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Far-right extremists on rise in Europe

world Updated: Jul 25, 2011 01:04 IST

The attacks in Oslo on Friday have riveted new attention on right-wing extremists not just in Norway but across Europe, where opposition to Muslim immigrants, globalisation, the power of the European Union and the drive toward multiculturalism has proven a potent political force and, in a few cases, a spur to violence.

The success of populist parties appealing to a sense of lost national identity has brought criticism of immigrants and Muslims out of the internet chat rooms and into mainstream politics. While the parties themselves do not condone violence, some experts say a climate of hatred in the political discourse has encouraged violent individuals.

“I’m not surprised when things like the bombing in Norway happen, because you will always find people who feel more radical means are necessary,” said Joerg Forbrig, an analyst at the German Marshall Fund in Berlin who has studied far-right issues in Europe.

Last November, a Swedish man was arrested in Malmö in connection with more than a dozen unsolved shootings of immigrants.

Oslo shootings also have served as a wake-up call for security services in Europe and the US that in recent years have become so focused on Islamic terrorists that they may have underestimated the threat of domestic radicals.

In the US the deadly attacks have reawakened memories of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, where a right-wing extremist, Timothy J. McVeigh, used a fertilizer bomb to blow up a federal government building, killing 168 people.