Mustapha Itani

Here’s How Islamic Extremism and the Far-Right Feed off Each Other

There are two vastly opposing spheres of political thought, but Islamic extremism and the far-right actually need each other to survive, to keep on hating each other. Here’s how.

 

These couple of years were very essential and groundbreaking in the political and economic sense. They witnessed major events that will impact the world for years to come, and if nothing’s done about it, it’s going to be bad. Trump’s win, Brexit, ISIS attacks all over Europe and the U.S., and the rise of the far-right in Europe.

All these events weren’t random. On the contrary, they are closely linked in various ways. I have talked a lot about ISIS and its rise, and the causes of its rise and so on, so let’s leave this issue out a bit and focus on the rise of far-right movements and populism in the U.S. and Europe.

Although many factors caused this populist uprise of right-wing movements in the West, Islamophobia was and continues to be a cornerstone in their campaigns and rhetoric. If you observed the campaigns and rhetoric of Trump, Brexit leaders, the French far-right, etc., you can see one clear thing in common: Islamophobia and xenophobia. They fed on this. The hate for Muslims benefited the movements in a huge way. In some ways it made them flawless in the eyes of a good portion of people in the West. They opposed taking in refugees from Muslim war-torn countries, they opposed any signs of Islam in society, they called for banning the hijab, and banning Mosques. This found a lot of embrace from Western citizens who were brainwashed into thinking that “Muslims hate you, they want to take your culture away.”

All of that wasn’t coincidental. This was all planned and even a goal. Who wanted to achieve this? Well, believe it or not, radical Islamists, especially ISIS. Clearly when we talk about this issue we have to mention ISIS and the influence it has had on Western politics, especially in Europe. From the start, ISIS had a plan to make the Western world demonize Muslims and perceive them as the enemy and the biggest threat. In other words, their main goal was and still is eliminating the cultural gray zone, and with the high rate of Islamophobia in the West and the demonization of Muslims, Islamic extremists are winning.

Islamic extremists consider Islamophobia a recruitment tool and that was pretty clear when ISIS started using Trump’s speeches in their propaganda videos. Every time a Muslim woman gets attacked, ISIS rejoices; every time an innocent Muslim is threatened and called a terrorist, ISIS celebrates.

I can assure you, the far-right waits eagerly for a new beheading video, even attacks to be claimed by ISIS. ISIS and its agenda fit perfectly the political aims of the far-right. I’ve made this argument before regarding Trump and his rise, and it perfectly fits every far-right movement across Europe too. The far-right has become one of ISIS’ main recruitment tools with all of the crazy hate-spewing statements and attacks on innocent Muslims. The same thing applies to ISIS. This group is driving a lot of Westerners to the far-right, making this movement stronger and helping it gain more support. These two are benefiting from each other to the fullest, and they love it.


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We have witnessed prominent far-right figures come out after every terror attack in Europe, or anywhere in the world, giving us a very loud, “We told you so! Come on you have to vote for me, we are your only hope for defeating these savages!” And equally terrifying and cringeworthy, ISIS has used far-right words and actions in their propaganda material, also giving a pretty loud, “Told you so! They hate Islam! Quick, come join us!” And, well, guess what is happening? People are supporting the far-right and their bigoted rhetoric, and a lot of young Muslims are joining ISIS, simple as that.

Extremism feeds extremism, and when Islamist extremists rise, the far-right also rises. They come hand in hand, with a similar worldview, eliminating the cultural gray zone.

Extremist groups from both sides want the civilizations to clash, triggering a clear message in which people must “choose a side,” that’s why any attack on an innocent Muslim benefits ISIS and any attack on an innocent Westerner benefits the far-right.

There isn’t an inherently vicious relationship of hate between Muslims and the West. True, there have been instances in the past in which the relationship between these two civilizations was surrounded by hatred and animosity, but this wasn’t caused by mere cultural differences. We can cite the colonial West and its barbaric acts in the Muslim world and elsewhere. It was mainly for economic and territorial gains which, without a doubt, caused a backlash from Muslims and Arabs. But we can also point out many instances in history when Muslims were welcomed in Europe and vice versa, and there was some type of cultural enrichment going on between the two.

We have to address the West and convince them that Islam and Muslims aren’t the enemy, the media and politicians are lying to pass on their political agenda. Islam is a religion just like any other religion, it has fanatics and moderate peaceful people. The media and people around the world will not be able to find solutions for “Islamic terrorism” if they encourage terrorism from the other side. Islamophobia is rising at unprecedented rates at this point and this is exactly what fanatic groups like. The Islamic State and Al Qaeda want the world to separate and then they would have a stronger argument to young Muslim youth that clearly states, “See, Westerners hate us.” I know people are scared, but this so called “Muslim threat” is not what it seems, or not what the politicians want you to believe.

We also have to address and talk to Muslim youth, young Muslims who feel oppressed in their own countries and then travel only to face bigotry and discrimination in the West and sometimes attacks. Muslim women are having their hijabs snatched, they are being pushed and harassed just for wearing a head scarf. Young Muslims are being called terrorists and are being attacked just because of their faith. And the most disturbing aspect of all this is the fact the the media and Western politicians don’t call Christian right-wing fanatics “terrorists” when they commit heinous hate crimes. This should be the first step. We have to tell Muslim youth in the West, don’t give in to hate and bigotry; radicalization isn’t the answer; yes, fighting it is hard, but it’s the right thing to do.

At this moment, the world is witnessing a vicious wave of violence and terrorism based on all sorts of political and religious ideologies. If bigotry and political blindness continue to prosper, the world will not progress at all in this fight. Hate has been the major feature in the past several years, in all shapes and forms, because of all the fear-mongering and insane policies of leaders and groups around the world. Millions of innocent civilians are suffering, and if people all around the world don’t wake up to what’s really happening, we are ultimately headed towards a huge disaster and we can just forget about the peace and stability we all hope for.

 

 

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