- The Media Line - https://themedialine.org -

What Now, After Belgium?

Al-Mustaqbal, Lebanon, Originally posted in Arabic on March 25


The brutal attack that hit Belgium this week cannot but leave us aching with pain over the atrocious crimes that were committed on behalf of our religion.

It now remains virtually impossible to determine where or when the next attack will take place, yet many Europeans are coming to terms with the idea that this new threat will likely accompany them for years to come. But what is behind it?

Much has been said about how economic despair pushed European minorities, particularly Muslims, into radicalizing. However, this explanation is insufficient. How did the barbaric ideology of the Islamic State reach the hearts and minds of European individuals who received a Western education?

The answer, I believe, has to do with marginalization. Muslim youngsters who grow up in European societies might hold French, Belgian, or German passports. But their alienation from society and their limited options – both economic and social – bring them to identify, first and foremost, as Arabs. They view themselves as such from day one, and so does the society around them.

To make things worse, they see the problems faced by their Arab brethren around the world: in Palestine, in Syria, in Iraq, and in Yemen.  They witness Western leaders try to conduct wars far away from their borders, ignoring human suffering when the circumstances don’t suit their political goals. They see superpowers like America sit idly in the wake of mass killings or genocide, yet rush to intervene when American economic interests are at risk.

All of these factors, combined, push the marginalized and the despairing into searching for a new ideology. This is how extremist dogma reaches Europe. Surely it won’t disappear simply by integrating Arabs into European society.

But when President Obama was recently asked about the plans for his last months of his term in office he mentioned defeating the Islamic State as his “top priority”. Yet he did not mention how this will be achieved.

And this, my friends, is the million-dollar question; without hope for a brighter future in the Middle East, European Muslims will continue viewing themselves, above everything else, as Arabs.   – Asaad Haider