Rise of far-right in Europe: ‘We are heading to new Third Reich’
Clashes broke out in the German city of Wuppertal on Saturday as Salafist Muslims, right-wing extremists and the anti-Islam PEGIDA movement simultaneously held rival protests.
RT:PEGIDA marches are now fairly common in Germany. How worrying is that for society?
Catherine Shakdam: I think it is a worrying development especially since we are kind of witnessing a historical flashback. It looks like the 1930’s Germany, when the Third Reich was getting momentum, and that is what we are witnessing currently not just in Germany, but across Europe.
RT:What is driving these far-right movements, and causing them to target Islam, especially in Europe?
CS: I think you have to go back to 9/11 and the type of narrative that came out of Washington. And then afterwards how it was actually built on from London to Berlin, to Spain, everywhere across Europe we have seen that narrative. Islam has been associated with terrorism. Muslims became essentially by instance radicals and terrorists.
And this is the type of narrative that the media has fed the public in Europe. And now we are seeing the results of this fear and discontent, reinforcement that Islam is something negative, that Muslims are ultimately violent and inherently radicals.
RT:So who would you blame for creating these tensions in the first place?
CS: I would say that again, we need to go back to [those] who are serving those movements and who helped to create radicalism, to begin with. We have to go back to the USA; they are the ones who admittedly created al-Qaeda. This is where everything started back in the 1980’s when they were trying to push back the Russians from Afghanistan, and they tried to use radicals to do their job. Essentially it backfired. Since that time we’ve seen those radicals gaining momentum across not just Europe, but the Middle East and the Islamic world in general. This is something that served their own agenda; they understood that they could use religion as a rallying call to serve their own agenda.
RT:Muslims complain that they're facing growing hostility in Europe, due to the rise of Islamic State and the Charlie Hebdo massacre. But do you think Muslim communities have done enough to disassociate themselves from the more hard-line elements in Islam?
CS: That is very difficult because when we talk about terrorism and Islamic radicalism we are not actually talking about Islam. I think that many scholars and clerics have proven time and time again that the type of rhetoric that radicals are holding is completely anti-Islamic. Nothing they do, nothing they believe is related to Islam. It is very difficult for Muslims to distance themselves because they do not understand those movements; they do not liken themselves to those movements or those ideologues. Therefore, you’re basically asking Muslim people, 1.6 billion people around the world, to collectively bear the guilt of the very few and it is very difficult as a Muslim to understand that logic. Great majority of Muslims do not understand those people and do not recognize them as being Muslim at all. We need to go back to the idea of radicalism and try to understand that it’s completely divorced from religion. It has nothing to do with religion, it is political. Their motives are, what they want is to gain more territories and more power. It has nothing to do with God, and nothing to do with Islam.
RT:Far-right movements are making political gains in several countries - The National Front in France, Golden Dawn in Greece, Lega Nord in Italy to name just a few. Where could this lead?
CS: We need to ask ourselves if we want to see a repeat of the Third Reich. I’m afraid that is where we are heading. People need to understand that even though it all started with anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic sentiment across Europe; those people - like Nazi Germany - would not just stop at Muslims. We are talking about a lot of minorities. This movement is essentially a white extremist movement. What they want is white supremacy because they are calling for ethnic minorities to leave - whether it’s Germany, or Greece, or France, whatever. What they are looking for is essentially go back to a purer Europe. And again we’re going back to the type of narrative that came out of Germany in the 1930’s.
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