‘Hate crimes are a reality in the EU,’ agencies say

Vienna-based rights group releases the results of two new reports showing hate-based crimes across the European Union.

By JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
November 28, 2012 23:48
3 minute read.
The European Parliament building in Strasbourg

EU building 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Vincent Kessler)

 
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BERLIN – The Vienna-based European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) announced on Tuesday the result of two new reports showing hate-based crimes across the EU.

According to one FRA study, “on average, 18% of all Roma and 18% of all sub-Saharan African respondents in the survey indicated that they had experienced at least one racially motivated crime in the last 12 months.”

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EU countries, such as Austria and Hungary, have been rocked over the last week by outbreaks of political and Islamic-based anti-Semitic incidents.

In Vienna, a group of radical Austrian Muslims called for “death to the Jews” during a protest against the IDF’s Operation Pillar of Defense.

Another example is that of the extremist right-wing Hungarian politician Marton Gyongyosi, who recommended that the government formulate a list of Jews in Hungary who might be a “national security threat.”

In an email to The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday, Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, a Jerusalem-based expert on European prejudices and anti-Semitism, wrote, “These reports confirm what anti-Semitism experts have known for a long time. Europe is hiding behind a false mask of humanitarianism.”

“Almost everybody has looked away in the past when the Amadeo Antonio Foundation claimed that 182 people have been murdered in Germany by right-wing extremists since the reunification of Germany in 1990. As far as anti- Semitism is concerned, it is shocking that... only twelve European countries report on anti-Semitic incidents,” Gerstenfeld continued.

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One of the two FRA reports – entitled “Making hate crime visible in the European Union: Acknowledging victims’ rights” – addressed the rights approach to hate-based crime and provided a comparative analysis of official data collection within the EU.

The second report, “EUMIDIS Data in Focus 6: Minorities as Victims of Crime,” lists data on “respondents’ experiences of victimization across five types of crime, from theft to serious harassment. One section of the report looks specifically at minorities as victims of racist crime.”

Critics such as Gerstenfeld see a failure in European reports on hatred to address rising anti-Semitism, including its modern expression – hatred of Israel – from European Muslim communities.

“It is equally shocking that the earlier report of the German Social Democrat Friedrich Ebert Foundation got so little attention. It said inter alia that perhaps 45% of Europeans think that Israel intends to exterminate the Palestinians,” Gerstenfeld noted.

“This is a new mutation of the classic widespread worldview that Jews are absolute evil. I see nothing mentioned about the disproportionate number of anti-Semitic acts coming out of the immigrant Muslim communities and their descendants,” he continued.

“Most European politicians do not want to know these facts as the system is incompetent to do anything about it.

Most countries do not even want to pay for the security measures European Jews have to take to protect their institutions.

One indeed wonders whether conscious Jews should not advise their children to leave an increasingly racist and decadent continent.”

FRA director Morten Kjaerum said in a statement that “hate crimes create an ‘us and them’ mentality that does tremendous psychological damage.”

“They undermine the basic democratic tenets of equality and non-discrimination. Hate crimes thus harm not only the victim, but also other people belonging to the same group – many of whom are terrified that they will become the next target – and society as a whole.

To counter this, the EU and its member states need to ensure both that such crimes are made visible, and that offenders are made to answer for the damage they have done.” Kjaerum added.

“It is alarming how the EU deals with minorities,” Samuel Laster, an Israeli reporter in Vienna who has reported extensively on bias against minorities in central Europe, told the Post. He reiterated Gerstenfeld’s analysis on the deficits of the FRA with respect to combating modern forms of anti-Semitism, said that, though the Danish director of the FRA recognizes the contemporary EU definition of anti-Semitism that also includes hate of Israel, the definition, however, is difficult to find in the FRA’s organizational work and documents.

The FRA is currently active in nine EU member states to gather data on the “Jewish people’s experiences and perceptions of anti-Semitism and help combat anti-Semitism.”

The results are expected to be released in 2013-2014.

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