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Germany: Hand Grenade Thrown At Refugee Shelter in Latest Attack On Asylum Seekers

Loon Watch - 5 February, 2016 - 21:20

Police officers of the crime scene investigation unit examine a refugee shelter in Villingen-Schwenningen, Germany, 29 January 2016. EPA

 

Asylum seekers were asleep in the building at the time and police said it was just ‘luck’ that the grenade did not detonate By Lizzie Dearden, The Independent

A hand grenade was thrown into a refugee shelter in Germany overnight as officials said attacks against asylum seekers in the country hit a new level of “hate and violence”.

Police in the southern town of Villingen-Schwenningen said it was “just luck” that the device did not explode when it landed at 1.15am.

Around 20 asylum seekers were sleeping inside the building at the time and were evacuated while a bomb squad destroyed it in a controlled explosion.

Refugee-centre-attack2.jpg Andreas Stenger, of State Office of Criminal Investigation shows a model hand grenade after an attack on a refugee shelter January 29, 2016 in Villingen-Schwenningen, Germany.

Heiko Maas, the German justice minister, said the attack represented a new level of “hate and violence” that must be addressed by local and federal authorities.

“Grenades are already being thrown at refugee homes – we can’t wait until there is someone dead,” he added.

“We need to do everything we can to ensure xenophobic crimes are more rapidly solved and punished more severely.”

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Why was Sarah Reed in prison, not hospital?

Indigo Jo Blogs - 5 February, 2016 - 16:49

Image of Sarah Reed, a light-skinned Black woman wearing a cream coloured fleece top.Sarah Reed told family of alleged sexual assault in hospital, from the Guardian

It has been revealed that Sarah Reed, the woman who was found dead in her cell at Holloway Prison in London last month, having supposedly strangled herself, had been remanded following an incident in a secure ward at the Maudsley psychiatric unit in south London. Ms Reed wrote to her parents to tell them that an old white man had sexually assaulted her while in the unit and she fought back, resulting in her being charged with causing grievous bodily harm (GBH) with intent. Rather than being released back to that or another unit, she was remanded in custody. This would have been the decision of a medical ‘expert’ from the local health authority, rather than a judge or prison service official. Reed was the victim in 2012 of an assault by a police officer, who was later dismissed from the Metropolitan Police and sentenced to community service.

The incident should raise the question of why secure mental health wards exist that treat both men and women; many women with mental health problems are victims of sexual abuse and rape. We do not imprison men and women together; we should not do the same in the mental health system. (By the way, nearly all mental health wards are locked as sectioned and informal patients are treated on the same ward. Theoretically, an informal patient is allowed to leave; in practice, staff often refuse to allow them to, or threaten to section them if they demand to be allowed to leave.) The experiment with mixed wards led to a number of incidents of sexual harassment of female patients, many of which were dealt with inadequately by staff, and it has often led to women feeling unsafe simply by being confined in the same space as men. It simply should not happen.

On top of this, why would anyone imagine that prison is a suitable environment for someone whose mental state does not permit them to live at home or walk the streets without supervision? The fact that prisons are closed institutions does not make them less stressful places to be than home, the street or the shops; this misplaced assumption is commonly made about institutional environments (not only prisons but also boarding schools, hospital units and so on), and is wrong, and dangerously so. A person who is under section is already presumed to need mental health care and to receive it from mental health professionals; prison officers are not mental health professionals and convicts, by nature, are more likely to be violent than other psychiatric patients. Why was she not transferred to a women’s secure mental health unit? There are plenty in the south-east and it would have been a more appropriate use of the resources than sending inappropriately sectioned autistic people there from other parts of the country. Unlike in the mental health system, “no beds” is no impediment to imprisoning someone; they can always make prisoners share with one or two others.

Of course, it’s possible for a mentally-ill person to commit a crime for which their illness is not a defence. But it’s a fact that people in institutions are more likely to be referred to the police for property damage or fights that would result in their arrest if they happened at home, and the atmosphere and person mix of the institution, the reasons why people are there and so on may make more likely. This applies to children’s homes as well, resulting in “looked-after” children being more likely to start their adult life with a criminal record than one who was able to live with their family. Someone who is meant to be receiving treatment for an illness, which may be (as in Sarah Reed’s case) the result of trauma, should not be criminalised for failing to deal with the stresses of (enforced) institutional life as calmly and rationally as a healthy, free person — the proverbial “man on the Clapham Omnibus” — might.

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Visit My Mosque day: British Muslims offer tours and tea to public

The Guardian World news: Islam - 5 February, 2016 - 12:44

Dozens of mosques to open their doors this weekend in effort to explain religion ‘beyond the hostile headlines’

Dozens of mosques around the country are to open their doors to non-Muslims this weekend in an effort to counter negative perceptions of Islam and educate people about the religion.

More than 80 mosques are taking part in the second Visit My Mosque day, organised by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB). A similar event last year, involving 20 mosques, attracted hundreds of visitors for tours, talks and tea.

Related: Tea, Citizen Khan and other good reasons to visit your local mosque | Remona Aly

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Timbuktu marks rebuilding of mausoleums destroyed by Islamists

The Guardian World news: Islam - 4 February, 2016 - 23:37

Desert city in Mali formally receives keys to shrines to Muslim saints after they were rebuilt with Unesco funding following damage in 2012

Timbuktu has celebrated the recovery of its historic mausoleums, destroyed during an Islamist takeover of northern Mali in 2012 and rebuilt thanks to the UN cultural agency, Unesco.

The desert city formally received the keys to the shrines to Muslim saints at a ceremony on Thursday in the Djingareyber mosque. Five head of cattle were ritually sacrificed just after dawn before a reading of the entire Qur’an and the handing of the keys to the families in charge of the shrines’ care.

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