The UK Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) on Nov. 12 granted the appeal of Muslim cleric Abu Qatada (BBC profile), blocking his extradition to Jordan, where he is accused of organizing bomb attacks. Qatada has been described as "Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe," and UK officials believe he should remain in prison for national security reasons. While never formally charged with an offense in the UK, he has for years been in and out of custody—either imprisonment or house arrest. The judge stated he did not believe Jordanian authorities would mistreat Qatada, but Jordan allows use of evidence gained as a result of the torture of others, and thus Qatada could not receive a fair trial.
The interminable divide-and-rule game between Muslims and Jews worldwide goes on, with the latest maddening development in France. We noted last month that a bomb attack on a kosher grocery store in a Paris suburb was met with equivocation by the authorities and media, with an unseemly reluctance to acknowledge the incident as anti-Semitic—and only right-wing Zionist commentators rose to the occasion of calling it out. (Except us, of course.) Now those same right-wing Zionist commentators—namely, Jewish Policy Center on Oct. 19—weigh in on new developments in the case, as well as an anti-Semitic outburst in Malmo, Sweden. The statement ironically mimics the time-honored tactic of anti-Semites, of mixing up legitimate points with cynical shots, confusing the gullible. To wit:
A general strike in Athens turned violent Sept. 26 as a demonstration of some 50,000 outside of Parliament ended with black-clad youth throwing rocks and petrol bombs at riot police guarding the building, who responded with tear-gas. Police charged the protesters, chasing them through Syntagma Square in front of the parliament building as helicopters swooped in overhead. The one-day strike is the first union–led action since a conservative government came to power in June. Rail services and most public transportation have been halted by the action, which was called by the two biggest union federations, the General Confederation of Greek workers (GSEE) and the Union of Civil Servants (ADEDY), and also supported by the Greek Communist Party (KKE). Protesters oppose planned spending cuts of $15 billion, which are being mandated by the "troika" of Greece's foreign lenders—the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund. Protesters marching on parliament chanted "We won't submit to the troika " and "EU, IMF Out!" KKE militants occupied the Parthenon, hanging huge banners from its walls reading "PEOPLES OF EUROPE RISE UP." (Ekathimerini, Sky News, The Guardian, BBC News, Sept. 26; EurActiv, Sept. 24)
Spanish police in Madrid fired rubber bullets and baton-charged "indignado" protesters holding an "Occupy Congress" action against a new round of announced austerity measures the night of Sept. 25. The clashes broke out as protesters tried to tear down barriers blocking access to the parliament building, where legislators were voting to approve the austerity package. Spanish media reported that at least 20 people arrested and more than a dozen injured. Cleared from the gates of the parliament building, the protesters retreated to nearby Plaza de Neptuno, which they continued to hold for hours, yelling "Shame!" and "Resign!" toward the parliament chambers.
The controversial trial of three members of the Russian feminist activist group Pussy Riot ended Aug. 17 with the announcement of a guilty verdict and two-year prison sentence for each of the three women. The Khamovnichesky District Court of Moscow found Pussy Riot members Natalia Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich guilty of "hooliganism" characterized by the court as driven by religious hatred. The three women were tried for their "guerilla performance" of a protest song in February at the altar of downtown Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral, a space maintained to be sacred to the Russian Orthodox Church. Defense counsel for the women lambasted the prosecution and reiterated their intent to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights both the verdict and alleged rights violations that have occurred throughout the trial.
Photos of Teddy Bears Land Belarus Student Behind Bars
Anton Surapin did what millions do every day: he posted photos of something interesting online. But he lives in ex-Soviet Belarus, the most authoritarian state in Europe, and the photographs in question were of teddy bears that had just parachuted out of the sky carrying a pro-human rights message.
Well, if you thought that France getting a new Socialist president, François Hollande, was going to mean a retreat from the Franco-dystopia that unfolded under his reactionary predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy—time to think again. Sarkozy's election in 2007 saw the outburst of an intifada by North African immigrant youth in the Parisian suburbs, followed by the unleashing of police repression. Not much later, Sarkozy instated a harsh crackdown on the Roma, ordering police to break up their camps, sparking more protests and an official censure of France by the European Commission. So what a sense of deja vu... Hollande now says his government will use "all means" necessary to restore peace after a new uprising by immigrant youth—this time centered around the northern city of Amiens—left more than a dozen police officers injured and several buildings damaged or destroyed. (LAT, Aug. 15)