Islamic militants are stepping up a propaganda war against Spain. In recent months, Islamic State and other jihadist groups have produced a flurry of videos and documents calling on Muslims to reconquer al-Andalus.
Al-Andalus is the Arabic name given to those parts of Spain, Portugal and France occupied by Muslim conquerors (also known as the Moors) from 711 to 1492. Many Muslims believe that territories Muslims lost during the Christian Reconquest of Spain still belong to the realm of Islam. They claim that Islamic law gives them the right to re-establish Muslim rule there.
A recent Islamic State document includes a list of grievances against Spain for wrongs done to Muslims since the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa on July 16, 1212, when the Christian forces of King Alfonso VIII of Castile routed the Almohad Muslim rulers of the southern half of the Iberian Peninsula. More than 100,000 Muslims were killed in the battle, which was a key victory in the Catholic Monarchs’ “Reconquista” of Spain.
The document said that since the establishment of the Spanish Inquisition in 1478, Spain “has done everything to destroy the Koran.” It said that Spain tortured Muslims, including burning them alive. Therefore, according to the Islamic State, “Spain is a criminal state that usurps our land.” The document calls on jihadists to “reconnoiter airline and train routes for attacks.” It also calls on followers to “poison food and water” with insecticides.
The document concludes: “The actions of your ancestors are the reason for our actions today.”
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Theresa May used her first international trip as Prime Minister to meet with Angela Merkel, and declared that “we two daughters of vicars [will find] a mutual understanding” over Brexit. “Certainly”, Merkel responded. That charm offensive seems to have paid off as Britain and its European partners start to wrangle over the detail in preparation for Brexit, as the German chancellor has broken from her long-standing refusal to compromise on the issue of free movement by suggesting it is something the EU needs to “discuss further”. This is an important concession as Mrs May has pledged to make it her “red line” in talks in order to secure full control of Britain’s borders.
British ministers will be quietly pleased by Merkel’s remarks, as EU leaders including Jean-Claude Juncker had previously refused to budge over the rules around free movement. Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator, threatened on Twitter to read Article 3 of the Treaty of Rome at Boris Johnson in order to make this clear, while Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem insisted to Newsnight that Brexit could only be a “lose-lose situation”. The Foreign Secretary had suggested yesterday in an interview with the Czech daily Hospodářské noviny that it was “bollocks” to claim that free movement was a fundamental EU freedom, and now Whitehall sources have told the Telegraph that Merkel’s remarks are the “first crack in the armour”. Brexit-backing MPs had in turn hailed Merkel’s stance as “the beginning of a new realism in the EU”.
The German Chancellor said more than just that free movement would have to be discussed, and the rest of her remarks are significant. “Were we to make an exception for the free movement of people with Britain,” she warned in Berlin, “this would mean we would endanger principles of the whole internal market in the European Union, because everyone else will then want these exceptions”. In effect, she has admitted that no EU leader wants free movement anymore. Might that be why Juncker and his allies have been so reluctant to give ground on it?
One way the rise of Islamist authoritarianism in a country can be seen is by the rise in the number of mosques, religious schools and prisons — coupled with a sharp decline in the quality of education. Turkey is no exception.
Most recently, the Turkish government said that it would build 174 new prisons, increasing capacity by 100,000 convicts. This is Turkey’s reply to complaints that six convicts must share a cell built for three. Convicts say they must sleep in turns in their bunk beds.
Before that, Turkey’s government released nearly 40,000 convicted criminals, in order to make space for tens of thousands of suspects, including journalists, businessmen and academics, detained after the failed coup of July 15.
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Germany’s spy agency has warned that the “Islamic State” (IS) is infiltrating refugee groups to get into Europe. Officials and analysts are now looking into methods by which potential terrorists can be spotted early.
On November 13 last year, three teams of militants from the so-called “Islamic State” (IS), armed with Kalashnikovs, stormed the Stade de France stadium, the Bataclan concert hall and several pubs in Paris. The rampage left 130 people dead, 85 of them in Bataclan, where the band, the Eagles of Death Metal, was playing.
Meanwhile, investigations have revealed that all nine men involved in the attacks had traveled to Europe together with the stream of refugees that entered the continent in 2015. According to German weekly “Welt am Sonntag,” the country’s spy agency, the “Bundesnachrichtendienst,” (BND) has warned that IS is specifically training terrorists to merge with asylum seekers looking for safer havens in Europe. The report’s authors say that the BND suggests that terrorists train potential attackers on how to answer questions during border interrogations so they can prove their credibility as refugees.
The spy agency has refused to comment on this matter. Responding to an email query by DW, an agency press spokesman said: “Basically, the BND communicates its information only to the German government or to responsible bodies of the German parliament in confidential sessions.”
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