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The Rise and Rise of Extremism in Europe

09/10/2010

Tough economic times are almost always followed by a rise of extremist political parties – the Great Depression of the 1930s provided fodder to fascist movements that were springing up all over Europe. Today in Western Europe we are seeing history repeat itself but this time Muslim not Jews are the focus of mistrust and all too often are perceived to be the ‘enemy within.’  

From Sweden, Switzerland, France and Holland, far right parties campaigning with anti- Muslim propaganda are making stunning progress into power. Most of these parties would have sunk into obscurity had it not been for high unemployment and growing public anger but canny rightwing politicians exploit volatile emotions and feed Muslims to the hungry mob like Roman emperors at gladitorial battles, with cheap fear mongering rhetoric to boot.

In the Swedish elections last month the Swedish Democratic Party aired an advert showing a white pensioner being overtaken by Muslim women in burqas as they rushed toward a line for welfare payments. If the ad portrayed any other minority group in such outrageous fashion there would be an outcry, but in today’s Europe it seems as if Muslims are the last group of which it’s okay to demonise, as the results by the SDP showed.  

Earlier this year the French government banned the wearing of the veil in public on the pretext that’s it is a barrier to integration. Many would argue that implicit racism in french society equates being French with being white- that’s the real barrier to integration not a piece of fabric worn by a fraction of Muslim women in the country.

In this bout of madness even neutral Switzerland is indulging in Muslim bashing. 
Summer 2009 they banned building of minarets on new mosques in a referendum called for by the Swiss People’s Party.

The Party’s feeble argument was that minarets are ‘a symbol of Islamic power’- never mind the fact that there are only four mosques in Switzerland with minarets. Posters in favour of the ban blatantly played on people fears: some showed a sinister, black-veiled figure in front of black minarets arrayed to look like missiles rising out of a Swiss flag. 

The growing threat and discrimination against Muslims in Europe is very real but instead of pretending far right groups do not exist the mainstream media needs to engage with them in order to expose them for what they really are.

Last year many people were shocked and offended when the BBC invited Nick Griffin, the leader of the British National Party, to the political program Question Time. Griffin boasted that the show ‘would propel the BNP into the big time’ but when the cameras rolled he exposed himself for what he really was – a political light weight and racist bigot. His appeal took a dive.  Herein lies a lesson on how to deal with Europe’s mad men and women.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. 25/10/2010 5:44 pm

    Thank you

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