A BBC investigation has found that new far-right groups are recruiting children and teenagers “encouraging [them] to hate” and be “radicalised online”.
BBC News reports that the decline of large far-right groups, such as the English Defence League and the British National Party, has meant off-shoot groups with moreextreme views have formed.
Many of these groups are hoping to grow in numbers by recruiting a “new, younger generation of members,” reporter Hywel Griffith warns.
The BBC follow the South Wales British Movement which has set up a youth wing. Pictures posted by the group online show children on day trips posing with the movement’s banners and Neo-Nazi symbols. The West Yorkshire division of the movement have also created a youth wing, called Young Wolf, writes Griffith.
Some of those leading the movements have a past involving violent, racist behaviour. For example, Richard Harris, the leader of the South Wales British Movement was given a five year sentence in January for violently attacking an Asian man with a glass bottle.
The report also involves a visit to a project in Swansea that is attempting to educate young people thought to be “at-risk of far-right radicalisation.”
Griffith meets Alan Walton, a young man who attended white-pride marches. He explained how he was introduced to extremist ideologies online which later led him into the world of far-right activism, primarily anti-Muslim.
“They’ll talk to you, tell you a few things about their religion and why they shouldn’t be here,” said Alan.
“You just get sucked in so easy when you’re sitting there listening to them, and then, boom – you’re part of it then.”
Griffith speaks to Professor Matthew Feldman from Teesside University, who argues that focusing on hatred towards British Muslims is likely to draw in younger generations whose views of Muslims has been “distorted” by the media for years, BBC News reports.
“They, having grown up in the shadow of 9/11 and 7/7 might be perhaps more inclined to see Muslims, broadly speaking, as the enemy…And I think that really has to be addressed as a matter of some urgency,” says Feldman.
Griffith argues that the Government urgently need to address “the hatred fermenting within a new generation” that far-right groups are taking advantage of. But despite claims to be tackling “all forms of extremism” the Government’s neglect of far right extremism has been evident in its many policy statements about “Islamist extremism” and little mention of other forms of extremism, including the far right.
Young Britons’ increasingly intolerant views towards Muslims have been able to flourish due to the constant negative depictions of British Muslims in the press coupled with the language used by political leaders, giving a sense of legitimacy to the bigotry endorsed by the far-right.
Professor Feldman warns that violent attacks by the far-right are increasingly committed by young people. “It’s about 5-10% really carrying out or perpetrating these attacks that are children and I think that’s very concerning,” says Feldman.
In September last year a senior Home Office adviser, in an interview with Sima Kotecha, argued that the Government are failing to handle the growth of far-right extremism in the UK.
The adviser, much like Professor Feldman, argued that the media’s portrayal of events, such as ISIS’s actions in Iraq and Syria and coverage of the Jay report into Rotherham’s child abuse scandal, is increasing anti-Muslim sentiment and fuelling far-right hostility toward Muslim communities.
The senior advisor warned that the Government has “underestimated” the threat of the far-right in the UK.
With the PM’s focus in his speech today at the Global Security Forum squarely placed on “Islamist extremism,” it would seem the Government’s counter-extremism strategy is “quietly condoning” the steady growth of the far right and its anti-Muslim extremism.