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Chechen fighter in Grozny. Wikicommons
Weekly hindsight 5-9 Feb 2018

When in doubt, lash out

Saturday, an Italian extremist shot migrants in a racially motivated attack. Sunday, the participants of a children’s carnival in Croatia burned posters featuring same-sex couples. Even if they seem unrelated, the two incidents are part of a pattern.

Lidija Pisker Lidija Pisker NewsMavens, Southern Europe

The Croatian incident happened during a ceremony where participants burn “the evil of the previous year”. Their choice was a picture book published by an association called “Rainbow Families” in January this year. The publication, which describes the lives of two same-sex families, was created so that children with same-sex parents could have a storybook to identify with.

The association made it clear they had no intention to impose the book on anyone, but conservative groups endeavored to convince the Croatian public that “Rainbow Families” was meant to indoctrinate students with an “LGBT agenda”. The picture book was distributed free of charge, but only on request. All the copies were reserved before the book went to print.

And this was enough to make radicals act out, which is how the story relates to the young Italian shooter.

The young man told investigators that his attack was motivated by the arrest of a Nigerian migrant after the murder of an Italian girl in Macerata, his hometown. According to Italian media, he heard the news on the radio, took a gun from his house and started shooting. He declared all immigrants guilty before the police gathered sufficient evidence to press charges against the suspect.

Fear and suspicions often trigger violent responses.

It would be comforting to describe both gestures as isolated cases of extremism, but the two incidents elicited a lot of support.

The Macerata attacker was praised by many Italians who share the same inclinations. In Croatia, any criticism against the disturbing carnival performance was trivialized as “financed by foreign donors” and thus “unworthy of attention”.

In a way, it’s obvious that violence will flare up when the divide between worldviews becomes raw and polarized. Nazi and hate speech crimes are on the rise. The Macerata shooter was a fan of Mein Kampf.

But what is striking is that this sense of danger leads to the scapegoating of vulnerable targets. Underprivileged minorities and displaced people throughout Europe may have to bear the brunt of the nationalist pressure building up around us.

violence, migrationneonazis

Also in the Weekly hindsight 5-9 Feb 2018
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