Islamophobia Watch draws our attention to reports over the weekend of a meeting of far-right groups, including British groups, in Sweden on Saturday. The meeting, which reportedly attracted fewer than 200 people was meant to signal the launch of the first global ‘counter-jihad initiative’.
“A Stockholm rally by European and U.S. far-right groups seeking to create a global "counter-jihad" movement attracted fewer than 200 people on Saturday who were outnumbered by anti-racist protesters.
“Police said the rival demonstration was kept apart from the far-right rally and drew a few hundred people, a small number of whom were detained.
“The far-right rally was organised by groups including the English Defence League (EDL) which has been a driving force behind a handful of similar events, most recently a Danish rally in March.
“Support has grown in European countries for populist, nationalist and anti-immigration movements and in Sweden the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats won seats in parliament for the first time in 2010.”
Commenting on the meeting, Professor Matthew Goodwin an expert on the far-right and author of several reports described the meeting as signifying “the strengthening links between counter-jihad groups and anti-Muslim groups within Europe and the United States”
The leader of the English Defence League, Stephen Lennon told Reuters that the meeting was about sharing resources, ideology and “work[ing] together in any way we can over the next 12 months in order to highlight the truth, the truth about Islam”.
The report adds that “Pamela Geller, a leader of groups Stop Islamization of Nations and Stop Islamization of America, said the movement was planning to hold a conference in New York on September 11.”
The report builds on a picture of a far-right movement with a specific anti-Islam agenda that is attempting to coordinate on a wider regional and international basis. Only last month, a meeting of far right groups was held at the European Parliament, and was attended by the leader of the English Defence League, Stephen Lennon. The violent dimension of the European far right was recently highlighted in a report published by the Institute of Race Relations. What is more, criticism has been charged at Europe’s mainstream political leaders for their failure to tackle anti-Muslim prejudices and in some cases their complicity in encouraging such prejudices through both rhetoric and policy.
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