EU calls on Arabs to join terror fight
Plea for united front in wake of spate of attacks by jihadis
The European Union has called for an anti-terror alliance with Arab countries to boost cooperation and information-sharing in the wake of arrests and deadly attacks across Europe.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the 28-nation bloc plans to deploy security attaches with certain delegations to promote better anti-terror contacts with authorities in countries in the Middle East, the Gulf and North Africa. The EU also wants to help certain countries build the capacity to combat terrorism and improve inter-cultural understanding with Muslims, in part by developing Arabic language skills.
"We need an alliance. We need to strengthen our way of cooperating together," Mogherini told reporters as the bloc's foreign ministers met Brussels.
Some ministers emphasised the importance of working with Muslim countries, rather than blaming them for the problem of foreign fighters.
Muslim nations "will continue to be in the front line, and we have to work closely with them to protect both those countries and the European Union countries," British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said.
Ms Mogherini and some ministers also urged the European parliament to move forward on sharing airline passenger information between EU countries.
Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said the police raids in his country last week to break up a suspected network of foreign fighters demonstrated that information-sharing is the key to success. "We have to exchange information in Europe and outside Europe to really follow what is going on and to prevent any acts that could be launched on our territory," he said.
Belgium deployed the military over the weekend to guard public buildings. As the ministers met, soldiers walked the perimeter of the European Council building.
Many ministers said the real answer was to help end the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.
"That is what, long-term, will provide stability and security in this region and address the root causes of terrorism and radicalisation," said Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstroem.
Meanwhile, speaking in London British Prime Minister David Cameron accused one of Britain's main Muslim groups of having a problem yesterday after it accused ministers of behaving like the far-Right.
The Muslim Council of Britain - an umbrella body for bodies, including mosques and schools - spoke out after Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, wrote to 1,100 imams and Muslim leaders saying they must do more to root out "men of hate" who preach extremism.
However, Mr Cameron intervened, saying that the council's response showed that it - rather than Mr Pickles - had a problem.
Speaking at a factory in Ipswich, Mr Cameron said: "It's absolutely right to write this letter, to say we all have a responsibility to fight extremism.
"Anyone who reads this letter will see that what he is saying is that British Muslims make a great contribution to our country. What is happening in terms of extremist terror has nothing to do with true Islam.
"Anyone frankly reading this letter who has a problem with it I think really has a problem. It is the most reasonable, sensible, moderate letter that Eric could possibly have written.
"All of us have a responsibility to try and confront this radicalisation and make sure we stop young people being drawn into this poisonous, fanatical death cult." Mr Pickles wrote in the letter that he was "proud" of the way that Muslims in Britain had responded to events in Paris this month, but added that there was "more work to do".
He added: "Ultimately the challenges of integration and radicalisation cannot be solved from Whitehall alone. Strong community-based leadership at a local level is needed."
Harun Khan, the council's deputy secretary-general, said: "Is Mr Pickles seriously suggesting, as do members of the far-Right, that Muslims and Islam are inherently apart from British society?" Mohammed Shafiq, the chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, added that Mr Pickles's remarks were typical of a government that only looked at Muslims "through the prism of terrorism". There was support for the council from some other faith leaders, with Jonathan Sacks, the former chief rabbi, saying he understood the frustrations of Muslims at being held responsible for dealing with a problem that was beyond their control.(© Daily Telegraph London)