Embargoed! stepping up the battle against racism

Embargoed! is stepping up its Stop Racism! campaign following the Jennifer Lopez incident and a growth in anti-Turkish abuse on social media such as Facebook. The human rights group has been at the forefront in raising awareness about the problem since 2005, taking a stand against the racist i-Greek petition and pressing for the offensive ‘Bloody Map’ to be banned. The group is launching a dedicated area on hate crime on its recently revamped website, www.embargoed.org, and will be lobbying Scotland Yard and other authorities for action in both preventing hate crime against Turks and punishing those responsible for them.

Human rights group Embargoed! reacted strongly when a recent statement from the Cyprus Action Network of America (www.cyprusactionnetwork.org) called on Jennifer Lopez not to perform in North Cyprus, asking the artist whether her “charitable work and status permit you to give credibility to Turkish rapists, thieves, invaders, occupiers of our stolen properties”. The offensive statement was reproduced in the Guardian, Yahoo and other media worldwide, prompting a mass of complaints from Embargoed! and its supporters.

In the past few weeks, Embargoed!’s chair Fevzi Hussein has also made formal complaints to Scotland Yard for hate crimes on Facebook. Mr Hussein was alerted by supporters about a group called “Gay Ataturk Oruspu Turk”, which displayed a crudely defaced picture of Kemal Ataturk and broadcast various offensive statements such as “The Best Turk is a Dead Turk” in English, Turkish and Greek. The group, which had 95 friends, with many using Nazi and White Supremacy symbols as part of their profile imagery, was quickly removed by Facebook while the police are investigating the perpetrators.

Mr Hussein said, “We would like to think these acts are committed by a small group of extremists, but the Jennifer Lopez incident shows the extensive support within the Greek Cypriot community for racist sentiment against Turks. This must stop! In the coming months we will be stepping up our campaign to check hate crime, employing a policy of zero tolerance. Our aim is to educate our community to monitor and report such crimes, and to ensure the authorities act on it.” He continued, “There is no place for racism in a civilised society and past suffering does not give people the licence to perpetuate hate today”.

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