The EU societies and the potential impact of the war in the Middle East

Employment and Social Affairs

Estimated time of reading: ~ 2 minutes  

In the past few weeks, EU leaders have shared the same worry: that the conflict between Israel and Hamas could have a huge impact on European societies. This comes as no surprise, as many EU countries have large minorities of Muslim citizens as well as Jewish communities, in a context in which the continent has already witnessed a vast scale of terrorist attacks in the past decade. The EU interior ministers met last week to discuss the potential consequences of the ongoing war and the security issues related to it. In France and Belgium, two of the countries that suffered the most from the wave of Islamic terrorism, there have already been assaults and killings by suspected Islamist extremists. There’s obviously a widespread alert on the potential rise of antisemitic attacks as well as the radicalization of young people, especially online. 

The war in the Middle East could be used as a tool for spreading fundamentalist thoughts in many urban areas across the continent, not only in Muslim communities. There’s also the matter of border security, as countries such as Italy have already decided to halt the functioning of the Schengen scheme on the frontier with Slovenia, introducing border checks in order to better monitor the movement of people coming from the East. The same solution has been applied by Denmark and Sweden, citing a supposed Islamist terrorist threat. The two Nordic nations faced in the last months an exponential rise in tensions linked to the Quran burnings, a dynamic that created a political and social debate and led to provocative actions by far-right extremists towards the local Muslim communities. 

At the same time, Belgium, France, and Germany enhanced the deployment of police officers, both on the borders and in urban areas. Such a situation can only worsen if the conflict between Israel and Hamas spreads on a regional level. The EU and the member states’ governments know very well the size of the threat arising from this scenario and will work in the diplomatic field to prevent it from happening.

Written by: Francesco Marino

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