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“Alt-Right” Ship Detained In Mediterranean For Apparent Human Trafficking

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“Alt-Right” Ship Detained In Mediterranean For Apparent Human Trafficking


Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

Defend Europe, an anti-immigrant group that attempts to disrupt humanitarian search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean Sea, recently chartered a boat that was stopped in a Cyprus port, where several members were arrested for forging documents and engaging in potential human trafficking. Since then, pro-Trump media trolls associated with the campaign have been conspicuously silent.

The members were stopped in and deported from a sea port in the self-declared Turkish state of Northern Cyprus Thursday after spending two days in detention for document forgery and potential human trafficking of 20 Sri Lankan nationals who were aboard the C-Star, the campaign’s ship. Turkish Cypriot authorities deported nine crew members, including the ship’s captain and a German “second captain” believed to be neo-Nazi Alexander Schleyer. The authorities also transferred the director of the company that owns the ship, Sven Tomas Egerstrom, to Greek-controlled Cyprus for further questioning.

Refugee Rights Association advocate Faika Pasha told The Associated Press that some of the Sri Lankans on board reported having paid a trafficker to be taken to Italy and confirmed that five Sri Lankans remained in Cyprus to claim asylum. (Defend Europe claims the Sri Lankans were actually bribed by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to claim they were seeking asylum.)

Defend Europe is a campaign by anti-immigrant, “alt-right” activists to disrupt humanitarian search and rescue missions of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea. The effort is the brainchild of Generation Identity, a pan-European “Identitarian” movement known for its members’ high-profile political stunts.

Since the arrest and deportation of the C-Star’s crew members, Defend Europe has been doing some damage control on Twitter, claiming the ship was “released” and that “lies and #fakenews from NGOs have been exposed once again.” The next day, the account pinned an image of the group’s alleged goals on its feed, one of which was to “save migrants in danger of drowning and making sure they get to the nearest non-European safe port.”

However, Generation Identity’s Austrian co-founder, Martin Sellner, has repeatedly claimed that Defend Europe’s goal is to take migrants from North Africa back to Libya — a violation of the non-refoulement principle of the United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention against sending refugees back to their county if they would be in harm’s way. In June, Sellner said, “We want to face those human trafficking ships on the sea. We want to disrupt their doings. And, of course, if you meet an account of people in distress on the sea, save them but bring them back to where they started from.” He reiterated his stance a month later, saying that Defend Europe will “do everything in our power to make sure that they go back to Africa, where they belong.”

Since the detainment of Defend Europe members and their subsequent expulsion from Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus, the movement’s right-wing media allies and pro-Trump trolls have been noticeably mum. As of this piece’s publication, Brittany Pettibone, who has actively been reporting in support of Defend Europe from Catania, Sicily, had tweeted only twice on the subject since the incident, both times promoting Defend Europe’s conspiratorial narrative that NGOs are propagating fake news and “hiding something” about their alleged collusion with international human trafficking rings.

Even more notably, Lauren Southern, a Canadian media troll who made a name for herself denying the existence of rape culture and demonizing minorities and who has been actively involved in the Defend Europe campaign, has not tweeted a single time about the recent incident (though she has retweeted in support of Defend Europe). Online payment service Patreon recently suspended Southern’s account for violating the crowdfunding platform’s terms by soliciting donations for the Defend Europe campaign; Southern has since resorted to using PayPal. PayPal previously froze Defend Europe’s account, saying in a statement, “Our policy is to prevent our services being used by companies whose activities promote hatred, violence or racial intolerance.”

Peter Sweden, a previously vocal Holocaust denier who reversed himself in mid-July, has been similarly silent on the recent controversy surrounding Defend Europe. Sweden has bragged about disrupting search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean and has also been interviewed by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, taking the opportunity to fearmonger about crime in Sweden.

Katie Hopkins, a columnist for British news site MailOnline who regularly appears on Fox News to voice her Islamophobic, anti-immigrant views, has also been silent on Twitter about the C-Star’s deportation from Cyprus. Hopkins recently tweeted a photo of herself with Sweden, which she later deleted. Her involvement with the Defend Europe campaign has been documented by the anti-extremism research and education group HOPE Not Hate.

Tara McCarthy, who hosts a YouTube show alongside Pettibone and who has said, in a since-deleted tweet, that she hopes “zero” migrants crossing the sea to Europe “make it alive,” has also not commented on the C-Star’s seizure.

According to HOPE Not Hate, pro-Trump propaganda outlet Breitbart, white nationalist site AltRight.com, racial nationalist organization American Renaissance, Nazi website The Daily Stormer, and former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke have also voiced support for Defend Europe’s mission. As of noon on July 28, none of these outlets or individuals had responded to the latest developments.

The silence of these pro-Trump trolls exposes their opportunism and cowardice. They engage in high-profilestunts to profit and promote themselves and then back away when the going gets tough, as prominent troll Mike Cernovich did when he attempted to deny involvement in the “Pizzagate” conspiracy. The pro-Trump trolls subscribed to the Defend Europe campaign for donations and foreign Twitter followers, but now they’re stuck in a sordid relationship with a movement that is endangering innocent lives and potentially violating international law. It remains to be seen how they will meme their way out of this one.

Header image by Sarah Wasko / Media Matters


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  1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth July 30, 2017

    Well, well. The good ship “Alt-Right” was caught on the high seas, and its degenerate crew was caught on board with their draws down,intent on defending a patch of earth called Europe, from other members of the human family.

    This pack of sewer rats, “Defend Europe”, highlights a form of madness brought on by racialist/nationalist sentiments, and serves to highlight once again the total abandonment of religious principles by these pathetic creatures called “The Alt-Right”.
    Instead of aspiring to lofty behavior, the Alt-Right would rather be debased and sink to the lowest abyss.

    So spiritually depraved is this band of racists that their hollowed out brains could only come up with the lame excuse that the goods in their possession which describe their nefarious intentions was “Fake News”.

    This tiresome and hackneyed phrase has worn out its welcome and is used by lunatics obsessed with being satanic in nature. Just a bunch of cartoonish creatures, infatuated with their skin color, and having been descended from “Africans” who migrated into a land mass now called “Europe”, some 40,000 years ago.

    1. Wayne Crawford July 31, 2017

      And this screed is an example of why God Emperor Trump won the election. Praise be to Kek.

      1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth July 31, 2017

        Trump is no God, he’s a wannabe emperor who plays the part quite well, and he won with a lot of help of ignorant Americans who no longer know how to think objectively. Winning an election, with a lot of outside help, while increasing the level of hate and vitriolic rhetoric isn’t a victory.
        It’s a clear sign of the distortion of human nature, and America is very distorted indeed. Are you in that category as well?

        By the way, I’m unfamiliar with your pagan god called “Kek”.

        And one other thing, Wayne—Take a shower, learn some manners, find yourself some female companionship, educate yourself, and get an enema—take the shower after the enema, please.

        1. Wayne Crawford July 31, 2017

          Typical, the only hate is the hate you exhibit.

          Oh, and I shower regularly (unlike dirty hippies), I’m married to a loving wife, I’m quite educated (I just don’t subscribe to the hate filled “education” of the lowly leftist), and is that your particular kink?

          May the power of Pepe and the glorious autism of the meme magician enlighten you. Praise be to Kek.

        2. dirtysteve August 1, 2017

          “increasing the level of hate and vitriolic rhetoric isn’t a victory.”

          That all came from you and yours.

    2. dirtysteve August 1, 2017

      Wow, you didn’t make a single actual point, just a whole four paragraphs of invective for fake internet points.

      The C-Star did nothing wrong, that’s why they were released, the NGO’s falsely reported them.

      “, intent on defending a patch of earth called Europe, from other members of the human family.”

      And yet when thousands of young men pour into other continents, it’s called ‘colonisation; ‘invasion’ and ‘crusade’.

      You know people smuggling on the scale that’s happening in Europe is immoral and dangerous, but you love to be a smug liberal more than you love to help the people, on both sides of the sea there, that really need it.

  2. dirtysteve August 1, 2017

    Basically, NGO’s like “Hope Not Hate” reported the C-Star for people smuggling and having armed mercs on board

    Neither of these things are true, which is why the ship was released. They aren’t hampering rescue efforts OR humanitarian work, they are highlighting the ACTUAL people smuggling trade.


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