says tolerance can revive the European dream

The German government’s recent call for its citizens to stockpile supplies in case of catastrophe suggests that fear of terrorism in Europe has reached a summit, says Professor Yossi Mekelberg, Director of International Relations and Social Sciences at Regent’s University London.

Writing in Al Arabiya, Professor Mekelberg adds that while it would be foolish to become complacent about terrorism, it would be equally irresponsible for Europe to associate an entire religion with violence and extremist views.

He continues: “Such an approach would mean an end to the foundations of the European Union, handing a victory to the terrorists and those who have never believed in a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic Europe. Extremism can only win by creating a rift between those who would otherwise coexist peacefully.

“Leaders and decision-makers face a constant threat of either overreacting or not doing enough when confronted with a crisis. From its outset the EU has been an experimental project to rebuild post-war Europe and provide its citizens with economic and social benefits in ever-changing circumstances.

“From the height of Euro-enthusiasm in the 1990s and early 2000s, there is now a growing scepticism about the viability of the EU. The leaders of the Eurozone’s three largest countries met last month to discuss Europe beyond Brexit. The main topic of discussion was increased Euroscepticism throughout the EU as a consequence of the ongoing migration crisis, terrorism, and protracted economic stagnation.

“Chancellor Merkel, President Hollande and Prime Minister Renzi could not escape the reality that many see these issues as interwoven with and exploited by nationalist movements. The danger lies in combatting terrorism and extremism in such a way that may unintentionally lead to a cultural-religious war.

“The absurd attempt to ban of the full body burkini swimsuit from seaside resorts in France further highlights a needless intolerance that aggravates inter-communal relations. The French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, asserted that the burkini was ‘not compatible with the values of France.’

“While the French Riviera is known for a distinct lack of clothing on its beaches, unless those who oppose the burkini manage to link it with extremism and even terrorism, why would it be banned?

“This is a pointless battle with no winners, only losers. The road to totalitarianism is paved by the use of legalities to enforce particular social and individual preferences on those who cause no harm, and only have different customs and beliefs.

“It is only by intelligently dissecting the challenges that Europe is facing, and by remaining true to its tolerant foundations, that European societies and the European Union can avoid further deterioration in inter-communal relations across the continent and social implosion.”

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You can watch an interview with Yossi Mekelberg talking about the USA, Israel and Middle East geopolitics on ABC Australia here  

He also spoke about this subject on Al Jazeera TV 

Disclaimer: Regent's University London welcomes academic debate. However, the views expressed are the author's own and do not necesarily reflect those of the University.