The latest wave of terrorist attacks in Spain and Finland occurred at a time when Europe is enjoying its last weeks of a particularly hot summer season. They came when Europeans are proudly applying successful ways and means to get their economies back into shape, the main aim being the establishment of a stronger economic basis on which the future prosperity of the Continent can depend. The statistics show it, the mood of the electorates have shown it, and the situation demands it.
A Europe highly aware of its social obligations is emerging, deadset against the populist views that have been exposed for what they are – short-lived negative strategies that eventually only implode. International terrorism is today’s common enemy, certainly not a convenient weapon to be wielded for political gain, a fact that is being gradually recognised all over the democratic political spectrum.
Events in Spain, especially, have shown the resilience of the European ideal. That such atrocities against innocent people enjoying themselves quietly in a major popular city should occur in a country that has, for centuries, been a haven for all types of religious adherents, gives an ironic twist to the overall sad picture of world terrorism. Southern Spain in particular has a remarkable history of inter-religiousharmony before wars suddenly became “holy”. Anyone who has visited such places as Seville, Cordoba, Granada and several other Andalucian towns, will vouch for their vast, rich heritage of religious monuments and buildings.
Even more paradoxical is the realisation that the recent terror in Spain has come from within a community that has for long been part of a highly-successful integration process, as the massive anti-terrorism, pro-peace protest that Muslims in Spain held in Barcellona a few days ago amply showed.
The sharp, shock thrust at the heart of welcoming, pluralist Spain took place at the very same time when this great Iberian nation has suddenly become the focus of mass immigration from North Africa. The shocking number of immigrants and refugees seeking access into Europe via Spain’s stretched tentacles on the North African coast and across the Mediterranean has not exhausted or diminished that country’s determination to help save lives, a process that has also seen other countries, like Italy, Malta and Greece undergoing the same socio-economic pressures in their observance of European Union agreements.
It is not easy to comprehend the mind of the terrorist who plunges into the depths of hate, death and destruction. Both the European citizen and the European politician have been caught in a quandary as to why their open borders and multi-cultural attitudes have been so miserably abused by the few to the detriment of the law-abiding majorities irrespective of their religious or non-religious allegiances.
Blaming immigrants, immigaration and open borders for the terrorist acts in our cities comes easy for many – particularly to right wing extemists who see a terrorist in every poor child plucked away form a decent family life to face the perils of an unsure journey to relative safety. Yet, doing so will only mean that we are taking our eyes away from the ball, because many of these terrorists are EU citiznes like you and me, and their evil deeds are cooked in our own back gardens. Of course, boats of those who are genuinely running away from the terror and devastion in their own countries could harbour persons with terrrorism in mind. But this is too simple a deduction, too obvious for comfort, because determined terrorists will fly first class to their doomed destinations to carry out their ‘holy’ deadly missions. They have the funds. In the mean time home grown terrorists plan their missions of death camouflaged behind the blame on immigration. And what do we get? We get the tragedies which have hit Paris, Nice, Brussels, Barcellona, Turku and other cities, executed by EU citizens like you, me and that nice Joey next door!
But rather than going down on bended knees and giving up on long-treasured values and aspirations, Europe has rightly chosen to defend them, to exploit them in the face of aversion from within and without. The reaction to the recent spate of terrorist acts has been a re-connection of all peace-loving forces, with EU president Jean-Claude Juncker pledging to put the EU’s resources at the disposal of Barcelona’s emergency and security services following the outrage which “deliberately targeted those enjoying life and sharing time with family and friends”.
Europe will not be subdued. It will hit back at the terrorists, as we have seen in Spain and other European capitals. Yes, precautious measures will have to be taken as the security of innocent people everywhere is a priority, and yes, there will have to be inconveniences, but the spirit of the people will not be undermined. Europe is not at war with itself, but with those dark forces that threaten its well-being, an affluent existence that was only achieved through much sacrifice over the centuries, including two horrible world wars.
Europe’s achievements form the basis of today’s society, one that thrives on the principles of liberty and peaceful coexistence. If you take any of that, it would be back to primeval days. Europeans don’t want to go there. They have lived it and know only too well what it means. It is why Europe will not be, must not be, subdued.
The Malta Independent 25.08.17