Violent extremism Europe's top threat

2013-01-28 22:06
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

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Brussels - Violent extremism is at its highest level in Europe since World War II and is becoming the continent's top security threat, the EU's executive body said on Monday.

In a speech on the eve of talks on how to detect and prevent extremism, the EU's commissioner for home affairs Cecilia Malmstroem urged the EU "to stand up ... and protect our values that are now being challenged in many countries in Europe”.

"We see a growth of extremism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, hatred and nationalism," she said.

"Not since World War II have extreme and populist forces had so much influence on the national parliaments as they have today. In some countries even neo-Nazis have been elected," she added.

Should the trend continue, next year's European elections "might further strengthen these forces", threatening the entire European project, Malmstroem said.

Tuesday's talks in Brussels, gathering home affairs ministers and counter-terror experts, will look at suggestions to combat extremism based on a Europe-wide Radicalisation Awareness Network launched in September 2011.

The grassroots network aims to spot potential terror recruits, from hard-line Islamists to far-right lone wolves.

It was set up after radical Islamist attacks in Madrid and London but also in the aftermath of Norway's "Lone Wolf" bombing and shooting rampage in 2011 by a far-right extremist.

The EU Radicalisation Awareness Network brings together community leaders, teachers, police, victims and youth associations to prevent radicalisation from taking root at the local level.

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