ICARE Hate Crime News - Archive April 2015

Headlines 24 April, 2015

Ukraine: Swastika returns to Kiev Holocaust memorial

24/4/2015- The monument commemorating Jewish victims of the Babi Yar massacre in Kiev was desecrated for the fourth time in recent months, possibly on Adolf Hitler’s birthday. The perpetrators sprayed a swastika on the “Menorah” monument marking the slaughter of more than 33,000 Jews in 1941 by Nazi occupation forces and their collaborators, the news site evreiskiy.kiev.ua reported Thursday. The desecration of the monument at Babi Yar, one of the largest single killing operations of the Holocaust, may have been timed to coincide with Hitler’s April 20 birthday, according to the report by the website, affiliated with a not-for-profit that monitors anti-Semitic incidents in Ukraine.

The vandalism at the Menorah monument is the fourth targeting of the site in recent months. The last anti-Semitic incident there was documented on Jan. 27, Interna-tional Holocaust Memorial Day. On that day, too, vandals daubed swastikas on the monument. In 2014, the monument was targeted three more times. Evreiskiy.kiev.ua criticized authorities for not doing enough to find the culprits. “The CCTV cameras behind the monument are still there,” the organization wrote in a statement, “yet police were not able even once to identify the culprits or punish them.”

Ukraine, where anti-Semitic incidents are less prevalent than in some Western European states, has seen an increase in such cases in the wake of its 2013 revolution. The revolution resulted in fighting between pro-Russian separatists and government troops, as well as Ukrainian nationalists. Both sides have blamed one another for encouraging anti-Semitism.
© JTA News

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Portugal: 'They hate black people'

Portugal is often praised for its success in integrating immigrants but in the suburbs of Lisbon police are being accused of racism and brutality.

23/4/2015- Jailza Sousa's young son is afraid when she hangs out the washing on their first-floor balcony. "He's traumatised," says the 29-year-old from Cape Verde. "He says, 'Don't go there because you're going to get shot.'" Looking down the narrow, potholed streets, she remembers what happened one day in February, earlier this year. It was noon in Cova da Moura - a ramshackle suburb on a hill on the outskirts of Lisbon built by immigrants from Portugal's former African colonies. The restaurants serve cachupa, a slow-cooked stew of corn, beans and meat which is the national dish of Cape Verde. The streets resonate to the sounds of music from Angola. It's a colourful, friendly place by day, but it has a reputation for drugs, crime and violence. It's a place that taxi drivers refuse to go at night.

On 5 February, a team of police officers had a young man called Bruno up against a wall. They were searching him and started beating him - his blood stained the wall and street for several days afterwards. Bystanders started protesting, and the police reacted with shotguns loaded with rubber buckshot. "A policeman came walking in this direction, and he pointed a gun," says Sousa. She had just hung out her washing, and was mopping the floor. "He shot me in the chest, then when I was trying not to fall, he cocked his gun and hit me again in the hip. "He saw me trying to recover my balance, if it had been by chance he wouldn't have shot the second time - and he did." "They treat us like animals," Sousa says of the police. "It's a black neighbourhood - they treat us like we're all here to be exterminated."

Sousa was taken to hospital while two people who work for a local human rights organisation, Moinho de Juventude, or Mill of Youth, set off for the police station to find out what had happened to Bruno. The two men, Flavio Almada and Celso Lopes, were accompanied by about five other young men who had witnessed the incident. When they arrived at the police station, they say three police officers were blocking the entrance. "Suddenly about 15 or 20 cops came with sticks, with shotguns, and started trying to kick and punch us, trying to hit us with batons," says Lopes. "And I said 'OK, I'm leaving,'" claims Almada. But he says one police officer cocked his shotgun. "And quickly, he shoot." Lopes was hit in the leg by rubber buckshot. He, Almada and three others were then taken inside the police station, where they were handcuffed. They allege the beatings continued accompanied by extreme racist abuse.

Almada says one officer told him, "You don't know how much I hate you. If I had the power, you would all be exterminated." He says he was terrified. "I will never forget his face. I will never forget his words." The men claim other police officers told them they should join Islamic State. Lopes says for five hours they received no medical attention. Eventu-ally all five men were admitted to hospital. Almada says he suffers from terrible nightmares and some of the injuries have still not healed. When he smiles he reveals a chipped front tooth. Four separate investigations are underway into what happened. Both the Interior Ministry and Portugal's racial discrimination commission are investigating the conduct of the police.

Almada, Lopes and their friends face charges of invading the police station, and they in turn are pressing their own charges of torture and racism against the police. "When the police come the police are the law," says Lopes. "You are no longer living in a democracy, you are living in a police state." The BBC requested an interview with the police to discuss the incident and relations with communities such as Cova da Moura, but the police declined. At the time, the media reported that Bruno had thrown a rock at a police van, breaking a window and injuring an officer. Bruno and eyewitnesses deny this. It was also reported that the men had tried to storm the police station and that the five who were detained had suffered "minor" injuries after resisting arrest. There were later reports that a police officer was taken to hospital with a broken arm. This incident reignited long standing claims of police brutality and racism - a story told in the graffiti on Cova da Moura's walls.

A video circulating on social media shows another recent police raid in Cova da Moura which was filmed by a resident. In the early hours of the morning, police with shotguns and wearing balaclavas can be seen walking through the streets, and shots can be heard. t's claimed a young man was hit in the head by rubber buckshot. These police are part of what's known as a Rapid Intervention Team - highly trained and heavily equipped, and normally only called in when a situation escalates beyond what the regular police can handle. But Almada says they are a common sight. He introduces me to Whassysa Magalhaes, a teacher and part of the management of Moinho de Juventude. One day the police stopped her and asked for her ID. "I was late and said I had to go to university and they said, 'Black people study?'" she recalls, adding that they used a derogatory term for black people.

Others tell stories of being called monkeys or having their ID cards destroyed by police. "Here, police just ask you to stop and if you don't stop or you ignore them, they shoot at you, start kicking you, hitting you with sticks," says one young man, Fabio. "They hate black people." In another part of Lisbon, Quinta da Lage, the side of one house is painted with a mural of a young black man, and the words "RIP Kuku, let justice be done." The house belongs to Domingas Sanches. In 2009, her 14-year-old son Elson, also known as Kuku, was driving with friends in a stolen car when they were stopped by police. They started to run away, but Elson was caught by one of the officers. He managed to break away, and was then shot in the head at point blank range by the policeman.

"It's difficult but life goes on, sometimes I cry, I miss him," says Sanches. The policeman was tried for gross negligent manslaughter and acquitted after claiming he heard a sound like a pistol being cocked, and saw a metallic object in Elson's hand. A weapon was recovered at the scene, although Elson's defenders say it had no fingerprints on it and claim it was planted. "I felt a great disgust," says Sanches. "If it were a 14-year-old kid killing a policeman, then someone would be found responsible." "The only thing I wanted was that justice be done, but it probably won't be." This sense of injustice is widespread. Activists claim that 14 young black men have been killed by police since 2001, and that no police officers have been held responsible for those deaths, though the numbers include some deaths where police responsibility is disputed.

One person who remembers the first of those shootings is Lieve Meersschaert. Born in Belgium she came to Cova da Moura in the early 80s where she co-founded Moinho de Juventude, the organisation that Almada and Lopes work for. In 2001 a police officer killed a man by shooting him in the back, she says, prompting an escalation of violence.
Eventually Moinho arranged a dinner for local police commanders to meet young people from the neighbourhood - including the sister of the man who was shot. "It was very funny when the 35 police station commanders arrived, they didn't want to come in. And afterwards we almost had to kick them out, because they didn't want to leave," she says. She points to a photo. "This is at the end of the dinner. We have the godmother of the boy who was killed kissing on the cheek the police commander."

After that meeting the police commander of the local area, Antonio Manuel Pereira, worked on improving relations between police and residents. They held football tournaments and children spent time with the officers. But Pereira retired in 2012 and his replacement put less emphasis on community policing, says Meersschaert. Around the same time a pilot programme called the Critical Neighbourhoods Initiative, which promoted closer co-operation between police and residents, was cancelled by the newly elected conser-vative government. Meersschaert says brutality has got worse since then, and that the government ignored warnings.

The BBC made several requests for interviews to the Interior Ministry and the Prime Minister's office, which were all turned down. Eventually the Ministry provided a statement about the police, referred to here as the PSP. "We reject the suggestion of the existence of police violence and racism. Community policing was, and will continue to be the basis for the deployment of police resources, with a view to ensuring the safety of people and property and to prevent crime. [Community policing] has never been abandoned by the PSP, either in Cova da Moura or in any sensitive urban area. On the contrary, the PSP carries out, on average, more than 15,000 community or neighbourhood policing operations a year, and in sensitive urban areas, interventions of this nature have been increasing. It is not correct to establish a correlation between the reduction of police officers in recent years and purely economic measures."

Almada feels that the problems in Cova da Moura come from a deeper attitude in Portuguese society. "Racism is beyond the police, it's the whole frame of society, it's a big issue and I don't believe they want to change all these things," he says. "If you see Portugal receiving a prize for well integrated immigrants it's a big lie." But Portugal's High Commis-sioner for Migration, Pedro Calado disagrees. "We don't have this big problem of racism in our society," he says. Calado - the head of the government body tasked with promoting integration, and dealing with racial discrimination - points to the Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX). This global study ranks countries according to how successfully they integrate migrants. Portugal currently comes second, behind Sweden. Portugal's defenders also point out that it hasn't had riots like London or Paris, and that there's little anti-immigrant political rhetoric in Portugal.

"I have this clear perception that what happened in Cova da Moura is not the general situation of the country. This was an exception," says Calado. He also oversees Portugal's Commission for Equality and Against Racial Discrimination, which handles racial discrimination complaints. "We don't have many complaints," he says as he shows me a report containing the data. It indicates that from 2005-13, there were 75 complaints against the security forces. I ask how many of those complaints were upheld. "We would have to look at the data," says Calado. "I cannot tell." Despite several weeks of emailing back and forth after our interview, the High Commission wouldn't tell me the number of complaints upheld against the security forces for racial discrimination. They say they lack the resources to process the data.

But piecing together the data that is available, it seems that fewer than 10 racism complaints against the security forces have been upheld in the past 10 years in the whole of Portugal. In places such as Cova da Moura, this is seen as evidence of a broken system which doesn't hold police accountable. Although Portuguese officials deny a deep, systemic problem with the police, the recent incident involving Almada and Lopes has led to some changes. The Interior Ministry met people from neighbourhood organisations, including Moinho de Juventude and promised to set up a new Early Warning Commission to avoid conflict. Almada says he hopes that what happened to him might make a small difference, but he's cautious. "I want to see the results," he says. "I'm like that guy the disciple of Jesus, I just want to see."
© BBC News

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Russian Ultranationalists Get Life Sentences for Slew of Hate Killings

Three members of the Militant Organization of Russian Nationalists (BORN), whose members committed a series of shocking high-profile hate murders in Russia during the last decade, were given lengthy prison terms by a Moscow region court Tuesday.

21/4/2015- The ultranationalist group murdered at least 10 people, including a federal judge, a human rights lawyer, a journalist, a migrant and three anti-fascist activists. They committed the crimes on the basis of their victims' ethnicity or public position. Now some of them claim that they have been framed by high-ranking Kremlin officials. "I don't deny that I am a Russian nationalist. Nationalism, in my case, is love for people, defense of people and their interests, not hatred toward others. Radical nationalism is a response to excess and lack of order," Vyacheslav Isayev, one of the members of the BORN group sentenced Tuesday, said during his closing testimony at a court hearing in March, Novaya Gazeta newspaper reported.

Together with Maxim Baklagin and Alexei Korshunov, Isayev carried out the murder of federal judge Eduard Chuvashov in 2010 in revenge for the judge's rulings in a number of high-profile hate crime cases. Korshunov, a former FSB officer who shot Chuvashov in the stairwell of his apartment building, died in 2011 after a grenade he was carrying exploded. In 2010, Baklagin and Isayev killed a taxi driver, Soso Khachikyan, after hearing in the media that he had beaten up the manager of a phone store, causing her to miscarry a child. It later emerged that the LifeNews sensationalist television channel, which had reported the story, had made a mistake and no miscarriage had occurred. Both Baklagin and Isayev were sentenced to life imprisonment Tuesday.

Another member of the group, Mikhail Volkov, who stabbed to death anti-fascist activist Fyodor Filatov in 2008 and fatally shot suspected Islamist nationalist Rasul Khalilov in 2009, was sentenced to 25 years in prison. The fourth defendant in the trial, Yury Tikhomirov, was acquitted by the jury of being part of an extremist group and illegal possession of firearms, but will go back to jail, having been sentenced back in 2012 to 10 years in prison for murdering another anti-fascist activist, Ilya Dzhaparidze, in 2009. Other suspected members of the group are wanted by police.

Kremlin Connection?
In an earlier high-profile trial in 2011, two other members of BORN, Yevgenia Khasis and Nikita Tikhonov, were sentenced to 18 years and life imprisonment respecti-vely for killing prominent human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova, a journalist for the liberal-leaning Novaya Gazeta, in central Moscow in 2009.
Tikhonov and Khasis are now key witnesses in the case of Ilya Goryachev, who is accused of being the organization's main ideologist. Goryachev is currently in custody after being extradited from Serbia. His case was sent to court Friday, the Vedomosti business daily reported. According to Khasis, Goryachev was closely connected to the Kremlin administration and its deputy head at the time, Vladislav Surkov. In particular, Goryachev took orders from Leonid Simunin, an alleged member of the administration, Khasis has claimed.

Dmitry Peskov, President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, declined to comment on the story for The Moscow Times on Tuesday. Novaya Gazeta reported last year that the presidential administration had never employed an individual by the name of Leonid Simunin, citing an official comment. Goryachev's lawyer, Mark Feigin, said the defense is planning to call Surkov as a witness in the trial. Surkov is currently Putin's aide for relations with the breakaway Georgian republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. "When Khasis and Goryachev were questioned together, she claimed outright — and I have this on record — that Surkov, [another man named] Karpov and Simunin ordered the murders, and that Goryachev allegedly told her that in person," Feigin told The Moscow Times.

According to Khasis' testimony in court, Goryachev masterminded the murders in order to blackmail Surkov into giving him money to establish a nationalist organization in exchange for halting the spree of killings. "Whenever we needed money, an artificial problem was created by people like Goryachev and Simunin with the use of Tikhonov and other radical groups — people who are fanatically devoted to certain ideas. Then taxpayers' money was allocated to extinguish the 'flames of revolution' that without these people would never have flared up in the first place," Khasis said during a court hearing, according to the Mediazona news website. At the same time, according to Goryachev's lawyer Feigin, Khasis said during a questioning that it was Surkov who ordered the murders. Goryachev has repeatedly denied involve-ment in the murders and maintains that the criminal case against him was fabricated by the FSB after its attempts to recruit him as an agent failed. "There are two possibilities: Either Khasis is delusional, or she wants to trade her testimony to gain something within her own case," Feigin said.

Dangerous Flirtation
Speaking at his annual call-in show Thursday, Putin said that patriotism and xenophobia are two very different things that are "worlds apart." "I always say that nationa-lism is a very dangerous phenomenon that can have a destructive effect on the integrity of the Russian state, which has developed as a multinational and multiconfes-sional society," Putin said. Radical nationalism has been identified as one of the biggest threats to Russia's national security by experts and government officials. Several large-scale underground groups that demonstrate the power of the movement and its ideas have been crushed by law enforcement officers in the last decade. In 2006, members of another nationalist organization, Spas, bombed the sprawling Cherkizovsky market in eastern Moscow, killing 14 people. The main organizer, chemist Oleg Kostaryov, was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2008.

At the same time, some analysts have warned that the Kremlin is flirting dangerously with nationalists by allowing them to hold large-scale rallies in downtown Moscow and staging publicity stunts in which Putin has ridden with nationalist biker gang the Night Wolves, and that its attempts to co-opt the nationalists could unleash a force the authorities will then struggle to contain.
© The Moscow Times

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Lithuania: 3,000 Euro Fine Issued for a Hate-motivated Crime against an Openly Gay Man

21/4/2015- The Lithuanian courts have issued a verdict on the criminal case of Laurynas Baltrūnas. Ruslanas Kirilkinas, an openly gay performer, pressed charges against Mr. Baltrūnas, who launched a homophobic attack against the singer, pelting him with eggs during a performance. Although Mr. Baltrūnas has successfully evaded imprisonment for his offenses, the courts are requiring him to make financial reparations to the victim for the emotional damage and costly legal expenditures that Mr. Kirilkinas has suffered from as a result. Mr. Baltrūnas has been convicted of criminal offenses and was sentenced for publically harassing a man based on his sexual orientation, showing disrespect for others and his surroundings through vandalism and mockery, and disrupting the public peace and order. Although Mr. Baltrūnas’s crimes are punishable by six- and four-month prison sentences according to Part 2 of Article 170 and Part 1 of Article 284 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Lithuania, respectively, the courts are not requiring the offender to do so. Mr. Baltrūnas must pay 3,000 euros for the emotional damage he inflicted upon Mr. Kirilkinas and an additional 350 euros to cover the victim’s legal fees.

Implementing the project “Building LGL’s Capacity in Assisting Victims of Hate Crimes and Hate Motivated Incidents”, supported by the US State Department, Freedom House and ILGA-Europe, the national LGBT* rights organization LGL financially sponsored this strategically important case and has been monitoring the trial’s progression. LGL’s primary intention was to contribute to the formation of law practice whereby the motive of a hate crime is considered in investigating similar cases and prosecuting the guilty parties. We hope that the successful conclusion of this case will encourage members of the LGBT* community to have the courage to seek help and take advantage of existing legal resources to fight hatred, violence, and discrimination of all forms.
The singer Kirilkinas has reached fame through participating in various television singing contests and semi-finals for the Lithuanian Eurovision candidate.
© National LGBT Rights Association Lithuania

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France: Islamophobia soars to record heights

Anti-Muslims acts have hit a record high in the first trimester of 2015, according to the head of the French National Observatory against Islamophobia.

18/4/2015- Abdallah Zekri, head of the Observatory said in a statement that anti-Muslim acts rose by 500 percent, compared to the same period in 2011. " Never since the establishment of the Observatory in 2011 have Islamophobic acts known such an implosion of actions or threats, especially on social networks," Zekri said on Thursday. Zekri stated there were 222 anti-Muslims acts during the 1st quarter of 2015, (56 attacks and 166 threats) against a total of 37 acts in 2014 - " An increase of 500 percent," said Zekri. Zekri added that the number of anti-Muslims acts in January 2015 reached 178.

He explained that this "burst" was mainly due to the deadly attack on the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7, followed by a hostage situation in a kosher supermarket two days later, leaving a total 17 people dead. "However, those horrific and terrifying crimes cannot justify under any circumstances the steep rise of hatred or revenge against Muslims in France," stressed Zekri. "They (Muslims of France) are not responsible or guilty of committing these terrorist acts that devastated the country," he added. Zekri said the assaults targeted men and women, generally in public places and transportation, and in some instances pregnant women.

He also said that in certain cases, targeting mainly places of worship , grenades and firearms had been used. "This is simply racism and rejection of men and women who aspire to just be respected," said Zekri. "Does the motto of the Republic 'Liberty, Equality, Fraternity' make any sense? Unfortunately, the question (must be asked)," added Zekri. Zekri went on to accuse political leaders of remaining silent in the face of such an increase of anti-Muslim acts. "All this happens without any reaction from politicians, who, instead of denouncing, try to find excuses," he said. Zekri said that the political silence fed radicalization and pushed youths to leave to join extremist and terrorist groups. "Fundamentalism feeds fundamentalism and it is not surprising that young people, who feel excluded, marginalized and accused of all evils, are radicalized and leave to be killed for free, considering that they have no future in this country," Zekri concluded.
© World Bulletin

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UK: Witness appeal after woman racially abused and threatened on train

A woman was subjected to a barrage of racist abuse and was threatened with violence on board a train between Sheffield and Rotherham.

24/4/2015- British Transport Police are appealing for help to identify the man responsible following the incident at about 9.15pm on Saturday, April 18. Investigating officer PC Emma Willamson said the woman, who boarded the train at Sheffield, has been left scared for her safety following the ‘frightening hate crime’. She said: “She had simply taken her seat on the train and was then subjected to vile racist abuse from a man, who was accompanied by a woman, who took a table seat, three seats in front of her. “He continued to insult and goad her, at one stage making threats of violence. “When the victim left the train at Rotherham, at around 9.25pm, the man and the woman, who made no abusive comments herself, also left the train and got into a cab at the front entrance to the station.” The man is described as white, approximately 50 years old, around 6ft tall of a bulky build with short grey/silver hair. He was wearing grey shiny trousers and a grey long sleeved shirt. PC Williamson added: “Nobody should have to put up with racist abuse, and we work hard to eradicate hate crime from the rail network. “It will simply not be tolerated. “We need to speak to anyone who saw what happened. Please get in touch.” Anyone with information is asked to contact British Transport Police on 0800 40 50 40, or text 61016, quoting reference PSUB/B7 of April 24, 2105.
© The Star

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UK: Woman racially abused on train from Leeds to Accrington

A woman was racially abused as she travelled on a train.

18/4/2015- British Transport Police are appealing for witnesses after the victim was verbally attacked by a fellow passenger. he incident happened at around 9.40pm on a train from Leeds to Accrington on February 28. Investigating officer PC David Hewetson said: “The victim boarded the train at Leeds and fell asleep in her seat. She was woken by a man who took a photograph of himself with the victim. “He then showed her the picture and made a racist comment. The man then got up and joined two other men who laughed as he showed the photograph to them. All three men left the train at Accrington. “Nobody should have to put up with racist abuse, and we work hard to eradicate hate crime from the rail network. “We need to speak to anyone who saw what happened. Please get in touch.” Anyone with information is asked to contact British Transport Police on 0800 405040, or text 61016, quoting reference PSUB/B15 of 16/04/2015. Information can also be passed anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555111.
© The Lancashire Telegraph

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Headlines 17 April, 2015

Germany: Mosque set on fire

16/4/2015- A mosque in Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia region was set on fire on Tuesday taking the count of mosques attacked since 2012 to 81. Sultan Ahmet Mosque was targeted in an arson attack, specifically the prayer hall. “At first we thought the tea burnt. But then we noticed the smoke in the prayer room” said Veysel Arslan, who was present during the fire. CCTV footage showed that the arsonist entered the prayer hall, poured gasoline on the carpet and set it on fire. According to reports, the mosque only suffered material damage and nobody suffered any sort of injuries. The attacker is suspected to have entered through the rear side from the window. Insurance companies are at the scene assessing the extent of the damage. The Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs said that the prayer room and youth section had suffered damages. “We hope that the perpetrators of such a heinous act be brought as soon as possible before the law,” they said in a statement.

The extent of Islamophobic attacks and sentiment has increased in the past year following the rise of the militant groups ISIL and Boko Haram which have formed a self-proclaimed caliphate, which has been condemned by Muslim leaders worldwide. The organization, PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident), has been promoting anti-Islamic agenda through protests and online campaigning. The organization held a rally in December with 17,500 people. Protestors demanded stricter immigration rules in order to bar Muslims from coming to Germany. People gathered near the Dresden Opera House. The organizers celebrated their successful far right movement by singing Christmas carols. The movement has also gained sturdier resistance from the people, labeling them as “Neo-Nazi” and racist. Germany has become the second most popular destination for migrants and asylum seekers, after the United States. The right wing protesters want the government to clamp down on immigration rules and stop the influx of refugees and asylum seekers.
© Australian Muslim News

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Spain: Gays are biggest targets in hate crimes

Forty percent of the 1,285 hate crimes reported to police across Spain last year targeted gays and lesbians, the interior ministry said on Tuesday.

15/4/2015- There were a total of 513 hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation or sexual identity reported to police in 2014, a 13.5 percent increase over the previous year, the ministry said in a report. The vast majority of the victims, 72 percent, were women. Hate crimes motivated by race accounted for 37 percent of last year's tally, while those that targeted disabled people accounted for 15.5 percent. The total number of hate crimes reported last year was 9.6 percent higher than the figure for 2013, the first year Spain collected figures. The interior ministry said the rise was due to more complete record-keeping and the fact that more people feel comfortable coming forward, the ministry said.

Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz said last year's figures did not include complaints made to the regional police force in the northern Basque Country for "technical reasons". The publication of national hate crime figures last year for the first time helped throw the spotlight on the problem, leading more people to feel comfortable to file complaints, he added. A quarter of the victims of the hate crimes reported last year were under the age of 18. In most cases the culprits were identified. "Impunity for hate crimes does not exist," the interior minister said.
© The Local - Spain

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UK: London: Racist and religious hate crime up 26%

The Metropolitan Police service arrested almost 2,000 suspected gang members across London last year while racist and religious hate crime rocketed by nearly 26%.
16/4/2015- Figures released by the force show that more than 1,910 gang members were arrested during the 2014/15 financial year with judges meting out jail senten-ces of more than 1,418 years for gang-related crime. Met detectives have targeted organised crime across the capital and between April 1, 2014 and March 31, 2015, a further 1,393 gang members were made subject to judicial restrictions including injunctions, ASBOs, electronic tagging or managed under licence. There are currently 1,023 gang members in custody. While the force has clamped down on gangs, overall crime in London increased. Racist and religious hate crime has increased by 25.7%, although the Met believes new crime recording and a growing willingness of victims to report hate crime is behind the hike.

Earlier this year the Community Security Trust said Jews across the UK suffered the most anti-Semitic abuse ever recorded in 2014 as violence in Israel and Gaza escalated. The largest spike was in London, where the number of incidents rose by 137% to 583. Some of the incidents reported to the Community Security Trust included:
An act of "extreme violence" where a victim was called a "Jewish c***" and then hit with a glass and a baseball bat in London.
In London, two men entered a Kosher restaurant, made a Nazi salute and shouted: "Heil, Adolf Hitler" before grabbing a diner in a bear hug.

Rise in crime across capital
The end of year results show there were 6,560 (+0.9%) more offences during the 12 months to March 31, 2015, compared to the previous year.
Cases of violence with injury were up by 18.9% (11,096 offences) - a third of which was made up of domestic abuse cases.
The total number of all sexual offences increased by 29% over the comparison period, with recorded rape offences up by 20% (857 offences) and other serious sexual offences up by 36% (1,885 offences).

It is thought the high profile Jimmy Savile scandal and subsequent Operation Yewtree was a major factor in increased confidence of victims to come forward. MPS deputy assistant commissioner for territorial policing, Mark Simmons, said: "We are moving in the right direction on some of the key neighbourhood crime categories with some very good reductions, as well as seeing some equally encouraging results in homicide and knife crime. "However we are not complacent and acknowledge there is still much hard work to do. We will continue to keep up our intensified focus on areas such as violence with injury where we have seen a rise in recorded offences. "I hope that Londoners will gain confidence from the improvements we have achieved and I'd like to assure them of our continuing commitment to making the capital an even safer place to live, work in, and visit."

London crime 2014/15
Overall crime - total notifiable offences or TNOs (excludes fraud) - increased by 0.9% - 6,560 offences
Robberies are down by 22.5% - 6,347 fewer offences
Theft from a person no threat or violence has been used) down by 26.4% - 11,250 fewer offences
Burglaries down 13.6% - 11,635 fewer offences
Violence with injury has gone up by 18.9% - 11,096 offences
Knife crime reduced by 3.9% - almost 400 fewer offences
Gun crime increased by 1.7% - 28 more offences
Homicides decreased by 11 fewer
Sexual offences increased by 29% - rape offences up by 20% (857 offences) and other serious sexual offences up by 36% (1,885 offences)
Domestic abuse offences rose by 20.4%
Racist and religious hate crime has increased by 25.7%
© The International Business Times - UK

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UK: Severed pigs heads dumped at community centre

Graphic image circulated online after shocking incident at Solihull community hub

14/4/2015- Images of severed pigs head dumped outside a Solihull community centre have been circulating online. Protesters claim the venue may be being used as an ‘unauthorised’ mosque. Police are investigating the shocking incident at Solihull Community Hub in Hermitage Road, which they are treating as a hate crime. A carrier bag believed to have been used to carry the meat is being examined by forensic experts. The incident on Sunday night was captured on CCTV footage which shows a man putting a package on the centre’s doorstep before driving away, according to West Midlands Police. A spokesman for West Midlands Police said: “We are aware of the picture circulating online since yesterday. “We believe it is genuine but our officers have got the CCTV so we have more than enough information to investigate.”

1,000 people signed an on-line petition calling for The Hub to be closed following allegations it is being used, without permission, as a mosque. An investigation is underway into how the building is being used. Chief Superintendent Alex Murray, from Solihull police station, has called on those behind Sunday’s crime to come forward. “I would urge those responsible to come forward and put their side of the story to us before we come and knock on their door.”
• Anyone with information should call officers on 101. Details can also be passed anonymously via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
© The Coventry Telegraph

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UK: Glasgow Sikh Gurdwara remains defiant after targeted with graffiti

The Central Gurdwara in the west end was vandalised last week and the Sikh community says they will continue to champion an equal and just Scotland for all.

13/4/2015- Glasgow's new £15 million Central Gurdwara has been vandalised by fascist thugs who thought it was a mosque. The Sikh building, with its gold dome rising over the west end across from the Gaelic School, had the words "F**k Islam. No SHARIAH!" and a Nazi swastika scrawled on the side, reported community leaders. The vandalism was reported to police and the damage cleared, and the Sikh community said they remained committed to creating an equal and just Scotland for all. In a statement, Surjit Singh Chowdhary, vice-president of Central Gurdwara Singh Sabha, said: "The Sikh community completely abhors the hateful ideology of Islamopho-bia. We are in complete shock that such disgraceful words were put on the walls of this great Gurdwara.

"The Sikh community's gift to Glasgow has been commandeered as a platform for the hateful messages which do not belong in our country. We hope that Glasgow stands shoulder to shoulder with us and we extend an open welcome to everyone to learn about Sikhs and our Gurdwara. The only way to challenge hate is through education to promote understanding of Scotland's diverse communities.” Charandeep Singh, general secretary of Glasgow Gurdwara on the south side, added: “These words represent ignorance at its worst. Unfortunately in this climate of rampant Islamophobia, members of the Sikh community have fallen victim too. "Instances ran-ging from jeers of 'Taliban' or 'Bin Laden' directed at turban-wearing Sikh men, to the firebombing of a Gurdwara in Kent after the 7/7 London terrorist attacks have beset the Sikh community.

"This episode is a sad reminder that Sikhs, Muslims, Jews and other minorities face public ridicule and criminal attacks which go against the values of our society. The perpetrators here are totally ignorant to the values of the Sikh community and the contribution made by Sikhs over nearly 100 years. "This sad incident should energise our political leaders and fellow citizens to continue the campaign to root out such hateful beliefs. We will continue our dialogue with the police, local & national politicians to create an inclusive society and celebrate the contributions made by Scottish Sikhs to our country.”
© The Daily Record

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Northern Ireland: Polish man's house attacked in Tiger's Bay

A window of a Polish man's house in north Belfast has been smashed in what police say is a suspected hate crime.

11/4/2015- It follows two similar incidents in recent days on the same street, Mountcollyer Avenue in Tiger's Bay. A man who lives in the house said: "I noticed my window was broken so I went outside and saw two guys walking towards North Queen Street. "They were quite relaxed and without any embarrassment - they were wearing hoodies so I couldn't see their faces." Police have said "initial investigations indicate that the crime is hate motivated". "Hate crime is unacceptable and I appeal to anyone with any information relating to this particular hate crime, please contact York Road police on the non-emergency number 101," a police spokesman added. On Monday night, a group of men attacked two houses and threatened residents at the street in what police described as a racially motivated hate crime. Windows in two of the houses were smashed with bricks and one man was reported to have been carrying a pick axe.
© BBC News

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Headlines 10 April, 2015

Hungary Vandals Damage Holocaust Exhibit

Source: JTA
8/4/2015- Vandals in Budapest defaced an exhibition about Holocaust survivors and, in a separate incident, painted a swastika opposite a synagogue. The incident involving the exhibition was reported on Sunday by the Hungarian Jewish community’s watchdog on anti-Semitism, the Action and Protection Foundation, or TEV. According to the report on TEV’s Facebook page, unknown individuals on Saturday splashed red paint on 14 portraits showing Holocaust survivors with the youngest members of their families. The Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation, or EMIH, set up the exhibition, comprising 24 portraits, near the Madach Theater in central Budapest to celebrate Hungarian Jewry’s continuity after the genocide that nearly wiped out the community.

Separately, TEV also reported that shortly before April 3, unknown individuals painted a swastika in front of a synagogue on Wesselenyi Street, located 5 miles northeast of Madach Theater. The Nazi symbol was removed shortly after its discovery, TEV wrote. Both reports followed the April 1 release of TEV’s second annual monitor of anti-Semitic attitudes in Hungary, which showed a decrease in the prevalence of such beliefs. In the survey, conducted late last year by the Median polling company, 31 percent of 1,200 respondents displayed what TEV defined as anti-Semitic views, compared to 38 percent in a similar survey conducted last year. The survey has a 3-percent standard error.
© The Forward

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Graves vandalized in Polish town where Nazis tortured Jews

Dozens of headstones destroyed in Olkusz, scene of ‘Bloody Wednesday’ murder and beatings in 1940.

7/4/2015- Unknown individuals painted pentagrams and wrote a former Pope’s name on several Jewish tombstones they desecrated in southern Poland. The desecration occurred recently at the Jewish cemetery of Olkusz, a town located 25 miles northwest of Krakow, according to a report released Monday on the Facebook page of the Monitoring Centre for Racist and Xenophobic Behavior, a Polish nongovernmental watchdog. The group presented three photos of desecrated headstones on its Facebook page. One of the images showed a pentagram — a five-pointed star which is a Christian symbol sometimes associated with Satanism — painted on the a gravestone. Smashed headstones can be seen in the background.

In its report on the incident, the Coordination Forum for Countering anti-Semitism said dozens of headstones were destroyed in Olkusz. Another headstone had the name Jan Pawel — the Polish name of Pope John Paul II — spray painted on it. The Jews of Olkusz were deported to Auschwitz in 1942, and most perished there, according to the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. Two years earlier, German troops gathered all the men in the town square and murdered one of them after humiliating and beating the rest. The July 31 incident in 1940 was known locally as “Bloody Wednesday.”

The troops posed to have their pictures taken with local Jewish men including Rabbi Moshe Yitzchak Hagerman, who is seen standing barefoot while donning a prayer shawl upon which the soldiers had urinated. In the photograph, he is seen standing over at least six Jews who were forced to lie on the pavement at the feet of the smiling German troops. Hagerman was murdered in 1942 in Majdanek.
© JTA News

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Arrest made in attack on Bosnian Jewish leader

A man was arrested in connection with the attack on Bosnian Jewish leader Eli Tauber.

6/4/2015- Tauber, an adviser on culture and religious affairs for the Jewish Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina, was attacked by a man wielding a weighted chain at a cafe in central Sarajevo. Many witnessed the attack. The attack, which was widely reported in the Bosnian media, occurred on March 21 while journalists from National Geographic magazine were interviewing Tauber about the status of Jews in Bosnia and Herzegovina. No motive has been determined, but the attack has received high-profile coverage by the local media. Some fear that Tauber, who recently established a foundation to promote Jewish culture in Bosnia and Herzegovina. was attacked because he is a prominent member of the Jewish community.

“If he was attacked because he is Jewish and because as such he is present in our media, just because he is doing his job, then it would be a very bad sign both for Sarajevo and for Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Jakob Finci, president of the Jewish Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina, told dalje.com. Finci said it was the first such attack on a Jewish person in Sarajevo in 70 years. Tauber said the attacker, identified as Ahmet Focak, intended to kill him. Focak was arrested two days after the attack. Tauber is an advocate for bringing to light the suffering of Sarajevans during the Bosnia and Herzegovina war from 1992 to 1995.
© JTA News

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UK Election 2015: 'From verbal abuse to being spat on, we need to report LGBT hate crime'

8/4/2015- One in six lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have experienced a hate crime in the last three years; one in ten of those victims experienced a physical assault; and perhaps just as worryingly, two-thirds of victims didn't report their assault. In spite of significant improvements to legal protections, LGBT people are still subject to violence and intimidation – something campaigners are pushing politicians to address in the weeks before the general election. As the campaign trail continues, IBTimes UK spoke to Sam Dick, director of campaigns at Stonewall, about what the parties need to do to address hate crime. "The biggest reason why people don't report everything -- from verbal abuse to being spat on in the street -- is because they don't think it is serious enough to report," Dick says. "They don't think it is serious enough to report because it is so commonplace to them – it is just too bothersome to report every time someone calls you a faggot or a dyke.

"While we have seen progresses and development from the Home Office and the police, so that when incidences are reported they are recorded, nothing really has been done to try to communicate to LGBT people why they need to report hate crimes," he says. Stonewall released an equality manifesto after the dissolution of Parliament at the end of last month, in which the charity calls for homophobic, biphobic and transphobic hate crime to be added to the list of "aggravated" offences – alongside hate crime based on race or religion. To really tackle the problem, Dick says, the next government needs to spearhead a campaign to encourage LGBT people to report all incidences of hate time – belying the notion that some incidents are not serious enough to be abolished.

"For LGBT people – including myself – I think people are still under the assumption that you can walk down the street holding hands with your partner and all is fine – it is not," Dick says. "It is really important that people are encouraged to report any abuse and that the process is made as simple as possible. "Someone might not be arrested, but that intelligence is captured and used to prevent far more serious incidences taking place." There have been significant steps forward in LGBT rights in Britain in the last few years, such as the legalisation of same-sex marriage. Yet in 2014, some of the UK's largest police forces recorded a rise in the number of violent homophobic crimes this year. Scotland Yard recorded 1,073 violent homophobic offences between January and October. While charities said it was encouraging that more victims were reporting their experiences, many still feel silenced by their abuse.

"We are in 2015. It cannot be too complex for police forces to develop a campaign that encourages victims to report their crimes and makes it easy to do so," Dick says. "Why in this age do we not have a simple system where people can report abuse in their community?" According to the hate crime charity Galop, the police record over 4,000 homophobic crimes -- but this figure is dwarfed by the 39,000 homophobic crimes that take place each year according to government estimates. The extent of abuse is such that it has become normal for LGBT people to adapt their lives to hide their sexuality. "In 2013, research by Stonewall found a quarter of lesbian, gay and bisexual people felt they needed to alter their behaviour so they were not perceived as gay. This meant everything from dressing or acting differently to avoiding public transport at certain times," Dick says. "The wider population don't realise this is the day-to-day experience of LGBT people and many have come to accept that this is just the way it is. There should be no reason why a person cannot hold the hand of their same-sex partner in 2015."
© The International Business Times - UK

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Northern Ireland: Belfast racist hate crime figures up 43%

Police in Belfast have recorded a 43% increase in racist hate crimes in the space of eight months.

8/4/2015- The PSNI's Operation Reiner was set up last May to tackle the growing problem of hate crime in Northern Ireland. In the period to the end of January 2015, 383 racially motivated offences were recorded across the city; in the same period the previous year, 268 offences were recorded. A third of offences recorded last year in the city were in east Belfast. In the east of the city, racially motivated offences rose from 74 between 1 May 2013 and 30 January 2014 to 128 in the same eight months in the following year, a 73% increase
In west Belfast, recorded offences rose from 17 to 29, a 70% increase
North Belfast saw an increase from 72 to 101, a 40% rise
In south Belfast, recorded offences rose from 105 to 125, a 19% increase
The figures come as police in north Belfast continue to investigate what they described as a racially motivated hate crime.

'Collective responsibility'
A group of men attacked two houses and threatened residents at Mountcollyer Avenue in the Tiger's Bay area on Monday. A Polish woman living in one of the houses said she did not feel safe there. ACC Chris Noble said racist hate crimes account for a small percentage of overall crime, but officers recognised there is a "significant im-pact on the victim which can also have implications for the wider community". "A hate crime affects not only the victim but every member of the group that the vic-tim represents," he said. He said police were working with a range of groups to enhance victim support and encourage greater levels of reporting, "but policing can only be as successful as the information and support we receive from the wider community". "There is a collective responsibility on everyone in Northern Ireland to make sure that people who choose to come to live and work here from different countries and cultures, who add value to Northern Irish society and economy, feel reassured and protected," he said. "We need communities to give us information about who might be involved in racist hate crime to ensure that we investigate these crimes as thoroughly as possible."
© BBC News

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A woman was slashed in the face by another woman in Londonderry on Sunday night during an attack which police are treating as a hate crime.

6/4/2015- The victim, who is aged in her 20s, was walking through the subway tunnel in Duke Street, beside the railway station, when she was approached by two men and two women, also aged in their 20s, at about 10.30pm. One of the men in the group asked her for a cigarette and when she declined, he punched her in the face and began shouting sectarian abuse at her. A police spokesperson said: "A female from the group walked up to the woman and sliced her face with some type of weapon. The group then made off.” The victim was treated in hospital for a large cut and bruising to her face. The female attacker is described as being aged about 20-years-old, with long blonde curly hair. She was wearing a yellow top , denim leggings and fluorescent coloured footwear. Police are appealing to anyone who witnessed the assault, or with any information, to contact officers in Strand Road Police Station on the non-emergency number 101. Alternatively, information can also be passed anonymously via the Independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
© UTV News

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Germany: Arson suspected in refugee shelter blaze

A fire broke out early Saturday morning in a building that was to house asylum-seekers in the town of Tröglitz in Sachsen-Anhalt. Investigators strongly suspect arson. The fire follows weeks of protests against the shelter by the far-right NPD party.

4/4/2015- According to officials, one or more people broke into the shelter, which was to house 40 asylum-seekers starting in May, and set the fire at around 2 a.m., probably with lighter fluid or another fire accelerant. Prosecutors are categorizing the incident as “serious arson” and at a press conference in Halle, prosecutor Jörg Wilkmann said that a polit-ical motivation behind the act could not be ruled out. The fire destroyed the roof of the building. Two people who were in the building at the time, a 50-year-old woman and 52-year-old man, were able to escape unharmed after being warned by a neighbour that the building was ablaze. “At the moment, everything in this case points to deliberate arson,” Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière told the dpa news agency. “If that is confirmed, it is a heinous act that must be clarified immediately. The culprits belong behind bars.”

Federal Justice Minister Heiko Maas appeared stunned by the incident and on Twitter said “We must again make it clear: refugees are welcome in our country!” But not all in Tröglitz, in the eastern state of Sachsen-Anhalt, share his view. The town hit the headlines when the town’s former mayor, Markus Nierth, 46, stepped down in March in the wake of threats from members of the far-right NPD, who had vociferously opposed his support of the shelter and promised to hold a demonstration in front of his home. Nierth said he felt no choice but to step down in light of the far-right danger since he did not feel enough support from officials. His resignation set off a debate over how to protect politicians from demonstrators, especially when threats are made against their families. On Saturday, Nierth wrote on his Facebook page “I am stunned, sad and furious at the same time. Tröglitz will never recover from this.”

Nierth told dpa said he will offer asylum-seekers a place to live in two apartments he has and that he hopes other Tröglitz residents will also offer accommodation if they can. "We can’t let the Nazis win in our town,” he said.
© The Local - Germany

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Headlines 3 April, 2015

Canada: Woman says she was attacked on Montreal subway for wearing a hijab

3/4/2015- Hanane Mehdi was taking the subway to work in downtown Montreal on Tuesday, as she does every day, when she says she was the victim of a racist attack. According to Mehdi, in the middle of rush hour another woman came up to her and began to berate and push her, saying "You veiled women should return to your country." In an interview with QMI's sister television station TVA, Mehdi said she tried not to react, but the attack resumed when the train arrived at another station. "Suddenly, I see the lady who attacked me," said Mehdi. "She started hitting me in the face, which got all red. I felt her hitting me from behind until people got involved." When Mehdi got home, her 9-year-old daughter Marwa became upset at the sight of her mom's bruised head. "I was so scared I was sick," said Marwa. "I didn't know it could happen to my mother and I almost cried because I love my mom and I don't want that to happen to her." Mehdi has filed a complaint with police, but hasn't returned to work since the attack. An investigation is under way as police review surveil-lance camera footage.
© The Toronto Sun

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UK: Troll who abused disability campaigner reported to police

3/4/2015- A Facebook troll who targeted a disability rights campaigner has been reported to Police Scotland for alleged hate crimes. Tony Bain taunted Rachael Monk with a string of vile comments including saying: “Two Mongs don’t make a right.” But the abusive messages backfired after 32-year-old Rachael, from Dumfries and Galloway, struck back. She told Bain, from Glasgow: “I’m the lady in the video…your comments have actually made me laugh, they’re nothing new or original. “Did you know hate crime is a criminal offence? Good luck when the police come knocking! “Ignorance is a bigger disability.” Rachael, from Annan, has cerebral palsy and can only speak through a computer. She appeared in a video made by the “Now Hear Me” campaign, which promotes understanding for those suffering from speech impairment or loss as a result of disability.

In a series of Facebook messages, posted on an NHS page, Bain also commented: “Warning you will need an umbrella before watching this video.” The comments sparked outrage from campaign supporters, who called Bain “worse than disgusting” and a “trolling little scumbag”. Another asked Bain: “Have you actually looked in the mirror?” Bain, who re-vealed he was previously employed by Argos, was also asked: “Which Argos do you work at Tony? I’d love to pay you a visit.” Someone else wrote: “Send me your address private-ly then Tony Bain and we’ll see who likes hiding behind a keyboard. I’ll knock all them filthy yellow teeth out with a single bat.” Bain was also told: “You’re worse than disgusting, I’m not sure there is a word for people like you yet but there should be and it should come with a jail sentence. You are a disgrace to your family.”

A spokesman for NHS Education for Scotland said, “As soon as we became aware of wholly inappropriate posts on our Facebook page, we took action to block the individual. We have also reported the matter to the police.” A spokesman for the Now Hear Me campaign also confirmed that they had reported the incident to Police Scotland. Police Scotland was unable yesterday (Fri) to find a record of the NHS complaint. But the force added they “would assess and investigate as appropriate any complaint made to us concerning comments which could be considered criminal”. In the campaign video, Rachael says, “I am a bright person and intelligent, and I want my thoughts and feelings to be heard and not wasted. Everyone has the right to communicate.”

Rachael, speaking through her carer today said: “Although I was hurt by the comments made I wanted to respond in a positive way.” “My family and friends were extremely offended and deeply upset that someone could be so cruel about me and others with different abilities.” “It is because of people like him that makes it all the more important to raise awareness and educate.” She added: “I think Tony Bain should receive a warning, if only to make him think about his actions.” “I feel that the police should definitely be involved in such matters. It is important that everyone knows such behaviour will not be tolerated.” Argos confirmed that “Bain left the business last year”. Bain could not be contacted for comment.
© Deadline News

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Ireland: A rural town has a racism problem, but is fighting it

29/3/2015- An integral service in Donegal says that racist attacks in the town of Letterkenny is on the rise. The warning from Donegal Intercultural Platform (DIP) comes after an African taxi driver was beaten and robbed in the town. Paul Kernan, co-chair of the DIP, said that in recent months, there has been a rise in attacks that car-ried a “racist element” in recent months. His co-chair Billy Blanda told the Donegal Democrat’s Declan Magee that a gun may have been produced in one of the robbe-ries. Kernan says that the abuse ranges from physical to verbal, but has affected how some people behave. “There are groups of people who are on nights out who will only travel in groups. They’ve stopped going out alone. There is racist abuse verbally and physically. Taxi drivers are particularly vulnerable and the African drivers more so. “Cars have been damaged and money robbed. Obviously, these could be opportunist robberies but they have focused on African drivers.”

Kernan is keen to point out that rural Ireland is no more or less racist than urban Ireland, but he says that the issue must be faced. “We had an asylum hostel in the town that was closed a while ago. There was a person who went to Dublin, got their papers and wanted to come straight back. In small towns, there is that sense of commu-nity. Big cities are that bit more anonymous. “The extreme is that in a small town there is a mixture of people, so a lot of people are very visible. “Some people are quite isolated, they are afraid to say anything when there is an incident. But that silence encourages silence. “Rural counties are warm welcoming places and people deny there is a human bias. But we have to acknowledge it is there and face up to racism.”

Kernan says that groups such as his own are fighting to be included in council planning and DIP is to run a drop in centre for those affected by racism in Donegal. “Donegal has seen a big population shift. African communities are generally more visible and people are a bit suspicious of them and how they’re going to change people’s homes. That’s natural, so what we need is integration at a personal level. You need face to face conversation to change peoples’ minds.”
© The Journal Ireland

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