Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Refugee crisis brings racist rhetoric back into the European mainstream

Refugee children - Idomeni transit camp, northern Greece

''The waves of immigrants threaten to turn Europe into an endless hell of Islamic terrorism"

Greek Orthodox bishop Anthimos - Thessaloniki 14th February 2016

The current refugee crisis  has awakened the very worst in Europe's collective psyche, with racist rhetoric that would have been considered unacceptable in "respectable" discourse a few years ago becoming part of mainstream political discussions. Ideas and attitudes that were once the preserve of far right extremists are gradually worming their way into media and political debate as the arrival of refugees prompts responses that often verges on the hysterical.

Bishop Anthimos, who has long been a fixed feature of the Greek Orthodox ultra-nationalist far right addressed a conference on Sunday in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki in order to draw attention to the supposed threat of the "Islamisation" of Europe. In this he is hardly along as similar ideas are quickly gaining ground in other nations (just see Hungary's PM, Viktor Orban and the rise of the Pegida movement in Germany and elsewhere. With austerity policies making the traditional parties of power ever increasingly unpopular, many politicians have been happy to scapegoat refugees directly or ride the wave of fear whipped up by mainstream media outlets looking to boost flagging ratings and declining political influence.

With many European states willing to use heavily armed NATO warships to stem the flow of refugees in the Aegean and fund Macedonia to fence in EU member, Greece the fear of the Other so shamelessly cultivated by much the continent's mainstream media is bearing poisonous fruit, Once more Europe has shown that Fear sells, both at the polling both and the news stand.

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