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They ask for a reform of the Penal Code in order to shut down neo-Nazi websites
They alert especially concerning xenophobic and racist expressions on the web
“What is illegal in the press isn’t illegal on the Internet,” they explain
A survey reveals that 34.6% have an “unfavorable opinion” about Jews
Olga R. Sanmartín
March 30, 2011
The Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain (FCJE) and Movement against Intolerance warned this Wednesday that in recent years there has been an “extraordinary” and “dangerous” growth of antisemitism in our country.
In a press conference to present the Report on Antisemitism in Spain during 2010, Jacobo Israel, president of the FCJE, and Esteban Ibarra, president of the Movement against Intolerance, warned especially about the racist and xenophobic expressions spread via Internet.
“What is illegal in the press is not illegal on the Internet,” Jacobo Israel condemned.
“If the defense of hate is a crime, it should also be a crime on the Internet,” he stressed, and he reminded us of two characteristics of the Internet – “anonymity” and “enormous diffusion” – which make it “an ideal medium for the diffusion of hate.”
Jacobo Israel and Esteban Ibarra have explained that is impossible to account in numerical form for the growth of Antisemitic acts and opinions in recent years, as much because many are not reported and because they are enveloped in a general concept of xenophobia and not extracted.
Ibarra has affirmed that each year there are some 4,000 racist incidents in Spain. If one were to extrapolate from what occurs in the rest of Europe, where “10% of this incidents have a clearly Antisemitic character,” it could be said, the president of the NGO has confirmed, that “nearly 400 Antisemitic incidents” take place each year in our country.
Jacobo Israel referred to the survey carried out by Casa Sefarad last year, in which 34.6% of those surveyed by the Institute commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were shown to have an “unfavorable opinion” of Jews.
There is no other similar survey in our country, so we cannot compare the evolution of opinions against Jews.
The influence of the crisis
In that poll, 58.4% of the Spanish population reports that they believe “Jews have a lot of power because they control the economy and the media for communication.”
“The economic crisis is encouraging racism, xenophobia, antisemitism, and Islamophobia,” Esteban Ibarra explained.
Are Jews blamed for the crisis, like the groups of immigrants have been? Leaders of the Jewish community have said yes and have related how on Internet forums the economic downturn has been blamed on “the worldwide Jewish lobby” and it has been repeated again and again that “Madoff is a Jew.”
Reform of the Penal Code
Ibarra has said as well that “Spain is not fulfilling its tasks regarded the fight against antisemitism.” He as well as Jacobo Israel has petitioned for a reform of the Penal Code, as mandated by the EU, so that websites with xenophobic content can be shut down.
They have also demanded that there be Public Prosecutors specializing in hate crimes and antisemitism in all the autonomous community (currently they only exist in the provincial courts of Madrid and Barcelona).
In the report on antisemitism, there are 28 documented acts against Jews reported in 2010, as well as 400 websites that incite “hate, racism, antisemitism, and xenophobia.”
Esteban Ibarra, president of the Movement against Intolerance: “We cannot allow the Internet to encourage the ‘hunting’ of immigrants.” April 4, 2011Posted by cristobalgomez in Uncategorized.
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Yesterday he presented in Málaga “The Racist Spain,” his latest book, in which he pays homage to the victims of hate crime.
March 30, 2011
Esteban Ibarra knows how it feels to be a threatened man, and the Internet’s capacity to build campaigns centered on hating a person merely for the deed of defending ethnic, sexual, religious, or cultural diversity. Last year, he reported a Facebook group called “I think Esteban Ibarra should die too,” behind which were 80 neo-Nazis, and another one called “I hate Esteban Ibarra,” which had nearly 800 members.
-You maintain that the country is not racist, but that a racist Spain exists, what does that refer to?
-To this subsoil of groups stimulating racism and xenophobia, driving new forms of fascism based on intolerance to what is different, to immigrants, to people of another religion. It is a minority, fortunately. That is why I’m against the general definition of Spain as racist. It isn’t; what’s happening is that there are racist or xenophobic behaviors in our country. There is a racist Spain which I denounce in the book, and which is the reason I urge that our institutions take the necessary measures and impede the problem’s progression, such as has happened in other European countries.
-What measures do you demand?
-We must promote education about the value of tolerance; work to reform the Penal Code, to adjust it according to the instructions received from Europa; develop Public Prosecutors specializing in hate crimes and especially in confronting them in an online environment, because it is on the Internet that the majority of topics, prejudices, hate speech, and group articulations are produced.
-You maintain that there are at least 400 Spanish pages with racist content. On the Internet, impunity appears to prevail.
-There is a great deal of impunity and we could avoid it if there were specialized Public Prosecutors. The Internet challenge is serious. They commit many crimes and also racist crimes. But we cannot accept as a norm that on certain websites or certain social networks they incite “hunting” immigrants, homosexuals, or blacks. We cannot allow it.
-They really make announcements of this type?
-They create a climate favorable to aggression and “hunting.” Later, the younger members of these groups are the ones who go out to deliver beatings and wreak havoc. In Germany they recognize 24,000 incidents and hate crimes, and in Great Britain they recognize almost 60,000. We don’t know how many there are in Spain, but we estimate around 4,000. The subject is serious and has produced irreparable cases, with homicides I discuss in the book. Through the Internet, they create an atmosphere of hate and later organized groups of Skinheads and neo-Nazis go out to commit these outrages. The Internet is fundamental in creating an environment of intolerance.
-It appears that the crisis is also having the effect of bringing to light racist attitudes that in times of prosperity stay hidden.
-The economic crisis is the big moment for racists, for that, in the face of any discriminatory approach, we have to wave the flag of equal treatment. It is not a problem of first (the Spanish) and second (everyone else). Equal treatment is the principle that inspired the Treaty of the European Union. We cannot renounce it because that would be to open the doors to a society where some people are slaves to others.
-Are you worried about populist speeches in the face of the elections?
-There is a possibility of infection. We have seen it in Cataluña. There are right-wing extremist parties like Plataforma Per Cataluña who have grown from 5,000 to 75,000 votes. They have managed to get democratic parties to accept their approaches. There exists the danger of xenophobic populism and the danger of the configuration of ultra-right formations.
Xenophobia in times of crisis March 24, 2011Posted by cristobalgomez in Uncategorized.
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A ghost is running around Europe, the specter of xenophobic populism who dangerously feels the totalitarian tsunami that wants to destroy historic democratic achievements, especially those toward universal human rights. The new extreme right continues its long march toward the institutions in all European countries, encouraging intolerance and hate, contaminating parties and democratic institutions across Europe. The spectacular electoral rise in Austria, Sweden, and Holland confirms it, joining the consolidated Le Pen Marine in France, the hard ultra-right Jobbik in Hungary, the Northern League in Italy, the BNP in Great Britain, or the Islamophobes in Switzerland; options that appear to have been constructed in the same laboratories as European neo-fascism. But it does not all fit here, just as the contamination drifts toward democratic parties to project authoritarian models, evidenced by Sarkozy and Berlusconi in the crisis with Romanian and Bulgarian gypsies, as well as in reorienting immigration policies, which is the case in Merkel’s position, of an exclusionary and assimilationist court.
In a scene of economic crisis, the rise in xenophobic prejudice and harassment towards immigration are served. In addition, the impact is even greater if the economic crisis, originated by the model and dynamic of accumulation of capital and not by immigrants, is added to a crisis of the progressive democratic project and the sustainability of the welfare state. We speak of evidence. The rejection by a large part of the population to share equal treatment in cases of employment, health, education, and all sorts of assistance comes stated not only in official polls, but also shows in discriminatory situations and harassment in everyday life. In this context, the organized xenophobic offense gets their best results unfolding their underlying strategy which, beyond the hostility of the chosen scapegoats, directly attacks democratic cohesion and the integral coexistence of diversity, through a perverse use of whatever sort of social conflict is generated by the phenomenon of immigration, religious pluralism, and social or cultural diversity. With xenophobic propaganda and intolerant speech, they present two realities, one of welfare state and the other of immigration, one of the West and the other of Islam, as irreconcilable, shown by an extremist campaign in Sweden.
Xenophobic populism gives simple answers to complex realities to mobilize the maximum number of votes through the use of unrealistic promises, always fallacious and opportunist in nature. They use the people’s fears and emotions, run with stereotypes and prejudices, stigmatize and criminalize entire collectives and turning them into targets of hate through a “ .” The policy put into practice by Sarkozy, his gypsy files, police orders, and “voluntary” deportations in exchange for money, are along those lines. But the reality, as Berlusconi has already done, is that they expel family with elderly or children, through threat and force, throwing them out of the places they live, reported skillfully by the European Justice Commissioner, Viviane Reding. They do not make plans for integration, feeding an anti-gypsy climate with xenophobic and racist political speech which puts people’s security in danger, questions respect for human rights, and turns the humanist bases of Europe’s construction and, among other, directives of free circulation and equal treatment into worthless scraps of paper.
Another one of the pernicious consequences of the “xenophobic tsunami” is its impact on discussion and policy for immigration, as shown in Germany with Angela Merkel’s CDU, giving up on “multiculturalism” as a failure and making a list of immigrants who reject “integration” courses based on language and Christian values. Close to this position is the program proposal of Spain’s PP in Cataluña, who insist on not registering “immigrants without papers” and that immigration abuses healthcare. Nothing could be further from reality in Spain; according to all the studies, foreigners go to the doctor half as often as Spaniards, and conflicts or failures must be attributed to insufficient policies for intercultural integration that have not been put into practice in all of Europe, making true the saying: “No one integrates if they are not allowed to.” The fallacy of these arguments hides the interest of adjusting migration policies to economic cycles. When manual labor is needed, they attract immigrants; when in times of crisis, they argue along with Huntington about clashes of civilizations and start to throw out Muslims who do not respond to the “cultural questionnaire-exam.”
In Spain, the campaign of Anglada’s Plataforma per Cataluña, supported by the European extreme right and especially by the European Continental Foundation of neo-fascist Patrik Brinkmann, does not differ in essence from the planning the PP in Cataluña is betting on in this electoral context, which will undoubtedly break with national policy and their own party, asking if we all fit here, encouraging expulsions and alarm over burkhas. Anglada’s Plataforma drives a progressive intolerance extending toward immigration as whole, through the demonization of Islam and after a campaign against “illegal” immigration, denying such immigrants any sort of essential rights, from rejecting registration to those without papers to marginalizing mosques to the outskirts of cities. The fallacies of invasion, of the unlimited use by foreigners of health and education resources, unemployment, and other rights, which protect all workers, they indicate immigrants as predators of the insufficient welfare state in Spain. This xenophobia does not travel alone; it is accompanied by cultural and religious intolerance, by a strong Islamophobia which turns Muslims into destroyers of the West and terrorists; also by an underground anti-Semitism that accuses the “global Zionist lobby” of being behind the crisis or taking advantage of it to destroy “national identities” and better dominate the world. A deep-rooted intolerance makes difference and diversity its enemies, creating potential objects of aggression carried out by neo-Nazi groups born from hatred and the fanatical recruitment of sanctuaries of intolerance, such as the ultras groups in soccer. An intolerance which engages with the same racism as always against the gypsy community and with the everlasting discrimination towards vulnerable groups such as homosexuals, disabled persons, or the homeless, growing in every direction, in all its expressions and with all its pernicious manifestations; xenophobia, which will never be democratic although the social majority votes for it, grows.
Xenophobic activity in recent years has received strong stimuli from the electoral results of ultra-right formations in this disoriented Europe. The neo-Nazi infection in the new xenophobic ultra-right is more than evident. Through the Internet, on web pages, blogs, forums, and social networks, accompanied by a dynamic of semi-clandestine concerts allowed, they propagate hate. The comings and goings to international demonstrations, the obscenity present in soccer from the ultras displaying their fascist symbolism, and the continued distribution of propaganda along with indoctrination conferences that humiliate victims, evidence the lack of defense for democracy in various European countries. In regards to neo-Nazi violence, far from disappearing, it had stabilized as something latent that reminds us with its presence of the criminal and genocidal horizon of Hitler’s Holocaust legions, although its leaders in all of Europe raise the flag of denial.
The alarm has reached the Council of Europe, the OSCE, and the Ombudsman of the European Union as they demonstrated in Barcelona, but the concrete demand has come from the United Nations and their Special Rapporteur who asked just this year that the States party to the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination fulfill their international obligations declaring as acts punishable under the law all spread of ideas based on superiority or racial hatred, any incitation to discrimination, any attendance to racist activities, including financing such activities, declaring illegal and forbidden the organizations, the activities organized for propaganda, and anything which promotes or incites racial discrimination.
We are living in a moment for urgent and profound involvement. To paraphrase in the current times the poem of Nazism survivor and protestant pastor Martin Neumoller (not Bertold Brech), “First they came for the gypsies and the Muslims, and I didn’t care because I wasn’t one; then for the blacks, homosexuals, Latinos, and the rest of immigrants and gypsies, and I didn’t care because I wasn’t with them; after for all the Jews, communists, punks, reds, greens, and democrats… and after them, when they came for me, there was no one to defend us.” This updated version of the poem contains the alternative strategy of response: only democratic and social unity sustained by the political involvement of each of us in the democracy of human rights can avoid the arrival of the neo-Fascist tsunami.
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REFS DO NOT FOLLOW PROTOCOL AND DO NOT MENTION SHOUTS FROM THE STANDS IN THEIR MATCH REPORTS
Text by: José Félix Díaz
El Confidencial Sports
Open season. Anything goes in sports, or rather in soccer. If you’ve had a bad week, they fired you from your job, or you argued with your husband or wife, there is a solution. What’s more, it’s free. The solution is simple. Buy a ticket for a soccer game and you can insult, scream, and wish death upon whoever you want with no extra charge.
While we were hypocritically shocked at the death of a San Lorenzo fan in Buenos Aires, in Spain we attend a parade of performances from uncivilized people who turn up at stadiums to hurl insults without consequence, the first step to more serious actions. What happened in the Vicente Calderón stadium when a section of the stands wished death upon Mourinho and Ronaldo, and called Marcelo a monkey, went unnoticed. They fell on deaf ears, as happened in the previous encounter Atlético and Real Madrid, in the Copa del Rey. No one reacted and the worst of it all is that it doesn’t look like anyone will.
The first people who can act on the shouts and insults coming from the stands are the referees. The directors of the Federation told the referees that they should reflect in their reports any sort of insult, whether racist or not, that is produced during a game. They were ignored. Texeira Witiens must have been the only person in the Calderón who didn’t hear the chants and disparaging comments from the crowd. To date, no club has been sanctioned by the Competition Committee of the Federation for similar situations. It is a chain reaction. The referees don’t report it and Competition doesn’t punish it.
Sources from the Federation spoken to by El Confidencial think all that will change when a referee, by his own decision or that of a player, suspends a game for the insults coming from the crowd. There are not many referees who dare to put any sort of mention in their report. Pino Zamorano, in the Second Division, dared to do it in a game between Betis and Cartagena last season. Ramirez Domínguez also reported the shouts in a game between Mallorca and Barcelona, which targeted Yayá Touré.
Samuel Eto’o is one of the few players who has taken a stand against racist insults. In a game against Zaragoza, the Cameroonian decided to walk off after repeated shouts from the stands imitating a gorilla. Only the intervention of his Barcelona teammates stopped him from leaving the field mid-game. History repeated itself last season with Eto’o at Inter. It happened in Cagliari, and the game was suspended for three minutes. What’s more, a judge decided to close the ultra section of Juventus for shouting racist insults at Balotelli in 2009. Just like in Spain.
The Sports Council, directed by Jaime Lissavetzky, approved the Law Against Violence and Xenophobia in Sports in July of 2007. The problem is that it is not applied, at least not as it is intended to be. The law allows referees to suspend any sort of athletic event where there are racist insults or insults against the honor of the athletes or officials. It considers as well fines ranging from 150 to 600,000 Euros or even prison. Also, obviously, prohibition from attending any sports arena. What happens is that if there is no report, there is no possibility for punishment.
The Antiviolence Commission has proposed punishments for fans or clubs who do not follow the regulations, but always after police reports. Now the question is clear: Why does soccer look the other way? In basketball, there have already been games stopped for insults against the officials. They needed no more reason.
The curious thing is that the players are working to show their solidarity. Just yesterday, Keita, Piqué, and Messi participated in a UNESCO video against racism, just like Real Madrid, Valencia, Sevilla, and Atlético players have done in the past. The problem is that the message doesn’t reach the stands or the more radical fans.
Joint Statement on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (FRA, OSCE/ODIHR and ECRI) (03/21/2011) March 23, 2011Posted by cristobalgomez in Uncategorized.
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STRASBOURG, VIENNA, WARSAW 21 March 2011 – In a joint statement on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Nils Muiznieks, Chair of the Council of Europe’s European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), Morten Kjaerum, Director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), and Janez Lenarčič, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), strongly condemned manifestations of racism and related intolerance.
“Today we jointly commemorate the tragic events of 1960 in Sharpeville, which led to the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. On this day we renew our call to be vigilant in the face of acts motivated by racism and xenophobia”.
“On a positive note, we acknowledge with great appreciation that in some European States, surveys show that tolerance and the rejection of discrimination are on the increase. These positive developments need to be strengthened and stimulated, since discrimination and victimisation still remain far too widespread. At the same time, levels of reporting by victims of racist assaults, threats or serious harassment and awareness of how to access redress mechanisms remains low.”
“We are convinced that persistent racist and xenophobic speech from public figures and in the media can fuel prejudice and hatred against ethnic minorities and migrants, leading to discrimination in many areas of social and economic life, particularly in access to employment, health care, education, and housing. This creates a situation of social exclusion and, in some cases, leads to open hostility and violence.”
“Our monitoring and research shows that the Roma are the ethnic group most discriminated against across Europe. In particular, our findings highlight recurring forms of stigmatisation of Roma communities in public discourse.”
“We acknowledge that the primary responsibility to protect the rights of Roma lies with the States of which Roma are citizens or long-term residents. However, a coordinated response at the European level is needed to address the cross-border dimension of the problems that these people experience.”
“We, the signatories of this statement, believe that to combat racism and xenophobia proactively, States should ensure, inter alia, that
barriers to education, health care, housing, and employment are removed. Such policies should include the reintegration into mainstream schools of Roma children currently enrolled in special schools, and desegregation in the area of housing;
adequate data are collected about the participation of vulnerable groups in these areas, in order to target policies better and to allow their impact to be assessed;
legislation prohibiting racially motivated crime is introduced and enforced, along with training for law-enforcement officials in preventing and responding to these offences;
measures are taken to address discrimination on other grounds in addition to ethnicity;
national bodies responsible for the protection of human rights are mandated and adequately resourced to monitor the prevalence of racism and related intolerance and to take measures to promote equality, including advice and support for victims;
measures are taken to increase awareness of rights and complaints mechanisms, in order to address low reporting levels;
journalists are provided with training to challenge prejudice and stereotypes, in order to encourage informed and nuanced public debate; and
educational programmes and awareness-raising campaigns are designed to challenge prejudice and stereotypes and strengthen a climate of mutual tolerance and intercultural dialogue.
Our institutions stand together to support and assist States in finding sustainable solutions at local, national, and European levels, through the provision of data, research findings, specialist advice, and coordinating support, on the basis of our complementary fields of expertise.”
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Victims of xenophobic crimes demand that the crimes not go unpunished and warm of the fascist growth on the Internet
SUSANA HIDALGO – MADRID
Guillem Agulló, an 18 year old anti-fascist, was killed by a neo-Nazi in the municipality of Montanejos (Castellón). It happened on April 11, 1993, and the attacker, Pedro Cuevas, fled with his arm raised, singing “Cara al sol.” The murder, linked to right-wing extremist parties, only served 4 years of the 16-year sentence he was given.
Another 11th, but this time in November of 2007, another young anti-fascist, Carlos Palomino, was killed on the Madrid metro at the hands of Josué Estébanez, a member of the extreme right. The Supreme Court confirmed a sentence of 26 years in prison for Estébanez. Guillem and Carlos both died in hate crimes. Year later, their families continue to fight so that their memory lives on.
The only one who lives to tell his own story, although from his wheelchair, is the Congolese Miwa Monake, 43 years of age and quadriplegic since February 10, 2007, when another neo-Nazi delivered a blow to his back that left him paralyzed. His attacker, who called him “money” and told him his place was in the zoo before knocking him down, is serving 10 years in prison.
Yesterday, we celebrated the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination with ceremonies in different cities around the world. Público recovers the stories of three families left destroyed because someone who hated the victim’s way of thinking of the color of their skin crossed their path one day.
Carlos Palomino: His mother keeps up the fight
Mavi Muñoz remembers that she began to learn about the neo-Nazi network “by means of the Internet.” November 11, 2007, her son, Carlos Palomino was killed by a neo-Nazi. “I buried Carlos and I connected to the Internet; I wanted to know many things,” says Mavi, who after the murder of her son created the Association of Victims of Fascist, Racist, and Homophobic Violence. Through that, she tries to make sure that xenophobic aggressions do not go unpunished, something that is not always easy.
Spain does not count on the official data on crimes that have their basis in racism or fascism. The police do not recognize it as such, so that it is associations such as Movement against Intolerance that have their own speculations. This association, directed by Esteban Ibarra, estimates that each year there are some 400 aggressions of this type. “We demand that there be a police registry to know exactly how many of these crimes occur,” insists Ibarra, who recently published the book The Racist Spain: The fight in defense of the victims of hate. On a European scale, over 9 million citizens have at some point been involved in a xenophobic altercation, according to the European Agency of Fundamental Rights of the EU.
Ibarra has supported Mavi Muñoz since the death of her son and shares her daily fight to ensure that these attacks do not happen. “What happened to my son, to our sons, are no isolated incidents. We must get other victims to break the silence,” says Mavi.
Guillem Agulló: Symbol of anti-fascism
The parents of Guillem Agulló, Guillem and Carmen, educated their son in tolerance and freedom. And, suddenly, April 13, 1993 a neo-Nazi stabbed him to death. “It was a nightmare, we couldn’t believe what had happened,” say his parents.
Since then, Guillem Agulló has become a symbol for the Valencian anti-fascist movement, and his death inspired the creation of defense for human rights such as Acció Popular contra la Impunitat.
“The victims of these crimes feel helpless. Many government officials do not even ask the motivation of these attacks when they are reported. The politicians also do not explain well the damage that prejudice inflicts. They hide the figures and deny the racist practices of police and politicians,” reports a spokesperson of the organization. Guillem’s father corroborates the report: “In Valencia, neo-Nazi groups are rampant.” Ibarra, for his part, adds that this impunity is now extending to the Internet. In Spain there are hundreds of racist and homophobic web pages, but they are hosted on Canadian or American servers,” he warns.
Acció Popular contra la Impunitat also reports the proliferation of right-wing extremist web pages and adds, “Many times, racism hide and evident classism. They attack poor black, not soccer players, for example. The mercantile vision of humanity, which treats immigration as a tool and forgets its human character, does not help to neutralize these prejudices.”
Miwa Monake: Quadriplegic for life
The last words that Congolese immigrant Miwa Monake heard from his aggressor were: “Black, damn black, monkey, go to a zoo, monkey! Long live Spain!” After that, he collapsed to the ground. From that tremendous hit from a neo-Nazi at the exit of a discoteca, he was left quadriplegic. His attacker, Roberto Alonso de la Varga, was sentenced to 10 years in prison. The events occurred in February of 2007.
“I had never heard the word quadriplegic before,” tells Miwa, 43, who Esteban Ibarra always gives as an example of overcoming. The praise is not free. Miwa, during his convalescence, thought many times of taking his own life. He had help in overcoming this bad time from Ibarra and his wife Mirella, who has stayed be his side all this time.
Miwa is almost 2 meters tall and will have to remain forever in a wheelchair. Conscious of the violence of extremist groups, he closes emphatically with one sentence: “May there never be another Miwa, another Carlos, or another Guillem.”
RACISM IN SPAIN March 22, 2011Posted by cristobalgomez in Uncategorized.
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It is appropriate this week of March 21, when the UN instituted the International Day Against Racism recalling its victims, whether they be victims of discrimination, hate, or violence, to remember that our country is not making sufficient progress in the face of this scourge. It is demonstrated in official international reports that insist on the lack of recognition of the problem, on the lack of official statistics about racist and xenophobic incidents, and of reports and legal actions against hate crime. Some months before, the European Council signaled that a low number of sentences could be an indicator not only of victims’ fear of retaliation, but also of a lack of confidence to report to the police and legal agents or an insufficient awareness.
Recently the group of independent experts which supervises the application of the UN’s International Convention for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination described the existing Spanish regulations relative to foreign women who suffer abuse and do not have their documentation in order as discriminatory and requested that the Government revise the Immigration Law to end their lack of protection. The fact is that it also happens to victims of racist violence because, in the event that they do not have “papers,” they tend to prefer not to report rather than suffer deportation. A more than truthful hypothesis that we have been able to prove.
Nevertheless, tranquility overwhelms our institutions, in comparison to Germany, which recognizes more than 20,000 crimes of racism and intolerance, Great Britain with more than 60,000 incidents, or the investigations of the European Agency of Fundamental Rights which indicates several million incidents in the EU; in Spain it appears that the problem scarcely affects us, or at least that is what those who do not respond to the data requirements of these organizations would suggest. Furthermore, the UN has asked the government to eradicate the identification checkpoints for immigrants on the basis of ethnic or racial criteria in neighborhood with a high concentration of foreigners and to guarantee the proper function of the Internment Centers, remembering that illegal immigrants who serve 60 days of internment in these centers remain on the streets with an order for deportation, in a situation where they are extremely vulnerable to abuse and discrimination.
Socially, while the surveys denote a latent growth of intolerance, prejudices, and contrary attitudes toward immigration and toward our main ethnic minority, the Gypsy community, our fellow citizens are not aware of the racist behaviors that dwell among us. Many consider immigration to be “excessive” and a waste of resources, forgetting that immigrants create wealth, and so create an exclusive identity which denies cultural and religious rights to those who are different. They normalize the rejection of Moroccans, the marginalization of Gypsies, superiority toward blacks, phobia of Muslims, anti-Semitic reproach, and in a context of crisis and a convulsed world, an attitude of “Spanish first,” saving for another time the principle of equal treatment. Ah! But no, we are not racist.
On various occasions these international groups have demanded that xenophobic websites be shut down, but over 400 of the thousands available on the Internet originate in Spain. They also demand the illegalization of racist organizations, but here we have xenophobic parties who demonstrate with no problem. They demand that we legally punish incitement to hate, but in our country dozens of neo-Nazi concerts take place with no penalties. They demand that we remove symbols of this type from soccer fields, but here the ultras groups persist despite their legal prohibition. They also remind us that our legal cases must conform to the requirements of the EU Framework Decision against Racism, but our penal code has yet to do this. They urge development of effective instruments for prosecution, but we only have two Public Prosecutors for hate crimes in Barcelona and Madrid. And of course they recommend “intensive training in human rights” for government officials, especially security officers in charge of applying the law.
These groups do not forget to demand attention for victims and support for their associations; to ask for a responsible use of the media, with the goal of avoiding the spread of speech inciting hatred; and revision of the process of admission to public and private schools to guarantee an equal distribution of students of all ethnicity, avoiding segregation. They also remind us of the dangers of xenophobic populism in times of electoral confrontation, and the threat of the growing neo-fascist identity in Europe; shown in a recent survey which indicates a growing Marine Le Pen presence in France, the ultra-right emergence in Sweden, and the force of the feared Hungarian Jobbit, as some of the faces of the European xenophobic tsunami.
In conclusion, on a day of fighting such as today, it is necessary to remember our commitment against racism, to remember the late Nobel Peace Prize winner Martin Luther King, Jr., and to remember that when we moved, although “we all might have come in different boats, now we are all in the same boat.”
President of Movement against Intolerance
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Movement against Intolerance
PRESS RELEASE 03.20.2011
International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
The Movement against Intolerance calls for the rejection of xenophobic populism, the shutting down of racist websites, the creation of a Special Prosecutor against hate crimes, and the reform of the Penal Code to put an end to impunity for these crimes.
The Movement against Intolerance warns that in this time of economic crisis, certain politicians attempt to respond to the complex realities raised by populists and xenophobes by criminalizing some of society´s most vulnerable groups, such as immigrants, gypsies, and citizens of social and religious minorities. Therefore, it calls for democratic political parties to permanently renounce the use of xenophobic populism and intolerant discourse in their electoral campaigns in order to win votes, and it demands that they work to reduce the prevalence of rejection of immigrants and gypsies that is reflected in the polls.
The Movement against Intolerance requests that the government shut down racist and xenophobic websites so that “what is illegal outside of the Web is also illegal on the Internet.” It also calls for the government to not authorize neo-Nazi concerts and to eradicate racist groups from among the extreme soccer fans. The relationship between hateful, intolerant speech and violence against vulnerable groups is an indisputable fact, as has already been jointly warned by the European Union, the OSCE, and the European Council.
Extreme violence against vulnerable groups requires more specific penal tools to confront hate crimes. Therefore, we remind the government of the necessity of reforming the Penal Code in order to adhere with the Framework Declaration of the European Union, which is still pending. The Movement against Intolerance also calls for the creation of Prosecutors specializing in hate crimes and discrimination in each of the provinces of Spain, in order to officially persecute hate crimes and crimes of intolerance in response to the numerous cases of latent impunity and to promote the training of legal workers and security forces with regard to racism, intolerance, and hate crimes.
On this international day, instituted by the United Nations in memory of the events in Sharpeville (South Africa, 1960), where a racial massacre shook the world, the Movement against Intolerance encourages society to eradicate xenophobic behavior and requests decisive institutional political action for the protection of its victims, the comprehensive prevention of hate crimes, and the promotion of awareness and diffusion of values of Tolerance y Human Rights.
Xenophobia and Hate on the Internet March 17, 2011Posted by cristobalgomez in Uncategorized.
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Intolerant websites and discussions are expanding over the Internet. It’s a fact. A glance at these racist blogs and websites and we can see how neo-Nazi organizations use the Internet to deny the Holocaust, to distribute their propaganda, and to incite hate crimes. The connection between hate speech and hate crimes is evident and we can now observe how an atmosphere of intolerance has condensed on websites, blogs, forums, chats, or in “newsgroups.” An atmosphere that legitimizes violence and crime against immigrants, Jews, homosexuals, Muslims, gypsies, those of African descent, and all human beings who do not fit into the “Aryan” and white supremicist perspective. There are two reasons for the neo-fascist interest in the Internet. If the world population already reaches almost 7 billion people, the number connected to the Internet is around 2 billion. This is a powerful reason. The other is the impunity with which their hatred moves, practically without legal limitations in many countries.
More concretely, neo-Nazi activity on the Internet endlessly seeks to connect with the younger generation and for this reason centers itself on the “social networks” which, along with Youtube, have made the Web 2.0 into a refuge for extremist intolerance, from jihadist terrorism to neo-Nazi violence. We must look at the data; if 78% of Spanish web users are members of some social network, in the case of 15 to 20-year-olds, the number rises to 98%, according to diverse analyses on the subject. We cannot forget that Facebook has 250 million subscribers worldwide. This is a social network with a huge number of groups and pages dedicated to hate, with names like “Kill the black,” with an image of a black man hanging from a rope, “I hate gypsies,” “Against the immigrant invasion,” “Long live Rudolf Hess,” “Kill gays,” “Legalize rape,” “I hate fags, whores, and the police,” and hundreds of pages where they encourage hatred, discrimination, and violence against vulnerable groups.
Denial also takes place on social networks and hate websites. According to the neo-Nazis, the Holocaust did not exist and the extermination camps were a “model of coexistence.” Racial hatred is another main course of the Internet. There are hundreds of sites, forums, and social networks based on xenophobia and, to be more precise, a supposed white supremacy. Barack Obama and his family and the preferred targets of those who do not support a black man in the White House. Jews continue to be a community they want to exterminate and the rest of the races or minorities, people destined to be slaves or perform menial tasks. There are neo-Nazi sites in every western country and in several Asian countries, including Japan and Korea. Russia is beginning to look the biggest producer of neo-Nazis who, in every case, have recovered and adapted to the present the symbology of the Third Reich. Many servers are in the United States, where they find many legal facilities. We can’f forget the soccer ultras at a global level, who also have their space. The main Spanish groups such as Ultras Sur (Real Madrid), Boixos Nois (Barcelona), or Bridagas Blanquiazules (Espanyol) can be found on Facebook, in addition to having their own webpages with messages and proclamations, in many cases threatening. Many materials are also distributed via Internet; hate music has become commercialized, garments of a neo-Nazi fashion are sold, and some websites even sell various types of weapons.
According to the latest annual study of the Simon Wiesenthal Foundation, there are an estimated 10,000 websites promoting hatred at an international level. In Spain, the RAXEN Report by Movement against Intolerance estimates over 200, and even more on social networks, which especially effect the Spanish-speaking world. Thus the Internet is used as a means of spreading and organizing racist and xenophobic groups in all of the autonomous communities. From the Internet, groups have planned over 100 neo-fascist music concerts in the last 5 years, they have encouraged attacks motivated by racist hatred, and they have allowed over 10,000 ultras and neo-Nazis to come together and organize on various networks. This is the seed of intolerance, which does not stop growing in the heat of economic crisis and which uses whoever hopes it will soon change into a social crisis that puts an end to democracy, its values, and human rights.
The fight against CyberHate
Since the beginning, racist, Nazi, supremacist, ultra, and neo-fascist groups and in general those who oppose the democratic advance of human rights, have seen the Internet as an open opportunity for cybernetic activism. As early as 1995, STORMFRONT, the first international portal for neo-Nazism, created an international reference that would continued in Spain by the portal NuevOrden and by thousands of websites across the world, one option complemented by hundreds of thousands of images of hatred, by millions of racist comments, and by other manifestations of the evil polyhedron of intolerance. In addition, this harmful use of the web included its use for attacks against those who are different, for spreading Hitlerian and fascist propaganda, for convoking and organizing neo-Nazi concerts, for recruitment of followers, for the spread of racist music, for the defamation of people and organizations, for the spread of horror texts and propaganda denying the Holocaust, including sale of arms, manufacturing of explosives, and diffusion of manuals for solo terrorists.
While the neo-fascists and racists groups rushed to use the new tool of the Internet, the institutional answer was to delay and find difficulties with objectives. The appeal produced in 2001 during the Durban Conference (South Africa), about the need to intervene in this sphere, would not be effective for years. It would be the Antidefamation League in the United States and INACH in Europe who would be the most active NGOs against what had come to be called cyberhate, a notion applied to any use of electronic communication of information to spread messages or information which is anti-Semitic, racist, intolerant, extremist, or terrorist. These electronic communications include the Internet (webpages, social networks, “web 2.0,” contents created by users, contact pages, blogs, on-line games, instant message, and e-mail), as well as other technologies based on computers and mobiles (such as text messages). Another of the new problems associated with information technology and communication is cyberharassment, which although related, is different from cyberhate and is usually seen in a school context.
The danger that comes from this extension of hatred to the Internet is recognized by the international community and has come to plant itself institutionally to confront the challenge of combating crimes in this sphere. The important declaration signed in Strasburg, Warsaw, and Vienna in March of 2010 by Janez Lenarcic (director of the Office of the OSCE for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR)), Morten Kjaerum (director of the Agency of the European Union for Fundamental Rights (FRA)), and Nils Muiznieks (member of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)), demonstrated and demanded that governments: (1) investigate and persecute criminal acts of hatred, discrimination, and violence based on racial, ethnic, religious, or any type of prejudice, (2) use to their full ability the available legal instruments, (3) establish and promote educational programs directed at children and youths about the motivating expressions in racist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, or any other type of prejudice that they might come across on the Internet, and include among these educational plans training about language and means of communication.
In May 2010, the preoccupation with the content of hatred on the web, whether it be anti-Semitic, homophobic, racist, or Islamophobic, led Efraim Zuroff (director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center of Israel) and Sergio Widder (director for Latina America) to demand that limitations be put on pages and groups promoting hatred and racism on the Internet, particularly on social networks. They also alerted us to the existence of on-line game that had no special visual or graphic attraction but which has perverse concepts, such as a player who is a suicidal terrorist who gains lives the more he kills people, or another in which the player must shoot Mexicans crossing the US border illegally. The Wiesenthal Center advised a form of fighting them, observing if they violate the terms of service of the site on which they are displayed, and proceeding to report them to the webpage’s service, and initiative that any member of a social network could take. In cases of blatant crime, one can resort to justice, although the difficulty many times is to locate exactly where it originated and who posted the message, and it also depends on the legislation of each country, but what is needed is to “create a conscience, which could broadcast that being in certain groups is not funny or harmless.”
One of the most active European networks for reporting CyberHate is INACH, which groups a number of NGOs on the Internet. However, their respective national legislations dictate the reach of their actions. In many occasions, transnational neo-Nazi forums, videos, or web 2.0 pages are hosted on foreign serves and this imposes the necessity to look for transnational solutions in the fight against hatred, intolerance, and supporting such communities, in addition to being directed at Internet service providers who often wish to eliminate racist and discriminatory content.
In 2006, the member entities of INACH managed to shut down around 1,000 pages. In many countries, whether due to good legislation or to terms of service from providing companies, the success rate is constantly growing, although in many cases such laws or terms do not even apply. INACH helped to put Internet hate on the political agenda of the EU and the OSCE. In various conferences and meetings of experts, they made public the results and proposed effective methods for confronting the problem, in addition to providing pressure toward a harmonization of laws against Internet hate. In April 2007, the ministers of justice of the EU reached and political agreement to adopt a framework decision to fight racism and xenophobia. Shortly, incitement to violence and hatred, such as denial and trivialization of genocide, will be punishable in the entire EU because the member states would have to create national laws along the general lines of this decision.
In Spain, diverse initiatives have emerged in response. An example is the page created on Facebook, with the title “I also report racist, intolerance, and discriminatory pages,” maintained autonomously by various human rights activists fed up with hatred, although not without suffering all sorts of threats. It joins 15,000 people against racism and intolerance. However, it was serious to note the incessant hate crimes and racism on the Internet, which led us to immediately put into action an Office of Internet Reports (firstname.lastname@example.org), attended to by a lawyer from Movement against Intolerance who channels to the Public Prosecutors for Hate Crimes and Discrimination, recently created in Barcelona and Madrid, and to the National Court. He currently channels reports collected from Internet users of incitement to hatred, discrimination, and violence for racist or anti-Semitic motives, or others referring to ideology, religion, family situation, ethnicity, national origin, gender, and sexual orientation or any other discriminatory motive. We are only waiting for the judicial procedures to progress.
Another way to protect against xenophobia, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism, homophobia, and all forms of discrimination is the equip children and adolescents which technological common sense, from not only a technical perspective but also from a critical capacity about the contents of the Internet. Training them to understand the rhetoric of hate is of maximum importance, if we want to prevent them from being misinformed, indoctrinated, and recruited by racist and neo-Nazi organizations. This is the reason that educational efforts to promote tolerance and indiscrimination are an indispensible weapon in the fight against intolerance on the Internet.
In any case, the fight against hatred is necessary. How much can we do, in the face of globalization on the Internet, in the fact of the on-line xenophobic tsunami? The answer must come through educating and reporting, because we cannot forget to apply this principle: “what is illegal off-line is also illegal on-line,” with resolution and firmness so that its perpetrators may be brought to justice.
President of Movement against Intolerance
La España racista: La lucha en defensa de las víctimas del odio (Racist Spain: The fight in defense of the victims of hatred) Esteban Ibarra March 15, 2011Posted by cristobalgomez in Uncategorized.
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The hidden face of society.
The most striking cases of neo-Nazi violence, skinheads, and xenophobia that have occurred in Spain within recent years.
A neo-fascist tsunami is sweeping the world. It reaches social networks on the Internet, soccer stadiums, and even democratic political parties and institutions. With it travels hatred of what is different, of what is vulnerable, and its attempt to demolish historic democratic gains. From this detritus emerges neo-Nazi violence, which is not simply reflective of thugs, nor gangs, nor specific outbreaks. What emerges are the threats of a return to that Europe of horror that we believed we had buried forever.
Are we witnessing the emergence of a new islamophobic, anti-Semitic, ultra-right wing? Is there a secret language of neo-Nazism? Is a civil and religious war in store for Europe? How should we approach the fight against cyberhate? What are its roots and its seeds? What role do institutions and mediums of communication play with regard to the advance of xenophobic populism?
Esteban Ibarra, president of the Movimiento Contra la Intolerancia (The Movement Against Intolerance), has been threatened with death as a result of his demands for renewed activism against barbarity. In his book, La España racista (Racist Spain), he addresses the motives of international alarm, the myth of identity, the offensive xenophobia in the context of crisis, the role of the Internet in the spread of neo-fascism, several pioneer judicial rulings, and well known, significant cases of victims of the most criminal fanaticism…Hatred of diversity puts us all in danger, discovering its origin and its strategy is a first step toward winning the decisive battle against intolerance.
EXCERPT FROM THE PROLOGUE OF LA ESPAÑA RACISTA (RACIST SPAIN):
“It is forbidden to not smile at problems, to not fight for what you want, to abandon everything out of fear, to not turn your dreams into reality.” PABLO NERUDA, Chilean poet
The story of this book begins on November 19, 2009, at the doors of the Juzgado de Navalcarnero (the Navan Courthouse) in Madrid. They had just received my testimony in response to a retaliation charge that had been filed against me by José David Fuertes, alias el Tocho, assasin for the black adolescent group Ndombele. From prison, once his conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court, he filed a criminal complaint against me for mentioning him in certain paragraphs of my previous book, Los crímenes del odio (Hate Crimes); precisely the chapter in which I recounted the murder which resulted in his imprisonment.
It didn´t stop there. El Toche submitted his claim to Ediciones Temas de Hoy (Current Affairs Publications), which had published it, and to the company that had created the cover design, and even to the printer. After this perverse use of the law, in which the loser in the courts prevails, the publishing company invited me to recount the development of the case with all of its substance —which you can consult by reading the chapter dedicated to it in this new book— and, incidentally, to reflect on the events that took place over the last few years, as the “denounced book” dates back to 2003, and since then, many events have occurred in relation to the advance of intolerance; especially, the most grave of them all, new hate crimes.
Logically, these pages focus on the victims of racism and hatred and alongside them, the battle that we fight against acts of criminal intolerance. But we also wonder why, until now, racism and the harm motivated by neo-Nazi hatred have not been a public issue taken on by the State; given its responsibility in preventing it, it should have implemented a rigorous and serious criminal policy, aimed at eradicating or at least effectively impeding its development, and above all, it should have made efforts to compensate and properly treat victims. One cannot consent to racism, nor to xenophobia, nor to antisemitism, nor to islamophobia, nor to neo-fascism, nor to homophobia, nor to any other demonstration associated with intolerance that denies dignity and rights to people who are different. One cannot trivialize hate crimes. A democratic state has the duty to act consistently against the problem. And it is not doing that. It is not thoroughly attacking the causes and roots, nor is it assuming the consequences.
That is the State´s responsibility. In the rest of Europe, in the United States, and in other countries, it at least recognizes its existence, while in Spain, it continues trivializing it. The crimes and incidents motivated by hatred are crimes that have immense impacts in comparison to the common crime. Therefore, the State is sending a terrible message to entire communities: “We deny your right to be part of society,” terrifying all those who belong to or identify with that group. By attacking one person they are attacking all who are similar, because neither the victim nor the group in general can or wants to change the aspects that characterize them.
Any criminal offense motivated by prejudice and hostility toward the victim due to his or her connection, membership, or relation to a social group that is vulnerable to intolerance indicates that it is a hate crime. They are not common crimes, they are crimes motivated by prejudices or phobias that harm people, their properties, and the group with which they identify. It is not simply a matter of discrimination, which can also be a hate crime; it goes further because there are so many criminal offenses that they cannot be reduced to one discriminatory act.
The disruptive power of the fear that causes hate crimes extends much further than State boundaries and has the potential capacity to intensify and induce conflicts on a grander scale, as history has demonstrated. Hence the importance of advancing criminal legislation against these crimes and confronting the racist propaganda that seeks to blur the distinction between common crimes and hate crimes in its intent to hide its true nature.
The first warning that we must give to those who downplay the importance of the existence of hate crimes in Spain is that we are not different, and like in the rest of the European countries, more in some and less in the others, the problem exists and feeds the fire of the circumstances of globalization that allow for its expansion. Therefore, a first piece of advice: our political leaders should abandon the trivializing discourse that minimizes hate crimes to the existence of “urban gangs,” to a problem that is qualified as “worrisome but not alarming.” We invite them to ask the victims about the alarm that hate crimes cause them, and after listening to them, they will learn what it is to fear for your life. Our country is not racist, but there is a racist Spain that we must not only stop hiding, but eradicate.
The second warning relates to the danger that results from wasting the time that we have to react against the problem. Racist intolerance and xenophobia, antisemitism and islamophobia, neo-fascism and homophobia, have brought the three European institutions, through their specialized bodies in the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe), the Council of Europe and the European Union, together with the UN, to show its alarm at the upsurge of violent attacks against immigrants and minorities such as gypsies, incidentally reminding us that the history of Europe demonstrates how an economic depression can tragically lead to increased social exclusion and genocidal persecution. And to execute those plans there is no lack of neo-Nazis, who have already made themselves visible over recent years in their exhibition parades in Dresden, where several thousands of people arrived from all of the gutters of the continent, among them a hearty group from our country. This mob instigated hatred of what is different in a massive way, practicing diffused violence and attacking democratic values.
Meanwhile, democratic institutional action to impede the growth of xenophobia throughout Europe is not only weak, but sometimes solely aesthetic, and its policies for prevention, insufficient; in many cases, the various governments are influenced or have in their midst leaders of the new ultra-right starring in treacherous acts against human rights, admitting and emitting discourse of fear, hatred, and the construction of scapegoats, as is occurring with the gypsies in France, Italy, and other countries where they are condemning them to exclusion or deportation.
Spain lacks the most essential of State accords, such as integration policies —with special emphasis on the education of the descendants of immigrants to increase their participation in society and avoid their marginalization— and housing policies to address the mortgage policies at the root of the economic crisis. It also lacks policies for cultural and religious pluralism to guarantee spaces for places of worship and impede campaigns of religious intolerance, and policies for participation in democratic processes, that visibly integrate representatives and municipal and autonomous candidatures, extending voting rights. In general, Spain lacks social policies that facilitate coexistence, citizenship, and family reunification and more affordable regularization policies in response to the personal and familiar crises of those living in situations of unemployment and illegality, and of course, policies for the prevention of xenophobia and intolerance and aid for victims of hate crimes.
Esteban Ibarra is the president of the Movimiento Contra la Intolerancia (the Movement Against Intolerance), an NGO that was founded at the beginning of the 1990s in reaction to episodes of racist violence and other manifestations of intolerance that occurred throughout Spain. His primary work has been to direct the Oficina de Solidaridad con las Víctimas del Odio (The Office of Solidarity with the Victims of Hatred), the Informe Raxen (The Raxen Report), and the educational programs about values of tolerance and human rights promoted by the association. He is the author of several books and monographs in which he specifies his thoughts and actions, such as Los crímenes del odio (Hate Crimes), Tiempos de solidaridad (Times of Solidarity), Intolerancia, no, gracias (Intolerance, no thanks, among others.
A pioneer in the mobilization of solidarity and pacifism against manifestations of intolerance, he has received, together with the association, the recognition of many public and private institutions, among them, the Manuel Broseta Foundation, the Government of the Community of Madrid (which awarded him the Gold Medal), the Ministry of Social Affairs (which awarded him the Silver Cross of Social Solidarity), and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (which awarded him the Cross of the Order of Isabella the Catholic).
Title: La España Racista (Racist Spain)
Subtitle: La lucha en defensa de las víctimas del odio (The fight in defense of the victims of hatred)
Author: Esteban Ibarra
Date of Publication: February 15, 2011