The far right takes root in Europe

The bloodthirsty attacks perpetrated by Anders Behring Breivik in Norway on July 22 last year (leaving 77 dead) provided a brutal awakening for all those in Europe who had been passively observing the rise of the Islamophobic far right. As the trial opens, around thirty political parties that openly call for a "pure European identity" are effectively in the process of consolidating their parliamentary positions (occasionally even signing agreements with mainstream right wing parties, as is the case in the Netherlands), and are claiming an ever greater media presence. These parties, following the example of the Nordic Forum, are adept at using new technology and social networks, which gives them an even greater platform to spread their messages of hate and bolster their national and international alliances.

Those responsible for this noxious propaganda always hide behind the principle of freedom of expression, and, when they are criticised for the speeches they deliver encouraging the Breiviks of the future, they assert that the carnage perpetrated by this “lone wolf" has nothing to do with the climate that they have helped to create. Indeed, they present themselves as victims that are being suppressed. They make out that Europe will ultimately lose its "Christian identity". These demagogues are active both inside and outside the electoral system: just as they have an elected presence in the parliaments, on the other hand they endlessly criticise democracies, accusing them of being far too liberal on the issue of immigration.

The European far right is seduced by the fantasy of a "pure" Europe as opposed to a real Europe, which is in fact successfully diversified. Like Anders Behring Breivik, thousands of individuals that haunt websites and blogs (Gates of Vienna, Brussels Journal), organisations such as the English Defence League, Platform per Catalunya, or Militia Christi, as well as religious leaders are all actively preparing fertile ground for the growth of extremism. A study at the University of Nottingham undertaken for Chatham House by Matthew Goodwin demonstrates that extremist parties are primarily characterised by their visceral opposition to immigration (particularly Muslim immigration), to ethnic diversity, and finally to multiculturalism, alongside social behaviours that they consider to be a great danger to Europe. Further, they think that mainstream political parties are far too "soft" in their responses to the issues surrounding immigration. Another study, by Elisabeth Ivarsflaten, shows that populist parties have always had their greatest electoral successes after integrating a strong anti-immigration strand into their speeches and manifestos.

These "new" populists carefully avoid the usual racist and anti-Semitic discourse, and prefer to position their stance more subtly, around questions of culture and identity..
http://www.opendemocracy.net/mariano-aguirre/far-right-takes-root-in-europe

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