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Islamophobia & The Militant Europe – Anas Baqi
Islamophobia is a new tool at the hands of the far-right which they are using, quite successfully, to gain political ground. The question is not why they are using Islamophobia, but the question is, why is it working? Why are people buying the hatred for a certain religious group and rejecting peaceful multi-cultural parties. Hatred and Xenophobia is breeding & thriving within the large masses of European population and we might see another fascist Europe, with segregation laws against Muslims in effect, with in the next 10 years. But again, the question is: Why is hate working?
The Present Situation
The present situation Europe depicts largely a pre-War Europe suffering from The Great Depression, with unemployment and inflation on the rise. Strong dictators came forward to seize the power with great public support. Such situation might happen in present day Europe, with anti-Semitism swapping places with anti-Muslim sentiments. Many of the European countries are already implementing laws which specifically designed to have their effects only on the Muslim population. Legislations prohibiting the wearing of Hijab and Burka and the Swiss law prohibiting the construction of Minarets may give way to further legislations that confine the freedom for Muslims. Such laws are no different than the draconian Nuremberg laws that the Nazi Germany applied over Jewish population. Five of the states in Germany ban the female Muslim teachers to wear the headscarf but allow the wearing of Christian symbols such as a nun’s habit. Such legislations raise concerns whether the European republics are discriminating in their behavior towards a specific religious group, especially Muslims.
Where the Islamophobes stand?
Europe’s political face has been transforming at a rapid rate. In 2001, 12 European states were under the right-wing or conservative ruling parties’ and 14 states were governed by left-wing or liberals. But in the present year, only 5 European states are under political ruling of left or center left, with right-wing or conservatives in 21 states. Right-wing, Eurosceptics, Islamophobes, anti-immigrants, neo-Nazis and Nationalists are on the move to the parliaments of their respective countries. In Netherlands, the Partij voor de Vrijheid (Freedom Party), led by a great Islamophobe, Geert Wilders, came out of obscurity to win four seats out of 25. Norway saw the Progress Party, which was once supported by Anders Breivik, winning 22.9% of the vote in 2009 elections. Similarly, Lega Nord (Northern League) in Italy, National Front in France, Felmish Interest in Belgium, Danish People’s Party, Sweden Democrats (famous for using swastikas and Nazi uniforms in the past), True Finns in the Finland, The Jobbik party in Hungary and Freedom Party in Austria have made astonishing gains in the political arena and won considerable votes.
In Britain and Germany, the right-wing British National Party and the National Democratic Party respectively, are not able to make any gains into the parliamentary system. The Best ever performance by BNP was in the local elections where the party was able to win 3 local council seats.
With the right-wing participating in the parliamentary race, violent neo-Nazi, Islamophobic and fascist groups are not very much in the shadows either. Notorious organizations are on the loose, which are free to spread their message of hate, bigotry, terrorism and violence. Some of these Islamophobic and Neo-Nazi groups like The English Defence League, The Swedish Resistance Movement, National Socialist Workers’ Party, National Socialist Movement of Denmark, Bloed, Bodem, Eer en Trouw (Blood, Soil, Honour and Loyalty) of Finland, Nomad 88, Bloc Identitaire, Autonome Nationalisten, Tricolor Flame, Veneto Fronte Skinheads , Netherlands National Youth, Dutch People’s Union, Vigrid, BootsBoys and their likes are already responsible of violent marches and protests and some of these groups are convicted of planning terror attacks in Europe.
Maybe, just maybe, The Norwegian Terrorist Andhers Brievik was just a lone gunman, with no links to global terrorism but what about these Islamophobic organizations which are still at large, in and around Europe? Brievik’s misguided ideas were not just a creation of his own mind. Surely there were many other “inspirations” that made him carry out the horrible act of terrorism in Norway, which he confesses in his manifestation of death, “The Manifesto 2083: The European Declaration of Independence”. The madness behind the terrorist Breivik, was excited to a great degree by Islamophobic & hateful writings of Robert Spence & Pamela Geller, which Breivik cites at great lengths. Neo-pagan writer Koenraad Elst and Daniel Pipes are also mentioned as sources of inspiration.
With a phobic obsession on the prospect of “Islamic Jihadi culture” and Immigrant Muslims turning into “radicals”, the local authorities turned a blind eye to their own white supremacists, racist terrorists, and Christian Terrorists. Writings and publications of hate should be banned and discouraged just like any terrorist multimedia material is banned. Or else new Anders Breiviks will be created every day. Masses will be brainwashed and terrorists like Breivik will find sympathizers in the public. Norway Terror attacks and London riots should be enough to show the politicians that instead of dumping everything on “Islamic Terrorism” and promoting further Islamophobia, they should do something to stop their own fascist threat that is knocking on their doors.
This is what is happening in Europe. But why is it happening? Let’s read further.
Post 9/11 Policies:
It seems that the west, especially Europe, has been declining, both in economy and tolerance. And both these factors are strongly intertwined with each other. Islamophobia is the new “trend” among the Europe’s right-wing. Ever since 9/11 took place, the focus shifted from the “Communist threat” to the “Islamic threat” and thanks to mainstream media, a phobia has been fed constantly in the minds of ordinary people that every Muslim is a potential suicide bomber. The United States, UK and more than half of the Europe went to war with Afghanistan and even after 10 years, peace seems no where in sight. After the Afghan war, UK blindly went to war with Iraq as well. Although the decision was taken by mostly left-wing parties, but like with every war, religious sentiment was exploited to be used as a fuel of war, just as Afghan Mujahideen were collected from all over the world to fight the “Afghan Jihad”, a war which had plain political ends to destabilize the Soviet Union. A large mass of Media was utilized to give the justification of going to a war.
The Politicians and media deliberately refused to tell their citizens the cost of waging a long war. With President Bush claiming it as a “Crusade” and Tony Blair following his lead, the tolerance for Muslims in western society degraded further and it promoted what can be correctly termed as “European Terrorism”. With constant loss of lives, property and crunching effects on the world economy, the frustration among the populace is on a high tide. Many families lost their loved ones at the hands of local insurgency in Afghanistan and Iraq and the anti-Muslim hate just kept on increasing. With the liberal parties failing to deal with the economic effects of war and with media still blaming everything on “Moslems” instead of utterly wrong decisions made by their own politicians, the right wing started gaining grounds, riding on the backs of anti-Islam hate and bigotry .
It is this “European Terrorism” that created Breivik and has caused notoriously violent and Islamophobic groups like the EDL to rise. Organizations like “Stop the Islamification of Europe” are no different than Nazis, which call for the destruction of 1.8 Billion adherents of Islam just because they don’t see eye to eye with them, even advocating the use of nuclear weapons over the Holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Media channels like ABNSAT.com are no different than the Jihadi Websites on Internet that promote religious hate and violence.
With war come economic problems. But maybe this was a fact that was kept under the rugs by the political leadership that decided to go to war. After 10 years of disastrous war in Afghanistan and a misadventure in the trail of WMDs of Iraq (which were no where to be found), and loss of hundreds of thousands of lives on both sides, the story of the west is a gloomy one. Unemployment on the rise, recession causing inflation, and with most of the world economy sinking, the frustration of the European population is natural.
And with frustration, come anger and anger leads to hate and violence. The ruling political parties tried to protect their own vote banks and instead of pulling out of expensive and costly wars, did everything else. Wrong decisions were made again. Spain, Greece, Ireland, Portugal and even states like UK, Germany and France are observing protests and riots that are solely against unemployment, inflation and degrading standards of living. Austerity protests seem like an everyday routine .
The recent riots in England were enough to portray the frustration and the difference of classes inhabiting in UK. Tottenham, from where the riots originally erupted, is the main hub of unemployment, where a single job vacancy is followed by 26 – 34 people  . Analysts carved out the statistics that most of the looting and rioting happened because of unemployment, social exclusion, poverty, the growing gap between rich and poor, drug abuse and economic conditions. With such economic conditions, which were not heard of before the global War on Terror, opportunists, Islamophobes, Fascists & neo-Nazis stand out like a messiah to give a hand to the public, using emotions to win votes, as the rulers failed to take the correct decisions to solve these problems. Today, Europe stares at an uncertain future — its economies mired in debt, unemployment at record levels, with little prospect for growth or jobs and thus, multiracial harmony has strained as a result.
Let’s keep an optimistic view about the future of Europe, but if things keep on the present track, we might see another rise of Fascism in Europe with its target as Islam. The misconceptions and conspiracy theories of “Eurabia” might be used and are being used to cause terror and fear of Islam in general public and thus supporting segregation laws against the Muslim population of Europe.
With falling economic conditions of Europe and the prevailing recession all over the world, failing liberal policies and continuous spread of Islamophobia and negative propaganda, conditions are ripe enough to cause the natural public support for right-wing radicals, neo-conservatives, neo-Nazis and Fascists which can further result in either of the two scenarios; A Fascist Europe reminiscent of the 1930s or a Militant Europe with the rise of armed violent groups.
Either version of such Europe in this century will not only be destructive for its native population but it also might trigger what we don’t want to hear, believe or experience – The Clash of Civilizations.
About The Author
Syed Anas Baqi is a student of Computer Science and Info. Tech. studying currently at NED University of Engineering & Technology, Karachi.
He can be reached at the following.
Citations and References
1- Burqa Ban in Europe- Recipe for Clash of Civilizations (Asian Tribune -18/07/2010) http://www.asiantribune.com/news/2010/07/18/burqa-ban-europe-recipe-clash-civilizations
2- Islamic Dress in Europe (Wikipedia.org) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_dress_in_Europe
3- France: Police arrests two veiled women (The Telegraph) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/8442622/French-burka-ban-police-arrest-two-veiled-women.html
4- Swiss voters back ban on minarets (BBC News-29/11/2009) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8385069.stm
5- Swiss Ban Building of Minarets on Mosques (The New Yorkm Times-29/11/2009) http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/30/world/europe/30swiss.html
6- Islamic Dress in Europe (Wikipedia.org) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_dress_in_Europe#Germany
7- Left, right, left: how political shifts have altered the map of Europe (guardian.co.uk-28/07/2011) http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/interactive/2011/jul/28/europe-politics-interactive-map-left-right
8- Europe’s Far Right-Gallery (guardian.co.uk) http://www.guardian.co.uk/gall/0,,711990,00.html
9- Europe’s Far Right-Gallery (guardian.co.uk) http://www.guardian.co.uk/gall/0,,711990,00.html
10- Europe’s Right Wing: A Nation-by-Nation Guide to Political Parties and Extremist Groups. (Time Specials) http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2085728_2085727_2085712,00.html
11- Europe’s Right Wing: A Nation-by-Nation Guide to Political Parties and Extremist Groups. (Time Specials) http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2085728_2085727_2085712,00.html
12- Anders Behring Breivik (Wikipedia.org) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anders_Behring_Breivik#Writing_influences
13- “This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while” – George W Bush, after stepping off the presidential helicopter on Sunday, September 16, 2001. http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2001/09/20010916-2.html
14- How to Identify a Loon-The Nuclear Card (loonwatch.com-21/04/2009) http://www.loonwatch.com/2009/04/how-to-identify-a-loon-the-nuclear-card/
16- Europe faces rising austerity protests in 2011 (Reuters-15/12/2010) http://uk.reuters.com/article/2010/12/15/uk-europe-protests-idUKLNE6BE05E20101215
17- Mass protests continue in Spanish capital (Al-Jazeera English-25/07/2011) http://english.aljazeera.net/news/europe/2011/07/2011725046110696.html
18- Analysis: Europe faces rising austerity protests in 2011 (Reuters-15/12/2010) http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/12/15/us-europe-protests-idUSTRE6BE3FK20101215
19- Spain’s poll commission seeks ban on protests (Al-Jazeera-20/05/2011) http://english.aljazeera.net/news/europe/2011/05/2011519233112661224.html
20- ‘Spanish Revolution’ Sparks Wave of Protests in Europe (Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding-31/05/2011) http://www.ccun.org/News/2011/June/4%20n/’Spanish%20Revolution’%20Sparks%20Wave%20of%20Protests%20in%20Europe.htm
21- London riots: Does Tottenham have the highest unemployment in the capital? (fullfact.org-08/08/2011) http://fullfact.org/factchecks/Tottenham_unemployment_jobseekers_allowance-2906
22- Tottenham Riots fueled by Poverty and Police Resentments (Forbes-09/08/2011) http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2011/08/09/tottenham-riots-fueled-by-poverty-and-police-resentment/
23- Tottenham (Wikipedia.org) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tottenham#Demography_and_crime
Further Sources of Information
- Poll: Muslims resist Europe mainstream
- US and Europe prepare to back condemnation of Syria with deeds
- Letter from America: Pakistan, torture and Islamophobia, all at once
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