Euro Islamophobia Watch

European politics and terror threat analysis.

Euro Islamophobia Watch

Joined: 25 Nov 2005, 11:41

18 Feb 2008, 03:22 #1

'I don't hate Muslims. I hate Islam,' says Holland's rising political star
Geert Wilders, the popular MP whose film on Islam has fuelled the debate on race in Holland, wants an end to mosque building and Muslim immigration. Ian Traynor met him in The Hague
Ian Traynor

The Observer, Sunday February 17 2008

Geert Wilders, the right-wing Dutch politician. Photograph: Jerry Lampen/Reuters

A TV addict with bleached hair who adores Maggie Thatcher and prefers kebabs to hamburgers, Geert Wilders has got nothing against Muslims. He just hates Islam. Or so he says. 'Islam is not a religion, it's an ideology,' says Wilders, a lanky Roman Catholic right-winger, 'the ideology of a retarded culture.'

The Dutch politician, who sees himself as heir to a recent string of assassinated or hounded mavericks who have turned Holland upside down, has been doing a crash course in Koranic study. Likening the Islamic sacred text to Hitler's Mein Kampf, he wants the 'fascist Koran' outlawed in Holland, the constitution rewritten to make that possible, all immigration from Muslim countries halted, Muslim immigrants paid to leave and all Muslim 'criminals' stripped of Dutch citizenship and deported 'back where they came from'. But he has nothing against Muslims. 'I have a problem with Islamic tradition, culture, ideology. Not with Muslim people.'

Wilders has been immersing himself in the suras and verse of seventh-century Arabia. The outcome of his scholarship, a short film, has Holland in a panic. He is just putting the finishing touches to the 10-minute film, he says, and talking to four TV channels about screening it.

'It's like a walk through the Koran,' he explains in a sterile conference room in the Dutch parliament in The Hague, security chaps hovering outside. 'My intention is to show the real face of Islam. I see it as a threat. I'm trying to use images to show that what's written in the Koran is giving incentives to people all over the world. On a daily basis Moroccan youths are beating up homosexuals on the streets of Amsterdam.'

Wilders is lucid and shrewd and the provactive soundbites trip easily off his tongue. He was recently voted Holland's most effective politician. If 18 months ago he sat alone in the second chamber or lower house in The Hague, his People's Party now has nine of 150 seats and is running at about 15 per cent in the polls. His Islam-bashing seems to be paying off. And not only in Holland. All across Europe, the new breed of right-wing populists are trying to revive their political fortunes by appealing to anti-Muslim prejudice.

A few months ago the Swiss People's Party of the pugnacious billionaire Christoph Blocher won a general election while simultaneously running a campaign to change the Swiss constitution to ban the building of minarets on mosques. Last month in Antwerp, far-right leaders from 15 European cities and from political parties in Belgium, Germany and Austria got together to launch a charter 'against the Islamisation of western European cities', reiterating the call for a mosque-building moratorium.

'We already have more than 6,000 mosques in Europe, which are not only a place to worship but also a symbol of radicalisation, some financed by extreme groups in Saudi Arabia or Iran,' argued Filip Dewinter, leader of Belgium's Flemish separatist party, the Vlaams Belang, who organised the Antwerp get-together. 'Its minarets are six floors high, higher than the floodlights of the Feyenoord soccer stadium,' he said of a new mosque being built in Rotterdam. 'These kinds of symbols have to stop.'

Where a few years ago the far right in Europe concentrated its fire on immigration, these days Islam is fast becoming the most popular target. It is a campaign that is having mixed results. In Switzerland, the Blocher party has been highly successful. In Holland, Wilders is thriving by constantly poking sticks in the eyes of the politically correct Dutch establishment. But when Susanne Winter ran for a seat on the local council in the Austrian city of Graz last month by branding the Prophet Muhammad a child molester, she lost her far-right Freedom Party votes.

For the mainstream centre-right in Europe, foreigner-bashing is also backfiring. Roland Koch, the German Christian Democrat once tipped as a future Chancellor, wrecked his chances a fortnight ago by forfeiting a 12-point lead in a state election after a campaign that denounced Muslim ritual slaughter practices and called for the deportation of young immigrant criminals.

Wilders echoes some of the arguments against multiculturalism that have convulsed Germany in recent years. Like many on the traditional German right, he wants the European Judaeo-Christian tradition to be formally recognised as the dominating culture, or Leitkultur. 'There is no equality between our culture and the retarded Islamic culture. Look at their views on homosexuality or women,' he says.

But if Wilders shares positions and aims with others on the far right in Europe, he is also a very specific Dutch phenomenon, viewing himself as a libertarian provocateur like the late Pim Fortuyn or Theo van Gogh, railing against 'Islamisation' as a threat to what used to be the easy-going Dutch model of tolerance.

'My allies are not Le Pen or Haider,' he emphasises. 'We'll never join up with the fascists and Mussolinis of Italy. I'm very afraid of being linked with the wrong rightist fascist groups.' Dutch iconoclasm, Scandinavian insistence on free expression, the right to provoke are what drive him, he says.

He shrugs off anxieties that his film will trigger a fresh bout of violence of the kind that left Van Gogh stabbed to death on an Amsterdam street and his estranged colleague Ayaan Hirsi Ali in hiding, or the murderous furore over the Danish cartoons in 2005.

The Dutch government is planning emergency evacuation of its nationals and diplomats from the Middle East should the Wilders film be shown. It is alarmed about the impact on Dutch business. 'Our Prime Minister is a big coward. The government is weak,' says Wilders. 'They hate my guts and I don't like them either.'

And if people are murdered as a result of his film? 'They say that if there's bloodshed it would be the responsibility of this strange politician. It's almost a self-fulfilling prophecy. They're creating an atmosphere. I'm not responsible for using democratic means and acting within the law. I don't want Dutch people or Dutch interests to be hurt.'

But he does want to create a stir. 'Islam is something we can't afford any more in the Netherlands. I want the fascist Koran banned. We need to stop the Islamisation of the Netherlands. That means no more mosques, no more Islamic schools, no more imams... Not all Muslims are terrorists, but almost all terrorists are Muslims.'

Free speech or hate speech? 'I don't create hate. I want to be honest. I don't hate people. I don't hate Muslims. I hate their book and their ideology.'

For more than three years, Wilders has been paying for his 'honesty' by living under permanent police guard as the internet bristles with threats on his life. He has lived in army barracks, in prisons, under guard at home. 'There's no freedom, no privacy. If I said I was not afraid, I would be lying.'

There is little doubt that if Wilders's film exists - and it's shrouded in secrecy - and is broadcast, it will be construed as blasphemy in large parts of the world and may spark a new bloody crisis in relations between the West and the Muslim world.

He does not seem to care. 'People ask why don't you moderate your voice and not make this movie. If I do that and not say what I think, then the extremists who threaten me would win.'
"The problem with always being a conformist is that when you try to change the system from within, it's not you who changes the system; it's the system that will eventually change you." -- Immortal Technique

"The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that's power. Because they control the minds of the masses." -- Malcolm X

"The eternal fight is not many battles fought on one level, but one great battle fought on many different levels." -- The Antagonist

"Truth does not fear investigation." -- Unknown

Joined: 05 Jul 2007, 02:18

26 Feb 2008, 12:24 #2

Pakistan shuts down YouTube worldwide, TV station at home

Written by Justin Hemlepp 
Tuesday, 26 February 2008

CNN reports that, “[a]n apparent move by the Pakistani government to block YouTube, the popular video-sharing Web site, knocked out access to the site worldwide for more than two hours.”

The government “cited a ‘highly blasphemous’ video featuring right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders” as the reason for the blockage. Citing AP, CNN report continues: “The block was intended to cover only Pakistan but extended to about two-thirds of the global Internet population.”

In other Pakistan-shutting-things-down news: “[O]ne of Pakistan's independent broadcasters, Aaj Television, was taken off air for about two and one half hours, according to Talat Hussein, an Aaj newscaster and talk show host. The move came during Hussein's evening political talk show which featured discussions with Aaj management personnel who, according to Hussein, had been banned from appearing on air by the Musharraf government soon after emergency rule was declared on November 3,” reports the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Pakistan stands by its YouTube ban
Iain Mackenzie
Newsbeat technology reporter

Pakistan is being blamed for crashing YouTube.

Pakistan blocked YouTube to prevent riots

The site was closed for several hours at the weekend.

Earlier, authorities in Pakistan decided to block access to users in that country.

It's believed that caused problems with the routing of worldwide internet traffic.

Pakistan claims YouTube is hosting clips which are offensive to Islam. It is particularly angry about a video by Dutch politician Geert Wilders.

The trailer for his film, Fitna, features criticism of the prophet Muhammad.

Newsbeat spoke to the man responsible for enforcing the ban.

Major General (Retired) Shahzada Alam Malik runs the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.


NEWSBEAT: Why are people in Pakistan not allowed to look at YouTube?

MAJ GEN MALIK: There are so many sites talking anti-government or anti-state, but we don't block them. This particular situation is extremely offensive and derogatory.

It may flare up the sentiments of Pakistanis and Muslims. Therefore I think there was no choice but to block it.

NEWSBEAT: What would happen in Pakistan if people there could see these videos?

MAJ GEN MALIK: They would come out on the roads, on the streets. They could damage government property and public property. It could be very, very difficult and uncontrollable.

NEWSBEAT: Google, which owns YouTube, believes this move caused the site to be blocked around the world.

MAJ GEN MALIK: We are responsible only for Pakistan and we have taken that step only for our country.

I don't know about the other people, but this was very well considered, discussed, debated and a deliberate decision was taken.

NEWSBEAT: And you will block access to YouTube for people in Pakistan until when?

MAJ GEN MALIK: The moment it is removed, we will unblock it.

A film to fuel the fire

Article compiled with the help of our Observer in Holland, Carl Konigel.

This Friday the Pakistani authorities ordered a countrywide block on YouTube. According to an official quoted by AP, this radical measure was put in place to stop anyone from seeing the trailer of Geert Wilder's new film. However, not one shot of the film is available on YouTube. Only Dutch daily De Telegraaf has received the images, and they have so far only published a few screenshots on their site. So, despite no one having yet seen the film, every one from Holland to Pakistan is dreading it and the fuel it will add to an already-raging fire.
The contributors

Carl Konigel

Umar Mirza

Laurent Chambon

"If they want to do it let them "
Comment from Umar Mirza, founder of the Dutch Muslim blog "Wij blijven hier" (We stay here):
I don't feel threatened as a Muslim in Holland. [Geert] Wilders is a minority. It might be a growing minority but it's still a minority and the majority of Dutch people simply aren't like that. I was born here; this is my country. I couldn't feel threatened in my own country. And I'll never leave. That's one of the reasons we set up the blog "We stay here".

I don't think he [Geert Wilders] really wants a debate between Muslims and non-Muslims; he just wants loads of attention. We're used to it here. After what's happened in the last few years we've learnt it's better just to say "if they want to do it let them do it". I guess we won't have any problems here in Holland. Well, I hope not. It's more likely that things will flare up in the UK or very Muslim states. I just hope they stay focused and don't do anything stupid."

I can see why the Pakistani government did what they did. You have to remember it's not a democratic state yet. There are already problems; they don't want them to escalate further. It's a completely different situation over there. It's easy to criticise them from the outside, but on the inside I suppose the government values peoples' lives more than freedom of speech."

"He wants to create the Mohammed cartoon affair all over again"
Comment from Laurent Chambon, a French sociologist who moved to the Netherlands 14 years ago and wrote a book about minorities in politics and the media:
Geert Wilders is a former member of the VVD; a liberal party that veered towards the far-right. He was thrown out of the party for "Islamophobia" and founded his own movement called the PVD (the Liberal Party), which has around ten seats in parliament.

Wilders is part of a gradual shift in Holland, where a far-right, nationalist and xenophobic stance has established itself. The former MP Hirsi Ali, originally form the Sudan, is from the same gang. She comes out with all sorts of polemic stuff, and then acts surprised when she receives threats.

Wilders likes to provoke people. No-one knows what his documentary will be like. It's only seven minutes long, but that doesn't matter. It's the event around it, and he's very good at creating that. I'm not sure if his film will have a strong impact here because Dutch Muslims are used to his provocations - they won't fall for them. His real target is foreigners. Perhaps he's hoping for someone to attack him, just so he can play the martyr.

He wants to create the Mohammed cartoon affair all over again. But I don't think Dutch society is like the Danish one. Holland is still a multicultural and tolerant country, unlike Denmark, which is much more closed."

But Duncan, what men believe isn't important - it's our actions which make us right or wrong. - Alasdair Gray - Lanark

Joined: 05 Jul 2007, 02:18

17 Apr 2008, 22:54 #3

New Venetian 2000 just for men
Expect also a crackdown on illegal immigrants and criminals, which the 71-year-old likes to call the "army of evil."

"One of the first things to do is to close the frontiers and set up more camps to identify foreign citizens who don't have jobs and are forced into a life of crime," Berlusconi said on Italian television. "Secondly we need more local police constituting an 'army of good' in the piazzas and streets to come between Italian people and the army of evil."

But Duncan, what men believe isn't important - it's our actions which make us right or wrong. - Alasdair Gray - Lanark

Joined: 07 Dec 2005, 15:21

29 Apr 2008, 21:28 #4

In France, Prisons Filled With Muslims

By Molly Moore
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, April 29, 2008; Page A01

SEQUEDIN, France -- Samia El Alaoui Talibi walks her beat in a cream-colored head scarf and an ink-black robe with sunset-orange piping, an outfit she picked up at a yard sale.

After passing a bulletproof window, El Alaoui Talibi trudges through half a dozen heavy, locked doors to reach the Muslim faithful to whom she ministers in the women's cellblock of the Lille-Sequedin Detention Center in far northern France.

It took her years to earn this access, said El Alaoui Talibi, one of only four Muslim holy women allowed to work in French prisons. "Everyone has the same prejudices and negative image of Muslims and Islam," said Moroccan-born El Alaoui Talibi, 47, the mother of seven children. "When some guards see you, they see an Arab; they see you the same as if you were a prisoner."

This prison is majority Muslim -- as is virtually every house of incarceration in France. About 60 to 70 percent of all inmates in the country's prison system are Muslim, according to Muslim leaders, sociologists and researchers, though Muslims make up only about 12 percent of the country's population.

On a continent where immigrants and the children of immigrants are disproportionately represented in almost every prison system, the French figures are the most marked, according to researchers, criminologists and Muslim leaders.

"The high percentage of Muslims in prisons is a direct consequence of the failure of the integration of minorities in France," said Moussa Khedimellah, a sociologist who has spent several years conducting research on Muslims in the French penal system.

In Britain, 11 percent of prisoners are Muslim in contrast to about 3 percent of all inhabitants, according to the Justice Ministry. Research by the Open Society Institute, an advocacy organization, shows that in the Netherlands 20 percent of adult prisoners and 26 percent of all juvenile offenders are Muslim; the country is about 5.5 percent Muslim. In Belgium, Muslims from Morocco and Turkey make up at least 16 percent of the prison population, compared with 2 percent of the general populace, the research found.

Sociologists and Muslim leaders say the French prison system reflects the deep social and ethnic divides roiling France and its European neighbors as immigrants and a new generation of their children alter the demographic and cultural landscape of the continent.

French prison officials blame the high numbers on the poverty of people who have moved here from North African and other Islamic countries in recent decades. "Many immigrants arrive in France in difficult financial situations, which make delinquency more frequent," said Jeanne Sautière, director of integration and religious groups for the French prison system. "The most important thing is to say there is no correlation between Islam and delinquency."

But Muslim leaders, sociologists and human rights activists argue that more than in most other European countries, government social policies in France have served to isolate Muslims in impoverished suburbs that have high unemployment, inferior schools and substandard housing. This has helped create a generation of French-born children with little hope of social advancement and even less respect for French authority.

"The question of discrimination and justice is one of the key political questions of our society, and still, it is not given much importance," said Sebastian Roche, who has studied judicial discrimination as research director for the French National Center for Scientific Research. "We can't blame a state if its companies discriminate; however, we can blame the state if its justice system and its police discriminate."

As a matter of policy, the French government does not collect data on race, religion or ethnicity on its citizens in any capacity, making it difficult to obtain precise figures on the makeup of prison populations. But demographers, sociologists and Muslim leaders have compiled generally accepted estimates showing Muslim inmate populations nationwide averaging between 60 and 70 percent.

The figures fluctuate from region to region: They are higher in areas with large concentrations of Muslims, including suburban Paris, Marseille in the south and Lille in the north.

Inside the prisons, El Alaoui Talibi and her husband, Hassan -- a rare husband-wife Islamic clerical team -- are struggling to win for Muslim prisoners the same religious rights accorded to their minority-Christian counterparts. Hassan is an imam. Samia has received religious training and can counsel the faithful, but under Islamic practices she cannot become an imam. The prison system has only 100 Muslim clerics for the country's 200 prisons, compared with about 480 Catholic, 250 Protestant and 50 Jewish chaplains, even though Muslim inmates vastly outnumber prisoners of all other religions. "It is true that we haven't attained full equality among religions in prisons yet," said Sautière, the national prison official. "It is a matter of time."

In recent years, the French government's primary concern with its Muslim inmate population has been political. French national security officials warned prison authorities in 2005 that they should work to prevent radical Muslims from inciting fellow prisoners. A year later, the French Senate approved a bill giving the country's national intelligence agency broad authority to monitor Muslim inmates as part of counterterrorism efforts.

Prison authorities began allowing carefully vetted moderate imams into prisons in hopes of "balancing the radical elements," said Aurélie Leclerq, 33, director of the Lille-Sequedin Detention Center.

Hassan El Alaoui Talibi, 52, who moved to France from Morocco as a student, is the national head of France's prison imams and typical of the kind of moderate Muslim figure the French government seeks for its prison system.

El Alaoui Talibi delivers his Friday sermons with carefully chosen words, he says. He avoids politics and other subjects that might seem remotely inflammatory. He sticks to counseling convicted drug dealers, murderers and illegal immigrants in matters of faith and respect.

But not all the Muslims at Lille-Sequedin share those moderate views. Last year a disgruntled inmate blared a taped religious sermon into the prison courtyard. Prison officials deemed its message inflammatory and sent the prisoner to solitary confinement.

El Alaoui Talibi described years of struggle to win even modest concessions from prison directors. He recalled the first prison visit he made, a decade ago: He was forced to wait an hour and a half to meet with inmates. "If I hadn't been patient, I would have left," said the soft-spoken former high school teacher who became a prison imam after seeing so many of his students get in trouble with the law for petty offenses and end up hard-core criminals after prison stints.

Today, working in France's newest prison -- the sprawling, three-year-old Lille-Sequedin center -- the El Alaoui Talibis say they are more accepted than some Muslim colleagues at other prisons. Prison officials rejected requests by The Washington Post to visit some of the system's older, more troubled prisons.

On a recent Friday, Hassan El Alaoui Talibi, a man with soulful eyes and a beard with the first hints of gray, made his way with a reporter through the men's wings, collecting prisoners' notes from mailboxes shared with Catholic and Protestant chaplains. At one point, several new inmates returning from sports practice surrounded him, requesting personal visits. He scribbled their names and cell numbers on a scrap of paper.

Many of the Muslim inmates in this prison just west of Lille are the children and grandchildren of immigrants who were brought to the northern region decades ago to work in its coal mines.

El Alaoui Talibi moved on to a small room overlooking a tiny garden courtyard and tugged at prayer mats stacked in a closet beside a rough-hewn wooden cross. Every other Friday, he transforms the room into a mosque for some of the male Muslim faithful of the prison. One of his most frequent sermon topics is food.

"He tells us not to throw away prison food just because it isn't halal," or compliant with Islamic dietary law, said a 33-year-old former civil servant, a man of Algerian descent who attends the twice-monthly prayer meetings. French prison rules prohibit journalists from identifying inmates by name or disclosing their crimes.

The refusal of prison officials to provide halal food, particularly meat products, is one of the biggest complaints of Muslim inmates across France and has occasionally led to cellblock protests.

For many years, prisons have allowed Muslim prisoners to forgo pork products -- and statistics tracking prisoners who refuse pork is an accurate barometer of the Muslim population in a prison, according to researchers. But cutting out pork is a long way from the full halal regimen. Only recently, did the prisons stop using pork grease to cook vegetables and other dishes.

"If you want to comply with your religion, you don't have a choice -- you have to become vegetarian," said the convicted civil servant, a compact man who works in the prison library. "We have access to a prison store with two halal products: halal sausage and a can of ravioli."

Prison officials say it is too expensive to provide halal meals. "We'd like to buy fresh meat, but we can't," said Leclerq, whose prison office is decorated with plush bears.

Muslim inmates said they sense other religious snubs. Christians are allowed packages containing gifts and special treats from their families at Christmas, but Muslims do not receive the same privilege for the Ramadan holy days. "We're careful not to call them Christmas packages because Muslims would ask for Ramadan packages," Leclerq said. "We call them end-of-the-year packages. We can't use a religious term or some people get tense."

Hassan El Alaoui Talibi said the French prison system has made progress since he began his ministry a decade ago. Last year the government set guidelines for all prisons to follow on religious practices, rather than allowing directors to arbitrarily set their own rules.

Prison imams met with Justice Minister Rachida Dati last month with a list of continuing requests, including more imams and training for prison guards to help them better understand religious differences.

A 31-year-old woman of Algerian descent with a youthful face and black, wavy hair tied carelessly in a ponytail welcomed Samia El Alaoui Talibi on a recent morning with double kisses on the cheeks.

"Arriving here was a nightmare," said the woman, one of about 150 female inmates. "I was crying, I couldn't believe I was here.

"Then I saw this woman wearing a head scarf," she said, smiling toward Samia. "I could tell she was here to help me. I call her my angel."

Researcher Corinne Gavard contributed to this report.

"We are not democrats for, among other reasons, democracy sooner or later leads to war and dictatorship. Just as we are not supporters of dictatorships, among other things, because dictatorship arouses a desire for democracy, provokes a return to democracy, and thus tends to perpetuate a vicious circle in which human society oscillates between open and brutal tyranny and a lying freedom." - Errico Malatesta, Democracy and Anarchy 1924

Joined: 07 Dec 2005, 15:21

29 Apr 2008, 21:38 #5

Italians more wary of Muslim immigrants-new study
Tue 29 Apr 2008, 12:28 GMT

By Philip Pullella

ROME, April 29 (Reuters) - As a new centre-right government that has vowed to be tougher on immigration prepares to take office, a new study on Tuesday showed that most Italians have negative views about having immigrants from Muslim countries.

According to the study carried out by the Makno research organisation, and commissioned by the interior ministry, 55.3 percent of those asked said immigration from Islamic countries was more problematic than that from other, Christian, countries.

Only 39.7 percent said Muslims should be allowed to practice their religion and build mosques unconditionally.

Nearly 10 percent were firmly against allowing Muslim religious practices or mosques and the rest posed various conditions, such as reciprocity for Christians in Islamic countries to practice their religion.

On the Islamic side, nearly 40 percent of Muslim immigrants said they found it difficult to respect their religious traditions in Italy while 30.2 percent feared they would lose their culture.

Italy, a predominantly Catholic country which once sent millions of immigrants to the world, is still grappling with how it should integrate immigrants of different cultures, languages and religions.

More than 17 percent in survey feared terrorist attacks, nearly 25 percent said they believed Muslims were critical of Italians and their culture and 28.2 percent said Muslims were intolerant of Catholicism.

Various parties in the coalition of prime minister-elect Silvio Berlusconi, who is expected to form his government by next week, have vowed to crack down on immigrants.

Umberto Bossi, the firebrand leader of the anti-immigrant Northern League, took a surprising 8 percent in this month's national elections and is expected to get several cabinet posts, perhaps including the interior ministry.

One League member, Roberto Calderoli, outraged Muslims with past antics such as wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with Danish cartoons showing the Prophet Mohammad.

Renato Schifani, a member of Berlusconi's Forza Italia party, said minutes after he was elected Senate speaker on Tuesday that among Italy's pressing priorities was to promote only "healthy and regular immigration" and to defend Italy's "Christian roots".

According to official figures, there are more than a million Muslim immigrants in Italy but aid groups say the figure is higher.

The attitude of non-Islamic immigrants in Italy, most of them Christians, was just as critical towards Muslims or in some cases even more so than that of Italians.

© Reuters 2008. All Rights Reserved.  |  Learn more about Reuters

"We are not democrats for, among other reasons, democracy sooner or later leads to war and dictatorship. Just as we are not supporters of dictatorships, among other things, because dictatorship arouses a desire for democracy, provokes a return to democracy, and thus tends to perpetuate a vicious circle in which human society oscillates between open and brutal tyranny and a lying freedom." - Errico Malatesta, Democracy and Anarchy 1924

Joined: 06 Nov 2006, 17:39

02 Jun 2008, 22:41 #6

Mugabe, Ahmadinejad criticized for attending UN summit in Rome
The Associated Press
Published: June 2, 2008

ROME: The participation of the presidents of Zimbabwe and Iran in a U.N. summit in Rome to combat hunger triggered outrage Monday, a day before world leaders meet to map strategy in the face of skyrocketing food prices that are causing civil unrest and widening malnutrition.

Australia's foreign minister decried as "obscene" Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's participation. The longtime African leader has presided over the virtual transformation of his country from former breadbasket to agricultural basket case.

Page last updated at 10:14 GMT, Wednesday, 28 May 2008 11:14 UK

Italy condemned for 'racism wave'

Firemen hose down a camp of Roma people that was set on fire on the outskirts of Naples (file images from 14 May 2008)
Police have had to intervene to protect Italy's Roma community

Human rights group Amnesty International has said it is extremely alarmed by what it calls a "climate of discrimination" in Italy.

The Italian section of the rights body said recent tough new immigration measures were a worrying trend.

It added that politicians from both sides of the spectrum were legitimising the use of racist language.

Last week, Italy's new centre-right government introduced a series of measures aimed at improving security.

Illegal immigration will become punishable by up to four years in prison, it will be easier to expel illegal immigrants and there will be a three-year prison sentence for using minors to beg for money.

Attacks on Roma

But the head of Amnesty International in Italy, Daniela Carboni, said the moves represented "heavy restrictions and new crimes that will target, above all, immigrants".

She said the organisation was particularly worried by the measure that would mean attempted illegal immigrants could be held for up to 18 months in a detention centre.

"Amnesty International is extremely alarmed both by the contents and haste of these measures... and by the climate of discrimination which preceded them," Ms Carboni said in the report.

There is deep suspicion throughout the country of the Roma community, whom many Italians blame for a disproportionate amount of crime.

In mid-May Italian police were forced to intervene to protect Roma Gypsies who came under attack from local residents in Naples, who set their camps alight.

Ms Carboni urged the Italian government to investigate fully the torching of the two Roma slum communities.

In April's national elections the centre-right coalition led by Silvio Berlusconi - which includes the anti-immigration Northern League and the post-Fascist Alleanza Nazionale - swept to victory, pledging to tackle illegal immigration.

In Rome, Gianni Alemanno, also of the Alleanza Nazionale, was elected mayor on a pledge to expel 20,000 people.

Italian children back burning of gypsy camps
By Malcolm Moore in Rome
Last Updated: 1:58AM BST 29/05/2008

A class of primary school children in Naples has shocked Italy after submitting homework which supported the burning of gypsy camps.

Picture shows children shouting:
In one drawing children are shown shouting: "Fight, fight."

The children, aged between 9 and 11 years old, are pupils at San Giuseppe Bosco, near a camp at Ponticelli that has been repeatedly attacked by a xenophobic mob.

Locals first set fire to the camp two weeks ago in retaliation to stories that a gypsy girl had tried to steal a baby elsewhere in the city. Since then it has been repeatedly attacked, with more petrol bombs launched at its makeshift buildings.

Teachers at the school had set the children the task of explaining how they felt about the persecution of the gypsies. The response was an alarming series of drawings and essays, many of which supported the vigilante action.

“The gypsies steal children to transplant their organs,” wrote one child.

“We are not racist, but if they want to stay they have to stop stealing,” wrote another.

One crayon drawing showed burning buildings with a mob outside shouting “Fight, fight!” and “Get out of here, Roma!”

The attacks and essays come against a backdrop of growing intolerance to immigrants, fuelled by hard-line partners in the new government of prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

A report by Amnesty International yesterday warned that Italy was now “dangerous” for illegal immigrants.

Mariano Coppola, the headmaster, blamed the parents of the children for their attitudes, and claimed that many of the children had actually participated in the attacks on the Ponticelli camp.

“Their teachers were working with them to help them understand what really happened, and to clearly show them that these violent acts should not be repeated,” he said.

“But in their families, or on the streets, these kids are learning a very different lesson,” he added. “Some of these children were fully involved and have told stories about taking part in the raids, and have firmly defended their position afterwards,” he said.

Fears of racist violence rise as gang goes on rampage in Rome

    * Tom Kington in Rome
    * The Guardian,
    * Monday May 26 2008

Fears of rising intolerance towards migrants in Italy grew after a masked group armed with sticks went on the rampage in a multi-ethnic Rome neighbourhood, smashing shop windows while hurling abuse.

In the 10-minute blitz on Saturday, the group of between 10 and 20 men attacked a food shop owned by an Indian migrant and two stores operated by Bangladeshis, disappearing before police arrived.

The assault comes as Silvio Berlusconi's administration launches a crackdown on illegal immigration, and days after a mob firebombed Gypsy camps in Naples. Last month crowds at Rome's town hall welcomed newly-elected mayor Gianni Alemanno with fascist salutes.

Alemanno, a former neo-fascist, was voted in after promising to expel 20,000 migrants from Rome he said had broken the law.
Yesterday he said he was "outraged" by the attack and promised "exemplary punishment for the guilty". Opposition politician Piero Fassino spoke of "an unbelievable wave of racist violence that can only provoke horror".

The Pigneto neighbourhood, where the attack took place, is a traditionally working-class area, recently settled in by migrants as well as students and artists. It has a reputation for peaceful co-existence, although locals said the masked assailants were probably from the area.

Police yesterday suggested the trouble had started earlier in the day with a row between an Italian man and a migrant over stolen money.

"Italy is not a racist country," said interior minister Roberto Maroni of the anti-immigrant Northern League party. "Episodes of this kind are sometimes inflamed by crimes committed by illegal immigrants."

Also on Saturday, Cristian Floris, who works for a gay website in Rome, was assaulted outside his house by two men.

Neo-Nazis in explosion of xenophobia against Bengali shopkeepers in Rome
May 26th, 2008 - 7:10 pm ICT by admin - Email This Post Email This Post

London, May 26 (ANI): Balaclava-clad gangs, some wearing bandanas emblazoned with swastikas, smashed shop windows with iron bars and baseball bats and beat up Bengali shopkeepers in the eastern Roman suburb of Pigneto on Saturday.

Members of the gangs shouted Get out, bastard foreigners as they attacked Bengali shopkeepers in the explosion of xenophobic violence, reports The Times.

Gianni Alemanno, the capitals new right-wing Mayor, and local residents condemned the attacks.

Opponents blamed the new centre-right Government for allowing what they described as a climate of xeno-phobia to flourish across the country.

The new Government of Silvio Berlusconi last week announced a crackdown on illegal immigration and street crime at a Cabinet meeting held in Naples.

At last weeks Cabinet meeting, Berlusconi said he would use the army to resolve the Naples rubbish crisis and threatened that anyone obstructing the construction of rubbish dumps would be arrested and imprisoned. (ANI)

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Date Created:  24-MAY-2008
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Caption:  NATIONAL PICTURES NAPLES, May 24 - Police clashed with demonstrators in a poor quarter of Naples on Saturday after a night of riots over the Italian government's attempt to end the chronic rubbish problem by opening new dumps against locals' wishes
Date Created:  24-MAY-2008
National Pictures
Date Created:  5-MAY-2008
National Pictures
"No one understood better than Stalin that the true object of propaganda is neither to convince nor even to persuade, but to produce a uniform pattern of public utterance in which the first trace of unorthodox thought immediately reveals itself as a jarring dissonance." Leonard Schapiro

Joined: 26 Nov 2005, 01:46

29 Sep 2008, 11:45 #7

Extreme right emerges as strong force in Austria
• Haider triples share of votes for breakaway group
• Early election brings worst results for main parties

    * Ian Traynor, Europe editor
    * The Guardian,
    * Monday September 29 2008

Heinz Christian Strache, the leader of the Freedom party, has been associated with neo-Nazi militants who deny the holocaust. Photograph: Helmut Fohringer/EPA

Austria was shaken by a political earthquake yesterday when the neo-fascist right emerged from a general election as a contender to be the strongest political force in the country for the first time.

The combined forces of the extreme right took 29% of the vote, with Jörg Haider almost tripling the share of his breakaway Movement for Austria's Future to 11%, while his successor as Freedom party leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, saw his party soar to 18%.

The far right's vote doubled compared with the last election in 2006, putting it within less than a point of overtaking the poll victor, the social democrats.

The two big parties, which have run Austria since the second world war, slumped to their worst ever election toll. The Christian democrats (ÖVP), fared particularly poorly at around 26%, down 8%. The social democrats (SPÖ), under a new leader, Werner Faymann, took around 30% and laid claim to the chancellorship.

The early election was triggered by the collapse in June of the coalition of social and Christian democrats after only 18 months. The extreme-right profited from popular disillusion with the two big parties, which took months to form a "grand coalition" in 2006 and then spent the next 18 months paralysed by internal bickering. The same situation may repeat itself now, with both parties under different leaders and struggling to justify legitimacy.

Faymann, the likely new chancellor, is a 48-year-old from Vienna, who was supported by the main rightwing and fiercely anti-EU tabloid, Kronenzeitung, after he promised to put new EU treaties to a referendum in a country that matches Britain in Euro-scepticism.

The far-right triumph was greater than its breakthrough in 1999 when Haider's Freedom party came second in a general election with 27% of the vote and entered government, sparking a crisis that saw Austria isolated internationally.

Strache, who has been associated with neo-Nazi militants who deny the Holocaust, according to a court ruling, and who wants a new government ministry created to manage the deportation of immigrants, wound up his campaign at the weekend by calling Muslim women who wear the burqa "female ninjas".

He talked of east European immigrants to Vienna as "European brothers who don't want to be Islamised", while another of his party leaders reminisced about the days when the kiosks on Vienna's squares sold sausage and wiener schnitzel, rather than "the kebab joints selling falafel and couscous, or whatever you call that stuff".

Last night Strache said he should be the new chancellor. "Today, we are the winners of election night," he said.

The only realistic options for forming a viable grouping are for another grand coalition or for Faymann to contemplate a coalition with Strache, a Viennese former dental technician who has supplanted Haider as the national extreme-right leader. Senior social democrats said last night that they would not collaborate with the Freedom party. Any such move would trigger a deeper crisis within the SPÖ.

Despite mustering around 30% of the vote between them, Strache and Haider are sworn enemies and are unlikely to be able to work together. Both men are fierce critics of the EU
�To those who are afraid of the truth, I wish to offer a few scary truths; and to those who are not afraid of the truth, I wish to offer proof that the terrorism of truth is the only one that can be of benefit to the proletariat.� -- On Terrorism and the State, Gianfranco Sanguinetti