Perilous myths

Political leaders in the West appear to suffer from a short memory. During an EU crisis meeting in Brussels yesterday that examined further steps to prevent terrorist attacks in Europe, the British government recommended new, draconian anti-terrorist measures like wide monitoring of telephone calls and e-mails. However, few politicians seemed to recall a similar meeting that was convened in the same place last year, following the Madrid bombings in March. Back then, the British thought they could lecture the rest of the world on how to deal with terrorism. Under British pressure the 25 nations present adopted no less than 57 counter-terrorist measures, including a European arrest warrant, a common database of police intelligence about suspect groups, an archive of fingerprints and biometric data, the right to persecute suspects across national borders, and an EU anti-terrorism agency led by a Dutchman, Gijs De Vries. The London bombs blasted away the delusion that setting up an Orwellian, big-brother superstate across Europe can deter terrorists. One feels that the Al Qaeda attacks were not the reason but the pretext for serving ulterior motives. A second myth is that the threat comes from a group of paranoids who hate Western life, and that those who were lucky to grow up in the supposedly superior Western culture also embrace its values. According to British police, the four suicide bombers were British citizens (of Pakistani origin) who were born, grew up and studied in Britain. Among them was a 22-year-old university graduate who loved cricket, drove his father’s Mercedes and was the married father of an eight-month-old baby. They had a good idea of the «civilized West,» and despised it not for what it believes but for what it does (Fallujah, Guantanamo) or does not do (Palestine).

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.