Extreme Anti-immigrant Groups Spread Throughout Europe

*All links lead to texts in Spanish unless otherwise noted.

The 1929 stock market crash produced an economic crisis that put millions of people in financial straits. The economic collapse meant large-scale job loss, and consequently, misery for millions of families. The situation became the perfect storm for the rise of fascist movements, which came to power in Germany [en] and Italy, and whose sinister effects we all know well.

Plagued by one of the worst economic crises in recent history, fascist parties are once again on the rise in 21st-century Europe. Flourishing parties are preying on the social discontent felt within the quintessential welfare states as citizens are being striped of rights that took generations to win. As stated in the European Antifascist Manifesto [en]:

Extreme right protesters in Spain. Photo taken from Xavier Casals' <a href="http://xaviercasals.wordpress.com/2013/03/23/puede-surgir-una-derecha-populista-en-espana-el-teorema-de-patrick-moreau/">blog </a>[es].

Extreme right protesters in Spain. Photo taken from Xavier Casals’ blog [es].

By exploiting the fears of the well to do of the risks of a social explosion, the radicalization of middle classes destroyed by the crisis and sweeping austerity measures as well as the despair of marginalized and impoverished unemployed people, extreme right and most of all neo-Nazi and neo-fascist forces are growing everywhere in Europe. They are gaining mass influence in the poorer layers of society turning this influence systematically against traditional and newer scapegoats (immigrants, Muslims, Jews, LGBT, disabled people,…) as well as against left wing organizations and trade unions.

Extreme right political parties have been gradually appearing across Europe in recent years. Belgium's Vlaams Blok, created in the 1970s and previously outlawed, has recently resurfaced as Vlams Belang. France's National Front, founded in 1972, has emerged as the country's most viable third party option in recent presidential elections. In Norway, the Progress Party received more than 22% of the vote in the 2009 elections. Anders Breivik, convicted of the Utoya Island attacks, spent several years climbing the Party's ranks.

In Switzerland, the Swiss People's Party pulled 29% of the votes in the 2007 elections. When the Austrian Freedom Party entered the country's government in 1999, European Union (EU) member states were forced to file sanctions against its neighboring alpine republic. Similar examples can be found in Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Holland, Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria and Greece, all of which have extreme right parties that hold parliamentary representation.

The perfectage of parliamentary representation held by extreme right groups throughout Europe, 2012 (by percentage of votes). Image from Ignacio Martín Granados' <a href="http://martingranados.es/2012/05/03/que-la-simiocracia-no-nos-acabe-quitando-la-democracia/">blog</a>.

The percentage of parliamentary representation held by extreme right groups throughout Europe, 2012 (by percentage of votes). Image from Ignacio Martín Granados’ blog.

In other countries, like Spain, such parties have not succeeded in entering the lower houses of government, but they have made their way into other institutions. In the last municipal elections, the Catalonia Platform Party (PxC) secured 67 spots in varying munincipalities within Catalonia. The following video, posted by alpujarradelasierra on YouTube, is from PxC's recent campaign and unequivacally expresses their political stances:

The aforementioned political parties share similar ideological premises. All are profoundly Eurosceptic, hostile towards immigrants and minorities, and purport doctrines of racism and radical nationalism, to name a few. They also support populist rhetoric, proposing simple solutions- which are only simple in appearance- and are often contrary to human rights.

Arguably the most well known Eurosceptic party is the UK Independence Party, UKIP, who according to the blog Territorio Europa [es]- amongst others- promotes the following:

  • Withdrawal from the EU and regulate the movement of people and workers.
  • Terminate the open border policy and re-establish visa regulated entrances (Europeans to be included).
  • Repeal the country's Human Rights Act adopted in 1998 and withdrawal membership to the European Convention on Human Rights
  • Dismiss the ability of a UK citizen to appeal to a European or International court in defense of one's rights.

The mass influx of immigrants during the economic boom, which has worsened current employment figures, has spurred ultraright parties’ racism and xenophobia largely directed towards the Muslim community. They have used the emergence of radical Islam in Europe- perceived by many Europeans as a threat to western values- to incite hate and win votes. The blog Territoires de la Memoire [fr] summarizes some of Vlaams Belang's stances:

 […] refuser de reconnaître l’islam comme une religion: «[…] L’islam n’est pas une religion comme le catholicisme, le judaïsme ou l’hindouisme, c’est une religion-droit-culture-civilisation, intrinsèquement ‘intégriste’ […] ». L’islam est aussi systématiquement infériorisé: c’est «[…] une religion rétrograde […] », «qui maintien les femmes musulmanes sous un statut de quasi-esclavage », avec des «[…] mentalités aussi primitives que barbares […]», et des adeptes «[…] fanatiques ignorants et barbares […] ».

(…) they refuse to recognize Islam as a religion: «(…) Islam isn't a religion like Catholicism, Judaism, or Hinduism, it is a religion-law-culture-civilization that is intrinsically fundamentalist (…)». Islam is also systematically belittling: it is «a retrograde religion (…)», «that keeps Muslim women at a nearly slave-like status» with «(…) mentalities as primitive as they are barbaric (…)» and followers that are «(…) ignorant and barbarian fanatics (…)».

Minorities are also subject to the affronts of these ultraright groups. The Hungarian party Jobbik that made lists of “dangerous” Jews in the country, the animosity showed to Roma by the National Front [fr] in France and the Attack Party in Bulgaria are prime examples of these groups’ ideologies.

Greece's Golden Dawn party is but another example as its activists have been the culprits in a number of recent attacks on migrants workers and whose spokesperson left little doubt on the group's ideological beliefs after attacking two female politicians in a televised debate which was posted to the RussiaToday YouTube channel:


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