ICARE Hate Crime News - Archive August 2015

Headlines 28 August, 2015

Headlines 21 August, 2015

Headlines 14 August, 2015

Headlines 7 August, 2015

Headlines 28 August, 2015

Germany: Arsonists hurl Molotov cocktails into asylum-seekers' apartment

Unknown assailant threw a Molotov cocktail through the window of the family's apartment at 2am

28/8/2015- A family of asylum-seekers had to be rescued by firefighters in Germany after the apartment where they were staying was deliberately set on fire. An unknown assailant threw a Molotov cocktail through the window of the apartment at around 2am on Friday morning. A 34-year-old migrant from Zimbabwe and her three children aged four, ten and eleven were inside. Firemen had to use breathing apparatus to get to the trapped family, who have not been named under German privacy laws. It is believed they only escaped serious injury because they were sleeping in another room at the time of the attack. The incident in the town of Salzhemmendorf in Lower Saxony is the most serious yet in a growing campaign of violence against migrants in Germany.

Some 20 government refugee shelters have been torched this year in a series of arson attacks, but they were all empty at the time. In an earlier incident, newspapers were set alight at the door to an apartment where migrants were staying. But this is believed to be the first serious arson attempt on a building occupied by migrants. Stephan Weil, the state prime minister of Lower Saxony, described it as “attempted murder”. It was “the most serious incident we have experienced in Lower Saxony in recent months and years”, Mr Weil said. Clemens Pommerening, the town’s mayor, said he was “completely stunned”. “No one could have imagined something like this happening here,” he said. Police suspect far-Right extremists were behind the incident.

Uwe Lührig, the local police chief, said it was an “absolute priority” to find the perpetrators. The incident comes as criminal proceedings were launched against a far-Right protestor who shouted abuse at Angela Merkel earlier this week. The woman, who has not yet been indentified, called Mrs Merkel a “traitor to the people” and "stupid bitch". She was filmed heckling the Chancellor as she visited a migrant shelter where 30 police officers had been injured in clashes with far-Right protestors. Police in the state of Saxony said they were investigating the woman for the offence of defaming a constutional office. If found guilty, she could face up to five years in prison.
The Telegraph

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German police suspect arson attack on refugee center

25/8/2015- A gym intended as an emergency shelter for refugees burned to the ground outside Berlin early Tuesday, police said. Brandenburg state police said the fire in Nauen — about 9 miles west of Germany's capital — was probably deliberately started. There were no reports of injuries. The sports facility was due to house about 100 refugees from early next month. Police said a technical fault was unlikely to be the cause of the fire, but have not identified any suspects. Germany is the European Union's largest recipient of asylum applications and the country has seen a surge in economic and political refugee arrivals this year.  By the end of 2015, German officials predict that as many as 800,000 people could arrive in the country. That's more than double original forecasts and four times as many as last year. Thomas de Maizière, Germany's interior minister, described this as "the largest influx in the country’s post-war history."

Protesters linked to far-right and extremist groups have repeatedly demonstrated against the arrival of asylum-seekers in Nauen. Heidenau, a town in east Germany near Dresden, has also in recent days seen violent protests take place outside a shelter for asylum seekers. On Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned that violence during which rocks and fireworks were hurled at police officers, saying the actions taken by far-right groups and their supporters were "shameful." "I condemn in the strongest possible terms the violent outbursts," Merkel said. "There was an aggressive mood against foreigners there that isn't acceptable in any way." She also criticized Heidenau residents who apparently stood by as extremists attacked police who were trying to ensure refugees arrived at the shelter safely. "It's repulsive how far-right extremists and neo-Nazis are spreading their hollow message, but it's equally shameful how citizens — even families with children — support this by marching along," she said.

Arson has also not been ruled out after an empty building that was due to be converted to a shelter for refugees was destroyed by fire Monday in Weissach, a town in southwestern Germany. Many of the people coming to Germany are fleeing poverty, violence and war in Africa and the Middle East, but sizable numbers — around half, according to some estimates — are also arriving from Balkan countries such as Albania and Serbia. Nationals arriving from countries in the former Yugoslavia are almost always immediately deported because Germany considers these nations to be "safe" countries of origin because its citizens are not fleeing conflict or political persecution. Activists dispute that label. Merkel and French President Francois Hollande are pushing for an EU-wide policy on the right to asylum.
USA Today

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Germany: Neo-Nazis urinate on children in Berlin train

Two neo-Nazis racially abused a woman and her two children on a Berlin city train this weekend before urinating on them, police said on Monday.

24/8/2015- The woman and her two children – aged around five and 15 – were travelling on the city's ring line at around 9:45pm on Saturday when two men embarked at Landsberger Allee, reports the Berliner Zeitung. The men, aged 32 and 37, quickly began hurling racist insults at the family, who appeared to be of southeast European origin. According to multiple witnesses, the men roared "Heil Hitler" and other Nazi slogans at the family, raising their right arms in Nazi salutes. Referring to the woman and children as a "pack of asylum seekers," the men reportedly told them "we're the master race," adding "you're not Aryan." 32-year-old Christoph Sch. then exposed himself to the children before urinating on them. Horrified witnesses called the police, and officers arrested the two men at the Frankfurter Allee station. The woman and children remained on the train.

Upon being breathalyzed, the men were found to have blood alcohol levels 2.3 and 1.8, roughly equivalent to eight and six bottles of beer, respectively. Police have initiated proceedings against the pair for racist abuse and bodily harm. On Monday, the State Office of Criminal Investigations were still deciding whether or not to investigate the matter further. The two neo-Nazis – both from Berlin's Neukölln district – are already known by police to be violent right-wing criminals, reports Berliner Zeitung. They are already on police records for robbery, theft, serious bodily harm, coercion and identifying themselves as part of anti-constitutional organisations. Police investigators have appealed for the family to come forward, encouraging them to call 030/297779-0 or get in touch with any other police station.
The Local - Germany

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Austrian found guilty of Nazi Facebook post

A 28-year-old Austrian man who called for Jews to be gassed in a Facebook post was sentenced to eight months in prison on Tuesday by Wels Provincial Court.

26/8/2015- The defendant, who was found guilty of incitement, posted a message on Facebook last September referring to the conflict in Gaza that read: “Show no photos of our dead brothers, children, women. Show only photos of their women and children...”. He is also said to have written: “Death to the Jews, I would gas them”, “Hitler showed the world that he was right, Sieg Heil!”. A second defendant, a 26-year-old man who commented on the post with the words “Sieg Heil! Adolf Hitler”, was acquitted by the court. Both men were born in Turkey but have Austrian citizenship and live in the city of Wels. They both held previous convictions for unrelated offences and neither is thought to have connections to right wing scenes. The message was posted on Facebook while the 28-year-old was living in a drug treatment clinic in Carinthia last year. Both men confessed to the postings during the investigation and the 26-year-old told the court that his comment had been “stupid” and added: “I'm sorry. I did not really mean it.”

Although the 28-year-old initially told police he had posted the “fun” statement, in court he claimed it had been written by his roommate, whom he said was a schizophrenic patient whose family followed Nazi ideology. In his closing remarks, however, the defendant said: “I would like to apologise. It doesn't matter who wrote it, I am simply sorry.” His lawyer stressed that his client suffered from “massive cognitive deficiencies” and the post was made as a result of “rashness”. The prosecutor, however, showed the court another Facebook post from the 28-year-old, which was not subject to the proceedings, that read: “The day will come when only the Aryans will be among each other. Blue eyes, blond hair, our leader is wonderful.” The sentence follows the conviction earlier in August of a 38-year-old father from Styria for making donations to a neo-Nazi website and writing posts that denied the holocaust happened and incited hate against Muslims.

The Styrian had registered on the website, which hosted different forums as well as selling Nazi memorabilia, with the name 'NS friend' and was active on the site between April 2009 and June 2012. Prosecutor Johannes Winklhofer told the accused that he had previously lied in court, in 2011. He said: “You said that you would have nothing more to do with this scene but it was not true, you made contributions to this website and were also registered on it.”
The Local - Austria

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Swedish Tolerance Under Question as Attacks on Migrants Rise

A series of attacks in Sweden on beggars, many Roma, has highlighted a dark side to a country considered a bastion of tolerance but where the far right has been gaining support by claiming society is under threat from waves of immigrants.

24/8/2015- An influx of thousands of mainly Roma migrants has shocked affluent Swedes, with beggars now a common sight outside supermarkets, IKEA stores and subways in the capital. Since most come from Romania and Bulgaria, they are free to travel to Sweden as EU citizens, but their presence has fuelled claims by the Sweden Democrats the country is a soft-touch for migrants and is being swamped. “The first attack was in November or December last year. That was gunshots,” Vasile, a 38-year-old from Romania, who makes a living doing black market jobs in areas like construction around Stockholm, said.

Vasile, who lives in his car with his wife, said he had been attacked several times. “My wife is very, very scared,” he said. Sweden takes in more asylum seekers per capita than any other nation in Europe. Around 81,000 sought asylum here in 2014 – second only to Germany. But while asylum seekers mainly come from countries like Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea and get government benefits, many Roma migrants try to earn a living and save money to take home by begging or collecting bottles. They often stay for a short period and sometimes return to Sweden after visits to their home countries. The government reckons around 5,000 migrants, some of whom also come from Hungary, are in Sweden begging. Many live on the street or in squalid camps. In recent months, attackers have thrown acid at beggars and burned tents and caravans.

“Nothing to Lose”
In woodland 15 minutes walk from Hogdalen subway station on the outskirts of Stockholm, around 70 Roma migrants have set up tents and rudimentary shacks of sheets of plastic, corrugated metal and other scrap. There is no electricity. They only have bonfires to cook on and buckets for washing. “You have nothing to lose,” said Marius Gaspar, at charity Stockholms Stadsmission, which organises housing for migrants in the capital city. “It is better to be here as a homeless person than to go back home.” Average wages in Sweden are around 2,800 euros ($3,160) a month, according to Eurostat. In Romania, where they also face discrimination, the figure is less than a quarter of that. Europe’s 6 million Roma are the region’s biggest ethnic minority. They have been persecuted for most of their history.

Many migrants in Sweden say they want to work, but lack of education and language skills make it impossible for most, leaving begging as the only alternative. In August, the Sweden Democrats started a subway advertising campaign in the heart of Stockholm, apologising to tourists for the “mess” created by beggars. “Our government won’t do what’s needed. But we will and we’re growing at record speed,” the banner advert read. Protesters later stormed the metro station, tearing down the posters they said were xenophobic. “They want chaos, they want Sweden to be polarized, to sort people into us and them,” said Sven Hovmoller, the vice-chairman of HEM, a voluntary organisation that supports migrants.

Resilient to Harassment
There were around 300 reported attacks on Roma in 2014, up 23 percent on the year before, according to the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention. Police say the figures underestimate the scale of the problem. Further underlining the tension in Sweden over immigration, police stepped up security measures around asylum seeker hostels in August after a knife attack in an IKEA store that left two dead. The suspect is an asylum seeker. The Sweden Democrats reject claims they are pouring fuel on the fire. Spokesman Henrik Vinge said the advertising campaign only said there are criminal gangs that exploit beggars. “We have not in any context or any way tried to vilify anyone,” Vinge said. The party, which wants to cut the number of asylum seekers by 90 percent, more than doubled its vote at last year’s election to around 13 percent. One opinion poll in August showed the party is now Sweden’s most popular, backed by 25 percent of voters.

Martin Valfridsson, Sweden’s national coordinator for vulnerable migrants, said the country, which spent around 1.4 percent of its budget on asylum policies last year, remained tolerant but that many Swedes were frustrated by seeing beggars. The government is looking at making it easier to evict people from illegal settlements and tightening rules on human trafficking. It has also stepped up contacts with Romania, Bulgaria and the EU to deal with the problem. “The solution must be in their home countries,” Valfridsson said. In the short term, there is little the government can do. EU rules ensuring free movement mean the country cannot turn migrants away at the border while evictions only move the problem to another location. Anne Britt Djuve, co author of a report on Romanian migrants in Scandinavia said they were extremely resilient to harassment. “They are desperate for money and they are willing to endure extreme hardship.”
Reuters

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UK: Visually impaired Laindon man hit with stones in hate crime attack

Police are appealing for information about a hate crime where a man with impaired vision was attacked in Laindon on Sunday August 2.

24/8/2015- The man was walking through an underpass between the Pipps Hill Retail Park and St Nicholas Lane, when he was set upon be two youths. They shouted abuse at him and then began throwing stones at him, hitting special glasses he wears to assist with his vision, and breaking them. He was also struck on the head before the two youths, believed to be aged 11 to 17, ran off. The victim, who does not wish to be identified, said: "I am almost totally blind and every time I step outside my home I am very aware of how vulnerable that makes me. It is difficult enough for me to get around without then being subject to abuse or attacked like this. "I have previously suffered from lots of name calling and shouted abuse, even from mothers with prams, if I’ve tapped a pushchair with my walking cane in an attempt to get by. I am hoping to get a guide dog to improve my mobility but I would also like to hear from anyone who thinks they could escort me on trips out sometimes to help improve my confidence.”

Hate crime officer, Pc Sharon Hall, said: "Any assault is a terrible thing but to seemingly target this man because of his disability and then laugh as they did so is just so shocking that I am absolutely appalled. Fortunately the victim was not badly hurt but he was left very shaken and this has obviously given his confidence to go out a massive knock. If anyone was in the area at the time and has any information which could help us catch those responsible then I would urge them to call us. In particular we are keen to hear from an elderly couple who walked through the underpass towards Pipps Hill, shortly before the attack happened. This couple are believed to have been a woman and a man in a wheelchair. ” Anyone with information about the assault can call Pc Marc Shaddock at Basildon Police Station on 101 or ring Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. It offers rewards of up to £1,000 for information leading to the arrest and or conviction of offenders. Anyone who would like to help the victim can contact PC Sharon Hall at Essex Police on 101 extension 440155.
The Brentwood Gazette

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Headlines 21 August, 2015

Germany: Arson committed in refugee camp for Azerbaijanis

The issue regarding arson in refugee camp settled by Azerbaijanis in Germany is in the focus of attention of Azerbaijani Embassy in Germany, head of Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry's press service Hikmet Hajiyev told APA.

21/8/2015- According to him, the Embassy is investigating the issue jointly with the state bodies of Germany.  Arson was committed in a refugee camp settled by Azerbaijanis in Neustadt an der Waldnaab, Bavaria, Germany, APA reports citing br.de website. The police office reported that non of 19 refugees was injured. Interior Minister of Bavaria Joachim Herrmann did not exclude the factor of xenophobia. Mayor Rupert Troppmann called the arson terrible event. Commenting on the factor of xenophobia, Troppman said the event should be investigated by police. The information about the arson was received yesterday at 3.20a.m. A part of furniture in an old restaurant in Neustadt an der Waldnaab burned. Spread of fire was prevented. Witnesses of camp witnessed two persons left first floor at the night. One more person was waiting for them near the port. The police is currently investigating the event. 19 Azerbaijanis, including 3 children, were settled in that camp. First floor of the old restaurant was for children to play games. The restaurant has been settling by refugees for two years.
APA.

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Germany: Where racism and xenophobia are manifest

Official statistics show that most racist crimes in Germany last year occurred in the country's eastern-most states and Berlin. A civil society expert says that's no surprise.

18/8/2015- Nearly one out of two violent racist crimes was committed in the former East Germany and Berlin in 2014, according to official statistics quoted in a German daily newspaper on Tuesday. The five states which used to be in the German Democratic Republic, plus the capital Berlin, only account for 17 percent of the entire country's population, but last year, 47 percent of all racist violence was reported there, the "Mitteldeutsche Zeitung" reported. The figures cited were provided by the Federal Ministry of the Interior in response to an inquiry by the Green party. Of 130 nationwide violent racist crimes reported, 61 occurred in the east - a whopping 40 percent increase from 2013. The figures are alarming but they don't come as a surprise, said Robert Lüdecke, a spokesman for the Amadeu Antonio Foundation. The Berlin-based organization describes itself as an initiative for "civic empowerment and a democratic culture."

Disproportionately high
Attacks on refugees have been on the rise for the past two years, Lüdecke pointed out, and it's most probably due to the large anti-immigrant PEGIDA marches mainly in East Germany last year that more racist crimes were recorded there. "Racist violence increases in places where there is a corresponding mood," he told DW.

The German Interior Ministry differentiates between racist crimes - aimed at foreigners - and crimes "motivated by far-right extremism," which for instance could also include neo-Nazi attacks on non-migrant Germans who get involved in helping refugees and asylum-seekers, and thus become targets. In 2014, the Interior Ministry recorded 1,029 violent crimes "motivated by far-right extremism." This time, the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) was at the top of the list with 370 acts of far-right violence, followed by Berlin, Saxony and Brandenburg. NRW in particular has for years had a very strong neo-Nazi movement, Lüdecke said, adding that the inner circle of that movement is known not to shy away from violence. But these figures should be taken with a grain of salt, Lüdecke warned.

Reported violence
After reunification, the government invested heavily in building up structures in the east, including nongovernmental helplines and information centers for victims of extremist violence - unlike in Germany's old western federal states, many of which have no such structures at all. "Right-wing extremism was always seen by the western states as a problem of the eastern states," Lüdecke said. North Rhine-Westphalia is the country's most populous state, and while it has a strong far-right scene, Lüdecke said, NRW is one of the western states that also happens to offer helplines for victims of extremist violence. That might explain the higher number of such crimes reported there, he added. But the number of unreported far-right crimes is bound to be much higher nationwide, he said - a problem the authorities need to address. Compared to 64 percent of all violent crimes, the report said, only 45 percent of the far-right motivated crimes were solved nationwide in 2014.
The Deutsche Welle.

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Austria: Neo-Nazi handed 20 month sentence

A man from east Styria has appeared in court for a third time on charges of incitement and for neo-Nazi offences. He received a 20 month conditional sentence and must serve three months in prison.

19/8/2015- The 38-year-old father confessed in the Graz regional court to making donations to a neo-Nazi website. Prosecutor Johannes Winklhofer told the accused that he had previously lied in court, in 2011. “You said that you would have nothing more to do with this scene but it was not true, you made contributions to this website and were also registered on it.” The website hosted different forums as well as selling Nazi memorabilia. The Styrian registered with the name “NS friend” and was active on the site between April 2009 and June 2012. He was charged with denying that the holocaust happened and inciting hate against Muslims, who he wrote, needed to be “singled out and exterminated". He signed his online postings with “Greetings 88”, or “Thanks 88” (88 stands for Heil Hitler). He said that his role models were Rudolf Hess and Adolf Hitler. He made a donation of €120 to the site's managers and so became a “supporting member” with access to special forums.

The 38-year-old confessed to the charges and said that he had occasionally visited the website and had slipped back into his old ways. However, he said the entries were three to five years old and that he had now changed his ways. He works as a foreman and told the judge that he often comes into contact with people of different nationalities. “We never have any problems and I’m not interested in the neo-Nazi scene any more,” he said, adding that it had taken him some time to reconsider his beliefs. The prosecutor said that his defence had been very similar in two previous court cases and questioned his credibility. The jury found him guilty. In addition to a 20 month conditional sentence his probation period from previous sentences has been extended and he has been assigned a probation officer.
The Local - Austria

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Norway grilled over hate crimes

Just as three Norwegian and British men went on trial Tuesday, accused of hate crimes against two Muslim men in Oslo, Norwegian government minister Solveig Horne was being grilled by a UN committee in Geneva over the country’s failure to better combat such crimes and racism. The trial itself is a result of Norway’s efforts to take hate crimes and discrimination more seriously, but UN officials aren’t satisfied.

19/8/2015- The trial had to be moved to a larger courtroom because of a lack of space in the city court, reported Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). The case has attracted media attention, after the three white defendants allegedly launched an unprovoked attack on two men from the Middle East late one night last winter. The three men denied they are neo-Nazis, even though police found Nazi greetings and swastikas on the mobile phone of one of them. The attack occurred as the two Kurdish victims were walking down the main street running between Norway’s National Theater and Parliament building, Stortingsgata, on February 18. When they passed the three defendants, aged 52, 33 and 28, “they began to yell and swear at us, completely out of the blue,” one of the victims told newspaper Aftenposten in a detailed account of the incident last week. “Before we had a chance to react, they started beating and kicking both of us.”

Threw things, too
The three white men continued to verbally attack the two Kurdish men as well, repeatedly using vulgarities and screaming that that the “(epithet deleted) Muslims” didn’t “have anything to do here (in Norway)” and labelling them as “terrorists,” clearly choosing to overlook the facts that one of the three attackers was himself a foreign citizen in Norway and that the terrorist attack against Norway four years ago was carried out by an ultra-right-wing white Norwegian man, not by Muslims. The two Kurdish men reported the attack to police, resulting in the arrests and the trial now underway in which the three men are charged with hate crimes. The defendants deny the attack was unprovoked, with the 33-year-old testifying that the two plaintiffs had made offensive remarks “to the girls who were with us,” and it led to a brawl “where both parts were fighting.”

The 33-year-old is also charged, meanwhile, with beating a woman who earlier was a leader of the white supremacist Norwegian Defence League but since has cut ties to the organization, and he was convicted of unprovoked violence in 2003. Both he and the 28-year-old said all the Nazi greetings and photos of people posing with flags bearing swastikas and other white supremacist symbols found by police were merely a result of “internal humour” and not intended to signify ties with neo-Nazis. NRK reported their 52-year-old British co-defendant did not appear in court.

‘Eye-opener’
“This episode really opened my eyes,” one of the victims, who has lived in Norway since 1998, told Aftenposten last week. “Until that day, I would never have believed such things could happen here. I’ve heard about it, but thought it must have been taken out of context. Now I understand that this can actually happen in Norway today.” Police also understand that, and say they’re trying to crack down on hate crime. Last fall, the Oslo Police District formed the country’s first hate-crime group specifically charged with handling complaints and addressing cases that initially weren’t registered as hate crimes. Aftenposten reported that as of July 27, Oslo police had registered 69 cases so far this year, as many as in all of 2014.

The newspaper has also reported on how hateful comments, mostly against Muslims, also swirl around the Internet, and that both verbal and written attacks against Muslims are more common than racially motivated violence. Aftenposten itself is logging hateful comments and threats that come in to its own online channels. The most alarming are reported to the police. Monica Lillebakken, head of the Oslo Police’s new group tackling hate crimes, thinks the real numbers are much higher, fearing that many such crimes go unreported. Asked whether police have taken hate crimes seriously enough, she told Aftenposten, “no, we need to acknowledge that we haven’t taken these cases seriously enough. It’s all about focusing on them and making them a priority, and we’re doing that now.”

Government forced to defend itself
The government minister questioned by a UN panel in Geneva on Tuesday had to answer for how Norway is tackling hate crimes and other forms of discrimination. Norway is usually viewed as a star in the UN system, but in this case, UN officials are not satisfied with how Norwegian authorities are fighting racism. Norwegian authorities have been criticized in the past by the UN, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe, also during the former Labour-led government, for not better addressing hatred. Now it’s Solveig Horne’s job to respond to criticism from 2011, when the Norwegian government was charged with not compiling statistics over hate crime, not defining the issue and failing to address how expressions of racism are damaging.

Aftenposten reported Wednesday that Horne, from the conservative Progress Party that’s known for its skepticism towards immigration, asked for a “time-out” when asked what measures Norway has taken to counter racism, and why the government has no action plan against ethnic discrimination. Horne said later that she merely needed “a few minutes … so the Norwegian delegation could coordinate its answer.” Horne claimed she found the UN committee’s questioning to be “constructive” and thought she and her Norwegian colleagues “answered well and comprehensively.” The head of Oslo’s anti-racism center was less positive, suggesting Horne did not answer in detail. In the ministry’s version of events, however, Horne highlighted the Oslo police’s new group that’s handling hate crimes and stressed the govern-ment’s efforts against radicalization and violent extremism and in favour of integration.

“During the hearing in Geneva, Norway was praised for the work being done, but the UN committee also addressed the challenges we have in Norway today,” Horne stated. “Norway is delivering well on many points in the UN’s convention against racial discrimination, but there are still areas where we can be better.” The UN later concluded that Norwegian officials, Horne included, need to acknowledge that racism exists in Norway, that it needs to be called for what it is (not simply “discrimination”) and that Norway needs the UN’s help to combat it. Horne insisted that the government’s own work in fighting racism had high priority.

Party under pressure
Her party, meanwhile, has been under pressure just recently after local Progress Party politician Roald Bentzen wrote on the Facebook page of the party’s senior citizens’ group in Vestfold that the deputy leader of the Labour Party and former government minister Hadia Tajik “has a mission from Allah to ‘Muslimize’ Norway,” and that “all (Muslims) who come (to Norway) have the same assignment, young and old, with and without weapons.” That set off protests and the party distanced itself from Bentzen’s remarks. Local newspaper Gjengangeren could later report, however, that the party’s candidate for mayor of Horten in Vestfold, Freddy Martinsen, merely asked Bentzen to make such comments anonymously instead of identifying himself as a Progress Party politician.

“He’s been told he should think twice, because when he comments under his full name, he will be associated with the party,” Martinsen said. “We have suggested he should get himself a nickname.” Newspaper Dagsavisen editorialized that Martinsen thus was suggesting that “it isn’t wrong to spread hatred, but it’s stupid to be caught doing it.” Horne’s own party, the paper claimed, “needs its own clear rules about this. It’s OK to be critical of immigration, but it’s not OK to spread hate, anonymously or otherwise.”
Views and News from Norway

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UK: Neo-Nazis daub swastika and words 'Yid s**t' on Jewish school in north London

Nazi supporters have daubed a Swastika and an anti-Semitic slogan on the gates of a Jewish school.

17/8/2015- The words "Yid s**t" were written in black marker alongside the offensive symbol outside Beis Chinuch Lebonos Girls School in Stamford Hill, which takes children between the ages of two and 16. Police, called at about 9am by shocked passers-by, are appealing for information. It comes after the words "f*** the Jews" were scrawled on the gates of nearby Simon Marks primary school at the end of June. Last month anti-Jewish graffiti in Polish appeared on two walls in the same area. Michael Scher from Jewish neighbourhood watch group the Stamford Hill Shomrim said: "Targeting a Jewish school with anti-Semitic graffiti is very low - nobody should have to face hate crime of any kind, especially young children. "Anti-Semitic graffiti appeared at the same location a few weeks ago with the words 'Yids out'. "I urge anyone with information to get in touch and call the police on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111."
The Evening Standard.

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Northern Ireland: Councillor urges for "very strong action" after Irish teen beaten and stripped in attack

16/8/2015- Following a brutal homophobic attack in Castleton Gardens, Belfast, police are in search for two males. The attack, being treated as a hate crime, occurred last Sunday and saw a young gay male being robbed of his bank card, stripped to his underwear and beaten up. An officer from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) explained that the two suspects brought the teenage down an alleyway between 12:30am and 1am. The teenage male reportedly walked from Castleton Gardens to the Antrim Road covered in blood according to the same officer. David Browne, local Ulster Unionist Party member and councillor who know the victim’s family, told the Belfast Telegraph that the attack was savage. He added that 'It’s an absolute disgrace that a gay person cannot walk the streets of Belfast without fear of being attacked' 'I feel that the police and courts need to take very strong action in order to deter attacks of this particularly nasty and viscous kind. Anyone convicted of this attack should be going to jail, not just be given a slap on the wrist,' he continued. Official PSNI figures have shown an in creed in homophobic hate crimes in North Ireland, with 280 incidents recorded in 2013/14.
Gay Times Magazine

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Sweden: Two arson attempts on refugee centres

The asylum centre in Arboga, where two men linked to the Ikea murders lived, was evacuated early on Saturday morning when two bags of flammable liquid were found nearby. The same night a centre for unaccompanied refugee children and young people in Värnamo was the target of an arson attack.

16/8/2015- Following a tip-off, police found two unknown objects in the vicinity of the Arboga accommodation. “Late on Friday night they found the first object and the second some time after midnight,” said Thomas Gustafsson, police spokesman in Västmanland. A large area was cordoned off and bomb technicians from Stockholm were called. “As a precaution it was decided that the accommodation would be evacuated,” Gustafsson told the Swedish TT news agency. Staff from the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket) and Arboga municipality removed the 83 residents and took them to a local church. Bomb technicians found that the objects consisted of two sacks of flammable liquid. Police have launched a preliminary investigation.

Passers-by managed to extinguish the fire at a separate centre in Värnamo before the emergency services arrived. Twenty children and young people, between the ages of 15 to 21, were living there. Nobody was hurt. “It was a resourceful intervention by passers-by that ensured the fire was stopped early,” said a police spokesman. “We have undertaken an investigation and can conclude that the fire was not an accident. It has been classified as arson although we do not yet have any suspects.” The attacks come just five days after a mother and her adult son were stabbed to death at an Ikea store in the central town of Västerås. Two men from Eritrea were arrested with one admitting the attack and another denying all involvement.

Earlier this month two EU migrants were injured and four caravans burned when a camping site in Gothenburg was attacked. Violence against ethnic minorities is growing in Sweden with other high profile cases in recent months including shots fired at two homeless EU migrants sleeping in a car in Boden in northern Sweden and two migrants assaulted in central Stockholm by a passerby who threw acid at them.
The Local - Sweden

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Denmark: Man arrested for setting fire to Islamic centre in Copenhagen

A 35-year-old man was arrested on Sunday for allegedly attempting to set fire to a building used by the Islamic Society in Denmark.

16/8/2015- Danish police said Sunday they had arrested a man on suspicion of torching an Islamic centre in Copenhagen's Nordvest district earlier in the day. "At 11.31am, the police were informed that a man had started a fire by throwing a flammable liquid ... at the Muslim centre," a police statement said. The fire, which caused only superficial damage to the outside of the building, was quickly contained, police said. Some 40 people were inside the building at the time. The suspect, who was born in 1980, will appear in court on Monday. Police said that the suspect has been previously convicted on charges that include vandalism. The building complex belongs to the Islamic Society in Denmark (Det Islamiske Trossamfund), whose members also worship at an adjoining mosque. The group denounced the fire as "an act of terrorism" on its website. This act "was likely the result of political and religious motives... As tragic at it is, it unfortunately does not surprise us," the centre said. Since February, when Omar El-Hussein, a young Dane of Palestinian origin, shot dead a filmmaker and an unarmed Jewish security guard outside a synagogue, Denmark's Muslim community has feared being viewed with suspicion. Those concerns were amplified after more than 50 graves were destroyed at the Muslim cemetery in the Copenhagen suburb of Brøndby in June. Out of Denmark's population of 5.7 million, nine percent are foreign-born, of whom some 296,000 originate from "non-Western" countries, official statistics show.
The Local - Denmark

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Headlines 14 August, 2015

Bosnia/Serbia: Attack on Bosnian Muslims Raises Tensions in Prijedor

Apparently unprovoked assault of four Bosniaks in north-western town aggravates ethnic tensions in region that has seen a spate of such incidents recently.

13/8/2015- Another in a series of ethnic-related incidents has increased tension in the Prijedor region of northwest Bosnia, in the Republika Srpska, only two days after local authorities and members of religious communities met to calm the situation. The incident took place in front of a bakery early on Wednesday when four Serbs approached four Bosniaks and attacked them without reason, two of the victims told the media. "They asked us where are we coming from ... and then the question followed: 'Are you Balije (a derogatory term for Bosniaks)?" one of the victims told the media. "I did not want to fall for this provocation, I even offered him my hand ....I turned around, there were no indications that something might happen... At that moment I was hit in the left side of my face and lower lip, and then the second blow brought me down and I hit the floor," he said.

One of the Bosniaks was living and working in France and another in Sweden. Both of them came to Prijedor to visit friends and families during summer holidays.  Police said they were still investigating the incident.  "There was a disturbance of public order and peace by eight people. Two groups of four people each participated. Until all the facts are not established we cannot say anything else," Marija Matic, Prijedor police spokeswoman, said.  "One [group] say one thing and another, something else. We will have more information tomorrow," she concluded.  This attack follows similar incidents in the last few months in Prijedor, where a fragile ethnic coexistence has only slowly been re-established since the 1992-5 war in Bosnia.

At the beginning of the war, Bosnian Serbs forced 60,000 non-Serbs - half of Prijedor's total 120,000 inhabitants - to flee. During this "ethnic cleansing", some 4,200 Bosniaks and Croats were killed. Since the war, some 23,000 non-Serbs - predominately Bosniaks - have returned. Others established new lives abroad, but many have kept their houses and apartments in Prijedor and still visit them, especially during summer. In recent years, Prijedor and the surrounding area has seen more than 20,000 mainly Bosniak visitors over the summer period. Over the years Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs have learned to live again next to each other and the number of ethnic incidents has dwindled. But incidents have increased again over the past few months around the 20th anniversaries of the Srebrenica massacre last month and Croatia’s Operation Storm.

These tensions led to an attack on Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic at the 20th anniversary Srebrenica commemoration, but also to several attacks on Bosniaks in Republika Srpska, Bosnia's mainly Serbian entity. In the last months, two Bosniak weddings were marred by verbal altercations and fist fights between wedding guests and local Serbs, angered by the sight of Bosnian state flags flown in the motorcade. In addition, two young Bosniaks who had temporarily returned from Switzerland were attacked by local Serbs in a café in Prijedor because one of them was wearing a T-shirt with Bosnia’s flag on it. Several cars, most of them owned by Bosniak returnees, were also set on fire in the Prijedor area recently. Town officials told BIRN that it was clear that the number of incidents in the last few months has exceeded the total number in the past few years. For this reason, Prijedor mayor Marko Pavic held an urgent meeting on Monday with representatives of different religious communities to discuss the security situation.

The meeting apparently failed to calm down tensions. Following the incident on Wednesday, the chief imam of one of Prijedor's mosques, Omer Redzic, wrote on social networks that he had requested both Serb and Bosniak politicians in Prijedor to "finally start doing their job. "Mr. Mayor... the time has come for you to punish these thugs," Redzic said. "This has become unbearable." The incident has also caused anger among Bosniaks that is visible on all social networks and local web portals, including comments amounting to open warmongering and demands for revenge.
Balkan Insight

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Czech Rep: Two minors arrested in fatal beating of homeless man

Police describe the attack as the most brutal they have ever seen

10/8/2015- Police have arrested and accused two minors in connection with the beating of a homeless man near a Pardubice bus station. The victim later died of his injuries. Due to the age of the accused, identifying details cannot be released, however, they face from one to five years in custody for grievous bodily harm resulting in death. If they had been above the age of 18, they would have faced eight to 16 years in prison. The arrest took place less than four days after the attack, thanks to cooperation from the public as well as from regional police, police spokeswoman Markéta Janovská said. The two came to Pardubice from a nearby village on bicycles. A judge of the District Court in Hradec Králové has accepted motions to remand the two young men into custody, where they have been since Saturday. Criminologists agree that it was one of the most brutal attacks they had ever seen in their collective careers.

Police Captain Robert Valeta said the attack lasted for nearly an hour and a half. “The youths were beating a man with punches and kicks throughout the body, including the face. The attackers took turns and used great intensity. The men fired several times [at the victim] from an air gun,” Valeta said. He went on to say the attackers then used a scissors and a blunt object to attack his genitals and anus. “Finally, they set fire to his hair, which one of them extinguished with his boot.” The cause of death was internal bleeding. Police say the victim was a 55 year old man originally from Slovakia, but who had lived in Pardubice for several years. Police Colonel Milan Simek described him as a loner. He added that there had not been a similar case in the area since a 2010 attack on homeless people in Tyršovy sady, a park in Pardubice. “I am really surprised by the level of brutality,” he said.
The Prague Post

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Scotland: Yousaf bombarded with anti-Muslim comments shortly after radio debate

Humza Yousaf was yesterday “bombarded” with anti-Muslim abuse just minutes after discussing Islamophobia on live radio.

14/8/2015- The Europe and International Development Minister was a guest on the BBC Asian Network when host Nihal Arthanayake questioned him about issues including identity and prejudice. Following the show, which was broadcast live from the Edinburgh Festival, he tweeted: “Literally less than 10 minutes after posting about tackling extremism I get bombarded by these Islamophobic trolls.” Moments before coming off air, Yousaf, from Glasgow, had been asked about anti-Muslim sentiment in Scotland, answering: “I would never look at Scotland through rose-tinted spectacles. “Islamophobia exists as much in Scotland just as I think it exists in parts of England. “I would saw that we are certainly more tolerant than some parts but there is certainly Islamophobia here in Scotland and I wouldn’t try to say otherwise.” He added: “Let’s not pretend Scotland is some kind of utopia. It’s not, there are problems.

“I have lived here all my life, I have been the victim of some of that.” Abuse yesterday included personal attacks on the MSP, branding him “chief Islamist worm among many” in Scottish politics. Other messages denigrated migrants at Calais, another topic raised in the show. Addressing the issue, Yousaf said “the voices of government” at Westminster had contributed to prejudice, saying: “The Scottish Government’s language has been very different. It has been a lot more inclusive, even if it is the debate around immigration for example. “A lot of the debate around immigration whether it is [migrants in] Calais or those crossing the Mediterranean, it’s all warped into that discussion about extremism.” Yousaf retweeted some of the messages yesterday in an effort to highlight the abuse.

He has also reported the slurs to Twitter and to Police Scotland. However, the episode is just the latest example of abuse targeted against Scotland’s most high-profile Muslim politician. He told The National: “I think it’s important to note whenever these incidents happen that the voices we get and the views of tolerance will often outweigh the negative, racist, bigoted voices. “I always try to put it in that perspective. “All that being said, it is still quite hurtful whether this has happened for the first time or the hundredth time if somebody picks on your identity. “It reminds you that there is a challenge to change negative perceptions.” Turning to the comments about the current migrant crisis, he said: “Politicians have a really important job to ensure the language they use doesn’t inflame and doesn’t give any momentum to racists, to bigots. “I would encourage anyone who has suffered any kind of online abuse, whether it’s racist or homophobic, to report it. “I do it all the time.”

Responding to Yousaf’s online comment, Tory leader Ruth Davidson called the trolling “totally unacceptable”. She said: “When will folk recognise that Twitter isn’t a special case. What is wrong in real life is wrong online too.” The controversy comes ahead of a planned one-day conference on Islamophobia in Glasgow. Organisers Amina, the Muslim Women’s Resource Centre, aim to bring members of the public together with representatives from across Scottish society to discuss the topic in a landmark summit in October. Former Guantanamo detainee Moazzam Begg, director of prisoner advocacy group Cage, is among those billed to be speaking at the event, which is still in the planning stages. Amina MWRC director Smina Akhtar told The National: “Nobody knows the extent of the problem because there is so much under-reporting. “It is time to try and find out what the real picture is.”
The National - Scotland

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UK: Appeal after report of 'vile and abusive racists comments' on train

British Transport Police are investigating after an alleged incident of hate crime on a busy train between Nottingham and Leicester.

14/8/2015- BTP officers have issued this CCTV image of a man they want to speak to following a report of "vile and abusive racist comments and chants" made by a group onboard.  Investigating officer PC Luke Maher said: "Officers were called to attend platform three at Leicester station following reports of a group of men who had been involved in racist chanting on the service.  "This was a busy train and passengers were forced to endure vile and abusive racist comments and chants made by the group."  The incident occurred on Saturday, 25 July, shortly after 9.15pm. PC Maher added: "We would appeal to anyone who was travelling on the East Midlands Trains service, which arrived at Leicester at 9.38pm, or anyone who witnessed what happened, to contact us immediately. "We believe the man pictured could have vital information about the incident and we urge him or anyone who recognises him to come forward to assist us with our enquiries." Anyone with information is asked to contact British Transport Police on 0800 40 50 40, or text 61016, quoting reference MSUB/B4 of 13/08/2015. Alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
The Nottingham Post

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UK: 'Ginger Pride' festival to be held in city hit by anti-redhead hate crime

A British city is holding the country’s first ever ‘Ginger Pride’ festival - after police revealed details of crimes committed against redheads.

14/8/2015- Officers in Plymouth have published crime figures following a Freedom of Information request revealing a series of incidents where victims have been targeted solely because of their hair colour. The incidents include a serious assault and other reports of harassment against people with ginger locks. Now the city - which lists famous redhead Sir Francis Drake among its former residents - will host a unique festival expected to draw gingers from across the country. The event is being organised by Stuart Parry, 43, who has been trying to arrange a mass get-together with his fellow flamed-haired men and women for several years. His idea started as a backlash to the cartoon series South Park, which featured an episode based on a Kick a Ginger Day and which was later blamed for a series of copycat attacks in Britain.

EastEnders actress Patsy Palmer later revealed she had been bullied so badly at school for having red hair that she had to undergo therapy. This has been reflected in the crime statistics released by Devon and Cornwall Police which highlight incidents in which the victim's hair colour was a factor. The force revealed that in January 2013, a red-headed person was assaulted and suffered actual bodily harm, with the offender given a caution. In February last year there was a record of a ginger person being threatened and suffering abusive, insulting words or behaviour and being caused harrasment, alarm or distress. That crime is still under investigation. In a third incident in Plymouth, police investigated a similar report but found no suspect. Police have previously revealed that attacks against people with red hair do not meet the legal definition of a hate crime - which only includes mentions of race or religion.

Some have argued that England has a particularly strong history of anti-Ginger sentiment linked to anti-Celtic, anti-Irish and anti-Scots prejudice. However, Stuart says the gingers are now fighting back and he puts the resurgence down to the rise of celebrities such as actors Eddie Redmayne and Damian Lewis, singer Ed Sheeran and model Lily Cole. Prince Harry has brought a royal touch to the movement while Rupert Grint of Harry Potter fame has also been a popular member of the famous ginger club. Stuart is determined to press ahead with the festival due to what he perceives as a significant recent improvement in the way “his kind” are now treated by the public. He said: “We want to celebrate the fact that we are little bit different, but not too different. “The only thing we have in common is our hair colour, but that gives us shared experiences.”

The event, which he is calling Gingers: The Gathering, is expected to include ginger-themed food and drink and a carrot cake contest. Stuart, a pizza delivery driver, has set a provisional date for the festival next summer. He said: “It’s going to be a celebrating for people to see we’re not quite as weird as you all thought. It’s not going to be a ‘we’re gingers, we’re different’ event, we already know that, it’s just a celebration. “The place in mind has a capacity of about 150/200, which seems like a reasonable ambition for our first go. “We sent a tentative time for summer 2016 which gives us plenty of time to make plans and to promote the event. “We do have a local celebrity who is going to judge a gingerbread decorating competition, and we’re hoping to have live music too. "The daughter of one the people at the meeting is going to create a display on the science of redheads. “We’ve obviously hit on something here.”
The Mirror

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UK: Anti-ginger crime in Plymouth, police reveal number of offences

Plymouth police have revealed how many crimes have been committed against people with ginger hair in the last two years - crimes in which hair colour was a factor - including a serious assault.

13/8/2015- Devon and Cornwall police were asked to revealed the extent of crime against red-headed people in a freedom of information request. Officers revealed that in a crime recorded on January 13, 2013 a red-headed person was assaulted and occasioned actual bodily harm. The offender was given a caution for the crime investigated by Plymouth Central and Plymstock Sector. On February 20 last year there was a record of a ginger person being threatened and suffering abusive, insulting words or behaviour and being caused harrasment, alarm or distress. The crime in Plymouth West and Devonport Sector is still under investigation. In another incident to the east of the city police investigated but found no suspect.

Police have previously revealed that attacks against people with red hair do not class as a hate crime - which only includes mentions of race or religion. Some have argued that the UK has a particularly strong record of anti-Ginger offences linked to anti-Celtic, anti-Irish and anti-Scots prejudice. In 2013 Nelson Jones of the New Statesman wrote a blog post detailing murders, assaults and suicides linked to anti-redhaired prejudice. Plymouth's red-headed community has organised a ginger rally in the city for this year.
The Plymouth Herald

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UK: Bradford 14-year-old given 11 years for racist attack on teacher

10/8/2015- A 14-year-old boy who stabbed his black teacher in a racially motivated attack has been given an 11-year sentence, with six years in custody and five years on licence. The pupil at Dixons Kings academy in Bradford used a racially offensive insult against supply teacher Vincent Uzomah and then stabbed him in the stomach. The court heard that the boy, who can’t be named, had frequently used racist language in regards to Mr Uzomah. He had taken a knife to school, discussing plans with other students to stab a teacher. Following an argument with Mr Uzomah over a mobile phone, the boy sat at his desk muttering racist insults, then approached the teacher and stabbed him. The boy then fled the school, while the prosecution said Mr Uzomah believed he was going to die. The boy later posted on Facebook, boasting about the attack.
Euronews

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Headlines 7 August, 2015

Ukraine Jewish headstones, Hungary Holocaust monument smashed

Headstones at a Jewish cemetery in Ukraine and a Holocaust memorial monument in Hungary were destroyed in suspected anti-Semitic vandalism.

7/8/2015- Ukrainian Police received a report of the vandalism at the Jewish cemetery of Uzhgorod in the country’s west earlier this week, the news site transkarpathianews.net reported. Unidentified individuals smashed 19 headstones at the cemetery sometime between July 28 and Aug. 1, according to police, who urged anyone with information on the incident to assist with their investigation.

Separately, vandals in the northeastern Hungarian city of Nyiregyhaza are believed to have dislodged and smashed a large stone slab that served as a memorial for the local Jewish population that was murdered in the Holocaust, the news site szon.hu reported on Tuesday. The monument, located at a central park on Dob Street, was placed there in 2004. The stone slab could have collapsed under its own weight, the news site reported, but the local police department said in a statement that there is cause to suspect vandalism. Nyiregyhaza had a Jewish population of 5,000 in 1944, when local fascists and Nazis began deporting the country’s Jews to the Auschwitz extermination camp. Deportations began in May and ran through the beginning of June. Survivors are estimated at 600 to 800, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

In 2012, the Council of Europe adopted a non-binding resolution placing responsibility for the care of Jewish cemeteries on national governments. The resolution was based in part on a report that said Jewish cemeteries are “probably” more vulnerable because of the small size of the communities. In addition to dozens of cemeteries vandalized in recent years, the report also noted instances of cemeteries in Eastern Europe that have been turned into “residential areas, public gardens, leisure parks, army grounds and storage sites; some have been turned into lakes.”
JTA News

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Sweden: Record increase in hate crimes

Hate crimes are on the rise in Sweden. More incidents than ever before were reported last year, according to fresh figures from a Swedish crime statistics agency.

5/8/2015- According to the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brottsförebyggande rådet – Brå), a government body which produces crime data, a total of 6,270 hate crimes were reported to Swedish police in 2014 – up by 14 percent from the previous year. “It's the biggest increase so far, ever since we started keeping statistics on hate crimes,” Sara Westerberg, a researcher for the agency, told the TT newswire on Wednesday. Racist or xenophobic motives are believed to be behind around seven of ten cases. Others include sexual orientation, islamophobia, anti-semitism or various other religious faiths. All of the above categories have increased in recent years, except crimes based on sexual orientation, which have gone down by almost 20 percent over the past five years.

The sharpest rise is seen among crimes with christianophobic motives, which have tripled in the past five years. Crimes with islamophobic or anti-semitic motives have also increased rapidly. But many incidents are never brought to a conclusion. Despite a police investigation being launched in 59 percent of the cases only five percent were ever solved. According to the National Council on Crime Prevention this is because many of the crimes are committed by strangers in public places. Earlier this year, the United Nations slammed Sweden for the way it is dealing with discrimination and increasing violence against minority groups in the Nordic nation. As part of the second UN review of human rights practices in Sweden, the Nordic nation's recent experiences linked to islamophobia, anti-semitism and prejudice against Roma migrants were highlighted. The review also noted an increase in sexual violence against women.
The Local - Sweden

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UK: Police investigating violent assault on train after Brighton Pride

Police are investigating reports of a violent assault on a train from Brighton to London, following Pride on Saturday.

4/8/2015- British Transport Police (BTP) is investigating a report of a violent assault on board a train between Brighton and Redhill, which took place shortly before midnight on Saturday, 1 August. It is alleged two men used abusive and threatening language towards two other men on the train before the assault, which left one of the men, in his 50s, with injuries to his face. Detectives say they are currently working to determine the full circumstances. A BTP spokesman told PinkNews: “Violence on the train network is unacceptable, and passengers have every right to travel in a safe environment without fear of violence. “This was a busy train and I am sure many people will have witnessed what happened and will be able to help our investigation. “I would ask anyone with information about what took place to contact us.” Police were investigating after reports on a blog claimed that the man, who was travelling with a group of friends, was punched unconscious in the unprovoked attack. Photo-graphs of two men also appeared on the blog, and were apparently handed to British Transport Police. The exact circumstances of the attack are unclear.
Pink News.

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UK: Jewish, Muslim and LGBT communities oppose hate-crime hotline plans

Internal emails reveal Boris Johnson, mayor of London, intends to introduce single hotline for capital, but charities say plans will dilute community trust.

1/8/2015- London’s Jewish, Muslim and LGBT communities have joined forces to oppose plans by Boris Johnston for a hate-crime hotline, claiming it would dissuade victims from reporting antisemitic, Islamophobic and homophobic attacks at a time of rising attacks. Not yet officially announced, internal emails from the mayor’s office for policing and crime, seen by the Guardian, reveal that Johnson is intending to introduce a one-number hotline for reporting hate crime throughout the capital. However, the Community Service Trust, a Jewish security charity that runs an incident hotline; Tell Mama (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks), which monitors Islamophobic incidents in Britain; and the charity Galop, which records hate crime towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, say that Johnson’s plans will dilute community trust in the existing hotlines and discourage reporting.

“Reporting relies on trust between organisations and their communities, and a one-number, blanket approach ignores this fundamental principle,” said Nik Noone, chief executive of Galop. The development comes as statistics show that the number of antisemitic incidents in the UK recently reached the highest level ever recorded, with CST reports of violence, property damage, abuse and threats against Britain’s 291,000 Jews more than doubling last year. Last year some of the UK’s biggest police forces recorded a rise in the number of violent homophobic crimes. Similarly, Muslims in Britain are consistently the target of hate crimes in retribution for global terrorist attacks, with noticeable spikes observed in the immediate aftermath of high-profile terrorist attacks in Paris, Sydney, and Copenhagen in the past year.

New figures reveal that pattern was repeated during the aftermath of the shootings in Tunisia that killed 38 including 30 British nationals last month. During the week before the attack, Tell Mama recorded 11 incidents of offline and online Islamophobia, rising to 23 in the week following the terror attack in Sousse. Richard Benson, former chief executive of the CST for 12 years until 2013, said: “It is quite clear that communities feel more comfortable when they are victims of a hate crime to report the issue to somebody within that community who understands them. “That’s why the CST and Tell Mama have both been successful in providing a level of support to their communities, but to have a one-stop shop that covers every single community will be confusing and, secondly, will dilute the existing successful work currently carried out by those groups.”

A similar proposal by the Metropolitan police, said Benson, to introduce a hate crime monitoring hotline was defeated around five years ago after resistance by experts and anti-discrimination groups. Noone said the mayor’s plans risked undermining the existing schemes that meant London was a world leader in its approach to hate crime. “If London wants to retain its place as a world-leading city in tackling hate crime they need to retain and invest in the community-built solution, not impose a new generalist service that will push away direct access to the specialist services which are at the heart of why London is currently the world leader.” She added: “These community-led approaches have made the UK the world leader for hate crime reporting. A quarter of all anti-LGBT hate crime reports in UK are made in London and the city has more hate crime reports each year than the whole of the US.”

Fiyaz Mughal, who founded interfaith group Faith Matters, which runs Tell Mama, said: “There is a real problem with this, since singular reporting points do not work well and where implemented, anti-Muslim hate figures are extremely low. Furthermore, another number will confuse members of the public and, in relation to anti-Muslim hate, it is already difficult to report and this will add another layer of confusion. It will also segment data-collection.” According to the emails from Johnson’s office, the launch of the hotline will be announced during Hate Crime Awareness Week in October. A spokesperson for the mayor’s office for policing and crime said: “While there has been an increase in the reporting of hate crime, we know that these offences are still significantly under-reported and that is why the mayor is committed to making it easier for victims to come forward”.
The Guardian

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Germany introduces heavier penalties for racist criminals

Germany is introducing stricter laws on racist violence in response to a series of murders blamed on the neo-Nazi cell NSU. The amendments come amid a new wave of xenophobic attacks against refugees.

1/8/2015- The new laws, which go into force on Saturday, include granting greater powers to federal prosecutors in cases of "hate crimes," such as those committed with a racist motivation, and the introduction of heavier penalties for such offenses. According to information released by the German government, federal prosecutors will also be able to intervene earlier in investigations of crimes where racism or xenophobia are suspected to have been in play. They will also have the power to launch joint operations in cases where there are disputes between German states as to who is responsible for an investigation. The amendments were based on recom-mendations made by a parliamentary committee set up to look into mistakes made during investigations into a series of 10 murders alleged to have been carried out by a neo-Nazi cell, the "National Socialist Underground" (NSU), between 2000 and 2007. Nine people with a migrant background were among the victims. Police and intelligence agencies have been accused of being too slow to look for perpetrators from the far-right scene, initially assuming that the murders had been carried out by Turkish organized crime organizations. Authorities were also criticized for failing to cooperate with one another effectively.

Rise in xenophobic violence
The changes come as Germany experiences a wave of xenophobic crime, with more than 200 refugee homes attacked in the first half of 2015. Speaking on Friday to the daily "Saarbrücker Zeitung," German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said there must be "zero tolerance" for such crimes. "Anyone who sets fire to refugee homes or attacks people who have lost everything in their native countries and are looking for shelter with us must feel the full weight of the law," Maas said. In further comments in an article written for the Madsack media group, Maas called the recent attacks on refugee housing in Germany a "disgraceful record." "Every attack on a refugee home is an attack on our society and on our fundamental order of freedom. For this reason, every form of xenophobia should be met by protest - the more decisive and loud, the better," he wrote, adding that attacks such as those in the cities of Mölln and Solingen 20 years ago should never be repeated. He said the legal reforms aimed to make federal prosecutors more alert to a possible racist or xenophobic motivation behind crimes. In the most recent attack on Thursday night, unknown assailants tried to set alight to an apartment building designated as refugee housing in the town of Lunzenau in Saxony. They succeeded in burning the hedge around the property and broke several windows.
The Deutsche Welle.

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Germany: Berlin Landmark Daubed With Anti-Semitic Graffiti

1/8/2015- Berlin police say a well-known city landmark has been defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti in an incident that comes as thousands of Jewish athletes are in the German capital for the European Maccabi Games. Police said Saturday that an anti-Semitic slogan was found written Friday afternoon on part of the East Side Gallery, a section of the Berlin Wall that was painted by artists after the barrier between East and West Berlin was opened. The defaced section was the painting "Vaterland" or "Fatherland" — a work by artist Guenther Schaefer showing the Jewish star of David in the middle of the German flag. Police say they currently have no suspects. It's also not known whether the incident is connected with Berlin's hosting of the Maccabi Games, Europe's largest Jewish sporting event.
The Associated Press

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