With the attention of the world focused squarely on the coronavirus pandemic, countering its effects and ensuring that economies here, in the region and globally are positioned to bounce back from the severe hibernation wrought by the disease, it has been easy to overlook some of the more alarming trends developing around the world.
And reports out of Germany and Europe point to an alarming rise in right-wing groups intent on a campaign of violence against minority groups.
The propensity for right-wing elements with anti-Islamic and anti-refugee agendas to embrace violence as a method of political activity is not new. Indeed, we cannot forget the lessons of history over the past eight decades in Europe where fascism was embellished with thuggery, bullying and street violence, escalating into its more severe state-sponsored form.
There is a slippery slope indeed from posting hurtful images, videos and messages on social media to going that extra step and willfully planning violence against people whose creed, colour or culture differs from these extremists accept as their norm
The lessons are clear – unless authorities and powers that be act with fairness, evenhandedness and speed, these right-wing groups use violence as a modus opperandi, and will do so with increased impunity. Certainly, mass shootings over the past decade around the world have been perpetrated by right-wing fanatics driven to violence by their poisonous and polemical politics.
A bomb attack in Oslo preceding a shooting attack on a children’s camp on a idyllic Norwegian island; a mass attack on two mosques in Christchurch as the faithful gathered to pray.
Plot in Germany
Reports now from Germany suggest that rightwing elements amassed weapons and used their training to plan attacks on refugees.
The only crime of the refugees? Wanting a new, better life away from the violence and privations of their homelands, a haven where they could start life anew, raise families and become active participants in their new homes.
But Germany is not alone and, across Europe, right-wing parties and politics have taken root. Extremism has been embraced by right-wing parties in Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Denmark, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Greece, Austria, Germany, France and Spain. Hate speech proliferates on social media.
There is a slippery slope indeed from posting hurtful images, videos and messages on social media to going that extra step and willfully planning violence against people whose creed, colour or culture differs from these extremists accept as their norm.
There is, however, a responsibility on each and every one of us to confront those who post such content online, reporting it, deleting it. Remember, all it takes for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.