Comment: The price of right-wing politics

Major news networks came under fire recently for jumping to conclusions about the involvement of Islamist groups in the July 22 terror attacks in Norway.

Mainstream media resorted to premature “analyses”, conjecture, and even ‘citations’ from unverified Internet forum lurkers – all of which are highly irresponsible and were rightfully condemned.

A lot of Muslims and anti-racists heaved a sigh of relief on hearing that this latest outrage was, for a change, not inflicted by a Muslim group. For seemingly the first time in recent history, a reasonable argument could now be made that not all terrorists are necessarily Muslim or brown-skinned; an opportunity has risen to delve deeper into the ideologies that underpin these horrifying outbursts of mindless violence.

However, over a week after the quiet Friday afternoon peace was shattered by the worst massacre on Norwegian soil since the second world war, the media appears to have chosen to focus instead on the sensationalist ‘Christian crusader’ angle and the killer’s 1500 page “manifesto”; a lot of commentary has dwelt on whether this is the work of a single crazed man – or whether he represents the vanguard of a new movement.

What is beyond doubt, however, is that the man was clearly led by his politics – and within this lies one of the most important stories of this decade that the media should not fail to address.

The rising hatred

Norwegian security agencies have long reported that right-wing radicalism was on the rise in the country – with Scandinavia, incidentally, producing the largest amount of xenophobic, White Power music and literature.

As it happens, right-wing politics is being revived in several parts of the world – from the United States and Europe, to Pakistan and the Maldives.

Factors such as economic decline in the West, rising unemployment, and the increased globalisation that threatens the very concept of nation states, have seen a corresponding increase in anti-immigration, race-baiting, far-right ultra-nationalist groups.

Ideas that would have been dismissed as the lunatic fringe just a few years ago have captured the curiosity of the mainstream public in many societies.

This brand of politics – characterised by amplified slogans, demonisation of minorities, and central charismatic figures with a penchant for whipping up emotions, have reaped rich political dividends for many in recent years.

With deceptive names alluding to noble concepts of ‘Justice’ and ‘Freedom’, these groups thrive entirely on charged emotional rhetoric steeped in conspiracy theories and artificial feelings of victimisation and insecurity.

The anti-Islamic, race-baiting ‘Party of Freedom’ run by Geert Wilders recently emerged as the third largest party in the Netherlands. The BNP, that remains a pariah in mainstream UK politics, has also been making steady electoral gains over the past decade – with two of its members already in the European Parliament, including Nick Griffin, the much-reviled leader of the organization.

Cheap provocations, such as attempts of a much-criticized pastor to organize mass burnings of the Koran in the US, have increasingly found the easy media attention that they so desperately crave.

Mainstream media attention was also lavished upon the ‘Ground-Zero Mosque’ controversy in New York city – that was successfully used by conservative, right-wing politicians in the US to whip up anti-Islamic sentiments, despite revolving around a building that was neither at Ground-Zero and wasn’t even a mosque.


Far-right politicians, willing to let society burn in order to enjoy their moment in the spotlight, employ words and rhetoric that threaten the peace and harmony of society – with the full knowledge that they can always refuse to accept responsibility later.

Indeed, Geert Wilders was quick to distance himself from the Oslo killer – who had named him as one of his inspirations – but it is hard to accept that the man who spent years fanning flames of anti-Islamic hatred can suddenly absolve himself of all responsibility for the ideology that directly led to the massacre in Utoya.

While the West grapples with trying to deal with hate figures like Geert Wilders, controversial characters like Zakir Naik and Bilal Philips have inexplicably been invited by the Maldivian government to preach to the public – despite several other countries denying them entry citing serious allegations ranging from terror links to hate speech.

Local political parties and NGOs that have conferred upon themselves the onerous burden of representing Islam in the Maldives adamantly deny that they have any role to play in the increasingly radicalised Dhivehi society – and the rising numbers of Maldivian jihadists being discovered in militant madrassas or war zones of tribal Pakistan.

This denial comes despite their openly stoking flames of anti-semitism and anti-feminism, despite their emotionally charged diatribes on public podiums and radio talk shows, and despite the rapidly mushrooming “Islamic” book shops in Male’ that openly sell Jihadist literature with fiery titles and apocalyptic chapters glorifying war.

At least one English Defence League activist, currently hiding abroad, has admitted that his opinions could have directly influenced the destructive Islamophobia in Breivik.

And yet, the EDL– a toxic, occasionally violent British group accused of racism, have also denied the ties with the mass-murderer in Norway, despite the killer himself claiming close association with them.

Just as their right wing brethren in the Maldives, they too “reject all forms of extremism”, and vow to fight against it.

Hyperbole at home

The Maldivian society’s decided swing to the right in the aftermath of democracy is startling – the political dialogue is marked with hyperbole, and dishonest, wild rhetoric.

Reasonable concerns about establishing diplomatic ties with the state of Israel ended up getting blown up into a full-fledged conspiracy involving evil Zionist doctors plotting to steal body organs from unsuspecting Maldivians.

A proposed change in curriculum was vocally derided as a sinister Israeli plot to undermine national sovereignty.

Disagreements over a regulation that would have permitted the tightly restricted sale of alcohol to foreigners at a business hotel, ended up being painted as a death blow to the very religious foundations of the Maldives – thanks to a shrill campaign started by the Adhaalath (Justice) party and aligned opposition groups that was marked with emotive language, and rhetoric carefully calculated to whip up fear, paranoia and hatred.

Adhaalath party leader Shaheem Ali Saeed would later boast at a recent party congress that it was their tiny party that “organised the largest mass-protests in the country”.

Yes, but at what price?

Birds of Feather

Emotive politics of the far-right contribute to, and depend on, a climate of fear and insecurity.

It is within this shelter of blind hateful ignorance that killers like Anders Breivik emerge, casting themselves in self-aggrandizing roles of ‘warriors’, ‘crusaders’ and ‘mujahideen’ to protect their religion and country from the evil, scheming subversive forces that only exist in their heads.

“If Muhammad was alive today,” he wrote, “Usama Bin Laden would have been his second in command.” The Norwegian killer spent over nine years working on his “manifesto” – but in reality, he could have just taken any random Islamist propaganda leaflet and substituted “Christendom” for “Caliphate” , the “Crusades” for “Jihad” and “Knights Templar” for “Mujahideen”.

Not surprisingly, despite being an avowed Islamophobe, he found ideological similarities with the al-Qaeda – and repeatedly makes references to al-Qaeda’s training manual.

Breivik also found that his ideology seamlessly fit with the Hindu fundamentalist groups in India as well. His “manifesto” quotes from several Hindutva propaganda websites, and applauds Hindutva advocates who ‘do not tolerate the injustice and often riot and attack Muslims when things get out of control”.

Decades of sowing animosity towards Indian Muslims brought Hindu fundamentalists led by AB Vajpayee from fringe obscurity to national power.

But within their one term, the emotionally charged politics of the day resulted ultimately in the deaths of thousands of Muslims and Hindus in the Gujarat communal riots. The same forces would later unleash violence against Christians in the southern Indian state of Karnataka.

The battle of Badr used by Jihadist leaders to stoke fire in their soldier’s hearts, finds its equivalent in the Crusades for Breivik – whose online “manifesto” honours such medieval figures such as Vlad the Impaler and Charles the Hammer.

One can thus easily see that there really isn’t any difference at all between these seemingly competing intolerant forces that are both the victims and perpetrators of the same far-right wing ideologies obsessed with their apocalyptic visions of global domination.

A suitable response

A quarter of a million people took to the streets of Oslo on Monday, to remember the dead.

Unlike nations like Pakistan that have swung so far to the right over decades of ideological poisoning, that thousands actually came out to garland the man who assassinated Salman Taseer, a liberal politician who spoke up for minority rights, Norway’s response to the horrors of July 22 reflects its vastly more mature, and strongly liberal social ideals.

“We will punish him, not by killing him or torturing him, but by defying his every wish”, said a teenager, whose friend was among those killed in the Utoya massacre.

Hundreds of supporters gathered outside a tiny Church where a Christian pastor and a Muslim Imam performed a joint memorial service for Bano Rashid, an 18 year old Muslim girl whose promising life was prematurely snuffed out by the fanatic violence.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg greeted the audience at another memorial service in Oslo with the Arabic greeting “Salaam Alaikum”, drawing a cheerful applause – and pushing a stake through the heart of the dark forces that had sought to strike a wedge between the Norwegian people.

The King and Queen of Norway, who openly wept in a Church service for victims, had a similar response of defiance; in his address, the King said that freedom is more important than fear.

Across the board, Norwegian politicians have vowed to respond to terrorism with “more democracy”, “more diversity”, “more peace” and “more tolerance”.

The time has come for media and citizens around the world – including in the Maldives – to stop viewing the theatre of violence through the narrow lens of religion and nationality. The only solution to division, hatred and violence is to confront the language, thoughts and tactics of short-sighted, opportunistic politicians whose only political gimmick is to create a climate of fear and hatred towards foreigners, Jews, Muslims, Christians.

While the scourge of ultra-right wing extremism is the enemy of all societies and peoples, there is a strong message sent out when resistance emerges from the very people that these bigots claim to represent – when whites fight against Aryan supremacists, and Jews protest against Israeli military aggression, and Muslims fight against Islamist violence and hate-mongering.

The Norwegians have shown the way with a dignified, determined response of hope, and peaceful idealism that characterise their society.

It is now up to the rest of the world to follow in their footsteps and extinguish the climate of fear and hatred that allow these abhorrent acts to take place.

In Jens Stoltenbergs’ words: “No one will bomb us to silence. No one will shoot us to silence. We must never stop standing up for values… our answer to violence is even more democracy, more humanity”

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]


29 thoughts on “Comment: The price of right-wing politics”

  1. Any criticism of the article will not be well-received so I will just confine myself to saying that Yamin sure has a skill for prettily stringing words together in beautiful prose.

    You have all the makings of a propagandist, sermon-writer or life-coach :D.

  2. Excellent article.

    Should do a translation and publish in
    a dhivehi medium, so that some non-english reading audience can actually
    read whats going on.

    ...well if thats ppl want to face reality.

  3. Hey! Folks we also have local (Maldivian) versions of ‘GEERT WILDER’, the name are Saikh Iliyas Hussan, Saikh Imram Abdulla.
    Just can’t understand why human beings hate each for the colour of skin and religions. Can’t understand why different religions its believers think that their religion is in correct path. Think if the creator is able to control the minds of that he created then why there are so many different thoughts and philosophies!

  4. I agree with Pen. This article is brilliant, and should be translated!

    Also hassan ahmed, I believe that Seyku Ilyas, Geert Wilder, Adolf Hitler, Osama Bin Laden, KKK.....they are pretty much the same thing.

  5. @ Hassan,

    "Think if the creator is able to control the minds of that he created then why there are so many different thoughts and philosophies"

    I believe it's called free will mate

  6. let Breivik win his case in the Courts of Law. Let him freely walk out on the streets (as one more step towards a higher democracy) .... Let him meet his fate .... with the people on the street .... Hail Breivik

  7. "Far-right politicians, willing to let society burn in order to enjoy their moment in the spotlight, employ words and rhetoric that threaten the peace and harmony of society".

    There's a lot of praise for this article. But Mr Rasheed has ignored some fundamental issues. The influx of immigrants to Scandinavia has been something of a shock to their socieities. Until as late as the eighties, most Scandinvian countries were predeominantly white with very few coloured communities. This has changed dramatically in the recent past. Somalis, Pakistanis and Afghans have settled in their thousands in Norway, for example. There is no country on earth that can absorb such cultural imbalances in society.

    The problem with politicians and elitists have been to ignore the social issues caused by these large scale transformation of society. Instead of listening to the "unwashed masses", their voices were treated as racism, hysteria and xenophobia. Groups such as the English Defence League grew out of those voices of society that the politicians and the media kept ignoring.

    Mr Rasheed is making the same sweeping generalisations. Islamic fundamentalism, Al-Qaeda and right wing nationalism in the West are very different issues. On the surface, their "manifestos" might look similar, but the underlying issues are as disparate as they can be!

    The author tries to find a grand unified theory of all that's wrong with society today, in terms of intolerance towards each other. Well, there is no such grand unified theory and there never will be. These issues need to be addressed at the appropriate levels. Some of them are local issues, otheres are national whereas some are of internataional importance.

  8. i fear Breivik is the shape of things to come, people r fed up with islam and its failure to accept criticism and freedom of speech, we see in the news everyday the atrocities committed by muslims, there isnt a day goes by that u dont hear about a suicide attack, beheadings, terror attack, stonings, ect. muslims do not assimilate, integrate well like other groups do, they whine and demand special treatment and follow their own laws. Breivik just showed to the world that the multiculture elites r fair game, tho i do not agree with Breivik methods of violence i do empathize with his frustration and concern over this multiculture failure, there is a growing backlash against islam spreading all over the west and if fear its beginning to get more violent..

  9. spot on! hindutvaism, christian fundies, islamofascists, radical zionists, militant antitheists... they are all the same. they all thrive on intolerance, fear, and hate. they want more control and more power.

  10. LOL'd at the 'internet detective' who so doggedly chases Yameen like a deranged fanboy.

    With that out of the way; I believe that the anger against islam in Europe is just a side effect of the actions of right wing leaders of islam. I feel sorry for people like Breivik who felt he had no options left but to lash out.

    At least he had the balls to admit it, and not an hero.

  11. Thank you Yameen. The piece is well written and has a lot of analytical value. Definitely need a dhivehi version as this does need to reach to the masses of Maldivians who may not understand English.
    In response to some of the comments above: Islamic fundamentalism, Al Qaedha, Hindu Fundamentalism - they are not the same, did not arise out of the same conditions and neither do they have the same manifesto. But one thing that they all have in common is the way they work. They work by brainwashing. They utilize a "us versus them" rhetoric and creates a picture of us being "pure" and them being " impure". Now I have to mention that it is not only terrorist groups and ideologues who use such language and rhetoric but also governments and world leaders themselves. Though the language used by leaders and governments may not be as explicit and straight forward.
    The analysis provided in this article is excellent and if dug deeper one would realize that the issue actually goes beyond what is mentioned in this article. While there lays a humanitarian responsibility on each one of us to treat others equally and to preach equal rights for everyone - one also has to look at some of the reasons at an institutional level that leads to such crisis. One being the global imbalance in power and wealth! So far globalization has played out in such a way that power and wealth are concentrated in the hands of a few and a majority of the poor and getting more and more marginalized. As long as we do not find a way to make globalization more humane and just - there will always remain a majority marginalized poor, uneducated, less advantaged population who will easily fall for such right wing politics and feel desperate enough to resort to violence.

  12. I did not read the article. As usual I skimmed though the comments first (to check if it is worth reading) and found words like 'brilliant' 'excellent' 'best'..

    And if its so perfect, there is no ADDITIONAL VALUE THAT CAN BE ADDED by my reading it.... just like Quran, it would be blasphemous to comment too.

    I hope in future that you would leave some room for readers to comment, at least to make Maldivians think a little bit more..

  13. @Ahmed Bin Addu Bin Suvadheeb

    I don't agree with you that the underlying issues of right wing movements are as disparate as they can be!

    I believe they are the same. They may have outward cultural differences, but underlying it all are fascist beliefs grounded in being right about ones opinions, sexism, misogynism,racism, intolerance and narcissism.

    Yameen has captured in this essay the essence of what we are experiencing today with the radical right. Well written, well researched, well expressd. Thank you Yameen.

  14. Ahmed Bin Addu Bin Suvadheeb

    Thank god that there is someone in this country that can actually read such bombastic drivel in a critical manner.

    Most people are just gushing about the form and structure of the above article with nothing constructive to say about the content.

    If disparate events are written about by someone who is not an expert in the field in order to draw similarities that do not exist between them, this is called propagandizing.

    I hate to act like Yaamyn but this is very similar to how religious leaders tie together two events based on shaky similarities and compare them to a religious authority on questionable grounds and then try to convince their audience that the solutions for all three are similar.

  15. tsk tsk

    In this case, you're wrong. Refer to the comment by Khadeeja Hamid above.

    This article is clearly about the divisive and provocative nature of the politics practiced by these groups, not about the whatever causes they claim to represent.

    From the words of Anders Breivik himself, it is clear that he draws inspiration from Islamist and Hindu fundamentalists of what you call 'disparate' groups. So the article is absolutely right in highlighting that these groups have the same modus operandi and can only survive in a 'climate of fear'.

  16. I think some people "just don't get it".
    Right wing ideas are the same though causes could be very diverse.
    The fundamentalist ideas of whether it is Islamic or Christian is the same.
    The Christians do not like Muslims in these cases and vice versa.
    People like Naik, Phillips and Anjum Chowdary are the same as is people like Wilders and them.
    All they do is spread hate and incite violence against others.

  17. If the objective is to create dialogue before next year's forum (which Iruthisham has promised our creditors at the EU/IMF/US/UK mafia), then this is a good start.

    However if the outcome of the forum is already decided then there is no point in discussion.

    Any student of comparative sciences would agree that the context is vital in understanding any event whether historical or current.

    I do not believe that the above article is an exercise in inductive reasoning. Emotion and rhetoric alone cannot drive a movement. There is a reason why people listened to Hitler. There is a slightly different reason why people listened to Osama bin Laden. They are merely symbolic leaders and their rhetoric is meant to appeal to and echo the frustrations and sentiments of the people.

    Give this some thought as well.

    The immigrant issue causes latent fears that the Americans like to term "racism" to spring to the fore. This is also a generalization. An academic discussion of these issues are hard to conduct here.

    However, once again, if the objective is to fight propaganda with propaganda, then do it in a way that the Maldivian people can understand and relate to.

  18. "I think some people “just don’t get it”."

    Oh yes, we do "get it", thank you very much. I've lived amongst different cultures, religions and colours. There's no such thing as "The Christians do not like Muslims in these cases and vice versa." This is total and utter bull shit.

    "So far globalization has played out in such a way that power and wealth are concentrated in the hands of a few..."

    If you care to reflect on the state of human kind, you ought to realise that there is nothing unique about "globalization" as we see today. We have been "globalizing" since man stood on his legs on this earth! We have been brain washing, murdering, marauding and spreading all sorts of good and evil for as long as we've been here.

    Stringing words together and forming theories may make some people feel good. After all, we love a believable argument for everything; hence the invention of religion itself, in order to explain all that we cannot understand.

    In order to understand the issues addressed in the article, it's not enough to do an armchair analysis or trawl the internet. To understand the nature of these diverse issues, one would have to experience them first hand, ideally, or do some serious social research.

    There are millions of Geert Wilders, Naik and Breivik out there. Some of them are amongst us. We don't have much love for Bangalhis; they are taking away our jobs and ruining our society. We don't like the foreigners running our airports, telecommunications and tourism industry. We fear that they are exploiting us and taking away what is rightfully ours.

    We fear that the West have got some secret agenda to enslave us. I'm sure you get the picture by now...

  19. The rhetoric of adhaalath and other similar groups, are exactly like that of the far right anti-muslim, anti-immigrant racist xenophobic groups in Europe. They obviously try to fuel, not anti-israeli sentiments, but anti-jewish/anti-semetic racism.
    You're not exactly helping by saying something like, "the narrow lens of religion and nationality". May actually be hypocritical for you to say that, and it is offensive to a lot of decent people who take those things seriously without being narrow minded and irrational. It doesn’t necessarily make someone narrow minded, if they are religious or inclined to nationalism. In an ideal world, divisions wouldn’t exist, but this isn’t one.
    I think the problem is a combination of a rise in a very aggressive ‘Islamist’ islam, and political problems in the ‘muslim world’ (really the middle east), both these problems seems to stem from the middle east, I think. There are serious legitimate problems, for Palestinians and other Muslim countries like Afhganistan, Iraq, and it is not just between Muslim sects or denominations, but with the west, largely America, and historically with Israel.
    far right groups will never completely disappear, it's a natural trait that causes some to lean on the liberal side of things, and some to be agree with a more conservative point of view.

  20. @Tsk Tsk

    All I have to say is tsk tsk tsk...quite sad to see your attachment to being right to matter what. Looks like this article hit some spots.

  21. Just because you say they are the same does not make them same. Idiot

    It is only right wing extremists like Geet wilders and their ilk who label People like bilal or naik as extremists. Views that do not agree with euopeans are always extremists....

  22. Exactly Hassan. It did hit highlight some issues that are close to my heart.

    First, when articles such as the one above are publicized by Minivan, I suggest that Minivan follow its own standards by,

    - Stating the writer's academic qualifications.
    - Providing us with a background of the writers professional experience.

    There are those reading Minivan and commenting on this forum as well who have actually spent time and labor on obtaining formal certification on these subjects. Also, there are those who have spent quality time abroad learning how these issues operate in reality. For such persons, it is vital that Yaamyn's academic standing and past experience be made public.

    As Addu Bin Suvadheeb has said, arm-chair research done over the internet or by watching and reading documentaries only provide us with a very superficial idea of such heavy issues. That does not qualify us in any way to write academically about them. I am not a big fan of opinion pieces from uninformed individuals. Nothing personal.

  23. Tsk Tsk, judging by the comments, yameens article seems makes a lot of sense to others just as it did to me. In my opinion, it is very intelligent, straightforward and strongly, but veryeloquently expressed.

    But since your comments seem to imply that you are obviously more knowledgeable than the rest, maybe you should write for minivan news. I am not sure, but comment is open to anyone, isnt it?

  24. Perhaps we are reading too much into this.

    From what I understood, the author is expressing his dismay at the slide of the right toward madness. All ideologies mentioned have disparate objectives I doubt anybody disputes that.

    In short a bigot is a bigot is a bigot is bigot. Does not matter their beliefs or objectives.

    Too many of them and we have a problem.

  25. In my humble opinion, the moderate-extreme scale for islam is different from other religions. for eg.
    a moderate muslim = extreme (insert religion).

    The author calls Greet Wilders a hate figure but Zakir Naik controversial.

    (just to prove a point)

    Where as in my humble opinion, Zakir Naik has publicly advocated capital punishment for apostasy and blasphemy.

    Greet Wilders has never advocated physical violence.


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