Letter from

Letter from Switzerland

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A referendum has led to a constitutional ban on the construction of minarets on mosques. Charles-André Udry reports on the scapegoating of Muslims in the country.

Swiss citizens voted by 57.5 percent in a recent referendum for the introduction of an article into the constitution ruling, "The construction of minarets is forbidden." Participation in the poll, held across the country on 29 November 2009, was very high by Swiss standards, at 53.4 percent. There are currently only four minarets in Switzerland, in Geneva, Basel and Winterthur. The populations of all three of these cities voted against the ban.

Letter from France

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Undocumented workers in Paris are waging an extraordinary battle to win their rights, reports Vanina Giudicelli

On 12 October 1,500 sans papiers - immigrant workers denied residence papers - began a wave of strikes and workplace occupations around Paris. Every day a hundred more joined them, until by the end of November the movement was 5,000 strong.

The media has paid very little attention, but every report that does appear exposes the racist attitude of both the government and employers.

Letter from China

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The 60th anniversary of the People's Republic has become a nationalistic festival of "ethnic harmony" manufactured to cover massive discontent, reports Hsiao-Hung Pai

When I entered China at the town of Manzhouli the border control officers insisted on a 40-minute search of my luggage. They opened each Word document on my laptop without explanation. Other rail passengers told me this is part of an anti-terrorist security check, primarily against the Uighur "splittists". Should I worry that I don't look Han Chinese enough?

Letter from Venezuela

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In response to recent right wing attacks, workers are organising to put pressure on Hugo Chávez to deepen the revolution, reports Luke Stobart.

On the afternoon of Friday 11 September, in Caracas, word spreads that Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez has returned from an 11-day tour of the Middle East.
Soon large numbers of red caps and T-shirts appear in central Caracas and a powerful current of people heads towards the presidential palace, where thousands would wait several hours to hear their leader.

Letter from South Africa

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Angry at betrayals by leaders of the national liberation movement, working class protests are taking on a new militancy, reports Trevor Ngwane.

South Africa is a country in turmoil. Over the past four years the country saw an exponential rise in the number of protests and strikes. This created a political crisis which expressed itself as a vicious leadership battle inside the ruling African National Congress (ANC). But despite the recall of the country's president, Thabo Mbeki, and his replacement by Jacob Zuma, the turmoil continues.

Letter from Northern Ireland

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Attacks on Roma families have shocked many, argues Goretti Horgan. But politicians must shoulder much of the blame.

Two stories have dominated the headlines in Northern Ireland over the past few weeks: racists driving out a number of Roma families from their South Belfast homes and the expensive tastes of "Swish Family Robinson" - first minister Peter Robinson and his wife Iris - exposed by the MPs' expenses scandal. The two stories, of course, are not unconnected.

Letter from Lebanon

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What are the forces in this month's election and what are the prospects for the left? Bassem Chit reports

The elections in Lebanon have always been a peculiar affair involving electoral alliances between sectarian parties. But the elections on 7 June have international resonance. For the first time in Lebanon's history the opposition movement headed by Hizbollah could form the next government.

Letter from Thailand

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After the brutal repression of anti-government protests last month Comrade Sung gives her assessment of the movement

After the announcement by the core members of the National United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD, or the "Red Shirts") on 14 April that we were to abandon the protests, I was on the road to attend a meeting of the Missing Peoples Complaint Centre at the 14 October Memorial building in the centre of Bangkok.

Letter From Hungary

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The economic crisis has led to politicians blaming the poorest for society's problems, and the rise of the far right, writes G M Tamás

Hungary seems to be haunted both by the demons of its past and the ghosts of the ultra-capitalist present - and the two seem increasingly similar.

It is not only that the superlatively unpopular "Socialist" minority government, in contrast to at least feebly Keynesian attempts elsewhere, tries to pursue its failed neoconservative policies, aided and abetted by the International Monetary Fund, but the country does not feel able to follow its own fate with anything like sustained attention. The nation is gripped by an unprecedented racist paranoia.

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