The EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, has appealed to EU Member States to seek an establishment a broad alliance to tackle terror, including with Muslim nations. At a recent ministerial summit in Brussels, Ms Mogherini stressed that there was an urgent need for more and closer co-operation both internally within the EU and with Muslim countries.
The ministerial summit came in the wake of a series of attacks in Paris, including that on the office of a popular satirical weekly Charlie Habdo, which killed 17 people and anti-terrorism raids in Belgium, France and Germany that led to more than 20 people being arrested. The attacks in downtown Paris triggered international outrage and a huge anti-terrorism rally in Paris attended by many world leaders. After a series of raids of security forces in Belgium on a group of suspected jihadists, two of whom were killed and five others arrested for “participating in the activities of a terrorist group”, several people were also arrested in the Greek capital, Athens, over the weekend.
Two of the Paris gunmen cited cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad repeatedly published by Charlie Habdo as images that continue to anger the Muslim world. Several major cities in Muslim countries, including in Pakistan, Niger and Chechnya, have recently seen mass rallies to protest against the cartoons. Tens of thousands also marched through Grozny in Chechnya on Monday (19 January) protested against the Prophet on the French weekly’s cover, carrying signs calling for “Hands off the Prophet Muhammad”. Speaking to the journalists before the Brussels meeting of 28 EU foreign ministers, which was also attended by Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi, Ms Mogherini stressed that “The threat is not only the one we faced in Paris, but is also spreading in many other parts of the world, starting from Muslim countries.” She then added that the EU needs “to strengthen our way of co-operating together first of all with Arab countries and then internally. We need to share information more, we need to co-operate more.”