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.

Widows Abroad Entitled to Dutch Pension

22 August 2013

 

An Amsterdam court has decided that widows abroad, who hold a Dutch surviving  relative pension, may not have their benefits removed. The decision concluded a case brought to court by eleven Moroccan and Turkish widows whose benefits as surviving widows were curtailed considerably because they moved abroad.

 

On 1 January 2013 a residence principle came into effect which demands that such payments be adjusted to the cost of living in countries outside the Netherlands. In countries such as Turkey and Morocco, where the cost of living is lower, the government reduced payments to the surviving relatives by as much as 40%. According to the court case this week, the government reduction contradicts several international agreements, and no alteration to payments should be made based on domicile of the beneficiary.

Mosque Bomb Threat Suspect Pleads Not Guilty

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – A Texas man accused of making terrorist threats against a local mosque has pleaded not guilty.
Javier Alan Correa turned himself in to U.S. Marshals in Nashville for processing on Monday.
David Boling, the spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Nashville, said Correa was released on his own recognizance. No future hearings have yet been scheduled. The 23-year-old from Corpus Christi was indicted by a federal grand jury in June. He is accused of threatening to blow up the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
The curse filled message left on a machine at the center said “there’s going to be a bomb in the building.” Correa also is charged with violating the civil rights of mosque members by using a threat of force to interfere with the free exercise of their religious beliefs. He could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
The mosque has been at the center of a fierce debate since 2010. Opponents recently prevailed in a court case that challenged its construction.

Dutch MP Faces Additional Charges During Trial for Inciting Hatred

October 12 2010

Anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders has been summoned for by a court in The Hague for charges of damaging the reputation of a local imam. Fawaz Jneid is claiming damages for the use of his image in Wilders’ 2008 anti-Islam film Fitna. Dutch law does not allow the use of pictures of individuals without their explicit consent. Jneid claims his portrait rights have been infringed, that Wilders broke the law, and that his good name has been damaged. He is seeking 55 000 euros in damages.

Meanwhile, Wilders’ court case for inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims entered its second week. The public prosecution said that Wilders should be found not guilty of insulting Muslims and non-western immigrants as a group, reasoning that by likening the Quran to Mein Kampf, Wilders criticized Islam rather than Muslims.

Trial on British MI5’s involvement in torture of Binyam Mohamed

This week’s appeal court ruling disclosed CIA-based intelligence showing that MI5 knew that British resident Binyam Mohamed had been subjected to treatment “at the very least cruel, inhuman, and degrading”. Mohamed is a former Guantánamo detainee who claims to have been tortured by US authorities with the knowledge or even support of MI5.

The appeal court, presided over by the Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, also referred to a recent US court case where the judge vindicated Mohamed’s claims that “UK authorities” had been “involved in and facilitated the ill-treatment and torture” to which he was subjected while under the control of the US. A particular document refers to MI5 officers having “deliberately misled” parliament and sharing a “culture of suppression”.

Police informant paid millions to infiltrate Toronto terrorism group testifies

A police agent who was paid $4.1 million CAD to infiltrate an alleged terror group testified for the first time on the opening day of the trial for Shareef Abdelhaleem, a member of the so-called Toronto 18.

Abdelhaleem, 34, is alleged to have used his friend, undercover police agent Shaher Elsohemy, to set up the purchase of three tones of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, destined for truck bombs targeting sites in downtown Toronto.

This morning, Elsohemy, currently in witness protection, told a Brampton court that he had developed a “strong” friendship with Abdelhaleem and frequented an Islamic school in Mississauga run by the accused’s father. Their relationship was such that the two vacationed together, taking a trip to Morocco in 2005.

“A $4.1 million payoff is pretty steep…It’s unprecedented in Canada,” Abdelhaleem’s lawyer, William Naylor told reporters, adding that’s one of the problems with the case against his client. He went on to suggest that Elsohemy was more concerned with getting money than searching for the truth.

Trial against xenophobic courtroom murderer of Marwa al-Sherbini to start Monday

Under tight security, a man stands trial in Dresden on Monday for the murder of a pregnant Egyptian woman that stoked anger against Germany and its media in her home country and the wider Muslim world. The defendant, for legal reasons named only as Alex W, is accused of stabbing to death Marwa al-Sherbini on July 1 in a courtroom.

Alex W, classed by police as xenophobic, attacked Sherbini during an appeal hearing against a fine he was ordered to pay for verbally abusing the woman at a city playground in August 2008. Sherbini, who was pregnant with her second child, was in court with her husband and 3-year-old son when the defendant lunged at her with a knife he had smuggled into the building.

The German and Egyptian governments are to keep in touch during the trial of Alex W, a German national charged with the July 1 murder of Egyptian Marwa al-Sherbini, 31, a senior aide to Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday. Maria Boehmer, Germany’s commissioner for minority affairs, made the announcement after a telephone conversation with the Egyptian ambassador to Germany, Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy, ahead of the court case due to start Monday.

Egyptians cry racism in woman’s slaying in Germany

Thousands of Egyptian mourners marched behind the coffin of the “martyr of the head scarf” on Monday — a pregnant Muslim woman who was stabbed to death in a German courtroom as her young son watched. Many in her homeland were outraged by the attack and saw the low key response in Germany as an example of racism and anti-Muslim sentiment. Her husband was critically wounded in the attack Wednesday in Dresden when he tried to intervene and was stabbed by the attacker and accidentally shot by court security. “There is no god but God and the Germans are the enemies of God,” chanted the mourners for 32-year-old Marwa al-Sherbini in her hometown of Alexandria, where her body was buried after being flown back from Germany. “We will avenge her killing,” her brother Tarek el-Sherbini told The Associated Press by telephone from the mosque where prayers were being recited in front of his sister’s coffin. “In the West, they don’t recognize us. There is racism.” Al-Sherbini, who was about four months pregnant and wore the Islamic head scarf, was involved in a court case against her neighbor for calling her a terrorist and was set to testify against him when he stabbed her 18 times inside the courtroom in front of her 3-year-old son. Her husband, who was in Germany on a research fellowship, came to her aid and was also stabbed by the neighbor and shot in the leg by a security guard who initially mistook him for the attacker, German prosecutors said. He is now in critical condition in a German hospital, according to al-Sherbini’s brother. “The guards thought that as long as he wasn’t blond, he must be the attacker so they shot him,” al-Sherbini told an Egyptian television station. The man, who has only been identified as 28-year-old Alex W., remains in detention and prosecutors have opened an investigation on suspicion of murder. Christian Avenarius, the prosecutor in Dresden where the incident took place, described the killer as driven by a deep hatred of Muslims. “It was very clearly a xenophobic attack of a fanatical lone wolf.” He added that the attacker was a Russian of German descent who had immigrated to Germany in 2003 and had expressed his contempt for Muslims at the start of the trial. At its regular news conference on Monday, a German government spokesman Thomas Steg said if the attack was racist, the government “naturally condemns this in the strongest terms.” The killing has dominated Egyptian media for days, while it has received comparatively little coverage in German and Western media. MAGGIE MICHAEL reports.

The Grand Mosque of Paris brings suit against « Charlie Hebdo »

Can the French justice system guarantee the “defense of the dignity of the Muslim religion”? The president of the French Council for the Muslim Religion (CFCM) thinks so. The CFCM president is Dalil Boubakeur, who is also rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris. One illustration, he says, is the court case which begins Wednesday, February 7 against “Charlie Hebdo”, following the magazine’s publication of the Danish artists’ caricatures of the prophet Muhammad. The Grand Mosque and the Union of Islamic Organizations of France (UOIF) made a complaint against the French magazine for “public injury to the dignity of a group of people on account of their religion.”