Some are asking why Brussels has experienced an act of terrorism which has killed over 30 and wounded over 250. The answer is simple. Belgium has a large Muslim population centred in Brussels and which includes a significant number of extremists committed to jihadist acts against both Westerners and Muslims who have not accepted jihadism. Belgium is also exposed to the an immigration policy within Europe which is almost a free go and, more recently, allows large numbers of refugees from Syria and Iraq who have included jihadists.
This situation is elaborated in the article by Andrew Bolt below and in this article by the Gatestone Institute whose head is former US Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton.
Recognising the Seriousness of Islamic Threat
As indicated in the Gatestone analysis, the Belgium government (and the numerous local authorities) has probably been the worst in Europe to tackle the threat from Islamic jihadists, partly because it is an ethnically divided country and there is no national narrative. A brief mention of some aspects illustrate the extent of the problem it now faces;
- Of the population of 700,000 an estimated 6.2% are Muslims;
- Within the 300,000 in Brussels there is a concentration in the suburb of Molenbeek where unemployment is 40% and the Minister for the Interior acknowledges the government has no control over the situation there (in fact the Mayor of Molenbeek says it is not his responsibility to look for terrorists);
- The Muslim population has established a Sharia4Belgium group which accepts sharia law;
- A cache of a background image from the Sharia4Belgium web has been made into a flag which flies over the Belgium parliament.
I have mentioned in earlier Commentaries that Europe is moving towards a situation where it could be controlled by Muslims. Steyn has predicted that too.
The Belgium situation indicates that there it has at a minimum gone beyond that from which there seems no turning back. Despite assuring statements by Hollande (who appears to have actually taken little counter action), France has probably also reached this situation. Germany may well be the next major country to experience a major terrorist attack from within. The extent of the Muslim population in these and other European countries is such that it cannot be reversed and it is unlikely to be prevented from increasing.
The best that can be hoped for in Europe is the establishment of counter-terrorist legislation and agencies which can minimise jihadist activity. France has increased its counter forces and the Belgium government has now indicated a large increase in its counter terrorist forces. But this is not going to stop extremists: we can expect to see bouts of terrorist activity continue to occur across Europe and the UK. This will be the new “norm” in those countries. We can only hope that access remains limited to weapons which are only as destructive as suicide bombs
Implications for Australia
Turnbull has reacted to Brussels by correctly indicating that Australia is better placed to handle terrorist activity because it controls its borders and has built up its counter terrorist agencies. He has also pointed out that, relatively, the Europeans have “allowed things to slip”.
But it is by no means clear that our immigration policy is strict enough to prevent the admission of Muslims who are sympathetic to the extremist view. No announcements have been made about migrant applicants who have been rejected on an assessment that they are a security risk because they could become Islamic terrorists.
Also, as argued in this Australian editorial, “he is wrong to foster any sense of comfort for us” …”More than 100 Australian jihadists have joined Islamic State and just as many have been blocked from leaving. We have suffered three fatal terrorist incidents in 18 months and, over a longer period, security agencies have thwarted six plots, including planned mass casualty attacks. Some Middle Eastern and African Muslim cohorts haven’t integrated as successfully as earlier waves of immigrants, and hot spots of Islamist extremism have developed in Sydney and Melbourne”.
This editorial also points out that “the Prime Minister, like many political leaders, tends to talk about this issue without referring to the enemy: Islamist extremism. This reluctance to name an obvious threat tends to be patronising towards Muslims, who are familiar with the problem, and can frustrate the wider public, who want to know their leaders value strong security over political correctness”.
The editorial should have added that Turnbull has not retracted from his earlier claim that there is no connection between extremist terrorists and religion. Indeed he recently visited the Victorian Muslims Council and spoke to the audience as if all Muslims are welcome regardless. It is important that the religious origins of extremism be widely recognised. That requires a statement by the government on its attitude to Islamism.