ICARE Hate Crime News - Archive June 2014

Headlines 27 June, 2014

Headlines 20 June, 2014

Headlines 13 June, 2014

Headlines 6 June, 2014

Headlines 27 June, 2014

Italy: Anti-gay mob throw faeces at Rome centre

A gang threw excrement at the office of a gay organization in Rome, while shouting death threats against people inside, Italian media reported on Friday.

27/6/2014- Di Gay Project (DGP) in southern Rome was attacked on Wednesday night, with the crime being reported to police on Friday, Corriere della Sera said. A mob threw excrement and other items, such as wooden boxes and vegetables, at the organization’s office, as people were rehearsing a theatre performance inside. Members of the gang, estimated to be aged between 15 and 40, also shouted threats such as “We’ll set you alight” and “you deserve to die” before running off. Responding to the attack, actress and director Maria Chiara Cucinotta vowed to “not be intimidated” and said the performers would return to rehearse this evening. “We don’t immediately have damages, physical or structural, but in our heart certainly,” she was quoted in Corriere as saying. Imma Battaglia, a politician and honourary president of DGP, said the attack was part of a broader “emergency of homophobia and security” which must be addressed at the political level, the newspaper reported. The incident comes less than three weeks since the Italian capital hosted Roma Pride, when tens of thousands of people marched through Rome in support of the gay community.
© The Local - Italy

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German man, 83, assaulted at rally for kidnapped Israeli teens

An 83-year-old man was thrown to the ground during a solidarity rally in Germany for three Israeli teens kidnapped in the West Bank.

24/6/2014- The incident took place at a national “Bring Back Our Boys” rally in Hamburg on June 19 organized by the Young Forum of the German-Israel Society and the Hamburg for Israel network, the Juedische Allgemeine, Germany’s main Jewish newspaper, reported Monday. A counter-demonstrator reportedly threw the elderly man to the ground. His daughter also was assaulted physically and verbally while trying to protect him. The man was treated in the hospital for a head wound. A complaint was lodged with police. The counter-demonstration reportedly was organized by the German branch of the anti-globalization ATTAC group.

Dieter Graumann, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told the Allgemeine that he was shocked and extremely worried that “this kind of pure hatred against Israel not only exists in Germany but is expressed in violent assaults.” He said he was counting on local authorities to “quickly apprehend the perpetrators and bring them to justice.” Ina Dinslage, spokeswoman for the Young Forum in Hamburg, also expressed shock at the attack. “We wanted to show our solidarity with the kidnapped teens,” she told the Allgemeine. Graumann said he hoped for more such demonstrations for democracy and peace, “values that Israel has always stood for.”
© JTA News

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Mostar University professor Slavo Kukic said he was beaten up in a bid to silence his criticism of the hero’s welcome given to a freed Bosnian Croat war criminal.

24/6/2014- Kukic told BIRN on Tuesday that he was attacked because he spoke out against the welcome party thrown for returning convict Dario Kordic in his hometown of Busovaca, which was attended by representatives of the Croatian Democratic Union, the party that governs the Mostar area. “This was the price I had to pay. This had nothing to do with by professional career as a professor, but had to do with the fact that I often stand out as an intellectual and am critical,” said Kukic, an ethnic Croat who often takes Bosnian Croat political leaders to task. “The day before the attack, I gave an interview to Al Jazeera and spoke in a critical way about that welcome [for Kordic]. No one should be proud of such an event,” he added. The professor said that his assailant entered his office at the economics faculty in Mostar on Monday and asked him whether he was Slavo Kukic. When he said yes, the man started hitting him with a baseball bat.

Police said they were looking for the culprit but could not comment on his possible motives. “The attacker used a baseball bat and hit Kukic on the head and other parts of the body,” Srecko Bosnjak, spokesperson for the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton Interior Ministry, told BIRN. Kordic was released earlier this month after serving 17 years of his 25-year war crimes sentence for ordering an attack on the village of Ahmici in 1993, during which 116 Bosniak civilians, including children, women and the elderly, were murdered. A former leader of a self-proclaimed wartime statelet called the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna, Kordic also received a welcome from supporters at Zagreb airport, and a Croatian Catholic bishop led a service of thanksgiving for his return. The alleged glorification of a war criminal sparked a protest by Croatian human-rights activists, who rallied in Zagreb carrying placards with the names of the victims of the 1993 massacre in Ahmici.

Judgments at the Hague Tribunal have said that Herceg-Bosna was founded with the intention of splitting the territory from Bosnia and Herzegovina and uniting it with a 'Greater Croatia'. Six of its other leaders were convicted last year of taking part in a joint criminal enterprise aimed at forcibly removing Bosniaks, and sentenced to 111 years in total.
© Balkan Insight

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Russia: St. Petersburg Neo-Nazis Sentenced for Killing Foreigners and Homeless People

24/6/2014- A group of St. Petersburg neo-Nazis received lengthy prison sentences on Tuesday for a series of crimes that included killing foreigners and burning homeless people alive. Eight members of the group NS/WP, which stands for National Socialism/White Power, will serve terms in high-security prisons for 10 murders, five attempted murders and acts of arson carried out between 2009 and 2010, a statement on the regional website of the Investigative Committee said. The group, created in 2009, sought to "incite racial hatred against natives of the Caucasus, Asia and Africa," the statement said. In one of the more heinous episodes described by investigators, members of the group filmed themselves murdering a citizen of Ghana. According to Newsru.com, the group later posted the video on the Internet to mark New Year's Day, titling it, "A New Year, A New Terror." Another incident, described by Fontanka.ru, saw two members of the group burn two homeless women alive who had been sleeping in a vehicle.

The sentences for each member differed depending on the severity of their contribution to the crimes. Charges included murder, attempted murder, inciting racial hatred, hooliganism, illegal possession of weapons and illegal possession of explosive materials. German Vengerveld, who took part in setting fire to the vehicle in which the two homeless women were sleeping, got the harshest sentence: 24 years. Vladimir Mumzhiyev got 16 years, while his brother Valentin Mumzhiyev got 14, as did Artyom Zavyalov. Arseny Miroshnichenko got 9 years; Yevgeny Koryabkin and Dmitry Abalishin each got seven years; Kirill Prisyazhnyuk got three and Roman Veits got two years' probation. Georgy Timofeyev, who the court determined had created the group and coordinated all of its actions, was earlier sentenced to 13 years after accepting a plea deal. One other member of the group was also sentenced earlier, and another remains on a wanted list.

NS/WP, which has been deemed an extremist group in Russia, is widely considered one of the country's most violent neo-Nazi gangs. In 2011, two members of the group were convicted of beheading a fellow 17-year-old nationalist from Moscow, Newsru.com reported.
© The Moscow Times

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France: Anti-Semitic Assault and Stabbing in Paris Library

20 assailants beat up Jewish students and stab them in French capital as anti-Semitism continues to peak.

24/6/2014- The wave of anti-Semitic violence continues to rock French Jewry, as a gang of 20 attackers on Monday reportedly assaulted visibly Jewish students wearing kippot (yarmulkes) at a local library in the capital city of Paris. The assailants, described by reports as being of North African descent and therefore likely Muslim immigrants, approached the Jewish students from two directions in the library, pouncing on them and beating them until they were bloody. The Jewish students ran from the scene, and in the process two students were stabbed, leaving them with light wounds. Security personnel at the library got involved and called up the police, who were able to arrest several of the attackers and bring them in for investigation.

The attack comes after a rally in Paris supporting the three Israel teens who were kidnapped by Hamas terrorists two weeks ago came under attack last Thursday. The anti-Semitic attackers hurled flares at the rally, scattering the participants; several of the attackers were arrested. The recent attacks are just the latest in a long string of escalating anti-Semitic violence. Two Saturdays ago, attackers reportedly approached a Paris synagogue in the city's 20th District armed with an AK-47 assault rifle and a handgun. According to reports they began aiming their guns at bystanders and the building itself and pretended to open fire, but fled the scene when they saw armed French police officers guarding the synagogue. Reports say they escaped on a scooter.

The Saturday prior to that, two visibly Jewish teenagers wearing kippot report being sprayed with tear gas in Sarcelles, a northern suburb of Paris, by North African assailants. A week before that, two other Jewish teenagers, aged 14 and 15, narrowly escaped an axe-wielding man of Arab appearance in another Paris suburb. Jewish Agency Executive Director Natan Sharansky spoke to Arutz Sheva on Monday about French aliyah (immigration to Israel), discussing the many factors driving the steep rise in aliyah recently, including the wave of anti-Semitic violence. That rise in aliyah is such that a full 1% of the French Jewish community is expected to move to Israel by the end of 2014.
© Arutz Sheva

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Ukrainian Jewish lawmaker Oleksandr Feldman menaced in Kiev

23/6/2014- Oleksandr Feldman, a Ukrainian lawmaker and Jewish leader, said he was threatened in Kiev by uniformed men who hurled anti-Semitic insults at him. Feldman, president of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, told police that the unidentified men surrounded his car on June 17 near the parliament building, Ukrainian Jewish Committee director Eduard Dolinsky told JTA. “When he tried to leave, they punctured his car tires,” Dolinsky said, adding, “In the police report, Mr. Feldman noted that the men shouted anti-Semitic insults at him and this angle will be investigated.” The suspected attackers left the scene as police approached, Dolinsky said, noting that Feldman was guarded during the assault by his bodyguard. Neither was injured in the incident, which occurred on Institutskaya Street in central Kiev.

Feldman, who wears a kippah and is one of Ukraine’s most well-known Jews, also initiated the annual Kyiv Interfaith Forum. Anti-Semitic attacks are rare in Ukraine, and Kiev especially, but several have occurred since November following the eruption of a revolution that forced President Viktor Yanukovych to flee for Russia and has left hundreds dead.
Last month, armed and masked men threatened to burn down the house of one of Ukraine’s chief rabbis, Yaakov Dov Bleich, the president of the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine. Bleich was not in the country at the time of the attack, which ended without serious injury.
© JTA News

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The Metropolitan Police are investigating an assault on a gay couple in Whitechapel, east London, involving several teenagers.

24/6/2014- Walter Adrian, 23, and his boyfriend, who asked not to be named, were attacked outside Barclays bank on Whitechapel Road after leaving a friend’s party just before midnight on Friday 13 June. The London Evening Standard reports seven Bangladeshi teenagers on pushbikes approached as the couple withdrew cash. Mr Adrian, a freelance journalist from Bow, said: “We weren’t even holding hands or kissing or anything, but all the comments were based on us being gay. “One of them said ‘fucking faggots’ so we wanted to try and leave and my partner pushed one of them but then they got physical. “They punched him and then there were six or seven of them just going at us while we were cornered against the wall. “They were saying, ‘this is our street, this is our area, get out of here’, just because they thought we were gay. It happens a lot round this area and East London. “We weren’t even acting gay and that’s what’s upsetting. Whether anyone is gay or not you just can’t feel safe. You’re scared of being attacked and afraid to go out by yourself.”

Mr Adrian was left unconscious after the attack and suffered bruising to his temple and stomach. His partner, who suffered bruising to his jaw, said: “I feel like I have to ‘gay-down’ a bit, that I should wear trousers and not skinny ones. We are not very gay, we don’t wear pink or glitter, and they still picked on us. “We are just scared and afraid it might happen again and it just shouldn’t be like that. You get these patrols that make you feel like you’re trespassing in their area. I think it’s a clash as people are starting to move into multicultural areas.” A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “We were called at 1.40am on June 13 to reports of an assault in Whitechapel Road. Investigations continue.”
© Pink News

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UK: Vandals knock down memorials and paint swastikas on gravestones

Sick vandals knock down memorials and paint swastikas on gravestones at Jewish cemetery

24/6/2014- Racist vandals have devastated a Jewish cemetery in north Manchester - knocking down memorials and painting swastikas on gravestones. The sickening anti-Semitic attack was discovered at the site on Rochdale Road in Blackley yesterday afternoon. Police were called to the scene at 3.40pm and found that a number of gravestones had been toppled over and others had been daubed with Nazi symbols and other racist graffiti. Officers believe the graves were vandalised between 4pm on Sunday and 3.30pm yesterday. They are also investigating similar offences from earlier this month. Inspector Mike Reid of GMP’s integrated neighbourhood policing team, branded it “a sickening and cruel act of racism”. “A cemetery is supposed to be a resting place for people who have passed away. "It should be a place of sanctity and dignity where families can come and pay their respects to those who have lost their lives. "So to have those graves desecrated in such an appalling and disrespectful way will no doubt cause immeasurable anguish to the families and loved ones affected.

“The vandalism of a gravestone is, in itself, a sickening act but to violate the memory of those resting in the cemetery still further by daubing racial slurs on the graves is truly repulsive. "I cannot begin to get into the mind of someone who would commit such an atrocity. I know this will cause a lot of anxiety and distress in the local community and we as police officers share that distress. "I want to stress to people who have loved ones buried here and live in this area that we will do everything we can to find out who is responsible and bring the full force of the law down on them. “This has been recorded as a hate crime because of the clear racial motivation and, should we find those who committed this cowardly act, that will allow the courts to impose even harsher punishments.

"Extra patrols will be in the area in the coming days both to act as a visible deterrent and provide a visible presence for any concerned residents, and we will work with our partner agencies to investigate the matter. “Lastly, I believe the way we will catch these people is through the help of the local community. "Someone, somewhere, knows who is responsible and I would urge those people to do the right thing. "Think how you would feel if it was the grave of your loved one which was damaged. You would want justice so please, think of those are suffering and speak to us, in confidence if needed.”
© The Manchester Evening News.

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Headlines 20 June, 2014

Acts of vandalism committed against Jewish sites in central Europe

A Jewish cemetery and Holocaust monument were damaged in Germany amid a string of unrelated acts of vandalism against Jewish heritage sites in central Europe.

19/6/2014- The incident in Germany occurred over the weekend at the Jewish cemetery of Jamlitz, a town situated 55 miles south of Berlin, according to a report posted Monday on the website of the police department of the German state of Brandenburg. At the cemetery, the perpetrator defaced the entrance sign and smashed the large glass plates of a display about the nearby Lieberose concentration camp, where Nazis kept Jewish forced labor workers. The damage was estimated at $4,770.

Earlier this month, police in Slovakia arrested two men who are suspected of vandalizing a Jewish cemetery and then publishing photos of the aftermath in social media. The suspects, both 18 from the towns of Soporna and Sered, are believed to have knocked down headstones last month at the Jewish cemetery of Cifer located a few miles west of their homes, Martin Kredatusova, a spokesperson for the local police in the western city of Trnava, told the Slovakian TASR news agency on June 2. According to TASR, their arrest was made possible by an anonymous tip sent to the Regional Monuments Office, containing photos and comments from social media which allegedly linked the suspects to the vandalism at Cifer. The headstones were not broken, but the suspects, who were not named, may face trial for racial defamation, TASR reported.

In Poland, police in Radomsko, a city located 70 miles north of Krakow, arrested two men in their 20s on June 1 on suspicion that they shattered 13 Hebrew-language memorial plaques for the city’s Jewish community, which was annihilated during the Holocaust, the news site naszemiasto.pl reported. Plaques had been placed the previous day for the opening of a commemoration project that the city called “Open Air Jewish Museum.” It was scheduled to open June 2.
© JTA News

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Northern Ireland: Jamie beaten and shot with pellet gun because he came from 'other' side of city

A schoolboy targeted in a sectarian hate crime in west Belfast says he feared he was going to die during the gang attack that left him cut and bruised.

20/6/2014- Jamie Bickerstaff (16), from the Woodvale area of the city, was beaten and shot six times in the upper body with a pellet gun after spending the evening with friends in the nationalist Lagmore estate area. A PSNI spokesman said officers are treating Wednesday night's attack at the site of the former Mackies factory as a sectarian hate crime. Last night the traumatised teenager told the Belfast Telegraph he thought the pellet gun one of the youths pulled on him was a real gun and that he feared he might be shot dead. "I was up in Lagmore with my mates then I got the bus down home," Jamie said. "I got off at the Royal (hospital) and walked up to Lanark Way gates but they were locked, so I walked up to Mackies and jumped over. "Then about five wee lads approached me and asked me where I was from. "I said Woodvale and one of them said 'say it again', and I said Woodvale. "One of them swung for me and kicked me to the ground. I have a bad bruise on my head. "I now know that it was a pellet gun that was pulled out but at the time I thought it was a real gun. He had pulled a mask over his face. They said to tell anyone else if they come down there this is going to happen."

Jamie has taken part in a number of cross-community programmes including a trip to New Orleans in the US through Corpus Christi and the Phoenix Centre. He currently feels too frightened to return to visit his Catholic friends in Lagmore but says he will not allow the youths who attacked him to stop him from being friends with them. Jamie also had this message for his attackers. "It is not like it used to be so why make enemies," he said. "We are not living in the past. We have moved on. "I would like to ask them why did they did it. I was only walking." Jamie's mother Sylvia said she does not want any other parent to go through what her family has been through over the last day and called for no retaliation. "I am drained," she said. "We have been overwhelmed, I am sickened. "That is where Jamie usually hangs about. He has more Catholic friends than Protestant. "I am so shocked, I think it is a disgrace this has happened in society. "We don't do religion, we are not bitter people, we have respect for everyone. "People were saying it makes them ashamed to be Catholics, but this was not done in the name of Catholics."

Sylvia would hate to think of another teenager going through the ordeal her son experienced and says she believes the psychological wounds will be tougher to heal than the physical bruises and cuts. "We are traumatised and I would never want another mother to go through this," she added. "The mental impact on Jamie is the worst thing."
© The Belfast Telegraph

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Northern Ireland:16-year-old shot by group of men in sectarian hate crime attack

He was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

20/6/2014- A number of men assaulted a 16-year-old in North Belfast last night. He was shot a number of times by a pellet gun on his upper body. He was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment, his injuries are not believed to be life threatening. At this stage police are treating the incident as a sectarian hate crime. It happened on the Ballygomartin Road at around 10:50pm. Anyone with any information about this incident is asked to contact police on the non-emergency number 101. Or if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details, they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously.
© The Journal Ireland

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UK: Killers jailed for 52 years for murder of Doncaster man

Two men and a woman found guilty of the murder of former Doncaster man Barry Smith in Derbyshire last autumn have been sentenced to life imprisonment.

19/6/2014- Vincent Aitken, aged 44, must serve a minimum of 22 years and 118 days while Nathan Doherty was sentenced to a minimum of 18 years 118 days. Emma Aitken, 19, must serve a minimum of 12 years. The charred body of 48-year-old Mr Smith, originally from Armthorpe, was discovered by local dog walkers outside Kilburn Welfare Social Club in the Amber Valley, Derbyshire, on the morning of October 6 last year. He had been beaten to death using pool cues and a fence post, and his body had been set alight. A post mortem examination revealed Mr Smith, of Kilburn, died as a result of blunt force trauma to his face. The three were found guilty of the murder at Leicester Crown Court - but Aitken’s wife Pamela Aitken, 40, was found not guilty of assisting an offender. The court heard the attack was carried out as a result of an incident in the club, where Pamela and Vincent Aitken were stewards, the previous week. Jurors were told Pamela repeatedly called Mr Smith a racist name derogatory to members of the travelling community. Mr Smith’s partner, Rowena Pearson, confronted Pamela and wrote a letter to the club’s committee. Pamela quit her role as stewardess before the committee meeting.

Mr Smith believed the incident had been resolved, and had been drinking in club the night before his death. But Doherty, Vincent Aitken and Emma Aitken carried out the assault in revenge for Pamela losing her job. Emma Aitken and Doherty were arrested after neighbours called police when they heard the couple arguing and starting a fire. They were burning clothes Vincent Aitken had been wearing during the assault. Mr Smith, described by his family as ‘a proud gypsy’, had lived in Kilburn for six years. In court to hear the verdict were his former wife, Dawn, his four children and members of his family who travelled to each day of the seven-week trial from their homes in Doncaster and North Lincolnshire. Mr Smith was dad to daughter Billy-Jo, 22, and sons Barrie-John, 20, Luke, 19, and Nathan, 16. He also had three grandchildren - Josephine-Star, two, Selina-Louise, one, and eight-month-old Arlie-John.
© The Doncaster Free Press

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UK: Tackling Anti-Muslim Hate Must Not Be an Afterthought (opinion)

By Fiyaz Mughal, Director of Faith Matters and the Tell MAMA project

19/6/2014- About a week ago, an Essex based male made threats to attack mosques on-line and was reported into Tell MAMA and in August 2013, Geoffrey Ryan, 44, of Brick Kiln Way, threw a smoke grenade through the window of the Al Falah mosque in Silks Way, Braintree and shouted threats whilst brandishing two kitchen knives in May 2013. This was in response to the murder of Lee Rigby in May 2013. Clearly the murder of 30-year-old Saudi national, Nahid Almanea weighs heavy on the minds of many and we are yet to see whether the murder was related to anti-Muslim hate, nonetheless, a picture is emerging from our data in Tell MAMA of the perpetrators of anti-Muslim hate being mainly male and between the ages of 17-40.

Sadly, on-line and off-line Islamophobic hate incidents and crimes into our project seem to show that a majority of the victims of these incidents are Muslim women and at a street level, it is visible Muslim women who are targeted for abuse, spitting and occasionally, assaults. Month after month of MET hate crime data over the last five months has shown that Islamophobic hate crimes when compared month by month between 2013 and 2014, show higher levels of reporting in across London Boroughs. The MET hate crime data releases also show that areas with high concentrations of Muslim residents are also not immune to raised levels of reported Islamophobic related hate crimes. The assumption made by some is that there may be 'strength in numbers' and that hate crimes may be lower in those areas. The MET data does not seem to support this assumption.

Taking into account the possibility that police forces may have conducted hate crime awareness drives in these London boroughs and the fact that charities working in this area may have added to the community awareness around reporting in anti-Muslim hate, we would expect a spike in reporting and then a downturn. What the MET figures show is that there are consistently higher levels of Islamophobic hate crimes in London when compared to 2013 figures and they remain stubbornly high in comparison to last year. We mapped some of this data and the information when displayed visually, shows an unsettling picture, even in our diverse capital.

After the murder of Lee Rigby, Tell MAMA was the only agency reporting that there was a spike in anti-Muslim hate related incidents and that we were receiving these reports straight after the brutal murder of Lee Rigby. They included off-line (street based) and on-line cases. Some two weeks later, the MET confirmed that there was a spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes that were being reported to them. In 2013, a set of Freedom of Information requests by the Associated Press and highlighted in the Guardian, brought out the fact that hate crimes had soared across over 20 forces that had responded back. Allied to this has been the fragmentation of the English Defence League and the emergence of new and more virulent forms of Far Right activism through groups like Britain First who have entered into mosques and cynically filmed degrading scenes where they berate senior citizens in the mosques. Britain First has been involved in mosque 'invasions' (their term, not ours) in Bradford, Tower Hamlets and more recently, in Luton.

We within Tell MAMA will be releasing an analysis of our 2013/2014 data, received from victims, (and which has been independently analysed by Teesside University), within the next three weeks. It will show, once again, that whilst the number of Far Right activists implicated in anti-Muslim hate incidents reported to us has dropped, a small number of Far Right activists are causing a disproportionate impact in terms of anti-Muslim hate incidents. The vast majority of the street based incidents involve males as the perpetrators, with a majority of victims being Muslim females. A majority of the victims are also aged between 21-40.

The real impact of such hate incidents cannot be measured apart from the impact on the victim. Yet such incidents have a strong impact on the communities being targeted, on their self-perceptions around identity and sometimes in re-enforcing what 'they' are and what 'we are.' There are clearly long term implications for cohesion and for community relations and that is why, as we move forward, we call for Police and Crime Commissioners and police forces across the country to place anti-Muslim hate at the heart of their hate crime strategies.

No longer can tackling anti-Muslim hate be an appendage or an after-thought on hate crime strategies and it must be placed front and centre with other protected strands so that citizens of our country, who happen to be Muslim, can live their lives free from bigotry, intolerance and hate targeted at them. It is the least that we would expect for anyone of us and it should be no different for Muslim communities across the UK.
© The Huffington Post - UK

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UK: Colchester murder: Religious hate crime a line of inquiry

A woman found killed in Colchester could have been "targeted because of her religion", police said.

18/6/2014- Essex Police say the woman, found on a footpath off Avon Way, is believed to have been a Saudi Arabian national studying at the University of Essex. The victim was found in clothes that "identified her as likely being a Muslim", police said. Officers said there was no evidence of it being a religious hate crime but it was "one of the main lines" of inquiry. Formal identification of the woman has yet to be carried out. It is believed a knife was used in the attack on Tuesday. A 52-year-old man, arrested in connection with the murder investigation, is being questioned. 

Det Supt Tracy Hawkings said: "We are obviously as concerned as the rest of the community about this murder. "We are... conscious that the dress of the victim will have identified her as likely being a Muslim and this is one of the main lines of the investigation. "But... there is no firm evidence at this time that she was targeted because of her religion." Det Supt Hawkings added: "We urgently need to speak to anyone who saw a woman in her early thirties walking through the Greenstead estate yesterday morning." The woman is believed to have left her home in Woodrow Way and then walked down across Avon Way on to the Salary Brook Trail. She was wearing a dark navy blue full-length robe and a patterned multi-coloured headscarf, police said.

The Saudi Arabian Embassy confirmed that Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz, ambassador to the UK, had contacted the woman's family. The woman had a brother living in the UK, the embassy added. Det Supt Hawkings added: "We urgently need to speak to anyone who saw a woman in her early thirties walking through the Greenstead estate yesterday morning.
© BBC News

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UK: Police appeal for information on a hate crime in St Helens

18/6/2014- Merseyside Police is appealing for information following an incident in St Helens that is being treated by the Force as a hate crime. At around 6.30pm on Thursday, 12 June a wheelchair user and his partner were travelling along the canal path near to Chalon Way when they were verbally abused by three teenage boys. Following the incident the offenders ran off towards the nearby KFC restaurant. Although uninjured the victims have been left shaken following the incident. The offenders are all described as being white and aged in their mid to late teens. Two of the youths were wearing black coloured tracksuits and one of them was wearing a blue coloured tracksuit.
© ITV

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Northern Ireland: "Racist" banners removed from house

Police have removed banners which have been described as "racist" from outside a house in east Belfast a Nigerian man was due to move into.

18/6/2014- Michael Abiona, who is 34, was met by around five people with banners reading 'local houses for local people' as he arrived at the property in Glenluce Drive on Tuesday. He said they asked how the Housing Executive home was allocated to him and if he was disabled. Mr Abiona, who has lived in Belfast for four years and is active in race relations, told UTV he is no longer planning to move into the area due to concerns about the safety of his son. He described the incident as "shameful". "I was met by about five people, three or four ladies and one man, sitting in front of the premises," Michael explained. "One of them told me have I not heard about it, that they were protesting concerning the premises that they only want locals to live in the place, that there are lots of local people who have been on the waiting list for more than nine years - how did I get it, what's my grounds?

"I applied for it as every normal person applied for it with the Housing Executive. One asked am I disabled and I said yes I am disabled. At the end of it all I left there. Then I called my son's mum who told me that it's not good at all and she's not going to allow our son to live in such a place." One of the women behind the protest said she believes the bunga-lows should be reserved for disabled or elderly people and not given to young families. Speaking to UTV off-camera, she said: "We are protesting because these bungalows are for disabled people and pensioners, they're not built for families. "We have disabled people and old people up here that have been waiting for years to try and get one of these and they're giving them to young families which is not acceptable. "I did not know who was moving in, all I heard was it's a young family." She told UTV protestors were "horrified that this has come across as racial". "We're actually sickened by it."

The incident has been reported to the PSNI and officers are conducting inquires. The banners were removed on Wednesday morning. A spokesperson for the PSNI said: "Police in east Belfast received a report of an incident in the Glenluce Drive area on Tuesday 17 June. Enquiries into the incident are ongoing." Meanwhile the incident has been condemned by politicians. DUP First Minister Peter Robinson added: "We want to build a respectful and tolerant society in Northern Ireland where everyone can live, work and play in complete freedom in the knowledge that they are welcome here." Sinn Féin deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness tweeted: "The racist intimidation of Michael Abiona at the house allocated to him in E.Belfast is shameful & must be opposed & condemned by everyone."

Alliance MP Naomi Long said: "Any right-thinking person will condemn this blatantly racist behaviour and I have no doubt the vast majority of residents in the area will be sickened by it. Rather than Mr Abiona and his family, it is this kind of vile behaviour that should be unwelcome in our society." SDLP leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell said: "The people who intimidated Mr Abiona from his home are not defenders of human rights as their banners attempt to portray. "Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Race hate crime has soared over the past year. We must not allow ourselves to become sanitized to the despicableness of racism, there should never be a culture here that dilutes racism or attempts to qualify it."

UUP MLA Danny Kinahan said: "It is completely unacceptable that anyone should be targeted because of their race, religion or nationality. "The Ulster Unionist Party has been absolutely consistent in its stance that no-one should be subjected to physical or verbal abuse or have their home attacked, or live in fear of such attacks which are all to be condemned utterly and without reservation."
© UTV News

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The warning comes as Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) launches a new report documenting 32 incidents of violence or discrimination.

18/6/2014- A lack of hate crime legislation has given Irish society a “permission to hate”, researchers have said. The warning comes as Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) launches a new report documenting 32 incidents of violence or discrimination against transgender people in Ireland. The vast majority of these were verbal abuse or insults, but incidents of violence and sexual harassment were also recorded. “Went to Pride for the first time, and then I went to the village area at Merrion Square. There were outdoor separate toilets so I queued and went into one of the toilets,” one respondent said, “the door was repeatedly kicked and the toilet rocked violently by a woman calling out ‘gay man’, ‘tranny’. When I left there was lots of people there, no one said anything or did anything to help."

A 43-year-old lesbian trans woman reported being threatened with a sledge hammer by their neighbour, while a 51-year-old female suffered from depression, paranoia, and insomnia following a separate attack. Speaking at a panel ahead of the report’s launch, Jennifer Schweppe, co-director of the Hate and Hostility research group at the University of Limerick, noted that Ireland is coming under increased pressure to introduce laws making such abuse a crime. “Ireland is almost unique in western democracies in not having hate crime legislation. The absence of such legislation has led to a situation where we as a society have given a ‘permission to hate’.

The report also highlights a mixed attitude towards reporting these crimes to gardaí. More than half said they had not for a range of reasons from fear to believing that nothing would be done. Speaking ahead of the report’s launch today, Garda Superintendent Karl Heller advised anyone who experiences transphobic abuse to contact a local Garda station, to a local LGBT liaison officer or to contact the National LGBT Liaison Officer. “Any crime against a member of the trans community is crime against wider society,” he said. The report recommends more training for gardaí and the PSNI, to introduce hate crime legislation, and for the “value of trans and LGB communities nationwide” to be realised.
© The Journal Ireland

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Ireland: They banged on my door and shouted 'nigger'

A foreign taxi driver is planning to leave the country after a terrifying and racially motivated petrol bomb attack on his home.

15/6/2014- Happy Agamah (63), who is a German citizen, was asleep in his ground floor apartment home in Rathfarnham, south Dublin, when thugs set fire to a fuel-soaked mattress and smashed his bedroom window. A shed outside his window caught fire and was destroyed in the blaze. He said he is lucky to be alive after the attack and is now planning to return to Germany, where he grew up and spent 47 years of his life and worked as an engineer. Mr Agamah told the Sunday Independent: "I never experienced anything like this in Germany. I was in the bedroom when they set fire to the mattress. I have had many incidents since coming here. They have banged on my door at night and shout 'come out nigger ... you niggers come here to take our jobs.' "There were three or four of them on Sunday night. The guards came, but they did not take any statement from me. When my car was damaged they took no statement. "There was an incident when there was a girl lying unconscious on the pavement. She was drunk and these men asked me to lift her up but I said they should call an ambulance.

They attacked me and after that they smashed my car. They called me a nigger bastard and say 'get out of our country'." A neighbour in the Glenmore Estate said the attacks are part of a racially motivated campaign against Mr Agamah. There were three attacks on Mr Agamah's home last Sunday night and early Monday morning when the blaze was started. The first took place around 11pm on Sunday when a man attempted to set another fire in a plastic paint container and smashed the back door to the corridor outside his apartment. Gardai were alerted to that but left shortly after arriving, according to one neighbour. There was a second incident with more damage done to the apartment just before 1am on Monday and gardai were again called to the scene by neighbours.

An hour after the gardai left for the second time the fire was started and the fire brigade had to be called as neighbours feared it would spread to the apartment building. The attempt to burn Mr Agamah's apartment in the Glenmore estate was the latest in a series of racially motivated incidents against the taxi driver. Two months ago his Mercedes car was badly damaged and an attempt was made to smash in his front door with a hammer. Mr Agamah, who grew up and lived in Hamburg for 47 years, worked for Daimler Chrysler, but came to Dublin after being laid off at a time when the car industry was in recession. He found an engineering job here with a US firm, part of the IBM group. His contract ended just as the recession struck in 2008 and he could find no other engineering work so began driving a taxi. He said he preferred to work as he does not like the idea of living on social welfare.

A neighbour, who asked not to be identified, told the Sunday Independent: "I called the guards three times on Sunday night. The flames from the fire were shooting up to the roof. We were afraid it could get in under the eaves and spread across the roof space. People could have been killed. "This shouldn't happen to anyone. It's horrible. The guards didn't ask me for a statement. I was outside. They didn't ask for my contact details." Mr Agamah said he has experienced repeated instan-ces of racism in his work driving a taxi and stopped picking up fares in central Dublin after he was attacked and beaten up on the Liffey Quays two years ago. He works mainly in the suburbs now. The Garda Press office said gardai from Rathfarnham station are investigating the incident and arrested a 36-year-old woman who was released after questioning. They said investigations are "ongoing".
© The Irish Independent

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Macedonia Awaits Verdict in Ethnically-Charged Murder Trial

The verdict in the trial of a group of alleged Albanian extremists, accused of killing five Macedonians in a case that sparked ethnic tensions and violent protests, is expected soon.

18/6/2014- The criminal court in Skopje said that the verdict will be delivered on June 30 after it was unexpectedly postponed on Wednesday because the trial judge fell ill. Fears have been raised that there could be another outbreak of inter-ethnic unrest after the judgement in the high-profile murder case, which has been dubbed ‘Monster’ by police. Agim Ismailovic, Fejzi Aziri, Rami Sejdi, Haki Aziri and Sami Ljuta are on trial for alleged terrorism. The two other suspects in the case, Alil Demiri and Afrim Ismailovic, are in prison in Kosovo, where they are serving jail terms for the illegal possession of weapons. According to the charges, the two fugitives, Alil Demiri and Afrim Ismailovic, killed five Macedonians with automatic rifles near Skopje during Orthodox Easter in 2012, while the other five men provided logistical support. The prosecution has demanded life sentences for the men.

Prosecutor Gordana Geskovska told the court at the beginning of this month that the murder was an act of terror carried out in order to provoke ethnic strife between the Macedonian majority and the large Albanian minority. Geskovska said that message delivered by the killers was: “We shoot on Maundy Thursday so that you will have a bloody Easter. We shoot at young males in order to destroy your faith and nation and the future of the country.” The defence has called for the group’s acquittal. Defence lawyer Naser Raufi told the court in his closing arguments on Thursday that the seven accused had nothing to do with the murder. He dismissed prosecution claims that the defendants were terrorists and raised doubts about the forensic material presented by the prosecution. “How can the prosecution tell who used which weapons? There is no ‘paraffin glove’ [a method that investigates traces of gunfire gases on the hands of the suspects], no weapons, no DNA. Was the prosecutor psychic? Nobody saw the murder,” Raufi said.

The defendants in their closing statements to the court also said they were innocent. “I refute the accusations. I don't feel guilty. When we were detained by the police we were beaten and molested... I swear to god that I have not committed such a criminal act,” said Agim Ismailovic. “For me this is a completely staged case right from the start. I completely reject any guilt over the murder... The prosecution did not offer a single piece of evidence that we are a terrorist group and that we wanted to kill the young Macedonians,” said Fejzi Aziri. The corpses of Filip Slavkovski, Aleksandar Nakjevski, Cvetanco Acevski and Kire Trickovski, all aged between 18 and 20, were discovered on April 12, 2012. Their bodies had been lined up and appeared to have been executed. The body of 45-year-old Borce Stevkovski was found a short distance away from the others.

News of the murder raised ethnic tensions, after groups of ethnic Macedonians staged protests, some of which turned violent, blaming the killings on members of the country’s large Albanian minority community. During a recent visit to Macedonia, the OSCE’s High Commissioner on National Minorities, Astrid Thors, said she was worried that the trial could spark further tension. “We will recommend to political leaders to make a joint call for restraint and for calm in order to avoid any disturbances,” Thors said. But in the days before the verdict, no senior political leader has made any appeal for calm. In 2001, Macedonia went through a brief armed conflict between ethnic Albanian insurgents and the security forces. The conflict ended the same year with the signing of a peace deal that increased Albanian rights. Albanians make up a quarter of the country’s 2.1 million population.
© Balkan Insight

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Netherlands: Amsterdam Gay Man Loses Hearing in Anti-Gay Attack

17/6/2014- A gay man temporarily lost his hearing after he was attacked in Amsterdam on June 15, Gay Star News reports (via Amsterdam newspaper Het Parool). The 25-year-old man, known as "Ronald," said he was walking with his boyfriend around 12:30 a.m. on Sunday when a group of four men in their 20s noticed that Ronald and his boyfriend were embracing each other. That’s what allegedly prompted them to yell anti-gay slurs at the couple. "Dirty homos!" one man shouted. "Faggot cancer!" another said. "Thank you, what a lovely compliment," Ronald replied back. He told the Het Parool, a newspaper in Amsterdam, he was surprised the men attacked him because he says he did not yell at the group or shout any insults at them.

Ronald said he turned away after one of the men ran up to him and violently threatened him. "I turned away and was hit on the side of my face, on my jaw and ear. It was so hard that three piercings were beaten out of my ear," he said.

When he was knocked to the ground, he was kicked twice before the attacker ran away with the other men. Ronald reported the incident to the police and then went to the hospital where doctors told him his injuries were not serious and his hearing would return. Ronald says his hearing returned Monday night. Police have images of the suspects and will reveal them to the public if necessary. Ronald says the attack was inevitable even though the Netherlands has some of the most LGBTQ inclusive laws in the world. "It had to happen sometime," he told the newspaper. "’Let this then be my time. I have heard so often from friends recently that they have been hit in the city."
© The Edge Boston

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OSCE/ODIHR launches Hate Crime Reporting website

17/6/2014- The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) today launched its Hate Crime Reporting website, transforming its annual hate crime report into an interactive and user-friendly resource. The new website, which can be found at http://hatecrime.osce.org/, provides users with all of the materials and data contained in the paper report – “Hate Crimes in the OSCE Region – Incidents and Responses” – bringing together information provided by OSCE participating States, international organizations and civil society.

“This new instrument strengthens our role in collecting data on hate crime and in increasing public awareness of these crimes,” said Ambassador Janez Lenarčič, Director of ODIHR. “Ordinary citizens can now find information about their country and read ODIHR’s observations on that information in relation to OSCE commitments.” Designed to complement the ODIHR website, the new platform presents hate crime data collected from across the OSCE region, organized thematically and by country.

“We are proud to unveil this new tool, which will help promote understanding of hate crime”, said Floriane Hohenberg, Head of the Tolerance and Non-discrimination department at ODIHR. “The data collected by ODIHR is now accessible to all users, and not just the expert community.” The new website is part of ODIHR’s work in assisting governments in meeting their commitment as OSCE participating States to combat hate crime.
© The OSCE/ODIHR

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Racism in Northern Ireland: up to three race-related incidents reported daily

Report also finds 12 out of reported 14,000 race hate crimes in region over last five years resulted in successful prosecutions.

17/6/2014- Up to three race-related incidents are now being reported to the police in Northern Ireland every single day, a new study of racism in the region has found. But only 12 out of a reported 14,000 race hate crimes in Northern Ireland over the last five years have resulted in successful prosecutions, according to a report backed by the power-sharing administration in Belfast. Despite an increase in racist attacks in the first six months of this year, so far the police clear-up rate for race hate crimes is just over 8% of incidents reported between January and April 2014, the report reveals. The annual Human Rights and Racial Equality Benchmarking Report 2013/2014, released on Tuesday, points out that there were 982 racist incidents in 2013-14 while there were 750 such incidents in 2012-2013.

The report's authors also reveal the nature of the attacks, mainly concentrated in the Greater Belfast area, since the start of 2014. These include:
• January 2014: four vehicles were burned out across North Belfast with Slovakian, Afghan and Polish families targeted by arsonists. In two cases households were forced to flee in order to protect their children.
• March 2014: a Polish family living on the Rathcoole estate on the northern outskirts of Belfast were terrorised out of their home by a loyalist gang who broke their windows and used a pipe bomb to destroy a car beside the property.
• May 2014: a Romanian cyclist has excrement thrown at him while travelling along Newtownards Road in east Belfast. In the same area a Jamaican family in the north of the city are attacked.
• June 2014: Two Pakistani men flee their home in north Belfast after first their windows were smashed and later the following day, the pair were physically attacked outside the property.

The survey, which was commissioned by the Northern Ireland Council For Ethnic Minorities (Nicem), also found that racism has supplanted traditional sectarianism as the main reason for employees being harassed, bullied or threatened in the region's workplaces. It noted that over the last five years 75% of all complaints about harassment in the office, shop or factory to the Equality Commission in Northern Ireland are related to racial abuse and intimidation. Yet while over the last year Northern Ireland has become one of the worst hot spots for racist crimes and race-hate linked incidents, the authors of the report say that the region is home to only 1% of all the non-EU/European Economic Area migrants who have come into the UK.

As well as giving a wide ranging picture of racist abuse, intimidation and discrimination against immigrants, the report also assesses the status of the Irish Traveller community in Northern Ireland. The report's authors note that 92% of Traveller children leave school in the region without any qualifications. Overall, in local schools, the report reveals that 75% of children from ethnic minority groups experience derogatory racist name calling and that 42% of minority ethnic 16-year-old students had been "a victim of racist bullying or harassment in their school". Nicem's director, Patrick Yu, said the 104-page report was "very timely" given the recent spate of high-profile racist attacks and the furore over Pastor John McConnell's outburst against Islam, which embroiled the first minister, Peter Robinson, in alleged anti-Muslim remarks. Both the first minister and McConnell apologised for their comments, with Robinson issuing his apology on the steps of Belfast Islamic Centre last month.

Yu said that the report "highlights deficiencies and underlying gaps in the protection of ethnic minorities in NI across all the key policy areas. Such deficiencies must be rectified if we are to tackle the underlying inequalities and prejudices that causes hate crime in Northern Ireland." He called on the coalition at Stormont to publish its racial equality strategy in the light of this report and its findings. Yu said the strategy must be implemented because this report "maps all the current racial inequalities in Northern Ireland that breach international human rights standards". According to the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister in Northern Ireland, the devolved government's anti-racism strategy will be published shorty.

In response to the latest spike in racist violence and intimidation, most of it but not all concentrated in loyalist working-class ares, the Police Service of Northern Ireland has launched Operation Reiner. The PSNI said that since May there have been 13 arrests in connection with race-related incidents in the Greater Belfast area.
© The Guardian

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Norway: Top Oslo imam wounded in axe attack

The imam of Oslo's main mosque was recuperating in hospital on Tuesday after a masked assailant repeatedly hacked him with a small axe or knife in the centre of the Norwegian capital.

17/6/2014- Nemat Ali Shah, 57, was attacked as he returned home from the Central Jamaat Ahle-Sunnat mosque late on Monday, suffering serious wounds to his face and hands. The religious leader was in a stable condition on Tuesday after undergoing an operation on Monday night, and was soon to be discharged from hospital. Police on Tuesday said they were treating the attack as a murder attempt, but stressed that they did not yet know whether the attack was a hate crime carried out by anti-Islamic extremists, or somehow tied up to his position at the mosque. "It is too early to say anything about it," Grete Lien Metlid, head of the violent and sexual crimes unit at the Oslo police said in a press conference. "It may be a hate crime, but we have no evidence to say anything more about that now, or about whether the attack was linked to his work as an imam."

Metlid noted that there had been clashes in 2005 and 2006 over his position as imam, which had previously led to violence. She said that she hoped police would be able to start questioning Shah later today. She would not confirm whether he had been attacked with an axe or a knife, saying on that it was "a sharp object". Police said that the attacker had been wearing a green and black jacked, a hooded top, blacking jogging pants and white and grey shoes. According to Aftenposten newspaper Shah was attacked after he left his home 50 metres from the mosque to go and lead the evening prayers. When he did not show up, those gathered to pray tried calling his mobile phone and raised the alarm when he did not answer. By that time, he had already been able to crawl back into his home, where he was picked up by an ambulance.

Ghulam Sarwar, the mosque's chairman, said that Shah had been hit on one side of his face, and wounded under one eye. "He also had injuries to his fingers and hands, which suggests that he tried to defend himself with his fists," Sarwar told Aftenposten. The mosque has been both the focus of internal conflict within the Muslim community, and attacks by far-right, anti-Islamic extremists. Last September, a pig's head was left outside the mosque on Friday, the day most Muslims go to pray. The same month, another of Oslo's mosques, The World Islamic Mission mosque, received an email threatening a campaign of mosque-burning across Norway.

During a dispute over the leadership of the mosque in 2006, four Muslim men attacked the congregation with a cricket bat, hammer, and knives during prayer time, injuring four people. However, Sarwar told NRK that the imam had no known conflicts with anyone today. "We are not aware that our imam has any conflicts with anyone, and he has not received any threats," he said. "We are very shocked."
© The Local - Norway

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France: Family of teenage Roma victim beaten up in Paris is 'terrified' and in hiding

Boy who was beaten to a pulp by thugs is still in a coma in Paris hospital

20/6/2014- The family of the Roma teenager lynched by vigilantes are hiding in fear for their lives in a derelict warehouse in the northern suburbs of Paris, the Telegraph learned yesterday. "They are terrified. Those people came wearing balaclavas and with sawn-off shotguns," said Julie Launois, a lawyer representing the family. "They are protecting themselves while the perpetrators are still at large." Police have made no arrests in the case that shocked France and sparked accusations that government policy towards the Roma was creating a "toxic atmosphere" fostering hatred towards the 20,000-strong community. Pictures obtained by the Telegraph showed the boy slumped unconscious in the supermarket trolley where his attackers dumped him. The teenager was still in a medically-induced coma on Friday, with two police officers by his side in the Paris hospital where he is being treated. Doctors have said it was not certain he would pull through.

The Telegraph located the warehouse where his family have taken refuge. They live there with other Roma families in makeshift huts in the courtyard or in the derelict building itself. The tall metal gate to the courtyard was firmly shut, and attempts to talk with the family were met with hostility. A woman identified by a former neighbour of the victim as the teenager's mother was seen in the courtyard, but refused to be interviewed. His father appears to no longer with them. A source close to the case told AFP news agency that the boy, previously named as Darius, is in fact called Gheorghe C. and is aged 17, and not 16 as previously stated. The source said he had escaped from a psychiatric centre in Romania to join his family in France, travelling with fake identity papers. Another source told AFP that the woman looking after him was not his natural but his adoptive mother.

Ms Launois, the lawyer, said the family would remain in France as long as their boy was recovering, and would decide later whether to return to their native Romania. "They are taking things day by day," she said. Darius was snatched from the camp he was living in late last Friday by a mob of about 20 vigilantes, who accused the teenager of burgling a nearby flat. The boy's family had been living in the camp, located in an abandoned house, for about three weeks. They were evicted from their previous encampment in the poor Saint-Denis area north of Paris. Saint-Denis has the highest concentration of Roma in France. Riot police regularly move in to demolish the Roma camps, which usually lack electricity or running water. They are often built on the sides of motorways, in parking lots, or along the banks of canals.

Government orders state that when a Roma camp is cleared, officials should offer alternative housing for its residents, and make sure that children are transferred to another school. But Amnesty International and other rights groups say that these guidelines are mostly ignored. Critics say government policy has stigmatised the Roma, who are frequently accused of burglaries and of running child pickpocket rings. France's prime minister, Manuel Valls, came under stinging criticism late last year when, as interior minister, he said most Roma in France had no intention of integrating, and should be sent back to their countries of origin. François Hollande, France's socialist President, has continued the controversial policies towards the Roma begun under his conservative predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, demolishing camps and sending many back to their home countries. Last year, a total of 19,380 Roma were deported, but many have since likely returned to France.
© The Telegraph

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France shocked by violence against Roma

A Roma boy was brutally tortured in a Paris suburb because locals took him for an intruder. The violence has reignited the debate on the Roma minority in France.

20/6/2014- The British Daily Telegraph newspaper was first to publish the photo. It showed the 16-year-old Darius crammed into a shopping cart, his face barely recognizable, swollen and bloody, his clothes torn and dirty. He was found by passersby after a dozen men abducted him, tortured him in a cellar, before finally leaving him unconscious in the shopping cart - a case of lynch justice that has shaken France. Darius is one of a group of Roma who appeared in the Pierrefitte-sur-Seine district three weeks ago and built an illegal camp out of corrugated iron and scrap wood around an empty house - not far from a district ironically called "Cité des poètes". Darius' as-yet-unknown attackers apparently took him for an intruder. The boy has been put in an artificial coma because of the severe pain he was in, and doctors are still not sure he will survive. The Darius case has reignited the debate about how France treats its Roma minority and the dramatic situation in the "banlieue" suburbs, where the police seem powerless in the face of vigilante criminal justice systems.

Lawless zones
It is a decade since the banlieues actually burnt - 10,000 cars were set on fire throughout the country. It was a scream of outrage in the depressing, dilapidated high-rise complexes, where despair reigns among young people who feel socially marginalized often slide into crime. The then-Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy coined the phrase "zero tolerance," and promised a clamp down on violence. For socially deprived young people, many of them children of immigrants from France's former colonies in Africa, Sarkozy and his supporters became figures of hate. They still see the police as enemies in the battle for control of their districts, and indeed many officers refuse to patrol certain areas.

That has created lawless zones where inhabitants live by their own rules. The left-wing daily Le Monde recently tried to explain the social climate in the Cité des poètes through statistics: those living in poverty (50 percent), welfare recipients (23 percent), people of immigrant background (33 percent), and the undereducated (75 percent). The case of Darius reflects two central problems in French society that have clashed in tragic fashion - the unsustainable situation in the banlieues and the inhumane treatment of the Roma. The illegal Roma camps at the city limits are also largely lawless. Pierrefitte Mayor Michel Foucarde said the people in his community have been reporting increased theft since the arrival of the Roma, who parked their vehicles at the entrances to the Cité. In the morning after the attack, the group had abandoned the camp.

Hollande continues hardline policy
Le Monde quoted one inhabitant of Pierrefitte-sur-Seine who did not hide his satisfaction at the departure of the Roma. "They're in the same bad situation as us, but they steal everything from us," he told the paper. But the images are also a reminder of the regular clearances of Roma camps carried out by the French police, which the European Commission repeatedly condemned - though  the criminal procedure it once promised is yet to materialize. The case of a young Roma girl raised similar concerns last year. In October 2013, the 15-year-old Leonarda Dibrani was picked up by the police during a school excursion and extradited to her country of origin - Kosovo - along with her family, because they had given false information to the asylum authorities.

The extradition was legal on paper, but President Francois Hollande came under pressure because his center-left government simply continued the hard-line policies of its predecessors, despite promises to the contrary. In times when the populist far-right National Front of Marine Le Pen can win the European election in France, Hollande is eager to prove that he can provide law and order. Ever since the Leonarda affair, circumstances for Roma in France have barely changed, though charities still attempt to improve the humanitarian situation in the camps by providing food and water.

Understanding the criminals
But the underlying question remains unanswered - can Roma be integrated into French society? Following the Leonarda affair, the current prime minister and former interior minister, Manuel Valls, described the Roma as people with "significantly different lifestyles," and that it would be "an illusion to believe that we can simply solve the Roma problem through integration." For that reason, the Roma should go back where they come from and integrate themselves there. After the lynch-attack on Darius, both Valls and Hollande emphasized their outrage at the violence, while the French media are debating who is at fault when parallel societies establish themselves and the state and its security forces apparently have no control. The reactions in social networks and online news portals were often racist and included expressions of support for Darius' torturers. "If the state can't provide security, it's only logical that people will practice vigilante justice," one French Twitter user wrote. What dangers that view brings with it has become clear in the past few days.
© The Deutsche Welle.

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Assault happened after boy, 16, accused of stealing in Pierrefitte-sur-Seine; He was discovered in a supermarket trolley near the camp where he lived; Boy's mother tells detectives vigilantes asked her for £12,000; The demand was later reduced to £4,000, but was not paid; President Hollande describes attack as 'unspeakable and unjustifiable'; Doctors have placed the youngster in a medically induced coma

19/6/2014- These are the shocking pictures of a Roma teenager who was beaten and left for dead in a supermarket trolley. Vigilantes kidnapped the 16-year-old boy, known only as Darius, from the camp he shares with his family near the northern commuter town of Pierrefitte-sur-Seine on the outskirts of Paris. The thugs rang the youngster's mother demanding a €12,000 ransom for the safe return of her son. The figure was later reduced to €4,000, but when it was not paid, the gang battered Darius before dumping him in a shopping trolley before leaving it on the roadside.

The 16-year-old boy known only as Darius, pictured, was found dumped in a shopping trolley near the camp where he lives with his family in Paris Members of the youngster's family found him in a shopping trolley that had been dumped on the roadside near the camp on the outskirts of Paris

Doctors in a Paris hospital have placed Darius in a medically induced coma following Friday's brutal assault, which has left him fighting for his life. Police confirmed that Darius was set upon on Friday night by a ‘dozen masked men on waste ground around Pierrefitte,’ according to a police source. The boy's mother has told detectives that she received a call from the vigilantes on his abandoned mobile phone. The shocking photographs first appeared on The Telegraph. They were first alleged to have asked for around £12,000 before reducing the demand to around £4,000, saying he would be hurt if the ransom was not met. Nothing was paid in the end, and Darius was left in the trolley close to the illegal Roma camp in the northern suburb of Pierrefitte where he lived, according to local prosecutor Sylvie Moisson. Ms Moisson said Darius was held in a basement by men wearing masks and carrying weapons after he was linked to a burglary. Calling the attack 'an act of barbarism', she said the burglar's description fitted that of Darius, who was 'quickly hunted, kidnapped, held, beaten and left to die.'

It was his mother who reported the attack, and the victim was found shortly after 11pm on Friday. A spokesman for the Lariboisiere hospital in Paris said Darius was still in a 'chemically induced coma' because of the pain he was experiencing. French president Francois Hollande said the incident was an 'unspeakable and unjustifiable attack on all the principles on which our republic was founded'. In turn, critics said Mr Hollande's government had stigmatised the Roma. Prime minister Manuel Valls last year insisted that the Roma 'could not integrate' and should be sent back to Romania or Bulgaria, even though many are EU citizens. Charity and human rights groups were furious in April when a leaked police memo called for the 'systematic eviction' of Roma from Paris. A spokesman for Charity group Catholic Help described the note as a 'scandal', saying that it 'stigmatised a poor community' and amounted to 'racial profiling'- something which is illegal in secular France. Prime Minister Valls has continued a policy started by former president Nicolas Sarkozy of razing Roma camps, and trying to deport as many of their occupants as possible.

This has led to protests from a number of human rights groups, including Amnesty International, which points out that most Roma France are Romanian or Bulgarian and as such are EU citizens with the right to live and work in the country. In 2011, France's then Interior Minister Claude Gueant said the notoriously poor and corrupt eastern European states were responsible for exporting some of the most notorious sneak thieves in the world. It has led to Romanian police arriving in Paris to support their French counterparts in clampdowns on the Roma.
© The Daily Mail

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France: a young Roma in a coma after a lynching

17/6/2014- A Roma (Gypsy) teenager was fighting for his life Tuesday after a gang assault – which the French press described as a lynching – in Paris’s troubled Seine-Saint-Denis suburb. The 16-year old, who was found unconscious in an abandoned shopping trolley, received summary justice after he was accused of burgling an apartment just hours earlier. "A group of several people came to find him in the camp where he lived and took him away by force," a police source told AFP, adding that the boy was then locked in a basement where he was violently beaten. Another source close to the case said about "a dozen people" took part in the attack. It was the boy's mother who alerted police that her son had been kidnapped. A judicial source, also requesting anonymity, said the boy's "life is in danger. He is in a coma." Michel Fourcade, the mayor of Pierrefitte-sur-Seine, the rough government housing project where the attack took place, said the teenager was known to police and had been questioned a number of times this month in connection with a string of robberies. This had fuelled anger towards the Roma, an ethnic minority also known as Gypsies, whose illegal camps on the fringes of towns and cities has often spurred controversy in France.

Roma group de-camped
Ion Vardu, who lives next to the Roma camp of the victim, told AFP that some 200 members of the traditionally nomadic community had arrived "three weeks ago”. On Monday, the camp lay abandoned, rubbish, clothing and mattresses strewn around the site after the Roma's rapid departure in the wake of the attack on the teenager. "They left immediately," said Vardu. On Tuesday, French President François Hollande called the attack an “unspeakable and unjustifiable attack on all the principles on which our republic was founded”. Head of the district council Stephane Troussel condemned a "heinous attack in the guise of vengeance”. "The French republic owes protection to everyone, no matter where they live and what their origin."

French rights group SOS Racism called the attack the "obvious result of nauseating tensions faced by our fellow citizens." "We expect a radical change in discourse and an extremely clear denunciation of the violence they are facing," said Benjamin Abtan, head of the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement (EGAM). France has also faced mounting criticism over its treatment of the Roma minority, having evicted a record 19,380 members of the community from camps in 2013. The issue gained international attention and sparked protests after a 15-year-old Roma girl was taken by authorities during a school trip in October and deported along with her family to Kosovo.
© France 24.

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France: Men, apparently armed, threaten Paris cops outside synagogue

16/6/2014- Two men pointed what appeared to be firearms at police stationed outside a Paris synagogue in one of several anti-Semitic incidents in and near the French capital. The incident involving the police officers occurred Saturday outside the synagogue on Julien Lacroix Street in eastern Paris, according to a report posted the following day on the website of the National League for Vigilance Against anti-Semitism, or BVCA. The two men approached the police officers on motorcycles when one of them produced what appeared to be a handgun, pointed it at one police officer and shouted “bang bang.” His accomplice did the same with what appeared to be an AK-47 assault rifle before escaping. The synagogue was empty at the time.

Other incidents included two assaults of Jews on the subway. On June 12, the anti-Semitic taunting by three passengers against a Jewish man and woman escalated into a physical assault of the man, according to the BNVCA report. An hour earlier, a Jewish girl, 14, was assaulted while traveling on a subway to her Jewish school in northeastern Paris. Three young girls and an adolescent, whom she described as having African and Middle Eastern appearance, pushed the girl around and said “f*** your whole race.” Also Saturday, various objects including a knife were hurled into the interior yard of a synagogue in Garges les Gonesses, a northern suburb of Paris. The objects were thrown down at the synagogue from apartments around the place of worship, BNVCA wrote. The synagogue was not damaged and no one was hurt.
© JTA News

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Belgium: School bus in Antwerp carrying Jewish children stoned in anti-Jewish attack

16/6/2014- A school bus in Antwerp, that was carrying ultra-Orthodox Jewish children was stoned by a group of Muslim teens, behadrei haredim reported. The incident unfolded on Sunday afternoon, when the group of Muslim children surrounded the bus that was carrying students of Antwerp Hayder. A security source said that the children, all about 5 years old, returned from a swimming pool when they were attacked. The driver stopped the bus, and realized that the children who live near the swimming pool, decided to attack the bus. Luckily, no one was injured, but the teacher decided to file a complaint with police. The police arrived at the scene, investigated the incident, and collected surveillance footage from the area in order to identify the attackers. So far, no arrests have been made.
© Your Jewish News

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Austria: Gay politician attacked at rainbow parade

Austria's first openly gay politician, leader of the Austrian Greens' delegation to the EU parliament Ulrike Lunacek was the apparent victim of an attack at Friday's annual Rainbow Parade in Vienna.

15/6/2014- An unknown assailant sprayed butyric acid at the politician as she was giving an interview on the sidelines of the parade. Lunacek and the interview team were not injured. The acid damaged the Greens MP's clothes and the camera equipment. According to police spokeswoman Barbara Riehs, the acid caused around €50,000 worth of damage to the electronic equipment. The attacker had not yet been found on Sunday. "Never before has there been an attack at the Rainbow Parade," said Lunacek at the end of the event at Vienna's City Hall. These kinds of isolated cases showed that the fight for tolerance, acceptance and respect in Austria was not over. People who spread fear and hate needed to be opposed, she added. Homosexuals and transgender people needed to combat fear and show that they were not only part of society, but at the centre of it, said the EU MP.

The attacker was wearing a white polo shirt, had dark hair and according to police, "a rather solid stature." Around 150,000 people took part in the parade, making it the most successful one to date, said organiser Christian Hoegl from the Homosexual Initiative (HOSI) Vienna. The parade was held on the Ring, which encircles Vienna's historic centre. A fundamental Christian counter-demonstration called "March for the Family" took place near St. Stephan's cathedral in central Vienna. The approximately 50 demonstrators were met by another counter movement under the motto of "Love Sexuality - Fight Sexism". The 200 protesters blocked the fundamentalists, who march against the Rainbow Parade every year. Five of the pro-parade demonstrators were arrested.

Butyric acid has a powerful odour. According to Wikipedia, the substance has also been used as a stink bomb by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to disrupt Japanese whaling crews, as well as by anti-abortion protesters to disrupt abortion clinics. Butyric acid is rated as a toxic substance by the US EPA.
© The Local - Austria

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Headlines 13 June, 2014

Report: Gang of youths taser French Jew at Paris monument

11/6/2014- French police are looking into reports that a gang of youths tasered a Jewish teenager in central Paris. The National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA, said it had contacted police based on reports in the French Jewish media of the alleged assault, which according to the news site Alliance.fr occurred Tuesday at the iconic Place de La Republique square. According to the report, a group of six black teenagers used an electric taser on a Jewish boy identified by Alliancefr.com only by his first name, Raphael. He was wearing a kippah and tzitzit and was attacked for his Jewish appearance in an apparent anti-Semitic assault, Alliancefr reported. A passer-by intervened and the gang left the scene before police could apprehend them, according to the news website. One of the gang members was armed with a club.

The report came amid a series of anti-Semitic incidents in the Paris area, including two beatings in Creteil last month and a similar incident in Sarcelles. On Monday, Stars of David were spray-painted on several houses belonging to Jews in Gradignan near Bordeaux in southwestern France, the news site alyaexpress-news.com reported. “Anti-Semitic incidents are an almost daily occurrence in France,” BNVCA President Sammy Ghozlan told JTA. “They are becoming more frequent and whereas the targets used to be synagogues, now there are more physical assaults on people, young religious Jews.”

Ghozlan noted the current string of incidents could be a resurgence of anti-Semitic violence in the wake of the murder of four people on May 24 at the Jewish Museum of Belgium in central Brussels. Belgian and French authorities suspect the shooter was a 29-year-old jihadist. “After every major act of violence committed recently, we’ve felt an increase in attacks, including the 2012 Toulouse attack,” Ghozlan said in reference to the murder of three children and a rabbi at a Jewish school by a Muslim radical. “Sadly, these murders inspire the admirers of the killers to imitate their actions.” While far-right nationalists such as Jean-Marie Le Pen “certainly produce anti-Semitic hate speech, the vast majority of physical attacks are committed by Muslims,” Ghozlan said.

SPCJ, the security unit of France’s Jewish communities, recorded 90 anti-Semitic acts within 10 days of the March 19 murders in Toulouse — part of a 58 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in 2012 over 2011.
© JTA News

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Scotland: Hate crimes based on sexuality up a quarter in latest figures

Hate crimes based on sexual orientation have increased almost a quarter in the latest report, while racial and disability-motivated attacks have also grown since last year.

13/6/2014- New Scottish Government figures show a total of 890 crimes against people because of their sexuality were reported last year - a rise of 22% on 2012-13 - making it the second most common form of hate crime. Racially-motivated attacks - the most common form of hate crime in Scotland - account for almost 69% of all hate-crime charges. More thanb 4000 such charges were brought against people last year, but while there was a three percent rise in racial crimes last year, the total for 2013-14 was also the second lowest since reports began. Meanwhile, a 12% increase in hate crimes against disabled people saw 154 such offences reported last year.

Scotland's top prosecutor, Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland QC, said he was concerned by the rise in offences linked to race and sexual orientation. "Offending motivated by racial prejudice is at its second lowest level since 2003-4 despite a three percent rise," he said. "However, there are still too many incidents in which people are targeted because of their race and we are firmly committed to prosecuting such crimes. "I recently called on those affected by crime motivated by disability to come forward and report it to the police. "I have long suspected these crimes are under-reported and I hope the 12% rise in reported crimes in this area is a result of the work prosecutors and police have done to gain the trust of this community. "However, I am concerned about the increases in offences motivated by prejudice against sexual orientation and race. "These show that there is still work to be done in those areas. I have said it before and I will say it again, there is no place in a modern Scotland for any behaviour motivated by prejudice and it will not be tolerated. "We are heading in the right direction and I am confident that in time such offences will reduce as Scotland becomes an even fairer and more tolerant society to live in."

Colin MacFarlane, director of Stonewall Scotland, said many in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities face hate crime every day. "Whilst any single hate crime incident is one too many, this increase suggests that more LGBT people feel able to report these crimes to the police. This is a positive development", he said. "Stonewall Scotland's research shows, however, that more than a third of LGBT people still don't feel confident in reporting such incidents to the police and we will continue our work with Police Scotland to address this. "Today's figures show that there has been lots done but there is still lots to do."

Offences motivated by religion, including those prosecuted under legislation aimed at curbing sectarianism in football, fell by 17% to 635 - the lowest total since 2009-10. The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act came into force in March 2012, with 203 charges brought under this of religiously aggravated crimes in and around football matches in 2013-14, a drop of 24% on the previous year. Last year also saw 25 charges of hate crimes against transgender people, up from 14 in 2012-23.

Equalities Secretary Shona Robison said: "No-one should have to face discrimination or prejudice in any form in 21st-century Scotland. It is never acceptable and it will not be tolerated. "That's why we have been working closely with organisations and police to eradicate hate crime from Scottish society." She said more than £60m was being spent on tackling inequality and discrimination between 2012 and 2015 which "shows that we take this issue very seriously". Ms Robison added: "The more we talk about it, the easier it will be for people to report hate crimes to the authorities. "We are not becoming more intolerant as a society but we are becoming less tolerant of those who hold prejudiced beliefs."
© STV News

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Racism in Northern Ireland: 'They called our children monkeys'

Mixed-race couple tell of daily abuse they faced for six years in Belfast as statistics show a sharp rise in racist incidents.

12/6/2014- Rima and Michael Lynch thought they and their children would be safe from racial abuse when they moved to a Catholic working-class area close to central Belfast. But the mixed-race couple's experience over six years puts a human face on the rise of race-hate crimes in the city, beyond Protestant/loyalist areas with a reputation for xenophobia. Rima, a Christian-Israeli Arab, has been branded a Roma, Romanian, "Jew whore" and "dirty Arab" by a family who have subjected her family to a slew of racist abuse and intimidation. The Guardian has learned there have been 13 arrests linked to race-hate attacks in Greater Belfast since the start of last month. But the Lynch family say the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) in south Belfast has failed to act against local people who have terrorised them in the nationalist Lower Ormeau area.

PSNI statistics show a sharp increase in race crimes and racist incidents in the past two years. In 2012/2013 the PSNI recorded 470 racial hate crimes but that figure rose to 691 to the year ending March 2014. In the same period incidents of racial abuse and intimidation rose from 750 to 982. When Michael Lynch, who met his wife in Israel, moved back to his native Belfast he decided it would be safer to live in the Catholic Lower Ormeau Road area than in a loyalist area. The Lynches say they and their three children were targeted by a local woman, her husband and children, who objected to the presence of immigrants in their midst. "At first they said I was Roma and then later Romanian," Rima said. "When I finally spoke to this woman I told her I was an Arab-Israeli, born in Galilee. At first I was called a 'Jew whore' for being Israeli and later when I reminded neighbours that I was an Arab-Christian I was branded a 'dirty Arab'.

"At first it was low-level intimidation with our windows being rapped violently at night when we were watching television in the front room, or our plant pots turned over in the street, or local kids banging the door. Later they targeted my two sons on social networks, repeating the racist slurs and later the real bullying began against the boys," Rima said. Her husband said the racist bullying of one son got so bad he had to take him out of a local Catholic secondary school. "I couldn't believe this was happening in a Catholic area where I wanted the family to settle. It was near to work, close to the city centre, not far from the university district and some good schools. But after all we have been put through we are seriously considering moving out to another part of Belfast," he said.

His wife said the children of the family behind most of the intimidation called her sons and daughter "monkeys" and told them to go back to Israel. "They bullied a single Polish mother and her children out of the same area and I know for a fact they are putting pressure on an African lady who lives in the same street. Yet the police up until very recently were not prepared to take action against these people," she said. Rima stressed she had "many, many good friends" among the locally born population in the Lower Ormeau but believed neighbours were terrified of their tormentors. She added: "In a strange way I could cope with this better if it was happening in a loyalist, Protestant area. At least they are upfront and open about the way some of them in that community treat foreigners. In this area, among people of the same faith, it is more a case of being smiled at to your face and then stabbed in the back."

However, most recent attacks have undoubtedly taken place in loyalist working-class redoubts such as east Belfast and Newtonabbey on the northern outskirts of the city. Among those targeted in loyalist communities was Palestinian nurse Mohammed Samaana, who has worked in the NHS since 2000. He said even some of his patients had verbally abused him. He said: "A female patient told me: 'You are not from here and I resent all foreigners who come to Ireland.' The worst experience of racism though was when I was attacked in the [loyalist] Sandy Row area and I felt my life was at risk." Samaana said he was more concerned about being a Muslim in Northern Ireland after the comments of Pastor James McConnell, who called Islam "satanic". McConnell initially received the support of the first minister, Peter Robinson. Both Robinson and McConnell later apologised for their remarks, which included Robinson stating that he would not trust any Muslim that adhered to sharia law.

Samaana said: "In general I'd say Belfast was initially welcoming but it is gradually changing for the worse. It feels like the I way I was treated when I first came to Northampton, in England, where people had very negative attitude towards people like me and where I faced social exclusion and alienation, which made me leave. They say Muslims don't want to integrate. In my experience, and in the experience of others I know, many Muslims do want to integrate but we feel shunned most of the time." Jonathan Tongue, author of The Democratic Unionist Party: From Protest to Power and a University of Liverpool lecturer, blamed "post-Troubles paranoia" for the rise in racism in Protestant areas. "These people are used to having a united identity and they are not used to outsiders in their midst. Catholics were driven from their areas decades ago so they are stunned by this recent wave of immigrants coming into their communities. "In addition, the old enemy they fought isn't around any more now that the conflict is over, although sectarianism is far from dead. So they have found, due to globalisation, a new imagined enemy in their areas."

Tongue said that while many loyalist political leaders were opposed to the attacks, they sometimes happened spontaneously. "There is a bit of a Millwall mentality within working-class loyalist communities – the perception that 'no one likes us, we don't care'. They don't see how much damage these attacks are doing to their own image, their own communities even if, to be completely fair, loyalist leaders on the ground see this. Most importantly, there has been no economic or social 'peace dividend' for the loyalist working class and now they see immigrants coming in who are competitors." In Catholic districts there have been some anti-immigrant problems around Dungannon, in County Tyrone, but such incidents have mainly occurred in loyalist communities. Meanwhile, Anna Lo, the UK's only Chinese-born parliamentarian, who has been subjected to verbal and physical threats from racists in Belfast, said she had been "absolutely overwhelmed" by support she received after expressing fears over the rise of racism, but reiterated that she was quitting politics.

Lo, who represents the Alliance party in the Stormont assembly, said: "The people in general are wonderful here and I was inundated with cards, messages, flowers and gifts after I told the Guardian I was fed up with local politics. The good people have convinced me at least not to leave Northern Ireland and move to England where my sons live. But as for political life, I don't see a future for me beyond the next assembly elections in 2016. It's time for a new generation to try and challenge the racists and the bigots."
© The Guardian

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Northern Ireland: Racists 'threatened two-year-old girl' in west Belfast

A man who was hurt in a racist assault in Belfast has said his attackers also threatened to "run over" his two-year-old daughter and burn down his house.

10/6/2014- The 36-year-old man, who is black and originally from Nigeria, was attacked just yards from his home in Sliabh Dubh View in the west of the city on Monday. He was on his way to work when a gang of "four to six people" verbally abused and then physically assaulted him. A 19-year-old man was arrested on Tuesday night over the attack. On Tuesday, hundreds of people attended an anti racism protest in the area.

'Terrifying'
The attack took place at about 20:30 BST on Monday as the man was on his way to begin a nightshift as a security guard. The victim needed hospital treatment, including stitches to his upper lip. Speaking to a BBC reporter, he described the experience as "absolutely terrifying". He said that he passed the gang about 30 to 40 yards away from his home and they began shouting racist abuse, swearing and told him to "go back to your country". The victim said he told the gang: "Excuse me, there is no call for that. Why would you be calling me names? "Not everyone you see on the street you can call names. I said 'if you have no better things to do, just go and get a job. I'm going to my work'," the victim added. He said the threats began when he picked up his mobile phone to contact his wife, who is originally from west Belfast.

'Racially-motivated'
He said that the gang believed he was calling the police and told him: "You know what Mr? We're going to burn your house down. If we see you with your wee one, we're going to run you down." The victim said that he tried to back off and push the attackers away with an open palm but added that "before you know it - punches, blows, all stuff like that". "They hit me with a bottle on my head, my hand. I was really, really terrified because there were loads of them, punches everywhere." His wife, who ran to his aid with their daughter in her arms, said the gang were "attacking him from every angle". "They were at his back, they were at his front, they were at the side of him," she said. "He wasn't ringing the police. He was ringing me to go up, thinking if they saw me, a white person, they were going to back off a bit," the victim's wife added. She said she had never witnessed anything like it and her husband said he was frightened of a repeat of the attack. Police are treating it as a racially-motivated assault. Two men, aged 25 and 32, were arrested but have been released on bail pending further enquiries.
© BBC News

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UK: New figures reveal dramatic increase in hate crimes against Polish people

Tenfold rise in attacks since 2004 blamed on the recession, benefit cuts and stereotyping by politicians

11/6/2014- Damian Citko was attacked outside the Cross Keys pub in Dagenham in January by 15 men as he was about to drive off on his motorbike. The group beat him to the ground with kicks and punches. "They kicked my head so hard that even though I was wearing a helmet I had black eyes," says Citko, 39, a network administrator from Opole, who arrived in Britain shortly after Poland's accession to the EU in 2004. "All I could hear while they were beating me was: 'Go back to Poland, go back home.'" The police arrived and rushed Citko to Queen's hospital, Romford. Luckily his heavily padded biking gear meant he survived the assault without major injuries.

Citko is just one of hundreds of Poles who are victims of race crime every year in the UK. Exclusive figures obtained for Society Guardian through freedom of information requests reveal that, in 2013, police officers arrested 585 people for a hate crime (such as a violent assault, vandalism or a public order offence) against a Pole – one person every 14 hours. That's a tenfold increase from 2004. And the total number of arrests is likely to be much higher, because only 26 of the country's 46 forces replied to the Guardian's request for information. Of the forces that did supply figures, just under a quarter of total arrests were in Hertfordshire – with its huge Welwyn/Hatfield Polish community – where 97 arrests were made for hate crimes against Poles last year. Other hotspots were Northern Ireland, with 85 arrests and Lancashire, with 53.

The figures – which only show recorded crimes – are just the tip of the iceberg. In the decade since Poland joined the EU, at least half a million Poles have come to Britain. Many say they have suffered some form of xenophobia. In a recent survey of 1,000 Polish people by journalism students at the London College of Communications, nearly three-quarters (71%) said they had been subjected to some form of abuse and knew someone who had been physically attacked because they were Polish. And the problem is worsening. In Belfast, over 10 days in April, three young Polish nationals were attacked by a gang after being asked for a cigarette; a 23-year-old man was stabbed in the leg and seven Polish homes were vandalised. "It was terrifying, they were throwing bricks through our windows," says Maria Glok, who lives in the one of the vandalised homes. "I really feared for my family. I honestly don't know if I can continue to live here like this." "It's like people think it is OK to discriminate against [us]."

For Andrzej Rygielski, 51, a retail manager from Kent, these cases are all too familiar. Rygielski says he has suffered from an appalling level of abuse since he arrived in the Isle of Sheppey, Kent, from Inowroclaw in 2005. "For years I have had stones thrown at me and my house", he says. In 2012, Rygielski came home from shopping with his teenage daughter to find "Pollish suck cock" (sic) scrawled in fake blood on the outer wall of his house and, in January this year, he was attacked in his shop by a customer. The Association of Chief Police Officers says the police are trying to make it easier to report these offences. "The police are committed to reducing the harm caused by hate crime," says superintendent Paul Giannasi, of Acpo's national working group on hate crime. "The service has worked hard to increase the reporting of hate crimes. Anyone who believes they are the victim of a hate crime should report the matter to the police in the full assurance that their complaint will be investigated fully and handled sensitively."

While most Polish people feel the UK is a friendlier place now than when they first arrived, Polish civic organisations worry that the recession and benefit cuts are increasing anti-Polish feeling. Krzysztof Kawczynski, coordinator at east London-based charity Flowers of Human Hearts, which helps Poles find accommodation and jobs and also runs a homeless shelter, says that the charity has noted a steep rise in the number of Poles being violently attacked since the start of the recession. "I can see that when there are fewer jobs available, some people blame the lack of opportunities on Poles and that may lead to these attacks," he says. "At the moment it is much harder for Poles because of the association with benefits and taking jobs. There are a lot of Polish people being discriminated against and the government is not doing anything about it. They need to recognise that this is a problem."

In February, 20 Polish community leaders and organisations wrote an open letter to David Cameron criticising the government's approach. "It is truly hurtful that once excellent British-Polish relations are on the verge of being shattered by populist politicians, who are using Poles as scapegoats," the letter said. "We will not allow bigotry and discrimination against our people." On the same day, hundreds protested outside parliament calling on the government to do more to combat anti-Polish attitudes in the UK. Many blame the media. "The newspapers make us like monsters, like scum. They say we are stealing jobs and benefits. This is simply untrue," says Rygielski.

Others attribute the increase in anti-Polish feeling to senior political figures. George Byczynski, one of the protest organisers and founder of the British Polish Law Association (BPLA), which was created in January to offer legal assistance to Poles who have suffered discrimination, says: "When the prime minister is name-checking Poles as somehow responsible for taking benefits away from this country, it is no wonder people who read those comments believe it and that, as a result, Poles are under attack in their communities. It was utterly irresponsible." He is also critical of Labour's plans to prevent work agencies exclusively bringing in employees from Poland. Byczynski says the PBLA is prepared to bring legal action against those defaming Poland and Poles. For now, despite the severity of the attack, Citko has decided to stay and get on with his life. "I want people to understand that Britain is my home, that I love it here. It is time to stop blaming us Poles for stealing jobs."
Some names have been changed
© The Guardian

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UK: Police investigate racial abuse at Love Music Hate Racism music festival

Police have confirmed they are investigating allegations of people being racially abused at the Love Music Hate Racism festival.

10/6/2014- As exclusively reported yesterday, eight people were arrested after a mass brawl broke out at the end of the multicultural festival on Sunday night. The festival, which had proved a hit for music lovers at the weekend, was marred at the end when a group of men started fighting outside the venue. The free festival is in its eighth year and aims to create a national movement against racism and fascism through music. It is held annually to make a stand against racism and aims to bring people from different cultures together to enjoy music. Police were called to the event at Fort Amherst, in Chatham, at about 8.55pm after reports lots of people were fighting in Dock Road. A Medway Police spokesman said when officers arrived on the scene, the fighting had stopped and the people responsible were thought to have left.

A 20 year-old man was treated by ambulance crews for swelling and redness to his head and is thought to have suffered an eye injury. As police made inquiries, one man was arrested of suspicion of assaulting a police officer and committing a public order offence. Police said there was a very large group of people heading towards Chatham town centre when officers arrived. It is understood an officer was also injured and suffered scratches and bruising during the fracas. The police spokesman also said another man reportedly tried to smash the window of a police vehicle. A 17-year-old girl was also injured during the incident and police said the area was cleared by 10.15pm. However, since the eight were arrested, police have now revealed they are investigating two of those detained for racial abuse.

Many of those who were arrested have been bailed pending further inquiries, two others have been given fixed penalty notices and one has been charged. These include:
+ A 19-year-old woman from London was arrested following a report a 17-year-old girl was assaulted, she was given a fixed penalty notice.
+ A 23 year-old man from Gillingham was arrested on suspicion of affray after a man was allegedly seen throwing punches. He was also give a fixed penalty notice.
+ A 19-year-old man, from Chatham, was arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer. John Cooper, 19, of High Street, Chatham, was later charged with the offence and will appear before magistrates in Medway on August 4.

Three people were arrested in connection with an alleged fight:
+ A 25 year-old man, of no fixed address, was arrested on suspicion of affray.
+ A 25 year-old man, from Chatham, was arrested on suspicion of affray and assault.
+ A 23 year-old man, from Chatham, was arrested on suspicion of affray and an offence under the Public Order Act.
All three men have been bailed until August 12 pending further inquiries.

Two people were arrested following a report of people being racially abusive, a 30 year-old man from Chatham, was been arrested during the early hours of Monday morning. He has been bailed until July 3, pending further inquiries. Another man also arrested following reports he was racially abusive was a 28 year-old also from Chatham. He was arrested on suspicion of affray and the public order offence and was also arrested during the early hours of Monday morning. He too has been bailed pending further inquiries until July 3.

In a joint statement, Fort Amherst and Love Music Hate Racism organisers said: "We are disappointed that the acts of a few individuals upon leaving the venue have distracted from the very positive weekend that about 5,000 people have enjoyed. "We are grateful for the assistance of Kent Police and will be reviewing how to make further improvements for the 2015 event." The usually family-friendly event, now in its eighth year, moved to the historic Fort Amherst in Chatham from The Command House pub on the riverside this year.And on Saturday 2,000 visitors - the biggest crowd on a single day - went along to see the musicians perform.
© Kent online

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UK: Hate crime research set to begin in Nottingham

An independent inquiry is to be held into hate crime in Nottingham.

9/6/2014- Nottingham Citizens group said many hate crimes go unreported and official figures are "just the tip of the iceberg". Sajid Mohammed, who is from the community action group, said: "There is an unacceptably high level of hate crime in our midst." Both Nottingham universities are involved in the research, which aims to collect data and personal experiences. Mr Mohammed described Nottingham as a "wonderful and diverse city" but said not enough people were reporting hate crimes when they did happen. He said many victims were reluctant to report abuse.

'Fear of hate crime'
Nottinghamshire Police currently receives about 700 reports of hate crime each year, although the force acknowledged that many cases went unreported. A recent survey of Nottingham's taxi drivers recorded similar numbers of offences occuring in just one week. However, a scheme backed by Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping will see the introduction of cameras in taxi cabs. Mr Mohammed added: "We know people go though numerous incidents before they have the courage to report it. "The message we want to put out from this is that people should not live in fear of hate crime." More than 1,000 questionnaires will be sent out as part of the research, which aims to assess how widespread the problem is and make recommendations on how to tackle it. Nottinghamshire Police is aiming to reduce the number of repeat victims of domestic violence, hate crime and anti-social behaviour by 5% compared with last year.
© BBC News

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UK: Clubber may lose eyesight after homophobic bleach attack outside Vauxhall nightclub

A man may lose his eyesight following a bleach attach outside a London nightclub, doctors have warned, as police appeal for information.

9/6/2014- The man, who spoke to the Evening Standard on condition of anonymity, was one of three attacked with a concentrated ammonia solution outside the LightBox club in Vauxhall. Police have appealed for information, issuing CCTV images of a bearded man and two younger women who they wish to identify in connection with the attack, which took place at 4am on Sunday. The 23-year-old clubber who has been told by doctors that he may lose his eyesight following the attack, said he and a friend, 21, had begun speaking to the three people, believed to be Eastern European, outside the club, having been refused admission as it was past closing time. He said the two women then discovered that he and his friend were gay, and started shouting homophobic abuse.

The victim told the Standard: “As we walked away I heard a man shout ‘Oi! Come here.’ At first I thought it was the doorman saying he’d changed his mind and we could go in. “Then I saw this white guy with a beard, and his hand coming up with a water bottle that he squirted really hard into my face. It went right in my eyes and it sprayed into my friend’s mouth. “My face was burning so much, I thought it was acid. I thought I would never see again and my face was melting. “He poured every last drop onto us and then turned around and walked away, like it was mission accomplished. “The chemical burnt the cornea in my left eye and the vision hasn’t cleared since. The doctors said it should hopefully return but there is no guarantee. “My friend’s tongue was swollen and it looked like someone had scratched part of it away. It was horrible.”

The victim, who also attended clubs in Leicester Square, continued: “I feel this was a hate crime given where we were and the situation with the two girls. “What’s playing on my mind is the fact that this guy has left his flat and thought ‘wallet, keys, bottle of bleach.’ The guy has gone out with the intention of blinding someone.” A third man was also doused with the solution just yards away, shortly after the initial attack. Police suspect that the same man is responsible for both incidents. A spokesman at Scotland Yard said: “In the first incident, at approximately 4am on Sunday, the substance was sprayed at two men outside the Lightbox nightclub in South Lambeth Place, Vauxhall. “This followed a verbal exchange between the two men and a group outside the venue. “Following comments made during the exchange, this incident is being treated as a homophobic hate crime. “A short time later, police were made aware of a third man who had also been sprayed in the face with a substance in the vicinity of the nightclub. No motive is known for this incident. “All three men were treated at hospital and their injuries are not believed to be serious. Officers believe the same man was responsible for both incidents.”
© Pink News

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Headlines 6 June, 2014

Russia: Racism and xenophobia in May 2014

5/6/2014- In May 2014, no fewer than 17 people fell victim of racist and neo-Nazi attacks, and one of them was killed. These attacks were reported in Saint-Petersburg (3 injured), the Astrakhan region (1 injured), the Krasnodar territory (1 killed, 7 injured), the Nizhny Novgorod and Novosibirsk regions (2 injured in both). The victims are natives of the Caucasus (1 killed, and 7 injured) and of Central Asia (1 injured), as well black people (3 injured), people of «non-Slavic appearance» (2 injured), members of informal groups (2 injured) and others (1 injured). In total, according to our preliminary data, 10 people have been killed and at least 48 injured in 17 regions of Russia since the beginning of 2014. One person have received serious death threats.

In May, we recorded at least 4 acts of vandalism which could be considered as motivated by hatred or by neo-Nazi ideology. Since the beginning of the year, no fewer than 22 such acts of vandalism have been taken place, in 17 regions of the country. As usual in May, the most significant event in the ultra-right milieu was «Russian Mayday». In Moscow, two separate actions were held due to a discord between the «Russians» association (Russkie) and the National-Democratic Party (NDP) concerning their different positions toward the Ukrainian question. As usual, the «Russian coalition of action» held another, independent event. The march organized by the «Russians» association followed its habitual itinerary from the Oktyabrskoe pole metro station to the metro station Schukinskaya via Marshall Biryuzov street and Marshall Vasilevsky street. It gathered around 500 people. The meeting held by the NDP and the «ROD Human Rights Center» in Gorky Park turned out to be much smaller, gathering about 180 people. As for the «Russian Coalition of Action», its «Russian Spring – Russian Unity» march and meeting gathered about 150 people. Besides Moscow, «Russian Mayday» events were held in 21 cities, but most of these actions gathered a very small number of participants – less than 50 people.

In Pushkino near Moscow, football fans held a march and meeting under xenophobic slogans on May 15. The event was triggered by the murder of yet another Spartak fan, Leonid Safyannikov, during a fight with natives of Uzbekistan on May 13. A building site, as well as stalls of the town's market, were sacked in the course of the event. After the action, lots of calls for a «new Manezhka» to be held on May 18 on Manezhnaya Square in Mocow (as well as any major squares in other regions of the country) appeared on social networks. However, the majority of ultra-right leaders either ignored the event or deliberately opposed it as a provocation. As a result, the meeting held on Manezhnaya Square in Moscow gathered only a few uncoordinated ultra-right groups, and a few isolated activists.

''Respectable'' nationalists have also been active in May. In particular, some of them ran as candidates for the Civic Chamber. During the night of May 31, the elections were brought to a close. Valery Korovin – deputy director of the International Eurasian Movement headed by Alexander Dugin and editor-in-chief of the information and analysis portal ''Eurasia'' – won the section ''Harmonization of inter-ethnic and inter-religious relations, and support for civil peace and concord'' due to the 39,299 votes he received during the internet poll. We are aware of only one conviction for racist violence in May which considered hatred as a motive. The verdict was given in Moscow, for the murder of a Kyrgyz citizen.

Mention should also be made of the verdict taken in Yekaterinburg against members of the ultra-right association the «Warriors of Perun - SS» for the murder of a homeless person. Ideological hatred had been considered as a motive for the murder earlier in the investigation process, but during the trial the case was reclassified and ideological motive was removed from the charges. Since the beginning of the year, at least 9 sentences for racist violence motivated by hatred have been pronounced, against 18 people, in 9 regions of the country. When it comes to xenophobic propaganda, at least 10 sentences were pronounced in May, in 9 regions. Ten people were convicted. Since the beginning of 2014, 50 verdicts against xenophobic propaganda have been given in 31 regions of the country with 50 people convicted.

In May, the Federal list of extremist materials was updated on 4 occasions (on May 5, 8, 16 and 23). Materials added to the list include: several articles by the «Radical Politics» bulletin's chief editor Boris Stomakhin, Caucasian fighters' materials from the sites «Kavkaz-Tsentr», habar.org and «Imarat Kavkaz», songs by the Chechen bard Timur Mutsuraev, Bagirov's manifest from the site «Antikompromat», leaflets containing a speech written by Orthodox priest Fr. Vasily, a book written by the well-known racist ideologue Vladimir Istarkhov, articles from the site of the Imperial Cossack Union, and a whole range of xenophobic materials from the social network «Vkontakte», including the video «Angry Russia» (Zlaya Rossiya), once again recognized to be extremist, and the film «Russia stabbed in the back 2» (Rossiya s nozhom v spine 2), which was recognized as extremist in 2010 and thus already added to the list.
© SOVA Center for Information and Analysis.

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Bulgaria: Anti-Semitic slogan, swastika daubed on Sofia Synagogue

5/6/2014- An anti-Semitic slogan, “death to Jews”, along with a swastika were daubed on a fence outside Sofia Central Synagogue on June 4 2014, the day this year that celebration of Shavuot began, the Shalom Organisation of the Jews in Bulgaria said. Security cameras outside Sofia Synagogue recorded the perpetrator and the recordings have been handed to the authorities. The Shalom organisation and the Central Israelite Religious Council both strongly condemned the incident and said that they awaited the authorities apprehending the perpetrator. An encroachment on one of the symbols of Judaism in Bulgaria proved once again the need to begin a dialogue against acts of hatred, xenophobia and anti-Semitism in order to preserve human values, the organisations said. The incident involving anti-Semitic graffitti is one of a number in Sofia in recent years. A recent report by the Anti-Defamation League outlined the incidence of anti-Semitism in Bulgaria. Also in recent years, a civic initiative has been held in the capital city once a year, to clean walls and surfaces of racist and anti-Semitic scrawlings.
© The Sofia Globe

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Frenchmen jailed for beating up Dutch homosexual

3/6/2014- Two Frenchmen were sentenced to 2.5 years in jail, with 12 and 18 months suspended, in Paris on Tuesday for beating up a gay Dutch man. Wilfred de Bruijn, who lives in the French capital city, was walking home with his friend one evening in April last year when the two Frenchmen jumped him. During the attack, which made international headlines, De Bruijn was kicked in the face, suffering a broken tooth and cracks in his jaw and skull. A man who witnessed the attack but did not help the Dutchman was given a six-month suspended jail sentence. De Bruijn, who posted a photo of his face on Facebook shortly after the attack, told an Nos reporter he is happy with the sentence which shows France will not tolerate attacks on people because of their sexuality.
© The Dutch News

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Romania: Antisemitic Incidents - PLOIESTI and SIGHISOARA

3/6/2014- In the last few days, in Romania, occurred two anti-Semitic attacks:

1) IN PLOIESTI – 60 KM distance from Bucharest – The Synagogues windows were broken by stones thrown by unknown persons

2) IN SIGHISOARA – known medieval town in Transylvania – a Molotov cocktail was thrown in a former synagogue now hosting a cultural center. The Molotov cocktail was thrown through the metal grid protecting the window. It seems that the throwers knew exactly were to direct the incendiary bomb which hit the wooden part of the synagogue’s floor.
The fire caused limited damage.

The incidents are indicating a change in the relative calm atmosphere that protected the small Jewish community ( 3200 members) . It is believed that the growing anti-Semitism in Hungary, the Hungarian extremism imported into Transylvania and the general grow of the anti-Semitism in Europe are elements that triggered these incidents. The incidents are under investigation.
© MCA Romania-The Center for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism

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2/6/2014- Armed, masked men threatened to burn down the house of one of Ukraine’s chief rabbis, a spokeswoman from his office said. The incident outside the Kiev-area residence of Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich occurred on May 23 at 1:30 a.m., Inna Yoffe, the executive director of the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine, told Ukrainian media last week. Bleich, the confederation’s president, was not in the country at the time of the attack, which ended without serious injury, Yoffe told the television channel 112 Ukraine two days after the reported attack. “There was an attack on a paramilitary guard outside the fence in front of the house,” she said. “The attackers were wearing masks and camouflage uniforms with machine guns; they arrived by an SUV.” Yoffe said the attackers forced the guard to lie face down on the ground and told him they would kill him and burn down the house. She did not say how many men threatened the guard. The men fled the scene after another guard from inside the residence called the police, Yoffe added. The Jewish Confederation of Ukraine filed a complaint with police over the assault. Contacted by JTA, Bleich said the men who showed up outside his home did not target him specifically. According to his understanding, the rabbi said, the attack was not anti-Semitic.
© JTA News

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Northern Ireland: Five charges in hate crime probe

Police have revealed that five people have been charged and eight others arrested in connection with the crackdown on hate crimes in Belfast.

5/6/2014- Sixteen properties have been searched since the beginning of May, when Operation Reiner was established as part of the PSNI's response to a rise in attacks. Five other arrests have been made, which were not connected to hate crime. Three people have since been charged and one was reported to the Public Prosecution Service. Superintendent Paula Hilman, who is leading the operation, called for people to report all hate incidents via the dedicated helpline which is accessed by calling 101 then choosing option two. So far it has received 14 calls since being established two weeks ago. "We are committed to tackling hate crimes and are working closely with multi agency groups to encourage greater reporting and increase support for victims but policing can only be as successful as the information and support we receive from the wider community," Paula Hilman said. "There is a collective responsibility on everyone who lives in Northern Ireland to make sure that people from different countries and cultures who choose to come to live and work here and who add value to Northern Irish society and economy, feel welcome, reassured and protected."
© UTV News

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Northern Ireland: Polish family living in fear after hate attack

A Polish family of four have told of their fear of living in their home after their house was pelted with eggs in a hate crime.

3/6/2014- A mother, father and two children – including a three-year-old girl – were at their east Belfast home when the attack happened. Egg shells and marks on the wall of their home and fence could still be seen. The family have lived in Northern Ireland for the past six years but had only moved in to their Pearl Street home at the end of April. Between 11pm and midnight on May 8, eggs were thrown at their house and at their car parked outside. The father (43) heard some noise outside but the family didn't realise what had happened until the next morning when their neighbours called the police for them. The 39-year-old mother, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "We are quite afraid of living here. "We are just afraid that someone is going to break the windows or something like that or the car."

The family have said while they are not planning to move at the moment – they will if "something happened again." "We are just scared of going out and we are afraid that something will happen – something more serious." In their six years in Belfast this has never happened to them before. "We are going to stay here but we don't feel very safe here," they added. The family were reluctant to blame their attack on the ongoing racism row which has dominated the headlines across Northern Ireland and the world. When asked if they thought there was a lot of racism in Northern Ireland, the family said "yes". "I think some of the people are nice but some people are just crazy." While the family have never had their home attacked before, the 17-year-old son revealed he had been chased in the street by a gang when he was playing football. He said: "It has happened about three times and in the past few weeks. "I don't even know why. I'm afraid to go outside sometimes."
© The Belfast Telegraph

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Northern Ireland: Second racist attack at Belfast house within hours

Two men have been assaulted at a house in Belfast just hours after the same property was targeted in a hate crime.

1/6/2014- The men, aged 24 and 38, were attacked at their home in Parkmount Street at about 15:15 BST on Sunday. The 24-year-old was also subjected to racist taunts by a group of people. Earlier, Muhammad Asif Khattak, who shares the house with another Pakistani friend, had spoken to the media about the overnight attack in which their front window was smashed. A bottle was thrown through the living room window of the house at about 02:50 BST and police said they were treating the incident as a hate crime.

'Scared'
On Sunday afternoon, a police spokeswoman said a 24-year-old man "had been subjected to racist taunts by a group of people outside the property" and was then assaulted by a man. The victim managed to get into the house but two men followed him and forced their way inside. The intruders also assaulted a 38-year-old man who lives in the house. Police said the 24-year-old resident was taken to hospital where he was treated for an injury to his foot and minor cuts and bruises. Speaking before the second attack on Sunday, Mr Khattak told the BBC he had gone downstairs to get a drink of water overnight and discovered the window was broken. "We just came down and called the police straight away. We were so scared," he said. Mr Khattak said he and his friend did not feel comfortable in the city. "If we go outside in the street, people will start swearing at us... What can we do? We are just foreigners, we don't feel accepted. We are scared now and my family and friends are telling me to come back to London." He said Northern Ireland would not prosper if this kind of attack continued.

'Appalling'
North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds, from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), condemned the attack on the two men. "This attack like all the others on homes in north Belfast is utterly disgraceful," he said. "This follows an attack 10 days ago on a Jamaican family in Rathcoole and a number of sectarian attacks including an attack on a house in the Glenbryn area on Friday. "There is no justification for any attack on an individual or their home whatever the religion, lifestyle, or ethnicity of the person concerned," Mr Dodds added. On Satur-day, more than 4,000 people attended anti-racism rallies in Belfast and Londonderry following a recent spate of racist attacks in Northern Ireland. The speakers included Alliance MLA Anna Lo, who this week said continual racist abuse had influenced her decision not to seek re-election to the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Speaking about the overnight attack on the Pakistani residents, SDLP MLA Alban Maginness, appealed to all politicians to work to end such incidents. "It is absolutely appalling given the past week and the events in relation to racism during the course of that and also given the fact that there was a substantial demonstration in front of city hall yesterday," he said. "This is a racist attack that should be condemned by everybody." Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly called the overnight attack "cowardly and shameful". "It's vital that political leaders right across the community stand up against those involved in hate crime, whether those crimes are sectarian or racist in character," he said. "People should be able to get on with their lives free from fear and intimidation. "This incident is the latest in a spate of racist attacks in the city."
© BBC News

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Brussels Jewish Museum killings: Man held in Marseille

A Frenchman has been arrested in Marseille over a shooting at the Jewish Museum in Brussels that left four people dead, officials say.

1/6/2014- Mehdi Nemmouche, 29, is being held on suspicion of murder and attempted murder in connection with a terrorist enterprise. He was reportedly carrying a Kalashnikov rifle and a handgun similar to the ones used in the May 24 attack. Security was tightened at Jewish sites across Belgium following the killings. Mr Nemmouche, who is believed to be from the northern French town of Roubaix, is also suspected of being with Islamists militants in Syria last year. He was arrested at the Saint-Charlies train station in the southern French city of Marseille on Friday on board a bus that was travelling from Amsterdam via Brussels, AFP news agency reports. Four people were killed when a gunman opened fire at the museum in the busy Sablon area of Brussels. They were an Israeli couple in their 50s, a French female volunteer and a Belgian employee of the museum.

The Belgian prosecutor's office said the victims were struck by bullets in the face or throat, in what Brussels Mayor Yvan Mayeur said was probably a "terrorist act". One person was detained after he drove away from the scene around the time of the attack, but he was later released. Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, who was one of the first people to arrive at the scene, said: "You cannot help think that when we see a Jewish museum, you think of an anti-Semitic act. But the investigation will have to show the causes." Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and French President Francois Hollande also condemned the killings. Belgium has a Jewish population of some 42,000, about half of whom live in the capital.
© BBC News

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