Tuesday, March 22, 2016 is one of those days that will remain sadly in the history. We woke up to the news coming from Brussels devastated by bombs and suicide bombers. To be affected are the Zaventem International Airport and the subway stops adjacent to the European institutions: an attack on Belgium and the European Union’s heart, later claimed by ISIS.
While we’re writing, the death toll said 34 dead and over 130 wounded. The images make us cringe: people who run the streets, wounded children, airport halls full of smoke and terror. “The void in the streets, the sirens, the silence: everything was truly distressing” explains Stefano, bar owner of “La vita é bella”, in Brussels, “I kept the bar open also to give a helping hand to the many tourists and people who did not know where to go.”
Maria Paola De Angelis, an official of the European Parliament, said: “At the time of the explosion in the subway I had just arrived at the office, the city went crazy. With other colleagues, I have tried to contact all those who still had not arrived.
One of my friends had left the subway just six minutes before the explosion.” And the fate is present also in the story of Elisa Reschini, parliamentary official: “This morning my boyfriend would have to leave for Rome at 9:15 and then being at the airport at the same time of the attack. I pushed him to leave to go to a meeting: looking back is nothing short of shocking.”
There are many questions that still remain open, as the authorities investigate the dynamics of the attacks, but the message that the attackers wanted to send is loud and clear: “With today’s attacks – continues Elisa – they wanted to hit our daily working lives and the hearts of Western European values. This radicalism, however, was also caused by the exclusion of these people from our society.”
It is very difficult to write in the first hours after the attack. There must be space above all for the respect of those killed and their families. But something must be said, loudly. Immediately after this act of terrorism on the network as on the television, many have begun to talk of a new war, the enemy to be defeated, the equation “migrants equal to terrorists”, integration impossible with Islam, and so on. But facing all this, it’s not possible to remain silent: the last time the world has justified ideas such as the preventive war and the clash of civilizations, we have seen how it ended. Then, maybe before summoning new doomsday scenarios we have to start from a cultural, social, strategic and military change. If we start only from the end, the armed response, we only give reason to terrorists, creating new resentment and frustration that will swell the ranks of ISIS and al-Qaeda as well.
I had already written after the attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris: we absolutely need for a full turn from our cultural point of view. The terrorism, the deaths, the attacks are all over the world and we should unite under one banner but the clash of civilizations. In the vast majority of cases, furthermore, the victims of terrorism are Muslims. This is not to foment another war against Muslim countries, but to make everyone understand that there is the need of unity and equal treatment with disdain, common grief and anger, is that for the attacks in Brussels or whether they are in Damascus or Bamako.
Then we need a social intervention: if the children of Europe, in some “ghettos”, decide to become ISIS fighters it means that there is something wrong and that the models of integration have to be changed necessarily. Where there are no equal opportunities, development, rules and state presence, crime and violence take over. It happens in Molenbeek as in the districts of Campania and Sicily, where residents defend Camorra mobsters and by the arrests of the police.
THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO QUIT, AND TO RAISE THE WALLS. IT’S TIME FOR COURAGEOUS AND REVOLUTIONARY CHOICES. IT’S TIME TO BUILD BRIDGES AND OPPORTUNITIES. BUT IT’S ALSO THE TIME WHEN THE WEST, UNDERSTOOD AS THE US AND NATO ALLIES, HAS TO UNDERSTAND THAT IT HAD LOST, IT CANNOT CONTINUES TO DESTABILIZE STATES IN THE NAME OF DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLES AND OF ENERGY SUPPLIES AND HAVE TO COMPLETELY RETHINK OUR APPROACH TO EVERYTHING THAT IS DIFFERENT. IT SEEMS THAT EUROPE HAS FORGOTTEN THE MANY EXAMPLES OF COEXISTENCE THAT HAS HAD IN ITS HISTORY AS THE WICKED CHOICES THAT LED TO BOTH THE WORLD WARS. YET IT WOULD BE ENOUGH TO GO TO SICILY OR ANDALUSIA TO UNDERSTAND THAT IN OUR DNA WE HAVE THE OPENING TO THE OUTSIDE, THE UNDERSTANDING AND THE PEACEFUL COEXISTENCE.
The situation is very difficult, and we have to react. But, please, do not say that we need a new war and new bombs or to block migration. Here there is the need to block terrorist financing, to help the troops that are fighting on the ground (which almost always have not been helped by the West), to sanction and isolate the governments that help and helped terrorism (which, if strange, almost always they are faithful allies of the West), to work on dialogue and mutual understanding with the vast majority of the Muslim world who hate terrorism and fight it every day (and which also condemns openly, from Tehran to Cairo, just to mention top religious guides both Shiite and Sunni).
The situation is getting serious, very serious. The world seems on the brink of a new, asymmetric and extended war. We can still do something, informing and asking questions, and above all lining up a series of events that happen around the world. Why the European intelligence services did not stop the so called “foreign fighters” going to Syria? Why Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar were allowed to foraging and support in every way terrorist groups? Why in France it has been affixed the state secret on the investigation into the attacks on Charlie Hebdo?
Now there is need of unity and not of division. But above all there is need for revolutionary choices. What worries me, though, is the lack of revolutionary leaders on the horizon.
This article has been published on www.lavocedinewyork.com
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