ICARE Hate Crime News - Archive April 2013

Headlines 26 April, 2013

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Headlines 26 April, 2013

Anne Frank, Mehmet Sahin and Dutch anti-Semitism

by Rabbi Abraham Cooper 

26/4/2013- Last week, I joined the never-ending line of pilgrims of memory waiting their turn to walk in Anne’s shoes — if only for a few moments. The teary-eyed 30-something woman in front of me clutched her well-worn copy of Anne’s diary in Korean as we slowly ascended to the attic within whose walls a young Jewish girl penned her inner thoughts as she dared to hope of a bright future that never came. But if millions flock to Anne’s hiding place to pay homage to one beautiful Jewish girl murdered by the Nazis, too many people in The Netherlands today and across Europe show no such respect for living Jews.

To the contrary:
The Anne Frank Foundation reported severe anti-Semitic acts have increased by more than 50 percent, with 2,700 incidents reported overall in 2011. MDI, a group that tracks Internet hate lists anti-Semitism/Holocaust denial as accounting for 28 percent of online hate in 2012, with sites targeting Muslims (who outnumber Dutch Jews by 20 to 1) at 18 percent. On the political front, parliamentarians of the Freedom party, led by Geert Wilders, have proposed legislation to ban shechita, Jewish ritual slaughter.

The Dutch collective memory of their own complicated record during World War II is increasingly wobbly:
+ The municipality of the village of Bronckhorst has decided that its official delegation on National Memorial Day on May 4 will also honor fallen soldiers of Nazi Germany who are buried in the village, in addition to the Dutch dead.
+ Jews from Amsterdam who survived the Holocaust, either in hiding or in Nazi concentration camps, were later fined for failing to pay taxes during the Nazi occupation. According to the Dutch paper, Het Parool, many Jews had their homes confiscated, ostensibly for failing to pay taxes and those homes were then given to members of the Dutch Nazi Party. For years after WWII, city officials continued trying to collect taxes from the few Jews lucky enough to have survived the Shoah.
+   Last year the Dutch Prime Minister reiterated the government’s refusal to apologize for the apathy that the Dutch government-in-exile demonstrated toward the roundup and murder of most of the country’s Jews during the Holocaust. Why? The Jewish community had not asked for one he argued. Almost all other European governments have since apologized or admitted guilt for the conduct of authorities under Germany’s occupation.

As for Israel, there seems to be much “moral clarity”. Over 38 percent of Dutch respondents to a poll conducted by the respected Ebert Foundation said they believed that Israel intends to carry out a war of extermination against Palestinians, the way the Germans exterminated the Jews! The Dutch government wants legislation imposing labels on all products from the disputed West Bank. No such law has been proposed for products from Tibet, Turkish-occupied Cyprus, or disputed parts of the Sahara occupied by Morocco.

For a decade now, European polls, including those conducted by the European Commission and the BBC, consistently rank Israel among the top threats to peace in the world. In neighboring Germany, respected authors and media pundits see Israel -- not Iran -- as a nuclear threat to the world. So in some ways, the Der Stuermer-like cartoon that appeared this week in a prominent Dutch newspaper shouldn’t surprise us. Alongside the nuke-threatening North Korean leader, is the real menace to the world, Israel-depicted as the conniving bald-faced lying, hooked-nosed Chasidic Jew. While I raised these issues with the Deputy Prime Minister of the Netherlands, parliamentarians, and the media, the main reason for my visit was to show solidarity with a true Dutch hero — a Muslim, Mehmet Sahin.

A Dutch Muslim doctoral student, Sahin works with youth in the city of Arnhem. A few weeks ago he interviewed a group of Dutch-Turkish youth on Nederlands TV2, during which several declared their unabashed hatred of Jews and open admiration of Hitler. “What Hitler did to the Jews is fine with me,” one said. “Hitler should have killed all the Jews,” said another, adding, “What Hitler said about Jews is that there will be one day when you see that I am right that I killed all the Jews. And that day will come.” A shocked Sahin made the mistake of committing on air to do whatever it took to remove the hatred from these teens. The result? Denunciation by his community leaders at Friday prayers at their local mosque for having the audacity to stand up against anti-Semitism, denunciation as a “Jew” by neighbors, and death threats. The police have done virtually nothing to punish his tormentors, and he and his newlywed wife were literally forced into hiding. I told Dutch officials that Sahin should be hailed as a role model for the people of the Netherlands, not relegated to the anonymity of a Witness Protection Program.

Recently, Sahin wrote:
“Within a couple of days, I will move to another city of the Netherlands. My personal situation/story is a shame of the European civilization because it is inconceivable that such barbarism can occur in this country. After what happened in the last three weeks, I understood the eternal loneliness and pain of the Jewish population. In the rest of my life, I will tell the whole world that we all must resist this aggression…” A few days ago I presented Mehmet Sahin with more than 500 messages of solidarity from around the world. I invite you to add yours c/o information@wiesenthal.com.

What becomes of Mehmet Sahin will inform us about the future course of Dutch society: Will it be true to Anne Frank’s vision of a better world or to the infamy of those Dutch collaborators who sealed her fate.
The Jewish Journal

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2012 Annual Report of the Racist Violence Recording Network (Greece)

Introduction
25/4/2013- The present report consists of two parts: First, the quantitative and qualitative findings of recording incidents of racist violence, through interviewing victims, by organizations participating in the Racist Violence Recording Network during 2012; and, second the Network’s positions on state responses and initiatives to combat racist crimes, including the adoption or amendment of relevant legislation or initiatives to do so.
Original version (in Greek)

1) Findings
During the period January-December 2012, the Racist Violence Recording Network documented, through interviews with victims, 154 incidents of racist violence, of which 151 were committed against refugees and migrants and 3 against European citizens (1 Romanian, 1 Bulgarian and 1 Greek). Location of incidents: 107 incidents occurred within the geographical area of the Municipality of Athens, and particularly in areas of the city centre, such as Aghios Panteleimonas, Attica Square, America Square and other areas around Omonia Square, while 23 incidents were recorded in the broader area of Attica prefecture. Moreover, 13 incidents occurred in Patras, 3 in Corinth, while 3 incidents recorded in Igoumenitsa and Evros have occurred in detention centers. Finally, incidents have also taken place in Rhodes, Chios, Konitsa and Nea Manolada Ilias. The majority of incidents occurred in public places, while 6 were more particularly recorded on public transport. There are also 7 incidents which occurred in detention facilities (police stations and detention centers) and 16 were perpetrated in private places such as migrants’ houses, shops and places used as lodges.

Characteristics of the attacks: The majority of incidents concern physical attacks against foreigners, while the types of crimes are mainly severe body injuries (in 66 cases) and assaults (in 76 cases). Threats against foreigners have also been reported as well as cases of verbal abuse and property damage. It is worth noting that at least 22 incidents combine property damage and assault against a person (or persons), as shows the case involving the arson of a barber’s shop owned by a Pakistani national near the area of Metamorfosi. Most incidents occurred at night or in the early morning hours.

The Racist Violence Recording Network registered a homicide case in 2012, following communication with the victim’s family; the victim was a 31 year-old Egyptian citizen who died after 17 days in coma after being savagely beaten. This incident, like the atrocious murder of a 19 year-old Iraqi boy at the center of Athens in August 2012 and that of a 26 year-old Pakistani male who was fatally attacked by two people on a motorcycle near the area of Petralona at the beginning of 2013, constitute a dramatic reminder that violent attacks with racist motives are not merely a continuous phenomenon, but one the degree of violence of which is frighteningly increasing within the Greek society.

The victims: The victims who approached the members of the Network and reported the incidents, consisted of 149 men (average age 27 years old) and 5 women (average age 24,6 years old), mainly from Afghanistan (47), Pakistan (13), Algeria (12), Bangladesh (12), Egypt (10) Morocco (7), Somalia (6), Soudan (6), Guinea (6), Tunisia (5) and Iraq (4). Nationalities of victims also include Iran, Mauritania, Syria, Eritrea, Congo, Senegal, Palestine, Comoros, the Ivory Coast, Albania, Georgia, Gambia and Ghana. In addition, the Network recorded 3 European citizens: 1 Romanian, 1 Bulgarian and 1 Greek who was victim of homophobic attack.

As regards the legal status of the victims, except those who have the nationality of an EU Member State, 44 were asylum seekers, 4 were recognized refugees, 15 were holders of residence permits and 79 held no legal documents or were under deportation order (in 8 cases the victim’s status was unknown).

In the vast majority of cases, the victims consider the fact that their characteristic as foreigners is the reason for the attack; they believe that they were targeted because either of their skin color or of any other characteristic revealing the fact they were not natives (the majority of migrant victims were Muslims). It is worth noting that 2 out of 5 female victims believe they were attacked because they were wearing the hijab. Also, in most cases, the victims themselves were able to identify the motive of the attack, since the attacks followed a question or a comment about the origin of the victims and were accompanied by verbal insults and threats against the foreigners. In many other instances (in particular cases where the victims were present in the country only for a short period of time and were unaware of racist violence incidents), the racist motive of the attack was clearly expressed to them by the perpetrators when victims requested on the reason of the attack.

Finally, the Racist Violence Recording Network recorded for the first time an attack where the motive was related to the sexual orientation of the victim. This record should not lead to the conclusion that there were no such attacks in recent years, but it is linked to the mobilization and participation of LGBT organisations in the Network only recently, and their active follow-up of relevant attacks.

The perpetrators: The perpetrators in the recorded attacks were men, with the exception of 8 incidents where the perpetrators acted as a group in which the participation of women has also been recorded. At least in those cases where victims could assess the age of the perpetrators, the average age was 27 years old and they were in the vast majority Greek citizens. Incidents where the perpetrators belonged to different ethnic groups have also been recorded (i.e. attack at the centre of Athens in which ethnic Albanian immigrants participated). In only 6 out of 154 incidents the perpetrator acted alone.

According to the victims’ testimonies, in 91 cases, the perpetrators are believed to belong to extremist group. This fact also emerges from the qualitative elements recorded concerning the attacks: in these instances, the perpetrators are believed to act in an organized manner and in groups, moving either by motorcycle or on foot, often being accompanied by aggressive dogs. They are dressed in black and at times with military trousers, wearing helmets or having their faces covered. In similar attacks the participation of minors is also recorded. Most incidents occurred after sunset or in the early morning hours. Motorcycle or foot “patrols” by people dressed in black are described as the most common practice; they act as self-proclaimed vigilante groups who attack refugees and migrants in the streets, squares or public transportation stops.

The victims speak of areas in Athens which have become inaccessible to them due to the fear of being attacked. In at least 8 cases, the victims or witnesses to the attacks reported that they recognized persons associated to Golden Dawn among the perpetrators, because either they wore the insignia of the organization, or they were seen participating in public events of the organization in the area, or they were known as associated with the local branch of the organization. The Racist Violence Recording Network also recorded the following important cases: an assault perpetrated by 20 people who broke into a migrant’s house in Perama, leaving two people injured (one of whom had to undergo extensive face surgery), the incursion in the house of the Imam of the Pakistani Community in the area of Sepolia and 3 cases of invasion in abandoned buildings used by migrants as a lodge (2 in Athens and 1 in Patra). Moreover, at the end of October 2012, an attack against an Afghan restaurant was recorded following a demonstration of far-right supporters at the centre of Athens, while witnesses reported other various attacks on shops owned by migrants in the same evening.

Involvement of police personnel and public servants in racist attacks: There is a distinct category of 25 incidents where police and racist violence are interlinked, 7 of which occurred in locations where migrants are detained (Igoumenitsa police station, Attica Aliens Directorate, Agios Panteleimonas police station, Chimoniou Orestiada police station, Vrachati police station), while in 17 other cases in 2012, the involvement of law enforcement officials in racist attacks was also reported. In the reports of these incidents are involved officers on duty who resort to illegal acts and violent practices while carrying out routine checks. There are also cases where victims report that they were brought to police stations, were detained and ill-treated for a few hours, as well as reports of legal documents being destroyed during these operations. There is also 1 incident alleging cooperation between law enforcement officials and members of extremist groups during an assault on a migrant’s house in Chios. Finally, 6 cases occurred on and around public transport, in 2 of which the perpetrators were public servants: 1 incident where an Egyptian woman was verbally abused by a bus driver who shut the door on her baby’s carriage and 1 incident where an Afghan young male was reportedly beaten by bus controllers because he did not present a validated ticket.

Intensity of the attacks and use of weapons: The recording of incidents reveals several qualitative elements regarding the nature of the attacks: the violence of the attacks increases, while there is greater tolerance or fear by witnesses who do not intervene to assist victims during the attacks. In many cases victims report the use of weapons during the attacks, such as clubs, crowbars, folding batons, chains, brass knuckles, spray, knives and broken bottles, while the use of large dogs has been repeatedly reported in the area of Aghios Panteleimonas and Attica square. The victims suffer multiple injuries such as fractures, sprains, contusions, lesion injuries, abrasions, eyesight and hearing damages, symptoms of post-traumatic stress, etc. Lodging of official complaints and the response of state and local authorities: Only 24 victims have addressed the competent authorities to file an official complaint and initiate judicial procedures, while 23 would like to do so. The rest do not wish to take further actions, most of the times because they lack legal documents and are therefore afraid that they will be arrested and deported. Indeed, instead of dealing with complainants as potential victims of a crime, the police authorities prioritize control of the victim’s legal residence in the country and abstain from the duty to investigate the reported incident.

In many cases, the victims of racist attacks stated that they attempted to report the incidents to the police but were faced with unwillingness or deterrence and, in some cases, the actual refusal of the police authorities to respond. Moreover, some victims did not wish to lodge a complaint because they had already been victims of police violence or because they argued that the perpetrators were associated with the police and / or the Golden Dawn and were afraid of being targeted.

Finally, there is a widespread impression that, even if the victims report the incident to the competent authorities, they will find no justice. A significant, though not general, trend is that victims do not receive any substantial assistance from the police, and, on the opposite, they often face indifference and are also deterred from officially denouncing the incident. There are numerous cases recorded in 2012 illustrating this phenomenon: 1) a victim alleges that when trying to report the incident, he was told “there is nothing the police can do, that’s how things are in Greece”; 2) another victim reports that a police officer retorted “we know the game, you, foreigners, play, you’d better leave”; 3) a victim reports that while he was being beaten in the street, a police officer intervened but instead of arresting the perpetrators, he kicked him and told him to leave from the area; 4) a victim was deprived of his asylum applicant’s document (pink card) while trying to file a complaint in police station and had to return accompanied by a lawyer in order to collect it back; 5) a victim who was beaten while exiting a police station reports that the attack was linked to a prior threatening and offensive behavior of a police officer in his regard.

These indicative reports show that a significant number of prosecuting agents consider racist attacks as a daily and ordinary phenomenon, they dismiss the reported cases as insignificant and show, therefore, no will to tackle it. They avoid intervening during racist attacks and when they do so, they treat victims with indifference and mistrust, and/or discourage them from filing official complaints. The Racist Violence Recording Network assesses that the findings were exceptionally alarming, while increasing concern rises from the fact that the incidents recorded by the Network’s members are only the tip of the iceberg. The geographically limited range of the participating organizations, the spreading fear amongst the victims which often prevents them from approaching even the organizations where they could report the incidents anonymously, as well as the inability of organizations to provide effective protection to the victims, are strong indications that the number of racist violence attacks recorded by the Network is much smaller than the actual one. This conclusion is reinforced from the frequent media reports of incidents in areas different from the ones covered by the participating organizations, revealing that racist violence is spreading.

2) Positions of the Racist Violence Recording Network on state responses and initiatives to combat racist crimes
Access to lodging official complaints and victim protection: The Racist Violence Recording Network welcomed the legislative initiative by the Ministry of Public Order and Citizen Protection introducing special Departments and Offices within the Hellenic Police aiming at tackling the phenomenon of racist violence (P.D. 132/2012). This initiative could contribute towards addressing and preventing violence with racist and xenophobic motives. However, it should be noted that any initiative of the Ministry of Public Order and Citizen Protection will bear no meaningful results unless reports/ testimonies/ complaints about police arbitrary behavior are effectively addressed, both when these concern a wrongdoing of police officers during the performance of their duties or the reproduction of biased reactions towards the victims (arising from personal opinions or due to the lack of targeted training); both may result in direct or indirect behaviors with racist motives that constitute violations of human rights. Hence, the effective and unconditional condemnation by the State of any act of police violence and arbitrary behavior is imperative.

Moreover, the provisions of P.D. 132/2012 fail to address issues of major importance for the effectiveness of these special Departments, namely the selection and recruitment procedure of their personnel, as well as their respective training. Members of the Racist Violence Recording Network participated as trainers in the two-day training organized for the newly appointed officials, which by no means is considered sufficient for the increased training needs on such a sensitive and complex issue. The Network therefore suggests a mandatory process of continuous training, including on up-to-date developments, and providing expert knowledge, for the police officers appointed in these Departments. To that end, the Network proposes the elaboration of Guidelines on how to address hate crimes and offers to actively contribute to their drafting. In any case, frequent complaints alleging unlawful actions with racist motives perpetrated by police officers, reveal the necessity for a transparent selection process, under objective criteria, so that staff likely to undermine the effective functioning of these Departments is excluded.

It should also be noted that the above legislative initiative lacks guarantees for the safe lodging of official complaints by persons who do not possess legal residence documents. Yet, effective prevention and combat of racist crimes presupposes the effective ability of the victim to report such a crime under safe conditions, without the fear of being found in such a position that would dissuade him/her from reporting the crime. The State should encourage the victims – regardless of their legal status in the country – to report any threats or attacks against them. Of significant importance is the fact that out of the 154 victims whose testimonies were recorded by the Network in 2012, the vast majority did not wish to file a complaint due to fear mainly related to the lack of legal documents. Undocumented migrants, who form the majority of the victims recorded, even in case they are willing to report the attacks to the authorities, are immediately arrested upon arrival at the police station with a view to be deported, and as a consequence they are deterred from reporting any racist attack against them. In addition, during judicial procedures against the perpetrator, persons without legal documents are once again dissuaded from participating in the process since they are threatened with arrest and deportation.

In order to tackle the above issue and reduce subsequent impunity of the perpetrators, the Racist Violence Recording Network suggests to explicitly provide for the suspension of arrest and deportation decisions against victims who file a complaint, complemented by the granting of a residence permit on humanitarian grounds, similar to the protection framework for victims of trafficking. More specifically, it is suggested, in cases where victims and/or witnesses without legal residence documents report incidents of racist violence, to suspend arrest and deportation decisions, following a special prosecutor act which will at first verify the grounds of the complaint and then recognize a victim or witness of a racist crime as such, allowing for the granting of a special protection status (residence permit on humanitarian grounds) for the time required until the perpetrator(s) is/are prosecuted and sentenced and until the final judgment in the criminal case against the offender is reached. In short, the State should give out the message that the physical integrity and safety of any person living on Greek territory are absolutely respected.

To this end, the Racist Violence Recording Network considers that the Law Proposal «Combatting racism and xenophobia», recently submitted before the Parliament, could form the basis for a dialogue towards the effective response to racist violence, provided that some necessary amendments are made. The said Law Proposal is a remarkable step forward, to the extent that it suggests the granting of a residence permit on grounds of “public interest” to victims and key witnesses of racist crimes, following a decision for the suspension of the deportation process and protection from return. The Network welcomes the inclusion of the above provisions in the Law Proposal, however, it re-iterates that the granting of a residence permit to victims and key witnesses of racist crimes should not only apply where the “public interest” is exceptionally invoked. Instead, granting a residence permit on humanitarian grounds (as defined in Article 44 in conjunction with article 46 of L. 3386/2005) to victims who report incidents of racist violence, as well as to key witnesses, should be envisaged as an option until the perpetrator(s) is/are prosecuted and punished.

Adequate investigation of racist motive: The Racist Violence Recording Network welcomes the appointment of a Special Prosecutor responsible for the coordination and the proper investigation of racist crimes by prosecuting authorities and looks forward to a fruitful cooperation. Given the continued escalation of attacks against refugees, immigrants and other groups by organized extremist groups, any legal instrument aiming at strongly tackling the upsurge of manifestations of racist violence should include adequate investigation of racial motives and provisions enabling the effective prosecution of such acts.

The provisions introduced under L. 4139/2013 «On addictive substances and other provisions» of the Ministry of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights, which was recently adopted by the Greek Parliament, although they are in a positive direction, are not sufficient to tackle the problem. In particular, the provision stipulates that the sentence to imprisonment for hate crimes, according to Article 79 par. 3 of the Criminal Code on aggravating circumstances, will not be subject to suspension. However, the Network highlights that the crucial issue for tackling hate crimes is not linked to the suspension or not of a sentence to imprisonment.

In practice, the impunity of the perpetrators is a result of the fact that the relevant provision of Article 79 par. 3 of the Criminal Code (which was added through a legislative amendment in 2008 and stipulates that the perpetration of an act of hatred on national, racial, or religious grounds or hatred due to differentiated sexual orientation constitutes an aggravating circumstance) is not applied by neither the police nor the Prosecutor at the stage of the criminal prosecution; it is applied only at the stage of the decision on the sentence, thus, after the guilt or innocence of the offender has been established. It is noteworthy that this Article has never been used by the judicial authorities to date. It is therefore necessary to take an immediate legislative initiative related to the introduction of distinct offences (substantive offences) for crimes when they are accompanied by a racist motive; this proposal was recently presented by the Prosecutors of the Supreme Court to the Minister of Justice, while the recent Law Proposal «Combating racism and xenophobia» is also in the same direction.

Along with the explicit commitment of the prosecuting authorities to record, from the moment a complaint has been filed, any events or suspicions of the victim that relate to racist motives, the adoption of law provisions is required as follows: a) provide that the crime committed with racist motive is a crime with distinct offences, or, b) provide, in relation to some specific types of crime (including, indicatively, those against life, physical integrity, personal freedom and property), for a sentence increase if the crime is committed with racist motive, or, c) provide for the racist motive to constitute a general aggravating circumstance, including as regards the criminal sentence. In that manner, the exercise and initiation of the prosecution will be enabled, based on a specific type of crime that will allow the investigation of the racist motive already from the beginning of the criminal proceedings, including the stages of interrogation and judicial process.

Nevertheless, we reiterate that notwithstanding any legislative amendment, the State should provide adequate training and guidance to the prosecuting and judicial authorities involved so that the racist motive is investigated at all stages of the criminal proceedings. Adequate investigation of attacks on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity: The Racist Violence Recording Network welcomes the amendment brought by L. 4139/2013 «On addictive substances and other provisions» which foresees the explicit inclusion of gender identity in Article 79 par. 3, namely as one of the grounds constituting an aggravating circumstance when committing a criminal offence. It is considered a positive step that makes the country’s legislation to be in conformity with European laws and practices.

However, P.D. 132/2012, introducing special Departments and Offices within the Hellenic Police aimed at tackling the phenomenon of racist violence, limits its scope only to victims of acts of hatred “on national, racial, or religious grounds”. Consequently, both the P.D. and any future legislative initiative should be expanded to include the protection of people who have been victimized due to sexual orientation and gender identity.
Greek Left Review

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In a case being backed by a leading anti-racism group, a trial began in France on Friday in which the defendant stands accused of a racially-motivated attack on a white man in a Paris metro station. 

26/4/2013- The trial of a 29-year-old accused of a racially motivated attack on a white man in a Paris metro station began at a court house in the French capital on Friday, in a legal case being backed by a leading anti-racism group. According to the prosecution, the accused man assaulted the victim after first using a string of racial slurs - including “sale Français” (dirty Frenchman) and “sale blanc” (dirty white). It is also alleged that he used a broken bottle as a weapon during the attack, which took place in 2010. While this is not the first accusation of incidents of so-called ‘anti-white’ racism in France, this latest case is the first to have been backed by leading anti-racism group, The international league against racism and anti-Semitism (Licra), which is supporting the prosecution.

"Insulted because he was white"
In an interview with French radio station RFI, Licra vice-president Philippe Schmidt said he believes there was clearly a racial dimension to the attack. “He was insulted because he was white," said Schmidt. Although only one suspect is standing trial, there were reportedly several others involved in the assault. "They came after him because of the colour of his skin," Schmidt commented. "The guy is white, the guy is French, and that's why they came after him." The notion of whites as the victims of racist abuse is not new in France, but remains highly controversial. In 2012, Jean-Francois Copé, now the head of France’s right wing political party the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) but then its general secretary, sparked outrage and a nation-wide debate when he published a book in which he claimed anti-white racism is a growing problem in French towns. “This racism is as unacceptable as every other form of racism - we must denounce it as we condemn all other forms of discrimination,” he wrote. Copé’s comments drew unfavourable comparisons with the far right Front National, led by Marine Le Pen.

Licra and far right?
However, Schmidt insists Licra’s involvement in the trial does not equate to support of far right views. "At the end of the road they [the far right] want the same thing, but not for the same reason," he told RFI. "They have a very archaic and extremist view of society. They think it should be French, white and Catholic. That's not the way I see the world." Meanwhile, the defendant in the Paris court case admits to being present at the scene of the attack, but denies allegations of racism, saying that he became involved in the altercation only to protect a friend. Should he be found guilty, he could face a €75,000 fine as well as up to five years in prison. The trial continues.
France 24.

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Police up security amid 'homophobic' attacks (France)

Amid claims of a sharp rise in homophobic incidents, and after recent high-profile attacks on gay people in Paris and Nice, police in the French capital have stepped up their presence in neighbourhoods popular among the gay community

23/4/2013-  The chief of Paris police announced on Monday that he has increased officer numbers in areas particularly frequented by members of the gay community, to avoid a repeat of recent savage attacks on gay people in the French capital. The city’s police commissioner, Bernard Boucault, told local officials that law enforcement numbers had been “reinforced in the busiest places and times in the most affected neighbourhoods,” according to TF1 television. The move comes amid claims of a recent rise in homophobic incidents and after a number of high-profile and shocking attacks on gay people. This is a phenomenon which some have attributed to the increasingly radical rhetoric of those opposed to the government’s bill to legalize gay marriage and adoption for same-sex couples.

Earlier in April, president of gay-rights group “SOS Homophobie”, Elizabeth Ronzier told The Local: “We have seen a 30 percent rise in the number of homophobic incidents since October. This is a result of the opposition towards the gay marriage bill. “These people say they are not homophobic but they are. Homophobia has become trivialized, which is proved by the number of verbal assaults on gay people, which often to lead to physical assaults,” Ronzier added. She was speaking after the savage beating of Wilfred de Bruijn and his boyfriend Olivier on the night of April 6th, in the 19th arrondissement of Paris and last Friday a gay man was punched and kicked unconscious as he left a bar in Lille. Gay bars in Bordeaux and Lille have also been targeted by vandals.

Addressing these assaults, which have been widely condemned as homophobic in nature, Boucault reassured local officials on Monday that “everything - absolutely everything - is being done to identify those who committed these, and to hand them over to the courts,” according to TF1. The police commissioner added that contacts had been established with the owners of establishments popular with the gay community, and that a “very thorough intelligence service” had been set up, to counter any possible attacks on the LGBT community. Members of Paris's gay community who spoke to The Local on Tuesday said they felt a rise in homophobic atmosphere in recent weeks and made it clear where the blame lay. "It's obviously because of the people fighting against gay marriage. The assaults against gay people are sad, but on the other hand it shows the true colors of the people against this law. These attacks will actually work against them," said Philippe Blaise, at the famous Open Cafe in the Marais.

"They say they are not homophobic but they are and at the very least they are intolerant. "I think in a years time, the people who were at these protests will feel ashamed of what they did," he added. At another famous Marais café, Carrefour, Philippe Benhamou said the protests had shown that homophobia has always existed in France. "For me, what's more important than the police increasing their presence, is that they take any kind of homophobic attack seriously and they the culprits are severely punished." Benhamou, who was raised in Canada said he has been shocked by the level of opposition to gay marriage in France. "I always considered France as an open country, but this opposition comes from deep down in their culture." Another member of the gay community, Jean-Pierre Breul, told the Local he expected the protests to continue even if the bill becomes law. "These protests are political now, the UMP are using the as a chance to attack Hollande. They are manipulating people."
The Local - France

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Gay man beaten in latest homophobic attack (France)

A gay man was beaten unconscious by thugs at the weekend in the latest apparent homophobic attack in France. The assault comes amid mounting tensions and daily protests ahead of a crucial government vote that would legalize gay marriage in France.

22/4/2013- A gay couple were attacked as they left a night club in the Mediterranean city of Nice at the weekend in the latest apparent homophobic attack in France. Raphaël Leclerc was punched and kicked after being jumped by three men when they left a club at around 5am on Saturday. The incident comes just two weeks after Wilfred de Bruijn was savagely beaten in the 19th arrondissement of Paris, earlier this month after he and his boyfriend were attacked in the street. Last week, amid increased tensions over France’s divisive gay marriage bill that is set to be passed into law on Tuesday, there were attacks on gay bars in the northern city of Lille and Bordeaux in the south west. Gay rights groups have told The Local they have recorded a 30 percent rise in homophobic incidents in recent months, which they blame on the continued opposition to the gay marriage bill.

Just like De Bruijn, Leclerc posted the picture of his battered face on Facebook to try and raise awareness of homophobia. “I left the nightclub with my boyfriend at around 5.35am on Saturday. We were not kissing and we were not holding hands,” explained the 24-year-old cabaret dancer. “A couple of minutes later there were three , who were shouting "hey gays" at us, and then they ran at us.” The victim was then asked by his aggressors if he was French or Chechen. He replied French before being set upon. He was punched and kicked until he lost consciousness. The Secretary General of the LGBT Centre for Côte d’Azur Jean-Marie Pottier said: “In this story, homophobia may not have been the origin of the violence but it played its part.”

With further anti-gay marriage protests planned in the coming days and weeks tensions around the issue are unlikely to fall in the coming weeks. The recent homophobic attacks have been condemned by the leaders of Manif pour Tous, the main campaign group opposed to the proposed law. Recent polls suggest a majority of French people are in favour of legalising gay marriage. With the key vote set to pass through the National Assembly on Tuesday the first gay marriages are set to be celebrated in France in just a matter of weeks.
The Local - France

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Rabbi and son injured in Paris knife attack (France)

23/4/2013- A rabbi and his 18-year-old son were injured in an attack in Paris by a knife-wielding man who reportedly shouted "Allahu Akbar" -- "God is great." Police arrested the man immediately after the attack Tuesday, the French news agency AFP reported. The rabbi was identified by the French news sites Dreuz.info and JSS News as "Rabbi Baroukh," 50, of a synagogue on Saunier Street in Paris. Both he and his son were attacked outside the synagogue and were rushed to hospital as police subdued the attacker, according to Dreuz. The rabbi "sustained a deep cut to the neck. His injury was not life-threatening but required immediate surgery. The son sustained several superficial cuts,” the SPCJ security unit of French Jewish communities wrote in a statement. The name of the synagogue is Beth-El, according to SPCJ.

“The two men tried to escape their attacker and return to the synagogue. He chased them back inside until passer-by intervened and police came,” Sammy Ghozlan, president of the National Bureau of Vigilance against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA, nonprofit watchdog organization told JTA. The attacker was not named but Dreuz reported he was 28 years old and has Iranian origins, and was wearing a uniform from the Vénissieux psychiatric hospital. JSSNews reported that he shouted "Allahu Akbar" -- "God is great" -- during the attack.
JTA News

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Amnesty International - Macedonia must prevent homophobic attacks

Saturday’s attack against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) activists in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, yet again underscores the urgent need for protection in law against homophobic and transphobic violence and any other form of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, said Amnesty International today.

23/4/2013- On 20 April, activists from the NGOs, LGBT United and the Coalition for the Sexual and Health Rights of Marginalized Communities were attacked by a group of football supporters in the Macedonian town of Bitola. The activists, carrying a rainbow flag, had been in the main street of the town, carrying flags and placards and distributing posters on the rights of LGBTI people, as part of a project -“Civic initiative for LGBT Rights”. Three of the activists were attacked by four men, who were later joined by three others. The attackers violently grabbed their posters, and used them to hit the activists on their heads and faces. They subjected the activists to verbal abuse, spat and pushed them around. When an activist attempted to use his mobile phone to call for help, one of the attackers grabbed it and threw it to the ground, threatening to kill him.

As soon as the perpetrators left the activists immediately reported the attack to the police, and called on the Ministry of Interior police to immediately trace the perpetrators and bring them to justice. Following the attack the LGBT United group received several threats of physical attacks, some amounting to death threats, on its Facebook page. A photo of the activists was also posted on the official Facebook page of the Macedonian Sport Fans' group, with the message: “Never again will faggots step foot in Bitola”. This is the latest episode of violence against LGBTI people in Macedonia. In October, the LGBTI support centre in Skopje was attacked, and in November in advance of a march on Tolerance Day, LGBT activists were attacked in the capital Skopje.

The Macedonian authorities have so far failed to include protection from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity in its legislation. Nor is there any provision in law for the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes, including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Amnesty International urges the Macedonian authorities to ensure that prompt, impartial and effective investigations are opened into the recent attack in Bitola and any attacks on the lives or property of LGBTI individuals or organizations. Any alleged homophobic or transphobic hate motive should be thoroughly investigated and alleged perpetrators should be brought to trial in fair proceedings.

The government should immediately take measures to amend anti-discrimination legislation so as to include sexual orientation and gender identity as specific grounds for discrimination. Further, in the absence of legislation prohibiting hate crime, the government should, without further delay and in consultation with LGBT organizations, introduce such legislation, specifically including hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as ethnicity, race, gender and other grounds recognized in international standards.
ILGA Europe

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Is Lithuania Tolerant Enough to Lead Europe?

A current of hostility to gays and other minorities undercuts the country�s efforts to burnish its image as it takes the EU helm.
By Linas Jegelevicius

26/4/2013- With hundreds of concerts under his belt, some in the Lithuanian hinterlands shunned by other pop musicians, Ruslanas Kirilkinas has seen it all: tears, smiles, grins, hugs, kisses, and other signs of encouragement for the crooner’s heart-rending encores. The 29-year-old singer concedes that sometimes, in some of those dimly lit, mildew-smelling, Soviet-inspired rural concert halls, he has also seen fans smirk as they struggle to digest the fact that Kirilkinas is gay. Having publicly announced that fact seven years ago, Kirilkinas remains the only openly gay Lithuanian pop star. And he is one of very few “out” gays in any sphere in a country regarded as one of the most conservative in Europe. “I just couldn’t hide who I was and I have never thought that people in Lithuania were hostile to homosexuals,” he said. But after being pelted with eggs at a recent rural concert, Kirilkinas’ belief in that tolerance has cracked. “My sexual orientation undoubtedly triggered the ambush,” he said, admitting that he now feels frightened and anxious about his safety. After the nasty attack, Kirilkinas hired beefy security guards to protect him at concerts. 

This year, the eggs must be gently fashioned into an omelet known as the European Union presidency. Now that Lithuania's government is to assume that rotating, six-month responsibility 1 July, some wonder if it is tolerant enough to guide the progressive-minded union. Many Lithuanians, for their part, don't see things the same way as their fellow European Union members. According to Lithuanian's own perceptions, things are better in their own country: a Eurobarometer survey released late in 2012 by the European Commission found that 56 percent of EU citizens perceived widespread ethnic discrimination in Europe. Only 17 percent of Lithuanians perceived such bias, the survey showed. The one area where Lithuanians were in synch with their fellow Europeans was in seeing discrimination against gays, with 46 percent of Europeans finding it widespread, compared with 45 percent of Lithuanians.

Nevertheless, tolerance issues are not among the Lithuanian EU presidency's priorities, which include enhancing energy security, promoting cooperation among Baltic nations, rapprochement between Eastern Partnership (mostly former Soviet republics) states and the EU, and better protection of the EU's outer borders. Where those issues have been found is in Lithuanian leaders' program to put tolerance in the public eye. From events that reach out to long-oppressed Jews and the Roma people to a 'pride' parade to make gays feel welcome, Lithuanian leaders are creating the impression, at least, that the issue is being dealt with. While Lithuanians may not perceive it, examples of intolerance have grabbed headlines recently. Last year, for instance, African singer Viktoras Diawara-Vee, who is married to a Lithuanian woman, suffered the racist insults of nationalists marching along the main promenade of the second-largest Lithuanian city, Kaunas, celebrating the Restoration of Lithuanian Independence. Some youth in the parade, including skinheads, shouted that he was a 'sleazy monkey' and yelled other slurs.

Originally from Mali, singer Viktoras Diawara-Vee has had to endure the racist insults of nationalists. "I was dumbfounded, unable to believe that this was happening in the broad light of day," Diawara-Vee recalled. The event was encouraged by a number of Lithuanian members of parliament, seeing it as a manifestation of patriotism and nationality. Confusing that concept with intolerance is a mistake, Diawara-Vee said, shaking his head. Such cases of intolerance may be shrugged off by some Lithuanians as isolated incidents, but with the approaching presidency of the Council of the European Union, they undermine the country's efforts to present itself as a safe and friendly European state. But some say Lithuania has always been a tolerant place. "Certainly, quite different value systems have to be applied through history, but generally speaking, Lithuanians have always been friendly and embraced other national minorities," said Tomas Cyvas, a historian and political analyst. "For the simple reason that in the medieval ages, the rulers of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania cared about only one thing: how to attract craftsmen from other countries here and boost local trade. Obviously, the relations among nations didn�t have the tinge of nationalism back then, as trade prevailed."

Nonetheless, the nation’s leaders have seen the need to promote their country as diverse, mature, and tolerant. That effort has included projects like “Tolerance’s umbrella,” which aimed to explain to every secondary school student the essence of the word “tolerance” and foster the idea in young minds. While students might be keen to learn about diversity in their society, the educational measures often don’t include representatives of the minorities in question. “The best way to learn about tolerance is through vivid examples,” said Edyta Kazlauskiene, a social worker and project leader at a school in the central city of Panevezys. She said she wishes schools could attract more minorities to discuss tolerance with students, “instead of speaking about them and the issue in the classroom.” She also emphasized the need to discuss tolerance every day, not just on special occasions like November’s United Nations’ Day for International Tolerance.

But Salomeja Slaboseviciene, a retired teacher and former deputy principal of a secondary school, observed that such programs are often “stamped out” in pro forma fashion to appease strict EU requirements and the dictates of local human rights watchdogs. “From my own experience, many of the programs aiming to promote tolerance in school are stitched up hurriedly, after schools get grants for it,” Slaboseviciene said. Teachers are often preoccupied with ticking off tolerance requirements on their syllabi “in such a way that no one can nag about the use of money.” As far as convincing young Lithuanians to be more accepting of minorities, however, “the programs and the cause of tolerance are doomed,” Slaboseviciene said. And while the curriculum attempts to teach acceptance of ethnic minorities like the Roma and other vulnerable social groups, it often ignores the issue of gay and transgender citizens, gay rights activists charge. “Alas, the whole issue of homosexuality is still a taboo in Lithuanians schools. Principals are scared to death of being accused by parents or anyone else of promoting homosexuality,” said Vladimiras Simonko, chairman of the Lithuanian Gay League. “Most intolerance against the [gay] community on the casual level is due to lack of information, but policy makers often do what it takes to withhold it from the public,” Simonko said. “As a rule, the argument is the same: society is not ready for it.”  

The Lithuanian EU presidency gives the country “a unique chance” to show that Lithuania is a vibrant democracy based on pluralistic principles, he added. “Therefore we are eagerly looking forward to the Baltic Pride events at the start of the chairmanship,” Simonko said. But many in the country, like Slaboseviciene, are vehemently against the gay pride parade set for the beginning of July. “I see that some minorities, especially gays and Poles, are going to extremes in defense of their ostensibly violated rights. If they didn’t cry so loud and often unjustifiably, their public acceptance would be much better and quicker,” she said. With open European borders, more Lithuanians are able to get a taste of the Western lifestyles. But encounters with cultural variety can also trigger contempt and bolster a nationalistic mindset, say tolerance advocates. When singer Diawara-Vee worried about the deteriorating situation in his native Mali in February, he shared this concern online. But his post about his parents’ safety and his plan to bring them to Lithuania was met with a raft of racism-laden comments. “It made me sick to my stomach,” he said.

So lately, Diawara-Vee has been expressing both his worries about his family’s safety and his concern about rising xenophobia in Lithuania. “It’s time to make a clear distinction between patriotism, nationalism and extremism, but I just don’t see that happening in Lithuania yet,” Diawara-Vee said. Rights advocates say if hateful slurs surfaced elsewhere in the EU, politicians would likely hurry to condemn them and, in some cases, urge law enforcement to crack down on more extreme manifestations of hate speech. But they say that is not likely to happen in Lithuania, where the boundaries between national pride, ethnic identity, and extremism are often blurred. How, EU-sensitive leaders are wondering, should they deal with seemingly intolerant speech shouted during Restoration of Independence Day celebrations, such as “Lithuania for Lithuanians”? Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius seemed caught off-guard when asked that question by a reporter. “Unless they shout the slogan, I am OK with them and the marching,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite took a similar tack with the Lithuanian news website Delfi, saying, “If the youth speak of patriotism and don't hurt other citizens with discriminating slogans, then the thing should be welcome, why not?” But if the slogans become threatening to social groups or minorities, “then that is not good and not tolerable." While the nation’s leaders consider where to draw the line, those who monitor bigotry are alarmed by what they’re seeing inside the borders of Europe’s next agenda-setter. In February, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a global Jewish human rights organization, urged the Lithuanian government to ban what it called neo-Nazi marches on Restoration of Independence Day. The center warned of a “resurgence of fascist ideology and extremist nationalism” evident in the marches. Nevertheless, national pride – not necessarily the intolerant kind – is important for this small Baltic country that has seen invasions from east and west that have erased its statehood. That doesn’t justify bigotry, human rights advocates say. They argue that many Lithuanian officials continue to treat the tolerance issue as politically sensitive, leaving room for intolerance to be tolerated.

“As long as Lithuanian politicians keep setting up issues of patriotism and tolerance as against a lack of patriotism, servility to the EU, and threats to Lithuania’s national security, a clear distinction among patriotism and extremism will not be drawn,” said a senior pollster for a major public opinion research company, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak publicly on the issue. The pollster said his company’s research shows “a slow but steady creep” of greater bigotry, especially toward non-Christians, ethnic minorities, and gays. For Arturas Racas, a well-known Lithuanian analyst and former editor in chief of the Baltic News Service, the media also bear some responsibility when it comes to getting the tolerance issue off of the back burner. “Unfortunately, racism, homophobia, and other fear-laden remarks are not a rarity in Lithuanian media,” Racas said. “Many of those who tend to consider themselves tolerant in person admit they often feel like smashing a gay [person]’s face behind the corner of apartment building.” Only when such attitudes change, when every journalist takes personal responsibility for reporting on minorities without bias, will the media help promote tolerance, Racas said.

In July, the rest of Europe will be turning its gaze toward Lithuania. When that happens, it seems likely that people who secretly hold up Ruslanas Kirilkinas as a role model will be wondering if their country’s halting steps toward tolerance will have a lasting effect on their lives, their neighbors, and their nation.

Linas Jegelevicius is a freelance journalist in Klaipeda, Lithuania
Transitions Online

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Lithuanian Police Probe anti-Semitic Graffiti

23/4/2013- Lithuanian police said Tuesday they were probing anti-Semitic slogans scrawled near the site of a former Nazi labor camp in the Baltic state's capital. The unknown perpetrators wrote "Juden Raus" (Jews out) with marker on a sidewalk in Vilnius and drew a swastika on a nearby pole, police spokeswoman Evelina Pagounis told Agence France Presse. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius condemned the graffiti, which also included the phrase "Heil Hitler". "It is especially horrific that these anti-Semitic slogans appeared near two historically sensitive sites for the Jewish nation," Linkevicius said in a statement. HKP 562 labour camp aside, the graffiti was also near the site where the Nazis selected which Jews would be sent to work -- and which to death. "We cannot tolerate incitement to ethnic hatred in a democratic state, which respects all ethnic minorities," Linkevicius said.

The police discovered the graffiti on Monday, two days after Hitler's April 20th birthday. Before the war, Jews constituted around one third of the population in Vilnius, which was known as the "Jerusalem of the North" and drew Yiddish intellectuals and writers. But around 200,000 Lithuanian Jews - more than 90 percent of the pre-war population - died at the hands of the Nazi Germans and their local collaborators. The Lithuanian government on Tuesday approved a special program of events in September to mark the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Vilnius ghetto. Today, some 5,000 Jews live in Lithuania, an ex-Soviet nation of three million people that joined the EU in 2004.
AFP

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The footballer and lover Rachelle Graham were subjected to abuse after raising money for his charity

22/4/2013- A Premier League footballer and his beauty queen girlfriend have been targeted by racists – because he is black and she is white. Newcastle United striker Papiss Cisse, 27, and 22-year-old Rachelle Graham found themselves subjected to vile abuse after raising money for his charity. Rachelle, the current Miss Newcastle, took part in a skydive from 10,000ft to help fund an ambulance to help people in Cisse’s native Senegal. The event was attacked on a website set up by bigots who are against mixed-race relationships. A bogus Twitter account was then set up in Rachelle’s name, and friends and wives of other Toon stars, including midfielder Yohan Cabaye, also started to receive racist messages.

Now detectives are investigating the abuse as a hate crime after being called in by Rachelle’s shocked mum Val, 46. The Mirror has also passed on some of the disturbing messages to Durham police. Cafe owner Rachelle said: “At first the messages came from a US website which targets white people who are going out with black people. The person behind that may also have set up the fake Twitter account in my name. It was made to look as much like mine as possible, using my photos and virtually the same address. “The first I knew of it was when I started to get messages from friends responding to tweets I had not sent. This person was sending out abuse and saying I was no longer with Papiss, and would use racist terms. “I am totally sickened by it. I cannot believe someone that would do this.”

The cloned account, @grahamracheLLe, has now been suspended. The real one, @GrahamRachelle, has 1,500 followers. The abuse began last month after Rachelle, of Edmundbyers, Co Durham, helped raise £900 for Cisse’s charity, Friends of Sedhiou. Rachelle added: “They put up pictures of monkeys with knives, and would change newspaper stories on him, using terms like ‘imported from Senegal’.” “Papiss has seen this kind of racism before, and said we should ignore it. But I think it’s not on and we have to do something to stop it.” A police spokesman said: “The website has been reported and we are investigating.”
The Mirror

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Headlines 19 April, 2013

Never Again commemorates Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (Poland)

The message of 'NEVER AGAIN' has been heard loud and clear through a series of events accompanying this week's 70th anniversary of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

19/4/2013- A number of violent incidents provoked by the extreme right preceded the anniversary. They included an attack by a group of far-right football hooligans chanting nationalist slogans on the Regional Women's Forum held in Gdynia on 13 April. On the same day, a stone commemorating the late Jacek Kuron, a leader of the Polish democracy movement and a friend of the 'NEVER AGAIN' Association, was daubed with neo-fascist symbols in Warsaw. On 15 April, racist attackers tried to set fire to a flat inhabited by a refugee family in Bialystok. In Wroclaw, the extreme-right party NOP (National Rebirth of Poland) has used Facebook to mobilize for a pogrom-style 'final solution' to a Roma settlement, announced for the day of Adolf Hitler's birthday (20 April).

Against this context, the 'NEVER AGAIN' Association has taken part in several timely initiatives against racism. On 16 April, 'NEVER AGAIN' members actively participated in the conference entitled 'The escalation of nationalist violence - the role of the state and civil society in counteracting'. Rafal Pankowski gave the keynote speech, while Jacek Purski participated in the NGO panel on hate crime. The event was co-organized by the Campaign Against Homophobia and Collegium Civitas and attended by a number of Poland's leading politicians and intellectuals. On 18 April, a large mural commemorating the last Warsaw Ghetto Uprising commander Marek Edelman and his anti-Nazi message was unveiled in Nowolipki street in Warsaw. It was created by Dariusz Paczkowski, a co-founder of the 'NEVER AGAIN' Association and a renowned graffiti artist, with the help of the Klamra Foundation and a broad coalition of groups and individuals.

Also on 18 April, a debate on the contemporary far-right with a keynote speech by 'NEVER AGAIN' was held at Warsaw University's Department of Journalism and Political Science on the initiative of the Res Humana group. Many other commemorative and awareness-raising events with the participation of 'NEVER AGAIN' took place during the week, too. Several rock bands aligned with the 'NEVER AGAIN' Association have been touring Poland under the 'Music Against Racism' banner. In the context of the rise in far-right activity in the last weeks and months, the 'Brown Book 2011-2012' - a register of hate crimes edited by Marcin Kornak and Anna Tatar, published by the 'NEVER AGAIN' Association - has been continuously discussed by Polish public opinion. It documents more than 600 xenophobic incidents. Robert Biedron, one of Poland's best known MPs, has filed a formal parliamentary interpellation to Prime Minister Donald Tusk asking the government what conclusions it drew from the 'Brown Book' and urging it to act upon the evidence published by 'NEVER AGAIN'.

The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association is an independent educational, monitoring organization established in Poland in 1996. In 2009, in cooperation with UEFA and the FARE network ‘NEVER AGAIN’ set up the East Europe Monitoring Centre documenting racism and xenophobia across the region. In 2012, it implemented the 'Respect Diversity – Football Unites' social responsibility project accompanying the European Football Championships in Poland and Ukraine.
HOPE not Hate News

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Racist graffiti targets future Paris-region mosque (France)

The building site of a new mosque near Paris was daubed with racist graffiti - including Nazi swastikas - over the weekend, amidst escalating anti-Muslim sentiment in France

17/4/2013- The building site of a new mosque in the city of Coulommiers, east of Paris, was defaced with racist graffiti – including Nazi swastikas - over the weekend. “A pig’s head and Nazi tags were found inside the site,” Abdallah Zekri, president of France’s Observatory of Islamophobia told the AFP news agency. Pork is considered off-limits for Muslims, a practice that is derided by anti-Muslim groups in France. “It’s the same thing every time,” Zekri said of the act of vandalism, calling on harder sanctions for those found guilty of racially-motivated crimes. Public defamation of a racial or religious nature carries a punishment of up to one year in jail and 45,000-euro fine in France.

Franck Riester, the mayor of Coulommiers and a member of the conservative UMP party, confirmed the building site had been targeted and firmly condemned the act. “We must work to ease tensions and to respect every citizen, regardless of religion,” he told French media, adding that the new mosque is expected to open “within a few months”. “Currently Muslims pray in inhumane conditions, in a room that used to serve as the city’s old slaughterhouse. [The city] is leasing them the land to build a new mosque,” Riester explained.

The construction of new mosques is a subject of debate in strictly-secular France, with some far-right groups opposing public-funding for religious buildings, even while similar practices were used to build Christian churches in the past. In early February, two swastikas and racist insults were spray-painted on a mosque in the town of Ozoir-la-Ferriere, less than 40 kilometres from Coulommiers. The Observatory of Islamophobia recorded 201 anti-Muslim acts in 2012, an increase of 28% compared to the previous year.
France 24.

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Jewish group sues Twitter in France again over anti-Semitism

15/4/2013- A French Jewish group that sued Twitter for hosting anti-Semitic content lodged a fresh complaint against the social networking service. The latest complaint by the Union of Jewish Students of France, or UEJF, was filed on April 12 with the Paris Public Prosecutor’s office against Twitter CEO Dick Costolo. UEJF and another group, J’ACCUSE, said in the complaint that Costolo was “responsible for racial defamation and publicly inciting to discrimination, hate or violence toward Jews.” The complaint concerns tweets that call for killing Jews and praising the Holocaust. UEJF last month sued Twitter for $50 million after the California-based company failed to honor a ruling in January by a French judge ordering it to divulge within 14 days details of users who posted anti-Semitic statements.

France and other European countries have laws against hate speech that are considerably stricter than in the United States. In its ruling, the Paris court also ordered Twitter to set up a system for flagging and removing such messages, but UEJF said Twitter has not complied. Additionally, UEJF accused Twitter of lying when it reportedly announced last October that it would remove similar tweets. The tweets are still available to users who do not self-identify as being French, UEJF said. Despite the tweets still being available, Le Nouvel Observateur reported in October that Twitter said it had removed the tweets, which had spurred public condemnation. The phrase #UnBonJuif (meaning “AGoodJew”) became the third most popular hashtag on French Twitter due to what Le Monde termed “a competition of anti-Semitic jokes” that evolved around it. Twitter did not respond to JTA's request for comment on the latest UEJF complaint.
JTA News

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Marc Knobel: Anti-Semitic Hatred and Violence from 2000 to 2013 (France)

14/4/2013- Question: You are a researcher at the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF). In January 2013, Editions Berg International Editeurs published your new 350-page work titled Anti-Semitic Hatred and Violence from 2000 to 2013: A Retrospective.  What did you hope to achieve by making this retrospective?
Marc Knobel. I’m a historian by training. Accordingly, I attach a high level of importance to making sure that facts and events are recorded, written down, recounted, and remembered with the greatest precision and meticulousness. In this regard, I will talk in terms of historic perspective. Moreover, I realized that when we talk about this subject, we forget to mention certain facts, even though they have left their mark on our minds. Much has happened and it is not always possible to remember everything.

Beyond this observation, I asked myself a certain number of questions. In the France of the first decade of the twenty-first century, has hostility against Jews not developed largely among young people from so-called problem neighborhoods who are searching for an identity amid feelings of discrimination and, very often, victimhood? Do these young people not (sometimes) identify with the Palestinians, whom they think they are “avenging” when they act with hostility toward Jews? If this were to be the case, should this behavior not be denounced? What is this logic? Unless it involves a “new look and proletariat descended from integration and indoctrinated with hate against Jews and more broadly the West”, as the philosopher Pierre-André Taguieff supposes? Are these young people not motivated instead by an implacable hatred against Jews that causes them very simply to act with hostility toward Jewish targets such as schools, places of worship, stores, and individuals? Is there not within this anti-Jewish rage ultimately a culture of anti-Semitism?

I also wondered if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict plays a significant role. Furthermore, does this conflict not serve as an alibi for the expression of anti-Semitism in more socially privileged milieus? In other words, is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict not a (false) pretext that has permanently broken the taboo of anti-Semitism? Are Islamists turning underprivileged suburbs into hotbeds for the propagation of heir pseudo-theses? In their preaching or through the Internet, do they present a vision of Islam that is under siege and threatened by the Americans, the Europeans, and the Jews? Would this conspiratorial vision be even more serious if young people were to listen to and read such propaganda regularly and draw nourishment from it, thinking that they found in it an explanation for the disarray, grief, and fear in their lives?

Shouldn’t we stop saying, as people sometimes do, that if young people (whether they’ve been converted or not) become Islamic extremists as a result, it is to some degree the fault of a society that did not successfully integrate them or because they’re unemployed and suffer from social exclusion? Are these people “motivated by an ideology and doctrinal hatred of Jews”, as the sociologist Shmuel Trigano has remarked? And is it physical or moral poverty that creates terrorism or indoctrination, obscurantism, and fanaticism? And then, there are the infamous stereotypes. Is the tragic murder of Ilan Halimi the product, the result of a structural anti-Semitism that continues to survive and rely on the same old, nauseating clichés that have lasted throughout the centuries: of course the Jews work in banks, the media, and politics, they have money and power (sic)? So numerous are the generalities that we sometimes read. Also, since 2000, are French Jews in a state of distress? And would they have imagined for a single moment that there would be a price to pay for being Jewish at the beginning of the twenty-first century?

All these questions are important, and I’ll try to answer them.

Question: What are some of the features of this new period in the history of anti-Semitism that your book discusses?
MK: Since the beginning of the Second Intifada in 2000, anti-Jewish violence has erupted in an almost simultaneous manner throughout France and the Western democracies.

+First of all, individuals are animated by more or less vague feelings of hostility to Israel that are exacerbated by media coverage of confrontations in the Middle East. This facilitates their projection of themselves into a conflict that, in their eyes, reproduces the patterns of exclusion and failure of which they feel they are victims in France. As early as 2000, Mehdi Lallaoui, the producer and figure in the militant movement in the suburbs for over thirty years and a figure in the March for Equality organized in 1983, explained it well. He rightly stated, “For me, it’s an identification within a world of images. These young people see very violent confrontations on TV; they feel solidarity with them and by association attack Jewish symbols due to a lack of Israeli targets.” Malek Boutih, the former president of SOS Racisme (1999-2003), made this very interesting observation: “Young people have an unstructured discourse. They slide very quickly from anti-Zionism into anti-Semitism, and from Israel to Jews.”

It is thus with lucidity that the organization’s members say again and again that the conflict must not be imported onto French soil and the places of worship of the Jewish community (as well as the Muslim community). must not be targeted. They also issued a warning, because they foresaw that these acts aggression could multiply. Moreover, how does it help the Palestinian cause when common thugs attacks young Jews in France? What support is this giving? Will the Palestinian cause be encouraged and fortified by such actions? Of course not. Let us state it clearly: There is no justification for attacking a kosher store, there is no justification for attacks against Jewish teenagers. Does it need to be said again? So aren’t there other reasons? Isn’t there a culture of anti-Semitism in certain suburbs? Are these young people not motivated instead by an implacable hatred against Jews that causes them very simply to act with hostility toward Jewish targets such as schools, places of worship, stores, and individuals? Are they not also encouraged and/or indoctrinated by Islamist agitators or preachers of hatred? In short, does the conflict explain everything? No. It can explain certain things, but it does not the desire to take it out on French Jews because things are heated in the Middle East.

+Secondly, this form of anti-Semitism had its voice heard on the global stage in August 2001, in Durban, South Africa, during the UN conference against racism, xenophobia, and intolerance. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which had nothing to do with it, occupied all the participants. Israel was treated as a pariah among nations, and protesters marched shouting “One Jew, one bullet”, which was based on the “One settler, one bullet” slogan from the apartheid era. In Durban, anti-Semitism was divorced from its racist roots and articulated in the beautiful, crystalline language of anti-racism. “The Jews, those racists” is what is said now.

+Thirdly, it is important to give an overview of the reaction of the Muslim community during this period. We also want to measure at what point and whether or not Muslims were enticed into these acts of violence starting in October 2000. In our work, we mention the discomfort on the part of politicians and the media, for whom the idea of denouncing anti-Semitic acts caused embarrassment on the pretext that some of them could have been committed by Muslims. This raises the question of why we should necessarily keep quiet about the fact that acts of aggression were or allegedly were committed by young Arabs and Muslims? Would it be politically incorrect to say so? As for what concerns us, we believe that when an individual acts in the name of a religion, identity, or ideology to cause harm to an individual due to his or her religion, identity, or ideology, the public must be informed of it. But we are careful to avoid any conflation. It would indeed be unjust and especially shocking to assign to the entire French Arab and Muslim community the violence committed by a few individuals. Every group has its black sheep; this cannot be said frequently enough. They must therefore be denounced. But we cannot, we must not conflate them with Islam. We cannot stress this point enough.

This being said, what’s happening? We cannot reproach Muslims for supporting the Palestinian cause. Everyone is free to express his or her point of view and support a cause and affirm solidarity with it. The same is true for Jews who support Israel. However, there is a risk when one goes beyond the bounds of democratic debate and allows oneself to be attracted, fascinated, or even subjugated by inflammatory speeches or preaching that rage against Israel – or, conversely, against Palestinians. It is through listening, reading, or paying attention to a few preachers (of hatred) that one runs the risk of being drawn into a spiral. It will of necessity be painful. And yet, some Muslims react when the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is mentioned with much more interest than they express toward other conflicts, such as Iraq, Chechnya, Kashmir, Bosnia, and Western Sahara and the Polisario Front. But isn’t this focus excessive? Through reading, listening, and ultimately endlessly repeating that the Israelis behave like monsters, and through, conversely, the idealization of the Palestinian cause, which has been made into a new people’s struggle, some weaker minds act with hostility toward the Jews when there are no Israelis around. These unfortunate targets are conflated with Israelis, that is to say, with the oppressors. To “avenge” their Palestinian brothers, they strike out at Jews. However, this explanation does not seem sufficient to us. We will express a few other hypotheses. They also make it possible for us to understand why things have turned so ugly since 2000 and what the other (potential) motives of the aggressors are.

+ Fourthly, in one sense, the aggressors believe the Jews are protected, they imagine that they’re all rich and powerful. The old stereotypes are there. The tragic murder of Ilan Halimi is indeed the result of a structural anti-Semitism that continues to survive and rely on the same old, nauseating clichés that have lasted throughout the centuries: of course the Jews work in banks, the media, and politics, they have money and power (sic) – as if no Jew was ever in need, much less poor, or an artisan or shopkeeper. These are the racist stereotypes, which were peddled by petty hoodlums and thugs in benefits, that would provoke the death of Ilan Halimi.

+Fifthly, Islamists cultivate the suburbs, they know how to point out the enemy or enemies (such as the Jews or France). For them, Jews and, to a lesser degree, Christians, rejected the Prophet and Islam. In their sermons or online, they thus present a conspiratorial vision of Islam that is supposed to be under siege and threatened by the Americans, the Europeans, and the Jews. They are certainly a minority (a few thousand at most), but they have increasing influence. Small Islamist groups (such as the Salafists) have launched the offensive against French Muslims. They are often violent and anti-Semitic and expect everyone to accept their views on Islam. In fact, those who lead the fight against terrorism believe that it is from their ranks that future generations of radical activists will come.

Accordingly, starting in 2002, in response to the considerable growth of this radical type of Islam, the public authorities decided to strengthen their vigilance with regard to foreign preachers. Corrective measures were taken and were often covered in the media in order to punish speech that incite violence, jihad, anti-Semitism, and racism. And yet, it was very quickly realized that the Internet has become the Islamic extremists’ new preferred method of spreading propaganda. Thus it was that by the end of 2004, fifteen French-language sites were being monitored by police officers. Just as with videocassettes, the Internet made it also made it possible for Salafists from various regions to form ties between themselves. Remember that, starting in the late 1990s, considerable resources were marshaled to fight against the Islamist cells implanted on French soil that were likely to perpetrate new terrorist acts in France or to strike against French interests abroad in the future.

Take as an example the Islamist network called the filières tchétchènes [Chechen connection], which, you will recall, prepared all sorts of terrorist acts in 2001 and 2002 against tourist targets such as the Forum des Halles or the Eiffel Tower. If these attacks had taken place, they probably would have caused numerous deaths and injuries, just like the double attack on the Galeries Lafayette and the Printemps store on Boulevard Haussmann on December 7, 1985 (43 injured), the explosion of the FNAC Sport in the Forum des Halles on February 5, 1986, in which 22 people were injured. Or the attack on September 17, 1986 in front of the Tati store on the Rue de Rennes in the 6th arrondissement, which caused seven deaths and 55 injuries. The targets of the terrorists were easily identified, had high symbolic value, and were particularly vulnerable. In the first years of the twenty-first century, political and institutional leaders realized that France would not be spared and that one day, terrorists would strike the capital once again. It wouldn’t be the same terrorists, as the context would be different and the motives would not necessarily be the same.

The intelligence and police services thus began to monitor certain individuals, for example, people who frequently traveled to Iraq, Afghanistan, or Pakistan. Reliable information on their activities, their family, and their associates was also made available. Some mosques received especially close attention, as did websites that defended Jihad and indoctrinated young people. The services infiltrated networks, and thus acquired a solid reputation in the field and prevented the execution of terrorist acts in our cities. The Salafists at the time were foreigners who had moved to France, to certain housing projects. It was from here that they began to indoctrinate young people who were cut off from society, had no future, and often had police records. These petty delinquents or traffickers organized and infiltrated their territory: apartment buildings, a parking lot, basements or staircases. Kids took part as lookouts in the selling of drugs. The police monitored them but they were also interested in the Salafists, who were drawn by the opportunity to use these kids with no direction in life by converting them to a political and religious ideology.

Thus it was that they turned from delinquents into jihadists and turned their backs on drugs and trafficking. This radicalization took place in as little as a few months. Thus it was that the police lost track of them and they disappeared. Mohammed Merah was one of them. As a refuge that gives a sense identity to young people who are lost or stigmatized in underprivileged suburbs and to teenagers from broken homes, Islam brings answers and comfort to people looking for a direction in life, and responds to their questioning about family and authority. By coming to the mosque, young converts find a community-based environment and structure, and they feel part of something. Moreover, Salafist converts are often men aged 18 to 35 who live in the problem suburban areas around big cities that are “in distress”: “The generally have a difficult life, they’re socially excluded, come from emotionally unstable environments, and they live in places where there is violence, transportation and housing problems, and unemployment,” according to the specialist Olivier Bobineau.

Certainly, the converts or numerous young people who live in the suburbs and certain housing projects are socially excluded. Politicians have failed them, that is a fact. The Republic abandoned the suburbs; this is true and it’s a shame. But it’s not because you live in poverty that you necessarily become a jihadist. It isn’t physical or moral poverty that transforms a man into a “perfect” terrorist, an unfeeling, dehumanized, and cold monster, but rather indoctrination, obscurantism, and fanaticism. It should be added that a man (or woman) who lives in a privileged milieu can be led into the grasp of jihadism. It will therefore not necessarily be a social problem, but a deliberate choice. Terrorism is a conscious choice, and it is never in any way a social obligation.

And where is anti-Semitism in the midst of all that? Salafist preachers are part of an Arab environment dominated by the issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They surf this wave to mobilize. They come together out of duty in solidarity with the struggle of the Palestinian population, according to Dominique Thomas, a researcher at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS). This explanation may be true, but is not sufficient: a deep, primal anti-Semitism characterizes radical Islam, but it goes across all Muslim communities, explained Samir Amghar. Other than connections with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which remain “a crisis of fixation”, it is also the product of the “anti-Semitism of their home countries to which is mixed the traditional French anti-Semitic heritage of the 1930s”. In an interview with Pierre-André Taguieff by Violaine de Montclos, “Taguieff: Islamists tired of hating Jews”, which was published in Le Point on Thursday, October 11, 2012, pp. 36–37, the philosopher conducts a magisterial review of this topic. His knowledge is such that he delivers a just analysis of this phenomenon. What does he say? As for the question of whether or not there is a radical Islamism without anti-Semitism, Pierre-André Taguieff responds: “in the history of the forms of Judeophobia of the twentieth century and beginning of the twenty-first century, the major phenomenon, after the Nazi era, will be the Islamization of anti-Jewish discourse.

This Islamization cannot be reduced to the invocation of verses of the Koran or certain hadiths. It consists of raising, whether expressly or not, jihad against the Jews to a six religious obligation with which every Muslim must comply. Such is the outcome of the doctrinal reinterpretation of Islam begun in the 1930s by the ideologues of the Muslim brotherhood, beginning with Hassan al-Banna (1906–1949), as well as the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husseini (1895–1974), the Arab Muslim leader who declared war on Jews in the 1920s before moving to Berlin during the Second World War to collaborate on the anti-Jewish propaganda intended for the Muslim world after his meeting with Hitler on November 20, 1941. The growing Islamization of the “Palestinian cause”, the victim’s cause universalized by the by a intersecting streams of propaganda, conferred on the cause the symbolic status of privileged front of global jihad, Taguieff continues. This is why the most recent wave of Judeophobia is characterized by a high level of mobilization of the Muslim world against Israel and so-called “world Zionism”, which is accompanied by Islamist preachers with an apocalyptic vision of a final war against the Jews.”

Question: How has anti-Semitism in France changed since the beginning of the twenty-first century?
MK: In France, everything really began on October 1, 2000. What happened on that day? Worshipers were coming out of the synagogue in Aubervilliers. A small white car then began to speed quickly toward them. People got out of the way, there were no injuries, and the car quickly drove away. The police were called to the scene but left very quickly. A few hours later, the worshipers present in the synagogue were sprayed with market liquid that was sprayed from adjoining playground. They left in a panic. In about ten days, 70 incidents were recorded from Toulouse to Paris and from Lille to Rouen: anti-Semitic inscriptions, verbal aggression, and the occasional throwing of an incendiary device. These were acts without precedence and of unbelievable seriousness.

What happened then? From January to July 2001, a slight drop was recorded in anti-Semitic violence. But in June 2001, the acts of aggression increased (23 were recorded): 29 were committed in August, 65 in September, and 42 in December 2001 alone. In its annual report, the National Consultative Commission for Human Rights (CNCDH) noted that acts of violence and incidents recorded over the previous two years in France (2000–2001) clearly showed a direct link with international events, more specifically with events related to the Palestinian problem. Indeed, with the exception of one aggressive act attributable to the extreme left, the actions frequently involved participants from so-called problem neighborhoods, who are often the descendants of immigrants and often involved in common delinquency and who appear to be projecting themselves into the conflict in the Middle East; in their eyes, that conflict reproduced the exclusion and failure of which they felt themselves to be the victim, noticed the CNCDH.

The analysis was a fair one. And what about 2000 to 2012? In relation with the French Ministry of the Interior, the Jewish Community Protection Service (SPCJ), which has done remarkable work on the subject, prepares a list every year of the types of anti-Semitic acts (violent acts and threats and acts of intimidation) reported on French soil. From this, we obtain the following figures: 936 acts reported in 2002, 601 in 2003, 974 in 2004, 508 in 2005, 541 in 2006, 402 in 2007, 474 in 2008, 832 in 2009, 466 in 2010, 389 in 2011, and 614 in 2012, for a total of 6,737 acts (violent acts and threats) from 2000 to 2012, which is considerable.

The type of violent actions corresponds most often to attempts on persons or minors who can be taken as a target. The remainder concerns actions against property (defacement) targeting private assets (homes and vehicles) or fires. Attacks also targeted places of worship, cemeteries, or memorials. Most of the actions are recorded in Ile-de-France, followed distantly by the regions of Rhône-Alpes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, and Alsace.

For threats and acts of intimidation, these acts are distributed most often among inscriptions, verbal aggression against people consisting of words, menacing gestures, and abusive demonstrations, or distributions of tracts, letters, and posters in the capital and in the immediately surrounding area. Finally, it should be noted that the majority of inscriptions was found on homes or personal vehicles and to a lesser degree on professional or association offices and on institutional or public buildings. These mostly too place in the Ile-de-France followed by Rhône-Alpes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Alsace, and Nord-Pas-de-Calais. In short, these acts and threats reflect various dimensions of anti-Semitism today, from its known roots and more recent but complex political or social confluences.

Question: What is your assessment of the fight against anti-Semitism?
MK: At first, we noticed an inexplicable disturbance. During the initial period (October 2002 to May 27, 2003), anti-Jewish aggression took place with a relative disinterest by public opinion and the political class. Within the Jewish community, this gave rise to a sense of abandonment and neglect. Does not the eagerness by politicians to relativize these acts of aggression and play them down in the media betray the fear of importing among us the “passions of the Middle East”, according to the words of Lionel Jospin. However, On May 27, 2003, things changed. Jacques Chirac, on the occasion of the 67th anniversary of the CRIF, gave an assertive speech amid the solemnity of the Elysée Palace in which he emphasized the following message: “Today you are no longer alone. Against anti-Semitism, France is with you. Because it is France that is attacked on its own soil. Because it is France that was injured when a synagogue burns down on its soil. Because it is France that is humiliated when, on its soil, a Jewish child is obliged to change schools to escape bullying, intimidation, and insults.

The Republic owes the protection of the law to all of its children. Anti-Semitism is contrary to all French values. It is intolerable. Anti-Semitic acts must be fought without ceasing and punished with the greatest severity […] We will own not allow crime and hatred to be defended. France is not an anti-Semitic country.” The words spoken were strong and the emotion be hind them palpable. The President moved his audience, he found the right words to appease and reassure. Other Presidents (and politicians) followed with their own denunciations of anti-Semitism. Nicolas Sarkozy made the struggle to prevent a renewed outbreak of anti-Semitic acts in France one of his priorities. For example, in 2009, Nicolas Sarkozy firmly condemned “inadmissible acts of violence” committed in France under the pretext of the conflict in the Middle East. He gave assurances of these crimes would not remain unpunished. When presenting his New Year’s speech to the religious authorities, he “expresses (also) his deepest solidarity with the direct and indirect victims of these of this behavior unworthy of our country and unworthy of the twenty-first century”.

And François Hollande? He’s taking stock of Islamist danger. This is why, for example, François Hollande is not satisfied with affirming that the safety of Jews is a national cause. These are already strong words. He admits that the murder of a Jew because he is a Jew may also become an Israeli matter. “We are living an exceptional moment because here an exceptional tragedy has occurred”, stated François Hollande, who was in Toulouse for a ceremony paying homage to the victims of the of the Mohammed Merah massacre. “It was March 19, 2012. France was seized with terror because of this drama. I had come to Toulouse that day to express my sympathies. Once again I see the shocked faces twisted with displeasure of the principal and his wife. I remember the parents who greeted me with both dignity […] and worry, wanting to know who, how, why. I can still hear the screams and crying, I remember the courage of those parents, I have never forgotten them.” “Life is stronger than anything, and it does not give way to any threat or tragedy. The parents here are a witness to that and they have trust in our schools and in France,” stated François Hollande. “We will remember the words like so many lessons”, he added by making reference to the loved ones of the victims. “Ohr Torah, the school that represents suffering but also hope. It is this experience of which France will be worthy with you in the upcoming years,” Hollande added. “It is in unity that we have to fight terrorism. Radical Islamism is not Islam. Terrorism is a concern of all French people,” he added.

Despite all of these statements, anti-Semitic acts have not ceased and the place of anti-Semitism among the preoccupations of French people is very low (2% to 3% in opinion polls) because in the contemporary collective imagination, explains Stéphanie Dassa, an official representative for the CRIF, Jews are perceived as being much less volatile than they were in the past. Worse yet, certain number of our compatriots believe that they are or that they could be protected. Conversely, others believe the Jews continue to be harassed, and this does not engender nor will it engender more emotion. “Jews are threatened, so what?”, some people respond. “Don’t they in turn threaten the Palestinians (sic)?”

Question: So what should we do?
MK: We have to fight against what we call the Spirit of Durban. The Durban Conference officialized and legitimized anti-Semitism. Fighting against the Spirit of Durban means singling out the criminal minds that prevailed during that conference and have prevailed since then, who would make Israel, Jews, and Zionists responsible for all the evils of humanity and the quintessence of an absolute evil. It is unnecessary for the CRIF have to continue to point out multiple channels of hate such as extremist websites, anti-Semitic programming broadcast by Arab and Muslim television stations, anti-Semitic or denialist tracts or pamphlets, pro-Palestinian demonstrations that degenerate into anti-Semitism, cries of “Death to the Jews!” that one sometimes hears so-called sketches in which hatred for Jews is expressed, the disturbing increase in anti-Semitic sentiments among young people in the suburbs, perfidious and defamatory accusations, huge racist gatherings like the one in Durban, stereotypes and all nauseating clichés, Islamists who threaten the Republic. Because what a strange defeat for democracy it would be to let those extremists or Islamists invade our lives and rule our world. What a strange defeat it would be to submit and tolerate the intolerable.

Let us never forget this: what is threatened today by Islamism and anti-Semitism is the Republic itself, its principles, its values, and its culture because what threatens Jews threatens it.

Report on antisemitism 2012 in France
Antisemitism. org

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Bangladeshi farm workers in Greece shot at for demanding wages, dozens injured

18/4/2013- Two men have been arrested in Greece after foremen for strawberry growers allegedly shot and wounded 27 migrant labourers demanding long-overdue pay, police said on Thursday. The migrants, mainly from Bangladesh, were hospitalized in the western port of Patras and other areas with gunshot wounds after allegedly being fired upon late on Wednesday by three foremen for the growers in the village of Manolada, one of the main areas of strawberry production in Greece, local police said. A 57-year-old landowner was arrested as a "moral instigator" of the alleged shootings, as was another man for sheltering two of the presumed perpetrators overnight, police said.

The migrants had been working in local fields, some without being paid for the past six months, the police said. Around 200 of them went to demand their money on Wednesday when they were fired upon. The government condemned the attack and anti-racist groups were planning a demonstration in the area later in the day. Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said the attack was "inhuman" and "outside Greek morality" and pledged an immediate response by the authorities. However, the communist-affiliated PAME union noted that the incident was only the latest in a long history of abuse of migrant workers in Greece.

PAME said the workers had been fired upon with shotguns and pistols. It claimed 33 were hurt, while the police said 27 were wounded, one of them critically. "Growers and landowners have operated with cover from the government and justice for years, creating a hell-hole with slavery labour conditions," the union said. "Modern slaves in Manolada work in stifling conditions, pay rent to their exploiters and are lodged in sheds without water and electricity, piled upon each other," it said. Natassa Panagiotara, head of the labour centre in the neighbouring town of Amaliada, spoke of "19th century-style plantations" operating in this manner for over a decade. "The Greek state knows what is going on ... but there are only two labour inspectors in the area," she told Skai radio.

A local labourer who also spoke to the station said workers had been promised 22 euros ($29) for seven-hour shifts. He said workers "bathed in a barrel and drank from a water hose" and were afraid of "being killed or having their hut set on fire" if they pressed their claims for pay. Calls for a boycott on Manolada strawberries rapidly spread online, but Panagiotara warned against indiscriminate action. "There are family growers in the area who run their own farms without migrant labour and are just as hungry as other Greeks," she said. In 2008, Manolada was the focal point of a rare strike by hundreds of migrant workers against near-slavery conditions in the fields. The treatment of migrants in Greece has long been criticized by domestic and international rights groups, to little avail.
AFP

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Greece urged to 'take action' on neo-Nazi party

Europe's human rights watchdog has said Greece should consider banning the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party for its violence, racism and hate-filled rhetoric against immigrants.

16/4/2013- The Strasbourg-based Council of Europe says Greece needs to curb the activities of those who advocate racism and hate “including parties such as the neo-Nazi ‘Golden Dawn,' on which it should be possible to impose effective penalties or prohibition, if necessary.” The conclusions were among many made in a 36-page report on Greece released on Tuesday (16 April) by the council’s top human rights commissioner, Nils Muiznieks. Muiznieks, who visited Greece in January of this year, says two people stabbed a Pakistani migrant worker to death in Athens a few days before his arrival. One of the assailants was linked to Golden Dawn. Another migrant with severe wounds had the Greek Golden Dawn initials "XA" cut into his back.

The once fringe party shot to prominence in 2012 when it won seven percent of the votes in elections and sent 21 deputies to Greek parliament. It won 0.23 percent of the vote in the previous election. Several Golden Dawn MPs have been involved in racist and violent attacks against immigrants, with the police documenting 17 such incidents between June and October 2012. Among the more notable Golden Dawn deputies are Panayotis Iliopoulos and Georgios Yermenis. Both had their parliamentary immunity stripped in October 2012 following reports they allegedly attacked migrant vendors near Athens in September. A number of stalls had been destroyed during their ‘inspection’ to root out undocumented traders.

"We did not break any stalls, it is just that some goods found themselves on the ground,” spokesperson Elias Kasidiaris at the time told Skai TV. Kasidiaris’ immunity was also stripped after he was charged with robbery and causing bodily harm in a separate incident dating back to 2007. “What is also particularly worrying is that from statements made by the party’s leadership and ideological documents available on its official website it is clear that ‘Golden Dawn’ is a party that is against parliamentary democracy, and treats it with contempt,” notes the Council of Europe report.

The group's current head is Nikolaos Michaloliakos who maintained ties with the leadership of the 1967-74 right-wing military junta in Greece. He was also convicted for involvement in terrorist bomb explosions in Athens in 1978. Michaloliakos edited the Golden Dawn magazine when it first came out in December 1980 and has made a number of glowing references to Nazi Germany. An article published in 1987 by Michaloliakos on white supremacy ends with "Heil Hitler!" written out in full capital letters. While the anti-immigrant rhetoric is more extreme in the Golden Dawn party, it is not exclusive to that party.

Mainstream political faction, including prominent leaders like Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, have also made populist remarks regarding immigrants. Samaras in November spoke of an on-going “recuperation” by the Greek authorities of city centres from irregular migrants who had “occupied” them. Other statements are more direct. In August, the Greek minister of public order and citizen protection likened the number of irregular migrants who had entered the country to an “invasion” and to “a bomb on the foundations of the society and the state.” Greece, for its part, recognises that racism is a problem but describes it as a marginal phenomenon.

The government says it has taken significant measures to stop the hate crimes, including setting up an anti-racism prosecutor in Athens as well as some 70 anti-racist police units. The government also notes, in a nine-page response to Muiznieks’ report, that dealing with groups like Golden Dawn which have legally found their way into parliament “is a complexity in itself for obvious reasons related to the function of democratic polity."
The EUobserver

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16/4/2013- A racist who held a knife to a Muslim woman’s throat and demanded she removed her hijab has walked free from court. David Norris, 39, approached Farduja Jama as she walked with her eight-year-old son and said: ”Take the hijab off. This is England, you are not allowed. Take the hijab off before I stab you.” The thug then pointed the six-inch kitchen knife at her throat before running away when a man in a car rumbled him and took a picture. Later that day Norris approached a second woman, Iqbal Osman, who was watching her four-year-old play in a park. He asked her why she was wearing too many clothes and accused Muslims of “taking over” his country, before waving the knife around and leaving.

Norris admitted two counts of religiously aggravated harassment and two counts of possession of a bladed article at Bristol Crown Court. Recorder Nicholas Rowland sentenced him to a two-year community order with two years supervision and a six month alcohol treatment requirement. He said: “The reason I am doing this is so that any sort of repetition of his behaviour or if he fails to comply with the order he will be brought back before this court and the court’s hands will not be tied.” Both incidents happened in the Barton Hill area of Bristol on September 3 last year. Sam Jones, prosecuting, said: “Miss Jama was walking to a cash dispenser on Church Road with her eight-year-old child.

“She heard shouting from behind in a loud and angry voice. She then heard ‘Off with the hijab.’ “She was then approached by the defendant who was holding a knife in his hand. “He said ‘Take the hijab off. This is England, you are not allowed. Take the hijab off before I stab you.’ “He then pointed the blade of his knife and put it the left and right side of her neck. It was witnessed by a man in a car who took a photo of the defendant. “At 12pm a Mrs Osman was watching her four-year old play in the Urban Park in Barton Hill. “The defendant approached her and asked why she was wearing too many clothes and why she had ‘that thing’ over her head. He then said ‘F***ing Muslim people, you are taking over my country.’ “He produced a knife from within his coat. She grabbed her bag and her child and left quickly.”

After he was arrested, alcoholic Norris chillingly told cops “I’m a killer, that is what I do.” Victim impact statements from both women outlined how they now felt anxious when they left home. The court was told that Norris, of Barton Hill, had been on remand for seven months awaiting sentence. Robin Rowland, defending, said: “Mr Norris does not remember the incident but accepts that it must have been terrifying. “He deeply regrets his actions.”
The South West News Service

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Far Right Groups Target Roma with Violent Protests in Italy

19/4/2013- In Italy, Romani communities were faced with another eviction today. The eviction came after a week of protests targeting an informal Romani settlement in Milan which is home to about 350 Roma, mostly from Romania. The protests, led by far right groups and accompanied by racist slogans, turned violent when the protestors threw stones into the settlement. On 12 April 2013, the far right organisations, Gioventù della Fiamma and Circolo Domenico Leccisi e Gioventù di Ferro held an authorised demonstration in front of the camp.“Roma, go away from the neighborhood” was their call during the demonstration, which approximately 80 people attended. Two more unauthorised demonstrations of a similar nature took place on 15 and 16 April 2013, during which stones were thrown into the camp and fascist slogans and fascist salutes were made.

Following these protests, which called for the urgent eviction of the informal Romani settlement, the Milanese municipal authorities went to the camp yesterday and informed the residents that the camp would be closed. Some Romani residents left the camp after this warning. The authorities began evicting the remaining Roma today early in the morning. According to municipal authorities, the plan to evict the Roma from the camp had been developed and announced previously. However, they accelerated the process due to security concerns and their inability to protect the Roma settlement from increasing hostility in the area. The municipality initially announced that they would provide accommodation at a shelter for about 150 people, prioritising women, families with children and persons with disabilities. It is not known how many Romani individuals have been left homeless. The municipality plans to open a new shelter to accommodate them, expected to be opened by the end of April.

The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) and Gruppo di Sostegno Forlanini (GSF) are concerned about the safety and security of all Romani individuals who left the camp. Milanese authorities cite security concerns as the major reason to have closed down the camp; however the question remains as to how they will ensure the safety of Roma who are now homeless, and thus yet more vulnerable. The ERRC and GSF are particularly concerned that this racially-fuelled mob violence is reminiscent of the 2008 pogrom in Ponticelli, Naples and the more recent razing of a Romani settlement in La Continassa, Turin in late 2011. The ERRC and GSF believe that the authorities of Milan are making some headway in the integration of Roma after many years of negative and emergency-based approaches. The NGOs hope that the authorities will in future do all that they can not to surrender to the demands of aggressive right wing groups, and will protect the fundamental rights of all Roma including their right to life, right to housing and right to privacy.

The ERRC and GSF call upon the municipal authorities to provide adequate alternative accommodation to those in emergency shelter following the eviction and to those now on the street, and request that they take all necessary measures to prevent the reoccurrence of such aggression.
European Roma Rights Center

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Stars of David ripped from Jewish tombstones in Milan (Italy)

15/4/2013- More than a dozen tombstones at the Jewish section of Milan's main cemetery were vandalized. Vandals over the weekend tore off Stars of David decorating some 13 tombstones. Police in the northern Italian city are investigating. The Milan Jewish community spokesman said it was too soon to tell whether anti-Semitism or “simple theft” was behind the vandalism. Thieves are known to steal metal decorative elements from cemeteries to melt down or sell as scrap. Milan Mayor Giuliano Pisapia said he “forcefully condemned” the vandalism. “For my part, I express solidarity to the families and to the entire Jewish community,” he said in a statement. “Every act of violence, every act of lack of respect, toward whatever religion or community, is a stain that must find the unanimous condemnation of the entire city.”
JTA News

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Headlines 12 April, 2013

Swedish mayor fighting sale of anti-Israel T-shirts is attacked

12/4/2013- A Swedish mayor working to stop anti-Israel propaganda from being sold at a municipal cultural center was assaulted. Mats Green, the mayor of Jonkoping, was lightly wounded in an attack April 7 outside his home when two men struck and kicked him, the news site nyheter24 reported. Green, a politician from the center-right Moderate Party, said he could not identify his attackers. Local police suspect the background to the attack is Green’s efforts to prevent the sale of T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan “Burn, Israel, burn” at the Socialist Book Cafe, a shop operating inside a city-owned cultural center. The shirts sell for about $40. For three years, Green has argued that the shop undermines the city’s values and should move out. The matter will be brought to a vote by the City Council on April 26. “It seems there is a majority for ending the cafe’s activity under city auspices, so right now the debate is escalating,” Green said. “It is important that such calls, to destroy a country and its people, not appear on municipal grounds. I don’t want our city to be associated with anti-Semitism in the same way that has happened in other cities in Sweden.” In Malmo, municipal authorities have been accused of allowing rampant anti-Semitism. The Socialist Book Cafe did not reply to requests for comment.
JTA News

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Anti-Semitic slogans trigger violence at Ukraine political rally

12/4/2013- Several people were injured after protesters displayed anti-Semitic slogans at a political rally in Ukraine. The April 6 rally in Cherkasy, a city situated 100 miles southeast of Kiev, turned violent after six men took off their jackets to reveal T-shirts emblazoned with the words “Beat the kikes” and “Svoboda,” the name of a Ukrainian ultranationalist movement and the word for “freedom” in Ukrainian. Police arrested one of the men, who also were confronted by people attending the rally, a gathering of opposition parties. Police questioned 36 people suspected of inciting ethnic hatred in connection with the incident, according to a report by the Coordination Forum for Countering Anti-Semitism, a watchdog group. One of those injured at the rally, which was attended by a few hundred people, was Victor Smal, a lawyer and human rights activist. “I told the men in the T-shirts they were promoting hatred," Smal told the news site newsru.co.il. "They beat me to the ground and kicked me until I lost consciousness."
JTA News

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Homophobic attack sparks Paris protests (France)

11/4/2013- A photo taken of Wilfred de Bruijn’s battered and bruised face shortly after he was kicked unconscious by unknown assailants has gone viral on the Internet this month. “Sorry to show you this. It’s the face of Homophobia,” de Bruijn wrote above the image posted on his Facebook page on Sunday. It has been shared nearly 8,000 times since then. De Bruijn, a Dutchman resident in Paris for a decade, told France Inter radio on Wednesday that he had “no doubt” that an assault on him and his boyfriend, who was punched in the face as they walked arm-in-arm, was a homophobic attack.

Gay rights issues have divided France in recent months as President Francois Hollande has pushed through a bill to legalize gay marriage despite angry street protests. The law, backed by two in three people in surveys, is set to pass without major hitches in a parliament where Hollande’s Socialists have a majority. Yet a passionate debate, particularly on whether same-sex couples should have parenting rights, has triggered a surge in verbal and physical attacks on the gay community, according to records kept by the campaign group SOS Homophobie.

The group has recorded more than 60 reports of homophobic attacks, two to three times higher than normal, in the past week as the bill makes its final passage through the Senate. “It feels like the most violent time in our history,” said Michael Bouvard, vice-president of SOS Homophobie.

The story:
On Sunday night, a hall used during the day for a festival of lesbian, gay and transgender associations in the gay-friendly Marais district of central Paris was vandalized and plastered with posters for the vocal anti-gay marriage lobby. The “Protest for Everyone” movement, led by the comedian Frigide Barjot, has united tens of thousands of Roman Catholics, evangelical Christians and Muslims. De Bruijn said the heated nature of the debate was encouraging violence. “It wasn’t Frigide Barjot who hit my boyfriend, but you can’t ignore the narrow-minded speeches being made,” he said. France, traditionally Catholic and socially conservative, is opening up slowly to acceptance of gays and lesbians, with a trickle of public figures now openly homosexual. The law giving same-sex couples the right to marry and adopt children is now being debated in the Senate after being adopted by the lower house in February after 110 hours of debate.

SOS Homophobie is already waging a legal fight against a far-right student union that it says posted images online aimed at inciting homophobic violence. It was due to be among several dozen lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups staging a demonstration against homophobia in front of Paris’ town hall later on Wednesday. In cyberspace, de Bruijn has stepped up his own protest, posting a stylized black-and-white poster version of his photo with details of Wednesday’s rally and the slogan: “Fight back”.
Euronews

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Swastikas on the Gates of the Warsaw Jewish Cemetery (Poland)

11/4/2013- Swastikas were discovered, this week, on the gates of the Jewish cemetery in Warsaw. They were apparently spray painted after many people visited the site on Holocaust Remembrance Day to mark the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Warsaw ghetto, according to a preliminary police investigation, which said that no signs of anti-Semitism were seen at the time of the mass visits. Sources in the Jewish community demanded a thorough police investigation, saying, "It is unthinkable that exactly on Holocaust Remembrance Day, when thousands come to Poland to be with the victims of the Holocaust and mark the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto, anti-Semitic elements can harm the Jewish cemetery, where some of the ghetto dead are buried."

Arutz Sheva
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Neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Thugs Clash with Roma in Kalamata Hospital Raid (Greece)

Anti-foreign nurse swoop on Peloponnese hospital explodes in violence as Roma patient's friends confront Nazis

10/4/2013- Members of Greece's neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party have clashed with a group of Roma in a raid on Kalamata Hospital in the southern Peloponnese. The extremists, led by MP Dimitris Koukoutsis, swooped on the hospital hunting for foreign nurses. Earlier this year, four women from Bulgaria were forced to leave the Panarkadiko hospital in Tripoli, Peloponnese, after dozens of Golden Dawn members evicted them. This time, however, they were confronted by Roma who had taken to the hospital a 22-year-old victim of a racially motivated attack. Violence broke out between the two groups but was broken up by police. Koukoutsis accused the Roma of "involvement in delinquency" and said Golden Dawn would not regard them as equal citizens until they gave up crime. He said delinquency was "in their DNA", according to ENET website. 

Hospital director Yirgos Bezos said that Golden Dawn's raid on the hospital was "unacceptable. The row came days after a leading member of a Roma settlement in Komotini, northern Greece, threatened Golden Dawn with a provocative video on YouTube. In the footage, two Roma men wield guns, axes and chainsaws and dare the neo-Nazi party to launch a raid on their camp. "You will have to send a lot of guys to my camp," says one man. Addressing Nikos Michaloliakos, chairman of Golden Dawn, the unnamed Roma leader brags about having many "crazy guys" watching his back. "Michaloliakos, round up your mongrels," says the man.
The International Business Times - UK

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Slovakia: Romani man from Czech Republic and others beaten by 20 skinheads

11/4/2013- The Slovak media are reporting that allegedly as many as 20 skinhead attackers brutally beat up a Romani man from the Czech Republic at a party in the Central Slovakian town of Banská Štiavnica. The man lost consciousness as a result of the brawl. Two Georgians and the man’s girlfriend, who is a local resident, were also targeted for attack. It is not yet clear whether the conflict was racially motivated. The incident occurred on the evening of Saturday 6 April at a local discotheque. There was some discord between two girls and shortly thereafter the brawl was unleashed. The Georgians and the Romani man were working in the town, the Georgians as part of an EU-sponsored volunteer program.

The assailants beat Romani victim Pavel H. to such a degree that he lost consciousness twice. They also broke his girlfriend’s nose. The injured girl is filing criminal charges and the Georgians are considering informing their embassy of the incident. Witnesses claim the attackers pushed their victims to the ground and kicked them wildly. None of the discotheque’s other customers or its staff came to the aid of the victims. Discotheque owner Zuzana Kaníková insists her security personnel did what they could, but believes they had no “powers” to intervene against the attackers out on the street. The Georgian volunteers are not able to say with 100 % certainty whether the assault was racially motivated, but they do have the feeling that the brutality of the attack was caused by the fact that they are foreigners. Both of the Georgians are dark-skinned and spoke English at the start of the incident.

"My friend from Georgia got punched inside and his colleague came to his defense. Then everything went down very fast. The conflict moved into the vestibule, then the bouncers sent us outside and the assailants went out after us. I was struck from behind and that’s the last thing I remember. Maybe the fact that I was unconscious is what spared me,” Pavel H. told news server Sme.sk. “The most I can tell you is that we really are not able to confirm that this was racially motivated. However, the fact that it was 30 against three is completely unacceptable,” victim Pavel H. told Czech Radio. Pavel H. had previously worked in Banská Štiavnica as a volunteer before being hired there as an auto mechanic. “I have never had this big of a problem anywhere before. I am planning to keep on living here and I’m a bit afraid for my safety now,” he admitted.
Romea.

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Four race-crime convictions for neo-Nazi website (Italy)

Stormfront targeted figures who spoke up for immigrants 

8/4/2013- Four men were convicted of inciting race hatred Monday from the Italian website of the neo-Nazi group Stormfront. The four, aged 23 to 42 and from various towns across Italy, were sentenced to terms ranging from 30 months to three years for "promoting and directing a group whose purpose was the instigation to ethnic, religious and racial discrimination and violence". A Rome judge found the four guilty of targeting "Jews and immigrants, advocating the supremacy of the white race and instigating racism and Holocaust-denial". The four, who were placed under house arrest Monday, were arrested November 16 after police shut down the website, which had regularly posted anti-Semitic and white supremacist propaganda. The arrests were made in Milan, Frosinone and Pescara while 17 searches were carried out across the country, most in the north east. 'Nazi-Fascist' propaganda and weapons were found.

In December 2011 Rome prosecutors launched a probe into Stormfront's blacklisting of religious figures, politicians, journalists and judges. The Italian branch of Stormfront is part of an international body founded by the former head of the Ku Klux Klan, Don Black. The blacklist included: Turin Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia; Riccardo Pacifici, the President of the Jewish Community in Rome; Adel Smith, the President of the Muslim Union of Italy; the mayor of Padua, Flavio Zanonato; several members of the judiciary; and journalists Gad Lerner, a Jew, and veteran TV talk-show host Maurizio Costanzo. According to media reports, those on the list were targeted because of their support for immigrants. Also listed were then House Speaker Gianfranco Fini and then Minister for International Cooperation and Integration Andrea Riccardi, who have both spoken out about citizenship rights for immigrant children. They were on a list of so-called 'Italian delinquents' drawn up by the neo-Nazi group.
Gazzetta Del Sud

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UK Neo-Nazi Darren Clifft Arrested after KKK-Style Mock Hanging at Rally

A notorious British neo-Nazi has been arrested on suspicion of inciting racial hatred after he was accused of posting racist and inflammatory material on the internet.

7/4/2013- Darren Clifft, 23, from Walsall, West Midlands is believed to have been one of the ringleaders behind last month's far-right rally in Swansea, when around 50 white supremacists were confronted by a crowd of around 500 anti-racism campaigners. Clifft, who also goes by the name Daz Christopher, is known to police having previously voiced support for the Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in a bombing and shooting spree in Norway in 2011. Breivik was jailed for 21 years last August, but used his trial as a platform to promote his extreme anti-Islamic, anti-feminist and anti-Marxist views Cliift, a kickboxing fanatic who has coached youngsters in the sport, has threatened similar violence in the UK, and set up an online petition to free Breivik. "At least Breivik achieved something with his life," wrote Clifft. "He killed as many left-wing liberal loonies as he could. He is truly an inspiration. He sacrificed his life so that Europe might be free once again from the clutches of Islam."

Pictures from the Swansea March which were later posted on the internet showed a neo-Nazi rabble dressed in the white hooded robes of the Ku Klux Klan, carrying out a mock hanging of a black cloth doll. The event, organised by the National Front, was followed by a bizarre rock concert organised by Blood and Honour, a Nazi-inspired group which takes its name from the motto of the Hitler Youth.

'A menace to society and a very real danger'
Other known white extremists including Shane Calvert, of Blackburn, and Michael Kearns, from Liverpool, along with locals David and Bryan Powell and Luke Pippen, were also at the event, according to anti-racism campaigners Hope Not Hate. Police say Clifft has now been bailed pending further inquiries by officers from the West Midlands Counter terrorism Unit. Matt Collins, of Hope Not Hate, said: "Not only is Darren Clifft a menace to society, he presents a very real danger to any young people he still works with. "It's time the police took action against these kind of nutters."
The International Business Times - UK

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Racist and religious hate crime in Bexley rises nearly 60 per cent (UK)

8/4/2013- Racist and religious hate crime in Bexley increased by nearly 60 per cent last year, according to new figures. There were 205 victims across the borough in 2012 compared to 131 in 2011 – an increase of 74 incidents or 56 per cent. Burglary rose 14 per cent and domestic crime 11 per cent, but homicide fell 80 per cent, robbery 35 per cent and there was a 57 per cent fall in homophobic crime. Borough Commander Superintendent Peter Ayling admitted the growth in hate crime represented a “sizeable increase” at a meeting of Bexley Council’s Crime and Disorder Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Thursday (March 4). He said: “I would like to think that part of that increase is the result of increased confidence to report crimes in the minority communities in the north of the borough. “Part is due to new definitions and part to the way offences are flagged.”

The summary of the 2013 joint strategic assessment on crime in Bexley added: “The overall number of these offences is still relatively low so the percentage increase must be seen in that context. “During 2012 the Bexley Community Safety Partnership actively promoted the reporting of hate crime and this publicity drive may be a contributory factor that explains the increase.” Christchurch, Erith and North End wards recorded the highest levels of commonly recorded crimes such as robbery, criminal damage and violence against person – just as they did in 2011. Bexley continues to have the lowest crime rate in London according to the report, with one homicide in 2012 – compared to five in 2011 – and a fall in robberies from 362 in 2011 to 236 last year. Racist and religious hate crime is any criminal offence committed against a person or property that is motivated by hostility towards someone based on their race or religion.
Newsshopper

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First arrest under Sophie Lancaster hate crime policy (UK)

12/4/2013- A police force has recorded its first instance of alternative sub-culture hate crime, a move prompted by a Haslingden charity. Greater Manchester Police started registering offences against goths, emos, punks and metallers as hate crimes last week, who worked alongside the Sophie Lancaster Foundation, based in Deardengate. Sophie was 20 when she died after being attacked in Stubbylee Park, Bacup, in 2007 A 16-year-old boy, who described himself as an emo, was assaulted at 6.30pm on April 8 in Ashton-under-Lyne, Tameside. A 14-year-old boy and a 44-year-old man from Manchester were arrested for Section 47 assault and released on police bail until May 7 pending further enquiries.
The Lancashire Telegraph

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Fascists target Sunderland muslims on Facebook (UK)

8/4/2013- Anti-fascists claim Far Right extremists are establishing roots in Sunderland and spreading racial hatred across the city via Facebook. Activists from Hope not Hate claim a Wearsider using the alias “Angel United Patriots” is playing a central role in organising Far Right demonstrations against Muslims living in the city. The organisation also claims the user behind “Angel” was among crowds of English Defence League (EDL) supporters chanting anti-Muslim slogans at last month’s demo against proposals for a new mosque of St Mark’s Road in Millfield. Online postings seen by the Echo suggest “Angel” is a primary mover in getting Far Right activities “up and running in Sunderland”. Comments have also been left in which Muslims in the city are described as “Muzrats” and “Muzzies”. One post says: “Just had a Muzrat in shop asking why I don’t have any clothes for her”.

On their websites both Hope not Hate and the Tyne and Wear Anti Fascist Association (TWAFA) have condemned the racist comments, branding them “disgusting and derogatory”. Concerns about the establishement of Far Right extremism in the city has grown in recent months following a series of protests over the citing of the new mosque. Three people were arrested during last month’s protest which saw up to 80 EDL demonstrators clash with anti-fascist organisations. A spokesman for the Tyne and Wear Anti-Fascist Association said: “We know there is a Sunderland EDL running in the city, but we know other groups are also getting involved with them. “This is a network that is starting to establish itself and the issue with the mosque has given them an excuse to voice their views.”

Hope not Hate says it has been monitoring the activities of extremists in Sunderland over recent months and have become increasingly concerned with the postings made by “Angel”. The Echo understands Far Right groups have also tried to distribute thousands of leaflets across the city in a bid to recruit more members.
The Sunderland Echo

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Football fans protest over crackdown on hate crime (UK)

More than 2000 football fans brought parts of Glasgow to a standstill yesterday, ignoring a police warning about possible arrests by staging an unauthorised march.
Permission was given for the groups to gather in Glasgow's George Square, but the supporters risked being arrested if they staged a march
 

7/4/2013- Some 3000 football fans who claim they are being criminalised by "disproportionate" measures to crack down on hate crime converged on Glasgow's George Square in a lunchtime protest rally. The Fans Against Criminalisation (FAC) group that represents thousands of fans belonging to the Green Brigade, Celtic Trust, Celtic Supporters Association, Affiliation of Registered Celtic Supporters Clubs and Association of Irish Celtic Supporters Clubs held the rally to express concerns that legislation passed by MSPs more than a year ago has created problems for ordinary supporters. The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act gives police and prosecutors new powers to tackle sectarian songs and abuse at and around football matches, as well as threats posted on the internet or through the mail. The Act created two distinct offences, punishable through a range of penalties up to a maximum five years in prison and an unlimited fine. The fans' group complains it has led to "heavy-handed" policing. Glasgow City Council approved the rally between noon and 1.30pm but organisers were told they could not march.

Police expressed concern before the event that large numbers of people may leave the city centre after the rally to head to Celtic Park for the match against Hibernian, and warned that any "procession" would be illegal. Chief Superintendent Andy Bates, divisional commander for Greater Glasgow, said: "There was no disorder and no arrests and I am delighted by the way in which those who took part conducted themselves. "When planning for a day like today, we have to strike a balance between protecting people's right to peaceful protest whilst ensuring that the city continues to operate with the minimum of disruption to the people who live and work here. I believe we achieved just that." The latest rally follows a Glasgow demonstration held by the Green Brigade group of Celtic fans in March, in the aftermath of which there were complaints about heavy-handed policing. Officers formed a cordon, a technique known as "kettling", near the Chrystal Bell pub at Gallowgate in the city.

Before yesterday's gathering Police Scotland had raised concerns about the dispersal at the end of the rally, and set up three routes towards Celtic Park. But the vast majority of fans chose to converge on Cochrane Street, which was in gridlock as they marched in the middle of the road, waving placards and chanting "all Celtic fans against the bill". The march continued across Ingram Street, Wilson Street, Bell Street and High Street, with fans spilling onto the road, and it was only at Gallowgate that police intervened more actively, sending in extra officers, some on horseback, to funnel the fans on to one side of the carriageway. The "kettling" that occurred during last month's demonstration was not repeated and police preferred to escort demonstrating fans from the Gallowgate to Parkhead. However, there was some criticism of police tactics, summed up by one passerby who said: "I'm not sure that it sets a good precedent." Police Scotland, under pressure to get things right, said it was not classing the procession as a march and preferred to stress the good behaviour of the fans as they walked to Parkhead.

Earlier in George Square, one of the speakers at the rally, Glasgow University academic and Celtic Trust member Jeanette Findlay said: "You've shown them here today. If you try to beat us off the streets, we will keep coming back in bigger and bigger numbers, until you have not enough truncheons and horses and dogs to keep us down. And you don't have enough bodies to kettle and constrain us." She added: "Most of you know that our request to the council and police to be allowed to leave here en masse and in good order and safety to Celtic Park today was turned down. Can I ask you all to make your way to the game, or wherever else you are going, with your head held up, in a peaceful and friendly manner for which we are known and welcomed all around the world. Except perhaps our own country.

"And remember this: supporting your team is not a crime."
Labour MSP Michael McMahon, another of the speakers, warned the crowd not to give the authorities the opportunity to portray football fans as "a rabble" to "deflect attention away from what really matters, returning football to the fans and getting politics out of football". A Scottish Government spokesman, responding to a question surrounding the legislation and police tactics, said they protected fans from the tiny minority whose behaviour spoils the game. The spokesman added: "An 87% charge rate and 83% conviction rate for people arrested under the legislation shows that it's working well. "Tackling bigotry and hatred isn't just about legislation, but about wider action to help bring communities coming together."
The Herald Scotland

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30% increase in anti-Semitic incidents worldwide in 2012

An annual report about antisemitic violence and vandalism shows a stark reversal after two years of decline; France tops the list with 373 incidents last year.

7/4/2013- Antisemitic violence and vandalism increased by 30 percent worldwide last year, reversing two years of decline, according to an annual report released Sunday by Tel Aviv University's Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry. The rate of Antisemitic incidents in France rose by 60 percent last year, double the international rate, compared with 2011. The most gruesome of these was the fatal shooting of a rabbi and teacher, his 6-year-old and 3-year-old sons, and an 8-year-old girl at the Ozar Hatorah School in Toulouse in March. Of the 686 Antisemitic incidents the report cited as taking place last year, 373 occurred in France. The rise was partly due to copycat crimes after the Toulouse attack, according to the report, which was released ahead of Monday's commemoration of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

"The overall total was influenced by a substantial growth in violence in France, particularly following the terror attack on the Ozar Hatorah School in Toulouse, as well as in Hungary, the U.K., Germany and Australia," Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress, said Sunday at a press conference at Tel Aviv University to present the results of the survey. "The resulting wave of violent incidents in France demonstrates the extent of hatred toward the Jews is rooted in the worldview of extremist elements, regardless of any specific Middle East event." "Rather than the Toulouse attacks being a shock to the system, they had the opposite effect and perhaps allowed terrorist groups in Europe to become more encouraged," said Kantor. "This simply demonstrates that Antisemitism breeds antisemitism, pure and simple. And authorities have to act quickly and forcefully to prevent such escalations in the future."

The number of international antisemitic incidents includes 273 attacks on Jews of all ages and 166 direct threats on people's lives. In addition, 190 synagogues, cemeteries and monuments were desecrated and more than 200 private and public properties were damaged. Most of the attacks took place in countries that are home to the largest Jewish communities outside of Israel: France, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. However, Kantor singled out Hungary "as experiencing the most worrying racist and antisemitic trends in Europe," saying that "almost every week we witness an attack on minorities or outrageous comments from far-right and neo-Nazi politicians." Violent Antisemitic activity in Hungary appeared to be ignited by blatant anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli statements by far-right politicians, as well as incitement in the parliaments of Hungary, Greece and Ukraine against their Jewish communities. There was also a significant rise in the desecration of cemeteries and Holocaust memorials in Poland.

Last year "will be remembered as the year where political Nazism returned to European parliaments in force," Kantor said. "The Jobbik party in Hungary, the Golden Dawn in Greece and Svoboda in Ukraine are not mere far-right-wing parties… These neo-Nazi parties have crossed all red lines on a continent where we would hope never to see again an openhanded salute, swastika-like symbols and the demand for Jews to be listed." The proportion of Hungarians who hold antisemitic views rose from 47 percent in 2009 to 63 percent last year, according to public opinion polls conducted in 10 European countries by the Anti-Defamation League. The polls showed that an average of 30 percent of the general public holds Antisemitic views, with the highest levels recorded in Spain, Poland and Hungary.
CFCA

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Anti-Semitism is quite uncommon in Russia, according to the research

Authors of a research on the level of anti-Semitism in Russia in 2011-2012 concluded that animosity toward Jewish people in the country is fairly uncommon, although they mentioned worrying manifestations of it among some nationalists, Muslims and government officials.

6/4/2013- "The level of crimes motivated by anti-Semitism continued to be relatively low in 2011-2012. Five attacks, one insult, and 38 instances of vandalism based on anti-Semitism were recorded in the two years. Compared with the leading countries of the West, Russia can be described as 'an island of peace'," says a report presented in Moscow on Friday by a group of experts from the Jewish community in Russia set up by the Eurasian Jewish Congress. The document suggests that so-called 'new anti-Semitism' based on fierce criticism of Israel's policy is virtually absent in Russia.

At the same time, at least 8 percent of Russians are sure that Jews are among Russia's main enemies, the report found. Anti-Semitism is quite common among people adhering to nationalistic views, and "anti-Semite rhetoric is being exploited by two parliamentary parties, the Communist Party and the Liberal-Democratic Party." The experts were also alarmed by behavior of some provincial public officials "trying to directly deny the fact of the Holocaust." "The anti-Semitic ideology is being gradually instilled in the minds of Russian Muslims and migrant workers from Muslim countries. It is symptomatic that one of the two serious attacks on synagogues in 2012 was committed in Derbent, a city in Dagestan, where there is a significant number of radical Islamists," the report says.

The authors of the report said 20 instances of distribution of anti-Semite leaflets and graffiti and 41 instances of anti-Semitic vandalism were recorded in Russia's provinces, and 46 people were convicted for crimes based on anti-Semitism. Although law enforcement agencies are combating xenophobia and anti-Semitism quite actively, some of these officers do not possess "elementary knowledge necessary to counter anti-Semitism" and therefore they actually turn a blind eye to this phenomenon.
Russia Beyond The Headlines

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Headlines 5 April, 2013

Neo-Nazi gets ten years for homeless man attack (Spain)

4/4/2013- Madrid’s provincial court has sentenced a neo-Nazi to ten years in jail for repeatedly stamping on a homeless man in 2009. The court heard how Mykhaylo T. stamped on the victim’s head five or six times after not being allowed into a club with his “skinhead” friends. The unprovoked attack left Rafael Santamaría with severe traumatic brain injuries and bruising to his face. Mykhalo T. was sentenced to ten years behind bars and will have to pay €200,000 in damages to Santamaría. Three of the aggressor’s friends were fined €100,000 for failing to step in and stop the gruesome act, online newspaper Madrid Diario reported. Javier R.B., María Leticia G.D. and Iván L.G. will have to pay the fine over two years for not acting during the attack and leaving the badly injured victim for dead as he lay on the kerb. Santamaría required treatment for 541 days and is now seriously disabled after the injuries sustained. The court also heard a shocking statement on the part of the defendant’s lawyer, who referred to Santamaría as a “parasite”, and said he yearned for the days when Spain had a vagrant's law which put homeless people behind bars.
The Local - Spain

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Far Right targets Islamic events (UK)

The far Right, using information from an anti-extremist student body, is trying to sabotage Islamic events.

4/4/203- Casuals United, under the guise of No Platform for Islamic ‘hate preachers’, has been distributing the addresses and phone numbers of the venues, from Newcastle to Reading, Birmingham to Essex, where Islamic preachers are billed or Muslim educative days are planned and urging their readers to bombard organisers with tracts on ‘creeping Sharia’ and appeals to cancel the events. When the power of long-distance harassment doesn’t work, they threaten to demonstrate – and do.

Others in far-right movements are taking their cue from the Casuals. Britain First (BF), whose key personnel are made up of disaffected ex-BNP figures, has recently been rallying under the banner of the English National Resistance (ENR), founded during a string of ongoing demonstrations outside the home of Abu Qatada. It unites BF, the English Volunteer Force, the South East alliance (an EDL splinter group), Casuals United and EDL members. This alliance, which describes itself as ‘the “SAS” of patriotic politics’, plans to pick up what the Casuals started. It has launched Operation Fightback, which aims at turning the English National Resistance into a flying picket ‘to bring the struggle to [extremists’] doorsteps … to expose their venues, to lobby newspapers, to locate and publicise their extremist meetings’. This has already resulted in the intimidation of an imam on the doorstep of a mosque on Crayford High Street in March.[1] The Casuals’ tactics were honed in ad hoc actions over the years since the group’s inception, such as their response to a three-day weekender for Islamic scholars in York. Islamia Village, a series of seminars organised in 2012 by the Islamic Network, had to be cancelled after members of the Casuals and the English Defence League (EDL) allegedly threatened to burn the place down with everyone in it.[2]

Using Student Rights’ research
But now Casuals United seem to have been afforded more ammunition in the research released by Student Rights, an organisation that ‘exists to counter the long proven encroachment onto university campuses by extremist elements across the United Kingdom’. Although it has recently drawn attention to the far Right’s activity, the majority of its work has been on ‘Islamic extremist’ events. Student Rights has unwittingly provided Casuals United with information about Muslim students’ activity around universities, which is then used by them to harass and intimidate the venues and societies hosting the events.

Student Rights describes itself as a ‘non-partisan group dedicated to supporting equality, democracy and freedom from extremism on university campuses’, but in practice it appears to lean towards right-wing lobbying. Although Student Rights denies a direct link with the neoconservative think tank the Henry Jackson Society (HJS), the evidence suggests otherwise. Payments made in Student Rights’ name in 2010 were found to be from a HJS bank account. Student Rights director Raheem Kassam is the Director of Campaigns for the HJS.[3] Student Rights was set up in 2009 as a student representative body, but questions have been raised as to how many students it represents. ‘Where is their legitimacy to be pressuring SUs without any significant student membership to speak of?’ asks an NUS officer.[4]

Although there is nothing to suggest that Student Rights ever intended its information to be used by groups like Casuals United, its counter-extremism agenda shares some aspects of the far Right’s framework about Islam and the Left. And although there can be no objection to students expressing concern about offensive speech from any quarter, Student Rights has taken liberties with its counter-extremism mandate, opposing: events in support of Palestinian causes; events in solidarity with Guantanamo detainee Shaker Aamer (labeled an Al Qaeda operative); and Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign meetings. In 2009, Student Rights criticised No Platform for fascism policies, claiming that it was ‘another example of Student Unions going beyond their role and limiting free speech on campus’.[5] This has not prevented it from pursuing a No Platform policy not just for hate speech, but seemingly for any cause it dislikes.

Suddenly, after its own work inadvertently precipitated the arrival of Casuals United and the EDL on university campuses in 2013, Student Rights has extended its work to examine the far Right. After the Casuals and members of the EDL turned up at the University of Reading earlier this year on the basis of Student Rights’ information, the organisation issued a statement condemning the actions of the far Right.

Events and venues targeted by the far Right
Groups such as Casuals United and the ENR have targeted (with or without the unwitting help of Student Rights) a number of events:

Birmingham, 19 February 2013 – Casuals United targeted a planned retreat organised by the Muslim Development and Research Foundation. The hosting venue, the Eman Centre in Birmingham, was threatened and there were plans to hold a demonstration. Whether or not this occurred went unreported.[6]
Birmingham, 23 February 2013 – Casuals United boasted of getting a speech by Anjem Choudary at the Ladywood Community Centre in Birmingham cancelled by bombarding the council with complaints and threatening to demonstrate. The event went ahead nonetheless.[7]
University of Reading, 27 February 2013 – After Student Rights highlighted certain speakers at a University of Reading Discover Islam Week,[8] Casuals United and the EDL bombarded the university with texts and phone calls and managed to get its Muslim Society to cancel an event in fear of ‘the increasing threat of violent protest’.[9] The EDL and Casuals United had turned up on campus and handed out leaflets while ‘threatening’ the society. Student Rights issued a statement condemning the EDL’s actions, although standing by its right to draw attention to the event.[10]

University of Essex, 4 March 2013 – Haitham Al Haddad, a speaker at Essex University, was dropped from the platform at an event that eventually had to be cancelled as part of Islamic Awareness Week. After Student Rights highlighted the event,[11] Casuals United posted the campus phone number and address, congratulating activists for getting the speaker pulled.[12] A statement from the university to Student Rights bemoaned the threat of outside protest.
Newcastle, 8 March 2013 – Sheikh Muhammad Abdul Jabbar was booked to speak at the Beacon Centre in Newcastle. Casuals and other activists called the Centre to convince it to cancel, but when the event went ahead anyway, over forty activists from the North East EDL demonstrated outside the venue.[13]
East London Mosque, 25 March 2013 – A day of lectures about historical scholars of Islam at the East London Mosque was targeted. A demonstration was considered but didn’t take place.[14]
Nottingham University, 28 March 2013 – After the Student Rights affiliated online newspaper ran a story about a planned retreat by Islamic preacher Haitham Al-Haddad, including statements from Student Rights, Casuals United claimed it would ‘run into a few problems’.[15] The retreat was later scheduled to take place at Nottingham University. Casuals United distributed a phone number for Nottingham University’s Park Conference venue and threatened to demonstrate if they did not pull the plug on a ‘hate’ speaker. A demonstration took place outside the university in protest of the event.[16]

[1] Hope Not Hate, 20 March 2013. [2] See the Islamia Village website. [3] London Student, Issue 10, 1 March 2010. [4] Ibid. [5] Ibid. [6] Casuals United blog, 19 February 2013. [7] Casuals United blog, 25 February 2013. [8] Student Rights, 26 February 2013. [9] Casuals United blog, 27 February 2013. [10] Student Rights, 1 March 2013. [11] Student Rights, updated 4 March 2013. [12] Casuals United blog, 4 March 2013. [13] Casuals United blog, 5 March 2013. [14] Casuals United blog, 5 March 2013. [15] Casuals United blog, 4 January 2013. [16] Casuals United blog, 30 March 2013.
Institute of Race Relations

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Neo-Nazi racist dubs woman 'a grass' in 'horrifying' revenge act (UK)

4/4/2013- A woman was dubbed a “grass” and left fearing for her life after the Hitler-loving alcoholic she befriended on a website published her personal details on the internet. Lynsey Seagrim-Trinder had given a witness statement against self-proclaimed neo-Nazi Trevor Hannington, who called himself “The Fist”, as he faced trial for offences under the Terrorism Act. The white supremacist was jailed for two years in 2010 and Ms Seagrim-Trinder’s statement was used as part of the evidence, although she was never called to court to give it because he pleaded guilty. In an act of revenge, a judge told a crown court, Hannington later published her name, address, contact details and her photograph online, dubbing her a “grass”.

Rachel Knight, prosecuting, said Hannington’s friendship with Ms Seagrim-Trinder and her husband, Alistair, had blossomed after she met him on a nostalgia website in 2003. The three began to meet when they discovered they all lived in South Wales. Ms Seagrim-Trinder knew Hannington, 61, had strong political views and idolised Adolf Hitler – views she did not share, but they continued their friendship on the understanding these views were not discussed. The friendship broke down in 2009 when Hannington, of Station Street, Treherbert, posted a blog about Hitler’s birthday, Merthyr Crown Court heard. Ms Seagrim-Trinder heard nothing more until later that year when police traced her through his mobile phone during an investigation into terrorist activities.

Her statement helped jail him for two years but while he was in Belmarsh prison she gave him practical help, even offering accommodation at her home on release and helping to move his personal belongings to his new house. “She felt an amount of guilt because she provided a statement and did not want to kick him whilst he was down, so she gave him a second chance,” said Ms Knight. Contact diminished but in 2012 Hannington tried unsuccessfully to get in touch and Ms Seagrim-Trinder discovered he had posted all her contact details, and later her photograph, on a website he ran, dubbing her a “grass”. He also blamed her for him and a co-defendant being jailed, the court heard. “She was horrified,” said Ms Knight.

In a victim impact statement, Ms Seagrim-Trinder said she had been concerned for her safety and added: “I feel like I’ve been made a complete fool of.” Entries were removed and reinstated over the coming weeks. The court heard Hannington, who told police he still wanted a tattoo saying “Aryan Strike Force”, had harboured fantasy stories about being involved in the IRA’s Bloody Sunday activities. Carl Harrison, defending Harrington who admitted harassment, said he had had a difficult time following the death of his uncle and had posted the blog whilst drunk and depressed. “Part of the problem is that he is an alcoholic,” said Mr Harrison.

Judge Christopher Llewellyn-Jones QC jailed Hannington for 12 months and told him: “You felt resentful towards her. Revenge was a motivating factor in the committal of these offences.” Hannington was also made the subject of a five-year restraining order not to contact Ms Seagrim-Trinder directly or indirectly, and not to publish her details on the internet or any other medium.
Wales Online

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Punks can be hate crime victims (UK)

A police force has begun recording offences against members of alternative subcultures as hate crimes
 
3/4/2013-  Greater Manchester Police is believed to be the first force to add abuse towards groups such as goths, emos and punks in the same way they do attacks based on race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity. Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan said: "People who wish to express their alternative sub-culture identity freely should not have to tolerate hate crime." A police spokesman said: "From April 2013 Greater Manchester Police also now records alternative sub-culture related hate crime. "We have done this following work we have carried out in partnership with the Sophie Lancaster Foundation, as we feel that adding this extra category of hate crime will help us better understand how some people are suffering from crimes because of their appearance, and better respond to the needs of victims of crime.

"You can let Greater Manchester Police know about an alternative sub-culture hate crime via the national True Vision on-line reporting form - simply select 'other' as a category and write alternative sub-culture in the box provided." Miss Lancaster, 20, was kicked and stamped to death because she was dressed as a goth in a park in Bacup, Lancashire, in August 2007. She slipped into a coma and never regained consciousness. The foundation is campaigning to get hate crimes laws expanded to include "alternative subcultures or lifestyle and dress" and has gained support from musicians including Gary Numan and Courtney Love. There are no immediate plans to change the national hate crimes register, but last year Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone acknowledged that the five recognised categories of hate crime was "an incomplete list".
The Irish Independent

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Homophobic man convicted of torture (Belgium)

3/4/2013- The man who last year beat up a gayman because of his sexuality, was sentenced Tuesday to 18 months in prison. That punishment he received for beating and torturing another man in December 2012 in Aalst. The events took place on 27 December 2012 during a party of a group of friends in the house of one of them. A child of one of the men walked around in the house, and that was not to the liking of Andy N. (28) from Aalst, one of the attendees.

According to the man the father of the child is not worthy of that name. N. claimed that the child did not have a decent place to sleep, and had come into contact with drugs. "I can not stand it when people do not properly deal with their children," said Andy N. "I have lost two children." Andy N., who was also under the influence of drugs, was determined to teach 'bad' father a lesson. Together with two other visitors Dimitri D.N. (20) from Aalst and Fayçal (22) from Aalst he  attacked the father.

Half hour for fun
"They beat the man continuesly for half an hour, just for fun," explained the prosecutor at the trial of the men. "The victim was tortured which included getting a burning cigarette pushed against the lip. The man eventually became so frightened that he jumped down from a window on the second floor. Thus he broke both his feet. The victim must have been desperate. " 

For the violence Andy N. received a prison sentence of 20 months and a fine of 550 euros. Fayçal A. received the same punishment. Dimitri DN, the third defendant, received 18 months. The man must also pay 550 euros. Dimitri D.N. is no stranger to the court. The man was arrested a few month earlier with his brother  because he had beaten a gay man because of his sexuality. The victim was severely wounded, but ultimately survived the violence. The process of that case has yet to be conducted.

translation: I CARE
Het Nieuwsblad

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Return of the far right: Greece's financial crisis has led to a rise in violent attacks on refugees

An Afghan who fled his country, fearing a lynching, after converting from Islam to Christianity. A Syrian who bolted across the border after a bomb destroyed his home. A Sudanese man who ran for his life after soldiers murdered his father and raped his sisters.

30/3/203- All three have joined the rivers of refugees that flow, now as ever, from the most wretched corners of the earth, converging today on Athens, the most wretched capital in Western Europe. Pursuing the European dream, they have run aground in the swamp of Greek's economic crisis: undocumented, unwanted, despised, hungry and under constant threat of the sort of violence they imagined they had left behind at home. The bad guys of this story are not hard to identify. The far-right Golden Dawn party (Chrysi Avgi in Greek) captures votes by using foreign migrants in the same way the Nazis used the Jews: as scapegoats for the frustrations, insecurities and hardships of today's Greek population. They blame Arabs, Asians and Africans (or 'subhumans' as they call them) for their country's dire lot. Accusing them of infecting Greeks with diseases and of turning the centre of Athens into a criminal jungle, young Golden Dawn militants hunt down foreigners in the streets, markets, parks and buses.

The good guys of this story are the NGO workers and Greek volunteers who endeavour to help the refugees. Their altruism is especially impressive: they are also suffering the consequences of the economic crisis, they all know fellow Greeks who are competing with the refugees for food in the bins of Athens. Workers at Médecins Sans Frontières, for example, report Greek people coming to them and asking: "Why don't you help us instead of them? Who invited them, anyway?" Golden Dawn are the bad guys, but it is not hard to grasp why they are now the third biggest party in the country, well on their way to becoming the second. At a time of awful confusion and uncertainty, they offer simple solutions to complex problems. Linked to neo-Nazi groups in Germany, they have learnt the populist lessons of the Hitler era. They magnify the danger posed by refugees and present themselves as the only true defenders of the people.

Few Greeks are unaware, for example, that there is a Golden Dawn phone number that pensioners can call to get a couple of party thugs to escort them to the bank to collect their monthly cheques, supposedly to provide protection from the dreaded foreign 'criminals'. It is unclear whether such a service actually exists, but it is clever propaganda and it reaches its target audience. Golden Dawn's most recent move was to set up an organisation called 'Doctors With Borders'. It offers, they say, a network of doctors willing to give free consultations – to natives only. Many Greeks hate the refugees. Many refugees hate the Greeks. I talked to over 20 men and women from three of the world's most dangerous countries – Afghanistan, Syria and Sudan. All regarded Greece as an infernal limbo they wished to escape from as soon as possible, though their chances of doing so are slim, given that the northern countries where they wish to pursue their dreams do not want them either and are pressuring the Greek government to prevent them from moving on.

They all reach Greece through Turkey, a country where almost anyone can enter without a visa. I met a group of refugees who had crossed over from Turkey, by land or by sea, over the past year, in the drab Athens offices of the Greek Forum of Refugees. I talked to them after I had been asked to observe an English language class. There were 14 students, men and women, and a teacher who acted as my interpreter. They were all Afghans. When I asked them what Greece meant to them, they replied in unison: "A bus stop!". When I asked them one by one, the message was even clearer: they dreaded the idea of Greece being their final destination, but they said they knew the bus would eventually come. The very reason they were learning English was because they intended to head for northern Europe. All had endured harsh, treacherous journeys, and resigning themselves to staying in Greece would mean giving up. They were not about to give up. Not even the youngest or the most vulnerable. There were two sisters in the group, aged 14 and 24.

After a month of travelling overland – by bus, donkey and on foot – they boarded a boat in Turkey that set sail for Greece but which three times almost sank and three times had to return to port. Eventually they landed on a Greek island in mid-December. Where were they going? "Spain and Italy would be good because the weather is nice, but there's no work," said the eldest. "Norway is a better bet." Isn't it too cold there? The younger sister smiled and replied: "Very cold, yes. But like ice-cream". The class laughed. The good humour faded when I asked the men what they did during the day, what the Athenian streets were like. "I don't understand why they let us in and then treat us so badly," said a bright 20-year-old man, to murmurs all round. "People insult in the street all the time," said a man in his mid-forties. "And the worst is that they attack us as well, while the police watch and do nothing." Of the eight men there, two said they had been badly beaten in the past three months. Who did it? They looked at me as if I was the most naive man on the planet. "Golden Dawn, of course."

The day after meeting the Afghans in the English class, a Pakistani man was stabbed to death. The police, left with little choice but to intervene, arrested two young Greeks who were later found to have Golden Dawn pamphlets in their houses. I did not hear about the killing until I read about it in the papers, but that same day I interviewed a Sudanese man called Hassan who had also been beaten up and left for dead by Greek far-right hooligans. He was 32 and a huge man. He looked like an American basketball player. We spoke at an Evangelical centre in the heart of Athens where American pastors offer free food and showers to refugees. The place was spartan but it had a location a five-star hotel would envy. Through a vast window you could see the Parthenon standing guard over the ancient city.

Hassan, the Sudanese giant, did not seem too interested in this reminder of the glory that was once Greece. He wanted to show me his scars. One on his forehead, another on the side of his head and many more on his broad back, as if he had been flogged by an 18th-century slave-ship captain. The stormtroopers of Golden Dawn seemed to have wanted to carve their swastika-like insignia into his muscular flesh. Hassan did not know exactly what had happened. All he remembered was walking down the street at 11pm one night when 12 men on motorbikes surrounded him, shouting racist insults and telling him to return to "his own shitty country". "They got off their bikes and started hitting me over the head with sticks. I blacked out and when I came round, maybe 10 minutes or so later, they had gone, but my head and body were covered in blood. I can only assume they cut my back up with knives."

Hassan said he sometimes thought that Greece was even more dangerous than his own country. That was saying something, given that he had fled his home in May 2011 when government soldiers stormed his village, burnt his house down, killed his father and raped his two sisters. In Athens, the birthplace of democracy, he was reliving the nightmare. He fled Sudan; now he wants to flee Greece. He cannot, though, because he has no money and Greece has no borders with a Schengen country; free movement around Europe is not possible without first leaving Greece by air or sea. Wahid, the Afghan Christian convert, is also trapped. He entered Greece in late 2011 over the land border after crossing the river with his wife and young daughter. It was not what he had expected. He said that his family were treated abominably at a packed,f stench-ridden detention centre where they were held upon arrival. "I expected to find people who at least respected women and children, because the European Union always speaks of human rights in Afghanistan."

His expectations were too high. All of the refugees I spoke to denounced the appalling conditions in detention centres such as the one Wahid was taken to, where tens of thousands of foreigners are imprisoned. The European Commission itself has joined in the protests, describing detention centres as "overcrowded" and "far below international standards". Wahid was surprised by what he found when he arrived, but after 15 months in Greece he had learnt to lower his expectations. "Public administration is useless at everything – why would it be any different when it comes to caring for refugees?" What most bothers Wahid, a bright and slender man who speaks good English, is that applying for asylum in Greece is a waste of time. The bureaucracy is neither up to the task nor interested in attending to it properly. "Migrating is not a criminal act," said Wahid. "They might see that we have good reason to do it, if only they asked…"

Wahid's story is unusual. He taught himself English and journalism in Afghanistan and worked as a journalist and later as an interpreter for the American army, accompanying troops on missions in enemy territory. After 14 months he returned to journalism, met an American Protestant pastor and converted to Christianity. "Openly being a Christian in Afghanistan, even while the Americans are still there, is like belonging to al-Qa'ida in Europe. You can't do it. You'll get lynched." Wahid's daughter used to go to a school in Afghanistan where she was taught the Koran. "I was talking about love and forgiveness at home; she would come home from school and tell us that, according to her teacher, we had to hate infidel Christians and that they would all go to hell." Terrified that her daughter might unwittingly give him away at school, Wahid decided to leave his country.

Some Afghans, like him, flee danger. Others are economic migrants. Wahid is sure that many more will come, on both grounds, when the American army pulls out of Afghanistan in 2014. "There will be anarchy, there will be terror, there will be a flood of refugees into Europe." Today, right now, that flood threatens to come from Syria, the scene of perhaps the world's most brutal war. I talked to a 52-year-old Syrian man at the American Evangelical centre. His name was Gharib and he was an educated-looking man who could have passed for a bank manager if he had put on a suit and tie. Never mind the Parthenon, Plato, Socrates and the birthplace of democracy – Greece, for Gharib, is a barbarian country. That morning, he told me, the police had evicted him from an abandoned house with no electricity or water supply where he had been living with four other Syrians. He had no money and, he told me, did not know where he would sleep that night. Speaking as if in a trance, in a melancholy mix of English and French, he told me his story.

"My house in Syria was destroyed by a bomb, and my four daughters, son and wife are on the streets waiting for me to give them good news, but I cannot help them. I am sorry. I couldn't afford to bring them all and I walked for 10 days to the Turkish border. My idea was to come to Europe and send them money to pay for the trip, but I was imprisoned for three months and I haven't been able to; I am sorry. In my city my children are sleeping on the streets with bombs, and I'm here sleeping on the streets without bombs. I am sorry." Gharib speaks German. His plan, now impossible because he has no money to pay the traffickers (who, according to him, can get you on to a flight without legal documents), is to go to Austria or Germany. "Every night I pray that I can leave this country. Greece is a donkey; Germany, a car. I ask God to let me get into the car."

The problem is that most Greeks would also like to ride in that German car, have the security of knowing that tomorrow there will be food on the table and a roof over their heads. And they do not want to have to compete for such basic needs with people whose arrival in their country could not have been less timely. I discussed this in a very different setting to the American Evangelical shelter, on the plush first floor of a building next door to the Greek parliament, with Constantine Michalos, the president of the city's Chamber of Commerce. He conveyed the general view that Greeks have of the uninvited foreigners, who, in his words, have "invaded" their capital. "The centre of Athens is a time bomb," he said.

Michalos, a privileged businessman who was educated in England, says that he despisesf the racism of the far right in his country and believes that "three-quarters" of the Greeks who vote for them do so, too. And yet, he said a growing number of the population see a value in the presence of Golden Dawn, who had a 22 per cent approval rate in a recent poll, on the capital's streets. Nor are people concerned about the appalling living conditions in refugee detention centres. The last thing that the country worst hit by the European crisis, and with least hope of recovering from it, needs, according to Michalos, is more people to feed. "Detention centres are a message: Greece is not the gateway to paradise," says Michalos. "As for Golden Dawn, however dreadful they might be, they are doing the government's dirty work. I know, because I have close contacts in parliament, that the centre-right politicians in government today are less critical of Golden Dawn in private than they are in public."

From a completely different perspective, Yunus Mohammadi, the head of the Greek Forum for Refugees, also sees a link between the far right and the government's agenda. "The prime minister has said that we have to re-occupy our cities, and that is what they are doing," said Mohammadi. "Before 2010, society was against attacks on foreigners, which happened, but far less frequently. Since 2010, when Golden Dawn made their great leap forward, everything has changed. There are far more attacks and normal people just stand by and even laugh. I was attacked, I lost blood, I reported it to the police and I was told that if I kept complaining I would spend two days in jail. And I speak Greek. Others are even more defenceless. The serious issue is that society now accepts this violence; it has become democratic violence. In other words, Golden Dawn now has seats in parliament so their violence is democratically justified." The concept, according to Yunus, is shared by a large number of Greeks.

But not by all. Christos Christou, the current head of MSF in Greece, is a surgeon specialising in kidney transplants who has been out of work for over six months. He could get work abroad but he does not want to abandon his country. He will stay, he says, to help with public health and take part in what he calls the political struggle. "Since Golden Dawn promised 'safety and cleanliness', migrants have gone into hiding. They are scared and the police turn a blind eye," said Christou. "They also attack gay people, incidentally. Soon they'll be burning books. The leaders are Nazis – hooligans turned politicians." But he does understand why Golden Dawn's crude message strikes a chord. "The concept of the scapegoat comes from ancient Greek theatre," he said, "and all societies use it, when they need to, in their own way." In the case of modern Greece, the refugees provide a convenient depository for the ills of a proud people with a proud history who struggle to face up to the indignities of the present. The measure of how far Greece has fallen is seen in MSF's decision to seriously examine the possibility of extending their services to the native population for the first time.

Nikos Gionakis faces a similar predicament. He is the head of a mental health centre called Babel whose stated mission – until now – has been to help destitute foreigners. The problem is that the more public health spending is cut, the greater the need for aid among the Greek population. Gionakis actually needs help himself. Neither he nor anyone else who works with him – psychologists and psychiatrists as well as administrative staff – have been paid since last June. Meanwhile, Babel's potential client base is expanding. "My fear," says Gionakis, "is that next month children with severe problems will come in and I won't be able to help them." But how does he help himself, how does he live? "Well, like others, thanks to my family," he replies. "My wife works. My parents buy us food. This is Greece today. Meanwhile, we wait." They wait, among other things, for threats from Golden Dawn. Yet there is some reason for cheer, says Gionakis. More and more volunteers are coming to the centre to offer free help, including experienced psychoanalysts. "Every action generates a reaction," explains Gionakis. "As the anti-immigrant feeling grows, so does the solidarity of the Greek people."

What we are seeing is the difference, Gionakis says, between people who think with borders and people who think without borders. For the day-to-day problems of the Greeks, he says, are almost identical to those of the refugees. "They don't trust the Greek state; Greeks don't trust the Greek state either." But there is something that sets refugees apart from Greeks, whatever their political views. Refugees place more trust in the future. Their living conditions are more fragile, more sordid, more dangerous than those of the Greeks. But they are also more used to it. Today, Greeks are struggling to survive; most of the refugees in Greece have struggled to survive since the day they were born. More so than those people clinging to Golden Dawn's illusory message, they are people with a belief that, having come so far, nothing will stop them reaching their final destinations.

"I don't regret leaving my country," said Hassan, the victim of the Golden Dawn bikers' attack. "It wasn't a mistake," said Gharib, the Syrian. "One day I'll get out of here to a better life. I'll get to Austria or Germany, get a job and bring my family. I trust that God will help me." "Greece is better than Afghanistan," said Wahid, the Christian convert, "but worse than the rest of the European Union. It may take years, but we'll get out of here and my daughter will grow up and live in a peaceful country." In the English class at the Greek Forum for Refugees, the 14 Afghans and their teacher seemed, on first inspection, the unluckiest people on earth. But they had hope, and a plan. An impossible plan, perhaps, but they were not giving up. The cold of the north, as the 14-year-old Afghan girl said, was not a thing to fear; it was an appetising ice-cream. What to others might seem a fearful limbo, to them was a bus stop. However long they had to wait, their bus would come. Unlike many Greeks and lots of other Europeans, they are keeping the dream alive.

The far right in Europe

Spain
A country at the heart of the eurozone crisis, economic hardship has fuelled a revival in support for the far-right, national-socialist politics of the Franco era. The most prominent group, Espana2000, pledges to put 'Spaniards first' and is recruiting fast, particularly among young, working-class men. It has protested against the building of mosques and followed the model of Greece's Golden Dawn by establishing a presence on local elected bodies, but does not yet have parliamentary representation. It also runs soup kitchens that refuse to serve Arabs. The group's leader, Jose Luis Roberto, told the BBC recently: "We will use all democratic ways… but if we reach an extreme situation we will have to hit the streets and use force if necessary," he said.

France
The far right National Front Party, founded by Jean-Marie Le Pen in 1972, is now firmly established in the mainstream of French politics. Its leader is now Jean-Marie's daughter, Marine. His granddaughter, 23-year-old Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, became France's youngest MP in modern times, and one of the party's two representatives in the National Assembly, last year. Marine has sought to move the party closer to the centre, banning a councillor who was pictured giving a Nazi salute and dropping racist rhetoric. However, the party still backs removing the citizenship of second-generation immigrants who break the law, or refuse to speak French, and is fiercely anti-EU.

Italy
Although the National Fascist Party of wartime dictator Benito Mussolini was banned under Italy's post-war constitution, several parties inherited its place on the far right of Italian politics. Il Duce's legacy is itself a topic of fierce debate for many Italians. His granddaughter, Alessandra Mussolini, a parliamentarian in Silvio Berlusconi's right-wing People of Freedom bloc, is unashamed of much of her grandfather's record in power and made headlines throughout Europe in 2006 when she told a transgender MP that it was "better to be a fascist than a faggot". The centre-right People of Freedom group contains several socially conservative factions, some of which can trace their roots to the neo-fascist Italian Social Movement, which succeeded Mussolini's party, and split into the more moderate National Alliance and the ardently fascist Tricolour Flame, which still has 5,000 members.

Germany
No country in Europe is as vigilant over the rise of the far right as Germany. But in recent years, neo-Nazi groups have never been far from the headlines and there are fears that extremist views are becoming more mainstream. One of the biggest scandals to hit in recent times unfolded last year when it emerged that Germany's domestic security service had destroyed key files relating to the National Socialist Underground, a neo-Nazi terrorist cell responsible for murdering nine immigrants and a policewoman, launching two bomb attacks and robbing several banks since 2000. At the end of last year, a report found that as many as 16 per cent of (former) East Germans hold a "fixed extreme right-wing worldview". The main rallying point for the far right is the 6,000-member National Democratic Party (NPD), described by the domestic intelligence agency as "racist and anti-Semitic".

Norway
In 2011, Norway, widely regarded as one of Europe's most tolerant societies, was rocked by the killing of 77 people – most of them young members of the Labour Party – by the far-right terrorist Anders Behring Breivik, who had published a manifesto characterising himself as a warrior against the 'Islamisation' of Europe. The atrocities and their motive raised difficult questions for Norway, which opened its doors to immigration four decades ago. Concessions made to Muslims, who make up 2 per cent of the population, at the apparent expense of Norwegian culture, had already become an election issue in 2009, when Siv Jensen, the leader of the country's second-largest political force, the Progress Party, warned against the "sneak-Islamisation" of the country. Far-right groups such as Vigrid and Stop Islamisation of Norway remain active and their leaders were invited to give evidence at Breivik's trial, as proof that the mass-murderer was sane, because his ideology was shared by others.

Hungary
Jobbik, generally considered to be anti-Semitic and anti-Roma, is Hungary's third-largest political party. Although it denies it is racist, the party caused outrage in November 2012 when parliamentarian Marton Gyongyosi called for a list of Jews "living here, and especially in parliament and government, who represent a threat to national security". Founded in 2002 as a youth movement, the party, which took 16 per cent of the vote in 2010 and has 44 MPs, also has close ties to the unofficial paramilitary organisation, the Hungarian Guard, known for marching through Roma areas. It was banned in 2009, but has re-formed as a different entity. Jobbik's leadership come from the ranks of Hungary's intellectual elite: Mr Gyongyosi is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin and worked as a tax adviser for KPMG.
The Independent

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