Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Brussels Riots

There are riots in Brussels. These riots look an awful lot like the recent riots in Paris. Both sets of riots are supposed to have been sparked by the death of a young criminal (in Paris hiding in an electrical substation, in Brussels in prison). Both are largely composed of poor Muslim immigrants. Both involve torching things (cars in Paris, shops in Brussels).

The first thing to recognise is that this has very little to do with Global or Domestic Wars on Terror at the moment; there may turn out to be a link later but for now there appears to be no connection in Brussels as in France. There is also no real suggestion that this is Islamist violence: there are no calls for global caliphates, rants at American foreign policy or mentions of the prophet Muhammed.

As this is a separate phenomena it also has separate causes. In the War on Terror the lefty fallback that poverty is a root cause of terrorism is innacurate but in this struggle it would appear that poverty and, particularly, unemployment is a major underlying cause of the disturbances. As such, this implies that the solution here will involve taking action to address the economic malaise. Unfortunately, as was demonstrated in France, the still in work majority have no incentive to electorally trade things like their legal job security for increasing employment in the banlieues.

The fear has to be that this resentment and violence will translate into something darker. Surely it can't have escaped the attention of those who recruit and indoctrinate terrorists that there are large Muslim populations in the heart of Europe who are willing to engage in rioting and destruction and risk a backlash from the authorities and non-Muslims for no wider reason than a feeling of alienation and economic depression? Surely they will have realised this could be a superb source of recruits?

The longer the continentals cannot muster the political will for economic reform the greater the possibility that this unfortunate marriage of propensity to violence and desperation with an ideology of extreme violence is allowed to take place.

No comments: