IS converts and their children: a litmus test for the EU

Turkey has begun deporting people of European origin who are suspected of having fought for the IS. This has triggered protest, as has the fact that some states are refusing to grant citizenship to the children of IS supporters or allow them entry. Europe is shirking its responsibilities and Erdoğan is taking advantage of the situation, commentators conclude.

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Politiken (DK) /

Denmark becoming a banana republic

Last week Denmark's government introduced a bill under which Denmark can deny citizenship to the children of Danish IS supporters born outside the country. Politiken is incensed:

“There was a time when it was taken for granted that Denmark protected universal human rights and respected its international obligations. ... Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has declared that the conventions against statelessness are protecting 'the wrong people' with regard to those who fought in Syria. ... By definition, conventions are meant to protect everyone. The rights enshrined in them are universal and do not depend on whether the prime minister likes certain individuals or finds them worthy of protection. This is precisely what distinguishes a constitutional state from a banana republic.”

The Guardian (GB) /

Don't punish children for their parents' crimes

The Guardian is appalled that London recently scrapped a plan to bring more than 60 minors who are the children of IS supporters back to Britain:

“Those who joined Isis, women as well as men, should be punished. Their children should not. It shames the UK that Isis's downfall, the closure of a vicious chapter which should have heralded progress, appears instead to have hardened attitudes in such a way as to place civilised values in doubt. It is one of the UK government's first duties to protect blameless British children from harm.”

Slate (FR) /

Erdoğan showing Europe its weak points

Turkey's refusal to keep the Western IS fighters reminds Slate of the photo of the drowned refugee boy Alan Kurdi:

“The small Syrian boy, a victim of Europe's rejection, and the Western jihadists with a one-way ticket: two very different images, one as dreadful as the other. To a certain extent they contradict each other, but in reality they represent two sides of the same coin: the decision of our governments to outsource the refugee crisis, and the decision to shift the responsibility for detaining and sentencing 'our' jihadists onto others far away from us. The instrumentalisation of these two images by the Turkish president highlights the weaknesses and limitations of the liberal European democracies with which President Erdoğan is determined to break.”

De Standaard (BE) /

Using jihadists as a threat

Ankara is using the IS fighters to exert pressure on the EU, De Standard comments:

“Turkey knows that people in Europe shudder at the thought of taking in returning IS fighters. It hopes to achieve its goals by threatening them with this scenario. In this way Ankara aims to secure international funds for construction projects for refugees in northern Syria. ... The Turkish government is also hoping for the international isolation of the Kurdish YPG militia and the PKK. ... What's more, the EU only recently approved a legal framework for further sanctions against Turkish gas drilling off the coast of Cyprus. Turkey is really angry about that. ... After the military offensive, the message to the EU is clear: Show us consideration, because you have no say on the ground in Syria.”

Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

Europe can't just bury it's head in the sand

It's not fair to give Turkey all the blame, Der Tagesspiegel writes:

“Certainly, the leadership in Ankara is acting ruthlessly by presenting the Europeans with a fait accompli - the issue could have been worked out in cooperation with the EU. But at the end of the day that's really only a question of style. ... One one issue Turkey is right: this is about European IS extremists, not Turkish ones. The Europeans can't simply shirk responsibility by burying their heads in the sand and hoping that someone else will solve the problem, or by simply expatriating European IS members. So it's time for Germany and Europe to put a plan together.” (IE) /

Returners bring valuable information

Lisa Smith, a native of Ireland who travelled to Syria three years ago to join the IS, is to be deported to Ireland from Turkey in the next few days. Her return is an opportunity, writes:

“From an intelligence perspective, Smith is potentially of high value to the authorities here and in Britain. As per Isis custom and practice, Smith lived among English-speaking Jihadis from Ireland and the UK during her time in the caliphate. She therefore, potentially, knows the identity of dozens of Jihadis from Ireland and Britain, who, critically at this point, have sprung from captivity by Turkey's 'Operation Peace Spring'. Many, like Smith, will have made it to Turkish territory and, unlike her, will be returning home by their own devices, under the intelligence radar.”