After mosque attack in Canada, critics point to anti-immigrant ‘trash radio’

The mayor of Quebec, Régis Labeaume along with Primier Philippe Couillard acknowledged that xenophobia and hate was being spread by what they call  “radio poubelle,” or “trash radio.” Quebec City has developed the dubious reputation of being Canada’s ­capital of shock jocks, online ­radio hosts who love to provoke with outrageous talk about women, homosexuals and Muslims.

Labeaume, appeared to criticize the radio stations. Speaking at an outdoor vigil in memory of the victims Monday evening, he denounced those who “get rich from peddling hatred.”  While Couillard acknowledged Tuesday that the province has “its demons” and that “xenophobia, racism and exclusion are present here.” But he told reporters that Quebec society is generally open and tolerant.

There is no indication that the man charged in the attack, Alexandre Bissonnette, was particularly influenced by trash radio, but members of the Muslim community were quick to complain about the corrosive impact of the anti-immigrant rhetoric heard on the city’s airwaves.

New statistics show enduringly high level of xenophobic hate crimes in Germany

According to figures released by the German Federal Criminal Police Office, 877 crimes against asylum shelters and housing units of refugees were recorded from January until late November 2016. This compares to 1031 cases in 2015 and 199 in 2014.

Offences comprised a large number of property damage cases, propaganda delicts—which include the defacing of walls with xenophobic or racial slurs—as well as 151 acts of violence. Among these, there were 64 cases of arson and five bomb attacks.(( http://www.news38.de/welt/article208868749/Dieses-Jahr-schon-877-Angriffe-gegen-Fluechtlingsheime.html ))

A spokesperson for the criminal police remained cautious as to whether the slightly lower number of attacks in 2016 meant that the peak of xenophobic violence had passed. She also noted that numbers for both 2015 and 2016 were not final and could still increase.(( http://www.schwaebische.de/panorama/aus-aller-welt_artikel,-Laut-BKA-877-Angriffe-gegen-Fluechtlingsunterkuenfte-bis-Ende-November-_arid,10574729.html ))

A potential pool of undetected cases

It is worth noting that the number of politically motivated anti-immigrant crimes overall – i.e. attacks directed not just against housing units specifically – is still substantially higher.((http://www.tagesspiegel.de/politik/fremdenfeindlichkeit-rechtsextremisten-werden-immer-haeufiger-gewalttaetig/14595458.html ))

Moreover, human rights organisations have long criticised the inability or unwillingness of Germany’s 16 federal states to comprehensively list far-right crime, repeatedly noting that official figures are far too low.((http://www.br.de/nachrichten/rechtsaussen/rechtsextremismus-extremismus-opfer-rechter-gewalt-100.html ))

In 2015, for instance, the Amadeu Antonio Foundation published findings that the number of right-wing homicides since reunification in 1990 was more than twice as high as officially recorded.((https://www.mut-gegen-rechte-gewalt.de/news/chronik-der-gewalt/todesopfer-rechtsextremer-und-rassistischer-gewalt-seit-1990 )) In the same vein, Amnesty International recently castigated the German state of systematically failing to identify and address racist violence.((https://www.amnesty.de/files/Amnesty-Bericht-Rassistische-Gewalt-in-Deutschland-Juni2016.pdf ))

An increasingly radicalised core

Even if the overall numbers of xenophobic and racist crimes might be stagnating in 2016, there are indications that the hard core of the anti-immigrant movement is increasingly prone to using more drastic means.

Officially recorded acts of attempted homicides are up, for instance, with authorities aware of 11 cases during the first three quarters of 2016. ((http://www.tagesspiegel.de/politik/rechtsextremismus-zahl-der-versuchten-toetungsdelikte-durch-neonazis-steigt-stark/14703844.html )) In another high-profile case, the far-right militant group ‘Freital’ is currently on trial on charges of terrorism and attempted murder.(( http://www.tagesschau.de/inland/gruppe-freital-anklage-101.html ))

On the one hand, this court case is a success, in the sense that a high-profile disaster comparable to the case of the National Socialist Underground (NSU) was avoided: the NSU’s string of murders had not uncovered for years due to a multiplicity of highly suspect investigatory mishaps. On the other hand, the Freital group reportedly received constant tip-offs and help from a member of the local police((http://www.zeit.de/gesellschaft/zeitgeschehen/2016-11/gruppe-freital-sachsen-polizei-leck-ermittlungsverfahren )) – a fact that once more raises questions about the capacity of German security forces to deal with the right-wing threat.

Manufacturing Bigotry: A State-by-State Legislative Effort to Pushback Against 2050 by Targeting Muslims and Other Minorities

Based on review and analysis of laws passed and bills proposed in 6 identified issue areas, some key findings are noted below:
i. Red states, or states dominated by Republican lawmakers, have the most restrictive legislative agendas across all six (6) issue areas for both laws passed and bills proposed.
ii. However, a relatively small number of lawmakers, 480 out of 3813 (12.6%) Republican state legislators are sponsors of restrictive bills proposed in more than one issue area. This indicates that, more than “red vs. blue” politics, this is a “red vs. red” issue, reflecting internal disagreements within the Republican Party at the state-level.
 iii. Additionally, as both parties have become more polarized, it has squeezed out ideological moderates in both parties. Particularly in the Republican Party, more moderate female Republican lawmakers have been undercut, and the more conservative female Republican lawmakers remain. This is critical because female legislators tend to be more effective than men, as well as more moderate, and collaboration- and consensus-oriented.4 With regard to anti-sharia specifically,
iv. 630 of the total 3813 (16.5%) Republican state legislators have sponsored or co-sponsored an antisharia/anti-”foreign law” bill.
v. And 80% of the 102 anti-sharia bills were sponsored or co-sponsored by an overlap legislator, or legislator who sponsored or co-sponsored a restrictive law in another of the six issue areas.
vi. It is critical to note that the greatest overlap with anti-sharia/anti-”foreign law” legislation is not with anti-immigration laws as might be thought but with strict Voter ID laws and Right-to-Work laws. Both of these types of laws negatively and disproportionately impact African-Americans, women and Latinos. Thus, if a lawmaker wants to support legislation marginalizing the most people at one time, antisharia along with Voter ID and/or Right-to-Work would help to achieve that end.
 vii. Although the linkage between anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim advocacy is very strong, research indicates that anti-immigration law proposals are limited in number because of the high political and financial costs of implementing legislation that faces widespread opposition from religious groups and business interests alike5 .
Institute for Social Policy and Understanding: link to pdf of report: http://www.ispu.org/files/PDFs/ISPU%20Manufacturing%20Bigotry[4].pdf

Formation of the ‘Alliance for Open-Mindedness’: An attempt at inter-religious dialogue in a toxic political climate

Leading representatives of Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim religious organisations, as well as the heads of employer associations and unions, and of umbrella associations in the fields of culture, sports and social welfare joined hands in the creation of the ‘Alliance for Open-Mindedness’. According to Zekeriya Altug, spokesman of the Coordination Council of Muslims in Germany, the Alliance’s objective is to speak out against fringe movements – especially those from the populist far-right – claiming to represent the societal mainstream. This sentiment – a thinly veiled reference to right-wing protestors to chant ‘We are the people!’ at their anti-immigrant and anti-Islam rallies – was echoed by the leaders of the other confessional organisations. The Alliance conceives of itself as a civil society platform without any party affiliation, seeking to offer a space for religious and social dialogue. Under the header ‘human dignity shall be inviolable’, the Alliance issued an initial proclamation demanding a less hysterical debate on questions of immigration and integration that would remain mindful of fundamental commitments to human rights and to the German Basic Law.

Austria Passes ‘Law on Islam’ Requiring Austrian Muslim Groups To Use German-Language Qurans

Austria’s parliament passed a law on Wednesday that seeks to regulate how Islam is administered, singling out its large Muslim minority for treatment not applied to any other religious group.

The “Law on Islam” bans foreign funding for Islamic organizations and requires any group claiming to represent Austrian Muslims to submit and use a standardized German translation of the Koran.

The law met with little opposition from the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic population, was backed by Austria’s Catholic bishops, and was grudgingly accepted by the main Muslim organization. But it upset Turkey’s state religious establishment.

“We want an Islam of the Austrian kind, and not one that is dominated by other countries,” said Sebastian Kurz, the 28-year-old conservative foreign minister – formally the minister for foreign affairs and integration – who is easily Austria’s most popular politician.

Austria’s half a million Muslims make up about 6 percent of the population and are overwhelmingly the families of Turkish migrant workers. Many of their imams are sent and financed by Turkey’s state religious affairs directorate, the Diyanet.

Mehmet Gormez, head of the Diyanet, said before the law was passed that “with this draft legislation, religious freedoms in Austria will have fallen back a hundred years.”

Austria’s biggest Islamic organization, IGGiO, accepted the law, but its youth arm opposed it, as did the Turkish-financed Turkish-Islamic Union in Austria (ATIB), which runs many mosques and has vowed to challenge the bill in the Constitutional Court.

RELATIONS UNPROBLEMATIC

While the government has said Islamist militancy is on the rise, and around 170 people have left Austria to join jihadists in Syria or Iraq, Austria has experienced no Islamist violence of note, and relations with the Muslim community have been relatively unproblematic. Unlike France, Austria has not banned Muslim women from wearing full-face veils in public.

Nevertheless, the opposition far-right Freedom Party, which opposed the bill as too mild, attracts about 25 percent support with an anti-immigrant stance that is also highly critical of Islam. Meanwhile, the ruling Socialist and conservative parties struggle to muster a majority together.

Austria’s neighbor Germany has also experienced an upsurge of anti-Islam sentiment in the form of the weekly PEGIDA protests in Dresden.

These have, however, been met with much larger anti-racism demonstrations and a robust response from Chancellor Angela Merkel, mindful of Nazi Germany’s persecution of Jews, who asserted that “Islam belongs to Germany.”

The Austrian government says the new law strengthens Muslims’ legal status, for example by guaranteeing Islamic pastoral care in hospitals and the army, and protecting Muslims’ rights to eat and produce food according to Islamic rules.

The bill updates a “Law on Islam” dating from 1912 that was intended to guarantee the rights of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Muslims in the Austro-Hungarian empire. Turkey’s Gormez, who had attended centenary commemorations for the 1912 law, said its replacement would disregard the “morals and laws of coexistence” that Austria had established a century ago. (Additional reporting by Tom Heneghan in Paris and Ece Toksabay in Istanbul; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

Long-term observation in Wien-Floridsdorf, Vienna

July 3, 2014

In 2005 a home for people seeking asylum was built in Wien-Floridsdorf, Vienna. Back then the residents were explicitly against it. Now a long-term observation in Wien-Floridsdorf shows, that after more than nine years none of the concerns and fears, which were at the first place responsible for the resistance, are playing an important role anymore. A team of reporters documented the events over nine years.

Wilders trial to go ahead with expanded charges

A court in Amsterdam ruled on Wednesday that Geert Wilders’ trial on hate crime charges will proceed as scheduled on January 20.

Earlier this week, the public prosecution service announced the expansion of charges against Wilders. Initially charged for religious insult and anti-Muslim hatred evidenced in his online movie Fitna and his public statements, Wilders now faces additional charges of inciting hatred against Muslims, Moroccans, and non-Western immigrants following his claim that Moroccan youths are violent and calling for Holland’s borders to be closed to all non-western immigrants, Volkskrant reported.

Following the expansion of charges, Wilders and his lawyer Bram Moskowicz attempted to appeal the court date. On Wednesday the court ruled Wilders’ appeal inadmissible, saying the defense had not produced any new facts or evidence.

According to AFP, Wilders faces up to one year in jail if convicted.

Italy, Libya agree joint anti-immigrant patrols

Italy and Libya have agreed to jointly patrol the Mediterranean Sea to stop illegal immigration from Libya to Italy. In the deal, Italy will supply Libya with six patrol boats to help officials from both countries increase their watch at ports and beaches that serve as popular departure points. The deail will save many human lives and dismantle criminal gangs said Italian minister Giuliano Amati; thousands of migrants try to make the trip each ear, with many dying at sea. It is not yet known when the joint patrols would begin.