Tag Archives: Riots

Hope And No Hope In Acre

The incident began when an Israeli Arab drove his care through a Jewish neighborhood on the eve of Yom Kippur. His window was open and music filled the air. To some Jewish people on the street, the appearance of a car, let alone one that blared music, was a deliberate insult to the Jewish religion and had to be dealt with by attacking the man in the car. The result was three days of rioting and shouting curses and hatred. Finally, a delegation of rabbis and President Peres met with Arab leaders of Acre to discuss the situation and find a way to attain peace. The Arab leaders apologized for the man’s behavior and the group discussed ways of forming a committee to avoid further such events.

However, the chief rabbi of Acre, Yoseph Yashar, was not satisfied with talk of peace and reconciliation. He was upset that the Arab leaders not only deplored violence toward Jews, but also Jewish violence toward Arabs. “s long as they(Arab leaders) link in the same breath the riots of Arabs on Yom Kippur eve with the acts of vengeance carried out by Jews in response, it will be very hard to calm things down.” Spoken like a true believer in peace and love to all human beings.

Annual Riot Season In Hungary

It is September and time for a riot in Hungary by neo-Nazis thugs who oppose the democratic nature of their nation. Several days ago, racist and anti-government slogans, shoes, and tear gas filled the air of Budapest as right wing groups clashed with forces of democracy and the government. The occasion was a protest by Roma organizations and that of the Democratic Charta which was directed against forces of racism in their society. The peaceful rally was addressed by government leaders like the prime minister and several founders of the “original” Democratic Charta which took part in the early fight for a democratic Hungary. Even as these groups peacefully expressed their view, right wing groups began assaulting the police and trying to damage a Soviet era memorial. This resulted in violence and the arrest of several people.

Hungary has never been able to reconcile a part of its past when there existed both a communist group and a Fascist group both of which helped to shape the emergence of a modern Hungary. The Soviet Union imposed a horrible era upon the people of Hungary, but it was also the force which ended the Fascist government which then ruled the nation and had allied with Hitler. Perhaps, it is time to confront the past and deal with all its pain in a more directed focus on education.

The government of Silvio Berlusconi ran for election on a platform that was blatantly anti-immigrant, anti-Roma and anti-Muslim. It is not surprising that hatred of minorities is rather commonplace in Italy. Two recent riots highlighted how Berlusconi and the right wing have transformed their society into a hotbed of prejudice. At Caserta, a seaside resort north of Napeles, African demonstrators overturned cars and burned rubbish in anger over recent gangland killings of six African immigrants. A day later, thousands demonstrated their frustration in Milan over the killing of a young boy who stole a biscuit from a restaurant. The police claim that drug lords in Naples killed six African drug dealers who would not pay the increase required of them by dominant gang leaders.

These demonstrations reflect frustration and bitterness at being in a society in which if one’s skin is black or if one is identified as a Roma, authorities will treat the individual as someone who is inferior and not due respect as a “real Italian.” If a nation’s leader sanctions prejudice, it is not surprising that thugs and neo-Nazis will come to believe they have carte blanche to attack and murder.

Anti-Christian Riots Hit India

Attacks on Christians and their churches continued in Orissa leaving at least nine people dead. Pope Benedict XVI in an address at the Vatican spoke of his “deep sadness.” The Pope appealed to “religious leaders and civil authorities to work together” to bring people of diverse religions to end the violence. There are reports of Christians being dowsed with kerosene and burned to death by angry mobs. Violence also spread to new areas when a mob set afire a church and a missionary hostel. It appears mobs are upset about alleged efforts by Christian missionaries were making progress in converting poor Indians to their religion.

Poverty in India is among the highest in the world and some estimates are that one out of three poor people in the world now live in India. Christians are expected by fundamentalist Hindus to remain quiet and behave themselves and avoid attempts to reach out to the poor. These brutal attacks speak more of the poverty among Hindus of dealing with poverty than any mistake on the part of Christians.

South African Blames Right Wing Elements For Riots

Soth Africa’s security chief accused rightwngers linked to the formr apartheid government of fanning anti-foreign riots over the past two weeks that have left 42 dead and thousands driven from their homes. Manala Manzini said: “We have information to the effect that elements that were involved in the pre-1994 election violence are in fact the same elements that have re-startedd contacts with people that they used in the past.” He asserted that members of the Zulu Inkatha Freedom Party(IFP) were playing a role in the anti-foreign outbreaks.

Even as he spoke, mobs attacked Somali and Zmbabwean areas whose homes and shops were looted and frequently burned down. Many critics are blaming the ineffectual behavior of President Mbeki as a contributing factor in allowing the riots to spread. He hesitated to send in the armed forces or to reinforce police at the first sign of trouble, and his continued support for President Mugabe of Zimbabwe sent a message that he doesn’t care what happens to Zimbabweans, whether in their homeland or in South Africa.

African National Congress secretary General Gwede Mantashe pointed out to his fellow South Africans that during their own fight for freedom, many African nations stood behind them, accepted South African children in their schools and gave liberally to end apartheid. He expressed his disappointment that generosity was being repaid with violence and destruction.

The security chief undoubtdly has raised an important point as to the possibility supporters of apartheid have contributed to the violence, but the evidence is clear most rioters are driven by fear their jobs are being taken away by foreigners. South Africa still has a large unemployed work force and it doesn’t take much to spark such a group into blaming outsiders for their inability to obtain jobs or decent housing.

Is Indonesia In Danger Of Ending Religious Tolerance?

Recent events in Indonesia which have witnessed attempts to declare illegal, the Ahmdiyah sect, have raised fears the nation which long has been noted for its religious tolerance may be entering a new phase in which fundamentalists exert more power. The Ahmadiyah sect, a messianic movement founded in India, entered Indonesia in the early years of the 20th century and its followers have endeavored to spread their message in a mood of love and peace. Today, the Islamic sect, is on the brink of being offically outlawed by the government, and mobs have burnt mosques and beaten members of the sect.

Muslim scholar, Luthfi Assyaukane, believes these events suggest a weakening on the part of the governmen to support traditional beliefs in religious freedom. “The Indonesian Uema Council(MUI) and the Indonesian Propagation Council(DDII) are controlled by those who defy the Islamic rejuvenation movement. They also dominate state agencies with certain religious authorities.”

Thamrin Amai Tamagola, an anthropologist, believes violence against the sect stems from fears of their economic success. “The society is divided vertically by wealth and horizontally be ethnic, race, and religion. The horizontal conflicts that lead to violence usually occur when there is a wide gap in terms of wealth between to different groups.”

The Ahmadiyah have been economically successful through their cooperative efforts and working to assist fellow members. This has triggered feelings of anger toward them. A worry of some experts is concern the Indonesian government will use religious intolerance to divert people’s anger over risng fuel prices and shortages of rice.

China Rolls Out Propaganda To Blame Tibetan Radicals

The riots have ended in Tibet, at least for the moment, and the Chinese government is in full swing with its campaign to prove they were caused by evil Tibetans who killed fellow Tibetans. The China Daily reports “of the 18 innocent people killed, three were Tibetans, and stores owned by Tibetans and Hui people were also burnt down or looted.” A local Tibet official, Baema Chillain, is quoted as emphsizing that “strangers” forced people to participate in the riots. The story being told by the Chinese media and those friendly to the government is one in which riots were caused by those who are against the interests of the people of Tibet and thanks to the hard work and generosity of the Chinese government everything is back to normal.

Of course, no where is anything mentioned about the deaths of over a hundred people nor of the actions of Chinese police and soldiers to squash the riots. There will be more such stories in the coming weeks of happy Tibetans who have been freed from evil outsiders who caused the entire mess.

Kurds And Turks Battle– In Berlin, That Is!

The simmering conflict between Turkey and Kurdistan erupted not in the mountainous areas of the Turkish-Kurdistan border, but on the streets of Berlin where factions representing each group came to blows. An anti-PKK(Kurdish Workers Party) demonstration degenerated into violence between young Turks and Kurds. By evening, a threatening mass of nationalist Turks had gathered around a Kurdish cultural center. Turkish marchers were waving banners attacking the PKK when they encountered Kurds who expressed their displeasure. “Soon bottles and stones were flying everywhere,” said a policeman resulting in injury to 18 police officers and the arrest of a dozen demonstrators. It appears the conflict on the border of Turkey-Kurdistan is now spilling over to the streets of Europe since thousands of immigrants from those areas are now living in Germany. The police, in particular, blame the “Gray Wolves,” the unofficial arm of what used to be the National Movement Party which was banned in Turkey in the 1960s for their virulent nationalism. Police also noted that as the riot got underway, right wing German nationalist youths entered the fray.

The history of the United States also contains stories of riots between conflicting groups, but one may hypothesize the riots in Berlin go deeper than conflict between groups. They also reflect feelings on the part of many young immigrants from the Middle East that Germany is not their home because of failure to have them integrated within German society.