EU: Extremism at its Highest Level Since World War II

Violent extremism is at its highest level in Europe and is becoming a top security threat, say EU officials.

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Elad Benari,

Anti-Semitism (illustration)
Anti-Semitism (illustration)
Israel news photo: archive

Violent extremism is at its highest level in Europe since World War II and is becoming the continent's top security threat, the European Union's executive body said Monday, according to AFP.

In a speech on the eve of talks on how to detect and prevent extremism, the EU's commissioner for home affairs Cecilia Malmstroem urged the EU "to stand up ... and protect our values that are now being challenged in many countries in Europe."

"We see a growth of extremism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, hatred and nationalism," she said, according to AFP.

"Not since World War II have extreme and populist forces had so much influence on the national parliaments as they have today. In some countries even neo-Nazis have been elected," she added.

Should the trend continue, next year's European elections "might further strengthen these forces", threatening the entire European project, Malmstroem said.

Tuesday's talks in Brussels, gathering home affairs ministers and counter-terror experts, will look at suggestions to combat extremism based on a Europe-wide Radicalization Awareness Network launched in September 2011.

The grassroots network aims to spot potential terror recruits, from hardline Islamists to far-right lone wolves.

It was set up after attacks in Madrid and London but also in the aftermath of Norway's "Lone Wolf" bombing and shooting rampage in 2011 by far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik.

The comments came a day after International Holocaust Day was marked in countries around the world. A report prepared by Israel’s Ministry of Information and Diaspora found that in the past year there has been “an alarming rise in the number of terrorist attacks and attempted attacks against Jewish targets and an escalation in violent incidents against Jews throughout the world.”

The report indicates that in the past year there has been a rise in the number of terrorist acts and attempted attacks against Jewish targets, primarily by groups which identify with radical Islam and the extreme right. At the same time, the report found, there has also been an increase in the number of street attacks and incidents of verbal and physical violence against Jews, in Europe as well as in the U.S., Canada and Australia.

Yaakov Hagoel, who deals with anti-Semitic incidents for the World Zionist Organization, told Arutz Sheva on Sunday that he receives reports each day of anti-Semitic incidents occurring throughout the world.

Hagoel said that 2012 had been “a difficult year,” with incidents from small to large. “They range from seemingly small incidents, where children are unable to go to school or synagogue without being made fun of by others, to major incidents, like the recent attack on a synagogue in Toulouse, France.” Four Jews were murdered in that attack in March 2012.