Anti-Immigrant Far-Right Rising Online In Europe

A new generation of far-right, populist movements is growing in Europe, a new report has shown.

The report by the British thinktank Demos (which can be downloaded for free here) for the first time examines attitudes among supporters of the far right online. Using advertisements on Facebook, they persuaded more than 10,000 followers of 14 parties and organizations in 11 countries to fill in detailed questionnaires.

It comes a few months after the mass-murder by Norweigan Anders Breivik of 69 people, the investigation of which showed his extensive connections into this online, Pan-European far-right network — connections which far-right supporters have been keen to disavow.

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 countries. Elsewhere, although parties haven’t gained in elections, street movements have, like the English Defence League (EDL) which has grown despite the failings of the nationalist British National Party (BNP). The ideology of parties differes considerably as well, some of the Scandinavian parties being strongly pro-welfare. What unites them is attitudes to Muslims and to multiculturalism and immigration and this describes the men — and almost all were men — surveyed for this report.

The report points out that sucess at the polls and even street demonstrations are like the tip of the iceberg. Underneath and online,  there is a new generation following these organizations and swapping ideas, particularly through Facebook. For most parties, the numbers online saying they support them are much bigger than their actual registered memberships.

The report used Facebook tools to find that of 450,000 supporters of 14 organizations examined, almost two-thirds were aged under 30, against half of Facebook users overall. Three quarters were male, and more likely than average to be unemployed.

Contrary to what normal polling finds, amongst this group it was the younger ones who were most opposed to immigration, which concerned them far more than the state of the economy.

Matthew Goodwin from Nottingham University, an expert on the far right, told the Guardian:

“As an appeal to voters, it marks a very significant departure from the old, toxic far-right like the BNP. What some parties are trying to do is frame opposition to immigration in a way that is acceptable to large numbers of people. Voters now are turned off by crude, blatant racism – we know that from a series of surveys and polls.”

“[These groups are] saying to voters: it’s not racist to oppose these groups if you’re doing it from the point of view of defending your domestic traditions. This is the reason why people like [Dutch politician] Geert Wilders have not only attracted a lot of support but have generated allies in the mainstream political establishment and the media.”

The poll was conducted before the Eurozone crisis, but that is likely to increase old ‘north-south’ racism within Europe. Says Goodwin:

“What we have seen over the past five years is the emergence of parties in countries which were traditionally seen as immune to the trend – the Sweden Democrats, the True Finns, the resurgence of support for the radical right in the Netherlands, and our own experience with the EDL.”

Gavan Titley, co-author of the recent book “The Crises of Multiculturalism,” tells The Guardian that since 9/11, casual Islamophobia from mainstream politicians has helped the far-right.

“Racist strategies constantly adapt to political conditions, and seek new sets of values, language and arguments to make claims to political legitimacy. Over the past decade, Muslim populations around Europe, whatever their backgrounds, have been represented as the enemy within or at least as legitimately under suspicion. It is this very mainstream political repertoire that newer movements have appropriated.”

“As antisemitism was a unifying factor for far-right parties in the 1910s, 20s and 30s, Islamophobia has become the unifying factor in the early decades of the 21st century,” said Thomas Klau from the European Council on Foreign Relations.

Says Jonathan Birdwell from Demos:

“Populist movements have a history of memorable and charismatic leaders, from fascists like Mussolini to revolutionaries like Che Guevara. These leaders have invoked appeals to ‘the people’ against the ‘system’ and the ‘elite’ to create a cult-like status, inspire a new generation of activists and galvanise political support. They offer the illusion of integrity, courage and passion against the backdrop of complacent bureaucrats and tired, out of touch political elites.”

“The problem of every self-styled ‘outsider’ politician is that eventually to gain power they have to become part of the system. We saw this firsthand, particularly in our case study fieldwork in Denmark:  the majority of radical populists we spoke to felt that the Danish People’s Party had compromised too much and were now part of the system. By gaining power they immediately lose the virtue that brought them to power – their anti-establishment credibility.”

Related stories:

Is the Norway Shooter a ‘Christian Terrorist’?

Anti-Muslim Prejudice is Normal in Britain, Says Politician

Norway’s Government ‘Naive’ Says Le Pen, Far-Right French Politician

Photo by Wikimedia


Louise Peacock
Louise Peacock5 years ago

I think that the anti-Islam feelings seen to be surfacing are merely becoming more visible - I do not believe that most people support terrorism.

I think that radical Islam poses a huge threat to the western world and that the western world is very foolish to be constantly striving to appease these people, rather than export them to the places of origin.

Every time one of those radical Imams start stirring up trouble they should stick them on a plane or boat and send them to a culture that supports their views.

We have to stop using western rules to deal with them - they are using our tolerant ways against us.

Stand up for freedom and send Islamists out of our countries.

New G.
W. C6 years ago

Disturbing news, thanks.

Marlene Dinkins

noted. thanks for this inf.

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Kurt Vangsness6 years ago

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These are the same people responsible for the genocide in Darfur, Nubia and Southern Sudan and the enslavement of the non-believers (Christians and Animists) that are spared slaughter. The BBC article below references the "Popular Defence Force" or PDF and a "Haj Majed Suwar". The video features a "Hajj Majed, commander of the popular defense in Sudan"

From November 2007:
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President Omar al-Bashir was speaking at a celebration organised by the Popular Defence Force (PDF) on Saturday.

The PDF are accused of committing widespread atrocities during both the conflicts in South Sudan, and more recently in Darfur."

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Roger Monk
Past Member 6 years ago

'Twas ever thus in times of economic

It's always disturbing, but I don't yet see cause for massive concern in Europe. I see it in America's Republican party, though. There's a real chance that a few crazies may have real power before long and what affects America affects us all.

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2-Over 17 million slaves (mostly black women and children) were transported out of Africa by Islamic traders. Another 85 million are believed to have died en route.

3-The Prophet Muhammad practiced and approved of slavery, and directed his men to do the same.

4-The Qur’an devotes more verses to informing Muslim men of their right to keep women as sex slaves, than it does to telling them to pray five times a day.

5-The Arabic word for “black” (Abd) is synonymous with the word for “slave”.

6-Muhammad's father-in-law, Umar declared that Arabs could not be taken as slaves, and freed all Arab slaves. This led to the wide Islamic campaign to capture slaves in Africa, Europe and Asia.

7-Western slave trade exploited Africans primarily for agricultural labor. The Arab slave trade on the other hand, has more often used men for military service, and women for sex and for their wombs – to produce children who will be Muslims.

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