After the end of the Second World War (1939-1945) and the defeat of Nazism and fascism, Europe promised to never allow a return to such dark and sad periods.
More than 70 years later, the so-called Old Continent worriedly watches the rise of extremist groups, defenders of intolerance, xenophobia, antisemitism and racism, among many other forms of discrimination.
Although they are not comparable to the terror spread by Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, the actions of ultraright groups and their growing surge in several countries are ringing alarm bells and causing fears in the international community which warns about the danger of forgetting a bleak past, in which millions of innocent people were tortured and murdered.
Following the recent European Parliamentary Elections, the outgoing directorate of the community bloc celebrated “the triumph of democracy and of those who want to work hard for Europe” and insisted that the rise of the extreme right had happened in a contained way and to a smaller extent than predicted.
In accordance with preliminary reports, in total, organisations such as National Rally (led by French Marine Le Pen), Matteo Salvini’s Northern League, Alternative for Germany and the Freedom Party of Austria, amount to 73 seats in the new European parliament.
Although these forces remain underneath the predicted figures and do not have the necessary quantity to have a determining role in decision-making, the support gained by them continues to be worrying.
The followers of these beliefs triumphed in nations such as Hungary, Poland, United Kingdom, Italy and France, and threatened to forma a united front, focused on the defence of extremist, racist positions that run contrary to the EU.
Throughout 2018, Germany registered 7,700 crimes based on xenophobia and 1,799 antisemitic acts, quantities above those reported in 2017, according to what a report from the Interior Ministry of this country uncovered.
According to the document, these figures represent an increase of 20% on the previous year and 90% of aggressive acts were carried out by ultraright groups.
According to the headliner of this portfolio, Horst Seehofer, the Federal Criminal Police Office counted 36,062 cases of crimes of a political nature, 20,431 of which were attributed to representatives of the extreme right.
After the disclosure of the data, the main authorities of the country, among them Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Foreign Affairs minister Heiko Maas, expressed their concern and urged battling against this type of violence. In 2018, France registered more than 540 antisemitic acts and the United Kingdom registered 1,652, and many other nations such as the Netherlands and Sweden did not escape the wave of violence.
A recent survey by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights concluded that 89% of citizens of the bloc consider that antisemitism has increased in the last five years and more than a third of Jewish residents in the 28 countries favoured emigrating as they felt unsafe.
In the words of the President of the NGO Movement against Intolerance, Esteban Ibarra, “a dehumanising tsunami is spreading through the Old Continent with many expressions that call into question the democratic values on which the European building was built”.
“Even though the episodes of horror of Nazism and fascism and a new right has broken out with its roots in the past, it returns to the sound of marching, Gypsy persecution, racism, rejection of free sexual orientation and, above all, hate crimes, murders fed by the denial of dignity to the different,” he determined.
At the same time, he warned that those forces were using the horror spread by Jihadist terrorism to increase fear, rejection and attacks on foreigners and religious groups.
“This is the Europe of intolerance that threatens us. The electoral results are more than unnerving and the stage, in general, shows the advance of the far right. There are those who work hard to see immigrants as criminals, Muslims as fanatics or terrorists and the Jews as criminals”, he lamented.
They also try to confront Christians and other denominations or beliefs, feeding the indiscriminate hatred against any collective for their beliefs, nationality, ethnicity, gender or any other differentiating factor.
Simultaneously, it signalled that it is not dealing with a new problem, but with a crisis of values strengthened over decades, against which the EU has not implemented any measures or strict and effective rules.
Many attribute the rise in extremist organisations to the economic situation, the flop of traditional politics, the migratory crisis and many other factors, but nothing justifies the defence of ideologies contrary to respect for human life, for citizens’ rights, tolerance and peaceful co-existence.
Beyond choosing new leaders and defending the European project, the EU is facing the challenge of impeding the rise of criminal groups. (PL)
(Translated by Donna Davison – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)