What Is Antifa And Why Does Donald Trump Want To Declare It A 'terrorist Outfit'?

Antifa members hold a range of left-wing ideologies and a majority of them describe themselves as revolutionaries with anti-capitalist and anti-government views

What is Antifa

US President Donald Trump announced on May 31 that the United States will designate Antifa as a terrorist organisation after protests flared across the country over the death of George Floyd. Trump, a staunch critic of Antifa, believes that the group has been responsible for the violent protests and looting that started in Minneapolis and similar protests were reported from various parts of the country. On May 29, many protesters gathered outside the White House, some of them even pelting stones which reportedly prompted the security personnel to move the US President to a bunker.

Antifa is a vaguely defined militant political activist movement which identifies itself as far-left and anti-fascist. According to Merriam-Webster, the first known use of the term ‘Antifa’ was way back during Nazi Germany and is “borrowed from German Antifa, short for antifaschistisch 'anti-fascist’, in Antifaschistische Aktion (multiparty front initiated by the German Communist Party in 1932 to counter Nazism) and in other collocations”. 

The members of Antifa hold a range of left-wing ideologies and a majority of them describe themselves as revolutionaries with anti-capitalist and anti-government views. They dress in black, sometimes covering their face with masks and helmets to remain unidentified from alt-right groups and police. They use a variety of tactics to disrupt the event of alt-right groups which they deem fascists and the most extreme factions carry pepper spray, knives, bricks and chains.

The far-left group defends the use of violence to fight the “fascist” forces and, according to an AOL report, call it appropriate tactics against Trump’s “unprecedented levels of surveillance, incarceration, deportations, and police brutality and murders against the US Public”. It gained new prominence in 2017 after it confronted white supremacist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in August 2017. 

Read: Donald Trump Briefly Taken To Underground Bunker As Protests Turned Violent: Report

Instances of violent protests

There have been several instances when such encounters between Antifa and far-right groups turned violent. During a May Day march in 2017, the Antifa protesters allegedly attacked police officers and destroyed property, leading to 25 arrests. In June 2019, members of Antifa clashed with Proud Boys, a far-right group, in Portland, Oregon, leaving members of both sides injured.

The group has drawn criticism from many liberal figures for their violent activities and bringing disrepute to anti-fascist movements in the country. Famous American linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky voiced his frustration with Antifa, calling it a “gift to the far right and US state repression”. Speaking to The Independent, Chomsky said that the use of force by Antifa in completely unacceptable and also provides some justification for the absurd claim that Antifa is comparable to the far-right forces.


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