Far-Right Extremism Growing Across Europe, Survey Finds

In Europe, a growing threat of far-right terrorism and a “new age of conspiracy theories” punctuates the continent, according to a recent report. But the movements are not confined by borders or seaboards, instead, “the modern far-right is currently undergoing a broader and more fundamental shift” the report says, “the emergence of a transnational and post-organisational threat.”

Building on recent trends internationally, and following in the footsteps of the hyper-polarization of politics in the United States, far right-terrorism continues to pose a threat in Europe, according to the State of Hate report, a collaboration between three European advocacy groups released earlier this week.

The report cited far-right events, such as the mass shooting in Hanau, Germany, at two Shisha bars that claimed nine lives, to the re-election victory of far-right leader Andrzej Duda in Poland taking place in 2020. A large number of arrests and activity online related to terrorism and violence existed as well in the past year, the report says, which surveyed more than 11,000 people across eight European countries, with networks of individuals perpetuating acts of violence spreading internationally.

[MORE: Countries Seen to Care the Most About Human Rights]

The number of people engaging with conspiracy theories was on the rise in 2020, too, as conspiracy theory-driven groups protested various COVID-19 restrictions such as lockdowns. According to the report, social media and other digital platforms are partially to blame for the spread of false information at record speeds.

The false claim that Hollywood, government, media and other officials are involved in child smuggling and exploitation, reminiscent of one of QAnon’s key accusations in the U.S., has garnered strong support in some European countries, such as Poland, where a third of respondents believe the claim is definitely or probably true, and in Germany 21% believe the same.

In Italy, 39% of people surveyed attach themselves to another conspiratorial belief: that elites are pushing immigration to weaken Europe and the European identity, while 45% of those in Hungary agree. Still, attitudes toward conspiracy theories vary between countries. For example, throughout the European countries surveyed, most people do not believe that the coronavirus vaccine will be “maliciously used to infect people with poison,” but 22% of those in Poland, 20% of those in Hungary, and 16% of those in Italy disagree.

[MORE: 10 Countries That Accept the Highest Numbers of Immigrants]

The report also notes the connection between coronavirus-related conspiracy theories and anti-Semitic politics. Just digital steps away from anti-lockdown and alternate explanations for the pandemic are Holocaust-denying and Hitler-admiring sentiments in shared online spaces.

In Italy, 67% of people hold negative views toward Roma, while 60% of people in Hungary have negative views toward immigrants. Of the European nations with the most positive views toward minorities, however, just 29% of British people hold positive views toward Muslims, the highest level of support found in the eight countries surveyed. At least a quarter of people in each of the countries have negative views of Muslims, with Hungarians registering the highest levels of antipathy, at 54%.

A general sense of uneasiness related to the state of political systems in some European nations is present, as well, according to the report, where two-thirds of those living in France think their political system is broken, while in Britain, just 6% think their political system is working well. Still, things are more positive in countries such as Germany, where 60% of Germans think their democracy is working well, according to the report.

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Far-Right Extremism Growing Across Europe, Survey Finds originally appeared on usnews.com

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