Sunday, January 11, 2015

Beyond the March of Millions

Every legitimate polity needs to step forward, take responsibility and need to make an emphatic statement of its resolve to meet its challengers head on in times of crisis. That is what Millions of Parisians and French did today accompanied by panorama of 40+ heads of states and national rulers. What the march has achieved is to provide people's mandate and legitimacy as France, Europe and greater world embark upon a sustained fight against terrorism in the name of Islam.

Why is terrorism in the name of Islam flaring up so much in recent years? If one attempts to run down chain of global events and traces possible causes, few things come to mind.

First and foremost, in some basic sense this is a standard law and order issue because terror in France is all perpetrated by French born citizens living in France. Part of causes for rise of Islamic Terror in Europe are due to domestic policies Europe has practiced so far. Here is the money quote from Paul Mason in The Guardian

"The only common culture that will survive the onslaught that IS and its allies are planning for Europe has to be built on two principles: first, religious tolerance and respect for migrants’ rights under international law; second, the aggressive pursuit of secularism, rationalism and individual liberty. The liberal centre and the European left have this weakness in common: they find the tolerance bit easier than the aggressive fight for humanism and modernity. The collapse of the old left’s economic project, and the current collapse of the economic project of the centre, has sapped their will to fight for the culture they believe in."

Today's Europe in most ways would not have any guilt or moral burden of past colonial imperialism over Muslim world. But if at societal level any such burden is felt, then throwing 'welfare' Euros and Pounds to Islamic Migrants and their descendants while ignoring failures to assimilate those Muslims fully in French and European Life is not going to address any of these past burdens. Resultant alienation of Muslims in France and Europe gives rise to all these problems. As like Ummah needs to demand why criticizing and depicting Islam Founder Muhammad is blasphemy and why such laws are passed; Europeans need to actively pursue - as well as demand - assimilation of Muslim population in greater European ethos. 

During immediate years after WWII, Europe enjoyed torrential growth as it was busy rebuilding the war torn continent. But after the Oil Shock of 1973, Europe never seemed to have achieved sustained accelerated growth period. Germany got bogged down in the integration, then Euro came. Brief period of bright years came to Europe, followed by global recessions induced by 9/11 and 2008 American financial recession. While European born Muslims were growing into young adults looking for jobs; Europe adopted misguided economic policy of Austerity. So European economic policy is not generating jobs, but throws welfare Euros and Pounds while not tracking hatred spewing Imams and would be terrorists travelling to Islamic hot spots world over; no wonder danger of home grown terror increases.

Secondly, though France in particular is active in responding to upheavals outside of Europe; in general Europe has been slow to challenges thrown by militancy in Arab and Islamic world. It almost seems like European leaders think passing symbolic resolutions backing Palestine is all that they need to do so far as responding to outside Europe challenges. After Arab Spring, many middle-east Islamic countries are still fertile grounds for militants. The biggest problem is of course Syria and rise of ISIS. ISIS in Syria got a boast by the failed adjacent state of Iraq which gave it vast expanse of Mesopotamia to advance the nihilism of terror. This new out growth of a violent creed is turning out to be the channel for festering dormant resentment against Europe and feeling of left behind among many misguided youths of Muslims in Europe.

Sure more co-ordination, information sharing, new laws to track traffic of European born folks to jihadi hot-spots of the world; all that is good and  necessary. Whatever more needs to be done, West needs to undertake that. But the question remains - how do you politically challenge these forces of terror? Can there be any other case apart from joining the fight against ISIS? Hoping that if we let ISIS live, they would not disturb Western societies; one wonders how credible that reasoning is.

Anti-immigration and xenophobia are distractions from real challenges here. Hope is French people and Europe at large would 'see through' politics of National Front. But that is just one part, what is needed is to built upon overwhelming public will displayed today to take on all those inside and outside of Europe who want to kill Europeans just because West does not want to go back to Medieval times.

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