Heard in Europe

Folkemødet, Denmark’s annual political festival, brings together politicians, the press, business leaders and advocacy organisations with the public, for four days. This year, it will be invaded by European extremists.

Held on the island of Bornholm, and inspired by a Swedish tradition, the June festival is meant to be an informal gathering, which, apart from panel discussions and workshops with MPs, also includes lots of beer drinking and music.

But this year’s festival looks to be a rather unusual one, after numerous ‘prominent’, European politicians announced their arrival this week.

First up is Geert Wilders, the controversial Dutch rightist, who confirmed that he intends to attend the festival, and give a talk on his two favorite subjects: freedom of speech, and Islam.

Some Danish liberal politicians subsequently said that they will be boycotting the gathering over Wilders’ ‘extremist’ views. Others said they would stay away to protest that Danish police are beefing up security.

Earlier in May, Wilders was invited to an anti-Islam art exhibit in Texas that offered a $10,000 prize for the best drawing of the Prophet Muhammad. Towards the end of the event, two gunmen opened fire outside, injuring a policeman before being shot dead by other officers.

Shortly after, Georgios Epitideios, a member of Greece’s neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, announced his arrival. He had been invited by their Danish counterparts, Danskernes Parti (the Danes’ Party).

One social democratic Danish politician said he would boycott the festival due to the presence of Epitideios. “They are murderers and Nazis,” he said. “I don’t understand why there isn’t a clear opinion that these people are not welcome at the festival. To legitimise them politically is absurd,” he told TV2.

Sixty-nine of the members of Golden Dawn have been imprisoned for the 2013 murder of rapper Pavlos Fyssas. The leaders of the party have denied any wrongdoing, but the investigation of the case has turned up links to a criminal organisation and illegal firearms.

The latest news is that German and French members of the anti-Islam Pegida group will likewise take part in the festivities.

To be continued…

Photo courtesy Robert Hoetink/Shutterstock.com

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