The world first felt aghast and then burst out in loud laughter. Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award European Union the Nobel Peace Prize for 2012 in a bid to "focus on what has been achieved in Europe in terms of peace and reconciliation... It is a message to Europe to secure what they have achieved-¦ and not let the continent go into disintegration again because it means the emergence of extremism and nationalism.- Thus the descent of this prestigious and coveted prize into the rock bottom of ignominy was complete. Spirit of Alfred Nobel must have convulsed as the former Norwegian Prime Minister Thorbjorn Jagland made the announcement.
The pastiche of the Nobel Peace Prize has been going on for past many years but it has never declined to such depth earlier. They had failed to give the Indian apostle of peace, harmony and non-violence, Mahatma Gandhi, the prize. There have been at least half a dozen other deserving men and women whom the Norwegian committee ignored for the award. And no one knows why they were ignored. Likewise, no one knows why European Union and even American President Barack Obama were given the award.
Controversy and inexplicability have always been permanent factors associated with Nobel Peace Prize. This year the committee turned it into a parody, rather a mockery -" more comical than giving the prize to Obama. Once again the prize was given not for any achievement achieved and neither for promoting anything but for future efforts which may or may not happen.
As the world was amused by the Norwegian comedy, the European Union, the recipient of the award, certainly felt least honoured. A piece of dry bone cannot satisfy the hunger of a ravenous dog. How will the Nobel Peace Prize help the resolution of the raging crisis in Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain is not a matter of conjecture but of serious doubt. To them the prize is no consolation.
Alex Massie has been unequivocal in his expression of indignation. He called the Norwegian decision the worst prize ever. In denouncing the manifestation of absurdity Massie has minced few words saying that the EU is now the biggest driver of political extremism on the continent.
The great gulf between Northern and Southern Europe widens by the day. As it does, resentment increases as the efforts to save the eurozone inflict ever greater pain upon the feckless, unhappy countries on the Mediterranean littoral. The protests against German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Greece this week could be but a modest harbinger of things to come. Like never before in its history, the EU is under pressure. It is easy to see how it might crack or explode.
Yet the European Union has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In Europe democracy, pluralism is in unprecedented peril. The ghost of Hitler is revisiting Europe today. Fascism is back like termites across continent. In Greece, France, Norway, Finland, Netherlands, Hungary, Italy, Denmark and Austria the neo-fascists have emerged as king makers. In Europe today the neo-Nazis have not just grown rapidly but are threatening to go viral.
Growth of fascism and resurrection of Nazi philosophy in Europe is telltale. Anders Breivik's killing spree in Norway and the recent discovery that neo-Nazis were behind the murders of at least 10 migrants in Germany. In a recently published report, JenÃ¶ Kaltenbach, the newly-elected chair of the Council of Europe's European commission against racism and intolerance (ECRI), has criticised countries, especially Britain, for trying to overturn European human rights judgments preventing them from deporting terrorism suspects.
Europe's economic meltdown and the stringent austerity measures paint only one part of a far bigger picture. The scourge of fascism in Europe has actually been growing since past few years and all the more since 9/11. Pluralism and multicultural society have been increasingly looked upon more as banes. Extreme form of racialism has been mounting where migrants and other ethnic groups other than white Christians are seen as threats to national identity. Religious and ethnic intolerance has been and is rising at an appalling pace.
Across Europe, more so in Greece, France, Norway, Finland, Netherlands, Hungary, Italy, Denmark and Austria and even in Britain, "the lowest common denominator of this entire far-right narrative- is that people other than Christians are barbarians and "threat to European stability and peace.- Amnesty International's observation on the issue is damning. It says that in Europe non-Christians "face discrimination in education, employment and religious freedom-.
Extremely ominous are the portents for Europe. Matthew Feldman, director of the Radicalism and New Media Research Group at the University of Northampton, is right. We are still seeing 'Europe for the Europeans,' and that's something we could have seen 80 years ago. In times of uncertainty and great change, finding scapegoats has always been a populist vote winner, and the scapegoat in this century (are the religious minorities) in Europe.
In awarding EU the Nobel Peace Prize the Norwegian committee apparently followed one of its comical traditions. The United Nations, the Red Cross, and MÃ©decins Sans FrontiÃ¨res too were earlier given the prize. These organisations are admirable but none can be said to have thwarted war on a regular basis or made any tangible contribution in promoting global peace and harmony. They have done nothing much to alleviate human misery.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee, however, has today become a worthy rival of the Time magazine in rolling out slapstick comedy. The magazine did not know who to give its "Person of the Year- bauble and chose "You- as the recipient a few years ago. The manner in which the Nobel Peace Prize has been turned into a mockery we never know "We- can become the next recipient of the award.