Irish probe racist Web sites
DUBLIN, Ireland -- Irish police are investigating racist Internet sites calling on Ireland to remain "white forever."
The Web sites promote messages such as "Say No to Black Ireland," "Ireland is under attack," and "Savages stalk the land."
"I can confirm we are aware of them and are investigating," said police spokeswoman Lynne Nolan.
"We are trying to track down the people concerned," she added, saying that the case was being handled by the National Bureau of Criminal Investigations.
Irish police said all of the Web sites appear to be based outside the country, with at least one of them in Britain.
The Web sites have already caused embarrassment to the Irish political establishment by including links to mainstream Irish political parties.
Ireland's main opposition Fine Gael party demanded that one of the sites, which carries a banner urging readers to "Say No to Black Ireland," to remove the party's name.
"We were outraged," Joanne Harmon, a party spokeswoman, told Reuters.
She added that Fine Gael had a "very open policy" on immigration.
The existence of the sites came to light shortly before a major U.N. anti-racism conference which is due to open in South Africa on August 31.
The Irish Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, John O'Donoghue, will lead the Irish delegation to the conference in Durban.
There has been no official reaction to the Web sites from the government, but one of its spokesmen said it had drawn attention to the need for the conference to address the problem.
"I'm sure it would be an issue because it's one of probably hundreds worldwide," said a spokesman, referring to the "Say No to Black Ireland" site that has received the most publicity in Irish media.
Racism has become an increasingly touchy subject in Ireland in recent years as an influx of refugees, asylum seekers and foreign workers has peppered the overwhelmingly white, Roman Catholic country with people from a wide variety of racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds.
Peter O'Mahony, chief executive of the Irish Refugee Council, said that despite increases in incidents of overt racism over the past couple of years with the influx of immigrants, he did not think the Web sites would receive much support in Ireland.
"Racism is no worse in Ireland than it is anywhere else," O'Mahony said.
"Unfortunately, given our own experience, we should have been able to deal with it far better than in many other countries, we should have learned the lesson of what damage racism does, but sadly we haven't."
Meanwhile, Britain's Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has pulled out of the U.N. conference in protest at language used towards Israel in a draft declaration.
Sacks was part of the Eminent Persons Group, intended to lend moral authority to the conference.
But he decided to stay away to protest against the final draft declaration because it demeaned Jewish suffering by referring to the Nazi Holocaust with a small "h," compared Zionism to racism and condemned Israel's policy towards Palestinians.
A spokesman at the rabbi's London office told Reuters: "The decision came as a result of the rabbi's grave concern over the draft document -- the denigration and trivialisation of the Holocaust, the spotlighting of Israel as guilty of crimes against humanity, and the equation of Zionism to racism."
The U.S. has already threatened to boycott the conference if the agenda includes an Arab demand to pillory Israel.
A draft declaration submitted by Arab and Asian nations describes the Israeli treatment of Palestinians as a "new kind of apartheid."
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