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THE MUSINGS OF A TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN DEMOCRAT

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Sid in his law office where he sits when meeting with clients. Observant eyes will notice the statuette of one of Sid's favorite Democrats.

Friday, January 09, 2015

A Backlash Swells in Europe After Charlie Hebdo Attack - A loss of cultural identity

From The Wall Street Journal:

Europe’s ascendant anti-immigration and nationalist movements tried to capitalize on a deadly attack in Paris this week to trumpet a theme they have pressed for years, but rarely before with this much urgency: a loss of cultural identity.

“This bloodshed shows that anyone who ignored or laughed off the concerns about the threat Islamism poses is a fool,” said Alexander Gauland, a leader of Alternative for Germany, an upstart party that wants to limit immigration and take Germany out of the euro.

In the past, such rhetoric would be quickly dismissed as the ramblings of the political fringe. But these parties, from France to the Netherlands to the U.K., have been on the march in recent years, fueled by growing public discontent over a sense among many Europeans that their traditional way of life is threatened.

Europe’s persistent economic woes and the growing—and oft-resented—influence of the European Union in national affairs have provided an opening to these movements, which critics say prey on their citizens’ basest fears. These groups have long targeted Islam, whose growing presence on the continent they say threatens Europe’s cultural mores.

The radicalization of a generation of dispossessed Muslims in Middle Eastern wars in Iraq and Syria has only deepened fears, helping these parties to score their best showing ever in May’s European Parliamentary vote.

“Western governments have to realize that we are at war,” said Geert Wilders, the leader of the Netherlands’ Party for Freedom.

Europe’s establishment parties worry that the attack provides the nationalists more ammunition to sow xenophobia. Those tensions bubbled to the surface in France on Thursday.

Fears of terror were on the rise even before the Wednesday attack on the French magazine Charlie Hebdo that killed 12 people. A new survey of 1,005 people by polling company Ifop showed 80% of French people thought there was a high terrorist threat in France, the highest ever since the poll began after the Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S. in 2001.

The attack in France on Wednesday came at a particularly sensitive moment for Germany, where growing weekly anti-Islam demonstrations in the eastern city of Dresden have roiled the nation over the past month.

The Bertelsmann Stiftung, a German foundation, found that the share of non-Muslim Germans who viewed Islam as incompatible with the Western world rose to 61% in November 2014 from 52% in 2012.

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