ICARE Hate Crime News - Archive July 2013

Headlines 26 July, 2013

Headlines 19 July, 2013

Headlines 12 July, 2013

Headlines 5 July, 2013

HATE AGAINST MUSLIMSIN THE UK 2

Headlines 26 July, 2013

A neo-Nazi Russian group has taken to social media to publicise images and videos of gay teenagers lured in on the promise of a date, before torturing them and forcing them to come out to friends and family on video.

26/7/2013- Gay victims aged 12-16 are reportedly lured in by the group Occupy-Pedofilyay, led by Maxim Martsinkevich, known under the nickname “Cleaver”. Videos are then circulated of the victims being made to come out as gay, with a view to parents, schools, or friends finding out about their sexuality. An uncensored image of one of the victims holding a sex toy, covered in red paint, and being held down, appeared on the Spectrum Human Rights Alliance blog. The accompanying report also included a video of the torture of one victim who was sprayed with urine in public, however YouTube has now removed the video.

A report from May notes that 19-year-old Alex Bulygin, a victim of the ‘fighters with paedophiles’ branch of the group, committed suicide after having his sexuality revealed online. It also quotes one member as having said: “If I had my way – I would kill them, but the state does not allow that.” The group was established with the intention of revealing the identities of paedophiles, but after turning to adult gay men, it has now begun targeting young teenagers.

The Spectrum report says that no police action has been taken against the incidents, despite numerous victims, and that over 500 similar groups have been formed across Russia using the VK social networking site. The upper house of the Russian Parliament voted last month to approve both a bill banning adoption of Russian children by foreign same-sex couples and the nationwide anti-”propaganda” bill banning the promotion of “non-traditional” relationships to minors.

The bills, which have since been signed by President Vladimir Putin, bans foreign same-sex couples and unmarried individuals in countries where same-sex marriage is legal from adopting Russian children. Last week, speaking exclusively to PinkNews, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg urged Russia to protect the rights of LGBT citizens following concerns about gay athletes and spectators attending the 2014 Winter Olympics. In May, a gay man from the southern Russian city of Volgograd who was tortured to death in an apparent hate crime, was sexually assaulted with beer bottles, and had his skull “smashed with a stone”, authorities said.
© Pink News

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Rabbi shot in southern Russia in possible anti-Semitic attack

A Chabad rabbi working in southern Russia was shot and seriously wounded in what police say may have been an anti-Semitic attack.

25/7/2013- Unknown assailants shot Artur (Ovadia) Isakov, 40, on Wednesday night as he exited his car and headed into his home in Derbent, in the predominantly Muslim Republic of Dagestan near Chechnya, according to Jtimes.ru, a Russian-Jewish news site. One bullet entered his right lung and his liver, according to the report. Isakov cried out for help after he was hit and was evacuated to a hospital at about 1 a.m. RIA Novosti, the Russian news agency, reported that he has been put on an artificial respirator and is in intensive care. Police said they are considering “religious motivations” but are exploring all leads.

Ramazan Abdulatipov, the acting president of Dagestan, released a statement blaming “extremists and terrorists [who] do not want a happy, normal life for us all.” He said, “Only ignorant people, enemies of Dagestan, are able to do this. Dagestan is outraged.” Berel Lazar, Russia’s chief rabbi, has chartered a plane to transport Isakov to Israel as soon as his condition becomes stable enough to permit travel, according to Israel Radio. In a statement, the European Jewish Congress expressed “deep concern and shock” following the shooting. “We are of course aware of the growth of Islamist extremism in the region, and violence perpetrated by these groups, but we should reserve comment while we await the results of the police investigation,” said Serge Cwajgenbaum, the organization’s secretary-general.
© JTA News

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The French government’s decision to dissolve two far-right groups Wednesday was a deliberate move to calm tensions in France following suburban rioting and a growing number of Islamophobic incidents, according to one expert on far right movements.

25/7/2013- The French government on Wednesday announced it was banning two far-right militant groups after outlawing three others earlier this month, in a move one expert on far right movements said was a direct response to growing Islamist radicalism. “There is no place in our country for hate, xenophobia, anti-Semitism or anti-Muslim acts,” Interior Minister Manuel Valls said following a cabinet meeting that agreed to dissolve L’Oeuvre Francaise (The French Work) and the Jeunesses Nationalistes (Nationalist Youth). The timing of the announcement is significant, according to leading French researcher on the French far-right Jean-Yves Camus. Camus pointed to a rise in the number of Islamophobic incidents in France, a recent flare-up in tensions over its Muslim and Roma populations and clashes in the Paris suburb of Trappes following a police check on a woman wearing a Muslim veil.

‘Islamophobia a huge driver of Islamist radicalism’
While banning groups will have “little impact” on the politics of their supporters, the “gesture” of banning an organisation sends a strong message that the government is fighting extremism “in all its forms”, he said. “Valls has shown he is willing to make exceptional gestures,” Camus told FRANCE 24. “It shows that he understands that extremism feeds the hatred of groups at the opposite end of the spectrum. “The Islamophobia engendered by these groups is a huge driver of Islamist radicalism, and while Valls has been vocally critical of Islamists following the riots in Trappes, banning these groups shows that he is targeting all forms of extremism.” Earlier in July the government moved to close the extreme-right Troisieme Voie (Third Way) organisation and its militant wing — some of whose members were allegedly involved in the June brawl which resulted in the death of leftist militant Clément Méric — along with a third group called Envie de Rever (Desire to Dream). The government says the five banned groups form the hard core of around a dozen far-right movements, with up to 3,000 members, who have gained visibility as the anti-immigrant National Front has sought to become a more mainstream political party.
© France 24.

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Montenegro's First Gay Pride March Attacked

Montenegro’s first Gay Pride march went ahead in the coastal town of Budva despite attacks by anti-gay protesters who threw stones and bottles.

24/7/2013- The country’s inaugural gay rights parade, named Seaside Pride, was attended by an estimated 120 people on Wednesday in Budva. The parade went ahead for around 20 minutes after delays caused by the homophobic demonstrators who threw missiles and chanted “kill the gays”, according to media reports. A few of the participants were injured and police arrested around 20 people suspected of attacking the marchers, local media reported. “Everybody who was against this today will be ashamed one day,” Aleksandar Sasa Zekovic, one of the organisers, said at the beginning of the parade. He also praised the police for enabling the march to go ahead. Rasko Konjevic, Montenegro’s interior minister, promised after the event that the police would be taking action against those who broke the law during the parade. “We must not send a message that we cannot demonstrate at least an elementary level of tolerance of differences,” he said.

The parade was also attended by representatives of the government, foreign embassies and human rights groups. Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic said however that he was unable to attend because he was busy taking questions in parliament, although he also told an MP that he was against “political parading”. The announcement of the event, which aimed to give more visibility to lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people in Montenegro, had already sparked some negative reactions. Fake obituaries were published on the internet announcing the ‘death’ of Zdravko Cimbaljevic, head of the LGBT Forum Progress, the rights group which organised the parade. More than 2,000 people in Budva, which is considered to be Montenegro’s summer tourism centre, also signed a petition against the event.

The announcement of another gay parade, due to be held in the capital Podgorica in October by another rights group, Queer Montenegro, has also drawn strong opposition and attracted hate speech on social networks. Montenegro's first Gay Pride parade, organised by rights activist Zdravko Cimbaljevic, was to have taken place in May 2011, but was cancelled after two attacks on gays in Podgorica before the start of the event. The country’s hoped-for accession to the EU will partly depend on the government proving its commitment to human rights. Montenegro’s former minister for human and minority rights, Ferhad Dinosa, was accused of making homophobic remarks and subsequently sacked in late 2011. In May, Montenegro’s Anti-Discrimination Council supported a draft strategy aimed at improving life for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals over the next five years.
© Balkan Insight

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Right-Wing Terror: Hungary Silent over Roma Killing Spree

Five years ago, right-wing terrorists murdered six Roma in Hungary. Now the trial against them is coming to an end. But the political elite has expresed hardly any sympathy for the victims, and a large portion of the public is uninterested in the topic.

23/7/2013- The murders happened just a few meters away. Each time she steps out of the door to her house, Erzsébet Csorba sees the burnt out ruins of the house where her son, her daughter-in-law and her grandchildren used to live. Every day Csorba thinks about how she found her son Róbert bleeding in the snow, and how, later, her grandson Róbi was carried into the house, the four-and-a-half-year-old's lifeless body riddled with buckshot. "I wake up with the memories and go to sleep with them," says the 49-year-old. "How could they do they do it -- simply kill innocent people?" The isolated village of Tatárszentgyörgy is located 55 kilometers (about 34 miles) south of Budapest. On the outskirts, several Roma families live in run-down houses. The Csorbas live in the last house before the edge of the forest. On Feb. 29, 2009, right-wing extremists set fire to Róbert Csorba's house and shot the family when they tried to escape. Father and son died. Both mother and daughter survived. The mother sustained minor injuries, while the daughter was more seriously wounded.

Six months later, in August 2009, the alleged perpetrators were apprehended: four fanatical right-wing extremists from the southeastern Hungarian city of Debrecen. Since 2008, they are thought to be responsible for murdering six Roma and severely wounding another 55 people, nearly all of them Roma -- a series of racist, terrorist killings the likes of which is unprecedented in Hungary's postwar history. Over the next few days, after two years and 170 days of court proceedings, the trial against the four suspects will come to an end. On Wednesday, brothers István and Árpád K., as well as Zsolt P. and Isvtán Cs. will give their closing statements. The verdict is due by the beginning of August. There is little doubt as to the guilt of the accused: They have admitted their presence at the crime scenes, but they deny having committed the murders.

'No One Has Paid Their Respects'
As brutal as the deeds were, however, the public reaction in Hungary has been minimal, and hardly any wider debate has arisen from the conclusion of the trial. "These murders were crimes against humanity, yet they didn't shake Hungarian society," says Aladár Horváth, a Roma politician and civil rights activist. "On the part of the government, of the political elite, no one has paid their respects to the victims and their families. No one has taken responsibility, neither symbolically nor legally nor politically, and the family has not received any significant financial aid." Indeed, former President László Sólyom, who was in office when the murders occurred and the suspected perpetrators were arrested, uttered not a word of sympathy for the victims. Even the socialists, who were in power during the Roma murders in 2008-2009 and put much stock in their anti-fascist image, offered only the standard clichés.

Now, the current conservative-nationalist governing coalition under Prime Minister Viktor Orbán wants nothing to do with the topic. They wouldn't want to scare their constituency, which extends far into the right wing of the political spectrum. Only the culture minister, Zoltán Balogh, recently managed to make a gesture: His ministry paid for the funeral for Erzsébet Csorba's husband Csaba, who died in February of this year after being overcome by grief about the murders. The lack of public concern is also evident in the investigation of the "Roma Killers," and in the trial itself. It has become clear that that the far-right terrorists had the help of at least one more person and probably had several accomplices. Yet they are missing from the courtroom and it is unclear whether investigators are still looking for them. The trial is being kept secret for reasons of national security.

It's even possible that some of the murders could have been prevented. Two of the defendants had been monitored by intelligence agents because of right-wing extremist activity until 2008, shortly before the killing spree began, but then the officials shelved the operation. Another defendant was working as an informant for a military intelligence unit. But Hungary's intelligence community remains silent about its role in the murders.

Outrageous Negligence
There were also outrageous scenes that played out when authorities arrived at the crime scene. In Tatárszentgyörgy on the night of the murder, for instance, police tried to dissuade the Csorba family from reporting an attack and urinated on evidence at the crime scene. Observers of the trial like liberal former parliamentarian József Gulyás, who was permitted to see secret investigation files, accuse the Hungarian authorities of sloppiness at the very least -- and Gulyás doesn't rule out a cover-up. He also criticizes the fact that the suspects were only charged with murder, not for terrorist offenses. "It seems as if the Hungarian government and the Hungarian authorities want to bring an end to the embarrassing affair while drawing as little attention to themselves as possible," says Gulyás.

Journalist and filmmaker András B. Vágvölgyi, who attended nearly every hearing, criticizes the "technical conduct" of presiding Judge László Miszori. "Political questions played hardly any role in the trial," he says. "A court has an obligation -- especially in a country like Hungary, which is entrenched in ideological and moral confusion -- to act with a certain moral weight." Erzsébet Csorba, for her part, hopes that the accused "never again see the light of day." She, too, is convinced that there are more perpetrators who still walk free. But she, her children and her grandchildren continue to live in fear in their house at the edge of the woods. What she would like most is to build a high fence all the way around her property, but she doesn't have the money. Sometimes her teenaged sons and young grandson awake terrified in the night because they hear noises. "Go back to sleep," says Erzsébet Csorba, "it's only the shrubs and trees rustling in the wind." But she wonders silently if killers lurk outside once more.
© The Spiegel

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Neo-Nazi attacks leave one dead, many scared (Germany)

A man has died after being attacked by a neo-Nazi in one of two violent attacks on foreigners in Germany over the past few days. The second incident involved members of the Bundeswehr throwing fireworks at a home for refugees.

23/7/2013- A known neo-Nazi is thought to have killed a Kazakh man and father-of-two at a Volksfest in southern Bavaria last week, shortly after goading other men of foreign extraction into a fight by hurling racist insults at them. An autopsy showed the 34-year-old man died in hospital last Thursday as a result of receiving a violent blow to the head, police announced on Monday. The man was attacked when he went to investigate a scuffle between a group of neo-Nazis and other foreigners during the festival in the city of Kaufbeuren near Munich last Wednesday night, police said. The suspected killer, named only as 36-year-old Falk H. from Thuringia, was arrested at the scene and is being held on suspicion of murder. Last year he came to the attention of the authorities after starting a fight with a DJ who objected to him shouting “Heil Hitler” and giving the Hitler salute at an event. Although the festival continued over the weekend, the incident shocked the Bavarian city and prompted over 500 inhabitants to attend a silent parade on Saturday.

On that very night, in another part of the country, two drunken soldiers attacked a refugee home with fireworks, in an apparent attempt to burn it down. When inhabitants of the home tried to stop them, the soldiers responded with a torrent of racist abuse and repeatedly showed them the Hitler salute. The culprits, aged 23 and 25, were arrested nearby the home in the town of Arnstadt, Thuringia, and have since been released. They face charges of incitement and criminal damage. The attacks come a week after statistics were released suggesting the German army had an estimated 300 far-right extremists in its ranks. Homes for asylum seekers - a frequent focus of violent race hate in the early 1990s – have recently attracted the attention of modern far-right activists.

For example, plans to convert an old school into a home for around 400 refugees in the Marzahn-Hellersdorf area of Berlin has sparked a hate-filled campaign from members of the neo-Nazi NPD party, who swamped a recent information meeting with cat-calls of "Germany for Germans", "No to the home" and "What do I care for others' suffering?” Some 802 racially-motivated violent crimes were registered last year, in the first increase in four years, according to official statistics released in June this year.
© The Local - Germany

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Memorial to Croatia Concentration Camp Victims Destroyed

A memorial plaque honouring World War II concentration camp victims who died on the Croatian island of Pag has been vandalised again, just weeks after being restored

23/7/2013- The Serb National Council in Croatia announced on Monday that this was the third time that the memorial on Pag had been demolished since the early 1990s. The attack came just weeks after the plaque was replaced at a commemoration in late June for the victims of the WWII concentration camp complex which included Slana and Metajna on Pag and Jadovno on the nearby Croatian mainland. “It is unacceptable that for the third time there is no reaction from the authorities who are obliged to protect the legacy and memory of the victims of World War II and the legacy of anti-fascism,” the council said in a statement. An estimated 40,000 people were exterminated at the camp complex during its brief period in operation between April and August 1941, mostly Serbs and Jews. It was run by the Ustasha authorities who ruled part of the former Yugoslavia during WWII in alliance with Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Nazi Germany. The plaque was installed by Coordination of Jewish Municipalities, the Jadovno 1941 Association, the League of Anti- Fascist Veterans and the Serb National Council in Croatia.
© Balkan Insight

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Macedonia 'Concealing' Attackers of Gay Centre

Failure to locate who attacked a gay and lesbian community centre in Skopje a month ago raises suspicions of official complicity, Macedonian Helsinki Committee says.

23/7/2013- The Helsinki committee said that the sluggish response of the authorities was worrying, having in mind that police have video footage of the incident showing the perpetrators. “How can the police not find them when there is footage in existence?” Uranija Pirovska, head of the committee, asked on Monday, arguing that in a normal case the police would have located the attackers in half an hour. “This attitude of the police leaves an impression that violence is being legitimized and that anyone who opts for LGBT rights can be attacked,” Pirovska said. The committee published the security camera footage of the incident on June 22 in Skopje in front of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community centre. Footage shows a dozen young hooligans attacking the centre in broad daylight. Breaking windows and damaging property, the group injured a police officer who was tasked with securing the site.

The video also shows a subsequent attack on the centre by a similar-sized group of youngsters, this time when the centre was closed. Police deny trying to protect the attackers. They repeat that they are working on the case. The violence last month came during the first ever Skopje Gay Pride Week, a series of awareness-raising and educational workshops held throughout the city. The Dutch embassy condemned the attack on the LGBT centre, which it funds, calling for a "thorough investigation" by the authorities. A report by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, Rainbow Europe Index 2011, ranked Macedonia the worst country in the Balkans when it comes to legal protection for gays. Local and international rights groups complain of frequent remarks by ministers and officials that are homophobic. They also complain that Macedonia’s anti-discrimination law, adopted in 2010, does not envisage protecting people against discrimination based on sexual orientation. In May, the Helsinki Committee accused the authorities of ignoring and even concealing a rise in crimes inspired by ethnic, religious or gender-related hatred.
© Balkan Insight

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ADL: Anti-Semitism down nationwide, up in N.Y. and N.J.

22/7/2013- The number of anti-Semitic incidents dropped 14 percent nationwide last year, though the instances of vandalism rose, according to the Anti-Defamation League’s annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents. Also, New York and New Jersey saw increases in anti-Semitic incidents, according to the audit released Monday. Nationwide, the audit counted 927 anti-Semitic incidents reported during the 2012 calendar year, a 14 percent decline from the 1,080 incidents in 2011. The 2012 figures included 17 physical assaults, 470 cases of harassment, threats and events, and 440 instances of vandalism.

The vandalism figure represented a 33 percent increase over the 330 incidents in 2011. While a majority of the vandalism took place on public property or individual homes, Jewish institutions were targeted in 13 percent of the incidents. “It is encouraging that in the past few years we have seen a fairly consistent decline in the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States,” said Abraham Foxman, ADL’s national director. “While these numbers only provide one snapshot of anti-Semitism in America, to the extent that they serve as a barometer the decline shows that we have made progress as a society in confronting anti-Jewish hatred. “Still, it is disturbing that there are so many incidents in America, and we must remain vigilant in responding to them and in encouraging law enforcement and the public to report these incidents as much as possible.”

The states with the highest total incidents were those with the largest Jewish populations. The ADL recorded 248 anti-Semitic incidents in New York in 2012, representing a 27 percent increase from the 195 incidents in 2011. New York City’s five boroughs had a total of 172 anti-Jewish acts, including incidents of assault, harassment and vandalism, compared to 127 in 2011. “While the great majority of Jewish New Yorkers feel comfortable and safe in their respective communities, it is nevertheless disturbing that we saw almost a 30 percent uptick in the total number of anti-Semitic incidents across the state,” said Etzion Neuer, ADL’s acting New York regional director. “Though we did see a decrease in harassment and threats, the sharp increase of anti-Semitic vandalism incidents is a reminder that we are still not immune to anti-Semitism.”

New Jersey recorded 173 incidents, up from 144. The number of incidents dropped in other states with large Jewish population. California documented 185 incidents, down from 235; Florida reported 88 incidents, down from 111; Massachusetts logged 38 incidents, down from 72; and Pennsylvania recorded 37 incidents, down from 38. The ADL has conducted its Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents annually since 1979. It includes criminal and non-criminal incidents reported in 35 states and Washington, D.C.
© JTA News

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Greece: Number of racist attacks rising

22/7/2013- Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports that a refugee named Omar Diallo suffered injuries during a recent attack on the street in Athens that required several stitches. Back in his home country of Guinea the 28-year-old was used to violence, but the hostile racism he has encountered in a Greece beset by crisis is a significant shock for him. In the quarter of Athens where Diallo lives, an area full of empty, graffiti-covered shops with "for rent" and "for sale" signs, it is becoming more and more dangerous to be a dark-skinned foreigner. "There are places here where we do not have the right to walk, or where we can walk only in groups," he said. Diallo was alone on the street when he was assaulted. The attack was quick and quiet, without any demands or racist insults. "Four people assaulted me on the street. One hit me on the head with something, I fell to the ground, and they beat me. They ran away when they were done," he says.

Diallo fled his West African home in September 2009 after a massacre broke out at a stadium in connection with a public assembly convened by the opposition. His father was among the 157 people who were killed and Diallo ended up in prison. After his release, Diallo decided to leave his homeland, as he had begun to fear for his life. However, just a few years after he succeeded in reaching Athens in hope of a better life there, he ended up lying on the ground with blood flowing from his head. Police officers discovered Diallo and took him to hospital. His case is by no means exceptional. "I saw a young Pakistani beaten up right in front of me by two giants who ran the length of an entire bus to get to him and kick him out onto the street. I didn't interfere because I was scared to death," a French pensioner who has been living in Athens for about one year told the AFP.

Officials who follow racially motivated assaults recorded 154 of them last year; of those, 107 occurred in Athens. In at least eight cases the victims or witnesses said they recognized their assailants were persons connected to the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn. Diallo, who studied international relations in Conakry, feels that the number of racist attacks has been rising ever since conservative Greek PM Antonis Samaras took power in June 2012. Golden Dawn also made it into the Greek Parliament for the first time then, where its MPs have 18 seats in the 300-seat assembly. "They feel politically strengthened," Diallo said. According to a recent report on racially motivated violence in Greece, only 24 of the victims of racially motivated assault in 2012 ever filed formal charges with police. "As far as I can tell, the assailants aren't trying to kill anyone, but they are causing visible injuries in order to disseminate fear in those communities," said Doctor Nikitas Kanakis, secretary-general of the Greek branch of the NGO Doctors of the World.

Kanakis has long done his best to draw attention to this problem and the victims of racially motivated assaulted often turn directly to him instead of going to hospital. Thanks to his reputation, Kanakis has been able to draw attention to several such assaults, including the case of a 14-year-old Afghani boy whose face was sliced up by violent offenders using a broken bottle in a suburb of Athens dominated by neo-Nazis. "Racist assaults take place practically every day at various places around the country, but primarily in Athens," says Jorgos Tsabropulos, the head of the Athens office of the UNHCR. The government's response to this problem is full of internal contradictions. On the one hand, Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias, who has condemned Golden Dawn's assaults as unacceptable, recently told the BBC that "Golden Dawn is unequivocally a neo-Nazi party."

Dendias said a special police unit had been created to fight racist crime and that "people who behave illegally should end up in prison." However, in the same interview he more or less declared that "creating new laws won't help", even though Greece is under pressure from the Council of Europe to adopt new legislation in this area. Dendias said the rise in Golden Dawn's influence and its racist, xenophobic posturing is due to an influx of undocumented refugees into Greece, whom he called "an enormous burden on Greek society". He has called on the EU to provide Greece financial assistance so the country can better put up with rising numbers of refugees.
© CTK

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Let us speak for ourselves: five women's experiences of Islamophobic attacks (UK)

Muslim women and their clothes, their relationships with men and their place in British society are written and talked about and discussed and debated to death - but rarely are Muslim women included in those discussions themselves. In an attempt to correct this, Huma Qureshi asks five women to share their experiences.

24/7/2013- What does it feel like to have your hijab yanked off your head by a man shouting abuse at you? Or to be chased down the street, shouted, sworn or spat at because what you are wearing identifies your beliefs? These are examples of what are described as anti-Muslim incidents specifically against women. Tell Mama, the government-backed organisation which records anti-Muslim behaviour, has said Islamophobic attacks against women have increased in the aftermath of the brutal killing of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich in May. It says approximately 70 per cent of the calls it received since then have come from women. Of reported street attacks, 75 per cent have been against Muslim women wearing Islamic dress.

For Andrew Gilligan, who has criticised Tell Mama’s statistics in the Telegraph and accused it of exaggerating Islamophobia, incidents such as “hijab yanking” are “at the lower level of seriousness” because they do not result in physical injury. Nothing has been as critical as the latest incident in France, where a pregnant Muslim woman miscarried last week after two men attacked her, but to entirely dismiss what some women have been reporting in the UK is still deeply undermining to those who have found themselves at the receiving end of unprovoked assault, physical or verbal, simply because of their faith.

Muslim women and their clothes, their relationships with men and their place in British society are written and talked about and discussed and debated to death - but rarely are Muslim women included in those discussions themselves. That’s why I contacted five Muslim women who have experienced varying degrees of anti-Muslim incidents to find out how it has affected them. Some have been terrified. Others say things are not bad. Some wear the hijab, some don’t. Most asked to be anonymous because they don’t want their family or jobs to be affected by what they say. All are horrified by Drummer Lee Rigby’s murder. None claim their experiences are representative of Muslim women as a whole - if anything, they are tired of being seen as a homogenous group.

Finally, all agree the media doesn’t help. “No one ever lets us speak for ourselves,” one woman told me. Some feel silenced and ignored by the press, not just because of their religion, but because of their gender too. By sharing their views, they hope they will be heard and not disregarded as statistics that some consider to be utterly meaningless. Here are their experiences.

Ayesha
Ayesha, a 32-year-old who works as an IT analyst in London, was verbally abused and followed on a work trip in Manchester, two days after the Woolwich murder. “I was going back to my hotel after work meetings. There was a pub down the road from my hotel and as I walked past I heard a group of white men shouting things like ‘Oi, Paki’ and ‘Oi, bin Laden.’ I quickened my pace because I didn’t want anything to kick off. I heard footsteps catching up with me. Then I felt my headscarf pulled back and something tugging on my abaya. At that point, I just ran to my hotel, told the receptionist what had happened and asked him to make sure the men didn’t come in. Then I noticed a slit in my abaya - it had been cut. That’s when I got really scared, because I realised the man who followed me had something sharp in his hands. I couldn’t stop wondering, ‘What if?’ I was shaking. I felt incredibly vulnerable. I just locked myself in my hotel room. Now, I worry about my mum going out on her own, and there have been days I’ve been scared to take the tube.

"Ten years ago, I was set upon by eight youths near my university campus. They called me a terrorist and beat me up. My mistake was to fight back; then they urinated on me. They left laughing. I couldn’t stop crying. The university reported it to the police, but they didn’t find them. "As a visible Muslim woman, I know I’m an easy target. But it’s cowardly to pick on a woman just because of what she is wearing. It’s not just Islamophobia - this is sexism, too. These men saw me as a weak target, and tried to assert their masculinity over me. I wish people could understand you can’t blanket an entire faith just because of a few individuals who had nothing to do with us.”

Leila
Leila is a 28-year-old who lives in Oxford. She worked as an accountant before becoming a full time mum to two young children. “I was walking home with my two kids in their pushchair through the park when a white man on his bike came towards me, looked at me, stopped and spat first at me and then at my children. I felt angry, embarrassed, anxious and scared. But more than anything, I felt shock. What upset me more was that he didn’t just spit at me, but my children too. I knew I had to get home, and as soon as I got in, I phoned my husband. Then I called Tell Mama. I didn’t call the police because, well, what would they do?

"This happened the day after the soldier was killed in Woolwich. Since then, I’ve been nervous to go out. I feel people looking at me though I don’t know if I’m being paranoid. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. I’ve been chased off a bus by three women who threatened to beat me up because of my hijab. Everyday I heard comments against me on the bus. I was terrified by what they said they’d do and was too scared to go out on my own. Eventually we moved house because of the threats. "I take my children to a playgroup in a church every week, and I’ve never even taken them to a mosque. It’s upsetting that just because I wear a headscarf, they might get treated differently. I blame the media. It portrays a distorted image of Islam and makes out all of us are bad. I hope things change for my kids.”

Sophia Ditta
Sophia is 34 and lives in Bradford with her family. Four severed pigs heads were left outside her home. “A fortnight ago, my dad found a pig’s head by our front door. He called the police to report it. I went into the garden to see if there was anything else, and there was another pig’s head. I smelt it before I saw it. It was foul. The police told us to ‘preserve’ them so we kept them under bags overnight until they could come round. They asked if there had been anything else, and I suddenly remembered two bags in the bushes while I’d been gardening two weeks before. At the time, they were too heavy for me to lift and I never got round to it. So we went into the garden and found two more pigs heads in the bags, badly decomposed. They had been there a month - since just after the Woolwich attack. They smelt foul.

"I’ve never suffered any discrimination. We’re not the most devout Muslims, we don’t really go to the mosque and I don’t wear a headscarf. You wouldn’t be able to tell we’re Muslim. I see this as racism not Islamophobia, because no matter how Western we are, or how integrated into society we are, some people don’t see us as British or English. I think this was someone jumping on an EDL bandwagon. They tried to scare us, but it didn’t work. It hasn’t stopped me or my mum from doing anything. I’m not offended by a pig, though I am offended by the foul smell. "However, I reported it to Tell Mama, because although the police were sympathetic, they told us it was an isolated hate incident and nothing like that had happened in our area before. But I later told my neighbour who is also Muslim. He had found a pig’s head on his property a month ago too, and reported it to the police then. So it just shows they didn’t listen.”

Mehnaz
Mehnaz is originally from the UAE and was living in America until three years ago, when she came to England with her husband and three children to study for her PhD. “I was dropping my eldest daughter off at school and was reversing the car when another car blocked us in. At first, I thought I was in the way, so I was ready to apologise but then I saw the two young men in the car were screaming and shouting, pointing at me and gesturing at my headscarf in a very aggressive and threatening way. I was just holding my breath all the time. I felt so worried, and all I kept thinking was ‘Please don’t get out of your car.’” I managed to turn the car around and moved, but I was really scared of what they might do. I didn’t want my children to see. It really unsettled me.

"I’m wondering whether this sort of behaviour will be a long-term thing or whether it will go away. My husband and I lived in the States, and even after 9/11, I never felt threatened. The media coverage of Muslims in Britain makes it worse - after the Woolwich murder, the media was so intensely focused on Muslims that I can see why it made people so angry, even though it had nothing to do with us. But we are not all bad, we are well-educated people who pay our taxes and contribute to the economy. Right now, we need an environment that fosters peace rather than hatred and I don’t think the media is helping.”

Ola Ashi
Ola is a 21-year-old psychology student who was born and brought up in Cardiff. Her parents are from Palestine. “Because I wear hijab, I always feel slightly more vulnerable. It’s always at the back of my mind that something might happen because of it - but it definitely doesn’t keep me up at night or stop me from living my life. "In the past, I’ve been followed home and spat at in my car. I often get people calling out ‘Paki go home’ when I’m out jogging. One time I came out my house, and people drove past shouting ‘BNP’. At school I used to get my hijab yanked. I’m not bothered what this is called - whether it’s racism or Islamophobia - as long as it’s tackled.

"But I also know that’s it’s just a minority of people who do this. Muslim people don’t like being generalised, and I think it’s important we don’t generalise non-Muslims too. I have plenty of non-Muslim friends and they completely disagree with this kind of behaviour. On the times when I’ve had to involve the police, like when I’ve been followed or harassed, they were very understanding. "Since the Woolwich attack, I have felt more concerned but mostly I see people sticking together a lot more. My friends and I, whether non-Muslim or Muslim, text each other to remind each other when there’s an EDL demo going on so we can be safe and stay away. "The way I see it is I just have to show the best side of Islam that I can. My cousins in Gaza worry everyday about staying alive or being bombed by Israel. All I have to deal with is a few slurs. That puts it in perspective.”

Some names have been changed
© The New Statesman

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City taxi drivers' racist attack misery (UK)

A group of taxi drivers say they are living in fear of racist attacks and are calling on the council to allow them to install CCTV in their cars.

20/7/2013- The Scottish Ethnic Private Hire Welfare Association, which represents nearly 150 drivers belonging to ethnic minorities, said 30 drivers came forward to talk about their recent experiences of racism and hate crime at work. The revelations came to light during a recent conference. Pakistan-born Muhammed Saqib Majeed, the president of the association, has lived in Glasgow since 1997 and has driven a cab for 13 years. The 42-year-old said many drivers were worried about reporting racial attacks and abuse to the police because of a lack of evidence. If drivers were allowed to install CCTV or another recording devices in their cars, the organisation says it would make their members feel more safe at work and more able to report crimes.

Mr Majeed, who said he had suffered racial abuse several times while driving his car, said: "The safety of drivers needs to be taken into consideration. "We established the association in 2008 because there was a need for these drivers to be represented. "They should not have to experience any kind of racism at work." Mr Majeed also wants private hire drivers to be able to install other safety measures, such as wire grills separating the back and front seats. He said: "Most Hackney cab drivers have glass separating them from passengers and they feel much more safe in their job. "If someone tries to punch me or use a weapon on me while I'm driving, I have no protection."

Pakistan-born Fazal Qadir Naseem, from the South Side, is secretary of the organisation. He has lived in Glasgow for 28 years and has been a taxi driver for 14 years. The 57-year-old said: "Our members are having to deal with racism almost daily. The CCTV plea came after one 36-year-old male driver was assaulted two days after drummer Lee Rigby was beheaded in broad daylight in London. As reported in the Evening Times, Glasgow anti-racism campaigner and city solicitor Aamer Anwar has accused the police of "failing to investigate" the attack, which happened on Friday, May 24. The taxi had been called to pick up a fare at the La Cala pub in Dennistoun.

In a formal letter to Police Scotland, Mr Anwar said the driver had been racially abused, punched and kicked outside the pub by three white men, aged around 25. Mr Anwar said officers attended the scene after the attack was reported but have not visited the alleged victim since. Police Scotland said the complaint had been forwarded to Chief Constable Sir Steve House and inquiries were continuing. In regard to the investigation, a force spokesman said: "Any report of a hate crime will, as with all crime, be thoroughly and professionally investigated by Police Scotland. Indeed, we actively encourage reporting of any hate crime."

Mr Naseem said: "We encourage all our members to report any crime to the police but we need the police to investigate it fully." Mr Majeed added: "We deserve to be treated fairly. "There are several other incidents we've been told about involving taxi fraud and racial abuse and we worry that police and the council are not taking it seriously enough. "We are pushing for the council to consult with us. "Our drivers should not be living in fear." A Glasgow City Council spokesman said they were reviewing policies on allowing CCTV in private hire taxis, but that there were issues regarding infringement of civil liberties and human rights.

He said: "We have been looking at the arguments for and against CCTV – and the proposal is included in a review of policies that is under way with the trade. "However, there are significant legal and data protection issues to be resolved; with at least two local authorities in England facing action from the Information Commissioner. "In our own case, the Commissioner advised the council to wait until legislation was clear before adopting any policy."
© The Evening Times

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Mosque bombing suspect arrested over 'terrorist' murder of pensioner (UK)

Police link 25-year-old man held in connection with alleged bombing campaign to killing of Mohammed Saleem, 82

21/7/2013- Police said on Sunday that they were treating the murder of an Asian man near a mosque as a terrorist attack, and have arrested a man already being held over an alleged terror bombing campaign against Muslims. Mohammed Saleem, 82, was stabbed to death in April as he walked the few hundred yards from a Birmingham mosque to his home with the aid of a stick. Counter-terrorism detectives arrested a 25-year-old man on Saturday in connection with the murder, which they described as a "further act of terrorism". He is one of two Ukrainian men arrested on Thursday over three bomb attacks in a month on mosques in the West Midlands. Saleem was stabbed three times in the back at 10.10pm on 29 April in the Small Heath area of Birmingham. Images taken from CCTV in the aftermath of the attack showed a white male wearing a cap running away, and detectives said a racial motive was a line of inquiry. Saleem's funeral, delayed because of the police investigation, was attended by more than 5,000 people.

The home secretary, Theresa May, said she was "shocked and sickened" at the mosque attacks and the murder of Saleem. "What happened in the west midlands is a reminder that terrorism affects people of all backgrounds. Just as we saw people coming together to denounce Woolwich, so we must come together and stand firm against extremism whatever form it takes," May said in a statement. After the arrests for bomb attacks against mosques in Walsall on 21 June and Tipton on 12 July, police discovered a third explosion had taken place on 28 June close to Wolverhampton Central mosque. On Saturday police said one of the two men arrested had also been arrested on suspicion of Saleem's murder. Officers put on 12-hour shifts last week amid fears the bombers could strike again, a move the force described as extraordinary, have returned to working normal eight-hour shifts.

The investigation is being led by Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale, who said: "The murder of Mohammed Saleem now forms part of the wider West Midlands counter-terrorism unit investigation." Detectives continue to examine if the murder of Saleem and the attacks against the mosques are linked. They are also investigating whether those arrested had links to any groups, such as far-right violent extremists, in the UK or abroad. The men are believed to have only been in Britain for months, based at a Small Heath software company on a work placement. Its premises were searched by police who are understood to be investigating if there are any more devices or bomb-making material.

The Labour MP for Birmingham Ladywood, Shabana Mahmood, said: "I welcome the news that an arrest has been made in connection with the murder of Mr Saleem, a much-loved member of our community. "Although nothing can bring him back, the fact that a significant step has been taken towards getting justice for Mr Saleem will be a comfort to his family and the community in Small Heath. "It is shocking that Mr Saleem's brutal murder may have occurred as an act of terrorism – and it is vital that the community continues to support the police as they progress their investigations." Warrants to hold the two men for a further seven days under counter-terrorism laws were granted on Saturday by City of Westminster magistrates.

Shortly after Saleem's death, one of his daughters, Shazia Khan, said the attack was "a premeditated, brutal attack, pre-planned, intended to kill". She added: "I cannot see him having any enemies being so full of hate to do this to him. He was an old man. He had no other agenda in his life. We just cannot understand it. "We have to walk past where he was killed and we can visualise it – we have to live with that for the rest of our lives."
© The Guardian

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Headlines 19 July, 2013

New Country Profiles on Roma from ERRC

17/7/2013- The European Roma Rights Centre has published new country profiles today, which outline some of the major issues affecting Roma in 10 countries. The short reports indicate that, despite some efforts to improve the situation of Romani individuals and communities, they still are denied basic human rights. According to the findings presented in the country profiles, Romani individuals and communities still have to face violence and hate speech and cannot enjoy the same opportunities and standards as the rest of the society in access to essential services such as education or housing. The ERRC country profiles are produced to give a snapshot of the situation of Roma and the work of the ERRC in the Czech Republic, France, Italy, Macedonia, Serbia, Slovakia, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine in 2011-2012, focusing on ERRC core themes such as education, housing, violence and the state response to violent incidents

Sub-standard housing and ongoing evictions continue to be one of the major problems affecting Roma in France, Italy, Serbia, and Romania. In most cases, the evictions that took place violated international standards. Segregation of Romani children in education is still widespread across Central and Eastern European countries. In the Czech Republic, Macedonia, Serbia and Slovakia, Romani children are placed in special schools where they are taught a reduced curriculum which lowers their chances of fulfilling their potential, and teaches them and their peers that it is acceptable to label, stigmatise, and segregate. In Russia and Ukraine, many Roma lack proper identification documents, which prevents them from accessing basic services such as education and health care. In Slovakia and Romania, Romani settlements are segregated by walls, creating new ghettos. In Turkey, little progress has been made towards a comprehensive strategy and action plan to address the problems that Roma face.

The ERRC reports underline once more that long-rooted negative stereotypes and strong anti-Romani sentiments are the chief obstacles in improving the life standards of Roma. Discrimination in all fields of life is still the common factor in all countries. ERRC Executive Director Dezideriu Gergely said, “Our country profiles establish that there is a long way to go to reach a discrimination-free Europe. Roma matters are a litmus test for European values. Governments must put their commitments to fight discrimination into action.” The ERRC country profiles provide an overview on the situation of Roma in some key countries, and provide information that should strengthen research and advocacy by and for Roma across Europe. The findings were gathered from specific ERRC research, ongoing work by ERRC country monitors, media scanning and research from other sources. The profiles also list the international legal human rights tools that each country is a signatory to.
© European Roma Rights Center

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Jean-Marie Le Pen Sued for Calling Roma Gypsies 'Smelly'

18/7/2013- French Roma and Travellers groups have filed a lawsuit against far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen for calling members of the Roma community "smelly" and "rash-inducing". The European Roma and Travellers Forum (Ertf), SOS Racisme and the French Union of Travellers Association have joined to launch legal proceedings against Le Pen, founder and former leader of the far-right National Front party. Le Pen is accused of "inciting racial hatred" for his comments made in the southern city of Nice when he called Roma "stinging and let's say, stinking". Le Pen is accused of "inciting racial hatred" for his comments made in the southern city of Nice when he called Roma "stinging and let's say, stinking".

"I'll give you a prognosis: you have some concerns, it appears, with a few hundred Roma who have a stinging, let's say stinking, presence in the city... that's just the tip of the iceberg," Le Pen said addressing his party members. "I announce that within 2014 around 50,000 Roma will arrive in Nice. Also, from the 1st of January, the 12 million Roma that live in Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary will have the possibility of moving in all the other European countries". The Roma forum slammed Le Pen's remarks as "hurtful, insensitive, outrageous and xenophobic" and claimed that they breach French law.

The complaint also denounced remarks by Nice mayor and centre-right UMP deputy Christian Estrosi, according to The Local website. In 5 July, the opposition politician labelled the Roma community "criminals" and proposed tougher measures for dealing with them, notably the use of CCTV camera in the Roma and traveller camps. The daughter of Jean-Marie, Marine Le Pen - current leader of the National Front - had been stripped of her immunity as a former member of the European Parliament and could face charges of incitement to racial hatred.
© The International Business Times

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Hate Speech Aagainst Serbian Journalist Condemned

Several dozen journalists from the Balkans have signed a petition condemning an online article aimed at intimidating a well-known Serbian journalist and human rights activist

17/7/2013- Some 50 journalists from various former Yugoslav countries have signed a petition condemning what they call the hate speech used in an article attacking a journalist from Serbia's northern Vojvodina province. The article, published on the Serbian web portals koreni.com and intermagazin.com, is entitled "Vojvodina man Nedim Sejdinovic has been lustrating Serbs for years and compares Germany under Hitler to Serbia under [Slobodan] Milosevic". In it, the author, P Petrovic, denies that Bosnian Serb forces carried out an act of genocide against Bosniaks [Muslims] in Srebrenica, Bosnia, in 1995, and calls Sejdinovic, who was born in Bosnia, an "Islamic thinker" and a "Vojvodina separatist".

The article suggests that Sejdinovic should not think he has the right to walk the streets of his home city of Novi Sad safely. The article also prompted angry follow-up posts, demanding Sejdinovic's home address. "We condemn this impudent attack on our colleague. Journalists from the region are united in denouncing unprofessionalism, chauvinism and calls for a lynch," the journalists said in the petition, published on Tuesday at kontrapress.com portal. Among the journalists signing the petition are the president of the Independent Association of Vojvodina Journalists, Dinko Gruhonjić, and the president of the Croatian Journalists Association, Zdenko Duka.

In their statement, they note that Sejdinovic lives in a country, Serbia, "in which three journalists were killed during the last 20 years", adding that none of these cases was solved."We won't accept calls for a lynch becoming a normal part of public speech," the journalists added. Sejdinovic, a journalist, writer and human rights activist from Novi Sad, is cofounder of the Independent Association of Vojvodina Journalists and of Citizens' Vojvodina, an NGO.
© Balkan Insight

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Anti-racism group condemns Crimestoppers poster (UK)

19/7/2013- A new Crimestoppers poster portraying a black drug dealer handcuffed and lying on the ground has been condemned by anti-racism campaigners. The poster is being put up around Glasgow and shows a black man in tattoos grimacing as he lies pinned to the ground by a mobile phone, which represents the people who contacted Crimestoppers to help prevent crime, in what appears to be a multi-storey car park. A knife and two bags of white powder, one of which has spilled onto the ground, lie beside the booted figure and the word “Drugstoppers” is emblazoned above him along with “£293 million of drugs seized, thanks to your calls”. The poster aims to highlight the role that the charity, which allows people to report crime anonymously, has played in stopping crime.

However, Graham Campbell, vice-chairman of the African and Caribbean Network in the city, said picking a black man to depict a drug dealer was hugely insensitive and went against efforts to create racial equality. He said black people in Scotland were far more likely to be the victims of crime than to commit crimes. According to the last census in 2011, black people made up just 0.1 per cent of the population, with 5,700 people describing themselves of African or Caribbean descent. Last year 574 racist crimes against black people were recorded in Scotland, 9 per cent of the total and more than those where the victim was Chinese or Irish.

Speaking after one billboard was placed in Garscube Road in the Maryhill area, Mr Campbell said: “This is not an image I would want to see associated with black people in Glasgow. “These type of billboards were a problem when I was growing up in London back in the 1980s and we’ve moved on since then. “But we rarely see black people represented at all, so it’s hugely disappointing that when we do they are portrayed negatively.” The African and Caribbean Network, based at a centre in Glasgow’s Trongate, is a coalition of around 30 groups which represents around 2,000 people.

Mr Campbell said Crimestoppers appeared to have failed to carry out a race equality strategy which would have led them to use more sensitive images. He added: “This billboard sends out completely the wrong message about who are the perpetrators of crime and who are the victims. “Black people are statistically more likely to be victims of crime. “I’m also concerned that this billboard has been placed in Maryhill Road, where a lot of the black community live. “The implication is being given that to people that they should mistrust their neighbour.”

A Crimestoppers spokeswoman said the campaign was in place to thank the public for providing information on a range of different crimes, including drugs, which represents a high number of the 1,000 calls it receives daily. The image is one of 11 different crime types used across the country that depict a number of offences. She added: “The charity aims to unite communities in doing so and provides a platform for people to do something positive in making their town or city a safer place to live irrespective of gender, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation or beliefs. “We are a non-judgmental charity here to help and support communities. “This is a national campaign and as such the posters created will be placed across the UK.

“A number of the crimes we deal with may be more prevalent in one area than another and the perpetrator and victims of such will again be different from one town or city to another. “Should any of the poster cause offence, Crimestoppers would like to extend an apology and would be happy to discuss a alternative way in which we can promote the work done by the charity and also to thank the people of Glasgow and elsewhere for their support over the last five years.”
© The Scotsman

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Facebook user jailed for 'appalling' Grimsby mosque comments (UK)

18/7/2013- A Facebook user who stirred up "appalling, racist and anti-religious" hatred about burning down a Grimsby mosque has been jailed for eight weeks. His remarks were "beyond the pale" and could easily have fanned the flames of more racial and religious hatred, Grimsby Magistrates' Court heard. Terence Baker, 25, of Columbia Road, Grimsby, admitted sending an offensive or menacing message on May 24. Brendan Woodward, prosecuting, said Baker posted messages on his Facebook site after the murder of soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich. He made comments about the Grimsby mosque being burned down. "The comments were quite inflammatory in nature, particularly in the context of what was occurring at that time," said Mr Woodward. "He was asked about their extreme nature in relation to burning the mosque down but he declined to comment."

Gemma Greetham, mitigating, said Baker no longer had his Facebook account. "He foolishly put these comments on Facebook but realised what he had done the following day, deleted the comments and deactivated his Facebook account. "He has no desire to reactivate that account." Baker had been working sporadically doing garden clearance work for a friend two or three days a week. District judge Daniel Curtis told Baker: "I am quite sure there wasn't a single person in this country who wasn't shocked and appalled by the atrocious murder of Lee Rigby in Woolwich some time ago. "The majority of the population have responded to that awful offence with dignity in an appropriate way with remorse and compassion. "You did not fall in to that category. Your response to that, and an attack in this town on a local mosque, was frankly beyond the pale. "Your remarks are appalling, racist and anti-religious in relation to a religion you clearly do not understand. "Your remarks could have stirred up even further racial hatred and religious hatred. "I have to make it clear to people who want to stir up this sort of religious hatred that this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated."
© The Grimsby Telegraph.

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Sutton primary schools report 343 racist incidents in last three years (UK)

Measures to tackle racism in primary schools are failing, campaigners have claimed, after hundreds of incidents were revealed in council records.

18/7/2013- There have been 343 reports of racial harassment - including name calling and children refusing to work with each other because of their race among pupils in Sutton's primary schools since 2009. The figures were released by Sutton Council following a request under the Freedom of Information Act. Campaigners said it is good incidents are getting reported but the figures show measures to combat racism are failing. Ex-top-flight footballer and former Wallington man Paul Mortimer, who now works in schools for anti-racism charity Show Racism the Red Card, said the council needs to look at changing its tactics. The ex-Aston Villa and Crystal Palace star said: "The fact the number of incidents is not falling shows not enough is being done. "Teachers need training and to be taught what racism is. "Many teachers don't have any experiences of racism, so how can we expect them to teach our youngsters?"

Mr Mortimer, who now lives in Purley, said punishments handed out to Chelsea captain John Terry and Liverpool forward Luis Suarez for racist incidents in recent years showed there was still a lack of understanding of the issue. He added: "People don't always see what impact racism has on a young person and when an incident like Terry or Suarez is seen by millions youngsters around the world, and they are slapped on the wrist, it doesn't send out a good signal." Sue Smith, secretary of the Sutton Teachers Committee, said she was "saddened" by the figures, but said they need to be put into perspective. She said: "There are nearly 50 primary schools in the borough and 195 official school days. "Any incident of racism I'm sure is dealt with robustly in schools."

The majority of verbal incidents recorded were name calling. Last year there were two incidents which involved targeting what somebody was wearing. Since 2009 there have four incidents where a pupil has refused to work with another on race grounds. Councillor Dave Callaghan, chairman of Sutton Council's children, family and education committee said: "Schools pro-actively and consistently address this issue and the reported levels indicate that pupils and families continue to be encouraged to report any incidents which occur."
© Your Local Guardian

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Six Met police officers could be sacked over racist joke text messages (UK)

News emerges as part of watchdog report saying force is failing in way it handles racism complaints against officers from public

17/7/2013- Six Metropolitan police officers are facing the sack for sending each other racist jokes, it has emerged on the day that the police watchdog said the force was letting down the public in the way it handled racist complaints. The officers, from the borough of Kensington and Chelsea in west London, are alleged to have sent a total of 31 text messages described as being of a "highly offensive nature" in the summer of 2012. They are due to face a gross misconduct hearing in November, where the maximum sanction is dismissal without notice if they are found guilty of the discreditable conduct alleged. Of the six officers, one is a sergeant with nine years service and five are constables. Two of the six, the sergeant and a PC, have been suspended, while the rest are now on restricted duties.

Eight other officers were sent messages, one of whom reported the offensive nature of the texts to his bosses in July 2012. Those eight officers have been dealt with by management action, such as words of advice. The case is being investigated by the Met's directorate of professional standards, which believe the texts were sent when the officers were off-duty. The incident was not made public by the Met. Instead it is contained in a report released by the police watchdog, finding the Met is failing in the way it handles complaints of racism against officers, over a decade after the force vowed to stamp out prejudice in the ranks. The report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission led the Met to admit it was letting down the public in the way it handled racism complaints.

The report followed allegations of police racism in 2012 in a series of incidents, some of which were revealed by the Guardian. Those allegations led to IPCC to investigate. The IPCC said it was "crucial to public confidence" that racism complaints were handled fairly. It found that 511 racism complaints were made against officers in April 2011 to May 2012. In some the Met investigation comprised of asking the officers to respond by email, than accepting their denial and finding against the complainant. The watchdog also found the Met issued a "standard, generic apology" regardless of what the investigation found which of "very little value".

IPCC commissioner Jennifer Izekor said: "This report shows that, though there are some examples of good practice, in general there is an unwillingness or inability to deal with these complaints robustly and effectively. "Too often, complaints are dismissed without proper investigation or resolution, complainants are not properly engaged with, and lessons are not learned." The IPCC report is the latest dent to the Met's claims to have done all it can to clean up racism. It has recently faced criticism over stop and search, and to have attempted to smear the family of Stephen Lawrence, murdered in a racist attack, whose killers were left free in part because of institutional racism, according to the 1999 Macpherson report.

Izekor said: "We know that there is less confidence both in policing and in the complaints system among BME [black and minority ethnic] communities. If the Metropolitan police service is serious about building that confidence, there will need to be a cultural change to complaints handling." The IPCC called for "a cultural change in the way the MPS deals with such complaints, supported by training, monitoring and community feedback". The IPCC paid special attention to 20 cases where the Met was left to investigate racism cases itself. It found in the majority, 13 cases, "the investigating officer made no effort to obtain additional evidence that could have supported the allegation of racism".

In its response, the Met vowed to reform and learn. The assistant commissioner, Simon Byrne welcomed the report's critical findings and said: "It is powerful, showing the way we deal with complaints involving racism is letting down the public." He added the force was determined to "be less defensive and accept when we are not performing as well as we should be". Byrne said the force favoured an independent ethics panel to oversee misconduct proceedings for the Met, and wanted senior officers to meet those who felt let down to humanise complainants and improve their negative experiences of complaining about police racism.
© The Guardian

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Hate crime victim who 'kept on walking' urged to contact police (UK)

Eyewitnesses reported the racial abuse to police, but the victim has never got in touch

17/7/2013- Police are urging a hate crime victim who never reported he was racially abused to come forward. Passersby looked on in horror when a man drinking on a bench outside a supermarket in Merthyr started subjecting a passing shopper to racist abuse. They said the victim refused to react during the confrontation outside Tesco in Tramroadside at 3.30pm on Monday, June 17, and he has never reported the crime to police. Instead, he ignored the man and continued walking up the steps to Main Street. Police said the suspect – who was drinking alcohol on the bench outside the store – was aged around 30, 5ft 7ins and 5ft 10ins tall, with fair skin and short, dark hair. He spoke with a local accent.

Inspector Claire Hallett of South Wales Police said: “There is no place for this type of behaviour in Merthyr. The fact that this was reported to police by a bystander is testament to the fact that the wider community won’t tolerate it. “I’d like to assure any victim of racism, homophobia, or disability hate crime, that we take reports very seriously indeed and anyone caught committing hate crimes are robustly dealt with. “The victim of the attack is urged to come forward, as is anyone else who saw what happened or who thinks they may know who was responsible.”
© Wales Online

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Police must change 'stop and search' tactics says report (UK)

16/7/2013- More needs to be done to solve "mistrust" between some black and Asian communities and Notts Police, a report has said. Professor Cecile Wright's study into how people from black and ethnic minority backgrounds view the force also made 31 recommendations. Made public yesterday, the report said the force should overhaul how it uses stop-and-search powers and draw up an action plan to tackle hate crime. The 61-page study was commissioned by Notts Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping. It involved a survey of 550 Notts people from black and ethnic minority backgrounds, plus focus group discussions and one-to-one interviews.

Its key findings included the fact that 42 per cent of respondents had been stopped by police and 30 per cent of these had been stopped and searched. Only one in five would consider working for police and more than a quarter had experienced hate crime. Mr Tipping said: "I think there is a hunger for change. People in the city think they've waited and waited for a long time. "That's why I decided I was going to ask the community in Nottingham to speak for themselves. Among the report's pages are snapshots from interviews of how some black and Asian people view the force. One black 20-year-old student from St Ann's said: "I look at my dad's generation, they don't like the police. "When I look at my granddad, my grandad doesn't like the police. "If you lot say you are going to train the police over five years, I'm still not going to really like the police. "We need to sort it out."

A number of people also said they had been left feeling "violated" after being stopped. The report highlights a "long-standing mistrust" which has existed between parts of the black and ethnic minority ethnic communities in Notts. Prof Wright, of the University of Nottingham's school of sociology and social policy, concludes in her report: "Although punctuated with examples of excellent police work the consistent message is that the situation needs to improve with regard to how the public and police engage with and relate to each other." Chief Constable Chris Eyre said Notts Police had already been reviewing how it used stop-and-search and used it much less than other forces. Figures suggested there was a match between where officers used the power and where crime hot spots were, he added.
© This is Nottingham

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A police officer who interrogated an alleged accomplice of the NSU terrorism group claims that Beate Zschäpe, the main defendant in the Munich neo-Nazi trial, was an "equal member" in the trio that is believed to have killed 10 people, most of foreign origin.

17/7/2013- A federal police officer questioned in Germany's neo-Nazi terrorism trial in Munich on Tuesday provided testimony that is some of the most damning yet for the main defendant, Beate Zschäpe, who is accused of being an accomplice in 10 murders and a member of the National Socialist Underground (NSU) terrorist group. The officer said the alleged accomplice Holger G., accused of supporting the NSU, had said during interrogation that Zschäpe had been an "equal member" in the group alongside the other two members, Uwe Böhnhardt and Uwe Mundlos. The NSU claimed responsibility for murdering nine mostly Turkish immigrants and a German police officer. Böhnhardt and Mundlos committed suicide as police were closing in on them after they robbed a bank in November 2011. Holger G. also said Zschäpe came across "like a wife" with two husbands. "Decisions were always made together with Ms. Zschäpe," he allegedly said.

'Assertive' and 'Prepared to Use Violence'
Holger G. allegedly told the police officer he had experienced Zschäpe within the group as a person who was "assertive" and also "prepared to use violence". He said she wasn't the kind of woman who subordinated herself to others. Holger G. allegedly told the police officer about one incident when Zschäpe slapped a punk woman on a bus because she had "looked at her in a funny way." Holger G. told the police officer that Zschäpe was responsible for the group's finances. He also spoke of "benefit concerts" and "ballad nights" at which money had been collected within the far-right scene for the group in hiding. G. himself donated 3,000 deutsche marks (just over €1,500 or $2,000) for the purpose -- money he was later paid back by Zschäpe. The police asserted that G. had accused co-defendant Ralf Wohlleben of helping to organize the concerts.

Holger G. looked very similar to Böhnhardt, and allegedly made both his passport and his driver's license available to the group as well as other documents, making it possible for them to rent vehicles used in bank robberies and to help facilitate their lives underground. He was indispensable to Böhnhardt, Mundlos and Zschäpe. But it was a role he wasn't entirely comfortable with. G. reportedly told the federal police officer that he was concerned the second time he secured a passport for Böhnhardt. He didn't want to lose everything that he and his girlfriend had built up over the years.

Help for the Sake of Friendship
At the beginning of the Munich trial, Holger G. testified that he had broken with his right-wing radical past when he moved from the former East Germany to Hanover and met a girlfriend there. Still, the federal police officer testified that he had continued to be available to support Böhnhardt, Mundlos and Zschäpe afterwards for pure reasons of friendship. The testimony from the police officer could prove damaging to the defense because Holger G. spoke often during his interrogations of "the three," or "the trio". It indicates there were no differences in the hierarchy and could prove important to prosecutors in proving that Zschäpe was a member of a terrorist organization. In addition to aiding the terror group, Holger G. is also alleged to have delivered a pistol to the group. The gun was allegedly bought by co-defendant Ralf Wohlleben. The federal police officer said Holger G. had brought the investigation forward "massively" by saying who obtained the weapon. Initially, G. told police he didn't know he had been carrying a weapon, but he eventually conceded his knowledge of it.

A Weapon Delivered Despite Reluctance
Holger G. said he was reluctant to deliver the weapon but did so because he didn't believe Böhnhardt or Mundlos would use it. This came despite the fact that there had been numerous discussions within the inner circle of the NSU about whether the group should be armed. Both Böhnhardt and Mundlos had clearly stated they were prepared for violence. Wohlleben has been charged with being an accomplice to murder in the case and Holger G. with supporting a terrorist group. The only reason G. hasn't been charged with being an accomplice to murder as well is that the weapon he delivered to the group has not been linked to any of the killings. Holger G. had a close relationship with the group and even went on vacations with them -- trips that Zschäpe allegedly paid for in exchange for yearly "system checks" by Holger G. to ensure that the cover he provided them in securing documents under Uwe Böhnhardt's name would still work. So far, Holger G. has not been willing to be questioned in court.
© The Spiegel

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Noose protest against Italy's first black minister

16/7/2013- Italian police on Monday were investigating far-right militants suspected of hanging nooses to protest Italy's first black minister Cecile Kyenge, two days after a senator compared her to an orangutan. The nooses appeared on lampposts with posters signed by far-right group Forza Nuova in the city of Pescara where the minister for integration was visiting for a conference on immigration and citizenship. "Immigration, the noose of the people!" read one of the slogans on the posters. Another said: "Everyone should live in their own country". Kyenge, who is of Congolese origin, has called for a reform of Italian law to make it easier for children born to immigrant parents to acquire citizenship. Prime Minister Enrico Letta called for an end to the insults against Kyenge, saying this was a "shameful chapter" for Italy and could lead to a "major clash".

Ever since being named to the cabinet in April, Kyenge has faced a barrage of abuse -- particularly from members of the anti-immigration Northern League party. Northern League MEP Mario Borghezio said her nomination was "bloody stupid" and that she had "a face like a housewife", while one local party activist said the minister should be raped in a vicious Facebook rant about crimes committed by immigrants. Northern League senator Roberto Calderoli, who has courted controversy for years with a series of racist, sexist and Islamophobic jibes, on Saturday said: "When I see pictures of Kyenge, I cannot help thinking of similarities with an orangutan".

In an interview with La Repubblica daily out on Monday, Calderoli then claimed that he had animalistic comparisons for all the ministers, including ones who looked like a frog, a peacock and a St Bernard's dog. Letta on Monday said Calderoli's remarks were "unacceptable" and called on Northern League leader Roberto Maroni to put an end to the attacks by his party members "as quickly as possible". Calderoli is deputy speaker of the Senate and there have been calls for his resignation from centre-left lawmakers and anti-racism campaigners.
© AFP

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George Zimmerman: hate crime case would be tough to prove, experts say (USA)

Federal prosecutors would need to prove that Zimmerman sought to harm Trayvon Martin because he was black – analysts

15/7/2013- Eric Holder, the US attorney general, vowed on Monday to press ahead with a civil rights investigation into George Zimmerman, acquitted of murdering the unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, despite experts suggesting that a federal prosecution would be even less likely to result in a conviction than the state trial. Former Justice Department officials said that any prosecution brought under civil rights legislation, as demanded by campaigners, would have to meet a tough test if it was to succeed. At the state trial in Florida, jurors acquitted Zimmerman of second-degree murder, and declined an option presented late in the trial to find him guilty of a lesser charge of manslaughter. Zimmerman claimed he killed Martin, who was 17, in self-defence.

Speaking in Washington on Monday, Holder said the Justice Department would "continue to act in a manner that is consistent with the facts and the law". But three former senior officials from the Justice Department told the Guardian that prosecutors would face serious hurdles in bringing a hate crime case against Zimmerman. The Justice Department opened an investigation into Martin's death last year, but it was put on hold to allow the state prosecution to proceed. On Sunday, the department announced the case had been reactivated. Senior officials who previously worked in the civil rights division of the DoJ – which is now actively assessing the case along with the US attorney's office in Florida and the FBI – said the process could take months. None were optimistic about the possibility of a fresh prosecution.

If Zimmerman is to face new charges under federal law, they would almost certainly be under the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which was enacted by the Obama administration in 2009. Federal prosecutors would need to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, wilfully inflicted bodily injury because Martin was black. If found guilty, he could face life imprisonment. At the trial, prosecutors sought to portray Zimmerman as an angry vigilante who was "fed up" after a series of burglaries at the Retreat at Twin Lakes gated community, and who wrongly assumed that Martin, who was wearing a hooded top, was a criminal who was "up to no good". But they did not present any evidence of a racial motivation to the crime. In recordings of calls with a 911 dispatcher, Zimmerman did not mention Martin's race until he was prompted.

"Racially motivated cases are very difficult because you need to establish the state of mind of the perpetrator at the time he committed the crime," explained William Yeomans, who was acting assistant attorney general in 2001. "It would require showing that George Zimmerman was motivated by race in this instance." He added: "There is a good argument that racial profiling may well have occurred, and his identification of Trayvon Martin as a suspicious person certainly had a racial element to it. But the legal question will be whether that initial racial consciousness carried through to the point where he actually decided to inflict bodily injury by shooting." Yeomans, who was also a chief of staff in the Justice Department, and is now a law professor in Washington, said government prosecutors would have "a very difficult hurdle" to overcome in the case. The department has also traditionally been cautious when bringing federal charges in cases that have already been tried at state level, he said.

Samuel Bagenstos, who until two years ago was deputy in the department's civil rights division, said that criminal civil rights prosecutions had become more common under the Obama administration, but attorneys assessing the case were likely to be cautious. "I am sure what they will do now is look at all the evidence they had before the trial, carefully look at the transcript of the trial, and try to make an assessment of whether this is a hate crime case that they could prove beyond reasonable doubt," he said. "One of the things that makes this a challenge prosecution in general is that this was an altercation between two people, one of whom doesn't have to testify, the other of whom is dead as a result of the altercation. The prosecution bears the burden of proving beyond reasonable doubt that a crime occurred." He added: "That is going to make it especially challenging, particularly when we're talking about the hate crime charges that require proof of what was on George Zimmerman's mind."

Bagenstos, a professor at law at Michigan, said the civil rights division was used to dealing with highly-politicised cases such as this, but would guard against being swayed by public opinion. He pointed out that when he was an official at the department, it declined to file charges in the case of Sean Bell, a 23-year-old black man who was fatally shot by police in Queens, New York. "In the kinds of criminal cases that the civil rights division investigates, that kind of public pressure is very common," he said. "They're used to it. They try to filter that out to the extent that they can." A third former Justice Department official, Bradley Schlozman, who served under attorney general Alberto Gonzales, was most pessimistic about the likelihood of a federal prosecution based on the claim the shooting of Martin was racially-motivated. "Based on my reading of the statutes, in conjunction with what I have read in news reports about the trial, I think it is highly unlikely that there would be a basis for a federal, criminal civil rights prosecution," he said.

Schlozman, who ran the civil rights division in 2005, said that Zimmerman's profiling of the teenager "could be a relevant consideration" for the prosecution. In 2009, departmental investigators found Schlozman to have violated the Civil Service Reform Act by hiring attorneys on the basis of their ideological affiliations. However, as one of the handful of former senior officials from the department dealing with civil rights issues who agreed to speak publicly about the Zimmerman investigation, he offers some insight into how its attorneys may approach the case. "The defense at the trial, my understanding is, suggested that there was no racial profiling at all," he said. "He was simply looking for individuals that didn't belong in the neighbourhood."
© The Guardian

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Gay rights versus far right (Hungary)

Organisers claim march was largest yet but questions are raised over violence and police response

13/7/2013- Heavy police security ensured that the annual Budapest Pride parade passed off peacefully on Saturday, with several thousand participants marching from Heroes’ Square to Olympia Park on the Danube riverside – a record attendance according to the organisers. However, an alleged attack on three homeward-bound participants by far-right thugs has prompted a police investigation and expressions of concern from civil rights ombudsman Máté Szabó.
The small liberal party SZEMA said three of its members were assaulted near Nyugati railway station shortly after the official end of the event. According to a statement, some 30 “uniformed neo-Nazis” beat up their targets while shouting “Gypsy faggots”. SZEMA demanded an explanation from police and the Interior Ministry after it alleged that the three victims were subsequently subject to ID checks while the perpetrators were allowed to leave the scene.

Police responded on Sunday that the attackers had already gone when the victims approached police to complain about the assault. The following day, however, an investigation was launched into an attack carried out against “members of a community” by a group of unidentified perpetrators. According to a Monday statement on the national police website, the three victims were interviewed over the weekend and had backed up their allegations with medical reports from outpatient clinics. One of the men, media later reported, was the headmaster of a grammar school. Witnesses, especially those who may have photographic or video evidence, have been asked to come forward. Ombudsman Szabó noted on Tuesday that to ensure the right to free assembly, police have a duty to ensure the safe passage of participants as they disperse, not only to secure the event itself. Police had informed him that the operation to keep an estimated 300 anti-gay protesters away from the 4,000 participants in the march had been successful, but that a number of arrests were made elsewhere in the capital.

Biggest yet
Organisers put the number of participants at 8,000 and said the 18th annual march was the largest Budapest Pride event to date. As in recent years, the unbroken fencing that lined the route meant that only those who began on Heroes’ Square were able to join the march. Among the speakers at a “civil picnic” in Olympia Park was Austrian Green MEP Ulrike Lunacek. Domestic politicians from the opposition Socialist Party, green LMP and Dialogue for Hungary were among the participants. Representatives of several embassies took part, with 18 of them having previously endorsed the event. The Christian Democrats, junior partner in the ruling coalition, issued a statement describing Budapest Pride as a “parade of political opportunists”.

The party called on participants not to provoke people, families and communities who were not “with them”. The event actually hinders the acceptance of homosexuality by bringing sexual orientation out into the open rather than keeping it where it belongs “inside the bedroom walls”, the party said. The extreme-right Jobbik party held a rally on Érzsébet tér (square), ostensibly celebrating “camaraderie”. The party had earlier said it would never have allowed the event to go ahead under a Jobbik government. In an internal memo obtained by news website index.hu, the party’s Budapest leadership banned members who wanted to “attend” the “poofter parade” in a private capacity from wearing party insignia.
© The Budapest Times

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Headlines 12 July, 2013

Kosovo Jails Macedonia Mass Murder Suspects

Two ethnic Albanians wanted in Skopje over five killings which raised ethnic tensions in Macedonia have been jailed for a total of four years and six months for illegal weapons possession.

12/7/2013- The two men, Afrim Ismailovic and Alil Demiri were convicted of illegally possessing and carrying weapons and jailed by the Pristina court on Friday despite the fact that Macedonia wants them to be extradited to Skopje to face terrorism charges over the high-profile killings. Ismailovic, who had pleaded guilty, was sentenced to two years in jail, while Demiri was sentenced to two years and six months. “This will include the time they spent in detention on remand since they were arrested in March 3 this year,” judge Hava Haliti said when announcing the verdict. Their defence lawyers had claimed in mitigation that they were afraid of being captured by the Macedonian security services. During the men’s arrest, Kosovo police said they confiscated an automatic gun, a pistol, two hand grenades and 31 bullets. “They [Ismailovic and Demiri] bought the arms, found in the last apartment where they lived, for any eventuality because they understood they could be in danger [of being targeted] by the [Macedonian] secret service,” the indictment said.

The men can appeal against the verdict over the next 15 days. Four other ethnic Albanians are already on trial in Skopje on terrorism charges over the killings near the Macedonian capital in April 2012 – known locally as the ‘Monster’ case. All have pleaded not guilty. Macedonia has sent an extradition request to Kosovo in the hope of also prosecuting Demiri and Ismailovic, who have been on the run since the trial in Skopje began last December. The four men on trial were held when police arrested 20 allegedly radical Muslims during an operation last May in several villages around the capital. The bodies of Filip Slavkovski, Aleksandar Nakjevski, Cvetanco Acevski and Kire Trickovski, all aged between 18 and 20, had been discovered on April 12 last year. Their corpses had been lined up and they appeared to have been executed. The body of 45-year-old Borce Stevkovski was found a short distance away from the rest. News of the murder raised ethnic tensions after groups of ethnic Macedonians staged protests, which in some cases turned violent, blaming the killings on members of the country’s large Albanian community.
© Balkan Insight

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Macedonia: Spate of Anti-Gay Attacks

10/7/2013- The Macedonian government should ensure a thorough investigation into the series of anti-LGBTI attacks in June and July 2013, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski. The victims included human rights defenders who gathered in the LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex) Support Center in Skopje at the beginning of the Gay Pride Week and a famous actor who had come out as a gay man. In the most recent attack, on July 5, unidentified people tried to set fire to the LGBTI Support Center in Skopje. Preliminary findings by the fire brigade and the Skopje Police Inspection Department show that someone had climbed on the roof, removed a dozen roof tiles, spilled gasoline on the roof planks, and set them on fire.

“Anti-gay thugs are targeting people who support equal rights on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and the Macedonian government seems to be turning a blind eye,” said Boris Dittrich, LGBT rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “Not a single government official has publicly spoken out against these blatant attacks, leaving LGBTI people even more vulnerable to violence and discrimination.” Skopje’s Pride week was opened in the LGBTI Support Center on June 22. Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that about 40 LGBTI activists were inside, at a film screening. A mob of about 30 people gathered outside, shouting derogatory and homophobic slogans and threatening the people inside. The assailants threw stones, bottles, and bricks at the center, wounding a police officer who had arrived on the scene, the witnesses said. One of the leaders of LGBT United Macedonia, who was inside the center at the time of the attack, has since received several death threats on Facebook.

On June 25, a mob gathered outside the house of the openly gay actor and LGBTI human rights defender Petar Stojkovikj, who was inside with his partner. The mob threw stones at the house and shouted threats and homophobic slurs.

Most of the targets of the attacks filed complaints with the police. But no one has been arrested and the authorities have not provided information about any investigations they may be undertaking. “The police have a responsibility to protect all Macedonians, and to investigate all crimes,” Dittrich said. “The prime-minister and the other government ministers should show some political leadership by calling on all Macedonians to halt the anti-LGBTI violence and discrimination.” Since 2005 Macedonia has been involved in a “stabilization and association” process with the European Union as a candidate for future membership. Article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which entered into force in December 2009, prohibits discrimination, specifically including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

The European Commission wrote in its progress report on Macedonia in 2012:
"The Anti-Discrimination Law is still not fully in line with the acquis; discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is still omitted. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community continues to suffer from discrimination and stigmatization.... The framework law on anti-discrimination does not explicitly prohibit discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation in employment and occupation and is therefore not fully in line with the acquis. A structured and systematic data analysis on discrimination has not been established. Awareness raising activities on equity and non-discrimination need to be intensified." On March 31, 2010, the Committee of Ministers of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe unanimously adopted recommendations to combat discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. Macedonia is a member of the Council of Europe and its foreign affairs minister agreed to the recommendations.

The governments agreed to ensure effective, prompt, and impartial investigations into alleged cases of crimes and other incidents in which sexual orientation or gender identity could have been a motive, leading to appropriate punishment. They also agreed to take appropriate measures to combat all forms of expression that would promote discrimination against LGBT people, including in the media and on the Internet. They said that government representatives should promote tolerance and respect for the human rights of LGBT people when speaking with representatives of civil society, including media, sports, and political organizations, and religious communities. And they said public authorities should publicly condemn any unlawful interference with freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, notably for LGBT people.

The Macedonian government needs to abide by these commitments, Human Rights Watch said. Officials should publicly denounce violence and hate speech against LGBTI people, investigate discriminatory incidents promptly, thoroughly, and fairly, and bring those responsible to justice. The authorities should take all necessary measures to prevent similar incidents in the future. “This troubling spate of anti-LGBTI attacks makes it all the more critical for the Macedonian government to take its Council of Europe commitments seriously,” Dittrich said. “The government silence after these attacks, combined with its general disregard for the basic human rights of LGBTI people, contributes to a vicious climate in which hate-filled people believe they can harass and threaten LGBTI rights defenders with impunity.”
© Human Rights Watch

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Italy to vote on bill protecting gay people from hate crime

Bill criticized by LGBT-friendly lawyer group saying it will not protect transgender people from trans-motivated hate crimes

11/7/2013- Italy's Justice Commission of the lower chamber of the parliament has approved the first draft of a new law protecting gay people from hate crimes. The bill, which proposes to extend the Italian anti-discrimination law to violence and crimes motivated by homophobia, will now be discussed and voted by the whole parliament from 22 July. Ivan Scalfarotto, an openly gay member of parliament from Partito Democratico, proposed the bill. ‘This is a good example of good policies. We have done a great job,' he said.

But not all LGBT activists are happy for the new bill. Gay-friendly and pro-gay lawyers’ group Rete Lenford wants the draft to be changed as it does not include the definition of gender identity. According to the association, trans people will not be protected by the law, saying: 'This lack [of the definition of 'gender identity'] could discriminate transgender people, because we are not male and female only.’

The Italian anti-discrimination law dates back to 1993 and is named after Nicola Mancino, the former Home Secretary who proposed it. The Mancino Law protects Italians from nazi-fascist groups, racial abuse and religious discrimination, but does not protect them against homophobia. In the past, Italian LGBT groups have tried several times to get the government to pass a hate crime law, but it is only now legislation has reached parliament.
© Gay Star News

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10/7/2013- Former mayor of Reykjavík claims a mosque will threaten Iceland’s culture and safety. Ólafur F. Magnússon, who was mayor for little less than 7 months in 2008, is highly pessimistic about plans of a mosque being built in the open space of in the eastern part of Reykjavík, Eyjan reports. City council approved of the plans last week, after Muslims in Iceland having waited 13 years to get a property to raise the first mosque in Iceland. Ólafur writes in Morgunblaðið today, expressing his concern about the matter. “It is worrying that Muslims here don’t seem to have any difficulties financing the project, receiving aid from Muslim organizations abroad. Those organizations might want to increase the influence of Islam in Iceland, as well as in other countries.” Instead of a mosque, Ólafur suggests a temple of the Nordic gods to be built in the plot. “Such a cultural gem would bring joy to the majority of the city’s residents, as well as other Icelanders, and wouldn’t be as out of place as a mosque would."
© The Reykjavik Grapevine

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Sweden: fall in number of hate crime reports

9/7/2013- Hate crime reports in Sweden have fallen by six per cent in the past five years, according to the Criminal Prevention Council, Brottsforebyggande Radet (Bra). The agency’s Carina Djarv said that they are not exactly sure why there has been a fall, but it could be down to a number of factors. She explained that looking at recent attitude surveys shows tolerance towards immigrants and homosexuals has increased over the past 5-10 years. The report splits hate crimes into six categories relating to motive of the crime, and the majority, 72 per cent, are connected to racism. Meanwhile, 13 per cent are linked to homophobic, heterophobic or biphobic motives. However, overall, offences related to sexual orientation have dropped the most, by 32 per cent. Ms Djarv said although there have been some reports that Islamophobic or anti-Semitic crimes are on the up, they are not statistically significant. She noted that there have also been reports of a ‘dramatic’ rise in anti-Roma and anti-African hate crimes too since 2008.

The statistics reveal reports of hate crimes related to people of Roma and African descent have gone up by 21 per cent and 24 per cent respectively. Djarv said more research must be carried out in order to see if hate crimes have really fallen in society, and not only taking into accounts the reports on the issue. She noted that another determining factor could be the fact the issue has been more of a priority for the police in recent years. She explained that the police have done a lot of work in recent years to work towards reducing the number of hate crimes, pointing out that they have cooperated with groups like the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL). She noted that this is more likely to lead to more reports because the police are better trained to spot such incidences.
© Ice News

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9/7/2013- The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) today published its fourth report on Finland. ECRI’s Chair, Ms Eva Smith, welcomed positive developments, but regretted that a number of concerns persisted. For example, immigrants still suffer discrimination in various fields including employment and the Aliens’ Act contains discriminatory provisions. Criminal law punishing offences motivated by “race”, colour, ethnic or national origin, religion and beliefs was improved; a Discrimination Monitoring Group was established to gather information on the efforts to combat discrimination; the national policy on Roma was published; and the residence period required for acquiring citizenship was reduced.

However, risk of racial profiling of visible minorities by the police remains; the National Discrimination Tribunal does not award compensation to victims of discrimination nor deals with cases of discrimination in employment or immigration matters; a shortage of human and financial resources affects the efficiency of the Ombudsman of Minorities and the Advisory Board for Ethnic Relations. In its report, ECRI has made a number of recommendations to the authorities, among which the following three require priority implementation and will be revisited by ECRI in two years’ time:

To expand the Ombudsman for Minorities’ field of activity and resources to combat discrimination on grounds of colour, language, religion or “race”;
To extend the scope of the National Discrimination Tribunal’s mandate in immigration matters and multiple discrimination;
To improve monitoring of racist acts, in particular concerning the follow-up given to them by the judiciary and the police.

The report is available here. It was prepared following ECRI’s contact visit to Finland in February-March 2012 [Press Release – 13.03.2012] and takes account of developments up to 22 June 2012.
© The Council of Europe - ECRI

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9/7/2013- The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) today published its fourth report on Portugal. ECRI’s Chair, Ms Eva Smith, said that, despite positive developments, there were issues of concern. For example, the racial discrimination complaints procedure continues to be lengthy and complicated and the principle of sharing the burden of proof is not applied. Portugal has taken steps to combat racial discrimination and eliminate stereotypes in the media; Roma socio-cultural mediators have been appointed to town halls with the aim of improving Roma communities’ access to services and promoting communication; a Second Plan for Immigrant Integration has been adopted; integration services are provided by three national and numerous local immigrant support centres around the country; negative decisions on asylum can be challenged in the administrative courts with automatic suspensive effect.

However, there is no criminal law provision expressly making racist motivation an aggravating circumstance for all offences; the High Commission for Immigration and Intercultural Dialogue does not have investigation powers nor the right to initiate and participate in court proceedings; a large number of Roma continue to live in barracks, shacks or tents, in isolated areas often lacking basic infrastructure and some Roma settlements have had walls built around them.

In its report, ECRI has made a number of recommendations to the authorities, among which the following three require priority implementation and will be revisited by ECRI in two years’ time:

To put in place a system of collection of data indicating whether particular groups may be disadvantaged or discriminated against on the basis of “race”, ethnicity, religion or membership of Roma or other vulnerable communities;
To simplify and speed up procedures following the lodging of complaints with the High Commission for Immigration and Intercultural Dialogue and consider ways in which the principle of sharing the burden of proof could be put into effect;
To eliminate all walls and other barriers segregating Roma communities.

The report, including Government observations, is available here. It was prepared following ECRI’s contact visit to Portugal in September 2012 and takes account of developments up to 6 December 2012
© The Council of Europe - ECRI

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9/7/2013- The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) today published its fourth report on San Marino. ECRI’s Chair, Ms Eva Smith, said that, while there are positive developments, some issues of concern remain, including the legislation on citizenship and the absence of a comprehensive civil and administrative legal framework aimed at combating racial discrimination in all fields of life. Society in San Marino continues to believe in dialogue and tolerance. The Criminal Code contains new provisions against discrimination based on race, ethnic origin, religion and sexual orientation. The system of residence and “stay permits” has been reviewed extending the maximum length of “stay permits” for foreign workers.

However, citizenship continues to be granted only by means of extraordinary laws, which each time may provide for different requirements to fulfil, procedure to follow and deadline to respect; the fact of compulsorily interrupting one month per year the work contract of private carers is particularly disadvantageous for this category of foreign workers; San Marino still lacks an independent body to combat racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance at national level.

In its report, ECRI has made a number of recommendations to the authorities, among which the following two require priority implementation and will be revisited by ECRI in two years’ time:

To establish an independent body specialised in combating racism and racial discrimination;
To revise the legislation on stay and work permits for foreigner private carers so as to reduce their precariousness of employment.

The report is available here. It was prepared following ECRI’s contact visit to San Marino in March 2012 [Press release of 13 March 2012] and takes account of developments up to 5 December 2012.
© The Council of Europe - ECRI

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Police-reported hate crime in Canada, 2011

11/7/2013- The composition of Canada’s population continues to change and is becoming increasingly diverse. In 2011, 19% of Canadians were members of a visible minority, up from 16% in 2006.1 By 2011, 38% of the population of Canada’s three largest cities (Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver) were visible minorities. The number of reported same-sex couple families also increased in 2011, up 42% from 2006. The proportion of people who reported religious affiliations other than Christianity has also grown, with 7.2% of the Canadian population affiliating as Muslim, Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist in 2011 compared to 4.9% in 2001. The Jewish population has remained stable at 1%.

In a diverse society, the potential can arise for acts of discrimination between individuals or groups (Chongatera 2013). When a criminal act is motivated by hate, it is considered a hate crime. Hate crimes can be either violent or non-violent in nature, and affect not only individual victims of the crime, but also the groups targeted. Hate crimes are not only a focus of social concern in Canada, but around the world as well. As a member of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Canada works with other countries to monitor and combat hate crime (ODIHR 2012). In Canada, four specific offences are listed as hate crimes in the Criminal Code: advocating genocide, public incitement of hatred, wilful promotion of hatred, and mischief in relation to religious property. In addition, section 718.2(a)(i) of the Criminal Code allows for increased penalties when sentencing any criminal offence (such as assault or mischief) where there is evidence that the offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hatred toward a particular group.

This report uses data from the 2011 Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting Survey (UCR2), which collects information from police services, to examine police-reported hate crime in Canada. More specifically, this report looks at the number of police-reported hate crime incidents in various jurisdictions as well as the characteristics of these incidents, victims, and those accused of these crimes. For the survey, a hate crime is defined as a criminal offence committed against a person or property, where there is evidence that the offence was motivated by hate, based on the victim’s race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or any other similar factor.

Information on hate crimes is subject to reporting behaviour. The number of incidents actually reported to police as hate crimes may be influenced by public awareness and concern, as well as special hate crime initiatives and policies among police services. This report looks only at police-reported hate crimes, which likely underestimate the true extent of hate crime of various types. According to the 2009 General Social Survey on Victimization (GSS), for example, about one-third of respondents who said they had been victims of hate-motivated incidents reported the incidents to the police (Dauvergne and Brennan 2011).
© Statistics Canada

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Police-reported hate crimes down in 2011, but full picture incomplete (Canada)

11/7/2013- Police-reported hate crimes declined across the country for a second consecutive year, according to figures released by Statistics Canada on Thursday, but experts cautioned against taking the numbers at face value. The data agency used information from police services collected in 2011 to track hate crimes — criminal acts motivated by hate which can be violent or non-violent. In total, 1,332 hate crimes were reported or 3.9 hate crimes per 100,000 members of the population — a rate 5 per cent lower than in 2010. Ontario accounted for just over half of all police-reported hate crimes in 2011, with three cities in the province's south holding the highest rates.

While some might wonder how the retirement haven of Peterborough, Ont., ranked highest, one observer said the figures might signal that the city's residents were among the best at reporting hate crimes. "Clearly there's differences in the willingness of Canadians to report hate crimes. I think where we may need more research is along that dimension," said Vic Satzewich, a sociology professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, a city that ranked second when it came to hate crime percentages. "The high rate for Hamilton and Peterborough is not necessarily a bad news story, I think ironically it could be a good thing."

Satzewich, who has studied race, ethnicity and policing, said he was surprised cities like Thunder Bay, Ont., Edmonton and Regina didn't rank higher in terms of the frequency of hate crimes due to anecdotal evidence which has long suggested racism against First Nation populations in those communities. "I actually think it's more of a bad news story for them...Those low numbers I don't think speak well, actually, of victims of hate crimes feeling like they can report these things to the authorities."

Meanwhile, in the cities that ranked higher in terms of hate crimes, Satzewich suggested residents in those communities might feel more comfortable going to police with their concerns. "People feel like the city and the police care about these matters and take them seriously...so they're going to report them." Indeed, Statistics Canada noted that its data on hate crimes was limited by what was reported to authorities, suggesting that the true number of such incidents could be higher. "The number of incidents actually reported to police as hate crimes may be influenced by public awareness and concern, as well as special hate crime initiatives and policies among police services," the agency noted. "This report looks only at police-reported hate crimes, which likely underestimate the true extent of hate crime of various types."

In 2011, three primary motivations — race or ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation — accounted for more than 95 per cent of hate crimes, with race or ethnicity representing more than half of the total. Religious hate crimes comprised 25 per cent, while crimes motivated by sexual orientation made up 18 per cent of the total. While crimes motivated by race or ethnicity continued to be the most common, the amount of them decreased slightly compared to 2010, as did those motivated by religion. There was, however, a 10 per cent increase in crimes based on sexual orientation. That increase could be related to the increasing visibility of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities, suggested an observer. "It could be incidents going up, as LGBT groups are becoming more visible. There could be smaller, more reactionary groups that feel threatened and act out," suggested Carissima Mathen, a criminal law professor at the University of Ottawa.

Overall, the majority of hate crimes reported by police involved non-violent offences; mischief — including vandalism, graffiti and other destruction of property — was the most commonly reported offence. Youth and young adults comprised the majority of those accused of hate crimes and were also overrepresented among hate crime victims. Analysing reports like the data released on Thursday should factor into a long-term approach to studying hate crimes in Canada, said Mathen, who warned against drawing quick conclusions from the figures. "Our society is undergoing and continues to undergo quite profound changes. That kind of change reveals itself over a longer period of time, over decades," she said. "The byproduct of that is something that needs to be assessed in a longer term way."
© The Edmonton Journal

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German children suffer Eastbourne racist attack (UK)

An attack on a group of German children in Eastbourne is being treated as a hate crime, Sussex Police said.

12/7/2013- The group of five students aged between 11 and 14 was attacked as they got off a bus at The Rising, Langney, at about 22:15 BST on Thursday. The group was chased by the man who shouting racist abuse at the three boys and two girls. He was described as a white teenager, of slim build, with short brown hair and wearing dark clothing. One of the boys was punched in the face and ear, another slapped in the face and the third boy struck in the back. The two girls in the group were not assaulted. Police said they believed the attacker recognised the victims as German because the bus they got off was marked Jurgen Matthes Student Organisation. The language school brings international students to Eastbourne to learn English. Any witnesses are asked to contact Sussex Police.
© BBC News

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Vandals target Scottish mosque (UK)

11/7/2013- Witnesses are being sought after a Scottish mosque was vandalised with offensive graffiti at the start of Ramadan. Police are appealing for information after "Muslims will perish by JC" was daubed at the Fife Islamic Centre in Kirkcaldy. Several cars were also damaged by red paint. Mohammed Aslan, the chairman of the centre, said: "This is the first time that anything like this has happened to us in the more than five years that we have been in Kirkcaldy and hopefully it won't happen again. "It is not very nice and will cost hundreds of pounds to fix."

Kirkcaldy Area chief inspector Gordon Mitchell said: "This is a terrible crime and I appeal to anyone who has any information about it to contact Police Scotland on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. "People can also speak to officers who are patrolling the area. "Police Scotland treats all hate crime with the upmost seriousness. "I encourage anyone who is the victim of a hate crime to contact us so we can deal with it as swiftly as possible." A number of recent attacks on mosques in the UK have been linked to the alleged murder of Drummer Lee Rigby by two Muslim extremists in London, but police are unaware of the motivation behind this case. Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron has announced Friday's funeral of Mr Rigby would be a "very fitting service".
© The Herald Scotland

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Tipton mosque blast was 'terrorist attack', say police (UK)

12/7/2013- An explosion which left nails and debris strewn outside a mosque was "an act of terrorism", police have said. The blast happened on a disused railway line near Binfield Street in Tipton in the West Midlands at about 13:00 BST. A nearby shopkeeper said: "I did tell the police there to evacuate the area, please for god's sake - there were nails all over the place." Counter terrorism officers were called in and the surrounding area was closed off for several hours.

'Tipton Taliban' tag
The mosque is the central place of worship for Tipton's long-established Muslim community. The area was in the headlines in 2002 when three men from the town were captured in Afghanistan and taken to Guantanamo Bay. Ruhal Ahmed, Asif Iqbal, both 22 at the time, and 26-year-old Shafiq Rasul were dubbed the "Tipton Taliban" and were held at the US camp in Cuba for two years. Shopkeeper Sadarat Khan said he was coming out of a local chemist when he heard a "bomb blast". "They [the police] didn't seem to be bothered too much... It took them about 40 minutes to evacuate the place," he said. "People were terrified and very scared and shaken." BBC reporters at the scene were told prayers at the mosque were usually held at 13:00, but had been moved back an hour because of Ramadan.

Resident Raja Khan was about 50m away when he heard the blast and said a device was found on a wall on the disused railway line at the back of the mosque. He said: "A few kids came out shouting, 'bomb, bomb'. There were branches that came off trees all over the place." He said he went to the mosque fearing there would be casualties. "If it had been when prayers were going on there would've been 300 to 400 people there. There were about 22 to 25 people I think at the time. "People are terrified for their kids, myself included."

Asst Ch Con Gareth Cann said whoever was responsible "wanted to cause serious harm". "I can't say for sure it was directed at the mosque, but from what we've seen this seems to be the most likely option," he said. Minor damage was caused to a window of a nearby house, he said. A counter terrorism investigation has been started, the force confirmed. It is understood the explosion centred on an embankment near a disused rail line running behind the mosque. In a joint statement, the board of trustees and management committee of the Kanz Ul Iman Masjid mosque said: "We express our deep shock and utter dismay regarding the incident that has occurred this afternoon. "On behalf of the local community, we condemn this senseless and mindless act. It's a blessing from God that thankfully no-one was injured in the blast.

'Day of funeral'
"We call for calm and strongly urge the community not to let this incident divide us and cause disharmony. "We stand united, stand together in the aftermath of this mindless act." Police lifted most of their cordons at about 21:00 BST but said Binfield Street was likely to remain closed overnight on Friday. Officers gave bottles of water to residents with young children who gathered along Dudley Port in Tipton during the afternoon. Local councillor Ian Jones said he was "very shocked" by what had happened. He told BBC WM it could not "go unnoticed" that the incident happened on the same day of the funeral of Fusilier Lee Rigby, who was killed in Woolwich in May.

Councillor Syeda Amina Khatun said she was not aware of any previous attacks on the mosque. "The whole estate has been blocked off. People are surprised that something like this has happened," she said. West Midlands Police are still investigating an explosion which occurred near a mosque in Caldmore in Walsall last month. About 150 people were evacuated from homes near the Aisha Mosque and Islamic Centre after a device was found in a nearby alley. Mr Cann told the media there was nothing to suggest a link between this incident and what occurred in Tipton.
© BBC News

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Newcastle Division's Lee Patrick wants to gas Muslims (UK)

10/7/2013- If you are having a look around EDL Facebook groups you are never very far from a fully paid up neo Nazi. This week we are outing Lee Patrick from the English Defence League's Newcastle Division. He posts on their Facebook group regulary and occasionaly on the Sunderland Division's group. 26 year old Patrick is a self employed painter and decorator so we are sure anyone Googling him would like to be aware of his vile views especially when the Houghton le Springs based racist wants to round Muslims up and gas them. Not having the balls to put himself on the front line and sign up for the British Army, Patrick likes to dress up as soldiers and post pictures of himself with guns. He makes himself look particularly stupid due to the fact that they are air guns which does not make him look that 'hard' at all.

Tragically, Patrick has a five year old daughter who he teaches to make Nazi salutes and pose with guns. Newcastle social services have been informed as have Northumbria police. On brighter note, social services will be investigating whether this little girl is being groomed into far right extremism and Northumbria Police will no doubt want to check out the legitimacy of his gun and knife armory. If you are thinking of leaving this idiot alone in your house to paint your ceiling, think again. If you have children in the house, think again. 
© EDL News

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Hate crime 'invisible' in Wales

11/7/2013- A disability group is warning that hate crime is 'invisible' in Wales and more needs to be done to address the problem. The Disability Hate Crime Action Group Cymru says that disabled people are often victims of attacks, theft and bullying and the incidents often go un-noticed due to under reporting. Almost 2,000 hate crimes were reported to police in Wales between 2011 and 2012 and today sees the launch of the Welsh Government's plans to tackle the issue. Communities minister Jeff Cuthbert is visiting Cantonian High School in Cardiff to launch a consultation on the forthcoming hate crime framework and meeting with students who are taking part in the Mencap Cymru Inspire me project.
© ITV

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Harpenden Town Council condemn 'fake' Gypsy site notice (UK)

A fake planning notice with details of a proposed 200-pitch Gypsy site has been condemned by the local council.

9/7/2013- The notice was put on a fence around the former Westfield Road allotments in Harpenden, Hertfordshire - land being considered for development. It warned that under plans for Roma Gypsies, residents' parking would be limited and trenches would be used until toilets could be built on site. Mayor Rosemary Farmer said: "It was a very inappropriate joke in poor taste." "It was put up where there are a number of elderly residents, who could potentially have been very worried by it, if they hadn't realised it was a spoof," she added.

No logos
The notice, which appeared over the weekend in Beeching Close, was headed "Planning Application Site Notice" but did not have any official council logos. It said the area had been allocated for use as a residential site for Eastern European Roma Gypsies and entry to and from the area would be via Beeching Close and Willoughby Road. It read: "Residents are therefore requested to limit the hours that they park their private vehicles to allow access to this area. "Toilet facilities for the the site will be installed in the future; but in the initial stages of occupation slit trench facilities will be provided." It also claimed stand pipes would be erected for clean water and animals such as donkeys, dogs, pigs and horses would be allowed, but "limited to one per family".

'Promoting tensions'
Joseph Jones, spokesperson for the Gypsy Council, said the "inappropriate" sign showed a lack of respect. "In a way it shows how the whole gypsy traveller lack of accommodation is being manipulated by people to promote tensions in the community," he said. "I don't know what the motive was of the person that did it, but it does highlight how gypsies and travellers are often used as a political football." Mrs Farmer says the council is currently considering the sale of the site for affordable housing and for use by the charity Harpenden Mencap for residential accommodation and a children's unit. Those against the land's development have expressed concern that protected Roman Snails had been found there - but the council said there was "no evidence of any colonisation" on the site. The mayor said they had "absolutely no idea" who had posted the notice but when the council was made aware of its existence, it was immediately removed.
© BBC News

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Right-wing extremists launch bid to revive Fascist party (UK)

7/7/2013- A sinister new group of right-wing extremists is trying to revive Oswald Mosley’s notorious British Union of Fascists party. Calling themselves the 21st Century Blackshirts, members look up to former Smethwick MP and Nazi sympathiser Mosley as their spiritual leader. In the 1930s Mosley’s British Union of Fascists aligned itself with Nazi Germany and Italian dictator Benito Mussolini while its paramilitary footsoldiers, dubbed the Blackshirts, terrorised Britain’s Jews. Now far-right defectors from groups like the British National Party and English Defence League have resurrected the party re-labelling it the New British Union party (NBU) Set up in January, the party has named 54 “officers” from across Britain on its web page which has already had more than 50,000 hits. A Sunday Mercury investigation has discovered that its top two Midland representatives are former soldiers while other district officers in the region include failed local election candidates for the British National Party.

Others have links to the English Defence League including the party’s Gloucestershire Divisional Officer Clive Cerrone who is currently awaiting trial accused of setting fire to a local mosque last month. The party website also lists representatives in 11 nations including the US, Australia, Italy and Poland. One banner on the site reads: “Some people are fascist. Get over it.” It adds: “New British Union. 21st Century Blackshirts Marching On For Britain.” Members are encouraged to dress in paramilitary blackshirt style uniforms, like the type worn by fascist Mussolini’s private army during his authoritarian rule. Their site — which shows Mosley’s fanatical followers performing the stiff-armed fascist salute — boasts: “This will be an historic occasion, the first official Blackshirt meeting to be held since the Second World War, heralding the return of a registered fascist political party in Britain.”

The NBU lists its Birmingham Divisional Officer as former RAF Gulf and Kosovo war veteran Ian Starks, who was the unsuccessful BNP candidate for Sheldon Heath in last year’s local elections. The 45-year-old, from Sheldon, Birmingham, lists Paganism and Wicca as pastimes on his Facebook page.

The party’s West Bromwich officer Jennifer Howells has also stood for election under the BNP banner in local government elections. She sought to represent Sandwell in 2010.
And its Worcestershire officer Brian Meaker, who strikes a menacing pose handcuffed in an Gutanamo Bay style orange jumpsuit, is a life-time member of the BNP.
The NBU’s latest recruit is its Walsall officer Matthew Moloney, a 35-year-old dad-of-two and former soldier with the Royal Monmouthshire engineers regiment. He claims to be a carpenter for Birmingham City Council, but a council spokesman said he was not directly employed.

The BNP has tried to distance itself from the fascist party saying it was a “nondescript sideshow.” Deputy BNP leader Simon Darby said: “We don’t condone or have official links with any other parties and I think you’ll find such splinter groups rise and then break up very quickly.” A key NBU member is former ‘Policies Officer’ Matthew Gill, a charity worker and Doctor Who fan, who heads the Warwickshire chapter. On the NBU website an article on immigration in Gill’s name reads: “There are those who will say there is nothing wrong with massive Third World immigration so long as they learn the language, adapt to the local culture and so on. This presupposes that the human being can be intentionally colour blind.” Gill’s blog posting adds: “The truth, of course, is that even if a Kenyan can speak perfect English, even if he wears English clothes, uses English slang and attends the C of E, none of that makes him English!”

The party claims not to be racist or anti-semitic but a careful look at its constitution reveals a bitter hatred of multiculturalism and non-white immigrants. Its immigration policy states that immigrants “... must be prepared to totally leave their past nationality behind them. Racially and ethnically they must be compatible with the majority population where they wish to settle. “This does not mean being exactly the same, but that they are at least similar enough that their assimilation will be smooth, and have no negative effects on the native population. “The same goes for religious beliefs. They must be the same as the majority or at least similar enough so as to have no problem adopting the established values and moral code of the nation.” “Differences cause problems and excessive diversity leads to nothing but trouble.” It adds: “Freedom of religion would not be absolute. All ties with the former homeland of the immigrant will be cut. “Multiculturalism does not work and only ruins all cultures involved.”

The party takes a bizarre stance on education policies simply stating: “One goes to school to learn, not play and not have subsidized orgies.” Gerry Gable, from anti-fascist magazine Searchlight said that the NBU was a sinister organisation with many members claiming to be Pagans or followers of Satanic and Wiccan cults. He said: “Mosley was a Nazi sympathiser and he eventually changed the name of his party to reflect Hitler’s influence and called it the British Union of Fascists and National Socialists. “This new incarnation of his notorious Blackshirts is clearly attracting the dregs from other far-right groups but I don’t think it will survive.” Gary Fiennes-Hastings, editor of far-right monitor website EDL News added: “Time and time again groups try and reform the fascist ideology but this country has a long and proud tradition for fighting fascism. “We must never forget that our grandparents and great grandparents gave their lives fighting the ideology that these people are promoting.”

The Sunday Mercury has contacted each of the Midland members identified as NBU members to ask them to comment on their views. But each one directed us to their head office. Last night Gary Raikes, NBU founder – who has taken on Mosley’s preferred title of Leader and signs off his correspondence with ‘Hail Britannia’ – told the Sunday Mercury that he was in favour of racial segregation. He said: “We do not imply that only people from Caucasian Christian origin would be welcome to the UK, we state that whatever their racial origin it would be better if they settled in areas that are made up in the majority of that origin, black, white or whatever. “Officers can belong to whichever political party they wish at this time. “We have no official links to either EDL or BNP, both failed movements, in our opinion, and have nothing to offer British Fascism.”

Moseley - A Man Captivated With Italian Dictator Mussolini
Sir Oswald Mosley was born into an aristocratic family in 1896 and grew up in Staffordshire before serving as a Labour MP for Smethwick in the 1920s. In January 1932 he visited Benito Mussolini and was so captivated with the Italian dictator and his National Fascist Party that later that year he founded his own British Union of Fascists, BUF. In 1938 Mussolini passed laws barring Jews from universities and many professions and later when Germany occupied parts of the country, more than 7,000 Jews were deported to Nazi concentration camps, with many dying at Auschwitz. Mosley returned to England to organise marches policed by his paramilitary Blackshirts and the government was sufficiently concerned to pass the Public Order Act 1936, which banned political uniforms and quasi-military style organisations.

An MI5 report from a British Union of Fascists rally in the 1930s revealed: “The significant feature was to express determination to defeat the enemy (The Jew) if not by the ballot box then by other and more drastic means, a sentiment cheered to the echo.” In May 1940 the BUF was banned by the Government, effectively killing off the movement, and Mosley was interned for most of the rest of the war. On his release an undeterred Mosley continued to campaign on an anti-immigration platform, calling for forced repatriation of Caribbean immigrants as well as a prohibition upon mixed marriages. His papers are housed at the University of Birmingham’s Special Collections.

Police Alerted to Mosque Threats
Police are investigating a Midland man after the Sunday Mercury alerted officers to threats he made against local mosques. Peugeot worker John Molloy, from Coventry, told followers on the English Defence League Facebook website that he would “guarantee a few will get bombed tonight” just days after the Woolwich terror attack last month. He went on to urge people to “Take to the streets” in support of English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson after he was arrested. Robinson has been released on police bail after he was arrested on suspicion of obstructing police in London. Mr Molloy, from Wyken, could not be contacted for comment last night. A West Midlands Police spokesman said: “ The Force Intelligence Department will assess the content of the files you have sent to us and take any appropriate action.”
© The Birmingham Mail.

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Headlines 5 July, 2013

Polish Jewish leader protests handling of anti-Semitism cases

5/7/2013- The president of Poland’s Jewish community is protesting two recent decisions by Polish prosecutors not to pursue investigations of anti-Semitic incidents. In April, a prosecutor in Bialystok declined to launch an investigation of anti-Semitic graffiti because, he said, the swastika is considered a symbol of good luck in Asia and therefore is not unambiguously fascist. More recently, prosecutors in Kielce dropped an investigation into anti-Semitic slurs against a local businessman who was called a “Jewish scoundrel” online. Prosecutors decided that the term was used in a sarcastic and satirical manner. In both cases, Polish authorities overturned the initial decisions and investigations of the incidents are proceeding.

Piotr Kadlcik, the president of the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland, said the prosecutors’ reactions to the incidents were worrisome. “On behalf of the Polish Jewish community, I am deeply concerned about the recent decisions of the prosecutors of Bialystok and Kielce on anti-Semitic hate speech and fascist symbols,” Kadlcik said. “These decisions are part of sad and disturbing cancellations, failures or refusals to initiate proceedings connected to racist or anti-Jewish offenses.” Kadlcik also drew attention to the recent defacement of a monument in Jedwabne, the site of a 1941 pogrom in which several hundred Jews were killed, and the Jewish cemetery in Wysokie Mazowieckie. Both investigations failed to result in arrests. “I object to sending a signal by the prosecutors with permission to offend and threaten with the symbolism of extermination a particular people and community,” Kadlcik said.
© JTA News

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Islamophobia in the Netherlands

4/7/2013- Ineke van der Valk is a researcher who specializes in racism, extremism, ethnic relations and diversity in multicultural societies. She holds degrees in Educational Studies and Ethnic Studies and a Ph-D in Discourse Studies from the University of Amsterdam.She obtained her doctorate focusing on the interplay between social sciences and discourse analysis with a comparative study of the perception of ethnic issues in the political discourse of the Netherlands and France, paying special attention to the extreme right. The title of the thesis was: Difference, Deviance, Threat. Before she worked as a senior researcher in the Research Department of the Anne Frank House, Monitor Racism & Extremism project where she studied processes of (de)radicalisation of right-wing extremists, Islamic extremism and Islamophobia. She also worked at the University of Amsterdam, where she participated in a joint research project with the University of Vienna on racism in European countries. She was a community worker and human rights activist in the 70-ies and 80-ies. She has published on issues relating to racism, right wing and jihadi extremism, political radicalisation, representation of ethnic issues in politics and the media, citizenship and integration, the post-war history of immigrants in the Netherlands, human rights in Morocco and intercultural education.

Islamophobia in the Netherlands is a book she published in 2012. It examines the history of the terms "Islamophobia" and "racism" and explores the impact of rethoric by politicians, incitement on the internet and other media. In particular attacks on mosques. 
© Ineke van der Valk

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Position of LGBT population in Serbia "improves"

The legal standing of the LGBT population in Serbia improved in 2012, Lesbian Human Right Organization Labris has said.

4/7/2013- The group presented its annual report to state that in the area of rights, 2012 was marked by introduction of binding aggravating circumstances for the pronouncement of verdicts in hate crimes inspired by discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. Pointing out that at a joint proposition of the Lawyers' Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM) and the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA), a hate crime is now defined just like any other crime described in the Criminal Procedure Code, program coordinator Jovanka Todorović said that this point will exert long-term effects on the reduction of intolerance and violence in the Serbian society.

The Labris representative listed as positive examples the two court rulings which she qualified as historic because of the influence these should exert on the legal position and everyday life of the LGBT community in Serbia. Official of the Serbian Government Office for Human and Minority Rights Borjana Peruničić noted that the planned Pride Parade was not held last year due to security reasons, which was qualified in the report as violation of the right to freedom of assembly and helplessness before hooligans. Peruničić expressed the hope that the Pride Parade would be held in September this year.

Equality Commissioner Nevena Petrušić stated that five percent of complaints filed to her office covered instances when the rights of LGBT population were brought in jeopardy, adding that such proceedings rank as top priorities in the agenda. This is the eighth annual report issued by Labris and it points to certain progress, Petrušić said.
© B92.

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Need for the immediate investigation of homophobic, sexist and racist motives behind two attacks (Cyprus)

4/7/2013- KISA – Action for Equality, Support, Antiracism notes with concern the need for the immediate investigation of homophobic and racist motives behind two recent attacks, which led to abuses in villages in the District of Limassol.

The first incident involves the savage attack against a homosexual couple of EU citizens by some 10 Cypriot men. During the assault, the attackers beat the couple, while shouting homophobic insults. The couple reported the incident to the local police station on the same day. While the police have brought charges to three persons for assault and causing grievous bodily harm, they have not investigated the possible racist and homophobic motives of the crime. At the same time, the couple, as they informed KISA, asked and insist for the prosecution of all the perpetrators but the police advised them not to insist on the prosecution of all those who participated in the attack and to testify only against the three perpetrators charged.

The second incident involves the brutal attack against a family of European citizens by a group of 20-30 Cypriot men and underage youths, led by family members of a local village dignitary. During the attack, which took place outside the assaulted family’s house, the attackers beat three family members, while shouting xenophobic insults and racist threats. Prior to the incident, one of the attackers, who belongs to the close family of a local dignitary, had sexually harassed a woman of the family attacked. Police officers from the local police station arrived at the place of the attack, took relevant testimonies and then took the injured people to Limassol General Hospital. Subsequently, the police called two suspects to the local police station for questioning and charged them for causing unrest and disorder. The same charges, however, were also brought against the victims of the assault because the attackers claimed that they had been attacked by the family dog, which was left unattended.

Nevertheless, as in this case too, the police do not seem to even consider the possible racially motives behind the crime. Indeed, as also reported to KISA, while their complaints referred to an attack by a group of Cypriot villagers and the individuals attacked had confirmed they could identify the attackers, the police claimed that the information provided corroborated the identification of only two individuals and could not support the case for a group assault. Furthermore, the police are not investigating the alleged sexual harassment of the woman of the said family, which preceded the attack and we do not know if it is even officially recorded.

KISA finds it unacceptable that so far the police investigation seems to follow a practice of equating victims and perpetrators, on the one hand, while, on the other, a policy of denial of investing homophobic and racist motives in these cases. Of more concern is the fact that the non-investigation of racist, homophobic, sexist and xenophobic motives is a common police practice, despite the fact that the police maintain a recording mechanism of at least racist crimes. KISA wants to point out the urgent need for training of police officers in the assessment, recording and investigation of racist, homophobic, sexist and xenophobic motivation in crimes committed against persons and the effective implementation of the Law on Combating Certain Forms and Expressions of Racism and Xenophobia through the Penal Law of 2011, a law that does not seem to have been implemented so far. KISA calls the Police to investigate even now any homophobic, sexist and / or racist motives behind these criminal offences, and on the Attorney General of the Republic of Cyprus to proceed with the prosecution of all perpetrators.

Lastly, KISA calls on all competent authorities of Cyprus to show zero tolerance to xenophobia, intolerance, racism, homophobia and discrimination in general and to proceed directly to the formulation of a comprehensive immigration policy, which will be based on the principles of equality, justice, solidarity and anti-racism.
© KISA

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Police on racial riots: "We couldn't see it coming" (Czech Rep.)

2/7/2013- Czech police said that it was not possible to prevent the racial riots that shocked the capital of the South Bohemian Region on Saturday 29 June. The organizers of the two competing demonstrations allegedly complied with all requirements of the law on assembly and did not give any indication that their events could turn violent. "Similar meetings can be banned in advance, but such a ban must comply with the law on assembly. We monitored Facebook, the communication between the organizers, we consulted with experts, but we did not get a single piece of information indicating that the meeting would not be peaceful," said police officer Martin Soucek. Some 40 people were detained after the street battles in the 100,000 inhabitant city, seven have been charged with a criminal offense, the rest are accused of a misdemeanor. Several of the arrested are also suspected of extremism.

South Bohemia police officer Radomir Herman said that the Saturday demonstration that turned violent was called in response to an incident from June 21, in which two children and eventually several adults fought in a playground in a socially-excluded area in Ceske Budejovice's Maj residential district, a place of frequent racial tension. A meeting of members of the local Roma community and their sympathizers took place in the Maj neighborhood, while some 500 far-right protesters from Ceske Budejovice and other Czech cities met in Premysl Otakar II Square. After the latter demonstration ended at 5 PM, some of its participants moved to Maj where they clashed with police. Police had to use rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades to disperse them. "I consider the (police) action a clear and demonstrable success," said Herman, explaining that his men managed to separate the two warring groups. Soucek also said that the mere fact that the far-right demonstration moved from its original place was not a sufficient reason to intervene for the police forces.
© Czech News

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Czech mayor blames police tactics in clash with neo-Nazi protesters

The mayor of a Czech Republic city that saw weekend clashes between right-wing extremists and Roma residents has blamed the police for not acting sooner.

2/7/2013- The mayor of a Czech Republic city says police reacted too slowly to head off weekend clashes between right-wing extremists and Roma residents.
Mayor Juraj Thoma of the south Bohemia city of Ceske Budejovice said the Saturday street battles in which 30 people were arrested and 10 treated for minor injuries could have been prevented if police had cut off a group of extremists who separated from a permitted event in the city center and marched into a Roma-dominated housing project. When asked Sunday by Czech Radio why police let the right-wing protesters reach a neighborhood where Roma were holding a peaceful assembly of their own, Thoma said it was a choice they made over which he had no control. "I told the police they had to pick up the protesters long before they reached the settlement," he said. "But this is a question for the police, why they chose this tactic."

The clashes came after several hundred right-wing demonstrators gathered in the city's Ottokar II Square Saturday night chanting racist slogans. A group of them then left the square and headed to the Maj settlement on the outskirts of the city, home to 22,000 Roma residents, the broadcaster reported. After the marchers reached the site, police deployed tear gas and smoke grenades to prevent them from directly engaging with the residents, who were holding their own sanctioned assembly to denounce what they called official indifference following a racially motivated fight between five women at a playground, the broadcaster said. The clashes happened in a narrow street between prefabricated houses and cars, with extremists throwing Molotov cocktails, stones and broken glass. Trash containers were overturned and some were burned while some cars were also damaged.

About 100 riot police, together with dogs and an anti-conflict team, tried to dissuade the attackers. The mayor said it was obvious the right-wing protesters were looking for trouble long before they reached the Maj settlement. "I said yesterday that, given that the marching crowd shouted 'Heil Hitler,' were raising their right hands and shouting Nazi slogans, police should have picked them up in the city center. "Police chose this method. They decided to do it primarily to prevent the extreme right-wing guerrillas from clashing in direct physical conflict with the Roma." Despite the weekend's hostilities, Thoma said the clashes were an isolated event sparked by out-of-town extremists who came to the city from across the country after a call was sent out through social media. "They boasted on social networks to come to Czech Budejovice and fight with 'the cops and gypsies,'" he said. "They literally described it that way on Facebook. The whole event was triggered primarily by people who came from outside and who just came to Ceske Budejovice to fight."

Roma residents, however, blamed the city for not addressing the problems of the sometimes violent discrimination aimed at them. When everyone has scattered, next week the threats, blackmail, theft and assault will start again," one unidentified Roma resident told Czech Radio. "Every day. Our children cannot play on the playground. Unfortunately, our council and our city does not do anything about it."
© United Press International

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Czech Rep.: Neo-Nazis attempt pogrom on Roma, commit arson, nine injured, 28 arrests

29/6/2013- Roughly 200 people, most of them Romani, gathered after 13:00 CET today at the Máj housing estate in České Budějovice where the assembly and cultural program "Čikhatar Het/Z bahna ven II" ("Out of the Mud II") was held by the Konexe civic association together with the local Romani community. The gathering was in response to an anti-Romani demonstration that started at 16:00 CET on Přemysl Otakar II Square and was attended by about 500 people. The demonstrators headed for the Máj housing estate, where they attempted to attack the peaceful Romani assembly. Police intervened against them there.

Both gatherings were in response to an incident during which several children, their parents, and other unrelated adults got into conflict at a local playground. Several people were injured as a result of the clash between ethnic Czechs and Romani residents. A pregnant woman was one of those injured. It is not yet clear who started the conflict or how, because police have not yet publicized the exact causes and circumstances of the incident. "Our assembly is in support of the local Czech-Romani community of neighbors, to improve relations between them. We announced it to the town hall on Monday," Miroslav Brož of Konexe previously told news server Romea.cz. "We preventatively announced our reservation of the streets at the Máj housing estate so the march could not proceed there, as it might involve violence. We are organizing a peaceful action," Markus Pape also told news server Deník.cz on behalf of Konexe.

The predominantly Romani people attending the assembly pointed out that the situation at the housing estate might improve if Romani people were also members of the police patrols in the neighborhood. Several speeches were made at the event, which included musical performances and singing. The neo-Nazi gathering began at 16:00 on Přemysl Otakar II Square. About 200 people were on the square even before it started. By 16:30 the number of people had risen to about 500. Several small groups of right-wing extremists were among those assembled. On the square, the Baroque-era Samson's fountain became an improvised podium. News server Deník.cz reported that those speaking complained of a "double standard" in society and chanted racist slogans.

News server iDNES.cz reported that those on the square then said they wanted to go deliver a "message" to the Máj housing estate and end their gathering there. Small groups of hardcore right-wing extremists at the protest obviously were a potential problem. Last week similar groups wreaked havoc in the town of Duchcov, assaulting police officers with bottles and rocks. The marchers in České Budějovice were shouting racist and xenophobic slogans such as "black swine". Even though the demonstrators had not previously announced to authorities that they would march on the Máj housing estate, police did not intervene against the protesters when they set out from the square. Right-wing extremists with their faces covered made it all the way to Máj at about 5:30.

The marchers began throwing glass bottles and explosives at the Romani people gathered there. They set a garbage container on fire and a car caught fire as well. Police intervened against them at the housing estate using tear gas. The right-wing extremists fought back, injuring a police officer and also a passer-by who was struck by a rock. Just after 6 PM about 50 aggressive neo-Nazis were still on J. Bendy Street at the corner of Dubenská Street attacking the police with rocks. Police managed to split the right-wing extremists up into several smaller groups and calmed the situation for a moment. However, the neo-Nazis then regrouped on Antonín Barcal Street and resumed their rock-throwing at police. At the same time, housing estate residents were out doing their best to re-park their cars to keep them from being struck by the neo-Nazis' rocks.

"A police vehicle with a broken windshield is driving around, there will evidently be more damage and injuries," a reporter for news server Deník.cz described the war zone scene in České Budějovice. Officers attempted to push the mob back away from the housing estate by using stun grenades. Rumors began to spread at that time that police had started to make some of their first arrests among the demonstrators. Police spokesperson Lenka Holická was at the scene and told the Czech News Agency that she had not yet been informed of any arrests. As of this writing, the situation at the housing estate is still rather unpredictable. "Our assembly ended before 17:00. What is happening in the streets of the town has nothing to do with our activities and we cannot influence it in any way," Michal Choura, the convener of today's demonstration, told the Czech News Agency. Just before 20:00 CET, police announced they had arrested 28 people and were now evaluating how many had committed misdemeanors and how many had committed felonies. News server Romea.cz has been informed that nine people were injured during today's violence, two of them police officers.

Protest preparations underway for more than a week
Immediately after the playground incident at the Máj housing estate, a Facebook page was created called "Protest Actions against Inadaptable Citizens", the current cover term for all the anti-Romani actions being planned. The administrators of that page estimated between 700 - 800 demonstrators would attend today's protest. Organizer Michael Choura also informed the public about it earlier this week. "We invited the mayor of České Budějovice to Saturday's event when we visited him. In his view, however, we are exaggerating the situation around the Máj housing estate," Choura said earlier.

The housing estate is part of a locality where a high number of socially vulnerable families and individuals live. A large proportion of them are people from the Romani community. "[Last] Friday's conflict is simply the result of bad policy on the part of the municipality, the region, and the state. The economic and social situations of many people are truly desperate, and everyone is burying their head in the sand about it," former town councilor Marie Paukejová, who has long lived at the Máj housing estate, said previously.

The housing estate is the largest in the town, accommodating roughly one-fifth of its total population, and is one of many localities where no one wants to buy property. Real estate agencies report that the cost of real estate there is significantly lower than in any other part of town. At the start of the 1990s, people were moved to the Máj housing estate after the lucrative buildings in the town center where they had been living were privatized, some of them through restitution. "I am concerned that these conflicts will increase. I just hope blood doesn't start flowing," Paukejová said earlier this week.
© Romea.

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Veiled woman beaten in a bus in Paris, the police arrests the victim (France)

4/7/2013- Ms Lamia is a professionnal caregiver, she daily takes care of elderly people. On June 30 2013, at 6 pm, Lamia takes the bus like any other night to go to work. When an elderly woman gets on the bus, Miss Lamia naturally gives away her seat, but the lady refuses and violently invectives Lamia about her headscarf. Follows a stormy debate: "Dirty Arab, go back to your country, you should read the Koran ..." screams the lady. As she is about to get off the bus to go to work, Ms Lamia faces once again the aggressiveness of the old lady. She thinks Lamia is following her, so she shoves Lamia who, this time, replies. At that moment, a tall man comes to Miss Lamia and violently slaps her. She clings to him to hold him while calling for help. It took the intervention of a few people to stop him. Requested by Lamia, the police arrives on the scene and, instead of arresting the aggressor, decides to put Miss Lamia in custody.

Like the recent cases in Argenteuil, the victim becomes the suspect and, in this case, is actually arrested. As it is a veiled woman, treatment and investigations take a specific twist. Miss Lamia finds herself in custody until the next day... for being polite by offering her seat to an elderly person, while her attacker is left free. It is at this point that the CCIF is alerted by the family of the victim, and the lawyer. The videotapes of the bus are then seized, the police is aware that the victim is being supported, and yet a dozen policemen go to Miss Lamia’s home to arrest her again. During her testimony as well as during her detention, Ms. Lamia is intimidated by the police, and uses in a disproportionate way its resources against a young woman who is yet, as shown vividly on the video, the true victim in this case.

Victim of a lady with a racist and islamophobic behavior who verbally assaulted her and then physically shoved her, just because she wears a headscarf.
Victim of a man who violently slapped her in the face, without being questionned by the police.
Victim of the bus driver and the bus compagny, who are supposed to ensure the safety of passengers, and never tried to rescue the young woman in this altercation.
Victim of indifference, even hostility, from onlookers who got involved very late, even though Lamia has already been hit.
Victim of the police, who started to intimidate the victim at the very beginning of this case, sending a dozen officers at her home, scaring her parents off. Her mother is still in a psychological shock, and actually contacted Miss Lamia’s employer to tell him she was in custody, risking to damage her work reputation.

It took effective action of a lawyer, in good terms with the family of the victim and the CCIF, to release the young woman, whom we will support until the end of this case. The authorities, once they saw the video, immediately ordered her release. From the beginning of this case, the young Lamia showed determination and unwavering dignity, as well as her family. They are determined to lead this case to its conclusion by requiring the truth and by requiring that all of those who tried to minimize the seriousness of this case be heavily penalized. How can we understand the role of the police in this case, and the repeated attempts to intimidate the victim? The research focuses now on the aggressor whose name is close to a political figure.
© The Committee against Islamophobia in France

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Anti-Muslim acts rising in France, rights group says

Anti-Muslim attacks and insults have risen steadily in France in recent years as some politicians and media increasingly present Islam as a problem for French society, a Muslim rights group said on Wednesday.

3/7/2013- Hostility rises when Islam is in the news, for example last year when an Islamist killed seven people or when a politician accused Muslim children of stealing classmates' snacks, the Committee against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) said. The CCIF welcomed a European Parliament decision on Tuesday to lift the legal immunity of far-right leader Marine Le Pen so she can be tried on racism charges for comparing Muslims praying in the streets here to the wartime Nazi occupation of France. The group said in its annual report (French) that anti-Muslim acts rose to 469 last year, after 298 in 2011 and 188 in 2010. The rise reflected trends cited by other recent reports that also noted increasing levels of anti-Semitism and racism in France.

CCIF President Samy Debah said Le Pen and other politicians were making anti-Muslim rhetoric commonplace. France's estimated five million Muslims form the largest Islamic minority in Europe but are poorly represented in politics and business. "There is a link between the political discourse and the rise of these violent acts and discrimination against the Muslim community," Debah told a news conference. The CCIF report said anti-Muslim acts were increasingly aimed against people, especially women, rather than institutions such as mosques, cemeteries and shops. Attacks against mosques had almost doubled to 40 in 2012 compared with 2011, it said.

"Vector of Islamophobia"
The report called France's civil service "one of the principal vectors of Islamophobia" because it said bureaucrats often over-interpreted official secularist policies to wrongly refuse to serve Muslim women wearing headscarves. By law, civil servants and girls in state schools are barred from wearing headscarves, but adults using a public service are not. The report said some officials, though, refused to conduct a civil wedding or issue documents if the woman concerned covered her hair. Debah said the CCIF hoped an investigating magistrate would now order Le Pen to stand trial for the comments about Muslims praying in the streets, which happens when small mosques overflow with worshippers, especially on Islamic feast days. This briefly closes some streets in large cities, which prompted Le Pen to describe it as an occupation in 2010. She used her immunity as a European Parliament deputy to avoid answering a summons to meet an investigating magistrate.

"I stand by my words and I'll defend them in court," she told BFM television after the parliament voted to lift her immunity at the request of the snubbed magistrate. Her far-right National Front party ranks almost equal in polls with the main opposition UMP party, whose leader Jean-Francois Cope raised a storm last year by saying Muslim children stole chocolate pastries from non-Muslim classmates to keep them from eating at school during Ramadan. The National Front has also gained ground as high unemployment and an embarrassing scandal sap support for the governing Socialists. Le Pen's argument that she is being harassed by political opponents has proved popular with her supporters. If found guilty of inciting racial hatred, she would face a maximum penalty of one year in jail and 45,000 euros in fines.
© Reuters

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Marine Le Pen expected to face charges for incitement to racial hatred (France)

French far-right leader's immunity is lifted after vote by European parliament

2/7/2013- Marine Le Pen, the leader of France's far-right Front National, is expected to face charges of incitement to racial hatred in France after the European parliament voted to lift her parliamentary immunity. The French state prosecutor in Lyon had asked the European parliament to lift Le Pen's protection from prosecution as an MEP so she could face charges over a speech in 2010 in which she likened Muslim street prayers to the Nazi occupation of France. The case threatens to upset Le Pen's careful public relations strategy since taking over the party from her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen. She had sought to project a modern, more palatable face of the far-right in France, free from the type of comments about the second world war and Holocaust denial that resulted in her father being convicted of contesting crimes against humanity. Marine Le Pen, who has been an MEP since 2004, this week called herself a dissident who was being pursued for political reasons for a "crime of opinion" and said she stood by her comments.

In December 2010 during her party's internal leadership campaign she made a speech in Lyon that denounced Muslims holding prayers in the streets, at a time when a lack of mosques in France had forced many to pray outside. She likened the outside prayers to an occupation and added: "For those who like to talk about world war two, to talk about occupation, we could talk about, for once, the occupation of our territory. There are no armoured vehicles, no soldiers, but it is an occupation all the same, and it weighs on people." Previously she had said of street prayers: "Very clearly, like in 1940, some think that they can behave in France in 2010 like an occupying army in a conquered country." On Monday on French TV she repeated her comments about occupation, saying she was being targeted "for having dared to say what all French people think, that street prayers – which I must add continue to happen on French territory – are an occupation". But she did not explicitly evoke the second world war parallel.

The Front National is currently at a high in the opinion polls, after a strong score in a byelection in Villeneuve-sur-Lot in south-west France, where the party knocked out the Socialists and scored 46% of the vote in the final round. A recent poll for YouGov about voting intentions in the European parliament elections next year put the Front National on 18%, one point behind the traditional rightwing UMP and ahead of the Socialist party. The party is hoping for gains in the French local elections next year. After the European parliament stripped Le Pen's immunity with a show of hands by members, the Front National said it was a sign of the "growing fear of the oligarchy" faced with "the irresistible rise in power" of the far-right party in France. Members of the European parliament have immunity from criminal and civil liability for opinions expressed as part of their duty, although immunity had been lifted in a number of cases previously.

Le Pen said she had been targeted because she was a "political adversary" and vowed to defend herself. She suggested she was proud of losing immunity, which was like getting a "medal pinned to my jacket". If found guilty of inciting racial hatred, Le Pen would face a maximum penalty of a year in prison and a €45,000 fine.
© The Guardian

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Islamophobia assaults in Argenteuil (France)

Islamophobic aggressions in Argenteuil”, “Islamophobia kills in Argenteuil”, “Muslim women molested in Argenteuil”, etc. Within a few days, the current events of Argenteuil, a French suburb of Paris, became headlines and spread all over social networks, Muslim dedicated websites, associations or organizations.

Argenteuil was indeed the scene of three violent and islamophobic muggings of assumed Muslim young women (all of them wearing hijab, niqab or jilbab). The first one occurred on May, 20th, when Rabia, seventeen years old, was assaulted by two men, described as skinheads. Three weeks later, on June, 11th, Sofia, a full veiled Muslim (which in France is forbidden since 2011), was the victim of zealous policemen who insulted, humiliated, brutalized, and finally arrested her in front of a crowd of Argenteuil residents. To those of them who tried to interfere and protect Sofia, the policemen replied with flashball shootings and tear-gas grenades. The tension came to its climax when two days later, on June, 13th, Leila, twenty-one, was extremely violently attacked by two men (also described as skinheads). She was insulted, her aggressors tore her veil, cut her hair, and as she was pleading them to stop because she was pregnant, she was kicked in the belly.

During the days that followed the last aggression, the shock and emotion among the French Muslim community was highly vivid, especially when Leila’s lawyer announced her miscarriage. Muslim anonymous, intellectuals, leaders spread the news, share their anger and widespread feelings on the Internet. The main French Islamic organizations (UOIF, CFCM, LFFM, etc.), as well as antiracist and anti-islamophobic associations (CCIF, CRI, PIR, etc.), strongly denounced what happened in Argenteuil as the result of the strong and growing islamophobic climate within the French society and institutions.

But above all, they all pointed one fact : the silence around Argenteuil muggings. And indeed, the events were surrounded by silence. Silence of the media : only the last attack was rapidly mentioned on TV, the local and national press (Le Parisien, Libération, Le Nouvel Observateur, Le Monde) dedicated very few articles on the subject, most of them being factual or doubtful about the truthfulness of the victims’ testimonies. Silence of mainstream antiracist or feminist associations. Caroline Fourest, a columnist who says to be an antiracist and feminist activist, declared that as the victims were attacked because they were Muslims (and not women), we shouldn’t be revolted as feminist but as antiracist only. Silence of most political representatives : no firm condemnation, no straight recognition of the islamophobic nature of the aggressions, a few words for the victims. Only timid and mild reactions (from the Mayor of Argenteuil and the chief Commissioner of police) occurred lately, under the urge and pressure of the local population and associations.

And silence of the French government. Members of the French government didn’t react at all or, if so, they did it several days after the aggressions. Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, Women Rights Secretary and spokeswoman of the government, made no official statement. She expressed her concern on Tweeter. French President François Hollande officially reacted more than ten days after the last aggression. His declaration was a simple address to assert the government’s determination to struggle against racist acts of all kind, including anti-Muslim acts. As for the Home Secretary, the very controversial Manuel Valls he first proposed a meeting with the victims at his Department but didn’t dare to welcome them in person. He finally did because his disrespectful attitude was criticized.

This silence emphasizes a general lack of concern for the Muslim community and a total lack of interest for the question of islamophobia in France. The fact that the victims are Muslim veiled women makes harder to condemn and to protest against, when politics from both left and right wings, mainstream media, antiracist and “feminist” associations created and developed islamophobic feelings among people, supported and promoted anti-Islamic veil campaigns for years (let’s just quote Manuel Valls’ recent statement : “The veil […] remains for me and must remains for the Republic an essential fight”). This generalized silence highlights a double standard policy when it comes to Muslims, and to Muslim veiled women especially. A parallel can be drawn between the Argenteuil islamophobic aggressions and two other affairs that aroused vivid reactions and great general mobilizations all over the country.

The first one, known as the “The affair of the RER D”, is about a so-called antisemitic aggression (of a woman) in a Parisian suburban train that created a general and immediate indignation among media, feminist and antiracist associations, and politics. A few days after, it happened that the woman was a mythomaniac and made up the whole story. Rabia, Sofia and Leila were far from having such concern and support. The second affair is maybe even more meaningful, as it happens at the same moment as the aggressions of Argenteuil. On June, 6th, Clément Méric, an eighteen-years-old left wing and antiracist activist, was beaten to death by two skinheads in Paris. For days, this tragic event was – rightly – commented and deplored by the entire media, associative, and political spheres. Several gatherings were organized by antifascist associations and left wing unions all over the capital in the memory of Clément. Thousands of people came to protest against fascist and extremist organizations and express their concern. A hundred of people only – mostly Muslims – attended the Argenteuil gatherings to support Rabia, Sofia, and Leila.

The manifestations around Clément’s death highlight an unconscious paradox as far as islamophobia is concerned. The day after the last Argenteuil gathering, a certain number of associations and organizations – mostly antiracist and left wing – called for a unitary gathering against fascism and racism, trying to include other victims – of racism, sexism or homophobia – in their claims for justice and equality. These organizations didn’t attend to the Argenteuil gathering against islamophobia, a large majority of them didn’t even denounce the islamophobic nature of the aggressions. They think racism as an epiphenomenon, typical from right and extreme right wings. So they protest against racism and call for justice whereas a lot of them don’t recognize islamophobia as a specific form of racism, and support anti-Islamic veil campaigns that led, for example, to the prohibition of the veil in public schools or the prohibition of full-veil in the public sphere.

Muslims and anti-islamophobia activists are unfortunately used to double standard policy. They are confronted to daily, common, media, political, and institutionalized islamophobia. Nevertheless, the Argenteuil aggressions reveal a deep worrying level of islamophobia. It is noticeable not only in the acts, but also in the general indifference and paradoxal attitudes that surround these events, giving them even more credit, and encouraging the spread of islamophobic speeches and actions.
© The Committee against Islamophobia in France

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50 racist incidents reported in 10 weeks to Immigrant Council (Ireland)

The Immigrant Council of Ireland said that the incidents have all been reported to it since the launch of a major awareness campaign.

1/7/2013- The Immigrant Council of Ireland has said that 50 serious racist incidents were reported to in the 10 weeks since the launch of a major awareness campaign. It has released preliminary figures today, drawing them from both email and telephone contacts with the Council. It says the figures “confirm that racism can take many forms and is taking place in a whole range of locations”.

The initial findings show that the main types of racism are:
Various acts of discrimination: 21 cases or 42 per cent of reports
Verbal harassment: 19 cases or 38 per cent of reports
Property damage: 9 cases or 18 per cent of reports

The main places where people are experiencing racism are:
Accessing government, community and customer services: 14 cases or 28 per cent
On the internet: 9 cases or 18 per cent
At work: 9 cases or 18 per cent

The people coming forward are from a variety of backgrounds:
African: 21 cases or 42 per cent
Asian-Irish: 6 cases or 12 per cent
African-Irish: 3 cases or 6 per cent

Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, said that in the summer they will provide a more detailed analysis, but that “we should be concerned firstly at the level of reports currently being received”. We are responding to an average of five serious incidents a week, while the figure for 2012 was an average of one a week. At first glance this can appear alarming but it is also a sign that barriers which previously prevented people from coming forward are being overcome. Previous research by the Immigrant Council showed that people are often reluctant to report racism for a variety of reasons. These include a fear of being perceived as being a trouble maker, concerns about implications for their status in Ireland and a distrust in the police as a result of past experience in their home country.

Charlton said the council will carry out a more detailed analysis of the figures and “produce findings to contribute to the national discussion on racism”. The Immigrant Council is asking anyone who sees or experiences racism to contact them at stopracism@immigrantcouncil.ie Last week, groups working with minorities due to meet with Oireachtas members said that racism in Ireland is rising, but the Government is doing little to combat it. Shane O’Curry, director of the European Network Against Racism Ireland (ENAR Ireland), described the situation as at “crisis point”, saying that his organisation had seen an “alarming increase” in reports of racism
© The Journal

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Boy Attacked In Sectarian Hate Crime (Northern Ireland)

3/7/2013- A 16-year-old boy has been attacked in a hotel car park in Templepatrick, County Antrim. The police are reported to be treating the attack as a sectarian hate crime. The boy received a fractured cheek bone and had two teeth knocked out by the gang of four men that attacked him. Alliance Antrim Councillor Alan Lawther said: "I am sickened by this sectarian attack. There should be no place in our society for such an incident. "This was a vicious assault carried out by callous individuals who have no regards for the well-being of others."
© Northern Ireland News

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A protest was held outside Wembley police station last week, after CCTV evidence of a brutal attack was ‘lost’ by the police.

4/7/2013- Early in June, a Moroccan man in Willesden, north London, was beaten in an unprovoked violent attack. A car pulled up next to him as he was walking down the street with his friend. Five white men jumped out, punched him to the ground and kicked him repeatedly whilst he was lying prone. As passers-by intervened, the men fled and the victim was hospitalised. Speaking to IRR News, he explained, ‘I was punched in the face, around the eyes, I had injuries from where my head was hit to the floor. I was hit so hard that a tooth broke. It later had to be taken out.’

One of the men who came to his assistance, a local trade unionist Robin Sivapalan, later went round local businesses to see if any CCTV had recorded evidence of the attack. One had recorded the entire incident. Police were then informed of the existence of the evidence and they were told that although the footage would automatically be deleted after a few days, it was at that point retrievable. By the time the police collected it, over a week later, some of it had gone. It was one of a series of errors which local campaigners have described as evidence of a ‘shameful’ disregard for racial violence victims. They claim that the attack was not initially classified as a racist incident, that it took the police nearly a week to contact the victim and that an appeal for information eventually put out by the police had given the wrong time and place of the incident.

Since the demonstration and a subsequent meeting with the police, the attack has been re-classified as a racist incident. The police have now told the local paper that ‘other CCTV enquiries have continued’, but that the victim is ‘unwilling to assist police with our inquiries’. According to Robin Sivapalan, ‘It is a measure of how important they see the issue, how they react to it, which is unsurpsingly unapologetic, blaming of the victim, and shows little promise of changing.’ The victim himself, meanwhile, says he wants ‘justice … not just for me, but so that there is less chance of this happening to anyone else’.
© The Institute of Race Relations

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Prosecutions for Antisemitic Criminal Acts 2003 - 2012 (UK)

1/7/2013- This list shows prosecutions for antisemitic criminal acts. CST hopes that it will encourage victims of antisemitism to report their experience and help press for action against the perpetrators. CST will continue supporting prosecutions against antisemitism and will update this list as required. CST assists the investigation of antisemitic hate crimes and can help support victims through the criminal justice process.

2012
December
Philip Hayes was convicted at Liverpool Magistrates Court of an aggravated public order offence after making antisemitic remarks to a Jewish Member of Parliament. He was fined and ordered to pay court costs.

September
Mark Symington was convicted at Perth Sheriff’s Court in September of making threatening antisemitic phone calls to his former wife during a three day drunken tirade, in which he had threatened to gas her, following their estrangement.

July
Margaret Walker, an elderly BNP supporter, was convicted of distributing anti Jewish and anti-Muslim leaflets at Fareham Magistrates Court and given a non-custodial Anti Social Behaviour Order, in July.
Mohammed Khalifa, 19, Aimen Mohamed, 19, Mohammed Jawad, 21, and Haider Al-Fardan, 21, were convicted of racially motivated attacks against Jews in July, after they had driven through the north London suburb of Golders Green the previous December throwing eggs at passersby and shouting anti-Jewish abuse. The four were all found guilty of religiously aggravated harassment and ordered to pay fines, court costs and compensation.

May
In May, veteran political campaigner Norman Scarth was convicted of racially aggravated harassment at Manchester City Magistrates Court, fined and subjected to a restraining order to prevent him approaching a Jewish judge who lived in Leeds, or any synagogue or Jewish community institution. Although no political extremist, he had subjected the Jewish judge to a campaign of threats following his conviction for other offences.

2011
December
James Casserly
was given a three month conditional discharge and ordered to pay compensation at Hendon Magistrates Court, north London, after pleading guilty to racially abusing a Jewish man standing at a bus stop.
Mohammed Sandia was sentenced to be admonished after his conviction twelve months earlier for inciting hatred against Jews by publishing antisemitic and threatening messages on the comments web page of The Scotsman newspaper. The courts had agreed to a twelve month review of his behaviour after his initial conviction. Scottish law allows a defendant to be admonished, without a custodial sentence, and for this to appear on his criminal record. This significant case led the Scottish First Minister (in effect, the Prime Minister) and Lord Advocate (in effect, head of the criminal justice system) to write to newspaper editors to remind them of their legal responsibilities over the content of their publications, including online.

September
Yacoub Osman, an Egyptian national living in London, was convicted at Blackfriars Crown Court of racially motivated criminal damage after daubing swastikas and antisemitic graffiti on the walls of a train station in Chalk Farm north London. He was given a 12 month community order with 50 hours unpaid work and fined.
Zbignigw Lebek was jailed for a year at Mold Crown Court, north Wales, for shouting antisemitic abuse and making Hitler salutes at an Orthodox Jewish youth working as a volunteer at a local hospital. A police search of his apartment revealed a Nazi flag with a swastika draped over the stairs.
Perry Merchant was convicted of racially aggravated common assault, and given 140 hours of community service and made to pay compensation and court costs, after driving his van in a threatening manner towards two members of Borehamwood Synagogue in Hertfordshire on their way to High Holyday services.
Paul Donnachie was convicted of racially abusing an American Jewish student at St Andrews University. He was sentenced to 150 hours community service and ordered to pay the court’s costs. He was also expelled from the university. The case against his co defendant, Samuel Colchester, was found not proven but he was suspended by the university for a year. Donnachie’s conviction led to demonstrations in his support outside Cupar Sheriff Court in Fife, by members of Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, three of whose leaders had been denied permission to give evidence on his behalf. He subsequently lost his appeal to the Scottish High Court of Justiciary, in May.

July
Edna Beck, an 80 year old woman from Brighton, was given an Anti Social Behaviour Order by the local court after shouting antisemitic abuse at her neighbours.
Taha Osman, an Iraqi Kurd working as a taxi driver in Manchester, was convicted of religiously aggravated harassment after he had shouted antisemitic abuse from his car at parents outside a Jewish school in Manchester. He was given a community order by the court.

June
Richard Brundritt was jailed for a year at St Albans Crown Court for religiously aggravated assault after attacking a supermarket guard, an Orthodox Jew.

May
Aaron Hanson and Liam Martin were convicted of racially aggravated harassment by a Manchester court after having driven around Broughton Park, a largely Jewish suburb of Manchester, shouting abuse. Hanson was given a 12 month community order and fined; Martin a six month community order and fined.

March
William James Hannaford was convicted of aggravated harassment against a Jewish newspaper at the Central Criminal Court London, after he had shouted antisemitic abuse down the paper’s office telephone hundreds of times.

2010
December

Lee Tucker was jailed for a year in December, at Cardiff Crown Court, for threatening to assault four Jews on their way to synagogue having first driven his car at them.

November
Mark Padgett and Karl Bowman were convicted of racially aggravated disorder and other charges in November, after abusing two yeshiva students at a Jewish college in Gateshead.

June
Neo Nazis Trevor Hannington and Michael Heaton were jailed at the Central Criminal Court in June for inciting racial hatred after they had posted numerous messages to the website of the Aryan Strike Force in which they threatened violence against Jews.

March
Clifford Nelson was convicted at Manchester Crown Court in March of racially aggravated harassment at Barnstaple Magistrates Court for daubing anti Jewish and other offensive graffiti on local public buildings.
Dean Parker, Shameem Parker and Barry Clark-Millar were convicted at Salford Crown Court in March of racially aggravated common assault after shouting antisemitic abuse at a group of Jewish children at whom they drove their car.

February
A 17 year old youth who could not be named because of his age, was the first person in the UK to be convicted of inciting racial hatred on YouTube in February after he had posted antisemitic and racist messages.

For 2009 - 2003 go here
© The CST

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HATE AGAINST MUSLIMSIN THE UK 2

'Offensive' graffiti daubed on Cradley Heath Mosque (UK)

Graffiti described by police as "offensive" has been daubed on the wall of a mosque in the Black Country.

2/7/2013- Council workmen removed the writing, which read "EDL never surrender", within hours of its discovery at the Cradley Heath Mosque on Monday. Supt Bas Javid said officers were treating the vandalism as a hate crime. He said that despite what had been written, it did not "necessarily mean that any particular group are responsible for it". He added: "It could be anything from a prank to someone coming in to specially target that mosque." Mr Javid said officers were working with the community to reassure them that police took this "type of graffiti seriously".

'Cowardly act'
He said officers had a good relationship with the mosque and urged anyone with information to come forward. Ajaz Ahmad, from the mosque, said he was informed by police about the graffiti, which was found at the back of the building. He said the local community had "some concerns" following the vandalism but said relationships between all neighbours in the area were "very good". James Morris, the Conservative MP for Halesowen and Rowley Regis, said he was "very disappointed" to hear about the incident, which he called a "cowardly act". He added: "We need to build a strong community in the West Midlands. We need better education in all sections of the community in order to do that." Last week, a mosque being built in Redditch, Worcestershire, was broken into by thieves, who sprayed graffiti, including swastikas, over its walls and windows.
© BBC News

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Police treat dumped pig heads at Muslim family's home as a hate crime (UK)

Police are treating a Muslim family’s complaint that pig heads were dumped at their Bradford home as a hate crime.

1/7/2013- Sophia Ditta posted on her blog how her family found four heads in her garden in the Bolton area of the city. She said: “As a 34-year-old British Asian woman from a Muslim household in Bradford, I am sad to report on the first ever race hate incident that I have personally experienced. “Four pig heads were placed in my garden. I am not scared by this pathetic attempt to offend me because of the religion I was born into. As Muslims, we are not supposed to eat pork. “Those dead pigs in my garden only offended my nose and good sense of hygiene. “On Friday, June 14, my family woke up to go to work and initially discovered two decomposing, maggot infested, gut wrenchingly awful smelling pig heads placed in our garden. One by our front door, and one by our back door.” She said that her father later discovered a further two rotting pigs heads in the bushes in the garden. A West Yorkshire Police spokesman today confirmed officers received a call about the incident at 7.23am on June 14. “It is thought that it happened overnight. It was an address in the Bolton area and is being treated as a hate crime incident,” the spokesman added. “The report was of pigs’ heads found on the doorstep and rear of the building and officers have visited the address and spoken with the victim.
© The Telegraph & Argus

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EDL 'linked to a third' of online anti-Muslim incidents (UK)

The first study of anti-Muslim sentiment in the UK finds that EDL members were linked to a third of online abuse incidents in the past year - and that many anti-Muslim incidents go unreported.

1/7/2013- On the streets they tread a fine line. They're anti-Muslim but chose their words carefully. The mere presence of English Defence League (EDL) flash mobs is enough to induce fear without raising a brick or a baton. But new research by the Centre for Fascist Studies at Teesside University shows the EDL online presence is even more vitriolic and disturbing. It's the first study of anti-Muslim sentiment in the UK and is based on data from the monitoring and helpline charity Tell Mama where victims can report details of abuse either on the streets or online. The data amounts to 584 recorded incidents 

Far-right links
The majority of cases - 434 incidents - were online abuse: 300 were linked to the far-right movement, and 147 of those were linked to the EDL - a third of all online anti-Muslim incidents. The report publishes examples such as: "Hope your mosque has fire insurance Muslim immigrant xxxx. Fried halal ."
"…We don't marry our dad like your muzrats."
"Pakistan factory fires kill at least 261... SUCH A SHAME LOOOOOL"
"You can lead a Muslim to culture but you can't make him think".

Post-Woolwich
The report suggests that there's been a 150 per cent rise in anti-Muslim hate crime in London for the year ending May 2013. That would take in the post-Woolwich events when there was a spike in incidents following the murder of soldier Lee Rigby. Tell Mama recorded an immediate spike post-Woolwich: from an average of 1.5 incidents a day, to six to seven incidents a day. But the authors said further research was needed to establish whether the rate of incidents returned to normal. There is not such a significant link to street abuse: the report found that only one in four incidents are clearly associated with the far-right. They range from placing a pig's head in a garden, graffitti, broken windows and verbal abuse.
© Channel 4 News

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Muslim graves at Christchurch Cemetery, Newport, desecrated by racist vandals (UK)

1/7/2013- Muslim graves at a Newport cemetery have been desecrated with racist graffiti. The vandals used white paint to write "Lee Rigby murder", "white power" and drew swastikas on four gravestones at Christchurch Cemetery. They also wrote the initials of the British National Party (BNP), the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and the National Front (NF). People visiting nearby graves spoke of their disgust and shock at seeing the painted messages, which were still wet this morning. Julie Thomas and her 89-year-old aunt Elfriede Robinson were visiting the grave of Mrs Robinson's husband George nearby. "I think it's absolutely disgusting," said Mrs Thomas, 51, who lives in Christchurch. "These people are dead and gone now, what is the point? It is the ultimate disrespect. What's next? My aunt is quite upset by the swastikas, she is German and has lived here for 60 years."

Paul Burgoyne, 47, his wife Jill, 45, and their 19-year-old daughter Deanna, who were visiting his father Melville's grave, said cemeteries are neutral places. "Political views should stay outside cemeteries because the dead can't answer," said Mr Burgoyne. "This is consecrated ground. You can only see a name on a grave and what's in a name, you don't know their backgrounds." Mrs Burgoyne said: "My husband has French and Irish ancestry, what if they take a dislike to French people? How upset would we be if someone had done that to us?" Marc Collins, his mother Kay and his three-year-old son Olly were on their way to place flowers on the grave of his father Keith Collins when they drove past the vandalised headstones. "It is absolutely disgusting and appalling, and we don't agree with it or condone it," said Mrs Collins, 64. "If the relatives were here I would go up and apologise." Mr Collins, 35, said: "We come here every week and usually there are people at those graves at the same time as us. If it happened to us we would be very angry and upset, and we feel ashamed."

Paul Hemmings, 46, who had driven more than 200 miles from London with his wife to visit his father's grave, said he had never been so angry after seeing the messages. "I am embarrassed to be white and to be British," said Mr Hemmings, who is originally from Newport. "These moronic buffoons ought to be ashamed of themselves. What has religion got to do with absolutely anything? Islamaphobia has gone far too far, you can't be Christian if you are doing this." The group of 15 newly dug graves are in a separate area of the western side of Christchurch Cemetery. Superintendent of Newport cemeteries, Charles Dare, said there are six Muslim plots in St Woolos cemeteries and apart from an incident 20 years ago when the headstones were pushed over, nothing like this has happened before. Newport council's graffiti team were trying to remove the messages when Gwent Police arrived at the scene, around noon yesterday. A police spokesman said: "We are working with the council to get the graffiti removed and contacting the relatives of the graves that have been affected."
© HOPE not Hate

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