In 24 hours, Spain suffered two major terror attacks. A jihadist cell killed 15 people in Barcelona and the seaside resort of Cambrils. In the past year, Germany was the other European country hit hard by armed Islamists. First, a jihadist plowed a large truck through a Christmas market in central Berlin and murdered 12 people. Then a man wielding a knife murdered one person during an attack at a supermarket in Hamburg.
One day after the carnage in Barcelona, another terror attack took place in Turku, Finland. Two women were murdered in the market square of the country's oldest city. Jihad -- in Finland?
Jihad -- in Finland? Terrorists do not need an excuse to butcher "infidels". On August 18, an Islamic terrorist murdered two women in in Turku, Finland, during a stabbing spree in the city's market square. Pictured: The Aura River in Turku. (Image source: Arthur Kho Caayon/Wikimedia Commons)
The Islamist attacks against Spain, Germany and Finland unmasked the central problem: Pacifism will not protect Europe from either Islamization or terror attacks. Spain and Germany were, in fact, among the most reluctant countries in Europe to take an active role in the anti-ISIS coalition.
John Vinocur of the Wall Street Journal recently defined Germany as "a country where the army and air force basically do not fight". And Spanish politicians, since the 2004 train bombings, have not backed U.S. and NATO operations in countries such as Libya and Mali. Spain has been described as a "reluctant partner" in the anti-ISIS coalition.
Spain and Germany contribute less than others to NATO's efforts. US President Donald Trump has made clear that the existence of NATO is contingent on members meeting their agreed-upon obligations of spending 2% of GDP on defense. Spain spends less than half of that -- 0.91 percent. Germany does only a little better -- at 1.19 percent. Finland never even joined NATO.
The surprise of the Finnish élite over the Turku attack was noted by The Financial Times:
"The Nordic country of 5m people does not feature prominently in jihadi invective against the west. Despite Finland's armed forces having occasionally supported Nato missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, the country's longstanding nonaligned and peaceable military status has insulated it from most blowback from crises in the Middle East."
In 2004, al-Qaeda, for the first time, was able to effect a regime change in Europe after committing terror atrocities on Madrid's trains. Shortly after those bombings, Spain's election turned into a referendum on its involvement in the Iraq War. The Socialist Party's dramatic upset victory was followed by a withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq. Since then, Spain has been almost non-existent in the international arena. Probably assuming that pacifism shielded it from further attacks, Spain was regarded as "the forgotten front in Europe's ISIS war".
The Spanish press was diligently indifferent to any debate on freedom of expression, then, as now, under attack by Islamists in Europe. The Spanish press did not participate in a discussion of the Mohammed cartoons; no Spanish writer was accused of "Islamophobia", and no Spanish personality was put under police protection for "criticizing Islam". It seemed as if Spain were not even interested in what was at stake in Islamist attacks on Europe's very existence. No Spanish city made headlines for having multicultural ghettos, as in France and Britain. The attack in Barcelona should have ended this illusion. Terrorists do not need an excuse to butcher "infidels".
Germany, the most generous country in Europe in welcoming Muslims, followed the same fate as Spain. The German government struck a cozy deal with Turkey about the migrants; and when a comedian, Jan Böhmermann, made a joke about a Muslim politician, the German government allowed its legal system to put the comedian on trial.
The sad conclusion seems to be that that jihadists do not need a "reason" to kill Westerners. They attack equally France, which conducts military operations in the Middle East and North Africa, and countries such as Spain and Germany, which are neutral. It is enough for them to state, that, according to Islamic doctrine, land once under Muslim rule is forever under Islamic rule. As Spain ("Al Andalus" for Islamists) was under Islamic rule until the Christian Reconquista (which began in 722), and then Muslims were expelled in 1492, the country, according to Muslim extremists, permanently belongs to Islam and therefore must be taken back.
About the massacre in Barcelona, the French philosopher Pascal Bruckner commented:
"no one is immune.... The picture that comes to me is that of The Plague of Albert Camus: a scourge that falls on an innocent city. The extension of the field of jihadist struggle is universal. The terrorists charge the whole world for their failure. They knock where they can hit. Trying to please them is vain, it is our very existence that is unbearable to them".
To paraphrase Trotsky, you may not be interested in fighting jihadism, but jihadism is interested in fighting you.
Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.