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Ripped From the Headlines: Key Concepts

A guide to understanding the wider context behind stories in the news.

Nationalism in Europe

Rising nationalism in Europe runs counter to the mission of the European Union.  Nationalists support their  own country's interests, even if they harm outsiders.  An organization like the European Union supports the common good of all above the interests of any one nation.  The conflict inherent in this equation has lead to movements like Brexit.   

Terror Attack in Europe


ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and other Islamist groups have carried out numerous terror attacks in Europe in the last few years.  The deadliest attack was the November 2015 Paris attack in which 130 people were killed, but others have occurred in England, Spain, Belgium, Germany and other places.  Many of the attacks occur in symbolic locations and seek to undermine Western authority. 

Multiculturalism vs. Traditional Values





The rise of multiculturalism in Europe, exemplified especially in the growing number of Muslims, is seen as a threat to the older traditional cultural heritage.  Right wing movements have embraced the idea of protecting and preserving this heritage by limiting immigration and forcing non-Europeans to assimilate.

Anti-immigration sentiment in Europe


With the large numbers of migrants coming into Europe fleeing conflict in the Middle East, many Europeans are concerned and angry. In most European countries, immigration is seen as the most pressing issue.  It has fueled the rise of far right politicians and political parties who have taken hardline stances against immigration.                                                                       

Far Right Political Parties Gain Power Throughout Europe

Across Europe, far right political parties have made significant inroads with voters.  In some cases, far right politicians have been elected to powerful positions, in others, they make up the main opposition party. Far right politicians have been able to tap into people's fears about immigrants diluting the national character of the country and causing financial strain.   

Heritage of Colonialism




For much of the 19th and well into the 20th centuries, several European powers maintained large colonial holdings, mainly in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean.  The United Kingdom and France has the largest empires, but the Dutch, Portuguese, Belgians, and Germans also had sizable holdings.  Many former colonies retained close ties to their colonizers.  Often, when the non-white, former colonists, immigrated to the Europe, they faced racism and hardship.