After last week’s Twitter thread, Dutch Middle-East correspondent Harald Doornbos continued his observation on the different attitude towards extremism in Muslim countries and the EU. The conclusion remains the same that Middle Eastern Muslims stupefied by Western attitudes towards terrorism. ISIS- or Al Qaeda-fighters are afraid of the authorities in Muslim countries (but also the United States, Russia and China), but smile when it comes to the EU.
I wanted to continue with some examples of how Muslim countries often are tougher on extremism than Western liberals. Once, one the Turkish side of the Syrian border, I met a Bosnian ISIS-member. I speak Bosnian so we started talking. “Where do you live?” I asked, “Sarajevo?”. “Are you crazy,” the man said. “In Bosnia, I have trouble with the police, therefore I moved to Vienna.”So here I was talking to an ISIS member who was searched by the (Muslim) authorities and was ‘chilling’ in Vienna. I asked him if it was difficult to travel from Vienna via Istanbul to ISIS in Northern Syria. “No,” he said, “I just have to be careful in Bosnia.”He also said that he, because of religious motivations, did not have a job and received welfare in Vienna. He could focus fully on jihad. He also mentioned he had 10 children and received financial child support for all 10 of them (!). “How could I live in Bosnia,” the man asked. “Austria was much better!”It wasn’t an unfriendly guy. Yes, he had a long beard of course, but that never interests me. He then asked if I could help him. The Turkish police had confiscated his car. He asked if I could be a translator to his lawyer in Kilis. So I was drinking tea at a lawyer who said to the Bosnian ISIS fighter: “Forget it, man, that car will never return to you.” Disappointed the man said that he would then fly to Vienna the next day. I don’t know if he went to Syria afterwards.
Doornbos continued with another example:
Last year I was in Albania. One of the few ‘Majority-Muslim’ countries in Europe. I had an interview with a Public Prosecutor about Syria-goers. The Prosecutor (female and Muslim) laughed about the hyper low sentences for returned Syria-goers in the rest of Europe. “Here we do it a little bit different,” she said, “Syria-goers who return are viewed as a threat to our secular society of Albania. We sentence them 15 – 25 years in prison.”
Doornbos then wrapped it up:
And like these, I have many more examples.
Conclusion: ISIS- or Al Qaeda-fighters are afraid of the authorities of Muslim countries (but also the United States, Russia and China) and smile when it comes to the EU. It is so easy to complain about Muslims after every terror attack, but when it is up to Muslim countries, it would never have come this far. Well, Western politicians without any knowledge about Islam, of course, know much better on how to fight extremism than Muslim countries do themselves!
Let’s hope Europe will soon heed Doornbos’ words.