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World Peace Update

World Peace Update

Has the human race managed to settle all its differences yet?
Henry Langston
Κείμενο Henry Langston
1.6.12

Hey, remember last week I wrote the first edition of my new column? Well, the world hasn't managed to let go of its many grudges yet, so here's a second.

Welcome to World Peace Update!

Russia

This week, we start with the Russians, who, not to be outdone by their homophobic Georgian brothers, spent last Sunday gay bashing on the streets of Moscow. Again, the violence was carried out by Orthodox Christian activists, who turned up at two gay rights protests in the city and started to pray at the gays, before getting bored of waiting for God to cure the heretics and piling in with their fists.

This being Russia, which has recently started fining people for spreading "gay propaganda," all 30 of the gay rights activists were picked up off of the floor and arrested. The Guardian spoke to some critics of the law, who said it will be used to clamp down on gay rights protests. Which, from looking at last week's events, seems to be pretty much on the money.

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Israel

Tel Aviv is actually a haven for the gay community in the Middle East, but not so much for immigrants, as last Wednesday groups of far-right protesters scoured an immigrant neighborhood searching for people to beat up. A protest was held in the Haktiva area by far-right protesters and speeches were made by members of the ruling Likud party—including Mirir Regev, who called immigrants "a cancer in our body." After the speeches, hundreds of protesters stormed the streets, attacking immigrant-owned shops and cars. All very ironic, considering that technically, all Israelis are immigrants or refugees.

Greece

A day before the violent clashes in Israel, members of the neo-nazi Golden Dawn party attacked an old warehouse used as a refuge for migrants in the port city of Patras. Golden Dawn supporters and local residents gathered outside the warehouse to protest against the killing of a local by three Afghan men. The demonstration ran into a second day, on which the group tried to storm the building but were beaten back by police. Tear gas was used and Golden Dawn members responded with fireworks and stones.

Since the Golden Dawn won a surprise seven percent in recent elections, they've grown in confidence and attacked a number of immigrants and anti-fascists in Athens. With links to the police widely known, it's not looking too likely that these attacks are gonna stop any time soon.

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Syria

Last week's massacre in the Syrian town of Houla looks like it could become a catalyst for international intervention in Syria, albeit roughly 14 months too late. The attack on Friday claimed the lives of 90 innocent civilians, including 32 children, mostly from shelling. Some of the victims were beheaded or stabbed to death.

The massacre outraged the world's press, prompting 13 countries to expel Syrian ambassadors, including the UK, US, and Turkey. The regime blamed "terrorists," but UN observers who visited the town confirmed regime soldiers and militia as the perpetrators, with satellite imagery backing them up.

The attack has galvanised the Syrian opposition, who released a statement calling for international intervention and issued an ultimatum to the regime—"Stop the fighting by Friday, or we'll stop respecting the ceasefire." With the ceasefire being nothing but hot air, the recent barbaric violence could push the conflict into civil war, something the media is waking up to and that Syrian civilians are preparing for.

For more on the situation in Syria, read Benjamin Hall's account of spending four days with the Free Syrian Army earlier this year.

Canada

We end our roundup of depressing news with the students in the weird, French part of Canada who've turned on the authorities for their plans to hike college tuition fees by $1,600.

For over 100 days, students in Montreal have been on strike, regularly marching through the streets and clashing with over-zealous cops, who so far have arrested about 2,500 of them. To combat the unrest, the Quebec government passed an emergency law that states police must be informed about gatherings of more than 50 people, the route and destination of any protest, and it also suspends the current academic year. The law has somewhat backfired and meant the students are being joined by ordinary Québécois outraged at the clampdown. On Friday, thousands of protesters gathered in the city to defy the law with clashes breaking out later on. Check the trailer for VICE's new Teenage Riot film which will document the unrest.

Join me again this time next week to see if the human race has managed to settle all its differences.

Follow Henry on Twitter: @Henry_Langston