Crosspost: Asim Qureshi
Terror, Ideology and Fear: A Very European Story
The latest terrorist attacks in Brussels, widely-believed to be the work of Islamic State, have reignited the debate about how Europe should deal with the threat of political violence domestically and internationally. Since the attacks of 11 September 2001, the prevailing narrative has been to place this struggle within the context of an ideological war – a war based on conflicting value systems. This notion was epitomised the morning after the Paris attacks by Jacques Reland, of the Global Policy Institute, who, commenting to the BBC, stated:
“I see it as a continuation of the war against the values of the West. I see it as an attack on French society, French way of life, French culture, on more than that, on European values, democracy and freedom.”
In a similar vein, Bruno Tertrais, of the French thinktank Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique, was quick to reiterate the line that, “This is a war of ideas”, explaining how:
“…what was targeted on Friday night was, once again, about the very identity and soul of Paris, the ‘capital of abominations and perversions’, according to Islamic State. Most French people were surprised to see their uber-secular country described as the one that “carries the banner of the Cross” by Isis’s vengeful communiqué. The point here is that French policies in the Middle East are a secondary rationale for armed jihadists. President Hollande said as much in his short Saturday morning address: we are targeted for what we are.”
Such statements are not unique. Rather, these sentiments have formed as part of a consistent narrative that places such moments of brutality within a larger continuum, one that requires an ideological response to a supposed fundamental clash in values, rather than to politically-motivated violence anchored in real-world grievances.