URUGUAIANA - Deportations, detention centers, ï¿½coyotesï¿½ helping to stow away immigrants in car trunks and boats to try to cross borders undetected. Although it may sound like a scene along the border between the United States and Mexico, this is instead the deep south of Brazil.
Uruguaiana, a town in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul (RS), is located right next to Uruguay and just across the river from Argentina. And it has now become a main crossing point for illegal immigrants hoping to enter Brazil.
In recent months, Brazilian Federal Police have arrested a growing number of people accused of providing accommodation and buying transportation tickets for undocumented foreigners looking to find a new home in Brazil.
Senegalese, Nigerians, Chinese and Haitians have been found this year in Uruguaiana without ï¿½minimum conditions to survive,ï¿½ authorities report. The town has about 125,000 inhabitants and is close to the main road access between Brazil and Argentina. Police suspects that immigrants come from Buenos Aires and sneak through Uruguaiana, with the aim of heading to big Brazilian urban centers like Sï¿½o Paulo, where employment opportunities tend to far outstrip the rest of Latin America.
According to the police, the same route is also used by foreigners bringing in imported black-market goods to be sold in Brazil without paying taxesï¿½they are called "sacoleiros", a reference to the big bags (sacolas) that are used to transport the large amount of products. Other foreigners arrive in the area with the intention of joining criminal organizations in Brazil, the police say.
Boats and taxis
Crossing into Brazil in small boats is more common in areas with a lighter police presence. Taxi drivers also help foreigners by hiding them in their cars for an extra fee. In June, a Brazilian and an Argentinean were arrested crossing the river by boat with an undocumented African man. They charged fees beginning at $100 for the service.
Perhaps the most mysterious case occurred two weeks ago. Two Chinese men were arrested for guiding 12 other people from China into Brazil. Most of them were young, none had any official identity documents. Their destiny and motivation are still unknown. One of the leaders had a fixed residence in Sï¿½o Paulo, according to the police. The other one had ten fake driver licenses. All 12 Chinese claimed to be tourists.
During the same week, four others suspected of being ï¿½coyotesï¿½ (human traffickers) were arrestedï¿½three Brazilians and one Argentinean.
In Brazil, those convicted of involvement in illegal immigration face up to three years in prison.
Read the original article in Portuguese
Photo - ana_ge
Revelations of a nationally funded clandestine operation within 10 municipalities in the Netherlands to keep tabs on mosques and Muslim organizations after a rise in radicalization eight years ago.
At least ten Dutch towns and cities have secretly used a private agency to probe mosques and other local religious organizations, Amsterdam-based daily het NRC reports in an exclusive investigation.
The clandestine operation — funded by NCTV, the National Security Services, the Netherlands' leading counter-terrorism agency — was prompted by the social unrest and uncertainty following multiple terror attacks in 2013, and a rise in Islamic radicalization.
The NCTV, which advises and financially supports municipalities in countering radicalization, put the municipalities in touch with Nuance by Training and Advice (Nuance door Trainingen en Advies, NTA), a private research agency based in Deventer, Netherlands. Among the institutions targeted by the investigations, which came at a cost of circa 500,000 euros, were the Al Mouahidin mosque in the central Dutch town of Ede, and the Nasser mosque east of the city of Utrecht, according to NRC.
Praying inside a Dutch mosque.
Broken trust in Islamic community
Unlike public officials, the private agency can enter the mosques to clandestinely research the situation. In this case, the agents observed activity, talk to visitors, administrators, and religious leaders, and investigated what they do and say on social media.
All findings then wound up in a secret report which includes personal details about what the administrators and teachers studied, who their relatives are, with whom they argued, and how often they had contact with authorities in foreign countries, like Morocco.
Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed.
It is unclear whether the practice is legal, which is why several members of the Dutch Parliament are now demanding clarification from the outgoing Minister of Justice and Security, Ferd Grapperhaus, who is said to be involved.
"The ease with which the government violates (fundamental) rights when it comes to Islam or Muslims is shocking," Stephan van Baarle, member of the leftist party DENK, told De Volkskrant, another Dutch newspaper.
Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed. Hassan Saidi, director of one of the mosques investigated, said that the relationship with the local municipality had been good. "This puts a huge dent in the trust I'd had in the municipality," he told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS.
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