As a matter of fact, the spread of terrorism has become nowadays more and more central in Governments’ agendas. Given the attack on the 13th of November in Paris, Europe seems to be losing the supposed full control power it had always been sure to possess over its territories.
Indeed, the western security services had already proven to be weak in January, when two members belonging to the group Al-Qaeda managed to break into the Parisian office of Charlie Hebdo, killing 11 people.
What scared Europe was the ease through which two terrorists had succeeded in blitzing into the heart of one of the most important cities in the world during the daylight, with authorities not being able to understand what was going on until it was too late.
Newspapers and public opinion in general posed many questions after the aforementioned disgraceful event: how could that happen? Where did the terrorists come from? What is exactly going on in Europe? Where is the push for violence coming from? How could all the hate be conceived and spread so easily in the dear old continent?
The questions are surely hard to be answered, but making a step back from our European presumption of knowing and controlling everything, we might be able to see how the very link between terrorism and its spread and popularity has to be found in the nexus between immigration and integration, inside Europe itself.
Dealing with immigration, it is fair to say that Europe does have a foreign policy, which tries to be welcoming and open toward immigrants but it is very diverse among the countries of the EU.
It seems Europe is still unable to provide for real and effective integration and settlement of foreigners in the Union’s countries, especially the immigrants with a different historical background and religion, as the Islamists for instance.
The West is still lacking the capacity to welcome, mix and unify the “different” without approaching it as someone with a distinct and divergent culture, just because of his historical background.
Cradle of the Greek democracy, of equality among human beings, Europe does not yet fully provide for a system that makes it possible for the people to cooperate a better way together in order to administer our Countries in a peaceful interracial environment, and to positively influence our planet. In a cosmopolitan view, we are all citizens of the same world, which belongs to all of us equally and indiscriminately.
How could someone be willing to destroy something he is part of, somewhere he belongs to?
It may sound clichéd, but one of the very main reasons why daesh has managed to attract so many people in so little time and deceived them to commit huge atrocities which go against the religion, against the common sense and against humanity, is the sense of community it provides and gives to those willing to be a part of it.
It is hard to accept that terrorists are usually from the country they attack, or they live there without feeling part of it instead, being treated like outcasts.
Religion is used as a tool of terroristic propaganda, but many muslims leaders have proved this to be merely a mean to attract people, and pointed out that Islam does not promote the atrocities ISIS has been responsible for.
ISIS mainly finds new members thanks to the sense of belonging that is able to create, exactly the opposite of what European States are achieving with certain groups of citizens, which are not well-integrated in the urban framework. The European Union should try to fight daesh and terrorism uprooting it from its own member States, from its own citizens.
I think that providing economic opportunities to certain groups of youths targeted by terrorism propaganda would make them feel included, permitting them to avoid the distorted image of terrorism as a better alternative to our society.
I believe the Union’s agenda should aim at creating a Europe of solidarity, and do so by focusing on the following factors: establishing educational programs to create a sense of community, by comprehensively teaching States’ histories, by explaining and developing democratic forms of government, and contributing to a strong sense of belonging generated by the core values of each country; providing more welcoming and supporting communities for immigrants in all member States, in order to finally crash and eradicate those who are trying to tear down our world.
Benedetta Di Prospero
AISES Young Delegate to the Policy Week on Terrorism in London (25th - 31st October, 2015)