We are currently witnessing a chilling rise in far-right and fascist forces on both sides of the Atlantic. It is in this context that the release of ‘Utøya: July 22‘, a film being shown in parliament this week about the awful massacre at Utoya, is a significant reminder of the importance of tackling the far-right.
In 2011, 69 young activists from Labour’s sister party in Norway were murdered by a fascist – Anders Breivik. It’s important to remember that Breivik took inspiration from the English Defence League and was emboldened by hate against Muslims and migrants, yet his targets were young social democrats whom he saw as responsible for the modern, diverse Europe that we all inhabit. That is, of course, a Europe we should be proud of.
To reject far-right ideology, challenging hatred and division wherever it presents itself is essential. Hate crimes in the UK post-EU referendum have increased along with a rise in anti-immigration rhetoric. From the growing violent pro-Tommy Robinson movement to the Ku Klux Klan and the electoral success of Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán, whose party promotes antisemitism, we’re seeing a more emboldened far right than we have for generations. The Conservatives have quite rightly been criticised by Jewish and Muslim groups for opposing measures to censure Orbán in the European parliament.
The arguments of the anti-migrant, Islamophobic far right are often legitimised in sections of the media, and in politics across Europe we are increasingly seeing a mirror of the Trump effect in the US. Trump’s notorious ‘build a wall’ pledge and ban on Muslim countries are designed to energise a base that responds with knee-jerk reaction, not reason. This strategy reached new depths this year with migrant children being separated from their families and locked in cages.
The US government and certain European administrations have contributed to a hostile climate on migration, Islamophobia and antisemitism. Racism is finding an insidious cutting edge in the treatment of migrants, refugees and Muslims, and at the same time communities that traditionally face racism are subsequently feeling the brunt of the resulting emboldened far right.
We must never forget the lessons of history when it comes to the far right. The horrors of the Holocaust – in which six million Jewish people were murdered along with millions of other victims – act as a permanent reminder for why we must challenge the rise of the far right and fascism. The Nazis rose out of a climate of hatred and division that saw Jewish people targeted, attacked and blamed for the economic crisis of the time, which of course was not of their making.
We must be wary of allowing any minority or disadvantaged community to be targeted today for the fall in living standards, and of any attempts to divert blame away from those who caused our downturn in the first place. Far-right and fascist forces will exploit such circumstances to their advantage. And we must never forget what our tragically murdered colleague Jo Cox said. “We have far more united and have far more in common than which divides us.”
The words ‘an injury to one is an injury to all’ could not be more relevant than in the campaign against the far-right. In this hostile climate, the far right targets Jewish, Black, LGBT, disabled people and other marginalised groups. They increasingly target the organised labour movement. It has never been more important to have a broad, strong and unified movement that opposes racism and fascism in all forms. We must challenge every incidence of dog-whistle politics – because we know the dangers of the far right’s answers.
The film screening of ‘Utøya: July 22′ will take place between 2pm and 4pm on Thursday 11th in the Jubilee Room, Westminster Hall, Palace of Westminster. If you are interested, please email [email protected] ASAP to reserve a space.
Diane Abbott is Shadow Home Secretary and MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington.