The seven-year old Julian Cadman joined 14 others in heaven who were killed in the terror attacks of Barcelona and Cabrils. The image of the boy, who had the dual British-Australian nationality, has been carried on front pages by many media houses.
He had been missing since the savage vehicle attack. More than 1,500 people packed the church, to show their solidarity and mourn the deaths of the victims. But there is a disturbing fact behind the solidarity. At least eight of the terrorists appear to have grown up in one small town, Ripoll. The families of the town are blaming Abdelbaki Es Satty, the imam of one of the town’s mosques, for radicalising their sons. The small community, where one in 10 residents is a migrant, is in a state of shock to discover that football-loving kids who appeared entirely comfortable with their Spanish identity set out on such a murderous course. Spain’s national cohesion faces more stress now than before.
There are plenty of people, not just in the darker corners of social media, who believe that there is a link between the terror attacks and refugees. Late last year, Europol reported Islamic State was deliberately radicalizing vulnerable refugees in order to inflame the migration crisis and turn EU citizens against refugees seeking asylum. This is the challenge that Barcelona faces now; the challenge to sustain the qualities of a cosmopolitan city. It describes itself as a ‘refugee city’ and it has a plan in place for resettlement facilities. But Barcelona’s generosity for refugees is not shared absolutely everywhere in Spain. Last week, the UN refugee agency warned the country that is struggling to cope with the 9,300 refugees who have already arrived this year to take care of this issue. This number will only increase as the route from Libya has become ever more dangerous.
The country, in the past year, has seen terror strike half a dozen European countries. The attack in Spain was still unfolding, when a man went on the rampage in the Finnish town of Turku, murdering two women. His ethnicity, like that of the Spanish terrorists, was Moroccan. These brutal murders have played a crucial part in toxicating the atmosphere against the refugees. Is it a kind of victory for the terrorists of all sides who seek to undermine Europe’s universal values?
It is high time, the world leaders devised a sure defence against young men filled with resentment and firing up with the lethal propaganda of militant Islam.