Paris: Is Islamist extremism a bigger problem now than it was before 9/11?

By: /
21 January, 2013

Yes. The pro-Palestinian terrorism that rocked Western Europe in the 1980s was secular (although I saw an emergent version of radical Islamism in the Occupied Territories in 1987). 9/11 came as a shock precisely because political/religious extremism was not yet on any large maps. The al-Qaida attacks changed that. So did the subsequent “war on terror” which served as an excellent recruiting tool. The Manichean world view of the Bush administration and its sycophants; the creation of the prison at Guantanamo Bay; the normalization of torture, which was carried out at sites around the world; the widespread verbal, and sometimes physical, attacks on Muslims and the Koran; and, of course, the war in Afghanistan all helped justify extremism in the minds of angry, anti-Western young people looking to root their lives in something meaningful. A number of irresponsible imams around the world lent the movement authority.

If 9/11 was a turning point, the Mali situation may be another one. We knew that al-Qaida was regrouping, but radical Islamism now seems to have entered a new phase; ie, they may soon control a country, with unforeseen consequences.

Before you click away, we’d like to ask you for a favour … 

Journalism in Canada has suffered a devastating decline over the last two decades. Dozens of newspapers and outlets have shuttered. Remaining newsrooms are smaller. Nowhere is this erosion more acute than in the coverage of foreign policy and international news. It’s expensive, and Canadians, oceans away from most international upheavals, pay the outside world comparatively little attention.

At Open Canada, we believe this must change. If anything, the pandemic has taught us we can’t afford to ignore the changing world. What’s more, we believe, most Canadians don’t want to. Many of us, after all, come from somewhere else and have connections that reach around the world.

Our mission is to build a conversation that involves everyone — not just politicians, academics and policy makers. We need your help to do so. Your support helps us find stories and pay writers to tell them. It helps us grow that conversation. It helps us encourage more Canadians to play an active role in shaping our country’s place in the world.

Become a Supporter