News from Western Europe, Tuesday 22nd January 2013

Europe

Research – Counterpoint: Europe’s Reluctant Radicals: Greece and the Netherlands. ‘Today Counterpoint launches two new pamphlets on populism – in Greece and in the Netherlands – as part of the “Recapturing Europe’s Reluctant Radicals” project, supported by the Open Society Foundations. This second phase of the project aims to draw an in-depth picture of how populism emerges in specific country contexts and this launch marks the beginning of the release of a series of ten expert written country pamphlets exploring populism across Europe.’

Finland

YLE Uutiset: Ministry report warns of neo-Nazi and religious radicalisation. ‘Researchers reviewed extreme right, extreme left and extreme Islamist movements. They found that the risk of violence related to extreme Islam is minimal. However they concluded that an extreme Islamist terror attack would pose a more significant threat to national security.

The report does mention by name the extreme right-wing national socialist group Suomen Vastarintaliike (SVL).

The report describes SVL as “a small group,  whose ideology will hardly gain wide support in Finland.” However, it is considered as potentially dangerous because its members are organised, it is anti-democracy and has a combative spirit.’

France

AP: France: Turkish suspect probed in Kurd killings. ‘French prosecutors have filed preliminary murder and terrorism charges against a Turkish citizen who worked as a driver for one of three Kurdish activists who were gunned down this month in Paris, an official said Monday.

The suspect, identified as Omer Guney, 30, drove for the most prominent victim, Sakine Cansiz, a woman in her 50s who helped found the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, a rebel group seeking autonomy for Turkey’s Kurds. Guney has told investigators he has been a member of the PKK for two years, Prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters.’

France 24: Speculation grows over ‘French jihadist’ in Algeria. ‘A French jihadist was among the extremist militants who staged last week’s deadly takeover of the In Amenas gas plant in the Algerian desert and sparked a hostage situation that ended in tragedy over the weekend, according to intelligence and judicial sources in Algiers and Paris quoted by a French newspaper.

Citing unnamed police and justice ministry sources, Le Parisien wrote on Monday there was “at least one Frenchman” in the Islamist group. Frédéric Helbert, an investigative reporter specialising in counter-terrorism, said Algerian intelligence sources confirmed there was one Frenchman in the commando unit and provided the alleged terrorist’s name to France’s DCRI domestic security agency.’

Italy

Guardian: Amir Issaa, Italian hip-hop artist, raps about citizenship law. ‘Amir Issaa, a 34-year-old Italian hip-hop artist, has never conformed to stereotype. He has written about his Egyptian father going to jail and about the fraught nature of Italy‘s integration process. Now he has come up with a rap song that explores the notion of citizenship and the relative merits of jus sanguinis and jus soli.

It is the latest expression of his frustration about prejudice and pigeon-holing. Born to an Italian mother on an island in the middle of the Tiber, he previously released a single entitled Foreigner in My Country.’

Switzerland

Comment – Policy Network: The SVP: A success story of right-wing populism. ‘In Switzerland, the 6th of December 2012 marked the 20th anniversary of a popular vote that rejected the country’s membership of the European Economic Area (EEA). The vote was a turning point in Swiss politics, as well as in the history of the Swiss People’s Party (SVP). The decision at the ballot effectively sealed the debate on issues of European integration for the next two decades, resulting in an almost unanimous rejection among political parties and the public in Switzerland of the idea of joining the European Union. As a recent survey shows, only six per cent of the people polled see the country’s membership of the EU as a priority, while 63 per cent opt for continuing the path of bilateral agreements with the EU.’

Vatican City

JTA: Vatican official slams breakaway group for anti-Semitic positions. ‘A leading Vatican official slammed breakaway traditionalist Catholics for anti-Semitic positions.

Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, in an interview Tuesday with the Italian religious news agency SIR slammed the followers of the renegade Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X for rejecting the Vatican II policy on Jews. It is only that small group, he said, who “do not accept ecumenical dialogue, relations with Jews and religious freedom”.’

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