Thousands of right wing nationalists recently descended upon what was supposed to be a celebration of Poland’s independence day in Warsaw. Official ceremonies and patriotic songs were drowned out by demonstrators who chanted slurs like, “Pure Poland, refugees get out.” Some even paraded signs that read, “White Europe” and “Clean Blood.”
This march represented one face of a growing nationalist movement that has swept across Europe. Emboldened by a surge in anti-immigrant sentiments following the refugee crisis, ultra-conservative rhetoric is now seeping out of the fringes and into the mainstream. Many in these movements say they are battling what they claim is a trend of multiculturism that is threatening the traditional identity and heritage of their countries.
Their message was amplified this week when President Donald Trump retweeted a string of inflammatory videos that purported to show violence being committed by Muslims.
The three videos Trump retweeted were originally shared by Britain First, an anti-Islam, ultranationalist party known for hate-filled incitement. Jayda Fransen, the group’s deputy leader, later tweeted another video, thanking Trump for sharing her tweets.
But condemnation came swiftly from Britain’s highest office. “I’m very clear that retweeting from Britain First was the wrong thing to do,” said Prime Minister Theresa May. “Britain First is a hateful organization. It seeks to sow division and hate and mistrust in our communities.”
Fransen argues her movement is not based on hate, but on what she says are the feelings of ordinary citizens.
“You’re seeing a side of politics that has actually been on the back foot for a long time and that is the patriotic, common sense, everyday man that’s saying… ‘I live in the UK. I wish I’d be put first before immigrants,’” Fransen told ABC News’ Nightline.”
One of the videos shows what Fransen described in her post as a “Muslim migrant” attacking a “Dutch boy on crutches.” However, Dutch authorities clarified that the attacker was not a Muslim migrant; the embassy of the Netherlands later tweeted to President Trump that the attacker was in fact Dutch, saying, “facts do matter.”