In The Spotlight
On the last day of Passover a lone gunman opened fire on the congregation at Chabad of Poway’s Synagogue in San Diego, USA.
The attack left three wounded, and one dead. Lori Kaye was murdered after she took a bullet for the Rabbi.
San Diego is the latest in a series of crimes committed in the name of ‘white supremacy’. It occurred just six weeks after the mass shooting at a Mosque in New Zealand and seven months after the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. And yet, there is still little talk of what white supremacy is; how it operates; and what it means for our communities.
Furthermore, white supremacy has gone transnational.
The San Diego mosque shooter, like many other white supremacy terrorists, was radicalised through online networks.
And yet, the media and politicians have been reticent to identify white supremacy as a threat. Whilst Muslims are openly viewed as a target group of radicalisation, white people are not. The gunmen are viewed as lone rangers and bad apples. But, this is problematic. We should be taking white supremacists seriously. We should be targeting them with the same level of scrutiny that has been used to deal with Islamic radicalisation. To not treat them seriously puts our communities at risk. This would mean identifying the links between what has been painted as fairly disparate attacks since 2011 – including Charlottesville, Charleston and the Murder of British MP Jo Cox, (the Guardian has created a time-line of these events).
There is a clear pattern, white supremacists see the Other (Jews, Muslims, black people) as an existential threat to the white race. Yet, little solidarity is promoted in the mainstream between these communities. In a time where identifying as Jewish can be so negatively scrutinised because of Israel’s politics, the Left (and by extension anti-racist solidarity networks) do have a hard time seeing anti-semitism.
It is not just disappointing that there is little understanding of anti-semitism, but as we can now see this is also dangerous. To keep our communities safe we need to take the threat that white supremacist fanatics pose seriously. And we need to create stronger networks of solidarity by resisting mainstream media that does a good job of polarising the communities affected by racism.
Western propaganda about the Rwandan Genocide has been so triumphant that a Rwandan Hutu on trial in the West faces inevitable jury bias.
“Teganya’s trial became a de facto trial for genocide crime.”
Last week a jury in Boston Federal Court convicted Rwandan asylum seeker Jean Leonard Teganya of fraud and perjury for lying on his immigration papers about his involvement in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. In other words, yet another racist, chauvinist, Western court convicted yet another African of participating in mass violence that the US and its Western allies engineeredin order to expand their imperial influence in East and Central Africa at the expense of France. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
In July 1994, Teganya crossed from Rwanda into Congo with millions of other Rwandans, mostly Hutus, who were fleeing the advancing Tutsi army led by General Paul Kagame. Teganya later used a false Zimbabwean passport to enter Canada, where he reunited with his Rwandan girlfriend, married, started a family, and applied for political asylum. Canada repeatedly denied him asylum on the grounds that he had committed crimes during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, which he in turn denied. Fearing for his life if deported to Rwanda, he went into hiding in Canada, then illegally crossed the Canadian border into the State of Maine to apply for US political asylum in 2014. His trial became a de facto trial for genocide crime because the prosecution had to prove that he was guilty of that to prove that he had lied on his asylum application.
“There is no hard evidence of what happened inside Butare Hospital.”
In 1994, Teganya was a third-year medical student at the National University of Rwanda in Butare. He testified that when the understaffed hospital was overwhelmed by wounded patients, he volunteered cleaning wounds and administering intravenous fluids in the emergency room. Former teachers and fellow students from both Rwanda and the Rwandan diaspora came to confirm his story and testify to his character, while prosecution witnesses from Rwanda accused him of rape and murder.
The jurors’ verdict was based wholly on their conclusions about the credibility of witnesses. There is no hard evidence of what happened inside Butare Hospital after General Paul Kagame and his army assassinated the Hutu presidents of both Rwanda and Burundi, then launched their final military offensive to seize power in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali. One former medical student and witness for the defense testified that in the ensuing chaos, violence, and social collapse, he and his friends at the university in Butare protected themselves by staying close to one another and concentrating on how they might eat from one day to the next. He said that trucks and jeeps full of soldiers or civilian militias would drive by from time to time, but that he and his friends could never be sure who they were or where they were going.
US broke its promise not to penalize refugees for illegal entry
The United States and Canada are both signatories to the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees , by which they promised not to impose penalties for illegal entry on refugees coming directly from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened. The Protocol expanded the rights guaranteed by the 1951 Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees to refugees fleeing because of events that occurred after 1951:
REFUGEES UNLAWFULLY IN THE COUNTRY OF REFUGE
“1. The Contracting States shall not impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence, on refugees who, coming directly from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened in the sense of Article 1, enter or are present in their territory without authorization, provided they present themselves without delay to the authorities, and show good cause for their illegal entry or presence.
“2. The Contracting States shall not apply to the movements of such refugees restrictions other than those which are necessary and such restrictions shall only be applied until their status in the country is regularized or they obtain admission into another country. The Contracting States shall allow such refugees a reasonable period and all the necessary facilities to obtain admission into another country.”
Nevertheless, the prosecution built much of its case on the fact that Teganya had entered Canada on a false document and then crossed into the United States illegally. They even asked the defendant on the witness stand why he walked into Congo, which was then Zaire, without a visa, even though he was fleeing Kagame’s army with millions of other refugees. This was all meant to evidence that Teganya was not an honest man, that he had already lied and broken the law to enter Canada and the US, and that it was therefore reasonable to believe that he had lied to gain refugee status.
One jury member told the Boston Globe that he voted to convict primarily because the defendant had used a fake African passport to enter Canada and because he said on the stand that he would do anything not to go back to Rwanda with its current government.
A priori assumption that only Hutus committed genocide
None of the premises about what actually happened in Rwanda in 1994 were questioned during the trial. As at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda, the court’s a priori assumptions were that Hutu extremists massacred Tutsis from April to July in 1994—which did happen. However, they also assumed that only Hutus had committed crimes, and therefore only Hutus should be prosecuted.
Sticking to the particulars of what happened at Butare Hospital in the course of a week, the defense did not introduce the body of evidence that the Tutsi army also committed genocide against Hutu people.
This is not to say that Teganye’s federal public defender erred by sticking to the particulars of the case. Murder is against the law regardless of its political context, so the defense had little choice but to argue the particulars as evidenced by witness testimony. However, Western propaganda about the Rwandan Genocide has been so triumphant that a Rwandan Hutu on trial in the West faces inevitable jury bias. In “Enduring Lies, Rwanda in the Propaganda System 20 Years Later ,” Edward S. Herman and David Peterson wrote that:
“According to the widely accepted history of the 1994 ‘Rwandan genocide,’ there existed a plan or conspiracy among members of Rwanda’s Hutu majority to exterminate the country’s minority Tutsi population. This plan, the story goes, was hatched some time prior to the April 6, 1994 assassination of Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana, who died when his Falcon 50 jet was shot-down as it approached the airport of the capital city of Kigali. The killers allegedly responsible for this crime were ‘Hutu Power’ extremists in positions of authority at the time. Although Habyarimana was Hutu, the story continues, he was also more moderate and accommodative toward the Tutsi than ‘Hutu Power’ extremists could tolerate; they were therefore forced to physically eliminate him in order to carry out their plan to exterminate the Tutsi. The mass killings of Tutsi and ‘moderate Hutu’ swiftly followed over the next 100 days, with perhaps 800,000 or as many as 1.1 million deaths. The ‘Rwandan genocide’ came to an end only when the armed forces of Paul Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front drove the ‘génocidaires’ from power, and liberated the country.
“We refer to the above-version of the events that transpired in Rwanda 1994 as the standard model of the Rwandan genocide. And we note, up front, that we believe that this model is a complex of interwoven lies which, when examined closely, unravels in toto.
“This model is a complex of interwoven lies.”
“Nevertheless, its Truth has been entered into the establishment history books and promulgated within the field of genocide studies, in documentaries, in the official history at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and even proclaimed from on-high by the UN Security Council in April 2014.
“The institutionalization of the ‘Rwandan genocide’ has been the remarkable achievement of a propaganda system sustained by both public and private power, with the crucial assistance of a related cadre of intellectual enforcers. The favorite weapons of these enforcers are reciting the institutionalized untruths as gospel while portraying critics of the standard model as ‘genocide deniers,’ dark figures who lurk at the same moral level as child molesters, to be condemned and even outlawed. But we will show that this is not only crude name-calling, it also deflects attention away from those figures who bear the greatest responsibility for the bulk of the killings in Rwanda 1994, and for the even larger-scale killings in Zaire and the Democratic Republic of Congo thereafter.”
Source:Black Agenda Report
‘Where are you from?’
I hear this more often than I hear my own name, and my response often depends on who’s asking; I can turn my ethnicity… heritage… into an icebreaker and ask the other person to have a guess, if they get the right answer I’ll give them £100. They never guess correctly, which I’m always relieved about – I can’t afford to keep giving away £100! Or I can weaponise it, pushing the other person into feeling self-conscious about whatever stereotype or bias they might be exposing in trying to guess. Finally, I can lie, which I often do when I feel uncomfortable, or unsafe, or just exhausted.
I’ll say, ‘London, mate’, and stick to that even when the response is, ‘Okay but where are you from from?’
And without fail, the response if I chose to reveal my half-Brazilian, half-Montenegrin heritage is always an impressed ‘woah!’, a moment I recognise, because I do it too, but a moment worth unpacking nonetheless. Call it what you want; biracial, mixed-ethnicity, mixed-race, ‘ethnic’, the idea that people who are a blend of races, ethnicities or nationalities are somehow more fascinating, or more ‘trendy’ is pretty problematic. Here’s a little break down of what is going through my mind when the entire conversation descends into a discussion about where I come from:
First of all, I am neither an imported fruit nor a mystical creature in a zoo, so comments about how rare or ‘exotic’ I am, and how new and exciting that is for everyone, implicitly suggests that I’m too different to belong. I understand that it is an unusual mixture to you, but to me it’s all I have ever known, it is natural and familiar and yet still something I have to condense into soundbites because here I am, explaining it to a stranger for the fifth time this week.
I may have foreign parents (is what I say when I mispronounce words like ‘radiator’ or reveal that I don’t know what Paddington Bear is), but I was born and educated in London and so bombarding me with questions about the political, socio-economic history of Brazil and Montenegro is going to make me feel like I don’t know enough about the political, socio-economic history of Brazil and Montenegro. Would you ask me this if I stuck to my ‘London’ answer? Probably not.
Loaded compliments that are solely based on my ethnicity make me feel uncomfortable, even if you don’t intend them to. Saying that I’m more interesting or more attractive based on something I have absolutely no control over is just an empty compliment – and if it wasn’t tinged with racism (and it usually is) – I probably wouldn’t care. But telling me that I must be an amazing dancer, or ‘fiery in the bedroom’, or must be used to wearing bikinis is bizarre and repulsive, and you should know better.
In all honesty, those comments are not that exhausting to deal with. There are plenty of people who are mixed, just like I am, but who have to deal with a lot more racism. I’m fortunate to pass as ‘white enough’, as I have been informed, so even though some casual racism might be thrown my way, my colour of my skin hasn’t often made me into a target the way it can for many others.
The hardest part of navigating my complex identity is that I myself, do not know exactly how to answer the ‘where are you from’ question. Truthfully, I am unsure. Debates about my ‘genuine’ identity, about the number of passports I have, or should have, about how many languages I can speak and about how much general knowledge I should have are not debates I agreed to when answering the question. Nor is my identity something you are entitled to ‘test’ me on. Here’s what I’d love to talk about, when I am asked about my background:
It is strange to be born in one country but have connections to two, very different countries. It is strange grow up in a household where all three languages are spoken, but English dominates out of practicality, so that the older I get the more I lose what once came to me so easily. And it is stranger still to grow up with a blend of three cultures that make the United Kingdom seem both so familiar yet so foreign at the same time, a feeling that is reinforced when someone insists on determining my origins even after I’ve already given them my answer. It is hard to grow up with family stretched between two different continents; I have missed birthdays, weddings and funerals. I go back often and still feel like an outsider, I read the news and listen to music in an effort to prove to other people (and myself) that I am authentically who I say I am.
These are things I’d much rather discuss with you, stranger or not, instead of struggling to answer what exact year Brazil’s military dictatorship ended, or explain that, yes, I do speak Montenegrin but I never learnt to read or write in it so I am nowhere near fluent. Please stop questioning me. Perhaps start listening instead?
I took a Sunday walk with Olaf Scholz, the number one citizen of Hamburg, the mayor of Hamburg and a former minister of Labor and Social Welfare of Germany. Yes I had him all to myself without the usual bodyguards.
Olaf prefers to call me Burger since he got to know that Ghanaians outside are referred to as burgers. We set of after usual greetings.
I asked, do you still reside in this house? He laughed and said why not, I still buy bread from the same bakery all these years. Trust me if this guy were to be an African politician, you need to pass through several Jerusalem gates to get to his house.
It first occurred to me in the S-Bahn (Train) how overdressed I was. The well paid and powerful Olaf was in a T-shirt and me in my suit. I quickly removed my jacket and folded my sleeves.
In the main train station I felt like a star walking and chatting freely with Olaf, waving people who knew me, suddenly we got to the Lampadusa TENT. I asked our mayor how he feels having this tent in the center of Hamburg; don’t you think it is an eye sour? He said, “Ja”. “We have been trying all these years without any significant breakthrough“. I said politely Olaf stop that…
If your leadership can cater for over 40,000 refugees from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, why can’t you solve this tiny problem.
Anytime I pass by with my kids they asked “Papa was machen deine Leute hier, das is aber peinlich” which literally means “what are your people doing in here, that is embarrassing”
This tent can easily turn into a dealing point for drug barons in the city. Olaf please we want our city clean and we don’t want others seeing Africans in a different light, please resettle the people and clear the camp!!!
We walked pass the Deutsche Bahn office, in the main Hamburg train station, I pointed to Olaf, there is none of my people around why? Desmond this is a free market and the companies are allowed to employ whom they wish to, we can’t force them. Olaf what of the ministries? I asked. I can count the number of blacks working in all the ministries in Hamburg.
Can’t Hamburg enact a law saying 2% of all vacant positions be reserved for Black or Africans. Where there is a political will there is always a way! Bitte sag was? Our mayor is a very clever politician and refuses to answer questions that might put him in a tight corner.
Lack of Motivation:
Everyone is advising we go to school, but no one is ready to provide us with deserving jobs. I finished as “Informatikkaufmann” and then as Microsoft Certified System Engineer but got no jobs related to my training, whilst my biological -/native Germans who even failed their exams got jobs.
Been a native German speaker doesn’t make one more intelligent than others or more suitable for a job.
As we speak we have two of our African scholars with PhD titles from Hamburg University, without jobs, why? How can our children be encouraged to further their education, when their mentors are without jobs? It is therefore humiliating and sad when you are told in the face that you are lazy… For not finding work.
Olaf this cannot continue in modern Hamburg.
We visited JIM BLOCK for lunch, Olaf took his food and paid for his only, I had to pay for mine as well. He wasn’t treated differently and had to join the queue like I did. As an African I was wondering why this man who earns so much should look on whilst I pay for my food.
This is a cultural challenge to most Africans in Germany, you invite them for outing and they expect you to pay for them. Beside, because our politician has to pay for all outings and social gathering, they turn to corrupt ways to withstand the high expenditure.
Africans in Politics:
I regretted asking about Africans in politics, Olaf said “Desmond stop it…
We gave your community several opportunities during the past elections. I remember Clement Klutse, Irene Appiah, Adeyemi Ademuyiwa, Mary Oduro and Maxwell Nkrumah among others, what did you people do? Instead of mobilizing the masses behind the candidates, you were working against one another and forming exclusively smaller groups”.
I advice you learn from the Turks, they support one another despite their differences. Let me tell a secret with my party we fight a lot, we disagree and disagree all the time. But most often we come together and work as a team when it matters most. I also advice the youth to enter into politics at very tender ages, if you can learn to serve people at early stages, it is much easier to serve when you are elected by the people. You understand you are not doing favors to your people but working for them and to be paid on top. Desmond! Teach your youth to learn how to do voluntary work before attempting entering into politics.
Olaf then said to me in German, Ich hab doch Recht! Oder? I felt defeated…
Hamburg Integration Council “Integrationsbeirat”
Olaf, don’t you think the council is gradually failing to attain its main objectives in this form. All the main stake holders, like the police, the senate and other ministries are no longer involved. It has become a group of foreigners and the voting system is not the best. Members of most associations are not aware of the people they vote for to represent their interest.
We see what we can do to improve the system, he said.
We have the past 5 years been inviting you to the African Youth Education Awards as our VVIP, you don’t come, and does it mean our community is not relevant? Desmond, how can you say such a thing? Why not? your office is just around the corner! Our children want to see you and other parents have few questions for you to answer.
Olaf, this is our right or not?
Olaf had a call from “Frau Merkel” and we parted. I then realised it was all a dream.
Desmond John Beddy
TopAfric Media Network
Chancellor Angela Merkel made a "catastrophic mistake" in letting immigrants flood into Germany, US President-elect Donald Trump said in a newspaper interview on Sunday.
He blamed the refugee crisis for being the "straw that broke the camel's back" and triggered Britain's vote last year to leave the European Union.
"I think she made one very catastrophic mistake and that was taking all of these illegals, you know, taking all of the people from wherever they come from," Trump said in an interview with The Times of London and Germany's Bild, adding he had "great respect" for the chancellor.
Some 890,000 migrants, many of them fleeing war in Syria, entered Germany in 2015 after Merkel opened her country's doors in response to massive pressure on countries along the so-called "Balkan route" into western Europe.
The mass arrivals prompted an initial mass outpouring of support, but fear about the consequences has also driven anti-immigrant party Alternative for Germany to between 10 and 15 percent in polls.
One MP deserted Merkel's centre-right Christian Democratic Union this weekend over her refugee policy, as the Chancellor tees up a re-election bid later this year.
Trump said that he would start out "trusting both" Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"Let's see how long that lasts, may not last long at all," he went on.
While he allowed that Merkel was a "fantastic leader," the Republican said that Germany had "got a clear impression" of the consequences of her policy from a deadly December 19 terrorist attack in Berlin in which a hijacked truck was used to mow down Christmas market patrons, killing 12.
Berlin suspect Anis Amri, a Tunisian national, entered Europe via Italy in 2011 and served a four-year prison sentence there before allegedly carrying out the attack.
Trump also argued that the mass arrivals in 2015 were "the final straw that broke the camel's back" in convincing British voters to back leaving the European Union in a June 24th referendum.
Pro-Leave campaigners warned in the wake of the crisis that refugees would flood into the UK, producing a poster showing a crowd of Middle Eastern men under the words "Breaking Point".
Britons were wise to choose to leave the 28-member union, Trump said, arguing that it was a "basically a vehicle for Germany."
"Other countries will leave" the European Union in future, Trump prophesied.
In comments set to cause further consternation among eastern European NATO countries nervous about Moscow following Russia's annexation of Crimea and involvement in Ukraine, Trump also said NATO was "obsolete".
"I said a long time ago that NATO had problems," Trump told The Times of London and Bild
"Number one, it was obsolete, because it was designed many, many years ago," he said.
"Number two, the countries aren't paying what they're supposed to pay."
On the campaign trail, Trump said he would think twice about helping NATO allies if the United States were not "reasonably reimbursed" for the costs of defending them.
After Trump's victory, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance had been a bedrock of transatlantic security for "almost 70 years" and was especially needed at a time of new challenges.
Spending has been a common source of friction within the 28-nation alliance over recent years.
The core military contributor to the alliance is the United States, which accounts for about 70 percent of spending.
In 2014, stung into action by Russia's intervention in Ukraine, upheaval in the Middle East and North Africa, NATO leaders agreed to reverse years of defence cuts and devote the equivalent of two percent of economic output to defence.
"The countries aren't paying their fair share so we're supposed to protect countries," Trump said in Sunday's interview.
"There's five countries that are paying what they're supposed to. Five. It's not much."
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Monday that Trump's NATO remarks have caused concern at the US-led military alliance and also appeared at odds with his own officials.
Steinmeier said he had met NATO head Stoltenberg earlier on Monday "where the statements of President-elect Trump... were received with concern."
"This is in contradiction with what the American defence minister said in his hearing in Washington only some days ago and we have to see what will be the consequences for American policy," he added.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU party won the national election on Sunday by a clear margin. But they scored their worst result in almost 70 years, as the AfD had a night to remember. We're packing it in for the evening. Just like the campaigning itself, German elections are over with much less fuss than those in the UK and US... except for the fact that coalition building could take months.
Exit Polling shows Angela Merkel is set to become German Chancellor for a fourth time, as her party won a double-digit victory over their nearest rival. She seems pleased with the result, describing it as a good result after "an incredibly difficult legislative period."
The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) scored a better-than-expected result in the exit polls, set to win 13 percent or higher and thus become the third largest party in the Bundestag. Polling stations closed at 6pm, and exit polls immediately showed the Social Democrats (SPD) had slumped to a historic low in support.
The SPD have already ruled out joining another coalition, something other parties have called irresponsible. The only other possible coalition is Merkel's Union joining up with the Free Democrats and the Greens. But big ideological differences between the parties mean we might not have a new government until the new year.
9.20 - Merkel ‘optimistic’ she can build coalition before Christmas
There was no love lost between the Green Party and the Free Democrats (FDP) during the ARD TV round table, with FDP man Christian Lindner accusing the Greens of being idealistic and not realistic. Green party head Katrin Göring-Eckardt replied that she would put the environment at the centre of any coalition agreement, adding that she saw little common ground with the FDP. If a coalition is to be built though, it will most likely involve these two parties.
But Merkel finished the show by saying that she was “optimistic” she could build a coalition by the end of the year.
“Power lies in calmness,” she said, repeating the idea she had put across through the evening i.e. that when all the parties had had a good night's sleep they would see everything differently.