Spain: Today's Islamist Radicalization


In Spain, there has been a process of radicalization in the Muslim population. Fortunately this has been minimal and in chronological terms, rather late. However it has accelerated greatly in recent years.

Radicalization has obviously more greatly affected people from countries with larger Muslim communities (Morocco) and historically established communities (Syria). However, in some places despite having a Muslim minority, radicalism has appeared (Algeria). Other cases, such as Tunisia, are less significant though they are useful in demonstrating the ubiquity of the terrorist threat in the Arab-Muslim world. As in other European and Western countries, jihadists have taken maximum advantage of living in an open society with access to Internet and diverse mass media, freedom of expression, freedom of association, and freedom of religion (camouflaging among believers) in order to spread the Salafist jihadist ideology. Multicultural societies possessing this type of make up, and promoting the view of "live and let live," are suited for the establishment of ghettos where jihadists seem to find a place to live and work very effectively.

Arab-Muslim immigrants' integration with the native population for daily activities such as children's education, work, leisure, extracurricular activities, etc., must be supported in order to break the Manichean vision of "them and us," which according to Salafist jihadist ideology, creates antagonism, hatred, and the desire for confrontation.

Special attention must be given to the spreading of jihadists' networks and cells. There is a worrisome concentration in Catalonia where Maghrebian communities co-exist with an important Pakistani community. We must closely watch for proselytism among young people, and not so young people, due to the vicinity of the border with France and the rest of the European Union.

Prisons have been and continue to be particularly attractive for proselytism. More human and material means are required to prevent jails from becoming schools for Salafist jihadism. In some places this has already occurred. One should not forget that common crime circles are especially attractive for Salafist jihadists because they take offer covertness for their terrorist goals.

The "traditional friendship with the Arab world," the understanding for "Arab causes," and the old location of al Andalus on Spanish soil turn our country into fertile ground for present and future increased proselytism. In the most recent external message by Ayman al Zawahiri on April 3, he repeats his threats against Spain, and considers Ceuta and Melilla as "inseparable entities of Spanish crusaders." Messages such as this one serve to keep the combatant flame alive. They act as reminders for followers that Spanish soil must remain a priority.

The new young Muslim community has not only arisen due to the family regrouping process and the natural development of immigrated families, but also due to the amounts of Moroccan minors entering illegally into Spain and settling down in our country. This makes the control of Salafist jihadist propaganda and construction of a Manichean vision of the world absolutely necessary. This is an important issue to address now and the future.

Spain must learn from other European countries and adopt clear measures for restraining the power of radicalized messages. They cannot worry that they are violating rights or sacrificing liberties. It is not about sacrificing rights. It is instead about protecting democracy and freedom; it is about fighting against the enemies of democracy and freedom that are in our midst and just outside our borders.

Source: ISN Security (English)

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