A wave of anti-terror raids swept across Europe following the tragic attack in Paris.
In Belgium, Germany and France the crack-down on terrorists’ cells resulted in the arrest of Islamist militants who were suspected in recruiting and funding for the Islamic State. Will the public feel safer as a result?
Agree or Disagree debates the role of the security services and the state of safety with professor Andrew Lubin and an international affairs analyst Soraya Sepapur-Ulrich.
How secure do you feel today? Is there enough monitoring done?
Andrew Lubin: I think there are two issues here. Do I feel safe as an American walking around the US? Yes, I do. Will I feel safe walking around the EU? No, I wouldn’t. I think the security services have enough technology. I think that they need more time analyzing what they have. I see that the French have arrested five Chechens who were about to attack a French police station. How did they get there? They didn’t just arrive yesterday. They didn’t just find these people walking in the street. So, they knew they were there. Why weren’t they arrested a week ago, a month ago, a year ago? That’s what I think the security services in the EU need to be looking at.
Soraya Sepapur-Ulrich: As somebody who researches the US foreign policy and writes about it, and speaks about it I feel a lot less safe, because I know for a fact that the extra spying on individuals will intimidate them, will prohibit individuals who do speak out against the Government policies to say what they actually feel. So, on an individual level I feel that I've lost my personal liberties or I'm losing them. Do I feel safe walking around here in the US as an American citizen? I'm an American citizen of Iranian descent. So, I'm more scared of the Government, than I am of any alleged terrorist who may want to take me out or be a threat to me.
How can you avoid racial profiling and yet maintain the necessary level of security?
Andrew Lubin: No, you can’t. I mean, basically, the reason they are targeted is because all these Islamic groups come out of the ME. Targeting the ME, white people – doesn’t stop the problem. Targeting people coming from Pakistan, from Yemen, form other countries – that’s where the problem comes from.
In Europe, for example, we have different generations of Muslims – those who have been living there for quite some time. Most of them are just regular individuals, they have nothing to do with radicalism.
Andrew Lubin: I agree completely, but that is the problem. Your typical nationalistic Russian isn’t the one who is putting bombs in the Moscow subway. It is a Chechen who looks Middle Eastern, who looks swarthy. It is what it is. You can either check everybody coming from Yemen, and by the way, mostly Arabs are Muslims, or you can check the Arabs and Muslims.
Soraya Sepapur-Ulrich: I've never really heard anything as bigoted, as what Andrew has just said. First of all, you have European Muslims and even Chechens, and many of them are blue-eyed and blonde. So, you can’t really profile based on colour. And you can’t really stop people at the airports and say “Excuse me, are you a Muslim? Do you have a ME name? Are you an Arab? Then, you are automatically a suspect.” And many-many acts of terrorism have been carried out by the people in the actual countries that they come from. I think to attack the personal freedoms of individuals is just wrong, and it makes the place even more insecure.
What can be done more is not a matter of more security. I don’t believe the country is unsafe in that sense. What the French could certainly do is to stop arming terrorists in Syria to overthrow somebody else's government. If you want to live in a safe society, you don’t go and export terrorism, you don’t arm the terrorists, you don’t go and encourage the overthrowing of other governments to exploit their resources and whathaveyou, and then say – my country has to be safe.
They keep referring to these people that they were Muslims, when a person of Muslim faith carries out an act, and no matter what act, just like a black person in America might commit a crime, they immediately say “a black person committed a crime”. They never say “a white person committed a crime”. They don’t say “a Christian committed a crime”, but they would say “a Muslim”.
What is the way out here?
Andrew Lubin: I don’t think the situation can be improved. And I think it is a generational problem. You now got a group of people coming out of the ME who think that armed struggle, regardless of whether it is justified or not, is the way to go.
Soraya Sepapur-Ulrich: It is a matter of perception. It is the media that is creating this kind of atmosphere. In 1998 the movie “The Last Temptation of Christ” was shown in Paris. The Saint Michel theatre was burnt down. People were attacked for wanting to go and watch this movie: it was thought offensive to Christianity. And nobody held the whole of the Christian world hostage to the acts of some fundamental Christians. If you want to blame it on a religion, then you have to be fair about it all. I think we are being fed an overdose of propaganda by the media, which is owned by a few corporations. The majority of the media in the world is feeding this fear, so that they can remove our liberties, to make us hate, to diverge from the problems that may exist at home.
And here in America there was only one thing that stood in the way of the Government, openly propagating propaganda and lying to the people, and that was the Smith–Mundt Act of 1945 signed in by Truman: the lies we feed to the foreign audiences cannot be produced at home and directed on the American people. This was conveniently repealed in 2013. So, now the Government has the carte blanche. Not that it did not do it, but it was illegal for it to do it. Now it can legally brainwash the American people into believing everything that they are being told. And regrettably, the corporate media is so strong that Europeans are being victimized with irrational information, unfounded information and lies as well.
So, the only hope that the world has is the Internet. The Internet is able to counter some of this misinformation. It does not need a whole lot of money. And that’s what they are clumping down on.