In an earlier debate, we looked at the issue of Europeans fighting in Iraq and Syria. More than 6,000 EU citizens are believed to be fighting on behalf of Islamist groups in the region, and senior counter-terrorism experts have long been warning of the threat they could pose if they return.
Some of our readers supported stripping them of their passports so they would be unable to return, whereas others argued that due process should be followed and returning fighters should be prosecuted as European citizens.
We had a comment sent in from Maia, arguing that the problem should be tackled much earlier, with policies aimed at preventing the initial radicalisation of young European Muslims:
Why deal with terrorists only at this late stage, after they have been radicalised in Europe, then gone and fought in Syria and only when they are coming back? I think we should fight this evil at a much earlier stage – at the beginning, when people are starting to be brainwashed in mosques, for example.
Maia advocates closer surveillance by security agencies of what is being said on social media and in radical mosques, so that radicalisation can be detected and prevented at a much earlier stage.
The attacks in Paris earlier this year have led EU Member States to re-evaluate their security policies. These include enhanced data-sharing measures between Member States, as well as ways to better tackle radicalisation and prevent the supply of illegal firearms.
We put Maia’s comment to Steve Killelea, founder of the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP). The IEP recently published their updated Global Terrorism Index, which found that the number of deaths from terrorism around the world has increased by more than 60% between 2012 and 2013.
Nevertheless, Killelea argued that it was important to take a measured approach, and policies which were seen to be unfairly targeting groups within society could be counter-productive:
We also spoke to Afzal Khan, a British Labour MEP and Vice-Chair of the Subcommittee on Security and Defence in the European Parliament. He said that he would like to see a two-pronged approach, giving people good employment and social opportunities at home, whilst also working to counter the idealistic notion that Europeans travelling to Iraq and Syria were somehow helping the situation.
How can we prevent the radicalisation of young European Muslims? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions!