At around 19:15 local time on October 16, 2023, two Swedes were shot and killed in Brussels. The ongoing European Cup qualifying match between Belgium and Sweden was also forced to be cancelled. The next day, Antwerp Railway Station, one of the hubs of Western Europe, was temporarily suspended because of the discovery of suspicious objects.
Later, the police discovered that the mastermind of the terrorist attack was Abdesalem Lassoued, who was from Tunisia. After his application for political asylum failed, he went to Belgium “undercover” and worked undercover while making contact with terrorist organizations.
Just weeks before the shooting, two Palestinian refugees were sentenced to 30 years in prison for the kidnapping and murder of a 9-year-old child. Faced with thefts, robberies, and terrorist attacks, Europeans have entered a gray era in which a sense of security is scarce.
Of course, the Europeans themselves do not have an attitude of “pretending to be faced with a powerful enemy”. It can be said that it may take some time to change from a relaxed and leisurely lifestyle to safety first.
Differences between urban and rural security in Europe
In November 2023, since the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Europe has been threatened by terrorist attacks threatened by militants in the Middle East. Brussels International Airport announced that it has strengthened security checks, and luggage entering the customs will be inspected one by one. This has also extended the entry time for international passengers to more than one month. Hour. Compared with many regions, entering Europe, especially the Schengen countries, is a very quick thing. The one-hour security check is already the greatest “effort” Brussels can do.
I entered Europe for the first time in 2021, when the COVID-19 epidemic was raging around the world. Even so, it only took me 20 minutes from getting off the plane to entering Belgium. After entering the Schengen area, you will find that except for entering large venues and flying, there are almost no security checks required. Subways and trains can be entered directly, and cameras are rarely installed in shopping malls and supermarkets. Using an ID card to buy a bus ticket or relying on a real-name system for migration is almost a fantasy to Europeans.
In Europe, being a police officer can be a very easy career. I often see them slowly clocking in and waiting to get off work. During my stay in Europe, the few times I encountered the police were all over trivial matters. Of course, if something big happens, it’s not easy to find the police.
One time, I was riding a bicycle while looking at the navigation on my mobile phone. At this time, a siren sounded behind me. When I turned around, I saw it was a police car. The police officer in the car was honking his horn and telling me to focus on riding my bike and not playing with my phone. Of course, the main tasks police do in European countries are also different. Belgian police like to check people using mobile phones on bicycles and wearing helmets while riding; French police like to go on strike; German police have a more arduous task. They like to squat at border train stations to check whether passengers have legal residence certificates. This is not required under the Schengen Agreement.
In the European tradition, social security does not rely on the police but on autonomy. European natives even expressed a certain aversion to police searches of foreigners. “The immigration police are annoying, no one likes them,” my roommate Ruben told me. For a long time, local autonomy has maintained social security in Europe. If you think your neighbor is being sneaky, you can report it. If you think a restaurant is evading taxes, you can report it. If you see something wrong, you can act bravely, and then the police and courts will follow the rules to solve the problem.
Since Europe is generally a small country with few people, except for a few metropolitan cities, such as Paris, Brussels, and Berlin, other cities are often in a state of “neighborhoods”. Once a public incident occurs, the whole city will know about it immediately, and the police will follow behind to find clues according to the clues. Therefore, Europe’s sense of security comes from local autonomy, which does not originally require much public security investment. However, because immigrants are flocking to big cities, this method is simply not feasible in big cities. Places with greater flow of people will feel less safe.
Petty theft is commonplace
Europe used to be quiet and peaceful: when danger occurred, citizens acted bravely, and wise men sought the truth. Today, what takes its place is public fatigue, confusion, restlessness, and absurdity.
I was working in a coffee shop in Antwerp, and one morning I discovered that the coffee machine had been stolen. The coffee shop is in a shopping mall in the city center. Like most places in Europe, there are no monitors in the mall. Therefore, we don’t have any hope of getting the coffee machine back. The police slowly arrived at the scene four hours after receiving the case. After understanding the basic situation, a police officer was about to clock out, when his colleagues discovered that a machine that was exactly the same model as our stolen coffee machine was being sold on Facebook’s second-hand market.
Europe’s sense of security comes from local autonomy, which originally did not require much investment in public security. However, because immigrants are flocking to big cities, this method is simply not feasible in big cities. Places with greater flow of people will feel less safe.
In this way, on the afternoon of the incident, the thief who stole the coffee machine was caught and the coffee machine was returned to the store. The reason why thieves dare to sell stolen goods blatantly is because in Europe, people are accustomed to losing things, and they have no intention of getting them back once they are lost. Therefore, Europeans have to buy insurance for their bicycles, so that they can get some compensation if they are lost, but the bicycles will never be recovered anyway.
In recent years, Europeans have become accustomed to thefts at home. When encountering petty theft, everyone can only admit that they are unlucky. On the Paris subway, I once saw a 7-year-old child stealing someone else’s wallet and being caught red-handed. The people in the car let the child leave after educating the child. “My things don’t matter, but my time is precious.” The passenger who lost his things said.
Rather than losing things, criminal offenses are the main factor that makes Europeans feel increasingly uneasy about themselves. Asmara is from Indonesia and lived in the same apartment as me. When she first came to Belgium, she was very satisfied with the living environment. She said that the North African immigrants here were very friendly and gave her a lot of meat as gifts. But a week later, she asked me which part of Antwerp was safer.
”Every night, people followed me on my way home from get out of class, and others talked to me and harassed me. I felt very scared,” she said.
The situation in Brussels is even worse than in Antwerp. In 2015, the Paris terrorist attacks shocked the world. The terrorists involved in the attacks were eventually discovered by the police in the Molenbeek district of Brussels. Before the terrorist attacks, the Molenbeek district and neighboring Schaerbeek were notorious for their high crime rates in Europe. Today, I can still see many refugees sleeping under the bridge in Molenbeek. In these areas, it is very dangerous for women to travel alone at night. A Belgian friend of mine used to be a policeman in Brussels. He eventually left his post in frustration after witnessing one case after another and his superiors being indifferent.
In Europe, the police are of limited use and they mainly rely on self-rescue when in danger. Mothers in Paris teach their children: If you go home alone after school, go wherever there are people. Because in Europe, there are some “righteous people” meddling in crowded places, and dead ends in big cities are often the places where vicious incidents occur. The 18th to 20th arrondissements of Paris are traditional dangerous areas, where immigrants gather, streets are dense, and public activity areas lack exposure.
As well as theft and criminal offences, drug smuggling is common in Europe where customs are lax. In Barcelona, smoking white powder is a common phenomenon; in Antwerp, you can smell the strong smell of marijuana as soon as you step out of the train station. As an Asian, this style really surprises and scares me. My Polish girlfriend was also shocked that I had never done drugs. She said: “In Europe, almost everyone has taken drugs to some extent.”
Drug smuggling is inseparable from the contribution of drug traffickers. It is said that many years ago, Moroccan gangs had a fierce gun battle in Antwerp’s Chinatown over the issue of profit distribution. But as the saying goes, “Thieves have their ways.” Before the war started, they notified the surrounding businesses not to go out at night, notified the ambulance when to collect the body, and told the police when to investigate. One of my neighbors who had participated in this street fight also “detailed his bravery” to me.
The increasingly severe social security makes Europeans feel less at ease when walking on the street, and the uncertainty of the international situation makes them scared when they return home and watch the news. As the situation in the Middle East becomes tense, pedestrians on the streets of Europe also begin to feel nervous. After the new generation of Europeans who were educated in “love and peace” grew up, they discovered that the world is not as beautiful as what school teachers preached. Now some of them are starting to shout that “fairy tales are all lies.”
The unstoppable flow of refugees
The North American continent has long been an important destination for European immigrants. But around 2020, both sides of the Atlantic have witnessed a reverse trend: According to EU statistics, the number of U.S. immigration applications received by EU countries has increased year by year in the past decade.
According to the analysis of The Economist, political divisions have led to acute social and ethnic conflicts, as well as uncontrollable gun violence. These are the main reasons why Americans choose to leave their hometowns and resettle in the “Old Continent”.
In the imagination of these Americans, Europe may be like this: from the airport in Brussels, the capital of Europe, to the Louvre in the international city of Paris, people generally live a slow-paced and even idle life. People go to work slowly, sit in the sun and sip lunch coffee, and watch artists performing opera excerpts in front of the train station…
Tranquility and peace have been a true portrayal of European society for a long time, but an explosion in 2004 changed it All this. In 2004, the “March 11 serial bombings” occurred in Madrid, which shocked the world. In 2005, the “July 7 bombings” occurred in London, and Pandora’s box was opened. France, Belgium, Germany, and Spain, these once quiet and peaceful paradises, are now covered with dark clouds.
Behind the security chaos is the refugee problem. Entering this century, more and more people with different cultures, languages, and customs have chosen to come to Europe in order to survive. In 2019 alone, Belgium hosted more than 2,000 Palestinian refugees. By the second decade of the 21st century, public opinion in EU countries began to reverse.
Mothers in Paris teach their children: If you go home alone after school, go wherever there are people. Because in Europe, there are some “righteous people” meddling in crowded places, and dead ends in big cities are often the places where vicious incidents occur.
Today, Poles complain that their country is “occupied” by Ukrainians; 5 years ago, Belgians complained that their country was “occupied” by Moroccans; 10 years ago, the French began to complain that their country was “occupied” by immigrants from French-speaking African countries. “Occupied”.
There are a large number of immigrants, some of whom work honestly and live a legal life, and have even become models of social integration advertised by the country. The outpatient doctor in our community was discovered by the police when he smuggled into the country with a fake passport. The relevant authorities thought twice before granting him refugee status. Relying on his refugee status, he studied medicine for free in Belgium and eventually became the doctor he is today.
Some people work illegally and rely on handouts to survive. Others come from extremist groups or have been educated in extremist ideas since childhood. Many of the terrorists who participated in the four attacks in France and Belgium in 2015 and 2016 grew up in Europe.
During Merkel’s tenure as German Chancellor, the EU was arguably the most tolerant of illegal immigration. With the geopolitical tensions surrounding Europe and the fact that the fertility rate of the Middle Eastern ethnic group has been outperforming white Europeans for many years, it is understandable that many EU governments have tightened refugee policies and simplified refugee repatriation procedures.
The detention of illegal refugees has caused European society to continue to be torn apart and full of contradictions. “Mohammed” was once the most commonly used name for newborns in Brussels. Afghans, Syrians, Turks, Moroccans, Algerians… Sometimes Brussels becomes a little Middle East. I once passed through a small Belgian town, where there was a family with a slogan on their window: Belgium, not Belgium.
In the “politically correct” Western European society, such remarks can only be displayed in a small town. My roommate, Watt, is Belgian and he loves discussing current politics. Once, he told me: “We in the EU are united to protect each other, but now more and more people from outside the EU are coming to us to seek asylum. They are kidnapping us with history. This is not what the EU was founded for.” Original intention. Our society is sick.” Finally, he added: “I only dare to say these words at home. Many Europeans are like me. If I say such things outside, I will be regarded as racist.” In addition
to The refugee flow, energy crisis, global epidemic, economic crisis, war and other factors have also caused the living standards of European locals to decline day by day. The hardship of life also makes more people embark on the path of illegal crime. Before the Russo-Ukrainian war, my Polish girlfriend could raise cats, travel, and live a well-off life with her salary. Now the same salary is only enough for her to pay rent. In Eastern Europe, there are some extremist groups that specifically target foreigners for violent attacks. They believe that foreign immigrants have taken away their job opportunities. However, the actions of these extremist organizations have deepened the security fears of the local people.
Compared with 20 years ago, 10 years ago, or even five years ago, more Europeans are in a state of fear and uneasiness not seen since the end of the Cold War.
No matter what the flood behind you is
American geostrategist Peter Zahn believes that the gap in fertility rates between Europe and surrounding areas determines that Europe will face the impact of refugee flows in the long term. Coupled with the countercurrent to globalization and the reshaping of global supply chains, Europe, which lacks energy resources, will also face inflationary pressures for a long time.
The combined pressures of refugees and inflation have changed the political landscape of many EU countries. In September 2022, the Italian Brotherhood Party led by Giorgia Meloni won the election, and Meloni became the first female prime minister in Italian history. In her first 100 days in office, Meloni’s approval rating remained at around 52%. To this day, she remains the head of government with the highest approval rating among EU member states. In Italy, where prime ministers change frequently, Meloni’s “honeymoon period” with the public was so long that it was rare.
Meloni, who has been called the “female version of Mussolini” by some Western media because she has always been opposed to being too tolerant of immigrants, has also inspired some other European countries with her high support rate. Entering November, Germany’s “three-party alliance” government has adopted a completely different attitude on the immigration issue than during last year’s election campaign. After meeting with the governors of various federal states, Chancellor Scholz said that Germany needs to start deporting immigrants on a “large scale” who have no right to stay in Germany, saying that there are “already too many irregular immigrants” coming to Germany.
“Europe is committing suicide.” He asserted that when many Europeans reach the end of their lives today, they may leave their descendants a Europe that is beyond recognition and cannot even be called “Europe.”
Scholz, who is moderate and left-wing, has adopted a “tough” attitude this time, which can be regarded as a watershed in the overall public opinion in Europe.
In the face of cross-border immigrants, Europeans have long dealt with them with “gentleness.” They will listen to the appeals of these immigrants, provide them with free integration courses, let them learn the language for free, and receive free vocational training. If they are unable to take the test on the specified date due to religious beliefs, they can even open a separate test for them. The teacher will also tell these immigrants how to “take advantage” to receive various subsidies. In the past, even for illegal immigrants, left-wing forces and many people would clamor to give them the right to survive and the opportunity to stay and develop in Europe.
However, years of gentle policies have not been able to effectively reduce the occurrence of vicious incidents. During the World Cup in Qatar, whenever Morocco won, their immigrants would take to the streets to celebrate and even vandalize. The semi-final between France and Morocco brought huge turmoil to Paris. Many of these Moroccan fans are already second or even third generation immigrants. Faced with the problem of “eating at the expense of others”, the silent majority are gradually no longer silent. Right-wing and even far-right parties in European countries are gaining more and more public support.
Three feet of ice does not freeze overnight. High welfare expenditures prevent the government from spending more money to improve social security. The tradition of autonomy also prevents them from building a social model that relies entirely on state power and pursues extreme security. British writer Douglas Murray wrote in the opening chapter of “The Strange Demise of Europe”: “Europe is committing suicide.” He asserted that when many Europeans reach the end of their lives today, they may leave their descendants with a world that is beyond recognition and cannot even be called Above is the Europe of “Europe”. And the process of changing the face of society is long, even by European standards.
Today, Europeans can still go to work leisurely with a cup of coffee, but facing the distant future, they are full of anxiety.