Terrorism and Challenges Related To It

What is Antifa Movement?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Antifa

Mains level : Racial antagonism across the world

As massive protests following the death of a person in racial discrimination continued to rock the US, President Donald Trump has announced that the alleged far-left group Antifa would be designated as a terrorist organisation by his government.

One can expect a similar prelims question:

Q. The Antifa movement recently seen in news is an: Free trade movement/Anti-terror movement etc.

Why the US seeks to ban Antifa?

  • Trump has blamed for the protests that have convulsed cities across the US,
  • Antifa is considered the loosely affiliated group of far-left anti-fascist activists.

Antifa: The group

  • Antifa is an acronym for ‘Anti-Fascist’. It is not an organisation with a leader nor does it have a defined structure or membership roles.
  • Antifa has been around for several decades, though accounts vary on its exact beginnings.
  • The term dates the term as far back as Nazi Germany, describing the etymology of ‘Antifa’ as “borrowed from German Antifa, short for antifaschistische ‘anti-fascist’.
  • Rather, Antifa is more of a movement of activists whose followers share a philosophy and tactics.
  • They have made their presence known at protests, including the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.

Its members

  • It is impossible to know how many people count themselves as members.
  • Its followers acknowledge that the movement is secretive, has no official leaders and is organised into autonomous local cells.
  • It is also only one in a constellation of activist movements that have come together in the past few years to oppose the far right.
  • Antifa members campaign against actions they view as authoritarian, homophobic, racist or xenophobic.

Activism over years

  • Antifa members typically dress in black and often wear a mask at their demonstrations, and follow far-left ideologies such as anti-capitalism.
  • The movement has been known to have a presence in the US in the 1980s.
  • It shot into prominence following the election of President Trump in 2016, with violence marking some of its protests and demonstrations.
  • Criticizing mainstream liberal politicians for not doing enough, Antifa members have often physically confronted their conservative opponents on the streets.
  • The group also participates in non-violent protests. Apart from public counter-protests, Antifa members run websites that track white extremist and ultra-right groups.

Criticisms

  • The movement has been widely criticised among the mainstream left and right.
  • Conservative publications and politicians routinely rail against supporters of Antifa, who they say are seeking to shut down peaceful expression of conservative views.
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