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Far-right Takes Muslim Hatred to Denmark

Published: 20/01/2012 01:48:32 PM GMT
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CAIRO - A planned rally in Denmark by far-right European groups to denounce Muslims and their faith is inviting a storm of criticism.

CAIRO - A planned rally in Denmark by far-right European groups to denounce Muslims and their faith is inviting a storm of criticism."We've seen what the rhetoric of hate can do in Norway,” Imran Shah, the spokesman for the Islamic Society of Denmark, told The Telegraph on Wednesday, January 18.

Urging Muslims to stay away from the rally, Shah called on the Danish government to act against the far-right, especially in the wake of last year's massacre of 77 people by Norwegian far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik.

“Do we want some deaths here before we react?", he added.

Led by the English Defence League, the far-right rally is expected to be attended by representatives from more than 10 far-right groups from across Europe.

"There will be speeches from every defence league in Europe," said Isak Nygren, the spokesman for the Swedish Defence League.

"I hope we can show that there's resistance against Islamisation of Europe, that we can inspire each other."

Stephen Lennon, the former football hooligan who formed the EDL three years ago, said the event would be an opportunity to set up the so-called European Freedom Initiative.

He described the planned gathering in Aarhus on March 31 as the "first proper European event".

"We're hoping this will be the launch of a wider European Defence League," he said.

"We don't expect it to be big, but our first event wasn't that big, and they're just going to get bigger and bigger."

The Danish rally is the second EDL event for European far-right groups.

The first rally was held in Amsterdam in 2010 in support of Dutch anti-Islamic politician Geert Wilders, who was in court accused of insulting religious and ethnic groups.

Breivik, who committed the Oslo massacre, was an early European supporter of the EDL, attending a rally in Bradford in 2010, and claiming hundreds of EDL members as his Facebook friends.

After the attack, Wilders moved to distance himself from the EDL, amid expectations he will not attend the event.


The growing impact of the far-right in Europe has alarmed many experts.

"It shows us something that I don't think British commentators have grasped, which is that elsewhere in Europe, the EDL is seen as being quite a significant movement," Matthew Goodwin, an expert on the far-Right at Nottingham University, told The Telegraph.

"When you look at guys like Anders Breivik and the Danish Defence League, we can see how groups in Europe are looking at Britain and the EDL as a model."

Weyman Bennet, a spokesman for Unite Against Fascism, agrees.

"Everywhere they've called a demonstration there's been violence,” Bennet.

“Across Europe, the Sweden Democrats and the Danish People's Party, all of them are growing by using this rhetoric.

“We see them as a group of people who will try and encourage fascist politics they've simply swapped anti-semitism for anti-Islam.”

The EDL, a far-right group that emerged in 2009, has held numerous protests against what it calls “Islamic extremism” in Britain.

Far-right groups like the EDL and the British National Party (BNP) are playing the card of immigration to stoke sentiment against Muslims and immigrants.

Across Europe, far-right politicians have accelerated their rhetoric against Muslim minorities in recent years.

Far-right Dutch lawmaker Wilders has called for banning the Muslim face-veil in the Netherlands and stopping immigration from Muslim countries.

In Sweden, the far-right Sweden Democrats have unveiled plans to impose a moratorium on building new mosques in the Scandinavian country.

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