One of the biggest problems facing the Islam across the world is the radicalization of young Muslims to perform violent acts of terrorism. A majority of these radical extremists was once shy, loving and law abiding citizens who suddenly turn to Islam in its purest form as their ideology. The recent spate of attacks in Europe, from the Brussels bombing to the Paris and Jewish Museum attack in Belgium, is quite revealing. The radicalization of Muslims in Europe is taking place on a larger scale in Europe in comparison to the United States (“Homegrown terror threat higher in Europe than U.S., academics say – CBS News,” n.d.). Authorities across the European continent reveal this reality, especially when the terror threat levels keep on rising, an indication that they are well aware of this existential threat. In this essay, I will discuss the main reasons why radicalization of Muslims has been on the rise in Europe in comparison to the United States.
Firstly, European consists of states that directly border nations with a majority Muslim population. Due to the ongoing civil war in Syria and the subsequent destabilization of Iraq by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (I.S.I.S.), the number of Muslims in Europe increased almost overnight. Refugees fleeing the fighting had to seek asylum in European countries in the hope o a better life. Failure by authorities in these countries to track down individuals crossing their borders also worsens the crisis, especially when violent extremists returning from hotbeds of Islamic insurgency revert to the European homelands (Farmer, 2011, p. 25). It creates fertile ground for radicalization, especially by insurgents disguising themselves as refugees who interact with the Muslims in their host countries, conveying their poisonous dogma to them. The movement of individuals capable of imparting the jihadist ideology was the case with Jojoen Bontrick, a fourteen-year-old Belgian who went to fight in Syria. After his stint fighting Assad’s government forces came back home undetected but was later apprehended by the authorities (“From Belgium to ISIS | The New Yorker,” n.d.). Such is not the case in the United States due to the absence of a land crossing from areas of conflict its hinterland. Additionally, a strict screening process makes it difficult for individuals likely to radicalize American Muslims to get into the country.
Europe faces an integration challenge in comparison to the United States. European Muslims feel largely alienated, especially when poverty and poor social service become conditions that seem to affect their community the most. It is common to witness this state of affairs in most European neighborhoods suggesting lack of integration. It is very likely that parochial feelings develop among members of groups and they may end up feeling like second class citizens. Moreover, the rise in right-wing nationalism has seen made the Muslim community a target of jingoistic and chauvinistic voices that denounce them on a day to day basis. As a result, it becomes easy for jihadist to radicalize them at their local mosque or through jihadi dark web chat rooms. They may encourage them to travel to conflict zones to fight the “invading crusader armies” or even perform lone-wolf attacks in their country of residence (“Muslims and Islam: Key findings in the U.S. and around the world | Pew Research Center,” n.d.). Conversely, the United States (U.S) is a country built on firm ideas that espouse equality for all. The government ensures that there are equality and fairness across the board. American Muslims have thus been able to integrate fairly well into the society making it rather difficult to radicalize them into terrorist acts.
The radicalization of adherents of Islam has been on the rise globally. A particular concern is its growth in Europe to a critical level, in comparison to the United States, a country that most political pundits see as number one on the insurgent’s list. The existence of a land crossing and a lack of integration are just some of the reasons why radicalization is at an all-time high in Europe. Unless European countries come up with viable solutions, it is improbable that the extremism problem that they are facing will end anytime soon.