Le Pen halted in France, but far-right will continue march across UK and Europe

Richard Sudan
Richard Sudan is a London-based writer, political activist, and performance poet. His writing has been published in many prominent publications, including the Independent, the Guardian, Huffington Post and Washington Spectator. He has been a guest speaker at events for different organizations ranging from the University of East London to the People's Assembly covering various topics. His opinion is that the mainstream media has a duty to challenge power, rather than to serve power. Richard has taught writing poetry for performance at Brunel University.
French National Front political party leader Marine Le Pen. © Yves Herman
Last week, the French far-right party headed by Marine Le Pen enjoyed success in the first round of the French elections. By Sunday, the second round of voting had ensured that Le Pen’s far-right party would not take power - this time around anyway.

On the face of it this is good news. Many have applauded the fact that Le Pen was beaten decisively in the second round of voting. The bigger picture however, tells a different story.

To take a step back, and to view France within the context of a wider Europe, the warning signs are nonetheless visible that rampant racism is continuing to spread across Europe. It’s a fire which is spreading rapidly, and rather than stop it, governments and the media are fanning the flames.

France is not alone, but rather part of a Europe which is still reeling from failed neo-liberal austerity at home, and years of failed wars abroad.

This lethal cocktail has provided a fertile breeding ground for far-right extremism. Rather than acknowledge this, the role that governments have played in whipping up frustration at home and abroad, along with Western media have overwhelmingly blamed the cause of Europe’s angst on the people who are also the unwilling recipients of European values abroad, in the form of bombs and military occupation.

Refugees and Muslims did not cause the economic calamity we find ourselves subjected to, nor are they the cause of terrorism. Overwhelmingly they are the victims of both.

Of course so-called Islamic extremism is a very real phenomenon. But while there are many factors which have contributed to the problem, time and time again the media focus on the least significant factor. ISIS, Al Nusra, et al are armed thugs whose only allegiance is money. They receive weapons, training and are able to easily sell the oil from the oil fields they occupy and move freely between states. No one wants to look at the trail of money and material it seems, but rather, focus on religion.

If ISIS are Muslim, and people are happy to refer to them as Muslim along with the terrorists in Paris, then I might as well call myself a giraffe and insist on it, even though people might argue I exhibit none of the characteristics of a giraffe.

For every religious obfuscation offered by the media as proof that ISIS really are Islamic and not just armed mercenaries trying to make a buck, there are just as many Imam’s, Sheikhs and scholars who disagree and offer evidence as to how the actions of ISIS are not representative of Islam.

This should be self-evident, given there are 1.5 billion Muslims around the world who are not detonating bombs in the name of ISIS.

Sadly however this is apparently not obvious to many people. And what do we expect when we are subject to 24 hour news bulletins compounding the myth that Muslims and refugees are to blame for the world’s problems?

It’s hard to take the elections in France as anything other than a warning sign of things to come, despite the fact that Le Pen was not swept to power on this occasion. It looks like her influence is increasing and not diminishing.

One such indication of troubled waters ahead in the UK for example, is the announcement that Tommy Robinson former EDL leader is set to launch the UK arm of Pegida, a German far-right organization which opposes immigration and the so-called ‘Islamification’ of Europe. Its aim however, is redundant because the prognosis of Pegida is factually incorrect. There is no ‘Islamification’ of Europe.

A more accurate description of the last 15 years of Western policy in the Middle East probably flips this charge on its head; if anything, we have been seeing the Europeanization or Balkanization and breakup of Muslim countries.

Regardless, a couple of hundred thousand, or even million people, entering Europe from conflict zones cannot constitute any ‘Islamification’ of Europe. Given Europe’s size, these numbers do not amount to any take over.

In any case, Sharia law applies to Muslims who follow it, and to no one else.

But I daresay that this fact is missed or purposefully overlooked by Tommy Robinson. Robinson has claimed that he will manage Pegida UK which will be headed by front man Tim Scott (assuming that’s his real name).

However, following a recent car crash interview with Channel 4, it was announced that Scott had already resigned his position.

Robinson is determined to launch Pegida UK in February 2016 though, with a March set for Birmingham, and despite his evident buffoonery, he’ll have countless followers ready to take to the streets with their demands which include the banning of Muslims entering the country, echoing the recent sentiments of Donald Trump, and also the banning of Mosques.

We’re not a million miles away from Fascism moving from the street, and into the political mainstream arena. The indications are clear that we are heading in that direction.

Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who is another demagogue known for making a comparison between the Quran and Mein Kampf, has just scooped politician of the year for the third time. He is another populist leader, who, while not having seized the reins of power, is clearly expanding his popularity. He peddles the line that Europe must fight back against the so-called ‘Islamification’ of Europe and sees the solution to the world’s problems as being solvable with stronger borders.

The language used by Wilders and other figures like him suggests they see themselves as leaders of a modern crusade defending Europe from immigrants and refugees.

In reality they are nothing more than political opportunists who would have no platform or limelight were it not for the mistakes of their own governments and the lies in the media accompanying those mistakes.

The political atmosphere in Europe right now bears some chilling parallels to 1930s Europe. It is becoming more and more acceptable to blame the world’s problems on refugees and Muslims. If people were to substitute the word “Muslim” with “Jew” when speaking ill of Muslims as many do casually today, you would literally be listening to Nazi propaganda. People would not accept the slurs toward Jews or other minorities which are currently acceptable to level at Muslims. We must not repeat history with our treatment of refugees and Muslims.

Just as with the rise of fascism in the past we are seeing more and more government’s curtailing freedoms at home, all to keep us safe of course.

Immigration detention centers across the country here in the UK, where people are held and abused with little or no rights are not a million miles away from prison or internments camps.

‘The Jungle’ in Calais, France, is another example of people pushed to the edge, marginalized, forgotten and left to live in squalor at the doorstep of Europe, in refugee camps which look the same as many in Africa or the Middle East.

As the center ground in Europe continues to lurch to the right, ill-treatment towards minorities, refugees, and Muslims is becoming not only more and more acceptable, but also more and more necessary for politicians to gain power.

We need a reversal of European states’ disastrous and hypocritical foreign policy abroad, and a humane policy towards those fleeing conflict zones at home. Building walls, and tightening borders, and slick propaganda can only mask the problem for so long. Fascism is finding more and more friends and support in Europe and the only way to tackle its spread is to challenge the mythology that underpins it head on and without hesitation.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.