World News

HUNGARY | Think tanks release Jobbik Facebook fans survey

Tuesday, 31 January 2012, 22:45 | Source: MTI |

The Facebook fans of Hungary’s radical nationalist Jobbik party are predominantly young males, they have higher degree in education than generally believed and a majority of them are eurosceptic, a recent online survey conducted by British think tank Demos and Hungary’s Political Capital Institute and released to MTI shows. The research, the first in a series to be released this year about the online support of populist political parties in Europe, is based on an online survey receiving responses by 2,263 Jobbik Facebook fans last summer, the institutes said. They said Facebook was selected because it is the most popular social media website used by supporters of the Jobbik party. As of 17 January 2012, the party’s official Facebook profile had 37,682 fans. According to Jobbik leaders, the party has about 13,000 members.

The conclusions of the research challenge the findings of previous studies suggesting that the majority of Jobbik’s supporters are “the losers of democratic transition”, mostly low-earning, unemployed and less educated people, they said. The research shows that over 71 percent of Jobbik Facebook fans are male and 64 percent are younger that 30. More than 22 percent of the online supporters reported having a university degree. Jobbik Facebook fans under 30 are less likely to be unemployed than the national average of the age group. According to the research, Jobbik Facebook fans are more likely to think that violence is justified if it leads to the right outcome than other Facebook fans of populist parties and movements in western Europe. Jobbik Facebook fans are more likely to be negative towards the EU than their fellow Hungarians. Asked about what the EU meant to them 68 percent said it was “the loss of cultural and national identity”, compared with just 5 percent of all Hungarians.

Jobbik’s online supporters have very low levels of trust in all major social and political institutions, including the government, European Union, the police, the justice or legal system and the media, the research said. Young supporters were more likely to cite anti-Roma and antisemitic sentiments as reasons for being Jobbik’s Facebook fans. Twenty percent of 16-20-year-olds cited anti-Roma sentiments as their reason for being a Facebook fan of Jobbik, compared with just 5 percent of respondents aged over 50.

A copy of the complete report can be found here <http://www.demos.co.uk/files/Demos_Hungary_Book_web-1.pdf?1327923915>


TURKEY | Turkey remembers the Holocaust

Monday, 30 January 2012, 13:40 |

Turkey marked this year’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day, officially declaring it an occasion to remember the significance of combating racism, xenophobia and anti-semitism, and airing a French epic documentary about the Holocaust.

“Today, on the occasion of the United Nations international day of commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, we remember and honour the memory of more than 6 million Jews and members of other minorities, who lost their lives during this human tragedy,” a statement from the Turkish Foreign Ministry stated on 27 January. “This day of remembrance also guides us towards a future which includes a culture of mutual understanding, tolerance and co-existence and in line with this reminds us of the significance of drawing the right lessons on combating racism, xenophobia and antisemitism,” it said, also remembering Turkish diplomats who saved many lives from the Nazi regime during World War II and “who thereby make us proud of our history.” On the eve of the international remembrance day, Turkish officials attended a ceremony at Istanbul’s Neve Shalom synagogue and the state broadcaster, Turkish Radio and Television Corporation’s (TRT) documentary channel also showed filmmaker Claude Lanzmann's Shoah as part of a campaign to promote understanding between Jews and Muslims and to fight Holocaust denial. The filmmaker said this is the first time the film has been broadcast on state television in a Muslim country, Associated Press reported. “It is a historical event,” Lanzmann, 87, said in a telephone interview with Associated Press from his home in Paris. “It is extremely important that it is being shown in a Muslim country.…The Turks are engaged in a pioneering work and I am sure it (the showing) will be followed by other Muslim countries,” he said. The film is not the first Holocaust film to be shown on television in Turkey. Turkey also has its own Holocaust film: The Turkish Passport, which was released last year and tells the true story of Turkish diplomats who saved thousands of Jews by issuing them Turkish passports. Shoah has also been shown to a limited audience at a Turkish film festival.


GREECE | Nazis bring violence to Athens

Monday, 30 January 2012, 13:03 |

Two people were injured and 42 held by police on Saturday night in violence that followed a march by the nazi Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) group. The demonstration was held to mark the anniversary of the 1996 Imia crisis, during which three Greek officers were killed when a Greek military helicopter was allegedly downed by Turkish forces. Hundreds of fascists marched from a statue in central Athens erected in memory of the three soldiers toward the US Embassy. The march was heavily policed and there were no disturbances but after the rally a group of nazis invaded the Omonia underground station, attacking immigrants and pulling other passengers off trains. All of the alleged assailants were released yesterday.


HUNGARY | Poor, abused and second-class: the Roma living in fear in Hungarian village

Saturday, 28 January 2012, 00:09 | Source: The Guardian | | Click here for original article

The first snow of 2012 had fallen on the day Natasha Váradi invited us into the house she shares with her 10 children, mother and father-in-law in the Hungarian village of Gyöngyöspata. The two rooms were dark and dank: for four months the family had been living without electricity, gas or running water. Every half an hour a child went down the hill with a bucket to draw water from the communal pump. By night they stumbled around with torches as they squeezed on to mattresses.

The air in the bungalow carried the sour stench of urine. "They've started wetting the bed again," said Natasha, who has lived in Gyöngyöspata for all of her 31 years. "Someone only need knock on the door and they are scared." There is not much door left on which to knock. Much of the wood has been smashed in. On 22 December, the family say a stone came flying through the front room window.

The family members have reason to fear for their lives: seven adults and two children died in 49 attacks on Roma communities in Hungary between January 2008 and April 2011, according to the European Roma Rights Centre.

Until last Easter, 31-year-old Váradi had never left Gyöngyöspata, an old coalmining village 50 miles north of Budapest, which then had a population of about 2,800, including 450 Roma.

Then, on 1 March, the militia arrived. Wearing black uniforms and calling themselves the Civil Guard Association for a Better Future (Szebb Jövóért Polgárór Egyesület) they marched through the village singing war songs and bellowing abuse. Soon, they were joined by groups including Vederö (Defence Force), wearing camouflage fatigues and armed with axes, whips and snarling bulldogs.

For almost two months they roamed the streets day and night, singing, hammering on doors and calling the inhabitants "dirty fucking Gypsies". When they were not carrying out what they described as "neighbourhood watch patrols" designed to combat what they said were rising rates of "Gypsy crime", the militia were drinking. CCTV cameras recorded one man drunk in the street, boasting at the top of his voice that he had just drawn a swastika in the dirt road with his urine.

The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) reported the four most serious incidents during the patrols to police. One involved a woman giving birth prematurely after being harassed by vigilantes with using racially abusive slogans. No charges have yet been brought against the militiamen, though a Roma man was jailed for two years after a fight with the vigilantes; a further five Roma are awaiting trial over the same incident.

Roma, who number somewhere between 400,000 and 800,000 in Hungary, are the prime targets for rightwing hate and more general discrimination. In March, Gábor Vona, the head of the far-right Jobbik party (which received 12% of the vote in 2010) gave a speech in Gyöngyöspata saying his party planned to start deploying similar "gendarmerie units" nationwide without delay.

In mid-April, a US businessman called Richard Field decided to act. The militia had announced plans to hold a "training camp" over the Easter weekend on the hillside overlooking the poorest part of the village, where most of the Roma live. Together with the Hungarian Red Cross, Field paid for six buses to evacuate the most vulnerable residents. On 22 April, shortly before 8am, 267 Roma women and children boarded the buses to spend Easter in one of two holiday retreats.

In the face of international outrage, the Hungarian interior minister called a press conference in which he denied that an emergency evacuation had taken place. The Roma were, he said, simply taking a "scheduled holiday". In the event, the training camp never took place because police took eight extremists into custody, although no charges were brought.

By the end of the month, Field, who runs a private US charity called the American House Foundation, was under attack from the rightwing government. He was called to give evidence to a parliamentary "fact-finding committee", which accused him of blackening Hungary's name by tipping off the Associated Press about the evacuation or labelling it as such. The government maintained it knew about the Easter training camp and had always planned to deploy hundreds of police to the village that weekend.

Váradi and her children took one of Field's buses to Szolnok and then stayed with relatives. On their return, most of the Defence Force had gone, but the fear remained. And all their utilities had been cut off.

For Váradi's husband, it was all too much. By September he had scraped together enough money to fly to Canada, where he is trying to claim asylum.

Since Canada lifted visa restrictions for Hungarians in 2008, it has become a favourite destination for desperate Roma. Hungary was Canada's top asylum claimant source country in 2010, with 2,297 cases referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board .

It appears that it will hold the top spot again in 2011, as figures for the first nine months of the year showed 2,545 Hungarian referrals, more than 1,000 above the second-highest source country, China. According to HCLU, 45 Roma children and 22 adults from Gyöngyöspata have left for Canada in the past six months. The Guardian asked Gyöngyöspata's mayor, Oszkár Juhász, from the far-right Jobbik party, if he regretted or felt sad that the Roma feel they are being driven out of their own village. The village notary replied instead. "The Roma are not pushed out of their own village," wrote Mátyás István. "Those who are not willing to work here will not work in other places either."

The Hungarian minister for government communication, Zoltán Kovács, in response to the same question, said: "We regret that some are utilising the situation and that some Roma people are leaving the country on an argument that is not valid." In a phone interview he suggested the Hungarian Roma who claim asylum in Canada plea persecution in order to "make money" and milk the benefit system. "We don't think there is any foundation for [Hungarian Roma to claim asylum because they are being persecuted for their ethnicity]," he said, adding: "We want every Hungarian citizen to stay here."

Nonetheless, Váradi said she and her children – who range in age from two to 16 – were going to Toronto as soon as they had the air fare. "We have no life here any more," she said. Asked what she hoped for in Canada, Váradi did not speak of material gain. "My husband says it's good there. He says there is going to be happiness, that people there will offer us love."

When the Guardian mentioned Natasha's case to the local council, asking what they were doing to help the poorest members of the community, the notary asked us a question instead of answering ours. "The head of that household is in Canada, alone. What is your opinion on this?" He said the family had only recently asked the council for help. "If we can, we will help them," he insisted.

It can be hard to understand how such a situation can unfold in the EU. But talk to locals, Roma and non-Roma, and it is clear that segregation is at the very heart of the community.

Both sides agree that until last March, the two groups coexisted relatively peacefully. There were "small incidents" with Roma accused of pilfering firewood or vegetables and other petty crime, but only 12 "petty larcenies" were reported to police during the first four months of 2011. Violence was rare. But the youngest members of the community quickly learned that not all children are equal in Gyöngyöspata.

The primary school is run on a sort of apartheid system, say lawyers who have brought a lawsuit against the local authority on behalf of the charity Chance for Children Foundation. Their report claims: "Romani children are illegally separated from non-Roma in separate classes, which are also physically separated from each other (Roma classes are on the ground floor, non-Roma are on the upper floors). This separation involves school separation of Roma and non-Roma children in the restrooms, school festivities and school lunch."

When the Guardian visited the school, we saw a marked difference between the quality and condition of equipment on the two floors. The classrooms on the upper levels had electronic whiteboards; downstairs, where the Roma are taught, they make do with a blackboard. Roma children we spoke to complain that only "upstairs" children receive swimming lessons, and that they are not allowed to use computers in class until several years after the non-Roma. They are excluded from after-school activities and are not allowed to use the superior toilet facilities on the first floor.

The Gyöngyöspata authorities deny the allegations and the case is ongoing. The school did not respond to our request for comment.

When asked what the government was doing to help the Roma in Gyöngyöspata and beyond, Kovács said it did not see the problems as being ethnically based, adding: "We are aware that some problems the Roma are facing are problems because they are Roma, but in general terms, these are social, educational and labour market problems." His government, he said, was rejuvenating the job market by getting people off benefits and into work: "Everyone should work who can." It was the "saddest figure in Europe", he said, that Hungary had the lowest employment rate in the EU.

For the long-term unemployed – a disproportionate number of whom are Roma – this means taking part in the government's new public work programme. According to Jeno Setét, a Roma activist, between 70% and 80% of Hungary's Roma population do not work (the rate for the whole population is around 10%). This scheme aims to get 300,000 people into work by 2014 via a sort of community service scheme for which participants are paid less than the national monthly minimum wage (around 80,000 HUF – £214 – for unskilled workers) but slightly more than they would receive in benefits.

Anyone unemployed for 90 days is offered a place on the programme, which administers projects cleaning streets or sewers, cutting down trees or building football stadiums or dams. Refusal to accept a placement will result in all social security benefits being stopped to the refusenik and family. Gyöngyöspata was chosen last year to run a pilot scheme. Unemployed locals – almost exclusively Roma – were deployed to cut down trees in a nearby wood.

For Setét, the public work scheme is a "smokescreen" that will do little to help Roma get "real" jobs and will reinforce their position at the bottom of Hungarian society. "If people on the scheme were paid properly and trained properly, I'd be all for it," he added. "But they are not. Right now it's a way of humiliating people and paying them a slave wage."

The most controversial aspect of the programme is the introduction of what Roma activists call "labour camps". If there is no suitable project near enough for someone to commute to, they will be offered "accommodation" near or on site, said Kovács. "They are not labour camps," he said. But to the Hungarian Roma, many of whose relatives perished the last time they were sent off to "labour camps", during the Nazi era, the merest whiff of anything similar is spine-chilling, said Gábor Sárközi from the Roma Press Centre: "People are absolutely terrified at the prospect."


UKRAINE | Police batter and tear gas Roma

Thursday, 26 January 2012, 23:04 |

The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) is calling on the Ukrainian authorities to investigate a violent police raid on a Roma settlement in Uzgorod. The Budapest ERRC sent a letter to the police chief and prosecutor regarding the raid that took place on 11 January 2012. A Ukrainian Ministry of Interior “special tasks unit” burst into the Radvanka settlement in the early hours of the morning, according to local media and residents. The operation had been planned and carried out as part of an ongoing operation to target places regarded as centres of organised criminal activity. The Interior Ministry’s police thugs violated Ukrainian law by using batons and tear gas on women, children, older people and people with disabilities in the community. The ministry, it appears, is extending reasonable suspicion of individuals, who may have been implicated in criminal activities, to the whole community. The ERRC is now calling on the authorities to launch an official investigation into the precise legality of the police actions in Uzgorod. If the results show that these actions were unlawful, the perpetrators must be held accountable under Ukrainian law, the ERRC is demanding.


RUSSIA | Nazi revival worries

Thursday, 26 January 2012, 23:03 |

With economic turmoil growing and extreme-right political parties becoming more active, Russian officials are expressing concern about groups in some European countries attempting to revive and glorify Nazi ideology. “Russia attaches great importance to preserving the memory of millions of victims of WWII, including the Holocaust,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, has told an international conference in Moscow entitled “Never again: the memory of the Holocaust and prevention of crimes against humanity.”

“The erosion of moral standards cannot be tolerated when it comes to assessing the outcomes of that war,” he warned, adding that “attempts to rewrite the history of World War II in a way that acknowledges the rights of the hangmen alongside those of the victims, placing the occupiers alongside the liberators, are deeply immoral.”
Lavrov referred to the rise of “right-wing extremism” in some European states, where, he said, efforts are being made to transform “war criminals into heroes.” This disturbing trend naturally causes “deep concerns” in Russia.’

The Foreign Minister also pointed to the curriculum in some European schools, where the history textbooks “allot more space to the deeds of the Nazis…than to the Nuremberg Trials.” At the same time, “monuments to the victors over Nazism are being desecrated, while the invaders are being commemorated,” he said. In April 2007, the Estonian authorities made the decision to remove a World War II monument from the centre of Tallinn. The statue, a landmark known as the Bronze Soldier, also marked the graves of Soviet soldiers who had sacrificed their lives in the fight against fascism. That decision sparked massive protests, in which one person was killed and dozens wounded in the Estonian capital. Speaking out against these alarming incidences in Europe remains one of Russia’s foreign policy priorities, Lavrov stressed. “The imperative of the present day should not be an appeal to phantoms of the past but, on the contrary, inspiring a…common response to the challenges of a rapidly changing world.” Russia lost an estimated 27 million people in its World War II struggle against Hitler fascism.


GERMANY | Anti-Semitism still haunts Germany

Thursday, 26 January 2012, 23:03 | Source: BBC | | Click here for original article

What on Earth does the Jewish community in Germany make of the flurry of headlines this week that described substantial anti-Semitism, and how have they reacted to plans to publish extracts from Mein Kampf?

Here, they live in the land that produced the Holocaust, and a rigorous academic study indicates that one in five Germans has at least a "latent" antipathy towards Jews. Separately, a British publisher planned to put extracts from Hitler's manifesto on news stands and only held back as a court in Bavaria got involved. You would expect loud and righteous outrage - but you would be wrong. Certainly, some groups have voiced anger but they have often been outside Germany.

In the country itself there is a more measured tone. Behind the headlines there are nuances and complexities. It should be said that Germany has a growing Jewish population, arguably the fastest growing Jewish population in Europe. Many of the immigrants are from Russia but many are from Israel - people who have come to live in the land of their fathers, people who have come to live in the land that expelled their fathers to their deaths.

These people know the history - how could they not? - but they also live lives and make livings. As Rafael Seligmann told the BBC: "It's important to have a positive identity - not just to say 'my uncle was murdered'." He has just published a new Jewish newspaper in Berlin, Jewish Voice from Germany. "People feel it's not enough to have a 'Holocaust identity'. We are trying to show that the Jewish identity is broader," said Mr Seligmann. "It's about culture and history and politics."

So what did he make of the research indicating that 20% of Germans harbour some anti-Semitism? "That indicates that 80% don't," he said. "You have to be positive". Mr Seligmann's view is that the past, of course, was terrible and should be remembered and learnt from, but that the present and future remained hopeful. Nor have Jewish groups in Germany been utterly damning of the proposed publication of extracts from Mein Kampf - suspicious, certainly, but not always outraged. The head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Dieter Graumann, said: "Of course, it would be better if it were not published. But if it has to be published, it must be accompanied by historians' commentary." In the end, the publishers pulled back because a court in Bavaria is yet to make a full decision. Publishing Mein Kampf is not illegal, but the government of Bavaria owns the copyright and it had indicated its opposition. And those uneasy about publication seem to recognise that the British publisher did not have an anti-Semitic agenda - he said the extracts would reveal the "poor-quality and confused work of a totally twisted mind".

Attitudes to Jews in Germany obviously have a big importance, but those who study racism put them into a wider context. There is enmity - and a lack of enmity - towards many groups. Last year the University of Bielefeld published the results of a survey across Europe which looked at attitudes not just towards Jews but Muslims and other victims of what it called "group-focused enmity". It concluded: "Group-focused enmity is widespread in Europe. It is weakest in the Netherlands and strongest in Poland and Hungary." On anti-Semitism, the researchers said it was strongest in Poland and Hungary. "In Portugal, followed closely by Germany, anti-Semitism is significantly more prominent than in the other western European countries. "In Italy and France anti-Semitic attitudes as a whole are less widespread than the European average, while the extent of anti-Semitism is least in Great Britain and the Netherlands."

Putting it bluntly, there is widespread - but not majority - feeling against immigrants and Muslims across Europe, with only minor differences between countries. Anti-Semitism, however, rises broadly from west to east in Europe, with the exception of Portugal where it is relatively high. And prejudice seems to be getting worse. Sociologist Wilhelm Heitmeyer of the University of Bielefeld blames harder economic times. For the last 10 years, he has researched attitudes and published results annually in a book entitled German Conditions. The method is to put a series of statements to 2,000 people: "To preserve law and order, we have to crack down on outsiders and troublemakers"; "I sometimes feel like a stranger in my own country, because of the many Muslims in Germany"; "Many Jews are trying to use Germany's Nazi past to secure benefits today and make the Germans pay for it." He concludes in the latest one that xenophobia is on the rise "especially after the [economic] crisis that began in 2008". He says, too, that it is not just antagonism towards foreigners - or those perceived to be foreigners.

There is also what he calls "group-specific misanthropy", which may be antagonism towards Jews or Muslims or any other ethnic group but also towards, say, the long-term unemployed. This "group-specific misanthropy" has not risen against homosexuals and women in Germany but has against the long-term unemployed as well as against ethnic minorities. As times get harder, it seems, Germans look for others to be angry at. In this, they are no doubt not alone. But there is one way in which German attitudes are very different from those in some other countries. In immigrant countries like Britain and the United States the definition of national identity is not as tied up with ethnicity.

In an island nation, with more than 1,000 years of immigration, identifying who exactly descends from whom is much harder. Until recently the definition of German citizenship was tied to the "blood line" - you were a German if your parents were German. The law was only changed when the presence of large numbers of people of Turkish origin and German birth made that untenable - for how many generations could people live in a country without being granted citizenship because their parents were not citizens?

But a racial awareness does seem to remain among many ordinary Germans. Author Thilo Sarrazin published a best-selling book called Deutschland Schafft Sich Ab (Germany Abolishes Itself). He talked of a "Jewish gene", though associating it with success. It is a way of seeing the world which would seem odd in many other countries.


RUSSIA | Nazis attack anti-fascists

Thursday, 26 January 2012, 14:40 |

Dozens of nazis attacked anti-fascist activists returning from a memorial event for murdered anti-fascists, Stanislav Markelov and Natalya Baburova, shooting them with pellet guns in St.Petersburg’s Mayakovskaya Metro station on 19 January, witnesses and activists have said. Despite denials by police and Metro officials, a witness said she saw scores of men waiting on the train platform at Mayakovskaya Metro before rushing forward to attack anti-fascists. Five shots were fired and later she saw police officers leading two teenagers to the metro police office. Stefania Kulaeva, of the Memorial Anti-Discrimination Centre, which organised the memorial event, said threats had been made against rally participants on nazi blogs and forums. “The information is scarce, but what can be said is that neo-nazis did attack the anti-fascists, whom they had followed, as they returned from the event,” Kulayeva said. She added that attacks were carried out on anti-fascists on the same day in Moscow and Voronezh, as well as in Sevastopol and Simferopol in Ukraine. A local Turkish community source said that two Turkish men were badly beaten by six men on Ulitsa Rubinshteina in St. Petersburg city centre in what also appears to be a nazi assault on the same evening.


CZECH REPUBLIC | Far-right’s lawyer challenges expert’s independence

Wednesday, 25 January 2012, 12:32 |

Petr Koci, a defence lawyer for supporters of the fascist Workers’ Party of Social Justice (DSSS), has challenged the independence of Ivo Svoboda, an expert in extremism, over his allegedly excessive pay and disrespect for the ultra-right scene. Like another expert, Michal Mazel, Svoboda receives excessive sums for assisting in court proceedings as a sworn expert, Koci claimed in an objection filed with a court in Most. Svoboda is among the experts who will testify at an appeal hearing for three fascist DSSS supporters in the town this week. The three are charged with carrying the flags of the Workers’ Party (DS) that was banned by the Czech Supreme Administrative Court two years ago. Earlier this month, Koci complained about Mazel, challenging his “excessive pay” and claiming that he was biased because he is “of Jewish origin”.

The court rejected Koci’s objection as irrelevant. Referring to right-wing extremist threats, Svoboda said one must ignore them “as these stupid deprived beasts are unable to communicate otherwise.” Experts focusing on extremism have long faced DSSS intimidation and their private details often appear on the DSSS’s website. Citing this kind of witch-hunting, Mazel quit his position as an expert two weeks ago. Koci filed an objection against Svoboda’s alleged bias on 23 January, just days before the appeal proceedings in the case of the three fascists whom a lower level court found guilty in April 2011 and who have yet to be finally sentenced.


GERMANY | Agency set up to combat nazi propaganda

Wednesday, 25 January 2012, 12:31 | Source: dpa |

A new German agency charged with advising local authorities on how to counteract nazis and their activities has been announced in Berlin , two months after exposure of a nazi gang – the National Socialist Underground – that committed at least 10 murders. Family Affairs Minister Kristina Schroeder said the information and skill agency would be a one-stop source of advice to municipalities seeking ways to halt nazi recruiters. She spoke after a day-long meeting with church activists and youth workers in Berlin. In November, police blamed three nazis, who had met as teenagers in the 1990s, for nine unsolved murders of immigrant shopkeepers and the shooting of a police officer. Two of the three killed themselves before arrest and the survivor is in custody, awaiting indictment.

A new survey funded by the German parliament suggests that many German schoolchildren use the word “Jew” as a term of abuse and that as many as 20% of Germans are latently antisemitic. “We have to better grasp that attacks on minorities are attacks on ourselves as a whole,” said Schroeder in Berlin after the meeting. The new agency would advise youth workers on effective ways to thwart nazis. However, she said her ministry’s anti-nazi annual budget of 24 million euros (£20 million) was unlikely to be expanded.

Hans-Peter Friedrich, the interior minister, said he wanted to deny nazis any refuge in society. “Only when we all actively stand up for democracy and tolerance can we root out right-wing extremism from our society,” he said. The chairman of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, Dieter Graumann, however, criticised the slow pace of the inquiry into the 10 killings. “The authorities are in continued hibernation in investigating these dreadful acts,” he said in an interview. A parliamentary commission of inquiry into the killings is scheduled to be set up on 25 January by a resolution in the German parliament, the Bundestag.


BULGARIA | Sports daily’s racist front page

Saturday, 21 January 2012, 19:10 |

The Bulgarian sports daily 7 Dni Sport (7 Days Sport) has caused public anger with a racist front-page headline. The 18 January print edition’s lead article was titled “CSKA's New Players - Italian, Swede and Two Bl*****s”.

News of the front-page prompted immediate protests from human rights organisations. The Association of European Journalists in Bulgaria (AEJ) sent an open letter to Chief Prosecutor Boris Velchev insisting that the Prosecutor's Office initiate proceedings for race-based incitement to discrimination and hatred. “We find that the title of the front-page article, which lists Simeon Kichukov and Boyan Petrov as authors, is not only offensive and contradicts journalism ethics, but also incites racial hatred and discrimination.” said the AEJ. The association said that the article was a community threat because it had been produced consciously and via a popular printed media outlet. The AEJ also called for holding the authors of the article, the duty editor, the editor-in-chief and all other higher-ranking staff who had approved the publication of the title, including the publisher, legally responsible.

At the same time, the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) sent a letter to the editorial board of the sports newspaper, asking it to change the wording of the title or face sanctions by the Commission for Protection Against Discrimination. The BHC also demanded that the newspaper publish an apology in its next print edition. 7 Dni Sport’s editorial board has yet to respond.


POLAND | Hitler HQ to be tourist money-spinner

Saturday, 21 January 2012, 19:09 |

Hitler’s wartime HQ, the so-called “Wolf's Lair”, near the north-east Polish town of Ketrzyn, is state property, but a tender has been announced from a new tenant in a macabre bid to turn the site into a money-spinner. “We are mainly concerned about making the place more attractive,” said Zenon Piotrowicz, a spokesman for the State Forestry department, in an interview with the daily Gazeta Wyborcza.

The tender is being handled by Piotrowicz’s department on behalf of the Treasury, following expiry of a previous lease. Some 180,000 tourists from Poland and abroad already visit the 13-hectare site each year. Potential investors will be obliged to pay a minimum rent of 470,000 zloty per year (£90,000). Piotrowicz stressed that a reconstruction of the bunker itself – the structure is a ruin – is out of the question. However, among other things, the current hotel and restaurant facilities, which are located in former garage buildings, are assigned for improvement. Ketrzyn, formerly known as Rastenburg, was part of the German province of East Prussia before the war and the bunker built in the surrounding forest became Hitler’s Eastern Front HQ after the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941.

Later, it was the scene of German officer Claus von Stauffenberg’s attempt to assassinate Hitler who escaped with minor injuries. Stauffenberg and his co-conspirators were later hunted down and murdered. The Red Army captured the site in January 1945.


ITALY | Five arrested for anti-Jewish plot

Friday, 20 January 2012, 11:59 | Source: JTA |

Police in Rome have arrested five fascists on charges of plotting violence against the local Jewish community. The accused also plotted to attack Riccardo Pacifici, Rome’s Jewish community president, as well as Gianni Alemanno, the city's mayor; Gianfranco Fini, the president of the Chamber of Deputies and the president of the Senate.

Police said 11 others were also under investigation. The charges include criminal association to spread racial hatred, incitement to violence and discrimination for racial, ethnic and religious reasons.

Those arrested included five members of the fascist “Militia” group, including its long-time leader, Maurizio Boccaci, who is in his 50s. Police raids were carried out in several cities across the country. According to Italian state television, the accused wanted to foment a “revolutionary war” against official Italian institutions. Alemanno and Fini both are mainstream right-wing politicians who had their political roots in the neo-fascist movement but now demonstrate strong support for Israel.

Alemanno has been the target of nazi militia banners and graffiti. Alemanno and Pacifici made a two-day visit to Israel this week to meet with freed Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.


BANGLADESH | Hizb ut Tahrir: Coup plot against Bangladeshi Prime Minister foiled

Thursday, 19 January 2012, 19:27 | bdnews24.com | | Click here for original article

Reports are coming in from Bangladesh that the army has foiled a plot by some hardline officers to topple the Sheikh Hasina government and that the process to bring the culprits to justice has begun.

The statement by an army spokesman came at a press briefing Thursday afternoon in the wake of the detention of key war crimes suspect Ghulam Azam as well as media reports that several fanatic former and serving army officers were trying to destabilise the country.

"Specific information (evidence) has been unearthed that some officers in active military service have been involved in the conspiracy to topple the system of democratic governance through the army," the spokesman said.

The spokesman, brigadier general Muhammad Masud Razzaq, branded these officers as having extreme religious views.

Brigadier Razzaq said retired lieutenant colonel Ehsan Yusuf and major Zakir have been placed under arrest on charges of government coup plot and that they "bluntly admitted their role in the plot".

When asked how many people were involved with the plot, he said he cannot be specific with the number until the investigation ends.

"But we believe 14 to 16 people may have been linked to the coup attempt. The army could thwart the move because it has proper chain of command in place," the spokesman added.

"We are not ruling out anything," came the reply from Gen Razzaq when asked if any foreign country was involved.

It is rare for the army in Bangladesh to hold a news conference, which lends gravity to the alleged plot to overthrow the government. Army's chief of general staff lieutenant general Moinul Islam, acting judge advocate general colonel Muhammed Sazzad Siddique and other senior officers were present.

The spokesman said the initial investigations found non-resident Bangladeshis (NRB) linked to the plot.


DENMARK | Racists apologise for swastika

Wednesday, 18 January 2012, 10:09 |

Danish People’s Party (DF) local branch chair Anne Nielsen has publicly apologised for using a Nazi swastika symbol in a newspaper ad for her party in Zealand. The advertisement was placed in the paper to publicise a meeting involving DF MEP, Morten Messerschmidt. (Ironically, Messerschmidt, himself, was on the wrong end of sulphurous publicity five years ago after allegedly giving a Nazi salute in a Copenhagen bar.) “It is a deeply regrettable mistake for which I apologise,” Nielsen told reporters and Carl Christian Ebbesen, the DF’s national vice-chairman, also said Nielsen’s action was “regrettable”.

Danish news reports suggest that the swastika logo was designed by Ole Wolf, a blogger and co-founder of www.sataniskforum.dk, in May 2006 in an attempt to create a logo that reflected the DF’s policies “a little more accurately” but was rejected. The DF is careful to distant itself from nazis despite its virulently anti-immigrant policies.


NORWAY | ‘Anti-Islamic’ band nominated for top music prize

Wednesday, 18 January 2012, 09:36 | Source: The Guardian | | Click here for original article

Controversial nomination  Norwegian band Taake have lyrics attacking Muslims
Controversial nomination Norwegian band Taake have lyrics attacking Muslims

A notoriously "anti-Islamic" band has been nominated for Norway's top metal prize. Taake are one of six nominees for a prestigious Spellemann award, despite a song that declares “To hell with Muhammad and the Muhammadans!” “Norway will soon awaken!" read the lyrics to Orkan (Hurricane), on Taake’s album “Noregs Vaapen”. The Spellemanns are Norway’s equivalent of the Brits or the Grammys, and “Noregs Vaapen” is nominated for best metal album. Elsewhere on Orkan, singer Ørjan Stedjeberg refers to Muslims’ “unforgivable customs” and calls for a new “kingdom” to “shine through [the] bad years, shame and Christian times”.

Despite complaints, Spellemann officials defended the band’s nomination. “We enjoy full freedom of expression in Norway and [our] jury is not going to censor content in any way,” chairman Marte Thorsb told Aftenposten. But the Norwegian Humanist Association argues the lyrics go too far. Norway is still shaken from last summer’s “anti-multiculturalist” attacks by Anders Breivik, which left 69 people dead. Taake “do not encourage either violence or racism”, Stedjeberg said. Stedjeberg’s comments come less than four years after he painted a swastika on his chest for a Taake concert in Essen in Germany.


ESTONIA | Moves to honour SS

Wednesday, 18 January 2012, 09:34 |

Moves are underway in Estonia to honour those who served in Estonian units of Hitler’s Waffen SS during WWII. Similar plans have been rebuffed in the past but new legislation is being drawn up for introduction into the Estonian Parliament in March.

The Estonian International Commission for the Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity has documented the involvement of Estonian puppets of the Nazis and military and police units in war crimes. Along with about a thousand Estonian Jews, at least 250 Roma and six to seven thousand Estonian Christians were killed during the German occupation.

The occupation regime also supported the killing of more than 10,000 people of other nationalities in slave labour camps. The Commission established that between 1,000 and 1,200 Estonians in the “Home Guard” had taken part in criminal activity and that regular police units were deployed as security in Jewish ghettos in occupied Poland, helping brutally to clear out those ghettoes as part of the objective of annihilating Jews in death camps. In the summer of 1942, the Estonian 36th Police Battalion took part in what was described as “fighting partisans,” but was just another German-style genocidal campaign. In 1942-43, large numbers of those in Estonian police units were taken up first in the “Estonian Legion” and then into the 3rd Estonian SS Volunteer Brigade.

In early 1944, that unit became the 20th Estonian SS Volunteer Division, which in turn, in May of the same year, became the 20th Armed SS Grenadier Division (Estonian Nr 1). They were deployed in the northern part of the Eastern Front but were mostly wiped out. Re-established in October 1944, the unit was deployed to defend East Prussia. Despatched to Silesia, it surrendered in Bohemia. The argument behind honouring SS members as freedom fighters, backed mainly by nationalist parties in Estonia, originates from their role in trying to repel the rapidly advancing Red Army in the first six months of 1944.


GERMANY | Top official sacked over nazi probe flop

Wednesday, 18 January 2012, 09:33 |

It has emerged that top internal security official Artur Hertwig of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) has been fired as a result of failures into the agency’s investigation into the murderous activities of nazi National Socialist Underground terror gang that murdered at least ten people. Hertwig has been replaced as head of the department responsible for fighting right-wing extremism by Dinchen Franziska Büddefeld who was previously involved in investigating Islamist terrorists. BfVchief, Heinz Fromm, has admitted that the domestic intelligence agency made mistakes in the investigation of the nazi terrorist group, now known as the Zwickau Cell, conceding that it been unable to track down the members of the NSU and had failed to gather information on those who aided them.


ROMANIA | Ultra-right prepares for elections

Wednesday, 18 January 2012, 09:29 | Source: thejc.com |

Two parties claiming to be the political heirs of the interwar fascist Iron Guard movement have announced plans to run for parliament in elections later this year. Tudor Ionescu, boss of the far-right organisation, The New Right, submitted 30,000 signatures to support registration of his Nationalist Party (PN), stating that his aim is to “save the Romanian state and nation”.

Ionescu said the new party had a 25-point programme that would turn Romania into one of the top 15 countries of the world, but did not specify his policies. The other outfit claiming to inherit the Iron Guard tradition, the Party for the Fatherland (PPP), also announced its intention to field.

These parties are unlikely to win the five per cent needed to take seats even though their campaigns hook into disenchantment with Romania’s ruling elites, corruption and supposed subservience to “outside forces” like the European Union, NATO, the IMF or the World Bank. Romanian law bans fascist, racist and xenophobic organisations and the far right avoids openly antisemitic language in public, aiming its bile at Roma people, the Hungarian minority and gays and hiding behind Holocaust denial.


RUSSIA | The pineapple tin terrorists

Wednesday, 18 January 2012, 09:22 | Source: gazeta.ru |

Pic: Gennady Guliaev/Kommersant
Pic: Gennady Guliaev/Kommersant

A group of nine young nationalists, who tried to burn down a Moscow building of Russia’s FSB security service with Molotov cocktails are now on trial in the city, labeled as members of a far-right “Autonomous Combat Terrorist Organization” (ACTO) According to prosecutors, the group committed several arson attacks on trade pavilions where non-Russians worked, threw Molotov cocktails through FSB office windows and burning down three suburban police stations.

Though nobody was hurt, the prosecution defines these actions as terrorism. The nine extremists in the dock are aged between 17 and 19 years old and are also charged with blowing up a car and trying to organise the bombing, using a pineapple tin, packed with home made explosive, of a central water heating plant. The accused group resembles the nazi National Socialist Society (NSS) group prosecuted in 2011 and condemned to long prison terms for multiple murders and hate crimes and faces the same kind of sentences of as much as 15 years behind bars.

Evidence suggests that while they were much more amateurish than the killers of the NSS who knifed 27 people many of the accused were members of the racist Movement Against Illegal Immigration and the nazi Slavic Union, attending rallies and meetings unknown to their parents.


RUSSIA | An Appeal from the January 19 Committee - 2012

Sunday, 15 January 2012, 09:20 | January 19 Committee | | Click here for original article


Anti-fascists in Russia have asked HOPE not hate to distribute this appeal for international support for their demonstration in memory of their murdered colleagues – Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova – who were assassinated by fascists three years ago.

We urge all our supporters to send messages of solidarity to them at collaboration@19jan.ru

Three years ago, on January 19, 2009, we lost our friends Stanislav “Stas” Markelov and Anastasia “Nastya” Baburova, gunned down in broad daylight in downtown Moscow. After many protest actions, marches, rallies, and speeches by activists and ordinary citizens shocked by this violence, Nikita Tikhonov and Yevgenia Khasis, themselves the unfortunate victims of the neo-Nazi narcotic, have been convicted of the murders and sentenced to life and eighteen years in prison, respectively.

Events have come full circle and the criminals have been punished, but we continue to remember how sincere lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova were in their anti-fascist convictions.

We are aware of their absence on a daily basis, when hundreds of activists, people from various movements and of different ideological hues, require an uncompromising lawyer to defend them and an engaged journalist to cover their cases and their campaigns.

So for the third year in a row, on the day when they were murdered, the coldest day of the year, we will take to the streets in an anti-fascist march to remind our fellow citizens and ourselves of the need for each of us to continue our daily struggle with fascism. We must be extremely vigilant in order to recognize fascism in ordinary things: fascism mimics and constantly changes its guises without altering its essence.

There are changes, however, that only a blind man would not notice. Three years ago, the neo-Nazis switched from the indiscriminate slaughter of immigrants to targeted, more “effective” political assassinations: this is how we lost Fyodor Filatov, Ivan Khutorskoi, Stas, and Nastya.

After Tikhonov and Khasis were sent to prison, ultra-rightists were on the verge of tucking their tails between their legs, but a year ago, in response to the unlimited callousness and corruption of the courts and the police, we were treated to the monstrous, senseless riot on Manezh Square in Moscow.

A year later, in December 2011, during the mass protests against the rigged parliamentary elections, we once again saw extreme right-wingers trying to appear more respectable at meetings of protest organizing committees and on the podium at protest rallies.

They scream that it is time we stopped “feeding” the North Caucasus, although it is not the most federally subsidized region of our country: the problem is caused by the local authorities there, who embezzle all available resources and suppress dissenters.

The neo-Nazis stuff immature minds with demagoguery about immigrants, but if their fellow “national-democrats” came to power in Europe and began kicking out ethnically and religiously “inferior” Russia, what would they say? They criticize the regime, but many of them are always willing to serve it for a small fee by breaking up opposition rallies and attacking environmentalist protest camps.

It is the neo-Nazis who will support the current regime if it is faced by the real threat of a democratic revolution demanding freedom and equality for all. Along with other opposition forces, they are against anti-extremist laws, but they want to abolish them only in order to insult other ethnic groups with impunity and play them off each other.

It is not immigrants and “aliens” that threaten a mythical “indigenous majority,” but rather an ultra-right minority that threatens the majority of people in Russia. The “Russian question” is not the issue, but corruption and an unjust social order that enables some people to suppress, exploit and gag others, regardless of their ethnicity and religion.

Nationalism is an obligatory element in this society. The anti-fascist cause is an inherent part of the struggle for genuine democracy, for the right to vote, to speak and be heard for everyone now deprived of this right. Baburova and Markelov proved this with their lives and their deaths.

Please join us on January 19, 2012, at 19:01, on Nikitsky Boulevard, for a rally in memory of Stas and Nastya involving social and civic activists and musicians.

We will never forget, we will not forgive! Russia for everyone willing to work and live honestly!

***

The January 19 Committee is a public anti-fascist initiative involving people from various walks of life – workers and teachers, lawyers and journalists, artists and filmmakers, musicians and sociologists. The January 19 Committee was formed in autumn 2009 in memory of anti-fascist lawyer Stanislav Markelov and anti-fascist journalist Anastasia Baburova, who were murdered in downtown Moscow on January 19, 2009. The January 19 Committee will hold its third annual civic march against neo-Nazi terror on January 19, 2012.

More information:

Telephone: +7 968 836 9877, +7 919 970 0060


Web site: http://19jan.ru

LiveJournal blog: http://january-19th.livejournal.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/groups/393549975496/



CZECH REPUBLIC | Extremism expert resigns after Nazi threats

Thursday, 12 January 2012, 19:46 |

Right-wing extremism expert Michal Mazel has decided to quit after being threatened by nazis, including a charge of bias leveled against him by a lawyer for ultra-right activist Lucie Šlégrová – currently on trial at the District Court in Most – who claimed that because Mazel is allegedly Jewish he could not objectively evaluate Šlégrová's conduct. Mazel has served as an expert witness for three years, his testimony helping get the nazi Workers' Party (Dìlnická strana - DS) banned in 2010. On the basis of his evaluation, leading members of the Workers' Social Justice Party (DSSS), including party chair Tomáš Vandas, have been given suspended prison sentences. Šlégrová, a member of the DSSS was charged with making a speech favourable to Nazism during a demonstration in 2010.


CZECH REPUBLIC | Roma woman murdered - Nazis suspected

Thursday, 12 January 2012, 16:45 |

Three youths who have confessed to murdering a Romani woman in the Prague were not first-time offenders but had previously assaulted a homeless couple. Homeless people in the area confirmed the frequent attacks by the youths, describing them as sympathisers of right-wing extremist movements who had given the Nazi salute in the streets. "Homeless people are classic victims of hate violence. They are assaulted for who they are, for their social status as outsiders," said Klára Kalibová of the In IUSTITIA organization, which provides legal aid to hate violence victims. Tomáš Hulan, a spokesperson for the Prague Police, said the youths explained their attack as the result of a dispute with the homeless people that had gone on for several weeks. One of the trio has been charged with murder and been remanded in custody, having kicked and punched the woman, mainly in her head, before stabbing her with a knife. If convicted, he could face jail for between 15 and 20 years or for life. The other two involved in the incident face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.


GERMANY | German Turks think state supported nazis

Thursday, 12 January 2012, 00:00 |

A survey by Turkey's Haceteppe University's Migration and Politics Research Centre has found that a majority of Turkish immigrants living in Germany believe the state apparatus supported the National Socialist Underground (NSU) murder gang. The survey, conducted among 1,058 respondents, came two months after the discovery of the NSU and its murder of ten people, eight of whom were of Turkish origin. Investigation of the gang's activities uncovered the fact that Germany's federal intelligence agency, the (BfV), had had the gang under close surveillance and even had agents among the gang's members, one of whom was actually present at the scene of one of the killings. 85% of the respondents said the state had provided immense, moderate or minimal levels of assistance and protection to the nazi killers. Evidence implicating some members of state intelligence units and the failure of the security forces to capture the perpetrators of many of the immigrant murders since 2000 have drastically eroded the confidence of Turkish immigrants in the German government, the researchers said. Those who said the murderers had no protection or support from the state at all numbered just 7.36%.
DENMARK | Government loosens immigration rules, right wing squeals

Thursday, 12 January 2012, 00:00 |

Denmark's new social-liberal coalition government has made its first moves to relax the country's harsh curbs on immigration to squeals of protest from the right. In particular, the government, has proposed abolishing the points-based immigration system and the Danish language exam that the previous center-right government introduced even for immigrants with wives or husbands already in Denmark. The two harsh laws were the result of the campaigns and influence of the anti-immigrant Danish People's Party (DFP) which propped up the previous right-wing government. "Years of frequent rule changes have led to unnecessary requirements that have hindered the integration of foreigners in Danish society," the government said in its proposal to change the law. The DFP, which got 12.3% in last September's election, accused the government of reneging on its election pledges. Immigration is a big issue in Denmark, with the far-Right Danish People's Party taking a 12.3 per cent share of the vote in last September's general election.
POLAND | "Anonymous" releases polish "Nazi" list

Thursday, 12 January 2012, 00:00 |

Politicians of the right-wing opposition Law and Justice (PiS) party have found their names included on a list of "Polish neo-nazis" posted on the internet by the "Anonymous" hacking collective. The latest, rather indiscriminate, data includes e-mails, passwords and credit card details hacked by the group in recent weeks. "Anonymous" says the aim of its campaign is to give "neo-nazis a good spanking". About 450 names and details of Polish citizens have been released as part of the protest action, codenamed Operation Blitzkrieg, which has also disclosed details of far-right extremists in Finland and Germany. White supremacist groups from the UK and US are also included on the list of names, published on the nazi-leaks.net web site, based in Germany and re-published on the Polish-based antifa-buzz.net. ?The Polish list also encompasses activists from the far-right National Polish Rebirth (NOP) as well as the PiS politicians.
GERMANY | Nazis behind 2003 murder attempt?

Tuesday, 10 January 2012, 16:46 |

The National Socialist Underground (NSU) group accused of 10 murders between 2000 and 2007 may also have attempted to kill a Turkish-born restaurateur in Duisburg in December 2003, the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung has reported. The Office of Criminal Investigation is now investigating the case. In the murder attempt, the perpetrators placed a gun near the restaurateur's car and rigged it with a wire connected to the vehicle. When the man sat down in the driver's seat, it triggered the weapon, shattered the car's window and seriously injured its target. The Zwickau-based NSU was uncovered in November 2010 when two of its key members were found dead after apparent suicides and a third leader, Beate Zschäpe, turned herself in to police. Several others have since been arrested. In addition to 10 murders, the group has also been accused of 14 bank robberies and two bomb attacks as well as being suspected of killing a rabbi in Switzerland.


BULGARIA | Nationalist Leader Wants Roma "Mafia Bosses" executed

Tuesday, 10 January 2012, 00:00 |

Volen Siderov, the loony leader of Bulgaria's crisis-ridden right-wing extremist Ataka (Attack) party, has declared his support for reinstatement of capital punishment for serious crimes in Bulgaria. His outburst was prompted by a recent case in which three alleged Roma gangsters were charged with contracting the murder of Oleg Yanev, of the Supreme Court Prosecutor's Office, Hristo Varnanov, the Chair of the Supreme Roma Court, and Tsvetelin Kanchev, leader of the Euro Roma party. "These people are criminals who have stolen from us ... they should be shot to death instead of being interviewed," Siderov declared in an interview with the private channel, TV7. Siderov further ranted that the "Roma mafia" has "taken over the whole country" claiming that the ruling centrist-right GERB party won the recent presidential election thanks to votes "bought with the assistance of Roma mafia leaders".
ITALY | Teacher threatens synagogue massacre

Tuesday, 10 January 2012, 00:00 |

Media outlets report that a Turin high school teacher who posted a picture of Mussolini and Hitler on Facebook, wrote: "If you dare remove picture, I will go to a synagogue and shoot some parasite Jews". Renato Pallavidini, 55, who was convicted of Holocaust denial four years ago, has been on sick leave. At the end of December, he posted a picture of Mussolini shaking hands with Hitler and wrote: "Take a look, you dirty bastard Jews who control us from the land of shit and homosexuals called California. If you remove this picture, I will go to the synagogue next to my house, with my pistol, and gun down some parasite Jews." The page was immediately removed and Italian authorities now hope to retrieve the original statement as part of their investigation. In an interview with La Republica, Pallavidini tried to defend his actions, saying: "Why do I need to explain what I write on Facebook? Since the Jewish communities attacked me, my attitude toward them has changed." He has since been sacked from his job.
ITALY | BNP's pals threaten tax authorities

Saturday, 7 January 2012, 00:00 |

Activists of convicted Italian terrorist Roberto Fiore's fascist Forza Nuova party (FN) have hung "suicide puppets" outside tax collection offices in the wake of series of foiled attacks on the tax authorities. Marco Forconi, the FN's boss in the Abruzzo region of central Italy, claimed responsibility for the puppets in a statement which said they were "doused in blood-like red liquid to symbolise suicide". The "offensive", he declared would not stop until the Equitalia tax agency closed down. Equitalia is deeply unpopular in a country where tax evasion is rife and has been violently attacked as the government has cracked down on tax dodgers. It has also been accused of making mistakes with ordinary taxpayers. Forza Nuova's boss, Fiore, is a close associate of British National Party bosses Nick Griffin and Simon Darby.


GERMANY | Nazis target Left Party officials

Thursday, 5 January 2012, 16:55 |

Nazis are systematically targeting politicians from Germany's socialist Left Party by smashing the windows of offices or private homes, daubing graffiti on walls, cutting car brake cables and making anonymous death threats. Gregor Gysi, the parliamentary group leader of the party has said feels surrounded by nazis when he visits his constituency office in the Berlin district of Niederschöneweide, the area having a bastion of militant fascists right-wing extremists who have been renting more and more office space and shops nearby. Left Party members and the police have been counting at least four or five attacks a month nationwide. A recent example was a smashed window in the Hamburg district of Hamm when unknown thugs hurled stones at the office of Hamburg politician Tim Golke in the early hours of Christmas Day. In addition, lists of addresses found among the possessions of the suspected nazi terrorists known as the "Zwickau cell" contained the names of many Left Party officials, indicating that they have been targeting the Left Party with especial frequency and showing that they want revenge for the Left Party's leading role in opposing fascist demonstrations and propaganda.


UKRAINE | Synagogue firebombed for second time

Thursday, 5 January 2012, 16:54 |

Just a month after celebrating the dedication of a new Torah scroll, the small, but historic Jewish community of Kremenchug, Ukraine, has been forced to deal with antisemitism after a petrol bomb ignited a fire and damaged the synagogue’s exterior. The attack, which took place in the middle of the night on New Year’s Eve, followed another arson two months ago. In that attack, the Molotov cocktail failed to ignite. Chief Rabbi Shlomo Salomon said that it was a miracle that the damage in the latest incident was relatively light. Since coming to Kremenchug with his wife Dina Salamon in 1998, the Salomons have endured other incidents, including windows being smashed. Local police are conducting an investigation but, said Salamon, "The community members are taking it really hard," said Salomon. Kremenchug had a large Jewish population until World War II, when invading Nazi armies almost completely wiped out the city’s Jews.


SWITZERLAND | 137 "pardoned" over rescue of Jews

Thursday, 5 January 2012, 16:51 |

More than 100 people, held to be criminals for helping Jews escape Nazi persecution during the Second World War, have now had their names cleared by a Swiss commission. Incredibly, some had been jailed or fined, and many lost jobs under Swiss neutrality laws. The commission was set up in 2004 after a new "rehabilitation" law came into force, allowing for posthumous recognition of people unfairly criminalised because they smuggled Jewish refugees across Switzerland’s borders between 1938 and 1945. The commission, set to end in 2011, said its aim was to repair the damage caused by a "grave injustice" of history. A total of 137 people were cleared but only one person, Aimee Stitelman of Geneva, lived long enough to see her name publicly cleared in 2004, and died months later.


SPAIN | Nazi faces court over Hitler book

Thursday, 5 January 2012, 16:49 |

Veteran Spanish nazi Pedro Varela Geiss, the Barcelona bookseller already convicted for spreading genocidal ideas, is now facing trial for violating intellectual property laws by publishing and distributing the Nazi bible, Hitler's Mein Kampf. Varela, a former chief of the extremist CEDADE organisation published his own edition of Hitler's work and sold large numbers of copies over the years at his "Europa" bookstore, which was attacked and badly damaged last year by militant anti-fascists. Having reopened to the public, its activities caught the attention known to Bavaria, the German federal state that owns the rights to Mein Kampf until 2015, when 70 years will have elapsed since the Nazi dictator committed suicide in Berlin. If convicted, Varela could end up having to pay a considerable amount of money to the Bavarian authorities.


GERMANY | Hackers declare war on nazis

Thursday, 5 January 2012, 16:48 |

"Anonymous" hackers in Germany have declared war" on neo-Nazis for the New Year, disabling a number of their websites and publishing lists of extreme-right supporters. A "Nazi-Leaks" portal has appeared on the internet listing hundreds of names of people signed up to various shops selling far-right tat, as well as writers for the Junge Freiheit newspaper which carries contributions from far-right commentators and interviews with attention seekers like BNP boss Nick Griffin. The hackers say they have closed down 15 websites associated with the nazi National Democratic Party (NPD). They have reportedly called their campaign "Operation Blitzkrieg" and caused the German version of the nazi internet platform "Altermedia" also to go offline. Long lists of names, some with addresses, purporting to be customer registers of firms such as the infamous Thor Steinar clothing firm were posted on the "Nazi-Leaks" portal.


ITALY | Fascists to run Northern Italian high school council

Thursday, 5 January 2012, 16:47 |

Fascists have taken over a high school council in the formerly left-wing Emilia Romagna region, demonstrating that right-wing extremism is undermining mainstream legitimacy among Italian youth. More than 600 students at Galilei high school, in the town of San Secondo Parmense in Parma, elected members of the far-right group Blocco Studentesco (Students' Block – BS) as their four student body representatives. The BS is linked with the Mussolini fans of Casa Pound, a fascist movement that recently hit the headlines when one of its supporters, Gianluca Casseri, shot and killed two Senegalese men in Florence.The SB’s breathrough in Parma is the first time that a far right-wing group has had such a clear victory in the once strongly Communist Emilia Romagna. Further south, however, student groups connected to Casa Pound and the SB have won some recent school elections in Rome.


AUSTRIA | Top Austrian fascist dies

Thursday, 5 January 2012, 16:47 |

Far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ) leader Heinz-Christian Strache has announced the death, at 93, last Sunday of veteran fascist Otto Scrinzi. Strache praised the veteran extremist for "living and representing the values of our movement". Despite always denying being a fascist, Scrinzi served in Nazis’ brown-shirted SA paramilitary formation. After the war, he founded the Union of Independents (VdU) that later merged with the FPÖ. Scrinzi was angered by party’s liberal course in the early 1980s but became reconciled when fellow racist Jörg Haider took over the FPÖ leadership in 1986. Scrinzi, who published several disputed books about the history of Germany and Germanic ideology and culture and got a miserable 1.2 per cent running for president in 1986 when Kurt Waldheim was elected, is seen as one of Strache’s mentors. Only recently, Strache met with representatives of right-wing movements in Italy to discuss closer ties.


NORWAY | Killer Breivik "not insane," say prison psychiatrists

Thursday, 5 January 2012, 00:00 |

The claim that Norwegian terrorist killer Anders Behring Breivik is legally insane has been questioned after prison psychiatrists said he is not psychotic and not in need of medication. Prosecutor Svein Holden has said in a letter to the court, however, that despite the new information he will not seek another evaluation. This might mean that if Breivik is convicted of terrorism he will be not go to prison and will be forced to undergo psychiatric treatment. However, several of the victim's lawyers have demanded a new psychiatric evaluation of Breivik. Mental-health experts and lawyers representing the victims of the massacres that rocked Norway in July have hotly debated the original report on Breivik's mental state by two court-appointed psychiatrists. Breivik has already admitted to setting off a bomb that ripped through Oslo's government district, killing eight people, before shooting dead 69 others at the summer camp of the ruling Labour Party's youth wing. He claimed his murderous rampage was necessary to "defend Europe against a Muslim invasion".


ITALY | Rome to investigate nazi group

Thursday, 5 January 2012, 00:00 |

Rome prosecutors have launched a probe into the nazi group Stormfront after it compiled a blacklist of religious figures, politicians and journalists. The organization is described as a branch of the international body founded by the US nazi Don Black, a former head of a Ku Klux Klan group, who is banned from entering the UK. Stormfront's hitlist reportedly includes the Bishop of Turin Monsignor Cesare Nosiglia; Riccardo Pacifici, the president of the Jewish Community in Rome; Adel Smith, the president of the Muslim Union of Italy, and journalists Gad Lerner and Maurizio Costanzo. The Rome daily La Repubblica has said those on the list have been targeted because of their support for immigrants.


FRANCE | Muslim war graves attacked

Thursday, 5 January 2012, 00:00 |

Thirty war graves of Muslim soldiers who fought in World War I have been attacked and defaced in the southern city of Carcassonne. Racist insults and swastikas were painted on the graves, which are identified by the Islamic symbols of the star and crescent. Slogans including "France for the French" and "Arabs out" were painted on some of the gravestones, according daily newspaper Le Figaro. The graves of Muslim soldiers in the same cemetery were attacked earlier this year in September. Abdallah Zekri, president of a body that monitors Islamophobia, condemned the attacks on the graves of soldiers who "died for France." He pointed to a "significant and very worrying increase in Islamophobia in France," explaining that such attacks are up by 34%in 2011. In November alone, these included six fires at mosques.