Far right groups across Europe are seizing upon the Paris attacks to condemn Islam and vilify refugees. Opponents are concerned the language being used reinforces Islamic State’s own narrative of an epic clash of civilizations.
From Britain First and the UK Independence Party (UKIP) to France’s National Front and Germany’s Pegida, right-wing groups across Europe have used last Friday’s terror attacks to aid their anti-Islam, anti-immigration agendas.
In doing so, several groups have characterized recent events as an ongoing conflict between the West and Islam. Analysts argue this is exactly what Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) wants.
According to retired Foreign Office diplomat Oliver Miles, the terror group aims to incite a Western response they can later define as a ‘crusade.’
“If they can provoke the west into what they will call a crusade they can count on growing support from marginalized Muslims both in the Middle East and in countries such as Britain and France,” he wrote in the Guardian last year.
Since the group began making headlines in 2014, pundits have clashed over the extent to which Islam as a religion can be held responsible for the violence of a fanatical minority.
The Daily Mail
The Daily Mail British tabloid printed a cartoon on Tuesday which many have compared to Nazi propaganda due to its suggestion that refugees entering Europe from the war-torn Middle East are rat-like. The illustration depicts Muslim men and women crossing the border into Europe, some of them carrying guns, with rats scurrying along the ground at their feet. Nazi literature often drew on similar imagery. As Hitler’s minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, wrote in 1940: “Just like rats, the Jews 2,000 years ago moved from the Middle East to Egypt, at that time a flourishing land … In large hordes they migrated from there to the ‘Promised Land,’ flooded the entire Mediterranean region, broke into Spain, France, and Southern Germany.
UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage has led the charge of Britain’s right-wing political establishment by accusing some British Muslims of being “conflicted in their loyalties” between the UK and elements within their religion. Speaking to UKIP supporters on Monday, Farage blamed the failure of multiculturalism for the Paris attacks, arguing that mass immigration has created divisions within the UK, France and “much of the rest of Europe.”
Other groups have been less nuanced in their attack on Muslims. Far-right group Britain First has ramped up its Islamophobia in the wake of the Paris attacks. At least two Facebook posts published since Friday’s atrocities in Paris question the idea that Islam is a “religion of peace” by drawing comparisons with other ‘genuinely peaceful’ religions like Christianity and Judaism.
Founded by disillusioned members of the British National Party (BNP) in 2011, Britain First is notable for its slick social media campaigns, often using internet memes to spread disingenuous and hateful messages.