News Digest: round-up of news stories from across the EU (28.10.16)


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AUSTRIA: Austria’s Protestant church slams far-right presidential candidate(New Europe, link):

"Austria’s far-right Freedom Party (FPO) presidential candidate has been criticised by the country’s Protestant church for using the phrase “so help me God” on his campaign posters. The church also says Norbert Hofer’s anti-immigrant stance runs against Christian principles.

As reported by the Reuters news agency, Hofer hopes to persuade voters to make him the European Union’s first far-right head of state in a run-off election on December 4.


“God cannot be instrumentalised for one’s own intentions or for political purposes,” the three branches of the Protestant churches in the Alpine republic said in a joint statement."

Hungary’s PM warns of ‘Sovietisation’ by Brussels (New Europe, link):

"Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban said his country must defend its borders against mass immigration and stand up to Europe’s “Sovietisation”.

Speaking at a ceremony marking the 1956 anti-Communist uprising, Orban said freedom in Europe depended on the nation state and Christian traditions.

“People who love their freedom must save Brussels from Sovietisation, from people who want to tell us who we should live within our countries,” he said in Moscow on October 23. “We want to be a European nation not a nationality within Europe.”

As reported by the Reuters news agency, a few hundred opposition protesters whistled loudly as Orban spoke, and brawls broke out in the crowd between his supporters and opponents.

“We cannot create freedom while this despicable leftist opposition exists,” said Laszlo Barta, an Orban supporter with a Hungarian flag flung across his shoulders."

IRELAND: 'People died to keep your kind out of this country' - Man kicked off the Luas for 'racist abuse' (Irish Independent, link):

"A Luas [tram] driver was forced to remove a man off the Luas after he verbally abused a black woman.

Ciara Kelly, who witnessed the attack said the "horrible" man took an issue with the woman and began to shout at her.

"The man told the woman that people died to keep 'your kind' out of the country," Ciara told Today FM's Anton Savage show.

"The woman replied, 'I live here, I work here, I deserve to be here. Ireland is my home. You’re a horrible man'."

Ciara said the man who was "well-dressed" in a blazer and jeans raised his voice loud enough for everyone to hear."

Syria’s “Voice of Conscience” Has a Message for the West (The Intercept, link):

"Yassin al-Haj Saleh has lived a life of struggle for his country. Under the Syrian regime of Hafez al-Assad, he was a student activist organizing against the government. In 1980, Saleh and hundreds of others were arrested and accused of membership in a left-wing political group. He was just 19 years old when a closed court found him guilty of crimes against the state. Saleh spent the next 16 years of his life behind bars.

“I have a degree in medicine, but I am a graduate of prison, and I am indebted to this experience,” Saleh said, sitting with us in a restaurant near Istanbul’s Taksim Square. Now in his 50s, with white hair and a dignified, somewhat world-weary demeanor, Saleh, called Syria’s “voice of conscience” by many, has the appearance and bearing of a university professor. But he speaks with passionate indignation about what he calls the Assad dynasty’s “enslavement” of the Syrian people."

UK-POLAND: EU Brexit: Poland feels the chill ahead of UK talks (BBC News, link):

"There is a warning of winter-to-come on the edge of the October winds sweeping through the elegant parks and handsome squares of Warsaw. Pedestrians are already bundled up against the cold.

It will be useful preparation for the chilly atmosphere Poland's politicians seem to expect around the table when next year's Brexit negotiations bring together the UK and the 27 countries that will remain in the EU after it leaves.

Modern Poland is a place of sharply polarised politics in which a broad coalition of liberal opposition parties fear their country is in the grip of a government so deeply conservative that it is exerting a kind of reactionary grip on political life."

UK: Man commits his 201st offence - the week after being released from prison for number 200 (South Wales Evening Post, link):

"A MAN has clocked up his 201st offence just days after being released from prison for his last conviction.

Swansea Magistrates Court heard that "prison doesn't work" for Christopher Welke, and that something needs to be done to break his cycle of offending."

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