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Naive for Europe to dismiss extremism

The overwhelming sense of relief in Europe's established political, social and religious establishment at the failure of Norbert Hofer, the leader of Austria's far-Right Freedom Party, to win his country's presidential election seems at best a temporary moment of respite - given half of the voting populace backed him.

It is simplistic to generalise - as French Prime Minister Manuel Valls did - and say Austrians have rejected "populism and extremism (and) everyone in Europe should learn from this".

This is clearly an expression of hope, not reality, given the ascent of ultra-nationalist parties like France's Front National and Germany's Alternative for Deutschland (Afd) and the success of Scandinavian and Slavic ultra-nationalists.

Mass migrations from the Middle East, Africa and Asia have completely broken a post-Second World War template of Caucasian, Christian European hegemony.

This has facilitated extremism on both sides of the spectrum; which, in many respects, replicates the continent-wide political and social forces of a pre-war Europe that was polarised by hatred of the "other".

This has led to the targeting of existing minorities, whose forebears have been in Europe for generations. Consequently, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia have become the norm.


Kinsale, Co Cork

Belfast Telegraph


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