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The Growing Threat of Far-Right Terrorism: Ideologies, Examples and Responses

In the last decade, we have witnessed a worrying rise in right-wing extremism in both Europe and Spain. Already in 2017, the then Commissioner for Security, Julian King, warned about the growing threat of right-wing violent extremism and stated that he did not know of any Member State that was freed to a greater or lesser extent from this scourge. That same year, the European Union Agency for Police Cooperation (Europol) found that the number of people arrested in relation to crimes of this caliber doubled in Europe. And since then, this trend has not only not diminished, but has consolidated.

EFE/EPA/DAVID ODISHO - A member of the 'Proud Boys' participates in a protest in front of the California Parliament.

Last year, the same agency placed right-wing violent extremism as one of the main risks to European security and emphasized that these movements are loaded with racist elements or hatred against minorities. “Far-right terrorism is a growing threat in Europe”

Types of Far-Right Terrorism

Far-right terrorism encompasses a variety of ideologies and motivations, including white supremacy, racism, misogyny, and hatred against the LGBTQ+ community. Each of these types of far-right terrorism manifests itself in various ways, often with deadly results.

  • White Supremacy and Racism: White supremacy and racism are perhaps the most recognizable forms of far-right terrorism. White supremacists believe in the superiority of the white race over all others and often promote racial segregation and violence against ethnic minorities. A notable example of this type of terrorism was the 2019 attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, where a gunman opened fire at two mosques, killing 51 people and wounding 49 others. Another example of this is the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). ), an American far-right white supremacist terrorist hate group.

  • Misogyny and the Incel Movement: Another type of far-right terrorism is extreme misogyny, often associated with the "incel" (involuntarily celibate) movement. Incels are men who blame women for their lack of sexual and romantic relationships, and in some cases, this frustration turns into acts of violence. A recent example of this type of terrorism occurred in Australia, where a knife attack in a Sydney shopping center left six people dead, five of them women. This attack came against a backdrop of increasing violence against women in Australia, underscoring the continued threat of misogyny in society.

  • Homophobia and Transphobia: Hatred against the LGBTQ+ community is another manifestation of far-right terrorism. Attacks motivated by homophobia and transphobia seek to intimidate and silence LGBTQ+ people. A tragic example of this type of violence is the 2016 attack at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, where a gunman killed 49 people and injured 53 more. Although this attack also had elements of Islamic radicalization, it was clearly directed against the LGBTQ+ community.

  • Ultranationalism: Ultranationalism is an extreme form of nationalism that exalts the nation and its culture above all others, promoting the idea of national superiority and ethnic purity. Ultranationalists often resort to violence to defend their vision of a homogeneous nation. An example of this type of terrorism is the 2011 attack in Norway, where an ultranationalist extremist detonated a bomb in Oslo and then carried out a mass shooting on the island of Utøya, killing a total of 77 people. The attacker had an ultra-nationalist and anti-immigrant ideology, and sought to purge Norway of foreign influences.

There are other forms of right-wing extremism, such as anti-Semitism, nativism and Satanism. For more information, you can consult the Department of Terrorism and Far-Right Violence of the OIET (International Observatory for Terrorism Studies).

The Propagation of Extremist Ideologies in Digital Spaces

The fight against terrorism and violence is also waged on the Internet. The proliferation of anti-immigrant, misogynist and other extremist parties and movements in several European countries has provided resources and information that has helped the spread of far-right movements at national, European and international levels. However, the situation of misinformation in digital environments and social networks has facilitated the spread of its message, which has encouraged hatred and the spread of fake news.

The use of digital platforms by these groups has not only allowed the dissemination of their ideologies, but has also created spaces for recruitment and radicalization. Through forums, social networks and messaging applications, right-wing extremists find and recruit new members, often disaffected and vulnerable young people seeking belonging and identity in virtual communities. These digital spaces allow for rapid and deep radicalization, often far from the scrutiny of authorities and society at large.

The Response of Spain and the European Union

In this context, Spain leads the European plan against the dissemination of terrorist propaganda and radicalism on the Internet. Last year, the Intelligence Center against Terrorism and Organized Crime (CITCO) promoted the elimination of more than 3,000 web pages that contained videos, photos, text documents and profiles that proselytized terrorism, almost 60%. of all requests submitted in the European Union (EU), as reported this Thursday by the Ministry of the Interior. Although nearly 80% corresponded to jihadist content, experts highlight the significant increase in the spread of extreme ideology.

As part of the Spanish strategy, the Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, inaugurated this May 2024 a European meeting to combat the spread of terrorist propaganda through the Internet, which brought together fifty security experts. from 24 countries of the European Union. During the event Grande-Marlaska highlighted Spain's " pioneer " role in executing orders to remove radical content online and the need for "meticulous surveillance and coordinated action to protect European citizens and the rule of law as well." in cyberspace.” This commitment is reflected in the recent implementation of a regulation to combat the dissemination of terrorist content online.

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