Hope Not Hate: Far-right threat to bounce back in 2021

Report identifies tech-savvy right-wing terrorists as emerging danger

LIVERPOOL, MERSEYSIDE, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 03: Riot Police use the technique called kettling to surround a group of members and supporters of  the far right group Merseyside Frontline Patriots who had come to the city to hold a "Pro Brexit British Independance Rally". The hundreds of anti-facsist protestors who had turned up at Moorfield Railway Station to meet them ensured that the small group was unable to march through the city. The anti-fascist protestors thern marched through the city to Lime Street Station, in Liverpool on November 03, 2018. (Photo credit should read Jim Wood / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
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Islamophobia in Britain is changing as far-right and neo-Nazi groups adapt to a country tackling the coronavirus pandemic, a new study found.

Hope Not Hate said far-right extremists were likely to be resurgent in 2021.

In a post-Brexit Britain, the group said the far right was likely to attract support through the possible split of the UK.

The State of Hate  report also highlights an emerging US group that is recruiting people as young as 14.

“Anti-Muslim sentiment is evolving and transforming in the new social context created by the pandemic," the report said.

"Some social media users used the pandemic to peddle hate.

FILE PHOTO: The statue of 17th century slave trader Edward Colston falls into the water after protesters pulled it down and pushed into the docks, during a protest against racial inequality in the aftermath of the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Bristol, Britain, June 7, 2020. Picture taken June 7, 2020. Keir Gravil via REUTERS       THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. THIS IMAGE WAS PROCESSED BY REUTERS TO ENHANCE QUALITY, AN UNPROCESSED VERSION HAS BEEN PROVIDED SEPARATELY./File Photo
The statue of slave trader Edward Colston was thrown into Bristol Harbour. Reuters

“Analysing posts across Facebook, Twitter and Telegram, as well as content commonly shared across WhatsApp groups, reports show a significant number of users sharing content portraying British Muslims as ‘super-spreaders’ of the virus."

Black Lives Matter protests helped to focus some attention on inequalities in Britain but it was also a rallying call for the far right.

“Existing racial nationalist activists and organisations, already preoccupied with the concept of race, used the Black Lives Matter protests to push their existing political platform to a wider audience,” the report said.

The extremists hoped to spark a culture war with the “slave statues” issue, it said.

In July 2020, there was a significant increase in racist hate crimes, attributed almost entirely to a backlash against the Black Lives Matter movement.

The report agreed with Britain’s MI5 security agency, which warned that violent right-wing terrorism was a major threat facing the country.

“Covid-19 has quickened the demise of many traditional far-right groups while younger, more tech-savvy activists have thrived," the report said.

"Nazi terrorism remains a threat, increasingly involving teens."
It said the US National Partisan Movement, which was founded in November 2020, was a major rising threat, even though it had only about 70 members and its leader was 15 years old.

“It explicitly said it was recruiting and accepting new members between the ages of 14 and 19," the report said.

"Central to the group’s messaging was the rejection of older generations of fascist leaders. The young age of the NPM’s membership is deeply worrying.

"Vulnerable young people are exposed to a diet and environment of constant hatred. Yet the group is not solely made up of teenagers.

“The NPM is but the latest example of an internationally connected, violence-romanticising, far-right group led by young people, organising action online and off.”

The report also called on the UK’s major political parties, Conservative and Labour, to tackle Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in their ranks.