Scandinavia and the rest of Europe: Moving to the Right?

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Scandinavia and the rest of Europe: Moving to the Right?

Right-wing parties in Europe are becoming stronger, expected to reach the peak of popularity and strength since World War II. The phenomenon of movement towards the right is bringing new challenges for the migrant communities in Europe.

Right-wing parties in Europe are becoming stronger, expected to reach the peak of popularity and strength since World War II. The phenomenon of movement towards the right is bringing new challenges for the migrant communities and multiculturalism in Europe.

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It was in this light that the roundtable, titled ‘Scandinavia and the rest of Europe: Moving to the Right?” was jointly organized by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), Islamabad and Pakistan Norway Association (PANA) on Friday, 14th February 2014.

The event was chaired by Barrister Saadia Abbasi, Former Senator and Member IPS National Academic Council, and co-chaired by Atle Hetland, Norwegian Social Scientist, PANA Secretary. The other panelists included Dr. Hartmut Elsenhans, Professor, University of Leipzig, Germany and Quaid-e-Azam University, Bakre Najimuddin (Nigeria), Lecturer Preston University, Islamabad, Amir Iftikhar Warraich, Pakistani-Norwegian Businessman, Dr. Sabiha Syed, Social Scientist and Senior IPS Associate, Obaid-ur-Rehman, IPS Associate and Dr.  Ali Nawaz, PANA chair and Asst. Professor, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad.

In his presentation, Amir Iftikhar expressed that the Scandinavia and Europe’s movement to the right was not based on racial or multicultural issues; instead it’s the anti-Muslim approach that was at the core of far right majority of Europe. He referred to the xenophobia in Norway where the fear existed that Muslim immigrants could develop a parallel society which would be different from their indigenous culture and beliefs. He said that the brunt of this approach was being faced by the Muslim immigrants and these circumstances could also deteriorate further.

Sabiha Syed said that in last century, Immigration was not the real issue but the division of boundaries was. In this century however, migration has become a political and economic issue. The present period has seen a lot of restrictive policies for migration. On one hand the Scandinavian and European countries state their pride in multicultural diversity, but on other hand, their immigration policies have been very restrictive. The paradox is that these countries want to welcome labors and workers but they have not been able to devise appropriate policies for it. She stressed that we are living in a globalized world and need to find ways to be global citizens.

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Dr. Hartmut Elsenhans related movement to the right with the fear of job, stating that such problems were not there when the job situation was better in the region.

Bakre Najimuddin was of the opinion that this phenomenon of far right movement was an attempt to find a solution to their problem as people have sympathy towards right.

Mr. Atle Hetland highlighted the contribution of Muslim immigrants in economy and society of Scandinavia, particularly Norway. He emphasized upon the role of Muslims and other migrant countries in promoting harmonious society in Europe according to the aspirations of European people.

DG-IPS Khalid Rahman, who earlier presented the background and significance of the subject, concluded the session with a hope that IPS and PANA will continue to hold such programs on matters of mutual interest in future as well.

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