Opinion: The vulnerable society | Opinion | DW | 15.07.2016
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Opinion

Opinion: The vulnerable society

Ordinary citizens are now being plagued by Islamist terrorism at increasingly shorter intervals. Democracies are threatened by a change for the worse, writes DW's Alexander Kudascheff.

Islamic terrorism has long been developing into a nightmare. It attacks free societies everywhere: in restaurants, airports, hotels, football stadiums, clubs, on the train, at the beach, in front of schools and now, on the street. Terror is everywhere and fear is growing in free societies - and not just there. People sense that danger and threats are lurking everywhere around them, in everyday life and on vacation.

Democratic nations - in particular France, which has suffered its third horrific terrorist attack - are now confronted with the challenge of terrorism. They have been coerced into fighting a war against terror. It is an asymmetrical war, as loners or even small groups with scant logistic means randomly kill people. And democratic nations now must fear for their freedom and their liberties.

Terror is everywhere

It seems as though the state is no longer able to meet its most important duties. With all its crime-fighting authorities, intelligence services, increasing citizen surveillance and heavy policing, the state cannot protect its citizens. Terror is everywhere, for it has been spawned by society itself.

Kudascheff Alexander Kommentarbild App

Alexander Kudascheff, DW's editor-in-chief

Fascinated by the power of Islamism and inspired by jihad, many young people, mostly men, have decided to challenge our society - which is also theirs. They kill indiscriminately, but not aimlessly. They want to unsettle free societies and they are succeeding at it. It has come to the point where traditional security forces cannot protect citizens anymore and people in France and England are losing their exemplary calm. Now, there is a looming threat of societal conditions in which hate, rejection and racism will triumph. It is a nightmare for an open society.

Ending the nightmare of 'Islamic State'

And now, of course, war must be waged on IS. It is politically necessary, but it is tricky because then the West stands together with Russia and the Syrian butcher Bashar al-Assad. But there is probably no way around this. Raqqa must be captured, IS defeated, the surviving fighters tried and the terrible dream of an Islamic caliphate under IS shattered. Even if it is politically and diplomatically unappetizing, it is necessary to cooperate with all the relevant powers. And then, one must ask why so many young Muslims in secular Europe and in the religiously diverse USA are fascinated by Islamist violence. What shakes their identity so strongly that they willingly follow a self-proclaimed caliph in Raqqa or enthusiastically pay homage to suicide bombers, celebrating them as heroes?

What is certain is that this has been a long societal process. Now, free societies will learn - or will have to learn - how to overcome their vulnerability. More pressure must be put on sympathizers of terror. Authorities must crack down even more. Muslims who secretly tolerate hate preachers must free themselves of this attitude and throw the clerics out of their mosques. Passive tolerance must cease in order to defend our liberal lifestyle. Otherwise, societies will change and they will stray from democracy. And the Front National in France will be one of those waiting in the wings.

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