Archive for European Union

See, We Told You: Geert Wilders Xenophobia is Not Limited to Muslims

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 15, 2012 by loonwatch

Still my favorite picture of Geert Wilders

Far-right populist Geert Wilders has made a name for himself through his anti-Muslim and anti-Arab rhetoric, and for this reason he is, to quote Robert Spencer, one of the “heroes” of the anti-Muslim movement.

We have consistently pointed out however that Geert Wilders and his allies are not one stop bigots. Behind the “acceptable” attacks on Muslims is hidden a wider xenophobia against ‘the other.’ A bigotry which if not born out of any consistent ideological character is definitely a reflection of the realization that playing on the fears of the majority may lead to positive results at the ballot box.

Wilders and his party, the PVV are riding a wave of popularity through the launch of an anti-Polish/anti-Eastern European website which has been the cause of much controversy and embarrassment in the Netherlands. After launching the site it was reported that the PVV,

would gain 24 seats in parliament if elections were held today, the number of seats the party currently holds, says pollster Maurice de Hond. Geert Wilders’ populist far-right party is the third largest party in the Netherlands.

Wilders’ PVV site displays,

news clippings with bold headlines blaming foreigners for petty crime, noise nuisance – and taking jobs from the Dutch. “Are immigrants from Central and Eastern countries bothering you? We’d like to hear from you,” it says.

The Dutch government has distanced itself from the website but this hasn’t ebbed the disastrous PR that Wilders move has generated.

Besides criticism from ten European ambassadors and the European Commission, the Dutch public has also expressed concerns about possible repercussions. Poles are calling for a boycott of Dutch products.(emphasis mine)

The issue was taken to the European parliament which just yesterday announced its ‘dismay’ and formal response to Wilders most recent populist move:

EP condemns PVV website, exec puts ball in Netherlands’ court

By Gaspard Sebag in Strasbourg | Wednesday 14 March 2012 (Europolitics.info)

Representatives of the political groups in the European Parliament, on 13 March, unanimously called upon the Netherlands’ Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, to condemn a website launched by his far-right political ally, the PVV party headed by Geert Wilders. Said website, up since early February, urges Dutch citizens to report problems they experience with nationals of Central and Eastern European countries. “Unacceptable,” “a disgrace,” “scandalous” – said MEPs. The European Commission, for its part, announced it would not get involved from a legal point of view and leaves the responsibility of assessing the lawfulness of the website to the Dutch authorities. A joint parliamentary resolution will be put to the vote, on 15 March (see box).

The EPP, which counts among its ranks the junior partner in the Netherlands’ government, the centre-right CDA, was particularly vocal. “We cannot tolerate, from a party that takes part in a coalition government, a call to hatred against nationals from another member state. That is unacceptable,” said EPP leader Joseph Daul (France).

Despite the fact that Rutte is part of the Liberal political family, ALDE Chair Guy Verhofstadt (Belgium) was unequivocal about condemning the “silence” of the Dutch government and the message sent by the website. “My group has nothing but contempt for Mr Wilders’ initiative.” Recalling the need to be even-handed in criticising populist tactics, Verhofstadt lumped together French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Wilders. “I wonder who is the extreme-right wing candidate [in France], is it [Marine] Le Pen or Sarkozy?” he asked.

Reactions from other political group leaders all condemned Rutte’s passivity, whose hands are tied by his need for Wilders’ support, and who thus claims it is not a governmental issue. S&D leader Hannes Swoboda (Austria) called for the website to be closed down. Polish deputy Jacek Kurski (EFD) said Rutte’s lack of reaction is “scandalous”. “The prime minister [of the Netherlands] is not taking up his responsibility,” said Marije Cornelissen (Greens-EFA, Netherlands). “The prime minister ought to have directly condemned this website,” said Peter van Dalen (ECR, Netherlands), adding, however, that the EP holding a debate on this issue is “too much honour” for Wilders.

Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, who had already condemned the PVV website in February, welcomed the comments made in the plenary chamber. “It is unacceptable that EU citizens become target of xenophobic attitudes because they have exercised their right to move from one state to another,” she said. Reding also called upon on the Dutch authorities to “fully investigate the lawfulness of the website under Dutch law and Union law”.

According to Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE-NGL, France), this is not enough. “You continue to refer to member states and their tribunals but I thought that the Commission was the guardian of the treaties, that freedom of circulation and non-discrimination were part of the European values,” she said. “I notice that certain values are more important than others and that in economic matters when the free circulation of goods and capital is concerned, competition barriers the Commission is prompter to condemn,” added Vergiat.

Europol Reports Zero Deaths from Islamic Terrorism in Europe

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 24, 2011 by loonwatch

Europol tracks terrorist attacks in the European Union and publishes the data in an annual report entitled EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report (TE-SAT).  The first such report was for the year 2006 and the most recently released one was for 2010.  Going through the data, I noted in my previous article (Updated Europol Data: Less Than 1% of Terrorist Attacks by Muslims) that less than 1% of terrorist attacks on European soil were committed by Muslims.

Anti-Muslim bigots were naturally very upset with these findings, and offered a couple flimsy counter-responses.  The most popular one was some variation of the following snarky remark:

Perhaps ‘scale’ rather than ‘quantity’ is the real issue here? ;)

But, is it?

I went back through the data, which revealed the following conclusion: there were zero deaths from Islamist terrorism for every single year the Europol reports were published, a span of five years.

Here is the data (all quotes are taken directly from that year’s Europol terrorism report):

In 2006, there were no successful terrorist attacks by Muslims, but only 1 “failed terrorist attack that took place in Germany” resulting in zero deaths.

In 2007, once again “[t]here were no successful Islamist terrorist attacks” with 1 “failed terrorist attack that took place in Germany” and 3 “attempted terrorist attack[s]” resulting in zero deaths.

In 2008, there was only 1 terrorist attack by Muslims, in which “only the attacker himself was injured.”  Again, zero deaths.  But, the scale of the Islamist terrorist attacks make up for the fact that 99+% of terrorist attacks were by non-Muslims!  (Note: there were no other attempted or foiled attacks in that year.)

In 2009, there was only 1 terrorist attack by Muslims, resulting in zero deaths but “[o]ne of the guards trying to stop [the terrorist] was slightly wounded.”  The scale!  The horror!

In 2010, “[t]he number of Islamist terrorist attacks actually carried out in the EU was limited to three attacks in 2010.  They caused minimal damage to the intended targets.”  The report notes further that “[t]he attacks shared some characteristics” including “lack of familiarity with explosives.”  But, be very afraid of these Mastermind Terrorists!  In the first attack, the victim “managed to save his life” by locking himself in a room.  In the second attack, the Mastermind Terrorist accidentally let the bomb explode while “in a hotel toilet,” resulting in zero fatalities.  In the last attack, ”the suspected suicide bomber himself was the only fatality.”  Once again, there were zero deaths from Islamist terrorism in that year.

This brings us to a grand total of zero deaths from Islamist terrorism from every year since Europol started keeping track of terrorism and publishing an annual report.  Amazingly, it seems that the only injuries sustained, in the entire five year period, was to one guard who “was slightly wounded.”

Yet, even though according to the data in their own reports Muslims were responsible for less than 1% of terrorist attacks and caused zero deaths, Europol ominously warns that “the threat [from Islamist terrorism] remains real and serious” and “the threat of Islamist terrorism by Al-Qaeda inspired groups and affiliates is high.”  Every year, without fail, Europol has reported these same findings, but never once did any of these reports note that the threat of Islamist terrorism is heavily exaggerated.  In fact, the data they provide is irrelevant to their conclusions and recommendations, which are actually predetermined long before any data is collected or analyzed.

In one of his recent articles, Glenn Greenwald notes that U.S. officials declared that they have defeated Al-Qaeda by rendering it “operationally ineffective” but at the same time warned that “the terrorist group will remain a major security threat for years.”  It seems that both the United States and the European Union are able to operate under such paradoxical premises.

Similarly, facts will not move Islamophobes.  Even as their main arguments fall apart, they will no doubt find some fall-back argument to rely upon.

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.

Updated Europol Data: Less Than 1% of Terrorist Attacks by Muslims

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 23, 2011 by loonwatch

The most popular article published on LoonWatch was released in January of 2010: that article showed that, according to the official FBI website, only 6% of terrorist attacks in the United States from 1980-2005 (the only years where data was available) were committed by Muslims.

I published a follow-up article to look at the picture across the pond: I cited official data from Europol, which releases an annual terrorism report entitled EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report (TE-SAT). The first available such report was for the year 2006.  The data from 2006, 2007, and 2008 showed that about 0.4% of terrorist attacks in the European Union were committed by Muslims–less than 1% (actually, less than half of 1%).

Today, I’d like to update our readers with new Europol data: the data for 2009 and 2010 is now available.

Once again, a minuscule percentage of terrorist attacks in Europe were committed by Muslims.  In 2009 and 2010, there were a grand total of 543 terrorist attacks, of which only 4 were committed by Muslims.  This means that only 0.7% of terrorist attacks–again, less than 1%–were committed by Muslims.

Meanwhile, in that same time frame, separatist groups in Europe committed 397 terrorist attacks, or 73% of terrorist attacks overall.  In other words, separatist groups committed 99.2 times (almost 100 times) more terrorist attacks than Muslims.

Another 85 attacks were committed by left-wing groups, accounting for about 16% of terrorist attacks overall.

Here is the data for 2009:

And for 2010:

In the 2010 report, the annex contains a summary of the results from the previous and current years:

(Due to size constraints, the table is a bit difficult to read here; you can see the actual report here.)

This “mega-table” shows that from 2007 to 2009, out of 1,317 terrorist attacks only 3 of them were committed by Muslims.  From a percentage standpoint, that means only about 0.2% of terrorist attacks in Europe were committed by Muslims in those years–again, far less than 1%.

If we combine the data from the years Europol started keeping track of terrorist attacks–including 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010–we see that out of a grand total of 2,139 terrorist attacks only 10 of them were committed by Muslims.  You can count the number of terrorist attacks by Muslims on your fingertips.  Percentage wise, this means that 0.5% of terrorist attacks in Europe–half of 1%–were committed by Muslims.

In spite of this fact, all we ever hear about in the media and national discourse is the threat of “Islamist terrorism.” The data, however, does not support such fear-mongering.   Yet, it is amazing how many people will persist in the belief that “Islamist terrorism” is an existential threat to America and Europe.

What is more amazing, however, are the Europol reports themselves.  Year after year they report the same data, with terrorist attacks by Muslims numbering anywhere from zero to four incidents, always less than 1% of the total.  For example, the 2010 EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report showed that only 1 Islamist terrorist attack took place in the entire previous year.  In that year (as in every year), separatist and leftist terrorism dwarfed Islamist terrorism by a magnitude of 237:1 and 40:1 respectively.  Nonetheless, the report notes that “Islamist terrorism is still perceived as the biggest threat to most Member States” and concludes that “the threat remains real and serious.”  No statement in the publication indicates that the perceived threat is exaggerated.

In 2010, there were 249 terrorist attacks; only 3 of these were committed by Islamists and the attacks themselves were described by the 2011 Europol report as “caus[ing] minimal damage.”  Yet, the same report ominously warns that “the threat of Islamist terrorism by Al-Qaeda inspired groups and affiliates is high.”  The report also includes xenophobic warnings about the threat of Muslim immigration to Europe, warning:

The current and future flow of immigrants originating from North Africa could have an influence on the EU’s security situation. Individuals with terrorist aims could easily enter Europe amongst the large numbers of immigrants.

So, three goons do something, and then the entire North African community is to be stigmatized?

Instead of drawing the obvious conclusion that the threat of “Islamic terrorism” is heavily exaggerated, the authors of these Europol reports continue to publish alarmist conclusions that simply do not match up with the data that they themselves provide.

*  *  *  *  *

When I published my previous article on terrorist attacks inside America and Europe, anti-Muslim critics giddily pointed out that the very same reports warned of the threat of Islamist terrorism.  The data also showed that a disproportionately large minority of suspects arrested, detained, or wanted for terrorism-related offenses were Muslims.

This is not something I dispute.  In fact, this finding supports my main argument: the FBI, CIA, Homeland Security, the United States government, and their European counterparts are wrongfully targeting the Muslim community.  The disparity between actual terrorist attacks committed by Muslims on the one hand and the number of Muslims arrested on the other speaks to this grave injustice, blatant discrimination, and misguided policy.

The 2010 Europol report notes:

Reported court decisions related to separatist and left-wing terrorism have the highest acquittal rate (15 %).

Guess who has the lowest acquittal rate?  If your name is Abdallah ibn Masood al-Tamimi, you don’t stand a chance.

Furthermore, the report goes on to say (emphasis is mine):

Suspected membership of a terrorist organisation and the financing of terrorism were the two most common reasons for arrests related to Islamist terrorism.

In fact:

The majority of arrests were made on suspicion of membership of a terrorist organisation.

In other words, the most common reasons Muslims were arrested were not for actually planning or carrying out terrorist attacks…not even for being suspected of that.  Rather, it was for suspected membership of a terrorist organization.  But, here’s the real gem:

As in 2008, two-thirds of the individuals arrested on suspicion of involvement in Islamist terrorism could not be linked to specific terrorist organisations known to the authorities.

So, let me get this straight: Muslims were arrested for suspected links to terrorist groups, except the authorities didn’t even know to which ones?  How much evidence could these authorities possibly have if they didn’t even know the names of the supposed groups that these Muslims were allegedly affiliated to were suspected to be affiliated to?

As for financing terrorism, we all know how that works: there is the famous case of the highly-esteemed Islamic intellectual Dr. Tariq Ramadan who donated money to two Palestinian charities between 1998 and 2002.  In 2003, the United States designated both of these charities as “terrorist fundraising organizations” for their alleged support of Hamas.  Dr. Ramadan did not give any more money to these charities  after that.  Even so, the United States government accused Tariq Ramadan of “providing material support to a terrorist organization.”  They argued that he “reasonably should have known” that the charities provided money to Hamas.  Ramadan naturally responded: “How should I reasonably have known of their activities before the U.S. government itself knew?”

The same situation happens with other Muslims, to the point where now Muslim communities are too scared to donate to Islamic charities or to charities located in their ancestral countries.  Even President Barack Obama seemed to appreciate this problem in a speech he gave in Cairo.

Muslims are arrested at a rate that does not correlate with the actual number of terrorist acts committed by Muslims simply because the majority of them are arrested not for actual, attempted, or even planned terrorist attacks.  Rather, they are arrested for “providing material support for terrorism”–the absolutest vaguest of charges, one that I suspect a future generation will be smart enough to prohibit by law.  Using such Gestapo style laws, Muslims can be arrested for mere suspicion of being part of an unknown terrorist organization, with little or no proof needed to levy such charges; alternatively, they can be arrested for “financing terrorism,” which often just means donating to charities that even the government hasn’t banned yet.  Other offenses for which Muslims are arrested for include producing “propaganda”, which here in the U.S. would be considered Constitutionally protected freedom of speech (but is now prosecuted due to the curtailing of freedoms of speech in the War on of Terror) or even for merely expressing unpopular political views.

*  *  *  *  *

Clearly, the data proves that Islamist terrorism is not a major threat to the United States or Europe.  Anyone who believes it to be an existential threat should be considered alarmist and even a bit insane.

We’ve all heard the oft-repeated saying of Islamophobes that “all Muslims might not be terrorists, but (almost) all terrorists are Muslims!”  Without any shadow of doubt, this mantra is patently false.  Not just that, but certainly in the case of Europe it’s completely reversed from reality: all Muslims aren’t terrorists, and almost no terrorist attacks are committed by them–less than 1%.

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.

Europol Report: All Terrorists are Muslims…Except the 99.6% that Aren’t

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 28, 2010 by loonwatch
Europol releases an annual study of terrorism; the results do not support claims that "(nearly) all Muslims are terrorists"Europol releases an annual study of terrorism; the results do not support claims that “(nearly) all Muslims are terrorists”

Islamophobes have been popularizing the claim that “not all Muslims are terrorists, but (nearly) all terrorists are Muslims.”  Despite this idea becoming axiomatic in some circles, it is quite simply not factual.  In my previous article entitled “All Terrorists are Muslims…Except the 94% that Aren’t”, I usedofficial FBI records to show that only 6% of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil from 1980 to 2005 were carried out by Islamic extremists.  The remaining 94% were from other groups (42% from Latinos, 24% from extreme left wing groups, 7% from extremist Jews, 5% from communists, and 16% from all other groups).

But what about across the pond?  The data gathered by Europol strengthens my argument even further. (hat tip: Koppe)  Europol publishes an annual report entitled EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report.  On their official website, you can access the reports from 20072008, and 2009.  (If anyone can find the reports from earlier than that, please let me know so we can include those as well.)

The results are stark, and prove decisively that not all terrorists are Muslims.  In fact, a whopping 99.6% of terrorist attacks in Europe were by non-Muslim groups; a good 84.8% of attacks were from separatist groups completely unrelated to Islam.  Leftist groups accounted for over sixteen times as much terrorism as radical Islamic groups.  Only a measly 0.4% of terrorist attacks from 2007 to 2009 could be attributed to extremist Muslims.

Here are the official tables provided in the reports…

For 2006:

20063b

For 2007:

2007b

For 2008:

20081b

(According to the report, there was 1 “Islamist attack” in the UK in 2008, which was omitted in the table above.  It has been included in the bar graph below.)

Just glancing at those tables is enough to know how absurd it is to claim that “all terrorists are Muslims.”  That statement is nowhere near the truth.  If we compile the data, it comes out to this:

barchart-copy

 

On p.7, the 2009 Europol report concludes:

Islamist terrorism is still perceived as being the biggest threat worldwide, despite the fact that the EU only faced one Islamist terrorist attack in 2008.  This bomb attack took place in the UK…Separatist terrorism remains the terrorism area which affects the EU most. This includes Basque separatist terrorism in Spain and France, and Corsican terrorism in France…Past contacts between ETA and the FARC illustrate the fact that also separatist terrorist organizations seek cooperation partners outside the EU on the basis of common interests.  In the UK, dissident Irish republican groups, principally the RIRA and the CIRA, and other paramilitary groups may continue to engage in crime and violence.

Perception is not reality.  Due to the right wing’s influence and propaganda, people mistakenly think that Islamic terrorism is the greatest threat to the Western world.  It is even a commonly held belief that Islamic terrorism poses an existential threat–that the very survival of the Western world is at stake.  Of course, the reality is that there are other groups that engage in terrorism on a much larger scale, yet these terrorist incidents are minimized.  Acts of terrorism committed by Muslims are purposefully sensationalized and focused upon, culminating in the idea that “(nearly) all terrorists are Muslims.”

Terrorism from Islamic extremists is certainly a cause for concern, but it need not be an issue that creates mass hysteria.  Nor should it be allowed to be such a critical issue that we are willing to sacrifice our ideals or civil rights for fear of it.  Neither should we be reduced to a status of absolute sissitude.  We have analyzed data from America and Europe (a good portion of the entire Western world), and the threat from Islamic terrorism is much more minimal than commonly assumed; in the U.S., it accounts for 6% of terrorist attacks, and in Europe not even half of a percent.

It is only through sensationalism and fear mongering that the topic of Islamic terrorism is allowed to be used to demonize a religious community that happens to be a minority in the West.  When confronted by such lunacy, we ought to respond with the facts and the truth.

In a future article, we shall analyze the data for terrorism on the world stage in order to further strengthen our argument…