Turks: Salvini’s Jews?

Matteo Salvini

By Emre Gönen :-

Italy’s Minister of Interior and leader of the extreme-right Lega Nord, Matteo Salvini has brought together extreme-right movement leaders from different EU member states. In view of the coming European Parliament (EP) elections, Salvini’s objective is to create the biggest parliamentary group within the EP, by somehow federating extreme-right movements in Europe.

It is worth remembering that the regulations of the European Parliament do not allow the formation of a grouping based on nationality. Only “political families” have the right to form groups, provided that a group has at least 25 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), representing at least one-quarter of the member states. In that sense, representatives of at least seven extreme-right parties should come together, in order to form a coherent political group within the European Parliament.

Expectations for Lega Nord in the coming European elections are very high, they expect to win a third of the votes in Italy. Other polls indicate that the “Sovereignty” movements, as they call themselves, could win as much as 105 seats in the EP, out of 750 total seats. That perspective gave Salvini new hope to lead the biggest (according to his expectations) political grouping in the EP. In that sense, he organized a launch party of his new vision of Europe, accompanied by Olli Kotro (Finns Party), Jörg Meuthen (Alternative for Germany. AfD) and Anders Vistisen (Danish Popular Party).

What brings all these “sovereignist” movements together is not very clear, except perhaps their shared Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and anti-EU stance. Other extreme-right wing parties, to start with Marine Le Pen’s movement in France or Victor Orban’s Fidesz in Hungary, are not at all keen to see an Italian politician leading a large group of anti-EU movements. There are also very striking conflicting views within these parties and movements. When a political party’s main slogan becomes “Prima gli Italiani” (“Italians first”), it is not very easy to establish a common platform with other non-Italian movements.

Salvini’s ideas on Europe, if one can call them ideas, are at best blurry. According to him, Europe should respect national identities and should take the form recommended by late Pope John Paul II, which is the respect of identities, as translated by Salvini.

It is difficult to imagine a more accommodating integration movement than the EU when it comes to the respect of pluralism, national identities and cultures. What Salvini et al., really want is not a pluralistic Europe, but a uniform, authoritarian, deeply religious and Christian, conservative Europe, not respectful of other beliefs and religions. His pathological insistence on stopping the “Turks entering Europe” is a very clear example of this deranged attitude.

This kind of identity-based and incendiary discourse is not new. Geert Wilders has based his entire political career on the hatred of Islam, which for him is the mother of all evils. This jingoist and racist attitude wins him votes, but hardly enough to become a real alternative for the government. He will probably be replaced soon by Thierry Baudet’s Forum voor Democratie (FvD), whose approach is more holistic, despising all non-Dutch identities, but also aiming at getting ultimately out of the EU, while refuting the idea that humankind is responsible for global warming and climate change.

So what is hidden behind the discourse calling for the “respect of national identities” or “let us make such or such country great again?” In a nutshell, rejection of European integration, rejection of beliefs other than Christianity (Catholicism or Reformed Church), rejection of “Turks” seen as the perfect “other,” rediscovering anti-Semitism and its jargon.

These are purely fascistic thoughts and discourse. They have emerged before in periods of uncertainty and difficult transitions. Here they are again, this time encompassing Turks alongside Jews as the internal enemy to get rid of. It is high time to remember the prophetic verses by Berthold Brecht, after the demise of Nazism: “Don’t yet rejoice in his defeat, you men! / Although the world stood up and stopped the bastard / The bitch that bore him is in heat again.”