By Enrique Tessieri
We are seeing today how the impact of the killings in Norway have placed the far right and right-wing populist parties under greater scrutiny. If these parties are now forced to tone down their anti-immigration message that fueled their rise, will greater scrutiny dull their most powerful weapon and weaken them in the end?
Over a week and a half after the horrific events that gripped Norway, there is evidence that a clear shift has taken place in the debate over immigration and Islam.
The change is significant considering how radical right parties before 22/7 saw no end to their growth thanks to their diatribe rhetoric against immigrants and Islam.
In Finland it has rudely awoken some parties out of their deep sleep of denial over the menace of the radical right especially after the election victory of the Perussuomalaiset (PS) party on April 17.
Social Democratic Party secretary Mikael Junger openly challenged PS MP Jussi Halla-aho to step down as chairman of the administration committee, whose responsibilities include among other matters immigration policy.
Reaction in Europe has been similar, according to the International Herald Tribune. “Most of Europe’s right-wing parties have condemned the actions of Anders Behring Breivik… whose lawyer says is probably insane. Sill, politicians have begun to question inflammatory oratory in the debate over immigrants that has helped fuel the rise of right-leaning politicians across Europe in recent years.”
In Finland, PS MP James Hirviisari, Halla-aho’s crude alter ego, suggests that a failed immigration and multicultural policy explain why Breivik went on the rampage.
In a thread under his Uusi Suomi blog entry, Norjan verilöyly (Norway’s bloodbath), he offers an explanation why Anders Behring Breivik snapped and started his mass killings. “I really am not surprised that something like this could happen in Norway. In the last years at least ALL (100%) of tens of those accused of violent rapes have been caused by immigrants/foreigners that have come from outside Europe.”
Sensible people in Finland and Europe understand that anti-immigration and anti-Islam groups pose today a threat to our democratic way of life. Breivik is a case in point.
There is a danger that pushing Halla-aho and his Counter-Jihad followers to a corner could weaken PS MP Timo Soini and force the party to take a more radical line against the EU and immigration.
On the other hand, it may well be that we are finally acknowledging and seeing the real face of the PS that we have not wanted to see thanks to our silence.
All that has now changed after 22/7.