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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Not only Pakistan schools teach Hindu hatred… Muslims teach hatred to their wards as a religious obligation.


Students study in their classroom in Abbottabad, Pakistan. — Photo by AP.

‘Pakistan schools teach Hindu hatred’

ISLAMABAD || 9th Nov 2011 || Dawn News: Text books in Pakistani schools foster prejudice and intolerance of Hindus and other religious minorities, while most teachers view non-Muslims as ”enemies of Islam,” according to a study by a US government commission released on Wednesday.



The findings indicate how deeply ingrained hard-line Islam is in Pakistan and help explain why militancy is often supported, tolerated or excused in the country.
”Teaching discrimination increases the likelihood that violent religious extremism in Pakistan will continue to grow, weakening religious freedom, national and regional stability, and global security,” said Leonard Leo, the chairman of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.
Pakistan was created in 1947 as a homeland for the Muslims of South Asia and was initially envisaged as a moderate state where minorities would have full rights.
But three wars with mostly Hindu India; support for militants fighting Soviet-rule in Afghanistan in the 1980s; and the appeasement of hard-line clerics by weak governments seeking legitimacy have led to a steady radicalisation of society.
Religious minorities and those brave enough to speak out against intolerance have often been killed, seemingly with impunity, by militant sympathizers.
The commission warned that any significant efforts to combat religious discrimination, especially in education, would ”likely face strong opposition” from hardliners.
The study reviewed more than 100 textbooks from grades 1-10 from Pakistan’s four provinces.
Researchers in February this year visited 37 public schools, interviewing 277 students and teachers, and 19 madrases, where they interviewed 226 students and teachers.
The Islamisation of textbooks began under the US-backed rule of army dictator Gen. Zia-ul-Haq, who courted Islamists to support his rule.
In 2006, the government announced plans to reform the curriculum to address the problematic content, but that has not been done, the study said.
Pakistan’s Islamist and right-wing polity would likely oppose any efforts to change the curriculum, and the government has shown no desire to challenge them on the issue.
The report found systematic negative portrayals of minorities, especially Hindus and to a lesser extent to Christians.
Hindus make up more than one per cent of Pakistan’s 180 million people, while Christians represent around two per cent. Some estimates put the numbers higher.
There are also even smaller populations of Sikhs and Buddhists.
”Religious minorities are often portrayed as inferior or second-class citizens who have been granted limited rights and privileges by generous Pakistani Muslims, for which they should be grateful,” the report said.
”Hindus are repeatedly described as extremists and eternal enemies of Islam whose culture and society is based on injustice and cruelty, while Islam delivers a message of peace and brotherhood, concepts portrayed as alien to the Hindu.”
The books don’t contain many specific references to Christians, but those that ”that do exist seem generally negative, painting an incomplete picture of the largest religious minority in Pakistan,” the report said.
Attempts to reach Pakistan’s education minister were not successful.
The textbooks make very little reference to the role played by Hindus, Sikhs and Christians in the cultural, military and civic life of Pakistan, meaning ”a young minority student will thus not find many examples of educated religious minorities in their own textbooks,” the report said.
”In most cases historic revisionism seems designed to exonerate or glorify Islamic civilisation, or to denigrate the civilisations of religious minorities,” the report said.
”Basic changes to the texts would be needed to present a history free of false or unsubstantiated claims which convey religious bias.”
The researchers also found that the books foster a sense that Pakistan’s Islamic identity is under constant threat.
”The anti-Islamic forces are always trying to finish the Islamic domination of the world,” read one passage from social studies text being taught to Grade 4 students in Punjab province, the country’s most populated.
”This can cause danger for the very existence of Islam. Today, the defense of Pakistan and Islam is very much in need.”
The report states that Islamic teachings and references were commonplace in compulsory text books, not just religious ones, meaning Pakistan’s Christians, Hindus and other minorities were being taught Islamic content.
It said this appeared to violate Pakistan’s constitution, which states that students should not have to receive instruction in a religion other than their own.
The attitudes of the teachers no doubt reflect the general intolerance in Pakistan.
The 2011 Pew Research Center study found the country is the third most intolerant in the world, but because of the influence they have, they are especially worrisome.
Their views were frequently nuanced and sometimes contradictory.
Some Comments published in Dawn :
It is not recent. 45 years back, we had a chapter in our Urdu class about Mehmood Ghaznavi.This curriculam was nationwide. He was portrayed as a great hero for destroying the Somnath Mandir. Even at the age of 10, I thought that was a horrible act. We had a Hindu class fellow and the poor kid had to learn that chapter and memorize for the test.
”Basic changes to the texts would be needed to present a history free of false or unsubstantiated claims which convey religious bias.”
History is never free of bias. It belongs to the one in power. The world history would have been totally different if the WW-II’s results were the opposite. Nonetheless, I am personally against bias of any kind, be it religious, racial or gender. And I, as an educationist, vehemently agree that the syllabus here needs a change. But change not in terms of the content they are taught, but change in the whole teaching strategy. We need to make our young minds more research oriented so they can acknowledge and tolerate other worldviews. When they know more about their roots and beliefs through their own research, they are less likely to feel threatened by opposite viewpoints. This creates a culture of tolerance. And what is more, it’s not the Pakistani textbooks alone that require revision. [Courtesy : Dawn & AP].
Hindu Existence Says : It is not only a fact in Pakistan. All the Madrasshas, Mosques, Muslim Clerics teach the hatred against Kaffirs (filthy non-Muslims) in India and everywhere. Actually Islam is not a Religion of  Peace, but a Religion of Breaking Peace through hatred, murder, rape, loot, treason, division etc in the name of Religion. It is clear from the History of Islam in its 1432 years of Jihad against Kaffirs. Not only Pakistan schools teach Hindu hatred… Muslims teach hatred to their children as a religious obligation.

Conversion of Pakistani Hindus condemned

Islamabad: The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has condemned the alleged forced conversion of a young Pakistani Hindu woman to Islam, stating such a "malicious campaign is in full swing" in the country.

The woman named Anita, wife of Suresh Kumar and a mother of two children, was allegedly kidnapped April 27 from her house in Moro in Sindh province.

Her husband was not at home and the two children, a boy of four years and a girl of 22 months were beaten up and locked inside the house. The police later said Anita must have run away on her own as her character "would be like that", said a statement from the AHRC.

The statement said the abductor's lawyer produced a Muslim marriage certificate in a court, and the latter announced that she had embraced Islam by marrying a Muslim man.

Forced conversion of Hindu women to Islam in Sindh province has become very common, it said.

"The malicious campaign is in full swing by the religious seminaries, and their modus operandi is to use students of the seminaries to abduct young women and rape them in captivity. And when it is identified that the girl has been abducted, they announce that the victim is married and has embraced Islam."

"If her embracement to Islam through abduction and rape was recognised by the courts and courts were happy to see her as converting to Islam, then why have the courts not seen the fundamental requirements of Islam? May be laws are different for different occasions or may be Hindus are not treated as citizens of Pakistan," it said.

"The way in which the case of Anita was treated in the High and Supreme Court was no more different from the ordinary jirga or panchayat, where the elders of tribes sit down and decide the case on the basis of personal liking or disliking."

The AHRC, based in Hong Kong, was founded in 1986. It is an independent, non-governmental body, which seeks to promote awareness of human rights in Asia.

Brutality victims start petition against cops

Najib: Malaysia does not stifle dissent

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 13 ― Datuk Seri Najib Razak said Malaysia is now a fully mature democracy as the ruling government allows dissent, the national news agency reported today.

According to Bernama Online, the prime minister said this after his speech on the “Global Movement of the Moderates” in Hawaii where he is attending the Asia Pacific Economic Caucus (APEC) Summit.

He (picture) dismissed the idea the voices of dissent back home signaled widespread public unhappiness with his government similar to that which caused the “Arab Spring” earlier this year.

The Najib administration came under heavy global criticism for clamping down on dissent last July 9 following the Bersih 2.0 street march in its capital city where police shot chemical-laced water and tear gas among thousands of civilians demanding cleaner elections.

Despite banning the civil society movement, Najib gave in to public pressure and established a bipartisan parliamentary team to review its electoral system. The inquiry kicked off last Friday and is ongoing.

The PM also announced the inaugural launch of an International Conference on the “Global Movement of the Moderates” here from January 17 to 19 next year.

Najib had mooted the idea at the United Nations General Assembly in Geneva last year.

He called on moderates to speak out and counter the rise of religion extremism.

Najib is expected to call for general elections in the next six months. He will be seeking his first mandate since taking over office from Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who stepped down in April 2009.

‘It’s not your father’s money’

The Auditor-General's Report 2010 is not about politics or the opposition, it is simply about the 'mismanagement of our money'.

The 2010 Auditor General’s Report is a voluminous document with horrifying mentions of repeated trangresions by the authorities.
It offered more or less the same findings contained in reports of preceding years , which is bizzarre overpricing, negligence, incompetency and officious arrogance.
If you are perplexed as to why the opposition should bicker about the report then we shall have to explain to you in as simple terms as possible.
This is not about politics or the opposition. This is beyond the opposition. This is about the mismanagement of our money.
And mismanagement of our money deserves to be treated as a cause of concern. We are talking about possible fraud and deception.
The short answer to the question then as to why the opposition are irked by the AG’s Report as are all right thinking Malaysians is that the money being treated isn’t the property of the transgressors.
BN government’s deception
That being so, the administration of the money and the application of the funds thereof, must be done with utmost care.
It’s not your father’s money. That is the short answer.
The long answer is, Malaysians are fed up with the deception and misappropriation of funds.
For the year 2010, the government approved a budget of RM149 billion for operating expenditure (opex).
This wasn’t enough and the government had to increase the opex to RM151 billion.
The report noted that nine ministries had overspent. Here is where all of us should be concerned. This is taxpayers money being spent on opex.
The two billion could have been spent on capital expenditure (capex) which builds capacity to create more wealth.
Now, Malaysians are equally outraged by the revelations of the 2010 Auditor-General Reports on the continuing financial scandals, hanky-panky and gross financial negligence in government.
Bizzarre overpricing
We are horrified to learn for example that the National Sports Institute acquired 23 horses totalling RM5.66 million without a Financial Ministry go-ahead.
None of these horses competed in two recommended international championships.
Then we have the case of the RM142 million RazakSAT satellite malfunctioning barely a year after being commissioned.
Wait, we have more disclosures in the AG Report 2010.
The Malaysian Marine Parks Department spent a whopping RM56,350 for a pair of night vision Marine binoculars. They paid 29 times more than the binocular’s market value of RM1,940 a pair.
They also paid the same amount for another pair of night vision Bushnell binoculars, or 1,893% more than its actual price of RM2,827.
We are once again appalled at the incompetence of front line workers incapable of appreciating the importance of proper placement of decimal points and making accounting mistakes that have resulted in wasteful overspending.
These should not have happened if there are efficient and proper internal audit systems.
As the result of a laid back attitude, we are told of stories where a pensioner received RM21,433 a month instead of RM214.33 for 16 months! The mistake was detected after more than a year.
The officer who finally detected the mistake should be a given a merit order.
We are also dismayed of hearing Giatmara Centre mistakenly paying RM170 per kg instead of RM1.70 per kg for sugar for a poverty eradication programme or RM25, 500 for 150 kg of sugar!
This must be a special kind of sugar.
Repeated irregularities
What about the ‘village-fool’ remark that the Chief Secretary to the Government Sidek Hassan made in response to the AG’s Report?
Sidek’s remark is simply saying he is not worried and that the problem has been dealt with.
Him saying he has sent circulars asking officials to exercise more discipline is in itself a negligent expression and an act of gross callousness.
I am afraid, the public isn’t that forgiving.
Sidek’s call to all departments and agencies to take heed of the AG’s comments and views is is annual repeated reaction.
Which goes to show, that what I said about the same mistakes being repeated did take place, otherwise, Sidek wouldn’t have to repeat his annual reaction would he?
No wonder then, there was this need to delay the submission of the 2010 Auditor-General’s Report to ensure that it would not completely overshadow Najib’s 2012 Budget.
Otherwise, the Finance Minister’s charitable overtures would be overshadowed and overwhelmed by the over 1,300 pages of exposes of financial irregularities, hanky-panky as well as misappropriation of public funds in the first full year of PM Najib Tun Razak’s premiership.
The writer is a former Umno state assemblyman and a FMT columnist. This is an excerpt from his blog sakmongkolak47.

SAMM sedia lancar perhimpunan Bersih ketiga

"Tarikhnya sudah dipilih dan akan diumumkan dalam masa terdekat," kata Badrul Hisham yang lebih dikenali sebagai Chegu Bard.


PETALING JAYA: Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia (SAMM) membayangkan perhimpunan Bersih 3.0 akan diadakan kerana mendakwa kerajaan tidak membuat apa-apa bagi menambak baik perjalanan pilihan raya.
Bersih 3.0 bertujuan untuk memberi kata dua kepada Perdana Menteri sama ada melakukan perubahan sistem pilihanraya terlebih
dahulu sebelum PRU13 atau berdepan dengan satu lagi perhimpunan protes rakyat terbesar.
Bersih 3.0 akan turut memantau perjalanan PSC supaya ia tidak dilengah-lengahkan dengan sengaja di atas muslihat tertentu.
Pengerusi SAMM, Badrul Hisham Shaharim berkata, “Bersih 3.0 sedia dilancarkan bila-bila masa dari sekarang.”
“Setakat ini, kerajaan melalui agensi SPR dilihat masih tidak membuat apa-apa pendekatan awal untuk baik-pulih sistem pilihanraya terutamanya dalam aspek tuntutan yang tidak memerlukan perubahan akta seperti penggunaan dakwat kekal.

Tekan BN
“Justeru itu, Bersih 3.0 sedia dilancarkan bila-bila masa dari sekarang demi memastikan BN benar-benar menunaikan janjinya terlebih dahulu sebelum membubarkan parlimen.
“Tarikhnya sudah dipilih dan akan diumumkan dalam masa terdekat,” kata Badrul Hisham  yang lebih dikenali sebagai Chegu Bard.
Beliau menambah, timbul pelbagai spekulasi negatif terhadap SPR dan JPN dalam isu kewarganegaraan segera untuk membenarkan warga asing mengundi dan juga spekulasi memanjangkan penggunaan undi pos kepada anggota Rela  dan penjawat awam selain polis dan tentera.
Katanya, Ini sama sekali bukan satu usaha baik-pulih sistem pilihanraya tetapi melacur sistem pilihan raya demi untuk terus berkuasa.

All eyes on the Malay votes


Of the 222 parliamentary seats, only 46 are Chinese majority. So winning the hearts and minds of Malay voters has become the focus of the competing Malay-based parties.
As for Anwar, on the one hand, he is telling his Chinese audience that hudud laws are not part of Pakatan’s policy. On the other, he is telling the Malay audience that he backs the implementation of hudud laws, putting the DAP in a spot as PAS has said it couldn’t care less if the DAP agrees or not.
By Wong Chun Wai, The Star 
WHEN Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that the government had decided to scrap the PPSMI (teaching of Maths and Science in English policy) in primary schools, there was loud outrage from the urbanites.
This unhappiness has continued with most urban voters refusing to accept the reasons given by the Education Minister, believing instead that politics is the reason behind the decision.
There were subtle threats of punishing the Barisan Nasional government in the polls but PAS and PKR, both Malay-based parties, also quickly stated their stand against continuing the policy.
A Malay non-governmental organisation, Jaringan Melayu Malaysia (JMM), had revealed that its survey of 27,200 parents, mostly Malays, found 55% wanted the PPSMI to be retained compared to only 13% who didn’t. Of these respondents, 15,000 were rural parents. But Malay groups, and certainly Malay-based parties, had found their own surveys telling them the opposite.
With a general election looming, winning the hearts and minds of the predominantly Malay voters has become the focus of the competing Malay-based parties.
The fact is that of the 222 parliamentary seats, only 46 are Chinese majority and there is not even a single constituency with an Indian majority.
The three main parties, Umno, PAS and PKR, have all stepped up their posturing as defenders of the Malay/Muslim votes, well aware that while they need the support of the other communities, they cannot ignore the sentiments of the Malay voters.
So when DAP publicity chief Tony Pua said that if Pakatan Rakyat formed the next federal government, it would trim down the civil service – majority of whom are Malays – his allies had to scramble to do damage control.
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and senior PAS leaders had to quickly douse the fire, denying that there was such a plan.
The opposition leaders have been on tenterhooks since the fiasco by PAS deputy president Mohamed Sabu, who allegedly described communist guerrillas involved in the 1950s Bukit Kepong incident as freedom fighters.
With many Malay families having at least one relative in the police, army or other uniformed unit, Mat Sabu’s remarks cost the Pakatan Rakyat a huge chunk of votes. Since then, the usually fiery speaker has remained quiet, and PAS is hoping that the anger against him will soon die out.
The Islamist party has also abandoned its attempt to project a more liberal image and has gone back to talking about hudud laws and the Islamic state and banning concerts to retain its core supporters.
As for Anwar, on the one hand, he is telling his Chinese audience that hudud laws are not part of Pakatan’s policy. On the other, he is telling the Malay audience that he backs the implementation of hudud laws, putting the DAP in a spot as PAS has said it couldn’t care less if the DAP agrees or not.
The DAP seems to be helpless over the issue with its leaders saying they have “agreed to disagree” over the implementation of hudud laws. PAS claims it would not affect non-Malays but this is a fallacy because it will extend beyond family and religious laws.
In criminal matters, when a case involves a Muslim and a non-Muslim, if hudud is chosen, it will clearly put the latter in a spot. One example is sex offences where four witnesses are required.
Only DAP lawyer Karpal Singh seems to acknowledge the difficult path ahead.
The fight over Malay votes has continued with DAP’s Lim Guan Eng coming out to say that if Pakatan wins, Anwar will be the prime minister. It is a move to allay fear among non-Muslim voters as PAS is eyeing the post.
There has been muted response from PAS as it is an open secret that its president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang wants to be PM.
Lim has insisted that Anwar would be PM “even if he is in jail (if convicted for sodomy charges)”, but the point is, if Anwar is going to be PM, then he wouldn’t be in jail.
Most non-Muslims wouldn’t blink over the Seksualiti Merdeka issue as they are aware that the event is not a gay orgy as claimed by some media.
Many of us find the hysterical reaction to be lacking compassion and even ridiculous, but this is the silly season. It was a case of wrong timing and political naivete on the part of the organisers. After all, the event has been held for the past two years without any controversy.
But human rights lawyer Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, who was invited to open the forum, is seen as an opposition figure, and with Anwar’s sodomy trial coming to a conclusion soon, the timing could not have been worse.
Well aware of the Muslim psyche and sentiments, PAS swiftly joined in to criticise the gay rights event.
The much-touted 11.11.11 date, which many thought would see the dissolution of Parliament, is over and with Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak himself saying that polls would not be held this year, the run-up campaign looks set to be a draggy affair.
Even now, the posturing, rhetoric, accusations and lies are becoming tiresome, and the polls could still be very far away, possibly in mid-2012.

Proham cadang parlimen lantik pengerusi SPR

Persatuan Promosi Hak Asasi Manusia (Proham) mencadangkan supaya pentadbir Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya (SPR) - termasuk pengerusi dan timbalan pengerusinya - dilantik oleh jawatankuasa parlimen.

micheal chong and ramon navaratnam suhakam at pscAhli jawatankuasa Proham, Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam (kanan) berkata langkah itu perlu bagi membolehkan SPR dilihat lebih bebas dan berintegriti.

Malang sekali SPR kini dilihat "terlalu pro-kerajaan dan tidak cukup independen," katanya ketika bercakap sebagai saksi dalam sesi pendengaran awam Jawatankuasa Pilihan Parlimen (PSC) mengenai pembaharuan pilihan raya hari ini.

Keadaan itu, katanya, berlaku kerana pengerusi dan timbalan pengerusi SPR dipilih dari kalangan penjawat awam yang telah lama berkhidmat.

Secara intrinsik, para penjawat awam ini tidak akan "mematuk tangan yang memberi," jelasnya lagi dalam sesi berkenaan hari ini.

Two key demands presented to panel

The New Straits Times

By RAHMAH GHAZALI

REFORMS Automatic registration of voters, extension of voting rights to overseas Malaysians

Two key issues have dominated the first day of the parliamentary select committee on electoral reforms, namely the automatic registration system and extending the voting rights to Malaysians living abroad.

Speaking at a press conference after the hearing ended, PSC chairman Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili said these were "real things and practical" ideas into which the committee needed to look.

"Quality ideas were presented to the committee, and we took time to discuss them," said Ongkili, who is also the  minister for science, innovation and technology.

However, he said that those who presented their proposals to improve the electoral system needed to be prompted in elaborating them.

"There were some who were emotional (while presenting their ideas) as they were  passionate in their beliefs but we had to prompt a few of them for their ideas."

Ongkili was referring  to Annie Ooi Siew Lan, who presented her ideas   earlier.

Ooi had urged the committee to facilitate voting for all Malaysians, including those overseas, hospitalised or on duty. She, however, had no  solutions when prompted.

"I am not giving you the solution, you have to work on it."

Ongkili said 12 individuals and organisations presented their proposals at yesterday's hearing and seven more are expected to share their ideas  today at Parliament.

They were Selangor Youth Council, MCA, Transparency International (Malaysia), Society for the Blind in Malaysia, Association of Former Police Personnel, Selangor MIC Putera, K.J. John, Human Rights Party, Michael Soosay, Putera MIC II (International Bureau) and Youth Malaysian Movement.

Another five more public hearings will be held nationwide. The second public hearing is on Nov 25 and Nov 26 at Kompleks Pentadbiran Persekutuan Sabah in Kota Kinabalu.

Subramaniam In Stable Condition After Brain Surgery

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 13 (Bernama) -- Former MIC deputy president Datuk S. Subramaniam is reported to be in stable condition after undergoing five hours of brain surgery which lasted until 2am Sunday.

R. Balakrishnan, his former secretary and close friend, said the doctors managed to stop the bleeding in his brain and draw out blood from his thrombus.

"Overall, his blood pressure, heart and pulse are stable," he told Bernama when contacted here today.

The veteran politician had warded himself at the Assunta Hospital in Petaling Jaya on Friday night after encountering health problems and was transferred to the Pantai Medical Centre here yesterday morning.

Balakrishnan also said that Subramaniam was taken straight to the intensive care unit (ICU) and that he still remained unconscious after the surgery.

"We are still waiting for his recovery," he said.

Subramaniam is a former member of parliament for Segamat (1990 to 2004) and a former deputy minister.

Europe's next nightmare

The political consequences of the Eurozone crisis include increasing xenophobia and nationalism among politicians.
Europe's economic crisis has helped far-right politicians, such as Geert Wilders, gain support [GALLO/GETTY]
As if the economic ramifications of a full-blown Greek default were not terrifying enough, the political consequences could be far worse. A chaotic eurozone breakup would cause irreparable damage to the European integration project, the central pillar of Europe's political stability since World War II. It would destabilise not only the highly indebted European periphery, but also core countries such as France and Germany, which have been the architects of the project.

The nightmare scenario would also be a 1930s-style victory for political extremism. Fascism, Nazism, and communism were children of a backlash against globalisation that had been building since the end of the nineteenth century, feeding on the anxieties of groups that felt disenfranchised and threatened by expanding market forces and cosmopolitan elites.

Free trade and the gold standard had required downplaying domestic priorities such as social reform, nation-building and cultural reassertion. Economic crisis and the failure of international cooperation undermined not only globalisation, but also the elites that upheld the existing order.
As my Harvard colleague Jeff Frieden has written, this paved the path for two distinct forms of extremism. Faced with the choice between equity and economic integration, communists chose radical social reform and economic self-sufficiency. Faced with the choice between national assertion and globalism, fascists, Nazis, and nationalists chose nation-building.
Fortunately, fascism, communism and other forms of dictatorships are passé today. But similar tensions between economic integration and local politics have long been simmering. Europe's single market has taken shape much faster than Europe's political community has; economic integration has leaped ahead of political integration.
End of the EU?
The result is that mounting concerns about the erosion of economic security, social stability and cultural identity could not be handled through mainstream political channels. National political structures became too constrained to offer effective remedies, while European institutions still remain too weak to command allegiance.
It is the extreme right that has benefited most from the centrists' failure. In Finland, the heretofore unknown True Finn party capitalised on the resentment around eurozone bailouts to finish a close third in April's general election. In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders' Party for Freedom wields enough power to play kingmaker; without its support, the minority liberal government would collapse. In France, the National Front, which finished second in the 2002 presidential election, has been revitalised under Marine Le Pen.
"When I am president, in a few months' time, the eurozone probably won't exist."
- Marine Le Pen
Nor is the backlash confined to eurozone members. Elsewhere in Scandinavia, the Sweden Democrats, a party with neo-Nazi roots, entered parliament last year with nearly six per cent of the popular vote. In Britain, one recent poll indicated that as many as two-thirds of Conservatives want Britain to leave the European Union.

Political movements of the extreme right have traditionally fed on anti-immigration sentiment. But the Greek, Irish, Portuguese and other bailouts, together with the euro's troubles, have given them fresh ammunition. Their Euro-scepticism certainly appears to be vindicated by events. When Marine Le Pen was recently asked if she would unilaterally withdraw from the euro, she replied confidently: "When I am president, in a few months' time, the eurozone probably won't exist."
As in the 1930s, the failure of international cooperation has compounded centrist politicians' inability to respond adequately to their domestic constituents' economic, social and cultural demands. The European project and the eurozone have set the terms of debate to such an extent that, with the eurozone in tatters, these elites' legitimacy will receive an even more serious blow.
'Less bad' options

Europe's centrist politicians have committed themselves to a strategy of "more Europe" that is too rapid to ease local anxieties, yet not rapid enough to create a real Europe-wide political community. They have stuck for far too long to an intermediate path that is unstable and beset by tensions. By holding on to a vision of Europe that has proven unviable, Europe's centrist elites are endangering the idea of a unified Europe itself.

Economically, the least bad option is to ensure that the inevitable defaults and departures from the eurozone are carried out in as orderly and coordinated a fashion as possible. Politically, too, a similar reality check is needed. What the current crisis demands is an explicit reorientation away from external financial obligations and austerity to domestic preoccupations and aspirations. Just as healthy domestic economies are the best guarantor of an open world economy, healthy domestic polities are the best guarantor of a stable international order.

The challenge is to develop a new political narrative emphasising national interests and values without overtones of nativism and xenophobia. If centrist elites do not prove themselves up to the task, those of the far right will gladly fill the vacuum, minus the moderation.

That is why outgoing Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou had the right idea with his aborted call for a referendum. That move was a belated attempt to recognise the primacy of domestic politics, even if investors viewed it, in the words of a Financial Times editor, as "playing with fire". Scrapping the referendum simply postpones the day of reckoning and raises the ultimate costs to be paid by Greece's new leadership.

Today, the question is no longer whether politics will become more populist and less internationalist; it is whether the consequences of that shift can be managed without turning ugly. In Europe's politics, as in its economics, it seems there are no good options - only less bad ones.

Dani Rodrik, Professor of International Political Economy at Harvard University, is the author of The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.
A version of this article was first published on Project Syndicate.
Source:
Al Jazeera