‘IS narrative seems more attractive to some EU citizens’

French policemen stand next to a funeral hearse in front of the entrance of the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo after a shooting January 7, 2015.(Reuters / Philippe Wojazer)
Many Europeans buy into ISIS promises of a better life while their future in the EU looks miserable given unemployment and housing problems, Dr. Michael Privot, Director of the European Network Against Racism, told RT.

A man took several people hostage in a post office in northwest Paris on Friday. The man was armed with a Kalashnikov rifle and grenades. After negotiations, he handed himself over to police. This comes just days after the Charlie Hebdo and kosher supermarket attacks in the French capital.

RT: Does the current sense of insecurity in Europe contribute to a general anti-Muslim sentiment?

Dr. Michael Privot: Yes, definitely it does. We’ve seen the clearest aspects of it in France where we are counting now more than 50 attacks. .. That is something that we absolutely noticed. And in Belgium last night we had anti-terror raids. We see definitely a rise of Islamophobic sentiment and action in Europe.

RT: Why are these arrests happening in Europe now, the suspects must have been known for years to the police considering the number of them?

MP: I think that Belgium is in the center of Europe and has a very diverse community. It has always served as some sort of a hub for different Muslim jihadist groups. Probably we can suspect that the events in Paris have pushed the Belgium police forces to act more quickly, on top of the fact that there were some videos recently released by the Danish for action in Europe.

So I think probably we can consider that police acted rightly. There needs to be some stuff done. But the violence, the response, and death in shooting in Verviers are indeed problematic. But yes, most of the suspects are probably on the screen, on the radar of the police forces in Belgium.

Policemen and forencic police work under the rain into a marked out perimeter in Colline street in Verviers, eastern Belgium, on January 15, 2015.(AFP Photo / John Thys)

RT:The head of the European police agency Europol has admitted there are a large number of Muslim extremists in Europe and foiling terror attacks is 'extremely difficult'. How was this allowed to happen?

MP: It is still a very small number of individuals. Yes, it is a couple of thousands, we don’t know. But there are definitely a number of people that are ready to take some actions and they probably have some prepared groups around them.

What has been striking for us over the last years is the lack of imagination by the politicians, the decision makers on how it could go above that. And so far the only answer that we’ve seen has been a security based type of answer: “Yes, we need more security, we need to take care of and protect the citizens whatever their faith, whatever the background.” But what we see as well is that in the profile of most radicals that are going to join ISIS in Iraq and Syria – they are all people that in one way or the other are feeling they have no future that they don’t fit into the community, some are excluded.

And you even see non-Muslims that are getting radicalized and then converting to Islam at the later stage because they think that it is the way that they would make a difference. Therefore, the only answer [is] security [that] we have completely put on the side the social answer: how do we fight discrimination, how to ensure that people can find job, can hope for better life. And the answer is nowhere, to be honest.

When we see today the narrative of ISIS: “Come and join us, you are going to get a car, you are going to get house, you can marry, you can have a salary, and we will take care of your kids!” That is powerful when you see that the future that is promised within Europe for those same guys is just like misery for everything: no job, no house, no anything. And we see that in terms of a narrative so far Europe has been unable to compete with what ISIS has been putting on the table. Today what we are afraid of is that the lessons are still not learned.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.