Brussels Attacks, What Europe Can No Longer Deny

A Brussels metro logo stained with blood near the Maalbeek station after Tuesday's attack.
A Brussels metro logo stained with blood near the Maalbeek station after Tuesday's attack.
Jérôme Fenoglio*


PARIS â€" This time, it's Brussels, the heart of Europe, that was hit by Islamist terrorists. They targeted this free city, where humor, impertinence, a Belgian way of not taking yourself too seriously, is the opposite of what these barbarians have in mind: cheap certainties, hatred towards others, the violence of the "pure." The deadly jumble of ideas driving these European-born jihadists is the polar opposite of what cosmopolitan Brussels, the capital city of a European project that was their symbolic target, stands for.

Every time it occurs, this not-so-blind violence takes us by surprise. It shouldn't. After Madrid, after London, after Paris, twice, and now Brussels, we know. We cannot ignore that terrorism is here to stay. To say so is not to play the doomsayer nor the sorcerer's apprentice. It's the reality we need to face: The battle against jihadism will be a long one.

This assessment isn't intended as a smear campaign against the police or the intelligence services' work. Each terrorist cell dismantled, each arrest, like that of Salah Abdeslam in Brussels last week, represents an only natural sense of relief. The strength of democratic societies lies in their ability to go on as "before." By doing so, they thwart the jihadists' ambitions to provoke reprisal attacks against European Muslims and to create as many mini-civil wars as possible in Europe.

CCTV footage of the three suspected bombers at the Brussels airport

We shouldn't, however, harbor illusions. It's going to take time, years, before we defeat jihadist terrorism. In healthy democracies, political leaders and governments should tell it like it is. They don't, and are therefore hiding part of the truth.

Easy answers are lies

There's no magical recipe and no easy solution, two things we're used to having in our impatient, consumer-driven societies.

Those among protest parties or candidates â€" from the National Front here in France to Donald Trump, and others â€" who pretend otherwise are irresponsible liars. They're playing with the victims' pain. To say that we only need to flatten ISIS-controlled cities in Syria and Iraq with bombs is absurd, as this would instead create more wannabe jihadists. To say, as Marine Le Pen's National Front does, that we only need to close borders inside the EU to put an end to European jihadism, is a simplistic hoax. Weapons and explosives have been proliferating in our countries for a long time, while user manuals circulate on the Internet. We don't need any seller of illusions in this ongoing fight.

We should instead acknowledge the situation's complexity, on two levels. ISIS has in all likelihood forged sophisticated logistical networks inside Europe, with the aim of carrying out simultaneous attacks in different European cities. No mollycoddling here: The fight requires increased means for the police and intelligence services. Efficiency calls for reinforced coordination at a European level. Alas, the Union, already unable to unite in the face of the migrant tragedy, is in a regressive phase, which makes it even more vulnerable.

But European jihadism, though it stems from endogenous causes, is also fuelled by Middle Eastern chaos. To extinguish terrorism at home, we need to solve the Syrian and Iraqi tragedies. Again, this will probably take years. Again, although Westerners share part of the blame for these ongoing troubles, Europe is nowhere to be seen in fixing them, barely an actor alongside the U.S. and Russia. Its incompetence is evident in its lack of strategic vision, in the Middle East and elsewhere. This only adds to its vulnerability.

For our continent, the battle against terrorism means first facing the truth.

*Jérôme Fenoglio is Le Monde"s editor-in-chief.

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Preparing a COVID-19 vaccine booster in Huzhou, China.

Hannah Steinkopf-Frank, Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Ciao!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where Brazil's senate backs "crimes against humanity" charges against Jair Bolsonaro, the UN has a grim new climate report and Dune gets a sequel. Meanwhile, German daily Die Welt explores "Xi Jinping Thought," which is now being made part of Chinese schools' curriculum.



• Senators back Bolsonaro criminal charges: A Brazilian Senate panel has backed a report that supports charging President Jair Bolsonaro with crimes against humanity, for his alleged responsibility in the country's 600,000-plus COVID-19 deaths.

• Gas crisis in Moldova following Russian retaliation: Moldova, one of Europe's poorest countries, has for the first time challenged Russia's Gazprom following a price increase and failed contract negotiations, purchasing instead from Poland. In response, Russia has threatened to halt sales to the Eastern European country, which has previously acquired all of its gas from Gazprom.

• New UN climate report finds planned emission cuts fall short: The Emissions Gap Report 2021 concludes that country pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions aren't large enough to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5 °C degrees this century. The UN Environment Program predicts a 2.7 °C increase, with significant environmental impacts, but there is still hope that longer term net-zero goals will curtail some temperature rise.

• COVID update: As part of its long-awaited reopening, Australia will officially allow its citizens to travel abroad without a government waiver for the first time in more than 18 months. Bulgaria, meanwhile, hits record daily high COVID-19 cases as the Eastern European's hotel and restaurant association is planning protests over the implementation of the vaccination "green pass." In the U.S., a panel of government medical advisors backed the use of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for five to 11-year-olds.

• U.S. appeals decision to block Julian Assange extradition: The United States said it was "extremely disappointed" in a UK judge's ruling that Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, would be a suicide risk of he traveled across the Atlantic. In the U.S., he faces 18 charges related to the 2010 release of 500,000 secret files related to U.S. military activity.

• Deposed Sudan prime minister released: Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has been released from custody, though remains under heavy guard after Sudan's military coup. Protests against the coup have continued in the capital Khartoum, as Hamdok has called for the release of other detained governmental officials.

Dune Part 2 confirmed: The world will get to see Timothée Chalamet ride a sandworm: The second installment of the sci-fi epic and global box office hit has officially been greenlit, set to hit the screens in 2023.


Front page of the National Post's October 27 front page

Canadian daily National Post reports on the nomination of Steven Guilbeault, a former Greenpeace activist, as the country's new Environment minister. He had been arrested in 2001 for scaling Toronto's CN Tower to unfurl a banner for Greenpeace, which he left in 2008.


Chinese students now required to learn to think like Xi Jinping

"Xi Jinping Thought" ideas on socialism have been spreading across the country since 2017. But now, Beijing is going one step further by making them part of the curriculum, from the elementary level all the way up to university, reports Maximilian Kalkhof in German daily Die Welt.

🇨🇳 It's important to strengthen the "determination to listen to and follow the party." Also, teaching materials should "cultivate patriotic feelings." So say the new guidelines issued by the Chinese Ministry of Education. The goal is to help Chinese students develop more "Marxist beliefs," and for that, the government wants its national curriculum to include "Xi Jinping Thought," the ideas, namely, of China's current leader. Behind this word jam is a plan to consolidate the power of the nation, the party and Xi himself.

📚 Starting in September, the country's 300 million students have had to study the doctrine, from elementary school into university. And in some cities, even that doesn't seem to be enough. Shanghai announced that its students from third to fifth grade would only take final exams in mathematics and Chinese, de facto deleting English as an examination subject. Beijing, in the meantime, announced that it would ban the use of unauthorized foreign textbooks in elementary and middle schools.

⚠️ But how does a country that enchants its youth with socialist ideology and personality cults rise to become a world power? Isn't giving up English as a global language the quickest way into isolation? The educational reform comes at a time when Beijing is brutally disciplining many areas of public life, from tech giants to the entertainment industry. It has made it difficult for Chinese technology companies to go public abroad, and some media have reported that a blanket ban on IPOs in the United States is on the cards in the next few years.

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"I'm a footballer and I'm gay."

— Australian soccer player Josh Cavallo said in a video accompanying a tweet in which he revealed his homosexuality, becoming the first top-flight male professional player in the world to do so. The 21-year-old said he was tired of living "this double life" and hoped his decision to come out would help other "players living in silence."


Why this Sudan coup d'état is different

Three days since the military coup was set in motion in Sudan, the situation on the ground continues to be fluid. Reuters reports this morning that workers at the state petroleum company Sudapet are joining a nationwide civil disobedience movement called by trade unions in response to the generals' overthrow of the government. Doctors have also announced a strike.

Generals in suits At the same time, the military appears firmly in control, with deposed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok allowed to return home today after being held by the coup leaders. How did we get here? That's the question that David E. Kiwuwa, a professor of international relations at the University of Nottingham, takes on in The Conversation:

"Since the revolution that deposed Omar el-Bashir in 2019, the military have fancied themselves as generals in suits. They have continued to wield enough power to almost run a parallel government in tension with the prime minister. This was evident when the military continued to have the say on security and foreign affairs.

Economy as alibi For their part, civilian officials concentrated on rejuvenating the economy and mobilizing international support for the transitional council. This didn't stop the military from accusing the civilian leadership of failing to resuscitate the country's ailing economy.

True, the economy has continued to struggle from high inflation, low industrial output and dwindling foreign direct investment. As in all economies, conditions have been exacerbated by the effects of COVID-19. Sudan's weakened economy is, however, not sufficient reason for the military intervention. Clearly this is merely an excuse."

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471 million euros

Rome's Casino di Villa Boncompagni Ludovisi, better known as Villa Aurora, will be put up for auction in January for 471 million euros ($547 million). The over-the-top price tag is thanks to the villa having the only known ceiling painting by Renaissance master Caravaggio.

✍️ Newsletter by Hannah Steinkopf-Frank, Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

Who wants to start the bidding on the Caravaggio villa? Otherwise, let us know what the news looks like from your corner of the world!!

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