While the French commissioner feels things have already gone “too far in blaming the Muslim communities.” “Don’t be soft on Islam, says EU terror chief,” by Jason Burke for the Guardian, September 28:
Europe’s anti-terror chief has launched a stinging attack on the political correctness that he says is hampering the campaign against militant Islam.
Gilles de Kerchove, the EU counter-terrorism co-ordinator, said last week that concern about stigmatising Muslim populations was hampering policy-making and thus prevention. ‘One of the problems … is that some member states are extremely reluctant to be explicit about the link with religion,’ said de Kerchove. ‘Religion has been hijacked and distorted for political ends.’
De Kerchove’s statement comes against a background of infighting within the EU over counter-terrorism policy. The European Commission has been working for several years on a paper analysing militancy in Europe and outlining policy to combat radicalisation. The Council of Ministers is still waiting for the now long-overdue paper, on which future policy will be based.
EU officials claimed last week the delay was because Jacques Barrot, the French Commissioner for justice, freedom and security, had grave reservations about the definition of terrorism in the commission’s policy paper and had delayed signing the policy document as it ‘went too far in blaming Muslim communities‘.
A spokesman for Barrot refused to comment. ‘There is a paper that is being prepared. Our services are working on it and there is no fixed timeframe at the moment,’ he said.
De Kerchove praised the Home Office’s emphasis on countering the extremists’ message through the media. ‘We have to provide an alternative narrative,’ he said. ‘A lot of research is showing that young people being radicalised are looking for thrills as much as anything ideological. We need to show the violence for what it is, bloody and indiscriminate, and the people who do it for what they are, ugly criminals not heroes.’