ICARE Hate Crime News - Archive November 2012

Headlines 30 November, 2012

Headlines 23 November, 2012

Headlines 16 November, 2012

Headlines 9 November, 2012

Headlines 2 November, 2012

Headlines 30 November, 2012

Far-right Protests Scare UK Muslims

30/11/2012- Worried British Muslims are expected to flee their home village in Shotton Colliery, in North East England Durham County, to avoid confrontations with a far-right anti-Muslim protest. “We are very scared,” Imran Nadeem, 38, who works in the village’s Milco Store, told Hartlepool Mail newspaper on Friday, November 30. “There has been a Muslim presence in Shotton for at least the last 23 years, there are about five or six families, and we have been a very peaceful community.” Members of the English Defence League (EDL) are due to hold a demonstration in Shotton Colliery on Saturday, December 1, from 2pm. The march is in protest at Durham County Council’s approval of local businessman Kaiser Choudry’s plans to turn the former Melrose Arms pub, in the village’s Front Street, into a Muslim education centre.

Worried about their safety, Muslim families decided to leave the village early on Saturday, before returning to it after the protest. “We will be leaving the area for our safety tomorrow and we are worried about our business,” Nadeem added. The EDL, a far-right group that emerged in 2009, has held numerous protests against what it calls “Islamic extremism” in Britain. Far-right groups like the EDL and the British National Party (BNP) are playing the card of immigration to stoke sentiment against Muslims and immigrants. In November 2010, British police warned that the anti-Muslim demonstration by the EDL fuel extremism and harm social cohesion in Britain. The Walthamstow rally is not the first to be banned for the extremist EDL group. In September, the EDL was humiliated in Walthamstow when anti-fascists comprehensively routed it as it tried to stage a "national" demonstration.

Violence
Planning counter-demonstrations, anti-fascism activists warned that EDL has a history of violent protests. Sabby Dhalu from Unite Against Fascism, which is expected to stage a counter-demonstration, warned that previous EDL demonstrations have led to riots, violence, criminal damage and loss of income as workplaces close. Easington MP Grahame Morris said it is “outrageous that people are stirring up feelings in this way”. Durham Police are drawing up plans to ensure the demonstration goes ahead peacefully. The Mail reported last week that the EDL said this would be the “first of many” regional demonstrations. British Muslims, estimated at nearly 2.5 million, have been in the eye of storm since the 7/7 2005 attacks. A Financial Times opinion poll showed that Britain is the most suspicious nation about Muslims. A poll of the Evening Standard found that a sizable section of London residents harbor negative opinions about Muslims. The anti-Muslim tide has also been on the rise across Europe, with several countries are restricting the freedom of Muslims to wearing face-veil and building mosques.
© On Islam

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Where anti-Muslim sentiment leads (UK)

Mainstreamed anti-Muslim sentiment creates the climate for attacks and harassment.

29/11/2012- Condemning the presence of Muslims in Britain is now routine. Media darling and quintessentially English TV chef Clarissa Dickson-Wright (full name Clarissa Theresa Philomena Aileen Mary Josephine Agnes Elsie Trilby Louise Esmerelda Dickson-Wright) wrote in her new book  (published a few months ago) of her terror, when once visiting Leicester, and feeling ‘in the heart of a city in the middle of my own country, a complete outcast and pariah’. Muslim men (wearing ’Islamic clothing’) wouldn’t talk to her because she ‘was an English female and they don’t talk to women they don’t know’.[1] The Sun’s Trevor Kavanagh has offered his support, claiming that it is unsurprising how many ‘otherwise tolerant people’ feel as she felt when they enter what seems like a foreign land in Britain’s inner-cities.[2] Meanwhile, the Mail’s Peter Hitchens has, this month, warned how the ‘real Islamist threat to Britain comes from mass immigration and multiculturalism’, lamenting how ‘we now also officially urge them to stay separate from the rest of society, and apologise to them for our Christian traditions’, apparently.[3]

Last week, Keighley MP, Kris Hopkins, criticised the Children’s Commission’s report into child sexual exploitation for ‘dancing to a politically correct tune’ and ending up as an ‘opportunity lost’. The report provoked rage in some quarters because it didn’t capitulate to the dominant line that sexually exploiting white children was something inherent to British-Pakistani culture. The organisation JUST West Yorkshire reminded Kris Hopkins that all the report did was reveal that sexual exploitation wasn’t an issue intrinsic to one ethnicity, faith or ‘culture’. Kris Hopkins’ earlier remarks in the House of Commons about ‘gangs of Muslim men raping white kids’ may have made headlines, said JUST, but portraying sexual exploitation ‘primarily through a white girl/Muslim gang lens … does victims an injustice and even impedes efforts to keep children safe’.[4]

None of this rhetoric is new, of course. The suspicion of Muslims, that has been given legitimacy through the ‘war on terror’, has been absorbed into government policies, ‘intellectual’ arguments and tabloid columns for over a decade now. But it is a form of racism that has become so normalised within dominant frameworks in the media, and with opinion-formers, that it is now completely routine for Muslims to be maligned and derided. Little wonder that such public Islamophobic sentiments are the backdrop for violent attacks.

Earlier this month, a 28-year-old man in Dundee, Grant Robertson, pleaded guilty to assault and acting in a ‘racially aggravated manner’. He told police that he had thrown a sword at some Muslim men praying, and explained ‘I wish it got them in the throat’.[5] This came within a few days of an EDL supporter telling a jury that, although he had been part of one of the organisation’s demonstrations, in Surrey, in 2010, he was not part of a mob which went on to threw sticks, beer bottles and bacon at a mosque after it had finished. At the beginning of November, Barry Stanbury, a 42-year-old man, was convicted of vandalising a mosque earlier in the year. According to Islamophobia Watch, Stanbury’s Facebook page indicated his support for a plethora of far-right organisations.[6] Last week, a teenager was caught throwing pieces of ham at a mosque in West Sussex.[7] The week before that, racist graffiti was sprayed close to a mosque in Surrey.[8] The list goes on and on. A family in Nottingham moved into their new home this month, and soon after, they received a house-warming present of a burning cross wrapped in ham on their doorstep. It was a case that barely made the news.[9] When rhetoric begets racist reality the tabloids, of course, never want to know.

[1] Laura Elvin, 'Fury at TV chef Clarissa Dickson Wright's comments about Muslims in Leicester', Leicester Mercury (17 November 2012). [2] Trevor Kavanagh, 'Muslim leaders must re-brand religion for 21st Century Britain', Sun (18 November 2012). [3] Peter Hitchens, 'Dragging us into a futile war is a job for the political blowhards, General - not YOU', Daily Mail (22 November 2012). [4] JUST West Yorkshire, 'Open statement issued by JUST West Yorkshire in response to Kris Hopkins MP's statement in the Telegraph and Argus on grooming', JUST West Yorkshire (23 November 2012). [5] ‘Dundee man who threw a sword at Muslims faces jail’, BBC News (12 November 2012). [6] ‘EDL member claims he only attacked mosque because of news report from Libya’, Islamophobia Watch (2 November 2012). [7] Tom Pugh, ‘Boy held after ham thrown at Crawley mosque’, Independent (27 November 2012). [8] ‘“Racist graffiti” leads to arrest of Woking woman’, BBC News (15 November 2012). [9] 'Burning crucifix wrapped in ham left outside the home of Muslim family in suspected race-hate attack', SWNS News (22 November 2012).
© Institute of Race Relations

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Explicit anti-Semitism rare in Britain, report finds

29/11/2012- Explicit anti-Semitism is rare in British public life, Britain's Community Security Trust said in a report on anti-Semitic discourse in Britain in 2011. The 35-page report issued Thursday also reported that anti-Semitic themes alleging Jewish conspiracy, power and hostility to others can resonate within mainstream discourse about Israel and about so-called "Zionists." Explicit anti-Semitism tends to occur within circles that are also racist or hateful toward other groups, according to the report. In addition, fears that economic troubles in 2011 would spark anti-Semitism in Britain proved largely unfounded, but the trend to blame "Zionism" for anti-Muslim hatred intensified. This manifested itself, for example, in allegations that Zionism inspired Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik.

The British daily newspaper The Guardian reinforced its reputation as being the most subjective and contentious mainstream newspaper on issues of anti-Semitism in the context of Israel and Zionism, according to the report, despite the paper also warning against anti-Semitism in editorials. The report also found that fears and concerns about anti-Semitism expressed by mainstream Jewish communities and bodies are routinely ignored, or even maliciously misrepresented, within what are known as progressive circles, including some media, trade unions and churches. Few other minority representative groups, if any, are treated with such reflexive suspicion and ill will, according to the report.
© JTA News

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Gay People Living in Fear in Greece

By Fragkiska Megaloudi, Writer and researcher

26/11/2012- What was supposed to be a fun evening for Stamatis Peramatzis, turned out to be a nightmare. As the 39-year-old was walking out of a parking lot together with his partner in an Athens mall, a man out of nowhere appeared and screamed: "Faggots, we will kick you out of Greece and you will never come back". "I tried to ignore him, hoping he would just go away," Peramatzis recalls. "But he didn't. He came back together with another guy, dressed in black, yelling they were going to teach us a lesson." But the two men were lucky. A security guard came to their rescue and the worst did not happen. Peramatzis, who works for an international NGO in Athens, did not report the incident to the police. "My boyfriend was shocked and scared. We knew that the police would not do much to assist us".

Such is the new reality of being a gay in Greece today, where economic turmoil and a rise in national fervour has resulted in a spike in hate crimes against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community (LGBT). Last August, 25-year old Stefanos Agelastos, a science student and gay activist, was accompanying a friend to a bus stop when two men on a motorcycle asked them if they were gay. When Agelastos acknowledged he was, the men attacked them. "Suddenly, they started punching and kicking us. We were shocked. I managed to grab my mobile phone and call the police." Agelastos bitterly recalls that not one of the passersby came to their rescue. "People just ignored what was happening. Only a shop keeper from Pakistan and a drug user who was wandering in the street came to help". And though the young man reported the incident to the police, his assailants were never identified.

Although Greece has antidiscrimination laws protecting gays in employment, there are no hate crimes per se in its criminal code. Very few cases are being reported to the police because gay men and women fear further discrimination. At the same time the police remain poorly trained to handle increased homophobia and in most cases encourage the complainers to drop the charges. Of four such cases filed since September in Athens, not a single case has been prosecuted. "Homophobia is not something new. Greek society has always been profoundly conservative and oppressive," says Agelastos, who now lives in Spain with his partner. "Some years back, when I kissed my boyfriend in a public bus, passengers protested and verbally abused us." This is not surprising. In 2003, a Greek television station was fined 100,000 euros for showing two men kissing, while in October this year, Greece's national broadcaster E.R.T. cut a scene of a gay kiss from the evening British television series Downton Abbey.

"Before the financial crisis, people were tolerant as long as things were not visible. This tolerance was superficial. People were just too selfish," says Elena Diamantopoulou, an activist at Color Youth, a non-profit LGBT organization, adding that the root cause of discrimination is the lack of education. "There is no sex education in Greek schools and no discussion on sexual and gender identity." However, the situation has been aggravated with the financial crisis that has hit Greece hard over the last three years, activists say. The official unemployment rate has reached 25%t and half of Greece's youth are without work. Wages have fallen by a third since 2009 and more than three million live in this nation of 11 million with less than 300 euros per month, while prices in basic commodities have skyrocketed.

This increase in poverty and political instability has given rise to the far right Golden Dawn party which until recently had been largely obscure, winning 18 seats in last June's parliamentary elections. Legitimized by the media, Golden Dawn has since emerged as a 'player' in Greek politics by playing on real social anxieties and turning the country's most vulnerable into scapegoats to the current crisis. After beating up immigrants-or anyone they presume not to be Greek-along with stepping up their presence on the streets, Golden Dawn MPs are now leading gangs of supporters to raid and smash migrants stalls in the local flea markets. In October, supporters and MPs of Golden Dawn, attacked a theater showing Terrence McNally's Corpus Christi - a play depicting Jesus and his apostles as gay men in Texas - and forcing the show to be cancelled. As the actors cowered inside, calling frantically the police, one Golden Dawn MP was filmed outside, calling the actors "little faggots" and warning that "your time has come, you little whores".

"Homophobic attacks have always existed in Greece. In most cases they go unreported, as there is a general fear of reporting them to the police," says Andrea Gilbert, a spokesperson of the Athens Pride, a gay rights organization. "However over the last year there is a clear increase in antigay attacks. The perpetrators now act in seeming impunity and although we are not always able to name them as members of the Golden Dawn, their attacks follow the same patterns of the Golden Dawn's attacks against migrants. These people hate migrants, gays, foreigners, women. They hate everyone". So bad is the current situation that some have equated the attacks as similar to what happened in the early days of the Nazi party in Germany, when fascist gangs of uniformed men openly attacked gays, Jews, and others deemed socially undesirable. "People are afraid to go out anymore. They don't dare hold hands in public. The attacks deprive them of basic human rights, such as freedom of expression or the right to walk freely in the streets," says Gilbert.

Earlier in November, a gang of 12 men dressed in black who identified themselves as members of Golden Dawn physically attacked and chased volunteers distributing anti-hate flyers in Gazi, a gay-friendly area of Athens. "How can we ask our volunteers to go out and distribute flyers to the public? How can we send a 19 or a 20-year-old, out in the streets to raise awareness only to be physically assaulted by a gang of Golden Dawn supporters?" asks Gilbert. But what is even more worrying now is the escalation of the attacks. Since August, there have been at least two homophobic attacks per month - and those are only the ones officially reported, although activists believe this is just the tip of the iceberg. Today, gangs riding motorbikes and dressed in black, often carrying knifes, patrol the gay-friendly areas of the Greek capital, verbally and physically attacking those they assume to be gay, although the Greek police is not reporting any official figures. "If we look at the big picture, these attacks do not come as a surprise. The whole attitude of the Greek state and Greek society is racist," says Diamantopolou of Color Youth.

Only a few months ago, Greek authorities published photos and the personal data of HIV-positive sex workers, which resulted in a public outcry. The former Greek health minister Andreas Loverdos went so far as to propose the deportation of foreign sex workers with HIV saying that "the disease is transmitted from illegal immigrants to the Greek client, and consequently to the Greek family". But, despite rising levels of fear in Greece's gay community, many remain resolute, noting that the recent attacks have actually made people more determined and unified. "We will never abandon the fight and we will never leave the streets," says Diamantopoulou. "I will be there each day distributing anti-hate flyers and raising awareness. We came a long way, and we won't let a bunch of thugs intimidate us."
© The Huffington Post - UK

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Far-right MP in hot water over threats (Greece)

Prosecutor to investigate Golden Dawn official’s intimidation of demonstrators, police

26/11/2012- The neofascist Golden Dawn faced fresh scrutiny on Monday after the party’s spokesman allegedly threatened the lives of anti-fascist protesters at a party gathering on the island of Crete on Sunday while another MP unfurled the flag used by the 1967-74 junta. Police on Monday submitted to the prosecutor’s office in the port of Iraklio video footage of Golden Dawn MP Ilias Kasidiaris threatening officers. Kasidiaris swore at the officer in charge for not keeping anti-fascist protesters away from the venue of the gathering and told him that there would be victims unless the protesters were moved away. “Believe me, you will have dead people by tonight,” he can be heard telling the police in video footage uploaded onto the Internet. Later in the day, Kasidiaris claimed that he meant there would be victims if police did not take the necessary security measures.

The incident was condemned by political parties, with socialist PASOK referring to “unacceptable threats and verbal abuse” and leftist SYRIZA accusing the party of trying to create “a bloodbath.” In a separate event, Kasidiaris was filmed explaining how the party’s 18 lawmakers aim to take advantage of their parliamentary immunity and other privileges. “We can now carry guns legally and will not be arrested on the spot if there is an incident,” he said. “This makes us a bit more relaxed about our movements.” Another neofascist MP, Christos Pappas, unfurled the flag used by the 1967-74 junta at the event on Crete, to applause from party supporters. The coast guard on Crete is launching its own internal investigation after one of its officers was found to have used one of the service’s official cars to attend the Golden Dawn event.
© Kathimerini

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Fundamental Rights Agency: Hate crimes a reality in the EU

27/11/2012- Hate crime is a daily reality throughout the European Union (EU), two new reports by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) confirm. Violence and offenses motivated by racism, xenophobia, religious intolerance, or by a person’s disability, sexual orientation or gender identity are all examples of hate crime, which harm not only those targeted but also strike at the heart of EU commitments to democracy and the fundamental rights of equality and non-discrimination.
To combat hate crime, the EU and its Member States need to make these crimes more visible and hold perpetrators to account. Greater political will is needed on the part of decision makers to counter pervasive prejudice against certain groups and compensate for the damage. Victims and witnesses should therefore be encouraged to report such crimes, and legislation should be adopted at the EU and national levels obliging Member States to collect and publish hate-crime data. This would serve to acknowledge victims of hate crime, in line with requirements stemming from the case law of the European Court of Human Rights. To hold perpetrators better to account, legislators should also consider enhanced penalties for hate crimes to stress the severity of these offenses, while courts rendering judgments should address bias motivations publicly, making it clear that they lead to harsher sentences.

“Hate crimes create an ‘us and them’ mentality that does tremendous psychological damage”, says FRA Director Morten Kjaerum. “They undermine the basic democratic tenets of equality and non-discrimination. Hate crimes thus harm not only the victim, but also other people belonging to the same group – many of whom are terrified that they will become the next target – and society as a whole. To counter this, the EU and its Member States need to ensure both that such crimes are made visible, and that offenders are made to answer for the damage they have done”.

A new FRA report entitled Making hate crime visible in the European Union: acknowledging victims’ rights  outlines a fundamental rights approach to hate crime and offers a comparative analysis of official data collection mechanisms on hate crime in the EU Member States. It highlights challenges inherent in recording hate crime and considers how the scope of official data collection can be broadened to enable Member States to meet obligations toward victims of hate crime. The second report, EU-MIDIS Data in Focus 6: Minorities as Victims of Crime, presents data on respondents’ experiences of victimization across five types of crime, from theft to serious harassment. One section of the report looks specifically at minorities as victims of racist crime. The report shows that every fourth person (24 %) of the 23,500 respondents to the EU-MIDIS survey – the first EU-wide survey to specifically sample ethnic minority and immigrant groups on their perception of racially or ethnically motivated crime – said they had been a victim of crime at least once in the 12 months preceding the survey. On average, 18% of all Roma and 18% of all sub-Saharan African respondents in the survey indicated that they had experienced at least one racially motivated crime in the last 12 months.
© EU Fundamental Rights Agency

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Headlines 23 November, 2012

Serial sniper Peter Mangs was sentenced to life in prison by the Malmö District Court on Friday for murder and attempted murder.

23/11/2012- He was sentenced for two murders, five attempted murders and three cases of making aggravated illegal threats. He has been ordered to pay damages of over 1.1 million kronor ($165,000). According to the court, Mangs's crimes displayed "extreme recklessness and a complete lack of empathy for other people". "Based on the forensic psychiatric evidence presented in the case, Peter Mangs didn't suffer from any serious mental illness at the time of the deeds or during examinations. Thus there is no reason to give him special treatment when it comes to his punishment," the court wrote in a statement. Mangs’s lawyer Jesper Montan was unsurprised by the verdict. “We’ve known for a long time that Mangs would get a tough penalty,” he told the TT news agency.

Earlier this month, Mangs had accused a lay judge who heard the case of bias and demanded a retrial, but hie request was rejected. Mangs was arrested in November 2010 after a string of shootings that took place in Malmö against people of immigrant origin. He was charged with killing two men of immigrant origin, aged 23 and 66, in 2003 and a 20-year-old Swedish woman who had been sitting in a car with an immigrant man in 2009. He was also charged with 12 attempted murders in which he fired numerous shots with his Glock 19 pistol at homes, businesses and cars as well as out in the open, seriously injuring a number of people and coming close to killing many others. In July, after a highly publicized trial and a lengthy criminal investigation, the court ruled that he was guilty of 13 of the charges.

Mangs's lawyer told TT his client would have the final say on whether to appeal the verdict, and while no decision had yet been taken, he assumed Mangs would likely launch an appeal. Meanwhile, residents of Malmö welcomed the verdict for a man who had terrorized their city for years before his arrest. "It was a frightening time when Mangs was at large particularly for women. I spoke about it a lot with my family," Stefan Eldevall, 39, told The Local. "When he was caught it was a big relief...now he has been given life which, to be honest, is the only obvious sentence."
© The Local - Sweden

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Muslim radio station fined for saying gay people should be tortured (UK)

A Muslim radio station has been fined £4,000 after a presenter said gay people should be 'tortured'.

23/11/2012- Ofcom upheld two complaints from listeners about Leeds based Radio Asian Fever after presenter Rubina Nasir hit out at homosexuality and mixed faith marriages. She said that homosexuals should be 'beaten up' and that a Muslim marrying a non-Mulslim was on 'the straight path to hellfire'. The presenter, known as 'Sister Ruby', said: "What should be done if they do it? [practise homosexuality]. "If there are two such persons among you, that do this evil, the shameful act, what do you have to do? Torture them; punish them; beat them and give them mental torture." "Allah states, 'If they do such a deed [i.e. homosexuality], punish them, both physically and mentally. "Mental punishment means rebuke them, beat them, humiliate them, admonish and curse them, and beat them up. This command was sent in the beginning because capital punishment had not yet been sent down."

She was while giving her interpretation of a Qur'anic verse and Ofcom got an independent translation from the original Urdu into English. In a broadcast the following day she focused her attention on another Qur'anic verse and said it was critical of mixed-faith marriages. She said: "What happens when a Muslim man or woman get married to a Mushrak [a follower of another religion). "Listeners! Marriage of a Muslim man or woman with a Mushrak is the straight path to hellfire. "Have my sisters and brothers, who live with people of bad religions or alien religions, ever thought about what would become of the children they have had with them - and the coming generation? "Where the filth of shirk (the sin of following another religion) is present, where the dirt of shirk is present, where the heart is impure, how can you remove apparent filth. How many arrangements will you make to remove the apparent filth? "We are saying that Mushraks have no concept of cleanliness and uncleanliness."

The broadcast was aired last but Ofcom announced its sanction after an investigation. Ofcom said it regarded the comments as serious breaches of the broadcasting code and therefore a financial penalty should be imposed. It added: "The content of the programme broadcast on 17 August 2011 included two statements which Ofcom considered were likely to encourage or to incite the commission of crime against homosexuals and were likely to encourage others to copy unacceptable behaviour towards homosexuals." The radio station is also required to broadcast a statement of Ofcom's findings, on a date and in a form to be determined by Ofcom. The financial penalty is payable to HM Paymaster General.
© The Telegraph

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Religious hate crime in Scotland up a quarter

Religious hate crime increased by more than a quarter in Scotland in the year after Alex Salmond announced his crackdown on football-related sectarianism, it has emerged.

23/11/2012- Scottish Government figures showed there were 876 offences reported with a religious aggravation in 2011/12, a rise of 26 per cent compared to the previous year. The total linked to football increased 16 per cent over the same period, while almost six out of ten of all hate crimes were directed at Catholics. Although the number reported in Glasgow fell, the city still accounted for 40 per cent of incidents. The figures cover the first year after Mr Salmond held a summit between the Old Firm clubs aimed at reducing tensions between the pair. SNP ministers also introduced new anti-sectarian laws intended to help police stamp out the scourge, although experts warned they would do little to address the causes of bigoted behaviour. Roseanna Cunningham, the Community Safety Minister, said she hoped the public was now more confident about reporting hate crimes.

But Dave Scott, campaign director of anti-sectarian charity Nil By Mouth, said: “These figures are striking, both for the nearly 30 per cent rise in the number of offences and the fact that we have seen arrests in all 32 of Scotland's local authority areas. “There have now been over 6,000 arrests for sectarian offences since 2003 and on average only a third of these are football-related.” Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, President of the Bishops Conference of Scotland said he was “saddened” by the figures and the real scourge was not sectarianism but anti-Catholicism. “This is regrettable because popular culture is inventing all kinds of new reasons to marginalise and hate Catholics,” he said.

The number of football-related cases increased from 231 in 2010/11 to 267 the following year. Of this total, 67 happened at a stadium, while others took place on public transport, town and city centre streets and in residential areas. Fifteen were recorded at each of the Old Firm’s grounds, Celtic Park and Ibrox, with a further nine at Hearts' Tynecastle ground in Edinburgh. our more hate crimes took place at Hampden Park and four at Dunfermline Athletic’s East End Park ground. However, the report claimed this did not mean the perpetrators were “home or away supporters”. The victims in slightly more than half of all cases were police officers. Verbal or physical abuse was directed at Roman Catholics in 58 per cent of attacks, while 40 per cent of victims were Protestant.

There were 19 attacks on Islam and 14 on Judaism. However, a much higher proportion of cases with Muslim victims (26 per cent) involved physical assault compared to Catholics (three per cent) or Protestants (five per cent). Ms Cunningham said: “These figures show that as well as tough enforcement, we need to tackle the root causes of religious prejudice that sadly is all too prevalent in parts of Scottish society. That is why we are carrying out a range of actions to eradicate sectarianism.”
© The Telegraph

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Racism 'under-reported,' Race Council Cymru study finds (UK)

Racism in Wales is under-reported, according to a study by a race watchdog.

23/11/2012- Race Council Cymru said many black and minority ethnic people are resigned to accepting racism and change their own behaviour to try to deal with it. Language barriers, fear of reprisals and a lack of trust in the police were all reasons given for not speaking out, the report found. Around 4% of Wales' 3m population is from an ethnic minority background. The study interviewed 350 people representing a range of black and minority ethnic (BME) communities. It concluded that there is evidence that racism is often subtly reinforced by people's perceptions, but that verbal and physical abuse also still occurs. The report's author, Prof Heaven Crawley, director of the Centre for Migration Policy Research at Swansea University, people had described the abuse the suffer as "every day racism". She said: "It's things that happen when people get on a bus, they have verbal abuse hurled at them, they may be walking down the street and people are shouting things out of vans as they walk along.

"They don't use public transport. They cover up their skin. "Many young women in particular are choosing not to hear the hijab [head scarf] because that specifically targets them for racist abuse from passing people." Pro Crawley said Wales had seen "significant improvements" when compared to the experiences of black and ethnic minority people in the 1960 and 1970s. But a "a negative public debate about migration" had accompanied increased migration to Wales over the past 15 years and an increase in poverty and social exclusion in some areas, she said. "Those factors have combined to really make some of this behaviour almost acceptable and not challenged, not just by people from BME background themselves, but the rest of us who sit by and watch this happen." The race council's chair, Ray Singh, told BBC Radio Wales it was important that all public sector agencies, including the Welsh government, police and crime commissioners and schools challenge racism. He said: "Black and ethnic minority leaders also have a lot of responsibility in promoting a cohesive society in Wales."
© BBC News

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EDL leader arrested in connection with graffiti attacks on mosques and Sikh temples (UK)

19/11/2012- THE leader of the English Defence League (EDL) in Bristol has been arrested in connection with graffiti sprayed on mosques and Sikh temples. Mickey Bayliss, from Upton Cheyney near Bitton, was arrested on Wednesday. along with another man. The two had their properties searched but were not charged and have been released on bail. The arrests were made in connection with two incidents of criminal damage on mosques and a Sikh temple on Valley Road, Bedminster, and Church Road, Redfield, between September 21 and September 25. It is believed that the word “EDL” was dubbed in red graffiti on the properties on Church Road and grey graffiti on Valley Road. Police spokeswoman Catherine Foster said: “A 47-year-old man has been arrested under suspicion of criminal damage. “He has been bailed until January 22. “There were three incidents of criminal damage, two on Valley Road and one on Church Road.” She added: “A 36-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the same investigation.” Ms Foster said that the homes of the two arrested men were searched. Around 300 EDL supporters attended a rally in Bristol in July. Ten people were arrested during the protest, which drew around 500 counter-protesters.
© This is Bristol

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Soccer: Rome attack on Spurs fans linked to anti-Semitism (Italy)

One person badly injured, calls for govt to report to parliament

22/11/2012- The Italian government was called on to report to parliament on Thursday after anti-Semitism was linked to a brutal attack on a group of Tottenham Hotspur fans in a Rome pub overnight. Seven fans of English club Tottenham Hotspur were taken to hospital with injuries and one was in a critical condition after being set on by a group of assailants wearing helmets and armed with knives, clubs and knuckle-dusters. The most badly hurt of the fans, who were in Rome to see Tottenham take on Lazio in a Europa League match later on Thursday, is said to have suffered injuries to an artery after being stabbed in the leg and losing lots of blood. According to eye-witness accounts, the assailants shouted "Jews" as they attacked the fans in the Drunken Ship pub in the central Campo de' Fiori square, one of the focal points of Rome's night life.

Tottenham, or Spurs, are traditionally considered to have a strong Jewish element in their fan base and followers continue to be proud of this, although there seems to be little evidence that today they have a higher ratio of Jewish fans than other clubs. "I call on Interior Minister Annamaria Cancellieri to report to the Senate on what happened," said Raffaele Ranucci, a Senator for the centre-left Democratic Party, who also made an unsuccessful appeal for the match to be postponed. "It is necessary for the government to show the public and parliament the dynamics of an attack that is increasingly taking on anti-Semitic, racist, Fascist connotations". Some reports said the attack was carried out by as many as 50 youths. Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno said the number of assailants was smaller as he condemned the attack and called on police to find the culprits. "It is an episode of stadium thuggery transported to the centre of Rome," said Alemanno. "It's incredible that a group of 16 fans, thugs in reality, should move deliberately to go on a raid and attack fans of the opposing team.

"I hope the police and investigators find those responsible, because what happened shows that a band of madmen and criminals is in action, hiding behind the support in our stadiums and this is unacceptable". Police detained several Italians suspected of taking part in the raid and searched the homes of around six of them. An AS Roma supporter was arrested later in the day. Lazio hardcore 'ultras' were initially blamed by many for the attack. There are extreme right-wing elements in Lazio's support, including some Fascist sympathisers. Investigators have not ruled out the possibility that supporters of several teams were involved. Lazio Chairman Claudio Lotito flatly denied suggestions his side's supporters were responsible. "Lazio fans have nothing to do with what happened last night," Lotito said, claiming three non-Italians were among the attackers.

The head of the central Rome borough where the attack took place said the signs of it were still visible after dawn. "I spoke to the pub owner's assistant, who was on duty last night," said Orlando Corsetti. "A group of young men wearing helmets attacked the pub, first throwing rocks and breaking the windows and then starting the fight and stabbing the English tourists who are fans of Tottenham. "We don't know if the incident is linked to the match or if there are other reasons. "The pub is totally destroyed and there are still blood stains in the square". There have been several incidents of fans of foreign teams being attacked and stabbed before European soccer games in Rome in recent years. Three Middlesbrough supporters were stabbed during fights with AS Roma fans at the same pub as Thursday's attack before a UEFA Cup quarter-final in 2006. Thursday's match against Spurs was meant to be a celebration as Lotito has invited former England midfielder Paul Gascoigne to attend. 'Gazza', who has been engaged in a long battle against alcoholism, played for both clubs and is still highly popular among Lazio fans.
© Gazzetta Del Sud

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Anti-Semitic Radical Planned Poland Attack

Radical Nationalist Targeted Parliament With 4-Ton Car Bomb

20/11/2012- Polish officials said on Tuesday they had arrested a radical nationalist who planned to detonate a vehicle loaded with four tonnes of explosives outside parliament, possibly when the president and prime minister were in the building. The suspected plot was the first of its kind to be exposed since Poland threw off Communist rule more than 20 years ago. It is likely to put intense scrutiny on radical right-wing groups in Poland which are fiercely opposed to the liberal government. Polish television, citing sources close to the investigation, said the suspect planned to copy methods used by Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in bomb and gun attacks in Norway last year and said he was driven by far-right views. “The case looks very serious,” Pawel Gras, a government spokesman, told a local radio station. “We know that the possible targets were to be the president, the parliament and the government.”

Prosecutors said the man, a scientist who works for a university in the southern city of Krakow, had assembled a small arsenal of explosive material, guns and remote-controlled detonators and was trying to recruit others to help him. A video recording taken from the suspect showed what prosecutors said was a test explosion he conducted, sending up a huge cloud of dust and leaving a large crater in the ground. “The suspect does not belong to a political group or party. He claims that he was acting on nationalistic, anti-Semitic and xenophobic motives,” prosecutor Piotr Krason told a news conference. “He carried out reconnaissance in the neighbourhood of the Sejm (parliament). This building was to be the target of the attack. He collected explosives and materials for detonation,” Krason said.
© Reuters

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U.S. criticized for not reporting hate crimes to OSCE

20/11/2012- The United States was among many countries that failed to report anti-Semitic crimes to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe last year, OSCE wrote in its annual report. The report, “Hate Crimes in the OSCE Region-Incidents and Responses,” cited the U.S., along with France, Hungary and Greece, as among the countries that had failed to “collect, maintain and make public reliable data and statistics in sufficient detail on hate crimes,” as stated in a binding OSCE decision from 2009. The report was released last week.

Most of the international organization’s 56 state members provided “lacking data” on anti-Semitic and other hate crimes, the report said, despite the existence of data on the subject. In the U.S., the Anti-Defamation League's annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents recorded 1,080 anti-Semitic incidents in 2011. In France, the Jewish community’s watchdog on anti-Semitism, SPCJ, counted 343 anti-Semitic acts last year. Abraham Foxman, the ADL's national director, wrote in a statement that “lack of progress” on reporting is “disturbing.” “Data collection is especially important -- as the jumping-off point for a range of political, policy, education, prevention, and response measures," he wrote. "Understanding the nature and magnitude of the problem is the essential starting point.”

The United Kingdom recorded and reported 438 anti-Semitic hate crimes in 2011, according to the report. In Sweden, official law-enforcement figures recorded 194 anti-Semitic crimes. “The lack of accurate, comprehensive data on hate crimes undermines the ability of states to understand fully and to deal effectively with the problem of hate crime,” the report said.
© JTA News

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By WIilliam Wheeler, freelance journalist. His reporting was supported by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.  

17/11/2012- One evening in September 2011, Ali Rahimi, a 27-year-old Afghan asylum seeker, was hanging around with friends outside his building in central Athens when more than a dozen Greeks approached. Several men set upon Mr. Rahimi, one with a knife. Panicked, he fled into his apartment and fought back, managing to push the men out the door. He found blood gushing from just above his heart, one of five stab wounds in his back and chest. Mr. Rahimi survived and is staying put for now. But his friend, Reza Mohammed, who was also injured in the attack, is considering what was once unthinkable: moving back to Afghanistan, which he feels would be safer than Greece.

Greece is the major entry point for Asian and African migrants and asylum seekers headed into Europe; there are about one million of them in the country today, thanks to the failure of successive Greek governments to establish a functioning migration or asylum policy, and a European Union regulation that allows member states to return asylum seekers to the country where they first entered Europe, which is often Greece. Parts of Athens feel like a war zone. Racist gangs cruise the streets at night in search of victims. Themis Skordeli, a member of the group that is accused of stabbing Mr. Rahimi, ran unsuccessfully for Parliament on the ticket of Golden Dawn, a fascist group that is currently the third most popular party in Greece.

Golden Dawn was founded in 1985 under the order of the imprisoned leader of the Greek junta. The party entered the international spotlight after some of its members reportedly participated in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of Bosnian Muslims. Its publication praises the Third Reich and often features photographs of Hitler and other Nazis. By exploiting a security void and rising xenophobia, the party won a seat on the Athens City Council in 2010. In Greece’s election earlier this year, the party capitalized on widespread anti-immigrant sentiment and contempt for a political establishment that brought the country to the brink of economic collapse. It won almost 7 percent of the national vote and 18 seats in Parliament.

Recent polls show that its strength continues to grow, and its support runs as high as 50 percent among police officers, who routinely fail to investigate growing numbers of hate crimes. Far-right ultranationalist groups are exploiting old enmities and new fears across the Continent. Although this is not the Europe of the 1930s, the disillusioned citizens of countries like Greece and Hungary have turned increasingly to simple answers, electing parties that blame familiar scapegoats — Jews, Gypsies, gays and foreigners — for their ills. What’s at stake is the health of European democracy, and the values and institutions on which it rests. But while the euro crisis touched off a scramble to halt a financial meltdown, European leaders have done virtually nothing to reverse the union’s dangerous political trends.

Beneath the looming basilica of Athens’ largest church, middle-aged men and women in black Golden Dawn T-shirts were busy one bright September morning distributing food to needy Greeks. Kids ran across the courtyard, which was painted with the party’s unofficial platform: “Get foreigners out of Greece.” Clusters of fit, stoic young men in dark glasses ringed the perimeter. Nikolaos Michos, a square-jawed Golden Dawn member of Parliament with the build and tattoos of a heavyweight boxer, leaned against a bloodmobile watching. He wore a black polo embossed with the party’s Swastika-like logo. “We’re fighters and we’re not going to back down,” he said, referring to death threats from leftists and the burning of a Golden Dawn office. “But they’re not striking fear into us because every center they destroy, we’ll build new ones,” he added.

Maria Chandraki, 29, an unemployed beautician, hadn’t heard of Golden Dawn until the last election. “Their positions may be extreme,” she said, holding plastic bags of food she’d just received. “But the situation is extreme as well. So we need extreme measures.” She went on, “We can’t have so many nations and so many different sets of values and ideals under the same roof.” A few blocks down the street, a crowd was leaving a mosque after Friday Prayer. At the mention of Golden Dawn, immigrant men began lifting their shirts to show their scars. A short, sullen-looking young man with a cut across his nose and freshly sutured cheekbone, was pushed forward by the crowd. Just the night before, he said, he was beaten and cut with a knife by “fascists.” “Go into the Omonia police station,” said another man. “You will see how violence is going on.” Several blocks away, I walked into just such a scene. As I stepped out of the elevator at the police station, I saw an officer screaming at a black man and backhanding him hard across the shoulder.

Nikos Katapodis, 69, can see the crossroads where his family has lived since 1863. A bald, chain-smoking funeral-home owner, Mr. Katapodis describes the Greek government with a string of expletives. The flood of immigrants over the last decade created ghettos in central Athens, he explains. Crime rates rose, property values dropped and bars appeared on second-floor windows. “It looks like a prison,” he said, nodding to the street. “Today it reminds me of the late 1940s,” he adds. “You see people scrounging for food in the trash cans.” Although he didn’t vote for Golden Dawn, he sees it as “the only party that is actually doing things for the Greek people” — a cross between the welfare state and the Mafia. If he needed an escort to walk down the street or help paying for his cancer medicine, he’d call Golden Dawn. “They’re doing what the politicians should be doing,” he said. “There’s a hole, and they fill it.”

Authoritarian elements in the Greek government have a history of using far-right groups to outsource political violence against critics. Recent moves to rein in Golden Dawn came only after it grew too powerful to control and the state felt its own authority was challenged, explained Anastassia Tsoukala, a legal scholar. “They were bitten by their own snake,” she said. And Greece is not alone. Golden Dawn’s rise has parallels across Europe, and its significance should be of Continental concern.

In September, I sat in a Budapest courthouse as four men with tattoos and shaved heads filed past in handcuffs. Called the Death Squad, the men were charged with six murders during a wave of attacks against the country’s Roma minority, including one in which the attackers tossed a Molotov cocktail at a house and then gunned down a father and his 5-year-old son as they tried to escape the flames. In the wake of the Death Squad murders, Kristof Domina founded the Athena Institute to monitor European extremist groups. The Budapest-based institute’s Web site features a map of 114 extremist groups active in 13 European countries. Although there are reports that these groups communicate and sometimes travel across the Continent in search of weapons or training, the problem hasn’t been dealt with at a Pan-European level.

Unlike Greece, Hungary has a history of fascist groups, including the Hungarian National Front, an anti-Semitic, anti-Roma group that established an annual international neo-Nazi event and regularly holds paramilitary training exercises on a former Soviet military base (“an incubator for the Breivik-type people,” says Mr. Domina, referring to the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik). Since Hungary’s economic crisis began, new extremist groups have emerged and the Hungarian National Front has gained national prominence. In 2009, Jobbik, a self-described “radically patriotic Christian party” with an affiliated militia, entered Hungary’s Parliament. To rally its base, the party often relies on hate marches and intimidation campaigns that stoke racist fervor.

While Jobbik has traditionally tried to distance itself from more extreme groups, its true colors were on display at an August rally in the village of Devecser, where a Jobbik member of Parliament delivered the opening address. Subsequent speeches from other groups grew increasingly violent, climaxing in a tirade about “how the Roma people have to die and you have to kill them and we have to clean out the country,” as one witness recalled. The crowd eventually began throwing stones at Roma houses, chanting “you will die” and vowing to return.

Hungary’s ruling center-right party, Fidesz, is eager to win back some far-right voters it lost to Jobbik, so it won’t push back. Since being elected in 2010, Fidesz has pursued its own campaign of democratic rollback. Gerrymandered election districts, centralized control over the courts and the press and a new Constitution that dismantles checks and balances have caused discomfort in Brussels. In February, European Commissioner Neelie Kroes threatened to initiate proceedings that could strip Hungary of its European Union voting rights due to its controversial media laws. But that hasn’t happened yet — most likely because Brussels lacks enforcement mechanisms short of this “nuclear option.”

European leaders must not cede the battleground in the war of ideas. They should publicly denounce parties that espouse racist doctrines and spew hate-filled rhetoric and clearly define and defend the shared values of an increasingly integrated Europe. To do so, they must develop a Pan-European approach to monitoring hate crimes and investigating right-wing extremist networks that operate across borders. And the European Union must ensure that all member states, old and new, respect the same criteria that countries currently aspiring to join the European Union are required to meet, especially maintaining the “stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights, respect for and protection of minorities.” Otherwise, Europe faces the specter of more xenophobic violence and the unraveling of the liberal democratic order that has drawn so many persecuted people to seek asylum and opportunity on European shores.

In Athens, Sayd Jafari owns a cafe frequented by fellow Afghans. It has been repeatedly ransacked by mobs of black-clad attackers wielding sticks, chains and knives and performing fascist salutes. Like others who have been assaulted, Mr. Jafari is also contemplating returning home to Afghanistan. “There, maybe someone has a bomb hidden on his body that he detonates,” he says. “Here, you don’t see where the knife that kills you comes from.”
© The New York Times

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Police to probe shamed Sweden Democrats

The Stockholm police launched an investigation into whether the politicians who filmed themselves using racist language during a drunken fight are guilty of assault and incitement to racial hatred.

17/11/2012- The video of the men's drunken tirade on a 2010 summer night in Stockholm was published, bit by bit, by the Expressen newspaper this week, triggering a crisis within the Sweden Democrat Party. The police launched the inquiry on its own initiative after having seen the film clips. "When crimes come to our attention our task is to try and investigate them as much as possible," Stockholm police spokesman Lars Byström told Sveriges Television (SVT). The video clips show leading party members Erik Almqvist, Kent Ekeroth and Christian Westling harassing a drunk man, calling a young woman a "whore" and hurling racist abuse at Soran Ismail, a stand-up comedian.

Kent Ekeroth is also seen pushing a woman into the side of a car and, at one point, all three men wield aluminium pipes which they pick up from a construction site on the street. Almqvist and Westling have stepped down from their political posts, while Ekeroth has taken a "timeout" from politics. The party's youth wing has spoken out against the top leadership. In an open letter to the members, Sweden Democrat party secretary Björn Söder wrote that the past few days may be the Sweden Democrats' "biggest challenge ever as a political party." He asked members to stand united and wrote that it is "unfortunate" that the youth wing has openly criticized the party's crisis management. "What we need now is not a split but to support each other and to show unity in this incredibly difficult period," wrote Söder.

Overall support for the Sweden Democrats and party leader Jimmie Åkesson has weakened in the wake of the scandal. In a poll by the Novus Group, 40 per cent of 1,000 respondents said that their faith in the party has weakened, while 33 per cent said that their faith in Åkesson has weakened, too. However, among Sweden Democrat voters, 64 per cent still support Åkesson and 24 per cent said they now have more faith in the Sweden Democrats and its leader. The Sweden Democrats have demanded to see an uncut and unedited version of the film leaked by Expressen, but the newspaper's editor-in-chief, Thomas Mattsson, called this an "unrealistic demand". He said his paper will not comply.

Mattson told the Resume magazine that the party's demand "presumably reveals that the Sweden Democrats think it is more problematic that Expressen, day after day, reveals more new scandals than there are members of parliament - like Ekeroth and Almqvist - that are stilling being backed by the party?" While a preliminary police investigation into the three politicians' conduct has been launched, no one is at this point officially suspected of any crime.
© The Local - Sweden

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France sees alarming rise in Islamophobia

French Muslims have become the target of a marked increase in Islamophobic violence and actions, as well as incendiary statements by politicians, over the last two years, according to a report by a leading anti-racism observatory.

20/11/2012- The number of racist acts against Muslims in France is increasing “alarmingly”, according to the country’s National Observatory of Islamophobia, whose president has called for overt Islamophobia to be taken as seriously as anti-Semitism, which is a criminal offence in France. According to a report by the Observatory, which claims to fight “all forms of racism and xenophobia”, “in 2011 the number [of anti-Muslim attacks] was up 34% on the previous year ... but what is happening in 2012 is alarming. Between January and the end of October there were 175 reported Islamophobic acts, a 42% increase compared with the same period in 2011.” The report highlighted the occupation of a building site of a new mosque in Poitiers, near Paris, by 74 members of the extreme-right splinter group “Generation Identity”, who chanted hostile “warlike” slogans against Islam and Muslims.

The Observatory’s President Abdallah Zekri told France 24 that the rise in anti-Muslim sentiment in France could be partly explained by “the tense socio-political atmosphere in France being driven by a resurgence of the far right”. This resurgence was demonstrated in the 2012 presidential election, when Marine Le Pen, leader of the anti-immigration and anti-Europe National Front (FN), won 17.9% of the vote in the first round, a record for the party. “This tension has also contributed to a radicalisation of the political rhetoric of some mainstream politicians who exploit racial tensions for populist political gains,” Zekri said. Zekri also blamed the debate on “national identity that was launched by former president Nicolas Sarkozy and the law (pushed through under Sarkozy’s government) banning the wearing of face-covering Islamic veils." He added that the killings of seven people, including a young rabbi and three Jewish children in and around Toulouse in March by an al-Qaeda-linked French gunman, “had been seized upon by political figures to target the Muslim community, the vast majority of which condemned these murders.”

Furthermore, Zekri explained that the figures in the Observatory’s report only include “actions or threats against French Muslims that are directly linked to the fact that they are Muslims and when those people or their property are physically threatened.” The report stipulates: “The figures do not include acts of discrimination against Muslims or Islam generally, such as the rhetoric and declarations of certain politicians and their parties who openly stigmatise the Muslim faith, or in protests by “Identity” groups chanting slogans that are openly hostile to Islam.” “All forms of racial and religious intolerance are contrary to the values of the French Republic and should be dealt with accordingly,” said Zekri. Zekri told FRANCE 24 that he had asked President François Hollande to create a parliamentary commission to study the rise of anti-Muslim sentiment in France and to make it an issue of national importance “to bring Islamophobia in line with anti-Semitism, which is punishable under French law.”
© France 24.

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French Teens Burn Prayer Books at Jewish Cemetery

Two Arrested for Anti-Semitic Vandalism in Lyon 

19/11/2012- French police reportedly have arrested two teenagers on suspicion that they burned prayer books at a Jewish cemetery near Lyon in eastern France. The two are suspected of setting fire to the office of the cemetery at Champagne-au-Mont-d’Or on Sunday night, according to Le Progrés, a local newspaper. They are said to have set a tablecloth on fire and then used it to burn dozens of prayer books stored at the office. Police told the newspaper the motive for the arson was presumed to be “pure vandalism” and not anti-Semitism.

In a separate incident, the mayor of Caluire et Cuire, a suburb of Lyon, reportedly has filed a complaint with police over a large anti-Semitic graffiti that unidentified individuals spray-painted along eight meters of a wall near a main road. It read: “Longs live Bin Laden, all the Jews to the ovens” and included swastikas, according to SPCJ, the security unit of France’s Jewish communities. SPCJ posted a picture of the graffiti online. Referencing French President Francois Hollande, the graffiti also read: “Hollande the dirty Jew, you mother.”

The French news agency AFP reported that in a third incident in Paris, unknown parties spray-painted the words “Hessel is an anti-Semite” on the home of the 95-year-old pro-Palestinian activist and Socialist activist Stephane Hessel. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, a German daily, last year quoted Hessel – a Jewish Holocaust survivor and author of a popular booklet “Indignez-vous!” – as saying that the Nazi occupation of France was “relatively harmless” compared to the “Israeli occupation of Palestine.”
© JTA News

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Police silent in Greece on migrant's jail ordeal

17/11/2012- Greek police have said they are unable to answer questions relating to the detention in a police cell for four days of an Egyptian man who was the victim of an apparently racist attack because the issue is now before the courts. As reported in the The Irish Times on Tuesday, earlier this month, Walid Taleb (29) was abducted and tortured by the baker, for whom he worked, in an 18-hour ordeal in a stable on the Greek island of Salamina. Mr Taleb, chained during the attack, said the baker, his son and two accomplices threatened to kill him and bury him in the outhouse. Mr Taleb, who is an undocumented migrant from Egypt, managed to escape when his tormentors left to open the bakery the following morning. He was then taken to hospital for treatment but medics said there was no need to keep him in. Police then subsequently kept him in a cell with criminal suspects at Salamina police station for three nights, before taking him to Athens central aliens bureau, where preparations were made to deport him to Egypt.

The Irish Times submitted five questions to the police press office on Monday but was told that the queries would have to be resubmitted via the government’s information and communications secretariat, formerly the press ministry, and that it would take two days to respond. Among the questions were why Mr Taleb was kept in police custody and why he received no medical attention during that time. Two days later, the police claimed that as his case had been forwarded to an examining magistrate they could no longer comment on the case. “The press office of the Hellenic Police has just informed us that the case . . . is no longer in their jurisdiction, since the brief has already been filed to the district attorney’s office,” an email from the information secretariat stated. “So, they won’t be able to answer your questions.”

Unprovoked harassment
However, on the morning that the newspaper’s questions were submitted, the police press office discussed the facts of the case off air to a morning news show after Mr Taleb, who was finally admitted to hospital six days after his ordeal, spoke to the programme. “We spoke to the press spokesman of the Hellenic Police and he confirmed everything that his [Mr Taleb’s] Egyptian interpreter said,” a presenter on Mega TV announced after the interview. Human rights groups have strongly condemned the police’s treatment of the victims of racist crimes. “Many undocumented victims we interviewed said they did not seek assistance from the police because they feared detention and deportation, and many others who never approached the police cited the experience of friends who tried to report crimes and had been turned away or ill-treated,” said Eva Cossé, who monitors Greece for an NGO. Yesterday, the US embassy in Greece warned its citizens of “a rise in unprovoked harassment and violent attacks against persons, who because of their complexion, are perceived to be foreign migrants”.
© The Irish Times.

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Headlines 16 November, 2012

No suspects in Malmo JCC attack, police say (Sweden)

17/11/2012- Police in Malmo, Sweden have no suspects in September’s attack on the city’s Jewish community center. Anders Lindell, a police spokesman, told JTA that all charges were dropped against the two young men whom police arrested shortly after the Sept. 28 attack. “We have concluded the suspects could not have done it," he said. "The investigation is ongoing.” The two 18-year-old men were arrested shortly after an explosion was heard outside the city’s community center, which also houses a day school for Jewish children. The bullet-proof entrance door was smashed in the incident. Police at first declined to define the attack as anti-Semitic, but eventually classified it as a hate crime.

In 2009, unidentified persons set off an explosive device outside the city’s synagogue. In the past few years, approximately 70 anti-Semitic incidents were reported annually in Malmo, a city whose population is 30 to 40 percent Muslim and whose Jewish community is a few hundred strong. Malmo’s mayor, Ilmar Reepalu, has equated Zionism to anti-Semitism, has said that the Jewish community had been infiltrated by extreme rightists and has advised Jews not to support Israel for their own safety. The per capita prevalence of anti-Semitic incidents in Malmo is twice that of Stockholm, the capital.

There have been a number of marches to protest anti-Semitism in recent months, drawing both Jews and non-Jews and in one case, Reepalu. Earlier this week, the Swedish Committee Against Antisemitism, an NGO, recognized with an award Siavosh Derakhti, a 21-year-old Muslim from Malmo who filmed an educational trip he had made to Auschwitz. Derakhti has screened the video in Swedish schools in an effort to educate young Swedes about the Holocaust.
© JTA News

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London Package Bomb Attempt Was Hate Crime (UK)

Explosive Device Sent to Home Was Aimed at Jews

14/11/2012- Metropolitan Police reportedly said the recent delivery of an explosive device to a house near London was an anti-Semitic hate crime. The explosive device was sent to a house in Clayhall near London, causing police to close the area to traffic on Monday, according to the Ilford Recorder, a local newspaper. The report did not say how the package was delivered or who was the intended recipient. Explosives experts examined the package and made it safe. The house to which the package was delivered remained cordoned off while police conducted their investigation. Nobody was injured during the incident and police say the package posed no danger to the public, the Recorder reported. London24, a news site, quoted Clayhall resident Michelle Levy as saying that the device was discovered inside the house of her next-door neighbor.
© JTA News

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Dundee man who threw a sword at Muslim men faces jail (UK)

A Dundee man hurled a sword at three Muslim men as they stood outside a block of flats after escaping from a fire, a court has heard.

12/11/2012- Grant Robertson, 28, launched a tirade of abuse at the three men following the incident on 26 January. At Dundee Sheriff Court, Robertson pleaded guilty to a charge of acting in a racially aggravated manner and to assaulting the men. Sheriff Elizabeth Munro released him on bail ahead of sentencing next month. The court heard that when he was arrested Robertson told police: "I threw my sword out the window at them, I wish it got them in the throat." Dundee Sheriff Court was told that Mahmut Turk had been praying in his flat in the city's Craigmount Road at about 00:10 on the night of the incident when he smelled smoke. He woke his roommate Yusuf Akhaya, who called the emergency services, and then rushed from the flat, where they met their other roommate, Emre Sezen.

Racist abuse
But as they waited for the fire brigade, Robertson climbed out of his first floor window and began his tirade. Fiscal depute Trina Sinclair told the court: "Police attended with the fire brigade and went in to make inquiries. The accused then came to the window of the property and started shouting at the three men, saying things like 'I will kill you all' and 'Muslim bastards'." She told the court Robertson then disappeared from the window and came back brandishing the weapon. Ms Sinclair said officers could see the accused hanging out the window shouting and swearing. She added: "Police attended his property and spoke to him through the door, but he continued shouting and swearing and making racial remarks."

Murder threats
The fiscal depute said Robertson was taken to police HQ and charged with attempted murder. She told the court: "In reply he said 'I never attempted to murder, If I was going to murder him I would do'." Police had originally charged Robertson, who has previous convictions for assault, breach of the peace and vandalism, with attempted murder. Defence solicitor Ross Bennett reserved his plea in mitigation for a later sentencing date. Sheriff Elizabeth Munro released Robertson on bail ahead of sentencing next month. She said: "That doesn't mean I'm not considering a custodial sentence."
© BBC News

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Arrests made after racially motivated attack on taxi driver (UK)

11/11/2012- Police investigating a racially motivated assault on a taxi driver in Redditch have arrested five people. It happened at about 12.30am on Saturday, November 3, after the driver had picked up a group of youths from Enfield Road, near the Red Lion pub. While they were in the taxi they directed racial comments towards the driver and when the taxi pulled over outside Oasis Dental Care in Bromsgrove Road they dragged him from his seat and assaulted him, leaving him with facial injuries, including a fractured eye socket and bruising. A man and four youths were arrested on suspicion of assault. The man and three of the youths have been released on police bail pending further inquiries, and the other youth was released without charge.
© The Redditch Advertiser

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OSCE: Hate Crimes Threaten Bosnian Society

Hate crimes are hampering reconciliation process in Bosnia and Herzegovina, warns an OSCE report.

13/11/2012- The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, OSCE, in the report titled “Tackling Hate Crimes”, warns that the Bosnian society, which is still recovering from the early 90's conflict, faces a challenge to rebuild trust amongst national groups because of hate crimes. According to the chief of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Fletcher Burton, crimes based on prejudice against a particular ethnic group are corroding the Bosnian society. “Hate crimes strike at the very fabric of this society. They destroy trust and communities. This is why we do not want to leave this report on the shelf. We will continue our advocacy campaign and use these recommendations to improve the work of various agencies dealing with these issues”, said Burton. Sasa Bojanic, the national legal officer of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina who worked on the report, said that the most common hate crimes in the country are verbal and physical assaults on members of different ethnic groups and attacks on religious objects.

The OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina has issued set of recommendations for the Bosnian authorities and civil society organisations after it had monitored 100 hate crime trials in the country. The OSCE wants harsher punishment for hate crimes than sentences for the same offences in their ordinary form to ensure there is a “just and fair redress for the damage suffered”. “Both the explicit reference to a bias motivation behind a criminal act and the compensations for damage are important ways of recognizing the gravity of the offence,” states the report. Ambassador Burton specifies that the OSCE recommendations on how to tackle hate crimes revolve around five issues. The OSCE wants improvement in legislation, specialized training for judicial and law enforcement agencies, better data collection on hate crimes, as well as increasing public condemnation of crimes and support for civil society organizations working on reconciliation. Adam Kobieracki, the Director of the OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre, who also attended the presentation of the report on Tuesday, said it is vital that hate crimes are prosecuted and condemned because they “provoke tension that can evolve into conflict”.
© Balkan Insight

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Dutch police nab suspected stabber of French Jew (Switzerland)

13/11/2012- Dutch police reportedly arrested and extradited to Switzerland a 22-year-old Briton suspected of stabbing a Jewish man in Geneva. The suspect is a member of extreme right circles, according to CICAD, a Swiss watchdog on anti-Semitism, and was arrested last month in the Netherlands. DNA evidence linked him to the stabbing, according to Johanne Gurfinkel, secretary general of a CICAD, an institution of the Swiss Jewish community. According to the CICAD website, the suspect was arrested following "a long investigation by the police department of Geneva and an international arrest waarant issued."

The attack occurred last December in the car park of Geneva’s Natural History Museum as the victim, a haredi Orthodox Jew, was putting a baby carriage in the trunk of his car. His attacker allegedly stabbed him four times in view of the victim’s family. The victim, a French national from Aix les Bains, some 40 miles from Geneva, sustained serious injuries and was hospitalized for more than a week. He was visiting friends in Geneva along with his wife and five children, the oldest of whom was 9. The children were in the car and his wife was at the wheel when the man was attacked and stabbed from the back, according to a report on the incident by SPCJ, the security unit of France’s Jewish communities.

The attacker seemed “particularly determined to kill the victim,” according to SPCJ. The victim, however, managed to hit the attacker in the face and fend him off with the baby carriage. The victim suffered lacerations on his back and face; the knife also penetrated one of the victim’s lungs. The attacker fled but left some DNA, which the Swiss police collected and filed with the European wanted persons database, leading to his arrest and extradition, Gurfinkel of CICAD told JTA.
© JTA News

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US Embassy warns Americans of possible racist attacks in Greece

16/11/2012- The U.S. Embassy in Athens updated its travel advice Friday for American citizens visiting Greek cities, warning them to beware of the possibility of "unprovoked harassment and violent attacks" against people who could be mistaken for foreign migrants. Greece has seen an increase in racist violence over the past year, with dark-skinned migrants attacked by groups of men armed with metal bars, knives and wooden bats. Tens of thousands of migrants have also been rounded up by police in a government crackdown on illegal immigration. The country has also seen a rise in popularity of the extreme nationalist Golden Dawn party, which went from a fringe group in 2009 elections to win nearly 7 percent of the vote and 18 seats in the 300-member Parliament in June. The party advocates that all immigrants should be expelled, but denies its members have been involved in racist attacks.

In a security message, the embassy said the State Department's travel section had been "updated to inform U.S. citizens of a rise in unprovoked harassment and violent attacks against persons who, because of their complexion, are perceived to be foreign migrants. U.S. citizens most at risk are those of African, Asian, Hispanic, or Middle Eastern descent in Athens and other major cities." The travel advice on Greece also said the embassy "has confirmed reports of U.S. African-American citizens detained by police authorities conducting sweeps for illegal immigrants in Athens." Tourism is a major source of revenue in Greece, and the country is sensitive to any travel advice that might affect visitors. The country is struggling through a deep financial crisis that has left one in four Greeks out of work and the country facing a sixth year of a recession.

"Greece was and remains a safe country," Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras said in a statement. "The isolated incidents of racist violence which have occurred are foreign to Greeks, our civilization and the long tradition of Greek hospitality." Delavekouras stressed that the government was "following a zero tolerance policy" against such incidents "and is taking all the necessary measures for the prevention and suppression of such behavior, which we condemn." On Thursday, police said a 31-year-old Greek policeman had been arrested on suspicion of robbing migrants at gunpoint in a racially tense part of central Athens. The muggings took place in the capital's Aghios Panteleimon district, home to thousands of immigrants from Asia and Africa — many of whom entered Greece illegally. The crime-ridden area has become a flashpoint of recent racist attacks, with gangs of ultranationalists smashing immigrants' shops and attacking dark-skinned people.
© The Associated Press

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On streets of Athens, racist attacks increase (Greece)

12/11/2012- The attack came seemingly out of nowhere. As the 28-year-old Bangladeshi man dug around trash bins one recent afternoon for scrap metal, two women and a man set upon him with a knife. He screamed as he fell. Rushed to the hospital, he was treated for a gash to the back of his thigh. Police are investigating the assault as yet another in a rising wave of extreme-right rage against foreigners as Greece sinks further into economic misery. The details vary, but the cold brutality of each attack is the same: Dark-skinned migrants confronted by thugs, attacked with knives and broken bottles, wooden bats and iron rods. Rights groups warn of an explosion in racist violence over the past year, with a notable surge since national elections in May and June that saw dramatic gains by the far-right Golden Dawn party. The severity of the attacks has increased too, they say. What started as simple fist beatings has now escalated to assaults with metal bars, bats and knives. Another new element: ferocious dogs used to terrorize the victims.

"Violence is getting wilder and wilder and we still have the same pattern of attacks ... committed by groups of people in quite an organized way," said Kostis Papaioannou, former head of the Greek National Commission for Human Rights. As Greece's financial crisis drags on for a third year, living standards for the average Greek have plummeted. A quarter of the labor force is out of work, with more than 50 percent of young people unemployed. An increasing number of Greeks can't afford basic necessities and healthcare. Robberies and burglaries are never out of the news for long. With Greece a major entry point for hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants seeking a better life in the European Union, foreigners have become a convenient scapegoat. Some victims turn up at clinics run by charities, recounting experiences of near lynching. Others are afraid to give doctors the details of what happened — and even more afraid of going to the police. The more seriously hurt end up in hospitals, white bandages around their heads or plaster casts around broken limbs.

"Every day we see someone who complained of (some form) of racist violence," said Nikitas Kanakis, president of the Greek section of Doctors of the World, which runs a drop-in clinic and pharmacy in central Athens that treats the uninsured. Racist attacks are not officially recorded, so statistics are hard to come by. In an effort to plug that gap and sensitize a population numbed by three years of financial crisis, a group of rights groups and charities banded together to document the violence. They registered 87 cases of racist attacks between January and September, but say the true number runs into the hundreds. "Most of the time the victims, they don't want to talk about this, they don't feel safe," Kanakis said. "The fear is present and this is the bigger problem." Frances William, who heads the tiny Tanzanian community of about 250 people, knows the feeling well. "People are very, very much afraid," he said, adding that even going next door to buy bread, "I'm not sure I'll be safe to come back home."

The community's cultural center was attacked several weeks ago, with amateur video shot from across the street showing a group of muscled men in black T-shirts smashing the entrance. Earlier that day, children standing outside during a birthday party were threatened by a man brandishing a pistol, William said. The recent elections showed a meteoric rise in popularity of the formerly marginalized Golden Dawn, which went from less than half a percent in 2009 elections to nearly 7 percent of the vote and 18 seats in the country's 300-member parliament in June. Campaigning on a promise to "clean up the stench" in Greece, the party whose slogan is "blood, honor, Golden Dawn" has made no secret of its views on migrants: All are in the country illegally and must be deported. Greece's borders must be sealed with landmines and military patrols, and any Greeks employing or renting property to migrants should face punishment.

The party vehemently denies it is involved in racist attacks. "The only racist attacks that exist in Greece for the last years are the attacks that illegal immigrants are doing against Greeks," said Ilias Panagiotaros, a burly Golden Dawn lawmaker who divides his working time between Parliament and his sports shop, which also sells military and police paraphernalia. His party is carrying out a "very legitimate, political fight . through parliament and through the neighborhoods of Athens and of Greece," he said. The party's tactics — handing out food to poor Greeks, pledging to protect those who feel unprotected by the police — are working. Recent opinion polls have shown Golden Dawn's support rising to between 9 and 12 percent.

In late August, the conservative-led coalition government began addressing the issue of illegal immigration by rounding up migrants. By early November, they had detained more than 48,480 people, arresting 3,672 of them for being in the country illegally. Rights groups also warn that what started as xenophobic attacks is now spreading to include anyone who might disagree with the hard-right view. Greek society must understand that the far-right rise doesn't just concern migrants, said Kanakis. "It has to do with all of us," he said. "It's a problem of everyday democracy."
© The Associated Press

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Neo-Nazis vandalize German Holocaust monument on Kristallnacht anniversary

On same night as anti-Semitic incident, more than 1,000 people march in a lantern-lit procession against racism and right-extremism

10/11/2012- Eleven Holocaust memorial plaques in the east German city of Greifswald were uprooted by neo-Nazis on Friday, in an anti-Semitic incident that occurred on the 74th anniversary of Kristallnacht. The memorial plaques were part of a monument to mark the November 9, 1938 pogroms in which the Jews of Greifswald were arrested and murdered, and Jewish businesses and synagogues were vandalized. The 11 plaques uprooted on Friday night were part of the European Stolperstein (“stumbling block”) memorial project. Each plaque was engraved with the names of Jews who perished in the Holocaust, and embedded in the sidewalk in front of the houses where they once lived. The local police has announced a 2,500 Euro reward for anyone who provides information that leads to an arrest of the perpetrators. Greifswald mayor Arthur Konig said he would do everything in his power to support the investigation, saying, “People who deny to this day that Jewish citizens were slain (in the Holocaust) will not gain the upper hand.”

Marching against racism
Also on Friday, more than 1,000 people in the eastern German state of Western Pomerania marched in a lantern-lit procession against racism and right-extremism, marking the anniversary of Kristallnacht. The crime prevention council of the small city of Wolgast called for the event to take place. Kristallnacht, or Night of Broken Glass, was the first openly violent Nazi-sanctioned targeting of Jews, when mobs torched synagogues and destroyed thousands of Jewish shops and private homes around the country. In 1989, it was also the date that the Berlin Wall fell and German President Joachim Gauck said Friday in Berlin that the two events were inseparable. “The happy events of November 9, 1989, are a part of the other, bitter November 9," Gauck said, adding that the younger generation should never forget "Nazi barbarism," but should also include the fall of the Wall in their memories. The president said that today, instead of the state-sanctioned exclusion of Jews, there was a legal system of democracy and human rights, thanks also to the East Germans who took part in the revolution for freedom. A spokesperson for a coalition supporting the Wolgast effort, "Western Pomerania: Open-minded, Democratic, Diverse", said that the march would defend the grave and historical meaning of the day for victims of Nazism, and that it would serve as a clear rejection of neo-Nazi ideology.
© DPA

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Headlines 9 November, 2012

Jewish Family Attacked in Marseille, France

5/11/2012- The father of a Jewish family was badly beaten and the family home was completely trashed on Sunday by local youths in Marseille, France. Residents in their Jewish neighborhood are stunned following the incident. Marseilles is home to some 80,000 Jews – 10 percent of the general population but a small fraction compared to the 250,000 Muslims with whom they also live. It has been relatively quiet France's second-largest city this year, compared to other areas in the country where violent anti-Semitism has been on the rise. Last month the SPCJ (Service de Protection de la Communaute Juive) security agency for French Jewry reported a 45 percent rise in anti-Semitic attacks since 2011, mostly by Muslims. This incident began when two youths parked their car in a Jewish family's private garage. When the family saw the unfamiliar vehicle they called police, and the car was towed. Upon finding their vehicle gone and learning it had been towed, the youths became angry.

They returned with a gang of friends to exact their revenge upon the hapless family. The gang broke into the home, severely beat up the father of the family and destroyed the rest of the house. According to local sources, one of the youths reportedly attempted to murder the father. Neighbors heard the family's screams coming from the home and called police, who arrested the attackers. Upon leaving the scene, the attackers promised to “finish the job,” according to local media reports. In May of this year, a 17-year-old Jewish youth wearing a kipa was also attacked by four male gang members who shouted “It's Shabbat for you, long live [Al Qaeda-linked French Algerian Muslim terrorist] Mohamed Merah! F*** the Jews.... Palestine will win!” One of the gang members jumped on to his victim, punching him in the arm and kicking him in the leg. The victim punched him back. The attacker also punched the victim's brother-in-law, who tried to block the attack, according to Tel Aviv University's Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry.
© Arutz Sheva

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Neo-Nazi thugs threaten safety of Greek gays

'Gays are the new Jews' in Greece, claim campaigners amid escalating violence against the LGBT community in Athens

8/11/2012- Campaigners are warning of escalating violence against gays in Athens, after knife-wielding neo-Nazis attacked a group of LGBT activists. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups in the Greek capital are 'extremely alarmed' about the escalating number of homophobic incidents in the city. The Network for Recording Incidents of Racist Violence claims gay people are the 'new Jews in Greece', with far right groups such as Golden Dawn fanning the flames of hatred against the LGBT community. On Saturday (3 November), a gang of thugs who claimed to be members of the neo-Nazi party attacked a group of volunteers distributing anti-homophobic flyers in Keramikos/Gazi, a popular bar-cafe district.

According to Athens Pride, 12 men physically assaulted and terrorized the volunteers, chasing them through the narrow surrounding streets. It is believed that at least one of the attackers wielded a knife. 'We call upon all international bodies and concerned citizens in Greece and abroad to condemn Golden Dawn and all manifestations of homophobia and transphobia in Greece,' said Andrea Gilbert, spokesman for Athens Pride. 'Democratic freedoms cannot be allowed to collapse on the excuse of economic hardship.' The attacks follow protests against the staging of a controversial play about the story of Christ in central Athens. At one picket last month, Golden Dawn MP Ilias Panayiotaras launched a homophobic rant, shouting 'Wrap it up you little faggots' and 'Your time is coming'.
© Gay Star News

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Neo-Nazis attack Egyptian expats in Greece

7/11/2012- Dozens of Egyptians living in Greece were attacked by members of the Neo-Nazi Party in what is seen as an act of racism against them. “Egyptians are subjected to racist attacks almost on daily basis in a number of Greek cities,” Tarek Nagati, a member of the Egyptian community in Greece, was quoted as saying Tuesday by the Egyptian newspaper al-Youm al-Sabea. According to Nagati, Egyptians are the victims of several murder attempts across Greece and their properties are constantly looted. Several activists from the Egyptian community in Greece have posted on the social networking website Facebook photos that document discriminatory practices against Egyptians living there, many of which features brutal beating and further violence across several Greek towns.

The paper published a list of the names of Egyptians who have been subjected to attacks, whether by Neo-Nazis or others. Mohamed Salam, 31, was brutally beaten by his employer until he suffered internal bleeding in the brain. This caused the blockage of the coronary artery and halted his blood flow to the brain. Momtaz Moheb suffered bruises, deep cuts, and concussion after a group of Greeks attacked him in the city of Kallithea in southern Greece while another attack on Beshoy Nathan in the same city left him with injuries in the hand and a fractured nose. Activists who have been working on documenting the abuses to which Egyptians are subjected also said that the Greek police turns a blind eye to those crimes.
© Al Arabiya

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Gay barman was killed by teenager in panicked frenzy after sexual encounter (UK)

Ryan Esquierdo, 19, admits strangling Stuart Walker, 28, and setting his body alight after pair met by chance on walk home 

8/11/2012- A teenager has admitted killing a gay barman and then setting his body alight after he flew into a rage when they discussed his confused sexuality. Ryan Esquierdo, 19, attacked Stuart Walker, 28, and choked him to death after the pair had met one night while they were separately walking home in Cumnock, East Ayrshire, in October last year. Esquierdo confessed that he had fallen into an "uncontrollable rage" after Walker, who worked in a local hotel bar, had tried to comfort him after he admitted being unsure about his sexuality. The two men then had sexual relations in a local industrial estate, sparking off a violent, sustained attack on Walker by Esquierdo, who then set Walker's body alight to conceal the evidence and then lied to police about the attack. The case shocked and unnerved the town, raising fears Walker was the victim of a homophobic murder; at the time, the police refused to disclose many details about his death.

Further details about the circumstances surrounding Walker's death emerged at Glasgow high court on Thursday after Esquierdo entered a plea on a reduced charge of culpable homicide and attempting to defeat the cause of justice. The prosecution accepted the plea, reducing the charge from murder, after hearing that Esquierdo had been suffering from post-traumatic disorder at the time after suffering abuse as a child. He will be sentenced next month. The two men had met by chance that night as they were each returning home. Esquierdo was lying on a wall apparently asleep when Walker woke him. Andrew Brown QC, for the prosecution, said they discussed Esquierdo's sexuality. He had had girlfriends but his sexuality was a topic of conversation among his friends. "Stuart Walker was only sympathetic with (Esquierdo's) conflicted position," Brown told the court. "The accused described feeling safe talking to Mr Walker."

But after they had sexual relations, Esquierdo became unhappy and started to panic. Brown told Judge Rita Rae that Esquierdo had been abused as a boy and experienced flashbacks as he and Walker embraced. It triggered an "uncontrollable rage" within the teenager, leading to "extreme and explosive violence" against Walker. Brown added: "The deceased would have had no warning or sense of what was going to happen." The court heard that Esquierdo texted a friend, Mary-Ann Dykes, claiming that he and Walker had both been victims of a violent attack. After Dykes came across Walker's body, the police were called and Esquierdo again claimed he had been attacked by others. Derek Ogg QC, defending, said the killing was "not a gay hate crime" and was instead "far more complex than that". Ogg said: "I would like to place on record Ryan Esquierdo's utter bafflement and horror that he could inflict such violence."
© The Guardian

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Gang attack blamed on Russia's ban on 'gay propaganda'

Assault in Moscow club heightens concern as rights groups accuse police of tolerating attacks 

4/11/2012- Alyona Korolyova thought she had seen everything – the lifting of Russia's ban on homosexuality after the Soviet Union fell, the slow appearance of mainstream gay clubs, and even, once, a young gay couple on a TV sitcom. Then last week, Korolyova, 48, was forced to stand pressed against the wall of a gay-friendly club and watch as a group of burly men, their faces hidden with surgical masks, repeatedly kicked her girlfriend in the head as part of an organised attack. "I never thought I would live to see this," Korolyova said. "It was like a movie, a nightmare." The attack on 7freedays, a club in central Moscow, has heightened fears among gay rights activists that new laws targeting "homosexual propaganda" in cities around Russia have created an atmosphere where discrimination – and violence – against gay people is now tolerated. "The authorities have given a command – that such attacks will not be punished, that we are a group to be hated," Korolyova said.

The incident took place last week during a celebration of the internationally observed National Coming Out Day. Despite the club's serpentine hallways, the men knew which room to run to, and divided up in planned formation, patrons said. "At around 9.30pm, a group of masked men ran by me, yelled: 'This fight has been ordered' and began overturning tables, throwing chairs and beating whomever fell under their hands," Andrei Obolensky said. The attack lasted five minutes. Four people – three women and one man – were treated in hospital and at least a dozen left with cuts and bruises. The attack is one of several to have been reported since Russian cities began adopting the laws amid a wider government initiative to push for ultraconservative policies. Discrimination is even more widespread. Gay pride marches are regularly banned in Russia and this summer, Moscow's highest court banned gay pride parades in the capital for 100 years.

Eight Russian regions have banned so-called "homosexual propaganda" in the past year – Arkhangelsk, Ryazan, Kostroma, Magadan, Novosibirsk, Krasnodar, Bashkortostan and, most controversially, St Petersburg, Russia's second city and its cultural capital. A bill on a national ban has been submitted to the Duma, the Russian parliament. Igor Kochatkev, the head of LGBT Network, a St Petersburg-based gay rights advocacy, said: "Of course there is a link – we see that whenever such laws on propaganda are adopted, or even discussed, then the activism of violent groups increases." The day after the law was adopted in St Petersburg in March, a group of men attacked one of its most popular gay clubs, Malevich. Similar attacks were recorded in the city in May and June, according to LGBT Network. The attack on 7freedays came a day after People's Council, a nationalist group, called on authorities in Moscow to ban "homosexual propaganda".

Oleg Kassin, a member of the group, denied any link to the attack. "We don't go down the path of violence," he said. "Only the path of law. We are working to create a necessary legal basis, the necessary laws." He accused LGBT activists of organising the attack themselves to raise their profile. Kassin said People's Council, an anti-immigrant pro-church group, worked with "friendly deputies" to push for the passage of anti-gay laws. One such deputy is Vitaly Milonov, an outspoken and religious MP in the St Petersburg legislature who has become the face of Russia's anti-gay movement. He has supported charging Madonna with promoting "homosexual propaganda" after an August concert in St Petersburg where she spoke out in support of gay rights. A city court has demanded the pop star appears for a hearing into the charges – she has not responded. "Homosexuality is a sickness. It must be treated like a tooth that hurts," said Milonov, who put forward the St Petersburg law this year.

According to the Levada Centre, an independent pollster, many Russians agree. A poll taken in July found 32% of Russians saw homosexuality as "a sickness or the result of a psychological trauma" – 43% saw it as "debauchery or a bad habit". Milonov plays to those views, while pushing for the interests of Russia's Orthodox Christians. It is no wonder gay rights activists feel threatened. "We see these new laws being adopted," said Obolensky, "and then many clerical representatives and nationalists say that LGBT people are sick and need to be healed. This raises the level of intolerance in society". Korolyova, who was in the Moscow club at the time of the attack, said that she would not change her behaviour: "We will not go underground. We will not hide."
© The Guardian

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Russian Nationalists March in Moscow

4/11/2012- Thousands of Russian nationalists and ultra-conservative Orthodox activists marched along a central Moscow embankment on Sunday to protest mass immigration and demand tougher internal travel restrictions on people from the country’s mainly Muslim North Caucasus. “Russia for Russians, Moscow for Muscovites,” chanted protesters, many with their faces covered by scarves or surgical masks, as a police helicopter hovered above. Police said 25 people were arrested for displaying Nazi symbols as the march started. “Immigrants show no interest in assimilating into Russian society,” said Sergei, a 25-year-old office worker, who declined to give his surname. “If things don’t change, we could see massive ethnic clashes,” he said, as protesters gathered opposite Gorky Park. Police said some 6,000 people had attended Sunday’s approved march, but organizers put this figure at 10,000. Unsanctioned nationalist rallies also took place across the country, with dozens of arrests reported in St. Petersburg, the Tatar capital, Kazan, and Yekaterinburg in the Urals.

Russia’s myriad nationalist groups have gathered every year in Moscow on National Unity Day since the public holiday was instituted in 2005. But this is the first time in four years the so-called “Russian March” has been held in the city center. Sunday’s march, which wound past the Christ the Savior Cathedral, was headed by religious activists wearing black “Orthodoxy or death” t-shirts and holding aloft religious icons and crosses. “I am against immigration,” said Leonid Simonovich-Nikshich, the white-bearded head of the militant Union of Orthodox Banner-Bearers movement. “And I am against the idea of tolerance and political correctness – the Bible makes no mention of tolerance.” There was no violence reported on the march, but leftist activists later said they had been attacked by a group of about 30 nationalists at a metro station near Red Square.

“Nationalists chanting ‘Glory to Russia!’ attacked my fellow anti-fascist activists and threw one of them onto the tracks,” Revolutionary Socialist Movement member Isabel Magkoeva told RIA Novosti. She said three activists had been taken to hospital after the attack. A Moscow police spokesperson said they had received no reports of violence at the station. The head of Russia’s Federation of Migrants Muhammad Amin Majumder slammed last week the decision to allow nationalists to rally in the city center on National Unity Day. “The march could split society,” he told RIA Novosti. “There are millions of Russians who do not share the nationalists’ views.”

Racial tensions in Russia have been exacerbated by mass labor immigration from former-Soviet Central Asian republics such as Tajikistan, and by frequent clashes in Moscow and other major cities between ethnic Russians and youths from the North Caucasus. Nationalists point to high crime rates among illegal immigrants as proof that the Kremlin’s migration policies have failed. Moscow investigators said earlier this year that illegal immigrants were responsible for around one-third of reported rapes in the city. Anger over how the police handled the investigation into the killing of ethnic Russian football fan Yegor Sviridov by a group of youths from the North Caucasus resulted in some 5,000 nationalists and football hooligans rioting outside the Kremlin walls in December 2010. Nationalist groups also accuse the Kremlin of seeking to pacify the volatile North Caucasus region with disproportionate federal budget funding.

The police have claimed success at breaking up neo-Nazi groups in the Moscow region. But race-hate crime figures remain high: 20 people were killed and at least 130 wounded in racially motivated attacks across Russia last year, according to the Sova center for research into nationalism and racism. Some at Sunday’s march even expressed sympathy with Anders Breivik, the ultra-right Norwegian terrorist who in 2011 killed over 70 people, many of them teenagers, in what he called an attempt to save the country from multiculturalism. “What else could he do?” said Igor Baranov, a 20-year-old student. “It was a cry of desperation. The same thing could easily happen here if the authorities don’t act.”

President Vladimir Putin has described himself as a nationalist, and in January pledged to crack down on “aggressive, provocative and disrespectful” internal migrants who fail to respect “the customs of the Russian people.” But he also warned against promoting the creation of a “mono-ethnic, national Russian state,” calling it “the shortest path to both the destruction of the Russian people and Russia’s sovereignty.” However, an opinion poll carried out in August by the independent, Moscow-based Levada Center indicated that 41 percent of Russians agree to some extent with the nationalist slogan “Russia - only for Russians.” Opposition figurehead Alexei Navalny, who spoke at last year’s Russian March, apparently sought to distance himself from this year’s event. His spokeswoman said last week that while Navalny, head of the anti-Putin movement’s newly formed opposition council, would attend, he was not planning to address the crowd. But Navalny tweeted on the eve of this year’s march that he had come down with “flu.”

Ethnic Russians ‘Suffering’
“Putin may be an ethnic Russian, but he does not operate in the interests of his own people,” said Vladimir Tor, one of the organizers of the march, when RIA Novosti visited him in his plush downtown Moscow office ahead of the event. “He acts in the interests of the oligarchs and his own security elite, people from the former KGB.” “Ethnic Russians are suffering,” added Tor, 44, one of the five nationalists in the opposition council. “All other ethnic groups in our country have their own republic within Russia, but there is no republic for ethnic Russians.” Tor’s National Democratic Party said earlier this year that the party had been “almost entirely cleansed of so-called skinhead elements” and Tor, an articulate, well-dressed businessman with a neat goatee, has little in common with popular images of far-right thugs. But his rhetoric is familiar, echoing the ideas of nationalist groups across Europe.

“I am absolutely against immigration,” he said, sitting in front of a large map of Russia. “Sociological studies demonstrate that mass immigration from countries with different cultures, ethnic groups, and religious beliefs causes problems.” “We can see this most clearly right now in France, where we see a conflict between the traditional population and immigrants from Africa and the Arab world,” he goes on. “It’s possible that Europe has crossed the point of no return, as far as immigration goes. We do not wish Russia to share the same fate.” And although he condemned the race-hate violence that has claimed the lives of over 200 people of “non-Slavic appearance” since 2008, Tor said the killings amounted to “an insignificant” proportion of the some 30,000 murders that take place in Russia each year. “It would be really surprising, actually, if they did not occur,” he said.

Tor stressed that large-scale race-hate disturbances would be unavoidable if the Kremlin fails to address the concerns that millions of Russians have over immigration. “I would prefer this problem to be resolved by parliamentary means. And I see no reason why it cannot be,” he said. “But the fewer the legal means to solve the issue, the more violence there is on the streets.”
© RIA Novosti

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Headlines 2 November, 2012

Man punched in head on Coventry bus in hate attack (UK)

1/11/2012- A CCTV image of a man who repeatedly punched a man with learning difficulties on a bus in Coventry has been released. The attack on the 22-year-old man on the 544 bus near Riley Square is being treated as a hate crime. PC Nigel Gregory said: "This was an appalling unprovoked attack that left the victim visibly shaken and with minor injuries." The attacker is described as white, stocky and aged 18 to 20. He was wearing a grey hooded top and ran from the bus after the assault at 19:55 BST on Thursday 11 October. Anyone with information about the attack is urged to contact West Midlands Police.
© BBC News

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ADL: 1,080 Anti-Semitic incidents in 2011 (USA)

1/11/2012- An audit released by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on Nov. 1 reported that 1,080 anti-Semitic incidents took place across the United States in 2011; of those, 235 incidents took place in California. For the third consecutive year, California led the nation in the number of anti-Semitic incidents, according to the report. “It’s not just mild stuff. It’s really quite shocking the level of vitriol out there,” said Amanda Susskind, regional director of the ADL Pacific Southwest division. A national agency whose mission is to fight anti-Semitism, racism and bigotry, the ADL annually releases an “Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents,” tracking the number of anti-Jewish assaults, vandalisms and harassments during the previous year. There were 19 physical assaults on Jewish individuals; 731 cases of harassment, threats and events; and 330 cases of vandalism this year, the audit found.

Incidents in Los Angeles included a physical assault in May 2011, when a Jewish middle-school student in the San Fernando Valley, a constant target of bullying, was assaulted from behind and choked by one of the bullies. In October, a teacher in Los Angeles was called “Jew boy” by another teacher and was assaulted with a pipe. The audit reveals two emerging trends, Susskind said. The first is that anti-Semitic bullying in schools is increasing. “It feels to me like a casual use of anti-Semitic epithets has become more acceptable among kids,” Susskind said.

The second trend is the increasing prevalence of anti-Semitism online, including on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook and in the comments sections on news Web sites, Susskind said. One incident of vandalism in the report garnered much attention from local news outlets in April 2011, when three Calabasas High School students spray-painted anti-Semitic graffiti on their school campus. The students were arrested and tried as minors. Two of the students were ordered to complete 100 hours of community service, and the disposition of the third student was not made public. After the incident, the ADL provided training to student leaders from Calabasas High in advance of the start of the 2011-12 school year.

The ADL attempts to be consistent each year in gathering data for the report, but the audit’s methodology is “not scientific” Susskind said. Using data gathered by the ADL’s 30 regional offices and law-enforcement agencies across the country, the audit counts both criminal and noncriminal acts. It does not include images of swastikas — a universal symbol for hate — that do not target Jews, nor does it include anti-Semitism that occurs on thousands of Web sites, comments sections and other forums because they are “virtually impossible to quantify,” according to the ADL Web site. In addition, the audit includes criticism of Israel or Zionism only if those criticisms cross the line from political expression to anti-Semitism.

The report does not account for anti-Semitic attitudes, which are on the rise, according to a 2011 ADL national telephone survey. In 2011, two multistate violent plots by white supremacists appeared to target Jews, according to the report. White supremacists David Pedersen and Holly Grigsby were allegedly traveling to Sacramento to target Jews when police apprehended them in October. Convicted felon Danny Lee Warner Jr. was arrested in December after violating parole and allegedly sending a letter to his wife that said he intended to kill Jews.

Cyber-bullying and text messages are often used to target Jewish children, adolescents, teenagers and college students, including using words evoking Holocaust imagery, the audit suggests. At a college in Milledgeville, Ga., a Facebook message to a Jewish student read, “I hope you burn in hell.” In Milton, Mass., a Jewish student was jumped on and bitten in his dormitory by a neighbor who had previously made anti-Semitic comments. Harassment against Jewish individuals — or individuals perceived to be Jewish — during speeches, picketing and other events is also recurring. In the San Fernando Valley, two individuals drove past Jewish pedestrians and shouted, “We’re going to kill all you f--- Jews.” In the Orange County city of Villa Park, a boy who refused to take a Bible from Evangelists who were handing them out at his school was knocked to the ground and kicked by another student while being called anti-Semitic slurs.

In August, anti-Semitic graffiti that read, “666” and “Go home,” was discovered on the temporary offices of the San Fernando Valley congregation Temple Judea. Said Susskind: “It’s amazing to me; we should be pretty immune to this stuff by now, but ultimately I have the same reaction this year reading the actual report [that I have every year] … you just kind of have to say, ‘Whoa, that’s really shocking.’”
© The Jewish Journal

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Extremists getting more sophisticated (Slovakia)

29/10/2012- Fast and easy solutions, standing up for ‘all decent people’, fighting the ‘mismanaged and corrupt’ system: these are a few of the new slogans currently used by extremists to bring their views into the mainstream. Extremist groups and their opinions are not relegated to the margins of society, the police admit in a recent report, while human rights watchdogs warn of extremist views being adopted by mainstream politicians. The number of detected crimes related to extremism sharply increased in 2011 to 271 (compared with 115 detected the previous year), according to the Report on Fulfilling the Tasks Based on the Conception of the Fight against Extremism, which was submitted for interdepartmental review on October 11, 2012. “The increased number of reported cases is connected with the police’s focus on this area,” said Michal Slivka, the spokesperson of the Police Corps Presidium, adding that with hate crimes it is often the case that the victims do not report them because they are intimidated and repeatedly threatened with further violence from the perpetrators.

According to police statistics in 2011, however, only about 45 percent of the detected crimes of extremism were actually investigated. Irena Bihariová from the NGO People Against Racism (LPR) sees several reasons behind this. “It is the result of long-term trivialisation of this issue,” she said, adding that for years the police have complained that they lack sufficient support from the Interior Ministry, that there is a shortage of staff and that they do not receive professional preparation and training. “This area really requires radical legal, organisational and personnel reform,” she said. Bihariová does not believe that the reported statistical increase of criminal acts of extremism sheds much light on the current situation. “If one notices the structure of specific criminal acts that were recorded, it suggests that the police got stuck somewhere in 2004 in identifying this type of criminality,” Bihariová said.

The most frequently detected criminal act is the promotion and support of movements directed at limiting the rights and freedoms of others, which includes swastikas graffitied at bus stops or groups of drunken youngsters giving Nazi salutes. “While the police make detecting such crimes their showcase for their fight against extremism, in reality they are failing to notice the growing core that has long since ceased presenting itself through Nazi salutes, swastikas and T-shirts with forbidden topics,” Bihariová said.

Abusing frustration
Even though the public shuns extremist groups overall, people tend to agree with some of the specific ideas that extremist groups promote, a research project from 2011 called Public Opinion on Right-Wing Extremism, authored by sociologists Elena Gallová Kriglerová and Jana Kadlečíková from the Centre for the Research of Ethnicity and Culture, supported by the Open Society Foundation, has shown. “It seems that their current activities are an attempt to change their negative image,” Gallová Kriglerová told The Slovak Spectator, adding that in a time of growing tension in society it is quite possible that a certain part of the population might lean towards extremist groups, since they very often hold the same opinions about some things. “It looks like that’s exactly what’s happening at the moment in our society,” Gallová Kriglerová noted.

Protesting
Extremist groups in Slovakia seem to be trying to improve society’s negative perception of them, speaking in the name of ordinary citizens and talking about the protection of their own rights, Gallová Kriglerová said. The police also noted in their report that during 2011 there was an increase in the number of organised protest gatherings (against budgetary measures, in reaction to cases in the media, or even directly motivated by anti-Roma sentiments) that were later abused by supporters of extremist movements. “The extremist scene in Slovakia underwent a visible change from relative anonymity through civic associations up to the political scene,” the report reads, adding that extremists are using the problems of socially disadvantaged groups of citizens and the frustration of locals.

Citizens’ “only ally”
The far right is now working to convince people that its solutions are the only effective ones, although in reality they are most often technically, financially, and legally impossible ideas, on the level of “pub recipes”, according to Bihariová. “And since people today are really frustrated and feel that the state doesn’t offer solutions regarding the issues of marginalised Roma communities, the far right seems to be becoming their only ally,” Bihariová explained. The Slovak political scene continues to walk the line of public opinion, which is tuned to a strong anti-Roma theme, Gallová Kriglerová said, adding that, however, political parties not only listen to public opinion and react to it with their inactivity; they also have the power and ability to form public opinion. “Their social responsibility lies in the fact that they can influence their voters and therefore it should be in their interest to move public opinion towards higher tolerance and mutual respect of all inhabitants of the country,” she noted, adding that, however, in practice the opposite seems to be happening. “As long as the state doesn’t manage to take responsibility on a macroeconomic level and doesn’t start to play fair, by directly telling the public that the politics of repression and restriction is a populist road to nowhere, the far right will continue taking the wind out of their sails,” Bihariová said.
© The Slovak Spectator

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Golden Dawn takes advantage of recession ravaged Greece

Fascist gangs are turning Athens into a city of shifting front lines, seizing on crimes and local protests to promote their own movement, by claiming to be the defenders of recession ravaged Greece.
By Damien McElroy, Athens

2/11/2012- Thugs wearing the black T-shirts of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party are carrying out attacks on immigrant markets and in public squares, according to the United Nations, with victims speaking of areas in the capital which are now strictly off limits. Malik Abdulbasset, an Egyptian-born shopkeeper, found himself the target of one of the mobs on Wednesday night after the barber across the road was stabbed during a robbery. Golden Dawn members led a crowd of enraged locals in a protest on Mikhail Voda St that turned violent despite the presence of riot police. While no one witnessed the attack on the barber, residents were adamant the assailant was black. After battering his Egyptian assistant, the mob turned on Mr Abdulbasset, who had defied police to keep his shop open. "I had to turn and point to my Greek children and my Greek wife and say, look I am Greek, we are Greek, if you want to kill us we cannot stop you but you are killing your own."

The riot police watched on but did not intervene and threats of more protests were pasted on nearby doors. "I will not close my shop because it is not my fault. But at the same time if something was to happen to my shop I will leave Greece because I am not protected." Ilias Panagiotaris, an MP for Golden Dawn, and a leading party figure in Athens, was unapologetic about his group's methods. "Most nations, well, not the US or Australia, have a single nationality that defines its culture and Greece must return to this ideal," he said. "The Golden Dawn is a very well organised party that is intervening to support and help people. Without us in a country where two million of ten million people are illegal, there would be chaos." Support for his party has doubled from the seven per cent it received in the last Greek election, according to an opinion poll this week.

One of its main claims is it would dragoon immigrants on to flights to Islamabad and dare Pakistan to shoot the aircraft down. Mr Panagiotaris added the 'papers' of every Greek who had acquired citizenship would be thoroughly vetted. "Everyone should have their documents inspected and those that bought their papers expelled."
The undisguised extremism promoted by Golden Dawn is a chilling watershed in Greece's post-war democracy. Dimitra Xirou, the mother of Argyris Argyropoulos, the stabbed barber, seethed with anger at the nearby hospital, while holding vigil for her son. The 43-year-old Mr Argyropoulos, came within an millimetre of death when he was robbed for just 10 euros, with the knife just missing his heart. "It is us who have no one to protect us," Mrs Xirou said. "We are hungry, we have no jobs, there is crime everywhere. "It used to be one of the best districts of Athens and now it is slum that we can't escape because the Pakistanis all come here when they arrive in Athens."

While the attacks have not specifically been backed by the powerful Orthodox Church, some priests have reportedly been involved in the protests. Metropolitan Omyotis Moiysides, the local priest in Mrs Xirou’s Panteleiomon district, said the crime wave sweeping Athens as the economy disintegrated was forcing residents to fight back. “I understand why the people are crying for help. I was pulled from my car and robbed,” he said. “The police do not come and stop these crimes, so the people have to defend themselves.”
© The Telegraph

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Holocaust Memorial Defaced on Greek Island

Only Handful of Jews Live on Aegean Island of Rhodes 
 
28/10/2012- A Holocaust memorial in Rhodes was defaced by unknown vandals. The Holocaust Memorial to the Jews of Rhodes was spray painted with swastikas on all six sides of the memorial. The initials AME also were spray painted on the monument, and may refer to an unknown organization, according to the Greek Helsinki Monitor. The attack occurred overnight on Saturday. The Security Police of Rhodes began an investigation into the incident on Saturday morning. It is not the first time that the monument has been vandalized.

The monument was dedicated in 2002, in the Jewish Martyrs Square in what was the old Jewish Quarter of Rhodes. On each side of the monument the words “Do not ever forget the eternal memory of the 1604 Jews of Rhodes and Kos who perished in Nazi death camps” are etched, each side in a different language. Some 1,600 Jews were rounded up by the Nazis in July 1944. Today only a handful of Jews remain. The neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party has gained support in Greece since the country fell into a harsh economic recession amid the European crisis.
© JTA News

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Does Scotland manage to be anti-Israel without being anti-Semitic?

If someone writes Hezbollah on a bus shelter, that's anti-Israel. If someone writes it on a synagogue, that's anti-Semitic," Anshel Pfeffer is told
By Anshel Pfeffer  

2/11/2012- Scottish Jews will proudly tell you that theirs is the only country in Europe where a Jew has never been murdered for being a Jew. However, a few will cynically add that although this may be accurate historically, the local community is small and relatively young, going back only two centuries. Also, as part of the British Isles, Scotland was one of the few parts of Europe not occupied by Nazi Germany. How prevalent is anti-Semitism in Scotland? In a country where the official census records only 6,580 Jews - though the real number is probably somewhere around 10,000 - it is hard to gauge the scale of racism against the community, especially since no one I spoke to there seems to have ever personally experienced anti-Jewish bias. The numbers are not very enlightening. Twenty anti-Semitic incidents were recorded in Scotland in 2011, an increase of 66 percent from 2010, when there were 12. But almost all these cases were of verbal abuse and minor vandalism, and in only one case was there any physical assault. This was still lower than the highest number recorded, 30 in 2009 - almost all of them verbal abuse. These numbers would seem to represent a rather low level of anti-Semitism: In all of Britain, there were 586 incidents in 2011.

Certainly the Jewish community is not the main focus of religious hatred in Scotland, where old sectarian tensions between Protestants and Catholics still remain. In 2010-2011, charges were brought in 400 cases of hate crimes committed against Catholics and 253 cases of hate crimes against Protestants. In the same period, there were charges in only 16 hate crimes against Jews, but since the Jewish community is so much smaller, this still means that a Jew or a Jewish institution is much likelier to become a target. Increasingly, also, anti-Semitism - which is rarely felt by the communities within cities - is occurring on university campuses. "Families living within their community and neighborhood may not feel it," says one source, "but it's very different for a young student far away from home." Indeed, a recent study by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research reported that 52 percent of Jewish students studying in Scotland had witnessed or been subjected to anti-Semitism, compared to 33 percent in London. "Anti-semitism is very low in Scotland," says Ephraim Borowski, director of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC ). However, he adds that "Jews are more likely to experience hate crimes than members of other religious minorities."

He divides the anti-Semitic incidents into two kinds: verbal anti-Semitism stemming from ignorance, which usually occurs in rural areas, far from the established communities - like the case of a mother who was told by her child's teacher that Jews killed Jesus; and the other, more prominent, kind that Borowski says "is usually Israel-related. You can see that we had a peak in 2009 following Operation Cast Lead in Gaza." There is a proud radical left-wing tradition in Scottish politics and public life, and Glasgow is often referred to as the most leftist city in Britain. Beyond a belief in trade unionism and the welfare state, this has also been translated into support of foreign causes favored by the left. This previously included the anti-apartheid struggle and, in more recent years, the Palestinian issue. Of course, this does not necessarily lead to anti-Semitism, as many within the Jewish community agree, but they are worried about the crossover. One Jewish lawyer in Glasgow says, "There is some knee-jerk reaction against Israel. I don't believe it is mainly anti-Semitic, but it can be a gateway drug."

Whether a gateway or a disguise, Jews in Scotland, just like other communities around the world, have seen how anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism can become combined. In 2006, at the height of the Second Lebanon War, anonymous hands painted the word "Hizbollah [sic]" in large white letters on the sidewalk outside the main gate of Glasgow's Garnethill Synagogue. This was the first time in its history that the synagogue, opened in 1879, had been the target of any kind of attack.

'Worse in Scotland'
"We know that not every criticism of Israel, even fierce criticism, is also anti-Semitic," says Borowski. "If someone writes Hezbollah on a bus shelter, that's anti-Israel. If someone writes it on a synagogue, that's anti-Semitic." But even when it's not directed against Jews, it seems that feeling among locals regarding Israel is much more negative than south of the border in England. The BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions ) movement calling for a ban on anything Israel-related is particularly prevalent in Glasgow. In the city center there are weekly demonstrations outside branches of the Waitrose and Marks & Spencer chains, calling upon shoppers to boycott them until they stop selling Israeli products. In Edinburgh, pro-Palestinian campaigners have lobbied the city council not to hire French utility company Veolia, due to its work on the Jerusalem light rail system. And while similar boycott efforts also occur in England, there is a consensus that "it's worse in Scotland."

As one Israeli diplomat says, "Every appearance by an official Israeli representative in Scotland is like a visit to enemy territory." The diplomat may have been exaggerating, but not by much. Every scheduled event in Scotland involving an official or even semi-official Israeli figure will be disrupted by demonstrators. This was demonstrated very clearly in February 2011, when Israeli diplomat Ishmael Khaldi was invited to speak by the University of Edinburgh's Jewish society. As he began to speak, dozens of activists from the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC ) stormed in, pulled down the podium and prevented him from uttering a word. Khaldi, a Bedouin, was called a Nazi by the protesters and, for over an hour, was not allowed to continue and eventually left without speaking.

While Khaldi, as a diplomat, should expect to have to stand up for the policies of the government he represents wherever he goes, often in the face of severe criticism - what about the case of a lone Jewish student attacked on campus for his affinity to Israel? The most traumatic example of this was at the venerable University of St Andrews. Late one night in March 2011, Chanan Reitblat, an exchange student from Yeshiva University, was visited in his room by two fellow students, who were checking on a friend who roomed with Reitblat and had passed out drunk. They noticed a large Israel flag that Reitblat had on his wall; one of them opened his trousers, rubbed his hands over his genitals and then rubbed them over the flag. Reitblat claimed that they had called him a terrorist and that one student urinated in the sink. Five months later, a local court convicted one of the students, Paul Donnachie, of a breach of the peace - and, more significantly, that this had been racially motivated. Donnachie was sentenced to a 300-pound fine and 150 hours' community service and was expelled from St Andrews.

Donnachie and his SPSC supporters refused to accept that any action directed against Israel could be categorized as "racist" and appealed the verdict, but lost again in the Scottish High Court this April. While the ruling was hailed by Jewish organizations in Scotland, the head of SPSC, Mick Napier, said: "All the hostilities by Donnachie were against an Israeli state symbol. We have a record of not tolerating any species of racism and anti-Semitism. We work very hard to distinguish between them and it is our opponents who seek to conflate the two issues. A national flag is a political symbol and an Israeli flag is provocation to people who see it as a symbol of a terrorist state." The rulings in the Reitblat case demonstrated that, despite the political and public atmosphere in Scotland, there was very little tolerance on the part of the courts and law enforcement for anything that seems like racism. In May, over 50 police officers took part in the arrests of five men and a teenager in Glasgow following a six-month investigation. Their alleged crime was posting racist comments on a Facebook page entitled "Welcome to Israel, only kidding you're in Giffnock" (a suburb of southeast Glasgow where many Jewish families live ).

Facebook had removed the page in 2011, almost as soon as it received complaints of its anti-Semitic nature, though only after the page had already attracted over 1,000 followers. There are, of course, many thousands of cases of racism of all varieties on the Web. Most go unchallenged, at best they are removed, but a full-scale police investigation is almost unheard of in any country. The sensitivity toward hate crimes is partly because of the Scottish government's commitment toward minorities, but to a larger degree due to what is often regarded as "Scotland's shame" - the sectarianism between Protestants and Catholics. While not as deep as in the past, the divide between Scotland's two largest communities still exists. Many Catholic children study in separate "faith schools" and while illegal, there are still cases of discrimination on religious grounds, particularly in employment at private businesses.

But the worst sectarianism is still centered around Scottish soccer, especially the ancient rivalry between the two great clubs of Glasgow, Celtic (Catholic ) and Rangers (Protestant ). Years of anti-racism campaigns were unsuccessful in reducing the sectarian tension, and hate-filled songs would probably still be sung at "Old Firm" matches between the two if Rangers hadn't gone bankrupt earlier this year and been exiled to the distant Third Division. This didn't stop Celtic fans from posting hateful pictures of Rangers players as dead bodies or zombies.

Crossing the line
Some observers believe that the Protestant-Catholic hatred has been so strong in Scotland that other ethnic hatreds, such as anti-Semitism, had no space to evolve. Neither club has large numbers of Jewish supporters, but there is still a bizarre connection to the Middle East conflict: Celtic supporters identify with the Republican struggle to end British rule of Northern Ireland and, by extension, also support the Palestinian cause. Occasionally, they fly the Palestinian national flag, with Rangers fans responding with Israeli flags. Jim Murphy, a senior Labour Party MP representing East Renfrewshire - the suburban area of Glasgow where most of the Jewish community resides - and, until two years ago, secretary of state for Scotland, believes that sectarianism overshadows antipathy toward Jews.

"Sectarianism is a deep dark divide, which is beginning to improve," Murphy says. "Anti-Semitism exists, but it is arguably less than in the rest of the UK, though of course we shouldn't be complacent." He sees very little hatred on the streets and is mainly worried about online racism. "You can't control crazies on the Internet. When I was chairman of Labour Friends of Israel, I was getting the most abuse from the Internet and it wasn't anti-Israel or anti-Zionism - it was sheer anti-Semitism." Whether or not it's a gateway to anti-Semitism, Scots with a political conscience are usually pro-Palestinian. Dundee's council voted to twin itself with Nablus as far back as 1980, and some members of the community remember anti-Israeli graffiti on the local synagogue around that time. In 2007 Glasgow was paired up with Bethlehem, but there are no similar relations with Israeli cities.

Anti-Israel motions and initiatives will usually be sponsored by a member of the largest party in the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish National Party. Unlike other major British parties, the SNP does not have a "Friends of Israel" association. "It's the left-wing tradition but also the fact that the Muslim community here is much larger than the Jewish one, and SNP politicians are pandering for votes," says one Jewish activist. On the other hand, there is a general consensus within the community that the SNP has been very careful to differentiate between its policies toward Israel, and its warm relations with the Jews of Scotland. Few encounter animus in their daily lives. Ziv Dotan, an Israeli computer programmer living in Glasgow, says that "the average Scot isn't interested in the Middle East. There is a small minority which is very interested and has taken it upon themselves to lead the anti-Israel line, but their voice is disproportional to their actual size." Another community member says, "When I get back from my holidays and say at work that I was in Israel, people are mildly interested but no one is hostile."

Occasionally, there are times when the Scottish media crosses the line, such as when popular columnist Tom Shields wrote a piece in the Glasgow Herald attacking Israeli policies in Gaza and the West Bank. Titled "If Giffnock was Gaza," Shields wrote that residents of that neighborhood and Newton Mearns - two areas with large numbers of Jewish residents - would find it hard to get to upscale supermarkets and private schools if they had to suffer travel restrictions such as those imposed by Israel on the Palestinians. Many Jewish readers were incensed at Shields for dragging the local community into the Israel-Palestine conflict, and for ascribing to the stereotype of "rich Jews." Shields was unrepentant, saying he had merely chosen two suburbs with a high proportion of supporters of Israel. The daily's editor eventually apologized, saying there were no anti-Semitic intentions in the column.

The SPSC is considered provocative even by its English counterparts. Among the group's stunts is the annual event it holds to commemorate the Holocaust with Hamas supporters speaking of Palestinian suffering. But SPSC head Napier insists: "We keep anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism strictly apart. Scots have always been very friendly to Jews." As in other countries, the distinction between harsh criticism of Israel and "judeophobia" is further blurred by the presence of Jews in the anti-Israel camp. In August, the Israeli dance company Batsheva performed at the Edinburgh International Festival, despite a petition by prominent Scottish writers and poets to boycott the show and attempts by SPSC members to disrupt the dancers mid-performance. . Meanwhile, members of Sukkat Shalom - the "Edinburgh Liberal Jewish Community" - greeted each other from either side of the battle lines.Some arrived at the festival hall as concertgoers, along with Israeli Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat and ambassador to Britain Daniel Taub; others, also members of the tiny Scottish Jews for a Just Peace group, were part of the demonstration favoring a boycott.

Life isn't simple for Scottish Zionists, either. "We were always very strong Zionist left-wingers here," says Mervyn Lovat, a lecturer at Glasgow Business School, "but it's getting more and more difficult to be supportive of Israel, especially since two of my sons moved there. I just can't understand why they [Israel] do those things." Despite those feelings, one community member who regularly fund-raises for Israeli and Jewish causes says, "It's extremely rare that someone tells me they are not prepared to give any money for Israel, though it has happened." Most apparently prefer to hide their criticism. Says Nick Black, a member of the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council: "You have to support Israel, whatever it does, because if you criticize here in Scotland, there will be those who exploit what you say."
© Haaretz

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'Migrant worker attacker' refused bail (Northern Ireland)

A man accused of beating a migrant worker with a belt and threatening to kidnap and burn his family must remain in custody, a judge has ruled.

29/10/2012- The alleged victim, from East Timor, says he was set upon as he walked home after his shift at a poultry factory in Dungannon, Co Tyrone. Two men are suspected of attacking him and trying to get into his home in what was described as a racially-motivated crime. One of them, Justin McDonald, faces charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, threats to kill, criminal damage to a window and threats to damage property endangering life. The 32-year-old, from Dunavon Park, Dungannon, denies the offences. During an application for bail at the High Court on Monday, it was claimed that McDonald and another man inflicted head injuries to the victim with their belts as he walked home on 30 June. They also tried to put a belt around the complainant's neck before he escaped, according to his account.

Kate McKay, prosecuting, said a large rock thrown at the alleged victim missed but smashed a window at his house. She said the two assailants allegedly shouted threats that everyone inside would be burned and the victim's children kidnapped. McDonald uttered "racially inflammatory" remarks following his arrest, the court heard. The court heard that he later apologised for the outburst. Details of an alleged attempt to intimidate witnesses were also outlined.

A woman known to McDonald allegedly issued a further threat to abduct the victim's children if he did not withdraw his statement to police. Defence barrister Noel Dillon confirmed his client denies hitting the alleged victim with a belt. He disputed the prosecution claims of a racial element and pointed out that forensic tests have not yielded any match with the accused. Mr Dillon also disclosed the history of tragedy suffered by McDonald's family, including two brothers being killed in road accidents and the IRA murder of his taxi-driver father. He urged the judge to release the accused to live with his sister. But Mr Justice Treacy refused bail due to fears of possible witness intimidation.
© UTV News

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'Hate crime' attack on Sikh family home on wedding day (UK)

Police say they are treating an attack on the home of a Sikh family whose daughter was about to marry a man from a different religion as a hate crime.

29/10/2012- The door of the terrace house in Coventry was damaged and its windows were smashed early on Saturday. The family members, who asked not to be named, said they were targeted because a daughter was due to marry a Hindu man in a Sikh temple later that day. The wedding later went ahead peacefully, as planned. The family said they had been threatened in the weeks leading up to the wedding by some "hardline" Sikhs, who were unhappy about non-Sikhs getting married in one of the religion's temples, known as gurdwaras. They said the people had also made aggressive calls to the gurdwara where the wedding was due to take place.

'Very frightening'
The father of the family told BBC Asian Network that at about 01:30 BST on Saturday he heard the glass in the house's front windows shatter. He said: "It went 'bang, bang, bang'. It was very frightening." The family were given a police escort to and from the gurdwara for the wedding. The bride's older sister said the family had been put through "some quite horrendous things" in the run-up to the wedding. "Mixed faith marriages have been going on from the start," she said."What's the problem now?" In a statement, West Midlands Police said: "Police are investigating the criminal damage as a hate crime and are treating this as a priority. "Police have had a presence at the address over the weekend and are continuing to support the family."
© BBC News

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Disability hate crime reports high in Norfolk (UK)

27/10/2012- The number of incidents of disability hate crime being reported to Norfolk Police is amongst the highest in the UK. According to Home Office statistics 120 were reported to Norfolk Constabulary between 2011/2012. Despite the high figure the Constabulary say they still believe most incidents are going unreported. Therefore, instead of trying to reduce the number of these crimes being reported, they are actively encouraging the reporting of them. Assistant Chief Constable Gareth Wilson said: "The level of disability hate crime reporting in Norfolk is seen as a sign of some success. However we believe that hate crime, and in particular disability hate crime, is still significantly under reported across the country as a whole. We will do everything we can to enable those subject of such crimes to report incidents to us."

This is supported by the British Crime Survey which identified that nationally around 34 out of every 35 incidents of disability hate crime, the victim was either unable or unwilling to report the hate crimes committed against them. ACC Wilson added: "The Constabulary is committed to raising the confidence of the community to report hate crime and, in particular, disability related hate crime. We have made great efforts to ensure our services are accessible and that the community feels able to report incidents to us".
© KL fm 967

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Italy gay association headquarters defaced by far right movement

An extreme right wing movement left an insulting banner in front of the headquarters of Italy's main gay association 

27/10/2012- Italy's main LGBT association, Arcigay, headquarters situated in Bologna Northern Italy, has been defaced by men belonging to an extreme right wing movement Forza Nuova. The group, which call for ‘a new Fascist era in Italy’, left a banner in front of the association's headquarters stating: ‘Perversions must be cured’. In response, Bologna’s politicians have expressed solidarity with the Arcigay. Mayor Virginio Merola said: ‘It’s simply disgusting.’ Sergio Lo Giudice, a local councillor and a former Arcigay president, said: ‘This fact recalls the Nazi persecutions and the hate of that period. We can only laugh at them.’ According to Arcigay’s management, the far right movement Forza Nuova is worried by the Gender Bender Festival arts festival that was launched today (27 October) in the city. With regards to the banner, Arcigay has issued a press release stating: ‘They act like thieves at night. But the most worrying aspect is that Forza Nuova is a political movement running at several local and national elections, they are not outsiders.’ Solidarity has also been offered by the UDC, Union of Christian and Centre Democrats, a center right party. A spokesperson for the party stated: ‘We are against same-sex marriage and adoption by LGBT people, but we condemn what has happened.’
© Gay Star News

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