Brussels Burns: Tragedy, Demagogues And Political Expediency


Brussels Airport (Photo: NDTV)

The ISIS terrorists attack again with impunity, killing innocent people minding their own business. These barbaric killers who commit these horrendous atrocities in the name of religion have no respect for human life. This time the target was Brussels, the heart of the European Union, frequented by people of many national origins. Although ISIS killers have murdered thousands of Yazidis, Arab Christians and Muslims who reject their murderous ways, the suicide bombings in Brussels were an attack on the world. What happened on Tuesday March 22nd was a coordinated multiple attack taking the lives of 31 people and injuring scores more.

As expected, the condemnation, shock and horror expressed swiftly came from around the globe from ordinary people and leaders from all walks of life and religious affiliation. But, also as expected, there were outlandish statements by demagogic politicians to score short term political gains. The US presidential hopeful, Donald Trump, gleefully said I told you so and renewed his earlier call to ban Muslims from entering the US. I am not sure how he knew that Brussels would be attacked and why he did not share that information with law enforcement!


Terrorist Organization Features Trump in Recruiting Video (photo:

Not to be outdone, another presidential aspirant, Ted Cruz, called for police to patrol Muslim neighborhoods in the US. This is not only outrageous, but it shows Mr. Cruz's total lack of understanding of American Muslims. Unlike France in particular and Belgium where the majority of Muslims live in separate areas outside the cities, American Muslims are well integrated and live mixed in with everyone else. There may be some cities like Dearborn, Michigan where the concentration of Muslims is higher.


Ted Cruz: Empower Law Enforcement to Patrol Muslim Neighborhoods.

We have seen and will continue to see terroristic acts by the sympathizers of ISIS like the San Bernardino attack which claimed the lives of 14 people and injured 22 others. The so called threat from Islamic extremists is mostly by individuals and is not community based. However, the despicable rhetoric by the demagogues like Trump and Cruz could conceivably create more ISIS type sympathizers. This is exactly what terrorist groups like ISIS want. They use these general inflammatory statements coming from our leaders as recruiting tools, telling the vulnerable that the West is against you, and that you must strike back if you want to be somebody.

Despite the attacks of 9/11, Boston and San Bernardino, US Muslims are loyal, educated and productive members of society. The US has always been a country which has offered people hope and this powerful idea is behind the success of many immigrant groups, including Muslims. By the way, Islam is a religion spanning the world. Its adherents come in all colors, from different ethnic backgrounds, speak different languages, and so on. It is impossible to identify an individual or a group by one attribute. Islam like Christianity, Judaism, and other world religions, only provides one attribute which is insufficient for the definition of a human being.

Immigration of North African Muslims to France and Belgium was a result of colonialism. Germany on the other hand initially brought in Turks as guest workers to rebuild the country in the aftermath of World War 2. Muslims like other groups came to the US because they believed in the ideals of this country and not because of some past baggage or specific need. That is why theirs is a success story unlike what is going on in France and Belgium. While no act of terrorism is justifiable, people who live in the margins of society plagued by crime, with no hope of getting out, are the ideal target by ISIS.

The majority of these first generation immigrants who settled in France, Belgium and Germany were mostly illiterate peasants. They were therefore content to do the back breaking jobs of cleaning up the streets, picking up garbage, working as laborers in construction, and so on. But the situation is very different for the second and third generations. These young people, in the age of social media, are stuck in a life of hopelessness in the banlieues (suburbs) such as Sevran north of Paris and ghettos like Molenbeek in Brussels. Of course not all will succumb to the false advertisement of ISIS, but only a handful is sufficient to cause such carnage as just happened in Brussels


Banlieue of Sevran (Photo:

Today ISIS is under pressure and on the defensive. It is losing territory in both Iraq and Syria. Some ISIS leaders have been killed or captured. But the threat is still there to carry out more attacks anywhere they can, including in Europe and the US. This is a long term problem requiring long term solutions. Knee jerk reactions, playing on frightened peoples' emotions and demagoguery will not solve the problem, it will only alienate those people who should be part of the solution.