Headlines 29 March, 2013
Letter sent to French chief rabbi threatens Jewish journalists
29/3/2013- The chief rabbi of France received a letter from an obscure organization warning of “brutal actions” against French Jewish journalists. “Before we take brutal measures, the only ones at our disposal, we approach you because those corrupt journalists are Jewish,” read the letter sent recently to Rabbi Gilles Bernheim in Paris. It was signed by a hitherto unknown organization called IFO, a French acronym for Interaction of Forces of Order, the Metro daily reported Thursday. The letter said the journalists were acting as communist agents and attempting to “curb liberty in France.” Those behind IFO also sent a death threat this week to Jean-Michel Gentil, the judge who ordered a criminal investigation of the actions of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Sarkozy is accused of illicitly obtaining funds from the billionaire Liliane Bettencourt. Separately, unidentified individuals carved five swastikas on Tuesday onto the wooden doors of a synagogue in Haguenau, in eastern France. A representative of the city’s Jewish community reported the incident to police.
© JTA News
Gay Activist Attacked By Russian Neo-Nazi As City Frustrates Pride Rally
29/3/2013- Even as the city council was frustrating his efforts to hold a Pride rally, a gay activist in the city of Syktyvkar, Russia, was brutally assaulted by a neo-Nazi activist. Artem Kalinin, who was trying to get clearance to hold a Pride parade in downtown Syktyvkar on Sunday, was being interviewed by a TV station when he was assaulted by Alex Kolegov, leader of a local neo-Nazi group. Gay Star News reports Kalinin reported the assault to police, but that Kolegov was not arrested. Brusied but not beaten, Kalinin said the rally will go on as planned. Bowing to complaints from conservatives and religious groups, Mayor Ivan Pozdeyev denied Kalinin’s request to hold the demonstration in the center of the city—instead allowing it in a less central spot. Pozdeyev has a plan to prevent future conflict: he’s asked lawmakers to draft new legislation banning future Pride rallies.
Sadly, this isn’t Kalinin’s brush with homophobic violence. In March 2011, he was attacked during the city’s Week Against Homophobia:
I felt a sudden punch on my head, from which I began to lose coordination. Blood gushed out of my head, leaking on my whole neck and the collar of the jacket. We began to fight, he began to hit an unknown object all over my body as I realized later, it was a stick with an iron knob. As always, the neighbors did not hear anything and did not see the floor of my porch was covered with splashes of blood. During the scuffle I was able to escape… Perhaps because of the ice-covered ground, I fell. The assailant chased me from the door of my house, made a punch in my face and head area, the stick in the hands of the assailant at the moment I have not noticed. I decided to reason the attacker and turned to him with the words: “Come on, calm down …” In response, I heard a familiar: “You’re a fag, I always wanted to kill you! If you want, I’ll kill you, I don’t care… “.
Also from his words, I realized that he had “a friend in police, who offered us to help trace you down, they won’t charge me for this”. Of course, I realized that the attacker knows nothing about criminal charges, feeling his full impunity. I was lying on the cold snow, the guy went methodically to offend me by applying successive kicks to the body. At this point, a couple of young people were walking on the sidewalk who have done nothing to call for help or to have at least some resistance to the attacker. After some time, the police crew arrived which I called earlier. Most of all I was struck by the reaction of these employees have taken the side of my abuser. The assailant went on to explain that I was “fag, there’s no need for him to get acquainted with the guys” and then asked the law enforcement officials: “Fags are not jailed nowadays?”
So the next time you think you’re too hung over to go to Pride, remember some people are risking their safety just to affirm their very existence.
Slovakia: Punishment for shooter of three Romani victims called absurdly low
28/3/2013- The sentence of nine years in prison and an order to undergo psychiatric treatment handed down by a court in Slovakia against municipal police officer Milan Juhász, who shot dead three people and injured two others in Hurbanovo last year, has prompted much reaction. The defendant originally faced the possibility of life in prison, but the judges chose a lighter sentence for him at the suggestion of the prosecutor and after experts testified that he had not been completely sane when he committed the shooting. The verdict has taken effect, as neither side has appealed.
"The Romani Union Party sharply protests the nine-year sentence for the shooter from Urbanovo [sic], Milan Juhász, who committed a triple murder and seriously injured two people. The party cannot agree with the court's findings and there is no excuse for this behavior with respect to protecting public order and the residents of the town. The psychiatrist did not unequivocally testify that Milan Juhász was incapable of telling right from wrong when he committed this crime. As a member of the municipal police, he had previously undergone psychological testing and knew what legal procedures he could have used to settle any dispute he had with troubled residents. He did not deny that he committed premeditated murder, and his confession was evidence of the fact that he recalls his actions very well and therefore knew what he was doing. We disagree with this absurdly low sentence, as well as with the fact that he will be under protective supervision for three years only, and we consider this sentence disproportionate to the seriousness of this crime, which we believe was racially motivated. Experts have even claimed that they cannot rule out the notion that he might repeat this behavior, so this person decidedly does not belong at large until the end of his life," said František Tanko, chair of the Romani Union Party in Slovakia (Strana romské unie na Slovensku).
According to psychologist Róbert Máthý, a detention center would be an ideal place for Juhász. However, there is still no such facility in Slovakia. "There is no doubt that this person needs psychiatric treatment. In my view, that is even more important than punishing him. Since that kind of treatment takes a long time and the patient must be tested to make sure it really has had an effect, a certain detention period would be appropriate," Máthý told news server Aktuálně.sk. "Any attempt to compare the lengths of sentences for completely different criminal cases runs the risk of ending very badly, but there are moments when one cannot help oneself," commentator Roman Pataja wrote in the daily SME. "In October 2012 a court in Považská Bystřica sentenced a 19-year-old first-time offender to 12 years in prison for kicking a policewoman in the knee and attacking two other people while drunk (the sentence has not yet taken effect). If, purely theoretically, we believe that sentence was proportionate, what are we to make of the verdict in the trial of the police officer Milan Juhász?"
"The quasi-expert evaluation provided by the psychiatrist and psychologist did not sound reliable, because according to the law on the police corps, all police officers must pass capacity tests to perform their jobs. This inadequately low, stupid sentence is an encouragement to everyone who sets their heart on taking the law into their own hands and then being declared insane afterward with the help of psychiatrists and psychologists," said Václav Kappel, chair of the Romani Initiative of Slovakia (Romská iniciativa Slovenska).
Flintshire school pupils suspended for violence, sexual harassment and racism, report reveals (UK)
Hundreds of Flintshire schoolchildren are being suspended for sexual harassment, racist behaviour and violence toward teachers and their classmates every year.
28/3/2013- A council document obtained by the Chronicle also shows more than 1,000 pupils have been excluded for offences also including possession or use of weapons, threatening and dangerous behaviour, bullying and theft in the past three years. From September 2009-July 2012, 181 primary pupils and 894 high school students and were temporarily suspended – with nine kicked out permanently.
The number of ‘fixed-term’ exclusions across the board included:
424 for violence towards pupils
282 for offences of violence against members of staff
112 for dangerous or threatening behaviour
54 for bullying
32 for substance misuse
11 for carrying a weapon
11 for sexual harassment
nine for racism.
Teaching unions said the statistics were ‘clearly worrying’ – and claimed poor parenting plays a part in children’s bad behaviour. Suzanne Nantcurvis – NASUWT’s national executive member for North Wales – added: “There is often a lack of helpful parental intervention.” And Liz Camino, Flintshire secretary for the National Union of Teachers, said social media websites – such as Facebook and Twitter – ‘have a lot to answer for’. The longest primary school exclusion was 30 days – for violence toward a member of staff in 2010-11. The figures show there was an average of 13,286 pupils in Flintshire’s junior schools over the three years, and a third of the county’s 75 primaries suspended children. Over the same period all 12 Flintshire high schools excluded students – with one suspending 80 in 2011/12. The lengths ranged from half a day for disruptive behaviour to 41 days for violence against a fellow pupil.
Other lengthy sanctions included 38 days for violence toward a member of staff, 26 days for substance misuse and 20 days for sexual harassment. Pupils were excluded for defiance (276 overall), verbal abuse (241), disruptive behaviour (127) and damage to property (28). The report prepared for Flintshire County Council’s lifelong learning overview and scrutiny committee said: “There is an ongoing concern about the number of pupils in some of our high schools who are receiving multiple fixed term exclusions in an academic year. “It is these pupils who are causing the majority of disruption.” Mrs Camino said the social networking sites cause a lot of problems – particularly in high schools – and told the Chronicle incidents can often be traced back to ‘something that happened on Facebook two or three days ago’. “You can have children come in who’ve spent half their night on Facebook and they’re not fit to be in school,” she said. “The amount of cyber-bullying that goes on is horrific. Social networking has a lot to answer for.”
Mrs Nantcurvis added: “The school becomes the focus for a lot of problems – things spill over.” The report says the number of pupils kicked out for good has dropped from 24 in 2003/4 to one last year. Mrs Nantcurvis said expulsions were usually reserved for ‘extreme circumstances... a last resort’. Mrs Camino claimed children arriving at school ‘not learning ready’ because of ‘deficiencies in parenting’ also causes discipline problems. She said teachers can often find themselves fighting ‘a losing battle’, and ‘a lot of children are on to a loser from the start’. “It’s certainly not the fault of the schools, they are doing all the right things,” she added. “In the scheme of things we’re talking about small numbers, and all credit to the schools in Flintshire that they are keeping so many in mainstream education. “Schools, considering the pressures on them, come up with the goods to provide a good education despite the expectations on teachers changing almost term by term.”
© The Flintshire Chronicle
Women hunted for Doncaster race hate crime (UK)
27/3/2013- police are hunting two young women who shouted racist abuse while sitting in the Pocket park on Broxholme Lane, near Doncaster town centre. They are treating it as a hate crime and hope witnesses can help identify the white women, who were with a group in the park on Saturday, March 16, at about 11.30am. The pair shouted racist and abusive remarks and comments to people who were walking past them. The two women are thought to be around 19 to 20-years-old. One is about 5ft 4ins tall, of a slim build and with long, bleached blonde hair. She was wearing a padded black jacket with a white and red flower design on the arms and dark blue ripped jeans. The second woman was also of a slim build and had dark brown hair, cut in a bob just below the ears, and was wearing a vibrant red hooded tracksuit.
© The South Yorkshire Times
Violent extremism in Greece: Focusing on the far-right
By Sappho Xenakis
26/3/2013- Perhaps the most challenging domestic security issue facing Greece today is the presence and emboldening of violent far-right militias and gangs. Incidents of far-right violence in Greece saw a steady ascent over the 2000s, overwhelmingly targeting immigrants but also leftists and anarchists. By 2009, far-right platoons of thirty to forty men dressed in black and armed with sticks had established a regular presence patrolling immigrant-dense neighbourhoods of Athens, unchallenged by the police, intimidating local shopkeepers and residents and engaging in violent assaults against immigrants and their property. Other attacks on immigrants and their property (from the fire-bombings of places of residence and worship to beatings and stabbings), and violent assaults against leftists and anarchists, have been carried out by smaller groups of vigilantes, who are often also reportedly black-clad. Since 2009, Greece has seen what NGOs have characterised as the steepest ascent in racist violence in Europe.
Within only the first six months of 2011, NGOs in Athens claimed to have treated at least 500 victims of racist attacks, and over 200 racist attacks were additionally recorded between October 2011 and December 2012 by a network of NGOs headed by the UNHCR. In late 2012, the UNHCR characterised the level of racist violence as ‘alarming’, whilst the US Embassy in Athens went so far as to warn US citizens residing in or travelling to Greece of a heightened risk of attack for those whose complexion might lead them to be perceived as foreign migrants. Behind the platoons and the smaller groups carrying out far-right attacks is alleged to be the political party Chrysi Avyi (‘Golden Dawn’), an extreme nationalist movement that entered parliament for the first time in 2012, with 6.9 percent of the vote and eighteen MPs. The party, whose members dress in black, uses language and imagery redolent of Nazism, and is openly sceptical about parliamentary democracy, as well as being vocally racist, anti-semitic, homophobic, and virulently opposed to those on the left of the political spectrum.
To date, however, although the party has sought in different ways to build upon its association with violence – such as by taking a fully supportive stance towards the actions of the party’s spokesman after he physically assaulted two female left-wing politicians on live television, and by using footage of participation by its MPs and other party members in coordinated attacks on the market stalls of immigrant traders for publicity purposes –, the party has commonly denied responsibility for the many organised assaults causing serious bodily harm that have been perpetrated by typically black-clad groups of vigilantes. There has been longstanding campaigning by human rights organisations to see the existence of organised far-right violence in Greece recognised and treated by the state as a menace to the security of individuals, as well as to public order more generally. Yet successive centrist governments have tended to refute or downplay the issue.
As recently as December 2010, officials and prosecutors from the Ministry for Citizen Protection rejected the notion that racist and xenophobic violence was a serious or growing problem to representatives of the NGO Human Rights Watch. Whether in terms of organised far-right violence as such, or racist violence in particular, the Greek state has long failed to monitor, record, prosecute, effectively punish perpetrators and appropriately compensate victims. For a full thirty years, for example, not a single published legal judgment applied Law 972/1979, which provides for ‘the punishment of acts or conducts aimed at racial discrimination’ (the first known application of the law in criminal courts took place in 2010). It was only following sustained pressure, created by international publicisation of far-right violence by NGOs and the media over the course of 2012, that the Greek state finally announced in January 2013 the appointment of a special prosecutor to address racist crimes and the establishment of police units to monitor racist violence. Alongside this development, however, the government has maintained a regressive agenda against immigrants, including through the use of intense police operations and by suspending citizenship applications from children over the age of six who were born in Greece of immigrant parents.
Even now, moreover, there has been no hint of prospective state action against the broader category of far-right violence. Assaults by far-right groups against homosexuals and leftists remain unmonitored by the state, for instance, and the organised nature of far-right violence is not subject to particular scrutiny by law enforcement. Despite the established presence of violent far-right groups repeatedly associated with brutal attacks on Greeks and foreigners in the country, the Greek state does not acknowledge the existence of violent far-right organisations in its monitoring of political violence. Unlike many of its European counterparts, for example, Greece has not notifed EUROPOL of attacks by extremist far-right groups on its territory. This omission has had a significant impact in distorting analysis of, and responses to, the terrain of political violence in Greece. Official policy and practice, as well as scholarly analysis, have focused almost uniquely upon the actions of violent far-left and anarchist groups. Similar to the experience of other states in Western Europe, the vast majority of recorded incidents of violence perpetrated by far-left and anarchist groups in Greece since the 1970s have involved the use of explosives against symbolic targets, causing few casualties or fatalities. According to official records, the number of such attacks rose from 13 in 2008, to 15 in 2009, and 20 in 2010, but fell over the course of 2010 and 2011, when only 6 attacks were recorded. Nevertheless, mainstream political discourse in Greece has increasingly resounded with demands that the threat posed by violent far-left and anarchist groups be equated with that from far-right extremists, whilst rising xenophobia amongst the public has supported the impunity tacitly accorded by the state to far-right violence.
© The Extremis Project
27/3/2013- A 17-year-old Romani boy died in suspicious circumstances in Becej, Serbia. The ERRC is urging the authorities to thoroughly investigate the crime, including any possible racist motivation, after an initial hearing took place in Novi Sad today. The boy was found dead in the early hours on 17 March 2013, and the events surrounding his death are unclear. Initial information from the police classified the death as suspicious. Daily newspaper Blic reported on 21 March that the boy had been kicked to death by four persons, that they were skinheads and that he may have been targeted because he was Roma. The boy was severely beaten and left unconscious in a puddle. Some media reports said that the autopsy showed death by drowning. A 14-year-old boy, reported to be an ethnic Hungarian from Becej, has been arrested in connection with the attack.
In a separate incident, a group of masked young men attacked a group of Roma in a Roma settlement in Kestenova Street, Bor, eastern Serbia on 21 March. The attackers used rocks, breaking the windows of houses and damaging cars belonging to Roma. Unofficial and unconfirmed reports suggest the attack happened following an attack on an ethnic Serb a day earlier, which may have been carried out by a Romani individual. According to an official statement from the police, ten people have been arrested and detained for eight days, and criminal charges have been initiated for the criminal act of violent behavior. The incident was classified as "unsettled inter-personal relations".
The ERRC is calling on the authorities to fully investigate both these incidents considering a racial motivation, as hate crimes may have been committed. Authorities should identify and prosecute all perpetrators, in line with the national criminal code.
© European Roma Rights Center
Czech Helsinki Committee publishes shadow report on discrimination and racism
23/3/2013- On the occasion of the International Day against Racism, the Czech Helsinki Committee (Český helsinský výbor - ČHV) has published a shadow report on racism in the Czech Republic and in Europe. The report is issued annually by the European Network against Racism (ENAR), an umbrella organization of hundreds of human rights groups from 26 countries.This most recent report maps the situation during 2011 and part of 2012. According to representatives of the Czech Helsinki Committee, the report describes essential problems with forms of discrimination and racism as they manifest themselves in the Czech Republic and concludes that prejudices and racism continue to be deeply rooted in Czech society. Anti-Romani sentiment, as manifested by anti-Romani demonstrations and protests, represents the greatest problem.
"Muslims in Europe are experiencing bad times, but in the Czech Republic the greatest problem is anti-Romani sentiment," said Ĺubica Turzová of the ČHV. Even though both the media and the public are criticizing the state for its insufficient response to this problem, the authors of the report believe there is a need to note that certain short-term solutions have been rather successful. The shadow report criticizes the Czech Republic for the fact that a large number of Romani children end up attending "practical primary schools" designed for pupils with light mental disability. The Czech Republic continues to face international criticism for its insufficient implementation of the European Court of Human Rights judgment in the matter of "D. H. and others versus the Czech Republic", which condemned the disproportionately high representation of Romani children in the "practical primary schools" (previously called special schools). "A concept of inclusive education was presented in 2010, but for the time being the situation has not improved," the authors of the report write, adding that it is necessary to emphasize the significant role of NGOs fighting discrimination and racism in various areas of life, as they are partially compensating for the insufficient activity of the state.
This year ENAR focused primarily on Muslim communities in Europe, which they report are very diverse in terms of ethnic origin and social status. While Islamophobia is latent in the Czech Republic, it is nonetheless deeply rooted in society and projected onto society's perceptions of Islam and Muslims. Nevertheless, the question of Islamophobia is not a significant political or societal problem in the Czech Republic. ENAR President Chibo Onyeji made the following remarks on this occasion: "Today is also International Day of Happiness – an occasion to highlight that decision makers have a responsibility to ensure that ethnic and religious minorities in Europe also enjoy happy and fulfilling lives. The current climate of rising xenophobia and racist violence reflected in our Shadow Report findings should not obliterate the fact that, whatever our skin colour or our beliefs, we all strive for a better life,a better future, with better chances for our offspring. No special privileges are expected, but a clear political commitment to equality and inclusion for all people living in Europe is."
Linda Janků, one of the authors of the Czech shadow report, says the deteriorating position of Muslims relates to the longstanding, negative and tendentious reporting about Islam and Muslims in the Czech media. According to ENAR, Islamophobia is widespread in many European countries. Manifestations of Islamophobia include discriminatory behavior, violence, vandalism of Muslim buildings and protests against mosques even in countries such as Poland, where several Muslim communities have been settled and lived for centuries. Muslim girls and women are most affected as they face double discrimination on the basis of their faith and their gender. Anti-immigration and anti-Muslim demonstrations, backed and promoted both by ultra-right extremists and by some political parties, incite discrimination even more and prevent members of ethnic and religious groups from fully participating in the European economy and society.
Last year ENAR's report found that racial discrimination and racism was increasing in Europe and that the economic crisis had worsened the situation. In the Czech Republic in 2010 and 2011, official institutions supporting human rights were weakened, the position of migrants was encumbered by an amendment to the law on foreigners, and Romani people were persistently discriminated against in education, housing and the labor market. The Czech Interior Ministry, on the other hand, has scored successes in the fight against right-wing extremists and a movement of people has arisen that has begin speaking out against racism. According to ENAR, domestic populations in Europe often have negative perceptions of migrants, blaming them for living on welfare or stealing jobs. The report also notes that many long-term residents of various communities view Romani newcomers as responsible for rising crime. Politicians often feed of off such sentiment and support this prejudice.
"It is disturbing that neo-Nazism is part of government in several countries and that in most countries, the public is open to expressions of racism," the report states. The authors also note that anti-discrimination measures are being stinted because of budget cuts and the economic crisis. The data collected by civil society representatives across Europe show that discrimination continues to negatively influence the lives of many ethnic and religious groups, specifically in their access to the criminal justice system, education, employment, goods and services, housing, and police.
Headlines 22 March, 2013
Two year Facing Facts! initiative gives major boost to combatting Hate Crime in Europe
Facing Facts!, an EU-funded project led by an international consortium of partners, gives a major boost to civil society organisations combatting hate crime in Europe through new research, practical guidelines and an unique training programme.
22/3/2013- The work, led by CEJI – A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe, comes in response to rising hate crimes in the EU and a lack of systematic analysis and approach to confronting hate crimes. Most Member States have not transposed EU decisions on racism and xenophobia into national law. [i]
Hate crimes are criminal acts committed with a bias motive. They can be acts of intimidation, threats, property damage, assault, murder or any other criminal offence. The Facing Facts! initiative thus far comprises:
Based on a survey conducted with civil society organisations from all EU Member States, this Mapping Report shows that while 78% of organisations monitoring hate crime collect data, half of them (51%) have a uniform definition as to what they collect. 47% did not have a method to ensure their data is correct.
Guidelines for Monitoring Hate Crimes & Hate Motivated Incidents
Drawn upon the rich experience of organisations which have been active for many years in combating hate crime the Facing Facts! Guidelines provide Civil Society Organisations with methodological advice on how to collect data on hate incidents, how to verify and classify the collected data, and how to report hate crime and hate-motivated incidents. Available online now in English and soon in French, Spanish, Romanian, Hungarian, and German.
New Manual and Training Programme
The Facing Facts! manual, tested in a pilot ‘train the trainer’ seminar in London in November 2012, provides an interactive pedagogical process with practical training resources. It is designed to increase the capacity of NGOs to monitor hate crimes following the set of Guidelines for minimum quality standards that can produce internationally comparable data.
© Facing Facts
Just 21 months jail for burning lad to death (UK)
Killer had taunted gay autism sufferer
22/3/2013- A thug who burned an autistic teen to death after bullying him for being gay will serve just 21 months — triggering fury from campaigners. Jordan Sheard, 20, taunted Steven Simpson — who also had epilepsy and a speech impairment — with pals after arriving at his 18th birthday party. They urged him to strip to his underpants and wrote homophobic insults on his body — which was covered in tanning oil. Sheard then held a lighter to the lad’s groin and turned Steven, of Barnsley, South Yorks, into a human fireball. A neighbour tried to put out the flames as cowardly Sheard fled the party at Steven’s flat on June 22 last year. But the openly gay Asperger’s sufferer had 60 per cent burns and died the following day. A paramedic reported seeing lipstick all over Steven’s face — with the words “gay boy” on his head. Sheard later tried to claim the vulnerable teenager set himself alight. He eventually admitted starting the fire but claimed it was horseplay gone wrong.
Sheard pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was jailed for 3½ years yesterday at Sheffield Crown Court — but will be released on licence halfway through. Judge Roger Keen QC accepted the basis of Sheard’s plea that the killing was a result of horseplay, but he added: “Any objective observer, given the fluid that had been poured all over him, would have considered that was a dangerous act.” The Sun is highlighting soft court sentences for serious offences. Ben Summerskill of gay rights group Stonewall said: “Steven’s death is a shocking reminder of what people can do when motivated by hatred. The leniency with which the killer has been treated is disturbing.” And Carol Povey of the National Autistic Society added: “There is a long way to go before we see parity in the justice system for disabled victims of crime.”
© The Sun.
Disability hate crime victims being let down, official report says (UK)
Report says attacks against people with disabilities are not properly recorded and support for victims is often inadequate
21/3/2013- Victims of disability hate crime are being let down by the criminal justice system and attacks are not being properly recorded, according to a report by three official inspectorates. A joint study by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the National Probation Service argues that there is under-reporting of offences but acknowledges there is no "clear and uncomplicated definition" of what constitutes disability hate crime. Michael Fuller, the chief inspector of the CPS, said the Law Commission had been asked to consider whether there should be a specific offence of disability hate crime. The issue has received widespread publicity through several high-profile cases such as that of Fiona Pilkington, who killed herself and her disabled daughter Francecca in 2007 after Leicester police failed to investigate the years of torment they endured.
The figures assembled by the inspectorates suggest there is a lack of awareness of the problem and inconsistent reporting standards. The report said: "Many police forces do not have in place an approach that supported disabled victims from the point of call through to the case being considered at court. "CPS lawyers display a lack of clarity in identifying and analysing offences, and sometimes fail to obtain sufficient evidence from the police in order to identify disability hate crimes." Fuller, a former chief constable of Kent, said: "This report finds that in many ways disability hate crime is the hate crime that has been overlooked. The criminal justice system must therefore change to provide an improved service for those with disabilities." Under section 146 of the Criminal Justice Act, which came into effect in 2005, courts can increase sentences for those found to have carried out an attack or crime that involved the aggravating factor of being a disability hate crime.
Of 810 CPS files flagged as involving disability hate crime issues, however, only seven recorded that an offender's sentence had been increased on those grounds – suggesting the powers are being used insufficiently. Broken down by region, the CPS files suggest that the north-west of England experiences almost three times as much disability hate crime as other areas of the country, with 174 cases. The report's authors, however, caution that such a disparity is more likely to be a reflection of different recording practices.
Among the recommendations the report makes are:
• Agreement on a "single, clear and uncomplicated definition of a disability hate crime that is communicated effectively to the public and staff".
• Increased reporting of disability hate crimes.
• Improved training for police officers, prosecutors and probation staff in dealing with disability hate crimes.
The report, Living in a Different World, does not contain examples of the types of offences commonly associated with such crimes nor does it assess whether the problem is becoming more severe. One difficulty, the report suggests, is that police officers are often reluctant or too embarrassed to ask members of the public whether they are disabled. Incidents may therefore be missed. Fuller said he believed most forces now had systems in place to record when victims are being repeatedly targeted – a precaution aimed at ensuring that the circumstances that drove Pilkington to her death do not recur.
© The Guardian
Bad times for Muslims in EUrope (press release ENAR)
Islamophobia, or discrimination against Muslims, is widespread in many European countries. Prejudice towards Muslims is often more visible than that affecting other
religious or ethnic minority groups. This is the conclusion of the first pan-European qualitative survey on Muslim communities in Europe, part of ENAR’s 2011/12 Shadow Report on Racism in Europe and released ahead of International Day Against Racial Discrimination.
20/3/2013- Manifestations of Islamophobia include discrimination and violence towards Muslims, criminal damage to Islamic buildings, and protests against the building of mosques even in countries, such as Poland, where some Muslim communities have been established and integrated for centuries. Muslim women and girls are particularly affected, facing an extreme form of double discrimination on the basis of both their religion and their gender. In France for instance, 85% of all
Islamophobic acts target women. In addition, anti-Muslim and anti-immigration discourses, promoted and exacerbated by both extremist and mainstream political parties, are fuelling discrimination and preventing ethnic and religious communities from participating fully in the European society and economy. This scapegoating
is used as a deviation from the ‘real issues’ by many politicians to cover up a lack of vision and leadership in contributing as much as would be expected of them in steering the recovery of European societies.
Based on data collected by anti-racist civil society across Europe, the Shadow Report also highlights that discrimination continues to affect the lives of many ethnic and religious minorities throughout Europe as regards their access to education, employment, housing, goods and services as well as how they are treated by the police and criminal justice systems. For instance, Roma children form approximately one third of the ‘special needs’ school population in the Czech Republic. In Ireland, a study was conducted whereby fictitious CVs were sent to recruiters, half with recognisably Irish names and the other half with African, Asian and
German names. It found that candidates with Irish names were twice as likely to be invited to interviews as non-Irish candidates with comparable levels of skills and qualifications.
ENAR Chair Chibo Onyeji said:
“Today is also International Day of Happiness -an occasion to highlight that decision makers have a responsibility to ensure that ethnic and religious minorities in EUrope also enjoy happy and fulfilling lives. The current climate of rising xenophobia and racist violence reflected in our Shadow Report findings should not obliterate the fact that, whatever our skin colour or our beliefs, we all strive for a better life, a better future, with better chances for our offspring. No special privileges are expected, but a clear political commitment to equality and inclusion for all people living in EUrope is.”
© EUropean Network Against Racism
Spate of anti-Semitic incidents recorded in Eastern Europe
20/3/2013- A string of anti-Semitic events and incidents have been recorded in Ukraine, Poland and Hungary in recent days. A swastika and neo-Nazi symbols was spray-painted last week on a monument in Mykolaiv, near Odessa, to the late Lubavitcher rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson. In Kiev, anti-Semitic flyers on Monday were placed on a synagogue and other Jewish heritage sites, including a monument to the Jewish author Sholom Aleichem and the former home of the late Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. According to Jewish News, a news website about Ukraine, the posters contained profanities and calls for violence against Jews, who were referred to as “trash.” The posters were signed by Svodoba, the name of a nationalist movement with prominent members who have been accused of anti-Semitism. Svoboda spokesman Ruslan Koshulinsky denied the party was behind the posters.
In Lviv, in western Ukraine, soccer fans last week handed out leaflets ahead of a match between their team, the Carpathians, and a team from Odessa, Chernomorets, whose players are often referred to as “Jews.” The posters were titled “Death to the Jews” and featured a picture of the main entrance to the Auschwitz death camp, according to the Coordination Forum for Countering Anti-Semitism. In Poland, “Murder the Jews” was spray-painted on the walls of a newly dedicated Jewish cemetery in Myslenice near Krakow, along with a swastika and the symbol of the elite Nazi SS unit, the news website miasto-info.pl reported. On March 16, anti-Semitic slogans were chanted at an anti-communist demonstration in Krakow, including “Down with Judaism” and “hit them once with a sickle and twice with the hammer.”
In Hungary, stickers reading “Jews, the university is ours, not yours” were placed on the doors of two University of Budapest lecturers, Gyorgy Peter and Gruberne Welker Agnes. Earlier this month, a young woman wearing a T-shirt with the logo "Auschwitz Holiday Camp" was filmed attending a nationalist demonstration in Budapest.
© JTA News
Police have detained seven Croatian youths for beating up a group of Serb religious students near an Orthodox monastery in an allegedly ethnically-motivated attack.
19/3//2013- The youths were arrested on Monday after the weekend attack which sparked widespread condemnation from Croatian political leaders. Police said in a statement that the youths “first verbally then physically attacked eight students from the Krka monastery”. The students were set upon with baseball bats and iron bars on the road from the village of Kistanje to the well-known medieval Serbian Orthodox monastery on Sunday. Five were injured, one of them seriously. The attack was motivated “by hate”, police said. The suspects were charged with committing a hate crime and are being held in the coastal town of Sibenik. Politicians described the incident as unacceptable. Croatian President Ivo Josipovic said that “we have to save our constitutional order and say no to those who would provoke ethnic clashes and even physical violence”.
Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic accused right-wing politicians of fuelling ethnic tensions before upcoming European parliament elections in the country. “Parties of the right are spreading pure and distilled hate,” Milanovic said on Monday. Milorad Pupovac, a Croatian MP who is also president of the country’s Serbian National Council, called the attack “a blow to the constitutional order and lawfulness in Croatia”. “We expect the authorities to do their job and protect the law, but we also expect a reaction from the public and institutions which have an influence on people,” Pupovac said. Meanwhile Tomislav Karamarko, president of the opposition Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, which was accused by Milanovic of fanning ethnic strife, said that “attacks like that shouldn’t happen in a Croatia which is entering the EU”. Karamarko expressed hope that ethnic hatred was not the motive for the attack. But he did not comment on an earlier statement by the HDZ’s local leader in Kistanje, Roko Antic, who claimed that “the incident occurred because Krka monastery is a hotbed of Chetnik [Serbian nationalist] ideology in Croatia”.
© Balkan Insight
A 35-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of assaulting another man in connection with a far-right demonstration in Gävle in northern Sweden on Saturday.
17/3/2013- The man is reported to have been seriously assaulted by neo-Nazis taking part in the demonstration by the Swedish Resistance Movement (Svenska motståndsrörelsen - SMR)) on Stortorget in the centre of the town. Eye witnesses have reported how demonstrators punched and kicked the man, as well as assaulting him in the stomach with their banners. The tumult began when a woman spectator started to film the demonstration and one of the demonstrators seized her mobile phone. When a man entered the fray to help the woman, the assault was then directed towards him. The police used pepper spray to break up the melee and a 35-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of aggravated assault.
On their homepage the Swedish Resistance Movement claimed the punch up was caused by "anti-fascists" who had gathered to disturb their demonstration. The SMR themselves named the arrested man as Pär Sjögren and stated that several members of their group tried to prevent the arrest using violence, giving up when the police used "tear gas" against them. The Swedish Resistance Movement is recognised as one of the key members of the white power movement in Sweden and their publication material openly praises the life of Adolf Hitler.
© The Local - Sweden
Are victims falling through America's hate crime data gap?
Two hit-and-run deaths in rural Mississippi just a few miles apart highlight a disturbing problem about data collection on possible hate crimes.
16/3/2013- Last summer, 61-year-old African-American Sunday school teacher Johnny Lee Butts was hit and killed by an 18-year-old white driver. The teen told Panola County Sheriff deputies he thought he hit a deer but the driver's two passengers said he steered straight for Butts. One passenger said he could see that Butts was black. The killing has sparked outrage in the local African-American community. Civil rights groups have demanded that police prosecute Butts' killing as a hate crime. Nonetheless, prosecutors chose not to. There was no evidence, authorities said, to suggest a racial motive. The driver was charged with murder. He has not yet pleaded in the case.
In another hit and run, 41-year-old African-American Garrick Burdette was found dead along a Panola County road in November 2009. His mother, Ruby Burdette, says for three years she had heard nothing about any police investigation into her son's death until CNN began asking about the case. CNN received no response after calling the Panola County Sheriff's department, but just hours after CNN's call, a sheriff's investigator drove to Ruby Burdette's house. "He came in and said he was the investigator," she told CNN. "He told me he apologized for no one coming out before now. And he told me that the first investigators they had didn't do anything." If police suspect Burdette's death was a hate crime, they're not saying. And even if Burdette's death turns out to be a hate crime, there's a chance it won't even be reported.
"The data sucks," said Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks the issue. "Hate crime data as the FBI reports is underreported by an ungodly amount." In 2005, 2006 and 2007 there were zero hate crime incidents reported in the state of Mississippi, according to the FBI. "States like California have thousands of hate crimes, and the state of Mississippi with its record of racial animus has none?" said Beirich. "It's ridiculous."' Federal law has required states to collect hate crime data since the early 1990s. Congress has defined a hate crime as a "criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender's bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnic origin or sexual orientation."
But states don't have to report their data to the FBI if they don't want to. Four states -- Indiana, Mississippi, New Mexico and Ohio -- don't even have a Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program. The result, critics say, is a federal data system that costs $1 million-plus but offers very little help to authorities who investigate, identify and track hate crimes. "We can only report by the numbers we are given," said the FBI's Michelle Klimt, who says the lack of data could be because of a lack of state funding. In states that do have UCR programs, the FBI offers training for state and local law enforcement on how to collect and report hate crime data.
On Capitol Hill, 26 senators have asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to expand UCR programs to include tracking of hate crimes against Hindus, Arabs and Sikhs. Last year's deadly attack on a Wisconsin Sikh temple raised awareness about crimes targeting Sikhs. "Without accurate, nuanced reporting of these crimes, it is more difficult for federal, state, and local law enforcement to assess and respond to the particular threat that the Sikh community faces," the senators said last month in a letter to Holder. If authorities don't know how many hate crimes are committed, it's difficult to get an accurate picture of whether hate crime laws are effective.
In a 2011 killing that received national attention, authorities in Mississippi did prosecute the hit-and-run murder of James Craig Anderson, an African-American auto plant worker, as a hate crime. The attack was captured on video by a hotel security camera. Anderson's accused killer, Deryl Dedmon, who is white, pleaded guilty last year to murder and hate-crime charges and was sentenced to life in prison. So how many possible hate crimes are actually committed throughout the United States each year? No one really knows. In fact, the difference between data from different federal agencies is alarming.
A survey by the Bureau of Justice Statistics counts around 190,000 hate crimes a year, compared with the FBI, which counts somewhere between 6,000 and 8,000, Beirich said.
Here are some of the reasons behind the gap:
Instead of using information from law enforcement -- like the FBI -- the Bureau of Justice Statistics uses information directly from victims. It's based on interviews with thousands of households each year where people say whether they believe they were victims of hate crimes. "Sometimes victims don't go to the police," said Klimt. "And sometimes the police report is not filed." And if police don't know about a crime, they can't report it to the FBI. The BOJ statistics, which supporters say generally provide a more accurate picture of crime, cost $23 million more a year to produce than the FBI's annual hate crime stats.
The FBI stats show the following trends in hate crimes reported by states from 2008-2011:
-- Crimes linked to bias against sexual orientation increased from 16.7% to 20.8%.
-- Crimes linked to religious, ethnic and disability bias were unchanged.
-- Racially motivated hate crimes -- the most commonly reported type -- decreased from 51.3% to 46.9%.
Back in Mississippi, Ruby Burdette's pain over the death of her son has been resurfacing as police investigate the case more than three years later. She believes it could have been racially motivated. "I would hate to say it, but it could," she said. "Being a mother, I want the truth to come out." In the end, she may never know.
Headlines 15 March, 2013
Russian Human Rights Center Says Xenophobia, Racism Remain Rampant
13/3/2013- The Moscow-based Sova Center says the level of xenophobia and radical nationalism in Russia remained high last year. Presenting their 2012 report in Moscow on March 13, Sova's experts said 19 people were killed and 187 injured in Russia as a result of hate-related attacks last year. They added that the radical nationalists targeted not only non-Slavic-looking individuals, but also activists opposing racism and representatives of sexual minorities and their supporters. The experts raised concerns over the fact that police in Russia are mainly focusing on catching ultranationalists and racists expressing their views online, while ignoring violence against ethnic and sexual minorities on the streets.
Walesa escapes hate crime charge after anti-gay tirade (Poland)
Prosecutors will not be pressing hate charges against Lech Walesa after his comments that gay MPs should “sit at the back of parliament”.
13/3/2013- Renata Klonowska, head of the Regional Prosecutor's Office in Gdañsk - the city where Walesa led the historic 1980s Solidarity strikes - told the PAP news agency on Wednesday that they would not be pursuing the case, after Ryszard Nowak, director of the National Committee for the Defence Against Sects and Violence brought the matter to their attention, claiming Walesa had "promoted hatred against sexual minorities." "I have watched the speech by Lech Walesa for signs of an offence,” Klonowska said, adding that investigators have studied his outburst under articles 256 and 257 of Poland's Penal Code, which outlaws incitement to hatred "based on national, ethnic, racial, religious or lack of religious beliefs.” The prosecutor noted that both articles 256 and 257 do not mention hatred against those of a different sexual orientation. She said that Ryszard Nowak has the right to appeal the decision.
Lech Walesa, a former president of Poland and Nobel Peace Prize winner, caused uproar when he told the TVN 24 news station that gay politicians should “sit at the back of parliament”, or even “behind a wall”, should not have important posts within parliament and gay pride marches should take place on the outskirts of cities and not in the city centre. “They know they are a minority,” said Walesa, a devout Roman Catholic, and should be given rights in accordance with their numbers in society, he claimed. Lech Walesa's son, member of the European Parliament Jaroslaw Walesa, said his father's comments were “harmful” and “typical of the older generation in Poland”.
© The News - Poland
Volunteer who Opposed Dutch Hitler Admirers in Hiding
Mehmet Sahin, a doctoral student, has had to go into hiding with his family after he received death threats.
11/5/2013- The Dutch daily NRC writes that Mehmet Sahin, a doctoral student, has had to go into hiding with his family. The Mayor of Arnhem, Pauline Krikke, advised him to do so after he received death threats. Sahin is a volunteer who tries to re-educate street youths in Arnhem. A few weeks ago, he interviewed several Dutch-Turkish youngsters on the Nederland 2 TV station. They said that they admired Hitler and the Holocaust and regretted that Hitler had not finished exterminating the Jews. Sahin reprimanded them. Apparently, people in the neighborhood where he lives are collecting signatures to make Sahin leave the area. The municipality has announced that the prosecution is investigating the matter.
Labor Party parliamentarian Ahmed Marcouch said that he will ask parliamentary questions about the threats. He remarked: “It is horrible that someone has to be afraid because he has done something that we all should do – teach children not to hate.” On Saturday, several major Dutch papers published the fact that the Simon Wiesenthal Center had written a letter about the broadcast to Prime Minister Mark Rutte. The largest Dutch daily, De Telegraaf, even put the item on the front page of its Saturday edition which has several million readers. The SWC has also sent a copy of the letter to the chair of the parliament, asking her to distribute it to all parliamentarians.
In the letter, SWC Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper and Mark Weitzman, Director for Government affairs, express their shock at this development. They point out that the Netherlands was only two years ago the Chair of The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. They add that “it was even more shocking to hear that during the video the students who spoke claimed that their feelings were shared by native Dutch teenagers, saying, ‘Nobody in our school likes Jews’. The SWC representatives asked the Prime Minister to investigate the presence of anti-Semitic attitudes in Dutch society.”
Arutz Sheva asked international anti-Semitism expert Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld to comment on the latest developments in this matter. He said: “Every few years the truth regarding anti-Semitism comes to the surface in The Netherlands, without anything being done about it. The previous time was in 2010 after my book The Decay: Jews in a Rudderless Netherlands was published. I quoted there the ex-minister of Defense and former leader of the liberal party Frits Bolkestein. He advised conscious [sic] Jews to tell their children to emigrate to the United States and Israel, as there is no future for them in the Netherlands. This in view of the many poorly integrated Muslims. Thereafter, a number of recognizable Jews were interviewed in the media. They told about the harassment they faced mainly from Moroccan youngsters. All this led to a parliamentary debate with no practical consequences.
“In the meantime, Dutch left-wing politicians continue to incite against Israel. A few days ago, in a very amateurish lecture on the Middle East, Diederik Samsom, leader of the Labor Party, accused Israel inter alia of transgressing international law. The Netherlands has, however, never met its international law commitment under the UN genocide convention to bring Iran before an international court. According to the European definition of anti-Semitism, expressing such a double standard is an anti-Semitic act. “There is one more important conclusion which can be drawn from the development of the "Turkish youngsters affair". The initial broadcast was not mentioned in the leading media. It was mainly thanks to the Simon Wiesenthal Center that the media picked it up several weeks later. This shows again that Dutch Jewry is no longer fully able to confront alone the anti-Semitism in its country.
"In the future, the major international Jewish organizations will have to intervene more as environments get more hostile. That is true as well for other small European Jewish communities. This has already happened, for instance, in Sweden, Norway and Hungary. Denmark is probably the next candidate, due to Arab aggression against Jews there.”
© Arutz Sheva
A 20-year-old man from Devon, England has been jailed in a young offenders institution for 12 months
15/3/2013- A 20-year-old man is facing a year in young offenders’ jail after stamping on a stranger’s face in an anti-gay attack in Devon, England. Connor Pollard punched the victim and jumped on his head as he lay unconscious on the pavement outside a Torquay pub. Pollard admitted causing actual bodily harm in the attack in September last year, the BBC reports. When Pollard had been drinking with two women in a pub, they targeted the victim for abuse because he 'looked' gay. When the victim said he was married to a woman and had children, he was attacked outside the venue. Defense lawyer David Charles said the assault was not motivated by homophobia and the taunts had been made by the two women and not by Pollard. He also said the incident was ‘out of character’. Judge Francis Gilbert said when Pollard stamped on his head it was a ‘vile and vicious thing to do’ and homophobic violence would ‘not be tolerated on the streets.' ‘It can cause really serious harm or even death,’ he said. After the attack, the victim spent 36 hours in hospital and needed 12 stitches.
© Gay Star News
Muslim Women 'Targeted For Hate Attacks By Far-Right Extremists' (UK)
Far-right extremists are responsible for more than half of all attacks on Muslims, with women increasingly targeted in more than half of all Islamophobic hatred, a survey has found.
11/3/2013- More than 600 attacks on Muslims were reported since March 2012, from a five-year-old child who was hit by a car to an 89-year-old pensioner, according to the UK's official anti-Muslim violence helpline and charity Tell MAMA. In one incident in Nottinghamshire, a family was forced from its home, after they had a pork-wrapped wooden cross placed outside their home, their mother abused in the street and smoke blown into the face of a child by an elderly man, after moving into a middle-class Nottinghamshire village. The majority of those physically attacked on the street, harassed or intimidated were Muslim women, 58% of incidents. "In one such case reported to us," Fiyaz Mughal, co-ordinator of Tell MAMA and director of Faith Matters said, "a pregnant woman and her husband were assaulted, leaving their children in terror".
In another, a ﬁve-year-old girl, walking with her mother in Islamic dress, was knocked down in a hit-and-run incident by a car. The report said: "Although the mother was screaming, no-one came to see if she needed help even though there were plenty of people passing by in cars. "Mrs X is clear that the individual who drove the vehicle saw both her and her daughter and deliberately failed to stop. The mother’s race and her religious attire indicated that she was a Muslim." "In south London, a Somali lady had dog faeces placed on her head by a white youth, which she only noticed after entering a local shop. These awful incidents must stop, and they must stop now."
Anti-Muslim hate online makes up the vast majority of the attacks, 74%, with high-profile Muslims like Baroness Warsi and Jemima Khan targets. The report cited one attack on Khan on Twitter, referring to Khan’s son, on Twitter user wrote: “pure trailer trash, suppose you are grooming him 2b a suicide bomber……that’s wat ye MUSLIMS do. Around 6% involve attacks on mosques or people's homes. Four separate attacks against the Altrincham Mosque took place over the course of three weeks. The mosque authorities told Tell MAMA "During the night of Saturday 31st March 2012 someone threw a rock through a window in our mosque and broke the glass. The broken glass was strewn all over the carpet of the mosque where people pray. "Over the last several years we have had a number of similar incidences, as well as grafﬁti, attempted arson and the mosque signs being broken."
The report's authors said police were failing in their duty to protect people, and said the statistics "disturbing picture of low-level anti-Muslim harassment: incidents in the workplace, in the street, between neighbours and particularly online, which may not always hit the headlines but can have a devastating effect on peoples’ lives." The perpertrators are usually young, white men, with 54% of them linked to far-right groups like the English Defence League or British National Party. Tell MAMA said they were disappointed at a lack of police action on Tommy Robinson, aka Stephen Lennon, the EDL leader, who they claim to have made over 40 complaints about. Mughal said the police needed to do far more. "The police frequently fail to take victim statements, fail to appreciate the terrifying effects of these incidents upon women and vulnerable children. "Few police forces even bother to record Islamophobia as part of their reporting systems. More training is needed at a time when police are facing budget cuts; we need more leadership too from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) which, unhelpfully, has talked about fewer rather than more social media prosecutions.”
“Recent history shows us what happens if we allow our fears to run unchecked. Demonisation of ‘the Other’, misguided beliefs that Muslims are somehow a monolithic block, unchecked lies that Islam is a violent religion or that British Muslims wish to abuse white girls must be challenged.” He called for threats of violence online and "broadband extremism" to be taken more seriously by government, and be brought under the remit of the Home Office, rather than the Department for Communities and Local Government, which works on the ‘softer’ end of issues affecting communities. He also pointed the finger at the press and bloggers for "negative, McCarthy-like narratives."
Julian Bond, director Christian Muslim Forum said the statistics "show that there is still much work that needs to be done in countering negativity towards Muslims by organisations like this, and our own." Baroness Warsi, who is the minister of State for Faith and Communities, said in a statement: "Reporting incidents and recording them, as MAMA does, is crucial to tackling this problem.”
A Somali lady who wears a hijab was walking on a street near Tooting Broadway in south London when she felt something lightly touching her head. Thinking nothing of it she carried on, thinking perhaps that her hijab might have caused the sensations. Turning into a shop to buy some water, she headed to the fridge and noticed that people were looking at her in a funny way. She described how, having worn the hijab and the black Abaya (a body covering mainly worn by women from the Arabian Peninsula and Somalia), she was used to derogatory looks. It was then that it hit her. A smell overwhelmed her, ﬁlling her nostrils, soon followed by an innocent comment from a young child: “Mummy, that woman has poo on her head.” Without her knowing, someone had placed dog faeces on her head. Shocked and in a state of high anxiety and humiliation, she ﬂed the shop, pulled off her hijab and walked the long way home (she didn’t feel able to use public transport). She later reported the incident to the helpline.
© The Huffington Post - UK
632 anti-Muslim hate incidents recorded by Tell Mama (UK)
A government-backed project set up to monitor anti-Muslim hate has recorded 632 incidents in its first year.
11/3/2013- The UK project is based on the Community Security Trust's model, which records anti-Semitic incidents. 'Tell Mama' is run by interfaith organisation Faith Matters, which says victims who have come forward range from a five-year-old to an 89-year-old. They say women are targeted more than men and the majority of incidents are online abuse. Mama stands for Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks and Fiyaz Mughal, director of Faith Matters, said he wants to see a notable change in what is considered acceptable behaviour in the UK. "By highlighting these incidents we want people to realise that Islamophobia is equally as disgusting and poisonous as anti-Semitism and I think that people do not take it at that level right now - at least some people don't," said Mr Mughal. "We need to reduce the volume of online hate towards Muslim communities, but we also need to create some framework for the police and other institutions to get them to up recording and prosecutions in this area," he added.
This week Tell Mama is launching a free smartphone app to support access to the service. Three-quarters of the incidents recorded by Tell Mama occurred online, with Twitter particularly highlighted as a source of abuse. In cases of verbal or street-based abuse those behind the project say it is Islamic clothing, like hijabs, that singles people out. Other incidents include direct attempts to offend those of Muslim faith. In January a pig's head was left in the garden of an Afghan family in London. There have been a number of incidents involving pork-based items being left at mosques and in December a cross wrapped in ham was left outside the home of a Muslim family in Bingham, Nottinghamshire. Murad Alam, 39, moved his wife and two young sons out of the area following that incident. He says he was happy to deal with the police himself but he said Tell Mama was vital in bringing attention to what had happened.
"I looked online and found the service so called and told them what had happened. They contacted the media about it which was great for me; I needed people to know what had happened," said Mr Alam. "To be honest I don't think Islamophobia is taken very seriously - it feels like if what had happened to me happened to a Jewish family there would have been outrage," he added. "There's a sense that because of our history as Muslims, terrorist atrocities and such, people feel like we deserve the abuse," said Mr Alam. The 2011 census revealed there were 2.7 million Muslims in England and Wales (4.8% of the population) - compared to 1.5 million in the 2001 census (3%). The Home Office has also recently started publishing statistics for all hate-crime in England and Wales. In 2011-12 43,748 hate crimes were recorded by the police, of which 35,816 (82%) were race hate crimes and 1,621 (4%) were religion hate crimes.
The comparison with anti-Semitism is frequently mentioned when discussing this work - the Jewish community is much smaller in the UK, but has for years recorded anti-Semitic attacks. The Tell Mama project wants to carry the same weight as the Community Safety Trust (CST), which has for almost 30 years been recording incidents of anti-Semitism in the UK. The CST published its annual statistics in February and recorded 640 anti-Semitic incidents across the country in 2012, compared to 608 incidents in 2011. Fiyaz Mughal Mr Mughal says Twitter is one arena where there is a lot of anti-Muslim bile
Of these there were 69 'violent anti-Semitic assaults' in 2012, including two classified as extreme violence; 53 incidents of damage and desecration of Jewish property; 467 incidents of abusive behaviour, including verbal abuse, anti-Semitic graffiti and one-off cases of hate mail; 39 direct anti-Semitic threats; and 12 cases of mass-mailed anti-Semitic leaflets or emails. Mark Gardiner of the CST said he was pleased their work could inform Tell Mama. "CST is glad that our work countering anti-Semitism has helped Tell Mama provide the Muslim community with a proper mechanism for reporting and understanding anti-Muslim hate crimes," said Mr Gardiner. He said: "It has taken CST nearly 30 years of focus and professionalism to get to where we are today, so what Tell Mama has achieved in just one year is very impressive. "We wish Tell Mama every success for the future; and if our joint co-operation helps break down barriers between British Muslims and Jews, then all the better."
Mr Mughal is encouraging more people to report: "We need to send a clear, straight message that this is not acceptable because to be honest those working on this project feel that in some instances Islamophobia has actually passed that dinner-party test that Baroness Warsi talked about and we think it's a bad place that we're in right now."
© BBC News
Austrian Jews Wary of Rising Anti-Semitism
Even in Tolerant Vienna, Community of 15,000 Watches Back
9/3/2013- Marina Plistiev, a Kyrgyzstan-born Jew, has lived in Vienna for 34 years but still doesn’t like to take public transport. She recalls the day in 1986 as a teenager when she and her four-year-old brother, whom she’d collected from school with a fever, were told to get off a tram for having the wrong tickets, and nobody stuck up for them, apparently because they were Jews. “With me (now), you don’t see I’m Jewish but with my children you see that they’re Jews. They get funny looks,” she told Reuters at Kosherland, the grocery store that she and her husband started 13 years ago.
While Austria is one of the world’s wealthiest, most law-abiding and stable democracies, the anti-Semitism that Plistiev senses quietly lingers in a nation that was once a enthusiastic executor of Nazi Germany’s Holocaust against Jews. After decades of airbrushing it out of history, Austria has come a long way in acknowledging its Nazi past, and the 75th anniversary on Tuesday of its annexation by Hitler’s Third Reich will be the occasion for various soul-searching ceremonies. But Jewish leaders who fought hard to win restitution after World War Two are on guard against a rising trend in anti-Semitic incidents, occasionally condemned by Austrian political leaders but seen more generally as a regrettable fact of life.
Austrian Jews have grown more vigilant as hooligans have verbally abused a rabbi, Austria’s popular far-right party chief posted a cartoon widely seen as suggestively anti-Semitic, and a debate has opened on the legality of infant male circumcision. A new poll timed to coincide with the anniversary found that three of five Austrians want a “strong man” to lead the country and two out of five think things were not all bad under Adolf Hitler. That was more than in previous surveys. The history of Vienna - once home to Jewish luminaries of 20th-century culture such as Sigmund Freud, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Arnold Schoenberg, but later Adolf Eichmann’s testing ground for what would become the “Final Solution” that led to genocide of 6 million Jews - means its Jews are always on the alert.
Holocaust Perfected in Vienna
“Vienna was a very important place for the fate of all European Jews because the automated driving out of Jews was perfected here,” Joachim Riedl, author of several books on Jewish history and Vienna, said at a recent lecture. Other incidents further afield have heightened concerns. A radical Islamist gunman killed four Jews in France before being shot dead, Hungary’s far-right leader called for a list of prominent Jews to be drawn up help protect national security, and Jewish cemeteries have been desecrated in Austria’s eastern neighbour. Seeking to avoid being forever branded as the country that welcomed absorption by the Third Reich and refused to atone for it, Austria has made gestures to underline its disowning of both the Nazi past and previous manifestations of anti-Semitism.
Last year, Vienna renamed part of the elegant Ringstrasse boulevard circling the inner city that had been named after Karl Lueger, the mayor who modernised Vienna in the 19th century but became popular for his anti-Semitic rhetoric. “We cannot choose our history,” said parliament president Barbara Prammer. “We must bear this responsibility.” Rabbi Andrew Baker of the American Jewish Congress advocacy group has seen a marked change since a 1991 poll that he helped design found that most Austrians thought it was time to put the memories of the Holocaust behind them. “There was still a social anti-Semitism that kind of defied embarrassment,” he said. “The Austrians have come a long way since then, but they had a long way to go.”
Today’s Austrian Jewish community of 15,000 is diverse, formed mainly of post-war immigrants from eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. “This city is something very remarkable. It has a great Jewish history and a great Jewish community, but they have little to do with one another,” said Israeli-born writer and historian Doron Rabinovici, who has lived in Vienna since 1964.
Shoes Too Big
“This community is living in shoes that are too big for it,” said Rabinovici, best known in English for his book “Eichmann’s Jews: The Jewish Administration of Holocaust Vienna 1938-1945”. Before the 1938 annexation, the “Anschluss”, Austria’s Jewish population was 195,000, the same size as present-day Linz, a provincial capital not far from Hitler’s birthplace. Two-thirds of them were driven out in the “Aryanisation” programme immediately following the Anschluss and all but about 2,000 left behind were killed in concentration camps. Today’s Austrian Jewish community is almost entirely in Vienna. “The most terrible thing was not the way hundreds of thousands of Austrians celebrated Hitler’s arrival, but the enthusiasm with which they dispossessed the Jews,” recalled Ari Rath, a Holocaust survivor who fled Vienna at the age of 13. Rath, who went on to become the long-time editor of the Jerusalem Post, was back in the city of his birth speaking to a group of schoolchildren about his experiences, as part of a parliament-sponsored education project.
“We went from being people to non-persons overnight,” he said in fluent German, a language he suppressed for decades. “It’s a different Austria now, but you cannot forget it took until 41 years after the war … before Austrians began seriously to confront the Nazi past of this country.” He was referring to the so-called Waldheim Affair of the mid-1980s, in which President Kurt Waldheim was outed as having hidden his knowledge of German atrocities during his wartime past as a Nazi military officer. The case triggered a long-suppressed international debate about Austria’s history. Austrians, many of whom had wanted a union with Germany, maintained for decades that their country was Hitler’s first victim, ignoring the fact that huge, cheering crowds had greeted Hitler in March 1938 with flowers, Nazi flags and salutes. Within days of March 12, tens of thousands of Jews and dissenters were under arrest, imprisoned or packed off to concentration camps. Jews were shut out of jobs and schools, forced to wear yellow badges, and had their property confiscated.
Demanding, Not Begging
Ariel Muzicant served as president of Austria’s official Jewish organisation, the IKG, from 1998 until last year. As a young activist during the Waldheim affair, he was key in persuading the IKG to break with its low profile and tackle the backlash of anti-Jewish feeling that the affair unleashed. “I did not just go and beg. I told them: ‘These are our rights as a Jewish community. These are our demands.’ I wasn’t what you would call a very silent, docile president,” he said. Muzicant’s drive led to the restitution of Jewish property, laws to recognise Jewish institutions and customs, and the rebuilding or new construction of schools and synagogues. Things are not perfect, he said, but they could be a lot worse. “Vienna is one of the most beautiful places in the world. If you’re not Jewish, there’s no better place to live.” Muzicant’s successor at the IKG’s helm, Oskar Deutsch, has a less confrontational approach. “You don’t want to escalate it,” he said. “But it’s a short way from words to deeds.” The IKG says the number of anti-Semitic incidents in Austria of which it knows doubled last year to 135.
More common than overt attacks in Austria, where strict laws ban Nazi symbolism and parties, are appeals to shared prejudices through remarks or actions that go mostly unchallenged. The anti-foreigner Freedom Party of Heinz-Christian Strache, who posted the disputed cartoon, consistently scores above 20 percent in opinion polls and has a chance of joining a coalition government after elections this year. Still, many Viennese Jews freely stroll through the streets in Orthodox garb, especially in districts such as Leopoldstadt, the former Jewish ghetto where many Jews live again today. The IKG, while condemning anti-Jewish actions anywhere, is hoping to take advantage of the comparatively favourable position of Jews in Austria to boost its depleted population. It is working with the government to bring at least 150 Jewish families a year into the country, and has already helped some 20 families from neighbouring Hungary.
© The Forward
Racism, xenophobia, hate crime common concern for EU
12/3/2013- Racism, xenophobia and hate crimes represent a common concern for the whole European Union (EU) and no member state has a clean record when it comes to them, Vice-President of the EU Commission Viviane Reding said today. Reding took part in a European Parliament debate devoted to strengthening the fight against hate crime, racism and xenophobia. The EU justice commissioner cited a recent study by the Union’s Fundamental rights’ agency (FRA) which found that hate crime is a more serious problem in Europe than often recorded. In particular, the report said that hate crimes are “a daily reality” throughout the EU, which not only “harm the victim, they are generally prejudicial to fundamental rights, namely to human dignity and with respect to non-discrimination”.
Reding also emphasised that many of the hate crimes remain unreported and so not prosecuted, while those who commit them-unpunished. In her opinion, this was making the problem even bigger than one could see. The commission’s vice-president also pointed out that racism, xenophobia and hate crimes, as well as anti-Semitism, Islamophobia anti-gypsyism, were all manifestations “incompatible with European rules” and with “the basis on which Europe is founded”. Renate Weber, MEP from the ALDE group said that the EU seems to have not enough or not appropriate anti-bodies to fight discrimination and too much tolerance when it comes to hate speech or hate motivated crimes. She believes it is a matter of urgency that the framework decision against racism and xenophobia is revised, to include religious issues and intolerance against Roma.
According to Michael Cashman MEP (S&D,UK) LGBT people fall victims of hate speech and hate crime every day in Europe, and have the same need to see sanctions equalised across the EU. He presented data which says that only in the UK, 2,300 hate crimes were recorded against LGBT people last year. Cashman also asked whether sexual orientation and gender identity will be included in the list of protected grounds for hate crime, once FRA publishes its report on homophobia and transphobia expected in May. Meanwhile, the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) released a new study exploring how racism manifests itself today and how can racist and xenophobic attitudes and discourses be countered. According to ENAR, racism in Europe takes many forms, but more worryingly, an uninhibited form of racism has emerged, using freedom of expression and ‘white victimhood’ as justifications for promoting exclusion and discrimination.
© New Europe
Headlines 8 March, 2013
Urals neo-nazi gets 9.5 years for race-hate crimes (Russia)
A court in Russia’s Urals city of Yekaterinburg sentenced a man to 9.5 years in prison after finding him guilty of committing race-hate crimes, a spokeswoman for the court said.
7/3/2013- The court found Alexander Solovyov guilty of 21 attacks on people of non-Slavic appearance, including nine attacks connected with murders and attempted murders. According to investigators, all crimes were committed, when Solovyov was 17 years old. His accomplice, Alexander Minin, who was on the same trial, did not participate in murders and the court handed him a sentence of two years probation. Both of the suspects on trial were members of the so-called group Volksstrumm, set up by a gang of adolescents in the Urals in 2006. Armed with knives, brass knuckles, glass bottles, metallic chains and sticks they attacked non-Slavic-looking people and filmed their assaults in order to upload them later on internet. Four other members of Volksstrumm, which used to be the name for German Nazi militia in the last months of WWII, were also sentenced by court orders to different prison terms in 2011, with one of the leaders having received a 13-year long prison term.
© Searchlight Magazine
Greek police probe neo-Nazi hate speech threatening to turn immigrants into soap
6/3/2013- Police in Greece said on Wednesday they had opened an investigation after a report on Britain's Channel 4 television showed a Greek neo-Nazi threatening to turn immigrants into soap. The statements were made by Alexandros Plomaritis, a 44-year-old who ran for parliament for the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn in last year's election. "We are ready to open the ovens. We will turn them into soap...to wash cars and pavements. We will make lamps from their skin," Plomaritis said of undocumented migrants, whom he also termed "miasma" and "subhuman". Plomaritis was filmed ahead of the election handing out Golden Dawn tracts in an open-air market and chatting with his friends outside a cafe. Golden Dawn dismissed the report as "grotesque". "These views were stated to make people laugh," party spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris said in a statement. "The cafe regulars were making fun of the English," he said.
Golden Dawn, formerly on the fringe of Greek politics, has seen its ratings soar since last year in a country weary of austerity and political corruption. The party saw 18 deputies elected to parliament in June for the first time in its history and is the third most popular party in opinion polls. Rights groups have regularly accused Greek police of turning a blind eye to suspected Golden Dawn attacks against migrants and political opponents. Kasidiaris will be tried on Thursday for allegedly providing a getaway car to five men who beat up a student at a university campus in 2007. The investigation into the neo-Nazi candidate's hate language was instigated by a special police department on racist violence that was only recently set up following international pressure. Golden Dawn leader Nikos Michaloliakos gave a televised interview in May in which he denied the existence of gas chambers and crematoria during World War II. He also called Adolf Hitler "a major historical figure of the 20th century." The government condemned Michaloliakos at the time but he faced no legal sanctions.
Horley racial assault leaves man in hospital (UK)
8/3/2013- A racial assault in Horley town centre left a man needing hospital treatment. The victim, a man in his 20s, was outside the King's Head pub, Balcombe Road, at around 5.30pm on Sunday (March 3), when a pair of men approached him and shouted racist language at him. The victim was then punched in the face, leaving him with injuries to the mouth and jaw, which needed treatment at East Surrey Hospital. Surrey Police is appealing for witnesses to the attack. Investigating officer Detective Constable Audrey Cumisky from Reigate CID, said: "We believe the two offenders had been drinking in the King's Head before the incident and I would ask anyone who knows who they are or who witnessed the assault to contact Surrey Police. "This was an unprovoked and vicious assault and we will do all we can to find those responsible and bring them to justice." The first offender is described as a white man, of slim build, around 5ft 6ins tall, in his mid to late 20s with collar length black hair. He was wearing a blue and claret horizontal stripped Arsenal football top. His accomplice was also a white man, of stocky build, around 5ft 10ins tall, aged in his mid to late 20s with short brown hair. He was wearing a royal blue round neck t-shirt and was also seen wearing a black hooded top.
© This is Surrey Today
Councillor under investigation on three fronts over Islamophobia allegations (UK)
6/3/2013- The councillor kicked out of the Conservative group after Islamophobic comments were posted on his Facebook page is now facing three separate investigations. Chris Joannides, who represents Grange ward, has been mired in controversy after comments and images which mocked Muslims appeared on his Facebook page. After barring reporters from a councillor conduct meeting two weeks ago, the local authority has confirmed it has received complaints about Mr Joannides and an investigation is being carried out. However, council chiefs were unable to confirm when meetings held to scrutinise the councillor’s conduct would be held in public. A council spokesman said: “The matter is under investigation and we cannot comment further.” Enfield police have also confirmed that an investigation is being carried out into the disgraced councillor’s actions. A spokeswoman said they were looking at “an allegation of internet-based hate crime”.
Enfield Southgate Conservative Association held the first stage of its own investigations into accusations against the councillor last night. Speaking before the meeting, a spokesman from the association said: “We will meet to see if we will be taking the investigation further. “At this stage we have received no complaints from residents or members of the public.” Although the Conservative group on Enfield Council has removed the whip from Mr Joannides, he is still a member of the national Conservative Party. The Enfield Southgate association will decide whether further action to remove Mr Joannides from the national party should be taken. David Burrowes, Conservative MP for Enfield Southgate, refused to comment on Mr Joannides’ future within the party. He said it was a matter for the association to investigate. He added: “His future within the Conservative party is for the Enfield Southgate association to decide and I would not want to jeopardise investigations by commenting further at this stage.”
Mr Joannides denies being an Islamophobe.
Dressing like Hitler not a crime: Swedish court
A 24-year-old man who attended a party dressed as Nazi leader Adolf Hitler has been acquitted of hate crime charges by a Swedish court.
7/3/2013- The man was sporting an armband with a swastika, a dark suit, and a toothbrush moustache when he turned up at a costume party at a pub in Jönköping in south central Sweden in November 2012. The man admitted wearing the swastika-armband, but denied doing so constituted racial agitation (hets mot folkgrupp). The Jönköping District Court agreed, finding the man had no intention of appearing threatening or disrespectful in dressing up to look like the Nazi leader. The man's lawyer had expected her client to be acquitted of the charges. "My client went to a costume party and the point wasn't to express some political or other view, rather it was simply to represent a Nazi," lawyer Mats Erfors told the TT news agency. "He wasn't walking around the city with a swastika."
In its ruling, the court described how the man only dressed as Hitler after drawing the short straw among friends and thus being assigned the role as opposed to choosing it himself. The man's choice of costume, therefore, in no way indicates he sympathizes with the Nazis or their ideology, the court wrote. The ruling clearly differs from other cases in which people have been convicted of hate crimes for performing Nazi salutes in public. In 2011, a man from Småland in southern Sweden was fined for making Nazi salutes and shouting "Heil Hitler" outside a restaurant in Växsjö.
Earlier that same year, a 16-year-old boy from Västra Götaland in southwest Sweden was also found guilty of the same offence after he was caught making gestures in a McDonald's restaurant. In those cases and others, people bearing Nazi-inspired clothing and shouting slogans had clearly expressed their support for Nazi ideology, the court wrote. However, the 24-year-old was convicted of weapons crimes for having a shotgun and stun gun in his apartment.
© The Local - Sweden
Swedish mayor challenged on anti-Semitism meeting
Newspaper says Malmo official distorted truth when he claimed to have initiated conversation with US envoy
5/3/2013- A Swedish paper accused Malmo Mayor Ilmar Reepalu of lying about who initiated his meeting last year with the US State Department official in charge of monitoring anti-Semitism. Reepalu recently told the Swedish radio channel P1 that he initiated his meeting last April with Hannah Rosenthal, the former US special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, but the Swedish daily Varlden Idag challenged the mayor’s account. Varlden Idag quotes Rosenthal, who stepped down in October, as saying, “It was definitely I who asked for the meeting” after “several, several months of following anti-Semitic incidents [in Malmo] and Mayor Reepalu’s many comments.” She added, “It is always unfortunate when people try to rewrite history.”
Reepalu, who announced recently that he was stepping down as mayor in July after 28 years on the job, has said that Zionism and anti-Semitism were both “unacceptable forms of extremism,” that the Jewish community had been infiltrated by nationalists, and that Jews who don’t wish to be assaulted should not support Israel. A few dozen anti-Semitic attacks are documented every year in Malmo, a city of about 1,000 Jews where approximately 30 percent of the population is from a Muslim background, according to estimates.
Meanwhile, a flag with a swastika was placed on the door of a synagogue in Norrkoping, a city situated 85 miles southwest of Stockholm, the Norrkopings Tidningar local daily reported. Police are treating the March 1 incident as a hate crime.
© JTA News
Lithuanian singer attacked at concert
6/3/2013- Well-known and openly gay Lithuanian singer Ruslanas Kirilkinas became a victim of a homophobic attack. Kirilkinas was performing at a concert held in the Lithuanian town of Aukštadvaris on the 23rd of February when eggs were thrown at him from the audience, resulting in lip, chin and ear wounds. The singer was taken to hospital by ambulance and his injuries were treated. Based on video footage of the concert, the attacker was reportedly identified as a biker familiar to the police and who has been involved in organising anti-gay protests in connection with Baltic Pride with homophobic members of parliament Petras Gražulis and Kazimieras Uoka. The singer Kirilkinas has reached fame through participating in various television singing contests and semi-finals for the Lithuanian Eurovision candidate.
© ILGA Europe
Lech Walesa accused of hate speech after gay rights criticism (Poland)
Poland's first democratic-era president said he believed gay people had no right to sit on front benches in parliament
source: Associated Press in Warsaw
3/3/2013- A national committee devoted to fighting hate speech and other crimes in Poland has filed a complaint with prosecutors in Gdansk accusing Lech Walesa of promoting a "propaganda of hate against a sexual minority", after the Nobel peace prize-winner said gay people had no right to a prominent role in politics. Walesa said in a television interview on Friday that he believed gay people had no right to sit on the front benches in parliament and, if there at all, should sit in the back "or even behind a wall". "They have to know that they are a minority and adjust to smaller things, and not rise to the greatest heights," he told the private broadcaster TVN during a discussion of gay rights. "A minority should not impose itself on the majority." Walesa, Poland's first democratic-era president, is a deeply conservative Roman Catholic and a father of eight who has never advocated progressive social views. The democracy he helped create in 1989 from the turmoil of strikes and other protests has, however, been undergoing a profound social transformation in recent years.
A key symbol of the change is a new willingness to tackle gay rights, long a taboo subject. In 2011, voters elected Poland's first openly gay and first transsexual members of parliament. Walesa is no longer active in Polish political life, though he is often interviewed and asked his opinion on current affairs, as on Friday when he was asked about his views on civil partnerships and a new public gay rights campaign. Much of his time is spent giving lectures internationally on his role in fighting communism and on issues of peace and democracy. Jerzy Wenderlich, a deputy speaker of parliament with the Democratic Left Alliance, said: "From a human point of view his language was appalling. It was the statement of a troglodyte. Now nobody in their right mind will invite Lech Walesa as a moral authority, knowing what he said." Some said they were not surprised by Walesa's words. "I am surprised that only now we are noticing that Walesa is not in control of what he says and that he has views that are far from being politically correct," said Adam Bielan, a conservative Polish member of the European parliament.
© The Guardian
Danes alarmed by rising anti-Semitism
Rise in physical, verbal assaults in Denmark is in line with claims by Jewish communities that anti-Semitism is on the rise throughout Europe. Local Jews urge authorities to take action
3/3/2013- Danish officials say they’re alarmed by the frequency of anti-Semitic attacks. The rise in physical and verbal assaults in Denmark is in line with claims by Jewish communities that anti-Semitism is on the rise throughout Europe. At a forum staged by Copenhagen City Council, Danish Jews urged the authorities to take action. Claus Bentow and his family only feel completely secure in their apartment in a middle class area of Copenhagen. Here Bentow and his sons can freely wear their skullcaps. Outside they are forced to hide their religious identity. Like other Jewish families, they’ve been advised not to send their children to public schools. At a special forum designed to raise awareness about rising anti-Semitism, Bentow dismissed official figures that said there was about one attack a week in Denmark. He said the figure was much higher as so many assaults were not reported because of the perceived impotence of police investigations.
The audience listened in sorrow as a boy with a Muslim father and Jewish mother described what happened to him in a Muslim quarter of the city. "I heard someone call me a Jewish pig, go to hell, throw a stone at me," said 16-year-old Moran Jakob. "I tried to protect my girlfriend of course because they tried to hit her, and one of them took a little knife and stabbed me in the leg." After Israel’s clashes with Palestinians in Gaza, the Israeli ambassador to Copenhagen has warned visiting Jews to be extremely discreet and not to wear religious symbols in public. What distresses Jews is that during World War II, Denmark saved their community by smuggling its members to Sweden. Now Denmark is no longer a safe haven. One of the impacts of this growing anti-Semitism is that an exodus of Jews has begun. They are moving to countries where Jews can live in comparative safety such as Israel, the United States and Britain.
© Ynet News