ICARE Hate Crime News - Archive February 2013

Headlines 22 February, 2013

Headlines 15 February, 2013

Headlines 8 February, 2013

Headlines 22 February, 2013

Alarm at Attacks on Turkish Armenians

22/2/2013- A series of attacks on elderly Armenians in Istanbul has left human rights activists fearful of an upsurge of xenophobia in Turkey. The latest victim was Sultan Aykar, an 80-year-old who lost an eye when she was attacked. “If her neighbours hadn’t come to her aid, my grandmother would be dead now,” Aykar’s granddaughter Karin Etik said by phone from Istanbul. “She had blood in her mouth, and she was so scared that she couldn’t speak.” It was only the latest in a series of attacks targeting Armenians. At the end of December, an 85-year-old woman called Maritsa Küçük was murdered, in the same Istanbul neighbourhood, Samatya. Samatya where the attacks have taken place, has traditionally had a large community of Armenians, who have enjoyed good relations with Turkish and Kurdish residents over many decades.

The Turkish press initially ignored the assaults, but concerns began to grow in the international media and among human rights groups. A January 27 demonstration in Samatya was attended by Turkish and Kurdish members of parliament, as well as representatives of women’s rights organisations. Participants held up banners saying, “Don’t hurt my Armenian neighbour”. “They want to scare the Armenians, to remind them that they will not die of old age in their beds,” said Ayşe Günaysu, a member of anti-racism committee of the Human Rights Association of Turkey. “The fact that the police are describing these fascist assaults as robberies only helps to encourage fascism. They are attempting to ethnically cleanse Samatya. We mustn’t forget the fact that the Armenian genocide is still denied in this country, and these events are a result of this denial.”

Turkish police have treated the attacks as ordinary crimes, perhaps the work of drug addicts who share the common belief that Armenians tend to be wealthier than others. “We need to be prudent when we discuss these attacks. I would like to wait before speaking,” Mustafa Demir, mayor of Fatih district, which includes Samatya, told Hurriyet Daily News. “All these attacks have involved theft as well, so it seems there’s little chance that these are nationalist crimes, if you look into the details.” Others disagree, and suspect a more sinister motive. “I have no doubt that these events are hate crimes. They need to be looked at against the background of attacks on Greeks and other Christians,” Orhan Kemil Cengiz, a journalist for the Radikal and Today’s Zaman newspapers, said. “I think that by creating fear among Christians, someone is trying to recreate the chaotic atmosphere that dominated Turkey prior to the murder of Hrant Dink,”

Hrant Dink was an ethnic Armenian journalist murdered in 2007 by a young Turkish nationalist, apparently because of Dink’s comments criticising Ankara’s refusal to recognise the early 20th-century killings of Armenians as genocide . Public outrage at this murder led to a wave of dismissals from Turkey’s security services, but analysts say extreme nationalism is again spreading , encouraged by rogue elements within the state. “Such incidents are the result of deep-laid plans and have deep roots. The Turkish government must solve these crimes not only to save the lives of individual Armenians, but to strengthen its own authority,” Berat Bekir Özipek, a political analyst with the Liberal Thinking Association and a journalist for the Star newspaper, said.
© Institute for War & Peace Reporting

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Serb Paramilitaries Jailed for Mass Killings of Roma

A Belgrade court sentenced seven members of the ‘Sima’s Chetniks’ paramilitary unit to a total of 73 years in prison for murdering 28 civilians including children in Zvornik in Bosnia

22/2/2012- Belgrade’s special court on Friday sentenced Zoran Stojanovic and Zoran Djurdjevic to 20 years, Tomislav Gavric and Zoran Alic to 10 years, Djordje Sevic and Dragana Djekic to five years and Damir Bogdanovic to two years for the killings of 28 Roma civilians, the rape and torture of three Roma women and the demolition of a mosque in the village of Skocic. “By destroying [the mosque], they carried out a large-scale demolition of property. Immediately after this senseless act, they went to [the Roma district of] Skocic, where they continued committing crimes in which they demonstrated a lack of humanity,” said presiding judge Rastko Popovic.

Popovic said that in 1992, the defendants killed 27 Roma civilians in Skocic, threw them into a pit and then set off a hand grenade. The other civilian was killed in a village yard. The three Roma women were repeatedly raped while being held under house arrest in the nearby village of Malesic between June and December 1992. “They were raped daily, beaten on various body parts, forced into hard labour. All this was done because they were of a different ethnicity,” said Popovic. Serbia’s deputy war crimes prosecutor Bruno Vekaric said that despite the sentences, he could not say that he was satisfied that justice had been done. “When you hear what kind of crimes were committed, it is hard to express satisfaction, especially when you hear someone killed children aged from two to 12 years old, pregnant woman, and another 20 people,” Vekaric told journalists outside the court.

This is the fifth case to be launched by Serbia’s special prosecutor over attacks in Zvornik, where some of the most brutal crimes of the 1992-95 Bosnian war were committed. After Zvornik, a town on the River Drina close to the border with Serbia, was seized in May 1992, Arkan’s Tigers, another Serb paramilitary unit, expelled most of the non-Serb population. Arkan’s Tigers are alleged to have cooperated closely with the paramilitaries of Vojislav Seselj, the leader of the Serbian Radical Party who is facing trial for war crimes in The Hague. The two paramilitary groups went on to attack numerous towns in Bosnia and Croatia with the help of the Yugoslav Army. It remains unclear under whose command Sima’s Chetniks acted, since some of the trial witnesses claimed that they received orders from the headquarters of the Serbian Radical Party. Seselj, however, has denied that he had any control over units in Zvornik, accusing Arkan (Zeljko Raznatovic), who died in a gangland shooting in 2000, of having command responsibility.
© Balkan Insight

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Polish Jewish cemetery, Russian center vandalized

22/2/2013- "Kalisz without Jews" spray-painted on Jewish cemetery in Kalisz, according to news site; Holocaust memorial in Russia smashed. A Jewish cemetery in western Poland and a Holocaust memorial site in Russia were defaced in suspected anti-Semitic attacks. In Kalisz, near Wroclaw, a Star of David on a gallows and the inscription "Kalisz without Jews" (Kalisz bez Żydów) were spray-painted on a Jewish cemetery and discovered on Feb. 20, according to naszemiasto.pl, a news site. The same slogan appeared on a large banner that was placed at one of the city’s main streets in 1939 to greet the advancing Nazi forces. Local police were informed of the incident, the website reported.

Separately, vandals smashed a Holocaust memorial outside the Ulyanovsk Jewish Community Center in Russia, near the city of Kazan, on February 18. The vandals smashed the memorial, a menorah inaugurated during the international 2011 festival of Jewish culture in Ulyanovsk, after they failed to enter the adjacent Jewish community center, according to a report by the Interfax news agency. Olga Bogatova, press officer for the Interior Ministry's Department for Ulyanovsk, told Interfax a criminal case “may be opened.” "This memorial is a national and religious symbol," Igor Devkerov, the leader of the Ulyanovsk Jewish community, said in a statement quoted by Interfax. Its desecration “hurts every Jew in our town,” he said.
© JTA News

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Czech Republic criticised for situation of Roma

21/2/2013- The Council of Europe (CoE) Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, released on 21 February his report on the situation of Roma in the Czech Republic, finding that it poses “some of the most serious and urgent human rights challenges that the Czech authorities are called on to deal with.” The report was based on Muižnieks’ visit to the country in November last year. In particular, the commissioner expressed his concern about the segregation of the Roma population, which was estimated to represent between 1.4 and 2.8% of the total population in the country (around 150 000-300 000). According to the findings of the report, Roma children remained segregated in the education system, while a significant number of them were still provided less demanding education in schools intended for children with “mild mental disabilities” or in Roma-only schools or classes.

In addition, Muižnieks is worried about the increasing territorial segregation of Roma in marginalised communities. More specifically, the human rights commissioner emphasised that “the local authorities’ autonomy in housing matters cannot justify the territorial segregation of Roma or their discrimination in the allocation of social housing.” Apart from segregation of Roma in the country, the CoE commissioner expressed concern also about the fact that Roma remained particularly vulnerable to racism and discrimination and find themselves in a situation of exclusion and marginalisation that affected practically all areas of their life. The results of a recent study showed that 32% of Roma respondents in the Czech Republic considered that they had been victims of ‘racist’ in-person crime.

According to Muižnieks’ report, blogs and social media in the country were used for the dissemination of anti-Roma materials as well as for mobilising support for the public events organised by these groups. In that respect, he urged the Czech authorities to strengthen their initiatives aimed at ensuring that the media do not promote anti-Gypsyism (including enforcement of penalties against those media who incite to discrimination, hatred and violence against the Roma). The report recommended that the authorities also encourage the professional bodies of the media to offer journalists specific training on questions relating to Roma and anti-Gypsyism.

In addition, the commissioner noted that that a pig farm built in the 1970s on the site of the former Lety (South Bohemia) concentration camp for Romani people has not as yet been removed by the authorities, reportedly because of the costs involved. In that respect, Muižnieks called upon the Czech Republic to remove the pig farm on the site where many Roma lost their lives during World War II.
© New Europe

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Roadshow in town for hate crime campaign (UK)

A campaign has been running this week to encourage people to report hate incidents.

20/2/2013- The campaign is particularly targeted at lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered people and has seen a range of awareness raising events held across Leicestershire. Harborough Community Safety Partnership will be holding a hate awareness event on the Square in Harborough town centre tomorrow (Thursday February 21) between 10am and 1.30pm. It will feature a visit from the Chill Out Bus. The ‘Stop and Tell’ campaign has been coordinated by Leicestershire County Council in partnership with Leicester LGBT Centre, the district and borough councils, Leicestershire Police and Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust because it is believed that hate incidents are underreported by the LGBT community. Hate incidents can be physical, written or verbal abuse and anyone can be a victim if they feel they have been targeted because of their age, disability, gender, race, religion, belief or sexual orientation.

Colin Golding, chair of the Community Safety Partnership, said: “Harborough District has identified four critical activities which underpin the provision of all services which we supply and support. “Two of these are working with communities to develop places in which to live and be happy, and supporting the vulnerable in our society at the heart of the communities where they live. “No-one should have to tolerate hate incidents, yet we know they occur within the district. “Reporting all such incidents can make a difference, but if we don’t know about it we can’t work towards changing it. We would like to make sure that people feel confident in reporting any such incidents in the knowledge that they will be taken seriously.”

To report a hate incident contact the Hate Incident Monitoring Project (HIMP) on 0116 305 8263 or visit www.leics.gov.uk/reporthate where online reporting forms are available to complete or download in a range of languages as well as easy read format. Alternatively visit your local council office or library, which are reporting centres for hate incidents. In an emergency, contact the police on 999.
© Harborough Mail

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Cumbria Police say disabled hate crime under reported (UK)

Only 17 hate crimes against disabled people were reported in Cumbria last year because victims did not realise an offence had been committed, police said.

20/2/2013- In 2012, 166 victims came forward to say they had been physically or verbally abused because of their race. Cumbria Police is so concerned by the low number of complaints, it is launching an awareness campaign. It said many people did not realise being spat at or slapped was a crime. Over the next eight weeks, police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) officers will be visiting disability groups to spread the message that abuse is a crime and should be reported. A police spokesman said: "Targeting someone based on their real or perceived vulnerability is inexcusable - but we can only take action when we know a crime has taken place. "We have had a number of conferences and meetings with disabled people over the past 18 months and they told us that it wasn't unusual for them to be shouted at, slapped or spat at as they went about their daily business. "The majority also said that they didn't report this to police because they hadn't realised this behaviour could be considered criminal."
© BBC News

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Human rights body urges ban on garda profiling (Ireland)

A key European human rights body has said the Government should consider banning any form of racial profiling by gardaí.

19/2/2013- The European Commission on Racism and Intolerance has published a report which also says Travellers still face significant challenges in accessing accommodation in Ireland. It says local authorities should face binding requirements to provide them with adequate accommodation. It is the fourth assessment by the Strasbourg-based commission, which is part of the Council of Europe. The ECRI is a 47-member organisation which promotes human rights and democracy. The report praises a range of measures via the Equality Tribunal and Equality Authority, which protect employees against discrimination in the work place, and moves to prevent the spread of intolerance and hatred via the media.

However, the report also raises a number of concerns. It says gardaí still engage in racial profiling, despite the fact, it contends, that the High Court declared as unconstitutional rules requiring non-nationals to show identity papers on demand. The report also criticises the closure of the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism five years ago, saying its expertise helped the authorities compile information about racist incidents. It also regrets that the National Action Plan Against Racism was not renewed when it expired in 2008. While the report praises the creation of multi-denominational primary schools it notes that new immigrants still find it hard to access the school system.

CEO of the Integration Centre Killian Forde said Ireland's education system needs to reflect the demographic. "Not only is 10-12% of school children from an immigrant background but a growing number of the native Irish population are not from a religious background". Mr Forde said the Centre has begun a campaign to call for a change to legislation that allows schools to legally turn children away on the basis of their religion. "This practice would be seen to be completely discriminatory were it not enshrined into Irish law." Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council Denis Charlton said the report was an important input into the debate on racism in Ireland. She said: "While the recommendations are wide-ranging in general they highlight complacency around racism, which is unacceptable and leaves people vulnerable".

Pavee Point welcomed the report’s focus on the health and accommodation needs of Traveller. Health Worker Missy Collins said she was “bitterly disappointed” that the Government has not published an action plan to address health issues among Travellers. Pavee Point Co-Director Martin Collins said: "We have recently witnessed a regression to times past with the burning of the house allocated for a Traveller family in Ballyshannon last week”. He said there is an urgent need for a National Action Plan Against Racism.
©

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Lyon apologise after attack on Tottenham fans by neo-Nazi thugs (France)

21/2/2013- Lyon have apologised for an apparent anti-Semitic attack which hospitalised three Tottenham fans in the French city last night. Around 50 masked thugs, some of whom were reportedly making fascist salutes, attacked a group of 150 Spurs fans who had gathered in the Smoking Dog pub in Lyon last night ahead of the Europa League game between the two sides this evening. Eyewitnesses say the group of attackers smashed doors and threw cast-iron chairs, wooden objects, and a lit flare into the pub, which is popular among ex-pats in the French city. The French club this afternoon issued a strongly-worded statement, condemning the "inadmissible" actions of the thugs who terrified the visiting fans and caused damage estimated to be worth £3,000.

"Olympique Lyonnais deplore the incidents overnight in the Saint-Jean district between the supporters of Tottenham and the 'pseudo' supporters of Lyon who absolutely do not represent the club," a Lyon statement read. "Olympique Lyonnais apologises to Tottenham and its supporters, for the inadmissible acts which degrade the image of the town of Lyon. "Olympique Lyonnais call on the French justice system to impose severe sanctions for these reprehensible acts." Lyon, who are looking to overcome a 2-1 first-leg deficit in the last 32 tie, urged fans to behave themselves at tonight's second leg, which kicks off at 6pm GMT. "Olympique Lyonnais will welcome Tottenham supporters this evening at (Stade de) Gerland and calls for all the supporters, those from Lyon and the English fans, to support their team with respect and fair play," the statement continued.

Tottenham confirmed this morning that three fans sustained "minor injuries" in the attack, and that arrests had been made. It is the second time that Tottenham fans have been targeted by an apparent anti-Semitic attack in the last three months. In November, fans of the club, which has a traditionally strong Jewish following, were ambushed inside a pub in Rome on the eve of their game against Lazio. Eyewitnesses inside the Smoking Dog said the thugs attacked the bar at 10.18pm on Wednesday night and then returned shortly after to launch another assault on the pub, which had its front five doors smashed. Far-right thugs were blamed for the knife attack on Tottenham's supporters in Rome and eyewitnesses Liam Kirwan from Harrow claimed the attack could have had an anti-Semitic motive. "It was neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic," he said. "I have never seen anything like that before.

"This was premeditated. Three people walked past earlier in the night and saw that the pub was full of Tottenham fans. Then a group of 50 came back to attack, and then 25 did shortly after. "It's a pretty scary thing when you're confronted by people doing Nazi salutes." Kirwan, 37, moved to Lyon seven years to open an Irish pub near to the Smoking Dog. He thinks it is lucky that no-one died in the attack. He added: "Last night a metal object weighing about 20 kilograms came through the window and smashed an entire metal bar stool to pieces. "If that had hit someone on the head they would have been killed stone dead. "One Tottenham fan was hit with a flying object, another was trampled on, and a third was dragged out and attacked by the skinheads before we managed to pull him back in to safety. "The fear was clear to see on everyone's faces afterwards. There were elderly couples sat on the floor shocked. There was blood on the walls."

The knife attack on Spurs fan Ashley Mills in Rome drew strong condemnation from across the world of football and beyond. There are now fears that fans of the London club will be targeted wherever they go in Europe, which could put them off travelling to games in the future. "A lot of fans were here that were in Rome too," Kirwan said. "They have made it clear that they will not be travelling to any more Tottenham away games in Europe again, ever. "I will think twice about travelling with Spurs to European games. "If this doesn't stop now it's only going to escalate. The fans in England will have seen what's happened through the media and they might think it's not going to get any better." Retford-born Dave Eales, landlord of the Smoking Dog, was furious that police did not take extra action to prevent such an incident occurring. He said last night: "The most disappointing thing is that I spoke to the police a couple of days ago about the potential for trouble because of what people associate Tottenham being. "There will be a big presence on the match day, but (last night) it didn't happen."
© ITV

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Far-right French politician accused of assaulting gay activists

Richard Jacob is accused of pushing three gay protestors down a flight of stairs at a marriage equality rally 

19/2/2013- Councilor Richard Jacob, a member of far-right political party National Front, is accused of assaulting three gay activists. A far-right French politician is being accused of physically attacking three gay rights activists at a marriage equality rally. Councilor Richard Jacob, an elected member of Marine Le-Pen’s anti-gay party, allegedly shouted abuse at the three advocates before pushing them down the steps of Auxerre’s Town Hall. As reported by The Local, one of the victims was taken to hospital with a face wound, another injured his ankle while a third said he kicked in the face. Witnesses reported Jacob started the fight after becoming angered by the presence of the gay activists outside the parliament building. The three victims have filed complaints with police accusing Jacob of assault and using homophobic language.

Jacob denies the allegations and told regional newspaper the Yonne Republican he was ‘insulted’ and ‘pushed by the demonstrators, who had blocked access to the Town Hall’. ‘So I defended myself,’ he said. Police will be interviewing Jacob and the three activists to determine who is at fault later this week. The incident comes after France’s National Assembly approved legalizing same-sex marriage and adoptions for gay couples. The ‘Marriage for All’ bill has now been adopted 329 votes to 229, with 10 ministers abstaining. It will now go to France’s Senate before it can be signed into law by President Francois Hollande.
© Gay Star News

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Headlines 15 February, 2013

Greece arrests three neo-Nazis for attacks, arms posession

15/2/2013- Greek police have arrested two neo-Nazi sympathisers for illegal arms possession and a third person suspected of involvement in an attack that left three Pakistani migrants hospitalised, a police source said Friday. The arrests come as Greece is increasingly coming under pressure by human rights groups and its European neighbours to fight its growing neo-Nazi tendencies and widespread xenophobic violence. In a public appeal to witnesses, police on Friday released the names and photographs of two of the men -- arrested in an Athens suburb earlier this month after officers found a gun, switchblade knives and bats stashed in their car.

The men, aged 19 and 27, are suspected of having taken part in recent anti-migrant raids linked to the violent Greek neo-Nazi group, Golden Dawn, which entered parliament in June after amassing seven percent of the votes. At least two people have been killed and about ten injured in the xenophobic crack-downs. Police arrested the third man, in his 30s and married to a Golden Dawn member, on the popular resort island of Crete. He is suspected of having taken part in Thursday's violent attack on three Pakistanis who were hospitalised after being severely stabbed and beaten. Police are still searching for nine other suspects linked to that attack.
© AFP

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Dublin refugee reception centre targeted (Ireland)

Since the start of the year, there have been at least four suspected racially motivated attacks on residents at the Balseskin reception centre for asylum seekers in the Finglas area of Dublin.

14/2/2013- The latest incidents occurred on 8-9 February. The Irish Refugee Council (IRC) has expressed concern about the institutional response to these attacks, stressing that a number of residents have been struck with heavy objects from speeding cars, and in one incident, an individual was hit on the back of the head and was hospitalised. The Balsekin reception centre, which, amongst others, accommodates all new asylum claimants prior to dispersal to other parts of Ireland, is located close to the airport on a rural part of the M50 ring road motorway, with very limited public transport and no safe footpaths. The nearest village of Finglas is 4 kilometres away, and the area has long struggled with unemployment and crime, in particular drug-related gang crime.

In a press statement, Sue Conlan, Chief Executive of the IRC said: ‘We are concerned about the vulnerability of a very visible section of the community and the apparent lack of communication to residents from centre management, the Reception and Integration Agency and local Gardaí. Residents are not being told if the Gardaí are taking active steps to protect them or apprehend those responsible. Some are afraid to leave the grounds of the centre. Communication is vital in these circumstances to allay fears and to show that the authorities are taking them seriously.’

‘These incidents highlight the unsuitability of the large scale, long term accommodation, known as Direct Provision, used for asylum seekers in Ireland. The way in which Direct Provision has been implemented excludes asylum seekers from the local community and can contribute to resentment. Many people still believe that asylum seekers get a good deal in Direct Provision but the reality is crowded accommodation, no opportunity to work, cook or provide for your family and years of idleness and frustration.’[1

[1] Direct Provision and Dispersal is the policy for accommodating asylum seekers in Ireland. It began in 2000 and is operated by the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA), a division of the Department of Justice. Under the system, asylum seekers are not permitted to work or claim social welfare. They are accommodated in centres run by private companies, contracted by RIA. Centres include former hostels and hotels, a caravan park, a former convent and a small number of purpose-built centres. Families, including parents and teenage children, are allocated one room in which to live. Single parents share with other single parents and their children and individuals share with other individuals. Residents receive three meals a day but have no access to cooking or food storage facilities in order to provide for themselves or their children. A weekly allowance of €19.10 per adult and €9.60 per child is received.
© Institute of Race Relations

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Man wanted in connection with alleged 'hate' crime at Wirral shop (UK)

14/2/2013- Detectives have released CCTV images of a man they would like to speak to in connection with an alleged incident of hate crime in Birkenhead. Police were called to the News and Booze convience store on Whetstone Lane on New Year's Day following reports of the incident. They say that at around 4pm a man entered the shop stole two cans of lager and when confronted by the shop assistant, verbally abused him and threatened him with violence. Some of the abuse shouted at the shop assistant was racist. Although uninjured the shop assistant was left shaken following the incident.

Officers from Sigma, the Force's dedicated hate crime investigation unit, are appealing to anyone with any information about the incident to come forward. DC Tony Jones said: "Incidents of this kind, whereby victims are subjected to racial abuse, be it physically or verbally, will not be tolerated. "We are investigating a number of lines of enquiry and are keen to speak to anyone with any information that could help our enquiries. "In particular, we would like to speak to the man pictured in the CCTV, or anyone who recognises him, as he may have information that could assist with the investigation."
© The Wirral Globe

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The IRR publishes a report today on how racial violence is shaping the UK.

14/2/2013- Racial violence: facing reality warns that attacks on BME individuals are actually spreading to new areas of the country, as under the impact of globalisation and austerity measures, populations swiftly change; and points to the potential dangers in ‘decanting’ those affected by the benefits cap to towns and cities which have little history of ‘diversity’. Attacks are often taking place in communities where BME families or workers are isolated, where there are few support services and such experiences often go unrecorded and become part of a repeat pattern. The tendency of statutory agencies to view racial violence through a prism of a generalised ‘hate crime’ means that the conditions that give rise to racism are not being understood and addressed and community safety strategies are not being created: the emphasis having moved to simply criminalising individual perpetrators.

Said report author Jon Burnett, ‘The myth is that post-Stephen Lawrence, racial violence has been magically dealt with. A few mechanical changes cannot deal with what is a huge trend tied to national political and economic forces. The legislation is allowing the criminal justice system to target a few perpetrators – and often they are not the most serious offenders, but just the easiest to successfully convict. This is putting the cart before the horse. Violence does not, by and large, spring ready-made from people’s evil thoughts, but from the larger conditions – and these are not being addressed. There is an urgent need for government – nationally and locally – to consider the implications of austerity measures, industrial and services closures, the enforced moving of populations and cuts in welfare to social issues such as racial violence. In the twenty years since Stephen Lawrence’s killing, we have seen over one hundred deaths from racial violence in the UK. That is a terrible indictment.’
© Institute of Race Relations

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Leicester Hate Crime Project launches groundbreaking survey (UK)

You can listen to a podcast interview with Stevie Hardy here
or watch a video interview with Dr Neil Chakraborti here

13/2/2013- The most wide-ranging survey of hate crime victims ever to be undertaken is being launched this month in Leicester by a specialist research team based at the Department of Criminology, University of Leicester. The survey is part of the Leicester Hate Crime Project – a two year study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, designed to examine the nature and impact of hate crime and victims’ expectations of the criminal justice system and other local support agencies.

The survey is being administered to the widest range of victim groups ever covered by a single hate crime study. This includes people who have been victimised specifically because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or their gender identity, as well as those who belong to the kinds of more marginalised groups which are often overlooked within hate crime research and policy – such as Gypsies and Travellers, asylum seekers, refugees, the homeless and those belonging to alternative subcultures, to name just several examples. Dr Neil Chakraborti, the project’s Principal Investigator, said: ‘This survey will help us to uncover a range of victim experiences never previously documented. We want to capture the experiences of anyone, from any background, who feels that they have been victimised specifically because of who they are, and since the start of the project we have been engaging with all sections of Leicester’s diverse population to access potential respondents. As well as identifying violent acts of hate crime, we want the survey to help us understand the everyday forms of harassment, intimidation and bullying that often go unpublicised and unreported despite the damaging long-term consequences for victims, their families and broader communities’.

The Leicester Hate Crime Project is just a few months old but is already uncovering some fascinating new aspects of hate crime victimisation through its other major research strand, face-to-face interviews. Through this method the team has heard from Leicester’s more ‘hidden’ communities whose experience of hate crime has not been recorded before. The questionnaire survey is a crucial way of hearing more of these ‘lost voices’, and further interviews and focus groups will be held in the coming months to supplement the survey findings. Mr Jon Garland, Co-Investigator, said: ‘The strength of the questionnaire is that it allows victims to describe their experience of hate crime, and of the service they received when they reported it to the police and other agencies. It has been specifically designed to be flexible enough so that victims from any background will be able to use it easily. Those whose first language is not English will also be able to fill it in as it has been translated into a variety of languages spoken by communities within Leicester. Help with completing the survey is also available for those who need it’.
© In Loughborough

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Chipping Norton mosque plans scrapped over alleged threat (UK)

Ideas are being sought for a new mosque venue in an Oxfordshire town after plans to use a vacant shop were scrapped following an alleged threat.

13/2/2013- A unit in Hitchmans Mews, Chipping Norton was approved by West Oxfordshire District Council for use as a mosque on 4 February. Its landlord Georg Wissinger said he had since received a threat that it would be "burnt down". Town councillor Tahirul Hasan said a new venue was now being sought. Mr Wissinger said: "I received a call saying if I went ahead with it, it would get very hot - I thought that meant it would be burnt down so I am no longer offering the shop." Mr Hasan said he was "shocked" by news of the threat and added the Muslim community was "very disappointed". Objections were received over transport and fire safety over the shop venue plan and Chipping Norton Town Council had opposed the proposal. Mr Wissinger has not reported the threat to the police.
© BBC News

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Scottish hate crime figures hit seven-year high

12/2/2013- The number of people convicted of religious hate crime continues to rise in Scotland, new figures show. There were 518 charges proved with a religious aggravator in 2011-12, the highest level in at least seven years, according to the Scottish Parliament. The vast majority of cases were in the west of Scotland, where 414 charges were proven. However, the north and east also recorded record highs. It follows figures showing the number of people charged with religious hate crime rose to 876 in 2011-12, up 26 per cent from 693 the previous year. Nil by Mouth, an anti-sectarian charity, believes the increase could be down to a rise in reporting, rather crime itself going up.

David Scott, campaign director, said: “I think it’s an increase in reporting. It’s been a tense 12 to 18 months in terms of the football and we’ve seen a real flare up in social media.” He added: “The Crown Office is starting to give the matter a real focus. “I’ve always thought it was under-reported, so what we are seeing now is a more realistic figure.” He is offering to provide free rehabilitation work for people who commit sectarian offences and are given community sentences. “Quite a lot don’t go to prison and so they don’t get that,” he said. “A lot of people are not aware of what the words they use actually mean. “I will be looking to see if we can get people around a table and work out a way of providing a free and effective rehabilitation programme for sectarian offenders.”
© The Scotsman

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Ten-year-old leukaemia sufferer was 'headbutted by racist driver' (UK)

A ten-year-old leukaemia patient was knocked unconscious when a man headbutted him as he walked home with friends, Glasgow Sheriff Court heard on Monday.

11/2/2013- The child, who was feeling ill after chemotherapy, had stopped in the street as he felt unwell and spat out his chewing gum only for a passing driver to stop and attack him the court heard. The boy, who is now 12 and cannot be named for legal reasons, said he was going home from Springburn Leisure Centre in Glasgow when he was attacked. The schoolboy from Somalia said he was chased but stopped running and turned round and that is all he can remember before being knocked unconscious. His friends told him he was headbutted. He said his family have since moved to London because he was having nightmares and scared to go outside.

The boy was giving evidence at Glasgow Sheriff Court at the trial of 26-year-old John Cassidy, who is accused of assaulting the boy on October 16, 2011 at Fountainwell Road, to his severe injury, permanent disfigurement and the danger of his life. Cassidy, from Cardonald, Glasgow, denies the charge. Giving evidence behind a screen, the boy told the jury he was diagnosed with leukemia in 2009 and was still receiving chemotherapy and medication in 2011. He told procurator fiscal depute Natalie Henderson he was walking home with his friends after swimming and was feeling unwell. He said: "I was drinking Dr Pepper and taking gum because I was feeling sick. I was taking steroids and stuff."

The court heard he stopped and crouched down, put a bottle of juice on the ground and spat chewing gum on to the road. His friends then shouted at him to run. Miss Henderson asked: "Why did your friends say to run?" The witness replied: "They saw behind me someone running." The jury heard the boy started running and said he heard "swearing and racist things" being shouted at him. He said he stopped and turned towards the man who was running at him and that is all he remembers. He said: "That's all I saw, him run at me." He added: "My friends told me he headbutted me."

The court was told since the incident the boy has been scared to go outside in case he is attacked again and he has not been to that leisure centre since. Miss Henderson asked why his family moved to London and he told her: "Because of the accident. I was having nightmares and scared to go outside." The boy's 14-year-old friend gave evidence that when they were walking home and the boy spat out his chewing gum it hit a passing car. He told the court: "The car stopped and the person came out and started chasing us, then the five of us got split up, then the person caught up with [the boy] and attacked him by headbutting him." Miss Henderson put to the 14-year-old that the man "accidentally ran into" his friend. He said: "I wouldn't say it was an accident because he seemed angry."

The trial before sheriff Norman Ritchie QC continues.
© STV

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Siberia Police Arrest Neo-Nazi Leader (Russia)

Extremist Led 'People's Militia' in Russia's Frozen Hinterland 
source: JTA 

11/2/2013- Prosecutors in Siberia reportedly have indicted a Russian citizen of inciting to violence against Jews and quoting texts by Adolf Hitler. The Russian news agency Interfax reported on Monday that the 65-year-old man from Minusinsk in the Krasnoyarsk region was the founder of an anti-Semitic, neo-Nazi cell called “Minin and Pozharski People’s Militia.” Since 2011, the man, who was not identified in the report, held regular meetings of his organization at various apartments around town, Interfax reported. The details of the indictment were posted on the official website of the regional prosecutor’s office. The man was indicted for making appeals for public disorder; calling for violence against Jews and quoting passages from Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf manuscript, which is officially banned in Russia, according to the Interfax report.

The defendant faces charges of making appeals for public disorder and inciting ethnic hatred, punishable by up to two years in prison for each charge. In a separate incident, a leaflet calling for the Jews of the Siberian city of Abakan to report to a local train station for deportation was discovered on the front door of the city’s Jewish community center last month, according to a report by AEH, the Russian Agency for Jewish News. “Those who fail to report for deportation will be shot,” the leaflet reportedly read.
© The Forward

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The truth about Romania's gypsies: Not coming over here, not stealing our jobs (UK)

Right-wing politicians and media are stoking fears that Romanian Gypsies plan to flock to Britain. But the reality is very different, the residents of the country's worst slums tell Jerome Taylor  

11/2/2013- A freezing wind sweeps in across the Romanian countryside. The sweet stench of garbage catches at the back of the throat, and feral dogs chase one another over the heaps of filth. This rubbish dump, for Claudia Greta and her family, is home, her house a ramshackle single-storey shack. Claudia, 40, is one of more than 1,500 Roma Gypsies who live in a sprawling, fetid encampment on a landfill site outside Romania's second-largest city Cluj-Napoca. The residents of Pata Rat – half of them are children – have been forcibly moved there over the past 15 years. Claudia opens the shack door to a room little bigger than a caravan and sighs: "Look where we live. We live on top of garbage." Many Romanians have been perplexed by the British Government's determination to dissuade them from coming to the UK. Next year, the quotas which let EU countries limit the number of Bulgarian and Romanian migrants crossing their borders will be lifted – allowing 29 million people free travel and working rights across Europe. But Britain wants to deter them from crossing the Channel.

Suspicions have been raised in Bucharest and Sofia that what the UK Government really fears – but dares not say publicly – is the mass migration of Roma, Europe's most marginalised and maligned minority. That, in turn, has created further animosity towards the Roma, with other Romanians and Bulgarians blaming those communities for tarnishing their country's image. For the garbage-dump Roma people of Pata Rat, there's little reason to feel loyalty to their homeland. Many have been forcibly moved there by the local authorities. In the most recent eviction, two years ago, nearly 400 Roma were given two days' notice to move out of houses where families had been living without conflict for generations. The European Roma Rights Centre is fighting a court battle to have their evictions quashed. "For 20 years we lived in real homes in the centre of town," says Claudia. "We paid rent, we paid electricity, we didn't steal anything. We had jobs and we found work. Our kids went to school, they went to internet cafés or down to the library. Now look where we live. We live on top of garbage. Where we are now, we can't do anything."

Claudia is adamant that no matter how badly treated her family is, she will stay in Romania. "If we are not even accepted in our own country, what is the chance somewhere else will accept us?" she asks. "My children are here, my mother is here. This is where I was born. All we want is to be able to live and work. We want to stay in Romania." It is a testament to how strongly she feels that, despite the discrimination, Romania is still her homeland. But others are thinking about leaving. Her sister Elena, who lives up the road in a similar-sized room that sleeps eight of her family, is willing to look outside Romania's borders. "If I could provide a better life and condition for my children, I would think about getting away," she admits. "If there was a way to escape this discrimination, then of course I would go. But no one wants to leave." She adds: "I have thought about political asylum in the UK. Some people from Spain, Brazil and Great Britain promised to help after the eviction. But no one did anything."

The situation in this landfill slum is just one example of the multiple persecutions Roma face across much of Eastern, Central and Southern Europe. And it is a form of oppression that is beginning to have a direct impact in Britain. Over the past four years, increasing numbers of Roma have appeared in Western European cities, from Berlin to Paris, Stockholm and London. Romania and Bulgaria have the largest Roma populations. No one knows how many of the estimated 90,000 Romanians in Britain are Roma, but it is a fraction of the one million Gypsies who live in France and Germany. Yet this trickle towards Britain could become a torrent come 2014, when the two nations are given full movement rights. The small but steady increase of Roma arrivals in Western Europe has already led to a plethora of scare stories from populist media which portray them as endemically criminal communities thriving on begging networks and illegal settlements. Last year, a Swiss magazine ran a cover story about Roma arrivals under the headline: "They come. They Steal. They go." The cover featured a picture of a young Roma boy holding a gun. It later turned out to be a toy.

While some Roma are involved in crime (or, more often than not, forcibly trafficked into crime networks by organised syndicates, or pushed there by poverty), the reports rarely stop to ask why so many people are on the move. The simple answer is that Europe's Roma are trying to escape a new wave of oppression that has swept across Eastern, Central and Southern Europe. Unlike those who migrate for economic reasons, many Roma say they are seizing the opportunity to find a home without harassment. Those who fight for Roma rights make the argument that those who head to the West are as much political refugees as they are economic ones. Persecution of Roma, who trace their lineage back to northern India but have lived in Europe for more than 1,500 years, is well documented. Alongside Jews, gays and the disabled, they were targeted by the Nazis for extermination. But while European views on Judaism, homosexuality and disability have come on in leaps and bounds in the past six decades, the attitude towards the Roma still drips with prejudice.

Nowhere is this more visible than in those nations that are supposedly traditional Roma homelands, where for centuries they were historically viewed as slaves for the region's landed aristocracies. All across Central and Eastern Europe today, discrimination against Gypsy communities is virulent and rising. The global economic crash hit the region hard and the Roma are an easy target. Far-right groups are resurgent in Hungary, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic, with attacks on Roma villagers now commonplace. Last summer an off-duty policeman in Slovakia went on the rampage, killing three people from a Gypsy community. In Romania the far right has been kept in check, but not for altruistic reasons. "There isn't really much need for extreme-right groups because you find racism and stereotyping in all the mainstream parties," explains Marian Mandache, head of Romani Criss, a Bucharest-based group that campaigns for Roma rights. "Roma face hardship, exclusion and discrimination in almost all fields of public life."

Last month, a small far-right group in western Romania proposed paying €300 (£254) to any Roma woman who came forward to be sterilised. Unusually, prosecutors opened a case against the group under the country's little-used hate crime laws. But earlier this week, the idea of forced sterilisations was lent a veneer of mainstream acceptability when the head of the National Liberal Party's youth wing, Rares Buglea, voiced his support for the idea on Facebook. In Baia Mare, a mining town in Romania's impoverished north, the mayor has been building walls around Roma areas – to the delight of the other residents.

Back in the rubbish-dump of Pata Rat, Romeo Greta Petra says he has plans to leave the squalor and discrimination behind him. Standing next to a single bathroom which serves 40 people, he declares that his family has simply had enough. "Just look at the filth in which they threw us," he says, sucking deeply on a rolled-up cigarette. "Come summer, we're going to leave. Everyone here just thinks we're garbage. If I could have the possibility, I would go with my whole family." Pressed for further details about where he might head, he becomes more circumspect. But he explains that if his whole family can't leave, then he will pin his hopes on his eldest son, who is on the verge of finishing high school. "It's difficult to get a job at the best of times, but for Roma it is even harder," he says. "Every parent just wants what is best for their children. That's normal. I want him to go abroad, at least until he is 30. He can go abroad and save some money. Then he can come back to build a house."

In Romania's sprawling capital, the situation for Roma is equally grim. Bucharest has never been one of Europe's prettiest cities and it is still renowned for swathes of dilapidated Soviet-style apartment blocks. Roma tend to be concentrated in the worst suburbs, such as Ferentari and Plumbuita, where sewerage and electricity are virtually non-existent. Most families tap illegally into the local energy supply, while in Plumbuita, two miles from Bucharest's commercial centre, asphalt highways give way to muddy tracks fringed by shacks with corrugated-iron roofs. Local police accuse Roma groups of being behind much of the crime in Bucharest, a city that still has a significantly lower criminality rate than most Western European capitals. Activists say that while some Roma are pushed towards opportunistic crimes because of the poverty they live in, the majority try to get on with their lives. But the prejudices leave them acutely vulnerable to abuse from the authorities.

Over the past 10 years, Romani Criss has documented 50 instances in which Roma people have been killed or attacked in police-related incidents. But despite the filing of multiple criminal complaints, no police officer has yet been convicted of killing a Roma. In the past eight months alone, there have been three instances where Roma have been shot and killed by police. Daniel Radu, a 22-year-old father of one, was killed after a police chase last June. His family have never spoken to the media before. But standing around a single electric heater in their tumbledown cottage in Tei, north Bucharest, they tell The Independent what happened. According to his mother, Garofitsa, Daniel and a friend had been stealing materials from an abandoned building last June to construct a new roof on the family home. While driving back through town on a moped, they encountered a police car and made a break for it. Both Daniel and his friend jumped from a bridge into a lake that runs behind Tei. While the two men were stranded in the lake, police fired three shots at them. The third hit Daniel above the eye, killing him instantly. "They could have waited for him to get out of the lake but instead they shot him," his mother explains. "He was no danger to anyone. If he was guilty of a crime, they should have put him in prison, not killed him."

The police have yet to comment publicly on the shooting and say they will not do so until the results of an ongoing investigation are revealed. Romani Criss is helping the family pay for legal representation."We are worried we won't get justice," says Daniel's older brother, Florea. "But that is all we want, justice." All across the neighbourhood of Tei, locals have stories of police brutality. This week Romani Criss researchers logged an allegation that a man was hospitalised after a beating in a police station. Ionut Covataru, 17, lifts his shirt to reveal a vivid scar from an operation to drain blood from his lungs. His family have filed a complaint and are waiting to hear from prosecutors. Analysts believe that the wider EU needs to take a much more active role in persuading the latest members of its expanding community to integrate Roma – and make them feel like there is something to stay for. If they don't, then Roma will inevitably seize the opportunity to head west.

Roma: the history of a persecuted people
Roma originate from India and by the 8th century had begun their long trek to Europe, via Mesopotamia and the near-east. They were probably living in Greece by 1200. They speak a language closely related to Sanskrit. By the early 16th century they had reached most parts of Europe, including England and Scotland. Many were initially welcomed for their skills as craftsmen or as Christian pilgrims or penitents but from about 1500 attitudes changed. Persecution became commonplace across Europe. In Saxony, "gypsy hunts" were treated as public entertainment. In Prussia in 1725 King Friedrich Wilhelm I gave permission for all adult gypsies to be hanged without trial. Up to 500,000 Roma are believed to have been murdered during the Holocaust in Nazi concentration camps, pictured. From the 1970s until 1990 there was a programme of enforced sterilisation of Roma women by doctors in Czechoslovakia.

An estimated 400,000 live in ghettoes in Bulgaria. In 2009 in Ostrovany, Slovakia, a two-metre wall was erected with public money to cordon off the Roma from the rest of the town. Similar measures were adopted in Michalovce, Lomnika, Trebišov and Prešov. An estimated 7 million to 8.5 million Roma live in Europe, with 90,000 to 120,000 estimated to be in the UK.
© The Independent

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Headlines 8 February, 2013

Jewish man mobbed in Marseille for wearing Jewish symbol (France)

6/2/2013- A 20-year-old Jewish man wearing a Star of David pendant was mugged and robbed twice outside Marseille’s main train station. Two men on a scooter approached the victim on Monday outside Saint-Charles, a busy train station and shopping mall, and one tore the golden chain from his neck, the La Provence daily reported. They called him a “dirty Jew” before fleeing on the scooter, with one of the alleged assailants carrying the pendant. A group of young men nearby then approached and hurled anti-Semitic insults at the victim before stealing an MP3 player and 100 euros, according to Metro, another daily paper. They also reportedly hit the victim.

Metro reported that police were treating the case not only as a robbery but mainly as an anti-Semitic attack. The president of the Marseille metropolitan area, Eugene Caselli, condemned the incident, which he termed anti-Semitic. “I want to reassure the family of the victim and the victim of my support and extend my sympathies,” Caselli said in a statement. “I want to express my profound indignation and rage at this unacceptable act of racist violence.” Though France has seen a 45 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the eight months since last March, when an Islamist fanatic killed four Jews in Toulouse, Marseille has seen relatively few such attacks.
© JTA News

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Knife-wielding woman arrested outside Toulouse Jewish school (France)

6/2/2013- A knife-wielding woman was arrested after threatening a student of the Toulouse Jewish school where an Islamist radical murdered four people nearly a year ago. The 51-year-old woman was arrested Tuesday outside the Ohr Hatorah school (formerly Ozar Hatorah) after she brandished the knife in a threatening manner in front of a 16-year-old boy exiting the institution, according to Le Depeche, a French news site. The teen returned to the school and told authorities about the women, who was arrested shortly thereafter. According to Direct Matin, a news website and daily newspaper, the woman shouted anti-Semitic slogans and “appeared mentally unstable.”

On March 19, 2012, Mohammed Merah, a 23-year-old jihadist fanatic, gunned down Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, 30, along with his two young sons, Aryeh and Gavriel. He also killed Miriam Monsonego, the 8-year-old daughter of Yaacov Monsonego, the school's director. erah was killed two days later by French police while trying to escape a police raid on his home. Last week, French police arrested two of his acquaintances on suspicion that they were involved in the school shooting and Merah’s earlier slaying of three French soldiers, but they were released a few days later.
© JTA News

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French mosques vandalised with anti-Islam graffiti

3/2/2013- Vandals have targeted a French mosque in a graffiti attack, tagging the worship centre with swastikas and anti-Islam slogans, officials said Sunday. The attack was discovered by worshippers arriving for morning prayer at the mosque in Ozoir-La-Ferriere, a small town 35 kilometres (20 miles) east of Paris. Photographs of the mosque show at least two swastikas painted on the facade, as well as an explicit anti-Islam slogan and "Long Live Gaul," the ancient Roman-era name for France. Police were investigating the incident.

In the eastern city of Besancon, two mosques were also vandalised, where the Star of David -- commonly used by the Nazis to identify Jews -- had been painted on the walls. Sources close to the enquiry however cautioned the vandalism was not necessarily triggered by anti-Islam sentiment, and said investigators were looking at several leads including whether it was carried out by an unhappy worshipper. Interior Minister Manuel Valls condemned the attacks "with the utmost severity" and called them "foul and hateful." According to statistics from an Islamic monitoring organisation, 201 anti-Islam attacks were recorded in France last year, up 28 percent on 2011.
© AFP

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UK anti-Semitism up again in 2012

7/2/2013- Anti-Jewish incidents in the United Kingdom rose slightly last year, making 2012 the third worst year on record. The Community Security Trust, which handles security-related matters for the British Jewish community, said in its latest report that there 640 attacks against Jews had been reported in 2012, up from 608 in 2011 and representing an increase of five per cent. There had been 60 violent assaults against Jews in 2012, with two of them being qualified as "extreme violence". One of these was an attack on a Jewish pupil in Northern Ireland who was kicked unconscious following a lesson about the Holocaust.

The CST said around 100 incidents had been reported as part of a new program run together with the Metropolitan Police in London. The more efficient reporting system led to a 55 per cent increase in incidents recorded in the capital. However, a 34 per cent reduction was recorded in Manchester, where the CST and police have been running the exchange program since 2011. The majority of incidents were registered in the category 'abusive behavior'. This includes verbal attacks, anti-Semitic graffiti and hate mail. Social media sites, the CST said, were the fastest-growing source of anti-Semitism. The organization recorded 80 such incidents last year, compared to 12 in 2011.

Some attacks did not involve Jews at all. An argument over the opening of a window in a train carriage in northern England last June included one passenger suspecting another of being Jewish and shouting: "You Jews need to be got rid of. Why don't you go back to Israel? Go back to Israel where you belong."

Read the full CST Anti-Semitic Incidents Report 2012 here.
© World Jewish Congress

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Essex Police Facebook page investigation after racist comments published (UK)

Essex Police is reviewing procedures after its own Facebook page was found carrying a string of racist comments.

4/2/2013- The constabulary placed an appeal about smashed windows at Southend Mosque on its Facebook page. But within hours more than 20 racist comments had been published and left for days without being removed. A spokeswoman for Essex Police said it was investigating the matter, including whether the force, in running the page, had breached the law. She said the comments were "completely unacceptable" and said the police had not encountered such problems before. The details of those who posted racist comments had been passed to officers for further investigation, she said.

'Get their act together'
Mohammad Qidwai, one of the founding trustees at the mosque, read through the comments when he was shown them by BBC News. "The more serious ones should be taken up by the police and pursued," he said, describing those responsible as "ignorant people" with "nothing better to do". The mosque - one of three in Southend - has been repeatedly damaged by vandals over the years, said Mr Qidwai. In response to damage, the mosque has had to install security measures such as a boundary wall and grills over the windows. "We have to take it (the vandalism) as a part of modern day life," he said. "It is not just us, churches have also been vandalised. "But there are many, many decent honest people who appreciate the contribution of the new Britons over the past 60 years."

Jabeer Butt, of the the Race Equality Foundation, said: "This is something that could have been fairly simply addressed. People need to get their act together." He says the police should have been moderating comments before allowing them to be published. The Equality and Human Rights Commission declined to comment saying it was "a matter for the police".
© BBC News

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