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Saudi Gazette, Friday, June 23, 2017




While attacks by violent

milintants understand-

ably command the most

attention, we need to

be wary of ignoring the

threat from those radi-

calized by an increas-

ingly well-connected and

mobilized far right. The

ideologies of these move-

ments are symbiotic,

with both sides playing

off a fear of the other to

tailor their messages and

attract new audiences.

But for Democrats, having

failed to unseat a Republican

in four special House elections

in a row despite an extremely

energized base, it’s now a time

for soul-searching— and



Somayya Jabarti

Executive Editor

L. Ramnarayan Iyer

Managing Editor (National)

Mahmoud Ahmad

Managing Editor (International)

Shams Ahsan




12-6727621, 12-6764111



How to contact us


Writers’ and readers’

opinions do not

necessarily reflect

SG’s views unless

otherwise stated.

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Saudi Gazette P. O. Box 5576

Jeddah – 21432 Saudi Arabia


Abdullah S. Kamel

Director General

Waleed J. Kattan

Deputy Director General

Abdulaziz Alsehli

What about the terrorism of

the far right?

Amarnath Amarasingam

& Jacob Davey


AST Friday was the first an-

niversary of the assassina-

tion of Jo Cox, the British

member of Parliament who

was killed by Thomas Mair, now

serving life in prison for her murder.

“This is for Britain,” he shouted as

he stabbed and shot to death Cox, a

41-year-old Labour Party politician

and mother of two, a week before the

Brexit referendum. As shocking as

this attack was, it did not come with-

out precedent. In recent years, there

have been noticeable upticks in far-

right violence, even if its frequency

and deadliness have often been over-

shadowed by the more high-profile

attacks claimed by Daesh (the so-

called IS).

The frequency of far-right at-

tacks is particularly significant in the

US, where white supremacist, anti-

government and neo-Nazi extremists

have been responsible for 73 per-

cent of deadly terrorist attacks since

Sept. 11, 2001. Also notable is that in

many cases, Muslims have become

the target of violence.

After a series of terrorist inci-

dents in Britain either claimed or in-

spired by Daesh, in the early hours

of Monday the driver of a van hit a

group of men who had just attended

prayers at a mosque in Finsbury Park,

North London. The suspect, who was

quickly subdued and arrested, report-

edly shouted that he wanted to “kill

all Muslims.” His crude method of

attack mimicked a terrorist technique

recommended by Daesh.

While attacks by violent milint-

ants understandably command the

most attention, we need to be wary of

ignoring the threat from those radi-

calized by an increasingly well-con-

nected and mobilized far right. The

ideologies of these movements are

symbiotic, with both sides playing

off a fear of the other to tailor their

messages and attract new audiences.

Left unchecked, competing outrages

and persecution narratives could

lead to a cascade of radicalization, in

which extremists on each side feed

the other’s growth.

Seemingly isolated attacks like

the one in Finsbury Park don’t al-

ways get the response from policy

makers that they should, partly be-

For Macron, triumph and a warning


LONG with conferring

the legislative power to

easily enact promised

economic and social re-

forms, the overwhelming victory

by President Emmanuel Macron’s

party and its allies in Sunday’s Na-

tional Assembly election in France

allowed Macron to make good on

his promise of political renewal.

Many of the winners in his party

were first-time candidates, includ-

ing some of Arab or African ances-

try. A historic number of women

also won seats: 223 of 577 mem-

bers, versus 155 in the last Parlia-


Sunday’s vote also raised cau-

tionary signs. Turnout was the

lowest for any legislative race,

about 43 percent. A shocking 70

percent of voters stayed away

from the polls in the economically

marginalized, heavily immigrant

department of Seine-Saint-Denis.

No candidate prevailed there from

Loss in Georgia jolts Democrats

cause the casualty count tends to be

lower and because the lone attacker

does not necessarily belong to any

proscribed organization, so there

appears to be less systemic risk.

Other daily incidents, below the

threshold of terrorist violence, like

a Muslim woman getting her hijab

yanked on the street or being insult-

ed on the subway, are not seen as

related to this broader phenomenon

of emboldened extremism.

Our research on far-right move-

ments in Britain looked at people

interacting with 162 British-based

Facebook pages that show support

for far-right ideologies. These in-

cluded the Facebook pages of po-

litical parties, protest movements

and news sources. Our analysis of

about 7,000 users regularly engag-

ing with these pages suggested that

some 2,500 expressed support for

extreme violence. (The suspect in

the Finsbury Park attack did not

show up in our study.) Violent sen-

timent was overwhelmingly aimed

at Muslims, as well as immigrants

and refugees. More than 70 percent

of these users were over the age of

45. (This is in contrast to the online

supporters of Daesh, who are over-

whelmingly under the age of 30.) A

majority of users appeared to be from

economically deprived backgrounds;

a few were either members of the

British armed forces or veterans. All

of them were white.

A vanishingly small number of

those we surveyed expressed explicit

support for white supremacy or neo-

Nazi ideology. Instead, these Face-

book users appeared mainly moti-

vated by patriotism, grievances over

immigration and integration, and the

perceived threat of Islam.

Because of a high level of pub-

lic vigilance about militant groups,

Islamist extremists are increasingly

cautious in their behavior, particu-

larly online. The intense focus on the

propaganda they produce means that

pages calling for violence against the

West and expressing support for ter-

rorism are swiftly taken down, and

their users barred.

The increasing caution of mili-

tant activists is not matched by the

far-right extremists we have studied.

One reason could be that because

most of these individuals are over the

age of 40, they lack the web-savvi-

ness of their Islamist counterparts. It

could also be the case that the cur-

rent climate, with far-right political

parties gaining traction in parts of

Europe and alt-right groups gain-

ing a higher profile in the US, has

reduced the sense that they are en-

gaged in risky behavior and should

act in more clandestine ways. The

Trump administration, for example,

has begun to retool programs for-

merly aimed at violent extremism in

general, including the far right, into

operations directed solely against

radical Islamism.

There has rightly been a great

deal of effort put into countering

militant groups and their supporters

in the West. Now more than ever,

though, there needs to be similar in-

vestment and planning to check far-

right radicalization and understand

the mechanisms that propel attacks

like the one in Finsbury Park.

Amarnath Amarasingam


a senior research fellow at the

London-based Institute for Strategic

Dialogue, where

Jacob Davey


a program associate focusing on

research into far-right movements.

Macron’s party, La République

en Marche (the Republic on the


But six candidates from Jean-

Luc Mélenchon’s leftist France

Unbowed party did. This should

give Macron serious pause and

may give him headaches in Parlia-

ment. With an estimated 17 seats

nationwide — including one for

Mélenchon himself in Marseilles

— Mélenchon’s party cleared the

15-seat threshold required to form

an official parliamentary group,

giving the party more speaking

time and access to top roles in the


France’s longtime standard-

bearers on the left, the Socialists,

are all but destroyed as a party af-

ter François Hollande’s unpopular

presidency, with 30 seats, down

from 284. Against 350 seats to

be held by Macron and his allies,

the center-right Les Républicains

party, with 112 seats, is the main

opposition party in the new Par-

liament, despite its fall from 194


The far-right National Front’s

Marine Le Pen, who lost her presi-

dential bid against Macron last

month, won her first parliamentary

seat, from a northern rust belt area

that elected four other National

Front candidates. In all, though,

the party won only eight seats.

Macron doubtless faces turbu-

lence as three of his new minis-

ters resigned. “Abstention is never

good news for democracy,” Prime

Minister Édouard Philippe assert-

ed. “The government interprets it

as a strong obligation to succeed.”

The political divide in France,

as elsewhere, is increasingly be-

tween society’s winners and losers.

Macron’s government will succeed

only if it delivers as much for those

who did not vote for him or his

party as for those who did.


New York Times


EPUBLICANS just got a big

argument for sticking with

President Donald Trump

and pushing forward with

dismantling “Obamacare.” And Dem-

ocrats are looking almost incapable

of translating the energy of their core

supporters into actual election wins.

Tuesday night’s outcome in a

Georgia special House race was a

triumph for the GOP, and the most

recent, and devastating, illustration

of the Democrats’ problems, from a

weak bench and recruiting problems

to divisions about what the party

stands for.

and some groups on the left wasted no

time in insisting that Democrats must

draw brighter contrasts with the GOP.

“Defeating Republicans in districts

that they have traditionally held requires

doing something drastically different

than establishment Democrats have

done before — specifically, running on

a bold progressive vision and investing

heavily in direct voter contact,” said Jim

Dean, chair of Democracy for America.

The Georgia race was the most ex-

pensive House race in history, with many

millions spent on both sides. The fact that

that level of investment failed to pay off

with a win against a Republican candidate

widely viewed as uninspiring left Demo-

crats frustrated and dispirited heading

into the 2018 midterm elections. Demo-

crats will need to pick up 24 House seats

to take back the majority.

The outcome “better be a wake-up

call for Democrats — business as usual

isn’t working,” Rep. Seth Moulton, D-

Mass., said over Twitter. “Time to stop

rehashing 2016 and talk about the future.”

House Democratic leaders tried to

downplay the loss ahead of time, point-

ing out that the Georgia race took place

on GOP-friendly terrain, as did the other

recent special elections. Rep. Joe Crow-

ley of New York, chairman of the House

Democratic Caucus, said that there are

71 districts that will be more favorable

for Democrats to contest than the one in


“This is a heavily Republican dis-

trict,” Crowley said. “It never should

have been this close to begin with.”

But for Republicans from the presi-

dent on down, it was time to celebrate.

Trump sent supporters a text mes-

sage crowing, “Congrats to Karen

Handel on a HUGE win in GA! Dem-

ocrats lose again (0-4). Total disarray.

The MAGA Mandate is stronger than

ever. BIG LEAGUE.”

As the results rolled in Tues-

day, AshLee Strong, spokeswoman

to House Speaker Paul Ryan, mused

over Twitter, “Remember when they

told us we’d be punished in the spe-

cial elexs for following through on

our promise to #RepealAndReplace


Indeed the string of special elec-

tion wins, especially in Georgia, sent

a powerful message to Republicans

that they must be doing something

right, even though Trump’s approval

ratings are low by historical standards

and the GOP has yet to notch a single

major legislative accomplishment

on Capitol Hill. Far from rethinking

their support for Trump or their plans

to undo former President Barack

Obama’s health care law, Republicans

seem likely to stay the course.

And as for the Democrats, they,

clearly, are doing something wrong.

What exactly it is, and whether they

can fix it, will be debated in the weeks

and months ahead.


A wise youthful



OUNG people have scored

a significant victory at a

school in a small Bosnia

town. They have forced the

end of ethnic segregation

in their classes in Jaice.

They are now seeking to

have the same segregation

ended in other schools in

their region.

The splitting of classes between Muslim and

Christian students, who in some academes are

not even allowed to mix during the break periods,

dates from the end of the bloody Bosnian Serb

assault on the government in Sarajevo. At

the time it seemed a simple way around the

problem of then still-raw ethnic tensions. But a

generation on, this segregation is seen by most

of the students as perpetuating the very divisions

which underpinned the dreadful Balkan wars.

The Constitutional Court in Bosnia-Herzegovina

has ruled the segregation illegal but the timid

local authorities have refused to implement the

judgment. Now the students have taken matters

into their own hands.

It must be hoped that they will be listened to.

In the Spring of 1992, as the war clouds gathered,

students played a prominent part in the massive

peace demonstration in Sarajevo when 100,000

people, from all ethnic communities, packed the

main square for two days, even as the Bosnian-

Serb army under Ratko Mladic was planning to

surround the Bosnian capital. Their protest did

not work. In the long siege of the capital that

was to follow, the same number, 100,000 people,

perished as part of a hate-filled blood-letting

unsurpassed in Europe since the depravity of

Hitler’s Nazis.

As early as 1988, when the-then Yugoslavia

was ruled by a joint-presidency after the death of

the country’s strongman Josip Broz Titi, students

from all sides of the community were gloomily

predicting their country would fall into ethnic

conflict. Friends across the communal divide,

they vowed to push back against the looming

disaster. Nobody listened then. But it must be

hoped that they will listen now.

A generation on from the end of Serbian

aggression, the puppet Bosnian-Serb state

within Bosnia-Herzegovina looks an increasing

anachronism, supported only by aging die-hard


The Balkans is a place on frighteningly long

memories, especially among the Serbs who

still actively mourn their defeat by the Turks at

the battle of Kosovo over 600 years ago. But

the students of Jaice have it completely right.

The past is the past. Its importance is that

the lessons it taught must not be forgotten.

And these young people have learnt those

lessons well. Continuing with separation of

school pupils is going to do nothing to build a

prosperous and united future for this beautiful

but once war-ravaged country.

These Bosnian students, Muslims, Croats

and Serbs together, who protested this

hangover from days of division and rivalry

deserve considerable praise, maybe even

international recognition for their far-sighted

stand. All the Balkan countries should look to

the way this action by young people teaches

the absolute need to look to the future and

trash the bloody and wicked past. This was

not mere youthful idealism. The end to this

stupid segregation is entirely realistic and it is

amazing it has not been enacted before now.

An onlooker got it absolutely right when he

of the student protest that it was wonderful

to see them standing together in the name of

knowledge, education, unity and peace.

Instead of a win or even a razor-thin

loss by Democrat Jon Ossoff that many

had expected, Republican Karen Handel

ended up winning by a relatively com-

fortable 4 percentage point margin in

the wealthy suburban Atlanta district

previously held by Health and Human

Services Secretary Tom Price.

That followed another recent Demo-

cratic disappointment in Montana, where

the Republican candidate won even after

last-minute assault charges, and an earlier

loss for the Democrats in Kansas.

Indeed the best news Democrats

got Tuesday night was that a different

special House race, in South Carolina,

ended up closer than the Georgia contest

even though it had drawn little national

attention. Republican Ralph Norman

beat Democrat Archie Parnell by around

3 percentage points in South Carolina,

closer than expected and a warning

sign to the GOP not to take any seat for


But for Democrats, having failed to

unseat a Republican in four special House

elections in a row despite an extremely

energized base, it’s now a time for soul-

searching — and finger-pointing.

Ossoff ran a careful campaign and

shied away from talking about Trump,