UK intelligence officers admit there are at least 23,000 jihadists in Britain, a number close to the 22,500 members of the British Union of Fascists in 1939. There are likely more than 100,000 far-right Islamist extremists in Europe today, which outpaces the membership of the Nazi Party in 1928. Europe has become a breeding ground for Islamist extremism, not merely a victim of it.
Almost all the terrorist attacks carried out across the continent and the UK have been perpetrated by men and women raised in European education systems.
They didn’t come to Europe as migrants with intolerant views, they received an indoctrination in hate, intolerance, bigotry, fascism, far-right Islamism, misogyny, homophobia, neo-Nazi-like terrorist ideology and KKK-like Islamist supremacy, in Europe. Islamists in the West today are as intolerant and more extreme than those in mostcountries in the Muslim world.
Preachers and Islamist recruiters in the US, UK and elsewhere spread more hatred and are directly responsible for more Islamic State (ISIS) recruitment and jihadism than Islamist preachers throughout the Muslim world. The West exports a unique brand of far-right Islamist genocidal ideology.
We need to pause and internalize this.
An article at the BBC by Peter Neumann and Shiraz Maher, who researched the lives of 800 Western recruits who joined ISIS, argues that “radicalization rarely happens exclusively online, and that the role of the internet is complex.” They point to radical clerics such as US-based Ahmad Musa Jibril. “More than half of recruits to the so-called Islamic State who we studied for a 2014 report were following him on Facebook or Twitter.” Yet they note “he did not openly incite his followers to violence.” They also reference “British extremist Anjem Choudhary, who was convicted of inviting others to support [ISIS] in 2016.”
What the authors don’t tell us is about the content of what people who become “radicalized” listen to. They say it doesn’t incite to violence, but what is the daily ingestion of the Europe’s modern-day far-right Islamists? The far-right Islamists have “spent years spreading their message virtually unchallenged on British streets.”
One of those “unchallenged” incidents was documented in a Channel 4 documentary, The Jihadis Next Door, broadcast in 2016, which shows one of the London perpetrators bowing to a jihadist black flag alongside cohorts in a public park.
What happened in that public park, and that happens all over Europe, is that these men openly preached and rallied for farright Islamist neo-Nazi-like ideology, and they were unopposed. Not just unopposed – the media was there to watch. When there are rallies by the far Right in Europe, there is often ample progressive opposition to them. Google “neo-Nazis outnumbered march” and the second reference is “Neo-nazis outnumbered by counter protesters at London demo.” How many counter-protesters confronted Choudhary or the “jihadis next door” in the Channel 4 coverage? Zero. None. Not one.
When you want to know why far-right Islamist hatred spreads in Europe you need to look at the total lack of pushback in society.
We talk about “extremism” and “radicalization” but these are just amorphous generalisms. Winston Churchill in 1941 called Nazism an ideology that sought to “build out of hatred, appetite and racial assertion a new order for Europe.” Why can’t our leaders and commentators say of far-right Islamism that it seeks to “build out of hated, appetite and religious assertion a new order for Europe”? What do you think it preaches? We are not provided through media or our leaders a view into the daily content being preached in far-right Islamist circles.
But if you go back to 2014 when an estimated 600 British jihadists, most of them born or raised in the UK, joined ISIS to commit genocide in Iraq and Syria, you’ll find their content on social media.
“Kill the kuffar,” they used to say. They used to brag about enslaving and raping indigenous women. They ingested daily religious far-right Islamist supremacy that encourages murder and genocide. What is surprising is that although millions were exposed to this hate, so few joined ISIS or become terrorists.
But for each ISIS volunteer – there were up to 5,000 from Europe – there were dozens or hundreds of sympathizers. Twitter has closed 636,248 accounts since August 2015 for advocating terrorism. How many from Europe are unclear, but it is a large number.
When we look at the profile of recent European terrorists we see a generation of men exposed to intolerance and farright Islamist hate. They were supposedly raised in state schools that teach tolerance, women’s rights and progressive values.
But the reality is that that’s not what they learned. They learned to hate and hate and hate. Indoctrination was done openly, not secretly. There is a form of jihadist privilege in places like the UK. If you join a neo-Nazi organization, you are opposed, you are mocked in society, you can’t get a job, people stand up to you and your offensive behavior. But if you have the exact same ideology, but hide under the cover of being a far-right Islamist, you are unopposed, your hate preaching gets venues, no one protests, and it is you who even get to dictate your views to others and feign offense.
People who openly support far-right Islamist groups are welcomed on stage at public events, allowed to segregate rooms at political rallies, welcomed at “interfaith” events. Society has determined that far-right Islamists are part of the “Left,” despite it having nothing to do with normative leftist values.
Far-right Islamism is allowed to swim among the “Left” because when it first arrived on Europe’s shores and in the West in general it was perceived as an exotic “other.” Bearded men talking about cutting off a women’s clitoris because it leads to “hypersexuality,” as an imam claimed in Virginia recently, were not taken seriously because they aired their far-right Islamist views in a foreign language, or their views were considered to affect people only in places like Egypt. Why are they different than Cambodian Communists back in the day preaching a “cleansing”; so long as its done in Cambodia, the West takes less interest. They are the “other” doing it some other place. The other gets a pass for hatred, because we don’t want to judge them and be racist against other cultures that are different.
Then people started listening to what the imams were saying. A Danish imam recently said in a sermon that the day of judgment “will not come unless the Muslims fight the Jews and the Muslims kill them.” In Montreal an imam said “destroy the accursed Jews.” In Canada another imam said that the enemies of Islam must be killed “one by one” and to “purify al-Aksa Mosque from the filth of the Jews.”
This is only the tip of the iceberg, a few examples where videos surfaced, from all the hundreds of extremist mosques, and thousands of sermons, where “kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill” is intoned weekly. And how many people protest and walk out? Few. None.
In the videos that surfaced in Canada and Denmark, no one walked out. They heard “kill the Jews” and saw nothing wrong with it. Mosques respond by saying they seek “clarification” from the imam, or that he only meant “Israelis.” Politicians say “free speech.” But there are laws against incitement to racism in many of these countries, so why are there almost never prosecutions? If you publicly call to “kill the Jews,” where are the prosecutions? Where is the protest against the intolerance and the far-right Islamist neo-Nazistyle rallies? Free speech is an easy lie to hide behind.
When the KKK exercises its “free speech,” people protest, often violently. So where is the protest against ISIS sermons? Today’s far-right Islamism is a European and Western phenomenon. It has morphed beyond Wahhabi or Salafist or jihadist circles, which originated in the Middle East and South Asia. It has become European far-right Islamism. Its converts speak English or French as a first language. It is not an exotic “other” that people need to be timid to confront, anymore than the British Union of Fascists was an exotic “other,” or the Nazis.
In 1936 anti-fascist protesters in the UK confronted fascists at the famous Cable Street. Until those who oppose the far Right are willing to take to the streets to confront Islamists, and not allow them free rein in public parks, or sermons, they will continue to win. In almost every case of European jihadism in recent years Muslims have warned authorities about the extremists.
Sometimes they called again and again and said “a man at my mosque is preaching jihad” and authorities quietly put the farright Islamist on a watch list and did nothing.
But it isn’t enough for authorities to track jihad and for a few guys to make a call.
It has to be opposed robustly, with mass protests and by changing the conversation from “extremism” and “radicalization” to “far-right Islamism.”
Today’s Nazism is far-right Islamism. It has as many members as the Nazis did in the 1920s. It sent 5,000 members to fight in Syria, like the fascists went to Spain.
It committed genocide and slavery. The new generation listening to the daily hate, “kill, kill,” is already being exposed to the mainstreaming of intolerance. Europeans and the West must decide: will they finally protest far-right Islamism, or just hold another candle vigil? Follow the author @Sfrantzman.