UK

UAF Conference: Europe's Anti-Fascists Warn Of Neo-Nazi Rise

04/03/2013 12:42 GMT | Updated 05/03/2013 15:30 GMT

Britain must be part of a co-ordinated effort to help defeat far-right and neo-Nazi parties across Europe, like Greece's Golden Dawn and Hungary's Jobbik, European campaigners have said.

Anti-racism activists from France and Greece addressed the Unite Against Fascism conference this weekend, warning against mainstream politicians adopting policies from extreme right parties like Marine Le Pen's Front National in France, in order to win votes.

Petros Constantinou, a councillor in Athens and one of the country's leading activists against the fascist party Golden Dawn, said more and more extreme parties had emerged in the country, as the mainstream parties became more inclusive of anti-immigrant and xenophobic policies.

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A woman shouts slogans during a protest against racism and neo-Nazism, at the suburb of Nikaia near Athens

His comments were echoed by for Labour MEP Glyn Ford, in a workshop on the rise of the far right in Europe. "Things can only worse. It's happening in France, Italy, parties are prepared to move even further to the right.

"And it's not just Europe, it's happening all over the world. In Japan, a Le Pen style party, the Japan Restoration party, is almost the official opposition, they have won so many seats.

"Far-right parties are becoming more acceptable. In Greece, LAOS used to be the far-right party, now they are part of the equivalent of the Conservative party.

"And we see the rise of an even more extreme, neo-Nazi style party, Golden Dawn. We've had parties on the rise in Austria, Pym Fortuyn's party in Holland."

Marwan Mohammed, from the Collective Against Islamophobia in France, said that far-right policies were already influencing politicians in France too. "Muslim-bashing is the national sport in a country, two hours away on the Eurostar. [Former Prime Minister Nicholas] Sarkozy defeated the Front National candidate, but not the ideas.

"The right-wing ideology, neo-Nazi ideas, is penetrating mainstream right parties. We also have left-wing, secularist parties who ban Muslim women from participation in public life because they wear a headscarf.

"They can't bake cakes for sale at children's schools, because they can't enter the school in a headscarf. That can happen here."

He joked: "Don't take multiculturalism for granted. Multiculturalism can be sexy."

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United Against Racism and Fascist Violence Movement coordinator Petros Constantinou

Constantinou said that he did not believe it was inevitable that the racist parties would gain support in a recession, if there were a co-ordinated alternative, sending out an anti-fascist message. "The rise of Golden Dawn is connected with political crisis.

"Most people who support nationalist parties like Golden Dawn, they are not Nazis, they are not fascists.

"There is a small nucleus of people who are, but most people are ordinary, shopkeepers who have lost their businesses. They are angry at the government. It is crucial to build a united movement to stop them. We have had 100,000 people march again Golden Dawn in Greece."