Headlines 26 October, 2012
Greek Neo-Nazi Party Sends Death Threats to Dissenters
A leader of the Greek Orthodox Church has been receiving threatening phone calls after speaking out against the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party.
25/10/2012- A leader of the Greek Orthodox Church said he has been receiving threatening phone calls after speaking out against the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party. According to The Greek Reporter, the calls warned him that, “We shall burn that commie,” an apparent reference to Communists—one of the many factions in society which the extremist right-wing party believes is undermining Greece’s national interests. There have reportedly been many threats made against the church, whose officials believe are coming from Golden Dawn and other ultra-nationalists who seek to expel all immigrants from the country. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, leader of the New Democracy Conservatives, also supports driving out illegal immigrants and has not denounced Golden Dawn. The notoriously anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant and xenophobic party has recently opened braches in New York City and Montreal in an attempt to widen its sphere of influence. The party, whose leader openly denies the Holocaust, displays copies of “Mein Kampf,” as well as other works on Greek racial superiority at its headquarters.
© Arutz Sheva
Fear and loathing in Athens: the rise of Golden Dawn and the far right
In austerity-ravaged Greece, neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn is on the rise. Their MPs give fascist salutes, while on the streets black-shirted vigilantes beat up immigrants. And some of their most enthusiastic supporters are in the police
By Maria Margaronis
26/10/2012- You can hear it from blocks away: the deafening beat of Pogrom, Golden Dawn's favourite band, blasting out of huge speakers by a makeshift stage. "Rock for the fatherland, this is our music, we don't want parasites and foreigners on our land…" It's a warm October evening and children on bicycles are riding up and down among the young men with crew cuts, the sleeves of their black T-shirts tight over pumped-up biceps, strolling with the stiff swagger of the muscle-bound. They look relaxed, off-duty. Two of them slap a handshake: "Hey, fascist! How's it going?" Trestle tables are stacked with Golden Dawn merchandise: black T-shirts bearing the party's name in Greek, Chrysi Avgi, the sigma shaped like the S on SS armbands; mugs with the party symbol, a Greek meander drawn to resemble a swastika; Greek flags and black lanyards, lighters and baseball caps. I lean over to talk to one woman stallholder, dressed in Golden Dawn black with thickly kohl-rimmed eyes, but as soon as she opens her mouth a man in a suit strides up: "What are you writing? Are you a journalist? Tear that page out of your notebook. No, no, you can't talk to anyone."
Tonight is the opening of the Golden Dawn office in Megara, a once prosperous farming town between Athens and Corinth. The Greek national socialist party polled more than 15% here – double the national average – in the June election, when it won 18 seats in parliament. (One was taken up by the former bassist with Pogrom, whose hits include Auschwitz and Speak Greek Or Die.) Legitimised by democracy and by the media, Golden Dawn is opening branches in towns all over Greece and regularly coming third in national opinion polls. Its black-shirted vigilantes have been beating up immigrants for more than three years, unmolested by the police; lately they've taken to attacking Greeks they suspect of being gay or on the left. MPs participate proudly in the violence. In September, three of them led gangs of black-shirted heavies through street fairs in the towns of Rafina and Messolonghi, smashing up immigrant traders' stalls with Greek flags on thick poles.
Such attacks are almost never prosecuted or punished. Ask Kayu Ligopora, of the Athens Tanzanian Community Association, whose premises were vandalised by around 80 "local residents" on 25 September after police walked away. He's lived in Greece for 20 years; for the first time, he says, he's thinking about leaving. Or Hussain Ahulam, 22, who told me how four men with dogs and a metal crowbar left him bleeding and unconscious by the side of the road as he walked home one day. Or 21-year-old HH, a Greek citizen of Egyptian origin, who was beaten on 12 October by three men with chains as he stepped off the trolley bus, and whose sight may be damaged for good. Or ask @manolis, a blogger for Lifo magazine, who on 11 October went to photograph Golden Dawn's attack on a theatre showing Terrence McNally's Corpus Christi, which casts Christ and the apostles as gay men in Texas. He says four or five people surrounded him in front of the riot police, hit him and spat on him, and put a lit cigarette in his pocket. "A known Golden Dawn MP follows me, punches me twice in the face, knocks me down," he tweeted. "I lose my glasses. The MP kicks me. The police are exactly two steps away." Another MP, Ilias Panagiotaros, stood on the sidelines ranting in front of video cameras: "Wrap it up, you little faggots. Wrap it up, arse-fuckers. You little whores, your time has come. You fucked Albanian arseholes." A third, Christos Pappas, was filmed releasing a man from police custody. He is the only one now under police investigation.
In Megara, as the light fades, people are gathering: families, children, grandmothers. A woman in a long green dress and high-heeled silver mules is choosing a black T-shirt; another asks the price of a Greek flag. Suddenly there's shouting, a thunder of boots on asphalt: 50 yards from the stage, a group of braves have pushed a man off a red motorbike and are kicking and punching him as he lies on the ground. His arms are protecting his head; I can hear the boots go in. No one stirs until an older member calls them off: "Come back to our space, fellow fighters. The Leader is on his way." The Leader, Nikolaos Michaloliakos, squat in a baggy suit, threads his way through the crowd accompanied by the party's spokesman, Ilias Kasidiaris, a former commando with five criminal charges pending, famous abroad for assaulting two women candidates on TV in June. On talkshows, Kasidiaris scowls and slouches like a delinquent teenager, but tonight he looks expansive, almost rock star cool. The office door is flanked by men in camouflage trousers, with crash helmets and Greek flags rolled around wooden staves; more stand guard on the balcony and the roof.
Standing among the citizens of Megara as Michaloliakos addresses them, I feel as if I've slipped into a parallel universe. As a Greek, I've known these people all my life: middle-aged women with coiffed hair and well-upholstered bosoms, men in clean white shirts and neatly belted trousers. They're the people who run the cafes and corner shops; who work hard every day, often at two or three jobs; who pinch children's cheeks and won't let you pay for your coffee; who were always cynical about politicians' promises. I never thought they could fall prey to fascist oratory. Yet here they are, applauding Michaloliakos as he barks and roars, floodlit against a low white building next to the petrol station. We could almost be back in the 1940s, between the Axis occupation and the civil war, when former collaborators whipped up hatred of the left resistance.
Michaloliakos has his populism down pat. His message is pride, and purity, and power. He lambasts the other parties for selling out the country, for their lies and corruption, with special attention to the left party, Syriza. Golden Dawn, he says, are the only patriots, the only ones who haven't dipped their hands in the honeypot. He praises Megara, which used to supply all of Greece, "before we started eating Egyptian potatoes, Indian onions and Chilean apples". Then he turns to "the two million illegal immigrants who are the scourge of this country", who sell heroin and weapons with impunity. "Voting for us is not enough," he says. "We want you to join the struggle for Greece. Don't rent your house to foreigners, don't employ them… We want all illegal foreigners out of our country, we want the usurers of the troika and the IMF out of our country for ever."
After the fireworks and the flares and the national anthem, Efthimia Pipili, 67, gives me her reaction. "Foreigners have come twice to my house to rob me in the night," she says. "If I didn't have my rottweiler, I'd be dead by now. I used to vote for Pasok [the Panhellenic Socialist Movement]. Last time I voted for Tsipras [the leader of Syriza] because I thought he was different. But Tsipras wants to protect the foreigners. I have €100 to last for the next three weeks. I owe €400 to the electricity company; they're going to cut me off. Why shouldn't I be for Golden Dawn, my love?" Golden Dawn is many things: a party, a movement, a subculture; a vigilante force; a network inside the police and the judiciary. Vasilis Mastrogiannis of the Democratic Left, a former senior police officer turned politician, describes it frankly as "a criminal organisation". New Democracy MP Dimitrios Kyriazidis, who founded the Greek police union, calls it a "political excrescence". "Because of my past in the police, I know very well where these people come from," Kyriazidis says. "Most declare their profession as 'businessman'. But one has to pause at that."
The party's founder and leader, Nikolaos Michaloliakos, served time in the late 1970s for assault and illegal possession of guns and explosives. While inside, he met members of the military junta that ruled Greece from 1967 to 1974, but his political views, as expressed in Golden Dawn, the magazine he started when he was released, were well to the right of theirs. Breaking the boundaries of "acceptable" rightwing nationalism, Michaloliakos published paeans to Adolf Hitler, arguing that Greece should have been at the side of the Axis in the second world war. The magazine, its covers periodically adorned with portraits of the Führer and his acolytes, served up a weird amalgam of Nazi propaganda, antisemitism, traditional nationalism and pagan fantasy. The party that now courts and counts on the Orthodox church once advocated a return to "the faith of the Aryans" – the Olympian gods – claiming that Christianity had "grafted Jewish obscurantism on to the trunk of European civilisation". In the one interview I was allowed with a Golden Dawn official, MP Panagiotis Iliopoulos told me that, as a young man, the magazine expressed his ideas completely. Have the party's views changed since then? "Not at all," he said. "There are no neo-Nazi articles in the magazine. Only historical ones."
Golden Dawn first drew attention in the early 1990s, when the dispute over the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia fuelled an upsurge of Greek nationalism. It found fertile ground in the anti-immigrant sentiment that spread through Greece with the first wave of migrants from Albania and eastern Europe; it gathered strength as the failures of Greek and European policy turned Greece into a lobster trap for refugees and migrants coming from Asia, Africa and the Middle East. As thousands struggled to survive beside impoverished Greeks in neighbourhoods shattered by the economic crisis, Golden Dawn vigilantes began to "clear" Athenian squares with fists and clubs and knives; to storm unofficial mosques; to sell protection to shopkeepers; to escort old ladies to the supermarket. In 2009 the party polled a mere 0.29% in the national election. In 2010, Michaloliakos was elected to the Athens city council; he celebrated his arrival with a fascist salute.
Golden Dawn MPs Golden Dawn MPs. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
As the crisis deepens – 25% unemployment, and 54% among the young; a third of the businesses in central Athens closed; savings gone and faith in the two old mainstream parties lost; violent scenes erupting even in parliament – there is a smell of fear in Athens, as well as one of numb depression. In June, many voted for Golden Dawn as a protest against the parties that brought the country down: "I want them in parliament to beat the others up." Now they are turning to it because hope is exhausted; because things are out of control and they want someone to take charge; because it's "doing something". "It's not that Greece is going to be saved," one voter said to me. "Greece can't be saved." What, then?
The Golden Dawn office in downtown Athens is open three evenings a week. Most of the visitors are middle-aged women with dull eyes and sunken cheeks, faces too old for their bodies, hardened, tired expressions. More than 50 come in an hour. Quietly, they ask the bouncers, "Are they giving out food inside?" "Third floor," the bouncers say; but most of the women come out empty-handed save for a mauve piece of paper with the Golden Dawn logo on it. There's only enough today for voters from this ward; they'll announce the next distribution on a poster, in the papers, if you phone. Away from the door, Maria Kirimi tells me she's been locked out of her flat with all her things inside since 29 July; the family are crowded at her mother's now, seven people surviving on €400 a month. "We're the living dead," she says. Isn't she troubled by Golden Dawn's violence? "The boys in the black shirts are the only ones I'm not scared of. I feel they'll protect me." I ask her mother, old enough to remember the junta, what she thinks of their far-right views. "I heard Michaloliakos say on TV that their sign isn't Hitler's sign but a patriotic one," she says, and then looks down at her feet. "It does upset me a bit. But I haven't heard of anyone else giving out food."
For the young people drawn into its inner circle, Golden Dawn means much more. Vetta has Celtic crosses on her collar points, a pack of Stuyvesants and a can of Red Bull clutched in her left hand. Her kohl-rimmed eyes dart back and forth as she speaks, but she is open, friendly. The 33-year-old says she helped to "clear" Aghios Panteleimon square three years ago and was stunned by people's gratitude. She's a member now, one of 20 chosen each year for their contribution to the cause and given lessons in ideology and behaviour: "We have to welcome everybody, to be polite but serious." There's a dress code for women – no heels, low-cut tops or bare backs – and a growing Women's Front, which offers training in self-defence. "But there's no difference between men and women here. We all sweep and mop. And, yes, the men make coffee."
The Golden Dawn office in industrial Aspropyrgos is in a flat above an empty garage, next to the old elevated motorway. The stairs are lined with crash helmets, black shields and Greek flags rolled on to wooden staves, ready to snatch up at a moment's notice. The walls are hung with the slogans of Greek nationalism – "Macedonia is Greek soil" – and a blown-up photograph of Golden Dawn supporters fighting the riot police. Arete Demestika – six months pregnant, ponytail down to her waist, earrings like black roses – waxes lyrical in praise of the party: "It's an attitude, a way of life, it's what's called Greece. It awakens new parts of you and makes you stronger, it arms you with knowledge, it's a secret school. We learn our true history, the lore of the nation, because the Greeks are a superior race. And it's given me my family – I met my husband here – and made me feel I'm not alone in the struggle for our country."
But outside, as the sun goes down, 27-year-old Costas, a black-booted Golden Dawn cadre, slips out from under the rhetoric and speaks in his own words. He's an inspector now in the Eleusis oil refineries, but that's not his vocation. He's a craftsman, a marble carver; he used to work at the Acropolis, but the pay was terrible and you couldn't get a decent contract if you weren't in the right party. His face softens and sweetens as he talks about working the marble, learning the craft as a boy, and I realise that he comes from a village I know well. Suddenly we're two people – two Greeks – talking about a place we love, a place full of memories, almost as if things were normal. Deliberately, inexorably, Golden Dawn is moving into the gaps left open by the crippled Greek state. Its strategy is a blend of seduction and extortion, the exploitation of need backed by the threat of violence. To its existing "solidarity projects" – "Food for Greeks only" and "Blood for Greeks only" – the party has now added a third: "Jobs for Greeks only". Golden Dawn members are visiting workshops and factories, counting and publicising the number of foreign workers there, "encouraging" employers to hire Greeks instead. But its biggest success has been the provision of "security", with the collusion of the authorities: the intimidation of migrants, protection of Greek shops, vigilante patrols.
Adept at spectacle, the party claims new territory with a show of black-shirted strength, fireworks and flares and fanfare, masculine energy. Physical fitness is a big part of its culture. There are Golden Dawn gyms that don't admit foreigners; Golden Dawn security firms. MP Panagiotaros owns a shop called Phalanga that sells military memorabilia; bovver boots and black gloves; ultra football shirts; kit by Pit Bull and Hooligan. Members of the military junta beam from photos on the wall. The heavy stuff is said to be kept in a back room.
As middle-class Greeks have fled the centre of Athens, immigrants have moved into their empty properties. It's common knowledge that if you want to get squatters out of your flat, you call Golden Dawn, not the police, who at best will quietly pass you a Golden Dawn telephone number. The story has become a staple of dinner-party conversation; in the version I heard from unemployed journalist Julia Iliakopoulou, the Golden Dawn heavies who cleared the Pakistanis out of her friend's flat by "beating them black and blue" made them clean it up and paint it afterwards. "Don't upset yourself," they said. "We're Greeks helping Greeks." It's hard to measure just how deeply Golden Dawn has penetrated the police. In Athens wards where the police vote in large numbers, the party polled 19-24% last summer; Panagiotaros crows that 50-60% of the force is now with the movement. What's obvious is that rightwing violence almost always goes unchecked, even when it happens under officers' noses or on camera. Early in October, anti-fascist protesters told me they had been tortured in the Athens police headquarters: burned with a cigarette lighter; forced to strip naked, bend over and spread their buttocks; filmed by officers who said they'd give the pictures to Golden Dawn. As I tried to interview some of them in a public lobby of the Athens courthouse, an officer grabbed me by the arm and pulled me roughly away. A police spokesperson denied the protesters' allegations.
Lawyer Yianna Kourtovik is familiar with Athens' most notorious police station, Aghios Panteleimon, which in 2010 was censured by a United Nations special rapporteur. She tells me that migrants trying to bring complaints of racist violence are routinely threatened with counter-charges and held in the cells; that local supporters of Golden Dawn wander freely in and out of rooms where complainants are giving statements; that she has had to prevent a friend of accused attackers from removing evidence. "If that isn't giving cover to Golden Dawn, I don't know what is," she says. A few weeks ago, she was egged by Golden Dawn outside the station while the police looked on. Then: "The other day, as I was walking down the road, two uniformed officers behind me started chanting, just loud enough for me to hear, 'Blood! Honour! Golden Dawn!'"
Why are such allegations never investigated? The usual response from those on the left is that Golden Dawn is "the long arm of the state" – that the government tolerates it to discourage immigration and keep people in a passive state of terror. But Golden Dawn is now much more of a threat to public order than protesters against austerity. There is also the fear of further alienating a desperately underfunded, underpaid and demoralised police force. New Democracy's Kyriazidis has led efforts to isolate Golden Dawn in parliament and, as a veteran union organiser, has intimate knowledge of the old militarised, post-junta police. But when I put the question to him, he hesitates: "Now that Golden Dawn is a legal party in parliament, we can't do anything… If there is an investigation, it has to be done internally, to remove individuals who act in this way but not weaken the police as a whole." Through some lethal cocktail of intention, incompetence and inertia, the state has let a violent, anti-democratic force take control of law enforcement.
Greece has bitter experience of what can happen when the far right infiltrates the security services. But the Democratic Left's Mastrogiannis thinks what is happening now is more dangerous than a coup. "With the junta, you knew the enemy," he says. "But these people are acting inside society, undermining the system from within. People doubt that democracy is alive. They see it as something that works only for the few, who exploit it to make money. And the circumstances are not transient. This situation could go on for 15, 20 years." Already Golden Dawn's success has moved the agenda to the right. Speaking in Paris last month, prime minister Antonis Samaras compared his country to 1930s Weimar. Trying to win back ground before the last election, he launched an ill-thought-out campaign (Xenios Zeus, or Zeus the Host) to round up illegal migrants, and spoke of taking back Greece's city centres. "I try to tell myself that he meant from criminals," says Dr Yunus Mohammadi of the Greek Forum of Refugees, "but really he meant from migrants."
People quickly become inured to hate speech and violence. Panagiotaros now speaks openly of a "new kind of civil war" between Greeks and "invaders", nationalists and leftists. Two years ago, a friend who sits on the Athens city council came in late to find only one empty seat, beside Michaloliakos. He hesitated, but the Golden Dawn leader waved him over. "Do sit down," he said. "Fascism isn't contagious." At the time, we thought it funny.
© The Guardian
Racist violence continues to escalate with impunity in Greece
26/10/2012- More has to be done to combat racist violence in Greece, the Racist Violence Recording Network has shown. According to the Network, the main problem lies with the inability or unwillingness of the criminal investigation authorities to record incidents of racist violence, to investigate the cases thoroughly and to arrest the perpetrators. Indeed, it has been found that authorities often deter undocumented victims of the attacks from reporting to the police. No perpetrator of a violent racist attack has ever been sentenced in Greece under the 2008 law which provides for instances where crimes are motivated by racism. "Today we are sounding alarm bells because racist violence and the threat of fascism have spread and threaten democracy (…) We call on the Greek Government to assume its responsibilities having as first priority the dismantling of neo-nazi groups in the Hellenic Police" said Kostis Papaioannou, former President of Greece's National Commission for Human Rights.
The Racist Violence Recording Network has registered 87 incidents of racist violence against refugees and migrants from January to September 2012. According to migrant and refugee organizations, the number of known racist violence incidents does not represent the real extent of this phenomenon in Greece and racist attacks take place almost daily. Most attacks are connected with organised extremist groups, while in some cases, the victims or witnesses to the attacks recognized persons associated with the Golden Dawn party among the perpetrators.
The Racist Violence Recording Network brings together UNHCR, the National Commission for Human Rights; Greek Council for Refugees, ECRE member organisation; the Greek Forum of Refugees and other 21 NGOs and bodies, as well as the Greek Ombudsman as observer.
© The European Council on Refugees and Exiles
Hungary's far right party gains as it targets Roma
Decades of animosity between Hungarians and ethnic Roma in this small town in western Hungary had attracted little attention until the far-right Jobbik party saw an opportunity to score a few political points.
25/10/2012- A protest rally organized by the party, a little after a brawl between a Roma family and some local people, turned into a running street battle that has left the town thoroughly shaken but which Jobbik was able to exploit for its own ends. It is a strategy that has worked well for Jobbik, a party that once made use of a "Hungarian Guard" of vigilantes dressed in fascist-style uniforms to target the Roma. Support for Jobbik, or the Movement for a Better Hungary, is strong and the party could well hold the balance of power between the ruling Fidesz party and the left wing opposition after parliamentary elections in 2014. That could allow Jobbik to wield a decisive influence over the government, pushing pet issues such as a rethink of European Union membership and a realigning of economic ties towards countries of the east.
Recession-hit Hungary may be forced to accept aid from the International Monetary Fund if economic conditions get worse. That would compel the government to introduce unpopular austerity measures and could mean more votes for Jobbik. Fidesz insiders deny it, but pressure from Jobbik is widely seen as already influencing the government's agenda, pushing it towards unorthodox and widely criticized economic policies. The conflict between Roma and Hungarians is Jobbik's principal means of achieving the support at the ballot box it needs to push its policies in Budapest. Fidesz has lost more than a million voters since 2010, the opposition remains weak, and more than half the electorate is undecided. Jobbik meanwhile has retained its base and is the third strongest political force in Hungary.
The party is skilled at making national headlines out of local flare-ups, which is what happened in Devecser. About a third of the 5,000 inhabitants are Roma. They make a living largely from collecting second hand goods in Austria and Germany and selling them at a giant flea market just outside the town. Many local Hungarians take a dim view of the practice. One day in July, Ferenc Horvath, a stocky Roma furniture dealer, was driving his van along a narrow street when a car blocked his way. He told the driver, who was staying at a nearby house, to move. Words were exchanged and Horvath drove on. Two days later Horvath's family and friends returned to the house. In circumstances that remain unclear, a bloody fight ensued. Both sides, Roma and Hungarian, used spades and baseball bats, even a knife. A crowd gathered, mostly local Roma. According to a report by the interior ministry, the police booked 17 people and started an investigation. To some in Devecser that was not enough. They asked for help on a far-right online news portal, and someone also called Jobbik. The party obliged, and organized a protest to demand better public safety. On posters announcing the event extremist groups were listed alongside Jobbik, raising fears of violence.
According to witnesses and a video recording of the August 5 protest, speakers invoked the darkest periods of Hungarian history. Zsolt Tyirityan, the leader of a group called the "Army of Outlaws", told the crowd to get tough with the Roma, even citing the Nazi idea of Lebensraum, or living space. "Force demands respect," he bellowed. "What will we show against these people? Only force! There will be no Gypsy Martin Luther King, no Roma Malcolm X, because we will stamp out this phenomenon that wants to eradicate us from our living space!" Some of the 1,000 protesters then marched to the Roma part of town, threatening people, throwing rocks and yelling insults. The video shows thugs throwing half-bricks into the yards of Roma houses and the Roma hurling the bricks back. By chance there were no serious injuries. "They attacked everyone they saw," Ferenc Horvath said a few weeks later at the flea market. "They called us genetic rejects, or worse. People are still scared out of their wits." Jobbik denied responsibility for the violence. However, Jobbik MP Gabor Ferenczi, who put the protest together, later took credit for an increased police presence in the town.
Jobbik registered as a political party in October 2003; by Christmas, it had 2 percent voter support after erecting wooden crosses to protest against the holiday's commercialization. In September 2006, violent protests erupted when a recording leaked of Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany admitting that his Socialist party had lied for years about the state of the economy to gain reelection that year. Jobbik took to the streets. It campaigned against police brutality, held rallies and began a meteoric rise. "There was no way to do politics the traditional way any more," Jobbik chairman Gabor Vona said on a 2010 propaganda DVD. "Local chapters, a board, a program ... it was too little." "It was just before Christmas that year that I came up with the idea of the Hungarian Guard."
Later banned, the Guard was a uniformed voluntary vigilante group that bore a resemblance to the fascists of World War II. Unarmed but belligerent, it helped the party target a new political scapegoat: the Roma. In October that year, a teacher was lynched by a Roma mob in eastern Hungary, provoking nationwide outrage. Jobbik coined the term "Roma crime" and began to vilify the country's 700,000 Roma as free-loading, lazy, and criminal. The party insists it only targets criminals, but the public perception is far less nuanced and supporters viewed the Guard as a sort anti-Roma defense force. The media took up the story, but the critical coverage served only to launch Jobbik into the mainstream. "We could never have bought the air time to promote Jobbik and fill the ranks of the Guard the way this coverage did," Jobbik executive director Gabor Szabo said in the party video. Success came in 2009. Jobbik scored 14 percent at European Parliament elections. Then in 2010, it became the third biggest party in Hungary's parliament, polling 17 percent and winning 45 of the 386 seats. The gains could easily continue in 2014, said historian Rudolf Paksa, an expert on the far-right, who said that in an extreme case the party could get 30-35 percent of the vote.
At a Jobbik summer camp in Velence, 60 km (40 miles) west of Budapest, about 100 activists gathered this year for a two-day political session and a morale boost by Vona. "We are normal people in a screwed-up world, even if some see us as screwed-up people in a normal world," Vona told them. "The Jobbik brand right now is dark, violent and gloomy. We did not paint it dark, but we cannot win a majority like this. We need to refine it to gain a brighter, younger brand." Most of the audience were barely of voting age, but young people are Jobbik's strongest asset, and its communications strategy is largely built on the internet and its young users. Jobbik says it has good relations with a far-right web site called Kuruc.info, which features a column called "Gypsy Crime" and often runs pieces by Jobbik leaders. Some opinion polls suggest Jobbik is already neck-and-neck with Fidesz in the age group below 30.
If Jobbik had its way, Hungary would be a lot harsher on its Roma. It may not be a member of the European Union. And it would definitely not be talking about loans and aid deals with the West, pursuing instead engagement in the Middle East and Asia. "It was a grave mistake of the post-Communist era to naively tie Hungary's fortunes to the mast of a sinking ship and pursue 100 percent Euro-Atlanticism," Jobbik's foreign policy chief Marton Gyongyosi told Reuters. Gyongyosi, whose office is decorated with Iranian and Turkish souvenirs, said Hungarians are the descendants of Turkic peoples and should cultivate those ancient ties. Jobbik has protested against EU membership, even burning the EU flag outside the Union's Budapest offices.
Gyongyosi said the IMF has "bled Hungary dry for decades" through loans and austerity requirements, so Jobbik will call for financing from eastern countries such as Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan or China instead of the IMF or EU. Jobbik also uses anti-Semitic language and some of its deputies espouse such ideas. The party does not embrace this openly but does little to dispel the image. One Jobbik MP went as far as invoking the centuries-old blood libel - the accusation that Jews used Christians' blood in religious rituals - in a speech in parliament earlier this year. Fifty U.S. Congressmen then wrote to Prime Minister Orban to complain about anti-Semitism in Hungary. This compelled Vona to reply, rejecting the charge. But for the liberal members of parliament who sit next to Jobbik deputies, this is empty talk from a party that basically shrugs when it is labeled anti-Semitic.
Parents voice support for teacher facing racism charges (Denmark)
Teachers and parents defend teacher who admits to using racially charged language to admonish a group of minority students
24/10/2012- Teachers and parents at an Odense school embroiled in racism allegations face an environment of harrassment and verbal abuse at the hands of minority students, according to the head of the school's parent's association. “The students behave in a completely unacceptable manner,” said Peter Julius in a letter written to Fyens Stiftstidene newspaper on behalf of school staff and the school board. It is this tense environment, Julius claims, that contributed to an incident in which Birgitte Sonsby, the headteacher of the school, was reported to the police and still faces possible disciplinary action from the council after reportedly using racially charged language when reprimanding a group of boys who had disrupted her class. “I’m so bloody tired of you Muslims ruining the teaching lessons,” Sonsby reportedly said to the boys.
Sonsby later apologised to the families for her choice of words, but said that she didn’t believe that her outburst was racist. “A situation arose in the classroom and some children needed to be reprimanded. They started laughing at me and I lost control. I said some things that I deeply regret and I apologise,” Sonsby told Fyens Stiftstidende. Julius said that he did not approve of the Sonsby's choice of words, but understood her frustration that a small group of students could disrupt an entire class. “We are not racists. But we must have the nerve to stand up and be honest about what is happening within the school’s walls,” said Julius. He added that students involved in the bullying and name-calling “lacked the standards and values needed to succeed in a normal Danish school”.
By writing the letter, Julius said he hoped to encouge something to be done about behavioural problems and suggested that the group of minority currently concentrated at Ejerslykkeskolen could be broken up and distributed throughout other schools in the area. Stina Willumsen (Socialistisk Folkeparti), who heads Odense City Council's children and youth committee, believes closer co-operation with the parents of minority children should be the first step. “I think that it's very much about the parents,” she told Fyens Stiftstidende, ”Students who have difficulty accepting the school’s values need better support from home.” Sonsby, who had no comment, is scheduled to continue be interviewed by the superintendant of schools in Odense pending a decision.
© The Copenhagen Post
Louisiana woman faked hate crime, police say (USA)
24/10/2012- A Louisiana woman who said she had been set afire by white supremacists inflicted her injuries herself, police said Tuesday. Sharmeka Moffitt was found in a city park in Winnsboro, in rural northeastern Louisiana, on Sunday night with burns over 90% of her body. The 20-year-old told police she had been attacked and set ablaze by three men who wrote "KKK" on her car, but Winnsboro Police Chief Lester Thomas said Tuesday afternoon that evidence found on a cigarette lighter and a bottle of charcoal lighter fluid showed "this was not an attack, but a self-inflicted incident." Investigators released little else at a Tuesday afternoon news conference. "This has been a very disturbing case for everyone involved," Franklin Parish Sheriff Kevin Cobb said. Moffitt was in critical but stable condition at a Shreveport hospital Tuesday night, Franklin Parish Sheriff's Deputy Bettye McCoy said.
Woman set ablaze in Louisiana KKK related attack (USA)
23/10/2012- A 20-year-old African American woman has been set on fire with the letters KKK written on her car. Louisiana authorities are now investigating the possibility of a hate crime. The incident occurred on Sunday night when Sharmeka Moffitt was attacked by three men in Civitan Park Winnsboro, Louisiana. The victim managed to call police, telling them she had been attacked and burned by unidentified men in white hoodies. The woman is now in a critical condition at LSU Medical Center in Shreveport. The victims mother told a local news channel that on "both of her arms, there are third degree burns, down her chest and legs- first degree. Basically her arms are real bad." Surgery has been scheduled for Tuesday.
Police have also confirmed that the racial slur, “KKK”, was spray painted on Moffitt’s vehicle. The FBI have also been brought into the case to investigate the connection between a hate crime and speculation that the victim was wearing an Obama-campaign t-shirt at the time of the attack, a rumor that her mother denied. The Ku Klux Klan, often abbreviated as KKK is an extreme loosely formed far-right organization in the United States, which advocated extremist ideology such as white supremacy, white nationalism and an end to immigration. Their views have been historically expressed through terrorism and acts of excessive brutality. Winnsboro Police say they will be tightening security at the park as a result of the incident.
Spotlight on racial violence: July-September 2012 (UK)
An overview of racial violence and convictions over the last three months.
25/10/2012- The stabbing to death of delivery van driver Mohammed Saleem Khan last month, in an attack that police believe to be racially motivated, indicates the brutal reality of violent racism in the UK. Mr Khan had been delivering shower products in the quiet town of Easingwold, North Yorkshire, a few hours before he was found slumped behind a wheel of his vehicle, having been stabbed once in the neck. It was an attack that was to prove fatal, and Khan died later in hospital. By coincidence, his death came only a week or so before 27-year-old Daniel Rogers appeared in court, charged with the murder of a 61-year-old man, Mehar Dhariwal. Dhariwal, a taxi-driver in Bedford, was racially abused, beaten and kicked to the floor by Rogers, his passenger, simply for following company policy and asking him to pay his fare in advance. When paramedics arrived at the scene they found the taxi-driver covered in blood and with an enormous lump on the side of his head. Yet after taking him to hospital, no CT scan was carried out, and tests did not pick up the fact that he had been beaten with such ferocity that one of his ribs had been broken. Mr Dhariwal later told his family that he had been involved in a car accident, preferring not to let them know about the racist attack. A few days later he collapsed, never regaining consciousness.
Where is the outcry? Where is the rage over the fact that year after year, people continue to lose their lives in vicious racist attacks? Where is the uproar over the routine racial violence which takes place up and down the UK on a daily basis? Attacks, over the last few months alone, which have included a man being stabbed in the neck after challenging a woman about racist remarks he believed she had made, a homeless Polish man being set upon and thrown in a fountain by a group of youths, and a woman who was left concussed, with retina damage and about a quarter of her hair ripped from her head, after being beaten by a mother and her teenage daughter.
What follows is just a tiny selection of the cases of racist attacks and convictions which have taken place in the UK between July and September 2012. These indicate the ongoing risks faced by workers in the night-time economy, such as taxi-drivers, who face a threat of alcohol-related racial violence. They show how people are harassed in their homes, abused and intimidated until, in some cases, they leave an area. They show how people need to be hospitalised following completely unprovoked racist attacks which take place as they walk down the street.
These cases also show how clear it is that social media are increasingly being utilised as a conduit for racist abuse. The haranguing of footballers on Twitter, given the nature of their profession, often makes headlines. But less attention is given to the way the far Right use social media to stir up fear and make threats. In September, for example, the North West Infidels (an EDL splinter group) posted a video on Facebook, appearing to show a man tied and gagged in the boot of a car and threatened with a machete. That same month, an ex-soldier and EDL supporter, Kenneth Holden, pleaded guilty to posting offensive messages on Facebook about Muslims, for which he was later given a 12-month community order. He is not the only soldier (or former soldier) involved in racist attacks or abuse over the last few months. Cavan Langfield for example, an 18-year-old soldier, was sentenced in September along with eight of his friends, for attacking people attending an anti-racist gig in Leeds last year during which they shouted support for the EDL and smashed someone’s tooth out. Langfield avoided a custodial sentence, but was discharged from his regiment prior to sentencing.
Worryingly, in several of the attacks (not specifically those involving soldiers), the criminal justice system appears unwilling to recognise the racial motivation and, for example, an attack on the home of an asylum seeking family in Barnsley was initially explained away by police as the antics of drunken teenagers.
A selection of racist attacks and convictions that have taken place over the last three months are highlighted below.
28 September 2012: Nurrel Wright, 16, was walking to a garage in Birmingham with his stepfather when they were set upon by group of white men shouting racist abuse. The teenager was left with a fractured eye socket. The attack took place close to where Nurrel Wright’s friend, Kyle Sheehan, also a teenager, had been stabbed a week previously, and occurred on the same night that Kyle died from his injuries. The two incidents were not related. But according to local anti-racist campaigners, the fatal stabbing was also racially motivated. (See Birmingham Mail, 2 October 2012 for information on the attack on Nurrel Wright; for information on the stabbing of Kyle Sheehan, see Birmingham Unite Against Racist Attacks)
23 September 2012: A 27-year-old man in Birmingham nearly died after being stabbed and slashed repeatedly in his chest, face and neck by an unprovoked attacker thought to be using a screwdriver. As the victim collapsed, another man joined in, kicking and punching him whilst he was prone on the ground. The attackers then fled. (Birmingham Mail, 27 September 2012)
7 September 2012: Duke Crosswaite was sentenced to five years in a young offenders’ institution for an unprovoked attack on two Asian teenagers in May 2011. Crosswaite, who was with two friends when the attack took place in Rochdale, beat the teenagers with metre-long sticks, and the attack was of such ferocity that their arms were broken as they tried to protect themselves. (Rochdale Online, 10 September 2012)
3 September 2012: A group of youths hugged and congratulated each other as a homeless Polish man they had set upon writhed on the ground in agony. The incident, which police described as a ‘totally unprovoked assault’, took place in Birmingham city centre. The attackers went on to throw the homeless man into a fountain and chased him as he tried to flee. (Birmingham Mail, 6 September 2012)
26 August 2012: A woman in Belfast stabbed a man in the neck after he challenged her over racist comments she had made about a black passer-by. Prosecutors in court later explained that the three inch stab wound was only two millimetres away from a main artery. (Belfast Telegraph, 18 September 2012)
20 August 2012: A group of white men racially abused an Asian woman, her mother and her 4-year-old daughter in Eastbourne before throwing a brick at their car. (Sussex Argus, 5 September 2012)
7 August 2012: Hannah Bance, a 26-year-old ‘mixed race’ woman, was savagely beaten by a mother and her teenage daughter in an unprovoked attack in Essex. Bance was left with a black eye, a broken rib, bruises on her head, concussion, an inflamed retina and had a quarter of her hair ripped from her head as a result of the attack, which took place as she was walking to a shop to buy baby wipes for her son. One of her attackers told her to ‘go back home’ and get ‘out of her area’, and another, who arrived at the scene, prevented the victim’s friend from helping her. The attack was of such severity that Bance was later too afraid to return to her home. (Essex Chronicle, 9 August 2012)
July 2012: A group of white youths began throwing large stones at some international students on the Herne Bay seafront. A restaurant window was smashed and the police were called, but according to the restaurant owner they initially played down the seriousness of the incident. (Herne Bay Times, 27 July 2012)
30 July 2012: Ashley Dacosta, a 20-year-old soldier, was jailed for six years in a young offenders’ institution for attacking teenager Mohammed ‘Mo’ Bourner. Mo was left with 90 per cent brain damage as a result of the attack, which took place in Bexhill in 2011. Dacosta’s sentence included eighteen months for perverting the course of justice and he was jailed along with his friend, James Carrick, who was sentenced for witness intimidation. (Sussex Argus, 30 July 2012. Read an IRR News story: ‘Soldier jailed for ‘senseless’ racist attack’)
Attacks on people in their homes
11 September 2012: 45-year-old Wu Youzhong, a doctor in Coleraine, was viciously beaten in his home after he heard the glass in his front door being smashed and went to investigate. Four men and a woman racially abused him, before kicking and punching him to the floor in an attack which left him hospitalised for days. His wife heard him screaming as the attack took place and later said that she and her husband were considering leaving the property. (Irish News, 13 September 2012)
August 2012: Days after a couple received the keys for their new home in Huddersfield, the house was pelted with eggs and had offensive graffiti daubed on its walls, including the letters ‘EDL’ and a swastika. (Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 28 August 2012)
12 August 2012: An eastern Mediterranean family in Plymouth awoke to find a downstairs carpet burning as a result of lit fireworks being pushed through their letterbox. The father managed to douse the flames, but when he opened his front door he was confronted by three men who shouted racist abuse and threw another firework into the house. As they left, one of the men threw a brick at his car. (Plymouth Herald, 16 August 2012)
July 2012: A family of Pakistani asylum seekers had to be moved from their accommodation in Barnsley for their own safety, just six weeks after moving there. Stones were thrown through the window of the property, traumatising a 3-year-old child and resulting in her pregnant mother being showered in glass and needing hospital attention. The police claimed that the attack was merely the antics of drunken teenagers, but this explanation was put in doubt when a family of Sri Lankan asylum seekers were also attacked in their home that same night. (Barnsley Star, 11 July 2012)
17 July 2012: A 40-year-old female police officer appeared in court in Scotland, charged with an alleged attack on a woman in her home two days earlier, said to be ‘aggravated by racial prejudice’. It was claimed that the police officer, off-duty at the time of the incident, entered the woman’s home and punched and slapped her repeatedly around her head. She denied the assault charges. (STV, 17 July 2012)
Violence against workers
September 2012: A 40-year-old shop assistant was set upon by three white teenage boys after he left work in Hertfordshire. The teenagers racially abused him and beat him to the floor, leaving him shaking in fear, with a swollen face and blood pouring from his knees. (Asian Image, 23 September 2012)
September 2012: A former soldier was sentenced in York Crown Court for racially abusing a cafe worker and then attacking a member of the British Transport Police, injuring his hand to the extent that he could not resume full duties for fourteen weeks. The attack took place in October 2011. (York Press, 17 September 2012)
22 September 2012: Delivery driver Mohammed Saleem Khan was found slumped behind a wheel of his vehicle in Easingwold with a single stab wound to the neck. He later died from his injuries and police said they were investigating whether the murder was a racist attack. (Northern Echo, 26 September 2012)
18 September 2012: A jury was told how Mehar Dhariwal, a taxi driver in Bedford, had been racially abused and fiercely beaten by 27-year-old Daniel Rogers after asking him to pay a cab fare upfront in the early hours of 22 January 2012. Dhariwal died a few days after the attack as a result of his injuries. Rogers was later given a life sentence for murder, and ordered to serve a minimum of 25 years. (BBC News, 4 October 2012)
7 September 2012: Darren Simpson, 47, was convicted of racially aggravated assault after attacking Jack Alexandrovic, a Polish taxi driver, in Cirencester in May 2011. Alexandrovic had picked up a man and a woman on the evening of the assault who later told him they could not cover the fare and asked him to drop them off at another address. Simpson was outside this address when they arrived and he attacked the taxi driver, calling him a ‘foreign f****r’. (Gloucestershire Echo, 7 September 2012)
13 August 2012: Gavin Massop, 27, was jailed for nine months after a ‘revenge attack’ on staff at a Turkish takeaway in Cardiff. He had threatened to burn the shop down and cut people because his girlfriend had been one of a gang of people who had been jailed earlier this year for attacking the same takeaway. The initial attack came after the gang went out celebrating former soldier Andrew Ryan’s release from prison for burning a copy of the Qu’ran in the city centre. After getting drunk, they went on to racially abuse and threaten staff in the takeaway. (Cardiff News & Star, 14 August 2012)
The use and abuse of social media
September 2012: After plans were submitted to use a building as a Muslim community centre in Hereford, a deluge of racist comments were posted via social networking sites. The Hereford Masjid Fundraising Campaign’s Facebook page was shut down after threats were made to contaminate any land identified as a potential site and the group was referred to as ‘vermin’. (Hereford Times, 20 September 2012)
September 2012: An EDL supporter was arrested after posting a message on Facebook claiming to have planted a bomb at a mosque in Birmingham. (EDL Review, 12 September 2012)
29 September 2012: Former Stoke-on-Trent BNP councillor Michael Coleman was given a suspended sentence for racially–aggravated harassment as a result of postings he had put on his blog in 2011. His postings included claims that the city was being ‘flooded with Muslims and blacks’ and that the council was overseeing a ‘complete population replacement programme – darkies in, whites out’. Patrick Thompson, mitigating in court for Coleman, said that a harsh punishment would turn Coleman into a ‘martyr’. (Stoke Sentinel, 29 September 2012)
26 September 2012: A video was posted by the North West Infidels appearing to show the kidnap of a man tied up in a car boot and threatened with a machete. Two men were arrested. (HOPE not hate, 28 September 2012)
20 September 2012: Chelsea FC midfielder Mikel John Obi deleted his Twitter profile after being racially abused on the social networking site. (Guardian, 20 September 2012)
19 September 2012: After discussions with the CPS, police closed an investigation into five men, two of whom were thought to be members of the North East Infidels, who had been ‘arrested on suspicion of publishing or distributing written material which may stir up racial hatred’. A spokesman for the North-East Counter Terrorism Unit said, ‘Following liaison with the CPS, we were advised that no further action should be taken.’ (Northern Echo, 20 September 2012)
26 August 2012: A man was arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence in relation to racist tweets sent to West Ham FC striker Carlton Cole. (BBC News, 26 August 2012)
14 August 2012: After the Sunderland FC defender Titus Bramble tweeted a request for people to join his fantasy football league, someone responded with ‘what’s the league called ‘rapists unite’ dirty f**kin ape’. (Sunderland Mad, 14 August 2012)
July 2012: The Ministry of Defence (MoD) was contacted after the singer Lily Allen reported that a man claiming to be a soldier told her, via Twitter, ‘just seen you bought s**t I meant adopted a child from Africa’. The man later apologised. (Independent, 13 July 2012)
Far-right violence and anti-Muslim attacks
14 September 2012: A group of men linked to the EDL were fined for chanting racially aggravated abuse after a football match in Middlesbrough. The incident happened last year. (Northern Echo, 15 September 2012)
8 September 2012: Sunderland student Usman Chaudhry woke up at about 5.30am to see his car on fire outside his house. In the next street, firefighters were dealing with another arson attack on another car owned by a Muslim. The men feared they were targeted because of their faith, and the attacks came in the aftermath of far-right protests against the granting of planning permission to build a mosque in the city. Police said there was no evidence of the attacks being ‘specifically targeted’. (Sunderland Echo, 19 October 2012)
5 September 2012: Nine supporters of the EDL, aged between 14 and 31, were convicted for a violent attack in Leeds. The attack took place in 2011, when the gang descended on an anti-racism concert, shouting their support for the EDL before attacking en masse, knocking one person’s tooth out. Soldier Cavan Langfield, one of the attackers, was discharged from his regiment prior to sentencing. (Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 5 September 2012)
August 2012: Two men were each given jail sentences for threatening and harassing an Asian family. The family, who own a newsagent in Bulwell, were unloading stock in April this year when the men, one of whom was brandishing a knife, began threatening them. One of the attackers, Kelvin Barratt, proclaimed he was part of the EDL, and they later returned to the shop and threatened the family again. Upon being sentenced, Barratt retracted his support for the far-right group. (Nottingham Post, 24 August 2012)
30 August 2012: Simon Parkes, a 45-year-old former soldier, was jailed for four months for tying a severed pigs head to the gates of a mosque in Cheltenham and daubing the building with offensive graffiti in 2010. Parkes served in the Falklands and Northern Ireland before leaving the military in the early 1990s, and was said to be haunted by images of children killed on his tours of duty. He was caught by police after he posted a photo of himself on Facebook, outside the mosque after the attack, with a caption reading ‘revenge of the Infidel’. (Guardian, 30 August 2012)
14 August 2012: A 32-year-old man, Jonathan Russell, threatened two men who were on their way to prayers outside a mosque in central London, throwing a knife at one and snarling ‘Where’s Allah to protect you know?’ In court, a judge condemned the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for not classing the crime as racially motivated. The CPS said that Russell had been ‘commenting generally’. (Searchlight, 15 October 2012)
5 August 2012: An Islamic centre in Surrey was vandalised, with eggs and alcohol thrown on the building and graffiti sprayed on the front door. (Redhill and Reigate Life, 8 August 2012)
© The Institute of Race Relations
Pig's head found outside Newbury mosque (UK)
24/10/2012- A pig's head has been found outside a mosque in Berkshire. Thames Valley Police said they were treating the incident "extremely seriously" and "will not tolerate hate crime". CCTV from the area around the mosque in Pound Street, Newbury, is being reviewed, while scenes of crime officers are examining the scene. Insp Al Lloyd, from the force, said officers were "pursuing a number of lines of inquiry". He added: "I would urge anyone in the community who has any information about this incident, or who knows who may be responsible, to contact police urgently."
© BBC News
'Disability hate crimes' rise by a quarter in a year (UK)
23/10/2012- Official figures show the number of “disability hate crimes” recorded by police forces in England and Wales in 2011/12 increased by almost 25 per cent on the previous year. While the cases recorded in Leicestershire, which was criticised for the handling of the Fiona Pilkington case, have risen to more than 200 a year, 12 other forces have recorded less than ten. Campaigners last night suggested that many cases of disability hate crime were being treated as isolated incidents of anti-social behaviour. Mrs Pilkington and her daughter, Francecca Hardwick, who had severe learning disabilities, died after the mother set fire to their car five years ago today, after more than 30 calls to police went unanswered. An Independent Police Complaints Commission report was heavily critical of the police for the way they handled the case and the Home Office vowed that such an incident would not be repeated.
© The Telegraph
Newtownards: arson attack mother leaves home (Northern Ireland)
A mother of three is moving out of her Newtownards home after the latest in a series of attacks.
21/10/2012- Janette Nelson, 38, who is a Catholic, was alone in the house at Lenamore Park on Saturday evening when flammable liquid was poured through the letter-box and set alight. She was able to put out the fire and was not injured. Police are treating the attack as a hate crime. It is the fourth time the house has been targeted in recent weeks. The family have had to endure graffiti, broken windows and two arson attacks in ten days.
During the first arson attack, Ms Nelson and her children had to be rescued when a fire was started in the early hours of the morning. She had always resisted leaving her home but now she feels she has no option. Her sister, Lizzie McInerney, said the latest attack was the last straw. "She was here, sorting out her stuff and that happens during the evening. She has to leave, she's going to have to." Ms McInerney added the past few weeks had been "really difficult" for the family. She said her sister's children had frequently cried over the situation, and wanted to return to their home where they could play with their friends.
'Attempt to murder'
"They can't go home - any time they do go home, this happens again. "Somebody is out there to kill them," she told BBC Newsline. Alliance councillor, Linda Cleland, condemned those responsible for the attack which she decribed as an "attempt to murder". "We've moved forward and we don't want to go back. We have to live together, no matter what religion or what nationality we are," she said. Ian Cox of the East End Community Association in Ards said the family were "totally sickened" by what had happened. "They are asking questions about what is going on. We would ask anybody to come forward to give the PSNI some sort of lead," he said. "This should not be happening. The whole community is in shock." Last week, police questioned a 32-year-old woman on suspicion of intimidation in connection with an earlier attack. She has been released pending further inquiries.
© BBC News
New LGBTI Support Centre in Skopje Attacked (Macedonia)
The Centre for Support of the LGBTI Population, opened one-day earlier by the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Macedonia in Skopje’s Old Bazaar, was found stoned and its windows broken yesterday morning, October 24, 2012. The Kanal 5 TV reported that three masked persons attacked the Centre under the cover of the night.
25/10/2012- Uranija Pirovska from the Helsinki Committee said to the media that the organization will not give up its plans to use the Centre to provide assistance to homosexual and trans-gender persons, in spite of the attack and previous threats received in the days before the opening of the Centre. „The attack on the facility is a form of pressure which we expected, having in mind that the citiyens and the local community don't know what is really going on. I repeat that the whole idea is based on equalitz and freedom, but we obviously have to overcome the early problems and to prove this is a human idea“, Pirovska told the press. The Centre was officially opened last Tuesday, October 23, in the presence of Marriet Schuurman, the Ambassador of the Netherlands in Skopje.
“This project is of crucial importance for the LGBTI persons in Macedonia. I have spent several years working on the project and I finally see it materialized. The latest events involving institutional homophobia, followed by homophobic reporting in some media, only emphasized the need for such a Centre. The hatred incited artificially by some persons and entities cannot be sustained over the long run. For that reason, I am convinced this Centre will prove successful in its aim to ensure the equality of all people living here”, Kočo Andonovski, Programming Director of the Centre said at the opening.
The main goal of the Centre is to represent the LGBTI community. It will also work to organize self-help groups, and will offer support and assistance to other formal and informal groups and associations working in the area of human rights.
Macedonia gay activist brutally attacked
Alen Shakiri, the president of LGBT United Macedonia was attacked by two men
22/10/2012- The president of the LGBT United Macedonia was brutally attacked, group members are too scared to reveal their identity because of widespread homophobia in their country Shakiri, who heads Macedonia’s only existing LGBT rights group, was severly attacked on Sunday (21 October) by two unidentified men in the country’s capita Skopje. The Facebook page of the group reported that as Shakiri was on his way to his home around 9pm, he heard ‘shouts and insults such as "Fag", "Homo", "You are all going to die"’ directed at him. ‘Realising he may get in trouble, he started running, yet, the attackers have managed to catch him and have started beating him in the stomach. ‘[Shakiri] barely managed to run away, and to call the other members of the organisation. Together they have [sic] reported the attack to the police.’
LGBT United Macedonia reported that when the activists contacted the police, and filled in a statement about the attack, officers did not show any interest and were visibly unsympathetic. The group also noted that ‘lately … members of LGBT United Macedonia have been a target of verbal insults and physical attacks by people aware of their membership … and of their LGBT activism’. Speaking with Gay Star News, one of the group members, who wishes to remain anonymous for safety reasons, said that Shakiri is resting at his home, still traumatized and suffering from stomach pains. ‘We are all really stressed here. Lots of negative things have been happening here lately.
‘Three months ago we did a small hidden pride, we are afraid to reveal our faces because of the widespread homophobia here. 'Next year we hope to organize the first pride march ever in Macedonia. 'It is very difficult for us, we are all volunteers here and very little help and no funding except our own.’ In its annual report, ‘Rainbow Europe Index 2011’, by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, (ILGA–Europe), Macedonia is rated as the worst country in the Balkans in terms of legal protection for LGBT people. Macedonia is the only country from the Balkans placed in the so-called red zone of worst offenders, among 13 other states. According to gay travel and rights site GlobalGayz, LGBT people are generally ostracized from Macedonian society if they dare to come out.
The site cites many stories about public humiliations, unfair dismissal and even casting gay teenagers onto the streets after parents learn of their sexuality. There are also many cases of police harassment of gays, despite the legality of homosexuality.
© Gay Star News
Hate crime investigation launched surrounding Ezra Levant broadcast (Canada)
The Roma Community Centre in Toronto wants police to investigate comments made by Ezra Levant in a recent broadcast on Sun News Network as a hate crime.
24/10/2012- The centre says it has "officially reported a hate crime" about Ezra Levant's broadcast, "The Jew vs. the Gypsies" that aired on his show The Source on September 5. The Toronto Police Service confirmed to J-Source that they are investigating a complaint from the centre. "The hate crime unit is investigating," said Toronto Police constable Wendy Drummond. "The complaint is new, and the investigation is ongoing." No charges have been laid.
In the broadcast, Levant accused the Roma of cheating the Canadian refugee system, and stereotyped them as criminals. He said:
"These are gypsies, a culture synonymous with swindlers. The phrase gypsy and cheater have been so interchangeable historically that the word has entered the English language as a verb: he gypped me. Well the gypsies have gypped us. Too many have come here as false refugees. And they come here to gyp us again and rob us blind as they have done in Europe for centuries. . . They're gypsies. And one of the central characteristics of that culture is that their chief economy is theft and begging."
Sun News Network has since taken the clip in question down, and provided a retraction and apology. (But an audio mirror is here.) J-Source contacted Levant, Sun News Network and a media spokesperson at Sun Media parent company Quebecor Media Inc. but has not yet received any comment.
Reaction to the initial Roma broadcast
Jewish community leaders also condemned the broadcast. "If the Sun News Network had aired an attack on Jews, the whole country would be outraged," they wrote in the opinion section of the National Post. "Yet we have seen little support for the Roma from other faith and ethno-cultural groups, politicians and community leaders in the wake of Levant's on-air rant. Even the media has remained mysteriously silent." The Roma community in Canada is frequently under attack, according to Osgoode Hall Law School professors Benjamin Berger and Sean Rehaag who wrote an opinion piece in the Toronto Star. They called Levant's segment just the latest.
The Roma Community Centre argue its complaint is based on Section 319(2) of the Criminal Code which states "Every one who, by communicating statements, other than in private conversation, wilfully promotes hatred against any identifiable group is guilty of" either an indictable offence punishable by imprisonment of not more than two years, or an offence punishable on summary conviction. Gina Csanyi-Robah, the centre's executive director, said it has filed complaints with the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council and the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission, and while investigations were launched, the centre felt the response from Sun Media wasn't satisfactory.
In addition to removing the broadcast, Sun News Network acknowledged the complaints it received and issued an on-screen apology to the Roma community. A transcript in full:
Two weeks ago on the Sun News program "The Source" we looked at the issue of Canadian refugee claims by the Roma people. Following the broadcast we received a number of complaints from viewers who felt the broadcast reinforced negative stereotypes about the Roma people. We have completed a review of the material and we agree that this content was inappropriate and should not have gone to air. It was not the intent of Sun News, or anyone employed by Sun News, to promote negative stereotypes about the Roma people. We regret our error in these broadcasts, and we apologize unreservedly to the Roma people and to you, our viewers.
Sun News is on your side.
The Roma community was troubled by that response, since the segment had already aired across Canada said Csanyi-Robah. As well, she said she expected the apology to come from Levant, or from both the network and Levant. "It wasn't even a true, legitimate apology that people would be aware of." Csanyi-Robah said she was hoping for the network's license to be revoked, and for Levant to be disallowed from speaking on the network in the same manner towards any community in Canada. She said this wasn’t the first time Levant targeted the Roma community on the air, but this instance "went way above and beyond anything I've ever witnessed in Canadian media against any group in Canada." "Regardless of what the response was going to be from the CRTC or the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, we were still going to pursue a hate crime (investigation)."
Levant's recent history with CBSC
The CBSC has investigated Levant before. In June it decided that he violated Clause 6 of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' Code of Ethics during a December broadcast. As a result, Sun News Network was required to announce the decision once during prime-time, and once more during Levant's show. However, Levant responded on his show by criticizing the CBSC, comparing the process to a kangaroo court, and repeated the phrase that prompted the investigation. This in turn gave some, including journalist David Climenhaga -- who was one of the original complainants -- the impression that the CBSC is "toothless" as a regulator of the broadcast industry. He called for the airwaves to be "properly regulated by the government of Canada and not by a powerless self-regulating entity (CBSC)." That December broadcast of "The Source" featured Levant criticizing Chiquita Banana over its decision to boycott Alberta's tar sands. He then directed his criticism at Chiquita's vice-president Manuel Rodriguez toward the end of the show. It ended with Levant hurling a profane Spanish insult directly at Rodriguez which translates to "F-ck your mother."
© The Canadian Journalism Project
Firebomb Attack on Kosher Restaurant in Montreal (Canada)
A Kosher restaurant in Montreal was firebombed this week, the latest attack after a series of burglaries in local synagogues.
21/10/2012- A Kosher restaurant in Montreal was firebombed on Thursday night, according to a report on the website of the Shalom Toronto newspaper. The report said that, the restaurant, Resto Bar Chops which is located in the city’s Snowdon district, was attacked by two masked men who arrived at the restaurant at four in the morning, smashed its front window and threw a firebomb into it. The restaurant’s automatic fire extinguishing system was able to put out the flames. The Montreal Gazette reported that the restaurant’s shareholders are Nathalie Chayon and Yael Amsellem, and the president is Isaac Nahon, all of the Côte Saint Luc district. On Friday morning, an attempt was made to firebomb a gym in the city, and on Wednesday there were two similar cases of attacks on Montreal restaurants, Shalom Toronto reported. Firebombing restaurants is a typical pattern of criminal gangs in Montreal, noted the report. A wave of burglaries in synagogues and churches in Montreal has been reported in recent weeks, according to Shalom Toronto. The burglars, some amateur, broke into 11 synagogues and two churches in the city’s Mile End and Outremont neighborhoods. Congregation Belz in Outremont was attacked four times in the last month, and a total of $2,000 has been stolen from its tzedakah (charity) boxes. In one of the incidents, the synagogue’s security cameras captured the picture of a man, about 55 years of age, who broke into the synagogue.
© Arutz Sheva
Some 300 people joined a demonstration in solidarity with the Jewish population in Malmö on Saturday after a spate of recent attacks.
21/10/2012- Glorious sunshine greeted the the march. Many of the demonstrators were dressed in the Jewish head covering known as a Kippa. Among those taking part in the march were Malmö mayor Ilmar Reepalu, who has previously been criticised for comments on anti-Semitism in the city. Integration minister Erik Ullenhag was the keynote speaker at the destination of the march on Möllevångstorget in central Malmö. The minister condemned the recent attacks on the Jewish community and announced a 500,000 kronor ($76,000) grant by the government to the Swedish Committee Against Antisemitism (SKMA). The money will be used for a new initiative in Malmö schools in a bid to address the problems faced by the city's Muslim and Jewish populations. "The role of schools in the work against xenophobia and intolerance can not be overemphasized," Ullenhag said. The march, which began at the synagogue on Föreningsgatan, featured representatives from all of Sweden's five official national minorities - Jews, Roma, Sami, Swedish Finns and Tornedalers. Hate crimes in Malmö have become a common feature of recent news reporting with a spate of attacks on synagogues and mosques over the past decade.
© The Local - Sweden
Anti-Semitic flyers distributed in French Town
26/10/2012- Numerous virulently anti-Semitic flyers have been placed in letterboxes across the town of Aix-les-Bains in south-eastern France in recent days. The tracts, which claim to be the work of “The Church of Wotan”, refer to Jews as “the main people responsible for the decadence of the White People and the invasion of sub-races.” A number of complaints have been made to the police and an investigation is ongoing. Aix-les-Bains is home to a largely Orthodox Jewish community centred around one of the leading yeshivot (Talmudic colleges) in Europe. Around 1,000 Jews live in the town.
© The European Jewish Congress
French far-right activists charged over mosque protest
Four far-right activists who led a weekend occupation of an unfinished mosque at Poitiers in central France were charged Monday with offences including incitement of racial hatred.
22/10/2012- All four were also charged with organising an illegal demonstration and three of the men were indicted for theft and causing criminal damage in relation to the removal of prayer mats from the mosque. The latter charges carry potential prison terms of up to five years. The four men led a protest involving around 70 activists who occupied the mosque site on the edge of the town for several hours on Saturday before being persuaded to leave by police. During their time on the roof of the mosque, they unfurled two banners. One identified their organisation, Generation Identitaire, the other referred to the 732 Battle of Poitiers, in which the Frankish leader Charles Martel is credited with having prevented an Arab conquest of western Europe. Poitiers is a town of around 90,000 people with an Islamic population of around 8,000.
In France, tensions flare over proposed sale of church to Muslim group
2/10/2012- When the Rev. Alain Krauth preached to his dwindling flock at Mass last Sunday, the subject was real estate. But it was also Christian charity, tolerance and, indirectly, the gnawing malaise in France over an increasingly visible Muslim minority. The issue was Saint-Eloi's, a graceless 1950s-vintage church on the edge of this declining French city 150 miles south of Paris. With six churches to maintain and fewer faithful every year, Roman Catholic authorities decided they could no longer afford Saint-Eloi's. It must be sold, Krauth lamented, and if one of the prospective buyers is a peaceful Muslim association looking for a new mosque, then so be it. "If moderate Muslims buy Saint-Eloi's, we can only be happy that the Muslims of Vierzon are able to celebrate their religion," he said in an interview explaining his sermon. "If on the other hand they were extremists, that would be another question, knowing that there are extremists in all religions."
But Krauth's open-mindedness was not shared by all. After an item in the local newspaper, Le Berry Republicain, the murmurs began. Cafe conversations proliferated. Krauth said he got a dozen calls. Some were polite, others not. His office received about 20 e-mails. Some commended him; others asked how he could betray a place of Christian worship to the Muslims. Comments popped up on the Internet, meanwhile, some of them raw. One suggested throwing a pig into the church to discourage Muslims from making the purchase. Alerted, reporters and cameramen from Paris showed up to ask questions about the rise of Islam. Before long the proposed sale of Saint-Eloi's escalated into the latest example of France's difficulty in dealing with a growing minority of people born into families of Muslim tradition.
The Interior Ministry and most academic specialists have estimated the community in France numbers at least 5 million, the largest in Europe. While less than 10 percent of the population, Muslims often end up segregated into suburban neighborhoods, where Muslim customs such as veils for women and fasting for the holy month of Ramadan become the norm, eclipsing France's long-established Christian traditions. Jean-Francois Cope, who is running for leadership of former President Nicolas Sarkozy's conservative coalition, the Union for a Popular Movement, suggested recently that French children were being prevented from snacking after school in some quarters by "thugs" posted on the sidewalk outside during Ramadan. When observers pointed out that Ramadan has fallen during summer holidays for the past two years, Cope was widely mocked. But his followers insisted he was calling attention to a genuine problem even if the details may have been apocryphal.
The fuss over Vierzon — probably more heated in the national media than in the city itself — also came to a boil in part because, only a week before, a dozen young Muslims were arrested in Paris, Cannes and Strasbourg on charges of preparing homemade bombs for a terrorist attack. Some of those arrested were recent converts, born into families of Christian tradition but attracted by militant Islam and perhaps involved in a recent attack on a Jewish-owned business. "France no longer recognizes its children," lamented Guillaume Roquette in an editorial in the Figaro weekly magazine. "How can the country of Victor Hugo, secularism and family reunions produce jihadists capable of attacking a kosher grocery store?"
In addition, the powerful symbol of a church becoming a mosque recalled sensitive historical precedents, such as the transformation of Hagia Sophia after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in the 15th century or, closer to home, the sight of French-built churches put to use as mosques after Algeria's independence in 1962. For Andre Beriot, who lives in the Vierzon suburb of Marmagne, the prospect of selling off Saint-Eloi's for conversion into a mosque was just another sign of what he views as a swift decline of French civilization due to the influx of immigrants, many of them Muslim, over the past four decades. "In spite of 2,000 years of history, in spite of a strong cement made of its Christian roots and its Greco-Latin culture, it will have taken only two generations to undermine the foundations in an almost irreversible way," he wrote in a letter to the editor in Le Berry Republican. "The French nation now feels condemned to adapt to outside civilizations . . . our leaders have imposed on us an immigration that they were unable or unwilling to control."
Andre Rodier, a Vierzon resident, said many people here are buzzing "all over the place" about the prospective sale of Saint-Eloi's, but not openly, out of fear they might be considered anti-Muslim. In a telephone conversation, he said the best solution would be for city hall to buy the property and then hold a referendum on what should be done with it. A recreation center would be one good idea, he suggested. Vierzon's unease with the role of Muslims in its society is shared by many in France, and elsewhere in Europe. A poll in February showed 77 percent of Dutch people, 75 percent of Germans, 68 percent of French and 65 percent of Britons thought Muslims were having trouble integrating into the European societies where they had elected to live.
Against that background, Cardinal Peter Turkson, a Ghanaian, showed a U.S.-made video at a recent Roman Catholic synod in Rome warning that declining birthrates among Christian women raised the risk that Muslim minorities might become dominant in Europe over the next several decades. A group of Vierzon's Muslim faithful, exiting the small Rahma Mosque after evening prayers, said they indeed had visited Saint-Eloi's, which is on the market for about $200,000, and had discussed buying the building to accommodate a growing community for Friday prayers. But a Rahma stalwart, who wanted to be identified only as Mimoune, said the idea went nowhere because the community does not have the money needed and little chance of raising it.
One difficulty facing Vierzon's Muslims, residents pointed out, is that they are divided into Moroccan, Algerian and Turkish groups that do not easily work together. Another is that Europe's economic crisis has hit hard in Vierzon, among Muslims as well as others, and many have been laid off from jobs in the automotive parts factories that used to be the local mainstay. In addition, according to residents, Muslim leaders have pulled back since even the vague prospect of their interest in the church produced questioning on a national scale. "We talked about it among ourselves, like that, but nothing was ever decided," Mimoune added. "But why is everybody so concerned about Saint-Eloi's? Because Muslims might buy it?"
© The Independent
Far right protesters storm an unfinished mosque in western France
20/10/2012- Dozens of far right extremists stormed atop an unfinished mosque in western France on Saturday to show their hostility toward it and denounce immigration that has brought millions of Muslims into the country, a regional official said. About 70 protesters traveled from around France for Saturday morning’s demonstration in the city of Poitiers, which has symbolic meaning as the place where a French medieval ruler once drove away Arab invaders, regional prefect Yves Dassonville said by phone. After police arrived, the protesters dispersed without resistance — and three were detained to face accusations of “incitement of racial hatred” and damage to property, he said. French TV broadcast images of dozens of rowdy, waving and chanting protesters on the mosque roof next to its minaret. They unfurled a banner that read “Generation Identitaire” and demanded a referendum on immigration and mosques. The banner also bore the number 732, which Dassonville said was a reference to the year when the army of medieval French leader Charles Martel stopped an Arab invasion in Poitiers.
Muslim leaders said the protesters had disrupted a prayer inside, and expressed incomprehension over the stunt. “We are thunderstruck ... these are people who are stuck in the year 732, and who don’t see that the world has changed,” Poitiers imam El Haj Boubaker told France’s BFM-TV. “People can live differently than in a mindset of war and conflict.” France is home to Western Europe’s largest population of Muslims, estimated to be at least 5 million even though the government does not provide official figures. Many have family roots in former French colonies in northern Africa. French governments for years have struggled to integrate Muslims, who often pray in cellars, apartments and, at times, in the street because of a shortage of mosques in the country. Dassonville said the completion of the Poitiers mosque has lagged for years because of ongoing troubles the Muslim community has had in drumming up needed financing. He said he was assembling an interfaith meeting of Jewish, Catholic and Muslim leaders in the city Saturday to show unity in the face of the far right demonstration. Interior Minister Manuel Valls denounced a “hateful and inadmissible provocation” by the extremists.
© The Associated Press
Headlines 19 October, 2012
'Immigrants Sub-Humans' says neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Female MP as Police Collusion Row Intensifies
Greece’s Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias has threatened to sue The Guardian over the allegations of torture against Greek police.
19/10/2012- A Golden Dawn MP sparked a wave of criticism after she referred to immigrants as "sub-humans" carrying "all sorts of diseases," during a parliamentary session in Athens. Meanwhile Greece top security officer denied allegations of collusion between police and the neo-Nazi party. Eleni Zaroulia, the wife of the Golden Dawn leader Nikos Michaloliakos, ranted against immigrants, as the parliament was discussing a law to grant vote to Greeks living abroad. Zaroulia lashed out complaining that immigrants in Greece have the right to vote in local elections, while Greeks abroad still have to return to their homeland to cast a ballot, as they are not allowed to do so via mail or other means. "It is unacceptable that they [Greeks abroad] are assimilated to this kind of sub-humans who have invaded our fatherland with the all sorts of diseases that they lug around," she said triggering the loud support of the other 17 golden dawn MPs that were elected in June, news agency Ana reported. Zaroulia is a member of the Greek parliament delegation to Strasbourg's Council of Europe's Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination.
Growing Racist Violence
Apart from xenophobic rhetoric, Golden Dawn extremists have been recently involved in a series number of race-related attacks on immigrants and human rights activists. In September, a flag-waving Golden Dawn supporters raided a street market in northeast Athens, asking migrants to show their passports and overturning their stalls to leave space for Greek vendors. Earlier this month, members of the neo-Nazi party, which has seen its popularity surge 12 per cent, stormed the opening night of the play Corpus Christi at a theatre in central Athens, as the piece by US author Terrence McNally, depicts Jesus as gay. According to human activists and left political groups, many of Golden Dawn's violent actions happen with the tacit approval of police. Anti-fascist demonstrators rallying in support of Greek immigrants in central Athens earlier this month, claimed to have been tortured and abused, after being arrested by police. Other Athenians had said that police was also referring the victims of crimes allegedly committed by immigrants to seek retribution from the violent neo-Nazis. As part of the government's spending review police numbers and funds have been reduced.
Minister threats to sue The Guardian
First reported by The Guardian, the claims have been denied by Greek authorities. Greece's Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias told the parliament that he intends to sue the British newspaper, Ekathimerini reported. Interviewed by the Financial Times, Dendias admitted that some police officers may be sympathetic to Golden Dawn, but rebutted accusation of collusion with the neo-Nazis. "We are looking at uncharted grounds. We are not familiar with it. The police are not familiar with it. But they are making huge efforts to contain it," Dendias said, arguing that security forces are better at containing leftist demonstrations, such as that against the visit to Athens of German chancellor Angela Merkel, since they have been doing it for decades while Neo-Nazis are new phenomenon to Greece. In August Dendias launched a police operation, ironically named after the Greek God of hospitality Zeus Xenios, to crack down on illegal immigration, saying the country's economic plight meant it could not afford an "invasion of immigrants". 6,000 immigrants were detained. "If the irregular migrants issue is being dealt with, I think there would not be much breathing space for the neo-Nazi phenomenon," Dendias told the FT.
© The International Business Times - UK
A Fascist party in full cry. Black-shirts smashing migrants' homes. Swastikas on the streets. No, not Germany in the Thirties: Greece 2012
By Sue Reid In Athens
18/10/2012- Dressed in black shirts with faces hidden by helmets, ten men on motorbikes came to find him on a Saturday, after darkness fell. Finding the door bolted at his home in a pot-holed Athens side street, they smashed the windows, broke in and trashed the place. Then, their dirty work done, the neo-Nazi gang roared away into the hot evening. It had taken less than a minute for them to sound an ugly warning that foreigners were not welcome in Greece. Their target was Imam Shahbaz Siddiqi, a 42-year-old spiritual leader of the Greek capital’s 500,000 Muslims. ‘I was at the mosque praying when they searched for me the other night,’ he told me yesterday. ‘I thank God for that, or else I might now be dead. ‘During the night I went three times to the police station to report the break-in. At the desk I was told that the officers did not have time to investigate my complaint. They were too busy. There is one law for the Greek people and another for us immigrants.’ The attack on Imam Siddiqi is the latest racist outrage by neo-Nazis in a country riddled with xenophobia. In an era of crushing debt and poverty, the immigrant is blamed for almost every Greek ill.
On the same weekend, a young Pakistani immigrant, Hussein Abbas, was viciously attacked outside his home in Elefsina on the outskirts of Athens by the men in dark shirts. He ended up in hospital, his face smashed to a bloody pulp. So dangerous are the streets for foreigners that the U.S. State Department has sent out a warning to dark-skinned American visitors that they must be careful of their safety when they leave their hotels. A shocking internet video shows leaders of the anti-immigrant Far-Right Golden Dawn party — which has 18 MPs — marching into an ethnic street market at Rafina, an hour’s drive from Athens, destroying the stalls with wooden clubs and scattering the merchandise to the ground. ‘We found a few illegal immigrants selling their wares without permits,’ says Giorgos Germenis, one of the party’s MPs. ‘We did what our party has to do and then went to church to pay respects to the Madonna.’ Of course, it is not just immigrants who are subject to the fury of the Greek masses. Last week German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Athens to taunts from 50,000 protesters, many waving swastikas and dressed in Nazi uniforms.
There were banners proclaiming ‘From Hitler to Merkel’, which harked back to the hated Nazi occupation of Greece during World War II — and which surely made a mockery of the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the EU last week. The German Chancellor, too, is blamed for the social turmoil crippling this country, which faces further austerity cutbacks on her orders and those of eurozone finance ministers. The descent of Greece into chaos could not be more different from the halcyon days after the country joined the European Union 31 years ago, and then milked the system for all its worth. Early retirement, generous state-paid pensions, countless millions on the public payroll and institutionalised tax fraud were a way of life. Hairdressers, for example, were listed among the 600 ‘professions’ allowed to retire at 50 with a state pension of 95 per cent of their final year’s earnings on account of the ‘arduous and perilous’ nature of their work. Now the big, fat EU gravy train has hit the buffers, drastic austerity measures mean pay rates and pensions have been slashed and taxes are going sky high in a frantic bid to balance the books. The retirement age is to be raised to 67.
Greece is in its fifth consecutive year of recession, something that no European country has endured in the past 65 years, except in wartime. Half of the young are jobless and a third of stores in Athens have closed. And yet the EU is demanding a further £12 billion of spending cuts before they will hand over another emergency bailout of £35 billion to stop the country going bankrupt. Soup kitchens are feeding once well-to-do Athenians and homeless hostels are full of the middle class who have been forced to sell their homes and are struggling to take in what has befallen them so fast. Little wonder there is such anger on the streets. Some speculate that civil breakdown and the unravelling of democracy in Greece may be just around the corner. Last week as Chancellor Merkel visited, protests were outlawed in Athens. No one took the slightest notice of the rules, as Molotov cocktails were hurled by rioters at police guarding parliament and ordinary people cheered them on. It is from this cauldron of bewilderment and fury that the neo- Nazis and their triumphant party, Golden Dawn, have emerged with such sudden popularity.
As 71-year-old Doukas Thanassis, queuing for lentils in a smart grey suit at a church-run soup kitchen in central Athens, told me defiantly: ‘I voted for the party. They are the only ones who help us in this time of trouble. ‘Every Wednesday you can buy the party’s newspaper at the local street kiosk. It prints a list of places where Golden Dawn hand out food and even medicines to the Greek people. They pay for ambulances to take us to hospital if we are ill.’ Mr Thanassis, the former head chef on a Greek cruise line who lives in a homeless hostel, adds: ‘These free gifts are only for us Greeks, not for foreigners. The meat in the sandwiches they give us is pork so the Muslim migrants don’t come and scrounge it. These foreigners shouldn’t be here anyway.’ Beside him, others in the queue nod approvingly. Even Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, leader of the New Democracy party (Centre Right) running an unruly coalition with Left-wingers, blames Greece’s woes on ‘waves of illegal immigrants’ from Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and north and sub-Saharan Africa, who smuggle themselves over the Turkish border for a new life. Mr Samaras says that with 1.5 million recent arrivals in a country of 11 million Greeks, the immigrants are ‘creating extremism’ and feeding the extraordinary popularity of Golden Dawn.
When I visited Greece in May, Golden Dawn was a name that was barely whispered. Today the party has a foothold in parliament — with 18 of the 300 seats — and talk of the neo-Nazi party’s popularity is on everyone’s lips. In cafes, taxis and bars, Greeks of all ages and social backgrounds discuss the latest official poll prediction that Golden Dawn would claim 22 per cent of the vote — rather than the 6.9 per cent it garnered in June’s national poll — if a general election were called tomorrow. Almost a quarter of those under 25 support the party. If the same political swing was happening in Britain, it would mean that 60 Parliamentary seats would be in the hands of extreme Right-wingers. ‘And don’t compare these people to the British National Party or the English Defence League,’ a Greek professor warned recently. ‘They make the BNP look like Julie Andrews.’ It is an open secret that a Greek who thinks he has a problem with migrants can call a special number at Golden Dawn to get their brutal style of help.
I was told the disturbing story of an Athenian lady of 60 whose central city apartment with wood floors and fine drapes was taken over by Pakistani and Bangladeshi squatters while she visited her family in Crete. She returned to find the door barred and graffiti at the entrance to the block telling the owner to stay away. She called the special number. A man on the line told her to stay with friends for a week and everything would be all right, so she took the advice. Seven days on, she went back to her apartment. The place was empty of the interlopers. The curtains had been cleaned, the floor polished, and she moved back in. Urban myth, ethnic cleansing or proof that Golden Dawn gets things done? Many Greeks prefer to believe the last of these. As 54-year-old Agnes Bakas, sitting in the sun at a coffee bar in Attika Square, Athens, said: ‘Every Athenian knows Golden Dawn will send their people to help a Greek.’ On the white wall behind her, a Nazi swastika is painted and the kiosk selling newspapers under the trees is a known meeting place for young Golden Dawn supporters who gather menacingly with their motorbikes and black shirts. But this does not bother Agnes. She says: ‘This square was full of immigrants, but Golden Dawn cleared them out. I was robbed seven times before that near my home down the road. Even my necklace was pulled from me by an African. I could not have sat here safely, even in the day, a year ago.’
Whatever the accuracy of her story, Golden Dawn has taken full advantage of claims of immigrant crime. The party has widespread support among the rank-and-file Greek police (the Golden Dawn vote soared at the polling booths near police stations in Athens) and peddles the line that 37 Greeks have been killed by immigrants in the past few years. A vicious attack and rape of a 15-year-old Greek girl by a Pakistani illegal migrant aged 23 on the island of Paros this summer played into the party’s hands. The Pakistani admitted the crime and the girl, battered over the head with a rock, is still in intensive care in a hospital near her home in Athens. Academics in Greece warn of disturbing parallels between the rise of the Right today in an economically crippled country indebted to the EU and the rise of the Nazis in the Thirties after hyper-inflation in Germany’s Weimar Republic led to economic collapse.
Between the wars, you may recall, an indebted Germany was forced to make huge reparation payments to the victorious Allies of the Great War as a punishment for starting the conflict. The German people felt humiliated, just as the Greeks feel hostile to their eurozone masters and Mrs Merkel today. The Nazis claimed their first parliamentary seats even as they were garnering the local support of Germans by sending out gangs of ‘storm troopers’ to terrorise Jewish and immigrant communities and blame them for the troubles of the time. It sounds horribly familiar. As Nickos Dermetzis, a professor of political science at the Athens University, explains: ‘We have a major socio-economic crisis in which native Greeks are losing ground. You also have a rising number of immigrants, many illegal. ‘This is a volcanic situation where all the classic parameters for the flourishing of a Far-Right force such as Gold Dawn are present.’
Of course, it does not help that police are struggling to cope with the huge numbers of illegal immigrants arriving daily in Greece. Their sweeps of immigrants happen regularly in Athens and the port of Patras, a three-hour drive away, where a thousand immigrants doss down in disused factory buildings near the promenade. They wait, hoping to smuggle themselves on to freight and passenger ferries going to Italy. Ten days ago, 350 Afghanis, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis were picked up in Patras and put in holding centres. As one disgruntled resident, a man in his 50s living near the promenade, said: ‘They only took a few and so many are here. I am no racist, but this town used to be paradise. The police sweeps are a merry-go-round. The ones they took today will be back next week, wait and see.’ It is a viewpoint supported by Andreas Nicolacopoulos. The 59-year-old architect is a leading light in the Patras Golden Dawn party. ‘The Greek people don’t want illegal immigrants,’ he says. ‘They have to be deported to their own countries. We have to stop them coming in, too. We will lay landmines at the Turkish-Greek border to blow them up so they do not enter our country. We have promised our voters this.’
Golden Dawn also wants to make immigrant criminals serve double the prison terms of their Greek counterparts and introduce capital punishment for foreign murderers. Back in Athens, I meet Golden Dawn’s spokesman, MP Iliopoulos Panagiotis, at the Greek Parliament building. The face of this 34-year-old former internet marketing executive can be seen clearly on the video of immigrants being attacked at the market by Golden Dawn’s louts. Mr Panagiotis is in bullish form. He boasts that the party is so popular that at the next election it will be the second biggest in Greece. ‘In a few years, we expect to be the biggest of them all,’ he says. The party’s MPs arrogantly puff on cigarettes even though smoking is banned inside the parliament building. They wear black shirts with the word ‘Hooligans’ emblazoned in orange on the sleeve. They have tattoos on their arms. And on the walls are the blue flags stamped with the party’s swastika-style logo, an ancient Greek symbol. The official Golden Dawn line is that they are not Nazis, even neo-Nazis, but nationalists wanting to save Greece for the Greek.
So what does Mr Panagiotis plan for illegal immigrants? ‘We will fly every one of them home,’ he says. ‘Even Pakistan would not dare shoot our planes down when their own people are on board and would be killed.’ And what does he think of the racist Golden Dawn gangs that systematically beat up those who were not born Greek? ‘We have a million supporters, some of them wilder elements. We cannot control them all,’ he says with a smirk. It is hard to believe that his words are those of an elected MP in the Parliament of a modern democracy. Yet anything is possible now in Greece, as the unpalatable face of fascism makes an unwelcome return to Europe.
© The Daily Mail
Teacher reported for racism (Denmark)
An Odense headteacher has been reported to the police for racially abusing some of her Muslim students – Pia Kjærsgaard finds the situation ridiculous
17/10/2012- Birgitte Sonsby, a headteacher from Funen, has been reported to the police and faces disciplinary action from the council after verbally abusing a group of young immigrant boys who had behaved badly in class. The situation, which occurred about a fortnight ago, took place in the headteacher’s office at Ejerslykkeskolen School in Odense. “I’m so bloody tired of you Muslims ruining the teaching lessons,” Sonsby said to a group of immigrant boys who had found themselves in her office after being unruly in class, according to Fyens Stiftstidende newspaper. Sonsby later apologised to the families for her choice of words, but said that she didn’t believe that her outburst was racist. “A situation arose in the classroom and some children needed to be reprimanded. They started laughing at me and I lost control. I said some things that I deeply regret and I apologise,” Sonsby told Fyens Stiftstidende.
But the apology apparently wasn’t enough for Shaib Mansoor, the father of one of the kids, who has reported Sonsby to the police for racism. “This is way over the line. Of course, my son should be punished when he behaves poorly. But what she said was racist,” Mansoor told Fyens Stiftstidende. Odense Council's school inspector, Poul Anthoniussen, described Sonsby’s words as ”completely unacceptable” and has summoned her to a meeting at the council next week. Pia Kjærsgaard (Dansk Folkeparti), who stepped down as DF’s leader in the summer, showed that she was still very much alive politically, saying that the debacle had become “ridiculous”. “It’s crazy that the police have to get involved in such a case. I am so affronted on the headteacher’s behalf that she has to meet at the council, and whatever else might happen, because of this nonsense,” Kjærsgaard told Fyens Stiftstidende. “She apologised already. Anyone can say something wrong without thinking sometimes.”
© The Copenhagen Post
Serbia Adds Hate Crime to Criminal Code
NGOs welcome government move to include hate crime in draft amendments to criminal code, but regret lack of penalties.
17/10/2012- Serbia's Ministry of Justice has decided to incorporate hate crime into draft amendments to the criminal code. That draft says that if a criminal act is based on hatred for another person’s race, religion, national or ethnic background, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity, the court should take it as an aggravating circumstance. However, hate crime as an individual crime is not listed. The draft amendments also do not stipulate different penalties for crimes committed from hate. “The fact that hate crime is included is a success that we welcome. However, the fact that a crime is a hate crime is not further developed," Milan Antonijevic, from the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, YUCOM, an NGO, said. “Our aim was that the draft amendments should include a range of penalties for each crime when the fact that a crime is committed from hatred is taken as an aggravating circumstance,” he added.
In February, YUCOM and the Gay Straight Alliance, GSA, an NGO, sent out recommendations for draft amendments to the criminal code to all MPs' group leaders from the previous parliament, the Ministry of Justice and other state institutions. Boban Stojanovic, from Belgrade’s Pride Parade, also welcomed the fact that the criminal code will in future recognise hate crime, but says that some groups have been left out. “The Ministry of Justice should include other bases for hate crime, such as invalidity, education, social status, age or other personal characteristics, which are specifically mentioned in anti-discrimination law,” Stojanovic said.
© Balkan Insight
16/10/2012- A court on Monday handed down a two-year prison term to the man who assaulted András Kerényi, president of the south Pest region of the Budapest Jewish Religious Community in an overtly anti-Semitic attack on October 5. The 21-year-old man had earlier repeatedly shouted anti-Semitic remarks through the door of the Jewish prayer house in the 20th District. When he did the same on October 5 Kerényi took photographs of him with his mobile phone, prompting the man to kick Kerényi in the chest and hit him in the head. Police caught the assailant within half an hour and he was tried in a fast-track procedure on a charge of violence and causing light physical injury.
© Politics Hungary
In France, Marseille Jews look to Paris and worry that their calm may be fleeting
At a time when Jewish institutions across France resemble military fortresses for their security, entering the great synagogue and main Jewish center of this picturesque city on the Mediterranean coast is as easy as pushing open the front door.
17/10/2012- The only obstacles on a recent Sunday were 20 children scampering around on their break from Hebrew school. That same day in Paris, prosecutors announced that they may never catch all the known 10 members of a domestic, jihadist network described by French authorities as “very dangerous” and responsible for detonating a grenade in a kosher store near Paris last month. Days earlier, French Jewry’s security unit, the SPCJ, reported a 45 percent rise in anti-Semitic attacks this year, mostly by Muslims -- part of an “explosion” of incidents after the March 19 killings of three children and a rabbi in Toulouse by a French-born Muslim extremist. Terrorists may try to infiltrate synagogues on reconnaissance missions, SPCJ also warned recently. Yet while the 350,000 Jews in and around Paris -- more than any other city in Europe -- have seen violent convulsions with increasing frequency, Jews here in France’s second-largest Jewish community have enjoyed relative calm. But many of the 80,000 or so Jews who live in relative peace next to an estimated 250,000 Arabs in this seaside city of 800,000 worry that things could get worse.
In Marseille, Jewish leaders and laymen say they wear their kipahs without fear of attack, offering varying explanations for how the peace is maintained: Some cite interfaith dialogue, others point to geographic segregation and a few make mention of the deterrent threat of Jewish gangsters. From 2009 to 2011, there were twice as many anti-Semitic attacks per capita in Paris proper than in Marseille, according to an analysis of 1,397 incidents recorded by SPCJ. Only 59 attacks were registered here in those years, compared to 340 in Paris proper. Michele Teboul, the regional representative of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities, says these relatively low figures are part of “the miracle of Marseille.” She credits mainly the work of an interfaith dialogue group that the municipality established in 1991. But Teboul, a businesswoman and mother of three, is worried that this effect is wearing off as “mosques continue to preach hatred” and the city’s Jewish and Muslim communities drift apart physically and mentally.
Elie Berrebi, director of Marseille’s Central Jewish Consistory -- the institution responsible for administering religious services for French Jews -- describes the presence of “a small but well-positioned” Jewish mafia as a deterrent to would-be Muslim aggressors, saying that attacking Jews here carries special risks. “It’s a well-known secret that this community has its own gangsters,” he said. “Not many, but in powerful positions in that world. They speak the language of the other side’s criminals.” Approximately 50 Jewish gangsters from Marseille are currently in jail, where the Jewish community offers them what services it can, according to Berrebi. One of them, identified only as Daniel S., was the subject of a feature published in August by the French weekly Marianne titled the “The revival of the Jewish Mafia.” Bruno Benjamin, president of the Marseille Jewish community, dismisses the Jewish gangster theory. “The Arabs have many more gangsters,” he said.
In 2002, Marseille saw the first synagogue arson attributed to anti-Semitism since World War II when the northern Or Aviv shul was burnt to the ground. “Since the early 2000s, we’ve been seeing long periods of calm interrupted by eruptions of anti-Semitism,” Berrebi said. Jews in Marseille’s northern parts “have been hit pretty hard,” he said, since the early 2000s, when anti-Semitic attacks spiked in France. Since then, the city’s Jewish population has gravitated away from the center and northern Marseilles in favor of middle-class neighborhoods in the city’s south, which Berrebi describes as safer. Approximately 80 percent of Marseille’s Jews now live in that part of town, he says. Arab families also are migrating from the center northward and eastward to working-class areas. The separation is a mixed blessing, Berrebi says. While it insulates Jewish families from potential Muslim aggressors, “it means that there is a new generation growing up without knowing Jews, with a strong us-versus-them notion,” he said. Berrebi arrived here as a boy in 1967. Like 90 percent of Marseille’s Jews, his family emigrated from North Africa shortly after the Maghreb -- Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia -- gained independence from France in the 1950s. Arabs also came in large numbers and settled in the same neighborhoods as the Jews. “We used to live together. My generation and the previous one had a lot of commercial exchange with the Arabs,” he said. This familiarity prevented hate crimes, he said, “but the younger generations have lost it.”
Meanwhile, one of Marseille’s biggest problems is unemployment -- 30 percent above the national average in 2012 -- and the accompanying crime. In 2011, some 26 physical assaults occurred here daily, and armed robbery rose by 40 percent from 2010, according to police statistics. Lawlessness always seems to be nearby, with ethnic tensions roiling just beneath the surface. In July, what began on the street as a robbery ended in rape and assault after the perpetrator -- a Muslim man whom authorities judged to be mentally unsound -- saw his elderly victim’s mezuzah on the front doorway of her home, according to her account. On Saturday, a convoy of seven reckless drivers raced down Rue Paradis, near the city’s great synagogue. In one car, women ululated while the driver swerved violently in consecutive hand-brake skids. In another, five men shouted and waved the Algerian flag. A passing police car only provoked them to intensify their conduct, then passed them.
Benjamin, Marseille’s Jewish community president, credited the non-confrontational approach of city authorities in the predominantly Arab neighborhoods with keeping things quiet. “Some of the relative peace here owes to police not kicking those hornets’ nests,” he said. Other members of the community praise Marseille Mayor Jean-Claude Gaudin’s “declaredly pro-Israel” attitude. “It sets the tone and discourages pro-Palestinian sentiment from turning anti-Semitic,” Berrebi said. Even so, when Berrebi’s daughter wanted to move to Israel, he said he did not try to dissuade her. “There’s a growing realization we won’t be able to stay here indefinitely,” he said. Jean-Jaques Zenou, 40, is the president of Radio JM, the area’s Jewish radio station. The Marseille native says he wishes his five children would immigrate to Israel. “Even in Marseille, I get frightened when I stop to compare our reality to that of the 1990s,” he told JTA. “We have terrorist networks, a very strong far right. And what happened in Toulouse.” Zenou says the community “may be behaving naively” by sufficing with relatively lax security arrangements. “After all," he said, "it’s not like the Jewish community of Toulouse ever expected what happened there.”
© JTA News
Muslims tied to violence directed at Jews in France
The gunshots outside a synagogue and the grenade that shattered the windows of a kosher grocery spread fear into the streets – but caused little surprise.
14/10/2012- Jews across France say anti-Semitic threats have escalated since a deadly assault on a Jewish school in the southwestern town of Toulouse this spring. The attack on the grocery store in the Paris suburb of Sarcelles and the shooting outside the synagogue in nearby Argenteuil came in late September. In all cases, police suspect Muslim extremists. The Toulouse attacker was a Frenchman trained by Islamist terrorists. Anti-terrorist police killed one man and arrested 11 in raids this month against an Islamist cell suspected in the Sarcelles attack. French Jews believe the danger comes from radical messages that appeal to young Muslims in France who are unemployed, angry, alienated and looking for someone to blame.
France has struggled to address the problem head-on because of the social sensitivities. President Francois Hollande has promised the head of an umbrella group of Muslim organizations that the government would not stigmatize all Muslims for anti-Semitic acts committed by a radical fringe. Interior Minister Manuel Valls urged respect for all religions in a country that has Western Europe’s largest Jewish and Muslim communities. France has about 5 million Jews and 500,000 Muslims. “These are not terrorist networks that come from outside. They are from our neighborhoods,” Mr. Valls said on the TF1 television network.
Haunted by the Holocaust
The French government remains haunted by its complicity in sending tens of thousands of French Jews to their deaths in the Holocaust. Two days after the Sarcelles attack, Mr. Hollande traveled to a place used during World War II as a transit point for people destined for concentration camps. Anti-Semitic groups “don’t have the same face as yesterday, but they have the same goal,” he said. The recent attacks have unsettled Jews, many of whom thought that anti-Semitism had faded since the 1980s when members of the far-right fringe tipped over gravestones and defaced synagogues with graffiti. “Anti-Semitism previously came from the extreme right, and the movements expressed their attitudes toward Jews with posters, words, perhaps by desecrating a cemetery,” said Yossi Malka, a Moroccan Jew who settled in Sarcelles in the 1980s. “Today, we have an anti-Semitism that doesn’t end with words but goes into the realm of action.”
© The Washington Times
Jewish man attacked in Paris, amid reported rise in France anti-Semitism
French anti-Semitism watchdog says recent pattern of incidents point at assault of 52-year-old on subway was 'in all likelihood' an anti-Semitic attack.
14/10/2012- A Jewish man was attacked and rendered unconscious in a Paris metro, a local watchdog reported on Sunday. The 52-year-old victim entered the subway directly from his synagogue but wore no markings that would identify him as Jewish, according to a report on the late September incident by the National Bureau of Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA, a nonprofit watchdog organization. The incident occurred on the eve of Rosh Hashanah. He may have been targeted because of a Jewish philosophy book by the chief rabbi of Paris that he was reading in the metro when he was attacked, the report said.
The attackers, who are unknown, knocked the man unconscious with a sharp blow to his temple and did not steal anything from him as he lay unconscious on the subway floor. He sustained minor injuries. A female passenger found the man lying on the floor and moved him out of the vehicle at Miromesnil station, near Champs-Elysees. “It is clear from the pattern of incidents we are seeing that this was in all likelihood an anti-Semitic attack,” BNVCA President Sammy Ghozlan told JTA. Last week, the security unit of France’s Jewish community, SPCJ, reported a 45 percent rise in anti-Semitic incidents during the first eight months of 2012 in comparison with their 2011 level of 266 incidents. SPCJ also reported three separate attacks that occurred during the High Holidays.
© JTA News
Big Fat Gypsy Weddings 'has increased bullying of Gypsies and Travellers' (UK)
Education expert says Channel 4 series has led to 'physical and sexual assault, racist abuse' and harmed children's self-esteem
16/10/2012- Channel 4's Big Fat Gypsy Weddings series has been blamed for an increase in bullying and negative stereotyping of the Gypsy and Traveller communities. Educational consultant Brian Foster said there was "no question" in his mind that the Channel 4 series and its controversial poster campaign – featuring the strapline "Bigger. Fatter. Gypsier" – had caused "real, measurable and long-term harm". Foster, who chairs the advisory council for the education of Romanies and other Travellers, is also a trustee of the Irish Traveller Movement in Britain (ITMB). He was commissioned by law firm Howe and Co, which represented the ITMB's complaint against the Channel 4 ad campaign, to consider the impact of the show in its evidence to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). Foster said in his report: "That harm is on a number of levels, including physical and sexual assault, racist abuse and bullying, misinformation and hostile questioning, resulting in damage to the self-esteem of children and withdrawal from school. "Evidence drawn from practitioners across the country presents a consistent picture that the Big Fat Gypsy Weddings programmes have significantly contributed to racist bullying and abuse of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children in schools."
Arthur Ivatts, an expert in the education of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities who worked as a senior policy adviser to the Department for Education for more than 30 years, was also commissioned by Howe and Co to provide evidence to the ASA. "There is no doubt in my professional opinion that this advertising campaign has seriously damaged and harmed Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities and caused harm (physical, mental and emotional) to very many GR&T children," he said in his report. "Supposing the posters had said, 'Bigger, Fatter, Blacker'? Hopefully this example illustrates the point being made here in this report." The Channel 4 ad campaign was criticised by the ASA earlier this month. The watchdog ruled that it depicted a 15-year-old child in a sexualised way, reinforced negative stereotypes and said Channel 4 had acted "irresponsibly". The broadcaster has apologised for any offence it caused. It has said the big-rating show will not return for a third series but a number of specials are expected to air next year.
© The Guardian
Transgender community's appeal over NI hate crime laws (Northern Ireland)
A vulnerable group of people, the transgender community, is excluded from hate crime laws in Northern Ireland.
16/10/2012- The police have been recording incidents against them since 2007, but there is no law to prosecute anyone who targets them because of their identity. Stormont Justice Minister David Ford has promised a review of the implementation of hate crime laws following a report which questioned how effective they are. England, Wales and Scotland have all amended their hate crime laws to include transgender. The transgender community in Northern Ireland is small, but growing. Transgender is when someone feels as though their visible gender does not match how they feel inside. It is not a mental illness but a biological condition influenced by pre-natal development.
Vicky Garrett, from Saintfield, County Down, always knew she was "different". "About 18 years ago I came out as gay, as a gay man, and not realising in my own head I had confused sexual orientation and gender identity," Vicky said. "I wasn't even aware that there was an issue there. "The more I asked questions about transgender the more I realised actually this is me - I had completely misread the way I'm feeling inside. "I realised it was my own gender I was unhappy with so I took a huge step and went to my GP." Two years ago, Victoria changed her name and started "transition", the process of treatment to change her physical gender. She says she has been lucky, her family and friends have been extremely supportive.
However, others have not been so tolerant. "A few years ago I was in Belfast city centre, eight guys in two cars boxed me in - I called the police and they told me to stay in the car but I was absolutely terrified," Vicky said. "One of the men then exposed himself.
"There was a prosecution but it was a terrible experience, some of the questions I was asked in court were awful. "I was then asked how I would like the punishment to proceed. "I couldn't believe it." Vicky would like to see the police and the justice system take transgender more seriously. "They have to realise that transphobic hate crimes are a very real thing," Vicky said. "They may not be reported, there may not be the paperwork there but it doesn't mean it's any less real. "It's just the people it happens to don't necessarily have the courage to put themselves forward. "Transgender people want to be like anyone else, get up and go to work and be active members of society and as such we want to be treated with the respect everyone else gets. "We don't want to get people hollering at us in the middle of the street and really slandering us and defaming us every step of the way - and trying to go through a court system that didn't want to know how to handle it."
© BBC News
Hate crime: How effective is Northern Ireland legislation?
Racism, homophobia, sectarianism are just three motivations for hate crime. There are also crimes against disabled people and the transgender community.
15/10/2012- Northern Ireland has had hate crime legislation to help protect vulnerable groups since 2004. But a new report casts doubt on how effective the legislation is. The Institute for Conflict Research, based in Belfast, compiled figures which show 13,655 hate motivated incidents were reported to the police in the last five years. That includes everything from serious cases like murder through to damage to property and name-calling. The report found that out of almost 14,000 complaints only 12 cases were successfully prosecuted using the 2004 legislation. That doesn't mean the crimes aren't being prosecuted at all. It means the hate element is being dropped somewhere along the line - and the crime then goes to court as murder or assault without the hate motivation being included. So why does it matter if some still result in a conviction? The Northern Ireland Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (NIACRO) commissioned the report.
Its director of adult services, Pat Conway, is worried hate crime is not being taken seriously enough throughout the criminal justice system: "I think they need to take the views of victims and the experience of victims much more seriously. "I think it's good that in the past five years there were 13 or 14,000 people who reported what they perceived as hate crime attacks to the police and the police recorded that. But I think the recording of those incidents needs to be drilled down and examined a lot more. "The criminal justice system right across the board needs to ask if they need to be taking hate-motivated crime more seriously than they have done to date." The report poses a series of questions - is there a difference in how the police investigate hate crime? Are victims less willing to work with the police? Is hate crime treated as less of priority? They also compare how often hate crime legislation is used in other jurisdictions and Northern Ireland falls short of Scotland, England and Wales.
The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) says there's a high burden of proof in hate crime legislation and it's difficult to show beyond reasonable doubt that a crime was motivated by hatred. Ronnie McCarey, temporary assistant senior director in charge of case work, said: "These are dreadful crimes and the PPS is absolutely committed to making sure where the evidence is available those who committed those offences are brought before the courts to be dealt with." "I looked at research in relation to 2011 and the police sent us in excess of 750 cases. We prosecuted in 86% of those cases." But he said they will look again at their procedures. "All of those cases that you're talking about, all those cases that are giving rise to concern in that area are going to be individually examined to see what has happened," he said. "Maybe it's a recording issue, maybe we weren't able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the offence was aggravated by hostility, or maybe it's a case of where we should have said it was aggravated by hostility and didn't do it - but until we look at those cases we're not going to be able to be sure - so that's a process we're undertaking at the moment."
Justice Minister David Ford has also promised a review of the figures.
© BBC News
Roma in Hungary feel persecuted but they have nowhere to turn
13/10/2012- They called themselves a neighbourhood watch. On March 1, 2011, at least 2,000 members of a right-wing paramilitary group called the Civil Guard Association for a Better Future rolled into this sleepy former coal-mining village 80 kilometres east of Budapest. Wearing black uniforms and hats, they pledged to help police maintain law and order and stamp out “Gypsy criminality.” About 450 of Gyongyospata’s 2,800 residents are Roma, members of a nomadic tribe believed to have immigrated to Europe from northern India perhaps a thousand years ago. With their dark skin and cloistered culture, Roma have struggled to fit in across the continent. The paramilitary members lingered in front of Roma homes in Gyongyospata with snarling dogs, lit torches and whips. They waved red and white flags similar to those flown by the Arrow Cross Party — Nazi sympathizers — during World War II. “Dirty Gypsies! We should exterminate all the Roma and their children,” one paramilitary member screamed in a scene that was captured on mobile phone video and later showed to a visitor.
Perhaps more remarkable than the outpouring of hate was the reaction of police and the Hungarian government — silence. The activists who tracked the event say the paramilitaries were ignored by authorities for more than a month. The government said nothing. Another paramilitary group called Vedero arrived in mid-April, its members wearing camouflage fatigues and red berets. It promised to set up a training camp a stone’s throw from a row of Roma homes. Vedero’s leaders invited Hungarian teens to show up with pellet guns and boxing gloves. “We were terrified,” says Janos Berki, 42, a Roma and father of four who has lived in Gyongyospata his whole life. “The paramilitaries followed us when we took our kids to school, screaming at us and threatening us. It got so bad that we sent the kids away to stay with relatives in another village.”
On April 22, after nearly two months of inaction by police, the Hungarian Red Cross arrived with six buses and evacuated 277 Roma women and children. Even as Hungary’s government promised to ban uniformed marches by paramilitary groups, government spokesman Peter Szijjarto was quoted in media reports calling reports of an evacuation “a bald-faced lie.” Zoltan Balog, a justice ministry official, said the Roma were on “a scheduled holiday” for Easter. Gyongyospata is not an isolated case. In August, paramilitary groups descended on the towns of Cegled and Devecser, where they threw rocks and cement blocks through the windows of Roma homes. Back in Gyongyospata, a Roma home was firebombed in March. Two young Roma men were attacked in July while walking home from a family gathering. “The (paramilitaries) have never left,” said Berki’s wife Aniko. “They follow me when I’m in the streets with my 2-year-old and tell me they are going to cut my throat.”
If he could afford it, Berki would come to Canada. But Canada’s government doesn’t believe the vast majority of Hungarian Roma are in imminent danger. Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has said most Roma travel to Canada to exploit social programs, including welfare, subsidized public housing, health care, the low-income tax rebate and the child-tax benefit. When they’re done taking advantage, the Roma return to Hungary, he said. “It’s naive to say we haven’t created a pull factor by having all these benefits,” Kenney said in an interview, though he couldn’t put a specific cash value on the buffet of benefits. In 2011, 4,427 of 24,416 new Canadian refugee cases were from Hungary, up from 2,300 a year earlier, according to the Immigration and Refugee Board. More claimants now come to Canada from Hungary than any other country.
Those numbers are about shrink. Under the Balanced Refugee Reform Act, which passed in 2010, Kenney’s ministry has been working on a so-called safe list, officially known as a designated country of origin list. Asylum seekers from countries on the list — which would include the U.S. and U.K., as well as Hungary and other nations that haven’t historically produced large numbers of refugees — would see their refugee claims rushed through the system within weeks. Kenney is expected to unveil the list of safe countries this fall. Would-be refugees from those countries would have only 15 days to file a personal information form outlining their claim instead of the current 30 days. And they would have to prepare for a hearing in 30 days, instead of the several months they now have. “It’s setting people up for failure right from the get-go,” says Gina Csanyi-Robah, head of the Roma Community Centre in Toronto. “There’s just no way. . . you can get supporting documentation like medical and police reports in that time. You have to order these from these countries. Try to get it from the U.S. and it’ll take you more than six weeks. Now you want it in less than 15 days from Hungary? Come on. Do you think these people are going to get any co-operation from Hungary, where people say Roma are giving their country a bad name?”
Human-rights lawyers and advocates say Kenney’s proposed changes will create a two-tiered asylum system. They say Kenney is responding to public sentiments after a handful of recent high-profile criminal cases stained the reputation of the 40,000 Roma who now live in Canada. In April, Ferenc Domotor, a Roma from Papa, Hungary, was sentenced to 12 years in prison in connection with Canada’s largest-ever human trafficking ring. Domotor and his family and friends conspired to bring as many as 19 people from Hungary and forced them to claim refugee status, apply for welfare and work construction jobs from dawn until dusk, surviving on table scraps. The sensational case resulted in the arrest of seven Hungarian-Canadian Roma. In September, Durham police announced they had smashed a “Roma crime ring,” arresting 34 people, many of whom had been similarly recruited and guided through the process of claiming refugee status. “The truth is that there are professional Roma,” Csanyi-Robah said. “There are some people who because of their circumstances have learned to live in a deviant way. The same way there are Roma who are engineers, teachers and lawyers and journalists, there are also some who steal.”
Peter Showler , chair of the Immigration and Refugee Board from 1999 to 2002, says the influx of Roma into Canada reminds him of the early 1990s when Russian Jews were arriving by the thousands. “Many Jews couldn’t find employment (in Russia), were spit on in the streets and had problems with access to education. Even though some Jews were well-to-do and living in Moscow, you still had a large number accepted as refugees in Canada from 1993 to 1995. “Persecution is an animal with 1,000 faces,” added Showler, who now teaches law at the University of Ottawa. “It can be when there is cumulative persecution, when there’s so much on the plate at one time but each instance isn’t enough on its own.” Showler said the IRB accepts that a refugee applicant is persecuted if they are “unable or unwilling to return due to a well-founded fear of persecution. The fear part is subjective and the well-founded part is objective. In other words, your fear may be genuine but there needs to be some objective basis.”
While the Canadian government says the vast majority of Roma refugee claims are withdrawn, abandoned or rejected, 18.7 per cent of cases that made it to a hearing last year were approved. Of the 1,990 cases finalized in 2011 involving Hungarian refugee claimants — the Canadian government doesn’t distinguish between Roma and non-Roma Hungarian claimants — 848 were withdrawn, 256 were abandoned, 720 were rejected and 166 were approved. “Hungary, like almost all countries, has a constitution that guarantees protection but the question is how it works on the ground,” Showler said. “The police there just don’t give protection.” There were only 24 refugee claims from Hungary in 2007, but that number began to climb the following year after Canada yielded to pressure from the European Union to end visa requirements for new EU countries. Hungary joined the EU in 2004.
Canada began to require visas from those traveling from the Czech Republic (a non-EU country) in 2009 after 95 Czech Roma landed at Pearson International Airport claiming refugee status. But Canada is currently negotiating a free-trade agreement with the EU, which diplomats and economists say would probably collapse if Canada introduced a visa program for Hungarians. Kenney has said Hungarian Roma ought to consider moving to other countries if they feel endangered. For instance, he says Roma have freedom of movement within the European Union. “Kenney makes completely false statements here,” Showler said. “The truth is that as a citizen of an EU country, Roma have temporary residence rights for three months. They have the right to seek employment. But in most other European countries they face the same discrimination and backlash that they do in Hungary.” That leaves countries such as Australia, the U.S. and Canada. Australia is more than twice as far and expensive to travel to from Hungary. The U.S. requires pre-approval from the Department of Homeland Security for travelers who fly without a visa. That helps make Canada a preferred destination for Hungarian refugee claimants.
After the fall of communism in 1989, Hungary thrived through the 1990s. Foreign investment poured in. By the end of 2001, every second Hungarian owned a cell phone, making it one of Europe’s fastest-growing mobile markets. Most Roma, however, did not share in the good fortune. Roma struggled after the Soviet industries began to close, putting them out of work. Some even pined for the days of communism. Then, in 2008, Hungary, like many of its neighbours, plunged into recession. Its national airline collapsed, social programs were cut and taxes were raised. In 2010, the government took $14.6 billion from the pension plans of Hungarian companies to pay down its debt. As voter anguish grew, the right-of-centre Fidesz Party promised to rekindle the economy and repair the reputation of Hungary’s parliament, which was tarnished after former prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsany admitted in a secretly taped speech that his governing Socialist Party had misled voters before the 2006 elections by saying there was no need for austerity measures. “We lied in the morning, we lied in the evening,” Gyurcsany said on the leaked recording.
After Gyurcsany resigned in 2009, Fidesz needed another common enemy to blame for their country’s struggles. They seized on the Roma. On Feb. 10, 2009, Fidesz released a statement that claimed: “The number of serious crimes committed by people of Gypsy origin is rising at an alarming pace. We demand that the government, instead of finding excuses based on the origins of the perpetrators, find the perpetrators and protect the rights and interests of the victim.” In April 2010, against a backdrop of economic desperation, Hungarians elected Fidesz, which took 53 per cent of the popular vote. The Jobbik Party, even more right wing, won 17 per cent. Fidesz has bolstered its popularity by stoking nationalism. Hungary’s national broadcaster, for example, uses the outdated map of the enlarged Hungarian kingdom for national weather forecasts. (Both Fidesz and Jobbik have seized on the Treaty of Trianon, signed following World War I. Land that once belonged to the Kingdom of Hungary was handed to countries such as Austria, Romania and Slovakia. Hungary’s geographic footprint fell by two-thirds.)
In some villages, Fidesz has paid for the construction of statues and plaques honouring Miklos Horthy, a Hungarian regent who ruled between 1920 and 1944. Horthy’s supporters say he helped foster a period of economic progress and battled to keep Hungary out of the grip of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. But Horthy also passed anti-Jewish laws, including one 1941 statute that banned sexual relations between Jews and non-Jews. Horthy also deported more than 500,000 Jews and Roma to Auschwitz. Jobbik was founded by a former high-school teacher named Gabor Vona in 2003. Its influence has steadily increased over the past two years while it has attacked the Roma. In a recent Jobbik television ad, a mosquito buzzes as an actor’s voice declares that Jobbik knows how best to “deal with the Roma problem.” Then a hand crushes the pest.
Sandor Szoke, a human rights advocate in Budapest, said both Fidesz and Jobbik are “like the Romans, where if (they) can’t give bread, (they) give a circus. Instead of bread, the spectacle has been nationalism and a spirit of anti-Roma. They want people to believe they are victims and the Roma are one of the biggest groups who are hurting the country. “The government has run on a campaign of law and order. But it’s double talk,” he said. “What they mean when they say they will crack down on crime is they will look after the Gypsy problem. When they say law, they mean we will finally have our paramilitaries, and when they say order, they mean they won’t support Gypsies financially.” In February 2009, for instance, Albert Pasztor, the police chief in the eastern Hungarian city of Miskolc, said at a news conference that all of the burglaries in the city of 180,000 during the previous two months had been committed by Roma. While Pasztor was immediately fired, he was reinstated after 1,500 street protestors supported him, the state-run news agency MTI reported.
There are some Hungarians who do sympathize with the Roma. Several political parties, including Hungary’s Socialist Party and a liberal party called LMP, or Politics can be Different, routinely support the Roma. A large activist movement known as the Milla has organized rallies against racism. But the United Nations High Commission on Refugees says living conditions for Roma in Hungary are significantly worse than for the rest of the population. Roma unemployment is estimated at 70 per cent, 10 times the national average. Just 3 per cent of Roma attend high school because most fail to learn basic literacy in their formative years. “This is supposed to be a European Union country but travel to any Roma community and you will see people living in poverty like in sub-Saharan Africa and racial attacks with no one brought to justice,” said Lydia Gall, a Human Rights Watch researcher who studies Central Europe.
Fidesz has allowed communities to establish publicly funded segregated schools after white families pulled their children out of racially integrated classes, a practice known as “white flight,” said Vera Messing, a sociologist in Budapest. Judit Pach, head of communications for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, responded by saying Messing was “trying to create a bad image for the whole country.” “The right to choose a school freely is the basic right of every citizen, irrespective of their ethnicity,” Pach said. “This is one of the important achievements of the democratic Hungary.” Yet in Gyongyospata, Roma children attend classes on the first floor of the local school while ethnic Hungarian children are taught on the second. Roma students are not given access to English or swimming lessons or computers and are excluded from after-school sports and arts programs, several local Roma families said.
In some communities, hospitals have separate maternity wards, according to the European Roma Rights Centre in Budapest. In a recent study of 131 Roma women, 44 said they were confined to a “Gypsy room” after giving birth. Several women said they had to clean the room themselves. One doctor in Miskolc interviewed by the NGO said segregation helps the Roma women “because they are spared abusive attitudes.” Margaret Island is a mosaic of parkland and gardens perched in the middle of the Danube River in downtown Budapest. One recent afternoon, roughly 500 people mingled on a grassy field, eating picnic lunches and watching their kids ride ponies and play ping-pong and foosball. A dozen children danced to a ladybug song in the shadow of a stage under a Jobbik Party banner that read, “Get away thieves. This is my country.” After lunch, the children’s music stopped and politics took centre stage.
A few days before, the Magyar Garda paramilitary group had arrived in the village of Cegled and thrown rocks through the windows of Roma homes, said Szoke, who witnessed the attacks. “Yes, there was a problem in Cegled,” Jobbik Party official Pal Gabor said in his speech at the Jobbik rally. “Only because the Garda were cool, there was peace. The gypsy horde was walking in the street, looking to cause problems.” A man of about 60, his white hair pulled into a ponytail, stood with his family and cheered and whistled loudly. “We have a problem with these copper skins, but I know how to fix it for a lifetime,” he said loudly. The children sitting beside him smiled. Nearby, electrical engineer Tomas Balog pushed his baby in a stroller and explained Jobbik’s attraction. “Every day in my neighbourhood, Gypsies are coming up and down the streets with megaphones asking to buy metal for scrap,” said Balog, 35. “Two families I know can’t go to church because Gypsies will break into their homes. They beat people up and steal.”
Istvan Budavin said he joined Jobbik because “Roma kill and attack elderly people in our countryside.” “We are trying to protect our people and our culture,” said Budavin, 25 and unemployed. “They don’t want to work. They should be taken away. We tried to integrate them. It didn’t work. They should all go to Canada.” Since January 2008 , Hungarian newspapers have reported 52 attacks against Roma in Hungary, including the murder of seven adults and two children, according to the European Roma Rights Centre. “Our attack list is based on the incidents reported by media, they are not official statistics,” says Sinan Gokcen, a spokesman for the centre. Police in Hungary do not maintain records showing violence against ethnic groups. Szoke, the human rights advocate, said there are many more unreported attacks against the Roma. “They aren’t reported because Roma are too afraid to complain, the police are not interested, or the police themselves are complicit.”
On Aug. 5 in the village of Devecser, more than 1,000 members of a neo-Nazi group calling themselves the Outlaw Army descended, according to Amnesty International. The group marched outside Roma homes, throwing water bottles and stones through windows, screaming, “You are going to die here.”
As police watched — they said later they did nothing because the visitors had registered their event with local police as a peace march — one of the Outlaw Army’s leaders, Zsolt Tyirityan, gave a speech in front of the village’s church, calling for his countrymen to “exterminate Roma from public life.” Pach, the government spokesperson, said in an email that “the Hungarian government does everything in its power to restrict and abolish the existence of these (neo-Nazi) groups.” Pach said that investigators are examining pictures taken during the demonstration in Devecser and have questioned 35 witnesses. “The identification of troublemakers is in progress,” Pach wrote. For the Hungarian government, the most notorious case involves four alleged serial killers who are on trial over the deaths of six Roma from November 2008 to August 2009. Prosecutors said Zsolt Peto, Istvan Csontos and brothers Arpad and Istvan Kiss used shotguns, a hunting rifle and fire bombs to target Roma communities. The four saw themselves as vigilantes and wanted to provoke Roma into acts of reprisal after their attacks, prosecutors said.
Six Roma, including a young father and his 5-year-old son, died. Ten others were seriously wounded. Police initially downplayed the deaths, saying several victims did not die of gunshot wounds, but were fatally injured by nails when the roofs of their homes collapsed, said Kristof Domina, director of the Athena Institute, a Budapest organization that documents hate crimes in Hungary. “It was only after attention from international NGOs and foreign governments that they started to investigate properly,” Domina said. After one investigator destroyed footprints and the imprint on the ground of a fallen body by urinating on them, a city police chief shrugged it off. “He said if the guy had to go, what are you going to do?” said Balazs Turay, a freelance journalist in Budapest who has covered the 17-month trial. As outside pressure mounted, the Hungarian government asked the FBI to help with the investigation. The case has been turned into a movie called Just the Wind that Hungary has put forward as its Academy Award nominee for best foreign-language picture. An Oscar win for the fictionalized account of the killings would surely highlight the Roma’s problems.
But when the movie premiered at the Berlin Film festival in December (it was also featured this year in the Toronto International Film Festival) the Hungarian Embassy placed leaflets on seats before the screening. The leaflets, a copy of which was obtained by the Star, say that, while the government helped finance the movie, viewers should understand it is fiction and doesn’t reflect the current plight of Roma in Hungary. The leaflets also pointed out that Hungary is not the only European country battling extremism. “Unfortunately we can also point to a string of attacks in Europe over the last two years when attacks and murders took place for racist or ideological reasons,” the letter said. It cited the example of Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik and the execution-style killings in Germany of nine shop owners, eight of them of Turkish descent and one Greek, between 2000 and 2006.
In Gyongyospata , fields of sunflower, grapevines and wheat are yet to be harvested but Berki is already worried about the coming months. His home is a rundown shanty that channels stifling heat in the summer and teeth-rattling gusts in winter. Although he is a trained electrician, Berki can’t find a job. He receives about $175 a month from a local workfare program, digging trenches for water pipes, trimming bushes and repairing roads and sidewalks. His entire monthly wage helps pay down a bank loan he took out in 2010 when a flood destroyed his home, which is made from a mixture of clay loam and straw. Six months ago, his electricity and gas supply were cut because of unpaid bills. His family subsists on the $40 a month his wife receives in child support from the government “Even by Gypsy standards, we are very poor,” Berki said, towel drying his 2-year-old daughter Rebecca’s hair after her bath in a tiny plastic wash basin.
Visiting with Berki, it is hard to reconcile Kenney’s claim Hungarian Roma are able to cobble together enough money to travel to Canada to take advantage of the welfare system. “You can get a ticket from Europe to Canada for less than $1,000,” Kenney noted. “In my life I will not make that much money,” Berki said. From Berki’s home, it is only a few feet to the pine bushes that encircle his neighbour Kristina’s house. Kristina, a 32-year-old ethnic Hungarian who declined to give her last name, said she has built up the shrubs because her vegetables and chickens kept being stolen. “We should put (the Roma) on a train and send them away,” Kristina said, her 3-year-old daughter running underfoot. “They are watching us and waiting.” After last year’s confrontation and evacuation in Gyongyospata, some paramilitary members were arrested, charged with failing to produce identification and causing a public disturbance. All were released two days later, said Dorottya Atol, a Hungary analyst with Amnesty International.
“The government was reckless. Saying and doing nothing for more than a month, allowing this to go on was dangerous,” Atol said. “It shows the state is not interested in giving people the personal protections they are entitled to.” Janos Farkas agrees. Farkas is head of the local Roma community council. Like Berki, the 30-year-old digs trenches for Gyongyospata’s workfare program. “We’ve tried to fit in and work with the community,” Farkas said, showing a section of his roof that was repaired after it was hit with a Molotov cocktail in March. “Police were looking for five or six Roma who were illegally cutting down timber in the forest last winter and we helped catch them. They’re in jail now for two or three years, and after that, we proposed participating in the civilian guard but were refused.” Farkas pointed to a house down the road where two brothers, 22 and 20, live. On June 16, the pair were attacked on the street by Garda. While they suffered broken bones and needed stitches, both refused to file a complaint with police or discuss the incident with reporters. “They think ‘What’s the point? It’s a waste of time,’” Farkas said.
As bad as things are for Roma in Hungary, he understands why some would-be refugees return, abandoning their asylum claim. “You’ve never been anywhere, lived anywhere, but the street where you were born and it’s all you know, even if it is dangerous,” Farkas says. We think of Canada as this amazing place of acceptance, but when we get there we really aren’t accepted there either. There’s this illusion of Canada. Say that you are Gypsy and all people think of is thieves on the streets of France, not our amazing musicians and craftsmen.” Farkas walked by a telephone pole fixed with a closed-circuit camera high overhead. “When my home was firebombed and when the boys were attacked, the police said the cameras did not work,” he said. “They don’t want you to see, they don’t want anyone to see what is happening here in Hungary.”
© The Toronto Star
Headlines 12 October, 2012
Many injured as nationalists storm Moscow gay bar (Russia)
12/10/2012- Some 20 alleged nationalists launched an assault on a Moscow gay bar amidst Coming Out Day celebrations, kicking women in their heads, using bottles as weapons and making threats with guns. The attack left many injured, with three taken to hospital. On Thursday, about 80 mostly female young people gathered at the Central Moscow bar 7 Free Days to celebrate Coming Out Day. Shortly after the party began, a crew of masked men stormed the bar. They were wearing dark clothes and had their heads shaved, a typical look for Russian ultra-nationalists. They shouted “Did you want a show?” and started smashing everything around them and beating people, threatening them with guns, witnesses say. “They were overturning tables and beating customers. Many were injured,” said witness Pavel Somburov, an activist from the Rainbow Association. “Then they suddenly left after an order from one of them.” hree of the customers were hospitalized with serious injuries, police say. “Twenty scumbags were kicking women in their heads. My lady friend has multiple bruises, another girl has a shard of her glasses in the eye,” LGBT activist Sergey Ilupin wrote on his Twitter account. When police arrived, the attackers had already left the bar. Police have launched an investigation into the case. So far no nationalist group has admitted responsibility for the attack. 7 Free Days positions itself as a place “free of prejudices.” The bar regularly hosts events organized by Russia's LGBT community.
Hate crimes on the rise in North East Lincolnshire as more victims are coming forward (UK)
10/10/2012- Reported incidents of hate crime in North East Lincolnshire are expected to increase this year. But the figures are being viewed as a positive by police and council bosses who say it is a sign that more victims are being encouraged to come forward. A hate crime is defined as a criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, as being motivated by prejudice or hate on the grounds of race, colour, belief, sexual orientation or disability. The number of reported hate crimes in the borough has remained fairly constant since April 2010, with 283 incidents in 2010-11 and 288 in 2011-12. However, an increase to 312 is projected for 2012-13, after 104 incidents were reported in the first four months of the financial year. But Spencer Hunt, the council's safer and stronger communities manager, said the figures were nothing to be concerned about.
Addressing the safer and stronger communities scrutiny panel, he said: "We are not looking at this as a negative. We specifically said this wasn't about a reduction target, it was about trying to encourage people to come forward and report at the earliest opportunity, and it's then that we can put the support in." Mr Hunt added that since the introduction of a dedicated hate crime investigation officer, Humberside Police was now detecting more hate crimes than in previous years. As of August 12 this year, the detection rate for racially and religiously aggravated crimes was 40 per cent, which compares favourably with the figures for violent crime (39 per cent) and overall crime (29 per cent).
He said: "It shows there's an emphasis within the police in trying to detect these kinds of crime. It's not an easy type of crime to prove and detect." Becky Freeman, chairwoman of the Safer and Stronger Communities Hate Crime Action Group, told the panel about various projects being undertaken to tackle hate crime and encourage victims to come forward. These included workshops in primary schools, advice leaflets for takeaway staff and a forthcoming film competition, as reported below. Councillor Steve Beasant (Lib Dem, East Marsh) said: "I'm quite pleased and reassured by the work that's being done. I feel quite comforted seeing these figures." Councillor Iain Colquhoun (Con, Waltham) said: "Although there's a problem in North East Lincolnshire it's not a unique problem to us and it's not a particularly severe problem overall, but to those people affected it's very important." Praising the work of the Hate Crime Action Group, he added: "If you carry on doing the work that you are doing I would have thought it will do an awful lot to mitigate these sort of crimes."
© This is Grimsby
Leicester leads the way in most comprehensive ever hate-crime study (UK, press release)
Britain’s most comprehensive study of hate crime is being launched this month in Leicester by a specialist research team at the University of Leicester.
9/10/2012- Criminologists from the University are starting a major two-year project, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, examining the experiences of those who are victimised because of their identity, vulnerability or perceived 'difference' in the eyes of the perpetrator. Dr Neil Chakraborti and Jon Garland from the Department of Criminology at the University of Leicester said the research will broaden the scope of all previous studies of hate crime.
Dr Chakraborti, Principal Investigator, said: “We will be working with the widest range of victims ever covered in a single hate crime study. As well as investigating the experiences of the more ‘recognised’ hate crime victim communities, including those who experience racist, religiously motivated, homophobic, disablist and transphobic victimisation, we also want to hear from anyone who feels they have been a victim of hate crime including people whose victimisation often slips under the radar. That will entail us working with a very broad range of groups such as the homeless, refugees, asylum seekers, Gypsies and Travellers, those with mental health problems, and those belonging to alternative subcultures, amongst many others. “‘This research will shed new light upon their needs and their experiences of victimisation. Throughout the two years we will be working closely with criminal justice agencies, including the police, and other organisations in a position to support victims of targeted violence and harassment because we want the research to make a real difference to policy and practice.
The research will therefore be of benefit to potential and actual victims of hate crime, community groups, networks and associations, the police, local authorities, Victim Support, the Ministry of Justice and Home Office, and charities and third sector organisations. The research team also plan to post regular updates on their progress via a dedicated project website and through social networking media such as Twitter in order to make the project as accessible and transparent as possible. Mr Jon Garland, co-investigator in the research, said: “The project will offer new perspectives of what it’s actually like to be targeted because the victim is somehow “different”. It will uncover the true impact of such harassment and violence and will help criminal justice agencies, both locally here in Leicester and also nationally, to understand fully the harmful impact of hate crime.”
As one of the most diverse cities in the UK, Leicester offers the ideal site in which to conduct the proposed study. The research will be undertaken via an extensive online and written survey of the wide range of victim communities mentioned above, and this will be complemented by hundreds of in-depth interviews with victims. The findings will be summarised in a series of reports and academic journal articles as the project progresses.
© 24 Dash
Belgian minister condemns hate campaign against Jewish aide
9/10/2012- Belgian Health Minister Laurette Onkelinx has complained to police about a pamphlet naming a Jewish member of her party an "enemy of Islam." The Turkish-language pamphlet called Yves Goldstein, an associate of Onkelinx and fellow member of the Socialist Party, "an active Zionist and an enemy of Islam," Onkelinx said at a news conference on Oct. 8. "It is a call to Jew-hatred, much like the anti-Muslim calls we hear too often," she added. "It is unacceptable and must stop immediately." Goldstein, a candidate for the Socialist Party at Schaarbeek near Brussels, was also present at the meeting with journalists. Onkelinx also filed a complaint with the Center for Equal Opportunity, a Belgian NGO.
On Oct. 4, an Internet user identified as Soumaya Talib sent an email to multiple recipients warning of the Goldstein's candidacy for the local elections in Schaarbeek on Oct. 14. "We wish to warn the Umma ("Muslim Nation") that Muslims and friends of peace do not vote for the enemies of Palestine," the letter read. It referred to Goldman the "Zionist" as "the right hand and diplomatic advisor of a Belgian minister." Goldman's Zionism was "revealed with god's help" after "Zionist services erased them," it also said. "Voting for a Zionist is to stick a knife into the back of a Palestinian to kill. May god protect us from Zionism and its friends at the Socialist Party." The letter included a text attributed to Goldman, stating he was a member of Hashomer Hatzair, a Socialist-Zionist youth movement founded in 1913.
© JTA News
Greece, in 2012: fascists beating up people while the police look on (comment)
As the EU is awarded the Nobel prize, far-right violence is the norm in Greece – carried out with the police's tacit approval
By Yiannis Baboulias
12/10/2012- The timing is nothing if not ironic. On the day the EU has been awarded the Nobel peace prize, we watch as Europe sits idly by and lets fascism brew once again – this time in Greece. If a sharp turn towards religious fundamentalism and fascism is to be avoided, Europe needs to act now. On Thursday night the Athens premiere of Terrence McNally's play, Corpus Christi, was cancelled following protests by members of the far-right party Golden Dawn (including some MPs) and religious groups. The protest had a clearly homophobic agenda. Manolis V, a journalist, was attacked by protesters while the police apparently did nothing: "The police is next to us. I shout 'They're beating me, aren't you going to do something?'," he wrote on Twitter. "I move away so I can look on from distance. A well-known Golden Dawn MP follows me. He punches me twice in the face and knocks me to the ground. While on the ground, I lose my glasses. The Golden Dawn MP kicks me. The police are just two steps away but turn their back."
The spectacle of fascists physically attacking people whose moral agenda they disapprove of has become routine in today's Greece. What should come as more of a shock is the tacit approval of the police. When four protesters were arrested, the Golden Dawn MP Christos Pappas boarded the police bus in which they were held, and released one of the prisoners. From the video depicting the incident, we can see that no officer tried to stop him. Golden Dawn know that the police are on their side, and so do those they attack. Manolis says he is afraid to go to the police and file a lawsuit, because he doesn't want them to have his name and address on record.
The police were not so slow to react two weeks ago when they arrested for blasphemy the man behind the satirical Facebook page of Geron Pastitsios after a question submitted in parliament by a Golden Dawn MP. Nor were they slow to react when anti-fascists clashed with Golden Dawn supporters in Amerikis square and 15 were arrested, and allegedly tortured, last week. To add insult to injury, after announcing that they are conducting an investigation into a "Golden Dawn MP", the police refused to name him, despite having no problem naming teenagers who were preemptively arrested before a demonstration three weeks ago.
The Greek Orthodox church, its huge wealth unscathed by the crisis, is in no rush to condemn its clerics for siding, condoning, instigating and participating in acts of violence and disrespect against immigrants, homosexuals and people who challenge their view of what being Greek and Orthodox entails. Greece is being held hostage by a police force that increasingly appears beyond state control, and which has long forsaken its role of protecting citizens from the thugs they now side with, and by a government which relishes the distraction the Golden Dawn provides from the cuts and tax hikes. The government's unwillingness to revoke parliamentary privileges from those Golden Dawn MPs who participate in or condone violent acts, and to speed up processes to have them prosecuted and condemned, demonstrates this.
Not only have the Golden Dawn refused to apologise for their actions outside Corpus Christi, but the Golden Dawn MP Ilias Kasidiaris – famous for physically assaulting a leftwing politician on live TV – didn't miss the chance to hand out warnings: "In any case where the religious sentiment of Greeks is insulted, the Golden Dawn will react dynamically," he said. "If someone tries to stage a play making fun of Muhammad in a Muslim country, he will lose his head. They won't react peacefully as Greeks do." Judging by Sunday's protest, which Kasidiaris did not attend, "peace" equals abuse, censorship, violence and a complete disregard for the laws Golden Dawn supposedly venerate. Apparently we should just be thankful for not having our heads chopped off.
It is once again time for the Greek people to ask themselves, is the Golden Dawn a legitimate political party? And, as Paul Mason asked a few days ago on Newsnight: is this even a democracy any more?
© Comment is free - Guardian
8/10/2012- Over the past few months, as Greece has sunk deeper into crisis, racist attacks against immigrants have risen sharply. Unsatisfied with the police’s response to this violence, residents of Athens have taken to patrolling a neighbourhood where thugs are known to beat up immigrants and cause damage to their shops. They call themselves “anti-fascists”. Their sworn enemy: Golden Dawn and its sympathisers. The far-right party, once considered to be on the fringe, has surged in popularity since winning an electoral foothold in parliament in June. Golden Dawn’s sworn enemy, meanwhile, is illegal immigrants, which they blame for the country’s economic woes. Just last month, one of the party’s leading lawmakers led a group of his men into a street market, where they demanded to see permits from any vendor who looked foreign. They even destroyed one of the stalls and scattered the merchandise. Vendors at the market said police stood by and watched. After several such incidents, the government scrapped the police protection that Golden Dawn lawmakers had enjoyed since their election, as all lawmakers do in Greece. However, many human rights groups now accuse the police of looking the other way and even discouraging victims of violence from filing complaints. Sometimes, as an amateur video filmed earlier this year shows, police officers have even participated in violence against immigrants.
“The police pushed the anti-fascists off their motorbikes and started beating them”
Potmos (not his real name), 33, is a systems network administrator. He is part of Athens’ anti-fascist movement. Responding to calls made on online media and through Facebook, anti-fascists have so far organised three patrols on motorbikes, each one bigger than the next. Some people assume we are all anarchists, but in fact there are people from different political persuasions – I believe all of them, however, are on the left. But we have no specific agenda apart from combating violence against immigrants. Everyone can join. Many of the volunteers are children of immigrants. Each time we meet in Exharchia, a neighbourhood where many immigrants live and where Golden Dawn thugs carry out their “crackdowns”. The first two times, things went well. I myself did not ride a motorbike, but many of my friends did, and I joined them at the meeting point in Exharchia to support them. The patrols were planned on nights when we had heard Golden Dawn members were planning crackdowns, but they were nowhere to be seen. Our goal, in fact, was to dissuade them from coming out. Neighbourhood residents I spoke to were quite happy to see somebody was on their side.
“Golden Dawn thugs were breaking the window of a store that apparently belonged to immigrants”
The third time, however – which was our biggest patrol, with about 100 people on motorbikes on September 30 – things didn’t go so well. As my friends on bikes told it to me, they arrived at the spot where Golden Dawn members had planned to meet and saw four or five thugs breaking the window of a store that apparently belonged to immigrants. Some of the anti-fascists got angry and attacked them, pushing them away with force. The police, which had followed the motorcade, at this point attacked the anti-fascists and arrested four of them. Everybody else drove back to the meeting point, but they were ambushed by more police. What happened then was brutal – the police pushed people off their bikes and beat them. One person was badly beaten and was hit by a flash grenade. In the end 15 people were arrested. [They were let out on bail Friday. The Minister of Public Order, in a statement, referred to them as "extremists" and claimed they were being "mentored" by opposition parties.]
“Those arrested were beaten, shot with Tasers, and even burnt with cigarette butts by police”
They were charged with assault and disturbance of public order, which becomes a felony if you’re hiding your face - which was the case here, though not purposefully, as they were wearing motorcycle helmets! They were also charged with possessing weapons. And what were those “weapons”? The flags that were attached to their motorbikes! [Chrissa Petsimeri, a lawyer who represents several of those arrested, said that they were also accused of throwing stones at the police, a charge they deny.] During their five days in detention, several of them were beaten, shot with Tasers, and even burnt with cigarette butts by the police. [The lawyer, who took photos of these wounds, says she will be using them in court. She also added that the two women among the accused were called insulting and sexist names by the police officers, while the men, forced to strip naked, were allegedly hit on their genitals.] Despite this setback, there are plans for more motorcycle patrols. We’re hoping to avoid any violence or clashes with the police next time. Until the police can do their jobs and protect everyone who lives here, these patrols will go on.
© France 24.
Shooting rampage in Front National (FN) heartland (France)
A Facebook campaign was set up denouncing the prosecution of a French couple motivated by anti-Arab racism.
11/10/2012- On the night of 4-5 August, in the small town of Aigues-Mortes, Gard, William Vidal, a fireman, and his wife Monique Guindon were driving slowly past a group of young people of north African origin chatting in front of a grocer’s shop, who asked them if they needed directions. Vidal and Guindon drove off, then returned with a hunting rifle. They chased the youths in their car, while Vidal fired a dozen shots at them, shouting ‘No Arab is going to give me directions in my own country’, as his wife reloaded his rifle. Two shots hit a car in which a woman was driving her young daughter home, and four more hit one of the youths in the shoulder, the back and legs. One of the young people said ‘It was terrifying. I thought I was going to die. The woman was shouting “Run, run!” and laughing. It was like a manhunt.’
Under the French system of comparution immédiate, the prosecutor can fast-track a trial, in certain circumstances and if there is compelling evidence against the accused. Thus, on 6 August, when the couple appeared in court, they claimed that Vidal only fired into the air and that he was not motivated by racism but was responding to insults from the youths. It was revealed that they had been drinking, and their testimony was contradicted by thirteen witnesses. They were found guilty of violence with firearms and incitement to racial hatred. Vidal was sentenced to four years’ and Guindon to two years’ imprisonment, with the sentences longer than normal because of the racial element. They have lodged an appeal, and days after sentencing, a Facebook campaign was launched to support the couple. An internet petition against their imprisonment attracted 800 signatures in a few days (although there were only 281 signatories left by 28 September). Supporters say their imprisonment means separation from their children, who may have to go into care, and point to the medal Vidal received for saving a child from drowning. But the quality of the support for the couple is demonstrated by the fact that the Facebook page had to be closed after a week because of the level of violent racist sentiment it attracted.
‘Victims of reverse racism’
The online petition claims that justice ‘varies according to the origins, race and religion’ of the perpetrator. In this it echoes the sentiments of many locals who claim that the couple are victims of ‘reverse racism’, expressing comments such as ‘they’re too soft on the Arabs and too hard on the French’. In turn, the locals are merely regurgitating an ‘anti-white racism’ thesis which has been circulating in France since at least the 1990s, thanks not just to the FN but to a whole host of New Right media pundits such as Alain Finkelkraut, who have popularised a nativist mythology that draws its power from everyday fictions about white victimhood as well as urban myths about ‘Arab’ crimes. More recently, in May this year, the FN called for the introduction of a new law against anti-white prejudice, justifying its necessity on the grounds that little old ladies were being terrorised by being called names like ‘chalk face’. Then, in September, Jean-François Copé, who is seeking to replace Sarkozy as the leader of the conservative Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP), released to Le Figaro extracts from a new book in which he claimed that ‘anti-white racism is developing in neighbourhoods of our towns where individuals – some of whom have French nationality – express contempt for French people, calling them “Gaulois” on the basis that they are not of the same religion, the same skin colour or the same origins as them.’ The FN was furious, claiming copyright on the phrase. ‘It’s cut and paste’, declared FN leader Marine Le Pen.
Robert Gelli, public prosecutor for Nîmes, says of Vidal and Guindon’s actions that ‘people have overlooked the seriousness of the crime – such a level of violence that it could have turned into carnage’. The affair has triggered an outburst of racist sentiment locally. Racist slogans were chanted in public in Cailar, a nearby village, on 5 August, and a video was put on the internet showing youths chanting ‘We’re not having those scum in our country’ and ‘we are the fachos’. An old man told a journalist from Libération that ‘the Arabs should all be massacred’, and others sitting round him agreed, one giving the Nazi salute. The youths at the centre of the case, the victims of the shooting, now feel threatened. One says ‘It’s as if we are the guilty ones. We’re being held responsible for putting them in prison.’
Gelli expressed his concern at the increase in racist language and acts since Gilbert Collard, the long-time lawyer for the FN, was elected as the National Assembly deputy for the second constituency of the department of Gard with 40 per cent of the vote. Gelli said there was a new licence to attack the north African Muslim population by word and deed; ‘racist sentiments hidden for years are now expressed publicly’. Anti-racist group Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peuples (MRAP) praised Gelli for his stand, and commented that the attack is a predictable result of the racist and xenophobic election campaign. In an article on its website two weeks after the attack, it quoted a local councillor, ‘When social and economic difficulties weigh on this Camargue area, it’s fashionable to blame others. Hatred of the “other” has grown.’ In the first quarter of 2012 unemployment in the department reached over 13 per cent. The Right has exploited these difficulties for electoral purposes, creating a climate conducive to such acts. One indicator of the level of racism in France is the annual survey of the National Consultative Committee on Human Rights (CNCDH) created in 2009. According to its last survey, published in March 2012, 2011 saw an increase in mistrust of Muslims: 51 per cent of those asked believed that they form a separate group (up six points from 2009) and 59 per cent believed that there are too many immigrants in France (up 12 points).
MRAP is closely monitoring events in the areas where the FN vote was high, and has announced that it intends to intervene as a civil party in the couple’s appeal, in order to lend support to the victims of the shooting.
© Institute of Race Relations
France boosting security at Jewish sites after blanks fired at synagogue in Paris suburb
7/10/2012- France is boosting security at Jewish religious sites after blank bullets were fired on a synagogue west of Paris, and amid renewed concerns about anti-Semitism around the country. French President Francois Hollande met Sunday with leaders of the country's Jewish community, and pledged to fight extremism and anti-Semitism "with the greatest firmness." He said that authorities "in the coming days, in the coming hours" will increase security at Jewish religious sites so they won't be subject to the kind of attack that targeted a synagogue in the Paris suburb of Argenteuil on Saturday night. A representative of the synagogue says the building was targeted with about eight blank bullets and services were cancelled. The representative, who spoke on condition of anonymity because a police investigation is under way, said no one was hurt in the incident.
It came hours after police carried out raids across France on Saturday targeting a suspected jihadist cell of young Frenchmen recently converted to Islam. DNA on a grenade that exploded last month at a kosher grocery store led them to a member of the cell, who was killed in a shootout with police Saturday. Officials said he had been under surveillance since last spring — around the time a French Islamist radical went on a shooting rampage against a Jewish school and French soldiers, killing seven people. A leading French Muslim organization, the CFCM, denounced the synagogue attack. It said in a statement Sunday that it "assures the French Jewish community of its support and fraternal solidarity in the face of all attacks that target its members and institutions."
© The Associated Press
Jewish leader assaulted on street in Budapest (Hungary)
6/10/2012- Police in Budapest have arrested two young men after they allegedly assaulted the leader of a Jewish congregation. The men, 20 and 21, are suspected of physically and verbally assaulting Andras Kerenyi, the 62-year-old president of the Jewish congregation of the Hungarian capital's South Pest district, on Oct. 5, the website of the Hungarian police reported. It said Kerenyi was attacked near Budapest’s Téglagyár square because of his religion and that his injuries did not require medical treatment. The two men are being held as indictments against them are being drawn up, the report said. Gusztav Zoltai, executive director of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities, told the Hungarian news agency MTI that Kerenyi was kicked in his stomach as the assailants shouted obscenities at him and told him he was going to die. The police report said that after the attack Kerenyi followed the suspects and at the same time reported the incident to police. A police patrol arrested the men exactly 32 minutes after the attack at a nearby house. The report named the suspects as Mark F. and Tibor P. In June, Jozsef Schweitzer, a retired Hungarian chief rabbi, was accosted on a Budapest street by a man who told him he “hates all Jews.”
© JTA News
Headlines 5 October, 2012
Anti-Muslim attacks continue (USA)
After a string of violent assaults across the country, a Toledo mosque becomes the newest target
By Bill Morlin, Southern Poverty Law Center
5/10/2012- Muslims and their places of worship “are clearly under attack,” says the president of one of the country’s largest mosques, which was heavily damaged four days ago in an arson fire. The Southern Poverty Law Center“We’re actually reeling in disbelief,” Dr. Mahjabeen Islam, president of the Islamic Center of Toledo in Ohio, told Hatewatch today in describing the devastation caused by a fire deliberately set in the mosque’s prayer area on Sunday afternoon, just minutes after worshippers had left the building. “This is a hate crime,” said Islam. The mosque she heads is the third largest in the United States, a 70,000-square foot landmark, visible for miles, with 3,000 members who will celebrate the center’s 32nd anniversary on Friday. The fire and water damage from sprinklers touched every room in the Islamic Center, causing an estimated $1 million to $1.5 million in damages. Repairs will take an estimated six months.
A suspect in the arson, whose image was captured on surveillance cameras, was arrested Tuesday in neighboring Indiana. On Wednesday, Randy T. Linn, a 52-year-old truck driver from St. Joe, Ind., was charged in Perrysburg, Ohio, Municipal Court with two counts of aggravated arson, aggravated burglary, and carrying a concealed weapon, the Toledo Blade reported in today’s editions. “It was a very symbolic fire, we believe, in that it was started in the center of the prayer area right under the dome,” Islam said. In August, during Ramadan, an anonymous, threatening letter was sent to the mosque with the word “stopped” written in Arabic. “Never in our wildest dreams did we believe something like this would happen to us,” Islam said. “We are clearly under attack. If our mosque had not been made of brick and concrete, it would have burned to the ground.”
The fire also damaged and shut down classrooms of the Islamic School of Greater Toledo, a K-5 elementary school at the center. Those children are now attending classes at a nearby community college. The FBI is investigating the arson, and federal hate crime charges may be forthcoming, Hatewatch has learned. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization, says the arson is the latest in a notable spike in anti-Islamic hate crimes. CAIR released a report last month detailing the increase in attacks against Muslims and mosques. During Ramadan, which started on July 20 and ended at sundown on Aug. 18, there was “one of the worst spikes of anti-Muslim incidents in over a decade,” the CAIR report says.
In the first seven months of this year, there were 10 incidents in which Muslim places of worship were targeted. During 13 days in August, Muslim places of worship were targeted eight more times, the CAIR report said. “We do feel this is part of an overall trend of attacks on mosques and not an isolated incident,” Julia Shearson, CAIR’s director for Northern Ohio, told Hatewatch. “We believe there a climate that’s been created in the political sphere and the far-right media blogosphere that gives a green light to extremists to act out and commit hate crimes against religious institutions and their members,” she said. “I don’t think we’ve seen this kind of intolerance toward religious minorities since before the civil rights movement.”
The CAIR official said civic and political leaders should consider convening a national summit on religious intolerance. “For some reason, it’s really been allowed to fester,” she said. The growing list of anti-Islamic crimes includes the unsolved arson fire of another mosque in Joplin, Mo., that burned to the ground on Aug. 6. In Illinois, shots were fired at a mosque in Morton Grove, and an acid bomb was thrown at an Islamic school in Lombard. In Oklahoma, vandals fired paint balls at a mosque. In California, pigs’ legs were thrown at a mosque. In Panama City, Fla., a firebomb damaged a Muslim family’s home.
Sometimes, it appears, hate crimes have been directed at victims the perpetrators may have mistakenly believed were Muslims, when in fact they were members of another religious faith. On Aug. 5, six members of a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee were gunned down by neo-Nazi skinhead Wade Michael Page, who belonged to a racist white-power band. Also during this year’s Ramadan, an Arab Christian church in Detroit was vandalized.
This article was originally published by The Southern Poverty Law Center.
Millions of anti-gay slurs on Twitter
4/10/2012- Anti-gay slurs are used tens of thousands of times a day on Twitter, a Canadian university found. “We never imagined the scale of casual homophobia that actually exists on social media,” said Kristopher Wells, the associate director of the University of Alberta’s Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services. “It shocked us.” The institute created a website that scrolls anti-gay tweets 24/7. Wells told me the website is an effort to combat anti-gay language and the psychological and emotional harm it causes to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The widespread use of the slurs reinforces a belief that they’re acceptable, he said.
The institute found that “faggot” has been tweeted more than 2.7 million times since July 5, 2012. “So gay” was used in nearly a million tweets, “no homo” in more than 900,000 and “dyke” in 376,000. The website, www.nohomophobes.com, scrolls sometimes-chilling slurs in real time and keeps a running count of the thousands of them that are in tweets each day. Wells said it can be jarring to view the succession of bigoted language. He expects some to be offended. “We appreciate it can be hard to see a word like ‘faggot,’ but it’s hard for gays and lesbians to be victimized by the casual use of that word,” he said. “This is the language gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people hear every day. You should be offended by it.”
The institute tracks anti-gay slurs only on Twitter. But words like “faggot” are used many, many times as often in homes, locker rooms and schools, Wells said. “The fact is people have been desensitized to its use,” he said. The website, he said, “puts a face on the language. These are real live people using this language.” The institute urges people to challenge friends, colleagues and family members who use slurs. The consequences of the frequent use of anti-gay language is clear, Wells said. For example, if a young person trying to come to terms with his or her sexuality hears a father say, “Look at those faggots” while watching gay characters on the television show “Modern Family,” it can be traumatizing, he said. “That’s what leads to isolation, to alienation, to self-hatred, and that turns into depression and despair,” he said. In the most tragic cases, it helps lead to suicide. Lesbian and gay youth are two to three times more likely to commit suicide than non-gay youth, Wells said.
© The Press-Enterprise
Victims of racism fear reprisal for reporting (Ireland)
4/10/2012- Incidents of racism are not being reported due to concerns over victim safety, according to a Cork immigrant support centre. As the Central Statistics Office (CSO) announced yesterday, Thursday that residents of 15 towns in Cork are more than 20% non-Irish nationals, campaigns and communications officer with NASC, Jennifer DeWan highlighted that a large number of racist attacks are not being reported to the gardaí because of fear victims will be further targeted. “Security and confidentiality is a massive issue for people, and it's preventing them from reporting crimes. Especially in cases where it's happening in the community, they fear they will be more exposed if they report to the gardaí,” she said.
Ms DeWan added that those seeking to report a racist crime can do so on a confidential basis at the NASC office on Mary Street. Information gathered can also used as part of an European monitoring mechanism of racism through the European Network Against Racism (ENAR). NASC have also launched a Racism in Cork survey- with statistics due for release in November- which is investigating racism in the city and county, gathering information from both victims and witnesses. “There are other reasons people do not report and we are looking to gather as much information as possible so we have an idea of areas we need to tackle,” she said.
Ms DeWan highlighted that there has been a notable rise in online bullying in racist attacks. “Racism is not just about getting a belt in the street, and there are very different types of attacks. We need to keep saying to people that racism is not acceptable and raising awareness of the issue.” The CSO's Census report on the profile of diversity in Ireland outlined that Cork has one of the highest numbers of non-Irish nationals in the country, with 42,886 living in the county, up 10,500 from 2006. The report further highlighted that 35% of West Cork village of Kilcrohane are non-nationals, along with one in every three residents in Timoleague, the majority of whom are Polish.
© The Cork News
The explosion outside a Jewish community centre in Malmö last week is now being investigated as a hate crime, a move welcomed by the Swedish Committee Against Anti-Semitism.
5/10/2012- “It’s obvious that this is a hate crime. The fact that the crime was aimed at the Jewish community centre shows that people were expressing hostility towards it,” said prosecutor Hans Harding to Swedish newspaper Expo. “We’re putting enormous resources into trying to solve this. If it were a usual break-in then we wouldn’t have had the county police service taking over the case. This happened because the crime is aimed towards the Jewish community.” The attack was carried out in the early hours of Friday morning night last week, when an explosion rocked the community centre and someone tried to break through the front door. No one was injured in the explosion, which was heard up to three blocks away.
The Swedish Committee Against Anti-Semitism (Svenska kommittén mot antisemitism) welcomes the news that the attack is now considered a hate crime. “It’s really important that the authorities act like this and put in sufficient resources as the number of hate crimes grows. I am happy when the prosecutor says that this will be taken extremely seriously,” spokesman Willy Silberstein told the paper. “We cannot become immune to this, we must respond when the attacks increase.” Two 18-year-old men were arrested following the attack, although they both deny the crime. The attack reignited a long-simmering debate about the safety of Jews in Sweden’s third largest city.
Fred Kahn, head of the Jewish community in Malmö, said the attack reaffirms the view that the Jews in Malmö remain under threat and have suffered as a result. "We need to heighten our security, but we don't have the money for things like that," he told the TT news agency after the attack. However, Kahn remained at a loss as to why Jews in Malmö appear to be subject to more threats and violence than Jews elsewhere in the country. "More attacks are directed at Jews in Malmö. I haven't heard about it happening in other places in Sweden," he told the the local Skånska Dagbladet newspaper.
© The Local - Sweden
Malmo police see no reason to call JCC attack a hate crime (Sweden)
3/10/2012- Police in Malmo, Sweden, said they had “no indication” that a recent attack on the offices of the local Jewish community was a hate crime. The police arrested and later released two 18-year-old men suspected of hurling a brick and a large firecracker at the entrance of the community’s offices on Sept. 28. The building sustained some damage but no one was hurt. “The suspects never said or indicated they were perpetrating a hate crime,” Anders Lindell, a Malmo police officer and spokesman, told JTA. He added that the suspects denied any involvement in the attack. The investigation is ongoing, he said. Willy Silberstein of the Swedish Committee Against Anti-Semitism, a Stockholm-based NGO, told JTA that he found the decision “very strange.” “When such incidents are not classified as hate crimes, it does not add to the credibility of government figures on anti-Semitism,” he said. Sweden has approximately 20,000 Jews, according to the European Jewish Congress. Several hundred of them live in Malmo, according to Fredrik Sieradski, a spokesman for the Malmo Jewish congregation. In 2011, The Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention reported 190 anti-Semitic crimes in all of Sweden.
© JTA News
Brussels synagogue daubed with anti-Semitic graffiti (Belgium)
4/10/2012- A Brussels synagogue was daubed with anti-Semitic graffiti reading “death to the Jews” and “bang” overnight on Tuesday, Belgian public radio station RTBF reported. Beth Hillel Liberal synagogue in the suburb of Forest was subject to the attack, in the first such anti-Semitic incident since the beginning of 2009, when a Molotov cocktail caused an outbreak of fire in the same area. The President of the synagogue declared he would be referring the matter to the Centre for Equal Opportunities (CEC). Local police filed a report ad launched an investigation but so far no suspects have been brought in for questioning. An examination of surveillance cameras in the area failed to produce any evidence. The graffiti have since been removed. Police cars regularly patrol through the immediate area, although this has had little impact in strengthening surveillance measures.
© EJP News
Alleged Murder Sparks Anti-Greek Sentiment in Macedonia
Unconfirmed reports of the murder of a young ethnic Macedonian in Greece have raised tensions in Macedonia.
3/10/2012- The Macedonian government has called for restraint and condemned “all attempts to manipulate this sensitive and serious issue,” following unconfirmed reports in Macedonia’s media that a young ethnic Macedonian has been killed in Greece. The National Broadcasting Council and the Journalist’s Association in their reactions on Tuesday urged media that published the news to step up their professional standards. On Sunday, several prominent Macedonian media, including the public broadcasting service, MRTV, carried a report about the alleged murder of a young ethnic Macedonian man named Aleksandar Samardziev in Thessaloniki.
According to those reports, the Greek citizen of Macedonian descent was allegedly beaten to death by members of the notorious Greek ultra nationalist movement, Golden Dawn, after he refused to change his surname to a Greek one. The Macedonian government insists that it has no confirmation of such reports, and the Greek government also denied the murder had taken place. The media originally cited claims published on Facebook by an alleged relative of the victim, also an ethnic Macedonian who lives in Greece. A statement by Todor Petrov, the head of a pan-Macedonian NGO, the World Macedonian Congress, in which he said that “for the Macedonians, the death of Aleksandar Samardziev is a provocation for war”, has additionally stirred up tensions. Petrov’s statement was aired on several TV stations. Although it is not officially linked to the ruling centre-right VMRO DPMNE party, his NGO is seen as close to the government. “Death to all Greeks” and “revenge for Aleksandar” were just some posts on social networks and forums.
Skopje based communications expert Marko Trosanovski warns that the media's search for sensationalism can spell out trouble. “Those [media] that did this, some of them pretty relevant and influential… are risking fuelling much deeper ethnic and national tensions and conflicts by waging a totally irresponsible editorial policy driven by sensationalism”, Trosanovski told Radio Free Europe. Macedonian police said it increased security around the Greek embasy in Skopje. Tensions between Greece and Macedonia are fuelled by the long-standing dispute over Macedonia's name. Greece insists that use of the term "Macedonia" implies a territorial claim to its own northern province of the same name. Citing the unresolved issue, Greece has repeatedly blocked Macedonia’s progress towards both EU and NATO membership. UN-brokered talks to overcome the long standing dispute have failed to result in a solution.
© Balkan Insight
Macedonian in Greece killed for refusing to change last name
30/9/2012- Aleksandar Samardziev, an ethnic Macedonian student who was attacked in Solun by members of the Greek political neo Nazi group Golden Dawn has died from his injuries, several Macedonian newspapers reported this evening. According to Samardziev's family, their son was attacked for refusing to change his last name to a more "Greek" sounding name. According to the information coming out of Greece, Samardziev received multiple fractures when he came under attack by more than six Golden Dawn members. He died several hours after being hospitalized. Aleksandar's brother afraid that he may receive similar faith has left his home and is in hiding. Stiljan Samardziev, Aleksandar's cousin who first reported the incident, was jailed in early August for a week after he placed the Macedonian flag at a police station in Solun. Stiljan was jailed a second time at the end of August after announcing on Facebook he would wave the Macedonian flag during an anti Macedonian gathering in Solun. The Samardziev family isn't able to get any help from the Greek police who not just did not take interest in the case, but told the family it would be better for their own safety to say their son was attacked by 'unknown' people and not by members of Golden Dawn, a Greek political party with seats in Parliament.
MINA can't verify the death of Samardziev
30/9/2012- Despite last night's death being widely reported in Macedonian media, MINA's correspondent from Bitola had made numerous attempts to verify the death of Aleksandar Samardziev without success. MINA's Aleksandar Nikolovski contacted all hospitals in Solun, including the Macedonian consulate in Greece. The information from the hospitals and the consulate came back negative, meaning they had no information on the case. The Macedonian political party "Rainbow" too did not have information regarding this. One strange case indeed, we'll stay on top of it.
© MINA - Macedonia International News Agency
Federal Court upholds contested hate-speech law despite pending repeal (Canada)
3/10/2012- In what may be the last hurrah for the Canadian Human Rights Act’s vanishing prohibition on hate speech, the Federal Court of Canada has ruled that a tribunal was wrong when it opted not to apply the act’s provisions in a 2009 decision. Parliament voted in June to repeal section 13 of the act, which bans hate speech on the Internet. The matter is now before the Senate and has yet to receive Royal Assent. Despite that, Federal Court Justice Richard Mosley ruled this week that the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal erred in law when it refused to apply the controversial section following a hearing into a complaint by Ottawa lawyer and activist Richard Warman. Warman filed a complaint in 2003, alleging that Marc Lemire, webmaster of freedomsite.org and a former leader of the far-right Heritage Front, had violated the act by allowing the posting of comments that were likely to expose homosexuals and blacks to hatred or contempt. Lemire responded with a constitutional challenge of section 13.
The tribunal ruled on the case in 2009. While it found that one article on Lemire’s website violated the section, it ruled that penalties in the act were inconsistent with Charter of Rights guarantees of freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression. On that basis, the tribunal declined to apply section 13 or any of its associated remedies, which include cease-and-desist orders and fines of up to $10,000. It found, in effect, that the section 13 regime outlined in the act had become too punitive and unduly impaired Lemire’s right to free expression. The Canadian Human Rights Commission — which investigates complaints under the human rights act and determines which ones are referred to the quasi-judicial tribunal for adjudication — applied to the Federal Court for judicial review of the tribunal’s findings. Tuesday, Mosley released his 69-page decision.
The court found that the act’s penalty provisions — added in 1998 — were unconstitutional, saying they “fundamentally altered the nature of the section 13 process and brought it uncomfortably close to the state’s ultimate control measure, criminal prosecution.” But Mosley said the tribunal should have “severed” the penalty provisions and applied section 13 and its other remedies. Those parts of the act are “justifiable in a free and democratic society,” he found, and the tribunal erred by declining to apply them. “The minimal harm caused by section 13 to freedom of expression is far outweighed by the benefit it provides to vulnerable groups and to the promotion of equality,” he wrote. Mosley noted that the House of Commons has voted to repeal section 13 and leave the suppression of free speech to criminal prosecution. Nevertheless, he said he had no difficulty concluding that section’s objectives “continue to be substantial and pressing.” He ordered the tribunal to issue a declaration that Lemire’s publication of the offending article breached section 13 and determine whether a remedy, such as a cease-and-desist order, is appropriate.
Section 13 was included in the 1977 human rights act to address groups and individuals who were then using the telephone to disseminate hate messages. In 2001, as part of post-9/11 anti-terrorism measures, Parliament amended the act to specifically include Internet hate messages. Ever since then, the section has sparked intense controversy, with critics characterizing it as a tool for censorship. For all the sound and fury, Internet hate complaints have never been very numerous, making up about two per cent of all signed complaints received by the human rights commission. Since 2001, the commission has investigated 77 section 13 complaints, half of which did not proceed to the tribunal — a separate and independent body. Others were settled through mediation. Fewer than 20 have proceeded to the tribunal for a hearing, though all but a handful of those were upheld.
Warman, who once worked as an investigator for the human rights commission, has been the instigator of more than a dozen of the online hate complaints heard by the tribunal. Prior to the Lemire decision in 2009, all were upheld or settled in mediation. Philippe Dufresne, the human rights commission’s acting senior general counsel, hailed Mosley’s decision as important. “It clarifies the circumstances where a tribunal can refuse to apply legislation,” he said. “For us, the decision was about the rule of law. It was about tribunals following laws enacted by Parliament, unless they’re declared unconstitutional.” In that sense, Dufresne said, Mosley’s decision has broader implications. “It means any time you have a law that’s validly enacted and constitutional, tribunals have to apply them.” He wouldn’t say if the commission would push for a remedy when the Lemire case goes back to the tribunal, noting that it had not pushed for a fine when the tribunal heard the original case. “Our view was that in situations such as these, the proper remedy is a cease-and-desist order.”
Assuming that the bill repealing section 13 passes the Senate and receives Royal Assent, there will be a one-year transition period before the section disappears from the act. After that, Dufresne said, “it will no longer be possible for individuals to file complaints of hate propaganda with the commission.” But until that happens, he added, the existing law applies and the commission is required to enforce it. Lemire reacted to the decision on his freedomsite blog, calling it “both a major victory for freedom and a setback.” He called the court’s decision to uphold section 13 “the most shocking part of the decision,” saying it had given the controversial section “its last gasp of air.” Lemire said his decision on whether to appeal Mosley’s decision depended largely on whether he receives financial help from supporters. “I cannot carry on this important fight alone,” he told readers of his blog. “Your donations literally equal the survival of this case. No organizations are assisting with the bill at all.”
© The Ottawa Citizen.
Defendant ordered to write essay on racial and sectarian hatred (UK)
5/10/2012- A man who shouted racist abuse at a black teenage girl visiting the city has been ordered by a judge to write an essay on racial hatred. Derry’s magistrate’s court heard that Stephen Gerard Bradley, of Templemore Mews, shouted “nigger” at the girl, who was aged between 14 and 16-years-old and was walking in Shipquay Street area in the company of her foster mother on July 22 this year. It was also revealed that Bradley made a “German salute” towards the girl. District Judge Barney McElholm told Bradley he had brought “shame on himself” and “the city” by his “utterly abhorrent” behaviour. Imposing a suspended sentence and ordering him to pay the girl £1,000 compensation the Judge added that in some countries there would be a mandatory custodial sentence and he was trying to think of a reason not to send him to prison. Suspending a five month jail term for three years, Mr McElholm ordered that Bradley spend 18 months on probation. He ordered that as part of the probation the 28-year-old must “compose an essay on racial hatred and sectarian bigotry, why these things are wrong and how he is going to make sure he’s not going to mutter another sectarian or racially motivated word”. Mr McElholm said the only thing in Bradley’s favour was the early plea of guilty and the fact he doesn’t have a substantial criminal record.
He said the compensation would “not really compensate for the abuse and trauma it has caused” but it “may get her a decent holiday somewhere” The court was told that during interview, Bradley said he was sorry for making the comment and claimed he did it for the amusement of his friends. Bradley (28) also pleaded guilty to disorderly behaviour, assault on police and resisting police in a separate incident in August. The court heard that Bradley was causing a disturbance near his home and when police arrived he approached police in an aggressive manner. He began shouting at them and struck a female officer on the chest. The 28-year-old was arrested and when he was being taken to the police station he began singing a sectarian song. Defence solicitor Kevin Casey told the court his client accepts his behaviour was “completely intolerable” but was prompted by alcohol. The solicitor said the comments were “not in his nature” and he was “disgusted” and “embarrassed” by his behaviour. He added that “professional footballers who indulged in this sort of behaviour got financial penalties”.
© The Derry Journal
2/10/2012- A South Tyneside ex-soldier used his Facebook page to make racist comments about Muslims. Kenneth Holden wrote the anti-Islamic messages after he started supporting the far-right English Defence League (EDL). The 30-year-old was arrested after police were alerted to the abusive comments that were written on his personal page. Holden, of Winskell Road, South Shields, pleaded guilty to two counts of sending an offensive message by a public communication network at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court last week. Magistrates adjourned the case until yesterday for the probation service to write a report about him. The report recommended that Holden be placed under the supervision of probation so his attitudes towards Muslims could be looked at.
Kevin Smallcombe, defending, asked the magistrates to go along with the report’s recommendation. Holden was given a 12-month community order with supervision. Jeanette Smith, prosecuting, told the court that the messages were brought to the police’s attention on April 21. She said: “After receiving the report, officers searched Facebook, found the defendant’s page and saw the religiously abusive comments. “He was arrested, and asked the police if it was because he didn’t like Muslims. “In a second police interview, he posted the comments on his page and accepted that they could be seen as offensive to Muslims.” At the first hearing, Mr Smallcombe said: “He was in the Army, and has some fairly strong views about Muslims.
“He supports some of the beliefs of the English Defence League and believes that the group was started after some Muslims spat on soldiers who were returning from Afghanistan. “The comments on Facebook were of a religious nature. “Some people say it is part of free speech, but by his guilty plea Mr Holden accepts he crossed the line. “Most of our country has fair and tolerant views but some are extremists, on both sides of this argument.” Holden was also sentenced for a separate criminal damage charge relating to his grandfather’s home. The case goes back to June 28 when police found him in the house while his grandfather was in hospital. He had broken into the home through the back door. Holden was ordered to pay £60 compensation to his grandfather and £160 court costs for both cases.
© The Sields Gazette
Teenage girl targeted in racist attack on Plymouth birthday trip (UK)
A teenage girl was injured during a birthday ice skating trip – in what police have branded a "sickening" racist attack. Aimee Harris told The Herald how she was punched and kneed in the face by a fellow teen, whose parents disgracefully laughed off the youngster's tirade of racial abuse.
3/10/2012- The 17-year-old today branded her attacker "pathetic" as detectives examined CCTV footage in a bid to hunt down the culprit. Hairdressing student Aimee was enjoying a pal's birthday party at the Plymouth Pavilions ice rink when the attack happened. While she was on the ice she was tripped by another teenage girl – who was skating expertly with a boy as young as ten – but assumed the clash was an accident. However, after leaving the rink to remove her skates, the girl approached Aimee's group of friends and a row ensued. The Truro-born teen said racist lnguage was directed at her and she was told to "go back to her own country". Aimee then approached the girl's family to report the language to the youngster's mother. "I said, 'She can't go round being racist to people'," the Saltash College student said. "They just laughed and were saying to her I wasn't worth it. "I felt her family were basically encouraging her. "She followed me and came up behind me and pulled my hair back and punched me in the face. "I think she punched me twice, then kneed me in the face."
Detective Constable Louise Steele, who is hunting Aimee's attacker, said the girl's own mother eventually stepped in to pull her daughter away. Aimee, from Torpoint, escaped with swelling to her face, a bruised nose and a small cut to the inside of her lip. "I wasn't hurt," she said. "But I want them to know how much it hurts to get racist abuse. People like them are pathetic." DC Steele added: "This was an absolutely unprovoked attack on a teenage girl who was out having fun to celebrate a friend's birthday – and the most alarming part is that it appears the offender was there with her family. "It would appear from speaking to witnesses that members of her family were laughing at the racial abuse, which just makes it even more sickening. "This sort of behaviour will not be tolerated in Plymouth and we are confident somebody will come forward to identify the offender." The Pavilions was busy at the time of the assault, at around 3pm on Saturday, September 15. Police are searching for a white female, aged around 16 or 17 and of slim build. She had blonde hair in an untidy bun and wore a dark grey hooded top with distinctive yellow stripes down the sleeves, dark blue skinny jeans and pink fluffy socks. Anybody with information is asked to call DC Steele, of Devon and Cornwall Police's diverse communities team, on 101.
© This is Plymouth
Arrests over far-right attack (UK)
Four men and a teenager have been arrested after people attending a Liverpool anti-fascism event were attacked.
2/10/2012- Four men, aged 21, 24, 30 and 52 were detained after the North West Counter Terrorism Unit raided homes in Liverpool, Southport and Blackburn. A 17-year-old boy is also being held. Police said three members of an anti-fascist group were kicked and punched on 6 July by about 10 men from an extreme far-right group on Bold Street. All five, arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit violent disorder, are being questioned following the morning raids, supported by Merseyside and Lancashire officers. Det Supt Mark Smith, of the North West Counter Terrorism Unit, said there was "no specific threat" in connection with the arrests. He said: "These arrests are part of an investigation into pre-planned disorder that resulted in a number of victims receiving minor injuries. "As part of the NWCTU's remit, we investigate domestic extremism, which is an unlawful action that can be part of a protest or campaign."
© BBC News
Anti-Semitism on the rise in the UK
Anti-Semitism in the UK is on the rise again, especially around the time of the Toulouse massacre
29/9/2012- A report published this week by the Community Security Trust (CST) shows that anti-Semitic incidents in the UK have risen in the months January- June 2012, compared with last year’s figures. In the first six months of this year, 513 potential incidents of anti-Semitism were reported to the CST; of which the CST deemed 299 cases to be anti-Semitic. In comparison to 2010 figures, evidence from the report suggest two opposing trends; an increase in reported incidents in London and similarly a large fall in the number of incident reports in Greater Manchester. Figures suggest that anti-Semitism across the capital is heavily on the rise, a total of 148 incidents were recorded by the CST in the first half of 2012, a 48 percent increase when compared to 2011 figures (100). In terms of monthly incidents, March 2012 saw a significant rise in anti-Semitic incidents with a total of 73 cases being recorded by the CST. According to the report, the ‘total appears to have been influenced by the reactions to the terrorist shooting at the Ozar Hatorah Jewish School in Toulouse, France’. Two –thirds (49) of incidents were reported on or after 19 March 2012 and may have reflected ‘a greater motivation on the part of British Jews to report anti-Semitic incidents’.
Breakdown of incident categories:
In the first half of 2012, CST recorded 33 violent anti-Semitic assaults, one of which was so serious it was classified as extreme violence – meaning it posed a threat to life or constituted grievous bodily harm (GBH).
There were 28 incidents of damage and desecration of Jewish property in the first six months of 2012. There has been a rise in the number of direct anti-Semitic threats recorded by the CST (19) in 2012, compared with 15 threat incidents in January to June 2011.
Of the total incidents logged by the CST, the majority fall under the category of abusive behaviour which can range from anti-Semitic graffiti, one-off hate mail, and anti-Semitic verbal abuse.
Abusive behaviour accounts for 217 of the incidents recorded, a massive 10 percent increase from the 197 incidents documented in the first half of 2011. CST identified three incidents of mass-produced or mass-emailed anti-Semitic literature between January-June 2012.
Incident victims for the first half of 2012
- 136 incidents in which victims were random Jewish individuals in public
- 67 incidents involved victims who were visibly Jewish – wore religious or traditional Jewish clothing
- 36 incidents involved abuse shouted at a passing vehicle
- 12 incidents at Jewish Schools
- 11 incidents involved Jewish staff or schoolchildren on their way to or from school
- 7 incidents involved Jewish schoolchildren or staff at non-faith schools
- 14 incidents affecting Jewish academics, students, student unions or other student bodies (nine on campus, five off campus)
- 21 incidents involved synagogues
- 15 incidents targeted synagogues congregates or rabbis on their way to and from prayers
- 5 incidents involved a prominent Jewish individual or public figure
- 2 desecrations of Jewish cemeteries
One of the starkest statistics from the breakdown of victims is the total number of incidents (30) which took place in or around a schooling environment. Does this suggest that a younger generation of Britons are succumbing to racial hatred or discrimination among their peers?
Who are the perpetrators?
Of course while difficult to identify each individual or group guilty of such anti-Semitism within the UK, the CST report did record some statistics based on ethnicity, age and gender.
- In 76 of 299 anti-Semitic incidents - 57 percent were describes as white-north European, 29 percent as South Asian, 13 percent as Arab or north African and 1 was described as black.
- In 139 of 299 anti-Semitic incidents – 79 percent were male perpetrators, 18 percent were female and perpetrators in four incidents were mixed groups of males and females
- In 118 of 299 anti-Semitic incidents – 63 percent were adults, 35 percent were describes as minors and three incidents of mixed groups of adults and minors.
Click here to read the full report
© The Commentator
New wave of anti-Semitism in Berlin (Germany)
After an attack on a Berlin rabbi on month ago, the German capital has been rocked by two new antisemitic incidents. The Jewish community says society as a whole needs to combat anti-Semitism.
29/9/2012- On Wednesday (26.09.2012), the Secretary General of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Stephan Kramer, was threatened with an attack. On the same day, a taxi driver in Berlin refused to drive a family to a synagogue. Both cases have been picked up by the police for investigation. The two incidents took place only about a month after an attack on a rabbi that made the headlines across Germany - 53-year-old Daniel Alter was beaten up by a group of teenagers and verbally abused for being Jewish. The victim said the attacks were of Arab origin. But Levi Salomon, spokesman for Berlin's Jewish community, does not think that Berlin has become more anti-Semitic. "This city is a mirror of society in general," he said. "I believe that anti-Semitism is simply deeply rooted in Germany." The two incidents that took place this week received media coverage from all the major papers in Berlin. The Berliner Zeitung daily wrote in an editorial that society had to react: "It is not enough to ask for the voice of reason. A threat to Berlin's Jewish community is an attack on social order that we cannot accept."
Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit strongly criticized the incidents and called on the capital's citizens to take a stand. "Beyond the reaction of the security authorities, it remains society's task to condemn any form of anti-Semitism and xenophobia," he said in a press release. The incidents took place on Yom Kippur, one of the most important of Jewish religious holidays, though whether this was the motivation for the attacks remains unclear. Speaking through her spokesman on the same day, Angela Merkel had wished all Jews in Germany a good Yom Kippur.
Salomon believes the political debate on religious circumcision is part of the reason why anti-Semitic attacks in Germany are on the rise. In May 2012, a Cologne court had ruled that the circumcision of boys amounted to bodily harm and was therefore against the law. Both Jewish and Muslim organizations have strongly criticized the ruling. The German parliament is now create a legal basis for allowing religious circumcision, which is to come into effect this autumn. Though many politicians are alert to the problem of anti-Semitism, some in society see an opportunity to now express their xenophobic feelings, says Salomon. He believes the best way to combat anti-Semitism is to gradually change perceptions in society. "A debate on Judaism in society in general is not only advisable – it is necessary," he said.
© The Deutsche Welle.