On a cursory note, let us look back a decade earlier. The idea that extreme right would rise to power so sudden, would have been dismissed easily. Yet, to the surprise of the world, in just a span of 8 years, 2010-18, extreme right rose to the pinnacles of power throughout the world. Be it the election of Donald Trump in the US (2016), Victor Orban in Hungary (2010), Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines in (2016) or the more recent victory of Jair Bolsanaro in the presidential election of Brazil, the overwhelming populist victories are still continuing.
The rise of the Genie
Quoting Barack Obama, “Challenges to the globalization first came from the left, but more forcefully from the right, as you started seeing the populist movement that tapped the unease that was felt by many people”. The slogan “They eat our lunch” is eating the whole cake of democracy away. These vicious chauvinistic, racist, xenophobic and anti-immigrant elements of today’s modern society are reminiscent of the past’s Nazis or Fascists.
Turning east, the lynching of Muslims, Dalits, Adivasis is getting little attention in India. Mass murders and a refugee crisis of Rohingyas in Myanmar under the shadow of Noble Peace laureate Aang Sang Suy Ki doesn’t get the needed resolution by the international order. Similarly, the killing of Gauri Lankesh- a dissident journalist, romanticizing tying of a Kashmiri man to an army jeep as a human shield or media's bigotry towards the pellet victims of Kashmir is the obvious effect of the right.
The right-wing up-rise shows a global symmetry in a) revolt against the liberal or secular character of society, inclusiveness, democracy and diversity b) narrowing the space for minorities in their freedom of choice or expression c) romanticizing the idea of neo-ultra-nationalism minus foreigners d) anti-immigrants stance e) racism (as against Adivasis and Dalits) in India”, cultural superiority (as in white supremacist) of the US or Europe or Islamophobia (globally).
Similarly, India’s BJP’s anti-Nehruvian, US Republician’s anti-Mexican, Europe’s anti-immigrant or China’s anti-Uighur, the global stink of right-wing extremism belittles all the “alien grafts”. According to Martin Bull, director of a European Consortium of Political Research, “the swell in the support to populist’s leaders seemed to be rooted in 2008 financial crisis and particularly 2011 when banking crisis turned into a sovereign debt crisis”. Sounding right-wing themes of German’s Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative party or more imminent threat of taking over of power by right-wing alternative for Germany and Japan’s Shinzo Abe’s dragging of his liberal party on to nationalist route is fanning the fires of the right wing.
Link to Islamophobia
The recent repulsive, vile, disgusting and inhumane terrorist attack of an Aussie far-right extremist on two Masjids in Christchurch New Zealand, killing 50 people and injuring 50 more while they were offering Friday prayers links to the same route. He live-streamed his terrorist attack on Facebook, playing American civil war music in the background and had justified his act of terror by publishing his manifesto earlier. He planned it meticulously exactly during the prayers and with his semi-automatic weapon with an inscription of Islamophobia, Christian Crusades and right-wing ideology imprinted on it. What is worse, that when he entered the Masjid he was greeted at the door by a Muslim as ‘hello brother’. Even this humble gesture did not stop him from shooting children, women, and men mercilessly. Interestingly the authorities said that he was not in the watch list despite the reports (The Washington Post) of him having contacted Andres Brevik- a mass murderer of Oslo Norway. Hours before, he posted exactly what he was going to do on a website. The same website was previously flagged for child abuse pictures. Even these evident incidences did not ring the bells of the “Five Eyes”-a term used to describe the interlinked intelligence agencies of US, UK, New Zealand, Canada and Australia (and more European countries added now).
Why the bigotry?
The media and the politicians have created an atmosphere of fear and hate that is allowing far-right groups to flourish. Take for instance Tommy Robinson of the UK, the political bigotry and media’s hypocrisy is adding salt to the pepper of his Islam-phobic ideology. The irony is that a newspaper calls a Muslim attacker on a gay club “an ISIS maniac terrorist" and the same newspaper refer to the New Zealand shooter “an angelic little blond boy to whom something had happened during his travel while he was exploring the world that turned him into a mass shooter". It seems they are trying to water down his terror act by referring to the death of his father by cancer.
The point to ponder upon is that, hasn’t those statements of far-right politicians like Donald Trump “I think Islam hates us”, Boris Jhonson “Muslim women in veils are bank robbers”, Indian parliamentarian “ send Muslims to Pakistan or Muslims do not belong here” fanned egotistical bigotry, forced neo-imperialism and gave wings to extremists? Let’s ask ourselves, who are the world’s biggest arms dealers? Who dropped the Mother of all Bombs which countries have the biggest armies or arms expenditure? No Muslim country tops the list. Why Islamophobia then? Or the tougher questions like who were the real instigators of the Syrian war?
As by Recep Tayyip Erdogan “we do not hear the terms ‘Christian-terrorist’ (when multiple mass shooters kill kids in schools in the US or Masjids elsewhere), ‘Hindu-terrorist’ (when they lynch people on caste or religious bases), ‘Jewish-terrorist’ (when they kill innocent kids of Palestine) or ‘Buddhist-terrorist’ (when they wipe out the whole population of Rakhine Muslims)”. Why the world leaders do not vow to start a ‘war on terror’ when such incidents happen?
There can be interest hidden behind the facade of extremism but we must respect the human rights and pay heed to the human rights violations either in war-torn West Asia, Myanmar Rhongiyas, Palestinians or Kashmiris. Counter-mobilization against the cyber control or media control by these racists, ultra-nationalists or supremacists. Anti-misogynistic narratives, new political faces, more novel and balanced ideologies may be some methods to loosen the ground of the right. Reverse the media manipulation and change the narratives from fake news and propaganda to real facts.
The solidarity of New Zealand’s prime minister and the support of the international community against the Friday attack was overwhelming and encouraging. But we need to keep note of the thing that the future of democracies around the world depends upon the action taken against these disruptive elements and the action must be taken now. Otherwise, a new and more extreme version of Nazism or Fascism would be ringing our doorbells soon.