Europe’s Conflict Between the West and Islam

The conflict in Europe between the West and Islam has claimed about 275 innocent lives since the beginning of the new millennium.

europe-islam-westThe massacre at French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo is shocking but not surprising.

Europe has certainly been under siege, not only for the past 72 hours, but for more than at least a decade.

On March 11, 2004, an attack by an Islamic group on Madrid’s subway caused the deaths of 191 people. Then, on November 2 of the same year, a young Moroccan man with a Dutch passport killed director Theo Van Gogh in the center of Amsterdamhe was guilty of having produced Submission, a film that was considered blasphemous of Islam. A few months later, on July 7, 2005, a series of bombs were detonated in the name of Allah on London’s tube and bus network, killing 56 women and men.

On February 17, 2006, a provocation from Italian Reforms Minister Roberto Calderoli, wearing a t-shirt showing an anti-Islam cartoon, led to an angry backlash in Libya in which the Italian consulate in Benghazi was attacked, leading to 11 deaths. After a few years of quiet, in 2011, Charlie Hebdo’s editorial office was fire-bombed. By pure chance there were no casualties. Again, in May 2014, Mehmdi Nemmouche, a French citizen of Algerian origin, broke into the Jewish Museum in Brussels and killed four people with a Kalashnikov rifle.

In total, the conflict in Europe between the West and Islam has claimed about 275 innocent lives since the beginning of the new millennium. These weigh heavily on consciences in Brussels. In the past few days we have paid a high price for the EU’s silence on immigration and the upheaval, both political and social, that has affected the countries on the southern Mediterranean shore.

This ostrich policy has been the best fertilizer for the clashnot between the poor and the insane, but involving the middle classes who feel disenfranchised by and afraid of the processes of globalization. Whether in the name of God or Allah, they are in search of a cause. They are ready, given the political vacuum, to entrust their heart and souls to various figureheads and leaders who advocate this or that right, which may be more or less fundamental.

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Just 48 hours before the deadly attack on some of the world’s best cartoonists, almost 20,000 Germans, shouting “potatoes, not kebabs,” took to the streets of Dresden swelling the ranks of Pegida (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West). The movement was founded last October in Germany by Lutz Bachman, a 41-year-old former chef who, after nearly three years in prison, managed in just a few weeks while on probation to convince a significant number of citizens from Europe’s richest and most powerful country to commit to the cause of zero tolerance against immigrants, especially Muslims.

Giuseppe Terranova is deputy editor of the online newspaper West. He has a PhD in politics and comparative law of the euro-Mediterranean region, from Università Kore in Enna, Italy. As an expert on immigration policies, he is a member of the European Centre for International Affairs in Brussels and assistant professor at the department for sustainable development (working with Prof. A Giordano) at Luiss University of Rome. Read other articles by Giuseppe.