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Terror in Europe

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 — 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.

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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 — from the National Front here in France to Donald Trump, and others — 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"seditor-in-chief.

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Livestream Shopping Is Huge In China — Will It Fly Elsewhere?

Streaming video channels of people shopping has been booming in China, and is beginning to win over customers abroad as a cheap and cheerful way of selling products to millions of consumers glued to the screen.

A A female volunteer promotes spring tea products via on-line live streaming on a pretty mountain surrounded by tea plants.

In Beijing, selling spring tea products via on-line live streaming.

Xinhua / ZUMA
Gwendolyn Ledger

SANTIAGOTikTok, owned by Chinese tech firm ByteDance, has spent more than $500 million to break into online retailing. The app, best known for its short, comical videos, launched TikTok Shop in August, aiming to sell Chinese products in the U.S. and compete with other Chinese firms like Shein and Temu.

Tik Tok Shop will have three sections, including a live or livestream shopping channel, allowing users to buy while watching influencers promote a product.

This choice was strategic: in the past year, live shopping has become a significant trend in online retailing both in the U.S. and Latin America. While still an evolving technology, in principle, it promises good returns and lower costs.

Chilean Carlos O'Rian Herrera, co-founder of Fira Onlive, an online sales consultancy, told América Economía that live shopping has a much higher catchment rate than standard website retailing. If traditional e-commerce has a rate of one or two purchases per 100 visits to your site, live shopping can hike the ratio to 19%.

Live shopping has thrived in China and the recent purchases of shopping platforms in some Latin American countries suggests firms are taking an interest. In the United States, live shopping generated some $20 billion in sales revenues in 2022, according to consultants McKinsey. This constituted 2% of all online sales, but the firm believes the ratio may become 20% by 2026.

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