Whatever the eternal optimists of the Pinker school assert about the decline of violence in general, the fact is that over the last couple of years terrorist attacks have been happening on European soil at an exponential rate. Despite 2016 being just over half way through, the continent has experienced at least ten jihadist atrocities. 2015 saw six attacks, there were two in 2014, one in 2013 and, well, you get the picture. These numbers, which I gleaned from Wikipedia, don’t take into account terrorism in Istanbul, or random stabbings, or the orchestrated sexual assault of dozens of women in cities across Europe.
Given Angela Merkel’s staggeringly irresponsible decision to open up Europe to millions of young men from Africa and the Middle East, it stands to reason that many Europeans would associate the rise in terrorist incidents with the rapid influx of Muslims. It’s true that ISIS has been sending young men to Europe with instructions to kill as many people as possible, but this is a small minority. Blaming the recent wave of immigrants for the continent’s present ills is shortsighted and distracts us from the real issue, which is the nature of mass migration and how it is reshaping the demography of Western Europe.
Syrians were involved in a machete attack in Stuttgart and the Ansbach suicide bombing, but it’s important to realise almost all recent acts of terrorism in Europe have been carried out by EU citizens. Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, the man who killed 84 people by driving his truck down a packed promenade in Nice, was living in France for over a decade. Of the five men involved in the Brussels bombing attacks, four were Belgian citizens and the other was Swedish. All nine perpetrators of the November 2015 attacks in Paris that killed 137 people were citizens of the European Union.
By constantly invoking the danger of the “Syrian refugee” whenever there is an attack we shift the focus away from the demographic that is lethal right now (homegrown jihadists) and allow the “Refugees Welcome” crowd to score points with a suicidally altruistic European public. Every time a terrorist attack is carried out by a “Belgian” or “French-Tunisian” rather than a recent arrival from Syria the Left appears vindicated: “You see? The Syrians are victims. They’re running away from the barbarians of ISIS. The terrorist was actually French. Refugees welcome!”
That the majority of terrorists in Europe are homegrown is even more terrifying than the idea that ISIS is training and dispatching young men to murder innocent Europeans. We hold the palantÃr in our hands; we have already witnessed men born and raised in Europe transmogrify into jihadists. We have seen French and Belgian citizens — bestowed with the kind of dignity, freedom and relative prosperity that are a fantasy for millions across the Maghreb — turn to Islamism despite all this. Utopianists might blame the “racism” and “Islamophobia” of Europeans for these outcomes, but it’s naÃ¯ve to think that young men whose faith requires them to avoid the kind of vices Europeans indulge in daily will all simply…integrate. It is unrealistic to not acknowledge that among this population there will always be frustrated loners considered outsiders by the natives. One wonders how on earth the current generation and their children will turn out any different when overall hostility to Muslims increases every time there is a terrorist attack.
The most recent mass shooting in Europe, in Munich, was carried out by a so-called German-Iranian who by all accounts seemed to have been something of a loner. Only 18 years old, Ali Sonboly had already spent time in psychiatric care, and when police raided his room they discovered a book entitled Why Kids Kill. A link to Islamism has been all but ruled out in this case (the press spun it as a “far-right” Breivik-inspired murder though they provided no hard evidence for this), but by closing the book on the case so quickly and filing it under “crazed lone wolf” we disregard the broader lesson to be learnt: that even if the vast majority of newcomers never commit a terrorist attack, long-term multiculturalism fails.
One British rapper of Pakistani ancestry recently discussed in The Guardian the nature of his identity, and his experiences surely apply to many young Muslims in Europe: “I don’t feel British. When I go to Pakistan, I don’t feel Pakistani. But I do know that I’m a Muslimâ€Š â€“â€Š Islam fills that gap”. We can’t blame Britons for this, nor can we blame the Pakistani for feeling alienated, but we can blame globalism. We can blame an agenda that encourages the mass movement of people of radically different values all the while claiming it to be an inherent good even when the facts tell us something different.
Sonboly was of Iranian ancestry, a country I visited on holiday in 2011. It is a beautiful place with the kind of architecture and historical sights that make your head spin. The people are overwhelmingly friendly and curious. However, I don’t think a million Iranians transplanted to Ireland (where I’m from) or Thailand (where I live) would be beneficial to either country. Despite Iran’s charms, its conservatism is of a breed quite foreign to me. I knew I was in a different civilisation from the moment my plane started its descent into Shiraz and local women began to cover their hair. Similarly, I don’t think a million Swiss or Japanese transplanted to Iran would do the Iranians any good. There are exceptions of course and many would thrive, but in general the cultural differences would be insurmountable, and such scenarios would end badly. Sonboly was the product of Iran and Iranian parents. The German kids at his school knew he was different. Maybe they bullied him for it. He grew up in a society of pork-lovers and beer-drinkers; in a city of liberals for whom the intermingling of the sexes and pornography and prostitution are normal; in a society of atheists and Christians and neo-hippy Buddhists and pagans who do hot yoga and pilates.
Like the British Pakistani rapper, Sonboly was neither fully German nor Iranian. He was like the millions of Muslims who have inhabited the continent for years and like the hundreds of thousands who have just arrived. He lived, as millions do, in that purgatory of multiculturalism where there exists no shared history, culture, traditions or heritage; only the babel of voices telling him that diversity makes him stronger.