News from Western Europe, Monday 6th May 2013

EUROPE

Hope Not Hate: Populist movements ride wave of resentment against EU. ‘By seizing a quarter of the vote in local elections this week, the UK Independence party has stamped its image on British politics in a manner comparable to populist, anti-establishment movements across continental Europe.

There is a rising possibility that Ukip and like-minded parties will ride a wave of discontent with political elites, economic distress and immigration to achieve a breakthrough in next year’s elections to the European parliament.

From France’s National Front to Finland’s True Finns, from Italy’s Five Star Movement to Hungary’s Jobbik, parties that pour scorn on the European Union’s political and technocratic establishment and embrace varying degrees of xenophobia believe the force is with them.

Arguably, the only leading EU country where populism lacks momentum is Germany, whose post-1945 political culture permits minimal space for overt anti-Europeanism, let alone hard-right racism.’

FINLAND

Translated from Finnish – Yle: Soini does not take a position on burka and niqabi-ban. ‘True Finns leader Timo Soini said MP Vesa-Matti Saarakkala burka and niqabi ban on performances on Friday evening. Lyhessä text of a post Soini is a position taken by the draft law.

- Chairman of the party I do not sign initiatives in which the party has no official position, Soini signaled.

Niqabin and the wearing of the burqa ban presented on Friday, the True Finns MP Vesa-Matti Saarakkala. According to MP’s burkien and niqabien allow the government has a clear carry input to the fact that specific groups of religious traditions over human rights.’

Finns Party MP wants fines for covering up. ‘Opposition Finns Party MP Vesa-Matti Saarakkala has for the second time called for a ban on wearing veils that conceal the face. On Friday, Saarakkala tabled a bill calling for those appearing in public wearing a niqab or burkha to be subject to a fine. The ban would affect only a few dozen women in Finland’

FRANCE

Translated from French – Le Monde: Events in Paris and in the provinces against gay marriage. ‘Between 9,000 and 20,000 people, according to sources Police and organizers showed Sunday, May 5 in the center of Lyon against the Taubira law establishing marriage between persons of the same sex. In Paris, there were 15,000, according to police, between 700 and 1000 in Lille, Rennes and 20,000, according to organizers.’

GERMANY

Deutsche Welle: Who are the defendants in the NSU trial? ‘The long-awaited trial of Beate Zschäpe and four alleged supporters of the National Socialist Underground (NSU) is set to begin in Munich. But who are the defendants charged with involvement in 10 murders?’

Reuters: Germany riveted at start of neo-Nazi murder trial. ‘he surviving member of a neo-Nazi cell blamed for a series of racist murders that scandalized Germany and shamed its authorities goes on trial on Monday in one of the most anticipated court cases in recent German history.

The chance discovery of the gang, the National Socialist Underground (NSU), which had gone undetected for more than a decade, has forced Germany to acknowledge it has a more militant and dangerous neo-Nazi fringe than previously thought, and exposed staggering intelligence failings.’

NPR: German Terrorism Trial Puts Racism Fears In The Spotlight. ’The government also doesn’t appear to have a strong case against main defendant Zschaepe, who is also accused in at least two bombings and more than a dozen bank robberies.

Daniel Koehler of Exit Deutschland, a group that helps people leave neo-Nazi movements, says if prosecutors can’t prove Zschaepe played a role in the killings, they will no longer be viewed as terrorist acts, but as simple murders committed by her two dead accomplices.

“This would mean, by the German legal definition, that this group was not a terrorist organization because they have to be three, at least,” Koehler says.

Koehler says that an acquittal would bolster German authorities who don’t view neo-Nazis as a serious threat to society.’

ITALY

France 24: Italy’s first black minister shrugs off racist slurs. ‘Italy’s first black minister, Congolese-born Cecile Kyenge, has responded to a string of racial and sexist insults after her appointment last week by declaring she is proud to be black, not coloured, and that Italy is not really a racist country.’

UPI: Italian minister sacked for anti-gay remark. ‘Italy’s equal opportunity minister was sacked after she told reporters gays should stop “ghettoizing” themselves.

Michela Biancofiore, a junior minister in Italy’s new left-right coalition government, made the comment while saying gay rights groups should do more about other societal issues, the BBC said.

“For once, I would like to see gay associations, instead of ‘ghettoizing’ themselves … say something to condemn the recent spate of killings of women (in Italy). All they do is defend their own interests,” she said.’

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