Can terrorism be prevented?

After the terrorist attacks in Catalonia that left 15 people dead, security services have shot the prime suspect. Both Spain and Finland, where another attacker killed two people on Friday, are still reeling from the shock. Europe's media have very different answers to the question of how to deal with terror and whether it can be prevented at all.

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Večer (SI) /

Teach people to love, not hate

Rather than focussing on the consequences of the attacks we should examine the reasons for the hatred that engendered them, Večer urges:

“The South African freedom fighter Nelson Mandela was convinced that no child is born with a sense of hatred. Not against a certain skin colour and not against a certain religion. This is why people can be taught to love and respect others. In Barcelona people were on the streets one day after the attack. … With their presence they protect the city from right-wing extremists. From those who came to spread hatred against those who were perhaps their neighbours but belonged to the wrong religion. Many people know how easy it is to teach hate. And there are many who insist they never want to learn to feel it. But we will have to learn to explain why hate doesn't help.”

Le Point (FR) /

Democracy is powerless against terror

Democracy has few means at its disposal in the fight against terror, Moroccan-born writer Tahar Ben Jelloun writes in Le Point:

“There's no way of penetrating the minds of people who plan massacres. They're impenetrable, and only accept a single thought: sacrificing one's own life while killing those who think differently. Every effort at fighting this sort of radicalism is doomed to failure, because terrorists and educators don't speak the same language, don't live on the same planet and have no points of intersection. ... These people wear their deaths slung over their shoulders, like a sign of a different, better life. The fight against them is for that reason futile, as democracy lacks the means to fight this new, unprecedented form of terrorism.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Muslim communities must do more

Islamic communities represent seven percent of Europe's population but they play virtually no role in the fight against terror, jurist Sabino Cassese complains in Corriere della Sera:

“Shouldn't the Muslim communities be doing more by adopting forms of self-government that can hinder terrorist attacks? And shouldn't the national governments and the EU also be doing more to improve the ties between religious communities and the secular section of society? Don't both sides face an educational and peacemaking task, in order to assauge at least part of the 'anger of the Muslim masses' [the term used by Islam scholar Bernard Lewis]?”

Magyar Hírlap (HU) /

The EU must finally wake up

For the pro-government daily Magyar Hírlap the recent attacks highlight the failures of the EU's refugee policy:

“In Brussels nameless bureaucrats follow in the footsteps of burned-out politicians, each one as small-minded as the next. Decision-making in the Union amounts to nothing more than phrase-mongering, moral cowardice and shirking responsibility. The sorry state of the EU can be seen in its impotence faced with the refugee crisis and terrorism. ... After the terrorist attack in Barcelona the mantra 'We are not afraid' rang out from all sides. But the people are afraid. What they should be saying is 'We will defend Europe!' That would be true European grit, instead of forced loyalty to foolhardy, destructive decisions from Brussels like the refugee quotas. Europe, wake up and smell the coffee!”

El País (ES) /

A loud noise drowns out the facts

All too often the media coverage after dramatic events paints a false picture of the situation or creates more confusion, El País admonishes:

“When a flooding disaster strikes, the first thing that tends to be in short supply is tap water. In the same way, when a big story hits the media, there tends to be a shortage of usable information, of truth, of journalism. The communication channels start bubbling over and the noise they generate - above all in social media - is so loud that it drowns out the facts. … In the coverage of attacks like that in Barcelona, the laws of immediacy mean that quantity takes precedent over quality. But, as US media expert Jeff Harvis points out, it's a mistake to constantly present different versions of the same piece of news instead of concentrating on the news that is of real value and service to the community.”