Why we must challenge anti-immigration parties across Europe

by , under Enrique

A political party that bases its popularity on anti-immigration and populist rhetoric is like playing a risky political game of Russian roulette. The game continues until the only bullet in the revolver goes off in your head. Higher bets are placed each time that the revolver doesn’t fire: more xenophobia, more hate speech, more racist rhetoric, more prejudice…

Read the major headlines of Europe’s main dailies, social media websites and Migrant Tales to understand that we are on a perilous path. Even if we wanted to change our xenophobic ways, some of us have passed the point of no return.

One story that struck me this week happened in Paris, France. A veiled woman was beaten in a bus and later arrested by the police. The victim could be a member of the Romany community in Eastern Europe, anti-Semitism in Denmark, a black minister in Italy, or a Somali refugee in Finland.

Here’s what happened:

“Ms Lamia is a professional caregiver…On June 30 2013, at 6 pm, Lamia takes the bus like any other night to go to work. When an elderly woman gets on the bus, Miss Lamia naturally gives away her seat, but the lady refuses and violently invectives Lamia about her headscarf. Follows a stormy debate: ‘Dirty Arab, go back to your country, you should read the Koran …’ screams the lady. As she is about to get off the bus to go to work, Ms Lamia faces once again the aggressiveness of the old lady. She thinks Lamia is following her, so she shoves Lamia who, this time, replies. At that moment, a tall man comes to Miss Lamia and violently slaps her. She clings to him to hold him while calling for help. It took the intervention of a few people to stop him. Requested by Lamia, the police arrives on the scene and, instead of arresting the aggressor, decides to put Miss Lamia in custody.”

The fact that this still happens in a country like France shows that we have learned very little after about 100 million died in two World Wars. It shows as well that the medicine to treat a serious illness like intolerance is insufficient. It’s like giving aspirin to a patient with terminal cancer.

Here’s another story about the rise in hate crimes against Muslims in France:

Hostility rises when Islam is in the news, for example last year when an Islamist killed seven people or when a politician accused Muslim children of stealing classmates’ snacks, the Committee against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) said. The CCIF welcomed a European Parliament decision on Tuesday to lift the legal immunity of far-right leader Marine Le Pen so she can be tried on racism charges for comparing Muslims praying in the streets here to the wartime Nazi occupation of France. The group said in its annual report (French) that anti-Muslim acts rose to 469 last year, after 298 in 2011 and 188 in 2010. The rise reflected trends cited by other recent reports that also noted increasing levels of anti-Semitism and racism in France.

Check out the weekly headlines by I CARE:

Kosovo Jails Macedonia Mass Murder Suspects
Macedonia: Spate of Anti-Gay Attacks
A Mosque in Reykjavík Threatens Icelandic Culture
Sweden: fall in number of hate crime reports
Council of Europe’s Anti-Racism Commission publishes new report on Finland 
Council of Europe’s Anti-Racism Commission publishes new report on Portugal
Council of Europe’s Anti-Racism Commission publishes new report on San Marino
Polish Jewish leader protests handling of anti-Semitism cases
Islamophobia in the Netherlands
Position of LGBT population in Serbia “improves”
Tipton mosque blast was ‘terrorist attack’, say police (UK)
Newcastle Division’s Lee Patrick wants to gas Muslims (UK)
Harpenden Town Council condemn ‘fake’ Gypsy site notice (UK)
Right-wing extremists launch bid to revive Fascist party (UK)
Disquiet over ‘shameful’ policing of racial violence in Brent (UK)
Veiled woman beaten in a bus in Paris, the police arrests the victim (France)
Anti-Muslim acts rising in France, rights group says
Marine Le Pen expected to face charges for incitement to racial hatred (France)
Islamophobia assaults in Argenteuil (France)
Need for the immediate investigation of homophobic, sexist and racist motives behind two attacks (Cyprus)

The fact that a particular political party, like the Perussuomalaiset (PS), Danish People’s Party, Sweden Democrats and others across Europe, base their  political agenda on anti-immigration rhetoric tells you that they are playing with fire and are one of the main causes of the cancer spreading throughout Europe.

There’s still time to tackle the biggest threat to our societies today, which is right-wing anti-immigration populist ideology, and wake up those who pay homage to them with their silence.