JRT: As the Islamic State continues to prove what depths of evil they are capable of reaching, some in the West - like Denmark - still feel the answer is to make nice and hope we can all just get along. With Westerners being beheaded, heads on spikes paraded through Islamic State-controlled areas and actual territory falling into terrorist hands, such naivete has never been more scary.
From the Washington Post:
AARHUS, Denmark — The rush of morning shoppers parted to make way for Talha, a lanky 21-year-old in desert camouflage and a long, religious beard. He strode through the local mall with a fighter’s gait picked up on the battlefields of Syria. Streams of young Muslim men greeted him like a returning king.
Wa alaikum assalaam.
In other countries, Talha — one of hundreds of young jihadists from the West who has fought in Syria and Iraq — might be barred from return or thrown in jail. But in Denmark, a country that has spawned more foreign fighters per capita than almost anywhere else, the port city of Aarhus is taking a novel approach by rolling out a welcome mat.
In Denmark, not one returned fighter has been locked up. Instead, taking the view that discrimination at home is as criminal as Islamic State recruiting, officials here are providing free psychological counseling while finding returnees jobs and spots in schools and universities. Officials credit a new effort to reach out to a radical mosque with stanching the flow of recruits.
Some progressives say Aarhus should become a model for other communities in the United States and Europe that are trying to cope with the question of what to do when the jihad generation comes back to town.
For better or worse, this city’s answer has left the likes of Talha wandering freely on the streets. The son of moderate Muslim immigrants from the Middle East, he became radicalized and fought with an Islamist brigade in Syria for nine months before returning home last October. Back on Danish soil, he still dreams of one day living in a Middle Eastern caliphate. He rejects the Islamic State’s beheading of foreign hostages but defends its summary executions of Iraqi and Syrian soldiers.
“I know how some people think. They are afraid of us, the ones coming back,” says Talha, a name he adopted to protect his identity because he never told his father he went to fight. “Look, we are really not dangerous.”
Yet critics call this city’s soft-handed approach just that — dangerous. And the effort here is fast becoming a pawn in the much larger debate raging across Europe over Islam and the nature of extremism. More and louder voices here are clamoring for new laws that could not only charge returnees with treason but also set curbs on immigration from Muslim countries and on Islamic traditions such as religious circumcision.
In a country that vividly remembers the violent backlash in the Muslim world after a Danish newspaper published cartoon images of the prophet Muhammad in 2006, many here want Aarhus to crack down on — not cajole — extremists.
“They are being much too soft [in Aarhus], and they fail to see the problem,” said Marie Krarup, an influential member of Parliament from the Danish People’s Party, the country’s third-largest political force. “The problem is Islam. Islam itself is radical. You cannot integrate a great number of Muslims into a Christian country.”Continue reading here