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Global Anti-Islam Far-right Network Grows

Published: 15/04/2012 12:18:27 PM GMT
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CAIRO - As the trial of an anti-Islam mass killer in Norway is set to start this week, a new study reveals that far-right groups are forging alliances throughout Europe and the United States to spread their hostile message ag (more)

CAIRO - As the trial of an anti-Islam mass killer in Norway is set to start this week, a new study reveals that far-right groups are forging alliances throughout Europe and the United States to spread their hostile message against Muslims to a wider audience.

"[Anders Behring] Breivik acted alone but it was the 'counter-Jihadist' ideology that inspired him and gave him the reasoning to carry out these atrocious attacks,” Nick Lowles, director of Hope Not Hate anti-racism group, told The Guardian.

“All eyes this week will be on what Breivik did last July, but we ignore those people who inspired him at our peril.”

The report by Hope Not Hate group warns that far-right groups that inspired Breivik to kill scores of people in a deadly massacre in Norway were growing in reach and influence.

Breivik, described by the police as a "right-wing Christian fundamentalist", killed at least 76 people in twin attacks on a government building and a youth training camp in Oslo last year.

The attacker, to appear on trial in Oslo this week, said his assault was a self-styled mission to save European “Christendom” from Islam.

The report says since the killing spree, the counter-jihad movement has continued to grow, gathering a network of foundations, bloggers, political activists and street gangs.

It also features over 300 organizations and key individuals that make up the ‘Counter-Jihad' movement, including the right wing political parties, who are increasingly using anti-Muslim rhetoric to garner votes.

Replacing the old racial nationalist politics of neo-Nazi and traditional far-right parties, these groups were adopting a new anti-Muslim tone, using the “language of cultural and identity wars”, the study says.

The study named the United Kingdom as one of Europe's most active countries in terms of far-right movements, with 22 anti-Islamic groups currently operating.

In Europe as a whole, 133 organizations were named in the report, including seven in Norway, and another 47 in the US, where a network of neo-conservative, evangelical and conservative organizations attempts to spread "negative perceptions of Islam, Muslim minorities and Islamic culture".

The study refers to the consolidation of links between European and US anti-Islamic organizations as a more worrying aspect of the rising far-right.

US anti-Islam blogger Pamela Geller, the president of Stop Islamization of Nations (Sion) group, was mentioned in Breivik's manifesto and was a vociferous protester against the development of a mosque in Lower Manhattan in 2010.

Mushrooming Danger

Analysts cite the economic downturn as a key factor in helping the counter-jihad movement to consolidate support among Europeans.

"The economic crisis continues to promote nationalism alongside the need for a common enemy," Andreas Mammone, a historian at Kingston University in London and an expert on European fascism, told The Guardian.

“A fear of radical Islam is being developed, the idea that it presents a threat to our freedom.”

These economic woes helped Europeans to shun traditional political parties and turn to the far-right.

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

In Britain, far-right groups like the English Defence League and the British National Party are playing the card of immigration to stoke sentiment against Muslims and immigrants.

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

In the Netherlands, far-right lawmaker Geert 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.

New groups were also appearing in Denmark after English Defence League leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon held the inaugural meeting of a Europe-wide network of defense leagues in Oslo two weeks ago.

Another group, Women Against Islamization, was founded in Belgium last month whose launch was addressed by Jackie Cook, the wife of BNP leader Nick Griffin.US neo-conservative and evangelical groups were also beginning to share resources with the leagues as images of EDL demonstrations were already used at Tea Party movement fundraising.

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