Immigration Tensions Grow as Far Right Plots Pan-European League

Protester hold banners as people from anti-Islamic groups from all over Europe came together March 31, 2012 in Aarhus, Denmark.
Protester hold banners as people from anti-Islamic groups from all over Europe came together March 31, 2012 in Aarhus, Denmark.
Henry Ridgwell

Far-right groups from across Europe gathered in Denmark last week for a meeting that some analysts are describing as a watershed moment.  It comes at a sensitive time on the continent after a series of deadly extremist attacks and rising tension over immigration.

Around 200 members of far-right movements from across Europe came together in Aarhus, Denmark last Saturday.

“This day will be remembered and etched into history,  31st of the third 2012. The date where people came together from all European countries to give birth to the European Defense League," said Tommy Robinson, one of the organizers. A member of the English Defense League, he took to the stage to hail the meeting.

Even if the numbers did not match the rhetoric, radicalism expert Matthew Feldman of the University of Northampton says the meeting was a landmark.

“It does represent the first attempt at a really pan-European linking of the ‘defense leagues’ to counter what they see as an Islamization of Europe,” Feldman noted.

Just days earlier, an Islamist gunman, Mohamed Merah, launched a series of attacks around the French city of Toulouse, killing seven people. Among the victims were three Jewish schoolchildren.

In addition, last August in Norway, right-wing extremist Anders Breivik set off explosives in Oslo before carrying out a mass shooting at a youth summer camp - killing 77 people in all.  He has since been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Analyst Feldman says right-wing groups like the English Defense League try to avoid being labeled as extremist by adopting new ideologies.

“What we see now is what’s called an ethno-differentialist perspective in the literature," explained Feldman, "which says, ‘We actually don’t think that any group is better or worse than others. We simply think that cultural mixing, that multiculturalism is the great evil, because it destroys both cultures that are mixing."”

Such ideas have long been espoused by far-right political parties like the Front Nationale in France.  Its leader, Marine Le Pen, is expected to do well in next month’s presidential election.

In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders’ anti-Islam platform gave his Freedom party more than 15 percent of the vote in the 2010 elections. VOA spoke to him before the poll.

“I have nothing against Muslims but I believe that Islam is a totalitarian ideology and it goes against our freedom,” Wilders said.

Feldman believes new technologies are changing the far-right politics of old.

“For example, the software Facebook, where it’s very easy to quickly coordinate something like a street demonstration or to be able to have the grassroots communicating with each other and with the leadership,” noted Feldman.

The analyst adds that the number of anti-fascist protestors who turned out to counter last week's rally exceeded the far right numbers by 20 to one.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: WhiteDude
April 06, 2012 9:32 PM
Everybody says there is this RACE problem. Everybody says this RACE problem will be solved when the third world pours into EVERY white country and ONLY into White countries.

Everybody says the final solution to this RACE problem is for EVERY white country and ONLY White countries to “assimilate,” i.e., intermarry, with all those non-Whites.

They say they are anti-racist. What they are is anti-White.

Anti-racist is a code word for anti-White.

by: Newspaniard
April 05, 2012 7:29 AM
Your last paragraph amazes me in that anti-fascist organizations are siding with islamofascism which is more right wing than any cult that Hitler could dream of and certainly far more right wing than the EDL or their fellow travellers.

by: Gab
April 05, 2012 5:35 AM
The anti-Islamic wave is mounting in all countries that have Muslim immigrants (the USA is probably the only exception, being traditionally a country of immigrants). Muslims who want to avoid a world-wide backlash against Muslim immigration should be in the frontline of trying to curb anti-foreigner anti-infidel sentiment in their own countries. It is their duty (not the West's duty) to reform their part of the world to make it more tolerant and welcoming.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs