Nearly 20 years ago, I moved to Vienna. The city, on the fringes of ‘Western Europe’, had suddenly found itself dealing with an influx of refugees from the civil war raging in nearby Yugoslavia. On my arrival in the Austrian capital, I had to go to the local police station to register. I – a white, English, 20 year old on a work visa – was graciously led by the police officer past queues of tired and confused asylum seekers. What shocked me even more was the swastikas daubed on Vienna’s walls, and the fact that Austrians would come up to me – a foreigner – in the street and moan about the Yugoslavs and how they were taking the locals’ jobs.
Fast forward two decades, and, as K Biswas and Rowenna Davis report in this issue, the situation has worsened. What was once the domain of the far reaches of rightwing politics – racism, Islamophobia, homophobia and the obsessive fear and hatred of ‘the other’ – has edged into the mainstream, almost under our noses. By taking advantage of the current economic climate and people’s genuine concerns about their jobs and security, extremist parties have managed to ‘detoxify’ their image and gain popular support across Europe and beyond. So this month’s magazine is a call to ‘retoxify the far right’ and to reclaim the political ground we have lost.
Jean Kayigamba fled his own war-torn home country – Rwanda – a decade ago. His return is an emotional journey of hope and renewal.
And elsewhere this month we tackle a topical question which has divided the environmental movement: is nuclear energy necessary for a carbon- free future?
Jo Lateu for the New Internationalist co-operative.
Environmentalists Chris Goodall and Jose Etcheverry argue for and against - plus your chance to join the debate.
Pro-testing activist Laurie Pycroft and Helen Marston, who heads an organization that campaigns against the use of animals, focus on the key issues. Join the debate!