ICARE Hate Crime News - Archive May 2013

Headlines 31 May, 2013

Headlines 24 May, 2013

Headlines 17 May, 2013

Headlines 10 May, 2013

Headlines 3 May, 2013

Headlines 31 May, 2013

Greek coalition rift widens

31/5/2013- A rift in Greece's coalition on how to tackle mounting racism attacks in the recession-hit country widened on Friday as government allies tabled separate bills on the issue. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' conservatives have disagreed with their socialist and moderate leftist partners over how to stem the rise of aggressive neo-Nazi group Golden Dawn whose alleged attacks on migrants and hateful rhetoric has cast a negative light over the country. But fearful of alienating its core group of conservative supporters -- which includes the Church and military -- New Democracy moved to water down a proposed anti-racism bill aimed at toughening up the law against hate speech and war crimes denial. While accepting the higher penalties agreed on by the two other coalition partners, Samaras' party -- Greece's biggest -- has proposed to exclude state institutions such as the Church and the military from prosecution under the bill.

Senior clerics from the influential Orthodox church have in the past made remarks about Jews that could be deemed anti-Semitic, while Greek conscripts have been filmed chanting anti-Albanian and anti-Turkish slogans. Samaras has come under international pressure to update Greek legislation on the issue, some of which dates from 1979. The proposed bill put forward originally by the justice ministry prescribes prison sentences of up to three years -- up from two years currently -- and fines of up to €20,000 for breaking the law. All three coalition partners have accepted the penalties save for the question on whether to grant the church and the army immunity. Adding to the confusion, the radical leftist Syriza party and the nationalist Independent Greeks party have also pledged to table anti-racist proposals next week. "There is a risk that none of these proposals will pass and that the country will be ridiculed," said Andreas Papadopoulos, spokesman of moderate leftist party Dimar.

The World Jewish Congress has bashed Greece's delay in adopting the legislation and the European Commission has also called for a swift resolution. Golden Dawn has 18 lawmakers in parliament and currently polls at around 10 percent in opinion surveys. Rights groups believe that it has instigated a recent wave of violence against migrants, which the party denies. Golden Dawn leader Nikos Michaloliakos has publicly denied the existence of gas chambers and crematoria during World War II. He has also called Adolf Hitler "a major historical figure of the 20th century".
© AFP

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Young woman racially abused and spat on in Dublin city centre (Ireland)

Úna-Minh Kavanagh had to rub spit out of her hair after an attack on Parnell Street in Dublin yesterday evening.

31/5/2013- A Kerry woman, who has Vietnamese heritage, has told how she was racially abused and spat on in Dublin city centre yesterday afternoon. Úna-Minh Kavanagh was waiting for a friend outside a hotel on Parnell Street yesterday evening when she noticed a group of about seven teenagers walking towards her and yelling. As they passed her one of them shouted: “And you’re a f***ing chink”. Then one of the youths grabbed her face, shook it and spat on her. “He spat in my hair, it was just incredibly degrading. The whole incident lasted a couple of seconds, less than ten seconds,” she told TheJournal.ie today, saying she was left “disgusted” by the whole incident.

Kavanagh’s story came to light after she blogged about it yesterday evening, writing: “I gathered my thoughts and posted my outrage and I reported it to the Gardaí. It was horrible and terrifying but I am not a coward.” The 21-year-old journalism graduate and gaeilgeoir says she is subjected to verbal attacks “pretty much on a weekly basis” but said this was the first time she had been on the receiving end of a physical attack. Kavanagh’s decision to blog about the incident saw a huge pick up on Twitter with prolific tweeter and comedy writer Graham Linehan highlighting the incident to his nearly 300,000 followers. “Twitter has been absolutely amazing,” Kavanagh said. “They actually got me through it because I was feeling a bit depressed about the whole thing. I am so grateful for the support, it’s fantastic.”

Kavanagh said she has experienced abuse because of her background for her entire life and would like this incident to give her an opportunity to speak to young people from a background similar to hers to encourage them to report racist abuse. She confirmed she has spoken to gardaí at Store Street in Dublin in relation to the incident.
© The Journal

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Anti-LGBT Violence Continues to Spread Throughout Russian Regions

28/5/2013- While parts of the globe are experiencing an increase of tolerance for LGBTQ people, and homophobia begins to dissipate, hatred and violence continue to ravage the territories that had once made up the Soviet Union. In recent months, regions of Russia have been rapidly adopting "propaganda of homosexuality" laws, legalizing discrimination against LGBTQ people, which seems to be leading to growing violence. The author of the so-called "propaganda of homosexuality" legislation, Vitaly Milonov, is the United Russia city parliament deputy, and an Orthodox activist. The centuries-old domineering Eastern Orthodox Christian denomination reigns the regions today, including Georgia, Ukraine and Russia, where LGBTQ rights are severely suffering. Heralding a seemingly unwavering "traditional" belief system, one based on "personal experiences of truth," Orthodoxy, for all intents and purpose, appears to be creating a second "Great Schism" -- one that abandons global human rights continuity.

In fact, earlier this month Amnesty International released an in-depth report called, "Nothing to be Proud of: Discrimination Against LGBTQI People in Ukraine," denouncing the Ukrainian government for failing to follow international and European human rights law:
"Ukraine is failing to protect the basic rights of LGBTI people such as the right to be free from discrimination, the right to security of the person and the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression," the report reads. "Ukraine has an international obligation to uphold the principle of non-discrimination and ensure that all individuals, including LGBTI people, are treated equally irrespective of their sexual orientation and gender identity in both law and fact."

The report also makes reference to last year’s first-ever scheduled pride march in Kiev, Ukraine, which was cancelled following threats of violence when 2,000 anti-gay protesters showed up. Regardless, violence ensued May 20, 2012. Svytoslav Sheremet, the pride march organizer and president of the Gay Forum of Ukraine, was brutally attacked by seven men, some wearing surgical masks, after he announced the cancellation to the press. "We may not have had a march, but only two of us were attacked, and we were able to start a lot of conversations in homes, with families and in the press. Politicians, educators and parents had to have the discussions that are so important and what will ultimately advance the cause," Sheremet told QSaltLake, a Utah LGBTQ newsmagazine in 2012, while visiting queer-rights groups in the United States, as part of a U.S. Department of State program to examine LGBT advocacy in America.

"Surprisingly, things have become far worse in Ukraine in the past decade because homosexuality isn’t so hidden," Sheremet continued. "People want to come out and be open about who they are. Before, everyone was fine just keeping it all underground in a few gay bars, but as soon as people started to ask for equal protection, there was immediate backlash." Despite the failed attempt at a pride march last year, Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch are urging Kiev authorities to allow this year’s march planned for May 25, 2013 -- despite the recent chaos that erupted May 17 in Tbilisi, Georgia, the capital city of the former Soviet state.

Though the Georgian government did give the green light on a gay-rights event to honor of International Day Against Homophobia, thousands of protesters gathered in the street, many of them members of the Orthodox Church, disrupting the event. The tragic death of Vladislav Tornovoy, 23, on May 9 in Russia, and the subsequent ban of yet another pride event in the region, symbolized a formidable insurgence of hatred and violence against LGBTQ people in those areas. Tornovoy was brutally murdered and mutilated in Volgograd, just outside Moscow, for being gay -- a mere six months following the beating death of Armen Ovcharuk, a young gay man who was killed while walking home from a gay nightclub in Kiev. On May 17, commemorating the deaths of Tornovoy and Ovcharuk, and other victims of homophobic hate crimes, 150 LGBTQ people and their supporters rallied in St. Petersburg, Russia, making it the largest public LGBTQ demonstration in the city to date. The event was scheduled to last an hour, but police broke it up after only 10 minutes when approximately 100 protesters began throwing smoke pellets and small stones at the demonstrators.

Following the 2006 and 2007 bans on pride parades in Moscow, the European Court of Human Rights found in 2008 that the previous bans violated the European Convention on Human Rights in the areas of freedom of assembly and association. Despite the ruling, Moscow continues to deny approval of a pride parade each year. In 2011, the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights, Thomas Hammarberg, denounced Moscow’s refusal to abide by the European Court’s decision, saying, "The European Court of Human Rights has ruled in two judgments against unlawful restrictions or bans running counter to the exercise of freedom of assembly by LGBT persons in the context of the organization of Pride parades. "Peaceful demonstrations cannot be banned simply because of hostile attitudes to the demonstrators or to the causes they advocate," Hammarberg continued. "The State also has a duty to protect the participants in peaceful demonstrations including when they hold unpopular views or belong to minorities." A decision made by the Moscow City Court last June, however, bans gay pride parades in the city for the next 100 years.
© The Edge Boston

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Map of Anti-Muslim Incidents Post Woolwich (UK)

30/5/2013- Map of Anti-Muslim Incidents Post Woolwich. In particular, this map looks at mosques & Islamic institutions attacked post Woolwich

Paint Bomb Attack Against Belfast Islamic Centre
Vandalised on 23/05/2013 Link Police investigating a paint bomb attack on an Islamic centre have asked a motorist who was in the area at the time to come forward. The driver of a silver car was Police investigating a paint bomb attack on an Islamic centre have asked a motorist who was in the area at the time to come forward. The driver of a silver car was seen in the area of Wellington Park in Belfast when a milk bottle filled with paint was thrown at the building at around 10pm on Thursday. Two teenage boys were seen running away from the area. No-one was injured in the attack, which is being treated as a hate crime. The PSNI said they would like to speak to the driver of the silver car spotted at the scene. A number of mosques were attacked in England last week after the murder of soldier Lee Rigby in London. An 85-year-old woman has been charged with a public order offence after being arrested on Friday following an incident in Gillingham. Police have made arrests on suspicion of hate crimes and comments posted on social networks amid reports of a rise in attacks.

Vehicles Vandalised Outside Masjid-e-Usman in Bolton
Vandalised 22/05/13 @TheBoltonNews cars outsides mosques vandalised in #bolton #raciallymotivatedattack pic.twitter.com/KFMtgvInHN @TheBoltonNews woke up to news mosques have been vandalised in the night #bolton #masjidusman pic.twitter.com/YWvkO5VVy8 Asian Image reports on a hate crime reported in Bolton, Lancashire in which a mosque was defaced with graffiti and a car in the nearby car park vandalised. The local paper reports that the exterior wall of the Masjid-e-Usman was spray-painted with the words ëIslam = Evilí while a parked car in the grounds had the words ëTerrorist insideí painted across its doors. The incident appears to have happened on Thursday morning. Superintendent Steve Nibloe said: "Any acts of criminality which are motivated by religious hostility or racism are totally abhorrent and we take action against anyone found to be committing such offences. "We have launched an investigation and we will do whatever we can to find those responsible and bring them to justice. "Neighbourhood officers will continue to work very closely with local mosques and partners over the coming days and weeks both to offer reassurance and advice on taking the appropriate safety measures."

Attack on Grimsby Mosque & Islamic Community Centre 
Two people have been arrested on suspicion of arson following a fire at an Islamic cultural centre in Grimsby, Lincolnshire...

Omar Faruque Mosque and Cultural Centre
23/05/13 The Omar Faruque mosque suffered a graffiti attack with anti-Muslim hate being placed on the mosque and Islamic centre on the 23/05/13

Attempted Arson at the Zainabia Islamic Centre
Attempted arson 23/05/13 A petrol bomb was thrown yesterday at the Zainabia Islamic Centre 11:30 on FRIDAY 23RD MAY.Knifeman Entry at Al Falah Braintree Islamic Centre

Attempted Arson & Knife Attack 22/05/13 Essex, UK police arrest knifeman after attempted arson at local mosque Posted on 05-22 at 21:12:14 CST Link [As released by Essex Police] Man arrested fo...

Bacon & Graffiti Posted on Maidenhead Mosque
Incident took place on the 10th of June. Link: http://www.maidenhead-advertiser.co.uk/News/Areas/Maidenhead/Police-warning-over-hate-crime-after-Maidenhead-mosque-attack-12062013.ht Thames Vall...

Vandalism to Brixton Mosque
Smashed window 27/05/2013 TARGETED: Brixton mosque was subject to vandalism Police are continuing their investigation into reports of an attack on a mosque in Brixton, south London. Officers ...

Windows Broken at Gillingham Mosque
Window and bookcase smashed 22/05/13 Gillingham mosque was attacked on the 22nd of May. Windows were smashed and a bookshelf was destroyed in retaliation of the killing of drummer Lee Rigby.

Shah Jalal Mosque & Islamic Cultural Centre
Shah Jalal Mosque & Islamic Cultural Centre : Bacon left 22/05/13 The Muslim Council of Wales fears inter-racial tensions are escalating in the wake of theslaying of a British serviceman afte...

Dorset Islamic Cultural Association
Four windows smashed 23/05/13 Two men have been charged with racially aggravated criminal damage following an incident at a mosque in Dorset. Police said windows at the Dorset Islamic Cultur...

Attack on Huntingdon mosque
A 45-year-old man has been charged with racial or religiously aggravated criminal damage over an attack on a mosque in Cambridgeshire. The man was arrested on Thursday at the Islamic Education and Pr...

Firebomb Damage Against Masjid E Noor, in Gloucester
The Independent Newspaper reports a firebomb attack against the mosque: http://t.co/6BM9aHVbtb A mosque has been attacked by an arsonist, police said. A man set light to the door of the building in...

Arson Attack Against Islamic Boarding School in Bromley
Go to Link Police are investigating a fire started by intruders at an Islamic boarding school on the south-east outskirts of London as suspicious, amid continuing fears of reprisals after the Woolwic...

Arson Attack Against the Bravanese Centre (Muswell Hill, North London)
An Islamic centre in north London has been destroyed by a fire in an apparent hate crime attack. The Met Police said the fire, which happened at the Al-Rahma Islamic Centre in...

Proposed Mosque in Green Lane, Worcester Park, Epsom, Daubed with Swastikas 
http://www.yourlocalguardian.co.uk/news Vandals daubed a swastika on the door of a proposed mosque. The graffiti was painted onto the front door of the old Bank Chamber building, which i...

Small Explosion Outside the Aisha Mosque in Walsall 
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-23019142 A suspicious package found near a West Midlands mosque was a small home-made explosive device, police have said. About 150 peopl...

Swastikas Spray Painted on Redditch Central Mosque Walls 
A mosque being built in Worcestershire has been broken into and graffiti including swastikas sprayed on to the walls and windows. The damage at th...

Muslim Graves Vandalized in Newport, Wales 
http://www.southwalesargus.co.uk/news/1051728 Muslim graves at a Newport cemetery have been desecrated with racist graffiti. The vandals used white paint to write "Lee Rigby murder", ...

Sandwell Mosque Daubed in Graffiti 
http://www.itv.com/news/central/update/2013-07-02/sandwell  A Police investigation has been launched after offensive graffiti was daubed...

Fife Islamic Centre Daubed with Anti-Muslim Graffiti 
http://www.thecourier.co.uk/news/local/fife/ The Fife Islamic Centre in Kirkcaldy has been daubed with offensive graffiti in an attack police are treating as a hate crime. Several cars w...

Nail Bomb Goes Off in the Grounds of the Kanz Ul Iman Masjid in Tipton 
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/ Counter-terror police investigate 'nail bomb' near Tipton mosque hours after Woolwich soldier Lee Rigby's funeral No injuries have been repo...

Device Activation on the 28th of June at Wolverhampton Central Mosque
Military explosive experts have cordoned off roads around the Wolverhampton Central mosque after two arrests of two Eastern European men were made earlier today on the 19/07/13. There seems to have be...

Man Arrested in Bletchley Mosque Stone Throwing Incident
Man arrested in Bletchley mosque stone throwing probe (21st of July 2013) A man has been arrested on suspicion of throwing stones at a mosque in Buckinghamshire. Thames Valley Police said officers w...

Man who Threatened to Bomb a Mosque Sentenced to Community Work
This is the link to the evidence piece: http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/crime/man-threatened-to-bomb-mosque A Man who threatened to bomb a mosque was today ordered to carry out unpaid work...

Mosque Attacked in South Wales with 4 Windows Broken
Monday, August 12, 2013 The vandalism of a mosque in a village outside Neath has been condemned by race relations campaigners. Four windows were smashed at t...
© Tell MAMA

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30/5/2013- The daughter of an elderly Birmingham man who was repeatedly and brutally stabbed as he walked home from his local mosque has told The Muslim News she believes the attack on her father was not only premeditated but is racially and Islamophobically motivated. 75-year-old father of seven Muhammed Saleem Chaudhry from Small Heath, was discovered in a pool of blood just yards from his front door by neighbours who were alerted to his screams. The retired baker was returning to his wife Said Begum, who was in bed at the time of the incident. Chaudhry had been stabbed three times in the back and his head had been stamped on during the attack on the night of Monday April 29. He was attacked at 10.30pm, after leaving evening prayers at Green Lane mosque where he regularly prayed.

His nephew Javid Iqbar, 53, found the body after his distraught aunt called him, shouting down the line that his uncle had been hurt. He said: “I raced round to their house and I saw a figure lying in the street, with the neighbours standing over him. “I dashed over and he was lying there motionless, in a pool of blood – he had obviously been very seriously attacked.” Chaudhry was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead just after 11pm. The attack on the frail pensioner, who suffered from arthritis and walked with the aid of a stick, was so vicious that surgeons told the family they had never seen stab wounds so brutal before. Chaudhry who’s described as “enemy-less” by friends and family is not believed to have been targeted in a mugging gone wrong because his wallet was found in his possession. Officers leading the investigation into the death admitted racism was a “significant line of inquiry.”

Police have released CCTV footage of a white man seen running away from the scene of the attack, as well as footage of a white people carrier which was seen driving along the route between the murder scene and the mosque around the time of the attack. They have appealed for anybody with information about either the man or the vehicle, which appeared to have two men inside, to come forward. Police said they believe Chaudhry was subjected to a swift attack and one that left him no time to try and defend himself. Detective Superintendent Mark Payne, who is leading the inquiry, said Chaudhry “was a defenceless pensioner returning home from evening prayers. “It was a despicable, brutal attack. I’m confident someone, or perhaps several people, in the local community know who has done this. “Whoever is capable of doing this needs putting in jail and that’s where we’re going to put them.”

One of his five devastated daughters, Shazia Khan, 45, said the attack on her father was not only premeditated but was “racially motivated to an extent but the faith is the important factor in this. My father was a well respected member of the community and well liked at the mosque, there can be no other motive.”  Shazia said her mum is “shell-shocked” by the horrific way she lost her husband of over 50 years. “We are unable to grieve our loss due to the intensity of the murder investigation and the media interest. We have little time to reflect. Until we receive some clarity of what happened that night we will get no peace,” she added.  She also said West Midlands police were “clueless” in solving a spate of attacks on Asians in the area. “There have been a spate of attacks on Muslims in the recent months leading up to our father’s murder; there have been many attacks on Asians in general. Only two days after my father’s death a Sikh man was stabbed to death. He also was a respected member of the community.”

Shazia lashed out at the police saying, “There seems to be too many stabbings on Asians and the police do not tend to solve the crime instantly. These people are then still loose in the community continuing to kill whilst the police remain clueless.” Shazia described the police’s initial investigation as “evasive” and said the family were forced to “put a lot of pressure to piece together the witness statements and CCTV footage to find a link.” But she also praised their hard work which includes putting up a £10,000 reward through crimestoppers including speaking with congregation of the mosque. Family and friends paid tribute to Chaudhry who Shazia says was a “well liked generous family man with a great sense of humour.” The neighbours and the community “have been brilliant, showing emotional support and warmth to our mother in particular,” she said. Shazia added that “daily drops of shopping and meals have been sent by kind relatives.” They have received flowers, tributes, cards and condolences from all races and religions. “His death has touched everyone because he was everyone’s grand dad.”

Sunny Araf, a former policeman, described Chaudhry, who leaves behind 22 grandchildren and seven children, as “a genuine man. When I found out it was him I couldn’t believe it. He was so passionate about his community and the mosque and cared so much about the kids in the community. He had a great relationship with everyone.” A spokesman for Green Lane Mosque told The Muslim News said Chaudhry was a pious, humble, caring and honest man, who had a bubbly charismatic character. He has been praying at GLMCC for many years and spent a lot of time at the Mosque. He would often be the first to arrive to offer voluntary prayers and also be in the first row for the five daily prayers. Mr Chaudhry had a close connection with the Holy Qur’an and he would often be seen reading the Qur’an during the day. ” The family’s anguish is compounded by their inability to swiftly bury Chaudhry, a custom demanded by Islamic law which calls for the quick burial of the deceased. The family are forced to wait for a second post mortem which can only be carried out once suspect is found.
© The Muslim News

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Police treating Harlow arson attack as 'hate crime' (UK)

30/5/2013- Police investigating a devastating arson attack which left two women homeless believe the couple may have been targeted because of their sexuality. Lorraine Turner (42) and partner Sue Bashforth (46) were lucky to escape with their lives after the blaze ripped through their ground-floor council flat in Pennymead in the early hours of March 17. At the time, they told the Star they owed their lives to their cats after being woken by their pets’ howling. Fire investigators believe the fire was started deliberately after flammable liquids were poured through a catflap in the front door - and police are now treating the attack as a hate crime. Speaking to the Star this week, a distraught Lorraine appealed for anyone with information to come forward. “It makes me sick that even in 2013 there are still ignorant, evil people capable of doing something like this just because they don’t agree with somebody’s sexuality,” she said. “I would urge anyone who knows who might have done this to contact the police before they try something like this again.” The couple, who had been celebrating their engagement the night before the fire, have now been rehomed outside of Harlow. “It’s been three months of hell for us as we’ve been moved from one temporary accomodation to another,” Lorraine said. “We lost everything in that fire, and even had to give up our cats. “It’s been incredibly traumatic and has put both of us under enormous strain as we try to rebuild our lives.” Anyone with any information on the arson attack is urged to contact investigating officers at Harlow Police Station on 101.
© The Harlow Star

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Racist messages spark Twitter hate crime probe (UK)

29/5/2013- Police are investigating reports of racially offensive Twitter messages as they appealed for calm in the wake of the Woolwich terror attack. Officers have moved to reassure faith groups and have made visits to the Capital’s three main mosques at Potterrow, Blackhall and 
Annandale Street. It comes as a number of allegedly racist and offensive tweets made by a user going by the handle @edininfidel were reported to the police. It is understood there were two complaints in response to tweets posted after the Woolwich terror attack on Wednesday last week. Officers confirmed they were investigating the tweets, and said they were monitoring social networking sites.

PC Debbie Graham, co-ordinator of the city’s counter-terrorism strategy group, Edinburgh Contest, said: “Following the recent events in Woolwich, there is a potential for a rise in community tensions or hate crime – particularly in the Muslim community. “From previous experience – Glasgow Airport – there is also potential for increases in hate crime or community tensions for other minority ethnic communities.” In the six-point statement, PC Graham added: “We are aware that extremists or misguided individuals can use such incidents as an excuse for committing hate crimes. “However, we hope to work with communities to identify such individuals quickly and deal with them robustly.”

Insisting police had a grip on the situation, PC Graham said black and minority ethnic communities were “safe to go about their lives as normal”. The message, which said there was “no evidence” at this stage to link events in Woolwich with Scotland, was sent to partners of Edinburgh Contest and Score Scotland, a voluntary organisation serving the minority ethnic communities in the west of the city. Foysol Choudhury, chairman of the Edinburgh and Lothians Regional Equality Council, said racist incidents had been reported to the group in the past week. He said: “We have heard reports of people shouting racist comments. In one case, a man stopped at traffic lights in his car and a group of men standing by the road were gesturing at him. When he wound the window down they shouted racial abuse. “Online, it seems people are taking advantage on blogs and forums to give Muslims and Asians abuse. They can hide behind the internet. “No right thinking person would support what these men in Woolwich have done and we condemn it as much as anyone else.”

Anger as far-right plans Holyrood demo
A planned demonstration by far-right group the Scottish Defence League has been condemned by anti-fascist protesters. The SDL has announced plans to assemble outside the Scottish Parliament on Saturday in response to the Woolwich terror attack. A spokesman for the group said the SDL is staging the action in support of British soldiers and to demand the government gives military personnel better protection. But the action has been branded “despicable” by Unite Against Fascism Edinburgh, which has organised a counter-demonstration on the same day. The UAF’s Luke Henderson said: “Unite Against Fascism Edinburgh sends its condolences to the family and friends of the soldier murdered in Woolwich. There can be no justification for such a terrible attack on an individual. “Despicably, racist and fascist organisations such as the Scottish and English Defence Leagues are trying to use this tragedy to whip up racism and direct hatred against all Muslims. “The Scottish Defence League has organised a protest to try to stir up trouble and racist violence in the wake of the Woolwich killing.” A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Clearly we are keen to speak to organisers and will liaise closely with our partners to manage any such events.”
© The Scotsman

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Woolwich murder: 200 Islamophobic incidents since Lee Rigby's killing (UK)

Sharp rise in reported cases, including attacks on 10 mosques, raises fears of sustained targeting of Muslim communities

28/5/2013- Fears that Muslim communities across the country are facing a sustained wave of attacks and intimidation have intensified after it emerged that almost 200 Islamophobic incidents had been reported since the murder of British soldier Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich, south-east London, last week. That number includes attacks on 10 mosques and follows a weekend of protests by far-right groups, the largest of which saw hundreds of English Defence League supporters stage a protest outside Downing Street that ended with bottles being thrown and 13 arrests. Four men have been charged with offences including possession of a bladed article, possession of class A drugs and public order offences following the EDL protest and a counter demonstration.

The Tell Mama hotline for recording Islamophobic incidents said 193 incidents had been reported by Monday evening, with more expected to come in. Before the death of Rigby, the service recorded an average of three or four incidents a day. In Grimsby on Tuesday, two men reported to be former soldiers were remanded in custody at the town's magistrates court after a mosque was petrol bombed. Stuart Harness, 33, and Gavin Humphries, 37, were charged with arson with intent to endanger life. No pleas were entered and the pair are due to appear at Grimsby crown court next month. The Tell Mama co-ordinator, Fiyaz Mughal, from Faith Matters, said he feared there would be an escalation in attacks on Muslim communities. "These things are cumulative and I do not see an end to this cycle of violence," said Mughal. "There is an underlying Islamophobia in our society and the horrendous events in Woolwich have brought this to the fore and inflamed the situation."

The latest round of Islamophobic attacks came as counter-terrorism police launched an investigation at a prison in east Yorkshire after three Muslim inmates assaulted two prison officers and held one of them hostage. The police and the Ministry of Justice would not comment on the motive for the attack at Full Sutton prison on Sunday, but a spokeswoman for the north-east counter-terrorism unit said it was leading the investigation "given the potential nature of the incident". "It will take time to establish the full details," the terrorism unit said. "The motivation behind this incident is for the investigation to establish and is one of a number of lines of inquiry." Officials said none of the inmates involved were serving time for terrorism-related offences. Michael Spurr, chief executive of the National Offender Management Service, said: "This was a serious incident and my first thought is with the officer who was taken hostage – we will do all we can to help him recover from this experience." Both of the prison officers have been discharged from hospital.

Police were also investigating graffiti daubed on two privately funded war memorials in central London. The word "Islam" was quickly covered up after the graffiti was discovered early on Monday at the RAF Bomber Command memorial in Green Park and the Animals in War memorial in nearby Hyde Park. Meanwhile, online activists Anonymous announced on Tuesday they were planning to attack the EDL. The hacking collective that has become known around the world for a series of high-profile hacks and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on government, religious and corporate websites, said it was planning to kick off its campaign by publishing details of the far-right group's supporters and donors. In a statement accompanying the launch of #OpEDL, Anonymous claimed the EDL had attempted to exploit the events in Woolwich to spread division and persecute innocent Muslims.

"[You] have used this as another excuse to further spread your campaign of hate, bigotry, and misinformation. Under the guise of national pride you have instigated crimes against the innocent and incited the subjugation of Muslims," it said. The statement added: "We will not allow your injustices, your lies, and your stupidity, to further radicalise our youth into fearing and despising their fellow man ... We do not forgive, we do not forget. Expect us !" A 50-year-old man who was arrested in Welling, south-east London, on Monday on suspicion of conspiracy to murder, in connection with the death of Rigby, has been bailed, the Metropolitan police said night.
© The Guardian

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Attacks on Muslims: numbers in detail (UK)

Statistics about so-called 'reprisal attacks' are being widely circulated. We attempt to understand the scale of the targeting of British Muslims following the Woolwich attack

28/5/2013- It's been almost a week since the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich. During that time, many have considered the consequences of the two attackers' actions for Britain's crime policy, its foreign policy and its media. Those who have discussed a risk of escalating violence in the wake of the attack have cited various statistics about Islamophobic incidents. We've examined the statistics available in the wake of the terrible events of Woolwich, what they mean, and the wider picture on hate crime across the country.

162 calls
Faith Matters, an organisation working to reduce extremism and interfaith tensions, has been one of the most cited sources for those who have noted an increase in anti-Muslim activity. Their site features a statement on the 162 calls received since Wednesday, up from a daily average of between four and six. To report these numbers, Faith Matters have drawn upon one of their pre-existing projects, Tell MAMA, whose name is an acronym explaining what they do, Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks. In its first 12 months since launching in March 2012, Tell MAMA reported that there had been 632 anti-Muslim hate incidents, 58% of which were against women. If reliable, Tell MAMA's reports over the past week represent a 15-fold increase on last year's average. They have also recorded ten attacks against mosques since Wednesday as shown below. These incidents, which have occurred across the UK, include smashed windows, attempted arson and, in the case of Cardiff's Shah Jalal mosque, bacon being left outside.

What these numbers mean
There's several things to say about these figures. Their strength is that this is not a one-off reporting project set up in the wake of a high-profile incident: we have a background figure of abuse recorded by Faith Matters – of around 28 to 42 calls a week. The second is that 162 calls in a few days is a very sharp increase, representing several weeks of incidents in normal time. It must be noted, however, that this may also reflect a higher level of reporting of incidents, and a higher national awareness of the project. It's perhaps worth looking in more depth at how Tell MAMA collect these numbers, and how they differ from official crime statistics.

Reliability
Individuals are able to report Islamophobic incidents in a number of ways: by filling in an online form, phoning their helpline, sending a text, email, tweet or message via Facebook. It's not clear how these reports are verified but Tell MAMA does explain how they classify attacks which include anti-Muslim graffiti, verbal threats and physical attacks against people or property. Where, some may ask, are the official statistics on this? Well, Fiyaz Mughal, co-ordinator of Tell MAMA has claimed that "police frequently fail to take victim statements" adding that "few police forces even bother to record Islamophobia as part of their reporting systems".

Though they might not specifically analyse Islamophobia, in September 2012, the Home Office released statistics on hate crime in England and Wales for the first time. These offences are defined as those:
committed against a person or property that is motivated by hostility towards someone based on their disability, race, religion, gender-identity or sexual orientation, whether perceived to be so by the victim or any other person.
The advantage of these statistics is also their greatest weakness - where classification is difficult, a single incident can be placed in multiple categories (e.g. race and religion) – which means some are double-counted.
Nevertheless, the official statistics do show that the largest category by far was race hate crime, where 35,816 incidents were recorded. Fewer hate crimes were motivated by hostility towards religion (1,621) - a similar amount to those against disability (1,744). Across all categories, most crimes involved violence against the person - this was the case for 75% of religious hate crimes, while 19% involved criminal damage.

Trends
Regional differences were also visible in these numbers. Leicestershire had the highest proportion of hate crimes per 1,000 reported crimes and also had the highest proportion of religion hate crimes, followed by London where there were 1.28 hate crimes per 1,000 population compared to a national average of 0.8. You can explore the statistics where you live using the Guardian Data interactive here. Unfortunately, because this last year was the first that the Home Office published data of this kind, it's not possible to make accurate historical comparisons. However a previous dataset, released in March 2012, does contain some fascinating detail. It shows that of those with an identified religion, Muslims were the most likely to be victims of religion hate crime. 2,167 Muslims aged 16 and over were victims of hate crime between 2009 and 2011.

Other victim trends include the fact that those aged 16-24 are most at risk of becoming victims of hate crime. Similarly, those in the ethnic group 'Asian or Asian British' were the most likely to be victims of hate crime - 2.1% of adults compared to an average of 0.5%. 3% of all crime recorded in the British Crime Survey were identified as hate crime - though this rose to 6% of all assaults with minor injury. Of all incidents recorded by Tell MAMA in the 12 months up to March this year, 54% were linked to members of the far right - namely British National Party and English Defence League (EDL) supporters. The EDL, who staged a protest on Monday blaming Islam for last week's brutal killing, are not outlawed in the UK. While campaigning for the election in 2010, David Cameron did however state "The EDL are terrible people, we would always keep these groups under review and if we needed to ban them, we would ban them or any groups which incite hatred".

• DATA: download the full spreadsheet
© The Guardian

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Mosque attack - men remanded in custody (UK)

28/5/2013- Two ex-soldiers have been remanded in custody this afternoon after being charged with arson with intent to endanger life. It follows an incident at the mosque on Weelsby Road, in Grimsby, on Sunday. tuart Harness, 33, of Dixon Avenue, Grimsby, and Gavin Humphries, 37, were arrested by police shortly after the incident took place. Both men appeared at Grimsby Magistrates' Court today. As reported, the attack followed an incident there last Thursday, when 11 teenagers were arrested after smashing windows and damaging cars. Police said those arrested had been drinking at a nearby house party and were seemingly left to their own devices, which resulted in the party getting out of hand and a group of teenagers causing a lot of damage and distress for residents in the area. Following early investigations, six of those people have been released without charge. Four 16-year-old boys and a 15-year-old boy have been released on bail until the end of June. There is no suggestion that the two offences are linked.
© The Grimsby Telegraph

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Police guard London mosque where thousands of Muslims gathered to condemn murder of soldier (UK)

27/5/2013- Police have been deployed to guard Morden mosque after around five thousand Muslims gathered there on Friday to condemn the murder of 25-year-old soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich, south-east London. The gathering of British Muslims from across the country took place at Western Europe's largest mosque in Surrey.
Worshippers offered prayers for Drummer Rigby and his family and expressed solidarity against extremism. National president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association UK Rafiq Hayat said: "We stand united with the rest of the country in sharing the deep sorrow and pain following the horrific senseless attack on Wednesday. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Drummer Lee Rigby. We hope that the perpetrators of this crime, that is based on a twisted and warped ideology, are brought to justice. "Islam is a religion of compassion and peace; a religion which considers the killing of an individual akin to killing the whole of humankind. Such acts of violence, therefore, have absolutely no place in Islam and can never be justified."

Similar condemnation was echoed in mosques throughout the UK. Police have since deployed officers to guard Morden mosque after threats appeared on social media sites, Facebook and Twitter, calling for it to be burnt to the ground. The mosque was targeted on a Facebook page named 'True British Patriots'. Users on the page referred to Muslims as “f****** muzzies” and called for mosques in Morden, Watford and Braintree in Essex to be burned to the ground. Drummer Rigby, from Langley, in Greater Manchester, was from 2nd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, had served in Afghanistan and was attached to the Regimental Recruiting Team when he was hacked to death on Wednesday afternoon. Two suspects were shot and arrested at the scene and remain in police custody.

Meanwhile nearly 100 senior British imams have signed a letter condemning the Woolwich attack. The letter read: "We share the absolute horror felt by the rest of British society at the sick and barbaric crime that was committed in the name of our religion. We condemn this heinous atrocity in the strongest possible terms. "It is a senseless act of pure depravity worthy of nothing but contempt. There can be no justification for murder." The document was signed by 94 imams, including Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain. It said that imams and Muslim organisations had spoken out "over the evils of terrorism" for many years, but recent events showed they cannot afford to be complacent. The imams also criticised some incidents which occurred in the aftermath of the killing. "Already we have seen extremists seeking to capitalise upon Wednesday's terrible act. There have been several attacks reported against mosques and Muslim citizens," they wrote.

"The hate-fuelled individuals behind such attacks wish to polarise and tear apart our great country for their own sick ends. They should be isolated and subject to the full force of the law." The letter went on: "We the British people are not so easily fooled; nor are we so easily divided. The overwhelming majority of the Muslim community stands united with the rest of society in condemning this awful tragedy." Tensions remain high across the UK following the murder. Police have vowed to take a zero tolerance approach to religious or racially-aggravated attacks.
© The Belfast Telegraph

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BNP and EDL accused of attempt to fuel racial hatred after Woolwich terror attack (UK)

Islamophobic hate crimes running at 10 times usual rate after murder of soldier

25/5/2013- Muslim leaders have accused far-right extremists of trying to capitalise on the “sick and barbaric” murder of Lee Rigby to fuel racial hatred. Islamophobic hate crimes are running at more than 10 times their usual rate, with more than 140 reported to a government-backed hotline in the 48 hours since the Woolwich killing. They include nine attacks on mosques, assaults, racial abuse and anti-Muslim graffiti. An improvised petrol bomb was thrown at a mosque in Milton Keynes during Friday prayers, while attacks have also been reported in Gillingham, Braintree, Bolton and Cambridge.

The British National Party leader, Nick Griffin, who visited Woolwich yesterday, provoked widespread disgust for tweeting that the alleged killers should be wrapped in “pig skin” and shot again. The English Defence League, which has said the killing shows Britain is “at war” with Islamic extremism, will stage a march today in Newcastle, where it will protest over plans to open an Islamic school. It is also planning a demonstration in central London on Monday.

Police arrested two people from Gateshead and another from Stockton, Teesside, ahead of today's march, for allegedly making racist tweets. Amid heavy security, Mr Griffin visited the site of the killing following a series of provocative tweets in which he claimed the attack was the result of “mass immigration”. The BNP leader, whose party’s electoral support has collapsed in the past three years, has also called for a show of strength by activists in Woolwich next Saturday under the banner “United against Muslim terror”.

In an unprecedented open letter, the heads of nearly 100 mosques said they shared the “absolute horror” felt by the rest of British society at the crime committed “in the name of our religion”. But they warned that across Britain “hate-fuelled individuals” had already attempted to attack mosques and individuals in the wake of Wednesday’s killing. They urged the public “not to be taken in” by the “mindless rantings” of extremists on both sides who, they said, should be “isolated and subject to the full force of the law”. The Muslim leaders said they wanted to make clear that the murder of Drummer Rigby was a “heinous atrocity worthy of nothing but contempt”. But they warned they had already seen extremists “seeking to capitalise upon Wednesday’s terrible act”. “The hate-fuelled individuals behind such attacks wish to polarise and tear apart our great country for their own sick ends,” they wrote. “They should be isolated and subject to the full force of the law.”

A spokesman for the hate crime hotline Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks said reported incidents were running at “a level we simply haven’t seen before”. He said: “Muslims at this moment are feeling a real and pervasive sense of fear.” Calls for action on the capital’s streets by the EDL and the BNP will leave the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, with the dilemma of whether to apply to the Home Secretary, Theresa May, to have them banned. A planned EDL march through Tower Hamlets in London, home to one of the country’s largest Muslim communities, was blocked by Ms May two years ago.

Far-right websites are linking the murder to population growth among ethnic minorities, while a number of social networking sites also carried messages calling for Muslim sites to be attacked. The “True British Patriots” Facebook page carried calls for mosques to be burned down. The official website of the National Front party berates “Muslim scum”. Sunder Katwala, director of the British Future think-tank, said: “The BNP and EDL, both in a state of near collapse, have little chance of using Woolwich to recover politically but their activities do often stir up local violence. Yet again the absurdly extreme Islamist clown Anjem Choudary shows he is a more effective recruiter for the far right than Nick Griffin has ever been. How much these two extremes need each other.”

In a speech in London, alongside representatives of the Army and the Muslim community, the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg expressed fears that the Woolwich atrocity could lead to long-lasting damage to community relations. “Fear is an extraordinarily powerful emotion and when it takes root,” he said, “it has a very, very corrosive effect on every part of our lives. We have a choice to either allow that powerful corrosive feeling of fear to seep into every second and minute and hour of our lives or we can make a choice that we’re not going to change our behaviour.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury called for community unity. Speaking after a meeting of faith leaders in Leicester, the Most Rev Justin Welby said: “I want to recognise the response of churches, mosques and other faith and civil society groups as well as those of brave individuals who have done so much to bring our communities together at this time. * A 22-year-old man will appear in court today after being arrested on suspicion of making malicious comments on Facebook following the murder of Lee Rigby. Benjamin Flatters, of Lincoln, was arrested after complaints made to Lincolnshire Police that alleged the comments were of a racist or anti-religious nature.
© The Independent

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Headlines 24 May, 2013

Four mosques attacked in Germany in 10 days

Islamic associations in Germany have called for stronger measures and a more determined fight against Islamophobic attacks in the country.

24/5/2013- Islamic associations in Germany have said that four mosques were attacked on 10 consecutive days after the trial of the terrorist National Socialist Underground (NSU) group began and called for stronger measures and a more determined fight against Islamophobic attacks in the country. The issue of Islamophobia in Germany came to the surface once again with the trial in which neo-Nazi suspect Beate Zschäpe and four alleged supporters of the NSU terrorist group stand accused of 10 murders. Eight of the victims were Turks, one was a Greek immigrant and the final victim was a German policewoman. The first session of the trial, was held on May 6. Despite the trial, Islamic associations in Germany claim that attacks against the Muslims in the country have not ceased. The Coordination Council of Muslims in Germany (KRM) has announced that mosques in Bullay, in the Rhineland-Palatinate state, as well as its capital, Mainz; the town of Lengerich in the Steinfurt district and the town of Düren in the district of the same name in North Rhine-Westphalia were attacked between May 10 and May 20.

The attackers wrote on the door of the mosque in Düren on May 20 that, “The NSU is alive and you will be the next victims.” The KRM condemned the incident and demanded that mosques in Germany be better protected during this sensitive period while the NSU trial is ongoing. In the attack that occurred on May 18, two unidentified assailants hung anti-Islamic posters on the walls of a mosque in Mainz. The other recent attacks on mosques involved stones thrown at mosques and other damage to mosque property. The KRM also noted that about 30 attacks took place against mosques in 2012. Nine of those attacks included arson. The KRM added that there might be more that they do not know of.

KRM spokesman Aiman Mazyek visited the mosque attacked in Mainz and said that it is time for the state and security units to come together with Muslims and representatives of Muslim associations to discuss how mosques can be better protected. Democracies are supposed to ensure security for places of worship, Mazyek noted. “Attacks against Muslims and their houses of worship have been increasing for years. And this shows us that this issue should be addressed not only by security units, but also the whole of society,” the spokesman stated. Speaking of the attacks to Turkish press, Ali Kızılkaya, the head of Germany's Islamic Council (Islamrat), said that statistics should be gathered specifically for anti-Islamic attacks and it should be made clear how frequently and in what places the attacks take place. The necessary measures should be taken in light of those statistics, he noted.

“We should be more careful now at a time when the NSU trial is ongoing. Muslims should be reassured, too. The state should adopt a stance that will be a deterrent to the extreme rightists. Once the existence of the NSU murders was revealed, nothing should have been the same again and the state should have fought against the extreme right-wing more seriously and determinedly. Yet, sadly, we have not seen any greater determination to this end,” he noted. The NSU trial was originally set to begin on April 17 but was postponed until May 6 following a heated debate over press accreditation. The Higher State Court of Munich previously did not allocate seats for Turkish media to follow the trial of five members of the neo-Nazi ring. In early April, the court reversed that decision after facing harsh criticism and decided to allow some Turkish journalists to attend the hearings.
© The World Bulletin

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Amnesty Report 2012: No longer business as usual for tyranny and injustice

Strong Arms Trade Treaty needed as UN Security Council looks unfit for purpose

24/5/2013- The courage shown by protesters in the past 12 months has been matched by a failure of leadership that makes the UN Security Council seem tired, out of step and increasingly unfit for purpose, Amnesty International said as it launched its 50th global human rights report with a call for a strong global Arms Trade Treaty later this year. “Failed leadership has gone global in the last year, with politicians responding to protests with brutality or indifference. Governments must show legitimate leadership and reject injustice by protecting the powerless and restraining the powerful. It is time to put people before corporations and rights before profits,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International Secretary General. The vocal and enthusiastic support for the protest movements shown by many global and regional powers in the early months of 2011, has not translated into action. As Egyptians go to the polls to vote for a new president, it looks increasingly as if the opportunities for change created by the protesters are being squandered.

“In the last year it has all too often become clear that opportunistic alliances and financial interests have trumped human rights as global powers jockey for influence in the Middle East and North Africa,” said Salil Shetty. “The language of human rights is adopted when it serves political or corporate agendas, and shelved
when inconvenient or standing in the way of profit.” A failure to intervene in Sri Lanka and inaction over crimes against humanity in Syria – one of Russia’s main customers for arms – left the UN Security Council looking redundant as a guardian of global peace. The emerging powerhouses of India, Brazil and South Africa have too often been complicit through their silence. “There is a clear and compelling case for the situation in Syria to be referred to the International Criminal Court for investigation of crimes against humanity. The determination of some UN Security Council members to shield Syria at any cost leaves accountability for these crimes elusive and is a betrayal of the Syrian people,” said Salil Shetty.

Amnesty International Report 2012 documents specific restrictions on free speech in at least 91 countries as well as cases of people tortured or otherwise ill-treated in at least 101 countries – in many cases for taking part in demonstrations. “Ousting individual leaders – however tyrannical – is not enough to deliver long-term change. Governments must uphold freedom of expression at home and abroad, take international responsibilities seriously, and invest in systems and structures that ensure justice, freedom and equality before the law.” The UN meeting to agree an Arms Trade Treaty in July will be an acid test for politicians to place rights over self-interest and profit. Without a strong treaty, the UN Security Council’s guardianship of global peace and security seems doomed to failure; its permanent members wielding an absolute veto on any resolution despite being the world’s largest arms suppliers. “Protesters have shown that change is possible. They have thrown down a gauntlet demanding that governments stand up for justice, equality and dignity. They have shown that leaders who don’t meet these expectations will no longer be accepted. After an inauspicious start 2012 must become the year of action,” said Salil Shetty.

Other global developments highlighted in Amnesty International Report 2012:
Highly repressive states including China threw the full weight of their security apparatus into the suffocation of protest. There was no improvement in North Korea’s horrific human rights situation.
In sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa uprisings resonated strongly with people – but excessive force was used against protesters in countries from Angola to Senegal to Uganda.
Social protest gathered strength in the Americas, frequently bringing people into confrontation with powerful economic and political interests. Activists were threatened and killed, including in Brazil, Colombia and Mexico.
In Russia, civic activism grew and the country saw its largest demonstrations since the collapse of the Soviet Union, but opposition voices were abused and systematically undermined.
There was no sign of significant change in countries such as Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. This year’s Eurovision Song Contest host, Azerbaijan, suppressed freedom of expression and 16 prisoners of conscience are still behind bars for raising their voices in 2011.
Violence followed South Sudan’s vote for independence but the UN Security Council – along with the African Union’s Peace and Security Council – again failed to condemn abuses including indiscriminate bombardments by the Sudanese Armed Forces, or the Sudanese government’s closure of affected states to humanitarian organizations.
In the Middle East and North Africa, as the uprisings occupied world attention, other deep-seated problems festered. Iran’s government was increasingly isolated, tolerated no dissent, and used the death penalty with an enthusiasm only outstripped by China, while Saudi Arabia cracked down on protesters.
Israel maintained its blockade of Gaza, prolonging the humanitarian crisis and continued to expand illegal settlements in the West Bank. Palestinian political organizations Fatah and Hamas targeted each other’s supporters; Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups mounted tit-for-tat attacks in Gaza.
Myanmar's government took a pivotal decision to free more than 300 political prisoners and allow Aung San Suu Kyi to contest elections. An escalation of conflict-related human rights violations in ethnic minority areas, as well as continuing harassment and detention of activists, however, suggested limits to the reform.
Trends included abuses against Indigenous communities in the Americas as drives to exploit resources intensified; worsening discrimination in Africa over people’s sexual orientation or gender identity; increased xenophobic rhetoric from some European politicians; and increased vulnerability to terrorist acts in Africa by Islamist armed groups.
Progress including the global trend towards abolition of the death penalty; the erosion of impunity for past abuses in the Americas; and landmark steps towards justice in Europe with the arrests of General Ratko Mladiæ and Croatian Serb Goran Hadžiæ, to face trial for crimes committed in the 1990s wars in former Yugoslavia.

Full report 2012   Europe and Central Asia (country by country bottom of the page)
© Amnesty International

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Czech Republic fails to deal with segregation of Romani students, AI report says

23/5/2013- The Czech government has not been able to efficiently prevent the segregation of Romany pupils and Romanies in the country still face attacks and forced relocation, the Amnesty International (AI) human rights watchdog says in its annual report for 2012 released yesterday. Besides, asylum seekers still have a difficult position in the Czech Republic, the report adds. The AI pointed to the problems of immigrants and the discrimination against Romanies in its report for 2011 as well. Intimidation and violent attacks on Romanies continued and the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) registered arson attacks on Romany households as well as anti-Romany rallies in the Czech Republic, the report says. According to intergovernmental institutions, NGOs and human rights experts, the Czech government was not able to take sufficient measures to prevent the segregation of Romany children at schools.

The U.N. Human Rights Council called on the Czech Republic in October 2012 to remove the segregation of Romany pupils. The Foreign Ministry in its commentary said the council at the same time praised the effort the government had put so far into Romanies' integration. In addition, the U.N. council repeatedly called on the Czech Republic to investigate the cases of Romany women sterilised without their consent and to compensate them. The Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks said in November that Czech practical schools for the slightly mentally disabled that replaced special schools contributed to Romany kids' segregation and racism. Therefore he called on the Czech government to abolish them and integrate their pupils into regular schools.

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in December concluded that only small progress was visible in the solution to the causes of Romany pupils' discrimination in the Czech Republic. However, it appreciated the government's commitment to remove the segregation. The AI report also summarises the shortcomings in the Romany housing, citing the example of the Prednadrazi ghetto in Ostrava, north Moravia, where over 300 families faced the threat of forced resettlement. In addition, NGOs criticised the Czech Republic for detaining asylum seekers and for not having efficient legal tools to redress the wrong practice. The AI report mentions the verdict of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg from last October saying the Czech Republic had unrightfully detained and kept Georgian asylum seeker Artur Buishvili at the Prague airport.
© The Prague Daily Monitor

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Court Cancels Ukraine's First Gay Pride Rally

A Ukrainian court on Thursday banned what would have been Ukraine's first-ever gay pride demonstration, upholding a suit by city authorities, who argued the rally would disturb annual Kiev Day celebrations and could spark violence.

23/5/2013- The ruling dashed the hopes of Ukraine's gay and lesbian community, who planned to use the event to fight discrimination and derogatory stereotypes of gays. Last year, organizers canceled the event at the last minute when skinheads gathered at its planned location, intent on beating up the participants. Still, two leading activists were brutally beaten by radicals in subsequent weeks. While the recognition of gay rights advances in much of the West, antipathy toward homosexuals remains strong in Ukraine and other parts of the former Soviet Union. Homosexuality was a criminal offense in the USSR and societal resistance to it remains strong two decades later. The highly influential Orthodox Church strongly opposes gay rights. A small gay pride rally in the capital of Georgia last week was attacked by a large mob that included Orthodox priests; attempted rallies in Moscow in recent years attract crowds of bellicose Orthodox conservatives. The gay community is now pondering whether to hold the even at a different location, far away from Kiev Day celebrations, or merely hold a press briefly on the banning of the rally. 

Amnesty International said in a recent report that Ukraine's gay community suffers attacks and abuses and widespread discrimination. Despite condemnation from the West, the Ukrainian parliament is debating several anti-gay bills, including one which would make any public positive depiction of homosexuality punishable by up to five years in prison. Ukraine scored 12 out of 100 points on the so-called Europe rainbow map, a study of gay rights and freedoms conducted by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association. By comparison, Britain had 77 points. "There is not enough information about who gays and lesbians really are," said Volodymyr Naumenko, a leading gay rights activist here. "They are people, first of all, they are people who want happiness for themselves."

While many Western countries debate and pass laws allowing gay marriage and gay adoption, those notions are still a distant dream for Ukrainian gays. Naumenko said his immediate concern is putting a stop to attacks on gays "and if they do beat you up, let it be prosecuted as a crime based on homophobia." Last year, a local gay-rights advocacy group, cited by Amnesty International, received 29 reports of violent attacks against gays and 36 complaints of threatened violence. Most of these crimes went unresolved, Amnesty said. Last May, the gay pride rally had to be called off at the last minute after scores of thugs had arrived near its planned location looking for trouble — some intent on defending traditional and church values, others with the goal of beating up gays. Even though the event was canceled, a top organizer was chased down by masked youths who kicked him in the head, legs and arms and then stomped on his back. Several weeks later another leading gay activist suffered a broken jaw and a concussion when he was attacked by men shouting homophobic insults. Naumenko, 24, says it took him a while to reveal his sexuality to his friends and parents, but eventually he became tired of having to lie when asked about his plans for a family or having to describe a boyfriend walking next to him as merely a friend, a colleague or a distant cousin.

"It's very unpleasant; you lie to the people who are dear to you," Naumenko told The Associated Press at a hotel on the outskirts of Kiev, where he was training organizers of the Saturday rally to maintain order and react to possible violence. Already, anti-gay communities on social media were seeking confrontation and plotting counter rallies and attacks. "How to stop this? Who to write to or call?" asked one member in a posting in one such online group. "Take a hammer and (strike) the skull," replied another. Gay community leaders say that less than 1 percent of Ukraine's gays and lesbians are open about their sexual orientation, while the rest are forced to hide from friends and co-workers and deceive their loved ones. "A situation in which people see you as someone from the Moon or from Mars or from a psychiatric hospital is painful," said Danil Los, a gay 23-year-old medical student who attended Naumenko's seminar.
© The Associated Press

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Macedonia 'Hiding' Rise in Hate Attacks, Report Says

The authorities in Skopje are ignoring and even concealing the rise in crimes inspired by ethnic and religious hatred, the Macedonian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights said. 

22/5/2013- A new survey by the Macedonian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights said the authorities are downplaying a rise in hate crimes, mostly committed for ethnic or religious reasons and involving ethnic Macedonians and Albanians. Attacks on gays and lesbians are also common. “We sense a tendency for these acts to be camouflaged as ‘violence’. Furthermore, the failure to recognise these acts [as hate crimes] has a tendency to concealment that paints a wrong picture of the situation,” said the head of the committee, Uranija Pirovska. The survey cites the example of a 13-year-old Albanian who was slashed with a knife after refusing to kiss a crucifix - a crime not even listed by Macedonian institutions as hate-related, according to the committee.

The survey says that in the past three years only 14 hate crimes cases have been recorded in courts across the country. The maximum sentence given was five months in jail, while most perpetrators were freed on probation. “This figure does not correspond with the reality in Macedonia,” said Voislav Stojanovski, legal advisor for the committee. “Even when perpetrators are discovered, they are being charged with ‘violence’, not for committing a hate crime, which is a graver form of crime,” Stojanovski added. According to the committee, based on reports from the general public, only in the past two months, since ethnically-charged protests erupted in Skopje in March, there have been at least 35 hate-crime cases. Most took place on public buses where angry encounters between ethnic Macedonian and Albanian pupils and students resulted in incidents.

In early March, ethnic Macedonian hooligans clashed with riot police in Skopje while protesting against the appointment of Talat Xhaferi, a former ethnic Albanian rebel commander, as the new defence minister. The next day, clashes escalated as Albanians took to the streets in a counter-protest, alleging they had been targeted by mob attacks. A year earlier, in March 2012, there was a similar spate of ethnically-motivated attacks in which adults and children were beaten and stabbed on buses in Skopje. In 2001, Macedonia went through a short-lived armed conflict between the security forces and ethnic Albanian insurgents. The conflict ended the same year with the signing of the Ohrid Accord, which guaranteed greater rights to Albanians.
© Balkan Insight

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Sports-related incidents spark slight rise in Dutch anti-Semitism

23/5/2013- The doubling of sports-related anti-Semitism last year led to the first increase in overall anti-Semitic incidents in three years in the Netherlands. In its annual monitor report on anti-Semitism, released Thursday, the Hague-based Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, or CIDI, counted 114 cases in 2012 compared to 113 cases the previous year. Thus, “2012 put an end to a two-year decline registered in 2010 and 2011 in the overall number of anti-Semitic incidents,” the Dutch-Jewish watchdog group reported. Sports-related incidents accounted for 10 percent of the total figure in 2012, compared to less than 5 percent the previous year. Six of the cases documented in 2012 involved violence or physical intimidation compared to four incidents in 2011. Two people told CIDI they intended to leave the Netherlands because of anti-Semitism, the report also said. Earlier this month, Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said that “even in the city of Amsterdam, anti-Semitism is being justified because of real and perceived injustices in the Middle East.” CIDI report (Dutch)
© JTA News

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Vandalism at Poland's Blonie cemetery destroys last traces of a Jewish past

Local police have yet to find clues as to who smashed the cemetery's five remaining tombstones - the final vestiges of a once 1,200-strong community that was taken by the Nazis to the Warsaw Ghetto in 1941

24/5/2013- The Jewish cemetery in the Polish town of Blonie, one of the smallest and most ancient in the country, was, to all intents and purposes, destroyed in April after vandals smashed its five remaining tombstones. In fact, the destruction of the cemetery took with it the final remnants of the area's once 1,200-strong Jewish community, transported by the Nazis to the Warsaw Ghetto in 1941. Police in Poland believe the act of vandalism was carried out on the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. Authorities have further requested that anyone with information as to the perpetrators' identity call a hotline. So far, no calls have been received.

Local residents refused to answer Haaretz's questions about the event. The Mayor of Blonie, Zenon Reszka, also refused to respond. His office replied that the area was not owned by the municipality and that therefore it was not responsible for its safekeeping. The office of the regional governor announced it had no responsibility either, despite the fact that the cemetery was the last resting place of Jewish soldiers in the Polish army, who perished in the battles against Nazi Germany in the beginning of the Second World War.

Two years ago, employees of the Museum of the History of the Polish Jews found 40 tombstones in the overgrown vegetation of the Blonie cemetery, and transferred them to be safeguarded elsewhere. All the other tombstones were stolen throughout the years, and probably used for private construction. Museum employees discovered signs of digging in some of the open graves. It is believed that these were searched for hidden treasures.

Several years ago the Jewish community approached the Polish Interior Ministry and requested that it accept responsibility for the cemetery, but since it could present no documents as to its ownership, the request was rejected. Now the authorities are willing to hand over the site without any bureaucratic procedures, but it appears that the Warsaw community does not have the funds needed to preserve the cemetery, especially since it is already responsible for preserving 74 other cemeteries throughout Poland.

The Warsaw community's spokesperson, Joanna Korzeniowska, told the local press that the community would try to reach an arrangement with the municipality of Blonie. Judging by recent experience, however, the chances are not very high. Still, progressive organizations in Poland, especially youth movements that have preserved similar sites in other villages, promised to take care of the cemetery, or at the very least, see to it that it is properly fenced off.
© Haaretz

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'Jews to blame for Holocaust' professor investigated for hate crime (Poland)

21/5/2013- Prosecutors are investigating whether Polish historian Krzysztof Jasiewicz committed a hate crime when he claimed that “Jews worked for generations to bring about the Holocaust”. The remarks by Professor Jasiewicz were made in a special edition of Focus magazine to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Jewish Ghetto Uprising this April. In the interview for the magazine, Jasiewicz - an employee at the Polish Academy of Sciences and the author of many academic papers on Polish/Jewish and Polish/Soviet history - said: “For many generations, the Jews, not the Catholic Church, worked to bring the Holocaust about. It looks like the Jews haven’t learned their lesson and haven’t come to any conclusions yet.”

On pogroms committed by Poles on Jews – such as in the village of Jedwabne in 1941 when hundreds of Jews were burnt to death in a barn by their Polish neighbours – Jasiewicz told Focus magazine: “I am completely convinced that the crime at Jedwabne and other pogroms were not committed to seize Jewish property or as revenge for the many terrible things that Jews did to Poles in the past. The pogroms were mostly motivated by great fear of Jews.” “I am convinced that there is no point in dialogue with the Jews, because it doesn’t lead anywhere,” said Jasiewicz in another part of the interview with the popular science magazine.

Under Articles 256 and 257 of the Polish Penal Code, the historian, who is a member of the Polish PEN club, could face up to three years in prison for incitement to hatred and publicly insulting a national, ethnic, racial or religious group. In April, the Scientific Council of the Political Studies department at the Polish Academy of Sciences concluded that Jasiewicz had insulted the victims of the Holocaust and diminished the guilt of the perpetrators. "The Scientific Council regrets recent statements about Jews contained in Focus magazine by Professor Krzysztof Jasiewicz, a member of staff at the Academy. These were an expression of his personal views, which the Council does not share,” a council communiqué said after the meeting.

“On behalf of the Jewish community of Warsaw we are deeply indignant at the words of Professor Krzysztof Jasiewicz,” the board of the Jewish Community of Warsaw said after the interview was published, days before the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising anniversary on 19 April and opening to the public for the first time of Warsaw's new Museum to the History of Polish Jews. “We are deeply concerned by this interview, and especially by the decision of the editor-in-chief of Focus to allow such an embarrassing article to be published,” the statement continues.

Editor of Focus magazine, Michal Wojcik has written that though the 61 year-old Jasiewicz's views are "extreme and outrageous, we decided to publish this interview, because in our opinion, however paradoxical this sounds, it shows something very important. […] We have shown that anti-Semitism, even among men of science, does not just belong to the past”.
© The News - Poland

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PSNI say damage at Belfast Islamic centre was a hate crime (Northern Ireland)

A milk bottle filled with paint was thrown at the building

24/5/2013- The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) says it is treating an incident of criminal damage at an Islamic centre in Belfast last night as a 'hate crime'. The centre in the Wellington Park area of Belfast City was targeted at about 10pm. A milk bottle filled with paint was thrown at the building. However no one was injured. A number of mosques have been attacked in England following the murder of soldier Lee Rigby on Wednesday. PSNI officers say all lines of inquiry will be examined. South Belfast MLA Jimmy Spratt has condemned those responsible for the attack, saying "There can be absolutely no justification however for an attack on any place of worship or on a building associated with any ethnic or religious community". "This attack on the Islamic Centre is a hate crime and I would hope that the PSNI will be able to apprehend those responsible and they will face the full weight of the law" he added. Anyone who witnessed it or who has any information is asked to contact the PSNI.
© Newstalk

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Two mosques vandalised, far-right group attack police (UK)

23/5/2013- Two men have been arrested after separate attacks on mosques following the Woolwich terrorist attack. A 43-year-old man is in custody on suspicion of attempted arson after reportedly walking into a mosque with a knife in Braintree, Essex, UK. No one was thought to have been injured. Essex Police said a 43-year-old from Braintree was arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon and attempted arson. The spokesman added that police were investigating the "full circumstances" and said "it would not be appropriate to speculate at this time". Meanwhile, police in Kent were called to reports of criminal damage at a mosque in Canterbury Street, Gillingham, at 8.40pm. A spokesman said a man is in custody on suspicion of racially-aggravated criminal damage. Supporters of the far-right English Defence League (EDL) gathered at Woolwich Arsenal train station near the scene of the attack and threw bottles at police. EDL leader Tommy Robinson, who was among a group of around 250 men, said: "They're chopping our soldiers' heads off. This is Islam. That's what we've seen today." He added: "They've cut off one of our Army's heads off on the streets of London." The secretary of the mosque in Braintree, Sikander Saleemy, said that he felt like it was a "revenge attack".
© The Herald

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The far right: BNP and EDL mobilise as mainstream leaders strive to contain backlash (UK)

Extremist groups plan rallies as fears of revenge attacks grow

23/5/2013- Fears of a backlash against Muslim communities were rising last night despite attempts to calm anger at the savage killing in Woolwich. David Cameron was among the politicians and community leaders who spoke out to describe the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby as a "betrayal of Islam" as much as it was an attack on the British way of life. But the shocking brutality of the soldier's death has been seized upon by far-right groups as justification for their anti-immigrant and anti-Islam views. Those hoping to stoke religious and racial tensions include the English Defence League (EDL), which is planning a demonstration in Newcastle this weekend.

Dozens of the far-right group's supporters – many in hoods and balaclavas – clashed with police and local people after gathering outside the Queen's Arms pub in Woolwich on Wednesday night. Its leader Tommy Robinson told the crowd: "There has to be a reaction, for the Government to listen, for the police to listen, to understand how angry this British public are." Nick Griffin, leader of the British National Party, has announced plans to stage a demonstration in Woolwich on Saturday next week, under the banner "United Against Muslim Terror".

Muslims and Nigerians living close to the scene of the killing have raised concerns that they fear revenge attacks and Tell Mama, an organisation which monitors anti-Islam hate, reported a sudden rise in public and online calls for violent retribution. Lucky Awale was among those living in the area who fears a backlash. "We are just asking for people not to take the wrong impression, the wrong idea, and take revenge on Muslims," she said. On Wednesday night a man was arrested in Braintree, Essex, after it was alleged he walked into a mosque armed with a knife and threatened to set it alight. A mosque in Gillingham, Kent, suffered criminal damage. While most politicians were quick to say that Islam was not responsible for the killers' actions, former Home Secretary Jack Straw urged British Muslims to help root out the corrupted ideology that inspired such "Stone Age savagery".

"We can't ignore the fact that, in this century, most religious-based terrorism draws its justification from a distorted view of Islam," he said on BBC Radio 4's World At One. "In other centuries it was Christianity or Hinduism… However it's just a fact of life that extreme versions, not of Christianity, Judaism or Hinduism, but of Islam are used as justifications for this kind of terrorism. We have to have that dialogue within the community." Mr Cameron responded to fears of a backlash when he emerged from a Cobra meeting by praising the role of Muslims in Britain and saying they shared the anger and disgust at the killing as much as anyone else.

"This was not just an attack on Britain and on the British way of life, it was also a betrayal of Islam and of the Muslim communities who give so much to our country. There is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act," he said. His sentiments were echoed by Ed Miliband, the Labour leader: "There will be people who try to use events like this to divide us and they will fail too." Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, said: "One obvious point, it is completely wrong to blame this killing on Islam." Senior officers in the Metropolitan Police downplayed the threat of public disorder but said they would be monitoring any potential threat and working with local communities.
© The Independent

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Attacks on Muslims spike after Woolwich killing (UK)

Police deploy extra patrols to Islamic sites as people report verbal, physical and online abuse, including threats to kill

23/5/2013- Fears of a prolonged backlash against Muslims have intensified after dozens of Islamophobic incidents were reported in the wake of the murder of the British soldier Lee Rigby in south London. The Tell Mama hotline for recording Islamophobic crimes and incidents recorded 38 incidents over Wednesday night, including attacks on three mosques, with more reported on Thursday. The Metropolitan police put 1,200 more officers on the street on Thursday, with extra patrols deployed to mosques and religious sites as far-right groups reacted to the tragedy. The Tell Mama co-ordinator Fiyaz Mughal, from Faith Matters, said the service usually recorded three or four incidents on an average day, but the spike after Wednesday's killing reflected simmering resentment against Muslims and was unlikely to fizzle out. "What we are seeing is concerted action from individuals across the country," he said. "We are really concerned. When you see a wider picture of resentment and retribution, this is telling us it's an increasing problem. Something is moving in a very disturbing direction."

A 43-year-old man was being questioned on Thursday on suspicion of attempted arson and possession of an offensive weapon at a mosque in Braintree, Essex. The local MP, Brooks Newmark, tweeted that the man was carrying "knives and an incendiary device". Another man was held on suspicion of racially aggravated criminal damage after Kent police were called to an incident at a mosque in Gillingham, Kent. Graffiti attacks were reported on mosques in Bolton, where cars parked outside were also vandalised on Wednesday night, and in Cambridge on Thursday. The incidents compiled by Tell Mama, which monitors news feeds and social media as well as taking calls from the public, included seven incidents of Muslims being abused – including being spat at or threatened in the streets – another five mosques being threatened, and dozens of other online threats.

On the "True British Patriots" Facebook page, there were calls for mosques in Watford in Hertfordshire and Morden, south London, to be burned down. The incidents came despite prompt and unequivocal condemnation of the murder by leaders of Muslim groups, including the Muslim Council of Britain, the Ramadhan Foundation and the Islamic Society of Britain, as well as individual Muslims, a number of whom took to social networks to express their disgust.

"We can't allow the voices of [the British National party leader] Nick Griffin and the far right to become louder than ours in the coming days," Julie Siddiqi, of the Islamic Society of Britain, told Radio 4's Today programme. "All of the Muslim organisations have come out with the strongest possible terms to say there is absolutely no excuse whatsoever, no justification for anything like this." But Mughal warned: "I think the damage has been done." He said his own address had been posted on Twitter, with users invited to shoot him. In response to the heightened tension, he has contacted mosques and police ahead of Friday prayers amid fears that far-right groups may try to confront worshippers.

Hours after the murder, the English Defence League held a demonstration in Woolwich, during which supporters, some wearing balaclavas printed with "EDL", engaged in running battles with police for almost an hour. They have since announced another gathering, to be held outside Downing Street on Monday, ostensibly to show support for British troops. The league's Twitter account went into overdrive and thousands of people "liked" its Facebook page after the killing, although some people posting were challenging its ideology and ridiculing its beliefs. The BNP announced its own demonstration in Woolwich on 1 June.

The Met assistant commander, Mark Rowley, revealed that officers were monitoring social media for signs of people trying to exploit the attack to foment trouble. "Anybody seeing this as an opportunity to protest, cause mischief, or create tension is unhelpful and unwelcome, and we'd rather it did not happen," he said. David Cameron and the London mayor, Boris Johnson, said the beliefs of the suspected attackers were alien to Islam. "This was not just an attack on Britain and on the British way of life; it was also a betrayal of Islam and of the Muslim communities who give so much to our country," the prime minister said. "There is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act." Johnson said it was "completely wrong to blame this killing on the religion of Islam".

Dr Matthew Feldman, co-director of the soon to be launched Centre for Fascist, Anti-Fascist and Post-Fascist studies at Teesside University, said extremist Muslims and groups such as the EDL "need each other". He said he feared they could engage in tit-for-tat attacks, with each side justifying its existence in terms of the other. "We need to call out people who use this violence to advance what are clearly prejudicial agendas," he said.
© The Guardian

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Anti-Muslim sentiments on rise in UK: British minister

Britain's first ever minister for faith Sayeeda Warsi told TOI in an exclusive interview that "UK is witnessing a rising level of anti-Muslim sentiments" with hate crimes increasing by the day
 
22/5/2013- According to latest figures available with the department of community and faith, 60% of all religious hate crimes reported to police in Britain are now perpetrated against Muslims. Baroness Warsi told TOI that Islamophobia is rising in UK and the reluctance to report such hate crimes by the community is fanning the trend. She told TOI that "Sikhs have been attacked and abused on the roads and public places by people who have mistaken them to be Muslims." Baroness Warsi also revealed some worrying stats. Less than 1 in 4 people believe Islam is compatible with the British way of life causing "underlying, unfounded mistrust" against the Muslim community.

She told TOI "The Muslim and Asian community, facing racial attacks end up feeling it is their fault. I don't want the British Muslim community to get into a sense of victimhood. The community needs to react and raise a voice against such attacks. Between May and July we are having four different conferences in order to address exactly how the community can raise their voice and reduce hate crimes. Mosques can encourage members to report any incidents of hate crime," she said.
UK's first national anti-Muslim hate crime helpline recently revealed some disturbing findings.

More Muslim women are at the receiving end of increased hate crimes in UK, most of them physically attacked, harassed or intimidated because of their faith. According to the helpline Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) which is supported actively by Baroness Warsi, in its first year itself, the helpline has recorded 632 cases of hate crime against Muslim women. The organization says this is just a fraction of the total number of anti-Muslim incidents affecting ordinary Muslims in UK. MAMA has recorded some shocking incidents-a five-year-old girl was hit by a car because she was Muslim. A pregnant woman watched her husband being beaten up by her neighbour's boyfriend, in front of the children, while another Muslim family was forced from their home in Nottinghamshire, a cross wrapped in ham on their doorstep the last straw. A young woman had faces thrust onto her Hijab as she was walking in a south London street.

Hate crime on social media has become common in UK-three-quarters (74%) of incidents reported to MAMA took place over Twitter and Facebook. Baroness Warsi and Jemima Khan have also been subject to online threats picked up and reported to the police by MAMA. Extreme violence featured in 23 of the cases. The majority of those physically attacked on the street were Muslim women, wearing either the hijab or niqab. Over half (58%) of the cases involved female victims. Visibly-identified far-right British National Party (BNP) or English Defence League (EDL) members were linked to over half (54%) of all incidents. MAMA said "Our work has led to the arrests of 21 far-right EDL supporters, with over 40 incidents reported against EDL leader Tommy Robinson alone. Eighteen prosecutions have taken place, although we would like the police and CPS to do much more in this area, (only two police forces-the Metropolitan Police and City of London Police-record Islamophobia as part of their crime statistics). MAMA says there is no conflict between being 'British' and being 'Muslim'. As many as 83% of Muslims said they were proud to be British, compared to 79% of Britons overall.
© The Times of India

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Gay couple beaten in park urge MPs to moderate language on gay marriage (UK)

The two men fear that vocal opposition to same-sex marriage is legitimising homophobia

20/5/2013- A gay couple who were beaten by a gang of youths in a suspected homphobic robbery last weekend – leaving one with head injuries – have urged politicians to moderate their language when debating same-sex marriage. Christopher Bryant, editor of gay and lesbian online magazine Polari, was on his way home from his birthday celebrations with partner Damon Truluck when they were confronted by a group of six men on Saturday night. The two men were beaten and told to “stay down… faggot” as they walked through Betts Park in Bromley, south London, Mr Bryant told The Independent yesterday. “We were about a third of the way across the park, we saw a bunch of guys under a street lamp near one of the exits about 100 feet away from us. They started to follow us. “We started to run… but they grabbed Damon so I turned and went back. That’s when three of them pulled me to one side. There was lots of shouting, they pushed me on the ground and when I turned to see what was happening to Damon, one of them said ‘stay down you fucking faggot’.”

During the attack, Mr Bryant, 42, was kicked several times in the head and punched. He was left with head injuries, and his wallet and phone were stolen. Mr Truluck, 38, was pinned down by the neck, punched and repeatedly kicked in the back and sustained neck injuries as a result. Police were treating the attack on Mr Bryant and his partner as robbery with a homophobic element. The ambush took place just hours after Mr Bryant had been working to promote International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO), a global awareness-building campaign: “It was a big day and an important day. [At the magazine Polari] we get reported tales of homophobia sent to us that are horrific,” he said.

As a number of Conservative MPs expressed their opposition to gay marriage yesterday, Mr Bryant said he feared that homophobic attitudes were being legitimised by politicians. “It is about giving people a legitimate narrative. At the moment MPs are saying ‘the situation is not equal for you’. By denying active equality they are inherently saying there is something wrong with [being gay], without actually saying it,” he said. “A lot of kids in particular seem to be as homophobic now as they ever were. Our social circles tend to be limited. We tend to circulate with like-minded people, it is only when we step out of those worlds that we realise there is so much we don’t see.”

Police found CCTV footage of the couple entering the park at around 12.30am on Sunday and then leaving less than 20 minutes later, but were unable to find images inside the park, which is close to the couple’s home. Officers are carrying out an extensive search of cameras in the area in a bid to identify the attackers, who are believed to have been in their late teens or early twenties and were wearing hooded tops at the time. Last month it was revealed that a quarter of gay people in the European Union had been attacked, in a study of 93,000 people. According to figures published last year, there were 4,252 sexual orientation hate crimes recorded by police in Britain between 2011 and 2012.
© The Independent

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US State Department Releases 2012 International Religious Freedom Report

20/5/2013- The US State Department released Monday its 2012 International Religious Freedom Report, which notes that religious freedom is declining in many parts of the world. Speaking at its presentation, Secretary of State John Kerry said the report, “shines light on the challenges that people face as they seek nothing more than the basic religious freedom, the right to worship as they wish. And its release here today is a demonstration of the abiding commitment of the American people and the entire U.S. Government to the advancement of freedom of religion worldwide.” “Freedom of religion is a core American value. It’s one that helped to create our country,” Kerry said, adding, “It’s been at the center of our national consciousness since the 1600s, when the Pilgrims fled rebellious – religious persecution and landed in my home state of Massachusetts. And many of these folks settled in the city of Salem, which takes its name from the words ‘salaam’ or ‘shalom,’ meaning ‘peace.’”

According to the State Department report, the right to religious freedom is inherent in every human being. “Unfortunately, this right was challenged in myriad ways in 2012. One of the basic elements of the International Religious Freedom Act is the requirement that the Department of State publish an annual report on the status of religious freedom in countries around the world, and the record of governments in protecting–or not protecting–this universal right.” For 2012, some common themes regarding the status of religious freedom around the world emerged, according to the State Department report, in general, these themes reveal negative trends, and often cut across national and regional boundaries. “The individual reports provide the details, but these worrying trends–and the authoritarian governments that restrict their citizens’ ability to practice their religion–merit highlighting.”

Anti-semitism and anti-Muslim rhetoric on the rise, says report 
The report notes the global rise of anti-semitism and anti-Muslim rhetoric. Anti-Muslim rhetoric was most often found in the EU and Asia. Anti-semitism was most noted Venezuela, Egypt, Iran, Ukraine, Russia, Greece, Argentina and Hungary.
© The Eurasia Review

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'Neo-Nazi' gang bloodies victim in bottle attack (Spain)

A group of eight 'neo-Nazis' attacked three youths in the Spanish city of Valladolid, breaking a bottle over one person's head before kicking him on the ground.

20/5/2013- Three youths walking home in the early hours of Sunday morning were violently assaulted by a group of 'Neo-Nazis' in Valladolid, the capital city of the autonomous region of Castile and León in Spain. Online journal últimoCero reported that the attack was focussed on two of the three victims. A witness recalled that, "They broke a bottle over one person's head, then started kicking him on the ground." "They also pushed and punched another person but the third avoided the aggression." The alarm was raised by a worker in the area who saw the incident which he described as "started by the neo-Nazis." According to the witness, the victim struck with the bottle was "bleeding profusely from the head." "His clothes were soaked with blood and his trousers were ripped from being on the ground."

The witness expressed his astonishment that when police arrived, only one of the two officers present got out of the squad car. "The first thing he did was to go over to the kid who had his head split open and his clothes soaked with blood and demand to see his ID." An ambulance arrived while the policeman took details of the incident and transported the injured youths to hospital. Official sources confirmed that the two hospitalized youths had not filed a police complaint but did not rule out the possibility that others in the area may have done so on their behalf. The same sources also noted that the two victims "had not referred at any time to being attacked by neo-Nazis" but that they "confirmed that their attackers were dressed in black and wearing a well-known brand of sports shoe."

The attack coincided with the end of a neo-Nazi meeting in the nearby headquarters of the far right National Democracy party. A presentation titled "Indo-European Spanish Nationality" had concluded only hours before the incident. ÚltimoCero reports that this is not the first attack in Valladolid attributed to neo-Nazis in recent weeks. A musician was stabbed by a neo-Nazi youth on April 27th. The perpetrator of the stabbing, who is under 18 years old and has a history of similar offences, is known by the nickname of 'Heineken'. He was later arrested at a youth detention centre in Zamora where he was already incarcerated for his role in a third incident.
© The Local - Spain

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Romanian Journalist physically attacked

20/5/2013- On May 17th, a Romanian journalist was verbally harassed and physically attacked. While walking the streets of Bucharest, in the middle of the day, Mircea Marian, a journalist with a national daily newspaper was pushed around by a man who called him “JIDAN” (KIKE). According to the media, the incident took place while two policemen who were nearby stood and did not intervene. Only later on, other policemen took over the case which is now analyzed by the authorities. The Romanian media published the case expressing its outrage generated by the fact that a journalist was attacked. Also some leading Romanian NGO’s highlighted the incident and asked the authorities to act swiftly for making sure that journalists will not be abused again. The Prime Minister of Romania, Mr. Victor Ponta asked the authorities to investigate the case in depth. The authorities announced that a criminal investigation, for public assault, was opened against the aggressor.

However no one in Romania approached, directly or indirectly, the anti-Semitism behind the incident. Yes, the “JIDAN” expression was published but no one said/wrote a single word against it and about the need to take a firm stand against the aggressor because of his anti-Semitism. The only institution to point out the anti-Semitism and the need to take a firm stand against it was, as usual, MCA Romania-The Center for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism in Romania. So once again, generally speaking, the anti-Semitism was swept under the carpet. Once again the media, the politicians missed the opportunity to show a change of mentality, some deeper understanding of the anti-Semitic phenomena that is affecting a society, virtually left without the Jewish minority (less than 3500 Jews live today in Romania).

In his interview published by the media, the attacked journalist did not speak about the anti-Semitism involved in the incident but he did mention the fact that he felt the need to defend himself by saying that he is a Christian Orthodox. However he felt that it was shameful to act so and he did not do it. This kind of defense reminds of the times when many Jews changed their “Jewish” names to “Romanian” names in order to avoid exposure to social and political harassment and discrimination. It seems that motives that triggered that kind of self-preservation attitude are still present in Romania.

What that means? If a simple citizen, a Jew would be harassed on the street by the same aggressor, in the same manner as the journalist was, would the media write about it? Would then the Prime Minister ask for a firm investigation? We will find more about it when we will learn how the prosecutors will handle the case and when the ruling on this matter will be published. Then we might learn how deep the anti-Semitism is buried in the local mentality and spirit.
© MCA Romania-The Center for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism

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Neo-Nazis to Slaughter Greece Muslims

Neo-Nazis have given a one-month ultimatum for Muslims to leave Greece or they will be "slaughtered like chicken".

18/5/2013- "Muslim Murderers, until June 30 you shut your bordela in Greece and you will go to hell," reads a letter sent to the web-page of the Muslim Association of Greece and cited by EnetEnglish website. "From July 1 onwards those who are still here will [be] slaughtered like chickens on the road." Written in Greek, English and Arabic, the letter uses vulgar language against Muslims in Greece. It threatens that if Muslims do not leave the country, "there will be blood" The emblem of a neo-Nazi, fascist group, the Golden Dawn, was printed on the letter.

Aided by current economic woes in Greece, the far-right Golden Dawn has been gaining popularity over its hostile rhetoric against immigrants. The party has been blamed for recent attacks against immigrants in Greece, which is a major gateway for mostly Asian and African migrants trying to enter the European Union. The Muslim Association confirmed that the letter is addressed to Muslims and not to immigrants. "And this indicates that the religious hatred against humans is undisguised." It urged Greek authorities "to make certain that all citizens are enjoying equal law and that we are not prey in every asymmetric threat".

Muslims account for nearly 1.3 percent of Greece’s 10.7 million population. Anti-Muslim tide has been on the rise in debt-hit Greece, which is battling a growing recession that has brought thousands of job layoffs. In 2011, Muslims holding an open-air prayer near the city centre in Athens to celebrate `Eid Al-Adha, were harassed by local residents who threw eggs at them and blared loud music from windows.
© On Islam

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Police: Fatal NYC shooting an anti-gay hate crime (USA)

19/5/2013- A gunman used homophobic slurs before firing a fatal shot point-blank into a man's face on a Manhattan street alive with a weekend midnight crowd, in a neighborhood long known as a bedrock of the gay rights movement. New York's police commissioner called the killing a hate crime. Before opening fire early Saturday, the gunman confronted the victim and his companion in Greenwich Village and asked if they "want to die here," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. The violence follows a series of recent bias attacks on gay men in New York, but this was the first deadly one. Kelly said police were looking into possible links between the incidents.

The shooting stunned a city where, in many neighborhoods, same-sex couples walk freely holding hands. It also comes at a time when the gay marriage movement is gaining momentum in many parts of the United States. Twelve states have legalized same-sex marriage, including New York in 2011. Christine Quinn, the New York City Council speaker who is bidding to be the city's first gay mayor, said there was a time in New York when hate crimes were a common occurrence — when two people of the same gender could not walk down the street arm in arm without fear of violence and harassment. "We refuse to go back to that time," said Quinn, who represents Greenwich Village in the city council. "This kind of shocking and senseless violence, so deeply rooted in hate, has no place in a city whose greatest strength will always be its diversity."

About 15 minutes before the bloodshed, Kelly said the gunman was seen urinating outside an upscale restaurant a few blocks from the Stonewall Inn, the site of 1969 riots that helped give rise to the modern gay-rights movement when patrons at a gay bar reacted to police harassment. The gunman went inside the restaurant and asked if someone was going to call the police about him. Police said the gunman, identified later as 33-year-old Elliot Morales, told both the bartender and the manager, "if you do call the police, I'll shoot you" and opened his sweatshirt to reveal a shoulder holster with a revolver and made anti-gay remarks, Kelly said. Morales has a previous arrest for attempted murder in 1998, police said. Details of that arrest weren't immediately clear. Out on the street minutes later, the gunman and two others approached the 32-year-old victim, identified by police as Harlem resident Marc Carson, and a companion. One of the three men yelled out, "What are you, gay wrestlers?" according to Kelly.

The two men stopped, turned and, according to Kelly, said to the group taunting them, "What did you say?" — then kept walking. "There were no words that would aggravate the situation spoken by the victims here," the commissioner said. "This fully looks to be a hate crime, a bias crime." Two of the men kept following the victim and his companion, Kelly said, adding that witnesses saw the pair approach from behind while repeating anti-gay slurs. The gunman asked the men if they were together and when he got an affirmative answer, Kelly said, "we believe that the perpetrator says to the victim, 'Do you want to die here?'" That's when suspect produced the revolver and fired one shot into Carson's cheek, Kelly said.

The gunman fled but was caught a few streets down by an officer who had heard a description on his radio spotted him and ordered him to stop, Kelly said. The suspected gunman threw his revolver to the ground and was arrested on the edge of the New York University campus. Police found the mortally wounded victim on the pavement. He was pronounced dead at a hospital. Authorities said they could not immediately identify Morales because he was carrying forged identification. But investigators learned his name after the forged ID was submitted to the department's Facial Recognition Unit. Of the other recent New York bias attacks on gay men, one was reported last week in the same neighborhood, where a 35-year-old man told police he was beaten up and heard anti-gay words after leaving a bar.

On May 10, two men trying to enter a billiards hall in midtown Manhattan were approached and beaten by a group shouting homophobic slurs, police said. And on May 5, a man and his partner were beaten near the Madison Square Garden arena after a group of men hurled anti-gay slurs at them. Multiple lawmakers have condemned the violence. New York State Sen. Brad Hoylman called on New Yorkers "to unite against hate and gun violence." And State Assemblywoman Deborah Glick declared that "New York is not open for bigotry." The New York City Anti-Violence Project plans to gather on Friday night for what it calls a "Community Safety Night."
© The Associated Press

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Headlines 17 May, 2013

Bad News For Georgia's Gay Community

Thousands of anti-gay protesters, including Orthodox priests, occupied a central street in Georgia's capital Friday, with some threatening to lash with stinging nettles any participant in a gay pride parade which was to take place there.

17/5/2013- Police in Tbilisi guarded several dozen gay activists and bused them out of the city center shortly after they arrived at the gathering. Those occupying the street held posters reading "We don't need Sodom and Gomorrah!" and "Democracy does not equal immorality!" Police, however, failed to prevent scuffles, which resulted in 16 people getting injured, the ambulance service said. A number of protesters carrying bunches of stinging nettles threatened to use them on gay activists. They insist that homosexuality runs against Georgia's traditional Orthodox Christian values. Father David, a priest who was one of the organizers of Friday's anti-gay rally, said the parade "insults people's traditions and national sentiments." A gay rally in Tbilisi last year was also short-lived and ended in a scuffle.

Georgia's authorities had given the green light for the gay parade to take place, saying that all Georgian citizens, irrespective of their sexuality, are entitled to voice their views in public. "We are against the propaganda of homosexuality," 21-year-old student Nikolai Kiladze said. "If we need to allow parades like this in order to become a member of the European Union or other Western organizations and blocs, then I'm against joining these organizations." Georgia's human rights ombudsman, Uchi Nanuashvili, said it is "deplorable" that gay people's constitutional rights were violated on Rustavi Street on Friday.
© The Associated Press

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Memorial for deported Jews, Sinti and Roma destroyed again (Germany)

To restore the first destruction cost 41,000 euros, restauration largely funded by donations

The in mid-March vandalised memorial for the deported Jews, Sinti and Roma had been re-erected to the tune of 41 000 euros, funded in large part by donations. Now it is destroyed again, the city of Darmstadt complains. "This repeated damage to the freight yard sign makes me very sad and also gives cause for concern," said Mayor Jochen Partsch, after he became aware of the damage to the freight station. Against the background of NSU process in Munich, which highlights how active militant right-wing terrorism in this country is currently. It is necessary to clean up as soon as possible, "weather if there is a specific right-wing destruction or a criminal damage to property without a political background." Together with the victims of the initiative groups "owie Denkzeichen" the damage to the monument must investigated and it must be considered how it can be restored again. Partsch: "My goal is to have a dignified and safe place for the memorial goods station."

The Denkzeichen freight station was built in 2004 in memory of the Jews, Sinti and Roma who were deported from the former goods station in Darmstadt 1942/1943, to the extermination camps. The memorial was designed by the artist couple Ritula Frankel and Nicholas Morris. it shows a buffer stop and railroad tracks leading to a glass cube. Inside the cube there are shards of glass on which 450 names are engraved, representing 3,400 people from Darmstadt and the region, which were brought from this place to the concentration camps of Eastern Europe. On the night of 9 on the 10th July 2006, the memorial was severely damaged by rampaging youths. The memorial mark stood until the end of 2012 in damaged condition at the train yard. On the occasion of the "Darmstadt commemorative year against the forgetting" the cube was removed, restored and reinstalled. The costs of around € 41,000 was raised by engaged citizens, institutions and the city of Darmstadt. The memorial reopend  again on 11 March at the start of the commemorative year 2013, "Against Forgetting".

Translation: I CARE
© Echo Online

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Neo-Nazi Trial: Excrement Smeared on Lawyer's Office Door (Germany)

Excrement and urine have been splattered on the Munich office of a lawyer representing plaintiffs in Germany's biggest neo-Nazi trial. Police suspect far-right extremists were behind the incident, just one of several apparently intended to intimidate anti-racist and immigrant groups as the trial gets underway.

17/5/2013- Since the landmark trial of neo-Nazi Beate Zschäpe began this month, a number of anti-extremist groups have been the target of far-right attacks, a media report said on Friday. Only now, the attempts at intimidation have taken a decidedly unsavory new tone, with right-wing extremists suspected of smearing a lawyer's office with fecal matter and urine. The door of the Munich office, which belongs to a lawyer representing family members of a victim of the neo-Nazi terrorist cell, the National Socialist Underground (NSU), was "extensively" daubed with excrement and urine on Monday morning, according to daily Süddeutsche Zeitung. "It is unlikely that this is a coincidence," the paper wrote.

A housing project in Westend -- the same district of the Bavarian capital where the NSU committed one of its 10 alleged murders -- and the office of refugee counselling service were among other places to have been vandalized a total of seven times with things like neo-Nazi slogans and eggings, the paper said. The latest incident occurred on Thursday night, when the home of anti-racist activists was pelted with paint bombs. Police suspect that right-wing extremists are behind the attacks, but are not currently investigating any individuals. "They want us to feel unsafe," one of the activists told the paper. "We won't allow ourselves to be intimidated."

The NSU trial, the biggest Germany has seen in decades, has sharpened the focus on the problem of neo-Nazi activity in the country. Beate Zschäpe, the last surviving member of the terrorist cell, is alleged to have helped form the neo-Nazi group with Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt, who both committed suicide after a botched bank robbery in November 2011. Zschäpe was allegedly complicit in the racially motivated killing of eight men of Turkish descent, one Greek man and a German policewoman between 2000 and 2007. She also allegedly took part in orchestrating a 2004 bomb attack that injured 22 in a district of Cologne in which many Turks live. Four alleged accomplices are on trial with Zschäpe, who faces a possible life sentence.
© The Spiegel

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The EU’s largest LGBT hate crime and discrimination online survey ever conducted shows that many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people cannot be themselves in their daily lives. Many hide their identity and live in isolation or even fear. Others experience discrimination, and even violence, when being themselves.

17/5/2013- The survey was carried out by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA). The results underline the need to promote and protect fundamental rights for LGBT people so they too can live their lives with dignity. “Everyone should feel free to be themselves at home, work, at school and in public – but clearly, LGBT people often don’t. Results from FRA’s survey show that fear, isolation and discrimination are common in Europe’s LGBT community,” says FRA Director Morten Kjaerum. “We need EU-wide action to break down the barriers, eliminate the hate and create a society where everyone can fully enjoy their rights, no matter what their sexual orientation or gender identity is.”

Some of the difficulties many LGBT people face include:
Schooling: 2 out of 3 LGBT respondents were hiding or disguising being LGBT at school. At least 60% personally experienced negative comments or conduct at school because they were LGBT while over 80% in every EU Member State recall negative comments or bullying of LGBT youth at school. Therefore, Member States need to ensure LGBT students feel safe at school as this is where negative LGBT experiences, societal prejudices and exclusion often begin. This could include LGBT awareness campaigns for teachers and pupils and policies against homophobic bullying.

Work: 19% of respondents felt discriminated against at work or when looking for a job, despite legal protection under EU law. This underlines the need for EU-wide action to counter the many obstacles LGBT people face to their basic rights in their everyday life.

Fear: 26% of LGBT people who answered the survey had been attacked or threatened with violence in the last five years. 66% of respondents across all EU Member States were scared of holding hands in public with a same-sex partner. For gay and bisexual men respondents it was about 75%. This shows that LGBT victims need recognition and protection EU-wide and nationally to counter harassment and hate crime that results in LGBT people living in fear. This could include police training and victim support services as well as laws against hate speech and hate crime.

The survey also reveals that transgender people are the most affected among LGBT respondents to have personally felt discriminated against, particularly in employment and healthcare. About 30% said they were victims of violence or threats of violence more than three times in the year before the survey. High levels of under-reporting of instances of discrimination and hate crime were also detected. This is despite 56% of respondents being aware of laws against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. Half of all victims of violence and harassment felt that the police would do nothing. This pattern is not unique to the LGBT group researched. FRA found such under-reporting also in other groups, for instance, among members of ethnic minorities (See FRA hate crime reports, 2012).

The survey asked LGBT people whether they had experienced discrimination, violence, verbal abuse or hate speech on the grounds of their sexual orientation or gender identity. They were also asked to identify where such incidents took place, such as at school, work, when seeking healthcare or in public places. The analysis of the survey findings are contained in two reports. They will feed into discussions in the EU and Member States on legislation and policies to improve the situation for LGBT people.


© EU Fundamental Rights Agency

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Ukraine: new report reveals pervasive homophobia

A new report by Amnesty International reveals homophobia reached endemic levels in Ukraine 

16/5/2013- A report launched in Kiev a day before the International Day Against Homophobia, shows that homophobia and anti LGBT discrimination is spiraling out of control in the Ukraine. The 17 page report launched today (16 May), entitled ‘Nothing to be proud of: Discrimination against LGBTI people in Ukraine’, highlights a number of violent attacks on individuals. It concludes that, as a matter of urgency, that the Ukrainian government must introduce legislation to address discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity which are non-existent in the Ukraine. A Pride march planned for last May was cancelled at the last moment because of threats of violence and the failure of the Kiev police to put in place adequate security measures to protect marchers. Immediately after the cancellation, and in the months that followed, some of the organizers were targeted and attacked with tear gas because of their association with the event. None of the investigations into these attacks has been concluded.

Another case highlighted by the report was of Armen Ovcharuk, a young gay man, who was hit on the head as he walked from one gay nightclub in Kiev on October 2012, dying a few days later from the injuries. Amnesty has received no response from Ukraine’s Ministry of Interior about the progress of the investigation into the attack, or whether it has been recorded and investigated as a hate crime. Max Tucker, an Amnesty International expert on Ukraine, said: ‘People have been beaten and in one case murdered because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Most of these crimes have not been properly investigated and have gone unpunished. ‘To add insult to injury, the possibility of attack is now routinely used as an excuse to deprive gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people of their rights to express themselves, to associate and assemble, and to hold public events in a peaceful manner.

‘The police must guarantee adequate police protection for LGBTI groups seeking to demonstrate peacefully. The police’s failure to adequately protect the participants and organizers of last year’s Kiev Pride march amounts to a violation of the participants’ right to freedom of assembly. ‘The police must redress this failure by professionally ensuring Ukraine’s first LGBTI Pride march takes place on 25 May in Kiev without hindrance and with adequate police protection. A further failure to protect LGBTI groups exercising their right to peaceful assembly would not bode well for Ukraine’s aspirations to move closer to the European Union. ‘If the government of Ukraine is to succeed in these ambitions it must bring its legislation into line with European human rights standards. It must ensure that all people, including LGBTI people, are treated equally.” The report also details endemic discrimination by officials and members of the public towards LGBTI people.

It also adds that attacks on LGBTI people are being fuelled by negative stereotypical and discriminatory statements from elected government officials and church leaders. However, rather than addressing discrimination against LGBTI people, Parliament is now discussing laws criminalizing the ‘propaganda of homosexuality’ which will restrict fundamental human rights, including the freedom of expression and assembly. A Ukrainian non-governmental organization received 29 reports of violent attacks against LGBTI people by members of the public in Ukraine in 2012, and 36 reports of threats of violence. It has also has documented 49 cases of human rights violations committed by police against LGBTI people, including illegal detention, blackmail, torture and other ill-treatment in 2012.
© Gay Star News

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Israeli Eurovision delegation threatened in Sweden

Member of the Israeli delegation tells Swedish radio he and two compatriots were threatened on the streets of Malmo.  

16/5/2013- A member of the Israeli delegation to the Eurovision song contest in Malmo, Sweden, said he and two of his compatriots were threatened on the street. Alon Amir told Sveriges Radio on Tuesday that he and the other two Israelis were accosted by a group of young men. Amir told the men he was from Cyprus “because I knew where it was heading,” he told Sveriges Radio on Tuesday. “They said: ‘Where are the Israelis staying, we want to bomb the place,’” Amir said. “It wasn’t a joke.” Several dozen anti-Semitic incidents per year occur annually in Malmo, a city with about 1,000 Jews, where approximately 30 percent of the population comes from Muslim countries. The Swedish court system did not convict anyone of hate crimes in Malmo in 2010 and 2011 despite registering 480 complaints. On Wednesday, the chairman of the Malmo municipality’s Culture Committee, Daniel Sestrajcic, said Israel should be boycotted from the Eurovision – a major international event with delegations from 39 countries. “Israel can return when Palestine is free,” he shouted at a demonstration commemorating Nakba Day.

In a statement on May 14, Rolf K. Nilsson, a Swedish lawmaker, condemned Sestrajcic for making Malmo “once again emerge as an anti-Semitic, anti-Jew and anti-Israeli city.” The competition in Malmo is scheduled to end Saturday. Hundreds of Jews and non-Jews are planning to walk together that day through the streets of Malmo while wearing kippahs as a sign of their opposition to anti-Semitism. Malmo’s outgoing mayor, Ilamr Reepalu, has been accused of encouraging anti-Semitism with statements he made, including drawing an analogy between anti-Semitism and Zionism and suggesting Jews distance themselves from Zionism to stay safe. Last year, assailants set off an explosive device outside the city’s Jewish Community Center and vandalized the building. No one has been indicted for the incident, which police said was not classified as a hate crime.
© JTA News

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Anti-racism bill sent to parliament (Greece)

The bill raises prison sentences and financial penalties for racist attacks, and is due to be debated on May 21 

16/5/2013- An anti-racism bill the government had was due to be tabled in parliament last week has finally been presented to the house. The bill had gone back to the prime minister's office for consultation, according to Eleftherotypia newspaper, but was returned to parliament on Wednesday unchanged. It is to be debated on May 21. The bill raises financial and prison penalties for racist offences, which have been on the rise during the six-year recession. On Tuesday, unknown assailants beat a 20 year-old Syrian immigrant with wooden batons outside Attiki metro station in central Athens. The assailants were wearing black clothing, the trademark colour of the far-right Golden Dawn party. The Syrian man was taken by other migrants to Doctors of the World, where first aid treatment was administered. "He bore marks from punches to his face, and he was bleeding from the nose," said Nikitas Kanakis, former head of Doctors of the World. A Syrian boy aged 14 had been attacked two days earlier. His assailants cut his face with a broken glass bottle.

On the morning of the same day, five unknown arsonists burned a shop in the Agios Panteleimonas neighbourhood of western Athens, which was owned by an immigrant from Cameroon. Apparently the arsonists had visited the shopkeeper the previous evening and abused him verbally, saying that they would burn his shop. Police say they have arrested two of them and are looking for the other three. These are just two of the most recent incidents of what is turning into an epidemic of racist behaviour. A new watchdog formed by 30 NGOs, 1against racism, recorded 154 attacks last year, or one every two and a half days. Earlier this year police created a dedicated Service Against Racist Violence within the police force to receive reports of racist acts and initiate arrests.
© Enet English

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Czech Jews document tripling of online anti-Semitism

14/5/2013- The Jewish Community of Prague documented a tripling of online instances of anti-Semitic hate speech last year. The increase, which the community links to a Jewish politician’s presidential bid, among other factors, was documented in an annual report on anti-Semitism published Tuesday. The community documented 82 instances of online hate speech on Czech websites in the last year, compared to only 26 the previous year. According to idnes.cz, a news site, the report attributes the increase to the presidential campaign ahead of elections last January. Jan Fischer, a Jewish politician, was considered a leading candidate but did not make it past the first round. “The presidential elections have revealed a degree of latent anti-Semitism in some groups, but certainly did not indicate anti-Semitism in the majority or mainstream political speech,” the authors of the report wrote. Other causes listed were a strategic shift in extreme-right circles to online activity; escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; and warm relations between the Czech government and Israel, idnes.cz reported. The authors recorded no physical assault or threats due to anti-Semitism in 2012, but did register six attacks on property and ten instances of harassment, mainly via email. The report further states that the overall prevalence of anti-Semitism is lower in the Czech Republic than in other European countries.
© JTA News

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More attacks on gays in France

More gay men in France have become the victim of abuse and other forms of violence in 2012 than in the previous year. Especially in the last quarter of last year there was a sharp increase, SOS Homophobie reported in its annual report (in French). They think that the increase late last year related to the debate on the legalization of gay marriage in the French parliament. In total SOS Homophobie received about 2000 reports of abuse of gays, bisexuals and transgenders. That's about a quarter more than in 2011. In December, the number of reports was three times as high as in December of the previous year.
© I CARE News

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Photograph of Afghan teen victim of race attack published (Greece)

14/5/2013- Daily newspaper Efimerida ton Syntakton on Tuesday published a chilling photograph of a 14-year-old Afghan teenager who was attacked in central Athens on Monday, May 6, by three men who beat him and carved his face with a broken bottle. The newspaper said that it reached the controversial decision to publish the photograph in order to prompt a response from authorities to the vicious attack, which comes in the wake of similar assaults around Greece on migrants. According to the report, the unnamed teenager told the Doctors of the World nongovernmental group, which treated him for his injuries and has been overseeing his case ever since, that he was approached by three men wearing black t-shirts with a stamp of "two intertwined laurel branches and another symbol in the middle." He said they demanded to see his identification papers and when the teenager told them he was from Afghanistan they began beating him and cutting his face with a broken beer bottle.

The injured youth was taken to a Doctors of the World free clinic by a group of his compatriots, where he received 300 stitches on his face alone, the newspaper said. The organization reported the incident to an Athens prosecutor, which now has protective custody of the youth with the supervision of Doctors of the World. "This was yet another incident of racially motivated violence that reached our office," the organization's chief, Nikitas Kanakis, told News 247 in the aftermath of the attack. "What makes this particular case different is that it concerns a boy. It can only be defined as barbaric." Kanakis said that his organization has seen an escalation in street violence. He also added that the case of the teenager brings to light the problem of undocumented minors who are without adult supervision. "He was all alone, without any support. His parents had left the country and he had stayed in Greece," Kanakis said.
© Kathimerini

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UKIP councillor: 'Islam cancer which needs to be cured with radiation' on Facebook 'to step down' (UK)

Worcestershire councillor Eric Kitson, 59, has admitted will have to quit; He shared series of controversial anti-Muslim and anti-Semetic messages; Mr Kitson admits he has been 'stupid' but maintains he's not a racist; 'I thought I could handle politics, but I can't - I don't see how I can carry on'

14/5/2013- A UKIP councillor has announced he will probably have to step down after less than two weeks because he posted a series of offensive messages about Jews and Muslims online. Eric Kitson, 59, has admitted 'I don't see how I can possibly carry on' after sharing racist cartoons and messages on Facebook. One included a picture of a nuclear weapon exploding emblazoned with the message: 'Some cancers need to be treated with radiation, Islam is one of them'. He also shared an image of a Muslim being roasted over a pile of burning Korans, as well as several anti-Semitic outbursts linking the Rothschild banking dynasty to Adolf Hitler. In one comment he said in reference to Muslim women: 'Hang um all first then ask questions later.' The councillor from Stourport, Worcestershire, has apologised to residents and party colleagues for his 'stupid' actions. But he denied being racist and claimed he had shared the material to expose the 'unacceptable' views they contained. He said: 'I thought I could handle politics, but I can't - I don't see how I can possibly carry on. 'I'm not a racist, all my friends know me better than that. 'What I wrote was stupid, but it wasn't racist. I am not racist. I'm the only white guy on my local five-a-side football team. 'I wanted to show people this is bad, this is wrong. What I should have done is write something on them about how bad it is but I didn't.
© The Daily Mail

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Northern Ireland: 80% of homophobic crime is not reported

Eight out of 10 people who experienced homophobic discrimination in Northern Ireland do not report the crime, a report by the Northern Ireland Equality Commision revealed.

13/5/2013- Michael Wardlow, chief commissioner said that 44% of the LGBT community were not aware of the way that the law can help protect them against intolerance and discrimination. “The highest level of negativity was reserved for the smaller minority of people who struggle with their gender identity – trans people. Everyone has the same rights under our equality and hate crime laws to lead a life free from discrimination, abuse or harassment. But prejudice is still rife,” said Mr Wardlow. Mr Wardlow added: “We have already recognised the need to take special measures to address under-reporting of sexual orientation discrimination here in Northern Ireland. We recently launched a new suite of digital resources for the LGB community under the SoMe (Sexual orientation More equality) brand. “We recognise the particular sensitivities around dealing with discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

“We know that we need to make particular efforts to reach out to LGBT individuals who may feel that they are totally alone and that they have no recourse against unfair treatment. These are the people who could really benefit from our staff’s advice, support and experience. Individuals can be reassured of receiving a confidential and supportive response when they seek our help.” 246 homophobic incidents were reported to the Police Service of Northern Ireland in the last year, a 23% rise on the previous year. Transphobic crimes doubled during the past year, although from a very low base in the previous year from three to six.
© Pink News

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Halstead: Transphobic abuse investigated as hate crime (UK)

12/5/2013- Police have given a warning to a woman accused of transphobic abuse. A transsexual, who has asked to be named only as Maddie, claims she has suffered a barrage of abuse at the hands of the woman. Police have confirmed they have now investigated one particular incident and taken action. An Essex Police spokesman said: “Following an incident on April 22 in Halstead police have investigated it as a hate crime and a woman has received a warning.”
© The Halstead Gazette

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Macedonian Police Target Roma with Excessive Force

13/5/2013- The ERRC is deeply concerned about media reports which indicate that a special police unit, along with the regular police force, used excessive and arbitrary force when they entered a Roma neighbourhood to arrest a man who had committed a crime while on leave from prison. Around 50 police officers used force against Roma on 5 May, indiscriminately targeting individuals, including women, in the course of the operation. Roma from the Topana neighbourhood told the ERRC that officers forcibly entered several Romani houses and local shops without providing any explanation; harassing and pushing people, often in the presence of children. Roma reported that police officers kicked and punched them with fists and police batons. Around ten Romani individuals were beaten up, including three women.

Official reports state that Roma resisted arrest, throwing stones at police forces. However eyewitness reports clearly indicate the police response was indiscriminate and out of all proportion. Media in Macedonia released a video showing the police actions. The Ministry of the Interior made a statement saying that anyone who believes their rights were violated should file a complaint. This response is clearly inadequate. This police action is in contrary to fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Macedonian Constitution and international human rights treaties, including the right to physical and moral integrity, right to liberty and security, right to privacy, and ultimately the right not to be subject to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Such conduct is also incompatible with national codes.

The ERRC calls on the relevant authorities to: conduct an independent, thorough and effective investigation into the legality of the police and action in line with the obligations enshrined in the European Convention of Human Rights; to ensure that the investigation fully explores any evidence of discriminatory action or bias motivation and to make public the scope, methods and findings of the investigation in this case.
© European Roma Rights Center

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Arrests over 'anti-gay' murder in Volgograd Russia

Police in southern Russia are questioning three men over a murder reportedly motivated by homophobia.

13/5/2013- The victim's naked body had been dumped in a courtyard in the city of Volgograd. His skull was smashed and he had been raped with beer bottles. A suspect told police he had been killed because he was gay. But the victim's family and friends say he was not homosexual and investigators have told the BBC there is no reason to believe he was. The victim, 23-year-old Vladislav Tornovoi, was reportedly drinking beer with three men in a children's playground when they fell out. His body was discovered on Friday after World War II Victory Day celebrations in Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad. The first reports about the motive for the killing sparked fears among Russia's gay community and civil rights activists.

'He was normal'
A video of one of the suspects appeared online in which he was asked why Mr Tornovoi was attacked. "Because he said he was gay," the suspect replied. Igor Kekshin, a friend of the dead man, told the BBC the victim had been drinking with men he had grown up with in the area. Mr Kekshin said Mr Tornovoi had never shown any interest in people of the same sex and had mixed with a lot of girls. Contacted by the BBC, investigators in Volgograd said: "We have no information about him belonging to this cast of people or not. "A lot of media are writing about this and the parents of this lad are going about complaining." According to the investigators, the victim's parents said he was not gay.

Community fears
Gay rights activists said the case highlighted growing intolerance in Russia and accused the authorities of encouraging intolerance. There are fears that homophobia is being fuelled by legislation banning gay parades and dissemination of "homosexual propaganda" to anyone under 18. In January a bill banning "homosexual propaganda" passed its first reading in the Russian parliament. The second reading is planned for 25 May. The bill envisages a nationwide ban on events promoting gay rights and big fines for the organisers. A similar law is already in force in St Petersburg. The European Court of Human Rights has fined Russia for banning gay pride marches in Moscow. A prominent gay activist in Russia, Nikolai Alexeyev, says the gay community has asked the Moscow authorities for permission to hold a march in the city centre this month, despite the previous refusals. The request offered two dates - 25 or 26 May - to celebrate 20 years since Russia stopped treating homosexuality as a criminal offence, Interfax news agency reports.
© BBC News

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Russian tortured to death for 'being gay'

12/5/2013- A 23-year-old man has been tortured to death in Russia in an apparent homophobic attack, investigators say, amid growing fears by rights groups that anti-gay sentiments are on the rise in the country. The victim's battered and naked body was found in the courtyard of an apartment building in the southern city of Volgograd on Friday morning, said a spokeswoman for regional investigators. The young man had suffered numerous injuries, including to the genitalia, and had been sodomised with several beer bottles. "He was raped with beer bottles and had his skull smashed with a stone," Natalia Kunitskaya, a spokeswoman for the Volgograd region branch of the Investigative Committee, told AFP. She confirmed the attack was believed to have been a hate crime, in a rare admission from Russian law enforcement agencies on the sensitive issue of homophobia in the country.

Two men aged 22 and 27 have been detained in connection with the attack, the Moscow-based Investigative Committee said in a statement on Saturday. One of the suspects has a criminal history, investigators said. The victim was said to have been drinking with the two men, apparently while celebrating Victory Day which Russia marks on May 9. Regional investigator Andrei Gapchenko told Echo of Moscow radio on Saturday that two men started beating the victim after he told them he was gay. The Investigative Committee's tersely-worded statement said investigators had opened a murder probe, without commenting on possible motives for the killing. Russia decriminalised homosexuality in 1993 and officially removed it from the list of psychiatric disorders in 1999. But homophobia remains widespread and socially acceptable, and almost no public figures have come out as gay.

Several Russian regions have outraged rights campaigners by approving local laws banning "gay propaganda" among minors, in legislation which is now being discussed at the federal parliament. President Vladimir Putin, who prides himself on his macho image, has repeatedly denied that Russia was violating gay rights. But he recently warned that Russia could change agreements for the adoption of Russian children with Western countries that are legalising gay marriage, such as France.
© The Herald Sun

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Three Hungarians sentenced for accosting Jews during WJC Budapest meet

12/5/2013- A Hungarian court convicted three men who accosted Jews in Budapest during the World Jewish Congress General Assembly. In an expedited court procedure on May 9, a man identified by the Hungarian news site Hir24 as Gabor M. was sentenced to three years in jail. The others, identified as Gabor E. and David V., were given suspended sentences of two years. Gabor M. appealed the verdict, according to the news site. The men, all in their 20s, belonged to a group of about a dozen neo-Nazis who accosted a group of visitors to the WJC assembly on May 3 at the Hungarian capital’s Deak Ferenc Square. The Hir24 report did not say what charges were brought against the men, but according to Kossuth Radio they were arrested on suspicion that they intended to physically assault the Jewish visitors. The three followed the visitors from the Dohany Street Synagogue and made Nazi salutes at them and shouted Nazi slogans. Gabor M. received a tougher sentence because of earlier convictions for violence, a spokesman for the Budapest Prosecutor’s Office said, according to reports.
© JTA News

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Headlines 10 May, 2013

Hungarian newspaper fined for Orban ally's Roma slur

8/5/2013- Hungary's media regulator said Wednesday it was fining a pro-government newspaper over a column by a prominent right-wing journalist close to Prime Minister Viktor Orban describing the Roma minority as "animals". Following a stabbing incident involving young Roma men, Zsolt Bayer, one of the founders of Orban's Fidesz party, wrote in January: "Most Gypsies are not suitable for cohabitation. "They are not suitable for being among people. Most are animals, and behave like animals. They shouldn't be tolerated or understood, but avenged. Animals should not exist. In no way," he said. Orban has long been accused of pandering to the openly anti-Semitic and racist far-right Jobbik party and of presiding over a rise in xenophobia in the EU member state, although he says he abhors any such feelings.

The media regulator said that the article in the Magyar Hirlap newspaper, headlined "Those Who Shouldn't Exist", was "not in harmony with regulations on media content and press freedom pertaining to hate speech and discriminatory content." It said it was fining the newspaper 250,000 forints (833 euros, $1,120) and ordered it to publish the decision in both its print and online versions, while also prohibiting it from publishing similar content in the future. After the remarks sparked protests in Hungary and abroad Bayer said his comments were "deliberately misinterpreted". "I don't want to liquidate Gypsies, neither some of them nor a single one," he said. "I want order, I want every respectable Gypsy to be happy in this country and every Gypsy who is incapable of and unsuitable for living together to be excluded from society," he added. The Roma people, also called Gypsies though many consider the term pejorative, are a minority in several eastern and central European countries.
© AFP

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Hate crime study ordered by government (Denmark)

The government wants to better understand the scope of hate crimes in Denmark so that it can create more effective and targeted initiatives to tackle the issue 

7/5/2013- Too little is known about the extent of hate crimes in Denmark according to the social affairs minister, Karen Hækkerup (Socialdemokraterne), who has called for a new study to be carried out to examine the issue. According to the latest figures from the domestic intelligence agency PET, in 2011 there were 195 reported crimes that were definitely motivated by hate for the victim’s religion, race, political stance or sexuality. “Hate crimes are an expression of extreme intolerance,” Hækkerup stated in a press release. “They pose not only a threat to the safety of individuals but are also an attack on democracy, which is built upon ensuring freedom and equality for all residents.” She added that efforts to tackle hate crimes are hindered by the fact that there is currently too little data covering the scope of the issue. “What is the actual scope [of hate crimes]? Who are the victims and why do so few report the crimes? Who are the perpetrators and what are their motivations? These are some of the questions I want answered,” Hækkerup stated.

Statistics about hate crimes vary widely. Police crime statistics contain far fewer reports of hate crimes than expected based upon surveys of the victims of crime that are carried out by the Justice Ministry and human rights organisations. A 2011 report on hate crimes written by the Danish Institute for Human Rights (IMR) concluded that “Denmark does not offer effective legal protection from hate crimes." They recommend that the police and PET become better at noting in their reports when a crime could be motivated by hate. Their research also suggests that victims don’t report crimes because they don’t feel like the police take the problem seriously. Some 75 percent of hate crimes reported in 2011 were motivated either by race or politics (35 and 40 percent respectively) while the remainder were motivated by the victim's sexuality or religion.

The Social and Immigration Ministry have put the study out to tender and should find an organisation to take on the task before the summer.
© The Copenhagen Post

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Glenavy caravan fire was 'hate crime' (N-Ireland)

7/5/2013- A caravan belonging to a young Traveller couple has been destroyed in a fire in Glenavy, Co Antrim. Police received report of the blaze at Main Street shortly after 2am on Tuesday. Officers attended along with fire and rescue crew to find the caravan had been decimated. A relative of the married couple, aged 18 and 22, said they lost their home and all their belongings in the fire and described the incident as an "appalling attack". The pair were not in the caravan at the time of the fire. A PSNI spokesperson said they are treating the incident as a hate crime. Police have appealed for anyone with information to contact them at Lisburn on 0845 600 8000 or through the Crimestoppers charity.
© UTV News

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New app for hate crime victims in Hampshire (UK)

8/5/2013- A mobile phone app listing where victims of hate crime can get support has been launched in Hampshire. The free app, available to download for free on iPhone and Android phones, has been developed for Hampshire Constabulary and was piloted in the western area of the force. It includes detailed information about crimes targeting a victim’s race, sexual orientation, transgender identity, disability, religion, age or refugee or asylum status. It also encourages people to report such crimes. PC Ahmed Sasso, who came up with the idea, said: “The communities we serve across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight are diverse and the app is another tool to help us connect with them. “The idea is to provide information in one handy place about hate crimes including how to report them, how to stay safe and what support is available for victims.” He added: “We treat all reports of a hate crime or hate incident very seriously. They are cowardly and unacceptable crimes which can affect not only the victim but also their family, friends, and in certain cases, a whole section of a community.” The Helping Victims of Hate Crime app will be officially launched on Tuesday, May 14, at the Ageas Bowl, home of Hampshire Cricket Club.
© This is Hampshire

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West Yorkshire Police have confirmed that a pig’s head was brandished during a far right demonstration in Leeds.

8/5/2013- It was initially reported on the YEP’s website that severed pigs’ heads were allegedly thrown by English Defence League supporters during a rally outside the derelict Lingfield pub in Alwoodley on Saturday. That section of the story was removed after police issued a statement which said that it was “inaccurate”. The statement said: “A man was spotted wearing a latex pigs mask which did come off and may at some point have been thrown in the crowd during the protest. “But at no point were protesters seen throwing animal parts of any kind.” However, after evidence was published on Facebook and Youtube, the force has now released a new statement. A spokesman said: “Having viewed subsequent footage of the demonstration and spoken directly with officers involved we can confirm there was a pig’s head found on the floor in the crowd which was quickly removed by officers and disposed of. “This was in addition to the latex mask.” Four people were arrested during Saturday’s demonstration, which was organised to protest against plans to turn the pub into a Muslim-run community centre.
© The Yorkhire Evening Post

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Police launch probe into race hate crime spree (UK)

6/5/2013- Headscarves have been torn off two Muslim women amid a spate of racist attacks carried out by children as young as eight. The young women, said to in their early 20s, were left ­“traumatised” by the ordeal that saw two children hurl ­racist abuse before ripping off the hijabs. The culprits are believed to be aged eight and 14. The incident, on Tuesday afternoon, follows a spike in hate crimes against Polish and Muslim residents at Wester Hailes Park over the past week. Cars have been vandalised with spray paint and racist slogans daubed in a stairwell. A Polish man and woman have also reported a sustained campaign of racist abuse by youths that culminated in a stone-throwing attack.

Beefed-up police patrols are now in place to crack down on the disorder. Area police inspector Stevie Dolan has moved to reassure ethnic minorities fearing for their safety. He branded the incidents “unacceptable” and vowed to trace the children responsible. Inspector Dolan said: “Since last Monday there has been a spate of incidents and there isn’t normally a significant number of hate crimes reported in that area. “We need to make sure other members of the community of an ethnic minority background know the police are treating this seriously. We need to reassure members of the Muslim community that we are doing our utmost to trace those responsible.” He added: “I have officers committed to this ­full-time.”

Police have approached local schools as part of the investigation and are poring over CCTV footage for evidence. An appeal has been made to local parents to speak to their children about their activities when not at home while ­residents have been asked to come forward with information which might aid the probe. Sammy Lowrie, 39, said there had been racial tensions in Wester Hailes in the past, but believed the community had outgrown them. He said: “The area’s reputation is again being marred when it should be ­recognised as an improved housing scheme.”

Ward councillor Bill ­Henderson branded the attacks “shocking”, adding: “It’s alarming to me and I want to see this stamped out. “Perhaps we could move some officers from Oxgangs to Wester Hailes and crack down on this right now. We need to nip this in the bud and lift these people off the streets.” Foysol Choudhury, chairman of Edinburgh & Lothian Regional Equality Council, said the police and local authority should co-operate to help the victims of racial attacks and catch the culprits. “We totally condemn what’s happened here and strongly urge the police and local ­politicians to take action,” he said. A police spokesman said a 14-year-old boy had been arrested in connection with an incident and a report was being sent to the procurator fiscal.
© The Scotsman

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Chelsea's Yossi Benayoun subjected to antisemitic abuse on Twitter (UK)

• Chelsea have called in police to investigate • Benayoun had just tweeted thanks for birthday wishes

7/5/2013- Chelsea have called in the police to investigate after antisemitic abuse was directed towards the midfielder Yossi Benayoun on Twitter. The Israeli revealed on Tuesday that he was subjected to abuse on the social media site, retweeting a message which contained expletives and referred to him being Jewish, after he had thanked his followers for their birthday greetings. "Some nice people in the world," tweeted Benayoun in response. It is understood the London club have contacted the police to investigate the matter further. Last month Chelsea said they would investigate after Benayoun, who is out of contract at the end of the season, said he was the victim of antisemitic taunts from his own supporters when he came on as a substitute against Liverpool.
© The Guardian

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Albania Politicians Chided for Anti-Gay Slurs

Albania’s anti-discrimination commissioner, Irma Baraku, has asked two politicians to issue a public apology to the gay community for offensive comments made in the media

10/5/2013- Irma Baraku accused the deputy defence minister, Ekrem Spahia, of using undignified language in a TV debate on March 21, which "violates the right for security and protection from violence of people, because of their sexual orientation." Artan Lame, a Socialist Party official, was also asked to issue an apology for using discriminatory language against the gay community on March 23, in an op-ed published in the Tirana daily Shqip. Lame described homosexuality as a deviation, in an article which centered on a notorious case of a pedophile, accused of kidnapping a ten-year-old boy. Spahia, who heads the conservative Legality Party, is well-known for his opposition to gay rights. In 2012 he responded to plans for a gay parade in Tirana, by calling that the “organizers should be beaten with clubs.” Both Lame and Spahia have 15 days to issue a public apology or face fines, based on Albania’s anti-discrimination law, which was passed in 2010.

The decisions come on the heels of a landmark amendment to the criminal code made by parliament on May 2, which strengthen the legal protection for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community from hate crime and hate speech. The penal code include now as an aggravating circumstance for crimes motivated by hatred because of sexual orientation or gender identity. Another important change has to do with the inclusion of the hate speech concept towards LGBT people through the use of information technology. Commenting on the changes in the Albanian criminal code, Albania’s Ombudsman Igli Totozani called the amendment a "revolution" for Albania’s legislation. “This is a precious contribution for a more a just society, which protects human dignity,” Totozani said.
© Balkan Insight

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Albania passes landmark gay hate crime laws

Two laws just approved by Albania's parliament make it one of the countries with the most advanced legislation in the region for protection of LGBT people 

5/5/2013- Albania amended its criminal code and put hate crimes against sexual orientation and gender identity on par with an offense against gender, race, ethnicity, religious belief, disability and so on. It also passed a new law punishing the dissemination of homophobic information through any means (including the internet) by a fine and up to two years imprisonment. Albania’s parliament amended yesterday (4 May) Section 50/j of its criminal code to strictly punish a crime ’when the offense is committed due to reasons related to gender, race, color, ethnicity, language, gender identity, sexual orientation, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, health status, genetic predisposition, or disability’. If a crime has occurred for the above reasons, including based on sexual orientation and gender identity, then the circumstances are aggravating and the perpetrator will be punished more severely (i.e. with no recourse to ‘mitigating circumstance’). Albania’s parliament also introduced the concept of crimes against the LGBT community through information technology.

Article 119/a, adds a new crime to the list of offenses that is the ‘distribution of racist, homophobic or xenophobic materials through systems of communication and information technology.’ The law makes it a criminal offence: ‘Providing to the public or distribution of deliberate materials containing racist, homophobic or xenophobic content, through the communication and information technology, is punishable by a fine or imprisonment up to two years.’ In the case of deliberate dissemination of homophobic materials on the Internet (website, social networks like Facebook, etc.) or in any other form, will be considered a criminal offense that can be punishable by up to two years imprisonment.

These landmark legislations was the fruit of a collaborative work between Albania’s LGBT associations, civil society, Ministry of Justice and the country’s ombudsman. Igli Totozani, Albanian ombudsman, hailed the laws as a ‘revolution’ stating that it put Albania in the forefront of the region in this regard and thanked the parliament for passing these laws. He said: ‘Albania is on the way to a more fair, equal and European society. ‘[The laws are a] valuable contribution to a greater protection of human dignity and a more open and European Albania.’ Some radical Islamic groups (over 30 Facebook pages), who previously recommended ways to kill gays, voiced their objection the new laws.

In retaliation the website of the Ombudsman was hacked by Albanian hackers calling themselves the ‘Islamic Ghost Team’. Aleanca LGBT and LGBT Pro, two groups who advocated for the laws, welcomed and praised the move by Albania’s lawmakers. Recently Albania’s prime minister came out in support of the country’s LGBT community and promised that he would see the legislation mentioned pressed through. Bekim Asani of the neighboring Macedonia based LGBT United congratulated the two Albanian groups and told Gay Star News: ‘Albania is leading the region with its visionary and tolerant approach to LGBT rights. 'It really brings tears to my eyes to think that a mainly Muslim secular Balkan state can be so progressive, we hope Macedonia and other countries in the area will follow its lead.’
© Gay Star News

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Hate speech bill delayed by Samaras' office (Greece)

Prime minister's officials believe a number of bill's provisions could 'potentially cause problems' The proposed law would outlaw incitement against people because of their race, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation, and impose jail sentences of up to six years on offenders

10/5/2013- A proposed hate-speech law has not yet been deposited in parliament for public consultation after the prime minister's office said a number of its provisions could "potentially cause problems". The justice ministry bill has been delayed by government general secretary Takis Baltakos and State Minister Dimitris Stamatis. The bill would outlaw incitement against people because of their race, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation, and impose jail sentences of up to six years on offenders, according to reports. MPs would not be excluded and parties that receive public funding would see it suspended if their leaders publicly denied the Holocaust, took part in racist attacks or used Nazi salutes or symbols in parliament. The bill enjoys the support of most parties, with the exception of extreme rightwing Golden Dawn. The Communist Party (KKE) has raised objections to the bill, claiming that it is part of a European Union-inspired attempt to equate fascism with communism and would be used to contain the "popular struggle". Earlier this week, the justice minister, Antonis Roupakiotis, had said that the bill would be sent to parliament by Friday May 10 for public consultation. He had expected it to be tabled in parliament by the end of the month.
© Enet English

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10/5/2013- According to reports of journalists in Xanthi and the state TV station ET3, residents of the city have invited a group of neonazis to attack the community of Roma people. The excuse was more or less the same like other regions of the country. The residents talk about a number of small-robberies in their area which is increased lately. The residents together with the nazis set the half of the Roma people tents on fire. The local police didn’t show up during the pogrom incident.

This is video about homes of Roma people in Xanthi city in Greece, burnt by Golden Dawn neo-nazis.
© Dawn of the Greeks

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'Geography of Hate' maps racism and homophobia on Twitter

10/5/2013- Following the 2012 US Presidential election, we created a map of tweets that referred to President Obama using a variety of racist slurs. In the wake of that map, we received a number of criticisms - some constructive, others not - about how we were measuring what we determined to be racist sentiments. In that work, we showed that the states with the highest relative amount of racist content referencing President Obama - Mississippi and Alabama - were notable not only for being starkly anti-Obama in their voting patterns, but also for their problematic histories of racism. That is, even a fairly crude and cursory analysis can show how contemporary expressions of racism on social media can be tied to any number of contextual factors which explain their persistence.

The prominence of debates around online bullying and the censorship of hate speech prompted us to examine how social media has become an important conduit for hate speech, and how particular terminology used to degrade a given minority group is expressed geographically. As we’ve documented in a variety of cases, the virtual spaces of social media are intensely tied to particular socio-spatial contexts in the offline world, and as this work shows, the geography of online hate speech is no different. Rather than focusing just on hate directed towards a single individual at a single point in time, we wanted to analyze a broader swath of discriminatory speech in social media, including the usage of racist, homophobic and ableist slurs.

Using DOLLY to search for all geotagged tweets in North America between June 2012 and April 2013, we discovered 41,306 tweets containing the word ‘nigger’, 95,123 referenced ‘homo’, among other terms. In order to address one of the earlier criticisms of our map of racism directed at Obama, students at Humboldt State manually read and coded the sentiment of each tweet to determine if the given word was used in a positive, negative or neutral manner. This allowed us to avoid using any algorithmic sentiment analysis or natural language processing, as many algorithms would have simply classified a tweet as ‘negative’ when the word was used in a neutral or positive way. For example the phrase ‘dyke’, while often negative when referring to an individual person, was also used in positive ways (e.g. “dykes on bikes #SFPride”). The students were able to discern which were negative, neutral, or positive. Only those tweets used in an explicitly negative way are included in the map.

All together, the students determined over 150,000 geotagged tweets with a hateful slur to be negative. Hateful tweets were aggregated to the county level and then normalized by the total number of tweets in each county. This then shows a comparison of places with disproportionately high amounts of a particular hate word relative to all tweeting activity. For example, Orange County, California has the highest absolute number of tweets mentioning many of the slurs, but because of its significant overall Twitter activity, such hateful tweets are less prominent and therefore do not appear as prominently on our map. So when viewing the map at a broad scale, it’s best not to be covered with the blue smog of hate, as even the lower end of the scale includes the presence of hateful tweeting activity.

Even when normalized, many of the slurs included in our analysis display little meaningful spatial distribution. For example, tweets referencing ‘nigger’ are not concentrated in any single place or region in the United States; instead, quite depressingly, there are a number of pockets of concentration that demonstrate heavy usage of the word. In addition to looking at the density of hateful words, we also examined how many unique users were tweeting these words. For example in the Quad Cities (East Iowa) 31 unique Twitter users tweeted the word “nigger” in a hateful way 41 times. There are two likely reasons for higher proportion of such slurs in rural areas: demographic differences and differing social practices with regard to the use of Twitter. We will be testing the clusters of hate speech against the demographic composition of an area in a later phase of this project.

Perhaps the most interesting concentration comes for references to ‘wetback’, a slur meant to degrade Latino immigrants to the US by tying them to ‘illegal’ immigration. Ultimately, this term is used most in different areas of Texas, showing the state’s centrality to debates about immigration in the US. But the areas with significant concentrations aren’t necessarily that close to the border, and neither do other border states who feature prominently in debates about immigration contain significant concentrations.

Ultimately, some of the slurs included in our analysis might not have particularly revealing spatial distributions. But, unfortunately, they show the significant persistence of hatred in the United States and the ways that the open platforms of social media have been adopted and appropriated to allow for these ideas to be propagated. Funding for this map was provided by the University Research and Creative Activities Fellowship at HSU. Geography students Amelia Egle, Miles Ross and Matthew Eiben at Humboldt State University coded tweets and created this map.

The full interactive map is available here
© Floating Sheep

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Headlines 3 May, 2013

Attack on Paris rabbi was second anti-Semitic act of Iranian (France)

2/5/2013- An Iranian man who attacked a rabbi in Paris last week had assaulted another Jew in the same area several days earlier, the French Jewish community’s security service said. The attacker, who wounding the rabbi and his son outside a Paris synagogue with a knife, had previously struck a young man four days earlier with an iron bar as the victim was exiting a synagogue. The victim of the first attack was hit several times on the head. The rabbi who was attacked last week suffered a cut to his throat and his son received cuts to his upper body.
© The European Jewish Congress

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Spotlight on far-right violence (UK)

An overview of racially motivated attacks perpetrated by members of the far-right and convictions over the last few months.

2/5/2013- Just a few months ago, two women in Plymouth were sentenced in February for their part in an EDL mob-attack which took place in 2011. The two were part of a group who attended an EDL meeting, got drunk, went outside and screamed prolonged racist abuse and chanted ‘EDL’ at a Kurdish family who, in terror, barricaded themselves in their takeaway. Some of the attackers stood kicking at the door, others threw pint-glasses into the shop, one of which shattered near a baby. Such was the ferocity of the attack that the owners eventually sold their business, too frightened to continue trading. This came within a few months of the convictions of seven EDL supporters who, last year, had gone on a spree of violence after a demonstration in Dewsbury, seriously beating an Asian man and hurling racist abuse at motorists.

A selection of racially motivated incidents and convictions over the last few months are presented below:
28 March 2013: Former BNP candidate Michael Whitby refused to take part in a hearing at Wirral Magistrate’s Court after being accused of verbally abusing and threatening a traffic warden last November. Whitby threatened the Nigerian-born traffic warden after receiving a ticket, following him and reportedly telling him ‘your home is not safe’. In his absence, he was found guilty of offences including ‘racially aggravated threatening behaviour’, fined £250 and ordered to pay compensation and costs. (Flintshire Chronicle, 28 March 2013)

8 March 2013: A BNP supporter was arrested after posting a picture of a mosque in Swansea on his Facebook page and adding ‘burn down this devil centre’. (HOPE not hate, 8 March 2013)

March 2013: A 19-year-old teenager was sentenced to a 12-month community order and 100 hours unpaid work after pleading guilty to a string of offences. In November 2012, she and a friend daubed racist graffiti on a mosque in Woking, and its car-park, and painted ‘bin Laden’, ‘Saddam Hussien’ and ‘EDL’ on the public wall of some flats and a business park. She also sprayed offensive graffiti on an Asian man’s front door. (Surrey Advertiser, 7 March 2013)

23 February 2013: A 56-year-old man was arrested at an EDL demonstration in Cambridge after unleashing a torrent of racist abuse at one police officer and spitting at another. The man had been confronted by police after he was seen urinating outside someone’s house. In mitigation, the man’s lawyer said that the defendant had needed to go to the toilet. (Cambridge News, 12 March 2013)

23 February 2013: A 40-year-old women was given an 18-month community order and ordered to pay court costs in relation to a case arising at a combined National Front and North West Infidels demonstration in Dewsbury last year. The protest was held against a backdrop of furore about ‘grooming’. Despite concocting a story that she had been set upon by a group of Muslim men whilst police watched and did nothing, the court heard that, on the contrary, the woman had approached an Asian man to give him a leaflet and then attacked him. She then resisted arrest and spat at a police officer. (Islamophobia Watch, 25 February 2013)

22 February 2013: Two women were given a suspended prison sentence and a 12-month community order respectively, and ordered to pay compensation, for their part in a violent attack in 2011. See story above. (Plymouth Herald, 23 February 2013)

18 February 2013: A 24-year-old man with links to the EDL was given a suspended prison sentence and ordered to carry out unpaid work after pleading guilty to racially aggravated harassment. On Boxing Day 2012, he had planted a pig’s head at the gates of a Muslim community centre in Leicester, pointed facing worshipers as they approached. (Leicester Mercury, 18 February 2013)

25 January 2013: A Scottish Defence League (SDL)-supporting teenager was fined for launching a tirade of racist abuse at a shopkeeper in Paisley and threatening to cut his throat. The shopkeeper challenged the teenager over her behaviour in August last year, and she hurled abuse at him, calling him a ‘black b*****d’, telling him to ‘go back to his own country’, trying to kick him and vandalising the shop. She was fined £375. (Paisley Daily Express, 25 January 2013)

24 January 2013: Three EDL supporters had convictions for the racially aggravated element in public disorder quashed. The men had been charged and fined last year in relation to their actions on a train platform in Middlesborough, during which they were abusive, singing EDL songs and a ‘highly inflammatory religious chant’. They also accused a police officer of being ‘anti-British’. The men appealed against the ‘racially aggravated’ aspect of the conviction, but accepted a lesser disorder offence, and the appeal was not opposed as a crucial witness had since left the country. (Evening Gazette, 25 January 2013)

23 January 2013: An EDL supporter was given a three-month prison sentence after placing a pig’s head outside a mosque in Newbury, West Berkshire. The incident was the latest of several attacks against the mosque. (Newbury Today, 23 January 2013)

15 January 2013: Seven EDL supporters were given jail sentences for a series of racist attacks in Dewsbury and Heckmondwike last year. The group attended an EDL demonstration and then went on a spree of violence, chasing an Asian man and beating him when he fell to the floor, hurling racist abuse at motorists, spitting at someone and throwing a drink at a car. (Dewsbury Reporter, 15 January 2013)

12 January 2013: Kevin Carroll, joint leader of the EDL and the British Freedom Party, was arrested and bailed in relation to allegations he attempted to ‘stir up racial hatred’ on Facebook. The charge was later dropped. (Independent, 14 January 2013)

5 January 2013: A Birmingham EDL organiser was charged for a racist attack on a bus in October 2012. The man, with a friend, reportedly racially abused a passenger and when another man tried to stop them, punched him in the face and ribs repeatedly. (Islamophobia Watch, 6 January 2013)

January 2013: An EDL supporter who aimed offensive racist tweets at Muslims and Pakistani people was given a suspended sentence. Although the particular messages this related to were unspecified, previous tweets included ‘i wish all #muslims would leave the #UK and f**k off back to the desert where they belong the dirty goat f*****g child raping pedophile scum’ and, to another user, ‘excited to start another race war on here tonight now i all of #facebook are migrating over so they can join in! #Muslim Scum #p**i DIE DIE’. The man had a previous conviction in relation to an altercation with a Sikh man whom he called ‘bin Laden’. (Islamophobia Watch, 31 January 2013)

January 2013: Several EDL supporters were arrested and charged in relation to disorder that broke out at a demonstration in Walsall in September 2012. One EDL supporter was fined for racist abuse. (Express & Star, 16 January 2013)

Related Links
Read an IRR report: ‘Racial violence: facing reality
Read an IRR News story: ‘Spotlight on racial violence: January-February 2013
© Institute of Race Relations

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Six men plead guilty to plotting to bomb EDL demo (UK)

30/4/2013- A few minutes ago six men from Birmingham pleaded guilty to planning to bomb an EDL demo in Dewsbury last June. Armed with a bomb, two shotguns, knives and a machete, they went to attack the EDL demo in "a direct retaliation of [the EDL's] insulting of the Prophet Muhammad".

A Plague on Both Their Houses
While the bomb was rudimentary, the men travelled up to Dewsbury to kill and main. They even wrote letters to the Queen and David Cameron explaining their actions. "We love death more than your life ... it is of the greatest honour for us to do what we did." They only failed in their bid because they arrived in Dewsbury after the EDL demonstration had finished. They were only caught because one of their cars was uninsured. HOPE not hate totally condemns these actions. This murderous attempt to silence their opponents was both totally and completely unacceptable and counter-productive. Amongst the senseless victims, it would have been their fellow Muslims who would have suffered most. Dewsbury is a very multi-ethnic town and a bomb packed with nails could just as likely injured local Muslims as it did the EDL supporters they were targeting. And what about the repercussions if they had carried out the attack? Muslim communities across the country could well have been targeted for revenge attacks.

But perhaps this is what these men wanted. They were after all hardline Islamist extremists with links to other men recently convicted of terrorism and, as we have seen so often with other extremists of all persuasions, acts of extreme violence to spark further violence is part of their raison d'être. We saw it with David Copeland, the London nail bomber. He planted three bombs in 1999 in the hope of sparking a race war and eventually the election of a BNP Government. We saw it with Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in Norway in 2011, in the hope of awakening Western Europeans to the threat of Islam before it was too late. But this case also highlights the clear symbiotic relationship between supposedly opposing extremisms. "With every action there is a reaction", the six men wrote in their confession letter. They were reacting directly to the actions of the EDL.

This is not the first time a potentially violent or inflammatory action has been caused by the actions of an opposing extremism. In 2010 the burning of poppies by Muslims Against Crusades on the streets of London later led to a former soldier in Carlisle burning a copy of the Koran. The publicity about his actions was picked up by Al Qaeda supporters in Pakistan and, according to investigators, Carlisle was discussed as a potential target for attack. A rabidly anti-Muslim speech by the Sikh EDL supporter Guramit Singh, in Peterborough, led directly to Al-Muhajiroun supporters in Luton producing a leaflet calling for the conversion of Sikh girls ahead of an EDL demo in the town.

Last Autumn we saw the violent reaction around the world to the disgusting anti-Muslim film, the Innocence of Muslims, produced by hardline Islamophobes. While many Muslims would have felt insulted by the film, Islamist extremist groups lost no time in using it to whip up anti-Western, anti-Christian and antisemitic hatred to justify their own world view. And let us not forget that the EDL was itself set up as a result of a tiny Al-Muhajiroun protest against a British Army homecoming parade in 2009. Jihadist and anti-Jihadist extremists are locked in a cycle of tit for tat threats and violence. Whilst claiming to stand diametrically opposed to the Other, they need and use the actions of the Other to justify their own existence.

In 2010 a senior officer with the West Midlands Counter-Terrorism Unit told the BBC that the actions of the EDL was pushing young Muslims into the hands of Al Qaeda supporting groups. So much for the EDL acting as a barrier to Islamist extremism. More like recruiting sergeants! We need to break this cycle of violence and publicly denounce both the violent Islamists and the Muslim haters of the EDL. We need to unite all communities against this extremism and not be selective in our targets. The EDL will today present itself as the innocent victims of Islamist terrorists. But this is wrong as they are part of the problem. We must unequivocally denounce these six men for their murderous intent and the cycle of violence their actions, if successful, would have triggered. But we must also look at the wider symbiotic relationship between extremism and to that end, we must clearly state: A Plague on Both Their Houses.
© HOPE not Hate

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Police: Attack on Polish men in Jedburgh was racially-motivated (UK)

29/4/2013- Police are hunting two men in connection with a racially-motivated attack in Jedburgh. Two Polish men aged 41 and 35 were assaulted around 1.45am on Sunday as they made their home from a night out in various local pubs. As they passed two men one of them punched the 41-year-old on the head and he crashed to the ground. The younger man struggled with attacker before he was kicked on the head by the another man. Both victims have told police they heard racist remarks and Police Scotland has confirmed that detectives are treating the attack as being racially-motivated. The 41-year-old sustained a serious facial wound while the other suffered minor injuries.

A police spokesman commented: “Both victims were minding their own business when they were subjected to racial abuse and violently assaulted. “At the moment, we do not have a description of those responsible for this attack, so we are keen to hear from anyone who was in the area at the time and remembers seeing anything suspicious. “Similarly, anyone with information that can help with our investigation is asked to come forward.” The attack took place in Dean’s Close in Jedburgh town centre.
© The Southern Reporter

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On public transport, in offices, on the street and in neighbourhoods: The Immigrant Council of Ireland says the reported incidents of racism has grown significantly.

29/4/2013- An organisation which works with migrants says it is receiving an average of 5 reports a week of serious racist incidents. The Immigrant Council of Ireland says it has been told about verbal and physical abuse, as well as reports of discrimination by unnamed Government agencies. It said incidents have been reported on public transport, in offices, on the street and in neighbourhoods. The head of the Immigrant Council said the figures have increased significantly since a public information campaign began in Dublin at the end of March, but said that racism remains under-reported in Ireland. “While the use of physical violence is alarming and completely unacceptable, it is also worth noting the psychological damage which victims are reporting,” said Denise Charlton. “Long after an incident people continue to suffer lack of sleep, nightmares and periods of fear.” The organisation is trying to encourage more people to come forward to report racism when it happens. “Recording incidents is important if we are to get a true picture of what is happening in the country and to ensure our laws are robust enough to deal with this problem,” said Charlton.
© The Journal

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Far-right crime in Germany rose last year, with more xenophobia and anti-Semitism

29/4/2013- Germany says far-right crime rose last year, fueled by an increasing number of xenophobic and anti-Semitic acts. Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich vowed Monday to increase police pressure on far-right groups “so that all people, regardless of their origin, can feel safe in Germany.” His ministry said the number of politically motivated crimes by the far-right overall rose by 4.4 percent from 16,873 in 2011 to 17,616 in 2012, of which 842 were violent crimes. Non-violent crimes include vandalism and spreading far-right propaganda. The ministry says the number of hate crimes directed at foreigners increased by 16.5 percent to 2,922. The number of anti-Semitic crimes rose by 10.6 percent to 1,374. Crimes committed by leftist groups dropped sharply by 29 percent from 1,809 to 1,291 in 2012.
© The Associated Press

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The head of the Raoul Wallenberg Association was assaulted at a football match on Sunday.

29/4/2013- Ferenc Orosz told MTI at a conference on hate speech on Monday that first he was verbally assaulted and then his nose was broken after a match at Budapest’s Puskas stadium which he attended with his family. Orosz said supporters near him were chanting for Mussolini and “sieg heil”. When he asked them to stop he was threatened and called a “Jewish communist”. At the end of the match, as he was leaving the stadium, two men blocked his way. One said “it is sieg heil, even so” the other one hit Orosz, who was hospitalised with a broken nose. Police have pressed charges against the assailant.

Orosz said he discharged himself from the hospital on Monday in order to speak at a conference on hate speech organised by the ombudsman. He told MTI he thought what had happened to him constituted a hate crime and that organisers or police should have removed the Nazi chanters from the arena. Peter Feldmajer, head of the federation of Hungarian Jewish communities Mazsihisz, said that the incident was “a manifestation of intolerance in society”. Feldmajer told MTI that he found it “especially serious” that the leader of “an organisation with such an undoubtedly positive message” should be assaulted. He said he trusted the attackers would soon be detained.
© Politics Hungary

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Ukrainian Jews Worry Rise of Nationalist Party Will Revive Anti-Semitism

27/4/2013- Marching in formation, six young men in dark jackets approach an anti-government rally in Cherkasy, a city some 125 miles southeast of Kiev. At the appointed moment, they remove their windbreakers to reveal white T-shirts emblazoned with the words “Beat the kikes.” Their jackets carry the name of Svoboda, the ultranationalist Ukrainian political party. A small riot quickly ensues. Angry protestors rip at the T-shirts, but the Svoboda-labeled men give as good as they get. One of the men beats Victor Smal, a lawyer and human rights activist, so savagely that he is rendered barely recognizable. In the days after this April 6 melee, Svoboda denied that the provocateurs at the rally were their men. Yuriy Syrotiuk, a Svoboda parliamentarian, called the men criminals and complained that police were not responding to an act of incitement, Interfax reported. Some suggested the men were anti-Svoboda activists seeking to tarnish its image.

But denials notwithstanding, the incident has raised anxieties among Ukrainian Jews fearful of rising xenophobia and racially motivated violence they say is inspired by Svoboda, a party with neo-Nazi roots and a penchant for thuggery. “Svoboda lifted the lid from the sewer of anti-Semitism in Ukraine and it’s spilling out,” said Joel Rubinfeld, co-chair of the European Jewish Parliament. A U.S. State Department report this month singled out Ukraine, along with Hungary and Greece, as places of “concern” because of growing anti-Semitic parties. But open anti-Semitism is still rare in Ukraine. Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry documented just 15 cases of anti-Semitic violence in 2012. In France, the number was 200. But the behavior of some Svoboda politicians risks changing that, some Ukrainian Jews worry. Founded in 2004, Svoboda (“freedom” in Ukrainian) is the latest incarnation of the Social-National Party, a far-right movement ideologically aligned with Nazism. But while the Social-National Party never enjoyed any electoral success, Svoboda garnered more than 10 percent of the vote in the 2012 elections, becoming the country’s fourth-largest party.

“Svoboda is perhaps the biggest challenge facing Ukrainian Jewry today,” Ukrainian Jewish Committee President Oleksandr Feldman told JTA. “It has no structure and operates in a political vacuum and turmoil which allow it to run rampant.” Svoboda’s unstructured nature also makes it difficult to pigeonhole. Party leader Oleh Tyahnybok has praised supporters for being the “worst fear of the Jewish-Russian mafia” and has called Jews “kikes.” Yet the party also speaks admiringly of Israel, and Tyahnybok has made a point of advertising his meeting last December with Israel’s ambassador to Ukraine. Alexander Aronets, Svoboda’s press secretary, has praised Israel on his Facebook page as ”one of the most nationalistic countries in the world.” Good relations with Israel may be desirable to Svoboda as a defense against accusations of anti-Semitism, a tactic employed by other European nationalist movements that have made overtures in Israel’s direction. “They know anti-Semitism is preventing the good relations they seek,” said Moshe Azman, Ukraine’s Chabad-affiliated chief rabbi. “But Svoboda is not a uniform entity and I’m not sure the leaders control the rank and file.”

Feldman, an energetic businessman, lawmaker and founder of the Kyiv Interfaith Forum, says Svoboda has helped erode the shame associated with open expressions of anti-Semitism and other ethnic hatreds. His interfaith forum, which each year brings together hundreds of clerics from five faiths, was marred for the first time this year by a minor assault on a Muslim participant outside the conference. “Svoboda is very frightening to Ukrainian Jews and other minorities because it is an ultra-Jobbik that evolved quickly,” Feldman said, referring to the anti-Semitic and Iran-friendly Hungarian party that also has enjoyed recent electoral success. “We had hoped Svoboda would tone it down once it’s in parliament, but the opposite has happened,” said Vyacheslav Likhachev, a Ukrainian researcher with the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress. “The electoral gains have emboldened Svoboda lawmakers to incorporate thuggery as a modus operandi, a very dangerous development.”

One example came in February, when party member Igor Miroshnichenko shimmied up the towering statue of Vladimir Lenin in the town of Akhtyrka, threw a rope around the communist leader’s head, tied the other end to a truck and brought down the monument. In December, the same man said Mila Kunis, a Ukrainian-American Jewish actress, was “no Ukrainian, but a kike.” Asked by a newspaper if Miroshnichenko could be prosecuted for making a racial insult, a Justice Ministry official said the word he used – “zhydovka,” a feminized version of kike – was permissible and part of the official vocabulary. “This was another Svoboda success in poisoning the public sphere,” Likhachev says.

Svoboda officials declined several JTA requests for comment for this story. In February, Likhachev signed a letter along with several other Jewish Ukrainians asking the Jewish Agency for Israel to cancel plans to hold its board of governors meeting in Kiev in June. The letter, which several Jewish leaders dismissed as overblown, said that poor democratic standards and Svoboda’s ascent made Kiev an ill-suited choice. “Svoboda are riffraff – nothing comparable to Jobbik, which has its own militia and coherent policy,” said Yaakov Bleich, a Ukrainian chief rabbi. “Svoboda is troubling as a symptom of the main challenges facing Ukrainian Jewry: the economic recession and political uncertainty,” Bleich said. Still, he added, “because Svoboda is a mob, it’s less predictable than Jobbik. Svoboda’s leaders may be unable to control anti-Semitic displays.”

Despite the disagreements, many Jewish leaders seem to agree that Svoboda’s success owes more to frustration with the establishment than to its anti-Semitic statements. Likhachev pointed specifically to the discontent that emerged in the wake of the Orange Revolution, the protests following the 2004 election that brought former president Viktor Yushchenko to power on a platform of greater government accountability. Bickering and disunity cost Yushchenko the presidency in 2010. He was succeeded by Viktor Yanukovych, the man whom protestors accused five years earlier of election fraud. That development strengthened Svoboda in two ways, Likhachev says. “First, it radicalized disgruntled voters,” Likhachev says. “Second, the opposition allies learned they needed to stay united to win. So they are willing to overlook Svoboda’s anti-Semitism – to the detriment of Ukrainian society and its Jewish population.”
© JTA News

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