Author Archives: Sonia Gable

EDL founder pulls out of Iceland lecture

The English Defence League’s co-founder Tommy Robinson, who was scheduled to give a lecture today in Iceland, will not be coming after all, Reykjavic Grapevine reports. The organisers have therefore cancelled the event.

Vakur, a self-described “organisation of European culture”, had invited British far-right activist Tommy Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, to Iceland to give a lecture entitled “Multiculturalism in Europe: Problems and Solutions”. Vakur had brought another well-known Islamophobe, Robert Spencer, to Iceland last year.

DV now reports that Robinson unexpectedly cancelled his trip to Iceland on account of a death in the family.

Sigurfreyr Jónasson, a founding member of Vakur and the main organiser of the event, told reporters that Robinson was due to arrive yesterday, but Robinson’s assistant had told him that he blew out a tyre and missed his flight.

Another flight was booked for today, but when Sigurfreyr went to the airport to meet him, Robinson never arrived. After waiting for at least two hours, Sigurfreyr received an email saying that Robinson would not be coming to Iceland on account of a death in the family. So the event was cancelled.

Sources close to the story have told Grapevine that Vakur has incurred some financial losses over the cancellation. There is as yet no word on when or even whether the event will be rescheduled.

International Roma Day concert in northeast London

Sindy and Bejamin, two young Romani activists and musicians from Poland, have organised a Festival of Music to celebrate International Roma Day. It is going to be fantastic. Several bands from all over Eastern Europe, traditional Roma food, wine, dance and more. Please come and support this brave initiative, help to challenge prejudice and join in celebrating Roma culture! Please come, and please spread the word to all your friends and networks!

The concert is on 6 April at 6.30pm at St Mary’s Church, Church End, Walthamstow, London E17 9RL.

‘Freital Group’ members found guilty of terror-related crimes

Eight people have been found guilty of numerous crimes including deliberate attacks on refugee shelters in Germany, DW reports. After a yearlong trial, the legal points hinged on the very nature of the group’s structure and intent.

The Dresden Higher Regional Court on Wednesday found seven men and one woman who formed the “Freital Group” guilty of forming a terror group, attempted murder and aiding and abetting crimes, including attacks on refugees shelters and political opponents.

The court handed out prison sentences ranging from four to 10 years. The Freital Group’s leaders, identified as Timo S. and Patrick F. in accordance with German press code, received 10 and nine-and-a-half year sentences, respectively. The courtroom in the eastern German state of Saxony was constructed in the high-security state penitentiary in Dresden.

The Reichsbürger scene is a disparate, leaderless movement totalling about 15,000 supporters, according to German intelligence officials. Of those, about 900 have been identified as far-right extremists and 1,000 have a license to own firearms. Authorities are concerned about some members’ potential to become violent and have conducted several raids on Reichsbürger suspects to seize weapons.

Group’s goal was to create ‘a climate of fear’

In his closing arguments, Senior Federal Prosecutor Jörn Hausschild said he was convinced that the group’s crimes were based on xenophobic, right-wing extremist, and Nazi ideology. The eight individuals, he claimed, operated in varying capacities with the aim of creating “a climate of fear.”

Members of the group, however, saw themselves as protecting the German people from refugees, immigrants and those with different political views. The accused are also convinced that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is a traitor to the German people. Members discussed and planned who would “get it next” in so-called dark chats online and via telephone.

The eight group members targeted hunted refugee aid workers and left-leaning politicians. They acquired explosives — 130 times more powerful than those legally allowed in Germany — in the Czech Republic. They made coded reference to the explosives by calling them “vegetables.”

During closing arguments, Hausschild said it had simply been a matter of good fortune that no one was actually killed during the attacks the group carried out. The “Czech firecrackers,” he argued, packed a deadly explosive potential, especially in instances in which they were planted on windows — at which point they became fragmentary bombs. The defendants were accused of having done just that in an attack on a refugee center, with federal prosecutors having charged that such incidents constituted attempted murder.

Police warned Freital-based neo-Nazis

Some individual police officers appear to have been more than sympathetic to the Freital Group and its activities. According to media reports, leading members of the group testified they had received information from one 51-year-old police officer. He is accused of having provided the group with information pertaining to the location and duration of police patrols in the areas where they carried out the attacks. The officer has meanwhile been suspended.

It is only thanks to the German Federal Prosecutor’s Office that the Freital Group even became the subject of a trial of this scope. Federal prosecutors took over the case and its investigation from Saxony’s state prosecutors in what has become an absolute disgrace for the state’s justice department.

The strategy of the defense team, on the other hand, was to claim that the Freital Group was neither a criminal nor a terror organization. Andreas Scheider, defense attorney for group member Patrick F., claimed “what we have here is a series of spontaneous acts.” Like his colleague, Michael Sturm, who was defending group member Timo S., he also raised doubts about the lethal potential of the explosives used in the crimes.

Complex burden of proof

Nikolaos Gazeas, a criminal legal specialist and expert on paragraph 129a of the German Penal Code (StGB), had noted before the verdict was announced that two critical points could have hindered a conviction on the charges for founding of, membership in, or the abetting of a terrorist organization. He said paragraph 129a of the StGb requires proof of a minimum level of established organization within the group. Gazeas said the Freital Group’s defense team thus tried cast doubt on that point by emphasizing the “spontaneous” nature of the attacks.

Read also: Why Germany’s far-right flourishes in Dresden

Moreover, prosecutors had to prove that the group exhibited an overriding will to achieve terrorist aims. Proof of that would be evidenced if the group’s members worked in a coordinated fashion, as Gazeas told DW. “It is not out of the question that the structure and activities of the Freital Group did cross the legal threshold defining what a terror organization is.” The court found the evidence exceeding that threshold.

Nevertheless, Gazeas, who also teaches law at the University of Cologne, said before the verdict was pronounced that if the Dresden court convicted the defendants, it would not likely be the last word on the issue: “I am certain that the defense team will appeal, then it will be up to the Federal Court of Justice to decide.”

Britain First leaders convicted of religiously aggravated harassment

Searchlight joins Unite Against Fascism (UAF) in welcoming the guilty verdicts on the notorious leaders of the fascist group, Britain First.

Leader Paul Golding and deputy leader Jayda Fransen have been found guilty of religiously aggravated harassment. Both were arrested in May last year for distributing leaflets and posting online videos during a trial at Canterbury Crown Court, where three Muslim men and a teenager were convicted of rape and jailed.

Fransen was accused of going to the Kent home of one of the defendants and shouting racist abuse through the front door.

The judge told Golding and Fransen their words “demonstrated hostility” towards Muslims and the Muslim faith.
On a video played in court, Fransen was seen banging on the door and shouting: “Come out you disgusting racist, come on”.

Judge Justin Barron said the verdict was based on evidence heard in court. He stated Fransen “deliberately associates Muslim men with rape and with immigrants and rape”, creating an “us and them message”.

Britain First, a splinter group from the British National Party, came to prominence this year following US President Trump’s retweeting of their vile views. This was a short term boost. Their conference, held days after the Trump tweets, was in a secret location and had no more than 80 people there. Weyman Bennett, Joint Secretary of UAF said, “Britain First left the BNP, but kept their fascist politics”.

Only last year, Fransen was on a nationalist march in Warsaw, where around 40,000 right-wing and open Nazis marched. She was quoted in Poland saying, “There is a cancer moving through Europe and that is Islam. Our children are being bombed, our children are being groomed and our government does nothing.”

Fascist organisations are growing, particularly when mainstream politicians such as Trump and others in Europe, ape far-right rhetoric, in relation to refugees, for instance. Anti-fascists have worn BF down and it is high time that they be held responsible for hate speech.


The fascist killer of Jo Cox MP, shouted out, “Britain First” as he carried out his foul deed. Searchlight has further information here.

Britain First was set up by Golding, a former BNP communications officer who was also a BNP councillor between 2009 and 2011 in Kent, and Jim Dowson, who ran the BNP’s substantial fundraising operation from 2008 to 2010.

Dowson has criminal convictions that include possession of weapons and is connected with Loyalist organisations in Northern Ireland, where he was involved in organising Loyalist “flag protests”.