Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Is it terror or fear that spreads over Europe?
Our continent of course is not unfamiliar with terror attacks; in the past there were numerous indigenous, separatist terrorist groups and organisations operating in many Western European nations.
Yet nowadays we come against a new threat, this time seemingly from outside of Europe. Since last November and the terror attacks in Paris, we are witnessing a surge in terrorism incidents committed by Islamist groups, most claiming their allegiance to ISIS.
After France which finds itself as a primary target, Belgium and Germany have also been attacked. The latest attack took place today in Normandy, where two terrorists killed a priest and held hostage four more in a church attack in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray. (CNN)
Such development is very worrying and not just because it poses a threat to our lives, but our values. The more such atrocities are escalating, the more nationalism and far right groups will be rising among the European population.
And with them, xenophobia and particularly Islamophobia will become widespread, while our societies will become increasingly conservative full of fear, suspicion and intolerance.
Borders may be reinstalled, threatening the much hated by the nationalists Schengen Agreement. Surveillance, military and police interference or presence may also become the norm for all of us across Europe. In addition traveling could become much harder.
In the past our continent had the Soviet Union to fear and in need to protect itself from, shaping our collective culture and public opinion. Could we possible be faced with a new long term threat, as serious as that of the Cold War?
One would wonder who would benefit from this and why the phenomenon is happening. Are the Islamists truly in war with all the Western societies and if yes, can they really win? Perhaps this new "threat" has one aim; to reshape our societies and mentality by inciting fear.
We need to note that what is happening now in Europe, is a reality for far longer and more severely in Islamic nations throughout Asia and Africa. We may be shocked about the barbaric attacks, but Europe is not the sole epicenter of such terror.
Muslims still constitute the majority of the victims of such Islamist groups, so to believe that this is a clash strictly between Christianity and Islam is mistaken, perhaps even dangerously misleading.
There are of course those who chose to blame immigration and the arrival of refugees from Syria and other Islamic countries, for these attacks.
Yet millions of Muslims have been living peacefully and fully integrated in our societies for decades. Think of all the doctors, nurses, barbers and convenience store staff that you have encountered throughout your lifetime.
People that served you, cared for you or even saved your lives. We need to remind that to ourselves before a collective hysteria against all people from different faiths occurs.
Europeans must realize that we can not avoid migration, as long as our continent remains one of the richest regions of the planet and while there is still huge inequality in living standards and opportunities throughout it.
Furthermore, Europe's very economy is based on migration and multiculturalism. Our economic model is designed around the inequality between wealthy native Europeans and the hardworking, lesser paid newly arrived migrants.
Immigrants have been the pillar of our economy by working harder, getting paid less and paying more taxes.
So that we can claim our benefits and free education to expand our opportunities, enjoying some of the highest living standards in the globe.
Maybe instead of branding people dangerous, we should be looking at what forced these individuals to turn to violence and terror. Has our societal and economic model failed them, or could this not be strictly a class of civilizations, but rather a manifestation of the Western values' foundering and decline?
A lot of the terrorists were second generation immigrants, born and bred in France or Belgium. Perhaps we must focus on what made these young individuals to chose and die for their religion, instead of making the most of what our societies have to offer.
We need to examine why some groups want desperately to spread fear and terror across Europe, while bringing us in direct collision with countries straight at our doorstep. And as in any quarrel,not all blame can be laid on one side.
What have Europe and the West done over the past decades, to place our continent among the targets of such groups?
It is evident that there are forces constantly trying to create a clash between Eastern and Western values; exploiting old fault lines between them, but only to serve their own agendas.
We apparently feel so threatened by Iran and its nuclear ambitions, that we need to shield ourselves. Consequently we spend an enormous amount of money installing missiles pointed towards them, instead of investing these money in solving many of our societal problems.
On the other hand, the leaders of the Islamic world prefer to blame the West for their failures and their declining outdated values, instead of proceeding in deep reforms, intercultural dialogue and modernization.
Therefore, the attacks on European soil are the result of decades old serious mistakes, both from Western and Eastern leaders. They preferred to maintain a dangerous and outdated division of our worlds instead of trying to eliminate it, in order to safeguard the ideological, financial and political interests of local elite groups.
Either those are the reluctance to modernize the Islamic societies, bringing them in-sync with the rest of the developed world, or to maintain the monopolies of the oil and arms industries of rich Western nations.
As result, we are having disillusioned Muslim youths thinking that they are doing God's will by killing innocent people. In addition, the European continent is falling for the propaganda of hate, fear and intolerance once again.
We can never forget where it led us the last time though. Plus that the majority of the victims of the horror which was unleashed, were Christian and European.
Europeans ought to remain very vigilant in these emerging challenges. They should not allow these events to destroy what our continent has achieved and where our societies have managed to reach.
Europe must not roll back into nationalism, conservatism and intolerance, limiting our freedoms and opportunities for equality and personal development. If the current agenda is to make us give up our freedoms for stricter, imposed "security", then our answer should be defiant.