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UK Study Warns of Violent Far-Right

Published: 09/03/2012 05:18:32 PM GMT
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CAIRO - A new study has issued a stark warning about the potential threat posed by far-right extremists in the UK, revealing that a hardcore of far-rig (more)

CAIRO - A new study has issued a stark warning about the potential threat posed by far-right extremists in the UK, revealing that a hardcore of far-right supporters in the UK believes violent conflict between different ethnic, racial and religious groups is inevitable.

"I think that is quite striking," Matthew Goodwin, of the University of Nottingham, told the Guardian on Friday, March 9.

"Even at the less extreme end of the radical-right spectrum in the UK, large numbers of these citizens clearly believe that relations between different groups are not going to be harmonious but will soon descend into violent conflicts."

The study, From Voting to Violence? Rightwing Extremists in Modern Britain, by Goodwin and Jocelyn Evans, of Salford University, was launched at Chatham House on Thursday.

It is based on a survey, carried out by YouGov, of 2,152 people who self identify as supporters of either the British National Party, the UK Independence Party (UKip) and a smaller sample of English Defence League supporters.

The shocking results found that almost half of the BNP supporters in their sample thought "preparing for conflict between different groups is always or sometimes justifiable."

Two-fifths of the surveyed supporters of "radical-right" and "far-right" groups considered armed conflict to be "always or sometimes" justifiable.

The report states: "The responses point towards a tranche of BNP supporters who endorse the view that both preparing for and engaging in inter-group conflict are always justifiable actions …. the BNP members in our sample appear to view themselves as a core vanguard who are preparing for a forthcoming conflict in a way that the party's more passive supporters are not."

Ukip supporters showed markedly less enthusiasm for conflict, although a majority believed that relations between different ethnic, racial and religious groups in the UK would inevitably end in violence.

The findings come ahead of the trial next month of Anders Behring Breivik, the far-right anti-Muslim extremist who has confessed to the murder of 77 people in Norway in July.

Goodwin said the report should also be seen in light of the 17 people affiliated to the far right who have been imprisoned in the UK in recent years for terrorism offences.

"When you go through the transcripts of those cases what they often emphasize is this notion of impending race war, the impending clash of civilizations that meant they needed to stockpile explosives and plan attacks to defend their group from a perceived threat,” he said.

“It is that apocalyptic, almost survivalist notion that goes with far right ideology that we have begun to explore through these exploratory questions.”

Far-Right Threat

The study authors warned of a potential threat posed by far-right extremists in the UK.

"What we have got here is a group of people who self-identify as supporters of the far right and who are, to quite a large extent, backing ideas about preparing for violence and appear to view violence as a justifiable political strategy," said Goodwin, who is a specialist in far-right politics.

"These findings do not necessarily represent the views or policies of the parties themselves but they are instructive as to the motivations and views of members and supporters."

The study follows a report from the home affairs select committee earlier this year that concluded that too little was known about far-right extremism and its potential for violence.

The authors added that the study is a preliminary first step towards addressing that shortcoming and warned that the far right in the UK was now at a "fork in the road".

"On one side, we have a far-right party [the BNP] disintegrating at elections and closing down any chance of a ballot box strategy,” Goodwin said.

“On the other we have a more combative and confrontational form of street politics in the EDL. Then for the first time in recent history we have somebody in Breivik who has essentially offered a brand to would-be perpetrators of far right violence.

"Our findings would appear to suggest that within this wider climate and amidst continuing public anxiety over immigration, Islam and economic hardship there is a significant section within the far right who believe violence and armed conflict is a legitimate option should they feel their wider group is under threat."

Britain is home to an estimated Muslim minority of nearly two million.

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

Last November, British police warned that the anti-Muslim demonstration by the EDL fuel extremism and harm social cohesion in Britain.

Reproduced with permission from