Headlines 28 December, 2012
Far-right vacuum could trigger 'lone-wolf' attacks (UK)
Warning about potential for a 'British Breivik'
28/12/2012- The fragmentation of the far right could spark a new wave of political violence and Anders Breivik-style lone-wolf acts of terrorism, according to the head of the UK’s first research centre into contemporary fascism. The warning comes as new figures reveal that there have been nearly 500 anti-Islamic attacks since March, with more than half linked to supporters of far-right groups. Professor Nigel Copsey told The Independent that the electoral decline of the British National Party (BNP) and the splintering of street-based protest organisations such as the English Defence League (EDL) had created a potentially dangerous political vacuum on the far right. He said the relative success of right-wing groups in recent years had radicalised thousands of people online who could seek new and more violent ways to express their opposition to Islam, immigration and economic stagnation.
“We have disturbing levels of hate crime in this country which gets under-reported, and we need to know more about the level to which the far right is involved in this,” he said. “This fragmentation and disintegration of the far right could increase the potential for political violence from small aggressive groups or lone-wolf or sole-actor terrorism.” Speaking to mark the launch of the new Centre for Fascist, Anti-fascist and Post-Fascist Studies at Teesside University, he said there was no room for complacency: “We ignore them at our peril because the demand for and the causes of the far right are still with us – they haven’t gone away and in some cases are getting worse.” New figures from the interfaith conflict resolution organisation Faith Matters reveal that there were 496 self-reported Islamophobic incidents in the past nine months. More than six in 10 of these were against women while one in 10 was against a mosque.
Fiyaz Mughal, the director and founder of Faith Matters, said there had been a significant change in the atmosphere. “The fact is that in the past six or seven months we have seen more threats of violence online. In the past six months we have seen a lot more calls to do something physically to mosques. It is moving from what is happening in their heads to actually doing it.” Electoral support for the BNP has declined spectacularly since its peak in 2009 when its leader, Nick Griffin, appeared on the BBC’s Question Time. He and a fellow party member, Andrew Brons, went on to win seats in the European Parliament. But by the 2012 local elections the party was riven by financial troubles and in-fighting and found itself reduced to just two councillors – from a peak of 57 in 2009. In October, Mr Brons, a former member of the National Front, quit the party after claiming to have been described by Mr Griffin as “vermin”. He has since joined the rival Britain First as president.
Meanwhile, the English Defence League, formed in Luton in 2009 following Islamist demonstrations against British soldiers, has seen attendance plunge at its street demonstrations. It was also hit by revelations that the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik had extensive links to the EDL and had met its leaders during a visit to London. Splits in the EDL have led to the emergence of the North West and North East Infidels, largely through social media, which have sought to exploit anxiety over child sexual exploitation and the opening of new mosque sites.
© The Independent
Indian student brutally attacked in Germany over Islam conversion
An Indian man in Bonn claims to have been attacked and had his tongue lacerated by Islamists. He told police that a pair of perpetrators demanded that he convert to Islam before the assault. Police believe his story to be credible.
27/12/2012- Police in Bonn are investigating a possible attack on a 24-year-old Indian man who claims to have been the victim of an assault by two Islamists on Christmas Eve. The man, a university student had to be treated at a local hospital for a lacerated tongue following the attack. According to the victim, he was approached by two men who asked him what his religion was before demanding that he convert to Islam. Otherwise, the men said, he was an infidel and his tongue would have to be cut out. Then, as the man tried to walk away, the two assailants attacked him from behind, the victim told police. A passerby happened across the bleeding victim and called an ambulance. He was treated at the hospital and then released.
Police investigators believe the man's story to be credible and also believe that the incident could indeed have been the work of Islamists. He described the perpetrators as having long beards but no moustaches, a style often preferred by Salafists. There were, however, no witnesses to the attack and police are currently searching for suspects. It is not the first time this year that Bonn has hit the headlines as a result of possible Islamist activity. In May, a Salafist was arrested after stabbing two police officers during a counter-demonstration against a display of Muhammad caricatures by a local right-wing populist party. Earlier this month, another member of the orthodox Muslim group threatened to take a hostage in order to force the perpetrator's release from prison.
Also in Dember, a bag full of explosives was found on a platform in Bonn's main train station in an apparent attempted bomb attack. While no charges have been filed in that case, clues reportedly lead to the Salafist community.
© The Spiegel
Hate Crime incident on Dublin to Belfast train (Ireland)
24/12/2012- A 51 year-old-man suffered a broken nose in a suspected hate crime incident on board the Dublin to Belfast Enterprise train on Saturday evening. The PSNI are investigating the assault which happened between counties Down and Armagh around 10.30pm. It is understood that four men assaulted the victim and shouted ‘homophobic abuse’ while they were travelling to Portadown. According to a police spokesperson, the man was attacked and had his laptop smashed. He received treatment in hospital for a broken nose and minor head injuries. The victim also had his electronic device and two sets of earphones stolen by the gang. Anyone who witnessed the assault is asked to contact the PSNI at Mahon Road station or the Crimestoppers charity.
© Inside Ireland
Headlines 21 December, 2012
Police report: Increase in racism and abuse (Finland)
19/12/2012- The number of cases of abuse with racist undertones has increased, according to a new report by Finland’s Police Academy. The report revealed that the number of suspected racism cases more than tripled last year compared to the previous year. Nearly 800 infractions classified as hate crimes reported to police last year contained elements of racism. Police have kept records of such crimes for more than ten years. However Finland’s penal code does not recognise racism or hate crimes as criminal offenses. “The study classifies hate crimes as primarily those suspected crimes in which police officers, the victims, or other parties suspect motives of prejudice or which involve slander of the victim’s peer group,” explained researcher Iina Sahramäki of the Police Academy. In more than half of the cases reported, the victims had no prior relations with the suspects.
© YLE News.
Man jailed for racist attack after 10 years on the run (UK)
More than a decade after an unprovoked racist attack in Romford left a teenager fighting for his life, the seventh and final man involved has been locked up.
18/12/2012- The sentence today, of 43-year-old Alan Thompson, of no fixed abode, came nine years after six men were jailed for their involvement in the attack on St George’s Day 2002. At 11 years, Thompson’s sentence for two counts of GBH and violent disorder - to run concurrently - is the longest of the seven defendants. It follows a 10-year manhunt that eventually traced him to a Rainham address in January this year. In October, a jury at Southend Crown Court unanimously convicted Thompson - who pleaded not guilty - on all counts.
Darren Bagalo and his friend Farman Khan, both then 17, had been out bowling with family and friends on the night of April 23, 2002, the Metropolitan Police said. They were walking through the town centre at about 11pm when a gang of men set upon them, punching, kicking and stabbing both in a sustained attack. CCTV images showed the seven suspects making Nazi gestures and salutes towards other passers-by moments before attacking the teenagers. Mr Bagalo and Mr Khan were rushed to hospital where they underwent surgery for serious stab wounds. Mr Bagalo’s injuries, which included stab wounds to the abdomen and torso and kicks to the head, were initially life-threatening, while Mr Khan had been stabbed in the arm. But thankfully, after months of treatment, both men made a full recovery.
DS Ian Willett of Havering police said: “This was a vicious and racially-driven attack against two young men innocently enjoying a night out. “I would like to pay tribute to their undeniable bravery in overcoming their injuries and having to endure two trials over a lengthy period of time. Darren’s injuries were initially life-threatening and he was fortunate to survive. “I would also like to thank the members of public that came to their aid at the time and I pay tribute to the diligence and tenacity of the officers who located Thompson after a decade.” The 2003 trial judge praised the actions of three witnesses – a friend who tried to intervene to prevent the incident and two doormen working nearby who administered first aid to Mr Bagalo. Judge Kennedy said the doormen may well have saved Mr Bagalo’s life. The witnesses were each given £100 and later commended by the High Sheriff of London.
© London 24
False victim of Roma attack sentenced to community work (Czech Rep)
19/12/2012- The boy, 16, who falsely claimed to have been brutally beaten by three Czech Romanies last year, must execute 20 hours of community work, state attorney Tomas Foldyna told CTK yesterday. Otherwise, the case was shelved for a probationary period, Foldyna said. "The decision was made due to the perpetrator's low age. Now it is up to him how he will use this," Foldyna said. If the boy commits a crime during a year, he will be prosecuted again, he added. Last year, the boy fell down when he was showing a gymnastic exercise on a railing to his friends on the eighth floor of a house.
The boy originally testified that three men, allegedly Romanies, asked him for a cigarette. As he did not have any, they beat him up so brutally that he lost his kidney as a consequence. Later he admitted that only one of the perpetrators might be a Romany. The boy spent two weeks in hospital where doctors had to remove his kidney. He also suffered liver and pancreas injuries. The boy said he was afraid to tell the truth to his mother. When he recovered from anaesthesia, the media widely describing the alleged brutal assault published by his mother. He said he did not feel strong enough to confess, but the police then incriminated him.
The incident stirred up anti-Romany moods in Breclav. An anti-Romany rally held in the town, attended by some 2000 people. The ultra-right extremist Workers' Party of Social Justice (DSSS) helped organise the protests.
© The Prague Daily Monitor
Golden Dawn members attack and beat SYRIZA MP (Greece)
16/12/2012- Members of extreme right-wing Golden Dawn attacked and beat Dimitris Stratoulis, MP of left-wing SYRIZA outside OAKA football stadium Sunday evening in Athens. According to Stratoulis, he was approached by three men who told him they were members of Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn). “They told me they were memebrs of Chrysi Avgi and they would kill me now. They started to kick me and hit me with their fists on the head and face.” Stratoulis told reporters. “I am Dimitris Stratoulis, members of SYRIZA and I’m under attack by Chrysi Avgi,” he reportedly shouted during the incident and some other soccer fans came to his aid. Dimitris Stratoulis was taken to the stadium first aid unit and then went to local police station to file a lawsuit. After speaking to reporters, he went to an Athens Hospital for medical checks.
Stratoulis was watching the Superleague game AEK-Atromitos but went outside the stadium during the break many other soccer fans. His son was inside the stadium when the attack occurred. The MP told police that the perpetrators were three men between 30-35. SYRIZA issued a statement speaking of “assassination attack” and urging the government to capture the culprits a s soon as possible. Government spokesman condemned the attack as well as coalition government partners PASOK and Democratic Left that spoke of ‘hooligan and fascist attack.” Chrysi Avgi denied any connection with the incident and dismissed Stratoulis’ claims.
Almost at the same time of the attack against Stratoulis, there was tension between anti-fascist protesters and Chrysi Avgi members in Nikaia/Renti suburb of Athens, outside the Village cinemas. Protesters had organized an anti-fascist demonstration when they saw Chrysi Avgi members who were attending a party gathering. The two groups reportedly started to chase each other, with police making limited use of tear gas. According to Skai TV , the police chased protesters inside the cinema complex, fired one or two tear gas devices, scaring the cinema visitors. Unconfirmed reports speak of one wounded woman.
© Keep Talking Greece
Headlines 14 December, 2012
French teens arrested over chemical explosion near teacher who reported anti-Semitism
14/12/2012- Two French teenagers were arrested on suspicion of setting off an explosion near a teacher after she reported receiving anti-Semitic threats at school.
The teenagers, 16 and 19 years old, were arrested on Dec. 13 in Aix-en-Provence near Marseille in southern France for allegedly setting off a chemical explosion in the classroom of their plastic arts teacher, according to France Info, a public radio station. No one was hurt in the explosion. The teacher, Chantal Viroulou, told the radio station that before the incident, “students from that class, two or three of them at least, called me and told me: 'Jew, we will break your face.'” Viroulou, who teaches at the Latecoere professional high school in the town of Istres, did not say whether she was Jewish.
An unnamed police source told Ouest France, a local daily, that Viroulou is not Jewish and that “the anti-Semitic connotation" is not being investigated. The source added that the explosion -- which the two suspects allegedly caused by mixing hydrochloric acid with aluminium -- “had nothing to do” with the threat. Earlier this week, the news site Lyonmag reported that a teacher undergoing conversion was fired after she reported repeated anti-Semitic harassment by her pupils at Condorcet secondary school in Saint-Priest, a southern suburb of Lyon. The International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism, a French nonprofit, wrote on Dec. 13 to France's minister of education to ask him to launch a special action against “the development of anti-Semitic acts and behavior” in French schools.
© JTA News
By Morten Kjaerum & Janez Lenarcic*
13/12/2012- Some people think that hate crime is no longer an issue in Europe. Others think that the issue is no longer a serious one, as it only affects a few marginal groups. This is a mistake. You may not have heard of the Roma man who was threatened with an ax in front of his 2-year-old daughter, or the Jewish man who was fired at with an air rifle as he left a Torah class. This still happens in Europe, today. So hate crimes – crimes motivated by prejudice – are a reality, and they need to be recognized and decisively confronted.
Much greater political will is needed to combat the phenomenon lastingly and effectively. Governments must send a clear message that there is zero tolerance for hate crime by taking concrete steps to counter prejudice and discrimination. They must make hate crime more visible, both by recording it efficiently and by drawing public attention to it, and by making perpetrators accountable, through penalties that underscore the severity of the crimes. Such crimes – motivated by racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia or anti-Semitism, or by bias against disability or sexual orientation – strike at the heart of our diverse and democratic societies. And over the last few years, we have witnessed continued and repeated violations of people’s human rights through verbal abuse, physical attacks and even murder motivated by prejudice.
These are not like other forms of crime. Hate crimes foster and reinforce social divides. They don't just harm individuals, they also undermine the security of entire communities and, ultimately, society as a whole. The crimes themselves are often coupled with indifference by decision makers. They also reinforce their sense of alienation from mainstream society. And beyond physical harm, hate crimes have a lasting emotional impact on victims and their families, who often experience an overwhelming sense of humiliation and powerlessness.
Hate crime offenders send a clear message that some of us are lesser human beings, lesser citizens who can be harmed with impunity. Their actions are, therefore, serious affronts to the fundamental right to human dignity and equal treatment. Moreover, hate crimes are not just committed by political extremists, as many assume: Offenders come from all walks of life. Despite the progress we have achieved in promoting democracy and human rights, prejudice and bias against those with a different skin color or religion, or with disabilities – to name but a few – are still widespread and regularly spill over into violence against the most vulnerable of our citizens.
There are also a number of external factors that can exacerbate the incidence and seriousness of hate attacks. A case in point is the current economic crisis: In the countries that have been hit hardest, there seems to be an alarming escalation in bias-motivated crime against migrants and other groups. And history has taught us bitter lessons about the consequences of not being vigilant against such crimes; the search for scapegoats in the 1930s that preceded and then accompanied the rise of extremism is still very much fresh in Europe’s collective memory.
The work of human rights bodies such as the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is doing much to highlight the problem of hate crime and the challenges inherent in battling the phenomenon. This includes FRA’s publication of figures on the minority and ethnic groups most likely to be targets of hate crime in the EU, and ODIHR’s annual publication of data on hate crimes in the OSCE region. ODIHR also helps NGOs to monitor and report hate crimes, and has provided training for law enforcement agencies to improve investigation and prosecution rates. Both organizations continue to identify crucial gaps in national data collection techniques. In addition, many victims find it difficult to seek full redress, as the courts frequently do not acknowledge the bias and prejudice at the root of hate crimes because of shortcomings in legislation.
Other victims are unwilling to seek redress because they do not trust law enforcement authorities or the criminal justice system. Weaknesses in the way hate crimes are recorded or investigated by the police create further barriers. FRA’s research has revealed that among some minority groups, up to 90 percent of those who were victims of hate crime did not report it to the police. This is a figure that should give governments throughout the EU pause for thought.
If we do not do more to record, investigate and prosecute hate crimes, and if we do not ensure that victims have access to remedy and compensation for their suffering, we could seriously jeopardize social cohesion and security. In the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, this is something we can ill afford. Let us therefore work together to combat hate crime for what it is – an injustice based on ignorance and prejudice that has no place in Europe today.
* Morten Kjaerum is director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. Ambassador Janez Lenarcic is director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.
Sinti, Roma and Racism: Report Blasts Berlin's Inaction (Germany)
Less than two months ago, Germany's government made a big show of dedicating a memorial to the Sinti and Roma victims of Nazi crimes, pledging greater efforts to fight discrimination. But a new report chastises Berlin for doing little to combat the mistreatment and prejudice the minorities face each day.
12/12/2012- On October 24, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stood under Berlin's gray skies to inaugurate the long-delayed memorial to the some 500,000 Sinti and Roma murdered by the Nazis. In her speech, Merkel noted that "far too little attention has been paid for far too long" to their wartime suffering. And, in a time when Sinti and Roma continue to be targets of right-wing attacks and even official oppression in Europe, she added that: "It is a German and a European task to support (Sinti and Roma) wherever they live, no matter what country." But, almost two months later, this promise has already been broken. On Wednesday, members of the Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid Committee of the Bundestag, the German parliament, will be presented with a report describing what has been done on this front. The answer: not much. The report finds that antiziganism, a term denoting racism toward the Sinti and Roma, is widespread in Germany -- and that Berlin is doing nothing to counter it.
The study was conducted by RomnoKher, a center for culture, education and antiziganism research in the southwestern German city of Mannheim. It documents how racism against Sinti and Roma has spread in Germany over the last two years, citing cases such as the following:
+ In Klinghain, in the eastern state of Saxony, an apartment building was attacked and set on fire. The inhabitants had previously been assaulted and berated as "gypsies." "Beat it, you Kanaken!" the attackers had written on a piece of paper, using a derogatory word for foreigners. Even so, police would later rule out any "xenophobic background" to the crime.
+ A man in northern Bavaria repeatedly abused several women on the German-Czech border. At his trial, he cited "hatred against Roma" as his motive.
+ In the western city of Gelsenkirchen, one or more arsonists set 17 mobile homes on fire in an area inhabited by Roma.
+ A stone memorial set up in Merseburg, a city in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt, to commemorate Nazi deportations of Sinti and Roma was desecrated seven times between December 2009 and January 2012.
+ When refugees from Serbia and Macedonia were being housed in a former barracks in Schneeburg, Saxony, the regional newspaper wrote: "They number among the Sinti and Roma. Along with them, fear of crime came to Schneeberg." The far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) also convened a meeting of the municipal council. And in Bavaria, a representative for the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), suffered no consequences after saying: "The most important thing is that the Roma disappear."
The study found that Sinti and Roma suffer discrimination in a number of areas, such as when they are looking for apartments, in the workplace and in government agencies. It also cited an increase in negative media coverage of immigrants from Romania and Bulgaria in recent months. Markus End, a political scientist and author of the RomnoKher study, says that the media made frequent use of "gypsy" stereotypes. "The government pretends like there isn't any racism against Sinti and Roma in Germany," he says.
The University of Bielefeld conducted a similar study last year that focused on "group-related enmity." It found that 40 percent of Germans would prefer not to have Sinti or Roma living in their neighborhoods. More than a quarter of them said that Sinti and Roma should "be banned from German city centers." Likewise, almost half of respondents agreed with the claim that Sinti and Roma have a tendency to engage in crime. At the same time, three-fourths of German Sinti and Roma claimed to be frequently discriminated against in Germany. "It is telling that the German public is more or less unaware of this form of racism," says Ferda Ataman, an editor at Mediendienst Integration, a nonprofit organization that informs journalists and other media representatives about current issues related to migration, integration and asylum in Germany.
The Council of Europe and the United Nations have repeatedly criticized Germany for not being decisive enough in its efforts to combat antiziganism. Chancellor Merkel's government responded to an official letter of inquiry on the issue submitted by the environmentalist Green Party by saying only that no complaints had been submitted to the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency (ADS). But even ADS Director Christine Lüders warns that: "Roma regularly experience a climate of ostracism and stigmatization. Rejection of them reaches deep into the middle of society." Author of the RomnoKher study End boils the issue down by saying that "natural catastrophes" cannot be blamed for the often poor health care and bad educational and work situations of the Roma and Sinti. Instead, he says, they are the result "of processes of discrimination, ostracism and persecution."
© The Spiegel
Court acquits 13 suspected of attack on Roma (Czech Rep.)
11/12/2012- Thirteen Czech ultra-right extremists suspected of attacking three Romanies have been definitely acquitted by the appeals court, which said it was impossible to prove who of them committed the crime, daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) writes yesterday. The appeals court upheld the lower-level court's acquittal verdict, which was appealed by the state attorney, MfD's east Bohemian supplement writes, citing the appeals court spokeswoman. The suspects attended a demonstration of the ultra-right Workers' Party of Social Justice (DSSS) in Novy Bydzov, east Bohemia, last year. After the demonstration, they attacked a trio of Romanies whom they beat in their faces and kicked them, the state attorney said. One of the victims suffered a head injury and lost consciousness. Citing the judges, MfD writes that the police failed to gather enough evidence and made mistakes when questioning witnesses. Some suspects asserted that the Romanies attacked them first, while others said they could not remember anything, or refused to testify or said they appeared on the site of the incident by sheer coincidence.
© The Prague Daily Monitor
Hate crimes down in 2011, but anti-gay violence up, FBI says (USA)
More than 6,000 were reported, with nearly half of them racially motivated. Crimes targeting gays and lesbians increased about 2.6%.
10/12/2012- More than 6,000 hate crimes were reported to U.S. law enforcement agencies in 2011 — a 6% decrease from 2010, the FBI said Monday. But crimes based on the victim's sexual orientation increased slightly. Nearly half of the 6,222 hate crimes reported in 2011 were racially motivated, the FBI said, with nearly three-fourths directed at African Americans. More than 16% were motivated by anti-white bias. About 59% of the known offenders for all reported hate crimes were white, and 21% were black, the agency said. The Anti-Defamation League, which monitors and seeks to combat bigotry, welcomed the overall decrease in hate crimes but highlighted those motivated by sexual orientation. "The increase in the number of reported hate crimes directed against gays and lesbians, now the second most frequent category of crime, is especially disturbing," the ADL said in a statement.
There were 1,508 reported sexual orientation hate crimes in 2011, up from 1,470 in 2010, an increase of about 2.6%. Overall, nearly 21% of hate crimes were motivated by sexual orientation bias, the FBI said, with men victimized the majority of the time. Religious bigotry accounted for nearly 20% of reported hate crimes — the majority anti-Semitic, and another 13% anti-Islamic. "Jews and Jewish institutions continued to be principal targets, accounting for 63% of all religion-based hate crimes in 2011 — showing, once again, that anti-Semitism is still a serious and deeply entrenched problem in America," the ADL statement said. Of the 891 offenses based on perceived ethnicity or national origin, the FBI said, 57% stemmed from anti-Latino bias. The numbers in the FBI report reflect crimes reported to authorities, thus understating the incidence, experts say. "FBI statistics vastly underestimate the actual number of hate crimes committed in the United States," said Jack Levin, a hate-crime expert at Northeastern University in Boston.
Many victims are reluctant to report attacks. Immigrants, for example, may remember law enforcement officials as representatives of a repressive regime in their country of origin. Gay, bisexual and transgender victims may fear that police will be insensitive if they report the incident. Furthermore, Levin said, perpetrators are "not always stupid enough to leave evidence at a crime scene," so it is not always clear what is a hate crime and what isn't. "When the Justice Department asks victims anonymously whether they have been targeted for hate offenses, they get a figure that approaches 200,000 hate crimes annually," Levin said.
© The Los Angeles Times
Spotlight on racial violence: October-December 2012 (UK)
An overview of racist attacks and convictions over the last three months.
13/12/2012- Earlier this week, Kick it Out chair Herman Ouseley resigned from the Football Association (FA), describing the authorities’ efforts to fight racism in football in 2012 as ‘wasted in hypocrisy’. Lord Ouseley spoke of an ‘establishment [that] seemed to be looking after its favourites’. He referred (among other things) to Liverpool FC’s decision to back their striker Louis Suárez, his teammates wearing t-shirts portraying him as the victim of injustice despite him being banned for racially abusing another player. He noted Chelsea FC’s failure to condemn in any way their captain despite him receiving a ban for using racist language to another player, and highlighted the England manager’s decision to pick the same player for a major tournament while dropping the brother of the target.
Ouseley’s condemnation comes at a time when racist incidents at games are being reported routinely. On 9 December, the Manchester derby was marred by racist abuse and a Manchester United player was racially abused via Twitter after the match. The day before, a Norwich City player was racially abused several times by Swansea City supporters. A few days earlier, two men were arrested in relation to racist insults shouted at two players at a game between Derby County and Birmingham City in November. At the beginning of December, Arsenal players, on loan to Charlton, claimed they heard racist abuse from fans at an away game at Millwall; this came soon after fans in a (Tottenham – West Ham) London derby were arrested for racist ‘gestures’ – thought to be Nazi salutes.
Heightened attention on racism in the game is reflected in a stream of media coverage. Does this mean that there is a sudden resurgence of racism in football, or how else should we read what is happening? Could it be that social media provide new conduits for racist abuse, and it may be that a racism, which has simply never gone away, is now seized upon by a press which had ignored the issue for years. What is clear is that racism in football reflects a wider backdrop of racist harassment, abuse and attacks in society. For example, over the last few months, a Muslim family in Nottingham have been terrorised in their new home, with racist graffiti daubed on their path and a cross wrapped in ham propped against their door; two women have admitted, in a court in Dundee, to both beating a Muslim woman to the floor, ripping of her hijab and stealing her phone, and calling her pregnant friend a ‘f*****g black African’ and assaulting her; A Gypsy couple in Yeovil had petrol poured over the front of their home, one of several incidents targeted at them. Across the UK, incidents such as these happen on a daily basis.
When Lord Ouseley resigned from the FA, he criticised the way clubs appear happy to condemn the racist abuse of fans, whilst backing their highly valued players to the hilt when they are accused of racially abusing others, as evidence of a ‘moral vacuum’. His appeal to morality came only a few weeks after two police officers were found not guilty of racially aggravated harassment, despite one of them describing a black member of the public as a ‘monkey’. The officer’s excuse was that he was simply talking about evolution. It appears that the football authorities are not the only ones to condemn racism in some contexts, but ignore it in others, preferring instead to look after their ‘assets’.
Below is a selection of racist attacks and convictions over the last three months.
Racism in football
11 December 2012: A teenager was arrested for allegedly sending a racist tweet to Wales goalkeeper Jason Brown after a World Cup qualifier between Wales and Scotland. (BBC News, 11 December 2012)
9 December 2012: A fan was arrested for racist chanting at a game between Manchester City and Manchester United. The following day, a 15-year-old boy was arrested in relation to a racist tweet sent to Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand. (Guardian, 11 December 2012)
2 December 2012: Anti-Semitic chanting by Huddersfield Town fans against Leeds United supporters was allegedly heard during a derby match. West Yorkshire Police released a statement saying they were investigating the matter. (Kick it Out, 4 December 2012)
1 December 2012: Charlton substitutes Danny Haynes and Emmanuel Frimpong tweeted that they were the victims of racist abuse by Millwall fans during the game. They did not pursue a formal complaint and the case was closed. (This is Local London, 3 December 2012)
30 November 2012: A teenager was fined after encouraging people on Twitter to sing a racist chant at a forthcoming match between Hereford United and Cheltenham Town. (Hereford Times, 30 November 2012)
27 November 2012: Norwich City made a formal police complaint about alleged racist tweets directed at their defender Sebastion Bassong after a game against Everton. (Scotsman, 27 November 2012)
26 November 2012: West Ham issued their first lifetime ban of a supporter following anti-Semitic chanting directed at Tottenham fans in a match that had taken place a few days earlier. Two other men were arrested for racist gestures, thought to be Nazi salutes. (Independent, 27 November 2012)
25 November 2012: A Brighton and Hove Albion fan was banned from the club’s stadium for five years after he was heard using racist language during a game against Leeds United on 2 November. (Brighton Argus, 25 November 2012)
24 November 2012: A Sunderland fan was pictured making what appeared to be monkey gestures to a black player on loan to West Bromwich Albion. He was later arrested and claimed that he was mimicking a chicken, not a monkey. (BBC News, 28 November 2012)
24 November 2012: A Derby County fan reported hearing racist chanting during a match against Birmingham City. Two men were later arrested. (Derby Telegraph, 7 December 2012)
22 November 2012: Two teenagers were banned from attending games for three years for their part in racist chanting directed at schoolboys during a ‘Daggers [Dagenham & Redbridge] against racism’ match earlier in the year. (Kick it Out, 22 November 2012)
20 November 2012: A Stoke City fan was banned from attending football matches for three years after it came to light he had racially abused Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli, calling him a ‘monkey’ during a game between the two clubs in September. (Sports Mole, 20 November 2012)
16 November 2012: A Manchester City fan was banned for five years for racially abusing Queens Park Rangers players, including calling Anton Ferdinand a ‘black b*****d’, during a game in September. When the man was confronted by another spectator, he protested ‘John Terry said it’. (Manchester Evening News, 16 November 2012)
7 November 2012: A fan arrested after making monkey gestures during a Chelsea vs Manchester United game on 31 October was banned from Chelsea’s ground pending the outcome of a police investigation. (London Evening Standard, 7 November 2012)
2 November 2012: Police announced they were investigating the racial abuse of a Crawley Town player by a Wigan Athletic fan on Twitter. The two teams had played each other the previous week, and the incident was reported to the police by a Crawley fan. Wigan Athletic declined to comment. (Wigan Observer, 2 November 2012)
21 October 2012: Leicester Nirvana FC reported that Blaby and Whetstone fans made racist comments, monkey noises and invaded the pitch after the two teams had finished playing a game. (Leicester Mercury, 7 November 2012)
21 October 2012: An Everton fan allegedly hurled racist insults at Everton player Victor Anichebe (calling him a ‘monkey’) and Queens Park Rangers captain Park Ji-Sung (calling him a ‘ch**k’) during a match between the two teams. (Sport Witness, 5 November 2012)
12 December 2012: A man was charged with racially aggravated harassment in relation to a pig’s head being placed outside a mosque in Berkshire in October. (BBC News, 12 December 2012)
11 December 2012: A court in Glasgow heard how a woman and a 15-year-old girl ripped a hijab from a Muslim woman’s head in September and repeatedly punched her on her face and body when she fell to the ground. The attackers also punched the Muslim woman’s friend, a pregnant woman, calling her a ‘f*****g black African’. (STV News, 11 December 2012)
8 December 2012: In Nottingham, offensive graffiti was daubed on the path of a Muslim family’s home, the latest of a spate of racist incidents directed at them in the space of a few weeks, including a cross wrapped in ham being balanced by their front door. A 13-year-old boy was arrested. (BBC News, 9 December 2012)
20 November 2012: Pieces of ham were thrown at a mosque in Crawley, causing anxiety and anger amongst worshipers. A 16-year-old boy was later arrested and bailed. (ITV News, 27 November 2012)
19 November 2012: A senior EDL member was arrested in connection with graffiti that was sprayed on mosques and Sikh temples, including the letters ‘EDL’, in the south-west in September 2012. (Bristol Post, 19 November 2012)
17 November 2012: Two people were arrested, one for ‘racial chanting’, during a demonstration against the proposed opening of a mosque in Sunderland. The demonstration was held by the Northern Patriotic Front, formed by ex-National Front members. (Northern Echo, 18 November 2012)
12 November 2012: Offensive graffiti was spray-painted in view of a mosque in Woking. A 19-year-old woman was later arrested and bailed. (BBC News, 15 November 2012)
12 November 2012: A man was released on bail pending sentencing for an incident in January when he racially abused three Asian men who had escaped a house fire and hurled a large metal sword at them. (STV News, 12 November 2012)
7 November 2012: A man in Burton, Stoke, was given a suspended 12-week jail sentence for a September attack in which he hurled racist abuse at three Muslim schoolgirls, who fled to a nearby shop. One of the girls later said, ‘He looked really angry as if he hated us because we were not white’. (Burton Mail, 7 November 2012)
Attacks on people in their homes
December 2012: A Slovakian man in Crewe was assaulted by a six white men in a brutal unprovoked racist attack which left him with a badly broken wrist. (Crewe Chronicle, 12 December 2012)
26 November 2012: An investigation was launched after residents of a block of flats in Hampshire were subjected to a campaign of racist abuse. A swastika had been painted on the wall, and death threats had been scribbled on a communal area. One woman, who had reported incidents to the police, had had the words ‘grassing b***h’ written on her front door. (The is Hampshire, 26 November 2012)
15 November 2012: A woman was evicted from her home in West Ewell, Surrey, after being convicted of racist abuse and punching and head-butting a woman, as well as abusing and intimidating several neighbours. (West Ewell Guardian, 3 December 2012)
6 November 2012: At around 2am, a couple in their Somerset home, with three children, were woken up by noises outside and found that the front of their house had been covered in petrol. The couple said that they had been called ‘dirty Gypsies’ in the past and had their car smashed. Fearing for their children’s safety, they asked to be rehoused. (Western Gazette, 8 November 2012)
1 November 2012: A Pakistani refugee in Glasgow, walking down a street in broad daylight with his sister, was head-butted, slapped and racially abused by a man who asked him ‘are you responsible for trafficking women in this area?’ The attacker fled when customers of a nearby bar intervened. (Glasgow Herald, 2 November 2012)
29 October 2012: A court in Belfast heard how a migrant worker walking home in June was set upon by two men who whipped him with their belts and tried to put a belt around his throat. They then threw a large rock at him but missed and smashed a window in his home, before threatening to burn his family and kidnap his children. (BBC News, 29 October 2012)
24 October 2012: An appeal was launched after a black woman in Folkstone was punched in the head by a group of white girls. When she went to look for the attackers with her daughter, they were racially abused by a group of youths. (Kent News, 24 October 2012)
6 October 2012: A woman who was among a group of people who racially abused an Asian man in Manchester before kicking him to the floor and stamping on his head was given a 12-month community order. The judge described the attack as ‘horrifying’ and said that he was giving the woman a ‘last chance’. (BBC News, 26 October 2012)
Attacks in the night-time economy and attacks on workers
4 December 2012: An army sergeant was given a 12-month community order for an incident in Salisbury in 2010 in which he racially abused someone from his own regiment on a night out, eventually having to be restrained by doormen. (Salisbury Journal, 4 December 2012)
26 November 2012: Two friends who on 19 August subjected staff at an Indian restaurant in Cheadle to a tirade of racist abuse, waving a Union flag at them whilst being egged on by drinkers from a nearby pub, were given 12-month restraining orders. One of the perpetrators was a former BNP member. (Stoke Sentinel, 26 November 2012)
15 November 2012: A man was given a prison sentence after racially abusing and threatening another patient in a doctor’s surgery in Poplar. The attacker had been kicking his victim’s 5-year-old daughter’s chair in the waiting room, and when he was asked to stop, he launched into a tirade of abuse, calling him a ‘f*****g P**i’ before ringing a friend, saying ‘I have got some P**i in the surgery. Are you guys coming? I’m going to slice him up.’ (Docklands & East London Advertiser, 15 November 2012)
9 November 2012: A teenager who hurled racist insults at his care worker in Burnley later pleaded guilty to racially-aggravated threatening or insulting behaviour, but justified his actions by explaining ‘I like being a racist’. (Lancashire Telegraph, 26 November 2012)
3 November 2012: A taxi driver in Redditch was subjected to racist abuse by four white teenagers who then dragged him from his seat and assaulted him, leaving him with facial injuries. (Redditch Advertiser, 5 November 2012)
November 2012: An Iranian bar-owner in Weymouth was targeted with death threats and persistent racist abuse in a Facebook campaign after a false rumour spread that he had banned people wearing remembrance poppies in his premises. (Dorset Echo, 14 November 2012)
31 October 2012: A white couple were injured when they were hit by fireworks as they stood in a shop owned by a Sri Lankan family in Bristol. The shop owners explained, ‘The young ones target us and there’s a lot of racist abuse. Other businesses don’t seem to be targeted as much. We are being hit by them all the time. We knew it would be bad because of Halloween but the firework being thrown is really serious.’ (Bristol Evening Post, 3 November 2012)
5 October 2012: A customer, already banned from an off-licence in Coventry, was asked to leave when he tried to enter. He then got his friend to buy him what he wanted, and re-entered the building hurling racist abuse at staff members and spitting in one man’s face. (Coventry Evening Telegraph, 1 November 2012)
also see: ‘Spotlight on racial violence: July-September 2012‘
© Institute of Race Relations
Fear anti-English racism on rise
More than one in three victims of race-related crime in Scotland are white, with experts believing an increasing number of English people to be the target.
12/12/2012- Figures from the Scottish Government show the number of incidents with a racial element rose by 10% during the last year, the first time an increase has been recorded since 2007. The rise appears to have been spurred by a 23% leap in the number of white British people who said they were targeted. Combined with incidents where the victims were described as Irish or "white other" – such as Polish or Gypsy travellers – 36% of those who suffered racial abuse were white. The research also concludes 95% of race-related offences were committed by white people, the majority of them British.
Overall, the number of racist incidents now stands at an eight- year high, with 5389 recorded since 2011. Alastair Pringle, director of the Equality and Human Rights Commission in Scotland, said: "The rise in the number of white British people who have been victims of racial incidents can be attributed to a number of factors. "We believe a number of white British victims may be English police officers serving in Scotland who have been the subject of racial abuse and assault in the course of detaining and interviewing Scottish subjects. "There have also been reports of racial abuse of English people living and working in Scotland. Certainly more analysis needs to be carried out on the reason for the increase." Mr Pringle added: "This is not to say the majority of Scots are racially intolerant – on the contrary. Unfortunately, it's the age-old case of the minority giving the majority a bad name."
Scottish Conservative Chief Whip John Lamont, MSP, said: "If it is an increase in anti-English behaviour from those living in Scotland, we have to treat it with the same severity we do any other racist incident." People of Pakistani origin made up the second-largest group of victims, with more than 1300 people saying they suffered some form of racial abuse last year. The largest single group targeted was those of Asian origin – comprising Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Chinese or other Asian – who made up 44% of all victims, a fall from last year's figure. The vast majority of offences were committed in Scotland's largest cities with 1499 incidents recorded in Glasgow, an increase of 171 on the year before. In Edinburgh, there were 1017, a rise of 173.
Racially aggravated conduct was by far the most common offence reported to the police, accounting for 3658 incidents. However, racial elements were also identified in crimes ranging from vandalism to fire- raising, violence and sexual offences. Men aged 26 to 35 are the most likely victims of racist incidents, while 40% of offences were committed by males aged 20 or younger. A Scottish Government spokesman said: "No information is published in the statistical bulletin which would allow any conclusions to be drawn relating to the combination of ethnic groups of victims and perpetrators." Roseanna Cunningham, the Scottish Government's Minister for Community Safety, described the rise as disappointing.
© The Herald Scotland
Graffiti and 'ham cross' outside Muslim home in Bingham (UK)
Offensive graffiti attacking Allah and Islam has been painted outside a Muslim family's home weeks after a cross wrapped in ham was left by their door.
9/12/2012- The 31-year-old mother and two sons, eight and 10, say they have suffered five or six racist incidents since they moved to Bingham, Notts, in October. The graffiti was painted on their path on Saturday morning. A 13-year-old Bingham boy was arrested in connection with the ham-covered cross on Friday and bailed. The family, who do not want to be identified, moved to the Nottinghamshire market town after the mother separated from her husband. The husband said he had now had to move in with his family to protect them. "They are in fear of their lives," he said. "My kids are scared and crying. "Two days after the first incident I saw the eldest on the laptop looking at a map, looking for escape routes in case anything goes wrong. "I'm not even a strict Muslim at all, so for this to happen to my family is a joke." The father, 39, still lives in West Bridgford in Nottinghamshire, but was in his wife's house in Bingham when the cross was put outside on 20 November.
He said there was a knock on the door at about 18:30 GMT. "The cross was upside down outside the door so when I opened the door it fell in," he said. "I was disgusted straight away. Clearly they are targeting my wife. "I've got to assume it's because of the way she dresses in traditional Asian clothes, with a traditional headdress." He believes the person responsible for the cross must have followed his wife home to know where she lives. Nottinghamshire Police said they asked the council to remove the graffiti as soon as possible.
The 13-year-old boy arrested in connection with the cross was also arrested in connection with two other incidents involving the same family. A police statement said: "He is suspected of shouting racial abuse at a 32-year-old woman on 3 December and throwing a stone at their window on 4 December." Police said he was also arrested in connection with incidents affecting two restaurants in Bingham. On 11 August racist graffiti was scrawled on a Singaporean restaurant in Market Place, and on 31 October bricks were thrown at a Balti restaurant in Market Place. A Nottinghamshire Police spokesperson said: "Hate crime is completely unacceptable in any degree or form and Nottinghamshire Police takes any incidents of this nature incredibly seriously. "Increased patrols have been mounted to provide reassurance and officers have been conducting house-to-house enquiries and working very closely with the victims to ensure they are safe."
© BBC News
Anti-fascist group claims Greek far-right party bombing
8/12/2012- A little-known anti-fascist group said on Saturday it was behind a bomb attack on an office of Greece's far-right Golden Dawn party this week that ripped through a wall and smashed windows but caused no injuries. The dynamite-packed device was planted outside a branch of the party, whose popularity has surged during Greece's debt crisis. The Anti-Fascist Front said in an Internet statement that it was behind Tuesday's pre-dawn attack near Athens. It said it was affiliated with the Informal Anarchist Federation (FAI), a group which has claimed several attacks across Europe, mostly in Italy. "We decided to hit Golden Dawn's offices because we believe that you have to hit out at fascists first, before they hit you," the Front said.
The authenticity of its claim could not immediately be verified and a Greek police source said the group was not known to the security services. Greek activists and politicians have called for the ultra-nationalist Golden Dawn to be banned. Its members have been seen giving Nazi-style salutes and its emblem resembles a swastika, but the party denies it is neo-Nazi. Messages signed by the FAI were included in letter bombs sent last year to the Italian tax agency Equitalia, Germany's Deutsche Bank and the Greek embassy in Paris. The Equitalia bomb blew off the finger of its director general. People affiliated with the group also claimed responsibility for shooting and wounding an executive at Italian nuclear engineering firm Ansaldo Nucleare earlier this year.
Headlines 7 December, 2012
Serbian Judges Receive Death Threats
The Serbian Constitutional Court has received a letter with death threats addressed to the court's judges and their families.
7/12/2012- An unknown group sent on Thursday a letter to the Serbian Constituational Court threatening to kill its 11 judges. "Based on the findings and declarations, the world's pan-Serb alliance in defence of the Serbian national interests condemns to death 11 judges of the Constitutional Court of Serbia for banning the organization Obraz," the letter said. In June, the Court banned the far-right organisation ‘Obraz’, notorious for inciting violence against gays. According to the letter, the judges are to quit their posts and move to Kosovo with their families otherwise they would be killed. It also states that from now on every step of the judges and their familiy members will be followed and that no force could prevent the unknown group from excuting the punishment. The letter was signed by "Kangaroo court, The Black Hand - Apis". The signature is a reference to Colonel Dragutin Dimitrijevic aka Apis [the bee], the leader of the pre World War I secret terrorist organisation, The Black Hand, which assasinated the Serbian king Alexander Karadjordjevic and his wife Draga Masin in 1903. The group was also implicated in the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria in 1914. Obraz's leader Mladen Obradovic has denied any connection with the letter. The Constitutional Court has informed the authorities about the content of the letter.
The group defines its basic principles as patriotism and faith in the Serbian Orthodox Church. They see themselves as defenders of the purity of the Serbian language and the Cyrillic alphabet, and family values. The group became notorious in 2001 for their attack on the first ever Belgrade Gay Pride parade which left several marchers and police officers injured. In April 2011, a Belgrade court jailed Obraz's leader Mladen Obradovic for two years for organising riots during the October 2010 Belgrade Gay Pride parade in which about 140 people were injured.
© Balkan Insight
Italian watchdog sees 70 anti-Semitic incidents in 2011
7/12/2012- An anti-Semitism watchdog counted 70 anti-Semitic incidents in Italy in 2011. The figure reported Dec. 6 by the Milan-based Center of Contemporary Jewish Documentation is up from approximately 40 such occurrences documented the previous year. Stefano Gatti, a researcher, told the Italian news agency ANSAmed that incidents ranged from a few cases of physical assault to the daubing of anti-Semitic graffiti on Jewish institutions and elsewhere. Most of the incidents observed in 2011 were graffiti or online defamation and intimidation, according to the report. Gatti said that in Italy, “essentially anti-Semitism is not violent, but rather ideological,” but that the “data show the situation is changing, evolving negatively." He said that the increase might be due in part "to more efficient data-gathering, but the episodes have undeniably increased.” ANSAmed quoted Gatti as saying that “certain attitudes are no longer perceived as anti-Semitic and no longer rate a social reaction. The joke that used to be whispered after one glass too many, is now shamelessly told out loud.''
© JTA News
Insight: Tortured, detained and ordered out: a migrant's tale in Greece
6/12/2012- Egyptian immigrant Waleed Taleb says demanding his unpaid wages in Greece came at a heavy price; 18 hours chained and beaten by his boss, a stint in jail and orders to leave the country he calls home. One of hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who toil in Greece's black labor market, Taleb had just finished cleaning the bakery where he worked one November morning on the island of Salamina when he sparked his boss's fury. What followed would end up symbolizing how migrants have become among the biggest and most defenseless victims of Greece's economic crisis, facing racist attacks, police apathy and a system that punishes them rather than their assailants. The baker and two others fastened an 8-metre long metal chain around Taleb's neck with a lock and dragged him to a stable, he said, where another man joined them. There they tied him to a chair, tightened the noose and punched him while he drifted in and out of consciousness, he said. The men drank beer - which they also forced into Taleb's mouth - and taunted him for being a Muslim, he said.
"They dragged me around like a dog," said Taleb, recounting the attack from a mattress on the floor of his dingy apartment tucked away amid Salamina's low-roofed houses and tavernas. "I thought this was the end for me. I kept fainting, and every time I fainted they would hit me with rods to wake me up." After 18 hours, Taleb managed to escape when his captors left to reopen the bakery. But his nightmare was not over. Found at dawn under a tree with the heavy chain still around his neck and his face swollen beyond recognition, Taleb was initially taken to a hospital and given first aid. But police later whisked him away to detain him on the charge that he lacked documents to live in Greece - though he says he complained he could barely walk and was in pain. "Everyone could see I was suffering. I couldn't even see, and I couldn't eat," says Taleb, 29. A month later he has a neck brace, an arm bandage and can only eat semi-solid food. "I thought I would die. The problem wasn't that I didn't have papers; the problem was that I had been beaten."
Calling his ordeal one of "striking brutality", the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said his case followed a pattern in which migrants are "immediately arrested with the view to be deported" when they go to police to report an attack. After an outcry over the case - including condemnation by the Egyptian embassy and a protest by other Egyptians - Greece's public order minister on Tuesday said Taleb would not be deported due to "humanitarian reasons". But rights groups said it was not clear how long he would be allowed to stay.
"All Out But Me"
Taleb says he spent four days in two detention centers and was given documents telling him to leave Greece in 30 days, while his boss was released after three days pending trial. The baker, a former deputy mayor in Salamina, admitted to beating Taleb - but not brutally - and accuses him of stealing 13,000 euros that Taleb says is his money, police said. The other men Taleb accused were charged but are free pending trial since police failed to arrest them in the required 24-hour window after the crime. "There was a phone in prison, and when I called other people, they told me my boss had already been released," he said. "They hit me, robbed me and then everyone was out of jail except me." Indeed, the lack of any convictions in Greece over racist attacks has allowed migrants to be targeted with impunity, said Nikitas Kanakis, head of Doctors of the World in Greece.
"The state should apologize to a man found under a tree in chains. We treated him like a dog - that's bad enough," Kanakis said, attacking the move to detain Taleb after his ordeal. "If we don't convict any of these people nothing will change. Then everyone feels that they can get away with it." Police officials defended their actions by saying Taleb was pulled out of hospital only after they were given the go-ahead by doctors and that Greek law required the detention of illegal immigrants. A Greek police spokesman declined to comment beyond the statement by the minister saying Taleb's deportation had been suspended. Taleb and others in the Egyptian community say his injuries were serious enough for him to be sent back to hospital for a week after his four days in detention were over.
A Cross On His Back
Two Greek immigration lawyers said Taleb was lucky to be given 30 days to leave - many others are often given just seven days to get out of Greece. Still others - like Hassan Mekki, a 32-year-old Sudanese migrant who fled conflict in his country in hope of a better life in Europe - suffer silently. In August, he and a friend were walking in Athens when black-shirted men on motorcycles holding Greek flags came up and knocked him unconscious with a blow to the head, he said. When he came to, he was covered in blood. Only later would he realize that his attackers, whom he says were likely tied to the far-right Golden Dawn party, had left large gashes resembling an "X" across his back. "I don't have the right papers, so I can't go anywhere to ask for help," Mekki said. "I can't sleep. I'm scared, maybe they will follow me, and my life is in danger now."
Tapping into resentment towards illegal immigrants, Golden Dawn emerged from obscurity to enter parliament this year pledging to kick all immigrants out. The fast-rising party, which has been linked to racist attacks, denies it is neo-Nazi. In the latest criticism of Greece's handling of migrants, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on migrants' rights condemned Greece for doing little to curb rising racist attacks. Much of the violence went unreported because victims were afraid of deportation if they went to the police, who were sometimes involved in the attacks, Francois Crepeau said.
A major gateway for Asian and African immigrants trying to enter Europe through its porous borders, Greece has long struggled with illegal immigration. In the last few years, the problem has exploded into a full-blown crisis as Greece sank into a deep recession, leaving one in four jobless and hardening attitudes towards migrants who were blamed for a rise in crime. Ill equipped at the best of times to deal with the hordes of immigrants crossing its border with Turkey or arriving in plastic boats, Greece now finds itself grappling with a rising number of migrants when it can barely keep itself afloat. Stepped-up border patrols this year have stemmed the flow only slightly - in the first 10 months of the year, over 70,000 illegal migrants were arrested for crossing into Greece, down from about 82,000 in that period last year.
Many often find shocking conditions at detention centers with food shortages, no hot water or heating and open hostility from Greeks embittered by years of austerity, Crepeau and other rights groups say. Greek officials say the root of the problem is the so-called Dublin II treaty, which deems asylum seekers to be the responsibility of the country where they entered Europe and thus puts a heavier burden on border states like Greece. Greek governments have repeatedly asked for the treaty to be repealed, to no avail, and the U.N.'s Crepeau also said Europe needed to do more to help Greece with the flow of migrants. Still, Greece needs to stop blaming Europe for its failure to properly deal with migrants, said Dimitris Christopoulos, vice president of the Hellenic League for Human Rights. The treaty should be scrapped but Athens could take steps like registering migrants before asking Europe for help in sending them back to their countries or processing them, he said. "In reality, Greece is doing nothing on this issue, saying 'I can't deal with this issue, I raise my hands,'" he said.
Instead, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's conservative-led government - fearful of losing votes to the fast-rising Golden Dawn - has gone on the offensive with police sweeps to arrest migrants and more checks along the Turkish border. Police said 59,000 migrants have been detained in waves of raids since August, with about 5,000 deported and the rest released or sent to temporary detention centers. Samaras has also defied opposition from leftist coalition allies and moved to scrap a law that makes it easier for those born to immigrant parents in Greece to become citizens - which critics say is reflective of his New Democracy party's growing shift to the right. "New Democracy is trying not to lose this group of very conservative voters," said Theodore Couloumbis, vice president of the Athens-based ELIAMEP think-tank. "The traditional right-wing party is trying to win back some of these people who think that illegal immigration is a big problem."
Far away from the corridors of power, the changing attitudes towards migrants are plainly visible in Salamina, where the reaction to Taleb's ordeal ranges from shock to undisguised glee. The island's mayor, Yannis Tsavaris, told Reuters the attack was shocking and questioned whether Taleb should have been detained rather than kept in hospital. Some residents agreed. "It's despicable," said Manos Kailas, 50, who owns a shop at the island's busy port. "This incident is evidence of the social disintegration in Greece. The debt crisis has hit Greeks badly and they feel that illegal immigration is part of the problem." Some others felt little sympathy for a migrant. "Was he badly beaten up?" said one man as he walked away from the port. "If so, good - he deserved it."
Vandals spray anti-Semitic graffiti in two Paris suburbs (France, Spain)
Large swastikas and message praising anti-Jewish terrorist painted near French capital
4/12/2012- Large swastikas were scrawled on a kosher pizzeria in suburban Paris. The Jewish owner of the B’Paradise pizzeria in Sarcelles discovered the swastikas on Monday, according to Metro, a French daily. The newspaper reported that the swastikas were spray-painted Saturday on the shop display of the pizzeria, which overlooks the main synagogue of Sarcelles, a northern suburb of Paris that is home to approximately 60,000 Jews. In September, members of what French authorities described as “a dangerous Jihadist network” detonated a grenade inside a kosher supermarket in Sarcelles, lightly wounding one person. Also Saturday, unknown individuals spray-painted slogans praising Mohammed Merah, the killer of four Jews in Toulouse on March 19, in Orgeval, an eastern suburb of the French capital. A report in L’Union, a local paper, said one piece of graffiti called for the release of Youssouf Fofana, the leader of a gang who in 2006 tortured and killed Ilan Halimi, a young Jewish man from the Paris region, because they wanted to kill a Jew.
Meanwhile, on Monday, a headmaster of a school in Melilla, a Spanish city on the Moroccan coastline, denied reports that the recent assault of a Jewish high school student by Muslim classmates was motivated by anti-Semitism or related to the Israeli-Arab conflict. The boy was assaulted on Nov. 23 at the Enrique Nieto School, according to a report in Melilla Hoy, a local newspaper. The report did not say whether the boy sustained any injuries.
© JTA News
3/12/2012- Protesters in Vienna reportedly called out “death to the Jews” at a demonstration near the Austrian chancellor’s office. About 400 people participated in the demonstration on Nov. 30, according to reports by the Coordination Forum for Countering Anti-Semitism, an international organization, and Judische.at, an Austrian-Jewish news site. The demonstrators chanted “Ithbakh al yahud” (“Kill the Jews” in Arabic) and “Free Palestine,” as well as “Freedom for Syria” and “Destroy Israel.” The report said Viennese police did not intervene in the procession, which took place in the center of the Austrian capital. The website published photos of the rally, which consisted of a ”colorful mix of Salafists, Hamas supporters, activists of an organization called ‘the Free Syrian Army,’ Muslim Brotherhood, young Palestinians and pseudo left-wing Trotskyists and ‘anti-Imperialists,’ ” the news site reported. The report said “the security situation in Vienna seems precarious as the police and the secret service look away.” It also said the demonstration was not reported in most mainstream Austrian media. The rally was organized to protest Israel’s strikes in Gaza last month against Hamas.
Meanwhile, in Sweden, large swastikas twice were scrawled on several doors belonging to two separate Jewish homes in Malmo, according to a report in Sydsvenskan, a local daily. One of the homes was broken into, and a computer and Judaica were stolen, including a gold Star of David, a mezuzah and a chanukyiah. The homeowners, who did not wish to be named, reportedly called police four times during the weekend as the assailants continued to return. In Finland, security cameras outside the Jewish community center in Helsinki over the weekend recorded an unknown individual shouting "Heil Hitler"
© JTA News
Gay bashers face stiff penalties in Vancouver (Canada)
1/12/2012- Coordinator of the Vancouver Police department Hate Crimes Unit Detective Sergeant Cheryl Leggett says that the imposition of stiff sanctions has led to increased awareness about gay bashing in this southwestern province. According to Leggett, the court can ask for increased sentencing on a charge if it can be proven that the offence is a hate crime. "We have had two very big cases in the last six years, which have empowered the gay community, and so they won't tolerate any form of gay bashing," she told the Jamaican delegation of journalists and policy makers who are here in Vancouver for a knowledge exchange, organised by Panos Caribbean in partnership with the Simon Fraser University and the Vancouver Initiative. "It may just be someone in a car shouting slurs, but I suggest to them that they give us the license plate number because they could return with a shotgun," explained Leggett, who also has a responsibility to teach new recruits how to identify and investigate hate crimes..
Local media reported earlier this week that the trial of two brothers accused in an alleged 2010 gay-bashing wrapped up on November 22 with the prosecutor saying she had proven the case beyond a reasonable doubt and defence lawyers maintaining that their clients were not conclusively identified. Parminder Singh Peter Bassi is charged with two counts of assault causing bodily harm while his brother, Ravinder Robbie Bassi, is charged with one count of assault causing bodily harm. The attack is said to have sent Peter Regier and his late partner David Holtzman to hospital after they were assaulted outside their Keefer Place home, while allegedly being subjected to a barrage of homophobic slurs. Vancouver police chief Jim Chu told the delegation that hate crimes have been decreasing. "In the past, these crimes were not reported because persons didn't know the police would take it seriously," he said, explaining that there was an initial spike in the number of incidents, but that could be attributed to the fact that more persons were making reports.
The Hate Crimes Unit is part of the Diversity and Aboriginal Policing Section and was established to provide support to both the Patrol Division and Investigative Sections throughout the city. Under the Criminal Code of Canada, a hate crime is defined as a criminal offence committed against a person or property that is motivated by the suspect's hate, bias or prejudice against an identifiable group based on the victim's race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or any other similar factor. However, Det Sergeant Legget said the most prevalent offences have to do with religion, race and sexual orientation. "Now the two most victimised groups are the Jews and the gays," she said. Offenders, she said, are mainly young men in the age group of 18 to 25 years. The Unit, she said, receives 15 cases of suspected to be hates crimes per month, however only about four will turn out to be valid.
© The Jamaica Observer
Harvard Campus Reacts To Inflammatory Flyers (USA)
1/12/2012- Students in all nine River Houses received sealed invitations under their doors early Friday morning professing to come from “Harvard’s Newest Final Club”—with the inflammatory statements that “Jews need not apply” and “Coloreds OK.” The enclosed flyer, bearing a crest of a griffin encircled by a laurel wreath, invited recipients to the first introductory punch event of the purported social club “The Pigeon.” The invitation listed three virtues, each with asterisked notes. The first principle, “Inclusion,” came with the footnote, “Jews need not apply.” The second, “Diversity,” was followed by the words, “Seriously, no fucking Jews. Coloreds OK.” And the third, “Love,” directed readers to the term “Rophynol”—a misspelled rendering of rohypnol, the date rape drug better known as roofies. The flyer also instructed aspiring members to wear “Semi-Bro Attire” to the punch event, to be held at frozen yogurt shop Berryline at 11:02 p.m.—two minutes after closing time—on Dec. 13, or to send their regrets to a room in Mather House.
One student who lives in the five-person suite that includes the room specified in the flyer said that she and her suitemates were not involved in creating or distributing the invitations. The Matherite, who was granted anonymity by The Crimson because she said she did not want to be associated with language that she finds offensive, added that she and her suitemates have no knowledge of who was behind the flyers. Also in the wee hours of Friday morning, two Northeastern University students vandalized a menorah on Northeastern’s campus. They were later identified in a surveillance video and will face disciplinary action at Northeastern. No evidence has been reported to suggest a link between the two incidents. The mock invitations distributed at Harvard drew a swift response from College administrators, who summoned at least one student organization leader on Friday as they began investigating the incident.
Owen T. L. Bates ’13, president of the Harvard Lampoon, adamantly said his organization had “nothing to do with” the flyers, which he said were “basely crass” in a tone inconsistent with the Lampoon’s style of “pretentiously crass” humor. Still, he said he received an email and a phone call from the Office of Student Life on Friday morning asking him to meet with Interim Associate Dean of Student Life David R. Friedrich. When they met midday on Friday, Bates said, Friedrich indicated that the conversation was prompted in part by speculation in the comments section of an earlier version of this article that the Lampoon, a semi-secret Sorrento Square social organization that used to occasionally publish a so-called humor magazine, may have been responsible for the incident.
Though many Harvard community members guessed that the flyers were an attempt at satire of the exclusive all-male final clubs, they roundly condemned the inflammatory references in the invitations. Dean of the College Evelynn M. Hammonds wrote in an emailed statement on Friday that the flyers were “deeply disturbing” to her and others in the Harvard community. “As Dean of the College, and as an educator, I find these flyers offensive. They are not a reflection of the values of our community,” Hammonds wrote. “Even if intended as satirical in nature, they are hurtful and offensive to many students, faculty and staff, and do not demonstrate the level of thoughtfulness and respect we expect at Harvard when engaging difficult issues within our community.”
Christopher H. Cleveland ’14, president of the Harvard Black Men’s Forum, wrote in an email that he thought the invitations, regardless of their intent, had gone too far. “As students of a university with a very peculiar history concerning ethnic and racial relations, we should be working together to build up each other,” Cleveland wrote. The first final club to admit a black member was the Spee, in 1965; the Porcellian had no black members until 1983. “Publications that alienate specific ethnic and racial groups are not aligned with that goal,” Cleveland added.
The invitations are not the first of their kind. In 2010, a group of undergraduates distributed flyers under doors, in the tradition common to real final clubs, encouraging students to refrain from joining the clubs or attending their parties. Organizers claimed that Harvard’s eight male and five female final clubs, which are not recognized by the University, promote an exclusive and dangerous social environment. And in a similar campaign in 2011, organizers slipped letters under the doors of sophomore men asking them not to participate in punch in part due to the “unequal access to social space” enjoyed by the male clubs over the female ones.
© The Harvard Crimson
Which Way Forward on Racial Profiling? (opinion)
A review of the major development in initiatives against racial profiling in European policing.
by Liz Fekete
6/12/2012- Black and Asian kids from poor neighbourhoods repeatedly stopped and searched by police in the UK, identity card checks on people of Muslim appearance in central Paris, or of Muslims outside mosques in Germany, round-ups of migrants without papers in Greece, abusive and insulting behaviour towards Roma during stop and search in Bulgaria – the details may vary, in terms of each country, but the overall narrative is the same: visible minorities singled out for police identity checks simply because of skin colour, ethnicity, national origin or religion. Up until recently, racial (or ethnic) profiling by the police has been a given in Europe. But today, thanks to a decades-long struggle by ethnic minorities against discrimination in everyday encounters with law enforcement officers, policing practices are under challenge as never before. Intergovernmental agencies like the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, as well as a growing number of NGOs and foundations (the European Roma Rights Centre, the European Network Against Racism, the Open Society Institute Justice Initiative, Human Rights Watch, Stopwatch in the UK, SOS Racismo in Spain, ReachOut and KOP Berlin in Germany, and the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, to name but a few), are also providing detailed evidence and regularly speaking out whenever racial profiling takes place. So it should come as no surprise that 2012 has seen these diverse initiatives to end racial profiling in law enforcement making their mark.
In the UK (where stop and search was left virtually untouched by the 1999 Macpherson report into the death of Stephen Lawrence, despite that report’s recognition of institutional racism in policing), young people’s negative view of police because of repeated and often humiliating stops and searches is now being discussed, partly as a belated acknowledgement that the practice was a causal factor in the August 2011 ‘riots’. In the summer of 2012, sixteen organisations (most of them working directly with young people) wrote to the home secretary, describing stop and search as ‘discriminatory’, ‘dehumanising’, destructive of trust and the catalyst for resentment, the very ‘embodiment of the negative relationships young people have with the police’. In particular, the signatories called on the government to suspend section 60 of the 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, which allows officers to stop and search young people without even the safeguard of reasonable suspicion.
Germany and France – ripe for change
In France and Germany, where important coalitions – of NGOs, foundations and legal experts – are campaigning around the issue, police and politicians are now under pressure to accept changes to procedures in identity checks, as well as to create formal mechanisms for police accountability (such as keeping account of stops and searches, publishing data on complaints against the police, creating an independent police complaints system and a mandatory inquest system following any death in police custody). Perhaps Germany, more than any other country in Europe, has the potential at the moment for real systemic change, as the long-established culture of racial profiling based on passport (identity card) checks comes under challenge from a confident generation of young ethnic minority Germans.
According to Tahir Della of the Initiative of Black People in Germany, discrimination in identity checks is an aberration in ‘Germany’s current multicultural and multiethnic reality’. Della spoke in response to a test case brought by a 26-year-old black German architecture student (the young man has chosen not to reveal his identity) who, in a Rosa Parks moment, and fed up by repeated humiliations (he had been asked to show his ID card at least ten times in two years on the same train journey) decided to take a stand. In December 2010, he was approached by two federal police officers carrying out checks on a train travelling between Kassel to Frankfurt, who asked to see his ID. He refused, unless they could explain the reason for their request. This the police officers refused, instead taking him to a police station and threatening to hold him there until he showed his ID. (The student told the police that their methods were reminiscent of those of the Nazi SS, leading to a charge, later dropped, of slander.) But while a lower court rejected the student’s complaint (stating that racial profiling was legitimate in identity checks if the purpose was to catch illegal immigrants), the Higher Administrative Court of Rhineland-Palatinate in Koblenz came to an altogether different verdict in October 2012. It ruled that racial profiling was indeed unlawful on the grounds that the use of skin colour as a decisive factor leading to an identity check was a clear violation of Article 3 of the German Constitution, which states: ‘No person shall be favoured or disfavoured because of sex, parentage, race, language, homeland and origin, faith, or religious or political opinions’. Since the Koblenz decision, it is possible to detect a sea-change in attitudes towards racial profiling. For instance, the media have widely reported and discussed the case of Derege Wevelsiep, a German-Ethiopian man who says he was abused and knocked unconscious in front of his wife and child during a passport check in Frankfurt, and the parliament in Hesse has discussed this case in the context of calls for a more diverse police force and for an ombudsman to investigate complaints of police racism.
Despite opposition from one police trade union, the majority of German police seem to have accepted the Koblenz decision, and a representative of the federal police force apologised to the student (who did not seek compensation). However, the French police trade unions have not reacted so well to calls for change. Tellingly, the police trade union seems to have a stranglehold on government policy, with President Hollande reneging on a pre-election pledge (brought in to satisfy the demands of the Socialist Party youth wing and a coalition of youth organisations who mobilised the youth vote in the presidential election) to reform identity checks to ensure ‘procedures respectful of citizens’. The proposed reform, as Rachel Neild and Jonathan Birchall of the OSI Justice Initiative report, was in itself modest (in order to track police stops, the police would have had to issue an authorisation for each check); nevertheless, the reform would have been a start in building bridges between police and young people, particularly those from a North African background, whose members feature so prominently in the catalogue of those who have died in police custody. A coalition of NGOs and legal groups for reform (including GISTI, Graines de France, Human Rights Watch, La Ligue des Droits de l’Homme, la Maison pour un Développement Solidaire, Open Society Justice Initiative, the Syndicat des Avocats de France and the Syndicat de la Magistrature) is demanding, amongst other things, changes to the legal framework regulating stops (article 72-2 of the Penal Procedures Code).
These groups’ concern about ethnic profiling had earlier received academic support through the publication of a major study, Force de l’ordre: une anthropologie de la police des quartiers, by Didier Fassin, director of studies at the School of Higher Studies in Social Sciences. Fassin had been authorised (though revoked in 2007) to study policing in the Ile-de-France area and followed the operations of several police units, mostly dealing with street crime and public security. These police officers, according to what Fassin observed, were under pressure to keep busy and meet targets. And it was constant identity checks and stops and searches that enabled them to realise these targets and to respond to ‘official demands for statistics and for objectively measured interventions’. But these checks, argued Fassin, when carried out solely on the basis of physical appearance, were counter-productive and tension-generating; a ‘brutal and arbitrary’, ‘rough and humiliating’ way to deal with youngsters. What Fassin also observed was that young people from a middle-class background were more likely to complain of police racism than young people from the estates (banlieues). Dealing with police harassment and racism was seen by the youth of the banlieues as something of a rite of passage, ‘one of those apprenticeships they have to go through, with their parents instructing them “Don’t react to police provocations”.’ Furthermore, the stakes were just too high, and those on the estates would not risk criminalisation by making a protest, as a complaint generally resulted in a charge of ‘insulting behaviour’ or ‘disobedience’, with magistrates siding with the police. In fact, the charge of disobeying a police officer, in Fassin’s view, was not a legitimate criminal offence but ‘a strong tool of social control’, because it ‘allow[ed] for a reversal of the truth on the question of violence’.
In October 2012, in Berlin, at a two-day workshop on racial profiling organised by a coalition of campaigning organisations, including ReachOut and KOP Berlin, a young man in the audience took exception to a proposal that a campaign against racial profiling in Germany should be part and parcel of a wider campaign for police accountability. He argued that all policing was by nature authoritarian and that instead of reforming the police we should abolish it. But the long-term implications of failing to tackle everyday discriminatory practices, or allowing atrophy of those mechanisms which at least allow for a measure of police accountability, can now be seen in Greece, where a culture of impunity has developed in policing, with terrifying consequences for migrants and visible minorities.
Greece – racial profiling unleashed
Over the years, NGOs in Greece have been left to battle regressive developments alone, with precious little criticism of anti-democratic trends in policing (and the
military) coming from within the EU. But now, with the current Greek financial crisis, the results of a collective failure to stem authoritarianism can be witnessed. The government has unleashed ethnic profiling on a massive national scale. In August, it instructed police to launch Operation Xenios Zeus (named after the mythical Greek god of guests and travellers), a nationwide stop and search operation to detect, detain and deport ‘illegal immigrants’, which will last until the end of the year. It seems that the centre-right government is trying to outflank the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn (which currently has eighteen MPs in the Greek parliament) by winning police support through anti-immigrant rhetoric. The Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe is currently investigating multiple complaints of police racism and collusion with Golden Dawn, including claims that Golden Dawn has infiltrated the police at various levels, and that fascist elements are being used by the police to attack leftwing demonstrators and act as agents provocateurs during demonstrations, provoking clashes between demonstrators and the police, or even between demonstrators themselves. Police are further accused of torturing anti-fascists detained at an Athens police station; of outsourcing law enforcement and victim protection (particularly if the alleged perpetrator was ‘foreign’) to Golden Dawn; of turning away the victims of racist violence (or charging them a fee to file a complaint); of assaulting migrants and refugees during immigration raids, and in many cases, of being the perpetrators of racist violence themselves. Golden Dawn MP Ilias Panagiotaros famously declared during an interview with Newsnight’s Paul Mason that ‘50 to 60 per cent of the police are now with us’.
Launched in Athens at the beginning of August, Operation Xenios Zeus was soon extended to other cities, with three detention centres set up by the government (in Corinth, Xanthi and Komotini) to accommodate those arrested. According to police statistics, in the first month of Operation Xenios Zeus, 16,836 foreign nationals were brought in for questioning. Of these, 2,144 were arrested for not fulfilling legal residence requirements, suggesting to the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) that over 80 per cent of those taken to a police station for questioning were legal residents who had been stopped and searched and subjected to interrogation due to their perceived ethnicity. A number of other international bodies such as AI, Human Rights Watch and the UNHCR have also complained of police ‘discrimination on the basis of perceived ethnicity’.
- Amongst cases reported in the press:
Gul Zeb and Khaled Masud, detained at Aegaleo police station in Athens, were abused and subjected to violence. Officers allegedly gripped Zeb’s fingers with pliers and shaved off Masud’s moustache.
- Detainees suspected of being illegal immigrants and held at Corinth lacked warm water and sufficient food and medicine, and had no access to information or lawyers.
- At the detention centre in Komotini, up to 500 young men, mostly from Pakistan and Afghanistan, who had been arrested under Operation Xenios were still in detention after three months. A protest which broke out on 24 November and lasted for three days was quelled by riot police deploying tear gas.
- An Iraqi national, residing lawfully in Greece, was rounded up in Athens and taken to Komotini, 380 km from the capital. On release, he had to hitch-hike back to Athens, as he had no money. On 12 August, he was found on the motorway outside Xanthi (not far from Komotini) with serious injuries, having been beaten up. Staff at the hospital raised the money for him to return to Athens.
From racial profiling to religious profiling
If current realities in Greece speak of collective failure, the same pattern and same failures are now emerging, but on a pan-European level and with official EU endorsement. The war on terror, which has led to new anti-terrorist laws and additional public security measures across Europe, has given rise to an additional tier of stop and search and identity checks via religious profiling, which is superimposed on to existing policing methods based on racial profiling. Religious profiling (where racial characteristics are often used as a proxy for religion) is justified in terms of national security, and tacitly approved by the EU as a means of fighting ‘Islamic terrorism’. This makes it harder to delegitimise than ‘pure’ racial profiling, especially as the public has internalised media frameworks that portray Muslims as ‘enemy citizens’, and has been acclimatised to see emergency measures as a proportionate and effective way to deal with terrorism. So what we face today is a situation in which significant inroads have been made into those forms of racial profiling that operate as a tool of everyday policing, while religious profiling linked to emergency measures and anti-terrorist laws is dramatically escalating, and even entering new areas of policing. Could it be that we are witnessing, across Europe, the kind of collective failure to stem disproportionate and authoritarian measures that eventually gives rise to the culture of impunity in policing that now exists in Greece?
In the UK, in the British Asian communities it is now de rigueur to talk of the new offence of ‘Travelling While Asian’. Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 gives ‘examining officers’ at ports and airports the power to stop, search and examine an individual in order to determine whether or not he or she is concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism. Data on the extent and use of Schedule 7 is limited and, until recently, the Home Office only provided data on examinations lasting for over an hour. In 2010, for the first time, figures were published for the total number of Schedule 7 examinations, revealing that 85,557 examinations took place in ports in Great Britain in 2009/10, of which 2,687 lasted for more than one hour.
But there is a new area of concern – that religious profiling is now creeping into public order policing. In the UK, Manchester University law lecturer Joanna Gilmore has published her findings on the disproportionate sentencing of young Muslims targeted for arrest through the special police Operation Ute after participating in protests against the Israeli bombing of Gaza in Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009. Similarly, in Brussels, there are concerns that neighbourhoods perceived to be Muslim are targeted for special policing prior to demonstrations in support of Palestine, to prevent the free movement of people from those neighbourhoods to the demonstration. Are we seeing a new form of religious profiling? A new offence: ‘Demonstrating for Palestine while Muslim’?
In Paris, the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) gathered evidence of religious profiling in the policing of a small protest against the Charlie Hebdo cartoons at the Trocadéro, by the Eiffel Tower. Riot police deployed on the day subjected anyone in the vicinity of the Eiffel Tower, whose appearance singled them out as Muslim, to identity checks (with many tourists and others in the area stopped and questioned several times). The CCIF subsequently contacted some of the thirty-eight people arrested, many of whom had absolutely nothing to do with the protests, but were visiting the Eiffel Tower (French citizens taking relatives from abroad to visit the tower, for instance), and stopped because of their appearance. The testimony of those arrested presented a grim picture: the Moroccan uncle of a French citizen, visiting the Eiffel tower as a tourist, taken away in handcuffs to the police station where he was held for many hours alongside others before being released; police refusing a woman with heart problems a chair or a glass of water. As CCIF concludes, they were ‘passed like a parcel between the gendarmes and the police, from one police coach to another, searched and checked repeatedly, transported like animals in a humiliating way without knowing where they would be taken, when they would be free, nor the reason for their detention’.
© Institute of Race Relations