While much of the Swiss summer has proved miserable, for those of us who managed to get abroad, there were constant reminders of just how globally relevant the Lake Geneva region is. Somehow Switzerland is mentioned one way or another in any media coverage of the Middle East, banking, football, climate change or Ebola.
It was the base murder of American journalist Jim Foley by ISIS jihadists in Syria that brought all this home. Not only does Foley’s kidnapping and eventual killing underline the extreme danger that reporters, mainly freelance, now find themselves in when covering conflicts and humanitarian crises, but it also accentuates the increasingly nefarious role of young extremists brought up in Britain, France and other European countries, including Switzerland. They have abandoned civilized values by going off to fight, murder, rape and torture in the name of Islam.
Even though numbers remain small for Switzerland – an estimated 40–50 residents are believed to have headed off to Syria and Iraq to fight – this is a development that cannot be ignored. It is also an issue that needs to be discussed in schools, where such radicalization begins.
Not all are jihadists. Some have joined pro-Christian groups. But we’re not talking about idealistic Spanish Civil War volunteers. What makes everything so volatile is their need to resolve issues with sheer brutality at the end of a gun, or by beheading or crucifying anyone who thinks differently.
Even though many foreign jihadists are being – or will be – killed, it is likely that some will one day return home, together with their radicalism. This happened before when militants, including Osama bin Laden as well as European and American converts, headed off to Afghanistan in search of jihad and brought the concept of the “New Islamic Man”.
If such extremism is to be thwarted, Switzerland’s religious communities need to be more assertive. This includes the influential Islamic Centre of Geneva, which needs to condemn – clearly and loudly – atrocities committed in the name of Islam. In the same manner, Switzerland’s Jewish community needs to be far more critical of abusive Israeli military actions against civilians in Gaza or the building of illegal settlements, all of which contribute toward increased radicalization.
But why not a joint approach by all of Switzerland’s religious communities condemning what is unacceptable and condoning what actually contributes to the betterment of humanity, which, after all, is what Switzerland supposedly represents?
“In the same manner, Switzerland’s Jewish community needs to be far more critical of abusive Israeli military actions against civilians in Gaza or the building of illegal settlements, all of which contribute toward increased radicalization.”
In one short sentence you’ve lost your credibility, demonstrated your ignorance of reality and aligned yourself with anti-Semites (Turkey and Venezuela). While the terrorists act in the name of their religion, Israel acts to defend its citizens. Thousands of rockets have been fired into Israel and the Israeli government acted to eliminate the terror tunnels and stop the rocket fire. While Hamas claims that all casualties are civilians, analysis of the demographics indicate that the majority of deaths are adult males – potential terrorists. There are thousands of photographs and video from Gaza, but no pictures of armed terrorists and only 1 video of a rocket launch (by an Indian TV station – the crew took the video from their hotel room – yes, the rocket was fired in the middle of crowded, civilian center). It is wrong to blame increasing Islamic radicalization on Israel. Saudi Arabia and Egypt quietly sided with Israel’s actions to stop Hamas terrorism. Asking Swiss Jews to criticize Israel is just like Turkey and Venezuela demanding their Jewish populations to criticize Israel. Let’s not forget that the Hamas charter wants to destroy Israel (from the Jordan River to the Sea) and kill all Jews (not just the ones in Israel). Extremism needs to be thwarted and vibrant democracies like Israel need to be supported.
Jeremy McTeague says
We do not seek to back either side in what is a prolongued and highly polemic discussion. I would though wish to correct you on one of your assertions. More than one video of the rockets attacks on Israel have been filmed. I suggest that you look at BBC, TSR, TF1, CNN and other station’s coverage. This article seeks to ask moderates to espouse support for moderate humanity and not remain silent in the face of the radical thoughtlessness that is spouting forth and diminishing the possibility of peaceful resolution.
Supporting moderate humanity and not remaining silent in the face of radical thoughtlessness is a worthy goal. However, equating the actions of a sovereign nation to protect its citizens with the actions of terrorist organization that purposely targets innocent civilians and launches rockets next to hospitals, next to schools and in residential areas is wrong. The videos you refer to show rockets in the air. The video I mentioned shows the launching of a rocket by terrorists next to a hotel used by foreign correspondents and in the middle of a crowded, civilian area. The massive amounts of concrete, rebar and labor used to build terrorist tunnels could have been used to build housing, hospitals and develop the economy. If we have learned anything from history, it is that remaining silent is wrong, speaking out against hatred is not enough and that rigorous action to stop evil is necessary.
Christiane Mitchell Martin says
Thank you for this interesting article. I think that extremism are very dangerous. Wether political or religious. In Geneva there are many problems and no control of what is said in the Geneva Mosk, I know that some “non-radiacal” muslims do not allow their kids to attend the Geneva mosk as it is too extremist.