published in Le Monde, (France), 9/08/2011
Utoya’s massacre highlights the spirit of a European Civil War, which animates those who pretend to « fight against the islamization of Europe ».
In many ways it is the Bosnian War that marks the beginning of this internal crusade. At that time many saw the Christian Serbia of Milosevic as the last defence of Europe against the islamization of the continent. Muslim Bosnia would be the spearhead, just as Serbia was once the rampart against Nazism in the Balkans.
This systematic opposition of Christianity and civilisation to Islam and barbarism has been used with frightening success by Putin to justify the destruction of Grozny and the killing of the Chechens.
By the same logic, Srebrenica’s genocide in July 1995 marks at the same time the height of the racist violence by Serbian power and the beginning of its decline.
For the crusaders of the “fight against the islamization of Europe”, the defeat of Serbia, followed few years latter by the independence of Kosovo, and finally the fall of Milosevic, sounds like a warning: the islamization of Europe is underway; Muslim people have won a war; they then can win the Civil War and destroy Europe as they did Serbia.
The recent transformation of European far right parties, such as that of Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom in the Netherlands, has often wrongfully been perceived as a moderation of the movements. They put to one side their direct affiliation with the political forces that organized the extermination of the Jews during WW2; they fake the acceptance of the democratic framework of the public debate; they use references to liberal causes and concepts, such as feminism or the freedom of speech in their discourses and therefore would have become more reasonable.
This perception undervalues one fundamental aspect of these transformations: the unification of European far right movements, now often called ‘populist’, behind the hatred of Muslims.
This ideological coagulation that occurs with the crisis as both the background and the catalyst, is a serious threat. It has its prophets, such as Eric Zemmour in France or Thilo Sarrazin in Germany, who theorize the necessity of racial discrimination so implementing racist policies within a formal framework of equality of rights. Its facilitators include the Liberal Party of Denmark and the Italian People of Freedom. They attempt to normalize hateful discourses by bringing them into the highest level of the State. Its position is indeed buffered by the criticisms of multiculturalism levelled by the likes of Angela Merkel and David Cameron. Indeed, such criticisms suggest that the ideological analysis of the far right is the right one.
These recent transformations of the European far right are not a moderation. Indeed, if the “main designated enemy” has changed, the ideology of this political movement is still structured around the need to identify and exterminate the internal enemy. The “fight against the islamization of Europe” is the spirit of Srebrenica diffused across the whole continent. It is an existential “them or us” that authorises and precedes all the killings. It is the spirit of the European Civil War.
To achieve this injunction to eliminate the Other, implemented strategies are of two main kinds:
A first strategy consists in directly attacking those identified as the internal enemy. It is the strategy of the Hungarian Jobbik, whose militia is responsible for numerous racist murders of Roma people, and that of German Neo-Nazis, who regularly burn Turkish immigrants’ dormitories.
A second complementary strategy consists in attacking individuals and institutions that offer protection for these “internal enemies” in order then to target the later more violently. This is the logic behind Anders Behring Breivik’s act. In Utoya he slaughters those regarded as “ethnically similar” but whose attachment to democracy turns them into traitors to be shot down.
The answer promised by Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg has been clear and strong: “More Democracy”. This answer is not only morally and politically fair, but it is also strategically necessary in order to reinforce the side of European democracy threatened by the advocates of the Civil War. It is time for Europe to get inspired!