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Reverse Swing: After the horror in Brussels

On March 22, multiple explosions in Brussels left 31 dead. Five takeaways from the most recent act of Islamist terrorism in the West.

Written by Tunku Varadarajan | Published: March 27, 2016 12:05 am
(Source: Reuters) (Source: Reuters)

1. This isn’t the latest “chapter” of terrorist violence against a Western city by the Islamist death-cults that began a transnational jihad on September 11, 2001. It is the latest paragraph. Attacks are getting ever more frequent. It is ghoulish, I know, but I predict another Brussels-style assault on a soft urban European target within a month, especially as Islamic State continues to take a pounding on its own soil. The increased incidence of terrorism isn’t merely because IS is now alive to the ease with which acts of carnage can be conducted in open societies. It is also because IS is on the back foot in Iraq and Syria, and taking the war to the streets and subways of Europe makes tactical sense.

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2. Especially when there is a new — and panicked — determination on the part of Europe’s security forces to uncover sleeper cells as rapidly as possible. An upsurge in attacks will inevitably result, as IS seeks to use its deadly resources before they are neutralised. IS boasts that there are 400 terrorists embedded in Europe, primed to strike. I shudder.

3. The mounting toll from terrorism will require unprecedented levels of maturity from Europe’s political class. There are millions of Muslims resident across France, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Britain, the vast majority of them law-abiding citizens who want no more than an unmolested life. Politicians on the nativist right have been quick to demonise these people. Morality aside, it is a recipe for civic disaster to treat such a high percentage of your society as the enemy: The Muslim population of France is at 7.5% of the country’s total; the Netherlands’ at 6%; Belgium’s at 5.9%; Germany’s at 5.8%; Austria’s at 5.4%; Greece’s at 5.3%; the UK’s at 4.8%; Sweden’s at 4.6%. (To put that in perspective, Sikhs comprise only 1.8% of Indians.) You cannot cordon off populations of this size, nor place them under open surveillance. These “in-house” Muslim populations have to be enlisted in the fight against Islamist terror.

4. To that end, ways need to be found to integrate Muslims more thoroughly into European society. While there is no doubt that sections of these populations reject Western values — especially when it comes to education and female equality — it is also true that they face discrimination in their daily lives. In this, the US is unlike Europe, being a country that is — Donald Trump notwithstanding — immeasurably more tolerant toward Muslims. There is also the truth that it is easier for outsiders to integrate into economies, like America’s, that aren’t stagnant. Why else do so many people fleeing the Middle East attempt to transit through France and get to the UK?

5. The fight against terror needs to become more sophisticated. Even as there is — and must be — a drive to capture or kill Islamist terrorists, our combat must also include a war for Muslim minds. Bernard Lewis, the great historian of the Islamic world, once told me, “Women are half the world, and mothers of the other half.” The terrorists are men, but it is in women that we must place our faith. Efforts such as those by Edit Schlaffer, the Austrian founder of Women Without Borders, are priceless. Her NGO’s project, Mothers Against Extremism, recruits Muslim mothers as foot soldiers against jihad. Muslim mothers can shield their children from toxic ideologies and fight the myth of jihadi masculinity that fuels IS. Terrorism may be learned at radical mosques and training camps, but it can be fought most effectively at home.

The writer is the Virginia Hobbs Carpenter Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. @tunkuv

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  1. S
    Sirius
    Mar 27, 2016 at 8:01 am
    Useless article from an apologist ! Unwilling to admit the real cause. Authors chiched solution of 'better integration in society' was also suggested by Mr. Praveen Swami in these columns , and Mr. Varadarajan should have checked the readers feedback in that article before penning his current contribution . Simply said, if the 2nd gen citizen also needs better integration into society , then something is wrong with the individual, their family , their values and their community , all of which needs fixing, not the society. Maybe, 're-conquista' needs to be re-enacted in Europe ...
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      hayatlives
      Mar 27, 2016 at 6:00 am
      Good one..
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        hayatlives
        Mar 27, 2016 at 6:03 am
        yaa.. and you prove your desh bhakti by being anti muslim... I wonder where you guys go in hiding when the naxals butcher indians ...
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          IndianWellWisher
          Mar 26, 2016 at 9:55 pm
          A civilised response to terrorism does not exist. Provide education and better jobs, they will use it to further their insane cause. Enlisting mothers? Muslim men took away their voice long time back. lt;br/gt;Now ar least I hope rest of the world realises what a menace Islam is for India with 200 mm Muslims and how tolerant Hindus have been all along to their detriment.
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          1. Sanjay Singh
            Mar 27, 2016 at 7:23 am
            Most of the Muslims when they are not living in a muslim country they are forced to live a dual / hypocritical life. The Islam is one (at least the basics). The people here or per say in media come out with their articles that is their personal view which has nothing to do with Islam. Most of the time these so called media personnel do to prove that they are the champion of democracy and civilized world or some time they are paid by vested interest. In India mostly these media people are paid by congress and Left parties. coming back to Islam there are certain basic things that every muslim is duty bound to follow. Some times these are mandatory and sometimes it is obligatory. For example Muslims will never allow their daughters to marry non-muslim. Muslim are duty bound to kill if a muslim converts to other faith. It is obligatory on part of Muslim to shut / destroy anything that is not halal. Many things are there. So gist is it is to live in a foolish world to believe that there are good / bad muslims. Some of them are just following the tenets(mandatory) part and some one are following the both. The real problem is politics / journalist who with vested interest keeps justifying it.
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