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The Trans-Continental Extremist Virus - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Europe today lives in a state of fear and chaos, not knowing how to act with the increasing number of warning alerts of an imminent calculated terrorist act attributed to Muslims. In the past few days, most European Union states have been in a state of high alert, in anticipation of hostile operations that they have received information about. Some are observing Sub-Saharan Africa, whilst others monitor the Afghan-Pakistani border, where there are dozens of German and French workers, along with other nationalities. This is in addition to the domestic extremist groups, some which were armed, that were arrested recently in France and Italy.

France is the country most motivated and concerned by the current situation. It has arrested 11 extremists, in addition to another 9 hardliners, and found weapons in their possession, believing that they are a cell providing logistical assistance to ‘Al-Qaeda’. Likewise, Italian security officials arrested a French citizen last month, on the same grounds.

The British Ministry of Interior is preoccupied with controversy surrounding its decision to cancel a visa, previously granted to an Indian Muslim activist from Mumbai. Zakir Naik said that security officials had already invited him to visit the country, and assist them in educating the British Muslim community, which is currently facing a culture of extremism. Naik is himself is the head of a religious television station called ‘Peace TV’, which is the subject of much controversy, despite its name, on the grounds that it provokes its audience. The British Government refused to allow Naik to visit, whilst he still insists on applying for a visa, threatening to prosecute the British Ministry of Interior!

In the Netherlands, the issue is slightly different. A Christian is on trial, the leader of an extremist party, who is accused of distorting Islam, and inciting violence against Muslims. He has already produced a film in which he attacks the Quran. However, it appears initially, that he has succeeded in transforming the court case into a platform attract sympathy for him, against Islam.

As for Germany, the government has recently introduced an educational program for Muslims living there, where 320 Imams, and teachers of Islamic sciences, will study Western culture. This project is targeted towards the 4 million German Muslims, or those from Turkey or Africa who currently live in Germany. The government has also decided to subsidize Islamic disciplines at German universities, with a view to blending the two cultures.

Russia has given more alarming warnings, claiming that it has information about Islamic extremist groups arming themselves for major operations. According to the President of the Russian Security Council, these groups are seeking to obtain radioactive material, to use in the production of ‘dirty bombs’.

These new statements and events highlight the unanimous view that terrorism ‘fever’ is on the rise, and that it has transcended the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the Middle East, and moved towards Europe in particular.

In my opinion, this viewpoint is the natural result of paying too much attention to extremist ideology, which exploits free societies and manipulates new technology, and thus spreads like a virus. It transmits to new carriers both via the air and through contact, by means of the media, the internet, and schools. Those attempting to combat the issue by spending money and intensifying security activities such as information gathering, prosecution, imprisonment, border control and visa restrictions, have overlooked the fact that the real danger lies in the culture: The culture of extremism and terrorism that has not ceased, but is expanding, in spite of all that is being said and claimed in terms of confronting the issue, in education, and so on.

European countries, like Islamic governments, think that their temporary successes indicate that the crisis is being controlled, and that they have been victorious in battle. They believe that each time they seize a terrorist cell, be it active or sleeping, they have struck a blow to this potential danger. However, in fact this has been proven to the contrary. It has been proven that extremism is still active, and terrorism is alive and breathing.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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