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There must be a better way

Reader comment on item: Two Germans vs. Islamism
in response to reader comment: The Return of Inquisition (German Version)

Submitted by Aidan Maconachy (Canada), Jan 7, 2006 at 03:31

There are some obvious reasons why these measures might create more problems than they solve.

Subjecting people to loyalty tests, tagging them like animals are ... when you really think about it ... rather juvenile tactics. There are a lot of reasons why such tactics could turn out be counterproductive. People can lie on the tests with ease. Tagging does nothing except provide a location reference and will undoubtedly add to the feeling of the tag-wearer that he/she is being unjustly persecuted and degraded.

In both the case of testing and tagging, there is conscious segregating and targeting involved. These measures may create the impression in the minds of some Germans that Herr Rech and others mean business, but I fear such measures will generate more in the way of negative than positive outcomes in the minds of Muslims.

As we know from research of this problem, Islamic communities only have a percentage of members who could be described as radicals. Let us assume for sake of argument that this figure is 20%. When you subject such people to testing and tagging along these lines, it will generate sympathy for them on the part of more moderate Muslims. It will give them reasons to feel like martyrs. It may even result in an increase in the number of Muslim youths who are attracted to radical organizations.

A better approach I think, is to work more closely with mainstream Muslims - to generate a condition of trust and mutual-respect. A better approach is to ensure that young lads such as those in the sink estates outside Paris, aren't sitting around all day unemployed and disgruntled. In other words pro-active and positive measures to engender a sense of greater worth and inclusion. I know this can work, because many of these youths crave a sense of belonging that transcends ethnic and religious identity; a sense of belonging comes from being part of a workforce and by extension, part of a community ... part of a nation.

This approach will help to isolate those radicals who have no interest in assimilating. They will be easier to identify and monitor (should the need arise). Their gripes and hate speech will find less fertile ground in the mosques and religious centers, if the Muslims to whom they are speaking feel a sense of civic responsibility to the society in which they live.

During the N.Ireland troubles it was shown time and again that stigmatizing individuals or groups only backfired and played into the hands of the paramilitary factions. On the other hand, gaining the trust and confidence of sections of the population proved more advantageous when it came to intelligence gathering and issues relating to law and order.

To my way of thinking these testing and tagging strategies are short sighted, and likely to create a deeper sense of grievance and alienation on the part of people in the larger Muslim community. This is not the way forward, especially given the fact that there are many in these immigrant communities who are actively seeking to distance themselves from the radicals in their midst.
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