The weight of words

April 10, 2014 — Press release

Written by IRR News Team

The latest issue of Race & Class assesses popular debate around issues involving the far Right in Europe.

In ‘The weight of words: the freedom of expression debate in Norway‘, Sindre Bangstad, an affiliate researcher at the Faculty of Theology, University of Oslo, explores the philosophical and political underpinnings of the freedom of expression debate in Norway. He warns that virulent far-right racism and extremism have been sanitised and made mainstream, threatening liberal democracy and equal citizenship in the process.

A confluence of interests and forces among Norwegian political, media and legal elites since the Rushdie affair and the ‘Mohammed cartoon crisis’ have created conditions in which minority protections against racist and discriminatory speech as guaranteed by Norwegian law have been rendered all but ineffective – in the name of stronger protections for freedom of expression. In the event, Islamophobia and anti-Muslim racism have not only often gone unchallenged, but have been amplified and disseminated both through the extreme rightwing presence on the internet, and in mainstream print media. The ideology of Anders Breivik, perpetrator of the massacre of 22 July 2011, was not isolated, but forms part of a larger and growing phenomenon.

We also focus on the anti-extremism framework, now popular among policy and academic circles, which threatens to distance anti-fascists from engaging in struggles against the far Right. In ‘Anti-fascism or anti-extremism’, Liz Fekete warns that the framework enables state security policies to equate threats from both Right and Left, hobbling democratic opposition to a growing European fascism. Meanwhile, in ‘Rightwing extremism in Serbia’, Jelena Dzombic reports that the dominant political climate fails to recognise the growing threat from the far Right, a remnant of  Milošević’s ethnic Serb nationalism and the Yugoslav wars. The anti-extremism framework has seen Serbia’s Ministry of Justice equate the human rights NGO for which the author works with the far Right.

The April 2014 issue also includes:

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The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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