Belgium should discard political correctness

Belgian security and law-enforcement agencies have been criticized for their inability to preclude the Brussels attacks that killed over 31 people and wounded almost 10 times as many. While there might have been some slackness, it is indisputable that the blame lies elsewhere; to be precise, the real culprit is political correctness that has permeated the liberal world’s public discourse and undermined the security infrastructure.

A sound security apparatus is predicated upon a clear perception of and a clearer perspective on the threat. The problem with political correctness is that it blurs perception and distorts perspective. So, a couple of days after the Brussels outrage, leader of the Liberal and Democrat group in the European Parliament and former Belgian prime minister of Guy Verhofstadt wrote: “We must also do much more to improve integration and tackle the poverty and unemployment which prevails in so many communities. People who have no hope of employment and little opportunity are much easier to recruit.”

A liberal has to blindfold himself very tightly to say that the mass-murderers of Brussels and Paris were driven by poverty and unemployment and not Islamism. Verhofstadt is not alone who has turned a blind eye to the reality. The Tunisian-Belgian scholar Chams Eddine Zaougui expressed similar views: “Belgium needs to combat terrorism in a decisive but careful way—so as not to further polarize society or strengthen resentment of alienated and frustrated youth.”

Again, effort is to overlook the real cause of alienation and frustration—the Islamist ideology. If a group in a society—be it that of radical Muslims in Europe or Maoists in India—has faith in a supremacist ideology and is convinced the milieu in which it is situated is iniquitous or sinful, no amount of ‘assimilation’ or ‘integration’ will be able to persuade to give up its violent ways. At any rate, the living standards of the Europeans of Arab and African origins is much better that they came from; this is the reason that the migrants from Syria want to enter Europe rather than the sheikhdoms in the Arabian peninsula.

Yet, liberals and intellectuals in Europe incessantly present views similar to the ones expressed above. This has resulted in the security paraphernalia and institutions, laws, and systems that shield rather than deter terror. Consider the arrest of Salah Abdeslam, a key figure in the Paris massacres. A few days after his arrest, there were Brussels attacks. A top recruiter for ISIS, he was wandering freely in the streets of Molenbeek, the Muslim-majority locality in the Belgian Capital. This was despite the fact he was the most wanted man in Europe. So much for the claim that only ‘a handful of Muslims’ support terror!

Two of the Brussels bombers were brothers Ibrahim (29) and Khalid El Bakraoui(27), who blew themselves up. There was also a third suicide bomber the Moroccan-born Najim Laachraoui (24). Before joining the ISIS, the two brothers were involved in violent crime; Ibrahim got nine years in prison for firing at cops during a 2010 burglary. The sentence got remitted because of good behavior. Joseph Klein, a Harvard-trained lawyer and an expert on radical Islam, wrote in a recent article: “Ibrahim ‘repaid’ the Belgian judicial system’s leniency by detonating his bomb at the Brussels airport. Khalid exploded his at a train station near the European Union headquarters.”

Apart from the leniency, there is the fear that strict action may invite the charge of Islamophobia, racial profiling, etc. “According to Turkish officials, Ibrahim had been detained last June at a border crossing with Syria and deported to the Netherlands,” wrote Klein. “Although Turkey had informed Dutch and Belgian authorities that Ibrahim was connected with ISIS, he was released by the Netherlands because, according to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, ‘Belgium could not establish any links with terrorism’… both brothers should have been on the police’s radar as jihadist suspects with a criminal past. But they were not caught in time.”

Despite constraints, police in Belgium continue to wage war against the jihadists responsible for the Paris and Brussels attacks, the threat of violent incidents looms large. On Friday, cops arrested five persons, including Mohamed Abrini, identified as the “man in the hat,” connected to the Brussels airport blast. The next day, Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon expressed concern over the possibility of “other cells that are still active on our territory.”

It is time the powers that be in Belgium and indeed in Europe shed the treacherous doctrines of political correctness and multiculturalism and handled the Islamist threat firmly.