Archbishop: Terror Recruitment Linked to Europe Failing Its Youth
Archbishop Silvano Tomasi told a Rimini, Italy, gathering last month, ‘As people grow up, they want to change things … and if some of these values are not provided, are not concretely realized, then the temptation to look for some other solution becomes very strong.’
RIMINI, Italy — As reports continue to emerge on Muslims born and raised in Europe being recruited by the Islamic State, the continent has been urged to reflect on how it has failed to transmit an authentic meaning of life to its youth.
“Europe should ask itself why it has failed to be able to teach these young people to organize their lives in order to build something positive in Europe, instead of wasting their lives through violence and fighting,” said Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See's permanent observer at the United Nations office in Geneva.
Archbishop Tomasi spoke with CNA Aug. 25 after his speech at the annual meeting of the ecclesial movement Communion and Liberation, which took place in the Italian city of Rimini Aug. 24-29.
In recent months, the Islamic State has conducted an online campaign in the Western world, leading to the recruitment of hundreds and thousands of young Canadians, Europeans and Americans who are volunteering to fight in the terrorist group.
At least 500 individuals from Britain have traveled to Iraq or Syria for the Islamic State, and some believe the killer of U.S. journalist James Foley last month was a British citizen.
The militant Sunni Islamist organization was among the rebels fighting in the Syrian civil war; this spring, it spread its operations to Iraq, taking control of Mosul and swaths of territory in the country’s north and west, as well as in northern Syria.
All non-Sunni persons have been persecuted by the Islamic State — tens of thousands of Christians, Yazidis and Shiite Muslims have fled the territory.
On the terrorist group’s success with younger recruits in Europe, Archbishop Tomasi stressed that the continent has failed in “injecting a spiritual dimension to motivate young people who are seeking for an idea.
“As people grow up, they want to change things, they want to fight injustice, and if some of these values are not provided, are not concretely realized, then the temptation to look for some other solution becomes very strong.”
Pope Francis has repeatedly called for peace in the region, sending a papal envoy and $1 million in funds to help refugees who have fled the violence to the neighboring Iraqi autonomous region of Kurdistan.