The world entered 2015 in a flurry. Incidents are still following fast on one another’s heels. Europe is the calmest region and the furthest away from these events. In fact, the EU already had its guard up and was waiting in trepidation. Rising waves of nationalism began appearing in several European countries, then there were the rise in Islamophobia and insults toward Muslims in Sweden, Switzerland and Austria, and the Pegida and anti-Pegida protests in Germany.
France has long been fighting armed organizations in Africa in a highly effective and continuous manner. It is today fighting members of al-Qaeda in the Central African Republic, Chad, Mauretania, Burkina Faso and Sub-Saharan Africa. Its strategy is based on annihilating the foe by military means. This struggle on which France has embarked has led to the deaths of thousands of innocent people in the region.
People who lose their homes on account of France’s military operations are either forced to migrate or else join al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab or ISIS to seek revenge because their relatives have been killed by French soldiers. Statistics show that more people have joined ISIS from France than from other European countries.
The French Interior Ministry issued a statement the other day, according to which a total of 930 people, French citizens and people living in France, had some sort of involvement with the wars in Syria and Iraq. Out of these 930 people, 350 are still in the battlefield. In addition to these figures, 36 people died in the wars in the region. Significant number of people had fought in Syria and Iraq and returned to France.
What the French government fears most is these people, who have returned, who have received military training, taken part in fighting and are dedicated to jihad, and what they will do next.
These concerns on the part of the French government were justified, and one of the people involved in the Charlie Hebdo massacre, 34-year-old Said Kouashi, had been trained by al-Qaeda in Yemen.
France is one of the three most important countries in Europe. Paris, one of the world’s most important and best-known cities, is a center of European art, politics and industry.
The state introduced a series of precautionary measures following events in Paris in December. The army was even asked to help so that people could enjoy a peaceful Christmas and New Year. For the first time since the Second World War, French troops were charged with protecting its cities. In Paris, 1080 troops were on duty at the Eiffel Tower and the surrounding area.
Yet these precautions served no purpose. First, 12 people died in the attack on Charlie Hebdo, and 10 more were injured. It later transpired that 2 of the dead were Muslims. The next day a female police officer was shot. Three terrorists and 4 hostages lost their lives in the police operation that followed, and one person is alleged to have escaped.
When the identities of the dead terrorists were revealed, all eyes of course turned to radical Islamists and so-called Islamic terror organizations.
The world has been fighting Islamic terror organizations ever since September 11. That fight is based on harsh military measures. A look at ISIS today shows that military measures produce no results and that an ideological campaign against these organizations is far more important.
Measures such as pressurizing Muslims or restricting their freedoms with new laws and treating Muslims as second-class citizens have to date produced no positive outcomes.
The pressures on Muslims after September 11 gave birth to new incidents. A new approach must now be developed in the wake of the Paris attacks. No more new negative approach must be adopted toward Muslims, the majority of whom in France are of North African origin, and new strategies to ensure these people are far more excluded from society must not be adopted. (The reactions to the maltreatment of Muslims living in the suburbs in 2005 are still fresh in people’s memories).
There must be no repeat of the difficulties faced by Muslims in the immediate wake of the September 11 attacks, particularly in the U.S. and Western countries. Western states must show Muslims greater love and understanding, thus preventing them turning to terror organizations.
We are all watching the recent rise of nationalist movements in Europe. The extreme right is using the weakened economy in Europe to implement its policies and muster support. They blame Muslims and migrants for the problems going on, and are using public fears for the future to put pressure on Muslims and migrants.
The policy of European nationalists is based on making no concessions on their own ideology and civilization. They want citizens to hold the same views as them and to live by a specific life style. They therefore aim to isolate those they regard as not one of them, or even to remove them from the country. Systematic alienation of people is a new danger for Europe. These policies are strengthening the possibility of a new ‘Kristallnacht’ aimed against Muslims in the middle of Europe.
The failure of center-right and left parties to explicitly oppose this threat is also raising difficulties. While the German government says that Kurds should be able to be educated in their mother tongue in Turkey, it says that Turks in Germany should even speak German at home.
What needs to be done is for EU to prevent radicalism by identifying its causes, and for migrants, and particularly Muslims, to integrate into European life and society. To that end, instead of imposing policies in a top-down manner, governments in Europe must develop common policies supported by moderate Muslims. In particular, Islamic leaders must state that there is no room for violence and terror in the Islam set out in the Qur’an and courageously declare that false hadiths filled with nonsense are the source of such terror. They must wage a struggle of ideas against these false sources. They must state that al-Qaeda, ISIS and the like are in the wrong, without trying to cover up events through conspiracy theories. And they must work together with the U.S. and the West to that end.
Adnan Oktar's piece on Arabian Gazette: