Suzette Bronkhorst Sec Gen Inter Network Against Cyber Hate INACH

Hate Groups are Taking Over

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Interview with Suzette Bronkhorst, Secretary General of the International Network Against Cyber Hate (INACH). As an expert, can you give our listeners a quick overview of the situation in Europe with hate groups? How many are there? What types are there? There are hundreds of hate groups all over Europe, on the internet, of course, also.

Interview with Suzette Bronkhorst, Secretary General of the International Network Against Cyber Hate (INACH).

As an expert, can you give our listeners a quick overview of the situation in Europe with hate groups? How many are there? What types are there?

There are hundreds of hate groups all over Europe, on the internet, of course, also. Some of them host their material outside of Europe to circumvent European legislation. But these groups are nothing new. They’ve been around forever and, actually, especially on the internet. A German hate group was the first one in 1986 to discover the internet with its tremendous possibilities.

Has the terrorist act in Norway put a focus on these hate groups?

The problem is that these hate groups have been doing it all the time. It’s just because of the terrorist attack that the attention gets back to them. But the worrisome developments in Europe are that if you go to a so-called regular web-forum and populous websites you’ll see that the response there is much more far-reaching than on, for instance, a site like Stormfront, which is like a racist hub for hate groups, mostly from the US. In comparison, the response there is mild.

You’ve mentioned several times that these sites have been hosted in the US. What are the rules in Europe regarding these hate groups and them having websites?

It differentiates from country to country – that’s one of the reasons why it’s difficult to work out a Europe-broad way of combating these groups. But, in general, a lot of European countries have hate-speech legislation. But everyone has that. Even the US has it. But there it gets restricted by the Freedom of Speech Amendment.

How do US hate groups assist or work with European hate groups?

The thing with the internet is that you have hate groups all over and they just look at each other’s sites and, therefore can learn things from each other. In Europe, you see, there are a lot of Eastern European hate groups, who are much more violent in general, teach violence to other groups, while the other groups are more technically advanced and give technical support to Eastern European groups. And it’s also, of course, that there can be one or two people and they can look like a real movement.

Are you saying that some of these groups are not as big as they appear to be?

Yes. Not only that but also they are virtual. They don’t actually sit together as a group.

Do these groups exist?

Of course, they exist. There is Blood and Honour group in several countries. And they also form groups in real life, like the English Defense League.

That’s interesting. I’d like to talk about the English Defense League and about any insights you have on the connections between them and the Norwegian Breivik.

The English Defense League started about 1.5 years ago. It was a hardcore group of football hooligans in England. Then they organized through Facebook and did all these anti-Islamic demonstrations. Then, you also have the Norwegian Defense League, which Breivik was a part of. The English Defense League actually hosts the Norwegian Defense League.

So, there is the Norwegian Defense League? I also heard there was an Irish Defense League.

Yes, that’s true. There is the Belgian Defense League. But still the English Defense League is the strongest. In the Netherlands, they came in support of the Dutch Defense League to demonstrate for freedom of speech for Geert Wilders and then it came out that the Dutch Defense League was actually two people.

Can you remind the listeners who that was?

Geert Wilders has a Freedom Party (PVV) in the Netherlands and he is now the supporter of the minority governement in the Netherlands. He and his party helped the minority government to push things through. He’s a virulent anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim person. He talks about war against Islam, that the Quran is a fascist book compared with Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

He has obviously not read either book. But let me ask you a question about these Defense League groups. Would you characterize them as being anti-Islam or near-Nazi?

All of the above.

So they are against Islam, against Jews, against immigrants.

Against everything not nationalistic or English, whatever that is.

How do these groups interact with each other? How do they communicate? Does the internet help them a lot?

Of course, it helps a lot. The English Defense League is a perfect example of that. It was started by a small group of football hooligans, they got onto Facebook and now their membership grows and grows and grows. They have demonstrations all over England, often with a lot of violence involved. And the National Front Party, the fascist party, did too badly in England. And its former members went into it. They got support from the British National Party, which actually always participates in elections.

Neo-Nazi English Defense League  

Download audio file   5 September 2011, 16:51  

Interview with Suzette Bronkhorst, General Manager of the Internet Center for Anti-Racism in Europe (I-CARE at www.icare.to ) Last time we talked we discussed the tactics used by neo-Nazi groups. One of them was provocation. Can you tell our listeners about the choice of the location for the demonstration by the English Defense League (EDL) in Britain?

Interview with Suzette Bronkhorst, General Manager of the Internet Center for Anti-Racism in Europe (I-CARE at www.icare.towww.icare.to  )

Last time we talked we discussed the tactics used by neo-Nazi groups. One of them was provocation. Can you tell our listeners about the choice of the location for the demonstration by the English Defense League (EDL) in Britain?

They went to Tower Hamlets. There is a big mosque there. Actually, the Ministry for the Interior forbade marches for 30 days, so they organized what is called a “static” demonstration – they were standing still. It couldn’t be forbidden. But a thousand people turned up and 3,000 policemen at the other side, opposing demonstrations, that stood near the mosque to protect it. They were with 1,500 people. And a riot broke out between the police and EDL. The funny thing that happened in England is that Scotland Yard have been accused of underestimating the threat from EDL, because the head of the unit monitoring hate groups declared it’s not an extremist organization, because he looked at their website and said it was not extreme. But they did after all deem it necessary to invite 3,000 policemen to keep a group of a thousand people down. That’s strange. But Breivik shouldn’t work in favour of EDL.

I think after the Breivik tragedy they got a lot of press attention. They wouldn’t have got otherwise.

Yes, but if you get attention like being involved into a huge terrorist attack, that wouldn’t be in your favor, would it?

No, it wouldn’t. And I think maybe their activities had quieted down a little bit. So, I was surprised to hear that they were still holding big demonstration.

I’m sorry to say but this is a kind of vermin and they never quiet down.

Was there a special reason why they chose this day, in particular? Neo-Nazi groups love to play with numbers, dates and stuff.

No, not that I can see. They just want to keep their momentum of demonstrations going, I guess. In Britain, they have a lot of opposition from the state that tries to stop demonstrations because of public order, or to be precise disorder. Then, of course, they started to talk about freedom of speech.

Was there any connection between the last time we talked and now when there were huge riots in Great Britain? Was EDL involved in those extensively, with football fans etc?

As far as I can see, the rioting that went on was a strange mix of things because there were a lot of just ordinary looters. But it started, of course, at a black man getting shot by the police. So, there were a lot of things at the same time. And it’s not in particular EDL. What they did do is they started these neighborhood watch patrols.

The EDL did?

Yes, although they didn’t announce it like that. If you would see those neighborhood watch groups walking through the streets and what they were saying – they were definitely part of it.

They tried to pretend to be like Citizens Vigilante group or something?

Yes, to protect the streets.

Strange.

Not so strange. It’s actually quite smart, if you can control the people that are in these Vigilante groups.

It’s just strange that this group would be allowed to do that.

Well, they are not allowed – they do it, so what are you going to do.

Do the events in London have any relationship to the events that happened a few hours ago in Dortmund, Germany?

No, the rioting in Dortmund has no connection to the demonstration in London. The problem was that Dortmund police tried to keep the opposing demonstration, the counter-demonstration and the neo-Nazi apart, and that didn’t work out.

How accurate do you think are reports that anti-Nazi demonstrators attacked the police?

The anti-Nazi? They didn’t. Actually, the neo-Nazi did. As it’s called in the media, the left-wing protesters. I don’t know why anti-racism or anti-fascism has to be left-wing.

They broke through the barriers?

That was separating the two groups. Then a scuffle broke out, in which a police officer was seriously injured, because they stood in between the two groups.

I was alarmed to see that the two events happened so closely together in two different European cities. Have you picked up anything on your radar about any further activities or protests like this in Europe in the near future?

No. EDL is planning more marching in Great Britain. But there is a lot of going on in Europe, which is very concerning, I think.

Could you give us some examples?

With the whole atmosphere of groups standing opposite each other, the extreme right wing that moves up in politics, the intolerance – it’s very extreme, very worrisome.

It’s growing?

Oh, yes. And they are getting into political power now more and more in several countries.

Is there anything people can do to prevent it?

These groups and political parties just come out with what is wrong with the country but they never come with solutions. And therefore it’s like “it’s a war against Islam!” or “a war against the Roma,” war guns writing non-democratic measures.

But they have no intelligent solution to anything, right?

They have no solution. Period.

So, you don’t see anything happening in Europe in the near future. What about the upcoming anniversary of September 11 events in the US? Are neo-Nazi groups in Europe or anywhere that you know planning events for that date?

Yes, in the US, a lot. Probably, in Europe, you will have some activity, because it’s always a good opportunity to bash some more Muslims

 

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