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15 Aug, 2007 15:29

Xenophobia gains force worldwide

Racist and neo-Nazi crimes are on the rise throughout Europe and the United States. That’s according to recently published surveys by human rights groups.

At least 310 people have fallen victim to neo-Nazis in Russia this year alone. 37 of them died.

It represents a rise of 22% over the same period last year, and the nature of the attacks has reportedly become more brutal.

Moscow, St. Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod have registered the most racist assaults among Russia's cities.

Ukraine also reports a sharp rise in crimes against foreigners, particularly black people.

While in other countries in Europe, there is growing concern about the resurgence of anti-Semitism. 

“There are some countries in central Europe where there wasn't a single Jew after WW2 and over the next 20, 30, 40 years there was lots of anti-Semitism. In Poland at the moment anti-Semitism is on the rise, even though there are hardly any Jews. You need social measures because extremism is born in times of social crisis. You need institutional measures. Racism and anti-Semitism are born during times of institutional crisis. And you need to think about cultural identity,” commented Michel Wieviorka, a French sociologist and expert on extremism.

Muslims are the second most vulnerable group in Europe. They are targeted in the streets mainly as a response to conflicts in the Middle East and Central Asia. 

In Britain, hate crimes motivated by religion and ethnicity climbed by as much as 600%, following the bombings on the London public transport system in 2005.

In France, cases stemming from racial hatred fell by 10% this year due to major efforts by the government. While the number of anti-Semitic crimes rose by over 6% last year.

The United States saw an outbreak of ethnic violence after September 11, making people of Middle Eastern appearance particular targets.

The average number of racial offences is over 5000, although the majority are minor assaults committed either to intimidate or terrorise or to damage property.

Hate crimes in the country have also been fuelled by the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Under threat are such vulnerable minorities as Muslims, Jews and African Americans.