Paris attack adds fuel to Europe's anti-Islam movements

The latest attack in Paris could well provide more fuel for anti-Islam movements across Europe

Paris attack adds fuel to Europe's anti-Islam movements

World Bulletin/News Desk

Anti-immigrant groups in Germany seized on Wednesday's deadly attack in Paris, with leaders of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and PEGIDA saying it showed "the threat of Islamist violence."

Twelve people were killed when gunmen stormed the offices of a French satirical magazine known for lampooning Islam.

"This bloodbath proves wrong those who laughed or ignored the fears of so many people about a looming danger of Islamism," said Alexander Gauland, a regional AfD leader. "This gives new clout to PEGIDA demands."

PEGIDA, or Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West, itself reacted strongly to the Paris attack.

"The Islamists, against whom PEGIDA has been warning over the last 12 weeks, showed in France today that they are not capable of (practising) democracy but instead see violence and death as the solution," PEGIDA wrote on its Facebook page.

"Our political leaders want us to believe the opposite is true," the group added.

"Does a tragedy like this first have to happen in Germany?"

A top ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned as "sleaze" the eurosceptic AfD's comments.

"It's sleaze to instrumentalise the attack for political aims," Parliamentary floor leader Volker Kauder told Focus magazine online.

Merkel and her government have condemned the grassroots movement PEGIDA, which drew a record crowd of 18,000 to its latest rally on Monday in Dresden.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Wednesday the attack in Paris had nothing to do with Islam.

PEGIDA, which began as a protest movement against plans for new asylum-seekers' shelters, has shaken Germany's establishment with its increasingly popular rallies.

National leaders have called on the public to shun its demonstrations, which Merkel said were organised by people with "hatred in their hearts".

PEGIDA has drawn support from the far right and from ordinary Germans alarmed by a sharp increase in refugees, many of whom are fleeing conflict in the Middle East.

The chairman of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, Aiman Mazyek, speaking to the Rheinische Post newspaper, described the Paris attack as a “betrayal of the Islamic faith.” However, he said that he feared the terrorist attack in Paris would provide fuel for anti-Islamic movements in Germany nonetheless.

The leader of the anti-Islam Freedom Party in the Netherlands, Geert Wilders, took aim at the Dutch and European political establishments and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

"When will Rutte and other western government leaders finally get the message: it's war," Wilders said.

Polls show the anti-immigration National Front in France taking the lead in a first-round vote over established parties. The National Front has gained at least some traction by voicing fear of the spread of Islam. The country is home to Europe's largest Muslim population, with more than 5 million people of the faith out of a population of about 65 million.

Prince Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, the United Nations envoy for human rights, warned the attacks could be exploited by extremists.

"If this attack is allowed to feed discrimination and prejudice, it will be playing straight into the hands of extremists whose clear aim is to divide religions and societies," Al Hussein said in a statement.

"With xenophobia and anti-migrant sentiments already on the rise in Europe, I am very concerned that this awful, calculated act will be exploited."

Danish newspaper prints Charlie Hebdo cartoons on Islam

The Danish newspaper Berlingske has republished cartoons attacking Islamic beliefs from the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, as part of its coverage of the attack which killed 12 people in Paris on Wednesday.

The Thursday print edition of Berlingske, available online on Wednesday night, showed several past front pages from the French magazine. Among them was one depicting the Prophet Mohammad and another about Islamic law.

Berlingske's Editor in Chief Lisbeth Knudsen said her newspaper's action in republishing the cartoons was not a protest.

"We will print them as documentation of what kind of a magazine it was that has been hit by this terrible event," Knudsen told news agency BNB.

The managing editor of Corriere della Sera, Italy's leading newspaper, said in a video editorial on Wednesday that his daily would also republish Charlie Hebdo's cartoons.

When another Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, in 2005 published 12 cartoons, most of which depicted the Prophet Mohammad in a degrading way, it sparked a wave of protests across the Muslim world in which at least 50 died.

 

Last Mod: 08 Ocak 2015, 13:05
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