Author: Irina KHALTURINA
The terrorist attacks in France on October 16 and 29 and in Austria on November 2 are not something new and unexpected for Europe. The same methods, the same group of terrorists... We still remember the terrorist attack in the Bataclan concert hall, the deaths under the wheels of a truck in Nice and the murder of a priest in the Church of Rouen, as well as the events of January 2015, when two armed militants broke into the office of Charlie Hebdo claiming the lives of 12 people...
The reaction of the Muslim communities of the EU countries and the Muslim world in general to the cartoons of Prophet Muhammad has been thoroughly documented, studied and, as an exemplary example, is included in all manuals on human rights, including freedom of speech, religion, or the rhetoric of hate.
Also, we were not at all surprised by the reaction of European politicians, most of the media outlets, and ordinary users of social networks. In general, it was well summed up by the President of the Council of Europe, Charles Michel, who twitted that the crimes were directed against "life and our (European, R+) human values." Mr. Michel literally repeated the words of French President Emmanuel Macron about the attack "on our values, on freedom, on the opportunity to freely believe in our land and not succumb to terror." Then, as expected, there were calls to make the fight against Islamism a European priority and to take concrete actions - to close mosques, tighten migration rules, deport suspicious persons, and impose restrictions on the freedom of movement. “I am shocked by the terrorist attack in Vienna. Islamist terror is our common enemy. The fight against these killers and their supporters is our common fight,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.
We can see that what is called the ‘Islamist terror’ is clearly opposed to the ‘European values’. The paradox is that, despite the huge number of different expert opinions, scientific papers, articles and political statements, it is difficult to understand what the Europeans are actually going to fight for, since the ‘European values’ seem to be a rather vague concept.
It is clear that the notorious idea of multiculturalism in Europe suffered a complete collapse, but the way it collapses into fragments is a very remarkable moment. For example, the family of Anzorov, who decapitated the history teacher Samuel Paty, ended up in France thanks to the status of political refugees. Anzorov has officially lived in France for the past 12 years. Brahim Assawi, who attacked visitors of the Catholic cathedral in Nice, had documents issued by the Italian Red Cross. Fejzullai Kujtim, who shot four and wounded 23 more people in Vienna, was an Austrian citizen (ethnic Albanian from North Macedonia). That is, all three ended up in Europe in a completely legal way. However, now no one is trying to understand why the young people find resort in radical movements. What they think is so awful in such a safe and well-fed Europe, where they were born or lived? Why does the EU migration policy fail? Why do the migrants fail to assimilate to the European society? Why are these people actually forced physically and morally to live in various ghettos? After all, someone has to be held responsible for ineffective integration tools, right?
According to local media, all three terrorists - Kujtim, Anzorov and Assawi, did not become terrorists out of the blue. They did not hide their hobbies for radical ideas. Kujtim was even sent to prison in 2019 for being one of 90 Muslim Austrians who were about to leave for Syria and join ISIS. But six months later, after undergoing a rehabilitation program, he was released. In October 2020, Kujtim and his accomplice tried to buy ammunition for AK-47 in Slovakia, after which the Slovak police warned the Office for the Protection of Constitution, but this warning had no consequences. And these facts raise quite serious questions that the security agencies and special services should answer. What else should Kujtim have done to be under surveillance of security agents responsible for the safety of Austrian citizens? As the example of the notorious Brejvik (by the way, not a Muslim) shows, the way the justice is implemented in Europe is strange. If the Europeans do not see this, then it is quite apparent for external observers.
Moreover, even with the all open sources of information, it is still unclear whether the Europeans are facing a series of well-planned terrorist attacks, or whether we witness a bunch of isolated cases of radicalization of young people. So far, it looks like the latter, with the trigger being the social and economic problems of many migrant (and not only) families in European countries. There are already cases of breakdowns associated with the search for self-identification, with attempts at self-assertion. This is very similar to the cases in the US, when schoolchildren and students kill their peers and teachers in schools and colleges, or to the cases in Russia when soldiers shoot their fellows in the army. It does not matter whether these people, if they survive the arrest, are diagnosed as sane or not. After all, it is clear that they do this clearly being in some kind of conflict with the society they live in. The small number of Kujtim’s victims also hints at his inexperience and obvious mental problems. According to the Guardian, the assault in Vienna was committed using a machine gun "indiscriminately on the groups of people sitting at the tables." If Kujtim were a trained terrorist, there could be dozens of victims. By the way, in the case of Brejvik, this is exactly what happened, although he, too, did not seem to be prepared. But then what does terrorism and Islam have to do with it? Radical ideas, in this case related to religion, are just a form, a way of demonstrating the aggression, which is no different from any other type of aggression... Also, French and Austrian criminals do not match a classical image of a terrorist well known to Europeans. Or have they already forgotten the freedom fighters of Ulster, the IRA, the Basque and Corsican separatists, the leftist extremists of the German Red Army Faction? After all, terrorism did not come to Europe with Islam, which is also worth remembering. In 1979, when, perhaps, the parents of Anzorov, Assawi and Kujtim were born, there were about 800 terrorist attacks in Europe, most of which were committed by separatists from France, Spain and Great Britain.
Yet it is strange to hear the EU citizens blaming the Islam as a cause of such cruel acts as cutting off the heads of its victims. After all, the two world wars were not waged by Muslim countries at all, and it is sometimes simply difficult to believe in the crimes committed by Europeans in their African, Asian and Middle Eastern colonies. For example, the list of former French colonies takes more than one line. Moreover, some of the countries that France has exploited for centuries have still not recovered from this. Haiti, where the French rule lasted from 1625 to 1804, was considered one of the richest regions of the world and at the same time the most brutal slave colony. It now has the lowest human development index in the Americas. Also, according to a number of scientists and politicians, the conquest of Algeria by France and the subsequent wars (after the Second World War and the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) are nothing more than genocide. In July 2020, the remains of 24 Algerian fighters and Resistance leaders who fought against the French colonial forces in the 19th century were returned to Algeria. They took part in the 1849 uprising. Then the fighters were killed and beheaded, and their skulls were taken to Paris as spoils of war and kept in the Musee de l'Homme. You may argue that these are events of a distant past, and one should not judge the present by them. Perhaps... But is it right that some states are trying to build their policies, to justify their aggression and occupation of foreign lands by the events of the past, especially when these events are falsified? And there are those who believe in this... in Europe too.
But Europe has no choice but to live with its past and present. According to the poll conducted by Ifop Institute of Public Opinion, 57% of French Muslims under the age of 25 believe that Sharia law is more important than the French law. This figure has grown by 10% compared to 2016, and this fact shocked many. But in vain... I think everything is very simple. It's just that politicians and officials who readily accepted migrants from the societies following the traditional religious ways of life, should have, at least, known that these people are unlikely to find the cartoons of their religious shrines funny. It doesn't matter whether they are right or wrong in terms of the so-called European values or the concept of human rights. It is important what is reasonable and what is not, at least for reasons of their own safety. Is it so difficult to adopt a law prohibiting any insults to religion? Personally, I do not see any threat to my freedoms in this case, but someone's lives can be saved. Respect for religion, for the memory of the innocent people (in November 2015, Charlie Hebdo published two cartoons of the crash of the Russian A321 aircraft over the Sinai Peninsula), the desire to preserve dignity and honor are just the foundations of humanity that do not require any proof or justification.
In general, common sense is a good and useful thing, which allows you to look at things from different angles. For example, at the same Charlie Hebdo promoted as a beacon of freedom of speech, as a symbol of democracy and resistance to terrorism and everything that fetters the human spirit and mind. It can be an effective tool working for someone's interest by painting an image of a collective enemy, taking half the world to streets, making the special services and the police run. Or it can be a business project aimed at making more profit thanks to its scandalous cartoons. Of course, I don't want to hint at anything, but if you are curious, check how the income of a small weekly magazine has increased after all the scandals and terrorist attacks...
However, there is another, even more interesting scandal in Charlie Hebdo’s track record, which hit the media, but did not cause such a massive discussion. On July 2, 2008, Charlie Hebdo published cartoons by the 79-year-old artist Maurice Cinet, an atheist and communist, making fun of the son of the then French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Jean Sarkozy. The cartoonist sniped at the possible conversion of Jean Sarkozy to Judaism after his marriage to the daughter of the founder of the Darty chain of household appliances and electronics stores. Charlie Hebdo's editor at the time, Philippe Wahl, called the publication "petty and deceitful." Cinet was asked to withdraw his cartoon, and when he did not, he was fired on charges of anti-Semitism. Cinet's work was criticized by the French Minister of Culture Christine Albanel, who called the picture "a reflection of ancient prejudices that must disappear once and for all." In this case, I completely agree with Albanel. One should not make fun at anyone's religious beliefs. And again, this is very simple, requires no proof, and very reasonable. It doesn't violate freedom of speech or any other freedoms.
The situation with migrants and the emergence of terrorists from among them has become a litmus test of how Europe lost track on its values. And to get out of the maze, one does not need to hang labels at all. All it requires is thinking about the consequences, sometimes remembering the past, abandon double standards and stop using human rights and ‘protecting values’ as a geopolitical tool. During the Vienna attacks, ethnic Turks Recep Tayyip Gultekin and Mikayil Ozer carried two wounded, including a policeman, from the scene. At the same time, Gultekin was wounded in the leg. Osama Khaled Judah, a 23-year-old Palestinian, rescued a police officer after being seriously injured by giving him first aid and escorting him to an ambulance despite intense shooting. Common sense and empathy know no religious or national differences. These are the real values.