Need To Know
The first month of 2015 has been worrying for counterterror officials around the world, particularly in Europe. The Jan. 7 attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo represented the worst act of terror on French soil in 50 years. It was followed by more extremist-linked violence on Jan. 8 and Jan. 9. Leaders across Europe and anxious publics have been on high alert since then — there’ve been notable terror scares in Belgium and the Netherlands — and France recently launched a campaign that attempts to prevent radical “jihadism” among French citizens at home.
But there’s another threat that comes along with all this fear: backlash against Muslim communities in the wake of attacks carried out by suspects espousing extremist Islamic ideology. Attacks against Muslims and anti-Muslim rhetoric among some far-right Europeans have been rising this month, too.
Across the European Union there are around 20 million Muslims, citizens and immigrants alike, doing pretty much the same as their non-Muslim neighbors. They are driving cabs in Amsterdam, reading the news on French TV, cooking pasta in Roman restaurants. They are surgeons operating in Brussels' hospitals, businessmen making millions in London, shopkeepers selling beer to late-night revelers in Lisbon. But rising terror fears have put many Muslims in the position of defending both their faith and their status as members of European communities.
"Our challenge is to clarify things, to show people that Islam is not what they fear it is," Sheik David Munir, the imam of Lisbon's Central Mosque, told GlobalPost’s Paul Ames.
Europe's Muslims are a diverse bunch whose roots stretch around the world. “Around the continent, many are successful and well-integrated,” Ames writes. “Europe's Muslim middle class is a significant demographic. But when economies run out of steam, as they have in Europe in recent years, migrants often find themselves the first to suffer.”
And any expert will tell you marginalization is no way to counter radicalization.
Want To Know
Bribery and sex scandals aren’t a new thing in China, but these alleged crimes are of the most disturbing kind: Accusations of schoolchildren being sexually exploited by Chinese officials for business favors are shockingly common, and the public is outraged.
“The alleged rapes follow a similar pattern,” Robert Foyle Hunwick reports from Beijing. “Victims are typically lured to a suitable venue — such as a hotel or a karaoke parlor — by older females acting in cahoots with businessmen. In some incidents, when parents have complained, authorities have attempted to cover up the crimes. In one case, police arrested the parents to prevent them from seeking justice.”
Sex crimes by the powerful unfortunately happen all over the world. GlobalPost Senior Correspondent Erin Conway-Smith reported just yesterday on charges against dozens of South African police officers for the murders, armed robberies and rapes of citizens they are sworn to protect.
“Particularly worrying is the number of reported cases of police officers detaining women in order to rape them,” she wrote from Johannesburg.
Strange But True
We’ll close with the topic that will consume most of your attention this weekend: football. Could there be any more quintessentially American event than Super Bowl Sunday? Gathered around pickup truck beds and living room widescreens, citizens of the good ole’ US of A will celebrate the glorious union of pro sports and capitalism with the kind of fervor usually reserved for the 4th of July, or Beyonce concerts. And with so many nachos.
Well, surprise, America: The NFL might be moving to London. The United States National Football League is seriously considering a permanent UK team, after the unexpected success of its exhibition games in London’s Wembley Stadium. There have been NFL exhibition games in London as far back as the 1980s, actually, when slickly produced TV broadcasts of US “gridiron” contests earned a devoted British fan base raised on the Cowboys-49ers rivalry and Mike Ditka’s moustache. You don’t want to miss this story from GlobalPost Senior Correspondent Corinne Purtill.