Terror in Spain: how to respond

After last week's attack in Barcelona which left 13 dead and roughly 120 wounded, the police have shot several suspected terrorists and arrested others, while still others are on the run. Commentators look into the background of the terror and suggest measures for preventing such attacks in the future.

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Večernji list (HR) /

Lacking integration is fuelling violence

After the Barcelona attacks the Spaniards should start giving serious thought to their integration policy, warns Večernji list, pointing to similar examples elsewhere in Europe:

Molenbeek in Brussels or Saint-Denis in Paris didn't happen overnight. … France simply neglected the first generations of migrants from its former colonies. They were housed in the suburbs and used as cheap labour for jobs no one else wanted to do. The British have done much the same thing. The new generations have grown up surrounded by poverty, anger and discontent, and have turned to petty crime and radical preachers. … In these milieus they felt useful and accepted: part of something. The problem is that that something has the goal of destroying everything that opposes its ideology.”

Eesti Päevaleht (EE) /

The West chose to ignore the danger

The West took too long to recognise the threat posed by Islamist terror, Toomas Alatalu writes in Eesti Päevaleht:

“With hindsight it's clear that Western civilization on which war has been declared has underestimated Islamic State and the caliphate. These quickly became a painful internal problem because unhappy Muslims in Europe and the US did not hesitate to obey the call of the caliphate. An unprecedented number of fighters going to war and coming back coincided with an enormous wave of refugees - the result of terror in the Middle East and North Africa.”

El Mundo (ES) /

Morocco must assume more responsibility

Spain's southern neighbour Morocco needs to cooperate more in the fight against terror, El Mundo argues:

“The attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils have confirmed how much of a threat Moroccan jihadism poses to Spain. … As in France and Belgium, the proportion of Moroccans among the extremists is far higher than those from other Muslim states. Many of them are Moroccans who fought in Syria and Iraq for Islamic State and are now living in Europe. … This shows how vital it is that the Moroccan authorities collaborate closely with Europe and in particular, owing to its proximity, with Spain, to combat the terrorist barbarism. This is a common threat that endangers the stability of Morocco itself.”

Diena (LV) /

Prevent vehicles from being used as weapons

Motor vehicles are increasingly being used as lethal weapons. Diena looks at ways of preventing this:

“Car manunfacturers and urban planners face a challenge. Automatic brakes that are activated when cars comes dangerously close to pedestrians have existed for some time. Now every car is to be fitted with this new braking system, just as they are with saftey belts. Moreover, we should deny trucks access to city centres. Vehicles for deliveries and rubbish disposal should be downsized to adapt to the new situation.”

taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

All Spain is suffering with Catalonia

The attack won't fail to have repercussions for the planned referendum on Catalonia's independence, the taz is convinced:

“One thing is clear: in its reaction to the attacks the autonomous government showed that Catalonia really can function as a country. The autonomous police who are conducting the investigations are doing an excellent job. ... And all that on their own initiative. This undoubtably demonstrates that an independent Catalonia is possible. Nevertheless there's one thing the Catalans should bear in mind: the solidarity coming from the rest of Spain is enormous. All across the country the people will take part in a minute of silence today to show their solidarity. The Spanish are shocked, regardless of their culture or language. They regard Catalonia as part of Spain. ... It would be worthwhile to try to create a Spain in which everyone has a place and everyone can work together to counter future threats.”

Libération (FR) /

Murderous strategy repelled by democracy

The IS won't be able to achieve its goal, Libération explains:

“Our hearts bleed. But the resolve is firm, as the Spanish authorities have just announced. The wave of crimes committed by the IS in recent months has led to a contradictory but steadfast conclusion: despite its absolute fanaticism the IS is not successful. The strategic recapture of the areas occupied by the jihadists continues inexorably. … The populations targeted by the killers have refused to change their way of life. … Despite the bloodshed, despite the deaths, despite the succession of tragedies that have stained the continent with blood, the stupid, barbaric strategy of the murderers is repelled by the powerful resistance of democracy.”

La Vanguardia (ES) /

Calmly defeating terrorism

Society's calm response is a victory against the terrorism, the Barcelona-based newspaper La Vanguardia writes:

“Thirteen months ago the world looked on in horror [at the attack in] Nice. ... Berlin, London and Stockholm followed. Using vehicles as instruments of terror is no longer a novelty but has become a habit. Jihadism wants us all to feel like potential victims and to be afraid that everyday objects could be used as weapons. But the only thing the terrorists have achieved is a calm revulsion against any form of violence and deep solidarity with those affected. That is a first victory against terrorism.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

A primitive ideology must not rule over us

Terrorism in Europe will come to an end at some point in the not too distant future, Corriere della Sera believes:

“In just over a year there have been eight attacks all using the same method: a vehicle driven into a crowd at high speed, moving down people in its path. The murderers have no imagination and we have no memory. This state of denial is human and understandable, but we can’t afford it. ... A big continent like Europe mustn’t allow itself to be intimidated by the attacks of a primitive ideology that is losing territory and support. On days like this we must once again recognise this clearly and insistently. … But there is do doubt: the day when all this will be over is not far off. But unfortunately we don't know how close it is.”

De Morgen (BE) /

Barcelona lives on

The attack in Barcelona shows that there is hardly any place that is safe from terrorists anymore, De Morgen warns:

“The fact that Las Ramblas, a well-protected zone, has become the sad scene of such an attack confirms that in this open and free society hardly any public place is completely safe. A Christmas market, a teenage idol's concert, and now a shopping promenade for tourists: for this type of terrorists there is no hierarchy of targets anymore. … And this attack has provided a further confirmation: the banality of the weapon lowers the bar for other potential mass murderers and makes the task of protection particularly difficult. … But in the end it is another lesson from Paris, Brussels or London that stands out most in Barcelona: the city lives on; society is not broken.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

Cars are the easiest weapons for terror

We will have to get used to the idea of attackers being able to plough into crowds with vehicles, Jutarnji list warns:

“The tighter the security measures, the more often vehicles will be used to carry out attacks. Because you don't need explosives or training for that, as the FBI pointed out. There's no need for terrorist cells or a structured organization - all it takes is a single fanatic. This is a weapon that the control centres of terror have counted on for a long time now. … Between Chapel Hill in 2006 and Barcelona in 2017, 26 attacks have been carried out using vehicles. Only in Charlottesville was the attacker a Catholic, all the others were Muslims.”