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We will also post relevant news worthy items and information on Human rights issues, racism, extremist individuals and groups and far right political parties from around the world although predominantly Britain.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Dutch Election: Anti-Islam Parties Expected To Make Gains

Dutch voters seeking fiscal discipline and tighter immigration laws appear ready to back a new right-wing government in a national election Wednesday – and may even double their support for strident anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders.

An immigrant-wary, free-market party that hasn't led a government in nearly 100 years – the Peoples Party for Freedom and Democracy, known as the VVD – has taken a commanding lead in the polls. That positions Mark Rutte, its 43-year-old leader, to be a potential prime minister and form the country's next cabinet.

Rutte has not ruled out bringing Wilders into a governing coalition.

The country's fourth election since 2002 comes after the Labor Party brought down Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's centrist government in March over its refusal to extend the Dutch military contribution to fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.

But Afghanistan has barely been mentioned in the three-month campaign, as budget cuts rose swiftly up the agenda and immigration remained a key issue.

Wilders, the maverick politician who denounces Islam as a fascist religion, seized the spotlight early with a program that included a tax on headscarves worn by Muslim women.

At one time, his 4-year-old Freedom Party led the opinion polls, but fell back dramatically to fourth place after attention shifted to the European financial crisis and demands to cut the country's deficit, now predicted to run at 6.3 percent of GDP this year.

The focus on economic issues helped Rutte's party gain prominence. Although it has joined several center-right and center-left coalitions before, it has not led a government since before World War I.

Although less outspoken than Wilders, Rutte has warned that "welfare tourism" with open doors to migrants from Muslim countries and eastern Europe who would be a drain on the economy.
Polls suggest that Job Cohen, 62, the former mayor of Amsterdam who took over the Labor party leadership after the collapse of the government, is the most popular single candidate. But his party lags in second place well behind the VVD.

Cohen has warned Rutte that his plan to cut euro20 billion ($24 billion) in government spending over five years will hurt the poor.

"We're not going to budget-cut the economy to death," Cohen said. "We will make sure people keep their jobs. For that you need politicians that work together on solutions, a Netherlands where everybody counts."

Polls say Wilders may win at least twice the nine seats he currently holds in the 150-member parliament. But it was unclear whether Wilders, whose unfettered rhetoric has made him the target of death threats, would be an acceptable partner in a coalition.

Wilders faces a criminal trial later this year on charges of inciting hatred and discrimination with his 17-minute film "Fitna," which portrayed Islam as encouraging terrorism and rejecting Western values.

"Why is that I have to debate with a bulletproof vest on and not you?" Wilders asked Cohen at a televised debate Monday. "(Islam is) a totalitarian, violent, intolerant religion. Open your eyes."

Huffington Poat

Muslim project leader set to share anti-extremism message with US

The head of a scheme tackling radicalisation of Muslim youth in Scotland has been invited to explain the project to the US Congress.

Azeem Ibrahim, who helped establish the Glasgow-based Solas Foundation less than a year ago, will brief a Homeland Security meeting in Washington’s Capitol Hill later this month.

Solas, which is funded through the businessman’s charity, the Ibrahim Foundation, aims to tackle Muslim extremism at grassroots level through education.

Ibrahim, 34, said: “It is vital to reach young people and teach them the tenets of Islam while explaining extremist narrative and letting them recognise it for the perversion and idiocy it actually is.

“Prevention is better than cure and our project has been very successful so far in making a difference on the ground.”

Ibrahim became involved in Solas last year when it was set up by Scottish Muslim scholars Shaykh Amer Jamil and Shaykh Ruzwan Muhammed.

The academics devised a syllabus designed to be accessible at various levels, which is currently taught at Glasgow University.

Ibrahim, who was named an emerging world leader by Yale University, wrote a policy memo detailing the work of Solas.
This came to the notice of advisers to the Obama government and the invitation to Capitol Hill followed.

Ibrahim believes young Muslims become radicalised when they begin to believe Islam condones violence and shut their minds to other viewpoints.

“A lot of ideas are being floated that are reprehen-sible: registration of mosques, increased security checks on Muslims, racial profiling.

“In the long term you are only alienating people.”

He added: “When you research how radicalisation actually works, one striking fact sticks out: almost all Islamist terrorists actually have no authentic education in Islam.”

Meanwhile, in an online survey of 2152 UK adults last month showed 58% of respondents associate Islam with extremism, 50% associate it with terrorism and 69% believe it encourages the repression of women

Herald Scotland

Immigration still an issue for voters in Dutch election

On a blustery grey day in Amsterdam's Westermarkt, the last hours of campaigning in the Dutch election are ticking away.

Pushing though shoppers rifling through piles of cheap knickers, fluffy bath towels and three-for-five-euro jewellery offers, rival campaign teams from the Labour party (PVDA) and the free-market liberals (VVD) hand out leaflets.

In among the indigenous Dutch is a broad selection of the nationalities that make Amsterdam one of the world's most heterogeneous cities.

One hundred and seventy-seven different nationalities live in the Netherlands' largest city including, at the last count, three people from Bhutan and six from Laos.

Headscarves, dreadlocks and hijabs are all found in abundance.

Leading the effort of the VVD - which looks likely to be the single largest party come Thursday - is Kamran Ullah, a 26-year-old candidate of Pakistani descent.

The stallholders, perhaps unsurprisingly, talk of the economy, and the coming budget cuts as the big issue of the campaign. And the VVD's candidate, like those of all the big parties, agrees.

Unspoken taboo
"The elections are really about the economy," says Mr Ullah, "what will change after the elections, with the crisis, the recession and the credit crunch. It's really about the economy."

Which may seem odd, given that political debate in the Netherlands has been convulsed by arguments about the Dutch model of integration and immigration ever since Pim Fortuyn breached the unwritten and unspoken taboo on such subjects in the national elections of 2002.
Mr Fortuyn was shot and killed nine days before that poll. His political heir, Geert Wilders, is now trying to keep the debate alive as the Netherlands is buffeted by Europe's economic crisis.

"Of course [the campaign] is a lot about the economy," Mr Wilders tells the BBC on his last campaign stop in Rotterdam, "but it is also about security, it's about immigration.

"Immigration also has an enormous economic impact. We believe that cutting immigration for economic reasons should be part of the campaign.

"Other parties are sometimes laughing about it and saying, 'Hey, you should not be talking about that,' but a lot of people here in the Netherlands, millions of them, believe that immigration and the economy have a lot to do with each other."

But has Mr Wilders' message been drowned out by the grim economic situation?

Different story
"This campaign was only about economics and how they have to cut the deficit and who will pay for it," says Maurice De Hond, one of the country's top pollsters. "That's the only topic that was important during this campaign."

That fits traditional political theory for mature democracies: in tough times, pocketbook issues trump everything else.

But half an hour's train ride outside Amsterdam, in the overspill town of Almere, where Mr Wilders' PVV triumphed in local elections in March, there is a different story.
Wander through the pedestrianised retail centre of the town and nearly everyone mentions immigration, integration, and foreigners as the big issues of the campaign.

In five years of covering European elections, I have never come across people speaking so frankly about the problems of immigration and integration.

Out-and-proud Wilders supporters are thin on the ground. But on these tidy streets, lined with mid-range global brands, mass immigration and its impact are high in shoppers' minds.

'It's getting worse'
Kirsten Fenvelt, a 33-year-old secretary, admits that the topic is uncomfortable, but plunges in.
"It's a problem with strange people," she says. "Some people don't want to work and they want the money, and for me that's an issue, because I live with a lot of people like that around.

"It's not getting any better," she adds. "For the last few years it's been getting worse and worse. Something should happen."

"Officially, this issue has faded away," say political commentator Syp Wynia, "but that's also what the traditional parties want.
"In countries like ours… it's a sort of triangle. Crime is one point of the triangle. Another one is your income, the future of the welfare state. And the other one is immigration.

"It was generally recognised that this triangle existed in the last 10 years. And I'm sure that among the general public, amongst voters, the triangle still exists."

Make or break
Analysts say the leading conservative party, the VVD, pinched a fair number of the PVV's clothes, adopting an immigration policy that is in all but rhetoric the same as Mr Wilders'.

And if current polls are correct, Mr Wilders' PVV could make or break a right-wing coalition.

Win or lose on Wednesday, Geert Wilders - and the debate he inherited and encouraged - has challenged, and changed, the Netherlands' idea of itself.

BBC News

Carmarthen school 'should clamp down on pupil's racist website'

CARMARTHENSHIRE council has been criticised for distancing itself from an extreme right-wing website created by a county borough schoolboy.

A 16-year-old GCSE pupil at Queen Elizabeth High School in Carmarthen has been identified as the creator of The Carmarthenshire Front website, which calls for the closure of all mosques and warns of a threat against white men.

Campaigners for racial equality and members of a leading teaching union say the local authority should be working to educate youngsters in order to eradicate racial prejudice.

The call comes after both the council and school declined to take action against the pupil.

Rex Phillips, from teaching union NASUWT Wales, said: "Although the school has correctly and swiftly dissociated itself from this racist website, the Carmarthenshire authority is wrong to claim that this is not a school matter. Such complacency is wholly unacceptable."

The website features videos of BNP leader Nick Griffin talking about the "Islamification" of Europe, and describes the dangers facing the "white man" from a "tsunami of immigration".

A member of the senior leadership team at Queen Elizabeth High School said: "We have got no control over what an individual writes in their spare time. We completely and totally dissociate ourselves from anything of this nature."

Meanwhile, a statement from the council added: "Queen Elizabeth High School completely disassociates itself from this website and its contents. This is not a school matter."

However, Taha Idris, director of Swansea Bay Racial Equality Council, said: "Protesters like the Welsh Defence League may influence young, impressionable people so it is vital that we educate our youths." Chris Keates, General Secretary of NASUWT added: "There is still much more to be done to protect young people from having their attitudes poisoned in this way.

"Families, schools, communities and government all have a responsibility to combat and challenge these unacceptable views.

"It is not acceptable for either the school or local authority to claim to have no responsibility in this matter."

However Carmarthenshire Council has defended its stance.

Head of improvement and skills Wyn Williams said: "The county council is very active in working with schools and instilling core values and beliefs in our children and young people.

"Our Children and Young People's Plan promotes a number of key values and beliefs, which are taught in our schools.

"It clearly states that children and young people should appreciate and respect their own and others' beliefs and attitudes."

Wales online


Out of all ethnic minorities, Czechs have the worst relation to Romanies, whom three-quarters of them consider unlikable, according to poll the CVVM agency released Friday. Apart from themselves, Czechs like Slovaks the most. Nine in ten Czechs like Slovaks. Czechs also like Poles, Greeks and Jews, the poll showed. Their assessment of Romanies sharply differs from their approach to the other minorities. On the seven-mark scale, they received the worst mark from two-fifths of the country's inhabitants. Only 14 percent of people described Romanies as likeable. Last year the Czechs' relation to the Romany minority was even worse. Seventy-seven percent of them said they resented Romanies and only 9 percent expressed friendly relations to them. In all similar polls the CVVM has held since 2003, the Czechs have expressed highest sympathies for themselves.

In the latest polls, they gave the mark 1.56 to themselves on the scale where 1 and 7 are the best and the worst marks, respectively. Slovaks received the mark 1.91, with only 4 percent of Czechs calling them unlikeable. Positive assessment from over 50 percent of Czechs was also received by the Greeks, Jews and Germans, while Bulgarians are viewed as likeable by slightly below 50 percent of Czechs. Positive assessment also prevails in relation to the Hungarian minority. Serbs, Russians and Vietnamese are viewed as likeable and unlikeable by about the same number of Czechs. Anthipaties prevail in the Czechs' relation to Romanians, Ukrainians and Albanians. The poll was conducted on 1079 people over 15 in early March. It focused on 15 ethnic minorities living in the Czech Republic.

Prague Monitor


A lesbian couple wed Monday in Portugal's first same-sex ceremony since the predominantly Catholic country introduced a law allowing gay marriage last month. Teresa Pires and Helena Paixao, divorced Portuguese mothers in their 30s who have been together since 2003, married in a 15-minute ceremony at a Lisbon registry office. "This is a great victory, a dream come true," Pires said as the couple kissed and hugged. "Now we're a family, that's the important thing," Pires said, adding they would continue to fight for equal rights for homosexuals, including adoption. The ceremony came less than a month after Portugal's conservative president ratified a gay marriage law passed by Parliament in January. His approval made Portugal the sixth in Europe to let same-sex couples wed. The center-left Socialist government said the law is part of its effort to modernize Portugal, where homosexuality was a crime until 1982. Three years ago the same government lifted Portugal's ban on abortion, despite church opposition. Pires and Paixao, the lesbian couple, had campaigned for a change in the law since a registry office turned them away when they first tried to marry in 2006. Officials argued the law stipulated that marriage was between people of different sexes. The women appealed to Portugal's Constitutional Court because the constitution forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation. The court rejected their appeal, but left-of-center parties in Parliament supported the government bill which removed the reference to marriage being between different sexes.

Associated Press

Eight "Neo-Nazis" Arrested over Tram Attack in Sofia, Bulgaria

Eight men, believed to be Neo-Nazis, has been arrested for attacking youngsters in a tram on Sunday morning, the Bulgarian interior minister said Monday.

According to Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov, some of the attackers have previous criminal records for hooliganism. The gang included about 15 people, say witnesses.

The arrested beat four youngsters between 17 and 23 years old in Sofia public transport tram. 17-year-old boy suffered the most injures. He was admitted in Child Antischock Hall in “Pirogov” Hospital with fracture of left elbow, left clavicle, bone of the left palm, as well as head wounds.

According to the doctor, Hariton Novkov, the boy is in good overall condition and will recover quickly if there is no inflammation.

The beaten young people were on their way to rally against the illegal detention of foreigners at the Special Centre for Temporary Accommodation of Foreigners in Busmantsi, widely known as the Bulgarian Guantanamo.

The Centre has come under fierce criticism by NGOs and intellectuals for making locking people up pretty much the norm, holding people not temporarily but for years, providing no information how long they are going to be detained, imposing information blackout on the self-abuse and suicide attempts many detainees resort to.