Tuesday, 23 April 2013 18:29

We the citizens

I believe it was Socrates who said, "I am not an Athenian nor a Greek, but a citizen of the world." This idea never seemed as true as it does today, in a globalised world and even more so living in a Europe where the different nations, citizens and states seem to be more intertwined than anywhere else in the world.

So what does it mean to be a citizen in today's Europe? What kind of actions, attitudes, attributes can you find behind such dense concepts? These are the questions which 21 young Europeans from across the continent tried to answer at the week-long seminar "Promoting Citizenship", organised by the Berlin based NGO Citizens of Europe. Germans, Romanians, Lithuanians, Georgians, Armenians and Belarusians – you couldn't find a more diverse group if you tried – attempted to come up with a definition of citizenship that fits one and all. Needless to say this proved to be an almost impossible task.

Since the killing of Osama bin Laden, various clever (and not so clever) analysts have pointed to the increased threat of retaliation by al Qaeda fighters against Europe and the United States. Despite appearing like a sound conclusion, however, the threat of terrorism is – and likely remains – marginal. 

It is true that only last week three terrorism suspects, allegedly with a mission from a "senior al Qaeda leader", were arrested in Düsseldorf, the capital of North Rhine Westphalia in Germany. Abdeladin K., the 29-year old Moroccan head of the group travelled to an al Qaeda training camp in Pakistan in early 2010 where, according to German investigators, he received training and instructions for launching an attack in Germany. Not only does this show that al Qaeda is still maintaining training camps in the Afghan-Pakistan border region, but this incident highlights their continued operational effectiveness. So All things Counterterrorism’s Leah Farell tweeted:

It seems AQ’s pak based EO [external operations] infrastructure is pretty robust & they are sticking v much to template.

In fact, bin Laden's death may have acted as a trigger event for the Düsseldorf cell to speed up their plans. The raid might therefore have been just in time.

Published in Beyond Europe
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