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Why we need to talk about the media’s role in far-right radicalisation

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When it comes to the threat of Islamist terrorism, no one doubts the role of radicalisation. The internet, hate preachers such as Anjem Choudary and Abu Hamza, and the western-armed, extremism-exporting state of Saudi Arabia: all play their part in radicalising the impressionable. When it comes to the far right, however, this consensus is absent. The reason for this is as obvious as it is chilling: the hate preachers, recruiting sergeants and useful idiots of rightwing extremism are located in the heart of the British, European and American establishments. They are members of the political and media elite.

Less than two weeks ago, dozens of Muslims were murdered in Christchurch. Before the lethal rampage, the shooter is said to have inscribed “For Rotherham” on one of his gun magazines – in reference to the English town’s grooming scandal. In Britain, far-right terrorist attackers have ranged from David Copeland, who detonated a nail-bomb in a Soho gay pub in 1999 after decades of media hatemongering against LGBT people, to the murderer of Jo Cox, whose despicable act was cheered by 25,000 people online, to Darren Osborne, who ploughed his van into worshippers outside a mosque. As one radicalisation expert, Abdul-Azim Ahmed, of the Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK at Cardiff University told ITV news, Osborne’s extremism “also came from the mainstream media. It came from mainstream politicians both here and abroad.”

Days before the Christchurch atrocity, I interviewed Tore Bekkedal, a young Norwegian socialist. In 2011 he survived a........

© The Guardian