With some sort of an attack or incident seemingly every day or two, terror has indeed become Europe’s “new normal”.
At Church of the Gambetta in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, Normandy, a priest who has been saying a mass, two nuns and two parishioners have been taken hostage by two knife-wielding men. Two hours later, both attackers have been killed by marksmen, the priest (named by the French media as 92-year old Fr Jacques Hamel) murdered (some reports say throat slit, others beheaded) and one other person wounded, in a critical condition. The confusing aspect: the hostage-takers allegedly shouted “Daesh”, which is a pejorative name for ISIS.
It has been a busy less-than-a-fortnight:
14 July – the Nice truck attack.
18 July – five passengers stabbed by an ISIS-inspired 17-year old Afghan refugee on a train outside Wurzburg, Germany.
19 July – mother and three daughters stabbed repeatedly byÂ Moroccan-born Mohamed Boufarkouch in Garde-Colombe in south-east France, allegedly for being “scantily dressed”.
24 July – fifteen people injured in a suicide bombing attack in Ansbach, Germany. The bomber pledged allegiance to ISIS.
25 July – pregnant 45-year old Polish woman killed in a machete attack by a 21-year old Syrian refugee in Reutlingen, Germany, in what appeared to be a crime of passion.
Not all of these attacks are terrorism-related, but they all contribute to an all-pervasive sense of menace and violence. As I argued recently, the odds of dying in a terrorist attack are astronomical, but terrorism is all about creating perceptions, and in politics, perceptions are reality; ergo, Europe has got a problem.