We are facing increasing crises in the world today. In the Middle East, so far, it is a security crisis, but other countries around the world are facing a more existential crises from serious ideological threats.
In Europe, we are seeing the old continent facing serious problems. Some are related to external factors such as refugees but there are also internal issues. The dominant topic being discussed in the media, amongst analysts and ordinary people on the street is around Islam and the fear of terrorist attacks. It is a major topic of conversation and debate across the populace and the arguments are starting to impact society.
The populist xenophobic trend sweeping through Europe does not appear to be temporary, but more of a cultural shift that could have broader impacts on European cohesion, which at the moment is tenuous at best.
While the right wing parties in the recent election in the Netherlands did not poll as high as expected, they still attracted 19% of the vote. This is a very strong base to build on for the future and will result in increased power and influence.
The next European elections coming up are in France, where the potential victory of Marine Le Pen will establish a new trajectory for the whole continent. Should Le Pen win, she will find it very difficult to separate from the EU, as that will require a referendum. However, her policies are likely to create difficulties for broader European economic policy and put the European Central Bank and EU unity in general at risk.
On the eastern front, the policies of the Turkish Government are playing into the shift as they adopt anti-EU rhetoric and policies calling for Turks inside Europe to move in favor the Turkish President. With provocations such as his characterization of the demographic battle that Muslims should focus on in their approach to invade Europe can be seen as assisting extremist groups whose doctrine is based on the concept of intimidation and fear. Still, the refugee issue is being used as leverage by the Turkish government to blackmail Europe and threaten its internal systems.
Ideologies are reshaping across Europe in what can be characterized as a post-ideology era, as doctrines are changing. The goal of moderate governments is to deprive extremist groups from dominating the debate. This requires a clever approach to the issue of identity and religion within national borders with a serious application to maintain the rule of law and the authority of the state in order to take oxygen from the narrative of populist and xenophobic groups.
Europe must protect the values of its civilization based on respect, dignity, justice, liberty, diversity and human rights.
Dr. Amer Al Sabaileh