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put the spotlight on the growth of rightwing extremism in Europe and the definition of expressions such as ultra-right, far-right and radical right. First of all, it may be useful to look at the term rightwing. In a continent that only 65 years ago came out of the ashes of Nazism and Fascism, the concept of ³right -wing´ for many decades carried strong echoes of the past. At the same time, governments today in power in countries such as France, Germany, Britain and Italy are defined as ³conservative´ or ³right-wing´, or ³center-right´ coalitions. Until recently, radical rightwing parties were marginalized and considered disreputable. For example, Norway¶s Progress Party ± of which Breivik used to be a member²was isolated. Its anti-immigrant rhetoric made it a pariah party. The arrival over the last two decades of millions of immigrants ± mostly Muslims -- on a continent where the nation-state had been based on mono-ethnic societies, has given new impetus to the ultra-right parties. The turning points were the Islamist terrorist acts of 9/11, the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh (2004) and the Madrid and London bombings (2004, 2005). As Ian Buruma writes in The Nation, ³this finally gave right-wing populists a cause with which to crash into the center of European politics´. This is what writer Kenan Malik said in a NYT forum on this topic: ³Far right parties throughout Europe draw upon two distinct constituencies. The first is a core of hardline racist bigots -- many of these parties, like the British National Party and the Sweden Democrats emerged out of the neo-fascist swamp and some still live there. The bigots, however, have been joined by a swathe of new supporters whose hostility toward immigrants, minorities and Muslims is shaped less by old-fashioned racism than by a newfangled sense of fear and insecurity.´ The pool of voters for the ultra-right may have been enlarged by disgruntled and insecure centrists and even former leftists, but the parties¶ rhetoric and slogans are an echo of Europe¶s dark past ± xenophobia, anti-foreigner sentiment, defense of national identity and what is described as Western civilization. For this reason, although it has become the country¶s second largest, up to now, no other Norwegian political party has shown willingness to form a ruling coalition with the Progress Party. Nevertheless, many of anti-immigrant slogans are now entering mainstream European politics.
The fear of Islam and the specter of what they call ³Eurabia´ has allowed the far-right to claim the high ground ± with considerable success at the polls -- against liberals, accused of ³appeasing´ ³Islamo-fascists´. Very recently German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicholas Sarkozy declared the failure of multiculturalism, and promoted a vaguely-defined notion of ³integration´. The political discourse in Europe today is confused; political labels can overlap or even contradict each other. The far-right rhetoric of exclusion, of ³us against them´ of parties such as Norway¶s Progress Party ± have created the climate in which violence is increasingly possible.