• This article argues that similarities between jihadism and far-right radicalism are increasing, particularly with regard to the spectacularisation of violence. Spectacularisation means representing and performing violence in the form of a show, for instance through live-streaming, with a renewed emphasis on captivating symbols and much less attention paid to the ideological foundations on which the radical project is supposed to rely. After the March 2019 shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, the spectacularisation of racist, anti-Islamic and anti-Semitic violence increased, thus consolidating that event as a turning point in the evolution of the contemporary far right and the history of jihadism—which has far-right affinities. Lured by the performance of violence, the number of contemporary far-right sympathisers is steadily growing in a virtual environment that closely resembles that of jihadists, where patterns and mechanisms of online recruitment and grooming are proliferating.

    Read the full article of the June 2020 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.

    Sara Brzuszkiewic Extremism

    Sara Brzuszkiewic

    Jihadism and Far-Right Extremism: Shared Attributes With Regard to Violence Spectacularisation

    Blog

    30 Jul 2020

  • 1. France and Europe are still troubled by political extremism and populism

    And also by a growing hostility towards traditional institutions. Traditional political parties and politicians were and are afraid to address the problems which worry people the most. The reason for it is that their resolution is usually painful. Some leaders are afraid that embracing such solutions would cost them voters’ support. However, the failure to address those problems strengthens the extremists, and standard politicians lose ground anyway. It is imperative to break this vicious circle. This can only be achieved through undertaking concrete actions, and delivering concrete results.

    2. France suffers from massive youth unemployment, but also from illegal immigration

    Whereas, when addressing economic problems, the President needs the involvement of parliament (key reforms have generally the form of laws), this is much less the case in the area of security. The President can act with a relatively high degree of autonomy, regardless of the outcome of the June parliamentary elections and the September elections for the Senate.

    3. Immigration from Africa is mainly Europe’s problem

    Europe will have to deal with massive migration waves of people from Africa; they are heading mainly towards Europe, and will continue do so also in the future. Allegedly, 30% of inhabitants of sub-Saharan Africa are considering emigration already now.

    4. The EU struggles with internal divisions

    Due primarily, but not only, to the divergence of approaches of individual countries to the issue of migration. A reinforced franco-german axis will be capital to refuel the engine of European integration

    5. The EU has been psychologically impacted by the UK’s exit from the Union

    Unity, prudence, and European leadership will be essential in the tough negotiation process ahead.

    6. The transatlantic partnership is and will be essential for the global order

    The EU must take concrete steps to convince the United States that it has the capability to become and actually stand in the future as a proactive partner of the US in the transatlantic alliance, irrespective of who is the president of the United States.

    7. The world, and Europe in particular, must address the alarming humanitarian situation in Libya and Syria

    Libya has become not only a funnel for African migrants into Europe; it is also an area of political and thus of security vacuum. That vacuum has been taken advantage of by gangster groups that are apprehending migrants and then subject them to ill-treatment in close communities.

    Concentration camps were recently mentioned also by Pope Francis. While the EU theoretically considers setting up safe zones, terrorists and gangsters have already created them, albeit with much less noble intentions.

    The civilised world cannot and must not continue watching this humanitarian disaster to unfold. Libya is also riddled with internal divisions. Its renewal can only be achieved with active assistance of the international community. Europe and the world have supreme interest in a renewed Libya with plural political system.

    Libya, under the regime of Muammar Gaddafi, was militarily ‘cracked’ in 2011 by a French-led coalition. It would be more than symbolic if the transformation of the country was led to a successful conclusion by a French-mediated action.

    From this very first day of your mandate, President Macron, the clock is ticking. The failure to undertake clear measures and courageous reforms would mean that the situation in Europe would only keep getting worse and, in the next presidential elections in France, Marine Le Pen could wipe her opponents off their feet..

    Here’s my proposal for a powerful foreign policy measure: to swiftly proceed with setting up the first, pilot safe zone in Libya. The area where the refugees and asylum seekers will be able to not only wait out the conclusion of their asylum proceedings, but also live for as long as necessary before the situation in their country settles down or is resolved.

    The safe zone would naturally be used also to place unsuccessful asylum applicants returned from the European countries in those cases where the readmission agreement with the relevant country is not working.

    Such safe zone will clearly require military protection, and its creation would not only have to be negotiated in political terms, but also secured in military terms; this offers an opportunity for enhanced EU cooperation in the field of security and defence.

    Initiating and developing such enhanced cooperation, based on a concrete operation and concrete action, will show in full light who is serious about such cooperation. I also think that it will show whether there is a brighter future for the European Union.

    President Macron, En marche! It’s time to take action!

    Mikuláš Dzurinda European Union Eurozone Extremism

    Mikuláš Dzurinda

    En Marche, President Macron! Seven reasons to move from words to action

    Blog

    08 May 2017

  • With the increasing terror threat in Europe, even politicians from mainstream parties are beginning to toy with the idea of reintroducing national border checks inside the Schengen Area. This area consists of 26 European countries that have agreed to abolish internal border controls. ‘Schengen’ includes the so-called ‘compensatory measures’ that take into account the interests of the signatory governments and incorporate the Schengen Information System, better judicial cooperation, a common visa policy and controls at the external borders.

    Unfortunately, responding to the terror attacks in Paris in January 2015, certain politicians have called for national borders being gradually reintroduced. In some cases, policy proposals may just be using sloppy language; in other cases there is an intention to go back to the old days.

    For example, there has been talk of ‘strengthening of border security with targeted controls’. Under the current Schengen regime, national authorities are allowed to conduct routine police checks on their territory but are not allowed to undertake border controls, except for strictly limited periods of time. Executing police authority inside a member state is a country’s duty.  Imposing ‘targeted controls’ could mean a return to border checks, a highly questionable move. 

    There has also been talk about introducing ‘internal border checks’. The existing Schengen Border Code states that ‘internal borders may be crossed at any point without a border check on persons being carried out.’ Schengen rules are exactly about that, about NOT requesting travellers’ documentation on the internal borders. ‘Internal border checks’ would thus abolish the main pillar of Schengen. The complex architecture of Schengen rules would simply collapse – there would not be much ‘Schengen’ left.

    Another phrase that has appeared is ‘an intelligent use of the ‘Schengen internal control mechanism’. The problem is that there is no such thing as a Schengen internal control mechanism.’ If this were to mean a better sharing of data within the Schengen Information System or better judicial cooperation, that would help to catch suspected terrorists. But if this were to mean internal border checks, it would be a move contrary to the letter and spirit of the Lisbon Treaty.

    Schengen is not some ‘naïve’ project that has simply abolished internal borders controls. Schengen consists also of many measures which could help us in fighting terrorism. For example, police cooperation, judicial cooperation in criminal matters, control of firearms, guarding and policing the external border of the Schengen Area and a better operation of the Schengen Information System could all help in identifying and tracking suspects. All these activities can be made to operate better, without internal borders in Europe being reinstated. As a related point, including Romania and Bulgaria in the Schengen Area would help in tackling terrorism as the sophisticated internal Schengen rules would have to be applied by these countries.

    So rather than introducing new legislation, let us make better use of our existing rules and let us invite Romania and Bulgarian to join Schengen. That way we would do a better job in preventing further deaths in Europe. And if we come to a conclusion that the Schengen Border Code needs to be amended, preserving the legality of controls will be extremely important.

    It has been said many times before but it is worth repeating: Islamic jihad and other forms of terrorism have succeeded when they have made us curtail our rights and liberties. Let us not make the terrorists’ ‘job’ any easier.

    (with thanks to an anonymous reviewer)

    Vít Novotný European Union Extremism Foreign Policy Immigration

    Vít Novotný

    Europe’s Passport-Free Zone Needs to Remain Free

    Blog

    25 Feb 2015

  • Freedom of expression was the assassins’ first target on January 7th in Paris, at Charlie Hebdo’s offices. But, deeper, lies a widespread feeling amongst those radicalized groups that resolve is on their side: nothing can challenge a strength drawn from the belief in God – and a sizable contortion of Islamic texts. We, Westerners, are just getting weak and lonely.

    One of the masterminds of 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), wrote pages on the subject while imprisoned in Guantanamo: “hundreds of American crusaders join the US Army, wear the latest military gear, eat the best food in Iraq and Afghanistan and play with their play stations while their enemies, the poor Muslim, can’t find their daily bread (…) but at the end, the American soldiers go back home and commit suicide.” (“KSM’s Statement to the Crusaders of the Military Commission in Guantanamo”, p.11). 

    Fundamentalists live off those narratives of sacrifice that mirror Western weak spots, turned into signs that history is presumably shifting in their direction. Favorites of that propaganda are plenty: hostages certain European nations are willing to give millions for, soldiers protected behind heavy concrete walls, caricatured as devilish drone players, the loss of meaning, the absence of values that fundamentalists believe a democracy cannot sustain in the long run. To paraphrase KSM again, “happiness is not found in music, dancing, or in living a so called free life (…)” where only divorce and AIDS supposedly await all of us. 

    Charlie Hebdo had found happiness in freedom, like many of us. They were targeted because they pushed freedom to an edge that some refuse to handle and accept. Facing that tiny minority, Charlie cartoonists never lost themselves in excuses, fear or hatred. They continued their work despite recurring threats with visible glee and great courage. “I would rather die standing up than live on my knees” were Charb’s famous words. There is a lot of inspiration to be drawn from this behavior.

    Michael Benhamou Democracy Extremism Islam Religion Values

    Michael Benhamou

    Charlie Hebdo massacre: a test for Western character

    Blog

    09 Jan 2015

  • Right-wing and national populist parties have managed to establish themselves as relevant political players throughout virtually the whole of Europe. This rise of right-wing and national populists has come at the expense of all traditional parties. The current strength of right-wing and national populist parties is a result of them supplementing their ‘core themes’ of xenophobia and critique of the elites with a simple mobilising message, namely ‘no to this Europe’.

    Note: parts of this text are based on two chapters of the study Exposing the Demagogues. Right-wing and National Populist Parties in Europe published by the Centre for European Studies and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung in June 2013. 

    Elections Euroscepticism Extremism Political Parties Populism

    Europe – No, Thanks? Study on the rise of right-wing and national populist parties in Europe

    Collaborative

    26 Feb 2014

  • Europe’s right-wing and national populist parties are on the upswing, even despite some recent electoral setbacks. They have entered parliaments across Europe and some parties are even participating in national governments. What is remarkable is that right-wing and national populist parties have changed their mobilisation tactics. While predominantly xenophobic in the past, right-wing populists now mobilise against further European integration – and not without success.

    For all actors involved in EU politics, these developments should be taken seriously. As political think tanks either directly involved in EU politics or deeply committed to the idea of European integration, the Centre for European Studies (CES) and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) analyse the reasons behind the advance of Europe’s right–wing populist parties. In addition, this volume discusses possible response strategies for the member parties of the European People’s Party in order to counter the progress of right-wing and national populists.

    For a policy brief summarising the main findings of this volume please see our related publication: Europe – No, Thanks? Study on the rise of right-wing and national populist parties in Europe

    Elections Euroscepticism Extremism Political Parties Populism

    Exposing the Demagogues: Right-wing and National Populist Parties in Europe

    Collaborative

    04 Sep 2013

  • One week after the Boston bombings, with the perpetrators dead or arrested, we may not know the whole story yet. But we know that America is, once more, confronted by a case of ‘home-grown’ terrorism, i.e. an attack by people that, no matter where they originally came from, radicalised themselves and became jihadists while being residents of a Western country. Most previous comparable attacks were unsuccessful – this one was not. And in the ensuing debate about what can be done to prevent such attacks, we are experiencing a sense of déjà vu: just like in Europe after comparable attacks, foiled or successful, the knee-jerk reaction by the Left is to search the perpetrators’ curriculae for signs of disenfranchisement, of dashed hope and discrimination suffered at the hands of the host country’s majority. And the conclusion is invariably that if we could only become more tolerant, more open societies, such sad cases would not happen. Which is why the best preventive anti-terror strategy is anti-discrimination legislation, promoting a multi-cultural society and legalising all forms of immigration.

    Conservatives in the US, unsurprisingly, took a different view. Some Republicans again questioned the President’s project of a new immigration bill, demanding much tighter restrictions on immigration in the future. Others took this opportunity to criticise gun control: during the manhunt, when Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was still eluding police, gun lobbyists tweeted whether Boston area Democrats wouldn’t wish they had a semiautomatic rifle now. But the argument most often given by US conservatives is very simply that all other immigrant groups so far have integrated themselves – often in a long and sometimes painful process – without resorting to the kind of indiscriminate violence at play in Boston. So one might well discuss more efficient ways to integrate immigrants, and better early warning methods for law enforcement to detect radicalisation, as well as improved incentives for de-radicalisation. Maybe European experience can be of some help here. But on the central issue of multiculturalism, there is no reason to make an exception to the rule that no democracy can allow parallel societies – parts of immigrant populations where the basic values of our constitutions are systematically disregarded. Europe and America are today closer than ever before in having to meet this challenge. We should do this together – that’s one of the lessons of the Boston bombing.

    Roland Freudenstein Defence EU-US Extremism Foreign Policy Transatlantic

    Roland Freudenstein

    After Boston – Terrorism, Immigration and Integration

    Blog

    24 Apr 2013

  • Currently there are considerable concerns about a new Euroscepticism arising in response to recent developments and a general feeling of malaise towards the European project from both national elites and ordinary citizens of Member States. Observers speak about an anti-European virus spreading via a new wave of street protests, especially in Greece and Spain, and among unsatisfied people in general.

    Even in Germany, the driving force of Europe, the EU is seen as a problem rather than a solution. The reason is rather obvious: some countries of the eurozone are in serious financial distress. For instance, the EU has had to create a European bailout fund for states, such as Greece, Ireland, Portugal and maybe even Italy, that have suffered grave financial problems as a collateral consequence of the financial crisis of 2008.

    These measures of solidarity, paid for by the financially stronger countries, and the entire construct of the common economic zone with its flagship currency, the euro, are difficult to justify to the populations of the rich, subsidising countries. As a result, European elites are talking of a renewed danger of Euroscepticism. My aim in this paper is to discuss this phenomenon comprehensively, since it is important to distinguish between Euroscepticism as a general mood and Euroscepticism as (part of) a particular political and ideological profile presented by specific parties.

    Euroscepticism Extremism Populism

    A Thorn in the Side of European Elites: The New Euroscepticism

    Research Papers

    01 Sep 2012

  • Right-wing populist parties have developed into a stable institution and a long-term feature of European politics. Again and again they prove themselves capable of gaining electoral success at national level. Yet right-wing populist parties rarely succeed in coming into government, and even if they actually manage it, they predominantly function only as junior partners. This paper assesses how these parties have emerged, their main characteristics and how traditional parties can respond to their rise.

    Extremism Party Structures Populism

    After Their Establishment: Right-wing Populist Parties in Europe

    Research Papers

    01 Oct 2011

  • This research paper analyses the foreign policy positions of five populist parties of the Right and Left in Western Europe. It focuses on foreign policy, an often ignored dimension of their ideas. It aims to fill a hole in policy debates by showing that European populism poses a coherent threat to mainstream politics, that foreign policy can be instrumental to the challenge mounted by populist parties against centrist politics and that the impact of those positions is practical and real for European states and the European Union.

    Extremism Foreign Policy Populism

    Old Ghosts in New Sheets: European Populist Parties and Foreign Policy

    Research Papers

    01 Mar 2011

  • It is a common perception that poverty is fertile breeding ground for terrorism. Or at least, fuel for such activity. But not all poor areas produce extremism; we know where young men absorb extremist ideologies, and where, for instance, jihadists receive their training. In the beginning we bumped into the problem of definition; what is terrorism? What kind of terrorism are we looking into? Should we leave, say, separatist acts outside? Then the decision had to be made: this conference was to concentrate its efforts on understanding the logic and driving forces behind Islamist terrorism, and whether a better directed development policy could play any role in fighting it – given that poverty and lack of opportunities do play a role in an individual’s decision to join a radical group. Security in Europe – or globally, for that matter – is of course not entirely dependent on religious fanaticism. There are new threats we are aware of, and which we should better prepare for. There was also a question about the possible links between security and development, and how they interact. 

    Development Extremism Foreign Policy Security

    Fight against terrorism and Development Policy: Two Sides of the Same Coin

    Collaborative

    02 Nov 2008