Preying on Syrian war widows
Muazzaz Ali and her daughter Lama Farzad are sitting under the shadow of a cross. The light falling through the window silhouettes the crossed struts of the wooden frame on the tent's white canvas.
The women are Syrian refugees and war widows from Homs. They're sitting on the floor of the tent with hands clasped together, eyes cast down. It almost looks as if they are praying to the cross but they are not. They are Muslim by faith, a simple fact of life for them – but for the Germans paying the rent for this tent, an entirely different matter.
In May this year, two German nationals came to the refugee camp in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. They wore t-shirts labelled Hilfe Vor Ort (Aid on the Spot) and said they were charity workers.
"They just talked to us about the war," says Muazzaz, completely unaware of their identity. "They filmed the tent," adds Lama.
A charity in name only
The two Germans belong to a group called Alternative Help Association (AHA), which ostensibly wants to help war-afflicted people on the ground, as many charities do. Their real aim, however, is somewhat different: to stop their "flight" to Europe.
The two men, Nils Altmieks and Sven Engeser, visited the camp as AHA caseworkers, but they are also members of the Alt-Right or Identitarian movement that is popping up across Europe. The movement claims to be patriotic and denies far-right affiliations, yet it preaches Islamophobia and is explicit about stopping Muslims from entering the EU. They follow a concept called "ethno-pluralism", which advocates that regions be divided along ethnic lines.
The website of the Identitarian movement claims that Europe is going through a demographic crisis, the birth rate of native-born Europeans dwindling while there is "simultaneous growth of Islamic parallel societies and mass immigration".
Asked to clarify their classification of Europe as a "Christian continent" and how the influx of refugees challenges their – as he suggests – "Christian identity", Engeser responded: "Most migrants coming to Europe have a Muslim background and thus contribute to the Islamisation of the continent. In some major European cities we are already in the minority as Europeans. We want to protect our ethnic and cultural identity."