May 31, 2007

The 'ever-widening hellhole, from the sound of Bow Bells eastwards, all the way to Essex'

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Margaret Hodge, MP for Barking, having migrated from Islington to this east London constituency, has for some time now trained her fire on immigrants. Barking is a Labour stronghold, even though the racist British National Party won some seats there in last year's council elections.

I am unable to offer any answer to the question as to why Hodge made an anti-immigrant outburst in a recent article of hers for the Observer, entitled "A message to my fellow immigrants". She attempts to place us on the defensive in her first paragraph. "In our open, tolerant country," she writes, "there are, thankfully, few issues that remain taboo. But, motivated by the fear of both legitimising racism and encouraging the extreme right, migration is one."

This is absolute nonsense. Not a week passes in which immigration is not central to the news and current affairs agenda. Statistics and opinions abound. Predictions of numbers that will arrive in the UK are plastered across the pages of the press, adorned by commentators who, in large measure, tempt white people to vent their collective spleen against immigrants.

Hodge is the latest in a long line to encourage this tendency. With one sweep of the pen, she suggests that only white families in her constituency, and others nearby, "have lived in the area for three generations". She is wrong. Over three generations, black people have settled in the East End of London, in Tiger Bay in Cardiff, and in Bristol and Liverpool, too. As long as we have been here we have been the target of white racism, pointing fingers of blame at us for the misfortunes to which others are prey.

Thousands of seafaring men signed off at these English ports to settle and raise three generations. Ramadhan Hassan was one of them. He arrived from Zanzibar, married into one of the largest clans in Canning Town - the Watsons - and begat one Leila Ramadhan Hassan, who happens to be my wife.

Racism, as we know, is a disease that has deformed political thinking and social behaviour in the East End and beyond. Leila's mother talked until the last hours of her life about how badly she had been treated at Whitechapel Hospital, where she gave birth to her beautiful, bouncing baby girl. She was treated like the shit that was smeared on the blanket given to her when she and Leila were discharged.

She talked bitterly about the abuse thrown at her and her newborn daughter on public transport, in shops and along the East End streets. It was not the idea that we were taking "their" housing, Margaret, but "their" women. "They came to defile our women," is the cry that Margaret invites us to repeat. Racial assaults added to the misery heaped on black men, their women and their offspring. "Half-caste" was a term of racial abuse first coined in the East End of London.

Then Enoch Powell issued the clarion call for the repatriation of all immigrants. Workers at the East End docks where every male member of the Watson clan was employed took to the streets under the slogan "Send them back".

And there is more, much more, Margaret. The term "Paki-bashing" - describing the favourite sport of white, male workers - was invented in your constituency and its surrounds. The game was played after pub closing time, with the heads of Asians used as footballs. Next door to Barking, where the Ford production plant flowered, white workers managed to rename part of the plant "South Africa" because they kept the blacks and Asians confined to the assembly line.

That racist stench of decay that plagued so many white workers drove Mrs Howe and others to leave the East End for ever. We go back for funerals and family celebrations, though aware at all times that we are entering and leaving an ever-widening hellhole, from the sound of Bow Bells eastwards, all the way to Essex.

The housing issue has returned with a bang as whites move further east as a sign of upward mobility, and Asians follow in the same direction. Stories abound of whites getting together to prevent their kith and kin from selling to Asians.

Margaret Hodge avoids these proven examples, opting instead for the fables spread by the BNP. She is supping from a poisoned chalice.

New Statesman

May 30, 2007

Hatewatch - for the week of May 30th 2007

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Skinheads Sentenced For Stomping Murder
Samuel Compton, 27, and Christopher Whitley, 25, were sentenced to more than 20 years in prison for stomping a man to death outside a Phoenix pool hall in 2002...

Child Porn Charges Against Neo-Nazi Leader Detailed
A new court filing reveals sordid details of the federal government's child pornography case against disgraced National Vanguard leader Kevin Strom...

Idaho Shooter Was Aryan Nations Member
Jason Kenneth Hamilton, a card-carrying member of Aryan Nations, killed his wife, a church sexton and a police officer in a shooting spree that wounded three others...

KKK Group Holds Anti-Immigration Rally
More than 150 people gathered to hear a dozen robed members of the Alabama Order of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan hurl racial slurs and epithets at Mexican immigrants...

Anne Frank Memorial Vandalized
A memorial to Holocaust victim Anne Frank was toppled and damaged by vandals two months after being plastered with neo-Nazi stickers...


Back from the dead and facing life - trial recalls horrors of the Klan

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Ex-policeman, 71, accused of 1964 race killings
Victim's brother traced suspect said to be dead

Thomas Moore is looking forward to finally coming face-to-face with James Ford Seale, a Ku Klux Klansman who came back from the dead. "I want to look at him," he said. "I want to tell him about the pain he caused me and my family."

Mr Moore, 63, a retired sergeant-major, recalled the day he found out that Mr Seale was still alive. "I was so happy. We thought he was dead - and so did everyone else."

The trial opens here today of Mr Seale, 71, a former worker in a paper plant, crop-duster and policeman, accused of kidnapping and conspiracy in relation to the murder of two black teenagers in 1964, one of them Mr Moore's brother. According to the indictment, the two 19-year-olds, Charles Moore and Henry Dee, were kidnapped by the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, tortured and dumped in the Mississippi, Moore tied to a jeep engine block, and, according to an FBI informant at the time, still breathing.

The killings marked the beginning of a summer of madness, as the KKK responded to the civil rights movement with the fiery crosses, church bombings and murders depicted in Alan Parker's 1989 film Mississippi Burning.

The Seale prosecution could be among the last of the KKK trials. Although the justice department has promised to re-open cases, witnesses are dying off and files have been lost.

Now living in Colorado, Mr Moore had been brought up in Franklin County, one of the strongholds of the White Knights. He returned in 2005 with a Canadian film-maker, David Ridgen, to investigate the murders. Pulling up at a petrol station for an egg and sausage sandwich, he met by chance a distant cousin, Kenny Byrd.

Mr Moore explained why they were there and said it was a pity that Mr Seale, who had been one of the main suspects, was dead. His family had been saying so since 2000. The local Clarion-Ledger had reported it as fact: so too had the Los Angeles Times. Mr Byrd replied: "Hell no, he lives over there."

Mr Moore traced lost files, spoke to potential witnesses, harassed former Klansmen, mobilised the African-American community and successfully campaigned to have the FBI re-open the case.

Mr Seale is expected to plead not guilty in a trial expected to last about a fortnight. If found guilty, he faces life sentences.

Mississippi is different these days, at least on the surface. It is evident to anyone arriving at the airport at Jackson, now called Jackson-Evers International in recognition of the civil rights leader, Medgar Evers, who was assassinated in 1963. It is evident, too, in the fact that the judge who will try the case is African-American, Henry Wingate.

But Heidi Beirich, deputy director of intelligence at a Jackson-based civil rights group, the Southern Poverty Law Centre, which investigates hate crimes, cautioned that although the KKK and institutionalised racism is mainly a thing of the past, Mississippi still has problems. She noted that when the state voted in 2002 to retain the Confederate flag, a symbol of hate for African-Americans, the divide was on racial grounds. African-Americans in the state continue to live in the poorest areas, with the worst schools.

"As far as the Klan is concerned, its heyday is definitely in the past. It hit its peak in the 1920s at 4 million. The number of Klansmen is way down: we estimate 5,000-6,000. It is not a cohesive organisation any longer: it is fragmented. They are no longer capable of the kind of terror they rained down on the South in the 1950s and 1960s," Ms Beirich said.

But the sense of dread inspired by the KKK has not gone completely. Ridgen, who put together a documentary Mississippi Cold Case, said: "The psychological threat was always there. There was fear every time in Franklin County. We never took the same route. We never told anyone in advance about coming."

At the trial, the key witness is likely to be a former Klansman, Charles Edwards, a suspect at the time, who is expected to give evidence against Mr Seale in return for immunity. Former FBI agents who carried out a fairly thorough investigation at the time are also scheduled to testify. After their investigation in 1964, they handed the case over to the local justice department who, as was not unusual at the time, quickly dropped it.

No real explanation has been given for the killings. Klansmen at the time told the FBI that Mr Dee had been peeping at one of their wives while others alleged gun smuggling into a black church. The indictment suggests otherwise: "The White Knights ... targeted for violence African-Americans they believed were involved in civil rights activity in order to intimidate and retaliate against such individuals."

Mr Dee's sister, Thelma Collins, who now lives in Louisiana, said yesterday she could not remember him being involved in any civil rights activity. "He was quiet, never said much," she recalled. She is saddened that the case has taken 43 years to come to court: "It is pitiful that those boys were killed and no one did anything about it."

Like Mrs Collins, Mr Moore will be given his chance to make a victim's statement in court. He said: "I want to tell how it is to go without a brother, my son without an uncle, how Charles never had the opportunity to make mistakes, to live his life."


The reopening of racist murder cases from the 1960s in the South began in 1990 when a white supremacist, Byron La Beckwith, was indicted and eventually jailed for the assassination in 1963 of Medgar Evers, then chairman in Mississippi of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. This encouraged the FBI and local justice departments to look again at unsolved cases. Since then, there have been six prosecutions in Mississippi, including Mr Seale's today. Authorities in seven states have re-examined a total of 29 killings and made 29 arrests, leading to 22 convictions.

One of the most prominent was the trial and jailing in 2001 of Thomas Blanton and Bobby Frank Cherry for the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, which killed four young girls. The revulsion created by the bombing helped turn public opinion behind the civil rights movement. In 2005, Edgar Ray Killen, 80, was jailed for the murder of the three civil rights activists depicted in Mississippi Burning. But the reality is that there may not be many more cases brought to court: elderly witnesses are dying off and records of crimes have been lost.


'Japanese Schindler' who saved Lithuanian Jews is honoured

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When Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visited the monument of Chiune Sugihara in Lithuania last weekend, many television programmes back in Japan had to run stories explaining who this obscure diplomat was.

It's obvious why the Emperor would be in London yesterday to dine with the Queen but who was Chiune Sugihara?

For years, few Japanese knew the incredible story of how the man dubbed "Japan's Schindler" saved about 6,000 Jews from the Nazis during the Second World War despite working for an ally of Germany. Unlike Oscar Schindler, the German industrialist who turned against the Nazis and rescued almost 1,100 Jews from the Holocaust, Sugihara had to wait until just seven years ago for his bravery to be officially recognised.

Sugihara was the acting consul in Lithuania's temporary wartime capital when he was ordered to abandon his post as the Germans advanced in 1940. A fourth of the city's population was Jewish, mostly prosperous and well integrated, and few were ready to believe the horror stories from nearby Poland until it was too late to flee. By an accident of history the mild-mannered diplomat - one of just two left in the city - became their last hope for survival.

The crossroads in Sugihara's life came one night in July 1940 when he woke up to find a group of desperate refugees outside his window demanding visas to the Soviet Union. He decided to help but his repeated requests to Tokyo for permission to issue the visas were denied. Despite facing disgrace or worse for his family, Sugihara decided to follow his conscience and sign as many visas as he could, in defiance of his government.

Sugihara's courageous decision was all the more remarkable given his background. From solid middle-class stock, he graduated from Tokyo's elite Waseda University and served under the Foreign Ministry in Japan's puppet state of Manchuria, one of the more brutal military occupations of the war. A gifted linguist, he was once tipped for an ambassador's post.

Yet this is the man who sat for almost a month from 31 July to 28 August 1940 painstakingly writing out 10-day transit visas by hand, even enlisting his wife, Yukiko, to help him. By the time they boarded a Berlin-bound train on 1 September 1940, still scribbling out the last visa, they had saved about 6,000 people, including hundreds of children. Sugihara's final act in the besieged city was to hand his consular stamp to a refugee, who went on issuing passes.

Sugihara's reward for his heroism was dismissal from the Foreign Ministry immediately after the war. Disgraced in Japan, he was forced to eke out a living as a part-time translator and ended his life working for a trading company with connections to Russia. He died in 1986 and his family had to wait until 14 years later for the then Foreign Minister Yohei Kono to formally apologise.

A year before he passed away, he was honoured for his work in rescuing the Lithuanian refugees by the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority in Israel. The award stunned those who heard about it in Japan, where Sugihara had lived in obscurity for years.

Historians and journalists have searched through Sugihara's background to discover what made him take his momentous decision. There were hints in his past that the man who once planned to study medicine was plagued with a conscience. While stationed in Manchuria, for example, he resigned from his post after witnessing the brutality meted out by Japanese troops to the local Chinese.

But many suspect that the key to his change of heart may have been a Jewish refugee called Zalke Jenkins, whose family had fled to Lithuania from the Russian revolution. Sugihara met the 11-year-old in a shop and gave him some money, an act of kindness rewarded with an invitation to visit Jenkins' family. The diplomat spoke afterward at how moved he was by the strength of family bonds in Jewish life, which reminded him of home.

The Emperor's seal of approval is for many of his family the highest honour that Japan can bestow for Sugihara's bravery. "The visit by the imperial couple makes me feel as though his actions have again been rewarded," one of his surviving family members told the Asahi newspaper.


May 29, 2007

BNP wastes police time with complaint about Muslim demo

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(Click on image to enlarge)
A few days ago, the British National Party's West Midlands Organiser, Simon Darby, made a formal complaint to the West Midlands Police about the posters for the planned 'Muslims Rise Against British Oppression' demo outside 10 Downing Street on June 15th. In his letter, Darby took particular exception to the word 'rise'. He states:

'To encourage members of the Muslim community to "rise" is clearly either an incitement to violence or to open rebellion.'

If he had taken a couple of seconds to go to the website which is prominently advertised on the poster, he would soon have found the following statement:

'Insha-Allah, on Friday the 15th of June, Muslims all over the country will be gathering together united as 'One Block' outside 10 Downing Street. They will Rise against the British oppression and demonstrate peacefully against the government!'

Of course, the well-known BNP double-standards are ever-active. Following all the fuss about the prophet cartoons a few months back, the BNP were more than happy to use them on their next anti-Muslim election leaflets, thus deliberately encouraging, inciting and indeed hoping for, a breach of the peace that the party could exploit for its own ends.

Darby goes on:

'I am attaching both posters, drawing your attention in particular to the colour version which, together with inflammatory wording, contains irresponsible images of violence which could easily and very dangerously be misconstrued.'

Well, no. The poster is clearly meant to advertise a demonstration against the oppression of Muslims and it only shows images of the oppression of Muslims. The fact that these images are violent in nature is simply a reflection of the fact that oppression is a violent business.

Darby again:

'If the British National Party distributed posters encouraging the British community to "rise" against their Islamic oppressors together with graphic images of Islamic violence against non-Muslims one needs little imagination to predict what the reaction of the police would be.'

Yes, nothing at all - as we saw when the BNP attempted to exploit the July 2005 London bombings by reprinting images of the destroyed bus (along with images of the prophet with a bomb in his turban), trying desperately to make everyone believe that every Muslim was a lunatic preparing to blow up his neighbour. Funny how the BNP objects to the very things it does itself.

In fact, we wouldn't be surprised if far more people linked to the BNP had been in court for explosives-related crimes than Muslims over the past few years - Robert Cottage, David Jackson, Mark Bulman, David Tovey, David Copeland and Tony Lecomber spring to mind without much effort - making Darby's complaint hypocrisy of the highest order.

For the benefit of Simon Darby, we'll reprint the information that appears on the web page for the demonstration:

'Insha-Allah, on Friday the 15th of June, Muslims all over the country will be gathering together united as 'One Block' outside 10 Downing Street. They will Rise against the British oppression and demonstrate peacefully against the government!

We urge all the Muslims including families that have lost a family member to the crusaders, and the communities to take part in this demonstration. This demonstration is for YOU! You need to take part and let the people here your sufferings!

What we will achieve from the demonstration!

Put pressure on the government for the release of Muslim captives. As families and communities if we make a stand and demand for the release of Muslims held as captives, we can create public opinion to put pressure on the government for their release. It will make the oppressors think twice before they do anything!

To show a clear message to the oppressors that they will not silence the Muslim community, no matter how many terror laws they introduce and raids they do.

Fulfil our obligation to support the Muslims that have been oppressed. It is to show support to all those who have been arrested and to show support to all those families that have been left devastated because of the raids, arrests and incarcerations.

Fulfil our obligation of commanding good and forbidding evil.

Fulfil our obligation to speakout against the oppressors and the tyrants.'

Which all sounds pretty reasonable to us. In fact we rather feel that if anyone should be reported to the police, it should be the BNP - for wasting police time.

Sharing the hate

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Video-sharing websites become extremist venue

Los Angeles blacks are destroying property and attacking white people as a soft, pitiful ballad plays in the background. Then, about two minutes into the video, the words "Whose Freedom?" appear as a still frame of a young, smiling German girl at a Third Reich rally suddenly replaces the footage of the 1992 Rodney King riots. A man wearing a swastika armband stands protectively behind her, his head cropped from the frame, while the words, "A paradise lost," scroll down beneath her chin. Finally, a message, "Save the White Race," fills the screen before dissolving into a Celtic cross encircled by the phrase, "White Pride World Wide."

NSM International, a recruiting arm of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement, produced this video, probably at a cost of just a few dollars. But despite its amateurish nature, its makers are getting a big bang for their buck, thanks to YouTube, the red-hot video-sharing website that allows anyone with a camera phone or digital camcorder to upload for free their videos. The NSM video is now available to millions of people.

Welcome to the latest medium for the American radical right — one more electronic venue that seems particularly suited for recruitment of the young. Since it was founded in February 2005, YouTube, along with competitors like Flickr and Google Video, has become hugely popular, especially among the young. YouTube alone streams hundreds of millions of clips daily to a global audience, with its users posting more than 65,000 new videos to its swollen archives every day. And while extremist clips like the NSM recruitment video are only a tiny percentage of those posts, neo-Nazis and other white supremacists are close on the heels of the commercial advertisers now rushing to exploit this still-burgeoning medium.

"Increasingly, the Internet is replacing membership groups as the primary way for white supremacists to obtain information and communicate," asserts a January report on the white supremacist movement by Strategic Forecasting Incorporated, an intelligence analysis think tank. "Adherents regularly establish their presence on popular Web destinations such as MySpace and YouTube."

As of mid-January, roughly 12,000 white supremacist propaganda videos, hate rock concert highlight reels, and Holocaust denial pseudo-documentaries, many of them posted anonymously, were openly available on video-sharing websites. (This estimate was derived through keyword searches of the three leading sites and an analysis of how many were extremist, rather than merely mentioning extremism.) One of the most popular videos, "Branik White Power," is a poor-quality depiction of skinheads gone wild, set to roaring hate rock. The high-speed montage depicts Nazi skins dancing violently in the "mosh pit" near the stage, throwing punches, waving "SS" flags, and showing off white-power tattoos. Since it was posted by YouTube user "bulldog88" in May 2006, it has been downloaded more than 40,000 times.

Some of the most noxious videos are more reserved in their approach, such as "The Real David Duke," which has the former Klan leader pontificating on race relations for nine minutes and which has been viewed more than 10,000 times since it was posted last October. Another example, is "David Irving on the Holocaust," a five-and-a-half-minute excerpt of a speech by the notorious Holocaust denier in Britain that's been downloaded over 4,000 times during the same time period.

The Irving video was posted to YouTube last October by "Hadden88" ("88" is neo-Nazi code for "Heil Hitler"), who has compiled his own YouTube "channel" of 79 videos, most of them anti-Semitic mini-"documentaries" and speeches by hate peddlers like Irving, National Alliance founder William Pierce, and Adolf Hitler.

Other popular YouTube racist videos include a series of six "White Nationalist News" clips, the earliest episode dated last Sept. 8, some of which have been viewed more than 3,000 times; "Ku Klux Klan – A Secret History," posted in September, and its accompaniment "Ku Klux Klan 4-Ever," posted in December, each viewed over 11,000 times; "Nazi KKK," posted in October and viewed 15,000 times; "Russian skinheads. We are here," posted in December and viewed over 45,000 times; and "Skinhead" posted in November and viewed 132,000 times.

Video-sharing may be a particularly effective way for extremist groups, which have long sought ways to find new recruits, to connect with young people. You-Tube and its imitators are immensely popular among children, teenagers and young adults, and sometimes a single video will be downloaded literally millions of times. In addition, compared to direct-mail literature or dead-of-night "literature drops" on people's lawns, posting video footage is vastly less difficult, expensive, risky and time-consuming — and it can be done anonymously with virtually no effort.

Videos can also easily be used to create a false image. While back-country Klan cross-burnings, warehouse hate rock festivals, and neo-Nazi park rallies may draw only a handful of supporters, a crafty amateur filmmaker can edit or exploit camera angles to foster the illusion of a much larger and more dramatic event.

NSM, for example, posted a YouTube video last October depicting their August rally in Madison, Wis. A couple of dozen NSM members, dressed like Nazi storm troopers, seig-heil enthusiastically as the speaker rails: "Pedro go home! White America was founded by white Americans for white Americans! We will not allow our nation to become brown!" The camera lingers lovingly on the snappy accessories and stern gazes of the NSM, creating in the minds of some electronic visitors the impression of a polished, powerful show. But what the footage doesn't show is hundreds of booing, jeering anti-racist protesters right across the street.

Questioned last December by the Intelligence Report about NSM videos on YouTube, NSM Commander Jeff Schoep claimed: "The effectiveness of the NSM and its growth speaks for itself. We use many tools." Schoep also complained that civil rights groups were pressuring YouTube to remove "all so-called racist content."

Actually, YouTube already bans "hate speech," defined as "slurs or the malicious use of stereotypes intended to attack or demean a particular gender, sexual orientation, race, religion or nationality." But the sheer volume of video files posted to the site each day makes it practically impossible to police all content. As a result, particular videos are normally only removed as a result of a user complaint.

"We remove the offending content and send users a warning notice for violating our terms of use," says Jennifer Nielsen, marketing manager for YouTube. "Users who repeatedly violate our terms of use have their accounts terminated, all of their videos removed and they are permanently banned from YouTube."

Racist extremists are hardly likely to be deterred by such mild consequences, particularly because most live in countries with criminal penalties for possession or distribution of such Internet propaganda. By using American video-sharing websites, foreign extremists like Germany's National Democratic Party (NPD) make it vastly more difficult for legal action to be brought against them in their own countries.

The NPD, a neofascist political party, frequently posts newscasts of Hitler memorials and Holocaust-denying speeches on U.S.-based video sharing sites. Last December, for example, after the NPD posted glowing reports on YouTube of a highly publicized conference of Holocaust deniers hosted by Iran, the British paper The Independent described YouTube as "a favorite neo-Nazi website."

While YouTube operators now have scrubbed the site for those NPD videos, more than 350 other NPD clips are still available on YouTube, and the party recently announced plans to launch its own video-sharing website, based in America. Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi minister of propaganda, would be proud.


May 28, 2007

Democracy dead In Russia - police and violent neo-Nazis attack Gay Pride march

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"I'm not deterred one iota from coming back to protest in Moscow," Peter Tatchell told from Moscow, just hours after he was attacked by suspected neo-Nazis and then arrested by the Russian riot police the OMON. "

Gay Russians need overseas support to protect them against state and neo-Nazi violence." He was speaking after arrests and violent attacks marred today's attempted Moscow Gay Pride march. The organizer of Moscow Pride, Nikolai Alekseev, is still being detained at Moscow's Tverskoi district police station, together with two prominent members of Russia's Radical and Free Radical parties, Nikolai Khramov and Sergei Konstantinov.

Those who attacked Mr Tatchell are believed to be free, while Mr Alekseev, who took part in a peaceful protest remains in police custodyMr Tatchell told "I urge people to protest to the Russian Ambassador and to ask their local MP to send a letter of protest to the Russian embassy.

"He added: "We also need a strong statement of condemnation from the Foreign Office, who have so far been silent. I am a British citizen violently attacked when mounting a lawful protests whilst the Russian police allowed violence to be perpetrated against me.

"A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: "We condemn violence in any form, but in this particular case we need to ascertain the full facts before making any further comment."Mr Tatchell told "There is no rule of law in Moscow. The right to protest does not exist. This is not a democracy."

"Today's protest was about much more than gay rights. We were defending the right to freedom of expression and peaceful protest for all Russians, gay and straight. The ban on Moscow Gay Pride is one aspect of a much wider attack on civil society and human rights. It is evidence of a failed transition from communism to democracy and of a rising trend towards autocracy and authoritarianism," he added.

The arrests and assaults took place in front of and opposite Moscow City Hall, as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) campaigners assembled to hold Moscow's Gay Pride march. The first people arrested were Mr Alekseev and German Green Party Member of Parliament Volker Beck. They were seized as they attempted to deliver a letter to Moscow Mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, at City Hall."

After they were driven away in a police bus, marauding gangs of right-wing extremists infiltrated the Gay Pride crowd and began indiscriminately attacking participants. The Moscow police looked on and did nothing," recounted Mr Tatchell.

After unfurling a characteristic placard declaring "GayRights" in both English and Russian, he was attacked by people he suspects of being right-wing extremists. Mr Tatchell said that Moscow riot police, the OMON, stood by while as these people punched Mr Tatchell in the face, throttled him then dragged him to the ground, and kicked him all over his body. Clutching a bloody eye, he was arrested by the riot police. "They arrested me, but let my attackers walk free."

"The Moscow police gave right-wing extremists a more or less free hand to attack Gay Pride marchers. Despite many of us being battered left, right and centre, the police only arrested a handful of the assailants.

"Instead of protecting us from the violence, some officers seemed to be colluding with the neo-Nazis and ultra-nationalists. I saw them freely talking to each other. It has even been suggested that some of the attackers were, in fact, plain clothes police officers," Mr Tatchell reported.

Following his arrest, Mr Tatchell says he was violently dragged to a police bus, where he was put in the intimidating situation of being detained with three anti-gay demonstrators, who had been arrested for other assaults.

"They forced me to sit together with the neo-Nazis, it was clearly an intimidation tactic by the OMON, riot police, they are the ones who detained me in their bus." Mr Tatchell told While in the bus, Mr Tatchell was taunted by members of the riot police. They interrogated him as to whether he was gay. When he answered yes, he says that one of the OMON officers said, "Wait until we get you to the police station. Then we will have some fun with you."

Later Mr Tatchell was transferred to an ambulance and taken to hospital where he was treated for injuries to his right eye. "My face is very sore where I was punched. My right eye is badly bruised, swollen and bloodied." Speaking to 10 hours after the attack, he said: "it hurts. It happens to be the same eye that was I was punched in by Robert Mugabe's violent henchmen in Brussels six years ago."

Mr Tatchell still suffers from sight and pain problems from the Brussels attack. He was discharged at approximately 3:30 pm, and then detained at the Tverskoi district police station in Moscow. Mr Tatchell filed a complaint with the Moscow police about the assault on him, requesting that officers investigate and arrest the assailants." Despite the appalling behaviour of the riot squad and Moscow police, the officer investigating my complaint was diligent, fair and professional."

At 4:30 pm Mr Tatchell was allowed to leave the police station on the condition that he report back to the Tverskoi district station at 2 pm on Monday, 28 May. At this stage, Mr Tatchell believes he is being treated as a witness to the attack on him, rather than as a suspect.

"As I left the police station with several other released Gay Pride marchers, we were pelted with eggs. Some of us were violently attacked by a man dressed as a Russian Orthodox priest and by several neo-Nazis. The Moscow police initially did nothing, and only arrested two of the assailants under pressure from the Gay Pride marchers and journalists, who had photos and film footage of the attack. "Long after the Moscow Gay Pride protest at City Hall was over, groups of far right nationalists and neo-Nazis roamed the streets, calling each other on cell phones, apparently to organize additional attacks on people they suspected of participating in Moscow's Gay Pride".

Only a handful of far-right extremists were detained. Despite being arrested on charges of assault, most of them were released very quickly—long before the gay marchers were allowed to leave the police station.

"Mr Tatchell had travelled to Moscow at the request of the Moscow GayPride organizers to support the event and the campaign for gay rights in Russia. He was the keynote speaker at the opening session of the Moscow Gay Pride conference on Saturday morning, 26 May 2007 at the Swissotel".

May 27, 2007

Racism lite masks reality on the streets

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Don't let the outrage over the Channel 4 show lull you into believing it was an aberration. Discrimination is still horribly endemic in our society.

Stand by for the new and sanitised Big Brother. From Wednesday, contestants may be discussing Cartesian dualism while taking up incentivised recycling. Obviously, future housemates won't include anyone likely to stir up racial controversy, which rules out mouthy sub-celebrities and Margaret Hodge.

I'll come back to the industry minister, who argued in these pages last week for British families to be given housing priority over immigrants. Let's start, though, with the Channel 4 furore and the unprecedented rebuke issued, with Lord Chamberlain solemnity, by the media watchdog, Ofcom. Channel 4's future is said to be in the balance after code breaches over the alleged racist bullying of the Bollywood actor, Shilpa Shetty.

In general, moral outrage about the arts (I use the word loosely) grows to look absurd. The attack on George Eliot's Adam Bede as 'the vile outpourings of a lewd woman's mind' now seems as preposterous as East Germany's 1954 ban on Mickey Mouse for being an anti-Red rebel. The case against Big Brother seems stronger, not least because of the 'cover-up' of unbroadcast footage in which some housemates attempted (rather unsuccessfully) to think up words that rhymed with 'Paki'.

This is disgusting stuff, but it is also just worth remembering the venom, bullying and excess that took place outside the Big Brother house. Jade Goody was reviled by the media as an evil 'face of hate', while her co-conspirators were 'bitches on heat'. Gordon Brown, in India, endorsed Shilpa, 50 MPs signed an early-day motion, and the Sun hailed Jade's eviction as 'the most important [ballot] since the general election'.

The mood is just as febrile now. Channel 4 executives have been reviled, with some justification, for their slippery and mendacious ways. The failure to tell an Australian Big Brother contestant that her father had died has reinforced Stephen Fry's view that all reality television is 'squalid and dreadful'.

There is something unsettling about all this outrage. The Ofcom report, measured as it is, hints at what one TV executive calls 'regulation by public relations'. More importantly, it soothes people into believing that no right-thinking Briton will tolerate a whiff of racism. The 44,500 viewers who objected to Channel 4 can be assured that such a horror will never be repeated.

Should these complainants be at a loose end, however, there are a few outstanding nationality-related issues, none of which rated much mention in the week Celebrity Big Brother got its come-uppance. In Norwich, seven young men walked laughing from court after receiving suspended jail sentences for 'a ferocious and unprovoked' attack, in which they kicked, punched and spat on two Polish workers.

Newspaper reports of 'floods' of east European migrants supposedly leeching off state hand-outs masked the truth...that migration from the new EU countries, which is vital to the economy, seems to have passed its peak, and only 8,000 Romanian and Bulgarian job-seekers arrived in the first quarter this year, against predictions of a 300,000 influx in 20 months.

In the third, and saddest, example, a report by the Immigration Law Practitioners' Association charted the plight of unaccompanied refugee children, many of them Afghans, who arrive in Britain alone and traumatised after unthinkable journeys. Thousands of boys as young as 13 are being reassigned as adults by the immigration service, and so disqualified from the education and foster care they need.

Discrimination is not cooked up in the Big Brother kitchen. It seeps down from the top, not in rivers of blood but in such meandering streams of cause and effect that people barely notice how shamingly endemic it has become. A quarter of white children live in poverty, compared with 74 per cent of Bangladeshis, 60 per cent of Pakistanis and 56 per cent of black Africans. Stephen Byers, a former cabinet minister, tells our political editor today that, in parts of the country, we are 'sleepwalking towards the segregation of schools on racial grounds'.

This shadowy apartheid means that a child's future is dictated by race, not by ability. Employers overlook or underpay non-whites, and black people are five times as likely as white ones to be stopped and searched. On Prison Reform Trust figures for 2002, more African Caribbean entrants went to jail (11,500) than to university (8,000). Far from highlighting these imbalances, the Big Brother row has diverted attention from real scandals.

Tony Blair, who has had difficulty untangling reality from illusion ever since he urged that Deirdre Barlow of Coronation Street be freed from jail, said at the height of the Big Brother furore that any perception that Britain tolerated racism had to be 'regretted and countered'. So how unfortunate that, just before Ofcom underlined that message, Blair's industry minister used what education secretary Alan Johnson later called 'the language of the BNP'.

The Jade Goody of the government front benches appeared to be suggesting that newly arrived migrants living in damp squalor with an asthmatic child should be leapfrogged by the less needy indigenous family. This is a loathsome argument, especially since migrants currently get only a tiny percentage of social housing.

I am glad, though, that Mrs Hodge spoke out. Although several of her colleagues professed horror, she is unique only in venturing into nationality. Other ministers have backed constituents who feel their loyalty to the sitting MP is being tested by neighbours with anti-social ways and hellish children. The most illiberal policies of Blair's tenure have been built on intolerance of one sort or another.

It is easy to imagine Jade, Jo and Danielle as wavering Hodge supporters, though there is no evidence that any of them would ever vote BNP. However vile their conduct, this was television, not the Old Kent Road. Where reality shows serve any purpose, it is surely to spark neuralgia in a complacent society.

If Big Brother got out of hand, then the reaction has matched it. Besides, a sort of weird justice has been done. Jade is no longer 'the 25th most inferlential [sic] person in the world'. Shilpa has been to Parliament and met the Queen. It would be more than a pity if Channel 4 were now to be privatised by Gordon Brown and Big Brother made into a talking shop for housemates with Lady Bracknell manners, a tofu habit and a social conscience.

Such a result would demonstrate the very intolerance that the programme's critics deplore. It would also smash one small mirror on a country much more divided than it ever notices. Evidence of racism and dishonesty can never be justified or ignored. Nonetheless, the suspicion remains that the Big Brother circus has become what Jade would call an 'escape goat' for much more dangerous failings.


Forced out by race-hate mob

0 Comment (s)
Family fled war-torn Angola for sanctuary the UK... but they were driven out in four days by this.

A family fled war-torn Angola only to face terror at the hands of a "seething" race-hate mob in Britain.

Yesterday 11 thugs were locked up for their part in the terrifying attack - aimed at driving their black neighbours out of an estate just four days after they moved in. The racists, some armed with baseball bats and crowbars, targeted Alvaro Vintem, his wife Maura Adriano and their three children as they enjoyed a barbecue with family and friends to celebrate a cousin's 10th birthday.

Alvaro, 30, said after the mob was sentenced: "I came to England for help and then this happened. At the time I remember thinking, 'Oh my God what have I come to?'"

The thugs stockpiled weapons in the garden of a house nearby, then threw missiles including bottles, sticks, cans and bricks at the family cowering in their front garden. One little girl begged: "Please don't let them kill me."

The racists attacked their victims' cars, causing damage running into thousands of pounds. They screamed "Get home you bunch of f***ing n*****s" and "Back off you black b******s, you don't belong here."

One witness claimed the jeering mob then got hold of the barbecue and threw it at the windows of the home in an attempt to set fire to it after the women and children had taken shelter inside. The men at the birthday party kept the thugs out of the house. The court was silent as video footage taken by a guest revealed faces twisted with rage. Seven racists have still not been traced.

Judge Peter Hunt said at Leeds crown court: "What's depressingly striking is the seething aggression demonstrated by so many."

Prosecutor John Topham told the court: "The Angolan family were terrified... children and women were terrified and crying. Some of the white residents on the estate were hostile to the presence of a black family. There were discussions in a cafe in the locality with the idea of forcing the family to move."

The family's arrival on the Seacroft estate in Leeds was marked by a stone through a window. Later, their door was broken down, windows smashed and their TV stolen. Then followed the 30-minute riot which erupted after their guests - including eight children - had arrived.

Alvaro, who came to the UK in 2000 and has now moved to another part of Leeds, said the mob "got what they deserved" after the judge locked them up. The father of three said when his girls now see a group they think they're going to be attacked.

The 11 pleaded guilty to violent disorder yet denied racist intent, but the judge declared race hate was the only motivation. David Holdsworth, 34, described as showing "extreme violence", was jailed for three years and seven months. Leanne Montgomery, 19, who "lost control" battering a car, was handed three years in a young offenders institution. Andrew Boylan, 25 and Liam Bellwood, 20, were jailed for three and a half years.

Other terms were Wayne Purchase, 31 - two and a half years' jail; Darren Kaye, 19 - 21 months in a young offenders institution; Jonathan Wilson, 19 - two and a half years in a young offenders institution; Patrick Burns, 34 - two and a half years; Wayne Lorimer, 21 - two and a half years; Glynn Milburn, 33 - 12 months; and Duane Watts, 24 - two-and-a half years.

  • More than 1.5 million people died and 4 million were displaced in the 27-year civil war.
  • It has the worst infant mortality rate in the world - 125 in every 1,000 die before their first birthday.
  • More than 33 per cent of children under five suffer malnutrition.
  • Life expectancy is 45 for men, 48 for women.
  • Only 32 per cent have clean water and 42 per cent are illiterate.
Sunday Mirror

May 26, 2007

TUC threatens boycott action over BNP ad

0 Comment (s)
The Wales TUC General Council is today being urged to end all advertising with the Evening Post in a row over this newspaper's publication of a BNP election advert.And individual trade unions are said to be considering advising members to cease buying the paper.

The moves follow publication of a BNP advertisement on May 1, ahead of the Welsh Assembly elections.

Wales TUC general secretary Felicity Williams says in a letter to the Evening Post: "Wales TUC is committed to the development of Wales as a thriving, multi-faith, multi-cultural society and condemns without reservation the promotion of any extremists who seek to divide our society by spreading fear and suspicion through misleading racist and/or religious propaganda."

Her executive committee is calling on the General Council to authorise a ban on further advertising. It is also seeking to remove the Evening Post from the list of publications receiving editorial articles prepared by Wales TUC. The General Council was set to meet today in Llandudno, where the Wales TUC annual conference is underway.

In her letter to the Evening Post, Ms Williams says: "Wales TUC-affiliated unions are also considering advising their members to boycott the publication until further notice and until assurances are given from South West Wales Media Ltd that advertising policies have been amended to prevent the abhorrent promotion of fascist groups in Wales."

Spencer Feeney, Editor-in-Chief of South West Wales Media, and editor of the Evening Post, said: "Trade unions enjoy the freedom to advise their members as they see fit. It is for the individuals concerned to decide if they want to be told which newspapers they can or cannot read.

"Obviously, if Wales TUC officials choose not to talk to journalists on Wales's largest-selling newspaper about issues that affect and are of interest to their members, it will deny those individuals the opportunity of having their point of view on these important topics publicised."

Dawna Stickler, advertisement director with the paper, said: "All submitted advertisements are considered for publication according to the codes of Advertising Practice as recommended by the Newspaper Society.

"The advertisement in question did not contravene these guidelines and, in fact, conformed to the principles of legal advertising. As such, there was no justifiable reason for this advertisement to be rejected."

This is South Wales

Violent neo-nazi skinhead group Volksfront growing in prominence

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Volksfront, a virulently racist and anti-Semitic group comprised mostly of neo-Nazi skinheads, is growing in prominence in the United States and internationally, with chapters in Canada, Spain, Australia Germany and Portugal. A new report from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) identifies Volksfront as one of the most active skinhead groups in the United States, with a range of activities including distributing newsletters, rallies, recruitment and promoting the hate music subculture.

According to ADL's Center on Extremism, which monitors and reports on the activities of domestic extremist groups, Volksfront, based in Portland, Oregon, has become the most active neo-Nazi group on the West Coast and maintains close alliances with many other hate groups. The group has a history of violence.

"Volksfront promotes a deeply racist and anti-Semitic worldview and its members have not been afraid to back up their words with violent deeds," said Deborah Lauter, ADL Civil Rights Director. "The group appeals to disaffected, young white males and promotes an ideology of hatred and white supremacy that has led in some cases to intimidation, assault and murder."

ADL's report identifies the facets of Volksfront's activities, leadership, recruitment and outreach:

• Members have been involved in a number of violent crimes in the Pacific Northwest. Kurtis Monschke, who was a probationary unit leader for Volksfront, is serving a life sentence for his role in a March 2003 murder that emulated a brutal attack depicted in the film "American History X." Another Volksfront member in Eugene, Oregon was arrested in 2005 along with three other men for throwing rocks engraved with swastikas at a synagogue during a religious service.

• Volksfront is a major player on the hate music scene. The group works with many white supremacist rock bands and has organized a number of concerts. Volksfront holds a number of events annually, including weekend long white power concerts two or three times a year.

• Volksfront promotes meetings that serve as networking opportunities for racists from a variety of domestic extremist groups. One of the more heavily promoted events in early 2007 was its Victory Achievement Conference, held February 24 in St. Louis, Missouri. More than 80 white supremacists attended the event, including racist skinheads from the Hammerskins and members of White Revolution, Aryan Nations and Women for Aryan Unity.

• Volksfront distributes newsletters and tries to exploit controversial public issues. The group's Web site features information on their history, editorials by members, information about upcoming events and downloadable hate literature. Several units have their own Web pages and sites that provide information about local activity.

• One of Volksfront's primary goals is to establish an autonomous whites-only living space in the Pacific Northwest and, to this end, the group claims to have purchased several acres of property in Oregon and Washington State.

• Volksfront has established units in Oregon, Washington State, California, Arizona, Massachusetts, Illinois, Missouri, the Carolinas and New York.


May 25, 2007

Corsham anti-BNP protest planned

2 Comment (s)
Anti-BNP protesters will be taking to the streets of Corsham to show their disgust at a member of the far-right party claiming a seat on the town council. A rally and protest has been organised for Monday, June 11, after BNP Cllr Michael Simpkins took the Rudloe ward uncontested at the recent elections. He made his first appearance at Corsham Town Council last week and was greeted by protesters outside the town hall.

Now one local campaigner is organising a much bigger event to show what he says is the "strong anti-fascist feeling" in Corsham.

Kyle Thornhill, 21, who has lived in Corsham all his life, has had leaflets and posters printed to publicise the event, and is calling on everyone in Corsham and the surrounding area who objects to BNP involvement in the town to get involved.

He said: "Myself, like a lot of local people, did not get to hear that this BNP candidate was standing until it was too late to do anything about it, because if we had I would have stood against him to stop them getting in. Although there was the protest last week, again not enough people heard about it until too late, so what we are doing is organising a protest, letting plenty of people know about it and giving them plenty of time. The response I've had from all the people I've met has been overwhelmingly positive, with the only negative comments coming from BNP people via websites."

Mr Thornhill, whose great grandfather came from Barbados, says the rally will also celebrate Britain's multi-culturalism. African drummers are expected to attend and there will be a host of foreign cuisines on offer.

"The vast majority of people in Corsham do not want the BNP here, and it has been inspiring to hear the comments from all the people I've spoken to," said Mr Thornhill. "I'm sure there will be a very big turnout."

The protest starts at 5.30pm. For more information email notobnp@

Rudloe Air Cadet leader and Corsham BNP chairman Mike Howson has rubbished claims that he intends to resign his position as a youth mentor. He said: "I will not be standing down. My work as a youth leader and my political views remain completely separate. Those with leftist views are using every trick in the book to try to get me removed, which is sad as it is only the youngsters who suffer."

This is Wiltshire

Rise in racism in the playground

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A threefold increase in reports of racist incidents in Derby's schools over seven years has been put down to better reporting. Children are now not so afraid to tell others, and a mentoring scheme also helps them, officials say.

Figures revealed by Channel 4 News showed that 151 reports of playground racism in 2000/1 rose to 451 last year.

Graham Falgate from the city council said there was now a much better awareness of how to report incidents. He said typical racist incidents included name-calling, ridicule, religious intolerance and other forms of bullying.

Alan Vaughan, a teacher at Derby Moor Community Sports College in Littleover, said they had operated a mentoring scheme for the past four years, which had proved successful.

"The children work with each other to solve the problems," he said. "There is always going to be an element of racism," he said. "We accept it exists and work together to conquer it."


Sector rebukes call for allocations policy to favour indigenous families over migrants

0 Comment (s)
An attempt by senior Labour politicians to make housing allocation policy favour British families trapped on long waiting lists would face fierce opposition from housing professionals.

A call by trade and industry minister Margaret Hodge this week for indigenous people to be given a greater right to social housing than new migrants was criticised by the housing world. The issue has also created a rift in Labour’s high command with Keith Vaz, a member of its national executive committee, signing an early day motion describing the call to give British people housing priority ‘regrettable’.

Ms Hodge’s comments follow former home secretary David Blunkett’s suggestion that two housing waiting lists should be created. One should be set up for people in urgent need, the other for those who do not benefit from needs-based allocation regimes, he said.Labour party chair Hazel Blears, a candidate for the deputy leadership position, backed Ms Hodge’s call for a rethink on allocations policy.

Chartered Institute of Housing chief executive David Butler said the senior MP’s moves took housing ‘in a direction we don’t want to go in’.

‘For a government policy to allow people to come into this country and then deny them access to services is the wrong way to deal with this problem,’ he added.

Mr Butler said the real problem was the insufficient supply of social housing, something most senior housing professionals identified as the greatest source of community tensions in an Inside Housing survey (17 November).

MP Jon Cruddas, the Labour deputy leadership candidate whose Dagenham constituency borders Ms Hodge’s, said she was in danger of ‘racialising arguments over housing allocation’.

Barking & Dagenham Council’s director of housing David Wood rejected the suggestion that refugees and asylum seekers were given priority. He also said lack of supply was the main problem.

The mayor of London has also criticised the demands for a housing allocation policy that favoured the indigenous (see above).

David Lunts, the mayor’s executive director of policy and partnerships, said the number of migrants living in social housing was tiny. A spokesperson for the prime minister said that just 1 per cent of lettings in 2005/06 went to foreign nationals.

Karen Buck, Labour MP for Regent’s Park & Kensington, said she had ‘never seen an economic migrant in areas of high housing need that get housing first’.

‘The real issue is about supply,’ she added.

inside housing

May 24, 2007

Far-right loses the plot on gay equality

9 Comment (s)
Nick Griffin and the British National Party, ever attempting to make themselves more popular, have come out (if you'll excuse the expression) against homosexuality, albeit in a fairly half-hearted way. Not averse to stating that homosexuality is, in its opinion, wrong, the BNP's monumental hypocrisy also allows it to take the line of least resistance and ignore the fact that it exists as long as any homosexual activity takes place behind closed doors and doesn't frighten the horses.

Griffin, famously embroiled in a homosexual relationship with Martin Webster back in his old National Front days, has recently taken a hypocritically firm stance against gays both in and out of the party but has taken great care to ignore what goes on immediately around him, that it suits him to ignore. Richard 'Dickie' Barnbrook, leader of the BNP contingent at Barking and Dagenham, must have caused him a few problems then with the extensive publicity over his ghastly gay porn film HMS Discovery.

Griffin isn't the only one who is ready to jump on any available perceived anti-gay bandwagon. Unsteady Eddy Morrison, 'National Political Advisor' to the miniscule British People's Party, has also taken a public stance against homosexuality, though in Morrison's case, he is at least prepared to state where the party stands unequivocally;

'The British People’s Party opposes homosexuality as a perversion of nature. We do not allow homosexual and lesbians into membership. If the BPP find any have joined they will expelled immediately!'

Eddy Morrison would be pretty funny if he wasn't a nazi. The most recent Nationalist Week, an online magazine that he writes when he's only half-pissed, has this to say about the perceived modern misuse of the word 'gay';

'The BPP does not use the word "gay" to describe these obnoxious people. Gay is an old English word that means "to be happy and contented". True to form, the politically correct Pink Mafia has hijacked the word. To us in the BPP, they are queers...'

As indeed, they often are to other queers, many of whom have discarded the word 'gay' and happily (indeed gaily) reclaimed the word 'queer'. Many of us will remember the same drivel about the word 'gay' being said thirty or forty years ago, showing that Morrison really hasn't moved with the times at all. Poor old Eddy can be discarded as a simple and narrow-minded buffoon, especially after one digests the following line from Nationalist Week;

'You can find members of the Pink Mafia everywhere, like maggots infesting a rotting piece of wood.'

Do maggots infest rotting wood? Not that I go around checking dead wood on every possible occasion, but I rather thought one would be more likely to find woodlice.

Griffin and Morrison's respective political parties (if either of them have a right to the description) are both trying desperately to popularise themselves - the BNP rather more than the BPP - and Griffin in particular believes that a public expression of disgust and contempt for homosexuals is going to earn him kudos with the voting public. He may however, find his attacks backfiring on him because a very recent YouGov poll for Stonewall finds 90% of the British population support the ban on discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Nor is Griffin's attempted hijack of Christianity likely to help him. Despite the protestations of some church leaders, as many as 85% specifically back the sexual orientation regulations, which make discrimination against gays and lesbians in the provision of goods and services an offence. The survey shows that 'people of faith' were as likely to support gay equality as members of the wider population. In fact the poll depicts a society predominantly at ease with one of the key social changes of the past twenty years.

One of the BNP's anti-gay themes revolves around gay members of staff in schools but even here the party has got it wrong because three out of four said they would be comfortable if their child's teacher was gay. Even more said they would happily be treated by a gay doctor.

Football, the great leveller which has done so much to oppose racism simply by having great players of all colours working together on the same team, won't help Griffin out over this issue either. 92% said they would have no complaints if it emerged that a footballer in a team they supported was gay, while 80% said a gay member of the royal family would not cause a problem either. Even nearer to Griffin's particular knuckle, 89% said they would back laws making it illegal to incite hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation, thus giving the anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim and now anti-gay Griffin even more opportunities to appear in court.

'I'm delighted we now have hard evidence that people don't want to live in a society that allows prejudice against any group of people, including lesbians and gay men, to fester,' said Ben Summerskill, Stonewall's chief executive. 'Britain is a tolerant country with a widespread acceptance that prejudice has no proper place in civil society'.

Nick Griffin may have a late-developing problem with homosexuality but it's pretty obvious that hardly anybody else has.

Hatewatch: for the week of May 23rd 2007

0 Comment (s)
Public Enemy Number One Murder Trial Begins
Prosecutors plan to call more than 100 witnesses in a lengthy murder trial of two members of the growing white supremacist gang Public Enemy Number One...

KKK Banner Flown at Community Picnic
Organizers of a Rapid City Businessmen's Association cookout struggled to explain why a Ku Klux Klan "white power" Confederate battle flag topped a flagpole at the event...

Jewish Cemetery Vandalized
A swastika was carved into a mausoleum at a Jewish cemetery in Chicago where vandals also destroyed headstones and urns...

White Supremacist Pleads Guilty to Kidnapping
Wallace Eugene Woodard III, the alleged leader of a white supremacist group, pleaded guilty to felony charges stemming from a January incident in which two men were kidnapped, kicked with steel-toed boots and had their heads shaved...


May 23, 2007

BNP face probe after Mayor walkout

0 Comment (s)
Two BNP councillors staged an impromptu walkout from Sandwell Council last night in protest at a Sikh becoming mayor. They claim his appointment breaches the Magna Carta - but now face an enquiry by the local government standards board.

Simon Smith (who represents Great Bridge) and Carl Butler (Tividale) insist that they didn’t leave the chamber during the vote to appoint Gurcharan “Sid” Sidhu as first citizen – but Butler admits they did retire to an area close to the public gallery for a “coffee break”.

He claims that under the Magna Carta – which was written in 1215 and forms the basis of England’s constitution - “foreigners” are banned from holding public office. Quite how this applies to “Sid”, who’s been a British citizen for 44 years – isn’t clear, but as Butler is happy to explain, he believes that even people who are born in this country should be disqualified from public life if they are of African or Asian heritage.

“That’s not racist it’s realist”, he told us. “The Magna Carta states that no foreigner should take public office and that’s our view. There’s no personal animosity, he just shouldn’t be mayor”.

The BNP’s actions drew a sharp response across the political divide.

Sandwell’s Labour council leader Bill Thomas pointed out that “Sid” will be the borough’s fourth Asian mayor, with the first Dr Hirein Roy being appointed back in the 70s. Commenting on the BNP, Thomas said: “I find their actions disgraceful, and we’re considering taking them to the Standards Board.”

Cllr Bill Archer, a Conservative councillor and former Mayor himself joined in the chorus of criticism: “We are a multicultural society and they’ve got to accept that. The Mayor is the one office that regardless of party you’ve got to respect.”

The Stirrer

The reality of racism - gang escape jail over brutal attack

16 Comment (s)
(click on image to enlarge)
A gang of men who subjected two Polish workers to a “cowardly and vicious” attack before leaving them in a pool of blood have escaped immediate jail sentences.

Norwich Crown Court heard the gang of seven attacked Tadeusz Broniak and Marcin Rapacz after finding them sitting outside the Hog's Head pub in King's Lynn high street. The brutal attack was caught on security cameras and played before the judge who described it as a “ferocious and unprovoked attack on two vulnerable men”.

The victims were repeatedly punched, kicked and spat on and were fortunate to suffer nothing more than cuts and bruises. The footage showed the offenders walking away from the scene, leaving the victims lying on the floor covered in blood.

Speaking after the case, King's Lynn section inspector Colin Williamson said: “This sickening assault took place against a backdrop of drunken aggression. The CCTV footage is shocking.”

Jody Tooke, 25, of Saddlebow Road, King's Lynn; Ben Watson, 20, of Chadwick Square, Lynn; Ben Winchester, 21, of Wisbech Road, Lynn; John Plummley, 22, of Burnham Avenue, King's Lynn; Jack Nesbitt, 20, of Hinchingbrooke Close, South Wootton; Christopher Tibbs, 22, of Saddlebow Road, Lynn all pleaded guilty to violent disorder on November 4 last year.

Liam Wintin, 19, of St Edmundsbury Road, Lynn, was convicted of violent disorder following a trial. Alfie Tooke, 21, of Ouse Avenue, Lynn, who had denied inciting others to use or threaten violence, was cleared by a jury following a trial earlier this month.

The court heard the gang went to the Hog's Head after hearing that the two Polish men had been making it difficult for bar staff and refusing to leave. They were also said to have threatened Alfie Tooke so the gang went to the Hog's Head “to sort out the two Polish men”.

Mr Justice Cooke imposed a year's jail sentence on all the men suspended for two years and ordered them to do a total of 1,280 hours of unpaid work. He said they were all in employment and felt they were all capable of making their way in life as civilised members of society.

But he warned: “Your actions on that night stem from the amount of drink you consumed.”

He said they had acted as “unthinking teenagers” and said: “Stay off drink and think about what you drink.”

The men's counsel said they had all been disgusted by their behaviour. Some members of the gang had written letters of apology to the victims. Benedict Peers, for Tibbs, said: “When he first viewed that recording, he himself was shocked.”

Outside court Insp Williamson pledged that officers would do all they could to stamp out alcohol-fuelled violence. The men's names have been forwarded to the local Pubwatch group to be considered for a town-wide pub ban.

Insp Williamson said: “Alcohol-fuelled violence is not acceptable in this town or any other and a lot of work is being carried out by the police and partner agencies to weed out individuals like this whose lawless behaviour ruins everyone else's night out.”

A new Nightsafe scheme - based on successful operations in Norwich and Yarmouth - has since been launched.

[Watch the video by clicking on the link]


We need more houses, not divisive housing policies

0 Comment (s)
Margaret Hodge's comments that 'residents' should get priority will only legitimise anti-immigrant sentiment

Margaret Hodge, minister of state for industry and the regions and MP for the east London constituency of Barking, has suggested that long-standing British residents should be given priority over immigrants in relation to housing. Her comments smack of a desperate desire to stop Labour voters from supporting the far-right British National Party (BNP). What they reveal is how out-of-touch ministers are with the people they govern and how sensitive an issue housing has become.

In the Observer last Sunday, Hodge wrote: 'We prioritise the needs of an individual migrant family over the entitlement others feel they have. So a recently arrived family with four or five children living in a damp and overcrowded, privately rented flat with the children suffering from asthma will usually get priority over a family with less housing need who have lived in the area for three generations and are stuck at home with the grandparents. We should look at policies where the legitimate sense of entitlement felt by the indigenous family overrides the legitimate need demonstrated by the new migrants.' (1)

If the indigenous family in question is stuck at home, it's got little to do with immigrants. The real problem is that too few new houses are being built. In 2006, just 167,000 new homes were completed in Britain (2). That's up, the government tells us, on the 2000 figure - but that figure was the lowest since the Second World War. Two weeks ago, I joined protesters outside Gordon Brown's Brighton speech who were angry at rocketing house prices that make it near-impossible for most people to get on the property ladder (3).

Just to replace the UK's existing housing stock, Britain needs to build 266,000 new homes every year - something we've consistently failed to do. John Stewart, economist to the House Builder's Federation, has worked out that the consequence of this snail-like replacement rate is that homes being built today will have to stand for 1200 years!

And then there are the homes we need to build, over and above that, for the new households in Britain. By the government's reckoning that is around 200,000 extra houses each year (4). A lot of that new demand is because of changing lifestyles. Since the 1970 Equal Pay Act, women have been joining the workforce in greater numbers, and bringing home wages. Those wages are the basis of mortgage applications. Conservatives bemoan the loss of the nuclear family, and maybe they have a point, but no one wants to see a return to the days when women had no economic independence. The net effect is that there are more, if generally smaller, households than there were, and we need more dwellings to house them.

Lastly, there is immigration. Recent numbers have been quite high with 160,000 more people entering the country than leaving it each year. This is the background to Hodge's outburst. But it is a big mistake to blame these migrant workers for the housing shortage. They are in many cases the people making the houses. One construction boss says that 70-80 per cent of his workers are not English speakers (5).

The problem is not immigration, it is the low number of new homes being built. While the government says the number we need to build is 200,000 a year across the UK, Britain has fallen short of that figure in seven of the years since New Labour was elected in 1997. And the target is way too low in any event because they have forgotten that homes need to be replaced.

Instead of doing something about the problem, Margaret Hodge says that residents should get houses before immigrants, whether or not they need it more. But playing people off against each other on the basis of where they are from can only make racial divisions worse.

How did a liberal-minded person like Margaret Hodge end up shouting for a racist housing policy? Most likely, she is not personally racist. She has a reputation for being very left-wing (the red flag flew over Islington Town Hall when she was council leader in the 1980s). But she is part of a government that has failed to build the houses people need.

At the last election, Hodge panicked at the canvassing returns that told her that the BNP were doing well in her constituency. Like a lot of her cabinet colleagues, Hodge has little feel for how ordinary people think, and was surprised that they are so angry with the government. Nor does she seem aware that the BNP's support is not very committed, but is just seizing on an issue to express their disaffection. Instead of fighting to win the argument that immigrants are not the problem, Hodge is determined to try and outmanoeuvre the BNP on the right, in New Labour-style 'triangulation'. Such a strategy can only end up making those prejudices seem more sound than they really are by giving them ministerial approval.

It is gruesome to see culturally-liberal New Labour politicians repeating the same Old Labour housing policies that ended up with Tower Hamlets' housing stock being racially segregated under the late Peter Shore's 'friends and neighbours' housing policy in the 1970s. But that is the outcome when you have a government that is too frightened of the Campaign to Protect Rural England to build new homes, and too frightened of the voters to argue with them.

James Heartfield is author of Let's Build: Why We Need Five Million Homes in the Next 10 Years
  1. A message to my fellow immigrants, Observer, 20 May 2007
  2. Communities and Local Government Statistical Release, House Building: January to March Quarter 2007, 17 May 2007
  3. PricedOut, 13 May 2007
  4. See James Heartfield, Let's Build: Why we need five million homes in the next ten years, chapter one, Audacity, 2006
  5. Andrew Geddes, Immigrants get older, too, Foreign Policy Centre

May 22, 2007

Anti-fascists oppose racist myths in debate on housing

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Today, anti-fascist campaigners have called on politicians to refrain from adding to misinformation and hysteria on social policy issues such as housing.

Others have criticised the tone and content of the current debate that was sparked off after an article by Barking MP Margaret Hodge, suggesting that housing allocation should not be solely based on need. Critics included housing charity Shelter, Dagenham MP Jon Cruddas, Diane Abbott MP, government minister Peter Hain and Mayor of London Ken Livingstone.

In an article in the Observer, Margaret Hodge suggested a change in housing allocation policy that currently operates on the basis of the housing needs of the people on council housing lists, proposing the criteria to be based on "length of residence, citizenship, or National Insurance contributions."

Hodge stated that "We prioritise the needs of an individual migrant family over the entitlement others feel that they have".

There is evidence to the contrary: in an article in the Guardian today, Jon Cruddas MP for Dagenham said: 'In the six years I have been an MP (...) we have never housed an immigrant or immigrant family in local authority accommodation.'

David Woods, director of Housing at Barking and Dagenham Council is quoted in an article for 'Inside Housing' magazine on 10 May, saying: "The mythology that we're trying to fight around here is that government investment in housing is all for asylum seekers and immigrants."

Ken Livingstone warned of the possibility that the criteria Hodge outlines for housing allocation may be 'illegal' and Diane Abbott MP has tabled an Early Day Motion stating "that immigrant families do not currently get priority over British families".

A recent Joseph Rowntree Foundation report into the links between poverty and ethnicity found that, on all the social indicators including housing, minority ethnic communities fare much worse than white people.

Director of Shelter the homelessness charity Adam Sampson said:
"The failure to build new homes and the devastating impact of the Right to Buy leaves the small amount of social housing stock vulnerable to being exploited for political means. These comments perpetuate the myth that social homes are given to new immigrants coming to the UK at the expense of the indigenous population - when in fact homes are allocated by balancing what people are entitled to against immediate housing need. The real problem is the desperate shortage of social housing, which is why Gordon Brown must now deliver on his commitment last week to build more social homes to tackle the ever-deepening housing crisis."

Diane Abbott MP said:
"The idea of a native-born preference for social housing is clearly discriminatory. Black and ethnic minority communities are much more likely to have arrived more recently in this country and therefore will have less chance of getting a house. Social housing should be allocated on the basis of need and nothing else. This is supposed to be a Labour government, so why are some Ministers allowing the BNP to dictate our policies?"

Denis Fernando, Joint Secretary of Unite Against Fascism said:
'The suggestion that any aspect relating to race should be introduced into the criteria for social housing must be strongly opposed as it would further disadvantage minority communities' access to housing and helps fuel the advance of the BNP. The fascist BNP is now the official opposition on Barking and Dagenham Council, with 12 councillors. It has profited from the racist myth that African families have preferential access to housing grants. The real scandal is that as the BNP targeted Barking and Dagenham for electoral gains, there was a 30% rise in racist attacks across the borough, including the near-fatal stabbing of an Afghan man immediately after the May 2006 elections. This is in stark contrast to the situation in the rest of London, where racist attacks have been falling and no such myth is being propagated."

Weyman Bennett, Joint Secretary of Unite Against Fascism said:
'The fascist BNP is crawling all over this debate which is providing it with rich pickings. The BNP flourish in a climate of racist myths against black communities, Muslims, migrants and asylum seekers. They have no interest in improving housing - their real aim is to target isolated, and marginalised communities with racism as fascist parties do in order to make gains. The fact that the BNP opposed increased social housing when it was proposed at Barking and Dagenham council exposes the reality of its fascist agenda. Today, the BNP's website is welcoming Margaret Hodge's comments. The UAF believes these comments were ill-advised and wrong."'


  • The BNP councillor in Barking and Dagenham Richard Barnbrook was on the BBC News at 10 on Monday, 'demanding' a change in housing allocation policy.
  • The BNP's general election campaign in 2005 in Barking spread the racist myth of a non existent 'Africans for Essex' scheme that the BNP claimed was providing £50,000 grants to African families to buy houses in the borough. The BNP continued to spread such lies in the borough, culminating in gaining 12 of the 13 seats they targeted in 2006.
  • The BNP website states in an article welcoming Margaret Hodge's comments: "Building more homes is not the answer - vast swathes of the English countryside cannot be simply concreted over to build more homes and all the necessary infrastructure for the UK's expanding population. Existing local residents do not want new developments on greenfield sites."
  • During the full meeting of the Barking and Dagenham Council on the 6 December, fascist BNP councillors voted against an amendment calling on the government to lift the cap restricting the ability of councils to build new housing, clearly confirming that they have no interest in housing, merely using the issue to whip up racism towards Black communities and to divide the communities of Barking and Dagenham.
  • Unite Against Fascism is a broad-based national campaign chaired by Ken Livingstone, aimed at stopping the BNP, which brings together Black, Jewish, Muslim communities and other faith representatives, lesbian and gay activists, trade unionists and MPs into an alliance with all those who are threatened by and oppose fascism.

Ignore myths, stick to facts

4 Comment (s)
(Click image for full-size)
It would be rough justice indeed to compare MP Margaret Hodge's weekend call for "indigenous families" to get a bigger share of East London's social housing to that watershed moment in 1968 when Enoch Powell made his "rivers of blood" speech in Wolverhampton.

Powell's crude, calculated talk of bloodshed ahead and "wide-grinning piccaninnies" sullied his reputation for ever. Hodge too was seeking - not for the first time - to articulate complaints of her constituents in Barking, that newcomers are making it harder for their children to either rent or buy a home.

In her case only the coded word "indigenous" was deemed offensive, just as David Blunkett was chided for repeating Mrs Thatcher's 1978 use of "swamped" in regard to schools and doctors' surgeries. The British Sociological Association has a list of racially sensitive words which is constantly evolving. In 1968 Martin Luther King, as well as Mr Powell, used "negro".

But, like Mr Powell, Mrs Hodge was challenged to provide hard evidence, not "rumour and inaccuracy", to justify giving the oxygen of publicity to the BNP which has 12 councillors in Barking and Dagenham. It feeds on myths about immigrants. The fact is that the Labour council's points system does give preference to people with local links; that the real local problem is the cumulative shortage of new social housing to replace that lost to the Tory rent-to-buy policy which Labour has not rectified since 1997.

Last year the number of council and housing association units built in the borough fell from a very modest 572 to 230. What is true, as Jon Cruddas, Dagenham's Labour MP now running to be deputy leader, keeps saying is that social services in poor boroughs do feel the pressure of globalisation. So do falling local wage rates. "Racialising" problems will not help, better statistics leading to more Whitehall cash will, argues Cruddas whose local activists beat back the BNP. Labour in Barking did not, add Mrs Hodge's critics.


May 21, 2007

Holocaust denier David Irving expelled from Warsaw book fair

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British historian David Irving, a convicted Holocaust denier, was escorted out of an international book fair in Warsaw where he was planning to display his books, Polish organizers said Saturday. Irving, who was arrested in Austria after his arrival on a visit in November 2005, spent more than a year in an Austrian jail for denying the Nazis organized mass murder of six million Jews during World War Two.

"We asked him to leave," said Grzegorz Guzowski, the book fair organizer. "Our employees helped him pack up his things, and our car drove him to the address he specified."

He said Irving's publishers did not send materials detailing his work to the fair until a few hours before the deadline, giving organizers too little time to prevent the self-taught historian from setting up a table at the exhibition. Unlike many European countries, Polish law does not expressly forbid Holocaust denial, Warsaw University law professor Piotr Kruszynski told Reuters.

"Polish laws prohibiting the promotion of fascism and defamation of people on racial and religious grounds could conceivably be extended to include Irving's writings," he added.

Irving plans to remain in the country for a few more days to visit Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps in Poland.

"It's ironic that it's come to a situation like this in Poland, which fought against restrictions on speech for such a long time," Irving was quoted by daily Zycie Warszawy as saying.


Minister's homes priority plan angers MPs

2 Comment (s)
· UK-born families should come first, says Hodge
· Don't 'racialise' housing argument, warns Cruddas

The industry minister, Margaret Hodge, yesterday provoked a furious reaction from politicians and refugee groups by proposing that local British-born families should get priority for scarce social housing over newly arrived immigrants, with the exception of refugees.

Her comments in yesterday's Observer brought strong criticism from fellow Labour MPs and the Liberal Democrats and were used by the Conservatives to argue for stronger controls over immigration. Mrs Hodge represents Barking, an east London constituency which was once mainly white working class and is now a racially diverse area. Most of the council housing has been sold under the right to buy and the area has been a target for the British National party, which gained 11 seats on the local council last year.

Mrs Hodge wrote yesterday that the government "prioritised the needs of an individual migrant family over the entitlement that others feel they have to resources in the community. So a recently arrived family with four or five children living in a damp and overcrowded privately-rented flat with the children suffering from asthma will usually get priority over a family with less housing need who have lived in the area for three generations and are stuck at home with the grandparents." She continued: "We should look at policies where the legitimate sense of entitlement felt by the indigenous family overrides the legitimate need demonstrated by the new migrants."

Mrs Hodge advocated drawing up new rules based on such factors as citizenship, the length of residence and national insurance contributions. But the Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington, John McDonnell, who tried to challenge Gordon Brown for the Labour leadership last week, said: "This is a deeply reactionary and dangerous statement to make. The issue, however, is not the allocation of housing, but the chancellor's failure to allow affordable house building over the last 10 years - resulting in the present housing crisis."

Jon Cruddas, MP for Mrs Hodge's neighbour seat of Dagenham, and a deputy leadership candidate, said: "We're in danger of racialising arguments over housing allocation rather than concentrating on the need for greater social housing provision."

The Liberal Democrat local government spokesman, Andrew Stunell, said: "There are one-and-a-half million families on the council housing waiting list and the Labour government keeps selling houses off. The first thing to do is start building social housing again, not to blame immigrants for the catastrophic government failure to tackle the issue."

The Conservative immigration spokesman, Damian Green, said: "Margaret Hodge is admitting the long-term failure of this government to control immigration. This is why Conservatives are calling for an explicit annual limit on the numbers coming here from outside the EU so that we can avoid exactly the sort of problems she is talking about."

Nancy Kelly, of the Refugee Council, also hit out at Mrs Hodge's comments, saying: "The way to counter some of the views that are put forward by the far-right parties is not by trying to follow their lead." Ms Kelly stressed that asylum seekers were not entitled to council housing and arrivals from new EU states had restricted access to benefits.

"People who are recognised as refugees are entitled to council housing but on exactly the same basis as a UK national, on the basis of need," she said.

Mrs Hodge said last night that she had been misinterpreted by critics, as she both backed an increase in social housing and wanted refugees excluded from any restrictions.


May 20, 2007

BNP's leadership challenger loses before he even starts the challenge

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News from the BNP bunker reaches us to the effect that the current BNP leadership is fighting off the proposed challenge from Chris Jackson in the only way it knows - by completely subverting the democratic process.

Curiously for a party that purports to be the only truly democratic party in the known universe, its internal structure is probably as far away from democracy as it can possibly be. It certainly has nothing remotely like one member one vote and has recently introduced voting rights at its conference - where all the really big decisions should be made - for those who donate large sums of money into Nick Griffin's pock- party coffers.

Now it has been revealed that the leadership challenger, although he fulfils all the convoluted requirements designed solely to keep Griffin in place until he dies or the membership has made him rich enough to retire, cannot use the internet, printed, electronic or recorded material to advance his case. What, one wonders, is left? Semaphore?

This denial of fair opportunity for any challenger to put their case before the membership is indicative of the corruption and anti-democratic values of the fascist British National Party. It talks democracy all the time yet can't even manage to use it for its own membership.

This lack of democracy extends beyond the party itself. The Stormfront nazi forum - an essential online meeting place for the net-savvy BNP member as the party's own forum is regarded as too strongly censored to be of any use - has been keeping talk of the challenge (and the challenger) at an absolute minimum. Now Stormfront owner, ex-Klansman Don Black (a close friend of Nick Griffin), has come in for a mountain of criticism for closing down a huge and largely supportive Chris Jackson thread. Speculation on and off the forum is that one of the senior moderators, John Joy Tree (Andy Robertson in real life), has used his influence as a substantial financial backer of Stormfront and a staunch BNP supporter, to have the thread removed, no doubt at Nick Griffin's behest. Griffin, it should be noted, is now frequently referred to as 'Crook' Griffin. Very apt.

A 'nationalist' blog, run by one 'NorthWest Nationalist', has also reported that Chris Jackson is suddenly having problems with his phone and internet connections at this most unfortunate moment. As NWN points out, conspiracy theorists, both in and out of the far-right, will be having a field day.

Jackson should be careful. The ranks are closing to protect the BNP's Fuhrer and Jackson should bear in mind that Tony Lecomber, bomber, psycho, suspected security service grass and Griffin's greatest and most lunatic supporter, is wandering around like a loose cannon, allegedly suffering bizarre mood swings and wondering who to have a go at next.