Public outrage continues to soar over the mysterious death of Italian student Giulio Regeni, whose mangled body was discovered last Wednesday on an Egyptian roadside. New information has emerged regarding Mr. Regini’s involvement with a left-wing Italian newspaper, Il Manifesto. The newspaper published an article last Friday claiming that weeks before his death, the student wrote an article for their paper under a pseudonym, criticising Egyptian President el-Sisi.
Over the years, foreigners, and even locals, who dare to express opinions in opposition to the ideas of the Egyptian government tend to find themselves imprisoned, tortured, and sometimes dead. Usually, those detained find themselves in jail or in a courtroom. This begs the question: why wasn’t Mr. Regeni jailed instead of tortured to death? The barbaric nature in which Mr. Regeni was found indicates that his death was no accident. However, even if he was writing for Il Manifesto, and even if the Egyptian government took issue with his opinions, why was he not brought in for questioning, or given his time in court? This occurrence undoubtedly heightens security risks for all foreigners travelling to Egypt. If a PhD student can end up brutally tortured to death for simply wanting to expand his academic background through field research, then are any of us really safe anymore?
On 1st February 2016, Tareena Shakil, a British woman who took her toddler to join ISIS, was jailed for six years for terrorism offences after returning from Syria. Shakil claims to have realised she made a mistake and returned of her own accord, indicating that she may have previously been indoctrinated, but became disillusioned. But is it just that she fled what she finally came to see as imprisonment, only to face further imprisonment back in her home country? It is true she broke the law, but just as the British government formulated the ‘Prevent’ strategy, surely they can come up with more effective means of dealing with failure to ‘prevent.’ One example is restorative justice, which involves reintegrating Shakil into British society rather than further ostracising her and condemning her to a life potentially as dangerous as that in Syria, and the breakdown of her family.
However, one cannot view this in a vacuum. One must consider the wider political implications of such circumstances, namely national security. It is the role of the British government to contain threats to national security, and unless incredibly thorough strategies are formulated to reintegrate ex-radicals into society safeguarding citizens’ security, people would view Shakil’s release into society as negligence of the national cause. However, it would be very costly and require great resources to enact such programmes. One must also consider what a vulnerable figure Shakil has rendered herself, and how she, too may need protection from a betrayed British society, and ISIS threats for absconding.
As ISIS continues to wage war in Iraq and Syria, and security threats persist in Afghanistan, hundreds of thousands of people continue to flee the region, seeking asylum. The xenophobia this has generated has resulted in tensions within Europe. There has been a backlash against EU countries not seen to be doing their part to help ameliorate the refugee crisis. Hungary arresting and deporting those who make it through holes in the barbed wire fence does not help the situation. Nor does the hostility displayed by the UK towards migrants trying to leave Calais in search for a better quality of life. However, it seems that we are in a catch 22 position. The German government, which only a month ago received praise for Angela Merkel’s willingness to help, is now being pressured to decrease the numbers of migrants accepted. They have begun sending more migrants back to Austria. This stems largely from the New Year’s Eve attacks on women in Cologne and other cities. Yet this week, pictures have surfaced depicting the dire situation of some who remain in Syria. An aid convoy brought the first food and medical relief for three months to the besieged town Madaya, where thousands of people are suffering malnourishment. Understandably there are risks involved in welcoming refugees, but we are honour bound to foster a peaceful attitude towards migrants, who might otherwise be suffering like those left behind in Madaya.
As tensions grow between Israelis and Palestinians, there are worries that we may be seeing the beginning of a Third Intifada. Some already call the past three months the ‘stabbing intifada.’ Since mid-October there have been near daily stabbings or car rammings, both forms of popular resistance. That these attacks have almost exclusively been in the form of stabbings is itself a consequence of the occupation. Beyond peaceful demonstration, Palestinians have few other resources or means by which to show their frustration at decades of occupation. This is in the face of disproportionate response from Israeli soldiers who instantaneously shoot dead culprits of any attacks. In the past week alone five Palestinians who either stabbed or attempted to stab Israeli soldiers were shot dead. In total 21 Israelis and one US citizen have died as a result of Palestinian attacks, while Israeli forces or armed civilians have killed at least 137 Palestinians in the same period, 87 of whom authorities described as assailants. This is not to deny Israelis the right to defend themselves in the face of attack. However, this uprising represents another call to look beyond what is happening today; to look at the bigger picture, and incur action, not only to stem the flow of these stabbings, but to work towards the promotion of peace.