ICARE Hate Crime News - Archive February 2015

Headlines 27 February, 2015

Headlines 20 February, 2015

Headlines 13 February, 2015

Headlines 6 February, 2015

Headlines 27 February, 2015

Greece: Neo-Nazis Vandalized Pavlos Fyssas Memorial in Keratsini

The memorial of anti-fascist activist and rapper Pavlos Fyssas, who has been assassinated by extreme right, xenophobic Golden Dawn member Giorgos Roupakias in September 2013, has been defaced by unknown individuals on Wednesday night.

27/2/2015-The local memorial, erected on the spot where Fyssas was killed in the Keratsini district of Athens, has been vandalized with a large red spray-painted swastika and the acronym C18, referring to “Combat 18,” a neo-nazi organization associated with the British “Blood and Honor” network. Thirty-four-year-old Fyssas was stabbed to death in the early hours of September 18, 2013, by a Golden Dawn supporter, while according to later evidence, the murder has been perpetrated on orders from higher-ups in the chain of command, triggered a crack-down on the party. This lead to the arrest of top Golden Dawn officials, who are currently under custody, awaiting their trial on charges of operating a criminal organization. In his 700-page argument, prosecutor Isidoros Dogiakos proposed that a total of 70 party members, among them Golden Dawn’s imprisoned leader Nikos Michaloliakos and imprisoned MPs Ilias Kasidiaris, Christos Papas, Ioannis Lagos, Giorgos Germenis, Nikos Kouzoulos, Panagiotis Iliopoulos as well as ex member Stathis Mpoukouras, should appear before the judge.

On the one-year anniversary of the murder that shocked Greece, causing numerous anti-fascist demonstrations, a memorial to Fyssas was unveiled at the site where he was killed, featuring his own lyrics “In the early hours of Tuesday, February 24, unknown individuals vandalized the memorial of Pavlos Fyssas at the site where, in September 2013, he was murdered by members of the Golden Dawn fascist gang. A swastika and fascist slogans covered the bust of the anti-fascist musician. The new, brazen provocation and the reappea-rance of fascists in our city’s streets proves that this front remains open. Our municipality condemns this cowardly fascist attack at the murder site, a place with particular symbolic importance to us, a memorial site that reminds our city’s residents that the fight against the threat of fascism must be constant in schools, workplaces and our neighborhoods.”
© The Greek Reporter

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Portugal: Demands for racism to be criminalised

While the Left Bloc is one of the smaller parties with a presence in Parliament, its proposal for the majority coalition government to criminalise racism could be one of the lasting legacies of its current legislative mandate. The proposal to declare racism a crime comes after a month of protests which followed claims of police brutality in the Cova da Moura neighbourhood whose inhabitants are mostly black. An independent organisation with consultancy powers at the UN has also since alleged that 40 youths died between 2000 and 2010 during police action.

26/2/2015- “We are seeking a revision of the Penal Code in order to make room for racism to be criminalised, a feature which the Code currently does not possess”, Left Bloc MP Cecília Honório said this week. The demand came after a public hearing in Parliament’s Senate Hall concerning allegations of a spike in police brutality and other forms of instituti-onalised racism. The public debate, staged on Tuesday evening, attracted around 60 interested parties, including community leaders from a number of Lisbon’s council estates, and focussed heavily on proposals aimed at police action in these neighbourhoods. “This was a debate centred on police violence, on racism and the need to continue to bring to light other forms of discrimination which these people in these fringe neighbourhoods experience. “We have heard witnesses with intense testimonies that this sort of violence forms part of the daily existence of these people”, the Left Bloc MP was quoted as telling Lusa News Agency after the meeting.

In a subsequent statement issued on Wednesday by the Left Bloc, the party said it was commonplace “to hear in these neighbourhoods that blacks are to be eliminated.” According to the Left Bloc, these reports are “absolutely deafening” and are calling for a “profound debate on the multiple forms of racism Portuguese society continues to endure.” The MP added that “studies, including a recent UN report, show that communities of African origin have limited access to education and public services” and that these “communities are also under-represented.” The Left Bloc also called for tighter evaluation of police forces who they said should be subjected to anti-racist training on the ground, a feature which the party says should form part of the anti-racism laws it is proposing. Jakilson Pereira, representing Plataforma Gueto, lamented the problems between communities and the police, and accused law enforcement of exhibiting what he termed “generalised violent behaviour.”

He argued that “while the community does not want to stand in the way of police work, it demands respect, and called on society to take note that the rule of law is often suspen-ded in these areas.” Mamdou Ba, leader of SOS Racismo, revealed that “police violence is a structural issue and most, if not all state institutions, are infected by racism. “There has to be a law change. Racism has to be criminalised and should be regarded as an urgent matter by Parliament. They [police] cannot come into neighbourhoods as if they were entering a war zone”, stressed Mamdou Ba. This debate came a fortnight after several hundred people demonstrated outside Portugal’s parliament in protest at the handling by local police of incidents at a police station in Amadora, near the Cova da Moura neighbourhood. The protestors brandished placards and banners bearing phrases such as ‘Punish-ment for crimes of police racism and brutality’ and ‘We want justice. End police violence’. These events unfolded after five youths, aged between 23 and 25 were detained after they - according to police – “tried to invade” Alfragide police station, after the arrest of another youth from Cova da Moura.

The five detainees were later taken to the local hospital in a condition that, according to Ba, showed that they had been “very ill treated.” A police spokesman later said that the youngsters had only slight injuries, resulting from their having “resisted arrest.” During the police operation, officers fired rubber bullets as they sought to disperse a group of local residents who were protesting at the way the first detainee had been treated. A woman, who was on the balcony of her apartment was hit by three of these bullets, according to Ba, with photos of her bruises later appearing on social media. Police Internal Affairs has in the meantime announced that it will investigate the police actions. In a statement sent to The Portugal News by the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), an independent, non-profit, campaign, research and advocacy organisation based in London, which has con-sultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, it is claimed that 40 young people were killed during police action in Portugal between 2000 and 2010.

The organisation made these findings after using data supplied by political activists such as Mamdou Ba and members of Plataforma Gueto. The IHRC statement explains that these deaths occurred mainly in the Lisbon metropolitan area and the figure for black youth was over one third, which it says is a “largely disproportionate figure regarding the total population.” It adds that “no conviction of a police officer for any of the killings had been achieved so far, and only one case went on trial in a court of justice. Therefore, these recent events cannot be read as isolated cases in the European context.” The IHRC adds that what it has witnessed in Portugal is “revealing of the contemporary climate of crimi-nalisation and racial profiling of black youth in Europe.”
© The Portugal News

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5 facts about religious hostilities in Europe

27/2/2015- While Europe is not the region with the highest level of religious hostilities – that remains the Middle East-North Africa region – harassment and attacks against religious minorities continue in many European countries. Indeed, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center, hostilities against Jews in particular have been spreading. Here are five facts about social hostilities – i.e., hostilities perpetrated by individuals or social groups rather than by governments – that tend to target religious minorities in Europe:

1 In 2013, the most recent year covered by the study, harassment of Jews in Europe reached a seven-year high. Jews faced harassment in about three-quarters (34 of 45) of Europe’s countries. In France, for instance, three men attacked a teenager who was wearing a traditional skullcap, or kippa, in Vitry-Sur-Seine, reportedly threatening to “kill all of you Jews.” In Spain, vandals painted a large swastika on the side of a bull ring in the city of Pinto, along with the words “Hitler was right.” And in the town of Komarno in southern Slovakia, metal tiles in the pavement honoring a local Jewish family killed in the Holocaust were destroyed when vandals poured tar over them.

2 Muslims experienced harassment in nearly as many European countries (32 of 45) as Jews. By comparison, the Middle East and North Africa was the only region where Muslims faced more widespread harassment, dealing with hostility in 15 of that region’s 20 countries. In Germany, bloody pig heads were found at a site where the Ahmadiyya Muslim community was planning to build Leipzig’s first mosque. And in Ireland, several mosques and Muslim cultural centers received threatening letters, with one of the letters stating: “Muslims have no right to be in Ireland.”

3 In two-thirds of the countries in Europe, organized groups used force or coercion to try to impose their views on religion in 2013. Sometimes this activity is aimed at dominating a country’s public life with the group’s particular perspective on religion through means such as online intimidation of minority religious groups. Other times, it is focused on a particular religious group, such as anti-Semitic postings and anti-Muslim rhetoric on online forums. In Italy, for example, four men were sent to prison after they published lists of Jewish residents and businesses on neo-Nazi websites. This type of social hostility was more prevalent in Europe (30 of 45 countries, or 67%) than in any other region.

4 Women were harassed over religious dress in about four-in-ten European countries (19 of 45) – about the same share as in the Middle East-North Africa region (where it occurred in eight of 20 countries, or 40%). This includes cases in which women were harassed for either wearing religious dress or for perceived violations of religi-ous dress codes. In France, for example, two men attacked a pregnant Muslim woman, kicking her in the stomach and attempting to remove her headscarf and cut her hair; she suffered a miscarriage in the days following the attack. And in Italy, two Moroccan men attacked a young Moroccan woman, beating her for “offending Islam” when she refused to wear a headscarf.

5 Individuals were assaulted or displaced from their homes or places of worship in retaliation for religious activities in roughly four-in-ten European countries. In Po-land, for example, arsonists set fire to the door of a mosque in Gdansk. And in Greece, arsonists attacked Jehovah’s Witnesses’ houses of worship and several  informal mosques in multiple cities during the year.

For details on the sources and methodology of this analysis, and to read an expanded sidebar on social hostilities toward religious minorities in Europe, see our 
full report on religious restrictions.
© Pew Research Center

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France: Pensioner jailed for mosque grenade attack

A French pensioner, who says he feels "threatened by Islam" has been handed a three-year prison sentence after he threw grenades at a mosque in western France hours after the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack.

26/2/2015- The Frenchman, aged 69, was jailed on Wednesday after carrying out an attack on the Le Mans mosque in western France in the middle of the night of January 7th/8th, the same day that Islamist gunmen massacred 12 people at the offices of satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo. The man threw four grenades at the mosque and fired several rounds at the building. No one was injured in the attack. He told the court that he carried out the attack at a time when he "doubted" anyone was inside the building, admitting that he was under the influence of alcohol at the time. The 69-year-old also said the act was "spur of the moment" and that he had stuck screws to the grenades to instill fear.
"I'm a Republican and an atheist, and what happened at Charlie Hebdo infuriated me," he told the court. "It's putting a barrier in front of the freedom of the press in our country."

The 69-year-old was handed a prison sentence of three years, two of which will be suspended. The mosque's imam, Mohamed Lamaachi, told French newspaper Le Parisien that the Muslim community "condemned the anti-Islamic act" but forgave the man, explaining that followers of the religion are educated in forgiveness and respect. The attack was among the first in a long line of supposed "reprisal attacks" on Muslims and Islamic places of worship after the terror attacks. In the two weeks following the shootings there were 128 anti-Muslim incidents registered - which is almost the same number as in the whole of 2014. The National Observatory Against Islamophobia said these incidents, which include 33 acts against mosques and 95 threats had been reported to authorities since the January 7-9th shooting spree by three French jihadists that killed 17, compared to a total of 133 such incidents in 2014.

The reprisals were a "predictable" response, according to Samy Debah, the president of the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF). "The reality of discrimination is catching up with us," he told The Local recently. "Muslims are scared. I'm scared for my mother, my sister. I live in a working class neighborhood and I would have never imagined that such things could happen."
© The Local - France

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UK: Liverpool racist attack gang jailed for 25 years

25/2/2015- A teenage gang who carried out an abhorrent racist attack on a black family in Liverpool were locked up for nearly 25 years. Five yobs, armed with a fence panel with nails protruding from it, a baseball bat and machete, set upon a religious minister in front of his 14-year-old daughter and two sons while shouting vile abuse. The eldest son had to pull a nail out of his head after the attack in Dovecot at around 5.50pm on May 1 last year. Liverpool Crown Court heard the ordeal began when the girl was making her way home from school and passed a 10-strong gang outside Finch Road shops. Connor Killcourse, 19, called her a “n*****” and threatened to “batter your brother and your dad”. She told her dad and her 17-year-old brother, who himself had suffered abuse from the gang over the past two years. Robert Wyn Jones, prosecuting, said that evening, they passed the youths while driving back from their eldest son’s home and their car was pelted with a rock.

The dad got out and asked them not to abuse his family and the thugs ran away. But they came across them again barricading the road around the corner, armed with sticks and at least one knife. Killcourse, of Rupert Road, Huyton threw a rock at the dad’s chest, knocking him backwards. The younger son was set upon and a 16-year-old, who cannot be na-med for legal reasons, kicked him in the head. Jordan Jackson, 19, of Whittier Street, Toxteth, hit the eldest son with a fence panel with nails in it. He was also struck by a base-ball bat in the eye. Daniel Finnigan, 19, of Childers Street, Old Swan, also kicked him in the head and struck him in the head with a stick. Kyle Jackson, 19, of MacQueen Street, Old Swan heard police sirens and shouted “leave these n******, we’ll come back and get them then”. While his son was being beaten, one of the yobs threatened to stab the dad with a machete, while others shouted “stab his dad”. He later told officers he thought the only reason he escaped was because the gang fled.

The eldest son suffered eight puncture wounds to his head and bruising to his left eye, which caused blurred vision for some time after. Mr Wyn Jones said: “The father saw his son pulling a nail out of his head.” He said the daughter later described herself feeling “worthless” and asking what was the point in carrying on in a world that did not want her. The eldest son remembered “the sickening thump” when the bat hit him in the eye and is now uncomfortable leaving his home. The dad believed he was going to die and could not protect his children. Mr Wyn Jones said: “He thought it was going to end in front of his family.” The gang except for Finnigan denied taking part or even being at the scene during police interviews. Jordan Jackson, who had one previous conviction for racially aggravated assault and abuse against the family, pleaded guilty at trial to wounding with intent.

Finnigan, who was on bail at the time for possessing a lock knife and cannabis, admitted wounding with intent and violent disorder at trial. Killcourse, who is serving a 25-month sentence for dealing heroin and cocaine and was on bail, pleaded guilty to violent disorder. Kyle Jackson, who had no previous convictions, admitted violent disorder. The 16-year-old, who had a previous conviction for racial abuse against the family, admitted violent disorder at trial. Judge David Aubrey, QC, said the gang targeted a “vulnerable family for one reason and one reason only, and that was the colour of their skin”. He said it was “totally unacceptable in any civilised society” and “a campaign of racial hatred”. The judge said: “I as a fellow human being felt ashamed hearing of the events. This city prides itself on being ‘one world in one city’. “You potentially have destroyed that belief that each and every one of us, certainly those right minded, hold.

“The word must go out that when racially aggravated offences are committed, severe punishment must and will follow. “What each of you did and uttered was vile and abhorrent in the extreme and it was driven by racial hatred. “On occasions man’s inhumanity to man, notwithstanding your tender age, knows no bounds.” Jordan Jackson was locked up for nine years and Finnigan for eight years. Kyle Jackson was sentenced to three years and four months. Killcourse was handed two years and 11 months, to be served once his current sentence ends. The 16-year-old was locked up for 18 months.
© The Liverpool Echo

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UK: Bouncer tells student 'gay people should be fed to the dogs'

23/2/2015- A doorman has been suspended from Corporation club as a result of his homophobic slurs following an incident with a group of clubbers. Rory Barker claims he was hit by a member of staff and then booted out of the club in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. After being kicked out, Rory protested at his treatment. He said: ‘I was then asked by one of them if I was a gay boy, and when I replied ‘no, not that it matters’, they replied “are you sure? You look like a slimy little gay”.’ In the video the bouncer is heard telling another person: ‘If you want to take a gay man home, you can feed him to your dogs.’ Jess Keane added: ‘Rory stepped in to get me away from the bouncer where he then took a punch to the face.’ Corporation nightclub said they had suspended a member of their door team. Writing on their Facebook page, a spokesman said: ‘Regarding the comments made by a member of security on Fri 20th Feb, the person concerned has been immediately suspended following initial investigations. ‘This type of behaviour is totally unacceptable by all here at Cor-poration. ‘We pride ourselves as a venue that does not discriminate against any group, regardless of creed, colour or orientation.’ South Yorkshire Police confirmed an investigation was taking place.
© Metro UK

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Ireland: Two young women savagely beaten in homophobic attack

Roisin Prendergast (20) and her girlfriend 17-year-old Ciara Murphy were left bleeding and unconscious following an unprovoked attack on Cruises Street in Limerick last Sunday week.

22/2/2015- The young women were walking in the direction of a food outlet at approximately 2am when two men began "firing homophobic slurs" at the couple. "We had literally left our apartment only minutes before when these two grown men started shouting abuse at us about being lesbians," Tipperary-born Roisin said. "Initially we shouted back as we are used to this kind of abuse - but then they walked back towards us and started shoving us roughly." The young women have described the men as being aged in their early to mid-20s and said they were "well-dressed, as if coming back from a night out". The verbal abuse quickly escalated to physical violence, according to Ms Murphy, who is originally from Newcastle West. "Suddenly, the men pushed us to the ground. They were stepping on our chests, they kneed and kicked us," the student said.

The men appeared to leave after approximately ten minutes - after taking the girls' hats - but one returned "which was the worst part" of the assault, according to Ms Prendergast. "We thought it was over. Then one guy came back, threw Ciara against a shop window and ripped up her hat in front of her," she said. When the unprovoked vicious attack was finally over, Ms Murphy lay unconscious on the street following a knock to her head, while Ms Prendergast had been beaten and was in shock beside her. Two passers-by came upon the young women some time later and immediately alerted the emergency services and the gardai, who responded to the scene. Gardai have launched an investigation into the incident - but they say that the CCTV footage on the street of the incident is of too poor quality to be used for identification purposes.

The two women said they are overwhelmed with the support they have received on social media following the attack. "So far we have no information as to who the two men are. But we have been inundated with messages of support," said Ms Prendergast.
© The Irish Independent

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Headlines 20 February, 2015

Italy: Muslim with traditional clothes and Koran insulted and shouted at in Milan

Students in six Italian colleges have also been banned from wearing the hijabStudents in six Italian colleges have also been banned from wearing the hijab

19/2/2015- A student in Italy dressed in traditional Arabic clothing appears to have been the subject of a string of derogatory comments as the public’s reaction to his appearance was caught on camera. Hamdy Mahisen, who is of Egyptian origin, attracted stares and insults as he walked around Milan for five hours, while holding a Koran in one hand and prayer beads in the other for a social experiment. On a high street, someone sneers “Taliban s***” while, even more disturbingly, a woman pushing a pram with a baby in it seems to turn around as he walks by her to shout: “Taliban!” Italy is currently on high-alert after a warning that Libyan militants inspired by Isis could make their way into Europe through the country.This has fuelled Islamophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment towards refugees who have fled Africa before setting off on treacherous journeys across the Mediterranean to Italy in unsafe and overcrowded boats.

Groups of teenage girls and boys do not hide their astonishment at the sight of his appearance and openly stare, laugh and turn roun to look at him in the footage as he walks past. A person within a small group of young men, in the video also published yesterday by Italian newspaper Repubblicad, says “guys, you just missed the imam.” Thirty-year-old Hamdy, who speaks Italian fluently and lives in the city with his parents, was dressed in a traditional long white cotton robe commonly worn by mainly Muslim men in Arab countries – and not just imams – with a white cap. While passing through an indoor shopping piazza, someone could be heard saying “s***, have you seen the Isis?” A man standing near Hamdy at a tramstop makes the remark: “Look, he has got the Koran. Think he’s got a gun under his tunic?” The comments are indica-tive of the levels of Islamophobia and racism that Muslims and those from other ethnicities can encounter in Italy.

Aicha Mesrar, a 45-year-old Moroccan-born politician, fled the country after 23 years of living there due to fears over her children’s safety after a series of death threats. The local councillor was the first woman to wear a hijab in city hall as she held down her job for the Democratic Party in Rovereto, northern Italy. This week, female students at six colleges in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of Italy have been banned from wearing the hijab – according to local paper Messaggero Veneto. One headmaster called Aldo Duri, of a technical college with many students of Arab origin, have been told that “outward signs of religion can be seen as provocation”. “Friction and insults that were fairly innocent between the Islamic community and the natives are now loaded with new meaning,” he was quoted by Trieste Prima as saying.
© The Independent

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Ireland: Warning over homophobic 'catfish' attacks

18/2/2015- Members of Cork’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual (LGBT) community have been warned to take safety precautions when meeting online dates after reports of orchestrated attacks by assailants using websites and dating apps to attract their victims. A Facebook warning about the attacks has been widely shared on the social media network. The post’s author, Louise O’Donnell, said that a friend had been attacked by a group of men having arranged a date through a website. “Unfortunately, there is a group or groups of young people in Cork carrying out organised beatings against members of this community. Posing as young men and women on different sites including Tinder, Plenty of Fish and Grindr, they aim to get young gay and lesbians alone in secluded areas of the city to carry out vicious assaults,” the post read. “I would really appreciate if you’d spread the message, look out for one another and stay safe! Never agree to meet someone late at night, in a secluded area or alone,” she said. Can't see the Facebook post? Click here

Last night, Ms O’Donnell said her post was prompted by a friend who was confronted by a group of men when he arrived at a Cork city centre location for a date recently. The practice of creating fake online identities for deceptive purposes is known as “catfishing”. “When he got there four or five men hopped out of a van. Thankfully he managed to get away,” she said. Ms O’Donnell said that someone who read the Facebook warning had since been in touch to tell her of a similar incident, also in Cork. James Upton, auditor of UCC’s LGBT society, said that he was aware of a rise in physical and verbal homophobic attacks against the group’s members in the past six months. He said he believes it is a backlash against the LGBT community as the upcoming Marriage Equality referendum approaches. “We can’t tell our members not to go on these sites, but we would issue a word of caution about meeting people from them, that they could be catfished,” he warned. A garda spokes-person urged any victims of assault to report the matter to gardaí

 
© The Irish Examiner

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Jewish Cemetery in Germany desecrated, mirroring French vandalism

Both sites have been targeted before; French PM outraged, calls them an insult to the memory of the dead.
Swastika's at Jewish cemetery

17/2/2015- A Jewish cemetery in the northern German city of Oldenburg was desecrated over the weekend, the Oldenburger Online newspaper reported on Monday.
Police are investigating the incident which left swastikas splattered on the cemetery's entrance, a wall as well as on two parked cars. This is not the first time the burial ground was targeted in such a fashion. Right-wing extremists have vandalized the site a number of times. In a prior case, one man was successfully charged in a court of law, sentenced to two years' probation for shooting paint-balls at a number of Jewish gravestones.

In France, an unrelated attack on a Jewish cemetery also transpired over the weekend; vandals uprooted 300 gravestones in the Alsace region, near Germany. Like the Oldenburg cemetery, the French cemetery in Sarre-Union is no stranger to such attacks. In 1988, 60 Jewish headstones were overturned, and in 2001, 54 graves were vandalized In the most recent case, five French teens were detained on suspicion of having committed the desecration, which was discovered at around the same time as the vandalism in Germany. The suspected teens are all between the ages of 15 and 17 and were arrested after one turned himself in, claiming to a prosecutor that he had no anti-Semitic motives and that the outrage across the nation compelled him to do so. In response to the French case, the country's Prime Minister Manuel Valls took to Twitter, calling it “a vile, anti-Semitic act, an insult to the memory” of the dead.
© The Jerusalem Post

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France: persistent discrimination endangers human rights(CoE report)

17/2/2015- “Despite advances in legislation and measures to combat intolerance and racism, discrimination and hate speech not only persist in France but are on the rise. There is an urgent need to combat this in a sustained and systematic manner,” Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, said today, publishing the report on his visit to France from 22 to 26 September 2014 (French). In this report, the Commissioner addresses issues of intolerance, racism, and respect for the human rights of migrants, Travellers, Roma and people with disabilities. “In recent years, there has been a huge increase in antisemitic, anti-Muslim and homophobic acts. In the first half of 2014 alone, the number of antisemitic acts virtually doubled, while the number of Jews leaving France for Israel tripled compared with 2012, which is a telling indication of their feeling of insecurity. The rising number of anti-Muslim acts, 80% of which are carried out against women, and homophobic acts, which occur once every two days, is also cause for great concern. It is essential to put an end to such acts, including on the Internet, and to punish those responsible.”

The Commissioner welcomes France’s sound legal and institutional framework for combating racism and discrimination and urges the authorities to continue to fight resolutely against these phenomena. “To this end, it would be helpful to give full effect to the criminal law provisions recognising “testing” as evidence of discriminatory conduct and to include the fight against discrimination in a national plan to promote and protect human rights. Ratifying Protocol No. 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights on the general prohibition of discrimination would also help to further strengthen the legal framework.” The trend towards more stringent and more complex rules in the asylum and immigration field raises serious questions of compatibility with France’s international commitments, particularly with regard to being granted asylum and the reception of asylum seekers. “The serious and chronic inadequacies in the reception of asylum seekers force many of them to live in extremely vulnerable and degrading conditions. Lasting solutions need to be found as a matter of urgency to ensure that everyone has effective access to reception centres and social protection.”

The reception and care of unaccompanied migrant minors highlights a further shortcoming in the French migration system. “There are between 7,000 and 12,000 such children living in France, 3,000 of whom are in Mayotte. Many are left without any social or educational support or medical care and some are even homeless. Their age is often determined following certain highly questionable procedures, especially when these involve bone age tests. It is not uncommon for these children to be deprived of their liberty when they arrive at the border unlawfully. The French authorities must put an end to these practices and provide better reception conditions, including overseas.” The Commissioner also calls on the French authorities not only to honour their commitment to take in 500 Syrian refugees, but to take in even more and to remove all barriers, such as the obligation to have an airport transit visa, which undermine their chances of being granted asylum. The Commissioner also calls on the authorities to improve the living conditions of migrants in Calais and to afford them greater protection against violent xenophobic attacks.

Commissioner Muižnieks urges France not to adopt or implement legislative or other measures to accelerate asylum procedures still further, until the structural problems in the national asylum authorities have been resolved. He underlines the need to improve the effectiveness of remedies in the asylum and immigration field, by expediting the introduc-tion of suspensive appeals against all decisions taken in these matters, including overseas. In addition, he recommends that the authorities improve the legal aid and procedural guarantees offered to immigrants and asylum seekers and cease the practice of holding hearings by the ‘liberties and detention judges’ in the annexes of regional courts located in the immediate vicinity of administrative detention centres or waiting zones. High levels of anti-Gypsyism have prevailed in France for a very long time, and the Commissioner calls on the authorities to firmly tackle hostile speech and acts directed at migrant Roma and Travellers, including on the Internet. He recommends that the authorities put an end to the discriminatory system applied to Travellers, provide appropriate camping areas and ensure effective access to education for the children of Travellers by promoting solu-tions more in keeping with their lifestyle.

Like Travellers, migrant Roma continue to be targeted and stigmatised by hate speech emanating from certain politicians and by sometimes harmful media coverage. They are also the victims of violence perpetrated by individuals and at times even by members of law enforcement agencies, in particular during forced eviction operations. The Commissioner also underlines the urgent need to guarantee Roma access to healthcare, education, housing and employment, and to conduct public awareness-raising activities to combat stereo-types and prejudice against Roma and Travellers. With regard to the situation of persons with disabilities, the Commissioner notes that despite a well-developed legal framework and the priority given to independence and social inclusion, these are not always guaranteed in practice. “There is an urgent need to rectify a situation which continues, de facto, to perpetuate the social exclusion and marginalisation of persons with disabilities. The serious delays in ensuring that public places are accessible and the shortcomings in the arrangements concerning guidance and support for these persons should be dealt with as a matter of priority.”

The Commissioner is also concerned that thousands of persons with disabilities are obliged to leave France to find more appropriate solutions to their situation abroad, particularly in Belgium. He also condemns difficulties in access to employment and the discriminatory conditions applying to workers with disabilities within certain specialised facilities. Lastly, while welcoming the measures adopted to promote the education of children with disabilities in mainstream schools, the Commissioner notes with concern that no educa-tion solution has yet been found for some 20,000 of these children, and particularly for those with autism spectrum disorder. “The authorities should step up their efforts to ensure that all children receive appropriate education. The authorities should also attach priority to setting up local services promoting the social inclusion of people with disabilities, and improve the support provided to those with autism, in particular by making greater use of educational, behavioural and developmental methods in the care they are given.”
© Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights

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5 teens detained in vandalism of Jewish cemetery in France

16/2/2015- Five French teens were detained in the vandalism of some 300 graves in a Jewish cemetery in northeastern France. The vandalism at the Jewish cemetery in Sarre-Union, located in the Alsace region, was discovered over the weekend. The five suspects, aged 15 to 17, were detained Monday after the youngest alleged vandal turned himself in. The teen was shocked by the nationwide reaction to the attack, French prosecutor Philippe Vannier told the French news agency AFP. The teen has denied that there was an anti-Semitic motive, according to the report. In addition to knocking over the tombstones, a monument to Holocaust victims also was vandalized. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Twitter last week called the vandalism “a vile, anti-Semitic act, an insult to the memory” of the dead. The Jewish cemetery in Sarre-Union has been attacked in the past. In 1988, 60 Jewish headstones were overturned, and in 2001, 54 graves were vandalized.
© JTA News

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Outrage as Jewish cemetery vandalised in eastern France

Hundreds of graves have been vandalised at a Jewish cemetery in eastern France, in what French President Francois Hollande called an "odious and barbaric" anti-Semitic act against French values

16/2/2015- The vandalism comes at a time of growing insecurity among French Jews and amid general religious tensions in Europe. French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said in a statement on Sunday that a criminal investigation team is at the damaged cemetery in Sarre-Union, near the German border, and authorities will do "everything" to pursue the vandals. Jewish and Muslim gravesites and places of worship in France see sporadic bouts of vandalism. The incident this weekend was of an unusually large scale, and hit a cemetery that has been vandalised in the past. Local media reported that about 200 grave stones were knocked down, and a monument to Holocaust victims was damaged. Mr Hollande said in a statement that "France is determined to fight relentlessly against anti-Semitism and those who want to attack." Sacha Reingewirtz, president of the Union of Jewish Students of France, said, "We need to stand together in Europe and in all the world wherever jihadis try to threaten democracy."
© The Irish Independent

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Danish Jews hit by mounting anti-Semitism

Denmark's small Jewish community, which Wednesday buried a Jewish man shot dead outside the Copenhagen synagogue, has been the butt of mounting anti-Semitism in recent years after centuries of living at peace.

19/2/2015- Unlike many European Jews, Denmark's Jews were never forced to wear a yellow star nor targeted by anti-Jewish measures during the German Nazi occupation of World War II. Yet Denmark currently is proving no exception to the rise in anti-Semitic attacks across the continent. Most of the country's Jewish community -- estimated at between 6,400 and 8,000 people -- lives in Copenhagen, which was rocked by twin shootings over the weekend. "The Jewish community have been in this country for centuries. They are at home in Denmark, they are part of the Danish community," Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt said Monday echoing national sentiments after the deadly attacks. Established in the kingdom from the 1600s, Jews helped modernize a country reputed for its tolerance, with few emigrating nowadays to Israel. But even prior to Sunday's attack on the synagogue that killed 37-year-old Dan Uzan, anti-Semitic acts were on the rise.

In 2012 Israeli ambassador Arthur Avnon advised visiting Israelis against obvious displays of their religion or speaking Hebrew in public. A Jewish community organization had also urged parents with children in the Jewish school in Copenhagen to take extra precautions. And last summer's bitter fighting between Israel and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip brought a flurry of anti-Semitic acts, ranging from insults to physical assault. Authorities reported 29 such acts in six weeks from July to mid-August, more than throughout all of 2009. Poli-tical leaders responded by organizing a "Kippah march" through central Copenhagen and the Nørrebro district home to many Middle Eastern immigrants, which passed off peacefully.But less than a week later the Jewish school Carolineskolen was daubed in anti-Semitic graffiti and its windows smashed.

Resisted Nazi persecution
Through World War II, however, Danes supported the Jewish community, never resorting to persecution. Invaded by the Nazis in 1940, Denmark was able to maintain its democra-tic institutions in exchange for trade with Germany, notably by exporting its agricultural goods to Berlin. Anti-Semitism was not widespread in Denmark at the time, and unlike what happened in France and Norway, the wartime authorities did not discriminate against Jews. SS raids were met with hostility among the Danish people. In August 1943 the Danish government resigned, refusing to crush resistance within the country to the Nazi occupation. Two months later the Nazis mounted a massive operation to track down the country's Jews but the majority escaped across the waters to neutral Sweden with the help of the Danish resistance. Historians estimate that more than 7,000 people avoided deportation, while only 500 Danish Jews were arrested and 51 killed.

While the Danish resistance movement is estimated to have included well over 20,000 Danes who worked to actively undermine the German occupation, another 6,000 or so Danes are estimated to have supported the corps of Danish Nazis known as Free Corps Denmark (Frikorps Danmark). A book released in October claimed that Danish Nazis actively participated in the murder of 1,400 Jews at a prison camp in Belarus during World War II.
© The Local - Denmark

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Denmark: Copenhagen attacks: terror into the night

It has been a dramatic weekend in Copenhagen. Here is a timeline of events in the terror attack that killed two and injured five.

15/2/2015- Saturday's twin attacks on a cultural centre and synagogue in Copenhagen left two people dead and five police officers wounded before the assailant himself was gun-ned down. Following is a timeline of the dramatic events, which lasted nearly 14 hours from the first burst of gunfire to the last.

In the first attack at around 3:30 pm (1430 GMT), a man armed with a machine pistol fires dozens of rounds on the cultural centre where a forum on Islam and free speech is taking place attended by dozens of people. Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, survivor of several death threats since gaining international notoriety for a 2007 cartoon portraying the Prophet Mohammed as a dog, is a speaker at the forum titled "Art, Blasphemy and Freedom". His presence requires police protection. The assailant's barrage of gunfire is caught on a recording broadcast by the BBC.

France's ambassador to Denmark, Francois Zimeray is at the event, having been invited little more than a month after the attacks in Paris that left 12 people dead at the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, followed by the killing of a policewoman, and four Jewish shoppers at a kosher supermarket. Speaking to AFP by telephone from the cultural centre, Zime-ray recounts how all the participants threw themselves to the floor as soon as the gunfire erupted. "Intuitively I would say there were at least 50 gunshots, and the police here are saying 200. Bullets went through the doors," he says. A 55-year-old participant is killed and three police officers are wounded. Danish media identify the dead man as documentary filmmaker Finn Norgaard. The gunman flees the scene in a Volkswagen Polo, sparking a manhunt.

'Gunman acted alone'
At first investigators think two men are involved including one in the getaway car, but after gathering eyewitness accounts they conclude that the gunman acted alone. He aban-dons the car some two kilometres (a little more than a mile) to the north of the cultural centre, near a railway station. At 5:07 pm, police release the car's licence plate number and warn Copenhagen residents against trying to apprehend the suspect.

At 5:45 pm police say they have found the abandoned car.
At 7:23 pm police issue a description of the suspect as being "between 25 and 30 years old, around 1.85m (six foot one inch) tall, athletic, of Arab appearance but with lighter skin than normal and with black, slick hair."
At 8:06 pm police release a still from video surveillance footage taken outside the railway station showing him wearing a dark anorak and a maroon balaclava carrying a black bag:

The second shooting takes place between midnight and 1am Sunday outside Copenhagen's main synagogue. A spokesman for a Jewish association, Jeppe Jul, tells Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter that the assailant looks like a drunken partygoer, saying he vomited in the street. The gunman opens fire without warning, wounding two police officers and killing a 37-year-old Jewish man, Dan Uzan, a guard at the synagogue. The gunman flees on foot.

At around 4am, police receive a call from a taxi driver who thinks he spotted the fugitive. Security forces stake out a building in the working-class neighbourhood of Nørrebro.
At around 5am the man arrives and fires on police, who return fire, killing him.
Early Sunday, investigators say they believe the man was behind both attacks. Police add that the attack may have been inspired by the Paris attacks and that the man was "on the radar" of authorities prior to carrying out the deadly shootings. Police go on to launch several raids, including one on an Internet cafe in Copenhagen.

Police say the suspect was a 22-year-old man born and raised in Denmark who had a history of assault and weapons offences. Several media outlets name him as Omar El-Hussein. Danish tabloid Ekstra-Bladet says he was released from jail two weeks ago after serving a term for aggravated assault. Police said they are investigating if the man had received help from others and the possibility he had travelled to conflict zones such as Syria and Iraq.
© The Local - Denmark

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UK: Two men admit homophobic attack on gay couple in Glasgow

Two men have admitted carrying out a vicious homophobic attack on a gay couple in the Gorbals area of Glasgow.

19/2/2015- Calvin McLelland, 20, and 16-year-old James Knots confronted Dillon Jeffreys, 25, and his partner, Connor Sullivan, 19, in McNeil Street on 17 August 2013. McLelland punched Mr Jeffreys to the ground. When Mr Sullivan intervened he was attacked by McLelland and Knots. Both admitted assault aggravated by prejudice over sexual orientation. Sentence was deferred. Glasgow Sheriff Court heard that Mr Jeffreys and Mr Sullivan were partners and had been socialising in Glasgow city centre on 16 August 2013.

Gay insult
Just after midnight they made their way home through the Gorbals where they saw a group of youths, including the two accused. Procurator fiscal depute Mark Allan said: "Dillon Jeffrey was asked by a member of the group 'Are you gay?' to which he replied 'Yes'. "Connor Sullivan was then asked 'Are you gay?' to which he replied 'Yes'. "Connor Sullivan then heard the word 'faggot' being used as Calvin McLelland approached and thereafter punched Dillon Jeffrey, knocking him to the ground." The court heard Mr Sullivan intervened before being punched by McLelland and sent to the ground. Mr Allan added: "Thereafter James Knots and McLelland were involved in an assault when Dillon Jeffreys was on the ground." They repeatedly kicked him on the head and body - all of which was seen by two police officers on plain clothes, who were dealing with another incident.

Skull fracture
When McLelland and Knots spotted the police they ran off and an ambulance was called for the two victims. Mr Jeffreys had a cut on the back of his head treated with two stitches. He continued to feel sick and dizzy which was investigated and found to be caused by a skull fracture. Mr Sullivan suffered bruising as a result of the attack on him. McLelland, from Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, was found at his home address the next day. The apprentice bricklayer pleaded guilty to assaulting Mr Jeffreys to his severe injury and assaulting Mr Sullivan to his injury, both charges aggravated by prejudice relating to sexual orientation. Knots, from the Gorbals area of Glasgow, was traced a month after the attack. He pleaded guilty to assaulting Mr Jeffreys to his severe injury, aggravated by prejudice relating to sexual orientation. Sheriff Sam Cathcart deferred sentence on both men until next month and continued their bail.
© BBC News

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UK: Chelsea FC to ban far-right fans who stopped black man getting on train

Chelsea Football Club has said it is prepared to ban fans who prevented a black man getting onto a train in Paris before they declared: "We're racist and that's the way we like it".

17/2/2015- Footage posted online shows the commuter apparently trying to board a metro train in the French capital but a group of football fans are shown shouting at and gesturing to him before pushing him out of the carriage when he steps in. On a second attempt he points to a space where he could stand but is pushed away again as he steps forward, before the group of males erupt into a chant while other commuters look on from the platform bewildered. The supporters are thought to have been travelling to the Parc des Princes ground for the Champions League match against Paris St Germain last night which ended in a draw. Chelsea released a statement condemning the incident and said it will take action if members are found to be involved. "Such behaviour is abhorrent and has no place in football or society," the club said. "We will support any criminal action against those involved, and should evidence point to involvement of Chelsea season-ticket holders or members the club will take the strongest possi-ble action against them, including banning orders." Former England player Stan Collymore tweeted: "Chelsea fans. Save your spite for those on the train, I'm sure you'll want to see them banned from holding season tickets at your club."
© Sunday World

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UK: Man threatened to kill Muslims after Paris attack

A council roads worker called 999 and threatened to kill “all the Muslims in the country” after reading about the French terror attacks.

14/2/2015- Vincent Hannah claimed he was a member of the far-right National Front group during the early-morning call. Hannah made the alcohol-fuelled phonecall to the emer-gency control room at Bilston at 5.30am on January 17. He admitted making grossly offensive phone calls by uttering threats and using racially offensive language at Edinburgh Sheriff Court this week. His lawyer said he was “ashamed” of the comments and had been on medication at the time of the incident. The court heard that Hannah, 51, launched the aggressive outburst after watching and reading coverage of January’s Paris terrorist incidents. Fiscal depute Mark Keane said Hannah phoned 999 and shouted: “Muslims that’s killed Muslims and will only kill Muslims.” When the call operator asked if he needed help, Hannah said: “Get all those Muslims out this country, they have killed our people.”

The operator again asked Hannah if he needed police, but he replied: “No, I dinnae, this is the National Front here by the way. “The police don’t give a f*** about this country, and you dinnae, because all the Muslims in the country, I’m going to kill them.” Police traced Hannah’s address in Gowkshill, Gorebridge, from the phone number he had called from and arrested him that evening. Mr Keane said: “He [told police] he regretted it, it was very stupid and that he had been drunk at the time.” Defence agent Neil Martin told the court that Hannah got upset after reading about the three-day terror attacks by 
Islamic extremists in France. Seventeen victims died in the attacks, which included a massacre at the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine. Mr Martin said: “To say he’s ashamed of what he did would be something of an understatement. He has been left utterly mortified by his conduct. These are not views that he holds, he doesn’t know why he made these comments.”

He said Hannah, a full-time road sweeper at Midlothian Council, had been drinking and was on medication which he should not have taken with alcohol. Sheriff Gail Patrick fined Hannah £400, and said: “The emergency services are far too busy to cope with people like you. But I’m encouraged that you don’t hold these views, because terrorists are one thing and Muslims are quite another.”
© The Edinburgh Evening News

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Headlines 13 February, 2015

Bulgaria must investigate and prosecute hate crimes to end climate of fear

Bulgaria’s failure to adequately investigate and prosecute hate crimes is fuelling fear, discrimination and ultimately violence, says Amnesty International in a new report published today.

9/2/2015- Missing the point: Lack of adequate investigation of hate crimes in Bulgaria documents the severe impact of hate crimes on victims and highlights how the authorities’ failure to tackle entrenched prejudice against asylum seekers, migrants, Muslims and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is fuelling further violence and discrimination. “Hundreds of people from minority groups have experienced hate crimes and many more have no confidence in the authorities to protect them,” says Marco Perolini, Amnesty International’s researcher on Discrimination in Europe. “The Bulgarian authorities urgently have to take a strong stand and ensure they are adhering to national and international laws, ensuring human rights for all.”

Racist and xenophobic hate crimes
Legislation exists in Bulgaria to prosecute hate crimes linked to racism and xenophobia but authorities consistently fail to identify and adequately investigate them. Attacks against migrants and asylum seekers spiked in 2013, according to the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee and other local organizations. The Deputy Prosecutor General informed Amnesty International that the Sofia Prosecution Office opened 80 pre-trial criminal proceedings concerning crimes against ethnic minorities – including migrants, asylum seekers, Roma and ethnic Turks -- between January 2013 and March 2014. However, the collected data is not comprehensive and does not reflect the full extent of these abuses.

Nazar, an asylum seeker from Iraq was attacked with metal knuckledusters by a group of eight or nine people in September 2013. He was hospitalised for nine days and had to have two operations. Police failed to come to the hospital to take Nazar’s statement and refused to register his complaint afterwards. Nazar recounted how the police “told me to go away or they would send me back to Iraq.” When questioned by Amnesty International, the Ministry of the Interior said two police officers were sanctioned for lack of due diligence in this case after an internal inspection, but it is currently unclear whether or not an investigation into the attack against Nazar has been launched.

For certain crimes, such as murder or physical assault, a racist or xenophobic motive constitutes an aggravating factor and attracts an additional penalty, however authorities often treat these crimes as motivated by hooliganism, which prosecutors told Amnesty International is easier to demonstrate. This is partly due to the fact that many officials lack the relevant knowledge and experience to be able to put the existing laws into practice. “Often, discriminatory elements of the crime, such as racist insults, are simply overlooked by the authorities. The euphemism of hooliganism is no substitute for prosecuting crimes as what they really are,” says Marco Perolini, Amnesty International’s researcher on Discrimination in Europe. “Racism and xenophobia can only end if the authorities acknowledge and document their existence.”

Metin, a Bulgarian citizen of Turkish origin, was brutally attacked by a group of skinheads dressed in black outside an apartment block, home to a large number of migrants. He sustained life-threatening injuries and spent several weeks in a coma. One of the attackers shouted to a man who tried to intervene when they were attempting to break into Metin’s apartment prior to the attack: “Why are you defending migrants? They are killing Bulgarian girls.” Police apprehended the suspects on the spot and a pre-trial investigation was opened for attempted murder motivated by hooliganism.

Homophobic and transphobic hate crimes
There is no legislation in Bulgaria to prosecute homophobic hate crimes which are currently investigated and prosecuted simply as hooligan acts. In January 2014, the government proposed a new criminal code, which included sexual orientation as a prohibited hate motive, but the law’s adoption was suspended in anticipation of parliamentary elections in October 2014. The new government is yet to commit to the change. “Homophobic and transphobic abuses are swept under the rug in Bulgaria. The Bulgarian authorities must revise the law on hate crimes to include all grounds of discrimination so that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people can begin to live without fear,” says Marco Perolini.

Mihail Stoyanov, a 25-year-old student, was brutally killed in a park in Sofia in 2008 because he was perceived to be gay. During the investigation, a man testified that the two suspects were part of a group intending to “cleanse” the park of gays. However, because of gaps in the law, in August 2013, the Sofia City Prosecution Office pressed charges for murder motivated by hooliganism. The prosecutor in that case told Amnesty International: “The law is limited and that’s why I could not take into account the homophobic motive in the indictment.”

Barriers to justice for victims
A majority of victims of hate crimes do not report them to the authorities in the first place. Some say it is because they don’t believe the police will adequately respond to their case, or even because they fear further discrimination from the police. According to a recent European Union survey, 86% of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Bulgaria who had experienced violence or threats of violence did not report these incidents to the police. About a third of those who didn’t report cited fear of homophobic or transphobic reactions from the Bulgarian police as the reason for their reluctance to lodge complaints. Few of those who do report hate crimes receive justice through the courts or reparation. Amnesty International spoke to complainants who were not informed about their rights as victims or any developments in their case, which falls short of what is required by Bulgarian national law.

Aurore, a black French national, was physically assaulted at a bus stop in Sofia by a group of seven or eight men. They made noises that sounded like a monkey and then kicked her. The perpetrators made reference to her ethnicity during the assault, and it is clear she was a victim of a racist attack. She was never summoned as a vic-tim to appear in court nor informed about the court hearing. The court absolved the suspects of all criminal liability and imposed a fine. Aurore told Amnesty Internatio-nal: “...part of me died that day... and even more so, by knowing that those people were just fined and that I was not informed about the hearing…I don’t want money or anything, I just want these acts recognized and sanctioned adequately so that perhaps similar things won’t happen in the future again”. “Bulgarian authorities must investigate, acknowledge and publicly condemn hate crimes to prevent such crimes in future and to challenge the deeply entrenched prejudices that exist in Bulgarian society,” concluded Marco Perolini.
© Amnesty International.

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Dutch Muslim groups worried about mosque protest escalation

9/2/2015- Dutch Muslim organisations say they are concerned about an increase in anti-Muslim incidents following Saturday’s ‘occupation’ of a mosque under construction in Leiden. ‘This was organised and could be the beginning of an escalation,’ lobby group Contactorgaan Moslims en Overheid (CMO) told the Volkskrant. ‘We are really worried about what might come next.’ On Saturday morning five men aged between 21 and 35 climbed onto the roof of the mosque and hung up banners reading ‘stop Islam’ and ‘the victory begins in Leiden’. The men were arrested for trespassing on a building site, questioned and later released. Far-right group Identitair Verzet (identity resistance) later claimed responsibility on Facebook. ‘This is the first act in a series against the Islamisation of the Netherlands,’ the Facebook page said. The group called on ‘all activists and sympathisers in the Netherlands and Flanders’ to join the resistance movement.

Organised
‘This is unlike other incidents,’ said CMO’s Yassin Elforkani. ‘Those were carried out by individuals. There are enough signs we should be worried about this group.’There 
 has been a rise in anti-Muslim incidents in the past few months. In Almere, a man drove into a group of girls on his bike, kicked them and called them ‘c*** Muslims’. In Rotterdam, a girl was spat at and mosques sprayed with graffiti. Identitair Verzet, which has over 5,000 likes on its Facebook page, is led by noted right-wing extremist Paul Peters, according to anti-fascist research group Kafka.
© The Dutch News

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After three men firebombed a German synagogue, a judge let them off with just arson charges because they intended to ‘bring attention to the Gaza conflict.’ That ruling is as wrong as it is dangerous.
By James Kirchick

9/2/2015- Imagine the following scenario. A group of skinheads torch a black church somewhere in the Deep South. Upon being apprehended by the police, they cite the injustices that Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe has visited upon the white farmers of his country as justification for their arson. Mugabe is black, he rules on behalf of “the black race,” and therefore black people everywhere must be made to feel responsible for his crimes. Anyone making such a ridiculous argument would rightly be labeled a racist. But change the victims from black people to Jews, and the perpetrators from pale neo-Nazis to dark-skinned Muslims, and a great many people will claim that what is obviously a crime motivated by blatant bigotry is in fact a politically-inspired protest.

Included in these enlightened ranks we can now add a German jurist from the city of Wuppertal. Last week, the judge convicted two German-Palestinian men of attempted serious arson against a synagogue in the city, along with a juvenile accomplice. But in his ruling, the wise man of the law declared that the crime was motivated not by anti-Semitism, but instead by a desire to “bring attention to the Gaza conflict.” The torching occurred on July 29, in the midst of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, a 50-day armed conflict waged in response to Hamas rocket attacks. A few days before the firebombing, “Free Palestine” had been scrawled on the synagogue walls.

This was not the first time, of course, that people had tried to burn down the synagogue in Wuppertal. It was destroyed during the Kristallnacht pogrom of 1938. According to the logic of the judge, the Jews of yesteryear must have had it coming, too. Perhaps if so many of them had not tried to stab Germany in the back during the First World War, the brown shirts would not have felt the need to ransack their shops and raze their houses of worship to the ground. Never mind the question of why Jews in Germany should have to suffer for the supposed sins of a government half a world away. In a liberal democracy, there are many ways one can “bring attention” to pressing issues elsewhere in the world. One can write newspaper articles. One can petition elected officials. One can hold public demonstrations. One cannot, however, commit acts of violence.

When one does commit an act of violence, it is incumbent upon responsible members of society to call it out for what it is. The torching of a synagogue is anti-Semitism, plain and simple. To call it anything else is moral cowardice. More than that, to deny that it is anti-Semitism is to capitulate to the anti-Semites and be complicit in their anti-Semitism, just as to deny that the racist motives of a black man’s lynching would make one complicit in racism. Had the perpetrators wanted to make their point about Israel untainted by anti-Semitism, they could have easily done so by torching the Israeli embassy. It would have still been unlawful and unreasonable, but not necessarily anti-Semitic. But attacking a Jewish house of worship crosses the line from political protest to unambiguous bigotry. This distinction should be obvious. Yet across the European continent, it is a commonly held opinion that when Muslims commit hate crimes against Jews, they are merely expressing legitimate frustrations regarding the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Take, for instance, BBC presenter Tim Willcox’s interview last month, in the aftermath of the slaughter at Charlie Hebdo and the Hyper Cacher Kosher supermarket, with a shell-shocked Jewish Parisian daughter of Holocaust survivors. Asking the woman what it was like to live as a Jew in a country where four Jews had just been murdered simply because they were Jews and where the number of Jews immigrating to Israel had doubled in the past year, the woman replied that, “the situation is going back to the days of the 1930s in Europe.” To this, Willcox slyly suggested that the Jews deserved what they were getting because of Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians. “Many critics, though, of Israel’s policy would suggest that the Palestinians suffer hugely at Jewish hands as well” he said.

Not only does this faulty logic—if one can even call it that—excuse anti-Semitism. It patronizes Muslims. By holding them to a double standard, excusing away violent hate crimes as just immoderate forms of political expression, we treat them as children. We render them helpless to express their grievances like the rest of humanity via civilized means, capable only of “acting out” in the form of suicide bombing and other violent methods. To call this mode of thinking a form of moral confusion would be too gentle. Just like explaining away the firebombing of a house of worship, it is sinister excuse making for murderous bigotry.
© The Daily Beast

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Germany: Synagogue Arson 'Not Antisemitism' Says Judge

A judge in Germany convicted three German Palestinians for attacking a synagogue, but said they were bringing "attention to the Gaza confict," not anti-Semitic.

7/2/2015- Three German Palestinians convicted of arson after hurling firebombs at a synagogue in Germany were motivated by trying to bring “attention to the Gaza conflict,” according to the judge who convicted them on Thursday, Jerusalem Post journalist Benjamin Weinthal reported. The judge in the case did not believe the men were guilty of anti-Semitism, according to outraged Green Party deputy Volker Beck, who told media he wrote to the prosecutor in the case to file a legal objection, reported. Several days prior to the firebombing, “Free Palestine” had been sprayed in paint on to the wall of the synagogue as well. The rebuilt synagogue in Wuppertal, North Rhine-Westphalia was undamaged in the July 29, 2014 attack, which sparked a solidarity rally outside the building that same night. Dieter Graumann, then-president of the German Central Council of Jews, condem-ned the attack as did Germany’s Central Council of Muslims.

The two older attackers, ages 29 and 24, were given suspended sentences of 15 months in prison – which means they served no time – and together with their 18-year-old accom-plice were ordered to perform 200 hours of community service. “This is a mistaken decision as far as the motives of the perpetrators are concerned,” Beck told international media in a statement. “Therefore, I have written the prosecutor and called for the filing of a legal objection.“ Burning a synagogue in Germany because of a conflict in the Middle East can be attributed only to anti-Semitism, Beck contended. “What do Jews in Germany have to do with the Middle East conflict? Every bit as much as Christians, non-religious people or Muslims in Germany, namely, absolutely nothing. The ignorance of the judiciary toward anti-Semitism is for many Jews in Germany especially alarming, he said.” The original Wuppertal synagogue was burned down by Germans during the pogrom of Kristallnacht in 1938, but the echoes of the past seem to be growing louder. The German state has seen an upswing in anti-Semitism, as has the country in general.

Anti-Semitism in Germany is on the rise, according to the Central Council of Jews in Germany, as it is in other countries across Europe. Graumann offered a sobering comment on the situation just before leaving his post in an interview with BILD newspaper in November 2014: “For a while I noticed that anti-Semitism is becoming increasingly public and is no longer hidden. We often receive anti-Semitic messages sent according to name and address. Some people are no longer ashamed and no longer hide their hostility to Jews. “We have seen … during the war in Gaza, demonstrations of pure primitive hatred against the Jews that broke out again. It is very hard for me to talk about it but, when there are calls in the streets of Germany, ‘Jews to the gas,’ it hurts us greatly,” he added. Two weeks prior to the publication of Graumann’s interview, the neo-Nazi ‘Die Rechte’ party (The Right) demanded to know where all the Jews live in the city of Dortmund.

‘Die Rechte’ wrote to Mayor Ullrich Sierau through one of its city council members, Dennis Giemsch, seeking to know how many Jews live in the city and in which districts, and their addresses, according to a post on the Coordination Forum for Countering Anti-Semitism (CFCA). Giemsch, a full-time computer student, wrote that the information was ‘relevant for our political work.’ The demand was refused and the letter was passed to the Interior Ministry of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia – the same state in which the torched synagogue is located – and which is “looking at ways to legally ban the party.” The political party is the smallest of the far-right groups in Germany, but its numbers are growing, particularly among the young, according to the CFCA.
© The Jewish Press

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Germany: Arrests after neo-Nazis target Dortmund refugee home

Police have launched an investigation after a group of right-wing extremists chanting xenophobic slogans marched outside a home for asylum seekers in Dortmund. The city in Germany's west is a known neo-Nazi stronghold.

7/2/2015- Police said Saturday they were called to the refugee home in Dortmund's northern Eving district overnight after witnesses reported seeing a crowd of more than 20 masked men brandishing burning torches, chanting xenophobic slogans and letting off firecrackers. Around 200 police officers were deployed. "When we arrived at the home there was no longer anyone there. Just a few torches lying in the road," a police spokesman said. Officers overnight arrested 13 suspects in the area on suspicion of violating the Assembly Act. Police also seized a number of items including mobile phones, torches, and clothing from the scene. According to authorities, the individuals taken into custody belong to Dortmund's far-right scene. "We are doing everything we can to stop this unacceptable provocation and intimidation by right-wing extremists, " Dortmund police chief Gregor Lange said, adding that people who had fled their home countries to escape poverty and violence were in particular need of protection. Police have launched an investigation into the incident. The city in the province of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) is considered a neo-Nazi stronghold. 

Press in the firing line
Friday's demonstration came just days after anonymous death threats were made against journalists covering Dortmund's neo-Nazi scene. Several local reporters this week found fake death certificates with their names published online. "At first I laughed: I was pretty sure I was still alive. And I then called my colleagues to make sure they were alive. They were, too," Sebastian Weiermann, one of the targets, told DW. "But, when it sinks in, it really does makes you think." The prosecutor's office said it believed right-wing groups were behind the threats. Dortmund is home to the right-wing "Nationaler Widerstand" (National Resistance), banned in 2012 by NRW Interior Minister Ralf Jäger, who called it xenophobic, racist and a threat to peaceful coexistence. The openly xenophobic party "Die Rechte," or The Right, has since emerged there. About one fifth of asylum seekers who come to Germany are put up in one of the more than 1,000 lodgings in NRW, the country's most populous state. Birigt Naujoks, director of the NRW Refugee Council, said the number of attacks and anti-refugee rallies had increased significantly in recent years. Since 2000, there have been five murders committed by known neo-Nazis in Dortmund, and a litany of other violent attacks against foreigners.
© The Deutsche Welle.

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Austria: Neo-Nazi vandals plague Salzburg

Vandals in the Austrian city of Salzburg have defaced a plaque commemorating the 1938 burning of books by the Nazis, in the latest in a series of similar incidents, police said Sunday.

8/2/2015- The plaque on a church recalling the first public burning of books following the Nazi annexation of Austria was "daubed with a tar-like substance," police spokesman Michael Rausch told AFP. The memorial, mounted in 2011, includes the famous quote by German poet Heinrich Heine (1797-1856): "That was only a prelude -- When you burn books, ultimately you will also burn people". In the past two years there have been a spate of similar incidents of vandalism in Salzburg in western Austria believed to have been carried out by neo-Nazis. This has included around 60 cases of plaques in the pavement -- so-called "Stolpersteine" ("stumbling stones") -- that contain the names of Jews murdered by the Nazis being defaced. Last month two men aged 21 and 22 were sentenced to five years and four years respectively in prison for the "Stolpersteine" vandalism, but other incidents have gone unsolved.

In January 2014 vandals painted yellow a Star of David symbol outside Salzburg's synagogue. Under the Nazis Jews were forced to wear yellow stars. And in May 2014 glass on a monument to around 500 mentally ill patients from Salzburg killed by the Nazis was smashed. Three people were charged last week over the incident. The same month the letters "KZ" -- short for "Konzentrationslager" ("concentration camp") -- was sprayed on a wall outside a shelter for the homeless. Away from Salzburg, last week four swastikas were found daubed or etched on walls at the former Nazi concentration camp Mauthausen, as well as the word "Hitler" in small letters. Last Monday the German "anti-Islamisation" movement Pegida's first demonstration in Austria, in Vienna, included a number of neo-Nazis who performed Hitler salutes and shouting "Sieg Heil". On Sunday the northern city of Linz was due to hold its first Pegida march, with police predicting around 300 participants, while some 1,000 people were expected at a counter-demo.
© The Local - Austria

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UK: Police investigate windows of kosher restaurant is smashed in Edgware

12/2/2015- Police are investigating after the windows of a kosher restaurant in north London were smashed. It was initially suggested gun shots shattered the windows of Orli Cafe, in Hale Lane, Edgware, at 5.30pm this evening. But a police spokesman confirmed a “projectile” was thrown at the window, possibly from a vehicle driving past. Police said there have been four incidents of windows being smashed across Edgware and Barnet this evening, including one other building and two vehicles. The attacks are “random” and it is unknown if there is anti-Semitic motive, police said. A Met spokesman said: “There have been four incidents across Edgware and Barnet of windows being smashed by a projectile of some sort, some people think it is a marble. There is no obvious motive. “We are trying to establish if it was a vehicle or vehicles.” Nobody has been injured in the incidents. Jewish charity Community Security Trust are also helping police with the investigation. The charity tweeted: “Initial investigation suggests firearm not used at Edgware kosher restaurant, may be linked to other non-antisemitic incident in area.”
© The London Evening Standard.

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UK: Anti-Semitic hate crimes on the rise in Hackney

10/2/2015- Hackney has the third highest rate of anti-Semitic crime of any London borough according to the Community Security Trust’s annual report. Islamophobic crime, though higher, in the rest of London, has not increased so sharply. The data released last week showed that anti-Semitic crimes in Britain went up by 118 per cent last year compared to 2013. In 2014, 1,168 incidents were reported compared to 535 in 2013, half of which took place in London. Of the 194 incidents reported in London 58 were reported in Hackney which is just under 30 per cent of the total anti-Semitic incidents reported in London during 2014. Overall last year, Islamophobic crimes reported to the Metropolitan Police in Lon-don increased by 11 per cent compared to 2013.

While the rate of increase of anti-Semitic crimes is higher than Islamophobic crimes, the total figures of Islamophobic crimes are almost double the figures of anti-Semitic crimes according to Metropolitan Police statistics. The Trust attributed this apparent rise in anti-Semitism in Britain last year mostly to the conflict in Israel and Gaza during July-August 2014, during which 103 of the total 194 incidents occurred. “Trigger events” such as this can cause temporary spikes in anti-Semitism, as was the case during the 2009 and 2006 Gaza wars. Similarly the recent Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris by a militant Islamic group caused a noticeable increase in Islamophobia in Bri-tain. YouGov conducted an online survey of how Britons perceive Muslims in the UK, following the attack on Charlie Hebdo. Of the people surveyed, 61 per cent of Britons viewed Islam negatively and 25 per cent viewed it positively.
© East London Online

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UK: How to reverse surge in religious hate crime?

Last week there was a report in the French press that an Israeli salon was marketing a discreet hair-based kippa - the small cap worn as a visible symbol of Jewish faith - to European Jews who don't want to be that visible any more.

9/2/2015- It is the kind of story that feels like it's a sign of the times in the wake of the Paris attacks and heightened concern among British security chiefs for the safety of Jewish communities here. In the UK, all the statistics for religiously motivated hate crime have been moving in the wrong direction. Last week's figures from the Community Security Trust, an expert body monitoring anti-Semitism in the UK, make grim and record-breaking reading. Anti-Semitic incidents more than doubled to 1,168 in 2014, the highest figure since the trust began monitoring in 1984. The previous year had been the lowest on record. There were 314 incidents in July alone - the high-est recorded in a single month. Hate crime tends to be driven by "trigger" events - and last summer's trigger for anti-Semitism was the conflict in Gaza. The CST said that almost half of the offenders made reference to Gaza or Palestinians during the incidents it recorded in July and August. It can be really difficult to identify the perpetrator. In those incidents where the victim could do so, the CST figures reveal a number of perpetrators of either a South Asian, Arab or North African appearance.

Muslim tensions
Decades ago, the British extreme far right and fascism were the forces behind anti-Semitism. But on the face of it, the figures are now pointing to widespread anti-Jewish feelings among some Muslims in Britain. This analysis is shared by many leading progressive Muslim thinkers. But what these thinkers also point out is that the rise in attacks against Britain's Jews mirrors the trend for Muslims themselves - and the two communities need to make common cause. Police recorded 44,500 hate crimes in England and Wales during 2013-14. That was up 5% on the previous year across race, religion, sexual orientation, disability and transgender - the five key measures that feature in national figures. Some of that rise has been attributed to better reporting of existing levels of hate.

But a further breakdown indicates there was a 45% jump in religiously motivated incidents to 2,300 - and that appears to have been largely down to more anti-Muslim incidents following the jihadist murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby in Woolwich. In London, the home of the largest numbers of British Jews and Muslims, police recorded 358 anti-Semitic crimes in 2014 and 611 anti-Muslim crimes. While the trigger for anti-Semitism comes down to haters blaming Britain's Jews for something they don't like about Israel, the mirror trigger for anti-Muslim crimes is yet another group of haters blaming Muslims for things that al-Qaeda inspired extremists have done. So how do you go about tackling this stuff?

Social media
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Anti-Semitism's (APPG) latest report calls for internet "Asbos" to ban them from using social media to spread hate. It also wants the government to fund the security of synagogues and to review what's being done to improve interfaith relations. What will come of the first two remains to be seen - but on the interfaith issue, there is some hope. Tell Mama is a Muslim hate crime initiative that is closely modelled on the Community Security Trust and is backing the APPG's calls for social media Asbos because, quite simply, both communities are victims of hate crime. It wants more British Muslims to recognise and speak out about anti-Semitism because it is morally objectionable to suggest that one form of hate crime is worse than another. That view is shared by a host of individuals and small unnoticed organisations that work hard to improve understandings between the two faiths.

A fortnight ago, two leading progressive British Muslims, Sughra Ahmed of the Islamic Society of Britain and Dilwar Hussain of New Horizons in British Islam, spoke eloquently in a north London synagogue about the sorrow and pain they felt over Paris. And - who'd have thought it - a synagogue in Bradford has even appointed a Muslim to its ruling body.
© BBC News

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UK: Labour plans blacklist to curb rising hate crime

Shadow home secretary to unveil strategy to tackle the soaring rise in antisemitism, Islamophobia, homophobia and abuse of people with disabilities

7/2/2015- People convicted of homophobic, transgender or disability hate crime would be put on a “blacklist” to warn future employers of past misdemeanours under new proposals by Labour. The shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, will on Monday unveil a strategy to tackle the UK’s soaring rise in antisemitism, Islamophobia, homophobia and abuse of people with disabilities. The package includes making homophobic and disability hate crimes an aggravated criminal offence, ensuring that police treat such offences in the same way as racist hate crimes. Cooper will outline changes to the criminal records framework whereby such offences will be clearly marked on the criminal records of perpetrators. Currently, records checks do not highlight homophobia, disability or transgender identity as a motivating factor in a conviction, and do not automatically appear in police data used for vetting applicants in sensitive vocations, such as those working with vulnerable people, including the disabled.

Labour’s move comes as a new breakdown of police figures reveals an escalation in hate crimes since 2012, with a steep rise in abuse reported by the transgender community alongside the well-documented rises in antisemitism and Islamophobia. Measures to combat the role of social media in disseminating and perpetrating hate crime will also be unveiled. These include a review of police and guidance from the Crown Prosecution Service to ensure that crimes such as antisemitism on social networks such as Twitter are covered. The review follows high-profile online attacks, including abuse targeting prominent British Jews and Muslims. Hate crimes recorded by police in England and Wales reveal a rise across all five recording categories – race, religion, sexual orientation, disability and transgender – with the number of offences rising from 43,927 in the 12 months to April 2013 to 46,919 in the following 12 months.

Last week it was revealed that antisemitic incidents in the UK had reached their highest-ever level, more than doubling in the past year. Incidences of Islamophobia are reported to have risen since the Charlie Hebdo killings. Cooper said: “Hate crimes have no place in modern Britain. No one should fear being attacked because of their religion, their sexuality, the colour of their skin, or their disability. Much more needs to be done to ensure those who commit these serious crimes are brought to justice, and this includes looking at where the law needs to be strengthened.” Cooper said companies such as Twitter must do more to tackle repeat offenders and monitor individuals who are the target of repeat abuse. On Thursday, Twitter’s chief executive acknowledged that the company “sucks at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform, and we’ve sucked at it for years”.

The shadow home secretary said: “Too often industry has been slow to respond to reports of their social media platforms being used to bully and abuse people or spread abhorrent ideology.” Amid the rise in hate crimes, the coalition government has been accused of failing to respond to a Law Commission report on hate crimes that recommends changes to the criminal records system. Labour would introduce programmes in schools to tackle antisemitism, Islamophobia, homophobic bullying and targeting of disabled children. “We need to look at what more we can do to prevent discrimination, bigotry and hate taking hold in the first place,” said Cooper. Between April 2013 and April 2014 hate crimes over race in England and Wales rose from 35,889 to 37,484; offences involving sexual orientation increased from 4,261 to 4,622; and transgender hate crime escalated from 361 to 555 – a 54% increase. During the same period, disability hate crimes increased from 1,843 to 1,985, while criminal offences linked to religion grew from 1,573 to 2,273, a rise of 45%. Labour’s special envoy on LGBT issues, Lord Cashman, said: “These wide-ranging measures will signal to everyone that such behaviour is unacceptable in a civilised society.”
© The Guardian

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Headlines 6 February, 2015

Ukraine: Swastikas again deface Babi Yar memorial monument

3/2/2015- For the third time in recent months, swastikas were discovered on the Babi Yar memorial monument for Holocaust victims in Kiev. The latest incident was discovered on Jan. 30 by employees of the National Historical Memorial Site in Babi Yar, where Nazi troops killed more than 33,000 Jews in 1941. The swastikas were daubed on a monument shaped like a menorah that stands at the entrance to the site, the news website evreiskiy.kiev.ua reported. The incident closely follows commemorations in Ukraine and across the world on Jan. 27, International Holocaust Memorial Day, which this year attracted considerable media attention because it was the 70th anniversary of the Red Army’s liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Similar graffiti was found in Babi Yar in November and October, directly after the annual commemoration of the massacre there.

The incident in Ukraine comes amid a spate of anti-Semitic vandalism in Europe last week that included incidents in the former Nazi camp of Mauthausen in Austria and the fence of a Jewish cemetery in Poland. A fourth incident in France was reported on Sunday on the website of the Israel-based Coordination Forum for Countering Anti-Semitism. On Jan. 29, a privately owned automobile in Paris was vandalized with “Jews to the oven” painted in white and a Star of David painted on its hood. The report did not say who owns the car. Also in France, on Jan. 30, anti-Semitic graffiti was sprayed on the walls of a Catholic private school in Nancy, in the country’s northeast. The mayor of Nancy said that a swastika, Stars of David and the word “Jew” were sprayed on the school’s fence, the news website ici-c-nancy.fr reported.
© JTA News

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France: Three soldiers stabbed at Riviera Jewish centre

3/2/2015- French soldiers, who were protecting a Jewish centre in the Riviera city of Nice, were attacked by a man wielding a knife on Tuesday, leaving two of them injured. France's counter-terrorism police have launched an investigation. The soldiers were on guard in front of the centre as part of reinforced security measures, implemented in the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks last month. According to reports the man approached the soldiers at 2.10pm and pulled out a big knife, before attacking one of them aiming at his face and his neck. The other two soldiers were able to overpower the attacker, but one of them was injured in the process. The man was expelled from Turkey last week, a security source told the AFP news agency. He was interrogated by French intelligence services when he returned from Turkey, the same source said.

According to reports on BFM TV, the arrested man had ID papers which carried the name Moussa Coulibaly - the same name of the man who attacked the kosher store in Paris, killing four people last month. This however is unconfirmed and there is no suggestion as yet that there is a link between the pair. According to the mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, a possible accomplice was arrested nearby. The centre in Nice where the attack took place was home to the headquarters of the Nice Jewish Consistory - the local Jewish council - and Radio Shalom. Following the Paris terror attacks, which included a deadly attack on a Jewish kosher store, the French government deployed thousands of troops to be stationed outside various Jewish venues, including synagogues and community centres.

President François Hollande also vowed to tackle the "unacceptable" rise of anti-Semitic acts in France. Shortly after the stabbing the mayor of the Nice, Christian Estrosi, tweeted “We are all under attack” and called on the government to ensure the soldiers remained in the city to protect the public. The anti-terrorist unit of the French police has been put in charge of the investigation.
© The Local - France

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Russia: Racism and Xenophobia in January 2015

The following is our review of racism and xenophobia in Russia during the first month of 2015. The data we report are collected in the course of Sova Center’s daily monitoring.

3/2/2015- This month, at least three people were targeted in racist and xenophobic attacks. We also recorded no fewer than four acts of vandalism that could be classified as motivated by hatred or nationalist ideology. The most significant public event in terms of racism and xenophobia this month was the January 24 People's Assembly in Mineralnye Vody. The impetus for the gathering was the murder of contractor Dmitry Sidorenko by ethnic Armenians during a brawl at a local cafe. The rally, which had been announced by Aleksandr Amelin (of Russian Revival), Vitaly Shishkin (of Right-Wing for European Development), and local nationalist activist Oksana (Vyolva) Borisova, brought together about 150 people; they attempted to block a federal highway twice, but eventually dispersed peacefully.

There were a few other notable nationalist events this month. One was on January 5, where the Tula Region National Union held a rally in support of an arrested nationalist Anton Baranov. About 30 people attended. On January 18, in Syktyvkar, the Northern Frontier held a March of Right-Wing Youth. About 30 people participated, flying flags and shouting anti-migrant slogans and football fans’ chants. On January 1, a few cities across the country saw New Year’s editions of the Russian Jogs. In Moscow, the run began at the Christ the Savior Church, with about 50 people participating. In Saint Petersburg, there were two such runs – between 10 and 30 people participated. Other cities where the runs were held include Krasnoyarsk, Omsk, Tolyatti, Tomsk, Ufa, Yaroslavl and a few other cities, but no event drew more than 40 people.

Ultra-right-wing activists continue to participate as militants in the separatist war in Ukraine. For example, at the beginning of January, journalists identified Alexey (“Kolovrat”) Kozhemyakin, a known Komi Republic neo-Nazi, among soldiers in the so-called Azov Battalion in Ukraine. January 2015 saw at least two convictions for racist violence, against two individuals in Moscow and the Sverdlovsk region. One of them, a member of the group Folksturm, the 26-year-old Ilya Dorokhov, had been a fugitive until December 2014 and was detained by Interior Ministry troops in Saint Petersburg. The Sverdlovsk Regional Court sentenced him to ten years in prison. There were at least ten convictions for xenopho-bic propaganda, in nine regions of the country, this month. Ten people were convicted. Meanwhile, the Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated three times (on January 16, 22, and 26). It now includes 2,588 entries. Among the new additions are publications by Islamist militants (including the entire website sodiqlar.info) and the profiles of neo-Nazi skinheads on Vkontakte, the Russian social network, as well as pagan publications and books by Maksim Martsinkevich.

The Federal List of Extremist Organizations, which is published on the Ministry of Justice website, was updated to include five ultra-right-wing Ukrainian groups: Right Sector, the UNA-UNSO, the UPA, the Trident of Stepan Bandera, and Brotherhood. The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation declared them all to be extremist in a November 17, 2014 ruling. As such, as of January 30, 2015, the list now includes 41 organizations banned by an injunction, and whose continued activities would violate Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code (organizational activities of an extremist organization). On January 19, activists in twelve Russian cities held annual marches in memory of Stanislav Markelov, the human rights lawyer, and Anastasia Baburova, the Novaya Gazeta journalist, who were both murdered by a neo-Nazi as they left a press conference on the date in 2009. In Moscow, the rally brought together a slightly smaller number of people than usual – by Sova Center’s estimate, between 500 and 540 people attended. Right-wing activists from the National Liberation Movement and God’s Will attempted to prevent the action, and according to police, ten of them were detained.

About 200 people came to the march in Saint Petersburg, which began on Vasilievsky Island and was held with the city’s consent for the first time in a few years. After previously having been denied permission to hold the march, Saint Petersburg activists had challenged the refusal, taking it all the way to the Supreme Court. There was a press conference the same day on the difficulties of securing permission to march.
© SOVA Center for Information and Analysis.

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Poland: Vandals Deface Fence of Jewish Cemetery in Warsaw

2/2/2015- Unknown vandals defaced the fence of a Jewish cemetery in Warsaw, considered to be one of the largest in Europe. The attack on the Jewish cemetery on Okopowa Street in Warsaw was discovered on Saturday. Burials still occur in part of the cemetery. The vandals wrote on the fence with red spray paint: “Jews for slaughter,” and the date 10.12.14. That is the day on which Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal ruled in the case of religious slaughter, when judges on the Tribunal decided that the ban on ritual slaughter was unconstitutional. The gate of the cemetery was painted with yellow emulsion paint as well. The damage was discovered on Sunday by cemetery Director Przemyslaw Szpilman, who immediately notified police. Szpilman said that he does not know if the vandalism is an “immature prank or a political issue.” “Such incidents do not happen very often. In 2013, someone painted a swastika on the wall of the cemetery, but for the last 12 years nothing like that has happened,” he told JTA. “Less than a week after the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, we have to deal with the manifestation of hatred against Jews. ‘Jews for slaughter’ is not only a humiliation that society cannot ignore, it is an invitation to violence and threats to which we should all be vigilant,” said Anna Chipczynska, President of the Jewish Community of Warsaw. “It is sad, that the deceased perish for the decisions of the living,” Piotr Kadlcik, former president of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland, told JTA.
© JTA News

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Austria: Neo-Nazis daub swastikas at Mauthausen memorial

One or more unknown suspects have defaced walls at the Mauthausen concentration camp in Upper Austria with swastikas over the weekend.

2/2/2015- According to a press release from Upper Austrian state police, attention was drawn to the graffiti by visitors to the camp on Sunday. A visitor complained to one of the employees that a felt pen and a sharp object had been used to draw and scratch four of the Nazi symbols on the walls of the former laundry of the camp, as well as in the bunker area. The word Hitler was also written on the walls. Police believe that the vandalism was carried out during opening hours on the previous day, as visitors don't have access outside of those times. Some 200,000 people, around a quarter of them Jewish, from 40 nations were incarcerated at Mauthausen, set in rolling hills just north of the Danube river near Linz, where Hitler went to school. Around 90,000 didn't make it, perishing in back-breaking labour in granite quarries from malnourishment, disease -- or shot by the guards, hanged, throttled, beaten to a pulp or gassed.
© The Local - Austria

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Austria: Swastikas found on Vienna mosque before anti-Islam march

First demonstration in Austrian capital planned by PEGIDA, which campaigns against Muslim immigration to Europe

2/2/2015- Vandals sprayed several swastikas on a Vienna mosque, Austrian police said Monday ahead of the country’s first demonstration by the “anti-Islamization” movement PEGI-DA. A police spokeswoman told AFP that the graffiti, found on Sunday morning, were being “investigated by the national security agency.” It is the latest in a series of anti-Islamic — and anti-Semitic — acts of vandalism in EU member state Austria. In December unknown culprits left a pig’s head and intestines in front of the door of another mosque in the capital. A street sign was changed to read “Sharia Street” in September. This weekend four swastikas and the word “Hitler” were found drawn and etched on walls on the former Nazi concentration camp Mauthausen. On Saturday night two men were assaulted in central Vienna by four others shouting anti-Semitic slogans such as “Scheissjuden” (“shitty Jews”), media reports said.

This followed clashes between police and demonstrators protesting against a traditional Viennese ball attended by far-right figures when 54 people were arrested. PEGIDA, which has drawn thousands of supporters on the streets of the German city of Dresden is recent months, was due to hold its first march in Austria on Monday evening. Small “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident” offshoots have also sprung up in other German cities and in European countries including Denmark, Switzerland and Spain. The Vienna march in the city center was expected to attract fewer than 300 people. A counter-demonstration was also planned, with 1,200 extra police on duty in case of trouble.
© AFP

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