Now, the Madrid bombings and the van Gogh killing have strengthened the
hand of engaged politicians, such as Germany's Social Democratic interior
minister, Otto Schily, and the former French interior minister, Nicolas
Sarkozy, who leads the governing Union for a Popular Movement. They have
also prompted Brussels, London, Madrid, Paris, and The Hague to increase
resources and personnel devoted to terrorism.
In general, European politicians with security responsibilities, not to
mention intelligence and security officials who get daily intelligence
reports, take the harder U.S. line. Schily has called for Europe-wide
"computer-aided profiling" to identify mujahideen. The emergence
of holy warriors in Europe and the meiosis of radical groups once
connected to al Qaeda have prompted several European capitals to increase
cooperation on counterterrorism as well as their counterterrorism
resources and personnel.
Yet a jihadist can cross Europe with little scrutiny. Even if noticed,
he can change his name or glide across a border, relying on long-standing
bureaucratic and legal stovepipes. After the Madrid bombings, a midlevel
European official was appointed to coordinate European counterterrorist
statutes and harmonize EU security arrangements. But he often serves
simply as a broker amid the gallimaufry of the 25 member states' legal
Since the Madrid bombings, the Spanish Interior Ministry has tripled to
450 the number of full-time antiterrorism operatives, and the Spanish
national police are assigning a similar number of additional agents to
mujahideen intelligence. Spanish law enforcement established a task force
combining police and intelligence specialists to keep tabs on Muslim
neighborhoods and prison mosques. Similarly, special police cells are
being organized in each of France's 22 regions, stepping up the
surveillance of mosques, Islamic bookshops, long-distance phone
facilities, and halal butchers and restaurants.
The 25 EU members have also put into effect a European arrest warrant
allowing police to avoid lengthy extradition procedures. Despite
widespread concerns about possible privacy abuses, several EU countries
have lowered barriers between intelligence and police agencies since the
van Gogh murder. Germany aims to place its 16 police forces under one
umbrella. In France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, and the United
Kingdom, intelligence and police officers meet with officials in
state-of-the-art communications centers, or "war rooms," to
share information about interrogations, informant reports, live wiretaps,
and video or satellite pictures.
Still, counterterrorism agencies remain reluctant to share sensitive
information or cooperate on prosecutions. Measures proposed in the wake of
the Madrid attacks, such as a Europe-wide fingerprint and DNA database and
biometric passports, remain only that -- proposals. Fragmentation and
rivalry among Europe's security systems and other institutions continue to
hamper counterterrorism efforts. For nearly a decade, France has sought
the extradition of the organizer of several bombings in the Paris metro in
the 1990s, but his case languishes in the British courts to the anguish of
the Home Office as well as Paris.
The new mujahideen are not only testing traditional counterterrorist
practices; their emergence is also challenging the mentality prevailing in
western Europe since the end of World War II. Revulsion against Nazism and
colonialism translated into compassion toward religious minorities, of
whatever stripe. At first, Muslim guest workers were welcomed in Europe by
a liberal orthodoxy that generally regarded them as victims lacking
rights. In some countries, such as the Netherlands and the United Kingdom,
that perspective spawned a comprehensive form of multiculturalism.
London's version verged on separatism. While stepping up surveillance, the
British authorities allowed Islamists refuge and an opportunity to preach
openly and disseminate rabid propaganda. Multiculturalism had a dual
appeal: it allowed these states to seem tolerant by showering minorities
with rights while segregating them from, rather than absorbing them into,
the rest of society. Multiculturalism dovetailed with a diminished Western
ethos that suited libertarians as well as liberals.
But now many Europeans have come to see that permissiveness as
excessive, even dangerous. A version of religious tolerance allowed the
Hamburg cell to flourish and rendered German universities hospitable to
radical Islam. Now Europeans are asking Muslims to practice religious
tolerance themselves and adjust to the values of their host countries.
Tony Blair's government requires that would-be citizens master "Britishness."
Likewise, "Dutch values" are central to The Hague's new
approach, and similar proposals are being put forward in Berlin, Brussels,
and Copenhagen. Patrick Weil, the immigration guru of the French Socialist
Party, sees a continental trend in which immigrant
"responsibilities" balance immigrant "rights."
The Dutch reaction to van Gogh's assassination, the British reaction to
jihadist abuse of political asylum, and the French reaction to the wearing
of the headscarf suggest that Europe's multiculturalism has begun to
collide with its liberalism, privacy rights with national security.
Multiculturalism was once a hallmark of Europe's cultural liberalism,
which the British columnist John O'Sullivan defined as "free[dom]
from irksome traditional moral customs and cultural restraints." But
when multiculturalism is perceived to coddle terrorism, liberalism parts
company. The gap between the two is opening in France, the Netherlands,
the United Kingdom, and to some extent even in Germany, where liberalism
stretched a form of religious tolerance so much so that it allowed the
Hamburg cell to turn prayer rooms into war rooms with cocky immunity from
the German police.
Yet it is far from clear whether top-down policies will work without
bottom-up adjustments in social attitudes. Can Muslims become Europeans
without Europe opening its social and political circles to them? So far,
it appears that absolute assimilationism has failed in France, but so has
segregation in Germany and multiculturalism in the Netherlands and the
United Kingdom. Could there be another way? The French ban the headscarf
in public schools; the Germans ban it among public employees. The British
celebrate it. The Americans tolerate it. Given the United States'
comparatively happier record of integrating immigrants, one may wonder
whether the mixed U.S. approach -- separating religion from politics
without placing a wall between them, helping immigrants slowly adapt but
allowing them relative cultural autonomy -- could inspire Europeans to
chart a new course between an increasingly hazardous multiculturalism and
a naked secularism that estranges Muslims and other believers. One thing
is certain: if only for the sake of counterterrorism, Europe needs to
develop an integration policy that works. But that will not happen
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