Officers of Berlin’s Federal Police Department searched the offices of Germany’s extreme right-wing Nationalist Democratic Party (NPD) shortly before Christmas. The search was a reaction to the party’s xenophobic and islamophobic campaign for the Berlin state elections in September. The party used various posters that violated the dignity especially of Muslims living in Germany; one poster, for instance, showed a cartoon drawing of a woman with a headscarf, a man with a turban and a black person on a “magic carpet” with the comment “Have a nice trip home”. Furthermore, the party published an islamophobic video on their website. However, the police search for evidence against the two leading members of the party was not successful.
The search of the party’s offices in Berlin was shortly after the second attempt to ban the party altogether. Following the arrest of a former NPD member suspected of being involved in the murder of nine foreigners, the interior ministers of Germany’s 16 federal states had agreed to set up a working group to launch a new legal case against the party. Germany’s Interior Minister Friedrich explicitly articulated the aim to outlaw the party.
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On Thursday, North London Central mosque (formerly Finsbury Park mosque) was evacuated after a parcel with suspicious white powder and racist/ anti-Islamic messages well as drawings was delivered to the imam of the mosque. Upon receipt, the people at the mosque were concerned that the white powder was anthrax and, therefore, informed the police. After conducting tests, however, the police found the powder to be harmless. Following this incident, the police admitted that it could be linked to a number of other ‘malicious communications’ that were sent to a number of mosques in London and elsewhere in the UK. The police are now investigating, especially in the Far-Right scene.
The far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) has criticized the Austrian national public
broadcaster (ORF)’s documentary program, Am Schauplatz and its producers, Ed Moschitz
and Julia Kovarik, for their recent coverage of a protest against an Islamic centre in Vienna.
The documentary, entitled “The Fear mongers,” follows a pair of right-wing skinheads who
participated in the recent demonstration in Vienna’s Floridsdorf, where the leader of the FPÖ
gave a speech. Moschitz has been accused of biased reporting by the FPÖ, especially following
another report in which skinheads were to be seen attending an FPÖ rally. In response to the
party’s accusation that Moschitz had incited the youths to shout Nazi-slogans, the ORF has made
public all the raw material for the program, in which no such slogans are to be heard.
A French debate on defining the values constituting national identity is sparking controversy amid warnings that the discussions are particularly targeting the Muslim presence. France is home to nearly seven million Muslims, the biggest Muslim minority in Europe. In early November, the French government started a three-month debate on French national identity. Some claim that the debate, championed by President Nicolas Sarkozy, has given new ammunition to the Far Right. Others point to how it has offered a platform for xenophobic views. Sarkozy himself has given a mixed message to the Muslim minority in the country.
“I address my Muslim countrymen to say I will do everything to make them feel they are citizens like any other, enjoying the same rights as all the others to live their faith and practice their religion with the same liberty and dignity,” he said in statement published by Le Monde. “But I also want to tell them that in our country, where Christian civilization has left such a deep trace, where republican values are an integral part of our national identity, everything that could be taken as a challenge to this heritage and its values would condemn to failure the necessary inauguration of a French Islam.”
The minaret ban in Switzerland has had a continentwide response. Even as European human-rights courts began attempts to block the Swiss amendment, extremist politicians across Europe were examining their countries’ laws to see if a similar referendum could be accomplished.
Far-right leaders have emerged from the woodwork in places like the Netherlands to push for similar bans. Yet, of Switzerland’s 400,000 Muslims, representing less than 5 percent of the population, the largest group are of European background, with ancestors from the historically Muslim Balkan countries of southeast Europe – in other words, they are as culturally and historically European as any Christian Swiss citizen.
The extreme right in Belgium have also reacted strongly.
A French court of appeals fined far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen for discrimination, hatred or racial violence for anti-Muslim remarks he made in an interview in Le Monde in 2003. The National Front party leader was ordered to pay 10,000 Euros in fines and 5,000 Euros in damages to the plaintiff, the French League of Human Rights.
A far-right party in the Austrian state of Carinthia, led by the notorious right-wing politician Jorg Haider, is trying to ban the construction of mosques and minarets. They’ve presented a draft law designed to prohibit “unusual” buildings that don’t fit in with traditional architecture. In the latest anti-Islam initiative by right-wing politicians in Austria, the government in the state of Carinthia, which is led by right-wing populist J_rg Haider, has presented a bill that would hinder the future building of mosques in the state.