Human Rights First: Hate crimes, anti-Semitism on rise in Europe
American advocacy group reports increasing attacks, murders in Europe due to Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia.
Anti-Semitism and hate crimes rose last year in several places throughout Europe, according to a report released on Wednesday by the American advocacy group Human Rights First.
The report says more than 50 people were killed in Russia because of their ethnic origin, and Britain has seen a sharp rise in anti-Semitism and hate crimes since the terror attacks in London on July 7, 2005.
The report was published before an international conference to open in Bucharest on Thursday, sponsored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
The conference will discuss the struggle against anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism and xenophobia. The OSCE has 55 member-countries, including Israel.
The director of Human Rights First, Maureen Byrnes, said a number of governments, including France, Germany and Britain, had taken steps against hate crimes, but other countries remained indifferent.
The report states that those who attack Jews in Europe use criticism of Israel and its policies to justify their actions. It says Muslims are attacked in the street as a response to Islamic terror by people who see every Muslim as a legitimate target.
The report also said violence against homosexuals was no less serious than racist hatred. Only two countries in Europe, Britain and Sweden, document homophobic crimes separately, though hatred of gays came to the fore in 2006, among other instances, at Gay Pride parades in Warsaw, Moscow, Bucharest, Riga and Tallinn.
The report focuses on five European countries: Britain, France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine. It noted a sharp rise in anti-Semitism in Britain as well as a rise in Ukraine and France. The number of anti-Semitic crimes in Germany remained stable in 2006 after two years of rises.
Hate crimes in London motivated by religion climbed by as much as 600percent following the July 7, 2005 bombings on the London mass transport system.
The report notes that religious and ethnic minorities are subject to "particularly lethal violence" in areas of the former Soviet Union: 54 cases of murder and 540 cases of serious violence stemming from racial hatred were documented in Russia in 2006. The numbers were 31 and 413 the previous year.
In several cases, those accused of serious hate crimes were released by a court. In Ukraine, where precise data was not collected, reports indicated a sharp rise in crimes against foreigners, particularly blacks.
In France, hate crimes fell by 10 percent, among other things, due to major efforts by the government. However, the number of anti-Semitic crimes rose by 6.6 percent in 2006.