Rabat – Europe’s worrying re-emergence of nationalism, Islamophobia, and general western chauvinism is becoming increasingly evident.
Hardly a week goes by without news headlines telling of new xenophobia-related scandals, institutionalized Islamophobia, or violence against migrants. Tracking the rise of right-wing ideology in Europe is easier by the day, as state-sanctioned discrimination grows bolder each year.
France, true to its growing trend of intolerance, seems to be holding its distrust of minorities as a blatant truth. As the French presidential elections draw closer, potential candidates have begun to mobilize for the campaign trail. Currently, President Macron’s opposition is scrambling to select its next candidates.
Eric Zemmour, a controversial French writer who the judiciary has convicted three times for hate speech, reportedly could run for president. A poll that French right-wing magazine Valeurs Actuelles conducted showed that 13% of the readership would support his campaign.
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Indicative of his divisive rhetoric, last year Zemmour sparked outrage when he described migrant minors as “rapists,” “murderers,” and “thieves” during an interview with a French news channel.
Meanwhile, France’s first female imam, Kahina Bahloul, is distraught over the new law against “separatism,” over the government’s desire to “stigmatize Muslims.”
“This politicization of the Muslim religion takes me back 25 years, to the black decade in Algeria, to this nightmare of political Islam which destroyed a country and an entire people for several years,” Bahloul told Europe 1 on March 30.
Hidden in plain sight
In the Netherlands, a Dutch child care benefits scandal, which saw blatant ethnic profiling, reached the peak of public consciousness. This led to the dissolution of the ruling government just before the elections.
Of the 26,000 parents wrongly accused of fraudulently claiming child allowance over the years, the Dutch tax authority revealed that at least 11,000 were singled out because of either their ethnic origin or dual nationality.
Mark Rutte, prime minister and the leader of the ruling center-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), admitted the cabinet’s responsibility in the scandal.
Despite the revelation, the VVD, with Rutte at its helm, went on to take home the largest percentage of seats, standing at 21.9%. Not only did the party not lose any of its support, the VVD actually gained an additional seat compared to the previous elections.
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The third-largest party, Geert Wilders’ anti-Islam party, which argued for a “Ministry of Immigration, Remigration and De-Islamification,” lost only three seats, holding 10.8% of the Dutch House of Representatives. Many of the votes the PVV lost went to other smaller far-right parties.
The Netherlands’ northern neighbor, Denmark, which many see as a progressive, social democratic country, recently came under scrutiny for proposing a bill that would ensure that no neighborhood has more than 30% “non-western” residents.
Denying Islamophobia, the Danish Interior Minister Kaare Dybvad Bek explained that too many foreign residents “increase the risk of the emergence of parallel societies from a social and religious point of view.”
An eye on the East
Jacek Miedlar, a former Polish priest, made headlines in 2017 for a variety of reasons. These range from being barred from entering the UK to attend an anti-Islam march — even a broken system is right twice a day — to his incendiary rhetoric at a far-right nationalist march in Wroclaw, southwestern Poland.
Miedlar proclaimed at the march, “Dear ladies and gentlemen, that synagogues can stand here on our Polish soil in Wroclaw, and that [Wroclaw’s mayor] and Jews can get drunk in them with Talmudic hatred, this is only the result of our tolerance.”
Several international media reported on the incident, noting that he could be persecuted for inciting hate speech and on Holocaust denial charges, and yet, to little public surprise, late last year the Bialystok prosecutor’s office decided that the former priest “did not incite hatred and did not insult.”
Following the court’s decision, Miedlar, on Twitter, wrote “Bialystok proceedings discontinued! Zero tolerance for Jewish cowardice. Salute!”.
For the first time in the United Kingdom’s history, the judiciary convicted a serving police officer of a terrorism offense, following an investigation that revealed his belonging to a neo-Nazi terrorist group.
The court found him guilty, on March 31, of belonging to far-right organization National Action, a banned extremist entity. Benjamin Hannam, aged 22, was a probationary police constable working for the London Metropolitan Police. He was found in possession of various extremist materials, including the manifesto of Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik
On the International Day for the Elimination of Racism on March 21, cities throughout England saw anti-racism activists run a “guerrilla protest” against police violence and discrimination.
The activists called for justice for Mohamud Hassan, 24, and Mouayed Bashir, 29, two innocent, young Black men who police killed earlier in the year. The two cases make up a small percentage of the 1,780 deaths that have happened either under custody or following contact with the police in England and Wales since 1990.
And so, as the pain and suffering that arose from the last time nationalism reached feverish levels, World War II, have abandoned Europe’s collective memory and public consciousness, the West is at risk of repeating its past mistakes once more.