How should Europe counter the IS?

After the most recent terrorist attacks in France and Germany the debate about how to combat the IS continues apace. Commentators focus on the radicalisation of Muslim youths and discuss how it can be prevented.

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The Irish Independent (IE) /

West's lack of values disappoints young Muslims

Western societies are marked by materialism and superficiality and have nothing to offer young people looking for a deeper meaning to life, the Irish Independent believes:

“Maybe they want a greater purpose than yet another new electronic gadget: maybe they seek an exemplar a little more high-minded than life among the Kardashians or some air-headed celebrity model they are expected to emulate? If we don't offer what Isil offers - a higher cause which some young people will want to serve - then we will lose the battle of values. We know that 'man cannot live by bread alone' and our obsession with economics perhaps overlooks the appeal that a visionary idea - however mistaken - can have for the young.” (GR) /

Security comes first in holiday season

After the attacks in France soldiers with automatic rifles are now patrolling French holiday destinations. That may put a damper on the fun but it's a must, the web portal Protagon believes:

“Isn't it appalling when helicopters circle above people's heads and patrol cars park beside the ice cream truck? Isn't it enough to spark a panic when heavily armed soldiers stroll among the naked bodies gleaming with suntan lotion? ... The fact is that every change that can heighten security is welcome. In Dunkerque, for example, the route of the procession [celebrating Mary's assumption into heaven] was changed. Wide avenues were avoided in favour of narrow streets, where attacks with a huge truck like the one in Nice - where 84 people were killed in the space of a few minutes - are impossible.”

The Times (GB) /

New school is model for combating extremism

Top scholars at the prestigious al-Azhar Muslim university in Cairo have presented proposals for reforms in the training of imams under which only graduates of a new, state-controlled school would be licensed to preach in mosques. This has the makings of a revolutionary project, The Times comments enthusiastically:

“Combating extremism is best done by religious authorities. Government attempts to police mosques, snoop on sermons or deradicalise alienated young men are rarely successful, as Britain has found to its cost. The council of mosques in Britain has already set up an admirable scheme to improve the quality of imam training. If al-Azhar can now do so for the broader Sunni world, Egypt may yet offer an effective way of protecting mainstream Islam against the ravages of extremism.”

Svenska Dagbladet (SE) /

Don't neglect "Generation Allah"

Society must take steps to ensure that children and youths are not lured into terrorism, Svenska Dagbladet urges:

“We must not underestimate the subculture that is now widespread among young people. It conveys a picture of the world that is diametrically opposed to our own and adopts violence as part and parcel of its struggle. This warning comes from the psychologist Ahmad Mansour, who works successfully in Berlin in the area of deradicalisation. He coined the term 'Generation Allah', referring in part to youths whose Salafist world view engenders terrorism. ... We must ask ourselves: what is society willing to do to prevent children from joining this new, destructive movement?”

Le Soir (BE) /

Terror-ridden Belgium must keep a cool head

A man of Algerian origin attacked and wounded two policewomen with a machete in the Belgian city of Charleroi on Saturday. He had no residence permit. But it would be wrong to suspect all immigrants of being IS sympathisers, Le Soir warns:

“It is in everyone's interest to keep a cool head. It's no secret that the Charleroi attacker was an illegal immigrant and should have left the county, so the topic of illegal immigration threatens to poison peaceful coexistence in the weeks and months to come. People without valid papers could be suspected of harbouring sympathies for the IS. Asylum seekers whose applications are rejected could be considered particularly dangerous. Mistrust and withdrawal could become widespread. The already widespread fears would be aggravated by a lack of humanity. We deserve better than that.”

La Stampa (IT) /

European defence is a pious wish

The EU must finally take part in the war against IS, the daily paper La Stampa demands:

“Terrorism can't be defeated in Nice, Munich, Istanbul or Dhaka. These places must defend themselves and try to limit the damage. … The war can only be won in [the IS's Syrian stronghold] Raqqa and [the Lybian IS stronghold] Sirte. … Rome is still hesitating in Libya even though in theory it claims to play a leading role. It is participating with a minimal contingent in Iraq, where at least it watches over the Mosul Dam. So Italy is doing something, albeit very little. The EU on the other hand, which is once again dreaming up initiatives for a 'common European defence' - at least on paper - is completely absent. All this is nothing but pious actionism as long as Europe doesn't start thinking about how it can participate in the war against IS. Only by joining this war can it destroy the control centre of the terrorism that has stained it with blood. That is 'European defence' - in the Mediterranean region.”

Le Figaro (FR) /

Only stable states can help against terror

The territorial losses will have little effect on the IS as long as it benefits from the political instability of the countries in question, Le Figaro comments:

“Battles have been won, yes, but the fight against the Islamist Hydra is far from over. Because the anarchy that rules in Libya, Iraq and Syria allows the IS soldiers to go underground and change their tactics. Instead of presenting combat troops they will increasingly act as kamikazes in city centres - like the al-Qaeda terrorists. The attack in early July in Baghdad which claimed around 320 lives was one of the worst in the history of Iraq. Terror will predominate as long as these countries remain politically unstable. Building true states and putting an end to terror is the huge challenge facing the international community.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Europe doesn't have a plan

In the face of terrorism, war in the Middle East and the refugee crisis Europe is paralysed by helplessness, theology professor Michał Wojciechowski comments in an opinion piece in Rzeczpospolita:

“Now - at the height of all these conflicts - Europe's actions appear unplanned and defensive. It doesn't know how to react either to the war in its close proximity or the influx of migrants. And time is running out for the continent. This problem has its roots in the fact that many of the democratically elected politicians simply aren't good. All they can do is make irresponsible promises. They just want to make a good impression. Other reasons are the multi-culti ideology as well as politicians who are focussed solely on ensuring that their behaviour is always politically correct.”

Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

Sarkozy wants to sacrifice rule of law

Over 10,000 potential Islamist terror suspects have been tagged with a "fiche S", or "S card", an indicator for individuals considered a serious threat to national security. Opposition leader Nicolas Sarkozy has called for the arrest of all such terror suspects. A frightening prospect, Dagens Nyheter writes:

“Jailing people who have not been found guilty of any crime is against the law and associated with other forms of government than democracy. The proposal would already be bad enough if it came from Marine Le Pen of the Front National. But it comes from the former president and head of the conservative party, who wants to run in the upcoming presidential elections. ... The fact that in one of the biggest countries in Europe a presidential election could take place in less than a year in which one of the main candidates represents a far-right party and the other has no respect for the principles of the rule of law is worrying, to say the least.”

Le Courrier (CH) /

Anti-IS coalition adds fuel to the fire

Airstrikes carried out on July 18 and 19 by the international anti-IS coalition left several civilians dead. But only on July 27 did the alliance launch investigations to determine responsibility. This sort of behaviour only strengthens the enemy, warns Le Courier:

“Eight days after the events the alliance, which is made up of ten or so countries, among them the US, France, Britain and several Gulf states, still seemed not to know which planes had dropped the bombs. ... Be that as it may, the myth of surgical airstrikes is remarkably long-lived. How many of the 770 bombings of Syria and Iraq which France has undertaken since September 2105 have hit civilians? How many of their family members, friends and neighbours support IS now in order to take revenge against 'Western aggression'? How many fanatics living in the West will use this as a pretext to carry out terrorist attacks? History has shown that an acceleration in the logic of war only strengthens the terrorist demon.”

El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

Less obsession with security, more European values

In the fight against terror Europe must avoid making the same mistake as the US and allow security mania to compromise democracy, El Periódico de Catalunya warns:

“In Europe there has not been just one 9/11. After the attack on Charlie Hebdo and last November's attacks in Paris François Hollande delivered speeches that could have come from George Bush. France launched a series of measures that are very similar to Bush's Patriot Act. … Since 9/11 our only response to jihadism has been to beef up security and military operations. Europe is afraid and is copying the US, with the same result: the more obsessed with security we become, the less secure the world becomes. Europe must not give in to this fear and betray its values. All due (and certainly great) emphasis should be placed on security, but given the results so far perhaps it's time to give politics in the broadest sense of the word a chance in the fight against jihadism. If Europe ceases to be Europe we will have been defeated.”

L'Hebdo (CH) /

Terrorists are ordinary criminals

Terrorists are nothing more than ordinary criminals, and the French government should treat them as such, Guy Sorman recommends on his blog on L'Hebdo:

“It is high time that the French government started seeing that we are not 'at war' with Islam or Islamism but that we are dealing with ordinary criminals who are using jihad as a smokescreen. ... All so-called jihadists in France and Belgium have committed crimes in the past, had been arrested by the police and were suffering from psychiatric problems that were recognised by their families and doctors. So it makes no sense to have young soldiers patrolling the beaches and the streets of Paris, as Hollande's government is so foolishly doing. What the fight against this new banditry calls for are previous levels of surveillance, the coordination of police and judiciary and the permanent imprisonment of dangerous convicts.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Method, not madness

These terrorists are not mentally disturbed, they are part of a political-religious plan to destroy the West, explains war correspondent for La Stampa Domenico Quirico, who was taken hostage by the IS in 2013:

“Unfortunately jihadism is not a clinical illness that can be left in the hands of the psychiatrist. It is a political, religious and military problem. Treating the problem depends on making the right diagnosis. … After five years in which the global attack of totalitarian Islam has spread from Syria and Iraq to the very heart of our cities a persistent ignorance of the nature of this enemy still prevails that drives me to despair! … The jihadists, even the most lonely and excluded of them, are instruments of a political-religious project that aims to create a theocracy on earth. These people are willing to make any sacrifice, death included, for the sake of this soap opera of divine immanence. This is brutal politics, totalitarian religion, but not insanity.”

Právo (CZ) /

Zero tolerance for criminal migrants

After the series of attacks in recent weeks people are increasingly losing trust in the ability of governments to ensure public safety, writes Právo, calling for a stronger state:

“If the Europeans do not want to become sacrificial lambs they must start demanding a zero-tolerance policy from their governments. Aimed at those migrants who refuse to comply with European laws. ... This policy would also be in the interests of all those migrants who come with the will and willingness to integrate. ... It is just not acceptable that someone who is prosecuted and imprisoned for serious reasons is then - as in the case of the murdered French priest - released into house arrest. In the case of risk-migrants we cannot dismiss even minor crimes. They could be the prelude to a terrorist attack.” (BG) /

Don't allow Muslims in at all

The security authorities in France and Germany are not cracking down hard enough on potential terrorists, web portal rails after the recent attacks in these two countries:

“Most of the attackers were already known to the police because of previous offences before they committed their bloody deeds. … This gives the impression that such individuals go unpunished in France and Germany. … And that in turn is the result of the fact that migrants from the Middle East and North Africa are granted the same rights [as the local population] without having the same obligations. … In the Visegrád states and especially Poland and Hungary things are different. The police crack down on them not after but before innocent victims die. ... These countries are refusing to take in Muslim refugees and there are no terrorist attacks there. The Visegrád Group could serve as a model for EU reforms, if it isn't already too late, that is.”

Tportal (HR) /

Terrorism comes from the individual

Terrorism does not have it roots in religion or nationality but is always the result of decisions of individuals, Vuk Perišić explains on

“There are human beings who are willing to sacrifice their own lives for something they hold as an ideal. This form of self-destructiveness has nothing to do with Islam, just as the suicidal decision of the German voters in the autumn of 1932 had nothing to do with 'national character'. In both cases we are dealing with a mental disorder, but above all a decision in which an individual agrees to his own death or suffering. The only difference is that in the case of terrorism death is immediate, while the lives of those who vote for Nazis or nationalists rot slowly.”