For Immediate Release: September 14, 2005
NEW YORK, September 14, 2005 — The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s New York Tolerance Center hosted a panel discussion last night about Human Rights First’s new report, Everyday Fears: A Survey of Violent Hate Crimes in Europe and North America (September 13, 2005; $20.00). Panelists included the author of the book, Michael McClintock, Director of Research at Human Rights First; Kenneth Jacobson, Associate National Director of the Anti-Defamation League; the Honorable Mary Rose Oakar, President of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee; and Ted Shaw, Director-Counsel and President of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. Michael Posner, Executive Director of Human Rights First, moderated the discussion.
Recognizing that hate crimes affect all swaths of society — from Jews, to blacks, to Roma, to gays, to Muslims, to the disabled — the discussion highlighted the importance of open dialogue between communities and bridge-building. “Many of the groups that experience the most severe attacks respond in isolation,” Michael Posner noted in his introductory remarks. “There is a clear need for a more collaborative and integrated approach to this serious problem.” Each of the speakers echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the importance of coalition-building while also acknowledging its inherent difficulties.
Everyday Fears represents the first in-depth analysis of the increase in hate crimes in the 55 member states of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the disturbing lack of response to such crimes by many national governments, as well as the positive steps that have been taken by certain countries. It uncovers the everyday nature of hate crimes and how these individual acts of violence, from broken windows to beatings, terrorize entire communities. “This kind of pervasive, low-level (but still potentially lethal) violence is . . . arguably the most threatening to the [greatest number] of people, whether in the United Kingdom, Moscow, the Paris suburbs, or in mini-marts or motels in Arkansas or Southern California,” writes McClintock.
Everyday Fears shows how the perpetrators of hate crimes wage an assault on identity itself, singling out members of certain communities for attack because of their appearance or the outward display of their religion: Jews are attacked for wearing yarmulkes on the street or in the subway, Sikhs for wearing turbans, and Muslim women are harassed or assaulted for wearing headscarves. “Those under threat face daily pressure to conceal or deny their identities,” says McClintock. When such individuals are targeted, they “are induced to shun public places or remain in de-facto ghettos in an imperfect search for safety.”
Some disturbing findings include:
- In the United Kingdom, in a new trend, antisemitic attacks on persons more than doubled in 2004 over 2003; in France, antisemitic attacks rose 63 percent in the same time period.
- In the Netherlands, 174 violent incidents against Muslims and immigrants were recorded during the one month following the filmmaker Theo Van Gogh’s murder in November 2004. Two hundred and fifty-four similar incidents had been recorded for all of 2003.
- In Germany, almost half of the known victims of racist violence are asylum seekers, with many “afraid to appear in public”; in Russia, members of “visible minorities” fear going on the street or subway alone or after dark.
- In France, violent hate crimes against gay men more than doubled from 2002 to 2003. Legislation was enacted to enhance penalties for anti-gay crimes following the January 2004 attempted murder of Sebastian Nouchet, a gay man who nearly died after being set on fire with gasoline.
- Scotland’s leading disability organization and the British Disability Rights Commission found in a 2003–2004 survey that over half of its sample had been verbally abused, intimidated, and/or physically attacked because they were disabled. Just over a third of the incidents were physical attacks.
Key recommendations to governments include:
- Defining hate crimes broadly to cover those motivated by prejudice on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and disability.
- Enacting legislation that punishes crimes more severely when it can be shown that they were motivated by such prejudices.
- Enacting legislation to require national justice authorities to collect, analyze, and make available detailed and disaggregated data about hate crimes.
Everyday Fears: A Survey of Violent Hate Crimes in Europe and North America
By Michael McClintock
September 13, 2005 publication; Human Rights First
221 pages; $20.00 paperback
The full report is available at this link:
Detailed country reports are included in the full text for Canada, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Russia, the United States, and other OSCE member states.
Introductory materials only (Table of Contents, Foreword, Executive Summary, and Recommendations to governments):
Fact Sheet on Everyday Fears: