ICARE Hate Crime News - Archive September 2012

Headlines 28 September, 2012

Headlines 21 September, 2012

Headlines 14 September, 2012

Headlines 7 September, 2012

Headlines 28 September, 2012

Vigilantes burn French Roma camp

A group of vigilantes have evicted a group of Roma (Gypsies) from a Marseille housing estate and burnt down their camp, French media report.

28/9/2012- There were no reports of violence when the 35 Roma people were forced out of the city's Creneaux estate. Furniture and other items were set on fire at the camp, which was erected on wasteland at the beginning of the week. Residents had reportedly complained to their mayor, blaming the Roma for burglaries in the area. Caroline Godard, a member of a Roma rights group called Rencontres Tsiganes, said she was "horrified" by news of the expulsion, Le Monde newspaper reports. It appears that residents went to the authorities on Thursday morning, before the vigilantes took the law into their own hands. Marseille has a recent history of tension between residents and Roma who have set up camps there, often just tents erected on patches of bare ground. The 15th arrondissement of the southern port city, where the Creneaux estate is located, is one of its poorest districts, with a large immigrant population.

'Fouling everything'

At 19:30 (17:30 GMT) on Thursday, a group of about 30 vigilantes ordered the Roma to leave. By the time police arrived in Creneaux, they found the Roma leaving and no evidence of any violence, a source close to the inquiry told Le Monde. Officers were only able to record the incident without reporting any crime, according to La Provence newspaper. However, images from the scene clearly show property being burnt. Mayor Samia Ghali told AFP news agency that angry residents of Marseille's 15th and 16th arrondissements had come to see her on Thursday morning, accusing the Roma of carrying out burglaries. Some of the residents accused the Roma of "fouling everything and entering buildings", she said. One resident, whose name was given only as Sabrina, told La Provence that people had appealed to the authorities only to be told they had to wait several months before they would step in.

"We were given to understand that we had to sort out the matter ourselves," she said. "So fine, that's what we did. In the afternoon we phoned each other and turned up at the camp. We all know each other here. It happened very fast." The new Socialist government has been breaking up illegal Roma camps and deporting their inhabitants back to Eastern Europe, resuming a controversial policy followed by the previous conservative government. An estimated 15,000 foreign Roma were living in illegal camps across France this summer. Coming mainly from Bulgaria and Romania, they have the right to enter France without a visa but, under special rules, they must have work or residency permits if they wish to stay longer than three months. From January 2014, or seven years after the two countries' accession to the EU, Romanians and Bulgarians will enjoy full freedom of movement anywhere in the EU.
BBC News

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Jewish cemetery in Czech Republic vandalized, 26 tombstones overturned

26/9/2012- Unknown vandals have tipped over and broken 26 headstones at a Jewish cemetery in the village of Prudice in the southwestern corner of the Czech Republic, police said Wednesday "The vandalism occurred during the last two months. The damage has been evaluated at 100,000 koruna ($5,140)," police spokesman Miroslav Doubek said. "Police experts on combating extremists are currently investigating motives," he added. Located on a forested hill, the cemetery in Prudice, dating from the early 18th century, covers an area of some 2,996 square meters (3,580 square yards) and contains around 150 tombstones. The last burial there took place in 1938, prior to World War II and the Holocaust. There are currently about 320 Jewish cemeteries in the Czech Republic, where the Jewish community numbers an estimated 3,500 people in the ex-communist EU nation of 10.5 million. Prior to the Holocaust the community stood at 120,000. An estimated 80,000 were deported or killed under Nazi German occupation.
The Associated Press

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Czech sentenced to 4 years in prison for arson attack on Roma, 3 get suspended sentences

26/9/2012- A Czech man has been convicted of a racially motivated arson attack on a Roma family last year and sentenced to four years in prison. Prague regional court spokeswoman Zuzana Steinerova says three other men who participated in the attack received suspended sentences. Vojtech Vyhnanek was convicted of hurling a lit torch in the house where the family of five lived early on July 11, 2011 in the town of Bychory, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) east of Prague. The court ruled Wednesday the four attacked the family because they were Roma. The inhabitants managed to extinguish the torch and nobody was injured. The 250,000 Roma who live in the Czech Republic endure high unemployment rates and are often targeted by far-right groups.
The Associated Press

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Man seriously hurt in Birmingham screwdriver hate attack (UK)

26/9/2012- A man was seriously injured when he was stabbed with a screwdriver in an attack being treated as a hate crime. The victim, 27, was targeted after leaving the Libra Sauna in Summer Hill Road, Birmingham, early on 23 September, police said. A man made abusive comments to him before attacking him and stabbing him in the face, neck and chest. Police believe the attack, between 03:50 and 04:15 BST, was racially or religiously motivated. Officers said the man was stabbed after the scuffle moved on to the main road's central reservation. A second man punched and kicked him as he lay in the road, before both attackers escaped in a dark Volkswagen Golf.

'Fight for life'
Police said the victim managed to get a taxi home before being taken to hospital by a friend. His condition has been described as comfortable. He suffered four stab wounds to his chest, two to his neck and two slash wounds to his face. Det Con Richard Stott said: "The victim is making a swift recovery but this was a very nasty attack and it could have easily ended very differently." "Someone must have seen the attack, which happened in the middle of a busy road," he said. "I would also appeal directly to the people responsible - you've put an innocent man in hospital and he's had to fight for his life - do the right thing and hand yourselves in." He appealed for witnesses to contact police.
BBC News

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Four people arrested; Police looking for murder weapon; Attack may have been racially motivated; Support from public has been ‘tremendous’

24/9/2012- Detectives investigating the murder of Mohammed Saleem Khan in Easingwold have arrested four people in connection with the incident. Officers arrested a 26-year-old local man on suspicion of murder in Easingwold, during the early hours of this morning (Monday 24 September 2012). Three other local people, a 20-year-old woman and two men aged 21 and 25 were also arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender. Easingwold murder may have been racially motivatedMr Khan, aged 36, from Luton, was discovered at around 2.30am on Sunday 23 September 2012 by an off-duty local police officer who was travelling along Long Street. It appeared that Mr Khan, who was a delivery driver working in the area, had been involved in a road traffic collision as his white Ford Transit van had sustained front end damage after hitting two bollards. The off-duty officer found Mr Khan in the driver’s seat of his van suffering from life threatening injuries. He was taken to York District Hospital where he underwent emergency treatment but sadly died later that day. Police closed the road as collision investigation work was carried out. However, during the course of Sunday police enquiries and a post mortem examination established that Mr Khan had died from a stab wound to the neck.

Detective Chief Inspector Heather Pearson, of North Yorkshire Police, said:
"This is a tragic incident for Mr Khan’s family and specially trained officers are supporting them at this extremely difficult time. At this stage, there are a number of lines of enquiry that are being progressed. One aspect of the investigation is that this may have been an unprovoked, racially motivated attack. However, I am keeping an open mind about the motive. I would like to thank members of the public in Easingwold for their tremendous support in helping us to progress this investigation and for coming forward with information that is assisting our enquiries."

"However, I would urge anyone who has information regarding the murder of Mr Khan or anyone who was in and around Long Street in Easingwold between 7pm on Saturday 22 September and 7am on Sunday 23 September 2012, to contact North Yorkshire Police or Crimestoppers as soon as possible. At this time a murder weapon has not been found and I am appealing to members of the public in Easingwold to report any discarded objects – be that weapons or clothing – to the police. I am also keen to establish the movements of Mr Khan. He was driving a white Europcar Ford Transit van and it is believed that he may have been in and around Easingwold for a period of hours prior to his murder. I am anxious to identify where he has been and who he has been with during this time frame."

Key appeal points
Police are keen for further witnesses to come forward, in particular:

Anyone who saw a white Europcar Ford Transit van in the area of Long Street, Easingwold, between 7pm on Saturday 22 September and 7am on Sunday 23 September 2012.
Anyone who has information regarding a motive for the attack, information about the murder or those responsible.
Anyone who saw the victim or his van in the hours leading up to the murder.
Anyone who finds the murder weapon or knows where it is.
The Harrogate News

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Police were called out early on Friday morning after loud bangs were heard near the Jewish community centre in Malmö, southern Sweden.

28/9/2012- “There as been an explosion. Something has detonated – we are certain of that,” said police officer Erik Liljenström to local paper Sydsvenskan early on Friday morning. The police received a call shortly after 1am. Witnesses said they had heard loud blasts near the centre some 15 minutes earlier. When police arrived at the scene they soon established that there had been some sort of explosion and that someone had tried to smash in the door. There were loose paving stones lying among shards of shattered glass in front of the entrance, according to the paper. While damage had been done to the front door, the building had not been damaged in any other way as far as the police could see, but according to witness statements the blasts were heard a few blocks away.

"I'm shocked that it's happened now; that it's happened at all. Jewish institutions are under constant threat, but we haven't noticed anything out of the ordinary recently," Fred Kahn, head of the Jewish community in Malmö, told the TT news agency on Friday morning. Shortly after 4am, police announced that they had identified one of the vehicles and brought two men in for questioning. Both of the suspects are 18-year-old, according to Malmö police, who nevertheless believe that more people were involved in carrying out the attack.

No one was reportedly injured in the attack. According to the police, the men are under suspicion of destruction constituting a public danger. "Now their going to be interrogated, then we'll see. They weren't caught in the act," police spokesperson Anders Lindell told the TT news agency. On Friday, Malmö's Social Democratic mayor Ilmar Reepalu, who has previously been criticized for making controversial statements about the city's Jewish community, condemned the attacks. "It's a terrible incident which damages different groups in Malmö as well as Malmö's brand," he told the TT news agency. "It's terrible and shocking when things like this happen." Reepalu added that he hoped police would be able to solve the crime quickly and that it doesn't lead to heightened tensions in the city. "This is a criminal act," he said.

Earlier this year, Reepalu came under fire for comments in which he claimed that the far right Sweden Democrats had "infiltrated" the Jewish community in Malmö. The comments were followed by a visit to Malmö from US President Barack Obama's Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat anti-Semitism, Hannah Rosenthal, who said there is "no excuse" for using anti-Semitic language. In 2009, comments by Reepalu prompted the the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in the United States warned Jews from traveling to Sweden's third largest city.
The Local - Sweden

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Swedish Killer Deemed Sane

26/9/2012- A Swedish man found guilty of a killing spree targeting mainly immigrants in the southern city of Malmo isn't criminally insane, a district court said Wednesday. The assessment, by Sweden's National Board of Forensic Medicine, means 40-year-old Peter Mangs, who has been found guilty of two murders and four attempted murders, will be sentenced to prison. Mr. Mangs is believed to have been driven by xenophobia to commit the crimes, and he has been mentioned as a "resistance figure" by Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian far-right extremist who killed 77 people in bombing and shooting attacks in Oslo and on Utoya island last summer. However, unlike Mr. Breivik, Mr. Mangs has denied the shootings, which started with the murder of a 66-year-old man of Iranian descent, who was found dead in his home in 2003.

Mr. Mangs wasn't arrested until November 2010, amid a massive police effort unleashed in Malmo following a string of shootings targeting immigrants in 2009 and 2010. He was charged with three murders and 12 attempted murders, but the court found the evidence to be sufficient only in two cases of murder, four attempted murders and a number of lesser crimes. A preliminary psychiatric evaluation found that Mr. Mangs may have been suffering from a mental disorder, but after an eight-week assessment, a separate forensic psychiatric report concluded that he wasn't afflicted by a disorder at the time of his crimes. Neither does he have a serious mental disorder at present, the psychiatrist said.

The district court in Malmo is expected to hand down a life sentence against Mr. Mangs in October. Convicted felons can apply to have their life sentence converted into a fixed term after serving 10 years, an option most convicts are eventually granted. 74-year old Leif Axmyr, who was convicted of two murders in 1982, has currently been imprisoned for 30 years, the longest period any current convict in Sweden has served a life-sentence without having it converted into a fixed term.
The Wall Street Journal.

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Senior German Jewish figure threatened in Berlin

A city police spokesman said 'mutual threats' during the Wednesday incident were being investigated, but declined to give more details. 

27/9/2012- One of Germany's leading Jewish figures said Thursday he had been threatened on a Berlin street because of his religion. "The culprit evidently felt provoked by the sight of a Jewish prayer book," said Stephan Kramer, general secretary of the Central Council of Jews. A city police spokesman said "mutual threats" during the Wednesday incident were being investigated, but declined to give more details. The President of the Central Council, Dieter Graumann, told dpa that "this had the appearance of being an act of racism.” However, Kramer rejected claims that he pulled a gun during the incident - saying he merely told the man threatening him that he had a gun and opened his jacket front so the man could see the pistol. This was intended to prevent the situation escalating, Kramer told dpa. Wednesday, the day of the incident, was Yom Kippur, the most important day of the Jewish religious year. An incident in late August when a rabbi was assaulted on a Berlin street led to international headlines.
DPA

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Neo-Nazi pepper sprays Polish WWII survivors (Germany)

A neo-Nazi attacked former Third Reich forced labourers and other guests at the inauguration of a memorial near Hamburg on Friday, covering them with pepper spray before being overpowered and arrested.

23/9/2012- Seven of the Polish delegates, which included elderly survivors of Hitler’s forced labour policies in Poland, needed hospital treatment after being hit with the pepper spray. Police arrested a 42-year-old man identified only as Frank A., after the attack at a factory in Bergedorf near Hamburg where forced labourers were used during World War II. Around 200 guests and families had gathered for the dedication of a memorial, when the Bergedorfer Zeitung newspaper said the well-built man wearing a leather jacket rushed at the people seated in the first row. He was easily overwhelmed by police and arrested. Police said that the man, known to them as a far-right activist, was also suffering from mental health problems. "After he had been arrested he appeared very calm," one officer involved in the arrest told the newspaper.

The injured forced labourers in Germany during the war and their relatives, were at the end of a week-long visit, with the unveiling of the memorial intended as a highlight. "These people should have experienced a belated recognition of their terrible personal story in Germany," said Angelika Schmidt, a local pastor who had been addressing the crowd when Frank A. attacked. "Instead of that, they were once again mistreated." The Hamburger Morgenpost newspaper reported that the delegation returned home on Saturday. Project leader of the visit programme David Rojkowski said their overall experience of the week had been a good one. "This terrible incident on the last day cannot overshadow all the good experiences," he said. Frank A. was recently fined €3,000 for sending extremist literature to imprisoned neo-Nazi Horst Mahler, the newspaper said.
The Local - Germany

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German Youth Beaten by Sofia Fascist Followers (Bulgaria)

23/9/2012- A group of four German young people have become the victims of a brutal attack in Bulgaria's capital Sofia, attributed to political differences. The information was reported by the Civic Initiative HoRa (People against Racism, the abbreviation also means people in Bulgarian). In a letter to the media they alarm that 2 young German women and 2 young German men have been attacked after a concert in downtown Sofia by a group of skinheads, reportedly because the Germans had been wearing stripes, reading "anti-fascism." The Bulgarian "Nazi fans" have been breaking bottles, shouting and then have attacked the Germans. The men were pushed to the ground and kicked while the girls were slapped on the face and suffered split lips. Eyewitnesses have called the 112 emergency hotline, but when the police and the ambulance arrived, the assailants had been gone.
Novinite

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2 Pakistanis stabbed near Greek anti-racist demo: police

23/9/2012- Two Pakistani immigrants were in hospital after being stabbed on the margins of an anti-racism rally on the outskirts of Athens, police said. One of them was said to be in a serious condition. The attack, in the western suburb of Metamorfossi, came yesterday after the end of the demonstration, in which about 300 people were protesting racist violence. A motorbike and a car stopped in front of the men and a group of people got out and attacked them with knives. A third Pakistani immigrant with them at the time escaped unhurt, said police. Since the neo-Nazi group Golden Dawn won seats in parliament in the June election, there has been a sharp rise in racist attacks in the immigrant quarters of Athens.

In recent weeks the once-fringe group has organized Greeks-only food handouts and blood donations, and has twice ousted migrant peddlers from street markets to the delight of local operators and the outrage of authorities. The group's ratings have risen to over 10 per cent in recent opinion polls. Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias earlier this month stripped the group's 18 lawmakers of their police guards after one of them was allegedly implicated in the smashing of immigrant trading stalls. But some observers say that the group's members have benefited from judicial inertia and a suspiciously soft-handed response by police, who usually fail to arrest Golden Dawn members even when under direct attack by them. Last month, a young Iraqi was stabbed to death by five bikers. Protests againt the surge in racist violence also took place in the port of Piraeus, next to Athens, and in another Athens suburb.
The Indian Express

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Headlines 21 September, 2012

Assault on middle aged man in Prescot treated as disability hate crime (UK)

19/9/2012- Police have released CCTV footage of a gang of youths following an attack on a middle aged man, who was punched to the floor. In the early hours of Sunday, July 15, a group of people were standing outside Uno’s Pizza on High Street in Prescot. A 56-year-old man, who is deaf and has a speech impediment, accidently bumped into one of the youths as he attempted to enter the takeaway. It led to an altercation between the two and he was knocked to the ground. He was taken into the takeaway and a number of people who were inside started to argue with the gang. It led to a large scale disturbance on the street, during which, some individuals attempted to cause criminal damage to the shop. Several people fled the scene before police arrived. Two males, aged 15 and 16 have been arrested for affray in connection with the incident and a number of other people have been identified and questioned by police.

The 56-year-old wasn’t seriously injured, but was left shaken. It is being investigated by the police’s Sigma Unit as a disability hate crime. Detective Constable Peter Dibbert said: "This was a violent and unprovoked attack on a man who was just going order some food and we urge anyone who saw what happened to get in touch with us. "At the time of the incident the incident there was a number of people in the vicinity and some of them got involved in the disturbance that occurred after the man had been assaulted. "Although we have identified a number of people who were in the area at the time we are still keen to speak to the people pictured. "We believe these youths could have information about this incident that could be vital to our investigation and I would urge them or anyone who recognises them to get in touch with us. "We are treating this extremely seriously and urge people to help us bring the person responsible to justice." The two people arrested were questioned by detectives and have been bailed pending further enquiries.
St Helens Star

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Jewish supermarket attacked in Paris suburb (France)

A Jewish supermarket in a gritty northern Paris suburb was firebombed Wednesday and one person slightly hurt, officials said.

19/9/2012- "There was an attack inside a kosher supermarket in Sarcelles at lunchtime by two persons dressed in black who lobbed a device," said Richard Prasquier, who heads France's main Jewish council CRIF. There was no confirmation if the attack was linked to the film "Innocence of Muslims" which has triggered global protests since its release on the Internet or the publication of naked cartoons of Prophet Mohammed by a satirical French weekly on Wednesday. "A Molotov cocktail was thrown at the shop," said Moshe Cohen-Sabban, a local Jewish community leader. "Many people were going there to stock up for Yom Kippur which falls next Wednesday," he said. Cohen-Sabban said there were no "special" religious tensions in Sarcelles, a working-class area with a population of about 60,000 and large numbers of Muslims and Jews.
Expatica News

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Man repeatedly hit with a bottle during racist attack (UK)

A man has been seriously injured in what police are treating as a racist attack in Edinburgh city centre.

19/9/2012- The 50-year-old suffered a serious facial injury after being grabbed by a man and repeatedly hit over the head with a bottle in Dumbiedykes Road. The man then ran off leaving the victim to be helped in the street by a member of the public. He contacted police and was taken to hospital where he remains for treatment to his injuries. Lothian and Borders Police has appealed for anyone with information to come forward. Det Con Fiona McEwan said: "This appears to be a random and entirely unprovoked assault and we are currently treating the attack as racially motivated. "We are appealing for anyone who was in the area around midnight this morning and remembers seeing anything suspicious to come forward. "In particular, we would like to trace the man who came to his aid following the assault." The attacker is described as being about 5ft 5in, thin and was wearing a hooded jacket.
BBC News

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Crypt desecrated in Brussels Jewish cemetery (Belgium)

An ancient vault in the Jewish cemetery of Uccle, a district of Brussels, was desecrated , the Belgian media reported.

20/9/2012- The police confirmed that four coffins had been removed from their graves and bones had been thrown on the grounds. A man made the gruesome discovery on September 13, some days prior to the holiday of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. He had paid visit to the Dieweg cemetery in Uccle, in the hopes of finding one of his ancestors there. Instead, he fell on the smashed grave stones, and coffins removed from their plots. Some bones had even been scattered around the grounds. The vault in question contained 19th and 20th century gravestones, making it difficult to identify the skeletons, given the age of the graves. The perpetrators have still not been identified. No one has entered the vault since the last routine security check dating back to October 2011.

Dieweg is home to one of the most ancient Jewish cemeteries in Brussels. No graffiti or engraving was discovered in the surrounding area to the vault. According to Eric Sax, a registry office official in Uccle, “it is not been treated as an anti-Semitic act”. “The perpetrators were surely looking for jewellery. In any case, there was no trace, no mark, and no racist etching. I think therefore that it was purely and simply theft,” he said. “We have made contact with the Jewish Consistory and we have shown them the entrance to the cemetery. We then asked them to restore the entrance and to secure it. Unfortunately, their response was that they don’t for the moments have the means with which to do the work.”
EJP

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Polish authorities shrug off anti-Semitism

Polish authorities have ignored or dismissed a worrying number of anti-Semitic incidents in recent months; Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski stands largely alone in combating them.

21/9/2012- Polish hooligans recently felt the need to point out the obvious, scrawling "It's Poland here, not Israel," on tombstones in one of Bialystock's old Jewish graveyards. The hooligans were likely rejecting the right of Jews who died in Poland – many of them in the Holocaust – to be buried there. But when they were caught and brought to trial, the judges reportedly let them off without punishment, noting that they had simply made a factual statement: Bialystock is indeed located in Poland rather than Israel. The local newspaper that covered the story ridiculed the prosecution and court for failing to confront a clear case of anti-Semitism. But Poland has a history of shrugging off anti-Semitic incidents. There have been dozens of cases where complaints were not investigated by police, purportedly because the perpetrators were not identified or the damage was minor.

Fans at a soccer game in Oswiecim, formerly Auschwitz, who shouted "We'll do what Hitler did to the Jews" at the opposing team, were later exonerated on the grounds that the team had no Jewish players. Vandals who spray painted tombstones in Warsaw's old Jewish cemetery with swastikas and Stars of David on gallows went similarly unpunished. So far this year, there have been seven recorded cases of cemetery desecration in Poland. The graffiti has included phrases like, “Jews to the gas,” “Free Palestine, jihad,” “Screw the chosen people” and simply “You're not wanted here.”

In late August, the road between Warsaw and a new airport 30 kilometers away featured similar slogans. Because many foreigners use the road, the Polish Foreign Ministry worked with the government of the adjacent village to cover the graffiti in white paint. But it reappeared two days later. Local police took no action, saying they didn’t have the manpower to guard the entire area at all times. And this month phrases, like "White power," "Poland for Poles" and "Jews out!" showed up on the walls of the old synagogue in the village of Orali.

More sophisticated anti-Semitic activity takes place on the Internet, where anonymous authors post articles on the supposed subversive activities of Polish Jews. Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, who is married to Pulitzer Prize-winning American Jewish journalist Anne Appelbaum, stands largely alone in combating anti-Semitism in Poland. And even he has had little success. The only person he has punished is a doctor from the town of Zezhov, who was dismissed from her job for refusing to treat Jewish patients. On the national stage, the spotlight haas recently been on an English-language book called, "Questions of Hell." The book is a collection of articles by Polish historians evaluating the behavior of their fellow citizens during the Holocaust. In some cases, non-Jews helped Jews, while in others they robbed them or turned them over to the Gestapo, Nazi secret police.

The book was well-received internationally and Polish embassies around the world published glowing reviews of it on their websites. But Polish nationalists responded angrily, demonstrating outside the Foreign Ministry and launching attacks in the right-wing press. They compared the book's positive press to the announcement posters that dot the walls of ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods, saying it "blackens the national name."
Haaretz

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Belgrade Gay Parade to Go Despite Threats (Serbia)

Organisers of Serbia's annually embattled Gay Pride say that everything is set for the start of the event despite the usual threats of violence

19/9/2012- Posters containing the threatening inscription "See you in October", and depicting thugs beating up a guy with a crossed-out LGBT flag, have appeared in Belgrade while graffiti reading "Stop Gay Pride" has also appeared in downtown Belgrade. The ominous, anonymous warnings come less than two weeks ahead of this year’s parade, which will be held as part of a week's celebrations taking place under the slogan "Love, Faith, Hope" from September 30 to October 7. Last year’s parade in Serbia was scrapped at the last moment on security grounds. The 2010 Pride took place but at a high cost. Several thousand youths, including football fans and members of ultra-rightist organizations, attacked police officers who had been deployed to protect the marchers. Organisers of this year's event, however, say that everything is ready for the march on October 6 - and if it is also banned, other events will go ahead instead.

"Belgrade Pride is ready and as far as we're concerned, we could start tomorrow," Goran Miletic, a member of the organising committee, said. Miletic said that almost all the expected guests from abroad had confirmed their participation. Meanwhile, Serbia's President, Tomislav Nikolic, will receive the Swedish Minister for the EU, the European Parliament Rapporteur for the Balkans, and a group of European parliamentarians just one day before the planned parade. While European officials signal their public commitment to the event, Serbian officials are reluctant to send any similar signs of support. On Saturday, Prime Minister Ivica Dacic maintained that the Pride parade was an issue of security rather than a question of human rights. Dacic also noted that some EU states also do not have gay parades, without the issue affecting their membership of the EU. Miletic reacted to Dacic's statement by describing the planned march as a human right, as guaranteed by the constitution, "and one of those rights is freedom of assembly".
Balkan Insight

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Edmonton man dodges jail after white-supremacist rampage (Canada)

19/9/2012- An Edmonton man who was part of a group of white supremacists who hurled racist slurs, sang Nazi songs and assaulted people along Whyte Avenue has avoided jail. Jason Anderson, 34, was handed a two-year conditional sentence to be served in the community, followed by three years of probation, after pleading guilty Tuesday in Provincial Court to criminal harassment, causing a disturbance and two counts of assault. “This kind of behaviour is called despicable,” said Judge Elizabeth Johnson, adding that “there is nothing honourable” about Blood and Honour, the international white supremacist group that was involved in the racially motivated February 2011 incident.

Crown prosecutor Ashley Finlayson told court that Anderson and three other men had been near the downtown Churchill LRT station on the evening of Feb. 12, 2011, handing out pamphlets about Blood and Honour. The group then made their way to Whyte Avenue and went to the Strathcona Hotel bar to drink beer. While there, the drunk men began “singing white supremacist songs,” performing Nazi salutes, yelling “Heil Hitler” and hassling anyone who was non-white or appearing to be homosexual or lesbian. They also hurled racist abuse at a dark-skinned woman outside the bar, causing her to be “quite terrified,” said Finlayson.

The men then went down 103 Street towards the New City bar where they began verbally abusing a brown-skinned man having a cigarette. He was then punched several times, knocked to the ground and kicked. The thugs ended up by the Funky Town lounge, where they again racially berated the woman they had verbally abused earlier. Another woman and a bouncer told them to leave and the woman was punched in the head by Anderson, who was “swinging wildly” during the melee. Police arrived shortly after and Anderson was arrested a couple of weeks later, said Finlayson.

The prosecutor told court the incident involved “fairly egregious” comments which were motivated by “racial hatred” and which “certainly should not be tolerated.” Defence lawyer Shawn King said Anderson was highly intoxicated that night as a result of being not much of a drinker and can’t remember all of the details. He also said he was emotionally disturbed at the time due to his mother being slain in a 2009 homicide. Anderson apologized in court and said he was embarrassed by having to explain things to family and friends. “I deeply regret everything that happened and I am truly ashamed,” he said.

As part of his conditional sentence, Anderson must abide by a nightly curfew and perform 120 hours of community service. He must also refrain from boozing and is forbidden from associating with Blood and Honour members. As well, he must take counselling for anger management and substance abuse and stay away from Whyte Avenue. The judge also prohibited Anderson from possessing weapons for five years, ordered him to submit a DNA sample for the national DNA databank in Ottawa and slapped him with a $350 victim fine surcharge.

Co-accused Keith Decu, 32, was placed on two years probation and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service after pleading guilty to a reduced charge of causing a disturbance in November. On Sept. 30, 2011, David Goodman, 19, was sentenced to 15 months in jail, followed by 12 months of probation, and James Brooks, 26, was sentenced to 13 months in jail after pleading guilty to their roles in the hate crime.
The Edmonton Sun

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Anti-Semitic posters target Katz, Aspers, Shindlemans (Canada)

15/9/2012- Police are investigating after anti-Semitic posters targeting Mayor Sam Katz and other prominent Jewish Winnipeggers were plastered across downtown on Friday night, angering the B’Nai Brith organization and senior Manitoba MP Vic Toews. The unsigned posters, which were taped to light standards just prior to the Rosh Hashanah Jewish holiday, allege that Katz and certain members of Winnipeg’s business community are involved in questionable business transactions. “To me, it’s a pretty straightforward and blatant hate crime,” David Matas, a lawyer for B’Nai Brith Canada, said of the posters bearing the headline “$Hitler’s List” and also naming siblings David, Leonard and Gail Asper, city CAO Phil Sheegl and developer Sandy Shindleman, among others. “It’s awful to see this happen,” Matas told the Winnipeg Sun from Hamilton, Ont. The mayor, whose name is at the top of the poster’s list, said by e-mail that he’s “extremely saddened and disheartened that an individual, or group of individuals, is posting such material.” Katz added that he has “faith that the people of Winnipeg will not support such malice.”

The posters were reported to city cops on Friday about 9:30 p.m. after they were spotted along Broadway and “all sort of in the same downtown area,” said Patrol Sgt. Wally Antoniuk. Though Matas suggested that the posters had been removed by Saturday afternoon, Antoniuk said it’s possible that some remained. “Obviously,” Antoniuk said of the posters, “no one is taking any credit for it.” Toews, federal minister of public safety, says he’s “shocked and disgusted” at the posters, particularly because of their timing near important dates for Jewish people. “It is extremely disheartening to see this type of conduct take place in Canada, especially on the eve of Rosh Hashanah and the Jewish New Year,” Toews, Conservative MP for the Provencher riding, said in a statement on his website. The holiday begins Sunday night. “Canadians will not tolerate anti-Semitism of any kind,” Toews added, “and today I continue to stand with the Jewish community in Winnipeg.”

Antisemitism rose in 2010: B'NAI BRITH
Sixty anti-Semitic incidents were reported in Manitoba in 2010, according to B’nai Brith’s annual audit of hate crimes. That’s up 62.2% from 2009, when 37 were reported, and 34 in 2008. In 2010, Manitoba incidents represented 4.7% of anti-Semitic incidents in Canada, up from to 2.9% in 2009. Most took place in Winnipeg. Harassment was up, but reports of vandalism rose more dramatically — by 262.5%. According to the survey, “residences and public property were targeted by repeated incidents of ugly graffiti, including slurs and symbols of hate against the Jewish community.” In November 2010, a junior-high student told another student he wished the victim’s parents had died in the Nazi concentration camps. In November 2011, a high school student lit a Jewish girl’s hair on fire with a lighter after going on an anti-Semitic rant.

Toews' Statement:
I was shocked and disgusted to learn of the anti-semitic posters that were put up throughout downtown Winnipeg late last night. It is extremely disheartening to see this type of conduct take place in Canada, especially on the eve of Rosh Hashanah and the Jewish New Year. Canadians will not tolerate anti-semitism of any kind and today I continue to stand with the Jewish community in Winnipeg. For anyone with information on those responsible, please contact the Winnipeg Police Service.
Sixty anti-Semitic incidents were reported in Manitoba in 2010, according to B’nai Brith’s annual audit of hate crimes.
The Winnipeg Sun

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One racist incident reported each week (Ireland)

17/9/2012- One serious racist incident is reported every week, new figures show. The racist incidents include physical violence, verbal attacks, and harassment through the internet and the post. The Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI) received 27 serious incidents of racism over the first seven months of this year, but believes many more go unreported. A sinister development since the start of the year has been the emergence of the use of symbols and language associated with right-wing extremism. The ICI said it had become aware of the posting of an Irish flag with a swastika, the defacing of a playground with graffiti related to the Ku Klux Klan, and a letter posted on an individual’s car with references to white supremacists. ICI chief executive Denise Charlton said it was clear racism was a real problem across Ireland. "Much of the incidents reported to us take place in public, with those on the street and public transport accounting for almost a third of cases," she said.

"In more serious incidents people have not only been verbally abused but also have been victims of violence with random unprovoked attacks, incidents with neighbours, and assaults at work all reported." Ms Charlton said the ICI’s outreach work and use of focus groups had shown that many incidents of racism went unreported. "A variety of reasons are given including lack of information on where to get help, people not wanting to be seen to rock the boat as well as feeling that nothing would be done. "We must overcome these obstacles and end the official complacency which is allowing the extremists to spread their message of hate. There can be no acceptable level of racism," she said. The ICI is working with public transport providers, Dublin City Council, and local communities to combat racism. Later this month it will hold a conference with Dublin City Council focusing on getting young people involved in combating racism.

The ICI’s Racial Incident and Referral Service offers people an opportunity to report incidents of racism or discrimination. Incidents can be reported confidentially, anonymously, and by the person experiencing it or someone who has witnessed it. The ICI says outreach and close co-operation with groups and organisations is more effective in building trust with people as they are more willing to discuss the incidents they have experienced or witnessed. The ICI is an independent human rights organisation that advocates for the rights of migrants.

The Irish Examiner

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Headlines 14 September, 2012

French court hands suspended sentence to man who attacked Jew on train

14/9/2012- A French court handed a six-month suspended jail sentence to a young man who attacked a Jewish train passenger. Last week's ruling by the criminal court of Lyon was the result of a complaint filed by the SPCJ, the French Jewish community’s watchdog against anti-Semitism. The assailant, who was not identified by name in French media, hit a man wearing a kipah on Jan. 26, 2011 aboard a train traveling from Paris to Lyon. “You Jews with your skullcaps, you think you run the world,” he said, adding profanities. The assailant then followed the Jewish man to the train bar, making derogatory remarks about him, his mother, father “and your whole race.” He then hit the man in the chest. The SPCJ said it welcomed the sentence. In July, two men of North African descent exchanged blows with a Jewish teenager aboard a train from Toulouse to Lyon. The teenager said one of the men, Yassine Salhi, had made anti-Semitic remarks. French prosecutors are investigating. SPCJ documented more than 90 anti-Semitic incidents in the 10 days that followed the March 19 shooting in Toulouse, in which a Muslim extremist killed three children and a rabbi at a Jewish school.
JTA News

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French Mosque Smeared With Excrement in Limoges

12/9/2012- The outside of a mosque in a French city has been smeared with excrement, the latest in a series of vandalism incidents involving Muslim places of worship in the country. The Interior Ministry said Wednesday that police are seeking the culprit or culprits, adding in a statement that "to attack a religion is to attack the (French) Republic." The Limoges mosque in central France was vandalized in July with Nazi symbols scrawled on its doors. In the latest incident, excrement was smeared on the doors and elsewhere before dawn. In August, two pigs heads were hung on two pillars outside a mosque in the southwestern town of Montauban. The French Council of the Muslim Faith asked the faithful for calm vigilance in the face of what it says is rising Islamophobia.
The Associated Press

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EU gives added protection to gay hate crime victims

European Parliament passes directive ensuring protection for victims of crime based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or 'gender expression' 

12/9/2012- Gay hate crime victims are to be given more protection under EU law. Today (12 September) the European Parliament agreed on a directive which ensures victims assistance and protection on the basis of gender, gender identity or expression and sexual orientation. It is the first time EU law mentions gender expression, which refers to the way someone expresses their gender, including dress, speech and mannerisms. Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Antonyia Parvanova, who co-authored the report, said: 'I am proud that the parliament agreed certain victims of crime, such as women, children, or LGBTI people, deserve particular attention and should be entitled to specific protection measures, based on their needs. 'The parliament has been united behind this suggestion and stood firm in convincing member states in the Council of the European Union to accept it too.' Gay MEP Michael Cashman, co-president of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights, added that the European Union has sent a 'strong signal' that victims of hate crime deserve 'special attention'. He said: 'All these victims, as well as their friends and families, know how devastating hate crime can be. It is Europe’s responsibility to protect them.' EU member states have three years to adopt the laws on a national level.
Gay Star News

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Hate crime victims finally recognised with European Parliament vote (press release ENAR)

12/9/2012- The European Parliament voted today to protect and grant basic rights to the estimated 75 million victims of crime across the EU without discrimination. The European Network Against Racism (ENAR) especially welcomes the fact that the specific needs of hate crime victims will be taken into account and that victims will be protected regardless of their residence status. “The European Parliament’s vote is a great step forward in protecting victims of hate crime in the most appropriate way, and in making sure that irregular migrants - the most vulnerable - are not abandoned to their fate if they fall victim to a crime”, said Chibo Onyeji, ENAR Chair. “We now hope the EU Council of Member States will follow the Parliament’s example”. Ethnic and religious minority groups face racist crime and violence on a daily basis across Europe but this reality is at worst denied, and at best underestimated.

In addition, evidence shows that hate crimes cause greater harm than ordinary crimes because of the ripple effect it has on entire communities. The 2010-11 British Crime Survey indicates that higher proportions of victims of hate crime reported feelings of shock, fear, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, loss of confidence, difficulty sleeping, compared with victims of similar non-hate crimes. The report adopted by the European Parliament also calls on EU Member States to systematically collect data on reported crimes and on the victims of crime. This is crucial to assess whether hate crime is on the rise and for the EU to take informed action to tackle the problems identified. “This legislation, once adopted, will send a strong signal to perpetrators of hate crimes that they will not be let off the hook. It is therefore crucial that Member States transpose it into their national laws as soon as possible”, added Onyeji.

More information on racist violence can be found in ENAR’s report ‘Racist violence in Europe’
EUropean Network Against Racism

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Assault on Montenegrin Gay Activists Condemned

Civil society activists and officials have condemned the beating up of three men - two of whom took part in making a video promoting gay rights in Montenegro

11/9/2012- Danilo Marunovic, director of the video, Todor Vujosevic, an actor in it, and their friend, Mirko Boskovic, a journalist at Montenegro's public broadcaster, RTCG, were attacked on the night between Sunday and Monday, allegedly by fans of a sports club. The video was produced in November 2011 as part of a project of two local NGOs, the Centre for Civic Education, CGO, and LGBT Forum Progress. The video advocated increased tolerance for the LGBT community in Montenegro, showing two men kissing each other while watching a football match. One was Vujosevic. The three were reportedly attacked by fans of the Podgorica sports club Buducnost in the centre of capital and received minor injuries. CGO and the LGBT Forum Progress condemned the attack, saying that it was clear that the motive for the act was hatred, and the three men's only crime was contributing to a culture of tolerance. LGBT Progress filed a criminal complaint against four unnamed fans for the attack and against one alleged accomplice, whose identity is also known. Vijesti Television stated that one of its sport journalists, Dijana Drobnjak, was in the company of the attackers. She has been suspended from her duties pending an investigation. The NGO Human Rights Action said that the fan club, called Varvari, should be banned if it was proven that it contributed to the incident. Officials also condemned the attack. "We strongly condemn this act of vandalism … and expect the authorities to resolve the case quickly and efficiently and punish the perpetrators in line with the law,” Jovan Kojicic, the government's chief advisor on human rights and anti-discrimination, said.
Balkan Insight

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Hate crime in England and Wales: where is it worst?

Nearly 44,000 hate crimes took place in England and Wales in 2011-12 - find out where they were and how the data breaks down
Interactive map
Download the data
Data journalism and data visualisations from the Guardian

13/9/2012- How tolerant is England and Wales? New figures from the Home Office show that hate crime is rare - equivalent to 11 out of every 1,000 crimes in 2011-12. That's probably no compensation if you've been a victim, however, and the data gives a detailed breakdown of hate crimes across the two countries for the latest financial year. Its the first time the Home Office has published this data - it was previously collected by the Association of Chief Police Officers, (ACPO) which has also published data today - and that data covers Northern Ireland too.

The data is not comparable, however - almost peversely the ACPO figures cover the calendar year and the Home Office data the financial one. So, we've gone with the Home Office as it's the most recent. But this is what it shows: there were 43,748 hate crimes recorded by the police in 2011-12.

This is how they break down:
• 35,816 (82%) were race hate crimes
• 1,621 (4%) were religion hate crimes
• 4,252 (10%) were sexual orientation hate crimes
• 1,744 (4%) were disability hate crimes
• 315 (1%) were transgender hate crimes

The data shows that the majority of all hate crimes (83%) involved violence - and the worst proportion for that was race hate crimes - 85% were violent offences.
The next most common was criminal damage - but theft, burglary and sexual offences were involved too. The data also gives a regional breakdown - and it shows London, with the biggest population - dominating. We've taken it a step further and mashed the data up with police for numbers, population and crime figures for each area. This changes the picture a bit. The highest rate - excluding British transport Police's astonishing 29 per 1,000 reported crimes) then becomes Manchester, with 17.1 per 1,000 crimes, compared to London's 12.3. And if you look at each type of crime as percentage of the total, it also shows a lot of variation around the country. 

In East Anglia, for instance, over 20% of all hate crimes were against disabled people. And attacks against people because of their sexual orientation were much higher as proportion of all hate crimes in South Wales and the south coast of England. How does it compare to the ACPO data? ACPO records 44,519 hate crimes across England, Wales and Northern Ireland for 2011, down from 48,127 in 2010. That also includes anti-semitic hate crimes, and it records 438 across England, Wales and Northern Ireland for 2011, down from 488 in 2010 - predominantly in London and Manchester.

And what is a hate crime? The official definitions are:
• any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a person's race or perceived race (any racial group or ethnic background including countries within the United Kingdom and Gypsy & Traveller groups); or
• any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a person's religion or perceived religion (any religious group including those who have no faith); or
• any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a person's sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation; or
• any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a person's disability or perceived disability (any disability including physical disability, learning disability and mental health); or
• any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice against a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender (including people who are transsexual, transgender, transvestite and those who hold a Gender Recognition Certificate under the Gender Recognition Act 2004)
The full data is available to download.
The Guardian - Datablog

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Race attack: victim's neck slashed with broken bottle (UK)

10/9/2012- A young Libyan was slashed across the neck in a racist attack on his way home from work. Waled Khalfa, who moved to Bournemouth two years ago, was walking home alone when a man shouted abuse at him and cut him with a broken bottle. He was struck again and his attacker had to be pulled away from inflicting more damage as the 23-year-old victim lay on the floor. Waled managed to get to his feet and needed five stitches in hospital after he pulled a piece of glass from the wound. “I was walking past these guys and one of them was looking at me and giving me bad looks,” He said. “He had a broken bottle in his hand and said ‘paki’ and swore at me. “He hit me across the neck and was close to killing me. “A piece of glass was lodged inside my neck.” Waled fell to the floor close to the corner of St Paul’s Road and Oxford Road, not far from the train station, and his arm was injured as he was struck with the bottle again. “He hit me with the bottle once more and I heard his friend say ‘cracking day’ and he was smiling. “The man was going to hit me again but his friend stopped him.”

Waled lives in the town centre and is working as a labourer to save for university. He was attacked by a man he believes was sat drinking in St Paul’s Road, with a group of other men. Waled does not want to take action with the police as he is scared about seeing his attacker again. But he wanted to talk about his ordeal as he fears racism is becoming more of a problem this year. “I want to get the message out there that people need to think,” he added. His friend Mamoun Diab, 33, said he moved to Bournemouth 11 years ago from Jerusalem and said he has noticed a change. He said: “I used to go out at night and people would always be friendly but now people look at the colour of your skin and if they hear strange language they swear at you. “I don’t know why it’s like that now.”

Waled urged not to suffer harassment and abuse in silence
Adnan Chaudry, chief officer for the Dorset Race Equality Council, has urged Waled Khalfa not to suffer in silence. “We want to help people who’ve been attacked, harassed and abused because of their race. “And we want to ensure they are supported through the legal process. “He should not be afraid to report it to us and when people have been physically attacked like this then they should dial 999 so the perpetrators can be caught. “They should not suffer in silence.” Mr Chaudry feels that economic factors may impact on levels of racism. He said: “Our intelligence suggests that with the recession some may look to blame others for their plight. “Some of our new communities have said they are subjected to abuse like ‘go back to Poland’.”
The Bournemouth Daily Echo

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Far-right blood drive riles medics (Greece)

14/9/2012- The latest in a series of initiatives by the neofascist Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) to gather donations for blood banks went ahead on Friday in a central Athens square amid protests by doctors’ unions, but the head of the Geniko Kratiko Hospital insisted that the blood would go to any citizens in need, not only to Greeks, as demanded by the ultra-right group. The blood donation initiative went ahead in Aghios Panteleimonas Square, a run-down area near central Athens, but hospital authorities insisted that the terms Golden Dawn had attempted to impose would not be observed. The director of Geniko Kratiko Hospital, Giorgos Papadopoulos, told Kathimerini that it had received an official request from Golden Dawn to conduct the blood donations but emphasized that no restrictions would apply regarding who that blood would go to.

Members of Golden Dawn attending the blood drive in Aghios Panteleimonas reportedly took the opportunity to hand out free food to citizens who had given blood. While the blood initiative was under way, a group of around 10 people burst into a local convenience store managed by a Pakistani national, grabbed canned soft drinks and other goods from the shelves and distributed them to passers-by, witnesses said. Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis condemned Golden Dawn for their tactics but appeared unsurprised. “They do not want to solve their problems with legal means,” he said. “Golden Dawn feeds off lawlessness.”

Doctors’ unions condemned Golden Dawn for “including blood donations in their bigoted propaganda.” The National Center for Blood Donation said “the management of blood is the duty of blood collection services and not voluntary blood donors,” adding that the only criteria for the use of blood was “to serve those who are in real need, irrespective of race, religion or other differences, artificial or otherwise.” In a related development on Friday the Supreme Court appealed to lift the parliamentary immunity of two Golden Dawn MPs -- Giorgos Germenis and Panagiotis Iliopoulos -- who have been linked to a raid on immigrants in Rafina, northeast of Athens. Another Golden Dawn MP, Constantinos Barbarousis, is also to face a parliamentary probe over a similar raid in Mesolongi, western Greece.
Kathimerini

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Greece to toughen hate crime sentencing

Greece will toughen sentencing for hate crimes, following a surge in attacks against immigrants and violence involving members of a far-right political party, the country's justice minister said Wednesday

12/9/2012- Greece will toughen sentencing for hate crimes, following a surge in attacks against immigrants and violence involving members of a far-right political party, the country's justice minister said Wednesday. Antonis Roupakiotis said racially motivated crimes would carry a minimum three-year prison sentence, under judicial reforms due to be voted on in parliament later this year. Current guidelines generally do not have specific provisions for racial motives in sentencing, and prison sentences for assault are often suspended. Migrant and human rights groups have reported an alarming rise in assaults against mostly South Asian immigrants since the start of the country's crippling financial crisis. "It seems like the Greek government is finally taking xenophobic violence seriously," Judith Sunderland, a senior Western Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch, told the Associated Press. "But we need to see concrete action, not just announcements. We hope draft legislation will be examined in parliament soon."

The U.S.-based group, in a report issued in July, said it had documented a rise in anti-immigrant attacks, including stabbings and serious beatings, in Athens over the past two years, leaving dozens of confirmed victims. Earlier this week, Greece's government launched an urgent inquiry into attacks by members of the extreme right Golden Dawn party against immigrant street vendors, whom they accused of operating illegally. Four people were arrested Tuesday in Messolongi, a town in central Greece, for demanding document inspections from immigrant vendors, while a police officer was suspended for allegedly participating in a Golden Dawn-led attack on immigrants' stalls in the same town over the weekend. Golden Dawn won nearly 7 percent of the vote in June general elections, getting 18 seats in the 300-member parliament. Roupakiotis accused the party of trying to cultivate a "neo-Nazi ideology" in Greece.

"We condemn in the strongest possible way every act of violence, and especially actions by members and supporters of Golden Dawn against immigrants or other citizens," he said. "We believe this is an insult to our long-standing notions of justice and the defense of human rights. It is a threat to harmony in society and creates the conditions to develop fascist and neo-Nazi ideology." Golden Dawn on Wednesday said it had taken legal action against Greece's public order minister and chief of police, seeking their prosecution for alleged breach of duty, after police were ordered to stop and search passers-by outside the party's Athens headquarters on Tuesday.
The Associated Press

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Golden Dawn denies market raids were illegal (Greece)

9/9/2012- Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) has insisted that its raids on street vendors in Rafina, northeast of Athens, and Messolonghi, western Greece, were legal despite an outcry from opposition parties and the Public Order Ministry’s instructions for all those involved, including at least three of the neofascist party’s MPs, to be charged. “The employees of the Public Order Ministry are paid through taxpayers’ sacrifices so they can defend illegal traders and illegal immigrants,” said Golden Dawn in a statement. “In their desperate attempt to excuse their tolerance over many years for illegal trading, they are accusing members and MPs of the party of usurping authority and causing unprovoked damage to foreign property.” The far-right group said that its deputies carried out checks on migrants’ identification papers as “simple Greek citizens” and that their actions were in line with the law. The party said it would continue such raids on open-air markets. SYRIZA said the actions were part of Golden Dawn’s effort to create an atmosphere of “fascist terrorism”. It criticized Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias for failing to take action. PASOK also called on Dendias to take more decisive steps to tackle Golden Dawn. It also warned those who support the party’s actions that it was only a matter of time before they also became victims of its “hit squads”.
Kathimerini

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9/9/2012- Members of Greece’s extreme-right Golden Dawn party are under investigation for posing as police. It comes after the emergence of a video which appears to show the group’s supporters in the town of Rafina, near Athens, asking to see migrant vendors’ residence papers. Shortly afterwards another group is seen kicking over one of the stalls and smashing up merchandise. One of the party’s MPs, George Germenis, justified the action: “We took a walk around the bazaar and listened to the problems of small goods sellers here and we noticed some illegal immigrants trying to sell their stuff without the appropriate licenses. We told the police and then we did what Golden Dawn must do.” The Greek public order minister, Nikos Dentias, has made clear he will not tolerate any “usurpation of authority.” Greece’s two Golden Dawn MPs now face having their parliamentary immunity lifted.
Euronews

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Headlines 7 September, 2012

France: Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia at a high in the first half of 2012

Islamophobic incidents increased by more than 14% in the first half of this year, as anti-Semitic acts reached an all-time high following the Toulouse shootings, heard a gathering of Jewish and Muslim leaders on Tuesday.

6/9/2012- “In 2010, 116 anti-Muslim acts and threats were reported, compared to 155 in 2011...the first half of 2012 saw 79 acts reports, representing an increasing of 14.49%,” revealed the president of the Anti-Islamophobia Observatory Abdallah Zekri, opening the conference of European Jewish and Muslim leaders in Paris. “These figures are based on official police complaints records and so are likely to be ‘the tip of the iceberg’”, he added, attributing the worsened situation to “freedom of racist speech” comprising debates on the wearing of a full veil, Halal meat and the national identity.” “All these debates have the pretext of free speech which has equated to a releae of an immense Islamophobia,” he alleged.

The Jewish community for its part feared an “overall resurgence” of anti-Semitic incidents following al Qaeda sympathiser Mohamed Merah’s shooting of three Jewish children and a father outside a Toulouse Jewish school in March, according to Josel Mergui, president of the Central Consistory. “You would have thought that would have halted such acts, but on the contrary, it seems to have liberated a number of fragile individuals,” he told the AFP. According to the Service for the Protection of the Jewish Community (SPCJ), there 310 violent or threatening anti-Semitic acts in the first half of 2012, compared with 226 during the same period of 2011, equating to an increase of more than 37%.

Faced with this racism, the leaders of both communities wanted to present a united front, but differences between the two are apparent. “A lot of Muslims harbour hatred of Jews,” asserted Michel Serfati, president of Friends of French Jews and Muslims. “I call on Muslim leaders to denounce” this anti-Semitism, added New York rabbi Marc Schneier. “I ask you to come to our defence others when attacks are perpetrated by members of your community.” “Don’t mistake your enemy,” responded Zekri. “There have been fracases between youths from time to time, but that isn’t anti-Semitism.” In his opinion, “we can discuss it between ourselves, but to make a scandal about it risks further exacerbating Islamophobia.”

On Monday, French Ambassador to Israel Christophe Bigot warned that “France will not be a passive witness” to anti-Semitism, adding that “anti-Semitism is not an opinion, but an abjection”.
AFP

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Birmingham homeless man thrown in fountain in racist attack (UK)

A homeless man was punched and kicked and thrown into a fountain during a "sickening racist attack" in Birmingham, police said.

7/9/2012- A group of youths attacked and racially abused the 26-year-old Polish man near the Paradise Forum shopping centre at about 02:25 BST on Monday. The man fled but was chased into nearby Broad Street and punched again. Police have released CCTV images of the suspects. PC Fay Mason described it as "a particularly nasty incident". She said the gang had "deliberately targeted a vulnerable person". The victim suffered only minor injuries but was taken to hospital as a precaution, police said.
BBC News

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EDL gang sentenced for attack at anti-racism gig (UK)

4/9/2012- EDL supporters have been convicted of a violent attack at an anti-racism concert in Leeds. Nine members of a gang, including four from the Huddersfield area, were given community sentences at Leeds Crown Court after windows and doors were smashed at the Joseph’s Well venue near the city centre. Members of the gang, aged between 14 and 31, were arrested after a ruckus on June 18 last year, which saw one man lose a tooth when he was hit by an object thrown. The court heard that organisers of the concert received a message before the event saying: "We will smash the place up" and that members chanted "EDL" as they gathered outside the venue. Violence flared as Thurstonland man Mark Johnson, 31, tried to push his way into the pub but was resisted by door staff. Johnson, of Top of the Hill, was given 12 months in prison, suspended for 18 months with 150 hours of community service and was ordered to pay £400 compensation.

Soldier, Cavan Langfield, 18 of Stratford Close, Golcar, was discharged from the Yorkshire Regiment ahead of sentencing. He received a one year community order, 200 hours of unpaid work and was ordered to pay £250 compensation. Matthew Bermingham, 18, of Eton Avenue, Dalton was given a one year community order, 150 hours of unpaid work and told to pay £100 compensation. Aaron Childs, 20 of Chestnut Street, Sheepridge, received a one year community order, 150 hours of unpaid work and told to pay £200 compensation. Joseph Harman and Jonathon Foy from Leeds and Tom Maudsley from Bridon Way, Cleckheaton were given similar sentences. Youths, aged 15 and 17 who cannot be named for legal reasons, received 12 month referral orders.
The Huddersfield Examiner

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Jewish leaders protest after Vienna rabbi reports abuse (Austria)

3/9/2012- Jewish leaders warned on Monday against what they called creeping tolerance of anti-Semitism in Austria after a rabbi said he was verbally abused by neo-Nazi soccer fans while police stood by doing nothing to stop them. The rabbi said a few fans had shouted "Jews out!" and other abuse and raised their arms in a Hitler salute - a crime in the Alpine republic - but that police showed no interest and told him to calm down, saying it was "only soccer". Vienna police said they were investigating a complaint after the incident in the Austrian capital, which took place ahead of a match between Rapid Vienna and the Greek team PAOK last week. The rabbi, who did not want to attract further personal attention by giving his name, said the fans were German-speaking but had worn T-shirts supporting the Greek team. Oskar Deutsch, head of Austria's Jewish community - which has shrunk to about 9,000 from about 200,000 before Nazi Germany's 1938 annexation of the country - said it was a further sign that Austrians were becoming more openly anti-Semitic.

Last month, far-right Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache attracted little high-level censure after posting what critics considered to be an anti-Semitic cartoon on his Facebook page. Deutsch said: "Parallels between the feeble reactions from politicians and the public to Strache's anti-Semitic caricature and this event ... are clear to me, and lead to a lowering of the inhibition threshold for anti-Semitic aberrations." He said the Vienna police chief had told him by telephone of his dismay at the incident and had promised a full explanation. Strache's Freedom Party is running neck-and-neck with the conservative People's Party in opinion polls with about 20 percent of the vote ahead of a parliamentary election next year. The Social Democrats are leading with about 28 percent.

The rabbi said a second policeman he had complained to about the abuse had smirked and said: "Come on, it's only soccer." The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a U.S. non-profit organisation that fights anti-Semitism, wrote a letter to Austria's Interior Ministry expressing its outrage at the incident. "Law enforcement cannot be neutral in the face of hate crime," wrote Shimon Samuels, the Center's director for international relations. Austria's Interior Ministry had no immediate comment. Last month, in the wake of the Strache cartoon affair, Austria's Chancellery repeated its "rigorous" rejection of all forms of anti-Semitism, racism and incitement to hatred.
Reuters

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Polish youth to prison for racism, anti-Semitism

2/9/2012- A Bialystok court sentenced four young men to a year in prison in part for racism and anti-Semitism. They were jailed for being active members of a group that promotes fascism and public incitement to hatred on grounds of nationality and religion. "There is no indication that they have changed their views, which are not only dangerous but also primitive and vulgar," said Judge Slawomir Wolosik, announcing the verdict on Aug. 31. During the investigation, one of the members of the group told police that "I am anti-Semite, fascist and I hate Jews." The group, called IV Edition, was engaged in painting Nazi slogans and symbols on Jewish memorials. In 2007, members of the group vandalized the Jewish cemetery in Bialystok and a monument dedicated to victims of the ghetto, including painting the epithet "Jude Raus" and stars of David on gallows.
JTA News

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Detroit police say Jewish religion not a factor in attack on student (USA)

2/9/2012- A university student's Jewish religion was not a factor in an assault at an off-campus party, police said Wednesday, a day after the 19-year-old man claimed he was hit in the jaw as a victim of "religious hatred." There is no dispute that Zach Tennen was seriously injured early Sunday. But witnesses interviewed by detectives have not confirmed Tennen's account that he was attacked after revealing he's Jewish, East Lansing police Capt. Jeff Murphy said. Police also have no evidence that Tennen's mouth was stapled, as he maintains, Murphy said. "There's a lot more to it than what is on the surface," Murphy told The Associated Press. "This came out early as being reported as a hate crime. It now appears after we've talked to many people who were at this party — and most importantly two witnesses who saw the actual assault — it doesn't appear that religion was the reason he was assaulted." Tennen is recovering from jaw surgery. His father, Bruce Tennen, said the police department's latest "assertions sicken us." Tennen was punched while in the front yard of a Michigan home while 40 people partied in the back yard. The Michigan State student said he was punched and had his mouth stapled after telling two men that he's Jewish.
The Associated Press

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Pogroms in Greece: Racist Violence Sweeps the Nation

What happens to society when the economy collapses
By Richard Palmer


1/9/2012- Masked men on motorbikes patrol the streets of Greece’s streets, attacking immigrants and driving off. Mobs armed with improvised weapons beat them in public squares. Neo-Nazis have been elected to Greece’s parliament, with slogans like “Foreigners out!” and “The garbage should leave the country!” In the wake of Greece’s financial crisis, the country has a racism crisis. Just a few years ago, Greece was like any other country. Immigrants were broadly tolerated, in the same way as the rest of the Western world. In Greece, we’re seeing a preview of what will happen when the economy tanks in the rest of the world. There have been over 200 attacks with racist overtones in the last two months, according to human rights organizations. In 2009 there were roughly 12,000 incidents of violent crime in total. Assuming this level has stayed roughly constant, that would mean one in 10 violent crimes in Greece are attacks on immigrants.

“People coming from war zones are scared to go out at night in Athens for fear of being attacked,” warned a senior Western Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch, Judith Sunderland. “Once, right-wing thugs only came out to attack immigrants at night,” writes Laurie Penny in The Independent. “Now they do so in daylight, unafraid of the consequences because there rarely are any.” “There’s a huge pogrom underway now that has been organized by Golden Dawn gangs, with fascist and racist attacks in neighborhoods and in subway and bus stations,” warned Petros Constantinou, from the United Against Racism and Fascist Violence Movement. “Right now we have dozens of injured, stabbing victims.” But accurate statistics on the racism are hard to find. The crimes don’t get recorded because the police are part of the problem.

The Racist Violence Recording Network, set up by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, held a pilot program on recording the violence in Greece during the last three months of 2011. They found 63 incidents, though they noted that these “are not even the tip of the iceberg.” Out of these 63 acts of violence, 18 were carried out by on-duty police officers. Penny reports that “in some urban districts up to 50 percent of Greek police” voted for the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party. Human Rights Watch reported that victims told them the police discouraged them from filing official complaints about the attacks. They threatened to arrest and deport illegal immigrants that wanted to push for police action. Others were told they would have to pay €100 file a complaint. “These gangs are operating with virtual immunity,” said Sunderland.

So far, the government’s main response has been to try and keep more immigrants out. It increased the number of police patrolling its Turkish border from 500 to 2,500 this August as it cracks down on illegal immigration. Greece shows how quickly a nation can turn to violence once the economy tanks. It had its share of problems before the economic crash—Greece is, after all, the main gateway of illegal immigrants trying to get into the EU—but nothing on this scale. When unemployment is low and public services are well funded, many people tolerate illegal immigrants. But when youth unemployment is over 50 percent, public services are collapsing and the police are struggling to do their job, people look at immigrants differently. ”I was never a racist but I’ve become one,” one Athenian told Human Rights Watch. “Why can’t we send them all home?”

The surge in violence follows a terribly familiar pattern. “Some political commentators have drawn comparisons between Greece and the Weimar Republic in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century,” wrote Deutsche Welle. This is what happens when you reach 50 percent youth unemployment. Society begins to unravel. The destitute masses search for someone to blame. Racial minorities are the easiest scapegoat to attack. But another powerful force is at work: self-love—the most fundamental component of human nature. We naturally love self—our own lives, our families and extended families, even our nation. When things are going well, human nature is usually happy to tolerate immigrants. We feel good about ourselves and appear tolerant and sophisticated to others.

But when things go bad, we resort to defending our lives, our family and our nation, against others. Immigrants are others and so become enemies. Fear of poverty, sickness and starvation becomes more important than appearing tolerant. This pattern is about to be repeated around the world. The West may seem tolerant now. But our nations aren’t morally superior to the Greeks. They will follow the same path as the economy collapses. Watch for this change, especially in Europe. Already, old scapegoats are being blamed again. Anti-Semitism is rising. Greece is a preview of all of Europe. The economic crisis will revolutionize Europe Its foreign policy will take a radically new direction, mirroring the surge in anti-immigrant violence that will sweep through countries. Greece is teaching us once again that as jobs and money vanish, so does tolerance.
The Trumpet

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Hungary nationalists whip up anti-Roma feelings

This summer has seen an escalation of tension in parts of Hungary where ethnic Magyars live next to Roma (Gypsies) - tension exploited by the extreme right-wing Jobbik party and its allies.

1/9/2012- The authorities are not enforcing laws banning the incitement of hatred, leaving Roma to face abuse by paramilitaries linked to Jobbik, which won 16% of the vote in the 2010 election. Jobbik won a local election in the northeastern town of Gyongyospata last year after neo-Nazi thugs invaded and terrified Roma residents. The party is now targeting areas outside its northeastern heartland. Hungary has an estimated 800,000 Roma, in a population of 10 million. According to Krisztian Szabados of Political Capital, a Budapest think-tank, the issue of anti-Roma feeling has been swept under the carpet by all governments elected since the transition to democracy. "Inter-racial relations are a ticking bomb that's going to explode in the foreseeable future," he said. The western Hungarian village of Devecser is still recovering from the caustic red sludge that swamped it in 2010 - toxic waste from an aluminium plant.

But on 5 August there was a different kind of flood - 1,000 neo-Nazi demonstrators linked to Jobbik, angry at the Roma. "You are going to die here!" the marchers shouted, throwing their water bottles and stones at what they thought might be Roma homes. Roma whose homes they passed were "really scared", said one Roma woman, Ibolya Domotor. "This is the second disaster here and it is the worst of the two," said Alfred Kiraly, a Roma member of Better Chances After The Flood, a group set up to deal with the sludge aftermath. You could do something about the sludge, but not about the neo-Nazis, he said.

Inflammatory rhetoric 
Gabor Ferenczi, a local Jobbik MP, said he wanted to see peace, order and safety in Devecser. This, he said, would be the reward for "normal" Hungarians who defended themselves against Roma. He urged villagers to call on the paramilitaries to help them. The paramilitary marchers, mostly bussed in from outside, heard an impassioned speech by Laszlo Toroczkai of the far-right Sixty-four Counties group, who told them there were three options: "To emigrate, to become slaves of the Gypsies, or to fight." "All the trash must be swept out of the country," said Attila Laszlo of the paramilitary For A Better Future Civil Guard. And Zsolt Tyirityan of the Outlaw Army said "the Gypsy is genetically-coded for criminality". A third of the village's 5,000 inhabitants are Roma. With no compensation for the fall in house prices since the sludge disaster few villagers can afford to move away. "The mud did not discriminate between different races," says Kiraly. And the authorities were even-handed in rehousing those who lost their homes. Roma and Magyar families have rubbed along as neighbours for decades, but the rehousing of a few Roma in mixed areas caused minor issues, he says.

Football racism 
The ruling conservative Fidesz government of Viktor Orban, though no supporter of anti-Roma prejudice, has not issued a firm condemnation of the Devecser provocation - unlike its response to an anti-Semitic incident later in August. Nationalist fans at a Hungary-Israel football match shouted "filthy Jews" and "Buchenwald" and whistled during the Israeli national anthem. The Hungarian government said it "condemns in the strongest possible terms the insulting behaviour of certain Hungarian football fans". Mayor Tamas Toldi, the local Fidesz representative in Devecser, said he was angered by the far-right speeches, but was unable to outlaw an event disguised as a "peace march". He said the 200 regular police assigned there could not stop it in mid-flow. Near-silence at national level allows Fidesz "to avoid confronting right-wing voters sympathetic to Jobbik who they hope to keep in their camp," says Kristof Szombati of the LMP, a green party.

The far right has used local problems as a pretext to intimidate the Roma community. A recent instance was the rape and murder of a 25-year-old police psychologist, which resulted in an anti-Roma march in Pecs in late July, albeit a peaceful one. The trigger for the Devecser march was a convoluted dispute between two long-term neighbours. Their bickering escalated into two brawls. Later, posts appeared on a far-right website calling for readers to rally to the aid of their compatriots after "hundreds of Gypsies attacked a handful of Magyars". And rally they did. The lawyer for the Magyar family warns of a "civil war" if Roma do not conform to the wishes of the majority. Mayor Toldi talks proudly of welfare-for-work schemes which keep unemployed Roma occupied. He also hopes village forums can agree informal rules to resolve neighbourhood problems. Consensus may yet prove more attractive than calling on the services of paramilitaries.
BBC News

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Six Jewish tombstones desecrated in Germany, new anti-Semitic attack in Berlin (Germany)

Unknown vandals desecrated six Jewish tombstones at a cemetery in the northeastern German city of Rostock with graffiti including Nazi swastikas, police announced Wednesday.

5/9/2012- The attackers also daubed slogans in blue paint including "Shit Jews" and the Nazi rallying cry "Sieg Heil" on the exterior walls of the graveyard. The desecration took place on Monday. "We are tracking one suspect in particular. There was probably a group with him but I cannot say for sure," a police spokeswoman told Agence France Presse. Last year, 30 Jewish gravestones were desecrated in the western city of Essen on the night of April 20, Adolf Hitler's birthday. Three men aged 18 to 20 were arrested, according to a Berlin-based group fighting hate crimes, the Amadeu Antonio Foundation. Last week, Rabbi Daniel Alter was beaten in broad daylight on a Berlin street by four youths of Arab descent who also threatened to kill his six-year-old daughter. Alter declared that the attackers approached him and asked, "Are you a Jew?" Then they blocked his way and began hitting him in the face, while hurling anti-Semitic curses. The attack, which sent shock waves through the country's 200,000-strong Jewish community and made international headlines, came amid a bitter debate over a recent court ruling declaring that religious circumcision as practiced by Jews and Muslims amounted to grievous bodily harm.

On Monday, a second attack occurred in the German capital when a group of 13 female Jewish schoolgirls from the Orthodox school ‘Or Avner’ were verbally assaulted with anti-Semitic slurs. They said they were surrounded by boys and girls with a "Middle Eastern appearance. Police said that no one was physically hurt in the incident. The leader of Berlin's Jewish community, Gideon Yoffe, denounced the attacks, and said it is "time that Muslim anti-Semitism bothered the Muslim side too."
EJP News

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Berlin police probing second anti-Semitic incident in a week (Germany)

A second anti-Semitic attack in Berlin within a week has prompted the launch of a state police investigation.

4/9/2012- Berlin police said Monday that 13 girls from the Chabad Or Avner primary school were verbally abused with anti-Semitic slogans by four teenage girls fom the neighboring public school before their physical education class was to begin, according to the German news agency dpa. The Jewish school shares the gym with the secular school. The four alleged attackers, aged 15 and 16, also reportedly photographed the Jewish pupils with their cell phones. Two young men accompanied the attackers. A teacher tried unsuccessfully to intervene and speak with the teens, but they fled. At least one was wearing a Muslim headscarf, dpa reported. The incident follows a brutal attack on Berlin Rabbi Daniel Alter, who was beaten by several men after they asked him if he was Jewish. Alter required emergency medical treatment. The attackers also reportedly threatened Alter's 6-year-old daughter. Reaction was swift from political leaders and the head of the Jewish community in both cases. Following the latest incident Gideon Joffe, the head of the Berlin Jewish community, said that Muslims must confront anti-Semitism within their community.

Some 11,000 Jews officially belong to the Berlin Jewish community, and it is estimated that another 10,000 to 20,000 live in the German capital. For some Berlin Jews, the incidents are a disturbing reminder of underlying tensions with Arab neighbors. Ayala Goldmann, who lives in the same neighborhood where Alter was attacked, told JTA that her first reaction was to consider "wearing a silver star of David pendant out of solidarity because I don't agree that Jews should have to hide their identity in public." "But then I thought about my 3-year-old son, and the fact that I don't want any trouble with the Arab youth who live in the social housing near the commuter train station. I decided not to follow through on this idea because of [my son]. I just don't want to take any risks." Rabbi Josh Spinner of Berlin told JTA that "Taunts and comments from young people of Arab background are regular in the neighborhoods where they live in considerable numbers." Spinner said he advises his yeshiva students to "exercise caution" in what they wear in certain neighborhoods.

Violent attacks such as on Spinner's friend Alter are "thank God exceedingly rare," added Spinner, who is executive vice president and CEO of the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation. The real problem is not "German-anti-Semitism but ... Germany's ability to integrate immigrants from Arab countries. In this respect, Germany is in a better situation than much of the rest of Western Europe," he said. "The problem is the same, but the will to find a response, prompted by the special moral responsibility of Germans to ensure that Jews are treated decently, is far greater than in France or Sweden, for example."
JTA News

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Neo-Nazi attack victims have 'suffered twice' (Germany)

The chairman of the neo-Nazi investigation committee, Sebastian Edathy, met with victims of the 2001 and 2004 bombings in Cologne. The interest of those affected, however, was apparently not so great.

1/9/2012- They were injured, some seriously. They were suspected of having committed the attacks themselves and they are traumatized. These are the victims of the terrorist attacks in Cologne that occurred between 2001 and 2004. Eleven years ago, a German-Iranian woman was wounded in an attack on a grocery store in Cologne. Three years later on Keupstraße in Cologne, a nail bomb exploded. In this predominantly Turkish neighborhood 22 people were injured. Just last year it was revealed that the National Socialist Underground (NSU), a neo-Nazi organization was behind both attacks. The chairman of the neo-Nazi investigation committee, Sebastian Edathy, was in Cologne to talk to victims on Friday. The meeting was attended by the federal government's ombudswoman for the victims, Barbara John, and Cologne's police chief, Wolfgang Albers. However only nine people, who were victims of the attack itself or relatives of victims, were part of the conversation. The meeting was closed to the public and took almost three and a half hours. Even during the press conference, the representatives of the victims did not want to talk about the attacks. They did not want to continue with their previous life in the public, said Barbara John.

Victims twice over
The victims of the attack in Keupstraße have had all kinds of problems. For many, life has fundamentally changed, John said, citing the "chronic health problems because they lost their jobs; because social relations were disrupted, which included openly voiced suspicions that they themselves were involved in the attacks."  Edathy also stressed that it has become clearer through the dialogue, just how traumatic the events were. These people were victims twice: once for a serious offense, and again because of the false accusations. The committee will submit its final report next year and Edathy said it would examine how long-term care for traumatized victims could be organized differently in future. Victims of such attacks needed more attention and fixed contact persons.

Improving victim protection
How this will look in practice is still unclear. Ersan Atan, who was at the event representing his father, said that the discussions had been very open and sometimes very personal. The politicians had listened to them and were understanding of the victims suffering. But will something really be done for the victims? Ersan Atan is optimistic: "I hope so," he said. Reinhard Schön, a lawyer representing five victims' families, is cautiously optimistic about the talks, "Some victims are in bad shape. There have been initial commitments of assistance." But, he said, victim protection and victim support had fallen short over the years and only now is it starting to take hold, "We are happy for any help there is."
The Deutsche Welle.

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