The danger of far-right, violent extremism in Europe
The terrorist attack in Halle, central Germany earlier this month in which two people were killed by a rampaging gunman was just the latest in a long line of extremist violence committed by the resurgent far-right in Europe.
The intended target of Stephan B, a 27-year-old German antisemitic gunman, had been the city’s synagogue and its Jewish worshippers on Yom Kippur, Judaism’s holiest day. But as he was unable to force his way into the synagogue, two innocent bystanders were gunned down – sending shockwaves throughout Germany and beyond.
This terrorist atrocity marked yet another chapter in the proliferation of far-right extremism across Europe.
We have already witnessed a rise in their political representation in countries with fascist pasts like Spain, Germany and Italy, but also across eastern Europe, Greece, Scandinavia and, of course, in the European Parliament.
For years, the far-right in Europe had been bubbling below the radar, almost undetected and confined to the dark corners of the web, fringes of society or on the football terraces. But the rise in social media coupled with political representation have since ‘normalised’ their rhetoric.
This has allowed the far-right to spout hatred, xenophobia and all kinds of racism directly to their supporters. And by exploiting the consequences of austerity, the 2015 refugee crisis and scapegoating of Muslims after a spate of jihadist attacks in Europe, fascists were emboldened into carrying out far-right activities, from harassing non-native Europeans and targeting minority groups to carrying out massacres on an unimaginable scale.
Our MEPs debated on this critical issue in the European Parliament this week, and some believe that the EU must act now before it is too late, starting with Germany’s Martina Michels saying that it must start with education:
Meanwhile, Spanish MEP Miguel Urbán put the blame firmly in the big political parties:
Spanish MEP Sira Rego also said that politicians should set the example:
Meanwhile, here are some of main far-right political forces in both national and European parliaments:
For Cypriot MEP Niyazi Kızılyürek, a common Europe and one that thrives on multiculturalism is the only way forward:
Lastly, French MEP Leïla Chaibi argued that the presence of the far-right inside the European Parliament is a major contributor to the spread of hate: