Polarised Narratives on Europe and Terrorism

Europeans are not shown the chaos and destruction of their government’s intervention in the Middle East. And even when they are, it is often in the context of fighting a ‘common enemy’ for the establishment of ‘democracy’. Now let us flip the narrative and step into the shoes of an Iraqi, Syrian, Yemeni or Libyan in Europe who has relatives in the region. Those being bombed and killed are not a ‘common enemy’ but relatives, friends, people of similar culture, language, complexion. To these people, those being killed are ‘human’ and not an ‘other’.

When Obama, or Trump, declare a successful drones operation that killed an Al-Qaeda operative, they often neglect to mention the innocent women and children killed in that same operation. For non-Arab Europeans, the focus is on the death of the Al-Qaeda operative. For the Arab European, the focus is on the absence of any hysteria that women and children were actually killed in the operation, as well as the baffling, and frankly heart-breaking, subconscious acceptance by their fellow Europeans that people like them are acceptable collateral damage.

The problem with these conflicting narratives in Europe is that it creates a deep polarisation in general debate whereby to even suggest that European foreign policy is not one, but THE, defining factor in the promotion of terrorism is akin to treason and being a terrorist sympathiser. Foreign policy may not be THE defining factor. But to drown out the concerns of a sizeable section of European society, and then to thrust upon them one narrative that places a heavy burden on innocent Muslims in Europe to prove their loyalty to European values by disowning their heritage, only serves to create an environment that is rife for terror recruitment.