Anti-Islam rant sees far-right fly high across Europe

Anti-Islam rant sees far-right fly high across Europe

4th October 2010, Comments 12 comments

In the wake of the financial crisis, some European governments are playing up far-right policies to serve national political interests.

Brussels – An internet game targeting minarets and mosques, women in burqas in hot pursuit of an elderly white pensioner; across Europe far-right parties are flying high thanks to anti-immigrant, anti-Islam rants.

The burqa-versus-pensioner TV ad devised by the far-right Sweden Democrats, who scored a maiden entry into parliament this weekend, was modified in the end by law-enforcers and Austria's website shootout at Islam was shut down by the authorities.

Yet Sweden and Austria are on a growing list of nations where far-right politicians are notching up impressive gains thanks to spin-off from 9/11, as well as fallout from the global economic crisis.

"Politics is becoming nationalistic and nativist in many parts of Europe," said cult economist Nouriel Roubini, "reflected in an anti-immigrant backlash, raids against the Roma, Islamophobia and the rise of extreme right-wing parties."

Far-right parties are currently in government in Italy and sit in the parliaments of Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Hungary, Latvia, Slovakia, Sweden and The Netherlands.

In France, where the far-right regularly grabs 10 percent of the vote, a ban on wearing a burqa in public was passed last week – a move submitted to Italy's parliament a couple of days later.

In liberal Netherlands, where the anti-Islam Freedom Party came in third in June elections, leader Geert Wilders hopes to secure a place in a minority government though he stands trial next month for inciting hatred of Muslims.

AFP PHOTO / HANNIBAL HANSCHKE
Germany, Berlin : Dutch right-wing party PVV Geert Wilders (L) arrives to speak at a hotel with former CDU representative Rene Stadtkewitz in Berlin on 2 October 2010

Pollsters currently reckon the group to be potentially the nation's biggest -- able to snatch over 30 of 150 parliament seats if elections were held today.

"After 9/11, and especially after the economic crisis, there's been a change of attitude in industrialised countries," Melita Sungic, of the UN refugee agency, told AFP.

"Human rights are perceived as a security question, not that people need EU protection, but EU people need to be protected from them."

But the paradox lies in the numbers.

In some of the most virulent anti-immigrant states, the proportion of foreigners is tiny. In Finland, where the far-right True Finns swelled from one percent a decade ago to 10.7 percent earlier this year, only 2.7 percent are foreigners. In Sweden, on the other hand, 14.3 percent of the population was born abroad.

And despite the groundswell of foreigner-phobia, the actual numbers of illegal migrants slipping into border-free Europe is on the decline.

The EU agency that manages the 27-nation bloc's external borders, Frontex, said irregular migration fell 36 percent in the first three months of 2010 compared with the last quarter of 2009, and 39 percent compared with the same period a year earlier.

Boatloads of migrants from Africa and Asia – images that move some and upset others – likewise, are no longer getting through in mass. Some 3,300 people landed illegally on European shores the first three months this year, compared to 33,000 in the first quarter of 2008, Frontex said.

"Politicians are using numbers to give a distorted vision of reality," said Sergio Carrera of the Centre for European Policy Studies think tank. "They say Europe is being invaded, but if you look at statistics, that's just not so."

"No one is giving a clear picture of what's really happening," he added.

And French President Nicolas Sarkozy's controversial crackdown on Roma Gypsies, he added, concerned a few thousand people in a country of 63 million.

AFP PHOTO / BORIS HORVAT
France, Paris : French MPs attend debate about a controversial immigration bill which would expand the state's power to strip foreign-born citizens of their nationality if they commit major crimes

"What's the problem when a welfare system such as France's cannot provide an answer for people living in poor settlements?" Carrera said.

"Because of the crisis and dearth of jobs," said researcher Shada Islam at the European Policy Centre, "politicians are playing on emotions to win votes, looking for scapegoats."

Analysts say that in the wake of the crisis, some European governments are playing up far-right policies to serve national political interests.

"It's the European version of the Tea Party movement, a very reactionary response to the crisis," said Fabrice Pothier, director of the Carnegie Europe think tank, referring to a US ultra-conservative faction.

The expectation was that the crisis would see the public demand more social welfare policies, triggering a left-wing comeback, he said. "Instead public opinion is concentrating on domestic issues, creating an environment for right-wing parties."

In Spain and Belgium, frustration and discontent were expressed through separatist movements, in Britain through the explosive language of the tabloids, he opined.

But the connection between local domestic issues and foreign policy is becoming a real problem for Europe, Pothier said.

"Europe is trying to redefine its role in the world ... but is lost in its own divisions and contradictions."

"We lecture people overseas, we talk of democratic values, human rights, but we have policies that undermine these values. We have to look at ourselves before we start lecturing the world."

Claire Rosemberg / AFP / Expatica

12 Comments To This Article

  • Defender posted:

    on 5th January 2011, 16:17:31 - Reply

    Try being open minded as they stone you once the mussies rule Europe in 2050. I'd support tough measures against a strong Islam in the heart of Europe any day of the week. Should be easy. Wasn't so long ago you guys took care of another group of upstarts.
  • KC posted:

    on 8th November 2010, 21:05:39 - Reply

    This wave of discrimination against the "others" is getting scary, isn't it? Ethnocentrism breeds hate. Try to remember that most of us (no matter our religion, politics, or cultural background) are good people trying to make sense of a chaotic life. Let's not be fearful of what we don't understand. Rather, ask questions and be open-minded. Think about the benefits of peace and tolerance. All sides could do a better job at this... Just my two cents. Thanks :)
  • Orange posted:

    on 8th October 2010, 00:18:49 - Reply

    "Most Muslims are not extremists, they're peaceful citizens who naturally sympathise with the downtrodden Palestinian, Iraqi and Afghani citizens."

    Muslims sympathize with the 'prophet' Muhammad, who ordered them to spread Islam by the sword (Koran 9:29), who said that apostates and homosexuals should be killed, who married a 6-year old girl, who slaughtered 700 Jews of the Quraiza tribe and sold their women and children into slavery. Muslims view Muhammad as the best man who ever lived. They are to emulate his example ('sunna'). Is it any wonder that Muslims are so violent, as their great example was so violent?

    Downtrodden Palestinian, Iraqi and Afghan citizens? Don't make me laugh. We never heard these Muslims about Iraqi and Afghan citizens when Saddam Hussein and the Taliban were murdering them by the thousands. It is the irrational hatred Muslims have for the West that is responsible for this attitudes, not any downtroddenness.
  • JR Bailey posted:

    on 6th October 2010, 22:58:45 - Reply

    Sadly, the author is as ignorant about Islam as she is about American politics and the Tea Party.

    First, "Muslim" is NOT a 'race'. There are white Muslims, brown Muslims, black Muslims, Chinese Muslims, Russian Muslims, Brit Muslims, German Muslims, and they can be all sorts of skin colors.

    "Muslims" are followers of the religious-political paradigm called Islam.

    It is literally NOT possible to be 'racist' against a Muslim, as again, 'Muslim" is not race.

    Does everyone now understand this clear dichotomy?

    Secondly, the Tea Party is NOT 'ultra-conservative': only a moron would believe such drivel. Tea Partiers are Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Libertarians, and are generally moderates to conservatives, but there are quite a few classic US liberals involved as well.

    The Tea Party campaigns for fiscal responsibility in government

    1 don't spend more than is taken into the treasury.
    2. everyone must abide by the same rules of law, whether in the private sector or public sector; no more having one set of rules for some groups and politicians and another set of rules for others.
    3. border security issues are linked to both numbers 1 and 2: TP wants to secure the borders and stop Organized Crime from forcing young women into slavery and prostitution, curb drugs which destroy families, and make Public Land safe for everyone to visit.

    These are the main themes the Tea Party is fighting for, for all Americans.

    Lastly, allow me to point out that Muslims are the ones acting in a bigoted manner: they demand a Double Standard in that they can act any way they want and claim they are 'defending Islam' while requiring non-Muslims to bend over backwards and outright ignore violations of the law when it comes to Islamic practices.

    Muslims do not respect Western cultures, laws, traditions, or the freedoms which are found therein, but they USE those same freedoms to undermine the rights of non-Muslims while further the Islamization of Europe, America, Canada, and Australia.

    Either we all play by the same rules or we don't. And if we don't then the MAJORITY POPULATION'S rights win.

    Remember, 'Muslim' is NOT a race.

    Cheers and somebody chow down on a Butterkek in Arnehm for me will you: I truly miss them and Arnhem (as well as Haarlem for that matter.).
  • Ron posted:

    on 6th October 2010, 15:21:40 - Reply

    Wilders is a brave politician who tells the truth about Islam. It is a dangerous, subversive " religion" that cannot be tolerated In Holland or any other civilized nation. If allowed to take root, it will destroy us.
  • RavSingh posted:

    on 6th October 2010, 14:12:17 - Reply

    The original article strikes me as ill informed and very biased. The trial of Wilders has already started (not next month) and only serves to increase his popularity. Fortunately a few on the left are starting to realise that the largest and most potent ultra-right forces in Europe are Salafists and Islamists.
  • MBM posted:

    on 6th October 2010, 14:02:11 - Reply

    There are people that are bigots and there are people that are ignorant and that are people that just don't understand. Similar to pre 2nd war these people hate and use to their advantage politicians alike. Why don't those in government and we the people speak up who do not in this believe in this garbage. This is not only not democratic, it is inhumane, and against the human rights we all should believe in.
  • stuart577 posted:

    on 6th October 2010, 13:55:21 - Reply

    What is the real problem, the dress code of some Muslim, or people from Surinam or parts of Africa and look at the Hasidic Jew and what some of them wear. Why is the Dutch culture so afraid, All of you want to look all the same in our dress our is it the color of our skin maybe its the accent?
  • Steve posted:

    on 6th October 2010, 12:33:02 - Reply

    It's a pity this sort of argument becomes polarized into Muslim versus Westerners, so harmless women in burqas become a target, when the main problem in Holland is anti-social behaviour of Arab youth, especially Moroccan. Practical steps to address this issue could be to reduce immigration from non-western countries - so the problem doesn't increase - and to target the delinquent individuals for reprogramming.
    Most Muslims are not extremists, they're peaceful citizens who naturally sympathise with the downtrodden Palestinian, Iraqi and Afghani citizens.
  • kr_5714 posted:

    on 6th October 2010, 11:54:15 - Reply

    I agree with exbrit1. If Muslims were not extremists, I'm sure there would be hundreds of people protesting against their practices.
    I agree with Wilders, and I think he's brave to stand up to what he believes and try to protect dutch culture from islamisation.
  • exbrit1 posted:

    on 6th October 2010, 11:33:25 - Reply

    I think the problem is not with the muslims as a race, but the fact that when the Muslims enter and expand in Europe they do not integrate, and instead they build mosques and dress in Klu Klux Klan type clothes. It is almost as though they are deliberately trying to provoke an anti Muslim reaction. If that is their intention, they are certainly succeeding! Why cant they be pleased that Europe welcomes them and then behave like average Europeans. These bad manners of Muslims moving into Europe thankfully does not involve all Muslims, but unfortunately too many.
  • stuart577 posted:

    on 6th October 2010, 11:27:44 - Reply

    There are people that are bigots and there are people that are ignorant and that are people that just don't understand.
    Similar to pre 2nd war these people hate and use to their advantage politicians alike.
    Why don't those in government and we the people speak up who do not in this believe in this garbage. This is not only not democratic, it is inhumane, and against the human rights we all should believe in.