New York City—Human Rights First said that yesterday’s formation of a political group by far-right parties in the European Parliament reinforces the need for the United States to take seriously the racist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, and anti-Muslim trends on which these parties thrive. The new group, Europe of Nations and Freedoms (ENL), is led by France’s Marine Le Pen and Marcel de Graaf of the Netherlands.
“In the past few years, Europe has seen a disturbing rise in incidents of hate speech and violence against minorities and vulnerable populations,” said Human Rights First’s Tad Stahnke. “The coalition group formed yesterday should be a wake-up call for the United States.”
Antisemitic incidents in Europe, including violence, property damage, abuse, and threats, are on the rise. Hate crime monitors in France and England have reported that from 2013 to 2014 the number of antisemitic incidents more than doubled in both countries. A 2013 European Union survey found that nearly 50 percent of Hungarian Jews had considered emigrating because they felt unsafe.
A report released last year by Human Rights First, “We’re not Nazis, but…The Rise of Hate Parties in Hungary and Greece and Why America Should Care” details how antisemitic and racist political parties have grown in strength in Hungary and Greece and have had a wide ranging negative impact on protection of the rule of law and human rights in those countries. Human Rights First is also concerned with the situation in France, Belgium, and other Western European countries, where Jews and Jewish institutions have been the targets of violent attacks. In January, Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino addressed a special session of the United Nations, urging an international effort to combat antisemitism.
While the ENL does not include any members from Greece’s Golden Dawn or Hungary’s Jobbik Party, the group still advocates a dangerous mixture of policies that have the possibility to erode the human rights of European citizens, potentially damaging the transatlantic alliance from within.
“Growing political extremism in Europe adds to a climate of hatred and fear and is a grave threat to human rights,” said Human Rights First’s Tad Stahnke. “The United States should step up in its role as a global leader against hate speech, violence, and extremism.”