'Islam now main far-right target'

By Jessica Elgot, November 10, 2011
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A rally in Hungary by the extremist Jobbik party

A rally in Hungary by the extremist Jobbik party

A report into far-right extremism across Europe has found that instances of antisemitism are extremely low and hardline Islamophobia dominates most nationalist groups.

The report by British think-tank Demos is the largest-ever study of online support for populist movements in Europe, and takes in groups such as the English Defence League and the British National Party.

It showed far-right activists to be predominantly young, male, cynical about politicians and virulently anti-Islam and anti-immigration.

Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake, vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, said: "It is no surprise that Islamophobia is a predisposition for members of these groups, which have always thrived on suspicion of 'others'. It would, however, be a foolish move to discount the antisemitism, which although now publicly repugnant, lies just under the covers."

The Demos report's authors noted: "In contrast to anti-Islam sentiment, antisemitic and anti-Roma references made up less than one per cent of responses."

The report offered a possible explanation: "Although it is often believed that people join populist parties and movements because they dislike non-members of their ethnic group, the reality appears more nuanced, with many citing positive defence of liberal Western values, albeit often in juxtaposition to the threat of Islam."

    Last updated: 12:12pm, November 10 2011