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Home-grown terrorists the bane of Europe

By Chu Yin | China Daily | Updated: 2016-07-18 09:44

At least eighty-four people were killed and more than 200 injured in the French city of Nice late on Thursday when a man plowed a truck through a crowd that had gathered on a promenade to watch the fireworks' display on Bastille Day, France's national holiday. More than 50 of the injured are in a critical condition and many of the victims were children, according to media reports.

The driver of the truck, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, who was neutralized by police on the promenade, had been earlier booked for violence and use of weapons. The 31-year-old Bouhlel was born in Tunisia but lived in the French Riviera city of Nice and had dual French-Tunisian citizenship.

In a phone call to French President Fran?ois Hollande on Friday, Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed his condolences for the victims of the barbaric attack and offered his sympathies to their families. Xi also said China opposes terrorism in all its forms, and is willing to deepen its anti-terrorism cooperation with France to safeguard global order.

France is not the only victim of terrorism. The whole of Europe is on high alert in the wake of increasing terror attacks. And France appears to be an easy target for terrorist attacks not because it lacks the incentive to fight terrorism, but because of its adherence to political correctness and its large Muslim population (more than 5 million).

For an answer to the question of "why always France", one has to be aware of ethnic minority groups in the country, especially those of North African origin, who have for long been marginalized. Like many European economies, France was hit hard by the global financial and sovereign debt crises in 2008 and 2009, making it even harder for many French Muslims to make a living.

The frustrations of such people have been exploited by terrorists skilled in recruiting vulnerable youths to wage war on peace and human rights. The earlier attacks in Paris and Brussels, which claimed the lives of scores of innocent people, are cases in point, because they proved the killers' "power" to the disgruntled Muslim youths in France and Belgium.

Moreover, French police and intelligence officials are always overly cautious when dealing with security threats posed by minorities for fear that their actions would overstep the boundaries of political correctness.

That France has suffered several terror attacks in recent years has cast a shadow over the European Union's immigration policies, especially at a time when refugees from the Middle East are still swarming to EU countries to seek asylum. Many who voted for the United Kingdom to leave the EU apparently did so because of the refugee factor.

Brexit is very high on the agenda of the new British Prime Minister Theresa May, but the refugee issue hardly justifies the referendum's result, because people from India and Pakistan comprise the largest minority group in the UK owing to British colonial rule in the two countries. By tightening its control over migrants, particularly those from Eastern Europe, the UK is actually aiming to create more jobs for local blue-collar workers. In other words, the refugee crisis plaguing many EU countries is not of much concern to the UK at all.

But instead of falling apart, the EU is expected to keep itself together as it has done in the face of earlier terrorist attacks. The EU, however, has little room for imposing harsher restrictions on asylum-seeker nor does it have any reason to do so, because many of the terrorists that have targeted EU countries were born in European countries.

Chu Yin is an associate professor at the University of International Relations, and a research fellow at the Center for China and Globalization. The article is an excerpt from his interview with China Daily's Cui Shoufeng.


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