After the HSBC Bank and British Consulate General attacks of Al Qaeda in Istanbul, the British held a series of meetings in order to understand the reasons of the shocking events and prevent the possible future attacks. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ihsan Bal and I participated at the meetings as representatives of ISRO-USAK (International Strategic Research Organisation) in one of these meetings in 2004 Autumn. Ambassador of UK to Ankara, Consulate General of UK to Istanbul, security advisors to British PM Tony Blair, representatives and experts of the House of Commons were also present at the meetings. Intelligence officials, diplomats and security experts tried to give advice to the Turks as well as seeking advise how to prevent the possible attacks.
As ISRO, we felt that we needed to warn the British at that meeting about London and British Muslims. We told that a similar attack could take place in London which would be committed by British citizens. Unfortunately, our caution was not taken seriously. “Pakistanis will attack us? You must be joking” an expert whom I thought was a British intelligence officer responded.
British think that they were quite successful on ethnic- religious minorities; they did not believe that such event would take place in front of the MI5 and the British Police. They were right while the previous events considered: Until that time the attacks against the West had always been undertaken by the Middle Eastern Groups while Euro- Muslims were known with their peaceful manners. Except the murder of Theo Van Gogh in the Netherlands, Euro- Muslims have not been the invaders but the victims who were subjected to the attack of the ‘Christian Europeans’.
Unfortunately, 7 July 2005 London bombings proved that we were right at our predictions. The invaders were British citizen Muslims. All the people that were arrested by British police, who claims to be preventing Heatrow attack last week, were also British citizens and they were even born in England. The group also includes a ‘white’ member who converted to Islam. Furthermore, there has not been any citizen from the Middle Eastern countries who planned or committed attack to England.
This change indicates a milestone on fighting terrorism. Terror is not far anymore; it is not as far as the Middle East, but at home. The war is going to place in the heart of Europe with its own neighbours. London, Paris, etc.will not be attacked by Palestinians, Iraqis, or Afghanis but French, British, and German ‘terrorists’. By ignoring the Palestine problem at the beginning, the Western world connived the Middle East becoming a wider Palestine (Palestinianisation of the Middle East). And now, the whole world is becoming ‘Middle East’ (Middle Easternisation of the World). We should not be surprised if Paris becomes as insecure as Baghdad, and London becomes a Gaza.
As we mentioned at the beginning, as ISRO we predicted and expected the London attacks and similar ones. We warned the British officials about the issue at the Istanbul meeting. When Sky Turk TV asked about our opinion after 7 July attack, we said: “There is going to be another attack in a week if this was Britain cell of Al Qaeda’s act.” That prediction also came true.
We were not fortune telling and depended on concrete evidences:
First of all, British policies towards Muslims are so unsuccessful, even though they differ from French and continental Europe. Both approaches do not integrate Muslims to society; in contrast they confined Muslims to ghettos. British approach ignores the problems in the name of liberalism. The French approach, on the other hand, imposes new rules and regulations in order to ‘modify Muslims’. Both approaches do not consider millions of citizens as true citizens and do not support integration. Financially, Muslims live below the average in both societies. Although the new comers are limited in religious knowledge, by the state and society’s alienation attitude towards them, they yearn for religion and their own culture. In other words, the more they are marginalized and not become real citizens of the country they live in, they get more nationalistic and more religious. The number of religious leaders and intellectual people to satisfy their needs healthily is very limited. European governments do not cooperate enough with their Muslim citizens’ homeland countries (Turkey, Pakistan, Algeria etc.) and leave them to uneducated, radicals and fundamentalists. Most of the imams serving in England today do not have enough knowledge, not even for themselves. The situation is not much different in Germany and France. Many people coming from Afghanistan and Pakistan who are almost illiterate can easily become imams in England. Similar problems are also present politics field. The Queen as the head of the state is also the head of the Anglican Church of England and Christian identity is emphasized by all means. All high level positions are held by Christians or the Jewish. All British cabinets have had Jewish ministers. Also in media, the Jewish representation is unbalanced while considered its population. Even Sikhs and Hindus, compare to the Muslims, have a stronger representation. Neither in parliament nor in government organs, Muslims are not represented enough, almost none. If they get an important position by any chance, they should behave by hiding their Muslim identity in order to keep being promoted or maintain their position.
The worst part has been the anti-terrorism bills which totally marginalized Euro-Muslims. Majority of the Muslims in Europe do not feel themselves belonged to the country they live in.
A civil war-kind conflict seems inevitable in this picture. In order to prevent this civil war expanding, there are a few precautions to take:
1- Euro-Muslims should get permanent representative positions in state/government levels. The competence and influence of Muslim councils should be increased in political activities. There should be authorities introduced in England, France, and Germany etc. for the sense of European countries being Muslim states as well as they are Christian.
2- The religious education of Euro-Muslims should be supported by cooperating with the countries that are the sources of immigration. In order to reinforce moderate Islam in Europe, institutions like The Presidency of Religious Affairs of Turkey which is wise and experienced, should be considered. The main problem of this issue is financial in Turkey case as well as some Muslim countries. Turkey is capable of enforcing a comprehensive religious education program if the needed European Union funds are provided.
3- The most significant reason of a possible civil war in Europe is the Middle East issues. At the moment, there are estimated 15 million Muslims in Europe Union countries. This population is greater than Greece, Greek Republic of Southern Cyprus, Malta, Slovenia, Denmark and many other EU members’ population. In this respect, why do not Muslims are not consulted /asked opinions about the Palestinian, Iraqi, Lebanese policies of the EU and its members? For instance, when UK forms its policy on Iraq, no Muslim opinion is allowed to contribute in, but Blair’s own Christian perspective that only he comprehends. Briefly, the deficiency of Muslim perspective in the governmental system should be made up. Otherwise, this mass will try to express itself in illegal ways in which terrorism is the easiest form.
4- There are many Muslim countries in Europe: Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). All EU members, however; are Christian which is not out of sight. Most of the difficulties that are made for Turkey and Northern Cyprus prove obvious religious discrimination. EU is going to be alone on fighting terrorism, if it keeps ignoring / marginalizing the Muslims in Europe. The EU has to respect all cultures and religions in European continent.
5- European governments should seek support from Muslim leaders in different countries and Euro-Muslim leaders. Otherwise they cannot realise the difference between Islamic, Islamist and terrorist.
6- Finally, fighting against terrorism is not composed of only armed combat; that only consists % 10 of fight on terror.
In summary, Europe is being dragged to a major civil war; but the solution is not impossible.
Sedat LACINER: Director of USAK and IR Assoc. Prof. Dr.
Translated by Selma Sevkli
16 August 2006, JTW