They are part of the anti-Islam and anti-immigrant “Identitarian” movement
It's been revealed that a vicious young “Identitarian” movement that started in France in 2002, equivalent to the US alt-right, has raised £56,489 to target boats helping to rescue refugees at risk of drowning in the Mediterranean sea.
Their name might sound like a dystopian fantasy descriptor, but their remit of Islamophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment is very real, and their latest act is incredibly worrying.
According to the Observer, the group apparently managed to club together the sum in less than three weeks – shortly after they successfully managed to intercept a rescue mission by charity SOS Méditerranée. Its intital goal was €50,000 (about £44,000) to be used to pay for ships, travel costs and film equipment. There's no downplaying what they're attempting to do: they want to kill people by leaving them to drown in the ocean, because they don't think they “belong” in Europe.
“They want to kill people by leaving them to drown in the ocean, because they don't think they ‘belong’ in Europe”
The Med has arguably become the world’s deadliest border, with 5,079 people dying in their attempt to cross in 2016, and tens of thousands having perished since 2000. It’s worth noting that in 2014 the UK government said it was not going to support any more search and rescue operations to prevent migrants and refugees drowning in the Mediterranean, stating that they encourage more people to attempt the crossing. There is only a subtle difference between actively preventing the work of rescuers, like Identitarians are doing, and not sending rescuers out in the first place.
Although Identitarian's were once described in The Economist as being “racists in skinny jeans” who have a "relative subtlety" that "opens doors to respectable society that remain shut to the traditional skinhead right", this latest act surely puts them into bed with some of the worst of the white nationalist offenders. They use the flimsy, and outright inaccurate claim that Europe is being “invaded by enemies and criminals” by sea, to justify their "direct action" – subverting the tactics of groups like Sisters Uncut and Greenpeace.
“Identitarian's were once described as being ‘racists in skinny jeans’ but they have moved beyond the sheen of respectability”
Their Facebook page, which has 122,665 likes to date, is a neatly laid out propaganda machine. The caption the below video, about their mission to intercept the aid workers, reads: “We are preparing a great rescue mission in the Mediterranean, a mission to save Europe from illegal immigration. We want to assemble a team of professionals, charter a great boat and sail on the Mediterranean sea to counter the boats of NGOs that act in unison with human traffickers.”
The only good thing to come out of this so far is that there has been an incredibly successful counter campaign launched today, helmed by feminist commentator Caroline Criado-Perez, who has crowdfunded thousands of pounds within minutes of uploading a GoFundMe page in opposition to the group. The proceeds, set to a limit of £100,000, will go to MSF search and rescue teams.
Criado-Perez writes: “Last night, Britain suffered from its second terror attack in as many weeks. We all want this to stop... Far-right agitators would have you believe that it is these desperate people, these traumatised families, who are a danger to us. They think the right response to terrorism is to make sure more of them drown. But the reality is, the people they are fleeing from are terrorising them with the same twisted ideology of those trying to bring terror to our streets.”