Terrorism Biting the Hand that Feeds It

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Ardeshir Zare’i-Qanavati
Expert on International Relations

Terrorist attacks on the Paris office of the French satirical weekly, Charlie Hebdo, last Wednesday (January 7), not only shocked the entire society of France, but also rang the alarms of extremist terrorism for the entire world, Europe in particular. The terrorist attack in Paris, unlike past terrorist attacks in other parts of Europe, was one of a kind in the light of what is currently going on in the world, especially in the critical region of the Middle East. Without correct understanding of its unique nature, the vicious circle of terrorism may continue in the future and pose a major threat to the security of the entire world.

In the past, terrorist attacks in New York on September 11, 2001, marked a turning point in all the equations related to the world politics and public security. Under the present circumstances, the terrorist attack on the office of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris can have an undeniable impact on democratic trends in the Western societies in view of the reaction that has been shown to it by the French government and the entire Western world. As a result, it may undermine all ideas about convergence in Europe; further strengthen extremist far-right political groups; have a negative impact on relations between the West and the Islamic world; intensify opposition against accepting immigrants to Europe; and also lead to further spread of jihadist terrorism based on fundamentalist Islamic ideas, and have a great effect on international security. Undoubtedly, the recent terror attacks in Paris will result in a major change, especially in the conditions of Europe, which are already quite very different from the past.

Of course, many world leaders have tried to tone down the negative impacts of this incident in their messages. However, given the fragile situation of many European societies in terms of social convergence and cultural tolerance, it seems that those societies are in for negative trends in their democratic structures, followed by civilizational conflicts in both areas of domestic and foreign policies. For this reason, the recent terror attack should be considered in its entirety. As such, due attention should be paid to its impact on social relations and domestic policies of those countries; the new understanding of international terrorism; limitations on freedom of expression; subsequent geopolitical interventions to prevent further spread of terrorism; as well as more solidarity between the majority of local people in Europe and immigrant minorities. It will also determine the fate of racial and religious tolerance in European countries. At present, a wave of xenophobia and islamophobia is sweeping through almost entire Western Europe and the far-right extremist groups and parties are trying to make the most of this situation in order to achieve their goals. As a result, whether political leaders in France and other European countries would be able to manage the existing situation in the direction of reconciliation and in line with the past democratic values, would depend more than anything else on the general course of future developments.

If new power relations among various political groups in Europe turned out to be similar to what is happening between the British conservatives and their nationalist rivals from the Independence Party, hopes would fade for future political and social tolerance and convergence in European societies because both parties in the UK are currently competing to win the votes of nationalist groups that are against foreign immigrants. The existing situation in France is such that it reminds one of the timeless story that Victor Hugo wrote so many years ago because the French society should now choose between Jean Valjean’s mantra of love for humanity and equality, or go for inspector Javert’s rigid adherence to abstract laws. Unfortunately, despite all the efforts made by moderate European leaders, far-right political forces that are against immigration have been gaining increasing ground in France and elsewhere in Europe and it seems the terror attack in Paris has pumped new blood in their bodies. This incident is also expected to have a strongly negative impact on the new wave that has started in Europe in support of the rights of Palestinians. On the other hand, the new situation can be considered a divine bounty for the rightist government of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

At present, both France and Europe are facing a decisive crossroads and the new path they choose will determine the future outlook of convergence in this continent. As a result, the terrorist attacks in Paris should be seen as something far more important than a simple terror attack. The big victim of the new situation is Muslim societies living in Europe as well as immigrants coming from the Middle East and Africa. Of course, despite their common image, more than 90 percent of those immigrants are secular or moderate people who have nothing in common with terrorist ideas of the founders of such Salafist groups such as Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. Under these circumstances, progressive, democrat and leftist political forces in Europe should play a more powerful role to thwart the increasing wave of xenophobia and islamophobia because their efforts and endeavors will be the only “obstacle on the way of further strengthening of rightist extremism in European countries.

This inhuman attack has been carried out by terrorists who have been under profound influence of fundamentalist and jihadist groups in Yemen, Libya, Iraq and Syria; the same groups that were previously hailed by the Western governments as fighters against dictatorships, especially against the dictatorial rule of the former Libyan tyrant, Muammar Qaddafi. The best measure that the leaders of France and other European leaders can take is to put the highest emphasis on the need to maintain national security and social tolerance. In the meantime, they should put their security focus on Salafist groups and those institutions that support terrorist ideas. At the same time, they should also take steps to reduce poverty and the sense of isolation that is rife among disillusioned young people living in their societies. They should also prevent European jihadist forces from joining their counterparts that are currently fighting in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen. The European leaders should stop using democratic claims to achieve their geopolitical goals through unconstructive interference in such critical regions as Middle East. In short, they should make a basic revision in their policies, which have only served to undermine international security during past years.

Key Words: Terrorism, Charlie Hebdo, France, Paris, Middle East, Europe, Extremist Far-Right Political Groups, jihadist Terrorism, Fundamentalist Islamic Ideas, Xenophobia, Islamophobia, Al-Qaeda, International Security, Zare’i-Qanavati

Source: Shargh Daily
ٰTranslated By: Iran Review.Org

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