Counter-jihad

Counter-jihad or counterjihad or counter-jihad movement[1] is a self-titled political current loosely consisting of authors, bloggers, think tanks, street movements and campaign organisations all linked by a common belief that the Western world is being subjected to invasion and takeover by Muslims.[2] Several academic accounts have presented conspiracy theory as a key component of the counter-jihad movement.[3] On a day-to-day level, it seeks to generate outrage at perceived Muslim crimes.[4]

While the roots of the movement go back to the 1980s, it did not gain significant momentum until after the September 11 attacks in 2001 and the 7 July 2005 London bombings. As far back as 2006, online commentators such as Fjordman were identified as playing a key role in forwarding the nascent counter-jihad ideology.[2] The movement received considerable attention following the lone wolf attacks by right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik whose manifesto extensively reproduced the writings of prominent counter-jihad bloggers, and following the emergence of prominent street movements such as the English Defence League (EDL).[2] The movement has been variously described as pro-Israel,[2] anti-Islamic,[5][6][7] Islamophobic,[8][9][10][11] inciting hatred against Muslims,[12] and far-right.[5][11][13]

The movement has adherents both in Europe and in North America. The European wing is more focused on the alleged cultural threat to European traditions stemming from immigrant Muslim populations, while the American wing emphasizes an alleged external threat, essentially terrorist in nature.[5]

Overview

Counter-jihad is a transatlantic[14] "radical right" wing movement[15][attribution needed] that, via "the sharing of ideas between Europeans and Americans and daily linking between blogs and websites on both sides of the Atlantic",[14][attribution needed] "calls for a counterjihad against the supposed Islamisation of Europe".[15][attribution needed] While the roots of the movement go back to the 1980s, it did not gain significant momentum until after the September 11 attacks in 2001.[16]

The authors of Right-Wing Populism in Europe: Politics and Discourse describe the movement as heavily relying on two key tactics. "The first is arguing that the most radical Muslims – men like Osama bin Laden – are properly interpreting the Quran, while peaceful moderate Muslims either do not understand their own holy book or are strategically faking their moderation. The second key tactic is to relentlessly attack individuals and organizations that purport to represent moderate Islam...painting them as secret operatives in a grand Muslim scheme to destroy the West."[17]

Benjamin Lee describes the "counter-jihad scene" as one where "Europe and the United States are under threat from an aggressive and politicized Islamic world that is attempting to take over Europe through a process of "Islamification" with the eventual aim of imposing Sharia law. In this process, the threat is characterized by the perceived removal of Christian or Jewish symbols, the imposition of Islamic traditions, and the creation of no-go areas for non-Muslims. The construction of mosques in particular is seen as continued reinforcement of the separation of the Muslim population from the wider populous. As strong as the threatening practices of Muslims in descriptions of the counter jihad are images of a powerless Europe in decline and sliding into decadence, unable to resist Islamic takeover. The idea that European culture in particular is in a state of decline, while a spiritually vigorous East represented by Islam is in the ascendancy in civil society, is a common sentiment in some circles."[2]

Two central counter-jihad themes have been identified:

  • the notion that Islam poses a threat to "Western civilisation", with a particular focus on "Muslims living in Europe", that is, within the European Counterjihad Movement (ECJM), "seen predominantly in terms of immigration",[14] particularly Muslim immigration.[13]
  • a lack of trust in regional, political and economic "elites", with a particular focus against the European Union (EU).[14]