German authorities and those across Europe seem finally to be strengthening their campaign against the militant far-right, including Muslim extremists, during the past few weeks.
This awakening, however, seems to be coming after a major price that Europe had to pay in terms of death and chaos unleashed by terrorists in Germany, Belgium, France, Denmark, and so on.
Governments across Europe seem to be switching into panic mode to prevent the rise of European radicalism through the rise of the far-right, racism and nationalism throughout the entire continent.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel sounds as if she is backing down a bit from championing the influx of migrants and her slogan of "We can do it!" in developing a multicultural society. She not only vowed to Germans in an address last week that the migrant crisis must never be repeated; she also called for an all-out ban on the full-face veil covering in Germany.
Following Merkel's lead, Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière also proposed a partial ban on veils, and pronounced them contrary to assimilation.
The dramatic shift in policy might be a consequence of the planned and perpetrated acts of terrorism by extremist Muslims, many of whom are the migrants on whom Merkel placed her hopes. It might also be the result of the resultant rise of European neo-Nazis. More likely, it would appear to come from an eye to re-election.
Merkel was declared by many the only defender of the free world after the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president. Perhaps, after the surprising victory of Donald Trump, she realized that it might be a good idea finally to address the grievances of her fellow countrymen.
The brutal rape and murder of a 19-year-old German woman, Maria Ladenburger, apparently by Afghan migrant who claims to be 17 years old, seems to have been the last nail in the coffin of Merkel's open-door migrant policy, which she had promised to not to let go even after extreme opposition from within her own party's leadership.
Ladenburger had been a medical student volunteering at a migrant housing facility. Her murderer had reportedly seen her in the shelter. The incident set off shockwaves not only in the Germany but also across Europe, especially after promises by Germany's interior ministry to deport as many Afghan citizens as possible after failing to confirm any credible claims for asylum.
In the meanwhile, authorities in Berlin last weekend announced the arrest of an Afghan citizen who was actively involved in terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, while living part-time in Germany.
German police a few weeks back also launched an operation against a Salafist group in the country, whose members were brainwashing Muslim youths, mostly in Germany, to get jihadist training and join the Islamic State's battle against the world in Syria and Iraq.
The Salafist organization had registered itself as a social work entity under the cover of distributing the Quran in markets and public places, and claiming to be bridging the gap between the West and Islam.
One suspect was arrested in Aschaffenburg and another was detained in Mannheim, on the allegation of plotting an Islamically motivated attack on a public place.
This recent shift in strategy is also a lesson that the West has learnt a bit too late, despite having experienced similar assaults not that long ago by the Nazis, Mussolini, Lenin, Stalin as well as terror organizations such as Baader Meinhof, al-Shebaab, ETA, the Red Brigades, Hamas, Al Qaeda, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah, to name just a few.
Since the unprecedented terror attacks in France, Belgium and Germany, citizens across the Europe have been living in constant fear. They seem to be sick and tired of the Muslim extremists; children might be in danger on their way to school, and shopping takes place under the protection of soldiers.
Since the unprecedented terror attacks in France, Belgium and Germany, citizens have been living in constant fear. In France, soldiers are deployed in the streets. Pictured: A soldier on guard at the Eiffel Tower in Paris. (Image source: Kirsteen/Flickr)
With Brexit, the election of Donald Trump, and Italy's referendum, there seems to be a snowball effect. The growing influence of the Alternative for Germany (AfD), the National Front in France, the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands, the Freedom Party Austria and the Five Star Movement in Italy all appear to be byproducts of the same rhetoric.
The dull reaction of a vast number of European Muslims to the rising wave of terror and violence has also contributed to this shift. Increasing numbers of native-born Europeans seem angry and distrustful of their fellow Muslim citizens, especially when everyone else has come out loud and clear in denouncing terrorist crimes.
Ironically, those who dare to speak out against extremists either face severe consequences, such as death threats, or are called anti-Muslim bigots. This kind of response often discourages progressive voices from speaking out, and understates the progress of counter-extremism even within the Muslim community. Opposition voices still might be there -- more than ever. They just go underground.
The majority of Muslims in the West seem oblivious to the fact that they would be the greatest victims of empowered lunatic extremists such as ISIS or neo-Nazis, because both would try to punish progressive Muslims either for remaining silent about terrorist attacks or for not joining the bandwagon for ISIS.
Progressive Muslims should realize that their voices matter at this sensitive time if they do not want to end up being losers between those two extremes.
The failed political policies of the global powers have started to translate into a dreadful future for humanity where a clone of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Anders Breivik or a Neville Chamberlain clone might be calling the shots, and the civilized world would become a hell for those caught in the middle, the rest of us.
Khadija Khan is a Pakistan-based journalist and commentator.