Al Qaeda is Scared and No Match to the Far Right Wing Groups
Al Qaeda is Scared and No Match to the Far Right Wing Groups
Al-Qaeda (// al-KY-də; Arabic: القاعدة al-qāʿidah, Arabic: [ælqɑːʕɪdɐ], translation: “The Base” and alternatively spelled al-Qaida and sometimes al-Qa’ida) is a global militant Islamist organization founded by Osama bin Laden in Peshawar, Pakistan, at some point between August 1988 and late 1989, with its origins being traceable to the Soviet War in Afghanistan. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad and a strict interpretation of sharia law. It has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United Nations Security Council, NATO, the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States, India and various other countries (see below). Al-Qaeda has carried out many attacks on non-Sunni Muslims, non-Muslims, and other targets it considers kafir.
Al-Qaeda has attacked civilian and military targets in various countries, including the September 11 attacks, 1998 U.S. embassy bombings and the 2002 Bali bombings. The U.S. government responded to the September 11 attacks by launching the War on Terror. With the loss of key leaders, culminating in the death of Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda’s operations have devolved from actions that were controlled from the top-down, to actions by franchise associated groups, to actions of lone wolf operators.
Characteristic techniques employed by al-Qaeda include suicide attacks and simultaneous bombings of different targets. Activities ascribed to it may involve members of the movement, who have taken a pledge of loyalty to Osama bin Laden, or the much more numerous “al-Qaeda-linked” individuals who have undergone training in one of its camps in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq or Sudan, but who have not taken any pledge. Al-Qaeda ideologues envision a complete break from all foreign influences in Muslim countries, and the creation of a new world-wide Islamic caliphate. Among the beliefs ascribed to Al-Qaeda members is the conviction that a Christian–Jewish alliance is conspiring to destroy Islam. As Salafist jihadists, they believe that the killing of civilians is religiously sanctioned, and they ignore any aspect of religious scripture which might be interpreted as forbidding the murder of civilians and internecine fighting. Al-Qaeda also opposes man-made laws, and wants to replace them with a strict form of sharia law.
Al-Qaeda is also responsible for instigating sectarian violence among Muslims. Al-Qaeda is intolerant of non-Sunni branches of Islam and denounces them by means of excommunications called “takfir“. Al-Qaeda leaders regard liberal Muslims, Shias, Sufis and other sects as heretics and have attacked their mosques and gatherings. Examples of sectarian attacks include the Yazidi community bombings, the Sadr City bombings, the Ashoura Massacre and the April 2007 Baghdad bombings.
European national parliaments with representatives from right-wing populist parties in 2013. In dark blue, those in government.
Piero Ignazi divided right-wing populist parties, which he called extreme right parties, into two categories: traditional right-wing parties that had developed out of the historic right and post-industrial parties that had developed independently. He placed the former Italian Social Movement, the Italian Tricolour Flame and Lega Nord the National Democratic Party of Germany, the German People’s Union, the former Dutch Centre Party, the British National Party, and the Belgian Vlaams Blok in the first category. He placed the French National Front, the German Republicans, the Dutch Centre Democrats, the Belgian Front national, the Freedom Party of Austria, the Danish Progress Party, the Norwegian Progress Party, and the Swedish New Democracy in the second category.
Right-wing populist parties in the English-speaking world include the UK Independence Party, the former Reform Party of Canada, Australia’s One Nation, and New Zealand First.
The Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) established in 1955 traditionally represents the “Third Camp” (Drittes Lager), beside the Socialist Party and the social Catholic Austrian People’s Party. It succeeded the Federation of Independents founded after World War II, adopting the pre-war heritage of German nationalism. Though it did not gain much popularity for decades, it exercised considerable balance of power by supporting several federal governments, be it right-wing or left-wing, e.g. the Socialist Kreisky cabinet of 1970 (see Kreisky–Peter–Wiesenthal affair).
Haider in September 2008
From 1980, the Freedom Party adopted a more liberal stance. Upon the 1983 federal election it entered a coalition government with the Socialist Party, whereby party chairman Norbert Steger served as Vice-Chancellor. The liberal interlude however ended, when Jörg Haider was elected chairman in 1986. By his down-to-earth manners and patriotic attitude, Haider re-integrated the party’s nationalist base voters. Nevertheless, he was also able to obtain votes from large sections of population disenchanted with politics by publicly denouncing corruption and nepotism of the Austrian Proporz system. The electoral success was boosted by Austria’s accession to the EU in 1995.
Upon the 1999 federal election the Freedom Party with 26.9% of the votes cast became the second strongest party in the National Council parliament. Having entered a coalition government with the People’s Party, Haider had to face the disability of several FPÖ ministers, but also the impossibility to agitate against the own cabinet. In 2005 he finally countered the Freedom Party’s loss of reputation by the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) relaunch in order to carry on the government. The remaining FPÖ members elected Heinz-Christian Strache chairman; since the 2006 federal election both right-wing parties have run separately. After Haider was killed in a car accident in 2008, the BZÖ has lost a measurable amount of support.
Flag used by the now-defunct Vlaams Blok, representing the flag of Flanders (top), and historical flag of the Netherlands (bottom).
Vlaams Blok, established in 1978, operated on a platform of law and order, anti-immigration (with particular focus on Islamic immigration), and secession of the Flanders region of the country. The secession was originally planned to end in the annexation of Flanders by the culturally and linguistically similar Netherlands until the plan was abandoned due to the multiculturalism in that country. In the elections to the Flemish Parliament in June 2004, the party received 24.15% of the vote, within less than 2% of being the largest party. However, in November of the same year, the party was ruled illegal under anti-racism law for, among other things, advocating schools segregated between citizens and immigrants.
In less than a week, the party was re-established under the name Vlaams Belang, with a near-identical ideology. It advocates for immigrants wishing to stay to adopt the Flemish culture and language. Despite some accusations of anti-Semitism from Belgium’s Jewish population, the party has demonstrated a staunch pro-Israel stance as part of its opposition to Islam. With 18 of 124 seats, Vlaams Belang lead the opposition in the Flemish Parliament, and also have 11 of the 150 seats in the Belgian House of Representatives.
The British National Party (BNP) is a far-right political party in the United Kingdom. Formed as a splinter group from the National Front by John Tyndall in 1982, since 1999 it has been led by Nick Griffin. The BNP party platform is centred on the advocacy of “voluntary resettlement whereby immigrants and their descendants are afforded the opportunity to return to their lands of ethnic origin.” As well as anti-immigration rhetoric, the party advocates the reintroduction of capital punishment, and opposes same-sex marriage, and what it perceives as the Islamification of the UK.
The party’s ideology has been described as fascist by political scientists and commentators, but the party formally denies this label. High-profile groups and people including The Royal British Legion and David Cameron have criticised the BNP, and BNP membership is prohibited for people of certain occupations. It restricted membership to “indigenous British” people until a 2010 legal challenge to its constitution.
The BNP finished fifth in the 2008 London mayoral election with 5.3% of the vote, winning a seat in the London Assembly. In 2009 it won its first county council seats and two seats in the European Parliament, with leader Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons being elected as Members of the European Parliament (MEP) in the North West and Yorkshire and Humber regions. Brons resigned from the BNP in 2011. During the 2010 General Election, the BNP received 1.9% of the vote and failed to win any seats. According to the BNP’s statement of accounts in December 2012, its membership was 4872, compared to over 12,000 in 2009. A number of breakaway parties have been formed from former BNP members.
Attack (Bulgarian: Атака) is a Bulgarian nationalist party, founded by the ultranationalist Volen Siderov in 2005. Different opinions define the party with each position, according to some opinions the party is extreme right, according to others extreme left, left-wing and right-wing, while the management of the party declares that their party is neither left, nor right, but Bulgarian. It advocates the re-nationalisation of privatized companies and seeks to prioritize spending on education, healthcare and welfare. The party is considered ultranationalist and racist, especially antisemitic and anti-Roma, as well as xenophobic, especially anti-Muslim and anti-Turkish. The party opposes the Bulgarian membership in NATO and requires revision for what it calls the ‘double standards’ for the membership in the European Union, while members visit international Orthodox and anti-globalization congresses and the party is closely tied with the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.
In the Bulgarian parliamentary elections of 2005, 2009, and 2013 Attack was consistently the fourth-strongest party and won 21 respectively 23 of the 240 seats. In the presidential election 2006, Siderov was placed second and qualified for the run-off, in 2011 he played only a minor role and was placed fourth. In the last election for the European Parliament, Attack won two of the 18 Bulgarian seats.
The ELAM (National People’s Front) (Εθνικό Λαϊκό Μέτωπο) was formed in 2008 on the platform of maintaining Cypriot identity, opposition to further European integration, immigration, and the status quo that remains due to Turkey’s invasion of a third of the island (and the international community’s lack of intention to solve the issue).
In the early 1970s, the home of the strongest right wing-populist party in Europe was in Denmark, the Progress Party. In the 1973 election it received almost 16% of the vote. In the years following its support dwindled away, but was replaced by the Danish People’s Party in the 1990s, which has gone on to be an important support party for the governing Liberal-Conservative coalition in the 2000s (decade).
The National Front (Front national (French pronunciation: [fʁɔ̃ na.sjɔ.nal]) or FN) is an economically protectionist, socially conservative nationalist party in France. The party was founded in 1972, seeking to unify a variety of French nationalist movements of the time. In 1973 the party created its own youth movement, the FNJ, Front national de la jeunesse. Jean-Marie Le Pen was the party’s first leader and the undisputed centre of the party from its start until his resignation in 2011. While the party struggled as a marginal force for its first ten years, since 1984 it has been the unrivalled major force of French right-wing nationalism. The FN has established itself as the third largest political force in France, after the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) and the Socialist Party (PS). The 2002 presidential election was the first ever in France to include a right-wing nationalist candidate in the run-off, after Le Pen beat the Socialist candidate in the first round. In the run-off, Le Pen nevertheless finished a distant second to Jacques Chirac. Due to the French electoral system, the party’s representation in public office has been limited, despite its significant share of the vote. The current leader of the party is Marine Le Pen, who took over from her father in 2011.
Its major current policies include economic protectionism, a zero tolerance approach to law and order issues, and anti-immigration. Since the 1990s, its stance on the European Union has grown increasingly eurosceptic. The party’s opposition to immigration is particularly focused on non-European immigration, and includes support for deporting illegal, criminal, and unemployed immigrants; its policy is nevertheless more moderate today than it was at its most radical point in the 1990s.
Franz Schönhuber on a Republikaner 1989 European election poster
So far, all attempts by right-wing populist parties to enter the national Bundestag parliament have failed. Instead, populist positions are successfully represented by the left-wing The Left party. All right-wing populist parties have to face the problem of differentiation regarding far-right politics discredited by Nazism.
Nevertheless, on a regional level, right-wing populist movements like Pro NRW and Citizens in Rage (Bürger in Wut, BIW) sporadically attract some support. In 1989 the Republicans (Die Republikaner) led by Franz Schönhuber entered the Abgeordnetenhaus of Berlin and achieved more than 7% of the German votes cast in the 1989 European election, with six seats in the European Parliament. The party also won seats in the Landtag of Baden-Württemberg twice in 1992 and 1996; after 2000 however, the Republicans’ support eroded in favour of the far-right German People’s Union and the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), which in the 2009 federal election held 1.5% of the popular vote (winning up to 9% in regional Landtag parliamentary elections).
In 2005, a nation-wide Pro Germany Citizens’ Movement (pro Deutschland) was founded in Cologne. The pro movement appears as a conglomerate of numerous small parties, voters’ associations and societies, distinguishing themselves by campaigns against Islamic extremism and Muslim immigrants. Its representatives claim a zero tolerance policy and the combat of corruption. With the denial of a multiethnic society (Überfremdung) and the evocation of an alleged islamization, the pro politics extend to far-right positions. Other minor right-wing populist parties include the German Freedom Party founded in 2010, the former East German German Social Union (DSU), the dissolved Law and Order Offensive Party (Schill Party), and temporarily the Statt Party.
The neo-Nazi Golden Dawn has grown significantly in Greece during the country’s economic downturn, gaining 7% of the vote and 18 out of 300 seats in the Hellenic Parliament. The party’s ideology includes annexation of territory in Albania and Turkey, including the Turkish cities of Istanbul and Izmir. Controversial measures by the party included a poor people’s kitchen in Athens which only supplied for Greek citizens and was shut down by the police.
The Popular Orthodox Rally is not represented in the Greek legislature, but supplies 2 of the country’s 22 MEPS. It supports anti-globalisation and lower taxes for small businesses, as well as opposition to Turkish accession to the European Union and the Republic of Macedonia’s use of the name Macedonia, as well as immigration only for Europeans.
Roberto Maroni leader of the Lega Nord since 2012.
In Italy, right-wing populism is represented mainly by the Lega Nord, a federalist and regionalist political party in Italy founded in 1991 as a federation of several regional parties of Northern and Central Italy, most of which had arisen and expanded their share of the electorate over the 1980s.
The party came to power in alliance with Silvio Berlusconi in 1994. This time the Lega Nord gained the 8.4% of votes. In 2000 the party re-joined forces with Berlusconi’s coalition, previous disagreements notwithstanding. In 2001–2006 the Lega Nord, although being severely reduced in its parliamentary representation, controlled three key ministries: Justice, Labour & Social Affairs, and Institutional Reforms and Devolution. In 2008 the Lega Nord ran in the elections in coalition with the The People of Freedom (Berlusconi’s party) and the Movement for Autonomy, gaining 8.3% of the vote and obtaining 60 deputies and 26 senators. In 2013 general election, the Lega Nord gained 4.1% of votes, supporting the Centre-right Coalition led by Berlusconi, and it obtained 18 deputies and 18 senators.
The Lega Nord’s political program advocates the transformation of Italy into a federal state, fiscal federalism and greater regional autonomy, especially for the Northern regions. At times it has advocated the secession of the North, which it calls Padania. The Lega Nord also fights for the implementation of stricter rules and laws in order to contrast the expansion of Islam into Europe. It is opposed to Turkish membership of the European Union and is considered one of the eurosceptic movements. It also emphasizes the fight against illegal immigration.
Following the 2009 European election the Lega Nord joined the newly formed Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD) group, with other European Right-wing political parties.
Another Italian right-wing populist party is the neo-fascist The Right (La Destra), led by Francesco Storace. It was founded in 2007 and in the general election on the following year The Right gained 2.4% of votes but it did not succeeded in taking some seats in the Parliament. In the 2013 general election, The Right had been an ally of Berlusconi’s Centre-right Coalition, gaining 0.7% of votes and no seats.
Jobbik, The Movement for a Better Hungary (Hungarian: Jobbik Magyarországért Mozgalom), commonly known as Jobbik (pronounced [ˈjobːik]), is a Hungarian radical nationalist political party. The party describes itself as “a principled, conservative and radically patriotic Christian party”, whose “fundamental purpose” was the protection of “Hungarian values and interests.” Jobbik has been described by scholars, different press outlets and its political opponents as fascist, neo-fascist, Neo-Nazi, extremist, racist, anti-Semitic, anti-Roma and homophobic. Measured according to its representation in the European Parliament and the National Assembly, it is Hungary’s third largest party.
Pim Fortuyn, Dutch politician who was assassinated in 2002 during an election campaign.
In the Netherlands, right-wing populism won a minor representation in the 150-seat House of Representatives in 1982, when the Centre Party won a single seat. During the 1990s, a splinter party, the Centre Democrats, was slightly more successful, although its significance was still marginal. Not before 2002 did a party considered right-wing populist break through in the Netherlands, when the Pim Fortuyn List won 26 seats and subsequently formed a coalition with the VVD and CDA. Fortuyn, who had strong views against immigration, particularly from Muslims, was assassinated in May 2002, two weeks before the election. The coalition broke up already in 2003, and the party went into steep decline until it was dissolved.
Since 2006, the Party for Freedom (PVV) has been represented in the House of Representatives. Following the 2010 general election, it has been in a pact with the right-wing minority government of VVD and CDA after it won 24 seats in the House of Representatives. The party is Eurosceptic and plays a leading role in the changing stance of the Dutch government towards European integration, as they came second in the 2009 European Parliament election, winning 4 out of 25 seats. The party’s main programme revolves around strong criticism of Islam, but broadened to all other fields as the party grew to its semi-governmental state. The PVV withdrew its support for the Rutte Cabinet in 2012 after refusing to support austerity measures. This triggered the 2012 general election in which the PVV was reduced to 15 seats and excluded from the new government.
The Norwegian Progress Party (FrP) is commonly considered a right-wing populist party. From 2001 to 2005, the party tolerated Kjell Magne Bondevik’s centre-right minority government. In the 1997, 2005, and 2009 parliamentary elections, the FrP was the second-largest Norwegian party by votes.
The Congress of the New Right, led by Janusz Korwin-Mikke, is the largest right-wing populist party in Poland, but has no representation in national or European legislature. Its policies are mainly centred on lower taxes rather than the immigration issues highlighted by other right-wing populist parties in Europe.
In Switzerland, the right-wing populist Swiss People’s Party reached an all-time high in the 2007 elections. The party has variously been identified as “extreme right” and “radical right-wing populist”, reflecting a spectrum of ideologies present among its members. In its far right wing, it includes extremist members such as Ulrich Schlüer, Pascal Junod, who heads a ‘New Right’ study group and has been linked to Holocaust denial and neo-Nazism. In Switzerland, radical right populist parties held close to 10% of the popular vote in 1971, were reduced to below 2% by 1979, and again grew to more than 10% in 1991. Since 1991, these parties (the Swiss Democrats and the Swiss Freedom Party) have been absorbed by the Swiss People’s Party, whose aggressively right-wing, populist campaign catapulted it to 29% of the popular vote in 2007, the highest vote ever recorded for a single party throughout Swiss parliamentary history.
Nigel Farage, leader of and MEP for the right-wing populist UK Independence Party.
The National Democrats (Nationaldemokraterna, ND) is a minor political party in Sweden, formed by a faction of the Sweden Democrats in October 2001. The party describes itself as a democratic nationalist and ethnopluralist party.
In the 2002 general election the party received 9,248 votes, far below the 4 percent threshold necessary for parliamentary representation. In the 2006 general election the party received 3,064 votes (0.06%), however they currently have representation in two municipalities south of Stockholm. In the 2010 general election the party received 1,141 votes (0.02%). The current chairman of the party is Marc Abramsson.
On 2 February 2008, the old party logo consisting of a blue and yellow sail was replaced with an orange cloudberry flower
The largest right-wing populist party in the United Kingdom is the UK Independence Party (UKIP). Advocating an exit from the European Union and a five-year moratorium on immigration, UKIP, who do not have representation in Britain’s House of Commons, are Britain’s third most popular party, with 14% of the popular support. Britain’s governing Conservative Party has seen defections to UKIP over European Union and immigration debate, as well as the Conservative’s positive stance on same-sex marriage. 
The white nationalist British National Party, with one representative in the European Parliament, and the anti-Islamist street protest group English Defence League are also right-wing populist.
Moore (1996) argues that “populist opposition to the growing power of political, economic, and cultural elites” helped shape “conservative and right-wing movements” since the 1920s. The Tea Party movement of 2009–present had been characterized as “a right-wing anti-systemic populist movement” by Rasmussen and Schoen (2010). They add, “Today our country is in the midst of a…new populist revolt that has emerged overwhelmingly from the right — manifesting itself as the Tea Party movement.” The New York Times reports, “The Tea Party movement has become a platform for conservative populist discontent”.