Day: May 11, 2009

Anti-Jihadism and the European Right

Discussion of the positions of Europe’s political right and far right, and their interpretation by observers in the United States, continues at Charles Johnson’s LGF blog. The focus of attention has centred on U.S. anti-jihadist blogs like Pamela Geller’s Atlas Shrugs and Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch, which take a generous view of European political figures like Geert Wilders and  groups such as the Vlaams Belang and the so-called Pro-Köln movement.

The approach adopted by Jihad Watch, in particular, seems at first sight puzzling– for Spencer is a serious and committed scholar of Islam and global Islamism who has done much to document and analyze the strategies of contemporary Muslim extremism. It appears, however, that for reasons that aren’t clear, he has preferred to base important parts of his view of developments in European society on sources that derive not from Western Europe, but from areas further east, like the Russian Federation. In those parts of the world, opposition to Islamism has unfortunately become caught up in the political manoeuvrings of the ruling government elites, where it is used both as a weapon to stifle political dissent, and as a means of deliberately provoking the growth of Islamist violence (as in the North Caucasus) for murky goals that remain to be clarified.There anti-jihadism is closely associated with state-sanctioned attitudes and ideologies that are manifestly in conflict with the demands of a free society. In certain respects they resemble nothing so much as the agenda of Europe’s extreme right, and are sometimes aligned with it. This may account for some of the misunderstandings that are currently on display.