News from Western Europe, Monday 1st April 2013

EUROPE

JN1: Islamist websites outnumber moderates 100-1. ‘There are more than 10,000 extremist websites on the Internet compared to fewer than 100 countering them. They support murder, the overthrow of governments, and wars of extermination.

Experts on the problem think the world needs to do something about it.

Rohan Gunaratna, who heads the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research in Singapore, said extremists have taken the high ground in the battle for the internet.’

BELGIUM

Video – Flanders News: Gaol for Poles convicted of mindless violence. ‘Eleven Poles have received sentences of up to 3 years in gaol after a man was attacked and kicked on an Antwerp tram.’

Terrorist suspect’s wife stays in gaol. ‘The widow of the terrorist suspect shot dead by the police in Ath (Wallonia) last Tuesday is to remain in custody. Earlier police discovered arms, explosives and military equipment at the home that the couple shared in the Brussels borough of Anderlecht.

After the terrorist suspect was shot dead police raided the house in Anderlecht. Finding the arms cache and ammunition it was decided to detain the terrorist suspect’s common law wife in connection with arms possession charges.’

PressEurop: ‘The very international career of alleged terrorist Benladghem’. ‘Hakim Benladghem was shot by Belgian special forces on the Lille-Brussels motorway on March 26. Under Belgian and French surveillance since 2008, police report that he was planning to commit a series of attacks, notably in Brussels.

The 39-year-old Franco-Algerian had trained as a “para-commando” with the French Foreign Legion. He moved to Belgium in 2008, which was also the year in which he became an extremist. He had notably made several attempts to enter Israel with a view to fighting in Gaza.’

FINLAND

YLE: Finns party warns Nazi clock row councilor. ‘Risto Helin gave the clock to the group, which calls itself simply ‘Kerho’, or ‘the club’, two years ago—before he joined the Finns party and before he was elected as a councillor.

His party colleagues discussed the matter with him gave him a warning as to his future conduct. Local MP Maria Tolppanen, who chairs the Vaasa party branch, said that there would not be a second warning as a repeat would bring a harsher punishment. According to Tolppanen, the club involved has ‘patriot’ and skinhead members, some of whom consider themselves to be nazis.’

FRANCE

France 24: Homophobia in France: Homeless for being gay. ‘Since a bill legalising same-sex marriage and adoption in France was introduced last year, organisations like SOS Homophobie and Le Refuge, which provide support to victims of homophobia, have noticed a significant hike in cries for help from young people[…]

According to SOS Homophobie’s president, Elisabeth Ronzier, the organisation has received a 30 percent increase in calls during the year 2012 – a number she said has only continued to grow since the beginning of 2013.

“During the debate we received calls from people who told us they just couldn’t take it anymore, but then we also got calls from people who had never been victims of homophobia before in their lives because they had always been accepted by their communities. The debate was the first time they had ever felt it,” Ronzier told FRANCE 24.

Le Refuge, which gives housing to victims of homophobia between the ages of 18 and 25 who have been kicked out of their homes, has experienced a similar influx of demand for their services. Clio Léonard, who runs the organisation’s programme in Paris, said that they received 200 calls in the month of December alone, or six times the monthly average.’

Al Qaeda in North Africa warns France in first tweet. ‘Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, best known by its French acronym AQMI, has opened its own Twitter account, posting five messages since March 28. Its first messages via the popular micro-blogging website have specifically targeted France, threatening to kill French hostages.

“Will the French people succeed in convincing [President François] Hollande to save the lives of the hostages?” the debut tweet from the @Andalus_Media account provocatively asked.’

The Independent: Eiffel Tower evacuated after bomb threat. ‘Visitors were evacuated from Paris’s Eiffel Tower last night after an anonymous phone call announcing an attack.

About 1,400 people were removed and a security perimeter was set up around the monument. Security guards were also ordered to leave, a decision described as unusual.

Police then searched the area with sniffer dogs for possible explosives.

Security has recently been stepped up across France amid concerns about threats to France over its military campaign in Mali.’

JTA: France reportedly backs designating Hezbollah militiamen as terrorists. ‘The French government supports adding the armed wing of Hezbollah to the European Union’s list of terrorist organizations, an Arabic daily reported.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius informed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry of Paris’ decision at a meeting on Wednesday, the London-based Al Hayat daily reported Friday.’

Letter sent to French chief rabbi threatens Jewish journalists. ‘The chief rabbi of France received a letter from an obscure organization warning of “brutal actions” against French Jewish journalists.

“Before we take brutal measures, the only ones at our disposal, we approach you because those corrupt journalists are Jewish,” read the letter sent recently to Rabbi Gilles Bernheim in Paris.’

On Islam: Hijab Controversy Dominates Le Bourget. ‘Muslim leaders opened France’s largest Islamic conference on Friday, March 29 in a climate of anxiety resulting from a recent controversy about hijab.

“There is a real sense of unease among us,” Ahmed Jaballah, president of the umbrella Union of Islamic Organizations of France (UOIF), told Agence France-Presse (AFP).’

Reuters: Former ETA head, blamed for airport bomb, dies in hospital. ‘The former head of Basque separatist group ETA believed to have ordered the Madrid airport bombing that ended a truce in 2006 has died while serving a prison term in France, an ETA prisoner support group said on Saturday.’

The Globe and Mail: Suicide bomber, landmines rock northern Mali, killing three. ‘A suicide bomber attempted to force his way past the defences of the city of Timbuktu on Saturday, detonating himself on its outskirts, while a landmine exploded in another part of northern Mali, killing a total of three, officials said.

The twin attacks come as French President Francois Hollande told French television that French forces had attained their objectives in Mali, a country which until January had lost its northern half to an al-Qaeda cell and their allies.’

The Voice of Russia: Malian, French troops engage Timbuktu infiltrators. ‘Malian forces backed by French troops are mopping up resistance by terrorists who managed to infiltrate Timbuktu last night.

Two of the infiltrators have been killed, and four of the soldiers have received wounds.

Timbuktu is the biggest city in northern Mali. In late January, French-led forces liberated it from Maghreb Jihadists.’

GERMANY

Deutsche Welle: Ankara ‘requests’ Turkish media access to NSU trial. ‘Turkey has made a formal appeal to Germany for Turkish media to be granted access to the murder trial of alleged neo-Nazi terrorist Beate Zschäpe. Eight of ten victims were of Turkish origin.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was reported to have telephoned his German counterpart on Saturday to request that Turkish media be given access to the forthcoming trial, which will examine a string of neo-Nazi murders.

The German Sunday newspaper “Bild am Sonntag” reported that Davutoglu also asked German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle to allow Turkish members of parliament to be present.

However, the newspaper said that, while Westerwelle had expressed his understanding for the request, he had also cited the independence of Germany’s justice system from the government.’

Hurriyet Daily News: Restrictions in neo-Nazi trial clouds transparency: German Greens leader. ‘The German Greens are outraged that the Turkish media has been restricted in reporting the trials of the neo-Nazi group responsible for the killings of eight Turks, said party co-chair Claudia Roth March 30.

Roth, who is currently in southeastern Turkey to visit local associations and politicians, said the German court’s decision compromised the transparency of the trial. “We cannot understand why the international media outlets, the families of the victims and the Turkish missions in Germany are not allowed. This group deliberately targeted people of Turkish descent, so it is important that the case is followed by the international media to bring more transparency,” she said.’

ITALY

EU Observer: Italian President rules out resignation. ‘Italian President Napolitano has said he will stay until his mandate ends on 15 May. “I can at least contribute … to the aim of unblocking a political situation,” he said, Reuters reports. Reuters earlier on Saturday cited a source as saying Napolitano might resign early to prompt snap elections.’

France 24: Wave of African refugees arrives on Italian, Maltese shores. ‘Four boats carrying a total of 342 migrants have landed in Italy and Malta, officials said Friday, as improved weather conditions in the Mediterranean herald more arrivals from Libyan shores.

Three of the boats with 260 people on board were intercepted by Italian coast guards and taken to an immigration centre on the tiny island of Lampedusa, which is closer to north Africa than to the Italian mainland.’

The Guardian: Silvio Berlusconi reiterates call for grand coalition government in Italy. ‘Silvio Berlusconi has positioned himself as a benevolent statesman acting in the best interests of Italy as he reiterated his call for a grand coalition government with his opponents to break the political deadlock after last month’s election.

As he emerged on Friday from a meeting with President Giorgio Napolitano, the head of state who has led a series of day closed-doors consultations with the parties, Berlusconi said there was “no other solution” than a broad coalition government that included his own centre-right Freedom People (PdL) party.’

THE NETHERLANDS

RAPSI: Dutch police wrap up investigation into Russian activist’s death. ‘The Dutch police have completed the investigation into Russian national Alexander Dolmatov’s death in the Netherlands, Gazeta.ru reports.

According to the online news resource, the police have already sent their conclusions to the deceased’s lawyer and will shortly forward them to Netherlands’ parliament’s working group on Dolmatov and to the Ministry of Security and Justice.

At the same time, the Netherlands Embassy in Moscow will deliver the documents to Dolmatov’s mother.’

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