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Transnational Anti-Islamic Networks: Unveiling a Changing Far Right

Cleavages
Social Movements
Political Sociology
Identity
International
Social Media
Lars Erik Berntzen
European University Institute
Lars Erik Berntzen
European University Institute

Abstract

The far right has undergone two parallel shifts since the turn of the millennium. First of these is the shift to the web. The increased focus on Islam and Muslims is the second. Taking both of these shifts into account, this study employs network analysis to trace anti-Islamic organizations’ transnational online ties in March 2015 and 2016. It shows that anti-Islamic groups like PEGIDA and the English Defence League are part of a transnational and growing movement with over a thousand groups online. It also reveals that anti-Islamic communities build ties with actors that the extreme right traditionally portray as enemies. This corroborates previous work showing that anti-Islamic groups portray themselves as defenders of Jews, women, LGBT and others. At a meso-level, the ideological position and organizational ties of anti-Islamic groups represent a qualitative break from the traditional extreme right. However, the refugee crisis in 2015 has coincided with a stronger presence of the anti-Semitic and homophobic Eastern European extreme right. This has made the distinction fuzzier, possibly reversing the previous trajectory.