Italy's prime minister has cautioned that military force alone will not eradicate the terror threat facing Europe. He called for the integration of marginalized Muslim communities and engagement with the Middle East.
Opening a three-day conference on Mediterranean security in Rome on Thursday, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said a "knee-jerk" military response to the terror threat facing Europe would not by itself achieve any sustainable results.
"So soon after the shocking attacks on Paris, it is not easy to find the right way to respond," Renzi said. "But we can't have a gut, instinctive or knee-jerk reactions," he said.
Italy has not rushed in to join the bombing campaign against the "Islamic State" as have Britain, France and Germany following the Paris attacks. Meanwhile, the nearly one-and-a-half year US-led coalition bombing campaign has yielded minimal results to dislodge the "Islamic State" from broad swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria.
In comments that could ruffle feathers in France, where Muslims have lived on the periphery of society for decades and experienced discrimination, Renzi said a more nuanced response would be to address the political, economic and social marginalization of Muslims living in Europe.
"First and foremost, radicalization is a pathological expression of an identity crisis suffered in European countries," the Italian premier said. He added that home-grown radical Islamists were "nearly all raised in our suburbs, educated in our schools. They played football with our kids and walked the same sidewalks on which they carried out these acts of barbarism."
"If young people on our peripheries lose a sense of belonging, we are no longer faced with an urban problem but with a political problem," Renzi noted.
Renzi said the "Islamic State" would have to be defeated, but suggested culture could play a key role.
"It is the immune system of our society against fanaticism," the Italian leader said.
cw/jil (AFP, dpa)