Paris conference brings together speakers from across Europe to rail against the dangers of Islamization.
PARIS, France — Gerard Brazon was uneasy. Something “unhealthy” and “dishonest” was afoot in France. It was Islam, decided the 58-year-old retired economic consultant turned blogger. And he was not alone in his concern.
On Dec. 18, Brazon joined hundreds of like-minded people to hear a procession of speakers from countries such as Switzerland, Austria, Belgium and the United States detail the dangers of Islam in Europe, notably the religion’s fundamental incompatibility with modern Western society, many of them said.
“Increasingly, freedom of religion is overtaking individual freedom,” said Brazon at the close of the first International Conference on the Islamization of Our Countries, lamenting the erosion of secular France.
The conference, held under the gaze of police and private security, was part revival preaching to the converted and part political drive to gather steam ahead of the French presidential campaign season. But for Brazon and others, it was also a “point of departure.” Organizers hailed the event as the birth of “a resistance movement against European Islamization.”
“Maybe you will have been the starting point of something in France and in Europe,” said Oskar Freysinger, the headline speaker, who stoked the crowd’s fervor after making a dramatic entrance surrounded by bodyguards wearing dark sunglasses, low-slung caps and black scarves covering their faces. As he entered, the crowd chanted his name.
Freysinger, a member of the Swiss People’s Party, is best known for his involvement last year in a successful campaign against the construction of minarets in Switzerland, a debate that rages on across Europe. His speech was a mixture of gibes against soft-on-immigration liberals and calls for “revolution.”
“What’s at stake is your mortal soul,” Freysinger told the crowd.
Organizers estimated that more than 1,000 people paid the 10 euro ($13) entrance fee to attend. Freysinger later called the audience “a true microcosm of society,” as he marveled at its diversity: Marxists, feminists, Socialists and members of the UMP, the ruling French right party.
What set the gathering apart was the fact that it brought people together from across borders around a single issue, said a lawyer for an anti-racism organization that had lobbied for the event’s cancellation.
Bernard Schmid, of the Movement Against Racism and for Friendship Between Peoples (MRAP), said far-right political groups that are anti-immigrant or anti-Semitic or anti-Roma have existed previously, citing groups in countries including the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden, but if they joined forces it would be a new phenomenon.
“There is an identification of one common enemy,” Schmid said. “What is new is the common work, not the ideological profile.”
In early January, MRAP plans to file lawsuits accusing some of the event’s speakers of inciting racial hatred. As proof, the organization will submit recordings of the proceedings, which were broadcast live on the internet. During the event, organizers told the crowd that some 50,000 people had watched