ICARE Hate Crime News - Archive May 2014

Headlines 30 May, 2014

Headlines 23 May, 2014

Headlines 16 May, 2014

Headlines 9 May, 2014

Headlines 2 May, 2014

Headlines 30 May, 2014

Greece: Vandals break into Thessaloniki Jewish cemetery

30/5/2014- Vandals broke into the Jewish cemetery in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, causing minor damage. The vandals cut through the fence of the cemetery and, once inside, smashed some vases and ornaments and knocked over several headstones and plaques, David Saltiel, president of the Thessaloniki Jewish community, said Friday. Police had been to the scene and were investigating, he said. The incident comes after the release of an Anti-Defamation League survey showing that Greece has Europe’s highest rate of anti-Semitic attitudes, with 69 percent of Greeks espousing anti-Semitic views. That’s nearly twice the rate as the next highest country, France, where the rate was 37 percent.

Thessaloniki was a vital center of Sephardic Jewry for 450 years following the expulsion from Spain. Known as the “Flower of the Balkans,” it was the center of Ladino culture in the region. Thessaloniki’s Jewish community was largely destroyed in the Holocaust. Most of the city’s 55,000 Jews were deported to death camps, and fewer than 2,000 survived. Its old cemetery was destroyed by the Nazis and now forms part of the land on which the Aristotle University campus was built. Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos condemned the vandalism as a “repulsive act” and a “blatant act of anti-Semitism.” Venizelos promised the Jewish community that the Greek authorities would do their utmost to find and arrest the vandals.
© JTA News

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France: Anti-Semetic fears stirred by brothers' beating

Hours after four people, including a French woman, were gunned down at a Jewish museum in Brussels by a killer who remains on the loose, two brothers were targeted in an apparent anti-Semitic beating near Paris.

26/5/2014- Two brothers were heading to a synagogue on Saturday night in Créteil, in suburban Paris, when two men unleashed a vicious, unprovoked attack on them. As the brothers, 19 and 23 years old, walked around 8.30pm they were reportedly attacked from behind by two North Africans for no apparent reason, other than the fact they were Jewish. One of the brothers said he was certain the attack was motivated by anti-Semitism. “They (the attackers) were saying to each other, ‘hit harder!’ They didn’t even talk to us,” the unnamed victim told Europe 1 radio. “That was when we realized it was an anti-Semitic act. It was solely because we are Jews and we were wearing Kippahs (yarmulkes). Jews in France should beware.”

One of the attackers wielded a knuckleduster (brass knuckles) and the other used his firsts in the assault that left the older brother needing hospital treatment. Just hours before, on Saturday afternoon, four people were shot to death at the Jewish Museum of Belgium in Brussels. The shooter, carrying a Kalashnikov rifle, walked calmly into the museum and opened fire in the reception area. An Israeli couple in their 50s and a French woman were killed almost instantly in the shooting. Moments later the gunman escaped on foot and remains at large. A person detained in connection with the violence is no longer considered a suspect.

“Two years after the savage killings in Toulouse, here is another example of what hate and anti-Semitism can bring,” the European Jewish Congress wrote in a statement. Though France is the home of the third largest Jewish population in the world it has seen a rise in recent years of anti-Semitic attacks. A recent poll found that one in three French people harbor anti-Jewish beliefs, though prominent Jewish experts argued the study had exaggerated the problem. "I don't doubt that anti-Semitism exists in certain categories of the French population, and there is anti-Semitic violence in France, but France is not an anti-Semitic country," Marc Knobel, head of studies at France's Jewish umbrella organization CRIF told The Local.
© The Local - France

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France: Two Men Attacked Leaving Synagogue Outside Paris

Brothers hospitalized in serious condition after assault in suburb of Creteil; attackers fled on foot and bicycle

25/5/2014- Two Jewish men were assaulted Saturday night outside a synagogue in Créteil, a Paris suburb. According to Paris police, the two men, who are brothers, were attacked by two other men, one of whom fled on foot and the other on a bicycle. The two men suffered multiple contusions and were hospitalized and listed in serious but not life-threatening condition, AFP reported. French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, who noted the victims were “of the Jewish faith,” condemned the attack with “utmost severity” on Sunday. On Saturday night, hours after a deadly shooting at the Jewish Museum in Brussels which claimed three lives, including those of two Israeli tourists, Cazeneuve announced that he had instructed authorities to strengthen security at Jewish sites throughout France. Cazeneuve pledged that French authorities would work to fight racism and anti-Semitism and said that police would do their best to apprehend the perpetrators. The attack was condemned by French officials, including President François Hollande.
© AFP

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Jewish museum killing: Gunman in Belgian shooting was caught on film

Police launch manhunt for man who shot dead an Israeli couple and a French woman

25/5/2014- Belgian police released video footage on Sunday of a gunman they are hunting after an attack at a Jewish museum in Brussels that left three people dead, as Jewish leaders called for heightened security following an anti-Semitic attack near a synagogue in Paris. An Israeli couple and a French woman died in the museum attack, which took place on Saturday afternoon in a busy street. A man drove up to the building, walked into the foyer and shot the two Israeli tourists and the French museum attendant in the head and neck before fleeing. A Belgian man was also critically injured in the attack. The shooting took place on the eve of national elections, and police have called on citizens to help identify and apprehend the gunman. One person arrested on Saturday was released without charge.

On Sunday, the authorities published three video clips and two stills from security footage of the incident. They showed a man wearing a blue shirt and baseball cap and carrying two bags walking on a cobbled street near the museum entrance. Another clip showed him entering the foyer, opening a door, then firing into a room with a Kalashnikov assault rifle before calmly walking away. “We call on the whole population to help identify this person,” said Ine Van Wymersch, a deputy prosecutor, adding that police believed the gunman acted alone in a carefully planned assault. While officials have refused to give a definitive motive for the attack while investigations are in progress, both the Interior Minister, Joelle Milquet, and the Foreign Minister, Didier Reynders, have said the location of the shooting suggested it was an anti-Semitic attack. Jewish community groups expressed outrage, with Moshe Kantor, the president of the Brussels-based European Jewish Congress (EJC), saying it was “horrific but not surprising”. He urged governments to do more to share intelligence and enact tough punishments for hate crimes.

“How many more deadly attacks at Jewish institutions does our community need to endure until European governments get serious with a climate of increasing hate towards Jews?” he asked. “It is our basic right as European citizens to go about our daily lives in full security.” As police increased security at Jewish sites across Belgium, France enacted similar measures after two brothers were attacked near a synagogue in Paris. One was punched in the eye with a knuckleduster. The French President, François Hollande, told the news channel I-Tele: “We must do everything to fight against anti-Semitism and racism.” World leaders also sent condolences to the Belgian victims, with David Cameron telling Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo: “We join you in condemning this dreadful attack and will work with you to confront such bigotry across Europe.” The EJC has recorded a rise in anti-Semitic attacks and there has been a surge in support for far-right politicians.

© The Independent

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Belgium: Brussels Jewish Museum shooting leaves 3 dead, 1 injured

Jewish sites receive 'maximum level of protection' after shooting, interior minister says.

24/5/2014- Three people were killed and one seriously injured in a spree of gunfire at the Jewish Museum in Brussels on Saturday, officials said. The attack, which came on the eve of national and European Parliament elections, led officials to raise anti-terror measures. Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo immediately expressed support for the Jewish communi-ty. "All Belgians are united," he said. Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, who was in the vicinity, said the scene "was terrible and left me shocked" as he saw two of the three dead lying at the entry of the museum, located in the swanky Sablon neighbourhood. Reynders added that "you cannot help to think that when we see a Jewish museum, you think of an anti-Semitic act. But the investigation will have to show the causes." Interior Minister Joelle Milquet told reporters that the shooter apparently parked a car outside before entering the Jewish Museum. She added the gunman "apparently fired rather quickly, went outside and left." Brussels Mayor Yvan Mayeur said police had a good lead for a suspect, but refused to elaborate. Milquet said anti-terror measures were immediately heightened. "We decided to apply to a maximum level of protection to Jewish sites," she said.

40,000 Jews live in Belgium
European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor said that, even though it has yet to be established whether the attack was anti-Semitic, "we are acutely aware of the perma-nent threat to Jewish targets in Belgium and across the whole of Europe." "European government must send out a clear message of zero tolerance towards any manifestation of anti-Semitism," Kantor said in a statement. The mid-afternoon attack occurred in the fashionable Sablon area, which was hosting a three-day jazz festival and is usually clogged with tourists and shoppers on weekends. It consists of some cobblestoned streets with numerous antique shops, trendy cafes and museums, including the Jewish Museum. Police cordoned off several streets around the museum with blue-and-white police tape, and numerous ambulances and police vans were at the scene.

Viviane Teitelbaum, a member of the Brussels legislature, said anti-Semitic attacks reached a peak in the early 1980s but had dropped off before a recent rise in anti-Jewish sentiment. "It has been a very difficult place to live" for Jews, she said, adding that many young people are leaving the country. She added some 40,000 Jews live in Belgium, half of whom reside in Brussels. In France, President Francois Hollande condemned the "horrifying killings with the greatest force." In a statement, he expressed France's solidarity with neighbouring Belgium and condolences to the families of victims.
© The Associated Press

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Headlines 23 May, 2014

Sweden's far-right: active, but not effective

Sweden's far-right scene hasn't been this active since the end of World War II, with attacks on mosques on the rise. But, on the whole, Sweden is becoming more open to other cultures.

22/5/2014- The church bells in Jönköping have been ringing for two hours. The last time that happened here was at the start of World War II in 1939. This time, they are meant as a warning against the new right-wing Party of the Swedes, which gathered for a demonstration in the streets of this town in central Sweden at the beginning of May. Fredrik Hollertz, a pastor in Jönköping, is among those who initiated the tolling of the bells. "We see a threat to our open society. The dignity of every single person is in danger as well as the open way we've welcomed people in our country so far." His view isn't unsubstantiated; neo-Nazi groups have never been more active in Sweden, according to a report by the Expo foundation, a research group that focuses on right-wing extremism. Demonstrations are on the rise, and there is increased propaganda on the Internet - as well as more leaflets being handed out. "In 2013, we counted 2,333 activities of this kind, a 30 percent increase compared to last year," Anders Dalsbro, one of the authors of the report, told DW.

Election year
Dalsbro said one of the reasons could be the elections coming up in Sweden this year. In addition to this weekend's European vote, there will also be parliamentary and local elections. "The Party of the Swedes aims to win at least 10 seats at the local elections." Dalsbro added that the right-wing scene is also looking to the Sweden Democrats, the populist party that entered parliament in 2010. Although the Party of the Swedes has distanced itself from the Sweden Democrats - they find the latter too liberal when it comes to immigration - its voters are seen as potential supporters for the Party of the Swedes.

More attacks on mosques
Sweden's Council of Muslims in Stockholm says a study conducted five years ago showed that four out of 10 Islamic communities had been subject to attacks - a trend that is on the rise. On average, there is at least one attack on each of Sweden's larger mosques: Swastikas are painted on the walls, knives and shards of glass placed in postboxes, or pigs' heads dropped on doorsteps. A few months ago in south Stockholm, unknown attackers locked the door to a mosque from the outside, then smashed the windows while worshippers were inside. "It's only a matter of time before people are seriously hurt or even killed," fears Helena Hummasten, of the Stockholm council.

Swedes more open
It seems like a contradiction, but despite the strong presence of the far-right, despite the parliamentary success of a xenophobic party and the rising attacks on mosques and prayer rooms, Swedish society overall is becoming more tolerant towards other cultures. Political scientist Marie Demker, of the University of Gothenburg, indicates that in the last 20 years Swedes have gradually become more open towards a heterogenous society. She says the xenophobic and racist parties and groups, as isolated as they are, have simply become more visible to the public eye. "There has always been a group of people opposed to immigration. What's new is that they now have a party that represents their views," she told DW. In the last few years, the Sweden Democrats have polished their image and tailored their politics, Demker explained. She also said that Swedes usually stand up to right-wing groups, which has been confirmed by recent opinion polls. If those ring true, the Sweden Democrats will only receive 4.1 percent of the vote - not enough to enter the EU parliament.
© The Deutsche Welle.

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Sweden jails extreme leftists for Slovak mix-up

Five extreme-left militants were sentenced to prison on Wednesday for politically motivated and "unfathomable" crimes, after they mistook two Slovak guest workers for Swedish neo-Nazis and attacked them.

21/5/2015- The Stockholm court tried the men for aggravated assault, attempted arson and intimidation. The men denied most of the charges but were found guilty of aggravated assault on two Slovak men in September 2013, whom the accused mistakenly thought were part of a demonstration by Swedish neo-Nazi group Party of the Swedes. "Those charged are not 'ordinary' perpetrators of violence," district court judge Bertil Sundin said in a statement, handing down jail terms ranging from 14 months to two years to the five men aged 19 to 22. Two of the men received suspended sentences. "The crimes would be unfathomable if you did not understand that they were an organized part of the activi-ties of the Revolutionary Front (RF)," added Sundin, referring to the violent group that regularly targets neo-Nazi demonstrations.

During the attack, which the RF filmed, the victims were hit over the head and on the body with bottles, chairs, and a flowerpot. All five accused were ordered to pay fines and compensation to the victims. A 20-year-old accused of having a leading role in the revolutionary group was ordered to pay 69,309 kronor ($10,500) and was sentenced to two years in jail. The court said in its ruling that although the young age of the attackers was taken into consideration, the organized nature of the crimes led to stricter sentences. "We are very unhappy with this judgement and will appeal it," the 20-year-old's lawyer told AFP, adding that there was no proof that the assaults had been planned in advance. "Not in these cases where there was spontaneous violence between Nazis and anti-Nazis during demonstrations. My client has been condemned for crimes he did not commit... He had nothing to do with the violent attack on the second man."

Other members of the group were found guilty of attempted arson and of threatening a suspected Swedish neo-Nazi at home, painting "Nazi swine" on his house and leaving an axe wedged in the door. In recent months, several violent clashes have taken place between neo-Nazis and extreme-left extremists on the margins of street demonstrations in Sweden, leaving several people injured. A 35-year-old man was sentenced to six and a half years in jail last month for stabbing a neo-Nazi activist during clashes in Stockholm at an anti-racism march in December.
© The Local - Sweden

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Macedonian Police Action in Ethnic Riots Queried

As police quell ethnic rioting in the Skopje suburb of Gjorce Petrov, some rights groups have accused them of using excessive force to restore order.

23/5/2014- After two days of violent ethnic protests in the Skopje suburb of Gjorce Petrov, folllowing the murder of a teen by a thief, the situation is now tense but calm. Police patrolling the municipality said they detained several dozen protestors during the riots on Monday and Tuesday and filed criminal charges against five. Police have charged the five with preventing officers from carrying out their duties. If found guilty, they face three months to three years in jail. As traffic in the area returns to normal, the authorities say they are watching closely for any renewed protests. Civil rights groups meanwhile accused the police of using excessive force to quell trouble, and of preventing the media from reporting on what was going on.

The riots started on Monday following the killing of Angel Petkovski, a recent high school graduate, by an ethnic Albanian who stole his bicycle. After the victim and his father gave chase, Petkovski was stabbed to death on catching the thief. Police said the caught the suspect, named as Naser E, shortly afterwards. After the name of the suspect was released - indicating that he was of ethnic Albanian origin - demonstrations erupted in Gjorce Petrov, which later turned violent. The lawyer for the suspect told Albanian-language media on Wednesday that his client acted in self-defence after the victim and his father attacked him. “He told me he was attacked by the victim and his father. He also told me that the knife belonged to the victim,” Rubin Dvojakov was cited as saying.

Since Monday the municipality has practically been under siege. Police on several occasions prevented angry groups of Macedonian protestors from crossing the Vardar River to the nearby Albanian-dominated settlements of Nerezi and Saraj. In the clashes in Gjorce Petrov, several establishments believed to be owned by Albanians as well as cars and other property were attacked and destroyed. CIVIL-Center for Freedom, a prominent NGO based in Skopje, urged people “to refrain from ethnic tensions and leave the institutions do their job according to the law". However, the head of CIVIL, Xhabir Deralla, accused the police of using "excessive force" to arrest demonstrators and of preventing the media from reporting what really happened. "We condemn the excessive use of force used against the protestors during their detention," Deralla said.

The police should have intervened earlier to prevent violent groups from vandalizing property, as social networks had clearly warned that such things would happen, he said. CIVIL, as well as the Journalists' Association of Macedonia, ZNM, also condemned the police conduct against reporters from NOVA TV, Fokus and Radio Free Europe. The reporters said the police seized their equipment and erased their video and photo materials, documenting the events. "We strongly condemn the improper and brutal conduct of police officials... This represents an attack against the freedom of expression and of media," CIVIL said in a statement. The ZNM said the police action violated article 16 of the constitution that prohibits censorship and guarantees freedom of information.

Police on Thursday expressly rejected the journalists' complaints, saying they had never confiscated or erased any recorded video material and photos. Ethnic riots are not new in the country in which a quarter of the 2.1 million population are ethnic Albanians. In 2001, armed conflict erupted between Macedonian security forces and ethnic Albanian insurgents, which ended with the signing of a peace deal that granted greater rights for the Albanians.
© Balkan Insight

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Second Day of Ethnic Riots Hits Macedonian Capital

Police arrest dozens after another day of trouble sparked by the killing of a young Macedonian in a suburb of the capital.

21/5/2014- Dozens of people were arrested and several police officers were injured on Tuesday in a second day of ethnic clashes in the Skopje suburb of Gjorce Petrov connected to Monday’s killing of a young man by an ethnic Albanian robber. The disturbances on Tuesday started when youngsters marched down the main street to the home of the murder victim to light candles. The group then moved towards the mainly ethnic Albanian suburb of Saraj, clashing with police who intervened to prevent clashes with Albanians in the neighbour-hood. Protesters threw stones at the police, smashed shop windows and set on fire garbage containers that they were using as barricades. The protesters were armed with wooden and metal bats. According to police, several police vehicles were damaged. “The riots passed without major damage and the police managed to establish order in Gorce Petrov,” a police spokesman, Ivo Kotevski, said.

Police reportedly told three reporters to delete their recordings of the events and then erased the recordings themselves. The clashes ended around 11 pm. The streets in Gjorce Petrov remained closed for traffic overnight under heavy police presence. The trouble started on Monday after the suspect for the murder of the 18-year-old man was arrested and was reported to be an ethnic Albanian. The victim, known as Angel P, was stabbed to death on Monday afternoon after he caught up with the man who had stolen his bicycle. Police detained the suspect, named as Naser E, soon after. Ethnic Albanians make up a quarter of Macedonia’s population of about 2.1 million and have a history of tense relations with the Macedonian majority. In 2001, the country experienced a brief armed conflict between security forces and Albanian insurgents, which ended with the signing of a peace deal in Ohrid that granted Albanians more rights.

OSCE Calls For Calm
“We are monitoring these developments with increasing concerns”, said the Head of Mission, Ambassador Ralf Breth. “We understand the authorities are investigating this crime, therefore it is crucial to let the investigative and judicial process take its course.” Solidarity with the family of the victim should prevail over violent protests and the regrettable damage to property, stressed Ambassador Breth. “In the recent past the citizens of this country have demonstrated their ability to come together in times of suffering. We appeal to everyone to live up to these values. There should be no collective responsibility by any community for the acts of one individual.”
© Balkan Insight

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The arrest of an ethnic Albanian on suspicion of killing a young Macedonian has raised ethnic tensions and provoked a new outbreak of protests in the capital, Skopje.

20/5/2014- Protests erupted in the Macedonian capital on Monday following the killing of a recent high school graduate in a Skopje suburb after he and his father chased a thief who had stolen a bicycle. Angel P., who was born in 1995, was stabbed to death on Monday afternoon after he succeeded in catching the thief. According to the police, the suspect, named as Naser E., was detained shortly afterwards. After the name of the suspect was made public, indicating that he was of ethnic Albanian origin, demonstrations erupted in the Gjorce Petrov suburb that later turned violent. Protesters overturned garbage containers and blocked the main street in the suburb about eight kilometres west of the city centre.

Police special forces were deployed and reports said that they succeeded in stopping the angry protesters from crossing a bridge and entering the neighbouring Saraj area, which is mostly populated by ethnic Albanians. As rumours circulated during the night that two other people had been involved in the murder and were hiding in Saraj, several shops and restaurants believed to be owned by ethnic Albanians were demolished and one set on fire. The situation calmed after top police officers visited the suburb, and municipality and state officials called for calm. The road into Skopje that runs through Gjorce Petrov was closed on Tuesday morning as well as the street where the demonstrations took place. The murder and protests again raised fears of renewed ethnic violence on the streets. In 2012 and 2013, similar violent protests broke out in Skopje, as well as mob attacks in the streets and on buses that were seen as ethnically motivated.

The news went viral among Macedonian users of Facebook and Twitter, with some social media users expressing ethnic hatred while others called for calm and coexistence. Of Macedonia’s population of about 2.1 million inhabitants, 63 per cent are ethnic Macedonians and 25 per cent are ethnic Albanians. In 2001, the country went through a brief armed conflict between Macedonian security forces and ethnic Albanian insurgents, which ended with the signing of a peace deal that granted greater rights for the Albanians. “It is not the time for criticism but for calls for peace, because this can happen again in the days to come,” one Macedonian wrote on Facebook. “The nationality of a murderer is – murderer,” another said on Twitter.
© Balkan Insight

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Czech annual report on extremism: Anti-Roma sentiment remains the main threat

22/5/2014- Last year extremists in the Czech Republic held 272 events, 135 fewer than in 2012. However, the number of extremist crimes rose from 173 to 211, mainly due to a series of demonstrations linked to socially excluded localities. The main threat for the future remains the possibility of more outbreaks of anti-Romani sentiment. Those are the conclusions of the annual report on extremism during 2013 that the Government has now reviewed. With respect to extremism, last year was particularly notable for anti-Romani protests related to the existence of socially excluded localities, for example, in »eské Budžjovice, Duchcov, and Ostrava. The triggers for these events, allegedly, were incidents between members of the majority society and the Romani minority.

The annual report says 86 people have been charged so far in relation to anti-Romani demonstrations. The report also warns that right-wing extremists held several simultaneous demonstrations on the same day last year in order to fragment the police force. During the protests, the extremists are coordinating their assaults and rioting more and timing them better. Right-wing extremists held 132 events in the Czech Republic last year, 68 of them assemblies and 36 of them concerts. The report also mentions that football radicals and the neo-Nazi scene are merging. The Interior Ministry also reports that left-wing extremists held 140 events last year, 44 assemblies and 26 concerts.

The annual report notes that left-wing extremist actions are moving from the streets into clubs and cultural information centers. Both the left and right extremist scenes are said to be internally divided into various ideological streams. The report also notes that extremists did not represent a threat to democracy in the Czech Republic last year. Compared to 2012, neither the ultra-left nor ultra-right have changed much. The ultra-right continues to be dominated by the Workers' Social Justice Party (Džlnická strana sociální spravedlnosti - DSSS) while anarchists dominate the ultra-left. Police believe the membership base of the right-wing extremists is comprised of about 5 000 people, while the militants among them only number about 150. Roughly one-third of the militants can be considered the foremost activists and leaders. The situation is said to be similar among left-wing extremists, with an absence of leading personalities having been a problem for them for some time.
© Romea.

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Czech Republic: "Hating the Roma won't make your life better"

20/5/2014- The following the story of a man who was brutally beaten because he is Roma, and it is worth publishing for several reasons. As a supervisor, he was responsible for evaluating the work of a colleague, which makes this a fairly banal story - except that he is Romani and the man he supervises is a member of the ultra-right. Not only was that the main reason, the attack took place, but the perpetrator arranged for two other men to commit the crime. This was a "commissioned" beating, in other words. We will be calling the victim "Mr Tibor", as he understandably does not want his real name published. His identity is known to our newsroom, of course. At the end of this article you will find our interview with Mr Tibor. In it he describes his view of the case today, how he feels, what his health is like, and whether there is anything to learn from his experience.

Tibor works as a supervisor. His colleague JiÝí Semjon was bothered by the fact that the person supervising him is Romani. Testimony to the court has established that fact. Semjon first began by complaining about Tibor to his superiors. "Semjon, as a member of the skinhead movement, was unable to deal with the fact that his supervisor was an ethnic Roma. It was humiliating for him. That is why, immediately after I became supervisor, he began complaining that I don't understand anything and did everything he could to get me fired," Tibor tells Romea.cz. Mr Tibor said from the start that Semon's reasons were purely racist. "According to transcripts of his telephone conversations that were played in court, Semjon called some woman to tell her that when he testified about my attack to the police, he did his best to make it not look like a racial attack, but only so he could keep his job," he says.

When Semjon did not succeed in getting rid of Tibor by complaining at work, he decided to have him beaten up. That has been confirmed by the verdict of the Regional Court in Ostrava dated 6 February 2013. "First he complained to their common supervisor about the approach taken by the victim, and when that did not succeed, he decide to proceed in a different way... and because he knew that if he assaulted the victim himself he would be recognized, he decided to ask the co-defendants for help, whom he know to be sympathizers of radical movements," the verdict reads. Semjon agreed with two well-known recidivists that they would "pay [Tibor] back and punch him in the face".

The three perpetrators, all of whom have since been convicted, met in November 2011 in a restaurant. Tomáš Suchánek was asked to perform this service by Semjon, as was another acquaintance of his, who was a juvenile at the time and whose name we will not report. According to the verdict, the whole matter played out as follows: When both of the men agreed to the plan, Semjon took them after 22:00 to the final tram stop where he knew Mr Tibor would be exiting to go home after his shift. He described Tibor to them as an ethnic Roma. When Semjon saw his supervisor get off of the tram, he pointed him out to the assailants. Then he kept his distance.

Both of the brawlers-for-hire followed Tibor to his residence, where, shouting "Kill the black swine", they attacked him. First they threw a plywood door that they found nearby at him and when he was knocked to the ground, they began repeatedly kicking him and beating him with a wooden stake they had found on the way. They kicked and beat Mr Tibor in his head, body and limbs. He called for help, and began to lose consciousness after receiving about 10 - 15 blows to the head. "One of those young guys said to me 'So you're going to call for help?' They were laughing and egging each other on, saying 'Kill the black swine'," Tibor tells Romea.cz. The noise of the attack and the calls and moans of the victim caught the attention of tenants in the surrounding apartments, who shouted threats at the assailants that they were calling the police, forcing them to flee. The perpetrators caused Mr Tibor three lacerations to his head and many bruises to his head, chest, shoulders and arms.

He was incapable of working during November and December of 2011. For at least two to three weeks he was practically unable to properly move due to the pain. During the trial, an expert witness proved that this was not a case of "light" bodily harm, as the defense claimed, stating that the attack was conducted with force that was medium-intensity at a minimum and probably mostly high-intensity, causing one of the lacerations on the victim's head to penetrate to his skull. The expert also said that the attack on the victim's eyes could have resulted in devastating injuries. With respect to the bruising on the victim's right arm, the expert said it later developed a so-called "pocket", which never occurs as a result of low-intensity violence, especially given that the victim was clothed when attacked. After his release home from hospital, Mr Tibor then had to visit a psychiatrist. To this day he is in poor psychological health. "Ever since the attack he has experienced anxiety, panic, a permanent sense of threat when among others, and a need for increased psychopharmaceutical medications," the psychiatrist writes in her report.

The juvenile perpetrator and Suchánek "acted even though they must have been aware due to the intensity of their blows and the nature of the instruments they used that they could cause [Tibor] grievous bodily harm," the judge said. According to the court, Semjon "conspired for others to intentionally harm someone and committed that crime against him because of his ethnicity." The other two perpetrators committed actions that directly led to causing someone grievous bodily harm and did so because of his ethnicity. Semjon was convicted of battery. The court gave him a three-year suspended sentence, with a grace period of five years. He was also ordered not to use alcoholic beverages during his probation. Semjon had previously been convicted four times of either battery or rioting. All of his sentences have been either suspended or took the form of community service work. According to information from the police which was part of the trial, Semjon is an active member of the ultra-right and participates in a radical cell that commits football-spectator violence. He has participated in many ultra-right actions, concerts and marches throughout the territory of the Czech Republic.

The juvenile perpetrator who committed grievous bodily harm also received a three-year suspended sentence with a grace period of three years. The Superior Court reduced that sentence on appeal to two years with the three-year grace period. Just like the other two perpetrators, the juvenile had also been convicted several times before. As for Suchánek, the court said he committed grievous bodily harm and rioting as an accomplice, both of which were felonies he had previously committed. When evaluating the length of his sentence, the court took into consideration that he had been convicted in the past of the exact same crimes. Suchánek got six years without the possibility of parole; an appeals court reduced the sentence to five years and six months. All of the perpetrators must pay Mr Tibor compensation for the harm he has suffered in the amount of CZK 23 874.
Interview with Tibor: Hating the Roma won't make your life better
Q: What in your view is the real reason Semjon had you beaten up?
A: The real reason is the one the court stated in its verdict. I was assaulted because I was a Romani man who became his supervisor. Semjon was unable to accept that, just as he was unable to accept my objections to his work. We can't ignore the fact that those objections, according to witnesses, were never found to have been unjustified. No one but Semjon ever complained about me. I insisted from the start that he was biased against me. From the moment I became his supervisor, it was humiliating and unacceptable to him that a Romani man was evaluating his work. That is why he complained about me to my supervisor, saying I didn't understand anything and that everyone had complaints about me. He was hoping to immediately push me out of the supervisor position, which did not happen. I never did anything to humiliate him, certainly nothing on purpose. I never complained about him to our superiors, even though I had to repeatedly wake him up during working hours. Despite a strict ban on smoking, he smoked there repeatedly, but it never even occurred to me to complain about him. I don't like people who are always complaining and I don't do it myself. I always asked him politely to do things, just like anyone else. I never looked down my nose at him.

Q: How much of a determining factor was it that the perpetrators were advocates of right-wing extremism?
A: I was under the false impression that people would treat me as I treated them. That's a mistake. These fascists, these neo-Nazis, these people with inferiority complexes will always condemn dark-skinned people irrespective of whether they are decent or not. Many of these "nice, peace-loving" Nazis have rich criminal pasts, such that I cannot believe they are all demonstrating for the rights of "decent people" and pointing the finger at all Roma as animals or subhumans. Those guys who almost cost me my life have been repeatedly convicted of violent crimes. Unlike them, I have a clean criminal record and I have never been investigated by the police. I daresay I am an ordinary, respectable person, who has gone to work his whole life for just a few crowns in wages. I live like a civilized, normal person. I have nothing to be ashamed of and I am glad my parents raised me to be who I am. Someone else might have been shaken up by this attack, someone else might have sought revenge, but I will not lower myself to the level of the people who attacked me.

Q: It's been two and a half years since the attack. How do you feel today health-wise, especially psychologically?
A: I feel very bad both physically and psychologically. I am immediately tired, exhausted, without doing any physically demanding work. The physique and the psyche are interconnected. My state of health is not improving. I walk past the place where I was assaulted every day and the memories constantly return. I constantly relive the attack daily, at night I wake up with a closed throat, pain in my chest, sometimes headaches. I often feel bad right when I wake up. I am taking antidepressants and Neurol (Alprazolam). Without Neurol I would never make it to work. The moment I leave the apartment and start walking there, I am constantly tense. I am constantly afraid the attack will be repeated, which makes me skittish, wary, constantly checking out my surroundings. On the way to work, I experience panic attacks, states of anxiety, rather often.

It begins with my heart pounding and tremors. I can't get enough air, I choke, my vision is blurred and I am totally exhausted. My knees buckle and I feel like I am about to die. I do my best to take deep breaths. I immediately take a Neurol, it's the only thing that helps. Sometimes it takes half an hour to pass. These states repeat during the day, at home and at work. I have to take Neurol five times a day. I can't sleep at night. I am impulsive and irritated rather often. I have visited a psychologist six times, it was recommended. She wants me to change my psychiatrist and check into a hospital. Her opinion is that if I don't begin treatment that is different within the next two years, then I will become an invalid who can't leave the apartment. The psychiatrist also recommended hospitalization. What else is there to say? I'm not living, but I am surviving. The medicine I have to take is expensive. This is all thanks to those criminals who call themselves patriots and present themselves as proud Czechs.

Q: How is it at work, were there or are there problems because of this?
A: There are problems on two levels. After the attack, when I was able to work and when it was clear that the organizer of the attack was Semjon, I felt that certain people there hated me. Semjon had begun telling everyone his version of the story, saying that I had maligned him, made his life miserable, and that is why he had me beaten up. Naturally, that is not true, but some of those "stupid sheep" will believe anything, and to this day, that is how they behave toward me. They are not interested in the truth at all. Even if it were true, this is not how conflicts should be resolved, but it doesn't seem strange to them at all. In the end, to some people he is a hero and to some he's a poor guy they feel sorry for because he has been convicted.

One of his friends even said to me one day that "Semjon has to work a 16-hour shift so he can afford to pay your compensation. The poor guy has no money because of you." I couldn't find the words to respond. Another problem is that because of my state of health, I often have problems properly concentrating on my work. I can't concentrate, I have memory loss. Because of the disease I suffer, I am at risk of losing my job. I am aware of this and I am doing everything I can to improve my health so I can begin living like everyone else does. I never had any problems like this before. On the contrary, I looked forward to going to work. I looked forward to every little thing. Now I have no joy of anything. I'm too afraid to go out on the weekend. I have lost some buddies, some friends, because of this. They don't understand what is going on with me. They've never experienced it.

Q: Will you be seeking compensation for personal injury in another lawsuit, a civil one?
A: Yes I will.

Q: What do you believe people could learn from your case?
A: At a minimum, everyone who reads the newspaper, who follows things online or on television, should realize that whenever someone
slings mud at disabled people, at other ethnic groups, at the Roma, etc., they must find out what the real truth is. Not everything you read or see is true! It doesn't matter what someone's religion or skin color is, what matters is how they behave. Start thinking, don't let yourself be constantly influenced by the media, especially the tabloids, which often spread hatred and xenophobia. Stop being so short-sighted. Hating the Roma won't make your life better.
© Romea.

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Northern Ireland: Convicted racist torched house while three Asian men were inside

A convicted racist who torched a house occupied by three Asian men is facing facing a prison term.

22/5/2014- John Hoggan drained petrol from a garden strimmer after getting drunkon vodka and beer, and went out in the night to the home of the men, who lived just minutes' walk from his own address in Alloa, Clackmannanshire. He stuffed a lit, petrol-soaked rag through the letterbox, starting a blaze from which the men only escaped with their lives because one of them woke up by chance and saw the house filling with flames and smoke. A jury heard that jobless Hoggan, 53, had a grudge against 38-year-old immigrant Tara Singh, known as Tony, because his former girlfriend had dumped him for Mr Singh. He was also said to be angry because he had been blamed for breaking a window at Mr Singh's house. He threatened to kill Mr Singh and told one acquaintance "he could see a burn-out coming" referring to Mr Singh, who is Indian, as "a P***" and "a black b******".

The jury, at Stirling Sheriff Court, took less than an hour and a half to find Hoggan guilty by majority, of endangering the men's lives by wilful fireraising, with malice aforethought. Hoggan showed no emotion as Sheriff Wyllie Robertson deferred sentence for reports, and remanded him in custody. He told Hoggan: "You have been found guilty of a offence which, albeit that the racial element has been deleted, remains a very serious one." After the verdict was returned, prosecutor Vicky Bell, depute fiscal, revealed that Hoggan had seven previous convictions, including one from September 2012 for making racist threats to kill Mr Singh. His other previous convictions were for theft, motoring offences, and once from 2001 for unlawful sexual intercourse with a female then 15.

During his four-day trial, jurors heard that Hoggan had talked Mr Singh's girlfriend, Siobhan Hanlon, whom he used to date himself, into going home with him on the night of the fire. Miss Hanlon, 30, who revealed she had learning difficulties, said she sat drinking and smoking with Hoggan and another man, Scott McArthur, 38, at Hoggan's home in Alloa. In the early hours of the morning Hoggan told her "I'm going to get him. I want to get him", referring to Tony Singh. Miss Hanlon said he went to the shed and came back with petrol, which he poured into a vodka bottle. Then he and Mr McArthur put on gloves, took rags, and left, saying they were going to Mr Singh's house, in Earls Court, Alloa, five minutes walk away.

They came back ten to 15 minutes later without the bottle of petrol, or the rags. Her voice breaking, Miss Hanlon said: "John Hoggan said he had been down to Tony's house and tried to light the house up, but it went wrong. He said they had tried to light the petrol, but it had gone wrong." Miss Hanlon said she was "praying they hadn't actually gone through with it", but that evening she saw on the television news that Mr Singh's house had been burned. Mr Singh, a former Alloa shopkeeper presently banned from working due to his immigrant status, told of his fear after waking to find the house, which he shared with the other men, Zubair Yousaf and Jahan Tayyad, filled with smoke. Through an interpreter, he said he had woken up because he needed to go to the bathroom, and heard a smoke alarm going off. He said: "I could see flames in front of me, downstairs, inside the front door. There was a lot of smoke. You couldn't see anything, but you could see the flames."

The three of them went into his room and stayed by an open window while Mr Tayyad phoned the fire brigade. They arrived and extinguished the flames, before a fireman wearing breathing apparatus helped the men downstairs, suffering from the effects of smoke. They were checked over by paramedics but did not need further treatment.ends...
© UTV News

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UK: 'Hate crime arsonists' linked with fire at Birmingham community centre

Fire at Highgate Craft Community Centre destroys office of Ulfah Arts organisation, which works with city's Muslims

22/5/2014- A fire at a Birmingham youth organisation which works with Muslims is being treated by police as a hate crime. The office of Ulfah Arts, at Highgate Craft Community Centre, was destroyed in a fire on Tuesday morning. The blaze came a week after an anti-Islamic DVD was sent to the office of the not-for-profit organisation. It has helped thousands of people gain experience in using radio, film, television and the media to highlight social issues since it was launched 10 years ago in one of the UK's most deprived areas. Ulfah Arts works with young people from all backgrounds but counts a lot of Muslims among its users. It used to work on projects specifically with the Muslim community but has not done so for more than six years, although the projects continue to be referenced on its website. Sarah Javid, a senior volunteer at Ulfah Arts, said: "There's been a lot of hate against us. We work with all communities and I guess somebody out there doesn't like this."

The chief executive, Prashant Singh, who is currently in India, said: "It's a terrible tragedy and lots of very disadvantaged young people have been directly affected. We as a team are still in shock about what happened." The organisation's general manager, Kelly Jones, said it had been receiving hateful and threatening messages not linked to faith or ethnicity for about a year. The DVD that arrived last week contained "horrific material", including pornographic images and profanities against Allah. It was passed to West Midlands police. Jones said tens of thousands of pounds of equipment had been destroyed, including a radio suite, editing equipment, laptops and film equipment, as well as "priceless" projects that young people were working on. Police were treating the incident as arson with intent to endanger life as the fire threatened to spread to residents living in flats above the centre.

Detective Chief Inspector Richard Agar, of Birmingham East police, said: "The motive for the blaze is unknown, however we are aware of a malicious letter sent to the centre earlier this month. We are investigating this as a hate crime and, although apparently unconnected, we will explore any links between the two incidents." Jones said the fire was started in two places and traces of blood had been found, which may provide a clue to the perpetrators. But a police spokeswoman said they would not comment on the details of the investigation. The fire service sent two engines to the property in Highgate Square after receiving a 999 call at 4.52am on Tuesday. The blaze destroyed 50% of Ulfah Arts's first-floor unit in the three-storey building and 60% of the rest of the building was smoke-logged. The incident was declared over by the fire service just after 6am. Ulfah Arts was planning a fundraising drive to replace its equipment. "The great thing is that our young people are upset by it but they want to take action to make things right," Jones said.
© The Guardian

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Police have confirmed they are investigating a hate crime motive after a controversial pastor made a sermon in which he said Islam is satanic.

21/5/2014- Pastor James McConnell told a congregation at Whitewell Tabernacle Metropolitan Church on Sunday that he did not trust Muslims. “People say there are good Muslims in Britain — that may be so — but I don’t trust them,” he said. “Islam is heathen, Islam is satanic, Islam is a doctrine spawned in hell”. Speaking on the BBC’s Stephen Nolan show on Wednesday the Pastor said he stood by his comments, adding that he was raising awareness of the plight of a 27 year-old woman in Sudan who has been sentenced to death for being a Christian and marrying a Christian man, which is illegal in Sharia law as her father was a Muslim. Reaction on Twitter saw members of the public describe the Pastor’s words as “shameful”. “Recent conversations about what ‘Love Thy Neighbour’ looks like in NI today are not helped by Pastor James McConnell recent comments,” said one, while another said: “Pastor James McConnell should reflect deeply on what he is saying today. Perpetuating intolerance and bigotry. Shameful.” Police said they are aware of an incident at premises at the Shore Road on Sunday. A spokesman said: “Enquiries are continuing and at this stage, police are investigating a hate crime motive.”
© The Newsletter

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UK: Teen gets 14 years for stabbing gay man in chest

A teenager has been jailed for stabbing a gay man in the chest, piercing his heart in the process.

20/5/2014- Floyd Evans, 19, of Chester, was charged with the attempted murder and wounding with intent of Francisco Nascimento, who was stabbed in the chest in the City Walls area, a popular cruising ground, on 21 October last year. Police and the judge believed the attack on Mr Nascimento, who works as a cleaner, was homophobic, given the area where it took place. Evans had been drinking on the night of the incident and had taken cocaine in the toilets of a pub. Mr Nascimento spent time in intensive care following the stabbing and required emergency surgery. Evans was convicted by a jury on a charge of intent to wound – but cleared of attempted murder last month. The jury was also told of a 999 call made by Evans less than a year before the incident, in which he threatened to stab police officers and set them alight. Sentencing Evans to 14 years in a Young Offenders Institute, the Recorder of Chester, Judge Elgan Edwards said Mr Nascimento was still deeply affected by his injuries – both mentally and physically.

The Chester Chronicle reports he has been left mentally distraught, suffering anxiety, paranoia and insomnia and is awaiting counselling. He is also reluctant to go swimming, something he did regularly before the attack, because of the scarring on his chest. Judge Edwards told Evans: “It is a terrible thing to see a man of just 19 – only 18 when you committed this crime – standing in the dock. “But your behaviour that night was quite disgraceful. “You were convicted correctly by the jury of wounding with intent to do serious harm. You armed yourself with a knife, wandered round the streets of Chester and found your way deliberately to the Walls at a place you knew well was a meeting point for homosexuals. “I’m quite satisfied this was pre-meditated, homophobic attack – you did not have that knife on you for any other reason. “All this man was doing was talking to his friend but he ended up nearly dead as a result.”

Richard Riley, Senior Crown Prosecutor with Mersey-Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service, said: “We have always believed that Floyd Evans stabbed My Nascimento because he thought he was gay and that Evans went to that part of the city walls that night for that very reason. “Evans is clearly a violent man, quite possibly harbouring sinister feelings towards certain sections of our community. “This was what we describe as a hate crime and the Crown Prosecution Service is determined to bring those responsible to justice. “Mr Nascimento had done nothing wrong on the night he was attacked and it is only because of the swift actions of his friend, a passing police officer, the paramedics and the staff at the Royal Liverpool Hospital that he is still alive today. “We welcome the sentence handed out to Floyd Evans today. He now has several years in prison ahead of him to reflect on the violence and recklessness of his actions on that night.”
© Pink News

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Report: Italy Arrests Four Neo-Nazis Running in Local Elections

Four young men - three of whom candidates for National Socialist party - distributed anti-Semitic propaganda, officials say.

19/5/2014- Four young men who belong to the Italy's National-Socialist party were investigated by Milan's MEDIGUS (Department of General Investigations and Special Operations) division Monday, Kikar HaShabbat reports, for promoting racist and anti-Semitic propaganda. Three of them were running for political office in Terranova dei Passerini, a town 36 miles south of Milan. Authorities in Milan recently ordered several searches at the suspects' homes in relation to the political propaganda, according to the report. Police found and confiscated racist and anti-Semitic material at the scene. The party's website celebrates the birthday of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and praised the memory of Joseph Goebbels; legal authorities are examining whether or not there is enough precedent to ban the party from the elections. A number of anti-Semitic fliers had surfaced in 2013, prompting another investigation into the neo-Nazi group, which had been tracked by authorities since 2002.

Anti-Semitism has become more prominent in Italy over the past several years. Last month, Italy's former premier Silvio Berlusconi made a number of controversial remarks about the Holocaust; he later retracted his statements after an international outcry. Earlier this year, anti-Semites sent boxes containing pigs' heads to the Israeli embassy in Rome and the city's synagogue. The parcels were accompanied by the appearance of fresh graffiti in a Rome suburb, reading "Holocaust fake" and "Anne Frank liar." A 29 year-old man was later arrested for the crime. In 2012 an ADL poll of anti-Semitism found that 43% of Italians, when asked if Jews have too much power in international financial markets, said the statement was "probably true." Likewise, 35% of Italians said at least 3 out of the 4 anti-Semitic stereotypes suggested were "probably true."
© Arutz Sheva

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Headlines 16 May, 2014

Macedonia Accused of Concealing Ethnic Hate Crimes

The Macedonian authorities are ignoring crimes inspired by ethnic hatred, the local Helsinki Committee for Human Rights said in its latest report.

16/5/2014- In its latest report on hate crimes, the Helsinki Committee reported 116 such incidents in 2013, and said the authorities often downplayed them as routine acts of violence. Over 80 per cent of the hate attacks “involved ethnic Macedonians and Albanians”, the report noted. Sexual orientation and gender identity were factors behind another nine per cent of attacks, while religion was a factor or motive in seven per cent. Most of the incidents took place in the capital, Skopje, and in western ethnically-mixed parts of the country, in Tetovo, Gostivar and Struga and Kumanovo. The report noted that 72 per cent of all hate-related incidents took place in Skopje. By contrast, in the ethnically-mixed western town of Debar not one incident was registered.

According to the report, police last year tracked down the perpetrators of only 27 hate-related crimes while only one case, involving one of many attacks on the LGBT centre in Skopje, went to court. “It is worrying that the authorities stay silent about ethnic violence. These crimes are either not reported or the police investigate them improperly,” said the head of the Helsinki Committee, Uranija Pirovska. Pirovska said there was an institutional tendency to camouflage hate crimes as common acts of violence, which are not as severely punished by law. This painted a wrong picture of what was going on, she said.

One example, the committee said, was last week’s incident in Radisani, a suburb near Skopje, predominantly populated by ethnic Macedonians, where two hand grenades were thrown at the home of an ethnic Albanian family. Police officially treated this and a series of other attacks on the same household as ordinary “violence”. The committee marked a sharp spike in hate violence in the two months that followed the March 2013 ethnically-charged protests in Skopje. Around half of all the recorded incidents last year took place at this time, often in angry encounters between ethnic Macedonian and Albanian pupils and students on buses.

In early March 2013, ethnic Macedonian hooligans clashed with riot police in Skopje while protesting against the appointment of Talat Xhaferi, a former ethnic Albanian rebel commander, as defence minister. The next day, clashes escalated when Albanians took to the streets in a counter-protest, alleging they had been targeted by mob attacks. The committe also noted a spike in hate-related violence during April's general and presidential elections when party HQs were attacked, party supporters were beaten up and members of NGOs prevented from monitoring the polls. The European Commission progress report on Macedonia for 2013 noted that the country lacks systematic gathering of data as well as investigations into and indictments for hate-related crimes.
© Balkan Insight

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Attacks on Muslims Reported in East Bosnia Town

The Islamic Community in Tuzla said Muslims in Zvornik, a town in Serb-dominated Republika Srpska, were increasingly the victims of both verbal and physical attacks

16/5/2014- Attacks on Muslims in the eastern Bosnian town of Zvornik have become more frequent, with many reports of verbal and physical abuses, the Islamic Community in Tuzla said on Wednesday. “In the urban area of Zvornik in recent times several incidents were reported, which have disturbed Muslims in the town,” the organisation said in a press release. Some recent incidents reportedly took place in front of the main Rijecanka Mosque in Zvornik where a young Bosniak [Muslim] was allegedly beaten up. Another recent case involved a murder, when a Serb named Nikola Josic apparently killed 81-year-old Ahmed Hasanovic with an axe following an earlier quarrel in public. Josic and Hasanovic allegedly argued after the latter refused to receive Easter eggs - a Serb Orthodox greeting - from Josic. The following morning, Hasanovic was found dead in front of his home in Kozluk, near Zvornik.

The Islamic Community in Tuzla also noted other attacks on Muslims in Zvornik recently. “On May 6, in front of the Rijecanska Mosque, an unknown young man verbally attacked and harassed students of the Behram-bey Madrassa [Islamic high school] from Tuzla who were performong a religious-cultural programme in the Home of Culture,” it said. The same report said the Muslim cemetery in Zvornik's main mosque was recently damaged after eggs were thrown at tombstones. The statement said that the Islamic Community “condemns these incidents which create unrest among Muslims in Zvornik... about their security in their town”. Last year, 73-year-old Nezir Dardagan was among four Muslims attacked by young Serbs in Zvornik while they were on their way to a mosque to pray on the Eid religious holiday. The pensioner suffered facial injuries when three young Serb men attacked the group. They attackers allegedly demanded that the Muslims offer them an Orthodox Christian greeting.

Zvornik is one of several formerly Muslim-dominated towns in eastern Bosnia that saw shocking levels of violence, murder and ethnic cleansing after Bosnian Serb forces overran them during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Only a minority of Muslims have returned to their pre-war homes, as a result of which the eastern towns are now majority-Serbian. “It is worrying that these events [attacks on Muslims] are being repeated at a time when Bosniaks from these areas are remembering their loved ones who suffered in the bloody war and when they will gracefully and peacefully bury the remains of victims from Zvornik,” the Islamic Community said. It urged the authorities in the mainly Serbian entity to prevent further incidents among returnees and assure their security.
© Balkan Insight

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Jewish mother, baby assaulted in Paris (France)

A woman assaulted a Jewish mother and her baby in Paris while shouting anti-Semitic slurs.

15/5/2014- In Tuesday’s incident, the assailant shook the stroller belonging to a 27-year-old mother while her 6-month-old baby was inside, according to the Drancy-based National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA. The mother described the attacker as being in her 50s with a European complexion and features, BNVCA said. The mother said the attacker shouted, “Dirty Jewess, enough with your children already, you Jews have too many children, screw you.” Identified by BNVCA by her initials, A.M., the mother said the assailant continued to hurl insults at her in front of onlookers at the Faubourg Monmartre bus stop in the 9th arrondissement, a district in central Paris.

BNVCA founder Sammy Ghozlan said the mother has filed a complaint with police and can identify her attacker. “We ask police to make all the efforts necessary to identify and arrest the attacker,” Ghozlan said. He added, “The anti-Semitism which persists despite all the measures taken is causing great distress to many Jewish citizens, who are contemplating their future in our country.” In 2013, the SPCJ, the French Jewish community’s watchdog on anti-Semitism, recorded 423 anti-Semitic incidents, a 31 percent decrease from the number recorded the previous year. However, the 2013 level was still higher by 8 percent than the number recorded in 2011.
© JTA News

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Twitter Is Platform of Choice for Anti-Semites as Hate Rises on Social Media

Study Finds 30% Rise — Facebook Gets Better Marks

14/5/2014- Twitter is the “weapon of choice” for bigots and racists, according to a new report on digital hate and intolerance released by the Simon Wiesenthal Center. The center surveyed hateful content on over 30,000 websites and found that online hatred rose more than 30% over the past year. The report also graded top social media platforms on their commitment to removing hateful posts and on whether the prevalence of these posts on their sites is increasing or decreasing. “If the world is going to effectively deal with the growing threat from lone wolf terrorists, the leading social media companies, including Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter must do more,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, assistant dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. But Cooper reserved special criticism for Twitter, which received a D grade in the report. He said Twitter has shown little inclination to work with his center or to seriously address hateful speech and even terrorist activity. “There are terrorist groups that use Twitter to communicate,” he said. “Twitter hasn’t shown us they have an institutional grasp or commitment of the issue, and that needs to change.”

Cooper pointed to the Twitter activity of Al-Shabaab, a Somali terrorist organization, which live-tweeted a horrific September 2013 terrorist attack at a mall in Nairobi, Kenya. Twitter did, however, shut down the Al-Shabaab’s Twitter handle, but the group continually opened new handles – demonstrating one of the many obstacles to restricting hateful speech on the internet. Twitter rules on speech forbid “direct, specific threats of violence against others” but allow “potentially inflammatory content,” so long as it does not violate any other terms of service. Nu Wexler, a spokesman for Twitter, declined to comment on the Wiesenthal Center’s report. Facebook, which earned a B+ in the report, drew praise for its strict rules against offensive speech and aggressive enforcement efforts. But Cooper warned that extremists forced off of Facebook often migrate to lesser-known platforms, like vk.com, a social media platform favored by many Eastern Europeans, which earned an F grade.

Hateful comments posted online often lead to real world consequences, according to Cooper. “We are constantly seeing that lone wolves, bullies, terrorists and other extremists spew their hatred and formulate their plans first online and then carry out their mission offline,” he said. “The recent Kansas City JCC Shooting by Frazier Glenn Miller, which first took root online, is an example of this subculture of hate formed online,” he added, referring to the April 13 attack on Kansas City-area Jewish sites by Miller, a white supremacist and former Ku Klux Klan leader.

The Wiesenthal Center, which works to combat antisemitism and bigotry, has tracked hateful online speech for the past 20 years. Though its researchers found a a 30% rise in hateful comments since its 2013 report, Cooper noted that that number is based on a limited survey and is not meant to be an “ultimately definitive” read of all speech on the internet, which contains hundreds of millions of websites. The center’s report was released May 1 by Cooper in conjunction with Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr.
© The Forward

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Afro-Swede attacked by 15 Nazis

11/5/2014- Late night, Wednesday May 7, 2014, Nazis brutally attacked an Afro-Swedish man at Gullmarsplan in Stockholm. About 15 Nazis attacked the man from behind, assaulting him viciously and tried to stab him with a saw-toothed knife. He was alone on his way home when he was suddenly attacked, without having had any communication with the Nazis. They broke his leg and cut his hand with the knife as he was struggling to fend off the stabs. Forturnately in spite of his injuries, he was able to get on his feet and he was able to flee from the perpetrators. In spite of being in shock, in pain and groggy, after a while he found some police officers and told them about the attack. Instead of calling an ambulance and reporting the attack, the police officers assumed that he was simply drunk, and sat him down on a bus for him to go home. The attack was reported to the police Thursday, May 8.
© Stop Afrophobia

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Hate crime probe: Two men and woman arrested, gun and drugs seized amid east Belfast search(N.Ireland)

Two men and a woman have been arrested in connection with hate crime in Belfast.

13/5/2014- A gun, ammunition and drugs were also found amid searches in the Castlereagh area, in connection with the increase in racist attacks across the city. The arrests were made as part of the PSNI's Operation Reiner. The two men - aged 41 and 43 - and a 41-year-old woman were arrested under the Terrorism Act. They remain in police custody.

Further reading

Polish family's horror at east Belfast racist attack: Woman and son are targeted as home and car damaged by thugs 

More Polish homes targeted by racist thugs in fresh bout of 'ethnic cleansing' by UVF 

We will arrest the yobs over racist attacks, vow police 

 Three arrested in connection with hate crimes across Belfast. Pictured: one house in the east of the city targeted earlier this month





Three arrested in connection with hate crimes across Belfast. Pictured: one house in the east of the city targeted earlier this month





© The Belfast Telegraph
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Northern Ireland:'We need to act now or racism will get worse'

The billboard outside the church on the Giro d'Italia route in east Belfast cut right to the chase in a week of disturbingly contradictory headlines about racing and racism.

10/5/2014- God loves all races', proclaimed the poster outside Stormont Presbyterian Church, but it was clear that not everyone in the east of the city shared the sentiment. For, as some residents prepared to welcome visiting cyclists from 30 different countries, others attacked Polish people who call the city their home. Houses have been attacked and individuals have been stabbed, or beaten with golf clubs, while one Romanian man had faeces thrown at him as he rode his bike through the area. Retired businessman Jerome Mullen, who's the honorary Polish consul in Northern Ireland, has heard all the angry condemnation and earnest promises of support from most – but not all – of the political parties here. But he believes it's time for action rather than just words to get to grips with the renewed surge in hate crimes against the beleaguered Polish community.

Mr Mullen, a 71-year-old past-president of Newry Chamber of Commerce, has spent the last week dealing with the fall-out of three east Belfast attacks on homes in Roslyn Street and a fourth Polish house in Templemore Avenue within sight of the Giro route. And the Co Cavan-born entrepreneur admits he didn't know what he was letting himself in for when he took the consul's role in 2008. Mr Mullen, who 40 years ago set up an organisation to help itinerants in Newry, says he felt an instant empathy with the plight of the Poles, because he'd had once been an emigrant worker in England. He says: "The Poles' problems were far greater than mine, admittedly. Here were people coming to Northern Ireland poverty-stricken and trying to cope with a new country, culture and language."

The consul's workload has expanded out of all recognition, thanks to the onset of racist attacks on the Poles. "At the beginning, it was all about documentation over passports and so on. And the Poles were also losing their jobs at an alarming rate and I had to bring a number of cases to the Equality Commission. "Workers were blatantly discriminated against and were treated in an appalling fashion by a small number of employers, who were exploiting them to the hilt." Mr Mullen still shudders as he remembers how he came across one young Polish man who was kept as a virtual slave by a businessman who refused to pay him for a full year. The problems were in sharp contrast to 2004, when the Poles arrived in Northern Ireland brimming with optimism after the accession of their country to the European Union. Estimates of the number of Poles living here since the dismantling of the EU borders have ranged between 25,000 and 35,000, and it's understood the current figure lies somewhere in the middle with a third of them in Belfast.

The Polish population is twice as big as the next ethnic minority and most of them settled in east Belfast, because houses there were more readily available than anywhere else. "By and large, they have lived quietly and peacefully," says Mr Mullen. But, in 2009, Polish football fans went on the rampage before a game against Northern Ireland in Belfast. Most of the troublemakers had come from Poland, or from England, but it was their fellow countrymen who lived here who paid a price for the thuggish behaviour as retribution was meted out by local people. "We got over that with a lot of hard work," says Mullen. "We set up the Unite Against Hate campaign in the aftermath of the match and it was highly successful, but after three years the funding dried up."

The nightmare of racism has come back to haunt the Poles, however, and Mr Mullen believes the downtown in the economy has played a major part. "It was all right in the boom times. But, as the recession started to bite, there was a 'They're coming to take our jobs' resentment. That was, of course, untrue, because the Poles were doing jobs that the rest of the people here wouldn't take on." Figures released by the PSNI this week revealed that racist attacks are up 30% on last year and a Belfast Telegraph survey showed that at least two hate crimes are reported to police every day. But it's thought that 80% of the violence isn't reported and one community worker says many Poles are too afraid to say anything to anyone.

The police have blamed the UVF for many of the attacks and Mr Mullen met the leader of the Progressive Unionist Party, Billy Hutchinson, last week, but he didn't agree with the PSNI analysis. "He told me he condemned all hate crime, but he believed that some of the attacks were down to local arguments between neighbours, rather than racism," says Mr Mullen, who says he's been more encouraged by talks this week with PUP representatives in east Belfast. They told him they wanted to open up dialogue between Poles and indigenous people to ease tensions over rumours and myths about employment, education and housing. The consul is critical of the response from the main unionist parties. "There is no real leadership coming from them." Only two days ago, deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness accused First Minister Peter Robinson of "cowardice" for not speaking out against the east Belfast violence – a claim denied by the DUP.

On Thursday, Mr Mullen pressed Sinn Fein's junior minister, Jennifer McCann, to support and help fund a new campaign to help drive out the racists and encourage the Poles to stay.
Most of the attacks against the Poles – but not all of them – have been carried out in loyalist areas. And Mr Mullen believes there is an underlying sectarian motive, as well as a more obvious racist one. "The line between racism and sectarianism is a very thin one." he says. "There is a perception that the Poles are Catholics, but if a quarter of them are practising that would be the height of it." One man who knows east Belfast well says: "The recent attacks weren't sanctioned by the UVF. They were carried out by yobs associated with the organisation. "The thugs who attacked the Poles want to vent their hatred on someone and, if they can't get to a Catholic in Short Strand, they will pick on the ethnic communities who live near them." The police have rejected claims from Sinn Fein that they are letting the racists unleash their venom with impunity.

Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr says a dedicated team of detectives which has been set up to investigate the hate crimes will make arrests over the next few weeks and months. Mr Mullen, who has established his own hardship fund to help Poles in distress, hopes he's right. The consul has a huge admiration for the Poles, comparing them to the Irish in temperament, outlook and ethos. "Like us they're a jovial, fun-loving people who work hard," he says. "Employers don't have to look for them in the mornings. If they have to be there at 8am they will be there at 8am. And they won't be taking sick days. Yes, many of them do enjoy a drink, but it rarely affects their work." Mr Mullen and ACC Kerr share a belief that Poles should be valued more for what they have done here.

The consul says: "Few of them come to scrounge off the system. Some of them will claim benefits to which they are entitled, but most of them only want to work." Which is why the Poles are in such big demand from employers here, he says. "There are some companies here who are totally dependent on Polish workers. If they didn't have them and their skills, they would be in trouble." One Belfast businessman has been so impressed by the contribution of his Polish workers that he is contemplating setting up a satellite company in Poland. Not everyone shares that positivity. In east Belfast last month, posters appeared around the area, claiming that outsiders, including Poles, were taking jobs at the expense of skilled local workers. Mr Mullen says he doesn't know if there's a link between the posters and the violence exacted upon the Polish community.

One Pole who doesn't want to be identified says he believes he wasn't singled out for attack because of his work, or his religion, but because of a baser motivation. "They found out that I had bought the house I'd been renting. I think they reckoned I had money and they didn't like the fact that a Pole was doing well. A group of men came into the house and beat me up. My car was also attacked." The man subsequently fled the house and moved to another part of Belfast. Jerome Mullen says he encourages everyone who is attacked to go to the PSNI. "However, this is a community problem. People on the streets know who is behind the violence." Mr Mullen knows that the Poles aren't all saints and he has established a protocol with the PSNI for contacting him if and when they break the law. He says: "I don't get involved with the actual arrests. The law will take its course, but I ensure they have legal representation, if they want it."

He says most Poles hanker after a return to their homeland. Eventually. "Many of them say they will stay here for 10 years. Some may go back sooner, but others whose children are going through the education system stick it out longer, because they are happy and settled here. "There are parts of Northern Ireland where there are no racist attacks at all." Mr Mullen says the average wage in Poland is around €400 (£327) a month and the workers here are making a lot more than that. "But people sometimes forget they have to live here and pay our higher rents and higher grocery bills and being so far from home can increase the pressure on them, too." At least six Poles have taken their own lives recently and a number of factors have been cited, including depression, gambling, alcohol problems and difficulties at work. The Polish consul fears there could be more attacks on his people and wants politicians to do more and do it quickly. He says: "I want the Executive to come to a decision about their strategy on hate crime. We need pro-active measures to deal with it. They can't sit back, because, if they do, this racist nightmare will just get worse."
© The Belfast Telegraph

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Labour MP Diane Abbott: Mayor of London must act over rising homophobic crime (UK)

Labour’s Diane Abbott is calling on Mayor of London Boris Johnson to take action following a 5.6% increase in homophobic crime across the capital.

15/5/2014- In a statement to PinkNews, the Hackney MP said: “It is disgusting to see that one of the most diverse and progressive cities in the world is still being plagued by a small group of people who are capable of crimes motivated by mindless hatred. “I suspect we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg as the majority of crimes against the LGBT community still go unreported, because the victims are too afraid to tell the police. This is something that the Mayor of London and his deputy for Policing and Crime, Stephen Greenhalgh, must take very seriously and I call on them to take steps to ensure that we do not see this figure continue to rise in the next 12 months. “However, our greatest tool in building a society free of this kind of intolerance is education, and in light of this resurgence it is clear that the government must look harder at ensuring that homosexuality is better understood so that we can finally eliminate this kind of violence from our streets.”

Latest figures from the Metropolitan Police Service show in the 12 months to March this year, 1,167 homophobic crimes were reported to the force – that’s a rise of 62 incidents compared to the preceding 12-month period. From March 2012 to March 2013 homophobic crime across London dropped by 12.7%, with 161 fewer offences reported. In a statement to PinkNews, the Metropolitan Police Service said: “The MPS believes these increases are down to a range of factors, including a growing willingness of victims to report hate crime; an improved awareness of MPS staff to identify these offences; the support provided by more than 500 specialist hate crime investigators working in our 32 dedicated hate crime Community Safety Units (CSUs); and work with the partners to support victims.”

Earlier this month, Home Office minister Norman Baker said the UK Government was making “progress” in tackling hate crime.

Home Secretary Theresa May said in March that she feared too many people are still frightened to report homophobic crime.

Figures released in December last year by the Home Office showed there had been a fall in the number of homophobic crimes recorded in England and Wales – however reports of transphobic crime had risen.
© Pink News

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Boy, 12, taken to hospital after racist attack by teenager in street (UK)

A 12-year-old boy was taken to hospital after he was attacked and racially abused by an older teenager in the street.

13/5/2014- Police have launched an investigation and are appealing for information after the boy was assaulted in the Pollok area Glasgow on Sunday May 11. At around 10.10pm, the victim and his ten-year-old brother were walking along Brockburn Road when they were approached by a youth who punched and racially abused him. The boy, who is Asian, made his way home and was taken to hospital by his parents. He was detained overnight as a precaution due to the effect the assault had on an existing medical condition. The attacker is described as white, 15 to 16 years old, of slim build, with short light blond hair. He was wearing a dark-coloured body warmer, red short sleeved shirt underneath and grey jogging bottoms.

Inspector Fraser Lennox, Pollok Police Office, said: "The boys had been at their aunt’s house nearby and were making their way along the footpath when the assault took place. "Officers are checking CCTV and carrying out door to door enquiries in the area in an effort to trace the youth responsible, however, we would still appeal to anyone who was in the area who either saw the incident or who may have seen the boys or their attacker in the area either prior to or afterwards.
© STV News

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Cambridgeshire police are investigating a homophobic leaflet sent to homes in Ely and say they are treating it as a “hate incident”.

13/5/2014- The leaflet, distributed to several addresses earlier this month, claims that “homosexuality is not natural. It never has been and it never will be.” It added: “God created man and woman for their mutual compatibility and for the procreation of children.” According to The Ely Standard, Cambridgeshire police has issued a statement saying: “We have received a number of reports about the leaflets and are treating the matter as a hate incident.” Several residents say they have been left dismayed and angry by the offensive literature. The authorities state they “are working with local and national partners about the leaflets and investigations are ongoing.”
© Pink News

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Islamophobia: why do so many young men hate Muslim women? (opinion)

After Ava Vidal wrote an article about Islamophobic attacks on British women, she found herself on the receiving end of a heck of a lot of abuse. Here she shares the worst of it (mainly from young men) and explains what she's learned

10/5/2014- Earlier this week I wrote about the rise of Islamophobic attacks against Muslim women in the UK. Many Muslim women bravely shared their experiences with me for my piece. Some were too scared to be named for fear of further reprisals. However, one thing they all agreed on, was that their lives had changed irrevocably since the terrorist attacks in New York in 2001. Some of their stories, detailing verbal and physical abuse, were sadly unsurprising as I have heard and seen a lot of anti-Muslim rhetoric myself over the years. But what did shock me were some of the flippant responses my article prompted: “What is the problem? Can’t Ninjas take care of themselves?” is just one example. Since writing the piece I’ve found myself on the receiving end of Islamophobic abuse online from those believing that I was secretly a practising Muslim (when anyone that has seen me consume Pinot Grigio on a night out knows that I am no such thing). I now feel as though I have inadvertently walked a mile in the shoes of a British Muslim woman - and they’ve pinched like a brand new pair of heels on a night out.

I’ve also been accused of exaggerating the problem, by commenters and tweeters alike. There are many who claim that such attacks are in fact decreasing. They have argued to me that a lot of these attacks aren’t serious enough to warrant hospital treatment - so what is all the fuss about? A strange man violates you, gets in your face and then snatches off your veil? Have a laugh about it! It’ll be a great story to tell your mates down the pub later right? Oh. Or if a stranger screams abuse in your face and then spits in it, it’s fine. Suck it up! It rains a lot in the UK anyway, so what does it matter? And online harassment is no big deal! Except it is. However, these crimes (because that is exactly what they are) are not decreasing. The Met Police crime statistics up to March 2014 are available online here and show that there has been an increase in racist and religious based crime against Muslims, up by 65.7 per cent on the year, and that is in just London alone. The truth of the matter is that far from exaggeration on my part.

I heavily edited the accounts that I received and couldn’t use many because I simply did not have the space. There were too many. One was from woman called Hiba Mohamed. She told me the story of how she was physically attacked at Bond Street tube station in December last year. Luckily the man was apprehended by British Transport Police and charged with racially and religiously aggravated harassment. He pleaded guilty at Westminster Magistrates Court on January 29 earlier this year, fined £100 and ordered to pay £85 court costs. “Since I started wearing the hijab in 2002, I have experienced many verbal and sometimes physical attacks,” she tells me. “This recent incident was resolved but the truth is I have been through this so many times that it didn't phase me. I was relieved he pleaded guilty so I didn’t have to testify in court though. Ultimately I worry about my mother and grandmother or other women who be easily intimidated or scared as certainly I feel we are often targeted by weak men who are afraid to speak their minds to a man their own size.”

So why do so many of us not care about Islamophobia?
Is it because we are subjected to so many negative images of Muslims that we have become desensitised? Hiba thinks this is part of the reason: “I have noticed a correlation with what was aired on TV the night before and an increase in hostility. For example, if there is a big documentary on Channel 4 unveiling the ‘eerie’ lives of British Muslims then usually there will be some sort of reaction to that.” Let’s take some time to consider what Hiba and many others have told me. This abuse takes place so frequently it has been normalised. We have a group of women in this country that consider any day that they’re not abused an abnormal one. I have visions of Muslim women getting home on an abuse free day, closing the door breaking out into some Ice Cube.

So I dived in...
Nonetheless, having been inundated with responses on Twitter, I gallantly fought my way through bad spelling and grammar, to try to gauge what had made these people feel so strongly about Muslims. What was surprising was how young many (but by no means all) of them were. Many were clearly only in their 20's - the 'War on Terror' generation. They were teenagers when the Twin Towers fell, old enough to be aware of what had happened, and they have been bought up on a steady stream of anti-Muslim sentiment ever since. They have never been presented with an alternative narrative. Intrigued, I asked many of them why the fact that women were being attacked on our streets didn’t horrify them. “It’s their treatment of women,” one man quickly replied to me. I think he meant that because he perceived as Islam as treating women badly – all other Islamophobic attacks against women were warranted. Right…

I then took the time to scroll through the timeline of this ardent feminist and saw how he treated the women that he had previously interacted with on Twitter. He had tweeted photos of women that would make the editors of a lads’ magazine beam with pride. In one of his tweets he told a woman he’d like to “put a cucumber up her” and then slap her around. And who said romance was dead?! He told another, who had spurned his advances, that she was “at best a drunken shag, only known coz of being a slut”. This idiot’s rationale seem to boil down to his desire to ‘free’ Muslim women from their men, so that he could call them the names that he dishes out to every other woman that he comes into contact with. Equal opportunities weren’t clearly a priority for him. And he wasn’t the only one either. Many men that tweeted me about the ‘rights of Muslim women’ had similarly misogynistic timelines. “What about honour killings?” one asked. I explained that honour killings are cultural and that many are not carried out by Muslims at all.(And let’s not forget on average over two women a week are killed in the UK by their current or former partners – they may not go by the name ‘honour killings’ but this is the reality in our Christian country right now.)

“Why is everywhere suddenly selling halal meat? It’s cruel!” was another response lobbed at me in the Twittersphere. If your animal activism begins and ends with objections about Halal meat, then please don’t be offended if I don’t take them too seriously, was pretty much my response. Contrary to popular belief, meat doesn’t become halal when a group of Muslims clad in black clothing dance around an animal and then take turns in urinating on it. But what does it mean? Well why don’t you try reading this? In other words it’s a lot more humane than many modern day methods of slaughtering meat. But I think the best way to state your objection to the cruelty to animals perhaps may be not to eat any of them.

Here were some of my other favourite responses to my original piece:
Tweeter 1: “You’re racist against white people.”
Me: “There are white men and women that are Muslims.”

Tweeter: “That proves Britain is becoming Islamifided!” (genuine spelling)
Tweeter 2: “What if I hate Islam for the same reason that I hate Christianity?”
Me: “That is fine. You can hate religion all you want. Just don’t hate the people that choose to follow it. You don’t have the right to abuse or harass them.”

Tweeter 3: "Let's see what they make of your profile picture in Iran or Saudi Arabia!"
Me: “Why?!”
You get the gist.

So what have I learned from this entire experience?
That we have to stop drawing false parallels between what is happening in the UK and what happens in other countries. It’s high-time people understand the difference between religion and culture. And we have to accept responsibility for what is happening on our own doorsteps. This not the life that we would want for our daughters, wives, nieces or cousins. When it comes to how we treat Muslim people we have to rediscover our humanity. I don’t expect that I can cure everyone of their ignorance. But at least while they are tweeting and emailing abuse to me, I’m keeping their hands busy and they won’t be able to snatch off anyone’s veil.
Now excuse me, I’m off to listen to some Ice Cube.
© The Telegraph

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Headlines 9 May, 2014

Crime fears as racist assaults and thefts soar in Northern Ireland

Police statistics highlight hate attacks and public disorder

8/5/2014- Crime across Northern Ireland has risen, police figures have revealed. While robbery and criminal damage are down, racist and homophobic attacks have soared. The PSNI also said: “Violence against the person, theft offences, and public order offences have increased." In their annual statistics, the force said crime across has risen by 2.3 per cent, from 100,389 crimes in 2012/13 to 102,746 in 2013/14. The force said on Thursday that as “we have seen in recent weeks there is more work to be done around hate crime, with statistics showing an increase of 30.9 per cent for racist incidents and 13.8 per cent for homophobic incidents”. A spokesman added: “We have been working extremely hard along with our partners to encourage victims of any hate crime to report their experiences to police however we acknowledge we have more to do to build confidence within communities that we are tackling hate crimes vigorously.”

The PSNI said the “slight increase in overall crime, however 2013/14 is the second lowest annual level recorded in Northern Ireland since the new Home Office counting rules were introduced in 1998/99”. Street-level drug dealing “continued to be a priority across Northern Ireland”, the force said, “with a specific focus in the later half of 2013 through Operation Torus”. Drug seizures increased by 7.8 per cent (4,474 incidents), with cannabis continuing to be the main substance recovered and officers arrested 83 more people for drug offences. Commenting on the overall statistics, Chief Constable Matt Baggott said: “While we have seen a slight increase in recorded crime for 2013/14 it is worth noting that this follows four years of decreasing crime levels. "Despite the fact that this has been a challenging time for police I am extremely proud of the continuing commitment shown by officers and staff to make Northern Ireland safer for everyone.”
© The Irish Mirror

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'People grab our veils, call us terrorists and want us dead' (UK, opinion)

Islamophobic attacks have been on the rise ever since 9/11, but it is mostly women being attacked, a recent report suggests. Ava Vidal shares stories from British Muslim women who face everyday awful abuse

6/5/2014- “It is something I have got used to since 9/11. From being called Osama Bin Laden to Paki-terrorist I have heard it all,” Zab Mustefa, a British Muslim journalist, who specialises in women's rights and culture, tells me. Since the terrorist attacks on New York City that brought down the twin towers, it seems life has not been the same for Muslims that live in the western world. Suddenly there was a spotlight shone on Islam when most non-Muslims had barely given it a second thought before. “Either you’re with us. Or you’re with the terrorists,” announced the then president of the USA George W Bush in a sombre tone at a press conference following the attacks. And many people decided that all Muslims were against 'us'. Everything was under scrutiny. Their style of dress, their beliefs, their way of life. People that had never even read the Qu’ran believed they had more knowledge than Islamic scholars. “Look at the way they treat their women!” is a statement that I often hear. “Forcing them to cover up. Not allowing them to go out alone and controlling everything that they do.”

“What about Saudi Arabia? They don’t even let women drive!” But it's a false perception. I am not denying that there are countries where the predominant religion is Islam where women are treated badly. But patriarchy is the problem, not Islam. In Islam, the rights of women were recognised much earlier than they were in the West. In any case, we in the UK don’t come up smelling of roses when we examine the inequality between the sexes either. A UN human rights inspector recently declared the sexism in the UK to be more ‘pervasive’ and ‘in your face’ than any country she has ever visited and that included some Muslim countries. What I find totally abhorrent is the fact that since concern for Muslim women is so often cited, how come they are the targets of so much abuse in today’s society?

'Anti-Muslim hate'
A report from the University of Birmingham, 'Maybe we are hated: The experience and impact of anti-Muslim hate on British Muslim women', says Muslim women are repeated victims of anit-Muslim hate. It cites verified figures from Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks), which show attacks on Muslim women account for 58 per cent of all incidents reported to it. Of those, 80 per cent were visually identifiable (wearing hijab, niqab, or other clothing associated with Islam). I have witnessed some of it first hand. It ranges from petty microaggressions to full blown physical attacks. I was told of a pregnant Muslim woman who was pushed down and stomped on last week. She was too scared to go to the police. “Racist rhetoric from the likes of the EDL and Ukip is definitely making things worse,” Zab continues. “I am definitely feeling more hatred towards Muslims as a result. I went to the police but they failed to investigate, let alone take any action. This was the point, that an EDL supporter was threatening to come and ‘teach’ me a lesson simply because I am a Muslim woman. I have been called many things such as hummus eating, camel shagging, Paki Muslim slut. No joke.”

One lady that preferred to remain anonymous told me: “I was in London, and on the Tube and a group of three well dressed white men were sitting opposite me. One was looking at me singing 'Kill them all. Kill them.' His friend pointed out that I could hear him. The guy singing said ‘I don't give a f**k.’ "On the same day a man in a business suit told me to ‘f**k off’. I was with a white male friend at the time. We both stopped in our tracks and the white guy who swore turned around, pointed at me and said, ‘yeah you!’ "I feel unsafe, my husband told me not to go into London, both of us were worried that I may be attacked or have my hijab pulled etc. He was also really angry with me when I didn't tell the police, as he said they ought to know that Muslim women are being harassed. I was just shocked because it wasn't the expected type that you see on EDL marches. It was ‘educated’ people.” Akeela lives in North West London but when she lived in Hull she often felt that she had to remove her hijab for her own safety. A lot of women have had their hijabs pulled off. She said that she has suffered a full range of abuse from the ‘v sign’ to being called a ‘Muslim bastard’. She also receives a steady stream of Islamophobic tweets.

What's going on?
Henna suggests a reason for these attacks: “It seems to me this flavour of violence is almost accepted as a 'cruel to be kind' compliment to integration to the British way of life, like bullying fat people to help them get healthier. I'm a South Asian looking woman, not obviously Muslim, I don't wear a hijab or any symbols. I'd consider myself culturally Islamicate or a secular Muslim. The fact that I get Islamophobic street harassment seems in itself a testament to the magnitude of the problem and degree of perpetrators' ignorance. "In my experience it has been constant since 9/11 - at school I had my white friends rounding on me asking me why, by being a Muslim I supported OBL [Osama bin Laden]. To which I had to provide some self-denying murmuring excuse in order to quell their fears even though I was barely conscious of Islam beyond using fasting as an excuse to avoid PE. "I've had a man pull up his Transit van in the street to scream ‘Afghan terrorist’. In Trafalgar Square, I had a guy walk in front of me to obstruct my path and then follow me down the street asking why ‘my people’ wanted to destroy the West and telling me I needed to go home. No one in the crowded square felt compelled to intervene.

"It’s the constant and wearing rhetoric that is most difficult. Always having to be on the backfoot - apologetic - because otherwise you're on Team Evil. And that's now prevalent in even progressive circles, certainly with people I know as friends.” Her friend Annabel agrees, saying: “My Muslim identity would be defined very similarly to Henna's, except non-Muslim people rarely assume I'm a Muslim. This puts them in a supposedly safe space for making bigoted comments [like:] 'And obviously when I got on the plane I checked no-one looked like a terrorist.’ ‘They could have anything under those veils. I'm not gonna get killed in the name of political correctness.’ "A guy I know wrote as his Facebook status that he changed Tube carriage when a bearded man was reading a book written in Arabic script and speaking under his voice. "I should stress that it's not even solely white British people who make these comments - it's also fellow ethnic minorities, though from my experience the really angry rhetoric has come from white British people.  Islamophobia is rampant - I must deal with multiple comments every week. It now exists as a social norm that provides a clear context for verbal or physical attacks on Muslims because racists create safe spaces for themselves to validate their own racism - which I see on a near daily basis.”

Sadly with so much Islamophobic rhetoric being used, in some cases by politicians looking to score points by feeding people’s fears, this problem may get even worse. We should be ashamed to live in a society that treats people this way on a daily basis.
© The Telegraph

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Annual report on Anti-Semitism in Czech Republic registers steep increase of Internet attacks

5/5/2014- A new study by Prague's Jewish community released on Monday registered a significant increase of attacks against Jews on the Internet for the second straight year. The annual report on anti-Semitism said the number of Internet attacks, including texts, photos and videos, jumped to 156 in 2013 from 82 in 2012. The report said the pro-Israeli stance of the Czech government was among the reasons for the attacks. Besides the Internet attacks, it said anti-Semitism in the Czech Republic remains at a relatively low level with one physical attack registered last year and three attacks on Jewish property. The anti-Semitic materials, the report said, include the incitement, support and justification for killing Jews, their demonization, denial of the Holocaust, and the de-legitimization of the state of Israel, among other things. The report concluded that the situation regarding anti-Semitism has been "quiet" in the Czech Republic compared with other European countries such as Hungary and France. Also Monday, police said they broke up a Czech branch of an alleged Russia-based neo-Nazi organization known as Wotan Jugend. In a statement, spokeswoman Andrea Zoulova said the local branch was established by a 21-year-old foreigner of unspecified origin, and a total of five people are under investigation in the case. They face up to five years in prison if tried and convicted of racism.
© The Associated Press

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Russia: Racism and xenophobia in April 2014

3/5/2014- In April, no fewer than 6 people fell victim of racist or neo-Nazi attacks. Among them, one man – a Tajik citizen – was killed in Moscow.

Since the beginning of this year, 8 people were killed and at least 31 were injured in such attacks, in 11 regions of the Russian Federation. In addition, one person received death threats. We have recorded at least 4 acts of vandalism which could be interpreted as motivated either by hatred or by neo-Nazi ideology this month. Since the beginning of January, we could count no fewer than 17 such acts of vandalism.

As usual, the number of neo-Nazi incidents increased around April 20, which is Adolf Hitler's birthday. This year, on April 21, unknown vandals in Chelyabinsk set the building of the prosecutor's office of the Kalininsky district on fire, leaving a swastika and an inscription about Hitler on the wall. On April 20, a video appeared on one of the ultra-right websites, showing nationalists burning a police base in Cheboksary. On April 18, a Tajik citizen was stabbed to death in Moscow, near the metro station Ulitsa Podbelskogo, as he was walking home from the grocery store.

In the public sphere, nationalists continued their campaign against the introduction of amendments to the law on citizenship. In Saint-Petersburg the “Russians” movement, the National-Democratic party, the National-Democrats, the “New Force” party, along with V. Milov's Democratic choice and A. Navalny's “Progress Party”, staged a meeting on the Field of Mars, gathering in total a few dozens people (between 50 and 70). Similar rallies were held in several other cities, but none of them saw mass participation.

New ultra-right raids were conducted in April. Activists of the “Shield of Moscow” movement
(Shchit Moskvy) carried out a raid on April 5 in order to catch taxi drivers working without a license. They also conducted raids aimed at “rubber apartments”. For instance, nationalists belonging to the “North Border” movement (in Syktyvkar), along with the Komi section of the “Guestbusters” (a project of the “Russians” movement), found the addresses of 13 apartments where migrant workers were registered, and glued Guestbusters’ stickers on their doors. Then the activists took pictures of the doors and posted them on their website, also indicating the concerned addresses. On April 6 in Khimki, activists from the Guestbusters, together with representatives of the Russians from Dolgoprudny, also conducted a raid, during which they checked several houses.

With the arrival of warmer weather, a whole range of nationalist organizations went back to their spring and summer outdoor activities, which include training to knife fight, close fight, and trail running. At least two convictions for violence when courts established racial hatred as a motive took place in April. Three people were convicted, in Kostroma and Smolensk. As such, from the beginning of the year we have recorded no fewer than 8 such convictions, against 16 individuals in 7 regions. When it comes to xenophobic propaganda, no fewer than 11 convictions were issued in April, against 11 persons in 11 regions.

The most notorious verdict was taken on April 22 by the Butyrsky district court in Moscow against the chief editor of the “Radical Politics” bulletin (Radikalnaya Politika), Boris Stomakhin. The Court convicted him under Part 1 of Article 280 of the Criminal Code (public calls to extremism), Part 1 of Art. 282 (incitement to ethnic or national hatred), Part 1 of Article 205.2 (justification of terrorism), as well as Article 30 and Part 2 of Article 205.2 (preparation for public justification of terrorism with the use of the media), for the publication of several articles. He was sentenced to six and a half years of imprisonment, which we consider too harsh a sentence, given the fact that it is a condemnation for words, and also considering the small audience of the resources on which the articles were published.

Since the beginning of the year, at least 39 convictions for xenophobic propaganda were issued, against 39 people in 39 regions. In April, the Federal list of extremist materials was updated on three occasions (on April 4, 11 and 24). Entries 2270 to 2294 were added. The following materials joined the list: Islamic materials of various kinds, including the websites of Islamist fighters' organizations, materials from “Hizb ut-Tahrir”, and texts written by Fayzrahman Sattarov, the leader of a forbidden Muslim community in Kazan; xenophobic materials of various sorts, including videos of Nazi skinheads associated with the “Format 18” organization and texts from the “Slavic North” group (Slavyansky Sever); an anti-Christian image posted on the social network website VKontakte; texts written by Gennady Pushkarev containing appeals to destruction of high crosses; a book by Benito Mussolini; but also stranger things to be forbidden, such as materials from the blog of a German historian from the Humboldt University in Berlin, Sebastian Stopper, and the visionary video “Angelica Zambrano’s Testimony”.

Certain materials already on the list were still added on it: the video “Social Advertising Prohibited on TV in 2010” was added for the third time; the video “Execution of a Tajik Drug Dealer”, for the second time, just like the famous anti-Semitic film “Russia Stabbed in the Back” (already considered as extremist and added on the list in 2007).
© SOVA Center for Information and Analysis.

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Headlines 2 May, 2014

Neo-Nazi Ian Forman Jailed For Plotting to Bomb Liverpool Mosques (UK)

1/5/2014- A neo-Nazi tried to build bombs in his house with a view to blowing up a number of mosques in Liverpool has been jailed for 10 years. Ian Forman, 42, from Birkenhead, was convicted of terrorism offences after researching a list of potential targets near him home in Merseyside and posting clips onto YouTube threatening to "blow them up". Forman was described as being obsessed with Adolf Hitler and considered Norwegian far-right mass murderer Andres Brevik a "hero". Forman frequently expressed his racist ideology and hatred towards Muslims and was the proud owner of part of an SS officer's uniform, which he planned to display in full on a mannequin at his home. He researched how to make bombs online and filmed himself practising with homemade explosive devices. Police were alerted to him after co-workers at a glass recycling plant discovered he used a work's computer to research how to obtain dangerous chemicals. When police raided his house on 6 June, they found over 1kg of gunpowder and a homemade explosive device. He also saved photos of local mosques onto his computer and 16 mobile phones.

Forman was found guilty of engaging in the preparation of terrorist acts, following a trial in March at Kingston Crown Court. Upon sentencing, Judge Paul Dodgson said Forman had behaved in a "racist, abusive and extremely offensive manner". He added: "You are someone who has held extreme right-wing views for a number of years. "A number of your messages express your admiration for Adolf Hitler - an admiration that led you to have parts of an SS uniform in your bedroom and you intended in due course to obtain a mannequin so the uniform could be displayed in full. "You in your perverted way believed that your activities were a continuation of Nazi warfare." "On occasions you have provoked understandable anger and disgust from people who have seen the material that you put on sites such as YouTube which gave vent to your extreme opinions. Dodgson previously told the court: "The defendant had, in my judgement, very extreme and evil thoughts - I think the word evil is appropriate."

Det sgt Matt Findell, of the North West Counter-Terrorism Unit, said: "Thankfully, we will never know how far Forman was prepared to go in acting out his racist fantasies. "However, we do know that Forman had carefully selected a number of targets to meet his own means. Had he carried them out, his attacks could have caused considerable damage to both property and people at several mosques."
© The International Business Times - UK

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Rise in rape and hate crime but overall crime falls in Hounslow (UK)

Borough commander Paul McGregor hopes people feel reassured by latest crime statistics and says force will prioritise tackling domestic abuse, hate crime and sexual offences

30/4/2014- Crime in Hounslow has fallen by 13 per cent - 2918 fewer crimes - according to the latest figures released by the Met police this week. It shows 19,591 crimes were reported in the borough between April 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014, compared to 22,509 with the previous 12 month period. While many crime figures dropped in Hounslow, there were rises in rape, domestic crime, Islamaphobhic crime, racist and religious hate crime and gun crime. Of these, the first three increases are also reflected across the capital and have been mainly attributed to more victims reporting the offences, although rape is still considered to be under-reported. In Hounslow there were falls in homicide, violence against the person, other sexual crimes, robbery against person and business, burglary, and motor vehicle crime. Chief superintendent Paul McGregor, borough commander for Hounslow, was pleased overall crime had dropped in the borough and hopes people will be reassured by officers' commitment to making Hounslow safer.

He said: "We have also achieved a significant reduction in the number of burglaries and robberies on the borough, with 227 fewer robberies (33% reduction) and 750 fewer burglaries (25% reduction). "This has been achieved as a result of a lot of hard work by our officers across the borough working closely with our partners to bring offenders to justice and improve our service to victims. "There has been an increase in the amount of domestic abuse crime that is recorded, as well an increase in racist and religious hate crime. "These increases are due to a number of factors, including the growing willingness of victims to report these types of crime as well as an improved awareness of my staff to identify these offences. "We have made progress in gaining the trust of victims of these crimes and it is important to me that victims have the confidence to come forward and report these incidents to us. "

Mr McGregor said the force will prioritise tackling domestic abuse, hate crime and sexual offences in the coming months. The borough's crime figures outperformed the capital as a whole, which saw crime fall by 9.4 per cent. Neighbouring boroughs also recorded larger than average falls in crime. Ealing is down 14.1 per cent, Kensington and Chelsea has fallen 13.9 per cent, Hammersmith and Fulham dropped by 13.1 per cent, and Westminster was down 13 per cent. The capital-wide rise in domestic abuse is also attributed to more victims coming forward and a growing confidence in crime reporting is also used to explain the increase in racist and religious hate crime. A number of proactive measures have cut crime including operation Big Wing targeting burglary and theft, Trident Gang Crime Command targeting gang violence, and Operation Cubo taking uninsured drivers and criminals off the streets.
© Get Surrey

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Appeal to help find racist street attacker in central Leeds (UK)

A teenage girl was brutally punched in the face and suffered a torrent of racist abuse in the city centre as she walked home from work.

29/4/2014- Georgia James, 19. from Chapel Allerton, had finished work at a city centre hotel and was walking to a relative’s house, on Saturday at 6.20pm. She said as she approached the Mecca Bingo, a white man, who was described as clean and smart, suddenly started hurling abuse at her. Georgia, who was born and brought up in Leeds, said: “He started shouting abusive racist names at me and swearing. Then he asked what I was doing in this city and I didn’t belong here and then he hit me hard, punched me in the face. I was shocked and couldn’t believe it was happening. “I was scared he might do something else or come back so I sat down and some people came to help me and I want to thank them.” Georgia suffered a bruised and swollen face and went to hospital for checks. She also had a bruised arm.

Police are treating the incident as racially aggravated assault and want to speak to anyone with any information. Georgia’s father Lutel Lames, who is a youth and community worker in Leeds, said he was ‘disappointed’ and angry: “It is 2014 and Leeds is a thriving multi-cultural city, it is unbelievable this could happen.” The suspect is described as a white man, aged 30 years old, and wearing a blue top and a Nike hat. Inspector Andy Briggs said: “This was a serious incident in which a young woman has been subjected to an abhorrent verbal attack and physically assaulted. “We are treating this assault as racially motivated. Such behaviour is unacceptable and I’d ask anyone who can help to contact North East Leeds NPT on 101.”
© The Yorkhire Evening Post

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Man throws faeces over Romanian cyclist in Belfast hate crime (Northern Ireland)

Police are investigating a racist attack in which faeces was thrown at a Romanian man in Belfast.

30/4/2014- He was cycling on the Newtownards Road in east Belfast at about 09:15 BST on Wednesday when the attack happened. A man wearing dark clothing, who is not known to the victim, threw faeces at the cyclist and ran away. The victim received hospital treatment after the assault and police said they are treating it as a hate crime. The victim has been described as a busker who sits outside a local shop. He is well known in the area and this is the second time he's been attacked in the last few months. This incident happened outside St Patrick's Church of Ireland and was condemned by Reverend John Cunningham. "I don't think there's any need for violence at any time," he said. "I think perhaps the effect on the gentleman might be traumatic, may, obviously, disturb the man for some years to come and I think for other people, other immigrants, that's bound to be a problem in the back of their minds, unsettling. "We have quite a few immigrants in this area."
© BBC News

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Joint Statement on Violence Against Roma in Ukraine

30/4/2014- We, the European Roma Rights Centre, the International Charitable Organisation “Chiricli’ and International Renaissance Foundation express our gravest concern regarding incidents of violence and intimidation directed against Romani individuals and communities in Ukraine in recent weeks and days. It is clear from the media report and the information coming from partner organisations that there has been an escalation in anti-Romani sentiment, which has already led to several acts of violence against Roma and could even lead to further deterioration.

In Slaviansk one Romani man was shot and seriously injured while trying to defend his house from an attack on April 29th. The man remains in a serious condition. This follows an incident earlier in April in which a group of over 20 men in Slavyansk targeted seven Romani households. The men entered houses, and beat Roma living there, including children. They then demanded money, and searched and looted the houses for anything of value. Following the attack, and reports locally of similar attacks in the region, Romani residents of Slaviansk and of neighbouring towns in Donetsk region fear for their safety, and some have already moved away from their homes to other parts of Donetsk.

In Cherkassy on April 29th one Romani family’s house was set on fire. Although the house was destroyed nobody was injured in the attack. This followed weeks of escalating tension between Roma and some non-Roma residents in the town. A group of non-Roma residents had approached Romani families, told them to leave their homes, and threatened them with physical attacks if they refused to do so. Police did not intervene to protect the families sufficiently, and only did so under pressure from local NGOs and activists. Despite these efforts it appears that the threats have been carried out.

On February 27th 2014 one Romani man was attacked in Pereyaslav-Khmelnitsky, Kyiv region, by a group of people who stated that Roma were not participating in the political life of the country and were apolitical. In a separate incident one day later, a group of about 15 people attacked four Romani households in Korsten, Kyiv region, and stated that they also planned to attack other Romani households. Several of the families left their homes, fearing further attacks. Other incidents of violence and intimidation have been reported directly to NGOs in Ukraine, but are not made public due to security concerns, Rommani individuals have asked for these incidents not to be reported for fear of reprisals.

It is evident in the current ongoing political instability in Ukraine that some elements are attempting to target Roma, or to mark Roma as scapegoats. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on minority issues Rita Izsák recently visited Ukraine and stated that “Minority rights protections should be strengthened as part of a process of confidence building and to achieve stronger unity in Ukraine’s diversity”. It is essential that the most vulnerable minorities, such as the Roma in Ukraine, are protected during this period of instability. All relevant and responsible authorities should condemn any violence or intimidation of Roma and ensure that any such violence is fully and speedily investigated in line with national and international legal requirements, pertaining to the investigation of alleged racist motives behind attacks.

The signing organisations urge all of the responsible parties in Ukraine, as well as international organisations, to take all possible and necessary actions to preserve and protect the rights of the Roma minority and guarantee their safety and security irrespective of the political situation in the country.
© European Roma Rights Center

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German-Jewish leader calls for public response to anti-Semitic attack

29/4/2014- A Jewish leader in Germany called for lawmakers to publicly condemn an anti-Semitic attack that occurred in Berlin. Deidre Berger, head of the American Jewish Committee office in Berlin, said in a statement Monday that it is unacceptable that no politicians have publicly responded to the April 25 incident, in which a 31-year-old Israeli man living in Berlin was encircled and beaten outside his apartment by six young men who identified themselves as Palestinians. “Especially today, on Yom Hashoah, it has to be made clear that anti-Semitism and violent hatred can have no place in this society,” Berger said, adding that she trusted the Berlin police “to do everything possible to identify the perpetrators as soon as possible.” Berger added that programs that combat anti-Semitism among youth of Arab and Turkish background must be given support. “This problem must no longer be swept under the rug,” she said.

The victim in the incident said he left his apartment with a female companion. He told police that a group of six young men accosted him verbally, then encircled him and punched him in the face. According to news reports, the woman was not attacked. The victim, who was treated for facial wounds in a nearby hospital, reported that the same young men had approached him the day before and asked about his nationality, to which he responded that he was an Israeli citizen. In Arabic, they said they were Palestinian and proceeded to curse out Israel. In August 2012, Berlin-based Rabbi Daniel Alter was brutally beaten in broad daylight by a group of youths who also threatened to kill his young daughter. The youths, believed to be of Middle Eastern origin, had first asked if Alter, who wore a yarmulke, was Jewish. He required surgery to repair a broken cheekbone. Two weeks later, Jewish schoolgirls in Berlin were subjected to an anti-Semitic verbal hazing by teenage girls, who also were described as being of Middle Eastern origin.
© JTA News

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Politically motivated violence on the rise in Germany

Acts of politically motivated violence are increasing in Germany, according to new official figures. Incidents connected to left-wing politics have risen sharply, while those on the right remain high.

29/4/2014- Over the past year, German authorities registered more than 31,000 politically motivated offences and over 2,800 acts of violence - an increase in both categories of 15 percent. Crimes from the left rose by 40 percent, but remained far below those related to rightwing politics. Despite a small fall, there were twice as many right-wing crimes in Germany, at 17,000, than those from the left. Speaking in Berlin on Tuesday, Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere labeled the development "worrisome," stressing that there was no room for complacency. At the same time, xenophobic offences rose by more than one-tenth, while xenophobic crimes increased almost 20 percent. "Xenophobia in words and deeds harm Germany," de Maiziere said in Berlin on Tuesday.

"Given the increase in crimes seen against homes for asylum seekers, we need to be extremely sensitive," he added. De Maiziere said authorities now want to centrally collect instances of crimes against asylum centers and record these separately in statistics. The figures show violent crimes in connection with demonstrations have increased, of which leftwing perpetrators were responsible for most, at almost 85 percent. Almost 1,900 people were injured last year by politically motivated violence, 283 more than last year. Of particular concern, de Maiziere said, were increasing attacks on police officers. More than 170 police officers were injured last December in Hamburg, as protesters demonstrated against forced evictions from the squatter home Rote Flora, which had become a popular rallying point for activists.
© The Deutsche Welle.

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Greater efforts needed to prevent and respond to hate crimes against Muslims participants at OSCE meet

Community-law enforcement measures to combat hate crimes against Muslims were the focus of an expert meeting on 28 April 2014 in Vienna organized jointly by the Swiss OSCE Chairmanship and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). The meeting brought together government officials, community leaders, civil society representatives and academics from 26 OSCE participating States.

28/4/2014- Muslims continue to experience violent manifestations of intolerance and discrimination in the OSCE region, the participants said, and governments need to do more to ensure the security of Muslim communities, including by enhancing their confidence in law enforcement agencies. Referring to the findings of ODIHR’s annual hate crime report, Floriane Hohenberg, Head of the ODIHR Tolerance and Non-Discrimination Department, emphasized that day-to-day activities of Muslim communities are endangered by violent attacks. “We are concerned, however, that many of these incidents are not reported to the police because the victims believe that their complaints will not be taken seriously or that they will be victimized again,” she said.

Mohamed Abubaker, Detective Inspector with the Swedish National Bureau of Investigation, said: “Overcoming mutual suspicions and stereotypes is key to increasing co-operation between law enforcement agencies and Muslim communities, so as to help reduce their marginalization and to develop adequate strategies and policies to combat hate crimes motivated by intolerance against them. Governments must ensure that counter-terrorism measures do not have a disproportional impact on Muslims and that they refrain from reinforcing existing stereotypes against Muslims.”

During the meeting, participants discussed a number of projects and initiatives aimed at enhancing co-operation between law enforcement officers and Muslim communities to combat hate crimes, including training police about anti-Muslim prejudice and measures to increase inclusiveness and diversity in law enforcement agencies. Since 2011, ODIHR has been delivering training workshops for community leaders and civil society representatives, as well as policy advice and training for law enforcement personnel, on preventing, responding to and reporting on hate crimes against Muslims.
View more photos from the meeting.
© The OSCE/ODIHR

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Europe: Jewish Life 'Unsustainable' Due to Rising Anti-Semitism

While violent attacks are decreasing, their intensity grows, Kantor Center report reveals.

27/4/2014- President of the European Jewish Congress Dr. Moshe Kantor spoke Sunday about the fact that Jews feel less welcome and more insecure in large parts of Europe during the release of the findings regarding the situation of anti-Semitism worldwide in 2013. Kantor was speaking at a press conference where the annual findings for 2013 were released by The Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry and the Moshe Kantor database for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism at Tel Aviv University, in cooperation with the European Jewish Congress. Results from the 2013 survey show that anti-Semitic attacks are growing in their intensity and cruelty. The number and type of violent attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions is worsening.

During 2013, there were 554 registered violent anti-Semitic acts, perpetrated with weapons or without, by arson, vandalism and direct threats, against persons, synagogues, community centers and schools, cemeteries, monuments and private property. The highest number of recorded incidents comes from France: 116, a rise in violent cases has also been noted in the UK, with 95 cases compared to 84 in 2012, and in Canada, 83 compared to 74; in Germany: 36 compared to 23; 23 in the Ukraine, compared to 15; 15 cases in Russia (11 in 2012), and 14 in Hungary (12 in 2012).

Jews: Europe's 'most targeted minority'
We also learn that Jews remain, in parts of Europe, the most targeted minority, especially relative to its numbers. In France, for example, Jews are around 1% of the population, while 40% of the racist violent attacks in 2013 were against Jews. “As we see in these findings in addition to results from the EU Fundamental Rights Agency survey released in November, Jews do not feel safe or secure in certain communities in Europe,” Kantor said. “According to that survey, almost half of the Jewish population is afraid of being verbally or physically attacked in a public place because they are Jewish and 25% of Jews will not wear anything that identifies them as Jewish or go near a Jewish institution for fear of an attack.” “Normative Jewish life in Europe is unsustainable if such huge numbers of European Jews are forced to live in fear and insecurity," Kantor continued. "European governments must be pressed to address this issue with utmost urgency.”

Dr. Kantor also spoke about how hate and incitement can easily translate into violence. “It is often easy to ignore such types of anti-Semitism - because there are usually no direct victims, no physical harm, but the influence of such simple acts of hate on masses of young people is a dangerous source of anti-Semitism for the future,” Kantor said. “However, we received a stark lesson two weeks ago in Kansas City that there are many dangerous anti-Semites out there who just need the trigger and the opportunity to transfer their hate speech into violent action.” “This is why we must always continue to monitor the sources of hate in order that our communities can live in security," he continued. "We often face the dilemma of whether to ignore such so-called 'harmless' acts of hate, usually spread verbally, through hate-speech or through literature. But by truly understanding the dangerous potential of this behavior we dare not ignore it.”
© Arutz Sheva

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