BRUSSELS — The Brussels attacks have given a boost to the far right in Belgium and beyond, and their anti-Islam language is finding a special resonance after another bloodbath by Islamic State extremists.
Just as the Paris attacks that killed 130 people in November reinvigorated the right-wing National Front in regional elections, last week’s bombings in the Belgian capital have given radical-right leader Filip Dewinter’s Flemish Interest party fresh impetus to reignite his group’s flagging fortunes.
Even in the Netherlands, where one arrest was made linked to a possible future attack this week, fire-brand politician Geert Wilders is using the latest bombings to boost his popularity.
It’s the result of a potent mix of fear, foreign enemy, and a failing security system that has been unable to stop one attack after another. “These events are fuel to the fire of every radical right-wing party in Europe,” Professor Dave Sinardet of Brussels University said.
Extremist groups have also used the attacks to boost their venomous brand.
It’s in this atmosphere of trepidation that the far right has traditionally flourished.
“If only you had listened to us,” hectored Wilders in the Dutch parliament Tuesday, arguing he had been calling for the preventive detention of foreign fighters for three years.
“Hundreds, maybe thousands of jihadis are ready to strike,” said Wilders, using the kind of language that has made his PVV party the most popular in the Netherlands, according to the latest polls.
It is the same situation in France. So when President Francois Hollande, a socialist, decided to abandon proposed legislation Wednesday that would have revoked citizenship for convicted terrorists and strengthened the state of emergency, the National Front of Marine Le Pen was the first to pounce.
She called the decision “a historic failure.”