miércoles, 22 de febrero de 2012

Jean-Marie Le Pen convicted of contesting crimes against humanity

Court confirms conviction of far right Front National founder, who said Nazi occupation was not 'particularly inhumane'

Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of France's far right Front National, has been convicted of contesting crimes against humanity for saying the Nazi occupation was not "particularly inhumane".

A Paris appeals court upheld the three-month suspended prison sentence and €10,000 (£8,283) fine handed to Le Pen in 2009.

Le Pen had told the far-right magazine Rivarol in 2005: "in France at least the German occupation was not particularly inhumane, even if there were a number of excesses – inevitable in a country of 550,000 sq km."

He added: "If the Germans had carried out mass executions across the country as the received wisdom would have it, then there wouldn't have been any need for concentration camps for political deportees."

Aided by the collaborationist Vichy government, German authorities deported more than 70,000 French Jews to death camps during the occupation from 1940 to 1944. Thousands of French civilians died in reprisals by the German army. France has strict laws against denying the Holocaust and contesting crimes against humanity

Le Pen said he would now appeal to the highest court in France, criticising the judges for handing down the decision in an election period.

His daughter Marine Le Pen, who now heads the Front National, is currently in third place in the presidential race. In a poll published on Wednesday by Harris Interactive, she was on 20%, with Nicolas Sarkozy on 24% and the Socialist favourite François Hollande on 28%.

The election takes place in two rounds in April and May.

The Guardian - 16/02/12

martes, 14 de febrero de 2012

Estonia Opens Memorial to Victims of the Holocaust

A "Gallery of Memory" installation dedicated to 974 Jews killed in Estonia during the Holocaust was opened at the Jewish Center in Tallinn on January 27, the date that marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

"The gallery consists of niches in which glass pieces are placed bearing the names of all the Jews we know to have been killed in Estonia up until January 20, 1942," said the center's executive director Vadim Ryvlin, referring to the time of the Wannsee Conference in Berlin in which Estonia was declared"Judenfrei."

"Perpetuating the names of these people was our goal," said Vadim Ryvlin.

Prior to World War II, approximately 4,300 Jews lived in Estonia. Most fled prior to the Nazi occupation of the country in June of 1941. Nearly all of those remaining, approximately 1,000, were killed by the regime.

At the opening ceremony, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip said: "I am convinced that the [...] mutual understanding [between the ethnic Estonian and Jewish communities] cannot be undermined by malice or indifference, nor by provocateurs, yellow media or political technologists abroad. I point out once again that liability for the crimes of totalitarian regimes does not expire, that there can't be any justification for such crimes and that Estonia has condemned them without reservations."

The installation will become a permanent exhibition and is open to the public.

ERR News

viernes, 10 de febrero de 2012

Roma people, concerns in Europe

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, expressed deep concern about the increase of violence against Roma people. Referring particularly to serious racist incidents and forms of stigmatizing rhetoric in some member state. The Committee then invited governments to refrain from the use of anti-Roma rhetoric, especially during election campaigns and strongly condemn all threats and intimidation, as well as hate speech. Given the economic environment, has finally been urged not to use the Roma as an “easy target or scapegoat”.

Declaration of the Committee of Ministers on the Rise of Anti-Gypsyism and Racist Violence against Roma in Europe (Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 1 February 2012 at the 1132nd meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies)

1. In many countries, Roma are subject to racist violence directed against their persons and property. These attacks have sometimes resulted in serious injuries and deaths. This violence is not a new phenomenon and has been prevalent in Europe for centuries. However, there has been a notable increase of serious incidents in a number of member States, including serious cases of racist violence, stigmatising anti-Roma rhetoric, and generalisations about criminal behaviour.

2. Such incidents have been publicly condemned by, inter alia, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe and his Special Representative for Roma issues, the Commissioner for Human Rights, the Parliamentary Assembly, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, the Council of Europe Group of Eminent Persons, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), as well as various international governmental and non-governmental organisations.

3. The Committee of Ministers recalls the priorities agreed by member States in the Strasbourg Declaration on Roma, adopted at the high-level meeting on 20 October 2010, which include ensuring the timely and effective investigation of racially motivated crime and strengthening efforts to combat hate speech and stigmatisation.

4. In its General Policy Recommendation No. 13 on combating anti-Gypsyism and discrimination against Roma, ECRI recalls that anti-Gypsyism is “a specific form of racism, an ideology founded on racial superiority, a form of dehumanisation and institutional racism nurtured by historical discrimination, which is expressed, among others, by violence, hate speech, exploitation, stigmatisation and the most blatant kind of discrimination.” As such, anti-Gypsyism is one the most powerful mechanisms of Roma exclusion.

5. The effectiveness of strategies, programmes or action plans aimed at improving the situation and the integration of the Roma at international, national or local level, can be significantly reinforced by resolute action to combat anti-Gypsyism and action to improve the trust between Roma and the wider community, where appropriate building on ECRI’s guidelines. Such documents should make clear that attitudes among the non-Roma population are a crucial factor that needs to be addressed. Roma integration measures should include both measures targeted at the Roma population (in particular positive measures) and measures targeted at the non-Roma population, notably to combat anti-Gypsyism and discrimination.

6. Against this background, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe: i. expresses its deep concern about the rise of anti-Gypsyism, anti-Roma rhetoric and violent attacks against Roma which are incompatible with standards and values of the Council of Europe and constitute a major obstacle to successful social inclusion of Roma and full respect of their human rights; ii. draws the attention of governments of member States to ECRI’s General Policy Recommendation No. 13, in particular its paragraph 8 which contains useful guidelines on combating racist violence and crimes against Roma; iii. calls on governments and public authorities at all levels and the media to refrain from using anti-Roma rhetoric, in particular during electoral campaigns, and to condemn vigorously, swiftly and in public, all acts of racist violence against Roma, including threats and intimidation, as well as hate speech directed against them; iv. calls on governments and public authorities at all levels to be vigilant not to use Roma as easy targets and scapegoats, in particular in times of economic crisis, and to conduct in a speedy and effective manner the requisite investigations of all crimes committed against Roma and identify any racist motives for such acts, so that the perpetrators do not go unpunished and escalation of ethnic tensions is avoided; v. welcomes the existing examples of swift reaction from state and local authorities to hate crime and anti-Roma incidents, including legal responses (e.g. amendments of national legislation to protect Roma from harassment and intimidation; prosecution and conviction by national courts of persons committing such crimes, including through the Internet and other media, preventing and condemning extremist organisations inciting or committing such crimes). It stresses the need for effective action to record racist crimes, support victims and encourage the latter to report such racist incidents; vi. recognises the interdependence of inclusion and anti-discrimination; therefore, any strategy, programme or policy developed to improve the situation and integration of Roma should include, in addition to measures promoting the social and economic inclusion of Roma in areas such as education, health, employment and housing, measures combating discrimination and addressing anti-Gypsyism, in line with its Recommendation CM/Rec(2008)5 on Policies for Roma and/or Travellers in Europe. Such measures could include research on the phenomenon and awareness-raising activities among the non-Roma population, conducted in co-operation with Roma organisations, with a view to addressing stereotypes and prejudice towards Roma. In this respect, it underlines the role and responsibility of media and journalists. It also recalls that the Council of Europe Dosta! campaign is one of the tools at the disposal of member States and encourages them to use it; vii. underlines the need for all member States to adopt specific and comprehensive antidiscrimination legislation in line with international and European standards; to set up antidiscrimination bodies equipped to promote equal treatment and to assist victims of discrimination; and to ensure that this legislation is effectively implemented

The term “Roma” used at the Council of Europe refers to Roma, Sinti, Kale and related groups in Europe, including Travellers and the Eastern groups (Dom and Lom), and covers the wide diversity of the groups concerned, including persons who identify themselves as “Gypsies”.

martes, 7 de febrero de 2012

Premier League clubs unite against homophobia in sport following BBC Three documentary

Premier League clubs signed up to an anti-homophobia charter yesterday, following a recent BBC Three documentary.

Britain's Gay Footballers aired on Monday night highlighting a lack of publicly gay professional footballers since ex-Manchester City player Justin Fashanu came out in 1990.

The government charter against homophobia and transphobia in sport was launched in June 2011 and all 20 Premier League clubs joined nearly 3,000 individuals and clubs when they signed today.

Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore said: “When the Sports Charter to tackle homophobia and transphobia in sport was launched in June 2011 the Premier League signed it and we are pleased to re-affirm our commitment to it today with each of our clubs signing it individually.”

Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone echoed Mr Scudamore’s sentiments saying: “Nearly 3,000 individuals and clubs have already signed up and I'm delighted that Premier League clubs have taken a stand by signing the Charter too.

“It sends a really strong signal when clubs in the best league in the world say enough is enough."

Chairman of the Gay Football Supporters' Network (GFSN), Chris Basiurski said: “With the recent BBC Three documentary highlighting that the issue of homophobia is prevalent in the game today, creating a safe and tolerant atmosphere in football for LGBT people has never been more important.”

Mr Basiurski added: “We are delighted that the Premier League clubs have decided to sign the Government’s charter but we are conscious that is just the first step."

The GFSN confirmed that it will be writing to the Premier League clubs, thanking them for signing the charter and monitoring their progress towards eliminating homophobia.

During the documentary, former City midfielder Joey Barton spoke out against 'archaic figures' within the game who appear to be halting the progress of welcoming homosexuality in football.

The feature was well received by The Justin Campaign, named after the focal figure of the programme.

A spokesperson for The Justin Campaign said: “The campaign was extremely moved and proud to see Justin Fashanu, the man after whom we named our voluntary organisation, being discussed in such a respectful and positive manner.”

The Justin Campaign spokesperson added: “The contribution of QPR player Joey Barton must be applauded and highly commended.

“Having a high-profile player like Barton speak up on the issue will make young people, who look up to him, think again about using homophobic language.”

The commitment by Premier League clubs comes amid LGBT History month and ahead of the international awareness initiative set up by The Justin Campaign – Homophobia v Football.

In its third year, the event will run from February 18 to 25 and has previously seen football matches organised across Europe in aid of the cause.

Last year also saw a panel event against homophobia in the sport held at Manchester's Waterside Plaza, Sale.

Further information on the charter is available athttp://homeoffice.gov.uk/equalities/lgbt/sports-charter/ and 'Football v Homophobia' onhttp://www.footballvhomophobia.com/.

Mancunian matters - 03/02/2012

viernes, 3 de febrero de 2012

Muslims and Jews join forces to tackle religious hatred

Jewish and Muslim students are joining forces to tackle anti-Semitism and Islamophobia on university campuses - in a bid to spread a message of tolerance.

One of those with first-hand experience of religious hatred is Yassir, who as a student in 2004 was abused as he set off for his mosque in London. Four teenagers spat at him and called him "Bin Laden".

Shortly afterwards, he was beaten up, which left him in a coma for days. He is now paralysed on the left side of his body, and will need care for the rest of his life. His story was recorded by the Islamic Human Rights Commission in a report in December 2006. It is not an isolated incident.


Safia, 35, from London, was eating at a restaurant in 2004 when a man started to taunt her because she was wearing a jilbaab and scarf. He then grabbed her, and started hitting her. Eventually a police officer intervened, and the attacker was arrested.

Safia has told researchers the physical scars have gone, but the mental ones are still with her.

The Muslim community is not alone in facing such attacks.

Two men wearing balaclavas threw eggs at some Jews walking to a synagogue in Manchester, according to a Jewish charity called the Community Security Trust.

In another incident reported to the charity a Jewish student was attacked in Leeds in 2009 by a group of men, who shouted "Get the Jew", before throwing snowballs at him.

In an effort to prevent more of these attacks, Jewish and Muslim students have come together to unveil Campus Ambassadors.

This team of Muslim and Jewish students will work on campuses around the country to try to improve relations between the two faiths.

The scheme has been put together by a charity called the Coexistence Trust.

One of the managers is 23-year-old Shahnaz Ahsan. She used to be a student at Oxford University, and believes there is a lot of tension between the two groups because of the Middle East conflict.

"What we are hoping to do through the Coexistence Trust is actually create a platform where Muslim and Jewish students can get a chance to interact with each other, get to know each other on the basis of students being students," she says.

Each of the ambassadors will undergo a one-year leadership development programme, and also get training in conflict resolution.

Bleak picture

Mark Robins, 20, went to a Jewish secondary school. He had virtually no contact with Muslim students while he was growing up.

That all changed when he arrived at Birmingham University. He hopes he can change opinions in his own community about Muslims.

"From time to time you'll talk to other Jews, and you'll talk about the Islamic Society and there'll be negative responses. I want to change all that," he says. "I want to ensure that there is a good future for Jews and Muslims, to bring them together to co-exist and live in peace - hopefully that will reverberate to other countries, maybe the Middle East"

"People can sometimes cling on to anti- Semitism and Islamaphobia and it's a terrible thing, I think it's horrific, I think Islamaphobia is just as abhorrent as anti-Semitism and it all needs to be stamped out in all forms," Mr Robins added.

A survey produced in 2005 by Fosis, the Federation of Student Islamic Societies, found that almost half of Muslim students had experienced Islamophobia, mostly defined as "direct and verbal".

It also found that a quarter of these incidents had taken place on university campuses. It is in the process of putting together a new survey which will be out this year.

The Community Security Trust reported 97 incidents of anti-Semitism in higher education in 2009, up from 68 the previous year. Of those, 79 were on campuses. There were four assaults and other incidents ranged from verbal abuse to attacks on property. All of this seems to paint a pretty bleak picture for both communities.

Away from tensions around the Middle East, inviting speakers on to campuses is also leading to problems.

Carly MacKenzie from the Union Of Jewish Students (UJS) says: "Hate speakers that spout anti-Semitism invited on to UK campuses by Islamic societies are one of the biggest perpetual problems currently facing Jewish students and one that UJS is working with the higher education sector to alleviate."

Major effect

On the Muslim side, the London-based Islamic Human Rights Commission believes the current set of anti-terror laws is fuelling Islamophobia.

Chairman Massoud Shadjareh says it is essential to separate security issues from the "politics of fear" and warned that Muslims were already more likely to be stopped by police than other communities.

Dressed in a black hijab, white blouse and black trousers, 20-year-old Aliya Din is a second-year student at King's College London.

She has decided to become a Campus Ambassador, and is in a positive mood at the launch of the scheme

"I'm not expecting the whole world to change, but even if you can change the perspective slightly of some people, it will make a major effect in their future lives, because that is what happens in history."

BBC News UK - 28/01/2012