World News

GREECE | Neo-Nazi votes spur memories of Greece's Holocaust

Thursday, 31 May 2012, 18:43 | Source: AFP |

Isaac Mizan, a Greek Jew, remembers seeing the flames of the furnaces. It was 1944, and the Nazis were burning bodies in the Auschwitz death camp.

The 16-year-old boy had been deported by train from his home town of Arta in western Greece, along with his parents and three sisters. Of those five, he only saw one sister again.

In Greece, few people talk about what happened to its tens of thousands of Jews in the years after 1941, when the Germans invaded and crushed the Greek and allied resistance.

Now the rise of a Greek neo-Nazi party, Golden Dawn, which won its first seats in parliament this month, has driven Jews here to speak out about their ordeal in World War II as a reminder.

"I lost sleep when I saw they got into parliament," Mizan, now 85, told AFP.

A television interview by the party's leader Nikos Mihaloliakos, in which he played down the extent of the Holocaust, prompted a rare public appearance on Tuesday by some of the very few Greek survivors.

Some 400 people crammed into a lecture hall at Athens University to hear Mizan and four other elderly survivors talk about their lives during the Nazi killings and deportations that almost wiped out Greece's Jewish population.

"I remember seeing the flames of the crematoriums," Mizan said.

"They would also throw people alive into lakes."

The subject of the Holocaust in Greece only recently started being mentioned in school history books.

Four years of recession have raised anti-immigrant tension in some districts, fuelling Golden Dawn's rise, but some also say a blindness to parts of history is to blame.

"It's a small part of our book," said Manos Roditakis, 20, a maths student at the university.

"It's mentioned that there was a Holocaust in all of Europe and Greece too, but they don't focus much on that," he said.

"The focus is on the Greek resistance against the Germans and on the Battle of Crete and things like that," he said, referring to the climax of the Nazi conquest in 1941.

In a televised interview this month, Mihaloliakos denied the existence of gas chambers in the Nazi death camps and suggested that to say six million Jews died in the Holocaust was an exaggeration.

"There were no ovens, no gas chambers, it's a lie," he insisted in the interview.

He said he had "read lots of books casting doubt on the number of six million Jews" who died in the Holocaust.

"Auschwitz, what Auschwitz? I didn't go there. What happened there? Have you been there?" he asked.

At Tuesday's event, Mizan rolled up the left sleeve of his suit to reveal the number the Nazis tattooed on his forearm in black ink at Auschwitz: 182641.

Of the five survivors at Tuesday's event, he was the only one who went through the camps. The others managed to stay in Greece, hiding with the help of their countrymen.

Before World War II, a Jewish community had flourished for centuries in Greece, mainly around the northern city of Thessaloniki.

Jews in Greece are now estimated to number about 6,000. Since the war their presence has been scarcely visible, their story seldom told.

"This was the first time in Greece that such a big event took place, in terms of the audience, with young people and non-Jews, who came without being obliged to," said Isaac Mizan's son, Zozef.

Another Greek Holocaust survivor, Alexandros Simha, added: "There is a silence, an indifference among people in Greece. But now they are starting to dig a little into their past."

Golden Dawn won 6.9 percent of the vote and 21 seats in the 300-member parliament in an inconclusive election on May 6.

"We are coming," Michaloliakos said afterwards. "The time for fear has come for those who betrayed this homeland."

A new election is scheduled on June 17. Opinion polls indicate Golden Dawn could see a dip in support but may still retain its presence in parliament.

Tuesday's event was organised by Hagen Fleischer, a German history professor at Athens University, as a riposte to Mihaloliakos's comments playing down the horror of the Holocaust.

"We must not forget the Holocaust", said Simha.

"The serpent's egg is still there, ready to hatch."

RUSSIA | Racism rife on campus

Wednesday, 30 May 2012, 16:46 | Source: Kommersant |

Foreign students in the Russian city of Orenburg are being asked to move out of their dorms because city officials think African students risk raping children in the nearby summer camp. And this is supposed to be a Russian city known for tolerance...

African immigrants in Russia (Facebook)African immigrants in Russia (Facebook)

It was April 19 when Oleg Sviridov, rector at the Orenburg State Institute of Management (OSIM), received an unexpected invitation to speak with a top local official.

Eugene Arapov, head of the municipal government of Orenburg, a Russian city near the Kazakhstan border, told Sviridov that by June 1 he wanted all of the international students out of the university’s dormitory, located in a city park.

“I was told that nobody needs to see reports on television about black people walking around the park,” Sviridov said. “They told me that the African students might rape children.” According to the rector, during the meeting the officials went even further, roundly saying that foreigners were not welcome in Orenburg. “And this region is always trying to promote itself as a tolerant and multicultural one,” Sviridov said.

OSIM’s dormitory, which is home to students from 23 different countries, including Zimbabwe, Congo and Chad, is located on a city-owned wooded park that extends over several hundred hectares. In addition to the dorms, a couple of children’s camps are located in the park, although they are separated by fencing.

According to the rector, the students are living legally in the dorms. “They are taken to the university by bus everyday and taken back, they don’t have anywhere else to live,” Sviridov said. “And saying that the Africans, in particular, might rape children, is absolutely insulting.”

Racist attacks against foreigners in Russia are not new, and Amnesty International has said that racism in Russia is “out of control.” Attacks on foreigners and foreign students, particularly those who appear obviously non-Russian, such as Africans and East Asians, are not uncommon, although the primary targets of racist rhetoric and violence are people from the Caucasus mountains, such as Chechens, Armenians and Azeris.

Still, for officials to make blatantly anti-immigrant remarks is surprising. After the rector’s refusal to move the international students, the city office sent him two official notices “recommending the removal of the foreigners from the proximity of the camps.”

In addition, there have been two raids in the dormitory building housing immigrant students. In the second raid, on May 24, immigration agents arrived accompanied by unidentified individuals with guns. “Our bus was stopped by some people with automatic rifles who ordered everyone to turn off their telephone,” said Al-Fakikh Cami Akhmed, a student from Yemen. “I turned mine off, but they hit me with the butt of the gun anyway. Later I was told that it was immigration officers. But my documents are in order, I don’t understand why they hit me.”

The rector noted that the foreign students in Russia arrive thanks to inter-governmental agreements, including many children of diplomats. “Of course, they wrote a complaint about the illegal actions of the immigration service. We have asked the prosecutor’s office to investigate,” Sviridov said.

Last Friday, students from OSIM protested in the street, carrying signs that said “We are against lawlessness in the immigration service,” and “We came to study.” The cost for a foreign student to study at a university in Russia starts at $1,800 per semester.

Federal Migration Service in Orenburg admits to carrying out an unplanned raid in the University’s dormitory. “But our agents did not break in anyway, and they were unarmed,” an official of the Migration Service said, stressing that they did find one student who was living in the dormitory building illegally during the raid.

The city of Orenburg refused to comment on the situation for this article, saying only that in the camps next to the dormitory, “there are 14-year-old girls, and the symbolic security guard doesn’t stop anyone.” The Orenburg regional prosecutor’s office has not yet received an official complaint from OSIM.

The city’s actions have been welcomed by radical nationalists. “This is the first time that the government is taking care of the population,” said the former leader of the outlawed nationalist group Movement Against Illegal Immigration Aleksandr Belov. “There was obviously something going on, there is no smoke without fire. At the end of the day, everyone knows that a dormitory with African students is a hotspot for narco-traffickers. Without preventative actions it is difficult to fight, because while you’re tracking down the criminal, he or she will have fled home.”

The Ministry of Education and Sciences stands with OSIM. Their press-office explained that OSIM has 125 registered foreign students. “They have a registration and have been given a place in the dorms in complete accordance with the law,” the press office said.

Rights works say that the situation in Orenburg is egregious. “This is unprecedented in Russia, that officials can say these kind of things about people with dark skin, without any kind of reason, saying they are all potential rapists,” said Aleksandr Verkhovskii, head of a research center focused on xenophobia in Russia. “Unfortunately, it will be hard to hold them responsible for these kinds of remarks.”

We are always talking about multiculturalism, holding tolerance programs, but in reality very little changes,” said Stefaniya Kulaeva. “This could happen in any city in Russia.”

POLAND | Armed cops seize Euro 2012 racists

Wednesday, 30 May 2012, 16:41 | Source: |

Armed SWAT police have arrested more than 40 violent soccer thugs in Poland ahead of next week's Euro 2012 tournament - including the leader of one of the most racist gangs in the country.

Tournament officials were shamed by an expose of racist thugs planning to attack black and Asian fans at the event.

Former England footballer Sol Campbell had warned fans to stay away from the championship because they "could end up coming back in a coffin."

But this morning (Tuesday) Polish police arrested 42 suspected thugs in a series of dawn raids.

The head of a racist gang linked to the Leiga Warsaw club was one of those seized during the raids in Warsaw, Elblag, Ketrzyn, and Szczecin.

Many are also suspected of being involved in drug trafficking and extortion.

Earlier this month, police arrested 35 hooligans connected to clubs from Szczecin and Gliwice suspected of involvement in "ustawki" - pre-arranged fights between rival teams' fans which have claimed several lives in Poland over the past few years.

This morning (Tuesday) Polish officials hit back at the BBC documentary claiming that the country is "cool and tolerant."

But A UEFA-backed report carried out in April this year showed there were 133 cases of football related racist abuse in Poland.

Twenty of the incidents were recorded against black players over an 18 month period.

"Racism is a deeply rooted part of football culture in Eastern Europe," said Rafal Pankowski, one of the report’s authors and head of the Never Again anti-racist organisation in Poland.

HUNGARY | Suspect detained after attacks on Holocaust Memorials

Wednesday, 30 May 2012, 13:35 | |

Extremists attacked memorial in Budapest. Via (c)

Hungarian police confirmed Tuesday, May 29, they detained the leader of a neo-Nazi group on suspicion of vandalizing Holocaust memorials across the capital Budapest.

The arrest of Béla Incze, of the 64 Counties Movement, came shortly after last week's attack on a monument remembering the many Hungarian Jews killed in World War Two by German Nazi's and Hungarians cooperating with them.

David stars and anti-Semitic captions were painted on the monument reading "This is not your country, dirty Jews," and "You will be shot there" with an arrow pointing to the nearby river. Supporters of the extremist Hungarian Arrow Cross party already shot Jews and threw them into the Danube in the 1940s.

Police also suspect Incze of vandalizing another Jewish memorial and a statue dedicated to Soviet soldiers who died while liberating Hungary at the end of World War Two.

It also came shortly after bloodied pig legs had been tied around the statue of Raoul Wallenberg, a former Swedish diplomat credited with saving the lives of up to 100,000 Hungarian Jews during World War Two, police and local officials said.

Whether Inze was also involvement in that attack wasn't immediately clear.

It comes amid international concerns over extremism in Hungary, which was a close ally of Nazi Germany when some 600,000 Hungarian Jews were killed.

This month, Israel’s ambassador to Hungary, Ilan Mor, canceled his trip to the Hungarian city of Eger, over antisemitic remarks made by a city councilor linked to the ruling Fidesz party about a Hungarian Jewish actor.

Councilor György Várkonyi reportedly said that József Székhelyi, who played in several Hungarian films, wasn't welcome to perform in Eger because he is a “filthy Jew”.

Hungary has also seen the burning of an Israeli flag during demonstrations.

Amid mounting concerns, Hungary's government tried to distance itself from antisemitism and attacks on monuments. "The cabinet condemns all extreme manifestations and provocations, whether from the political left or right," said a statement monitored by BosNewsLife.

Yet, Hungary's far-right Movement for a Better Hungary (Jobbik) party has made clear it doesn't view antisemitism as an important issue.

Jobbik Parliamentarian Gyula György Zagyva told a demonstration of sympathy for the detained Incze that “the desecration of the Jewish memorial on the Danube embankment or anywhere else can easily be described as trivial”.

The demonstration outside Budapest's Markó utca prison was attended by dozens of Jobbik supporters, Hungarian media reported.

There are still some 100,000 Hungarian Jews in Hungary, Eastern Europe's largest Jewish community outside Russia.

POLAND/UKRAINE | Euro 2012: Governments of Poland and Ukraine must act now on racism

Wednesday, 30 May 2012, 10:16 | Source: Daily Telegraph |

Polish authorities have urged Sol Campbell to visit their country after he warned ethnic minority fans: “You could end up coming back in the coffin.”

Monday night’s BBC documentary showed widespread monkey chanting at games, routine Nazi saluting, violent attacks on Asian spectators at a match in Ukraine and anti-semitic imagery in Krakow, England’s base, which is 30 miles from the site of the Auschwitz extermination camp.

These alarming pictures burst on to television screens at a time when football across Europe is beset by a rise in xenophobia and disciplinary turmoil on the pitch. The problem is not unique to the former Soviet republics, where the Nazis slaughtered local populations and recruited local sociopaths to assist with the murders.

Even in Britain, with its wide ethnic mix, police have investigated racist chanting on trains, a student was sent to jail for racially abusing Fabrice Muamba on Twitter and the former England captain, John Terry, is awaiting trial on a charge of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand. Terry denies that charge.

Also on Tuesday Swindon Town apologised to a black former player for “inappropriate” comments made about him by Paolo Di Canio, the manager, who used the fascist salute at games in Italy and has expressed admiration for Mussolini.

The Terry incident at Loftus Road was the only British racially-connected controversy to feature in Panorama, which showed police and stewards failing to intervene when fights broke out in Ukraine and black players being taunted with animal noises.

Manchester City’s Mario Balotelli raised the stakes on Tuesday by warning he would walk off the pitch if he was the victim of this dehumanising treatment ever again and the families of England’s Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have already cancelled plans to attend the European Championships 2012.

“It was a very one-sided programme,” Jacek Cichocki, Poland’s interior minister, said. “What upset me the most was that they spoke to a person unfamiliar with safety in this country [Campbell]. If they had asked an expert – say a British police officer –- then I think our reaction would have been different.”

Meanwhile the Football Association confirmed that a group of England players and staff would visit Auschwitz I and Birkenau with the Holocaust Educational Trust. Other members of the squad will visit Schindler’s Factory in Krakow.

The FA chairman, David Bernstein, said: “There are so many lessons to be learnt and understood, and we believe football can play its part in encouraging society to speak out against intolerance in all its forms.”

As the Panorama research appeared to validate the concerns of non-white players and fans there was particular bemusement at the resurgence of Nazi thuggery in countries where millions were butchered by its original authors in the Second World War.

Much of the antagonism was local or tribal in nature between sworn rivals in the domestic leagues – especially in Krakow, where Wisla and Cracovia maintain a fierce mutual loathing. Uefa will hope this parochial hatred will be submerged by the presence of an international audience and that the ultras will be deterred by high ticket prices.

But the potential for targeted attacks away from the grounds is extremely high. As new light is cast in racism in the host countries it appears more and more organised and ideological. Fifa’s decision to award the 2018 World Cup to Russia aroused similar concerns.

Many in the East feel unfairly judged by western observers. Certainly the worst recent example of racism endured by England’s black players was at the Bernabeu in Madrid when the team played Spain in a friendly in 2004. The monkey chanting came not from dozens but hundreds of local spectators.

The FA says 5,000 England fans will travel to Ukraine through official channels and are unsure how many will buy tickets by other means.

Travel agents report taking calls from England supporters desperate to cancel their trips and secure refunds.

Racism is not the only explanation. The high cost and low availability of hotel accommodation and the vast distances between venues have enhanced the appeal of a soft chair at home and HD TV.

Uefa and Fifa are disinclined to abandon vast tracts of eastern Europe to neo-Nazi minorities.

Proselytising rhetoric, which conceals an urge to open fresh markets, is at the forefront whenever governing bodies justify their urge to explore new frontiers.

In Monday night’s broadcast Uefa reiterated that referees have the power to take teams off the field if significant racial abuse is heard from the crowd.

Few would bet against a match official finding sufficient grounds to justify an abandonment next month, though only the bravest would take that step.

Another backdrop is the history of powder-puff fines for racism levied by institutions based beside Swiss lakes.

Because xenophobia has never been properly tackled at a pan-European level (except through sloganeering) football is suddenly faced with having to escalate its response dramatically at a three-week tournament.

The pity is that many fans are already marking Euro 2012 down as “one to miss” and assigning it to a kind of mental dustbin.

Only two bodies can save its reputation, by enforcing the rule of law and breaking up these gangs: the Polish and Ukrainian governments.

GREECE | Golden Dawn stages march

Wednesday, 30 May 2012, 10:03 | Source: |

Holding torches and chanting "Foreigners out of Greece!", some 2,000 supporters of the extreme-right Golden Dawn party marched through central Athens yesterday ahead of elections in the financially struggling country.

The heavily policed rally ended peacefully.

Greece headed into a new month of political uncertainty after power-sharing talks collapsed earlier May, triggering new elections that could determine whether the country retains its tenuous position in Europe's currency.

Golden Dawn, prominent members of which have expressed admiration for Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, won nearly 7 percent of the vote in May 6 elections and 21 seats in the 300-member parliament.

RUSSIA | Blood & Honour banned in Russia

Wednesday, 30 May 2012, 09:57 | Source: Russian Legal Information Agency |

© RIA Novosti, Vadim Zhernov

The Supreme Court prohibited the activity of international Neo-Nazi organization Blood & Honor in Russia having found it extremist, the official spokesperson for the Russian Prosecutor General's Office said on Wednesday.

The organization's ideology is rooted in racial, ethnic, national, religious and social animosity and hatred, Marina Gridneva said.

Gridneva said that its leaders and members also seek to change Russia's constitutional system by force.

Some of the organization's active members in Russia have already been brought to criminal justice for committing serious extremist crimes as well as acts of terrorism.

The ruling that the organization is extremist substantially expands the scope of law enforcement authorities, Gridneva said.

Blood & Honor was established in 1987 and promotes Neo-Nazism. The organization has branches in a number of countries including the United Kingdom, Belgium, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine.

ITALY | Italian town’s official resigns over Holocaust joke

Wednesday, 30 May 2012, 09:52 | Source: JTA |

A crude joke about the Holocaust has cost a public health official in the town of Pavia his job, according to Italian media reports.

Giuseppe Imbalzano, 59, submitted his resignation Monday after a meeting with Pavia’s public health service director, according to reports.

At a meeting last week with local and regional officials, Imbalzano reportedly told a joke that asked the difference between Jews and cakes. The punch line stated, “When you put cakes in the oven they don’t scream.”

Imbalzano told the newspaper Il Giorno that he had not meant any harm.

“It was a silly joke that didn’t have any offensive spirit,” he said. “I never would have imagined that such nonsense would have stirred up such a storm.”

Imbalzano said others at the meeting smiled at the joke.

FRANCE | Lise London: Political activist and veteran of the Spanish Civil War and the French Resistance

Wednesday, 30 May 2012, 00:09 | Source: The Independent |

When the journalist Jesús Rodríguez, writing for El País, did one of Lise London's last interviews, in December, he asked whether her lifelong political struggle – her fight for the Republic during the Spanish Civil War, her participation in the French Resistance during the Second World War, her hardship and husband's Stalinist show trial in Czechoslovakia, followed by years of campaigning – had been worth it. To which, even at 91, her answer was resounding: "Yes – we were fighting for the freedom of Europe."

That answer is perhaps more surprising than one might think because the personal price exacted on London – born Elisabeth Ricol in France in 1916 to Spanish parents – was painfully high. In wartime France, she was arrested, tortured and sent to a concentration camp, and in 1930s Spain and 1950s Eastern Europe too, she and her husband found their lives almost constantly in danger. Indeed, according to the Spanish International Brigades Association, London was the last surviving female member of 35,000 or so Brigadistas who came from all over the world to fight on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War.

Her childhood had been tough: her parents, agricultural workers from Aragon in Spain, had moved to eastern France looking for employment in the mines there. London's father was a long-standing Communist Party member. By the time Lise joined at 15, she had already started her first job, selling ice creams, before working in a factory and becoming the secretary of the Lyon branch of the Communist party.

Her natural passion for political struggle did not go unnoticed and she was taken by the Party to Moscow in 1934, where she worked in the Comintern's offices. There she met her husband, Artur, a Czech Communist whose laidback character contrasted radically with London's fiery personality – and who fell for Lise at first sight. "I saw a young man, tall and good-looking, standing in the middle of the room, as if he were petrified," Lise recalled. "He started to stare at me so hard, he had no idea that the tea he was holding was dribbling all the way down his wrist."

When war broke out in Spain in July 1936, she and her husband were based in Paris, and they helped co-ordinate the first International Brigade volunteers as they headed through France. She then trekked across the Pyrenees in October 1936 in the last convoy of Brigades before the French police closed the frontier as part of their infamous "non-intervention" policy, and she took part in the defence of Madrid. She then remained active in the Brigades in Spain until July 1938, when she gave birth to their first child, Françoise, back in Paris.

Following the Republic's defeat, Artur joined Lise in Paris, where they formed part of the French Resistance during the Second World War. Lise became an officer in charge of a snipers unit, but was arrested in 1942 for leading a protest against the Nazi occupiers, mostly by women, in the Rue Daguerre markets. She was condemned to death by the Vichy state for taking part (the only person to receive this sentence), and the fact that she was heavily pregnant with her second child, Michel, was all that saved London from execution.

After giving birth in prison, and having her child taken away from her, London was handed over to the Gestapo in April 1943, and spent the rest of the war in Ravensbruck concentration camp. She quickly –unsurprisingly, given her past – became involved in resistance to the Gestapo, before taking part in the terrible forced "death marches" of prisoners as the Allies closed in.

Just as it seemed as if the worst was behind the Londons, after the liberation of Europe by the Allies in 1945, Artur received instructions from the Czech Communist Party to return to his homeland for a government post. Following a spell as deputy minister of foreign affairs, in 1951 he was accused of spying and treason at the notorious Slansky show trial.

Lise herself had to hold a family together in the most appalling circumstances. Thrown out of the party and forced to work in back-breaking factory jobs, she had no idea from one day to the next whether her husband – held in solitary confinement for 27 months, tortured, frequently deprived of food and subject to brainwashing techniques – would be summarily executed.

London was finally freed and "rehabilitated" in 1956, following Stalin's death, and the couple left for France, where Artur wrote The Trial, based on notes Lise had smuggled out of jail, about his terrible experiences. In 1970 it was made into a film by Costa-Gavras, starring Simone Signoret as Lise and Yves Montand – after losing 15 kilos –as the half-starved Artur.

Far from opting out of politics, Lise London remained loyal to the French Communist Party and continued to work hard for left-leaning, progressive causes. She wrote her memoirs during this time, La Mégère de la Rue Daguerre ("The Shrew of the Rue Daguerre", 1995) and Le Printemps des Camarades ("The Comrades' Spring", 1996) and after Artur died in 1986 she regularly appeared at congresses and wrote articles seeking to inspire the next generation of left-wing activists.

According to the French newspaper L'Humanité she would repeatedly tell her youngest listeners to "keep your eyes open, don't stick to dogma, fight injustice and don't let [your] communist ideals be twisted. Be yourself". It was a philosophy she followed for the best part of a century.

Elisabeth Ricol, resistance fighter: born Montceau-les-Mines, France 1916; married 1933 Auguste Delaune (marriage dissolved; died 1943), secondly Artur London (died 1986; two sons, one daughter); died Paris 31 March 2012.

GERMANY | Two suspects released in German neo-Nazi murders

Tuesday, 29 May 2012, 20:43 | Source: AFP |

Germany’s federal prosecutor said Tuesday it had released two suspects arrested in connection with a string of immigrant murders blamed on a neo-Nazi gang.

It marked the second time in less than a week that suspects have been freed in the case of the murders of 10 people, mainly shopkeepers of Turkish origin, between 2000 and 2007.

The federal prosecutor’s office, based in Karlsruhe in southwestern Germany, said in a statement that it had freed two men, identified as Carsten S. and Matthias D..

The federal prosecutor said Carsten S. was still strongly suspected, together with another man, of having obtained the weapon used in nine of the killings but was unlikely to flee and had significantly helped the murder investigation.

He had also shunned contact with the far-right since at least 2001, it said.

For Matthias D., who was suspected of having supported the neo-Nazi gang on two counts, the suspicions did not justify his continued detention, it added.

The move follows the freeing on Friday of another suspect, Holger G., with the federal court of justice saying that the case against him was insufficient to justify him remaining in custody.

The suspects were arrested after it emerged in November that a neo-Nazi cell of three calling itself the National Socialist Underground was presumed to be behind the unsolved murders.

The case blew open when two of the members were found dead in an apparent suicide pact and the other, a woman identified as Beate Zschaepe, turned herself in.

Graeme Atkinson adds:

Carsten S is Carsten Schultze

Holger G. is Holger Gerlach

FRANCE | France's champion of the left sends a challenge to Marine Le Pen

Monday, 28 May 2012, 00:37 | Source: Guardian |

In a contest that has been billed as Le Duel, Jean-Luc Mélenchon has chosen to take on the Front National leader on her own ground in an area of high unemployment

The 12-year-old boy with the razored flat-top haircut and even sharper wit hardly drew breath when asked what he wanted to do when he grew up. "Be unemployed," he said, with all the wannabe teenage attitude he could muster. He hesitated a fraction of second before adding: "Only joking."

They imbibe this kind of black humour with their mother's milk in Libercourt, a town in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais, the gritty deindustrialised region of northern France. For this boy's parents, uncles, aunts and neighbours, and those of his school friends, however, it is not funny. In an area struck by the double whammy of high unemployment and an unusually high early death rate there is little to laugh about.

Libercourt is part of a constituency that has become the stage for a monumental battle between France's far right and far left. It is here that the far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Mélenchon has chosen to stand, provoking what the press has nicknamed "Le Duel" with the Front National president Marine Le Pen, his main rival. In the first round of the presidential election in April, he scored lower than the polls predicted with 11.1% of the national vote, against 17.9% for Le Pen.

As the leader of a relatively new party, he could have chosen to seek election as an MP to the Assemblée Nationale in one of the areas where his party scored highly in the first round of the presidential election, including regions in central France, the Dordogne or Provence. Instead he has chosen to risk a direct confrontation with the woman he has described as a "beast spitting hatred", a "bat", a "dark presence" and "half-demented" (which he insisted wasn't such an insult as it "at least left the other half").

The Nord-Pas-de-Calais has been hard hit over many decades by the closure of its mines and other industries and the loss of up to 200,000 jobs. Le Pen, whose "social programme" has played well with the out-of-work and disaffected in the region, picked up her best scores here during the first round of the election.

However, the opinion polls are suggesting Mélenchon might just pull it off this time. An Ifop survey found Mélenchon trailing Le Pen in the first round of the general vote by 29% to 34%, but suggested that by picking up those who voted for the Parti Socialiste candidate in the second round he would win with a comfortable majority.

Both have appropriated the legacy of working-class suffering highlighted in Emile Zola's Germinal, the grim 1880s novel set in France's northern minefields that portrayed the disparity between the rich and poor, workers and bosses, unrelenting misery and suffering versus privilege and exploitation, with all its tragic consequences. Mélenchon blames what he sees as pernicious free-market capitalism and bankers; Le Pen points the finger at immigrants and Europe.

In Libercourt, home to around 9,000 people, a large majority with immigrant roots, Mélenchon was welcomed like a conquering hero last Thursday. As he strode into a housing estate, they came out to welcome him, to chant "Mélenchon, Mélenchon", to thrust their babies in his face, toot their car horns and invite him in for coffee.

Mélenchon walked up a hill. They followed, lugging pushchairs, trailing children, even dragging a wheelchair up the grassy mound. Locals helpfully told journalists that it was not a hill, but the waste heap from the local mine down which many of their fathers and grandfathers had toiled. They explained the history of Libercourt, the waves of immigrants – from Poland in the 1920s and 1930s, from Italy in the postwar period and from Morocco and Algeria in the 1950s and 1960s – who came to work in the mines.

Today, 23% of Libercourt's inhabitants are unemployed; in nearby Hénin-Beaumont, the main town in the constituency, the level is 15.8%, both well above the national average of 9.7%. Regional health officials say the level of premature death in the population is 65% higher than the national average, and the number of cancers linked to alcohol and smoking is 81% higher. Cardiovascular disease, linked to poor diet and lifestyle, is 50% higher.

The local Parti Socialiste of recently elected president François Hollande, the natural recourse for the people of Libercourt, has been mired in allegations of corruption over misuse of public funds, leaving it discredited and giving Mélenchon and his Front de Gauche party, including the Communist Party, a chance to scoop up leftwing votes.

As Mélenchon continued his walkabout in Libercourt, Aïssa Khélifa, a 45-year-old self-employed businessman, nudged his way to the front of the surrounding crowd to sum up the problem and the anger. "It's just about work," he said. "That's the problem. No work. They said to us if you want to integrate you have to get educated and work. So we got educated; we have some of the most qualified people you will meet around here. We got diplomas, but didn't get any work. It's a very big frustration, especially among the youngsters."

Abdel Belhathat, 22, an accountancy student, said: "Marine Le Pen is too divisive. People feel rejected. Ten years ago people were arguing about immigration and are still arguing. My parents have been in France for 25 years, they have worked, they have paid their taxes, they have papers to stay, but they cannot vote. That's not right."

Mélenchon, in pointed shoes, jeans, red tie and black jacket with a red carnation in the breast pocket, nodded. He was at home here. "Shouldn't people feel at home wherever they are?" he asked rhetorically as the crowd pressed in on him. "How many generations are we going to piss off with this question of immigration and where you were born?"

He was preaching to the converted. Salim Bouaoune, 36, and his wife Karima, 33, who have three children, are typical of the ethnic mix in Libercourt. Salim's family is from Algeria and Karima's from Poland and Algeria.

"We are now two, three generations in France and still feel a bit like outsiders. Even here with such a large number of people with immigrant backgrounds the Front National scored well. We don't understand why," said Salim.

Serge Delbassé, 61, retired, says that he, like most in Libercourt, comes from a mining family: "Our parents worked in the mines, and it was a hard life. Now there is no work here any more. It's hard for everyone, but especially the youngsters who have no hope."

Outside the railway station in Hénin-Beaumont, election posters featuring Le Pen's photograph have been defaced by Hitleresque toothbrush moustaches. Public opinion of the two candidates is, however, divided. Pierre, 52, who does not want to give his full name, says he will vote Le Pen. "I'm not racist. I've worked all my life with Algerians, my neighbours are from there, but even so..."

He launches into a discourse which concludes that Romanians, Gypsies, north Africans and "other foreigners" are milking the system, taking jobs, and are to blame for the woes of the local population, the "Français de souche" (pure French). "Marine Le Pen is the only one who talks honestly about this problem," he said.

Back in Libercourt, Aïssa Khélifa and his neighbours say they will vote Mélenchon, but many confess they do not have much faith in politicians of any colour.

"I've lived here all of my life and as far as I know no politician has come to Libercourt before," he says. "Even the local councillors don't come here. Marine Le Pen certainly hasn't. I'm not sure how much he can do, but I think Jean-Luc Mélenchon is our best hope."

RUSSIA | Dozens held after Russian Orthodox church activists attack gay rights rallies

Sunday, 27 May 2012, 21:07 | Source: Guardian |

A Russian Orthodox church activist attacks a gay rights protester during an unauthorised rally in central Moscow. Photograph: Anton Tushin/AFP/Getty Images

Dozens of people were detained in Moscow on Sunday after Russian Orthodox church activists broke up two gay rights protests, throwing water and shouting prayers at demonstrators.

Some Orthodox activists attacked the protesters, throwing punches, grabbing their rainbow flags and trampling on them in front of television cameras.

Skirmishes occurred at the protests outside the city hall and parliament. Neither rally was sanctioned by Moscow authorities.

Almost all of the 30 gay rights protesters were detained, and many fewer of 50 or so Orthodox activists involved.

Nikolai Alexeyev, the leader of the gay rights protests, said he was detained for talking to journalists. "I am arrested at Moscow Pride City Hall protest," he tweeted while in police custody. "I have no words."

Police told the state-run news agency Itar-Tass that about 40 people had been detained at the protests.

"All of our rights are being trampled on here in Russia," said Igor Yasin, another demonstrator. "Your rights aren't safe and you're not physically safe."

Earlier this year Russian MPs introduced a bill to that would impose fines for "spreading gay propaganda" among minors.

While the proposed law ostensibly targets actions such as the distribution of gay pornography to children, critics say it could be used to ban gay rights demonstrations.

Such a law is in force in President Vladimir Putin's home city St Petersburg where the US singer Madonna has said she will use her Russia tour this summer to speak out against the lawwhat she called a "ridiculous atrocity".

Homosexuality was decriminalised in Russia in 1993, but anti-gay prejudice runs deep and the gay community remains largely underground.

The Russian Orthodox church, whose influence has grown since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, speaks out against homosexuality. Gay rights rallies have often ended in clashes with militant anti-gay activists and arrests.

USA | Southern Poverty Law Center Intelligence Report Profiles 30 Leaders of the Rising Radical Right

Friday, 25 May 2012, 16:47 | Source: SPLC |

Extremists leading a powerful resurgence of the American radical right are pushing baseless conspiracy theories and demonizing propaganda about minority groups into the mainstream, according to the latest issue of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report, released today.

Thirty key leaders of the radical right, both longtime agitators and newcomers, are profiled in the report. These extremists - including anti-government activists, racist neo-Nazis and propagandists who promote falsehoods about Muslims and the LGBT community - are making headway by exploiting anger over the nation's ailing economy, non-white immigration and the shrinking white majority.

"Today's radical right leaders are having remarkable success in pushing fringe ideas - typically based on sheer fantasy or just plain racism - into the political mainstream," said Mark Potok, senior fellow at the SPLC and editor of the new report. "Their divisive propaganda, which is being embraced by opportunistic politicians and pundits and exploited for partisan gain, is doing real damage to our country."

Examples include the unending controversy over the president's birth certificate, the claim that Muslims are secretly trying to install Islamic religious law in U.S. courts, and the theory that Agenda 21, a nonbinding U.N. plan for environmental sustainability, is part of a "New World Order" plot for global control.

The report, contained in the Summer 2012 issue of the SPLC's quarterly investigative journal Intelligence Report, can be read at .

The Intelligence Report also examines growing evidence of criminality among members of the Republic for the united States of America. The organization is the nation's largest group of anti-government "sovereign citizens" - people who believe they're exempt from most laws and taxes.

Also in the Summer 2012 issue of the Intelligence Report:

"The Scoop on Schoep" features an interview with Joanna Schoep, the soon-to-be ex-wife of one of America's leading neo-Nazis, Jeff Schoep. Though the leader of the National Socialist Movement espouses a violently racist ideology, she says he accepted her non-white ancestry and that of her teenage daughter.

"Shading the Truth" examines how the National Organization for Marriage, a mainstream opponent of same-sex marriage, sometimes promotes extremist propaganda.

The 30 radical-right leaders profiled in this issue are: Virginia Abernethy, Hendersonville, Tenn.; Chuck Baldwin, Kila, Mont.; David Barton, Aledo, Texas; Don Black, West Palm Beach, Fla.; Michael Boldin, Los Angeles; Michael Brown, Concord, N.C.; Kevin DeAnna, Arlington, Va.; Tom DeWeese, Marshall, Va.; David Duke, Mandeville, La.; Lou Engle, Kansas City, Mo.; Joseph Farah, Centreville, Va.; Bryan Fischer, Tupelo, Miss.; Frank Gaffney, Leesburg, Va.; Pamela Geller, New York City; Morris Gulett, Mansfield, La.; Michael Hill, Killen, Ala.; Alex Jones, Austin, Texas; Cliff Kincaid, Owings, Md.; Randal Krager, Pisgah, Iowa; Alex Linder, Kirksville, Md.; Kevin MacDonald, Laguna Hills, Calif.; Jason Mitchell, Wilmington, N.C.; Stewart Rhodes, Big Arm, Mont.; Kyle Rogers, Summerville, S.C.; Malik Zulu Shabazz, Washington, D.C.; Jared Taylor, Oakton, Va.; Timothy Turner, Ozark, Ala.; Michael Vanderboegh, Pinson, Ala.; John Weaver, Fitzgerald, Ga.; and David Yerushalmi, Brooklyn, N.Y.

The law enforcement edition of this Intelligence Report, which is being distributed free to about 55,000 officers, also contains a special training video designed to help officers deal with the threat of racist skinheads, some of the most violent extremists in the country today.

The Southern Poverty Law Center is a nonprofit organization that combats hate, intolerance and discrimination through education, litigation and advocacy. The Intelligence Report tracks the activities of hate groups and monitors militia and other extremist, antigovernment activity.

For more information, visit

POLAND/UKRAINE | Racist attacks top concern for Euro 2012

Friday, 25 May 2012, 16:21 | Source: FoxSports |

The family of a second England soccer star has decided not to travel to the European Championship finals because of fears of racial abuse in host countries Ukraine and Poland.

Relatives of young Arsenal star Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have decided to follow Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice about the threat of racism at the tournament later this summer, The (London) Times reported.

The news comes after the brother of fellow Arsenal player Theo Walcott revealed that he and his father would be staying at home next month because of potential "racist attacks" and "confrontations."

England manager Roy Hodgson has already warned that supporters run the risk of "being beaten up" at the tournament in Eastern Europe and could be "subjected to a lot of abuse" if they are not white.

Hodgson said he was aware of a Sky Sports News report that focused on fans of Ukraine club Shakhtar Donetsk with neo-Nazi links who were said to be ready to target traveling England fans.

"There's no doubt that the issue of racism, especially the Sky report into the hooliganism and violence in Ukraine, is a concern for us all," Hodgson said Wednesday.

England defender Joleon Lescott said it was a shame that players felt their relatives could not come.

"With my family, it's not the same as with Theo's and Alex's families -- that they don't feel they can travel," he said. "We [my family] just haven't spoken about them coming and it would have been the same if I had been in South Africa [at the 2010 World Cup]. It's a shame for some members of the squad that their families feel they can't go."

The FCO issued a warning to supporters last week which said, "Although the vast majority of visitors experience no difficulties, foreign nationals have been the victims of violent crime in Kiev and other major cities. In some cases, attacks have been racially motivated. Travelers of Asian or Afro-Caribbean descent and individuals belonging to religious minorities should take extra care."

The number of England fans heading east was expected to be substantially lower than at recent international tournaments, where the Three Lions often have been among the best-represented nations.

Inflated hotel prices and general apathy at the prospects of the team also were cited as factors for the anticipated poor turnout.

GERMANY | Ex-minister denies influencing far-right inquiry

Friday, 25 May 2012, 16:17 | Source: Deutsche Welle |

Former Bavarian interior minister, Günther Beckstein, has strongly denied trying to influence a police investigation into a series of murders committed by the far-right NSU group.

At the end of January 2012, the German parliament set up a committee to look into why the police and domestic intelligence services failed to uncover a neo-Nazi group which, it was later discovered, was responsible for the murder of nine foreigners and a German policewoman between 2000 and 2007.

The inquiry found after questioning countless witnesses that the security authorities had failed across the board. A toxic mixture of bureaucratic turf wars and incompetence allowed the neo-Nazi National Socialist Underground (NSU) to go undetected for years.

Not until November of last year did the authorities discover the group and its links to the series of murders.

One question, in particular, was a big headache from the very beginning for the members of the parliamentary inquiry: Why was an extremist right-wing involvement in the attacks more or less brushed aside, although there were early indications that this was the case?

In Bavaria, where five of the ten murders took place, one expert in the murder investigation considered a neo-Nazi motive possible. However, the state's interior minister at the time, Günther Beckstein, warned against voicing these suspicions publicly to avoid unrest within the Turkish community.

NSU terrorists The trio responsible for the murder of nine foreigners and a German policewoman between 2000 and 2007

Petra Pau, a member of the NSU inquiry and the Left Party, was convinced that political influence could have been exercised on the investigation in 2006 due to the World Cup soccer championships, which Germany hosted that summer. The motto of this classic sports event was "The world visiting with friends." Pau speculates that the series of mysterious murders of people with foreign roots -possibly with neo-Nazis behind them - was something that did not fit in with the picture.

The Berlin parliamentarians recalled a discussion in early 2006 about alleged "no go areas" in eastern Germany. The US State Department warned American tourists - especially those with a dark skin color - not to travel through that part of Germany. A former government spokesman, Uwe-Karsten Heye issued a similar warning before the start of the World Cup in his function as chairman of the anti-racism group "Stand up for a tolerant Germany". Heye's warning unleashed a controversial debate about the extent of xenophobia in eastern Germany at the time.

The World Cup opening match was played at the Bavarian capital Munich in the south of the country. Bavaria's then Premier Beckstein, who this Thurday will have to answer to the NSU inquiry, has dismiss the notion that there had been any political influence on the police investigations at the time. In newspaper interviews, he said that neither he nor the Bavarian police had "anything to hide."

Wolfgang Schäuble

Schäuble was interior minister when the first murders took place

The 68-year old stressed that those murders were the most distressing during his time in office. The first crime scene was in fact less than a kilometer from his home in Nuremberg. Beckstein says that he himself often went to the flower shop of the victim of the first murder.

The NSU inquiry wants to find out whether - as Beckstein claims - there really were no clues pointing towards a right-wing extremist background to the crimes. Aside from looking at possible mistakes the police made, they also have to investigate possible political responsibility. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble might therefore be the next who will have to answer to the panel. In 2006 he was interior minister and in this position he regularly attended meetings between his regional colleagues. Some members of the NSU inquiry believe that there was indeed a failed attempt to hand the investigation over to the national police authorities. The political responsibility for the national police at the time was held by Wolfgang Schäuble.

ISRAEL | Tel Aviv race riot flags bitter immigration dispute

Friday, 25 May 2012, 16:13 | Source: Express Tribune/IHT |

Violent race riots that shook south Tel Aviv overnight sparked shock in Israel on Thursday, but also prompted top-level calls for the immediate arrest and expulsion of tens of thousands of African migrants.

The latest unrest to sweep the impoverished neighbourhoods around Tel Aviv’s central bus station erupted when a demonstration of around 1,000 people who were protesting against the rising number of Africans moving into the area, turned violent.

“Shock, violence and hatred of foreigners in Tel Aviv” was the headline in the Maariv daily, which described scenes of chaos as demonstrators went on the rampage with sticks and stones, attacking African-run shops and smashing up a car driven by two African men.

“Blacks out!” shouted demonstrators in the crowd, while others yelled: “Send the Sudanese back to Sudan,” several news reports said, as other protesters derided the “bleeding-heart leftists” working to help them.

Most reports said the rally turned nasty after the crowd was whipped up by several racist speeches by right-wing MPs, several of them from the ruling Likud party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“The infiltrators are a cancer in our body,” Likud MP Miri Regev told the crowd, as fellow MP Danny Danon shouted: “The infiltrators must be expelled from Israel! Expulsion now!”

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said 20 people had been arrested on suspicion of vandalising shops and attacking cars driven by Africans, but added that there were no reports of anyone being injured.

The police have also extended the remand of seven Israeli minors accused of attacking African immigrants earlier this week, he said.

Interior ministry statistics show there are more than 60,000 African immigrants living illegally in Israel. Some are refugees fleeing persecution back home, while others are economic migrants.

The issue of illegal immigration from Africa has thrown into relief sharp divisions within Israel, with many top officials, including Netanyahu, warning that the growing number of “infiltrators” poses a major threat to the security and identity of the Jewish state.

There was no official response to the violence until late on Thursday when Netanyahu issued a statement promising to resolve “the problem of the infiltrators” by sending them back to their home countries in a process which he said would start “soon.”

“I want to make clear that there is no place for the statements nor the actions which we saw last night,” he said.

“I am saying this both to public figures as well as to residents of south Tel Aviv, whose pain I understand. We will resolve the problem and we will do it responsibly.”

President Shimon Peres said on Thursday night that “hating foreigners is against the foundations of Judaism.”

“I’m well aware of the difficulties encountered by south Tel Aviv residents and the harsh reality they have to deal with, but violence is not the solution to the problem,” he said in a statement released by his office.

And in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, hundreds took to the streets in anti-racism rallies.

Some 200 people carrying signs saying: “Racism is a cancer in the body of the Israeli nation,”:”Enough to incitement” and “I am also a refugee” marched a short distance to the premier’s residence.

In Tel Aviv, a similar number of men and women strode through the city’s streets, starting near the central bus station.

The demonstrators had signs stating “we are all refugees” and “united against racism,” and chanted slogans against Netanyahu and other right-wing lawmakers.

But Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who has frequently tried to expel non-Jewish immigrants sparking accusations of racism, demanded that all Africans living illegally in Israel be put “behind bars.”

“We must put all these infiltrators behind bars in detention and holding centres, then send them home because they come and take work from Israelis,” he told army radio.

Unless the government took urgent action, there would “soon be half a million to a million, and we cannot lose our country to this,” he said.

Wednesday night’s violence made headlines in all the Israeli media, with army radio denouncing it as a “pogrom.”

Residents of south Tel Aviv accuse the immigrants of bringing a wave of theft and violent sex crimes to the area, and have expressed fury over what they see as government inaction.

In a move sure to further raise tensions, a Tel Aviv court on Thursday indicted two African migrants from Sudan and Eritrea on suspicion of raping a woman near the central bus station last week.

And last week, an Israeli was charged with arson after hurling Molotov cocktails at the homes of African migrants in a move reportedly connected to the arrest of three Eritreans in connection with another rape involving a 15-year-old Israeli girl.

In a bid to halt the influx, Israel has been building a 250-kilometre (155-mile) fence along the Egyptian border. It has also built a vast detention centre near the border to house anyone caught crossing the frontier.

SWITZERLAND | Priest faces probe for racist website

Friday, 25 May 2012, 16:08 | |

A Reformist priest from a tiny Bernese village is under investigation by church leaders after it emerged that she helped run a fanatical anti-Islamic website.

The Council of Reformist Churches for Bern, Solothurn and Jura has criticised the priest, and declared her activities on website ‘Politically Incorrect’ to be “incompatible” with her position as a priest due to the “Islam-baiting” that takes place on it, the newspaper Tages Anzeiger reports.

The priest has been involved for a long time with the Politically Incorrect forum, a website frequented mainly by Germans, and has been operating clandestinely, the newspaper reported.

It has been alleged that the priest has been funding the website herself, the Tages Anzeiger reported. The prosecutor also believes it possible that she has been contributing some of the racist content, albeit under pseudonyms.

The Council had already warned the priest previously for her participation at extreme-right Islamophobic events in Germany. Having reviewed the content of the website, the Council described the articles posted there as “inflammatory and derogatory”.

The priest is now accused of breaching anti-racism laws and of failing to prevent criminal acts. Despite the accusations, she has still been permitted by her immediate superiors to continue to preach in the village.

An estimated 33 percent of the Swiss population are thought to be Reformist, although numbers much lower than this actually attend service regularly.

EUROPE | Why the eurozone crisis doesn't spell a return to the well of nazism

Wednesday, 23 May 2012, 15:02 | Source: The Guardian |

By Matthew Goodwin

Golden Dawn may be on the rise in Greece, but there are good reasons to believe we're not seeing a repeat of interwar fascism

To match story GREECE/GREXIT

A member of Greece's extreme right Golden Dawn party holds a flag bearing their party's logo during an election campaign rally in Athens. Photograph: Yannis Behrakis/Reuters

"History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce", said Marx. And so, amid the crisis in Greece, there emerges an openly neo-Nazi party that polls sufficient support to enter parliament, before denying that gas chambers ever existedand ejecting journalists from its press conference for showing its leader insufficient respect.

But putting Greece to one side, there is a broader school of thought that views recent political developments in Europe as anything but a farce. Yesterday the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, attracted attention after suggesting that the combination of economic insecurity and political paralysis that has accompanied the eurozone crisis is providing "an ideal recipe for an increase in extremism and xenophobia". Like others, Clegg has linked the post-2008 global financial and eurozone crises with rising public support for extremists.

The argument goes something like this: the withdrawal of Greece from the euro may spark a "domino effect", pushing Italy and Spain toward a similar exit and – as resources become increasingly scarce – cultivate a fertile breeding ground for charismatic extremists who claim mainstream politicians are to blame for the crisis, and that immigrant and minority groups are taking all of the jobs and social housing. Before too long – some fear – the European political landscape will be littered with neo-Nazi and anti-system parties. Seemingly forgetting the past 60 years, Europe will slide back into the well of nazism and xenophobia.

But there are three reasons why this argument needs modifying.

The first is that extremist parties (particularly on the right) actually commenced their electoral ascent well before the financial and eurozone crises. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, anti-immigrant and anti-establishment parties – such as the Austrian Freedom party or the Flemish Block – were rallying votes during periods of economic stability and growth, not recession.

Furthermore their supporters were not those on the very bottom step of economic ladder. Rather than the unemployed, they tended to be blue-collar workers and members of the lower middle-classes who were in employment, but who felt threatened by globalisation and the onset of mass immigration. The tendency to ignore this longer-term trend was perhaps best evident in coverage of the French presidential elections, much of which directly linked support for Marine Le Pen to the eurozone crisis. The reality, however, was that her father had been winning impressive levels of support since the mid-1980s, and achieved his strongest performance in 2002, a period that economically was like a distant planet compared to where we are today.

The second reason concerns the types of extremist parties that have prospered in Europe. The entrance of Golden Dawn into the national parliament in Greece has sparked widespread concern about the return of nazism. But, again, the reality is rather different. As academic studies have repeatedly shown, the types of extremist parties that prosper in Europe are not those that cling to the central features of neo-nazism, such as biological racism, antisemitism and hostility toward liberal democracy.

Rather, it has been parties that acknowledge that these ideas are socially unacceptable to the mainstream majority, and so have achieved success only by removing themselves from the legacy of interwar Europe. The rise of Golden Dawn was a by-product of desperate protest, not an ideological endorsement of nazism. This is an important distinction, as the volatile nature of its support means a protest party is distinctly unlikely to sustain a major challenge to the dominant parties.

And when we look to the countries that some fear may suffer the same fate as Greece – Italy and Spain – there is no neo-Nazi movement waiting in the wings. The extreme rightwing Platform for Catalonia in Spain has enjoyed limited local success, but this is not the National Socialist party mark two. Meanwhile, in Italy former fascists such as Gianfranco Fini have only been allowed into the corridors of power because of their renunciation of Mussolini and antisemitism.

The third is rooted in the underlying drivers of support for these parties. Perhaps the most popular conventional wisdom about the rise of extremist parties is that they stem simply from our concerns over jobs and social housing. The argument is rooted in an older assumption that citizens who backed Hitler did so in order to protect their assets from communists, and more recent thinking in the study of politics that views voters as narrow, rational creatures who only vote to improve their material wellbeing (so-called "rational choice theory").

But the conventional wisdom is wrong. Yes, concerns over scarce resources matter. But concerns over national culture, identity and ways of life matter more. Across Europe, and from the 1990s onward, there is now a large body of (convincing) research that those who support extremist parties at the extremes of the spectrum are motivated foremost by their perception that the cultural unity of their community, the identity of their native group and their overall way of life is under threat from immigration and – increasingly – Islam. Large numbers of citizens felt this way before they had even heard the words "credit crunch".

The eurozone crisis may have contributed to a fertile breeding ground for these parties, but let's not kid ourselves: populist extremists were already operating amid a perfect storm, and one that is unlikely to pass. Immigration, public anxiety over the compatibility of Islam, weakening bonds between voters and mainstream parties, and historically high levels of political disengagement and distrust have created new opportunities for parties that are distancing themselves and their discourse from interwar fascism.

So how should mainstream parties respond? Perhaps the key challenge is countering these feelings of cultural (as opposed to just economic) threat. Mainstream politicians tend only to make the economic case for immigration and rising diversity, rather than underscore the cultural contribution that immigrant and minority groups make to our national life.

This is why arguments over net immigration or the allocation of jobs are unlikely to resonate over the longer term. Aside from exploring more innovative ways of addressing cultural anxieties, there are also too few voices in modern politics countering the claim by extremists that Muslims pose a specific threat to values and national cultures.

These claims are false, and are undermined by a large body of evidence that demonstrates how – contrary to the claims of far-right extremists – the vast majority of Muslims (in Britain and elsewhere) identify strongly with their respective nation state and renounce violence. Large majorities also reject practices such as honour killings and the grooming of white girls, but at present too few voices from the responsible centre are countering stories that suggest the opposite.

UKRAINE | Ukraine's Eurovision entry Gaitana 'ashamed' by racism

Wednesday, 23 May 2012, 14:02 | Source: BBC |

For an event meant to celebrate kitsch entertainment, the Eurovision Song Contest retains an almost unrivalled ability to cause controversy.

That is certainly the case in Ukraine this year, where the run-up to the event has been marred by a row over racism.

The right-wing Freedom Party attacked the ground-breaking selection of a Gaitana - who is half Congolese - to represent Ukraine.

"Millions of people who will be watching will see that Ukraine is represented by a person who does not belong to our race," said Yuri Syrotyuk, whose party is preparing to contest the parliamentary elections later this year.

"The vision of Ukraine as a country located somewhere in remote Africa will take root," he added.

He later denied accusations of racism and said that he was criticising the "lack of transparency in the national selection".

But his comments were widely condemned in Ukraine by all the mainstream political parties, and celebrities including the boxers Vitaly and Volodymyr Klitschko, and the winner of 2004's Eurovision, Ruslana.

Gaitana, who will compete in the second Eurovision semi-final on Thursday night, said that the racist statement uncovered a "wide-scale" problem in Ukraine.

"I'm so ashamed of this unpleasant incident, because Ukraine is a democratic country, where kind and hospitable people live", she says.

Gaitana's Congolese father studied in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, where he met and married her mother.

Shortly after her birth in 1979 the family moved to Congo-Brazzaville where they lived for five years. However the parents split up, and Gaitana's mother returned with her daughter to Ukraine.

While she was a child her father introduced her to the music of Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie and others.

She writes most of her own songs, which can be described as mixture of pop, soul and jazz.

She sees herself as a product of the fusion of two cultures - and she says that her friends in Congo find her music very African.

"At the same time," she says, "my Ukrainian grandmother thought of them as Ukrainian tunes. Two cultures have crossed inside me. I can write music which can be equally understood by Africans and Ukrainians."

The final of the contest is being held in Baku, in Azerbaijan, on Saturday, and 125 million people are expected to watch across Europe.

Music journalists gathering in Baku believe that she has a good chance of reaching the finals.

But she faces strong competition from Sweden, Turkey, Romania, Italy and Greece.

And her main rivals could be a Russian band - Grannies from Buranovo - most of whom are over 70.

GREECE | Five arrests following attack on migrant camp

Wednesday, 23 May 2012, 12:46 | Source: |

Five people were arrested, more than 20 detained and eight policemen injured late on Tuesday when a group of about 350 people attempted to force their way into an abandoned factory in Patra, where dozens of undocumented migrants are squatting.

Police said the crowd that had gathered outside the Peiraiki Patraiki factory consisted of Patra residents who were protesting the fatal stabbing of a local man and supporters of the neo-Nazi Chrysi Avgi.

They clashed with police, who used tear gas to repel the crowd, and set fires outside the factory. Police said that they suffered repeated attacks and were on the receiving end of rocks, flares and other missiles.

Tension in the area has risen following the murder of a 30-year-old local man. Three Afghans are suspected of carrying out the attack in an area next to the port, where hundreds of migrants gather in the hope of making it onto a ferry to Italy.

Police also reported an attack on Tuesday night on a journalist and a Chrysi Avgi MP after the pair had held a discussion on a local TV station.

Officers said that several people attacked the deputy, Michalis Arvanitis, and then set upon the journalist, Apostolos Vouldis, when he tried to deter them.

HUNGARY | Right-wing firebrand Budaházy fined HUF 200,000 for 2006 vandalism

Wednesday, 23 May 2012, 12:41 | Source: note hate |

Nazi activist and Blood&Honour fan György Budaházy has been ordered to pay a Ft 200,000 (£500) fine for damaging the Soviet memorial on Budapest's Szabadság tér, on September 18, 2006 during a nationalist riot there.

Earlier, Municipal Court judge Zsolt Csák lowered the fine from Ft 500,00 to Ft 200,000, citing the tense political situation at the time of the incident and the nearly five years that had passed and now that decision has beeen confirmed after an appeal against it by the authorities was rejected.

Budaházy and his lawyer, Jobbik MP Tamás Gaudi-Nagy, had appealed against the verdict.

SOUTH AFRICA | Eugene Terreblanche murder: South African man guilty

Wednesday, 23 May 2012, 03:43 | Source: BBC |

One of the two South African farm workers accused of murdering white supremacist leader Eugene Terreblanche in 2010 has been found guilty.

The court convicted Chris Mahlangu, but acquitted a second accused, Patrick Ndlovu, who was just 15 at the time.

There is tight security outside the court in the north-western town of Ventersdorp.

The 2010 killing highlighted South Africa's fragile race relations, 16 years after white minority rule ended.

However, the BBC's Karen Allen, who is in Ventersdorp, says fears that the killing could trigger political violence, dividing the country along racial lines, have not been realised.

She says the case has brought to the fore allegations of wage exploitation and a sexual motive, along with claims of a botched police investigation.

Scores of members of Terreblanche's Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (Afrikaner Resistance Movement - AWB) wearing military fatigues have set up camp outside court, with their trademark red, white and black, swastika-style flags planted defiantly in the ground, our correspondent says.

Not far away, supporters of the two black farm workers are singing songs from the struggle against white minority rule and the police have set up cordons to keep the two sides apart.

But there have been a few scuffles between the two groups.

Both Mahlangu, 29, and Ndlovu, 18, had denied the charges of murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances.

Judge John Horn said there was no evidence that Ndlovu had played an active role in the killing, but he was convicted of housebreaking with intent to steal.

They are due to be sentenced next month.

During the trial, a lawyer for Ndlovu, who has been named for the first time as he was a minor at the time, said he had been subject to "appalling conditions... not fit for human habitation [and] child exploitation" on the farm.

The lawyer said his client had not killed Terreblanche, but had found his body and called the police.

Much of the evidence against the teenager was dismissed because the police did not follow South Africa's child protection law when handling the case.

The prosecution said they had found Terreblanche asleep and beaten him with a steel pipe.

The judge said there was no proof that Terreblanche had raped Mahlangu - allegations raised sometime after the trial had started.

"Sodomy is such a personal intrusion, I can't believe [Chris Mahlangu] would not have raised it immediately," Judge Horn said.

After Terreblanche's death, some members of the local black community called Mahlangu a "hero" for his alleged role in the killing.

At the time, police said he had been stabbed and beaten with a wooden club. He was found with his underpants pulled down and a post-mortem report revealed he suffered 28 injuries.

His AWB organisation waged a violent campaign to resist the end of apartheid and the establishment of democratic rule in 1994.

He spent three years in jail after the 2001 attempted murder of a farm worker.

Some members of Terreblanche's Afrikaner community said his killing highlighted the violence faced by white farmers in South Africa, with some 3,000 said to have been killed since 1994.

Who was Eugene Terreblanche?

A photo taken on June 11, 2004 shows South African white supremacist Eugene Terreblanche during press conference after being released from prison in Potchefstroom.

GERMANY | German banker claims Nazi guilt has made Germany a euro zone hostage

Tuesday, 22 May 2012, 17:49 | Source: EJP |

Former German central banker Thilo Sarrazin claims that Germany has allowed itself to become the euro zone’s “hostage” as penitence for the Holocaust, in his new book Europe doesn’t need the eurowhich has provoked fresh controversy.

According to extracts from the book published in German Focus Magazine, Sarrazin theorises that German supporters of EU-back euro bonds “are driven by that very German reflex, that we can only finally atone for the Holocaust and World War II, when we have put all our interests and money into European hands”.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has up till now been a staunch opponent of euro bonds, which she claims will alleviate the necessary burden of austerity from under-fire eurozone countries such as Greece. Following the change in French president and the loss of one of her most loyal allies Nicolas Sarkozy, though, she may be forced to change her position at a informal EU summit on Wednesday in Brussels.

Sarrazin’s critics have responded to his Nazi blackmail claims by accusing him of desperate self-promotion. Speaking ahead of the book’s publication, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said:

“Either he is speaking and writing this appalling nonsense out of conviction or he is doing it with despicable calculation”.

Green party leader Juergen Trittin meanwhile described the move as “pathetic” and an attempt to “use the Holocaust to secure as much attention as possible for his euro bond thesis”.

Sarrazin was forced to resign from the board of the Bundesbank, Germany’s central bank, following the publication of his 2010 bestseller “Germany does away with itself”, in which he accused Turkish and Arab immigrants of exploiting Germany’s welfare state, refusing to integrate and lowering the average intelligence.

He had also claimed all Jews share the same genetic make-up and feelings of racial superiority. The general secretary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Stephan Kramer, stated the beleaguered former banker’s previous comments about Jews “put him firmly in the neo-Nazi camp”.

The extreme-right National Democratic Party meanwhile congratulated Sarrazin for “saying openly what most Germans think”. They disagreed, however, with his assessment of Jews, saying that “the Jew is not suddenly my friend because I am against Muslims (in Germany, and the Muslim is not my friend because I am against Israel

ITALY | Notes from Italy

Tuesday, 22 May 2012, 15:25 | Source: Hope not hate |

From Hope not Hate's Italian correspondent, Michele Zacchi in Milan

Lega Nord – family life can be dangerous

Umberto Bossi, the ailing leader of the far-right Lega Nord, is now under investigation by judges convinced that he was funneling a lot of public funds money to his sons.

According to his accusers, Bossi’s sons, Riccardo and Renzo, were trousering something like €5000/£4,000 a month; simple pocket money evidently. While Renzo, known as “The Trout”, spent part of his money on a financial studies degree in Albania (his three years course was done in less than one year and all the exams were in Albanian!), the other son Riccardo saved the money for his divorce, daddy’s Lega Nord paying for it, of course.

Renzo Bossi who, for a couple of years was a member of the Lombardy local parliament, also used his chauffeur to collect the amounts of money he needed for holidays, parties, gifts and so on. The chauffeur, obviously fed up, filmed some of these events and then was immediately sacked.

But the story seems a never-ending one. Day by day, there are new revelations that state funding for party political activity was spent on radically restructuring Umberto Bossi’s posh villa in Gemonio. Local police fines on Renzo Bossi were on the spending list as well as the gardener's wages and medical expenses. The investigation started just a few weeks ago and, maybe, the worst is yet to be revealed.

The Lega Nord is in a colossal mess, having been further battered in last weekend’s local elections but, having said that, the appeal of all political parties in Italy is low: corruption and scandals have wrecked the credibility of many political leaders and it is no coincidence that support for the anti-austerity, anti-corruption Five-Star movement is surging.

Its leader is Beppe Grillo. He is a comedian.

Mario Vattani: the so-called “black consul”

The case of Mario Vattani, Italy’s consul in the Japanese city of Osaka, first burst onto the public domain some months ago when he was shown in a YouTube video singing with a fascist rock band called “Sotto Fascia semplice” and posing as a strong and convinced fascist thug.

The “concert” happened in May 2011 last year and later, in July, he was sent to Osaka but, not long afterwards, the scandal over his extra-curricular activities exploded. Hardly a surprise: at one point in the gathering, he is heard yelling in favour of the Italian Social Republic, a regime set up with the help of Nazi Germany in the closing days of World War II by Benito Mussolini.

When he was then ordered to leave Osaka, he went to the administrative court to appeal against the disciplinary moves and won, but the highest administrative court (Consiglio di Stato) has now had the final word: he must return to Rome immediately.

Vattani, during interviews, is constantly bleating: “I have to leave Osaka with my family within 5 days. I am not a hard line fascist but I would like to remember that when I was a member of the young section of former MSI (Movimento Sociale Italiano) and my leaders were Gianfranco Fini, now leader of the Chamber of Deputies (the Italian parliament) and Gianni Alemanno, now mayor of Rome.”

The future, though, could still be worse: he could be sacked.

SERBIA; | It's not all bad news - Serb far-right SRS wiped out in parliament poll

Monday, 21 May 2012, 11:37 | Source: New Europe/Hope not hate |

New Europe Online reports…

In the shadow of the second round of the French presidential election and a historic defeat of the political mainstream in Greece, Serbian voted in general, local, provincial and presidential elections on 6 May.

The presidential elections, which caused the biggest fuss and attracted the most interest, yet being the least significant for country's functioning, brought no particular surprise.

The incumbent president and leader of the Democratic Party (DS), Boris Tadić, according to the unofficial results, narrowly won the first round with 25.4% ahead of his closest rival, the chairman of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) Tomislav Nikolić with 25.2%, the latter winning the second round with 49% of he vote.

The results for the parliamentary elections put SNS ahead of DS with 24.1% to 22.4%. The biggest winners of the elections were the Socialists of the former Serbian dictator Slobodan Milošević, whose participation in the last government ensured complete abolition for everything done in 1990s and cheap populism won them 14.5% of votes.

The isolationist, anti-EU Democratic Party of Serbia of the former prime minister Vojislav Koštunica won 7%, liberal democrats 6.6% and centre-right coalition of United Regions around 5.5%.

For the first time, the far-right Serbian Radical Party (SRS) was left below the threshold, but a new clericalist movement – Dveri – almost reached the needed 5% to enter the parliament. SRS is some 16,000 votes away from 5% mark, while Dveri remained 25,000 short with votes from Kosovo yet to be counted.

However, turnout in Kosovo was fairly low, only 32.17%, or some 35,000 votes in total according to OSCE mission, which was in charge of organising the voting. Therefore, even with votes from Kosovo, SRS and Dveri stayed below the threshold.

LITHUANIA | Outrage over honour for Lithuanian Nazi leader

Friday, 18 May 2012, 18:09 | Source: JC |

The puppet prime minister installed in Lithuania during the Nazi occupation is to be commemorated in the capital this week, and reinterred with full honours.

The remains of Juozas Ambrazevicius will be returned from the US to Vilnius for a ceremony this weekend, before being reinterred in Kaunas, in central Lithuania.

Mr Ambrazevicius became prime minister in June 1941, after the Nazi invasion, but was removed just two months later after the government was dismantled.

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s Holocaust historian Efraim Zuroff said the Lithuanian government had tried to distance themselves from the ceremony. “But we now understand the government has paid for the transportation of the remains,” he added.

The former professor of Yiddish Studies at Vilnius University, Dovid Katz, now editor of website Defending History, said: “Jewish people in Lithuania, who have excellent relations with Lithuanian neighbours and friends, are in a state of shock that the government and parliament could do this to them: financing the reburial with full honours.

“The duplicitous policy of honouring the victims, for the consumption of naive Jewish foreigners, as well as the perpetrators, to satisfy the local antisemitic far right base, is just not on.”

Mr Ambrazevicius — who died in the US in 1974 — has been linked to the establishment of the Kovna ghetto to imprison Kaunas’s Jews, and to the setting up of a concentration camp.

USA | New York police accused of racism

Friday, 18 May 2012, 17:48 | Source: |

A US Federal judge has given the status of a class action suit to the claim demanding a revision of the method of street searches employed by New York police.

This decision has become a victory of American human rights activists who always stated that this method had an openly racist nature. Indeed, according to statistics, 9 out of 10 pedestrians searched in New York streets are Afro-Americans or Hispanic Americans.

New York activists have been struggling against law enforcers’ dubious methods for a long time. In 2008, the New York police, the City Mayor and the City Administration as a whole were accused of regular violations of human rights granted by the First and Fourth Constitutional Amendments. The status of a class action suit will allow groups of citizens to join demands of reviewing the legality of such measures.

The City Administration and Police Department tried to appeal against the human rights activists’ demand, arguing that street searches were a necessary security measure. However, in this case, law and criminal experts showed rare unanimity with police opponents. According to statistical data, the number of detentions of Afro-Americans in 2011 exceeded the size of the Afro-American population in New York, while 9 out of 10 detained people were not involved in any illegal actions.

Last month, Judge Shira Scheindlin announced that the evidence of Jeffrey Fagan, a Columbia University criminologist who discovered that, from 2004 to 2009, police carried out 150,000 detentions contradicting the Constitution, will be included in the case. At the same time, the New York Civil Liberties Union, one of the main opponents to the controversial measure, states that street searches have not even reduced the number of illegal firearms in the city streets.

Still, the city police continue to insist that the practice of random detentions and searches has made New York one of the safest US cities. New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who recently called the searches ‘dubious practice’, is now ready to protect them tooth and nail. He states that street searches have drastically reduced the number of murders.

It may be true that random detentions of suspicious subjects can really make potential criminals give up carrying firearms, thus reducing the number of crimes. However, this practice undoubtedly violates citizens’ rights and moreover, plants the seeds of distrust of police and authorities as a whole in US society.

In this context, taking the statistical data into consideration, the public has a serious reason to accuse police of undisguised racism, which is unlikely to promote stability in the dialogue between the authorities and citizens. Moreover, New York law enforcers regularly hear well-founded accusations of race discrimination. Suffice it to remember the shameful incident in 2011 when police shot down a black old man who had called an ambulance and refused to open the door to police which arrived instead of doctors. The murdered man’s niece who lived next door gave evidence that before opening fire the policemen used openly racist epithets addressing their victim.

The unanimity of judges and experts means that this time, human rights activists have won and police will have to give up their dubious practice. Otherwise, the authorities will risk losing city residents’ trust forever.

RUSSIA | Neo-Nazis attack gay activists in St. Petersburg

Friday, 18 May 2012, 17:38 | Source: RT |

A bus carrying gay activists is attacked in St.Petersburg (PHOTO: Valentin Ilyushin,

A bus carrying gay activists is attacked in St.Petersburg (PHOTO: Valentin Ilyushin,

Several gay rights activists have suffered injuries after being assaulted during and after a chaotic demonstration in St.Petersburg

Dozens gathered in a city center park to mark International Day Against Homophobia. City authorities had sanctioned the demonstration, and a police unit shielded participants as they chanted slogans and gave out balloons to passers-by.

Around 100 gathered for the demonstration (PHOTO: Valentin Ilyushin,
Around 100 gathered for the demonstration (PHOTO: Valentin Ilyushin,

A larger crowd of anti-gay protesters, some wielding Orthodox crosses, repeatedly shouted death threats, and attempted to break the cordon. Eventually, one man struggled past the police and sprayed mace at one of the demonstrators, who lay prone for several minutes until paramedics arrived.

An activist recovering after being attacked with mace (PHOTO: Valentin Ilyushin,
An activist recovering after being attacked with mace (PHOTO: Valentin Ilyushin,

Afraid the police would not be able to keep the peace, the activists wrapped up the event within minutes. Police escorted the participants on to buses, but the convoy had only traveled several streets when a large group of shaven-headed men sporting football and neo-Nazi attire blocked their path.

The assailants threw several smoke grenades at the buses, before rushing them. They broke the windows with rocks and clubs and climbed inside, punching and kicking the activists. Police officers intervened and the drivers managed to get away.

Neo-Nazis and radical football fans bull-rushing the bus (PHOTO: Valentin Ilyushin,
Neo-Nazis and radical football fans bull-rushing the bus (PHOTO: Valentin Ilyushin,

The attackers then re-directed their anger at a nearby bus of migrant workers. Witnesses reported that gunshots, possibly from non-lethal weapons, were heard.

At least two gay activists have been hospitalized with injuries, though the final toll is not clear, and authorities have released no figures.

St. Petersburg recently became a flashpoint in the gay rights conflict after the local assembly passed a law prescribing fines for “homosexual propaganda aimed at minors.” Its opponents say the vague wording of the law means it can be used to criminalize any public gay events.

“The violence is a confirmation that the anti-gay legislation is emboldening homophobes who feel free to vent their anger at homosexuals” says a press release from LGBT group Vykhod ("Exit"), which organized the demonstration.

Anti-gay activists openly shouting homophobic slogans. The police have not commented about whether they will face prosecution. (PHOTO: Valentin Ilyushin,
Anti-gay activists openly shouting homophobic slogans. The police have not commented about whether they will face prosecution. (PHOTO: Valentin Ilyushin,

USA | Suspected neo-nazi planned attack to influence US presidential vote says FBI

Friday, 18 May 2012, 17:33 | Source: AP |

In an attempt to stir debate on immigration amnesty issues ahead of the 2012 presidential election, a man with suspected ties to white supremacist groups planned to attack the Mexican consulate in St. Paul, Minnesota, according to a federal affidavit, which also said he would risk his life in the event of a "race war."

Joseph Benjamin Thomas also told an undercover FBI agent he considered himself a "domestic terrorist" instead of an American, the FBI affidavit said.

The document, recently unsealed in federal court, provides new details about the investigation into Thomas' alleged plan. He was indicted in April on drug charges, though authorities had been watching him and another man since 2010 as part of a domestic terrorism probe. The affidavit said he'd amassed weapons and wanted to attack minorities, people with left-leaning political beliefs and government officials.

Thomas, 42, is not facing any terrorism-related charges. His attorney did not return a phone message Thursday, and the U.S. Attorney's Office declined to comment.

"We consider him a threat, and we believe he had the capacity to carry these threats out," FBI spokesman Kyle Loven said in an interview Thursday. "This was a lengthy investigation, and it was driven by our belief that the intentions of these persons were sincere."

In addition to the plot against the consulate, the FBI alleges, Thomas had collected license plate numbers of people with Barack Obama bumper stickers and had asked an associate to volunteer at a left-leaning bookstore to obtain customers' addresses.

The affidavit alleges that Thomas and another man arrested in April, 31-year-old Samuel James Johnson, were trying to form a supremacist group with a militant wing. Thomas told an undercover agent he expected a race war within two years and that his group would be able to control an interstate and airports to prevent the military from coming into Minnesota, the affidavit said.

In the plot against the consulate, Thomas allegedly told an undercover agent he wanted to steal a pickup truck, load it with barrels of oil and gas, drive it into the consulate and allow the mixture to spill, then set it ablaze with a road flare. Thomas also said he'd found recipes for the mixture and instructions for making napalm, the affidavit said.

The affidavit alleged Thomas wanted to carry out the attack on May 1, a day used in recent years by activists in the U.S. to hold rallies for immigrant rights. But he later said the attack couldn't happen that day, blaming personal reasons and noting more police were in the area, the affidavit said.

Details of the planned attack comes days after ten alleged members of a military-styled white supremacist organization with plans of beginning a "race war" were arrested in central Florida.

FBI agents reported seeing Thomas conducting surveillance on the consulate building in December. At that point, he told an undercover agent he wasn't sure if the plot should move forward but continued to develop it and found a place where 55-gallon barrels could be stolen.

Thomas also suggested placing hoax explosive devices along the May Day parade route in the Twin Cities, saying he had video of prior parades so he could identify parade participants.

Ana Luisa Fajer, the consul of Mexico based in St. Paul, said the consulate was "duly and timely" notified of Thomas' alleged plot.

"We take these threats very seriously and appreciate the full support we have received from the outset," she said in a phone interview, adding that the consulate's security protocols have been reinforced.

"Expressions of hate are the ones that motivated the alleged plotter," she said. "These things exist, but we definitely think it's an isolated voice here."

Thomas, from the St. Paul suburb of Mendota Heights, was indicted on four charges related to possession and sale of methamphetamine, while Johnson, of Austin, Minn., was indicted on weapons charges. The indictment said Johnson's prior convictions barred him from having weapons, though he was found with five — including a semi-automatic assault rifle — and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition.

Mark Pitcavage, director of investigative research for the Anti-Defamation League, which tracks extremist groups nationwide, said weapons charges are common in such cases because it's hard for prosecutors to prove terror charges based on someone's planning.

"In my 18 years of having tracked extremists, I think that weapons charges are among the most sure to stick," he said. "Weapons charges are pretty common among most major right wing extremist movements because they love guns."

According to an affidavit unsealed last month, Johnson was a former member and Minnesota leader of the National Socialist Movement, a white nationalist group, and he and Thomas were trying to form a spinoff group called the Aryan Liberation Movement with the intent of committing violence.

SWEDEN | Mangs’ mother noticed racism

Thursday, 17 May 2012, 22:05 | Source: IceNews |

The mother of suspected Swedish serial killer Peter Mangs admitted to police that he had expressed racist views before he was arrested for a string of immigrant shootings in Malmö. According to police reports quoted by Aftonbladet newspaper, Mr Mangs’ mother at first thought it was pure “idiocy” that her 40-year-old son had been arrested, but later admitted that he had shown signs of xenophobia in the past.

“It seems inconceivable that it is Peter who is responsible for this,” she told police at the start of the interrogation.

The woman went on to explain, however, that her son came to see her regularly and would sometimes complain that “foreigners” were leading to the demise of the neighbourhood. “Then I would tell him ‘You’re a bloody racist. Shut up,” she told the police.

The woman also found it hard to believe that her son had a weapons licence, insisting that he was more into crafts that shooting.

In addition, she was sceptical about him being diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, according to Aftonbladet. “He was born with a slightly enlarged head, so he had to have an operation, but they said it would not give any complications,” she apparently told police.

Mr Mangs is being charged with three counts of murder and 12 counts of attempted murder for allegedly terrorising Malmö’s immigrant population between 2009 and 2010. Police believe he acted alone, shooting his victims in public places.

After months of investigation and much criticism of the police, Mangs was finally arrested after a tip-off from a member of the public. He denies all the charges.

GERMANY | Regional elections: far-right battered

Thursday, 17 May 2012, 12:49 | Source: Hope not hate/Antifa Net |

Hope not hate correspondent Michael Klein reports from Düsseldorf

The fascist far-right took a thrashing in Germany’s recent regional elections, held in Schleswig-Holstein and North Rhine-Westphalia. The nazi National Democrats (NPD) lost votes in both regions, reaching only 0.7% (9,820 votes) in Schleswig-Holstein and 0.5% (39,995 votes) in North Rhine-Westphalia. As a result, the party took no seats and awill be ineligible for any state reimbursement of campaign costs.

Slight gains were achieved in North Rhine-Westphalia by the populist, anti-Muslim PRO- movement, which got 1.5% of the vote (118,270 votes). The PRO-movement’s campaign was deliberately provocative with election rallies staged in front of mosques in numerous towns at which anti-Muslim caricatures were openly displayed and which resulted in violent clashes with Islamist extremists.

In both regional parliaments, the “new kids on the block” in the shape of the so-called Pirate Party won seats with scores significantly above 5%. This outfit campaigns for the strengthening of civil and individual rights, more democratic participation, better data protection and greater transparency in policy making. Due to its initial programmatic openness, former NPD members found their way into the party which, after sharp public criticism from the outside, took its distance from the far-right.

UKRAINE | FA concerned about Euro 2012 racism

Wednesday, 16 May 2012, 22:22 | Source: AP |

The head of English soccer has raised concerns with UEFA president Michel Platini that players and fans could be racially abused at European Championship matches in Ukraine.

English authorities have been warning that far-right soccer hooligans could spark racist violence at the tournament this summer, which is being co-hosted with Poland.

"I had a meeting with Michel Platini two weeks ago and I raised the subject with him," Football Association chairman David Bernstein said Tuesday. "UEFA are taking the whole potential situation very, very seriously."

Anti-racism groups investigated an 18-month period up to March 2011 and found 195 incidents at matches in Poland and Ukraine.

All three of England's group stage matches are in Ukraine, and referees have the power to stop matches if players are being racially abused.

"We are working on all sorts of contingency plans both for possible issues in stadia or outside the stadia," Bernstein told a British parliamentary hearing into soccer racism. "There are all sorts of things that could happen in Ukraine. We sincerely hope they don't happen, but we are preparing very carefully for any eventualities."

A 24-strong British police presence will be in Poland and Ukraine.

"I think football hooliganism is more of a problem in the Ukraine than perhaps it is at home," said assistant chief constable Andy Holt, who is heading the British police delegation at Euro 2012. "I don't think they are as advanced in dealing with racism."

English soccer, though, has been grappling with its own renewed problems with racism in the past year.

John Terry is due to face trial in July on a charge of racially abusing Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand during a Premier League match in October, which led to the Chelsea defender being stripped of the England captaincy.

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez served an eight-match ban for racially abusing Manchester United left back Patrice Evra , who is black, during another October match.

Suarez initially was backed by Liverpool, whose players were condemned by anti-racism groups for wearing T-shirts featuring the Uruguayan's picture in a show of solidarity.

While not commenting on the Suarez case, Bernstein criticized clubs for backing players even if they are accused of serious offenses such as racism.

"Clubs do tend to act like a large family. They do tend to rally round and support each other. They do tend to draw the wagons around and this sort of they all hate us type of thing that makes us stronger," Bernstein said. "It's something that's prevalent in many if not most clubs. ... Should clubs be more introspective? Yes, I think they should attempt to be, most certainly.

"But having chaired a club, I know it's quite difficult. There is a strong temptation to do everything one can to get a winning situation, a winning team, and that includes supporting your colleagues almost right or wrong. So it's a cultural thing, but I think it does need looking at."

The head of England's players' union told the parliamentary hearing that black players fear facing a "torrent of abuse" if they complain about racism in the wake of the Terry and Suarez cases.

"The last thing I want after this season's incidents is for black players to not feel comfortable with the process, that if they do make a complaint that it won't be addressed properly," Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor said. "I also feel there is an element of belief among my younger black players that it's still, 'Hmm, I can make a complaint, but . . . ' "

SWEDEN | Swedish MP convicted of drugs offences

Wednesday, 16 May 2012, 20:52 | Source: |

William Petzäll , an independent Swedish MP who quit the Sweden Democrats last year amidst a battle with substance abuse, was convicted on Wednesday of drugs crimes.

In handing down the guilty verdict, the district court in Varberg , western Sweden, also ordered Petzäll to pay 17,100 kronor (£15,000) in fines.

According to the court's ruling, the 23-year-old Petzäll tested positive for three narcotics-classified substances, including morphine, for which he had no prescription when he underwent a drug test in January 2012.

The drug test also revealed Petzäll had two additional narcotics-classified drugs in his systems, but he was able to prove to the court he had a prescription for both.

Petzäll said he plans to appeal the ruling, which he labeled "idiotic".

"I'm really pissed off, to be honest," he told The Local.

"It's ridiculous to punish people who are suffering from addiction."

Petzäll added that he hoped to use his position in the Riksdag to draw attention to what he considered to be a stain on the Swedish criminal justice system.

"Drug crimes policy isn't something that's discussed much in Sweden," he said.

"It's horrible that drug addicts are stigmatized in the way they are. You can't stereotype immigrants or homosexuals, but all drug users are lumped together into a group that deserves to be punished with fines or prison."

In addition to the fines, Petzäll must also pay 1,325 kronor to cover the cost of the chemical analysis as well as 500 kronor to Sweden's Crime Victims Fund (Brottsofferfonden).

Petzäll entered the Riksdag following the 2010 general elections, which resulted in the far-right Sweden Democrats gaining representation in the Swedish parliament for the first time.

But Petzäll announced last autumn he was leaving the Sweden Democrats to deal with a substance abuse problem, but would remain in parliament as an independent.

Less than a month later, Petzäll was involuntarily committed to a substance abuse treatment centre to prevent an overdose.

In February 2011, Petzäll spent a night in jail after a drunken outburst, prompting his first time-out from politics.

CYPRUS | ELAM seeks to echo Golden Dawn’s success

Tuesday, 15 May 2012, 13:38 | Source: Cyprus Mail |

THE unprecedented rise of the far right in Greece in last Sunday’s election has succeeded in raising enough alarm here in Cyprus to prompt President Christofias to comment that the economic crisis is strengthening radical parties across Europe.

Fears of a rise in nationalism locally have been heightened by the potentially explosive mix of economic recession, rising unemployment and increasing racism, with local immigrant support groups saying that they fear foreigners will be on the receiving end of any nationalist surge.

“The world economic crisis unfortunately offers today such possibilities to the extreme right particularly where there is no awareness of the historical truth and the mature democratic awareness. History teaches us that any tolerance to fascism is catastrophic,” Christofias said this week.

The surge of Greece’s ultra right-wing Golden Dawn in the polls from a paltry 0.2 per cent of the vote in 2009 to seven per cent last Sunday has turned the spotlight on a party that has existed in the shadows, giving local nationalists cause to celebrate.

As the tallies were called, members of Cyprus’ home-grown, right-wing party ELAM, decked themselves out in black shirts and waved Greek and Golden Dawn flags as they took to the streets of Nicosia, car horns blaring and firecrackers exploding.

“It is our great pleasure that we realised that the end of two-party system [in Greece] coincides with a shift towards nationalism. The system panicked because it realises that it has now lost its full influence,” the party announced.

ELAM said they were thrilled with the new support for their “brother movement in Greece”, adding that their members became frantic when presented the first results of the exit polls.

The party held a double celebration, saying they were also euphoric at the local student elections at the University of Nicosia, where their candidate managed to win a seat on the student body last week, despite what they described as “complete opposition by the campus authorities”.

“The result made everyone freeze, leaving them stunned. As always our triumphant and dynamic presence ended with National Anthem,” the statement added.

ELAM was recognised as a legal political party by the attorney general last year and took part in the parliamentary elections receiving 4,354 votes (1.08 per cent). Their manifesto promotes a strict anti-federalist solution concerning the Cyprus dispute, a zero-toleration anti-immigration policy against illegal immigration, and Hellenistic education.

Doros Polycarpou from the immigrant support group KISA, says much of the blame for the rise in nationalism lies at the door of the government, for fragmenting society in Cyprus.

“The government failed to see the society as a whole, and I mean the entire society. They isolated the Greek Cypriot population from the rest – and they consider those who are affected by the crisis are the Greek Cypriots and others are to blame. This is how you isolate your society.”

Polycarpou added that he believes that migration can deliver economic gains and the media are partly to blame for their poor coverage of the issue.

“The media in this country don’t publish anything positive about migration; on the contrary, this will create a similar situation or even worse situation here in the coming months than we have in Greece.”

KISA say that a general lack of progress in a political landscape that shapes an increasingly inward-looking and less tolerant society, means there is a lot to be done to tackle racism and discrimination.

Populist anti-immigrant parties have also enjoyed rising success in the Netherlands, Hungary and Finland, where the True Finns increased their vote in last year’s election to 19.1 per cent from 4.1 per cent in 2007.

GERMANY | Neo-Nazi 'could have escaped but chose to die'

Tuesday, 15 May 2012, 13:35 | Source: |

Neo-Nazi terrorists Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt could have easily escaped police last year, but chose to die instead, in another in a long line of embarrassing revelations for investigating authorities.

Mundlos and Böhnhardt, members of the self-styled National Socialist Underground (NSU) terrorist cell, botched a bank robbery in Eisenach in the eastern German state of Thuringia on November 4 – and fled the crime scene on bicycles, Bild newspaper reported on Sunday.

As the pair headed for their campervan parked up in another part of town, they were listening over police radio to how the search for them was being conducted.

They could have escaped police, but instead waited almost an hour before Mundlos shot dead Böhnhardt and then himself in the campervan, the paper said.

They would have heard that the police dragnet was due to be lifted after an hour and a half, and could have escaped out onto the motorway in their van, but they did not.

Instead they waited almost an hour until the police came across them by accident, said Bild.

Mundlos and Böhnhardt, together with Beate Zschäpe are thought to have killed nine people of immigrant descent and a policewoman between 2000 and 2007, as well as robbing 14 banks.

The news that the terrorists could have escaped is a further embarrassment for the authorities, who initially assumed the string of killings were connected to organised crime, only joining the dots in 2011 when the group self-destructed and the gun used in the killings was found in their flat.

Investigators reconstructing the terrorists' last moments said it took Mundlos just 15 seconds to shoot dead Böhnhardt, set their campervan alight and commit suicide himself.

As police approached, Mundlos climbed into the back of the vehicle and started a fire before turning the gun on himself.

Zschäpe, believed to have co-founded the terrorist cell, gave herself up to police a few days later after the incident and is currently in prison awaiting trial.

HUNGARY | Political, social turmoil worries Hungary’s Jews

Tuesday, 15 May 2012, 13:29 | Source: JTA |

The debate over anti-Semitism in Hungary has sharpened since the anti-Israel, anti-Jewish and anti-Roma (Gypsy) Jobbik movement entered Parliament two years ago as the country’s third largest party.

Seeking scapegoats and channeling paranoia at a time of severe economic, social and political woes, Jobbik’s lawmakers regularly -- and loudly -- spout xenophobic, anti-Roma, anti-Israel and anti-Semitic rhetoric.

Outbursts in Parliament, in local councils and in the media have demolished taboos and increasingly serve to legitimize hate speech in both private conversation and public discourse.

But for the Jewish community, anxiety over anti-Semitism is only one toxic element of a broader and much more complex national crisis that touches all parts of society two years after the 2010 elections swept the conservative Fidesz party to power.

“The danger is about Hungarian democracy, not about anti-Semitism,” Rabbi Istvan Darvas told JTA.

“Everybody feels the crisis,” said Mircea Cernov, CEO of Haver, a foundation that fights anti-Semitism and teaches schoolchildren about Judaism and the Jewish people. “The financial and economic challenges, unemployment and poverty, social, education and health system crisis, democratic system in turbulence -- there is no difference between people influenced by all this.”

With a two-thirds majority in Parliament, Prime Minister Victor Orban and his government rewrote the constitution and pushed through controversial new laws that sharply polarized the country and also drew tough criticism from the European Union and other international bodies.

These included new legislation regulating the media, changing how judges are appointed and reducing the number of officially recognized religious bodies. Three Jewish streams have such recognition.

Other new laws cut social benefits, nationalized private pension funds and even outlawed homelessness.

The government said the new laws were needed to consolidate the legal and judicial system. But critics claimed they contributed to a “democracy deficit” and undermined democratic rights.

Jobbik and other extremists have capitalized on the economic uncertainly and social and political polarization to push a virulently nationalist message that stigmatizes Jews, Roma, immigrants and other minority groups.

Fidesz is not formally allied with Jobbik and has condemned anti-Semitism.

But a defense of Hungarian national honor is one of Fidesz’s platforms. Many Hungarian Jews, who traditionally have gravitated toward leftist-liberal parties, are deeply troubled by appeals to nationalism, even by mainstream parties.

And there is a perception among Fidesz opponents that some of its members may be sympathetic to Jobbik’s more extreme stance. This month, for example, the Israeli ambassador to Hungary canceled an official visit to the town of Eger after an audio recording came to light in which a Fidesz town councilor slammed a prominent actor as a “filthy Jew” with leftist-liberal sympathies.

“Intolerance is growing, radical narratives and voices are powerful, and many people feel that the risk of a greater conflict is real,” said Cernov.

The country, he said, faces a "moral crisis" along with its other woes.

“There are no real credible voices and opinion-influencing figures,” he said. “No role models and no people who can set positive reference points. The lack of a minimum platform of common understanding among all democratic parties and civil groups is the real weakness of the Hungarian society."

In a recent incident, addressing Parliament just before Passover, a Jobbik lawmaker went so far as to advance the blood libel -- the accusation that Jews kill Christian children and use their blood for ritual purposes.

And in a February interview with the London Jewish Chronicle, Jobbik foreign affairs spokesman Marton Gyongyosi called Israel a "Nazi system based on racial hatred,” accused Jews of “colonizing” Hungary and stressed Jobbik’s support of Iran.

These developments have ratcheted up the anxiety level for Hungary’s 100,000 Jews, the largest Jewish community in central Europe.

“The gravity of the situation is unprecedented in the past two decades of Hungarian democracy,” Rabbi Shlomo Koves told The Associatied Press. “Although the safety and well-being of Hungarian Jews in their daily life is not physically in danger -- or no worse than in any other European country -- anti-Semitic public speech has escalated to a point which cannot be ignored by a single decent person.”

Rabbi Andrew Baker, the representative on anti-Semitism to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said it is not simple to gauge the extent and impact of anti-Semitism in Hungary.

“There are real problems and a high degree of uncertainty,” he told JTA after a fact-finding mission to Hungary in April. But, he added, “It is not easy to separate the anxiety that Jews feel together with many other left-of-center Hungarians at current political developments and unease at what are more directly anti-Semitic rumblings.”

Members of the Jewish community said anti-Semitism was widely expressed verbally but there have been few episodes of physical violence.

“Many people are afraid,” said Andras Heisler, a former president of the Federation of Jewish Communities. “But in normal daily life there is not any danger.”

Indeed, unlike in many Western countries, little security is evident at most of Budapest’s 20 or so active synagogues, prayer houses and other Jewish sites.

And Jewish life is lived openly. Budapest may be one of the only capitals where a program linked to this year’s March of the Living was publicized on an advertisement that covered the entire side of a downtown building.

Still, a report released before Passover by the Anti-Defamation League added fuel to alarmist fires.

Based on a telephone survey in which callers asked 500 people in 10 countries four questions regarding anti-Semitic stereotypes, the ADL found that 63 percent of Hungarians held anti-Semitic attitudes.

The report grabbed headlines. But sociologist Andras Kovacs, Hungary’s foremost researcher on anti-Semitism, slammed the report for employing what he called a faulty methodology that favored responses from hard-core anti-Semites, giving a skewed result that fed alarmism.

According to his research, he said, the proportion of anti-Semites in Hungary is 20 to 25 percent.

Cernov called the ADL report “superficial” and “even irresponsible.”

It could, he said, have a negative impact on organizations like Haver that were trying to carry out serious social action and other educational work to combat prejudice and counter extremist trends.

GREECE | Greek neo-Nazi head condemned for Holocaust denial

Tuesday, 15 May 2012, 13:22 | Source: JTA |

The Greek government and Jewish community have condemned the leader of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Party after he denied there were gas chambers or ovens at Nazi death camps.

Speaking Sunday in an interview on the private Mega TV network, Golden Dawn head Nikolaos Michaloliakos said gas chambers were lies and also said claims that six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust was an exaggeration.

“There were no ovens. This is a lie. I believe that it is a lie," said Michaloliakos. “There were no gas chambers either."

His comments drew condemnation from the Greek government.

This "constitutes a distortion of history and a fierce insult to the memory of the millions of Holocaust victims," said government spokesman Pentelis Kapsis on Tuesday.

"The Greek people have not forgotten that they mourned hundreds of thousands of victims of Nazism, including tens of thousands of Greek Jews," Kapsis said.

The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece also condemned Michaloliakos, and called on the Greek government and public to "firmly condemn and isolate the forces seeking the revival of the darkest ideology of European history."

Some 5,000 Jews live in Greece today. The pre-war community of some 78,000, most of whom lived in the northern port city of Thessaloniki, was almost entirely wiped out in the Holocaust.

"It is an insult to the historical memory, the memory of the 6 million Jews, our brethren, amongst whom there were 70,000 Greek Jews, who perished in the death camps of Auschwitz, Dachau (and) Treblinka," the Jewish community statement said.

The extreme-right Golden Dawn Party, whose flag closely resembles the Nazi swastika, received 21 seats in parliament, the first time it passed the threshold to enter the legislative body. It campaigned heavily on an anti-immigrant platform under the slogan "So we can rid this land of filth."

Michaloliakos, the party leader came to prominence when he won a seat on the Athens City Council in 2010 and celebrated by giving the Nazi salute at the first City Hall meeting.

CANADA/FRANCE | Four Dieudonne shows cancelled in Montreal

Tuesday, 15 May 2012, 13:12 | Source: EJP |

Four shows by controversial French comic Dieudonne in Montreal have been cancelled after Jewish groups expressed concern over his reputation for performing anti-Semitic material.

Earlier this week, one of his shows in Brussels, Belgium, was interrupted by police and eventually scrapped.

In Montreal, Dieudonne was scheduled for four performances at the Corona Theatre starting May 14 in a booking by the city's biggest entertainment promoter, Evenko.

Luciano Del Negro from the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs wrote to Evenko protesting Dieudonne‘s Montreal appearances.

"He is no longer funny, particularly given his anti-Semitic vitriol and his racist outbursts,” Del Negro told CBC News.

On Friday, the Corona Theatre sent out a release saying it had cancelled the shows "due to contractual conflicts."

Del Negro says Evenko promised to be more sensitve in the future about who it books.

“The company has put into place a protocol to ensure greater scrutiny of the people requesting the use of their venues,” Del Negro said.

Dieudonne’s current show, titled Rendez-nous Jésus (Give us back Jesus), has been criticized in France because it features Holocaust denial, slurs against the Talmud and praise for Hitler.

In France, he has to book his shows into smaller venues because established event planners won’t handle him.

The comic is also promoting his feature film, which was released earlier this year. L’Antisémite was produced with French and Iranian money.

In Brussels, Dieudonne Belgian authorities are investigating whether to lay charges for inciting racial hatred and xenophobia stemming from a performance in March.

While he had already been denied access to two other venues in Belgium, he invited his fans to Fiesta Bar on Wednesday night, a venue located on municipal property in the Belgian capital, without having alerted the authorities or applied for required authorisation.

“As soon as I found out (Dieudonne’s plans), I requested the police to be attentive and take whatever necessary measures to prevent any incidents, “ stated Mayor of Brussels Freddy Thielemans.

“Unfortunately, there had already been an incident, so the police intervened, drafted a report and we stopped the show,” he explained.

Without giving any further details away, the Mayor explained that Dieudonne had given rise to acts of ‘xenophobia’ and ‘incitement of racial hatred’.

Whilst the first show was finished, the police determined that the owner of the venue should not allow the 300 attendees outside entry for the second showing.

The police report was submitted to the prosecutor who will be able to proceed, once the Brussels authorities determine the judicial consequences of the case.

Dieudonne has already been subject to judicial proceedings, following a show he gave in March in Liege.

He was previously convicted in 2009 by a court in Paris for making comments on a Parisian stage where revisionist historian Robert Faurisson was awarded a prize by a person dressed up as a deported Jew.

He was also found guilty in 2005 of anti-Semitic acts, having compared the commemoration of the Holocaust to “memorial pornography,” as well as having described the Jews as “slave traders.”

USA | National Guard investigating another extremist allegation

Tuesday, 15 May 2012, 13:06 | Source: stltoday |

The Missouri National Guard is investigating whether it may have another extremist in its ranks.

Earlier this month, authorities in Florida arrested several members of a white supremacist group who were alleged to be training for a race war in America. Those arrested on conspiracy and hate crime charges were members of the American Front, a militia-style neo-Nazi group with a long history of violence against black, gay and Jewish people.

According to an arrest affidavit filed in the case, a member of American Front's Missouri chapter, who also is a National Guard member, was at the group's compound in north Florida in July 2011 to conduct training in hand-to-hand combat and weapons. The Missouri chapter member, who was named in the affidavit, was not among those arrested.

A soldier with the same name serves in a Kansas City-based infantry unit of the Missouri National Guard, but it's unclear whether it is the same person.

In an emailed statement, a Missouri National Guard spokeswoman said: "The facts outlined in the affidavit are being investigated pursuant to military protocol. Appropriate disciplinary and personnel action will be taken at the conclusion of the investigation, consistent with military regulations and procedures."

It marks the second time in recent months that the Missouri guard has dealt with the issue of neo-Nazis.

In March, Sgt. Nathan Wooten was fired from his $27,000-a-year state job serving on a state military honor guard that pays last respects at the funerals of Missouri veterans.

The action came almost a year after co-workers complained that Wooten was a self-proclaimed neo-Nazi who had a portrait of Adolf Hitler in his living room, tried to recruit others to the cause and named his son after a notorious leader of the German SS. A lawyer for Wooten has denied his involvement with an extremist group.

Sen. Bill Stouffer, R-Napton, who requested a legislative hearing held last month on the guard's handling of Wooten's case said Monday that he "continues to get concerns voiced by guard members that there's a problem."

"I would hope we would get to the bottom of it," Stouffer said. "No way do I want this to stain the reputation of the guard, but if we have a problem we need to get it cleaned up."

GREECE | Large numbers of police voted nazi in Greece

Friday, 11 May 2012, 15:31 | Source:ANSAmed |

More than half of all police officers in Greece voted for pro-Nazi party Chrysi Avgi' (Golden Dawn) in the elections of May 6. This is the disconcerting result of an analysis carried out by the authoritative newspaper To Vima (TheTribune) in several constituencies in Athens, where 5,000 police officers in service in the Greek capital also cast their ballot.

At some polling stations Chrysi Avgi' obtained 19 to 24% of votes.

Others, like Agios Panteleimonas and Kypseli, traditional strongholds of the party, reached 15 to 18%. According to the newspaper, at the 11 polling stations (from 806 to 816) located near the police station (Ellas), Chrysi Avgi' received most votes, reaching 18.64% at station 813 and 23.67% at number 816.

Other polling stations situated at a short distance from the ones mentioned before, where police officers do not vote, recorded 12-14% of votes for the Golden Dawn party.

Moreover, the four polling stations located near the riot police station (MAT), used by the police, recorded percentages between 13 and 19 for Chrysi Avgi'.

These figures, To Vima underlines, are impressive, considering the fact that other polling stations close to the riot police station reached 7-10% of votes for the pro-Nazi party. Based on the electoral lists, 550 to 700 people have voted at each of these voting stations, of which 20 to 30% police officers. This means, the newspaper worked out, that 45 to 59% of police officers have voted for Chrysi Avgi'.

NORWAY | Gunnar Sřnsteby (1918 - 2012) - resistance fighter

Friday, 11 May 2012, 13:28 | Sources: Hope not hate/vepsen |

Gunnar Sønsteby
Gunnar Sønsteby

From vepsen in Oslo

Gunnar Sønsteby - also known under his war time cover names “Kjakan” and “Number 24” – died on 10 May. With his passing, one of the last surviving leading figures in the Norwegian resistance, and Norway’s highest decorated war hero from the struggle against the Nazi occupation regime between 1940-45, has been removed from the scene.

Sønsteby, who was born in Rjukan on 11 January 1918, studied economics and was working as an auditor at the time of the Nazi attack on Norway on 9 April 1940. In the wake of the invasion, he quickly joined the Norwegian resistance in eastern Norway. In 1941, he was recruited by the secret British military unit, the Special Operations Executive (SOE), via its office in Stockholm. In 1943, he was included in the Linge Company, an independent unit of Norwegian commandos under the SOE.

During the last years of the Nazi occupation, he led the so-called Oslo Gang, a sabotage unit of Norwegian participants under British command, which included Gregers Gram and Max Manus. The Oslo Gang is thought by many to have been the single most effective sabotage unit in Europe during the war.

Sønsteby was involved in a number of spectacular resistance activities during the Occupation period. In the autumn of 1942, he was central to the smuggling of Norges Bank’s money printing plates via Sweden to the Norwegian government in London. Among the several acts of sabotage, he executed with the Oslo Gang, were the sinking of the German transport shipDonau outside Drøbak in 1945 and the bombing of the Employment Office’s archives, to prevent the forced mobilization of Norwegians to the Eastern Front.

After the war, Sønsteby devoted much of his time to lecturing on the war and the need to fight for democratic values ​​in the future. In many ways, he became the personification of the Norwegian resistance movement against fascism in the 1940s and was an active voice against the fascist and anti-democratic tendencies until his death.

It is 72 years since the German attack on Norway and 67 years since the Second World War ended. The time gap means that eyewitnesses to, and participants in, the war are rapidly disappearing. The fading of the voices of that gigantic struggle against fascism lays a great responsibility on anti-fascists today to honour the memory of those fighters by unmasking inhumane and anti-democratic tendencies when they appear and by actively combating them.

Rest in peace, “Number 24"

USA | Florida nabs white supremacists planning 'race war'

Thursday, 10 May 2012, 23:50 | Source: Chicago Tribune |

Ten alleged members of a white supremacist group training near Orlando and Disney World for a "race war" have been rounded up in a series of arrests in central Florida, authorities said on Tuesday.

The arrests were based on evidence from a confidential
informant who infiltrated the neo-Nazi organization known as the
American Front 17 months ago, according to an arrest affidavit.

"The American Front (AF) is a military-styled, anti-Semitic,
white supremacist, skinhead organization and is known as a
domestic terrorist organization," the affidavit said.

It said the group's alleged local ringleader, Marcus Faella,
39, had been "planning and preparing the AF for what he believes
to be an inevitable race war" and had stated "his intent ... to
kill Jews, immigrants and other minorities."

Faella operated a heavily fortified paramilitary training
center for the AF on his isolated property in St.Cloud,
Florida, 11 miles (18 km) from the Walt Disney World theme
parks, according to the affidavit.

It said he recently had been plotting a disturbance at
Orlando City Hall and a confrontation against a rival skinhead
group in coasta Melbourne in a bid to garner media attention,
but had also been experimenting with the potential manufacture
of the biological toxin ricin.

"Faella views himself and the other members of the AF as the
protectors of the white race," the affidavit said, adding that
Faella also believed "the race war will take place within the
next few years based on current world events."

Faella's compound, where he regularly conducted firearms,
explosives and tactical training for AF members and other
neo-Nazi groups, was protected by two pit bull dogs, a
barbed-wire fence and three military-style trenches.

Faella fortified the walls of his residential trailer
and added firing ports, according to the affidavit.

A nationwide skinhead movement, originally modeled after
Britain's far right, whites-only National Front, the AF's
activities have been concentrated in recent years in central
Florida, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Faella and his alleged followers were each charged with
paramilitary training, shooting into an occupied dwelling and
evidence of prejudices while committing an offense, according to
a written statement from the prosecutor's office.

The investigation into the AF was conducted by the FBI's
Joint Terrorism Task Force and local law enforcement agencies.

It was shut down and the arrests were made after the
confidential informant came to believe his life was in danger,
according to the affidavit.

Besides Faella, those arrested were Christopher Brooks, 27,
of Pakm Bay; Richard Stockdale, 23, of St. Cloud; Kent McLellan,
22, of St. Cloud; Patricia Faella, 36, of St. Cloud; Jennifer
McGowan, 25, of Cocoa; Mark McGowan, 29, of Cocoa; Diane
Stevens, 28, of Kissimmee; Paul Jackson, 25, of St. Cloud; and
Dustin Perry, 21, of Kissimmee.

In addition to the other charges, Brooks and Stockdale were
charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon,
according to their arrest reports.

A lawyer for Faella and other suspects arrested in the case
could not be reached for immediate comment but Marcus and
Patricia Faella, who were arrested on Friday, have already been
released on a bond totaling $500,000 each.

The central Florida town of Sanford, also near Orlando, made
international headlines over the last two months after the
racially charged shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin.

George Zimmerman, the white Hispanic who killed Martin, said
he acted in self-defense. He was not arrested or charged
initially, because his use of deadly force was alleged to be
protected under Florida's 2005 Stand Your Ground law.

But after weeks of protest demonstrations across the country
Zimmerman was eventually arrested and he is now charged with
second-degree murder.

GERMANY | Marked Man - Hitler Tattoo Neo Nazi Arrested

Thursday, 10 May 2012, 23:43 | Source: Austrian Times |

A Swiss neo-Nazi wanted for attempted murder was easy to identify by police after he fled to Germany because his body is covered in Nazi symbols, including a huge picture of Hitler tattooed on his chest.

Sebastian Nussbaumer, 24, left his victim hospitalised after a shooting incident in Zurich at the weekend.

But after a tipoff he was heading to Hamburg by train, 40 German police officers sealed off the train station and arrested the man who was armed with a pistol as he climbed onto the platform.

Displaying Nazi symbols including the symbol on his forearm representing Hitler's paramilitary force is illegal in Germany. Next to the tattoo of Hitler there was a swastika – and on his neck a hand grenade and a spider's web symbolic of an SS division. The tattoos mean that as well as the attempted murder charges in Switzerland he may well have to face charges in Germany for which he could also be jailed for glorifying the crimes of the Third Reich.

In 2006 he was jailed after he attacked a group of Albanians with a knuckleduster while being filmed by another far-right extremist. In 2007 he broke the noses of two men, one with a kick, the other with a head-butt, and beat a drunken man so badly that he suffered concussion. He spent 16 months in jail for the assaults.

In January, he was again sentenced to three years and three months for a variety of other crimes. Nussbaumer appealed the sentence, arguing that he had been sentenced more harshly than others because of his neo-Nazi beliefs.

Swiss Nazi hunter Heinz Kaiser said: "The last time he was jailed it was for 44 different offences for which he got 39 months. Then he was released. But he is a ticking timebomb – he will commit violence again. He is very prominent in the far right scene where he gets the recognition that he doesn't get anywhere else. He's one of their key players."

The Hamburg far right group, the White Wolves, is regarded as one of the most violent of the neo-Nazi groups in Germany blamed for attacks on foreigners and the police.

GERMANY | German neo-Nazi convicted of making threats

Thursday, 10 May 2012, 23:24 | |

A prominent German neo-Nazi has been convicted of threatening journalists and sentenced to 21 months in prison.

The dapd news agency reported Wednesday that Martin Wiese was convicted by a state court in Gemuenden, near Frankfurt, of incitement and making threats at a neo-Nazi rally last year.

Wiese had argued that his comments that journalists at the rally should be tried by a Nazi-style court and sentenced to death were taken out of context.

In 2005, Wiese was sentenced to several years in prison for leading a terrorist group that discussed attacking a synagogue.

Wiese was found guilty of membership in a terrorist organization for heading the group, which collected weapons and discussed how it could stop a 2003 dedication ceremony at the Munich synagogue.

CZECH REPUBLIC | Respekt: Czech group promoting terrorism does not go to prison

Thursday, 10 May 2012, 23:21 | Source:Prague Daily Monitor |

The members of the White Justice, a Czech neo-Nazi group that planned terrorist actions, organised training in killing enemies and making bombs and worked out a list of enemies to be killed, received only suspended sentences in late April, Jaroslav Spurny says in Respekt weekly out Monday.

It is even more surprising that the extremists have not been charged with planning terrorist actions or training to kill but only with promotion of Nazism in texts posted on their website, Spurny writes.

Why? he asks.

There seem to be two possibilities: either the Czech police exaggerated the extremist threat to show off their own heroism, or the investigation has proved that the White Justice group only played the role of dangerous tough guys but was unable to take real action, Spurny writes.

In a spectacular raid, the police arrested 12 extremists in October 2009. "We succeeded in paralysing one of the most dangerous extremist groups," Robert Slachta, chief of the police unit fighting organised crime, said then.

Former career soldier Lukas Sedlacek, whom the judge who issued the recent verdict considers the most dangerous member of the group, was not charged and he only testified in the trial, Spurny said.

Sedlacek told the court that he organised fight camps where he trained people from the White Justice in putting cars on fire, making an improvised mortar and killing somebody in man-to-man combat, Spurny writes.

Sedlacek openly said he considered the group to be an instrument to fight against the present regime, he adds.

But the state attorneys do not consider any of this a crime. The judge Petr Cerny has a different opinion, however. He says the attorneys should reassess whether the organising of fight camps is a crime.

The White Justice was founded in 2006 and three men said they were its founders - Sedlacek, young skinhead Filip Stransky and Vladimir Ziska, who was active in several extremist groups and ran for the far-right Workers' Party in the 2010 elections, Spurny writes.

He says during the investigation Ziska became an informant and gave information on the fight camps to the police.

Stransky, who used to say "It is ineffective to sit in a pub, chat and drink beer and beat up somebody from time to time," began to issue a magazine, which was similar to other extremist press, celebrating German Nazi leaders, Spurny writes.

"We must be strong to be able to scare Gypsies, immigrants and Jews," Spurny quotes an anonymous writing in the magazine.

He says then Stransky started a website that was more radical.

"The White Justice website first presented views that only violent struggle or even terrorism can lead to victory," expert in extremism Michal Mazel said.

"Our terrorism must be aimed only against people of unclean intentions, actions and race. We must mark the target and then liquidate it...Our actions should win us respect of the part of the public that takes a liking to us," Spurny quotes from an article posted on the website in 2007.

A list of enemies to be eliminated was worked out and further names were added to it, such as former prime minister Jan Fischer, because of his Jewish origin, and anti-fascist activist Ondrej Cakl.

Stransky and Sedlacek confessed to their activities but they claimed they were not preparing racially or politically motivated murders but "a self-defence against the system that defended Romany criminals and parasites at the expense of decent citizens," Spurny writes.

He says this is similar to the statements by Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik who has been tried for killing several dozens of people last year.

According to Mazel, the Internet articles promoting terrorist action seem the most dangerous as they may inspire somebody.

"I cannot know how many of them may run crazy like Breivik. There is the risk," Mazel said.

He pointed out that the Czech neo-Nazis are frustrated because they failed to join the political scene. They have not even been successful now that anti-Romany moods have clearly been getting stronger, he added.

"This may lead them to violent actions. They long for success and recognition," Mazel said.

An interesting point seems to be the role of Ziska who told the police that he has been cooperating with the BIS counter-intelligence for years and that it was the BIS who ordered him to found the White Justice, Spurny writes.

BIS told the police that it does not cooperate with Ziska, but the police revealed that four persons whom Ziska used to call had false identities, Spurny notes.

The Czech police monitored the White Justice for two years but they did not reveal a single case of a terrorist action being prepared, Spurny writes.

The only "action" registered was the beating up of an unknown student near a Jewish cemetery by Stransky and his friends. The police then arrested the attackers in a nearby pub and Stransky was sentenced to prison for 10 months for the violent attack, which seemed to have no special motive, Spurny says.

The attorneys were also considering charging the extremists with crimes against the principles of the state, but this paragraph had been used by the Czechoslovak Communists against their enemies in the 1950s show trials, Spurny writes.

Police and state attorneys failed to charge the White Justice members with terrorism or planning armed attacks. Czech State Attorneys' Association head Lenka Bradacova says not even the training in fight camps is a crime, Spurny writes.

GREECE | Golden Dawn fascists are not just Greece's problem

Wednesday, 9 May 2012, 12:37 | Source: New Statesman |

By Daniel Trilling

It was an unwelcome echo of Europe’s past: as black-clad henchmen barked instructions at journalists, ejecting those who refused to show “respect” by standing up, Nikolaos Michaloliakos, the greying leader of Greece’s neo-Nazi Golden Dawn, hailed his party’s unprecedented entry into parliament. Waving his fists like a practiced demagogue, he threatened retribution “for those who betray this homeland”. Then came a promise: “The Europe of the nations returns. Greece is only the beginning.”

The sudden emergence of Golden Dawn – an obscure fringe party only a year ago but which won 21 seats in Sunday's general election – is the latest symptom of political turmoil to hit Greece as it struggles to cope with EU-imposed austerity. Mainstream parties have fallen like dominoes as Greek voters, angry at being punished by a fiscal compact that protects northern Europe’s wealthier economies, look for politicians that have not been tarnished by compromise with the Brussels elite. Many have turned left, but 7 per cent of voters chose Golden Dawn, which promises to “clean” Greece of immigrants and boasts a swastika-like emblem on its flag. In the words of one Greek Jewish leader, “They don’t deny the Holocaust – they desire it.”

The spectacle has made outside observers shudder, while the millions of Greeks who did not vote for Golden Dawn are justifiably revolted. Greece has not suddenly turned to fascism – and although Michaloliakos was a supporter of the military junta that ruled the country from 1967 to 1974, there is no special darkness within the Greek psyche that lends itself to extremist politics. Golden Dawn’s gains, which can be reversed, were achieved with techniques employed by the far right in other countries. It stood “ordinary” candidates – members of the public who had been drawn to the party in recent months – for election, and it won some support by imposing vigilante patrols in urban neighbourhoods. As in other countries, they have been challenged every step of the way by Greek anti-racists.

Golden Dawn's scapegoating of immigrants is widely shared, too. Across Europe, the financial crisis has inflamed tensions between a global market, a multinational EU, and nation states that still count on patriotism as a social glue. Migrants have thus become a lightning rod for all manner of anxieties. The difference is that Greece feels these more acutely, battered by five continuous years of recession and sitting on the EU’s porous border with Turkey. Frequently, migrants are sent back to Greece from other EU countries to rot in poorly maintained detention centres or left destitute in a country where one in five is unemployed. The fate of 200 African migrants left to drown in the Mediterranean last year by Nato forces – possibly including a British helicopter – suggests we are all capable of such callousness. This is not Greece’s dirty secret: it is all of ours.

The success of Golden Dawn is a tragedy for migrants and a painful dead end for their voters who will find them a quack cure for their country’s ills. There’s a grain of truth in Golden Dawn’s call for Greece to be freed from “the slavery of the bailout agreement” and voters will continue to seize on it until a viable alternative is found.

Left-wing parties are now struggling to find enough common ground to form a government and fresh elections may have to be held next month. The challenge is to find a solution that brings stability while fulfilling the egalitarian principles the EU project aspires to. Otherwise, the future is one of angry, reactionary nationalisms – and, perhaps, if groups like Golden Dawn are allowed to keep a foothold in democratic politics, something even more vicious.

Original article here:

SWITZERLAND/GERMANY | Swiss neo-Nazi arrested in Hamburg

Wednesday, 9 May 2012, 12:33 | Sources: |

A 24-year-old Swiss neo-Nazi, wanted for shooting a man in Zurich on Saturday night, has been arrested in Hamburg.

Some 40 German police officers were waiting for Sebastien Nussbaumer at Hamburg-Harburg station in the early hours of Monday morning, news website Blick reports. The station is located near his girlfriend's home.

Armed with machine guns, the police were able to arrest Nussbaumer without incident after his train pulled in at 3.10am. Prior to the train’s arrival, police had evacuated the station and cordoned off the area. The Swiss suspect was carrying a loaded pistol, the newspaper Tages Anzeiger reported.

With a cluster of tattoos on his neck and forearms, Nussbaumer was easy to spot. Among the tattoos is a symbol on his forearm representing Hitler's paramilitary force, the Stormtroopers. The use of this symbol is illegal in Germany.

Sebastien Nussbaumer is already well known to the police. In 2006 he attacked a group of Albanians with a knuckle-duster, an event that was filmed by a neo-Nazi colleague. In 2007 he broke the noses of two men, one with a kick, the other with a headbutt, and also beat a drunken man so badly that he suffered concussion.

Nussbaumer spent 16 months in jail for these crimes.

In January, he was again sentenced to 39 months for a variety of less serious crimes. Nussbaumer appealed the sentence, arguing that he had been judged more harshly than others because of his neo-Nazi beliefs.

He then went missing but reappeared on the Swiss police radar when he seriously injured a man in a shooting incident in Zurich's old town on Saturday night.

The cause of the dispute that led to the shooting is as yet unknown.

In addition to his girlfriend, Nussbaumer also has other neo-Nazi friends living in the Hamburg area, Blick reports.

GREECE | Neo-Nazi Greek party threatens journalist

Wednesday, 9 May 2012, 08:43 | Source: |

Xenia Kounalaki
Xenia Kounalaki

The Greek extreme-right Chryssi Avgi party has made unmasked threats against a leading journalist. Asked to comment, the European Commission yesterday (7 May) has reaffirmed its commitments to press freedom, but referred the issue to the country's authorities.

Chryssi Avgi (Golden Dawn), which won 6.97% of the votes and 21 seats in the Greek parliament in Sunday’s parliamentary elections (see background), has made intolerable death threats against Xenia Kounalaki, the editor of the foreign news desk of Kathimerini, Greece’s leading broadsheet, unleashing a wave of reactions on the resurgence of neo-Nazi extremism.

On 12 April, Kounalaki wrote an op-ed arguing that the Greek media should ignore Chryssi Avgi, a party of what she called Nazi thugs, and which according to her should have been banned from running in the elections.

The response was almost immediate: a 2,500 word article, revealing many details of Kounalaki’s personal and professional life, and mentioning her daughter for no apparent reason, was published on Chryssi Avgi’s website.

'Kommt Zeit, kommt Rat, kommt Attentat!'" wrote the unknown author of the article. Anyone who speaks German, like Kounalaki (born in Hamburg), knows that this is a barely masked threat against her life.

"I don’t think they will actually exercise physical violence against me and I am not afraid of them. But the fact that many of my friends and colleagues and even the Greek police advised to stop writing against them for a while is a first victory for Chryssi Avgi. This is the target of their fear campaign. To make journalists say: Let’s leave them and write about something else," Kounalaki told EurActiv.

The issue was brought up during the daily briefing of the European Commission yesterday (7 May) by Kounalaki’s colleague at Kathimerini, Costas Karkagiannis, the newspaper’s Brussels correspondent. Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen, the Commission’s spokeswoman, reaffirmed the EU commitment to press freedom, but refused to comment any further, referring the issue to the Greek authorities.

European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, responsible also for Information Society and Media, will surely address the issue in the European Parliament today (8 May) at a seminar on media freedom, organised by the Association of European Journalists AEJ.

Kounalaki has filed a complaint to the Greek police, but she was told that there is very little which could be done, since the threatening article was unsigned and the domain name provider was registered in the United States.

Kounalaki said her 13-year old daughter is having nightmares, since some of her schoolmates belong to the youth chapter of the Chrysi Avgi party. Numerous members of the fringe party have been arrested in the past for attacks against immigrants and leftist activists. At least one of them served time in prison for attempted homicide.

Chryssi Avgi started as a fringe organization of "Nationalist Socialist Studies" three decades ago. It published a little-known magazine, in which it praised Hitler’s "contribution to humanity". Its activists and leader casually exchange Nazi salutes among them.

Until 2010’s municipal elections, Chryssi Avgi drew very little support. Greece has suffered a brutal Nazi occupation during World War II and faced the bitter experience of a military dictatorship, between 1967 and 1974.

However, the financial implosion has shaken the foundations of Greece’s two-party system, and exposed the weaknesses of an unsustainable growth model, based on fiscal laxity, cronyism, nepotism, and corruption.

The influence of Chryssi Avgi's virulent anti-immigrant and anti-IMF rhetoric, often accompanied by the party's "militia patrols" in the most crime-stricken neighborhoods of Athens, grew faster than its most fanatic supporters had anticipated.

Analysts concur that Chryssi Avgi is a symptom of the crisis. The results of Sunday’s elections reflect a seismic shift in Greece’s political landscape, putting an end to the four-decade-domination of the center-right New Democracy and center-left PASOK parties.

Although both are to be blamed for the country’s bankruptcy, PASOK and New Democracy were the pillars of the most prolonged period of political stability in Greece’s history. Their downfall, during a time of severe economic recession, signals the start of a transitional period, bearing many similarities with the times of the Weimar Republic, Kounalaki said in an article she has written for the German newsmagazine Spiegel.

Sunday’s poll shows that the nation is deeply divided. If these divisions are not healed sooner rather than later the country could face the spectre of more political instability.

European Union Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele expressed his concern on Monday (7 May) about any potential involvement of the far-right Chrysi Avgi in a new Greek government, as the neo-Nazi party triggered immediate controversy after making it into Parliament for the first time.

“Whatever government is formed it is important that it follows the best democratic traditions of Greece ... within the spirit of the values the European Union is based on,” Fuele said during a visit to Skopje. “What is important ... (is) that no party connected or related to xenophobia or nationalism is a part of the executive branch of government.”

POLAND | Euro 2012: Poland's football hooligan fears

Wednesday, 9 May 2012, 08:32 | Source: BBC |

In the run-up to the Euro 2012 football championship now one month away, much attention is focusing on racism among fans and the potential for violence in co-host nation Poland.

The assumption is that Poland's hard-core hooligan groups will cause trouble during the championship and abuse foreign fans and players.

Theo van Seggelen, secretary general of players' union Fifpro, told the BBC recently he was not "100% convinced" that "accidents" would not occur both inside and outside stadiums if the majority of fans watching the matches came from the co-host nations, Poland and Ukraine.

Racist incidents do still occur in grounds across the country but mainly in the lower leagues and they are more infrequent than before.

The Never Again association monitors racism in Poland and its booklet, Hateful, gives a flavour of incidents at grounds.

It describes a derby match from November 2008 in Krakow between the city's teams, Cracovia and Wisla, whose rivalry is such that it is described here as a "holy war".

Some Wisla fans sang an anti-Semitic song about the supposed Jewish origins of their rivals and when a Cracovia player left the pitch, fans shouted: "To the gas chambers."

When the match ended Wisla players went over to their fans to thank them, some of them making obscene chants about Jews.

Beforehand, some Cracovia fans made monkey noises at Wisla's Brazilian player, Cleber, when he was sent off.

But this is not the whole picture. Wisla now have two Israeli players in their first team, and one of them, David Biton, is the club's top scorer this season.

Most teams have foreign players these days and when they score, whether they are white, black or Jewish, the supporters cheer.

According to a recent Fifpro survey of professional players in Eastern Europe, 9.6% of respondents said they had been victims of racism, mainly from supporters. In Poland, the figure was 9.5%.

In the region, 11.7 % of respondents said they had been victims of violence from fans, coaches and management. In Poland the corresponding figure was 6.3%.

Senegalese defender Pape Samba Ba, 30, was assaulted twice in Opole, south-west Poland, when he played for the city's Odra Opole club.

"I started playing here more than six years ago and then they didn't have the security," he told the BBC.

"The fans would scream 'monkey, go back to your country'. Now it's changing, the stadiums are getting better."

Bruno Coutinho, 26, a Brazilian midfielder for Polonia Warsaw who plays in Poland's top-flight Ekstraklasa division, has never been a victim of racism and says he has a good relationship with his teammates and coaches.

But he did witness racism while playing for Jagiellonia Bialystok in north-eastern Poland in 2009.

"They signed an 18 or 19-year-old black guy from Colombia," he told the BBC.

"During a pre-season friendly match some of our own fans were making monkey noises at him. It was the first time I had experienced anything like that."

Coutinho's dark-skinned brother recently visited him in Warsaw.

"We were walking in the centre and people would look at him like a person from another planet," he recalls.

"I don't know whether it's racism or whether people are not used to seeing black people. I'm not saying it's everyone or everywhere."

Poland used to be multi-ethnic, home to large Belarussian, Ukrainian, Jewish and German minorities before World War II, and many Poles are rightfully proud of centuries of tolerance not shared by many other European nations.

The Germans murdered 90% of the country's more than three million Jews in the Holocaust and at the war's end, Poland's allies, the USSR, the US and the UK, agreed to shift the country's borders westwards, creating a homogenous Polish and Roman Catholic state.

It is estimated that ethnic minorities make up around 2% of Poland's 38 million inhabitants.

According to a February survey by polling organisation Cbos, Poles are most sympathetic to their neighbours, the Czechs and Slovaks, and least sympathetic to Roma and Arabs.

Over the last 20 years they have become more sympathetic to their old wartime foes, Germany and Russia, and now more Poles have favourable opinions towards Jews than negative ones.

"It's true that racism is tolerated much more in Poland than in Western Europe," Konstanty Gebert, a Jewish columnist for the leading Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, told the BBC.

"Poland is clearly above the European norm in expressions of anti-Semitism but I don't think that Poland is more anti-Semitic than France, it just tolerates it more.

"In Poland I walk around all the time in my kippah and I don't get trouble, in Paris I was harassed."

Mr Gebert said anti-Semitism was clearly on the decline and expressions of it were heard less as it became more socially unacceptable.

However, there was no self-consciousness about blacks, and in particular the Roma, he added. "Attitudes are changing but it will take a generation," he said.

Rafal Pankowski, a member of Never Again and the Football Against Racism in Europe (Fare) network, says racist incidents are less frequent now.

Clubs now have safety directors and stewards trained to recognise racist banners. Never Again is involved in their training and its volunteers lead educational programmes for schools.

"We are not promising we can eliminate racism overnight but overall Euro 2012 has had a positive impact in terms of raising awareness of racism in Polish football and society," Mr Pankowski told the BBC.

Some argue that racism and violence are much more prevalent among supporters of rival clubs than they are among fans of the Polish national team.

This is largely true, Mr Pankowski said, although Polish supporters did start a riot in a friendly against Lithuania in March 2011.

There were, however, no reported major incidents among Polish fans who travelled to Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland.

It is impossible to say whether racism or violence will mar Euro 2012, of course, although Mr Pankowski does not believe the risk of incidents occurring inside the stadia is very large.

"There's a positive vibe, it's seen as an historic event," he said.

Graeme Atkinson adds:

The new edition of Hope not hate magazine carries a searching, detailed and informative investigation and analysis of racism and football hooliganism in Poland and Ukraine.

GERMANY | Police injured as Islamists and racists brawl

Wednesday, 9 May 2012, 08:22 | source:dpa |

A 25-year-old Islamist was remanded in custody in Germany on Monday, accused of the attempted murder of three policemen as they were separating neo-Nazis from Islamic fundamentalist protesters.

Two officers were stabbed in the thigh on Saturday and a third officer dodged an attack by the knife-wielding man during a melee outside a mosque in the western city of Bonn.

Pro NRW (North Rhine Westphalia), a far-right party with neo-Nazi canvassers, had organized a protest event drawing nearly 30 rightists to the mosque, holding up cartoons ridiculing Islam and its founder Mohammed to publicize the group's anti-immigrant views.

A larger group of 500 to 600 Salafists, who seek to impose what they say are the original doctrines of Islam, held a counter-demonstration, trying to break a police cordon.

The police made 109 arrests, and 29 officers were hurt in the Saturday clashes.

Hannelore Kraft, premier of North Rhine Westphalia state, told the mass circulation newspaper Bild, "We will not put up with attacks on our legal system, and our police and will come down hard on both Pro NRW and the Salafists."

Prosecutors said the 25-year-old, who was born in Germany but has Turkish nationality, admitted to attacking the police but denied an intent to murder. He said he knifed the officers because they were protecting people insulting Muslims.

Prosecutor Robin Fassbender said the stabbings could have been fatal.

"If a major blood vessel had been punctured, the victim could have bled to death within minutes," he said.

The Central Council of Muslims in Germany condemned both sides.

"We expressly dissociate ourselves from violent Muslims who urge lynch justice and attack the police," general secretary Nurhan Soykan said in Cologne. She termed Pro NRW a hate group.

Kraft's government has tried to prevent further anti-mosque demonstrations by Pro NRW. But a court cited free-speech grounds to quash a police ban on a similar demonstration by 15 Pro NRW activists Monday. Police said 400 mainly leftist counter-demonstrators yelled abuse at them in the city of Bielefeld without violence.

GREECE | Belgium: ‘Greek Nazi party problematic'

Wednesday, 9 May 2012, 08:09 | Source: Jerusalem Post |

Belgium regards with “concern and regret” the electoral gains of Greece’s “Nazi” party, Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said on Monday.

Reynders was commenting on the entrance of the Golden Dawn far-right party into the Hellenic Parliament, after winning 7 percent of the vote in Greece’s general election on Sunday.

Belgium chairs the intergovernmental Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education.

In an interview with Joods Actueel, Belgium’s leading Jewish publication, Reynders said the party’s electoral success was a cause for concern. “This is not just a rightist party – it’s actually a Nazi party,” he said.

Reynders spoke on Monday as a guest of Flanders’s Forum of Jewish Organizations, at a ceremony commemorating the deportation of Antwerp’s Jews to Auschwitz.

“Populist parties often do well in times of crisis,” he said. “But this party, which uses such obvious references to the Nazis, is very problematic.”

The Golden Dawn party scored 0.29% of the vote in the last election in 2009.

The Golden Dawn Party describes itself as “patriotic” and “nationalist.” It opposes immigration and authorities believe its activists regularly assault immigrants at random. Party spokesmen deny it is neo-Nazi or racist.

The party logo has been likened to a swastika, although officials maintain it is the ancient Greek meander symbol.

LATVIA | Nazi youth group on EU funded council

Monday, 7 May 2012, 11:32 | Source: Jewish Chronicle |

A Lithuanian neo-Nazi youth group has been adopted onto a council which receives European Union funding.

The Union of Lithuanian Nationalist Youth (ULNY) was unanimously elected to the Lithuanian Council of Youth Organisations at a national conference last weekend.

ULNY is one of the leading organisers of Vilnius's annual Independence Day neo-Nazi march. International petitions were launched calling for this year's event, which took place on March 11, to be cancelled.

The LCYO umbrella group is the largest non-governmental youth organisation in Lithuania and is financially backed by both the government and the EU. It is made up of 64 groups and has a membership of more than 200,000 people.

The move means the fascist ULNY has equal footing with student groups and social organisations.

LCYO president Loreta Senkutė told Lithuanian media that the ULNY had explained its work before the vote took place and had received "great support".

There were 19 votes in favour of the ULNY's membership, with none against, and seven abstentions.

USA | JT Ready’s Last Rant

Monday, 7 May 2012, 10:55 | Source: TPM |

Border vigilante JT Ready poses in this photo dated Jan. 15, 2011. On his Flickr stream, he described the helicopter as belonging to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.Border vigilante JT Ready poses in this photo dated Jan. 15, 2011. On his Flickr stream, he described the helicopter as belonging to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

By Nick R Martin

A full three months before what police said was his fatal rampage this week, Arizona white supremacist JT Ready spilled his guts to TPM.

Ready was angry and wanted to be understood. He was running as a long shot candidate for sheriff of Pinal County, Ariz., but he was tired of being seen as a caricature.

On Jan. 23, following an interview by phone about his candidacy , the border vigilante and longtime neo-Nazi sent an email to TPM that totaled more than 4,800 words. It was obviously written in advance, but it revealed bits of his life story and told how he became arguably the loudest racist in the state.

On Wednesday, authorities said Ready walked into a house in a suburb east of Phoenix and opened fire, killing four people, including his girlfriend and a toddler, before killing himself.

Far from disabusing anyone of the idea he was bigot, Ready’s email was filled with invectives about Jews and immigrants. But it detailed the politicians and events he said helped him find his way to extremism over the years.

“I was not born with a Klan robe on,” he wrote. “Contrary to popular belief, my mother did not Sieg Heil! a bottle into my chubby cherub face with Nazi zeal. I was actually raised pretty liberal and in a democrat home with multiculturalism all around us. Zionists even. But all was not right in Disneyland.”

The same lengthy rant he sent by email was also published in a corner of the website Ready maintained for his militia-style border watch group, which he called the U.S. Border Guard. That website disappeared this week following his death. The only thing left was a message that said the site had been “suspended indefinitely out of respect for the family and friends of the deceased.”

In light of these events, TPM is publishing some of the emails key excerpts, which either show his connections with mainstream politicians in Arizona or else demonstrate his awareness that he and his group were being watched by law enforcement.

Some of the events he described in the email have not been independently verified. Others, like his relationship with former state Sen. Russell Pearce, are well documented .

Be warned, some of the text below is filled with language that may be offensive. The email was also written in an unusual style with certain internet URLs written in the middle of sentences rather than included as links. Those URLs have been removed for clarity.

Ready was often on the fringes of Arizona politics and aspired to someday hold elected office. Here, he named the people who helped him with those ambitions, including a religious and political fundraiser.

I became the fastest promoted CS3 within Jay Mount’s conservative fundraising power wagon MDS. I started my own charity “Manna for Mesa” and fed hordes of homeless. I worked tirelessly in Mormon charitable endeavors. Still, friends and neighbors considered me an opinion molder and prodded me into local politics. From President of the Mesa Community College Republican’s Club, to shadowing elected officials such as former Speaker of the House Jeff Groscost who took me under their wing, to working my way up the food chain in the state republican party with Senator Russell Pearce, I had an innate knack for delivering powerful speeches, winning debates, and delivering one line knock out blows to political rivals. I became a precinct committeeman, precinct captain, county delegate, state delegate, and national delegate alternate as well as making a strong show in a city council race where I came in ahead of a well-funded Latina activist in a largely Hispanic district.

Ready claimed, even beyond his politics, his extremism was mentored by then-state Sen. Russell Pearce.

My leap into the extremist right was more of a push off the cliff than a preplanned adventure, however. Having the tutelage of Senate President Russell Keith Pearce for years, I knew very well how to work fringe elements slowly into the system. I even raised money for body armor for Israeli settlers and helped raise a bi-racial step-daughter for five years. I was not born with a Klan robe on. Contrary to popular belief, my mother did not Sieg Heil! a bottle into my chubby cherub face with Nazi zeal. I was actually raised pretty liberal and in a democrat home with multiculturalism all around us. Zionists even. But all was not right in Disneyland. No matter how much appeasement and concessions were made, the Zionist fanatics and leftist loons had a fever pitch and blood lust against all patriots who worked to save America and secure the borders. Make believe memes such as “racist”, “neo-Nazi”, and “xenophobic”, were like I.E.D.s going off at every turn no matter how much one tried to avoid them.

He boasted that his militia-style group, called the U.S. Border Guard, which patrolled the desert between Phoenix and Tucson looking for undocumented immigrants, had never been in trouble with the law.

Despite all the naysayers who cried that we were going to get killed or thrown in prison, Operation Line In the Sand was a resounding success. On the very first weekend of operations which included the public and media, we netted three smugglers and a dead body to boot. More importantly, we showed that a diverse group of citizens could come together, arm themselves, and halt the narco-terrorists. We proved that all the law enforcement who were too afraid to leave their air-conditioned cruisers, little-less actively patrol with assault weapons against deadly sicarios, could in fact be done with the proper willpower. And we did it all with meager resources to boot! The U.S. Border Guard volunteer Border Rangers have been going strong for going on two years now with no arrests or felonies committed by members and no fatalities.

Ready described his fellow neo-Nazi Jeffery Harbin, who was caught transporting homemade bombs for an operation on the border in 2011 and later sentenced to two years in prison, as a “patriot and a hero.”

The three individuals venturing miles behind narco-terrorist controlled territory were Jeff Harbin, Harry H. Hughes III, and myself. Jeff would later go on to be entrapped in an F.B.I. sting operation utilizing a paid agent provocateur who lured this young patriotic American into bringing makeshift plastic pipe bombs to battle the heavily armed cartel on the border. In another time, Jeff Harbin would have been hailed as a patriot and a hero. In this day and age of deceit where media pundits ignore rape trees and exaggerate fictitious “racism” nonstop, this young man was fed to the wolves and now spends his days in an unnamed federal prison complex somewhere.

GREECE | Be afraid, Greek nazis warn rivals

Monday, 7 May 2012, 10:38 | Source: Bangkok Post |

The Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn warned rivals and reformers yesterday that "the time for fear has come" after exit polls showed them securing their entry in parliament for the first time in nearly 40 years.

"The time for fear has come for those who betrayed this homeland," Golden Dawn leader Nikos Michaloliakos told a news conference at an Athens hotel, flanked by menacing shaven-headed young men.

"We are coming," the 55-year-old said as supporters threw firecrackers outside.

According to updated exit polls, the once-marginal party will end up winning over six percent of the vote and sending 19 deputies to the 300-seat parliament on a wave of immigration and crime fears, as well as anti-austerity anger.

Exulting in the apparent breakthrough, Michaloliakos quoted Julius Caesar: "Veni, Vidi, Vici" – I came, I saw, I conquered.

Michaloliakos said his party would fight against "world usurers" and the "slavery" of an EU-IMF loan agreement which he likened to a "dictatorship".

"Greece is only the beginning," he shouted at reporters as he walked to the news conference, accusing foreign media of spreading lies about his movement.

At the last general election in 2009, the virulently anti-immigrant group had scored just 0.29 percent.

Once part of the country's political fringe, the Hryssi Avgi (Golden Dawn) had already made headlines in 2010 by electing Michaloliakos, 55, to Athens' city council on a wave of anti-immigration tension in the capital's poorer districts.

Shortly after being elected to the council thanks to more than 10,000 votes in the Greek capital, Michaloliakos made waves by giving two fascist salutes captured by a television camera.

A mathematician, Michaloliakos has said Greece could survive "very nicely" without the EU-IMF recovery deal.

"Certainly we should break the agreement," he told the Athens News English-language weekly last month.

"After that, we will survive very nicely. Greece is a rich country," he said, adding that the country would not necessarily have to return to the drachma.

On his agenda, Michaloliakos said his focus would be on "national issues, social issues, the problem of illegal immigration, attribution of responsibility for all scandals."

All illegal migrants "should leave our country," he said.

Golden Dawn has strengthened on the back of the country's deep economic crisis – it has been bailed out twice – with unemployment at 20 percent and poverty rising.

It has portrayed immigrants as stealing Greeks' jobs and as being responsible for a wave of crime, as the country is the first point of entry for many illegal migrants into the European Union.

The mainstream parties on the right, including New Democracy of the country's likely next prime minister Antonis Samaras, have been forced to boost their own anti-migration rhetoric to keep up.

The outgoing coalition government planned a network of detention camps around the country to hold migrants earmarked for repatriation, and its socialist predecessors began building a wire fence on the Greek-Turkish border as a deterrent.

With Greece the main entry-point for illegal migrants into Europe, thousands of migrants unable to cross to other EU states due to legal constraints have created urban ghettos in Athens, Patras and other cities.

Hostility from local residents has spiked in recent months with the deterioration of an economic crisis that has brought recession and hundreds of thousands of job losses in Greece.

FRANCE | Hollande wins: the loony far-right already on the attack

Sunday, 6 May 2012, 21:59 | Source: Hope not hate |

François Hollande has walloped incumbent Nicolas Sarkosy to become France's new president.

On exit polls – not the official interior ministry stats – Hollande has taken 51.9% of the vote compared with 48% – on an 80% voter turnout – for Sarkozy whose policies have been those of ripping apart the country's large and efficient public sector and attempting to dump the blame for economic and social problems on immigrants and Muslims.

Already the French far-right media morons are out in force, one of them bleating to BBC Radio 5 Live that Hollande "is part of the extreme left" and would "destroy France".

The same observer said not a word about Sarkozy's cynical use of racism and his attempts to reach accommodation with Marine Le Pen's fascist electorate.

Sarkozy has gone. The furniture vans will soon be at the Élysée. The question is now whether that will be for good. If so, Marine Le Pen will work frenziedly to mop up his vote.

Hollande's win is a boost to progressive forces in a western Europe that has gradually swung rightwards and become more xenophobic since the onset of the economic crisis broke five years ago.

GREECE | Nazis win parliament seats

Sunday, 6 May 2012, 21:54 | Source: Hope not hate/The Independent |

The Greek hardcore nazi outfit Golden Dawn has won seats in the Greek parliament for the first time.

Having apparently captured 7%, the nazis – who represent one of the most violent, racist and antisemitic, right-wing extremist formations in Europe – will now be able to don suits and ties and take seats in the 300-seat Athens parliament.

Official projected results showed Evangelos Venizelos' social-democratic PASOK party plunging to third place with 13.6 per cent and 42 seats in the 300-member parliament.

The conservative New Democracy was projected in the lead with 19.18 percent and 109 seats, far below the 151 needed to form a government. The margin of error was 0.5 percentage point. Left-wing Syriza head Alexis Tsipras was second with 16.8 per cent and 51 seats. The Greek Communist Party is estimated to have taken 9%

"A coalition government of the old two-party system would not have sufficient legitimacy or sufficient domestic and international credibility if it would gather a slim majority," Venizelos said. "A government of national unity with the participation by all the parties that favor a European course, regardless of their positions toward the loan agreements, would have meaning."

If borne out by final results, the outcome is devastating for PASOK, which won a landslide victory in 2009 with more than 43 percent of the vote.

Voters outraged by Greece's protracted financial crisis and the austerity measures imposed in return for international bailouts punished both main parties, turning to smaller anti-bailout groups instead. The left-wing Syriza, which was projected in second place with 16.3 percent and 50 seats, has been strongly opposed to Greece's bailout agreements.

"For us in PASOK, today is particularly painful," Venizelos said. "We knew the price would be heavy and we had undertaken for a long time to bear it."

Official results are expected later tonight.

EUROPE | Elections across Europe

Sunday, 6 May 2012, 21:37 | Source: Hope not hate |

By Graeme Atkinson

Today will see a whole batch of elections across Europe with voters going to the polls in:

France – presidential, round two

Greece – national parliamentary

Germany – regional election in Schleswig-Holstein

Italy – town hall election

Serbia – national parliamentary

Of especial interest must be the ballots in France and Greece.

In France, the redistribution of huge chunks of fascist Front National (FN) leader Marine Le Pen's 6.4 million first round votes will play a key part in deciding whether the next tenant of the Élysée Palace will be the incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy or his Socialist opponent François Hollande.

With Left Front candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon's almost 4 million votes likely to be gathered up by Hollande, the latter looks a better bet than Sarkozy, a man hated for arrogant personality and his attempts to chop France's social welfare system to pieces. Sarkozy has blatantly played the racist, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim cards in a frenzied bid to mop up the Le Pen vote.

For her part, she has refused to endorse Sarkozy, hoping that a heavy defeat for him enable to emerge as some kind of latter-day Joan of Arc who will "save" the right and France. Already sections of Sarkozy's supporters are toying with the idea of forming local pacts with the FN in readiness for June's parliamentary elections.

This means that even if Sarkozy does scrape a victory, pressures will mount on him inside his rightward-moving party to adopt a more Eurosceptic stance and beef up immigration and law and order policies…all at the same time as launching a frontal assault on the working class, middle class and the farmers via a programme of vicious Tory-style cuts on the public sector and state funding.

In Greece, voters are being told that they face a stark choice between "austerity and mass poverty". Almost all parties contesting the election are opposing "austerity" which has already slashed the fragile, crisis-ravaged Greek economy to the bone. So far, the austerity has increased mass poverty, not reduced it.

Amidst the ongoing political chaos, the openly and self-declared nazi Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi) has crawled out of the woodwork and, with a forecast 5.7%, looks poised to enter the Greek parliament for the first time.

Golden Dawn – which spends most of its time as a gang of shaven-headed, baseball bat-wielding thugs that carries out terror bombings and batters immigrants, Jews and left-wingers and trade unionists – is now trying to present itself as socially responsible by going around offering themselves as bodyguards to escort the (white) elderly to ATM machines, grocery shopping and crossing the road.

The two main parties – the social-democratic PASOK and the right-wing conservative New Democracy – look set to garner less than 40% between them, scotching the chances of an austerity-supporting "grand coalition". It is unlikely that any one will want to climb into bed with Golden Dawn for starters.

Significantly, the opinion polls indicate that the combined vote to the left of PASOK is close to 30%, a score not seen for decades. This is not a surprise as these parties are projecting positive ideas of a new Greece based on hope and social solidarity and not the divisive hate-filled drivel propounded by the Golden Dawn nazis.

Time may be running out.

A majority of Greeks still support membership of the euro and the euro-bail out but that support has been waning rapidly as the Greek economy crumbles. 22 percent of all Greeks and a staggering 50% of the youth are unemployed in the country's fifth year of economic crisis.

A key need now is for the building of a mass united anti-fascist movement to combat the growing grassroots presence of Golden Dawn as it seeks to capitalise from an impending car crash of Greek society.

Another danger that nobody is mentioning, but present nevertheless, is the possibly furious reaction of the coup-happy and far-right-inclined Greek military and police if political collapse is thrown into the mix with the country's incipient economic disintegration. A rerun of the brutal 1967 "Colonel's coup" can not be ruled out even if it can't be ruled in.

GERMANY | Fritz Theilen: Member of the Edelweiss Pirates, the children who resisted Hitler

Friday, 4 May 2012, 23:58 | Source: The Independent |

Fritz Theilen was a working class lad, who as a leading member of the anti-Nazi Edelweiss Pirates narrowly escaped public execution. He was born in the Ehrenfeld district of Cologne, an industrial, working-class area, in 1927. Like most other school boys he was enrolled in the Hitler Youth. He was expelled in 1940 for insubordination but on leaving school at 14 he was taken on as an apprentice toolmaker by Ford motors, which had opened in Cologne in 1931. There he saw the exploitation of slave labourers.

He increasingly sought contact with other youngsters who rejected the regimentation and militarisation of youth. Disillusionment was spreading in the city, which was bombed 55 times. From disparate groups the Edelweiss Pirates emerged, Theilen joining in 1942. There were such groups in various parts of Germany so called because of their Edelweiss badge, often hidden behind their coat lapels. In many cases they came together before the outbreak of the war and went camping together at weekends. Nazi repression increased their political orientation.

Theilen was arrested in 1943 and taken to the Gestapo headquarters in the centre of Cologne, where he was brutally tortured. Released after a few weeks, he did not give up but instead became more active. Among the many activities of his group of 128 Germans and foreigners (according to the Gestapo) were painting anti-regime slogans on walls and rail wagons, listening to the BBC and attempting to disseminate the news, helping escaped prisoners of war, slave labourers and Jews, ambushing Hitler Youth patrols and beating them up, even attacking local Nazi officials. Any of these could have resulted in a death sentence.

By this time Theilen was living with others in the ruins of the city, stealing and looting to survive. He was re-arrested in a Gestapo raid in 1944and moved from one place of confinement to another, ending up in a sub-camp of the notorious Dachau. He escaped, however, and spent the last months of the war in hiding. Some other members of the group were not as lucky; 13 of them, some as young as 16, were publicly hanged in Cologne on 10 November 1944.

Theilen returned to a devastated Cologne in August 1945. He was ready to work again for Ford, whose factory, in spite of the heavy bombing of Cologne, had got off relatively lightly. Production restarted in May 1945 with truck manufacture. However, Theilen found that in some quarters he was regarded as a criminal and a traitor and was apparently only re-employed, in 1946, with the help of the British occupation authorities.

He recalled that he found all the old Nazis still there; in this setting he felt ill at ease and he left, returning in 1960. He joined the Social Democratic Party. Once retired, he joined two other survivors in going to schools to talk to the pupils about his experiences, and published his memoirs in 1984.

Controversy surrounded his claims, and those of his companions, to have been Widerstandskämpfer [resistance fighters] rather than just disaffected youngsters and criminals. Theilen fought several legal battles and won them all. "I never thought I would have to justify myself," he said. The group inspired pieces of music, a stage and radio play and a film. In 2005, at a public ceremony, the survivors were recognised and Niko von Glasow-Brücher's film Edelweißpiraten reached the cinemas. The bravery of Theilen and the four other survivors was finally rewarded, in April 2011, when Cologne's governing mayor, Jürgen Roters, presented them with the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. In the last years of his life, Fritz Theilen lived in the village of Frauwüllesheim, where he died suddenly of a stroke.

David Childs

Fritz Theilen, tool maker and anti-Nazi activist: born Cologne 27 September 1927; died Frauwüllesheim 18 April 2012.

GREECE | As Athens's Woes Grow, Neo-Nazis Gain Clout

Friday, 4 May 2012, 09:34 | Source: WSJ |

After two years of government cutbacks brought on by Greece's debt crisis, the signs of social decay are everywhere in Athens and the mood in the capital is despondent.

Downtown Athens today is a shadow of its former self. Its streets, formerly once lined with crowded elegant stores and vibrant cafés, are now scarred by shuttered shopfronts, crime, homelessness and periodic rioting.

Businesses are closing at a record pace, and unemployment in the greater Athens area has soared to more than 23%, above the national average. Regular demonstrations have frightened away tourists, and thousands of the city's hotels and retailers are teetering on the verge of bankruptcy.

Beyond the social turmoil, this new reality presents a particular political problem for Greece's main conservative party, New Democracy, which hopes to win Sunday's parliamentary election and lead the next governing coalition. Athens has always been their stronghold, but the city's unhappy residents are abandoning them for fringe parties of the right and left, including the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn.

The capital, the core of a wider metropolitan area of some three million inhabitants, has some 700,000 residents and 17 parliamentary seats up for grabs. It serves as a bellwether for broader discontent over the country's austerity policies and, more specifically, over Greece's two leading political parties. The New Democracy and the Socialist Pasok parties have governed Greece for much of the past four decades and are blamed for the country's economic crisis.

Although New Democracy is expected to emerge as the biggest party, the rise of groups like Golden Dawn is cutting into its vote share, of the vote, making it harder to muster a majority in Parliament. At the least, it will have to renew its coalition with the Socialists, and will likely be forced to govern while facing raucous, consistent opposition dominated by far-left and far-right groups firmly opposed to austerity measures.

The government, in response to the decline of the city's center, has implemented increased police patrols, a three-year rebuilding plan and fresh promises to relocate thousands of illegal immigrants to detention camps. around the country. But for many Athenians, those promises come as this is too little, too late.

"I'm no fascist, but this time I'll vote for Golden Dawn just to shake up the dirty political system," said Kostas Kalatzakos, owner of a small store in Athens. "Robbers have broken into my shop three times in the past two years, and the last time around the police sounded annoyed when I called them to come and investigate. Of course nobody is ever caught."

With such newfound supporters, Golden Dawn, using neo-Nazi rhetoric and a logo of an ancient symbol resembling the swastika, is poised to enter Parliament for the first time. Recent public-opinion pPolls show support for Golden Dawn, hovering between 5% and 6%, well above the 3% minimum threshold needed to enter Parliament and potentially securing them as many as 15 seats in Greece's 300-member legislature.

The party advocates the immediate expulsion of all illegal immigrants and "Jobs for Greeks." Its platform states that e country's borders with Turkey should be sealed with land mines. Immigrant groups have accused Golden Dawn members of abuse, beatings with iron rods and threats of reprisals when the immigrants speak out. The party denies those allegations.

Its economic manifesto includes foregoing all debt repayments, forming "special teams" to investigate corrupt practices, arresting and imprisoning politicians and state servants found guilty of economic mismanagement, nationalizing banks, and returning "to traditional family values."

Such rightist ideology until recently has won gained little traction in Greece. In the 2009 elections, Golden Dawn managed a meager just 0.23% of the vote. In 2010, it the party was able to take took a seat on the Athens city council, its first ever electoral victory. A variety of community initiatives, such as having party members escort elderly residents to the bank and providing food for the needy, those in need, have helped win over local residents.

"Two very mean-looking but polite boys came with me at the ATM to pick up my pension and then they brought me back home carrying the groceries to my apartment," said 72-year-old Anastasia Petikari, a retired teacher in Athens. "I felt very sorry about this, but to tell you the truth I also felt secure. This country is in a pitiful state."

She declined to say which party she would support in the elections.

Ioannis Vourdis, a candidate for the Athens parliamentary district with Golden Dawn, said: "such programs have long been used by the party to build votes. Our support increased after people saw that we help, and not just during the election period. This has been happening for years."

Harris Mylonas, assistant professor of Political Science at George Washington University, says that a lack of a viable immigrant-integration policy, along with the country' economic problems, have provided fertile ground for a radicalized Greek society. "This has made it possible for parties such as Golden Dawn to appear as the defenders of the Greek people against the rest." he said.

In this case, "the rest" seems to include some established elected political leaders.

USA | Gilbert shootings: killer was a nazi

Thursday, 3 May 2012, 09:25 | Sources: Eric O'Neill/ |

J T Ready
J T Ready

A border militia leader on Wednesday shot and killed four people at a Gilbert home, including a toddler, before committing suicide, sources said.

Sources identified the shooter as Jason "J.T." Ready, a reputed neo-Nazi who made headlines when he launched a militia movement to patrol the Arizona desert to hunt for illegal immigrants and drug smugglers.

Authorities have not identified the other victims, but reached by phone Wednesday afternoon, Hugo Mederos said the victims were his ex-wife, Lisa; their daughter, Amber; Amber's boyfriend, whose name The Republic is withholding until his next of kin could be notified, and Amber's 18-month-old baby, Lilly.

Mederos, who lives in Tampa, said Ready lived at the home with his girlfriend, Lisa.

Ready was a former Marine who headed the U.S. Border Guard, a militia-style group that routinely performed armed patrols in the southern Arizona desert. Early this year, Ready had formed an exploratory committee for a run as Pinal County sheriff.

In a statement of organization filed Jan. 11, Amber Mederos was listed as treasurer of the Committee to Elect J.T. Ready. Her name was nowhere to be found in amended paperwork filed March 12.

Gilbert police spokesman Sgt. Bill Balafas said the gunman's motives is unknown. Authorities recovered two handguns and a shotgun from the scene, Balafas said.

Members of the anti-terrorism task force are at the scene and providing personnel to the Gilbert Police Department, according to an FBI spokesman.

Gilbert Fire Department's hazardous materials team went to check on the two 55-gallon drums found on the property and determined they do not represent an immediate threat. But the bomb squad encountered munitions in the house, and a decision was made to bring in federal agents to remove them and treat them as evidence.

The shootings occurred sometime after 1 p.m. in a residential area in the 500 block of West Tumbleweed Road, near Warner and Cooper roads.

Balafas said the youngest victim was taken from the scene to Maricopa Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.

"There were signs of life, that's why we transported her," Balafas said. "This is a domestic situation. We do have a witness that our investigators are interviewing."

Balafas said the witness saw at least part of the incident.

DeAnn Rawson, 38, who has lived in the Lago Estancia neighborhood for 13 years, said she was "sick to my stomach, as you can tell everyone driving by is absolutely shocked."

Rawson stood on a street corner and answered drivers who rolled down their windows to ask what happened.

"I would have come and got her," Rawson said of the youngest victim. "It makes me mad. I can't have children, and you have other people doing things that are insane."

Gary Davis, who also lives in the neighborhood, stood outside Wednesday afternoon, watching the commotion.

"There's no excuse for taking a child's life," Davis said. "Nothing ever happens in this neighborhood. It's a shock to us."

Mesquite Junior High School, along with nearby Gilbert Elementary School, was placed on "modified lockdown" status -- meaning classes go on as normal, but students are not allowed to leave and no one is allowed to enter the building --- until 2 p.m.

Witnesses in the neighborhood said a SWAT team sealed off part of the area and that investigators told residents to remain indoors.

Nearly an hour after the shootings occurred, police were milling around the neighborhood of stucco homes with red-tile roofs. Police tape cordoned off three separate areas of Tumbleweed Road.

GERMANY | Far right in green packaging

Wednesday, 2 May 2012, 15:17 | Source: |

Right-wing extremists linked to the far right NPD are increasingly making hay in politically innocuous organic farming, which they use as a means to spread neo-Nazi ideas in green packaging.

By Christian Thiele and Marlene Weiss

Green work pants, plaid flannel shirt: Hans-Guenter Laimer is what people in Lower Bavaria is called a gstandns Mannsbuid, “a real guy”. He gets down off his tractor and greets me with a friendly “Hello”, before unlocking the smart and tidy farm shop, which is run by his wife. Everything on offer here comes from the local area. On Open Days at Laimer’s farm, a flute group plays, a storyteller tells stories and there’s a children's flea market.

The place seems like a small organic idyll of the kind that might inspire many environmentalists, only Laimer has nothing to do with the Greens. Instead he is on the board of the Midgard Association, which publishesUmwelt & Aktiv – a magazine with articles on preserving cherries and forest nurseries that would be all about organic farming, were it not for occasional stories about the Germanic “Julfest” and articles praising the agricultural policy of the NPD [ the extreme right National Democratic Party of Germany]. In fact, the NPD sells the publication as a promotional tool over the Internet, and at one point Laimer ran for the party in a district election.

Visit the Umwelt & Aktiv website and you will read: “Our goal is to raise awareness of animal welfare, environmental protection and homeland security…” Not surprisingly, the Bavarian Office for the Protection of the German Constitution believes it “is clearly an NPD propaganda sheet in disguise.” Laimer, however, denies any involvement in the magazine, and is quick to take issue with an organic industry that is completely dominated by the left. “What makes my cucumbers different from ones that are grown by the Greens?”

Nature protection has never been the sole preserve of the Greens. The movement emerged in the 19th Century in protest against industrialisation. Under National Socialism it was one of the key issues, and in 1933 and 1935 the Reich animal welfare and Reich nature protection laws were passed. For the National Socialists, conservation, protection of heritage and blood-and-soil ideology belonged together. “In almost all areas of National Socialist ideology there has always been a point of contact with nature conservation,” explains historian Nils Franke, who is also the author of a brochure, Natural protection against right-wing extremism, which aims to help nature and environmental groups defend themselves against subversion from the right.

In view of the attention paid to environmental issues in German society, Franke believes that the NPD has now adopted a strategy of presenting right-wing ideas in innocent green packaging, that will enable it to move into the mainstream. One area where this approach has proved to be effective is in “Mecklenburg’s Switzerland”, between Rostock and Schwerin, where a “drop-out” movement, started by families that wanted to live a “natural”, “folk-centred” life, has emerged since 1989.

“Environmental issues are becoming ever more important for the right-wing extremists,” says one employee of the Regional Centre for Democratic Culture in Roggentin, Mecklenburg. “They want people not to think ‘politics’ when they hear the word ‘NPD’. They want to build bridges into the lives of citizens that are as inconspicuous as possible.” A neighbour who lives nearby one of the “drop-out” communities told us of men in bomber jackets and combat boots that come regularly from around the country to light torches and sing nationalist songs. He also remarked that he regularly has coffee with a man from the Office for the Protection of the Constitution who drops in every now and then to ask if there is anything new.

For University of Rostock political scientist Gudrun Heinrich, who published a book entitled Brown Ecologists in collaboration with the Heinrich Boell Foundation earlier this year: “The NPD here is closely interwoven with local co-ops that have enabled it to become deeply rooted in rural areas.”

No doubt this is one of the reasons why organic building materials dealer Huwald Fröhlich and the organic farmer Helmut Ernst have chosen to settle in Mecklenburg’s Switzerland. In the NPD-related anthology Opposition for Germany, Froehlich argues that humanism and internationalism are “against nature in their essence”, and demands a return to Nordic virtues and regional self-sufficiency. Ernst and Fröhlich are members of the organic farming association “Biopark”, one of the largest organic farmers’ groups in Germany, which has its own stores and also supplies Germany’s largest supermarket chain Edeka.

Biopark managing director Delia Micklich told us she only became aware that Ernst, Fröhlich and possibly other ‘brown’ organic farmers were involved in the association in early 2011. She adds: “I am absolutely opposed to the ideology of these people, and I fully understand that certain consumers may want to avoid buying Biopark for this reason.” However, the NPD has a seat in the regional parliament, and Micklich has no legal recourse against far-right farmers if their farms are well managed. “Our association does not certify the political views of our members. We only certify organic farming methods,” she explains. “Only if the party is banned will we have a handle against such people.”

FRANCE | Front National leader refuses to choose between Sarkozy and Hollande

Wednesday, 2 May 2012, 00:34 | Source: Hope not hate |

Jean-Yves Camus reports from Paris

Yesterday, 1 May, around 7,000 activists of the right-wing extremist Front National (FN) gathered in central Paris for their annual Joan of Arc rally. This increase of at least 50% over last year is probably due to the good result of Marine Le Pen in the presidential election.

Both the crowd and the media were there to hear Le Pen saying for whom she would vote for – and tell her followers who to vote for – in the second ballot of the presidential election. Her personal choice was highly predictable: a blank vote.

As for the FN’s activists, they were told that they could take their pick between Sarkozy, Hollande, a blank vote or just staying home. However, it was clear from her one-hour speech that she criticised the incumbent Sarkozy more harshly than she attacked the Left.

The reason is tactical. If Sarkozy is re-elected, his leadership over the Right will be reinforced and the FN will have to wait for months or even years, before the French are again disillusioned with his policies. If the Socialist candidate wins, the internal strife within the Right will probably lead to a split in Sarkozy’s conservative UMP, which spans from centre-right liberals to the arch-conservative nationalists of the Droite populaire faction.

The topic that may spark the split is precisely that of possible agreements between the UMP and the FN, which some supporters of Sarkozy favour and which others staunchly oppose. This is the reason why Le Pen asked the “rank and file militants” as well as the “local elected officials” of Sarkozy’s party, to push their leaders for the signing such agreements.

Basically, the majority of FN voters belong to the wider ideological Right and will support Sarkozy but many in the party apparatus have chosen to cast a “revolutionary vote” for the Left, just to get rid of a President that Le Pen said is a “disgrace to the French people”.

To those who continue to use wishful thinking and pretend that Marine Le Pen’s Front national has adopted a respectable stand on major issues, her speech proved the opposite. She again demanded “zero immigration”, “national preference” in housing and on the jobs market and rejection of multiculturalism and especially Islam, not Islamism.

To further demonstrate that the FN’s activists are still diehard extremists, one only had to look at the many radicals and skinheads marching behind Le Pen. The crew of the Flemish VRT TV network, which was filming there, had to head back home with their van plastered with stickers from the antisemitic, fascist group Œuvre française and from the nazi Autonomous Nationalists.

For Jean-Yves Camus' analysis of the first round presidential vote, be sure to read the May 2012 edition of Hope not hate magazine.

FRANCE | France takes to streets as Le Pen refuses to back Sarkozy

Tuesday, 1 May 2012, 18:17 | Sources: Various, including Le Monde and the BBC |

By Graeme Atkinson

France took to the streets in traditional labour and trade union movement demonstrations today.

Across the country, more than three-quarters of a million people rallied to the calls of the left to back the progressive marches and rallies of the major trade union federations, – with 250,000 demonstrating in Paris alone – calling for an end to attempts to slash the social State to pieces and for opposition to the conservative Union for a Popular Movement and the right-wing extremist, racist Front National.

For the FN and its media-hungry candidate Marine Le Pen, the day was not quite what she had hoped for, her party only able to draw a rather lamentable 7,000 to its showbiz-style Joan of Arc "event" near the Paris Opera. Yet, as usual, she still collared most of the media attention.

At her rally, Le Pen thundered that her "navy blue" front would not be endorsing any of her first round presidential election opponents, thus sinking any hopes of reelection that Nicolas Sarkozy – who, at 46.5% in the polls trails a whole 7 points behind his Socialist opponent François Hollande – might have entertained.

Le Pen, whose 17.9 percent score in an April 22 first-round vote has made her voters a key factor in Sunday’s runoff between Hollande and Sarkozy, said she could back neither of them. “On Sunday, I will vote blank…I have made my choice. Each of you will make yours.”

Clearly, her hope is that a heavy defeat for the right will leave Sarkozy marooned and clear the way for her to lead the opposition to a new "left" president…even at the price of changing her party's name to something more anodyne and less publicly associated with things her party is notorious for: links to fascist parties across Europe, violence, antisemitism, racism and other hate prejudices together with virulent opposition to organised labour.

FRANCE | In France, it all comes down to Marine Le Pen

Tuesday, 1 May 2012, 14:18 | Source: Jerusalem Post |

Just one week before the presidential second and final round of the election, one name is on all French lips: Marine Le Pen, the 43-year-old leader of the extreme right-wing National Front party who will decide whom to support on May 6 – either Nicolas Sarkozy, the outgoing president and candidate of the moderate-right party UMP who has the support of 44 percent of the public according to the latest polls, or his rival with 56% of the polls, the candidate of the Socialist Party François Hollande.

The irony of the situation is that the name UMP, which stand for “Union pour un Mouvement Populaire,” was given in 2002 to the moderate right-wing party of former president Jacques Chirac in order to stop the rise of National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, Marine’s father.

Today, the UMP desperately needs the support of MLP (Marine Le Pen), in order to keep alive a slim chance of winning, something that is far from being acquired.

According to the daily paper Le Monde, just the opposite is occurring, in that the strategy of the National Front is set to implode the right-wing. There is a new electoral balance never before considered by the extreme right-wing in the French political landscape. If their core support is confirmed in the first round of the coming legislative elections, scheduled for June 10, the National Front votes might be present in more than 350 of the over 500 election constituencies for the second round of these elections a week later. The objective will be to destabilize the UMP, threatened by a record number of three-way contests.

According to experts, the National Front is succeeding in places outside the metropolitan areas. According to an analysis by the emographers/geographers Hervé Le Bras and Jacques Lévy published in Le Monde, “It is more than socioeconomic distinctions, or sociocultural ones; it is the location of voter homes that seems to be the predictive element of the political orientation. There is a radicalization: Refusal of the National Front in urban zones and support outside them.”

This electoral geography analysis explains why the National Front is marching toward the legislative elections with confidence. It has a historical window to have its deputies elected, and to fulfill its ambition to get at least 15 deputies, the minimum number required to have a parliamentary group at the National Assembly. With that in mind, the National Front is betting on the defeat of Nicolas Sarkozy.

For the third and final round of the elections, the National Front has decided to change its name to “Rassemblement Bleu Marine” (the Navy Blue Union), despite the opposition of the father of the movement, Jean-Marie le Pen.

“To abandon the name National means for the National Front to remove their extremist image,” explained branding specialist Marcel Botton, adding that “the blue remains a color associated with the right-wing and using a color name as a brand name is more modern, as Orange has proven.”

Marine Le Pen wants to get the most out of the dynamics of the presidential elections and to “de-Frontize” her candidates, since the name National Front is quite unpopular, so she can be pivotal in the future reconstruction of the right-wing.

That’s why, between the two rounds, nothing will be done to support Nicolas Sarkozy, the man that the National Front has always considered as the main adversary, though she will not give any voting directives to her supporters.

Those close to her have said it publicly: At the second round, she will either abstain or vote with a blank ballot.

A representative of the National Front, M. Philippot said: “We make no difference between François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy; between now and May 6, we will be in opposition to ‘Sarkhollande.’” Most experts agree that Marine Le Pen – who is considered as “modern” by some of the younger generation, for whom Sarkozy is the ‘President of the Rich’ – has everything to win by causing Sarkozy to lose.

Even though she shares with him what he calls “the terrorism of the media system” (the media in general is against both of them), she will then become an opposition force that cannot be ignored. It seems likely that Tuesday, at her rally on May 1 at Place de l’Opéra, she will call to cast a blank vote or to abstain.

If the UMP does not “explode,” it will “go for a walk across the desert,” but not disappear, since it is a redoubtable war machine whose star leaders are already organizing their fight in the opposition.

“If the left wins, there will be immigration with no control, a furious and crazy recession in the economy; it is suicide for the country and shame in face of Europe with the planned revision to the Treaty of Europe,” said Marine Le Pen.

For Natasha, a 43-year-old supporter of Sarkozy from Noisy-le-Roi near Versailles, “he is like Louis XVI, the only one to work, and he’s going to have his head cut off and pay the price for the others.