jueves, 20 de octubre de 2011


An Austrian soldier faces a trial for buying flags showing banned Nazi era signs and slogans while participating in an international peacekeeping mission. A spokesman for the defence ministry said today (Tues) a colleague of the militiaman informed superiors when he showed the items to him while on patrol at the Golan Heights in Syria. Army officials said the incident was an isolated case, adding that the soldier was suspended. They explained Austrian prosecutors were already looking into the case. The member of an Austrian militia unit could face a fine or a prison term for publicly backing Nazi ideology. One of the flags he owned reportedly showed a swastika while the other one featured prohibited slogans. Only last month, a 54-year-old man was sentenced to six months in jail by a court in Wiener Neustadt, Lower Austria, for glorifying the Third Reich. The man – a co-founder and former head of the banned Austrian Nationalist Party (NVP) – was found guilty of breaching Austrian anti-Nazi propaganda bylaws by celebrating late World War Two (WWII) era dictator Adolf Hitler’s birthday between 2007 and 2009. Prosecutors informed the court that he also gave the Nazi salute and praised banned symbols like the swastika as well as Hitler himself. Investigators said data found on the defendant’s computer confirmed his neo-Nazi attitude.


Despite three men associated with the neo-fascist web site Redwatch being given prison sentences last year for propagating racial hatred in Poland the site is being regularly updated again.

Redwatch publishes online names and addresses of politicians and other individuals it considers as being “traitors to the race”. In December last year a District Court in the western city of Wroclaw sentenced three men who worked on the neo-Nazi Redwatch site to up to one and half years in prison for “promoting a totalitarian regime in Poland and encouraging hatred towards people of different ethnic origin, nationality, race and religion”. The web site has been taken off line several times, only to reappear again. In the last month, the web site has been updated six times – the last entry on 10 October with details of the email address and Facebook page of a local politician in northern Poland. The Gazeta Wyborcza daily claims that the decision to start updating the web pages again was taken at a rally in the Kujawy region, central Poland. of Blood and Honour, a neo-nazi group associated with Redwatch. The resumption of activity on the Redwatch web site coincides with a number of incidents of racist vandalism in central and northern Poland, including the painting of Nazi symbols at the end of August on the memorial to victims of the 1941 Jedwabne massacre.

martes, 18 de octubre de 2011


European football tackles discrimination through annual FARE Action Weeks.

This week sees a new round of UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League matches across Europe - and the fight against discrimination will be the focus at stadiums throughout the continent, as UEFA gives its full support to Europe's biggest anti-discrimination campaign which kicked-off last week. Forty matches across UEFA's prestigious club competitions will be dedicated to the "Unite Against Racism" campaign. A 30-second "No to Racism" giant screen advert will be shown and tannoy announcements will be made before each game. Every team will be accompanied onto the pitch by children wearing "Unite Against Racism" T-shirts and the captains will be asked to wear a "Unite Against Racism" branded armband. The activities will be witnessed by thousands of fans in the stadiums and millions more on television.

These are just some of the 2,000 activities taking place during the FARE Action Weeks in over 42 different countries across Europe under the theme of Football People. The activities involve fans, clubs, national associations, ethnic minority groups and youth organisations. Grants from FARE were offered to over 100 grassroots initiatives thanks to UEFA's support. UEFA President, Michel Platini, spoke of his support for the FARE Action Week: "I am proud to be part of the "Football People" campaign which highlights UEFA's commitment to tackling discrimination in football in partnership with the FARE network. For over 10 years, we have worked side by side the FARE network on what is a central pillar in European football and will continue to strive towards a respect for diversity in the game." The executive director of FARE, Piara Powar, said: "The "Football People" Action Weeks unite community groups, fans, small clubs and top UEFA club competitions. Together we are sending out a strong and decisive message against discrimination".


The attacked member of the LGBT population A. Ž., who was at the time of the attack wearing some symbols of the Pride Parade, reported the case to the police and then also informed GSA. According to the information GSA received, there were three attackers who followed A. Ž. and her two friends from Zeleni Venac to the corner of Carice Milice and Maršala Birjuzova, where the assault took place. After they had noticed that A. Ž. was wearing symbols of the LGBT movement, one of them assaulted her uttering curses and several times asking her if she was a lesbian. He started hitting her and then drew a knife and attacked her with it. A. Ž. suffered major physical injuries – a deep cut on the right hand with severed tendons on two fingers, a head contusion, and several bruises and cuts all over her body, which the attacker gave her using his fists and legs. The attack would have certainly ended with more tragic consequences if A. Ž., with the help of a friend, had not offered resistance in an attempt to save her life and grabbed the knife with the hand that was injured, thus avoiding wounds that could have been fatal.

A. Ž. is currently feeling better, her condition is stable and she is under constant medical supervision in Clinical centre of Serbia, where she is awaiting operation of her right hand. Gay Straight Alliance is in continuous contact with her – GSA’s activists were with A. Ž. this morning when she was admitted to the Emergency centre, and then later today they visited her with a lawyer from GSA’s Legal Service. GSA and their Legal Service will actively monitor the work of the police, the public prosecutor and the judiciary on this case, and will represent the victims of this violent attack before all relevant institutions. GSA commends this morning’s rapid intervention by the police. However, GSA demands that all perpetrators and accomplices in this crime be found without delay, regardless of their age, and that they be brought to justice, while the relevant court must impose adequate punishments as soon as possible.

Attacks on LGBT people happen throughout the entire year, which is something GSA and other LGBT organisations regularly inform the public about. This case of severe injuries, i.e. an attempted murder, is one of the most serious ones that were reported to Gay Straight Alliance in the last several years. It is obvious that attackers no longer shrink from trying to take the lives of those who are of a different sexual orientation or who wear symbols of the LGBT movement. GSA therefore asks the relevant state institutions, and especially those politicians who have lately been talking about LGBT people and their activities in a negative context, if it is necessary that somebody be killed in order to finally realise how serious and severe the problems are that LGBT population in Serbia faces and in order to begin solving those problems.

Attacks which keep getting more frequent and more serious obviously cannot be stopped by sporadically dealing with the consequences; rather, it is high time to start dealing with the causes. GSA demands that the state begin without delay the process of systemic reduction of violence and discrimination against LGBT people and that it urgently bring a plan for combatting violence and homophobia. In addition, GSA will inform all relevant international organisations about this case.

jueves, 13 de octubre de 2011


“The Roma across Europe have come under renewed attack lately. The stigmatization of an entire community and the seeking of vengeance for crimes allegedly perpetuated by an individual member of it is deeply disturbing. The use of violence and terror by extremist groups threatens not only the physical security of individuals but, if unchecked, also the overall stability and credibility of our States as democratic, multi-ethnic entities based on the rule of law. “The recent incidents of anti-Roma violence appear to be instigated by extreme nationalists, who exploit insecurities associated with the economic crisis and political uncertainties of our time. Their simplistic messages, often accompanied by the discourse of victimization of the majority community, appear attractive to many people who seek scapegoats and easy solutions to their problems. In such cases, State authorities and all political actors must show leadership and confront such messages. They should denounce hatred and marginalization and ensure the basic security and full respect for the rights of all their residents, particularly those from minority backgrounds.

“History is full of warnings about the repercussions of intolerance in multi-ethnic societies. Violence must be confronted at both the political and judicial level. Law enforcement bodies should be given full support in investigating and prosecuting cases against suspected perpetrators of violence, ensuring fair trials. If this is not done promptly, the credibility and legitimacy of democratic institutions will be undermined and the capacity of society to contain violence and resolve conflicts will be weakened. “Regrettably, it is not uncommon for ethno-cultural diversity to generate nationalistic and xenophobic responses, particularly at times of crisis. Such responses, however, need to be countered so that they remain marginal and contained outside mainstream politics. I call upon political leaders, and police and judicial authorities across the OSCE participating States to take resolute, consistent and urgent action against violence and the dangerous ‘mainstreaming’ of intolerance in the political and public sphere.”

martes, 11 de octubre de 2011


Led by the convicted con artist Lukáš Kohout, right-wing extremists from the Workers' Social Justice Party (Dìlnická strana sociální spravedlnosti - DSSS) and other neo-Nazi groups, 300 - 400 people marched through Ústí nad Labem today. The anti-Romani gathering was convened by locals, allegedly to support the rights of "decent" citizens against "the parasitism of inadaptables." The crowd did not deviate from its planned route. At one place, neo-Nazis and approximately 10 opponents of neo-Nazism and racism yelled at one another. As many as 50 police officers kept them apart. Two demonstrators wore neo-Nazi slogans on their coats. There were 100 state police officers, 100 municipal police, and members of an anti-conflict team deployed on the streets of the town. A police helicopter flew overhead and mounted police and police dogs were also on standby.

Several promoters of the DSSS arrived in town carrying flags. The gathering started with speeches by the organizers on the square: Convener Milan Sùra, right-wing extremists from the DSSS, and convicted con artist Lukáš Kohout, who has convened similar marches in Varnsdorf. The crowd then marched through the town. The organizers planned the route to lead from Mírové Square down Velká Hradební street to the Hotel Vladimír, returning to Lidické námìstí along Masarykova street. Along the way, people chanted the slogan "Stop Black Racism" and nationalist slogans such as "Bohemia for the Czechs" or "Nothing but the Nation". They bore banners referencing the attacks allegedly committed by Romani people in Nový Bor and Rumburk, which sparked the recent unrest the neo-Nazis are now exploiting.

Right-wing extremists from the DSSS and convicted con artist Lukáš Kohout occupied the head of the march. "That is exactly what the initiator of this event probably didn't want. It looks like the protest has gotten away from his control and party members have taken over this initiative," a reporter for Czech daily Mf DNES said. An incident occurred at a point along the march route near a closed-down restaurant where local anarchists usually meet. They had hung a banner on the building reading "Nationalism is kitsch" which the marchers tore down. About 10 opponents of neo-Nazis and racism had to be separated from the protesting crowd by about 50 special forces police. The groups shouted at one another for several minutes before the crowd continued its march without further clashes. After roughly an hour and a half, the conveners of the march officially ended it on Lidické Square and people started to disperse.

Police detained two ultra-right radicals for interrogation. "They were wearing illegal slogans on their coats, but it's too early to say whether they have committed a crime or a misdemeanor," said Jarmila Hrubešová, spokesperson for the Ústí police. News server iDNES.cz reports that the men were wearing the English-language phrase "Blood and Honor", the name of an originally British neo-Nazi organization established in 1987 by a singer with the Nazi band Skrewdriver, Ian Stuart. The name was taken from the battle cry of the Hitler Youth. The group defines itself as a "Nationalist Revolutionary Movement" espousing the legacy of the Third Reich. Early this morning, police discovered and removed a cache of paving stones and wooden tool-handles in a cellar along the march route. Mounds of paving stones were also found on Velká hradební street. Before noon, police also arrested a man armed with a machete. Vladimír Danyluk, the head of the Ústí nad Labem territory, said police had been monitoring all access roads to the town since morning but did not discover any more weapons.

At 13:30, a similar rally was held in Varnsdorf (Dìèín district), where people were protesting for the ninth weekend in a row. Police spokesperson Daniel Vítek said the situation in the town was completely calm. About 150 people met on the town square, but did not march anywhere. The conveners of the demonstration once again criticized the Mayor of Varnsdorf, Martin Louka.

viernes, 7 de octubre de 2011


Europe’s increasingly vocal and powerful Far Right parties have swapped a racist agenda for an Islamophobic one, moving them closer to the mainstream, where anti-Muslim views are commonplace among conservative commentators and politicians.

Islamophobia is “more widespread in Western Europe than any social prejudice since the anti-Semitism of the 1930s”, says a leading expert on the Far Right in Europe. According to Professor Cas Mudde, a Dutch academic at DePauw University and the younger brother of prominent right-wing activist Tim Mudde, Islamophobic views have largely replaced racist ones on the Far Right. But anti-Muslim rhetoric is not just limited to the extreme fringe, says Professor Mudde; Mainstream European commentators and politicians also frequently denounce Muslim practices. “The problem is that the vast majority of Muslims in Europe are born and raised there. By excluding them discursively, but also increasingly in government policies, such as putting limitations on building mosques, which you don’t have on churches and synagogues, or by banning the burqa, you marginalise and exclude a large part of the population which is growing.”

Mudde argues that Islamophobic ideas have become acceptable because a near majority of European citizens now consider Muslims to be alien to Western culture:
Democratic societies are based on loyalty and solidarity. If Muslims are excluded and isolated, why should they feel solidarity with other populations? It’s important because there are increasingly cities in Europe with Muslim majorities.” In addition, the demonization of the Islamic faith in popular culture has also led to a rise in Islamophobic hate crimes. Strong evidence of this came in a 2009 study of anti-Muslim prejudice by the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency. They questioned 23,500 people from ethnic minority groups in all 27 EU Member States about their experience of prejudice. The report found an extremely high level of intolerance: One in three Muslim respondents had been discriminated against in the previous 12 months, and 11 percent had experienced a racist, or anti-Islamic, crime.

Despite the high figures, most discrimination against Muslims goes unrecorded. Some 79 percent of Muslim respondents in the study had not reported their experiences; with 59 percent believing that “nothing would happen, or change by reporting it”, while 38 percent said that “it happens all the time”, and “cannot be stopped”. Dr Robert Lambert, the co-director of the UK’s European Muslim Research Centre, has researched hate crimes against Muslims in the Tower Hamlets area of London.
I was a policeman in the area in the 1980s and 1990s, when the large Bangladeshi community was terrorised by Far Right groups like the National Front and Combat 18. It was a largely poor, new immigrant community and very intimidated. Violence and racism became regular and routine,” he said. “Then, eventually the threat receded because the local community stood up against it robustly.” However, Lambert’s recent interviews with Muslims in Tower Hamlets now indicate that hate crimes have returned. “Some of the victims from the 80s and 90s thought it was all over, but they say they are victims a second time over. First, it was their ethnic identity and now they are targeted for their Muslim identity.”

The website Islamophobia Watch also lists thousands of acts of violence and prejudice, many of them carried out by members of the English Defence League (EDL) – an anti-Muslim street protest group formed in 2009. Last week, for example, EDL thugs in east London were jailed for smashing their way into a mosque in Redbridge and attacking the imam. The attack took place near Dagenham, where the EDL has staged anti-Muslim demonstrations outside another proposed mosque. The EDL has also been trying to spread its malign influence overseas. An investigation by the left-leaning British newspaper The Observer established that the movement’s leaders have regular contact with anti-jihad groups in the Tea Party organisation, and invited Rabbi Nachum Shifren, a Tea Party activist, to speak about Sharia law and funding, in London. The EDL has also elicited support from the notorious Pamela Geller, who was influential in the protests against plans to build an Islamic cultural centre near Ground Zero. Geller, darling of the Tea Party’s growing anti-Islamic wing, advocates an alliance with the EDL. She said on her blog: “I share the EDL’s goals… We need to encourage rational, reasonable groups that oppose the Islamisation of the west.”

Islamophobia: Fuelled By Politics?

The focus on Islamophobia distances the EDL from the racist outpourings of the discredited British National Party. It also moves the movement closer to the mainstream, where many right-wing commentators and politicians make anti-Islamic statements. “Islamophobia pre-dated the main radical right parties and many of their arguments come from mainstream parties and journalists,” said Mudde. “In Britain, not many people read the National Front’s magazines, but millions read the Daily Mail, whose columnists like Melanie Phillips are Islamophobic. Her columns are way more influential than the EDL, or the BNP. They are often quoted on the EDL site and serve to legitimise some of the Far Right’s views.” Melanie Phillips is one of Britain’s most strident right-wing commentators. She has written that Britain is “sleepwalking into Islamisation”, and “doesn’t grasp that it is facing a pincer attack from both terrorism and cultural infiltration and usurpation”.

Europe’s Far Right also like to quote the hard-line views of major politicians, including British PM David Cameron, German chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicholas Sarkozy, all of whom have branded multi-culturalism “a failure”. Cameron was the first European leader to criticise “divided communities”. In February this year, he called for an end to “passive tolerance”, and told members of all faiths that they must integrate. His remarks were immediately picked up by Europe’s Far Right. French National Front leader Marine Le Pen, for instance, said that Cameron supported her party’s ideals. “I sense an evolution at European level, even in classic governments. I can only congratulate him,” she said. Elsewhere, Cameron’s speech was perceived as inflammatory, especially as it came on the same day as a large demonstration by the EDL. “Whatever the intention, the timing of this speech has played into the hands of those who wish to sow seeds of division and hatred,” Nick Lowles, director of anti-extremist group Hope Not Hate told The Guardian.

We should not be too surprised to find right-wing, and Islamophobic, rhetoric among Europe’s leaders. Most of the continent has been lurching to the right of the spectrum for some time. In 2001, 12 European states were under right-wing, or Conservative ruling parties and 14 states were governed by left-wing, or liberal parties. But by 2011, only five European states were ruled by left, or centre-left, politicians, with right-wing, or Conservatives, ruling 21 states. There has also been a concomitant rise in the percentage of votes won by Far Right parties in some European countries. In the Netherlands, the Partij voor de Vrijheid (PVV) won 15.5 percent of the national vote in the 2010 elections (up from 5.9 percent in 2006). That gave them 24 seats out of 150 in the House of Representatives. The PVV also won 17 percent and four seats out of 25 in the European Parliament. The Islamophobic Geert Wilders leads the PVV. Wilders has called for a ban on the Koran and new mosques, a tax on head scarves, and an end to immigration from Muslim countries.

In Norway the Progress Party, which was supported by mass murderer Anders Breivik, won 22.9 percent of the vote in the 2009 elections (up from 1.9 percent in 1977). And in Switzerland, the Swiss People’s Party (UDC) won 28.9 percent in the 2007 elections (up from 11.1 percent in 1971). Other parties with a significant stake in national politics include the Lega Nord (Northern League) in Italy (10.2 percent at the 2009 European elections), the Jobbik party in Hungary (14.7 percent at the 2009 European elections), the National Front in France, the Flemish Interest Party in Belgium, theDanish People’s Party, the Sweden Democrats and the True Finns. The rise in paranoia about Muslims has also seen legal restrictions placed on Islamic practice. Five German states have banned female Muslim teachers from wearing the headscarf, but still allow teachers to wear Christian symbols.

In April, France introduced a law against covering the face in public. Women in niqabs are now banned from walking down the street, or going to the shops. French politicians said they were acting to protect the “gender equality” and “dignity” of women. But Muslim groups reported an increase in discrimination and verbal and physical violence against women in veils. Belgium introduced a niqab ban this summer, punishable by seven days in prison. In Italy, the far-right Northern League has revived a 1975 law against face-covering to fine women in certain areas of the North. And Silvio Berlusconi’s party is now preparing an anti-niqab law. Denmark is preparing legislation to limit the wearing of niqabs; politicians in Austria, the Netherlands and Switzerland are pushing for outright bans. “The niqab ban allows the use of lofty liberal-democratic arguments to express prejudice,” said Mudde. “The right-wing politician can argue ‘I’m not saying it’s barbaric and a threat to the way I want to live, but I’m defending the right of women’. But those arguments depend on the motivations of those wearing it. If they are forced, that’s a bad thing, but if it’s their choice, the liberal will say it’s not right to limit freedom of expression.” “The dominant discourse is that it’s not their choice, but many Muslim women say they want to be judged for whom they are, not their appearance. They argue that European women are completely sexualised. We end up with a slippery argument, with both sides saying ‘my culture is better than yours’.”

Ironically, the labelling of heterogeneous groups of people from Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Algeria, or Morocco, and many other countries, “Muslims” has created a stronger group identity. Professor Terri Givens, from the Government Department at The University of Texas, said: “In the 1990s I didn’t hear much talk about Muslims, or veils, when I was researching racism in Europe. People from Turkey, or Pakistan, would refer to themselves as Pakistani or Turkish before they thought of themselves as Muslims.” “But since 9/11, London’s 7/7 and the Madrid train bombing, the level of Islamophobic rhetoric has increased and we increasingly see a defensive reaction in these communities. Being Muslim is adopted as a political identity in response to Islamophobia. The response from Muslim women has been to wear the hijab more often.” Muslim grievances against demonization also rarely find political voice. “Islamophobia is a serious problem in Europe,” said Professor Givens. “Studies in both France and Germany show well-educated Muslims are far less likely to be employed than white people, but the ability of Muslims to get engaged politically in order to fight discrimination is limited.” “The Netherlands is one of the best at getting Muslims on local and municipal councils, but in most European countries there are very few mechanisms they feel they can trust.”

martes, 4 de octubre de 2011


Two young men who handed out pamphlets for the white supremacist group Blood and Honour were sentenced Friday for their parts in a series of racially motivated assaults in Edmonton last February. David Roger Goodman, 19, pleaded guilty Friday to two counts of criminal harassment, two counts of assault and causing a disturbance. He was sentenced to 15 months plus a year of probation to get counselling for a drinking problem. James Andrew Brooks, 26, pleaded guilty in July to two counts of criminal harassment, causing a disturbance, assault and assault with a weapon. The court ordered a pre-sentence report, then Judge L.G. Anderson sentenced Brooks to 13 months in prison in a separate proceeding Friday. Brooks, coincidentally, played a neo-Nazi skinhead descending into madness in a independent film called Blue Eyed Devil. All charges relate to the evening of Feb. 12, which started with Brooks, Goodman and two friends handing out flyers promoting the group Blood and Honour.

They started drinking at bar, singing a “N
azi song” from the movie American History X, yelling racial slurs at non-white patrons and talking about hangings. Two people, both black, told police they left because they felt unsafe. Eventually the friends left and came across a group of black men. Goodman head-butted one of them, knocked him to the ground and punched him about 20 times while he was on the ground. Brooks and another accused kicked the man. Goodman was later caught on video in a nearby liquor store bragging about the assault. In the last confrontation, Goodman punched a bouncer who refused to let them into a club, and Brooks attacked a five-foot Caucasian girl who stood up for her non-white friend. He was charged with assault with a weapon because he punched her with a glove that had plastic knuckles. The two friends with Brooks and Goodman are scheduled to appear again in court November and April.