By Eliza Gray @elizalgray
Right-wing leaders across Europe criticized European Union policies on Tuesday, blaming open borders and a failure to address Islamic fundamentalism for the terrorist attacks in Brussels.
In the U.K., Mike Hookem, Member of the European Parliament and defense spokesman for the UK Independence Party, which is campaigning for Britain to leave the E.U., called for closing down the open borders between countries in the euro zone in a press release. “How many more times will innocent people have to suffer at the hands of these animals before the E.U. realize their policies and their responses to incidents such as this are not working?”
Beatrix von Storch, a co-leader of the Alternative für Deutschland party that made big gains in regional elections in Germany this month, posted with heavy sarcasm on her Facebook timeline: “Greetings from Brussels. We have just left the parliament. Helicopters are circling. The military is deploying. Obviously lots of dead people at the airport and the central station. But everything has nothing to do with anything.”
(Von Storch’s house in Berlin was defaced later with graffiti highlighting her family’s Nazi past: “Beatrix’ grandpappy was Hitler’s finance minister, but everything has nothing to do with anything.”)
From Holland, Geert Wilders, an anti-Muslim politician and founder of the Party for Freedom, who is on trial for inciting hatred against the Dutch Moroccan minority, also advocated shutting the borders, telling Breitbart London: “It is time to act. First of all, we must close our national borders and detain all the jihadists whom we have foolishly allowed to return from Syria. We must also tell people the truth. The cause of all this bloodshed is Islam. We need to de-Islamize the West. That is the only way to safeguard our lives and protect our freedom.”
France’s leader of the far-right party Front National, Marine Le Pen, told reporters in Quebec, where she was traveling, that she blamed Europe for not taking Islamic fundamentalism seriously enough. “I’ve maintained this position in France for months. And I will repeat the same thing everywhere I go,” she said. “I don’t get the sense that Islamic fundamentalism is being treated like the threat it really is. And just like I saw in France in the past, here in Canada, whoever condemns Islamic fundamentalism is accused of Islamophobia.”
In a statement later, she called for France to close its border with Belgium and to “launch a vast police operation” to unearth weapons and explosives that she said may be being hidden across France.
That call was echoed by the Flemish nationalist party Vlaams Belang, which tweeted to Belgium Prime Minister Charles Michel: “Please close the borders. We can not stop #terrorism if they remain open.”
Leaders from Italy’s right-wing Northern League, Gian Marco Centinaio and Massimiliano Fedriga, blamed the E.U. for the attacks in a statement quoted in the Wall Street Journal. “We are astonished and heartbroken for the lives broken by Islamic hate. We aren’t responding, the E.U. institutions are weak, fragile, helpless and are turning the other way, allowing these massacres.”
Fortune’s Geoffrey Smith contributed to this report.