Attitudes toward immigrants worsening

Fear of the person next door easily becomes fear of foreigners. Migrants are seen by some as competing for jobs, providing cheap labor and bringing wages down. Then along come the parties of the extreme right, promising to deal with the serious problems of job insecurity and a threatened national identity. However, those who support the populist right as a form of protest are actually accepting views and practices that go beyond the bounds of democratic dialogue. What the political parties that have until now taken turns in power may not realize is that their inability to deal with crucial socioeconomic problems has created a crisis of confidence in the system. One outcome is that some voters are attracted by parties that espouse economic protectionism and oppose immigration, multiculturalism and globalization – parties that reject international organizations, including the European Union. Until recently, the terms ultra-right, Nazi and racist were taboo for parties of the extreme right. Parties so described habitually sued individuals or the mass media for libel in Greece and other countries. The tactic was used to blur public awareness of their true nature. Lately, however, parties of that nature have started describing themselves openly as racists. The National Front did so in France after the recent disturbances. It happened in the Netherlands as well. The latest self-definition some parties have adopted in «Islamophobic.» When the Flemish Bloc did so in Belgium, the Kifkif Association, an immigrants’ youth organization, reacted symbolically by suing them. The demonization of Islam by some political parties has found fertile ground. As recently as 10 years ago, public and political discussion in European states with a large proportion of Muslim migrants concerned their socioeconomic circumstances; now it focuses on cultural and religious differences.

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