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Europe’s Timid Confrontation with Terrorism
Police in the French city of Nice close a street leading to the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Nice (rear) after a fatal knife attack there, October 29, 2020, Nice, France. (Martino C./Wikimedia Commons)

Europe’s Timid Confrontation with Terrorism

Al-Nahar, Lebanon, November 22

Europe has adopted a state of defeat in the wake of the terrorism that has struck its cities. European leaders have agreed on everything but to confront the currents of violence and extremism that have swept the shores of their continent. None of the world’s countries explicitly declare their support for terrorism. Rather, all countries declare their rejection of all forms of violence and extremism. Despite this fact, we know that some countries covertly support violence and extremism while others turn a blind eye. Then there are those countries for which confrontation of terrorism is a worthless political action. Herein lies the real disease. The international community has fallen short of proactively confronting terrorism, waiting, instead, until it became a problem. Violent groups exploited this, so what the world is witnessing right now – the re-emergence of powerful terror groups across the Western Hemisphere – has less to do with the strength of these groups and more to do with the lax response by Western authorities. Europe is still divided on this issue. European states have allowed extremist organizations to exist on its soil through Islamic centers and charitable societies that receive foreign support from unknown countries and questionable sources. Too many European capitals have allowed the flow of foreign funds into their jurisdictions without investigating the sources from which they come. The matter is not limited merely to charitable societies or Islamic centers but has also been true of imams and preachers who work in these centers and promote radical ideas. It is imperative for European states to stop the flow of foreign support for radical Islamic groups. Most of the terrorist operations that took place in Europe have been carried out by homegrown radicals who were incited in their respective mosques and drew inspiration from extremist propaganda they found on the internet. Further, violent extremist groups benefit from the free movement of people and goods around the European continent. For many decades, the Muslim Brotherhood formed cells and secret societies throughout Europe, managing to slowly infiltrate the continent through various associations and places of worship. The only way to confront terrorism in Europe is therefore to redefine the relationship between the state and these societies, and, by virtue of that, between the state and Islam. Europe must reevaluate the legal frameworks that govern how authorities can deal with this widespread terrorist infrastructure, including the deportation of foreign extremists who already have rights to permanent residence. The time has come for Europe to cease being shy of confronting its biggest historical threat. – Mounir Adeeb (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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