Go be­yond reg­u­lar se­cu­rity to curb ex­trem­ism

Business Daily (Kenya) - - EDITORIAL & OPINION - PAUL HOCKENOS is a Ber­lin-based au­thor

Spain’s counter-ter­ror­ism laws are among the tough­est in Europe. Its im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies are re­stric­tive and the ra­zor-wire fences at its bor­ders are men­ac­ing.

Yet this didn’t de­ter a group of young, male, Mus­lim im­mi­grants – some born in Morocco, some in Spain to Moroc­can im­mi­grant fam­i­lies – from turning vi­o­lently on their neigh­bours on Au­gust 17, killing 15 peo­ple in a se­ries of at­tacks in and around Barcelona.

We don’t yet know much about how and why they be­came rad­i­calised, but it’s likely they felt un­wanted in Spain. Merely lim­it­ing im­mi­gra­tion fur­ther and ramp­ing up tra­di­tional se­cu­rity mea­sures – wider sur­veil­lance, quicker de­por­ta­tions, sol­diers on the streets – are un­likely to rule out sim­i­lar vi­o­lence in the fu­ture. Euro­pean coun­tries re­flex­ively take such steps af­ter ev­ery fresh at­tack, but then ex­trem­ists strike again any­way.

In­te­gra­tion, how­ever, is a field where more can be done, ar­guably with greater im­pact. Im­mi­gra­tion is a per­ma­nent as­pect of to­day’s Europe and it re­quires ac­cep­tance of new ar­rivals to fos­ter healthy so­ci­eties.

Europe must ex­pand its ef­forts to guide im­mi­grants and refugees from the eco­nom­i­cally and so­cially iso­lated neigh­bour­hoods where they land, as many Moroc­cans in Spain have, into the main­streams of so­ci­ety. Some in­no­va­tive pro­grammes from North­ern Europe, where in­te­gra­tion is al­ready part of se­cu­rity pol­icy, can show us how.

The per­pe­tra­tors of the Span­ish at­tacks, like those in Nice and Lon­don and other Euro­pean cities, weren’t Is­lamic State op­er­a­tives sent from abroad, but rather young mil­i­tants in their 20s, the ma­jor­ity of them Euro­pean cit­i­zens from dis­en­fran­chised im­mi­grant com­mu­ni­ties.

These young peo­ple, mostly men, can be easy pick­ings for IS and other rad­i­cals who prey on their cir­cum­stances and con­flicted iden­ti­ties.

Europe has made progress in in­te­grat­ing im­mi­grants and their chil­dren since the post­war decades, when for­eign work­ers were treated, at best, like guests who wouldn’t stay long and, even if they did, could never re­ally be­long to the host na­tion.

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