“I thought I was going to die, it was horrible”: The growing far-right is attacking refugees throughout Europe

(This article is published in Salon.)

“I thought I was going to die, it was horrible,” a terrified Somali refugee proclaimed. He had just lived through an arson attack on a refugee center in Sweden.

There have been 15 arson attacks on refugee shelters in Sweden so far in 2015 — more than one per month. In one attack, in August, a Christian cross was set on fire outside of a refugee center, recalling the KKK and white supremacist terrorism in the U.S.

Just weeks ago, a refugee center in neighboring Finland was firebombed. At the same time, elsewhere in the country, scores of racists attacked a bus full of refugees. One of the far-right assailants was dressed in a white robe with a pointed hat, another KKK symbol.

The world is witnessing the worst refugee crisis since World War II. The German government said it expects up to 1.5 million refugees to arrive in the country in 2015. In the past several months, as refugees — most of whom are fleeing violent wars in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia — have flooded Europe in search of asylum, far-right parties and movements preaching anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant doctrines, like Pegida, have rapidly grown in popularity.

The far-right is on the rise throughout Europe. Observers warn that the continent may be seeing the resurgence of fascism. This neo-fascism is not identical to its early 20th-century predecessor, but it is the same in spirit. And the new targets of the neo-fascist’s hatred, the scapegoats whom they blame for their countries’ ills, are refugees and Muslims.

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