Attacks in European capitals are meant to destabilise the foreign policy of countries like Great Britain, Germany, and France. Even Italy’s "neutral" position does not guarantee immunity. Dealing with immigration must be part of a long-term coexistence strategy. Working on economic and political development in countries of origin is also necessary. In ‘Caritas in Veritate’, Benedict XVI had prophetic words.
Milan (AsiaNews) – The failure of the democratic illusions that emerged out of the Arab Spring has led to an escalation in armed conflicts, civil and asymmetric wars, large-scale terrorism on the Mediterranean side of North Africa and the Middle East. This has obviously influenced the exponential growth in the number of desperate people looking to Europe for their salvation.
At the same time, the rise of Islamist terrorism in Europe has become the main nightmare of the governments of the Old Continent. Unfortunately, the European Union lacks an institutional and especially a cultural strategy vis-à-vis this sorrowful mass of migrants and refugees fleeing states that have failed politically, even before they failed economically.
The EU's foreign, security and defence policy is set in sand and cannot guarantee legal certainty, inclusiveness and security. The inconsistent immigration policies of individual European countries are evidence of the European Union’s substantial lack of political will towards at global International co-operation to promote rights and democracy in the countries of origin of these desperate people. This has forced various States to turn to bilateral negotiations to manage the various aspects of migration.
Immigrants and terror
Europe is clearly caught between generic and naive statements about openness that do not go to the heart of the problem of millions of people tragically uprooted from their homes and the demagogical walls of emotions that shut out millions of desperate people fleeing brutal regimes and failed political systems that trample human dignity.
As sociologist Ilvo Diamanti points out, immigration is a political and institutional problem that points to other "problems", and must be managed with a patient long-term strategy – problems of coexistence vs religious division, integration vs cultural conflict, public order and social security, national identity, competition in the labour market – with obvious political links to the countries of origin so as to find shared bases for promotion and development.
Europe is rightly concerned about the problem of radicalisation and the failure to integrate people of foreign origin, especially Muslims, into its social and political systems, and this can degenerate into terrorism. However, it is now necessary to highlight how the real problem starts upstream, in the struggle of power among Islamic fundamentalist currents that use terrorism as a deathly gun aimed at anyone who interferes even indirectly with the emergence of new political leaders in the Middle East.
Of course, Islamic terrorism, or rather radical Islamist terrorisms shrewdly see migration as a fertile ground to destabilise European countries and the West more generally. This is even more so since the European Union, in its latest statement on Islamist terrorism in Riga (2015), recognises that this terrorism is not only a problem of intelligence, armed security, public order, and prosecution, but is something that necessarily requires the strengthening of constitutional values based on the of rule of law and democracy as the foundations of European society and the promotion of these values in war-torn Mideast countries through international co-operation.
As scholars, analysts, and even governments acknowledge, it is clear that most attacks follow a certain logic that is coordinated for the purpose of destabilising the foreign policy choices of the main European countries, namely Great Britain, France and Germany, in the Middle East.
Not even the seeming neutrality vis-à-vis the warlords in the Mediterranean and Middle East by countries like Italy can guarantee immunity from the risk of terrorist contagion.
After the loss of Mosul and Raqqa, the risk of attacks will increase dramatically given what is at stake, which is the stance Europe and the West will take towards the new power structures in the Middle East, and the new leaders vying for political, economic and military hegemony in the region.
At a political level, the sense that the day of reckoning is coming among Sunnis and between Sunnis and Shias over the leadership and power relations in the Islamic world has unfortunately led to a crackdown on part of Islamic public opinion, including in Europe, by distinct and equally radical, antimodernist and intolerant political-religious currents, namely Wahhabism, which is directly funded by the powerful Saudi monarchy; the Muslim Brotherhood, which enjoys political and economic support from rich Arab emirates; and Iran’s Shia theocracy, which for 30 years has been characterised by a fundamentalist mix of politics and faith, as Samir Khalil Samir reminded us here.
Democracy, human rights, religious freedom
The relationship between democracy, human rights and religion that philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville defined in the 19th century as the great problem of that time today seems to be the hard core of the relationship between the Arab world and Europe.
In Europe and the Islamic world, terms like liberal democracy, Islam, secularisation, and freedom of religion are emotionally charged and often lead to a radical confrontation between irreconcilable visions of the world, clashes of identities and non-negotiable values. The danger is that these categories of thought will be so radicalised to the point that principles like fundamental human freedoms, democracy, and the rule of law no longer constitute a basis of shared values, notwithstanding different historical, religious and cultural experiences.
It is necessary that the values that protect the centrality of the human person, that is, the rule of law and the democratic system, not be “mothballed” in international relations, because only these principles can prevent a dangerous fragmentation of the planet into "strongholds" in conflict with each other.
This reasonable goal of cooperation and development on the ground in the countries where the migration issues arise was already described with clarity in Benedict XVI's social encyclical Caritas in Veritate, in which the pontiff reminds rulers that that they should pay attention to improving "the actual living conditions of the people in a given region, thus enabling them to carry out those duties which their poverty does not presently allow them to fulfil” (Caritas in Veritate, No. 47). This should be done where they were born and not be forced or induced to emigrate.
During his trip to the United States in 2008, Benedict XVI said: " The fundamental solution is that there should no longer be any need to emigrate because there are sufficient jobs in the homeland, a self-sufficient social fabric, so that there is no longer any need to emigrate. Therefore, we must all work to achieve this goal and [. . .] a social development that makes it possible to offer citizens work and a future in their homeland" (Interview of the Holy Father Benedict XVI during the flight to the United States of America, 15 April 2008).