentration camps used by the Nazis during World War II. Some 65,000 people perished there. The JA building is located in one of St. Petersburg's central neighborhoods. The city is home to some 100,000 Jews. In the past, dozens of Jewish tombstones were desecrated in the Russian city, and an explosive device was placed outside a local synagogue.

Amos Hermon, chairman of the Jewish Agency's Task Force on Anti-Semitism, told Ynet on Thursday that the past few days have seen several anti-Semitic incidents, mostly in Western Europe, which were characterized by anti-Jewish graffiti. Some of the incidents, he said, included violence. Hermon said hundreds of nationalists in Riga, Latvia demonstrated outside the city's Great Synagogue Wednesday night during an educational event focusing on the Holocaust. In another recent incident, a rabbi in France was assaulted by three people while riding the subway. In London, a yeshiva student was assaulted by four men, and in Germany, Jewish cemeteries were desecrated.
© Ynet News

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Online anti-Semitism in Spain doubled in 2011, report says

5/7/2012- Online anti-Semitism in Spain doubled in volume last year, according to a Spanish Jewish community monitor. In a report on anti-Semitism in Spain in 2011, the Observatory on Anti-Semitism in that country counted more than 1,000 anti-Semitic sites and web pages that it said were created in Spain. In 2010 the observatory counted 400 such sites. The observatory includes Spanish Facebook pages and groups in its reports. The document on 2011 is the observatory's third annual monitor report. The observatory was co-founded by the Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain.

In addition to the observatory's research of anti-Semitic websites, the observatory received 57 reports of anti-Semitic incidents in 2011. Of those, the observatory deemed 42 to be anti-Semitic. In 2010, the center received half the number of reports. "There is growing public awareness of the [observatory] initiative," a Jewish federation spokesperson said. A few of the incidents reported involved the heckling of Jews in public. On Sept. 17, a group of youths confronted members of a Jewish cultural group at a mall in Saragossa. The youths allegedly told the group that Jews were "fascists, racist murderers" and that "there should be no Jews in the world."

Spain, a nation of some 47 million people, has approximately 50,000 Jews. The similarly sized Dutch Jewish community registered 123 anti-Semitic incidents in 2011 throughout the Netherlands, with a population of 17 million. During 2011, "there have been notable progresses in the legal field, as well as increased efforts in the fight against anti-Semitism," the Observatory on Anti-Semitism in Spain's report said. The observatory nonetheless called on the political establishment to address "ambiguous wording" in the penal code. This, according to the observatory, leads to "contradictions" in the fight against hate crimes.
© JTA News

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5/7/2012- A teenage student from a French Jewish school that was targeted by an Islamist serial killer this year was assaulted on a train in an attack condemned by the Jewish community. The 17-year-old victim said he was beaten by two teenage attackers of North African origin on a Toulouse-Lyon train late Wednesday, according to a police source. He said he was insulted and attacked after speaking on the phone to his brother, “who has a Jewish name.” The French Interior Ministry called it an anti-Semitic attack, and said in a statement that a passenger and railway employees had intervened to stop it. The ministry said the boy was wearing a visible sign of his religious affiliation and called it an “anti-Semitic attack.” But the victim, speaking later to local media, denied initial reports that he was wearing a Star of David pendant. The alleged assailants were detained Thursday in an army recruitment office in Lyon.

Toulouse city’s Ozar Hatorah school, where the victim was educated, was targeted in March by serial killer Mohamed Merah, who was later killed by police after a 32-hour siege of his flat. Mr. Merah, 23, a petty criminal of Algerian origin who claimed to be acting for al-Qaeda, killed three children and a teacher at the school, later saying he sought to avenge Palestinian children killed by Israel. Mr. Merah also shot dead three French troops in separate incidents. Ariel Bensemhoun, the president of the Jewish community of Toulouse, expressed “dismay” about what he termed “a new anti-Semitism that is ravaging France.” According to Interior Ministry data, the number of anti-Semitic acts and threats in the period from January through April was up 46 per cent over the previous year in France, although the rising trend had flattened out since a peak in March.
© AFP

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French teen is beaten in anti-Semitic attack on train

5/7/2012- A French Jewish teenager was the victim of a violent anti-Semitic attack on a train traveling between Toulouse and Lyon. The victim, 17, reportedly is a student at Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse, where an Islamist gunman shot and killed three students and a teacher in March. He was accosted verbally before he was beaten by two assailants Wednesday night, the French news service AFP reported. Another passenger and train conductors reportedly came to his aid. The teen was wearing what the French Interior Ministry called "a distinctive religious symbol," according to AFP. Railroad authorities reported the assailants to police but neither had been called in for questioning by Thursday morning. The French Jewish umbrella group CRIF in a statement called the attack "another development in the worrying trend of anti-Semitism in our country."
© JTA News

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Shootings bare racist sentiments (Slovakia)

Policeman's fatal attack on Roma home glorified by the public  

4/7/2012- Milan Juhász, a 51-year-old policeman, did not go to work Saturday, June 16. Instead, he took an illegally held gun and headed to Komárņanská street in Hurbanovo, a small town in southern Slovakia. He stopped in front of the house of a Roma family and proceeded to shoot dead a 44-year-old man, his 19-year-old son and 24-year-old son-in-law, as well as shooting in the chest the 44-year-old victim's second son and wounding the son's wife. The police detained Juhász, who by then was threatening to commit suicide, shortly after the killings. Human rights activists say the event could exacerbate tensions between the Roma minority and the non-Roma majority in Slovakia. "Not just the shooting itself, but all the factors that accompany this case could impact [relations]," Irena Bihariová, the head of human rights watchdog People Against Racism, told The Slovak Spectator. "I am referring to the responses of the public, when [online] public discussions turned into mass glorifications of the murderer and hateful responses toward the victims, and the overall tone of the public discourse, which styles the offender as a hero and the victims as the guilty [parties]."

Laco Oravec, a program director from the Milan Šimečka Foundation, agreed the case had unleashed negative emotions and tended to reinforce some popular myths. "Every such tense situation or conflict elevates sentiments and emotions, as though bringing out all the context from the mental memory of the society," Oravec said. "It is not about particular cases but rather society being guided by such images that then define relations between Roma and non-Roma." The Office of the Special Prosecutor has charged Juhász with premeditated murder, home intrusion and carrying a concealed weapon, police spokesman Michal Slivka told the TASR newswire June 18. If found guilty, Juhász could face 25 years' to life imprisonment, Slivka added. A momentary lapse of reason fueled by professional frustration may have prompted Juhász to kill, the Sme daily speculated, citing sources close to the investigation. The police are reportedly working on the theory Juhász was unable to handle problems related to a group of citizens in the small town where he worked as a municipal policeman, and thus took matters into his own hands. This version is, according to Sme, supported by the sole explanation the murderer offered when brought before a judge: "I woke up in the morning with the thought that I have to restore order."

Police investigators initially claimed the shooting probably lacked a racial motive. In such a case, the man would have killed even more people, they argued. Juhász reportedly knew the residents of Komárņanská street, where two Roma families live in neighboring houses. Interior Minister Robert Kaliņák said the man had visited the houses as part of his police duties. Four of the five victims of the shooting had criminal records, according to Kaliņák. Several media outlets decided to disable and delete online public comments under their stories about the Hurbanovo shooting after readers posted a large number of offensive comments about the victims. Bihariová suggested one reason behind such attitudes among the public is the unresolved situation of socially excluded communities and said the tragedy should push the government to make the issue a top priority. "People are frustrated, so they go to vent to places where they can hide behind their anonymity," Bihariová said. "They are not aware that if this is how they formulate the 'public demand,' the politicians will cheer them on in a populist manner and real solutions will be set aside."

Deep-rooted bias
Although public discourse following the event was rife with extremist sentiments and racist commentary, including calls for mass Roma deportation and extermination, it has also been a rallying call for Roma rights supporters. A group of intellectuals - Klára Orgovánová from the Roma Institute, Jarmila Lajčáková from the Center for the Research of Ethnicity and Culture and František Kutlík from the Slovak Institute for Mediation - sent an open letter addressed to President Ivan Gašparovič, Prime Minister Robert Fico, Parliament and other state authorities in which they ask that the shooting be fully and properly investigated. They also called for a stop to repressive, anti-Roma measures and proactive legislative measures to eliminate growing intolerance toward Roma residents in Slovakia. "Surveys have been warning against deep-rooted prejudices and hate toward members of the Roma minority for a long time," the letter states, The intellectuals also cite a 2010 survey that indicates up to two-thirds of respondents openly supported discriminatory actions against Roma citizens.

Oravec noted this was not the first appeal to be addressed to the government, but expressed doubt regarding the effectiveness of such calls. "The minority voice, which calls for a different quality of relations, reflection and change to these inter-ethnic relations, is really almost … unheard," he said, adding the government, too, often ignored this voice. According to Bihariová, it is symptomatic no politician or public authority rejected this tone of discourse or expressed at least elementary solidarity with the victims. "These are issues the Roma are aware of, and neither the shooting nor these attitudes of the public help mutual relations," she said. Several media outlets have compared the Hurbanovo shooting with the shooting spree in Devínska Nová Ves in August 2010, in which a Slovak man killed several members of one Roma family, injured several other people in the street and later committed suicide. Bihariová sees one similarity in the cases. "In both, the media, but also the wider public, sought evidence to ease the gravity of the offenders' act and elevate him to the position of a martyr," she said. "At the same time, evidence was sought regarding the victims' 'problematic nature.' "
© The Slovak Spectator

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Greece: Anti-immigrant Golden Dawn party rides wave of xenophobia

He doesn’t walk alone. Not to his convenience store in the morning. Not to his apartment at night. Not anymore. When Tipu Sultan Mirza Mohamed moves, three or four fellow immigrants from Bangladesh move with him.

3/7/2012- The Bangladeshis of Athens now travel in packs because the thugs travel in packs. In the last month, supporters of Golden Dawn, the virulently anti-immigrant far-right party whose logo is a modified swastika, have beaten, among many others, an Egyptian fisherman sleeping on his roof, two Algerians sleeping near a beach, a Pakistani man and Bangladeshi man walking in a subway station, and an Albanian standing on the street. None of this — nor an assault this month by a Golden Dawn MP on a Communist female MP on live television — has appeared to do anything to dampen the party’s popularity. After Golden Dawn earned 6.97 per cent of the vote in the May federal election, up from 0.23 per cent in 2009, some leftists dismissively argued that this was a one-time protest statement. But Golden Dawn got 6.92 per cent in the election on June 17. The party, which uses slogans like “rid this land of filth,” was a fringe movement from its founding in 1980 until three years ago. Then came the economic crisis that sent unemployment skyrocketing to 23 per cent and forced Greece to submit to other European countries’ humbling austerity demands. Next, under ideal breeding conditions for ultranationalism and fascism, came the wave of xenophobia and violence that has Mohamed and his compatriots living in fear.

“Nobody here safe now,” Mohamed, 42, said in halting English, the day after the election in his store in the poor immigrant neighbourhood of Omonia. “Nobody. When I come here in 2004, I go alone to the square in the night, nobody stop me. Now in the day I’m afraid to go alone. They come to me, they ask, ‘Why you come here? When you go back to your home? Why don’t you leave?’ I don’t know why they ask this. We are in Europe. Europe is human rights. Where go human rights? Where? If I can’t walk on the road, where go human rights?” He doesn’t look like a brown shirt. In fact, he wears a blue-collared shirt that says PepsiCo above the breast pocket. The 40-year-old man, who says he can’t give his name because of his job, is a well-coiffed Pepsi salesman in stylish jeans. He is also an enthusiastic supporter of Golden Dawn. The attacks on immigrants? “I’m not sure if what the media says is 100 per cent true, but even if it is, this has an impact on the immigrants. They’re more afraid. So things are more calm, and there is less violence against Greeks. If the police isn’t doing its job, someone else has to.” Slapping another politician repeatedly on TV? “What people took from that was that Golden Dawn will do the same thing to the entire political system.”

Golden Dawn’s vehement stand against the country’s bailout agreements — its 55-year-old leader, Nikos Michaloliakos, calls them “slavery” — appeals to the same anger against austerity and old-guard politicians that has propelled the sudden rise of a new leftist party, Syriza. Like many extremist parties, Golden Dawn is especially popular with young men. Half of the country’s under-25 population is unemployed; Golden Dawn offers poor youths with few prospects an easy scapegoat for their financial troubles, a social institution in which they can feel important, and a salve for their wounded national pride. “Local guys can’t go to the square because of the immigrants. They’re scared,” said Stavros Tsouis, 18, a house painter and Golden Dawn supporter in the Athens suburb of Markopoulo, which has also seen an immigrant influx. “If other parties cannot get rid of them, there is no other way. It (violence) is not a proper way, of course, but . . . ” He trailed off. “I’m thinking of my 7-year-old brother and his future.” The Pepsi salesman sat under a cafe tent last Wednesday in the Athens neighbourhood of Agios Panteleimonas. The neighbourhood, known as such for the grand Orthodox church of the same name, has become a hotbed of anti-immigrant sentiment and Golden Dawn support.

The church’s priest provides food and guidance to hundreds of the poor illegal immigrants who live in the dingy apartment buildings nearby. In apparent retaliation, Golden Dawn loyalists wrote a party slogan — “Foreigners out of Greece. Greece belongs to the Greeks” — in chalk in front of the church steps. They have also locked the gate to the playground on the church grounds to prevent immigrant children from using it.

A local senior, who also wouldn’t give her name, said Golden Dawn members have endeared themselves to neighbourhood Greeks by volunteering to accompany the elderly on their errands. Before then, she said, they were regularly robbed by South Asians.

A major spike in immigrant crime has aided Golden Dawn’s rise. The problem of immigrant crime, in turn, has been fuelled by both the economic crisis and Greece’s dysfunctional immigration system.

An EU agreement allows countries to send illegal immigrants back to the first European country they set foot in — which is Greece more than 50 per cent of the time, because it offers a land crossing through Turkey. Greek political leaders, joined by human rights groups, have complained bitterly about their disproportionate burden. They have also failed to unilaterally solve the problems they have the power to address. Greece, a country of 11 million, grants refugee status to almost nobody: 11 of 15,928 claimants in 2009. It also provides almost no support to new arrivals, many of whom live in squalid conditions, and takes years to process refugee claims; there is a backlog of more than 30,000. Without documents, Human Rights Watch has reported, immigrants “spend a great deal of time unemployed or in exploitative work situations,” have little contact with Greeks, and “often live in dire poverty with inadequate food, health care and shelter.” The vast majority of Greece’s million-plus immigrants were Albanians until four years ago, when the Turkish crossing overtook the boat routes to Italy and Spain as the most popular gateway to Europe. Tens of thousands of unskilled, non-Greek-speaking Africans, South Asians and Arabs have since made their way to Athens. Just as the economy collapsed, swaths of the city that had seen few non-white residents for centuries became ghettos for dark-skinned Muslims. Few of the new arrivals have experienced anything but misery.

Hali Sip, a lanky 26-year-old former youth soccer player from Senegal, is one of dozens of Africans who try to sell knock-off clothing, luggage, sunglasses, watches and trinkets on the sidewalk outside the Athens University of Economics and Business. His visible inventory consists of four bags. As of last Tuesday, he had not had a customer in a week. To pay the rent, he said, he also collects discarded bottles to return for a wretched €1 per kilogram. He came to Greece in pursuit of “the European dream”: “To become somebody, to become a man, somebody who is respected. “ He would now return to Senegal if he could afford it. “Dying in Africa is better than dying here,” he said. “Because we fled death there, and we came here, and there’s death here, too. It’s better to die back there with dignity.” Hundreds of Africans used to hawk their wares outside another university down the block from the business school. In May, a month before the election, the chaotic improvised market, which had undercut and infuriated established shopkeepers, was shut down by riot police. Bored-looking officers with shields and helmets now patrol the empty street three hours a day. Asked last Tuesday if the crackdown was political, one of them said, “Obviously political.”

The former socialist government launched a United Nations-aided immigration reform effort in 2010. But the socialists, too, have since attempted to capitalize on anti-immigrant resentment — issuing warnings about foreign prostitutes, approving a 12.5-kilometre fence on the Turkish border and campaigning on a pledge to build 30 new detention centres. New Democracy, the centre-right party that won, talked even tougher, pledging to repeal a 2010 law that allows the children of illegal immigrants to obtain citizenship. And Golden Dawn now has 18 seats in parliament. The party promised to plant landmines along the border with Turkey, deport all illegal immigrants, and conduct raids on hospitals and kindergartens to forcibly evict immigrant children. Though it denies that it is a neo-Nazi party — the Nazis occupied Greece during World War II — its members make Nazi salutes at rallies, Mein Kampf has been displayed at its headquarters, and its leader, Michaloliakos, denies the Holocaust. “Golden Dawn is not another political party. This is an openly neo-Nazi party, a fascist party, and in the long term it will have grave consequences on Greece, on its society, and on its image abroad. Democracy is based on tolerance for the other,” said Sotiris Methenitis, the centre-right mayor of Markopoulo, who issued an unusual pre-election plea “begging” constituents to vote for anyone else.

“In Greek mythology, the most important god, Zeus, was the protector of the foreign. Greece has a long history of paying particular attention to the significance of the foreign person coming here. He has to be treated with respect. This has been a feature of modern Greece. Up to very recently.” Sip’s group of African peddlers keeps wooden sticks and jagged chunks of tile at the ready, tucked in beside the university gate, in case racists show up looking for trouble. Shopkeeper Mohamed watches his back and thinks about returning to Bangladesh. Neither thinks Golden Dawn is going away. Neither does Golden Dawn. “The time for fear has come for those who betrayed this homeland,” Michaloliakos said to conclude his post-election speech in May. “We are coming! That’s all I have to say.”
© Metro News Canada

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Reports of hate crime in Croydon double in a year (UK)

5/7/2012- Hate crime reports have almost doubled in Croydon over the past year, the Advertiser can reveal. Figures show racist and religious hate crimes have jumped from 109 offences between May 2010 and May 2011 to 208 during the following 12 months. Local activists have reacted to the figures with caution, saying that many people may be feeling more confident in reporting hate crime compared to how they were five years ago, which is why they seem to have got higher. Carl Parker, from Croydon Council's safer neighbourhood partnership unit, has been working with students across the borough to raise awareness on hate crime and the damage it could cause. He explained: "Hate crime figures in Croydon and across London are pretty low, but the main problems we have are getting the victims to come forward. Figures may have risen because people feel more confident in coming forward, so we're getting more reports. "Often the victim may not even realise they are the target of hate crime or may not want to come forward because they are scared or do not want people to know they are a homosexual for example. Hate crime can be defined as so many things, we want to concentrate on people coming forward and telling us what is happening."

Homophobic hate crime reports dropped from 24 to 21 - although according to the council 18 per cent of gay people were a victim of hate crime during a given year. Aurora, Croydon's LGBT police consultation group, urged people to come forward if they were subjected to abuse. "On average we will have reports of two or three incidents of homophobic related attacks a month, but obviously there are more people who it happens to that are not coming forward," said Ross Burgess, a member of the group. "It's hard to say whether crimes are rising, or whether just more people are reporting them. You'd hope it would be the former. "We have regular meetings with the police and a good relationship with them so I hope people will feel more comfortable in coming forward. Luckily things have improved, but they could get a lot better." Hate crime is generally defined as violence motivated by prejudice and can include homophobia, racism, or a hatred for a certain religion. Teachers in the borough have also claimed that they have heard of postcode related hate crime; an attack on someone because of the area that they live in.

If you are a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered person, and need advice for hate crime, call 07733 286 954 or e-mail info@aurora-croydon.org.uk
The Metropolitan Police Croydon Town Centre Safer Neighbourhood Team can be contacted on 0207 161 8133.
© This is Croydon

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Brighton schoolgirl hounded by racist bullies (UK)

4/7/2012- A gang of racist yobs has waged a four-month hate campaign against a teenage girl. The 14-year-old girl, who is mixed race, has been called appalling names, taunted on the internet and even threatened with a knuckleduster. The mother of the Varndean School student from Brighton, said the bigoted abuse had “seriously damaged” her daughter. Her mother said: “She’s developing a complex about how she looks because they keep on calling her these terrible racist names. “There’s a group of 30 boys and girls who are a law unto themselves but nothing is being done.” The mother said she had contacted The Argus as a “last resort” after growing frustrated with a lack of action.

The abuse started when the girl, a talented singer-songwriter, fell out with friends at the end of February. In retaliation, a 30-strong gang started calling her racist names and sending text messages telling her to “go back to Africa”. As she walked to and from school, the bullies would shout racial abuse at her. On Facebook, teenage bigots told her she was a “black bitch” alongside other insults too offensive for The Argus to print. And when Varndean School produced a school brochure in which she was pictured, a member of the gang defaced it, scrawling an offensive racist word on her photograph.

The gang also regularly told the terrified teenager she was going to get “a kicking” – and soon the abuse did turn physical. At a funfair on The Level in late May, she was set upon by a 20-strong gang of girls and boys. They pushed her around, taunted her and tried to hold her still. To her horror, she saw another girl putting on a knuckleduster and preparing to hit her. Terrified, she managed to wriggle free and ran to London Road, where she hid in a grocer’s shop until her mother came to rescue her.

Even after the bullies were twice reported to the police the abuse continued, and her mother claimed on one occasion the school sent her daughter home in a taxi because staff feared for her safety. Last week, she was sitting in Queens Park with two friends when a group of boys from the gang spotted her. They began taunting her with racist names and threw bricks at her head before she ran off.

The bully who scrawled the racist word on the school brochure was caught and excluded by Varndean School, but her mother said headmaster William Deighan had still “completely failed” to protect her daughter. She said: “Why wasn’t this child expelled?” “Racism is clearly a serious issue at the school”. A Sussex Police spokesman said the force was aware of the two complaints made against the bullies and was in contact with the girl and her family.

William Deighan, headmaster of Varndean School, refused to speak to The Argus. But a school spokesman said: “We can confirm that there was an allegation made of a racist incident that involved a deeply unpleasant and racist epithet being written on a picture of a student. “The school was alerted about this and the young person concerned was excluded pending an investigation. “The victim of the abuse has been supported by the school and there has been communication between the school and the parent concerned. “Any incident of racism or bullying is taken extremely seriously by Varndean School, as can be seen in the prompt action that was taken to exclude the student involved.

“The school robustly and vigorously denies any suggestions that there is a culture of such behaviour at Varndean, or that the school has failed to act when an incident of bullying or racism has been brought to its attention. “The school is not able to comment in any more detail, because it has a duty of confidentiality and because it would not wish to jeopardise any ongoing investigation.”

The Argus has not printed the girl's name on our website so it will not show up in future online searches for her.
© The Argus

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Two men attacked in racially aggravated assault in Star Lane, Stamford (UK)

2/7//2012- Two men suffered head injuries after being attacked by a gang. A 36-year-old man from Stamford and a 29-year-old man from Peterborough were targeted by up to four men at about 2.20am yesterday (Sunday) in Star Lane, Stamford. Police believe it was a racially aggravated assault. The victims suffered cuts and bruises to their heads in the attack. Police have appealed for witnesses. If you have any information call them on 101.
© Rutland and Stamford Mercury

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Councillor in alleged hate crime probe (UK)

3/7/2012- Police are investigating an alleged homophobic remark made by a councillor during an election campaign. Labour party veteran Peter Boyes is alleged to have called SNP candidate Paul Bertram a “wee p**f” during the contest for the Midlothian East ward. Officers from Lothian and Borders Police yesterday confirmed they were investigating the incident. A police spokesman said: “We are investigating an alleged hate crime that happened at a polling station during the local council elections on Thursday, May 3.” However, the councillor said the investigation was “news” to him and denied he had been approached by police. He added: “If they did come to me, I would be happy to co-operate. I have nothing to hide.” Mr Bertram, from Mayfield, Midlothian, declined to comment.
© The Scotsman

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LGBT Pride Parade Participant Assaulted in Sofia (Bulgaria)

1/7/2012- A young man who took part in Saturday's Sofia Pride LGBT parade in the Bulgarian capital was assaulted by three individuals, the event's organizers have revealed. "I begged them to stop. I suffer from a heavy form of diabetes and while they were kicking me, my only thought was for them not to kick the insulin pump attached to my abdomen or the cannula," the beaten youngsteer has said. The disturbing accident took place near Sofia's Serdica subway station several hours after the event was over. People in passing cars chased away the attackers by shouting at them. The 25-year-old man has decided not to contact the police, since he does not believe the attackers could be found. Over 2,000 people gathered for the 5th annual Sofia Gay Pride, which took place in the Bulgarian capital Saturday. The event itself went peacefully and without provocations. LGBT people, as well as heterosexual citizens, joined Sofia Pride to express their desire for equal rights to all, and to protest against continuing discrimination against people of differing sexual orientations in Bulgaria. In a sorry event Saturday morning, some 200 citizens, assembled by 5 far-right nationalist parties, marched in a counter-rally in Sofia, raising a number of homophobic slogans. in previous years, two Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride parades in the Balkan country had been marred by violent attacks on participants.
© Novinite

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Austria: Dozens of Jewish graves vandalised in Vienna cemetery

Vandalism in a Jewish section of Vienna’s Central Cemetery left 43 gravestones toppled or damaged.

1/7/2012- "We are deeply dismayed at this level of vandalism," Jewish community President Oscar Deutsch said last Friday in a statement on the community's website after inspecting the cemetery. Deutsch said the Jewish community hoped for quick action on the case and punishment for whoever carried it out. Austrian police are investigating the incident. With some 120,000 graves it its two sections, the Central Cemetery is the largest Jewish cemetery in Vienna. Days before the desecration, Vienna city authorities announced the completion of a milestone in the restoration of the 349 gravestones in Vienna’s oldest Jewish cemetery, a burial ground on Seegasse Street that operated from about 1540 to 1783 and is now maintained by the city as a park and memorial site. The Vienna city government’s culture department reported in May that the 50th headstone had been fully restored and erected in its original position.
© JTA News

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Why would Jews vandalize a Holocaust memorial? (Israel)

30/6//2012- The news that Israel's memorial to Holocaust victims had been grafittied in early June with bitterly anti-Semitic and anti-Israel statements was shocking. More shocking still was the news that the three men arrested for the crime are Jewish. How could Jews desecrate the memories of millions of fellow Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazis? The religious identities of the culprits -- however surprising to many who read of their arrests last Tuesday (June 26) -- did not surprise many Israelis, however. They know that a number of ultra-Orthodox Jews, for religious reasons, believe the State of Israel should not yet exist. Among ultra-Orthodox Jews, this view is not uncommon. Many interpret passages in religious texts to mean that the messiah must arrive before the State of Israel is reconstituted. What is uncommon is the willingness to make the point by defiling Yad Vashem, the Hebrew name for Israel's official Holocaust memorial, a nearly sacred civic monument founded in Jerusalem five years after the 1948 establishment of the nation.

"Every religion has its fringe, but these people are the fringe of the fringe," said Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld of Ohev Sholom, a modern Orthodox synagogue in Washington, D.C. "They are very troubled individuals. It's just very disturbing and these people represent nobody but themselves." Even Jewish groups that promote the idea that the establishment of Israel was a terrible mistake have denounced the vandals. The suspects are three men, ages 18, 26 and 27, who live in Israel and have confessed to the crime, according to police. Among the statements they painted in Hebrew at the memorial: "If Hitler had not existed, the Zionists would have invented him" and "Jews wake up -- the Zionist regime is dangerous." Yirmiyahu Cohen, a writer for True Torah Jews, a New York-based group of fervently Orthodox Jews who believe that the Jewish state contradicts Jewish law, said he personally knows the men arrested for the crime, and deplores their actions.

But Cohen also expressed an understanding of the sentiments expressed in their graffiti. "There were Zionists who were complicit in the Holocaust, because they stood by and refused to save Jews, knowing that the destruction of European Jewry would create a political climate conducive to the founding of a Jewish state," he said. Historians of Zionism point to numerous Zionist efforts to save Jews from the Nazis. "Jews overwhelmingly believed until not so long ago that the establishment of the Jewish people to their homeland could only take place when the messiah comes," Cohen said. He pointed to a portion of the Talmud -- ancient rabbinic commentaries on Jewish law -- that states that before the messiah's arrival, Jews must live in exile and should not use "human force" to establish their own nation. But Herzfeld said that interpretation of the Hebrew Bible and the commentaries is simply "misrepresenting the Torah and the Talmud."
© The Christian Century

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