News from Western Europe, Wednesday 29th May 2013

EUROPE

Audio – NPR: Violence In Europe Leaves People Fearful. ‘The brutal murder of a soldier in London, and riots in Sweden’s capital, Stockholm, have people feeling uneasy in surrounding European communities. To find out more, host Michel Martin talks with NPR’s Europe correspondent Phil Reeves, and Mehdi Hasan, political director of The Huffington Post United Kingdom.’

AUSTRIA

Reuters: Austria says peacekeepers to stay on Golan for now. ‘Austria retracted a threat to pull 380 peacekeepers from the U.N. buffer zone between Syria and Israel, saying on Tuesday that only Britain and France – not the whole European Union – were ready to arm Syrian rebels.

Vienna had led efforts to extend an EU arms embargo on Syria, arguing that sending more weapons to the region would only fan the fighting, dash hopes for a peace deal and make Austrian peacekeeping troops potential targets for retribution.’

DENMARK

The Copenhagen Post: Fewer children deemed “unable to be integrate”. ‘Last year’s law change has worked to allow more young children residency in Denmark with their foreign parents, but Dansk Folkeparti fears a backlash

Fewer young children have had their family reunification applications turned down since the government relaxed an immigration law last June.

Concerns were raised that children under the age of 12 were routinely denied family reunification because the Immigration Service had wrongly assessed them as being unable to integrate. In 2010, 96 under-12s had their applications denied for this reason.

But in a reply to an inquiry from far-left party Enhedslisten (EL), the Justice Ministry reported that only six under-12s have had their applications turned down in a little under a year.’

FINLAND

Yle: Finns Party leader in anti-gay marriage march in Paris. ‘Timo Soini, chair of the conservative opposition Finns Party, says he participated in demonstrations against same-sex marriage in the French capital last weekend. According to the controversial political leader, he felt it was important to defend traditional marriage.’

FRANCE

Video – France 24: France holds first gay wedding amid tight security. ‘France was gearing up for its first official same-sex marriage on Wednesday with both party-goers and protesters headed to Montpellier, a southern city with a vibrant gay community that has been compared with California’s gay hub of San Francisco.

The French authorities said between 50 and 100 police officers had been deployed to the area and some 80 troops put on standby.’

French police arrest man over soldier stabbing. ‘Police investigating the stabbing of a French soldier in Paris arrested a suspect on Wednesday morning which sources described as an adherent of “radical Islam”.

“The suspected perpetrator of the attack on a soldier Saturday evening in La Defense (business district) was arrested this morning,” Interior Minister Manuel Valls said in a statement.

The statement said the suspect was arrested in the Yvelines district on the western outskirts of Paris.

Sources close to the investigation said the 22-year-old man has been a follower of a “traditionalist even radical Islam for the last three or four years”.

But the sources urged caution in a case that is still in its early stages, saying the suspect was not known to be a jihadist .’

GERMANY

Opinion – Deutsche Welle: Solingen hasn’t taught us enough. ‘Twenty years after the arson attack by right-wing extremists in Solingen on May 29, 1993, when five Turkish girls and women between the ages of four and 27 died, many ceremonies are taking place to ensure that the incident is not forgotten and repressed by the public.

But hasn’t “Solingen” already been forgotten and repressed? Aren’t the errors in the investigation of the killings of eight Turks, a Greek and a German by the National Socialist Underground (NSU) – 10 years of errors which are a disgrace for a country governed by the rule of law like Germany – the terrible result of the repression of the far-right danger in Germany?[…]

Germany will never be able to forget the National Socialist rule of violence, the Holocaust or “Kristallnacht.” International opinion and above all, Israel, will ensure that Germany is reminded whenever there are gaps in its memory. But Germany must also not repress the memory of Hoyerswerda, Rostock, Mölln and Solingen. Germans are obliged to counter the growing impression that “the Muslims are the new Jews,” as Wolfgang Benz, the prominent expert on anti-Semitism, has said.’

Translated from German – Der Spiegel: Islamic awakening: Now begins a new life. ‘What moves German who convert to Islam? Many yearn for a clear picture of God and unambiguous rules[…]

If today German convert to Islam, are the ways that lead there, as varied as the converts themselves follow the call of the Qur’an rebellious teens and seniors on the search for meaning, value, and spiritually conservative academics interested artisans. Sometimes a holiday love behind it. Others want to put a multicultural characters. Of course, there are still women and men who change religion above all, because they have a better relationship with their family Turkish or North African spouse hoping for.And again can be drawn in Islamist circles young men of hate mongers.Converts in Germany, says the political scientist Axel Kreienbrink, were now “a very colorful cross-section of the population.”

Kreienbrink directs the Migration Research Unit at the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. For a study on the role of German converts to the integration of Muslims, which appears in the second half, his team of researchers has analyzed just about all sources. Much in-depth material on it are not met. Because even though the subject since the arrest of the existing also converts from Sauerland group is discussed excited in September 2007, the facts are meager.

Especially when it comes to numbers. “Whether it’s 10,000 or 100,000 converts in Germany, no one really knows,” says Kreienbrink. In official statistics, the religion was not covered. And in contrast to the Christian churches mosques and associations conversions rarely documented in writing. The act is also so simple that many simply perform it in your own living room. Two male witnesses before you have to speak the Shahada, the formula of faith. “I bear witness that there is no god but God and that Mohammed is his messenger” After that you are Muslim.

ITALY

Presseurop: PD’s revenge, Grillo crumbles. ‘Local elections held in Italy on May 26 and 27 saw the centre left take the lead in all of the 16 major cities at stake, including Rome where Ignazio Marino has overtaken incumbent Gianni Alemanno (PDL) by more than 12 per cent.

Support for Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement (M5S) was down by more than half when compared to its 24 per cent of in recent general elections, and the movement will not feature anywhere in the second round, which is to be held on June 9 and 10.’

Reuters: Bomb threat at Milan stock market regulator was false alarm.

UPI: Italy paid refugees to leave for Germany. ‘More than 300 African refugees living in Hamburg received $646 from the Italian government to go to Germany, a letter indicates.

The refugees turned up in Italy after war broke out in Libya in 2011, The Local.de reported.

A letter from a German interior minister to refugee advisers said that thousands of refugees received money from the Italian government to leave.

About 300 of those refugees have set up homes behind the Bismarck monument in Hamburg, The Local.de said. No shelter and cold weather has left many of them ill but Hamburg officials aren’t offering help.

“They have no legal right to accommodation or state support and it would be irresponsible to give them false hope,” Hamburg Social Affairs Minister Detlef Scheele said. “There is no alternative other than for them to go where they can work and have the legal right to reside, be it Italy or their home country.”‘

THE NETHERLANDS

Dutch News: Detention policy criticised, people locked up too long says official report. ‘Failed asylum seekers and illegal immigrants awaiting deportation are being held too long in custody, according to the government’s foreigner affairs commission.

The report, due to be presented to junior justice minister Fred Teeven later on Wednesday, has been leaked to RTL news.

The commission states that foreigners are often locked up because the deportation service DT&V hopes that rejected asylum seekers will cooperate with their deportation.

This also applies to people whose claims for refugee status have been rejected but who cannot be sent back because they don’t have papers or their country of origin won’t accept them.’

Video – JN1: Allegations police losing control of Dutch “Sharia Triangle”. ‘There have been calls for an urgent debate in the Dutch parliament about the integration of Muslim immigrants after claims that one district of The Hague, known locally as “the Sharia triangle”, is being run by a form of unofficial Islamic police.

The claims relate to a district two kilometres from the city centre, where an almost entirely Muslim population of some 5,000 people surrounds the El Islam mosque, fuelling criticism that the government has failed to ensure a proper ethnic mix in schools and local housing.’

SPAIN

Translated from Spanish – El Pais: IU today signed a statement supporting the right to decide for the Catalans. ‘IU will add today to support the right to decide in Catalonia, signing a document prepared by the formation of Cayo Lara, Initiative for Catalonia and Esquerra Unida.

Heading to the Declaration on the right to decide and falls state model, according to UI in the federal model that supports this coalition, and is not a direct endorsement sovereignism. It is, however, hardly a precedent decision, seeking to unlock a “situation cystic” through the “recognition of a right.”

The statement of the diagnosis of the current situation, the political climate of Catalonia and the “malaise” that, according to the signatories, Catalan society lives in relation to the pulse remained between the Government and the Central Government on account of holding a consultation.

In the absence of a satisfactory response to this climate, consider that the right to decide may be the main item to open a new stage. The declaration seeks, in short, that the state “facilitate” a referendum on independence in Catalonia, which “recognizes explicitly that right” and that “hand shop” to those who pose. Despite the similarities with the plans of President of the Generalitat, Artur Mas, the signatories want to unlink the initiative roadmap CiU.’

The Local: ETA could rearm if peace talks collapse. ‘International experts including former Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern on Wednesday called on the Basque separatist group ETA to disarm and dismantle its military apparatus.

ETA, blamed for more than 800 deaths in a four-decade campaign of bombings and shootings for the independence of the Basque homeland which straddles northern Spain and southwestern France, announced a “definitive end” to its armed activity in October 2011.

But the group has not formally disarmed or disbanded as demanded by Madrid and Paris. It has broken ceasefires in the past.

“As an essential part of the peace process, we recommend designing a controlled, orderly and consensual process that culminates in the dismantling of weapons and military structures” of ETA, the experts said in a report presented in the Basque city of San Sebastian.’

SWEDEN

Business Day: Riots in Sweden a boost for resurgent far right. ‘Sweden’s worst riots in years might benefit a far-right party in elections next year if scenes of immigrants burning cars and smashing up buildings cause voters to rethink their traditional welcome to foreigners.

Even before the week of riots in the poorer districts of Stockholm, immigration had become an inflammatory political issue, as the number of asylum seekers reached record levels. The anti-immigration Sweden Democrats party shot to third place in polls earlier this year and the riots could help them secure more clout in next year’s elections.

The riots, where many youths torched cars and stoned riot police and rescue services, happened as violent attacks on soldiers in Britain and France, blamed on Islamist militants, raised urgent questions about intolerance and integration.’

The Local: Stockholm cop probed over pre-riot killing. ‘The Stockholm police officer who fatally shot a 69-year-old man in Husby, an incident cited as the spark that ignited last week’s widespread unrest in Stockholm, is suspected of manslaughter and has been assigned a public defence lawyer[…]

Police were called to an address in Husby on May 13th after residents in the neighbourhood reportedly said they felt threatened by the man who was holding what appeared to be a machete.

Police eventually stormed the man’s apartment, reporting that they first tried to subdue him with a flash grenade. The measure proved unsuccessful, according to police, with one officer opening fire and fatally shooting the man’

On Islam: Sweden Muslims ‘Anxious’ After Riots. ‘Recent riots in northern Stockholm following a fatal shooting of an old man are raising fears among Swedish Muslims that the violence would pour into the benefit of far-right, anti-immigrant parties to accelerate their hostile campaigns.

“It is tragic,” Rahimzadagan Abdolsaheb, 49, an Iranian-born taxi driver, told Reuters.

“This is not good for us as immigrants. It becomes harder for us to live here.

“There will surely be more racism because of this.”‘

Yle: Anonymous threats target Swedish-speaking public figures. ‘Yle reports that several Swedish-speaking or bilingual public figures have received hate mail or death threats over the past few days.

Yle journalist-presenter Bettina Sågbom said she and her family were threatened in an email she received on Monday. The threats continued in additional messages sent Tuesday.

The sender of the threatening notes was not pleased that Sågbom went public with the matter. The television personality reproduced the response to her actions in a tweet, “You made a big mistake by going public. You will die in circumstances made to look like an accident,” the anonymous menace reportedly wrote.

The stalker also claimed to be able to “find Sågbom and her family anywhere.”

The anonymous writer also demanded that Sågbom invite a representative of the Finnish Alliance to her talk show to discuss the “Policies of oppression and linguistic repression practiced during the Swedish colonial era”. The messages were liberally seasoned with colourful language.

The Finnish Alliance or Association of Finnish Culture and Identity is a nationalist movement dedicated to “strengthening Finnish identity.” The group claims to be politically non-aligned.’

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