Neo-fascism and neo-Nazism in the EU condemned

Neo-fascism and neo-Nazism in the EU
© iStock/duncan1890

The European Parliament expressed its concern on Thursday about the rise of neo-fascism and neo-Nazism in the EU, encouraging Member States to ban far right groups in order to prevent the normalisation of racism, fascism and xenophobia.

MEPs passed a resolution denouncing the lack of action by Member States against neo-fascism and neo-Nazism in the EU, which they said had contributed to a rising trend of Europe-wide xenophobia. The resolution referenced the 2011 mass shooting committed by white supremacist Anders Breivik; the 2016 murder of British MP Jo Cox by a man with links to the National Front and the English Defence League; and the violent attack by Italian fascist group CasaPound on an anti-racism demonstration in Bari in September 2018, which left MEP Eleonora Forenza and her assistant badly injured.

The impunity with which far right and neo-Nazi groups, even those which condone or endorse violence, are allowed to operate in some Member States is one of the factors behind the documented rise in violence against minority groups and formalised neo-fascism and neo-Nazism in the EU, it was argued. Some politicians and public figures court the approval of the “alt-right”; and the rise of populist parties in Member States campaigning on subtly racist platforms has been condemned by Human Rights Watch.

Prominent white supremacist Steve Bannon has spent much of 2018 establishing The Movement, a foundation to support right-wing and populist parties in the upcoming 2019 European Parliament elections, claiming to have been inspired by Brexit campaigner and seven-time prospective MP Nigel Farage. The foundation, which has been viewed as a tacit endorsement of neo-fascism and neo-Nazism in the EU, has attracted interest from Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

MEPs recommended that Member States “effectively ban neo-fascist and neo-Nazi groups and any other foundation or association that exalts and glorifies Nazism and fascism”. They proposed establishing dedicated anti-hate crime units in police forces, to ensure the investigation and prosecution of such crimes; and urged Member States to “clearly condemn and sanction” hate speech and hate crime, saying tolerance of hate crimes normalised and reinforced violence, neo-fascism and neo-Nazism in the EU.

The resolution also made reference to football clubs, saying sports federations must do more to combat racist chants and attacks in sports stadia; both by punishing those responsible and by encouraging positivity in sport for young fans. MEPs emphasised the importance of education to dissuade young people from falling into neo-Nazi mentalities, saying youth awareness of the history of fascism and the Holocaust needed to be increased to reduce uptake of neo-fascism and neo-Nazism in the EU; and called for “exit programmes” in EU countries to help individuals leave neofascist and neo-Nazi groups.

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