Europe must agree on a unified policy against radicalization

French gendarmes patrol near the Eiffel Tower a day after a man stabbed several people, Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena) (Christophe Ena/)

In the last two decades the different wars in middle East They have triggered bloody terrorist attacks in Europe and other parts of the world. The same thing happened in every war between different Palestinian groups against Israel, the same thing manifested itself during the Arab Spring in 2011 and spread rapidly with the emergence of ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Germany, Belgium, Spain, the United Kingdom, France and Bulgaria have been the countries hardest hit by the terrorist scourge of fundamentalism. The large number of attacks gave rise to different debates within the European Union (EU) and within the different security agencies of the member countries. In accordance with the above, Current events in Gaza exacerbate these types of situations.

The years passed and the problems were not resolved, although the debate did not lose momentum and the discussion fluctuated depending on the political color of the governments in power in the different countries, many of them ignored the impact of the growing Muslim immigration generated by the so-called “Arab springs” that pushed hundreds of thousands of people to seek refuge from the various civil wars in their countries of origin.

If we draw a timeline, it is clear that the center of the debate is at a disadvantage with the expansion of terrorism within Europe. The attacks that have taken place are clear proof of this. However, neither the US nor Latin America are exempt from the same problem. But it has been the European-progressive elite that has long accompanied the discourse of multiculturalist policies through a very basic and simplistic debate when everything indicated that these policies had failed in the existing correlation between radicalization and jihadist terrorism. Even so, many European leaders ignored the problem of uncontrolled migration and the growth of “homegrown” radical jihadism, as dangerous or more dangerous than imported terrorism.

This week, France suffered two attacks of this nature, three people were murdered at the hands of pro-Hamas jihadists, the response of the security forces was the arrest of the attackers but the official statements indicated the same thing as always (both perpetrators suffer from mental imbalance), however, the crimes had already been completed.

Analyzing the European debate, it is clearly observed that it weakened and marked a painful loss of time. Thus, any final conclusion reached shows that multiculturalism policies have come to a disappointing end despite the marked and healthy differences that exist between some leaders, Merkel was not Zapatero and currently Scholz is not Pedro Sánchez, fortunately for the Germans and unfortunately for the Spanish.

However, today global terrorism and European strategies against the terrorist threat of young second and third generation Muslims born in Europe are on different paths and in France they continue to be not understood in their magnitude by their leadership. The British didn’t understand it either until the buses of the English Company were blown to pieces on July 7 in London, killing 52 people and leaving more than 650 injured in what constituted the first case of “homegrown” terrorism, since the 4 perpetrators (who blew themselves up in the attack) were born in Britain.

These attacks that occurred years ago, but also the two this week in France – and the number of other attacks carried out over time – inevitably open a big question about: What is the strategy to fight against the second and third generation of jihadists by part of the European leadership in its fight against terrorism? If to answer this question we take the Spanish model of Pedro Sánchez, the answer will be regrettable, except in isolated cases, there is no strategy. Therefore, it is inappropriate to speak of a cohesive European strategy to combat fundamentalism since each country uses different strategies that are the consequence of its history, its legal framework and its perception of the threat.

It is true that the European Union is making a sustained effort trying to coordinate practical actions in the fight against terrorism, but there are unresolved differences that are manifested in the foreign policy of its members, some of which are influenced by the ongoing war. between the terrorism of Hamas and Israel or for other crimes such as drug trafficking from Africa, Latin America, Afghanistan and even Pakistan; Therefore, they must assume a new commitment in their security policies given the enormous differences in terms of internal policies of some countries such as Italy or Hungary, which have adopted harsh legislation that seems inconceivable in France or Spain, which makes it difficult to talk about a cohesive European strategy.

It is also fair to point out that thanks to the efforts of supranational institutions there is some positive cooperation of the authorities at different levels of information between those responsible for intelligence from different countries. However, there are legal, political and cultural differences that prevent the formation of a unified strategy, which is highly negative.

The appropriate thing to do in the face of the scourge would be for Brussels to indicate a clear general framework where each country applies its own anti-terrorist policy, but with bases based on criteria at the continental level, since that is where the system seems not to be working, proof of this. are the dozens of attacks that have been seen in recent years in several European countries due to a questionable legal framework. However, today, the threat to Europe is internal and homegrown.

Since the 1980s many radicals entered the continent illegally, playing a decisive role in building networks that remain active in Spain, England, Sweden, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and now also in Kosovo. Every day its militants are seen committing destruction in the streets of London, Paris or Stockholm. There are also concrete indications that some terrorist groups have engaged in smuggling illegal immigrants into Europe and using the financial gain to finance terrorist activities.

In most European countries, a large part of those involved in jihadist-inspired terrorist activities “are second and third generation children of Muslim immigrants displaced from their countries by different wars”, to which we must add a growing number of European converts. , but the most relevant thing is that these people born in Europe have community passports. Thus, Europeans are making a mistake by focusing on the problem only as an external threat or border control. The real threat to Europe is internal and is its second and third generation of jihadists with which it lives within its borders. Europe must not ignore its native citizens who become radicalized in their own cities and travel freely without attracting attention throughout the Schengen zone using their own legal European passports. Faced with this reality, sooner or later Europe will have to face the increase in its Muslim population as a central issue in relation to its cultural, social and political identity. This will bring inevitable ethnic-religious divisions in the medium term and the old divisions that generated conflicts in past centuries will revive, making it a critical issue that must be addressed seriously if greater evils are to be avoided.

Some analysts and political leaders have expressed disbelief in terrorism as an expanded phenomenon and place it within issues of demands. This is a serious error, as I developed in my book “Global Jihad, Terrorism of the 21st Century, the phenomenon is nothing but the tip of a large iceberg and the visible manifestation of a much deeper ideological problem that is part of an ideology put into action, a dogma whose criteria are absolutely incompatible with democracy and Western values. However, the biggest problem that political fundamentalism poses is that it takes on the guise of Islam as a religion, thus usurping the faith of many Muslims in mosques and community organizations. This is what many Europeans naively do not understand, when there are ample reasons that show jihadist fundamentalism as incompatible with democracy.

In the Netherlands, a recent consultation was carried out on 1,500 Muslims, the results indicated that 8 out of 10, privately and under anonymity, respond that they do not support fundamentalist violence, but the response is usually not the same in a mosque in front of its religious leader.

Many politicians, academics and experts encourage the need to impose the multicultural model of integration that is largely applied in Europe, they maintain that multiculturalism should involve treating people equally despite differences, That is unquestionable regarding the rights of people who observe their obligations and duties in the societies in which they live. However, in recent years a large majority of European citizens believe that problematic behavior arises from within the Muslim communities where radicalization has taken root, and not because the vast majority of Muslims desire it or adhere to militant radicalism, but rather due to the pressures and space gained by radicals within their community spheres. These thoughts of Europeans should not be considered racist or Islamophobic since they have reasons to think this way due to the numerous terrorist attacks on their soil; They must be seen within the framework of a necessary first step towards the creation of cohesive societies.

Unfortunately, issues related to integration and radicalization have been ignored or minimized for too long. Traditionally, the left did so from its belief in the framework of multiculturalism. While the right refrained from addressing the problem – whether due to political correctness or by taking center-right positions – for fear of losing Muslim voters (an ever-growing electorate) who have generally avoided conservative parties and from the right.

In this scenario, it is not easy to project what will happen in the coming years. But avoiding the debate on uncontrolled immigration, integration and fundamentalism will not be a solution that will put Western democracies on the right track.