Tagged: islamophobia

Pro Igual Continues Surveying Hate Crimes in Spain in 2014

CrimenesOdio2014

Pro Igual continues the initiative, launched last year, to survey individual experiences with hate crime in Spain. If you were a victim or witness of a hate crime, or know someone who was, please help us raise awareness of the true scope of the phenomenon by taking part in our online survey on hate crimes in Spain, and sharing the link among your contacts and networks. The 2014 survey is available in Spanish and English. All responses are strictly confidential. Thank you for your help!

Pro Igual joins No Hate Speech Movement

NoHateSpeechMovement

Pro Igual has joined numerous NGOs and individuals across Europe forming part in No Hate Speech Movement.

The campaign is against hate speech online in all its forms, including cyber-bullying and cyber-hate. The campaign is not designed to limit freedom of expression online. Neither is it about everyone being nice to each other online. The campaign is based upon human rights education, youth participation and media literacy.

Through participation in the Movement Pro Igual hopes to raise awareness of extreme intolerance experienced by members of our target groups – especially minorities and foreigners – and stop and prevent hate crimes that unfortunately have become a fact of life in Spain.

To read more, please visit here.

FRA Director holds speech on combating hate crime in Europe and beyond

“Hate crimes speak to people who sympathise with the offender and whose biased attitudes the offender confirms and reinforces. They say ‘don’t think you’re wanted here, because you’re not. And don’t think you’re safe, because we’ve already shown you’re not – and it could happen again. Be scared’.”

FRA Director Morten Kjaerum held a speech entitled Innocent figures: why we need more facts at the conference ‘Right-wing extremism and hate crime: minorities under pressure in Europe and beyond’ in Oslo on 14-15 May.

He began by talking of the gaps in data collection that can impede the search for lasting and effective solutions to the phenomenon of hate crime. This leaves the majority of such crimes unrecognised, unprosecuted and therefore invisible. The gaps are due both to under-reporting by victims, who often lack confidence in the authorities’ ability to afford them protection, and to under-recording by national governments. At present, only four EU Member States collect comprehensive data on hate crime, while differences of classification in national crime statistics often make it impossible to make comparisons between countries.

FRA research shows clearly that hate crime is a major problem in the EU today. This is particularly the case in the wake of the EU’s economic crisis, with violent extremism on the rise in a number of countries. Of the 93,000 respondents to FRA’s 2012 LGBT survey, 26% had experienced violence in the five years preceding the survey, with the figure rising to 35% for transgender people. In a survey of Jewish communities, FRA found that 26% had experienced some form of harassment in the 12 months preceding the survey.

The Director emphasised that hate crime transcends the experiences of the individuals directly involved, as homophobic, racist and other crimes motivated by prejudice create an ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality that harms entire groups and society as a whole. This means it is all the more important for countries to introduce enhanced penalties for bias-motivated crimes, thus making perpetrators fully accountable for their actions.

At the end of his speech, the Director underlined the fact that hate crime is not just a phenomenon that affects a few individuals marginal to society, but a direct attack on the democratic principle of equality and the assumption that each person in a democratic society can live without fear of violence and discrimination.

Original link: http://fra.europa.eu/en/news/2013/fra-director-holds-speech-combating-hate-crime-europe-and-beyond

Why the Media Treats Right-Wing and Islamist Terrorism Differently

Racial and ethnic minorities are often made scapegoats. The press ought to be attuned to that.

Original link: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/04/why-the-media-treats-right-wing-and-islamist-terrorism-differently/275090/

Larry O’Connor, a talk-radio host, Breitbart.com editor, and frequent Fox News guest, speculates about what he thinks is going to happen after the perpetrator in the Boston bomb attack is identified:

Tweet: “If perp is radical Islamist we’ll be lectured abt tolerance, If crazy right-winger, we’ll be lectured abt dangerous rhetoric.”

“The 1000+ reporters in Boston are just waiting to hear which tired old template to use,” he added. “The networks have all their experts lined up. Ready to comment on tolerance or on dangers of right-wing politics.” I’m sure that, whatever happens, the ensuing TV coverage will prove awful. But if O’Connor is right about the reaction of the media, will the media be misbehaving? Is there an illegitimate asymmetry in how right-wing and Islamist attackers would be covered?

The relevant principles involved, as I see them, are these:

  • Whether the perpetrator is an Islamist radical, the member of a violent right-wing militia, or anyone else, it is important that other people who merely share their race or ethnicity aren’t blamed or made to suffer for their acts.
  • If extremist rhetoric played a role in radicalizing the perpetrator, whether he is an Islamist radical, a right-wing militia member, or anyone else, it is fair game to criticize the attendant rhetoricians.

There are times when journalists bungle this sort of coverage in ways that are unfair to the right and times when they handle things in ways that are unfair to Muslims. But as a general matter, tolerance is urged when the perpetrator is Muslim, and not when the perpetrator is a white right-winger, not because journalists only value tolerance in one situation, but because when guys like Tim McVeigh perpetrate terrorism, there’s never an irrational backlash against white men.

That racial and ethnic tolerance will prevail goes without saying.

As for dangerous rhetoric, when the perpetrator is a radical Islamist, there is no shortage of Americans who are critical of radical imams, al-Qaeda’s magazine, or terrorist recruitment efforts. No one questions the notion that extremist propaganda can radicalize an eventual terrorist when Islamists are behind an attack. Even Muslims who are in no way radical find themselves expected to denounce the acts of Islamist terrorists (though that is wrongheaded and unfair).

To be sure, a radicalized right-winger shouldn’t cause the media to harass every right-wing talk-radio host into a defensive crouch. Of course the media ought to be attuned to the possibility of civil-liberties violations being perpetrated against non-violent right-wingers unfairly stereotyped due to their co-ideologues. But handled properly, there is nothing wrong with talking, in the aftermath of a right-wing terrorist attack, about extremist propaganda that radicalized the terrorist.

There are instances of media misbehavior that O’Connor and I would agree about. I don’t think it was fair for some to criticize Sarah Palin as if she had anything to do with the Gabby Giffords shooting. Complaints about that coverage were justified.

But as a general proposition, I think O’Connor is wrong to be aggrieved that the media will talk about tolerance if the perpetrator turns out to be a radical Islamist. And depending on the coverage, he may also be wrong to complain if a right-winger inspires conversation about dangerous rhetoric. (If the perpetrator is a Muslim, O’Connor won’t criticize anyone for indicting radical Islamist rhetoric.)

For various reasons, Americans respond to Islamist terrorism very differently than terrorism perpetrated by Tim McVeigh types. Little wonder that the excesses the media warns about vary depending upon the perpetrator. Conservatives would be on firmer ground casting this as oversensitivity if not for the fact that so many innocent Muslim Americans are victimized by people who treat them as a suspect class. Calls for tolerance aren’t rote political correctness. They’re an attempt, too often unsuccessful, to safeguard the ability of the wrongly targeted to be treated as individuals possessed of inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Racial and ethnic minorities are often made scapegoats in a way that members of the majority aren’t.

The press ought to be attuned to that.

ICSR Insight: The New Far Right – 10 Issues and Questions

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This ICSR Insight highlights 10 major themes, issues and questions that have emerged from the conference. As will be shown, the New Far Right is a new and unique challenge for Western democracies which policymakers and experts have yet to fully understand. Their success in doing so is key to making sure that modern multicultural societies remain peaceful and cohesive.

By Peter R. Neumann, ICSR Director

@ICSRblog
@PeterRNeumann

The original link: http://icsr.info/2013/04/icsr-insight-the-new-far-right-10-issues-and-questions/

Last month, ICSR – in partnership with the Community Security Trust and the Swedish National Defence College – hosted an important conference on the New Far Right, bringing together nearly 100 stakeholders from academia, politics, the media, and grassroots initiatives.

This ICSR Insight highlights 10 major themes, issues and questions that have emerged from the conference. As will be shown, the New Far Right is a new and unique challenge for Western democracies which policymakers and experts have yet to fully understand. Their success in doing so is key to making sure that modern multicultural societies remain peaceful and cohesive.

1) “The threat is real”. As the UK’s Security Minister, James Brokenshire, noted, the threat from far-right terrorism is significant, albeit “not as systematic or widespread as the al Qaeda inspired [terrorist] threat”. In UK prisons, there are currently 17 individuals who have been charged with or convicted for terrorist offences “associated with far-fight extremism”.

2) Conspiracy theory. The New Far Right is inspired – in part – by a conspiracy theory according to which Western Muslims, allied with liberal governments, plan to destroy Western democracies and replace them with a Caliphate . This movement calls itself ”Counter-Jihad”.

3) Public disorder and social cohesion. More so than terrorism, New Far Right activists have been involved in street violence and acts of public disorder. Their aggressive rhetoric divides communities and undermines social cohesion. They also campaign against the use of Islamic practices – such as ritually slaughtered halal meat.

4) Old vs. New Far Right. There are striking differences between the “old” (neo-Nazi) Far Right and so-called Counter-Jihad members like Anders Breivik. However, there also exist many similarities, and it would be wrong to ignore the continued threat from “old” far-right groups in countries such as Greece and Germany.

5) Echoes of extremism. In the British context, the New Far Right and Islamist extremists seem to be in a symbiotic relationship, confirming each other’s stereotypes and providing motives and justifications for mobilising their respective sympathisers.

6) Addressing grievances. New Far Right activism is often rooted in social, economic and cultural fears about immigration. Mainstream politicians from across the political spectrum have failed to articulate these concerns in a way that would undercut the support for far-right extremists.

7) Emerging structures. The structures of the New Far Right are increasingly pan-European, with leaders and activists from different countries coming together for joint campaigns, as well as trying to learn from each other’s successes and mistakes.

8) The Internet matters. Social media, blogs and video-sharing sites are key to understanding how the New Far Right disseminates its message, mobilises its followers, and retains a sense of cohesion despite the lack of centrally organised structures.

9) Countering the New Far Right. Government counter-radicalisation programmes – such as the British PREVENT – have mostly focused on Islamist extremism. Policymakers need to understand what lessons have been learned and how those programmes can be applied to the New Far Right.

10) Connecting the dots. For researchers, the principal task is to bring together expert communities dealing with terrorism, far-right extremism and other related threats, so that different bodies of knowledge can be better integrated.

The conference was part of ICSR’s ongoing efforts to make sense of the evolving nature of far-right extremism. For some of our recent publications on this issue, see:

The conference can be watched in full on the ICSR YouTube channel.

You can always try blame-the-immigrants-game

http://blogs.euobserver.com/nilsson/2013/04/03/you-can-always-try-blame-the-immigrants-game/

A clever trick – used often – when a politician is worried about his party´s ranking in the polls or maybe wants direct attention to something else than the sorry state of affairs in the country he is running, is to point finger at immigrants. It usually pays off really well.

Italian electoral candidate Silvio Berlusconi asked his fellow countrymen to vote for him so as to “stop leftwing parties opening the country´s borders wide to immigration”. This was the very same Berlusconi that during his three stints as prime minister of Italy pushed his country to the brink of economic disaster. However, on the strength of his electoral arguments he once again managed to win a strong hold in the Italian Parliament. The actual fact that immigrants are leaving recession-ridden Italy in droves did not come into the matter.

Facts usually don´t count for much when immigrants are the subject of discussion.

The Danish public debate every now and then works itself into a frenzy over some immigrant related matter. Recently it was the fact that 45 young boys – born to Muslim parents – allegedly has been fighting in Syria alongside the rebels. Yes, Denmark supports the Syrian rebels over the regime. Yes, some 25 000 Danish boys have fought abroad since 1992 or as the US central command puts it: “…compared to the size of the Danish population (5.5 million), Denmark is among the leading countries in the world when it comes to participation in international operations.”

But facts don´t count for much when faced with the threat of 45 Muslim boys potentially turning back to Denmark, now trained in how to shoot. Politicians from most political parties swiftly promised that if the boys survive and return to Denmark, they will be under constant surveillance by the Danish intelligence services. Xenophobic Danish Folkeparti that has lost ground in the polls lately tried to outdo them all with a promise to deport the boys straight away.

The Dutch enjoy a good blame-the-immigrants-game as well. To go with any article about immigrants – meaning any suspicious-looking-therefore-possibly-Muslim boy – the Dutch press have found the perfect illustration. Article after article on the subject of immigration is accompanied by a photo showing such boys proving their shameful ways by covering their face.
Only this picture, pulled out of the archives, was actually taken when 150 Moroccan youngsters visited the Dutch concentration camp in Westerbork, covering their faces in shock as they listened to a camp survivor telling of his experience.

British Prime Minister David Cameron tried the same trick recently, desperate to have the country talking about something else than how badly the economy is faring and how little the government seems to be able to do about it. He too, came up with the idea to blame immigrants, hoping no doubt to win some votes off the xenophobic UK independence Party. (Number of British expats in the world: approximately 5 Million.)

The trick worked less well for Mr Cameron. When he announced that he would stand up for his country and put a stop to Eastern European immigrants filling up hospital wards without paying, he was contradicted by none other than his own Health minister. The fact, lost in the heat of the moment, is that NHS claims the money back from other EU governments.

It didn´t work too well for the Conservative party running the Swedish government coalition either. The Swedish public debate generally tend to react badly to politicians pointing fingers at immigrants but lately the Swedish xenophobic party has been climbing in opinion polls whereas the Conservative party seems to be losing out. Maybe blame-immigrants has become a vote-winner in Sweden too?

The youngest Conservative in government, also immigration minister, Tobias Billstrom was sent out to test the xenophobic waters, to see if any voters could be pulled in. “It´s not blond and blue eyed people hiding illegal immigrants in this country”, Mr Billstrom stated. The remark may not count as blatantly racist in some European countries but in Sweden it does. The reaction came swiftly and was harsh, the critics were vociferous and influential.
The Conservative Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt held back a couple of days but in the end had to come out and order the immigration minister to apologize, giving him a stern warning about making remarks of the kind and telling him that “he (Mr Billstrom) must stick to the party line of humane immigration policies if he wants to stay in office”.

Oh, well. It´s usually a really clever trick but it doesn´t always work.
Luckily.

FRA brief: Crimes Motivated by Hatred and Prejudice in the EU

The March 2013 brief by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) provides information about the situation on the ground in the EU as well as suggestions for the way in which the EU and its Member States could better address crimes motivated by hatred and prejudice.

Spain Supreme Court Strikes down City Burqa Ban

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[JURIST] The Spanish Supreme Court [official website, in Spanish] on Thursday struck down [judgement, PDF, in Spanish; press release, in Spanish] a city ban on wearing veils over the face in municipal buildings, finding that the law infringes on religious freedom. The city of Lleida, in Catalonia, was the first Spanish city to impose such a ban, but only about 3 percent of its population is Muslim. The city law was previously upheld [JURIST report] by a Spanish appeals court which found that the law was permissible for identification and security purposes. In its ruling, the Supreme Court found that the city of Lleida had not adequately established that the ban on veils would improve security and that the law prevented individuals from practicing religious traditions.

Burqas and other symbols of Islam have been a controversial subject in Europe. In July the Netherlands announced that a ban on burqas would go forward [JURIST report] later this year. Proponents of the Netherlands ban said the purpose was to stop people from being able to commit crimes and remain undetected by concealing their identities and covering their faces. Belgium officially banned [JURIST report] burqas in July 2011. France’s ban on burqas took effect [JURIST report] in April 2011. Swiss voters approved a proposal to ban the construction of minarets [JURIST report] in November 2009, and the vote was subsequently upheld [JURIST report] in the European Court of Human Rights [official website] in July 2011. Some commentators have suggested that the rationales behind the European burqa bans are weak [JURIST op-ed] and that the true purpose of the bills is societal discomfort.

CIDH Pro Igual es Asociación sin ánimo de lucro registrada en el Ministerio del Interior con el nº 595496.