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Campaigners warn of racist attacks at World Cup

Written by: Staff

BERLIN, June 7 (Reuters) Anti-racism campaigners in Germany today renewed their warning that black visitors should avoid certain parts of the formerly communist east during the World Cup because of a risk of racist attacks.

Human rights and anti-racism activists have launched a new website -- www.prevent-racist-attack.org -- to coincide with the start of the tournament in Germany on June 9.

Posted in five languages, it aims to educate tourists from Africa and elsewhere about the potential dangers of straying into so-called ''no-go areas'' -- parts of the country where black visitors could fall victim to attacks.

Yonas Edrias of the International League for Human Rights (ILMR) says that a June 21 match between Angola and Iran in the eastern German city of Leipzig could be a flashpoint for far-right violence.

''Our idea is to highlight racism as a problem in Germany,'' Edrias told Reuters in a telephone interview. ''During the World Cup, many black people will come and they do not know which areas are dangerous and what to do.'' ''Black people living in Berlin do not go to Brandenburg with the family for a picnic but people who come here who do not know the situation might think it is safe.'' ''Even the police...are saying that racist violence is rising and that is the experience of the black community here so we want to give this information so that people can be cautious.'' The website warns visitors to stay in groups, take care when using public transport and not to rely on ''good samaritans'' to come forward in the event of an attack.

Campaigners will also launch an anti-racism hotline for Berlin and the surrounding state of Brandenburg that will provide 24-hour advice and assistance to help victims of racist or extreme right-wing violence.

An apparently racially-motivated attack on a German-Ethiopian man in the town of Potsdam and another on a German politician of Turkish descent in Berlin propelled racism into the headlines just as the World Cup was due to begin.

With a million visitors expected to descend on Germany during the month-long event, officials have been at pains to reassure tourists that any possible racially-motivated attacks would be taken seriously.


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