Terrorism in France: The threat of radical Islamists

Said Shehata
Sunday 22 Nov 2015

The Paris tragedy highlights the danger posed by radical Islamists in France and the West

Pursuing Western targets has now become the new stage of atrocities committed by the so-called the Islamic State; 129 were killed and 350 injured in the Paris incidents.

Some individuals from Belgium are implicated in those attacks and it should be mentioned that the highest percentage of radical Islamists who have joined the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq come from Belgium.

France had already experienced a similar massacre earlier this year, when radicals attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine and other locations, killing 17 people.

There were many plots to launch similar attacks in different European cities which have been foiled. For example, a few days ago 13 people were arrested in simultaneous operations in Italy, the UK and Norway after arrest warrants were issued.

Other operations took place in Germany, Finland and Switzerland, and authorities said that suspected leaders and members of a Norway-based group known as Rawti Shax were arrested. Investigators said they had enough support to recruit and transport fighters to Syria.

At the centre of the alleged extremist ring being targeted is Najmuddin Faraj Ahmad, a radical Iraqi preacher who lives in Norway and is known as Mullah Krekar. Ahmad was facing an 18-month prison term for praising the murder of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists at the start of the year.

There are thousands of radicals like Ahmad in the West, and it seems that it is a daunting task to eliminate the danger of those evil elements from Western societies. The freedom and laws in these countries are a fertile soil for such Islamists, and the radicals have exploited legal mechanisms in order to recruit and to encourage hatred among potential jihadists who seek to commit terrorist acts against innocent people.

Other elements contribute to the dark picture of the flourishing number of radicals in Europe. The main one is Islamic thought and discourse. As far as Islam intervenes in politics, it will be used to justify those acts of terror. Islam should be separated from politics and the state, as happened in Europe with Christianity.

Before then, Europe lived in a dark era under the rule of the church. It witnessed enlightenment and progress when religion and the church were kept in the private sphere and excluded from the public sphere.

In addition, Western governments should find creative ways to integrate Muslims in their societies. Both France's assimilation policy and the UK's multiculturalism have proved a failure. Refugees and migrants should be scrutinised before being received in Europe; the open door policy is dangerous since some radicals might be among the big wave of migrants seen recently by Europe.

In addition, some refugees and migrants hate the West and believe in restoring the Islamic caliphate by force. Europe and especially the UK, has welcomed radical Islamists into their territory.

Furthermore, those mosques, Islamic schools and Muslim organisations in the West that are are found to recruit, encourage or finance radicals should be closed. Claims of Islamophobia and tolerance should be challenged when they are abused and political correctness must be dropped from politicians’ discourse.

The so-called Islamic State should be weakened. It is considered the symbol of the Islamic caliphate and inspiration for jihadists. Finally, Western foreign policies in the Middle East should be revised to take into consideration the anger and concerns of people from this region as well as other countries, such as Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Unfortunately, it is not going to be the last attack, since many steps must be taken to face this nightmare. Security and intelligence agencies alone are not able to stop all future terrorist plots, and here other elements should complement, this such as schools, universities, media, mosques, Muslim leaders and integration policies.

The writer is a political analyst. 

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