HOPE not hate

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What future for Sweden?

posted by: Rebecca Murray | on: Thursday, 4 February 2016, 17:45


Last summer the headlines were dominated by stories of EU countries not only welcoming refugees, but actively encouraging them to make their borders their last crossing en-route to safety.

Fast forward to 2016 and it’s already a very different story. If you believe the headlines, these countries have made a big mistake and new arrivals have brought with them seemingly insurmountable problems.

Sweden has responded to these challenges by closing its borders and a decision to deport at least 60,000 people whose claims for refugee status have been unsuccessful. The new ‘no longer welcome here’ message was reinforced by images of Swedish fascists attacking refugees gathered at Stockholm Central Station.

6 April 2015 was the first time I ever set foot in Sweden. I went with the explicit intention of exploring what the refugee situation looked like in reality, from the Swedish and the refugee perspective. I should add that I was able to take with me 15 years experience of the refugee situation in the UK, which comes in handy for making comparisons.

I chose Sweden because of its commitment to social democracy: a commitment that makes the country stand out not only in Scandinavia, but in Europe and elsewhere around the world.

The reality

The refugees I met in Sweden were nearly all granted refugee status in a relatively short period of time (12 months or less): the UK pales into comparison in terms of the long and often torturous process that people seeking asylum endure.

I have not yet met anyone whose asylum claim has been rejected, yet I know that Sweden has a policy and processes in place to remove those refused refugee status. I don’t think the issues revolve around which ‘plane’ to use, but if 90% of people are coming from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, it certainly won’t be easy to remove them to these countries.

What about the appeals process? Have those 60,000 people already exhausted their legal rights in Sweden to appeal against deportation? How do they prove that deportees are citizens of these countries, in order that they can actually be accepted back? And how do you deport people to Syria? Perhaps this is why the deportations are being spread over several years and the Swedish government believes that the situation in Syria is due to radically change.

What happens to those people left in limbo in Sweden waiting to be deported? In my experience people build lives against the odds, even in the most hostile environments. Most seem determined to integrate into Swedish society, using their skills and experience to earn money, pay taxes, support themselves and their families and ultimately live in peace. They’ve fought to get this far, many refugees live in a perpetual fight for their survival, I’d put money on them fighting to stay and don’t envy the tough fight facing the Swedish authorities.

Today the story was about fascists attacking refugees in Stockholm’s central station. Only three months ago I stood there, deeply moved by refugees being welcomed by the Red Cross and the Migration Board, and receiving emergency medical care – all things which sent a powerful message to the new arrivals “you matter and we’re here to help you”.

Far North of Stockholm on the same trip, I was meeting Swedes who were working during the day and spending their nights in soup kitchens to feed newly arrived refugees. Swedish people took their children to the local train station to greet newly arrived children with gifts of toys and warm clothes.

Yet the surge in popularity for the Swedish Democrats cannot be denied and one that causes serious concern for Swedish people and refugees alike. I’ve had detailed discussions about fears for the Swedish welfare state and the country’s ability to sustain the new arrivals – “We can’t pay 100% tax” has been conveyed to me on more than one occasion, along with concerns that there isn’t enough low-skilled, low-paid employment opportunities to meet the needs of the refugees entering Sweden.

The stark reality is that a large number of refugees entering Sweden are not only highly skilled but highly aspirational, too: they want to work, they want to use their skills in Sweden, contribute to the economy by paying tax and paying their way, leave the trauma and horrors they fled behind them to build a new life in safety. The problem in Sweden is bridging the gap between the aspirations and skills of refugees and their access and inclusion in mainstream society.

Refugees are perceived to bring problems and it’s true, some of them do. But what happens if we dig a little deeper and explore what else they bring: education, skills, knowledge, resilience and aspirations. What if these assets were put to good use and refugees were able to fulfil their aspirations in a new society? If it’s possible anywhere, it’s in Sweden. I’m just hope recent stories can be superseded by new headlines focusing on the attributes and achievements of the new population.

Rebecca Murray is the Director of the Article 26 project and a doctoral candidate at the University of Sheffield.

 Posted: 4 Feb 2016 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Fears about voter drop-off confirmed

posted by: Elisabeth Pop | on: Monday, 1 February 2016, 11:19


HOPE not hate can reveal that almost two Parliamentary constituencies of voters have “disappeared” from London, two months after the government rushed through changes to the way we register to vote (against the advice of its own experts).

These figures are based on information we received from 10 out of London’s 33 electoral services.

According to early data we have received from the electoral services across London, 130,000 people have dropped off the electoral register since November last year.

There are now 30% fewer “attainers” (those under 18 but who will be old enough to vote in the next election) in the capital, compared to February 2014, and 20% fewer across the UK as a whole.

In addition, 1 in 5 people are now “missing” from Cambridge’s electoral register (compared with May 2015).

The figures were revealed after we contacted the electoral services in London and across 30+ major towns and cities across the UK, ahead of the Electoral Commission’s own report into the roll out of the new Individual Electoral Registration (IER) system.

The Commission had advised the Government to wait a further year before the roll-out (which the Government refused).

Predictions

As we predicted in our September 2015 report the biggest drop-offs took place in large urban areas, often with multiple occupancy housing, regular home movers and a large number of historically under-registered groups (young people, ethnic minorities, poor people, etc).

Out of London’s 33 electoral services, 10 so far have sent us updated information about the state of their December 2015 or January 2016 registers.

Collectively, their electorate is smaller by 127,111 people or, on average, a -6.42% decrease compared to May 2015 (and equivalent to almost two Parliamentary constituencies of electors).

In autumn 2015, the Electoral Commission said 415,000 voters could potentially drop off the registers, on top of the 1.6 million who have a right to vote across London but are not already registered.

With one-third of the London electoral services having shared information with us so far, the actual loss of electors doesn’t seem too far off the predictions.

Outside London

Unsurprisingly, given our past research and Voter Registration (VR) focus, Cambridge seems the most affected city outside London, having lost almost 20% of its electorate compared to May 2015 (in September we predicted a 17% drop), followed by Brighton which now has a 8.33% smaller register and Southampton with has seen a 7.59% decrease.

Attainers

For the past two years HOPE not hate has been running VR drives with under-registered groups and wider communities.

Early on, it became apparent to us that young people were most at risk of being voiceless, with attainers (young people who will reach the age of maturity, 18, during the life of that register) at particular risk.

In fact, we wrote in our September 2015 report that one-third of 18-to-24 year olds were not registered to vote and that electoral registers in May 2015 were capturing almost 50% fewer attainers than before the 2014 elections.

Data received so far from 10 London electoral services shows that, on average, there still are 31% fewer attainers on the register in December 2015 than there were in February 2014.

But there are some further disturbing developments, with Bexley’s register seeing a decrease of 62% in attainers; Southwark 60%; and Tower Hamlets almost 52%. The only positive story was Brent which saw a 34% increase – a borough where we’ve worked very hard with the local electoral service and other organisations.

Outside London, attainers numbers continue to remain low: York has 74% fewer attainers on its register than in February 2014, followed by Portsmouth with a 55.4% decrease and Cardiff with a 46% decrease.

What next

HOPE not hate’s mission statement is to ‘Challenge Hate – Build Communities’. Ensuring that people have an opportunity to participate in the democratic process of this country is essential to the way we build communities and increase resilience against the pull of extremism.

With at least seven elections due to take place in 2016, we are more determined than ever to engage with the voiceless, across the UK, but with a particular focus on London.

So watch this space for the HOPE not hate 2016 VR campaign and for some amazing partnerships and events that we are currently planning.

And as always, make sure you, your family, friends and colleagues are registered to vote: www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

Elisabeth Pop is Voter Registration Campaign Manager & Policy Officer, HOPE not hate @ElisabethPop13

 Posted: 1 Feb 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Churches Challenge Britain First ‘Christian Patrol’

posted by: Peter Adams | on: Thursday, 28 January 2016, 15:01


Christian leaders along with various members of the Luton community express their views on Britain Firsts visit to Bury Park Luton on Sat 23rd January. Credit: Inspire FM - Luton

Last Saturday Britain First held one of its notorious ‘Christian Patrols’ in Luton. In typical paramilitary garb, 20 activists led by Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen marched though the heart of Bury Park, the commercial centre of the town’s Asian community.

Handing out literature and heckling bystanders, they verbally abused a number of women with children and picked enough arguments to produce some good sound bites for a nine minute video. When the video went live later that evening it had a million views in the first hour; 48 hours later it had 18 million.

It was Britain First’s fourth visit to our town in less than two years. The group carried out a ‘mosque invasion’ in May 2014; then a small protest outside the same mosque in June 2015; and a demonstration later that month where 100-150 followers, carrying trademark flags and crosses, marched from the station and down a few backstreets to a car park, before coming back again.

As we prepared for their 2015 visit, it was clear that Britain First traded off a strong - if from our view, wildly distorted - Christian narrative. Look at Britain First's Facebook page and scattered among the stories of nasty Muslims, all things quaint and little kittens, and you will find Christian memes, Bible verses and worship songs. It’s convincing enough for the unwary to share with Facebook friends, and I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had to drop Christian friends of mine a note to tell them what they are supporting.

Christians of Luton

Back in 2015 we wrote an open letter to Britain First, asking their activists not to come to Luton – that as Christians here we didn’t need them. Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen subsequently came to meet with us.

We sought to understand their intentions and address their concerns. We spoke to them as fellow Christians, though we were very clear that we profoundly disagreed with the way they understood their faith. We told them how, as Christians in Luton, we sought to live peacefully and as good neighbours, despite clear differences in our faiths; and of our shared work to deal with extremism and other issues they regularly raised.

Britain First's march in Luton

Britain First's march in Luton

In some ways it was a useful exercise, and no one could say we hadn’t tried, but predictably it was fruitless – no sooner had they finished than they videoed outside our church and then proceeded to drive into Bury Park, filming themselves harassing locals again. Still, our Muslim friends thanked us for our efforts. On the day Britain First visited last summer you would have found 30 local Christian leaders out and about in the community, mediating on the edges of the demo and counter demo, and generally working for the peace of the town.

It was obvious this weekend that we needed again to challenge the impact of Britain First's so-called ‘Christian Patrol’. David Kesterton, the local vicar in Bury Park, had already seen them, so working together we called church leaders to gather in Bury Park after church the next day, and asked local Muslim leaders to join us. Thus it was a group of some 25 gathered with arms full of flowers and a statement to pass out to those on the street and local shopkeepers who’d borne the brunt of the action the previous day. We were able to speak to some of the women and children abused, hear the stories of shopkeepers who’d been drawn into argument, and generally restore some sense of normality.

Acts of friendship

Simple acts of friendship but with profound consequences for those we spoke to, multiplied now across social media. We’ve been thanked on the streets, received emails and endless comments on social media, and letters of thanks from schoolchildren. The 200,000 views on various videos doesn’t quite reach the Britain First tally, but everyone locally seems to have seen it, and is talking about it.

But in the end it wasn’t about publicity but doing the right thing – being good neighbours. That message doesn’t seem to have been read by the so-called Christian Patrollers, who are convinced we are tree hugging, sandal wearing, politically correct hippies, appeasing Muslims and traitors to our faith.

p.s. A number of those involved in our declaration went straight on to Luton's Holocaust Memorial Day event. The challenge of the day this year is #DontStandBy. As we reflected on a generation of Jewish people decimated, we were challenged again: we dare not stand by while hatred and bigotry becomes embedded in our nation.

Peter Adams works in community peace-building and reconciliation based at St Mary's Church Luton. Since the EDL began in Luton in 2009 he's been engaging the community to deal with the roots of extremism @petergmadams

Peace statement

Peace statement

 Posted: 28 Jan 2016 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Middle England Organisers Two roles

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 28 January 2016, 10:26


HOPE not hate are recruiting two community organisers for an exciting new project seeking to give voice to the positive voices of HOPE within communities that have begun to be referred to as 'Middle England'. More information can be downloaded below.

These roles are full time and are fixed term for a period of 18 months

 Posted: 28 Jan 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Don't Stand By -- your comments

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 27 January 2016, 14:38


Thousands of HOPE not hate supporters have today pledged to Don't Stand By and commit to doing what they can to oppose extremism and hatred today. Below are a few of the comments people have left about why they are making the pledge.

You can make your own pledge here

As a teacher of some 30 years I think it is important to get this message of "Don't Stand By' across. I was very privileged to go to Auschwitz - Birkenau in 1999 on the first "Lessons From Auschwitz " visit organised by The Holocaust Educational Trust. It is an experience I will never forget. We all need to challenge hatred, prejudice and discrimination whenever and wherever we see it. Let us stand together, not just today, but every day to do just that.
Janet, Leicester

Because more than 100 years ago my great grandfather came to Britain to escape oppression.
Because the weekend before last racists attacked our local mosque and an old man said he didn't feel safe any more.
Because last weekend the community showed their solidarity with the local Muslim community at the mosque with tea, cards and flowers.
There are many people willing to take sides and every individual has to show where they stand. Silence is not an option.
Rachel, Bristol

We must remember, to continue to remind ourselves of the lives that were lost in the name of Hate, now and forever remember and act so we fight for the light of freedom, peace and a hate free society.
Mark, Essex

My whole family except for my mother were murdered in Auschwitz which yo me is the appalling inhumanity to man that has taken place. My fun appointment is that nations promise they would never let this happen ever again, yet time and time again on the News we hear of similar murders being committed in countries all over the world along with millions brung starved to death by their Governments. Not yo mention the inhumane humiliation that sufferers are forced to endure when being tortured before put yo death.
Why has the human race not learnt from the Holocaust? Shame on mankind. Animals behave better than we do.
Jo, Hull

I was greatly impressed by the story of Oskar Schindler as told in the exhibition at his old factory in Krakow. This man who had saved hundreds of Jews, at first because he wanted cheap labour and then out of compassion, spending a large amount of his wealth in doing so, was later plagued by feelings of guilt that he had still had some money left which meant that some Jews had died that he could have saved. I feel the same.
John, Birmingham

If you do not speak how can others listen? Your thoughts mean nothing until expressed, and the actions that go along with them show everyone that you mean what you say. All victims of suffering have suffered for us because they have absorbed the hate, let's keep on working to destroy hate's foundations.
Graham, Northampton

Whilst there have been other genocides, the Holocaust remains the most horrific of them all - the systematic and brutal extermination of European Jewry by Nazi Germany. Among the estimated 6 million who were killed in Europe were my parents, sister and virtually all my relatives after leading entirely blameless lives. I was rescued by having been nominated to go to England on the first Kindertransport to leave Berlin on November 1st, 1938.
Those atrocities by members of a country with a long cultural tradition must never be forgotten and act as a warning that such things could - and indeed have - happen again. They are also relevant to the present refugee crisis, which Europe is so disastrously .slow to tackle. Does the world ever learn??
Leslie, London

Today I'll be working with Christians, Muslims, Atheists, Agnostics,Jews, Buddhists and we'll be dancing together. Labels fall off like autumn leaves, but it's an act of resistance!
Sue, South London

My mother was taken as a 14year old from her home in the Ukraine for use as slave labour by the Nazis and suffered the pain of going through Auschwitz for "sorting". She was lucky as she has blue eyes and ended up in Germany as a farm worker. She still at 89 has nightmares from those years as slave labour.
Olga, Rotherham

We must remember the suffering of so many at the hands of the haters so that we do not allow the same atrocities to happen or for hatred to build to the point in makes people blind to other humans. Practice kindness and caring not hate and humiliation to make the planet a better place for all.
Joanne, Cambridge

 Posted: 27 Jan 2016 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Holocaust Memorial Day: Don’t Stand By

posted by: Joe Mulhall | on: Tuesday, 26 January 2016, 08:50


#HMD2016

Elie Wiesel: I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

Today is the day when people around the world pause to remember the Holocaust. 71 years ago today the death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the site where 1.1 million people (mainly Jews) were exterminated, was liberated by the advancing Soviet Army.

This came after the dismantled camps at Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka had already been found. Advancing from the West, the American forces liberated Buchenwald and the British liberated Bergen-Belsen. Entering the camp at Belsen in mid-April 1945 along with the British soldiers was the BBC journalist Richard Dimbleby, father of Jonathan and David Dimbleby:

Here over an acre of ground lay dead and dying people. You could not see which was which... The living lay with their heads against the corpses and around them moved the awful, ghostly procession of emaciated, aimless people, with nothing to do and with no hope of life, unable to move out of your way, unable to look at the terrible sights around them ... Babies had been born here, tiny wizened things that could not live.

Testimonies such as this, along with the now thousands of invaluable testimonies by survivors, remind us that, as stated in the Stockholm Declaration that formed Holocaust Memorial Day: ‘The Holocaust fundamentally challenged the foundations of civilization’ and: ‘The unprecedented character of the Holocaust will always hold universal meaning.’

Never forget

We have an obligation to never forget. Having seen the harrowing footage of dead bodies being pushed into mass graves by bulldozers and the pictures of skeletal bodies too emaciated to move, it is hard to imagine that these events could ever be forgotten or denied. Yet from the moment that the news of Nazi atrocities began to leak out in the 1930s and 1940s there were people eager to deny them, to revise and falsify history, to blame the victims and exonerate the perpetrators. Such despicable attempts continue to this day: we must be loud and clear in condemning such sickening denial and preserve the truth through memorial and education.

This is something that the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust in the UK has been working tirelessly to do. Holocaust Memorial Day (27th January every year) has increasingly become part of national life in Britain, with the 2015 national remembrance event being televised and watched by 1.3 million people. The Prime Minister and head of all the main opposition parties, as well as Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall attended. In addition to the national event were over 3600 local events taking place in schools, churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, prisons, libraries, universities, work places and many other places.

Yet while our consciousness of the Holocaust may be on the rise we still face major challenges. Seven decades after the liberation of the camps we are sadly approaching a time when there will be no living witnesses to the Holocaust. This makes it more important than ever that we challenge those who seek to deny this unique historical event and we keep the memory alive for future generations.

It is still imperative that we learn the lessons of the Holocaust. Out of the ashes of a destroyed continent, forever marred by the gas chambers of Auschwitz, came an historic agreement based on the idea that fundamental rights for all humans required formal protection. In 1948 the newly formed United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the preamble to which stated that the:

‘recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world, whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people’

In 1948 the UN also adopted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and shortly afterward another newly-formed international body, the Council of Europe, set about giving effect to the UN Declarations in a European context and the resulting European Convention on Human Rights was signed in 1950.

Universal lessons

While the Holocaust was a unique tragedy for the Jewish people, it provides universal lessons for all. We must remember the other victims of Nazi persecution: the Gypsies (Roma) and black people who lived in Germany. Slavic people were dismissed as Untermenschen. Extreme ideas associated with eugenics were used to justify the persecution of disabled and gay people. The Nazis also targeted political opponents – primarily communists, trade unionists and social democrats – and those whose religious beliefs conflicted with Nazi ideology, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses. Today is a day to remember these people as well.

But more than that we must face the terrible fact that despite the declared aims after the war, such as the laudable Genocide Convention – the ‘Never Again’ convention – these conventions have been tragically violated time and time again. As such today is also a day that we should remember the subsequent genocides.

We must remember Cambodia, were between 1975 and 1979 well over two million people perished at the hands of the Khmer Rouge. We must also remember Rwanda, where in just 100 days in 1994 approximately one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were murdered by mobs, sometimes even neighbours, using machetes and clubs. We must remember Bosnia between 1992 and 1995, and the Srebrenica genocide when 8,000 Muslim men and boys were massacred. And we must remember Darfur, where the mass slaughter and rape of Darfuri men, women and children in western Sudan has been condemned as genocide by the International Criminal Court.

We should remember, but also do everything we can to learn the lessons of history.

Don’t Stand By

It is for this reason that this year’s theme for Holocaust Memorial Day in the UK is ‘Don’t Stand By’. Many will remember the words of Martin Niemöller, the outspoken critic of Adolf Hitler who spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in a concentration camps.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak for me.

These words should stand as a haunting reminder that passivity in the face of persecution, intolerance, prejudice and violence is what allows horrors such as the Holocaust, Nazi persecution and subsequent genocides to take place.

http://dontstandby.hmd.org.uk



Joe Mulhall is a research analyst at HOPE not hate as well as a guest lecturer
at Royal Holloway, University of London, associated with their Holocaust Research Centre, and a Trustee of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust @JoeMulhall


MAKE A COMMITMENT TO NOT STAND BY CLICK HERE

 Posted: 26 Jan 2016 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments

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We Stand #Together across Europe

posted by: Elisabeth Pop | on: Monday, 25 January 2016, 08:06


In less than two weeks, on 6 February, Pegida plan to march in Birmingham and at least 11 other European countries.

We could allow 6 February to be portrayed in national and European, traditional and social media as the day when few, but strong voices of fear and hate were heard the loudest. Or we could actually make it the day when a positive, diverse, pan-European movement of voices came #TOGETHER to show that We Are The Many and We Choose HOPE.

We've already had a great response from diverse communities across Birmingham coming together for #OurBrum http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/page/s/birmingham

Now it's the time we stand united, #Together across Europe.

So, HOPE not hate is joining forces with ENAR (the European Network Against Racism) and other likeminded organisations and individuals so that, on 6 February, our pan-European voices of HOPE sound louder than the shouts of hate and scaremongering coming from far right and populist, anti-migrant and anti-Muslim groups.

But we need you too. So join us @Together1Europe – a network of pan-European anti-racist, anti-fascist, social justice and human & migrant rights organisations – in a Thunderclap that will go live at 12 noon GMT, on Saturday, 6 February.

Add your voice now at www.thunderclap.it/projects/37008-together-one-europe

For our positive, inclusive message to trend on social media across Europe we encourage everyone:

  • to share the Thunderclap message on your various social media platforms and ask your wider networks to do the same
  • attach pictures of your family and friends holding posters reading "#Together” in English and as many other languages as possible -- "Ensemble", "Insieme", "Juntos", "Zusammen", "Împreună", “Közösen”, “Tillsammans”, etc.

6 February is not just about standing in solidarity with the Muslim communities of Europe. It is about the street, village, city, country and continent we want to live in and about celebrating all the values and ideals that bring us TOGETHER in a modern, tolerant Europe.

So join us and let’s transform division into new grassroots conversations, more trust, confidence and unity being built between our diverse communities.

@Together1Europe: a positive, pan-European coalition of hearts and minds coming TOGETHER against Pegida's fear and hate! Add your voice now www.thunderclap.it/projects/37008-together-one-europe

 Posted: 25 Jan 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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The English Are Coming

posted by: Richard Jordan | on: Sunday, 24 January 2016, 09:10


Right to Robinson with a cigarette: Lars Grønbæk Larsen, leader of the Danish Defence League.

Right to Robinson with a cigarette: Lars Grønbæk Larsen, leader of the Danish Defence League.

With the launch of Pegida UK just weeks away the leaders, EDL founder Stephen Lennon, (aka Tommy Robinson), Liberty GB leader Paul Weston, and Sharia Watch UK Director Anne Marie Waters, made their way to a freezing Copenhagen to try and build support for a Danish branch of the anti-Islam group that was originally formed in Dresden, Germany.

Strangely today’s demonstration in Denmark was organised from Britain with instructions for the day being posted on the events Facebook page by Jack Buckby, the Press Officer of Pegida UK and Liberty GB. There were no Danish speakers at the event.

Unfortunately for the English trio, just 100 people turned up, which would have no doubt been a disappointment. Among the tiny audience was the leader of the Danish Defence League Lars Grønbæk Larsen and a contingent from the extreme right wing Danmarks Nationale Front.

Also present were a number of Swedes, including Dan Park, the ‘artist’ who has been arrested, fined and sentenced to prison for hate speech. Also over from Sweden was Ingrid Carlqvist, a ‘Distinguished Senior Fellow’ of the US-based Gatestone Institute and editor-in-chief of Dispatch International, a newspaper she founded with a leading Dutch ‘counter-jihad’ activist Lars Hedegaard. Just recently she has written articles about what she calls ‘Afghan ‘Rapefugees’.

After the demonstration Lennon, Weston and Waters went for drinks with Carlqvist in nearby ‘The Scottish Pub’.

As is usual with these types of demonstrations there was a vocal and confrontational counter demonstration by local anti-fascist, which at times drowned out the speeches forcing them to abandon the loud haler and instead opt for a microphone; a switch that took some time.

Lennon’s speech was similar to those he gave in his old EDL days, with talk of a ‘military invasion of Europe’ by Muslims. His speech was followed by a long and slow march through Copenhagen that proved to be eventful. The march was flanked on both sides by anti-fascists chanting ‘Refugees Welcome’ and ‘Where’s your famous EDL?’, forcing the police to use considerable force to hold them back.

Then, as the march turned a corner into a narrow street, Lennon pointed to an anti-fascist screaming at him from behind the police lines and said, ‘come here and say that’. Agreeing to his request the anti-fascist bolted past the police and attacked him. Demonstrators from behind Lennon jumped to his defence followed quickly by baton wielding police.

Once order was restored the march returned to the start point for speeches by Weston and Waters. Weston’s gave a peculiar talk mainly aimed at attacking the counter-demonstrators for being communists followed by some strange conspiratorial claims that the UN was working to destroy all national borders and take control of the world. With so few people in the crowd he seemed to loose his enthusiasm and finished by saying, “that’s enough, I need a pint”.

Waters then took the microphone and gave a speech about women’s rights to a bemused looking audience made up almost exclusively of men. Her speech reached its crescendo with an attack against the ‘so called feminists’ on the counter-demonstration.

The demonstration finished with Lennon urging those present to return to the site on the 6th February to show solidarity with Pegida demonstrations being organised in the UK and across Europe.

The PegidaDK event in two weeks will also have a British presence as Gavin Boby, the self styled ‘Mosque Buster’, being billed to speak.

While the demonstration was a failure in terms of attendance it is further evidence of the genuinely transnational nature of the counter-jihad movement. Activists from the UK organised an event in Denmark where they met with a prominent figure from Sweden. Similarly Lennon met with German activists in Prague in December.

In addition, today confirms the fact that Lennon, following a period of hiatus – partly forced due to prison sentences and partly self-imposed – is well and truly back at the centre of the international ‘counter-jihad’ scene. Today’s speech in Copenhagen comes off the back of appearances at Pegida Dresden, the launch of Pegida Holland and the Anti-Islam Bloc in the Czech Republic.

However, the tiny numbers at today’s event do not show the whole picture. Just last week the Danish government announced plans to further tighten its immigration policy including measures to force refugees to hand over valuables upon their arrival. On Friday, the Danish city of Randers, 210km northwest of Copenhagen, has ordered pork to be mandatory on municipal menus following a council motion proposed by the right wing populist Danish People’s Party.

Similarly tough lines are being taken by governments in central Europe with the Czech President Miloš Zeman even attending a demonstration by the Anti-Islam Bloc in Prague in December. Such acts have made him, along with the PM of Hungary Viktor Orban, heroes of the ‘counter-jihad’ movement. Even today Paul Weston, who vociferously attacked western governments and the EU for their refugee policy, made an exception for the governments of central Europe.

So while it is important to monitor the activities of groups like Pegida - especially as they become more international in their reach - it is imperative not to ignore the wider picture and the increasingly pervasive nature of anti-Muslim sentiment which is no longer just emanating from extremist street protest groups but also from mainstream commentators and Presidents and Prime Ministers of EU countries.

Heavy police protection of the demo.

Heavy police protection of the demo.

 Posted: 24 Jan 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Killer Breivik caught with weapons in 2009

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 15 January 2016, 13:27


Anders Breivik

Anders Breivik

A German filmmaker has claimed that Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people during a bombing and shooting spree in Norway in 2011, was actually picked up but later released by German police in possession of weapon parts and ammunition in 2009.

The filmmaker, Daniel Harrich, claims that Breivik was stopped during a routine check outside the Germany city of Wetzlar, north of Frankfurt, and while the ammunition and some weapons parts were confiscated, Breivik was allowed to keep some parts that could not be directly tied to a functioning weapon.

According to Harrich’s sources, the ammunition and some weapons parts were confiscated from Breivik while he was allowed to keep some parts that could not be directly tied to a functioning weapon.

The Norwegian authorities were never alerted to this information, either at the time or after Breivik's terrorist attack, and this has understandably caused a political storm in the country.

 Posted: 15 Jan 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Bound for Britain?

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 13 January 2016, 10:23


Vicky Pearson

Vicky Pearson

HOPE not hate can exclusively reveal that Bound for Glory, America’s leading white power band, is set to play in Scotland later this year. It will be their first ever gig in the UK and though the event is not until October, anticipation is such that tickets are already being sold.

The venue – which is believed to be in Edinburgh – can take as many as 800 people and organisers are hoping for a near sell-out crowd. This would make it the largest ever white power gig ever held in Scotland.

Several hundred German and other European Nazis are expected to make the trip over to Scotland, as will hundreds of English Blood and Honour supporters, all keen to seen the American white power band for the first time.

Organising the gig is London-based Vicky Pearson, a veteran of the Blood and Honour nazi skinhead scene, though in more recent years has moved into organised allegedly non-political Oi gigs under her the British Oi! Productions banner.

Pearson is organising the gig with her Scottish-based boyfriend Thomas Stenhouse, better known on the skinhead scene as Steny.

Last year, Pearson, who has put on two or three events a year for the last few years, announced that she was calling it a day. However, the chance of a big money pay out with Bound for Glory has obviously made her reconsider her position.

Bound For Glory is a Minnesota-based white power band that was formed in 1989 and became one of the most high profile groups on the scene. The band is led by Ed Wolbank, at one time the director of the nazi Northern Hammerskins.

Their original vocalist Erik Banks, was murdered in 1993 in Portland, Oregon.

The band originally operated under their own Bound for Glory (BFG) Productions label but this was sold to Panzerfaust Records, a huge distributor of hardline nazi music, in 2005. The band disappeared in 2007 but re-emerged in 2011 with tours across the US and Germany. It was the first white power band to play in Japan.

Over the years it has produced nine albums and two collaboration albums with support from other well-known nazi musicians from the US, UK and Germany.

Though central to the white power scene and traditionally a nazi skinhead band, Bound for Glory’s music has become more recently described as a thrash metal. However, it has lost none of its nazi politics, with one recent song called ‘Behold the Iron Cross’.

Vicky Pearson is gambling a lot on the outcome of this gig. It is rumoured that Bound for Glory has demanded thousands of dollars to appear and a considerable down payment has already been made for the venue.

If the event goes ahead as planned it will be a huge pay day for Vicky. It if doesn’t then she might regret having come out of retirement.

 Posted: 13 Jan 2016 | There are 2 comments | make a comment/view comments