The European liberal press tends to envisage political violence on part of national and extreme right-wing forces whereas representatives and offices of nationalist, right-wing parties have become the target of violent, vandal or sometimes life-threatening attacks in recent years. Overnight on Monday, unknown perpetrators have vandalised the entrance to the Brussels office of the anti-immigration Flemish Interest party.
“Deadly threats, paint bombs and, today, serious vandalism again at the entrance to our centre. It’s when they run out of arguments. In practice, hate and intolerance always come from our “tolerant” opponents. This gives us greater motivation than ever!” the Belgian anti-immigration nationalist party Flemish Interest leader Tom Van Grieken tweeted on Monday after their Brussels party office had been damaged. Violent, threatening attacks against their party, labelled as extreme right-wing in Belgium because of their anti-immigration policy, are committed by supporters of parties that advocate opposite views with liberal slogans and the idea of tolerance emblazoned on their banners, the party chief pointed out. However, their “arsenal” to express opinions seems to contradict slogans.
At the same time, liberal left-wing forces across Europe are saying that nationalism leads to xenophobia, causing the sympathisers of far-right political parties to commit violent acts. However, recent incidents point to the exact opposite. There have been several incidents this year when nationalist politicians or political parties, because of their views, became the targets of violent acts.
On 12 August 2018, unknown perpetrators attempted to detonate a bomb in the Treviso campaign headquarters of the Lega party, which garnered historic victory in Umbria last weekend. Nobody was injured in the explosion but there was another explosive device hidden in the building. Its maker packed the bomb with nails for greater shrapnel effect and destructive power. However, it was discovered and deactivated before it could have exploded.
In January 2019, the leader of the German anti-immigration Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) in Bremen, Frank Magnitz was assaulted and badly beaten in the street, on his way home from a theatre performance. The politician, covered in blood, was taken to hospital with injuries healing over 8 days. As Magnitz was attacked from behind, he could not see what he was hit in the head with. According to initial information he was hit with a club, but the police later denied this on the basis of security camera footage. The next day, several media outlets accused AfD of lying about the incident, and the Zeit even stated that the party’s policy was the cause of the assault.
Incidents similar to the one suffered by Magnitz are far from rare in Germany. The council of German city governments says that there have been 1200 politically motivated attacks against local politicians in the last one year alone.
In April 2019, Marco De Wit, the leader of the anti-immigration Finnish People First party, founded in 2018, was beaten up by youngsters at a campaign event in Helsinki Centre two days ahead of the Finnish parliamentary elections. As the “liberal” youngsters disliked that De Wit megaphoned the messages of his party, one of them walked up to him, hit him, and the politician lying on the ground was kicked several times. The video footage of the incident was later removed from everywhere due to the attacker’s young age.