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Islam and Hatred: Why the Free World Civilization is at Risk

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Hatred to the other is one of the main sources as much as commandments in Islam. It is this old inherent religiously commanded hatred that is behind the terrorism of Jihad against the infidels and the criminality of the Muslims in so many places and regions around the world.

Hatred cannot be detached from Islam because it is in fact indoctrinated and motivated by Islam. The Nazi era has taught us that hatred is one of the most important policies that lead to apartheid and genocide. The Qur’an teaches hatred and commands to hate the infidels. The Islamic Caliphate State (ICS) is proving it time and again, even by destroying the archeological sites, the wonders of the old Middle East.

Consider the elements that define hate speech: drawing a moral comparison based on distinction between one’s own identity group and those outside of it; dehumanization of other groups and insistence of personal superiority against these groups; and a call to all kind of atrocities perpetuated against other groups.

The Islamic Shari‘ah qualifies as hate religion on each and every count by which we define hate speech. There is no other religion that draws such sharp distinction between its community of believers and others outside Islam.

a) Its message inspire loathing for others and the Qur’an mandates the superiority of Islam by all means. According to Muslim exegetes, there are seven major features of the superiority of Arab-Muslims over others, based on the Qur’an, among them, they are the best Ummah ever brought forth to men, bidding good (Ma’rûf) and forbidding evil (Munkar); they hold the pillar of superiority over all other world communities; and they will wage war on the people of error and the Anti-Christ.

b) It draws a deep distinction between Muslims and the others, called Kuffār, and it incites to violence and hatred. Islam is ethnocentric religion and political culture. It differentiates the world between Dār al-Islām against Dār al-Harb; between the good and righteous society and the bad and unclean society. It is Halāl against Haram; it is the right against wrong; it is the pious against the evil-doers; it is Paradise or Hell. There is nothing positive in the Qur’an and the Sharī‘ah for non-Muslims who are all infidels.

c) It perpetuate legitimizes atrocities and butchering of non-Muslims whenever they are. There are 527 verses that are intolerant to the infidels, and 109 verses calling on Muslims to make war on the infidels. As Muslims see it, Islam is for everyone in the human race and should be expanded as a winning religion, by force or persuasion, until all human beings proclaim that “there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger.” Jihad is universally understood as war on behalf of Islam, and its merits are described plentifully in the most-respected religious works.    

In ancient as much as in contemporary world, Islamic dominance is characterized by the oppression and discrimination of non-Muslims, all defined as infidels (Kuffār, Kāfirun). There are no “unbelievers” or “disbelievers” in the Qur’an and the Sharī‘ah at large but only infidels or apostates. This is not only a subjective issue, but deep categorical. ‘Unbeliever’ can get neutral in conception, ‘infidel’ is totally different. The pattern of aggressive violence and disregard for human suffering is persistent in Islam and reflects the message of the Qur’an, which is one of superiority, loath and hatred. 64 percent of the Qur’an and 61 percent of the overall Sharī‘ah is related to the infidels, and there is not even one positive stand in favor for them. They are all an integral part of the abode of Hellfire.

The Kuffār are the vilest animals and beasts; the worst of creatures and demons, perverted transgressors and partners of Satan (al-‘Imrān, 3:82, 110; al-Nisā’, 4:76; al-A‘arāf, 7:176; al-Anfāl, 8:55). The Kuffār are to be beheaded. Muslims must strike off their heads and their fingertips (al-Anfāl, 8:12; Muhammad, 47:4). The Kuffār are to be terrorized. Muslims are to cast terror into the hearts of the infidels, their abode is the Hell-fire (al-‘Imrān, 3:151; al-Anfāl, 8:12, 8:60; al-Ahzāb, 33:26; al-Hashr, 59:2). The Kuffār are to be annihilated until the religion of Allah is the only one. They are to be killed wherever they are found, since persecution is severer than slaughter. Muslims are obliged to slay them until there is no persecution, and religion is only Allah’s. This commandment includes not only the infidels and the idolaters, but also the hypocrites and the polytheists, as their abode is Hell-fire (al-Baqarah, 2:191; 193; al-Nisā’, 4:89, 91; al-Anfāl, 8:39; al-Taubah, 9:36, 73, 111, 123; al-Tahrīm, 66:9). The Kuffār are to be crucified (al-Mā’idah, 5:33). They are the constant fuel of the fire burn in Hell (al-‘Imrān, 3:10; al-Taubah, 9:17; Ibrāhīm, 14:30; al-Nahl, 16:29; al-Anbīyā’, 21:98; al-Hajj, 22:19; al-Ahzāb, 33:64; al-Saff, 61:11; al-Mû’min, 48:13). “Hostility and hate” exist between the Kuffār and the Muslim believers forever until they “believe in Allah alone” (al-Taubah, 9:28, 32, 69).

The Egyptian intellectual Sami al-Rabbā’ has elaborated:

If you say that Islam is a violent faith, you are accused of being anti-Islam and “Islamophobe”. Yet, the main of the Qur’an are passages full of incitement and hatred, Jihad-killing and war-mongering.

The educational system is the main source of indoctrination and socialization to hatred and it works almost as a production line. The Muslims start the politics of hatred and Jihad ideology from infancy. The children learn to hate before everything, even without knowing why: at home, in the mosques and in schools, Madāris. They hate the infidels, because they are what they are, and not because they know anything about them. The hatred is in their drink and foods, and this fuel directs and motivates the massacres and lynches that are so pervasive around the world.

The contemporary radicalization of the Muslim youth, the “third generation” Muslims living in the Western world is enormous and alarming. A report by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization in London claims that “European jihadists in Syria are more numerous than official statistics indicate. Indeed, they point to the existence of entire French-speaking and German-speaking brigades in the Aleppo region.” Many of them are radicalizing through the Internet extremist websites and YouTube videos; others are led by imams at mosques; and others, converted to Islam, men and women, volunteer for sex Jihad.

Sa’id al-Hamad, a liberal thinker from Bahrain

The ‘culture of backwardness’ dominates the Arab world, and it includes ‘culture of terrorism,’ which adopts beheading and lynching people; and the ‘culture of hatred,’ which propagates in the minds and consciousness of the youth deep hatred to the world.

Islam’s conceptions and behavior

Muslim groups and organizations are violent politically and fanatic religiously. Muslims cover their activities by using religious argumentations as an excuse and motivation to their behavior towards the other. Whether they butcher and cut-off heads of infidels of the West; or terrorize their own Muslim believers, Sunnis and Shiites; or massacre minorities of all kinds, mainly Christians; or when they establish Islamic institutions and mosques in Western states; or when they commit acts of horrible homicide bombings and terrorism; or when they conquer, Islamize and Arabize vast territories; or when they commit ethnic cleansing, apartheid and mass holocausts — for example, the Hindus and the Armenians in the past, and Christians today; or when they coerce and intimidate, Muslims always claim they do it in defense.

Another astonishing issue is that Muslim exegetes, preachers and propagators speak only in complete and absolute terms about their religion’s values, without the slightest self-criticism and doubts: ‘Islam is absolutely a religion of peace and harmony;’ ‘Islam is totally devoted to promote peace around the world;’ ‘Jihad is absolutely and totally defined in terms of defense;’ ‘aggression is used only rarely, when the Muslims have no other choice to defend their religion and their self;’ ‘there is nothing in Islam that is against tolerance, democracy and peaceful relations;’ and ‘Islam tolerates all other religions, acts peacefully and preaches for human cooperation and collaboration.’

One finds these slogans abound in books, article, and media resources. It is so pervasive and so totalistic that it becomes almost impossible to argue and to debate with them. Their cultural conceptions; their totalistic approach as being always and under all circumstances the righteous side; and their ethnocentric conceptions make it impossible to argue with them in rational and according to the ‘golden rule’ values.

However, when one elaborates the many verses of the Qur’an and the commandments of the Shrī’ah, he immediately attacked and mocked off as an ignorant of Islam and dismissed as being biased evil Muslim: “you don’t understand the real true meaning of the scriptures;” “you don’t know Arabic;” “you hate Islam and prove Islamophobia exists;” “you prove by your words the white man discrimination of imperialism and colonialism;” “you are racist and oppressive;” and other accusations according to Arab-Islamic imagination and aggression.

What Arab-Islamic history and contemporary tell us?

This is the political language of the Muslim scholars, spokesmen and propagators. Yet, one has to recall the following: the origin of the Arabs and Islam is in Arabian Peninsula. All the vast areas that have been conquered from year 632 on are the result of one of the deepest colonialist and imperialist occupation characterized by process of Arabization and Islamization of the occupied territories. The Middle East was mainly Pharaonic; Phoenician; Babilonian; Ugarit; Chaldean; Jewish, and Berber in North-Africa. Iran was Sassanid; Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan were Buddhist. Indeed, Islamic occupations of the Middle East, North Africa, parts of Europe and Asia were all imperialist-colonialist of the worst kind, as they have constantly become Arabized and Islamized.

The invasion out of Arabia was conducted under political ideological ambitions clocked in a religious banner and as an intrinsic part of Islamic doctrine. This process of occupation ended by ethnic cleansing and deportations of the indigenous population; massacres and genocide of peoples; huge slavery by hundreds of millions; and racist policies of Apartheid.

The Palestinian sociologist, Ali ‘Issa Othman, states his conviction that

The spread of Islam was military. There is a tendency to apologize for this, and we should not. It is one of the injunctions of the Qur’an that you must fight for the spreading of Islam.

Indeed, Islam has never been a tolerant, peaceful religion. It is not intolerant as a response to other’s intolerance, but it is inherently intolerant, racist and war-mongering by itself, according to its religious doctrine. Islamic hostility that practices a policy of systematic Jihad against the other are not a modern phenomenon, but deeply rooted in the Qur’an. It has been operated systematically from the 7th century on until today.

Moreover, against the religious command to love their own fellow believers, Muslims massacre by millions other Muslims. Today, it is represented by the emergence of groups and organizations that follow the Islamic ancestors’ tradition, Salafiyah, with the following division: traditional (Salafīyah Taqlīdīyah), represented by the Muslim Brotherhood parties; Jihadi (Salafīyah Jihadīyah), represented by al-Qaeda and its regional organizations (like AQAP, AQIM, al-Shabab in Somalia, Boko Haram in Nigeria, Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria); and Takfīri (Salafiyah Takfīrīyah), represented the Islamic Caliphate State.

The objectives of Islamic hatred

The Qur’an makes it clear that Islam is not about universal brotherhood and cooperation, but the brotherhood of the community of believers. The Qur’an says that all other religions as such are cursed by Allah. Whoever does not believe in Muhammad and totally follow him; whoever contends with Muhammad and Islamic tenets it means heresy that deserves death. It is the nature of Islam to dominate and not to be dominated; to rule and not to be ruled; to be superior on all the infidels. The Muslim vision is clear: there is one universe, and it must be under the banner of Islam. All humanity must submit to Islam as the supreme religion.

The Islamic excuses of the past are no more relevant. The claims they revenge only at acts that are committed against them; acts that humiliate their honor and their souls; or for defense of their nation and soil; and all other sorts of fairy-tales for the consumption of Western media to publish and public opinion to impress – these excuses are no more relevant. The fact is that Muslim groups and organizations murder and butcher and operate all kinds of horrible atrocious acts of violence are exactly for political reasons under the cloak of religious issues and as a result of cultural reasoning. They wish to conquer the world, to impose their religion and culture, and they do not feel any shame or guilt remorse. From their vantage point, they are entitled to possess everything, as it is promised in the Qur’an. They have never given up the prophetic message that Islam must dominate the entire world, and they have all the patience (Sabr) in time to bring these ambitions come true.

The Saudi legal expert, Basem ‘Alem states it clearly:

As a member of the only true religion, I have a greater right to invade others in order to impose the Shari’ah, which history has proven to be the best and most just of all civilizations. This is the true meaning of Jihad. When we wage Jihad, it is not in order to convert people to Islam, but in order to liberate them from the dark slavery in which they live.

This is apparent in an interview with Ayat Allah Kamil, a Palestinian woman who had tried to carry out a suicide bombing. When asked by the Guardian journalist: “Do you have any dreams for the future?” She responded

My deep belief and wishes that the whole world becoming Islamic, a world in which we will all live in peace, joy, and harmony, all of us, human beings, animals, flowers, plants, and stones. Islam will even bring peace to vegetables and animals, the grass and the stones… And you will be able to remain Jewish, whatever you want; it doesn’t matter, but only in an Islamic world.

…and its consequences and repercussions

The Western world reaction to this reality if fear and intimidation. One of the fresh examples is the case of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a victim of genital mutilation in infancy and a victim of Islamic persecution today. Now she has been subjected to yet another example of Western cowardice and hypocrisy. Brandeis University has decided not to award her an honorary degree. As Arnold Ahlert observes, Brandeis honored Desmond Tutu who was an overt anti-Semite, and asserted that the Holocaust’s gas chambers made for “a neater death” than did Apartheid. He regularly accuses the Jewish State of ethnic cleansing, and insists that Zionism has “very many parallels with racism.” Brandeis also honored the playwright Tony Kushner, despite his overt anti-Semitism for Israel. He also accused the Jewish State of ethnic cleansing, and insisted its creation “was a mistake.”

Nevertheless they have been given the honorary degree. A similar case was also the University of Haifa decision not to grant an honorary doctorate to Nobel Prize laureate Yisrael Aumann, “because of his political views,” but has awarded the extreme leftist anti-Zionist Shulamit Aloni the honorary degree without hesitation.    

The question is why the academia, the media, and governments in the West, founded on liberalism and secularism, would not only refuse to counter Islamic Jihad and Da‘wah onslaught against other civilizations but even deny that Islam is not compatible with the basic values of freedoms and civil rights? The answer is surprisingly simple: because they are frightened, because they are intimidated and terrorized. They are frightened of being accused of Islamophobia and racism; they are intimidated by brutal savage forces that threaten and actually attack them; they are terrorized by anarchic and chaotic groups of ruffians; and they are paralyzed by Islam’s real intent to bring us all to its 7th century traditions and way of life. Part of them, mainly the academia and the cultural hedonists, act along these lines because they hate the west and its values and they perceive Islam as a cure to what they call ‘Western malaise;’ as they embrace sick and twisted ideologies based on neo-Bolshevism and neo-Fascism.

The best to exhibit the mired reality of this Western world’s situation is the example of the British newspaper, the Guardian’s cartoonist and head of the British Cartoonist Association, Tim Benson. Anti-Semite in profession, he often sketches horrible graphic cartoons against Israel, but never against Islam and the Palestinians. When asked about this, his answer was pure and simple: I am afraid. It means, he can draw anything against Israel, the Jews, Christianity and Buddhism, and nothing happens, but he would not dare to do that when Muslims, Arabs and Palestinians are concerned. He does not want to be persecuted like Salman Rushdie, or be butchered like Theo Van Goch, to mention the few.      

The academia and the media worldwide are sick, and Israeli academia and media represent a pure tragic example of this sickness, because Israel is in the forefront of the war of civilizations, the last fortified dam before the deluge. Unless these two important organs of Western society’s body that hold crucial influence on the governmental apparatus decision making stop their submission and capitulation to the forces of evil, the Western world is doomed.

Those in power are still terrified of offending Islam. Honor killing is still overwhelmingly an Islamic tradition; gender equality simply does not exist within Muslim culture and jurisprudence; women still have very few rights and are treated like beasts in Muslim states; women rape victims are punished even to death in large parts of the Middle East; and women are still forced to cover their entire bodies in dark tent. Islamic immigration wrack and havoc Western societies; and the Muslim’s third generation proves to be the most extremist and fanatic, and still Western governments appease Islam and actually even unintentionally promote its victory.

The Muslim women’s clothing is the symbol to Western world’s sick era. If “Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” then Western civilization is marching courageously to a dark era in which Islam determines the values of the future. This is a darkness era that clouds the minds of those in power in the West, as much as in the academia and the media, not to see the bright sights of Islam’s brutal onslaught of Jihad; not to hear the clear voices of Islam’s targets operated by Da‘wah; and not to smell the scent of Islamic blood-hunt that wishes to smash our freedoms and civil rights and to re-mold Western civilization according to their traditions.

This almost constitutes a perpeteum mobile, which leads to a simple mathematics: if the number of the Islamic fanatics produced by hatred is higher than those the Free World can neutralize, it means that it is losing the war of civilizations. Indeed, the Western world’s mired situation is so intimidating that it refuses to tell even to itself that Islam is engaging in a Third World War against us, and we even do not fight back, but appease and pay protection money. What we are really dealing with is not Islamophobia, but the acute danger of Islamophilia and Islamization of the Free World’s civilization.

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Anatomy of right-wing populism

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Twenty-five years ago, Fareed Zakaria introduced the concept of illiberal democracy: he revealed how some legitimately elected governments undermine liberal democratic principles by eroding the rule of law and the protection of fundamental freedoms. He predicted that this new form of regime would significantly damage the status of our democracies if not appropriately challenged. After almost two decades, the 2014 speech of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán marked the official birth of illiberal democracy in modern Europe, with a discourse that echoes the 1997 article. Except that it is the exact opposite of what Zakaria hoped to hear.

Orbán’s rhetoric and attitude are supported and endorsed by several populist leaders across Europe and beyond. What the Hungarian PM represents is the result of a long democratic recession that Larry Diamond estimated to start in the early 2000s in continents such as Asia and Africa. It appears that it is now the turn of Europe, as we can deduct from the rising popularity of multiple anti-establishment and nationalist parties across the continent. Despite populism not being exclusively a right-wing phenomenon, most of its support in the EU is represented by radical right parties that are often Eurosceptic.

This aspect is also confirmed by the outcome of the last European Parliament election in 2019. The results indicate a nationalist trend and a shift from the centre-right to the far-right within the populist vote: the relative populist electoral strength was highest in two European parliament groups, namely Identity and Democracy (ID) (including Salvini’s League and Le Pen’s National Rally) and the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) (including Brothers of Italy and Law and Justice in Poland), which are both very critical of the union and formed exclusively by right-wing (or even far-right in some cases) populist and nationalist parties. These two groups, albeit not achieving the brilliant results they were expecting, have won 135 seats in the European Parliament, and their main parties happened to be very strong nationally. Considering that the historic European People’s Party (EPP) and the Socialist and Democrats (S&D) have lost 65 seats combined from the previous election, it is not a bad outcome overall for right-wing populism.

In 2017, Bridgewater’s populism index in developed countries revealed that this phenomenon was at its highest rate since 1930s. In addition, the think tank Timbro estimated that more than a quarter of European electors vote for authoritarian populist parties, with Poland and Hungary among the four countries with most support. Political scientist Cas Mudde observed instead that the average support for these political forces is the highest since 1940s, with over 20% since 2010. Slightly different estimations are calculated but nevertheless this shows to what extent have these parties grown in recent years. One might consider these factors as alarming, since many scholars claim the expansion of populism and nationalism could eventually topple liberal democracies and favour authoritarian regimes, as already occurred in history.

What do we mean by right-wing populism?

First and foremost, before getting into the details of right-wing populism, an overall definition and brief explanation of populism must be provided. Mudde defines populism as an “an ideology that considers society to be ultimately separated into two homogeneous and antagonistic groups, ‘the pure people’ versus ‘the corrupt elite’”. Populists also believe that all members of the ‘pure’ group have the same aims and abide by the same principles, hence they do not accept a pluralist society consisting of diverse needs and concerns. Some of them also claim that this perceived faction of ‘the people’ comprises only of one ethnicity, class and religion.

Populist parties no longer seek out compromise and consensus through tolerant and democratic practices, but instead try to overthrow what they believe is a corrupt and broken system. In this way they undermine democratic institutions such as courtrooms and media, while attacking any aspect of society that opposes the common will of ‘the people’. They also refuse the search for a balance between the needs of the majority and the minority, as they claim that disregarding the interests of the majority is a violation of democracy, thus supporting “a form of democratic extremism or, better said, of illiberal democracy”.

Moreover, the cult of the leader is crucial in the populist world. This may sound obvious because a charismatic figure is always needed in politics in order to move masses and influence opinions, regardless of the political party. However, populist leaders declare they embody the will of the people and often appeal to the worst instincts of the population, manipulating fears and anxiety to increase their support. As politics is not only made of rational thinking, but also emotions and sentiments, they interpretate fear and desperation with (sometimes false) claims and simplistic solutions to contrast complex issues.

Populist groups are usually considered ‘catch-all’ movements, meaning that they follow the popular support rather than choosing a specific side. However, it could be discussed that this wide definition of populism is reductive. In fact, French economist Thomas Piketty deems it as a generalisation and refrains from using this word since there is a variety within that group: any party criticizing the current establishment is labelled as ‘populist’ without differentiating the diverse forms of this phenomenon. For instance, right-wing populists are usually hostile to immigration and minority rights, whereas left-wing populists are often culturally inclusive.

It could be further discussed that the argument about the people versus the elite tends to be overused as we have cases in which the political system is widely corrupt, and thus brings to legitimate concern and popular discontent to demand for more transparency and equality, such as in Greece, Spain and Italy. The movements that have emerged in these countries (Syriza, Podemos and 5 Star Movement respectively) showed a different approach to politics in comparison to prominent right-wing populist parties, as they have not undermined or taken over democratic institutions when elected to govern their respective countries.

Nonetheless, the majority of European populist parties have right-wing tendencies. This type of nationalist populism (also defined as ‘national populism’ by British academics Roger Eatwell and Matthew Goodwin) is mainly based on xenophobic and protectionist sentiments, in addition to be against the neo-liberal establishment. Right-wing populist parties tend to regard nationality as a rigid and unmodifiable homogenous identity (mistakenly connected only to ethnicity), and they are therefore against any form of pluralism, whether it is based on culture or sexual orientation. Although some national populists consider themselves patriots defending their sovereignty, it could be argued otherwise. Italian scholar Maurizio Viroli observes in his book that the terms ‘nationalism’ and ‘patriotism’ are often misused: while the former mostly reflects a protectionist and isolationist approach (rather than sovereignty), the latter is also based on the respect of other cultures.

Furthermore, most right-wing populist parties are willing to live in a democratic context, but they are against the liberal values of present-day democracies, such as media freedom and minority rights. As a matter of fact, they believe they represent the true nature of democracy, which focuses on the needs and interests of the majority that felt excluded and neglected by the ‘corrupt elite’ in recent years. Nevertheless, by emphasising the importance of the majority at all costs, they end up discriminating who is not part of ‘the people’, hence appearing to be a regressive and undemocratic response to a legitimate concern.

What are the causes of the global rise of populism?

Political scientists Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris suggest that the rise of populism is mainly due to economic inequality, which was partly caused by phenomena such as globalisation and austerity. The shift from the industrial age to what Piketty describes as a “globalised era of hypercapitalism and digital technology” has created high levels of inequity around the world. Piketty also argues that the concentration of wealth is disproportionate because the ratio of economic growth is lower than the so-called ‘return on invested capital’, hence much of the resources end up in the hands of a microscopic part of the population. Indeed, the latest Credit Suisse report indicates a great disparity in the world, with 1.1% of the population owning almost half of the global wealth (45.8%), and the bottom 55% of the population possessing only 1.3% of the total resources.

While globalisation had its own advantages (such as giving work to millions of people in emerging economies), it has also displaced many low skilled jobs and produced economic stagnation in developed countries. This has resulted in an ever-increasing wealth gap; this disparity, in turn, has created underserved communities who began to distrust the global system. Already twenty years ago economist Joseph Stiglitz (in his book Globalization and Its Discontents) warned us that rising inequality would pave the way for the rise of anti-establishment parties, such as nationalists and populists.

The 2008 financial crash further deepened the economic gap: the main consequences of the so-called ‘Great Recession’ have been high levels of unemployment, growing inequality and impoverishment of the working and lower middle classes. Moreover, in the aftermath of the financial crisis, the austerity policies implemented by the European Union, including tax raises and spending cuts, exacerbated the situation. The austere measures were in fact not combined with effective social protection systems, hence degrading the conditions of workers as well. This circumstance thus led the EU into an identity crisis, which we are still experiencing today with the rise of several Eurosceptic parties. 

Some might discuss that this is connected to the decline of liberal democracy, as the European Union is mainly based on liberal values. Mudde observes that the crisis of democracy results from the failure of the liberal establishment in the political system, and not from several external challengers trying to undermine it. In fact, he also claims that “contemporary populism is an illiberal democratic response to undemocratic liberalism”. The fact that the liberal system could be or become undemocratic is not unrealistic as it sounds, especially if we consider that in history liberalism was not always applied in democratic contexts, such as in many European countries in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The democratic crisis was also caused by the deterioration of traditional parties that lost touch with the lower middle and working classes, which have stopped trusting a system that has sold them false promises and has not met their needs. As a matter of fact, the level of trust towards parties across the EU has been in a declining trend in the last decade (just over 20% in 2019). This is also demonstrated by factors such as lower electoral turnout and decreasing participation in political activities, but also by the growing interest towards non-traditional parties. This aspect is critical because once you cease to identify in a political movement, you automatically find refuge in national identity, ideology or religion.

Furthermore, the advent of right-wing populism has cultural determinants as well: the 2015 migration crisis has indeed displaced millions of asylum seekers and economic migrants, many of which coming from Muslim countries. Their religion is a key aspect because right-wing populists have increasingly exhibited xenophobic attitudes towards Islam, which is seen as a civilisational threat, particularly after 9/11 and the rise of ISIS. Whereas there is no justification for such discriminatory behaviours, raising a question about EU’s handling of the migrant crisis may be a legitimate concern. According to Article 79 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the union “shall develop a common immigration policy aimed at ensuring, at all stages, the efficient management of migration flows”. It could be discussed whether some member states have not put enough effort and resources to cooperate and find a common solution, but it is also true that the EU could have anticipated the crisis by implementing appropriate immigration controls and reception systems. In fact, Mudde acknowledges that migration policies were often “undemocratic in spirit”, meaning that they were not the outcome of collective discussions and decisions taken together with the population. Hence, right-wing populist parties have exploited this crisis to criticize the EU with improbable scapegoats: for instance, describing migration from Africa and the Middle-East as an invasion or claiming that NGOs and liberal institutions are plotting for an ‘ethnic replacement’ of the European people.

Conclusion

As a result, right-wing populists (or at least most of them) reject liberal democratic values rather than democracy in its entirety: those values that are entrenched in the EU and other international institutions. However, the populist response does not seem to respect EU fundamental goals and values, nor basic democratic principles. The main issue is the approach used to criticize the liberal system. Populist movements tend to appeal to the fears and anxieties of the voters to attack the elites, which are perceived as always corrupt and distant from the population. This cannot be accepted as a fair argument, because, as we cannot generalise that all populists are fascists or xenophobic, then we cannot assert that the so-called elite is all corrupt either. As a result, neither the growing populist sentiment nor the liberal establishment are to be completely eradicated, but rather challenged and improved through collective discussions and decisions.

Moreover, the rise of right-wing populism is not the consequence of a single issue, but it is driven by a combination of mutually reinforcing economic and cultural aspects (from unemployment and wealth inequality to racism and xenophobia). These factors are the result of a series of events that affected our society in the last decades, such as globalisation, the Great Recession, the 2015 migrant crisis and the decline of traditional political parties. It would be thus too simple to only blame the vulnerabilities of the liberal establishment or the opportunism of populist leaders, as both approaches have had negative repercussions on the public.

On the one hand, populists have gained popularity due to genuine issues that liberal institutions have failed to deal with. On the other hand, they have also promoted ‘culturally exclusive’ behaviours (racism, xenophobia etc.) through demagogy and propaganda, often accompanied by the spread of disinformation. Nonetheless, the liberal system has perhaps not effectively dealt with crucial challenges and has showed weaknesses that exacerbated the socio-economic crisis we are witnessing, hence allowing right-wing populist parties to flourish. The more the people have felt left behind by the system, the more they have found refuge in national identity and intolerant ideologies. Therefore, the first step to take in order to explain and fight populism would be to bear responsibility for the inequal policies implemented through the years that have left many communities marginalised and prone to vote for anti-establishment parties. A card that does not seem to have been played well (or at all), since right-wing populist parties are increasingly on the rise in many countries around the world.

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Education needs a transformation. The same holds true with how we monitor our commitments

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Image source: educationcannotwait.org

Education is the key to unlock our development challenges. Yet, millions of children and young people are left behind, unable to fulfil their potential and prepare themselves for the future. In many countries, the pandemic has struck off the modest gains of the past 20 years for the generation most affected by school closures, with long-term consequences. This week, the Transforming Education Summit  comes to an end. The world’s education leaders have gathered over the last few days in New York, invited by the UN Secretary-General as part of Our Common Agenda, to debate solutions to put education back on the right track. 

The Summit has come at a time when, according to UNESCO’s latest figures, there are an estimated 244 million children and young people across the world still deprived of any form of formal schooling. Over 600 million children and adolescents are either not completing basic education or do not acquire basic skills that would help them prepare for the future. With only seven years to go until the deadline to reach SDG 4, the global education goal, they are lacking the support to access a high-quality and fulfilling education. Compounding the problem is the fact that governments in the poorer countries appear to be cutting their education budgets

The Transforming Education Summit marks a key moment. But as leaders declare their determination to improve education in their countries, we must review how to translate these words into the concrete targets, so that these promises do not ring empty, and how to monitor progress towards them. While the Summit has debated solutions to make schools safe, healthy, connected and green, countries should express the level of their ambition through national targets for each of these commitments to spur action from now to 2030. 

The issues rising to the surface during the discussions and consultation around the summit are all critical. One in six children live in areas impacted by conflict that also destroys their education opportunities. Schools are being bombed and children and teachers are killed daily. Only last year, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution on the protection of education in conflict zones. But more must be done to protect the education of affected children and young people. 

The compound effects of COVID-19, a war in Europe that disrupted grain production and exports, rising inflation and a looming economic recession, mean that the world is edging closer towards a food crisis. When schools closed their doors with little to no notice due to the pandemic, millions of students were cut off not only from their education, but also from one of their principal food sources. An estimated 39 billion school meals have been missed since April 2020. It is not only children’s physical development that was impacted. Without food, children simply do not have the energy to concentrate, and their education outcomes are therefore significantly worse. 

Another, equally significant impact of the pandemic was bringing learning from classroom to home. Laptops, computers, and iPads replaced pencils, erasers and pens as back-to-school essentials– for the lucky few: because this shift was reliant on all children having access to the technology required to learn from home. Unfortunately, with two-thirds of 3–17-year-olds unable to access the internet at home, this was far from the case. These children were left behind in systems whose efforts to catch up with the times simply failed them. As with many crises, this also predominantly affected children in disadvantaged homes and communities. The pandemic shed light on the foundations of education systems, which fuel exclusion and inequality. 

Finally, with almost two billion people affected by floods, droughts and storms every year, these devastatingly real consequences that climate change is unleashing on our planet are already being felt, though not equally by all. Climate change disproportionately impacts the most vulnerable and marginalized communities in the Global South, whose education opportunities are also poorer, further compromising their ability to adapt. At the same time, education systems in the Global North and in countries contributing most to global warming are yet to demonstrate how their schools will serve their climate change mitigation efforts.

Agreeing to the actions is one step, monitoring them is crucial to provide accountability and drive ambition. UNESCO has started a process where each country sets their own realistic ‘benchmarks’ in the road to achieving SDG 4. About 90% of countries have heeded this call and established national targets which they reasonably believe can be reached by 2030, in the hopes that this will accelerate progress. We encourage countries to also set national targets for 2025 and 2030 against each of the global initiatives to be tabled at the Summit. These will represent the transformation countries want to see. 

The follow-up mechanism after the Summit, based on national target setting, will be critical to convert leaders’ statements into improved education results for children and youth, as this call for action implores countries to do. The solutions to be agreed at the Summit must be appropriately monitored if we are to come out of this global education emergency. 

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New Social Compact

Our Case for Investment in Education is Our Case for Humanity

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A 14-year-old girl works on a school assignment at home in the Central Java Province of Indonesia. © UNICEF/Jiro Ose

As world leaders gather at this year’s UN General Assembly and work to make good on commitments outlined at the Secretary-General’s Transforming Education Summit, we are calling on all of them to put education – especially for the 222 million crisis-impacted children that are in need of urgent education support – at the top of the international agenda.

Investing in education means investing in humanity. It means investing in a peaceful and prosperous future. It means investing in human rights and our global promise to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, especially our goal of quality education for all (SDG4).  

From a 50,000-foot perspective, investing in education means investing in strong nations and in resilient economies for generations to come.   

As the UN’s global fund for education in emergencies, Education Cannot Wait (ECW) launched our Case for Investment and 2023-2026 Strategic Plan during this year’s General Assembly.

Our case for investment is our case for building peace where there is war, prosperity where there is poverty, and hope where there is despair. Our case for investment is our case for realizing 222 Million Dreams for the children and youth impacted by conflict, climate change, forced displacement and other protracted crises.

From our very human vantage point, this support is ensuring refugee girls like Bchiote and Janat Ara are able to go to school to develop to their full potentials and become productive contributors to their society. ECW works through a holistic, whole-of-child approach. It’s not just about books and classrooms – because all too often education goes beyond learning in crises: education is also lifesaving and life-sustaining. This is why ECW interventions embrace a broad spectrum of support, ranging from providing safe and protective learning spaces to mental health and psycho-social support; from providing school feeding to helping build disaster preparedness in the face of the climate crisis.

Addressing the Education Crisis

Today we have a perfect storm of a global education crisis coinciding with a global funding crisis. The solution is to scale-up funding to education. From there, all else can be achieved. Without education, all else is elusive – whether it is human rights or the sustainable development goals. It all starts with an education.

It’s hard to believe that even today, education in emergencies and protracted crises only accounts for approximately 2% to 4% of global humanitarian funding. And while we have seen a noticeable positive trend in commitments, funding appeals have skyrocketed to more than US$2.9 billion in 2021, compared to US$1.4 billion in 2020. The value of 222 million children and youth enduring conflicts, climate disasters and forced displacement is priceless and never too costly. They are our investment in humanity – theirs and our own.

The world is getting hotter, more crowded, more violent and more inhumane by the minute. By investing in education, we are removing the dark veil of inaction and inequality that has stripped millions of the world’s most vulnerable children and adolescents of their basic human rights.

Most concerning, we seem to be back-sliding on our commitments to ensure quality education for all. When ECW was formed in 2016, approximately 75 million crisis-impacted children were in need of educational support. Recent analysis indicates that number has nearly tripled to 222 million today, including 78 million who are out of school entirely.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only deepened the global learning crisis. In 2020 and 2021, 147 million children missed over half of in-person instruction, and as many as 24 million learners may never return to school, according to the United Nations.

Transformational Approaches

As we grapple with war in Ukraine, the spectre of famine across much of the Sahel, armed conflicts, massive displacement and the truly apocalyptic impacts of the climate crisis, we are faced with tough choices in aligning humanitarian, development and private sector funding.

As a crosscutter that delivers returns far beyond the classroom, education has a tremendous return on investment.

For every dollar spent on education we receive $2.80 in return. And the World Bank estimates that “limited educational opportunities for girls and barriers to completing 12 years of education cost countries between $15 trillion and $30 trillion dollars in lost lifetime productivity and earnings.” 

We must take a transformational approach in our delivery of this support.

One-off responses are no longer enough. Working in silos is no longer viable. Now it is about speed and quality. It is about crisis-sensitive development approaches to education. With US$1.5 billion, ECW can provide 20 million children with holistic education supports. This doesn’t just mean building schools, it means taking a holistic approach and bringing all partners together to providing protection and psychosocial services, gender equality, teacher training, learning materials, school feeding programmes, tests and exams showing advanced learning outcomes, early childhood education and an array of supports that provides whole-of-child solutions to a whole-of-society problem.

Through its leadership of the G7, Germany has stepped up to put education first in its humanitarian spending, with over €300 million in funding to ECW and significant contributions to our partners across the globe.

This support has solidified ECW’s position as a model for UN reform. To date, we have mobilized close US$1.1 billion through our donors, allowing us to reach 7 million children in just five years of operation, and more than 30 million through our COVID-19 responses.

The private sector is joining in. The LEGO Foundation recently announced significant new funding to Education Cannot Wait and other key education initiatives.

Others must stand and be counted. In the 21st Century we stand at a crossroads. We have choices to make.

Do we invest in the young generation or do we ignore their most fundamental right to be educated? Do we invest in the 222 million children and adolescents whose only hope left is that of an education, or do we leave them behind?

The choice we make will determine the future for generations to come. Let us make the right choice. Fund education. Invest in humanity.

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