Headlines 31 August, 2012
New gay bashing incident in central Athens (Greece)
30/8/2012- Two young men were the target of a blatantly homophobic attack in central Omonia Square in the early morning hours of Sunday, 26 August 2012. One of the men, Stefanos Agelastos, is a gay activist and a member of Athens Pride. As they waited for a bus, two Greek men passing on a motorcycle asked them if they were gay. When Mr. Agelastos replied “yes,” the two Greeks got off their bike and proceeded to brutally beat them. Mr. Agelastos and his companion were injured, but fortunately not seriously. Mr. Agelastos immediately reported the incident to the Police, who appeared cooperative but then refused his request that they escort him the several blocks to his home, even though Mr. Agelastos expressed fear that his attackers might be lurking there. Athens Pride strongly condemns this particular incident, which unfortunately is neither isolated nor random. It stresses in particular the overwhelming lack of state protections for LGBTs. It is extremely concerned over the ever increasing frequency of homophobic assaults (gay-bashing) that have come to its notice. Most of these incidents, however, are never recorded since very few of the victims have the courage to report them. With the deepening Greek economic crisis there is a disturbing increase of organized attacks on vulnerable social groups. Hate crimes and racist violence are the greatest threat for a society in crisis. The state has a mandate to protect all its citizens. The quality of a democracy is measured by how it treats its most vulnerable groups.
© ILGA Europe
Man arrested in Greece for attack on Egyptian
27/8/2012- A 35-year-old suspect has been arrested in Greece in connection with an attack on an Egyptian man in Athens that is believed to have been racially motivated, police told dpa on Monday. Shocked residents of the small mainland town of Nea Manolada called police and an ambulance after seeing the victim being dragged from outside of a moving car for about a kilometre on Saturday. The 22-year-old man was treated in hospital, media reports said. Two assailants in the car had reportedly clamped him to the car after a dispute and drove off.
© Business Ghana
German Jewish college shuns skullcaps after attack on rabbi
One of the first rabbis ordained in Germany since the Holocaust has been beaten up on a Berlin street, prompting a seminary to advise its students not to wear skullcaps in public.
30/8/2012- Daniel Alter, 53, was attacked in front of his young daughter after collecting her from a piano lesson on Tuesday after a young man asked him "Are you a Jew?", said Berlin police. A group of four young men hit him in the face repeatedly, shouted religious insults and threatened to kill his daughter. The rabbi needed hospital treatment to his face. German media reported that the attackers "probably had an Arab background". The country's Central Council of Muslims condemned the attack. Alter told Bild daily he was shocked at the shameless way his attackers had assaulted him in front of his daughter. Germany's Central Council of Jews condemned the attack, saying it showed violent anti-Semitism had again become a serious social problem. Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit said the incident was "an attack on the peaceful co-existence of all people in the capital". Germany's official Jewish population has grown more than 10-fold in the last 20 years, largely thanks to an influx of Jews from the former Soviet Union, but anti-Semitic attacks are commonplace and policemen guard synagogues round the clock.
Alter was made a rabbi in Dresden in 2006. He and two others were the first to be ordained in Germany since 1942, when the College of Jewish Studies in Berlin was destroyed by the Nazi Gestapo secret police. His father survived Auschwitz concentration camp. In an interview with Reuters in 2007, Alter said he was worried about anti-Semitism and wore a baseball hat over his skullcap because he was worried about being identified as a Jew. At the time of the attack, however, his skullcap was not concealed. The Abraham Geiger College in Potsdam, currently training 28 rabbis, said it had boosted security around the building as a result of the attack and was checking mail. "We have also given guidelines to our students on how to behave so that they do not become victims of such attacks," the college's rector Walter Homolka told the Berliner Morgenpost. "We have advised them not to wear their skullcaps on the street, but to choose something inconspicuous to cover their head with," he said.
He urged the police and intelligence services to deal with violent Muslims. "It would be fatal if we were to see a proxy Middle East war on German streets," he said. The Central Council of Muslims said Muslims were shocked by such incidents. "At this time, Jews and Muslims must stand together and make clear: violence of any color has no place with us," said the Council's chairman Aiman Mazyek in a statement. The American Jewish Committee called on Germany's parliament to act on a report on anti-Semitism which included recommendations on ways to combat anti-Semitism. The report also said that anti-Semitism was entrenched in German society, manifesting itself in hate crime as well as in abusive language used by ordinary people. "German lawmakers should not delay any longer adopting a comprehensive plan to combat anti-Semitism," said Deidre Berger, the AJC's Berlin director.
Youths attack Berlin rabbi, in suspected anti-Semitic assault (Germany)
Man, 53, wounded in the attack, says the four men threatened to kill his six-year-old daughter; suspects flee scene; Berlin mayor denounces 'anti-Semitic attack.'
29/8/2012- A Berlin rabbi was reportedly assaulted by youths in the city's western side on Tuesday in a suspected anti-Semitic attack. The man, 53, who was wounded in the attack, said the four men, reportedly of Arab extraction, who attack him also verbally abused his Jewish faith, and threatened to kill his six-year-old daughter, who was also present. According to police, the four suspects fled the scene of the attack, which took place in the peaceful Schöneberg neighborhood. An investigation has been initiated by local police. While it was not yet clear as to what was the precise motivation behind the attack, it is believed that it was anti-Semitic in nature. President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany Dieter Graumann denounced the attack, sand said he was "dumbfounded."
According to Graumann, the incident represented an "assault on our values, ones of tolerance and liberalism." Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit said that he denounced the "anti-Semitic attack in the harshest terms." European Jewish Congress (EJC) President Dr. Moshe Kantor condemned yesterday’s attack. “After the murders in Toulouse we expected one of two things to happen. On the one hand it could have sent shock waves across Europe that there is a massive problem and it has to be dealt with, leading to a lessoning of these types of attacks,” Kantor said. “The other option was that the reaction would be meager and it would send a message to extremists that life continues as normal.” “Unfortunately, the second option seems to have prevailed. Life goes on in Europe after such events as the Toulouse murders, but for the Jewish community life does not return to normal. The murders created a gaping wound in our communal psyche which is widened with every additional attack and the lack of a clear, concerted and institutional response means that it will not heal.”
Police doubt MSU attack was hate crime, have possible suspect (USA)
28/8/2012- Police say they have identified a potential suspect in an assault against a Michigan State student but they doubt the attack was a hate crime. MSU sophomore Zachary Tennen, 19, of Franklin told police the two people who attacked him early Sunday off campus asked him if he was Jewish, and his father said on Twitter that the assault was motivated by anti-Semitism. But East Lansing police, who have spoken to two witnesses, say it is unlikely it was a hate crime. "There's a big difference between an assault and assault that classifies as a hate crime," said Sgt. Jeff Murphy of the East Lansing Police Department. "We need to figure out what this one is so we can seek the appropriate charges on whoever did it." Police reported speaking to two witnesses and said the person of interest in the attack doesn't live in the area.
Tennen was outside a house party in the 500 block of Spartan Avenue about 2:30 a.m. Sunday when two people approached him and asked him if he was Jewish, he told police. When he answered yes, one assailant knocked him unconscious, he told police. According to the Anti-Defamation League, who was contacted by Tennen's father, the two alleged attackers chanted, "Heil Hitler," and gave Nazi salutes. "The ADL is involved with local state and federal authorities and is treating this case as a hate crime," ADL Detroit Regional Director Betsy Kellman said. "Given the horrific nature of this beating and that no one came to his rescue, the ADL is horrified that no one came to the rescue. "I've been working at the ADL for 11 years and this is one of the worst discrimination cases I've ever seen."
On Monday night, Bruce Tennen described the assault from his Twitter account. "Two anti-Semitic punks beat him up… fractured his jaw in 2 places and stapled his lips closed. Sickening," a tweet from Bruce Tennen's Twitter account said. Tennen hailed a cab to take him to Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, police say. "There's a lot of unanswered question and unsubstantiated statements that we are trying to figure out," said East Lansing Police Capt Jeff Murphy. In an interview with The State News, MSU's student newspaper, Zachary Tennen said, "I'm really, really upset in a few ways; First of all, it is a terrible experience, physically and also mentally, to know someone would do something like this. "It almost seemed like they tried to kill me, and to think about that in my brain, physically — it isn't very pleasant."
A tweet from his father's Twitter account asks for get-well wishes after his surgery. "@ZJTbasketball11 is out of surgery! Please send him a get well wish," Bruce Tennen said. Detectives planned to head to Metro Detroit on Tuesday to talk to Zachary Tennen in person, he said. "Our main goal is to find out who did this and to hold them accountable," Murphy said. University officials have issued this statement in response:
"Michigan State University's Student Affairs and Services office has reached out to the family of the student who said he was assaulted in East Lansing to provide the academic and other support the student needs. MSU will work with the student and his professors to ensure he can fulfill his academic requirements, as we would with any student in need. As the incident occurred off campus in East Lansing, all questions about the police investigation need to go the East Lansing Police Department."
The incident is also a shock to the Jewish community in East Lansing. "I think I would be worried if this happened to another minority or just another student on campus," said Alex Waldman, an MSU senior and member the Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi. "I mean, no one should ever have to go through that."
© The Detroit News
Headlines 24 August, 2012
Anti-Semitic letter sent to the Chief Rabbi of Lyon (France)
A letter of an anti-Semitic and revisionist nature was sent to the Chief Rabbi of Lyon Richard Wertenschlag in mid-August, according to a complaint lodged in the courts Wednesday.
22/8/2012- “This written communication had Holocaust-denying and anti-Semitic undertones, accompanied by threats and photos was sent August 10 and arrived the following day at the Great Synagogue of Lyon,” the religious leader told the AFP and was confirmed by a media report in the French daily Le Progres. “In light of the potentially serious and threatening prospects for the security of our community, I filed a complaint with the local authorities,” he added, continuing to say that the complaint had been passed on to the public prosecutor’s office in Paris, which in turn informed the anti-terror division and the Criminal Investigation Bureau of Lyon. The letter, which was signed “the just network”, stated: “More and more often, we have the idea of apologising to the Jew for the so-called Shoah (Holocaust) and the evil Palestinians imposed on us. From now on we’ll punish a Jew (...) every time you come on the television to complain”. Several photos were attached to the letter, which, according to its author, “prove that the Jews were well-treated in Germany, fed and housed in holiday accommodation for children”.
“You can take that as a sign of an uneducated person led astray, but it’s better to follow the worst case scenario and treat it as a warning to be heeded,” the Chief Rabbi emphasised. If this threatening letter is the first of his career, he acknowledges having received “anti-Semitic, anti Zionist letters, those arrive quite frequently”. “It relates to the climate we live in. You often seen expressions of a new form of anti-Semitism arising. It is distressing, I see a non-stop proliferation of anti-Semitic sentiment in this country,” he raged.
Another hate crime in US: Sikh beaten for keeping kirpan
24/8/2012- An elderly Sikh man, in his early 70s, was allegedly beaten up by his neighbour in New Jersey following an altercation and was later arrested by the police because of keeping 'Kirpan', a Sikh article of faith. The incident happened on July 26, nearly 10 days before the shooting at Oak Creek Gurdwara in Wisconsin, United Sikhs, a Sikh advocacy group said on Thursday. Giving details of the incident, the group said that Avtar Singh, a gas station owner and one of the founding members of Glen Rock Gurdwara in New Jersey, went to his neighbouring shop owned by Edward Koscovski to request him to move his truck that was parked and blocking the entrance of his gas station. The request turned into an altercation in which Avtar Singh was brutally assaulted, it said. "I kept on yelling that please let me go but nothing moved Edward from hitting me. When I turned around using all my strength, Edward smashed my face, broke my teeth and kept punching me in the stomach. He grabbed my Kirpan and threw it at his attendant. "The attendant removed the Kirpan from the mian (cover) and hid the mian (cover) in a room inside. He also snatched my phone and put it out of sight," Avtar Singh said.
Upon arrival at the scene, the police arrested the 72-year -old Avtar Singh and charged him with possession of a weapon (Kirpan), United Sikhs said. He was interrogated before anyone attended to his injuries and then taken to the hospital and was handcuffed to the hospital bed during his stay at the hospital. Singh was then taken to the police station and jailed till his family members filed his bail application, it said. United Sikhs said that it contacted the Civil Rights Division and the Community Relations Service Division in the US Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), as well as the State of New Jersey Attorney General's office for investigation and is following up on Avtar Singh's case to be heard next Thursday.
© Punjab Newsline
Lesbian who reported 'hate crime' attack staged incident, Nebraska police say (USA)
22/8/2012- A Nebraska "hate crime" that targeted an openly gay woman and that triggered responses from candlelight vigils locally to Facebook postings of support nationwide was staged by the alleged victim, authorities said Tuesday as they charged the woman with lying to police. Charlie Rogers -- a former basketball player for the University of Nebraska who identifies herself as lesbian -- told police that three masked men entered her home on July 22, stripped her, tied her down, and carved homophobic slurs into her body before attempting to set her and the house on fire. But the Lincoln Police Department said Tuesday that "the physical evidence conflicted with Charlie Rogers' version of events" and that "extensive investigation revealed numerous inconsistencies." Rogers was arrested Tuesday, police said. Her attorney, Brett McArthur, told CNN Tuesday night that Rogers had agreed as part of an arrangement to turn herself in, in exchange for a personal recognizance bond.
"She did not have to post any money" to be released, McArthur said, adding that his client pleaded not guilty to the charge of lying to police. "She maintains her innocence. This has been kind of a kick in the gut as a victim to turn around and be charged," McArthur said. In a news release, police cited DNA and pathologists' examinations that did not substantiate Rogers' original statements, and changes in her story during the investigation. "These were serious allegations that garnered national attention and spread fear among local citizens," the police statement said. "A great deal of time and resources were spent investigating Charlie Rogers' claims in hopes of identifying and arresting the three suspects in this case." Beth Rigatuso, president of Heartland Pride based in Omaha, organized a vigil that attracted over 1,000 people in the aftermath of the reported attack. For her, the news that it may have been a hoax is "a pretty big blow." "I don't feel betrayed as much as I feel sad for how, if this is really true...there is a lot of things going on with her," Rigatuso said. "It leads to a bigger problem in our society that someone would do this." Rigatuso said she hopes people would not turn their backs on Rogers now.
The vigil she put together in Omaha raised more than $1,800, all of which was deposited in an account for Rogers. "We'd like to get the funds returned to us so we can establish our own fund to support victims of anti-gay violence." Rigatuso said Tuesday. McArthur, Rogers' attorney, said he "knows nothing" about the fund or how much money might be in it. He said it was in place before he became Rogers' lawyer. According to the Lincoln Police Department complaint, Rogers, 33, provided information "she knew to be false" with the intent to "instigate an investigation of an alleged criminal matter." Rogers reported to police that she was lying on her bed when the alleged attackers held her down and carved "derogatory words" into her arms and abdomen and "a cross" in her chest. She told police she was then rolled onto her stomach where more cuts were made. But according to a deposition from Lincoln police investigator Lynette Russell filed as part of the complaint, Rogers bedspread was "evenly placed on the bed and no apparent sign of a struggle." A DNA lab test found no evidence of blood on the bedspread.
Russell also described a pair of white gloves found at the scene that Rogers had said were not hers. "Ms. Rogers DNA profile was the major contributor to the DNA located on the inside of the gloves," Russell said. Furthermore, the deposition said, the FBI sent photos of Rogers' cuts to a forensic pathologist, who believed the wounds to be self-inflicted. "This opinion is based partially on the fact that the cuts appeared superficial and symmetrical, avoided sensitive areas of the body,...are accessible to the victim and follow the victim's frame of reference for reading and writing," the deposition said. Rumors had been circulating in recent weeks in Lincoln and on the Internet due to the fact that police had yet to pinpoint any suspects. The urge to respond to rumors prompted Rogers to give her one and only interview. "For people to think this doesn't happen here, it does," Rogers told CNN affiliate KETV on July 27. "It did." She refused to discuss the incident itself during that interview.
Rogers' attorney at the time, Megan Mikolajczyk, told CNN her client was ready for a full interview early last week, but canceled saying "things have changed." Mikolajczyk said Tuesday that she is no longer Rogers' attorney. According to neighbor Linda Rappl, Rogers' showed up on her doorstep bloodied in the early morning hours immediately following the alleged attack last month. "I was in shock," Rappl said soon after the incident. "She was naked, her hands were tied with zip ties. All I could see was a cut across her forehead and blood running down." Rappl said she took the sobbing Rogers inside and wrapped her in a blanket before calling 911.
German Neo-Nazi Trial: Attacks On Left-Wing Activists Bring 26 To Court
21/8/2012- Twenty-six alleged neo-Nazis are on trial in Germany on accusations they were responsible for a spate of attacks on leftists in western Germany. Prosecutors say the men, aged 19 to 54, kept files on left-wing activists including addresses, license plate numbers and photographs. Starting in 2009 until their arrest in March, they are accused of attacks that included attempting to set fire to cars, throwing stones through windows and street fights. They're also accused of spray-painting neo-Nazi graffiti, damaging 40 election campaign signs, and putting stickers reading "Rudolf Hess Street" in tribute to Hitler's deputy over street signs. Charges in the trial that opened in Koblenz state court Tuesday include membership in a criminal organization, arson and robbery with potential penalties ranging up to 15 years in prison.
© The Associated Press
Hate crime against disabled soars by 156 per cent (UK)
21/8/2012- A call has been made for better education and understanding as figures show a 156 per cent increase in hate crime against disabled people. Chas Sandhu, pastor of Spalding’s Lighthouse Pentecostal Church and an active member of a Spalding disability action group, said those with physical and mental disabilities often suffer taunts and worse because they are “easy targets”. And he says many of the problems boil down to people’s fears of the unknown and lack of understanding. His action group is planning a campaign to improve education within local shops and forums to raise awareness of the issues faced by disabled people with a view to breaking down barriers. He said: “We are looking at how we can make people aware of the difficulties people with disability face. “All disabled people want is to be treated equally, so people need to be educated about the differences and taught to respect them.”
Mr Sandhu, who also used to work with people with learning disabilities, says he has heard of a number of incidents of disabled people being called names, taunted, and one of a disabled person having their wallet stolen by a tormenter. But he says disability hate crime in Spalding and surrounding area is “low-level” compared to some areas. Latest figures for the county back up that assertion, showing just 23 incidents recorded by Lincolnshire Police in 2011. That figure has risen by 156 per cent, from just nine incidents in 2010. But Lincolnshire Police diversity officer Melanie Cowell said the increase was a “positive thing” as a lot of work has been carried out to raise awareness and promote the reporting of hate crimes.
© The Spalding Guardian
Shul windows are smashed in Brum (UK)
20/8/2012- Bricks were hurled though windows of Birmingham's Central Synagogue last Shabbat. The attack occurred at around 10pm, after the conclusion of the Friday night service. The perpetrator was a man said to be in his 20s. Police were called after the damage was discovered by the 80 community members arriving for the Shabbat morning service. Shul president Geoffrey Clements reported: "The caretaker said there had been an incident where two ornate etched festival windows were smashed. "The windows are irreplaceable. Each depicts a different festival and they were designed for the shul when it opened in the late 1960s." Mr Clements added that if anti-shatter film had not been placed on the windows, in accordance with Community Security Trust guidelines, "the damage would have been much worse." Sergeant Michael Richard from Edgbaston's neighbourhood police team said the attack was being treated as criminal damage rather than a hate crime, "following a similar incident in the vicinity on the same night. "We believe that the windows of the synagogue will cost thousands of pounds to replace, so we understand how distressing this has been for the Jewish community." The CTS's Mark Gardner said: "We'll advise on what can be done to replace the windows, look at the CCTV and see if anything more can be done to ensure this doesn't happen again."
© The Jewish Chronicle
Swedes Stage Solidarity 'Kippah Walk' in Malmo
Jews and Others Demonstrate Against Hate Crimes
19/8/2012- Several hundred kippah-wearing Jews and non-Jews marched in Sweden as a sign of solidarity with Malmo’s Jews. About 400 marchers gathered Saturday outside the synagogue in Malmö and walked to Möllevångs Square, a part of Malmö with many Muslim immigrants from the Middle East. Speakers included Brigitta Ohlsson, minister for European Affairs; Willy Silberstein, head of the Swedish Committee Against Anti-Semitism; Social Democratic Politician Lucian Astudillo; and Jehoshua Kaufman of the Jewish Community of Malmo. “The idea is to show ourselves and others that we refuse to be afraid or hide our Jewish affiliation,” Fredrik Sieradzki, director of communications for the Jewish community of Malmo, told JTA before the march.
Earlier this year, a rabbi from Malmo was physically assaulted. In 2010, Malmo’s mayor, Ilmar Reepalu, said that a group of Jews in Malmo who were attacked by Swedish Muslims during a peaceful protest in support of Israel brought the violence upon themselves for not distancing themselves from Israel and its actions during the month-long Gaza War in 2008-09. The first walk began in Malmo in January when members of the local synagogue decided to keep on their kippot upon exiting their synagogue. Reports about the march on Facebook helped draw more marchers in. Saturday’s walk was the fourth such event in Malmo, a city with a population of approximately 1,800 Jews.
It was the first time that a kippah walk was organized by Stokholm’s much larger Jewish community. On Aug. 17, the newspaper Sydsvenskan ran an op-ed by Sweden’s minister for European Affairs, Brigitta Ohlsson, in praise of the kippah walk. Sieradzki wrote that members of the community were being regularly harassed “predominantly but not exclusively” by young members of Malmo’s large population of residents of Muslim or Middle Eastern background. Anti-Semitic incidents involving members of the community who are visibly Jewish can occur on a daily basis, he said. “The statement is that Jews should be free to walk in Malmo without fear, and that is sadly not the case right now,” Lena Posner-Korosi, president of the Council of Swedish Jewish Communities, told JTA. “Many Jews are frightened to show their affiliation. We in Stockholm are having a kippah march in solidarity with the Malmo community, but for our own sake as well. Its a signal which says,We are here, we don’t harm you so don’t harm us.’”
Anti-Semitism in Malmo first drew international attention in 2009, when riots broke out due to the presence of Israeli tennis players in the city, which hosted the Wimbledon Cup.
© JTA News
Headlines 17 August, 2012
Rwandans petition Belgian authorities over Congolese attacks
Rwandans living in Belgium have petitioned Belgian authorities over growing violent attacks on Rwandan citizens by Congolese nationals living there.
17/8/2012- A statement received by The New Times from the DRB-Rugari, an organisation of Rwandans living in Belgium, says several cases of assault resulting in serious injuries and hospitalisation have been reported in recent months. It cites a July 28 incident in which a 22-year old Rwandan was attacked in the subway station Merode and was admitted with a fractured jaw. “For the Rwandan Diaspora this was the last straw. Such violence is committed in broad daylight, in public places (in the streets or in subways) by organised gangs of Congolese calling themselves “combatants” who are claiming to seek a solution to the war raging in eastern Congo,” reads part of the statement. The attacks came in the wake of eruption of fighting in eastern Congo between government troops and the M23 rebels, who mutinied in April following the collapse of a 2009 peace deal under which they had been integrated into the army. Kinshasa has accused Kigali of backing the rebels but the latter has denied the allegations.
“DRB-Rugari is appealing to the Belgian authorities and the Belgian public to address the seriousness of these barbaric acts which constitute a flagrant violation of human rights, compounded by racist and xenophobic verbal aggressions”. The committee observed that the ongoing attacks were creating a climate of fear and mistrust that “undermines the social cohesion which the Belgian government and multiple social welfare associations should not tolerate”. The group appealed to the Belgian authorities to take all the necessary measures to ensure the safety of its members. The New Times understands that the Rwandan community in Belgium plans a peaceful protest on August 18 at Place de la Monnaie (1000 BXL) from 2p.m to 4 p.m, local time. The group has also invited the Congolese community in Belgium for a constructive dialogue in order to improve the relations between the two communities in Belgium.
“DRB-Rugari has appealed to the members of the Congolese community involved in the violence and hope they will understand that Rwandans, much less those living in Belgium, are not the cause of the conflict in eastern Congo and they are, in no way, related to the stakes of this war. Attacking them will bring no solution”. “We hope it will be possible before one more victim suffers as a result of these tensions,” DRB-Rugari said. Oria K. Vande Weghe, the Communication Officer at the Rwandan Embassy in Belgium, told The New Times that the embassy has “filed several complaints with Brussels about the attacks, but so far, none of the complaints have been successful.” “We are still discussing with the Belgian authorities on these issues,” she added.
The Belgian envoy to Kigali, Amb. Marc Pecsteen de Buyrswerve, on Wednesday, told this paper that he was aware of the attacks and DRB-Rugari’s planned protest, but pointed out that there have been no recent outbreaks of violence as the police are containing the situation. “There was only one recent case of a young man who, I think, also holds Belgian nationality, and I hope this situation does not continue. Yes, there were indeed incidents in the past, but the Belgian police were able to react and we hope that now, the situation is calm”. The diplomat added: The police are very much aware of the violence and the situation of tension and we hope no other such incidents occur again. The police are vigilant”.
© The New Times
Street murder highlights Greek hate culture
17/8/2012- The mayors of Athens warned against the increase in racist attacks against minorities and immigrants on Thursday (16 August) as Greek authorities continue to round up and arrest undocumented migrants throughout the country. “When fellow human beings are being stabbed on an almost daily basis, society has to be alert and the state has to lead the perpetrators to justice,” said Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis, reported Greek daily Ekathimerini. On Sunday, a 19-year-old Iraqi man died of stab wounds after being attacked by five men in central Athens. Witnesses told police the gang had attempted to attack a Moroccan and a Romanian but both managed to flee before the five men unleashed their brutality upon the Iraqi. “Such attacks are unacceptable and the authorities must do all within their power to stem their rise,” deputy Europe and Central Asia programme director at Amnesty International, Jezerca Tigani, said in a statement on Wednesday.
A spokesperson for the UN agency for refugees (UNHCR) in Athens told this website on Friday that the attacks are now almost a daily occurrence. Those that carry out of the attacks, she said, “work almost undisturbed” as police have failed to convict anyone linked to the violence. Small gangs on motorcycles typically carry out the attacks. “They [migrants] are really scared to go [and] report and press charges because they may be arrested if they do,” said the spokesperson. She said police dissuade victims from pressing charges by telling them they have to pay €100. She also noted that victims and witnesses are offered no protection. In another incident, two Pakistani men were attacked in their home on Sunday evening after being beaten by unidentified men. Both ended up in the hospital. Fifteen men in motorcycles belonging to an extreme right-wing group, reportedly tossed flares into a prayer room for Muslim worshippers on Thursday in Pireus.
The mayor of Topeiro, near Xanthi, said thugs are now targeting the Muslim community. “We warn this small group of dangerous, idiotic thugs that we will stand in the way of their plans. We will find them and stop them,” he said. Greek authorities launched a round up of undocumented migrants earlier this month. The on-going campaign named after the Greek god of hospitality - "Xenius Zeus" – has so far detained around 8,000 people. Those without proper identification are arrested and deported. Some 1,660 have been arrested and placed in administrative detention, said the Greek police on Wednesday. A report by the NGO Human Rights Watch out in July documented dozens of attacks against migrants in and around Athens. The NGO recorded 300 assaults in Athens in the first half of 2011. The Athens police, for its part, recorded only 9 incidents of hate crime for the whole of 2011.
© The EUobserver
Greek police looking for killers of Iraqi migrant
Greek police are searching for five suspects believed to be involved in the killing of an Iraqi migrant in central Athens, authorities said Sunday, as attacks on immigrants rise amid fears stoked by far right groups that they are to blame for a rise in crime.
12/8/2012- Greek police are searching for five suspects believed to be involved in the killing of an Iraqi migrant in central Athens, authorities said Sunday, as attacks on immigrants rise amid fears stoked by far right groups that they are to blame for a rise in crime. A police statement said the young man, whose name and age has not been disclosed, was attacked Sunday morning by the five individuals and struck multiple times by a sharp instrument, likely a knife. He was taken to a hospital but died several hours later. The statement added that a Romanian and a Moroccan were attacked earlier, but managed to flee. It did not specify if they had sustained injuries.
Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias offered his condolences to the dead man's family, declaring "that the state will be ruthless towards all perpetrators of criminal acts, whatever excuse they use (to justify) them."
The far-right party Golden Dawn, running on an openly anti-immigrant platform, polled almost 7 percent of the vote in successive national elections in May and June this year, capitalizing on public fears of rising crime. Party members have sought to take the role of public protectors, distributing food to the poor - but only those with Greek IDs - and doing chores for elderly residents that they say are too frightened to venture out of their houses in areas with a heavy migrant presence. There has been a rise in the number of far right vigilante groups, and immigrants have increasingly been on the receiving end of violent attacks. The government has sought to blunt Golden Dawn's rising influence by cracking down on illegal immigration.
In early August, it launched operation "Hospitable Zeus" making regular sweeps of immigrants in Athens and tightening patrols along Greece's northeastern border with Turkey, where the bulk of illegal immigration - over 100,000 people a year - occurs.
© The Associated Press
Climbing world rallies to Liverpool victim of alleged racist attack (UK)
Sam Farmer's Hope Project takes its first group of young Merseysiders for a week of outdoor challenges, after arsonists caused £75,000 damage. John Appleby reports.
16/8/2012- It is fair to say that for Liverpool-born Sam Farmer and his family, the year is winding down relatively peacefully, compared to how it began. Sam, who is 46, represents something of a rarity in the world of UK rock climbing: black man in what is still, overwhelmingly a white middle class activity. Born into large mixed race family in Liverpool 8, better known to the wider world as Toxteth, he was one of 15 children in the household. It was a tough grounding for a young black man growing up in one of the country's most deprived communities; a community which would explode into civil unrest in 1982. At 15, Sam left home with all his worldly goods, which essentially consisted of his collection of vinyl soul records and a record player, in a shopping trolly and lived for a while in the bushes at Otterspool Promenade overlooking the Mersey. After setting up with a local biking fraternity for a while, his youthful wilderness years began to move in a positive direction when he discovered a love of the great outdoors. It proved an interest which prompted him to enrol on a self-funded training course as an instructor in mountain activities based in north Wales.
As a qualified instructor his career came full circle in 2007 when he bought a plot of land with a dilapidated workshop at St Agnes on the north Cornwall coast and founded 'The Hope Project'. This is an outdoor activities charity aimed at allowing youngsters from similar inner city backgrounds to experience a variety of activities which included rock-climbing, kayaking, coasteering and horse riding. After introducing hundreds of youngsters into the great outdoors, most of whom were referred by youth and charity groups back home in Liverpool, Farmer found things taking a sinister twist. Some locals in Cornwall objected to inner city youngsters spoiling their Doc Marten-esque white rural idyll and Sam and his artist partner Carla, began to suffer racist abuse and physical attacks. In one, a horse they owned was blinded; another involved rocks being hurled at the couple. The level of abuse intensified over two years until it culminated in what Sam Farmer believes was a racially-motivated arson attack, the second within two months, which destroyed £70,000 worth of outdoor equipment and his partner's art work.
It is an incident which is still on the unsolved crimes books of Devon and Cornwall police. Shortly after the attack Sam went on record to say:
The fire has been a huge setback for us. My partner has suffered panic attacks and is unable to visit the site. It's unlikely that we'll be able to run the project this summer but we are determined to get back on track. I've worked hard to provide deprived youngsters with recreational and aspirational activities.
Commenting on the positive impact his outdoor courses had had on its young inner city participants he added:
It's a revelation when you have a youngster who's at the end of a rope abseiling down a windy cliff and the force of nature is upon them. They'll put their trust in you because you're showing them something different. Now we're living under a cloud and it's important for me to continue to stand up for what I believe in. After the case was publicised in the climbing community, the initial outrage and disgust was replaced by a huge groundswell of support and goodwill. An appeal was set up which generated much needed financial support; leading outdoor companies including Wild Country, Annapurna and Marmot, weighed in with equipment donations and top UK climber Johnny Dawes visited the site to offer his services.
With Sam and partner Carla rebuilding their dream literally brick by brick, their Hope Project took a significant step forward this week when it welcomed it's first visitors since the arson attack. A Liverpool youth group came down and while staying in tepees and tents above the dramatic north Cornwall coast, had what was for the overwhelming majority of them, a first taste of the great outdoors. For Sam Farmer, the experience was 'a total blast' He was not even perturbed when the temporary kitchen roof blew off in a gale as the volunteers cooked breakfast one morning. As things stand, plans have now been submitted by the charity to build a stable block for horse and llama-trekking with changing rooms and a gallery within the structure. Provided planning permission is granted, most of the work will be carried out by volunteers who have been moved by the story. For Sam Farmer, the road from Toxteth to Truro has offered as many peaks and troughs as the Snowdonia mountains where he gained his outdoor experience. For the time being, the Liverpool youngsters who visited the Hope Project this week have left him 'frazzled but elated'. The journey continues.
© The Guardian
17/8/2012- Hate crime campaigners are demanding West Yorkshire Police conducts an urgent review into the force’s third party reporting centres, after claiming an investigation has found a number of them do not even exist. Just West Yorkshire, which works to promote racial justice, civil liberties and human rights in the region, has written to Sir Norman Bettison, the chief constable of West Yorkshire Police, warning many of its 200 reporting centres which have been established over the past few years to combat the crime are not fit for purpose. The group says several of the reporting centres listed by the force have out of date contact details, while in one instance, a support agency listed as Kirklees Ethnic Minority Alliance does not even exist any more. It also claims a leaflet on display at Lawcroft House Police station in Bradford earlier this month, provided another website and address for a reporting centre in the city which closed down three years ago.
Ratna Lachman, director of Just West Yorkshire, who wrote the letter to Sir Norman, said: “I am deeply concerned to find that West Yorkshire Police continue to distribute leaflets within their police stations of third party reporting centres which no longer exist. “We will continue pursuing the matter with West Yorkshire Police and its partners as access to justice by victims of hate crime is a fundamental human right.” The rapidly changing demographic of Yorkshire’s largest cities have led to forces across the region working to increase the number of hate crimes being reported – with fears a significant number do not come to the attention of the authorities. Last month, it emerged a strategy to combat hate crimes in York is being overhauled to prevent offences escalating amid a dramatic increase in ethnic minorities. The first document was launched by York Council in January 2008, but the city has witnessed a massive population boom in the intervening four years.
The rising number of ethnic minorities has been attributed in part to the £750m expansion of York University, although the city has also attracted many new residents. The ethnic minority population has more than doubled in a decade, and a study in 2010 revealed there were 78 different first languages being spoken in the city. Data from North Yorkshire Police have shown that there were 121 reported hate crimes in York during the last financial year, with 99 of
the offences being racially motivated. The figure is significantly lower than the 164 hate crimes which were reported in 2008/09 when the strategy was first launched. West Yorkshire Police says it is working hard to increase the number of racially or religiously-motivated crimes being reported. In 2009 the number rose 12 times faster than in other parts of the country.
But Kash Ahmed, of Just West Yorkshire, said: “From the people that we speak to who are victims of race hate crimes, many don’t bother reporting to the police any more. “We feel West Yorkshire Police are failing victims of race hate crime. “People do not bother reporting it the police because they don’t think anybody is going to get arrested over it.” John Parkinson, deputy chief constable of West Yorkshire Police, said in a statement yesterday: “We already have third party reporting sites in West Yorkshire and are very serious about following through on hate crime reporting. “We have received the letter from Just West Yorkshire at precisely the same time as they have gone to the Press. “We do intend to respond positively, outlining what we are doing and considering whether we need to review those processes any further.” In 2011-2012, the charity
Stop Hate UK which has Doreen Lawrence, the mother of Stephen Lawrence, a black British teenager who was murdered in a racial attack in South East London, as its patron, received 448 reports of hate crime relating to the victim’s race or ethnicity.
© The Yorkshire Post
Racist arson attack as children slept upstairs (UK)
16/8/2012- A father was forced to extinguish two fireworks hurled into his family's home in what police believe was a racist attack. The family – who investigators say are from an eastern-Mediterranean country – were asleep in their home in Foliot Road, North Prospect in the early hours of Sunday when the father was woken by noises downstairs. Detectives said he raced down the stairs and was shocked to find a firework had been shoved through the letterbox shortly after 2.15am and was burning a hole in the hallway carpet.
He was able to extinguish the firework before any serious damage was done, but as he opened the front door he was confronted by three men. He told police he shouted at them, saying he had his wife and children – aged seven and five – upstairs, but they began to hurl racist insults at him before throwing yet another lit firework into his home. He was again force to extinguish the firework which burned through parts of a carpet but when he returned to remonstrate with the group a brick was thrown at his car, damaging it.
Det Con Anne Rose, from the Plymouth Diverse Communities Team, said the incident has badly affected the entire family. She said: "There was potential for this incident to have had extremely serious consequences. "The whole family have been left very shocked, frightened and upset. "The children are terrified and can't sleep while his wife now suffers panic attacks. "The father works locally and has done so for a number of years, but he told me he will be moving his family away from the area, while he remains here.
"It is only because the father managed to get downstairs and put the firework out that we didn't have a far worse incident. "It is believed that the family could well have been targeted because they are mid-European and the motive for this attack is thought to have been racial hatred." Police are keen to hear from anyone who was in the Foliot Road area of North Prospect between 1.30pm and 2.30pm on August 12 and saw three men acting suspiciously. If A 23-year-old has been arrested on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life and bailed until October 8 pending further inquiries.
© This is Plymouth
Pregnant Polish migrant told British Muslim women wearing hijabs to 'go back to your own country' in drunken tirade (UK)
Beata Jopek had been drinking vodka and screamed abuse at victims Hana Farah and Ithil Ibrahim ; Jopek and her boyfriend abused them on a train and she eventually pulled off one of their hijabs
16/8/2012- A pregnant Polish migrant launched a blistering racist verbal attack on two young Muslim women wearing hijab headscarves and told them to ‘go back to your own country’, a court heard. Drunk Beata Jopek shouted at the two passengers on a Yorkshire train, screaming ‘no-one wants you here, you are f****** disgusting.’ The British women were left ‘fearing for their safety’ as Jopek, 30, told one of them: ‘Take that f****** thing off, a white person wouldn’t do what you are doing.’ Jopek then ripped the headscarf from one of the women and when restrained by a guard said: ‘If I lose the baby I’m going to kill the black b****.’ The drunken foul-mouthed tirade ended with Jopek and her partner Maciej Matysniak, 32, being arrested for what a judge called their ‘yobbish’ behaviour towards Hana Farah and Ithil Ibrahim. Jopek narrowly escaped a prison sentence after both women said they would rather the foul-mouthed Poles, who have lived in England for some years, be made to recognise what they did was wrong rather than go to jail.
Prosecutor Jim Baird told Sheffield Crown Court that the women were travelling on the 9.30pm train from Leeds to Sheffield after visiting a friend in hospital. About 15 minutes into the journey Matysniak approached them and swore. ‘Shut the f*** up”, why are you so “f****** loud, aren’t you embarrassed about how loud you are? You can’t even speak English,’ he said. The two Muslims felt frightened and intimidated by Matysniak who was clearly drunk. Miss Farah told him to go away and leave the women alone but that incensed his partner Jopek who was also drunk and got to her feet and swore at the women saying: ‘Don’t talk to him like that he’s only telling the truth.’ Passengers intervened as Jopek tried to get to the pair but was restrained by her partner. She then launched her foul-mouthed racist tirade ‘because they were wearing hijab headscarves’, said Mr Baird.
Jopek again approached the women as the train approached Barnsley station and she sat down opposite Miss Ibrahim making references to her headscarf and swore as she told her to take it off. The Pole grabbed at the hijab, pulling at Miss Ibrahim’s hair and the scarf came off. Police officers escorted the Poles off the train at Barnsley and they were so drunk they could not be interviewed until the next day when they had sobered up. Jopek refused to answer questions but her partner claimed the two women were shouting so loud passengers could not have a conversation. He also claimed one of them swore and gave him a finger gesture. Mr Baird said both women were ‘upset and shocked and nervous’ and anxious about travelling on trains. Miss Ibrahim had suffered depression since the incident for which she has received medical treatment. Jopek admitted racially aggravated common assault and Matysniak admitted threatening behaviour on January 30. They live in Barnsley.
Heidi Cotton, for Jopek said she had drunk half a bottle of vodka despite being pregnant and added: ‘Drink is no longer her friend.’ Ian West for Matysniak said he took full responsibility for his actions but they were not racially motivated. Judge Michael Murphy told the Poles: ‘Courts cannot teach people to behave in a civilised way but a court can punish people who do not behave. This was disgraceful and drunken violence on a train. It was yobbish and uncivilised disgraceful behaviour in drink.’ Jopek was given a three-month jail term suspended for 12 months and 120 hours of unpaid community work. Matysniak was given a 12-month community order with 80 hours of unpaid work.
© The Daily Mail
English chess world in turmoil after Muslim brothers are 'racially abused' by OWN supporters at tournament in Austria
Yousuf bin-Suhayl, 13, and his brothers Ibraheem, 10, and Ieysaa, aged seven, were abused while representing England, it is alleged; Abuse is alleged to have come from members of the English delegation who were supposed to be supporting them at tournament in Austria; Claims being investigated by the English Chess Federation
15/8/2012- It is a game usually played in near silence and at a sedate pace. But the usually serene chess community has been rocked by allegations that a mother and her three schoolboy sons, representing England at a European youth tournament, were subjected to a barrage of racial abuse. Even worse, the abuse is alleged to have come from members of the English delegation who were supposed to be supporting Muslim player Yousuf bin-Suhayl, 13, and his brothers Ibraheem, 10, and Ieysaa, aged seven. Yesterday the siblings’ parents, Sohale Rahman and Tomasina Contu, told how tensions became so heated the family had to be escorted back to their hotel by police. The English Chess Federation is now probing the astonishing claims of physical, verbal and racist abuse at the European Union Youth Championships in Mureck, Austria last week.
It is claimed that two parents of other English children in the tournament were harassing and abusing Miss Contu in the stands. One of those involved is said to have forcefully grabbed Yousuf by the chest, causing him to bleed. The family, from Marshland St James, Norfolk, had travelled to central Europe so the three boys could represent their country in the chess competition during their school holidays. Mr Rahman, 43, also said that the boys were not provided halal food, as requested before the competition, and were given cold boiled eggs and ‘bits of bread’ to eat while other team members indulged in a buffet. The English Chess Federation is now probing the astonishing claims of racist behaviour within the usually serene game community. Mr Rahman said: ‘I pleaded with the English Chess Federation (ECF) to take action for the security of my family but in vain. We believe the ECF has failed in their duty of care.’
The ECF have said they are taking the allegations very 'seriously'. Andrew Farthing, ECF chief executive, said: “We are aware of certain allegations which have been made concerning the behaviour of some of the members of the English delegation at this tournament. ‘The federation is taking the situation very seriously and are investigating if there is any truth in the allegations and witness statements are currently being sought.’ Mr Rahman, said his wife and eldest son Yousuf bin-Suhayl, 13, cannot sleep properly after being ‘bullied’ at the championships. They spent the whole trip, which cost the family £3,000, sat at a separate table from the rest of the English party as they were always drinking alcohol. He believes Yousuf, who got an A* in A Level maths at the age of 12, should have won the competition, but he came third.
He said: ‘My wife and eldest son cannot sleep - they are traumatised. It was bullying. ‘The other parents said my wife was not educated because she chooses to cover her head. ‘They told her to F*** off. They would stand in front of her. And ask ‘where do you think you are going?’. ‘They set out to intimidate her. ‘One parent said ‘what is that stench’ after she had walked into the room. He added: ‘She was stuck because the people she was trying to complain about where socialising with the people she needed to complain to.’ The worst incident was when a mother grabbed Yousuf on his chest leaving bleeding nail marks. Mr Rahman said: ‘That is child abuse. All he did was walk around her.’ Mr Rahman said no Halal food had been arranged for his family or provisions for them to eat at times to fit in with Ramadan fasting. He said: 'The first day at dawn there was no food. And the place where the food was kept was locked.’ He added: ‘My wife and I felt helpless as parents being unable to feed our children.’ He has complained to British police and Norfolk Police are arranging to take a statement from him. He said: 'We just want justice.'
A spokesman from the English Chess Federation said: The ECF has completed a thorough investigation into the events that took place at the European Union Youth Chess Championships in Mureck, Austria. 'The investigation obtained statements from eye-witnesses. It concluded that the allegations of racist or Islamophobic abuse and of a physical attack are unfounded. The report found that there was a disagreement amongst the families of the England team that resulted from complaints of perceived disruptive behaviour by individual children. There is no evidence that racism or religious intolerance played any part. 'The claims concerning provision of suitable food during the event are inconsistent with both the facts and the extensive efforts made by the tournament organisers, hotel management and ECF Head of Delegation to ensure that the requirements of all members of the England delegation were met. 'The ECF takes any charge of racism or religious intolerance extremely seriously and we absolutely condemn discriminatory behaviour of any kind. The ECF is also committed to the safety of all competitors who take part in tournaments at home and abroad.'
© The Daily Mail
Gay teen spat at and threatened in the street in Tonbridge (UK)
14/8/2012- A gay man from Tonbridge has spoken out in a bid to halt the verbal abuse he suffers when he walks through the town with his boyfriend. Shop assistant Reece Heron, 18, says he has been shouted at, spat at, threatened, followed and, in one bizarre example, had a sausage roll thrown at him while with partner Simon Bennett.The Peach Hall resident told the Courier: "It happens all the time. Me and my boyfriend walk down the High Street holding hands and we get all these eyes and people shouting abuse and stuff. People shout names like 'shirtlifter' and other horrible words. "I don't know why they find us offensive – it's our lives, not theirs. It makes us feel so hated." Mr Heron said he and Mr Bennett has been together for three months and rarely encountered the problem elsewhere. "In Tunbridge Wells it's fine, no-one says a word," he said. "But in Tonbridge it's totally different. It's like that space in between makes all the difference. "I have other gay friends here who don't really show it – they say to us we are brave for showing it. But it's a normal relationship, why would I want to hide it?"
On Monday afternoon, the Courier accompanied the couple for a walk along the High Street to see the extent of the problem. In just eight minutes, we counted five examples of what could be termed homophobic abuse, from people simply pointing and jeering to an aggressive verbal outburst by a middle-aged man. Aged in his 40s, shaven headed and wearing a polo shirt, the man called them "poofters" and gesticulated to the couple from across the street as he demanded: "Come here." For Mr Heron and 18-year-old Mr Bennett, of Belgrave Road, Tunbridge Wells, this is an all-too-frequent occurrence. On their way to meet our reporter, they claimed to have been verbally abused three times, with one man in his 20s shouting: "I hope you die of AIDS. Come here, I'll smash your face in."
But the problem is not confined to young men, according to Mr Heron, who aims to leave the town he has called home since the age of seven as soon as possible. "It's every age from about 11," said the former Hayesbrook and K College student. "We get quite a few old people telling us we are disgusting. We also met two young women pushing buggies who told us we should be ashamed of ourselves. It's constant and it's getting to the point where I fear we might get beaten up. "If anything did happen to hurt either one of us we would go straight to the police, but with verbal abuse it's hard to do that. We would feel a bit stupid reporting some name-calling."
James Lawrence of lesbian, gay and bisexual charity Stonewall said his organisation had worked hard to make sure the law took homophobic hate crimes and incidents seriously. He said: "We strongly encourage victims of such incidents to report them to the police. This will help the police to respond and target their work more effectively, and create a safer community for everyone." Inspector John Phillips said: "There are a range of agencies that offer support to victims of hate crime and we have specially trained officers to investigate hate crime offences. "I would urge anyone who feels they have been a victim of a hate crime, or who thinks they might have witnessed one, to report it to us and to be confident that we will take it seriously and investigate it sensitively."
© This is Kent
Leader of Czech neo-Nazi party threatens editor of the Romano hangos newspaper
11/8/2012- Pavel Peèínka, the editor-in-chief of the Romani newspaper Romano hangos has become the target of indiscriminate, vulgar curses and threats made by the leader of the Workers Social Justice Party ( Dìlnická strana sociální spravedlnosti - DSSS), Tomáš Vandas. The threats were prompted by several questions Peèínka sent Vandas by e-mail when seeking information and his opinions on various topics in his role as a candidate for the office of the Czech president. The questions concerned his links to the neo-Nazi scene and whether he is gay.
Peèínka told news server Romea.cz that he recognizes the latter question could be perceived as "crossing the line", but said that given Vandas's vocal, often vulgar invective against "homosexuals" and the questions surrounding his sexual orientation among radical right adherents he decided to ask it. "Tomáš Vandas did not write a reply to my questions, but called me several minutes after I had sent him my survey questions by e-mail. It was evident that he was quite outraged that I had dared to ask him such a question," Peèínka told news server Romea.cz, adding that Vandas had threatened him and vulgarly cursed him. ” 'You have the nerve to ask me whether I am homosexual? I guarantee you the two of us will meet in person some day, you beast. You'll be whimpering differently then, you can count on it. We'll settle this differently, you brute,' " Peèínka quoted the DSSS leader as saying.
The number from which Vandas called has been made available to news server Romea.cz. We have determined that it was the number to Vandas's mother's apartment. Vandas did not deny to news server Romea.cz that he had telephoned Peèínka but refused to comment on his vulgar phone call. "I will not respond to any survey that doesn't make sense and that psychopath Peèínka can stick it. A normal person can't even utter such questions," Vandas said indignantly.
Headlines 10 August, 2012
Curiously, there is little to no coverage to be found in the Hungarian media of the racist hate groups’ violent behavior - in the light of day and in front of cameras - in a Hungarian village last weekend. The following story, therefore, is not simply about a demonstration organized by the third biggest parliamentary party in Hungary, during which, yet again, they managed to make it crystal-clear how close their alliances are with violent far-right militias which habitually incite to racist violence.
8/8/2012- This story, however, is also about the media’s lack of coverage of the most outragous agitation of the Hungarian extreme right, and the task to which this puts anyone not personally present to witness the disconcerting rise in the audacity with which these political groups stir up ethnic conflict in the villages of the country. Increasingly it becomes true that the Hungarian media shies away from giving proper reports on the criminal behavior of Jobbik politicians and their paramilitary allies. One of the recent developments in the rhetoric of the far-right, as a result, is their quite liberal application of the word “self-defense” in justification of their intimidating, racist - and is the case here – violent attacks on minorities. In the meantime, the police and the legal establishment is idly standing by.But to the story now. The Hungarian town of Devecser has already received international attention during the red sludge disaster of 2010, when, along with Kolontár, it was one of several unfortunate towns flooded with caustic waste from the nearby toxic material reservoir of teh Ajka alumina plant.
Now, two years later, the far-right is focused on the town not because the clean-up the environment remains incomplete, but because they wanted a demonstration of force against what they claim is the mistreatment – or lack of action – of the police of their local supporters in an argument with their Roma neighbors. Violence seems to have ensued during the course of this argument, which precipitated a warning, in the form of a party-sponsored demonstration, of the far-right’s collective force against all Roma residents of the town. Jobbik, the official organizing force behind the event, included in the event well-known violent extremist organizations and paramilitaries. Together, they brought a considerable number of far-right sympathizers to the small town: approximately 1000 demonstrators arrived to the town of roughly 5000 residents. The New Hungarian Guard (Új Magyar Gárda), the For a Better Future Civil Guard Association (Szebb Jövõért Polgárõr Egyesület) , Sixty-Four Counties Youth Movement (Hatvannégy Vármegye), Defense Force (Véderõ), Guard Motorcyclists (Gárda Motorosok), and Betyársereg (Outlaw Army) each brought its own supporters. (As it was clarified by a Hungarian court recently, legally speaking, this type of lose co-operation is the most advantageous for them: collectively, they cannot be held responsible for specific criminal acts during the protests, individual responsibility, however, is hard to establish with so many groups present).
Jobbik was represented by three members of parliament: Gábor Ferenczi, Szilvia Bertha and Balázs Lenhardt. The most complete report of what took place comes from an eye-witness account prepared by a contributor to the Hungarian blog Kettõs Mérce (Double Standard):
“The speeches began with Jobbik MP Gábor Ferenczi’s. Ferenczi said that they want peace, order and safety in Devecser, and that this demonstration is about rightful Hungarian self-defense, so that the Hungarian could defend themselves and the gypsies would assume their obligations. Ferenczi addressed the mayor of Devecser in particular, since he had previously told the press that the Jobbik demonstration in the town was unnecessary. Ferenczi “urged the mayor not to direct his words against ‘normal’ Hungarians but to stand up against the ‘criminals’ instead. Ferenczi also said that he wants to hear no more complaints, and especially nothing further about the gypsies of Devecser stealing and cheating. In case there were any trouble, he instructed people to call in the Defense Force [Véderõ, a paramilitary organization also involved in the occupation of Gyöngyöspata last year]. He emphasized that capital punishment needs to be reintroduced in Hungary, and he finished his speech by saying that if the problems do not cease, they are going to return.
Next up was László Toroczkai of Sixty-Four Counties [a person many times alleged with, though never convicted of, terrorist acts]. He started out his speech by saying that Hungarians have three possibilities. One is to immigrate, another is to become slaves – ‘of the gypsies’ – or to stay here and fight, in which case those who are bothered by Hungarianness must leave. He said that there are gypsies and gypsy criminality all over the country, and ‘wherever this ethnic group is present, destruction and devastation shows up.’ According to him, the gypsies want to exterminate the Hungarians and if they want to fight, then one must take up the fight against them, there is no other possibility. He also added that Hungarians either become victims or they fight back.
After this, Attila László of the For a Better Future Civil Guard Association [a demonstration by this group marked the start of a lengthy period of ethnic tensions in Gyöngyöspata last year] was given the microphone. “All the trash must be swept out of the country,” he said in opening.
According to him, one must rebel and chase away all the criminals and one must organize in every community – for this task, every “militant Hungarian” will be needed. In conclusion, he defined self-defense as “an instinct that comes to formulation during emergencies and which is then followed up by conscious action.”
After the speeches, the marching portion of the demonstration took place: the protestors proceeded to the house of the family they had come here to protect. By the time the reporter arrived to the house of the family – who are most likely Jobbik supporters and local organizers of the party – the marchers were chanting:
“You are no-ones!” “You are going to die, gypsies, you are going to die here!”
At this point, another series of speeches began, first by Zsolt Tyirityán of Betyársereg (Outlaw Army), who spoke of racial warfare and ethnic cleansings. “The gypsy is coded in such a way that criminality is in him,” he said. For proper effect, he also added that it is the “zionists” who direct them to go up against the laws. “I consider myself a racist,” Tyirityán said, “and I am going to stand up for the cause of not letting our life-space over to an ulterior race.” “The genetically coded trash must be exterminated from public life.” “We are going to stamp out this phenomenon, it must be extirpated from our lives.”
Next, the author of the blog post proceeded to a house of friends.
The house happened to line by the marching route of the demonstration, which did arrive shortly. “They were shouting various racist and intimidating slogans, then first a waterbottle, and within a few seconds a greater piece of concrete hit my right upper arm. The reason why it didn’t hit my head is that I drew it out of the way… We then started for the house from the yard. In the meantime, more pieces of concrete and water bottles landed around us. By the time we reached the house, we had to roll down the blinds, because they were aiming for the windows as well. There were several children in the house.
“Once they left and we ventured outside of the house, we found out they have done this to many other houses inhabited by gypsies.” Jobbik MP Ferenczi was also among the injured. “There were multiple police standing by the houses, and this still happened.”
The following footage is available about the incident outside of the house in which the Roma family lives. On Monday, I was able to watch a longer version of this footage – a report prepared by one of the extreme right’s video-producing branches - but their full footage of the event (about 6 minutes long) has since been removed from the internet. Thanks to Egyenlítõ Blog, however, the 25-second part of the video showing this throwing incident can still be viewed on the internet.
The above report was later confirmed by a media outlet operated by the extreme right. When compared to the actual footage of what the speakers said at the event, it does not even contain some of the worst quotes. If one were to file a criminal case for instigating to ethnic conflict, they might want to go with this interaction, available on a video made by ATV. Though this report fails to show the actual size of the crowd, the speech starting at 1:08 translates as follows:
“What do you think, according to you, are there signs of a racial war in this country?” – asks the speaker from the crowd (Zsolt Tyirityánof the Outlaw Army).
“Yes!” yells the crowd back at him.
“According to you, based on race or ethnicity, is there going to be an escalation to a conflict?”
“So then let’s send a message to them!”
And the facts are not disputed by the participants of the demonstration either! They are proud of the “success” of their unified protest. As they write in the title of one of their reports: “It was us who attacked the gypsies, and we are proud of it.”
This is what took place in Devecser in the words of the far-right media:
“The march was lead by the wild fighters of Betyársereg, who know no fear, with their impressive black flags, which never fail to arise fear in the enemy. Behind them followed the disciplined lines of [Sixty-Four] Counties. The main corps were comprised of Jobbik members and civilians, while the march ended with the Better Future and the Guardists. The Hungarians drove the gypsies staring at them to run several times. First, at the house where the brawl took place [previously, in late July]. There was a line of police guarding the street of the gypsies, behind it, 5-6 gypsies were staring at the Hungarians, but when the Outlaws started at them – breaking away through the police line – the gypsies went on the lam. The emergency police vehicle held up the Hungarians who penetrated into the street of the gypsies. The march proceeded, but in another street with many gypsies, there were further clashes.
“The [racial epithet used in the plural] were peeking out from behind the stone fence of a house inhabited by gypsies. They were recording the marching crowd with a camera they have stolen from who knows whom. Then, an argument ensued between the marchers and them. Finally, a water bottle was flown, which hit the [racial epithet] in the head, after which there was a stone thrown from behind the fence into the crowd. This was followed by a storm of brick and concrete pieces and stones which chased the 15-20 gypsies into the house from their previous hiding place behind the stone wall. Gábor Ferenczi, a member of parliament for Jobbik was wounded during the incident – he was likely hit in the head by a gypsy (he required care in the nearby Ajka hospital).
“The police were not on top of the situation, they arrived there late, they could not handle the situation at all, in most of them one could see fear. It was not because of them that the pogrom did not yet take place. At this time, the Hungarians were absolutely superior.”
The issue of self-defense and Ferenczi’s injury is important for media reports: as a member of parliament, he has enough status to command the attention of news organization (with his wounded head, he is the perfect image for a catchy report). According to the far-right, he was hit by a water bottle. Also according to the far-rights’ reporting, there was a stone thrown out of the house in which, previously, the inhabitants behind the stone fence were attacked. When one views the video that has since disappeared from the internet, save the excerpt as salvaged above, there are no stones being thrown from the inside. But the incident, all in all, is an act of self-defense: an instinctual act which is followed through by conscious and coordinated acion. What is there to defend against: the genetically-coded criminality of the gypsies, of course. Trying kncking a hole into this solid argument. One would think that the above is plenty to ponder for a self-respecting news organization. The story ends, however, on the sad note of what becomes of the events that took place on August 5 in Devecser in the interpretation of major newspapers both on the government’s and the opposition’s side.
What follows next, then, is a word-for-word translation of the entirety of the report published about this “incident” in the largest circulation left-wing daily in Hungary:
“Gábor Ferenczi, Jobbik parliamentary representative of Veszprém County demanded the restoration of the death penalty at a Sunday event of the party in Devecser, where, according to the MP’s estimates, about one thousand were present.
The demonstration, by the name of ‘Live and let live: demonstration for the rightful Hungarian self-defense,’ was held with the participation of Jobbik and several right-wing radical organizations. It started on the square in front of the Catholic church, after which the demonstrators marched in streets where they thought gypsies lived.
In Devecser, a town that has become famous during the red-sludge disaster and which has merely 5,000 inhabitants, Gábor Ferenczi stated that their aim is not discrimination on the basis of ethnicity: what they want in Devecser is peace, order and safety. ‘Live and let live in this municipality: this is what we are asking from our gypsy compatriots.’
The member of parliament asked for the fortification of the police station in Devecser, after which he emphasized that there are more and more brutal criminal acts taking place in the country. He stated that they demand the restoration of the death penalty, ‘so that there are requisite deterrents to push back against and prevent these crimes.’
László Toroczkai, the president of the Sixty-Four Counties Youth Movement urged the participants not to leave the country and their native soil and to not let themselves be chased away.
Marching after the speeches the participants of the demonstration passed by a house where the argument and brawl that has prompted the demonstration had taken place at the end of July.
The police secured the route of the rally with a cordon, which the demonstrators did try to break through several times. On one occassion, they engaged in throwing objects with the locals, during which Gábor Ferenczi was injured on his temple. Imre Orbán, the vice president of Jobbik’s Veszprém county organization informed the Hungarian News Agency that Gábor Ferenczi’s wound was treated in the local hospital of Ajka; the stone that hit him, according to them, was hurled from the yard of one of the houses.”
The left-wing daily took the story off of the Hungarian news wire: not one journalist was assigned to the story (increasingly this seems to be the strategy of the print media in Hungary: to go with the Hungarian News Agency story). Word for word, the above report is found over and over in other media outlets. With the exception of some of the pro-government print media, which relied on the disputed reporting of Hír TV. In its reporting, the conservative television channel claimed that Ferenczi’s head was wounded by friendly fire of sorts: that the water bottle that hit him came from his own. But since this occassioned a huge uproar from far-right news portals, they retracted their original report. This is the print version of the story in the end, in its entirety:
“The demonstration held by Jobbik and extreme right organizations close to Jobbik ended without serious disorderly conduct. Two people fainted from the heat while marching. The crowd proceeded to the house where in the last few weeks a mass brawl took place between two families, one Hungarian, another gypsy, who have been locked in a long-standing feud. Some threw water bottles on houses from which Roma had come out on the streets, but the police fast put an end to this. Gábor Ferenczi of Jobbik was hit with a piece of concrete. Prior to that, the member of parliament held a speech in which he stated that they came with peaceful intentions, but if public safety does not improve in the municipality, they are going to return. The politician demanded a fortified police station for the town previously hit by the red sludge catastrophe. The authorities secured the event with significant forces.”
It would be beyond the scope of this already lengthy post, unfortunately, to comment on the issue at hand: that what took place in Devecser is incitement to racially and ethnically based warfare. Which is exactly the point, which is exactly how and why the Hungarian far right is gaining ground in Hungary. If you go only by the newspapers and the official media outlets, this story hardly exists at all. When it is made mention of, it is a story distorted to its core: far from the free rampage of hate groups in a far-away Hungarian town, it is about a gathering of “peaceful intentions.” The task has just got this much more difficult: no longer is this only about the legal, the political and the social fight against extremism, but about the fight against misinformation and silence as well.
© The Contrarian Hungarian
7/8/2012- The “USA Today” of August 7, 2012, has reported as follows: “Sikh rights groups have reported a rise in bias attacks since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. The Washington-based Sikh Coalition has reported more than 700 incidents, which advocates blame on anti-Islamic sentiment. Sikhs don’t practice the same religion as Muslims, but their long beards and turbans often cause them to be mistaken for Muslims, advocates say…..But the turban also attracts violence to individuals and their places of worship. In the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, four drunk teenagers set fire to the Gobind Sadan, a Sikh house of worship in Hastings, N.Y.” From a study of the reports published in the US media, it would appear that since 9/11, there have been two attacks on Sikh places of worship in the US. The first was the arson attack by some drunk teenagers in Hastings, N.Y, which apparently did not lead to any casualties and the second the attack with a hand gun on a group of Sikhs who had gathered inside a gurudwara in Oak Creek in the Milwaukee area of Wisconsin on August 5, 2012, which led to the death of six Sikhs, four of them turbaned priests. Among those killed was the founding-President of the Gurudwara, 65-year-old Satwant Singh Kaleka.
One of those present in the gurudwara told the CNN in an interview that the gunman appeared to be specifically targeting bearded, turbaned members of the congregation and not those who were clean shaven. He first killed two Sikhs in the parking lot outside the gurudwara, then shot dead four more inside, exited and seriously injured two police officers who had rushed to the gurudwara. He also injured one other Sikh, but it is not known whether he injured him inside or outside the gurudwara. The gunman was ultimately shot dead by one of the police officers. The gunman used a 9 mm hand gun for the killing. From a study of the reports in the US media, he does not appear to have indulged in indiscriminate firing. If it was indiscriminate firing, there would have been more injured people. It was targeted firing directed at Sikhs with beard and turban. Speaking to the media, Teresa Carlson, FBI special agent in charge of the investigation, said the “motive is still being assessed at this time,” but the shooting is being investigated as domestic terrorism. The FBI defines terrorism as violence used to coerce a government or civilian population to advance political or social objectives.
Paul Bresson, an FBI spokesman, told the media: “We’re looking at hate crime as a possibility. You have a shooting that took place in a house of worship. This was not just a random thing. There’s a feeling that this was somehow thought out and targeted.” By the evening of August 6, the gunman was identified as Wade Michael Page, aged 40, originally of Colorado and now living in Wisconsin. According to Lt.Col.Laurel Devine of the Public Affairs Division of the US Army, Page joined the Army in 1992 and was discharged at the rank of specialist in 1998. He specialised in psychological operations. He was posted at Fort Sill in Oklahoma, Fort Bliss in Texas and Fort Bragg in North Carolina. He received several awards, including five achievement medals, two good conduct medals and a parachutist badge. In a press statement, Page has been described by the Southern Poverty Law Centre, a non-governmental organisation which maintains a data base of white extremists, as “a frustrated neo-Nazi who had been the leader of a racist white-power band.” The centre, which reportedly has a database of more than 20,000 people it has identified as white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other members of hate groups, said Page figured in its data base since 2000.
According to Heidi Beirich, of the Southern Poverty Law Center, in 2000, Page came to its notice for the first time when he tried to purchase unidentified materials from National Alliance, a neo-Nazi group that influenced Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. He was subsequently noticed associating himself with some music groups that propagated “hate music”. Among such groups were two called Youngland and End Apathy. According to her, Page used to write for a white supremacist website called Storm Front under the name of Youngland. His groups played at music festivals meant for white supremacists, skinheads and neo-Nazis. His band played in a festival called Uprise in 2010 and he attended other festivals including Hammerfest, one of the largest festivals. She said that the number of hate groups operating in the US has increased since Barack Obama was elected President in 2008.The number of hate groups identified by her organisation has gone up from 602 in 2000 to 1018 last year.
The “USA Today” has quoted Beirich as identifying five White extremists figuring in the database of her Centre as having taken to violence. Apart from Page, these are: James Von Brunn who died after shooting and killing a black security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Museum in 2009 in Washington, D.C.; Richard Poplawski who was convicted of shooting and killing three Pittsburgh police officers in 2009; Keith Luke accused of killing two people and raping and shooting a third in a shooting spree in Brockton, Mass., in 2009; and Kevin Harpham, an Army veteran convicted of planting a bomb at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Spokane last year. In an interview in April 2010, Page said he started his band End Apathy in 2005 out of frustration that “we have the potential to accomplish so much more as individuals and a society in whole.” He added: “The concept was based on trying to figure out what it would take to actually accomplish positive results in society and what is holding us back. A lot of what I realized at the time was that if we could figure out how to end people’s apathetic ways, it would be the start toward moving forward. Of course after that it requires discipline, strict discipline to stay the course in our sick society.”
According to Marc Pitcavage of the Anti-Defamation League as quoted by “USA Today”, Page also was a member of the Hammerskins, “one of the oldest hard-core racist groups” in the country. The music groups with which he was associated, were affiliated with the Hammerskins. The “USA Today” quotes Pitcavage as stating as follows: “Page had a number of tattoos identifying him as a skinhead and neo-Nazi. There was a tattoo of a cog that included the number 838, which means “Hail the crossed hammers,” a skinhead slogan. There also was a tattoo of a Celtic cross with the number 14, a reference to the 14-word white supremacist slogan: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.” He also had a tattoo of a totenkopf, a death’s head or skull, which is a neo-Nazi symbol that shows allegiance to the white supremacist movement.”
Analysts in US media attribute the increase in the number of White extremist hate groups to the following factors. Firstly, the propaganda carried on by White extremists that by 2040 immigrants from Latin America will constitute the majority of the US population. Secondly, the belief of the White extremists that an increase in the vote bank of the Blacks and other minorities contributed to the victory of Obama in the Presidential election. Thirdly, unemployment. Economic distress adds to the anti-minority anger of the White extremists. What has been the contribution of the post-9/11 anti-Muslim suspicions and prejudices to the growth of hate groups? This has not been adequately analysed though this too must be a factor. The increase in hate crime against the Sikhs could be attributed partly to economic and partly to religious factors. The economic factor being jealousy over the prosperity achieved by them. The religious factor is the inability of sections of the population—-even people not identified with White extremists— to distinguish the Sikhs from the Muslims and Sikhism from Islam.
Initial reports of the attack spoke of the possibility of there being more than one perpetrator. Now, the police seem to believe that there was only one. Was it a lone wolf attack self-motivated or was it an attack motivated by an organisation or group spreading hatred against Sikhs? The indications till now are that it was probably a self-motivated lone wolf attack. If the observations of a clean-shaven Sikh who was interviewed by the CNN that Page seemed to be targeting turbaned Sikhs are correct, there would be a greater possibility of the attack being due to religious bias than economic anger. The FBI Special agent Teresa Carlson said: “We are looking at ties to white supremacy groups. Page had contact with law enforcement in the past and was in FBI files, but the FBI had no reason to believe he was planning an attack.” It needs to be added that most of the details carried by the US media regarding Page’s links with White extremist groups as mentioned above have come from non-governmental research groups monitoring white extremist activities and not from the police. The CBS TV channel, citing unnamed sources, said evidence suggested race or ethnicity might have played a role in the violence, but it added no links to extremist groups have been confirmed.
The Journal Sentinel of Milwaukee reported that Page apparently worked as a truck driver with Granger, Iowa-based Barr-Nunn Transportation, from about April 2006 to August 2010 while living in Fayetteville, N.C. An employee at the company reportedly told the newspaper that Page left “involuntarily” but declined to elaborate. The only criminal information it had on Page was one of issuing a check in October 1997 which bounced, it said. The incident has not revived the debate on the need for effective gun control in the US. Many States allow unrestricted open carriage of guns. Some States do impose restrictions on concealed carriage, However, it is so easy to buy and possess guns without effective background checks. A gun is seen as a weapon of self-defence and political leaders do not want to impose controls on the right to protect oneself by acquiring a gun. The argument that many of the guns are used not for self-defence, but for killing others in anger or hatred or in outbursts of irrationality has not made much of an impact either on large sections of the political class or on the pro-gun lobby. It is futile to expect that the massacre of the Sikhs could have any impact on the debate on this subject.
The Sikh community, which was already concerned over the spate of hate attacks on individual Sikhs like taxi-drivers, gas station attendants etc since 9/11, will be even more concerned over this attack on a congregation of Sikhs in a Gurudwara resulting in multiple fatalities. There are already reports of unhappiness among members of the Sikh community in the US over what they view as the apathy of the authorities of the two countries in the light of continuing attacks on individual Sikhs and their failure to protect them. The police may have difficulty in protecting individual Sikhs subject to surprise attacks in public places, but the Sikhs will not be able to understand the inability of the Police to protect them when they are in groups in places like gurudwaras. There are already suggestions for increased police patrolling of areas where gurudwaras are located. Posting of static guards in such places where Sikhs gather for prayers and other religious and social occasions should be possible. It is estimated that there are about 120 gurudwaras and other Sikh places of worship in the US. Providing them effective protection should be possible. The Government of India should take this up with the US authorities.
It is also necessary for the Sikh community to interact frequently with non-Sikh communities, particularly Whites, in the US in order to remove wrong perceptions regarding Sikhism as a religion and the Sikhs as a community.
© The Eurasia Review
Islamic group issues safety advisory after another mosque is targeted (USA)
7/8/2012- A Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization today has issued a community safety advisory for American mosques following another incident targeting an Islamic house of worship, this time in Rhode Island. The Council on American-Islamic Relations said in a statement that Muslims in North Smithfield, R.I., have asked for extra police protection after the sign for Masjid Al-Islam was vandalized early Sunday. That incident followed Monday’s fire that destroyed a Joplin mosque and the deadly shooting attack Sunday on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. "We urge Muslim leaders nationwide to take immediate steps to boost security, particularly in the last ten days of the ongoing fast of Ramadan, when religious activities at mosques reach their peak," said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. Awad said recommended security measures, which are based on CAIR's "Muslim Community Safety Kit," include:
# Reaching out to local law enforcement authorities to request stepped up patrols in the area of a mosque.
# Meeting with elected officials to discuss safety concerns.
# Installing video surveillance cameras, alarms and perimeter lighting.
# Documenting descriptions of suspicious people or vehicles.
# Backing up important records at an offsite location.
# Cooperating with local neighborhood watch groups.
© The Joplin Globe
Joplin mosque razed in fire; 2nd blaze this summer(USA)
6/8/2012- A mosque in southwest Missouri burned to the ground early Monday in the second fire to hit the Islamic center in little more than a month, and investigators spent the day combing through the wreckage searching for evidence of arson. No injuries were reported, but the Islamic Society of Joplin's building was a total loss after the blaze, first reported at about 3:30 a.m., the Jasper County Sheriff's Office said. As of late Monday, nobody had been arrested in connection with the fire. Investigators from the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and the Jasper County Sheriff's department were at the scene all day Monday, moving the rubble with a bulldozer and other equipment. A specially trained dog assisted. Only remnants indicated a building had been there, including some stone pillars that were still standing and a few pieces of charred plywood loosely held up by a frame. While investigators did their work, a small group of Muslims gathered for an evening prayer on the lawn of the destroyed building. "This is what we stand for," said Dr. Ahmed Asadullah, a member of the Islamic Society of Joplin. "Freedom of religion. Freedom of speech."
It was the second time this summer investigators had been called to the Islamic center, located in a former church on the outskirts of Joplin. A fire reported around the same time on July 4 has been determined to be arson, but no charges have been filed. The FBI has released a video of a suspect caught on surveillance video and offered a $15,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in that fire. Michael Kaste, special agent in charge of the Kansas City office of the FBI, said the investigation into Monday's fire was in the preliminary stages, and that about 30 people had been assigned to the investigation. "Any act of violence to a house of worship is taken very seriously by law enforcement, and threatens the very core of the safety and security of our communities," Kaste said. Kaste said it was too early to say if there was surveillance video available from the Monday fire. The Jasper County Sheriff's office said earlier Monday the video equipment had been destroyed. The FBI was encouraging anyone with information about either fire to call authorities. "We just want to get the word out there to generate people to really come forward," he said.
Jasper County Sheriff Archie Dunn said patrols at the mosque had been stepped up since the July 4 fire at the mosque was determined to be arson. Imam Lahmuddin, who leads the mosque and was in the building until late Sunday, said he was "sad and shocked" about the fire. He had been at the mosque since before dawn Monday, and remained there late in the evening. "Maybe there is something we are supposed to learn from this," he said. A Washington-based Muslim civil rights organization meanwhile called for more police protection at mosques and other houses of worship following the Joplin fire and a deadly attack at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. The Council on American-Islamic Relations also offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever started the mosque fire. About 50 families belong to the Islamic Society of Joplin, which opened in 2007 as a mosque and community center. The FBI led an investigation in 2008 when the mosque's sign was torched. That crime also remained unsolved.
Lahmuddin, who has lived in Joplin for about four years, said several people were at the center late Sunday. He said despite the attacks, the center's members have good relationships with residents and other churches. He said many are doctors at area hospitals. The center also served as a shelter and staging area for volunteers who came to help Joplin after the May 22 ripped through the city, killing 161 people. On Sunday, a gunman killed six people at a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee. The imam said it was a cause of great concern that both faiths had seemingly come under attack. Jill Michel, pastor of the South Joplin Christian Church, said several area churches have offered their churches to members of the Islamic Society if they need a place to gather. She said she and other faith leaders from the community had been at a dinner Saturday at the center, and that the community would rally around the center's members. But, she said, the shooting at the Sikh temple in the Milwaukee area was also on her mind. "I can't imagine driving up to my church and having it burned to the ground," Michel said. "I worry about what any of this sort of thing says about humanity."
© The Associated Press
Gatwick mosque desecrated as 400 held Ramadan prayers inside (UK)
9/8/2012- Vandals desecrated a mosque with alcohol and obscene graffiti as around 400 people prayed inside. The front and back doors of the Gatwick Bangladeshi Islamic Community Association headquarters were vandalised in the early hours of Sunday morning as the community held its night-time prayers to mark the month of Ramadan. Worshippers emerged to find alcohol and eggs splattered over the back door, bottles and cans littering the street, a member's car parked nearby covered in flour, and an obscene word scrawled on the front door in permanent ink. Association member Moynal Islam said: "We had to get it cleaned up; it was upsetting for our members to have that on the doors. "Everyone is angry, disappointed and upset, but there is nothing we can do. We never expected this."
Detectives from Surrey Police are investigating the attack, which was not caught on nearby CCTV due to the angle of the centre's front door. Association members had to sand the door down to remove the graffiti and will now install four new CCTV cameras to protect the centre they took over last September after more than a decade searching for a permanent home. Horley Neighbourhood Sergeant Simon Ward, said: "This incident has deeply upset the Islamic community in Horley who have an excellent relationship with their neighbours and others in the town." Around 60 children attend daytime classes at the centre during Ramadan, and 400 worshippers attend the prayer meetings held twice during the night.
Shop owners and residents in the town are disappointed at the attack. Andy Parr, of The Party Pad in High Street, said: "I am shocked. I hope they wouldn't think everyone in Horley is like that because of one malicious person. There is no need for it and I don't think there is any reason or place for that in this town. I am outraged." Charles Medicott, of Motor Budget Centre in Yattendon Road, added: "There is always someone that does something like that." Despite the incident, the association is happy with its new place in the heart of the town. Mr Islam said: "A lot of people say after 12 years it is nice to be able to sit in your own home. The anger is because it was all going so nicely."
© This is Surrey Today
Racist beating leaves Chelmsford mother hurt and scared (UK)
9/8/2012- A woman was savagely beaten in an unprovoked racist attack as she walked to the shops. Hannah Bance, 26, who is of mixed race, was set upon by a mother and daughter, after being subject to a barrage of racist abuse and profanities. Her ordeal left her with a black eye, a broken rib, a bruised head, a quarter of her hair missing, a mild concussion, an inflamed retina and cuts to her feet. "I'm so angry and upset. It is so sad that people are so small-minded. It's disgusting," said Ms Bance, who has lived near the city centre for a year. The attack, in Clyde Crescent, on the Chignal Estate, at 7.30pm last Tuesday, has left the mother-of-one scared to return to her home and she is currently recovering at her mother's house, in Ilford. "You don't expect racism in Chelmsford, but people need to know that there are people like this is the world – I don't want this to happen to anyone else," said Ms Bance, whose mother is of Dominican heritage and whose father is Italian-English.
She had just set off from a house in Clyde Crescent with her friend Michelle O'Gorman, to buy baby wipes at the Trent Road Co-op for her two-year-old son, when a teenage girl stared at the pair from across the road. "I whispered to my friend 'what's her problem – why is she staring at me?' But she told me that she would talk to me when we got further away," said Ms Bance. The girl then hurled a barrage of racist abuse at the mother and told her to get "out of her area" and "go back home". Ms Bance made it a few yards before she was struck in the back of the head by the girl. After a flurry of punches another woman, thought to be the girl's mother, grabbed Ms Bance around the throat. Meanwhile, another person arrived on the scene and held back Ms O'Gorman, stopping her from protecting her friend.
The mother and daughter kicked and punched Ms Bance on the ground for what seemed like "five minutes" before she managed to escape. She then ran back to Ms O'Gorman's flat, and called her brother, Christopher, 28. He picked his sister up and dropped her home before telling her "to get out of the area". "I'm just really tired now, it hurts everywhere – I'm completely shattered," said Ms Bance. "I hope they get what they deserve, these people need to be named and shamed," she added. A 39-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm and a 15-year-old girl was arrested on suspicion of assault, causing actual bodily harm, a racially aggravated public order offence and being in possession of drugs.
© This is Total Essex
Few exclusions over school racism cases (UK)
4/8/2012- A fraction of racist incidents reported in Oxfordshire schools result in a child being excluded from lessons, new figures show. Teachers reported more than 2,000 racist incidents in Oxfordshire schools in the last four years. But less than 10 per cent of the 2,086 incidents reported to Oxfordshire County Council resulted in a permanent or fixed term exclusion. The figures, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, relate to the academic years from 2007/2008 up until 2010/2011 and involve more than 100 primary and secondary schools. Among those was King Alfred’s Academy, Wantage. Headteacher Simon Spiers said there were only two or three such incidents a year – but any racist incident, however minor, would always result in an exclusion. He said: “It’s an automatic exclusion; we don’t debate about it. “That sends the message out, but 99 per cent of the way we deal with it is educating the child afterwards as to why what they said caused offence and normally, once they realise that, they are very sorry about it.”
He said the length of exclusion would depend on the severity of the incident and would be discussed with governors. “Some times people say things they don’t really understand or realise they are causing offence – that is usually a one day exclusion. “But if people say things with more feeling, then the exclusion would be extended until we were happy that child actually understood what they had done and the seriousness of it. He said the school would also get the victim and the culprit to sit down together afterwards, where appropriate. Andrew Hamilton, headteacher at Eynsham’s Bartholomew School, said the school reported three to four incidents of a “very, very low level” each year. Between 10 to 15 per cent of pupils at the school now are from ethnic minority backgrounds. Mr Hamilton said: “If a child uses an unfortunate term or an expletive, or calls someone a name, it is reported as a racist incident. “If it arises we deal with it, and we have excluded students.” He said racism and equality was tackled under the schools personal, social and health education programme.
The vast majority of the incidents related to verbal abuse. There were also 73 over the four years which related to non- co-operation – including refusal to sit with or talk to people – and 86 of physical abuse. Oxfordshire County Council cabinet member for education Melinda Tilley said she did not believe there was a problem with racism in Oxfordshire schools. She said: “I don’t think small children really recognise any race or colour apart from perhaps redheads. “The only time I have ever witnessed it was in a primary school where I was a governor and the kids were ganging up on a little traveller child and it got sorted out very quickly. “Children will always have a go at something – I was known as speccy four eyes. “I think it is a very small number that involve genuine nastiness.”
© The Oxford Mail
Headlines 3 August, 2012
Pigs' heads hung outside mosque (France)
1/8/2012- Two pigs' heads have been found hanging at the entrance to a mosque in southern France, in the latest incident of what Muslim leaders say is rising Islamophobia in the country. The mayor of Montauban denounced what she described as intimidation of Muslims after the heads were discovered attached to two pillars at the entrance of the Salam Mosque with a huge pool of blood on the ground. Pigs are considered unclean by Muslims, who are forbidden from eating pork. Brigitte Bareges condemned "this odious and blasphemous act toward the Muslim community".
Police have launched an investigation. Muslim leaders said the vandalism was especially shocking because it happened during the holy month of Ramadan. "This was meant to dirty this place of prayer," said Abdallah Zekri, a regional Muslim leader based in Nimes. He said he has a "sense of disgust". It was the first such incident in Montauban, near the city of Toulouse. In 2009, pigs' trotters were hung on a mosque in Castres, also in southern France, and a Nazi swastika was painted on its walls along with racist and nationalist slogans. The discovery of the pigs' heads came a day after officials in the northern Paris suburb of Gennevilliers reinstated four summer camp counsellors who had been suspended for Ramadan fasting. After an outcry, the town decided that during the month of August it would not apply a clause in the labour contract requiring summer camp counsellors to be fully fed and hydrated, a statement said.
© The Press Association
Police out in force for Pride as hate crimes rise (Sweden)
Stockholm police are out in force this week to ensure that the Stockholm Pride festival passes off without incident at the same time as a recent report indicated that hate crimes are on the rise in Sweden.
31/7/012- The main event of Stockholm Pride week is the Pride Parade which is set to make its way through Stockholm's streets on Saturday. But along with the some 45,000 revellers anticipated in Stockholm to celebrate the LGBTQ festival, representatives of far right and anti-Muslim groups are expected to stage protests. Stockholm police have meanwhile confirmed that they are ready for all eventualities. "We will make sure that we have staff who can handle the different scenarios that can arise," said Lars Byström at Stockholm police to the TT news agency.
A recent report by Sweden's National Council on Crime Prevention (Brottsförebyggande rådet – Brå) based on figures from 2011 indicates that the incidence of hate crime is on the rise in Sweden. According to the report published at the end of June, the number of police reports of hate crimes increased by 7 percent in 2011 in comparison with 2010, to 5,490. Some 16 percent of the reports concerned "homophobic, biphobic or heterophobic" crimes. The vast majority, 72 percent, of reports concerned "xenophobic/racist" crimes. The biggest increase was seen within the category "anti-religious motive", by 18 percent to 12 percent of the total. Around one percent of the reports were classified as "transphobic".
Despite the rise in 2011, over the period from 2008-2011 homophobic hate crimes in fact decreased by 20 percent. Among the hate crime statistics, threats and harassment is the most commonly reported, followed by violent crimes and defamation. Violent crimes are however overrepresented with regards to homophobic hate crimes. Furthermore the most common forum for hate crime offences is in public spaces. Stockholm Pride begins on Tuesday and continues until continues until Saturday August 4th. Following the financial fiasco of 2011 when Stockholm Pride was left with substantial outstanding debts, the festival has been moved from Kungsträdgården back to its old venue of Tantolunden on Södermalm.
© The Local - Sweden
Disabled woman becomes victim of hate crime (UK)
1/8/2012- Police are appealing for information after a woman in a mobility scooter was assaulted and verbally abused. One Monday, 23 July, between 6.30pm and 7pm the woman from Chelmsford was riding her mobility scooter along Duke Street towards Chelmsford railway station. She was approached by a large group of both male and female youths, verbally abused, kicked and punched. The group then ran off towards the train station. They are believed to have been aged between 16 and 18-years-old. The incident is being treated as a disability hate crime. Hate crime officer PC Ann-Marie Pitcher said: "Hate crime is treated very seriously and this is a shocking incident. "It appears that the woman has been targeted because she uses a mobility scooter. We are appealing for witnesses who may have been in the area at the time of the incident and also to a man who stopped to assist the woman.”
© The Enquirer
28/7/2012- A strategy to combat hate crimes is being overhauled to prevent offences escalating amid a dramatic increase in ethnic minorities in one of Britain’s fastest growing cities. The decision has been taken to review the strategy due to the rapidly changing demographics in York in the hope of preventing mounting racial tensions in the city. The first document was launched by York Council in January 2008, but the city has witnessed a massive population boom in the intervening four years. The strategy has been heralded as a success as it has helped reduce the number of reports of hate crimes, although there are concerns that problems could intensify unless a more proactive approach is taken to forge closer links with ethnic minorities. There are also fears that many hate crimes are going unreported, with both police and council officials acknowledging a significant number of offences do not come to the attention of the authorities. While other groups including the lesbian, gay and bisexual community, the disabled and different religious faiths have all been victims of hate crimes in York, the greatest number of offences has been linked to race.
One of the key aims of the overhaul is to improve the quality of data captured by fostering relationships with community groups and ensuring victims know the process for reporting hate crimes. York Council’s cabinet member for leisure, culture and tourism, Coun Sonja Crisp, said: “There is always the chance that problems could increase, but the hope is that there will be more acceptance amid a growing black and ethnic minorities population in York. There will always be people who have strong views about race, and we have to take a strong stance to tackle any problems. “Things are changing at such a fast pace and we need to get it right. We have decided that we need to be proactive, and that is why we are looking at the strategy. “We have to build confidence among the black and ethnic communities that the council and other organisations are here to help and support them.”
Data from North Yorkshire Police has shown that there were 121 reported hate crimes in York during the last financial year, with 99 of the offences being racially motivated. The figure is significantly lower than the 164 hate crimes which were reported in 2008/09 when the strategy was first launched. But York has traditionally been seen as a white, middle-class city, and the sudden surge in ethnic minorities living in the city has led to fears the rapid demographic changes could lead to tensions between existing communities and the new arrivals. York is the second fastest growing location nationally and ranks behind only Milton Keynes. Its population has increased by nine per cent since 2001 and now stands at 202,000. The £750m expansion of York University has been attributed in part to the rising numbers of ethnic minorities, although the city has attracted many new residents as it remains one of the most desirable locations to live in the country. The city’s ethnic minority population has more than doubled in a decade, and a study in 2010 revealed there were 78 different first languages being spoken in the city.
The hate crime strategy involves a series of organisations working alongside York Council, including North Yorkshire Police, the Probation Service and the primary care trust, NHS North Yorkshire and York. A draft of the revised strategy will be discussed at a meeting of York Council’s equality advisory group on Monday. It is then due to go before the authority’s cabinet in the autumn.
© The Yorkshire Post
Man attacked by racist on train (UK)
30/7/2012- A good samaritan was punched in the face on a train after he tried to intervene when a man began shouting racist abuse at passengers. The 32-year-old, from Walthamstow, was on a Gospel Oak to Barking train when the incident happened just outside Blackhorse Road station at around 10.10pm on Friday. Officers say the attacker boarded at Upper Holloway and began shouting abuse at an Asian passenger who was travelling alone. He then continued his tirade against two other men sitting nearby. When the victim tried to persuade the man to stop he was punched several times in the face, suffering cuts and bruising. Investigating officer PC Greig Watkins said: "The man made extremely offensive comments to three men who were simply making their way home. Racial and violent abuse will not be tolerated on the rail network and we will always seek to trace, and put before the courts, anyone who engages in unacceptable behaviour such as this." The attacker is described as white, aged around 20 and is about 5ft 10ins tall. He had fair hair and was wearing trousers with paint marks on them.
© The Waltham Forest Guardian