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Arguments and Aspects in Political Discourse in Ethnic Conflicts in Europe

A longer version of the following paper was presented at the 2017 Telos Conference, held on January 14–15, 2017, in New York City. For additional details about the conference as well as other upcoming Telos events, please visit the Telos-Paul Piccone Institute website.

Ten characteristics of the patterns of ethnic conflict in Europe—the way they are reflected in media and culture. They serve as the key to conceptual understanding of the nature of confrontation, aggression in communication in the public sphere in Europe at present, and erosion of democratic values

1. Instrumentalization of religion as a rallying point for ethnic policy (Christianity vs. Islam) rather than race and language.

2. Multicultural ethos: immunization against external critique of Islamic religious dogma and delegitimization of critique of religious policy via accusations of hatred and offensiveness. Institutionalization of a sectarian exegesis culture in which only religious arguments are authoritative and consequently only religious leaders may speak out—all others are excluded from public discussion with accusations of offensiveness and racism (Islam). This trend is also gaining ground on the nationalist side of the divide, where several theologians have thrown themselves into the ideological struggle. Any critique of religion’s claim to ownership of the political discourse is rejected as cosmopolitan and tantamount to treason.

3. The Left’s Instrumentalization of political discourse in an instinctive anti-imperialism (reminiscent of the anti-Americanism of the 1960s). This is reflected in tactical alliances with both Christian and Islamic religion and culture, and has nothing to do with any convergence in terms of dogma, as the Left has nothing in common with either Orthodox Christianity in Serbia and Bosnia, or Islamism in Europe. The alliance is strategic, based on the dogma that any anti-American or anti-Western campaign deserves support because of its “resistance potential.” (Support from the Left for the nominally Orthodox Serbia under strongman Slobodan Milošević during the civil war in Bosnia in the 1990s and the formation of a crypto-Islamic alliance now involving de facto support for Islamists and their organizations and indulgence towards gender-segregation policies.)

4. Clientelism: I will here particularly refer to observations and analysis by Nima Gholam Ali Pour, Swedish political scientist of Iranian background.[1] The Left, social democrats, and social liberals, with their multiculturalist ideology, ally themselves with Islamist sects and groups—with whom they have no shared beliefs but whose votes are up for grabs—by forging bonds of loyalty to religious leaders with promises of subsidies for associations, etc., and support for legislation (sharia-influenced culture in public-sector institutions and in the labor market, etc., as well as protection against ideological criticism of anti-democratic dogma by accusing critics of being racists). This kind of multicultural/Islamist clientelism can have extreme consequences, e.g., the Swedish Social Democrats’ laissez-faire policies and failure to condemn and end the persecution and harassment of Jews and the Jewish community in Malmö, Sweden, from aggressors of Muslim origin.[2]

5. Stigmatization of “renegades” reminiscent of Stalinism. Individuals from a Muslim cultural background are labeled as traitors by Islamists, social liberals, and the multicultural wing if they fail to back ethno-Islamist policy. The best-known example in Denmark is the stigmatization of Naser Khader, a politician with a Palestinian background heavily engaged in the struggle for human rights, freedom of expression and a critic of Islamism and religious bigotry. The liberal daily newspaper Politiken defined him as a “coconut”—or what in the United States is called an “Oreo”—a racist epithet implying that, despite his visibly different ethnicity, he supports “white” policies. This form of stigmatization has gained a certain amount of ground, and is used against others of Muslim background who oppose religious sectarianism and support democracy and secularism.

6. The “heckler’s veto” in American jurisprudence. We translate this to “Assailants veto”/”Assasins veto” in European context. The escalation into violence is omnipresent, but kept at a level on which mainly politicians and artists who criticize Islamic dogma and politics and create blasphemous works are the victims of threats, violence, and murder.

7. The criminalization of criticism of religion, religious dogma, and prohibitions, if they stem from a religion practiced by a minority (in practice Islam). In Denmark, this is reflected in Section 266B of the Penal Code, which carries a maximum penalty of two years. It is often referred to as the “racism paragraph” and violations of it as “hate speech.” This was the accusation leveled at the newspaper Jyllands-Posten when it published the (in)famous Danish cartoons (although the case was thrown out by the courts). Ideologically, these hate speech laws help support and legitimize sectarian religious dogma and serve as a bulwark against critique of Islam and critique of the ban of apostasy.

8. Paternalism and banalization of genocidal violence: Our neighbors in Sweden are currently giving material incentives to individuals who have been fighting for Islamic State but, as of autumn 2016, have returned to Sweden, irrespective of the fact that they have been active in areas where genocidal violence and mass rape were committed. You may ask yourself whether these individuals are considered as persons with moral integrity in this case. A spokesperson from the Swedish authorities argued that they should not be punished because they have opted for “the wrong choice.”[3]

9. Filtering and blackouts in media: Racist hate crimes motivated by ethnicity and religion are filtered or blacked out of the mainstream media if the perpetrators come from a Muslim cultural background. This happens no matter who the victims might be (they might be from other minorities; an Afro-Swedish man in Malmö[4] to Inuit families[5] in Aarhus, Denmark). The same pattern applies to the strong anti-Semitism and homophobia rampant in Middle Eastern Muslim culture. These cultural attitudes to Jews and homosexuals in Europe from Muslim men are filtered and blacked out from media in order to avoid stigmatization of Muslim culture.

10. Social dreams about the day of reckoning. There are two social dreams that are exposed now and then when an act of terror takes place or sometimes a change of government and a new political leadership is to be appointed.

One of these dreams is dreamt by the multicultural leftwing. A specter is raised that we are confronted by a fascist and violent alt-right conspiration that considers, or has already drawn up, plans for assaults, deportations, and internment of political opponents. The accusations of this dreamt-up conspiracy are represented as if they were undeniable facts. In doing so the multicultural leftwing conjures a picture of violent threats that are coming from their most articulated and strongest political opponents among the nationalists. But these conspirations and crimes do not take place in reality and there is no known global and violent nationalist movement or group seeking the lives of multiculturalist left-wing politicians or activists . They don’t need bodyguards, contrary to the nationalists or blasphemers or Islam critics or “Muslim renegades” for whom this is common.

(There are few exceptions of nationalist terror; Breiviks massacre in Norway of young socialists in 2011. He was alone but claimed to be part of an international brotherhood of so-called “Templars”—all this turned out to be nothing but imaginary. The British Labour politician Jo Cox was shot down and knifed to death by a lone nationalist in 2016. From 1991–92 the so-called “Laser Man,” also known by his real name Wolfgang Zaugg, shot eleven immigrants, killing one, in Stockholm and Uppsala in Sweden. According to himself he was motivated by hate toward immigrants—being a son of immigrants himself. The so-called Nationalsozialistisher Untergrund were a Nazi terror cell in Germany that killed at least nine immigrants and a police officer from 1997 until 2011. And from 2009–10, Peter Mangs is believed to be the perpetrator of fifteen attempted acts of terror against mostly immigrants in Malmö, Sweden. Two persons were killed and many seriously injured. He was apprehended in 2012. These three last cases I have mentioned contradicts to some degree what I pointed out as number 1 here, that religion is instrumentalized as a motivating factor for hate. Nevertheless I will maintain that these three cases constitute anachronistic exceptions and not a tendency).

The other social dream is dreamt in the nationalist camp. It is an eschatological scene of civil war, of the day of reckoning where the multiculturalists will meet their fate. These kinds of dreams are frequently presented right after an Islamist terror attack. But as they are nevertheless taboo, they are therefore drawn up in the form of predictions or prognostics. In this way they assume the form of objectivity. But between the lines and by their manic repetitions these somber prophecies manifest a political wishful thinking. Yet so far they have failed, and none of them has seen the light of day in the real world.


1. Nima Gholam Ali Pour and Jens-Martin Eriksen, “Er antiracismen et blålys?”, June 14, 2014; Nima Gholam Ali Pour, “The Islamists of Sweden,” Gatestone Institute, December 28, 2016.

2. Nick Meo, “Jews leave Swedish city after sharp rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes,” The Telegraph, February 21, 2010.

3. Chelsea Schilling, “Sweden’s Welfare Bonanza for Returning ISIS Jihadists,” WorldNetDaily, May 14, 2015.

4. A man of African origin was attacked in Malmoe as the story is presented here. Right after it was revealed that the perpetrators were of Kurdish origin, the whole story and media coverage was closed down. See Jens-Martin Eriksen, “Sveriges dom over Dan Park er statsideologisk antiracisme,”, September 5, 2014.

5. In 2008 Inuit families were victims of ethnic cleansing in the town of Aarhus, Denmark. No national newspapers covered the story. The perpetrators were all men of Muslim origin. See Jens-Martin Eriksen, “Vor tids stalinister,” Berlingske, May 6, 2016.

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