On 2 December 2019, far-right European Parliament group Identity and Democracy organised an event at which several politicians spoke about the future of Europe, calling the event: “New Hope for Europe.” Speakers present on the stage represented various political parties across the continent: Rassemblement National (France), FPÖ (Austria), Vlaams Belang (Belgium) and Lega (Italy).

The most notable guest at the event was Italian politician and Federal Secretary of Italy’s Lega Matteo Salvini, known for his populist ideas. During his speech, he said: “First and foremost should be the protection of our identity, because Europe is either Christian, or it is not Europe. An Islamic Europe is the death (end) of our identity, the death of our dreams, the death of our rights.” After him spoke Tom Van Grieken, party leader of the Belgian Vlaams Belang. Among his anti-pluralist statements, he claimed: “Our Europe is not a Europe of Mosques and Minarets but of belfries and Cathedrals, and so must it remain for centuries.”

Not only these speeches are an attack on Europe’s Muslim population, but they are an attack on all other non-Christian individuals who call Europe their home. These speeches clearly demonstrate that Vlaams Belang and Lega are anti-pluralist and anti-religious parties. EUJS is deeply concerned by such speeches as they undermine the multiculturalism we energetically advocate for.

These xenophobic narratives are a threat to Jewish communities and to all minorities around the continent.

Our concern grows bigger as we witness the rise of popularity of such parties. An example is the Vlaams Belang which is gaining power in Belgium, with recent polls showing that the party now holds 27% of votes in Flanders, making it the top party. This rise is paralleled with an increase of anti-religious content shared on the party’s social media pages and from its representatives.

In the frame of Get The Trolls Out! – a project EUJS is partner of, which aims at combatting hate crimes on Media and Social Media towards all religions in Europe – we have filed a complaint to Vlaams Belang for sharing content of this event.

EUJS actively participates at limiting the influence of populist parties in Europe, whether on the streets, on the social media and in Parliaments. We invite all our supporters to help us in this vital operation.

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