Every religion has its radical or extremist branches but, at least on the European continent, no religion is as aggressive and inclines to terrorism more than Islam, according to security analyst Josef Kraus from Masaryk University in Brno.
In the Rozstřel program broadcasted on iDNES.cz, Josef Kraus talked mainly about the latest terrorist attacks on the European continent.
“These are still sporadic and relatively short-range attacks, carried out by a smaller number of people. On the other hand, we can talk about a growing trend,” warned the analyst, adding that we can indeed see that religiously motivated violence and terrorism on the European continent have increased dramatically in the last few years.
The impact of migration on terrorism in Europe
According to Kraus, the inclination to radicalism goes hand in hand with the migration waves that have arrived in Europe — and it does not matter whether it was in the last ten years or throughout the twentieth century. With the Muslim population of Europe potentially tripling in the next 30 years to 75 million, according to Pew Research, there are fears from experts like Kraus that terrorism could become even more of a threat.
According to Kraus, radicals consider the West, the Western way of life, or even the people of Western European countries to be the most obvious enemies of Islam. In addition to mosques or pulpits of radical imams, prisons are a typical place where Muslims are radicalized.
“People commit a simple crime (car theft) and get behind bars. That is a place with the best conditions for religious radicalization. And when these people are released, they have a clear vision of who is to blame for their problems and how to solve them. That is, through violence,” Kraus said.
Islam has tendencies towards radicalization in recent years
Throughout the history of the 20th and 21st centuries, according to Kraus, we can see that virtually every world religion has its own radical or extremist branch.
“But if we put aside other factors, in the last 20 years, we can say fully and openly that no religious movement other than Islam is so aggressive and has been a source of such a violence, including terrorism, at least on the European continent,” he added.
According to Kraus, each of the imams who spread radical Islam in Europe has their own story, but a similar pattern can be found in their activities.
“The pattern is worrisome. It should not happen, and it is a big problem for European states which allow it and thus help to spread Islamic terrorism on their territory. These [imams] are often people who emigrated from their country because they were called religious extremists, and the local security forces were after them,” said Kraus.
“They left their country for fear of their safety and found asylum in the West. And there, they continue to spread their extremist version of religion. They would not be able to do that in their home countries,” Kraus pointed out.
According to Kraus, Europe has so far been imprudent when it comes to accepting radical imams.
“These radicals will prove in the asylum procedure that they would be threatened with persecution in their countries on the grounds of political or religious beliefs. Europeans strive to comply with international law and grant asylum to those who have the right to it. But by doing so, they are sacrificing their security because they are helping to spread extreme forms of Islam among communities in their own countries,” he explained.
Asylum policy and money from the Saudis
Kraus thinks that Europe should tighten this form of asylum policy. The admission of controversial asylum seekers should go hand in hand with repression measures. So, if such an imam starts breaking the law, European countries should expel him.
According to Kraus, it is also concerning how radical imams are financed in Europe.
“The most important donor in the case of Sunni Islam is Saudi Arabia. In Europe, it funds several organizations that operate, for example, as charities, help people, build schools. But at the same time, it finances religious enlightenment, which, in the case of Saudi Arabia, can be described as fundamentalist, orthodox, and also a radical-extremist version of Wahhabist Islam, which is the state religion in Saudi Arabia,” Kraus explained.
According to the security expert, Shiite extremists are connected to Iran, which Kraus said is not nearly as aggressive as Saudi Arabia.
Kraus also says he has thought about why the latest terrorist attack happened in Austria, a country which, unlike France, Belgium or Germany, has not yet been referred to as a place where Islamic radicalism would be on the rise.
“Austria began to open up to migrants at the turn of the 1980s and 1990s. So the Islamic community here does not consist of Arabs, like in France, or the Kurds and Turks, like in Germany, but they are mostly the North Caucasians, Chechens, and Dagestanians. There are also the Bosnians and the Muslim Yugoslavs, who came to Austria as refugees during the Yugoslav conflict. And quite often, it is not even the people who have fled their countries, but it is their children who pose a potential danger,” Kraus explained.
“These are second-generation immigrants who are much more difficult to work with because they were born in the country and have local citizenship, but there is still a social distance between them and the majority population,” Kraus concluded.
Title image: Pakistani Shiite Muslims burn a representation of a French flag and a defaced image of French President Emmanuel Macron during a rally against the French president and the republishing of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad they deem blasphemous, near the French consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)