Anti-Semitic incidents soar in UK, reflecting ‘overall rise in hate crime’

Protesters march against anti-Semitism in London in this file photo.(AFP)
Updated 28 July 2017
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Anti-Semitic incidents soar in UK, reflecting ‘overall rise in hate crime’

LONDON: The number of anti-Semitic incidents in the UK rose to an all-time high in the first half of the year, according to a charity that aims to protect British Jews. The Community Security Trust (CST) reported a 30 percent increase over the same period in 2016.
That increase in reported incidents reflects “a general overall rise in hate crime, and as hate crime increases so does anti-Semitism,” Simon Johnson, the chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, told Arab News.
He added that the yearly increases are no longer connected to escalating tensions between Israel and Palestine in the Middle East.
“We previously saw a pattern that when there was a major conflict in the Middle East involving Israel, then anti-Semitism would spike, and that happened in 2014. The problem is that those figures now are continuing to rise and the Israel-Palestine situation is doing nothing other than being as tense as normal, so it’s clear therefore that there are domestic factors influencing the rise in reported anti-Semitic incidents.”
There were 767 anti-Semitic incidents — mainly abusive behavior or assault — in the first six months of 2017, the CST reported.
Hate crime is also on the rise against Muslims in the UK. Figures released in early June by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan showed a fivefold increase of Islamophobic incidents in the days following the London Bridge terror attack, and a 40 percent increase in racist incidents, compared with the daily average in 2017.
Reported anti-Muslim-motivated hate crimes rose to 20 per day, up from an average of 4 per day, following the attack, and hate crime overall rose to 54 incidents per day, up from a daily average of 38 per day for 2017, according to Metropolitan Police figures for London.
Following the Manchester bombing, hate crimes in the city rose 500 percent on May 22, according to Tell MAMA, a group that monitors anti-Muslim attacks. The organization also reported a 326 percent rise in anti-Muslim abuse through 2015, with women being especially targeted by teenage perpetrators.
The increase in anti-Semitic hate crime in 2017 “may be down to improved reporting, but it is sadly clear that the overall situation has deteriorated,” CST Chief Executive David Delew was quoted as saying by Reuters. “Anti-Semitism is having an increasing impact on the lives of British Jews and the hatred and anger that lies behind it is spreading.”
Mark Gardner, head of communications for CST, said the charity struggled to pinpoint the trigger behind the increase, but said anti-Semitism could be an indicator of the state of society as a whole.
“It may be that it sits with a general rise in racism or just an increase in the division in society. There is an anger or frustration that seems to be the ambient mood out there,” Gardner said.
The Jewish Leadership Council’s Simon Johnson said that the “majority of the perpetrators are white European, which suggests a deep-ingrained hatred, and people are finding more visible ways to express that hatred. Many of those incidents are linked to a rise in xenophobia, but there’s a core of people who have anti-Semitic views who are expressing these views.”
Johnson added that the rise in reported cases could also be down to factors including more awareness and training within the police, ease of reporting online, and also because of “the government’s investment of about £40 million ($52 million) per year into professional guards at Jewish schools and institutions.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who has launched a first-of-its-kind police unit to tackle online hate crime and improve support for victims across the capital, said in a statement: “Anti-Semitism and all hate crime is deplorable and has absolutely no place in our city. I urge anyone who is a victim of anti-Semitism to report it to the police immediately.”
The mayor’s office added that his administration is also working with the London and British Transport Police to tackle hate crime on the city’s transport network.
About 74 percent of anti-Semitic attacks so far in 2017 have occurred in the main Jewish areas of London and Manchester, according to Reuters. The CST recorded 56 direct threats against Jews in the first six months of 2017, 25 of them involving direct face-to-face verbal abuse, a 27 percent increase from the same period a year before.
Ten of those threats involved knives, bats or cars. The CST said abuse on social media made up 142 of the anti-Semitic incidents in 2017, up from 136 incidents in 2016.
“Social media has become an essential tool for those who wish to harass, abuse or threaten Jewish public figured and institutions,” the CST said. The CST also said 23 percent of the incidents were politically motivated, with far-right leanings connected to the majority of those incidents.


Smugglers pave path for migrants from Africa to Europe

Migrants attempt to open the rear door of a truck at the Brittany ferry port in Ouistreham, northwestern France, on September 18, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 18 September 2018
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Smugglers pave path for migrants from Africa to Europe

  • Migrants gather in Morocco because “it's the best place to wait for the right moment to cross” over borders with Africa
  • Europol estimates migrants pay on average €3,000-5,000 for a complete trip to Europe

MADRID: They scale barbed-wire topped fences and cross the sea in inflatable boats or jet skis — more than 36,000 migrants entered Spain this year seeking a better life in Europe. Almost all of them relied on smugglers to make the crossing. Ousman Umar, who made a five-year journey from Ghana to Spain, said it was “impossible” to travel thousands of kilometres from sub-Saharan Africa through deserts and other inhospitable areas without the aid of gangs.
“There is almost no chance of reaching Europe illegally” without paying traffickers, Robert Crepinko, the head of the human smuggling unit at Europol, the European Union's policing arm, told AFP. Ninety percent of migrants who enter Europe are helped by human traffickers, he added, citing a 2015 study.
Spain has become the main entry point for migrants arriving this year, after Italy and Greece. “The journey can last one year, two years, depending on the ring and the funds you have, because the trafficking networks will take you as far as you can pay,” Jose Nieto Barroso of the national police's human smuggling unit UCRIF told AFP.
Migrants gather in Morocco because “it's the best place to wait for the right moment to cross” over to Spain, said Nieto Barroso.
The vast majority pay for a spot on an inflatable dinghy or to take part in a mass run on the heavily fortified border fences that surround Ceuta and Melilla, two tiny Spanish territories in North Africa that share the EU's only land borders with Africa. Human traffickers charge 18 euros ($21) to try to scale the border fences, 200-700 euros to join a packed boat to cross the narrow Strait of Gibraltar separating Spain from Morocco by just 15 kilometers (9 miles) at its narrowest point, or up to 5,000 euros to make the trip by jet ski, according to Spanish police. Europol estimates migrants pay on average €3,000-5,000 for a complete trip to Europe. Once in Spain, many want to move on to wealthier northern European countries like Britain, France and Germany where they believe they will have better opportunities, or because they already have family there. Once again, human traffickers play a role in getting them there. The smugglers promise migrants they will be rescued at sea by the Spanish coast guard and then taken to migrant reception centers where “in three or four days members of the network will be in the area and get you out,” Nieto Barroso said. The gang will then take the migrants to another country or, in worst-case scenarios, pass them on to other gangs that exploit them. Women are sometimes forced into prostitution while men are used as slave labor in agriculture or made to beg in the streets. The rings “supply people. They say: 'I have 8, 12, 15 people from the sub-Sahara who can be put to work',” said Nieto Barroso.
Gangs take advantage of the “brutal collapse” of overcrowded migrant reception centers, and gain access to migrants through nonprofit organizations which work with the newcomers, he added. Paloma Favieres of the Spanish Committee for Refugee Aid (CEAR) denounced the reception Spain gives migrants as “chaotic.”
She said she notifies police whenever she believes a migrant is at risk of falling prey to human traffickers but stressed it was up to police “to fight against crime.”
“I don't get any help from the police,” she told AFP.
With migrant arrivals to Spain's southern shores on the rise, more of them are heading north to the border town of Irun, some sleeping rough as they wait to cross into neighbouring France, or to Santander, where police in August arrested two people for hiding migrants in their vehicle which was going to board a ferry bound for Britain.
Police smashed 25 human trafficking rings in Spain last year but many more remain active in Africa, recruiting more migrants.