Category : Новини

In California, members of an under-the-radar, minority religious community are stepping into the public eye to advocate for making the state the first in the nation to outlaw caste bias.

They are the Ravidassia — followers of Ravidass, a 14th century Indian guru who preached caste and class equality. There are about 20,000 members of the community in California, most of them in the Central Valley.

Guru Ravidass belonged to the lowest-rung of the caste system formerly considered untouchable and also known as Dalit, which means “broken” in Hindi. Today, many Ravidassia members share that caste identity, but they are hesitant to make that widely known, fearing repercussions for being exposed to the larger community as “lower-caste.”

Members of the Fresno Ravidassia community say publicly championing the anti-caste bias legislation is worth the risk, noting that fighting for equality is part of their history and their spiritual DNA.

The faith itself emerged in response to the societal exclusion of the lowest caste members, including persistent roadblocks to landownership, said Ronki Ram, professor of political science at Panjab University in Chandigarh, India. Caste-based discrimination was outlawed in India in 1947.


Ravidass was an Indian guru, mystic and poet who was one of the most renowned figures in the North Indian bhakti movement, which placed love and devotion to god above all and preached against the caste system. Ravidass was born in the 14th century in a village near Varnasi, India, to a family of cobblers and tanners who belonged to the then-untouchable or leather-working caste known as “chamars.” The Guru Granth Sahib, which is the sacred text of Sikhism, bears 40 verses or shabads of Ravidass.


A Ravidassia place of worship is called a sabha, dera, gurdwara or gurughar, which could all be translated as temple. Adherents cover their heads and remove their shoes before entering the prayer hall or place of worship. In California Ravidassia temples, the Guru Granth Sahib is the focal point of the prayer hall. The temples serve a post-worship meal as Sikh gurdwaras also do, which is known as langar. Ravidassia temples often display idols and/or pictures of Guru Ravidass in the prayer halls.


Professor Ronki Ram says the Ravidassia identity is challenging to pin down because it “cannot be compartmentalized.”

“More recently, they have been trying to carve out a separate identity for themselves,” he said. “But, they also follow Sikh traditions.”

Many male Ravidassia members wear long hair in a turban and carry Sikh articles of faith such as the kada or bracelet, kangha or wooden comb and kirpan, the sheathed, single-edged knife. Many men and women in the community also have Sikh last names — Singh and Kaur.

Ram points out that idols and images of Ravidass, however, can only be seen in a Ravidass temple. In addition, the community celebrates the birthday of their guru, which typically falls in February. Many Ravidass temples also observe the birth anniversary of B.R. Ambedkar, the Indian Dalit rights icon whose given name was Bhimrao.

The faith also has followers who are Hindu and those who are from different parts of India. Ravidassia community members in California are largely of Punjabi descent.


The Ravidassia community’s relationship with Sikhism is “flexible and nuanced,” said Sasha Sabherwal, assistant professor of Anthropology and Asian Studies, Northeastern University.

“It’s not an either-or relationship,” she said. “It’s a much more complex idea of what their faith means for them. Some (Ravidassia temples) may be autonomous spaces. But, in many cases, it’s blended or overlapping rather than something entirely independent. There is still a commitment to this larger Sikh project.”

Sabherwal said the path to unity may lie in making “meaningful structural changes.”

“The issue is that often, caste is not even acknowledged as a problem,” she said.

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The International Energy Agency says Chinese car manufacturers are emerging as a major force in the global electric car market, with more than 50% of all electric cars on roads worldwide now produced in China. Spain is the second-largest vehicle manufacturer in Europe after Germany and its market has become a target for Chinese automakers. From Barcelona, Alfonso Beato has this report, narrated by Marcus Harton.

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Amazon agreed Wednesday to pay a $25 million civil penalty to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations it violated a child privacy law and deceived parents by keeping for years kids’ voice and location data recorded by its popular Alexa voice assistant.

Separately, the company agreed to pay $5.8 million in customer refunds for alleged privacy violations involving its doorbell camera Ring.

The Alexa-related action orders Amazon to overhaul its data deletion practices and impose stricter, more transparent privacy measures. It also obliges the tech giant to delete certain data collected by its internet-connected digital assistant, which people use for everything from checking the weather to playing games and queueing up music.

“Amazon’s history of misleading parents, keeping children’s recordings indefinitely, and flouting parents’ deletion requests violated COPPA (the Child Online Privacy Protection Act) and sacrificed privacy for profits,” Samuel Levine, the FCT consumer protection chief, said in a statement. The 1998 law is designed to shield children from online harms.

FTC Commissioner Alvaro Bedoya said in a statement that “when parents asked Amazon to delete their kids’ Alexa voice data, the company did not delete all of it.”

The agency ordered the company to delete inactive child accounts as well as certain voice and geolocation data.

Amazon kept the kids’ data to refine its voice recognition algorithm, the artificial intelligence behind Alexa, which powers Echo and other smart speakers, Bedoya said. The FTC complaint sends a message to all tech companies who are “sprinting to do the same” amid fierce competition in developing AI datasets, he added.

“Nothing is more visceral to a parent than the sound of their child’s voice,” tweeted Bedoya, the father of two small children.

Amazon said last month that it has sold more than a half-billion Alexa-enabled devices globally and that use of the service increased 35% last year.

In the Ring case, the FTC says Amazon’s home security camera subsidiary let employees and contractors access consumers’ private videos and provided lax security practices that enabled hackers to take control of some accounts.

Amazon bought California-based Ring in 2018, and many of the violations alleged by the FTC predate the acquisition. Under the FTC’s order, Ring is required to pay $5.8 million that would be used for consumer refunds.

Amazon said it disagreed with the FTC’s claims on both Alexa and Ring and denied violating the law. But it said the settlements “put these matters behind us.”

“Our devices and services are built to protect customers’ privacy, and to provide customers with control over their experience,” the Seattle-based company said.

In addition to the fine in the Alexa case, the proposed order prohibits Amazon from using deleted geolocation and voice information to create or improve any data product. The order also requires Amazon to create a privacy program for its use of geolocation information.

The proposed orders must be approved by federal judges.

FTC commissioners had unanimously voted to file the charges against Amazon in both cases.

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The semiconductor trade war between Washington and Beijing may ensnare Seoul as South Korea must decide between backing its closest ally or embracing a lucrative export opportunity presented by China, its top trading partner. 

The decision will reveal how closely South Korea is aligned with the U.S., its second-largest export market, experts said. 

The dilemma facing Seoul emerged after China announced that it was banning the use of U.S.-based Micron Technology’s broad range of computer memory and storage technologies. 

Liu Pengyu, a Chinese Embassy spokesperson in Washington, told VOA’s Korean Service on May 24 that Beijing’s cybersecurity regulators had assessed that Micron’s chips “pose a major security risk to China’s key information infrastructure supply chain and impact China’s national security.” 

The ban echoed that set by the U.S. on China’s Huawei Technologies in May 2019, when the Trump administration cited security concerns related to the company’s wireless networking equipment, especially those related to 5G. The Biden administration in November 2022 banned approvals of new telecommunications equipment from Huawei and ZTE because the products pose “an unacceptable risk” to U.S. national security.

U.S. Representative Mike Gallagher, the Republican chairman of the House Select Committee on Strategic Competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party, has called for South Korea to “act to prevent backfilling” the market gap left by Micron.

Litmus test

The U.S. has been trying to block China’s access to the technology needed to make advanced chips that can be used to modernize its military. Micron’s chips are used by Chinese industries that assemble consumer electronics such as smartphones. Although Beijing is funding the development of home-grown advanced chips such as those used in artificial intelligence applications, China’s chipmakers, for now, manufacture simpler products such as those used in home appliances.

Seoul’s decision on whether to dissuade its top chipmakers such as Samsung or SK Hynix from selling chips to China could indicate how closely South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol is aligned with Washington. 

“This would certainly be a litmus test to see if Seoul and other allies are willing to support Washington’s policies designed to slow China’s technology growth,” said Andrew Yeo, the SK-Korea Foundation chair in Korea Studies at Brookings Institution.

Robert Rapson, who served as charge d’affaires and deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Seoul, 2018-2021, said, “This is the first real test of the Yoon administration’s policy of enhanced alignment with the U.S. on China.” 

He continued, “In other words, will [South] Korea sacrifice core economic, commercial interests of its flagship high-tech companies in keeping with [Washington’s] policy and U.S. wishes?”

He added that Seoul has the right to seek “some credit or offset” from Washington if it blocks backfilling the Micron gap. 

A business decision

A spokesperson for the South Korean Foreign Ministry told VOA’s Korean Service on Tuesday that the government “plans to continue efforts to protect the interest of our companies through cooperation with relevant agencies and engagements with diplomatic missions abroad.”  

South Korea sent 55% of its semiconductor exports to China last year even as  

its semiconductor exports have been in a steep decline since August 2022, according to a Bank of Korea report released on Tuesday, cited by Business Korea.

Robert Manning, a senior fellow at the Stimson Center’s Reimagining U.S. Grand Strategy Project, said “As the security environment in Northeast Asia has become fraught with North Korea’s provocative nuclear efforts and Chinese economic coercion, the U.S.-ROK alliance has become more vital to Seoul.” South Korea’s official name is the Republic of Korea (ROK).

“South Korea will [need to] sacrifice to a degree to sustain broad alignment with the U.S.,” Manning said. “But South Korea has its own interests so there are likely to be limits.” 

Troy Stangarone, senior director at Korea Economic Institute, said, “While China might face short-term shortage in chips if Samsung and SK Hynix withheld capacity, the ultimate result would only be the further expansion of domestic Chinese semiconductor firms which undermine U.S. long-term goals and potentially the very firms the United States is working with to improve its own supply chains.”

Dennis Wilder, senior director for East Asia affairs at the White House’s National Security Council during the George W. Bush administration, said, “This is a business decision, and it really should, in my view, be left to the South Korean companies to make this business decision.”  

Wilder continued, “But it’s far more important for South Korea to align with the United States on the very high-end semiconductor chips and the attempts to keep things out of the hands of the Chinese military that can help modernize.”  

Beijing’s ban came on the last day of the Group of Seven countries summit on May 19-21. The group agreed to de-risk the global economy and diversify trade away from China in an effort to counter its economic coercion. This is defined as “a threatened or actual imposition of economic costs by a state on a target with the objective of extracting a policy concession,” according to testimony by Bonnie Glaser, managing director, of the German Marshall Fund Indo-Pacific program, before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on Saturday that Washington “firmly opposes” China’s ban on Micron. She made the remark at a press conference held after the meeting of the U.S.-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) that China sees as a body aimed at countering its economic rise. 

On Monday, an article in Chinese state-run media Global Times said it would be “natural” for South Korea’s chipmakers to export to fill the market void left by the Micron ban.

“There is no possibility for South Korea to replace its chips with other goods in its exports to China,” the report said. 

And on Sunday, Bloomberg quoted an unidentified source familiar with the situation as saying South Korea will veer away from supplying chips to China.

South Korea’s exports to China in April were $9.52 billion while exports to the U.S. reached $9.18 billion, according to the Trade Ministry’s latest data. The gap between South Korea’s exports to China and the U.S. narrowed to just $340 million in April from $1.15 billion in January driven by a strong dollar and EV demand.

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SpaceX’s Starlink, the satellite communications service started by billionaire Elon Musk, now has a Defense Department contract to buy those satellite services for Ukraine, the Pentagon said Thursday.  

“We continue to work with a range of global partners to ensure Ukraine has the resilient satellite and communication capabilities they need. Satellite communications constitute a vital layer in Ukraine’s overall communications network and the department contracts with Starlink for services of this type,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

Starlink has been used by Ukrainian troops for a variety of efforts, including battlefield communications.  

SpaceX, through private donations and under a separate contract with a U.S. foreign aid agency, has been providing Ukrainians and the country’s military with Starlink internet service, a fast-growing network of more than 4,000 satellites in low Earth orbit, since the beginning of the war in 2022.

The Pentagon contract is a boon for SpaceX after Musk, the company’s CEO, said in October it could not afford to indefinitely fund Starlink in Ukraine, an effort he said cost $20 million a month to maintain.

Russia has tried to cut off and jam internet services in Ukraine, including attempts to block Starlink in the region, though SpaceX has countered those attacks by hardening the service’s software.

The Pentagon did not disclose the terms of the contract, which Bloomberg reported earlier on Thursday, “for operational security reasons and due to the critical nature of these systems.”

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The arrest of Byuhar, a popular rapper in Myanmar, has caused widespread alarm among his loved ones and fellow artists.

The 38-year-old rapper, whose legal name is Min Oak Myanmar, had strongly criticized the Myanmar junta, calling them “incompetent fools,” on social media because of the worsening power outage situation in Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon. He was arrested at his residence in North Dagon, a suburb of Yangon, on May 24.

In the video posted on Facebook, Byuhar praised the ousted civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi for providing “24 hours of electricity, not only that, but the electricity bill was also going down during her five years in office.” After criticizing the junta ministers in the video, the rapper stated his home address, challenging the authorities to arrest him if they disapproved of the post. Two days later, they did just that.

After Byuhar’s arrest, his family and friends were unable to reach him for five days. According to his wife, she went to the police station to find out where he was being held but received no response from the police.

In an interview with VOA by phone Monday, Byuhar’s wife said that her husband cannot hire a lawyer because the ruling junta has declared the area where they live to be in a “state of emergency.” According to the junta’s state of emergency rules, trials in those areas must be conducted in a military court without the need for a civilian court trial.

Police finally let Byuhar’s family visit him five days later, on Monday. “I took our two children to see him at the North Dagon police station, where he was detained,” his wife told VOA. “I was told he will be kept there until June 9th.” She doesn’t know what will become of him after that, but she fears for the worst. “We were so worried about him after false reports on social media that he had died during interrogation. We are very concerned for his safety.”

Section 505(a)

The rapper’s detention is the latest in a string of arrests of artists who have spoken out against the regime. One such artist, Phyo Zaya Thaw, was executed by the military last year for his involvement in the anti-coup movement. The arrests of influential artists are widely viewed as an attempt by the junta to silence its critics.

Byuhar is the son of renowned composer Naing Myanmar, who penned the popular song The World Is Unforgiving during Myanmar’s 1988 uprising, a series of nationwide protests, marches, and riots in Burma (now Myanmar) that culminated in August 1988.

Monday, Myanmar’s state-owned newspaper, Myanmar Ahalin, reported on Byuhar’s arrest. The report stated that “the anti-terrorism law and the electronic communication law can be used to prosecute those who distribute through social networks incitement to destroy government apparatus, propaganda, or threats.” The report goes on to state that Byuhar can be charged under section 505(a), which criminalizes comments that “cause fear, spread false news, or agitate a criminal offense against a government employee.”

Following the 2021 military coup in Myanmar, the military junta amended section 505(a) to criminalize “fake news” and “incitement” against the military.

According to experts, the amendment to the Anti-Terrorism Law issued March 1 permits authorities to eavesdrop on suspects, seize their assets, and take other measures to suppress the opposition.

Byuhar’s wife told VOA that her husband doesn’t know which charges he could be facing. “When I saw him, he was still strong mentally,” she said, “but he has stomach pain and needs medication.” When asked about signs of torture or physical abuse, she declined to comment.

According to a news release issued by Burma Campaign UK on May 30, “more than 22,000 people have been detained [since the beginning of the coup], and political prisoners have been subjected to torture and sexual violence after their arrest. For the first time in decades, executions are occurring again. There is no freedom of speech, media outlets are banned or extensively censored, and internet access is restricted or blocked entirely.”

Lin Htet, a Myanmar musician and composer, told VOA that he and his fellow artists are concerned about being detained and beaten for criticizing the junta over things like the lack of regular electrical service. Lin Htet himself opposed the military revolution in February 2021 and actively participated in anti-coup movements. He escaped overseas and is currently residing in the United States.

“I am concerned for Byuhar’s life and health, especially because the junta is arresting and torturing individuals.” Lin Htet told VOA. “Byuhar expressed what the people were actually experiencing. In addition to not receiving consistent electricity, people are suffering due to the current predicament. Byuhar is incredibly courageous for articulating how people suffer under the junta.”

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The director of the leading U.S. cybersecurity agency has a message for scientists and top technology company officials who are warning that artificial intelligence could lead to the end of humankind: Take action.

“If you actually think that these capabilities can lead to extinction of humanity, well, let’s come together and do something about it,” the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s Jen Easterly told an audience Wednesday.

“While we’re trying to put a regulatory framework in place, think about self-regulation,” she told an Axios News Shapers event in Washington. “Think about what you can do to slow this down.”

The comments by the CISA director come just a day after more than 350 researchers and technology executives issued a one-sentence warning about the dangers of artificial intelligence, or AI.

“Mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war,” they said in a post on the website for the Center for AI Safety.


Those signing onto the warning included the co-founder and CEO of OpenAI, the company behind Chat GPT, Microsoft’s chief technology officer, the CEO of Google’s AI research lab and Geoffrey Hinton, sometimes called “the godfather of artificial intelligence.”

Hinton, notably, quit his job at Google earlier in May to focus on warning others of the dangers of AI.

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U.S. government officials, like CISA’s Easterly, have likewise been warning about the dangers posed by AI.

“AI will be the most powerful capability of our time,” Easterly told students at Vanderbilt University during a speech earlier this month.

“I believe it will also be the most powerful weapon of our time,” she added. “While one person will use this technology to plan a dinner party, another will use the capability to plan a cyberattack or a terrorist attack.”

Easterly has previously called for “smart regulation” of AI technology and products, warning that tech companies, as with other technologies, are too focused on getting AI products to market quickly and not paying enough attention to safety.

Earlier in May she said that CISA has held discussions with tech companies about a way forward for AI.

In April, CISA’s parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security, launched its own initiative to take on the dangers posed by artificial intelligence.

“We must address the many ways in which artificial intelligence will drastically alter the threat landscape and augment the arsenal of tools we possess to succeed in the face of these threats,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said at the time.


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Disgraced Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes is in custody at a Texas prison where she could spend the next 11 years for overseeing a blood-testing hoax that became a parable about greed and hubris in Silicon Valley, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Holmes, 39, on Tuesday entered a federal women’s prison camp located in Bryan, Texas — where the federal judge who sentenced Holmes in November recommended she be incarcerated. The minimum-security facility is about 152 kilometers (about 94 miles) northwest of Houston, where Holmes grew up aspiring to become a technology visionary along the lines of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

As she begins her sentence, Holmes is leaving behind two young children — a son born in July 2021 a few weeks before the start of her trial and a 3-month old daughter who was conceived after a jury convicted her on four felony counts of fraud and conspiracy in January 2022.

Holmes has been free on bail since then, most recently living in the San Diego, California, area with the children’s father, William “Billy” Evans. The couple met in 2017 around the same time Holmes was under investigation for the collapse of Theranos, a startup she founded after dropping out of Stanford University when she was just 19.

Build up to startup

While she was building up Theranos, Holmes grew closer to Ramesh, “Sunny” Balwani, who would become her romantic partner as well as an investor and fellow executive in the Palo Alto, California, company.

Together, Holmes and Balwani promised Theranos would revolutionize health care with a technology that could quickly scan for diseases and other problems with a few drops of blood taken with a finger prick.

The hype surrounding that purported breakthrough helped Theranos raise nearly $1 billion from enthralled investors, assemble an influential board of directors that include former Presidential cabinet members George Shultz, Henry Kissinger and James Mattis and turned Holmes into a Silicon Valley sensation with a fortune valued at $4.5 billion on paper in 2014.

But it all blew up after serious dangerous flaws in Theranos’ technology were exposed in a series of explosive articles in The Wall Street Journal that Holmes and Balwani tried to thwart. Holmes and Balwani, who had been secretly living together while running Theranos, broke up after the revelations in the Journal and the company collapsed. In 2018, the U.S. Justice Department charged both with a litany of white-collar crimes in a case aimed at putting a stop to the Silicon Valley practice of overselling the capabilities of a still-developing technology — a technique that became known as “fake it ’til you make it.”

Holmes admitted making mistakes at Theranos, but steadfastly denied committing crimes during seven often-fascinating days of testimony on the witness stand during her trial. At one point, she told the jury about being sexually and emotionally abused by Balwani while he controlled her in ways that she said clouded her thinking. Balwani’s attorney steadfastly denied Holmes allegations, which was one of the key reasons they were tried separately.

Balwani, 57, was convicted on 12 felony counts of fraud and conspiracy in a trial that began two months after Holmes’ ended. He is serving a nearly 13-year sentence in a Southern California prison.

Maintaining she was treated unfairly during the trial, Holmes sought to remain free while she appeals her conviction. But that bid was rejected by U.S. District Judge Edward Davila, who presided over her trial, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, leaving her no other avenue left to follow but the one that will take her to prison nearly 20 years after she founded Theranos.

Attorneys representing Holmes did not immediately respond when contacted by The Associated Press for statement on Tuesday.

650 women on 37 acres

Federal Prison Camp Bryan, a minimum-security prison camp encompasses about 37 acres of land and houses about 650 women — including “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” star Jennifer Shah, who was sentenced earlier this year to 6 1/2 years in prison for defrauding thousands of people in a yearslong telemarketing scam.

Most federal prison camps don’t even have fences and house those the Bureau of Prisons considers to be the lowest security risk. The prison camps also often have minimal staffing and many of the incarcerated people work at prison jobs.

According to a 2016 FPC Bryan inmate handbook, those in the Texas facility who are eligible to work can earn between 12 cents and $1.15 per hour in their job assignments, which include food service roles and factory employment operated by Federal Prison Industries.

Federal prison camps were originally designed with low security to make operations easier and allow inmates tasked with performing work at the prison, such as landscaping and maintenance, to avoid repeatedly checking in and out of a main prison facility. But the lax security opened a gateway for contraband, such as drugs, cellphones and weapons. The limited security also led to a number of escapes from prison camps.

In November, a man incarcerated at another federal prison camp in Arizona pulled out a smuggled gun in a visitation area and tried to shoot his wife in the head. The gun jammed and no one was injured. But the incident exposed major security flaws at the facility and the agency’s director ordered a review of security at all federal prison camps around the U.S.

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Із 2 травня до 5 червня діє заборона від Єврокомісії на постачання пшениці, кукурудзи, ріпаку та насіння соняшнику з України до пʼяти країн – Болгарії, Угорщини, Польщі, Румунії та Словаччини

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Female artists examine their lives and cultures in an exhibition featuring art from the Middle East and other areas, now on display in Los Angeles. The exhibition, called “Women Defining Women,” explores the roles of women in traditional societies and modern life. Mike O’Sullivan takes a look.

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Vinicius Junior is an idol to millions for his sublime goalscoring skills for Real Madrid but off the football pitch he has prompted a stark national debate over racism in Spain.

The 22-year-old Brazilian player was reduced to tears after, once again, being the target of ugly abuse during a game between his team and Valencia last week.

“I am sorry for those Spaniards who disagree but today, in Brazil, Spain is known as a country of racists,” he said after the match, implying the latest insults were proof of how racism permeates not just La Liga but Spanish society.

His words were echoed by Brazil’s president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who called on FIFA, football’s governing body, and La Liga to take serious measures.

“We cannot allow fascism and racism to seize control of football stadiums,” he added.

Within Spain, politicians were swift to condemn the racist insults directed at Vinicius Jr and promised action.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said that “hatred and xenophobia should have no place in football nor in our society.”

Three people were arrested for alleged hate crimes against Vinicius Jr and another four were detained for hanging a black blow-up effigy of the player from a bridge. Valencia will have part of its stadium closed for five games.

Debate over xenophobia

But beyond the political bubble, what is the reality for racial minorities in Spain?

Spain is a country which has a relatively small population of Black people, compared to Britain or France.

Moroccans form the largest group of non-Spaniards, with 833,343 people according to government figures from 2022, followed by Romanians with 627,478.

A survey published last year by the Centro Reina Sofia research center found 25% of Spaniards aged 15-29 hold clearly racist or xenophobic views, with most of their hatred directed to Roma, Black people, and people of Moroccan origin.

Spanish police investigated 639 racist or xenophobic incidents in 2021, a 24% rise compared to 2019.

Ousman Umar’s life is a world away from that of a superstar footballer.

Dumped in the Sahara by traffickers, the then 13-year-old son of a traditional healer believed that he was going to die like other migrants.

Umar survived not just the desert but every other step of a five-year odyssey from Ghana to Spain.

Sixteen years later, he is a successful businessman in Barcelona with a master’s degree from one of the world’s top business schools. He has made it his mission to persuade Africans to stay at home rather than follow his footsteps through the NGO Nasco Feeding Minds.

“I don’t think Spain is a racist country. You have to remember that Britain and France have much larger populations of Black people. Spain is the entrance to the European continent, but they go to France or Germany,” Umar told VOA.

“I don’t share Vinicius’ opinions at all but unfortunately in sport you do get cases like this and there should be rigorous ways to stop this.”

However, Umar, who lived rough on the streets for two years when he arrived in Barcelona, said he had been the victim of racism.

“(Recently) I went to give a lecture to young businessmen at a leading business school, but I could see this woman guarding her bag. It’s a very racist way of acting. I could give you hundreds of cases like this.”

Ignacio Garriga, whose mother emigrated from Equatorial Guinea to Spain in 1960, is a lawmaker for the far-right Vox party, the third largest party in Spain’s parliament. He is one of a handful of lawmakers from racial minorities.

“I don’t think Spain is a racist country. There are cases of racism like the anti-Spanish racism which I suffer in parliament from separatist supremacists,” he told VOA.

“They say ‘a Black person cannot have the views that I have, that a Black person cannot say that illegal immigrant should be expelled, that a Black person should be left-wing.”

Mikel Mazkiaran, of NGO SOS Racismo, said many migrants suffer ‘institutional racism’.

“It is good that a debate of this kind happens, but most migrants suffer problems accessing residence permits, accessing home rental and their treatment which they receive in detention centers,” he told VOA.

Spain created a specific law against violence, racism, xenophobia and intolerance in sports in 2007, Associated Press reported, which said a state commission has monitored cases which might break the law.

However, the law stipulates that not all cases of racism can be punished criminally, only those in which there is an extra element affecting the victim. In practice, this means perpetrators, like the fans at Valencia, escape with fines or bans from stadiums.

Some information in this report was provided by Associated Press.

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Як ідеться в пресрелізі, Україна виконала «всі кількісні критерії ефективності на кінець квітня та структурні маяки на кінець травня»

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