Eastern #Europe: The Tyranny of Extremist Political Discourse
By Abdul Aziz Hayoun
Eastern Europe is living in a state of fragmentation, hatred, dissent and violence on the political and social levels, and the increase and revival of extremist thought in all its forms and forms by charging right-wing extremist movements with convulsive thought, raising Nazi slogans anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic and working in an open manner.
The more eastern European countries, especially the member of the European Union, are experiencing interesting democratic growth and remarkable economic growth, the more extremist currents are clearly growing in them, some of which are encapsulated in recognized political frameworks that conceal much of what they believe in from exclusionary right-wing ideologies. Especially vis-à-vis immigrants and Muslims, and some of them are forbidden from codified political practice, but they are accepted and responded to by groups in society, especially young people and those who, for certain backgrounds, hate and hate the other under various pretexts that are not based on logic.
Despite the different names of extremist organizations and the scope of their suspicious fanatic activities, which often make Islam and immigration the focus of their negative preoccupations, they converge in their hatred of immigrants and Islam and focus their literature on chauvinistic national slogans and suspend the country’s failure to solve problems on the foreigner and respond to social aspirations on the growth of immigration This is not correct, because the countries concerned often suffer from demographic problems, the decline in population numbers, and their dire need for labor.
The predominant feature in many eastern European countries is the assumption of government by right-wing parties that shone during the second half of the last decade, promoting false extremist slogans that tickle the emotions of groups with limited education or training and with superficial knowledge of political matters, the nature of international relations and the role of the European Union in the exit These countries are from the tunnel of economic crises and from the tunnel of subservience to former communist ideologies.
Perhaps the choice of some models from Eastern Europe, such as Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Hungary and Greece, stems from the fact that these countries are united by the tyranny of the extremist political discourse directed against immigrants and refugees and the right-wing parties ruling over the governmental management with minor disparities related to the standard of living of the population and the relations of the countries concerned with the institutions of the European Union. , Despite the fact that many of the countries concerned themselves were afflicted by the fire of Nazism in the forties of the last century or from the rule of the Soviet Union until the beginning of the nineties of the last century.
The strange thing is that certain governments from Eastern European countries turn a blind eye to the activity of right-wing extremist currents, including some that raise Nazi anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic slogans and work openly and without embarrassment, and even with the recommendation of some governments with an extremist orientation that is apparent, and their extremist view was the cause of successive conflicts. With the European system, especially Bologna, Hungary and the Czech Republic, which previously enacted “strict” legislation against immigration, immigrants, and other orthodox people, and more than that it rejected even European policies related to immigration and resettlement of immigrants and refugees, without talking about “individual” and sometimes “extremist” practices. Collective “.
Regarding Bologna, the right-wing conservative “Law and Justice” party government and its allies are blamed for its imprint on extremism and its refusal to receive certain immigrants with religious backgrounds while publicly affirming that it favors immigrants from Ukraine for religious and ethnic reasons, while the country is experiencing a significant growth in the country, given the extreme right-wing trends, those extreme right-wing groups Which uses many means openly, to achieve its goals. Among these means, the use of religious discourse, a factor that greatly helped right-wing parties to gain political influence, began to wane relatively after the legislative elections that took place last August, at the height of the epidemic crisis.
Many researchers in local political affairs documented the existence of close ties between the Catholic Church and groups such as the nationalist national movement or the radical national trend and the Polish youth movement, which are chauvinist political trends known for their national aspirations in Bologna, which were during the communist rule a “symbol of intellectual freedom” and worked As a “resistance force against the oppressive regime”.
Rhetoric of the Catholic religion, according to liberal political analysts, is used to encourage “nationalist tendencies” and “tickle national sentiments and prove a pure national identity.” Although many followers of far-right groups are not really those who embrace the Christian religion, they feel a spirit. The empowerment offered by the church in general.
In 2015, the conservative Law and Justice Party came to power in Bologna, driven in part by its anti-immigration and anti-immigrant policies, which helped other right-wing political parties across Europe to power. Since then, the November 11 marches, which commemorate Poland’s liberation from imperial rule in 1918, have become “a symbol of defense and highlighting national identity,” and in which racist slogans such as “white Europe” and “pure blood” are often raised.
The dream of a “Holocaust for Muslims”
In the twenty-first century, a group that called itself the “Polish Youth” began, which is the name given to an extremist anti-Semitic group that arose in the thirties of the last century. This group started as a small organization that included a few hundred people, but soon it developed in terms of number to join thousands. Especially from the west of the country.
Although Bologna did not witness terrorist acts like a number of European countries, Muslims do not represent significant numbers, nor are there many gathering places for Muslims or a clear appearance of their places of worship; The extreme religious right in Bologna insists on hostility to Muslims and the outright call and public incitement to practice violence against them, and even calls for a Holocaust action for Muslims similar to the Holocaust, which provides compelling evidence that the hostility of the extreme religious right in the West towards Muslims is hostility without a mental justification nor It is linked to a threat from some Muslims and not the practices of a number of terrorist organizations. Rather, it is hostility largely resulting from a racist discourse claiming the purity of the white citizen and his distinction from other races.
In this context, the Islamophobia Observatory of the Egyptian Dar al-Ifta confirmed that the calls of the extreme religious right in the West represent one of the most important tributaries of terrorist recruitment in Europe and outside it, and European countries must be aware that leaving the space for the religious right to incite openly against Muslims until the matter reached the call to Establishing a holocaust for them is unacceptable and threatens dire consequences for which there is no beneficiary except for terrorist organizations and their right-wing extremists in Europe.
“Greater Hungary” on anti-Semitism
What is said about Bologna is also said about Hungary, and the evidence is that many civil organizations warned against the indulgence of the European Union institutions with the tendency of many nationalist currents towards extremism and the rise of the extreme right in the political and social scene, and the consolidation of its control over the government in many eastern European countries, which is what Urging civil organizations to demand the development of a strategy to contain this rise and prevent it from advancing towards more decision-making centers in the centers of government and institutions of the countries concerned.
Progressive circles in Hungary, political, social and professional, are calling for the European Commission to adopt strict measures regarding the right-wing parties ruling in Hungary against limiting the independence of the judicial system and the country’s refusal to adopt the main pillars of immigration and asylum policy in the European Union.
Hungarian political analyst Tadush Puska points to the growing concern of the political and social forces that are active in Hungary and in other countries of the European Union, in order to maintain a system based on the rule of law, independence of the judiciary and freedom of the press, adding, “But the overwhelming and repeated victory achieved by the forces “In the recent elections in Hungary, the far-right makes things more complicated with regard to the possibility of intervention by the European Commission.”
It should be recalled here that the arrival of von der Leyen to the Presidency of the European Commission came thanks to the strong objection from Hungary and Poland to the candidacy of the Dutch Franz Timmermans, who was one of the most enthusiastic about the activation of Article 7 of the European Union Treaty, which provides for the punishment of member states that violate the basic values of the Union The European Union encourages extremism and does not operate on the principle of the rule of law.
The content of the official speech of the ruling parties in Hungary remains behind the rise of the extreme right, which raises the slogan “Greater Hungary, the unification of the nation, hostility against the Roma minority, anti-Semitism, and distrust of the West.”
The Hungarian extreme right came into the spotlight again, after the ultra-nationalist “Hungarian Legion” group vandalized a Jewish community center in Budapest, at the end of October of 2019, during a nationalist march in the capital’s center to revive the 1956 Hungarian uprising against the occupation Soviet. Although the attack did not result in any casualties, neo-Nazis placed posters on the building and burned a rainbow flag in the entrance.
This was not the first attack of its kind by the far-right in Hungary, and “Legion Hungary” is not the only far-right organization, and the attacks do not target Jews only, but also immigrants, those with liberal ideas and Roma minorities.
The far right in Hungary can be classified as anti-liberal, anti-Western, anti-globalization, anti-Semitic, and xenophobic in general. This is not a new phenomenon. Since the 1990s, the far right has represented between 10% and 15% of the electorate.
It should be noted that the Hungarian “Justice and Life” Party, a contemporary nationalist movement that began in 1993, supports the idea of a Greater Hungary, including the areas where Hungarians live in Slovakia, Romania, Ukraine, Serbia and Croatia, and this grievance goes back to the Treaty of Trianon in 1920 that Hungarian lands were reduced by two-thirds, leaving a quarter of the Hungarian population outside the borders of their homeland. Hence the support of far-right groups for Hungarian minorities living in other countries, although this is not a justification for adopting hate speech against non-Hungarians or ethnic minorities.
The largest far-right party in Hungary is Jobbik, which is strongly opposed to mass immigration but is not necessarily hostile to Muslims, unlike many other far-right groups in Europe. Interestingly, Gabor Vona, the former leader of Jobbik, considers Islam the last wall against globalization and liberalism. He even called for the renewal of the Turkish-Hungarian friendship in order to build a strong alternative against the West. Although the party was founded in 2003, it became involved in politics more broadly in 2006, calling for strong protests against the “corrupt” leaders of the post-communist era. And calls for his supporters to resist communism and the Roma minority.
The “Hungarian Guard” in Hungary, a war against the Roma
The Hungarian Prime Minister and leader of the right-wing “Fides” party, Viktor Orban, sought, at least publicly, to integrate the Roma, who were the main beneficiaries of the government’s policy towards minorities. As a result, the government condemned the violence against the Roma and the police presence was intensified in areas where anti-Roma riots were taking place. In response, Jobbik formed a paramilitary group called the “Hungarian Guard”, which carried out attacks against Roma, and thousands of people joined this group. However, the group was dissolved by a court decision in 2008.
Shortly thereafter, a group called the “New Guard” was formed and in 2010, Gabor Vona, who had become a member of the government, was seen wearing the “guard” uniform at a parliamentary inauguration. This situation lasted until 2011, when all regular civilian patrols were banned, and stirring up public sentiment by spreading fear became a crime punishable by law with up to two years in prison. However, this wasn’t enough to completely get rid of the periodicals.
The “neo-Nazis” in the Czech Republic
As for nationalist extremism in the Czech Republic, the matter began with the “Sudeten German” uprising in 1938, the subsequent Nazi occupation of the country, the communist takeover of power after the war, and the wave of violence by right-wing extremists in 1990 that claimed dozens of lives.
The Czech government still faces many important challenges in the field of extremism and combating it. With the decline in the traditional forms of left and right extremism in recent years, other forms of extremism have emerged, hostile to Muslims in particular, whose number is growing from year to year.
To be sure, right-wing extremism has led to the largest rates of violence in the post-communist Czech Republic, yet the level of direct physical violence has decreased dramatically in the second decade of the new millennium, compared with the 1990s and 2000s. During these two decades, gangs of racist skinheads attacked politicians and another group of their racist enemies, killing about 30 people, most of them Roma and immigrants.
The neo-Nazis in the Czech Republic between 2009 and 2013, according to media reports that addressed issues of extremism in the country, a wave of anti-Roma riots, in order for the police to protect Roma settlements against the violent crowds in which many local citizens participated, as there were a number of deliberate attacks against Gypsy homes of that period.
This incident led to a strong reaction from the authorities, who worked to demolish the foundations of the neo-Nazis, including the “Blood and Honor Kumba 18” group, which attacked the Roma in 2011.
With the onset of the migration crisis in 2015, a new group of right-wing extremist groups emerged, albeit in a relatively limited fashion. However, the explosive growth in hate speech and threats to political opponents on the Internet raised alarm from a democratic point of view. Anti-Islam manifestations prevailed, even though the Czech Republic is home to more than 20,000 Muslims.
In parallel, various right-wing organizations tried to attract members of society against the European Union – most of them due to European immigration policy, and disputes over relations with Russia and China -, and sporadic incidents of violence occurred.
In the same context, individual cases of violence in the country can be linked to left-wing, environmental or national extremism, and the Turkish-Kurdish violent conflict does not rule out its impact on the Czech lands.
The general situation of the Czech Republic may be “calm” compared to the high levels of violence in some regions of eastern and central Europe. However, tensions between members of society and the emergence of right-wing extremist groups can lead to violent and dangerous events in the future, and this is what pushed the republic to develop Its capabilities in the face of extremism.
The “right sector” in Ukraine, organized bullying
In Ukraine, the country looking to join the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and floundering in the economic crises and massive immigration of its citizens, many dangerous right-wing organizations have emerged, including in particular what is known as the extremist nationalist “right sector” organization, whose leader Dmitry had previously called Yarosh removes the president and dissolves parliament and government for their inability to “build a national Ukraine”.
Dmitry Yarosh, who has become a “national model” for far-right extremists, considered that what is required in the country is to establish institutions and build a new and specific system for the state in order to protect its nationalism.
At the beginning of the second half of the last decade, elements of the extreme Ukrainian “right sector”, which is considered a faction of organizations representing the extreme wing of the Ukrainian Nationalist Movement, participated in clashes with the police and seized government buildings in Kiev and other Ukrainian cities, and participated in the suppression of protests in the east. The country is against the population that rejected the coup in 2014, and in January 2015 some European countries included the “right sector” in the list of extremist organizations banned on their lands.
Many Ukrainian analysts believed that extremist political activities in Ukraine had turned into a form of “organized thuggery” by force of arms carried by these elements, and described their activities as a terrorist act.
“Golden Dawn”, the first for the far-right in Greece
Regarding Greece, there are those who considered the growth of extremist organizations hostile to immigrants and others, that history is repeating itself, and those who follow internal affairs wondered whether the rise of the “golden dawn”, semi-fascist movement, in Greece, was like a thunderbolt, or was it a normal thing, and all there is to it is that Float to the roof? The story of the Greek far-right goes back to the 1920s, when the first fascist organizations began to appear in various forms, and were mostly active at the local level only, without being able to achieve a breakthrough at the national level. In 1936, Ioannis Metaxas imposed a dictatorial regime, exercising censorship, repression, and arrests, and then many of these organizations were banned.
During the Axis Powers’ occupation of Greece during World War II, what is known as the “Security Brigades Initiative”, which was established by the occupation government in 1943, appeared, and those brigades cooperated with the occupation army against the resistance.
In the aftermath of the war, some new groups appeared in the 1960s, such as the “Social Organization of Patriotic Students” or the “Holy League of Greek Officers”, which paved the way for the imposition of the military dictatorship of General George Papadopoulos in 1967. The regime of generals lasted for seven years, and ended after the invasion The Turkish anti-Cyprus government in the summer of 1974, which left little room for far-right organizations to act.
Greek academic political research indicates that although the end of the dictatorship left some nostalgia for the junta, for many years it did not receive much support. The researchers pointed out that signs of the rise of the extreme right began to emerge over the past decade, with the growing strength of the “Orthodox Popular Rally” party led by George Karatzafris, and its participation in Papademos’ government in late 2011. The party took advantage of the fact that some democratic parties did not isolate it in time, Rather, she decided to cooperate with him in pursuit of her interests. The Orthodox Rally Party was the first of these movements to succeed in establishing itself in the political establishment, but Karatzafris’s decision to support Papademos’s government proved that it had dire consequences for the party’s future. This support led to the withdrawal of support from it, and its transfer to the “Golden Dawn” party.
Racial extremism … the threat looming in Europe
The “Golden Dawn” movement appeared for the first time in the eighties, and its name was associated with violence against and persecution of ethnic minorities, and at the same time it showed its frank admiration for authoritarian regimes in the recent past of Greece. With the arrival of the “Golden Dawn” party to the Greek Parliament, a feeling of danger began to flow about the quality of democracy in Greece, and its repercussions not only on the established political system, but also on the basic democratic framework of the state.
Various political analyzes in Greece confirm that the “golden dawn” is not a sudden or new phenomenon, but rather part of a historical series of manifestations of the extreme right in Greece, and the rise of the movement is linked to the social and economic context, the fluctuations and changes that created a window for the party, which is the economic crisis And the political crisis, the growth of ideological initiatives, and the refugee crisis.
According to the source, the “Golden Dawn” movement was able to use the feelings of frustration of citizens against the stable rulers of the political establishment, and protested against the austerity measures imposed by the European Troika group, as well as exploiting the growing feelings of fear and anger about the chaos inflicted in Greece by the waves of refugees.
Even now, while the party / movement itself has lost its support for various reasons, the basic conditions that fueled the far-right scene in the country remain. The Greek analysts said that the lesson learned from the Greek case is that although the extremist organization has become a “pariah”, the extreme right has maintained its strength enough to enter parliament, and is showing no signs of leaving the arena.
Faced with these models that reflect the reality of racist right-wing extremism in many countries of Eastern Europe, it can be asserted that the continuous pursuit of laying the foundations of democratic structures cannot put a break with extremist discourses, and perhaps it would be better to bet on correct education and awareness and confronting extremists with the necessary security and legislative force and not Tolerance with them, whatever the justifications.