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Website races to prevent racism at World Cup

Activists have voiced concerns about possible racist attacks during world cup and a website is offering tips to visitors.

india Updated: Jun 09, 2006 09:28 IST

Although the World Cup is 'a time to make friends', activists have voiced concerns about possible racist attacks during the games, and a website is offering tips to visitors.

Several NGOs and rights activists have criticised the German Government and FIFA, the international football federation, for their failure to make special provisions for victims of racist attacks during the month-long sporting event.

To aid thousands of visitors, several German NGOs have set up emergency hotlines. Two rights organisations have launched a website that gives helpful advice.

The site, www.prevent-racist-attack.org, has been up and running since Wednesday in five languages.

It warns of particular danger of racist attacks against people travelling in Germany's economically depressed regions and adds 'extra care is important at night'.

"We are advising particular care if you are stopping in east Germany and in parts of east Berlin," suggests the site jointly operated by the International League of Human Rights and the Africa Council, both with a mission of fighting racism.

The best means for preventing or dealing with a racist attack is travelling in groups, asking onlookers for help, and in some cases doing something unexpected, it advises.

German anti-racism activists have criticised FIFA, the German World Cup organising committee and the Government for not preparing any special measures to assist victims of racism at the World Cup.

Several weeks before the World Cup began, Uwe-Karsten Heye, a former government spokesman predicted attacks against dark-skinned fans by German rightwing extremists.

Though his remarks were sharply criticised by the government and World Cup officials, the issue took on added significance after an attack in a Berlin suburb against a German politician of ethnic Turk extraction.

"Heye was very brave to say what he did, silence is shame," said Yonas Endrias, a spokesman for the Human Rights League.

The danger of violence against persons of colour in east Germany and east Berlin is dramatically higher than in the west of the country, said Judy Gummich of the Africa Council, an umbrella grouping representing 25 ethnic minority groups in Berlin and the German state of Brandenburg.

Endrias, who was born in Eritrea but has lived in Germany more than 25 years, rejected traditional explanations of racism attacks in Germany—destitution and joblessness—as the sole reasons for the continuing violence.

"Racism is a social problem," the political scientist said.

First Published: Jun 09, 2006 09:28 IST