ICARE Hate Crime News - Archive September 2014

Headlines 26 September, 2014

Headlines 19 September, 2014

Headlines 12 September, 2014

Headlines 5 September, 2014

Headlines 26 September, 2014

Gay couple in Azerbaijan forced to flee after engagement vow makes local news

Small ceremony with friends sparks homophobic death threats after being reported by several media networks.

26/9/2014- A gay couple in Azerbaijan have received death threats and been forced to go underground after getting engaged in a small ceremony. Javid Nabiyev and his partner exchanged vows in presence of a handful of friends earlier this week in Sumqayit on the Caspian sea, a year after they first met. But when several news networks in Azerbaijan picked up their private pictures on Facebook, they were inundated with hate mail from people who said they deserved to die. “We received homophobic verbal attacks,” said Nabiyev, who is the head of the Azerbaijani gay rights advocacy group, Nafas Azerbaijan LGBT alliance. “Some people said ‘You should die, I’ll kick you in the street, I’ll kill you’,” he told the Guardian on phone from Baku. The 25-year-old said he had had to leave home because people had gathered outside and shouted homophobic abuse. “We were engaged; not in a big ceremony. It took place between our friends at my home and only eight people were invited,” he said. “At midnight yesterday, I had to change the place I was living in. People in my apartment building had heard about the news and I heard people gathering outside my house and ridiculing us,” he said. “It was very terrible. But I’m now in a safe place in a friend’s house.”

Homosexuality is legal in Azerbaijan, but Nabiyev said discrimination against the gay and lesbian community and homophobia was rife. “After the news agencies published articles on the basis of my private Facebook posting, people showed very homophobic reaction,” he said. Nabiyev’s 19-year-old partner, whose identity is withheld to protect his safety, particularly, is facing a dilemma at home. His father threatened to send him to the army instead of university after hearing the news. “I don’t know what has happened to my partner. He is with his parents now,” Nabiyev said. “He sent me a brief message that his dad wants to send him to the army. His parents have also confiscated all our documents, which we would need to produce a passport if we were ever to leave the country.” Nabiyev said that his partner’s mother had thrown gasoline on him and tried to set him on fire last month, but the attack did not succeed. Despite rising homophobic attacks, Nabiyev said the police does not listen to their demands for safety.

Nabiyev’s organisation have tried to lobby members of the parliament to raise the LGBT issues with Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, but they haven’t gone too far. “Our government is also homophobic,” the campaigner said. “We created a campaign to raise LGBT issues with the president and one MP asked him about the situation of LGBTs in Azerbaijan, but he didn’t mention the LGBT community at all in his answer.” The 2012 Eurovision song contest, which took place in Baku, drew a great deal of attention towards human rights abuses, including those concerning the LGBT community, in Azerbaijan. The former Soviet republic has a notorious track record on human rights and freedom of expression.
The Guardian

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Northern Ireland's legal system's racism blind spot

For many people of ethnic minority backgrounds in Northern Ireland, this has been a long, uncomfortable summer.

23/9/2014- There has been a massive rise in racist attacks this summer - so much so that there have been more racial offences recorded by the police in the last five months than in the whole of the previous year. Much of the rise seems to be driven by an increased number of attacks in Belfast. BBC Northern Ireland's Spotlight programme has investigated and asked whether the many victims of the growing number of racist attacks are being let down by the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland. "No matter how you look at these figures, they are deeply worrying," Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr told the programme. "There is a deep sense of intolerance throughout the city that has to be addressed."

'Easier to secure'
One way to address the issue is for the perpetrators of racist attacks to be convicted, and to receive longer sentences because of the racial element to the crime. However, there seems to be a problem with the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland when it comes to racist attacks. Joleena Flett of the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities said: "We have had cases where people will be the victim of the racist crime… if it goes to the courts, it will often be prosecuted as maybe an assault, but without a racial element, because that conviction is easier to secure." For victims of racist attacks, it is crucial that the criminal justice system sees an attack for what it is - motivated by racism.

So what is going on?
Partly, it comes down to legislation used in Northern Ireland to prosecute racist hate crimes.

Blind spot
In England and Wales, specific racially-aggravated offences were introduced in 1998. This means that a perpetrator can be prosecuted for a specific crime, such as racially-aggravated assault. In Northern Ireland, the basic offence, such as assault, is prosecuted, and then it is up to the judge to add on an enhanced sentence for the racial element if the crime can be proved to be racist. The trouble is, there are no figures available for when - or if - that happens, because the various agencies involved, including the Public Prosecution Service and the Courts Service, either have not properly collated them or have not published them. This means there is a massive rise in racial offences entering the criminal justice system, and a blind spot at the other end in terms of whether anybody is ever given a longer prison sentence in Northern Ireland for a racial crime. For many victims of racist attacks, this is simply not good enough.

The 1993 murder of Stephen Lawrence and the subsequent report by Sir William McPherson into the police handling of the killing led to sweeping reforms of the criminal justice system in England and Wales. "That's precisely what should have been done here," says Dr Robbie McVeigh, who has written two major reports into race and the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland. "It wasn't done. I would argue that we are still in pre-McPherson situation. We still haven't looked at McPherson and thought what we should do and change about criminal justice and race in Northern Ireland." The Director of Public Prosecutions, Barra McGrory QC, said the Public Prosecution Service was doing all it can to meticulously record crimes with a racial element and bring them to court. However, he pointed out that under the current system, "there is no easy opportunity to identify the race element in court". "It's the law - it's the way it is framed - and certainly the policy-makers and law-makers on these issues may want to revisit this," he added.
BBC News

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UK: Domestic abuse and hate crime higher in Plymouth than anywhere else in Devon and Cornwall

22/9/2014- More domestic violence and hate crimes are reported in Plymouth than anywhere else in Devon and Cornwall. In the last three years, since January 2011, there were 22,576 incidents of domestic abuse reported in Plymouth. And there were 1266 incidents of hate crime over the same time period. A hate crime is legally defined as a crime motivated by racial, religious, gender, sexual orientation, or other prejudice.

Domestic abuse cases have seen in an increase over the three year period – 1481 incidents were recorded in January to March 2011 but that rose to 1738 by April to June this year.

DOMESTIC ABUSE

Quarter Reported West Cornwall East Cornwall Plymouth South Devon Exeter, East & Mid Devon North & West Devon
Jan to Mar 2011         855               931              1,481        1,276                        1,082                      603
Apr to Jun 2011         902               969              1,497         1,354                       1,102                      655
Jul to Sep 2011         963              1,013             1,419        1,369                       1,010                       682
Oct to Dec 2011        897                 998            1,574         1,452                      1,174                        681
Jan to Mar 2012         933              1,001            1,510         1,299                      1,047                        741
Apr to Jun 2012         915                 978            1,497         1,341                      1,079                        680
Jul to Sep 2012          923              1,051            1,597         1,412                      1,180                        739
Oct to Dec 2012         902              1,016            1,501         1,427                      1,112                        670
Jan to Mar 2013          883                 928            1,645        1,291                       1,083                        671
Apr to Jun 2013          996               1,048            1,658       1,544                       1,189                        790
Jul to Sept2013       1,099                1,230            1,954       1,692                       1,259                        835
Oct to Dec 2013      1,055                1,084            1,771       1,511                       1,225                        738
Jan to Mar 2014          987                   973           1,715       1,397                       1,133                        706
Apr to Jun 2014        1,015               1,084            1,738       1,603                       1,182                        748
Total                    13,325            14,304          22,557    19,968                    15,857                     9,939

But police say changes to reporting may have affected the numbers. A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall police said: “In March 2013, the definition for domestic abuse changed to include all incidents involving those aged 16/17 years. “Previously (for about the last six years) the force only applied to adults age 18 and over, to intimate partners 16/17 years but not for inter-familial relationships.” And the force insists investigating domestic abuse is a priority. “The Force is committed to working with partner agencies to ensure that victims have confidence in the service to report such crimes,” the spokesman said. “In some Community Safety Partnership areas, increasing reporting is a specific target. “The force has invested significant resources into specialist teams to not only drive up the standard of service that it delivers to victims but to also to effectively deal with those that perpetrate such crimes. “In addition to specialist investigative resources the force also has officers that manage the risk to victims and work with those from minority backgrounds including hard to reach groups.”

Plymouth Domestic Abuse Service manager Katy Bradshaw added: “Just one incident of domestic abuse is one too many, and we would encourage anyone who may be experiencing physical or emotional abuse to contact us directly. "We work in close partnership with Devon and Cornwall Police and are here to help by offering a range of confidential support which can be tailored to each person’s individual circumstances." Hate crimes saw a similar rate of increase, going from 81 incidents in January to March 2011 to 122 in April to June this year. But better reporting is being accredited to the increase in numbers. “The force actively encourages the reporting of Hate Crime which may be reflected as an increase in the number of reported crimes over time therefore an increase in recorded crimes should be interpreted accordingly,” a spokesman said. But Mark Ayres, who spearheads Plymouth Pride, says the figures are a modest account of the true picture. “We know that homophobic hate crime is grossly under-reported in Plymouth,” he said.

“One of the main reasons we’re given for this is that people just can’t be bothered with the hassle. “For some people it’s an everyday occurrence and has happened throughout school and even at home. “For others, they don’t suffer it so much and so may be more inclined to report it when it does happen.” But he says, homophobic crime is just a small portion of hate crimes happening in Plymouth. “We’re aware of a massive increase in hate crimes towards people who are disabled and against Eastern Europeans, who do tend to report it. “Another reason for the spike in Plymouth could be because it’s so densely populated compared to other areas in Devon and Cornwall.” Plymouth Pride are hosting a series of events and workshops throughout Hate Crime Awareness Week in October which will culminate in a candlelight vigil on October 18.

Hate Crimes

Quarter Reported West Cornwall East Cornwall Plymouth South Devon Exeter, East & Mid Devon North & West Devon
Jan to Mar 2011          20                 30                 81                    31                            54                      29
Apr to Jun 2011          36                 30                115                    45                            55                      22
Jul to Sep 2011           26                 31                 91                    49                            53                      15
Oct to Dec 2011          24                 28                 88                    36                            53                      16
Jan to Mar 2012           30                15                  76                    44                            47                      21
Apr to Jun 2012           41                41                 100                   57                             59                      27
Jul to Sep 2012           27                25                   78                   55                             55                      29
Oct to Dec 2012          27                25                   81                   49                             43                      23
Jan to Mar 2013          28                 27                   81                   51                             47                      21
Apr to Jun 2013          49                 37                  110                   81                            64                       25
Jul to Sept 2013         33                 26                   102                  93                            50                       33
Oct to Dec 2013         39                 27                     69                  51                            36                       23
Jan to Mar 2014          31                 30                    72                   57                            53                       21
Apr to Jun 2014          42                 43                   122                  68                             61                       30
Total                      453               415               1,266                767                           730                     335

Mark continued: “The police are fantastic in doing what they can to support us and to tackle crimes like this and we have had a small grant from the council this year, which is a big improvement on previous years. “We are planning to produce pocket guides to give people offering advice on where and how to report a hate crime and we’re in the process of opening a third party reporting centre, through phone and internet, to help people who are fearful of reporting crimes to the police or who need some help and support. “There’s definitely a lot going on in Plymouth to combat hate crime.”

Quarter Reported West Cornwall East Cornwall Plymouth South Devon Exeter, East & Mid Devon North & West Devon
Jan to Mar 2011             20                30               81                   31                           54                     29
Apr to Jun 2011             36                30              115                   45                           55                     22
Jul to Sep 2011             26                 31               91                   49                           53                     15
Oct to Dec 2011            24                 28               88                   36                           53                     16
Jan to Mar 2012             30                 15               76                   44                           47                     21
Apr to Jun 2012             41                 41              100                   57                           59                     27
Jul to Sep 2012              27                25                78                   55                           55                     29
Oct to Dec 2012             27                25                81                   49                           43                     23
Jan to Mar 2013              28                27                81                   51                           47                     21
Apr to Jun 2013              49                37               110                   81                           64                     25
Jul to Sept 2013             33                26                102                  93                           50                     33
Oct to Dec 2013             39                27                 69                   51                           36                     23
Jan to Mar 2014              31               30                  72                   57                           53                     21
Apr to Jun 2014              42               43                 122                   68                           61                     30
Total                          453             415              1,266                767                         730                   335
The Plymouth Herald

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UK: The far right is changing but its anti-Islam message remains

By Chris Allen, Lecturer in Social Policy at University of Birmingham Chris Allen is an independent member of the Coalition Government's Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group. He receives no remuneration for this.

22/9/2014- A UK government adviser has suggested that at least five new groups have emerged within the past month to stake a claim to the far-right in the UK. And according to that adviser, the catalyst for their growth has been the increasing presence of Islamic State in the Middle East and the fallout from the inquiry into child sex abuse in Rotherham. Over the past decade and a half, far-right organisation in the UK and Europe have sought to gain political influence by promoting various incarnations of an insidious anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim ideology. They have taken the kind of discourse once used against Jews and Judaism and applied it to Muslims and Islam. These groups have sought to justify this by claiming the need to halt what they perceive to be the Islamification of Europe.

In the UK, this ideological frontier was opened and subsequently exploited by the British National Party (BNP). In the post-9/11 and post-7/7 climate, the BNP made significant political gains by arguing that Islam is a destructive and alien doctrine. At its zenith and on the back of highly Islamophobic campaigns, the BNP held a seat in the London Assembly, two MEPs in the European Parliament and 56 local councillors across the UK. Its leader, Nick Griffin openly declared in 2008 that if the BNP wanted more success “[we] should be positioning ourselves to take advantage for our own political ends of the growing wave of public hostility to Islam.

As the BNP’s star began to wane, its Islamophobic ideology was soon adopted and furthered by the English Defence League (EDL). Instead of concentrating on the political mainstream though, the EDL chose to take its ideology to the streets – particularly streets that were home to large Muslim populations and more recently, where Muslims had been convicted of being involved in “grooming gangs”, such as in Rotherham. The EDL always claimed that it was not, and never had been, a far-right group something that many refuted.

But various events over the past year have damaged both the BNP and EDL, potentially sowing the seeds of their demise. The BNP lost of all its seats in the European Parliament at the May 2014 elections, having for some time struggled with dwindling numbers, party infighting and severe financial problems. Without the income from Europe it is difficult to see how the party will be able to continue, at least in its current form. As for the EDL, it was thrown into disarray in October 2013 when its  leaders Tommy Robinson and Kevon Carroll both resigned, prompting a mixed response from the EDL rank and file. Despite various affirmations that it would continue without Robinson, the movement has since shown a lack of coherence and organisation and its supporters have fallen dramatically in number.

It is perhaps therefore unsurprising that new groups are emerging. The far-right has always been schismatic and somewhat disparate so those once active in the BNP and EDL will be looking for new outlets for their insidious ideological leanings. This is evident in groups such as the English Volunteer Force and the North West Infidels, both of which splintered off from the EDL. Likewise Britain First, a group created by former BNP members who fell out with the party’s hierarchy. Adopting a more confrontational and militaristic approach, Britain First members routinely speak about providing “frontline resistance” to the alleged Islamification of Britain. This group is best known for its “mosque invasions”, during which members confront worshippers and imams. They argue that Britain is a Christian country, aggressively force copies of the British Army Bible on them and argue that Muhammad was a false prophet.

It’s not yet clear whether the actual number of people choosing to join groups such as these is on the rise or whether the far-right is merely in a state of flux. Similar numbers of activists could just be shifting their allegiances or setting up new groups in response to being disillusioned with what else is on offer. It is clear though that all these groups will be setting Islam and Muslims squarely in their sights. They will continue to capitalise on “the growing wave of public hostility to Islam” the BNP identified just over half a decade ago. They will zoom in on the atrocities being committed by IS and the belief that child abuse cases in Rotherham, Oxford, Derby and elsewhere have some kind of link to religion.

As research into Islamophobia has shown, public perceptions of Islam and Muslims are such that little differentiation is evident between Muslims in Birmingham or Bradford and Muslims in Baghdad or Islamabad. The view is that they are pretty much the same and have similar aspirations and capabilities. So even though more than 100 British Muslims have penned an open letter unequivocally condemning IS atrocities, wider society will continue to see them as merely the public face of the faith. So while we should expect new groups to emerge to replace the BNP and EDL, we should not be complacent about the potential for the number of people empathising with far-right groups to grow. If we do, some of these groups could find their way into the political mainstream, as some similar organisations have in Europe.

Nor should we be complacent about the danger presented by any growth in the expression and dissemination of Islamophobic ideologies. As distasteful as IS has shown itself to be and as horrifying the abuse case in Rotherham is, any group that seeks to exploit and capitalise on either has to be seen to be as equally unwanted and potentially dangerous.
The Conversation

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Headlines 19 September, 2014

Make human rights for Muslims a reality in Europe: stop Islamophobia - Joint statement

Ahead of the European Day Against Islamophobia on 21 September, anti-racism, Muslim, Jewish, Roma and Black organisations [1]jointly call on EU leaders and decision makers to recognise Islamophobia as a specific form of racism and to tackle this increasing phenomenon.

19/9/2014- Ezra, 84 years old, violently attacked in the street because she wears a headscarf; Paula, 25 years old, not allowed to accompany her children to school because she looks Muslim; Youssef, controlled 5 times per week by the police; Cemil, refused a permanent contract by his employer for the last 14 years. These are real and recent examples that are occurring in the European Union, which is supposed to embody the values of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. These people all have one thing in common: they are victims of Islamophobia. Islamophobia - a form a racism targeting individuals or groups on the basis of their real or perceived belonging to the Muslim population - is widespread in many European countries. In France for instance, the Collective Against Islamophobia (CCIF) recorded 691 Islamophobic acts in 2013 (a 47% increase compared to 2012), with women being the primary victims (78% of the total number of incidents). In the United Kingdom, 734 cases were reported to the organisation Tell MAMA between May 2013 and February 2014.

Muslims or those perceived to be Muslim suffer from discrimination, stigmatisation and exclusion in all areas of life such as employment, education, vocational training, services and political participation, but also from racist speech and violence, especially on the internet. We call on the EU institutions to publically recognise and condemn Islamophobia as a form of racism. Efforts to fight this phenomenon need support at the highest level, but so far there has been little political will. The EU Fundamental Rights Agency issued a report on discrimination against Muslims in 2009 and reported that on average 1 in 3 Muslim respondents stated that they had experienced discrimination in the past 12 months. However, no further investigation or political action by key European bodies such as the European Parliament and the European Commission have taken place since.

A first step would be to mark this European Day Against Islamophobia by publicly condemning this increasing phenomenon in Europe. A second step would be to ensure that EU anti-discrimination laws are actually implemented by Member States and to urgently adopt EU equal treatment legislation which has been stalled in negotiations for the last six years and which would better protect against discrimination against Muslims, among others.

[1] African Empowerment Center Denmark, Association des Juristes Arabo Musulmans d’Europe, Austrian Muslim Initiative, Black Activists Rising Against Cuts, CEJI – A Jewish contribution to an inclusive Europe, Centrum mot Rasism, Collectif contre l’Islamophobie en Belgique, Coordinamento Associazioni Islamiche di Milano e Monza e Brianza, Collectif Contre l’Islamophobie en France, Etudiants Musulmanes de France, European Forum Of Muslim Women, European Muslim Initiative for Social Cohesion, European Roma Grassroots Organisations Network, European Roma Information Office, European Roma Rights Center, Fight Racism Now, Giovani Musulmani d’Italia, Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland, Kifkif, Movement Against Xenophobia, Muslim’s Rights Belgium, Pan African Movement for Justice, #SchauHin
EUropean Network Against Racism

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16/09/2014- The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) today published its fifth report on Slovakia. ECRI’s Chair, Mr Christian Ahlund, noted steps forward, but also a number of outstanding issues, such as the problematic application of the anti-discrimination law and the slow implementation of the Roma integration programmes. On a positive site, sexual orientation is now among the aggravating circumstances of a criminal offence and positive measures to compensate disadvantages linked to race and ethnicity are expressly allowed by the law; the Ombudsman has taken a proactive role in the anti-discrimination field; there are positive examples of using sport’s values to counter racism and stereotyping; and the so called municipal firms facilitate the active involvement of Roma at local level.

Despite these improvements, anti-“minorities” rhetoric and offensive discourse targeting sexual orientation remain common among politicians and hate speech is recurrent on the Internet. Moreover, disaggregated data on hate speech is not available. The reform of the Slovak National Centre for Human Rights should be completed without delay in order to ensure the effective application of the anti-discrimination law. Finally, poor housing and segregation in school are the most palpable examples of the inequalities encountered by Roma. In its report, ECRI has made a number of recommendations to the authorities, among which the following two require priority implementation and will be revisited by ECRI in two years’ time:

@ a mechanism for collecting disaggregated data on hate speech incidents should be put in place and data made public;
@ the Slovak National Centre for Human Rights should be reformed and endowed with sufficient financial and human resources in order to fulfil independently and efficiently the tasks assigned to it.

The report, including Government observations, is available here. It was prepared following ECRI’s contact visit to Slovakia in November 2013 [Press release] and takes account of developments up to 20 March 2014.
The Council of Europe - ECRI.

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16/9/2014- The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) today published its fourth report on Slovenia. ECRI’s Chair, Mr Christian Ahlund, noted steps forward, but also a number of outstanding issues, such as persistent widespread discrimination against Roma and an atmosphere of hostility towards the “erased”. Slovenia ratified Protocol No. 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights in 2010. Important steps have been taken to improve the situation of Roma, including the adoption of the Roma Community Act and the National Programme of Measures for Roma. All Roma have access to pre-schools, Roma assistants are being trained and an increased number of employment and public works projects for Roma have been launched. The “erased” have the possibility retroactively to reinstate their permanent residence status by applying, within three years, for a permanent residence permit. A law establishing a domestic compensation scheme for the “erased” has been enacted. Training has been initiated for police on stereotype and prejudice awareness and discrimination prevention in a multicultural community.

Despite these improvements, many Roma continue to live in isolated settlements well below the minimum standards and where there is often a lack of access to safe water. The Law Implementing the Principle of Equal Treatment is dysfunctional and the Advocate of the Principle of Equality lacks organisational and budgetary independence. Hate speech on the Internet has increased, targeting mainly Roma, LGBT people and Muslims. Finally, there is no body independent of the police and prosecution entrusted with the examination of cases of alleged police misconduct, including racist or racially discriminatory behaviour. In its report, ECRI has made a number of recommendations to the authorities, among which the following three require priority implementation and will be revisited by ECRI in two years’ time:
@ a suitable solution should be found with all parties involved for a fully independent national specialised body to combat discrimination, including racial discrimination, to start operating as soon as possible;
@ a suitable and fair solution should be found to compensate the “erased”, as required by the European Court of Human Rights, as well as to resolve the legal status of any “erased” who wish to obtain Slovenian citizenship or permanent residence in Slovenia;
@ immediate action should be taken to ensure that all Roma have practical access to safe water in or in the immediate vicinity of their settlements where this is still a problem.

The report, including Government observations, is available here. It was prepared following ECRI’s contact visit to Slovenia in April 2013 [Press release] and takes account of developments up to 4 December 2013.
The Council of Europe - ECRI.

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16/9/2014- The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) today publishes its fifth report on Switzerland. Christian Ahlund, Chair of ECRI, said that there are positive developments but that some concerns remain, including the rise of xenophobia and insufficient support for the integration of some migrants. ECRI welcomes that, at cantonal level, new institutions have been given the task of assisting victims of racism and discrimination and that several media combat hate speech on their websites. The Confederation and the cantons have adopted integration programmes and a system of indicators will measure their impact. Steps have been taken to ensure early education for children with a migrant background.

At the same time, Switzerland has not enacted effective legislation to combat racism and discrimination. Victims cannot submit a complaint to a body specialised in combating racism and discrimination everywhere in the country. Due to the xenophobic evolution of political discourse, several vulnerable groups experience significant deterioration in their living conditions. Young lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons are often victims of hate speech. In its report, ECRI has made several recommendations to the authorities, among which the following two require priority implementation and will be reviewed by ECRI in two years’ time:
@ confer to the bodies specialised in combating racism and discrimination the competence to hear and consider complaints;
@ to task one or more independent authorities with combating intolerance and discrimination against LGBT persons.

The report is available here. It was prepared following ECRI’s contact visit to Switzerland in October 2013 [Press release] and takes account of developments up to 20 March 2014.
The Council of Europe - ECRI.

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16/9/2014- The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) today published its fifth report on Bulgaria. ECRI’s Chair, Mr Christian Ahlund, noted steps forward, but also a number of outstanding issues, such as low achievement in education and disproportionately high drop-out rates among Roma pupils, and the climate of intolerance and xenophobia against refugees. On the positive side, amendments to the Criminal Code introduced enhanced penalties for murder and causing bodily harm committed with hooligan, racist or xenophobic motives. A National Roma Integration Strategy, requiring every region to develop a strategy and action plan for the integration of Roma, and a National Strategy on Migration, Asylum and Integration were adopted. A change in the law now allows illegally built houses to be legalised and no longer subject to demolition leaving Roma families homeless. Obligatory pre-schooling for two years has been introduced in order to ensure an equal start for every child and early socialisation.

However, hate speech or violence targeting sexual orientation or gender identity is not recognised as an offence in the Criminal Code. Racist and intolerant hate speech in political discourse is escalating, the main target now being refugees. A growing number of ultra-nationalist/fascist groups and political parties operate in Bulgaria; one such party is represented in Parliament. Racist violence continues to be perpetrated against Roma, Muslims, Jews and non-traditional religious groups and their property. It is seldom prosecuted under the criminal law provisions specifically enacted for this purpose. In its report, ECRI has made a number of recommendations to the authorities, among which the following two require priority implementation and will be revisited by ECRI in two years’ time:

@ an awareness-raising campaign should be urgently organised promoting a positive image of and tolerance for asylum seekers and refugees and ensuring that the public understands the need for international protection;
@ the Commission for Protection against Discrimination should produce and publish information about discrimination, explaining the procedures for discrimination complaints, in a variety of languages used in the country and disseminate it widely.

The report, including Government observations, is available here. It was prepared following ECRI’s contact visit to Bulgaria in November 2013 [Press release] and takes account of developments up to 21 March 2014.
The Council of Europe - ECRI

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UK: Dozen arrests at mass far-right protest rally

There were ugly scenes as police officers and some protestors clashed as the far-right English Defence League descended on Rotherham in the wake of the damning report into child sexual exploitation.

14/9/2014- The report revealed how 1,400 children in the town were subjected to horrors by largely Pakistani men including being raped, trafficked and assaulted in over a 16-year period and pointed to a failure on part of the authorities to deal with the scandal. EDL supporters outraged at the abuse called for justice for the victims and for Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright to lose his job. He was the Rotherham councillor with responsibility for children’s services for five of the years when the abuse is said to have occurred and he is now responsible for setting policing priorities in South Yorkshire and holding the county’s police force to account.

Eleven man and a woman were in custody overnight, including a 20-year-old from Mexborough, who was arrested on suspicion of causing damage to a mosque. Around 800 supporters from the EDL took to the streets yesterday, with Unite Against Facism mounting a counter protest in All Saints Square. Around 1,500 police officers were drafted in to police the protest. Three Rotherham men - two aged 38 and one 34 - were arrested as well as a 44-year-old Rotherham woman, who was held on suspicion of causing racially and religiously aggravated fear of alarm and distress. An 18-year-old, from the town, was arrested on suspicion of assaulting an officer. Two 26-year-olds were taken to hospital with what were believed to be minor injuries.

Officers were forced to drawn their batons at one flashpoint when a crowd started pushing officers and hurling missiles at them. Metal barriers were pushed over and thrown at officers as a splinter group of EDL supporters left the march, but after 15 minutes of mayhem order was resumed and the protestors continued along the pre-arranged route to end up at Rotherham Main Street police station. Chief Superintendent Jason Harwin, of South Yorkshire Police, who said earlier that police “fully acknowledge our previous failings”, said: “The protests have passed with only sporadic outbreaks of disorder. “I would like to thank all officers and partners involved in the operation for their professionalism leading up to the event and throughout yesterday.”
The Yorkshire Post

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Belgian Synagogue Set on Fire in 'Criminal' Attack

Amid a wave of anti-Semitism in Europe, and just four months since deadly Brussels shooting, attackers set fire to a synagogue.

16/9/2014- A fire broke out in a synagogue in the Belgian capitals of Brussels Tuesday, in what appears to be a "criminal" act, according to reports. Belgian daily La Dernière Heure said that several people broke into synagogue, which is located in the predominantly Muslim neighborhood of Anderlecht, and ignited several fires on the fourth floor of the building. The wife and two children of the synagogue's caretaker suffered slight smoke inhalation in the fire on the top floor of the building, where they lived, said Laurens Dumont, a spokesman for the city prosecutor. The caretaker was absent at the time. Dumont said "it would seem that the fire was set deliberately" at the synagogue in the Brussels neighborhood near the main train station, but the investigation was in its early stages. "All leads are open," Dumont said.
The synagogue reportedly serves roughly 240 people in the area, whose once-large Jewish community has dwindled in size.

Although Belgium suffers from high levels of anti-Semitism, the leader of Anderlecht's Jewish community, Yehuda Guttman, said that he was still unsure as to the attackers' motivations. "I do not know ... If the act was anti-Semitic, the authors would have burned a Torah, the sacred books. And that's not the case. Here we live at peace with everyone," he said. The same synagogue was also attacked in 2010, when unknown assailants hurled firebombs in a previous attempt to set it alight. Belgian Jewry has been shaken in recent months by a surge in anti-Semitism that has engulfed most of Europe. Just four months ago, the community was rocked by an anti-Semitic terrorist attack in which an Islamist gunman opened fire with an assault rifle in the Brussels Jewish Museum, killing four people. And just last Sunday, visitors to a Holocaust memorial close to the synagogue were attacked by thugs who threw stones and bottles at them, according to media reports.
Arutz Sheva

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Rifle-toting man making threats arrested outside French Jewish school

14/9/2014- Police in Marseille, France, arrested a man brandishing a hunting rifle in front of a Jewish school who threatened to commit murder. The man, who was not named, approached the Gan Ami school on the afternoon of Sept. 10 and shouted “I will kill all of you,” an unnamed police source told the Le Figaro daily. The man, 48, was drunk and was arrested soon after making the threats, according to the report. He lived next to the school and was annoyed that a truck parked outside the school was blocking traffic and prompting drivers to sound their horns, the police source said. Parents were arriving to pick up students at the time. The incident comes amid a dramatic increase in anti-Semitic attacks in 2014 compared to last year. In response, police have beefed up security at Jewish institutions, especially schools. The tightened security is part of a heightened state of alert that began in 2012, when an Islamist murdered three children and a rabbi at a Jewish school in Toulouse. SPCJ, the security unit of France’s Jewish communities, said the increase in anti-Semitic incidents this year owed to a proliferation of attacks on Jews over Israel’s summer conflict with Hamas in Gaza.
JTA News

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Serbia: German gay rights activist critically injured in Belgrade assault

A German man who took part in a gay rights conference has been hospitalized with life-threatening injuries after he was attacked in central Belgrade. The assault comes ahead of a scheduled gay pride march in the city.

13/9/2014- Serbian police say the man, who has been identified only as D.H., was beaten up by unknown assailants in downtown Belgrade early on Saturday morning. Jovanka Todorovic, from the organization Labris which hosted the conference on LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual) rights, told Associated Press the man was attacked by a group of young men who bashed him with a glass ashtray. He was taken to Belgrade's emergency hospital suffering life-threatening head injuries and internal bleeding. "He has undergone surgery and been put in intensive care as his condition is very serious," Dusan Jovanovic, the hospital's deputy director, told news agency AFP.

Serbia's Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said in a statement that he had ordered an "intensive investigation" to bring the perpetrators to justice. "We will not allow these kinds of things to remain unpunished ... and we will arrest the German citizen's attackers," he said. The incident is not unique in Serbia. The country has a long history of violence against gay rights campaigners by far-right groups - a serious challenge for the government, which is currently seeking EU membership and has pledged to improve its protection of human rights. Later on Saturday, anti-riot police were on hand as hundreds of gay rights activists marched through central Belgrade in protest of the latest attack.

The gay pride parade is scheduled to take place in two weeks and will be the first event of its kind since a gay pride march in 2010 resulted in clashes between police and ultra-nationalists that left more than 100 people injured. After clashes in 2010, authorities banned such marches, citing security concerns that participants may be attacked by right-wing extremists.
The Deutsche Welle.

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German cabinet joins demonstration to speak out against anti-Semitism

Germany's Jewish community has gathered to protest anti-Semitism. Chancellor Merkel's cabinet is also there to speak out against the hatred, recently reignited when Israel launched an offensive on the Gaza Strip.

14/9/2014- Crowds gathered before the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on Sunday for a demonstration against a recent wave of anti-Semitism in Germany. The Central Council of Jews in Germany organized the rally, citing a stark rise in aggression and violence toward the country's Jewish communities. This protest is necessary after "the worst anti-Semitic rhetoric in many years," the Central Council's president, Dieter Graumann, told the demonstrators. Graumann noted that criticism of the Israeli government was acceptable, but that the lines between disapproval of a country's decisions and hatred of its people must never be blurred. "Enough is enough...We are here to [say] together, as one: There is no place for the hatred of Jews!" Members of the German government were in attendance on Sunday, including Chancellor Angela Merkel. Other prominent guests included German President Joachim Gauck, the head of the German bishops' conference, Cardinal Reinhard Marx and the head of the Council of the German Evangelical Church, Nikolaus Schneider. At least 4,000 people had gathered for the demonstration in Berlin on Sunday.

Judaism 'part of our identity'
The German chancellor also spoke out against the wave of violence and hatred, reminding Germans of their duty to stand up against anti-Semitism. The Jewish way of life "is part of our identity," she told the crowd, adding: "We want [members of the Jewish community] to feel safe in Germany." Echoing a promise made this summer by the German justice minister, the chancellor reminded the protesters on Sunday that German authorities would rigorously pursue any threats and acts of violence toward Jews.

Summer violence
The noticeable rise in anti-Semitism began this summer after the Israeli government authorized a military campaign against Hamas in the Gaza StripThe nearly two months of fighting  - including airstrikes and raids on underground tunnels - resulted in the deaths of roughly 2,100 people in Gaza. According to the United Nations, 70 percent of those killed were civilians. Israel lost 72 of its own citizens, most of whom were military personnel. In Germany, there have been reports of threats made against Jewish communities. At least two Palestinians have been arrested in recent weeks on suspicion of setting a fire at a synagogue in the western city of Wuppertal. The controversy surrounding the deadly military campaign drew criticism not only from abroad, but also at home. On Friday, 43 reservists from Israel's elite army intelligence wrote an open letter to their government, saying they refused to serve after the military's "abuses" against Palestinians.
The Deutsche Welle.

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Headlines 12 September, 2014

Russia: Lesbian Tango Instructor Murdered in St. Petersburg, Throat Slashed

12/9/2014- Ekaterina Khomenko, a 29-year-old qay tango teacher, was found in her car early on September 7 with a four-inch gash across her throat. The engine was still running when a street cleaner chanced on her vehicle. Police, who initially entertained the theory that Khomenko may have killed herself, are now treating her death as a murder. Early reports in local newspapers made no mention of Khomenko’s ties to the LGBT community. Khomenko’s father, Valery, was one of the first to publicize the killing. Commenting on the last photograph Ekaterina posted to her Vkontakte account, he announced that detectives phoned him at 9am on September 7 to inform him that his daughter’s body had been discovered. According to his comment online, police were most interested to learn if Katya had any history with drugs, money problems, or suicidal tendencies.

Two days later, a Vkontakte user named Timur Isaev launched a flame war in the comments below this photograph, saying that gay people “always die earlier than healthy people [sic].” Isaev would leave 48 more comments in the next 48 hours, repeating his homophobic message for Khomenko’s mourning friends. Lesbiru.com, an online portal for Russian-speaking lesbians, points out that Isaev is a member of the anti-gay Vkontakte community “Gay Hunters,” where he shares homophobic materials with the group’s 122 other subscribers. Isaev is also active on Twitter, where he posts more anti-gay content and praises Russia’s recent annexation of Crimea. According to the guerilla news website Contraband, St. Petersburg’s LGBT community is certain Khomenko’s career as a gay tango instructor played a role in her murder. Khomenko’s friend and colleague, Angelina Tishina, has launched a closed group on Vkontakte to collect money for Valery Khomenko, presumably to help pay the costs of Katya's funeral, which took place yesterday outside Moscow.

Russia's LGBT community faces many legal and social challenges. Though homosexuality was officially removed from the Russian list of mental illnesses in 1999, human rights activists have watched in dismay as local, regional, and federal lawmakers have passed several bans on so-called “gay propaganda” in recent years. Before Moscow's military intervention in Eastern Ukraine, the crackdown on gay rights in Russia was perhaps the Kremlin's biggest publicity problem internationally.
Update: The news portal Spbdnevnik.ru reports that Ekaterina Khomenko was once a driver for a St. Petersburg ride-sharing service called “Rainbow Taxi,” an Uber-like service that caters to the local LGBT community, offering safe rides to the city's gay-friendly clubs and bars. The taxi service says Khomenko hasn't worked as a driver in over two years, but her friends suspect that she may have responded to a “Rainbow” call on the night she was murdered.

Update: The news portal Spbdnevnik.ru reports that Ekaterina Khomenko was once a driver for a St. Petersburg ride-sharing service called “Rainbow Taxi,” an Uber-like service that caters to the local LGBT community, offering safe rides to the city's gay-friendly clubs and bars. The taxi service says Khomenko hasn't worked as a driver in over two years, but her friends suspect that she may have responded to a “Rainbow” call on the night she was murdered.
Global Voices

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Russia: Racism and Xenophobia in August 2014

The following is our monthly review of instances of xenophobia and radical nationalism, along with any government countermeasures, for the month of August 2014. The review is based on material gathered by Sova Center in the course of our daily monitoring.

12/9/2014- In August, at least three people fell victim to racist and neo-Nazi violence, in the Krasnoyarsk and the Tomsk regions. Since the beginning of the year, 13 people have been killed as a result of racist violence, with 74 more injured and one receiving a serious death threat. Such incidents have been recorded in 21 regions of Russia.

The only action of some importance organized by the far-right in August was one with the slogan “For Donetsk Russia”. This was held in Moscow on the August 2 by the Battle for Donbass public movement. The movement includes the Right Conservative Alliance, the Eurasian Youth Union, the Right Platform. The action was coordinated by the Right Conservative Alliance member Alexey Zhivov and attended by the activists of Konstantin Krylov’s National-Democratic Party (NDP), Alexander Dugin, Egor Kholmogorov, Roman Antonovsky of the Right Conservative Alliance and Valentin Tabachny (early suspected of posting xenophobic materials on VKontakte social network site).

The far-right went on with their anti-immigrant raids. For instance, on August 10, the National-Socialist Initiative (NSI) held a “Russian sweep” with the movement’s leader Dmitry Bobrov and several others swept over the city market places checking immigrant workers’ documents.

In August, we only recorded one incident of xenophobic vandalism. In Korolyov near Moscow a standing cross was desecrated. Since the beginning of the year, we could count no fewer than 29 targets of xenophobic vandalism in 24 Russian regions.

We are unaware of any guilty verdicts for racist violence issued in August 2014. Since the beginning of the year, at least 12 such verdicts have been issued with 30 people convicted in 10 Russian regions.

In August 2014, one guilty verdict was issued for xenophobic vandalism. In Surgut a vandal was sentenced under Part 2 of Article 2014 of Criminal Code to two months of arrest for making xenophobic inscriptions in a lift cabin. That is the only verdict for xenophobic vandalism issued this year we are aware of.

In August 2014, at least 12 verdicts convicted 12 people in 12 Russian regions for xenophobic propaganda. The sentence against Maxim (Tesak) Martsinkevich issued by Kuntsevsky District Court on August 15. Tesak (the nickname means “backsword”, and is sometimes translated as "Slasher") was sentenced to five years of strict regime penal colony for posting three videos on VKontakte (“Kick the churki out! Pre-election campaign!”, “Tesak on the movie Stalingrad and the situation in Biryulyovo”, and “Tesak on the movie Okolofutbola” (“Near Football”).

Since the beginning of 2014, 89 verdicts have been issued against as much people in 43 regions of Russia.

The Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated six times in August. Entries 2342-2424 were added. The additions include various xenophobic materials, mostly videos from Vkontakte, and some more: two songs by Korroziya metalla thrash metal group, a leaflet found at the bus stop in Abakan, Platsdarm and Ataka far-right websites, books by Hans Günther and Joseph Goebbels, William Powell’s famous Anarchist Cookbook, a brochure by neo-pagan ideologist Alexey (Dobroslav) Dobrovolsky, an article from Svoimi imenami newspaper and an article by imprisoned radical publicist Boris Stomakhin. A number of Islamic materials from some Hizb ut-Tahrir texts to militant Jihadist Imarat Kavkaz videos and Kavkaz-tsentr mirrors were also included. So was a site copying the Federal List itself but containing links to the banned materials. In August, at least two materials were added twice on the list owing to court sentences issued simultaneously, a video containing a text by American racist leader David Lane and a video entitled Mujahids are invincible, you, dogs, realize this.

In late August, the Federal List of Extremist Organizations published by the Ministry of Justice grew up to 36 items (the organizations banned as terrorist not included). Muslim religious organization of the village of Borovsky, the Tyumen region banned by the Tyumen Regional Court on May 6, 2014 and Russian Native Community of Schyolkovsky district, the Moscow region deemed extremist by the Schyolkovsky City Court of the Moscow region were added on the list.
SOVA Center for Information and Analysis.

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It's time to take action against Islamophobia in Europe

Islamophobia is one of the most violent and frequent forms of racist violence and discrimination in Europe today. But it remains unrecognized, leaving the EU powerless in quantifying and countering this phenomenon, writes Elsa Ray.
By Elsa Ray, spokeswoman of the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF), a member organisation of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR).

12/9/2014- Imagine a country where Muslim women are banned from restaurants and beaten on the street. Where Muslim bearded men can’t sit in the metro without being avoided like the plague or insulted. Imagine a country where mosques are being vandalised every week. Where Muslim cemeteries are defaced every month. Now, imagine that these cases happened in Europe in recent years. In France, The Collective Against Islamophobia (CCIF) recorded 691 Islamophobic acts in 2013 (an increase of 47% compared to 2012), with women being the primary victims (78% of the total number of incidents). The United Kingdom's biggest police force, the Metropolitan Police, recorded 500 Islamophobic hate crimes in 2013.

The situation is already critical and the phenomenon is steadily increasing. However, there is no comprehensive Europe-wide data collected on Islamophobia, and no political will of EU Member States to combat this worrying phenomenon. The Fundamental Rights Agency of the European Union issued a report on discrimination against Muslims in 2009 and reported that on average, 1 in 3 Muslim respondents stated that they had experienced discrimination in the past 12 months. However, no further meaningful investigation or political action by key European bodies such as the European Parliament and the European Commission have taken place since. Data collected by NGOs show that in the UK, France, Belgium, northern and southern European countries, women are the main targets of Islamophobic discrimination and hate crimes, especially when they wear a headscarf. Which makes Islamophobia a specific form of racism and sexism. These are two very good reasons for Europe to act.

2014 is the year of the European elections, and they have been marked by the rise of far-right parties and hate speech across the political spectrum. In this very tense context, the European Parliament’s role must be to combat all forms of hate, including Islamophobia. Hate speech by members of the European Parliament or by national politicians must also be systematically denounced and sanctioned. The lack of data must be the number one issue for the European Parliament. Indeed, without strong data on Islamophobia, policy makers cannot make a comprehensive assessment of the phenomenon and therefore cannot adopt efficient measures to stop it. This leaves the victims of Islamophobia unprotected and increasingly marginalised. Members of the European Parliament should also ensure structured and effective cooperation with civil society actors fighting racism and Islamophobia from across Europe to have a first assessment of the situation. It would also be a first step towards a true recognition of the phenomenon by the European institutions.

The European Parliament and the European Commission should encourage and support local, national and European initiatives to encourage victims to report Islamophobic incidents or hate crimes, to support victims of Islamophobia and to empower them with practical and legal tools. In addition, the European Commission should live up to its mandate and ensure that Member States are implementing EU anti-discrimination legislation, by investigating more closely countries where concerns have been raised. Racism, and especially Islamophobia, have become commonplace. It is time to reverse the trend and for Islamophobia to be recognised at the highest level by EU decision makers. Ahead of the Council of Europe’s European Day Against Islamophobia on 21 September, a first step would be for the European Institutions to mark this day by publicly condemning the increasing phenomenon in Europe.
EuroActiv

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UK: Islamic State and Rotherham abuse 'fuelling far right'

Islamic State extremism and the Rotherham abuse scandal are fuelling a far-right backlash in the UK, one of the Home Office's most senior advisers on right-wing extremism has said.

18/9/2014- The anonymous worker claims the government has overlooked the problem amid its focus on tackling jihadists. The Home Office says it is working to prevent "all forms of extremism". But the Institute for Strategic Dialogue claims the government must engage more with the far right.

'Worrying period'
The senior adviser works directly with right-wing extremists as part of the Home Office's Prevent strategy, and asked to remain anonymous to protect his personal safety. He says the government has underestimated the threat posed by the far right in Britain. "This is one of the most worrying periods in right-wing extremism, given the growth in right-wing groups and the recent news events which are making them more angry," he explains. The adviser, who has 27 years of field work experience, says he has spoken to several individuals in recent weeks who have displayed real anger at the ongoing conflict in the Middle East - where Islamic State (IS) militants control large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria.

Membership to far-right groups, he adds, is on the rise. He claims that since last year, at least five new groups have formed, often having branched off from existing groups to follow a stronger ideology and comprising over 100 members. He says one group member told him he would like to implement death camps in the UK. "When I asked who he would like to put in the death camps, he just listed everyone that he didn't see as white British," he added.

'Increased' racial hate crime
Data compiled by Tell Mama UK, which monitors anti-Islamic hatred, reflects fears that the actions of IS are provoking Islamophobia in the UK. In August it received 219 reports of abusive incidents targeted at Muslims in England - the same month as the IS beheading of US journalist James Foley. This was almost double the 112 incidents recorded in January, though the organisation stresses its figures only show a glimpse of the full picture, with many victims of racial hate crime afraid to report abuse. Even though Tell Mama UK's data was collected anecdotally - the Muslim Council of Britain supports its claim that there has been an escalation in violence against individuals.

The findings of an inquiry into child sex abuse in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013 are also a cause of increased hate crime towards Muslims, Tell Mama UK suggests. The report, commissioned by Rotherham Borough Council, found at least 1,400 children were sexually exploited by criminal gangs predominantly of Pakistani heritage.
In August, when it was made public, over a quarter of anti-Muslim hate crimes (58) recorded by Tell Mama UK were said to be provoked by the scandal. Last weekend an English Defence League (EDL) rally took place in Rotherham in response to the revelations revealed by the inquiry.

Groups 'encourage active role'
One former member of a neo-Nazi group, who wants to remain anonymous, agrees that current domestic and global events present the "ideal recruitment ground" for right-wing extremist groups. He says once young members sign up groups urge them to take on an active role. "There are books that are available on the internet that you're encouraged to read," he says, "you'll then be questioned on your knowledge." Asked what the books are about, he replies: "How to disable somebody and how to basically kill people." He says he originally joined the neo-Nazi movement as he felt the British population was being ignored. "Coming from a working class background, I was very conscious of money being allocated to other areas [by the government]," he explains. He says he no longer holds racist views.

Success abroad
The Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) think tank, which specialises in research on right-wing extremism, is calling on the UK government to change its approach to tackling far-right movements. It has published research which, it says, suggests Britain must find new ways to engage with such groups. "When individuals are entrenched in these movements there is very little support or option for them to leave," its research and policy manager on far-right extremism and intolerance, Vidhya Ramalingam, claims. "We've seen there's evidence from programmes that exist in Sweden, Germany and Scandinavia, that actually if you offer a space for individuals to turn to when they are doubting their ideology, we can prevent violence from happening in the first place," she adds.

Former Labour cabinet minister Hazel Blears told the Today programme that encouraging people to integrate more would help combat extremism of all kinds. "What really needs to be done, is what we've tried to do for a long time - certainly I have - and that's to bring people together. If you bring people together, it's a lot more difficult to hate each other if you're sharing day-to-day lives. ISD reports that since 2000 the Exit programme in Germany has helped over 500 individuals leave the extreme right, with a 97% success rate. The Exit-Fryshuset programme in Sweden has achieved 94% success with 133 people, says ISD. The Home Office insists much of its work on radicalisation specifically addresses far-right extremism, with a quarter of the 2,000 cases it has dealt with since April 2012 being concerned with the problem. It says its Prevent strategy "tackles all forms of extremism, including from the far right".
BBC News

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UK: Gay photographer blinded in one eye after hate crime attack

Tyler Maddick, 20, had only moved back to Wales days before the shocking incident where he was branded a 'faggot' and had petrol thrown in his face

12/9/2014- A gay photographer was blinded in one eye by an attacker who branded him a “faggot” before throwing petrol in his face in a “horrific” incident. Tyler Maddick fell victim to the shocking late-night attack just days after moving home to Wales. The 20-year-old was walking home from Swansea city centre late on Thursday when a car drew up alongside him and he heard a homophobic insult moments before being covered in liquid. He said: “I’ve just moved back to Swansea and I went out to see some friends. “Basically I left my friend at the train station and I started to walk up towards Penlan area. I got to a road crossing and I heard this car stop up behind me. “I was on my own, my phone had run out of battery and I heard this homophobic slur. “Next thing I knew I’d got this liquid in my face. I ran home but I couldn’t call anyone because my phone had died. “I washed it out as my eye was starting to burn up.”

When he went to hospital the following day he was dealt the terrible blow about the loss of his sight. “Four years ago I had a bacterial infection on my optic nerve and my left eye lost 90% [vision] but now I can’t see anything,” he said. “I was told there and then I’ve lost all of my vision in my left eye. “There was just something about that day. Me and my other friend – she’s transgender – were out and somebody threw water at me and her on High Street before the petrol, at least two or three hours before.” Tyler never thought he would be the victim of a hate crime. He said: “To be fair I think I was more angry than anything. I’m quite a strong-minded person and it wasn’t so much that they had done it, it was the fact that they targeted me because if they can pick on me they can pick on anyone.”

When it comes to his sexuality Tyler said: “With me it’s quite obvious so I guess they must have just picked up on it.” Andrew Davies, of The LGBT Unity Project Wales, said: “This is quite horrific.” Tyler, who is originally from Somerset but moved to Swansea when he was four when his family inherited his grandmother’s, house has been living away from Wales and had only moved back a few days ago. He added: “I thought at first it was water because of the shock. “I didn’t quite realise. I could smell petrol but I thought that was from the car then I started walking for a bit longer and my face started to burn up. “I’ve always thought ‘It’s never going to happen to me’. “I’ve lived in Swansea for 15 years and I’ve never had a problem. I moved back about three or four days ago.”

Tyler, who is currently looking for work, has been a freelance photographer and has photographed weddings. He studied at the London College of Fashion. He said is determined not to let the attack stop him pursuing his passion. But he admitted he was shocked by the incident and added: “The only ever grief I have had has been people shouting from their cars.” He said he had received dozens of messages of support following the shocking attack. “I have had so many messages, I think I have had at least 40, my friends are being very supportive.” Mr Davies added: “It is unusual to see anything that violent. “There’s still a lot of hatred that goes around. Recently Plaid Cymru have talked about the increase in hate crime in South Wales but it’s not an increase in crime – it’s an increase in people reporting it. “And there’s been better relations between the LGBT community and the police.”

Earlier this year Jeff Cuthbert AM, at the time Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty, launched an initiative to tackle hate crimes. Speaking at the launch of Tackling Hate Crimes and Incidents: A Framework for Action at the Millennium Stadium, Mr Cuthbert said: “My message to victims of hate crime across Wales today is that we want you to have the confidence to report [what has happened] and that action will be taken. Hate in any form will not be tolerated. A culture where victims feel they have to suffer in silence is not going to be tolerated any longer.” He added: “We want our young people and children to grow up in a Wales where people are accepted for who they are and are not judged for the colour of their skin, their sexual orientation, their gender identity, their disability or their age.”

The All-Wales Hate Crime Reporting Centre received 1,810 reports in the 2012/13 financial year but Mr Cuthbert added: “We also know that this is the tip of the iceberg and many people don’t report hate crime.” A South Wales Police spokesman confirmed officers were investigating the incident and said: “I can confirm that we are investigating an incident where a man has reported that he has had petrol thrown at him while walking along Pentregethin Road, Gendros, in Swansea at approximately 22.30pm on Thursday night.”
Wales Online

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The complex rise in Northern Ireland racist hate crime

Racially motivated crimes in Northern Ireland have risen by more than 50% in a single year, but what is behind this?

11/9/2014- Kerry Ann Brown still has fond memories of the Rathcoole housing estate in Newtownabbey, on the outskirts of Belfast. With its well kept flowerbeds and clean streets, it was - she says - a good place to bring up her family. "Most of the people are quite friendly," she remembers. "And it's been known as the best kept housing estate since 2011." But, in May this year, Ms Brown says she felt forced to leave the estate after what she believes was a racist attack on her family home. "They wrote, 'Blacks out' there," she says, pointing at the front door of her former home. "And then 10 months later we got a brick and a bottle thrown through the front window." She explains: "It was quite obvious to me that it was racially motivated. Because of all the houses on Linford Green, why is it only my house that had 'Blacks out' written on the door and then a bottle and a brick through my window? "One of my neighbours told me she was very sorry. All she could do was give me a bunch of flowers. All the neighbours on the street came out. They were very upset. They were livid," she adds.

'Greater awareness'
Originally from Jamaica, Ms Brown is testament to the changing face of Northern Ireland. The 2011 census found that 32,400 people - 1.8% of the usually resident population - belonged to ethnic minority groups. This was more than double the proportion 10 years earlier, when the figure stood at 0.8%. These ethnic minority groups are increasingly under attack. Incidents range from verbal abuse, to victims having stones thrown at their homes or rubbish dumped in their garden, Anna Lo of the cross-community Alliance Party tells me. Originally from Hong Kong, Ms Lo is the first and only member of the Northern Ireland Assembly to come from an ethnic minority. She lists other serious cases - including physical attacks on immigrants - but says racism is nothing new in Northern Ireland. The change, she believes, is the media focus since the Troubles ended. "The newspapers probably didn't have column space to report on ethnic minority issues when there were bombs, bullets and assassinations," she says. "But I think since peace, we are beginning to see a higher awareness of ethnic minorities being attacked."

Immigrant population 'static'
The figures, though, suggest more than just a change in perception. According to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), in the 12 months to June 2014 racist incidents rose by 36%, from 830 to 1,132. In the same period, racist crimes increased by 51%, from 525 to 796. Most of the increase is concentrated within Belfast, where on average a racially motivated offence takes place at least once a day. The PSNI is so concerned, it introduced a dedicated phone line for reporting racist hate crime in May. And yet the immigrant population appears to be relatively static. The most recent figures available from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency show approximately the same number of people leaving Northern Ireland as arriving from outside the UK.

'Unpleasant taste'
Police say most of the incidents have been happening in loyalist areas. Officers from the PSNI believe that elements of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), a loyalist paramilitary group, are behind some of the attacks that Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr described as leaving "the unpleasant taste of... ethnic cleansing". The flag of US white supremacist group the Ku Klux Klan was seen flying from a lamppost in Belfast in July. A shopkeeper who runs a store selling flags in east Belfast told the BBC that he is asked for KKK flags at least once a week. He described those trying to buy them as "ordinary working people" - all men, most of them in their 30s.

'Much more complex'
Peter Shirlow, professor of conflict transformation at Queen's University Belfast, says it is important not to jump to conclusions about who is behind the rising racial tension. He believes "there's too easy a script that basically says Protestant bigots [are the cause of] the issue. "I think it is much more complex than that," he adds. Many loyalists believe they lost out in the 1998 Good Friday agreement, and that republicans were subsequently at an advantage. It is easy to draw the conclusion that the surge in racist incidents is an expression of that frustration. But Prof Shirlow says the mentality towards outsiders has deeper roots. "Local here is very local," he says. "We are probably still more family-based in where we live. You know, mother lives [in house] number six, daughter lives in number eight, granny lives in number 12. Clearly ethnic minorities came late." He adds: "You're always twitchy if you grew up here between 1968 and 1994. When a car pulled up behind you, you used to always wonder, 'Is this it?' I don't think that goes away."

Republican areas
One Eastern European resident of Northern Ireland, who spoke anonymously to the BBC, questioned the idea that racist violence was limited to loyalist territory. She was the victim of a racist attack in republican territory. "There is racism everywhere, and that includes republican areas," she says. "In those republican areas, I think it's common knowledge that you don't necessarily go to the police if you've been attacked. "And whenever you read in the media about punishment beatings, there's a reluctance for people to come forward. So statistically I'd say that the number of racist attacks might be similar," she adds. There are numerous programmes to help immigrants integrate into both republican and loyalist communities, but she has given up hope on fitting in and plans to move out of Northern Ireland. "I don't think I'll stay here with my family, because it's very difficult to really become close to local communities on the personal level," she says. "You may work very closely with people on a professional level, but afterwards they won't even invite you home for tea. And that's something that I treasure the most."
BBC News

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UK: Islamophobia and anti-semitism upsurge in Scotland

There has been a “worrying upsurge” in anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in Scotland due to the conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Gaza, it has been warned.

11/9/2014- In a statement released today, the Church of Scotland said it was joining in the condemnation of the attacks on the Jewish and Muslim communities along with the Muslim Council of Britain and the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (Scojec). In recent weeks the first minister, lord advocate and chief constable have all asked to meet with Scojec to discuss what the organisation called an “unprecedented number of unambiguously anti-Semitic incidents”. The Church of Scotland said it was “deeply troubled” to learn that anti-Semitic and Islamophobic incidents were on the rise. Sally Foster-Fulton, convener of the Kirk’s Church and Society Council, said: “There can be no excuse for hate, for racism, violence, intimidation or the targeting of people because of the faith they practice. Lazy, unhelpful stereotypes and prejudiced, unkind behaviour demean us all. “We must do all we can to make sure that we do not conflate extremist behaviour in Iraq with Islam, nor political policies in Israel with Judaism.”

Last month, Scojec said it had received roughly the same number of reports of anti-Semitic incidents in one week as it had in the whole of 2013. Incidents that were reported to the police included threatening phone-calls, e-mails, and graffiti on synagogues. The Rt Rev John Chalmers, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said: “We need to work together to raise awareness and offer support to people who find themselves under pressure because of wholly unacceptable, unhealthy prejudice. We must stand with our Jewish and Muslim brothers and sisters, and commit to modelling good relationships as a way to move past mere tolerance and towards a peaceful partnership which has all of Scotland’s people at its heart.”
The Scotsman

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Anti-Semitic attacks nearly double in France: Jewish group

Anti-Semitic attacks nearly doubled in France in the first seven months of the year, the country's main Jewish group said Thursday.

12/9/2014- A total of 529 anti-Semitic actions or threats were registered up to the end of July, against 276 for the same period last year, the Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF) said, citing figures gleaned from the interior ministry. They included violence against individuals, arson and vandalism. Such anti-Semitic acts "exacerbate the growing unease that oppresses Jews in France each day and overshadows their future", CRIF said in a statement. Yet more worrying, the group added, is the appearance of new forms of violence against Jews -- including attacks by organised gangs and the targeting of synagogues, as well as acts of vandalism against Jewish businesses and "terrorist attacks".

Last week the French office of the Jewish Agency for Israel said that more Jews have left France for Israel so far this year than from any other country, blaming a "climate of anti-Semitism". France houses some 500,000-600,000 Jews, the third largest Jewish population in the world, after Israel and the United States. In addition to the largest Jewish diaspora in Europe, France is also home to the continent's biggest Muslim community, which is estimated at around five million. Concerns have been raised by violent attacks on Jews, including the murders of a rabbi and three Jewish children by an Al-Qaeda inspired gunman Mohammed Merah in 2012 in the southern city of Toulouse.

Support has also been rising for far-right parties like France's National Front, which has long faced accusations of anti-Semitism. Tensions over the recent Gaza conflict spilled out into the streets of France in July with looters destroying Jewish businesses and shouting anti-Israel obscenities in the Paris suburb of Sarcelles -- sometimes known as "Little Jerusalem" for its large community of Sephardic Jews.
The Local - France

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Headlines 5 September, 2014

UK: Antisemitic incidents reach record level in July 2014

4/9/2014- Antisemitic reactions to this summer’s conflict between Israel and Hamas resulted in record levels of antisemitic hate incidents in the UK, according to new figures released by CST today. CST recorded 302 antisemitic incidents in July 2014, a rise of over 400% from the 59 incidents recorded in July 2013 and only slightly fewer than the 304 antisemitic incidents recorded in the entire first six months of 2014. A further 111 reports were received by CST during July but were not deemed to be antisemitic and are not included in this total. CST has recorded antisemitic incidents in the UK since 1984.

The 302 antisemitic incidents recorded in July 2014 is the highest ever monthly total recorded by CST. The previous record high of 289 incidents in January 2009 coincided with a previous period of conflict between Israel and Hamas. CST also recorded at least 150 antisemitic incidents in August 2014, making it the third-highest monthly total on record. The totals for July and August are expected to rise further as more incident reports reach CST. 155 of the 302 incidents recorded in July (51%) involved direct reference to the ongoing conflict in Israel and Gaza. All incidents require evidence of antisemitic language, targeting or motivation alongside any anti-Israel sentiment to be recorded by CST as an antisemitic incident.

101 antisemitic incidents recorded in July involved the use of language or imagery relating to the Holocaust, of which 25 showed evidence of far right political motivation or beliefs. More commonly, reference to Hitler or the Holocaust was used to taunt or offend Jews, often in relation to events in Israel and Gaza, such as via the twitter hashtag #HitlerWasRight. 76 of the 302 incidents in July (25%) took place on social media. CST obtained a description of the offender for 107 of the 302 antisemitic incidents recorded during July 2014. Of these, 55 offenders (51%) were described as being of south Asian appearance; 32 (30%) were described as white; 15 (14%) were described as being of Arab or north African appearance; and 5 (5%) were described as black.

There were 21 violent antisemitic assaults recorded by CST, none of which were classified as ‘Extreme Violence’, which would involve a threat to life or grievous bodily harm (GBH). None of the 21 assaults resulted in serious injury. There were 17 incidents of Damage & Desecration of Jewish property; 218 incidents of Abusive Behaviour, which includes verbal abuse, antisemitic graffiti, antisemitic abuse via social media and one-off cases of hate mail; 33 direct antisemitic threats; and 13 cases of mass-mailed antisemitic leaflets or emails. CST recorded 179 antisemitic incidents in Greater London in July 2014, compared to 144 during the whole of the first half of 2014. There were 52 antisemitic incidents recorded in Greater Manchester, compared to 96 in the first six months of the year. 71 incidents were recorded in other locations around the UK during July.

CST spokesman Mark Gardner said:
These statistics speak for themselves: a record number of antisemitic incidents, few of them violent, but involving widespread abuse and threats to Jewish organisations, Jews in public places and on social media. It helps to explain the pressures felt by so many British Jews this summer, with its combination of anti-Jewish hatred and anti-Israel hatred. The high proportion of offenders who appear to come from sections of the Muslim community is of significant concern, raising fears that the kind of violent antisemitism suffered by French Jews in recent years may yet be repeated here in the UK. CST will continue working with Police and Government against antisemitism, but we need the support of others. Opposing antisemitism takes actions not words. It is particularly damaging for public figures, be they politicians, journalists or faith leaders, to feed these hatreds by comparing Israel to Nazi Germany or by encouraging extreme forms of public protest and intimidation. Prosecutors also have their part to play. Those who have used social media to spread antisemitism are identifiable and should be prosecuted.
CST Blog

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UK: Levels of Antisemitism Are a Weather Vane On Hate Crimes Against Faith & Race Groups

The Canary in a Coalmine

4/9/2014- Many people have asked us why we have raised the spectre of antisemitism and why we re-iterate the fact that the campaign against antisemitism must be redoubled when our core remit is anti-Muslim hate. Well the answer can be articulately found in a recent phrase that the Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mervis, used in a Telegraph article. Whilst we fundamentally believe in human rights and the rule of law, this means that the foreign policies and actions of any nation should be and must be scrutinised. Yet, what the Chief Rabbi is suggesting is that antisemitism (based on a backlash post the Gaza crisis), is an indicator of the levels of tolerance, or one could say, the lack of tolerance in society. The phrase, ‘canary in a coalmine‘ as used by the Chief Rabbi, therefore has a wider meaning for all communities.

The Chief Rabbi is absolutely right when he states that Jews in the UK cannot and should not be held accountable for the actions of Netanyahu and his cabinet and holding a whole community to account is antisemitic. This is based on the simple premise that holding a whole community to a standard because of their identity is prejudicial and this also goes for those who believe that all British Muslims should be held to account for the actions of ISIS or those gangs of young men in Rotherham, Peterborough or Oxford who groomed young girls. It is simply ludicrous and prejudicial to do so, but this does not detract from self-reflection by some within communities. Yet, what the Chief Rabbi is getting at, is that antisemitism is a warning signal, an indicator that there are groups of people who are willing to target others, graffiti synagogues or make flippant prejudicial comments to Jewish community members going about their daily business. It is precisely this kind of activity that we have also picked up against Muslim communities, particularly post the murder of Lee Rigby and recently after the Rotherham grooming crisis broke in the press. Examples of such incidents can be found here, here and here.

Time and time again, we come across prejudice, hate and bigotry targeted against Muslim communities and where all of the data shows that visible Muslim women going about their daily business, are at a higher risk of anti-Muslim abuse. Thankfully, whilst the abuse is not life threatening it does leave its impacts on those women who are targeted and examples of incidents and attacks are listed here, here and here.

CST July 2014 Report
Which brings us onto the following depressing fact which needs to be raised. The CST have just released their July figures on antisemitic hate crimes and the figures make for grim reading, particularly when victim feedback on the profiles of their perpetrators indicate that a high proportion of the 107 cases where the profiles of the perpetrator are known, are of a Muslim background. (Victims reported perpetrator profiles in 107 out of the 302 cases in July 2014). We have said time and time again that all of us have a duty to scrutinise and hold powerful bodies to account and that holding the Israeli Government, or any other government to account for their actions, is within the rights of all of us as citizens. Indeed, it is our duty as citizens so that there is a check and balance to executive bodies, wherever they may be. However, daubing swastikas on a synagogue in Sussex, developing graphics with hashtags #Hitlerwasright and calling Jews terms that are associated with vermin are not acceptable, should be countered and are deeply offensive and prejudicial. They are simply not acceptable in our society.

This should be nothing new and we have been at the front-line of what is challenging and complex work in tackling the cesspit in which anti-Muslim hate festers. We have seen Muslims called the following terms and prejudice extended, (after the murder of Lee Rigby), to attacks on 35 mosques in the space of 12 weeks. We have seen prejudice targeted at mothers, young women, school children, men, other Muslims and much of it maligns, belittles and caricatures British Muslims as ‘the other.’ This ‘othering’ in society means that the rights of individuals in that community are at very real risk of abuse. Antisemitism must be challenged just as much as tackling anti-Muslim hatred should. Targeting Jewish communities because of their identity, is just as bad as targeting the local mosque and builds a fear and sense of insecurity in Jewish communities that some Muslims also felt since the backlash post the murder of Lee Rigby. Yet, we cannot and must not forget one key factor. Jewish communities, so persecuted for thousands of years, quickly feel and sense societal ills around hate, intolerance and bigotry.

Zero Tolerance
If we are to tackle such bigotry and hatred and to ensure that we all live our lives free from prejudice and hate, it is imperative that we inform and educate our own communities in ensuring that they do not pick up and use rhetoric that is antisemitic in nature. Education, building a sense of empathy and developing an understanding of how language and rhetoric impact on other communities is paramount, as we expect others not to use language that is anti-Muslim in nature. It is as simple as that. The July Community Security Trust figures should therefore be a wake up call for serious reflection. We can all campaign, demonstrate and rail against policies that kill 2000 men, women and children in Gaza and against those who fire rockets and mortars into Israel, but that does not mean that we have the right to promote antisemitism or anti-Muslim hate against Jewish or Muslim communities in the UK. The CST figures mean a lot of community education work is needed in the future. Of that, there is no doubt.
Tell Mama

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UK: Gay teen left brain damaged after hammer attack by homophobic flatmate

A gay teenager living in Kent has been left brain damaged after having a hammer embedded into his skull in a homophobic attack by a new flatmate.

3/9/2014- Connor Huntley, 18, was hit over the head by new flatmate Joseph Williams as he slept in the two bedroom flat in Margate Kent. After being admitted to hospital, he was treated for a depressed skull fracture and traumatic brain injury. Following an operation to remove the claw hammer from his skull, as well as bone fragments and a blood clot, Mr Huntley was left with brain damage. The BBC reports that Mr Huntley often wore make-up and women’s clothes, and had moved into the flat just hours before the attack. The Old Bailey heard that the pair met on 27 May after being paired up by the property’s landlord.

Prosecuting Philip Bennetts QC, said the two were “not the obvious flatmates” and that Mr Williams had been heard making derogatory comments about gay people, and that he was from a Catholic background. A friend of Mr Huntley arrived at the flat on the morning of 28 May to find him lying on his air bed with the hammer embedded in his head. Mr Bennetts told the court that he had been hit at least twice with the hammer. During a 999 call, Mr Williams told the operator that he had hit Mr Huntley with the hammer, and when asked why, he said his mental health had “deteriorated”.

“The Crown says that to hit someone more than once with a hammer in their sleep hard enough for the hammer to be embedded in their head clearly demonstrates an intention to kill them,” Mr Bennetts said. Mr Bennetts told the court that the injuries had been “life threatening”. According to the BBC, a week before the attack Mr Willaims told a neighbour, a friend of Mr Huntley’s that he was unsure whether he could live with him without hitting him. Mr Williams, of Athelstan Road, Cliftonville, Margate, has denied attempted murder and causing grievous bodily harm with intent. The trial continues.
Pink News

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Austria: Muslim woman attacked on Vienna train

A 37-year-old Muslim woman from Vienna has complained to police after being attacked by a woman whilst travelling on Vienna’s metro. She believes that the woman, who hit her in the face, did so because she was wearing a headscarf.

3/9/2014- Police said they believed the attacker was “disturbed”. Zeliha Cicek is the third Muslim to have been assaulted in Vienna in the last month. Cicek, a school teacher and mother of three children, is ethnically Turkish. She said she was talking to her sister on an U3 underground train on her mobile phone when the woman started shouting at her in English. “I calmly told her she could speak to me in German and suddenly she stood up and slapped me in the face. I dropped my phone and it broke, I was so shocked,” she said. An English man came to Cicek’s aid but the angry woman scratched his face. She got out of the train at Stephansplatz - and despite Cicek screaming that she had attacked her the woman was able to flee without being stopped. Cicek told the Kurier newspaper that she didn’t believe that the woman was drunk or mad. “The English man also thought that she had a problem with me wearing the headscarf,” she said.

In August two elderly Muslim ladies wearing headscarves were attacked in Favoritenstraße. Police were reportedly slow to respond to this incident, and only began questioning suspects days after. Austria's Islamic Religious Community Association said that Muslims often experience discrimination in Austria but that “it is not well documented”. Spokeswoman Carla Amina Baghajati said that the association plans to start collecting data on all religiously motivated incidents. However, she said she did not believe that the police lacked sensitivity to the issue. Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner again warned against the "spread of hatred and incitement by populists. They become complicit when it comes to attacks on innocent people."
The Local - Austria

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Ireland: Longer sentences for hate crimes proposed in report

New laws urgently needed to protect vulnerable communities, Limerick academics conclude

2/9/2014- Ireland urgently needs new laws to protect vulnerable communities from hate crime, according to a report being launched today by University of Limerick experts. The study proposes the creation of new offences and the passing of longer sentences for assault, harassment, criminal damage and public order crimes motivated by hostility, bias, prejudice or hatred. “The absence of hate crime legislation in Ireland is a glaring anomaly in the European context, and indeed across the West,” the report states. “Without it, Ireland stands virtually alone in its silence with respect to protecting vulnerable communities from the harms of this particular form of violence.”

Labour Senator and legal academic Ivana Bacik, who will launch the Life Free From Fear report today, said the study showed hate crime was a “very real phenomenon in Ireland today”. The academic experts surveyed 14 non-governmental organisations which advocate for various groups of people including those with disabilities; ethnic minorities; religious minorities; the LGBT community and prisoners. Along with sexual and verbal abuse, they reported instances of physical violence and harassment, while negative use of the internet was also highlighted.

The report proposes fresh legislation to create four new offences all aggravated by hostility: assault, harassment, criminal damage and public order. Alongside the new offences, the introduction of a sentence enhancement provision is recommended under which hostility, bias, prejudice or hatred would be treated as aggravating factors in sentencing. “We propose that legislation be introduced as a matter of urgency,” the report states. The study also recommends amending the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 1993 to cover cases of sexual offences against disabled people.

It says Ireland should deal with the criminalisation of acts of a racist and xenophobic nature committed through computer systems by signing and ratifying the additional protocol to the convention on cybercrime. Ms Bacik said people in Ireland were targeted because of characteristics including sexual orientation, race, religion, disability and age. “The report shows that the current legal regime is incapable of addressing hate crime, and that legislative change is required. Crucially, the report also presents useful proposals for the appropriate legislative model, and this is particularly welcome,” she said.

The report acknowledges the difficulty in identifying specific communities that are potential victims of hate crimes. However, among the groups the report names as having historically been targets of abuse and discrimination in Ireland are the Traveller community; single mothers; non-Catholics and members of the LGB (lesbian, gay and bisexual) community. More recently, the report suggests, the categories of race, national origin, trans people and ethnic origin could be included. “The authors would regard this list as still incomplete however,” the report states.

The authors of the report are Jennifer Schweppe of the School of Law and Dr Amanda Hynes and Dr James Carr of the Department of Sociology at the University of Limerick. They are members of the Hate and Hostility Research Group (HHRG), which was set up by academics in the University of Limerick with the aim of initiating scholarship in the area in Ireland.
The Irish Times.

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Gay rights activist attacked in Russia

One of the most renowned lawyers fighting for LGBTI freedom in Russia was attacked by two men in black hoods in Kostroma

1/9/2014- A gay rights activist in Russia is speaking out after being attacked by two hooded thugs. Nikolai Alekseev, a lawyer behind many of the legal fights against the country's anti-gay laws, was targeted early this morning in the city of Kostroma - a city north of Moscow. At around 6.50am, as he was leaving the platform of the train station when two men in black hoods ran up to him. After they got a good look at him and his companion Cyril Nepomnyastchy, they knocked them both to the ground, kicking and punching them repeatedly. At one point, they also splashed Alekseev with an unknown, green, burning liquid, damaging his left eye. Police are investigating the incident. This afternoon, police ordered a medical examination to determine the degree of harm. Alekseev and Nepomnyastchy have already been treated for their injuries at hospital.

The two are in Kostroma to participate in legal proceedings over the city's ban of LGBTI pride parades. 'We thought no one knew about our arrival in Kostroma, apart from the city officials,' Alekseev said. 'But, considering the last time I was here in Kostroma, I was prepared an attack may occur.' Back in June 2013, Alekseev was jumped outside Kostroma's train station - when an unknown attacker hit him in the head. The moment was captured on camera and was indicative of the extent of Russia's homophobia. While police looked into that incident, they eventually dropped the investigation over a lack of evidence.
Gay Star News

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