Hate in Europe: August 2018

The following is a list of activities and events linked to American white supremacist, neo-Nazi, anti-LGBT, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim groups in Europe. Organizations listed as hate groups are designated with an asterisk.

United Kingdom

Tommy Robinson supporters attack socialist bookstore in London: On August 4, 2018, a dozen supporters of the prominent U.K. anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim activist Tommy Robinson did a stunt action at the socialist bookshop Bookmarks in London. They entered the shop to cries of “Trump, Trump, we love Trump!”, “Fuck communism!” and “pedophile lovers!” One was wearing a Trump mask, and others wore “Make Britain Great Again” hats. They then sang the name of Tommy Robinson. The event is another example of how even far-right activists overseas draw inspiration from the president of the United States during actions.

Tommy Robinson gets his Instagram account back: Tommy Robinson’s arrest for covering and politicizing a trial has been a cause célèbre on the far-right, even as he was subsequently freed on appeal. Though he was momentarily banned from social media platform Instagram this month, his account was reinstated after 18 hours as the company said it had removed the account “in error.”

UKIP members suspended for their role in bookstore action: Three of the activists at the Bookmarks action were members of the far-right United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), and were later suspended from the party for their participation in the event.

Far-right personalities Sargon of Akkad and Infowars’ Paul Joseph Watson counseling UKIP: Though UKIP has attempted to distance itself from inflammatory figures in the past, it has now turned its back on this strategy. Under the leadership of Gerard Batten, senior party figures met with new UKIP members and far-right social media influencers to discuss communication. The meeting was with Paul Joseph Watson, British editor of the conspiracy website Infowars, and far-right Gamergate personality Carl Benjamin (known as Sargon of Akkad). The party’s support among the public has increased by 4 percent in the past month.

As a source told Sky News, the goal is to use them as “outriders for the party.” The source went on, “These guys are great communicators, whether you like what they communicate or not.” The party has been plagued by dwindling numbers, in part because of the virulent anti-immigrant politics of Theresa May’s administration, but has experienced increased membership as it seeks to attract the youth by reinventing itself as a party leaning toward the racist “alt-right.”

Trouble brews as Generation Identity leader tied to neo-Nazi group: Anti-immigrant group Generation Identity U.K. and Ireland demonstrated ever more problematic ties when it was revealed on August 11 that its former U.K. leader, the Norwegian Tore Rasmussen (since banned from the U.K.), had been part of neo-Nazi group Vigrid, and was even referred to as a “lieutenant” by Vigrid’s leader. Rasmussen had been one of eight charged, and the only acquitted, in the brutal stabbing of two African immigrants in Stavanger, Norway, while the group was handing out racist literature.

The 23-year-old banker, who was also leading Generation Identity U.K., Tom Dupré, left the group over the revelation, in the middle of Generation Identity’s summer university, a week in rural France during which activists attend fight trainings, climbing exercises and conferences.

The rest of the Identitarian leadership seemed unmoved by the revelations, with the other U.K. leader, Benjamin Jones, saying that Rasmussen had “wiped his hands clean of youthful misjudgements.” Martin Sellner, the leader of Generation Identity Austria and of the GI’s pan-European organization, Defend Europe, also sided with Rasmussen, tweeting:

“Of course Tom knows that Tores past does not make him a neonazi now, and that in no way his work for GI does make it a neonazi movement. Unfortunately he is using this situation for his personal benefit by hurting GI.”

Martin Sellner tweet
Martin Sellner tweet

Sellner had also belonged to antisemitic groups in his youth, according to the undercover documentary “Inside Britain’s New Far Right.”

Russia

Ku Klux Klan lawyer Sam Dickson just returned from a month in Russia : In an August 11, 2018, episode of the racist, antisemitic radio show “The Political Cesspool” (TPC), Dickson claimed he attended a march led by the Russian Orthodox Church for the 100th anniversary of the execution of the Russian Royal family. Tens of thousands also marched in the street. During the podcast, Dickson called the members of activist group Pussy Riot “dirty vulgar little prostitutes.” Pussy Riot is known for its support of feminism and LGBT people as well as its opposition to Russian president Vladimir Putin.

American white nationalists have long been looking to Russia for collaboration, with a consistent history of meetings between American and Russian white nationalists. As host James Edwards reflected, Russia and other Eastern European countries might be “the key to white survival.”

A look at Russian government’s co-option of far-right militias, gangs and hooligans: An excellent piece in The Atlantic published on August 29, 2018, looks at how the Russian government uses fight clubs, neo-Nazi soccer hooligans and motorcycle gangs for its political aim. In the words of the author, Michael Carpenter:

“The recruitment, indoctrination, and manipulation of fringe right-wing groups seems aimed at sowing political chaos in Western democracies and subverting or weakening democratic institutions. But occasionally, as in Ukraine, these proxies can operate directly in support of Kremlin operations.”

Germany

Violent anti-immigrant protests in Chemnitz: Violent and xenophobic protests have been held in Chemnitz after the stabbing of a German man at a city fair, allegedly by an Iraqi and a Syrian man. A protest on August 26 saw an estimated 6,000 people gather — as opposed to 1,500 counter-protesters — to chants of “For every dead German, a dead foreigner,” “lying press” and “Germany for the Germans, Foreigners out.” The crowd then broke into smaller groups that chased and attacked people they assumed were immigrants. Ten people are also currently being investigated for doing the Nazi salute, which is illegal in Germany.

The far-right, anti-immigrant street movement PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident) also organized another anti-immigrant protest on August 27.

The far-right party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), which has been key in stoking anti-immigrant sentiment in the country, rode the wave of violence, with AfD parliamentarian Markus Frohnmaier writing on Twitter, “If the state can no longer protect the citizen, then people will go on the streets and protect themselves.” The AfD is in the lead for upcoming elections in Saxony.

The party organized a silent march alongside PEGIDA to commemorate the victim of the stabbing on September 1, asking protesters to be non-violent and not display political symbols. Still, some harbored T-shirts or tattoos with known neo-Nazi imagery. Eighteen were injured in clashes between 4,000 counter-protesters who blocked the protest. A 20-year-old Afghan man was also attacked by four masked people that day, some distance from the demonstrations.

The march was attended by far-right, anti-immigrant American YouTuber Brittany Pettibone. Pettibone has been a key voice advertising European anti-immigrant identitarian actions in the U.S. She attended the march alongside Sellner, to whom she is engaged.

German chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the violent protests. A concert held September 3 in support of refugees and against the violence held saw more than 60,000 people gather in the city from all over the country.

Images of American domestic abuse victims in Chemnitz: As The Daily Beast revealed, a meme popular with German fascists was printed on signs on the first day of the Chemnitz protests. It featured pictures of English, Canadian and American women who were domestic abuse victims and falsely portrays them as victims of violent immigrants.

Allegations of police ties to anti-immigrant PEGIDA leader emerge, but are later questioned: Allegations of a link between the police and PEGIDA leader Lutz Bachmann emerged when Bachmann was the first to tweet the arrest warrant of one of the Chemnitz murder suspects on August 29. An employee of a local prison service was since suspended for potentially leaking the record.

Neo-Nazi march in Berlin: On August 18, around 500 neo-Nazis walked through the streets of Berlin, protected by the police, for the 31st anniversary of the death of Nazi war criminal Rudolf Hess. They brandished flags of the Third Reich and held up a banner reading: “I regret nothing. National Socialists Berlin.” An estimated thousand counter-protesters interrupted the march.

Generation Identity conference in Dresden: Meanwhile, the German GI (Identitäre Bewegung Deutschland, Generation Identity Germany) organized a conference in Dresden on August 25, 2018, on the theme “Our Europe.” The conference included 120 Dezibel, an ostensibly female-led campaign against rape and sexual harassment by immigrants, as well as other identitarian groups.

Hungary

Orbán government proposes cuts to gender studies: The Orbán government has been leveraging the power of government funding to rid itself of ideologies it equates with destructive Western values. It has notably proposed to cut funding to gender-studies university courses, likely ending the programs after current students complete their studies.

Orbán government to cut programs for refugees and asylum seekers: In this vein, the Central European University founded by Hungarian philanthropist George Soros — which Orban has previously attempted to close — has been forced to end programs for refugees and asylum seekers after Orbán levied an extra 25 percent “immigration surtax” on activities that assist immigration. Orbán has become an ideological leader of Europe’s anti-immigrant and far-right factions. He has long promoted the myth that George Soros aims to annihilate Europe deliberately by pushing for immigration. In response, Orbán and other far-right leaders and activists have pushed for a crackdown on Soros-funded nonprofit organizations, often engaging in antisemitic rhetoric to discredit them.

Anti-LGBT hate groups cheer for Orbán: Orbán’s measures are popular on the American Christian Right. Brian Brown, the head of the anti-LGBT International Organization for the Family (IOF)*, which hosted its 2017 World Congress of Families* in Budapest, claimed in an IOF newsletter that:

The International Organization for the Family (IOF) is Soros’ chief nemesis around the globe. We’ve successfully pushed back against him, working with governments like the Hungarian government of Viktor Orban [sic] to oppose Soros’ work, and educating and equipping the pro-family movement to similarly push back.

The late Larry Jacobs, who was IOF’s managing director until his death in April, had also praised the attempts of Orbán to shut down the Soros-funded Central European University, as recorded by Right Wing Watch.

The IOF and WCF are involved in a global traditionalist bloc of conservative, anti-LGBT and illiberal countries like Russia and Hungary. They oppose so-called Western influence, which they equate to a homosexual and pro-immigrant agenda, and increasingly serve the role of a soft-power platform to facilitate the projects of expansionist, traditionalist Russian Orthodox oligarchs.

France

Identitarians sue a critic: After the July anti-immigrant Identitarian action of Defend Europe in the Alps turned into a manhunt for immigrants, Identitarians are suing one of their critics, Madjid Messaoudène, for “public insults.” He called them Nazis in a tweet. Hundreds of activists, administrators and political officials signed a letter in solidarity with Messaoudène. The head of the French Communist party, Thomas Portes, also had to appear in court based on GI’s allegations of insults, after he called the Alps mission “racist and disgusting.” This continues a pattern in which pro-migrant activists are prosecuted. For instance, three activists who had crossed the border with migrants to protest the Identitarian action in the Alps are since facing trial. Meanwhile, anti-immigrant activists can operate in near impunity.

Defend Europe summer university: All GI chapters and Defend Europe held their sixteenth Identitarian “ summer university ” in France in August (see United Kingdom section).

The French Mollie Tibbetts: Much like the anti-immigrant American far-right is using the murder of Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts by an allegedly undocumented immigrant to stoke anti-immigrant sentiment against the family’s will, the French GI has seized the murder of young Adrien Perez to advance its political agenda. The young man was stabbed and killed on July 29 after trying to defend his friend who was being attacked outside a nightclub in Meylan, France.

The alleged perpetrators — Younes and Yanis El-Habib, one of whom turned himself into the police — have been used to feed GI's racist narrative that French citizens are relentlessly murdering white French citizens. Dozens of far-right Identitarian activists organized a flash action in front of the Grenoble court with signs calling for “Justice for Adrien,” declaring themselves the “generation anti-thug.”

While Perez’s parents asked the government to stop the “ultraviolent minority of thugs” who terrorize people and allegedly killed their son, they refused the group’s racist narrative. The family lawyer declared on behalf of the family that “the beautiful face of Adrien should not become, for some, the flag of hatred and of a reductive vision that is not the one of the family.” [Quotation translated from French.] The family’s call went unheeded, as GI continues to use Perez as a symbol.

Sweden

Neo-Nazi rally in Stockholm: the neo-Nazi group Nordic Resistance Movement held a six-hour rally in Stockholm on August 25, with about equal numbers of protesters and counter-protesters.

Rise of far-right Sweden Democrats ahead of September elections: The rally occurred in the context of the rise of the anti-immigrant far-right in the country, ahead of a planned election September 9 The far-right, anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats are currently the third-place party in the polls with 19 percent of votes, amid confrontations between far-right party members and protesters. The party garnered 13 percent of the vote in the 2014 elections. The former budget director of the Sweden Democrats, Christoffer Dulny, is close to the American alt-right, most notably Richard Spencer, and heads the Nordic alt-right.

Two Sweden Democrats expelled for posting or purchasing Nazi and racist material: Two candidates in the Sweden Democrats were kicked out of the party after revelations that they had purchased Nazi and racist items online. One had purchased material from the Nordic Resistance Movement’s online store and posted an online tribute to Hitler. According to a report, nine other members of the party could be tied to such racist and Nazi purchases.

Upcoming events

Vienna, Austria: Gedenken 1683: Identitarian activists are preparing a commemoration September 8 of the Kahlenberg battle that prevented the Ottomans from conquering Vienna in 1683.

Grosseto, Italy: CasaPound’s annual celebration: The neo-fascist group CasaPound will host its annual celebration September 7-9. The head of CasaPound, Gianluca Iannone, and its national secretary, Simone di Stefano, will attend.  

World Congress of Families: The twelfth annual conference of the WCF will be hosted on September 13-16, 2018, by the country of Moldova. It is being sponsored by WCF, the anti-LGBT hate group International Organization for the Family, the global petition platform affiliated to WCF Citizen Go and Din Suflet, the charity of the wife of the pro-Russian Moldovan president. It is also financed  by Russian Orthodox oligarch Konstantin Malofeev. At WCF conferences, vicious anti-LGBT rhetoric is aired and participants plan anti-LGBT legislation and campaigns. The events have also become a vector of Russian Orthodox soft power in Europe.

Copenhagen, Denmark: The Scandza forum, a key networking event for American and European white nationalists, will be held in Copenhagen on September 15. American white supremacists Jared Taylor of American Renaissance * and Greg Johnson of Counter-Currents* as well as Nordic alt-right founder Christoffer Dulny, will attend.

Rome, Italy: Alliance for Peace and Freedom conference on immigration: The Alliance for Peace and Freedom, a consortium of far-right and neo-fascist parties at the European Parliament, will be holding a conference called “United Against Immigration and Terrorism” on November 12. It will include Forza Nuova’s Roberto Fiore and former president of the far-right British National Party Nick Griffin. Forza Nuova has a number of links to the Italian pro-life group Pro Vita, a WCF ally.