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Bad News, Good News about anti-Islamic, Neo-Nazi European Racism

 

There is alarming news about the rising racist and xenophobic movements in Europe, often called “Far Right”.    A hundred years ago European racism was directed against Jews, and today virtually the same prejudice:  Back then it was the “Can you be Jewish and European” question, today it is the “can you be Muslim and European” provocation.

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The bad news is real:  for the first time ever there was a coordinated rally of many Islamophobic groups across Europe.    
The rally, held in Denmark on March 30th, was coordinated by the English Defence League (EDL), which opposes what it calls the “Islamification of Europe.”  
These groups are now demonstrated to have neo-Nazi connections. 
     
Previous investigations by the Guardian have revealed the seriousness of their hate agenda.  
 

According to the BBC, the far-right and racist groups expert Matthew Goodwin, has noted the significance of this rally:  “What we are seeing here for the first time in British political history is an anti-Muslim far-right organisation taking the lead in trying to mobilise pan-European opposition to Islam,” he said.

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Anders Breivik, the Norwegian terrorist, maintained a close friendship with many EDL members.

So that’s the bad news, that these groups exist, they are growing in number, that they are getting a pass from the British press, and that they are now organizing and networking with similar hate organizations across Europe. 

Yet, there is some good news:  The rally in Denmark failed to attract the number of participants that its fascist, Neo-Nazi organizers were hoping, topping off at about 160 members.  More importantly, they were opposed by some 4,000 counter-protesters who rejected the rising tide of Islamophobia across Europe. 

In a distinctly European phenomenon, the previous such attempt by the Neo-Nazi Islamophobes was turned back by a combination of anti-racist groups and the supporters of the popular Ajax football team!  (Neo-Nazi groups like EDL have in the past used incitments in football games to initiate riots.)

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Furthermore, these NeoNazi fascist organizations are linked to the American xenophobic and Islamophobic organizations like Jihad Watch (led by Robert Spencer) and Pamela Geller’s Atlas Shrugged, as well as groups with titles like “Stop the Islamization of America” (led by both Spencer and Geller) that opposed the Park51 Project [the “so-called Ground Zero Mosque”—which was in reality neither a mosque nor at Ground Zero.]   The EDL had also invited Terry Jones, the mustached, Qur'an-burning pastor from Florida, to their demonstrations.    In other words, we see that Islamophobia is now a trans-Atlantic phenomenon.

The moral of the story seems to be clear:  the line between good and bad, hate and love, light and darkness, does not go between religions or nations.    It is a struggle inside each and every single one of our hearts, our families, our communities, our nations, and our religions.   While it is alarming that there is an increasing tide of Neo-nazi Islamophobia in Europe, it is also assuring that many more people are rising up to them to propose a different vision of Europe.    Ultimately, what we are faced with is not a clash of Islam vs. the West (as the EDL and the American Islamophobes would have us believe), but rather a struggle inside Islam and another struggle inside Europe and America.   

Our best hope for a life of shared dignity rooted in peace and justice is for all of us who see our strength to be connected to our diversity—and not weakened by that—to reach out together to oppose those hateful voices that inevitably will incite here and there.  That seems to be what the Europeans are already learning, and hopefully we Americans will as well.
 

 

 

Image 1 is from BBC.

image 2 is from Guardian

Image 3 is from Salon.

 

Tags: anti-islamic, far right, hate group, islamophobia, islamophobic, jihad watch, pamela geller, racist, rally, robert spencer, stop the islamization of america, xenophobia

Comments

  1. You are correct that the good news is that these groups find strong opposition. I’m not sure that your way of stating the continued opposition to these groups is the best. You say the ways “...is for all of us who see our strength to be connected to our diversity—and not weakened by that—to reach out together to oppose those hateful voices that inevitably will incite here and there.” What you should say is “all of us who see our strength in our unity” because it is the unity of shared ideals that creates the unity of shared space, so that what you call diversity is really variation on a shared sense of identity. Otherwise you find yourself inevitably in the discourse of difference, which will play into their hands. “Diversity” as it is currently used is part of the problem.

  2. One must also remember that there are those raise genuine issues so it is important not to lump those of the racist and xenophobic elements in with those who are raising concerns that are authentic. At the end of the day though the Muslim communities with Europe do need to have a stock take of how Islam is being practiced and ask some tough questions specifically when it comes to pluralism within Islam and living within Pluralistic secular countries, the issue of interfaith marriage, conflicts between ones own culture, Islam and the culture of the adoptive country etc. Without these issues being addressed you simply end up with causes of friction being left unaddressed.

  3. I agree with you kawaii.gardiner. That was my point about unity vs. diversity. Islamic law and identity must be understood as secondary to the norms, laws, and identities of the common civil and state society, just as we expect Christians to subsume traditional Christian identity, laws and practices to the same. Unfortunately, some use “diversity” as political tool to undermine social unity, with one strand of this coming out of the left via the Gramscian attack on ‘hegemonic’ culture, seeking whatever weak links it can find to prevent soladarities it regards as oppressive. On the right, some come from racial or religious separatism.

  4. There is lots of good news for Muslims and Jews to celebrate: three attempts to pass anti Muslim laws in San Francisco, Florida, and Holland all failed due to Muslim and Jewish joint opposition.

    Muslims and Jews in Holland and in California united in 2011 in opposing two political attacks on their joint religious traditions of circumcision, and their religious ways of killing of animals for food.

    In San Francisco anti circumcision forces were seeking to made it illegal to “circumcise, excise, cut or mutilate the whole or any part of the foreskin, testicles or penis of another person who has not attained the age of 18 years.” Under that law, any person who performed circumcisions would face a misdemeanor charge and have to pay a fine of up to $1,000, or serve a maximum of one year in prison.

    The ban on circumcisions was opposed by a coalition of Jewish and Muslim organizations as well as many Christian groups that support religious rights and toleration. They were victorious when a Superior Court Judge ruled in July 2011 that the measure to criminalize circumcision must be withdrawn from the November ballot because it would violate a California law that makes regulating medical procedures a state—not a city—matter.

    .
    In Holland, a bill that would effectively ban the traditional religious way both Muslims and Jews slaughter animals, sponsored by the Party for Animals, was approved in late 2011 by the Dutch lower house, where it was backed by the anti-Islamic Freedom Party, and opposed only by Christian parties that took a stand in defense of religious freedom. In January, 2012 it went to the upper house of the Dutch parliament, where most observers expect it to become law. It didn’t due to a united Muslim and Jewish opposition.

    Most recently in Florida, a state bill targeting a supposed threat from Islamic law was opposed by Jewish and Muslim religious groups. The Application of Foreign Law in Certain Cases bill was considered likely to pass the Florida Senate, (it already passed the Florida House of Representatives), before the end of the legislative session in March, 2012, The Council on American-Islamic Relations vowed to fight the bill. So too did the strictly Orthodox umbrella organization Agudath Israel of America. Agudah’s executive vice president, Rabbi David Zwiebel, said,  “The notion that secular judges are being asked to decide whether religious law does or does not conform with ‘fundamental liberties’ is an intrusion on religious freedom and could be a dangerous precedent for more far-ranging efforts in the future that might well impact religious communities.” This bill also failed.

    Finally, although the media often publicize local opposition to building or expanding a Mosque, the number of Mosques in the U.S. has increased from 1,209 in 2,000 to 2,106 in 2011. This is an 85% increase.  Rabbi Allen S. Maller rabbimaller.com

  5. I have a friend in Wales who suggests that extremist Muslims in Cardiff and Swansea give Islam a very negative image. After we talked a while, I managed to dig out from him that he knew a great many Muslims who were very nice family people. Somehow Muslims need to distance themselves from the extremists; perhaps even actively taking a part in insuring that they do not engage in lawless conduct.

    There are extreme views in every religion, but it seems that only in Islam has it come to extreme violence in America and the UK.

    Only one time was I ever confronted about my hijab, and I think it is because I smile and am friendly and helpful to all I meet, not to be flirtacious but helpful.

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