Tagged: Netherlands

ICSR Insight: The New Far Right – 10 Issues and Questions

NEWRIGHT.php

This ICSR Insight highlights 10 major themes, issues and questions that have emerged from the conference. As will be shown, the New Far Right is a new and unique challenge for Western democracies which policymakers and experts have yet to fully understand. Their success in doing so is key to making sure that modern multicultural societies remain peaceful and cohesive.

By Peter R. Neumann, ICSR Director

@ICSRblog
@PeterRNeumann

The original link: http://icsr.info/2013/04/icsr-insight-the-new-far-right-10-issues-and-questions/

Last month, ICSR – in partnership with the Community Security Trust and the Swedish National Defence College – hosted an important conference on the New Far Right, bringing together nearly 100 stakeholders from academia, politics, the media, and grassroots initiatives.

This ICSR Insight highlights 10 major themes, issues and questions that have emerged from the conference. As will be shown, the New Far Right is a new and unique challenge for Western democracies which policymakers and experts have yet to fully understand. Their success in doing so is key to making sure that modern multicultural societies remain peaceful and cohesive.

1) “The threat is real”. As the UK’s Security Minister, James Brokenshire, noted, the threat from far-right terrorism is significant, albeit “not as systematic or widespread as the al Qaeda inspired [terrorist] threat”. In UK prisons, there are currently 17 individuals who have been charged with or convicted for terrorist offences “associated with far-fight extremism”.

2) Conspiracy theory. The New Far Right is inspired – in part – by a conspiracy theory according to which Western Muslims, allied with liberal governments, plan to destroy Western democracies and replace them with a Caliphate . This movement calls itself ”Counter-Jihad”.

3) Public disorder and social cohesion. More so than terrorism, New Far Right activists have been involved in street violence and acts of public disorder. Their aggressive rhetoric divides communities and undermines social cohesion. They also campaign against the use of Islamic practices – such as ritually slaughtered halal meat.

4) Old vs. New Far Right. There are striking differences between the “old” (neo-Nazi) Far Right and so-called Counter-Jihad members like Anders Breivik. However, there also exist many similarities, and it would be wrong to ignore the continued threat from “old” far-right groups in countries such as Greece and Germany.

5) Echoes of extremism. In the British context, the New Far Right and Islamist extremists seem to be in a symbiotic relationship, confirming each other’s stereotypes and providing motives and justifications for mobilising their respective sympathisers.

6) Addressing grievances. New Far Right activism is often rooted in social, economic and cultural fears about immigration. Mainstream politicians from across the political spectrum have failed to articulate these concerns in a way that would undercut the support for far-right extremists.

7) Emerging structures. The structures of the New Far Right are increasingly pan-European, with leaders and activists from different countries coming together for joint campaigns, as well as trying to learn from each other’s successes and mistakes.

8) The Internet matters. Social media, blogs and video-sharing sites are key to understanding how the New Far Right disseminates its message, mobilises its followers, and retains a sense of cohesion despite the lack of centrally organised structures.

9) Countering the New Far Right. Government counter-radicalisation programmes – such as the British PREVENT – have mostly focused on Islamist extremism. Policymakers need to understand what lessons have been learned and how those programmes can be applied to the New Far Right.

10) Connecting the dots. For researchers, the principal task is to bring together expert communities dealing with terrorism, far-right extremism and other related threats, so that different bodies of knowledge can be better integrated.

The conference was part of ICSR’s ongoing efforts to make sense of the evolving nature of far-right extremism. For some of our recent publications on this issue, see:

The conference can be watched in full on the ICSR YouTube channel.

You can always try blame-the-immigrants-game

http://blogs.euobserver.com/nilsson/2013/04/03/you-can-always-try-blame-the-immigrants-game/

A clever trick – used often – when a politician is worried about his party´s ranking in the polls or maybe wants direct attention to something else than the sorry state of affairs in the country he is running, is to point finger at immigrants. It usually pays off really well.

Italian electoral candidate Silvio Berlusconi asked his fellow countrymen to vote for him so as to “stop leftwing parties opening the country´s borders wide to immigration”. This was the very same Berlusconi that during his three stints as prime minister of Italy pushed his country to the brink of economic disaster. However, on the strength of his electoral arguments he once again managed to win a strong hold in the Italian Parliament. The actual fact that immigrants are leaving recession-ridden Italy in droves did not come into the matter.

Facts usually don´t count for much when immigrants are the subject of discussion.

The Danish public debate every now and then works itself into a frenzy over some immigrant related matter. Recently it was the fact that 45 young boys – born to Muslim parents – allegedly has been fighting in Syria alongside the rebels. Yes, Denmark supports the Syrian rebels over the regime. Yes, some 25 000 Danish boys have fought abroad since 1992 or as the US central command puts it: “…compared to the size of the Danish population (5.5 million), Denmark is among the leading countries in the world when it comes to participation in international operations.”

But facts don´t count for much when faced with the threat of 45 Muslim boys potentially turning back to Denmark, now trained in how to shoot. Politicians from most political parties swiftly promised that if the boys survive and return to Denmark, they will be under constant surveillance by the Danish intelligence services. Xenophobic Danish Folkeparti that has lost ground in the polls lately tried to outdo them all with a promise to deport the boys straight away.

The Dutch enjoy a good blame-the-immigrants-game as well. To go with any article about immigrants – meaning any suspicious-looking-therefore-possibly-Muslim boy – the Dutch press have found the perfect illustration. Article after article on the subject of immigration is accompanied by a photo showing such boys proving their shameful ways by covering their face.
Only this picture, pulled out of the archives, was actually taken when 150 Moroccan youngsters visited the Dutch concentration camp in Westerbork, covering their faces in shock as they listened to a camp survivor telling of his experience.

British Prime Minister David Cameron tried the same trick recently, desperate to have the country talking about something else than how badly the economy is faring and how little the government seems to be able to do about it. He too, came up with the idea to blame immigrants, hoping no doubt to win some votes off the xenophobic UK independence Party. (Number of British expats in the world: approximately 5 Million.)

The trick worked less well for Mr Cameron. When he announced that he would stand up for his country and put a stop to Eastern European immigrants filling up hospital wards without paying, he was contradicted by none other than his own Health minister. The fact, lost in the heat of the moment, is that NHS claims the money back from other EU governments.

It didn´t work too well for the Conservative party running the Swedish government coalition either. The Swedish public debate generally tend to react badly to politicians pointing fingers at immigrants but lately the Swedish xenophobic party has been climbing in opinion polls whereas the Conservative party seems to be losing out. Maybe blame-immigrants has become a vote-winner in Sweden too?

The youngest Conservative in government, also immigration minister, Tobias Billstrom was sent out to test the xenophobic waters, to see if any voters could be pulled in. “It´s not blond and blue eyed people hiding illegal immigrants in this country”, Mr Billstrom stated. The remark may not count as blatantly racist in some European countries but in Sweden it does. The reaction came swiftly and was harsh, the critics were vociferous and influential.
The Conservative Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt held back a couple of days but in the end had to come out and order the immigration minister to apologize, giving him a stern warning about making remarks of the kind and telling him that “he (Mr Billstrom) must stick to the party line of humane immigration policies if he wants to stay in office”.

Oh, well. It´s usually a really clever trick but it doesn´t always work.
Luckily.

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