Fighting extremism in Europe: „EU needs to stay strong on democracy, inclusion and cohesion“
The alert was raised today at the European Parliament in Brussels by a number of academics, journalists and victims from the Utøya attack during an international conference on extremism and democracy organised by the S&D Group.
S&D Group president Hannes Swoboda said:
„Time is running out. The EU has long been complacent in the face of rising violent extremism and we now need to acknowledge the threat posed by violent right-wing networks and movements in Europe.
„We need stronger monitoring of violent political extremism and stronger EU tools to protect democracy and the rule of law in member states.
„The rise of violent right-wing extremism is today boosted by the impact of the austerity measures imposed to tackle the economic crisis. It thrives on fear and distress, uses Europe and migrants as scapegoats, and poses a threat to European democracy and cohesion.“
S&D vice-president Sylvie Guillaume said: „What happened on Utøya and in Oslo in July 22, 2011 is unfortunately not an isolated case. The number of violent attacks and killings from right-wing extremists has been dramatically increasing. Today’s debate has emphasised that this phenomenon is growing alarmingly.
„Yet, to defeat the ‚monster‘ we must first have the courage to get to know it and monitor its development.
„Of course this is not an easy task and we acknowledge that many mistakes were made in the past. However, as citizens‘ representatives, our responsibility is to help find a way to put an end to the feelings of isolation which are often behind violent opposition to democracy and that are on the increase because of the economic situation. Therefore part of the answer lies in enhanced social cohesion, support for civil society and European investment in this area. Another solution lies in educating young people to be more critical when surfing on the internet.
„Finally, the Norwegian people didn’t let this tragedy and insane ideology change them. They reacted to hate and extremism with more democracy, more openness – but not naivety – and with a stronger sense of community. This is a great lesson for all of Europe.“