Tag Archives: Islamophobia

Far-Right Parties and Mainstream Media Declare War on Europe’s Muslims

this is a disturbing text on far right parties and the mainstream media who are declaring war on the muslim population in western european. interesting discussion of the sweden democrats and the spreading of not only islamophobia but also violence as a result of it in Alternate.
The text is posted below worth reading!
How rising far-right parties are bringing the Islamophobic terrorist Breivik’s chilling vision to life.

When the 20-year-old Eritrean Muslim refugee Khaled Idris Behray was found dead in the German city of Dresden with contusions and signs of stabbing all over his body, the local police immediately declared no signs of foul play. According the haphazard police report, Behray died from unknown causes. Days later, Dresden police have been forced to concede that Behray was stabbed to death, though the perpetrators are still on the loose.

Behray’s murder occurred the day after thousands of followers of a newfangled German group called the Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the Occident, or PEGIDA, rallied in Dresden. Drawing from the ranks of the working and middle class across Germany, but particularly in the economically struggling cities of the former East Germany, the movement that claims to defend Christian Western civilization against the advance of Islam. Even as its founder, Lutz Bachmann, has been forced to resign from his leadership role for photographing himself impersonating Adolph Hitler, PEGIDA is beginning to influence the German debate in a way far-right extremists in the country could have never have imagined just a year ago.

To be sure, Muslims aren’t the only target of the PEGIDA supporters, who gather weekly by thousands. The group’s leadership also spreads hatred towards migrants and refugees of other religions and cultures. Average PEGIDA demonstrators do not only express their “worries“ towards Islam (“We don’t want Sharia“ or “They are all terrorists“ are what you hear often from them), they also point out that the “migration flood“ has to stop and that refugees are not welcomed. Statements like this sound more absurd if you consider that in German cities like Dresden, where the right-wing movement started, just 8.2 percent of the population are immigrants while only 0.1 percent of Dresden residents are Muslim.

The situation in other European countries is at least as severe as in Germany. In neighboring Austria, you will not find an extreme right-winged political party in the German parliament, but political life in Austria is strongly affected by the FPÖ (Austria’s Freedom Party), which was founded after World War II by former Nazi politicians. Today, the party is well-known for spreading hatred against Muslims, refugees and immigrants. Heinz-Christian Strache, the party’s current leader, often prefers to pose with a crucifix while claiming that Austria and Europe have to defend itself against a new “Ottoman siege,” a reference to the siege of Vienna by the Ottoman empire that occurred hundreds of years ago. (The Islamophobic blog, “Gates of Vienna,” was a key intellectual influence on Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian white extremist who killed over 70 innocent people at a Labor Party-run youth camp in Utoya).

During the last elections, every fourth Austrian voter cast ballots for the FPÖ. And in the last months and weeks, Muslim women were attacked on streets or in the metro stations around Vienna while mosques were smeared with swastikas. Now, the conservative Austrian government wants to enact a new “Islam law“ which forbids Islamic organizations inside Austria to receive foreign money. The law evinces a clear double standard, as it focuses on Muslims while ignoring non-Muslim organizations and it has been described as “racist“ or “undemocratic.“ Austrian politicians like Sebastian Kurz, the country’s foreign minister, even demanded an official, state-funded translation of the Quran, infuriating the Muslim community, which considers any version of the Quran in a language other than Arabic to be an interpretation of the word God, not a “translation.”

In a recent interview, Dudu Kücükgöl of Austria’s Muslim Youth organization said that the attacks on Muslim women have been influenced by “the undifferentiated coverage regarding the rise of the “Islamic State” (IS). The hatred towards Muslims in Austria has grown much, too much”, Kücükgöl complained.

This December, unknown assailants used pepper spray to attack a Muslim kindergarten in Vienna. Twenty children struggled for air while they lay on the ground. Police have still not identified the suspects, raising questions about the infiltration of the far-right in the ranks of Austrian law enforcement. Not only does the FPÖ enjoy strong support from Austrian police, a number of cops posed in election posters for the extremist party.

In nearby Netherlands, the PVV (Party of Freedom) of Geert Wilders is dominating the political debate regarding Islam, migrants and refugees. Wilders, who may be the world’s most well known and influential Islamophobe, and who has risen from obscurity almost entirely on the basis of his anti-Muslim politics, has often repeated that the Quran has to be banned. He has gone as far as comparing it with Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”. Despite his rabidly Islamophobic rhetoric, or perhaps because of it, Wilders and his party have become a force to be reckoned with in Dutch politics. Efforts to prosecute Wilders for hate speech have only backfired, as advocates of “freedom of expression” including groups set up by the European far-right have successfully cast him as a martyr of free speech.

This Christmas was open season on Muslim immigrants in Sweden, where a mosque filled with worshippers was firebombed, injuring at least five. A few days later, another mosque in Sweden was attacked, and then another on New Years. The assault on three mosques in three weeks suggests a level of far-right coordination which is unprecedented and aimed entirely at a single, widely demonized group.

The attacks on Swedish Muslims have grown in direct proportion to the popularity of a far-right party called the Swedish Democrats, who became the third strongest party of the parliament after the last elections with 13% of the vote. Meanwhile, assaults on mosques have also increased in Germany and Austria, with mostly right-winged culprits vandalizing mosque walls with Nazi symbols or throwing pig heads inside. As the ghosts of Europe resurface, the police and other state-run institutions in these countries remain curiously reluctant to discuss the attacks as an explicitly Islamophobic phenomenon.

Institutionalized racism and Islamophobia

The current events in Europe are not a surprise. PEGIDA and similar right-winged movements and political parties are a result of institutionalized racism and Islamophobia. The role of German media regarding PEGIDA is notable. Well-known mainstream news magazines like “Der Spiegel” or “Focus” are primary culprits, especially against Islam and Muslim migrants. For years, the magazines have run Islamophobic headlines like “Mecca Germany – The Silent Islamization” (Der Spiegel), “Scary Guests” (Focus) or “Allah’s Rightless Daughters” (Der Spiegel). These widely respected publications routinely feature front page photos or some faceless, Burqa-clad woman or an angry looking, bearded young men. On occasion, the angry young man appears in a hoodie, a symbol of urban discontentment that German conservatives identify with crime, terror and the destruction of the “traditional” way of life.

By far, Germany’s leading news source promoting Islamophobia, racism and hatred towards migrants and refugees is Die Bild, one of the world’s most high-circulated tabloids. The paper is owned by neoconservative Axel Springer SE, an aggressive support of Israeli and American foreign policies who acts as a German version of Rupert Murdoch. As rallies raged across Europe against Israel’s military assault on the besieged Gaza Strip, Bild initiated a public campaign to stain Palestine solidarity activism as a form of anti-Semitism. The paper declared: “Jew hatred – Never again!” A few days after the the demonstrations, Bild published an explicitly Islamophobic article in which the author, Nicolaus Fest, called Islam an “migration barrier” and added that most criminals are migrants with Muslim backgrounds who bear an endemic hated of women and homosexuals. Fest’s rant was so overheated that even a few Bild staffers felt compelled to distance themselves from it.

The case of Ramsis Kilani highlights Bild’s double standards in blinding relief. Born and raised in Germany, Kilani lost his family during Israel’s attack in Gaza this summer. Ibrahim Kilani, who married a second time and moved to Gaza few years ago, had been killed together with his wife and his children after the IDF bombed their housing block. Although all of them were citizens of Germany, Ramsis, his mother and his sister only learned about the mass murder through social media. Germany’s mainstream media seemed to have studiously avoided reporting on the atrocity that slaughtered an entire family of Germans who happened to be of the wrong religion and ethnicity. Following public pressure, a few papers published accounts of the killing and ultimately, even Bild interviewed Ramsis Kilani. Yet the paper never published the story. Instead, it ran a giant and entirely sympathetic spread on Israeli soldiers killed by Hamas fighters during the invasion of Gaza.

The German government has not mentioned the death of the Kilani family until recently. “Migrants like us are second-class citizens in Germany”, says Kilani, whose family even did not get an official condolence. The young German-Palestinian has campaigned to spread the facts regarding the Israeli occupation of Palestine across his country, but to little avail. For his public crusade to educate Germans about the plight of Palestinians and for his activism on behalf of migrants, he has become a target of PEGIDA followers. “Right-winged trolls contacted me regularly and called my murdered father an ‘Islamic terrorist’ and his wife a ‘birthing machine,’” Kilani told me. Like many other young and educated Germans with “foreign roots,” Kilani is considering leaving the country of his birth one day if the situation continues to deteriorate.

Spreading hatred behind the Israeli flag

It is not a coincidence that media outlets that take a pro Israel line and rail against anti-Semitism play a significant role in spreading hatred towards migrants and Muslims. Right-winged parties like the Austrian FPÖ have discovered that it is much easier for them to spread their hatred beneath pro-Israel cover. For instance, the FPÖ made it clear that “supporting the Jewish State against Islamism” has become one of their new political pillars. Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s National Front, has learned the same lesson, scrapping her father’s overt anti-Semitism and opposition to Europe’s special relationship with Israel and replacing it with an aggressively neoconservative outlook. In turn, she has attracted support from right-wing French Jews and cultivated a mainstream appeal her father could have only dreamed. But the seething racism that was a hallmark of her father’s politics remains firmly entrenched in the platform of her National Front.

Geert Wilders and his Party of Freedom were among the leaders of the European far-right’s alliance with Israel’s rightist Likud. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post’s Benjamin Weinthal, an American neoconservative operative funded by right-wing billionaire Sheldon Adelson, Wilders declared that Israel is the “only light of democracy in the Middle East”. He then demanded that the European Union and the United States stand by Israel’s side in the clash of civilizations — a war pitting the 
“Judeo-Christian” West against Islam. Wilders declared that the name of the state of Palestine should be changed to “Jordan,” suggesting that Palestinians either be forcibly expelled from their homes or stripped of national identity. In 2014, Wilders agitated unsuccessfully but flamboyantly for a commemoration for former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in the Dutch parliament.

The rise of movements like Pegida and the far-right surge across Europe is the fulfillment of the vision Anders Breivik laid out in his 1500 page manifesto. Breivik fancied himself as the eventual commander of a continent-wide movement to guard Europe against the multiculturalist onslaught, waging war through politics and paramilitary means against the liberal elements he described as “Cultural Marxists” and of course, against the barbarian hordes washing up on the gilded shores of Christian Europe. Breivik claimed that he carried out his attacks with accomplices and that he left behind sleeper cells of Islamophobic activists ready to carry out his plan while he languished behind bars. Breivik was himself influenced by a wide array of hardline American right-wingers from Daniel Pipes to Robert Spencer, and quoted at the length the work of the German neoconservative author Henryk Broder.

Broder writes mostly for “Die Welt,” a paper described as the “BILD for intellectuals” which also belongs to the the Axel Springer SE empire. Puffed in the neoconservative Tablet Magazine as a curmudgeonly “satirist and gadfly” who represents “Germany’s most annoying Jew,” Broder is in fact a key actor in the constellation of anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian forces across Europe. Broder maintains close ties to the right-wing Simon Wiesenthal Center, which is known for its annual list of “Anti-Semitic/Anti-Israel Slurs.” (Alternet editor Max Blumenthal and frequent contributor David Sheen made the #4 slot on this year’s list, though the Wiesenthal Center failed to explain how the two Jews’ behavior was in any way anti-Jewish). In 2012, Broder convinced the Weisenthal Center to name the famed German journalist and left-wing publisher, as the world’s ninth biggest anti-Semite. The public denigration of such an esteemed figure highlighted the sense of inviolability and arrogance that had come to characterize the pro-Israel forces who influenced German politics on left, right and center.

During the past week, mainstream media outlets have described the Charlie Hebdo massacre as “the worst terror attack on European soil.” Of course, Breivik was a terrorist who killed 77 innocent people — 65 more than the Islamic extremists who murdered the staff of Charlie Hebdo. But the characterization is no accident. Indeed, Western media outlets and politicians prefer to not view Breivik as just another white, psychopathic mass murderer while reserving the highly subjective term “terrorist” for swarthy people from Muslim backgrounds. Thus they obscure the role Breivik played in galvanizing the resurgence of Europe’s far-right and ignore the inspiration he drew from an established and well-funded global network of Islamophobes.

If the Western intellectual class wants answers on the radicalization sweeping across Europe, it can start by looking in the mirror and examining its own pale reflection.


This map shows every attack on French Muslims since Charlie Hebdo

Since the terrorist attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the country’s Muslim community, despite universally and repeatedly condemning the attack, has come under a wave of misguided “reprisal” attacks.

The attacks are being mapped by a respected British anti-Islamophobia group, Tell MAMA UK (MAMA stands for measuring anti-Muslim attacks). This map details the incidents since they began, mere hours after the Charlie Hebdo attack:

Attacks on French Muslims from January 6 to January 10 (Tell MAMA UK)

Attacks on French Muslims from January 6 to January 10 (Tell MAMA UK)

According to reports by AFP and others, the attacks have included:

  • Three training grenades thrown at a mosque in Le Man; a bullet hole was also found in one of the mosque windows
  • A bomb blast at a restaurant adjacent to and associated with a mosque in Villefranche-sur-Saone
  • Gunshots fired at a mosque in Port-la-Nouvelle
  • A boar’s head and entrails were left outside an Islamic prayer center in Corsica with a note: “Next time it will be one of your heads.”

The attacks have been relatively small-scale, especially compared to the Charlie Hebdo massacre and subsequent violence committed by its apparent culprits. The only serious harm so far came from a gang assaulting a 17-year-old of North African descent. But these incidents point to a long-worsening trend of hostility in France toward the country’s Muslim minority, which makes up an estimated eight to 10 percent of the population, and a sense among French Muslims that they are not welcome.

The apparent logic of the mosque attacks badly misunderstands the initial Charlie Hebdo attack: if it was carried out by al-Qaeda-linked extremists, as early reports suggest, then this is a group that has made fellow Muslims its primary victims.

Further, such attacks play directly into al-Qaeda’s own logic and agenda, treating the act of few fringe extremists as representative of the non-extremist whole, and fomenting the idea of existential conflict between non-Muslims and Muslims where none actually exists.

It’s important to understand, though, that these attacks and the sentiment behind them did not come from nowhere. French attitudes toward Islam are, to say the least, complex — something evidenced at every stage of this story.

The growth of France’s Muslim population has led to deep concern about what that means for France’s secular traditions. The government banned head scarves and other religious symbols from public schools in 2004. In 2014, they banned concealing one’s face in public — a ban widely seen as targeting burqas and niqabs and suggesting that devout Muslim women were unwelcome in public life.

Of course, a ban on Muslim head coverings is nowhere near the same things as this spate of anti-Muslim violence, but both are rooted in a similar hostility toward Islam and Muslim immigrants in France, and contribute to the sense of siege among French Muslims.


Who attacked Charlie Hebdo?

French police have identified two suspects: Saïd Kouachi, 34, and his brother Chérif Kouachi, 32, both from Paris. A third man, Hamyd Mourad, 18, is from Reims. Mourad reportedly turned himself in at a police station near the France-Belgium border after his name began to circulate on social media, according to the New York Times.

The Kouachis have some prior links to international terrorism, though it’s not yet known if their attack was planned or funded by al-Qaeda or any other group.

The Kouachi brothers fled to an industrial building in Dammartin-en-Goele, a village outside of Paris, where they took a hostage. Police were initially put on their trail by an identity card left in a car the alleged shooters used, according to Le Monde. After a brief standoff, police raided the building, and both brothers were killed.

Before the Charles Hebdo attack, Chérif Kouachi was an active member of a cell known as the 19th arrondissement network or the Buttes-Chaumont Group, which sent European Muslims to fight in Iraq after the 2003 US-led invasion. Chérif and other key members of the group were arrested in 2005; he was allegedly planning to travel to Iraq, but never got to go. In 2008, he was convicted on terrorism charges but released for time served after his arrest.

In 2010, Chérif was arrested again, this time for trying to break a militant out of prison; The Star reports he was released for lack of evidence. In 2011, Saïd went to Yemen to train with al-Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. According to the New York Times, his training lasted “for a few months” and covered marksmanship and small arms combat.

The alleged gunmen said after the attack that they had “avenged the Prophet Mohammad,” according to witnesses. One witness also told the New York Times, “They spoke perfect French, and claimed to be from Al Qaeda.”



Commentary on Charlie Hebdo International Press

I have assembled a handful of particularly interesting articles  that i have read commenting on the looming political crisis surrounding the tragic events that have unfolded in France.

John Cassidy “Charlier Hebdo and the Clash of Civilisations” for The New Yorker

“A  day on, the terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris continues to shock and outrage. But it has also provoked a show of resolve, in displays of the phrase “Je Suis Charlie,” which was daubed on a statue during a spontaneous demonstration at the Place de la République, and has turned into an instantly recognizable affirmation of the need to preserve freedom of expression, even, and perhaps most vitally, when that freedom empowers some people to satirize and lampoon things that others hold sacred.
On a more mundane and depressing level, the attack has revived some old debates and prejudices that lead down a cul-de-sac. On Twitter, in the hours after the attacks, the phrase #KillAllMuslims was trending for a while (although it should also be noted that some of those tweeting the phrase were doing so only to object to it). Meanwhile, some serious commentators and analysts were raising the old, thorny question about the links, purported or real, between Islam and the violence carried out in its name by fanatical zealots, such as the Kouachi brothers, Chérif and Said, whom French authorities have identified as suspects in the attack.
Echoing Samuel Huntington’s famous warning that “Islam has bloody borders,” Richard Dawkins, the English ethologist and atheist, who wrote the 2006 best-seller “The God Delusion,” wrote on Twitter of the Paris attackers, “They shouted ‘We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad’. . . . Some useful idiot will claim it had nothing to do with religion.” And, subsequently, “No, all religions are NOT equally violent. Some have never been violent, some gave it up centuries ago. One religion conspicuously didn’t.” On the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born writer and activist, wrote, “After the horrific massacre . . . perhaps the West will finally put away its legion of useless tropes trying to deny the relationship between violence and radical Islam.”
Nicholas Kristof text for the New York Times
Jan 7 2015
“The French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo skewers people of all faiths and backgrounds. One cartoon showed rolls of toilet paper marked “Bible,” “Torah” and “Quran,” and the explanation: “In the toilet, all religions.”
Yet when masked gunmen stormed Charlie Hebdo’s offices in Paris on Wednesday with AK-47s, murdering 12 people in the worst terror attack on French soil in decades, many of us assumed immediately that the perpetrators weren’t Christian or Jewish fanatics but more likely Islamic extremists.
Outraged Christians, Jews or atheists might vent frustrations on Facebook or Twitter. Yet it looks as if Islamic extremists once again have expressed their displeasure with bullets.

Many ask, Is there something about Islam that leads inexorably to violence, terrorism and subjugation of women?”

Opinion Piece by Ayan Hirsi Ali
Jan 7 2015
“How to Answer the Paris Terror Attack”

After the horrific massacre Wednesday at the French weekly satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, perhaps the West will finally put away its legion of useless tropes trying to deny the relationship between violence and radical Islam.

This was not an attack by a mentally deranged, lone-wolf gunman. This was not an “un-Islamic” attack by a bunch of thugs—the perpetrators could be heard shouting that they were avenging the Prophet Muhammad. Nor was it spontaneous. It was planned to inflict maximum damage, during a staff meeting, with automatic weapons and a getaway plan. It was designed to sow terror, and in that it has worked.

The West is duly terrified. But it should not be surprised.
More to come later