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Headlines 28 October, 2016

Headlines 21 October, 2016

Headlines 14 October, 2016

Headlines 28 October, 2016

Germany: Onlookers encouraged migrant teen’s fatal jump

22/10/2016- Onlookers apparently shouted “Jump!” before a teenage migrant leapt from an apartment block in an eastern German town, suffering fatal injuries, the mayor said Saturday. Officers were called to the building in Schmoelln on Friday afternoon by the caregiver for a group of young migrants, who reported that a 17-year-old Somali boy was acting violently, police said. When they arrived, he was sitting on a fifth-floor window ledge. Police and fire officers tried to persuade the teenager not to jump, but he leapt and died shortly afterward of his injuries. “There is information that some ... onlookers spent a long time watching this incident and there were apparently shouts like ‘go on, jump!,’” Mayor Sven Schrade said. “One can only condemn something like this,” he added. “If someone takes it as an experience like a movie and then thinks they have to shout encouragement too, that’s an unbelievable act.”

A county official, Matthias Bergmann, said some people apparently took photos from nearby balconies during the incident, local broadcaster MDR reported. A police report issued shortly before Schrade spoke to reporters did not mention either the alleged goading or the photos. MDR said that the boy had been living in the area since April and had returned earlier Friday to the apartment in Schmoelln, shared with other young migrants, from a week at a psychiatric clinic. It said he had been suffering from depression. Germany saw some 890,000 migrants arrive last year, and anti-migrant sentiment grew amid the influx.
© The Associated Press


Scotland: Anti-racism group to set up after neo-Nazi gig 'win'

22/10/2016- The Hope Not Hate anti racism group is setting up a dedicated Scottish branch following a successful campaign to prevent a notorious neo-Nazi rock band playing north of the border. The Sunday Herald revealed last week that Bound for Glory, a US white power thrash metal outfit known for performing in front of giant swastikas, was due to play their first UK gig in Falkirk. But the organiser, who had attempted to keep the concert secret, cancelled the event citing “travel concerns” following protests led by campaign group Hope Not Hate, which included nearly 1,800 supporters in Scotland emailing their MPs to flag up their unease. In the wake of the huge outcry, Scotland’s Justice Secretary Michael Matheson also said he was “considering every option” to prevent the band visiting Scotland, including writing to the UK Home Secretary to ask her to deny the band entry to the UK.

Now Nick Lowles, the founder of Hope Not Hate, has revealed plans to build on the support shown last week and set up an autonomous branch of the organisation in Scotland. A series of meetings will be held to discuss how this can be organised and what particular issues is should focus on north of the border. Lowles said: “It was clear to us there was concern about the gig and lots of our supporters wanted to do something, and it seemed an opportune moment to organise meetings in Scotland and find out from our supporters what they think we should be campaigning on. “What we want to do is set up an organisation in Scotland which runs itself and it has its own priorities. “For us, this seems like a good time to do this – hopefully we will get a steering committee of different supporters from different parts of Scotland who can meet and liaise with us in London and at the same time take a lead on the issues they think are important.”

An email sent to supporters north of the border asking them to express interest in becoming involved, notes that Scotland has not experienced the same levels of racist attacks since the EU referendum as England. But it adds: “Problems still exist and these are likely to grow as the economy struggles with Brexit and people become more economically insecure and pessimistic. “We have to do more to tackle racism now. We also need to be ready in case there is an upsurge in racism and hate over the coming years.” Lowles said Scotland did not have the same the level of organisation of far-right groups as in England, for example, but there was concern around issues such as the potential for racism to increase, particularly in the wake of the EU poll.

He said: “What we are finding is that across the UK there is growing concern about Brexit and what that means and the potential for division in communities. “The other thing we are finding – it is anecdotally, but we are hearing many stories of it – is trouble concerning school age kids and we are looking at what we can do at a school level with young people. “We have all been complacent that with demographic changes young people are more tolerant.” More than 500 tickets had been sold for the Bound for Glory concert. The band has in the past voiced support for British Nazi group Combat 18 and glorified Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh in the song Time Bomb. If the gig had taken place on October 22 as planned, it would have been the largest white power concert ever to happen in Scotland.
© The Herald Scotland


Headlines 21 October, 2016

Armed men attack migrant boat, killing at least four

Armed men have attacked a boat carrying migrants off Libya, leaving at least four dead and 15 missing, German NGO Sea-Watch said on Friday.

21/10/2016- The assailants arrived aboard a vessel with Libyan coastguard insignia, and beat the migrants with clubs, sending many of them into the water, a Sea-Watch spokesman said. The group said the Italian coastguard had sent a Seawatch rescue ship and a diverted oil tanker to help a dinghy in distress in international waters, 14 nautical miles off Libya, early on Friday. As the operation was unfolding, assailants arrived aboard a vessel with Libyan coastguard insignia and tried to steal the dinghy's motor, a spokesman for Sea-Watch said. The men, who spoke only Arabic, beat some of the migrants with clubs, causing panic which caused most of them to fall into the sea, the spokesman said.

Sea-Watch said it had rescued 120 out of the estimated 150 people onboard. Its team recovered four bodies but saw other corpses in the water that could not be retrieved. They estimate that between 15 and 25 are missing, the group said. The Italian coastguard confirmed that the rescue vessel SeaWatch2 rescued 120 people before dawn on Friday, but gave no further details. According to the UN, at least 3,654 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean this year. Attempts at the dangerous crossing are continuing despite worsening weather as winter approaches, with more than 2,400 migrants rescued off Libya in total since Sunday. The Italian interior ministry said Tuesday that more than 145,000 migrants had landed in Italy so far this year, a figure similar to that of the previous two years.


France: National Front posts locations of migrants in French town

A local branch of France’s far right National Front party has prompted anger by posting the addresses of where migrants are staying in a town in south west France.

21/10/2016- Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far right National Front, is doing her best to steer clear of controversy and negative headlines, but one of her minions obviously did not get the message. The Hautes-Pyrénées branch of the National Front has undermined Le Pen’s attempts to make her and her party seem less extreme by posting on Facebook the addresses of where some 250 migrants are being lodged in the Catholic pilgrimage town of Lourdes. The post was uploaded on October 17 to denounce the “outrageous camouflage by authorities” around the arrival "of 250 illegal immigrants in Lourdes who will be housed, fed and cared for, for free or even at the taxpayer’s expense".

It has since been taken down. Perhaps that had something to do with the racist and hateful comments below the post. “The Pyrenees does not want Islamist invaders, we will do everything to turn them away. All these wild animals, they disgust me. They are garbage on French soil," read one. The author of the post, Olivier Monteil, secretary of the department’s branch of the National Front, included a list of homes or lodgings where refugees were to stay as well as the telephone number of the local reception centre for asylum seekers in Lourdes. While the house numbers were apparently blurred out, the street names were not. He also suggested the local police had been told not to intervene if there were any serious incidents involving the asylum seekers and refugees and to just a keep a record of incidents.

Local authority chiefs in the Hautes Pyrenees department rubbished that claim and said the figures quoted in the Facebook post were wrong, insisting that there would be only 108 places for refugees and asylum seekers in Lourdes. Monteil defended his action saying: “I wanted to give the local people of Lourdes information about the migrants that are being hidden in the local population.” “They are paying their taxes, so why should it all be hidden,” he told BFM TV. “They occupy social lodging that should be reserved for French people. “There may be terrorists hiding among them.” He said his beef was with the local authorities and not the migrants themselves. His post ended with the words “Marine, come quickly, really quickly” in reference to the party leader, who is hoping to defy the odds and be elected French president next year.

The charity France Terre d’Asile, which provides help to migrants and refugees in France, has lodged a formal complaint with police accusing the National Front of “an attack on someone’s private life and divulging information that endangers residents.” The incident in Lourdes comes at a time when there is tension in the many towns and villages around France that are to host groups of migrants moved from the Jungle camp in Calais, which faces demolition. Some lodgings have been targeted by arsonists, while one was sprayed with bullets. There have been demonstrations in many towns against the government’s decision to move migrants around France.
© The Local - France


Bulgaria: Anti-Refugee Protests Planned in Cities

Bulgarian right-wingers plan 'peaceful' protests against refugees and migrants for Friday night in the cities of Sofia, Burgas, Yambol and Varna.

21/10/2016- Bulgarian right-wingers will protest on Friday in four major cities, demanding the total exclusion of refugees and migrants, closure of all current refugee centres, a ban on the opening of new ones as well as a halt to all financial or integration aid for asylum seekers. The planned rallies follow a series of protests organized recently by two ultra-nationalist formations – the National Resistance Movement, linked to the international neo-Nazi political network, Blood and Honour, and the “Civil Squadrons for the Protection of Women and Faith,” founded by Petar Nizamov. The self-styled migrant hunter gained international notoriety after publishing a video of three Afghan migrants he had "captured" on April 10.

According to the rally organizers, the centre-right government of Boyko Borissov is doing nothing to protect the country’s border with Turkey, and Bulgaria’s very existence has been put at risk. “We have to be more serious and well prepared,” the National Resistance Movement said on Facebook ahead of Friday’s protests, claiming plans were afoot to turn Bulgaria into a “dumping ground for human trash”. In another Facebook post on the march in Sofia, hosted by Nizamov’s “civil squadrons”, the organizers warned that unless their demands were met within two weeks, they will start actions to bring down the government. They have also called for volunteers to participate in civil patrols, guarding areas of Sofia which are populated with migrants, and patrol the border with Turkey.

Nizamov was detained in April and indicted for the illegal arrest of three Afghan men, which he filmed and published on social networks. He was put under house arrest on April 15, but in July he was released on bail by the regional court in the city of Burgas. Since then, he has actively engaged in anti-migrant activism, organizing rallies and joining the Fortress Europe international movement of Tatiana Festerling, former leader of the German anti-Islamic organization, PEGIDA. After joining a protest in front of a refugee centre in Sofia in September 18, he became one of the main organizers of an anti-refugee rally, held together with the National Resistance Movement, on October 7. Over 300 people gathered at the rally, some wearing clothes with the symbols of Blood and Honour, banned in Russia, Germany and Spain, who shouted slogans such as “Death to the migrants” and “Bulgaria belongs to Bulgarians”.

On November 9, 2013, on the anniversary of the infamous Kristallnacht in Nazi Germany, the National Resistance Movement, together with the Bulgarian branch of Blood and honour and other radical formations registered a political party, but, in 2014 the registration of the party was withdrawn following protests by human rights groups. Although the organizers of Friday’s protests have called for peaceful rallies, police in Sofia on Thursday declared special security measures in the central parts of the capital to prevent people who have used alcohol or drugs or are carrying arms from joining the protesters.
© Balkan Insight


Czech Rep: No Arrests After Romani Man Beaten to Death

21/10/2016- The ERRC has learned that no suspects have been detained, nor have the police pressed charges after a Romani man was killed in a pizzeria in Žatec on 18th October. The details of the tragic events are not certain and eye-witness accounts are conflicting. However, it is established that at around 19:00 on Tuesday 18th, a 27 year old Romani man was involved in a fight at a pizzeria involving other customers and the police. The man is reported to have been acting strangely, and was harassing female customers which resulted a fight breaking out between himself and others. Witnesses say at least some of his 4 or more attackers seemed to be trained in martial arts and severely beat him. It is not clear whether his attackers were employees, customers or both.

The police arrived at the scene and allegedly beat the Romani man further, or at the very least failed to protect the man from his attackers, at which point he collapsed to the floor and was restrained by officers. A witness has come forward saying that at this point: "As the police were trying to put the man on the ground, the other attackers were jumping on him, they were hitting him in front of the police. I don’t know if the attackers were customers, they were just ordinary guys. There was verbal abuse also, they shouted: ‘you black fucker’". A video taken by an eyewitness has emerged online and shows the aftermath of the attacks. The footage is unclear, but the plaintive cries of the man lying in agony on the floor of the pizzeria can be distinctly heard, and the police officer holding him pinned to the ground can be plainly seen. The victim died shortly after collapsing and a police officer can be seen performing chest compressions on the Romani man in an attempt to resuscitate him after he stopped breathing.

According to a statement made by the Head of the Municipal Police on 20th October, the investigation is ongoing. In a statement made by the State Police on the same day, it emerged that no one has been detained for questioning, and they have not yet pressed charges against any of the attackers. A Police spokesperson also confirmed that the officers collected video evidence of the incident at the time. Meanwhile, the autopsy report released today has found that the death of the Romani man was not caused by any third party intervention of the assailants or police officers. In the last few days, over a hundred Roma have held commemorative protests at the site of the young Romani man’s death.

The ERRC are monitoring and investigating this case further to ensure that justice and the due process of the law are followed. The events are uncertain, but based on what evidence there is, the authorities must consider the widespread presence of anti-Gypsyism in the Czech Republic and possible racist motivations during the investigation of the police officers and civilian attackers. “Roma lives matter just as much as non-Roma, but our experience has shown us that when Roma die, police do not always investigate the case without prejudice and consider racial motivation. We will be monitoring the response from police authorities to ensure this is handled correctly.” said ERRC President, Dorde Jovanovic.
© European Roma Rights Center


Finland: Neo-Nazi payment services interrupted after Yle report

The neo-Nazi Finnish Resistance Movement has new payment arrangements following an Yle report that the organisation was using an online service owned by Osuuspankki. The bank conducted an investigation and later that day the service was not in use by FRM. The bank declined to comment on individual customers, but said incitement to ethnic hatred is not compatible with its values.

20/10/2016- A neo-Nazi organisation has apparently had service denied by its online payment services provider Checkout after reporting on the matter by Yle's Finnish language service. Yle reported on Wednesday that the Finnish Resistance Movement (FRM) was using a payment platform owned by Osuuspankki (OP), one of the biggest banks in Finland. The platform could be used to pay for white nationalist merchandise and even for FRM membership. Shortly after the report was published, one of the bank's executives thanked the company for bringing the matter to light and said that the issue was under investigation. Later that day, the payment service was no longer in use on the FRM website. While the bank declined to comment on individual customers, the firm's official Twitter account announced that the report had been completed. Shortly afterwards OP's head of communications Carina Geber-Teir said on Twitter that "we don't accept incitement to ethnic hatred, it's completely against OP's values". The CEO of Checkout, Masa Peura, had earlier told Yle that his firm followed the regulations governing the sector in Finland, and declined to comment on individual customers. Checkout is the leading online payment services provider in Finland, serving thousands of businesses.
© YLE News.


Netherlands: Three men arrested for anti-gay leaflet, but have they committed an offense?

20/10/2016- Three men have been arrested and released in connection with the distribution of anti-gay leaflets in western districts of Amsterdam earlier this week. One of the men is a 39-year-old Rotterdammer. The other two are 29 and come from The Hague. They were arrested on the basis of surveillance camera footage. According to the police, they have admitted producing and distributing the flyers. No other information about the men has been released. Whether the men face charges or not depends on if the public prosecution department decides the leaflets should be treated as a criminal offence. They told police the aim of the leaflets – which state that homosexuality is banned in Islam, Christianity and Judaism – was to ‘start a discussion’
© The Dutch News


Netherlands: VVD well ahead of PVV in new poll, other parties stable

19/10/2016- The ruling VVD would be the biggest party in parliament if there was a general election tomorrow, according to a new poll from Kantar TNS, formerlly TNS Nipo. The poll gives the right-wing Liberals 27 seats in the 150 seat parliament, or 18% of the vote. Geert Wilders’ anti-Islam PVV, which was on target to win 29 seats in the September poll, has now slumped to 23. In June, Nipo put support for the PVV as high as 36 seats, or 24% support. The middle ground is still held by the Liberal Democrats (D66), Socialists and Christian Democrats on 18 and 16 seats respectively. The poll also shows that social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher is a more popular Labour leader than the job’s current incumbent Diederik Samsom. Asscher said on Monday he would challenge Samsom for the top job. However, the difference is not great – 5.1 compared with 5.9 – and Labour finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem is the top rated government minister, with 6.4. The Netherlands will elect a new government in March 2017.
© The Dutch News


Hit List for Twitter Trolls Shut Down After Forward Report

19/10/2016- Less than a week after the Forward broke the news about the existence of an online neo-Nazi hit list, the provider hosting the website suspended the account. The page with the deceptively innocent name “Jews in Modern Society” listed names, photos and professions of almost 400 Jews from academia, social-activism, the financial world and left-wing politics. “That site violated our terms of service and was disabled,” David Saxton, a spokesperson for Yola, told the Forward. Yola is a website builder and hosting company that is similar to Wordpress. Users can build a free website in a couple of minutes using the company’s templates. Saxon wouldn’t give any additional information about how long Yola had hosted “Jews in Modern Society” before they shut it down this week. Until recently, the mission statement of the site complained that “Jews have had over 100 years of unrestricted immigration into the USA. They now permeate Academic, Activist, Financial and Corporate institutions to the detriment of Western Society.”

The online directory included publicly known Jews, like Democratic mega-donor, George Soros; the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, Jonathan Greenblatt; Human Rights Watch Director Kenneth Roth, or Steven Julop, the mayor of Jersey City. But they also listed lesser-known people, like an activist for Black Lives Matter (with the added explanation that she was raised Jewish), several British rabbis who are helping Syrian refugees, and even a woman who complained publicly that LEGO wasn’t culturally diverse enough. Twitter suspended two accounts - “@ajoccidental” and “@skype_directory” – linked to the website or promoting its content before our original article appeared. This summer, a Hitler-inspired “Trump Youth”-homepage was disabled two days after the Forward reported about it.
© The Forward


Ireland: Racism and poverty affect Roma lives in Ireland, report finds

Minister of State David Stanton says members of community are ‘valued’ in the State

19/10/2016- Roma people are “valued here in Ireland” and they should be proud of their heritage, Minister of State for Equality David Stanton has said. Speaking at the publication of a report on Roma lives – which underlines the isolation and poverty many Roma families experience - Mr Stanton said he wanted Roma to feel “fully part of the society here”. Sergiu Pruteanu, one of the report’s researchers, described Mr Stanton’s comments as “huge for our community”. It was the “first time” in more than 25 years that a politician had “come to us to tell us we are welcome,” he said. The report , Proiectos Romano, is one of the first conducted by Roma researchers on their community.

Drawing on detailed interviews of 30 Roma households in the Balbriggan area of county Dublin, it found almost half (46 per cent) of the respondents spoke no or very little English, while almost two thirds (64 per cent) read or spoke only basic English. The average time respondents had lived here was 12 years, yet 75 per cent had huge difficulties writing in English. Some 90 per cent of respondents were unemployed. “Before migrating to Ireland the most common job held by Roma women was selling items at local markets...among men [IT]was working on construction sites.” Obstacles to getting work, identified by respondents were language difficulties (73 per cent), racism (33 per cent) and childcare expenses (30 per cent).

While almost all (93 per cent) had attended school, five years was the average length of time in education. Some 14 per cent had either not been to school at all or had been for a year or less, while 55 per cent had been only to primary school and 10 per cent to secondary school. The report said the vast majority (83 per cent) would like to return to study with most saying they would like English classes. Obstacles to studying were language barriers (66 per cent), racism (52 per cent) and childcare costs (45 per cent). Roma children, however, are well integrated into the school system and happy here, they said. More than three quarters (77 per cent) said they have experienced racism in Ireland but 90 per cent said they would not report incidents to gardaí.

Mr Stanton said he wanted to work with Roma communities “to emphasise the good and the positives” and help Irish people get to know them. “Unfortunately...racism and discrimination are often based on fear and ignorance. Sometimes it is easier for people who are afraid of something they don’t understand to strike out and say or do something nasty, rather than risk getting to know someone new,” he said. It was important that Roma people were heard so authorities could work with them, and that they get involved in their communities, where they could, the report says. The key issue, it adds, was “racism” which “permeates every single aspect of Roma respondents’ [LIVES]in Ireland – from accessing employment to walking down the streets...Racism needs major attention”.
© The Irish Times.


How Hungary and Poland Have Silenced Women and Stifled Human Rights

In the women’s movement in Central Europe, there are few moments to celebrate.
by Andrea Peto and Weronika Grzebalska

18/10/2016- Polish women successfully preventing a total ban on abortion from coming into law recently was one of them. While we may praise the success of Polish women’s “black protest” – where women across the country went on strike and dressed in black to mourn the loss of their reproductive rights – one troubling question remains unanswered. Why did an EU member state even consider forcing women to carry deformed fetuses and imprisoning doctors for terminating pregnancies? The popular view voiced by the Polish opposition – that the governing Law and Justice Party (PiS) wants to bring back the Middle Ages – is insufficient. It relies on the “backlash” narrative of women’s emancipation, which sees nations making linear progress towards equality, interrupted by setbacks that can be overcome by joint action. Luckily, joint action worked in this case. But if progressive groups do not understand the new challenges posed to women’s rights by the illiberal states of Central Europe, future progress may be elusive.

The Polypore State
In recent years, Hungary and Poland have experienced a series of radical institutional changes aimed at a second transition from liberal to illiberal democracy. The emergent regimes of Viktor Orbán in Hungary and Beata Szyd³o in Poland do not represent a revival of authoritarianism, but a new form of governance. This new system stems from the failures of globalisation and neoliberalism, which created states that are weak for the strong, and strong for the weak. To describe the modus operandi of these new regimes, we have coined a new term: the “polypore” state. A polypore is a parasitic fungus that feeds on rotting trees, contributing to their decay. In the same way, the governments of Poland and Hungary feed on the vital resources of their liberal predecessors, and produce a fully dependent state structure in return. This style of government involves appropriating the institutions, mechanisms and funding channels of the European liberal democratic project.

One widely publicised example in Hungary was a controversial 2011 anti-abortion poster campaign. The campaign was launched as part of a government work-life balance project and as such was funded from the EU employment and social solidarity program, ironically called PROGRESS. The “polypore state” divests resources from the already existing secular and modernist civil society sector towards the illiberal base, to secure and enlarge it. This year in Poland, the Ministry of Justice denied funding to several progressive women’s and children’s rights NGOs. As noted by the Commissioner for Human Rights, the funds were instead granted to Catholic organisations such as Caritas. Just as the polypore fungus usually attacks already damaged trees, illiberal regimes rise to power in the context of democratic standards weakened by the financial, security and migration crises.

In Central Europe, post-1989 regime transformation gave preference to economic reform measures over civic and social ones. Liberal norms and practices have never been fully embedded in these societies. This creates a paradoxical situation where illiberal forces have flourished amid an unfinished liberal revolution. There are three key tenets of this type of government that need to be understood to account for its success: parallel civil society, security narratives, and the family.

Parallel Civil Society
The goal of illiberal regimes in Central Europe is to transform post-communist infrastructure to benefit the new ruling elite and its voter base. The key aspect of this transformation is replacing previous civil society and human rights organisations with pro-government NGOs, which support the state’s agenda. While the new groups seemingly have the same profile and target group as the previous ones, they operate within a blatantly different framework that is predominantly religious and anti-modernist. For instance, there are two key women’s NGOs in Hungary that deal with the role of fathers  in families and work-life balance: the long-established, liberal Jol-let and the newly founded, conservative Harom Kiralyfi. Recently only the latter has received signficant state funding for its projects. Thus the NGO sector is transformed by the distribution of EU and state funding to groups that share the governments’ ideology, leaving progressive organisations reliant on increasingly scarce foreign donations and largely unable to influence domestic policy.

Security Narratives
To legitimise their disregard for a plural civil society, illiberal governments use the language of security. Human rights groups are framed as foreign-steered and potentially  dangerous for national sovereignty. Gender equality, open society and minority rights are portrayed as an existential threat to the survival of the nation. In 2013, Orbán ordered an investigation into certain Norwegian-funded NGOs, including the Roma Press Centre and Women for Women against Violence, which were accused of being “paid political activists who are trying to help foreign interests”. The investigation has since been resolved, but not without significant damage being inflicted on many NGOs. In this context, human rights issues become depoliticised – and advocacy groups are presented as state enemies rather than democratic adversaries.

Privileging Family Over Women’s Rights
Hungary and Poland use nationalist ideas about the family to attack human rights, emphasising the rights and interests of “traditional” families over those of individuals and minorities. Fidesz and PiS, the Hungarian and Polish ruling parties respectively, have both introduced the concept of “family mainstreaming” as central to their policy making. In EU and UN policy literature, family mainstreaming is presented as a tool to identify the impact of policies on families and strengthen the functions of the family. In the hands of illiberal actors, it’s become an alternative to women’s rights and an instrument for promoting “traditional” values. Women’s issues are gradually substituted with family issues, and institutions responsible for gender equality are replaced with ones dealing with family and demography. In Hungary, the highest coordinating government body for gender equality, the Council of Equal Opportunity of Men and Women, has not convened since 2010, and its portfolio has been delegated to the Demographic Roundtable.

This is Not a Backlash
If not properly recognised, illiberal states can have seriously detrimental consequences for the rights of women and minorities. When the state appropriates previously existing democratic structures, it shuts down opportunities for resistance. Underfunded, demonised, and operating outside a system of liberal checks and balances, feminists and progressive NGOs are unable to influence government policy through previously existing channels – advocacy, consultations or media. Illiberalism is not a backlash, after which one can go back to business as usual, but a new form of governance. Sadly, this means the recent success of the women’s protests in Poland might be impossible to sustain.
Andrea Peto is a professor of Gender Studies, Central European University and Weronika Grzebalska is a PhD candidate in Sociology, Graduate School for Social Research, Polish Academy of Sciences.
© Transitions Online.


Swiss students: Austrian far- right politician 'not welcome'

A group of students and professors at the Graduate Institute Geneva (IHEID) has demanded it refuse to host a debate about migration with Austrian far-right presidential candidate Norbert Hofer on the panel, saying it should not “give a platform” to his views.

18/10/2016- The debate, scheduled for Thursday evening on the IHEID campus, is entitled ‘Can Europe’s politicians solve the migration crisis?’ and is organized in association with The Europaeum, an association of ten European universities. As well as Hofer, the panel will include former president of the EU Commission José Manuel Barroso, the former foreign minister of the Czech Republic, Karel, Prince of Schwarzenburg, and Carol Batchelor, representative of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Hofer is the presidential candidate for the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ), which is known for its anti-immigration stance. He was narrowly defeated in Austria’s presidential election in May. But the result was annulled over claims of electoral fraud and irregularities in the vote, and Hofer is standing again in the re-run, due to take place on December 4th. If he wins, he will be Europe’s first far-right head of state since 1945.

In an open letter to the IHEID, 110 students, alumni and professors pointed out that Hofer is associated with “numerous far-right groups and their causes, including Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and homophobia”. Inviting him to speak at the institute “gives credence to his opinions and will serve to mainstream and normalize xenophobic and racist views,” it said. Hofer’s presence at the IHEID would be “at odds with the very values of our institution,” said the students, calling for it to “set an example and not act as a platform for those responsible for promulgating opinions that have very real negative impacts on the lives of minorities in the European continent”. The objectors also expressed their concern that, at the time of writing the letter, no-one with expertise on migration was due to sit on the panel. However the UNHCR’s Batchelor confirmed her presence on Monday.

Speaking to the Tribune de Genève, Philippe Burrin, director of the IHEID, agreed that “what Mr Hofer represents is in contradiction with the values of the institute”. However he recognized the growth of populist parties in Europe and said the debate was a chance to discuss the questions that arise from their immigration policy. “To cancel this round table reinforces the idea of a plot led by the establishment. It’s better to listen to Norbert Hofer and contradict him,” he said.
© The Local - Switzerland


Swiss Authorities investigate extreme right rock concert

Officials have promised to look into how a controversial concert featuring Swiss and German far-right rock bands took place this weekend in eastern Switzerland. The local official who approved the concert licence says he was tricked.

17/10/2016- The police said around 5,000 people attended the “Rocktoberfest” concert at the Unterwasser tennis hall in canton St Gallen on Saturday, with people reportedly travelling on buses from Germany and as far as the Netherlands and Russia. The concert featured German rock bands Stahlgewitter, Frontalkraft, Exzess, Makss Damage and Swiss group Amok, which are well known for their extreme right-wing lyrics. In a statement the anti-fascist group Antifa described the concert as the ‘one of the biggest Neonazi events that has ever taken place in Switzerland’. It claimed the organisers were from the international white supremacist group "Blood & Honour", which is banned in several countries.

The local police, which was present outside the hall, said the event went ahead without incident, with everything organised in an “exemplary" fashion, from parking to the clean up. However, Rolf Züllig, the communal president of Wildhaus-Alt St. Johann, denied the local commune had given its approval to Rocktoberfest, which had initially been advertised on social media in southern Germany. “We were completely deceived," Züllig told Swiss public radio, SRF. “The organiser said they wanted to hold a concert with five or six young Swiss bands and 600 spectators." Officials want to know if the words sung during the concert violated anti-racism standards. "If we had known that the event was linked to right-wing extremists, we would never have granted a licence," said Züllig. He said the local authority was examining whether to pursue legal proceedings against the person who applied for the licence. The communal government has also contacted the public prosecutor's office.

The Swiss Foundation against Racism and Anti-Semitism (GRA) announced on Tuesday that it had filed a legal complaint against the bands and the concert organisers for violation of Swiss anti-rascism law. The Federal Intelligence Services (FIS) have no figures on the number of right-wing extremists in Switzerland. Their 2016 annual report says the situation is largely calm but the potential for violence persists in both right-wing and left-wing extremist circles, In 2015, there were 28 incidents connected with violent right-wing extremism and 199 incidents connected with violent left-wing extremism of which the FIS is aware.
© Swiss Info


Denmark: Anti-migrant sentiment lifts right-wing

17/10/2016- In Denmark, policies aimed at deterring the arrival of asylum seekers -- by making the country less hospitable -- appear to be working. And yet that slowing hasn't stopped the country from turning more to the right, in a dramatic reaction to the Middle East migration crisis. Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports from Copenhagen.

From Thisted in Northwest Denmark, Malcolm Brabant reports.

MALCOLM BRABANT: In a small town 250 miles from cosmopolitan Copenhagen, the new Party of the Danes is distributing what it calls asylum spray, ostensibly as a defense against potential immigrant sex attackers. The campaign has been condemned as provocative and xenophobic. Nonetheless, the spray finds several takers.
WOMAN (through translator): It’s my daughter that needs it, the way Danish society is at the moment.
CAMILLE FEMHOEJ (through translator): They can’t just come here and do whatever they want, like staring at girls in nightclubs and stuff. They shouldn’t be allowed do that.

MALCOLM BRABANT: The spray was conceived by party leader Daniel Carlsen, who admits denying the Holocaust as a teenager, and is now trying to win support to run for Parliament.
IB NIELSEN: I think we have too many people in Denmark from Arab countries. I don’t like it. I don’t like Muslims.

MALCOLM BRABANT: This region of Denmark is fertile ground for the right. And even though the cans only contain hair spray, the symbolism touches a chord.
PERNILLE TOPHUS (through translator): You never know what can happen. Just a month ago, I was followed home on my bike.

MALCOLM BRABANT: Organizations like the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees think what you’re doing is disgusting. What’s your response?
DANIEL CARLSEN, Leader, Party of the Danes: They are working for and promoting an invasion to Europe, an invasion that, by time, will replace the indigenous Europeans here with people from the non-Western world. I think that is disgusting. And what their politics are resulting in, we see that in Europe every day now. We see rapes, like the incidents in Cologne. We have seen terror attacks in Brussels, in Paris, in Copenhagen, and that’s only the last year.

MALCOLM BRABANT: In an increasingly hostile atmosphere, Syrian musician Nour Amora has found acceptance. We met Amora just over a year ago, as the Danish government slashed welfare benefits for refugees in an attempt to make the country less attractive to asylum seekers.
NOUR AMORA: I make this concert to know the people, to know the artists, the musicians, to make something with them, to work, yes. I don’t come to Denmark to sleep.

MALCOLM BRABANT: Amora has been true to his word. He supports himself and his small family with two jobs. And on this day, he was entertaining schoolchildren and educating them about the war in Syria. Music has opened doors that are closed to other refugees.
NOUR AMORA (through translator): I tell my friends that now it is not good to come to Denmark because of the government, but if you do come, you will find that the Danish people are really nice.

MALCOLM BRABANT: Singer Leila Rong Hanna was born in Denmark. She has Syrian and Norwegian heritage, but has dissuaded relatives in Damascus and the Syrian port of Latakia from fleeing to Europe.
LEILA RONG HANNA, Singer: Because this is not the perfect life you get. It’s quite difficult, not only the journey, if you survive in the journey, but also when you come here. It’s quite uphill.

MALCOLM BRABANT: That’s music to the ears of many at the Danish Parliament, because it’s a sign that the country’s policies are working. One of the most satisfied is Martin Henriksen of the anti-immigrant Danish People’s Party, whose support keeps the center-right government in power.
MARTIN HENRIKSEN, Danish People’s Party: Well, last year, about 20,000 asylum seekers come to Denmark. And this year, we expected 10,000. This year, we are about around 5,000 at this time. But 5,000 is still too high. We want to — actually, in the perfect world, we want to reduce the numbers, so that nobody will come to Denmark as an asylum seeker. So we’re not quite there yet.

MALCOLM BRABANT: But Peter Christensen’s recently constituted New Right Party claims it’s even tougher on immigration. It’s attracted significant support in recent surveys after pledging to stop immigration altogether, instantly deport foreigners convicted of crimes, take Denmark out of the U.N. Refugee Convention and ban head scarves in schools and public offices. Critics fear this swing to the right is reminiscent of 1930s Europe.
PETER CHRISTENSEN, New Right Party: I can’t see how that should compare to the situation in the ’30s, with the discrimination of the Jews, aggressive nations attacking each other in the ’40s, the Holocaust. There’s no comparison whatsoever. What we’re talking about is, we want to implement a foreign policy that has been normal until 40, 50 years ago. It’s not — nobody has the right to come to Denmark. They have right now because we are in the conventions. But, I mean, morally, nobody has the right to come to Denmark. It’s not like we are expelling any people. We’re just saying we want to have control of who comes into our country.

MALCOLM BRABANT: Denmark’s deterrence of asylum seekers has enabled it to it close 17 refugee centers, including this one in a former psychiatric hospital. The policies worry not only people fleeing violence in the Middle East. Chen Man is concerned about the time it’s taking to process her asylum application. She spent seven years in jail in China for belonging to Falun Gong, the outlawed spiritual movement.
CHEN MAN, Chinese Asylum Seeker: I feel, like, worried, because I feel, like, unstable for my security. I need a kind of protection from the nation. But if I cannot have, the risk of myself is going back to China and facing the imprisonment again.

MALCOLM BRABANT: Chen Man believes Denmark’s hostility towards asylum seekers is a sign of weakness.
CHEN MAN: Yes, this is not the way to resolve the problem. And it’s also a kind of way to show the fear inside, because if you are strong enough, you can handle that without building up a wall, but a bridge.

MALCOLM BRABANT: So what’s the source of Denmark’s right turn? Is it from the population or political ideology? (Nils Holtug is the director of migration studies at Copenhagen University.)
NILS HOLTUG, University of Copenhagen: I think, to some extent, politicians have probably been responding to what are real worries amongst Danes. But they have also been driving those worries, so — especially the Danish People’s Party, but also some of the new parties that are coming up now. I think the Dane Party is very worrying. And it was established by former members of a Nazi movement in Denmark. So I’m actually quite worried about that.

MALCOLM BRABANT: But you were a National Socialist before? DANIEL CARLSEN: I’m a National Democrat.
MALCOLM BRABANT: But you were a National Socialist before. DANIEL CARLSEN: Before.
MALCOLM BRABANT: So, are you saying you’re a reformed National Socialist? DANIEL CARLSEN: No, I’m a National Democrat.
MALCOLM BRABANT: But you were a National Socialist — and that was the Nazi Party — before.

What’s happening in Denmark is consistent with a surge to the right across Europe. One of the more controversial pieces of legislation enacted here was the so-called jewelry law, which authorized the authorities to confiscate the assets of those migrants and refugees deemed wealthy enough to be able to pay for themselves, rather than relying on the state. Now, that law came into effect in February, and it’s only been used three times. Now, the Danish government may have attracted lots of international criticism for its methods, but ministers say that there are other European countries that are seeking their advice about how to reduce their numbers. With Syria still spinning out of control and Europe’s migration crisis showing no sign of abating, does Denmark feel the need to toughen its stance still further, a question for the government’s migration spokesman, Marcus Knuth.

MARCUS KNUTH, Liberal Party: Part of the reason why we have such a low influx of asylum seekers right now is also because of the E.U. deal with Turkey. If that deal breaks, if there’s more trouble in the Middle East and so forth, everything can change. So, right now, we’re happy that the situation seems to be under control. But there are so many factors out there that things can change.
MALCOLM BRABANT: A strong police presence forces refugee supporters to keep their distance from a monthly anti-Muslim demonstration. They demand asylum for all, while the right-wingers deplore the growth of Islam. The migration crisis is polarizing European society. Although the numbers prepared to demonstrate on the streets aren’t great, opinion polls show sentiments expressed at gatherings like this are gaining traction, not just in Denmark, but across the continent.
© PBS Newshour


Austria to tear down house where Hitler was born

Demolition ends five-year dispute with owner as building continued to be a shrine for neo-Nazis.

17/10/2016- The Austrian house where Adolf Hitler was born is set to be demolished to stop it becoming a place of pilgrimage for neo-Nazis. The building's future has been widely debated in Austria, with some calling for it to be torn down and others arguing it should have a change of use. Interior minister Wolfgang Sobotka said on Monday (17 October) a committee had decided on demolition, saying that "a thorough architectural remodeling is necessary to permanently prevent the recognition and the symbolism of the building". Ministry spokesman Karl-Heinz Grundboeck said that effectively means the house, in the western town of Braunau, will be replaced by a new structure, with its intended use likely to be for administrative or charitable purposes.

Hitler was born in the large yellow house on 20 April, 1889, a date that is one of celebration for far-right fanatics, the building has become an occasional place of pilgrimage for neo-Nazis. Sobotka said he wants to ensure that any association with Hitler be eliminated. The building has been lying empty since 2011 when the government became embroiled in a dispute with owner and local resident Gerlinde Pommer, who repeatedly refused to sell the building. It was unclear whether she changed her mind or if the government acted on plans to dispossess her.
© The International Business Times - UK


Opinion: Fight extremism with an online troll challenge

From forums to Facebook, hate is a part of digital life. How can we deal with trolling, racism and threats? Ignore it? Push back? Deactivate our accounts? DW'S Richard Fuchs thinks we should turn such trash into cash.

17/10/2016- As a political commentator, I belong to that privileged group of people who have their very own trolls. And, with a little luck, when I scroll down to the comments section of this article I will have something new from Wanda. My digital hate troll knows a lot about everything. He has an opinion on Putin and on the financial policies of Germany's government. And he is particularly strong opinions on refugees, immigration and Islam. That is when Wanda really gets going. Because he doesn't like those things, though he probably wouldn't put it that politely: He would employ hateful diatribe. Perhaps to provoke a tear from me, a member of the "lying" mainstream media. Wanda calls me the popular far-right term "Volxverräter" (traitor to the people) and homophobically a "multiculti f----t." I've come to the point where I can forgive Wanda his orthographic inadequacies. My troll and I have built a relationship. I know that he is there. He knows that I will stay. We share an aversion, but we also realize what we have with one other.

I don't know who Wanda is, but I have often thought about it. Perhaps he is a small-minded instigator who rages against foreigners online and then heads next door to the Turkish fast-food shop for a döner kebab between rants. But maybe Wanda is an adherent of the xenophobic Patriotic Europeans Against the "Islamization" of the West movement, or a recent convert to the right-wing Alternative for Germany, someone hoping to rid the country of all of the politicians, journalists, bankers and clerics - the "puppets of the system." Or maybe Wanda is just someone who recognizes that the anonymous freedom of the World Wide Web is a sign that the day of reckoning is upon us. If Wanda simply happens to be an algorithm programmed to spit out inflammatory slogans, then this particular internet being has taken on an astonishing independent existence.

Make loathing lucrative
This October 3, in Dresden, Germany celebrated the anniversary of its reunification; the event was supposed to be a day of joy for the country, Europe and the world. Instead, a cursing mob of fewer than 300 people turned it into a spectacle of hate and disrespect. It seems that the inhibitions of civility and decency are things of the predigital past. Lunatics regularly threaten violence, even death, on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The targets of these threats are mayors, refugee aid workers, politicians and volunteers. More and more, people feel no need to hide behind the mask of anonymity. Real names stand beside harassing comments and get likes by the thousands. Compared to that, things between Wanda and I are rather polite - so far at least. Yet nagging questions remain: Is this really what our digital future is supposed to look like? Do we have to strangle the exchange of ideas in discussion forums and comments sections in order to regain decency and manners? Or are there ways to put such digital anger back in the bottle?

In this instance it makes sense to look to those who have been dealing with slander, defamation and threats for a long time. EXIT-Germany, an initiative for people seeking to escape right-wing extremist movements, is one such group. The organizers recently turned a neo-Nazi march in Wunsiedel into a kind of charity run. Using the motto "Right Against Right," EXIT devised a system in which a fixed amount of money was donated for every meter that the neo-Nazis marched, and profits were then given to a project devoted to countering xenophobic ideologies. It is about time that even the evil that lurks on the internet finally bear good fruit. My suggestion: Public as well as private media outlets in Germany should turn their endless rivers of hate comments into wellsprings of donations, with every infraction against legal and cultural norms pegged at a set amount of money that would in turn be channeled toward projects devoted to our peaceful coexistence. Millions could be raised in short order, as sad as that is. Those who sow hate will reap good. Even if they don't want to.
© The Deutsche Welle*


Germany: Albanian Asylum-Seeker Numbers Rise Again

More Albanians are again seeking aslyum in Germany, a year after Berlin listed Albania as a 'safe country of origin', though overall numbers have fallen since 2015.

20/10/2016- The number of Albanians requesting asylum spiked once again in September, after numbers fell in the first part of 2016. A year exactly after Berlin acted to curb the numbers, by declaring Albania a safe country, the phenomenon of thousands people seeking asylum each month has started to emerge again. According to the EU statistics agency Eurostat, in September 2016, the number of Albanians seeking asylum to Germany rose to 2,250, the highest monthly figure this year. The number of Albanians seeking asylum in January 2016 was only 1,200. It dropped further in March to only 825. But numbers started to rise again in summer, hitting 1,390 in July, 1,635 in August and then 2,250 in September.

The total number seeking asylum in Germany from January to September was 11,895. However, during the same period of time in 2015, the number seeking asylum was 44,325, almost four times higher - which shows a sharp decline, year on year. Referring to the same Eurostat data, 890 citizens of Macedonia sought asylum in Germany in September for the first time, while 565 people from Kosovo did so. Roland Lami, a sociologist, and professor at the European University of Tirana, told BIRN that the difficult economic situation in Albanian was again driving people to go abroad at any cost, even if their chances of success in claiming asylum were near zero. "The instinct for survival is stronger than the power of reason. A large number of people in Albania live below the minimum conditions they need survive, so what is more important for them is to survive than calculate the chances of winning asylum rights in Germany," he said. "Escaping from misery is their main aim despite the costs and the risks that this journey has for them," he added.

One year ago, on October 24, 2015, Germany listed Albania as a safe country of origin, which meant that from then on it would refuse almost all asylum requests from that country. It has since returned tens of thousands of asylum-seekers to Albania. The German embassy in Tirana announced that 820 Albanian citizens were sent home only during June 2016, while the repatriation process continues. The Netherlands is the now second most popular country for Albanians seeking asylum. In the first nine months of 2016, according to Eurostat date, 1,360 Albanian citizens asked for asylum in Holland. The Dutch government is due to launch an awareness campaign in Albania to remind people that they cannot gain asylum in this country on economic or other invalid grounds. During 2016, according to the same data, the UK emerged as the third country of choice for Albanians.

During the nine first months of this year, 985 Albanians sought asylum in the UK. Most entered the country illegally, mainly through ports in France and The Netherlands. Iceland also emerged in 2016 as a destination for asylum-seekers from the Balkan countries. Some 140 citizens from Albania did so in the nine first months of this year, as did 45 Macedonians. Albanians started leaving the country en masse to ask for asylum in the second half of 2014, when the international crisis over migrants from the Middle East also began reaching its peak. Brussels has repeatedly told Kosovo and Albania to stop their nationals from heading into the EU for the purpose of lodging pointless asylum claims. However, while the issue is an irritant, it is dwarfed by the far bigger problem of mass migration from the Middle East and Africa. More than a million refugees entered Germany last year alone.
© Balkan Insight


Germany: Policeman dies dies of gun wound from far-right gunman

A German 32-year-old special forces officer has died of his wounds after being shot during a raid on the home of a man linked to a far-right movement.

20/10/2016- Four police were wounded as they tried to arrest a man in the Bavarian town of Georgensgmuend, south of Nuremberg. The suspect, described as a member of the extremist Reichsbuerger movement, opened fire on the officers before he was eventually detained. Officials said a permit had been revoked for the 31 guns he owned. Local authorities had called in the police after the man repeatedly refused to co-operate with them. When a special forces team moved in early on Wednesday he began shooting through his door, officials said. Police confirmed the officer's death on Thursday, having announced it prematurely late on Wednesday. Another policeman is being treated for serious gunshot wounds. Two others were lightly wounded. The gunman was lightly injured in the exchange.

Reichsbuerger movement
The Reichsbuerger ("Reich Citizens") group does not recognise the authority of the post-war German federal republic, seeing it merely as some sort of private company. It believes in the continued existence of a German empire, or Reich, dating back to 1937 or even earlier. Its roots are said to go back some three decades. Bavarian officials said the group's ideology was "nationalist and anti-Semitic.... clearly extreme right". Their circle had grown in recently years, they said, and included "whingers, nutcases, conspiracy theorists, but also the far-right". The diversity of beliefs and views within the group militates against a simple hierarchical structure or clear leadership. But the group should not be dismissed simply as an "association of crackpots", said Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann. Some of its members were obviously capable of brutal violence, particularly targeting representatives of the German state, he warned. Others use their rejection in the authority of the German state as grounds to refuse to pay taxes or creditors.
© BBC News


Germany: Police officers shot by right-wing extremist

Officer in critical condition as search uncovers 30 weapons at house in Bavaria

19/10/2016- A police officer is fighting for his life in Germany after being shot by a right-wing extremist during a weapons raid. The officer was one of four injured in a gun battle with a suspect named as Wolfgang P at a house in Georgensgmünd on Wednesday morning. Officials said police were executing a warrant to confiscate legally-owned firearms after the 49-year-old refused mandatory inspections by local authorities. A team of specialist officers launched the operation at 6am local time (5am BST) and were immediately met by gunfire. Johann Rast, the chief of Central Franconia Police, told a press conference police found the suspect in a bedroom. “He was hiding behind the door and shot through the closed door,” he said. “It is not yet clear how many shots were fired.”

Three hit an officer who remains in a critical condition, striking his helmet, elbow and edge of his protective vest. Another officer was shot in the arm, while two others were injured by flying glass. Wolfgang P is believed to have been alerted to the police’s approach by blue lights and sirens, having a gun and bulletproof vest next to his bed. The suspect was injured and taken into custody, with an arsenal of 30 weapons seized in subsequent searches of his home. Officials said he calls himself a “Reichsbürger”, part of a far-right movement that claims the current German state is illegitimate and is alleged to have neo-Nazi links.

Joachim Herrmann, the Bavarian interior minister, described his shock at the shooting and said it was “clear” that Wolfgang P fired before police officers. “To be part of the Reichsbürger movement is to be a right-wing extremist,” he added. “We must take a closer look at the movement. The Reichsbürgers are not being dismissed as a group of nutters. “It is obvious that these people, who are so consumed by their ideological beliefs, are willing to use violence against police.” Mr Herrmann said the movement has been under “intensive observation” by state intelligence services because of elements' “far-right aims”, and that surveillance would increase. Reichsbürgers adhere to their own self-declared government, known as the KRR, which issue their own version of official documents such as driving licences, while followers frequently spurn federal taxes or fines.

They are mainly known for aggravating German authorities by pursuing obscure legal claims rather than violence, but a member was wounded during a gun battle as he was evicted from his home in August. Wolfgang P, who is unemployed and previously operated a martial arts school, had reportedly written “scurrilous letters” on the movement after joining in the summer. He remains in police custody. A recent report by Berlin's state intelligence service describes the Reichsbürgers as “an extremely diverse range of small groups and individuals who believe in an ideological mixture of conspiracy theories, anti-Semitic and anti-democratic views, and who have been behaving increasingly aggressively for some time". Germany remains on a state of high alert following a series of terror attacks by Isis supporters, including a suicide bombing in Ansbach and axe attack on a train.

But there is also growing concern over far-right movements, which have been gathering increasing support during tensions over the refugee crisis and sexual assaults in Cologne. Centres for asylum seekers have been the target of arson attacks and racist graffiti, while police uncovered a neo-Nazi plot to attack refugee accomodation with explosives last year.
© The Independent


Germany: Thousands of refugees successfully sue government over partial asylum status

Around 90 per cent of the appeals against 'subsidiary protection' orders have been successful

18/10/2016- More than 17,000 refugees in Germany have sued the government for not giving them full refugee status - and most have won. Since an attempted crackdown on the number of migrants coming to the country earlier this year more and more refugees are being given a qualified form of asylum called as “subsidiary protection” from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF). Although people with this status are safe from deportation they face several key disadvantages in comparison to those with full refugee status. These include a two-year ban on their families coming to join them and a speed up deportation process for those who are not given a permanent right to remain agreed at the end of January. It followed a major backlash towards Chancellor Angela Merkel’s “open door” policy which saw 1.1m refugees arriving in the country in 2015. A mass sex attack against women in Cologne during the city’s New Years Eve celebrations which blamed on refugees – even though only three of the 58 men arrested where recent asylum seekers from Syria or Iraq – prompted a sustained growth in support for far-right anti-immigration parties. One such party, Alternative Für Deutschland, triumphed in the Berlin local elections last month by winning enough votes to enter the state parliament for the first time – their 10th regional parliament since the party formed in 2013.
© The Independent


German anti-Islam group PEGIDA stages anniversary rally in Dresden

Germany's anti-Islam PEGIDA movement drew thousands of supporters to Dresden city center on Sunday to celebrate its second anniversary, though numbers were subdued compared with crowds of about 25,000 at rallies in the city in early 2015.

16/10/2016- PEGIDA, which stands for Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West, made its mark on the political agenda with its first anti-Islam march in the eastern German city in October 2014 and then spread to other cities. About 900,000 migrants, mostly Muslims, entered Germany in 2015, prompting public concern over the country's ability to cope with the influx. More than 200,000 migrants have arrived this year. Police did not give any estimate on the number of rally participants but issued a statement saying they had deployed about 1,700 officers in Dresden and that the demonstrations had passed peacefully, though criminal proceedings were instigated over bodily harm in one case. Crowd-counting group Durchgezaehlt, run by a statistician at Leipzig University, said on Twitter that between 6,500 and 8,500 people attended Sunday's rally. Though the numbers were down on the levels of some of PEGIDA's 2015 demonstrations, support for the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has surged as migrants continue to arrive.

An Emnid poll published in Sunday's Bild am Sonntag showed that 13 percent of respondents would vote AfD if a federal election were to be held next week. That would comfortably exceed the 5 percent threshold parties must reach to enter the Bundestag lower house of parliament. Germany's next general election is in September 2017. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, who lives in Dresden, told Bild am Sonntag that he hoped the second anniversary of PEGIDA would be its last and that the city remains cosmopolitan and tolerant despite PEGIDA's existence. Iris Gleicke, the federal government's commissioner for eastern German affairs, told Saturday's Die Welt newspaper that people who market Dresden to tourists had told her that fewer visitors were coming because of "a kind of PEGIDA effect". She said people had written to her saying they loved Dresden but did not want to go there at the moment.
© Reuters


Thuram criticises FIFA for ending anti-racism project

French World Cup winner Lilian Thuram has criticised FIFA's decision to dissolve its anti-racism task force, telling Reuters he found the decision "shocking".

17/10/2016- FIFA wrote to members in September to say it was disbanding the task force set up by then boss Sepp Blatter in 2013, and declaring that it had "completely fulfilled its temporary mission". The former world and European champion and Serie A winner let fly at soccer's world governing body. "I am extremely shocked that such an important organisation that can reach millions of people, especially children, can say in 2016, in this global political situation, 'the job is done'," he told Reuters in Stockholm, where he was speaking on the subject of racism for his Lilian Thuram Foundation.

"It's very, very shocking."
After speaking to an invited audience about hearing monkey noises from the terraces as a player in Italy, the former AS Monaco, Parma, Juventus and Barcelona defender attacked the signals being sent by FIFA. "There is a symbolism in them saying that, that 'this is no longer important to us'. It (racism) is a recurring problem in our societies. "We must be on our guard and start to change the way we think, especially as football is an incredibly good way to get people to think differently. Football and sport are the best ways to reach that result." The 44-year-old Thuram, who was born in Guadeloupe before moving to Paris at the age of nine, said he would continue his own work to combat racism in the game. "My foundation, which aims to create more brotherhood in our society, continues its work, regardless of what FIFA does. But the more people we are the better, especially in an organisation such as FIFA."

He doubted, however, that FIFA would change its mind. "If FIFA say that their project is over, they have thought it through and it is very sad that they have reached that conclusion." Thuram's career ended in 2008 when a heart condition was discovered in conjunction with a proposed move to Paris Saint Germain and since then he has devoted himself to fighting racism through discussion and the education of young people. Despite the recent rise of populist and far-right parties and candidates in Europe and the United States, Thuram said there was less racism today than previously. "People are conditioned in a certain direction," he explained. "To see it as there being more and more racism in society is to not understand the history of racism. "You say that because you don't see that, not so long ago, there were people suffering under apartheid because they were the wrong colour, segregation based on skin colour, colonies based on skin colour, and today that is not the case."

The Frenchman said that though he had experienced racism in his own career both on and off the field, it was not something that bothered him unduly. "I had no problem realising that it was them that had the problem, not me," he said.
© Reuters UK.


UK: Far-right parties contesting murdered MP Jo Cox's seat lose deposits

'We have shown that we stand together with one voice choosing unity and hope', says victorious Labour candidate

21/10/2016- Every far-right party that stood in the by-election to replace murdered MP Jo Cox has lost its deposit. Labour candidate Tracy Brabin retained the seat for the party with 85 per cent of the vote after other major parties declined to put up a candidate as a mark of respect. Ms Cox, 41, was shot and stabbed outside her constituency surgery in Birstall, near Leeds, a week before the EU referendum vote in June. Groups such as the English Democrats, the BNP, the National Front, Liberty GB and English nationalist party, English Independence, all failed to secure at least five per cent of the vote which means under Electoral Commission rules they lose their £500 deposit. Their defeat was seen as a victory for the type of politics Ms Cox championed - including EU membership and welcoming refugees - with her husband Brendan tweeting that it was “great to see all the purveyors of hate lose their deposit”.

In her maiden speech to Parliament in 2015, Ms Cox had said: “While we celebrate our diversity, what surprises me time and time again as I travel around the constituency is that we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.” Ms Brabin, a former Coronation Street actress, vowed to continue the work of her predecessor who had championed EU membership and the rights of refugees. In her victory speech, the 55-year-old, who was born in Batley, described her election as "bittersweet" but said: "We have shown that we stand together with one voice choosing unity and hope. "I am delighted more than anything that the fringe parties have lost their deposits.
© The Independent


UK: Gary Lineker defended child refugees, then received a torrent of abuse

'The treatment by some towards these young refugees is hideously racist and utterly heartless. What's happening to our country?' asks former footballer

19/10/2016- Gary Lineker has received an onslaught of criticism for standing up for child refugees who come to the UK from the “Jungle” camp in Calais. The former England striker and sports broadcaster suggested the attitudes of some towards young refugees fleeing war-torn countries was “hideously racist” and “utterly heartless” and questioned what was happening to Britain. The UK has committed to take more unaccompanied child refugees from the “Jungle” as the French authorities attempt to demolish the camp. Fourteen teenagers from countries such as Syria, Sudan, and Afghanistan arrived in Britain from Calais on Monday. Lineker’s tweets about the "racist" rhetoric which refugees have been subject to prompted a torrent of criticism on Twitter, with some engaging in racist and xenophobic rhetoric to rebuke the footballer’s viewers. Many argued those coming to the UK were not children and were in fact lying about their age, while others demanded Lineker take the refugee children into his home to prove his commitment.

“Well, that tweet led to some serious blocking. The I'm alright Jack mentality is sickening,” Lineker said in response to one reply. Some asked Lineker whether he would live on the same estate as refugees or would allow his daughter to go to school with them. “These young men, not children, fit the profile of those involved in all terrorist activity in UK,” said one user. “Human beings are being deprived of a safe life because of terrorists,” said another. But others were supportive of Lineker voicing his opinions. “I admire you Gary Linekar. Even though many racists eat crisps, you're not afraid to risk losing their custom in order to call them out," quipped one. Last week, Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, informed MPs the French authorities had agreed to verify a list of 387 child refugees with a legal right to come to the UK drawn up by Citizen’s UK. “Once we have that official list we will move quickly within days and remove very quickly those children,” she said.

A spokesperson for Refugee Action told The Independent Lineker was right and we should be welcoming these children. “These children have experienced unimaginable horrors. It’s fantastic that Britain is finally stepping up to help. We must welcome them, not question their right to be here,“ a spokesperson said. “The vulnerable children and young people arriving from Calais have been assessed by the Home Office and are, at last, being reunited with their loved ones. “It’s essential that these children receive the support they now urgently need to successfully rebuild their lives. Britain has a long history of protecting those fleeing war and persecution. We need to show those values now by warmly welcoming these young refugees.”
© The Independent


UK: Man Tries To Remove Muslim Woman’s Headscarf By Force

‘The woman was targeted by this suspect purely based on what she was wearing.’

18/10/2016- A woman had her hijab grabbed in an “unprovoked and hate filled attack” on London’s Oxford Street in an incident that police are treating as an Islamophobic hate crime. Police on Tuesday appealed for the public’s help to identify an “aggressive” man who repeatedly demanded the woman remove her headscarf on October 4. The victim, who was in her 40s, was walking alone on Oxford Street when the incident unfolded around 8.15am. After refusing to remove her hijab police said the man “became more aggressive and grabbed the woman’s headscarf and attempted to remove it by force”. Police said the man managed to unpin the scarf but was unable to remove it. The victim, who was not injured but was “shocked and distressed by the incident”, managed to flee the man and headed towards Marble Arch.

Detective sergeant Steve Stamp described the incident as an “unprovoked and hate filled attack in broad daylight in the middle of a busy street”. He added: “The woman was targeted by this suspect purely based on what she was wearing. “Racially and religiously motivated crimes will not be tolerated I would appeal to anyone who witnessed this attack to contact police.” The suspect is described as a white man, aged between 30-40 years, with short black greased back hair. He was approximately 5ft 5ins tall, of medium build and was wearing a grey sweatshirt and light blue jeans. Police are making attempts to get CCTV footage of the attack.
© The Huffington Post - UK


UK: US neo-Nazi band ‘cancel’ West Lothian gig

A neo-Nazi heavy metal band gig “cancelled” their planned gig in West Lothian after pressure of anti-racism groups.

17/10/2016- American “white power band” Bound for Glory were reported to be playing a gig in Falkirk, potentially attracting as many as 500 hardcore Neo-Nazis to Edinburgh and the surrounding area. Anti-racism group “Hope not Hate” campaigned to cancel the gig by attracting thousands of signatures to its petition, and writing to Home Secretary Amber Rudd asking to refuse the band entry to the UK. On its blog,“Hope not Hate” said Vicky Pearson, the organiser of the gig, announced the event was called off, shortly after the Scottish Justice Minister Michael Matheson called on the Home Secretary to block entry to Bound for Glory band members. Nick Lowles, the organisation’s chief executive said: “While obviously we will remain vigilant to ensure that she is true to her word, we can celebrate a huge victory for people power.”
© The Scotsman


UK: Neo-Nazi heavy metal band set to bring up to 500 thugs to Scottish venue

Bound for Glory's underground gig in Edinburgh is expected to attract hundreds, with campaigners Hope not Hate saying it would be Scotland's 'biggest ever Nazi gig'.

16/10/2016- A secret plot to bring ­hundreds of Nazis to ­Scotland is being probed by police. Extremist band Bound for Glory, who have been described as the “world’s leading white power band”, are due to perform in Edinburgh on Saturday. The underground concert by the US act is expected to attract as many as 500 fans paying £30 per ticket. Campaigners Hope not Hate say it would be ­Scotland’s “biggest ever Nazi gig”. But the exact location has yet to be revealed as organisers fear authorities will try to shut it down. It’s also feared the event could prompt clashes between supporters of the group and counter protesters. Hope not Hate have written to Home Secretary Amber Rudd asking for the group to be refused entry to the UK.

Police confirmed they’re trying to find the “date, time and place” of the planned performance. A petition launched calling for the event to be cancelled attracted 5000 signatures within hours of going online last week. Hope not Hate’s Matthew Collins said: “These events are notoriously violent. “We’re hoping to flush the venue out. I don’t think any venue in Scotland would want 500 Nazis descending on them. “This is the band who boast that all their music has a racial theme that is 100 per cent white. “More than 500 hardcore neo-Nazis will travel to Edinburgh, the bulk from England and flying over from Germany. “There’s potential for violence and disruption in the city, particularly with stirring up tensions against the city’s minority communities. “This is even more of a concern with hundreds coming from ­outside Scotland and staying in hotels and bed and breakfasts in the city. “We’d say that this is not a group we should be welcoming – and we would hold a replacement gig at the venue to cover any lost revenue.”

Hope not Hate claim band ­members have been active in two white power groups, Hammerskins Nations and Blood and Honour. A poster for the event shows advance tickets being sold for £30 and that Bound for Glory will be supported by Endstufe, a German ultra-right rock band. Anti-fascist activists said it was “standard practice” for the gig ­location to be kept secret, in order to prevent it being shut down. ­Far-right fans are instead given somewhere to meet, such as a pub, before heading to the event. Neil Findlay, Labour MSP for the Lothians, said: “The Home Secretary must refuse the band entry to the UK. There’s no place here for extremism of any kind. “In every town and village we have war memorials paying tribute to those who have given their lives fighting Hitler’s fascism. It would be a gross insult to their memory if the current generation sat back and allowed this concert to go ahead.”

A police spokesman said: “We work closely with local authorities to investigate and, where possible, intervene in any event that ­promotes extremist or racist views.” Edinburgh Council said they are also investigating. A Home Office spokesman said: “An individual can be excluded on the grounds that their presence is ‘not conducive to the public good’ if it is reasonable, consistent and proportionate based on the ­evidence available.”
© The Daily Record


UK/USA: How British anti-racist group infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan online

Investigation by Hope Not Hate finds police officers among members of Loyal White Knights, names of expelled ‘race traitors’ and links to violence

15/10/2016- One of the most notorious Ku Klux Klan groups is stepping up attempts to ignite race war across the US with a call to arms against black people and violent support of the White Lives Matter campaign. An inside account from within the Loyal White Knights of the KKK also reveals that the group is linked to stabbings of anti-fascists, Holocaust denial, threats to attack gay men and extreme anti-Black Lives Matter propaganda. During a 15-month online infiltration of the Klan, British anti-racist group Hope Not Hate obtained the membership list of what is described as the largest KKK faction, a list of 270 individuals including police officers. (The group claims it has 3,000 members.) Most hailed from southern states such as Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina, although there was a considerable cohort from the Midwest, the east coast and California.

Among them is a 28-year-old British man from Suffolk who claims to be a member of the Knights Templar, an “interdenominational association of active Christians”. Another is a 44-year-old Frenchman based in Marseille who recently uploaded a series of anti-Muslim pictures to a secret Klan chatroom. Investigators also obtained a list of members expelled from the Loyal White Knights for so-called violations, ranging from drug use to sleeping with “a Jew whore” or a Mexican, watching Asian porn or having a “mixed child”, which made them a “race traitor”. Based in North Carolina, the Loyal White Knights was founded in 2012 by Chris Barker, a far-right supporter who last year was linked to a plot by a New York white supremacist convicted of conspiring to use a remote-controlled radiation device he called “Hiroshima on a light switch” to harm Muslims.

Barker is a contentious figure among Klansmen, partly because of his connections to neo-Nazis. He recently became part of the Aryan Nationalist Alliance, an extreme coalition of white nationalist groups, including notorious US organisations such as Matthew Heimbach’s Traditionalist Worker Party. Heimbach , who is dubbed the “face of a new generation of white nationalists” by critics, and has advocated racial segregation – was banned from entering the UK last year by Theresa May, who was then home secretary. Hope Not Hate’s investigation found considerable evidence that Loyal White Knights retains its desire for extreme racist violence, seeking to exploit the anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant climate fostered by Donald Trump. “Once inside, we came across some of the worst racism we have ever encountered and learned about their dangerous racist ideology, witnessing a culture which encouraged extreme violence,” said one of the infiltrators.

It also found that the Klan is actively involved in “Knight Rides”, where members drive around communities at night and throw white supremacist leaflets on to the lawns of black people’s homes. “They organise White Lives Matter demonstrations where they get ‘tooled up’ and also Knight Rides that hark back to when members rode horses through towns at night, to terrify communities,” said an investigator. In February this year, members of Barker’s group held an anti-immigration demonstration in Anaheim, California, during which they held White Lives Matter signs. The protest erupted into violence, with three people stabbed and 13 others arrested. Barker then emailed the infiltrator and wrote: “We just had a fight between our members and communist [sic] our members stabbed 3 in California.” Five KKK members were arrested following the brawl but later released as police said they had evidence the KKK members acted in self-defence. Barker, who calls himself the imperial wizard of the Loyal White Knights, claimed his members were holding a peaceful anti-immigration demonstration. “If we’re attacked, we will attack back,” said Barker, who did not attend the rally.

Eventually, Hope Not Hate investigators were invited into the closed sections of the group’s website, where they found members circulating images of themselves posing with firearms or holding a hangman’s noose – a symbol linked to the lynching of black people – with one mocked-up picture showing President Obama apparently being hanged. Jokes and memes about hanging and running over black people were also posted. Investigators were sent magazines and leaflets, some of them deeply antisemitic. One image depicted a hooded figure in front of the confederate flag with the words: “Help save our race; everything we cherish is under assault by ZOG” – an acronym for zionist occupation government, which is an antisemitic conspiracy theory that claims Jews secretly control world power.

During the undercover operation Barker, a Holocaust denier, wrote: “They said there [sic] goal was to destroy the white race. Here they are doing just that – by brainwashing our people through the media.’ The most extreme leaflet encouraged violence against gay men, with one stating: “Stop Aids: support gay bashing,” and “Homosexual men and their sexual acts are disgusting and inhuman.” The same leaflet also espouses racism, adding: “Ban non-white immigration. Outlaw Haitians – deport mud people.” The extremism of the modern Klan movement may appear to be undimmed, but its membership has rapidly declined over recent decades. During the 1920s, the organisation’s four million members were able to stage huge demonstrations in Washington. The Southern Poverty law Centre estimates that there are between 5,000 and 8,000 Klan members active at the moment, split across dozens of groups.

In their responses to questioning about the findings of the investigation, Barker and his wife Amanda referred to the Holocaust as a “money-making scam”. They added: “Our group does not call for the killing of black people, but we do tell our members to arm and protect themselves.” Barker’s statement also defended the group’s homophobic stance.
© The Guardian.


Maltese ‘patriots’ target transgender protestor with offensive remarks

15/10/2016- Alex Caruana, who was one of the three people participating in a counter protest against the so called Maltese Patriots, has become the latest target for the far-right group, led by their ring leader Henry Battistino. Last Sunday, Patrijotti Maltin organised a protest March against the setting up of Mosques and to express what they described as 'solidarity' with the people of Qawra and Bugibba. Alex Caruana, a transgender person, together with two other counter protestors went to the event carrying placards preaching 'Love is the answer' and called on the Maltese to practice freedom of religion. Little did he know that this gesture would lead him to be targeted by very disturbing comments by Patrijotti Maltin supporters, which include pictures of ISIS members throwing homosexuals off a building.

"Every time I disagree with them, they fall back to the argument that I'm trans. It is as if one does not fall under their category - white, Maltese and Christian - you don't have the right to speak," Alex said in comments to The Malta Independent. What is even more troubling is that one particular man, who confronted Alex and his fellow protestors, was a certain Stephen Florian, who is a lecturer at the University of Malta. "Mr Florian has already publicly stated that he wants to raise the right wing and he also claimed I was paid to go protest," Mr Caruana said. Asked if these bullying tactics affected him personally, Alex Caruana said this would have affected him a year ago, when he was in his early stages his transition. But he has now grown immune to such offences.

"I am strong now. But I might not have been able to be so resistant a year ago. Transsexuality is a challenging thing and there are others who are still transitioning who are still weak. It is for them I am worried," Mr Caruana said. Meanwhile, Chairman of Alternattiva Demokratika Arnold Cassola described these offences as shameless spread of hatred. "Very worrying for the future of the country when coming from someone who has had a sound cultural and educational formation," he said in a Facebook post. Minister for Education and Employment, Evarist Bartolo also took to Facebook to condemn the attack by the so called 'patriots' against Alex Caruana. "These attacks are absolutely unacceptable, all of this because this student decided to favour respect towards other cultures and religions." He also added that the work of an educator is to civilize, not instigate hatred for other races.
© The Malta Independent


Headlines 14 October, 2016

Swiss poll backs gay marriage over partnerships

Seven out of ten people say gay couples should be allowed to get married in Switzerland rather than just have civil partnerships, a survey has found.

14/10/2016- In 2005, the Swiss people voted to allow same-sex civil unions, which came into force in 2007. The civil partnership resembles marriage in all but name with gay couples granted the same pension, inheritance and tax rights and obligations. However, adoption of children by gay couples in a civil partnership remains forbidden, as does facilitated application process for non-Swiss to become citizens, and access to fertility treatments. A survey by the gay rights group Pink Cross published on Friday found that 69% of people questioned were in favour of the same marriage status for all – this compares with 71% in a similar survey carried out two years ago. More women were in favour of the change than men. Support from political parties varied from 59% from the rightwing Swiss People’s Party to 94% for the leftwing Green Party. The survey was carried out on behalf of Pink Cross by the gfs institute, which spoke to 1,011 people between April and May this year.
© Swissinfo


Serbia: Roma Denied Electricity

14/10/2016- The electricity supply to a majority Romani settlement in Serbia has been cut without notice, and with winter fast approaching. So far there have been no signs of the power returning to the hundred family homes in Crvena Zvezda any time soon. The electricity company cut power to the Romani settlement in Nis on 22nd August 2016. Romani homes in the area have remained without power ever since, yet astoundingly not one of the houses belonging to non-Roma in the settlement are reported to be without electricity. This is because in Crvena Zvezda, Roma and non-Roma are not treated equally and on the same basis by the electricity company. For Roma in this settlement, electricity is paid via collective meters for the entire Romani community whilst non-Roma have individual meters per household. This results in the settlement’s Roma, who live in material deprivation and are already in a vulnerable situation, paying the highest possible band for electricity to the company.

Romani residents must organise collection of cash between themselves and pay this to the electricity company collectively. Such an arrangement is otherwise unheard of for non-Roma. Treating a hundred households as one entity for billing purposes is discriminatory, and reflects cultural stereotypes of Roma. There is a dispute over how much is owed to the electricity company by the residents of the settlement. In 2014, the community was cut off for 5 months because of this, resulting in the Serbian Equality Commissioner issuing a recommendation on the case that the disconnection was discriminatory. This recommendation was clear that electricity should be provided to the inhabitants of the settlement “on an equal basis with other persons in Serbia”, i.e. with individual meters and separate household billing. It is quite clear from recent events that there have been no attempts by the electricity company or the local authorities to follow the commissioner’s recommendation.

Representatives from the ERRC and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights have visited the area to investigate what appears to be an obvious case of discrimination. Information gathered on the ground suggests Serbian authorities are breaching human rights obligations by allowing the electricity company to relegate this community to total deprivation. Disconnecting the electricity has seriously worsened the already dilapidated conditions in the settlement. The decision to cut electricity is already unnecessarily heightening the risk of illness, and putting the lives of children and the elderly at risk. The ERRC have contacted the Mayor’s office as well as the President of the Municipality, the EU Delegation to Serbia and the United Nations Country Team in Serbia about the matter.

We firmly reiterate that there is a duty on electricity providers to show that they are treating their Romani customers no differently than non-Romani customers, and that electricity providers have an obligation not to discriminate based on ethnicity. Furthermore, we note a similar case (Case C-83/14, CHEZ Razpredelenie Bulgaria AD) involving discrimination in supply of electricity was heard by the Court of Justice of the European Union, which ruled that the company’s practices of denying people in a Romani neighbourhood access to their meters, contrary to their normal practice, amounted to discrimination under the EU’s Race Equality Directive. The Serbian government has an obligation to Roma in relation to protection of their homes and standard of living. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Roma require special protection from the authorities, including when it comes to protection of their homes (D.H. and others v Czech Republic (Grand Chamber 2007), § 182; Winterstein and others v France (2013), § 159).

The ERRC have demanded further information from authorities on their proposed next steps to return power to the settlement. We will continue to investigate and explore all available avenues to resolve this precarious situation as swiftly as possible: including supporting the affected Roma through litigation in the courts if necessary. “Collective billing of Roma is, in reality, a form of collective punishment which can be used for leverage over the community when the electricity is disconnected. We have been told that previous electricity bills have been made out to ‘the Roma Community in Crvena Zvezda’– this simply doesn’t happen to non-Roma in the area. It is a discriminatory practice which is being carried out by the company, and it is being ignored, if not sanctioned by the local authorities. This cannot be allowed to continue, and we are prepared to take legal action against those responsible if measures are not taken to end this discrimination.” said ERRC President, Dorde Jovanovic.
© European Roma Rights Center


Austria: far-right party leader wrote foreword to xenophobic book he didn't read

13/10/2016- The head of Austria's right-wing party says he did not read a book warning that foreigners will destroy the country and endorsing archaic gender roles before he agreed to right the foreword. Freedom Party chief Heinz-Christian Strache distanced himself from the book, "For a Free Austria," on Wednesday. Strache told the Kurier newspaper that not knowing the book's contents "was surely a mistake." "For a Free Austria" warns that immigration will result in a "violent process of displacement in which we invite those after our scalps to accomplish this from the inside like a wasp larva that slowly devours the grub." It says men yearn for women whose "brood-care instinct exceeds imposed ambitions of self-realization." Freedom Party presidential candidate Norbert Hofer says he thinks the book is "overall in order."
© The Business Insider


Poland: Turkish student attacked as xenophobic crimes grow

12/10/2016- Polish police are searching for the perpetrators of a weekend attack against a Turkish student, the latest incident in a rising number of xenophobic attacks in the country. The Turkish citizen, a student at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun, faced verbal insults and was attacked in the face over the weekend in a shop in the central Polish town, though the incident was not widely reported until several days later. A university spokesman, Marcin Czyzniewski, told the TVN24 broadcaster on Tuesday that he feared the university could start losing students if people don't feel safe there, and that would hurt the entire community. Another Turkish student was attacked in recent months in Torun. Last month a Warsaw university lecturer was beaten on a tram for speaking German.
© The Associated Press


Italy: Judge jails 3 for 20 years each over deadly 2015 migrant voyage

12/10/2016- An Italian judge sentenced three men to 20 years each in jail on Wednesday for their role in packing hundreds of migrants into a boat in which 49 suffocated in the Mediterranean last August, a legal source said. The judge in Catania, Sicily, found the three guilty of murder and facilitating illegal immigration, more than a year after rescuers recovered the victims from the hold of a fishing boat from which they also pulled 312 survivors. Five others suspected of forming the boat's crew still face trial by a court in Catania, where the victims and survivors were taken by a Norwegian ship after the rescue. The three convicted, named in a Catania court document seen by Reuters as Mohamed Assayd, Mustapha Saaid and Mohamed Ali Chouchane, were given an accelerated trial. The source said Assayd is a 19-year-old Libyan, while the latter two are both 24 years old and from Morocco and Tunisia respectively.

Italy is on the front line of a migration crisis which has become increasingly deadly in its third year. Some 90 percent of arrivals began their voyage on smugglers' boats in Libya, European Union officials say. Last July, another Sicilian court sentenced a Tunisian man to 18 years in jail for contributing to a 2013 shipwreck that killed 366 people. Prosecutors have demanded an 18-year sentence for the man they say captained a boat that sank killing more than 600 migrants in 2015. At least 142,000 migrants have reached Italy in 2016 and around 3,100 have died making the perilous trip. An estimated 154,000 came to Italy in 2015 and 2,892 died.
© Reuters


Dutch court upholds hate speech case against far-right MP Geert Wilders

14/10/2016- A Dutch court on Friday upheld hate speech charges against anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders, meaning his trial will now start later this month. "The court rejects all the defence's objections," judge Hendrik Steenhuis told The Hague district court. Wilders' lawyers last month urged judges at a preliminary hearing to drop the charges against the far-right leader, slamming it as a "political case" ahead of elections due in March. But in his ruling, Steenhuis said prosecuting Wilders will "not affect his political freedoms or that of his Freedom Party." The trial, which will now start on October 31, focuses on comments made at a March 2014 election rally in The Hague, when Wilders asked supporters whether they wanted "fewer or more Moroccans in your city and in the Netherlands?" When the crowd shouted back "Fewer! Fewer!" a smiling Wilders answered: "We're going to organise that."

His lawyers argued Wilders had merely "put forward his party's political programme", and insisted he had a fundamental right to freedom of speech. Continuing with the case to trial could have "far reaching political consequences for democracy in the Netherlands," his lawyer had argued. Judge Steenhuis on Friday said: "Just because... Wilders or his party have not been prosecuted over the last nine years because of their viewpoints about Moroccans... doesn't mean that he won't be prosecuted for any statements about Moroccans now."

- 'No regrets' -
Wilders has remained unrepentant, insisting at his last court appearance that he only said "what millions of Dutch citizens think," and adding he had "no regrets." He tweeted the same comment on Friday, adding the hashtag "#pleurop," a vulgar Dutch way of telling someone to "go away." It was a deliberate echo of Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who in a recent TV interview made headlines by using the phrase to suggest Dutch citizens of Turkish and Dutch descent who failed to assimilate should return to their countries of origin. The prosecution of the platinum-haired politician comes as his Freedom Party has been riding high in the polls ahead of the March vote. But the PVV recently lost its lead to Rutte's liberal VVD party.

Wilders's remarks triggered 6,400 complaints, and criticism from within his own party. Some 56 people and five organisations have registered as victims of the comments and at least 34 witnesses have come forward, judges have said. Although judges on Friday allowed 40 claims to go ahead, they capped the amount sought as damages at 500 euros, dismissing the 21 other claims. Wilders is described as the "most heavily-guarded man" in the Netherlands. And since the 2004 assassination of anti-Islam film director Theo van Gogh, he has had around-the-clock protection. But he has drawn heavy flack recently from fellow MPs after saying he would close all mosques and confiscate Korans -- which he famously compares to Hitler's "Mein Kampf" -- should he win the elections. If found guilty, Wilders could face up to two years in jail or a fine of more than 20,000 euros ($22,000). In an earlier 2011 hate trial Wilders was acquitted when judges ruled his remarks targeted a religion and not a specific group of people.


Netherlands: Geert Wilders’ brain

Credited as the inventor of the Freedom Party, Martin Bosma casts the average Dutch voter against the leftist elite.

11/19/2016- Look at photographs of Geert Wilders in the Dutch parliament, and the camera often shows a figure seated behind him: Martin Bosma, the polemicist of the Freedom Party (PVV). A former journalist, whose side-swept brown hair keeps him a youthful 52, Bosma is often described in Dutch media as the PVV’s ideologist. “He’s the brain. He invented the PVV,” said Geert Tomlow, a former parliamentary elections candidate from the party. Bosma’s ideas are bearing fruit at just the right time, with the PVV leading in the polls five months from a general election that could see the party double in size in the parliament. He and Wilders have helped push the center-ground of Dutch politics to the Right and mainstreamed positions once confined to the fringe.

Since entering parliament a decade ago, Bosma has published two books, each released to a flurry of television interviews and controversy. The autobiographical “The Fake Elite of the Counterfeiters” takes aim at a left-wing clique he accuses of taking over cultural institutions and allowing immigration in an underhand coup to achieve radical aims by stealth. “Minority in One’s Own Land” turns to South African history. Bosma argues that the predominantly Dutch-descended settlers, the Afrikaners, became outnumbered by black South Africans and subjected to “cultural genocide” and “Apartheid 2.0” in events he warns could foreshadow the fate of the Netherlands. The PVV is opaque about its internal workings and did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Bosma did not respond to several requests for an interview, but partially replied to an emailed list of questions for this article. He denied that he was Wilders’ right-hand man or the power behind the throne of the PVV.

“There are plenty of people willing to gossip about PVV lawmakers or to confirm what you put to them. You can ask them if I kill a puppy each day and they will confirm it,” he said via email. Bosma did not respond to requests for follow-up comments. However, conversations with former PVV lawmakers, experts, colleagues and friends built up a picture of Bosma as the man who wields a powerful position as Wilders’ closest and longest ally.

Running the show
Bosma joined Wilders in late 2004, at a time when Wilders was politically isolated, having walked out of the conservative-liberal VVD (People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy) after failing in his bid to shift it to the Right. Bosma became Wilders’ chief speechwriter, senior strategist, internet chief and in charge of tea and coffee, he recalls in his autobiography. His pay was €500 a month. The party he was building would top Dutch opinion polls within a decade. As it stands now, the PVV has 12 seats in the lower house, and polls put the party on track to double that, potentially propelling it into the next government. Technically, Wilders is the PVV, as the party’s only official member. Bosma recalls creating a “virtual party,” forgoing the usual headquarters, campaigning apparatus and public funding available for parties with over 1,000 members. This structure also gave the leadership complete control, with Bosma as party secretary and chief whip, in charge of discipline.

A number of people have abandoned the party after attempts to democratize it. Tomlow is one of them. “Martin runs the show,” he told POLITICO. “He reigns.” Wim Kortenoeven, an admirer of Bosma who left the PVV when he was a lawmaker due to internal disagreements, described Bosma as an uncompromising intellectual with a “special relationship” with Wilders. “Because he has his own, not agenda per se, but his own integrity, people in the party are afraid of him,” Kortenoeven said. “He has enormous power.”

Henk and Ingrid
Friends and foes alike describe Bosma as eloquent, clever and funny. This helps him oil relations with political foes in parliament and score points in a news cycle often driven by cutting one-liners and quips. The PVV’s sharpest barbs are aimed at Muslims. In its view, Muslim immigrants are troops in an ancient war between Islam and the West which has raged for 1,400 years. Wilders does battle from behind 24-hour police protection by sounding the alarm over “street terrorists” (immigrant youths), “hate palaces” (mosques) and “testosterone bombs” (asylum seekers). People who spoke to POLITICO said such language had the ring of Bosma’s caustic tongue. “He always says that we have the most easy job in the world. We only have to wait [for] a month when Wilders says something shocking and our voters will come to the PVV again,” said one former PVV lawmaker, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

In Bosma’s telling, it was he who came up with the boilerplate for Wilders’ first program: “Less taxes, less crime, and less multikul” (a derogatory abbreviation of multiculturalism, meaning something like “multicrap.”) He has a knack for appeals to the ordinary Dutch voter — “Henk and Ingrid,” in PVV parlance — whom he casts in vintage populist terms as the virtuous side in a struggle against a contemptible, out-of-touch, left-wing elite. Bosma himself was born in the heartland of the old Dutch Left, in the industrial region of Zaanstreek, north of Amsterdam, in 1964. He began working for the local newspaper De Zaanlander aged 17, and studied at the University of Amsterdam. Ronald Spanier, a fellow politics student, recalls “a nice guy, with no extreme political standpoints.” Another fellow student and friend, who did not want to be named due to career concerns, said: “He was a sort of pleasant person to hang out with, as long as you would not mention black people or foreigners.”

In his own account, Bosma discovered conservative thinking in New York, where he went to study at the New School for Social Research in the early 1990s. He worked stints in television journalism, including as a producer for Dutch correspondent Max Westerman, who remembers a man in love with New York. “A few years ago I visited him in his office in The Hague and he had a poster of the World Trade Center on the wall,” Westerman recalled. “I think perhaps his hardline views are down to what happened there on September 11, 2001. I think his party owes its existence to those attacks.” In Bosma’s telling, it was the 2004 murder of the filmmaker Theo van Gogh that changed everything. Bosma was then living in east Amsterdam and came across the scene on the way to buy bread. Van Gogh, who Bosma knew well, had been shot and stabbed to death by an Islamist extremist in the street. “That Tuesday morning the choice was made for me,” he writes in the opening pages of his first book.

Black and white
Political historian and PVV expert Koen Vossen characterised Bosma as a “real nationalist,” with the typical interests of Dutch nationalists such as promoting the language and supporting the breakup of Belgium to form a “Greater Netherlands” with Flanders. As a proponent of a variant of what has been called the “cultural Marxism conspiracy theory,” Bosma argues that concepts such as political correctness, multiculturalism and cultural relativism were deliberately introduced by the Left to destroy all he holds dear. ”Only when the people had lost their ancient traditions and links with their country or faith could the revolution be successful,” Bosma writes in his first book. As such, he is determined to champion even the most controversial of Dutch symbols, such as the Prince’s Flag, an old Dutch banner tainted by its association with the Dutch Nazi party, or NSB, which he has worn on his lapel into parliament.

As the PVV’s spokesman on home affairs, media, culture and development, he has been a stout defender of Zwarte Piet — the festive character who is the subject of a bitter row in the Netherlands between those who see him as a harmless tradition and those who insist his blackface is unacceptably racist. Bosma, however, sees racism elsewhere. “We now have no doubt that at least part of the protest against Black Pete was racially motivated,” he announced after demonstrators in Black Panther-style berets stood with raised fists at a parade of Zwarte Piets last year. “The Panthers drive anti-white racism. We see that racism now in our streets.” His first book opens with a bible verse from the Old Testament, Isaiah 5:20: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”

The former PVV lawmaker who spoke on condition of anonymity described Bosma as “a man who has dangerous ideas.” “I am glad that he is living in this time and in this country,” the former lawmaker said. “He can’t do any harm here.”
© Politico EU


Russian LGBT Teen Support Site Deti-404 Blacklisted

A Russian website supporting LGBT teenagers has been blacklisted by the state media watchdog, Roskomnadzor.

11/10/2016- Founded in 2013, online project Deti-404 provided help and support for young people in Russia who were questioning their sexuality. The site also published letters from LGBT teenagers as they documented the struggles and homophobia they faced in their everyday lives. The site has repeatedly attracted the attention of Russian authorities, who claim that the project illegally promotes “non-traditional relationships” to children. Writing on her VKontakte social media page, site founder Yelena Klimova said that the project had been found guilty of “spreading banned information,” but that the court had not explained the decision in detail. “Most likely, the site will be suspended in Russia in the near future,” she wrote. “We shall keep working.” The decision was originally made by Siberia's Barnaul District Central Court in March 2016, but Roskomnadzor only contacted Klimova in relation to the case on Monday, she said. Roskomnadzor previously tried to ban the site in February 2015 for “promoting suicide.” The project often features letters from teenagers who consider ending their lives after suffering homophobic abuse.
© The Moscow Times


Russia: Court declared refusal to employ on the ground of sexual orientation to be illegal

10/10/2016- On July 29, Zheleznodorozhny district court of Novosibirsk examined the case of Anna Balash who went to the court to protect her labor rights. The court declared “illegal the refusal of LTD “Sib-Alians” to employ Balash Anna on the grounds of her non-traditional sexual orientation” and ruled to to recover compensation for moral damages at the rate of 1000 rubles. Anna Balash tried to get a job at LTD “Sib-Alians” twice. First time, in October 2015 and second time - seeing that the vacancy remained to be filled – in February 2016. The reason why woman was refused was the same – “non-traditional sexual orientation”. For the second time, potential employer even provided women with lengthy written explanation of the refusal. According to the employer, “non-traditional sexual orientation doesn’t meet job requirements, can negatively affect company’s reputation and will impede to carry out work duties. The position requires a lot of work with clients. The majority of our clients support traditional values. Therefore the employment can lead to financial losses”. As the lawyer, Anna Yagubtseva pointed it out, “The position of the potential employer is discriminative and contradicts to the legislation of the Russian Federation. There are however very few cases when we can prove the fact of discrimination in the court. It is highly probable that the employer will appeal, but we are ready”.
© The Russian LGBT Network


Holocaust deniers: Negating history

The genocide of the Jews has been historically researched and confirmed. But there are still people who simply deny the facts, even more than 70 years after the Holocaust. That's a crime in many European countries.

10/10/2016- She is 87 years old, and she refuses to learn. Ursula Haverbeck is well-known in legal circles all over Germany. She's been keeping the courts busy for years: in the Westphalian town of Detmold; in Verden near Bremen; in Hamburg; in Berlin; and Tuesday (October 11) in another Westphalian town, Bad Oeynhausen. Again and again public prosecutors have had to investigate accusations of incitement made against her. This sprightly old lady is popular in far-right political circles. She denies the Holocaust, and even at her advanced age is able to provoke uproar in the courtroom. In February this year she tried to enter the courtroom in Detmold during the trial of a former Auschwitz SS guard. As far as she's concerned, Auschwitz was just a labor camp, not an extermination camp. She insists that the Nazi genocide of the Jews is "the biggest and most sustained lie in history." Ursula Haverbeck is not the most high-profile example of denial of Nazi Germany's crimes against the Jews, which have been historically and legally acknowledged throughout the world. She's just the most recent one to make news.

Prominent denier: David Irving
David Irving has been a thorn in the side of the judiciary, politicians and the media with his theories about the Second World War in general and the Holocaust in particular for a long time now. During the 1950s he was a steelworker in the Ruhr region, and learned to speak fluent German. He has written more than 30 non-fiction books about the National Socialist period. The British author came to prominence in 1963 with his book "The Destruction of Dresden" in which he cited fake documents to substantiate his claim that the number of victims was far higher than believed. While at first Irving may have been regarded as an unconventional researcher, credited with referencing hitherto unknown sources, he has not been taken seriously as a historian since the late 1980s. That was when he first emerged as a Holocaust denier. Since then he has regularly aligned himself with right-wing extremists, principally in Germany.

The core message of his revisionist historical convictions is that Hitler neither ordered nor was aware of the extermination of the Jews. The Vienna district court sentenced Irving to three years imprisonment without probation for asserting that there were no concentration camps in Austria. He served two-thirds of his sentence, and has been refused entry to numerous countries ever since. In 1993 the American historian Deborah Lipstadt described Irving as an "authentic Holocaust denier" who falsified facts and manipulated documents in his books. Irving sued her for libel, initiating his own financial ruin. In the year 2000 the High Court in London rejected his suit. Judge Charles Gray described Irving as "a right-wing pro-Nazi polemicist," stating that he was "an active Holocaust denier; that he was anti-Semitic and racist and that he associated with right-wing extremists who promoted neo-Nazism." Irving was ordered to pay the costs of the trial, totaling around 2.5 million pounds.

Prominent denier: Bishop Richard Williamson
The theories of a high-ranking Catholic cleric have been causing a similar stir for years. The British bishop Richard Williamson denied the mass extermination of the Jews, and in doing so became the best-known representative of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) . This renegade brotherhood of priests, ounded in 1970 by the French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, devotes itself to fundamentalist Catholic tradition. It rejects the reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), which, among other things, opened up the Catholic Church to ecumenical Christianity and the freedom of religion, and recognized Judaism as a path of salvation. Williamson was already flatly denying the existence of gas chambers in 2008: "I believe that the historical evidence is hugely against six million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler. I believe there were no gas chambers," he said. He also claimed that "the most serious conclude that between 200,000 and 300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration-camps. But not one of them by gassing in a gas-chamber."

These claims were made, on record, during an interview with a Swedish journalist. Knowing that Holocaust denial was a criminal offense in Germany punishable by up to five years in prison, Williamson asked for the interview to be published only in Sweden, and not online. The Swedish journalist ignored his request. The district court in Regensburg sentenced Williamson in absentia to 100 daily fines in lieu of jail time, at a rate of 100 euros per day. SSPX excommunicated Williamson in 2012 over a different matter.

Legal consequences for deniers
The punishment for Holocaust denial varies widely from one country to another. In the United States the right to freedom of speech also includes the right to dispute the extermination of the Jews. This is also the case in Great Britain, and this is why David Irving preferred to express himself in these countries. However, Holocaust denial is now a criminal offense in several other European countries as well. Since 1992 Austria has been punishing those who "seek to deny, grossly trivialize, endorse or justify the National Socialist genocide or other National Socialist crimes against humanity." Two years prior to this, France also made it an offense punishable by law. Historical denial is punishable in Belgium and Luxembourg, as well as in the Czech Republic and Poland, where the denial of Communist crimes is also an offence. In Spain, however, the law is different. In 2007 the Spanish constitutional court decided that its law against Holocaust denial infringed upon the right to freedom of expression.
© The Deutsche Welle*


Sweden: Arson suspected in Muslim prayer room fire

13/10/2016- Police suspect an arson attack in a fire which damaged a Muslim prayer room in Malmo, southern Sweden. Firefighters from three different fire stations in the city – Sweden’s third-largest – quickly put the fire out Tuesday, and no one was injured. The entire building was smoke damaged. “Technicians on site have located traces indicating that it’s anarson attack,” Daniel Jonasson, central command at the Malmo police, told tabloid newspaper Kvallsposten. The building is also home to various community associations. One local told state media SVT Nyheter Skane that he often comes to the building for his visits to the Iraqi culture association Aldorr. “We were here last night celebrating Ashura,” the Islamic Day of Remembrance, he said. “I didn’t notice anything strange at the time. I drove past just now and saw that there had been a fire.” Some 38 percent of Malmo’s population is of a foreign origin, making up 110,000 people in the coastal city.
© World Bulletin


Sweden: Just how 'far right' are the Sweden Democrats?

A political row has broken out in Sweden this week after Prime Minister Stefan Löfven labelled the Sweden Democrats (SD) a "Nazi and racist party" during a TV debate, which the party subject to the term did not take kindly to.

10/10/2016- Löfven’s label for SD isn’t the only one that is a bone of contention: there is also the matter of whether labelling them a "far right" party is fair or not. So just where exactly do SD lie on the political spectrum? The Local asked experts for their opinions on the matter. “It’s not controversial to point out that when SD was formed in the late 1980s it was by people who could reasonably be classified as Nazis,” Nicholas Aylott, a senior lecturer in political science at Södertörn University in Stockholm, told The Local. “What was true then needn’t necessarily be true now, but on the other hand, 25 years isn’t a long time in politics. So the roots of a reasonably young party are probably not entirely irrelevant to understanding its character today.”

One person who would agree with that assessment is Swedish PM Löfven, who corrected his initial statement after the TV debate by expanding that he meant SD had “Nazi roots”, adding that the party “came from the white power movement”. Indeed, SD’s roots have played a significant part in colouring how they are labeled today, according to Ian Manners, a politics professor at the University of Copenhagen who specializes in European politics. “Löfven was right in that SD clearly have their roots in Nazi and neo-Nazi movements in the 1980s, which has been sustained through the 1990s and 2000s,” he told The Local.

Does that mean that today’s SD could be considered “far right"? Uppsala University political scientist Li Bennich-Björkman doesn’t think so. “SD are not ‘far right’ by any standard. In placing them on a left-right scale they are actually centrist. In terms of welfare policies, for example. They could also be characterized as holding social conservative values,” she told The Local. “Nationalism-cosmopolitanism is a separate scale from the left-right one,” she clarified. “There, the party is far to the pole of nationalism (whereas you would find the Greens and Feminist Initiative at the other end).”

Södertörn University’s Aylott agreed that finding an appropriate left-right political label for the contemporary SD is not a straightforward matter. “They say themselves that they are a nationalist party and describe themselves as social conservatives with a nationalist attitude,” he said. “That would put them unequivocally on the right in one sense but then their economic policies are probably in most respects to the left of those of the (centre-right) Alliance. So deciding what label to give them is not unproblematic at all.”

One way of trying to assess how appropriate any of the labels for SD are is to use a comparative approach, looking at the party from a broader perspective than just within Sweden.  That’s a method University of Copenhagen professor Manners thinks is a fair one, but again, it’s not simple. “One way to try and unpack this is that in the USA and the UK, the term ‘far right’ is regularly used to describe them. The Independent, Guardian, New York Times and Washington Post would all use that term,” he said. “Another is to compare their stance with that of other right of centre parties across Europe. Broadly speaking they would still remain far right in one sense because they haven’t made an attempt to enter government yet, and that moment of entering government does have a moderating effect. So from a comparative perspective, they’re still far right.”

A third option is to compare SD to other parties in Europe by looking at European Parliament groups. “There’s a right of centre party grouping in the European Parliament which doesn’t advocate leaving the EU, and to the right of them is the European Freedom and Direct Democracy group where the Sweden Democrats sit,” Manners explained. “That’s definitely far right, in that they are anti-EU, but also anti-immigrant. They’re not however extreme right, as there’s a group further to the right of them still.” Uppsala University’s Bennich-Björkman argued however that the term “far right” is too often used without analytical purpose. “Far-right is a strange label, often used not as an analytical but as a normative and negative way of characterizing many of the parties in Europe that are immigrant-unfriendly and often un-civic in rhetoric,” she said. “Aggressive nationalists would be a more adequate way of labeling many of them.”

Södertorn University’s Aylott was not of the same opinion. “I do tend to still describe them as far right. For me, ‘radical right’, another term used, sounds a bit too much like neo-liberal. That’s just the connotation that has grown up – it’s the way people use it. Whereas far right does tend to be more associated with authoritarian nationalist right.” Deciding which labels are appropriate to attach to SD and which ones are not depends on a number of factors therefore. Are we analyzing their past, as Löfven said he was? Are we analyzing their policies on a left-right scale? Or, are we analyzing them in the context of their party grouping within Europe? All will shape whether the conclusion is that they are "far right", or something else.
© The Local - Sweden


France simplifies gender recognition process for trans people

France has approved new gender recognition rules for trans people that separate the legal recognition process from medical treatment.

13/10/2016- The French parliament this week voted to introduce a new legal gender recognition mechanism that makes it easier for trans people to gain recognition as their legal gender. The provisions passed through the National Assembly as part of a justice law (La loi sur la justice au XX1eme siècle), which included provisions relating to legal gender recognition. Under the updated process, trans people will no longer have to be sterilised before being legally recognised in their true gender. In addition to this, there will be no requirement to provide proof of medical treatment, as had been proposed in amendments introduced by the Senate several weeks ago. Emancipated minors will also be able to access the updated process. Evelyne Paradis of ILGA-Europe said: “Congratulations to all the trans community in France and the activist movement that has pushed for this profound change! “This is a sign of clear progress – another European country has dispensed with the shameful practice of sterilisation and the intrusion that accompanied medicalisation.”

However, the law falls short of campaigners’ hopes on a number of issues, lacking access to gender recognition for young transgender people, and not permitting people to self-determine their gender. This means that trans people will still have to go to court to have their gender legally recognised. Evelyne Paradis continued: “In Europe, there are several model examples that were open to France to follow – Denmark, Malta, Ireland and, most recently, Norway have all chosen to respect the bodily integrity of trans people and opt for self-determination. “The fact that France did not take the more progressive and humane path open to it is very regretful. The fight will go on for full equality and respect for trans people in France.”

Sophie Aujean, ILGA-Europe’s Senior Policy and Programmes Officer, also reflected on the new law: “Ruben, one of the trans people who shared their testimony as part of a video campaign before the vote, put it perfectly: ‘…An ideal world, as far as I am concerned, would be a world where we would stop judging each other; where we would let people live their lives in the way they have chosen…’ “While the law finalised today is not 100% perfect, it is a purposeful step towards the ideal world that Ruben spoke of.” France has made progress on LGBT equality in recent years, passing equal marriage in 2013 in the face of mass protests.
© The Pink News


France says Britain has 'moral duty' on Calais migrant children

10/10/2016- Britain has a "moral duty" to let hundreds of migrant children join their relatives across the Channel, France said Monday, days before the notorious "Jungle" camp in Calais is due to be bulldozed. Campaigners are worried about the fate of unaccompanied child migrants, some as young as eight, at the sprawling shanty town on the north coast of France, once the authorities dismantle the site. "I am solemnly asking Britain to assume its moral duty," French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told RTL radio ahead of talks in London with British counterpart Amber Rudd. After meeting Cazeneuve later Monday, Rudd said that while Britain was ready to cooperate, it was still waiting for France to deliver a list of the children concerned.

"There are several hundred unaccompanied minors in Calais who have family in Britain," Cazeneuve told RTL. "We are in the process of drawing up a precise list and the British need to live up to their responsibilities. "We have lived up to ours," he said. Rudd, in a statement to parliament Monday, insisted Britain was ready to cooperate. But she added: "The primary responsibility (for the children involved)... lies with the French authorities. The UK government has no authority in France." Britain was keen to bring as many eligible children over to Britain before the "Jungle" site was dismantled, Rudd said. But before they could act, French officials needed to provide a list of the children concerned, she added. "We will move with all urgency. A matter of days, a week at most," said Rudd. But while they were working to get an agreement from the French, "we haven't got one yet".

- 'Urgent action' -
French officials have said that work to clear the camp could begin next week, with residents to be spread around reception centres across France. The makeshift settlement has become a focal point in France of Europe's migrant crisis, the subject of heated debate among politicians and a constant source of tension with Britain. Cazeneuve said last week there were up to 950 children living in the "Jungle", many of them unaccompanied. The British Red Cross said 178 unaccompanied children in the camp had already been identified as having the right to claim asylum in Britain as they had family there. The charity called on both governments to slash through the paperwork.

"We need urgent action from both the UK and French governments," said spokesman Alex Fraser as the group released a report on the issue Sunday. While both countries were working on the problem, "more can and must be done, on both sides of the Channel," he added. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, the leader of Anglicans worldwide, was among signatories of an open letter calling for the children to be admitted. The children "have fled conflict and persecution, are now stuck in northern France, deeply traumatised and at great risk," said the letter.

"The time to act is now."
A number of other British religious leaders from different faiths also signed the letter, which was drawn up by the charity Citizens UK. Another migrant died this weekend in the Calais region, the 14th such death this year. The Eritrean died after being hit by a car on a motorway near the port city late Sunday. A second migrant hurt in the accident required hospital treatment for minor injuries, local officials said. Migrants desperate to get to Britain regularly try to stow away on lorries heading to the Channel ports for the crossing to England.


French mayor launches poster campaign after his town accepts 40 refugees

Official in Béziers calls for a referendum asking residents whether they want to welcome refugees

12/10/2016- Posters warning that “migrants are coming” and stating they are being “imposed” on French people have been put up in a town that is set to receive 40 displaced people from the ‘jungle’ camp in Calais. The poster, which features a darkened image of middle-eastern and African men beneath a cathedral alongside the words: “The state is imposing them on us: That’s it, they are coming”, was put up in 100 parts of the Southern French town of Béziers yesterday (11 October). The mayor of Béziers, Robert Ménard, who was elected with the support of far-right political party Front National, launched the poster campaign in response to government plans for 40 people from the ‘jungle’ camp in Calais to be received by the town, and the subsequent expansion of Béziers' reception centres. Mr Ménard, who shared the poster on his Facebook page alongside the words: "We are informing the population", last week called for a referendum to ask residents whether they approved of the plans to receive refugees in the town.

He said the decisions were made “without alerting the mayor or the city council,” describing the decision as a “real stab in the back” to the people of Béziers. The mayor's campaign has since been reported to the justice board and to anti-racist movement SOS Racisme, who have condemned his actions, describing the posters as “hatred against the other and contempt for the rule of law”. The organisation released a statement saying: “Robert Ménard, a little man with small ideas and a small career, has succeeded in one day to show two facets of the extreme-right: hatred against the other and contempt for the rule of law. It is up to public authorities and citizens to show that we won’t allow the reputation of our country to be tarnished and weakened by people who are the antithesis of the Republic.” In response to the criticism, Mr Ménard said he was "putting his town first".

Speaking to The Independent, the mayor said: "I don't care what SOS Racisme says. Béziers is the fourth poorest town in France. I have compassion for Syrian refugees, but I prioritise the people of my town. I put my town first. "I've put up the posters to inform the residents. To explain to them what we are in the process of doing. Without informing them and asking for their opinion. The local government representatives didn't even tell me about this decision. Are we in a democracy or not? This is why I've organised a referendum. "Forty migrants are definitely coming before the end of the month. There has been talk of another centre for 30 or 50 more people. But the number isn't important. The problem is we're in a town where immigration is already massive."

Mr Ménard went on to pledge that if the refugees did come to the town, he would not grant them authorisation to settle there. He added: "If these migrants do come and try to settle here, they will need authorisation from the mayor, and I won't give it to them." Some residents of Béziers have responded to the posters with anger. A petition has been set up containing a letter to the local government asking that the posters are removed, and has so far garnered 29,498 signatures. It reads: “Since the morning of 11 October, the city is littered with hateful and intolerable posters. The Front National-affiliated mayor has again splashed the citizens with hatred. “He’s put up violent posters. This today has reached the height of racial hate. They are everywhere, even in schools. We demand that these posters are removed and that the municipality is punished.”

Others have reacted with shock and disappointment to the poster on Twitter. One user wrote: "My country disgusts me", while another said he was "speechless" and "absolutely ashamed". Last week, the Béziers mayor’s office issued a statement claiming the town was being "imposed with things [it] doesn't want". “The mayor of Béziers learned yesterday that another Asylum seeker welcome centre will open very soon. More than one. Right in the centre of town," the statement read. "While the municipality has worked for two years to renovate the town centre, this announcement sounds like a stab in the back for the town’s people. The prefect (leader of the local government) did not alert the mayor. "Once again, the residents of Béziers are summoned to pay the price of a policy that opens wide he door to our country to the immigration of a huge wave of immigration. Once again, we see ourselves imposed with things we didn’t want. But once again, we will resist it.”

Bénédicte Jeannerod, director of Human Rights Watch in France, described the campaign as "heinous" and "shameful", tweeting: "Heinous, shameful anti-refugee campaign by the far-right Mayor of the city of Béziers, South France. Despicable." The inter-ministerial delegation to the fight against racism and anti-Semitism in France, known as Dilcra, said the posters “constitute a flagrant provocation to hatred”. The organisation wrote in statement: “In the period we know, the repeated targeting of individuals or groups because of their origin or creed can not be accepted. It is all the more serious when committed by an elected of the Republic.”
© The Independent


France: Islam like ‘gangrene’, wearing burka 'serious crime’, says presidential candidate

French presidential candidate Bruno Le Maire has launched a scathing attack on political Islam and vowed to put an end to its influence on the country.

10/10/2016- The Republican and former agriculture minister, has called on all “disillusioned Socialists” to vote for him in the first and most decisive round of the French elections, which will be held on November 20 and 27. Mr Le Maire, 47, who is known for his strong anti- stance, told French magazine Le Journal du Dimanche political Islam had been gnawing away at France’s secular values for years; and Islamic institutions were being run from afar by powerful religious leaders based in more radical Muslim nations, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar. He said: “Political Islam is like gangrene. It’s an infection which has caused France’s liberal traditions to slowly rot away. “There is an urgent need to regain control and to reorganise the way in which Islamic institutions based in this country are run.”

The French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) – which acts as a bridge between Muslims and the government – is “doomed to failure”, he said, and has helped give Salafi-jihadist leaders and militants a voice. The council must become more “transparent and secular” if it is to succeed in helping Muslims integrate into French society, he warned. Mr Le Maire also said that a blanket ban should be imposed on the Islamic face veil – including the headscarf and the body-covering burqa and niqab – and that it should be banned in all public places, and not just in schools. He said: “I would be more than willing to launch a debate on the wearing of ostentatious displays of religion in public places, including hospitals, government-run offices, and universities.” If successful, such a debate could lead to a nationwide ban on the Islamic face veil, and on the slightly less conservative headscarf: “When you see Muslim woman walking down the street clad in a niqab, it is both ill-mannered of them and indecent.”

And according to Mr Le Maire, wearing the burqa or the niqab in public should no longer be a fineable offence: it should be considered “serious misdemeanour”. The right-winger also said French Muslims had never been stigmatised, but that on the contrary, the public’s growing tolerance of political Islam and fear of causing offence had given Muslim leaders “too much” power, and had chipped away at the country’s secular traditions. In his opinion, voters should ask themselves two questions as they head to the polls next month: “Am I proud to live in France, and am I proud to be French?”.
© The Express


‘France has a problem with Islam’ - Hollande

French President Francois Hollande told the authors of a book just published that "France has a problem with Islam", comments that risk dividing his party before next year's presidential election.

10/10/2016- Hollande made the remarks to the two authors of "A President Shouldn't Say That...." in December 2015, a month after Islamist militant gunmen and bombers attacked Paris, killing 130 people. Their book was published on Wednesday. "It's true that there's a problem with Islam. No one doubts it," Hollande is quoted as saying. "It's not that Islam poses a problem in the sense that it is a dangerous religion, but in as far as it wants to affirm itself as a religion of the Republic." The comments echo similar statements by conservative politicians following a fresh wave of militant attacks this summer, though Hollande did not suggest the hard-line responses advocated by some right-wing opponents. Among other proposals, former President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is seeking a return to the Elysee palace, has promised a nationwide ban on burkinis and said France should detain or tag all individuals on an intelligence watchlist.

Since the late 1980s, successive Paris governments have tried but failed to nurture a liberal "Islam of France" that would help integrate the faith into secular society. In August, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the state must re-invent its relationship with the "Islam of France". Asked about Hollande's comments, government spokesman Stephan Le Foll said: "There's a problem with Islam today because Islam is politicized by some. There is a problem and at the same time we need to be able to overcome this problem." The book was written by two respected journalists, Gerard Davet and Fabrice Lhomme, who met with Hollande 61 times. Opposition politicians said on Wednesday that Hollande, France's most unpopular president in six decades, should spend less time talking to journalists and more time governing.

The release of the book eclipsed any media boost for Hollande from a wide-ranging interview with L'Obs magazine also published on Wednesday, which people close to him said was supposed to take him a step closer to formally launching a bid for re-election. Late on Wednesday, Hollande invited two of France's highest ranking judges to see him to patch up relations after the book also quoted him disparaging judges, according to a tweet on the top appeals court's Twitter account. Hollande sits atop a deeply divided ruling Socialist Party and has not yet declared if he will run for re-election. Should he chose to, he will face several challengers for the party's nomination.
© RFI.


France: Calais migrant dies after being run over by British driver

10/10/2016- A British man is facing the possibility of having involuntary manslaughter charges brought against him after he struck and killed a migrant from the so-called Calais "jungle" camp with his car. Abraham Reichman, 35 ,the director of a jewellery importers based in Tottenham, north London, was driving towards the Eurotunnel site at 8.30pm on Sunday night when an Eritrean migrant and his wife rushed across his path, he told police. The migrant was part of a group that were seeking to erect barriers to block passing cars on the A16 motorway in a bid to make them slow down so they could climb on top of them. Mr Reichman, who the prosecutor said was on a “professional trip”, failed to see the pair in the darkness and despite swerving, ran into them. His father, who was driving in a vehicle behind, watched horrified as the whole accident unfolded.

The male migrant was rushed to hospital but died two hours later. The other, a woman, suffered broken limbs but is in a stable condition. Mr Reichman and his father told police that they were very shocked, and stopped to try and help the injured migrants, but were set upon by ”several dozen” others who attacked their car, forcing them to flee “to avoid being lynched”. His wife did not wish to discuss the accident at their home in Stamford Hill last night. Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Pascal Marconville, the prosecutor of nearby Boulogne-sur-Mer, said: “The father and son were in their cars on the A16 motorway at a point where migrants regularly try to erect barriers at this time. The two migrants were crossing the road and he braked but unfortunately could not stop in time.”

“He wanted to stay and help, parking on the hard shoulder, but several dozen migrants starting trying to smash up his car. He was scared of getting lynched so drove off and came straight to the nearest police station to alert authorities.” He added: “We checked that he had consumed no alcohol or drugs. He was questioned at length by police and as they didn’t consider there was any threat he would seek to flee, he was allowed to leave. He was questioned again on Monday night and will likely be allowed to return to the UK after that.” An inquiry into involuntary injury and manslaughter has been opened. Mr Marconville said that it would take “weeks” to gather testimony, which he said could prove “very hard to obtain from migrants present”, before deciding on whether to charge Mr Reichman. The prosecutor said: “In his favour, he tried to help and then came straight to the police, which is rare. We have seen several hit and run cases when motorists have simply driven off after an accident involving migrants,” he said.
© The Telegraph


Germany: Neo-Nazi killer's DNA found near bones of missing girl

In a surprising twist linking two of Germany's most high-profile criminal investigations, the DNA of a deceased neo-Nazi terrorist was found near the remains of Peggy K., whose disappearance 15 years ago rocked the country.

14/10/2016- The DNA traces of NSU terrorist Uwe Böhnhardt were found at the site where Peggy’s remains were found in July, police and state prosecutors said on Thursday evening. It is not clear whether this is a coincidence, or whether Böhnhardt could have been involved in the girl’s disappearance. The nine-year-old went missing on May 7th 2001 on her way home from school in Lichtenberg in Upper Franconia, Bavaria, prompting one of Germany’s largest child abduction searches with alerts about her disappearance broadcast as far as Turkey, her father’s homeland. The investigation involved thousands of police officers, as well as German military Tornado jets to search the woods surrounding her home. Finally this year in July, police confirmed that skeletal remains discovered by a mushroom hunter in Thuringia, near the Bavarian border, were highly likely to be those of Peggy.

But the announcement that the DNA of notorious neo-Nazi Böhnhardt was found at the site brings forth new questions. Böhnhardt was a member of the three-person NSU terrorist cell, which has been implicated in ten murders between 2000 and 2007 of victims who mostly came from immigrant backgrounds, as well as bombings and bank robberies. Böhnhardt and fellow NSU member Uwe Mundlos were found dead in 2011 in an apparent double suicide after a botched bank robbery attempt. The third and only surviving member, Beate Zschäpe is currently on trial for the group’s actions. Investigators said that a large amount of DNA evidence was found at the site of Peggy’s bones, which had been identified as “matching with Böhnhardt”. “In what context this DNA was there, how it came to be there and whether it is associated with the death of Peggy, this requires a comprehensive investigation in all directions, which is currently still being conducted and is at the very beginning,” investigators said.

Investigators would not give further details about Böhnhardt’s DNA, but Spiegel reported that sources said his DNA was found on a piece of textile, and broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk reported that it was found on a piece of fabric the size of a fingernail. What the new find in connection to Peggy will mean for the ongoing case against Zschäpe is yet unclear. “I would hope that Ms. Zschäpe would shed light on what happened and unpack what she knows about this case,” said attorney Mehmet Daimagüler, who represents plaintiffs in the case, to the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger. Daimagüler has also requested the presentation of new evidence in the case, including reviewing child porn found on a computer of the NSU, he told news agency DPA. Inside the hide-out of the trio, which was found burned down after the two men killed themselves, police had found evidence of child pornography materials.

The lawyer said that it must be investigated as to who had downloaded the materials - “Böhnhardt, Uwe Mundlos, Beate Zschäpe or all three”. What happened to Peggy has remained one of Germany’s biggest mysteries. The case led to the controversial prosecution of Ulvi K., who lived in the same town as Peggy. Despite having a reported IQ of 68, police claimed he confessed to the crime, including murdering Peggy to get rid of the evidence of sexual assault. In 2004 he was sentenced to life in prison, but ten years later the verdict was overturned on appeal. Since then no further arrests have been made.
© The Local - Germany


Germany Should Take on Rising Hate Crime

Government Should Review Compliance with OSCE Human Rights Standards
By Hugh Williamson, HRW Director, Europe and Central Asia Division

13/10/2016-  German authorities should step up efforts to tackle rising hate crime, an independent government report recommended this week. There were 10,373 hate crimes in Germany in 2015, according to official data, a leap of 77 percent from 2014. The report is by the German Institute for Human Rights, the country’s independent national human rights body. The report is important not only for its findings but for its genesis. It was commissioned and paid for by the German government itself, as part of the government’s role as this year’s chair of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). The report assesses Germany’s performance in meeting a range of human rights standards that apply to all the OSCE’s 57 members. Unlike the United Nations, the OSCE has no mechanism for monitoring human rights in its member countries, which includes Europe, the US and Canada, and countries of the former Soviet Union.

This is a major problem in a region where serious human rights violations and restrictions on basic freedoms are common. For this reason, Germany’s decision to commission this study – a voluntary monitoring of its own human rights performance – is welcome. The German Institute for Human Rights decided on the report’s focus. Both the government and civil society organizations (including Human Rights Watch) made submissions. The report defines hate crimes as those “motivated by group-based bias.” It criticizes the police and judiciary for their handling of the investigations into at least 10 murders between 2000 and 2007 by the neo-Nazi group National Socialist Underground (NSU). It says there are clear “deficiencies” in the way hate crime legislation is applied, “especially when dealing with those affected by hate crimes.” Germany needs to better train police and the judiciary on protecting victims. More comprehensive data is needed on the alleged perpetrators of hate crimes, including on the numbers of cases prosecuted and rulings passed. The state should also do more to involve civil society in combatting hate crimes, the report says.

Germany should take extra steps to tackle sexual violence and domestic violence, and to prevent human trafficking, especially of children, it states. Germany is the third OSCE chair to commission a self-evaluation. Switzerland led the way in 2014 followed by Serbia in 2015. Switzerland says its report has led to government steps to improve human rights, for instance by better training Swiss diplomats on human trafficking. Germany’s self-evaluation is an important signal to other OSCE members that the organization’s human rights standards are a vital part of its approach to protecting security in the region It’s now up to Germany to take the next step and act on the report’s recommendations, putting into practice this human rights commitment.
© Human Rights Watch


Germany: Nazi jargon revival causes alarm

Against the backdrop of an unprecedented wave of Muslim migrants, some protesters and politicians seen using once-taboo nationalist rhetoric

13/10/2016- Long-banished German words and phrases linked to the country’s Nazi past have been revived by far-right politicians railing against the migrant influx, sparking comparisons to the 1930s. The re-emergence of formerly taboo words has prompted some historians to draw parallels with the rhetoric used in the final, turbulent years of the Weimar Republic, the fledgling democracy that gave way to Adolf Hitler’s dictatorship. For more than a year, the Islamophobic Pegida street movement has routinely insulted the media as “Luegenpresse” (lying press), a word used by Hitler in the 1920s to discredit the mainstream press. Far-right demonstrators heckling Chancellor Angela Merkel and her ministers also labelled them “Volksverraeter” (traitors) for allowing 890,000 asylum-seekers to come to the country last year.

While “Volksverraeter” is a bona fide word denoting someone committing treason, its use in political protests evokes Hitler and his henchmen going after those they labelled enemies of the nation. At German reunification anniversary celebrations in the eastern city of Dresden in early October, one protester went as far as to carry a banner bearing a quote attributed to Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels. In Germany, where glorification of the Nazis is a crime, some have called for the law to step in. “When national incitement becomes a popular sport, the state cannot just watch on,” said Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily in an editorial, adding that “there has already been a Weimar Republic. It must not be followed by a Dresden Republic.” But the loaded vocabulary is not only deployed by angry protesters ranting on the streets.

Stirring up fear
Some politicians too have been using racially charged words such as “voelkisch,” a term meaning “ethnic” but used by the Nazis to describe people belonging to the superior German race, and “Umvolkung” — the fascist idea of replacing racially inferior populations with the German people. The leader of the anti-migrant right-wing populist party AfD, Frauke Petry, who has never been shy of controversy, last month suggested that “voelkisch” be rehabilitated and wiped of its negative connotation. “I do not use this term myself, but I don’t agree that it should only be used in a negative context,” she told Die Welt daily, drawing a chorus of condemnation.

Die Zeit columnist Kai Biermann pointed out that “the term voelkisch was a synonym for extreme nationalism and racism. It is, until today, a symbol for Nazism and its ideology to exterminate and murder everyone who is not German.” The columnist charged that Petry had dug up the term because “it expresses the wish to reject everything that does not belong to one’s people.” “It stirs up the fear that too many foreign people are coming who can change the status quo,” he wrote. A politician belonging to Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union went on to also use the term “Umvolkung.” While the Nazis had used the word to define the Germanization of people in regions seized by the Third Reich, today it is used in the far-right milieu as shorthand for immigration. Bettina Kudla drew fire when she said in a tweet that: “Merkel disputes it … The Umvolkung of Germany has already begun. Action is needed!”

Shift in identity
Hans Kundnani, political analyst at the German Marshall Fund, noted that politicians would not have used these controversial terms two decades ago. “There’s been a shift in German national identity over the last 15 years or so, and I think the use of these terms has reemerged against that backdrop,” he said. What has changed is that there has been a “resurgence in the collective memory of Germans as victims” in World War II. As a result “Germany has become a little bit less critical about the Nazi past than it used to be,” he said.

Reunification 26 years ago may also have played a part, as it meant that “discourse in Germany is now partly being influenced by east Germans in a way that it hasn’t been before,” he said. “They had a different historical experience, and had a different engagement — less of an engagement with the Nazi past.” Political scientist Hans Vorlaender said: “In eastern Germany, and in particular in Saxony state, there is a greater propensity to use these terms. “This is because, especially in Saxony, they are much more conservative and more nationalist in their thinking,” he said, noting that the AfD and Pegida were playing to this. Such speech should not be interpreted as an attempt to resurrect fascism, said the professor at Dresden University. Rather, he said, “what they want is to strengthen national patriotism and to say that there is no historical responsibility for Germany to welcome every Muslim here.”


Germany: Overburdened Cities Tell Refugees to Move Out

New law passed this summer is a sign of Berlin’s scramble to accommodate historic inflow

12/10/2016- Thomas Kufen, the mayor of this rust-belt town in western Germany, thinks his city has a bad case of refugee overload. Since the beginning of the year, some 7,150 refugees have flocked to Essen from other towns, twice as many as the city was allocated for the whole year under Germany’s complex burden-sharing mechanism. This, Mr. Kufen says, is more than it can handle. So when parliament passed a law this summer allowing overburdened cities to send jobless refugees back to the states where they were first assigned, Mr. Kufen thought he had found the solution to his problem. “As a big city we already are doing integration work for the entire country. But there is a limit to our capacity that we don’t want to put to the test,” Mr. Kufen said. The case of Essen and the new residency restrictions underlines how Berlin is scrambling to regain control of last year’s historic refugee inflows and to fend off a mounting popular backlash. It also shows that while Berlin has gradually tightened its liberal policies, the goal of integrating the newcomers remains fraught with pitfalls.

When the flow of refugees reached its peak a year ago, Germany initially dispatched the newcomers across the country, spreading the cost of looking after them. But once the migrants had obtained asylum, they were free to settle anywhere. As a result, some regions, like the old industrial Ruhr area, with housing left empty after a coal-mining decline and already existing migrant communities, have become magnets for Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans. With many unable to support themselves because they can’t speak German or don’t have the right job qualifications, the influx is turning into a heavy financial burden. Since Aug. 6, refugees who don’t work or study have to live in the state they were originally sent to for three years. In Essen, that means some 2,500 refugees who moved here, but failed to register before then, are being told to leave and those who received benefits will be cut off.

Mazen Sheikh Alhadedeen is one of those asked to go. After struggling to find an apartment in the Bavarian village of Miltenberg, the 26-year-old moved to Essen with his wife. But he said he couldn’t get an appointment to register with the overstretched immigration office in time. “I have an apartment now, a place in German class, I don’t want to go back,” Mr. Alhadedeen said. He is challenging the rule in court. City officials said they are aware of a growing number of court filings. That’s just one hurdle in enforcing the law. The legislation leaves open many questions—such as which administration is in charge, who can be exempted, and whether cities can force refugees to leave, officials say. Maisoun Mahmoud Khalaf, a 45-year-old Syrian, feels caught amid the uncertainty. After Essen warned her in a letter that she would stop receiving benefits, she agreed to move back to Schwerin in eastern Germany with her 7-year-old son.

Days before the looming deadline last month, local authorities hadn’t told her who would pay for her transportation, so she took the offer of a driver for €350. She had only just bought the bed and fridge for the newly renovated apartment she left behind. “I regret I moved now. If only I had known about all this trouble,” she said. A social worker in Schwerin found her a place to stay for the first month. “But then what?,” she asked Mr. Kufen acknowledged some people are hit hard but insists the law is vital. In 2015, Essen spent €130 million ($145 million) on refugees, only half of which is reimbursed by the federal government, he said. Kindergartens, schools and housing will cost millions more.

The neighboring city of Gelsenkirchen, also popular with migrants, is equally concerned. Some 800 refugees who were told to return to other states will be cut off from social benefits at the end of October. “I don’t know if we would do the refugees a favor by allowing them to stay,” said Hans-Joachim Olbering, in charge of social affairs for Gelsenkirchen. “We have an unemployment rate of 15%. What sort of an integration prospect can we offer to someone except social benefits and an apartment?” Essen’s and Gelsenkirchen’s popularity with migrants has taken a first toll: Apartments are becoming rarer. And some of the changes brought by the newcomers aren’t to everyone’s liking. Earlier this year, citizens protested plans to build refugee shelters in Essen’s north. “Some people feel things have been going only downhill for years here so that’s where we said ‘stop,’” said Theodor Jansen, a member of the council of Altenessen, where over 30% of people live on social benefits.

That Mr. Jansen is a member of the center-left Social Democratic Party, a ruling party in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition in Berlin and a strong backer of the country’s open-door policy, illustrates the rift. The government is fighting a strong force. Migrants tend to group among those who share the same language and customs, and efforts to prevent them from doing so have often been ineffective, researchers say. Fearing migrant ghettos, the West Berlin state government banned foreigners from settling in some neighborhoods between 1975 and 1990, including Kreuzberg, popular with Turkish immigrants. Despite this, the number of Turks there continued to grow until well into the 1980s, statistics show. “It can be positive for integration to be surrounded by like-minded people” because it offers more support, said Ulrike Hamann, researcher at the Humboldt University in Berlin.

Back in Essen, Ahmad Hmedi from the Syrian-German Association is convinced the Syrian community will continue to grow. He is advising his fellow countrymen to challenge evictions and points out that refugees who obtained asylum in 2015 still remain free to move. “Others will come,” he said. “The city is still popular.”
© The Wall Street Journal-


Germany may tighten rules allowing failed asylum seekers leave to stay

11/10/2016- New draft legislation would make it harder for some migrants who have been denied asylum in Germany to obtain waivers to stay in the country, the German newspaper Die Welt said on Wednesday. It said new legislation drafted by Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere and being circulated among other ministries would establish new rules for deporting migrants who had broken German law and who posed significant danger. De Maiziere and other conservative government officials began urging faster repatriation of those whose asylum applications have been denied after a spate of violent attacks in Germany in July, two of which were carried out by Syrian refugees linked to the Islamic State militant group.

Police on Monday arrested a 22-year-old Syrian man who had been granted temporary asylum in June 2015 and said he was ready to carry out attacks similar to those in Brussels and Paris. Intelligence sources on Tuesday said the man had ties to Islamic State. The incident has fueled criticism of Chancellor Angela Merkel, and de Maiziere, whose conservative Christian Democrats have lost support to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party over the government's open-door refugee policy. Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann, a member of the CDU's Bavarian sister party, and other top officials in that party, have called for a review of all migrants who were granted asylum after last year's influx of nearly a million people.

As of Aug. 31 there were 210,0209 migrants in Germany who were required to leave, of whom 158,190 had been granted waivers of some kind that allowed them to stay temporarily, Die Welt said, citing the draft legislation. "If deportation is not possible because the foreigner has, for example, misled authorities about identity or nationality, or is not cooperating with efforts to secure a replacement passport, then he will no longer receive exceptional leave to stay," the legislative draft said. The refusal of the country of origin to issue replacement papers would also no longer be a reason for granting waivers, the paper said. n addition, the legislation would require authorities to notify migrants only 30 days before their scheduled deportation, so as to minimize the opportunity for them to go underground to avoid leaving the country. The draft law would also increase the time that those who refused to leave the country could be held in custody to two weeks from four days currently.
© Reuters


Germany: Far-right radicals try to storm east German police station

A group of nearly a dozen people from the far-right scene in Magdeburg attempted to storm a police station on Saturday to free a companion who had been arrested earlier in the day.

10/10/2016- Nine men and two women turned up at the the police station in Magdeburg train station and tried to force their way into the premises, threatening that 50 more of their associates were on their way to back them up. The assault was an attempt to a free a 32-year-old man who had been arrested in the vicinity of the station after he had struck a bystander over the head. As police attempted to arrest the man, his companions tried to prevent them from doing so, authorities in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt reported on Sunday. The 11 demonstrators - aged between 15 and 33 - then attempted to break into the station to force his release. Police were able to arrest all those involved and bring them into custody. They are now investigating charges of bodily harm and resisting arrest against the 32-year-old. The others all face charges of attempting to free a prisoner.

A government report released in September warned that right-wing extremism is a risk to stability and peace in east Germany. The five states which make up the former communist East Germany have been plagued by radicalism ever since reunification over a quarter century ago. The neo-Nazi NSU terror cell, which murdered ten people between 2000 and 2007, originated in eastern Germany. But the influx of almost 900,000 asylum seekers to Germany last year has seen xenophobic and far-right crime skyrocket and has led to a surge in support for the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. In state elections in Saxony-Anhalt, in March the AfD won their biggest poll success to date, gaining 24 percent of the vote. Last week police in Saxony-Anhalt reported that two armed men attacked the home of an African immigrant, leaving his 5-year-old son hospitalized.
© The Local - Germany


'To Burkini or Not to Burkini' (opinion)

A Defence of the French & Bulgarian Burqa Ban 
By Fayzal Mahamed

Novinite is publishing an article by Fayzal Mahamed written on the occasion of the blanket ban on face-covering garments in Bulgaria and, earlier, a prohibition to wear burkini in France. In Bulgaria, known as "the burqa ban" - even though women wearing the veil in question can hardly be seen in the streets - the legislation has sparked controversy, with the opposition and human rights activists blaming lawmakers of being driven by populism, amidst migration and security concerns in the country. To the contrary, Mr Mahamed, a Research Associate at the Department of Social Work at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa, has chosen a more general point of view, one leaving aside the domestic contexts in the two countries, to make his point supporting the ban.
The views expressed in the article do not necessarily represent the view of Novinite.
We encourage all scholars, activists and other people with expertise on the issue to share their opinion, be it related to the specific Bulgarian context or to a more general debate on burqas.

9/10/2016- Since August 24, when news of the French ban on the burkini first broke out, there has been a frenzy and a knee jerk reaction by almost all liberal civil organizations, feminist and the media to condemn the ban as a violation of human rights, a form of religious intolerance and a discrimination against Muslim women to choose what she would like to wear in a public space. The furore around the burkini ban has continued unabated now that Bulgaria has banned the burqa veil covering the face and Germany is considering similar measures. I am also a liberal thinker and while I agree with other liberals and feminist on the general principle of women having a free choice of what to wear, I disagree that the French and Bulgarians are violating that principle and go further to agree with the French and Bulgarian ban on the burqa. Let me explain why. I want to begin by extending my argument not only to the burkini but to the niqab and burqa and by this I mean not only the burqa that covers the face that has been banned in French and Bulgarian society but includes the niqab that leaves the face uncovered. For the purpose of this article I will refer to the term “burqa” but this will include the niqab.

To understand what the burqa represents you have to begin at a period over two thousand years ago. Historically, the burqa predates Islam and was used by medieval society to distinguish between women of nobility from the common women of society. Islam adopted the burqa into its religious beliefs as a religious law (Sharia), whereby Muslim women were restricted to wearing a burqa in order for their “modesty to be guarded”. The Sharia not only restricted the dress of Muslim women but also imposed other behavioural restrictions such as “lowering the gaze”. In fairness, some of the restrictions applied to Muslim men but the harshest form of restrictions was reserved for Muslim women. The harsh religious restrictions applied to women is not surprising if you consider that all the major religions and religious beliefs were deeply embedded in patriarchy.

Modesty and decency is the catch phrase used by imams to give a veneer of morality to religious laws in Islam. The burqa as a dress code of modesty is not only applied in the Islamic religion but to other religions as well such a Judaism and Amish Christians. The difference that makes the burqa stand out today is because it is the only dress code that is enforced upon women to wear in many Muslim countries of the world such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan and Somalia. This enforcement of a dress code and by extension to a particular behaviour by state religious authorities subjugates, represses and enslaves millions of Muslim women. In other countries with a large Muslim population outside of the Middle East it is enforced or coerced by tradition and a patriarchal religious society to conform to the religious dress code.

The argument used by liberals, feminist and “westernized Muslims” is that Muslim women wearing the burqa in western countries are doing so out of their free will and out of their own choosing and to ban the burkini means violating the human rights of women to choose what to wear. I agree that banning a women’s right to freely choose her clothing is a violation of a basic human right of women but I disagree that the burqa is a dress code that is voluntarily and freely chosen by Muslim women in the conventional sense of dresses freely chosen by women in western countries. Muslim women choosing to wear a burqa do not have a free choice as this choice is always restricted by her religious beliefs or imposed from outside, either by her husband or family or a religious society. A test of this freedom to choose is to enquire from Muslim women wearing the burqa if they would wear a bikini or a mini skirt in public and the answer would always be negative. If you asked whether Muslim women in Islamic countries such as Iran and Afghanistan should be allowed to wear a bikini or mini skirt, the answer will always be “no”. If you asked the same Muslim women if they would approve of Muslim women wearing a mini skirt in Mecca or Madinah in Saudi Arabia and you will find them shocked at the mere suggestion. On the one hand you had Muslim women claiming to wear the burqa out of choice but refusing to extend the same right of choosing what to wear to other supressed Muslim women. All this indicates that the choice of wearing the burqa in western countries is bounded and restricted by a Muslim woman’s religious beliefs or imposed from the outside and is not equivalent to the free choice of dressing that almost all women experience in a free and democratic society.

There is another subjective reason why the burqa should be banned in French and Bulgarian society. Muslim women wearing the burqa will claim that they are doing so because it is a religious requirement to dress modesty. This implies that there is a morality attached towards the wearing of the burqa and that Muslim women feel that they are morally upright when they wear the garment covering their entire body as opposed to the indecent and immoral dressing women have adopted in western nations. It follows that because of the morality attached towards a dress code, Muslim women wearing the burqa will have a feeling of moral superiority to other women who are deemed morally inferior. Racism comes in many forms and disguises. There is no difference between a Muslim woman feeling superior to other women because she wears a burqa than a white person feeling superior to black persons based on the colour of the skin.

Another relative argument allows for the French and Bulgarians to choose their own restrictions on religious beliefs subject to a secular constitution that provides for equality and freedom of expression and freedom of religious beliefs. French and Bulgarian society may feel it is an affront that a Muslim woman would wear the burqa claiming moral superiority while at the same time millions of Muslim women are subjected to subjugation and repression of their basic human right to decide what to wear. French and Bulgarian society may also feel that the burqa impedes assimilation of French and Bulgarian Muslims into the mainstream society. This relativism makes it difficult for an outsider to judge how French and Bulgarians decides on the assimilation of Muslims to French and Bulgarian society given the historical and cultural differences of each nation.

I conclude by stating that while I support the human rights of all women to choose what to wear, the rights of Muslim women to wear the burqa has to be seen in the context of a restrictive religious practice that subjugates, represses and enslaves Muslim women. Western nations have a duty to confront the subjugation and repression of the rights of Muslim women in Islamic countries. It begins by sending the message that the wearing of the burqa, symbolic of the subjugation and repression of Muslim women, will not be tolerated on home soil. The French and Bulgarian banning of the burqa and burkini is a tool that the French and Bulgarians are using to convey this message. The discrimination of Muslim women wearing the burqa in French and Bulgarian society has to be seen as a positive discrimination similar to the affirmative action discrimination a white person faces because the overall discrimination is meant to correct an injustice or an imbalance even if that injustice or imbalance is not occurring in France but in other Islamic countries.

Finally, an appropriate analogy is that of a school inviting all the girls and boys to come for a school prom and half the girls attend wearing the burqa. Besides preventing the intermingling of the sexes, the burqa would spoil and put a damper on the entire party. Who would blame the principle of the school if he had imposed a ban on the burqa in the first place?

I would like to be noted that I have not included the hijab in my discussion. The hijab is normally a square scarf that covers the head and neck but leaves the face uncovered. The reason I have not included the hijab although some of my arguments may apply to this Islamic garb, is because many women, Muslim and non-Muslim, wear this form of dressing. By this I mean a Muslim woman could wear the hijab and a mini skirt at the same time and that could be construed as a form of choice not compulsion.
© Novinite


Hungary’s chilling plight could foreshadow Europe’s future (opinion)

Rightwing populism is on the march – but the EU can’t even win enough support to impose sanctions 
By Owen Jones

13/10/2016- Hungary’s democracy is in mortal danger – and whether it survives will help determine the future of our embattled continent. This weekend the main opposition newspaper – think of it as a Hungarian Guardian – was closed down by its owners after six decades of existence. Its digital archive vanished from the internet; its workers were shut out of their offices and left unable to access emails. Publicly, it is presented as a commercial decision: in Hungary’s increasingly repressive society, there is widespread private cynicism about such a claim. Here was a newspaper that dared to challenge the government – whether on policy, corruption, or its onslaught against democracy.

Authoritarian rightwing populism is sweeping the western world: Hungary is an acute example. We all know history turned a corner after the 2008 financial crisis: we are beginning to see how sharp that turn was. From the Scottish independence movement to Podemos in Spain, from Donald Trump to France’s National Front and Hungary’s far right, from the rise of Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn to Greece’s Syriza: a painful struggle for the west’s future has only just begun. Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán – whose rightwing party swept to victory in 2010 – recognises this. His chief lesson from 2008 is that “liberal democratic states can’t remain globally competitive”. He has committed his government to building an “illiberal democracy” – and he is remaining true to his word. Others have harsher descriptions. Hungarian dissident Gáspar Miklós Tamás accuses the government of “pissing on the liberal status quo” in favour of “post-fascism”.

Hungarian-British poet George Szirtes knows all about repression. His mother was a photographer, his father a senior ministry official, and they fled after the Soviet Union crushed Hungary’s revolution in 1956. “Hungarian democracy is imperilled,” he told me. “We’re moving towards a Putinesque situation.” As Human Right Watch’s Lydia Gall puts it: “What we’ve seen in the last six years is essentially a continued undermining or deterioration of the rule of law and human rights protection.” In 2010 and 2011, Hungary adopted a series of laws which were damned by Amnesty International as “a threat to the right to freedom of expression”. Hungary’s media outlets had to register with a national authority. The Klubrádió station – a persistent critic of the government – became one of its victims. At the end of 2011, the authority decided not to grant Klubrádió a licence to broadcast, forcing it into a protracted battle – though the station did eventually win.

This authoritarian government has repeatedly amended the constitution: one change embedded discrimination against LGBT people by defining the family as a unit “based on the marriage of a man and a woman, or a linear blood relationship, or guardianship. Indeed, earlier this year Hungary blocked an EU-wide agreement to prevent discrimination against LGBT people. Other amendments have attacked judicial independence and religious freedoms. Key public institutions, such as the office of the prosecutor general and the constitutional court, have been de facto taken over by the ruling party. “These are institutions that should be independent checks and balances on the government,” says Gall. There is a growing atmosphere of intolerance in the country, with those who dissent being denounced as traitors and accomplices of terrorism. Worse still, one of the main opposition parties is Jobbik, an antisemitic neo-fascist party with a paramilitary wing.

Hungary’s role in Europe’s refugee crisis has been appalling, prompting Luxembourg’s foreign minister to propose the country’s expulsion for treating refugees “worse than wild animals”. Last year, the country declared a state of crisis and built a fence with the intention of driving refugees back into Serbia. People who have already fled violence are reportedly being chased by dogs and beaten. And what has the EU done? Hungary is, after all, dependent on economic assistance from the union. Article 7 of the EU constitution exists to sanction member states in violation of its norms, including the suspension of voting rights. The European commission has made it progressively harder to invoke, and last year the European parliament threw out a proposal to invoke Article 7 – or even to activate a warning mechanism.

When Hungary’s government imposed the mass early retirement of veteran judges in favour of more pliant replacements, the EU did take action – but only on he grounds of age discrimination. Hungary was fined and forced to pay financial compensation to those sacked – but it still achieved its goal. A recent government-initiated referendum to oppose EU plans to settle refugees failed because of insufficient turnout, but it stirred up inflammatory xenophobic and racist rhetoric. Hungary’s plight has disturbing echoes of Europe’s past: but, horrifyingly, it could foreshadow our future too. Rather than being repelled, a new generation – including the university-educated – are increasingly attracted to rightwing extremism. Poland too is in the grip of an authoritarian right which chips away at the country’s hard-won democracy. With no meaningful consequences, such governments feel increasingly emboldened. In Austria, the far right moves ever closer to power; in France, it grows stronger; in Sweden and other countries too.

The cure to such movements is a left that offers an inspiring alternative relevant to the insecurities and ambitions of the post-2008 world. We don’t have that yet. But that’s no excuse for inaction. And we in Britain cannot smugly condemn Hungary, of course: since the Brexit vote, xenophobic nationalism has marched defiantly. Our prime minister condemns her political opponents as having disdain for patriotism; this week, both the Daily Mail and the Daily Express printed chilling front pages calling for “unpatriotic Bremoaners” to be damned for a “plot to subvert the will of the British people”, and demanding “EU exit whingers” be silenced. It is increasingly common in modern Europe for political opponents to be portrayed as unpatriotic fifth columnists. The history of our continent tells us where this can lead. Hungary is perhaps the most extreme, undiluted form of what Europe is becoming. It is a warning we should heed.
© Comment is free - Guardian


Hungary: Anti-Orban paper stops the presses

Hungary's biggest opposition newspaper has been suspended, its owner company said, citing financial loses. Government opponents have rejected the explanation and called for a street rally to defend freedom of the press.

8/10/2016- The suspension of the left-leaning Nepszabadsag newspaper marked a "black day for the press," Hungary's Socialists said on Saturday. Other opposition parties also criticized the decision to halt publication, accusing strongman Viktor Orban of trying to control the press. Earlier on Saturday, the paper's owner company Mediaworks unexpectedly announced it would suspend both the print and online editions of Nepszabadsag. The paper was operating at a "considerable" loss and struggled with dropping circulation, they said in a statement, adding that the publication needed to find a new business model. Mediaworks wants to "preserve Nepszabadsag for the future," according to the statement. While some reports indicated that the paper might soon be sold to an Orban ally, the company made no mention of any sale. The company did not say when the paper might reappear. The editors working at Nepszabadsag said they had no prior notice of the move. "The country knew about (the suspension) before we did... our first thought was that it had been a coup," they said on Facebook.

'Huge blow' to press freedom
A senior editor said that the reporters were suddenly stopped from entering their workplace. "We are in shock," he told the AFP news agency. "Of course they will try and paint this as a business decision but it's not the truth." Nepszabadsag has frequently criticized Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his allies, drawing attention in a media landscape dominated by pro-government media. In the last several months, it ran multiple stories on scandals surrounding the top of the government. "It's a huge blow to investigative journalism and freedom of the press. Nepszabadsag was the largest group of quality journalists in Hungary trying to defend basic freedoms, democracy, freedom of speech, and tolerance," the editor added.

Jobbik accuses Orban of megalomania
Up until last year, the paper had been owned by a foundation set up by the Socialist party. The Socialists called for a protest rally in front of the newspaper's office later on Saturday. The suspension also sparked sharp criticism from other political parties, including the far-right Jobbik. "The total undermining of the Nepszabadsag is the latest example of Viktor's Orban's megalomania," Jobbik spokesman Adam Mirkoczi said. "The only aim of (Orban's ruling party) Fidesz is to either gain 100-percent control over Hungarian media or to obstruct it."

'About time'
Gianni Pittella, European lawmaker and head of the main center-left group in the EU Parliament, said that the paper's financial position was merely a "pretext." "The freedom of press is today in danger in Hungary," Pittella said in a statement. "It is very common in undemocratic systems to shut down hostile newspapers that undermine the power of the government by uncovering - for example - clear cases of corruption. This is exactly what has happened at Nepszabadsag." The Budapest government rejected allegations of pressuring the media. A spokesman described the suspension as "an autonomous decision of the outlet's owner." The vice president of the ruling Fidesz party, however, offered a different comment on the issue. "In my modest opinion, it was about time for this newspaper to be closed unexpectedly," Szilard Nemeth told the Hungarian Hir TV.
© The Deutsche Welle*


Hungary: Eight face charges over Austria migrant truck deaths

12/10/2016- Hungarian police said Wednesday they will seek charges against eight suspects after wrapping up a probe into the deaths of 71 migrants found in an abandoned truck in Austria last year, in a gruesome case that sent shockwaves through Europe. "The investigation has been completed... Police will recommend to prosecutors that they press charges against eight suspects," said Zoltan Boross, head of the police anti-migrant trafficking unit. In total, seven Bulgarians and an Afghan -- considered the ringleader -- have been remanded in custody over the tragedy. Four are accused of manslaughter, while another four could face charges of organised human trafficking, Boross told journalists in Budapest. A further three suspects remain at large.

The badly decomposing bodies of the 71 people were found inside a refrigerated poultry truck left in a layby in Burgenland state, close to the Hungarian border, on August 27 2015. The stench of human decay emanated from the container where bodies lay piled on top of each other, crammed into a small rectangular space. Among them was a baby girl, not even a year old. Budapest took over the case in November because the 59 men, eight women and four children were thought to have suffocated while the lorry was still in Hungary.

- 'Ruthless gangs' -
Investigations revealed that the migrants -- mostly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan -- had been picked up at Hungary's border with Serbia and transported to Austria via Budapest. An autopsy showed they had most probably died from lack of oxygen shortly after leaving the Hungarian capital. "The perpetrators knew by the time they crossed the Hungarian-Austrian border that the passengers were dead," Boross said. The case sparked international revulsion, highlighting the plight of desperate people putting their lives in the hands of traffickers. "This was a tragic example of how ruthless the criminal gangs are," said Robert Crepinko, the anti-smuggling chief of Europe's police agency Europol, at the press conference in Budapest. "We see a number of criminal gangs operating across Europe making their profits regardless of the risks put on migrants lives."

The continent's worst migration crisis since World War II has turned human trafficking into a booming criminal market, generating up to six billion euros ($6.6 billion) last year, according to Crepinko. The Budapest-based ring was a professional network with more than 15 vehicles used to transport refugees who were trekking up from Greece along the western Balkans to reach western Europe. The group had smuggled more than 1,100 people from Hungary into Austria since February 2015, charging between 1,100 and 1,500 euros per refugee, investigators said. The Afghan ringleader had arrived as an asylum-seeker in Hungary in 2013 and was granted protection status. He had Afghan helpers in Serbia -- another key transit country on the Balkan migrant trail -- who brought the migrants to the Hungarian border. Of the 71 victims found in the truck, all except one have been identified. Most were repatriated to their home countries, while a dozen have been buried at a Muslim cemetery in Vienna.


Greece: Scuffles break out in Oraiokastro over refugee, migrant children’s schooling

8/10/2016- Authorities in Oraiokastro in northern Greece are trying to put a lid on simmering tensions that have arisen between groups opposed to refugee and migrant children staying at a nearby camp attending a local school and pro-migrant activists. Tension arose between the two groups on Friday night after the pro-migrant activists held a really in response to an earlier gathering by the anti-migrant groups calling on the government to cancel plans to provide education to hundreds of migrant and refugee minors at the country’s public schools. Riot police used tear gas to disperse the crowds but there are concerns that the tensions could resume as the government’s plans are put into effect.
© The Kathimerini.


UK: Theresa May told: Even Ukip think you've gone too far with 'foreigners'

'Can I tell the Prime Minister that across the length and breadth of this land, people are totally disgusted by the xenophobic language on display from her Government?'

12/10/2016- Xenophobic language used by the Government has left the public “totally disgusted” and “even Ukip" believing the rhetoric has gone too far, the SNP's leader in Westminster has claimed. Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions Angus Robertson pointed to Home Secretary Amber Rudd's ditched proposal to force businesses to list the foreign workers they employ. He also highlighted the controversial advertising campaign launched by Ms May when she was Home Secretary, which told illegal immigrants to "go home". He said: “Can I remind the Prime Minister when she was Home Secretary she put advertising vans on the streets of this country telling foreigners to go home and at her party conference, we heard that her party is wishing to register foreigners working in the UK.

The crackdown and the rhetoric against foreigners by this Government has even led to Ukip, Ukip, saying that things have gone too far." "Can I tell the Prime Minister that across the length and breadth of this land, people are totally disgusted by the xenophobic language on display from her Government?" Last week Roger Helmer, Ukip's MEP in the East Midlands, had said plans to “shame” companies who employed foreigners would be branded “fascist” had they been advocated by his party.“I like what Theresa May is doing, she seems to have picked up about 90 per cent of Ukip’s programme. In some way she’s gone far beyond what we’d done,” he added. But Ms May responded: “Can I say very gently to the right honourable gentleman that I answered two questions on that earlier and I suggest he should have listened to the answer I gave them.

Earlier in the session, responding to a question from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, the Prime Minister insisted it was never Government policy to force companies with high proportions of foreign-born workers to release lists of their employees. She added: “Can I say to him that the policy that he has just described was never the policy that the Home Secretary announced – no naming and shaming, no published list of foreign workers, no published data. “What we are going to consult on is whether we should bring ourselves in line with countries like the United States of America, which collect data in order to be able to ensure they are getting the right skills training for workers in their economy,” she added.
© The Independent


UK: What does Islamophobia feel like?

We dressed visibly as Muslims for a month to find out

12/10/2016- Britain is a nation of real diversity, tolerance and multicultural vibrancy. But for those who have suffered hate crime, it can be an alienating and terrifying place. Police figures have shown that hate crime surged in the UK in the weeks following the EU referendum vote, and still remains at significantly higher levels than a year ago. But two covert research experiments we undertook showed that even before the vote in favour of Brexit, animosity and hatred towards Muslims was considerable. In two independent research projects, we spent four weeks each living as “visible” Muslims.

In 2015, Imran grew a beard, wore the jubba (male Islamic dress) and Islamic cap in public places in Birmingham, while in 2014 I wore the full veil – including jilbab (long dress), hijab (headscarf) and niqab (face veil) – in public places in Leicester. Our goal was to examine how our perceived identity as Muslims made us vulnerable to Islamophobic victimisation. The level of hatred and vitriol we experienced was startling.

Imran Awan: wearing the jubba
I am a Muslim but I am not visibly identifiable as one from my appearance. In 2015, while interviewing some participants as part of another research project, one of the male participants challenged my status as a non-visible Muslim. He told me: “Look Imran, you don’t dress as a Muslim, you simply don’t know how it feels like.”  In light of this, between August and September 2015, I decided to adopt a “visibly” identifiable Muslim identity in public spaces in order to research Islamophobia. I grew a beard and wore the jubba and Islamic cap as part of my daily routine in Birmingham. My experiences of harassment and intimidation as a result of altering my appearance included name-calling, swearing and threats of physical violence. I was persistently either stared at or pointedly ignored in public, sneered and sworn at, and called a “f**** terrorist”.

In light of my Asian background, I also suffered verbal abuse such as “P**** terrorist”, indicating both Islamophobic and racist attitudes. I felt embarrassed, humiliated and in some cases started questioning whether I really was accepted in this country as a British Muslim. On one occasion I parked my car and went to a nearby shop to get a cold drink as it was a very hot day. As I was walking towards the shop, I heard a loud noise from a car and two men shouting: “You terrorist scum”. Another time, I was walking down a busy street and two teenage girls walked past me and shouted: “Get them out of our country.”

Irene Zempi: veiled in public
I am not a Muslim, I am an Orthodox Christian. For my PhD research, I examined the experiences of veiled Muslim women who had been victims of Islamophobia in public spaces. I did 60 individual and 20 group interviews with veiled Muslim women. During the interviews, some participants suggested that I wear the veil in order to see for myself the level of abuse and hostility that they suffered on a daily basis. They felt this was important so that I could accurately interpret their stories, and represent their “voices” regarding the nature, extent, and impact of Islamophobic victimisation. I decided to wear the veil for four weeks as part of my daily routine in public places in Leicester. My experiences included name-calling, swearing, threats of physical violence and derogatory forms of humour. Underlying all these forms of verbal abuse was a clear sense of anti-Muslim hatred and hostility, made apparent through the language used by the perpetrators.

Typical examples of name-calling included “Muslim terrorist”, “suicide bomber” and “you lot are terrorists”, indicating that the perpetrators perceived veiled Muslim women as a security or terrorist threat. The comments and gestures that perpetrators made were often threatening. On one occasion, I was walking on the street in Leicester when a white man came up close and started making explosion sounds at me. He asked me: “How many people have you lot killed in the name of Islam?” I also experienced verbal and non-verbal sexual harassment in public. For example, unknown men on the street made sexual comments, often followed by sexual noises. In some cases, these individuals shouted: “Take it off!” As these experiences demonstrate, the wearing of the veil carries connotations of gender inequality, religious extremism, lack of integration, and for some presents a threat to British and Western ideals.

Tackling hate crime
Our experiences were similar to the Islamophobic victimisation experienced by those men and women whose appearance is visibly Muslim. That said, we both realise it is not possible for “outsiders” to ever fully grasp the experience of being visibly Muslim and so vulnerable to Islamophobia on a daily basis. The emotional, psychological and physical impacts on them will be exponentially deeper. We have made a number of new recommendations in a short briefing about our research, starting with the need for the public to intervene and assist victims of anti-Muslim hate crime. During our experiences we both saw bystanders who saw us being harassed but did not intervene. Victims of such hate crimes do not necessarily want physical action – just a phone call to inform the police what they have witnessed.

We also believe that frontline workers in the criminal justice system should be trained in how best to respond to victims who have reported a hate crime. They need to have better awareness of what hate crime is and how to help reassure victims. For both of us, we were more likely to be victimised on public transport and on the street and so argue that public transport staff should be given appropriate training on how to help hate crime victims. Taxi drivers, restaurant owners and others who work at night should also be better linked in with crime prevention teams. A campaign of powerful stories and posters against hate crime could be used on trains and buses. Much more work should be done to better understand the causes and drivers of anti-Muslim hatred. Public services such as the NHS need to help support those suffering emotional stress and anxiety after a hate crime. A local approach is necessary to see how best these services can be used to reassure targeted communities.

While conducting this social experiment, we were both subjected to verbal abuse, harassment and potential physical attacks. The EU referendum campaign was marked by divisive, anti-immigrant and xenophobic rhetoric. In its wake, the number of Islamophobic attacks is likely to remain at high levels, with victims suffering in silence and perpetrators getting away with it.
© The Conversation


UK/USA: It's time the Government ended its silence on Sikh hate crime victims

By Hardeep Singh

11/10/2016- On 15 September 2001, Balbir Singh Sodhi, a gas station owner, was arranging flowers outside his family business in Arizona. He had just returned from Costco, where he purchased some American flags and donated money to a fund for victims of 9/11. Moments later, he was shot dead. Sodhi, a turbaned Sikh, goes down in history as the first person killed in retribution for the Al Qaeda terror attacks. On his arrest, his murderer Frank Roque told police, ‘I’m a patriot and American.’ Fifteen years on, Sikhs, both in the US and Britain, are acutely aware that hate does not discriminate. And Sikhs, like Muslims, continue to face the backlash to the Islamist war on the West.

That’s why ‘Action Against Hate’ – the Government’s four-year plan of how to tackle hate crime – is something of a damp squib. ‘Hate crime of any kind, directed against any community, race or religion has absolutely no place in our society’, declares Amber Rudd in the introduction to the report. When you scratch beneath the surface, though, it seems the Government takes the myopic view that only Abrahamic faiths suffer bigotry. All examples of religious hate crime cited in the report focus on Muslim, Jewish and Christian victims. These, of course, include some terrible incidents – like a woman who racially abused a pregnant Muslim lady on a bus, and an assault on Jewish schoolgirls. Remarkably, however, the report fails to highlight last year’s attempted beheading of a Sikh dentist by a neo-Nazi in Wales. Like Sodhi’s case, this was a revenge attack – this time in an apparent response to the Islamist murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby. And it’s a trend Sikhs are all too familiar with.

Last month saw the conviction of a man for calling his Sikh neighbours, ‘ISIS slags’ and ‘ISIS bitches’. Many similar victims suffer in silence. Yet the problem is nothing new. The issue was detailed in evidence submitted to the Home Affairs Committee on Terrorism and Community Relations back in 2004. And it’s been raised repeatedly in both the Commons and the Lords. But despite this, case studies highlighting a phenomenon affecting one of Britain’s most visible minorities won’t be found in ‘Action Against Hate’. To complicate matters, many incidents against Sikhs and others (including Hindus and Christians) have been incorrectly recorded as ‘Islamophobic hate crimes’. In fact, Met Police figures for the first half of this year reveal a quarter of incidents put under this category involved victims who were either non-Muslim or of no recorded faith. These aren’t numbers to be scoffed at. Yet remarkably the authors of ‘Action Against Hate’ don’t consider them worthy of a mention.

But some are, thankfully, beginning to spot the problem. Sadiq Khan showed he had his finger on the pulse when he made a clear pledge to London’s 125,000-strong Sikh community prior to his election to ‘make sure [hate] crimes against Sikhs are properly recorded.’ Let’s hope he keeps his word. And important figures in Britain’s Hindu community are also speaking out. Satish Sharma from the National Council of Hindu Temples expressed his dissatisfaction with the status quo. He told me that ‘Action Against Hate’ is further evidence of the ‘complete indifference of the Establishment to Hinduphobia’. If there’s any hope for an equitable approach for all faiths, it comes from Britain’s most recognised Sikh, Lord Singh of Wimbledon. It was his intervention which helped encourage the Government in its move towards mandatory disaggregation of religious hate crime figures from April 2017.

If you’re a Sikh, Hindu, Buddhist, or Rastafarian, statistics for your community (as for Muslims and Jews) will now at last be made available from next year. And last month, Lord Singh expressed his disappointment at the ‘narrow and biased thinking’ behind ‘Action Against Hate’. He said the report contained, ’45 examples of hate crime against Abrahamic faiths but not a single example of the many, well-documented mistaken-identity hate crimes suffered by Sikhs and others’. In her response, Baroness Williams talked in vague terms about ‘common issues across the strands of hate crime’. But details of how to tackle this issue were thin on the ground. And as for Lord Singh’s accusation that those compiling the report could do with ‘acquiring some basic religious literacy’, Williams was clear who was at fault:  ‘We have talked about this in the past. People such as the media have a role to play in improving their religious literacy.’

But the truth is, journalists aren’t the only ones who need help with their understanding of religion, or the concerns of religious minorities are they? Let’s hope the Government can finally wake up to the fact that Sikhs can be victims of hate crimes too.
© The Spectator - Coffee House blog


UK: Ten Rotherham men in court accused of fight with far-right group

Violent disorder allegedly happened when anti-fascist protest coincided with Britain First demonstration.

11/10/2016- Ten men have appeared in court charged with violent disorder following a clash with a far-right group in Rotherham. Most of the men were attending an anti-fascist demonstration in the town centre on 5 September 2015, a month after the murder of an 81-year-old Muslim man. On the same day, a far-right group, Britain First, staged a protest in the town and more than 800 police officers were deployed from across the UK to keep the two groups apart. A jury at Sheffield crown court heard that it had been one of a long line of far-right demonstrations held in Rotherham in the aftermath of the child sex abuse scandals uncovered in the town in 2012.

The men – Asif Zaman, Mohammed Saleem, Arshad Khan, Abrar Javid, Imran Iqbal, Nasrum Rashid, Moshin Mahmood, Sadaqat Ali, Shaban Ditta and Akaash Nazir – claim they were acting in self-defence. Zaman is also charged with a second count of carrying a knife, which he denies, and two other men – Haseeb Alam and Mahroof Sultan – have already pleaded guilty to violent disorder. The jury was played various pieces of CCTV footage that showed two groups fighting in the street outside the William Fry pub in the South Yorkshire town before the police arrived. Paul O’Shea, prosecuting, said the far-right group was shouting “vile racist abuse” at the men, using language like “Paki bastards”. “Not exactly original but certainly offensive,” said O’Shea. But, the prosecution said, the far-right group “got rather more than they bargained for” when they started a fight with the men on their way home from the counter-protest, finding themselves very quickly outnumbered.

“Having started the trouble, as often happens in these sorts of circumstances, they found themselves in serious trouble themselves and on the receiving end of something they started,” he said. The prosecution said there was no doubt that “the other side” in the clash – who will be prosecuted at a later date – acted first but that the actions of the defendants could not be justified as self-defence. “The defendants were part of a large group that involved themselves in serious public disorder in Rotherham town centre … as the various marches dispersed,” he said. “There is no doubt that a large-scale public disorder took place and it amounted to, say the prosecution, violent disorder … You will not find the crown arguing anything other than the other side started it, but the crown say that what these accused did in response was a very long way short of self-defence.”

An investigation by the Times newspaper in 2012 alleged that gang rape and trafficking were widespread in Rotherham. A report in 2014 by Prof Alexis Jay, a former chief inspector of social work, concluded that failures of political and police leadership contributed to the sexual exploitation of 1,400 children by Asian men in the town over 16 years. “Anyone who lives and works in the South Yorkshire area or, frankly, anyone living anywhere in this country will know about the child sexual exploitation issues that have dominated the news and media coverage for many months,” O’Shea told the jury. He said that while the people of Rotherham did not like the regular far-right marches that occurred following the scandal, “they did not involve themselves in substantial numbers in any counter-protests or marches” until the murder of Mushin Ahmed on 10 August 2015 as he made his way to the local mosque for morning prayers.

“It is in the context of that incident, which you can well appreciate caused shock and outrage in the local community, that on 5 September when yet another march was planned, the local community did involve itself in the counter-protest.” The case continues.
© The Guardian.


UK: Is it a crime to send homophobic tweets?

The Crown Prosecution Service has laid out guidance for crimes related to abuse on social media.

11/10/2016- Social networks including Twitter have repeatedly vowed to clamp down on sexist, homophobic and racist hate speech, but critics say that trolls appear to operate with impunity. After a string of cases related to social media, the CPS has this week set out guidance for the range of offences for which users could face prosecution. The guidelines make clear that people who encourage others to participate in online harassment campaigns – known as ‘virtual mobbing’ – can face charges of encouraging an offence under the Serious Crime Act 2007. Examples of potentially criminal behaviour include making available personal information, for example a home address or bank details – a practice known as ‘doxxing’ – or creating a derogatory hashtag to encourage harassment of victims. The CPS notes that information that is “grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or false” will not always face prosecutions, but a discriminatory motive makes prosecution more likely.

The new guidance also alerts prosecutors to cyber-enabled hate crime offences and Violence against Women and Girls (VaWG). It notes the prominence of slurs of offensive discriminatory references. It also warns of ‘baiting’, the practice of humiliating a person online by labelling them as sexually promiscuous or posting ‘photoshopped’ images of people on social media platforms. In a section on hate crimes on social media, the guidance states: “Prosecutors must also have regard to whether the offence was motivated by any form of discrimination against the victim’s ethnic or national origin, gender, disability, age, religion or belief, sexual orientation or gender identity; or the suspect demonstrated hostility towards the victim based on any of those characteristics. “The presence of any such motivation or hostility will mean that it is more likely that prosecution is required.”

It continues: “When assessing communications that appear to be motivated by such discrimination or demonstrate such hostility, prosecutors should be alert to any additional reference or context to the communication in question. “Such references or context may sometimes elevate a communication that would otherwise not meet the high threshold to one that, in all the circumstances, can be considered grossly offensive. “For instance, a reference within the communication to a recent tragic event, involving many deaths of persons who share any of the protected characteristics.” The DPP said: “Social media can be used to educate, entertain and enlighten but there are also people who use it to bully, intimidate and harass. “Ignorance is not a defence and perceived anonymity is not an escape. Those who commit these acts, or encourage others to do the same, can and will be prosecuted.”

The guidance provides information for prosecutors considering cases of ‘sexting’ that involve images taken of under-18-year-olds. It advises that it would not usually be in the public interest to prosecute the consensual sharing of an image between two children of a similar age in a relationship. A prosecution may be appropriate in other scenarios, however, such as those involving exploitation, grooming or bullying. Today also sees the launch of CPS Public Policy Statements on Hate Crime, which will now be put to a public consultation. These will focus on crimes against disabled people, racial and religious and homophobic and transphobic hate crime.

The DPP added: “This month marks the 30th anniversary of the CPS and this latest guidance shows how much the nature of our prosecutions has changed in that time. “We are constantly working to ensure that our guidance stays relevant to modern crime and consultations are a crucial part of that process. “We welcome the comments and opinions of communities and those affected by hate crimes to help us inform the way we deal with such cases in the future. “Our latest Hate Crime Report showed that in 2015/16 more hate crime prosecutions were completed than ever before. More than four in five prosecuted hate crimes result in a conviction; with over 73 per cent guilty pleas, which is good news for victims. “We have undertaken considerable steps to improve our prosecution of hate crime and we are committed to sustaining these efforts.”
© The Pink News


UK: Woman wearing hijab attacked in London street

A woman had her hijab pulled down on a busy London street in racially motivated assault.

9/10/2016- The woman, aged in her 20s, was walking along High Road in Tottenham, north London, with a friend when they were approached from behind by two males. The victim was not injured but shocked and distressed, the Met said. Police are appealing for witnesses and information into the attack on 28 September. One of the males pulled down the victim's hijab before both suspects made off in the direction of Pelham Road. The first suspect is described as a white man, aged in his late 20s or early 30s, with blond or ginger shaved hair and stubble.

What is a hijab?
The most visible form of hjab is the head covering that many Muslim women wear but it can go further. Hijab refers to the complete covering of everything except the hands, face and feet in long, loose and non see-through garments. He was approximately 5ft 6in and wearing a burgundy coloured hooded top. The second suspect is described as a man of Mediterranean appearance, aged in his late 20s or early 30s, clean shaven with spiky hair. He was wearing a grey hooded top. Det Con Ben Cousin said: "This was a shocking attack in broad daylight in the middle of a busy street." It comes ahead of National Hate Crime Awareness week on Monday, which will see police officers from across London talking to communities about concerns around hate crime. In the past 12 months, the Met has recorded a rise in nearly all areas of hate crime. Islamophobic attacks have seen the second largest increase, up 65% in the last year with a spate of religiously aggravated attacks on members of the public - many of whom were targeted on the presumption they were Muslim due to the clothes they were wearing.
© BBC News


UK: Homophobic attacks rose 147% in three months after Brexit vote

Campaigners call for tougher laws after hate crimes against LGBT people more than doubled after EU referendum

8/10/2016- The number of homophobic attacks more than doubled in the three months after the Brexit vote, with toxicity fostered by the EU referendum debate spreading beyond race and religion, new figures suggest. Hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people increased 147% during July, August and September compared to the same period last year, according to the LGBT anti-violence charity Galop. Statistics from the police have already documented a spike of hate crimes against ethnic minorities and foreign nationals. Few analysts predicted a rise in hate crime based on victims’ sexual orientation, however. Galop gave support to 187 LGBT people who had suffered hate crimes in the three months that followed the referendum vote, compared with 72 in the same period in 2015. The rise is proportionately higher than other hate crime rises in the wake of Brexit.

More than 3,000 allegations of hate crimes were made to UK police, largely in the form of harassment and threats, in the week before and the week after the 23 June referendum vote, a year-on-year increase of 42%. On Monday the Home Office will publish comprehensive hate crime reporting figures covering the year until April 2016, although sources say they will also include an addendum addressing the post-Brexit spike. The figures are also expected to focus on Scotland Yard’s progress in tackling disability hate crime. Nik Noone, Galop’s chief executive, said: “UK responses to hate crime are among the best in the world but our hate crime laws are far from perfect. The highest prison sentence a court can give for homophobic, transphobic or disability common assault is six months. That is just a quarter of the two-year maximum for race and faith common assault. This disparity needs redress.”

David Isaac, chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission said: “Currently, the law and sentencing policy create a ‘hierarchy of hate crime’ and send the message that some groups are more worthy of protection than others. This undermines confidence of victims in the law – and may contribute to the huge levels of under–reporting in some communities. We call on the government to undertake a full-scale review of aggravated offences and sentencing provision.” Four in five respondents to the Galop report, released today, say they have experienced hate crime. However, only a quarter reported the last hate crime they experienced, suggesting a gap in the data collected by police and government departments. The report, based on a survey of 467 LGBT people, shows low satisfaction with the police, with half of those who reported a hate crime to them feeling unsatisfied with the outcome.

A government spokesman said: “In a Britain that works for everyone, hatred against a person because of their sexual orientation will not be tolerated. We welcome Galop’s recognition that UK hate crime laws are among the best in the world, but there is more to be done – and the government’s hate crime action plan, published in July, included measures to encourage prosecutors to pursue tougher sentences for all hate crimes, including those targeting the LGBT community.”
© The Guardian.


UK: Neo-Nazi rally held in Cambridgeshire field despite ban on event around Europe

A three-day neo-Nazi rally has been held in a field in Cambridgeshire despite a ban in other countries around Europe and in Russia.

8/10/2016- The international white supremacist group Blood and Honour organised the gathering at Haddenham, near Ely, to mark the anniversary of the death of founder Ian Stuart Donaldson. Mr Donaldson died in a car crash on September 24 1993. A number of banning orders against the group are in place in countries including Germany and Russia due to imagery used at concerts and links to violent extremism, but no such ban is in place in the UK. An East Cambridgeshire District Council spokesman said: "A temporary event notice was filed online for a 'private party with music'." Only police and environmental services can oppose a temporary event notice, if they believe it would undermine a licensing objective. Cambridgeshire Police confirmed officers were aware of the "possible right wing element" and conducted risk assessments rather than oppose the event, and the temporary event notice was permitted.

Police had also been told the gathering would feature music and would be in aid of the Help for Heroes charity, though the charity has said it was unaware of the event, the event was not registered and the charity would not accept donations from extremist groups. It is thought the majority of around 350 attendees came from countries where Blood and Honour is banned. Matthew Collins, from the Hope Not Hate campaign group, said: "It's an attraction for foreign Nazis to attend a concert in the UK." He said it was "disappointing" the event had gone ahead on the weekend of Saturday September 24. Mr Donaldson was the founder of skinhead band Skrewdriver and Blood and Honour took its name from one of the band's albums.

Blood and Honour - or Blut and Ehre - was also the motto of the Hitler Youth, which was the youth organisation of the Nazi Party in Germany. After his death, Mr Donaldson became a martyr among neo-Nazis, Mr Collins said. He said there were only around 250 neo-Nazis in the UK, and most attendees would have come from countries such as Germany, Poland and Holland as they were drawn to the UK, where Mr Donaldson was born. A Cambridgeshire Police spokesman said: "There was a three-day music event held over the weekend before last in a private field near Haddenham, with the owner's permission. "We had been in contact with other police forces about similar events and were aware of the possible right wing element. "Senior officers planned and implemented a response proportionate to the risk. "We worked with the organisers and land owner and the event took place without any disorder or crime being committed."

No formal complaints had been received by police and no offences were being investigated. A spokesman for Help for Heroes said: "Help for Heroes is strictly non-political; we simply want to help our wounded. "This event was not registered with the charity and we do not accept donations from extremist groups. "Donations made by this group will be rejected." Blood and Honour has been approached for comment.
© The Press Association


UK: Leaflet calling for death of those who insult Islam 'handed out at London mosque'

The extremist booklets, reportedly handed out at a religious festival, say apostates 'deserve to be assassinated'

8/10/2016- The Metropolitan Police have launched a hate-crime investigation after literature stating that those who insult Islam “must be killed” was reportedly handed out at a London mosque. The leaflets, said to be distributed at a holy gathering by the Dar-ul-Uloom Qadria Jilania mosque in Walthamstow, state that apostates “deserve to be assassinated” and point to a classic manual of Islamic law to justify such killings. Imam Syed Abdul Qadir Jilani, whose named appears on the front cover of the booklets, is believed to be linked to their distribution, the London Evening Standard reported, although he has strongly denied the claims. The booklet cites the case of Mumtaz Qadri, a fundamentalist who murdered Pakistani governor Salmaan Taseer in 2011 after he spoke in support for liberal reforms to the country’s strict Islamic laws. It says “all Muslims should support” Qadri and that being a “big shot” does not prevent someone from being an apostate who deserves to be killed.

One worshipper who received the leaflet said: “Two or three people delivered the leaflet. I am shocked. I think it gives a bad impression. Islam teaches when you live here you obey the law and the rule of law, but this is not doing that.” Scotland Yard responded to the reports that action was being taken to establish whether a criminal offence has taken place. A spokesman said: “We are committed to tackling hate crime in all its forms and have long since recognised the impact of hate crime on communities.” Mr Jilani said that he had no knowledge of the booklet being distributed. He said that he had not given permission for his face to be used on the front, that it had been “falsely attributed” to him, and that he does not agree with its message. He said: “I am not aware of if, why or how, the booklet was distributed in Dar-ul-Uloom Qadria Jilania.”
© The Independent


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