An attempt by far-right groups to launch an ‘anti-Islamic alliance for Europe’ seems to have flopped, with a rally in Denmark attracting only 200 people. Organizers had predicted 700.
The well-publicized event saw attendees from seven countries outnumbered by both media and counter-protesters several times over.
The rally was organized by the English Defence League (EDL), a far-right street protest movement formed in 2009, who told The Guardian that it “signalled the beginning of a Europe-wide movement against the ‘Islamification of Europe.’”
The rally was held a few weeks before the trial of Anders Breivik, the Norwegian mass murderer who supported the EDL, begins. A lawyer for Breivik said Tuesday that he will call both a Muslim cleric and an anti-Islamic blogger to the stand to refute claims that his client is insane. Breivik denies criminal guilt, saying the attacks last July were part of an anti-Muslim revolution.
Stephen Lennon, head of the EDL, denounced Breiviks violent actions but said “at the same time you cannot brush off millions of people who have concerns against Islam as lunatics.”
Unite Against Fascism’s (UAF) secretary Weyman Bennett said that the Euro-leagues would be a new danger for the continent, as people could still remember that the Norwegian Defense League created Breivik.
“The growth of a Euro-league in a time of economic crisis threatens to resurrect fascist street armies such as those that destroyed European democracies in the 1930s.
“The development of this network allows fascists and right-wing populists to share ideas, finance and experience in a way that should worry us all,” Bennett said.
The EDL is also reported to be developing links with right-wing elements within America.
An audit published last month into attitudes and beliefs of British right-wing extremists found ‘significant support’ for planned violent attacks.
Parties touting anti-immigrant and Islamophobic ideas have spread beyond established strongholds in France, Italy and Austria to the traditionally liberal Netherlands and Scandinavia, and now have significant parliamentary blocs in eight European countries.
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